Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Busy Again: A Joyous Update

It seems the busier I am, the more I blog...

But I have great news to share. I got new jobs!! (Yes, plural. Lol. But neither said they could guarantee a lot of hours. I've got my monthly mortgage to pay, so I accepted both offers.)

It was time to go back to work. 

I am deeply grateful that I was able to take time to rest and reset after my last two job experiences, both of which were extremely negative. There were no covid precautions at one (and this was before vaccines) and I was lied to and called a liar at the other. So after that, as well as after enduring infertility, failed fertility treatments, an entry-level graduate program with unsupportive and toxic professors, my divorce, and five moves in the last six years... 

I needed a break.
So I took it.

But after my break, I am broke. Ha! 

Not poor. I would never say that. I have a home, food, and love in my life. I am not poor.
But I am broke. And just a little bit bored. So I am really happy I get to go back to work.

I started my first job yesterday. It's at a nursing home. So far, I love it!!

I start my second job next week. It's at a hospital. I'm looking forward to that too. Which is funny... Because I *hate* hospitals. But providing patient care gives my life meaning and I really enjoy it. I like helping people feel better and get home. Home is where I always want to be, and I'm sure my patients feel the same way.

So my new direction for my new career is off to a start! I am working with adults, and I have a ton to learn. That will keep me busy. In addition to my post-professional doctoral program.

I'm also feeling good because, after not quilting for three months, I felt inspired this past weekend. I went to a quilt meeting last week (masked, of course, I'm still being cautious even though my family literally calls me crazy but that's a post for another day... or not) and made myself sign up for a workshop in a couple of months. I picked up a handout about the pattern and went home to pick out fabric for it. I am so excited to make this pattern and learn new techniques.

So, I am excited. And I'm also tired. Hahaha. I always seem to be tired... Such is life. But the end of this semester is very challenging. I am having to dig deep for discipline to get my last assignments completed. I still have a major project that I need to somehow get done over the next two weeks. While I learn my new jobs... With a long commute. But that's okay. We all know life doesn't work itself out in a nice, neat, and orderly fashion. I guess I'm just in a busy period. 

I'm glad it's full of good stuff at least. Work, school, and renewed inspiration.

I showed up to my first day of work yesterday and look what's hanging outside the office! This is a close-up picture of a hand sewn quilt made in 1905 that was donated to the facility. Wow!!

This is the fabric I've chosen for the main print for my next big quilt project.
Ok, in all honesty, my boyfriend chose it. I narrowed down my fabric choices and was leaning toward another one. But when I asked him for his opinion, he chose this one. He has a good eye for design, so I went with it. The pattern is for a queen size quilt, my biggest project yet.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

When Cleaning is Hard

I cleaned out more stuff today. 

I loaded up my six boxes of teaching stuff that I wanted to donate and headed to the homeschool curriculum swap. They let me set up a table and leave, only to return at the end to pick up what wasn't taken. I wasn't charging money for anything, so I didn't really need to be there. 

Of course, while I was setting up some moms stopped by my table and asked me questions. It surprised me how quickly I could jump back into "teacher mode" and start spouting off foundational skills for reading and writing. One mom said, "I feel like I should be writing all of this down." At one point, as I was describing phonological awareness, decoding, and sight words, I felt the room go silent. I could almost feel everyone turning an ear my way. But hey, I taught for a long time. I know what I'm talking about.

But... I also had to get out of there. It was a room full of homeschool moms and their children. It was a room full of people living out my dream. I really, really wanted to homeschool. My friends all told me that my kids wouldn't want to be taught by me. And if they didn't, that would have been okay. I would have found a different teacher or enrolled them in a public or private school.

But I didn't even get to try it. 

Dream big. But also, dream multiple dreams. Not every dream works out.

I came home, felt melancholy, ate my delicious Mexican food leftovers, and waited... After several hours passed, I got back into my car and drove back to the church where the event was being held. I packed up the materials that nobody wanted and brought them home. And threw them away. Maybe I should have donated it... Maybe I should have worked on finding homes for it all...

But, no, I did what I should have done.
Which was protect my mental health.
Which was getting rid of that stuff immediately.

We've been having some home repairs done on our 100+ year old house this past month, so we happen to have a dumpster sitting in our front yard. So everything went straight from my car into the trash. No regrets. I wasn't going to save the planet single-handedly by hanging onto that stuff until I found someone who wanted it. But I did save myself.


As if that wasn't enough for one day... There was one more box of stuff just sitting in our laundry room, stuff unrelated to teaching and that I wanted to keep. So I decided to find room for it. I took the box into my sewing/guest room and realized my bookshelves were full. But I also realized there was still a shelf full of pediatrics. It's like my stuff had babies! Apologies for that metaphor. 

