it's all about ME

picking up my head & taking a look around

365 | 2
My lovely new copy of Karen Walrond's The Beauty of Different, tucked among the girls books and a couple magazines.

In 2010 I went back to full time work, outside of the home. 

Which, of course, changed everything.

Especially when you couple it with Mark returning to freelance work, having TWO kids in school and my insane decision to become part of another small theatre company when not working for the BIG theatre company.

So here we are, firmly settling into a new year.  And in reality, the shift from December 31 to January 1 is not a big deal.  It's just a new day, really.  I usually blow off the New Year as a holiday and just kind of sink into my lfe as normal, not really embracing the different.

Yeah, I'm ready for a new year.

Last year I put my head down and survived all the change.
This year I'd like to embrace my new patterns.

Last year I set aside my own sense of self to hold up the shifts in my family.
This year I'm going to allow my family to settle into their own skin.

Last year I let go of my camera, my writing, my sense of art.
This year I hope to embrace it.

In short, I want to remember how to simply be myself this year. Whatever that means.

Here's how I'm starting:

I'm taking Irene Nam's Simple Soulful Photography Workshop. It started yesterday and I'm working my way through lesson one with a bit of frustration crawling up my spine.  The lesson is simple, yes, but embracing it can be hard when you've had your head down for a year. 

I'm starting a 365 project, an idea I shunned just last month.  I came around when I realized I didn't have to make it a self portrait project and I don't have to expect to upload a photo every single day.  I just have to shoot something every single day.  I can upload them once a week, if need be.

I'm trying to find a way to spend more time with the small theatre.  The big theatre may feed my family but the little one? It feeds my soul.  Not sure yet how to accomplish this goal.

On January 1st, as we drove South to home after a week visiting family in the snow, Mark and I talked about the play I haven't finished writing.  And we talked our way to how to end it.  I think it's a reasonable thing to hope to finish it this year. 

Oh, and I'm posting here. I promise to try to do that more.

Mostly, I'm just trying to pick my head up and actually see what's around me. 

Wish me luck.

you, on a Sunday morning

Early Sunday morning after a late night at work. A night at work where all the minions of chaos came together to render it an unmitigated disaster... as far as disasters can go, that is, when you're running a glorified theatre concessions stand.  The alarm is demanding you get up, because dammit, there is a seven-year-old's birthday to attend and you said you'd go.  Also? You have to put on a swimsuit.  Sigh.  Roll out of bed, climb into the kids' bed and attempt to wake them by falling back to sleep across their tiny bodies.  The big one responds to the words, "birthday pool party" by stumbling up and pulling on her swimsuit, wandering about with a clean pair of underwear muttering to her dad, "Where's the swim bag?".  The little one remains asleep, mouth open and back pressed into your own belly while you snuggle into the nape of her sweet neck, breathing in the smell of her and wondering how you make it through each day without eating her up, you love her so.

Back into your own bedroom you go, rummaging around for a swimsuit, dreading the image you'll see once all your parts are tucked into the unforgiving material.  "Blerg" you tell your Mister and your reflection. "Mmmm." He replies, wrapping his arms around you and planting a kiss on your shoulder.  You are loved, even if you look slightly like a sausage.

Breakfast for you, the kids, the dog, the chickens, brief thoughts of the goat you don't have and would have to be milking right now if you did.  Totally waiting on the goat until the world changes a bit, yep.  Check the garden, remove a couple bugs, add some water to the Three Sisters patch and then back inside to gather the family, trying to get them into the car in one fell swoop (or swell foop, as the Mister likes to say).  Realize there was no coffee this morning and shake it off, making your way to the YMCA pool you've never seen.  

Wrong turn.  Thank goodness for the Mister who spies the water slide and tells you where to go. 

This is what you find:

Psst, not my photo.  I refuse to bring my camera to places full of wet.

It's like a Mecca for wee people.  When the big water slide opens you try to talk the big kid into going, but she refuses, too afraid.  Instead, spend the next hour swapping with the Mister so you both can ride it, pleasantly surprised and excited to be reminded how brilliantly awesome a water slide can be.  The water is warm, the sun is burning you all a bit, but you are having a great time.  Happy to be together and playing and not even thinking about how you look as you rawr through the water with a five-year-old giggling on your back, flinging children around feeling like a kid, yourself.

