I’m going off-line. I just deactivated my Facebook account and I won’t be blogging for at least six weeks, maybe more. I’d tell you why, but it would defeat the purpose of what I’m doing here. Bye for now!
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Yes, yes, I am in the process of writing Leo and Zoe’s 4 month update (two weeks late already!) and I know that is what you are really interested in, but in keeping with my selfish parenting principles, I thought I’d write about me first.
As you can probably tell by the long pause in blogging, December was a difficult month. Zoe and Leo are doing well, but we had a lot of hiccups. Under normal circumstances, I manage to keep things under control – barely. But if one little thing goes wrong, it gets hard. In December, we had a few little illnesses (just sniffles), I hurt my back, Sam was on holiday from school, my babysitter got sick, there was Christmas itself, and my babysitter spent m0re time with her family. That was enough to put blogging (and a lot of other things) on the back burner. Adam was home a bit more than usual, but he did most of the work for Christmas – setting up the decorations, wrapping presents, etc., so that was a wash in terms of taking care of babies. The back injury required muscle relaxers which meant that I couldn’t breastfeed, which meant that I had to pump to keep up my milk supply. That was a horrible week. Anyway, when you’re living on the edge like this and something goes wrong, it’s like cascade failure. One problem causes another, and another, and another, and that went on pretty much the whole month.
The other thing that happened in December was the onset of mild postpartum depression. Just like with Sam, I was fine for months before I noticed a problem. I’m not even sure if what I’m going through would be called PPD or just “baby blues.” I just tend to find the negative in everything, and as soon as I finish the day’s work, all I want to do is crawl into bed and watch Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab. Even if I had had more time, I didn’t want to blog because I had nothing good to say. I feel good today, so I’m hoping to get two posts done, but I make no promises. I might just crawl back into that hole in a few hours.
Along with the depression came the lovely part of postpartum life when all your hair falls out. Clumps of my hair are everywhere. My psoriasis is worse than it’s ever been, and my mystery pain is coming back. And in December, I didn’t lose any weight. My scale tells me that I gained a tenth of a pound. Maybe I don’t have PPD after all – who wouldn’t be down with all of that going on?
In fact, maybe I’m depressed because I haven’t been blogging. Or maybe it is just the shortened days of winter. Who knows – causality is beyond me right now – I’m just getting through each day.
It probably sounds worse than it is. I’ve done some thinking on paper and have plans to address the things that are under my control. I plan to keep using my babysitter this semester and not to skimp on that help. That’s the thing that keeps me most sane, and allows me to spend time with Sam. Sam going back to school will help too. I have doctor’s appointments lined up to deal with my health issues. The return of the pain scares the crap out of me, but I need to remember that, even if I don’t know why I have the pain, I do have a way to make it better: the PRP therapy I had a few years ago. I’ll do that before I let it get so bad that I’m crawling up and down the stairs. I’m letting go of the weight loss goal for now. I don’t think I have much control of it while breastfeeding, so I’ll just try to maintain, and address it again when my hormones settle down. But so that I don’t cry every time I have to get dressed to go outside the house, I’m buying some fat clothes. I hate to do it, but it’s better than the alternative. With Sam, I refused to buy any new cl0thes because I would not accept my new weight, and I’ve spent the past 5 years wearing whatever I could pick up at Target while shopping for soap and towels and boxed wine. There are other actions I plan to take, too, like setting up regular date nights with Adam and things like that.
But with all the talk of New Year’s resolutions, I feel even more pathetic. I hear people planning to get in shape, travel, start a new career, or other such ambitious notions. My resolutions are to keep showering every day and to eat more sushi. My plans are so small. Really? Going out for dinner with my husband twice a month is an action-item? Yes, it is, and it is difficult to achieve. I don’t know why I find it so hard to accept that taking care of Leo and Zoe has to trump so many other things, but I do. I did this dropping context thing with Sam too, and I thought I learned my lesson: that it is all just temporary. But even though I know that, it bugs me. I want to be doing those ambitious things, too.
And that brings me to my final note. I do have one project that is ambitious. In fact, in my context, it is a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal). It is time to begin the real preparation for homeschooling. Sam graduates from Montessori in June, and I plan to start working with her in August. I figure if I start now, I’ll be ready by then. And that is exciting. Still, instead of starting at the beginning of January like I had planned, I have to put it off for at least two weeks to catch up after crazy December.
As you can see, my emotions about these things are all over the place. I feel like I’m doing nothing, but I have a huge goal in front of me. I want to hole up and watch tv, but I want to be out pursuing more values. It’s all part of the first year with babies, for me.
My latest MRI revealed that I almost surely do not have lupus, psoriatic arthritis, or any other systemic autoimmune disorder. That’s great news!
What I do have is tendonitis. I also have the equivalent of carpel tunnel syndrome in my ankle (tarsal tunnel syndrome), plantar fasciitis in my heel, and other inflamed areas around tendons and ligaments. That’s all in my right foot and ankle, so we’re assuming that the pain in the other areas of my body is of the same nature. Since I’ve had no injuries and I don’t overuse any of these parts of my body, my doctor thinks that I might have a genetic condition that makes me more susceptible to damage to my connective tissue. Basically, I’m fragile.
