Jan 24, 2014

My One Word 2014: Act...

In a recent post I bagged on New Years resolutions a little bit; or rather, just admitted that I stink at keeping them. Instead I've hopped on the fairly recent bandwagon of choosing a one-word theme to focus on throughout the year.

I was pretty sure someone had written a blog post dedicated to choosing One Word so I Googled it, and it turns out there's an entire website/book/online community dedicated to helping people choose and live out their One Word. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but if it floats your boat, click on the link above and CHANGE YOUR LIFE WITH ONE WORD (no pressure).

So I've been hearing about the One Word thing for a few years now, and I'm not sure that I've chosen a word before this year. I mean, a year is a long time, and keeping to anything throughout the entire year is kind of daunting to me.

But one time a friend of mine told me about her word. We have some similar, um, non-strengths, and that particular year she'd chosen the word "Now" to remind her to take advantage of her time and gifts whenever she could, rather than putting things off until later and crowding her life and schedule.  I really liked that because it was pretty low-key--it didn't require any great shifts in routine or anything--but at the same time I could see how all those little "nows" could really add up and make a difference.

I actually swiped that as a thing in my own life, and I have found it to be helpful, particularly in the  everyday, mundane stuff I'd rather not ever do, but has to be done just the same, OR the tasks I know I hate but sometimes (not all the time, but sometimes) I need to suck it up and stop being a baby about them.  It's got to be done, and if I can do it now, well, it will be done (Sometimes my profundity amazes me (/s)).

Anyway, my friend Emily posted about choosing a word here, and encouraged her readers to post what they might consider for their One Word 2014.  And somehow, rather than my normal scoffing and rationalization why choosing one word was almost as dumb as resolutions, and some other such cynical nonsense, I rather quickly came up with the word ACT.

Now at first I wondered if Act meshed well with my overall theme in life to learn to Relax, but the more I thought about it the more I realized they actually go pretty well together for me.

You see, the whole idea behind Relax is facing my fears and anxieties, not letting them define me. The goal isn't to never be nervous; rather, the goal is to realize one thing that is true about me (I am a nervous-type) and work from there.

One of the things about being a nervous introvert who moves a lot is that I tend to sit back in new situations. At group gatherings I like to observe and get a feel for things and people before injecting my personal brand of crazy into the mix. In general this works fine, but it does take me a while to form relationships and such, and then when it's time to move I find myself going "Why did I not do/meet/share/invite/risk such-and-such sooner??"

But as I was thinking about our Alabama assignment, understanding that it's only for one year, I realized that around the time I normally start feeling comfortable and settled, we will be getting ready to move again, heading on to our next assignment.  So naturally I started to think about what it would look like to challenge myself just a little bit. Like when we get into our new house, instead of collapsing into a shell-shocked pile of goo for a week or two (or four), what if I can somehow manage to jump in full-force (or maybe even 60% of full-force) to get our house situated that much sooner?

Or what if I summon up the courage to somehow be more fully me as I get to know people, rather than holding back for a time, as I often find myself doing? It sounds simplistic, but one of the things I've been learning this time around is that old truth about just being yourself, and those who like you will like you, and those who don't like you maybe aren't meant to be your friends anyway, so why not figure it out earlier rather than later.  What if I take that risk to Act, and then Relax and trust God with the results?

Honestly, it sounds exhausting. I'm not sure how well I'll pull it off, but ever since I mentioned it on Emily's post it has really stuck with me, so I think it's worth a shot.  Also, I'm big into not necessarily aiming for a specific outcome. I'm not sure if that's healthy or not, but in many cases I find it helps me to keep perspective better and stick with the goal, rather than trying to manufacture some sort of rainbow-and-unicorn storybook ending. My job is to Act, and see what happens. Maybe nothing, and that's OK. But maybe not.

How about you? Did you do some resolutions? Or one word? Or did you stick it to the man and do nothing for the New Year?

Jan 21, 2014

Lazy Snow Day, My (Finger In the) Eye...

The following things were true and/or actually happened today:

--A solid 6 inches (or more?) of snow fell in Loudoun County VA, beginning at approximately 8:30 am.

--Weather.com had predicted a 7am snow start time.

--Weather.com is also predicting below-freezing temps until Saturday.

--I noticed the discrepancy and squeezed in a jog as the snow was beginning, but before it started sticking. GOLD STAR: SKERRIB

--My car had an appointment on account of the "Check Engine" light coming on over the weekend, so after my jog the Littler One and I took it into the shop.

--The government was also closed today, so the Cat Daddy was home.

--The Cat Daddy would've been home anyway because he has been sick.

--He was well enough to hunker down on the couch and hog the remote, and keep an eye on the crazies (sort of) while I attended to errands, but sick enough to make noises and need stuff and ask for comfort food for lunch.

--He was definitely too sick to drive. So Honda sent the Littler One and me home via shuttle while they hooked my car up to their fancy machinery and performed diagnoses and prognostications and whatnot.

--When all was said & done the bill sent a dagger through my heart, but my car was fixed in less than half a day. Normally I'd say it's better than a finger in the eye, but today I'm really re-considering that scenario. Like, if a finger to the eye is just for a split second and doesn't do any permanent damage or sight loss, I'm thinking I might take the pain of that over a dagger-bill for car repair. I mean, I once took a head-butt from a baby that left me squinty-eyed for an entire evening. It was truly disruptive, but the next day it was better, and it didn't cost me a thousand bucks. I could endure that. But maybe that's just me.

