Monday, March 24, 2014

Unplugging from Work

Second weekend in a row.  I have not worked.  Admittedly, work has been on my mind.  I've been thinking about what is happening while I'm not online.  I'm wondering if things are getting done while I'm not watching.  I'm planning my early Monday morning prep.

But I'm not working.

Yesterday I curled up with Bean and Inchie and watched half of Frozen.  We ate eggs for breakfast.  Apartment shopping.  Lunch out.  We got home and took a nap - all three of us.  The day was capped with a birthday party for a co-worker's little girl.

Today the sun was out bright and warm.  We visited the Japanese Garden.  There were 3 foot long fish in the pond.  They actually swim with their mouths partially out of the water.

Who knew?

Then the height of the afternoon - I took another nap!  Following our naps we headed back out to get a little more of the rare Seattle sun along the Puget Sound.  Dinner with the family.  A bit of a movie before bed.

I don't know what happened in my brain that has caused work to take such a role in the front.  It is very very unlike me.  At least it is unlike the me I was used to at my old job.  I never had a problem leaving work behind.

These days I wake up in the middle of the night solving problems.  Sometimes the solutions are so present in my mind I give myself permission to open up my laptop and work.  I put a a couple hours, 2am - 4am or so, then back to bed.  Up at 5am.  Into work.

When did my brain stop shutting off?  When did it get stuck in this constant on state?

No matter.  I'm working on unplugging and figuring out a way to relax again.  Last weekend I was less anxious about not being online, but I didn't sleep as well.  This weekend, I thought more about work, but I also managed to sleep through the night.  I think this level of sleep deprivation might actually be worse than the first weeks of parenthood.  Maybe simply because I only had one reason to be exhausted back then.

But this was weekend #2.  And I have 3 days off next week.  Let's see how I handle that!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Far from Home and Lonely

I'm not yet sure I've fully reached the conclusion of this pity party, but I'm finally starting to see the edges of it.  I've not handled the past couple weeks so well.

This new job is big.  I knew it was a stretch for me when I took it.  But this is so much bigger than I could have imagined.  Somedays I manage it.  I'm actually quite good at parts of the job.  But I am tired in my bones.  I'm tired in ways I wasn't sure I could be tired.  And then there are the days that I fall short...

I'm a mom of two kids.  How on earth could a job tire me more than life as a mom?  I mean there are demanding jobs and then there is motherhood.  I look at how tired I've been and I really wonder where I got off track.  Why am I so down?  I've come through so much in the past few years.  How could a job be getting to me like this?

Today I caught myself thinking about people at work.  I have tentatively begun making work friends, but it is Saturday and these are not people I see on the weekend.  I began to obsess about getting back online.  To see who was there and if I needed to take care of anything.  To have a conversation with someone.

As the day went on I felt worse and worse.  I couldn't shake this awful loneliness that seemed to have settled into my bones.  Bean even turned to me at one point and started talking about how much she misses her neighbors and cousins.  My chest constricted and for the first time in a very long time I had to remind myself that I needed to be strong for my kids.  I need them to know that it is okay to miss your friends and family, but this is our home now and everything is okay.

When I am completely and totally wreaked inside?  Should I show them how rocked I am by all this? Should I let them see?

And then it hit me.  I still haven't made friends here yet.  Not the kind of friends that I'm used to having.  I have worked a lot.  I have been the strong provider and the professional butterfly.  I'm learning to network and meet people with purpose.

But I no longer run into people at the grocery store and talk for 5 minutes catching up on their past week.  I don't have a church community to keep track of.  I don't go to school events where I get to meet my kid's friend's parents.  I don't recognize people has I walk down the street.

I'm an isolated person in an isolated corner of the country.  And I'm not making it any better by working so much.  When was the last time that I went out and met someone new?  For reasons other than professional networking?  My best guess - 4 months.  Definitely before I let work take over my nights in addition to my days.

