Sometimes things are hard…

…Life is hard.

Sometimes we make decisions that dramatically impede our quest towards fulfillment and happiness when we believe that those decisions are the linchpins that will lead us there.

I have spent a considerable amount of time weighing risk in my personal life… “What is the risk of staying in this relationship?…for a year longer? A day longer?”… “What is the risk of accepting this new job opportunity?” …”What is the risk of staying in this job any longer?”… “What is the risk of caving to peer pressure?” (Which has resulted pleasantly into being 32 and having *never* even tried an elicit drug. None of them – not even those that I think should be legislated to be legal) … “Medically – what is the risk of doing this to my body? What are the outcomes and what are the percentages that things will be favorable for me?” and then determining potential outcomes and whether or not the risk is giving me a large enough margin for success.

I am an incessant planner. I plan everything. I feel comfort in having things planned out on the calendar. I plot out our finances generally about 6 months at a time and make decisions from there… that gives me an odd sense of control and comfort; I feel like I can control those things so it subsequently makes me feel in control.

However, as it pertains to the future – my career – things related to the kids – there are so many variables that are wildly outside of my control. No, this is not to say that I am a control freak, because I don’t believe that I am one of “those”… I do think that my need for “control” lies in “What is the plan?”. If my spouse or work colleague or what-have-you has a plan related to how they imagine this thing plays out then that is good for me… if its left up to interpretation… like que sera sera style…….I can’t deal. I need structure and a plan – even if that plan might not work out – I need the plan to exist in its simplest form.

Which brings me to today. I have resisted going for things consistently in my adult life out of fear of rejection or failure. I consistently do not pursue things out of fear and today that feels all too real to me… I often flounder immediately following a “failure”… and a failure can be simply finding out something profound that was the opposite of what you had hoped. In example, I pursued an opportunity that was graciously offered to me and supported by my current division to try something out before accepting it. I realized all too quickly that under no circumstances was I working a 16+ hour work day. I met some incredibly fun, enjoyable, personalities on the respective teams that made my workday less painful – but I could not sacrifice the things I had worked so hard to build.

1. Proper eating habits. (I was 100lbs overweight once. I have battled back from obesity and thyroid disease; nothing is going to put me back in that place.)

2. Exercise. (I was tired and every part of my body hurt from sitting in a non-ergonomic meeting room chair after a spinal injury in 2009 changed everything – you might think its ‘prissy’ but have a spinal injury and then sit in a chair that isn’t designed to be sat in for 16 straight hours and then talk to me when every part of your body is throbbing and you can feel your heartbeat in places where you shouldn’t feel your heartbeat…).

3. Education. (I am a lifelong learner and even though sometimes I think I am an idiot for the student loans – nevertheless I persist. I want the letters behind my name – I want to be the young mom/wife who defied the odds and didn’t become a statistic, so I continue. I am a good student, with an excellent GPA, and I am not letting anything except a family crisis interrupt that).

Sometimes it is completely OK to say – Thank you… but this is not right for me. It is OK to stand up for yourself and respectfully (key word) challenge the status quo. Women need to hear this, especially. You are not required to simply ‘fall in line’. Be grateful for opportunities, but do not feel as though you must professionally conform if it does not suit you. You can respectfully thank someone for their time, be sad it didn’t work out, but be OK with admitting that even though this worked out for other people – it does not work out for you. <— this part… I struggle with… If other people do the thing just fine, why can’t I do ‘the thing’? In my heart it feels like it means I am a failure, I am less-than, everyone else is better, I am the odd-man-out. But – maybe it just means that I am the one with different priorities?

Things I am grateful for…

  • A division that prioritizes training above all else.
  • Leadership teams that get me the help/training I need if I feel as though I am lacking in it.
  • Boss, husband, friends, family who remind you that you are not a failure and that sometimes things just don’t work out and it has nothing to do with your abilities or who you are as a person. Its like a puzzle and we are all pieces that don’t fit into all puzzles.

