Sunday, September 27, 2020

Taking Things Down a Notch

I need to slow down, do less, and rest more.
I don't want to maintain the level at which I've been operating. So I'm going to stop. :) 

I am going to lower my expectations. For myself and for others.
We cannot all be operating at 100% like everything is normal.

If I am this stressed out and tired, how do my students feel? Their parents? My co-workers? 
We are all freaking exhausted.

Yes, my bills still need to get paid. Yes, I need to go to work. Yes, I am thankful for my job. 

But no, no, no to most everything else and to anything extra right now. I can't do it. I cannot.
There's already too much to process on a daily basis. 

So here's my daily intention for this week:
Wake Up. Show Up. Be compassionate. Give 70%. Go Home.

I woke up early this morning to go grocery shopping before the store got crowded. I didn't really feel like it, but I am so glad I went. Now I have food for the week. I have housing. I have a job.
My basic needs are met. 

For this week, I am going to wake up and show up.
But I will not give away all of the energy that I have. I need a lot of it for myself.

Thank you, infertility, for my hard-earned understanding of how to take care of myself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

An Announcement at Work

I was at work a couple of weeks ago when a teacher stopped by my office to let me know there were donuts in the break room. It was good timing because I was hungry. 

(Disclaimer: I'm not eating food indoors with other people at the moment, but I decided it was low risk to go grab a donut and eat it outside real quick.) 

I went down to the break room and saw several boxes of a variety of delicious, decadent donuts. I was surprised because I was expecting glazed donuts, maybe chocolate iced at most. These donuts were fancier than your usual box from the grocery store. I surveyed the situation and decided on a cake donut with chocolate icing topped with pecans. Then I read the sign on the table: "You 'donut' have to ask; Baby Smith is due in March."

And you know what my first thought was? Honestly?

"Oh, that's a good way to do that."

That was my first thought. My first thought was so practical. I thought, well, that's a good way to let everyone at work know at once. Cute even. Considering we're at an elementary school. And it really was a good selection of donuts.

I thought for a second about how much an announcement like that would have caught me off guard, hurt me, and ruined my day just a couple of years ago but now it didn't. I'm glad for that. 

I don't even eat donuts all that often, but I definitely enjoyed that one. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Roller Coaster Living

 I've got a lot on my mind. Unfortunately, not much of it is positive. Let's jump in, shall we?

  1. I had a very upsetting phone call with my mom yesterday. We were talking about books and recipes and whatnot. I try to keep the topics pretty neutral because I don't need her criticizing me, lecturing me, or otherwise invalidating my thoughts, feelings, and/or experiences. But I couldn't do it yesterday. I couldn't do the surface stuff anymore. When she asked if I had any upcoming time off, I asked her if she was asking whether I had any upcoming time off or if I was going to be traveling during the pandemic. That was the opening into a conversation about what is really going on in the world.

    Long story short, we have completely different ideas about what taking precautions looks like and I don't think I'll be seeing anyone I'm related to anytime this year or even next. It's angering and sad. I thought it was a decent enough conversation and that she was listening as best as she is able to, but then she texted me later in the day about needing to see me for Thanksgiving. In her exact words she wrote, "There are worse things than Covid--like not seeing your kids!" 

    Pause. Pause.
    Let that sink in.

    My own mother disregarded my entire experience with infertility with one single statement. 

    I am so pissed. I can give her a list of a lot of things that are harder than not seeing your kids THAT YOU GOT TO HAVE AND RAISE. (And, yes, getting Covid IS one those harder things... So is not getting to have and raise your children at all.)

  2. My next point is somewhat related. It's about Energy Vampires. Unfortunately, I have a new co-worker that prompted me to find an old book I'd read, pull it from the shelf, dust it off, and begin reading it again. The book is wonderful and it has helped me a lot. It's entitled "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People" by Dr. Judith Orloff. She starts chapter 5, called "Protecting Yourself from Narcissists and Other Energy Vampires," by stating, "Energy vampires are attracted to the openness and loving hearts of empaths. Sensitive people need to be prepared for them." Yes, yes we do!

    I'm encountering a new-to-me phenomenon: people who are jealous of my hard work and want to steal my happiness and personal peace of mind. But again, I have infertility to thank for my new awareness of these predatory behaviors. Now I can see it happening before I'm already entrenched in a friendship. I know the counselor that I saw for a year and a half during my failed fertility treatments and my subsequent recovery from them would be so proud of me and my hard-earned progress.