You realize, for only a moment, that you are not even thinking of the things that made you yell, "This cannot happen again!" at your staff just 12 hours ago.  All you can see is that the little kid is learning the breast stroke right in front of you and the big kid has just discovered that even if she can't touch the bottom of the pool, she can save herself by simply swimming to the edge and the Mister is grinning foolishly from the top of the big water slide, pure joy all around.  Who knew you could find a moments redemption in an aquatic park?

This is you, on a Sunday morning. 

And dammit, you like this version of you. 

meh, it's just an *occasional* emotional overload

Years ago I spent some time with a cardiologist.  My heart was doing these weird rhythms that didn't make sense and when it would suddenly start to trip along drunkenly, other odd things would happen.  For instance, the whole world would suddenly feel like it had slowed down while I appeared to be moving lightening fast.  I remember once watching my hand move rapidly across a test paper while my classmates seemed to be moving through molasses, my heart skipping and stumbling in my chest.  And the cardiologist could find nothing wrong with me.  Mostly because my heart refused to cooperate whenever he was looking, much like your car refusing to make that horrid noise once the mechanic lifts the hood. 

And then it just stopped.  Gone.  Like that.

Recently these little attacks have come back, though this time the symptoms are more defined.  My heart races more often than it skips and the only other thing that happens is that I become incredibly emotional.  I feel every last thing, deeply, fully, and to the tips of my fingers.  These emotional bursts seem to linger a bit.  I had one yesterday and curled up in my favorite chair with a blanket, watching TV while breathing deeply to settle down the racing heart.  Everything within me calmed and out we went for a friends birthday dinner, then off to book club for me.  But later that night I found myself facing my Mister in bed, my hand on his chest, unable to look away from that connection.  I was endlessly fascinated with that touch, the feel of his own heart under my palm.  It completely distracted me from all other things, this tiny bit of space where my hand met his skin. 

This morning when I woke I stood in my bedroom doorway watching the girls through the big living room window.  Lily spun circles in the middle of the room then turned suddenly to chase Anya around the couch.  Both were laughing when they crashed into each other in the fiercest of hugs, collapsing to the carpet, Lily practically carrying Anya down and squeezing her with the devotion of an older sister.  Anya caught sight of me and waved, big loopy arm movements and a face full of sunshine.  All the while they clutched each other, clearly so happy for their own connection.  I thought my heart might burst. 

A friend suggested that these are anxiety attacks, and that certainly could be the case.  My life is in a bit of a stressful place right now, and yet, I don't feel all that freaked out about it.  Nothing stressful or scary precedes these little episodes and they don't take me out of a functioning place.  I can go on with work or caring for the girls if I need to.  Getting to curl up and ride one out like I did yesterday is a luxury I rarely get to enjoy.  I don't know what to think about this stuff, the heart racing or the emotional depth.  Sometimes seeing the world so deeply shows me a side of "lucky" I'm not often aware of otherwise.  To fall into a riot of love over that connection I witness between my girls or between me and the Mister is a gift.  Though, it's admittedly harder to see that gift when it swings to the other side and I'm suddenly bawling at a TV show.  The video below brings me to tears every single time I see it (and you have to see it, too), but with a greater depth of something akin to sorrow when I watch it during one of these episodes.  What does it do to you?


If you don't already know about RadioLab, I urge you to go check them out. 

Anyone out there with a theory as to what's happening to cause these occasional emotional overloads?  I'm curious.  Anyone else want to tell me what the above video brings up in them?  Totally curious about that as well.

why I need to get brilliantly rich

This totally crazy thing happened.  See, at the theatre holiday party this year the Mister and I cleaned up BIG with the door prizes.  First we won a pair of tickets to see a musical and then... oh, I need to take a breath it's so awesome... we won a two nights stay at a fancy bay side hotel.

Let that just sink in for a moment.

So, this weekend we abandoned our children at their grandmother's and ran away from home.

