Tag Archives: stress

Today: When enough is… too much.

I left home precisely three times between Friday and Sunday evening.

  1. I went for a walk with Clark (before you report me to the ASPCA or Sarah McLachlan, rest assured that Nick picked up my slack)
  2. I made a trip to the pharmacy for cough drops (and crossword puzzles)
  3. I met with our friendly neighborhood police officer to have our car seat inspected (Last Minute Larry strikes again)

I spent the rest of the weekend asleep, trying to be asleep, moaning and groaning, being stumped by crossword puzzles, watching the Kill Cliff East Coast Championships online (while my ticket to the event mocked me from the coffee table), wondering if you can wear more than one Breathe Right strip, and starring in my own one-woman version of Les Miserables.  I don’t know if I should admit this (especially after promising you that you didn’t need to call animal welfare on me), but at one point I was so conked out that I drooled on my own dog.  He didn’t seem to mind (and he loves that I am on the same napping schedule as him), but I was mortified.

I went from feeling great for the better part of 36 weeks to, seemingly suddenly, feeling… not so great.  Our midwife encouraged me to slow down.  I wanted to, but I also felt like I had a ton of work to get done.  And I wanted to squeeze in one more workout before putting my CrossFit membership on hold.  Also, I finally remembered what I forgot to get at the store, and so I figured I should go get it.  And I had just one more big work event to pull off, so I worked late to ensure it went perfectly.  Several nights in a row.  And I wore heels to the event.  Plus, I scheduled a couple more meetings.  And I invented other things to add to my to do list.

While my ego tries to keep busy and be important, my body is saying, enough is enough.  I could do without this rotten cold, and I wish I wasn’t such a boob for letting myself get this run down, but I’m finally seeing how badly I do need to slow down during these last few weeks (or days?).

Enough is enough… but it’s also too much.  I can’t keep up.  I can’t do what I’ve always done.  And that’s okay (even if it’s been a bit of a challenge to accept).  After all, it’s not just about me any more.  

If you can learn this lesson without polishing off a box of Kleenexes, please do.  From here on out, I’m steering clear of my ego and listening to my tired, not-so-little body.

A few more things to avoid when you’re pregnant (or just a human, in general):

  • Other people:  (Sort of.)  People say really weird things to pregnant women.  I’ve heard some real doozies, from the security guard in Detroit who told me that she did voodoo on me, causing me to have twins (I was like, Maybe, use your voodoo for something more productive… like fixing Detroit?), to the man in my office building who asked, “Did you get fat, or are your pregnant?” or the woman at the supermarket who told me my doctor was wrong, and that I would have a baby before Christmas.  And it’s not just strangers.  People I know and love have said some bizarre things, too.  It’s sort of impractical to avoid people altogether (especially when you consider my next suggestion), but it’s important to develop some sound coping mechanisms for the inevitable weirdness.  Please don’t let the comments get to you.  They are likely coming from a good place.  I think.  
  • Too much alone time: I have never been so far inside my own head as I have been these past nine months.  I would likely be lost in there if I didn’t have a support system to field my questions, listen to my worries, offer suggestions, and laugh (in sort of a sad way) at me when I thought my belly button was connected to the baby’s belly button via the umbilical cord.  (Don’t ask, don’t tell.)
  • The internet:  I should be banned from WebMD.  In the past week alone, I’ve diagnosed myself with six different incurable diseases.  And I’ve cried about all six of them.  When I stopped crying, I went on BuzzFeed (usually a reliable source of laughter, i.e. the opposite of crying), only to stumble on this terribly sad cartoon about how dogs grieve for their scattered children.  I thought it would be something cute about grown-up dogs following their puppies on Instagram (shameless plug for @clarkthefrenchie), but it was actually devastating.  Please don’t read it.  Unless you want your day life ruined.
  • Comparison:  Every person is different.  Every pregnancy is different.  You’re probably doing it perfectly.  For you.

Oh.  And avoid soft cheese.  Which is just plain rude.  I want my first meal in the hospital to be an entire wheel of brie.  Maybe.  Actually, I think I want a root beer float.

Also On Tap for Today:

How did you spend your weekend?

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?

Today: OMG! Baby Frenchies!

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Happy Leap Day, or as I like to call it, that day that stands between me and my birthday once every four years.  It seems only fitting to feature frog dogs today, even though their leaping capacity is somewhat limited.  If you’re feeling lazy and want to see what Clark looked like when he first hatched, scroll down.  I saved the best for last.

First there was OMG! Baby hippos!  and then there was OMG! Baby koalas!  Why?  Because life is tough, and every once in a while you just need to take a few minutes and look at cute things.  So… with that, I give you, OMG! Baby Frenchies!

This one says, “Look, ma!  No paws!”

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Okay, technically this is a Frenchie/Boston Terrier mix, but he was too cute to pass up.  He looks caraaaaaaazy.  Plus, he has a sweet tuxedo.

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Okay, this is very fresh.  If he had a born on date, it would probably be yesterday.  I think maybe his ears haven’t been attached yet.  His nose certainly has, though.

