Happiness Is Homemade.

Hey y’all. I wrote a whole entry today, and then I realized that it was full of information that I wouldn’t want a total stranger to read… so I didn’t publish it. I miss LiveJournal and FB’s privacy settings something fierce right now, but I’m also very glad that I’m starting to have more of a filter about what I’m willing to share with total strangers all over the world. It’s an important boundry to find.

I did, however, make something for myself that may be helpful for others, so I’m linking to it here.

Happiness Is Homemade — Daily Worksheet

This worksheet goes through the 4 exercises that I do every day to help me combat my brain’s natural tendency to gravitate to the negative.

3 Great Things About Yesterday requires you to remember good things about the immediate past. I’m a big fan of trying to focus on 3 Great Things that I had no control over whatsoever — like great weather, or getting a phone call from a friend. This exercise is about appreciation.

When I was at the absolute darkest part of depression, my list looked like this:

  1. Still Alive
  2. Not In the Hospital
  3. Adam Hasn’t Left Me

3 Things I Deserve A Sticker For requires you to think about what your day has been like and give yourself credit for doing things that may have been challenging. For a while there, “Changing poopy diapers” was on my list every day. For the last week, “Fighting the urge to check social media” has been on there.  I messed up a little today. :-/ But that’s how growth works — we try our best, we mess up, and then we try again as our best gets better. In any event, this exercise is about giving yourself credit where it’s due.

3 Things I’m Looking Forward To requires you to use your imagination to envision anything positive at all occurring in your future. This can be especially challenging if you’re deeply depressed or you’ve totally embraced nihilism and are just wondering at what moment nuclear annihilation is going to unmake our entire species.

I’ve had to remove the following 3 from my list because it was the same list every day for a long time, though they’re still there:

  1. Having good conversations with Henry.
  2. Henry using the potty consistently, like a big boy.
  3. A future with autonomous vehicles that I can access.

Gratitude Rampage is an open-ended exercise that you can do for 5 or 10 minutes — or more if you prefer. You simply sit there and list (for whatever amount of time you’ve chosen) everything you can think of that you’re grateful for/happy about in that moment.  The practice requires you to think about how you’re feeling in the moment and to not ignore the positive things in your life that are currently occurring.

If you can, print this out and fill it out by hand. Your brain gets more from writing than it does from typing.

Where I Should Be Writing

Well, the last few weeks have been… interesting.

My mom came in town last Wednesday (2/1) and stayed with us all the way until yesterday. We were together for an entire week and a half…and it took over a week before I completely lost my shit on her.

On the one hand, I see that as immense growth. After starting EMDR therapy for PTSD and realizing years of repressed anger, I used to only be able to handle being around her and being kind/civil for about 3 days at a time before becoming an overly-emotional reactionary mess…so going more than a week is deserving of a high-five at the very least.

On the other hand, I’m still sick at my stomach for losing it on her in the first place, on the day before she left. I said shit that was mean and that I don’t actually think. Don’t get me wrong, I apologized, and we’re good now — but I really wish that I had more emotional control when I’m already triggered and am trying, desperately, to regain rationality.

Truth of the matter is, keeping my anxiety in check has been nearly impossible since Trump took office. The amount of irrational fear that I was experiencing when he announced the travel ban was enough on its own — but all of the internet think pieces forecasting the demise of all of humanity was just too much for me.

I lost my damn mind one morning because Adam didn’t understand how totally important it was to leave the country immediately (even though he and Henry didn’t have passports yet) and ended up going for a long walk in my nearly threadbare pajamas in 12 degree weather until I could cool my jets and act like a semi-reasonable human being.

In the twenty minutes-or-so that I was gone, Adam called my mom and my therapist.  I’m glad he realized that he didn’t need to call the cops this time… because we all know, he’ll do it if he needs to.

Social Media Changes

The first major change that occurred when I got home is that we put a site blocker on my laptop. If I try to go to Facebook, I get redirected to Cute Overload. If I try to hit Twitter, I’m redirected to ICanHazCheeseburger. If I try to go to Reuters or the Associated Press, it sends me straight to FailBlog.  Because, let’s be real… the news is full of fail right now.

