Tag Archives: balance

Today: What a difference a year makes.

Oops.  This post is longer than anticipated. 

This time last year, I was wearing a very unattractive, very orthopedic boot thing, having tripped over Grace’s bouncy chair and subsequently broken a toe… just an hour and a half before my family showed up for Mother’s Day brunch at our condo. (Also: My parents were trapped at an airport somewhere, so the guest of honor wasn’t there to be showered with praise and gifts and affection… and to listen to me moan about my toe.)

Ready to party. Or something.

In addition to being temporarily physically crippled, I can’t say I was in the best shape mentally, or whatever, either.  I had been back at work (after a not-so-work-free maternity leave) for a few weeks, was getting up to nurse Grace every couple of hours, couldn’t find anything that fit (nor that matched the boot), and sort of had no idea what I was doing at any given moment.  Having people over to a mostly-clean home, serving mostly-edible food, and not having an entirely unexpected crying episode provoked by a diaper ad, or a cheesy song, or a faint, passing breeze felt like a major, major accomplishment.  

This time last year, I was second-guessing every decision I made, and agonizing over the longterm effects those decisions would have on Grace.  Was she eating too little?  Was she eating too much?  You’ll notice I wasn’t asking myself if she was sleeping too much, because… well… neither of us were sleeping.

I worried I was falling down (no pun intended… but sort of yes, pun intended because I really still can’t believe I tripped over that darn chair) as a wife.  I had no idea how I would manage my work responsibilities and my family responsibilities.  And how, on God’s green earth, was I ever going to get all the laundry done?  Would my body always feel so foreign (and lumpy)?  What would my first work trip away from Grace be like (Fortunately, I didn’t have the capacity at the time to imagine myself using a breast pump in a bathroom stall at the Detroit airport… but now I do.  And you do, too.  Sorry.)?  Would I ever see my friends again (this would likely require staying up past 7 PM)?  Would I ever have anything to talk about besides diaper pails?  Would every single drop-off at daycare feel so heartbreaking?  

It’s taken some time (and I don’t think my toe will ever be the same), but my goodness… What a difference a year makes.  I’m not perfect (you should see what I’m wearing) and life’s not perfect, but so much has changed for the better.  It’s amazing what a little time and confidence (and SLEEP!) can do.

Last weekend I had the chance to celebrate Mother’s Day with my parents and family on Saturday, and with Nick, Grace and Clark on Sunday.  And I felt calm.  And relaxed.  And happy.  And grateful.  And I couldn’t help but notice that life is sort of following the seasons this time around.  Not only is it actually (finally!) Spring, but I’m in the middle of my own transition of sorts.  And it’s full of (I almost said “blooming with”… but I stopped myself) promise and excitement and optimism and a “who knows what might happen?” sort of thing.

At the end of this week (though it’s been in the works for months… aren’t I a good secret keeper? Tell me everything!), I’ll be stepping down from my role at an organization I’ve been with for eight years to be home with Grace.  

I sort of always thought I would work (in the capacity I’ve been used to working, like, in an office).  And I am realizing now, as I make this transition, how much of my ego and self-worth have been tangled up in being busy.  And important.  And in charge.  I’ve also come to see, though, how much of my last eleven or so years have been spent moving from one mini-crisis to the next,  closing out the day with just barely enough energy to be a semi-normal, non-awful person. The good has far outweighed the bad (truly), though, I have loved my work.  I have loved the people I have worked with.  I have loved the people I’ve had the privilege of serving.  I have loved the challenges and the lessons and the surprises.

I know there will be pieces of all this that are not easy, but I also know how lucky I am to have options.  It took a lot of confidence and courage to make this choice, but I wouldn’t be able to make the choice if I didn’t have options.  I know this is not always the case.  Meanwhile, that new boss of mine?  She’s pretty cute.

Also On Tap for Today:

Looking back, what has changed most for you this year?

Today: Streamlining my mornings.

I have partnered with belVita and Dannon to help promote the belVita and Dannon partnership.  I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes writing about the promotion and product.  However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

For the past (nearly) three months, my routine has been… welp… a total lack of routine.  It seems like the second I started to get comfortable, and Grace and I had fallen into a pattern of sorts, things changed.  She started eating more.  Or less.  She started sleeping more.  Or less.  Morning was the best time for us to get out for a walk or do a few errands.  And then afternoon became a better time for that.  Some days I’d be showered, dressed and out on the town (or more accurately, cruising around Southie with Grace in her stroller or baby carrier) by 8:30 AM.  Other days, I’d be in pajamas until 8:30… PM.