I checked us in Friday afternoon and then headed home to get packed for our theatre evening.  We'd scored tickets to Jesus Christ Superstar, a musical both of us know fairly well and were looking forward to seeing again.  We snagged some dinner at a sushi restaurant downtown and then headed over to the theatre to get settled.  The posters and the tickets mentioned that this production started Ted Neeley, but I had no idea who that was.  Then I looked a little closer:

the day my brain did not blow up

Last Tuesday I had the most peculiar day. I kept getting this flood of light in my left eye, which while disconcerting, did not actually cause any pain or discomfort.  It happened maybe half a dozen times before dinner, when I felt it go off again and turned to Mark.  "It's doing it again, what does it look like?" I asked.  Mark looked startled and then replied, "It looks like a trip to the ER.  Get in the car." My left pupil was fully dilated while my right was normal, which isn't what you're hoping to see in your loved one or experience for yourself.

So to the ER we went, Mark dropping me off and then taking the girls home so as not to expose them to the sea of flu victims.  I sauntered up to the desk and gave the triage nurse my symptom, which earned me an early pass into the back room.  Note to self, if you ever want to jump the line in an ER, just present with stroke/aneurysm symptoms.

They took me back and asked for my medical history, of which there is nothing to share.  I've never spent a night in a hospital, never been seriously ill, didn't even have my babies in hospital.  They decided to check my vision as blurred or double vision with that symptom could indicate MS.  Nope, I have 20/16 vision so that wasn't the problem.  A doc came in a spent an inordinate amount of time shining a light in my eye before running off for a phone consult with an ophthalmologist. 

They came up with an ophthalmic migraine, which doesn't have to come with a headache.  Since I had no other neurological symptoms (numbness, headache, nausea, etc) they decided against the MRI and instead set me up with the same ophthalmologist for the next day.

Nobody can find anything wrong with me and it hasn't done it since.  Which is odd, yet good.  What it seems to come down to is stress.  Work had been rather horrid that week when a staff meeting had turned into a beat-the-crap-out-of-the-new-boss (me) meeting.  I've been dropping weight like crazy, too, though not from any diet you actually want to be on (stress!). 

I've been ordered to chill out and have another appointment with the ophthalmologist this Friday so she can fully dilate my pupils and rummage around in there fully.  Nothing puts things in perspective like spending several days being frightened that your brain was going to blow up, most likely while driving your kids somewhere and ultimately killing us all.  Stress much?

Anyone have tips on chilling out? Because while I'm thrilled I'm not dying, I clearly need to relax.

Also, the week of Halloween there was a ghost in my house.  Though I can't prove it.  Sigh.

laying it all on the table

I don't know how people do this.

The simple act of feeding my family has become the most stupid challenge EVER from the moment I took this job.  I'm not home in the evenings to cook and haven't been able to get my act together enough to cook ahead.  Besides, I have very little control over what the Mister does with the girls for dinner since I'm not around to be part of that.  Thus, my children have been living on pasta and pesto and restaurant food. 

I hate this.

And I've got all this resentment as to how our lives are working (or not working) out lately.  I came home the other night to find that the laundry was still in stacks all over the living room and (once again) Lily's lunch box hadn't been emptied which had invited an army of ants into our living room.  I totally snapped.  I got the Mister out of bed to deal with the ants and then spent the next 20 minutes railing at the man about life, the universe and everything.  How hard is it to feed the kids, put them to bed and the LOOK AROUND at what needs to happen?

And here's where I start to get a good idea about what I'm really angry about: expectations. 

Back when I was in college I got myself a little minor in Woman's Studies.  I still remember the discussion about how men are totally let off the hook, even when both partners work equally.  If someone walks into a messy home, it doesn't matter if it's the guys job to clean it up, SHE is still the one they immediately condemn.  Living with housemates means that this is constantly in my mind.  Despite the fact that I very much doubt they are judging me all the time, I still feel it.  My home is a mess = I am at fault. 

This has put me into a rather nasty little hole.  Instead of getting stuff done in the day, I can feel myself giving up.  If the Misters full expectation is to simply feed and put the kids to bed before he sits himself in front of the TV or computer, than why am I busting my ass in the small amount of time I am home? 