So, I took a risk and “failed” so to speak… Chose that this was absolutely not the right move for me; leaves you feeling like a rudderless boat – without direction. Sadly, it also makes you feel as though you shouldn’t take risks, that the scary jumps you’ve taken haven’t been worth it and that maybe you should go back to playing it safe. I tend to play it safe. I need to accept that sometimes I will take risks and that they don’t live up to my hopes and dreams and that I simply need to change course – as opposed to letting it turn into a catastrophic, personal, existential crises.

I realize that I write all of this – it sounds great on paper – but that I likely won’t take the advice just yet. We grow and we learn but sometimes old habits die hard. Always grow – always learn… even if the risks lead to “failure” – you learn something from each of them; focus on the thing you learn.

 

 

“We will figure it out”

It drives  (drove) me positively insane… “We will figure it out”.

Between the two of us, my husband is the optimist who is far more prepared to handle a lot of conflict, and stress, than I am over prolonged, complex, periods. I am the ‘survivor’… the fighter who can “save” us from extreme crises in the moment because I am designed to be the warrior, the savior, and then devolve into a puddle post-traumatic event and need to be cared for and coaxed back to life after all of my energy is spent on ‘surviving’. We honestly balance each other out in ways I didn’t think possible. Maybe him balancing me out more so than the reverse.

When I am faced with an opportunity that terrifies me and, also, excites me – his response to every conflict, worry, virtually everything I can throw at him is… “We will figure it out” in this calm demeanor that sets me at ease and simultaneously makes me jealous of his innate ability to believe that no matter what ‘it will be fine’. I used to get so angry when he would say this since my response was to panic, freak out, and worry about every variable that may or may not (more likely) happen while assuming that he couldn’t possibly know that it would ‘work out’… when in reality, I had to learn that it was a commitment to me and not a guarantee and not that everything would be perfect.

In experiences past, I found myself weighing the options and pushing the other person in that scenario, who was “more likely to be successful” towards their goals and their dreams; I neatly placed all of mine in a tiny little box, where I could admire them when I was alone, and then closed the lid on the box and moved on and assumed that they were a necessary sacrifice – something left to be admired in a sad, bittersweet, longing, way – never to be pursued. All the things that were ‘mine’ were a necessary sacrifice.

Now. I find myself feeling supported and empowered to seek all of the great things that make me happy that circle back to, also, benefit my family in the long term. I find myself hearing – “We will figure it out”. I used to hate this. I used to feel like this was profoundly patronizing – but being married to an all around devoted person… I found that I give myself ‘permission’ more often, in advance, than I would otherwise – because I have trust that we are a team and the we will indeed figure it out. No longer does the phrase give me a profound frustration and anxiety – it is a comfort that gives me renewed faith, not that it was ever lost, in us and what comes next.  I am far less afraid of failure with a partner that isn’t afraid of “failures”, mine or anyone else’ for which I have an investment.

On that note – today was a pretty cool day. I am embarking on a new adventure that would potentially change the course we have set out for ourselves, but ultimately circle us back to where we want to be. I rushed across the city sidewalk in a far busier location, in the heart of downtown, than I am used to and still felt surprisingly calm once I actually got out of my car put my heels on the pavement. I was surprised at how calm I actually was today- it was an eerie calm, almost like I didn’t feel like I needed to worry and that I would receive the mentoring and guidance that I needed to be successful and that this would make all of the difference…For the first time in a couple years I was the “expert” in NOTHING… Not that I was ever an “expert” in my current position, but I am definitely a strong asset in certain aspects of my functional certifications – I am often sought out for answers on certain functional anomalies, etc… which gives me confidence in my day-to-day. Now. I know (almost) nothing and its a level of anxiety that I am not used to but… its really exciting! I love that I work for a company that is extremely supportive of my goals/wants/development needs and says no to almost nothing that is needed to ensure that I get ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is…

Today – I am cautiously excited about this. I was *probably* the oldest person on the non-management personnel list… and the only one with kids (Yes, the only one. I felt like Chandler in the episode of Friends where he was working for a marketing company with dozen upon dozens of people half his age – even though lets be real, I am 32… they are not that much younger… but either way, I had my moments.). Everyone extremely helpful and committed to guiding me through the process.