    I noticed the "energy vampire" activity because I didn't feel good when I was around this person. Like, my stomach physically hurt. Then I would be extremely tired after being in the same room with them for an extended period of time. This person was constantly questioning my life choices (not having kids, not adopting, getting divorced, moving to this small town, etc.) and I thought it was extremely weird. I mean, I just met this person! Fortunately, I am so confident in everything I've done in the last 5.5 years of my life to get to this point that my confidence in my life decisions is unshakeable. Maybe this is the first time I have actually felt secure in my lifetime... Whatever it is, her questions began to really annoy me. They were tinged with judgement and I wondered if her obvious unhappiness was just as obvious to her. Regardless, I'm keeping this co-worker at a safe distance and reviewing protection strategies for myself from this wonderful book that I'm revisiting.

  3. I'm having surgery tomorrow. Yes, the saying is true. When it rains, it pours...

    (But I had to have a covid test before I could be approved for surgery, so I'm happy to know that I am not, as of this point, an asymptomatic carrier walking around and spreading the virus. I am really glad to know that.)

    It's not the hysterectomy procedure that I scheduled for early this summer and then canceled due to covid stress and moving across the state. I met with my new doctor. He's male, which was not my preference, but I instantly liked him so I decided to stick with him. He has a great bedside manner, listened to all of my concerns, and answered all of my questions. Together we decided that a LEEP procedure would be the next best step. He will receive a pathology report after the procedure and I will either be all clear or then we will schedule a hysterectomy. Hopefully, tomorrow's procedure removes all of the unhealthy cells!

So, in my humble opinion, that's enough for now. A somewhat estrangement from my family (Is it an estrangement if the other people don't even realize?), majorly negative vibes from someone at work, and a full blown procedure with general anesthesia tomorrow. 

It's all right. I'm not going anywhere. I'm resilient and strong. 
This world can't knock me down. I'm along for the ride!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Feeling Gaslit Again

Hello and Happy New Week. How are you? How are you really

Don't judge; just notice. Then reflect.

How are you taking care of yourself? How are you being productive? How are you having fun? 

(Yes! Getting out of bed, taking a shower, feeding yourself, and watching tv all definitely counts at this moment in time. You don't have to accomplish anything major. We cannot save the world right now, but we can somewhat save ourselves.)


Please let me draw another parallel between my experience with infertility and this pandemic:

I feel like I'm going crazy.

With infertility, it felt like a constant barrage of judgment from others. What are you sad about? You have all this free time! Think of all the money you will save. You can travel! Kids are a lot of work; you don't really have a clue what you're asking for (despite the fact that I had spent almost 10 years in the classroom working with everyone else's kids all at the same time, not on an individual basis like parents get to do). So many people refused to tolerate or even allow space for my sadness; it felt like no one was acknowledging my loss. I was being gaslit by friends, family, and society as a whole. 

And now we are all enduring a pandemic. And society is gaslighting me again. If it weren't for my boyfriend and fellow bloggers, I would think I was the only person taking the pandemic seriously. 

I am currently going to work because my school district is providing classes and services on campus for students who choose in-person school. That alone freaks me out. And I will be honest, I am one of the few that consistently wears a mask all day. Everyone else takes them off as much as they can. (District policy is you can remove your mask if you're more than 6 feet away from students. This lets teachers lecture at the front of the room so students can clearly see their mouth and facial expressions.) I'm starting a new job in a new town and I am the Weird Mask Girl. It's not that I think I will get it here. It really is a small town in a remote area. It's that there's a GLOBAL PANDEMIC going on and the virus doesn't care about anything. The virus just spreads. I don't want to get comfortable because, quite frankly, it's just not safe yet. But I definitely feel some hater vibes from a couple of co-workers and random strangers around town when I venture into the grocery store (I've been twice at 5:30 in the morning) or the convenience store (more expensive, but more convenient so I've been going once or twice a week).

Then I call my mom for our weekly chat. (It's a new thing and it is working out well. For those of you that don't know, my relationship with my mom is challenging but I want her in my life.) And I learn that my aunt is there visiting. Even my family is living like there aren't more than 6 million infected Americans! My oldest sister went and visited my mom two weeks ago. Her visit marked the FOURTH state she had been in in the past month. And two of those states have high positivity rates. I mean, she voluntarily got on a plane for a vacation ffs!! And then I call my mom and learn her sister/my aunt is now there visiting. Way to contain the potential spread, everyone...

