The Busier, the More Productive

Have you ever noticed that when you’re busier, you’re more productive? That is definitely the case for me. Right now my days are packed. I get up at 5:30am and am out the door by 6:15am at the latest. At school I have a list of tasks to complete in the 20 minutes before my zero period kids arrive and then another set of tasks to complete in the 10 minute break before first period. Then I teach straight through until 12:07pm and by 12:17pm I am in the car on my way to pick up Monito. Sometimes I try to squeeze in a quick errand (like today I grabbed wart remover at CVS–I know, gross) on my way to my in-laws. I’m always there by 1:15pm and I’m home with Monito by 1:45pm. After a diaper change and bottle he goes down for a nap and I have 90 minutes to eat lunch and do whatever else I need to get done. I keep a running list of To Do’s in my reminder app and if I’m not working out during Monito’s nap, I immediately open it and get to work. That 90 minutes is so precious, I absolutely can’t squander it and the knowledge that there is just no other time to get these things done makes me use that time very wisely.

Monito is usually up by 3:40. I try to give him at least 10 minutes of my undivided attention before I keep working on chores or quickly run an errand before walking to pick up Osita (she really loves when we walk home so I’m trying to do that now, while the weather is still warm(ish) and the days are still long). Little brother and I arrive at her school around 5pm, right when they are coming off the playground (if I get there earlier she doesn’t want to leave) and we head home, munching on snacks while we walk. We take our time trekking back and we don’t get to the house until around 6pm most nights. The three of us hang out for 15 minutes and let Monito burn off some energy crawling around/wreaking havoc/tearing through the house before I put him to bed. By 6:45pm I’m making Osita dinner, which she takes 30 some odd minutes to eat (ah mealtimes, always a power struggle). By 7:15pm we’re having “Osita Time” (more on this soon) and then it’s bedtime for bonzos. Of course bedtime takes at least an hour so I’m not out of her room until 8:30pm most nights and I’ll be back in there intermittently until at least 9:30pm which means I don’t get much done in the following hour. By 9:30 I’m already puttering around the house getting things ready before bedtime and by 10:30pm my head has hit the pillow and the lights are out.

I definitely have less time right now than I ever have before and yet I’m getting more (of the things that I absolutely have to do) done than I usually do. Knowing my time is extremely limited and feeling the pressure to honor commitments means that I don’t waste a minute of the time to do my things. I’ve actually managed to stay on top of a few on going, unrelated projects right now, and I’m pretty impressed with the fact that I haven’t let any balls drop, at least not yet.

Of course this also means that the things I used to do during those off hours are getting swept aside (ahem, blog writing, reading and commenting). I basically have to think ahead, at the beginning of the week, about what I want to write and then schedule it in somewhere or it won’t get done. (I still haven’t figured out when to read or comment on blogs, but I will I promise.) I’m only writing this post now because I’ve pushed back a copyediting assignment until tomorrow (probably not the best call, but it’s been made).

As of today, I’m making this new schedule work but I wonder how long I can keep this up. If I were ever to have an unproductive day (or god forbid get sick) the whole house of cards would come tumbling down and already aspects of my life are suffering: my house is a disaster zone, I’m perpetually exhausted and my tension headaches are coming back. I keep telling myself that if I keep this up for a few more weeks I can get on top of some things and I’ll have a little more wiggle room but I have the sneaking suspicion that that is not actually the case.

I could worry more about that right now but instead I’m going to marvel at how much I’m getting done and how well my reminder app is keeping me on task during the extremely limited time I do have. I always suspected that I got more done when I had less time, but now I’m certain of it.

How do you handle very busy periods in your life? Do you find you get more done when you have less time?

I Got My Body Back

The last few weeks haven’t been all bad. In fact, one truly amazing thing happened–I got my body back. I’m still not at my pre-pregnancy weight of 145, but at only 2.5 pounds away I can fit into my pre-pregnancy pants. I’m a size 8 again! That is a feat I never thought I’d accomplish.

In April of this year (at six month postpartum) I was 170lbs, the heaviest I’d ever been without carrying a baby. I looked like this.

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This first 5lbs came off pretty easily after I stopped pumping. Maybe it was all in my boobs. ;)

On June 4th I saw this on the scale.

