A challenge

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

This month has been a little too up and down for my taste. My emotions have been everywhere, my patience with Lena has been everywhere, and it’s time for some centering.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and the thing is, the things that I naturally gravitate towards to settle me, to regroup, just aren’t that happenin’. (Don’t worry, I’m not making excuses…yet.) Running, which I was doing for a while, unfortunately comes second to a busy workday, and Lena. I haven’t yet mastered the art of waking up at 6 to go running before she wakes up. That to me sounds a little more stressful than stress relieving. Knitting, which also was my go to stress reliever, is also not that easy of an option, because Lena doesn’t go to bed at a reasonable hour really, so bedtime, aka the best knitting time, 8-10, is really non-existent. Instead, it’s me counting to ten, fetching water, entertaining various stuffed animals that “just want to give mommy a hug”, and all-but-threatening my child with bodily harm to get her to just stay. in. bed.

What I have been doing instead, is, when I get home from picking Lena up from daycare, siphoning her off to Pops, go upstairs, change into sweatpants, watch an episode of Say Yes to the Dress, going back downstairs, helping briefly with dinner, coralling my kid into bath, fighting her into pajamas, and then finally succumbing to the battle that is bedtime. When she’s finally in bed, around 10:30, and asleep, I proceed to watch at least 3 hours of The Dumbest Show Ever, Yet Oddly Addicting I mean, “Say yes to the dress”, and going to bed, usually past 1, only to wake up the next morning, unrested and not any more ready to start the day than I was the night before. Which is to say, poor everyone that has to interact with me.

I’m slightly exaggerating the above situation. I do cook dinner sometimes. I do go grocery shopping for the fam, but I do just want to be honest for a second, and not pretend that I’m being overly modest nor overly self-deprecating. It is what it is.

So! I need to get back on track. Here’s how I’m going to go about doing it.

1. Walk up the stairs to work. I work on the fifth floor of my building. The stairs are in this beautiful open part of the building where all floors look down into the lobby. I never take the stairs up. Sometimes I take them down, but I’m just used to taking the elevator. It’s just, habit. Not necessarily a bad habit, just a habit. So this week (and I hope this week turns into a month, and then another month, and another), I’m going to walk up the stairs. It’s a little exercise, and it can’t replace running (which I’m still hoping to squeeze in on light days), but it’s a start. It’s also a way to prep my brain for work mode.

2. Cook dinner OR Play with Lena. This is a biggie. I can’t let myself immediately check out as soon as I get home, and the weather has been too gorgeous not to be outside and play with my daughter, or have some quality mother daughter time with my mother in the kitchen. No excuse.

3. No computer in bed. Gosh, Netflix is like, the greatest thing ever invented, right? Wrong. I find now I watch things just to watch something. Especially at night. Especially in bed, and there are all sorts of studies that say how bad it is to have technology right before bed. Holy shit this is right. I just bought “Tiny Wings” and I swear I’ve been dreaming about little birds with tiny wings and rolling hills. I honestly think that Say Yes to the Dress is a huge culprit in my crabby mood. I’m not saying that I’m actively trying to emulate stuck up women trying on and then buying wedding dresses that could be a substantial down payment on a house, but I’m starting to think that this is where it starts. Instead, I’m substituting with the a Craig Johnson book that my mom got on Audible. Also, I just finished Jennifer Egan’s, A visit from the goon squad and it was amazing. I had actually forgotten what it was like to not be able to put down an adult novel. I say “adult” because I will also admit that I read Sarah Dessen’s new book, Whatever Happened to Goodbye in one sitting. Or, as much as one sitting one can have with a three year old around.

4. Cook a vegetarian meal with Alex on a weekday. As a reward for being present with my daughter, I’m going to do myself a favor, and give myself a night off. This is also doing my parents a favor, who will not hesitate to admit it, but they would pretty much rather spend an evening with Lena alone than with me alone. A night off with Alex, plus cooking together. Al and I’s relationship started around food. One of the first text messages he sent me, after we made plans for L and I visiting, was to tell me that he had already bought shitake mushrooms, and would it be okay if we had a simple omlettte for dinner. Soon after, that boy wooed me with amazing lemon and leek risotto, this crazy pear salad with apple cider vinagrette, and the most wonderful crab cakes I have ever tasted. Which we both made. Together. Recently, discovering that we indeed have each other, we’ve resorted to eating…junk. One of our favorite meals with Lena is now, “Pizzawings”, which is when we order, you guessed it, pizza and chicken wings. I can hear Alex now, but it tastes so good… and it does, but it’s not…it’s not helping, let’s just say that. Plus Lena now asks for “the orange things”, because one day we bought a bag of cheetos on a whim. Alex is a great cook, and in Greensboro he’s surrounded by a wealth of exotic ingredients, so we’ve armed ourselves with berbere and injera, and we’re going at it.

Beginning to see a common theme between all of these things? Being more present. I’m seriously about to get that tattooed to my forehead. Be more present, Rachael.

Sometimes I think there’s this constant war going on inside of me. The part of me that wants to feel sorry for myself, that wants to buckle under the pressure, that wants to give up and let the current take me away. And that part is always fighting with the part that is telling me to be strong, stay strong, get over it, and move on. But I think there’s a third part. And that part is having trouble having its voice heard, because it’s got the quietest message, or, more likely, it just doesn’t quite know how to put into words what it’s trying to say. And I think what it’s trying to say is, It’s okay…it’s going to be okay…just go with it. Just go with it. And what kind of message is that, really? Drama-free, quiet, just…go with it.

So, I’m going with it, this week at least. And maybe by the end I will be able to hear that third part a little better. And maybe I’ll even learn a thing or two.


Focus on the good stuff

March 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lena accidentally dumped a bunch of dirt in the bath tonight, immediately got out and then declared, I’m angry.

I started to towel her off, and she corrected herself. No, I’m disappointed.

Because of the dirt getting into the bathtub? I asked. Yes, Lena replied. I’m sad.

Whenever Lena gets like this I have to try not to laugh, because of course her emotions are valid, but a little-baby-big-girl, pink from a hot bath, getting towel-dried declaring that she is disappointed is really quite hilarious.

And I was thinking how proud I was of Lena, and of the way that she expresses herself, and I started thinking of all the adjectives that she uses to describe her feelings. Happy, sad, frustrated, angry, disappointed.

See anything wrong with this picture yet?

We have more words for “negative” emotions than positive ones. Lena’s definitely said she’s happy, or very happy, or really happy, and if you ask her if she’s excited, she’ll say yes, and yeah, she’s small, so it makes sense that she doesn’t spend a large amount of time walking around saying, “I am proud”, “I am confident”, “I am enjoying this quite satisfactorily.”

Why are we like this? It seems like it’s easy to criticize, it seems like there’s more words for the negative. Even in things like teachers evaluations. If my professor was good I would maybe, maybe stick around and finish the evaluation, unless I had something better to do, but for the bad ones, I would sit there and, with relish almost, enumerate all the things that went wrong. Adjectives that were easy to write: incoherent, unoriginal, boring, irrelevant. And for the good ones? Good.

Good. Happy. Nice.

Okay, Lean. New goal. More descriptive about positive things. Positive emotions, positive things that happened during the day.

(Although, in reference to the latter, it’s not like I come home and just complain bitterly about my failed PCR reactions. Description: poorly designed primers, wrong magnesium concentration, too short annealing time.)

Gosh, life is such a lesson in balance, isn’t it?

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