Sunday Brain Dump

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This month, I’m going to use Sundays as brain dumb days. I don’t even have the energy to come up with a marginally clever title.  If I find something of importance or value to say, I will. If I don’t, that’s fine, too. Sometimes it’s nice to just ramble.

I’m 22 weeks pregnant right now and all the pains I remember from my first pregnancy are making a violent return. Round ligament pain and early pelvic separation are no joke. I can’t even put on yoga pants without significant struggle.

I was reminded by a very good friend today to dream big. I’m going to record a Christmas album…and as it turns out, I have a lot of friends who I can turn to for advice and help in that arena.

One of my friends touched on it earlier this week, but I think part of the reason I’m okay with starting the Christmas season early is that the world (and particularly the States, recently) could use a little more joy and a lot less tragedy, lies, and disappointment.

I’m going to try to talk my husband into setting up one of our pianos (yes, we have more than one. It’s kind of insane). I want to start playing again. And what better time than now? Especially with Christmas looming and all my favorite music about to be on blast for the next several weeks.

Despite all that, Fall is officially here which means my baking season has begun. I loves me some dark liquors and I really enjoy baking with them. Fall flavors lend themselves well to dark liquors (especially bourbon, which I’m more than partial to). I have some staples that I make every year, but I try to come up with something next every year. I did a dark caramel drizzle on some gingerbread and bourbon cupcakes yesterday. That was a solid win. I get to make one of my favorite pies this weekend to share with some girl friends (except that my crusts are still the bane of my existence so I’m going to turn it into a crisp instead).

So it seems I have nothing significant to say this evening. And that’s okay. But it means it’s time to end the rambling and turn my attention toward the Broncos v. Raiders game. #timetoride y’all!

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On needing to feel desirable….

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Today is November 1 which means it’s the first day of #NaBloPoMo, a writing challenge I’ve attempted several times in the past and am hoping to be more successful at this year. It helps that I’m joined by two women who are both good friends and excellent writers. I encourage you to read their work as well!

I’ll be (mostly) following the prompts from BlogHer. Today’s prompt wasn’t all that exciting to me: When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”  I’ve written about self-care before. It’s not new territory for me. I sometimes feel like I’m whining when I write about it. 

But maybe there are parts of it that are new territory.

A lot of times when I think about self-care (especially as regards my mental health), I consider it a solo activity. I like to spend time by myself. I enjoy being alone. But as a wife and mother (mostly as a mother), taking care of myself means requiring the help of other people. I need babysitters or I need my husband to be home so I can leave the house. Oddly enough, it’s frowned upon to leave a two-year-old on her own for four hours. But it’s not just my husband’s help I need. He provides so much for me and for our family. He “gets” that I need to be not-Mommy for a few hours a week in order to even adequately care for our marriage and family. It’s something I deeply appreciate and all-too-often take for granted (that’s a whoooooole other blog post).

I think I’m getting to a point where I need the rest of the world to cut me some damn slack when it comes to self-care. Okay, not the rest of *the* world, but certainly the rest of *my* world. Motherhood is a deeply sacrificial experience. Every time I turn around, I feel like I’ve given up something else, some other piece of myself, in order to be a mother. And just when I think I have nothing left to give, someone or something finds a piece of me I forgot about or didn’t know I had and that gets taken away too.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to be angry about that. And I swear on everything I (still) own, I will lose it if even one person tells me, “Yeah, well, you chose to become a mother!” Screw that noise. I’m well aware of the choice that I made. We should all be very aware of our choices. I think I’m angry because I’m sitting her, waiting for the moment when someone or something decides am worth sacrificing something for. I had absolutely no idea the concept of sacrifice until I became a mother. I thought I knew. I’ve given up a lot in my life. I’ve had to choose between two very difficult paths a number of times. It’s not a new concept. It’s a far deeper concept now.

