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?

Apart at the Seams Book Tour

I read the first two books (Life from Scratch and Measure of Love) in Melissa Ford’s series during the months after Prop 8 was struck down in California and I was trying to decide if I wanted to get married. I really appreciated the discussion of marriage and what it means to different people at different times in their lives and relationships, so I was excited to read the third installment–Apart at the Seams–and continue the discussion where it left off in the second book.

Knowing that Arianna never wants to get married, why do you think Ethan kept pushing the idea rather than compromising?

I wondered this myself as I was reading the book. I think, for some people, marriage is the default final step, and they don’t know how to define their relationship without the traditions involved with getting married. Making that commitment is almost the easier thing to do, because the steps are so well established, you hardly have to think for yourself what any of it even means to you; the expectation that you’ll get married allows you to avoid really considering what it even means. Without taking those next steps, a couple has to define their relationship for themselves–and others. That can be hard to do and can require a self-awareness, and an awareness of social customs and norms, that not everyone has. I think ultimately Ethan didn’t think he was asking Arianna for more than was his right–he couldn’t understand her desire not to get married and since he fell within society’s norms by wanting to get married, he may have even felt like he didn’t have to. Getting married was the next step and he wanted their commitment defined in ways that were easily established by marriage. I also wonder if Arianna’s inability to explain her aversion to marriage made him keep harping on teh subject. Perhaps he thought she would easily change her mind, since she couldn’t make him understand why she felt the way he did.

As a reader I felt distanced and came away with the impression that I only knew what Arianna wanted me to know. I wasn’t convinced that she knew herself, or possibly even trusted herself all that much. I questioned her motivation and felt she “settled,” which made me sad. I feel no one should settle. Do you feel she was settling?

I appreciate this question because I also came away from the book feeling like I didn’t really get to know, or understand, Arianna fully. I understood many aspects of her–her desire to produce creatively, her drive to make a name for herself in her industry, her need to feel financially secure, the ways in which she was drawn to Noah and felt nourished by her friendship with him–but I never felt like I understood her relationship with Ethan or why she seemed so sure she loved him and wanted to be with him. In the end I wanted her to get together with Noah, even though I recognized that their relationship wouldn’t be sustainable in in the long term (Noah didn’t seem like the type who would be supportive to a single mother of a small child), because I just didn’t understand what Ethan was bringing to the table that made him worth looking past the issues they were having (and it seemed, would continue to have). I also had the feeling that she was settling with Ethan, that she could have found someone who would have been a better fit for her. I understand the idea that opposites attract, and that ultimately Arianna believed they would be able to ground each other instead of holding each other back, but I just didn’t feel like she felt as passionately toward Ethan as he did toward her (or she did toward Noah, for that matter).

I identified with some details of Arianna’s daily life, life how she had to tidy up the kitchen because Ethan could not wash his cereal bowl, but he would complain about how she was always busying herself in the kitchen. Or how he was perfectly alright sitting in a living room full of scattered toys, as if they were non existent. My husband is a willing participant in doing the house chores, but he is still to appropriate my motto “do the small things now, so they do not reach big things status”. On the other hand, I admire Arianna’s ability to see the other’s possible point of view right away, I first explode, and then think about anything else. 🙂  What did you identify with, and what is something you will never be able to pull off?

I identified with many of the same things in the book. I cringed at the scene when Ethan chided her for busying herself in the kitchen when he hadn’t cleaned up after himself. I was actually really upset that she didn’t speak up and SAY SOMETHING to put him in his place (as I surely would have done). That aspect of their relationship really hit close to home for me and I wonder if it negatively colored the way I saw them (that dynamic is one of the most destructive in my own marriage). I also recognized that Arianna dealt with those scenarios–and many others–in ways that I never would. She was much more likely to internalize frustration and disappointment whereas I generally voice those feelings, sometimes without considering–or downright disregarding–consequences. I was careful to take note of how her method worked (or didn’t) for her and wondered if I would benefit from similarly bottling up feelings of resentment or confusion or sadness. In the end I think we both tend to veer too far to our own ends of the spectrum, and that Arianna would benefit from speaking her mind more, while I would benefit from sitting on things for a few days instead of blurting them out in the heat of the moment.

Does it bother you when a sequel requires reading other the other books in the series? I generally like to be able to jump in anywhere, but I felt that Apart At The Seams wouldn’t make much sense (in terms of Arianna’s and Rachel’s relationship) unless you have read the previous book(s).  Do you prefer series books that can stand on their own, or do you like the serialized aspect where you must read the books in order?

I really like series and I ALWAYS want to start with the first book. I could never skip books in a series, even if I had heard that later books are better than earlier installments. I agree that this book wouldn’t stand as well on it’s own as I expected, given it’s not actually a sequel but a parallel novel. There was much (maybe everything?) about Arianna and Rachel’s friendship that needed further explanation without knowledge of the first books. As someone who always reads previous installments first, this didn’t bother me, but I could understand how it would if you wanted to read this book without finishing the others first.