This concierge physician I hired is finally starting to pay off. The rheumatologist who ordered the MRI wanted to send me to a podiatrist for the foot problems and to a hand surgeon for my hand, and to specialists for every other part of my body that hurts. She did not integrate the evidence. My concierge physician did, and assures me that we will keep working to understand why this is happening so it can be treated in the most appropriate way. He agrees with me that it is absurd to see separate doctors for each area of the body. He and I agreed that the best step now is for me to go back to the pain specialist who performed my PRP therapy two years ago and get it done again. It cured me for over a year last time, and the fact that it worked is consistent with this tentative and vague diagnosis. I’m a little worried that I won’t have time to get it done before the donor egg process interferes, but I’ll find out in the next two weeks.
After that, the doctor wants me to have the genetic analysis he originally suggested. His very first theory about my pain was exactly this (apparently there are rare but known genetic disorders that cause this kind of fragility), and I thought it was such a remote possibility that I didn’t do the tests. I’m still not sure what it would get me to do the genetic testing – I mean, I don’t know if it would affect any decisions about long term treatment or management of my condition. I plan to talk to the doctor more about that in a couple of months, as well as discussing what else might be causing this besides a genetic abnormality. (The genetic analysis is expensive and not covered by insurance.) For now, I’m just trying to get myself back to being functional without meds.
But I’m feeling a huge sense of relief since getting this diagnosis. It’s somehow much less scary to have tendonitis than lupus, even though I really have no idea yet if my condition could be degenerative or have other long-term effects that are worse than lupus. But knowing that my pain is the same thing that people feel when they have tennis-elbow makes it seem less mysterious and threatening. I guess the real issue is that I have less uncertainty. Not knowing what was wrong with me was such a huge source of stress. Not knowing why it would get worse and worse was scary because I never knew where it would end – at one point I was convinced I would be bedridden in a hospital within months. Now I know that it gets worse because I keep moving. I can’t really live without moving, but at least I have a framework for understanding what is going on in my body, and I can develop a plan to deal with it.
I have to admit that I also have a sense of relief and validation that now I know that my doctors and others can’t write me off as a hypochondriac. I’ve had crippling pain, with absolutely no evidence of a health problem, for years now. I’ve had dozens of tests which, until now, have all been negative. I’ve been told to consider what I deem to be irrational, non-scientific answers such as fibromyalgia (whose definition is essentially “mystery pain” and so means nothing) and leaky-gut syndrome (which claims to explain practically every ailment known to man, and so can not possibly explain anything). I went by my own independent judgement and refused to accept anything that did not make sense to me, or which conflicted in principle with the rest of my knowledge, and I’ve been vindicated. Even when I was wrong (by not following the concierge physician’s initial advice), I had good reason, and I ended up at the truth in the end.
It’s been a real strain on my self-confidence, though. If I were Howard Roark or Dagny Taggart I might have been able to travel this path without self-doubt, but I have had a lot of self-doubt. Coming to this place now is more than just a step towards physical health – it’s also a great lesson for my mental health. I just spent three years trying to solve a problem and it seemed that at every turn, there was someone or something trying to convince me that I was deluded. But, by persisting and relying on my own judgment, I did solve the problem. Or, at least, I’ve begun to. It’s a great boon to my self-esteem, which, lately, has been very fragile itself.
On OGrownups, a mailing list for Objectivist parents, there has been some discussion of Kate Granju, a blogger (not an Objectivist) who recently lost her 18 year old son to drug addiction (he OD’d and was beaten and died after a month in the hospital). Kate blogged the entire situation, as it happened. At first, I tried to avoid reading her blog because I didn’t need any extra pain in my life, but when I read on OGrownups that her son had died, my curiosity overwhelmed me and I ended up spending 3 hours reading her blog from the time he was hospitalized until the present.
Before I go on, I need to say that I have so much sympathy for Kate and I think she is an extraordinarily brave woman for writing so honestly about her situation. Her frankness about this taboo subject is exactly what I’ve tried to do here on my blog regarding miscarriage. She is also an excellent writer and has many other virtues. I like her.
But what I want to talk about is something that came up on OGrownups that relates to something I’ve been working on in my own character. A couple of people (whom I respect and don’t mean to pick on) made comments about Kate facing reality (a good thing) and acting selfishly (another good thing). Read the linked posts for the full background, but basically, Kate is acknowledging that she did not fully face the reality of her son’s situation soon enough, and she is choosing to have an early, scheduled C-section with her current pregnancy because she can’t cope with the uncertainty of when a natural labor will occur (something that might be considered selfish).
I think it is a mistake to attribute to Kate the virtues of facing reality and of selfishness. It’s the kind of mistake I used to make all the time—well, I’m sure I still do, but I’m working on it. I am only speaking for myself here, but I have a long standing error of psychologizing others based on my own motivations. I am not objective in my view of other people. More concretely, I see others’ actions and words in terms of my own character, and since my own character is pretty damn good(!), this means I end up being much too generous in my judgments. (Occasionally I make the revserse mistake, too, though.) If I could see myself saying or doing the same thing, then I attribute my own reasons to the other person, even when there is no evidence for it. So when someone is, say, afraid to drive a car, instead of asking myself if that person has a pattern of acting fearfully or if they have something in their past which could explain it, I ask myself, “Have I ever been afraid of something for good reason?” and then I assume that they have as good a reason as I would have. It seems ridiculous when I write it out, but I’ve used this pattern of judging people for my whole life! It is very difficult to change, but I believe it explains a lot about my difficulties in judging and dealing with people.
