Oct 31, 2017

The Circle of Life

I don't know quite what I want to say today.  We visited my grandmother, who is dying, and who specifically requested to see everyone one more time before she goes.  She wanted to meet her great grandson, so Orion and I, along with my parents, flew out to California for 4 days, said our goodbyes, and then flew home.

It was hard.  Hard emotionally, hard physically, hard logistically.  My stress levels were through the roof.  But we held it together and did our best to respect my grandmother's wishes and get through it with smiles on our faces.  We were there to celebrate our last opportunity to have time together, not to mourn that that time is ending.

And I'm so grateful that we had the forewarning to be able to do that.  Talking to my dad about it, he seemed absolutely horrified by the idea of being given 30 days to live by a doctor.  I, obviously, don't know how I would react, but conceptually it sounds better to have that time to get your affairs in order and do all the things you want to do.

We thought about what we'd do with that time, if we had just 30 days to live.  And my first thought was books, junk food, and relaxing.  My sister's was trying all the drugs now that you don't have to worry about damaging your body, which I found intriguing, but ultimately I think I'd enjoy the books and chocolate more.

We also talked about the circle of life, Lion King style.  Seeing the sharp contrast of Orion, 9 months old and blissfully unaware of what was going on, sitting on Nana's lap.  He'd inevitably go for the oxygen cords resting just under her nose and when we tried to stop him she always said, "No.  Let him."  She'd just "met" him for the first time and already she loved him, whole-heartedly.

It makes me so sad that he won't remember her.  That this visit is one we'll show pictures of to a child or young man and we'll say, "That's you with your great grandmother" and he'll nod politely without any real interest.  As I did when shown pictures of my great grandmother.

And I understand better now why family is so important to my mom's mom.  Why she was always trying to tell us about Great Grandma, and relatives further up the tree.  Because "Great Grandma" to me is "Mom" to my grandmother.  Because it's insane that someone who meant so much to you can mean so little to your descendants.  Because you want all the people you love to love each other, too.

We fall in love with our children and grandchildren when they're small, helpless things, incapable of understanding or fully reciprocating.  And then we move on into some other realm, or blackness, or nothing, while they're still figuring out what those emotions even mean or feel like.

It's a great treasure we receive from our parents and grandparents, this vast, unconditional love.  And I guess the best you can say about the recipients is that they'll in turn lavish it on their own children and grandchildren.  We're all just paying it forward since we don't learn how to pay it back until it's too late.

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Oct 16, 2017

Digital Decluttering

I had a conversation with some blogger friends that went like this (paraphrasing, of course), "Ya'll I'm tired of blogging."  "Me too!"  "I still want to blog, I just don't want to read anyone else's or feel obligated to do anything."  "Totes!"  "Omg, we should all make our blogs private and only do what we wanna do."  "Coo'."

So I stopped reading all the blogs I'd been reading, and I no longer have comments to respond to because no one can read this or weigh in with their thoughts.  I do miss some of the occasional thoughtful conversations but most of the comments were trite or forced or just plain boring.

For me that was the beginning of a digital declutter.  I then rampaged about on Facebook, my phone and Meetup.  Here's what I've accomplished:

Meetup

Dropped all the Meetup groups I was on the fence about (1 more in the near future after I attend the one event I'd already signed up for).  I didn't always join because I enjoyed them or they were beneficial.  Some I was in the "broaden my horizons" or one had been recommended by someone.  But if it doesn't fit in my current schedule I'm not going and if I'm not enjoying it AND it doesn't serve my business, why do that to myself?  I'll find diversity in other ways.
 

Facebook

Scaled back my Facebook groups to just the essentials.  No more networking group that I don't intend to stay in once my membership expires.  No more fitness/MLM group that I was in out of politeness to a previous client.  No more entrepreneurial group for the sake of the rare, occasional useful tidbits buried amidst the mystical bullshit.  Only groups that are worth my time at least 50% of the time.
 

Phone

Removed all social media from my phone (minus Instagram).  Even Facebook!  Most of my social posting is scheduled, but Instagram has to be posted from the app, not a scheduler, so that's on my phone but there's no shortcut for it on my phone.  To find it I have to dig through my app directory, which usually prevents me from bothering.  Facebook I really ought to have, to participate in me and Kelli's group, but I was wasting so much time on there.  Now I'll check in once a day, do my due diligence, and then check back out.

Plans for Future

I've been pressuring myself to create content for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, blog, and send out a monthly newsletter.  It's a lot and, ultimately, networking is my biggest ROI anyway.  So I'm scaling way, way back on social media and focusing on the face-to-face interaction.  I might drop the e-newsletter altogether.
 
Part of me is reluctant to give up all that effort, but another part of my brain is just singing at the idea of eliminating some of the pressure.  And more and more, that vibrant little thrill of "YES!" is what I'm following.  Sorry, logic, you can't do everything.

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Routine Update

Guys.  This is actually working.

