Author Archives: mommyk8

Be Unreasonable With Me!

My goals are crazy, like my bangs in this photo.

Hey! It’s that time of year again, time for the 11th annual list of Unreasonable Goals. I’ll be 40 in 6 days, so as you may have guessed, this year is crazier and more unreasonable than ever! New twist- as part of my (now 40 goals) for the year, I included 12, 30 day challenges. Here’s how I approach 30 Day Challenges – and the Unreasonable Goals in general – I do my best. Life happens, sometimes your kid pukes on you at 5am and you forget to meditate. This year I’m ecstatic to have a 55% achievement rate. Not bad, considering this list is bananas! I encourage you to play along with me, and just try your best. No judging if you only make it 3 days. Here’s my plan for 30 day challenges with the months I plan on doing them so you can join in if you want:

January – 30 Days of Meditation
February- 30 Days of Yoga
March- 30 Days of Diet
April- 30 Days of Walking
May- 30 Days of Knitting
June- 30 Days of Poems
July- 30 Days of Getting Up With Alarm
August-30 Days of Cleaning Out
September-30 Days of Black and White Photos
October-30 Days of Art
November-30 Days of Writing
December-30 Days of Gratitude List

I chose the activities for each month based on my schedule, and what I know I can handle that month. For example, I’m attending my 10-day MFA residency in January, and although Yoga With Adrienne starts her annual (and my favorite) 30-day-yoga challenge on Jan 1, I know there’s no possible way I will be able to stick with it. I am not about setting myself up for failure. However, I know I can find a few minutes each day to meditate, so that’s what I’m starting the year with. I use the inspiration timer app, and really enjoy it. There are a zillion guided meditations to chose from, but you can also use the timer function alone. It also keeps track of how many days you meditate.

Yes, I’m still off Facebook, and am really hoping that this blog can survive without it. One of the reasons I set up this year’s unreasonable goals to invite participation and discussion is that I’m hoping to create a little community here and on instagram. If you are playing along, or have your own crazy goals for the year use #2018unreasonablegoals and let’s get a little party started!

I’ve created a tab at the top of the page for my 2018 Unreasonable Goals so you can check out the rest of them. This year I tried a new google doc feature and created a to-do style checklist for all the books I plan to read (more on that list later). I’m looking forward to a crazy, fun, and productive year.

Poof! I Disappeared!

I ended up deleting my Facebook account earlier than I planned. I’ve had a really hard time with Facebook since I signed up for it many years ago. I am exactly the type of person it’s terrible for. I love gossip, and I also love helping people. I easily get sucked into dramas or giving my opinion or advice – and even when it’s asked for – does anyone really want it? Will I really change the mind of the racist man whom was once my 7th grade boyfriend? No. Do I need to be constantly embarrassed and dismayed by the ignorant Trump supporting posts by my family? No. Do I need the constant bombardment of collective dismay and bad news posted all day by people I love and admire? Nope. The thing is, I’ve known all this for years. What it took for me to finally understand just how gross social media is, was a good old-fashioned mean girl.

Thing is, I’ve found it easy to allow the negativity wash over me. The cliche frog in the boiling water. So many #Metoo – none of which I was surprised about – but each like a tiny knife to the heart nonetheless, they became a blur. Mass shootings, murdered children, gofundme for basic medical care, Nazi rallies, and don’t get me started on 45. Yes, most of it is rehashing of news, but an endless stream with endless analysis all day. Still, this wasn’t enough to get me to understand how harmful it was to my brain. There are definite bright spots to Facebook, like the ability to keep in touch with people that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. And there are lots of funny things too. But all in all, it was a time suck that wasn’t good for me, and a bad habit.