To be fair, when that man decides to clean something, he cleans it to within an inch of it's life.  And he does attack many large projects.  But it's the day to day that has me discouraged.  And damn am I discouraged these days.  I recently came under fire from a couple random people via this blog and it made me feel even more like I was living under a microscope.  I have to remind myself over and over again that I don't blog for random people.  I blog for my kids, so they can have a clear look at what their mother was like when they were little, and I blog for myself, so I don't go insane.  Which leads me to get really pissed off when I feel like my blog is giving people the impression that they know me well enough to criticize my actions, thoughts and practices.

Most of you don't know me.  Most of you will never be in the same room as me, much less shake my hand.  Most of you have never seen me parent my children nor share an evening with my Mister.  Most of you only know what I offer, which is undoubtedly biased considering it's my blog.  But I do try to be honest with you, because I'm working damn hard to be honest with my children and myself. 

Honestly, I'm floundering.  I don't have all the answers. I make HUGE mistakes as well as little ones.  I sometimes yell at my kids and my Mister and even the damn dog.  I am full of doubt and anger and fear and spend a whole lot of time just muddling through each moment hoping I'm not screwing it up too deeply.  I am drowning in flaws, people. I never claimed otherwise.  And yet, I am somehow expected to live up to some picture or ideal that some of you have created for me.  How could anyone ever do that?

So this is it: my home is a mess.  I am having a hard time.  My children deserve a mother who isn't flailing around like an idiot all the time, but for now, they get me.  My Mister doesn't deserve a wife who is so angry at him for taking what he needs to stay sane (time out).  At the same time, it's OK for me to expect more from him and not try to leave him unscathed from this transition to me working full time again.  Somewhere there is balance.  Nobody said it would immediately reveal itself to me.

I just wish I knew how people do this.

how the universe kicked my ass, then punched me in the face

I spend most of my days full time parenting the girls, driving them to and fro, making pile after pile of food, and freeing random objects from hair tangles all while the snarkiest "NO" ever gets practiced repeatedly in my general direction.  In other words: nothing new there. 

In the evenings, I drive to the theatre, hand the kids over to the Mister and then settle in to work for several hours.  I discover that I cannot do simple math.  I discover that counting stacks of money is deeply vexing and often confuses me.  I get frustrated because I used to be so good at all this stuff and now I feel lucky if I'm holding on to the table when it takes off without me. 

99-88-77-66-55-44-33-22-11-now

Ninety-nine minutes ago I was I was treating myself to a slice of cheesecake from the pub and gabbing with a house manager and a pub employee.

Eighty-eight minutes ago I was discussing the importance of good coffee, even if I can't stand the stuff.

Seventy-seven minutes ago I was being reminded that we had left a bunch of items out (pub signs, creamer, sugar, etc) and scurrying to get it all put away.

Sixty-six minutes ago I was accidentally setting off the alarm in the pub and hoping it wasn't being heard in the out door theatre just across the plaza.

Employment leads to drinking. It's been proven.

Something kinda crazy happened today.

I got a job.

Like a real one, with hours and responsibility and hot-damn pay.

Nope, totally didn't see that coming.

Basically, I'm going to be working at the same theatre that the Mister does, only opposite hours.  Those hours both suck and are perfect.  I'll be able to take the kids with me to the theatre, hand them off to the Mister, he'll take them home and feed them and put them to bed, all while I work my butt off in a job I have no idea how to do.  Also? I'll never see my husband again.

Sounds like fun, no?

No.

But, it's good money and considering that the Mister's job ends at the start of 2010, it'll be nice to be able to squirrel away some money so we don't have to sell the children come January.

As a result of all this, I had to go out with some girlfriends and drink too much.

No really, I HAD TO.

Don't question it.

We went to this totally cool place with pink drinks and a cabana and really delicious food and I had TWO drinks and it turns out that makes me drunk.  Who'd had thunk it?

So I'm home and sober and yet, still loopy.  YAY!

I have a job.

Someone save me.

--------------------------------------------

I decided to talk at you. Wanna Listen?

four pounds

While on vacation at my mother-in-laws house, I picked up one of her magazines and ran across an article about a concept of dieting developed by Dr. James B. Johnson, which he dubbed the Alternate-Day Diet.  I was skeptical, but figured I could give it a go and see what happens, since one of the reasons I've always failed at dieting is that I don't do well with being told I cannot have something.  His idea is that you only have to limit yourself every other day, dropping your caloric intake by 20-50%.