I haven’t read my Facebook or Twitter news feeds in nearly 2 weeks, though I have kept Messenger around for PMing with friends. I both miss feeling “in the know” about what’s going on in my friends lives and in the world around us — and don’t at all miss feeling the near-constant panic that comes along with Facebook’s ability to show you the same bad news 10 different ways with 10 different click-bait-worthy headlines all foreshadowing imminent doom… And I sure as shit don’t need to scroll past comments showing that there really are morons out there who both want to fight for fetal “rights” and also stop those same babies from ever being able to be covered by insurance… or women who simultaneously scream that racism is over and that they don’t need feminism because they have Jesus, but don’t understand why white, affluent rapists don’t get sent to prison.

Truly, I always knew those folks were out there. Shit, I grew up in around a ton of them… (you don’t have members of your own high school drumline drawing swastikas on your practice pad and books and get to ignore the rise of NeoNazim in the South) but I don’t have to read their hate-filled, scarcity-based fearmongering.  I don’t even have to see that it exists and scroll past it. I can stop tuning in.  I wouldn’t watch FoxNews or CNN all day, so why would I let the 24 hr news cycle rule my social feed?

Instead, I downloaded Instagram and SnapChat.  There’s almost zero in the way of political crap, and that suits me fine. I’m actually seeing more personal pictures and am reading about what’s going on in the lives of my friends, which is what I actually care about.

I also do not understand SnapChat yet… because sometimes I want to see what someone said again, and I can’t get it to replay.  It’s frustrating. I swear I’m not a luddite, btw… just a little lazy, considering everything else going on in life.

But my real new addiction?  A game called Habitica. I’m still learning it, but I think it’s is one of the best possible changes in my life.  It has multiple to-do lists that you can populate with what you need to, and it gives you experience points and loot for living in integrity with your intentions.

It also doesn’t hurt that I have both a cotton-candy pink wolf and a royal purple tiger cub as pets that I got for remembering to brush my teeth, take my meds every morning and night, and eat 3 meals a day, every day this week. (It’s the little things, for real.)  It tickles me that I’m going to be getting fake gold coins for remembering to make social contact with people I like at least 3 times a week.

Anyway, much as I’d like to keep writing, Henry is up from his nap, and we have limited daylight left to take a walk on a beautifully sunny 48 degree Sunday afternoon. So, for now, I’m gonna wrap it up.

I’m not dumping my thoughts in 140 characters or easy/fast/thoughtless status updates anymore… so, I think we all know where my significant updates will be found. (Right here.)  That also means that if you want to comment on any blog entry where I can see it, you’re gonna need to comment right here and not on Twitter or on FB. I won’t see either of those. 

 

P.S. – I finally bit the bullet and contacted Pace Paratransit. Sometime in the next month or so, Henry and I should have significantly more freedom to get around. Cabs are fucking spendy.

My Sphere of Influence

So much has happened since the last time that I wrote.

Henry is now 19 months old. Donald Trump has been elected president, but everyone’s looking to the electors to see if they’re actually gonna vote for him next week, especially now that he’s put together a cabinet comprised of members of Who’s Who Among American Assholes (That is to say that they’re almost all family members, horrific Neo-Nazis, and science deniers.) and is already starting shit with China and Israel by chatting it up with the leaders of Taiwan & Palestine. *shrugs* Who the fuck knows what’s gonna happen? Not me.

Here’s what I do know: I have a limited sphere of influence in this world, and it’s kind of a gift.

It’d be way too easy to be sucked into the hysteria of this prolonged election cycle full-time, thinking I could make any difference in its outcome.  I’ve had days like that, admittedly. But I felt awful after them. I feared for my life, for Henry’s life. I felt insignificant and vulnerable. (Both of which things are true and not bad, relatively speaking.) I questioned the goodness of humanity — even existence as a whole. I questioned my resolve to have good mental health. I questioned the sanity in staying in this country. And then I questioned the sanity in leaving.

