First Birthday Without Sharon

We haven’t had a major holiday since Sharon passed away, so I’ll count my birthday as the first, although Reed’s birthday did sting.

It was on my mind a LOT that day (my birthday) but I was okay until yesterday. Then it just hurt so much and felt so heavy I kinda wanted to curl up in a ball. But laying down in the middle of the day isn’t really my thing so I just cried in my car in a Jewel parking lot before returning our Red Box movies.

I’m thinking about trauma a lot lately as I process this and I’m reading Thank You for Your Service which also talks a lot about trauma. Major trauma. And they talk about this thing called habituation which is where soldiers will talk about their experiences until the experience loses it’s power over them. I could see that working. They do it in a group of people with similar stories.

I’ve learned that trauma is feeling stuck and having a lack of power and that’s how I feel. Certain things are engraved in my mind and I just keep coming back to them and it doesn’t feel good. I don’t know how to habituate this, to make it have less power. And things I thought I was getting better at, I’m not. Like staying home alone. I was home alone last night and just stood in the kitchen eating dinner, then I went out. I was  so uncomfortable. But just as recently the summer I was okay. A little uneasy but I could do it and not be weird. I’m weird again. I think I was just overwhelmed. It’s dark out now, it was just my birthday and it’s hard to believe that this is reality.

Otherwise I was having a really good day. So appreciative of everything I have, my kids, Josh, our family, friends, community, health, work, opportunities and of course I still am. But sometimes that gratitude can sail me past thinking about what hurts and other times it just isn’t enough and I have to let all this pass.

I keep saying how do people do this? But hello, I am the people. And I know how they do it, just like I do. Wake up, get dressed, bawl a little on the way to work, at work or in parking lot somewhere. Try not to get a headache. Then get on with it, the living, this life, all the people and things that fill your heart. Repeat.

 

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How Having Kids Changed Me

I was reading some articles about parenting and happiness and how the data doesn’t really say if parenting makes people happier or not. People have positive views of having their kids but the daily grind can be a little miserable at times. Makes sense.

If you were to ask me, I’m definitely happier  as a mom, but I think it’s more correlation rather than causation. Which doesn’t help the data. Becoming a mom changed me as a person. I become way more productive. Six months after Caleb was born, I was running and ran a half marathon a year and half later. I lost weight, didn’t go back to smoking, applied for promotions at work, joined Toastmasters, spoke at a manager’s meeting for work, which was about 100 people (now we do all do that-no sweat!) volunteered, bought a house, THEN had ANOTHER baby. Hacha!

So why didn’t I do those things before when I had ample time and no commitments? I wouldn’t say I was a lazy person, but you could, haha. I think the key missing element was urgency. When my time and resources were completely my own, I didn’t put much thought into, gee, where is my life going? Or maybe subconsciously I felt like there was always another day.

But parenting is all encompassing, as it should be. What used to be a whole day to workout or write a blog, becomes a half hour to put down your phone and get something done. Time is a hot commodity. And yes, it does get a little tiring trying to get so much done in the margins of the day. Like reading on lunch, before work, making phone calls in my car before heading home from work, (because who can talk on the phone at home!) , trying to hold a plank with a baby crawling under my shaky ab bridge, or making sure the kitchen doesn’t get splattered with peas while cooking brussel sprouts.

And I’m just thinking, look at me working out most days and eating brussel sprouts! Even today I’m 20 lbs lighter than from before I was pregnant. I don’t know if kids make people happier but for me, I became a different person. A person that I think makes a good mother and I’ll always have my kids to thank for that.

 

 

 

Beachbody On Demand Review

I absolutely love this service! After dropping my gym membership I was relieved but overwhelmed with the idea of figuring out a manageable consistent workout program. I have DVDs and of course there’s countless Youtube videos and channels. But what I really needed was structure and a way to push myself without overdoing it. I consider myself semi-athletic, at least at heart, haha. But I have issue with what I call body mechanics. My knees are super creaky and don’t support a lot of body weight, my feet are pretty flat and tend to to have a lot of pain and it’s always hard to know what will feel okay and what will cause major discomfort.

At the gym I was a cardio bunny, always on the elliptical, then the treadmill if I got bored and the stair master if I was feeling adventurous. 30-45 minutes, stretch, go home. During my whole career as a gym member, I never got comfortable with using weights. Even there I didn’t have that much needed structure or the inclination to put together one of my own. Youtube videos. I wanted to do something fun and started looking up CIZE with ShaunT and was like, well if I want that I should just buy the streaming.

Two weeks later and I’m on my second program. I started with Clean Week with Megan Davies. These workouts were super doable for me and I was feeling pretty confident. Finished the 7 days in 10. I don’t plan rest days, just take them when the schedule doesn’t give me time to workout which isn’t too often.

