Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I've done a lot of thinking lately, and I've come to a rather obvious revelation, an oxymoron if ever I heard one. You know the kind, it suddenly pops into your mind, usually after rolling around in there for some time like a marble finding a place to finally rest, and you think, Wow! That is so incredibly true! ...Wait, why didn't I ever realize this before? Of course that's the case.

So here it is. Get ready:

I absolutely have the power to change things I don't like about my situation.

That's my obvious revelation. Now, the details of it remain much more complex. The change may not (probably won't) come quickly or easily. Perhaps it won't come about in the way I'd prefer or even in the way I expect. But I am not helpless. I have intelligence, I have resources, I have people who support me, and I can and should use all of these if I want to get out of my current situation. It goes along with my guiding word for the year. I will try to remember that every day; as a habit, I'm more productive when already busy, so I have to work to make sure this gift of time doesn't work against my natural inclinations.

With all of this as well comes the Serenity Prayer: While I have that power, I must remember there are things I cannot change, and I must work to recognize the difference. I can do that.

All of you can do it, too, just in case there's anyone out there who doubts it. What routes have you taken to figure out your own situations? I'd love to hear from you. Or just think about it for yourselves. I think I'll list a few here just to remind myself and come back to:

1. I have the power to get myself employed. I have people I know; a college degree that, despite what the news and cynical people claim, isn't a handicap; the Internet to learn new skills and find possibilities; and the drive to do so.

2. I have the power to control my health. I know what to eat and in what amounts. I've chosen to use funds to go through an online boot camp with a friend who's a registered nutritionist and a certified personal trainer. I have the desire to live a long and active life for myself and those I love.

3. I have the power to improve my happiness. I'm not saying I'm unhappy. I just have things in my life that I want to make more of, like cultivating friendships and doing things that truly enrich me. Easy to do.

I've been reading the latest Stephen King lately, and the main character, Dan Torrance (it's a sequel to The Shining, in case you didn't know), deals with alcoholism and a lot of AA meetings. King, having gone through addiction himself, writes well about the tenets of living a life of sobriety and AA's various steps, sayings, and methods for staying sober. I'm finding a number of them coincide with my recent thoughts. There's a part of me that believes I'm meant to read this book right now, at this time in my life: I haven't devoured a book like this in a long time, and I find myself more introspective than usual lately. Perhaps King's writing about the ability to connect with others through, shall we say, less-than-conventional means rings true for me lately in its own way, if that makes any sense. I just feel this book wasn't on the library shelf by accident. Lately I've had an inexplicable flow of positive going through me, so I'm not going to question it; I'm going to ride it. Even the form email I received today from the University at Buffalo stating I wasn't chosen to move on to the next round for a job I truly wanted and knew I'd do well at didn't entirely deter me. I'm bummed, definitely, but I know those jobs often get filled internally or by someone with connections. So it wasn't mine to have. Some other one is.

And a job encompasses just part of who I am, really. So I'm off to harness this positive energy, wherever it comes from, and see what happens.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 wrap-up

Yes, here we go, the re-evaluating of a year. In years past I've done this by looking at old blog entries, but there aren't so many of those for various reasons, so I'll rely upon my memory. 2013 brought my family a number of ups and downs, including job loss, grandma loss, ear tube surgery for J, glasses for J, job frustrations (for T and me), re-budgeting, various fears.

It also brought continued health and weight loss for T and me, language leaps and bounds for J partially due to the surgery, visits from Papa, a growing cousinly love between J and C, new opportunities and career paths for me, a new nephew, a future new niece or nephew, growing and renewed friendships, kindness from all corners during a difficult time, a new car (I always hear Don Pardo from The Price is Right saying that), a chance to sing in a choir again, a fun recurring ladies' potluck, and lots of other things.