When I think about recent days that end with me not feeling like I need to get blackout wasted, I’ve usually spent the majority of it not focused on making the world a better place, but rather making my home a better place. Not on being a good citizen or advocate, but on being a good wife and mother.

The more time I spend one-on-one with Henry, with my cell phone in another room, the better I feel about life. So, I’m trying to remember to quit looking at my phone… which is surprisingly difficult, but worth it – because Henry’s at a wonderful, but difficult age.

20161205_081701At 19 months, he’s 3 ft tall already. He can grab anything he wants off of the counter. He can play the piano just standing up. He can climb up and down stairs on his own, and he’s getting closer and closer to talking in sentences.  (Of course if you count, “OH NO!” as a sentence, then he’s been golden for over a month.)

Right now, he has a lot of words that are regulars: Mama, Dada, dog, duck, baby, ba-ba  (for bottle), car, no, book, milk, wa-wa (for water), stairs, shoes, mouse, and yeah. And I know there’s more.  But 15 right off the top of my head isn’t bad!

Anyway, I’d write more about how awesome this kid is, and how much I love him, and how being a mother is completely changing the way I think about life and myself and law and even music.. but he just woke up from his nap.

Maybe someday, I’ll get the chance to write again. But you can’t “carve out” time when you’re already maxed out. Right now, I’ll just be happy getting through the holidays.

Carving It Out.

Time

pumpkin-clock1I don’t think I realized, when I decided to become a mother, how difficult it is for a stay-at-home-mom to make time for herself, let alone to make time for writing, practicing music, or even keeping in touch with friends and family who don’t use social media… but it has become increasingly obvious that sublimating my sense of self is detrimental to more than just my happiness.

So, here I am, eating my lunch while attempting writing my first blog entry in several months.  Why?  Is it because I have such important stuff to say? Is it because I need attention?  No. It’s because writing helps me be the person I want to be. It helps me think.

And, fortunately for me, Henry just went down for a nap…at 2:15 p.m. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. He’s down to 1 nap a day, and it usually happens around 12:30 or 1. When kiddo refuses to give in to sleep until his body just conks out, it usually means that I’ve got more than an hour to myself — plenty of time to eat lunch.  Maybe even enough time to get dinner up in the crock pot.  And, if I’m feeling really feisty, enough time to do the dishes too. There’s no chance of that happening today. I wish I were napping too. Instead, I’m writing. It’s what I need to do.

Pumpkins

Can you believe it’s only 2 weeks until Halloween?  I can’t. I mean, I actually bought some decorations for our house yesterday, with the goal of getting them up before the holiday is over.  (Who am I becoming? I never decorate!) I keep asking Adam if I can buy a pumpkin at the grocery store, and so far, it hasn’t been time.  Hopefully, I’ll convince him to get some this weekend.  I’m looking very forward to carving one. I’m not quite sure why, but I’d bet it has everything to do with getting the chance to do something creative. It also probably has something to do with how much I love roasted pumpkin seeds…

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to be for Halloween — or what Henry’s gonna be. Originally, I wanted to be Sarah & Duck, since that’s his favorite cartoon right now.

 

sarahandduck

Sarah & Duck or, as Henry likes to call it, “Duck Duck”

duckduck

Whoever made this costume is radicool.

 

Unfortunately, I cannot find a mallard costume for the little guy, and I am absolute shite at sewing. I can’t even remember how to properly thread a bobbin. (Thank goodness Craftsy classes are forever.)  If it weren’t so close to the date, I’d try to replicate this awesomeness. –>

So, I’m currently at a loss. Maybe I should think of a 3 person costume for the whole family. Who knows. We’re not planning on taking him door-to-door, but we are planning on giving out treats, and it would be a shame to half-ass the holiday like last year. I’m pretty sure he wore his $25 costume for 15 minutes max. Worth it for the pictures, sure… but not ideal.

I’d really like to take him to a petting zoo or pumpkin patch or some other age-appropriate autumnal “thing.” Adam seems on board to do that this weekend. I hope the good weather holds out.  I don’t know how I’d handle it if we end up spending the whole weekend in this house. I’ve got mad cabin fever.

