Homeowner

Standard

Yesterday, something enormous happened. I closed on my first (and hopefully only) house. I did not necessarily think this was going to happen in the immediate future, but a string of events led me to be sitting across from a woman at a table with our realtors and arranging to purchase her childhood home (and handing over a check for more money than I ever expected to possess in my lifetime).

I tend to be a pretty sentimental person. Although I once had big dreams, in time I outgrew the idea that bigger was better and that new houses were the way to go. After being married and living in a house that never felt like a home and then retreating from that marriage and living in a “temporary” apartment situation for almost five years, I found myself, through the incredible generosity of my grandmother, who we lost this year, able to consider a home purchase. My plan was to buy in early 2017, but a house found me, and I found a relator, and the last two months flew by, and that is what led us to be sitting around that table yesterday afternoon.

The house that will become my home was built in 1949 and purchased into a family in 1953 who would own it up until yesterday. A marriage was built in my house. Family memories were made. Children were raised. And the woman who sat across from me yesterday gave me an enormous hug and told me that she knew I would love her parents’ house and even passed on to me the original deeds from their initial purchase that her sentimental side had held on to for all these years. She handed me the history of her childhood home. And now I get to make it my future.

This year has been a beast. There has been a lot of bewilderment and fear and discomfort as we have lived through the election season, and we have been forced to acknowledge some difficult truths. There has been a lot of loss…people I care about have lost spouses and parents. I lost my grandmother quite suddenly, inasmuch as the death of a 91-year-old can be sudden and unexpected. It has, quite honestly, been a rough year in the NICU…lots of sadness intermixed with some incredible miracles. I have learned a lot about myself…what I find important, what I am willing to put up with, what I need from other people, what I need from myself. I can’t say that I am sorry to see the year go.

But it also brought me home, to my little brick Cape Cod on the hill. The house has known love and has been loved, and I love it already. I look forward to many happy years living there.

I’m forty years old, and I love graphic t-shirts.

Standard

In the interest of self-discovery, I have been (probably over-) thinking my wardrobe choices through the years. I went through high school and college in the nineties, and that involved a lot of flannel and more than one pair of overalls (oh, how I loved overalls…I would still wear them today if I could find the perfect pair). I also had  a strong hoodie period, a big sweater/clunky shoes era, and a long run of yoga pants for everything. A few years ago, I thought that perhaps I was one of those people who should wear cute tops with delicate patterns and then solid cardigans over them. During my eight months as the clinical coordinator at work, I bought a whole slew of Pixie pants in a variety of colors and added some wedges to my shoe collection, creating a business casual-ish wardrobe. And denim always figures prominently…I am committed to blue jeans.

I have a bit of a Zulily habit, and it was through Zulily that I started seeing these fun graphic t-shirts with a little bit of a message. There was a period of time when it was easy to find workout tops with “inspirational” (shaming) messages about running so you could eat chocolate and drink wine or about how you should push yourself until you drop because if not now, when? That is not the kind of graphic I am looking for. I like things that are a little nerdy, truly inspirational, kind of zen…and certainly feminist! Some of my favorites right now remind me to ebb and flow, point out that feminism is not a dirty word, and help me remember that empowered women empower women. Part of me thinks that I “should” be wearing something more mature. But then I remember that I am not supposed to be “should-ing” on myself, so I put on my “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Serotonin” t-shirt and head out to face another day.

I also decided to bring back pigtails today. And I think I am rocking them.

Sometimes I like to kick it old school…

Standard

I have a variety of journals lying around my apartment, all in varying states of use. I kind of put a lot of stock in the type of paper on which I am writing and the feel of the pen on the page, so there are many times when I start out in some new and “exciting” (stationery supplies are very exciting for me) journal that I have found, just to abandon it in favor of something “better.” And while I love the platform that blogging presents, I do still sometimes have stuff to get out of my head and onto the page that maybe does not have to go out to any person who may stumble on my blog someday. I tried a completely anonymous blog for a while (shared only with my therapist and with members of a pro-anorexia community that I used to wander through in an effort to trigger myself into restricting my food intake) that spoke pretty openly about all that stuff in my head, but I didn’t stick with it. It still felt too exposed.

