The last day of vacation, the day before we leave our cabin on the lake, is one of the hardest days.
The afternoon is a frenzy of packing and taking the boat out of the water and my MIL and FIL getting completely packed so my MIL can slip away at 6am, before the triathlon starts. She hates goodbyes and endings… and she just wants to be in her own house.
We have spent the day at an amusement park this year – Lucky and my nephew are just tall enough to ride alone, and the two of them want to ride everything there. We get back just before dinner, and Charlie runs off to help my FIL get the boat out of the water.
My MIL comes by to vent. I never should have said things were going really well between us. He’s been snippy with me all day and I’m about ready to smack him.
I soothe her by saying, The last day of vacation is hard.
Later, after the pizza and the packing up of the cabin and the gathering of all the things we’ve dropped all over during the course of the week, Charlie and I are sitting on the couch, sipping wine and listening to the waves lap at the shore through the open windows of the cabin.
It’s just that I look forward to this all year, I tell him. And now have nothing to hold on to: next year’s trip is SO far away.
So we dream about taking another trip, coming here for a long weekend this fall, knowing we are booked up for weekends through September. And anyway, it wouldn’t be the same, just the three of us, in the cooler weather, where we can’t spend the day playing in the water and sitting on inner tubes and Lucky and his cousins can’t roam between four cabins like the flock of ducks that comes by every day.
We’ll wait until next year.
And it’s so far away.
This year, Charlie’s cousin’s boat is still in the water, and Charlie decides to do one last early morning fishing trip, since he’s caught only one fish all week. We are mostly packed, and when my phone wakes me up at 6:30, the pink tinged light in the window tells me it’s going to be another glorious day.
I make coffee, open my journal, and write a bit. But then a voice inside me tells me, Go outside, and I listen.
The lake is as still as glass, the orange and pink glow of the sun reflecting off the water. I breathe in; the air is cool and clear, with a hint of fall. I hear only the hum of crickets, and I’m reminded of the passage from Charlotte’s Web:
The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”
I should feel sad; vacation’s over, and summer’s nearly over.
But inside me, I feel something else. Quiet. It’s a solid calm that’s centered deep inside; I almost feel like I can touch it in the center of my chest.
The anxiety, my closest companion all summer – is it gone? I take a cautious moment and look for it. It seems to have evaporated, or left for a little while. All I feel is quiet and calm and easy breath, even when my mind starts casting about, looking for the worry. What about the packing? You really should take a shower, Serenity, Lucky will be up soon, and make sure you get him some breakfast and you should text your dogsitter and make sure that Happy gets home okay.
The thoughts buzz around me, swirling in the morning air.
All summer, whenever my mind starts up like this, I’ve had a physical reaction to the worries. A tightening of my chest. A feeling my heart will beat out of my chest.
I can feel is that solid quiet.
I look forward to this all year.
Ah, the irony of writing a post where I say I’ve been writing every day since I started vacation, and I have a goal to write every day… and then not being able to write at all one day.
I did not write anything yesterday but review notes for the person that is helping me test controls. The woman I work for wants me to step up and manage this new person, which is fine, but it also really kind of sucks. I was envisioning a situation where I could do my own work and the other person does hers, end of story. So far from feeling as if I am extracting myself from my current work situation, I feel like I am getting more and more entrenched.
I keep reminding myself that nothing is forever, and really, it takes only a conversation to alert her that I cannot work this project next year.
* * * *
Anyway, so here I am, sitting in my kitchen, stealing time to write while I wait for the babysitter to come so I can work for the day.
Mel had a great post yesterday.
Show up and write.
So here I am.
I have to admit I’ve had a hard time writing in my space because I feel like there are SO many blogs out there, with so many people who have much better things to say that I do. This idea wars with my other idea that there IS space for me in this community, the infertile who made it to the other side but remains one of the few that is working to accept that the family she was given is her complete family.
It’s hard sometimes for me to read other blogs, too. Where are the people like me?
I see all these posts with people who are done with family building, and the general theme is that they feel like their family is complete. I usually see those posts where they see their older child playing with the new baby, or they post a picture where the kids are interacting.
Those posts are written with such warmth and thankfulness and happiness that it used to make me ache with longing.
And here’s where I confess: I would get angry at a lot of those posts. I was jealous and bitter.
Of course it’s easy to feel like your family is complete when you get what you want, I’d think.
I know, I’m awful. I used to hate those feelings.
But for so long, I felt like I was MISSING something. There was a piece missing, a part missing. The baby I didn’t get to have. And though I had the very same thankfulness whenever I looked at Lucky – because, really, how LUCKY we got with him, it’s nothing short of amazing – it never lasted.
I wanted more.