I am two weeks in.  There have been maybe one or two nights where I messed up and got 6 instead of 8 hours of sleep.  That's crazy!  I haven't been this well rested since the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy.

And it's funny because I don't always feel that well-rested.  Some days I still feel tired and then I get dejected and defeatist and say, "WHY isn't this working??? I'm doing all the right things!"

BUT even when I feel tired, I'm somehow able to follow that nighttime routine.  I make dinner instead of binge-eating my horrible sugar/peanut butter mixture that I make when I'm sad and stressed.

I'll probably never have the leisure to sleep a full weekend, which means recovering from months and months of sleep deprivation is also going to be a slow process.  Expecting anything else is unreasonable.  But in just two weeks I've seen all kinds of improvements.

1. Having a visual forces me to confront time limitations


I think I mentioned this in the last post, but when an opportunity comes up or I get invited to something, I look at my schedule.  What would have to be left undone and is it worth it?  Certain time blocks are more sacred than others - Friday night date night for example.  And not scheduling things on Sunday because Sunday always, always gets away from us.

2. It cuts waaay back on decision fatigue


This schedule eliminated my need to be constantly forcing myself to do productive things.  Now it's not a battle of willpower to go run - I just go because that's the time I'm supposed to do it.  And I realize this might not work for everyone, because it's definitely a psychological trick.  You have to tell yourself you're sticking to this schedule no matter what OR decide what the exceptions will be and avoid straying.  In my case, I follow the routine unless I scheduled something in advance that conflicts and then there's still no willpower battle - I just do the scheduled thing.  No spur-of-the moment decisions because that's when my discipline will fail.

3. It's not nearly as constraining as I thought


I think in my mind a routine had to be the same thing every day or it wouldn't "stick."  That hasn't been the case at all.  For me, it's not as much about the consistent act of every day the same thing as it is about putting things on autopilot and following the schedule.  So I do get variety because every day on the schedule is different.  Every day has its own theme and within my structured time blocks there is definitely room for choice.  Last week on Thursday (baby-at-home day), I left my mom group and decided to let Orion nap in the car while I got ice cream instead of rushing back home to have him nap in his crib.  He still got his nap in, I got a fun treat, and the day felt more spontaneous without breaking the routine or having to leave things undone.

4. It keeps my irrational night-time brain in check


So one night I was convinced I was way behind with work things and I'd never catch up and all my clients would hate me.  I told Ryan I was going to break the routine and pull an all-nighter.  He talked me down and then the next morning, I completed my tasks in a matter of 2 or 3 hours and was all caught up.  Later (during my first ever business coaching session!), I was discussing this phenomenon where business tasks always feel so urgent late at night and Coach told me that your rational, thinking brain (pre-frontal cortex?) functions best in the morning.  He said by evening it's tired and the amygdala, which runs your fear and fight-or-flight response, takes over.  So now, knowing this, I can ignore that sudden, driving urge to get back to work when the baby goes to bed.

5. I'm rediscovering my own emotions


In my post on joy I said something about how the only times I've felt actual "joy" have been moments with the baby.  I also said that I felt more of those moments when I got more sleep and that trend has definitely continued.  The other night I went into the basement to say goodnight to Ryan and I caught him mid-binge on a pile of Reese's cups.  I don't know if it was the role reversal or the funny mock-panic face he gave me, but I laughed my ass off.  I think that moment was my favorite thing to happen this past week.

I think I'd gone so long feeling angry and unhappy that the lower plateau of not miserable felt like normal.  But now I'm starting to laugh and really feel it deep down inside, and have moments of happiness unclouded by other, negative emotions and I'm realizing I was not "back to normal" and that was not "the new normal."  That was sleep deprivation, and I don't need to live that way.

6. I'm learning what I enjoy


One thing I've never been able to consistently do is go to bed an hour early and follow any sort of bedtime routine or journal.  So the past two weeks have been kind of revelatory in that regard.  I'm discovering that I do like journaling (I always thought I didn't but really I don't like trying to force myself to do it when I'm exhausted and want to collapse into bed).  I also like my particular journal, which has prompts for making lists.

I like the end of the day being "output" time instead of input.  It's easier to sleep when I've emptied my brain out and I feel calmer and more centered.  I've also found a couple other things I enjoy: waking up with clean-feeling teeth, not having clothes strewn all over the floor, making the bed every day, and, oddly enough, brushing my hair at night.  I don't really care about washing my face, but the fact that I'm taking care of my skin and my body makes me feel better in general.

7. I'm getting confirmation that this is a healthier way to live


An unexpected side effect of this past 2 weeks: I've lost a couple pounds.  Without trying.  I made zero diet rules.  The only thing is that this schedule makes room for cooking.  So I'm preparing healthy meals for the family and we're all eating better.  I'm not specifically trying to avoid binge-eating but I desire it less when I'm not so tired and stressed AND this new schedule simply doesn't make time for it.