159

I was stoked to be out of the 160s. At 165 I had really started trying to lose the weight but it was slow going.

It took until mid July to get down to 155. That was my first goal, because I knew once I hit it I’d be a lot more comfortable in my body and able to wear some of my non-maternity clothes. I was very excited to post this shot.

155

I honestly didn’t think I’d lose much more weight in the weeks that followed, but one of the benefits of being really stressed and upset is that I didn’t eat much when school was starting. To my astonishment, I saw this on August 12th.

150

That was a HUGE day for me. I was thrilled. It kept me motivated to keep working out and watch what I was eating.

This past weekend I stepped on the scale and saw this:

147

Now I’m only 2.5lbs away from my ultimate goal (though I wouldn’t mind getting all the way back down to 140, which is where I was before I was pregnant with Osita). I also fit into my size 8 pants, and honestly? I never thought that was going to happen.

My body has changed a lot in the five years since first carried a successful pregnancy–the pouch around my midsection will likely never go away, no matter how much weight I lose–but working out has shown me that I can still look and feel great in this body, even for all the ways it has changed. I may be a couple pounds more than I weighed before I got pregnant with Monito, but I honestly think I look better, because I’m more toned than I was before (thank you 30 Day Shred). I look and feel strong, and that has always been really important for me.

I know it’s annoying to post these scale shots, but I did it because with each one I’m reminded of the work it took to get there and the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I took each picture. Losing the almost 25lbs since April has been a huge undertaking and I battled for every one of those pounds lost. Losing the weight after my first pregnancy was easy (and I had to lose 55lbs!) but getting my body back this time around has been really hard (despite the fact that I “only” had to lose 35lbs this time). I attribute my success to our elliptical, the 30 Day Shred (seriously, it has transformed my body) and my medicine, which helps keep my depression/anxiety from causing me to overeat.

This weekend we went to an amusement part with a water area and not only did I feel confident walking around in my bathing suit (despite my glowing white legs), I actually asked my husband to take a picture of me dancing with my kids while wearing it.

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I may not have the body I did before I had my daughter, but I feel so good in the one I’ve got now, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

In Someone Else’s Words

I’m still not over my feelings of anger and sadness about how my second, and last, attempt at breastfeeding failed.

It still hurts me to read about successful breastfeeding relationships.

It still feels like a slap across my face when readers are urged to keep trying, because it does get better and it’s so worth it to stick it out (and I absolutely KNOW that no one is slapping me across the face with that message, it’s just what it feels like when I read it.)

I still wish, every day, that I had that ultimate bonding experience with my son. That I were still enjoying it. That it were a part of our lives.

I think it will get better when he’s older and I can assume we would have stopped anyway, but at nine months, I think we’d still be going strong, had we ever got going at all. So the pain lingers.

There is never a day where I wish I’d kept pumping, but there is also never a day where I don’t regret that we didn’t get to breastfeed.

Sometimes it’s hard to articulate, how and why this hurts so much, why I feel like such a failure.

Then I read a post like this one and I feel such overwhelming gratitude that SOMEONE is able to put it into words so much better than I ever could.

I want to write about this more, hopefully on my public blog–because this is something I’d love to speak about publicly–but I’m not sure if I have the time for it. In case I don’t get my own message out there, I wanted to at least write this here. And link that that article. Because it says everything I wish I could say, better than I could ever say it.

Disjointed Attempts

Ugh. I tried to write a post. I got three paragraphs in and just deleted it. It was for the best. You can thank me later.

It’s 10pm. I’m waiting for the power drill to charge up (don’t get a chargeable power drill, especially the kind that won’t work even if it’s plugged in. WTF?!?!?!?!) so I can I finish installing the gate at the top of the stairs. Our house is old and nothing was built the right way and I’m guessing there is a 40% chance this gate will work once I install it. I’ll let you know how it turns out. (UPDATE: It didn’t work. The ground is not flat so the gate didn’t match up with the lock AT ALL. I’m waiting for the power drill to charge up again so I can drill four more holes. I HATE THIS POWER DRILL SO MUCH. Oh, and it is now 11pm.)