speakthetruth

Anyway, now I keep a journal, and my recent favorite version of my journal is a sketch book with relatively heavy paper so I can write in it with Sharpies and gel pens and other such instruments without having to worry about it bleeding through. I sat last night and wrote about eight pages, and some of it is certainly not ready for prime time here on my blog. Some of it will stay between me and the page and my therapist. But some of it can be shared, so that is what this post is about. (There are politics discussed below. If you don’t care to read about politics, maybe don’t read much further.)


“And tonight…I write. Countless topics swirl through my brain. What do I want to pull from the possibilities? And where have they all come from? And how can I reach the rawness and desire and fear of the surrounding emotions and so they can be observed as more than just words on a page?”


“One week ago, Donald Trump was chosen as the President-elect. In the past year, I have gone from being relatively apolitical to being someone who is pretty outspoken about her beliefs. My beliefs have very little in common with those of Donald Trump. I find myself with a strong desire to help make it better…to lend my voice and my efforts and my dollar to teach love. I want to approach every single thing I do from a place of love, which seems incongruent to me because even recently I have wondered what love really is. I have wondered if I was worth that. Well, I refuse to wonder anymore. I believe I was made to love and be loved, by God or Sebastian [this is a Glennon Doyle Melton reference from the event I attended for the Penn Foundation several weeks ago] or whatever name I want to give to this Higher Power. I was not placed here randomly. I finally realize that I am answering to a series of “calls.” I say that I do not create opportunity for myself but am good at grabbing it when it presents itself. How did I not realize that these opportunities presenting themselves were being set in motion by someone greater than I…that this is what it feels like to be called? Of course, I have not usually had the peace and silence in my mind to tune into these messages, at least not to the extent I do now.”


“What do does my particular version of “saving the world” look like? Is it just advocacy? Calling a senator’s office to ask him to act on an issue? Sharing information on social media that is fact-checked and not fear-inducing but lends to a greater quest for knowledge? Wearing a safety pin? My BLM magnet and HRC stickers on my car? Finding a church? What will I be called to do?

I was talking to Silver [my yoga teacher] after yoga yesterday about what has been going on in America this week. And I said to her that I was so glad that if something like this had to happen, it happened at this time of my life, when I am 40. Twenty years ago, I would not have had the insight to see where any of this could lead. Twenty years from now, I may be unhealthy or exhausted or unwilling to devote time and attention to a cause. There is a reason that pertains somehow to me that this is happening now.”


“And speaking of my 20s…what was I doing? When I think back to that time of my life, I really see fear as one of my primary motivators. I was hustling for worthiness, even then. What did I miss out on because I was too scared to follow a path that seemed to be appearing before me? What did I lose by following the well-lit path and others’ footsteps instead of forging my own trail or at least following someone into the unexplored and unexpected? Even though it may have been someone I had 100% trusted 100% of the time?”


And that is what I feel comfortable sharing in this arena. In fact, some of that leans a bit toward the uncomfortable side of my fine line, but I am going to let it lean. This doesn’t feel like a time to retreat. We have too much work to do.

Self-care

Standard

I go to therapy a lot, and we talk about self-care a lot, especially in group therapy. I don’t have a great list of things that represent self-care to me, although I do have a pretty clear understanding of what my inner child considers an attempt at self-care that most definitely is not. These are things like: (a) an entire mini ultimate cake from Wegmans (Luckily, I threw half of it away before I could really ride it down a shame spiral), (b) a new pair of shoes (I have many pairs of shoes. I wear perhaps ten of them in regular rotation.), (c) a date with my “friends” Ben & Jerry (self-explanatory), and (d) ten new [tank tops, t-shirts, coloring books, self-help books, pens, water bottles…you get the idea] because I want to “treat” myself. I am not saying that I do not still engage in those behaviors. I definitely due, usually when my defenses are about as down as they can get (so…all last week, once the news of the election results hit, sending my sleep patterns into chaos and my Facebook feed into a frenzy). Wait, there’s another one…burying myself in social media. Not self-care. Still something I do.