I wanted my baby, the one I lost. The one that made me feel sick and who had a beating heart. I wanted her, the one who didn’t make it.
I wanted my arms and heart and belly to be full again.
I wanted to be able to post on my blog, looking at Lucky and our new baby, how complete I felt.
And I have still have days where I long for that baby, still feel that expansion and contraction of pain in my heart and belly whenever I see an infant; a visceral want that comes from a deep, deep place inside me whenever I snuggle with my nephew, or hold a baby. And it’s still hard for me to see pictures of siblings, because my heart hurts when I realize that Lucky will never know what it’s like to have a brother or a sister.
I think that’s the hardest part for me to accept; that Charlie and I have siblings who are such a big part of our lives, and Lucky will never get to experience that kind of love.
Whenever I tell people, or say out loud, there will never be another baby, I now have this deep, unshakeable sense of peace. I sometimes look at Charlie and Lucky and Happy, and I feel that same warmth and thankfulness and happiness that I see in those Complete Family blog posts.
Our family IS complete. There isn’t anything missing, no piece we need to find and fill into our family. The four of us (and yes, I count the dog, who is quite decidedly NOT the same as having another child… but oh so wonderful a companion.) make a unit that’s distinctly ours.
Acceptance. I haz it.
This acceptance is not at all what I thought it would be.
Over the years of fighting infertility to bring home the family we had dreamed of, I saw acceptance as a mirage, an oasis in the far distance. It was so hard for me to say the words, We may never have any more children.
Even with the “may” in there, it was hard to think about.
Even as I was giving away clothing and baby gear, I never really thought I’d ever look in the mirror and admit that we’d never have another baby in our house.
Even as we walked away from treatments, I had the idea, maybe. Maybe we’ll get lucky again, this time with a surprise pregnancy. Or maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll change our minds someday and go back to treatments.
I needed that maybe. I needed the hope that our walking away wasn’t final, that we were leaving the door open a crack just in case we changed our minds. I needed to sit with the decision, the hope, the fear, the fail, the bigness of the decision to stop trying. I needed time and distance from the cycle of hope and fear.
I don’t need the maybe anymore.
Our family is complete; we will never have any more children. And yes, it hurts to say that.
But it also feels right to say it, too.
It’s really hard sometimes to write when you have all this STUFF swirling around in your head and heart.
But it’s been like this for a while now, and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon, so I really want to try to make sense of things.
So that’s your fair warning: this post will likely be disjointed and maybe won’t have a point. And it might be boring or ridiculous. But I’m going to write it down, because I really, really, want to start writing more.
And the only way to write more is to write more, right?
* * * *
I’ve been working with my current therapist now for three years. Three years of weekly appointments, and I’m only JUST feeling like we’re getting below the surface anxiety into what makes me tick.
One of the things I’ve been noticing lately is that I am very closed off in my marriage. I spend time DOING things for Charlie to show him I love him. Whenever the gas in his car is low, I fill it. I create our weekly dinner menu with his preferences in mind. I will run at 4 in the morning or 10 at night in order to get more family time in on a given day. I take care of as much of the family stuff as I can – vet and doctor appointments for Lucky, school stuff, making lunches, bus dropoff/pickup – so that Charlie has one less thing to stress about.
But when it comes to showing my husband love and affection, I am a freaking Scrooge. I hide behind stress and anxiety, I keep myself busy so I don’t have to take time out to hug.
I’ve JUST noticed it, quite honestly: the way I am clipped and stressed whenever he arrives home from work, or how I find things to get annoyed over, like lights left on, when I arrive home when they are home. How I bury myself in my task list, the computer, my phone, laundry. It’s like I find excuses and justification to stay closed off, ways to avoid connecting with him.
I think it’s because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that Charlie, with his high blood pressure and ridiculous stress levels, is a heart attack waiting to happen. What happens if I really allow myself to love him, to rely on him, and he dies suddenly on me? How will I survive?
Or maybe I’m afraid of relying on him too much, where my need becomes another stressor for him, and all of a sudden he realizes he can’t deal with the energy suck of his wife anymore.
Or maybe I’m worried that he’ll disappoint me. What if I rely on him and he can’t be there?
Or maybe it’s none of these things. I don’t honestly know why I’m so scared, why I am so stingy with showing love and affection.
What I know is that it needs to change.
* * * *
I listen to audiobooks on my long ass commute into Boston; I download them to my phone from the library. It’s a great way to pass the time stuck in traffic, provided the book is a good one.
The one I’m listening to now? It’s a good one. It’s this one – a true story about the chaplain of the Maine Warden Service. Listening to her story, told from her viewpoint, I can only marvel at her openness and love. And her faith, or non-faith.