I got 23 boxes packed at work today. I paid a high school kid to help me and we did all the easy stuff today. Tomorrow is the harder stuff that I have to really sort through as I pack it. My new “room” isn’t really a room, it’s a modular and it’s SMALL and I have to get rid of a lot of stuff. Tomorrow is going to be tough. I’ll probably be down there again on Friday. It kills me that I’m missing so much of my last weeks with my baby boy but I’m trying not to think about it too much. It is what it is. It has to get done.

I’m listening to an interesting parenting book that I was really liking at first, and then it launched into an attachment parenting rant and started bagging on working parents a bit and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck bristling. I recognize that feeling attacked as a working parent is a BIG trigger for me, so I’m trying really hard to let it go. We’ll see if I succeed. If I end up liking it, I’ll review it here.

I took Monito to the OT this morning. As I suspected, she declared that everything looked great. He could move food to all areas of him mouth and didn’t seem to have any sensory issues. She gave me a lot of great tips for moving forward and I’m glad I went. I’ll pass along the best of the info soon, I promise.

I had a weird experience with one of the mom’s from Osita’s class today. I’ve actually written about her before (a LONG post) that I never published because I felt weird doing so and not long after I wrote it something happened that kind of negated the whole point of the post. Anyway, I’ve thought that maybe we could be friends, as our daughters AND our sons are the same age, she lives really close and we’re both teachers. Sometimes it seems like it might work and then she does weird stuff and I don’t know what to think. I’ve long since stopped actively pursuing her friendship, as that didn’t seem to be getting anywhere and the last thing I want to seem is desperate (especially since I am, so I probably reek of it). Anyway, it just makes me realize how hard finding a friend is–I mean, everything lines up perfectly between us and we still don’t seem to fit.

I asked another mom out for dinner or drinks not long ago (via text) and she said yes, but then later in the text conversation she admitted that she had lost all her contacts with her phone and didn’t actually know who I was. So that felt… awkward. She said she suspected it was me but still, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that. I mean, I guess it shows that she’s nice enough to say yes to dinner/drinks with someone without even knowing for sure who it is, but it also feels like I can’t even be sure she actually wants to hang out with me, since she didn’t know who I was when she agreed. Of course she’s leaving this Friday for two weeks in Italy (with her mom and brother, for a wedding, it’s cool, I’m not totally jealous). I’ll let you all know how our “date” goes when she gets back (it totally feels like a date by the way. I feel like I’m on the market, looking to date other moms. Ugh. I sucked at dating romantically, I’ll probably suck at this too.)

Oh, and I lost my Fitbit, so that is totally bumming me out right now.

So that is me at the moment. Trudging through packing my room, trying to baby proof this house, mourning the loss of my FitBit, and trying not to show how desperate I am for a friend to unsuspecting mothers (and I’d be totally open to “dating” women who aren’t mothers, but I honestly don’t even know where I find them. We don’t tend to inhabit the same places these days). It’s, well, kind of tedious, but I’m doing my best to get through.

{I just read through a bunch of posts in my reader and now I feel like a total asshole for being so whiny in this post (and all the my recent posts actually) when there are people with real, honest-to-god, problems in the world. I’m still going to put it up, because I wrote it, but just for the record, please know that I’m aware: me=asshole.}

{That damned power drill better have some juice by now…}

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2ND UPDATE: I finally got the gate installed. At 12:21am. Five hours after I started. At least it works.

Tailspin

I feel like the dust is still settling from BlogHer.

I don’t really believe in “meant to be” but I do believe in creating meaning out of what might otherwise be deemed coincidence. A few things happened in quick succession last weekend. Actually they all kind of happened at once, spinning me furiously so that when I slowed enough for the nausea to pass, I wasn’t sure what direction I was facing, or what I was even looking at.

I’m still trying to get my bearings.

The first thing was this: I wrote that post about how much it annoys me when bloggers ditch their blogs mid narrative, never to return. I used strong words. I wrote in all caps. Honestly, that was my angry voice, the one I use with friends in texts when we’re chatting about something that just really ruffles my feathers. I don’t usually use that voice on my blog. It was very much “me,” the “me” that I show only to some people. I don’t know how it snuck out of the basement rec room where it is normally relegated, or why it broke free, but it did. I guess I just feel really strongly about that particular topic, and so I said some shit and didn’t really think about the consequences when I scheduled it.