I'm curious to see if this trend continues but it's totally not a focus or a priority right now.  Forming healthy habits and feeling good are the only things I'm worried about.  Health and happiness > weight.  Always.

Conclusion


It's not always this cut and dry.  Some days my fear brain takes over and I bemoan the fact that I'm behind on everything and I do miss my all-nighters.  Even if I didn't always get a lot done, I enjoyed them in a weird, perverse way.  I sometimes feel like balancing my time so evenly between all the different segments of life means that none of them are going to move forward very fast.  And that's true, but the overall trend is still up for the areas I've prioritize AND for my overall happiness/mental sanity.

I spend the last 8 months building my business as much as I could without dropping dead from sleep deprivation or neglecting my child.  I don't regret it because I accomplished a lot, but it's also not sustainable long term and I'm ready to ramp it down for a while.  Maybe eventually I'll be ready to switch gears again, but for now this schedule, this routine, and these priorities are working.

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Oct 12, 2017

My Rehaul of the High School Curriculum

My mom suggested that I do a post about useful things I didn't learn until well into adulthood.  I was struggling to come up with ideas and then I bastardized it and turned it into this instead, BUT I kept Momma's tips in the relevant categories.

Social Studies => Political Science

Less focus on dates and names and more on the reasons why things happened and a comparison of historical events to current ones.  The whole point of history is supposed to be so we can avoid repeating it, right?  So let's learn why it happened, not just what happened.

Home Economics => How to Survive On Your Own

Less perfecting your fudge lava cake recipe and more meal planning, budgeting, laundry, and how to take care of yourself.  My mom made us do our own laundry and it wasn't until my younger sisters went to college that I learned that many of their peers had no idea how.  No college students should be going home on weekends so their parents can do their laundry (and those parents probably shouldn't enable them - using a free washer is one thing, folding your 20-year-old's dirty underwear is just ridiculous).

Tip from Momma: Instead of guessing which corner of a fitted sheet is which, look for the manufacturer's washing instructions tag. It goes in the lower right corner (as you face the bottom of the bed).

Also: Plastic wrap containers have perforated tabs on each end that you can punch in to keep the roll in place when you dispense the wrap.

Computers/Typing => Job Hunting

Sure, students will probably have to learn Microsoft Office at some point.  But typing?  Come on, they'll learn that on their own.  Teach kids something useful (especially for those who aren't planning on college) and help them build resumes, practice interview skills, and show them where job search sites are.

Health => Still Health but with a Parenting Component

I think it's good to learn about STDs and drugs and so on.  But instead of giving students a math lesson ("Every time you have sex, you have a [insert surprisingly low number here] chance of getting pregnant"), make them take care of babies for a week or two.  Although I will say that the birth video is spot on as a warning for safe sex.

Gym => Exercise & Nutrition

I didn't learn that the food pyramid is outdated until I was an adult and doing my own health research.  How many overweight teenagers struggle with dieting, starvation, and diet pills instead of simply eating healthier food???  I know I was one.  And introducing teenagers to badminton seems far less important than teaching them about keeping their bodies fit.  Active vs dynamic stretching!  Avoiding injury while weight lifting.  How to use a food tracker and what's healthy weight loss or gain looks like.

Driver's Ed => Driving & Car Maintenance

We need to learn to drive, yes, but also what to do in an emergency.  How to change a flat tire, check your fluids, where the spare is located in a car, and so on.  I don't think everyone needs to know how to do an oil change, but what AAA is, how much a tow costs, and whether your insurance has free roadside assistance are all good to know.

Tip from Momma: Every car... including your rental car... has a little arrow by the gas gauge telling you which side the gas cap is on.

Language Arts => Reading, Writing, & Logic

Grammar is important!  I will not argue that point.  Bit I will argue that memorizing vocabulary words for the SATs and DSTPs is probably less important than critical thinking skills.  Also, how to write compelling copy!  Not that everyone needs to get into marketing, but I feel cheated that I made it to college before I learned what a "hook" is.  Also that every essay should have a point - my high school teachers were happy to let me write inane compare-and-contrast essays that had absolutely no purpose.

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Baby Stuff - What I Liked, What I Didn't, and What I Wished We Had Bought

I should probably chop this into several posts, but I don't wanna so you get this one monstrous post of all the baby "stuff" opinions I have.

To Bring to the Hospital for Delivery


You get so much advice about what to bring to the hospital and what you'll NEED as soon as you bring that baby home.  We did our best to sift through what was actually necessary and what was superfluous or a luxury, and I think our "must haves" ended up being different than any other list.

1. A Pillow & Blanket


For your spouse or whoever might be in the waiting room with you.  I was well taken care of, but Ryan was exhausted and his nap on the bench they have for spouses looked pretty uncomfortable.

2. Clothes to Wear Home


Bring stretchy pants that fit during the middle of your pregnancy.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who was surprised and disappointed that after having the baby I still looked about 5 months pregnant.  Definitely don't bring your pre-pregnancy clothes unless you want yet another trigger for all those unstable hormones!

