Friday, May 31, 2019

In the Flow

I've read and thought about the coveted "flow state" as it relates to thought-work, but my sessions with my new therapist have made me realize that its really the ideal for all aspects of life.

I was talking to her about the past weekend, and how it was glorious. Sure, some of it was just regular ol' good planning and the fact that it was my birthday and G unofficially gifted me a chore-free weekend. But I also just felt more present with my kids and fully immersed in the moment. I wasn't thinking about what was ahead or ruminating on what happened before...and it made each moment much more relaxed and refreshing.

I've been noticing this during my clinic sessions as well. Sometimes it just flows well and I feel like I'm giving each patient my full attention and meeting their needs and the day flies by, and sometimes I get hung up and derailed by little annoyances, delays, or a bad interaction and I'm counting down until the end of the day. If I can let it go (easier said then done!), or just table it until I have the bandwidth to think about it more clearly, I can be more effective AND actually enjoy the work.

Even in my morning workout class yesterday, I caught myself thinking about my to-do list and mindlessly doing the exercise and I forced myself to really pay attention and make each rep count.

I get that this is nothing groundbreaking and is just rehashing the trite concepts of "mindfulness" and "being present" that are part of the current zeitgeist, but something did click for me. As I plan my summer goals (today!) I am going to think about how to best incorporate this intention.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Berry Season

As Laura says, "the berry season is short". So you gotta jump in and enjoy it before its gone!

The kids had the day off Tuesday for primary elections, and I had the forethought to take the day off in advance so we could have some springtime fun. We crossed off "strawberry picking" from our list and are now savoring pounds & pounds of perfectly red, ripe, juicy, & sweet berries. We couldn't have asked for a better day for it either---sunny with a slight chill, and no crowds at all given the random weekday off.

I've been spending as much time as possible outdoors. The friends trip last weekend was even more fun than I'd hoped for---the play was amazing, the weather was suddenly warm and sunny, and we walked miles and miles and miles and ate and drank as much as it was humanly possible to ingest in 2 days.

We've been heading to the park before or after dinner every night, and while its a struggle to get the boys to ever leave, and bedtime has been pushed back more than I'd normally like,  seeing the entire neighborhood gathered together with kids of all ages playing pickup sports and massive games of tag until the sun goes down is so deeply satisfying.

My birthday weekend is coming up, and I've planned a few "anchor events", and also left some time for chilling out that we all seem to need.  We have a date night out, dinner with friends, family brunch, and some non-food-related outings as well! I've got my workouts on the calendar and I've also scheduled a much much needed haircut (its been over 2 years and suddenly looking terrible with split ends, breakage, and frizz). I never remember nor want to spend time and money for "trims", I let it grow and grow and then get it short when I am ready for a radical change. 

I may also need to make some kind of strawberry dessert with the leftovers...any recommendations?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Hooray! A sunny day after several days of rain (and cold! in May! yuck). I also slept pretty well last night (the other nights this week have been terrible) and have been much more productive today.
I'm writing this in an unexpected chunk of time waiting for a patient I fit in on my non-clinic day as a favor.

Anyways. The weekend was fine. Saturday was busy out of the house,  doing kid activities and Sunday was dreary and spent almost entirely at home. The boys had their last race of the 5-week running series which was actually fun, since we have a bunch of friends there, and G ran the parent mile (as did B, after already doing his 1/2 mile race, and he kept up too!) The did the awards and both boys placed! L was first place in his 1/4 mile and B was 3rd in the 1/2 mile. I love the running series so much.

I had some one-on-one time with B which I haven't had in a long long time and we both enjoyed going to lunch and the library before his eye appointment. On Sunday G cooked us a brunch which was yummy, and I had the forethought to book a sitter for Sunday night so we could go out for a fairly quick but nice dinner. We made it home just in time for GoT which...ugh. Lets just leave that for now.

VERY excited about this weekend. Actually taking Friday off and taking the train to bigcity to watch a show with friends. We are staying the night and will brunch and hang out Saturday and get home late enough that most people's kids will be asleep (not mine). And then another 3 day weekend next week which includes my birthday! Not sure how we will spend those 3 days, but I did book a sitter & make a reservation at a place we've been wanting to try for a while.

The other VERY exciting thing about this weekend is that it looks like its not going to rain. So we can go to the park, or just hang out in the backyard, and even doing errands is WAY BETTER without  rain boots & umbrellas. The kids have off next Tuesday as well for primary elections, and I took that day off and if the weather still looks OK we will plan an outdoor adventure to either the zoo or a farm (I don't quite think its berry season yet?)

I am also hoping to get a "me day" or at least half day sometime this month to get a pedicure, haircut (been 2 years, and though I like the long length, I've been noticing split ends), and do a little shopping. I try to do this every year around/on my birthday.

