Monday, September 29, 2014

Ups and Downs

Despite the recent challenges I've been chronicling here, life is overall pretty good. I like the fall season, so much more laid back and expectation-free than summer. The kids are infuriating a lot of the time, but there are glimpses of real sweetness speckled throughout the day where I am amazed by their personalities and their relationship together.

The other night bedtime took twice as long as usual because they wanted to race down the stairs, L on his belly super-fast, and B bumping along slowly on his bottom. Then they held hands and went "round and round" until L fell down (always L) and cried. Then got up and wanted to do it again. Then I told B he was getting a time out (for swinging L around so hard he hit his head on the bed frame), and they ran off and shut themselves in the time-out room together (all the while giggling and shrieking "TOGETHER!!!"). L told B he wanted to sleep with him in his bed and B's face lit up like nothing I've ever seen...only to become sobbing and crestfallen when L changed his mind and went into his own bed to sleep.

The other morning we were all late getting ready because when I mentioned that L's goal for the day was not to have any accidents (he'd been accident free for >6 months when suddenly  he's been having accidents of the gross variety every morning). B got into the idea of "goals" and we each had to list and write down, and review over and over our 7 goals for the day. There were 4 universal goals:
  • Keep underwear clean
  • Don't yell or hurt
  • Try hard and learn
  • Listen
B added the following: eat a proper dinner, behave during stories at night, and don't pee in bed at night. L just kept repeating "my goal is not to poop my pants". It was actually kind of sad.

My MIL was here for 2 weeks. That was stressful in many ways, but this time we planned ahead and took full advantage and got a night away on the full weekend she was here! We left Saturday after swimming/dance class and came back Sunday before dinner. It was SO NICE to not have any worries about the time and to have enough time to do fun things but also to simply walk around and talk. It was that talk that prodded me to a) call the doctor to get referrals for therapists for my anxiety and b) start working very tentatively on changing my work situation (its a 5 year plan right now, but even THINKING about the plan is such a huge relief, its re-energizing). 

Part of my visit to my doctor also involving a discussion on some long-standing health issues. She ordered some testing which has so far come back normal, and also suggested trying the FODMAPS diet which is a seemingly random list of things to avoid, including beans, wheat/barley/rye, and high-lactose dairy but also certain fruits & veggies.  Monday will be Day 1 of that. I've planned out my breakfast (fried egg + gluten-free waffle), lunch (salad with lettuce, red bell pepper, shredded carrots, olives, home-made balsamic vinaigrette, and toasted walnuts) and dinners (baked lemon caper fish with wild rice and kale; hard tacos with chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and cheddar cheese; quinoa with stir-fried tofu and veggies). My plan is to do it strictly for 2 weeks and see how I feel, and then add back in things I don't think are issues for me (onions and garlic, wheat, apples) one at a time and see how it goes. I know that a large part of my gut issues are related to anxiety, but just these past few months I've been having issues even outside of high stress times, and I think certain foods my be to blame (a lot of summer fruits are on the FODMAPS no-no list, and I've been eating TONS of those).

L's birthday is coming up and I'm waiting for accurate weather reports before we plan the weekend, but it will be low-key as befits a budding 3 year old who still needs long naps and lots of snuggle time. We are planning (already booked car and hotel) a trip for Thanksgiving just to get out of town and NOT visit family.  We are also planning our holiday travel, after waiting too long last year and ending up paying too much for horrible flights not on the days we wanted.

One of my best friends just moved away. I'm thankful I got to attend all of the many going away events held in her honor. I will really really  miss her, we had lots of deep talks over lunch or wine and weekend brunch and shopping trips---we joked that we were pretty much the same person, we had so much in common. I am super excited for her and a bit wistful for that exciting time in life---all in one year she's had a wedding, got a great job (faculty position straight out of a pretty short post-doc!) and a move to a brand-new exciting location. Its brought back memories of when G and I moved up here, knowing no one, sleeping on the floor until our stuff came in and exploring the neighborhoods. It was really a fun time in our relationship. We realized that if we treated the changes in our life now with the same sense of adventure, I think it'd serve to bring us closer together rather than tear us apart.

That's whats been going on around here these days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Add and Subtract

In trying to clarify the bigger picture of what I want my life to look like in 1, 2, 5, 10 years, I am also noticing some small changes I want to make. Notably, there are things I want LESS of and things I want MORE of; there are also, obviously, some things that are just right.