Time has arrived to start reworking my of hours.  I need to get a life.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Shock to the System

A friend had a heart attack. I learned about it from my husband. In this day in age, I respect her considerable ability to keep the news off Facebook. I monitor the stream of overshare and contribute not infrequently myself. It would be incredibly hard to not post the stream of conscious did-not-see-this-coming status update from the hospital bed before even beginning to appreciate what was happening.

Last night, almost two months after The Event, the news went public. Attempting to process all that has happened, she started writing a blog. It was the first time a number of people had heard the news. I read the shock in their posts. I imagined what it would be like to read that on Facebook for the first time, not knowing. Shock is a very appropriate reaction.

Tonight I read her blog. From beginning to now. I entered her story. The words formed a voice and I was pulled in. For a few brief moments, I was recovering from a massive heart attack. I was reconsidering my life and waiting. What does this mean? How has everything changed? I was living in a body which was no longer willing to keep up with my spirit. My spirit was looking at what it had wrought and sobbing.

On one hand, I am alive. That needs to be enough. In this time and space it has to be enough. I have to embrace life and love it with all I have. The intensity with which I've lived has taken a toll. But now, that intensity has to be turned around. Can you take care with intense tenderness? Can I relax passionately?

Mourning what I've lost, I emerge from the last post. I look into my husband's eyes as the tears fall freely now. I choke out one statement.

"I don't want it to happen to me."

On one hand this shouldn't be about me. My friend is going through something I wouldn't wish on anyone. Her life is hard enough without me sucking energy from the room. Earlier this week I read an editorial which suggested that the person experiencing a tragedy is the only one with allowance to complain freely. I am not that person.

In every word I read, the picture of a person in love with life is painted. To live a life like that, you give until it hurts. I know how that works. Somedays there is nothing left. Against any odds, you succeed. Failure is a stepping stone and you rise to every challenge it offers. But how do you rise to a challenge brought on by your own tenacity?

This is not my story. She is not me. But, in reading the beginning of her current story, I wonder what lesson the world wants me to learn right now. Do I go to the gym tomorrow morning? Do I leave off that 4th coffee in the late afternoon? Do I reconsider my workload? Do I get down on the floor and play with my kids for a little more often?

With every step, we redefine our lives. Choose your fate. What is my first step on a path that is not mine? First I remind myself - you are NOT her. Second, I send up a prayer and a wish that she makes peace with her situation and heals her heart. Thirdly, I take what she has offered me. A reminder to tuck in my tank. Be thankful for each and every day.  I can't know that it won't happen to me.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I departed the text.

One night I was reading Berkeley Breathed's Goodnight Opus.  Actually it might have been my husband reading.  I don't actually remember who it was.  But I know it was bedtime and we were putting our baby to bed.  She was old enough to sit up and listen to us read to her, but there wasn't a stream of questions pouring out yet.

As we sat there, the story filled the air.  It began to niggle at a part of me I'd been working to ignore.  After a year in the suburbs, life had settled into a young family routine.

Get up.  Get Dressed.  Get out of the house before the baby is up.  Drive to work in traffic.  Work.  Schedule a few kid appointments.  Work.  Eat lunch.  Putz around on the Internet.  Work.  Drive home in traffic.  Pick up the baby from day care.  Set her up with toys in the living room.  Make dinner.  Greet husband.  Eat dinner.  Bath.  Read a bedtime story.  Put the baby to bed.  Swap loads of laundry.  Fold clothes.  Plan dinner for the next night.  Pack lunches.  Go to bed.


"... the same one you've read me two hundred nine times."


"Grandma read, the two hundred tenth time."


"When your sight surpasses what's plainly in view, pull your head from the clouds, keep the ground to your shoes. [...] It's improper that folks get so carried away."

These were full days.  There was joy, but there was a monotonous repetition.  I could feel the edges getting tattered.  I was tired.  In my bones and my soul.  I could feel the strain of having a full and beautiful life.  My world had lined up.  I had no complaints.  But I was so tired.

