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Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something

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Anxiety

Testing

The twins are napping, and for once, the house is so quiet I can hear the wind howling outside.

There are so many things to do. Laundry that needs to be started, floors that need to be mopped, toys that need to be picked up. Phone calls to be made, taxes to be started, dogs to be brushed/washed/walked or hell, even touched or spoken to with more than a “go lay down” when I nearly trip over them preparing lunch. I should make a budget, I should clean out the car (hey! I did one!), I should clean out the fridge, make a grocery list. Seriously, I could write an entire blog post on the things that are left undone.

Instead I sit here, staring at a blinking cursor.

Even when we went through infertility the thought of toddlers scared me. I wanted a baby. I was, in a way, afraid of toddlers. Now that I didn’t want toddlers, I was just unsure of how I would handle it. I can have a short fuse and very little patience if I’m in the wrong kind of mood. I really dislike HATE whining. I understand why it happens; the twins  are at an age where they want to exert more independence but don’t quite have the words to communicate that, so they cry. This morning, Abby threw a tantrum after she slipped and fell during a tantrum she was throwing because I took a long round peg out of her mouth so she wouldn’t hurt herself. Then, I laughed.

BUT I WANTED TO EAT THE DANGEROUS TOY AND THEN I GOT MAD AT YOU FOR TAKING IT AND FELL AND AHHHHHHH!!!
BUT I WANTED TO EAT THE DANGEROUS TOY AND THEN I GOT MAD AT YOU FOR TAKING IT AND FELL AND AHHHHHHH!!!

When she cried again for the 82738972348th time this morning, I had to take a deep breath.

I should pay more attention to them. I should read to them more.I should spend less time on this computer. I should make cutesy little crafts for them even though I am NOT a crafty person. I should be better at managing all of this. I should be constantly posting about how much I love my kids, all the time, especially after what we went through to have them. I should not feel a twinge of annoyance when they wake from a nap an hour early.

I should be honest and admit it isn’t always easy. Actually, I’m not even sure its the whining and crying that bothers me all that much. When other kids constantly whine and cry yes, I get annoyed, and sometimes when mine do I get annoyed, but really what I find I feel is guilt. Like I should be teaching them more words or somehow know how to stop it. But they are almost 2, they are going to have tantrums. I get that, logically, but emotionally I don’t always.

Sometimes I feel like life is testing me, and I have absolutely no idea how I am doing.

Trust Your Journey

I’ve been in a weird place lately.

I know I’ve mentioned at least once that I’ve had a hard time putting together any cohesive thoughts for a blog post outside of something that already comes with an outline. As someone who thrives on organization, when my brain gets disorganized tend to cling onto anything that already has the steps written out for me. As if that is going to fix the jumbled mess. I feel scatterbrained. I write things down and still forget them.

There has been a lot up in the air in our lives lately and as a result I’m having trouble trusting what I already know. My job change brought with it some unforeseen issues and is moving along a little more slowly than anticipated. We’ve been awaiting news on a permanent teaching position for Bryan for awhile now and it still looks like no answer is coming anytime soon. I feel the uncertainty bleeding into other areas of my life – how I feel about myself as a professional, how I handle change, my running and training, how I’m raising the twins.

I went into my marathon training fully aware that my plan had me accumulating fewer miles than many do. My whole focus was to finish uninjured and not worry about time because it took me many months to increase my mileage enough to even consider training for one. Still, here I sit, 3.5 weeks from race day wondering if I made the right decision.

I went into this job change aware that things were going to be crazy and possibly unpredictable for awhile. Now there is a large part of me wondering why I, a person who thrives on predictability and consistent scheduIes, made a change that means there is a decent chance that scheduling changes can happen often and without much notice. A change that means very little predictability.

It is difficult while you are in the mess of anxiety to remember that the decisions you made were made for sound reasons, to remember that you once felt confident in the decision. I often hear runners tell those who are fretting about an upcoming race to “trust your training”. I’m finding it one of the hardest things to do, not only in terms of running but life in general. It’s so easy to get caught up in what if’s and anxieties, forgetting why you’re on the journey you’re on in the first place. Sometimes, you just need to be patient and remember that you’re on this path for a reason.

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I am trying.

10 Thoughts Thursday – The One Liner Edition

1. It has seriously, seriously been difficult for me to come up with a cohesive, thoughtful post lately that doesn’t already involve some theme (twins monthly updates, marathon training recaps etc) because I seem to have that little brainpower left.