So when I get asked to chip away just a little more of my time or my energy or my talent for this thing or that event or whatever it is that needs my attention, I start to ask myself, “When will I get a little in return?” Not in smiles and hugs from my daughter. Not in kisses and kind words from my husband. I get those in spades. Those are the things that keep me from lighting my own fuse and completely blowing up.

I’m waiting for the world to offer up some small gesture to show me that I matter, that my time is valuable, that my presence is desired, that my opinions count.

On losing steam…

It’s been easily a month since I’ve written. I used to have a goal of writing something once a week. And not just nonsense…I was supposed to be writing something worthwhile.

I just don’t feel like I have much to say lately. It’s incredibly frustrating. I feel stuck. I’m not sure how or why, but I don’t like it. I spend my time fiddling on my phone or binging on Netflix and Hulu. I don’t even read all that often anymore. It’s depressing.

I’ve heard that many things in life are like breastfeeding. The more you do it, the better you get. Demand is based on supply. So maybe if I read more or wrote intentionally more often, I’d have both the desire and ability to do so.

I’m also kind of tired of not working. I wish it were easier to find a part-time or temporary telecommuting job. I’m very selfish with the time I have with my daughter. I don’t want to ignore her, but I also wish that I could contribute to our home without actually leaving it. I want to be able to sit with my laptop for a few hours a day and just use my adult brain while Godzilla plays with her blocks and her kitchen toys.

I’m just lacking motivation right now. In a perfect world, someone would just drop work into my lap and give me money to complete it. Of course, that’s not a reasonable way to approach life. I know that. I’m not an idiot (most days). But I think we all wish from time to time that we could have what we want without having to do all the legwork ourselves.

I need to be more proactive. Hell, I need to be more active.

On facing down the future…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately. Maybe more than I should. I tend to do it a lot. I’m the person that plans so far in advance that I often forget to stop and enjoy what I’m doing right now. It’s been a point of contention in various relationships and friendships throughout my life.

I digress.

I’ve been out of the corporate game for three years now (Facebook has been reminding me all week) and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what would happen if I ever wanted or needed to rejoin the work-force. I loved working. I was good at working. It helped that I loved my job and was as appreciated as I was good at it. But now that I have a huge gap in my resume, I have to think about how, exactly, I’ll make myself a desireable candidate once again. The one thing I keep coming back to is…grad school. I’m going to have to get my Master’s.

It’s actually exciting to think about. My husband has recently started his undergraduate work as he starts to think about his future, post-Navy. As much as my undergraduate experience was whacky and stressful, I sometimes really miss being in school. (As an aside: I wonder if that’s a family tic, loving being a post-graduate student? We all seem to really enjoy it, especially my brother, whom I’m convinced is just going to be professional student for the rest of his life.)

But then I think: what will happen to the stay-at-home-mom that I’ll have become? As much as I try to make sure that facet of me doesn’t consume every other part of me right now, I worry that if I go back to work, the working girl facet will consume everything. I worry about missing field days and field trips. I worry about not being home when my kids get home. I worry about having to work overtime and missing games or concerts or meets. I worry about babies getting sick and not having the time to take off to care for them. I worry about not being able to take quality vacations as a family.

I know that parents do it all the time. In fact, I’d wager to say the majority of parents do it. It’s a select few that are able to stay at home and be 100% invested in their child’s life from sun up to sun down. I consider myself extrememly lucky to be among the even fewer that are able to stay at home by choice. But it doesn’t stop me from worrying about how I will do it. I’ve long said: “You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.” And I believe that. It’s just that, now that the statement applies to me, it makes me angry. It sort of makes me regret ever saying it to any other mother struggling with this very issue. It’s another crappy platitude in the motherhood universe that doesn’t really help the situation at hand. So, apologies to the many women I’ve said this to in an attempt to help you come to terms with your family situations.

