Blooming Yogi

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Happy Birthweek, Baby!

As my third trimester rounds out, this final month has seemed like an endless To Do list amongst a flurry of non-stop nesting. On that list has been ‘Write a Damn Blog Post’, waiting to be checked off for weeks now but falling lower and lower among more important tasks such as: dusting all of the baseboards, scrubbing the refrigerator, and steam cleaning the carpets no less than 3 times. You know, all the things that newborns are very concerned about for their homecoming.

But here we are, on the 24th of September and I am finally sitting down to catch up on the last several months before my entire world gets turned upside down and pregnancy is all but a distant memory. Spoiler alert: it’s birth week! As of Thursday, September 28th our twosome will officially become a Party of 3.

We found out a few weeks ago that baby is breech, and all attempts at remedying that situation have failed. No yoga pose, nor inversion, nor chiropractic adjustment proved to be successful. My OB suggested to drink a (small) glass of red wine to get me to relax, followed by chocolate to get baby hyped up, and then getting on all fours and swaying around to try to get baby to turn – yet another fail. Although pregnancy was kind enough to not give me heartburn after the wine/chocolate combo, so really, I’d call that a win.

The internet even suggested things such as “gently express your sincerest desires to baby and ask it to turn head-down”. Unsurprisingly, Baby H did not respond to sound reasoning. I like to think that is because it is stubborn like his/her father and it is in there saying, “I’m not moving. If you want me to get out of here, you’re going to have to come get me!”

My final option was to try an external version, which would have involved going to the hospital, getting an epidural, being wheeled into the operating room, and having an OB try to manually flip the baby. I would have been all for that, except that even if it was successful they send you home and wait until you go into labor on your own. Which could be another 2+ weeks. Thanks but no thanks. If I’m going through all of that trouble, I damn well better be leaving the OR with a baby in my arms!  So here we are at 38.5 weeks with a C-section scheduled for Thursday, which also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary. I hereby win at being the best gift-giver of all time.

As an added bonus, having a scheduled date means that we were able to ensure that World’s Greatest Aunt / Labor & Delivery Nurse Extraordinare – my sister Holly –  will be in the OR with us on D-Day! I can’t think of anyone I’d rather having taking care of baby during its first moments of life than my sister. She has also promised me that she will personally count every piece of surgical equipment afterwards to make sure that a scalpel isn’t accidentally left inside of my uterus.

I am definitely a little disappointed that I won’t be getting to deliver vaginally; it kind of feels like I’m on mile 26 of a marathon and I decide to hitch a ride for the final .2 miles. A little anti-climatic. But on the other hand, after 9 months of pregnancy I am so ready to be DONE, and the prize at the finish line is the same regardless of how you get there.  Plus, the Type A personality in me is happy to be able to have a day on the calendar that baby will be here rather than just sitting around and waiting for the show to start.

I’m a liiiiitle nervous for the C-section recovery, I know it’s going to be rough. But to be honest, most of the first and third trimesters were miserable, so what’s a few more weeks of feeling like crap? The second trimester was wonderful– boundless energy, baby kicks, a cute bump, and dare I say, a pregnancy glow?! I thought I would be one of those people who had a rough first trimester, and then just sailed through the rest of pregnancy like the fertile goddess I am. I was wrong.

Like clockwork, month 7 hit and the third trimester came back to haunt me like the monster in a scary movie that comes back from the dead and brings its friends heartburn, exhaustion, insomnia, and false labor to join the party. Everyone warned me that the last month is the absolute worst, and to that I said “Nay, surely it can’t get worse!”. WRONG AGAIN.

I have to actively remind myself that pregnancy is not forever, and that as painful as it is to have a baby’s skull jammed under my ribcage, I probably won’t be internally crushed to death before the delivery.

When women tell me how much they love being pregnant, they might as well be saying, “You know, I really love being hungover! It just clicks with my body!”. At this point, I would give birth in the middle seat of an airplane on a transatlantic flight if it meant I would be done with pregnancy; how anyone could actually enjoy this is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of being pregnant. I’m just not loving the physical aspects of pregnancy. It’s kind of like being on a 9 month road trip: you can be excited about the destination while absolutely hating the car ride.

I have my moments of guilt whenever I moan and groan, because this time a year ago we were in the middle of various fertility tests, wondering if it was ever going to happen for us. In spite of all the heartache and backaches that got me to this point, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I know it will all be worth it come Thursday when we finally get to meet our son or daughter! I can’t even emotionally prepare myself for that moment because I know it will, bar none, the most joyful experience of my life.

Baby H, we are SO excited to meet you.

 

 

Halfway to Birthday

I’ve had a couple of people ask recently whether I still have my blog, so I figured it was about time that  made good on it and actually, you know, write.

Whenever life is sad or stressful, this is often the first place that I come — putting my feelings in public forum seems like the appropriate response to dealing with the storms inside of my head. When I’m calm and centered, though, it’s so much harder for me to share my joys with the world. I’m not sure whether that is because whenever life is going well, I just don’t have that insatiable urge to write, or whether I’m attuned to others’ struggles and feel guilty sharing my joy. A little of both, perhaps.

