Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 2015: I give up.

I'm throwing my hands up and scowling at you January 2015.

I had lofty goals and seemingly simple aspirations until you, you, you.

So I'm telling you I'm over it. I give up. I throw in the towel.

I'm tired of the constant colds rampaging through my house without even a two week break in between. I'm tired of the sniffles, the ear infections, the chasing a toddler around the house trying to get her to take her medicine (or the forcing her down like an inpatient to get drops in her eyes or ears or wherever they are supposed to go). I'm tired of being woken up all night to the heartbreaking sounds of toddler coughs when they are only 3 FREAKING months away from being able to take cough medicine.

And that little fun trip to the ER you threw in, I'm over that too. (Side note: ovarian cysts, oxycodone, vomiting, and pain - I'm over all of that too).

I'm tired of trying to run even the tiniest business while dealing with all this mess you caused January.

My house is a disaster, my child pretty much thinks all meals consist of crackers, Gerber yogurt drops and applesauce, and I'm tired. Really tired. I went to lay down for a minute yesterday and woke up four hours later. I feel like I could cry a river, a Justin Timberlake music video worth of rain and frustration and sadness.

And the month of my despair has only taught me one thing thanks to too many hours on Instagram:

I'm the only person in the universe that doesn't own this rug.

Please don't tell me to hang in there mama. I appreciate the sentiment but there is literally nothing left to hang on to. It's all covered in germs and slippery with tears.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hello 2015!

I have been waiting for, like, forever for 2015. A year, actually, because I don't like even numbers.

So HELLO 2015! I'm happy to see you. I'll forgive you the bitter bitter cold.

Here are my exciting plans for you:

For the last couple of years I've been setting themes and goals instead of resolutions because my resolutions tend to be a bit nebulous, and actually last year my goal of communicating better was a huge bust because I had no concrete smaller goals to achieve the larger one. But, oh well, 2014 you even year you. Who cares! Adios!

This year's theme is one straight out of Stewart Smalley.
My theme this year is to: LOVE MYSELF MORE.

Cringe, gasp, point, laugh, this is what it's going to be for me this year. I realized that my larger goals for the year: eating better, being more creative, and being more thankful for what I had all wrapped up nicely into loving more.

What shows you that you love you more than eating an apple instead of a biscuits and gravy? Or taking the time to reignite some creative energy and spending time on "frivolous" passions? Or instead of complaining about this that and the other showing yourself and the universe that you are grateful for what you have?

The big component of my year is a huge undertaking and I haven't quite figure out how to do it yet, but I plan on having a news fast for the entire year.

Yes, you read that right. The entire year.

I'm a person who gets swept up in it. The fear, the anxiety, the worry, and anger. I have my causes that always get me riled up. I get depressed over how many people seem to automatically reach for a gun instead of a discussion. I get fearful about the world and the people in it. And not only does that not add to my year's theme of loving more, those emotions don't help you love the other people of the world. And this year's theme is all about the love and the creativity and the passion.

But I have no idea how I'm going to accomplish this. The easy parts are easy. No TV news, no internet news sites, no NPR on the radio (that last one gave me so much anxiety it was silly - what would I possibly listen to in the car?!). But then it gets grey. Do articles about home life or "5 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Marriage" count?

I've now decided yes.

I don't just want the actual scary news pouring into my brain, I also don't want to be told what to want or what my marriage is lacking or how to be a better parent in my brain either. I just want me. 100% ole me. Which makes Facebook and Twitter tough. I started out by getting rid of all the newsy news people on Twitter, then the comedians who discuss the news, then the non-profits who talk about the news, and now I'm down to very few things of interest on Twitter. And you can't get on Facebook because it's always telling you who liked what article and flashing that up. And after the terrible shooting in Paris, I realized Instagram isn't safe either. And does seeing all those beautiful home interiors I can't afford inspire or cause shame? Food for thought.

I don't have an answer yet. I tweet my gratitudes several times a week. I will be posting more design work on Facebook. I really don't want to quit you Instagram. I talked to a very creative toy maker the other week and he only gets on social media to promote his own work. He doesn't hang around. Maybe that's where I will go. But I love my Louise Hay messages and my Dave Ramsey encouragement (yup, still doing that).

For right now I still get news once a week from the magazine The Week that is delivered in my mailbox. And everything else will be based upon whether this helps me to love myself and others more or not. And if not, it's gotta go!