However, I also don’t think any of that should stop me from pursuing my educational goals. I still think I should get my Master’s. I still think I’m going to re-enter the workforce at some point in the next 5-8 years. I still think I need to make myself as valuable and as marketable as possible.

And I kind of think everything else is a bridge my family and I will cross when we get to it.

On not feeling the love…

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One of the most frustrating feelings for a writer is wanting to write, but not knowing what to write about. Even more frustrating is what I’ve been experiencing lately: not caring about what I write about.

All the things on which I’d normally have plenty to say – motherhood, politics, religion – it’s all just gotten too…much for me recently. There are too many opinions and FAR too much judgment. Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive to it these days. I’m just exhausted. I try to invest myself in the things I enjoy or the things I tend to be well-versed in, but I keep finding myself annoyed or iritated every time I do.

I want to engage. I really do. When I see things that are interesting or thought-provoking, I want to share the information. When I see things that are odd or ill-informed, I want to add my two cents. When I see things that are rage-inducing or just plain stupid, I want to call it out.

But I’m tired.

I’m tired of being shamed for the things I do, say, think, enjoy, or believe. I’m tired of the sideways glances when I’m asked my opinion or position. I’m tired of everyone finding something to be pissed off at or offended by.

Sometimes I want to be the person that just says whatever the hell she’s thinking with no regard for anyone else’s feelings. But when it comes to certain topics, that’s just not useful and only leads to more contention and people believing certain stereotypes about “people like me.” I get angry enough that I have to walk away from conversations because I know it’s the most healthy thing to do…for all parties involved.

I’m ready to all but call in quits on the social media front. I get too upset and annoyed far too often. I want to write a huge blog, laying out where I stand on this topic or that and just be done with it.

But, of course, that’s not realistic. Not for me. I could walk away for a while (I do it a couple times a year), but I always come back. It’s where I find new topics or interesting perspectives.

So here’s what I do know: I’m tired of being mom-shamed, politi-shamed, religi-shamed, whatever-shamed. I’m sick to death of having my thunder stolen or having my thoughts and talents ripped out from under me, only to be either lambasted or paraded around like their someone else’s. I’m really tired of feeling like I’m not allowed to be angry about any of that.

On my heart songs…

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Truth. 

As someone whose emotions are heavily connected to music, I kind of hate being asked what my favorite song is. I always have several follow up questions: which genre? Male or female? Solo, duo, or group? What season? Which decade? Which genre from which decade? Seriously…there are way too many options. But alas…today’s topic is my five favorite songs. I reserve the right to change these at any time. In fact, they’ll probably change before I’m done writing this.

  1. Company by Amy Courts. Okay, this one probably won’t ever leave the Top Five for many reasons. The song is beautifully crafted. She has the dreamiest voice. I know when and why this was written. She’s my super BFF. I can provide more reasons if you need, but I think those should be enough to warrant a listen. And then you should buy any/all of her albums. Because they’re all that good.
  2. Hold Me Now by Jennifer Knapp. There simply has not been an artist whose music has reached me the way hers has. Jennifer will always be a master musician in my mind. Her lyrics consistenly speak truth into my life. I always find myself busting out her early stuff at just the right time. But this song? Oh, this song could be on repeat forever and ever and I’d never tire of it. The woman is a godsend.
  3. In The Mood by Glenn Miller. I can’t remember a time I didn’t love this song! If I’m feeling crummy, I listen to this to feel better. If I’m feeling especially giddy, this is what I play to keep the good times rolling. But beyond that, it’s THE song that my dad and I will always dance to no matter where we are or what we’re doing. We will drop everything and dance. Seriously, if this song came on in the middle of Home Depot, we’d start dancing (actually, that would be pretty awesome. Those floors would make for some killer spins). It’s “our song” for sure.

To be honest, I’ve been sitting here for some time now trying to think of two other songs to put on this list. I can’t come up with any more. So those are my three favorite songs. Well, except that I could write an entirely different post on Christmas songs alone. I’m going to leave that alone for now though. It would get complicated (again, with the genres and decades and what not).