But there were consequences. And people came to my blog and one of them was quite frank in the dialogue that ensued. And it got me thinking.

So the whole time I was at BlogHer, surrounded by literally THOUSANDS of women who do the same thing I do (give or take)–in very different Internet spaces and with drastically varying results–I was thinking about what had transpired on my blog. As I watched women find their tribes and connect with their readers, I thought about how I knew almost no one there (at the conference) and I wanted so badly to meet the people I did know through blogging, but I’d probably never meet them, and I cared so much and I had no real way of knowing if anyone else felt the same. I spent the whole time at BlogHer listening, trying to figure out why ALL THE WOMEN write, realizing there are SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE, so many women who come to blogging to talk about other things besides not being able to get pregnant, and losing babies and feeling broken and alone. They come to write about all sorts of other shit and they find their tribes and it all just seems a lot simpler, and at the same time harder to understand.

The blogosphere is a big place. I used to think that when I’d fall down the rabbit hole of comment links or BlogRolls and found woman after woman writing about IF or RPL or adoption or parenting after all of those. But I had NO IDEA how much bigger the blogosphere actually is. How our little corner is a thousand times smaller than I ever could have imagined. I felt so small when I was at BlogHer. Our community felt small. I’m not quite sure what that means.

A couple of other things happened too. I watched Elizabeth with her best friend and I was struck, as the cracks in my heart deepened, by the fact that I don’t have a friend like that. I don’t have a friend who has walked with me through so many seasons of my life. I don’t have a friend who has known me for that long. Most of the friends I’ve ever felt close to are gone now. I could barely maintain a brief phone conversation with them today. I have no one in my life that knows me to my very core. And there is no one I know that well either. It feels like a gaping hole in my life, and there is absolutely no way to fill it. No one will ever be… enough.

Finally, there was a small mention on someone’s blog about getting together with blog friends and I thought, I will never do that. I will never spend a weekend away with women I know through blogging. It just won’t happen. I’m not close enough to anyone to do that, and even if I were, it would never come to pass. Maybe that woman was right, who wrote those things on my blog. Maybe I don’t have any real friends in the blogging world. Maybe it’s all just an elaborate facade. Maybe I need to get a real life.

Those things–the post and the responses it got, the things that were said, being among all those thousands of bloggers, seeing the physical proof of how large the blogosphere really is, and what a small percentage our community represents, witnessing a real, honest, true friendship, and being forced to recognize that I don’t have that, being forced to recognize what I actually have here, it kind of threw me into a tailspin. I honestly don’t think I’ve landed yet.

I’ve been making plans, because that is what I do when I get sent into a tailspin, I grasp desperately at something, anything, to ground me. When there is nothing in the present to hold on to, I grope desperately at the future. Except the future is only an illusion. It’s just smoke and mirrors, and I’m left with nothing in my hands but scratches.

I’ve made myself wait. I’ve held off on actually doing anything because I want the dust to settle and I want to get a handle on how I feel. The thing is, I might not know how I feel for a long time, so now I’m trying to decide how I can trust myself enough to make some decisions now, in the absence of accurate information. It’s hard to chose a direction when I’m not quite sure yet where I want to end up.

This posts makes almost no sense, but I’m going to press post anyway, because sometimes that is what we do.

Please forgive me.

Smaller, More Reachable Goals

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement on my last post. I realized as I was reading them that my post made it seemed like, at 155lbs, I was where I wanted to be. That isn’t actually the case, I want to be at 145 so I can wear all my old clothes, especially my size 8 pants. I was going to write a post about how I haven’t really reached my goal, and that I still have a ways to go, but then I stopped.

Because you know what? Fuck that. I did reach a goal. There was a reason I was focusing on 155 first–I knew that when I reached it I’d feel a lot better about myself, my clothes would fit better, and I wouldn’t feel so desperate to see the scale move. And I was right. I feel so much better in my skin. When I see myself in the mirror I don’t cringe. Sometimes I actually think, Damn, I look pretty good! I got myself some capris and tops for the St. Louis trip so I don’t have to wear my worn out, stained maternity clothes anymore. The bras I bought at the beginning of my pregnancy fit pretty well. I don’t feel the need to starve myself to see drastic weight loss. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m in a MUCH better place than I was when I started. Those 15 lbs made a HUGE difference and I worked hard to get them off, so I’m going to celebrate where I am, instead of just thinking about where I want to be. I’m glad I set that initial goal of 155lbs. I’m glad I was working toward that first, so when I got there I could take a moment to reflect on what I had done. If I were only focused on 145 and fitting into my size 8s, I’d probably feel pretty battered down right now, like I’d never cross the finish line. Instead, I feel proud of myself–and I should!–for making a real, measurable change to my body.