I’m getting really, REALLY, really tired of not being able to drive.  Like, it’s one thing when it only really affects you, but when the kiddo is obviously stir crazy, it makes me so sad.  I mean, it shouldn’t be a revolutionary thing to get to go to the library, but when it finally happens, it will be.  I’ve only wanted to go for over a year now. It shouldn’t be so difficult.

In all seriousness, I have to figure out how to get around in the outside world with a kid when the only public transportation available to us doesn’t accommodate car seats, and Uber Family doesn’t exist in our area. Aside from asking my mother-in-law to take us places, which obviously can’t be an everyday thing, I’m at a loss.

Dear Tesla, Toyota, Google, Volvo, and every other company that is working on automated vehicles and getting the laws changed so they can be on the road: thank you for your efforts. Please do more faster.

Turkey

turkeyHalloween, of course, means that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Adam and I, shockingly enough, still have a big-ass turkey sitting in our freezer from the Christmas sales last year.  According to Butterball, it’s still good if frozen and unopened for 2-3 years, but I’d be lying if I weren’t slightly concerned about how it’s gonna turn out.

We’ve been trying to organize a day of Turkey & Twilight Imperium, but it’s really hard to get a group of friends together for a 6+ hr chunk of time these days. Everyone’s got dogs and babies and jobs and other things they need to take care of.  Shit, if we could even get everyone together even to watch a tutorial on how to play, that would be something.

I would say that we’ll bring it with us to Colorado Springs to play with my family, since we’re doing Thanksgiving with them this year, but the game is larger than a carry-on bag, (No, I’m not joking.) and the idea of my family sitting through learning all the rules when we’re high on Pancho’s cheese dip and sleep deprivation (since my newborn nephew and Henry will be in the same home for the first time ever), sort of tickles me.

Anyway. That reminds me that I need to set myself a reminder to order cheese dip.  And possibly turducken. God, I love the internet. Gonna carve out some time to do that right now.  Hope you’re all doing well. ❤

14495482_10210428153402837_2829219525241718269_n

Henry congratulates you on making it to the end of Mommy’s post. 🙂

And today I’m fine. (So far.)

MS is so weird. One day, I’m damn near immobilized by fatigue and seizures, and the next, I’m feeling great and am having a genuine debate as to whether it’s smarter for me to blog or fold and put away ALL. THE. THINGS. (It can’t be some of the laundry. That’s just not enough. I’m adulting so hard today!)

fold

Happiness > Folded Laundry

Of course, since you’re reading this, you know what choice I’ve made. Surely, I’ll make a dent in the mountain of clean laundry at some point today, but I felt like writing was a better use of the short time that I have while Henry naps.  Why?  Because writing is one thing that makes me genuinely happy, even if I’m writing about tough stuff… and if I don’t do simple things that make me happy, I have no one to blame but myself.

I think that’s one of the hardest things about being a SAHP (Stay-At-Home Parent, for the uninitiated). It’s way too easy to spend the entire day focusing on your child’s needs and housekeeping and to completely neglect yourself.

If you can sing every jingle from every Daniel Tiger episode, but you haven’t listened to a new release from one of your favorite artists that was released almost a year ago (like this one for me), you just might have your priorities slightly out of whack. (And that’s ok.  Friends help each other. Yes, they do. It’s true!)

If you don’t carve out time for things that make you smile, you can become overwhelmed and sad so easily. Heck, when I first started this gig, I had to set alarms to remind myself to eat (Ok, I’ll be honest. I still use those alarms.) and take showers. (More than 1 a week! It’s important!)

After going back to therapy, this time for postpartum depression, I realized something: I’m doing a fantastic job of challenging automatic negative thoughts… but I’m doing a crap job of giving myself credit for the things I do and an even worse job of having fun.

A thought really struck me hard the other day — Henry is learning how to be a person from watching me.  If I don’t do things that make me happy, I’m teaching him (by example) how to be miserable. We can’t have that. I refuse.

domorehappy

So, I’m gonna keep doing my best to show him that you rest when you feel bad, and you do whatever you can when you’re feeling well.

