Day 13 – Happy New Year

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2014 – Honestly, I can’t wait until we say good bye.  You have been one of the most challenging and life changing years I have had.  I have been counting you down since February and with one day to go, I am confident your worst is behind me.

Let’s recap:

  • My basement flooded – bad.  It has always sounded cool to have my own swimming pool but this was not what I had in mind.
  • My shed collapsed … again … seriously not even 6 months after putting up the replacement that was crushed by an ice storm last year, snow took this one down.
  • A dishwasher that just decided to stop washing dishes
  • A tree fell on my house.  Enough said.

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  • We had to say good bye to our 4 legged family member.

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  • And got to experience puppy life for the first time.  We love Paris, but man puppy behavior and toddler behavior under the same roof?  That’s a lot of work!

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  • And to top off the year of challenges – My car has been in the shop for the past 3ish weeks.  Not the end of the world but a little inconvenient.

I think it is suffice to say I am ready to get this out with the old and in with the new crap started.  Now I am not totally ridiculous, the clock strikes midnight and nothing really changes.  Honestly it is just like the clock striking midnight any other day of the year … it just feels new.

While I am ready for the next year to begin – I wanted to also mention the great things that came out of 2014:

  • Direction and dedication to myself and my family – including a year of willful unemployment
  • My kitchen being (almost) complete
  • New paint in my basement – and new possibility to make it whatever we like and whatever works for us
  • And maybe most excitingly, the promise of a new family member in 2015.

So 2014 was hard, and 2015 promises new and exciting challenges which may prove just as hard.  Finishing up my PE credits during my pregnancy at a traditional university may prove to be interesting and entertaining … but manageable.

This year I also realized that I have a huge problem committing to my goals and I am terrible at planning for my future in terms of where I want to be when.  Personally I think 5 year plans can be a little overrated but not having any direction or a very vague direction becomes problematic too.  So this year I have decided to make a 2015 bucket list.

Why a bucket list?  Well I have fundamental issues with resolutions and the things I want to get done aren’t really resolutions to change my life or improve my lifestyle.  They really are goals to be checked off this year to try and work towards what I see out there on the horizon.  I have heard some criticism about written bucket lists.  The concern being that writing down your goals puts pressure on you to achieve them and may make you feel bad if you don’t.  At first I was really concerned about this concept … until I realized that was exactly the point.  You write things down so you stay accountable.

At any rate, I wrote out my list in 7 different sections based on the components of wellness.  This was a concept from a lifetime health and wellness class I took this semester.  The idea is that your ultimate happiness or wellbeing is achieved when all 7 of these components of life are met.  I don’t know that I agree, however I was very inspired by the parenting model one of the Professors had and decided it couldn’t hurt to try.

So 2015 – let’s roll up our sleeves and start checking off items:

  • Intellectual:
    • Obtain my DONA International doula certification
    • Graduate from the my Kin program
  • Physical:
    • Run a sub 30 5k – after baby is born
    • Lose 32 lbs after delivery – that should be less than 2 lbs lost per week after birth to end of 2015
  • Emotional:
    • Start weekly meditation – this will be part of birth prep too
    • Effectively manage stress by balancing/organizing home life and other life
  • Social:
    • Volunteer biweekly – I hope to do some of this as a doula to complete my certification
    • Have a monthly date night with the hubby – even if it is cooking dinner at home sans kids.  PS. honey if you are reading this don’t forget the pre-baby dinner date I requested!
  • Occupational:
    • Write a cookbook
    • Make money with some of my art/crafts/side projects
    • Take MCAT – or at the very least be registered and ready to go for 2016
  • Environmental:
    • Compost more
    • Be able to cook one meal this summer from my garden only … even if it is only a salad (minus the dressing)
    • Keep average monthly energy bill under $100 per month
  • Spiritual:
    • Find a spiritual community for myself
    • Spend a little time exploring spirituality

Of course I have a whole host of other things I’d like to start focusing more on, like reading, crafting, and seriously learning how to sew, but my primary focus for 2015 is things that will fulfill me and help me get to where I want to be.  I will still be crafting for the new baby – I have a carseat cover, blankets, nursing scarves, and a diaper changing pad on deck – but my primary focus is my family’s happiness and wellbeing.  I think the best way to do that is to find my happiness and work towards those things that matter most.