How is it, after losing her husband in an accident, and working search-and-rescues and seeing all facets of death, she can be so enthusiastic, open, and loving?
And if she can do it, can I as well?
* * * *
Written in Athena for the month of August is this: Cultivate Love.
I’m starting simply.
Next week we are heading to my happy place – the cabin on the lake. I’m going to disconnect from the internet. No Facebook, no email, no running board, no Myfitnesspal. I’m bringing paper plates and bowls, and bottles of wine and board games and cribbage and royalty. I’m going work on cultivating a connection between us and with the three of us as a family. And when I find myself getting stressed or anxious, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and hug someone.
And when we get back, I’m going to kiss my husband goodbye and hello every day. I’m going to take a moment every day, when he walks through the door, to greet him and welcome him home.
When Lucky tells me he’s cold and wants to sit on my lap, or wants me to stop what I’m doing to watch him do something, or he wants me to sit with him and watch a TV show, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and be with him, in the moment.
THIS is my family, right here, right now. And I love them so much and am so grateful I have Charlie and Lucky and Happy in my life.
And I need to learn how to open up more.
Since my post about not knowing what I want, I’ve gotten a whole lot better about sitting and listening to myself.
And when you listen to something long enough, you inevitably find one.
It’s a doozy.
I think I need to quit my job.
And the idea absolutely, unequivocally terrifies me.
Let me back up and tell you how I got here first.
Ever since I put out there that I wanted to go into business for myself, I’ve been talking with people and telling them that I’m thinking about trying to do something new, to go out on my own. For me, it’s been a way to try in the idea of running my own business and communicating to people that I’m interested in getting business if someone knows someone. Plus, talking about it helps me suss out my own feelings on the whole situation.
This weekend was the end-of-school bash for Lucky’s school. My running friend from town and her husband were there. In one of the first times we ran together, I asked my friend what her husband does. Not being a business person, she told me she wasn’t quite sure, but that he had worked in consulting for a bit and now was working for a company. And he was very, very busy.
So I assumed that he was in sales.
Except I was wrong. Turns out, he’s in the SAME INDUSTRY AS ME. We bonded over shared frustration about where the industry is headed, how we feel like our jobs are spent covering the auditor’s asses instead of creating real value for our companies and clients, and how hard it is to work for the industry right now.
And he told me that he knew a guy close to home who was in the same business who always needed help; he had contracted for him before his kids were born and stays in touch.
It was perfect – I could stay doing that I do, without having to commute! Perfect, right?
I went ahead and requested to connect on LinkedIn on the referral of my friend’s husband, and for a bit, I dreamed about the idea of not having to commute into Boston anymore and still keep money coming in. I mean, really, it couldn’t be more perfect!
I’d still do exactly what I’m doing now, except I wouldn’t have to spend 3+ hours of my day in the car.
And then, Sunday night into Monday morning, I was up most of the night with insomnia.
(The insomnia. Oy, the insomnia. I have had some pretty bad nights since my marathon on Mother’s Day. I might have slept more than 3 hours at a stretch once, maybe twice. Most nights, I pass out at 9, then am up from midnight until 3 or 4am, with some ‘naps’ here and there. It’s awful and torturous and I have done almost everything physically possible to manage it: melatonin, turning off my devices, going to bed when tired, avoiding caffeine, meditation when I DO wake up, white noise, allergy medication.)
I didn’t really make the connection until my therapy appointment yesterday, when my stress levels were through the roof. I sat in my therapist’s office, and, trying not to cry, told her I could barely breathe sometimes when I think about going to work.
My insomnia started right about the time I went back to work after my two month hiatus.
It’s not the commute. It’s not the schedule.
It’s the work itself.
I haven’t LIKED the work in a long time – since before Lucky was born, quite honestly. But see, I don’t HATE it ,either. And I think that’s what gets me: I don’t hate my job. I just don’t care.
And the more I start to focus on the things I want, the more I read about living the kind of life I value, the more I am realizing that there’s something missing as it relates to my work right now. It’s never more clear when I’m sitting in traffic on the Tobin Bridge; in those moments I have a clear existential crisis, where my entire being is screaming, THIS IS WRONG! THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY!!!!
I thought it was the commute. I thought it was maybe the kind of work I’m doing. Or maybe the company. Or maybe it’s just because I’m tired, because, you see, I CANNOT FREAKING SLEEP. I have been telling myself for years now that I can’t leave this job, it’s good and flexible and I don’t hate it and it’s good money, and it’s irresponsible to leave a job and take away resources from my family merely because I don’t CARE about my work. I tell myself to find something else instead – that I can’t leave until I have a good idea of what I want next, because really, it’s money and money is good.