And Opus was on a beautiful adventure.  A Tooth Fairy selling an Elvis Molar.  Fishing for the moon in Blue Mist Lagoon.  Cows in the Milky Way.  

Upon returning home Opus says "I sure like to think that one day or the next she'll get carried away and depart from the text."

My heart broke just a little.  With each day, the rut I was digging was getting deeper.  If I was tired now, it was not going to get better.  Soon our daughter would have potty training and school and field trips.  My job responsibilities would grow.  Traffic just doesn't get any better.

Time passed.  Tattered edges turned to fringe.  We had a second baby.  The fringe was gone.  In its place I found holes.  The kind where the material is so threadbare that attempt to mend it just make the hole bigger.

I started writing this blog.  Maybe my writing would be so awesome I would become a rich blogger and talk to suburbanites around the world about how they too could break the mold.  How the text they followed was under their control.


More likely, I would write and have something to look back on.  I would be able to look back and see that the struggles were real and different and I was growing and changing over the years.  It wasn't as monotonous as it seemed.  And in telling my story I would find the joy in each day.  I would seek out the joy.

But something completely different happened.  I didn't write about it.  I didn't capture it.  I simply lived it.  One day at a time.

In January, an email from a recruiter showed up in my Inbox.  It was obviously a form letter, but I answered.  When a bright red door appears in front of you, one you hadn't installed yourself, it is a good idea to check it out a little further.

In February, I interviewed with a big company for a job that came with a catch.  The job was 2800 miles from where I'd lived every day of my life since I was born.  I interviewed for an interesting job.   They saw more than I realized I was offering.

In March, they offered me the job.  But it wasn't just a job.  As I read and re-read the details, I was being offered a new beginning.  We could try something completely new.  An adventure if we were brave enough to take the leap.

"After two hundred ten times, I departed the text."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reflection 2012

Last year I spent the month of January contemplating the previous year and trying to define goals for myself in 2012.  After a lot of thought I came up with three goals.  For the first time in a long time, those goals helped me.

I made significant progress with my health with 6 months of physical therapy and tracking my food intake.  My health is still a work in progress, but I've improved so much this year.  While I didn't finish the 29 Day Org Challenge and my office is still a bit of a disaster, Ray and I removed a couple van loads of clothing and furniture from our house.  We held out first yard sale ever and donated everything that didn't sell.  While this went a long way towards simplifying the main rooms of our house, my craftiness has remained out of control.  On the flip side, I have spent quality time decluttering my work space at home and simplifying demands on my time.

All in all, I'm glad I defined my goals.  They helped.  And I feel good looking back on them.  That said, I'm performing a bit of self-reflection again this year.  The list that never got completed but prompted me on this reflection of goal setting can be found over at - 20 Questions for Reflecting on your 2012.  Let's see where these lead me this year.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Growing up

Dear Inchie,

Last year passed and I never managed to write you a letter.  You were still so small and I didn't know you all that well yet.  I couldn't figure out what to say.  What I wanted to you know about this time in your life.  Or about this time in mine.

We've both grown up a lot this year.  Being in my 30s when you were born implies that I'd already done my growing up, but you'll come to learn that growing up can happen any time, any place.  It can take you by surprise.  Until you came along, I'm not sure I knew I had more growing up to do.

Bringing you into this world involved a leap of faith for me.  Faith in myself I didn't have before.  I took control of my health and owned it for the first time in my life.  Since then I've continued to grow stronger and more confident.  As I watch you explore the world, I push harder to keep up, to be ready.  Someday you are going to venture beyond my reach, but I want to support you with years of adventures before that day comes.

Singing and dancing occupy a large portion of your day.  Even before you learned to shape the words, you would babble along in tune to whatever you heard.  And now that the words come more easily, I'm often serenaded by Twinkle Twinkle or Frere Jacques.  Music seems to light you up and it's a joy to see.

