Friday, January 13, 2017

Breathing Through It

This week has been a tough one, and I find myself coming back to Sara's word: Breathe. And its saved me. I think I'll add it to my word; its a perfect counterpoint: SAVOR the good times, BREATHE through the rest.

Call weeks are always tough, and I'm still dealing with the lingering sickness. But more than any of that, the reality of what is happening in this country is hitting me yet again, after allowing myself to be distracted by holidays & celebrations & travel. I am firmly back in the Upside Down and while I am somewhat angry, worried & fearful,  right now I mostly just feel...bereft.

I watched Obama's farewell without shedding a single tear. Yet when I heard him call Joe Biden his "brother" the way my sweet, loving L does to his best friend, I lost my composure and haven't quite gained it back. I'm breathing through my grief. While I don't agree with every decision our president has made in the past 8 years, I am without a single doubt that he is an intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and decent man. A good man, that I am proud to call my leader, that I want my kids to look up to and emulate. I just can't reconcile what is happening right now---every day brings some new horror that keeps me up at night (because of course, my husband likes to have conversations at 9PM, and hell if I can fall asleep with that on my mind).

Breathe in...1...2...3...breathe out...1....2....3. Its getting me through the day and night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Driven Snow

This phrase always confused me...until I realized that "driven" meant "blown into drifts", I assumed it meant it had been "driven on" by horse-carts or cars and thus anything but pure or white. Our snow is grey and dingy today and I hope it melts soon. Also because this would mean temps above freezing.

I am now the proud owner of a brand new planner and bullet journal notebook. I hope to spend tonight organizing both. Now I just need some fancy pens! Something about the fresh new planners has inspired me to buy some nicer writing implements.

Our HelloFresh box never showed up yesterday, so we each ate our own random dinners. It was so relaxing, even with making essentially 4 different "meals" (I ate frozen TJ's pot stickers with sauteed green beans, G ate leftover homemade chicken bites and nuts, L ate instant oatmeal, and B ate mac & cheese from a box with peas). The whole act of figuring out something we would all like, making it, nagging the kids to eat it...sometimes its too much. Its nice to have a break. Maybe we should just eat random freezer & pantry foods 2-3 times a week, and have home-cooked meals the other days. Cooking & feeding my family healthy, homemade meals used to be a big priority for me, but its starting to move way down the list as other things vie for my attention.

I made it to the gym this morning! It was...hard. I had to stop a few times and catch my breath/shake out my legs (jumping lunges, I hate you). I had a friend text me last night for motivation...and then she snoozed her alarm and never made it.

The past 2 nights I've randomly woken up at 1AM feeling up and ready for the day; its taken me about an hour to wind down and fall asleep again Weirdly this same thing happened to me last January. I thought it was the medication regimen that I started last spring/summer that was helping me sleep, but maybe I have some weird seasonal insomnia disorder?

At 1AM, I made a list in my head of all the things I needed to discuss with G. Why don't I think of these things at 9PM? I have nothing to say at 9PM. I finally unloaded it all on him at 7:15AM when he woke up. So now we have a date night planned in 2 weeks, a family dinner with friends on Saturday, a trip to visit my sister in February, a June concert we need to buy tickets for this week, and children/dog logistics for the rest of the week done. 

 Thus end my random musings.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Title inspired by Justine's recent comment on my post re: trying to savor your kids even though they are driving you bananas.

Guys. My boys are challenging me right now. Especially B. He's been SO ANGRY all the time. His "New Year's Goal" (G gave him a lecture about S.M.A.R.T. goals when he brought up "resolutions" from a Winne-the-pooh movie he watched) was to work on handling his anger (try different methods for breathing, distraction), and we've had LOTS of time to practice, discuss, and fail. He is just constantly sad/upset/lashing out and its hard to be around. I've lashed right back at him, somewhat shamefully at times. We may need to look back into outside help. L is his old stuff, alternating between cheerful, cuddly, hilarious monkey and shrieking, spitting, squawk-bird. He's so refreshingly typical even if a bit of a "handful".

So this weekend was...OK. Despite my oh-so-productive first morning back, right after I hit "post" I started feeling not so good. So I'm sick. I haven't worked out since we've been back, not once. This weekend I barely left the house. It snowed. We played in it some. L actually enjoyed it.

There were highlights. I met some colleagues after work Friday. It was a "planned exception" to the dry month and I had one beer. I never see these people socially, so it was new, and I was pretty quiet, but it was nice to get out. We (the younger faculty) are going to try to make this a regular thing, and its never a bad idea to commiserate about your struggles to someone who gets it.

