Peace

I found out I was pregnant with our second child in early July, just a week after I wrote Lean In: Year End. We had tried for just over half a year for Jackson, and while in hindsight it is clear that is not long at all, I will never forget the aching pain my heart felt all those months. In striking comparison, this time Glenn and I were looking at that second beautiful pink line just three weeks after we began trying. Three weeks when I had been preparing myself mentally for at least a year’s worth of disappointment. Needless to say, we were both absolutely and thoroughly delighted (if not thoroughly shocked. Did I mention we were shocked? We were shocked.)

Despite my joy the sudden pregnancy really threw me through a loop for months and only recently have I finally felt like I’ve caught my standing. Part of it, I think, is that I now feel my little boy kicking inside me. He has a name, Jacob, and he is mine. However, I would be remiss to not acknowledge that I’m still transitioning mentally with who I am as an individual. In the beginning months this was much harder- I felt sick and bloated and I didn’t have tangible proof of his existence. Instead, planning to take off work during a busy time, knowing I wouldn’t be able to attend two semesters of classes since my due date was right in between them and could go either way, and eating only what I could stomach (often unhealthy) and less exercise (and the resulting weight gain) made me feel like I was sliding back on everything I had worked towards this past year and all the achievements I’ve made. At the end of the day I was struggling to just make dinner and do dishes before putting Jackson (and myself) to bed. I had just found a balance where I could take time to do things for myself, like read a book or do a yoga class, but now I didn’t have the will nor energy. I felt like I had just barely grasped a sense of personal freedom and then lost it as soon as my fingers closed around it.

This is in no way whatsoever blaming my child. However, I felt almost instantly transported back to how I felt in the early days with Jackson, at least mentally. My body, heavy with hormones and other people’s expectations, once again was strongly affecting what I could or could not do.

And at the very beginning of this whirlwind is where I began my search for this year’s theme. The theme that helps me gain focus every year and gives me drive to do more and better. I’m going to be honest, I just barely feel like I’m on stable ground right now. It’s like I’ve been spinning in circles, have just stopped, and am expected to run straight forward. I now can feel the whomps and kicks inside of me, have an obvious baby bump so that I and those around me know the weight gain has been put to good use, and am more prepared for this next year- but to be honest, I still feel like I’m looking forward to at least a year of just making it. I don’t know if it’s because of my experience with Jackson or that I don’t know what to expect from a life with two, but it’s definitely daunting.

I know all the wonderful things I will experience- the life changing, heart gripping love for my child, the soft little fuzzy head, watching my son become a brother and his relationship flourish- and this is what keeps me grounded when I get nervous or scared about anything else.

All this to say that this year, I’m going to dedicate myself to just three intensely personal goals. I also strive (and do not always hit my goal) of being a dedicated mother, wife, and worker- but these are for me as an individual.

  1. Eat Healthy: I’m going to be honest here that I texted my husband at 9pm last night to bring me a burger and fries. Not my smartest moment (albeit wonderfully satisfying), but since I entered the second trimester I have been making healthier choices on a daily basis. There are still numerous pastries and junk food being eaten, but I at least know that I’m nourishing my body for the most part. Looking forward I hope to keep up this habit, and if possible become even better at it (aka- no late night burgers).
  2. Do What Must Be Done: This one is pretty broad and applies to pretty much anything. Dishes, looming projects at work, life insurance, etc. Over the past year there are various things that I’ve been really good at keeping on top of, and then there’s the living trust that has sat unfinished for three months now. I need to stay true and just finish these things so they don’t get that power of hanging over my head.
  3. Accept My Body As It Is Right Now: This is, by far, the most difficult for me at this moment. I know, this sounds horrible. I’m creating life- it’s beautiful! Except I don’t feel that way when I’m looking in the mirror. The feeling of the little boy kicking inside my stomach is mind blowingly wonderful, but the reflection of my enlarging and yet still flabby belly is hard to look at sometimes. I know, that’s pretty much heresy in today’s world. Having worked so hard and so long at losing weight last year, it was so difficult to watch the numbers creep up on my scale every week. At least now it’s obvious that I’m pregnant and people don’t just think that I’m eating too many cookies (which I am too, admittedly.) It is also likely that I’m feeling partially this way because I stopped doing much of the exercise I was before the pregnancy, so I will make it a point to start reintroducing these slowly. But if I can’t fully, I still need to accept my body at the moment, and that’s certainly a goal I will have to work toward.

Five months later and I still haven’t been able to find a word that sums up what I want to strive for myself this year. Dedication? Determination? Acceptance? Nothing applies to everything I want to accomplish, and moreover the things I want to accomplish are pretty vague compared to the last year.

Perhaps Peace. Work hard to accomplish what I want, but finding peace when I’m unable to. Peace with where my life is right now and the fact that it’s about to get a little crazy. Peace that my body is changing but for the very best reason. Peace that sleep will soon be very limited and personal time even more so- but knowing that this is the briefest period of time and one that I will want to return to for the rest of my life. Peace with where I am.

Things bringing me joy this week

The perfect chocolate croissant and coffee in the early morning.