Cheers (with a mocktail) to 2015!  May it be the best year yet.

Day 11 – Judgement

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This morning I was in no mood.  For some reason I just wasn’t interested in pretending and I really wasn’t prepared to deal with ugly judgmental stares.

My car has been in the shop since before Christmas which means that if little A and I want to be able to get out of the house at all we need to get up in the morning and bring daddy to work.  We did that today but that also means that we got up out of bed before the little normally wakes up so we left in her fleece footie jammies.  After we dropped off daddy we were going to go to the bank but it wasn’t open just yet and mommy was feeling really morning sick – we did the logical thing and got food.  Bagels from Panera and since we had time today we thought we would sit down inside and eat.

That is where I encountered this elderly couple reading the obituaries over bagels and coffee.  I noticed she was drinking milk out of a kids style box and thought it interesting because I have given A those boxes of milk with the straw but would never drink one myself but didn’t think anything of them beyond that.  As 2 year olds do, my little girl started to loose interest and stood on the bench.

That is when I noticed the couple staring and talking about us.  I couldn’t hear the specifics but I was already a little self-conscious about A being in her jammies so that is exactly where my head went.  Maybe it was projecting but after about 2 minutes of this I finally stared back and told said to my little girl ‘isn’t it rude when people keep staring at us’ and so they stopped.

That may have been extremely rude and maybe turning the other cheek would have been a better option but I have to wonder why people judge so harshly the parents of young children.  Despite my discomfort with my morning encounter, she was very well behaved and I thought it would be fun for her and I to do something fun together today.  So we went to her first movie theater movie.

I had wanted to take her to see Annie or Into The Woods but she had no interest in the trailers but wanted to watch the trailer for Big Hero 6 over and over and over.  So that is what we saw.  With it still being Christmas break around here, the theater was pretty full of kids.  A was the youngest and only tried to get up once.  She was actually less disruptive than most of the older kids – and the movie was pretty cute.

While it was a good day, I am left wondering why exactly we make parents feel so unsure of themselves and so inadequate.  I am always wondering if she is being rude, if she is being disruptive, and if I am maybe not teaching her the right things.  Most of the time I can roll my eyes and let it go but every now and then – especially when it is older individuals who have likely had their own children and been in my shoes once.

Day 10 – 5 pros to staying home

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The holiday season is almost over.  It is a little sad but also extremely exciting.  The family is a little out of sorts with the holiday events and my overly tired little girl only ever wants to ride her new bike.  Naps are seemingly a thing of the past and some how seems to make bedtime a million times harder.

I also spent most of Christmas and Christmas Eve feeling as if I was going to be ill.  This baby has been ensuring that my early weeks of pregnancy are spent feeling on the verge of total sickness, total exhaustion, and everything is sore and achey.  It actually feels like my two children are ganging up on me already … before #2 is even born.

Since the week has been a bit of a struggle and motivation is seriously lacking, I thought I would share the best things about being home.

  1. Lunch time with my little girl
  2. Naps – in the first trimester this is a major perk I wasn’t expecting
  3. No more commute
  4. No more guilt spending time with my little girl instead of washing the dishes
  5. Pajama days – seriously does it get better?

The cost of a quiet 2 year old – Day 5

Here we are – day 5 – and I am finally starting to think I am getting into a new routine/rhythm.  And then the 2 year old wakes up at 6.  How can such a little growing body require such little sleep when I seem to want nothing more than to sleep all day long?  Between the 2 year old not wanting to go to bed at night and baby two keeping me on the verge of sleep and sick most hours of the day I can already tell you this pregnancy is not going to be a breeze but it is so nice to have reduced the number of competing priorities I currently have.

