31 March 2014

A busy spring is coming.

This spring is going to be busy for me. There are appointments, birthdays, and trips, and this is in addition to a regular school and work schedule for us. Oh, and did I mention I'll be at a wedding Memorial Day weekend? That, too.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be doing a lot of planning and getting ready for the events to come at the end of April and throughout May.

I'm looking forward to it, really. I like keeping busy in my day-to-day life. I usually have plenty to do, but there are days when there's more downtime than not. And those days can be difficult, especially if the munchkins are with Monty.

Of course, the best part of the busyness is that I'm getting the chance to spend time with friends and family, meet new people, and make good memories. I'll take the busy to carry me through to the summer, and then I'll take some time to relax and put my feet up.

26 March 2014

Embracing Self-Care

My go-to is a great cup of coffee.
How do you take care of yourself?
Stacy over at A Delightful Home is doing a community blogging project on self-care over the next month.

I think it's easy for people--moms, dads, siblings, children, anyone--to neglect self-care in favor of the things that Must Be Done. We run ourselves ragged until our bodies physically force us to take a break with a cold or stomach bug, which we rush to heal from so we can get back to it.

So I've decided to participate in this little project. It will help me think about my own self-care and hopefully encourage you to do the same.

If you would like to participate, I encourage you to check out Stacy's post (linked above) and, if you want, post your links on her blog to show your participation. Here's the rundown of the blog prompts for the project (taken directly from Stacy's post):
Week 1--Know Thyself: We'll be talking about our own personal needs and how that may be different for each individual 
Week 2--Health and Spirituality: How does our spiritual and physical health (or lack thereof) affect us 
Week 3--Peace in the Home: What steps do you need to take (or have already taken) to make your home a more peaceful place? This could be the way you decorate, decluttering, organizing, setting up routines. Anything! 
Week 4--Taking Some R & R: This week we will discuss ways to unwind and relax. What restores you?
I hope you will at least think about how you take care of yourself (or don't) during this time. Take care of yourself and those you love.

20 March 2014

Getting help from your support system makes you stronger

I read a blog post yesterday about accepting help. Farah's perspective is as a mother with an auto-immune disease (lupus) who has young children. It's imperative for her to accept help when she needs it for her health as well as the health of her children.

I empathize with her. I know what it's like to be a mom of young ones and to struggle to do and be all to them. I know what it's like to feel like you shouldn't/can't ask for the help you need because why can't you do it on your own? Isn't this what you wanted?

I get it.

I chose to be a mother. I chose to divorce Monty. I chose to move three states away from my entire support system. Isn't this what I wanted? Then I should be the one to make it happen.

The interesting part of coming across this blog post this week is that this is something Yvaine has brought up with me, as well. For a long time, I've had to be the one to do it. (It being pretty much everything.) When it comes to stuff around the house, especially, I just get up and do it. Yvaine wants to help and to be involved in those ordinary day-to-day things that make up a life.

I'm realizing that asking for help is not about relying on others to do what you can't (whether or not you should be able to do it on your own), but about relying on the right people in your life to make you stronger. It doesn't matter whether or not I can do it on my own because I have people in my life who care about me and want to do what they can to let me know they care, and to help make me a stronger person through their words and actions.

So I'm working on asking for help. It's going to be hard for a while. (It was difficult for me to sit and watch Yvaine work on putting together a chest of drawers for me.) But I'm beginning to see that I don't have to do it alone.

Nor should I.

16 March 2014

Fluff and Stuff

From MTTSM, who is a brilliant, funny, and touching blogger. Please, please read her blog!

What is the last thing you watched on TV? I don't actually have a TV, so my screen time is on the computer right now. The last thing I watched was Doctor Who with Yvaine.

When did you last step outside? What were you doing? I walked across the apartment complex to get the mail less than an hour ago. It was beautiful outside.

What is on the walls of the room you are in? There are a couple of notes taped next to my desk, and a beautiful picture of a construction paper vase with hand-drawn flowers from Puck, who said he drew it just for me. I plan to get a frame for it.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? After I was smart and paid off debt, I would buy a new car and a house.

Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.
 I love the ocean, but I get nervous around water.

Who made the last incoming call on your phone? My mom. She butt-dialed me.
What was the last book you read? It was another reread of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read it somewhat frequently and take something away from it each time. I also just started Quiet by Susan Cain.

If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do? 
Well, I'm in an apartment, so there's not much I can think that I would do, really. I suppose I would make the kitchen a little bigger so I could have a bigger sink.
What was the last thing you bought? Florida wildflower honey at the farmers' market. I know, right?

If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be? I think I would choose Jasper Fforde. He's my favorite author, and I would love to talk to him about creating worlds.

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
 Barnes and Noble, of course. Or Soul-Flower.

Is the glass half empty or half full? Neither--it's ready for a refill.
Name something that took you by surprise. Getting tackled by Yvaine this weekend.
Name one TV show you will watch every time it's on. There are a few: Criminal Minds, Law & Order, and Law & Order: SVU.
Name a movie you will watch no matter how many times you've seen it. There are a few of these, too. The Princess Bride, Stranger Than Fiction (even though I'm not really a fan of Will Ferrell's work), and Monsters, Inc.
What's your favorite musical? I'm always up for musicals, but I don't think I really have a favorite. When it comes to favorites, I gravitate more toward plays than musicals (Wit, Proof, The Laramie Project...).
What’s the farthest-away place you’ve been? Germany.