So while some major events may have overshadowed the last quarter of my year, most of it really went pretty well, and I need to remember that. R, I didn't fill in my Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude as diligently as I could have, and I think that's symptomatic of how I approached some of my year. But when I remembered, it definitely reminded me that even in dark days we have small points of light.

I try to make New Year's Resolutions, as everyone does, and I read today that only 8% of people keep them. But that same reading pointed out that if we focus on goals, which help us aim for something to change our current situation, as opposed to resolutions, which are about changing something about ourselves, we have a better chance of making them happen. The article also made two points worth mentioning:

1) State everything in the positive. For example, don't focus on saying you want to lose weight; think about it in terms of becoming healthy (and having weight loss as a side effect of that) through eating and exercise.

2) Come up with a guiding word for the year. Instead of a resolution, think of a word that can guide your actions and lead you to your goal. That way, you can apply it to everything you do throughout the year. It's not nearly as constricting as a resolution.

I have a tendency to sometimes think in negative terms, unintentionally. For example, I'll want to take a trip to see friends out-of-state and think of all the reasons why it can't happen. Part of me wants to convince myself that I do this in order to list the negatives in order to figure out how to overcome them, but I don't always work in that last part. It can be something as simple as, "I want to renew my friendship with X!" and then I think, Well, but we're both so busy; she rarely answers her phone; T's out that night and I don't want to spend money on a sitter....and then I don't do it. I don't mean to beat myself up; this line of thinking doesn't comprise my overall M.O. It just happens too often.

So in keeping with that, my choice for my guiding word is POSSIBLE. What can I do to make something work? What are the possibilities? If one route won't work, will another? And so on. So I want to make 2014 the year of what is possible and what I can do to make that happen.

Because, really, the -- you know -- are endless.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Still here

Heyyyy, folks. I figure that now that I'm pursuing a more writing-based career, I should really...write. There's just so much that has gone on, but I'll try to recap the big events since April:

  • 6th wedding anniversary for DH and me
  • J turned TWO at the end of June and I still can barely handle it
  • On August 28, in the morning, J got tubes in his ears because it turns out that the grandparents' suggestion of actually getting an ENT to look at them proved vastly important because...he needed tubes
  • On that same day, in the afternoon, my former employer let me go. Quite the day, although T pointed out that he'd rather J had a good day and I had a bad one, and I couldn't disagree
  • Almost immediately after the surgery, J had a major language explosion. Roosters that formerly said "dat-dee-dooo!" now say "cock-a-doooo!" or even "cock-a-do-doooo!" Funny enough, we parents miss the first one, although we're ecstatic that he's come so far. He speaks more in full sentences and knows how to ask for things properly, although he'll still try, "Milk? Milk? Milk" on repeat.
  • He also now has glasses and they look pretty cute, plus he realizes they help him see, and it's en entirely new world.
  • I've started to look once again at my career path and where it will take me
That last part has remained pretty daunting for so many (obvious) reasons. As of January 1, we have to find money to pay for day care ($1000/mo) and health care -- I have supported Obama thus far, but from what we've gleaned for ourselves, "affordable care," my ass. It's all very real and very frightening. I'm fortunate to have a few nibbles as of late, and I'm hopeful that if I keep plugging and networking, something will come up. Never have I realized so fully that I'm simultaneously the master of my own destiny and at the mercy of other people: Nobody's going to give me a handout -- although we have had tremendous generosity thrown our way -- I need to reach out to anybody who can help and keep up my skills and learn new ones. Maybe I'll end up somewhere different than I had expected, but so many of us take only one path in life, that it's a bit exciting, even while it's frightening.

And I know I can do it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I apologize for the unintentional hiatus--my friend Rachel sent me a sweet message asking how I was doing and mentioned I hadn't updated the ol' blog in a while, and I thought I'd get on it. It actually coincided with a recent thought that I, indeed, had something I felt like blogging about. Life has moved at a rather hectic pace lately, and I just didn't feel inspired/like I had the time to update, but I realized I have some very worthwhile points to throw out to my readers.