So what is self-care for me? And what prevents me from pursuing it? Reading fiction is self-care for me. I love to immerse myself in another world and live someone else’s story through the words of my favorite writers. Watching a good movie while paying full attention to it is self-care for me (I am a chronic multi-tasker…chronic multi-tasking is NOT self-care for me). Attending my individual and group therapy sessions are self-care for me. Emailing my therapist when I am having a really bad day is self-care for me. Coloring in adult coloring books mindfully, without the TV droning in the background is self-care for me. Taking care of my body is self-care for me. Eating something that will not make me feel yucky and sluggish is self-care for me. Yoga is self-care for me, as long as I am in a mental space that I can see it as more than just a series of asanas and can check my ego at the door.

I don’t pursue self-care because I don’t think I deserve it on days that I did not accomplish “enough.” I don’t pursue self-care because my to-do list gets too long, and I “don’t have the time.” I do “have the time” to read every post that has been posted to my local Pantsuit Nation’s FB page and use it to feed either my disgust with the world or my desire to wrap my arms around the entire world and give it a big hug. I do “have the time” to play seven games on Facebook in rotation, watch eight episodes in a row of RHONYC (Viva la marathon!), look for the perfect area rug for my new home, and research thoroughly whatever nursing interest is at the forefront of my mind (right now, it’s a tie between integrating treatment for postpartum depression into the OBGYN office and supporting NICU families through their NICU journey and beyond), and watch every true crime documentary I can find on Netflix.

It’s hard to consider yourself worthy of self-care when the world has so many other things it wants you to do.

I am heading out the door to yoga this morning. I am going to step on to my mat, and I am going to try to leave everything else off of it. I am going to try to lose myself for an hour and a half in the community in the studio but solitude on my mat, on the supportive and soothing voice of my yoga teacher, on the knowledge that I am with a group of people who wish to do the same. And then I will use this time I gave myself to fuel the rest of my day.

Namaste.


I am back from yoga. It was everything today. I left secure in my kula (a Sanskrit word that can be translated to “community of the heart”) and feeling incredible love from the community of yogis that I found in the studio with me this morning.

Always, always, always. Love wins.

Torn

Standard

I have now slept two nights since we all learned that the glass ceiling was merely cracked this time around but remains to be shattered. The first night, I had a very vivid, rather disturbing dream that I was in some semi-scripted reality show that was a combination of The Amazing RaceThe Real World/Road Rules Challenge, and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, and we who were on the show were being forced to complete obstacles over and over again until we got to the desired result. We also moved further away from the desired result every time we were forced to do a retake. I awoke at 2 AM, sitting straight up when the me in my dream hit the water another time after failing again at one of these retakes. Last night, my dream involved going into the woods and using our wits to secret ourselves away from some violent rebel factions that were preying on refugees so that we could act on these refugees’ behalf and get them away and to safety. A couple of my fellow nurses were involved, as was Olivia Benson (I watched the latest SVU just before turning in last night) and a couple of people with whom I went to high school. It was an odd mix of people. I was not initially welcomed into the group, but through perseverance, I became a part of the movement.

Dreams are often based in something. And if I analyze a bit, I can see that, although I am trying to remain calm and not make this about different political parties and not be divisive in what I post on social media (while still advocating for my beliefs…I don’t think this can only be done through divisiveness), this election is very much affecting me. I cannot and will not pretend not to be disappointed that my candidate didn’t win…that a woman is not going to become the POTUS for the first time in history. I cannot and will not pretend that I do not have serious reservations that the man this country elected is not up to the task. However, I can avoid bashing those who voted differently than I did. That has never been the message to which I wished to lend my voice.

I saw this making the rounds of Twitter and Facebook and thought it included the exact words that needed to be said at the exact time I needed to read and then say them:

if-you-then-i

My commitment to equality is not diminished because we are going to have a different President than I wanted. My desire to fight for what I consider right has not changed because the President-elect is not the person I chose for the job. To quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.” I will always believe that love is stronger than hate. I will always believe that love wins. And if you can’t feel that right now because this is still so new and scary for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of us out here who have enough love to go around and who will hold space for you and wait for you and fight for you and love you.