So I’ve been working hard at being more objective in my evaluation of others, and the comments about Kate Granju set off my red flags. I don’t mean to make my usual mistake here and assume that the comments on OGrownups were made based on the same problem I have, but I did have to think through the evidence to figure out if I agreed that Kate Granju acted selfishly and was focused on reality, espcially since I already do like her and want to believe that. Here is a sample of my thought-process:
I don’t think Kate is really facing reality in her self-condemnation regarding her son’s drug problem. She blames herself for not seeing it as a disease sooner. It may be true that she made mistakes and did not face reality in the past, and it’s good if she can see that. But I note that on her blog she is more and more often calling her son’s addiction a “disease” and saying he was “sick.” I think this is a new evasion, not a recognition of reality. Calling addiction a disease is a way of evading the choice involved in using the substance or engaging in the behavior one is addicted to. I do not accept the “disease” label of addiction, and I can’t overlook Kate’s use of it as irrelevant. (I’m not going to make an argument here for that position – the point is just that I hold that principle and I can’t overlook it and assume it has no bearing on my judgment of her.)
I also don’t think that the idea that “this could happen to anyone” (an idea Kate seems to be really pushing) is valid in the case of addiction. That is the same as saying, “becoming a wife-beater could happen to anyone.” Becoming addicted ultimately rests on a series of choices, even if there are huge physiological factors involved. (Again, I’m not making a full argument here, but stating the principle I hold which applies.) There is an element of truth here, though, which is that parents cannot directly control their children’s behavior. Maybe Kate doesn’t mean that “addiction can happen to anyone” but that “anyone’s children could become addicts.” No matter how well you parent, your child has free-will and could indeed become an addict. But, paired with the “disease” theory, I can’t assume that Kate means it this way. And my hackles are raised just with the phrase itself. Cancer can happen to anyone and car accidents can happen to anyone, but we all know this so we get checkups and wear seatbelts and move on with our lives. We also teach our children the facts about drugs. Kate’s insistence upon this point sounds to me like she is looking for another way to evade awareness of the choices that were involved for her son, as if it were mere bad luck that he was an addict.
As for the C-section, Kate questions whether her decision might be “selfish,” (which she seems to define as better for her than for the baby) but I don’t think that means that she is acting selfishly, in the proper sense. Kate is religious and has lauded altruistic principles many times in her blog. There is no reason to think that she is acting out of selfishness, even if it appears so in some ways. In the past, I would think how I might make the same decision for selfish reasons and assume that she is doing the same (and I do, in fact, think it is a good decision). But there is no evidence that this is the case with Kate because of what I already know about her beliefs. This seems to be an instance of inconsistency, and as we Objectivists know, the bad/evil/immoral requires inconsistency since it is incompatible with life. Kate’s decision to have a C-section to satisfy her own needs looks to me exactly like those mothers who talk about how it’s ok to have “me-time.” They are not acting selfishly, but granting themselves an exception to the rule of altruism. Often, they will justify their “me-time” by claiming that it makes them better mothers, and it’s true – it does. For me, that would be an instance of “no conflicts of interest” but for them, it’s a rationalization. That is not selfishness, and neither is a choice like Kate’s.
Again, I don’t mean to denigrate Kate. I do think that she is virtuous in many ways, and I love her writing, and I certainly don’t think her son’s problem was her fault. Despite my views, I don’t think her son was necessarily a bad person because of his addiction. The whole thing is tragic and horrifying. And even though Kate Granju is not an Objectivist and is not just like me, I can still like her for what she is. And I’m starting to see how wonderfully clarifying it is to see people for what they are, instead of just through Amy-colored lenses. Now, that’s facing reality, if I do say so myself!
I finished my 2009 Accomplishments list before the end of January! (I’ll have to add that to my 2010 Accomplishments list.)
What struck me about this list is how heavy the home improvement category is. I mean, it really shouldn’t need its own category! I spent a great deal of time on this house and it looks like it will continue for much of this year. That’s ok with me. I enjoy the process and it’s very important to me to live in a pleasant, orderly environment. Still, I plan to work on shifting the balance at least a little bit in 2010.
Writing out the list was definitely a valuable exercise. I already felt like 2009 was a good year for me, but I had no idea that I did all of this! I am also in the process of writing out my future goals, and I used the Accomplishments list to remind me of things that I am already doing that I want to continue, or which fit into broader goals that I have.