At any rate, #1 on my To Do List this 3-day weekend was to dust off the ol’ keyboard and come back to this space on the internet. As I was making my coffee this morning (my ONE daily cup, preggo police) I was thinking about how this time last year I was on the cusp of turning 30, and how momentous that seemed. I turn 31 on Tuesday, and my birthday completely slipped my mind until last week when I looked at the calendar and realized that it is almost June. Life just seems so much bigger now, and I’ve  been more focused on the quickly-arriving birthday of the little one who is contentedly tap dancing on my bladder right now.

Last time I wrote, I was about 10 weeks pregnant and solidly in the throws of the first trimester.  Amid the unrelenting nausea, I still found it hard to comprehend that I did not, in fact, have an intestinal parasite, but rather a tiny person inside of me. Even after seeing our first ultrasound, I still couldn’t get past the disbelief of it all. We had our 19 week ultrasound a few weeks ago and that really solidified things for me: we are going to have our very own, human baby. You’d think after 4 months of knowing this, it would have sunk in. But it took seeing those tiny feet with its daddy’s long toes on the ultrasound screen for things to finally seem real.

We opted not to find out the gender, which has been less difficult than I anticipated. I’m the type of person who spends the entire month of December pestering Brendan to give me hints about what he got me for Christmas, so I thought for sure I would change my mind and want to know. We are both content in our decision to find out at the delivery. As an adult, there are so few good surprises in life and I think there is something beautiful in not knowing. Besides, from what I understand there is a ‘no exchange’ policy with babies. We do have names picked out, but we aren’t telling anyone. Sorry friends and family, we love you, we just don’t want your unfiltered opinions!

Despite the growing discomfort, the second trimester has felt like a vacation compared to the first. Albeit, a vacation where you eat Tums around the clock and pee every hour on the hour.  The baby has been kicking away for a few weeks now, which is just the coolest thing ever. Feeling him/her move around in there always brings a goofy, sappy smile to my face even when it’s keeping me awake in the middle of the night.

I’m constantly in amazement at the weird things that happen to you throughout pregnancy. For example: yesterday while standing  at the Apple Genius Bar I experienced my first episode of “lightning crotch” which made me audibly gasp and garnered a look of concern from the college-aged tech guy. If you are unfamiliar with this sensation, it feels exactly as the name implies.

Another case in point: the urge to nest. I got up at 2 AM the other night because I absolutely, positively HAD to write down my To Do list which contained important, life-altering tasks such as “buy new light fixtures for the bedrooms”.  The overwhelming desire to dust every surface in my home has never been stronger, and I’m a bit of a neat freak to begin with. A strange phenomenon, this pregnancy.

My nurturing instinct must be kicking in as well, because I’m a fully-fledged Plant Lady these days. For 30 years, I could not for the life of me understand my mother’s love of gardening — why someone would choose to touch dirt was beyond comprehension. I now have potted plants in every room of the house, including the laundry room. I went to Lowe’s last week to buy wood glue, and like a moth to a flame I found myself mindlessly roaming the plant aisles and wondering why the hell I had come here in the first place. I left with wood glue, and no less than a dozen succulents.

I’m a high-anxiety person to begin with so I assumed my neuroticism would be exacerbated during pregnancy, but it’s actually been quite the opposite. If anything, I’ve probably been a little too laid back about it all. I think I used up several years’ worth of anxiety while trying to get pregnant, and now I’m just content to  kick back and let things happen as they will.

I’ve done exactly zero parenting research on carseats, breastfeeding, birth plans, registry items, etc. I know I should care more, but honestly, I just don’t. Life is stressful enough without getting sucked into the online battles of mommy warfare. Plus there is definitely some comfort in knowing that regardless of whether I exclusively breastfeed and cloth diaper and use only organic products, one day we will have a moody teenager that swears we are the absolute worst parents on the face of the earth. So here’s to doing the best we can, and finding a way to screw it up anyways!

 

A Happy Ending

Well, its been 3 months (who’s counting?) since my last post about the struggles of infertility, and suffice to say, life has done a 180. Last week, we finally let everyone in on a little secret we’ve been keeping: I’m pregnant!

Allow me to play catch up here…


We made it through the holidays, bittersweet though they were. In January, I suffered another disappointment when I learned that my second round of Clomid hadn’t worked; blood work showed that I hadn’t ovulated that month. I was really starting to feel defeated, like maybe pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for us. We were in the very preliminary stages of researching adoption, but I felt like I needed close the chapter on conception, first.

Brendan and I really disliked the OBGyn that we had been seeing for our infertility consults. At best, he had the personality of a wet blanket. At worst, I found him to be insensitive, aloof, and a little condescending. (I realize that bedside manner does not a good doctor make, but a little empathy goes a long way in my book!) I wanted a new doctor and a second opinion, so I made an appointment with a new practice for the end of January.