Sunday I was one of two judged for a neighborhood "Chopped"-style cooking competition. This was SO FUN. I got a delicious (though unusual...there were weird ingredients) brunch and met some awesome neighbors. This will also turn into a semi-regular thing and we have plans to make it more fun (wine!)

I also uncluttered like a BOSS and got rid of so much stuff. I'm done with: bathrooms, my clothes & jewelry, books, office supplies, kids clothes, & kids toys. Some of these categories I keep up with regularly so there wasn't much to do (kids clothes, I get rid of all of L's clothes at the end of each season). I still need to do: kitchen (excited about this one), paper (filing cabinet), pantry, coat closet, kids' books. This does not include any of G's stuff---he's on his own for that, and I have no idea when/if he is going to work on it. He says he wants to, and he's best when left alone to find his own inspiration.

I slept terribly last night despite the usual medication combination. I couldn't fall asleep until after 11, then I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm on call this week which...blah. I am DETERMINED to go to my Tues and Thurs AM work outs.

Happy new week.

Friday, January 6, 2017

2017 Word of the Year: Savor

I know its become a "thing" in popular culture to complain about the year we just finished, but SERIOUSLY, 2016 was not awesome for me on so many levels. Any year in which you become depressed and take several months to realize, and then treat, said depression is forever labeled a shitty year in my book. Add on everything else (B's issues, diagnosis, and continued issues, both of my parents were hospitalized several times, we are spending $$$ trying to bail MIL out of her financial troubles, rejected grants and name a few off the top of my head).

I feel like a large part of last year was about just getting through. Head down, power through, try not to think or feel too much lest I get stuck. I don't want to live that way forever, though. I want to get back into the practice of stopping, noticing, wondering, and feeling.

Hence my pick for this years word: SAVOR. I thought about "slow" or "quiet", but sometimes what you really need is to run FAST or sing LOUD. I just want to take time out of each and every day to appreciate and linger over the amazing things you can miss if you forget to look.

I'm hoping this word will also translate to my relationship with food. I eat, and drink, as if its a contest. I want to stop the habit of gobbling and gulping mindlessly, and really focus on the flavors and textures. I think it will be more satisfying, and...hopefully...lead to eating/drinking less. Maybe? This one is a stretch, I know.

I've already begun working on this. I spent a long time playing with L as he took a bath the other day---reveling in how his growing body can barely stretch out in the tub anymore. How much longer will he want to play with his bath toys, pretending they are cakes and ice creams he is serving me from his rest-u-ant. I slowly ate my lunch, chatting with a colleague, today, tasting the crunch of the peanuts, the chewy rice, the hearty chicken. I slowed my walk and looked at the way the sun hit the clouds, and the breeze swirled around. I relished each sip of hot, pleasurable tea....ha ha NO! Just kidding. I still hate tea.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 First Quarter Goals

I love the idea of quarterly goals---just the right amount of time and pressure to accomplish meaningful things. This is what I've laid out for winter '17

  • Declutter/purge house top-to-bottom
  • 1 on 1 time with each kid at least every other week. I signed B and I up for a 5-week ice skating class on Sunday mornings so we'll do that. I'll have to think of what to with L 
  • Plan our summer: camps, vacations, grandparent time & sign up for camps/time away as needed
  • PTA involvement (I'm running for secretary but even if I don't win, I'll join and help out...apparently the whole thing fell apart recently and we want to build it back up)
  • Weekly "political activism" hour for phone calls. I HATE this so I need to "eat the frog" and do it every Monday because I've definitely fallen off the wagon on this and I don't want to become complacent. Nicoleandmaggie post great "action items" on their blog
  • Call parents and MIL at least weekly
  • Call 4 best far-away friends one time each before end of quarter. Set up phone calls by text/email if needed
  • Submit 2 papers (it never happened in December)
  • Submit pilot grant in January
  • Start re-submission for April grant in February
  • Weekly planning time every Friday morning (the afternoons are too crazy and it gets dropped)
  • "Dry" January (G and I are doing this together which will make it easier!) and then stick to recommended weekly limit
  • Challenge myself with reading. Aside from my usual contemporary fiction, read 1 non-fiction and 1 classic (Anna Karenina? There are lists for this sort of thing)
  • Try various guided meditation apps and find one I can stick to for 5-10 minutes/day. Try various locations & times of day to find the one that sticks. My therapist, internist, and psychiatrist all keep telling me that meditation is a great adjunct to therapy/medication for anxiety and yet...
It looks like SO MUCH all laid out like that, yet a lot of it is stuff I already need to do (i.e. work, plan summer) and the rest of it is supposedly good stuff.. I will certainly have to look back in April and see how I did.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Winter Break Wrap-Up and New Year Kick-Off

And we're off to a fresh start yet again! Before I drown you with my usual deluge of goals and words and plans (and don't worry, I have plenty of those in store!), I'll fill you in on our winter holiday happenings.