But the thing is, I don’t know what I want to do next. I spend a LOT of my time and energy casting my thoughts around, trying on careers, researching the next steps and realizing that yeah, I don’t have the time or money for more schooling that would be required.
So here I am. Still no clue of what I want to be when I grow up, but realizing that my current situation is fast becoming untenable, emotionally, for me.
Yesterday, my therapist asked me, So what will it take for you to leave your job?
I don’t know. I really, really don’t know. Leaving is terrifying for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I don’t KNOW what that life will look like. I’m scared of the sacrifices I’m going to force on my family if I decide to leave. And man, I feel SO selfish in saying, well, I don’t HATE my job, but I don’t like it, and therefore I’m leaving it.
I mean, really, who gets to do that?
But I can’t keep living like this either. I feel stuck, and anxious, and I consciously have to force myself to breathe when I think of all the work I’m going to have to do in August, while paying a nanny to take care of Lucky because there’s no more camp. Instead of being home with him, getting ready for first grade, I’m going to be juggling commuting into Boston and Charlie’s traveling for his summer meeting and making sure the dog gets enough exercise and all the work I need to get done.
I don’t know if I can do it.
I feel stuck and scared and tired and sad and anxious and I wish I knew what to do, really DO about the whole thing.
I’m hoping that by putting it out there, writing it all out, maybe I’ll figure out some way around it.
So here’s the thing about my last post.
The homework my therapist gave me is based on the idea that if I am in the process of actively creating a life that makes me happy, I might not care so much about what people think of me – or at least I wouldn’t base my own happiness on someone else’s arbitrary definition of success.
Because I care too much right now.
I care that I have no answer to “what have you been up to?
I WANT to say something like this: Oh, 3 MORE years of fertility treatments, two miscarriages and realizing that the family we dreamed about will stay a pipe dream. But it’s okay, because I can devote time now to wasting HOURS of my life commuting into Boston, where I spent my time on the Tobin Bridge regretting my life choices from years ago. Because, hey, lots of debt in student loans and no time or the energy to change careers right now. So instead, I’ve been focusing on running marathons – ah, yes, you’ve seen on Bacefook. Annnd, you think I’m obsessed. Maybe I am, because it’s the only time I actually FEEL like a success. Except not really, because my marathon times are getting slower, not faster, and I’m pretty sure I won’t actually qualify for the Boston Marathon anymore. But it’s okay, I don’t REALLY want to run it anymore because I hate being cold and running in the winter sucks. And plus, it’s not like I love marathons. I just like feeling hopeful, that with hard work I put in I can actually see results.
I say nothing instead. And I walk around the people who used to know me best, feeling lost and alone. Which is stupid, because I know for a fact that a lot of them have had loss in their own lives. I mean, shit, the couple who hosted the party just recently had a baby after a lot of struggle – miscarriages and trying for some months.
I am NOT alone. Not ever.
It’s just situations like parties where I feel in sharp relief, the missing pieces from my life. I want to feel fulfilled, and connect with old friends, and feel full and happy and not at all like I’m missing something.
And I think I’m realizing, as I stumble over writing down some simple wants in Athena:
I’m not sure I actually KNOW what makes me happy.
My life, up until this point, has been a series of Happiness Experiments, a try-something-out-and-see-if-it-sticks kind of approach. I’ve been a kind of happiness chameleon – always up for something new, but trying on the stuff that friends like to see if it’s something that makes me happy.
I’ve always been like this. And I am pretty sure that’s why I’m having a hellish time writing down what I want.
(And by wants, I mean the kind of wants that make a like me person happy. Not the “I want to be a better parent” or “I want to be better at running marathons” or “I want to walk the dog so he’s not a butthole.” I can be capable and make my life easier for other people, and I want to be a better kind of me, but that sort of stuff is the surface things. I’m talking about the wants that fill up my soul, the ones that help make my life whole, and the ones that bring me some more moments of contentment which might outweigh the lost and alone feelings I seem to fill myself up with.)
So of course my therapist is right; this homework is a really good thing for me. It’s good for me to sit and think about the sorts of things I CARE about. Because I tend to be one of those people that has a hard time prioritizing the things I want to do based on my values or what makes me happy. So having a few items to focus on when I have free time, it’s a good thing.
It may have taken me forever, but I was able to write down three things on this week’s list.
You want to know what they are?
1. Try a new recipe. I don’t talk a lot about my love for cooking and making good food, but I LOVE to cook. I love trying new things, finding quick and healthy recipes that taste good. We’re also currently on a budget since I didn’t work much in March and April and we had some out-of-the-ordinary expenses those months, so the very best new recipes are the kind that either a) use what we have in inventory, b) take advantage of a sale at our grocery store, and/or c) all of the above.