So last Sunday, I started.  I decided to aim for 1000 calories on my down days, which is closer to the 50% mark.  I gave myself no set expectations, just told myself I'd give it a week and see what happens.  And it hasn't been very hard for me at all.  If there's something that I really want, I tell myself I can have it tomorrow.  Sometimes I actually do have it.  Sometimes I forget.  On up days, I eat normally, though I will admit that I'm eating with more thought and care than I did before.  I do not track calories on those days, as I fear it would depress me.  But on down days, I track everything and have managed to stay pretty darn close to the 1000 calorie goal.

Today I stepped on a scale after noticing that I had to move to the next belt loop when getting dressed.

Four pounds.

In a week.

I'm shocked.  I did not have that much faith in this concept.  I refused to invest emotionally in it, but shockingly, I'm seeing results.

Anyone else out there heard of this? Anyone else doing it?  I'd really love to hear how other people (I actually know or have a connection with) are doing with it.

hazards of not being able to see the future

another cairn

There this something inside me lately that I cannot figure out, a deeply agitated restlessness, as though I am waiting for something. I feel this undercurrent of a change in my life and since I cannot define it, I let it bloom into a thousand possibilities, some of them beautiful and magical, but mostly frightening and painful. Somehow, the unknown has turned into the big-bad-ugly and I cannot see the boldly-beautiful-urgency that it simply could be outlining. Correction: I can see it, but I somehow keep choosing to believe in the worst. And if we are our own manifestations of our futures, then how can I keep feeding the fear that the worst is yet to come? And how, when your life is so very beautiful already, can you not assume that big-change equals bad-change? It would seem like greed to expect beauty when you are already surrounded by so much of it.

Make me work for it

My very favorite, totally not mom related blog out there is Trauma Queen.  Kal writes about life as a Paramedic in Edinburgh and I happen to be in love with his prose, drunk on his descriptions and downright obsessed with his photography skills.  He recently invited his readers to make a list in the comments about what they'd like to see him photograph.  Some were site specific to Edinburgh, some were work related, and some seemed a little odd, but worked out just fine

I'm still without a good camera, but would love to stretch my skills a bit and figured I'd give it a go on this side of the pond.  Anyone want to suggest an assignment?  Leave your photo requests in the comments below and I'll start posting them next week.

Seriously, if nobody suggests anything, I'm going to cry.

 

What I take to stay out of the bad place

So I've had a ton of requests for my list o' supplements, mentioned in the last post.  Here's what I need to say before I share what they are:

This specific list (and their dosages, which I will NOT list) was discussed and tweaked with my Midwife/Acupuncturist/Herbalist/Friend.  It is not a formula that will work for everyone.  It is not a regimen I would start without first consulting someone who know what they hell she's talking about.  It's very, very important that your specific needs and limitations are discussed, evaluated and addressed to your personal situation.  You're going to waist time, money and results by just throwing together a batch of the below items and hoping for the best.  SO, why am I bothering to share it with you at all?  Because I think it's important for people to understand how this kind of change and real results are attainable with things you can find at your health food store (or somewhere online like VitaCost).  NOT FOR EVERYONE, of course.  Some people need good 'ol fashioned pharmaceuticals and that's totally OK.  Others, like me, do just fine with this list, or something like it when I don't turn into an asshat and forget to take them. 

Enough disclaimers?

Good!  Here's what I take:

the deep, dark crazy place & my amazing kid

A little over a week ago, I stopped taking the long list of supplements that keep me from being totally insane.  I wasn't intending to stop, really.  We were heading out on a camping trip and I didn't want to mess with them and so I figured I could totally skip a couple days without a problem. 

The camping trip was fun, but uber cold.  I spent all night freezing myself silly until, somewhere around 3am, I got up, put on a whole nother layer of clothing and made it through to 5am when all the kids started waking up and hooting like maniac bonobos.  My lower back felt wrong and by mid-day, I had a feeling I was in trouble.  I took Lily on a walk but when it came time for me to head home, I was kinda screwed.  I had to work the next morning, so left with a serious pain ripping through me, hoping that a night in my warm bed would take care of the problem.