So, I found myself pulling everything off the shelf and going through it. I set the good stuff aside for a friend and threw the rest away. I texted my friend and asked, "Can you stand one more box of school stuff? I found some more." Thankfully, she wants it and I'll mail it as soon as I can. 

The rest of it went in the trash. I love that ugly dumpster sitting on my front lawn.

And then, predictably, I cried.

I cried because I didn't get to raise my children. I cried because I'm so good at teaching, but it literally doesn't cover my bills. I cried because it's the end of the semester, it's hot, I'm sad, and I'm just plain worn out. The cry session only lasted a couple of minutes because, like I said, I'm worn out. I'm too tired even to cry.

So it's gone. Ok, ok, I admit I kept a couple of boxes of stuff that I couldn't part with. I don't know why. Maybe I'll use the stuff with my boyfriend's sister's kids when they get older. Maybe I'll donate it all a decade from now. But, for the present, it's in the shed in the backyard. 

There's no teaching or pediatric stuff in my house.

A purge indeed.

I'm glad.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

PTSD Persists

I'm feeling groggy and a bit melancholy this morning. I had nightmares all night. They were about IVF, my ex-husband, and two former friends I used to be very close with. It all sucked. 

I have not slept through the night in over three months. 

I haven't been officially diagnosed with PTSD, but I've had two different doctors tell me that they think I have it. The brain and heart can only handle so much... 

I have found what helps and that is THC. That should not be a controversial thing to share on a public forum, but, unfortunately, it is. It is still illegal according to federal law. And because of that status, I cannot consume it while I am on the job market. All of the jobs I'm applying for conduct pre-employment drug screens. Which includes screening for THC. Which angers me to no end. Gahhh I don't do drugs!!!

It is not my employer's business if I choose to eat a gummy before I go to bed. It is not my employer's business if I choose to smoke and quilt on a Saturday afternoon. Just like I would not drink a beer before going into work, I would not consume THC before going into work.

And speaking of, I am free to drink as much alcohol as I want. You know, the substance that causes anger, depression, intoxication, decreased motor skills, impaired driving, and leads to a lot, A LOT of fights? Yeah, I can drink as much as I want. No employers regulate that.

But I don't want to drink a lot. Unlike THC, even a couple of beers cause sleeping difficulties.
But, heaven forbid, I get a good night's sleep. 

My pain is real.
My losses are real.
My trauma is real.
And I am reminded every single night.

It sucks.


I will get through this. I always do.
I know how to tolerate extreme discomfort and incredible unfairness.

But I can barely wait to sleep again.

Picture found at 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Inspired in a Scholarly Way

I had the privilege of interviewing two CNBC women this week for my class project where I am exploring the experiences of women without children after failed IVF. The interviews were incredible. I received so much rich narrative data, and I could barely believe the trust these women put in me. They shared some of their most hard-earned knowledge, some of their most brutal years with me... All so I could get valuable practice with conducting qualitative research. To say I am grateful is an understatement.

I think I'm on to something. We've all been in agreement for years that women need and deserve so much more support after going through fertility treatments. Fertility clinics usually leave women like us hanging. We are forced to fend for ourselves. I think if the scientific community had published evidence to reference, then therapeutic programs could be developed. I believe it is a much needed area of support for a very marginalized, unserved population.

I am seriously considering taking this on as my capstone, the culminating research project required for my doctoral degree. If so, I will need you. I will need all of you. Not just those with experience with IVF failure, I want to include all CNBC women who have experienced infertility. I want to represent our international population. Even if you are not available or interested in being interviewed, you may know a woman who is. My other idea is to reach out to fertility clinics and see if I can recruit research participants there. I will need enough participants to conduct a pilot study. There is a lot to be planned out for an undertaking like this. I have a professor that I trust to help guide me in the process. Starting next semester, I will have a year to complete it. I think, like everything else, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and see what happens.

Picture retrieved from 

Monday, July 11, 2022

A Tsunami

Whoa. Saturday hit hard. Out of seemingly nowhere.

The wave metaphor for grief has always made sense to me. When you're first faced with loss, you are lost at sea holding on to whatever you can to survive. The waves are tall and relentless as they constantly crash down on you, throwing you underwater and making you lose all sense of direction. As time goes on, the waves get a little less tall and a little further apart. After awhile, you might even experience some brief respite of calm seas. The storm is still there, but it's not as bad.

Well, on Saturday there must have been an earthquake because I got hit by a tsunami.

(For the purpose of this post, I searched tidal wave v. tsunami to learn which was worse.)