I had a small list of places to call today to check on my car, verify charges on my cell phone bill, update some information – just basic little things.  So I was so appreciative of my daughter’s quiet time.  Just a few minutes uninterrupted to get a call out of the way and maybe start planning the day or making a menu plan for the week.

When I got done with the phone call this is what I found:

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Very quickly I was reminded that everything comes with a cost.  The cost of my quiet 2 year old only happened to be washable ink all down her legs this time (and a huge grin on her face).  It strikes me as odd that I had forgotten that.  That cost was the reason I left work for now.  The cost of being in the office and spreading all my other time between family, housework, and school wasn’t leaving quality for anything.  And yet here I am, trying to multi-task instead of enjoying my moments with my little girl.

At the library yesterday I found a book I was drawn to, but put it down because I feel uncomfortable reading self-help books.  The book was about being addicted to stress.  I saw it and thought ‘yes, that’s me!’.  And then I spent a few seconds thinking about how silly it was to consider borrowing a book from the library to try and ‘fix’ my stress.  Sounded to me like it was just a great way to add structure and stress to my life.  So I walked away.

I am unexpectedly struggling to find my ‘new normal’ for this month that I am home.  It is like all of a sudden the lack of demands on my time have made me feel almost worthless.  Almost as if there is no value to my day in and day out goings on – which is silly.  Raising a free willed little toddler is possibly the most valuable thing I can contribute to society.

I know it is an adjustment period and that it is punctuated by pregnancy hormones, and I know it was a choice that we made for the benefit of our family.  And I stand by that – I just didn’t know it would be so hard to go from 4 am wake ups and long days to cleaning, cooking, and caring for my little girl.

Day 3

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A few weeks ago I turned in my notice at work.  That was Tuesday – by Friday night the news week got bigger.  It turns out we are taking on two adventures all at the same time.  When August rolls around our little girl will no longer be an only child and we will no longer be a family of 3.  As you can see from this fitting image, A isn’t exactly sure of the situation just yet.

It seems that A and her yet to be born brother or sister decided to start conspiring against me early – She refused to nap while baby made it impossible for me to think of anything other than a nice long nap between pleas of ‘please don’t get sick’.  Being down a vehicle (mine is in the shop for about a week) is making the transition just a little more interesting.  Until we have both cars back I am sort of stuck in the house with the little and the dog all day long.  Which was sort of the idea for the next month … but having the option to run to the library or visit my mom made it somehow seem different.  Even if we decided not to leave the house at least we had the option.

The weekend we found out about baby 2 on the way was a tough one – I spent the weekend rethinking my entire plan.  It took about 2 days to realize nothing was going to change and nothing needed to.  The time is almost too perfect, I should be finishing my degree at the end of the Summer and I should be able to do so before the baby is born – there is no worry about getting back to work or what it will be like when I get back and I should be able to enjoy (and figure out) being a mom of two before the next phase gets underway.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year indeed.

 

Day 1

What is it about the start of something new and fresh that is filled with so much possibility and excitement, but when it gets here it seems to be no big deal?

Today is day 1.

I woke up this morning and I didn’t have a job to go to.  I had finals to finish but no job.  Two tests later and I am looking at spending my afternoon until my princess wakes up from nap time at grandma’s, cleaning and getting Christmas stuff together.  I should really be taking a nap myself but that might be a luxury that has to wait.

I anticipated this day for a long time.  What was it going to be like to get up and not go to work?

While I feel a small twinge of guilt that my husband has to get up and go to work in the morning I just woke up reassured that he and I made the best possible decision for our family.

I was worried.

I was concerned about what people would think and the judgements they would make.  I was afraid everyone would think I was crazy.  I left my corporate job after all.  But I have been amazed so far at the reactions I have seen.  I actually can’t tell you how many times I have heard ‘I wish I could do that and do something I cared about’.

I have been affectionately terming this little adventure 365 days of willful unemployment – which almost makes it sound more insane than it is.  I am lucky enough to get to spend the next year focused on things that matter and prioritizing pretty much everything in my life.  I get to change things up a little and be intentional about where I end up in a year from now.