I edited the list a bit for public consumption, and I’m sure it’s quite a bore to anyone but me, but just like the Three Good Things, planning to put it up here on the blog helped motivate me to both start and finish it. I bolded a few of the most significant accomplishments, but really, 2009 was a year of many Little Things. Here they are, loosely categorized but otherwise in no particular order:
- I did the Three Good Things exercise for about 6 months out of the year
- Made significant progress in my introspection work (details omitted)
- Organized and decorated and shopped and cooked for a great Christmas at home
- I took a fair amount of pictures and got some of them organized into photo albums
- Did volunteer work for ARI
- Got a fish
- I walked the dog regularly when the weather allowed
- I started getting monthly massages
- I managed my pain through massage and stress reduction, so that I had almost no pain all year
- I changed my diet and worked on new habits of shopping and cooking to suit it
- I started listening to music again
- I started listening to LP and DH podcasts
- I lost 8 pounds (and gained them back)
- I showered about 75% of the time
- I found an inexpensive hairdresser
- I joined a book club
- I read a few books in the Great Books Series, Ten Years of Reading project.
- I read many books
- I went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
- I went to the Reston Zoo
- I went to Mt. Vernon
- I started practicing the piano again
- Adam and I decided to have another baby
- I got pregnant
- I grieved a lost pregnancy
- I hosted a party for the first time since 1999
- I visited North Carolina
- I visited Florida
- I visited NYC
- I took a lot of videos of Sam
- I attended a talk by John Allison at The Ayn Rand Center
- I found a dentist
- I watched the entire Battlestar Galactica series
- I kept in touch with my friends
- Started using Skype with a few friends
- I hosted at least 23 different guests at my house
- I hosted a couple of playdates and took Sam out for a few.
- I attended a Tea Party protest
- Visited the Jefferson Memorial
- Visited the Smithsonian
- I found a dermatologist
- I graded essays for ARI
- I celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary
- I maintained my blog regularly all year – 554 posts
- I upgraded and added a few new features to the blog: subscribe to comments, search Objectivist parenting blogs, and Feedburner
- I more than tripled my blog readership during the year
- I added advertisements to my blog
- I made my first money with ads on the blog
- I hosted the Objectivist Round Up 4 times
- I decided to try fiction writing
- I started my first novel
- I came up with a few other story ideas
- Found a good housecleaner
- Installed a mirror in the bedroom
- Created a prioritized list of home improvement projects
- Got the toilets fixed and put on new toilet seats
- Got the basement laundry sink fixed
- Put up all of our art
- I designed and Adam put together my new, personalized office space with a short desk.
- Replaced the eat in kitchen light fixture
- I did a lot of unpacking and throwing away old junk from the previous occupants of this house, and continued the cleaning process
- Adam and I got rid of all of the cardboard boxes that we had been saving and hauling around for all of our moves.
- I cleaned the grout in the kitchen (a 2 month project)
- Had new windows installed
- Moved playroom to kitchen and created dining room
- New lighting in kitchen, dining room, basement, and foyer
- Got the roof fixed
- Started planning for painting the house
- I created and stuck to a budget for 10 months of the year
- I did the taxes
- I moved Sam’s 529 to VA
- I paid all the bills and did all the financial planning and reporting
- I was Sammy’s mommy for 365 days and nights and there is no way to list all of the accomplishments this involved
- I explored Positive Discipline parenting techniques
- Took Sammy to see “Go, Dog, Go,” the musical
- Did an “observation” at MSO
- Found a good and cheap babysitter
- Took Sammy to the pumpkin patch
- Planned and executed Halloween with Sammy, including lots of decorations
- Re-read Faber and Mazlish
- The daily schedule whiteboard
- The cooperation chart/new task chart
- I found Sam a new doctor
- I made up many songs
- I made 31 Valentines day cards with Sammy
- I found a Montessori school after a long quest
- I registered Sam for Montessori and helped her through the transition in starting school
- I attended a 7 week Montessori for toddlers program with Sammy
- I potty trained Sam
- I took Sam sledding
- I took Sam to the water park and helped her conquer her fear of the water slide
- I started teaching Sam to read
- I attended 2 homeschooling conferences and made significant progress on my homeschooling plans.
- I taught Sam how to dress and undress herself, all except for shoes.
- I continued to arrange the house in a way that allows Sam to be very independent, including many stools, the light switch extenders, her own broom, rake, and shovel, her low-slung closet, her low mirror in the dining room, and her low coat rack.
- Moved Sammy from her crib to her toddler bed
- I arranged for two occasions where Sammy spent a couple of nights away from mommy and daddy.
- I made up dozens of stories
- I taught Sam how to know it is morning using her teach me time clock.
- I planned and executed Sammy’s 3rd birthday party
You might have noticed that I’ve stopped the Three Good Things exercise. I got so caught up in the Good Things of the holidays that I just didn’t have the time or energy for it. But instead of starting it up again, I’m going to a try a different exercise, which I’ll call my 2009 Accomplishments. The idea comes from the same source as Three Good Things, Jean Moroney. As soon as I finish it, I’ll publish it here.
Here is Ms. Moroney’s description of how to take stock of your achievements:
2010 is just getting started. To begin on an inspiring note, I suggest you spend a little time taking stock of your achievements from 2009. Make a record of your accomplishments–everything you did or said or bought or made happen that you’re proud of. This is not a journalistic account of the ups and downs of the year; it includes only the successes. They’re what matter most in the long run; they’re worth pausing to reflect on to give you fuel for 2010.