So that's the big goal. My next smaller post (man, this post has gone on too long), will be about the smaller goals.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Leaving behind the need to prove.

From and also a calming image
I've been thinking a lot about being who you really are vs. who you either want to be or who you think you should be.

It's all kind of boiled down into: what am I trying to prove?

And then realizing the whys don't matter to me. I don't really want to prove anything to anyone anymore.

Getting rid of the need to prove has been a slow motion train that is still picking up steam. Like a lot of things in life once you have THE thought you tend to keep seeing that thought everywhere you go. I've been finding articles and movies and talks that have made me reevaluate when am I living as me and when am I proving as not me. Some of them I've listed below:

Grace Bonney of Design Sponge coming out after one of the most elaborate weddings I've ever seen. That must have taken so much courage to do a 180 on the life you've very publicly set up.

This woman discusses the struggle of being taken seriously as a working mom. I've faced the same struggle but, unlike her, I don't want to be stressed out anymore. I don't find joy in that kind of chaos. That's not for me. Wake-up call.

My mom's friend's documentary about the creative process. Patricia is so natural and so obviously living her passion. Which I'm sorry no one outside of Birmingham can watch right now but it was inspiring to watch pure trust in the creative work.

More minimalism. Getting rid of proving seems to be minimalism of the heart.

Always, always, Christiane Northrup on Hay House Radio.

After more than 30 years of trying to prove how smart, tough, cool, calm, sassy, pretty, willing, forceful, cute, spunky, strong, sexy, etc. I am - it never actually makes me so. I'm still sensitive, gullible, naive and prone to anxiety and worrying. Some days I'm spunky, some days I'm not. I may be smart in some ways but I'm not in all the ways I try to prove. I'll just say it right now: I'm never going to open Infinite Jest. I also like the music of Jewel. And Hallmark Christmas Movies.

Needless to say, no amount of proving has turned me into my idols growing up: from Punky Brewster to Liz Phair. I'm not going to be Winona Rider in Reality Bites. I'm not going to be Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise or even Liv Tyler in Empire Records (can you tell I turned 15 in the mid '90's?). I'm not French. I'm not tough. I care too much about some things and not enough about others. I'm not the manic pixie girl of my dreams nor the femme fatale.  I'm human. As Glennon at Momastery put it, "I'm the Daisiest you can be." (see post on Facebook)

It's scary to figure out who you really are after putting down the proving. I don't know what I want. I know I'll still feel the need to prove. To show (and get validation) for myself. And I feel like the only way to not need to prove is to get real real comfortable with me.

So I'm taking a cue from decluttering and asking the question, again; this time about the way I spend my time, the items I spend money on, the people I hang with, etc, "Does THIS spark joy?"

It's a lot easier to answer honestly when you have nothing to prove.
And only honesty matters.

P.S. Apparently I'm 5 years behind.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On Multiplying

I know what we would need to do to have a second baby.

We would need to be able to live off one income. We would need to be able to pay for five days a week, full-time child care with a lot of babysitters on the side. We would need to be prepared for some hospital stays. We would need to be prepared to live as a one parent family who nursed a sick relative 24 hours a day.

And that's just the practical logistics.

The emotional toll is high as well. For me it's accepting the possibility of 9 months of disabling illness. Losing my job again. Having every scent in the known world be nauseating. Ruining what's left to ruin of my teeth. For JTS it would be being a full-time caregiver again. For Lil' D it would be not having a mama for 9 months. Or at least not a mom she recognizes.

As more and more of my friends move on to welcoming their second child and as more of Lil' D's school class gets new siblings I'm starting to feel (for the first time in my life)

left behind.

I never cared when everyone started getting married and I didn't. I never cared when people were having children and I wasn't. But this second child thing. Man, it eats at me every day.

There is a 65 - 80% chance that if you've had hyperemesis before you will have it again. But the thing with me is no one knows if I had hyperemesis in the first place or if my no good, horrible, very bad pregnancy was all a side-effect of my uterus making a slow migration to the other side of my body or some kind of horror show combination. And no one knows if any of it would happen again.

"Probably not."


"No promises."