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.

Where I’ve Been

I’m sorry I was gone for so long. As Polly reminded me last week, I owe you all $20.

I didn’t think I’d stop writing for almost three weeks. I’ve never done that before. Usually the need to write is almost primal. But the past few weeks have been a perfect storm of epic shit and my hiatus ended up being a lot longer than I expected.

There were a lot of reasons I didn’t make it back when I thought I would, some of them complicated and personal, some of them mundane and logistical. Some of them I can write about and some of them I can’t.

That is one of the biggest reasons I stayed away. There was a lot going on and I couldn’t write about it. Not really. I have always been honest here–to a fault, really–and knowing that I couldn’t write everything at the forefront of my mind made it impossible to write anything at all. It’s still making it hard to write even now. There are few things I dislike as much as vague blogging and I loathe to be engaging in it right now. I just felt like I had to mention one of the main reasons I didn’t make it back for so long. This blogging thing can be complicated.

The truth is, these past few weeks I was a mess. A total emotional disaster. And I didn’t feel safe writing about it here, so I tried to weather the unrelenting storms without this space. It was strange, to work through so much without being able to process things through my words–and your responses–but I managed better than I thought I would. Mostly I just soldiered ahead, putting one foot in front of the other, pulling my car over when the sobbing rendered me unable to drive. I took steps to take care of myself–the most important of which was to keep exercising. I think that is the main reason I made it this far… I never missed a workout. There was one day, at the nadir of my mental and emotional shit storm, when all I wanted to do during Monito’s nap was curl up and pass out, but I made myself get on the elliptical and then I pushed myself through the 30 Day Shred and I swear to god it was like I was a new person afterward. The complete 180 I experienced emotionally was nothing short of miraculous and I will be remembering how good working out made me feel a lot this year when I’m tired and all I want to do is sleep.

It’s been really hard to write, logistically, as well. I’ve been back at work for two weeks, and even though our students didn’t start until last Monday, I made myself wake up at 5:35am every day the week before (when we had to be at work for professional development and staff days) to practice getting to school for my new 7am class. This new, earlier wake up time requires a new, earlier bedtime. On school nights I’m making myself get into bed around 10pm so I can be asleep by 10:30pm. This is only an hour earlier than I used to go to bed, but that hour was one of the few I had for me-related activities, like writing. Sacrificing that “me” time for sleep is going to make writing really difficult. I’m still not quite sure how I’m going to find the time now that I need to be in bed only an hour after Osita usually falls asleep. I’m can’t even seem to set aside time to fold the laundry; writing and editing a blog post is all but impossible.

There were other things happening as well, that made it made it hard to take time for myself. Monito got two new teeth and finally started crawling. The transition to me being away in the mornings has been hard on Osita, and Mi.Vita as well. There has been a lot of random shit I need to do at my managing editor position with the magazine. And of course, preparing for the first week of school. To say I have been busy would be an understatement.

I hoping things will be calming down now. I really want to get my new space up and running. I’m excited to write there. At the same time I’m really sad to walk away from this space. I never thought I’d do it, and a part of me can’t really believe that I will. When I first decided to start writing under a new name and in a new space, I assumed I’d continuing posting here when it felt necessary to do so, but the past few weeks have made it clear to me that I need to shut this door behind me when I go. I’ll leave this blog up–that is the plan for now–but as soon as my new space is ready for me, I’ll be writing, exclusively, there.

It’s hard to imagine walking away from this space indefinitely, but I do think it’s time to move on. I’ve never been good at transitions and I’m sure this will be hard for me, but I also know it is, ultimately, the right move. I hope you all agree.

{I want to thank you all for your kind words upon my return. Knowing that I was missed while I was away… well it means more than I can say. And knowing that so many of you will keep reading me even after I move… well it gives me the courage to actually take these steps. Thank you.}

Is this thing on?

This is my 1400th post.

Today is my 5 year blogversary.

And I am excited (and scared) to announce that I’m moving on from this space.

 

I started this blog five years ago because I was lost and hurting and didn’t know where to turn.

I kept writing because this space helped me process all. the. things. and because the kindness, support and understanding I received here was unmatched in my real life.

Rereading that first post is like touching a shadow of my former self. I was in so much pain back then and I felt so incredibly alone. Paralyzed by anxiety and fear, I tried to sort through the grief of losing my first pregnancy, the physical and emotional destruction of the ectopic and the insanity-inducing uncertainty of ever becoming a mother. There were few people in my life I could turn to–I didn’t know where to go with the raw hurt and bitter tears that seemed to spill endlessly from me.