Now I’m on 21 Day Fix. The first day was pretty intimidating because the intervals went from 30 seconds on Clean Week to a full minute. Hello cardio! I’m on day five and my glutes hurt. But what’s great about having a structure is that if one thing hurts from the day before, you’re going to work something different the next day. Fabulous! There’s no fatigue. I really feel compelled to workout most days because it’s only 30 minutes and I can take my laptop anywhere in the house. I do most workouts barefoot but will slip on gym shoes if I need the support.

It’s interesting to think how quitting the gym has made me exercise more. By finally being done with it, there’s no “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow,” mantra. It’s today or not at all. And it’s awesome not have to take the kids anywhere. TV for Caleb, Reed in a high chair (with puffs of course) and I’m all set!

My fitness journey has changed. I started with home workouts, then the gym, then running and races, back to the gym, now back at home. My final take away: the best kind of workout is the one you will do!

 

Sharon Time. Just to Say Her Name Breaks My Heart.

I like to be a good patient, but I feel like I made really made my therapist work the last time we were together. I didn’t have an agenda, so the conversation would get a little off topic, but eventually we got to the heart of the matter: I’m sad.

But not just your garden variety blues. I am sitting, on this dark maroon leather (?) sofa and I am bawling my eyes out. Like I want to do every single day, but can’t. She’s trying to get to the bottom of it.

“What are you telling yourself about this loss?”

“I don’t know.”

“What does it mean to you?”

“I don’t know.”

She tries to start sentences for me where I can fill in the blank and my only response is to sob uncontrollably. I have no words. And when I can think of some, they aren’t new or original. I am in shock. I am overwhelmed. I am tired.

For someone that has a vocabulary app on her phone, learns new words for fun, claims to be some sort of writer, it’s a little embarrassing that I can’t better articulate how I am feeling. That I haven’t dug into this more. But really, that would be like digging a hole when you neck deep in quicksand. Sometimes it’s just better not to know.

She goes with overwhelmed. I tell her how I think about it all the time.

“Do you want to not think about it?”

“I don’t know.”

I suppose there are medications that can eliminate excessive thoughts.

“But I know you don’t want to try meds.” We covered this is in our first session. I always figured myself one to avoid pain at all costs but for some reason, I am curious and want to stay present with this. I’m not even self medicating with food or alcohol. I stopped drinking alone (life achievements!) because it was just too easy to have glass of wine or two, go to bed and not think about what’s painful.

I’m still not thinking about what’s painful, incessantly. I’m using CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) to manage my grief and grief related anxiety by only wallowing for one hour a day. 9:30-10-30 pm is my time, to think, wonder, love, regret, write and just whatever else this grief needs to work itself out that involves my face getting puffy and ugly crying.

All other times of the day, on my way to/from work, in the bathroom, walking through the park, sitting in the library reading Walt Whitman poems about death, (WHY?) I am to STOP these emotions from overtaking me. You have to literally say STOP. It helps to think of a stop sign. This creates new neural pathways. I know this from all the self help books that I half read through the years.

Lori is impressed that I use the term compartmentalize. There’s a big word! I used to do this on my way to work. Fresh cup of coffee, crisp early day, all kinds of new possibilities and I am crying my head off en route. It’s healthy to have a good cry, but I’d rather sleep afterwards than have to order truckloads of chicken burritos. The flow feels unnatural to me.

My next mission is going to a grief support group. Once again, I’ll do my best to be “good” and hopefully I can have my stuff together and not make anyone more sad, if that’s possible.

Until next time,

Christina

 

 

 

Just a Thursday

There is no more boring place in the world than an oral surgeon’s office. With home improvement TV shows humming in the background it’s like the waiting room for eternity. Endless and painfully void of any interesting stimuli. Unless, I suppose, you’re an actual patient. Who signed a waiver that you may have your jaw broken. All the action is on the other side of that door. It’s a nice office for the thousands paid to be here, but the bathroom blind is shabby and I saw a huge black ant in the hall. The building is dated. But I suppose we are paying for medical expertise rather than edifice aesthetic. I’ve also paid thousands to my own personal dentist and now his lobby looks like a singles bar and he has vibrating dental chairs, free chapsticks and a Keurig.

I brought my laptop,  and all the books and journals I could physically carry to keep me entertained for the next five hours. Josh kept telling me how there’s a lot of shopping but a day without work or kids, I’d rather write and read. It’s a working day off. I have a couple assignments with a local publication and I started working on my prison book collection project. I also didn’t get to sleep in but I took the opportunity to have coffee on the porch and think about the day before, it seems, like anyone else is awake. Which is priceless.

I reflected on something I think about often which is how this, right now, is probably the hardest I will ever work in my life. Full time job, two young kids and trying to have some sort of career that I have to build from scratch. While doing all the mundane time consuming things that occupy a life, like making sure there are clean spoons and underwear.

And the pressure. Real or imagined. The constant managing of the tension. Knowing when to let go and when to grow. When to relax, and when to do what you need to do even when you don’t feel like it. It’s all just constant.

