Sunday, February 28, 2010

progress in fits and starts

I had a few New Year's goals. We're a few months into the year, so it's time to check in on how I'm doing.

I wanted to exercise more. I now power-walk for 20-30 minutes, 5 times a week. I do a yoga/balance/strength program on my WII at least 3 times a week, at least 20 minutes a session. Now, when I don't get walk, or my workout, I actually miss it. I feel a little more fit, a little stronger. On the down side, I haven't lost any weight. As a matter of fact, I have gained a few pounds. This is not unusual for me when I add exercise to my normal routine. Hopefully, I will start to see some weight loss in the next few weeks.

I wanted to spend less. I did great on this for a month or so. We got our income tax refund, and I "relaxed", which resulted in some extra spending. I am going to try to be really good for the next few weeks, up until our vacation, and then again when we get back.

I wanted to be more patient. This has been an epic fail. Work got busy, then stressful, then a little more stressful. We had a lot of bad weather, which limited my mobility. So I've been cranky, tired, stressed, and short-fused. I'm trying though. I really think the key for me is sleep. If I get a decent night's sleep, I have some reserves to draw on, and I'm easier to deal with. If I don't sleep, I just don't seem to have the energy to control my irritation.

So, progress, in fits and starts. And lots of year left to keep moving forward.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

a good time

Usually, I think of a good time as a transitory thing. Like, I went to the movies and had a good time. Or we went over to a friend's house and had a good time. But I mean it in a broader sense.

This is a good time in my life. I am comfortable with who I am, and how I am. I love where I live, have a good job, a happy marriage. Our son is a pleasure, and watching him grow is a joy. School has done what I hoped it would do for me, and I feel energized by my classes and classmates. I have good friends, and my circle is expanding. We have enough of everything.

This might sound like I am building up to a "but" -- I'm not. I'm just feeling reflective and full and content. And that's a good time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


You know how people say that they can't remember it ever snowing so much? Well, this time it's true. We have gotten 36 inches of snow since Friday. We have gotten more than 73 inches of snow this winter. This shatters the old record for a season's snowfall, by more than 10 inches.

By any yardstick, we have gotten a record snowfall. So what does it mean? For us, it means a change in schedules. Our son doesn't have to go to school. He has not had a full day of school since last Thursday. And he won't go back to school until next Tuesday. Monday is President's Day, so the schools were going to be closed for that anyway. I went to work briefly on Monday, but my office has actually been closed since Friday morning. My husband's schedule has been unchanged -- he telecommutes, so no snow days for him.

It means a change in mobility. I got stuck trying to get out of the neighborhood on Sunday, despite being in a large SUV with 4-wheel drive. Monday, I managed to get out, but the drive was so treacherous that it took 45 minutes to go 7 miles on local streets. I got the car back home and haven't moved it since. Right now, our street is again impassible. We haven't been plowed, and there is just too much snow to get out.

It means being more careful. I did get out and get groceries on Monday. But we do have to watch things like milk, because we don't know when we can get more. We can't run out for bread, or a missing ingredient for dinner. We have to eat from what we have on hand. We had to stock up on water, and batteries, in case of power outages.

It means being more thoughtful. Both in the sense of taking care of each other, and of neighbors, but also in the sense of thinking before doing. We can't forget gloves, or wear the wrong boots. We can't forget to wear a hat. We have to think carefully about where to walk, how far from home we can go. We have to think about where the dog can get to, and how to keep him from making a dent in his healing process.

It has its pluses. Time is different; less frenetic, less scheduled. We have spent more time with the neighbors than we usually can manage. There is a sense of us all being in it together. We can't spend tons of money, because there just aren't that many places open. We are getting plenty of exercise shoveling snow and walking through drifts. I'm caught up on my reading for class. I have some time to read for pleasure. I've tried a lot of new recipes. I sent in our taxes.

I still can't wait to get back to "normal". I like to be able to get out, even if I have no where I want to go. I just like knowing I have the choice.

Monday, February 08, 2010

community vs neighborhood

I have always lived in neighborhoods. Only when we moved to Baltimore, did I find a community. And only by living in one, have I begun to understand the difference.

This week, we got 26 inches of snow. Normally, a snowstorm of 5-6 inches completely paralyzes the city. We have yet to see a snowplow. But one neighbor used his snow blower to clear part of the road. And everyone pitched in to shovel enough of the road clear to make the street semi-passable. Our neighbor got stuck trying to get out, and we helped dig him out. I got stuck, and several neighbors pitched in to dig me out, to push my car; one even took over the wheel, since she had more experience getting unstuck than I did.

Another neighbor threw a pot luck dinner for the community. No one could get out and shop, or prepare, but we somehow all came together and came up with a buffet. We had a good time.

We shared tips on what local businesses had milk, or break or what restaurants were open.

We care about each other. We look out for each other. And that is what makes this a community, and not just a neighborhood.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

repeating a cycle

I rarely blog about work, and this is only indirectly about work. Mostly it is about a recurring pattern in my life, and what that means.

When I took my current position, it was mostly to achieve a better work/life balance. I work at a university, and the standard work week in my grade is 37.5 hours a week. The job also came with stellar benefits, including tuition for me, and eventually, tuition for our son. This is invaluable, as I am not much of a saver, and I want college to be something that our son doesn't have to worry about.

So, I took a job that was not an upward move. It was actually a step or two backward. Something I could do during the day, get decently compensated for, and leave at the door when I went home.

But. Here's where the recurring pattern rears its ugly head. Whenever I take a job, it starts growing and growing and growing. I end up with major deadlines, big responsibilities, begin working more and more hours. I end up as a mission critical piece of the business. It gets harder to take time off, harder to juggle work and life. Every time.

I am no rocket scientist, but when a pattern recurs with regularity in your life, you have to start looking at yourself as the cause. Its like women who keep dating jerks. One jerk is an accident, two jerks is unfortunate, three jerks is YOU. So here I am, again in a bigger boat than I left shore with. Part of my pattern is to change jobs once I have turned my nice comfy job into a nightmare. I can't jump ship this time. I have that tuition grant coming up, and we need it for our kid. I like the other benefits. And the pattern will just repeat somewhere else, until I figure out why. Why do I do this every time? What need am I meeting? What is it about me that causes the pattern?

I sometimes feel like Boxer in Animal Farm. For every need, I just say "I will work harder" and add another task to my plate. And you know how he ended up, with a trip to the glue factory....