This is similar to advice I relayed some time ago to record three good things at the end of each day.* It is not a mindless exercise in feel-good, rah rah positive thinking. Reviewing your actual achievements is much more profound than that. It reaffirms emotionally that these successes are good and important, and keeps that context activated.
There is an added benefit to reviewing the whole year. You get to see the brightest achievements all in one list–a list as long as you can make it. To make sure you remember the highlights, I
recommend you review your calendar or some other record of your activities; it’s surprisingly easy to forget important achievements from months ago.
If it was a difficult year, you can see clearly all you accomplished in the face of adversity. If it was an unusually good year, you get to count up the amazing total of successes. When you see the year as a whole, you add to the sense of yourself as one who achieves something over time. As you do this over many years, you can reflect on long-term improvements that you see from year to year.
I think you will also find that reflecting on the successes of the
previous year puts you in a good frame of mind to look to the
future. As you review, you will find some unfinished business. Seen in the context of all you did accomplish, it’s natural to treat these items as next year’s successes, rather than last year’s failures. I always find the process leaves me inspired to achieve more in the future, because I am building on the success of the past.
This reflection takes a little time, but the time has a payoff. Reviewing your achievements across the year gives you a sense of yourself, and helps you keep your life in perspective.
A productive and happy 2010 to you.
*The “Three Good Things” article is on the site at:
Jean Moroney, President of Thinking Directions, teaches managers, business owners, and other professionals how to tap their own knowledge banks to solve problems faster, make better decisions, and communicate more effectively. Corporations hire her to train their managers in “Thinking Tactics” to help them get more done with fewer resources. For more information, visit: http://www.thinkingdirections.com.
During our long, terrible weekend recovering from the miscarriage, life threw us yet another curve ball, but this was the good kind. We found out that Adam’s recently deceased grandmother left him a large sum of money. Adam and I are both in a bit of shock about it and we’re trying to work through what it will mean for us. It’s not enough money that (even if he wanted to, which he certainly doesn’t) Adam could quit working. It’s nowhere near that kind of money. It’s not even enough that we will substantially change our lifestyle. But it’s enough that it will definitely change our lives. I think I can sum it up by saying that we have lived on the financial edge for as long as we’ve been married, but this will put us into the blissful category of “financially secure,” and it will probably keep us there forever. Thank you, Grammy. This is an amazing gift that we never expected.
The first thing we’re going to do is to pay back Adam’s parents the money they lent us to use as down payment on our house. That will feel really good. Then we’ll pay off a good chunk of our “second mortgage,” otherwise known as our student loans. We can completely eliminate at least one loan and free up a sizable chunk of monthly income in the process. Then, we’ll set aside a healthy emergency fund. That will be a huge relief to me, as the conservative CFO of this family.
There will be plenty of money left after all that and we’re not sure exactly what we’ll do with it yet, but we do intend to buy one special thing: a digital piano. We’ve been saving up for one for a few months now anyway, but now it will be a gift from Grammy. This photo will have a permanent home on top of the piano:
It’s hard to believe this is really happening. This money is going to give us peace of mind about our finances. I can’t even remember what that feels like, but I know it’s going to be really, really good.
This experience reminds me of one of Diana Hsieh’s first podcasts, when she answered a listener’s question about the morality of inheritance. She essentially said that an inheritance is a gift, and that there is nothing immoral about accepting a gift. At the time I thought, “duh!” but now that it is happening to me, I can see where people might have some trouble accepting such a gift. I don’t personally have trouble with this kind of gift, but I do have trouble accepting other things from people, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I can’t easily accept sympathy, help, and support from others. I conflate sympathy with pity, which is a mistake. Part of my problem is a mistaken premise that I have a duty to support myself independently, regardless of context. Part of it is a trust issue. It manifests itself in many harmful ways that go way beyond accepting help: I’m uncomfortable meeting new people, it takes me years to form a real friendship, I am hyper-defensive and second-handed about how people perceive me, especially regarding my intelligence, and there’s more. I’m still working on figuring it all out. So, along with dealing with the wonderful support I received after my miscarriage, this is yet another experience that is helping me in my introspection on this issue. In this case, I have something to differentiate. Why am I able to accept benefiting from an inheritance (and one that has not even been given to me, but to my husband), but I can’t easily accept someone cooking dinner for me when I’ve suffered a loss? I’m going to listen to Diana’s podcast again, with this question in mind. I’m getting closer to an answer to this problem. I’m determined to work this out so that I can benevolently enjoy my relationships with others. And if Grammy helps me get there, that will be an even greater gift than the money.
I still remember the first time I saw an iPod. It was at an Apple Store, not too long after they had been introduced. Adam said, “Hey, come check out the controls on this thing.” I gingerly touched the wheel – it was like no other electronic gadget I’d ever seen. I was a bit scared of it, but then I moved my finger and got the subtle feedback of the sound and sight of scrolling. I spun my finger around that wheel with glee – “This is so cool! I want one.” I didn’t even care what it did; I just liked the user interface.
I didn’t get my iPod until early 2007. It has been making me feel guilty ever since. I spent countless hours loading up all my CD’s, then hardly listened to it because I couldn’t figure out how to get the right subset of my music on the iPod. The whole reason I got it was that I thought all my music would fit on it. Also, iTunes slowed down my computer and I hate headphones. I had a 6 month old baby, I was going to school, and it was all just too much trouble.