So I created this blog and I started to write.

And I never stopped.

This blog has seen me through the most transformative five years of my adult life. This space–and all of you–has seen me through healing after my loss, almost debilitating anxiety during my first pregnancy, manic emotional oscillation throughout my first years as a mother, frustration and confusion as I TTCed for a second time, heartache in the aftermath of our infertility diagnoses, elation over our unexpected second pregnancy and the difficult transition to a family of four. It has sheltered me from the storms of my marital problems, weathered the challenges of raising a spirited little girl, and provided safe harbor when the transition to motherhood left me adrift at sea.

This space has given me so many things, but the gift I most cherish is a renewed belief in myself as a writer. I grew up with pen and journal in hand, but somewhere along the way I lost sight of that part of myself. I think I believed it could never lead to anything, and therefore shouldn’t be pursued, so I set it aside. I didn’t realize how much of myself I left behind when I stopped writing. Then the words poured out in this space, and I found it impossible to contain them.

In the weeks after attending the BlogHer conference I promised myself I would pursue the part of me that I set aside so long ago. I thought long and hard about what that pursuit might look like, and after much soul searching and deliberation I decided on a path.

It is clear to me that I will never feel comfortable writing online under my real name. The implications to my personal and professional life are too great–I don’t trust the emotional maturity of the middle schoolers I teach or the high schoolers they become (and frankly, I don’t trust their parents much either). It’s also clear that I can’t keep writing in two places at once–it’s impossible to dedicate myself to two space, and two different voices, while working full time and parenting two children.

It was with gratitude and grief that I made the difficult decision to stop writing here so I could open a new space–under a new nom de plum–and focus on the next step of my writing journey, and my life.

The reality is my new space will be much like this one. It will be me, writing about my life. The only difference will be in how I write about it. The new space will be honest, sometimes brutally so–it will absolutely chronicle my authentic journey through this life that I’m so lucky live–but it will also reflect intentional choices in the ways I experience that journey. The view will be the same, but the lens will be slightly different.

In this space I have bared my soul with absolutely no filter. I put myself out there, sometimes festering and raw, and in the open air of this space I was healed. But that unfiltered honesty hasn’t been without consequences and I’m learning, as I get older, that not everything needs to be said, and if it does, there are better–and worse–ways to say it. As a wise friend recently reminded me, you can’t blog in a vacuum. I’ve been doing that–or attempting as much–for far too long. It’s time to grow up and learn my lessons.

This space has shown me who I am. My new space will show me who I want to be.

In most ways I’m excited for this new journey. I’m ready for the change and I look forward to what my new space will be. I’m eager to start fresh, with all the knowledge I’ve gained from five years of stumbling around the blogosphere. My only regret is the readers I’m sure to lose in the move. I hope you all will come with me, but I know some of you will not. Whatever your choice, please know that you were cherished here, those of you who commented and those of you who simply read my words.

There may be those who see this as a departure from the community, and while it’s true that my new blog won’t center around infertility or loss, both will always be themes in my writing because they have fundamentally changed the way I see the world. I don’t see myself as leaving–I will continue reading and commenting on all the blogs I did before. For me it’s more like I’m moving to a new house, on a new street; I’m not trying to flee the neighborhood.

I wanted to have my new space up and running for this post so I could link to it and send you there, but it’s been a truly insane last couple of weeks and that didn’t happen. I’ll continue posting here throughout next week–after three weeks of radio silence I have LOTS to say–and hopefully by the following Monday I’ll be able to give you all my new address and show you around my new digs.

In the meantime I’ll still be reading and commenting–and writing here again. It’s good to be back.

I am a douchecanoe

I know I said I was taking a break, and I am. But I felt like an asshat for the abrupt and obnoxiously vague tone of that post. I try not to be a douchecanoe, so I wanted to rectify that.

The truth is, I’m going through some personal shit. But it will all work itself out in the end. August is a really stressful month for me. I have a little break down every year around this time and I usually step away from my blog while I do it. I always come back feeling better. That is what is going on here. All will be well soon.

{I probably wouldn’t have noticed that I always have a break down around this time if it weren’t for the blog breaks, so I appreciate, yet again, the awareness this space provides.}

Anyway, I really am okay. Just sorting through some stuff. Letting some stuff sort itself out. Taking some time away from writing to let things run their course without sharing and immortalizing them. It’s for everyone’s best. I promise.

But I wanted to pop on here and clarify a bit, because it was an asshole thing to do, putting that up. I’m not proud of that.

And I wanted to thank you all for your kind, warm, supportive, wonderful words. I really am so grateful to have you all in my life. Truly. You lifted me up today, and I appreciate it more than I can say.

{I bet you $20 bucks I’ll be back in a week. I can never stay away long. I miss you all too much. 😉 }