2. What do you call a bear without teeth? A gummy bear.

3. Is it just me, or does it always seem like there are 8 billion things to do and only 10 minutes in which to get them all done?

4. What happens to a frog’s car when its breaks down? It gets “toad” away.

5. I do not handle change well.

6. How do astronomers organize a party? They planet.

7. My confidence in my skills, all around, has been lacking lately.

8. A drunk walks into a bar with jumper cables around his neck. The bartender says, “You can stay but don’t try to start anything.”

9. I truly believe that laughter can assuage almost anything, which is why I tend to be sarcastic, crack jokes, and make every other thought something silly.

10. Two men broke into a drugstore and stole all the Viagra. The police put out an alert to be on the lookout for the two hardened criminals.

HAHAHA!

Stretch

The day after my long run Saturday, I was, perhaps not surprisingly, still sore. I plan Sunday to be my yoga day for a reason, but that day I was more sore and tired than usual. So instead of searching out my usual Power Yoga/Interval videos, I decided on a Therapeutic Yoga instead, figuring it would go at a slower pace and allow more stretching.

Typically, Power Yoga is yoga I prefer. I don’t sit still well, and often become impatient when I have to hold poses for what I feel is too long. I have this mentality that workouts should raise my heart rate and tend to feel like they are useless when it doesn’t. That day, even though my brain was wanting to push, my body needed the rest. Knowing that, though, didn’t make breathing through the longer series of stretches any easier for my brain that never stops, and I still felt myself feeling frustrated.

I’ve written before about how I’m not very good at staying in the moment, my mind wandering away like a curious toddler. At least during power yoga, my heart rate is high enough and I am moving quickly enough that I am, at least some of the time, able to focus my mind on my balance and breathing. I couldn’t do it sitting in these stretches. My mind was everywhere, mostly wondering if a recent change I’d decided to make was the right one.

When I began working after graduate school, I worked with adults for 2.5 years, but didn’t feel I was really making a difference. After that, I made a fairly large leap by switching over to pediatrics. As it happened, I worked for my current boss prior to graduate school in the office, and then as a semi-nanny to his son. I’ve since worked at his company for the last 4.5 years. For various reasons that I don’t feel the need to write about here, I fought with a decision to change work location for a good couple of months. It was by no means an easy decision, and I was breaking apart every detail, wondering if I’d made the right choice. I have fantastic co-workers and he gave me an opportunity he didn’t have to offer, which made the decision that much harder to make. Change makes me nervous, and though I’m more than wiling to stretch myself to the limit when it comes to physical fitness, in other aspects of my life I’m not as flexible.

When the video ended (I admit I did fast forward a little), I felt stretched but still unsettled, much like I did in my brain. I set a goal to hold a forearm stand by the end of 2014 and honestly haven’t practiced much until recently, realizing we are nearing the end of the year. Feeling somewhat desperate for something that would give me a feeling of success, I kicked my legs and up prepared to balance them against the wall. After a second, I realized something.

I was holding them up myself. I was holding the forearm stand without the wall.

Granted, this whole experience was over in about 3 seconds, but it was enough to make me realize that I’m more capable than I give myself credit for, and in this case, not physically, but mentally. I can stretch myself mentally as well, and make it out ok.

Time to move forward, and keep stretching.

Time (#MicroblogMondays)

Microblog_Mondays

There is never enough of it, it goes way too quickly, and yet it seems to be at the root of most of my worry.

Get the twins to bed on time. Get to work on time. Get up so I can have time to exercise. When was the last time the dogs were walked? Am I spending too much time working? Do I spend enough time with my husband? I spend too much time online. Do I give the twins enough one on one time? Do I let them spend too much time playing together/alone? Should I be spending more time reading to them? Who has time for the animals anymore? Do I spend too much time exercising and not enough time on my family? It has been a long time that those baby clothes have been gathered upstairs. Has it really been that much time since they fit into these? Time flew by and somehow they are 18 months already. I feel bad complaining about time when I know there are others, and I once was one, who would take my time worries in a heartbeat.

How do I spend less time worrying about time, and more time using it wisely?

Thoughts On the Mat

I pulled out my trusty yoga mat yesterday. I’ve been practicing once a week regularly since my injury and have only recently become comfortable enough with the routines (I use you tube videos) and strong enough to really appreciate the benefits of many of the poses.