Today, I am cautiously optimistic and less anxious because I know ‘we will figure it out’.

“Year of Yes”

Shonda Rhimes – “Year of Yes”

If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. After a disappointment that I wasn’t quite able to shake with my normal distractions… I needed someone in my ear telling me what I needed to do to move forward. Most of the time I hyper-focus on other things until the disappointment is buried in so much “stuff” that I can just… get through it. I put my “fluff” book Liane Moriarty’s “Truly Madly Guilty” on the bench for a while.

I started listening to audio books from my local library, again, after previously deciding it was just too difficult to listen to books when my mind is just consistently all over the place (Life as an adult with ADD). There are certain aspects of my job, presently, that I cannot really do while listening to an audio book, but about half the time I am completing functions where I can actually listen to the books on 1.25x speed. I decided to give it a try again with “Girl on the Train” – Yes, I am horrifically behind on the current best seller list, but I am a grad student, full time employee, mom, all the things… and sometimes reading is difficult. I was so hooked to the audio of that book that it renewed my desire to listen more, to excitedly create a list of books I so desperately wanted to read but didn’t have the time (or the focus).

Anyway, I put the fluff book on the back burner and I turn on Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes”. I needed something like that in my ear. I started listening and within about two chapters I, myself, find myself saying “Yes, wow… that is so true. YES! Oh my god. That’s crazy. That’s how I feel.” She talks about the time she spent eating her feelings when she was obese, she talks about the people who she wanted to be friends with so much but realized she didn’t even like the people she was spending time with… and how she wrote ‘fiction’ over who the person was in hopes that she was friends with the version of them that she was overwriting them with… She, also, said something that really resonated with me… she wanted to say ‘No’ to anything that scared her or that she might “fail” at. I do that. All the time. I say ‘No’ to most things I could fail at… and maybe that has held me back? Failure is a form of rejection for me (my kryptonite)- it was the universe, so to speak, rejecting me-  so it was just easier to avoid the hurt, discomfort, and hit to my personal self-esteem, by simply avoiding it.

The idea that you’re saying ‘yes’ isn’t giving tacit approval to anyone who asks for anything – quite the contrary… ‘Yes’ to yourself when you hold back what you are really feeling – “Yes, I will be assertive and speak up.” … ‘Yes’ when you want to say ‘no’ to things that would be good for you but might be kind of scary. ‘Yes’ to saying ‘This relationship does not suit me, so I am moving on.’— ‘This person does not fit into the puzzle that is my life, yes, I can move on and say that this person  doesn’t fit for me.’.

This week, I am trying to say –  “Yes. You are a bad ass, hard working, over-achieving, educated, woman. Yes. You will be OK with this decision. Yes, maybe the door didn’t open this time – but you have the power to keep knocking until it does.”

The ‘yes’ is in how you phrase it.

Strongly recommend.

 

Spanish Lessons

I have been learning Spanish inconsistently since the sixth grade… I took Spanish through college until I was no longer able to take the language classes anymore as there was no more room in my schedule. When I went to Florida I stayed in a Spanish-speaking AirBNB. When we went to the Dominican Republic in June – I challenged myself to speak Spanish as often as possible – I found that I was only really comfortable doing this towards the end of the week we were there and with the same bartender – Rincon – the one that made me feel comfortable about my Spanish.

I have always had a love of language, especially Spanish. I want to be able to say that I am fluent in Spanish. I want to be valuable to any business that will have me by being able to utilize my language skills. Other countries learn multiple languages from birth, and its unfortunate that our country doesn’t value that, most especially since we border a country that speaks another language as their primary – and another country that has two primary languages.