Oh man, I don't remember the last time I felt like that...

I remember having a rough time in March, but this was worse than that. This was deep, guttural, primal, crushing, and devastating. And there was no way to stop it. No way out.

I think I know what caused the earthquake. There was a summer festival downtown. Vendors, food trucks, live music. It was fun. We went for a bit, got hot, came home, and returned in the evening where we sat outside at a brewery and had a couple of beers. 

There were kids. Cute kids playing in the grass, playing with dogs, playing with toys that they brought in a bag while their families enjoyed leisure time together outside in the setting sun. 

I hadn't been around kids since I left pediatrics in December. 

Nobody was watching them. Their parents were distracted by conversation. My eyes were glued to them. I was trying not to stare but one little girl looked a little too young to be climbing the short brick wall she had found. Once a teacher, always a teacher... I just couldn't help it.

The tears started before we even got home. We were walking and I warned my boyfriend, "I'm gonna cry." To his credit, he did a great job of trying to distract me, trying to get me thinking or laughing about something else. It just didn't work this time.

I wasn't very fun for the rest of the night. :(

I cried. And cried. And cried and cried. My eyeballs hurt.

If I'd had kids, I wouldn't be watching them 24/7, I know that. I don't judge those parents for enjoying their time with friends. Their kids weren't unsafe. No one was near a street and all the kids were playing nicely. 

I just wanted to have kids. Even though they'd be past the little kid stage by now.

It was a tsunami of grief. 

After the crying had run through my system, I went outside and lied down on the grass to look at the stars. Yes, I'm thankful and, yes, I like my life. But this was a moment of deep grief and there wasn't anything to do but to feel it.

I remembered that I used to live like this. This used to be how I felt every damn day.

I slept like a rock on Saturday night. I was still tired on Sunday. I felt hungover from grief. It wasn't from the beers. It takes more than a couple of light beers to do that. This was definitely from grief.

Today is better. Time marches on. I think it'll be a long time before I feel like that again.

Holidays I can count on. IVF anniversaries, no doubt. I can see those dates coming.
But days out of the blue? When the grief hits like a brick wall at top speed?

We do what we can. Sometimes we ride the wave. Sometimes we just do our best not to sink.

Friday, July 8, 2022

You Don't Have To Know

I saw the image below and immediately saved it to post here. I love it. I love the artist's everything. I signed up for her emails and look forward to receiving them. Here is her website. She has so many helpful images and worksheets.

It's true though. You don't have to have everything figured out. That's too much pressure!

Maybe you think I have everything figured out. I don't!! I post here AFTER I (sorta) figure (some) things out. Like I've written before, I just keep moving away from what I don't want and inevitably move toward things that I do want.

Klara and her blog has been one of my biggest inspirations. Eight years ago I was sitting for days on end drinking in my recliner, coffee all morning before I switched to beer. (I don't think I've honestly shared here before, but I was drinking too much back then.) I hadn't started fertility treatments yet. (I did cut back on my drinking during treatments.) But I figured I would try them. I also figured they wouldn't work. I never had confidence in treatments working for me; I was right. 

But back to Klara! I would read her blog, see her pictures of her beautiful walks in the woods with her dog, and think: That's what I want. 

Then I would look around at the empty house I bought for my children in the suburbs which I honestly hated in a city that was too big, too noisy, and too ugly for me and think: 

What the hell am I doing??

It took me two more years to change my environment. It took me almost three years after that to move to where I wanted to be (sorta, I was still in a city but in a different state at least). It took me that whole time to realize how lonely I was in my marriage and how my spirit was disappearing before my eyes. (This reduction in spirit was in addition to the trauma of infertility. I was lost in so many ways. Layers upon layers of being lost.)

So, yes, now I write about my happy home. My beautiful spot in this world. My new career that I love. My self-confidence. My joy that I feel. 

But I had no idea what I was doing on my way to get to this spot. I didn't have anything figured out as I put one foot in front of the other. I cried basically the whole way here. I still cry often. 

I don't have everything figured out. 

It's important to me to share that. You may be sitting there, reading my blog, and think, "Well, it's easy for Phoenix to say. She has it all figured out." Nope. No, I don't. Not one bit. 

And that's okay.

I find a lot of comfort in the fact that I am not in charge. That would be too much responsibility.

But if you like what I write, if you desire to like your own life, take what resonates with you and use it as fuel. Move away from what you don't like. Wander around. Try different things. 

You don't have to know what you're doing or where you'll end up. 

One thing is for sure: you won't end up where you are. And if where you are sucks (mentally, emotionally, geographically, whatever), why stay? You don't have to. 

Explore what you enjoy. Even if that sounds impossible, it's not. 

