Nom nom nom nom babies…

*deep breath*

I want to write about something intensely personal. (And isn’t the interwebs the perfect place to do that? Haha, not.) I struggled within for quite some time considering the wisdom of this post until I realized: there may be others who may be feeling this way and they may be searching for others.

I want to write on behalf of those who struggle with conceiving children. Oh yes, I know, there are so many words that have been written on this topic. However, I also know – deeply know – how much inspiration can be found in someone else’s courage in trying to stammer out how they’re feeling and how they’ve eeked a resolution out of what they’re facing. In other words, I’ve found comfort in what others have said and hope to be a comfort to others in return.

It’s not that we, my husband and I, cannot conceive. It’s that my body doesn’t know what to do with the state of being pregnant. So, my body chooses to release (which is a polite way of saying: annihilate) any pregnancy or anything that looks like a pregnancy. It’s a tricky thing to determine, medically, and the causes are not always known. There are a lot of other ‘fun’ little symptoms and states that go with this condition, but I won’t get into those here. Suffice to say: it’s a challenge.

Babies, babies, everywhere… it seems my world is filled with wee ones right now. I know so many who have small humans in their lives and homes. They complain about the results of the presence of a child, yes, but for the most part, they rejoice and love and give their all. I respect and admire all my dearests in their parental pursuits – those who have wee ones and those who are growing them as we speak. All friends, wee and grown, are a delight to me. And all examples of love fill me with a great contentment that the world is not going awry as some may persist in proclaiming. I will admit to pangs of jealousy and sadness as I see and hold and interact with these tiny miracles. But there is another feeling there – one that eats at me and my peace and my feelings of contented observance.

This feeling is: relief.

And then a whole bunch of guilt and shame.

You see, as someone who is “trying” to have children, relief at not having children or even self-doubt over my future abilities as a mother aren’t an option. One who is trying to have children must be absolutely certain that they are cut out for parenthood and absolutely, resolutely certain that they want wee ones about. One who is trying for a family must not ever reflect on the means and ways in which childlessness may be a blessing. One who deeply wants children must not ever acknowledge the reality that they, too, struggle with the same doubts that other, more capable “family builders” also have.

I have been told by well-meaning folk that this whole “baby thing” is in my head, or it’s about whether or not I really want a child, or it’s just “not the right time”. Worse, I sometimes hear “Well, you clearly haven’t made time in your life for a baby.” I choose to hear their intentions. The words they mean to use are actually: “Of course you doubt, and of course you grieve. This is an odd experience and you never planned it this way. You never thought it would be you going through this. And you’re handling it in the way that’s appropriate for you – well done.”

I know the Moms in my sphere are continually questioning and asking and wondering if having children is the right course, was the right course, or will be the right course. They question themselves and their abilities. They question how their children will turn out. And so, I have realized, my unrealistic expectation that I should be constantly and freakishly sure of my desire for and ability to raise children is absurd. It’s OK to have moments of “Are we sure we want this?” or even “Phew, glad we won’t have to deal with diapers for a little while…” That, in fact, the doubts that plague those who have babies will also plague those of us who do not or cannot… And to go a step further – those who choose to not have babies at this time or ever.

So, I look at the beautiful photos and read the funny stories and watch and hug the wee ones in my life and I feel what I feel – sad, jealous, happy, relieved, hopeful… and I think “For whatever reason, not right now.” And then I hope and despair and rejoice. And the cheesiest part of me starts to hum a song I know all too well. And I hear the lyrics and take yet another deep breath. And the lyrics are:

Let it be.

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Week 3 – Things I Couldn’t Do

I’m participating in a 4-week blog challenge

(See the original challenge here.)

January Agenda

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Things I’ve done I thought I could never do:

  1. Skydiving – I thought I’d be scared of the fall. No, turns out, I was more afraid of hitting the side of the plane as we jumped out.
  2. Sea Kayaking – you betcher boots I got sick as a dog, but by gum, I at least got all the way to the shore. Totally worth it because of the awesome little river just a short hike from the shore.
  3. Swimming with Sharks – it wasn’t that big of a pool, but I. was. terrified! And I did it anyways. The poor guides were NOT happy that I touched the sides…
  4. Dance solo – thanks to Stephanie M., I worked through that fear on her kitchen tile and totally rocked it.
  5. Driving through an ice storm – can’t count the number of times I’ve done this since, but the first was so scary!

That’s quite a list. What things have you done that you were sure you could never do?

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Week 2 – Evaluations

I’m participating in a 4-week blog challenge.

(See the original challenge here.)

January Agenda

————————————————————

So, uh, resolutions… I don’t make resolutions at the beginning of the year. I usually make resolutions right after I finish a play. Or as I start one. Or at the end of a tough semester. Or just as my sister gets pregnant… I get inspired throughout the year and can’t wait until January to give something a try. So, I don’t have any formal New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I thought why not evaluate each area of my life right now and see how it’s stacking up to what I’m working on… (plus, this means a LIST! I love LISTS!)