I’m glad I had this experience now, before I start really working toward bettering myself as a writer. If I set smaller, more reachable goals on that journey, I will set myself up for more celebration and less disappointment. Especially in the beginning, I want to make sure my goals are achievable, things that I KNOW I can do because only I stand in the way of not doing them. Signing up for a writing class was my first goal, and I already achieved that. Completing that class will be my second goal, along with a few other things that I’m working on now (and will talk more about soon). These are all things that I am in complete control of achieving. They don’t require anything outside of myself, like a certain number of page views or having submitted work accepted. I hope I can remember this lesson for at least the first two years; my goals should be about what I can control, otherwise I might start feeling hopeless or depressed. Otherwise I might give up.

I need to do this with some other things too, like paying down my credit card debt. I think I’ll make my first goal to get down to $4000, and then down to $2000. It’s hard to pay that thing off, and every time I reach a goal I should take a moment to appreciate what I’ve done. Maybe then it won’t seem so daunting.

I’m sure some other goals of mine could be restructured in this way. I’ll have to start doing this more.

Are you more successful when you create smaller, more reachable goals? Is there a goal you’re working toward now that might benefit from some restructuring?

In the Aftermath

I used to think that when I wrote a post that pissed people off that it was automatically my fault. That I fucked up in some way. Either my whole point of view was flawed, or my delivery was botched, or my supporting arguments were weak or SOMETHING was messed up, and it was my fault that people got angry. I guess I assumed that if I wrote well, no one would get hurt or upset. (Interestingly I felt the same toward other bloggers, that if *I* got upset reading a post then they had done something wrong. At least I was consistent.) Anyway, it took a lot of evolving for me as a person to understand that I was as much responsible for my own interpretation of what someone said as they were for writing it. Sometimes even more so. Eventually I was able to take that and realize that other people were as responsible for their interpretations of what I wrote, as I was for reading it.

The short version? It’s not always my fault when what I write pisses people off. (Just like it’s not always someone else’s fault when what they write pisses me off.)

I know, crazy right? I can’t tell you how long it took me to get to that place.

Of course sometimes it is my fault. There have been a few posts in particular that I know I fucked up on. The “When I am being a SAHM in the summer it doesn’t feel like a job” post (jeez, I still can’t believe I wrote that) comes immediately to mind, and there are others. I don’t think yesterday’s post was one of them (though in hindsight, I do wish I presented a few things differently–more kindly). I also don’t think some other posts that I’ve read that have inspired heated (and sometimes very hurtful) comments were wrong either. How can I tell the difference between when I got it wrong and when someone is bringing their own issues to the table (or just doesn’t agree with me and never will)? Well, there are a few ways.

One is the other comments. If there are a considerable amount of comments that agree with me, then I probably didn’t totally miss the boat. If other people understood my intent then I probably made it clear, or at least clear enough (I’m sure I could always make it more clear) and I’m probably not totally misguided in feeling that way. The second is how I feel about the piece as I read comments. If comments make me change my mind about what I believed or how I wrote about it, then I recognize I messed up something fundamentally. If clarifying comments help other people to better understand what I was trying to say–and we can come to an understanding of some kind in the comments section–then I know I faltered in my delivery. But if the comment section is just an endless back and forth, I know that someone either straight out disagrees or that their reaction to my words is about them, and not me.

I used to do that. All the time. I used to read a post about one thing and then my own pain and guilt and issues would twist the words into something else. Natural parenting stuff was a big trigger. I was so insecure in my own parenting that I felt other people writing with passion about their style of parenting (when it conflicted greatly with how I parent) was an attack (explicit or implicit) on my own way of doing things. I wrote a lot of comments coming from that place of insecurity and hurt. It sucks to look back at those responses, but I understand that I had to go through that to get where I am today. I’ve tried to offer reparation for my actions in those instances but some people couldn’t forgive me, and I get that. You can’t take back what you say and some people can’t forget.