Pride has so many layers. Religion/society/your mother/yourself all tell you not to be prideful in terms of boasting. It goeth before a fall and all that. I think that's mostly with tooting your own horn--and if you've done something that's truly terrific and worthwhile, toot away. That's the other side of the coin: Pride gets such a bad rap that too many of us duck our heads and stay quiet about our accomplishments. Today I want to gush about my boys because I think they deserve it. I'm going to play the role of proud wife and mama.

To start, T has done so much, so well over the last seven months. From when his Transitions Life System program started in September, he's lost almost 90lbs. He looks fantastic and feels even better. Thank goodness for consignment shops--we have an entire wardrobe's worth of clothes to give them, and he's found some great pieces that actually fit right since his old clothes practically fall off. From that he's gained health and a self-confidence that I always knew hid somewhere inside him, waiting for the right catalyst to come forward. I find it so gratifying when T looks at himself with this expression of pleased awe; as he told me recently, he still doesn't recognize his own reflection. But he will because this is who he is. He's even signed us up for a 5K in June, something neither of us has done on foot (as opposed to a rowing machine, which is where we did most of them) in a loooooong time. I see a new light in his eyes, and I'm just so proud I could burst.

Now onto Mr. J. Sure, parents sing their kids' praises, but I truly do think J has earned them even with my significant bias. In February he had a major speech therapist diagnosis where it came out that his expressive (spoken) speech indicated a "moderate" delay (he was behind by about five months), but his receptive (understood) speech was actually ahead for his age, which told us that he understood plenty but just didn't say much. Had it been the other way around, we would have had cause for worry. He works with a speech therapist at day care twice a week, and he's made significant progress--even the therapist said so, so it's not just Mommy projecting her hopes. He's reached that stage where if one us points to something and ask him to repeat it, most of the time he'll try...and most of the time he'll come out with something recognizable as what we said. I never thought the word "waffle" could give me such excitement.

Yesterday also gave me a big reminder of how far J has come: Another boy in his class, P, on his second day there, had the sudden realization that yes, he was going to be in this new place ALL DAY and Mommy and Daddy weren't coming for him. First day was fun; second day was the reality check, poor guy. When I came in, I saw the little guy sobbing in the teacher's arms, wailing for "mama," and it reminded me of J's extremely rough transition to day care. We had two weeks where he'd cry for almost half the day and freak out when other kids touched him. Now when I drop him off, he barely has time to say "bye-bye" because he's busy with his toys or the books or his buddies. I wanted to call the parents up and assure them that their little P would make the adjustment. While of course I have that part of me that feels bad that I can't be with him, he truly has flourished from spending so much time with other kids and his teachers. Again, my heart fills with pride.

So I think I've successfully acted as cheerleader for my boys.  I've supported them and done what I could from my end, but ultimately they've done all the work.

Monday, February 25, 2013

(Secret?) Identity

Last week at work I noticed one of my younger co-workers (she's in her early 20s) anxiously looking at a bottle of salad dressing, wondering just how long it had sat in the refrigerator and whether she could safely put it on her lunch. I asked to take a look at it and reassured her it hadn't gone bad and that she could safely use it. She replied, "Thanks, I just needed a mom to tell me it was OK to eat."

That struck me and gave me a huge smile. Of course, I'm still trying on this mantle of motherhood and feel like a complete newbie at least half the time. I haven't done it with my own child for too long, although I've always tended to mother my former students, my friends and my younger sisters (in both loving and hectoring ways, truthfully). Yet this marked a first, probably because this co-worker has only ever known me as somebody's mother. She didn't know me before I had J; to her, my identity has always included that of a mom. And because of that, I have the power to accurately and safely gauge condiment edibility. I could have told her that the dressing was safe, had I known her two years ago, but this whole motherhood gig gives me added cache.