This weekend, mussels were on sale. Shockingly, Lucky LOVES them and I know he’ll eat them. So I made an Ina Garten recipe for steamed mussels that was out of this world. Charlie actually drank the broth at the end of the meal and looked at the leftover broth somewhat sadly, saying, I probably shouldn’t get a straw, right?
And then we went and got ice cream at a local creamery. It was awesome.
2. Finish a book. I have four books going right now – not counting the audiobook I borrowed for my long ass commutes. I pick at each one here and there, but I feel spread too thin. My plan for tonight is to include a full HOUR of reading. (An hour! Luxury!) I’d love to finish one of the books I’ve started this week if I can.
I love everything about reading; the escape it provides – and the opposite, depending on what I’m reading. I love to learn about something new. I love to see the world through a different view. I love getting lost in a book – and finding myself. I love books, and I don’t spend enough time with them anymore. It’s time I change that.
3. Visit with a good running friend before she moves to North Carolina this weekend. I have already taken her out for a night AND we’ve driven together to a race a couple weeks ago, but we have avoided saying goodbye. I want to see her and hug her and tell her how much I’ve loved having her live nearby and how much I’m going to miss her. Even though Lucky and I are going to see her in July when we visit my brother, because she’s moving literally a town over from where he lives.
Still, though, I’m going to miss her. And she needs to know how much she means to me before she moves.
So that’s my list of wants for this week. It might have taken me WAYYYYYY too long to write these down, but I feel like it’s a good first step.
Mel had a post a few weeks ago about her new bullet journal, how she spends time putting her thoughts on post-it notes and has no real organization of those thoughts. She posted a couple of days ago; her little red notebook Charlotte has changed her life.
When I had my lightbulb moment, I realized I needed a good place to brainstorm and write down ideas for going out on my own. So the very day, I went to Staples and picked up my very own bullet journal.
Mine isn’t red, it’s black. And I named her Athena.
I initially set Athena up similar to Charlotte. I don’t need another calendar – all of our stuff is in google AND on a large dry erase 12 month calendar in our mudroom. So for the calendar page, I merely write down a few words about that day; the things that stick out for me. On the opposite page, I have a list of tasks that are more future-oriented; most of them relate to going into business for myself; networking ideas and people I should talk with, as well as a list of bills in the future I need to remember (like my life insurance policy, CPA renewal, camp fees, etc). The third page is a miscellaneous page, where I record blog post ideas or menu ideas or running training ideas or dog training ideas.
And initially, for the fourth page, I tried doing a “May Daily List” which would be a daily list of tasks. But it didn’t really work for me; I already have task lists for work and for home in places that are easy to access. I didn’t really need one place for both; my process works for my life project management.
So I deviated.
* * *
Last week my friend D mentioned to me that she had heard of an app called Happier. And she didn’t know much about it, but it was a place where you could record your happy moments during the course of the day.
And it seemed to me a GREAT idea. Because the longer I see my therapist, the more I start to see just how many times I actually sabotage my own happiness. I will take a moment – maybe even a few hours – where I feel amazing and good and happy… and turn it into something that’s negative.
Like my Mother’s Day marathon. And it was hot, and my strategy of slowing down in the first half didn’t actually turn into a faster back half of the marathon. And I ended up walking more than I would have liked to. In the moment, though, it was okay, and good. My family was there – they held me up in those miles; I got to see them cheer for me SO many times – and I had energy left for the last half mile, where I started running and didn’t stop – even sprinted to the finish.
You guys, I felt SO GOOD that afternoon. I did what I wanted to, and I didn’t care about the time.
But the next day, when I looked at my splits, I started talking myself down. And by the end of the day, I had decided I was, in fact, no good at marathons. And I FELT shitty about the race I had run just the day before.
It’s ridiculous: I am sharing my headspace with this bitter, angry old lady who finds fault with EVERYTHING and demands that I don’t enjoy feeling good.
And so I have this idea that maybe writing my happiness down will diminish her power over me; somehow I feel like putting those moments into words cements them somehow. Makes them more real. And when they’re real, Agnes (my bitter old angry lady) cannot take them away.
So I’ve been recording my happy moments in my Happier app. And honestly, I love it: I love how you can take a picture of something and attach it to your happy moment. I love the moment of “Eureka!” when I realize I feel good and am in the midst of a happy moment. And I love how easy it is to put it into words.
* * *
And this is where Athena comes in.
It’s not really enough for me to have an app that houses all my happy moments. I need them in a place where I can see them all the time, remind myself when Agnes’s criticism is too big and loud for me to ignore.