On that note, I’ll be busting out the guitar this week…finally bringing it out of retirement. It’s been almost a year and a half now since I played. (Baby belly bumps get in the way!)  I’m not expecting that it’ll sound particularly good — but something is so much better than nothing. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, and I think he’s finally at an age where I could play it and he wouldn’t automatically try to wrestle it away from me.

Truth be told, I miss parts of my identity from before I became a mommy… from before MS made my life wonky… from before I stopped thinking that I could be and do anything I wanted to do be and do. It’s time for that thinking to end. My mindset is in my control. Self-empowerment is about owning your bullshit and choosing to powerfully move past it.  You can’t be proud of yourself and be mired in self-pity at the same time.

How do you kick self-pity’s ass?  Gratitude and credit.

The Sticker List

Y’all have heard me talk about how important Gratitude Rampages are, and how you can rewire your brain to be more positive by writing down 3 great things that happened yesterday, every day.  Well, we can add another exercise — one that I made up myself that is helping me out loads.  The Sticker List.

What’s “The Sticker List?”  It’s a simple list of everything that you believe you deserve a sticker for.  See, we give kids stickers (or other little treats) when they behave well, in an effort to give them positive feedback and attention so that they will develop good habits. Some kids gets stickers for using the potty. Others get them for brushing their teeth or doing basic chores.

Today, I believe I deserve a sticker because I’ve chosen to write… and I think I probably also deserve a sticker for:

  • changing 3 poopy diapers before noon
  • remembering to take all of my morning meds
  • eating within an hour of waking up
  • not being ashamed of sharing this. 🙂

It’s like a to-do list in reverse… a “Done” list, if you will.

poopsticker

This would be the sticker I would give myself for changing diapers. Have you ever seen such a happy crap?

And, now that I’ve shared this, I actually want to go fold clothes. (Who am I becoming?!?)

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day. ❤

 

Lullabye for Henry

I was about to go to bed tonight when I read an article that analyzed David Bowie’s last music video, “Lazarus.”  It emphasized the importance of expressing yourself as much as you can while you have time.  So, instead of going to bed with Adam, I stayed up and wrote the lullabye I’ve been meaning to write for about 9 months now.  There is music to it, but I don’t know how to put notation in WordPress, so for now, this will have to do.

<lyrics>

Sweet baby mine,
lay down your head.
The day is done.
It’s time for bed.
I hope that your dreams
are pleasant and sweet.
Time to say good night.
Time to sleep.

Sweet baby mine,
you’re growing up strong.
I’ll hold you tight now
’cause I can’t for long
Soon you’ll be too big
Right now, you’re petite.
Time to grow, my baby.
Time to sleep.

Every day
I see you change,
and it’s something to behold.
I hope that you
will always know I love you
even when you are old.

Sweet baby, mine,
close your eyes.
I’ve tucked you in
for beddybye.
Tomorrow, we’ll do
more fun things.
But now it’s time for dreams.
Time to sleep.

Time to breathe.
Time to dream.
Time to sleep.

Goodnight, my baby.
</lyrics>

I need to record this for him tomorrow.

Also, just for the record – there’s also a burping song that he hears at least 3 times a day.  I should record it for posterity too.

Just for the Record.

I feel like I was blowing smoke up my own ass in that last post. I’m tired all the time. I’ve been going to the gym two or three times a week, but Adam broke his foot, so keeping that up will be a challenge.

I’m tired of constantly beating myself up or thinking I’m not doing a good enough job. The kid’s healthy and happy. The house may never be clean again, and if I’m able to see friends ever, that’s a good thing.

If I can find curtains (forget the lofty goal of making them), I’ll be happy.

If I keep singing to my son, I’ll be happy.

If I manage to roll up a character for a play-by-post D&D Game or just jump into playing Brikwars, I’ll be happy.

But I can’t do everything all at once. And that’s fine. I’m playing the long game, and all it takes to win is to not give up.