I thought about it, and I believe, to some extent, that rings true with me. For example: I need to get my engagement ring fixed. Who will I ask about the best place to take it? My mother and my mother-in-law. Whom do I call when I get sick (aside from dear T, of course)? Mom. When my sister M had her daughter five months before I had J, I tended to call her first with my newborn questions--after all, she knew what to do. And she probably felt about two steps ahead of me in her own Mom Knowledge, if that.

I'm not saying in any way that women without children don't have authority. Some of the most motherly women I know don't children of their own and give excellent advice, and I know some mothers I wouldn't trust to tell me water is wet. But for good or ill, me having J has apparently imbued me with an invisible badge of Experience and Knowledge. I'll do my best to earn it.

Now, wear your hat--it's cold outside. Yes, I can fix that; I just need some string. And don't worry--a little baking soda and vinegar should get that stain right out.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Type-A Woes

So I'm trying to streamline my Pinterest boards with regard to food. So far, I've created "Slow Cooker Recipes", "Soups and Stews", and "Desserts". I think I also created something about "Sides".

But where to go next? Vegetarian/Chicken/Beef? Salads and Appetizers? Make that two categories? Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner? Just how narrow do I make this? I will take suggestions, people.
How on earth do you organized folks do this all the time? I find myself getting actually concerned about this, and slightly paralyzed. I'm only half-joking. And yet, I do love the feeling of organizing. It's sucked me in. Hell, I've even tried to do CleanMama's routine of cleaning: Bathrooms on Monday, dusting on Tuesday, vacuuming on Wednesday.... Except I got home yesterday at 6, ate with my dad who's in town, and then plopped down on the couch because I just did not want to vacuum (or exercise) at 8pm. I had a sore throat, a lot on my mind, and zero motivation. So I sat down, started the DVR (Once Upon a Time--it's a little silly, but I love it), and crushed a bunch of Goldfish, which do not fall anywhere on good food for my eating plan.

I guess I have to forgive myself and take a day off, and recognize that organizing a bit at a time actually takes time to set up, but once in place, it works.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

As Others See Us

I put this together for my company blog, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

Every day we wake up, rub the sleep out of our eyes, and make a decision about...what to wear. Some of us plan ahead and lay out the clothes the night before in order to avoid that last-minute rush that can end up surprisingly agonizing (and time-wasting): Khakis or cords? Dress or pants? Why is it that the ONE SHIRT I want has disappeared from my closet?!? Don't even get me started on shoes.

Some simply throw on whatever's right at hand and...cleanish. But for others, that choice can inform the entire day. We base it on weather, mood, places to go that day (meeting? yoga? lazy Sunday?), who we'll see. Clothing is an extension of how we view ourselves and how we want others to view us. More than once I have looked at strangers walking by and wondered, "What process did he use to put that exact outfit together? What went through his mind?" This question arises for choices that range all the way from gorgeous to spectacularly bizarre.

I have just entered the world of advertising and marketing as an insider and not merely a consumer. Yet I realize that I've asked those same kinds of questions of certain ads I've seen, although it often goes along the lines of, "If they chose this ad, what on earth did they leave on the cutting room floor?" That, combined with the sheer volume and quality of work my colleagues put in to make sure their clients get exactly what they want, makes me realize anew just how much stock we put in perception. Whether it's choosing the color of one's socks or what font to make a tagline in an advertising campaign, each resembles a specific choice made by someone (or many someones) to promote a certain look. With clothing, sometimes we only focus on how we perceive ourselves; with marketing, a firm creates something for an entire, often very specific audience. 

As a proofreader and editor, I have the privilege of fine-tuning what my colleagues have successfully created, going over not just grammar and copy but also graphics and style so the vision--the desired perception--matches what the client wants. It's both exciting and daunting, as I often have the final say before it goes out into the world. So whether it's my own shoes or a new campaign for the Bills, I get to have a tiny bit of control over how others see that. And that's pretty amazing to me.