Nothing in the wide world makes me sadder than thinking about when I was pregnant. My nightmares still involve a positive pregnancy test and I can get to PTSD levels of anxiety thinking of being trapped in that sick, very pained body again. I missed out on the happy parts of pregnancy and that makes me sad. I never got to have a baby shower and that makes me sad. I never got to "enjoy" pregnancy or plan for a nursery and that makes me sad. I never got to ruminate on the baby with love and that makes me sad. My only thought ever was "Please God let this end." And on some dark dark days I didn't really care how that end came about. The only thing that kept me going was my weekly ultrasound and that there was an end date. On a hospital calendar.

And at 8:46 am on week 38 your suffering shall end. Amen.

So probably everyone out there is now wondering why in all the hells would I even be thinking about risking this again?

The first, and most obviously wonderful reason is: babies are awesome. If I had known how addictive they were I would have skipped the whole elaborate cake and cafe lighting wedding and just gone straight to the baby.

How can you resist this drooler?
After you get through that o-so-tough first 3 months it's all pretty fun. The smiles, the giggles, the utter silliness. Sure, everyone loves to moan about the bad nights, the crying in restaurants, etc. etc. But when a little pint-sized goofball tries to make a "joke" (in this case, imagine Lil' D accidentally running into a pole, not hard, but then getting a sly look across her face, falling flat on her back with her legs in the air and then waiting with a smile to see if anyone laughs) it's just SO. WORTH. IT.

The second answer is more complicated and has, honestly, more to do with guilt than my true feelings. I will feel guilty if Lil' D didn't have a sibling. I will feel guilty on those Sunday afternoons when she is bored and could be playing with a sibling. I will feel guilty she won't ever have anyone to discuss how nuts her mom is over a latte. Well, anyone who really knows.

And then the mother of all guilt. There is an unspoken code I feel that you don't really count as a mom until you have two. Until you're outnumbered. That somehow you have it easy with this fake, only* child and you haven't yet joined the ranks of mom.

But I waffle.

On difficult days one seems like plenty. On the super happy days I don't know how I could ever love another. When all is well I would never want to diminish the amazing amount of attention I can lavish on Lil' D. She soaks it up. And in all my obsessive research over one child families, only children do really well with all that undivided attention and love.

And of course the very traumatized soul of my pregnant self never wants to go through those 9 months again. And even pretending the next time will be different doesn't make it so.

I don't know how it will all shake out. But I'm feeling really behind. I'm feeling disappointed in my body. I'm feeling disappointed in myself for not having an answer. With every new baby that enters my world I feel a disturbing combination of happiness for my friend and wrenching jealousy.

But I have figured out that's the reason why I've been wanting to get a whole new wardrobe or redo my living room. To take my mind off the fact that I just want something I can't make happen. I want to be a normal woman, with a normal pregnancy. Something to celebrate, not something to dread.

*Side note: What a terrible term ONLY child is. On so many levels.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The best question when decluttering.

Besides shopping my other favorite thing to do is get rid of the things I shopped for in the first place.

But sometimes you hit an emotional wall or a family heirloom and you just can't find the will to let an item go.

But then I discovered  Marie Kondo.

(Like all good things, I found out about her from Joanna Goddard).

I haven't read her book yet but I ruthlessly attacked my office and bedroom with the single most important question:

Does this item spark joy?

Wow. That made it so much easier to dump stuff.

Does this item spark joy?

Out went things that I thought I should have, or people had given me, or had cost a lot of money when purchased. Out went almost every last pair of exercise shorts I owned. Out went shoes and jewelry and books.

Oh so good the feeling.

Soon I'll attack my closet.

In the meantime I've been enjoying folding my socks delicately and giving them thanks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Psychology of Overspending


So I'm not a psychologist. But allow me, dear reader, to pretend you are my psychologist and that I'm writing this from a prone position on a chaise lounge while I bite my fingernails and tell you how it's going.

I've been on a budget for 2 months and let me tell you something you might already know. Money is a lot more emotional than I previously thought.

I would give myself a solid B- so far in the budgeting department. I've been very good and diligent about creating my budget before the month starts and changing it, morphing it, and moving things around as I need to.

But I've fudged. Since JTS and I have some separate accounts and since some of my income is freelance I have a small amount of $$ on my own to fudge with even though I'm not supposed to. And I've learned my greatest weaknesses are Kindle books, Lil'D clothes, and eating out.