Finally, last week, I finally had enough when, on a rather benign post about a local grocery store closing, a woman called me a bitch. Look, I’ll be 40 in a few days, I’ve been called a bitch many times, and honestly there are times when I deserved it. But this was different. I’d corrected this woman on some false information and asked her not to spread rumors, since I’d just spoken to the owner. She countered by calling me a bitch. I was astounded. There was nothing unkind or rude about what I said. Other people had also corrected her. I told her she was out of line, and it escalated from there. Basically, she continued to hurl insults at me in a weird and unhinged way. But, here’s the thing. This woman had publicly insulted and spread rumors about me before. A few years ago our neighbors sold their house to someone who turned it into a massive dog kennel. Our town let this happen with no oversight or regulation. Despite attending numerous meetings and trying to work things out – basically to get minimum business regulations which the town didn’t have because they said a kennel is agriculture – three town officials told us to get a lawyer. We did. The local paper published a story about it, because it went to court. The owner of the kennel, and this other woman took to spreading rumors about myself and my husband. It got pretty nasty. We ended up selling the house and moving. Anyhow, I reveal all of this because the woman, in this exchange on Facebook claimed not to know me. I had seen her a few times around town and at the kids’ school, and had decided to let it all go and had moved on. However, this exchange brought back a tidal wave of anger and pain. When I reminded her that she did, in fact, know me- by cutting and pasting her nasty comments about me that she’d posted on the local paper’s website – she responded by another raft of insults, claiming not to remember that either, and blocking me. I admit, this is all very small town and juvenile. But it’s what finally made me realize just how nasty Facebook can be. I deleted my account that day.

I’ve thought about this a lot. Either she’s lying and remembers me, or she’s not lying and she  doesn’t remember saying nasty things and spreading rumors. Frankly, from the private messages I received after the exchange from people that know her and are ‘friends’ with her, this is pretty regular behavior, so either explanation could be true. Cheryl Strayed frequently mentions her mother’s advice to, “put yourself in the way of beauty”. For me, Facebook was putting myself in the way of nastiness. Yes, some people are just sad an nasty. I am old enough to know this. That doesn’t mean I need to put myself in their way as an easy target.

I haven’t gone cold turkey on social media, but nothing else had the hold or made me feel as bad as Facebook. I’m trying to figure out what this will mean for my blog and promoting books. I’m not alone either. Almost every day I talk to someone else who has deleted their account. I’m already happier. I wonder how I’ll feel in a year?

I Challenge You!

I’ve started early on my Unreasonable Goals list for 2018.  I don’t know if it’s the new moon, or turning 40, or just my current vibe, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals and priorities. What is serving me and what is not. I may have mentioned this before, but on the little Twitter description about me it says: Mom, wife, writer, knitter, cooker, reader, eater. This may seem like a simple list, but I put a lot of thought into it at the time. This list is how I think of myself in order of importance. The things that mean the most to me. They have shifted focus a bit lately, as I’ve worked on my MFA, writer has taken up a lot of my time. That doesn’t mean that it’s more important, however.

This year I want to focus more on family, bring it to the front. However, I also have some pretty ambitious goals for myself as a writer, including graduating this July! I want to spend more quality time doing things I enjoy with people I enjoy. I have decided to attempt two, big for me, challenges for the coming year. No shopping and No Facebook.

Recently, I read the essay My Year of No Shopping by Ann Patchett.  It resonated with me deeply, and I’ve decided to design a similar challenge for myself. I haven’t quite worked out all the details, but I am looking forward to freeing up time and money.

I have posted before about giving up FB  and have yet to do it. One reason is that it keeps me connected with friends easily. However, It eats up a lot of my time. I find myself endlessly scrolling through my news feed often. It depresses me. So many good people are so upset by our current president and the state of the world in general – I am too- but do I need to read about it all day? Do I need everyone’s opinion on every little thing all the time, and do I need to respond to it? Nope. I recently discovered that you can deactivate your account, but still leave the messenger active – which solves the problem of friends staying in contact. I also will be able to update my professional page via my website. i subscribe to the NYT, checking headlines once a day is enough. I’m keeping Instagram because it’s fun and non-depressing. I think this is a good compromise.