Alright! Patient here, more later!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday Faves

Continuing on the positivity theme...some things I'm loving lately.

Two books I've read recently: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and Evicted by Matthew Desmond. The first is fiction and the concept just blew my mind, though the first story was a little raw and tough to get through. The second is non-fiction and really opened my eyes to the systemic injustice of housing inequality. It was depressing and infuriating how the system is set up to keep people from rising themselves up, by continuing to kick them lower down the ladder.

Game of Thrones Season 8. Yes, I'm basic. I'm continuing to revel in unabashed fandom, and for once being part of the cultural conversation. While I vehemently disagree with some of the story/character decisions for this season, I can still enjoy the hell out of watching & critiquing the episodes! We rewatched select episodes, and I listened to all the Binge Mode podcast to prepare, which makes it extra fun.

Madewell. I seriously want almost EVERYTHING on their website. I am loving my new super-high-rise button front jeans, and change into my cropped flare relaxed fit jeans (I sized up so they are SOOO comfy) practically every evening after work.  I got a birthday $20 off birthday coupon and want to go to the actual store to get a cute top.

Over-the-ear bluetooth headphones. My ear canals are weird, I can't wear regular earbuds because they hurt & fall out, so I've had cheap-o ones I plug in (and that fall apart every few months so that over the course of several years I've probably spent way too much on them....) so G finally convinced me to spring for these Jabra move ones. the sound is amazing, I love that I can put my phone down somewhere when I'm doing housework, and I suspect they will last much longer than the cheapies. Perfect for podcast listening!

Our new family iMac. With nice largish screen so working from home is not so tough on my eyes (the tiny MacBook Air had me constantly squinting and zooming in to see things!) The cordless keyboard and mouse have a charger, which I don't have in my office, so I need to make sure I always have a stash of AAA batteries.

Happy weekend (and Happy Mother's Day to those who celebrate*).

*I kinda hate those obligation-ridden holidays (getting stuff for my mom and MIL and then listening to MIL sigh and complain that we aren't there with her...) so...meh. I booked a sitter Sunday night for a date night and asked G to get a bottle of prosecco we can have with lunch. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Planning ahead

In addition to the fun stuff I'm trying to sprinkle onto our calendar, I also have to do a major revamp of my work schedule. I suspect the following will be interesting to no one but myself but its helping me think this through---and if you have any tips/hacks or opinions on the matter I'm happy to have them before I set anything in stone.

The "stressful thing" I was vague-blogging about is basically more clinical time due to lack of funding, including 2 days/month in a suburban clinic about an hour drive away.

I found out about this last week, and initially freaked out, but some time/distance helped with perspective as usual, and I'm actually using the opportunity to rethink and make changes to the rest of my schedule as well.

Currently I'm at about 50% clinic and I'm going up to 70%, which means 6 more 1/2 days per month and 2 additional weeks of consults/call (I was at 4, going to 6). The other 30% is internal grant funded research time that is only guaranteed for the upcoming academic year. I need to spend that 30% of my time writing grants & papers, meeting with collaborators, and inputing/analyzing data from ongoing projects.

I've realized over the past couple of months that I am happier/less stressed when I can leave from work before 5 pm most days---it feels like I HAVE an evening, rather than jumping directly into dinner/bedtime routine.  I do not mind scheduled evening hours on occasion, when I can plan for them. I don't mind coming in early; on the days I come in at 9 after dropping my kids off to school at 8:30 it feels much more rushed and like I'm already behind.

I am considering leaving 100% the AM to G and starting at/before 8 AM all days. This will mean I don't get to see my kids at all in the morning. It also means I don't have to deal with their shenanigans   and just having myself to handle first thing, which...sounds kinda great. I am just more focused and productive in the morning which means its easier for me to get work done but I also have less patience for the boys' messing around since I'm ready to get going and get.s&%t.done.

For the satellite clinic, starting early/ending early will also help with traffic/parking so is 100% necessary. For the local days, it still feels good to be done and have a buffer at the end of the day. 7:30/8 to 4/4:30 would be ideal for me, in terms of actually having to be IN the clinic, with the caveat that I'll likely have to do catch up on notes at the end of the day or in the evenings. To accommodate patients who need later visits, I was planning to add on 2 days/month where I stay late (until 6:30-7).

I'm also trying to have my days be either/or clinic or research rather than split in half. I'm just MUCH less productive on those days, maybe because I feel like I've already done/will do the clinical work so I can slack a bit? I know these are just my own weird issues, but I have to work with what I've got.

I printed out a month calendar and grabbed a pencil and have been experimenting with different options and think I've found something that may work!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Shaking off the Blahs

After months of being stress and exhausted, and just dealing with one (minor) crisis after another, I am so ready to just...have a little fun? 