On overcoming the impossible…

When it comes to my proudest moment over the last thrity-five years, well, it’s hard to choose. Not because there are an overwhelming number of moments to choose from, but because I’m not sure any of them are really all the big of a deal. I mean, personally, they are. But when I look at them in the face of other people’s accomplishments in the same areas, they seem to pale. And that really seems insane to think, let alone say. I mean, they’re MY accomplishments so in the context of my life, they are kind of a big deal.

Anyway, there are three moments in my (adult) life that I would consider my proudest, all of them for different reasons. So in chronological order, here are my moments.

December 2010 – I *finally* graduated from college. I started college, officially, in the fall of 1999 at a small Christian college in northern Minnesota. To say that was the worst year of my life would be an understatement. But I met my best friend there, which makes up for almost all the sh*t I endured that year. I was supposed to transfer to a state university the following year, but was so miserable that I ended up dropping out, moving home, and going back to working at McDonald’s (my high school job). I was a real winner.

I took a year off then enrolled at Red Rocks Community College and started taking basic required courses. I got tied up in some crazy antics and ended up dropping out (again) after a few semesters. I took a ton of time off from school and got a full-time job at a grown-up office in the technology center of my hometown. That’s where I met another of my best friends. She, in no uncertain terms, told me to “get off my ass and do something with my life!”

So in 2006-ish, I enrolled at Metro State University and finally started buckling down on my education. I worked HARD. I was working full-time and going to school slightly more than part-time. And then I realized I didn’t like how I was being taught my major (English Writing) at Metro, so I transferred myself to the University of Colorado – Denver. Things really started ramping up at that point. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, because I was hellbent on getting my degree by the time I was 30.

I was 30 years and 7 months old when I walked across that stage in red satin pumps and finally took my diploma.

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My dad and me, a few minutes before I got my diploma

September 2012 – I completed my first distance race. 2012 was a weird year for me. Mostly due to the fact that my divorce finalized early that year. It certainly wasn’t how I expected my life to go. But it’s what happened.

Sometime in the spring, I threw myself headlong into running. I’d attempted to run consistently in the past, but always just gave up. All previous attempts always included a race as a goal. So this time, I just decided to learn how to run. No end game. Just running. And run, I did. Then, for no reason whatsoever, I signed up for a half marathon. I’m not sure why, to be honest. I’d never run more than a 10k, so this was way out of my comfort zone.

Running became my therapy. I ran every single day, even on the weekends. I loved it! I listened to hymns while I ran, which ended up being a bit of a life saver for me. I was able to escape from whatever pain my heart was feeling and relax into a very safe space. I stopped crying so much. I stopped drinking so much. I stopped eating cupcakes so often. I started running for the pure joy of it.

I ran my first half marathon with one of my best friends. She helped me through the training and the race in more ways that I can describe. I hurt my knee pretty badly at mile six of the race. By mile eight I could barely run more than a couple yards without stopping to walk. She taught me how to move through pain, how to focus on what feels good and what feels strong, and then, a mile before the finish line, she told me I had to run the last mile, because “you are about to cross the finish line and become an elite runner. You cannot walk into that club! You have to run!” So I ran. And it hurt. But I’m an elite runner now. All because of a race I had no intetion of signing up for.

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We finished! 3:00:59 was my official time. 

December 2014 – I gave birth to our daughter. I’ve never written down my birth story before, so that’s what this is going to serve as. December 11, the sailor and I had tickets to see the Christmas tree lighting at the White House. If you know me, you know how exciting that sentence is for me. But alas…I was two weeks out from my due date, my feet had begun swelling, and my lower back would start hurting if I stood for longer than about five minutes…and we had standing-room-only tickets. We decided to stay home and watch Thursday night television. The Taste was on and, boy howdy, do I love a good food porn program! So we hunkered down for the evening.