Brendan was out of town the day of my appointment, so I met with the new doctor by myself, and I liked her immediately. She was incredibly sweet, sensitive, and she actually took the time to address to my concerns. Based on my records, she was in agreement with all of the steps that had been taken so far. She said that I could safely try one more round of  Clomid and if I still didn’t ovulate, she could refer me to a specialist to discuss IUI/IVF.

Both Brendan and myself were pretty adamant that we didn’t want to go down the road of more invasive fertility treatments. Aside from the cost, I honestly wasn’t sure that I had the emotional resilience to go through it. For us, we decided that we’d rather put money towards adoption than take a gamble on IVF. We had always planned to adopt when we were older and had one or two of our own.  If the last round of Clomid didn’t work, we figured it was a sign that we were supposed to adopt sooner than we planned.

That night, I remember pouring a glass of wine, taking a bath and having a good cry like I had done so many times over the past year. Only this time, it wasn’t tears of sadness and frustration. It was a cleansing cry that you let escape when you’ve grieved enough and it’s time to let something go. I accepted that I might not ever get pregnant, and I might not ever know why, and that would be ok. It was time to stop hating and blaming myself, and start moving forward.

That Friday, I was supposed to get my period. I was waiting for it anxiously because I needed to start my Clomid 5 days after the beginning of my cycle. I was ready to take this last round, close this chapter, and proceed with adoption if it didn’t work.  On Sunday, we watched the Super Bowl and I complained about having PMS; I said something like, “I really wish my period would just start already! My boobs are killing me!”.

Monday, still no visit from Aunt Flo and yet I never once thought that I could be pregnant. I just chocked it up to my irregular cycles and made a mental note to call my doctor that week so ask whether I should take progesterone to get things moving. On Tuesday morning, I went to grab something from under the bathroom sink and I saw a box of pregnancy tests. Only then did it dawn on me that I probably should take one before I called my doctor to ask about progesterone. I took one, and braced myself for disappointment.

The plus sign showed up almost immediately.

Brendan was in the bathroom getting ready at the time, and the scene went a little something like this:

Me: HOLY SHIT!  <hands him test>
Him: Wait, what does that mean?
Me: It’s positive!
Him: Take another one!
Me: I can’t! I don’t have any pee left in me!
Him: Drink my water!

He left for work, and I took another test. Same result, same disbelief on my end. I went out and bought a digital test, just to be sure. No confusing blue lines, just one word, clear as day: Pregnant.

A week to the day after my infertility consult, I called my new OB’s office to schedule a pregnancy checkup.


I’m not sure how it happened, but it is a miracle. Obviously, I know how it happened, but I mean against all odds, why did this happen to us? I’m burdened with guilt as well. I’ve lamented with so many other people who can’t get pregnant, why is it that we are the lucky ones? What did we do to deserve this gift when so many others are still heartbroken? For so long I would see  pregnancy announcements and my gut reaction would be jealously and grief;  my heart aches for anyone reading about my joy and feeling their emptiness more profoundly.

I still haven’t cried about it, though I’m sure that day will come soon enough. We wanted this for so long, and now that it happened, I’m still in a state of disbelief. I think I haven’t let myself fully believe it because I’m still afraid that I’ll wake up one day and the dream will vanish like smoke. The nausea and exhaustion have felt real, but my brain still can’t comprehend that there is a life growing inside of me.

We had our first ultrasound last week, and thought surely things would sink in once I saw it on the screen and heard the heartbeat. In a way, it did, but yet I’m still in shock. I get the feeling that sometime in October, a nurse is going to put a newborn on my chest and I’m going to say, “Whose baby is this?”.

I’m so happy and so afraid all at once. But I guess this is what it means to be a mother: to be completely overjoyed, and yet feel completely terrified all at once.

 

When You Aren’t Getting What You Hoped For This Christmas

2016 was supposed to be the year of the baby.

I had always felt impartial about the topic of children, taking a “sure, maybe one day” mentality. I was never the type of who stopped in the street to ogle a newborn, and I never looked at a woman’s swollen belly and felt incomplete. I’d heard countless women say that you just know when you are ready, and I assumed that those women were full of crap – they were the type of women who were born to be mothers, I was not. My 20’s drifted by and the mothering urge never kicked in, it never felt like the right time. But then one day I woke up one day at age 29 and it was like a switch had flipped: it was time. I needed a baby, like, yesterday.

So it was decided that 2016 would be the year of the baby. Like most people, I was under the assumption that getting pregnant was going to be easy – isn’t that what we are taught in Sex Ed? So I naively thought around Christmastime last year that by this Christmas I’d either have a baby or expecting. Except, as the year draws to a close, there is something noticeably absent from my belly and our lives.  2016 was supposed to be the year of the baby, and it is not.

While most of our family and friends know what we are going through, I haven’t posted anything publicly about this struggle, if for no other reason than writing about it makes it so… real. It felt like if I didn’t type out those words, then it wasn’t really happening to us- that the tests and the pills and the appointments and the disappointments weren’t real.