Fast forward to today, I listen to podcast in Spanish every day in order to keep it ‘fresh’. I practice on Duolingo, daily – trying to keep myself flexible and consistent. However, I found myself hitting a ceiling. I am not learning the conjugations and I am lacking the ability to conjugate tenses and learn some of the more complicated irregularities in the language. I bit the bullet and hired a tutor that I will be working with twice weekly to help get me over the hump. I put on my resume “Spanish: Limited working proficiency.”

Prior to our first meeting I needed a considerable amount of Pinot Noir because there is something seriously embarrassing about speaking a native speaker’s language to them and potentially butchering it. My heart was positively pounding. I am thinking “Ugh, she is just going to think I am just some silly American with no proper accents, getting words wrong, thinking I am better than I am at this…”. Once we finally connected, I did realize my anxiety in the moment made me forget a lot of things because I was SO worried about getting it wrong that all of my thoughts were getting clouded and all of the words were swirling around in my head… “Is that future conditional? Should I be using ‘usted’ with her? Wait – aren’t there two works for this same thing? Oh, wait, that is for persons from Spain only… everyone else doesn’t use this. Oh! Damnitt. I used ‘estoy’ when *I KNOW* that it’s ‘soy’…” But… at the end of it, she didn’t laugh, I didn’t die… and I really need this to get me to fluency.  It was OK. She promised me that I would get more comfortable with her the more we talk and once my confidence increases a bit.

But! — one big thing I realized from this meeting… I understand a LOT more than I give myself credit for… I kept telling her that I don’t understand Spanish as well when its spoken to me, but I read it really well, however there was almost nothing she said that I didn’t understand… I realized my weakness is actually speaking it once it is my turn to respond. I freeze.

I will be working with her twice a week… I am anxious to see progress and she seems, as a professional teacher, really confident that she will determine the way that I learn and expand upon that for me. I need that.

Well, this is embarrassing…

When I was pregnant with my youngest, and final, child it was somewhat scary. We had to see specialists to ensure that what happened with my second child (uterine rupture – yep…yikes) did not happen again with this little guy. They watched me incredibly closely, weekly Non Stress Tests on the baby, and a much earlier delivery date than what a normal pregnancy would afford.

Ignore this photo… We’ll come back to it… later. 

img_1372

By the time I got pregnant I had started to piddle out somewhat with my exercise regimen… the level of stress that I was living with, from my previous institution’s culture, was bleeding into every single thing I did. I can handle a pretty extreme level of stress, I am pretty resilient once I get through the emotional B.S. that we do upon the initial shock of stress hitting our adrenaline glands; once I am through that bit, I am a survivor and get it done. I felt strongly that I should just keep pushing for that endorphin rush that it would help maintain my mental toughness – but ultimately, when the endorphins were not getting me through it, I chose rest. I chose rest, my favorite wines, and food. Salty sweet things and friends and my husband and my kid’s activities and wine… I started to become inconsistent as it was before I got pregnant. As an aside, let me tell you how much your life will change when you move from a toxic, exhausting, culture that isn’t fit for anyone – to a culture that is happier, more employee-centric, more work-life balance. Trust and believe.

So, when I found out that I was pregnant with my littlest one, they benched me. Yep, my doctor team benched me. They told me that I could do the elliptical but not impact sports. I was relegated to the DL. And that was that… Shortly after this I was put onto the dreaded progesterone that makes you feel awful, tired, hot, anxious, sick – all. the. time. I tried to elliptical to thwart any weight gain and then the nausea, dizziness, overwhelmed me – and that was all she wrote. I didn’t work out for 8 solid months from there forward. Relegated to that DL in gloriously heartbreaking fashion.

Which brings me to now. I bought an elliptical and a treadmill last year and built myself a little gym space with some free weights, a scale, fans, a television. I was committed. I stuck with it for a good length of time – the scale didn’t move, despite my consistent eating and exercise habits… I knew it wouldn’t but that didn’t stop me from getting down about it and feeling like this was an exercise in futility. I have thyroid disease so that means I have to work twice as hard as a person with a normal thyroid… so, after a 100lb weight loss in my life and only gaining back 10lbs of that 100 over the last 5 years in tiny increments… that’s something I should really celebrate. Doctors tell me I am in great shape, my blood work says my body is healthy, my same clothes all still fit with the exception of a couple dresses. I am healthy. My body is healthy and strong.