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Clark should team up with this little fellow for some Frenchie karaoke.

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What a little nugget.

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This feisty one is ready to rumble.

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Whoa.  This one needs a pawdicure immediately.  If not sooner.

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I am totally jealous.  They have three tiny guys and one regular one.  On second thought, I am not jealous.  That’s a lot of poop.

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I would name this one Polly Pocket.

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Clearly I have a thing for little brindle bullies with crisp white tuxedos.  And just as clearly, I have too much time on my hands am not making very good use of what little time I have on my hands.  Welp… want to see what Clark looked like as a baby?

So many wrinkles.  Okay.  Get back to business.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your best time management tip?

Today: Turn a few pages.

After a hectic week, I was looking forward to sleeping in a bit (7 maybe?) yesterday, but unfortunately we found ourselves scrambling to get to the vet as soon as it opened.  Our little monster was having stomach… issues (I promise to spare you the details), so we rushed to the vet just as soon as they opened.  This is where we discovered our dog is stressed out.

I believe getting “snipped” would be cause for stress.  I’m feeling a bit frazzled myself, and I closed out the week with no missing parts and no sign of the flu (Nick is feeling much better, by the way.  Thanks!).  So I suppose Clark is entitled to his stress-induced colitis.  Sorry, I think I just broke my earlier promise.  After a week of little sleep and lots of worry, I am happy to be enjoying a lazy, laaaazy Sunday.  It started with a little jaunt to Home Despot (just a few more moving boxes for tomorrow’s long awaited office move, a major source of annoyance this week), and Target (cake mix for Thanksgiving!), and a bit of laundry and cleaning.  With almost everything in order, I plopped down with a stack of magazines and a cup of tea and have barely budged since.

The x-ray film is a nice touch.

Nothing beats a good book, but when my pea brain is a bit scattered, I love nothing more than the pick-up, put down, read what you want of a magazine.  SJP as Carrie Bradshaw said, “When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I bought Vogue instead of dinner. I found it fed me more.”  And Madonna wrote a whole song about the magazine… or was that about actually voguing?  Either way,  I don’t have any Vogues in my stack today (because Carrie ate all of them).  Nothing fashionable.  Just a few Shapes and Body + Souls.  Here’s what I absorbed this morning.

From Body and Soul/November issue:

  • Cinnamon can help lower cholesterol levels and regular blood sugar.  The cinnamon we use in the US is usually actually cassia, a relative of Ceylon (actual cinnamon).  Both come from the bark of tropical evergreens typically found in Asia.  Speaking of cinnamon, I still haven’t gotten around to baking that apple crisp.

These apples are patiently waiting to be crisped.

  • Want to boost your immunity and up your defenses against a cold or the flu?  Brew a pot of Immunity Tea.  On page 49, the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of astragalus, 1 tablespoon of dried ginger, 1/8 teaspoon of dried lemon peel and 1 tablespoon of lemon balm.  Simmer the first three ingredients in a covered quart of water for twenty minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the lemon balm; re-cover and steep for another 20 minutes, discard the herbs.  Add honey, if you please.   Tea will keep in the fridge for a day and can be re-heated.
  • From page 79, raw or lightly cooked garlic appears to have antiviral and antibacterial properties and are thought to boost immunity.  Gnaw on some garlic while your Immunity Tea is brewing.
  • And from the last page, “See physical fitness as a practice, not a goal.”

From Real Simple/December issue:

  • From page 136, fight free radicals (sources include irritants, pollution, smoke, UVA/UVB rays and cell processes like metabolism) with these 10 foods: unpeeled apples, pomegranates, dark chocolate, dried plums, red wine, artichokes, pecans, blueberries, strawberries and spinach.
  • According to the Money Guide on page 223, the Twelve Days of Christmas in 2009 would cost $21,080.10.  The lords-a-leapin’ alone would cost you $4,413.61.  I’ll take the french hens for $30; seems like a bargain.
  • I love the Sesame letterpress coasters from Cursive New York, featured on page 308’s Discounts & Deals.  Click here to buy, enter REAL SIMPLE at checkout to receive the readers’ discount.

From Shape Magazine/November issue:

  • Once I get through this little pile of mags, and finish the three books I’m in the middle of reading, I will surely be looking for my next read.  Shape recommends www.bookseer.com, a website that will offer recommended reads, based on books and authors you favor.  I just entered a few books and the site recommended Good Evening, Mrs. Craven.  I’m intrigued.
  • Three pages worth of sneakers, including two pairs of trainers I might consider for Zumba and other dance/cardio classes (running shoes just don’t cut it).
  • From the back page, 5 simple “stay-fit strategies,” which include cooking your own meals (and controlling both ingredients and portion sizes), having fitness DVDs on hand for those days you could’ve/should’ve/would’ve hit the gym, avoid temptation by bring your own healthy snacks to work, exercise in the morning (how many times have we heard that.. and then hit snooze?), and make time to meditate.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you unwind and become less prickly?  And what are you currently reading?