I’m also interested in finding out if anyone else is willing to take up these 2 challenges with me? Anyone in on no shopping and no Facebook for a year? Maybe I could invite some guest bloggers to this page. Create a instagram hashtag. Let me know!

 

 

If I had Known

Sometimes I write poems. I almost never share them.

If I Had Known

If I had known
that the last time we spoke
would be The Last Time We Spoke,
I wouldn’t have changed a word.
Please,
I said.
Don’t do this,
I said.
Think of your kids,
I said.
You don’t have to go,
I said.
Stay,
I said.
Stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I’m Sick

I’ve written in the past about my colitis, but I’ve never written about the anxiety catch-22 I fall into whenever I get any illness. Because of my deep fear and anxiety around having another flare-up that would land me in the hospital or an illness that would possibly create a situation in which I have to take a prescription, possibly antibiotics, which can make colitis worse or even cause it in people that don’t have it, I have no ability to distinguish when to call the doctor anymore.

I have had colitis  since about age 13, and often remain symptom-less. I manage it through diet, lifestyle and pro-biotics. However, sometimes symptoms arise, and because of anxiety, which is thought to be both a symptom and a result of colitis, I become paralyzed with fear. Is what I’m feeling a normal blip in the course of the disease? Is it the flu? Is it something completely different?  I panic. This makes things worse. I get sicker. Which makes things worse. I google my symptoms. Which makes things worse.

Currently I am on day 3 of what I hope is a simple stomach flu and not a flare. My last incident ended up with me in the ER getting a diagnostic CT scan and a 17 pills per day regimen, which made things worse. That time it took 6 months to recover from the side effects of the drugs I was given, and after deeper investigation discovered wasn’t a flare after all.  Because I am so afraid, I am both reluctant to call my doctor, yet do so at the drop of a hat. What if doing nothing makes it worse? What if doing nothing makes it worse?

I know there are people out there in tougher situations than me. People who have colitis more severely. I know people who aren’t stricken to bed when they are nauseous. People that don’t text their friends and family for advice on what to do, and then go to the doctor anyway. But I also know that there are a lot of people who deal with this same anxiety, the same fear that a bout of stomach upset is the harbinger of something much worse.

What am I going to do? Well, writing about it helps. I’m probably going back on my annoying diet for awhile. I’m going to try not to be so afraid all the time. And I’m going to get better.

 

Showing My Underwear

It’s about to get real up in this piece. Why? I’m going to show you my underwear. Not my real underwear, underwear is the term I use for things you don’t want to show people but sometimes the wind blows up your skirt and you’re exposed. In this case, it has come to my attention that because of my carefully considered FB posts – and they are – everyone’s posts are, I have given the impression that my life is an amazing wonderland of togetherness. Well, yeah. That’s what I want you to see. Here’s a little truth bomb – I have like 500 friends on FB and 1k on Twitter- maybe 25 outside of family are invited into my real life. That’s how I want it, that’s how it’s going to stay. That said, have I miraculously cracked the code of how to be a working, stay-at-home mother and student and live a glamorous, stress-free life? No. No one does. So, I’m going to show you my underwear.

First, a little background. I am currently in my 2nd year of an MFA program. This semester, in addition to creative work, I’m writing a 20 page research paper. I work 30 hours per week as a research associate for a STEM non-profit, and I am married and I have two children, ages 4 and 12. Nearly every day people ask me how I do it, and I say, “I dunno, I just do”. But that’s a lie. I do know how I do it, and I will tell you, but you aren’t going to like it. There is no magic spell. What I’ve done is brutally stripped everything from my life that doesn’t fall within a few categories that I’ve determined are essential to my health, happiness, and growth.

Prioritize

These are the things that my life revolves around: Family, Work, School. That’s it. That is the order of importance. When I graduate, writing is going into the school slot. When (not if – take note of that) I start getting overwhelmed, I look at my life, and if something does not fit into one of those three categories – it’s out.