I still notice that posts about blissful breastfeeding relationships chafe me in certain ways. When someone boasts that they could never have the bonding experience they had with their child without their wonderful breastfeeding relationship it makes me feel shitty, like I’m somehow less of a mom. But I’ve grown enough to know that they aren’t saying that to hurt me. They are saying that because it is their experience. In fact, there is every reason to believe I would have felt the same way if I had had a great breastfeeding experience. That is why it was so hard to let it go, because I believe I missed out on something that has no equivalent. I suffered a real loss, and it sucks, but that doesn’t mean other women shouldn’t be able to talk about it. That expectation is absurd, and frankly, unfair.

It took me a lot of years to get to that place. It’s still hard with some issues, to just let it go, but every encounter with words that my guilt and insecurity twist into something else I handle better. Recently a cousin posted an article to FB about how a new study shows that CIO damages infants, with some diatribe about how she hoped all parents would see it an know the error of their ways. In the past I would have felt an uncontrollable urge to defend my parenting, but I didn’t even click to read the article, or browse the comments or anything. I just walked away, because I knew the people supporting her there were not interested in hearing about my very positive experiences with CIO and because I knew I didn’t need to defend myself to her or anyone else. It made absolutely no sense to engage.

I am proud that I have gotten to that place. I don’t always stop, I don’t always resist the temptation to engage, but more times than not I do.

After a lot of long, hard, exhausting contemplation, I think I know why yesterday’s post inciting such a shit storm. It was a couple of things. #1 the tone. Obviously, I could have been nicer. A LOT nicer (I was not imply anything in that post, it was all VERY explicit). I could explain why I wrote it like I did but that doesn’t change the fact that I could have presented it in a much kinder way. #2 In my vitriolic introductory statement I didn’t make it clear that I not only meant bloggers who left without any explanation, but also bloggers who left abruptly and especially on the cusp of some major transition. I thought I made that clear later in the post but some people didn’t register that, so obviously I wasn’t clear enough. #3 I shouldn’t have included the final part about being bummed out that some bloggers I really love are gradually fading away, because some people thought I felt the same way about those bloggers as I felt about people who just abruptly fell off the earth right before some major change, with no explanation or warning.

Still, I realize that even if I had done those things, the angry people still would have come to comment (I’m still flabbergasted as to how they ended up there, as I have no reason to believe any of them still, or ever did, read me). It is clear now that there are some people that just absolutely do not agree with me on this issue. We couldn’t find a common ground. I thought a simple, “Hey I’m out,” final post is a reasonable expectation, but it was clear that for some people, even expecting that is absolutely too much.

I learned something really valuable in the comment section of that post, which is that some people have VERY different reasons for writing a blog and very different expectations of the relationship that are participating in with their readers and commenters. For some people, their blog is not a ongoing dialogue and their readers have no relationship to or with them whatsoever. That is NOT how I feel about my space, and I don’t think that is how most of the people that I follow feel about their spaces, but it’s valuable for me to know that some do. I think now, when someone stops blogging abruptly, I can better understand how they walked away–the whole blog experience means something fundamentally different to them than it does for me.

Finally, I’m left with some stinging words rattling around in my brain, about whether or not I take my blogging relationships too seriously or depend on them too much. I’ve always known that my IRL relationships are lacking. It’s not that I don’t have some great ones, but circumstances make it hard to connect. I’ve tried to make IRL friends that are more accessible but it’s so hard to find people I click with. I don’t know how to find more meaningful friendships, but maybe I need to step away from this community more, so things like a blogger leaving abruptly or another one slowly fading away don’t hurt so much. I may not have appreciated the way those ideas were expressed to me, but that doesn’t mean they are inherently wrong.

To sum up this novel-length post I will say this, thank you for those who came and voiced your thoughts, despite–or maybe because of–what was happening in the comment section. I really appreciated it.

And now, back to what the beginning of this post was about…

How do you explain when someone seems read something in your words that you didn’t intend? Do you ever feel like a writer’s words imply something they are not explicitly saying? How do you feel and what do you do when your words incite angry responses?