There are three main challenges I have when it comes to staying on budget:

1) Instant gratification
3) Laziness and hunger

#1 and #2 go hand in hand. If you didn't grow up budgeting or thinking about saving money - when you make the switch to budgeting - mentally you are there but emotionally it's a struggle And for me emotions trump. Not getting what I want when I want it (i.e. RIGHT NOW) makes me feel poor. There is no better way to say it. It's ugly but it's true. I can get really depressed about it if I ponder too long on the wants. I want: new clothes, Christmas decor, a fall wreath, new books, new sheets, a rug for my office, some fashionable curtains, and to eat only organic food that was blessed by angels. Feeling poor and feeling sorry for yourself when you have a roof over your head, a nice kitchen with food, and your child has a play room all their own is absurd and probably more than just a little offensive. This I know.

But. It is how I feel. Even if I know rationally my former life was not really ever real  (almost always sponsored by Visa) it's a mindset I've known for so many years and I have no idea how to get rid of. I've started practicing gratitude about what I have and focusing on my goals but feeling the feelings about money is the single biggest impediment to my success as far as I can see. I miss what spendthrift me looked like. I miss my new and expensive clothes. I miss my dinners out with red wine. So I can only hope that once you make it through some time with this budgeting thing you get better at handling the wants.

Do you have unroll me? As far as I'm concerned they
have just rolled all the temptation into one big email.
And in the same vein, if you didn't grow up with budgets and saving - when you see SALE! 40% OFF! emotionally you pounce! You start doing mental gymnastics about how you HAVE TO buy something RIGHT NOW because you know - SALE! I succumbed to the sale e-mail last week. 50% off! Flew out to the store, bought a bunch of stuff I could use but probably didn't need for Lil'D. Fast forward to this week and I was greeted with a new e-mail: 60% OFF! The same stuff, now only cheaper. Lesson learned. (Maybe).

The last one (eating out) is probably the easiest one to fix because it just involves more planning ahead. I'm not terribly good at planning ahead but at least it's unemotional.

And now I'm off to listen to the savings lesson from my pal Dave again to buck my spirits up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Final thoughts on the Dave Ramsey FPU. Classes 8 and 9

After going through one month with a budget and now working on my second month I have a LOT of thoughts about trying to rope in your spendthrift ways but I'll wait on that and discuss instead the last two lessons of FPU: #8 Buying Houses and #9 Giving.

I have to say that I was so glad Dave finished with a whole lesson devoted to giving because the class before that on buying houses really depressed me.

There was nothing new to the house buying lesson. Just a recommendation to put at least 10% down and have a 15 year mortgage. But that was when it hit home for me just how daunting it would be to get out from under student loans, save 3-6 months of living expenses, and save for a house payment. The lessons before are kind of pump you up style: YOU CAN SAVE! YOU CAN SELL! YOU CAN DO THIS! GAZELLE LIKE INTENSITY and even though this lesson actually had a motivational speaker in it - when you think about saving up 10% on a home - AFTER all the other steps - I kind of wanted to put my head in the sand. All I could think of was: man I wish I had learned this stuff in high school. I'm not 25. I'm almost 35 and my house standards have drastically changed since my younger days. I have zero desire or energy to save up for a fixer upper. I've been perfectly content and somewhat spoiled renting houses that I would totally buy. So if I'm going to buy a house, I want to buy a house that I've been dreaming of. I don't want to do all these steps for a downgrade. That makes my 10% look pretty large. So yeah. Just another reminder to teach Lil' D all these lessons early so she isn't just figuring out how much a house costs at 35.

After being totally bummed out I was so glad for the lesson on giving. Dave comes from the tradition of tithing, which if you aren't from a tithing church community, means that 10% of your income goes to the church. I did not grow up in a tithing family and I would probably never give that much money to any church but I did grow up with a mom who gave a lot through volunteering and financial donations and I've enjoyed following her lead. As a child I did the kid's version of volunteering i.e. picking out an Angel on the Angel Tree, donating toys and books, or helping with a canned food drive. And as I got older I volunteered more and gave more donations to groups I was enamored of (See previous post on my wolf adoption. I paid for that myself.) Over the years I've donated to whatever tickles my bleeding, liberal heart at the moment. And I'm happy with that. But what would make me even happier would be to have enough money to REALLY make a difference. Because while I can create logos for non-profits all day, they probably would do well to have some money too. Envisioning a future where I can donate big or have long periods of time to volunteer put me back on the positivity train.

So that's a wrap folks! Hope you enjoyed or were at least not too annoyed with my Dave Ramsey recap.

Because there will be much more to come about working with a budget.