What’s under your bed? 
An empty overnight bag and an empty file box. I don't like having things under my bed.

What is your favorite time of the day? When I get up early before the kids to work. It's quiet and peaceful, and the whole day is ahead of me. It's full of promise.

What Inspires You? People who fight for what they believe/want, especially when they're making positive changes in their lives.

08 March 2014

Still coming out.

Image source
My dad was one of the first people I came out to.* I was in central Illinois and he was in northern Illinois, and I did it over the phone, my hands shaking the whole time.

He was one of the people I was really nervous about telling. I didn't know how he'd react, so I was afraid that one phone conversation would end my relationship with my dad.

It didn't.

It was hard for him, but he listened. He asked a few questions ("Are you sure?" "How do you know?"), and we ended the conversation. In two years, we haven't talked about it since, except the one time he let me know that George Takei is gay when I was up visiting. For the past couple of years it hasn't been a big deal. I wasn't dating anyone, so it never came up. I was gay, but my dad didn't have to deal with it.

Things are a little different now. I'm dating Yvaine, and it's time to talk to my dad (again) about the fact that I'm gay. It's time to let him know that he can't keep pretending I'm straight.

I know it can take time for friends and family of LGBTQ folks to come around. And I didn't want to give my dad an ultimatum or force him to decide right now whether he accepts me or not. What I did want to do was to make him think about it and realize that he can't ignore my sexuality.

So I told my dad I needed to talk to him when he was alone. I wanted to talk before I went up to Illinois for a quick trip because he'd made plans to see me, and if he needed/wanted to change those plans, he'd have time.

He didn't change his plans. Of course, we didn't really talk about anything once I told him I'm dating someone. We're going to talk about it again once he's had time to think about how he feels about it.

On the scope of things, I know I'm lucky. When I came out to my friends and family, I wasn't disowned or lose anyone because of it (at least that I know of). Most people I've told have been incredibly supportive and understanding. Others have been taken aback, but have since come around. Still others (who I suspect are far less supportive) just don't talk about it, but don't treat me poorly because of it.

I'm thankful for that. But still, I know that dating Yvaine changes things. Saying I'm gay is one thing. Being gay is something else entirely. Apparently.

I don't know what's going to happen when my dad and I talk again. He might be fine. He might not. He might want to meet Yvaine. He might tell me that someone I'm in a relationship with is not welcome in his house. He might avoid the conversation for far longer than he should.

In the meantime, we're having dinner when I'm in town next week. And we'll just have to see what happens.

*A teeny bit over two years ago, actually.

06 March 2014

No offense, I just don't want to be around....you know....people.

Image source
I am an introvert.

This means that while I often enjoy social interactions, I need to "recharge" by having time on my own. In a world that seems to laud extroversion and look down on introversion, it can be difficult to be as introverted as I am.

It was more of a challenge for me when I was in school and when I had an office job. Being surrounded by extroverts all day, many of whom (with the best of intentions) tried to get me to "come out of my shell" or "try new things," was exhausting. When I got home all I wanted was to be left alone, thank you very much.

Since then I've done some reading about introversion.* At first, it was in an attempt to overcome it. I wanted to be more extroverted. I wanted to be what I thought was "normal." But I know better now. It's not something to overcome or hide or apologize for. I'm introverted because that's just how my brain works. And there are many strengths to an introverted personality.

Now when I read about introversion, it's to learn how to better embrace it and fit it into my lifestyle. I want to know how to talk to extroverts about introversion so they can better understand why I'd rather stay home and read than go out to dinner and a movie and drinks and a party. I want to know how to use my introversion to my advantage in working with clients.

As I continue to learn how to live as an introvert, I'm incredibly lucky to have people in my life who understand this part of me, and who encourage me in all the best ways.

Growing up my parents never forced me to be more outgoing. They encouraged me to do activities and try new things like dance, scouting, baseball, and music. But when I wasn't involved in something, that was fine, too.

Yvaine is an extrovert, but was an introvert once upon a time, and has a genuine understanding of what it's like to be inside my head. We have great conversations, and it's okay if we just sit and muse for a while.

I'm thankful for people who don't take offense when I just need to be left alone for a bit.

I bought Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I haven't read it yet; it's on my nightstand for this weekend. I'm hoping this book will better help me embrace my introvertedness so I can continue to live authentically me with no apologies. And maybe understand myself better.

I like who I am, and who I'm becoming, and this is a major part of it.

I am introverted. And I count that in my assets column.

*Lots of moments of "Well, that explains a lot" in my reading.

04 March 2014

Turn your face to the bright spots.

Image source
I've been spending a lot of time digging up memories lately, and telling stories to Yvaine* about my childhood and early adulthood. As often happens, telling stories about my childhood has gotten me to think about how my perspective of my life has changed over the years, especially recently.

When discussing my life with others, I used to use the analogy of a dark tunnel with the light at the end. Sometimes it felt the light was the end of the tunnel, and other times it felt like the light was an oncoming train.

But I've changed my perspective a bit, and now I see my life as a tunnel with periodic doors along the way--open--to let enough light in so I can see my path. The bright spots let me see where I'm going, help me avoid the third rail, and remind me that there is a world outside of the path I'm on. They give me enough confidence to keep going until I hit the next bright spot.

Funny how perspectives can change.

*Not her real name.