And I think about that fact that one day, hopefully, I’ll be sitting on the porch and my house is already clean and quiet and maybe a little lonely.  The tide has ebbed and the pressure, real or imagined, is a distant memory if I even remember it at all.

I’ll think about the time it all felt like too much, like how now imagine my own mother felt at this age. And what will I have to look forward to in my ripe old age with nothing to do? Why writing classes at the community college of course? What else? Watch reruns of Fixer Upper all day and recall horribly boring waiting rooms? Nah.

That awkward moment when you cancel your gym membership.

Yesterday I cancelled my gym membership and the conversation with the manager left me feeling a little bit salty. Mind you, I gave this decision a LOT of thought. I mean really, I have probably given less consideration to more important things. Now I know it’s about sales (and that it’s not personal) but I really don’t like being underminded or made to feel like I don’t value my health because it’s a good decision to not pay for something I’m not using.
And for Pete’s sake please don’t remind me about the PRECIOUS CHILDREN. I feel like that Madea meme when someone reminds me about THE CHILDREN. I know I have kids. And trust me, the weight of being a good freakin example to them is crippling sometimes.
But really, that doesn’t even apply. My kids can’t see me exercising at the gym, so that doesn’t make sense. I guess because they know I’m there to exercise? Although I have contemplated dropping them off and popping a squat with a magazine in one of the chairs for two hours. Hey, it’s my time!
Then there was the “you need time for you pitch.”I literally said it’s a drag bringing them to the gym. I just don’t wanna. And maybe it’s the depression talking but I actually started this entire conversation with “I am overwhelmed with life and need to take something off my plate.” I need one less obligation, one less thing to feel bad about. And an extra $45/month.
So now I feel all revenge oriented to show this guy that I’m going to be successful even without his gym. Which is silly because he totally doesn’t care, lol. The whole business model exists on people paying for it and not using it. And when everyone does use it in January it’s an absolute cluster.
When I asked for the cancellation form at the desk, I pictured the guy thinking, well have fun being fat! Which would be hilarious to me, for some reason. But the funny thing is I actually have been exercising. I walk about an hour a day at work and when I get home, I’m usually in a Nerf war or walking to the park pulling a 60 lb wagon. I have a fitbit and try not to sit too long especially on “lazy” days so I’ll do a walking workout DVD or step workout on Youtube. Most importantly though, I am tracking my food.  I’ve lost weight with and without a gym membership. It’ll definitely be a new challenge with two kids. And I can always re-join if I decide it’s a good fit in the future.
But for now, I’m going to make it work on my own. Still have an active lifestyle and exercise when it’s not so active.
Game on Ernie. Game on.

My Home Buying Experience

Buying a house right now totally sucks, is disheartening and I never want to move again.

That’s it in a nutshell.

But, I’m actually not bitter. A year later.

We bought a house in the first place because we needed three bedrooms and I felt the rent was comparable to a mortgage even with the HOA fee.

In hindsight the pre-approval was the most exciting part. I was stoked! Oh, so many possibilities. Not. Low inventory. This is the kiss of death when you’re not totally loaded and maybe even when you are. Like I would know, ha.

In my original dream we would be in a modest single family home. A fixer upper. Again, the possibilities!

But, I actually don’t like that. Any of it. Painting. Decorating. Planning. Planting things. Buying curtains. Anything the previous owners left is still here. I did throw out the coconut oil tub that was in the shower. I have no inclination towards this stuff. As Socrates said, “Know Thyself.”

Don’t buy a house you don’t love. I don’t know if this is actual advice, but in my case this was a foolish idea. The house I LOVED and still do, was a money pit and a death trap, with a 90 degree angle staircase going into what was probably a haunted basement with killer clowns, a random toilet, Saw style, a mysterious pool of standing water, a cracked support beam and cloth wiring. I still want that house. Doesn’t make it a good decision.

I believe some people also say not to get emotional, which is much more sound but impossible, for me at least.

So, did I love this house? No. I loved that we could get it and that it meant all three of our must have requirements. 1.) Separate dining area. 2.) All bedrooms on the same floor. 3.) Good schools. In that order. It was very much a transaction.

I also had to settle. It wasn’t my dream to be in a condo. I wanted a “house house”. A “real” house. Well, this house is pretty real. Comes with a real mortgage and keeps the water off our heads when it rains. Not taking the care of the lawn is totally awesome and we recently had to have the sewer line rodded and our carpet cleaned and didn’t have to pay for it or do the work. Our neighbors are great! Caleb has a best friend across the lawn, we see people we know when we’re out, which I love, we’re walking distance to the library and preschool.

Now when I think about it I absolutely love this house in a way that I couldn’t have a year ago. It was move in ready, a perfect amount of space and no creepy parts! Originally, it wasn’t my “dream” but the reality turned out to be so much better. Not only do we have a nice house but we got a great community that I’m so thankful to call Home.