The sole constant:  We’ve been figuring it all out together.  Me, Nick, and Grace (and Clark, but let’s be serious… he’s a go with the flow little guy).  Becoming a parent has been challenging, exhausting, and at times, overwhelming.  It’s also been the single most amazing experience, and I know I am better for it.  The time we’ve had together these past few months, and all of those transitions from one non-routine to the next, have been so special, so sacred.

Tomorrow we make our next big transition, as I head back to work and Grace begins daycare.  In a perfect world, we could do it all and have it all.  We’d be together all day long, be attentive parents, and be productive while enjoying our fulfilling careers.  We’d achieve the perfect balance.  But the world isn’t perfect. (Duh, lady.)  I know I am lucky to have both a beautiful family and a career that challenges and excites me.  As anxious as I am about the changes to come, I know we made these choices for all the right reasons.  We are so lucky to have options.

Um… this post was supposed to be about breakfast.  Not feelings. (I’m sure I will have much more to say about being a workin’ mom once I have more than 15 seconds of experience as one.)

Back on task.  Breakfast.  Mornings.

While there are plenty of new challenges we’ll need to navigate in the coming days, weeks, and months, I am hoping that making a plan for how we start each day, and making an effort to streamline our mornings, will help.  I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, much to the chagrin of my parents, my husband, people that I flip off in traffic, my primary care physician… you get the point.  Despite having good intentions, sitting down for a healthy meal at the start of the day always seemed to fall by the wayside when faced with a time crunch.  I can skip breakfast, but I can’t (in good conscience) skip walking the dog.  Or, like, bathing.  Having someone else depending on me in such a real way has been the ultimate game changer.  More than ever it’s clear: I need to take care of myself in order take care of other people.

BelVita and Dannon have partnered to get me (and my fellow Americans) to ditch the excuses and make time for a quick breakfast that boasts 12 grams of protein and nutritious, steady energy (…maybe we can have it all.  Just kidding.  Too soon.  Pass the Kleenex.).  I’ve been pairing Dannon Oikos 0% vanilla Greek yogurt with apple cinnamon Crunchy belVita Breakfast Biscuits, along with an apple, in the mornings.  The combination is delicious and convenient and is sure to become part of my workday routine (bonus: if when I forget a spoon for my yogurt, a biscuit is the perfect stand in).

Are you looking to streamline your mornings?  Laura Stack, “The Productivity Pro”, offers the following tips for getting the most of your morning:

  • Do as much as you can the night before.  Leave as little preparation as possible until the last minute — you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
  • Spend 20 minutes at the end of each day planning your to-do list.  When you download the next day’s activities beforehand, you can devote your morning to enjoyment rather than stress.
  • Be sure to start your morning with a delicious, balanced breakfast.  Together, the nutritious steady energy of belVita and 12 grams of protein in Dannon Oikos Green nonfat yogurt along with a piece of fruit will help you get more out of your morning.

Welp, my breakfast is set for tomorrow… our bags are packed… I guess we’re ready?

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you streamline your morning?  Favorite breakfast ideas for busy folks excuse makers?

Today:1,000 pieces in 800 square feet.

Puzzles were made for people with a lot of patience and ideally, a spare kitchen table.  I have neither.  I have, however, formed a recent obsession with puzzles.  It started the day after my sister’s wedding, when my family got together for lunch at the cottage my brother rented for the week.  I was immediately drawn to the nearly complete puzzle laid out on their dining room table.

I try to practice what I preach (namely saying no more often, so I can say yes to the things that matter), but I’m still left feeling a bit burned out lately.  I love being busy and interacting with people, but as an introvert, I end up completely zapped if I don’t carve out enough quiet time for myself.  And not just quiet time (hey, scrolling through baby Frenchie photos on Instagram for hours is quiet!), but quality quiet time.

At the risk of sounding like the lady that sells crystals near the T stop, putting puzzle pieces together feels very restorative for me.  It’s logical and there’s a right answer: a piece either fits or it doesn’t.  And at some point you’re done.  In other words: it’s the opposite of work.  I am incredibly lucky to have a career that I love, but the work is never done and it’s often complicated (and um… puzzling).