I used it at the gym about 3 times in late 2007, then when we moved from San Diego to Lexington, it disappeared. Adam had been using it in his car when he drove the animals across the country. After staying with friends in Richmond for a couple of weeks, we packed up and I realized that I couldn’t find it. I felt so guilty for spending so much money and time and getting almost no use out of the thing.
Six months and another move later, I was purging useless possessions. I threw about 6 computer bags and 12 tote bags in the trash. When Adam got home he said that he liked some of those bags and went through the trash to take back the ones he wanted to keep. One of those bags held my iPod! I was so happy to see it, and yet it took me another 7 months to start using it again.
I’m still completely flummoxed about how to choose which songs to put on the iPod. I’d love to have it rotate my music automatically, but I can’t find any way to do that. I don’t think I’ll ever use it as a portable device. I just can’t imagine walking around with cords all over me. I’d get caught on every door knob. I can’t even handle purse straps! So I’ve plugged the iPod into a little radio/iPod speaker system we were given as a gift. At least I have some kind of music in the house now. We sold our old “component” system and speakers when we left Michigan, and the one portable CD player we brought with us broke about a year ago.
I’m hoping that I’ll finally learn how to love my iPod. Music is one of the values I had to give up temporarily, partially because of the time required to take care of a baby, but mostly because of our multiple moves. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be adding values back into my life, instead of trying as hard as I can to “simplify.” There was no sacrifice involved – Samantha, Adam’s career, and the adventure of living in three new cities were greater values (although barely, where the moves were concerned). Still, I had to give up a lot of the Little Things. I think it is so important to have both kinds of values in your life: big things like career, family/friends, and personal growth, and little things like a nice set of sharp knives, a good haircut, and trips to the zoo. Music falls somewhere in between for me, and I’m glad to have it back.
Three Good Things for the day:
- I got in a miserable funk because the dog tracked dirt onto my white ceramic tile kitchen floor – AGAIN. This led to another pass at organizing Samantha’s closet, unpacking all of her music boxes and stuffed animals, hanging her alphabet finger puppets, hanging her height mirror (I’ll have to post a picture of that), vacuuming and Fabreezing the area rugs, rearranging the furniture in the basement, oh, and yes, cleaning the kitchen floor – AGAIN. The good part was not so much that I got all of that stuff done, but that I forced myself to stop moping about how much cleaning and unpacking still needs to be done, and just started taking action. I know, I know, you’re supposed to learn that when you’re about 14, but I’m slow.
- Part of the reason I was able to get so much done today, besides the motivation through despair, was that I finally decided that Samantha knows how to handle the stairs. I was partway there when I decided to let the dog out without bringing her with me, but I would normally still go up and down with her, just below her on the stairs in case she fell. I’ve been doing that ever since she started climbing up and down stairs on her own, and I think I’ve only had to catch her twice, and not for a while. Today I told her she could come up and down with me as she pleased, and she did. Sometimes she would stay upstairs and follow me after a few minutes, or she might not follow at all. As with every milestone, it feels like another huge weight lifted from my shoulders. The freedom was intoxicating, I tell you!
- Adam comes home in just a few hours.
I’ve been hinting at this party I’m throwing for a while now, and it’s about time I explain. Actually, I’ll let my friend Chris explain because this e-mail she sent was so touching:
Many of you know that Jon and I have talked on and off for a long time about adopting a child. It is an enormous decision and about six months ago we found ourselves on the same page. I was still in school so we decided to wait until the fall to make any big moves. Well, it’s the Fall…and we recently decided that we are committed to moving ahead and have chosen our agency. This is so very, very exciting to us I can’t begin to tell you! We are looking to adopt an “older” child from Ethiopia and could not be more excited. By “older” we mean a child some where between 3 and 5ish. Jackson has been asking for a brother or sister for as long as I can remember and he is thrilled at the idea.
So that’s the awesome news…
And here’s our challenge…it’s damned expensive! You may or may not know that adoption, especially international adoption, is frighteningly expensive. The likely cost is between $20,000 and $30,000. Given that we don’t have that laying around (does anyone?) I have been wracking my brain about how to continue working as a nurse AND raise money on the side toward the adoption…in a way that doesn’t have me away from my family too much more than I already am. The answer came to me a month or two ago and I am now getting ready to begin!
I’ve decided to sell a line of jewelry independently to raise money for the adoption. Some of you may be familiar with the line…Silpada. For those of you who are not, what I can tell you is that I love it enough to sell it. I really didn’t think I’d be interested in spending time on this sort of thing at this point in my life, particularly with my new nursing job. But I have to tell you…I love the darned jewelry! For those of you who know [K], she’s bought enough of it from another rep that she’s had to buy a piece of furniture to store it all! I love that girl! My hope is that this will allow me to do something independently to raise money for the adoption while not having to take time away from Jackson or Jon to do it…very important.
So as you can probably guess, I’m hosing a Silpada Jewelry party for Chris next week. First, I want to help her reach this goal in any way I can. I admire her so much for her commitment to pursuing her values, and what an exciting goal! Second, I needed a good kick in the butt to get me started socializing anyway. I want to meet my new neighbors, and I want to get to know the few people I’ve already met better, so this was the perfect opportunity.