Having a person in the White House who does not seem to agree with any of the truths that I hold so dear is not the ideal situation. But he is not in charge of what I do with my voice and my actions. So I ask you to remember this:

we_belong_to_each_other_momastery_square_poster-r986ff1a3089147408cb0cb67edf25cde_wv9_8byvr_630

Today and every day. We belong to each other.

I am not sure what to say.

Standard

I have spent the night on the couch, sleeping off and on while watching the election returns. Multiple times, I fell asleep with the knowledge that Trump was ahead, just to fall into a dream where Hillary pulled into the lead. Each time, I woke up and was disappointed to realize that this was ACTUALLY happening. My fellow Americans were electing Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. How could this be the choice “we” were making?

I sit here staring at the cursor on a mostly blank screen and don’t know what to say. I am a woman who believes in other women. I believe in fighting for equality. I am a proud member of the Human Rights Campaign. I have a Black Lives Matter magnet on the back of my car. And I am sitting here watching a card-carrying member of the “Good Old Boys” Club call on to the stage man after man after man and talking about how great they are. A quick shout-out to his female family members, and then a parade of old white guys…

He says he is going to be going to work immediately for the American people. But which American people? Does he mean only the ones that “look” like him? How about women? Members of the LGBTQIA+ community? Those with darker skin than he has? People who were born outside of this country? Those who have sought refuge within our borders?

I feel like we have failed those who have come before us in this fight for equality. I am concerned for what tomorrow will bring.

 

No matter where you go, there you are.

Standard

I have something big and exciting and scary and exciting and thrilling and exciting and a little bit unbelievable and exciting going on right now. And I am trying not to get TOO excited. One of my innate defense mechanisms when things really seem to be going my way is to make sure I temper my excitement with a little bit of…distance, I guess. So that if things don’t work out in the way they seem they are going to, I have put a little bit of space between the expectation of having everything work out and myself. That way, if everything does not work out, I maybe don’t have as far to fall.

So that being said, I am in the midst of purchasing a house! And I have found a house I love in a neighborhood I love, and I have spent time in this house and can feel that it (she) is waiting for me. The house has a long history in one family, and they find that their time there has passed, and now it is someone else’s turn to take her and love her and make her into a home.

Earlier this year, my mom told me that her childhood home was listed for sale on Zillow, and I took some time check it out. My mom grew up in a Cape Cod-style house on Long Island, and I spent plenty of time there when I was a child. I have great memories of that house. Well, in the years since my grandfather passed away (I was in eighth grade at the time) and now, the house has been completely redone. It’s beautiful. They had some good work done on it. But when I saw it, I felt like, for me, the house had been ruined. I could no longer picture my Aunt Sophie sitting in her chair or my grandfather eating breakfast at his kitchen table. Instead, it was a strange house that had been passed along to strangers. And it made me very sad.

So I have found for myself a Cape Cod-style house in one of the many boroughs that are around here, and it has not been completely redone. It has been well-cared for, and it has been updated (the important stuff…roof, electric, etc.), but it many ways, it feels the way my grandfather’s house did to me. It feels like a house that has known some good years and has been a home. And if all goes according to plan, some time in December,it will be my home.

I have written before about how I like to hold my career up as the main measure of who I am. Tell me about yourself. I’m a nurse. What do you do? I’m a nurse. What do you enjoy? I’m a nurse. I have been other things in the past, certainly. I have been a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a cousin. I have been a friend and a classmate and a coworker and a girlfriend. I have been a wife and a stepmother. I have been a part of my own smaller family and part of my ex-husband’s larger family. I have been a teacher and a program director and a professional Girl Scout. I have been a student.