Trying to plan more outings on the weekends and weekend evenings because I'm tired of being in the house. Trying to say yes more often than no, and let things slide with the kids. Also just trying to push the easy button on stuff (which often does mean exchanging $ for time/energy). 

We tried out the after school babysitter and its frankly amazing and seems well worth the $$$. The day she came last week she took the kids to the park after snack and homework and I met them there and we stayed for a couple more hours, enjoying the rare sunny warm day. I am definitely going to arrange this set-up for next year and I've already booked an after-camp sitter for the summer so we aren't all trudging home hot and hangry at 5pm. I can come home at 5:30-6 as usual and the kids will be relaxed and fed. 

If we do this method, we will have to hold off on hiring a new cleaning person, but seriously, the house cleaning has NOT been bad at all. I can put on my headphones and listen to a podcast and clean all the bathrooms in 45 minutes or so, which we do every other week, and we dust/vacuum whenever we feel like it (i.e. someone is coming over, or there are literal dog hair tumbleweeds blowing around). We are teaching the kids how to take over some of this stuff too...they should be able to run a brush around the toilet or sponge down a sink...its a work in progress but its a long game that will hopefully pay off down the road! 

I'm also experimenting with a "no food rules"/intuitive eating mindset. Because the rules were just making me rebel against them. Even if it doesn't work to keep my weight stable longterm, it will at least be fun? Yesterday I felt like having some wine while I cooked dinner. Usually I don't drink on weekdays, except when I do and end up having 2-3 (generous) glasses. I poured myself about 2 oz and then a refill and then was done and switched to water with dinner and felt totally satisfied. Plus, if I didn't have the wine, I would've snacked all through the process but this time I didn't even think about eating until we all sat down for dinner.

Instead of weekday lunches being salad & raw veggies until I start craving (and indulge in) a large burrito from the cafeteria or some ridiculous food cart meal, I am switching it up with...whatever we have or can easily get that appeals to me. I have a Middle Eastern style bowl today with TJ's falafel, cauliflower tahini, hummus, feta, harissa and a pita bread that I'm SO excited about---all with leftovers in our fridge. I've been eating when I'm hungry, which is pretty much never in the morning, and then somewhere between 11-1 for lunch and right after work for dinner. If I happen to be hungry, though, I'll eat breakfast. No deprivation and no going hungry just for kicks. 

Minor thing, but I also deleted all the educational-type podcasts (Planet Money, Hidden Brain) and the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians (which was starting to annoy me) and I'm just indulging in ear candy (BingeMode, PopCast, Happier, By the Book... and BoBW of course). 

I've scheduled some date nights and friend nights later this month to have things to look forward to, and I'm also adding some fun to our summer kid-free calendar.  And we have Mother's Day and my birthday this month which I still need to plan (because if I don't, no one will!)

Basically I feel like a need a vacation and since I can't take a real one, I'm trying to bring some vacation vibes into our life. Just writing this made me happy by the way! 

Thursday, May 2, 2019


OMG, what a month. We had MIL here for 3 weeks, followed immediately by my family, and then work travel for me. AND just when we thought it was all over and we could relax, I got the flu. I actually traveled and gave a talk while I had the flu. It sucked. And while I was gone, G got the flu too. And developed pneumonia on top of it. He's on his 2nd round of antibiotics and finally afebrile and went to work today for the first time in 2 weeks.

I basically had to scale back to only doing what was 100% absolutely necessary for survival/keeping my job. Which...turns out to still be exhausting when you are horribly sick. I'm finally feeling better (but still pretty wiped out). I went to a barre class today and it was...tough...but doable. I'm easing back into exercise and other claims on my energy.

I am really really looking forward to a weekend with no one sick and no extra family in our house. It was MID-MARCH when we last had that.

I found out (today) that my schedule is changing substantially for the next year (beginning in July) and I'm trying really hard not to spiral into despair. Meticulous planning & time management will be needed, thankfully I'm pretty good at those things, but still. I feel tired just thinking about it.

Lots of posts about weight/body image/food/etc... in my feeds lately. I actually enjoyed NOT WORRYING ABOUT IT when I was sick, which is pretty sad if you think about it.

I've gone back to my new therapist 2 more times and its been...somewhat eye-opening. I vacillate between feeling like the therapy will help me uncover and work through some deep-seated issues to being embarrassed that I expend all this time/energy on my privileged-middle-age-mommy first-world-problems. I'm sure it will surprise exactly no one that it turns out I have wide streaks of perfectionism and people-pleasing that may be getting in my own way. All the list-making and habit-tracking and self-improving may actually stem from a lifelong feeling of not being good enough/nice enough/thin enough/smart enough...just not being ENOUGH.

So we are working on acceptance. And "self-love". And as much as it makes me may be the right way to go because it sure feels better than listening to the critical bitch that lives in my head.