I came to the slow realization that there is already such a stigma surrounding infertility, and my NOT talking about it only exacerbates the problem. Bottling it up inside only makes me feel more terrible, and it does nothing to help anyone who is suffering in the same childless silence.  So many women feel like they are walking around with scarlet letter “I” on their chests, and if nothing else this post is for them: you are not alone.

Last weekend I had a conversation with someone who has been trying IVF for several years now; we each lamented how in spite of having supportive spouses, families, and friends it still feels like such a personal struggle. Like we are somehow defective as women because we can’t do the one thing that we are biologically designed to do. It’s so easy to look at the situation objectively when it is someone else’s problem, and so hard to be rational when it’s your own. I would never tell a friend, “If only you hadn’t made all those comments as a teenager about how you are NEVER having children, you’d have one by now!” and yet, I catch myself thinking this all the time.

Last Friday afternoon, I saw no less than four birth announcements on Facebook and in spite of my best efforts, I couldn’t help but feel a tightening in my throat as I looked at those sonogram pictures and baby bumps. Why hasn’t it happened yet? Again while wandering aimlessly around Barnes & Noble looking for book for Brendan, I found myself unexpectedly standing in front of the pregnancy section, hardcover edition of The Expectant Father staring me down and daring me not to burst into a very ugly cry in a very public place.  Why hasn’t it happened yet? While shopping for baby clothes for my nephew and feeling the familiar pull at my heartstrings. Why hasn’t it happened yet? 

I think this time of year is especially hard. Endless pictures of cherubic looking kids on Santa’s lap. Tiny Christmas outfits on display at Target. Every mail delivery bringing the possibility of another “Baby’s First Christmas!” card. Well-intentioned friends and relatives unfailingly asking questions or offering unsolicited advice:

“So, have you guys thought about having kids any time soon?”
Only every single day.
“If you just stopped thinking about it so much, it would happen!”
Isn’t that just a thinly-veiled way of saying that this is somehow my fault?
“Have you tried _____?”
Yes.
“You don’t need a child to be complete.”
Then why does it feel like a piece of me is missing?

It’s strange how you can want people to stop asking about it because it’s so nosy, and yet you also want them to keep asking because talking about it feels like removing the heavy anchor of grief from around your neck and giving it to someone else to hold on to for a while.

I think the best thing to say to someone who is struggling infertility -with any shitty situation, really – is: “I’m sorry that you are going through that.” And if you are going through a shitty situation, I think the best thing you can do is realize that even though it may seem like it, the universe isn’t conspiring against you. When you can’t have what you desire, life has a way of reminding you about it at least 1,000 times a day.

I don’t want to be the person who hears someone else’s exciting news and immediately sees my own shortcomings, as if there is a limited supply of good fortune and happiness to go around and someone is dipping in to my stash. I don’t want to be the person who is too afraid to say, “you know, this really sucks and I wish I didn’t feel alone”, as if the better option was to instead become an emotional recluse. That isn’t the type of person I would want to be want to be around, and it isn’t a good way to live. So I’m setting it free, putting it out there instead of internalizing it.

Christmas this year will not be spent with a newborn, nor will it be spent with morning sickness and cankles. Christmas will be spent cherishing the many gifts that we DO have, rather than wishing for the one thing that we don’t have. Focusing on the present is all that we can do, and if nothing else, infertility teaches that lesson well.

2016 was not the year of the baby and 2017 will not take the title either. Declaring it to be is only planting the seed for more disappointment. Instead, 2017 will be the year of humbly accepting that life doesn’t give a shit about your guidelines or timeline.

 

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

 

Gratitude is a tricky endeavor. I’ve always understood why gratitude is important, but I’ve never really gotten it, you know? Its sort of like the concept of Wifi: Generally, I understand how it works. Something about signals and receivers and magic. In actuality, I don’t have any freaking clue what goes on inside of my Wifi box, and I don’t give it much thought unless the signal is down and I immediately turn into a ball of rage.

As a middle-class American, I understand that I have it better than a significant amount of people living on this planet. I could have been born at any other time or place in history, but by some good fortune, I was born into the life that I have now. This alone should be enough to make me take pause and count my blessings.

However, like most imperfect humans, I have an ego that rears its ugly head from time to time. Mostly in the form of a 3-lettered conjunction: BUT.

This small but complicated word constantly weasels its way into my subconscious thinking. For example, “I love my house, but I can’t wait to redo the bathroom”, “My dog is great, but he’s super clingy”,  “I’m really happy with my yoga practice, but I just want to be able to nail handstand”, “I’m happy that Brendan loaded the dishwasher, but is it really so hard to do it right?”

But. But. But.

I didn’t realize how much the word ‘but’ had hijacked my thoughts, until one day I did.