I am listening to Glennon Melton Doyle’s first memoir because I last read it several years ago and wanted to go through it again. I love a lot of what Glennon writes because I find her easy to relate to, even though I am not a mom and she is kind of a mommy blogger. She is open and honest, and she is someone who seems to be unapologetically herself. I appreciate that because it is a goal I have for myself…unapologetically me. Work in progress.

Anyway, listening to some of what she wrote before her marriage took a turn down the road that eventually led her to separation (and a planned divorce), I am surprised at the difficulty I have with it. Whenever she writes something about how amazing her husband is, I find myself getting almost rage-y because I know what she has shared since then. I know that, as there was in my marriage, there was infidelity in her marriage, and I know that, just as I did not, she did not ever expect it, and I feel like it is bringing up “stuff” for me. Mostly, it feels like excruciating compassion and also “all the feels.” And I don’t have a great track record with all the feels.

So between the “normal” stuff (work, school, general function in the world) and the house stuff (which some studies have shown to be among the most stressful life events there is, right up there with divorce and bereavement), I have this “stuff” stuff. And apparently, if you go back far enough in my blog, you can have the opportunity to feel similarly about my former life as I do about Glennon’s. It’s there in the archives for anyone to see.

So I was a wife for about six years, and I spent an additional six years before that in a relationship that included some stepparent-ish stuff. All the fun and not much of the responsibility, actually…but baseball seasons and basketball seasons and football seasons and volleyball seasons. Christmas trees and Easter baskets. Family weddings. Births and deaths. First Communions and Confirmations and graduations. A college search. A lot of love, even if I didn’t always know how to show it. And I have not been any of these things for almost five years now, which is when I was served an eviction notice from life as I knew it (this is a Glennon-ism) and found myself starting over with very little of my pride intact but with my career, at least, to hang my hat on.

The years since then have both dragged and flown by. My former stepsons, whom I am not in touch with, are adults. My ex-husband’s family, whom I am not in touch with, beyond the occasional Facebook interactions, are strangers. I still have a career that makes me proud, and I have a lot of good stuff coming up in the future. But I think that buying a house for myself, to live in and create a home from and to shape my life in, is a harder transition than I expected it to be.

I am IN LOVE with this house, but I am also scared of it. My spending habits have gotten me in some trouble before, and I am presenting to myself this blank canvas, and I “need” to fill it. But is there anything I actually need? Am I wanting for anything? I am fed and clothed. I have plenty of shoes. I have electricity and heat and running water, excellent healthcare, a kick-ass therapist (XO), a caring family, friends who show me time and again that they care for me, an awesome dog and a mediocre (awesome if not for the vindictive peeing thing) cat, and exciting plans for the future. But when I feel overwhelmed by life, I often go in one of two directions (or sometimes both directions at the same time, which is easier than it sounds)…I either shop, or I eat. And man, could you ask for a better reason to shop? It feels like I am taking care of myself, planning to fill my home with new treasures.

But I don’t want just to fill my home. I want to be deliberate about it. I don’t want to go to a big furniture store and buy a living room set. I want to buy things as I come upon them and really love them instead. I don’t want to mindlessly fill my spaces with things that don’t make me feel like my home is my haven. I want to add little touches and make improvement as time goes by, something here and something there, always a work in progress. I don’t want to use my house to numb my feelings and check out of my body and hold people at arm’s length. But that is kind of what I am doing (okay, that is mostly what I am doing) now.

So who am I? Well, I work as a nurse. I am a sister and sister-in-law, a daughter and a granddaughter, a niece and a cousin. I am an ex-wife and former stepmother. I once worked as a teacher, but I don’t any longer. I am still a Girl Scout. I am someone who roots for the underdog, can be overly analytical, does not take compliments well, and sometimes finds direct eye contact to feel like too much. I am a reader and a writer. I am a dog and cat mama. I am a student, both in my post-Masters program and in life. I am a vault with secrets and full of compassion and someone friends can rely on. I sometimes overstep, but it is because of how much I care. I want to save the world, but first I have to worry about myself.

I am a work in progress, and it’s not so important to see the whole path in front of me. I guess, instead, I can live on a little bit of faith for a while as I figure things out.