3. That's It


Seriously, all that advice about bringing slippers and a robe and so on, just no.  All that means is extra stuff in your hospital bag that you won't use and then have to make sure you grab when you switch rooms after.  They provide you with a hospital gown, and an extra one for your backside if you want to roam the hallways.  You get socks with grip on the bottom, and the delivery table/bed thing is messy enough that you probably don't want to use your own version of anything from home.  They also provide all the necessities for feminine hygiene, thank goodness!  I can guarantee that nothing you currently have at home is going to suffice for what your body will do after having a baby.

You could bring clothes for your baby, but the hospital provides basic onesies, and plenty of blankets for swaddling.  All the hospital babies are almost constantly swaddled.  They also provide little hats and tons of diapers.  You really don't need to bring a diaper bag to the hospital.  You do need your baby's car seat in the car, and if you know ahead of time you won't be breast feeding, you could bring bottles and formula.  (Honestly, I'll probably smuggle this in next time even though we will be trying to breast feed again because I'm not going to listen to a hungry baby screaming for hours instead of sleeping while the hospital reassures us that "You can't run out of milk."  Hahahaha, bullshit.)

To Buy for Your Home


1. Diaper Pails!


I thought, "Surely this is unnecessary" but then my mom pointed out that maybe our garage wouldn't smell so bad if we didn't have dog poop bags out in the regular trash bin.  So we bought one and started using it for that before we even brought the baby home and IT WAS AWESOME!!!  They're so good at containing the smell.  We have one in the garage for diapers changed on the main floor and one in our bathroom upstairs and neither smells at all if they're closed and locked.  When the upstairs one gets a bit fragrant upon opening, I sprinkle in some baking soda and that helps keep the odors inside.

2. Play Mat


Somewhere around 4 months we started using this and it was the first toy that Orion interacted with and held his interest.  It was such a relief to have him able to be entertained for even 10 minutes at a time!  AND he still plays with it now at 8 months, which is pretty enduring considering how fast babies change.

Ours was a fun, jungle themed one and it has music and lights and all that, but we didn't always use those and it still worked pretty well.  I think any play mat with dangly things hanging over would work fine.

3. Bouncy Seat


Some people swear by baby swings, or the "Mommaroo," but our baby loves his bouncy seat.  That thing has entertained him for countless hours AND after he started getting more mobile was a nice, safe place to put him while I did chores or, you know, used the bathroom.  In general, having some sort of thing you can put your baby in and know that they're not going to hit their head, or get into something dangerous, is a godsend.

4. Food Masher Thing


We've mostly been feeding Orion from off our plates but at some point he decided he didn't need to bother with gumming/chewing.  So now we've kind of regressed and we mash things up for him to make sure he doesn't choke.  It's basically the baby version of a mortar and pestle.  Sorry I don't have an actual product name but I'm sure some inventive googling will successfully pull it up!

5. Glider


Expensive, yes, but amazing for feeding and rocking to sleep!  I'm a little sad that Orion's outgrown this and doesn't let me rock him to sleep anymore, but this was a total must have during the early days and maybe we'll use it again at some point in  the future.

Things People Recommended That We Did Not Need


1. Wipe Warmer


You can just hold them in your palm for a second - problem solved.  But then again, maybe our baby was less sensitive than the child of the recommendor.

2. Baby Food Processor


We really haven't been making special foods for the baby, and when we do the food masher works fine.  It doesn't need to be a special puree.

3. Baby Utensils


I mean, no one specifically recommended this, but I find myself not really using them ever.  How do I feed my baby, you ask?  With my hands.  Straight from the highchair tray.  We're heathens, I guess.

Things I Wish We Had Gotten


1. Baby Changing Table


For the most part, people were right and you just change the baby wherever you happen to be in the house.  But in the early newborn stages, I was feeding him and changing him in the closet (on the floor) so Ryan could get some sleep and my back hurt all the time from constantly hunching over.  A changing table would have been nice!

2. Dresser


This is not a must have and I know it, but the organizer part of me really hates that we don't have one central location for baby clothes.  I thought we'd move them into his room when he started sleeping there, but instead we kept them and in the morning I just go get him and bring him into our room to get ready.  It actually works pretty well, but we'll need something at some point, right?

Bonus Tips


  1. Footie pajamas are much easier with a zipper instead of snaps
  2. For bibs, the opposite!  They have them mostly in snaps or velcro and the velcro will attach itself to other clothes in the wash and mess your delicate laceys up.  Snaps = far superior.
  3. You probably won't have to buy any newborn or 3 month onesies.  We only started having to buy clothes around the 6 month mark because so many people bought us stuff.
  4. You cannot have too many receiving blankets - you'll be using these to wipe up bodily fluids, swaddle the baby, pad uncomfortable services, and as blankets in mildly chilly weather.  A coworker was very generous and gave us their (massive) pile of receiving blankets.  At the time, while grateful, I couldn't help but wonder, "Why on earth are there so many?"  Now I know.