I’d like to say I had some giant epiphany and my life changed immediately, but it was nothing like that. No flashing lights, or booming voiceover of God stopping me in my tracks. It was more like a small whisper in the back of my head that said, “Hi there, its me. Just thought you should know, you say the word ‘but’ a lot. Like, pretty much every other thought.”

Hmm…. I ruminated on it for a while and came up with 1,001 reasons to justify this pattern of thinking. Surely I wasn’t ungrateful. Not me! I was just slighted in some way, and I need to make that known! I’m just pointing out ways in which life could be better. You know, constructive criticism!

Then I thought, if I were having a conversation with someone and they said, “You know, I’m really happy that I found $10 in my coat pocket, but why couldn’t it have been $20?!” — would I roll my eyes at that person? Yes, absolutely. Once I removed the “I” from the situation, I fully realized how ungrateful I was actually being.  I was so easily attuned to everyone else’s whining and complaining, but I was completely deaf to my own.

The first step is admitting that you have a problem. My ‘but’ was a problem. A huuuge  problem. Very big problem. I’m sure many, many people would agree with me.

Once my mind became attuned to this pattern, it became like nails on a chalkboard. Every positive thought that I had was tainted with some way in which my situation could be better, some small improvement to my good fortune that would obviously make me so much happier. There was always some trivial injustice that was preventing me from being completely thankful.

I haven’t completely stopped this pattern, and as an imperfect human, I doubt I ever will. For now, I’ve at least taken note of the situation and tried to reframe my thoughts. Oftentimes, this involves a lot of internal dialogue with my ego:

Ego: “I have a lot to be thankful for this year, but-”

Me: “Hold up, let me stop you right there. Are you about to think of a way this could be better?”

Ego: “No! Ok… yeah I guess I was. But-”

Me: “Stop it right now”

Ego: “But –”

Me: “Seriously. STFU already. You are obnoxious”

You know the old men Muppets that are constantly complaining? They could narrate my thoughts on most days.

muppets

It’s a work in progress, this mindfulness.  Removing the ‘buts’ from my thoughts was sort of like cleaning off a dusty window and letting the light pour in. I have SO much to be grateful for this year, if only I could get out of my own head.

I’m thankful that after a lot of turmoil with my physical and mental health, I am doing well again. I’m thankful for our new house, and the husband and dog that make it a home. I’m grateful that a relative with recurrent cancer received some good news this week. I’m grateful for my precious nephew, who showed me what love at first sight looks like. The list goes on and on. No buts. Just gratitude.

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving, all!

 

 

 

 

Can’t we all just get along?

It’s me again, your favorite (non)blogger in the 412 area code. I would start this post with an apology as its been almost a month since my last entry, except that it wouldn’t be a sincere apology. And the number one rule of apologies is that they must be sincere. Sorry, not sorry.

Taking a quick break from endless amounts of yoga anatomy and asana homework to write a quick post. One of these days I’ll get back on the blogging train, promise!

I wanted to write a post about the election aftermath, but I feel that I have very little to add to the conversation that hasn’t been said 10,000 times over by people far more (and far less) eloquent than me. So, I’ll keep it short and sweet.

I 100% understand the frustration over the election. Hillary represents everything that is wrong American politics, and Trump represents everything that is wrong with American culture.  November 8th felt like playing a game of high-stakes “Would you rather?” Except,  you know, real life. I don’t think a single person left the voting booth last Tuesday and felt good about their decision; in most cases, it was a matter of voting for a lesser evil.

Did I ever think that the Republican party would look at Donald Trump and say, “Yep. That’s our guy”. HECK NO. Did I ever think the leader of the free world would so brazenly make fun of people whom he perceives as less than or brag about sexual assault? HECK NO. (Let me briefly detour here to say that if you think p*ssy was the trigger word, you are missing the point) Like most people, I am horrified at many of the comments made by our president-elect.

But more than that, I am concerned with the ripple effect of the election. What really breaks my heart is when I see “peaceful” friends suggesting that violence and destruction should be the response to a Trump Presidency. Or when I hear ignorant jerks making lewd jokes about women/minorities/disabled people simply because they now feel entitled to do so.

When did we become so insensitive and violent as a culture? American culture is supposed to be a melting pot, instead it looks like a middle-school cafeteria tray where the green beans kept in a separate compartment from the chicken tenders. We are so terrified of people who look, think, and pray differently than us that we forget to treat each other with a basic level of dignity and kindness.

We are never going to agree with each other all of the time, but that doesn’t mean we have to respond with hate and violence. How you react to a situation defines who you are as a person – don’t be the guy that tries to burn down Trump Tower, and also don’t be the guy wearing a “Make America White Again”  T-shirt.

My overarching message here is that whether you are elated or pissed at the outcome of the election: DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE. BE KIND.

As Martin Luther King so eloquently stated,

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Jesus, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King had one common denominator and it wasn’t a habit of sitting around and bitching. They saw injustice, and they got involved. If you feel that Donald Trump does not  represent your views as an American, find a charity or organization that does and get involved. Volunteer. Make a donation. Peacefully protest.