The Busy, she brings it

The end of the year for Lily's school has proved to be a wicked busy time.  There's all these events and parties and children clinging to the Kinder teacher, not really ready to say goodbye for 12 whole weeks.  One of the families in Lily's class is moving to Brazil this month and yesterday it finally hit the sweet faced little girl that she may never see her friends and teacher again.  When she lost it, we all had to press our fists to our eyes and try not to burst into our own set of sorrowful tears.  There's a moms night scheduled for Friday and I can bet you at least half of us will break down and sob, myself included.

How did we get here with these big kids who are a day away from being labeled first graders?  It's hella shocking, yo.

But back to The Busy; she's kicking my ass.  Seriously, just look at my schedule today:

How to install a porch light

Go to your local hardware store.
Spend 30 minutes examining at all the selections while your 3yo "helpfully" picks out lights at random.
Finally find the one you want in the right price category.
Take it home.
Open box.
Discover it's missing a part.
Take it back.
Find another box of the same light.
Open the box before you leave, making sure it has the missing part.
Take it home.
Open box.
Discover it's missing a different part.
Go to bed...

30 days until schools out for summer

Slow down, she says.
Take it easy, she says.
No reason to rush through everything, just waiting for another crisis to crop up. Take a look around you and see that all is well. The children are healthy. Nobody has eaten the chickens, despite the slipshod temporary coop roof. You're happier since you quit that job. We're on the brink of Summer and while it might be scary to spend all that time with both kids, it'll also be wonderful. Remember Winter break when, after a couple days without school, the girls fell into their own sweet pattern and stopped with all that restlessness? That will happen again. And there will be more trips North to visit family and friends. There will be vegetables and eggs and fruit to harvest. There's a new job to enjoy and grow within. There's a stack of books to sink into and knitting to keep the hands working...

Distracting my disappointment with introspection

Mark and I have been married nine years, today. We'd be celebrating, but the silly man has a cold and has been rooted to the couch, moaning occasionally and being altogether miserable. So instead of talking about how much I love him (which I do), I'm going to replace my disappointment with introspection. Feel free to skip it if not in the mood. My Mister is a calm fella. He is not nearly as emotional as I; which works out brilliantly in that when all hell breaks lose, he can keep calm and carry on, while I race about flapping my arms and yelling at inanimate objects. It's an excellent pairing, most days.

Wait and see? SERIOUSLY?

A couple of days ago I got a phone call from my new, theatre-geek-dentist's office, reminding me that I had an appointment Monday morning.  Whaaa?  Oh, right!  I do remember something about that.  Lucky for me, I wasn't working this Monday (like I have been every other Monday for the last couple months) and so took me and Anya over for a little dental fun.

I haven't had x-rays in years.  Like 10 of them.  Or more.  It still kinda sucks, with the big thing you have to bite on that digs into your palette and the unnatural way you have to hold yourself, but it wasn't too evil.  "Have you ever broken your jaw?" The perky hygienist asked.
"Um, no."
"No trauma to the right side of your face?"
"Not that I can recall."  As though I'd, you know, maybe forgotten getting hit by a bouncer or flying judo chop or something.
"Hmmm." She kept shooting.
"What?"
"Oh, it's probably nothing."
"You're going to show me this nothing." I insisted.

So she did.  She pulled up the picture of the left side of my face and showed me what a normal x-ray looked like, and then showed me the right.  Very clearly, there was a big, shadowy white blotch under the roots of a couple teeth.  "What the hell is that?" I asked, happy that Anya was being read to by another staff member so she couldn't hear the small note of worry in my voice.
"Normally, that's what scarring looks like.  But if you've had no trauma, it's something else."
"Like what?" I squeaked.
"Oh, we'll have the dentist take a look."

Nice deflection, lady.

So he did.  He looked.  And he rummaged around in my mouth a bit before declaring that sometimes people get these bone spur thingies and that could be what it is.  "I've seen them as big as marbles!" he exclaimed, looking way too excited about the prospect of a massive growth in my face.  "For now, we'll just wait and see."
"So you think that's what it is?"
"Could be.  Could be nothing."

So let me see if I have this straight: there's a mass in my face and you don't know what it is?  And the solution here is to "wait and see"?

Why am I not comforted?

Anyone out there with a medical background want to just tell me it's not cancer.  I'll totally believe you.  Because right now?  Kinda feeling like a crazy person inside.