Hippy talk aside, when we got back to Boston, I hit up Target for my own puzzle.  500 pieces? 300 pieces? I figured, go big or go home…. and then I actually, well… got home.

I soon learned that 1,000 piece puzzles were not designed for small, city condos.  They are much better suited for dining room tables at the Cape.  I was faced with three options:

Option 1: Make a mess.

Option 2: Complete the puzzle in one sitting.

Option 3: Get things under control.

If you’re comfortable with Option 1, more power to you.  If Option 2 is your M.O., welp… I commend you.  After losing several pieces under the sofa (don’t ask), scattering several hundred pieces across any and all workable surfaces, and essentially holding our condo hostage with a nowhere-near-complete Italian seaside vista, I knew I needed to get things under control.  Thank goodness for washi tape.  And the 600 mason jars I seem to have hoarded since my sister’s shower.

How to put together a 1,000 piece puzzle in an 800 square foot condo

  1. Sort through each piece (if you have fellow puzzlers, recruit them to help here) in the box and remove all outer edge pieces.
  2. Connect your outer edges (this step alone may take 6-7 years).
  3. Review the puzzle box and determine which major categories pieces will fall into, for example: buildings, boats, dark water, light water, sky, trees.
  4. Label your mason jars (or other suitable containers with lids) with each of your categories and get to sorting.
  5. Tackle one jar (and effectively, one area of the puzzle) at a time.  You can keep the other jars tucked away while you focus on the “dark water” jar.  Or whatever.
  6. Pay someone to finish the puzzle when you get bored and/or distracted by something shiny.  Like, say, a different puzzle.
  7. Once all of your jars are empty, you should have completed the puzzle.  Unless something bad happened…

Wondering what to do once you’re done?  Consider donating your puzzle to one of the following places:

  • Hope Lodge – There are currently 31 locations in the U.S., all which offer free lodging in a warm environment to cancer patients, and their families, while they receive treatment.  
  • Your local library (many have puzzles available for loan)
  • V.A. Hospitals and Clinics – Puzzles are a great way for patients and their families to pass the time in waiting rooms.  Check with your local V.A. Hospital to learn more about making a donation.
  • Senior Centers and assisted living facilities – Our senior friends were alive before Angry Birds.  They know how to complete puzzles, which can be great tools for socialization and work on motor skills and concentration.

…just please be sure there are no missing pieces before you drop off a box or two. 😉

Also On Tap for Today:

  • 3rd CrossFit workout of the week (I am making good on my intention to show up more)
  • Happy National Running Day!
  • Making a summer bucket list

What’s your favorite way to restore yourself?

Today: Where are my Worry People?

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I had a set of worry people (and a matching barrette, for questionably fashionable worry dolls on the go) when I was younger.  I am not sure how many worries I shared with them, but I can see the value in having something inanimate to unload on, consequence free.

I’ve been feeling a bit weighed down lately.  Some of my worries are worthy, like health concerns (The latest in a long series of body experiments? A weekly shot of B12… in the butt cheek.) or work stress.  Others are less worthy, like “which–of the three wedding headpieces I bought– shall I wear?”  While I tend to draw a lot of motivation from stress and worry (I’d never make a doctor’s appointment or meet deadlines ahead of schedule if my wheels weren’t perpetually in motion), I’m also easily drained, worrying about things I cannot control.  And worse, by inventing scenarios… just in case I run out of real things to worry about.  For example, my car is likely on its way out sometime soon… so why not worry about what might happen if it broke down on the way home from tonight’s soccer game?

Worry’s a double edged sword.  When worry prompts me to take action, take stock of a situation, or take better care of myself, it’s a positive.  When worry preoccupies my thoughts and prevents me from being present, it’s less than a gift.

This is the thing:

So after I finally choose between the flowered headpiece and the jeweled one, I am making a commitment to worry less.  Like all ingrained habits (I’ve been perfecting this naughty one for thirty years now), I know my inclination to worry will not be easy to break.  Step one: a worry-free playlist.

Perhaps I should dig out my worry people and enjoy the jams with them.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Congrats to everyone who ran today’s Tufts 10K for Women – way to #getafterit!
  • Soccer game
  • FaceTime with my niece 🙂

Are you a worry person?  How do you manage worry?