If you agree with Trump and think that we should be focusing our resources on helping veterans instead of immigrants, the same logic applies to you. Get involved. Writing a Tweet thanking our vets for their sacrifices is not the same as actually helping them.

So many of us are quick to point out what is wrong with our country, but very few people are willing to  roll their sleeves up  get their hands dirty. We can repost internet memes until we are blue in the face, but that doesn’t positively encourage change. Anger is ineffective unless it prompts action. To quote Gandhi,

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

….

As we approach this Holiday season, nearly all of us are going to sit across the dinner table from friends and relatives who disagree with us politically. No amount of gloating, whining, boasting, or bitching will change the outcome of the election.

Are either Trump or Clinton worth getting into a heated argument with a loved one over? Probably not. Are you going to change the political opinions of a friend by giving them 15 reasons as to why they voted the wrong way? Again, probably not. There is a reason that they say to never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table; remember that and avoid the urge to beat Uncle George with a turkey leg.

At the very least,  can we all agree on being outraged over premature Christmas commercials now that the political ads are over?

 

Happy Birthday, Kona

We’ve lived in our house for just over a year now, and shortly after moving in, Brendan told me that he had surprise for me that I would get for Christmas. If you know me, you know that I HATE surprises. Well, I don’t hate surprises when they are an actual surprise. I hate when someone tells me that they have a surprise, and then leave me hanging to guess what it is. Naturally, I had to know what this Christmas surprise entailed. “Something for the house” was all he would tell me. Was it a hot tub?! A gas stove?! A tempur-pedic mattress!? No, no, and no. This banter went on for several hours, until he finally cracked and told me: we were getting a puppy. Specifically, a labradoodle. It met my condition of being non-shedding (I’m allergic) and his condition of being  ‘manly-looking’ (it wouldn’t fit into a purse). A few days before Christmas, we picked Kona up and we’ve been a trio every since.

The first few months with Kona were rough. If you’ve never owned a puppy before, I will say this: They are adorable. They can also be real jerks. Kona bonded to Brendan right away, and I became the third wheel that was intruding on their bromance. Obedience classes helped, but the biggest shift was when I started working from home and spending more time with him during the day. Once we got into the swing of our new routine, he warmed up to me and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Nowadays, going into another room and closing the door is basically an act of warfare to him. And on more than one occasion I have been shaving my legs only to have him peering around the shower curtain, making sure I’m not plotting an escape.

I swore that when we got a dog I wouldn’t become a crazy dog lady. And now? I am totally a crazy dog lady. It is a label that I will wear with pride, because I like 99% of all dogs and 1% of all people (Just joking. But also not joking). Dogs have so much to teach us about life, including:

Patience is a virtue. Sometimes in life plans work according to your timeline. Other times you will be standing outside in the rain, waiting for your dog to just take a dump already.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Kona and I go on a walk every day. I use the word ‘walk’ loosely here, because more often than not, it ends up being me dragging him away from whatever it is that he is smelling. Flowers, dried leaves, empty pizza boxes, squirrel carcasses – everything in life is beautiful, and you must allow time for a thorough sniffing.

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Sometimes you have to just go after what you want, despite the risks. Kona knows that he isn’t allowed to have human food. He also knows he isn’t allowed on the counter tops. He knows that if he gets caught with his paws on the counter and/or trying to eat human food, he will get yelled at. But when bacon is involved, all bets are off. There are instances when you just have to say ‘screw it’ and go for what you want, consequences be damned.

Let your loved ones know that you care. Kona is 70-ish pounds, which places him solidly in the ‘large dog’ category. Most people would think that large dogs are not lap dogs, but Kona doesn’t let a little thing like size inhibit his plans of snuggling. If I am sitting on the couch or recliner, he will find a way to try squeeze next to me. If I’m sitting at my desk, he is curled up at my feet. Occasionally it can be obnoxious, but it is one of my favorite things about him.

There’s no place like home. I think the best part about having a dog is that whether I’ve been gone for 5 minutes or 5 days, homecoming is a momentous occasion filled with fanfare and tail wagging. I can take the garbage out, and when I come back inside I am greeted like a returning war hero. It is the best.

Make time to play. As I write this post, a tennis ball keeps reappearing on my lap and a pair of pleading eyes are currently begging me to please, pleeeeeease throw the ball. And so I conclude this post by saying that work and obligations are important, but it is also important (more important, even) to have fun.

Happy birthday, Kona! Thank you for making me smile every day!

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Love at First Sight

Birth & Beginnings

The past 2 weeks have really gotten away from me, so forgive me while I catch up.

First things first: I am an Aunt!

On Thursday, my sister Holly gave birth to my first nephew, and I’ve been a bit of an emotional sap (in the best possible way) all week. You know how when someone you love is going through something difficult, you feel it acutely? That was me on Wednesday and Thursday – pacing around in nervous anticipation while she labored, wishing that there was something I could do, and yet being utterly useless at the same time. After 30-some hours, Elliott made his debut into the world and I’ve been beaming with pride since then.