So after the “May Miscellaneous” page, I added a “May Gratitude” page. And I am writing those moments that are bigger than just a simple recording in an app; the ones I want to repeat – my points of focus in a given month. I want to make those repeatable and big; large enough to turn the volume of Agnes down.
Athena is my Gratitude Journal.
And I am counting on her to help take the power away from Agnes and put my happiness back in my own hands.
So I’m back at work. And yesterday, I left a doctor’s appointment in Peabody a little later than I wanted, then got stuck in traffic heading into Boston for a client meeting.
Thankfully I JUST made the meeting, but in the moments where I was stressed out, worrying about disappointing my client, frustrated with sitting in my car doing absolutely nothing (at freaking 10:30am. WTF?)… I had a thought which could potentially change everything for me and my family.
I’m not sure what it is about Tobin Bridge traffic, but I’ve had a number of life-changing lightbulb moments on that bridge. Like a year ago, when I decided we needed to get a puppy.
Anyway. Yesterday, the thought struck me:
I can’t do this anymore.
I have spent this week sitting in traffic in order to sit in a meeting where people talk about the wording of internal controls. And whereas it seems like everyone else in the room actually CARES about finding the right words and making changes to the internal controls in order to meet the auditors’ new criteria… I really don’t CARE.
I just want to do the work and go home.
Wait, scratch that. I don’t even want to do the WORK. Internal controls SUCK.
And I DEFINITELY do not want to spend 2-3 hours every day commuting.
It feels like I’ve been saying this forever, I know. And I cannot tell you how much energy I’ve spent over the years trying to think my way around my career. (The cliff notes version of the issue: I am almost 40, I am not willing to devote my time AND money to learning a new skill. Whatever it is I end up doing, I cannot spend any more money on education to do so.)
And, too, there’s this idea: I don’t love accounting, but I don’t LOATHE it either.
My friend D and I have a joke: whenever there’s something that gets in the way of our daily chats (aka: work), we’ll respond: work is lame.
And the other day, she responded pretty thoughtfully that, for her, work wasn’t really lame. She liked her work, but when the circumstances prevented her from, say, eating lunch or leaving on time, that’s when it became lame.
It got me thinking. What do I actually LIKE about my work?
I like the people. I like being an expert, where they look to me for answers when they have questions. I like helping them get work done; in most cases they’re so understaffed that they’re truly grateful when I can offload some of the work for them. I like that I know how numbers from transactions flow into the financial statements. I love analyzing budgets; looking at what a company spent last month/quarter/year and where they’d like to dedicate resources this year.
Yes, I don’t LOVE my job, but there’s lots I like. And honestly, given my propensity for becoming obsessive about new ideas and goals in the first place, it’s probably good for my family and life balance that I don’t actually HAVE a job I love.
But I LOATHE the commute. I dislike the compliance work; I feel like all I do is help the auditors cover their asses – and create far more work than I believe necessary. I hate that for three days this week I’ve gone through nearly a tank of gas, spent $2.50 to spend 20 minutes every day on the goddamn Tobin Bridge, AND spent $20 for parking in the garage under the building. Every day I go in there, I spend $22.50. Not counting the gas and wear and tear on my car.
For what? To sit in meetings and argue over language wording of controls. And my overwhelming feeling is, MEH.
I can’t do this for much longer.
I’ve been considering, for a while now, going out on my own and getting my own small business clients who need help with bookkeeping, budgeting, reporting, and tax work. What has always stopped me before now is the fact that I’d have to start USING friends as networking pawns; asking people for favors, putting myself out there as a salesperson. I really just kind of hate networking; the idea of having an agenda to meeting up with someone other than a “hey! I haven’t seen you in forever!” makes me uncomfortable.
But I can’t commute to Boston anymore, you guys.
And I feel really strongly that people who own their own business should be able to focus on their BUSINESS, too. If you have a yoga studio, your expertise is in yoga, not financials and journal entries and invoicing and budgeting.
I happen to be good at the accounting and business stuff.
It really isn’t a sales pitch, then. I have a skill that people might need. And it’s just figuring out how to identify the need.
So I called a couple of friends this morning – close ones who happen to have their own businesses, who I knew would be supportive and help me out with tips and ideas. And they were great – helpful and supportive.
I think it might be time for me to strike out on my own.
In the short term, I have to keep doing what I’m doing: the woman for whom I work is understaffed already – as is the client I’m working for. And I committed to doing the 2014 controls work. I need to honor that.
But it doesn’t mean I can’t start laying the groundwork for my own business; trying to pick up a bookkeeping client here and there in the meantime.
I am so excited. And hopeful.
And a little nervous and scared, too.