But. That photo. Those results. Socked me in the gut. I signed my fourteen year old and I up for 5k that contributes to a cause that is pretty near and dear to us – transplant donors and recipients and their families as we are a donor family; my husband’s father. Granted, if one of my best friends wouldn’t have pointed it out to me – I wouldn’t have sought it out. I definitely used to seek them out – shiny medals on my wall… post-run beers and snacks with other runners. Now. I don’t.

Pause. Do you know how they refer to certain players in baseball have something called “the yips”? … where, as I understand, the pitcher can’t pitch to certain bases – a form of anxiety? One of the pitchers for the Cubs used to experience this, making it easier for other players to steal bases when the pitcher had possession of the ball. Lester. That’s it. But, he was still a great pitcher, right? (I am going to be marched through the streets and burned at the stake as I am Cardinals fan living in Cardinal nation. Sorry. Just an example.).

I have had that. The runner’s version of “the yips”. I have had that with regards to running outside. I have been far too afraid to run outdoors since having my son, than I was ever afraid to prior. Its not agoraphobia, I love being outside, being in the public, going outside, all the things. Its this… I would sign up for races with my friends and run in the dark in the rain and slip on wet leaves and dash through parking lots or run on blacktop during the hottest months of the year in St. Louis or (the day I met my husband) run with the WAY WRONG pair of running shoes on (the ones with holes in the top and bottom to release heat) in an inch of ice and slush to the point where I was not sure if I would make it at the end of mile one because I could no longer feel my frozen, wet, feet… I have been too scared to run outside; so many things could happen. I could fall. I could injure myself. I could, I could, I could… I could what? No, the real reason is likely buried just below the surface… The real reason is that I don’t want people to see me “failing”… lagging… or starting to fall into this weird societal perception of moms with three kids who have “let themselves go” (I have not.)… The real reason is that I don’t want people to see me struggling, whereas before I felt like they saw me as this 27 year old, tan, young, gazelle in cute workout clothes who had only had *2* kids and was working out 60 minutes plus every single morning… But, in that same moment of self-reflection, I remember that I started falling off my consistency when I was falling in love, when the hours I had previously as a single divorcee needed to be filled with something constructive, were now being occupied with just that. Falling in love. Enjoying concerts. Drinking wine. Sleeping in – intentionally – because I wasn’t waking up after sleeping ofr only a few hours shrouded in wonder about ‘What’s next for Alyssa?” and then going to the gym at 4AM. Enjoying great food. These things are all OK – these things are all GOOD! – Better yet, GREAT! My performance was a casualty, but I wouldn’t trade it the other way.

Now, here we are. I’ll post it again. *Big Gulp*…

img_1372

…That, to me, in comparison to my previous performance… is crap. I intentionally chose to do intervals with the hope the knowledge that my speed will come back. At best, had I not done intervals – I could have hovered somewhere close to 12/min a mile unless I wanted to fall off the treadmill due to shin splints.  But, this is me bearing my soul, my embarrassing embarrassing soul, with photographic evidence right before I train for five consistent weeks for a 5k that I will race with my fourteen year old where aforementioned fourteen year old will inevitably… beat me.

But, today. I got the endorphins; the ones that get you through until the next time you need them to get you through something sad, disappointing, stressful, worrisome, and then you do it again…

We all need our own place…

I gave up on blogging a long time ago. I think that I felt like a lot of people feel when they are pouring their soul onto “paper”, who is listening? What is the purpose of this?

I think most often I felt like I was standing in the middle of a crowded room talking to myself and nobody was even glancing my direction – however, this time, perhaps it is different.

I think that I need my own place to share my self, chronicle my adventures, my family, my job, my and anything I have to offer that I think would be valuable.

Welcome to this place…