I not only survived, but mostly enjoyed, our long, LONG trip to MIL-land. Something has definitely shifted in our relationship, and its made a world of difference. We arrived on Christmas Eve and put up the tree and wrapped up presents for the kids. They were super excited to see that Santa (and mom & dad & grandma) pulled through with toys and games that they played with for about 30 minutes before asking to "watch something". B's birthday was the next day and we only had moderate drama (mostly L, because it was intolerable that it was not HIS birthday). We went to see Moana, made a triple-chocolate cake, and had some family over for pizza in the evening. Also more presents. We did absolutely nothing special for NYE, though we did stay awake, watching a movie. 

We also went and saw two grown up movies: Rogue One, which put me to sleep immediately---or maybe it was the wine & dinner preceding it, and Manchester by the Sea which was the saddest thing I have EVER seen in my life. It was wonderfully written and acted and so so heartbreaking.

We saw two sets of friends and had a few dinners out, took the kids to the museum, jumping place, movies, and 3 different parks, went to the gym several times (I let G show me around the weight room and did strength training, which I hadn't done in years. I realized why I stopped doing it---its boring and involves a lot of waiting for people to finish things), completed many household up-keep projects, I did 3 whole puzzles, played hours and hours of "Mini Metro" on my phone (its super fun and addictive) and drank an ocean's worth of wine (I was at my MIL's house for 11 days. Sure its BETTER, but come on). The kids had limitless screen time, because that's how my MIL rolls, and whatever, it was vacation for them.

After about a week I was starting to get really antsy and ready to get back to real life and start the fresh year. I definitely have a limit to how much "nothing" I can do. We got home last night & I crashed as soon as I put the boys to bed. I left the house before they woke up and saw 7 patients, wrote 7 notes, cleaned out my EMR in-box & called 3 patients, met with my research assistant to plan experiments and study visits, ordered a new planner & bullet journal notebook, scheduled the dog walker, emailed my dad, and had a lunch with a friend/colleague in which we came up with a potential idea for collaboration! After I write this, I'm going to plan the rest of the week and then I have to leave to take B for his flu shot at the pediatricians office. Tonight I unpack, move my stuff into my brand new shiny & waterproof backpack, and get back to the book I'm reading for book club before I get in bed for my 5:30 AM wake up and work-out.

MAN I'm ready for this year. Bring it on! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

For What Its Worth...

I've thought about posting here, many times. Just never felt motivated enough to actually do it. Its been a fun, full couple of weeks. I am, however, starting to feel a little underlying anxiety about our upcoming long-ass trip to MIL. Its just such a long time to spend together, without the distraction of work and our usual activities at home. I can do anything for 11 days, I can do anything for 11 days,... This mantra got me through tough months in residency, call stretches in fellowship, and many many MIL visits!

Operation Moderation has been a resounding...failure. Not that I'm not moderating. The execution is going pretty well, despite many outings and occasions. Its the OUTCOME that is sub-optimal. I just keep gaining. Now my freaking pajama pants feel uncomfortably tight! I'm pretty sure it is related to the P@xil but I'm not sure what to do about it, besides eat less and less. I'm thinking of tabling this whole thing until January, because holidays/family stress and "dieting" don't mix well for me. Add hangry to the usual frustrations and you've got a disaster waiting to happen.

We had B's 7th birthday party last weekend. Lego Ninjago was the theme, and we had super cute Ninjago cupcakes (that i made & G decorated), a Ninjago pinata, and 45 minutes of karate facilitated by the instructors at the studio B goes to for karate/after-school care. The highlight for all the kids was getting to kick a wooden board in half. Man they were so proud, it was adorable. A lot of his classmates showed up, and some other friends. We had a box of wine for the adults, and plenty of pizza. A good time was had by all. I think we throw good parties. Low-key, low-budget, good fun. The kids were talking about it in the drop off line Monday morning, so clearly it was a hit.

I usually look forward to the fresh clean slate of a new year, but for some reason 2017 is not calling to me. I mean, this was a remarkably shitty year for me personally and as a citizen of the world. I wish I could feel hopeful that next year will be better---and the threshold is set pretty damn low here---but it seems like the world is falling apart around us, spiraling downward faster than I can blink. I will focus on my own little corner and the small ways I can help and then try my best to be present and enjoy the journey. I can do anything for 1461 days...just doesn't have the same ring to it.