The pinkish hues popping up everywhere lately.

Talking with my Tootsie and feeling transported back to dorm nights when life was full of carefree happiness and self-reflection.

Rubbing my sleeping son’s chubby little baby toddler feet in the palm of my hand.

Asking Glenn if he would still hold my hand when we’re old and wrinkly and him responding, “I solemnly promise to always hold your hand.”

I’m still working on my “theme” for this year. I haven’t quite found a word (or phrase) that encompasses everything I want to work on, but I’m getting there. Until then, I figure I’ll just bask in the things that bring me joy.

Lean In: Year End

Summertime has always been my period of “newness.” New Year’s Day doesn’t hold much meaning to me, I like the celebration but the resolutions seem ill placed in the year (though fun things like bucket lists are totally acceptable). It’s likely because my birthday falls in July, but I have found over the years that this is the perfect time to reflect on who I am in that moment and take stock of the good and not so good. It is also when I set a plan for the next year.

Fitting, then, that last year is when I took a good hard look at how I was living and decided that I was not happy with where I found myself. Jack had just had his first birthday, and Glenn and I discussed trying to conceive again by his next birthday. To say I was not ready is an understatement. I had carried so many issues through the years, and while Jack’s birth brought infinite happiness and love to my life, frankly- I still needed to deal with my personal shit before I could be ready for another.

So one night, while holding a sleeping baby in my arms, I made a list on my phone of everything that was plaguing me. Everything that quietly troubled me when everyone else was asleep. And I decided it was time.

After weeks of reflection, I was finally able to give that list a name, a word that helped me face it all and finally deal with it. “Lean In” became my motto. Lean into everything that scares me, Lean into the hard things, Lean into the things that will take time, Lean into it all.

And I can honestly say with 100% certainty that this year has been one of my personal best years in a very long time. I have not been perfect this year, I am still learning, I have taken things up and then set them down after a time, but I am happy with where I am standing- far further along than where I was last year.

So, for my personal record- I am putting here the list I made that night with a much smaller boy in my arms. And then I’m going to delete it from my notepad and close my 31st year all the while looking towards the much brighter one ahead.

Before I have another baby:

1. Lose weight and get in shape; find a way to fit exercise into my daily schedule and learn to say no again to things I don’t need and don’t really want.

This time last year I felt absolutely unhealthy. I had spent my “birthday month” eating and drinking too much, and my body felt gross. I was lethargic and greasy and felt like I had no control whatsoever. So on July 31, I decided it was time. I wasn’t going to go crazy on a strict diet and exercise routine, I knew that it wouldn’t last. Instead, I started in the laziest way I could possibly start because I knew that’s the only way that would stick. I calorie counted, though most days I would eat enough calories to just hit maintenance, not actually lose weight. But I started adding more vegetables and healthy foods to my day, and as time progressed I got better at eating a calorie deficient. In fall, I finally asked one of my coworkers if I could join her in walking the stairs. At only 15 minutes a day, it was a far cry from the recommended daily exercise, but it was more than I had been willing to do before, and that was one more step in the right direction. As of July, I am down over 30 pounds, just shy of a weight (and my final goal) I haven’t reached in over a decade and completed a long-term goal to do a week of yoga classes every day. I still have to practice saying no to things I don’t actually need, but I am so much better than I was last year, and I’m grateful I built up that ability over time. I am happy with my body today.

2. Define my career: Apply for jobs, look into possible classes, and decide my five-year plan. Do I want to go back to school? If so, shall I stay where I am for the second baby and go to school so I can start a new career after the child is 1? Do I try to continue in editing? If so, what direction should I take?

Coming to terms with my career is the most important thing that I accomplished this year. While my health is number one physically, I spent over a decade questioning and worrying about what my life would be like career wise. I also spent so much of that time constantly engaged in this concept of being an imposter, with this terror that someday someone would find out that I’m not good enough and my life would be ruined.

So many events from this year have helped me get to where I am now. I broke down in front of my husband one night and confessed how terrified I was about it all. He had never heard me talk about it, so deep was my shame and anxiety, but once he did he put my fears to rest by his sheer love and faith in me. My son, who had witnessed my breakdown, toddled over and rested his hand on my cheek. I felt even worse for a second, having made him concerned, but Glenn even took this moment and changed it into something special- relaying that it was good for Jack to see me deal with my emotion and life challenges, that in doing so he would also learn to deal with them.

Having my husband’s and son’s faith in me, I turned outward. I finally took the steps to talk to people in the area I believed I would work well in. I reached out to family friends, including a manager of the department I would want to work in and spent much needed time asking everything I could about the position and how I could work my way into that career. The manager suggested a program I had already been looking into, albeit reluctantly at first, and it gave me the drive to begin it. I am now in my second class and doing quite well. I still have two years to go, but I am happy to do it- I’m developing my skills for the future at the same time as I’m learning new things to help me in my position now.
Finally, I began therapy (3) and this also led to a huge breakthrough in January. I relayed my same fears to her over a couple sessions and it finally came to a head when I realized that I was worth it. That the imposter syndrome was in my head. I am still young and still learning, but I am willing to learn, and that makes all the difference. I still have days when I question myself, but so often now I am reminded that my work is valid and useful.