I know people always describe childbirth as a miracle, and I always thought that was a bit of a stretch. I mean, people give birth every single day since the beginning of time – what’s the big fuss about? I totally get it now. Nothing could have prepared me for how proud I would feel over something that I had absolutely no part in. Proud of my little sister, for bringing a new life in to the world (through tiny hips, no less). Proud of my brother-in-law for helping her through an intense labor. Proud of this sweet boy, who in a moment became the center of so many people’s lives.

In the weeks leading up to his birth, a part of me secretly feared that I would meet him feel jealous of my sister – but instead I just felt blessed and humbled. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything in life quite like holding him for the first time, looking at his little face and feeling my heart grow twice its size (not unlike the Grinch’s heart after his thwarted attempt to steal Christmas.) It feels like I got the smallest taste of what it must be like to become a parent – the instantaneous, crushing kind of love that knocks your feet from under you. I hope I get to experience that myself, someday.


In other news, last weekend was the first weekend of my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training, and I think it is a case of fate pointing me in the right direction. Rewind back to the beginning of this year: I was ready to sign up for a teacher training in Mexico, but right before I paid the deposit, Zika became a health crisis in South America. If I had been in my early twenties, I would have gone despite the risk. On the cusp of thirty, I knew that it wasn’t the right decision for me.

So I signed up for a Level One training through a different program. It was a weekend-long intensive, and after the first day, I came home and cried – not the good kind of cry. Something about the program really didn’t resonate with me about it. Even now I can’t really identify why, it just didn’t feel like a good fit. Somewhat dejected, I finished out the weekend so that I could get my certificate and begin teaching at my home studio.  I vowed that I would get my 200-hour certification eventually, and I put it on a shelf with other things to be done “One Day”.

Fast forward 6 months to September, when I realized that life plans that I made for myself hadn’t panned out exactly the way I thought they would (do they ever?). I still wanted to get my 200 hours, but I came up with 50 different reasons as to why now wasn’t a good time. I realized that I was making excuses for myself, and that there really was no better time to get it done than now.

I started exploring my options. I found a training in Pittsburgh that started a few weeks from that date. It was a 4-month intensive, every other weekend. I’d be done in January – what better way to start 2017 than by finally checking off this goal of mine?  I looked for more excuses to say no. I figured there was no way the training weekends wouldn’t interfere with weddings, holidays, and other scheduled plans. I checked my calendar – not a single conflict. I waffled anyways. Finally, after 3 weeks of going back and forth my dear husband (who knows I need a push every now and then) finally said something to extent of, “You’ve been talking about this for years, just do it already!”

I bit the bullet and signed up. I tried not to think about it too much, because one of the things that yoga teaches is to go into new experiences without expectations. In other words, do for the sake of doing, not for the desired outcome. Subconsciously, I was still afraid that I would come home after the first night of training and kick myself for wasting my time and money. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case at all. The weekend was long and tiring for sure, but I came home with an overwhelming sense of being where I belong.

At lunch the first day, I was talking to one of the other girls and she told me that she had done the training in Mexico (that I had to back out of) and she didn’t have a great experience. Back in February, I was so disappointed in not being able to go. Now, it seems like I might have dodged a bullet.


I guess the theme of this post is that I am learning to trust the process. I’m learning to have patience with the journey, and realize that I am not in the driver’s seat. After years of not really having any sort of faith, I’ve been praying more often.  Not prayers for anything specific, just praying to have peace with what I cannot control.

A few weeks ago I found a non-denominational Christian Church in the area, and although I was reluctant to go, I wanted to give it a fair shake. I really enjoyed the service and found it uplifting, although I wasn’t necessarily thawed the the idea of making it a regular “thing”. Last Sunday, I was surprised to realize that I was sort of disappointed that I had to miss it because of training.

We went back this morning, and I again left with a sense of peace and hope, even among my dwindling skepticism. I feel like I found a sense of belonging on the Island of Misfit Toys; even if I don’t fit the religious mold, I can still acknowledge that I need to believe in something bigger than myself. I guess you could say my relationship status with God changed from “divorced” to “it’s complicated”. For once, I’m not trying to overthink it.

 

Day 9: Eight Years Old

I took me a few minutes to mentally calculate what year it was and what grade I was in as an 8 year old. I’m not sure whether those count toward my 8 minutes in this exercise, but I’m gonna go ahead and say no.

The year was 1994. This was during my Catholic school days and was in second grade at St. Thomas More. My teachers were Mrs. Pillar and Mr. Baker. I remember that if you answered a question correctly on the chalkboard in Mr. Baker’s class, you were allowed to select 1 (yes one, singular) M&M from his candy jar. I remember Mrs. Pillar would volunteer on weekends at the county prison teaching inmates how to read, which is pretty badass.