What the hell is going on? Why is my own family disregarding basic precautions? Why do they think I am the unreasonable one for going to the grocery store at the crack of dawn and for refusing to go eat at a restaurant? For my family, this is typical though. I'm the cRaZy one, the overly cautious one, the one that's "too sensitive." But damn, in the middle of a pandemic??

I feel like, yet again, my family and society are gaslighting me. I feel like the world around me is trying to operate like it is pre-March 2020 and it dumbfounds me. It blows my mind. People really, really don't get it. And then I remember enduring infertility with very, very little support.

I guess people just can't stand to be uncomfortable.


I didn't know the skills I learned while figuring out how to cope with infertility would serve me so well during this extremely stressful time in our world. It's hard to say I'm thankful for infertility because it took from me what I desperately wanted: parenting and motherhood, but now that I am many years removed from the direct experience and I have worked incredibly hard on grieving and creating a life I want to live, I can appreciate who I am and what my life is post-infertility. 


As for me, I am doing... Okay. Pretty well probably. I require a lot of sleep these days so I go to bed early. But I am trying my hardest to learn my new job and do a good job while I'm at work all day. Then I come home, eat, and rest. On the weekends I sew. I am so grateful I found something that puts me in the flow where I can forget about the world for a bit. And then when I'm done, I have a comfy quilt to use while reading everyone's blogs. :)

Enjoy your week everyone! 💚💙💜

Take care of yourself, ignore the gaslighting, and do something you enjoy no matter how small.

    I finished my fifth quilt! 

I used: 
      • 10" squares, Lucky Day by MoMo for Moda Fabrics
      • 10" squares, White Paper Grunge by BasicGrey also for Moda
      • Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. Cake Mix Recipe #6 piecing paper
      • Quilters Dream Orient quilt batting. 

The precut fabric and piecing paper make it so easy! 

You put a piece of paper on top of two fabric squares and literally sew on the dotted line and cut on the solid line. You end up with great looking quilt blocks! For quilting, I did basic stitch-in-the-ditch around the blocks and tried decorative stitches on the borders for the first time. 

I just learned how to quilt last year so if it's something you are curious about, you can totally do it! It's not a hobby that requires perfection. Well, not the way I do it. I'm a sloppy quilter and will be for years because I am learning. ;) But quilting can be very relaxing.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Then Someone Asked Me

Haha it's been an interesting several weeks at my new job... 

I told you how I moved to a remote, small town and everyone here seems to have a lot of kids but that I met a co-worker who is also new to town and also does not have kids. Well, I had another interesting conversation with another new co-worker this week, and this time it was her asking me THAT question. It did not go as I would've predicted... In a good way. :)

Last Wednesday I went to meet a teacher in her classroom to help her figure out some paperwork stuff for her teaching license. I had recently gone through the process myself and, knowing how much new information she had on her plate as a fellow new employee to the district, I wanted to help relieve any stress I could. So, we were going through what she needed, making lists, and just casually visiting. 

Another teacher stopped by her classroom before leaving for the day. He looked extremely young. After he left, I jokingly said, "How old is he?? 12?" She laughed, said he was 24, and asked me how old I was. (It's even harder to tell ages when people are wearing masks.) I told her I was 40 and she said, "Oh good, I was afraid I was going to be the only person around my age but it turns out there's a lot of us. I'm 44."

Then she immediately asked me, "Do you have kids?" 

And of course I said no.

But it was what she said next that surprised me.

She said, "Me neither," and then she went on to share more. "For a long time I didn't meet anyone I wanted to have kids with. I never married. And then I was diagnosed with MS so I decided not to have kids. I wanted them, but I don't have them."

What. The. Hell.

Where were all these women during all of the years where I was severely depressed and constantly asked if I had kids and when I said no the conversation. Just. Ended. ???

Do I put out a different energy now? I'm sure getting older is one big contributor to the shift. Whatever it all is, I gladly welcome this change. I will never forget the trip I took to Las Vegas (of all places!) where it felt like every store I went into the person working there would ask me if I had kids and it would stab me in the heart. 

And now I've got women spontaneously sharing with me that they don't have kids even though they wanted them. Here and here. It's just incredible. And it's one more thing I don't take for granted.