I am so lucky to have the job I’ve had for these past five years. I don’t want to go anywhere, and if given the choice- I won’t. I love my job and those I work with. But I won’t fear (as much at least), the possibility that one day I will have to move on. The economy has become harder to find a job, but I am hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. As of today, I enjoy my work and am making myself better with every action I take.

3. Go to therapy and get over this I’m not worthy shit and the whole hospital trauma. Deal with this once and for all.

I can’t say that I am at peace with what happened to Jack, nor what happened to my dear friend and her son. I don’t think that it’s something that I will be able to resolve completely, truthfully. The difference is that I have taken this year and talked about my experience. I talked about it so much, and with everyone, that was willing to listen. And after a year, I am willing to go through pregnancy and birth again- something I could not have done last year. Not everything in life is able to be tied up with a pretty bow at the end of the day. I still smell hospital soap and cringe, I still feel a deep ache when I think of that time, and I still fear what this next birth will be like- or whether we will have to face any number of heartbreaks. But I am willing to try. Jack is worth all that ache and more, and my next child will be worth it all too.

4. Become the best editor I can at work so I can be confident that I’m a hard worker. Don’t allow myself to screw around and be diligent about all my duties so I know that I am a vital part of my group. Push myself to be aware and learn new things.

This was very much part of #2 in retrospect but also focused more on my day to day activities and how they worked in conjunction with my imposter syndrome. I am not perfect, and I want to continue to strive to be better. This year, however, has been a great one. I’ve accomplished so much, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done. And this next year I will learn even more and become even better. I have so many people to look up to, mostly my own mother and mother-in-law, and I want my own children to see me and respect who I am as a worker just as much as I respect them. That is my long term goal and one I know I will reach.

5. Get yours and Glenn’s finances into order. Grow up and stop spending so much on shit we don’t need.

This is one that I took over in March of this past year. We went on a massive financial diet in April and May, though in June I let go (it is the month of celebrations, as everything in our lives occurs that month pretty much.) July has been better, but admittedly, I do need to pick this up again. Nevertheless, we’ve saved enough for a new roof, and this is a major accomplishment.

6. Redirect your want of recognition to wanting it from yourself. You don’t need to show off.

This is definitely something I’m still working on. I have always been someone who likes to know that I’m doing well, getting an “A” in life. But slowly I’m learning that it really doesn’t matter what other people think, it’s how I know I am doing. Nevertheless, this is definitely one of those things that will take me longer to put into practice.

7. Breathe in Jack as my only baby for now.

All day, every day. This year has been the year of toddlerdom- and the tantrums that come with it, but I love every day with him. All I can think is how big he seems, yet that he is actually still so small. I try to soak it in every moment I can.

8. Suck it up and go back to school if necessary. Your kid needs to be able to look up to you and see a confident woman that feels like she’s good enough.

Again, part of goal #2 and something I have begun the very long process of. I am happy that I got the drive to begin, and I know it is worth it, even if it’s just the experience.

9. Continue to be a bad ass.

*After writing this post I realized I had first written about “Leaning In” exactly one year ago today. How’s that for timing?

Living The Good Life

Last August, I began a search to really redefine the way I lived my life. When Jack was first born, I was taking every day as it came and just doing what I needed to do to get by. Over time, though, as he grew and became more independent, my own actions didn’t follow suit. I was still doing the absolute minimum of getting by, and I was miserable with how I was approaching several aspects of my life. But the end of summer came with the resolve to fix my approach.

I made a pact with myself to be more mindful, to direct my actions to something useful, something I wanted to accomplish. To lean in and achieve what I wanted out of life. This process has been slow, but as I have learned in the past eight months- time passes anyway, I might as well use it to my advantage.

I am significantly happier now than I was back in August, my body looks and feels healthier, I feel like I have direction in my career (and I’ve FINALLY made peace with where I am now). Overall I’m just more content.

However, I have noticed that I started slacking on my mindfulness the past few weeks, and this has had a profound effect on my level of joy day to day. Instead of feeling rejuvenated, every day I felt like I was under a bit of a cloud. While it’s good to be a peace with where you are, I’ve found that I’m truly happier in a daily sense when I feel like I am working towards a goal.

With that, I’ve reevaluated my daily schedule so I can take steps towards mindfully leaning in every day. It’s not the full-scale renovation I did half a year ago, but a little booster to what I’m already doing. A reminder of what is important, and with it- the intention of creating more joy in my day to day life.

The next month will focus on the following-

Participating at home: I constantly catch myself looking down at my phone throughout my day, especially when I’m at home. I already work 40 hours a week, and so often I feel like I’m missing a significant portion of Jack’s childhood (and my relationship with Glenn!). Back in August, I was determined to put my phone down for several hours a night and instead be fully present for playing, preparing and eating meals as a family, and talking with my husband (and son) about their days. Since I have strayed from this practice, I’ve noticed that at the end of the night I’m disappointed that I didn’t make more of my free time.