I don’t talk a lot about last year’s Boston Marathon, with the exception of the posts I put up last year after it all went down. As you could tell from those posts, I was deeply, deeply affected by it all. Knowing that it EASILY could have been Charlie and Lucky at that finish line, injured, terrified, while I was doing something I love to do? Families of marathoners already make sacrifices – Charlie and Lucky do lots of errands for me in the hours when I’m gone doing my long runs and speedwork sessions.
And so, I hold strongly: I could never forgive myself if something happened to my son or husband because of me.
Not surprisingly, this year’s marathon coverage started early, with in depth reports about the events of the day, the manhunt, the changes to the marathon this year, the profiling of the victims and what they plan on doing this year. And it’s brought up a lot of the same kind of feelings from last year, reminding me of the ever present fact.
I could lose the two people in my life who mean the most to me. Nothing in this life is safe.
I record my workouts on a website called Dailymile. It’s kind of like Facebook, except everyone who is online is an athlete of some kind. Over the years, I’ve connected with a number of other runners and follow their training. I have met a few local people at meet ups: women who have completed Ironman triathlons, ultramarathoners, marathoners, new runners who just got started, cyclists, yogis, etc.
One of those runners, a woman I will call Dallas, signed up to run two stages, totaling 19.5 miles, of the One Run for Boston a couple of weeks ago, before a calf injury flared up. (As an aside, if you’ve never heard of the One Run for Boston: you should check the link out. It’s a relay from California to Boston, as created by two amazing people from England. All funds raised go to the One Fund, which has actually paid real money to the victims of the bombing. It’s just amazing.)
Anyway, Dallas ran a test 5 mile run the Wednesday before her stages and realized she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do the whole thing. So she went on Dailymile asked for people who might be interested in flying to Texas, then roadtripping with she and her sister to Oklahoma to run with her.
The mileage happened to dovetail perfectly with my training – this weekend I had a 20 mile run on the schedule. And interestingly, I was registered for a 20 mile race that Sunday, but was feeling pretty uninspired. Marathon training this winter has been HARD, weather-wise. More wind and cold rain were in the forecast for Sunday’s race.
I felt like a roadtrip to run in sunny Oklahoma would maybe put the spark back in my own marathon training. Another girl (who I will call Oregon) volunteered too.
I had never met either one of them before the weekend, but they seemed like such great people and I was all for the adventure.
So that’s how I found myself on a plane on Friday morning, heading to into Texas. I met up with Oregon at the airport and Dallas picked us up from there. We all drove to Chickasha, OK for the evening, had a good dinner, and settled into our hotel room for the night.
After a quick half mile warmup, our stage started at 6:45 in the morning. It was dark and chilly, but we were running right into the sunrise, and you could feel the promise of sun and warmth. The route we were running – a 9 and 10.5 mile leg which followed SH 152 from Chickasha to Minco, OK – was a series of hills. It’s funny, because I had this idea that Oklahoma would be more like Kansas – pancake flat, with a road that stretched as far as we could see. I was wrong! The part of Oklahoma we ran was NOT AT ALL FLAT. For most of our 19.5 miles, it was one hill after another.
But still, a great run. Along the way we saw red rocks and valleys, lots of cows and windmills, a couple of dogs that tried to herd us into their cow pasture, and lots of drivers who didn’t want to yield. In fact, one woman called the Oklahoma state police because “there were three high school girls running in the middle of 152!” Which gave us a huge laugh – the three of us are most definitely MANY years out of high school.
And we met such great people: the woman who owned the convenience store at the end of stage 147, who wanted a picture with us, who told us she was proud of us; a former Marine from St. Louis who was running one of the group stages that night and was too excited to wait. And of course, the founders – the amazing people from England who started this all.
When we finished the second stage, literally moments after telling Oregon and Dallas I barely cried in front of my husband… I lost it. I sobbed. For my running club friend, yes. But for me, too.
It’s too much sometimes, to think about. We went through so much suffering to bring Lucky home, and the idea I could lose him because I’m doing something I love… it’s just too much to process.
I swear, runners are amazing people. Because we ALL exchanged hugs – real hugs, real comfort – and tears. And, too: the amazement that we could play a small part in a this huge undertaking.
And then it was time to drive back to Texas, so I could catch my flight back home. Within 4 hours of finishing this amazing run, I was back on a plane, heading to my family.I don’t really believe in fate, or that all things happen for a reason.
But I also love how the weekend worked out. It was my reminder from the universe: we are all connected… and all drops cause ripples.
When I decided to run a marathon back in 2011, I signed up for a running clinic through what is now my running club.
The first workout – 200 meter repeats – I was struck with the strongest feeling.
I was made for this.
Over the years, I’ve wondered about my focus on running, mostly as it relates to me emotional, mental, and physical health.
Charlie put it best, recently, on a day where I was getting antsy because it was late and I still needed to get miles in that day.
