How We’re Doing, Part 3: Me!

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January 31, 2014 by Julia

Umm, it’s a little weird to openly write about oneself and how one’s self is doing (I mean, I do it all the time, but to start out a post with that as the subject, first and foremost, is like ASKING for a bout of self-conciousness.)

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Also, the fact is, I’m doing pretty well. Isn’t that the most boring thing ever? I have no trouble writing about the rough times, the dark days, the challenges. It’s harder to draw upon happiness and turn it into an interesting conversation, though.

Reaction GIF: smile, Elijah Wood, The Lord of the Rings

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Oh well. A boring blog post is a fair trade for happiness, I suppose.

Here’s where my head’s at these days:

If I begin to feel overwhelmed or discouraged, I use the mantra “Just do the next right thing,” as my motivation to keep moving through the work of life. It’s so simple, and yet it encompasses pretty much every situation. It works for me because I tend to over think, and then I get stuck in my head…while the house and kids quickly fall apart around me. (Amazing how fast that happens when you’re not on top of your game.) Sometimes I just need to use my inner moral compass, and then take action. Suddenly, I’m okay again.

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Most often, the right thing to do involves something I’ve been procrastinating about, or something I’m uncomfortable with. But sometimes the right thing is actually to let go of stuff, or be selfish in order to re-fuel myself. Sometimes it’s to choose art over practicality. Sometimes it’s just to clean up the kitchen even though you already did that four times today. Sometimes it’s to make the kids help clean up the kitchen even though you know it will take three times as long, and it will be like hitting your head against a wall, and it won’t actually be done to the same standard. But you don’t want them thinking you’re their full-time maid, right? So chores for them it is.

Reaction GIF: sad, grumpy, please, Michelle Tanner, Full House

Get back to work, weakling

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I think “do the next right thing” has a lot to do with my current feeling of wellness. In sort of the same vein, I’m also interested in acts of kindness, whether they are random and directed at strangers, or done for loved ones. There is a lot of happy-making in there.

Also: I am also getting rid of stuff, and acquiring less stuff, and organizing our stuff, because the more squared away my environment it, the better I feel. And the less stuff we have, the less stressed out I am. It’s pretty straightforward.

I’m also aware of being in a good place in life. I like my life and the people in it. I look at my family and my heart overflows with gratitude and surprise. How did I end up with this?

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Part of it is the current stages of our children. It’s been exciting and liberating for Fiona to start kindergarten this year, and Jack has fully left babyhood behind. Things are easier around here because of those two facts, and yet I don’t feel like they’re growing up too fast. (Well, maybe I do a little bit.) But Jack is still adorable in that toddler way, and Fiona is still sweet on her mom. We are nowhere near the teen years, which I know will be an entirely different challenge – we are just entering the “golden age” of childhood.

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And I am loving it. I am loving the conversations Fiona and I have at night when I am snuggled up in her bed with her, and I am loving Jack’s cute speech patterns, and I am loving our family days on Saturdays, when we all hang out together.

You guys know how I hate to make everything all sunshine and flowers, and it certainly is not that all the time around here, but I have to admit: I am happy with my husband and children, and I am deeply in love with them, and we are safe and funny and average and delightful and that makes me a very, very lucky woman.

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I am also feeling somewhat balanced these days. I know “balance” is a perfectionist, nearly impossible goal, and I don’t stress myself out trying to achieve it. There is never enough time to do everything I’d like to do. Such is the nature of life. But I am motivated to try to do as much of it as possible, and I am interested in what the world has to offer. When I am depressed, things lose their luster, and I lose my ability to move. But I haven’t felt that way in a long while, other than an exhausted day here or there.

I am inspired and intrigued by the people and things around me. I get to do the things that are most important to me: care for and enjoy my family, write, read, get crazy or lazy or honest with friends, travel for a weekend, drink wine, discover new music.

Reaction GIF: yes, nod, excited, Portlandia

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Our little chef on Christmas morning

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A typical evening of writing for me

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Do you hate me yet? I’m feeling very hate-able. Let me fill you in on my current struggles.

I still feel insecure about my appearance, and wish I could just lose ten or twenty pounds, but then I think the only way to do that is by dieting, and I’m kind of morally opposed to that these days, unless we’re talking serious obesity-related health issues. So I go back and forth on the “dieting as kindness towards oneself/caring for oneself” vs. “actual self-acceptance as kindness towards oneself” debate, and the self-acceptance keeps striking me as the right choice, but the debate never goes away.

One of the latest unflattering photos

One of the latest unflattering photos

I suppose I just don’t want to wake up a hundred pounds overweight one day. But really, that’s not going to happen. It’s not like my eating is out of control. I just eat when I’m hungry, and I sometimes eat for fun. I don’t want to hear about sugar addiction or gluten-free or health fads. I just want to basically try to eat healthy-ish without deprivation or obsession, and leave room for some “fun” foods like ice cream. That’s it!

Reaction GIF: contemplating, waiting, John Travolta, Pulp Fiction

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In other struggles…Jack doesn’t always nap these days, and that is rough. Any stay-at-home parent will tell you naps are his or her lifeblood. Now, I’m not ready to declare Jack “done with naps” until he’s at least three, because sorry – two-year-olds need naps whether they think so or not. And it’s going to take more than an “off” week to convince me otherwise. But if I leave him in his crib for 45 mins and he’s still fully awake, screaming “MOMMY!!!!” as I’m trying to finish my twenty minutes of yoga, I don’t really feel okay about keeping him in there any longer. And then by the time Fiona’s home from school and it’s time to make dinner and chaos has been intruding on my personal space all day (because of no nap), I’m…yeah. Struggling a lot more than I would be if naps were a daily given.

Reaction GIF: angry, grumpy, Amy Poehler, Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation

NO. YOU WILL SLEEP.

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Reaction GIF: no, scream, crying, Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker, Star Wars

The realization that your child will not nap on this day

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Reaction GIF: despair, Ally Sheedy, Breakfast Club

Pull it together, mom.

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And it’s cold as fuck in America and I’m sick of it and the constant bundling and un-bundling of small obstinate children.

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And I’m tired of scheduling stuff and half the time I don’t even want to go out, but FRIENDS I LOVE YOU, and also IF I STAY COOPED UP IN THIS HOUSE I WILL GO INSANE, so let’s text back and forth on my craptastic phone a million times trying to coordinate a play date or a girls’ night out or a movie. Once I’m out, it’s all good, it’s just the scheduling for an entire family, you know?

Reaction GIF: scream, angry, fuck this shit, Ewan McGregor

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Reaction GIF: tired, Michael Cera, George-Michael Bluth, Arrested Development

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So I turn 35 next week. You know how really young people complain at their birthdays that they’re getting old? I’m not going to do that, because I am no longer really young. I guess 35 is sort of young, but I am officially past the age where if I published a novel or did something else brilliant my age would be part of the press release. No “young novelist” or “prodigy” status for me. At this point I would only be considered young if I became the president of the United States.

And I suppose I’m okay with that, because of this gosh darn happiness that just washes up on my shores almost every day.

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4 thoughts on “How We’re Doing, Part 3: Me!

  1. Amanda Wilder says:

    Yup I hate you. JUST KIDDING I love you and your whole cute family. I want one! I also use that mantra sometimes it is helpful… I know read it or heard it somewhere, but now I can’t remember where.

    • Julia says:

      I love you, too, Cuz!!! And you will have one!
      And us thinkers need something to get us moving, sometimes – that mantra is quite helpful. I’ve seen it lots of places, like Momastery and maybe Anne Lamott.

  2. just love this. yay YOU!

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