A competitive person by nature (shock, I know), when I practiced yoga in college I was always trying to be able to do what the person next to me was doing. A few *cough* years later, I can finally appreciate the idea of practicing only for my own benefit without worrying where others are in their own practice. A few weeks ago I finally managed a headstand with both feet up in the air, but it was still several more weeks before I wasn’t fighting my weak abs and really understood why people want to “get upside down”.

I’m proud that I’ve come this far, but I still have a consistent, nagging battle that I fight, both on the mat and off. In all the classes I have taken (in person and on you tube), the instructor often talks about the importance of being present on the mat. That means simply being where you are, right then, and not worrying or thinking about anything else. I constantly have a million things running through my mind. No matter what I’m doing, I’m thinking about what needs to be done, what is next on the list, what has been left undone. I’m checking my text messages and my emails. I’m thinking of dirty dishes, the next days work schedule, the next mornings’ workout, calculating how much time I have before nap is over so I can complete said to do list.

I can write an entire blog about thoughts on the mat because I am horrible about keeping my mind from wandering. What I’d really like is to be able to title my blog post “Thoughts On the Mat” and simply leave the body blank. And it’s not just in yoga that I have this issue, it’s with the twins, with my husband, with my friends, at work, in bed when I should be sleeping. Every minute of every day.

Every once in awhile I’m able to really focus on the music, concentrate on my breathing, and put all of my energy into my pose. For those few seconds, I am calm, relaxed and, at the risk of sounding corny, zen.

I wonder how many things I am missing. How many little moments with the twins I let slip away or openings for a heart to heart with Bryan I let slide by. I’m afraid I’m going to spend all my time in the future, and wake up one morning and realize I’ve missed my life.

Anyone out there good at staying present?

Let’s Be Honest – Burnout

 Today’s guest post comes from a good friend who isn’t a blogger but wanted to share her story:

This guest post has been a long time in the making and I want to thank Theresa for being ever so patient with me. I met Theresa when I was a foreign exchance student attending her high school for one school year. First, we became friends and then sisters when I suddenly found myself in need of a new host family and she persuaded her family to give hosting a foreign teenager a try. That must not have been an easy decision and I am forever grateful that they welcomed me into their home. Over the years, we have kept in touch and have had opportunities to visit each other as well. Our friendship is very important to me, even though we are miles and time zones apart.

I want to share my story about burnout with you because it is something that has changed my everyday life quite a bit, even though it happened many years ago. I had been working as a Psychologist for a couple of years when our clinic got a new Head Physician. His managing skills were not the most advanced and, while things seldom are that simple, it was pretty much because of him that our whole staff soon became a mess. Everyone was stressed, each trying to understand what was going on and why. There were smaller cliques forming, many got defensive because their whole careers, ways of working and professional expertise were suddenly being questioned. I never did find out if that was the intention of the new chief but that’s what he made it feel like. Many suffered from various physical symptoms as well as growing more and more stressed each month.

Prior to all this, I was already tired like many are at the beginning of their careers having a lot of work to do and many things to learn. And, as an idealistic, enthusiastic newbie that I was, I strongly believed that the mess we ended up being tangled in, could and would be solved. So I did my damnest to do my share: I listened and consoled my co-workers and mainly tried to understand what was going on, why things were the way they were and what could be done to make it better. I am a Psychologist, after all 🙂 The thing is, though, you shouldn’t try to treat professionally something you’re emotionally too much involved with while trying to manage your everyday tasks, too. Again, not to make things too simple, my husband was between jobs at that time. The whole situation was what eventually caused me to burn out.

The problem was, that while I felt and knew that I wasn’t at my best health anymore, the changes had occurred so gradually that I didn’t realize the extent of the situation until I found myself on a sick-leave, looking like a skeleton with all the weight I’d lost, unable to sleep or relax and pretty much unable to eat anything because of the constant nausea and IBS symptoms. It was, in fact, my husband who told me to go to the doctor who instantly put me on sick-leave. I ended up staying home for six weeks, underwent some medical tests, e.g. EGD which is not the most pleasant of procedures, and just tried to manage eating something and getting my sleep back. All the tests came back negative which meant there was nothing wrong with me physically. I was diagnosed with depression even though I didn’t have the clinical symptoms of depression. Burnout is not accepted as a valid reason for sick-leave but since I was nowhere near healthy enough to be at work, my doctor and I agreed depression was a close enough diagnosis to give me the rest I desperately needed. After returning back to work, I applied for a professional mentor and met with her once a month for about a year. Otherwise, I was left on my own devices. I did see a fellow Psychologist who is also a trained Hypnotherapist, for a few sessions, to try to find ways and skills for relaxation.