This month, I will make a point of participating in the life that is going on around me. Whether it be a making dinner, a dance party, or even a tantrum- I want to be present.

IMG_8594

Seriously, you wouldn’t want to miss out on stuff like this.

Choosing healthier foods more often: This seems obvious, but I’ve noticed that the more I’ve lost weight the more I’m compelled to give in “just this once” since “I’m doing so well”. This, of course, is not self-sustaining and I don’t want to lose all the progress I’ve made.

I really want to take this month to retrain my brain to not give in just because it’s there. I will be more mindful of everything I eat. I don’t want my actions to be influenced by outside factors, I want to be the one making the decisions that shape my body. Treats are fine (and strongly encouraged!), but I want to make the conscious decision to enjoy them rather than realize after I’ve already begun to eat them.

IMG_8593

Walnuts and honey are healthy, right? And goat cheese is milk. It counts.

Getting outside: This action made a massive impact on my general happiness. Since our schedule is pretty packed during the week with work and a long commute, I don’t often get outside. When I started doing long walks on a trail outside every weekend, I noticed a distinct change in my attitude. I felt significantly more refreshed, happier, and willing to be more active.

This month I will take a few hours to go outside and get the movement my body craves. I will breathe in the crisp morning air, I will look at the beauty of the nature that surrounds me, and I will be so damn thankful that my body allows me to do this. I am so lucky to have this opportunity, and I should take full advantage of it.

IMG_8592

This doesn’t do the view justice

Begin classes: I really accomplished a lot in finally determining what direction I wanted my career to take. While I’m an editor right now, the work that I do is in a very limited field. This has always been a source of deep-seated concern since I wasn’t sure how to direct my focus when it came time to move forward. I didn’t know what I would want to do, and I had no clue how to do it. In the past six months, I’ve finally found a niche I believe I would work well in. I’m still incredibly lucky to have a stable job, with no signs of needing to change it anytime soon, but I want to prepare myself if something ever happens. I spoke to people in the field and found a program that could help ease me into the market. It’s been a month and a half since I decided to start this new era of school, and I kind of put it off. But the new semester is beginning soon, and this is just the push I need to begin. I’m looking forward to learning something new and having a career that my children can look up to.

This doesn’t quite fall into the mindful category, except that I want to be aware that this is still very much a resolution I want to accomplish, even though it will take a significant amount of time. So I will begin by taking the introductory course this month and sign up for the class that will begin in April.

I already feel significantly lighter after writing this all down and I’m looking forward to putting my plans into action. I’ll check back in a few weeks to make sure that I’m doing everything I want to live my best life.

As A Mom: My Body During Pregnancy

Belly

A while back a friend and I had a long conversation about our bodies and how our view of them have changed over the years. This discussion sparked a longer thought process as I began to consider how my body, and view of it, has changed since pregnancy. Long overdue considering Jackson is over a year old, but important nonetheless.

My experience is in no way a reflection of anyone else’s experience with their body during or after pregnancy. Not only do women have vastly different pregnancies, but each are colored by personal history, perceptions, and reactions. This is the reason I won’t talk about my tiger stripes (I was already indifferent about my plethora of “doughnut stripes” long before I ever got pregnant), failing to gain weight (ha, no problem there), or the experience of delivering naturally (I ended up getting an emergency cesarean after a glorious epidural.)

Caveats aside, I do believe one of the most obvious and daily experiences during pregnancy was not actually a product of my body itself. Rather, the moment I told people I was pregnant, it almost seemed as though my body became public property. How many women have shared their experiences with a waiter denying them coffee, a coworker commenting on their food choice, or dear lord- their weight? I would assume the vast majority of pregnant women have had at least one experience pregnant that they would never have otherwise.

With Jackson, I barely showed until 7 months in, whereupon a loving and doting coworker told me that I didn’t look fat anymore, I just looked pregnant. Later, after coming back from maternity leave, another coworker was astounded by how “great” I looked, considering how “huge” I got before I left. These, honestly, were hilarious to me- probably for the main fact that these women would never have said something of this nature at any other time. And yes, pregnancy does have a tendency to make someone comically large, so I get it- I really do. Sometimes you can’t help yourself.

Honestly, what was stranger was when someone would comment on something I should or shouldn’t do anymore. I remember how mind-blowingly weird it was when early in my pregnancy I got excited and jumped up and down, only to be told that I shouldn’t be jumping. At seven weeks, my mind has just begun to wrap around the concept that there was something the size of a blueberry nestled inside my body, it couldn’t even fathom how jumping four inches off the ground could threaten its survival. But time and time again I was told I should no longer do the things I had always done without a thought. I went in to pregnancy knowing this would happen later as my belly grew and got in the way; but even in my first trimester I was protected from carrying a case of water, moving a folding table, etc. Having always had a strong body, I was suddenly being told to resist doing things that I had never considered difficult. It was very hard to reconcile this new state with my old body identity.