It won’t be easy or pretty all of the time, it’s going to stink a little when I can’t get those new jammies for A just because she wants them but doesn’t need them.  It won’t always be wonderful that we can’t go out to dinner just because I don’t want to cook.  And not that we are going to be scraping by, but having to actually live on an in stone budget will be new for us.

A lot of things led to this decision but ultimately what it came down to was I had a decent job but I wasn’t happy.  I eventually got my act together and was able to think about why I was there, how I got there, and why I stayed.  There were nice things, and I have nothing but good things to say about the company I spent 11 years and 4 months working for.  It was my first job and it took me further than I imagined, but I was staying not because I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else but because I knew I should be there, because I should be focused on financial stability, because I should value the prestige of working ‘Corporate America’ and because I should climb that ladder.

Not one of those things sounded like a motivator that was best for me or my family – and certainly wasn’t how I wanted to raise my little girl.

So, here I am, day one of ‘the rest of my life’.  My husband is giving me such a special gift by supporting me in this and by encouraging me to be great – I intend to savor every minute of it, get the most I can out of the experience, and of course make him proud.

Enough – The Unmasking

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It only took me a day to crash from my resolve and excitement yesterday.  Today I am feeling exhausted and defeated. I am a person who looks big picture … but I look at the details of the big picture.  I am already feeling overwhelmed and worried.

What if I am not good enough?

What if I fail?

I know there will be benefit either way … and I guess closure to a small sliver in my life.  And I know it is silly to get too caught up in it right now – but I didn’t know this was what I was working towards until recently.  I didn’t know what I was doing, except trying to do it all and it lead to a few missed steps a long the way.

I worry my GPA isn’t strong enough, that my academic record is going to show I am not dedicated enough, that I am not diverse enough in my background.

I know I need to slow down and take it one step at a time.  I know that everything is impossible until someone makes it possible.  I know that my GPA is only one part of the picture and I know that some people with perfect 4.0s don’t get accepted because they are lacking something else.

I also know I have more than enough of that something else.

But now I have to show someone else on paper that I have that something else.  That I somehow am different than the other applicants and that I should represent their school.  I hate the process of trying to sell myself.  It feels like show boating, like my abilities and my character is second to my ‘uniqueness’ and ‘notable accomplishments’.

The other struggle is that some of those accomplishments no longer seem relevant.  Yes they happened but how valid is a service project from 10 years ago?  I am so fortunate to be primarily surrounded by people in my life who think I am great and like I can do anything.  I have been so incredibly touched by the outpouring of love and support from family and friends and acutely aware that there are others not so excited for me.  And I get it – this is a big and scary step.

On one hand I am so grateful for everyone who has stepped into my corner and on the other hand I remember why I didn’t share this with others in the past.  I don’t want to disappoint, I lack a certain self-confidence, and frankly I spend a lot of time feeling like a fraud hiding behind a mask.  It’s like I am waiting for some one to catch a glimpse of reality as I see it and realize I am not as capable or smart as they think.

There will be a lot of ‘soul searching’ in the coming months and a lot of rediscovering who I want to be in this world.

I know this is the happiest I have been in a long while – the most ‘alive’, if you will.  I am so excited to try something and take a risk and allow my husband the opportunity to help me achieve my dreams knowing that at some point in our future he will need the same from me.  While I have had a huge uncontrollable grin plastered across my face since yesterday, a good cry has been lurking just under the surface.

I can’t exactly put my finger on the feeling that is prompting the desire to spend an hour bawling – it might be fear, relief, sorrow, guilt, excitement, or maybe a mix of all of it.  I am trying hard not to look back and run through the ‘if I could do it again’ scenarios, because I can’t and the reality I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  I am better today for the path I was on yesterday – and seriously, who would trade the life I have with my husband and my daughter for anything in the world?

I heard something that has stuck with me recently and I can’t remember where but it went something like this – find what you want to do in the world not what the world wants from you.  If you have enough passion, the world will want what you do.

That my friends is the actual dream.