Things that are NOT priorities for me:

TV. I watch maybe 5 hours a week, MAYBE and that’s a high estimate.
Cooking dinner. This one makes me a little sad. I’m a really good cook. Luckily, so is my husband.
Cleaning. My house is a disaster. I clean like once a week. I have learned to let it go. We have clean clothes. We have clean dishes. Good enough.
Hanging out with Friends. Sorry.

My kitchen. It always looks like this. But, the fridge has healthy food in it, so I don’t care about the rest.

This is my office. It’s also my closet. It’s a pit, but I love it.

Things that ARE priorities for me:
Reading. I read 2 hours a day. Minimum. For school and pleasure.
Quality time with my kids
Having healthy food that requires no prep.
Physical Activity every day
Meditation & Yoga

My kids at the beach. I studied while we were there. This is an example of something you’d see on my Instagram or FB.

My priorities are not going to be your priorities. You need to figure out yours. I don’t care about TV, but if I cut out daily reading I’d be miserable. Maybe that’s not the case for you. Maybe you love TV. The key is figuring out what makes you happiest and cutting out the rest.

Plan:
My life is scheduled out, and I write down everything I need to do. I have 2 google calendars, an actual physical planner, and a white board for the family calendar. Here’s my schedule:

Monday – Thursday

630 – Wake Up/Meditation
700-730ish – Yoga  – often pause in the middle to get breakfast for 4yo.
730-800-Breakfast, Coffee, Kids to school etc.
830-330 – Work
330-530 – Family Time
600-630ish – Dinner
630-700- Walk with Mike
700-730-Walk With Maggie
800-11:00 – School
11:00- Sleep

Friday-Sunday

630 – Wake Up/Meditation
700-730ish – Yoga  – often pause in the middle to get breakfast for 4yo.
730-800-Breakfast, Coffee, read news
800-1200- Homework & Writing
100-800- Family Time (this often includes grocery shopping, cleaning the house, etc)
900-1100-This is when I might watch TV

Do I adhere to this exact schedule every day? No. I can’t. I have to go to the office once or twice per week, and travel occasionally. I often multitask. For example, I take the kids to the beach almost every day in the summer, and while they play I study.

Learn to love the word NO. No is your best friend. Do I want to be on the board of directors at our local library? Yes. Can I do it? NO. Can I be on the PTO? I’d love to but, NO. Do I feel a little guilty saying no all the time? Yes. What do I do to get over the guilt? Small things that don’t take any time – when I’m able I donate to local charities, schools, events. I have no time to attend meetings, but I do have time to fire off an email here and there. Mostly though, I am learning not to feel guilty.

Is this balanced? I don’t know.  Am I happy? Very. Am I stressed out? Not really. Will this work for you? I have no idea.

There you have it, a little peek at my underwear.

Via Telegraph.co.uk

If Mo Willems Wrote My CV

I’ve been reading this book at least once a week for about a decade.

If you have children, you know about the pigeon. He wants to drive the bus. He wants a puppy. He does not want to take a bath. I’ve read the books by Mo Willems to my children for so long I can recite them. I imagine if Willems wrote a book about my career it would go a little something like this:

My Mom Wants To Publish A Story

Hey! I’m Kid, Let’s listen to my mom talk about writing.
Oh, hello. Am I a writer? I am.
What does a writer do?
I spend a lot of time thinking about writing things.
Sometimes I write things.
I spend a lot of time fixing things I wrote.
Waiting for people to get back to you is a big part of it.
You want to know what I write?
I write about writing.
I write about eating and cooking and reading and knitting.
Have I written non-fiction books about celebrities? I have.
Do I write children’s books? I do.
Am I working on a series of horror stories? I am.
What about grants and scientific papers, do I write those? Yes.
Will I write something for five dollars?
ARGGHHHHHHH! NOOOOOOO!
I should be writing right now.
What’s that you say? Anthology submissions are open?
Hmmmmmm…..