I know without a doubt that this and any other comment I received while pregnant was made with love and protectiveness, and not only for me but also my unborn child. Of course I made a few playful retorts, but I really did try to take this advice as the ultimate form of compassion. Nevertheless, it is very bewildering when you are suddenly being told how to function when you’ve been functioning fine all along.

In the same vein was the profound realization that I was vulnerable for the first time in my life. Not that it was the first time I was actually vulnerable, but certainly the first time I actually physically felt like I could no longer “go to bat” if a situation required it. I spent months processing this new information. Having always been a tall and fairly large woman, I rarely ever felt nervous about my surroundings. I knew it was unlikely that anyone would ever try to start anything, and if they did- at least I knew I could fight back. More concerning was knowing that if something was ever happening to Glenn that I wouldn’t be able to help. I know that not many people consider this the women’s “role” in the relationship, but I have always felt the need to protect those I love. However, as Jackson grew inside my belly, I knew that his life came first. It wasn’t that my arms were weaker, or I was slower (though that definitely happened too), but rather that I couldn’t place him in danger. He was vulnerable, and thus I was completely vulnerable too.

This vulnerability and protectiveness has continued to have a profound effect on how I navigate the world since Jackson was born. While I once was too overprotective, often willing to put myself in harm’s way for others, I’ve become more protective over my child and myself. It’s not surprising that I’m this way for my child, but I’m still surprised by the change towards myself. I guess that makes sense though, right? Now that my well-being directly affects my child, it’s no wonder I consider it a higher priority.

While I often thought of how my body was changing physically during pregnancy, it was how this affected others and my actions that really caused me to pause. This, more than anything, shaped my view of my body during that transitional period.

Talking It Out

I was going to start the Friday off with a Lovely Things post, but my head is just not in it today. Rather than pushing it just to get something out, I figured I’d have a one-sided discussion on communication (the irony is not lost on me, I promise).

I feel like the topic of communication has kept creeping up in my consciousness lately. A discussion on the communication between Lorelei and Luke during the latest season of Gilmore Girls, going to dinner with my mom and sister and talking for hours, discussing a lack of a coworker’s communication with my boss- this and so much more have happened just in a week’s time.

While I briefly alluded to working on my social skills on my 2017 Bucket List, communication is really the driving force in it all. I want to get better at listening and responding to those around me. But this week, like many before, has been so hard- I’m just so tired and all I want is to be home. I am looking at a weekend of exciting activities and being surrounded by people who will inevitably be interesting and interested in discussion, but I’m having a really hard time getting pumped for that right now.

Also, since my cousin has come to live with us, I’ve noticed how quiet of a family we are. Now dinners are much livelier, and we’re talking more than I ever realized was possible for a weeknight meal. I love it, and I want to work on this so it’s something we’ll have after my cousin leaves, but I know from my own childhood how easy it is to fall back into silence.

This isn’t just at the dinner table either, I am always surprised how much people have to say to their children while at the park, talking to them about everything under the sun while pushing their babies on swings. This isn’t to say that I don’t speak to Jackson, I go out of my way to talk things over and explain what is going on around us, but there is definitely a difference in our topics. Most often, I only remember to talk when there is something that needs to be communicated- information that should be shared. I will ask Jackson to “please stay on the sidewalk love, the street is dangerous” but I have a hard time thinking of things to say like, “Do you see that ball? Isn’t it a pretty ball? It’s blue, it’s a blue ball.” Don’t get me wrong, repetition is absolutely how children learn, and I’m not knocking it. I just have a seriously hard time thinking of what to say when I know I should be saying something, anything.

This doesn’t even just apply to children, I’m the same way with the adults around me. I have a select few people that I can talk to for hours. However, if I’m with someone I don’t know as well or if I’m not well acquainted with the subject matter, my brain shuts off until it has information to communicate again. Small talk just doesn’t come easily; but in our society, it’s imperative that I’m able to do it. It lubricates the gears of friendships, business, etc.

Thankfully, I do have my few that I communicate well with, but I want to train my mind to be better at this with the broader population. So, while I would really prefer to pop in my headphones and fold laundry or go on a long walk, I will take this activity laden weekend and use it for the fantastic opportunity it is.

And then I’m going to go to sleep early, because man, I am SO TIRED.

enhance

And then there are times I can’t shut up

Photo by my incredible sister

My 2017 Bucket List

Hello! Happy to see you this new year.

As Adele says, “Hello from the other siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide”

*Ba dum tiss*

Yea, I know I’m about 10 days late to the party. The champagne has long been drank (I know, I drank it), the ball has dropped, and several million people have already failed their New Year resolutions.

That’s where I come in. By pure tardiness alone, I’ve already won over them ALL.

Just joking.

No, I’ve actually been planning my 2017 Bucket List for weeks now. WEEKS you guys. And I keep rewriting it!

Let me back up, lest you get lost.

A long, long time ago (2014), in a galaxy far, far away (my couch), I decided that only one bucket list a lifetime was for losers. Instead, I began a tradition of creating a yearly bucket list of activities I want to experience. This is anything from a breathtaking hike, dancing at a concert, experiencing something (anything!) new, going on a fun trip, etc. While I cross off activities throughout the year, I update my list with a brief note and the date. By the end of the year it kind of functions like a condensed journal. Fun idea, right?