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Oct 9, 2017

Replacing Joy with Serenity

The search for happiness has been a long, and ongoing one.  I've written about it and discussed it with my mom, Ryan, my friends, coworkers, even my book club.

The book club said something that resonated with me.  "There's so much emphasis on being happy all the time."  Yes!  Why am I spending so much time and energy trying desperately to reach this thing that would be probably occur more naturally if I just relaxed a little?  And is it so freaking important to be happy all the time?

Ryan and I were sitting and watching TV and I felt quietly content.  I told him so and said maybe, as adults, that's our new happiness.  A coworker said the same thing.  I said something about "being mindful and finding joy in every moment" and he laughed and said, "That doesn't exist!"  He then described an evening after his kids (3) were in bed and no one was running, yelling, or trying to give him a wet willy.

So this idea of shifting to seeking serenity and contentment instead of joy almost feels like a relief to me.  Joy takes energy, joy is a level of emotion I haven't felt much of since my teenage years, when they were equally interspersed with dark moods of depression and anger.

When I talked to my mom, I repeated pretty much all of these comments because I tell her everything, and when I got to the part about mindfulness and essential oils and gratitude lists she said, "That's not joy!  That's just busywork."

And I kind of like that.  Every single moment of joy I've had in the last few months has been from my baby.  I didn't seek them out.  I didn't journal them or scent myself into aromatherpied bliss.  I just held him or watched him or listened to his little giggle.  And it just happened.

But I will say this.  The past week of following that new schedule I set up, and getting enough sleep, I have had more of those little moments than I'd previously had in a month.

So like my tangent in the last post - I think you need a strong base, and then after that life and happiness and success will follow.  I don't think those things need so much work and I don't think it's the end of the world if they don't happen right away or right when and how you want them.

Serenity is good, too.  My favorite moments of this past week have been quietly watching TV on the couch with Ryan, or just talking.  My evening routine where I'm alone and NOT working for a whole hour!  I brush my hair and teeth and, yes, I journal.  But I think by forcibly removing myself from my phone, I've given myself quiet space to think and be calm and I think I really, really needed that.

It's somewhat ironic that a year or two ago, the idea of giving up on happiness and "joy" were somewhat depressing.  It felt like settling.  Now, the idea of joy is exhausting and aiming for serenity instead makes me feel calmer and more relaxed.  I don't want to work hard right now.  I want to conserve the mental energy I have left for actually doing things and not on having the proper mindset while I do them.

Maybe one day I'll switch back.  Babies grow up and I'll have more time to myself, to be alone and to work on myself.  But for now, trading in joy for serenity is not such a bad deal at all.

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In My Darkest Moments

Remember how I was so positive I didn't have postpartum depression?  Well, I read on someone's blog (and I didn't research this because I really just don't see the point of dwelling on it too much) that postpartum is actually NOT characterized by typical feelings of sadness and hopelessness, but anger, irritation, and lashing out at loved ones.

Huh.

IF that is true (and I'm still not going to Google it), then there's a teeny, tiny chance that perhaps my counselor was right and I was having a bit of postpartum.  Perhaps.

Because I've been pretty damn reactive ever since having the baby.  Every little thing is irritating, and for a long, long time I was mad at Ryan at least once a day every single day.  Sometimes for most of the day.

Although part of me thinks this is more due to sleep deprivation than anything else, but even after a whole week! of getting 6+ hours, I'm still less tolerant than I'd like to be.

That friend needing favors and always wanting to talk about her wedding.  OMFG, leave me alone!

Any moment I'm working (which is 99% of the time) and Ryan isn't (almost never but it does happen).  HOW DARE YOU?!  Can't you see how tired I am?  Why do YOU get a break???

That friend whose marriage is shit, and her job pays shit, and she's pregnant and wants me to be happy for her.  I'm trying, I really am, but Jesus, woman!  Get your life together.

Toast peeing on the rug for the bajillionth time, and always being afraid, and having so many needs.  I'm sorry baby dog, but I have, for the first time ever since getting our first dog, had the occasional wistful thought about how much easier life would be without you.  For the record, we DO NOT get rid of pets.  I also don't drive off of bridges, or punch people in the face, but you know how the mind wanders sometimes.

When people are so proud of themselves for not being interested in something that's currently popular or trending or whatever.  Oh, you don't love pumpkin spice?  My, what a rare, special unicorn you are!  Oh, the eclipse is boring?  I'm so glad you're proud of being uninterested in science.  I just don't see the point in talking about how you don't want to talk about something.  Why not, instead, just talk about what you want to talk about?

Unsolicited advice, from anyone.