Things I want to reduce:
  •  Internet consumption (I use this word specifically to refer to "surfing" or reading things that are not impacting or influencing my life; reading and commenting on your blogs is different, as is using the internet as a source to learn or get ideas) 
  • Alcohol (I've actually done this, spurred by a nasty stomach bug 2 weeks ago...I just don't WANT the wine with dinner anymore, though I will want/have some if I'm out or being social)
  • Multi-tasking 
  • Procrastination
  • TV (I don't watch a lot, but for a while it was how G & I spent most of our limited time together)
Things I want to increase:
  • Spending time connecting with people I like (this includes my husband!)
  • Sleep
  • Making things (cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, painting---something---I'm not crafty and the final product will not be Pinterest-worthy, but I've recently realized that it is really soothing to work with my hands and occupy my brain with something other than work and worries)
  • Daydreaming---this seems strange, but I want my mind to wander when I'm waiting instead of immediately reaching for my phone. I've forgotten how to just BE with myself, its so easy to just pull out the phone and distract myself.
Things that are good and I hope to continue:
  • Reading
  • Writing here---I thought about shutting down the blog, as I way to reduce Internet time, but turns out I spend minimal time here. A few posts a week, a little back-and-forth on comments. THIS is not what is sucking my life away.
  • Exercise. I'm currently loving my high-intensity group workouts. LOVE. It is so f=ing hard that I can't even think for the 30 minutes I'm in the class. I want to continue going to 2-3 classes/week with a short run on the weekends doing intervals. 
  • Time with kids. I get a lot of time with my boys despite working full time. We have mornings, evenings and weekends to hang out. I don't want more and I don't want less.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting at the root

Thanks for your comments on the last post. I actually agree with Sarah, that I need to think clearly about what I want and may need to make big changes to achieve that. Defining what I want is harder than it seems. It involves a level of honesty with myself that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Out of necessity to get through the day, and a misguided idea that happiness could be created solely through a positive attitude, I've gotten used to covering up what I really want and feel and there are a lot of layers there.

One of the unifying themes I see in my life is the inability to be where I am, to focus and fully experience my life---whether at work or at home. I am so averse to feeling anything slightly uncomfortable that I quickly distract myself from any anxious or sad feelings. The behaviors that I really want to change are all responses to anxiety.

I have begun to waste a LOT of time on unfulfilling internet sites, online shopping, and stupid games on my phone. As soon as I feel a tiny flicker of anxiety, I pull my phone out of my pocket, or pop open the browser on my computer to just spend a few minutes (which obviously never lasts JUST a few minutes) until the feeling passes. The more I need to get done, of course, the more anxious I get, the more time I waste, the more anxious I feel, the more I need to distract....its an addiction of sorts.

 Before I can get anywhere, I need to figure out a healthier, sustainable way of dealing with my anxiety. I've tried visualization techniques, breathing, meditation---I can't seem to get anything to stick on my own so I know I need help. My recent experience with trying to find a therapist simply by searching through the listings on my insurance website was so frustrating and time-consuming that I'm getting help with that, too. I have an appointment tomorrow AM with my primary care doctor, and I strongly believe she will have some good referrals (because she is incredibly experienced and smart, and always seems to have the right suggestions).

Friday, September 19, 2014


I haven't written in a while. There are lots of reasons for this, most of which I'll ignore right now. But one is that I'm tired of writing the same problems and the same hopeful solutions over and over again.

I snap at my kids. I'm unfocused at work. I could use more connection with my spouse. I need a new hobby. I waste too much time on the internet. I could eat healthier and lose a few pounds. I need more friends.

If you go through my archives you will see these themes repeated over and over and over. And my posts are always full of potential solutions. And I try them. I really do. I  have the best of intentions. And isn't that what life is? Trying to be better, day after day? In the trying is the living, right?


The constant trying and not getting anywhere is failure. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how hard I try, if I can't make tangible changes. My kids don't care that I try not to yell at them. My superiors at work certainly don't care that I am thinking up new strategies for productivity. My husband doesn't care that I plan to be communicative and loving. And my body doesn't care how much I think about eating better and research the pros and cons of various diets.

All the plans and thoughts and strategies in my head are worthless if not executed. Its the results that matter...the actual PRODUCT that leaves your head and actually impacts others and the world.

I don't know what the answer is, but I suspect it involves getting out of my head and back onto the ground. I need to stop trying so hard and just start doing. How do I change this about myself? I have no idea. Even at my busiest or my happiest, I always seem to make time for analysis and over thinking. I want to try to lead, if not an unexamined, at the very least a less examined life.

And to actually get somewhere on this path instead of running in circles.