And even though all I have to do is invite people and put out a bit of food, the whole process is terribly frightening to me. I went through a couple of days of high anxiety trying to put together the invitation list, but at some point, I let go and realized that the worst thing that could happen was I might have to cancel the party if not enough people wanted to come. Big deal, right? But my social anxiety is not rational. I’d like to make friends and be able to attend social events without dread. Really, this is quite a big step for me.
If you’re interested in the jewelry or helping Chris out, you can browse the catalog here. You order by e-mailing Chris what you want using the link on her site. I bought a necklace and earrings and they are some of the nicest pieces that I own. You might even strategically leave her web site up on the family computer – Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, you know!
Thanks to Jean Moroney for another simple, and hopefully valuable, idea: each day, write down three good things that happened in the last 24 hours. I can always use a little help staying on the positive side, so I think I’ll try it here on the blog for a while. In the last 24 hours:
- I took Sam to our local library for the first time and it turned out to be a beautiful new building with a great selection of books. I love our new neighborhood.
- I took Sam to our local (indoor) pool for the first time, and again, it was a nice, clean facility and we had a blast.
- I watched a movie that goes on my Top 50 List for sure: The Man Who Would Be King. What a grand adventure! And how can you go wrong with Sean Connery and Michael Caine?
I’m having a real problem with time sickness again. Any time I’m doing something that is either purely for myself (taking a shower, eating, writing in my blog) or where my body is occupied but my mind is not (doing dishes, driving, letting out the dog) I feel panic setting in. All I can think about is how many other things I need to do, and that I should be doing them and not what I’m doing now.
This is nothing new, and it’s entirely predictable that it would crop up again while we’re in this “moving in” stage. As a matter of fact, when I looked up the entry I just linked to, I saw that it was about one month after our last move. That’s about where we are now. It’s true that I can barely keep my head above water at the moment, but getting all worked up about it doesn’t solve anything. I also keep forgetting to recognize all the things that I have accomplished, and I allow myself to wallow in the, “I’ll never get out of this hole” mode of thinking. I wonder where my youthful confidence went – the feeling that as long as I’m working hard and doing the right thing, that things will work out ok. They always have.
Intellectually, at least, I know what my problem is, but it’s still very hard to snap out of it. But the cheesy phrase I used as the title of this post actually does help, as does writing about it.
I’m still sick with this cold I’ve had for 5 days and counting, so blogging will probably continue to be light for a few days. Today I’ll just make a long overdue addition to my product recommendations.
OxiClean must be the best cleaning product ever. I mostly use it to spot clean the carpet. It takes out everything I’ve tried it on: wine, coffee, cat puke, blueberry. It’s great for laundry, too.
Somewhere in all the moves we made last year, I lost the squirt bottle I had always used for my OxiClean. (I buy the powder and mix it with water or throw a scoop in the laundry.) When we arrived at the house we’re renting now, I didn’t bother getting a new bottle and making any because I was just too overwhelmed to think about cleaning. The carpet here is already old and stained and I just figured, why bother?
Well, new stains were still happening and the living room carpet was beginning to disturb me. Yesterday I finally reached my limit and I made some OxiClean in a measuring cup. I must have spot cleaned 20 stains. It didn’t matter how old they were, every single one came out. And I didn’t have to scrub or rinse. All I did was put a bit of OxiClean on a paper towel, soak the stain, and then rub it a bit. The difference in the carpet is amazing, and it’s so easy.
I had also purchased a can of Resolve High Traffic cleaner. It’s one of those foams that you spray and then vacuum. Before I tried the OxiClean I had tried the Resolve and it didn’t take out a single stain. It might have made the carpet a bit cleaner overall, but not in any way that I could discern. Baking soda is cheaper and probably works just as well.
If you noticed, I did all this work while I was sick. I had been stuck at home doing nothing for 4 days and Sam was finally back at day care and I felt a bit better. I did what I always do when recovering from a cold: I overdid it. Not only did I clean the carpet in two ways (including vacuuming 3 times), I rearranged the furniture. I hauled a huge bamboo trunk up the stairs and carried a rocking chair down the stairs. It just felt so good to be able to accomplish something and I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t feel too bad yesterday even after all the work, but today I am much worse.
I’m sure someday I’ll learn to remember that I need to take it easy after a cold, even if I feel better. I mean, I’m finally wise enough to stop getting a sunburn at the beginning of every single summer before I remember how bad it is and start using sunscreen. But I still do too many sit ups every time I start a new workout regime. And I’m writing a much longer post than I had intended, since I really should be resting. These seem like silly little things that many people do, but this is day-to-day long range thinking, and it’s something I’m working on.
In the meantime, I’m going to go rest, eat some soup, drink some OJ (I can finally feel good about that acronym again!), and watch Sesame Street.
(Warning: Includes spoilers from episodes 1 and 2, air date 9/25/08)
Michelle, the angry victim, was the first person voted off Survivor: Gabon last week. It reminds me of something I witnessed at the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago.