  • Work: I feel pretty great about my job and the people there and what I do. I am still striving for success in an area where I alone cannot control the outcome. This involves constant follow up. I’m working on that and working on better systems to manage all of it. SCORE: 8/10 – I can do better, but it’s going pretty well.
  • School: I am ONE semester away from finishing. ONE. I feel GREAT about this area because I’ve gotten pretty good grades despite work and hobby stresses. SCORE: 10/10 – really hitting the mark here!
  • Theatre: I will be directing a play this spring and that’s looking pretty good. I’m still a bit fearful about auditions based on how badly last year went. So, I’m going to up the pursuit of onstage roles, despite my fears about auditioning. SCORE: 7/10 – I refuse to let fear be a reason for not doing something!
  • House: Oy, we have so many house projects!! I’ve been a bit busy with school and theatre, though, so I’m cutting some slack in this evaluation. I’m going to stick with one project per two weeks now. Something to give me a creative outlet, but not something that will demand my attention or hoard my self-esteem with thoughts of non-completion. SCORE: na/10 – not going to score this one, just going to let it be what it is and have fun with it.
  • Health: I’ve been so much better about sleep and diet and exercise. I’m going to keep this trend up because I feel so great when I do. SCORE: 9/10 – I’m giving credit and maintaining a realistic outlook that I can still improve.

Overall, I feel pretty good about how things are going. And anytime I start to get stressed, I’ll just grab this post and review so I can see where my scores are. That’ll help a lot.

 

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Week 1 – Letter

I’ve decided to participate in a 4 week challenge to blog on a certain topic each week. This will be interesting with school and the like, but I think I can manage one post per week.

(See the challenge here.)

 

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Dear 2012 Kate,

I think a big ‘thank you’ is in order. Not that this was a perfect year, but a thank you to any/all divine intervention that occurred and all those who had a gentle and kind hand helping us get up from so many tumbles this year.

Lessons learned? Wow, there are so many. I think we should limit it to 5.

  1. You learned how to identify a good friend and as a result, how to be open with your feelings and needs. While you look like someone who is capable of all sorts of extroverted fun, we know the truth about your shy, sometimes juvenile reactions to those around you. Well done keeping true to the courses that would protect and maintain! Self-sacrifice is a needed part of friendship and I think you did a fine job figuring out when to use it and when to abstain.
  2. You learned that it is OK – and sometimes oh so necessary – to grieve alone. The secret burdens are sometimes the toughest because loneliness can be scary. However, sometimes those same burdens are the ones that give you the opportunity to build strength. Not every trial is a test – and not every weight is meant to be a workout. Sometimes, bad things just happen and learning to accept that is part of life. And, you’re doing well learning the difference between ‘bad things’ and ‘growth opportunities’.
  3. You learned all about saying ‘no’ to authorities that don’t have your best interest at heart. Trusting someone to give you sound advice or counsel means that they should prove themselves. Expertise is not always grounds for trust – and Admiration is not always grounds for faith.
  4. Conversely, you learned all about being wrong. Saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, rooting for the wrong side… you tried to do right and instead, found all sorts of mistakes and even pre-meditated errors. Whether you knew it or not, you did wrong things or even right things in wrong ways this year. And somehow, you kept getting back up to try again. Perhaps it’s watching too many Batman movies, or perhaps it’s just a desire to keep growing and trying and learning. Either way, you learned how to give it a shot, no matter how many times it took to get it right.
  5. You learned the true meaning of ‘acceptance’. Whether it was tolerating a tiny-tho-regular muscle cramp onstage, or the cruelty of a calculating colleague, or news you thought you could never bear to hear… you accepted the inherent challenges and moved forward. You also accepted yourself through these challenges and truly accepted others for who they were and are and will be.

I think you have a lot to be proud of, despite your failings and desire to do better and more. Here are 3 ways I think we can apply these lessons in 2013:

  1. Take time with the feelings, instead of trying to resolve them with immediate confrontation. Sometimes, it can help to take a day or a week to think things through. Sure, it may change your answer, but a cooler head will certainly make for better decisions.
  2. Say “I don’t know” as much as possible. Say “I’m not so sure…” or even “I’d like to hear what you think before we go on…”
  3. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, ask why and trust the initial reaction. Don’t let fear or self-deprecation interfere with the possibility of discovering what’s not right. And when all else fails in that area, go back to “I’m not so sure…”

I think 2013 is going to be an amazing year. There are so many exciting things ahead and so many possibilities for you and those around you. Keep your chin up and keep moving forward.

Grace and Peace,

Future Kate

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Tormentor

So.

You’re feeling down because of ____ bad thing that just happened. And you’re worried perhaps things aren’t going to turn around for you.
Or worse, you feel generally anxious and don’t know why. Or you notice that you’re sabotaging opportunities for success and you wonder “Why do I do this to myself?”
Or you see that you’re capable of doing good things, but you don’t know why you’re feeling so bad about yourself all the time. Or worse, you worry that you neither do nor feel good things about yourself.

What do you do when any (or all) of these things conspire against you?