Woo-woo.  In my personal life, sure, but I've run out of patience for manifesting, law of attraction, and any other supposed business advice that life coaches use to make money off of other people.  One life coach had us all stating our "true" income goals, and encouraged us to be ambitious.  Her number?  $100,000/month.  WTF?  Who makes that much, other than CEOS?  What would you even do with that much money?  It's a ridiculous fucking number pulled out of her ass that has no bearing to the value of her services or the likelihood that she'll ever offer enough product or service to get there.  And she's going to manifest it by believing it's true.  I'm so done with this bullshit.

In a similar vein, quick fixes.  Anyone telling me I can make "quick, easy money" from their shady-ass MLM, or that I can make money by manifesting instead of working, I can be healthy from essential oils instead of diet and exercise, or happy just by keeping a gratitude list and lighting some candles.  Life is work, people!  Even happiness is work and sure, some of those techniques help but only after being applied consistently over time.  And they're no replacement for having a solid base.  A healthy lifestyle, a healthy mindset, a life and job you want to be living, a strong work ethic, and a good business model.

Now, I'm not in a constant state of irritation, but it doesn't take much and in some of my darker moments, I feel this, all of this, all at once.  It's overwhelming.  So yeah, anything taking up extra mental energy, and everything nonessential, is getting set aside at the moment.

Call it an act of self care, all this stepping back and letting go and minimizing down.  I've got the essential oils, too, but I think the biggest contributor to feeling better and removing some of this irritable haze from my days is the extra sleep and endorphins from running 3 days a week.

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Oct 5, 2017

I Get That I Don't Get It

Remember how worried I was about having a child "changing me"?  I've had some time to reflect on that and I think I was guilty of 2 things: 1) Not fully understanding what it's like to be a parent and 2) Being really fucking judgy.

So I've had a baby for 8 months.  I'm still me.  I still like all the same things and I'd love to run around and do those things.  But in order to make time for them, I have to not spend time with my child, not work on my business, or lose sleep and/or a precious scrap of time to myself.

It's a lot harder to get out and do all those things I was running around doing before and the trade off doesn't necessarily look all that appealing when you're tired.

So Dear Past Self,

Kindly fuck off.

Lol!  Just kidding.  That's unnecessarily harsh.  But it's totally true that I was over here like, "New parents just change and lose themselves in their children" and on and on and I had no idea what was actually happening in their lives or why they were making those choices.

We do not have a baby sitter outside of my mom.  A few friends have offered in the past but, frankly, it seemed either half-hearted, logistically difficult, or (in one case) we weren't sure could actually handle it.  So we didn't take them up on it.  Roommate actually babysat once or twice, but he's got a second job now and is rarely home.

As you may recall, we HAD a nanny, but she hurt her back after a mere one week of watching the baby, so she is no longer an option even for occasional childcare.  Of course, I could pay for another month of Care.com and screen through a bunch of strangers, hoping for another good option.  Or recruit more seriously among my friends, or any number of things.

So yeah, we should find a babysitter.  But even if we did, now that Orion's in daycare, I don't feel like I spend THAT much time with him.  Thursdays and the weekends.  So to go out and do something with someone else, I'm literally prioritizing them over time with my baby.

Dear Past Self,

Did you think you deserved to be more important to someone than their own baby?  No, you did not.  You just never thought about that at all.

I do happily go out and do things when babies are welcome.  He goes to dinner and the dog park and the store and museums and anywhere else someone won't side eye us.  He's even been on an airplane, despite the side eye.  (And that lady was a total asshole before we even boarded.)

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm trying, in a kind of tired, half-assed way.  If everyone else who supposedly wanted to see me would compromise just a tad, even in their own half-assed way, we'd see a lot more of each other.  Example: We went to the beach all the way in New Jersey because my bloggy buddies Alyssa, Michael, and Dani wanted the baby there.  That birthday part the baby couldn't come to?  Yeah, we'll come but only for one hour because my mom doesn't want to put the baby to bed and I don't blame her.

To better sum up: we're a package deal now.  And I know that's not optimal and I know there are a lot of activities that are better and more fun without a baby.  But I made the choice to have a baby and I accepted all those trade-offs.  I guess my friends didn't necessarily agree to the trade-offs when I got pregnant, but they're also not the ones living my life.

I'm just rambling now, but if there's any point to be had in here it's this: you really don't know what you're talking about until you experience something.  And if you're thinking, "She's just saying that because she's a mom now" you're right!  I was totally judgy and not sympathetic and now I have a kid, and holy crap I get it!

My own personal goal is to chill out a little and stop judging people in situations I haven't experienced.  Because I am wrong all the freaking time.

Even about something as basic as love or instinct or whatever.  Prior to baby, I thought, "Sure, yeah, parents love their kids.  Duh!"

Now I'm like, "NO!  I did not get it.  I LOVE my kids.  I love my kid so intensely that I don't know if I'd want to keep living if something happened to him.  Which is not necessarily good or healthy but it's the truth."

I'm not even going to think about that any more because it makes me upset.