A couple of years had passed, including a marriage crisis and buying our first own house after the said crisis, when I was spending the weekend home alone. I was on the computer when I randomly stumbled on Youtube and a long-forgotten TV series that had been my utmost favorite when I was a teenager: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman starring Jane Seymore. It is hard to describe what happened at that moment but as I was watching clips of that old favorite of mine, it felt like my world which had been black and white suddenly got lit with colors. It took a long time to realize it but at that moment, I got my emotions back. Sure, I had been living my life and been back to work, and I even tried to revive my old hobby with playing music which didn’t last long. I had been on a robotic, survival mode without, once again, realizing the situation. I had been performing the necessary tasks of the everyday life but everything else had been cut off to save energy, which I still didn’t have enough. I never thought I’d be telling people that an old TV-show saved me but that’s exactly what happened. I started to crave the feeling of feeling something again which gave me the much needed boost to slowly start looking for the things that used give me energy. I gradually found books again. For many years, I had been in too bad a shape to have any energy to be able to follow a narrative story. I went back to the TV-shows, movies and music that had touched me as a teenager. I found new movies and music that made me feel. The internet has it’s risks for sure but to me, it gave my world back. With colors.
Two years ago I had a setback when my IBS syndromes got worse and I lost my sleep again. After finding myself, again, on sick-leave, I finally got too angry with it and started to actively work on the why’s and how’s of myself. My doctor referred me to a nutritional therapist / a Dietician who introduced me to the FODMAP diet. I am now eating gluten-free and mostly dairy-free food with lots of limitations to different sugars including fructose which is why I am also skipping many fruits. I eat simple, home cooked meals with different meats, cheese, rice or potatoes, green salad, tomatoes, berries, some fruits etc. It is not as limited as I just made it sound like. Thanks to this diet, my stomach is in better condition than it had been for years and I’ve gotten back the weight I had lost and hadn’t been able to gain back because of the IBS problems. I am thrilled to be able to live the everyday life again without having to stay at home and close to the bathroom all the time. Of course, I have good days and not so good days with my tummy and it most likely will never be what it was before I got ill, back when I could eat pretty much anything I wanted, but I am glad with what it is today, too. The biggest discovery is that I now know for a fact that my stomach is wiser than my mind: it is what makes me stop and listen to myself when I have been ignoring other warning signals that have tried to tell me to rest more. My stomach is my most trusted advisor, although I am still learning to take the time to listen to it with my full attention.
Two years ago, my doctor didn’t see it necessary to refer me to a Psychiatrist but I went to see one on my own and after a full assessment I got a referral to psychotherapy. I was also diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Interestingly enough, the medications he started me with are Lyrica / pregabalin (yes, you read it correctly) for the anxiety and sleeping problems and nortriptyline, an old drug for depression, for my IBS symptoms. Both with a mild dosage. Nortriptyline can cause some gastrointestinal side effects e.g. constipation for the people with normally functioning stomachs, which is exactly why I am now on it: to make use of that side effect! Sometimes it is very much needed to think outside the box, which is exactly what my Psychiatrist did. I am now on my second year of psychotherapy, going to sessions twice a week. It is a slow process but this second year seems to be quite a lot more productive than the first. On my own, I have also made the discovery that I belong to a group of people who are so-called Highly Sensitive Persons, a concept by Elaine Aron, PhD. I don’t like labels but the description of a HSP does explain many things about the way I live my life and react to things, e.g. why I am more prone to exhaustion than some other people. I am also ‘a good girl’, trying to do what’s right and expected, which is another reason why I am vulnerable to stress.I have made the decision to cut back my working hours by 20%. Some have called me courageous for it. To me, it’s not being courageous, it’s what I needed to do in order to take care of myself. Some are envious that I have more time off than themselves. That time is spent on recovering from the week’s work load, to give my stomach a break and to rest and sleep if I haven’t been able to sleep as much as I needed. I don’t meet my friends as often than some other people do, because socializing on my free-time after spending my day taking care of others at work has proven to be too taxing. Sometimes I have to decline invitations to social gatherings during the weekend as much as I would enjoy attending them because rest is what my body and mind need more at the time. I need a lot of peace and quiet in my free time in order to be able to take good care of others as my profession.
I have spent quite a lot of time trying to come up with a good way to wrap this guest post up with. Since I seem to be unable to, I have decided to respect that and interpret it as a sign that says I am still on the road to recovery and thus, a nice wrap-up is not yet possible. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years, Theresa might do another round of Guest Posts and I might well be able to write a more conclusive ending to my post then 🙂
I am a rather private person, by my personality and because of my profession. There are not that many people even among my close friends that I have shared my full story with. Reading this, you have helped me come to terms with what I have been through these past few years. I thank you for that. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. As you all go about your own lives, please take the time to take good care of yourselves because it truly is the best gift you can give both to yourselves and the people you love and care about.
Wishing you all blessings, smiles and good health,
yours, M.
Still looking for more guest posts! Leave a comment if you’re interested or visit here. You don’t have to have a blog to submit a post!