I was in the waiting room when this tense woman walked in. Angry Woman went to the front desk and asked where Dr. D.’s office was. The receptionist told her that this was indeed his office. Her response was, “Oh, well I would have expected his name to be on the door or something.” The receptionist asked her name, and whether she had her “orders.” In a short tone, Angry Woman said that, no, she didn’t have her orders. The receptionist asked about some other paperwork and by now, Angry Woman was pissed. She sarcastically told the receptionist that she did not have that paperwork either, the implication being that the receptionist was out of line for asking. Angry Woman was given some forms to fill out and she sat down, fuming. After a moment, she declared to the room at large, “I might just have to leave.” She looked around at all of us, seeking a sympathetic face I suppose, and apparently the woman next to me gave it to her. Angry Woman addressed my neighbor directly: ”Did they treat you like that? I might not be able to stay here if they are going to treat me like that. Did they treat you like that?” My neighbor mumbled, “Yes.” Then Angry Woman muttered to herself for a minute or two. Eventually she went back to the receptionist and gave her a tongue lashing about how people who come here are in pain, and need help, and if this is the level of service from the receptionist what can she expect from the doctor, and she might just have to leave, and she is outraged, etc. etc.
I’ve been to this doctor about 8 times, and the administrative staff is way above average and I’ve always been treated with respect. The receptionist treated Angry Woman the same way, at least until Angry Woman gave her the bad attitude. Then, the receptionist was a bit more formal and short, but that’s about the extent of it.
After chewing out the receptionist, Angry Woman joined my neighbor and they started bitching together about how terribly they have been treated. I had to change seats because I just couldn’t take the needless negativity.
Later that day, I went to the drive through at McDonald’s. I ordered a Filet O’ Fish and a milk. Chicken McNuggets came up on the display screen. I corrected the order a few times, and managed to get the fish sandwich and milk up on the screen, but no matter what I told the woman on the other side of the intercom, those nuggets stayed up there. I was laughing when she asked me, “Will that be all?” as the quantity of nuggets went from 1 to 2 to 3. In a silly voice to make sure she knew I wasn’t mad, I said, “yes, but NO NUGGETS.” She laughed and finally got them deleted. When I got to the window to pay, I said, “You’re really doing the hard sell on those nuggets today, aren’t you?” She laughed and we had a nice moment.
How many times in the past have I been bitchy about someone getting my order wrong, or misspelling my name 3 times in a row, or not using their turn signal? What a waste! Most of these people are not incompetent or mean or out to get me. Maybe they are new on the job, or hard of hearing, or are actually doing something good that I’m just not aware of. Sure, the incompetent people are out there, but going through your life angry about how the stupid people are making your life hell is counterproductive. I’ve been doing it for 30 years and I’m just realizing that I’ve been the stupid one.
Michelle bitched and moaned about how her tribe mates were stupid. They voted her off because of her negativity, but she was convinced that they were losers and that they voted her off because she was strong.
Victims choose to live in the world that they complain about.
Last Friday night was “Parents Night Out” at Sam’s day care. For $20, they babysit the kids from 6:30 – 10:00pm, and dinner is included. They do this once a month and that’s usually all the babysitting we need for a night out here and there. On Friday we decided to see a movie instead of going out to dinner, our usual outing. The Dark Knight was still playing at a nice theatre just 8 miles away and it started at 6:55pm – giving us just enough time to get there after dropping off Sam. We loved Batman Begins and really wanted to see this sequel in the theater, so we felt very lucky that it worked out so well.
It was raining that night so I worried about traffic delays, but getting there was no problem. I got the tickets while Adam parked, we raced in for popcorn and soda, and had just enough time to visit the restroom before the previews began. Perfect!
About an hour into the movie it occurred to me that those previews had gone on for quite a while, and movies tend to be so long now that we might be cutting it close for Sam’s 10 o’clock pickup. I checked my watch – it was 8:05. I forgot about it.
By 8:45, I was thinking about it again. Why didn’t we think to check the running time? I guess we figured 3 1/2 hours had to be plenty of time. It felt like the movie was about to end, but I’d been feeling that way every time the scene changed for the past 10 minutes. At 9:05, I whispered to Adam that we might have to leave before it was over. It was only a 15 minute drive, but we had never been to this theater before. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes just to get out of the parking lot at a busy, mall-based theater like this one. And I had to go to the bathroom. And it was raining. And it was Friday night. What would they do with Sam if we were late? I’ve actually had nightmares about forgetting to pick her up at day care, so I started to get anxious.
By 9:15 I was freaking out and I didn’t process the end of the movie at all. It finally ended at 9:30. Some people applauded. I stood up so fast that I accidentally pulled a woman’s hair by grabbing at the seat in front of me so that I could gain that fraction of a second. Adam gallantly indulged me and rushed to the car while I went to the ladies room. I was so stressed out that I criticized his driving the whole way back – I really thought the car was just going to slide right off the wet road.
We made it back with 5 minutes to spare. I can’t say that I learned a lesson from this about chilling out. Maybe that is the right lesson, but what I’ve decided is that I will never go out to a movie again without checking the running time.
We’re going to have to rent The Dark Knight on video as soon as it comes out so I can see the end. I think it might have been quite a good movie.