So anyway, I guess the point is not just not to judge, but to be ok with not getting it.

There's a South Park episode (and yeah, South Park is kind of gross - I usually don't watch) where one of the kid's dads says the "n" word.  Token (the "token black character") is upset about it and the kid (white) keeps trying to make it up to him and saying, "I get it.  Why won't you accept my apology?"

Finally at the end of the episode, the white kid says, "I get it.  I get that I don't get it and I could never get it."  (And many more words that I don't remember.)

Token says, "Now, you're getting it."

Lol!!!  Ridiculous, but it stuck with me because the whole point was that there are some experiences we can't understand because we have never and maybe even could never be in that person's shoes.

My book club recently discussed Bad Feminist and the one chapter where I felt completely distanced from the group was the one on weight.  I like that we occasionally address this topic but in this case the author had said something about a book about fat camp where the main character was traumatized by being 30 pounds overweight and how unrealistic that is.

I am overweight.  The rest of the book club is not.  Now, I'm not obese and I'm not overweight to the level that Gay talks about in the book where you don't fit into clothes outside of plus size stores, and you don't always fit on public transport and people treat you like shit.  But I guess being overweight and having friends who are closer to that side of the spectrum makes me more sensitive to that point of view.

The rest of the book club thought Gay was being too judgy for saying you can't be traumatized by a 30 pound weight gain.  I thought they were ridiculous for thinking 30 pounds overweight could compare to 100 or 200 pounds overweight.

In both cases, I think we should probably just assume there are experiences we don't understand.  They couldn't possibly understand what it feels like to not know if you'll be over the weight limit for things you want to do, and I can't possibly understand feeling traumatized by 30 pounds because I've gained it and more and still think I'm fabulous.

I'm sure there's more examples I could apply it to, but I'm just beating a dead horse at this point.  Let's all chill and try to be more understanding.

Jenn out.

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Oct 3, 2017

What Blogging Means to Me

It's interesting how my answer (and probably your answer, too) has changed to this over time.  At one point I had newly discovered how cathartic blogging could be and I wrote a post on The Psychological Impacts of Blogging.  (I was prepared to reread this and cringe but it's actually pretty solid.  Good job, past me.)  At that time it felt exciting and, I'll confess, I was a little wrapped up in the numbers game.

How many views can I get?  How many people commented on that post?  What can I write that people will like?

Now I'm lazy.  I've tried to quit a couple times and failed because I just enjoy it too much.  Each time I "quit" and came back, I shed a little more of that fake sense of obligation to provide value to others.  (I say fake because I never intended to monetize so why stress over numbers or who does or does not like my posts?)

I still write to "you" and love having discussions with people who comment, but it's almost like a diary at this point.  I've even thought about making the blog private and literally using it as a diary since I've never successfully journaled and that would open this space up to the last few remaining taboo topics.

But I'm not quite there yet, which indicates that the community holds some sway over me, still, small and intimate as it is.  I learned about Tony Robbins' 6 Basic Needs not too long ago and concluded that, for me, blogging hits every single one of them.
  • Certainty - I know how writing makes me feel
  • Uncertainty - I don't know how people will respond (although I'm fairly confident that it'll be generally positive)
  • Significance - What?  People care enough about little ol' me to come here and read my words???
  • Love & Connection - Daw, you guys...
  • Growth - Like the primary thing I write about.  This is my self actualization journey up in heah!
  • Contribution - This is a tenuous connection, especially as I continue to downsize and make my blog harder to access, but I always like it when someone says I've given them an idea or a new way to think about things.  Let's be honest here, who doesn't like knowing they've impacted someone else?
But anyway, back on the "I do what I want" topic.  One thing I'm starting to appreciate more and more about this space is that I literally can write whatever and however I want.  I'm blogging somewhat steadily over on my business website and I'm using the SEO plugin on WordPress and trying to get the green light on my readability score and every once in a while I feel really resentful.

What?  That sentence is too long?  Oh, people don't know that word?  Are you serious - my paragraphs are too long?!?!  FINE!  I'll add more images and bullets.

I still enjoy it, for the most part, but there is definitely a lot more effort that comes into play when you have to write within certain parameters.  And here I don't have to worry about the balance between professionalism and boring.  I don't have to provide value.  I can abuse grammar to my heart's content and string those sentences on and on and on.

Most of all, I can use whatever phrasing I want.  I hate the idea of "dumbing down" articles.  I understand that ease of use is important on the Internet and that people just want to skim and get the content out without a lot of time spent deciphering my language.  But I also think context provides the answer to any questions they might have on verbiage.

I'll be honest - I probably don't follow any blogs specifically for their turn of phrase.  I follow because I like them as a person or because I get value out of the posts.  But my favorite authors almost always have little quirks of phrasing that I enjoy, or they set the scene really well.  I enjoy vivid imagery.  I enjoy soaking into the world of my favorite fantasy novels.