At 8:50pm, I got up to pee and laid back down, covered in a warm blankie and my puppies. Not two seconds later, I had to pee again. The final weeks of pregnancy are just a constant trip between the bathroom and the bed/couch. This time, I was definitely not peeing. I yelled to the sailor, “Hey, can you call Stacy (our doula)? I’m pretty sure my water just broke!” “Um, what?!” “Yeah…f**king call her, please!”

There we were, in our powder room, me with my pants around my ankles, him on the phone with our doula while smelling my pants to ensure it was, in fact, water (the man is a saint). He helped me get dressed and into bed at the advice of Stacy. He was calm and chipper which, I learned later, was also at the advice of Stacy because my water broke before contractions started and Godzilla had stopped moving…I was in for a long, painful labor and she did not want me to know that (she’s a smartie, that one).

I got in bed, drinking orange juice and watching Netflix,  but was too antsy and bored, so I got up and started wrapping Christmas presents for family and thank you gifts for Stacy, our midwife, and our nurses. The sailor ran to Walmart to grab some fluffy towels and snacks. He wasn’t entirely thrilled when he came home to find me out of bed, waddling up and down the stairs, doing chores. So back to bed I went.

By 2:30am on December 12, Godzilla hadn’t moved but once, so we grabbed our coats, got in the car and headed to the hospital, stopping once for me to barf out the window. We got to the hospital around 3:00am and the sailor dropped me off at the ER and left to park the car (as an aside: can hospitals please get it together and offer some kind of fricking valet service so women in labor don’t have to be left to their own devices while their partners park the damn car?!). I was fully in labor by then and all the pain was in my thighs, an excruciating experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I was determined to walk myself up to L&D, but another contraction nearly took me to my knees and I was wheeled up to my room.

The sailor ran up a few minutes later and Stacy came screaming in about ten minutes after that. It was a whirlwind from there. The nurses had to ask me all my intake questions, draw blood, and set my hep-lock in between contractions. It was awful and hilarious. Stacy is a huge fan of staying in motion while laboring and as much as I wanted to walk around, the pain in my legs was too much and I had to sit or lay down. I threw up one more time (making me glad I didn’t actually follow through with my threats to eat nachos and pizza for dinner) and demanded that I get my labor gown on. I’d bought it special for this occasion with my best friend who’d given birth just five days earlier. The nurses thought I was nuts, but the sailor and Stacy looked at them and basically said, “If you want her to get this baby out, let her put the damn gown on.”

My midwife, who has since become one of my dear friends, kept doing horrible things to me like checking how dilated I was and telling me she could feel Godzilla’s head. Each time, despite causing me intense pain, she made me laugh. “Okay, this is gonna hurt…like, REALLY hurt. You can swear at me if you want.” I didn’t. Not yet anyway. She and Stacy just kept massaging my legs until finally, at 6:02am, Morgan said, “Ready to push?” I looked at Stacy and said, “I don’t know how!” Turns out, the human body is capable of doing some pretty weird stuff.

I remember getting scared at one point. I looked up at the sailor and at Stacy and just said, “I can’t.” They told me I could, because I was. A few pushes later, at 6:40am, Godzilla made her epic and very loud entrance into the world! The sailor caught her and got to cut her cord and bathe her for the first time. And then I swore at Morgan. I am in no way kidding when I say that getting stitched up after child birth is a pain unlike any other. I’d very much rather give birth again than have to do that. She laughed, said she was sorry, and just kept on stitching.

I never got to listen to the labor playlist I’d worked so hard on. I never got to use the whirlpool labor tub at the hospital. I didn’t get to watch football while I labored. I didn’t end up wanting a beer immediately after I gave birth. Everything was so different than I expected it to be, so different than it biologically should have been. Everything was so perfect.

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Godzilla lives! 

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So there you have it. The proudest moments of my adult life, to date.