[As a queen of lists, I also have my lifetime bucket list, organized by degree of effort and scale of travel, but we’re going to ignore this one for now because I do not have enough time to delve into that vat of crazy.]

So- 2017! What do we have in store for me?

Truthfully, it’s been a bit hard to really think of items to do this year. Previous years seemed so simple, but I was young and naïve and had a lot more time on my hands. This year, I’ve also really felt the need to include a stronger push for a new subsection, “Be A F*cking Adult”.

That’s why I’ve struggled, I guess. In the past my goals were mainly focused on activities to cross off, fun to be had, and while I certainly want to keep this ridiculously important aspect of my life, I also strongly feel the need to include items I would never have included before. And then it turned into a revolving door of self-reflection and that tedious question, “dear god, is this who I am now? I do not do resolutions!”

Guess what buttercup? I have some d*mned resolutions.

So here we go. I’ve organized it…. because of course I would.

Activities:
_ Go to a concert (Backstreet Boys) – March
_ MS Walk with Glenn and Jack- April
_ Alzheimer’s Walk with Jeni- October
_ Go on a crazy beautiful hike with Glenn
_ Go on a vacation with Glenn, just the two of us
_ Buy dinner for someone in real need
_ Go to a drive in movie with Glenn
_ Work on a headstand
_ Practice calligraphy
_ Go to a concert with Glenn
_ Seriously, join a damn book club (if you can’t tell, this one has been a previously unfulfilled goal on many other years)
_ Complete the yoga challenge: 10 days of yoga CLASSES (none of this at home bs)
_ Become a constant donor to a charity
_ Enjoy wine and cheese at an outdoor movie with Tootsie
_ Take mom indoor skydiving
_ Go to an indoor trampoline gym

Long-term Goals:
_ Do an outdoor activity with Jackson at least once a weekend
_ Do an outdoor activity with myself at least once a weekend
_ Distance self from constantly checking Facebook (or other media) on my phone. Put it away from the time I get home until after Jackson is in bed
_ Spend more one on one time with Glenn
_ Be more generous. Don’t expect anything in return
_ Try to be more patient with everyone
_ Spend more time with Jackson and less time doing unimportant things

Be A F*cking Adult:
_ Create a living will with Glenn
_ Stop cursing (we really don’t need Jackson saying *sshole)
_ Work on your social skills at work (…and everywhere else)
_ Build up this blog into a legitimate working machine. Not for profit, per se, but as something I can be proud of.
_ Start my 401k (seriously though)
_ Save $1500 in personal savings

As the year goes on I will inevitably add to this list. Usually it’s when I do something cool and add it on so I can check it off again. What can I say, I like being efficient. Nevertheless, at the end of the year I will repost this list with my notes on what I did, what I didn’t do, and how the year went in general. I do really hope to make solid progress on not only the fun activities, but some of the more serious matters as well.

What’s on your list, fellow resolutioners? Do you usually strive to become better in some way, or are you more like me and just look forward to all the fun you’ll have this year? Do you have a bucket list or five?

Finding Time

Before I had kids, I thought I was busy. I know that sounds pompous and haughty, but it’s not meant to be. I feel like every stage in life gets more adultier. More boring yet necessary stuff requires your time and thought, and you get to do less fun stuff. When I got married, I noticed a direct upswing in the amount of work I had to do every night, and when I had Jackson, it tripled.

Every day for over a year, I would get up at 5 am, get myself and Jack ready, drive an hour and a half to drop him off and make it to work, work for 8 hours, pick him up, hit about an hour and a half to two hours of traffic, cook, and do some variation of dishes, bath time, bed time, and prepping for the next day. This is if I didn’t have any errands to run during the day and doesn’t count the often extra little chores like sweeping/mopping, tidying, etc. that are required throughout the week (my son is a modern day Taz and my home is always one step away from an utter wreck.) Luckily my husband and I have established a good tag team effort, and as of a few months ago, my father has started coming to our home to babysit, thus taking out anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half of commute time a day. Hallelujah.

That being said, there’s really not a lot of free time in my day. There is always after Jack goes to bed, but this time is pretty limited since I should prioritize my sleep as I wake up early. To be completely truthful, this is usually the first thing to go so I can fit more in my day, but I’ve been attempting to be better at it lately.

A few months ago, around the time I began this blog, I realized how much I missed doing things that were “me”. I have since made it a point to try and find ways to carve out time within my day that I can use for things that are important to my wellbeing. One of my work friends wakes up at 4am to complete a workout before her day. She’s crazy impressive. I am not like this. Instead, my moments are sporadic, here and there throughout the day. I’ve noticed that as long as I realize that these things don’t have to be more than short bursts, I’m more willing to put the effort into doing them. And while they do require that effort, they have proven to be so much more beneficial than staring blankly at Facebook for 20 minutes (which I also do daily, no judgement).