How about this: ”Sometimes when we’re treated poorly, we start to see ourselves in the terms of our tormentor rather than in reality.” –Suzanne Lucas

How about changing perspective – just shifting the teensiest bit?
How about this question: “If I were to see myself how my good friend sees me, what would I see?”
Or this one: “Is this real or is this someone else’s perception of me?”
You don’t have to treat yourself poorly, either. Poor treatment of oneself is often confused for humility. And there is a very strident, purposeful difference between the two.

Your tormentor is not correct.

You are much more deserving and much more capable than that bad experience made you believe.
Who you are is enough.
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In literature and onstage…

photo from notsalmon.com

I love this concept of owning my experience. And I love putting that story-telling trick into practice onstage. It makes it easier to reiterate in my head things I’ve learned in life if I can act out those same concepts onstage. Perhaps I’m not that confident, but playing a confident person onstage gives me the chance to try it on and see what it’s like. Sometimes, that practice leads to radical change, sometimes, not.

And after a time of working with onstage practice, I realized I could practice in real life, too. I didn’t need a stage to try on new personas or ideas or skill sets. I own where I’ve been and who I’ve interacted with. I own the behaviors I’m not that proud of. I own the interactions that left me hurt or enthralled or joyful. I am the master of my fate. I am the creator of my stories.

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Unsettled

I love the feeling I get after watching a good piece of theatre – and ironically, I prefer pieces that leave me feeling unsettled. I don’t fault others who wish to see a happy ending or seek genres that don’t portray tragedy. I empathize and understand this feeling. For many, theatre is a means of entertainment and relaxation only. And sometimes, I seek that genre, too.

However, one of the purposes of participating in theatre is to motivate one to act – to act immediately and make changes for good. For example, watching a piece about world hunger and witnessing first hand the well-acted effects of such a troubling topic can be a uniquely compelling. And as I think about the piece and the topic over the next few days, I am motivated to resolve my feelings and so, take action by making a donation to causes that focus on making changes.

There is a flip side to just watching the stories on the stage. Behind the scenes, as an actor or director, I read the script, I work with the dramaturge to understand the context of the story, and I get to work with other actors and production staff to re-create the stories the script presents. This is lovely, engaging, fully satisfying work. And in the end, I feel humbled to participate in presenting stories that may assist audience members in taking action. And I am changed as a person, more empathetic and more understanding because the stories have caused me to see the world in another person’s shoes.

Seeking out discomfort isn’t easy – the difficult topics good theatre presents can be extremely unsettling. I think it’s worth it though. If theatre is the mirror of humanity, we are wise to seek an opportunity to look in that mirror from time to time to see, truly see, our image.

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The DM

I call it the Daily Memorandum or DM

David Allen (GTD) introduced us all to a very useful system of tracking what to do with documents/items that need to be held onto until a specific time. He calls it the Tickler Folder. I call mine the ‘DM’, which is short for the Daily Memo file.

To create one, I collected 31 file folders and labeled each one with a day of the month (31 total – some months won’t need all 31, but you can just keep them in rotation.) Then I grabbed 12 hanging file folders (same color for uniformity, but different type to help with organization.) I labeled each of the hanging folders with a month, 12 in all.

Since this is September, I lined up all the day-folders in order behind the September month-folder. Then I lined up the other months in order (January would go behind December…) behind the day folders. Every day, I look in the corresponding folder to see what documents are in there that I might need for meetings or events. Then I take that folder and move it to a new position behind the October folder. This keeps my folders rotating and makes it so I can put new things for the next month’s days in their folders.

Tips & Tricks of My DM:

  1. If it’s September 20 and I need to put something in October 27, I won’t have the October 27th file open to put anything in yet. So, I just put a post-it that says “27th” on the item and put it in the October folder. When October rolls around, I can divvy up the days and place them in the appropriate folders.
  2. I use this as a way to divide up a stack of paperwork or data entry work that would be too time-consuming for one day. I just break up the pages into smaller groups and place the little groups in day-folders, a few days apart. This really helps with time management.
  3. I use this as a Someday/Maybe spot, too. If I know that I’d like to think about something for awhile, I put that item in for a week or month later. Then, I can think about it without that item taking up my attention on my task list.
  4. For items that don’t fit into the folders (like toys my friend’s kids left in my car, etc.), I will write a quick reminder on a piece of paper and place that paper in the day-folder when I know I will next see my friend. Then I will put that item in an accompanying DM-Storage space I keep near my door (or in my car) That way, I’ll be reminded to take the needed item with me on that day.

This system is so helpful. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for tracking your time-sensitive tasks.

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Privilege

I sometimes get afraid that by acknowledging the goodness in my life, I will hurt those around me who may be struggling. When I say “I’m so lucky to have such an amazing job!”, I am painfully reminded of dear friends who struggle with their jobs. And I remember times when I was envious of where other people were, even though I was happy that they had happiness.

And then a friend told me that she worries when I don’t talk about the goodness in my life. She can’t see the good because I don’t express it and she thinks I’m unhappy.

So, what is the line between humbly acknowledging success and carefully expressing empathy? How can I graciously accept the privilege of this good life AND seek to help those who are struggling?

What do you think?

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