You and your life are worth it.

The view from my recliner now. 💜

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Great Purge has Begun

I have big personal news. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but it is to me. I have flooring in my bedroom!!! After living in my new home for a year, I can finally start to move into my bedroom. Well, once the spare parts that we ordered to put together our bed frame arrive... We lost the necessary nuts and bolts sometime over the last year. Whatever! After waiting a year, I can wait another week or two.

It's a two-bedroom house so we've had our mattress on the floor in the extra room. It hasn't been too bad. But, I am so excited to finally unpack and put the house together. Eventually... Nothing happens overnight.

So the floor was installed this past Saturday. On Sunday, I felt inspired. Now that we have a floor, we have more room, and we can start shifting stuff around. This means I am one step closer to moving out of my storage unit. (You know, all the stuff I packed up in 2015 and then moved across state lines in 2018.)

But back to my inspiration on Sunday... 

While I have a bunch of stuff in boxes in a storage unit four hours away, I also have a bunch of stuff in boxes here. And on Sunday I went through all of my teaching materials. Twenty years of books and curriculum flashed before my eyes in four hours.

If you are a teacher, you know what I am talking about. You just don't get rid of your teaching materials. You hang on to it all. Tightly. It takes decades to build your inventory of resources. Plus, they don't make stuff like they used to. And all that time and money you've invested into your collection? Well, there are many reasons why every teacher's garage is overflowing with boxes.

But I'm not going to teach anymore. I am not going to work in pediatric healthcare either. And we all know I am not having kids. As of this past Sunday, I could start to get rid of all of my kid stuff. 

So I did.

And it felt great!

Some of it was trash, but most of it was in good condition. I set aside a box of stuff for my boyfriend's sister who has two little kids. I packed three boxes for my friend who just started her career in education. And I packed five boxes full of donations. And wouldn't you know it?? I went to the shipping store today to mail the four boxes I packed for friends and there, on the front door, was a sign advertising a homeschool curriculum swap in a couple of weeks. Perfect!! Now I know where my donation boxes are going.

Beautiful timing. All of it.

I kept some stuff, of course. I couldn't get rid of ALL of it. I have a box of resources and a couple of boxes of kids books. ;) Maybe in another year I will pass that stuff along too. Maybe I won't.

And there's more in storage. Ohhh there's more. So. Many. Kids Books. But at the very least, I can take those to the library for donation. Or the local elementary schools. New teachers always need books. I will find homes for all of the good stuff. 

The great purge has begun!

Here's somewhat of a throwback that my fellow Gen Xers will appreciate! 
Um, yes, I kept this for myself. ;)

And here's a picture of my new floor! A clean slate for my new life in my new home!! (When you've moved as much as I have throughout life, a year in a new place is still considered new.)

Friday, July 1, 2022

When I Feel the Emptiness

There is an emptiness inside me and yesterday it really ached. I don't know why, but the news has been incredibly stressful lately. Scary. Nonstop. Maybe that's what exacerbated the feeling.

I recognized the feeling. It's a longing. It's an urge to nurture, to mother, and there's nowhere for me to put this feeling, this energy. It makes me sad. It makes me cry.

I love my life. I really do.
I love myself, my home, and my partner. I love what I do for work, and I love my hobbies.

But nothing will take the place of my children.
I really wanted to raise them. I really wanted to parent.

I shared my feelings with my boyfriend and he said we could get a dog. This was not an offensive suggestion to me. I had the same thought. It would give me something to love and something to take care of. Even if I couldn't take it to sports practice and teach it how to read.

I know I can volunteer or work with children. Lots of kids (all?) need more happy, healthy adults in their lives. I like doing this, but it doesn't fill the unique emptiness that's inside me. It's not the salve that I need. Not even close.

So yesterday I drank my coffee, acknowledged my feelings, and shed some tears. I decided it was fine if I did nothing all day. Then I decided to do something anyway. What can I say, I was bored. Plus, I had a paper due. So I spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) writing. I'm glad I made myself work even when I didn't feel like it because I woke up this morning and I think my paper is done. On to the next assignment!

The emptiness stayed with me all day. Kind of a gnawing feeling. I thought more about getting a dog. It's been four and a half years since my beloved pup crossed the rainbow bridge. She gave me great joy and comfort. Maybe it is time for another. But I'm not rushing into anything.

I thought about how else I could manage the emptiness. And I thought about pouring into myself. Can I love and nurture myself? Can I teach and take care of myself? My kids might have only partially listened to me, but maybe I could listen to myself. Food for thought... 

It's the approach I'm going with for now.

Picture retrieved from https://poetryofliving.com/2018/11/10/emptiness/