Listen to podcasts

As stated earlier, I spend a lot of time commuting. A LOT. And I hate driving. So much. It’s ridiculously boring and if I could, I would definitely buy one of those cars that would drive me everywhere without me having to pay attention. Or I would get a chauffeur.

Not being made of money, I was lucky enough to stumble on the podcasts app on my phone. I know, everyone knows about this- it’s not new. I’m technology inept, so trust me- this was a HUGE deal. Since discovering the wide world of podcasts, my commute to work and back every day has expanded to a time that I really enjoy. I listen to my weird and quirky side with science fiction podcasts, like Lore, Limetown, and The Bright Sessions. I learn things I’d never even think to ask with podcasts like Stuff You Missed in History Class, TED Radio Hour, and This American Life. Hell, I even listen to a podcast specifically made for Gilmore Girls fans (yes, this is a thing. Gilmore Guys. You’re welcome).

There are so many wonderful shows that I can tap into whenever I want. And while not the same quality as a Pulitzer Prize winning novel or some book on ancient Athens currency, it’s sometimes semi educational and almost always interesting in a way that the Kardashians will never be.

Walking/Stairs on Break

This one was definitely not my original idea. You know the friend that wakes up at 4am to work out? Yea, it was hers. She’s been doing it for a long while, and one day as I sat all fat and lazy I asked if I could join her. Thankfully, she said yes and this has absolutely been one of the steps that led me to finally losing baby weight and getting back to a healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t a full workout, just a mere 15 minutes. I figured I can do anything for 15 minutes. I can especially do anything that doesn’t require a change of clothes or driving somewhere.

This mindset has since extended into my night when I started to work on my core strength by slowly working up the time I could plank. When I began, I literally dedicated less than a minute to it. Now it’s up to two and a half minutes, but dude- it’s two and a half freaking minutes. And I don’t even do it every night. For something that takes so little time though, it has had a surprising affect. I feel stronger and my arms have toned a bit, to the point where a friend even noticed after not seeing me for a few weeks. Can’t get better than that.

Dancing in the Living Room

Glenn actually started this one. Sorry, this isn’t a “How I fixed my life in 10 steps” but more like, “How I stumbled upon doing these things and oh, that’s cool- I’ll keep doing it.” So dancing. You know what’s better than dancing alone like a fool to loud, heart pumping music? Doing it with a super handsome guy and an adorable toddler who laughs and interpretive dances with you.

Ditching My Husband with the Toddler to Take a Long Shower

Poor Glenn knows this well. When I feel like I need some alone time, he’s kind enough to distract the little dude long enough for me to bolt to our bathroom, shut the door, and ignore the screams of my darling son calling for me on the other side. Pretty smelling scrubs and lotions help the sound barrier. Joking aside, bless this man because I know I take extra-long showers when it’s been one of those days.

Once upon a time, when Jackson was still a glimmer in our eyes and I had my spa style bathtub, I would spend an hour or two lounging in the hot water, candles and all. With an upgrade in children, an upgrade in home, and no more tub- this looks a bit different. But I’m the indulgent type, and while the candles and reading while submerged are no more, I certainly turn up the music and use all the smell goods I can get my hands on.

Writing Here

Since starting this space to just write and have a place solely reserved for the little things that make me happy, I really feel like I’ve been rediscovering (and just discovering) what interests me. Not all of it is important, most of it is just fleeting moments, but it gives me a space to just be. Like the zen you find at the top of a mountain while watching the sun set, just a hell of a lot more superficial. That’s cool though, I already have a lot of incredibly deep and intense other aspects of my life. Like podcasts and body scrub, my quiet time typing and looking at pretty things can just be what it is. And if, along the way, I find a little peace in my day, then I’ve accomplished my goal.

I’m still a far cry away from having the typical set of hobbies that I once used to encompass, but I’m getting there.

PS: In the time it took me to type this up, I helped Glenn fold a load of laundry and put Jackson back to bed after he woke up. Even my breaks require breaks.

PSS: Now it’s 11:30. Maybe I’ll sleep more tomorrow night.

Work Style the Lazy Way

As a new mom, I spent most of my first year in (maternity) jeans and comfy oversized shirts. Thankfully, my work is ridiculously casual, so I’m pretty sure exactly nobody noticed. I think this is in part because they’re a bunch of scientists, but it’s also probably because we’re literally a five minute walk away from the beach.

Regardless, as I emerged from the other end of the year, my jeans were getting increasingly faded and my shirts worn. I obviously needed to do something, but I was entirely too lazy to go out shopping. Because of my height, larger stomach, and thinner hips, it takes trying on 20 pairs of jeans to find one that works. However, it was starting to take a toll on my self-esteem, and I was starting to feel incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin.

Combine this with an ever increasingly mountain of dirty laundry, and this is when I started to get compliments. I know, it doesn’t make sense. In fact, for a solid few weeks I didn’t quite realize that I had stumbled on a loophole. But when I did, glorious day!

It all started after a weekend of running around and not having time to conquer the laundry building up in our garage. Instead, I threw on a dress I’ve had for years and ran out the door.