Always, the running, he said. Obsessed.
I am NOT obsessed, I replied. I do things other than running. Swimming, for example. Weights. Yoga. Cycling.
… So you can run MORE! he replied, laughing.
We both laughed, knowing that he was exactly, 1000% right.
My silence these past couple of weeks has been a function of processing through layers and layers and layers of emotional baggage.
It’s like I finally decided to go up into the attic to clean it out… and was confronted with a room, packed to the brim with 37 years of hoarded Memories and Denied Emotions. There’s been little space to even navigate. So I’ve just been sorting through, processing, moving things around, letting go.
And with all the work I’m putting into sorting through all the crap I’ve never managed to get through, patterns are emerging.
For example, I’m starting to see that I have very little clarity about what really makes me happy.
Said another way: the person I am now is a function of many, many years of trying to fix my many weaknesses. I’ve found gratification in working around the faults my parents found in me.
I’m an excellent Finder of Lost Things, for example. Because I ALWAYS lose stuff.
I’m also an amazing Project Manager. Because I hate being overwhelmed by everything I have to do and not knowing where to start. I also know that if I think a task will take me, say, 2 hours, I should budget 4-6; even more if it’s something I don’t actually like or want to do.
Because I’m easily distractable, you see, and will end up using that extra time.
Last night was the second week of my spring running clinic.
The combination of weight loss and consistency in weekly mileage for the past few months has turned me into a very different runner than I was last year. And I’m working with a coach who has always told me I was capable of more than I’ve done thus far.
One of the benefits of hiring a coach is that it takes ALL the guesswork out of building a training plan. He’s stayed on top of my weekly mileage in the weeks where my ankle has flared up and I couldn’t run through it. He’s scheduled me for strength training when I mentioned my IT band was becoming bothersome again, way up at my hip.
And a couple of weeks ago, he planned a speed workout for me. And this time, he told me to hit a certain pace for each interval. I hit them, easily.
And when I got home and plugged in the distance and time into the computer, and saw the average pace, I was completely gobsmacked.
I never thought I could actually run that fast.
I WANTED to, of course. But wanting and actually DOING are very different things.
So last night the workout was three miles of intervals. I ran them strong and fast – at the pace I never thought myself capable of.
I don’t know how running does it, but the act of running somehow distills me into my very core. Everything falls away, and I’m left with just my essence, my hrdaya – heart center.
My runs lately have been moving meditations, where all I have to do is listen and something will well up from deep inside me. They’re generally phrased as questions, and they’re said with a voice that is quiet and full of knowledge; so much different than that nonstop chatter voice of my mind.
Last night’s thought? The universe has given me a gift.
A good friend of mine asked me yesterday, just before clinic, if we were definitively done trying for another baby.
She knows about our struggles, and she knows that I was pregnant last fall and lost it.
So I told her the truth: that I was 99% sure we were done, really done, but I was having a hard time closing the door completely. We don’t have any hope left. I can’t even consider walking back into that clinic, doing the shots, the medications, the transfer. And the life I have now is pretty full; I get baby time through my family and friends, and I am starting to wonder if that’s the universe’s plan for my life – if I’m just not meant to have more than one kid. And if I can’t have a house full of kids and chaos, maybe I should focus my energy into finding a career I love and making the life I have NOW better.
She asked me if we had considered a surrogate. We have, I said, but the cost is staggering and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.
Late last night, she texted me and offered to be a surrogate for us if we wanted. I know it’s a huge thing and surrogacy isn’t like a simple fix. But, I know it’s really expensive, and if a uterus is the thing you need, I mean… I don’t know, it just occurred to me.
I don’t know what’s next.
I think we are done with trying for kids, even with my friend’s generous offer to act as a surrogate for us.
I think I might quit my job for a bit so I can allow myself the space to think and feel, in the hopes that my next career might spring up organically.
I think I might keep sorting through the room of emotional baggage in the attic and let go of what doesn’t help me anymore.
I think I’m going to try my best to qualify for the Boston Marathon when I run my marathon in the fall.
I think I am finding out that no matter what is next, the life that I have now – my friends, my family – EVERYTHING that has led me to this point – is a gift.
All I know is that last night, I felt THANKFUL. Thankful for infertility, because without it, I wouldn’t be in this place I am today. Without infertility, I wouldn’t have met my friend D on a TTC board and I wouldn’t have been introduced to the idea of running a half marathon.
Because of infertility, D is one of the most important people in my life. Because of infertility, I found running – and my therapist. And ran a marathon. And found the motivation to lose 35lbs.
I have always tried to find the good in our IF; it’s been really, really hard on days.
But last night, it struck me.
Our IF is a gift, too.