Time [for] Change

(my apologies if this is a bit jumpy)

I purposely went to bed late last night, but was up at 630 this morning anyway, my body thinking it was 730. Damn body clock.

I don’t sleep the same that I used to. That has changed. I used to be one who could fall asleep practically once I hit the pillow, and even though I’d tend to wake up a few times in the middle of the night, could always go right back to sleep. Now, it takes me 30-45 minutes to fall asleep and I’m finding it harder to fall back to sleep once I’ve had my 1st, 2nd or even 3rd bathroom break. Strangely so far it has not made me useless during the day, but is super frustrating at the time.

Last night I was restless, tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable. And not because of my stomach or any physical reason (that I could tell – it’s still a bit early for that I think), I simply could not get my body to calm down and rest. My mind jumping from one thing to another and my body responding in turn.

There are lots of big changes coming.

I am excited, but admittedly also scared. Sometimes, caught up in my anxieties -my mind wonders how these changes will affect me, our relationship, us as people. We are getting closer to the end of the first trimester, but not out of the woods yet. I wonder and worry about sleep, money, and whether we will be good parents. Whether we will have to deal with health problems having twins. How we will fare as a couple. I think that this is all normal, and deep down in my heart of hearts I know we will be fine.

I am happy and grateful to be here – we waited a long time and went through much heartache to get here. It is just that even the best things come with their own changes and anxieties. Sometimes I forget to take this one day at a time, to enjoy one day at at time, to worry about one day at a time. I get caught up in my own head. It makes me restless. People talk about the emotional ups and downs during pregnancy and I think mine manifests more as anxiety.

It is useless worry. Worry will not change anything, except perhaps for my mood. I seem to write about worry often, and it is worse with my Type A “want to be able to control everything” personality. Bryan and I had a conversation on Friday about essentially this same thing. The kicker is I know so many that would kill to worry about this rather than their own infertility. The irony is not lost on me.

I finally gave up going back to sleep (it is really 730 after all :)) and came downstairs for some breakfast (there is no waiting to eat for me nowadays!). I sat at my computer with my cereal still a little restless. And probably not coincidentally, I thought of the serenity prayer – a little piece of wisdom that makes a lot of sense.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Letting Go

Today marks 9 weeks.

And I have, somewhat inadvertently, wished most of it away by doing things like counting down days to to the next appointment or ultrasound. I swore to myself many moons ago that I would enjoy every day of being pregnant, and in some ways I have, but in many others I’m wishing time away.

Pregnancy has been extremely nice to me. I’m not sick. My fatigue is mostly limited to recent wishes to spend more time on the couch.  I don’t have headaches or nausea. I don’t have food aversions. I do get some light headed-ness, but my biggest “complaints” surround hunger, thirst and potty breaks. Oh, and some interrupted sleep. I can already see myself growing.
And instead of enjoying it, I worry.

At 4 weeks I worried about BETA levels. At 5 weeks I worried about BETA levels still. At 6 weeks I worried about seeing heartbeats. At 8 weeks I worried about those heartbeats disappearing. Even now knowing my risk of miscarriage is much lower, I still worry.

Some of this is the nature of having gone through infertility. We know all the things that can go wrong. If it hasn’t happened to us, we’ve seen it happen to others. But this is getting ridiculous. I cannot spend an entire pregnancy worrying. I refuse to get to the end of this and realize I worried the entire pregnancy away.

In my defense, I’m not worrying ALL THE TIME, and I know some worrying is normal, but this is too much.

Belle @ Scrambled Eggs posted a fabulous quote recently:

“If you get caught up in the worst case scenario and it doesn’t happen, you’ve wasted your time. And if you are caught up in the worst case scenario and it does happen, you’ve lived it twice.” -Michael J. Fox

Good call, Mr Fox.

It’s time to let go.

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