Everyone has a style that really suits their bodies. Mine is the sheath dress. I can’t tell you a time that I’ve put on this style and it looked bad. It’s damn near magic, especially to someone where so few articles of clothing are actually flattering on them.

Over the years, I came across a brand that is on the cheaper end and is insanely comfortable. I own three of them. It looks structured and businesslike, but is actually cotton and feels very similar to yoga pants.

I go to the playground in this dress, you guys.

old-navy-sheath-dressOld Navy Sleeveless Sheath Dresses

It doesn’t wrinkle if you forget to take it out of the dryer, it maintains its structure with little no extra care, and it looks legit.

Add a thick belt and a necklace or dollar store scarf (no joke) and you’re set.

Simple, quick. No need to rummage through your clean (or dirty, I’m not judging) laundry pile for a top and bottom that look good together. Plus, you’re washing one item instead of two. Double lazy points!

Then all you have to worry about are your shoes. I’ve found that people tend to view wedges as actual heels, which is extra lucky for me since they feel almost exactly like flats. Again, no issues at the playground, I can probably run in these if I really had to (though this is more due to me not running rather than the footwear).

Of course, wearing dresses does require shaving your legs (or not). But so far I feel the benefits of my effort in this one area far outweigh the efforts in what I used to have to do to get dressed. And I feel sexier, so win-win.

In part, this success comes from having a “uniform.” This topic has become very popular over the past couple of years, and for good reason. You find something that flatters you, you buy several of them, and you wear the same thing over and over. No need to think outside the norm for accessories or a bra that will work with that specific shirt, you’ve already got it down.

but-wait

I’ve been wearing a decent amount of makeup for years. It’s mostly nude or similar colors, but I’ve got the basics down (powder, eyeshadow, mascara). Just enough to brighten up my face but not too much that I feel like I’m in one of those child beauty pageants.

honey-boo-boo

But man, I put eyeliner on one day and BAM. Apparently that’s all I needed to go from looking like I did nothing to looking like I was done up. I’m not even joking- at least a dozen people complimented me in a few weeks’ time.

Easy enough- it took a few days practice but now I can put eyeliner on in a minute flat. I added that to my 5 minutes of doing makeup in the parking garage (I’m not willing to wake up earlier to miss traffic, so I finish getting ready after I’m past that), and I look like I actually put more than just minimal effort into getting ready.

BOOM.

Of course, everyone is different. And I’d say I envy the women who are willing to put more (or less) time in, but really- I’m doing what I’m doing because it’s what I’m most comfortable with. As should everyone else. But if you find yourself where I was, feeling blah but also unwilling to put in too much effort, try it out. You may be surprised by how easy it can be.

Quiet Time: Introversion

Wow the past few days have flown by. Even though everything we’ve done since the weekend has been completely amazing, I am feeling so worn out and it’s only Tuesday. I am seriously craving some quiet time.

Over the past few years I’ve been seeing more coverage on introverts. Maybe it’s just because I finally put a term to my personality and being aware of that made me more aware in general, or perhaps it’s just a subject getting more press time. I first noticed it after reading the book Quiet, and have since seen references throughout the articles, blogs, and oddly enough- memes.

Introvertion
A coworker sent this to me as a joke but only in the “nailed it” kinda of way

All in all it seems like there are two major courses that these media forms take on the subject. The first is the perpetuating of the stereotype “I really just want to be alone,” and the other is the rally cry “introverts are just as awesome as extroverts” (the latter of these is why I wasn’t a huge fan of Quiet). I get both- we really do like our quiet time. Also mainstream society, at least in the US, really does push the extrovert tendencies (and the bold personality). But introverts are pretty awesome- we’re not going to waste 2 hours of your day in some bull**** meeting. These are the facts and this is what we need to do. You’re welcome.

Of course, we’re not all one in the same. I love being around one or two people that I know well: less and I’m lonely, more and after a few hours I need a nap. I wear earplugs to do any kind of work that needs focus (side note: how can people concentrate when they have music on, especially with singing?! It boggles my mind). I have an incredibly hard time talking about a subject that doesn’t interest me or don’t feel like I can contribute to. I’m sure there have been dozens of times that I’ve come across as rude simply because I drew a complete blank when trying to make small talk with a stranger. Just white space and the hum of silence…

Sorry stranger- it’s not you, it’s definitely me.

So I’m glad that introverts are getting more press time- if they actually are that is. If not, carry on nonetheless.

Have you seen more coverage about introversion in the past few years? Do you identify at all with some of the introvert characteristics, or do you think it’s all kind of ridiculous since no one can be all or nothing? Do you like to hide in your office? Also- does not being able to listen to music while you work actually an introversion thing? I mostly just included it because it involves people singing and my brain can’t process both the information coming through my ears and that coming from my eyes.

…………..

Stepping aside from this rambling word slew, I still have two posts from this weekend that I’m still brewing on. They were particularly awesome events and I want to give it a worthy post, so I really don’t want to rush it just to get it out there, but they are coming. And I’m kind of proud of one in particular so you should definitely check back in a few days.