My best friend at the time was Julia, and we used to concoct evil plans of ways we could trick Holly (who was 5, and my only sibling at the time) into getting in trouble. One time, my mom went into the store to buy paint and she had parked the car right in front where she could keep and eye on us through the window. I told Holly that it would be really funny if we opened the car doors and ducked behind the seats and pretended like we were kidnapped. Unsurprisingly, mom did not find this stunt to be particularly amusing.

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I’m the one in the hat. Not the cute one in the hat, the other one in the hat.

I also remember wanting more than anything to be a contestant on Legends of the Hidden Temple (let’s be honest – this is a still a dream of mine. #lifegoals). Since making my way to Nickelodeon Studios was not in the plans, we would set up obstacle courses in the backyard instead. Our obstacle course was notably missing the anticipation of being captured by a temple guard, but when you are 8 years old,  you have an abundance of imagination so this was never a problem.

I spent a significant amount of time devouring every Goosebumps and Babysitter’s Club book I could get my hands on, because even as a child I had refined taste in literature. I’m pretty sure the rest of my time was spent pleading with my parents to pleeeeeeease buy me a Sega. It took months of begging, but I finally wore them down and I got a Sega for Christmas. True Story: I still have that Sega in my living room. Every so often when I want to feel like a kid again, I fire that baby up and play Sonic.

 

Some Thoughts on Changing Seasons

I spent most of the morning going back and forth debating whether it was a “Be Productive and Write a Post” kind of Sunday, or a “Spend the Day In A Snuggie and Watch TV” kind of Sunday. It was mostly the latter kind, until a short while ago when I let the dog out to pee and he decided that it was an opportune time to make a dash for freedom, and I had to chase him down the busy street. This happened while I was barefoot and wearing the aforementioned snuggie, so at least it was a fun scene for the people driving by. Thankfully, both Kona and I emerged unscathed, although my day-old pedicure looks a little worse for the wear. After that  incident, I decided to put myself in a timeout with some hot tea and brain food music and unleash a stream of consciousness.

I’m pretty sure that I had one giant case of amnesia during the month of September, because it flew past. I’m not sure how 4 weeks of time elapsed unnoticed. August seemed to last forever, and then all of a sudden it was October and Autumn was like, “Put on your riding boots, we’re going to Starbucks for a PSL!”

You can add my voice to the chorus of people declaring October to be The Best Month Ever. I love October for the very same reasons that everyone loves October: pumpkin beer/coffee/candles, Halloween, pink  in the NFL, sweaters, and crunchy leaves. There is no truer testament to the Theory of Relativity than the fact that October lasts for approximately 36 hours while February lasts for 5,217 days.

Woefully, I know that October is going to be gone just as quickly as it came. Next weekend I start a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training, which occurs every other weekend through the end of the year.  I also have a week and a half until my sister gives birth to my first nephew, and I am beyond excited to take on the role of Favorite Aunt. So here we are, one weekend in to October and I am mentally preparing to blink and be celebrating New Year’s. Truthfully, I’m more than ok with that. 2016 has kind of beat me up and I finally feel like I’m emerging on the other side stronger, albeit a little torn and tattered.

I was suffering from some blogger guilt earlier this week because I feel like my writing has taken a shift toward the ‘fluffier’ side of things. When I first took up residence in this corner of the internet, the overarching theme of my writing was Neurotic Mess. These days, it’s more anecdotal stories and  pictures of my life, and I’m feeling a tiny bit self-conscious about adding endless dog and house photos to the internet’s blog archives.

After letting self-doubt churn around in my brain for a while, I came to the realization that I need to stop beating myself up. This blog is an extension of my life – sometimes that means long soliloquies about anxiety, and sometimes that means pictures of paint color and puppies.  I could admonish myself for being less raw these days, but if I’m being truly honest, I am less raw these days. Having this blog as an outlet has been instrumental in helping me get past a lot of the anxiety that I wrote about early on.

Rest assured readers (and self) that when it is the dead of winter and the frigid weather is getting the best of me, my writing will once again return to deep thoughts and neurosis. Either  that, or you can except 1,001 typographic variations on “All Work and No Play Makes MB a Dull Girl” as my cabin fever takes over.

And now, I end this post with some pictures from this week:

I went upstairs on Thursday night to put away laundry, and came downstairs to this shit-eating grin, and a look that  says “Pay no attention to the open garbage can behind me. Nothing to see here.”

This weekend I painted the front door and bought pumpkins, because ’tis the season for front-porch decorating. I also added the sign, which says, “No Soliciting. While I appreciate that it is an election year and you are passionate about your candidate, I have zero interest in discussing politics with strangers. Thanks!”. Here’s hoping it works.

As I was typing this post, Brendan came in and said “It’s raining and the sun is shining, go outside take a picture for your blog!”. Thanks for looking out for me, m’dear 🙂

This is one of my favorite streets in the neighborhood. Red brick road, enviable gardens, porch swings, and flags galore- I smile every time I walk here.

Made it my mission to take a walk yesterday and get a closer look at this church. We can just barely see the blue onion domes from our house, so pretty!