So while I'm certainly not going to start writing fantasy short stories, I still appreciate the ability to express myself in as many, or few, words as I want.  I like saying "loathed" or "despised" instead of "hated."

I talked before about my friend finding journey and how I've given up on having friends that can empathize with all the levels.  Now they're compartmentalized into art friends or mom friends or business friends.  Sometimes they hit 2 or even 3 levels, but this blog is literally the one place (other than to my mom) where I can be all the levels.

I can talk about my business, I can post my weekly workouts, I can write my reviews of fantasy books.  Now that I've ceased to care about comment count, I could even post those fantasy short stories if I really wanted to and I was still writing them.

I get to be completely and fully myself, without topic moderation, without watching for eyes glazing to indicate I should stop talking business or sci-fi or what have you.

I can be sassy and snarky and sometimes outright whiny.  And when I do get comments, almost without fail you guys are positive and helpful and nice.  You are always on my side and more forgiving of my faults than I am myself.  It's ridiculous.  In my personal blogging experience, this little circle is comprised of the best followers of the "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" philosophy that I've ever met.

So that's it.  To me blogging is like my little hidey hole where I can read a book with a bag of chocolate and no bra, judgement-free, combined with a stream of inspirational and supportive comments from friends.  It's not just the comfort of solitude or the reassurance of other people.  It's both together.

What does blogging mean to you?  If you had to abuse your blog with elaborate metaphors and similes, how would you describe it?


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Oct 2, 2017

Cutting Shit Out

Another thing I've been talking about with only minimal success in implementing: pruning.

It was so hard to hold firm and stick with my "No."  To be actually done and not just taking a break for a day or two.

But I've been finding myself more and more irritable lately.  Irritated with the blogs I've been reading, not wanting to leave or respond to comments, and after vacillating between turning off comments and just hiding the blog altogether, finally choosing the latter.

This is officially my space to sort out my thoughts and write purely for pleasure.  I actually quite enjoyed selecting the 15+ comments in my inbox and deleting them without even looking.  Sorry guys!

On a similar note, I'm going to exercise the crap out of "No" in order to adhere to that routine I posted.  I'm going to stop giving myself choices and hope that the break from making decisions gives me back some of the willpower I've been stretching too thin.

I do think my social life and friendships are going to take a hit, but at this point it's time to finally accept that something must give.  I know I'm not going to stop prioritizing my baby or my business, so if I get a 3rd priority before running out of energy or time, it needs to be myself or Ryan.

I almost wrote this post a couple days ago.  It would have been a lot sadder at that point.  I was going to write this:

"I am failing.  I feel like I am failing everyone and everything and I can't keep up with any of it.  I'm a huge mess and as I continue to overload myself, I feel more and more irritated and I don't want to put up with anyone's shit."

So I'm glad to come to this place of calm and acceptance.  I'm ready to let go.  I'm ready to make changes.  I'm ready to admit I cannot do all the things and to choose 4 or 3 or even just 2 and really kick ass at those 2 things.

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Routine Building

You all know how much I've been struggling with routines.  Ryan and I will have our Friday night family discussion and we talk about what worked and what didn't and how we want the next week to go.

Friday night has long been set aside as date night but I broke that this past week and had a friend come over to work on her Save the Dates for her wedding. He was a little annoyed, and he said something like, "You have to decide that you're going to actually do this." And normally I might brush that off as crankiness but he had a point.

I've been struggling so hard to get on a routine and that's why. Because I break my own rules and make exceptions all the time. So I took my optimal daily schedule that I've had floating around in my head and put it on my Trello board for "this week." If I do anything that's not included in the schedule, I have to choose something to bump off. I think having that visual and realizing I can't actually "do both" or "get it all done" will help me say no to more things.


I'm actually really excited about this, which is silly because I've tried so many things and they haven't worked. But, but, Trello! Everything works if it's on Trello!!!

The colors are for different types of activities and the ones with my picture are the work tasks that are supposed to be completed in each of those time slots. I don't currently estimate how long each of those tasks is going to take but maybe I should, to get really clear on whether they'll fit in the time spots I'm putting them in.

This is also good because with the colors I can easily visualize how much time in my week is being allotted to different priorities, like exercise or family.  I added a couple things like "spend time actually playing with baby and not doing anything else" because I realized I literally didn't have any time slots for him.  He was just an obstacle that the rest of my routines were working around.

I can even specify a theme for each day:
  • M - Errands
  • T - Paying the bills
  • W - Working ON the business
  • Th - Family
  • F - Working IN the business
  • S - Social
  • Su - Relaxation
Only quasi-related, this blog is now secret and private and I'm still writing to "you guys" mostly out of habit, but I guess if I ever republish people might see it again.  For now this is a private journal to get my head straight and work through stuff and the task of "replying to comments," enjoyable as it may be, is one I've deprioritized and removed from my life.

More on that in the next post.

Jenn signature graphic | Optimization, Actually