You are also cuddle monster, giving amazing hugs with your whole body.  I love being greeted at pickup time by a smiling little girl, arms wide welcoming me home from work.  Then you wrap me up, head on my shoulder, hands patting my shoulders.  The whole world slides away and I'm left feeling content and cherished.  I pray you feel that same love pouring out of me. 

This year you've taken the Lego obsession in our house and made it your own.  Where we once built houses, you are making castles.  You build block towers as high as you can reach and then go to find a stool to you can make it even higher.  Once your masterpiece is complete, I love to hear your giggles as you tear it all down to start again another day.  When you're not building towers, you're taking care of your babies.  Feeding them, putting them to sleep, taking them on adventures around the living room.  It's seldom you aren't seen with a friend long for the fun.

While you are tucking in your dolls and building towers, I'm watching - hoping to learn and nurture what excites you in this world.  You mimic so closely everything your big sister does, I struggle to remember that you are your own person who has a unique future in front of you.  Please keep reminding me of that as you grow.  Don't ever let me send you down a path simply because your sister's feet carried her that way.

The coming year will bring many challenges, but I hope with you I can remember that every challenge is one more adventure we get to have together.  I plan to continue growing as I know that you will.  I love where we've been together so far.  Thank you for taking me along for the ride.

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy's Gift

I haven't been at work for 4 days.  Torrential rains.  Flooding.  Falling trees.  Power outages.  Hurricane Sandy walloped the East coast.

Thankfully I watched most of it on TV from the warm comfort of my living room.  I can't say I've ever been so grateful to have a storm rage around me and leave me nothing more than a little wet.

With Ray taking over the menu prep, my load has lightened.  Versus feeling a weight grow day after day on my shoulders, I started making progress.  The road was long, but I felt I could walk it again.  That hopefulness was something I hadn't felt in a long time.  What a beautiful feeling!

As Sandy closed down the East Coast for the past two days, I relaxed.  Work allowed employees to take off time to made up over the next few months - no precious leave needed.  A windfall of time fed the hopefulness and the result was gloriously relaxing.

For the first time in months, I had unplanned time.  Time to use however I saw fit.  Time to gain a foothold in the chaos.  All the things I could plan to do...

The first of which was to sleep in Monday morning.  I slept.  And slept.  And slept.  Until 8:30 am!!!  Many might think this a insignificant feat.  But those people are not the parents of toddler morning birds.  I was so happy to sleep.

Upon waking Monday morning, I considered listing all the things I wanted to get done.  I could build a nice long list and check things off one by one.  It would be so satisfying.  But that isn't what I did.  I didn't plan at all.  I just lived in my space.  As a task popped up, I worked on it.  Or I didn't.  I dedicated myself to no task taking more than an hour.  ROWE - Results Only Work Environment.  I could have to go back to my real job at any moment.  All that mattered was the state I left behind.  Start nothing that can't be completed.

My first urge was to prepare for the hurricane.  A little shopping.  Extra water in the fridge.  Candles out.  Matches located.  Laundry dried.  Portable electronics charged.  Bigger electronics shutdown.  Children bathed.  Sweaters donned.

Feeling as in control of my fate as I could in the middle of a hurricane I began to search my house for the other items which were bothering me.

Boxes of recently acquired hand-me-downs - organized into sortable stacks.
My girls' puzzles and board games - organized onto a repurposed shleving unit in the closet.
Piles of thoroughly loved bath toys - sorted and separated into keep and toss.
Stack of dropped items inside the kitchen door - escorted to their respective homes.
Mountain of craft supplies supporting past projects - organized back into the craft boxes.

Monday became Tuesday and I kept gliding through the house.  Puttering.  Finding an object out of place, returning it to its home.  We moved some furniture.  Divested of more unsold items from our yard sale.  Planned to ridding our house of more things kept past their usefulness.

Tomorrow I return to work.  I can't say that I'm done, but I don't ever really want to be done.  I just want to feel at peace in my own space.  For the first time in quite a long time, I think I've achieved that.  Now I just have to work on keeping the peace.  :)