--I felt motivated to provide the kids with some mental stimulation, so I made His Highness do some of his regular homework and during that time I let the littles glue stuff to paper and draw with markers.  It occupied them for a solid 20 minutes, so I felt really good about that. Also, the glue and marker that missed the paper came up easily with a wet washcloth, so we were all winners at crafts and creativity today.

--Honda shut down their shuttle due to the snowfall so they couldn't come and get me to pick up my car, and the Cat Daddy was still too sick to drive. We were going to wait until tomorrow, but due to a series of plans (both usual and unusual), we decided I needed to pick it up today. Thankfully a neighbor was able to offer shuttle service, plus good conversation to boot. GOLD STAR: NEIGHBOR SHUTTLE SERVICE.

--The Littler One was in fine form today. My favorite highlight included his using his bunk bed ladder to get to some contraband by hanging it from my closet shelf (the wire kind). Meaning the bottom was off the ground. It is still a mystery to me how he managed the balance of it, but manage it he did--I imagine this is where weighing 35 lbs comes in handy--and I came in to find several things on my closet floor where they had previously been up on the shelf.  Second place was shoveling the back deck in full snow gear, except wearing shorts instead of pants.  Last place was injuring his sister--he's learning some hard lessons today.

--On the way home from picking up the car I decided to grab some things from the store as well as a movie from the Redbox, because why not. This was fortuitous planning on my part, as we have another snow day tomorrow due to predicted frigid temps.

--I arrived home to injury on the part of Tiny E. I'm still not entirely clear on the whole thing, but suffice to say that there was blood involved, and everyone is patched up and safe.  The Cat Daddy performed the initial triage, we conferred and decided that home care would suffice, and I took over with the first aid kit and Bactine. Also, Tiny E barely batted an eye and is therefore the champion of all things.

--You know what the Cat Daddy is also too sick for? That's right, cleaning up blood.  One challenge with small children is that sometimes they try to help by getting a Band-Aid for their sister when the wound is too big for a Band-Aid, so their sister follows them around dripping little droplets until they find their way to Daddy so he can do the triage (and call Mommy to urgently demand that she return home NOW).  And blood somehow always appears greater in quantity than it actually is, so Mommy is left hoping she got it all, lest visitors think the snow day involved some kind of household blood bath. On the upside, it came up well and properly, so I think I'd take that over the finger in the eye.

--One of tomorrow's unusual plans is having our new-to-us piano delivered. This involves meeting the seller at 8 am to finalize the sale and do whatever the piano movers need to help them get the piano out of her garage and into our house safe & sound.  Task number one (I assume) was getting the solid 6 inches (or more) of snow out of the driveway.

--You know what else the Cat Daddy is too sick for? That's right, shoveling snow.

--All the children got dressed and consumed three meals, and the Cat Daddy began eating solid foods again. The day's allotment of laundry was completed (though portions of the putting-away were deferred because ain't nobody got time for that in this house), and bathing happened for at least one child (the Cat Daddy is NOT too sick to handle baths, thank God).  Apple cider vinegar was administered in vapor form to two individuals for the clearing out of sinus and nasal passages, although one balked and chose a conventional steam bath instead.  The dishwasher was run twice, and the toys were left strewn about until tomorrow, for when everyone is yelling and bouncing off the walls, and Mom decides to lay down the hammer and make these children WORK, for heaven's sake.

--And somehow I managed to squeeze in the season premiere of Psych on the DVR. Or rather, I managed to squeeze in one and a half season premieres of Psych, as my children disrupted the first showing and I had to go back and replay about half of the episode to gain understanding of the story. Totally worth it.

--I'm uncertain as to the Cat Daddy's whereabouts tomorrow, but it is no secret that I'm very much looking forward to a return of our normal routine (please God, let there be school on Thursday).  And this is the time of year where I start to dream about escaping to the Caribbean. Someday, it will come true...

Jan 17, 2014

January Snippets...

I am on approximately day 10 of the dreaded Winter Crud of 2014. The Cat Daddy taunted me about not getting a flu shot this year, and I was all "Flu shots don't work against a cold!" and besides, he got both the flu shot AND the crud, so either way neither of us proved anything. This is why it's good to live in the United States and enjoy the freedom to make one's own healthcare decisions.

Anyway, I'm this close to being all the way better, but one sinus is being a little stubborn about clearing, so I'm just waiting it out while I feel just a titch behind the curveball in wit and whatnot. So don't mind me if I stare at you more blankly than normal--it's not you, it's my sinus.  Also I'm headed to the doc next week on an unrelated matter, so if it's not better by then I'll answer "yes" when they ask if I'm having any pain that day. It's awesome when patients bring up extra stuff to squeeze into a 15 min appointment, right??

...Speaking of healthcare, I've been seeing this hullabaloo about the FDA making companies pull their antibacterial soaps from store shelves unless they can give a whole lot more substantiation to their antibacterial claims, and also something about triclosan being bad because it's a chemical (Everything is a chemical, BTW. I'm certainly in favor of minimizing the weird made-up ones whenever possible, but the tricky thing about not being a chemist is not always knowing for sure if you should be as alarmed as the article says you should).  I would like to jump on the bandwagon right now and say I was never fully on board with the antibacterial stuff anyway, because it's easier to say "I knew it!" than to have been the one along the way that may or may not have been perceived as "gross" for finishing a friend's gobstopper after she dropped it on the boardwalk a gazillion years ago (immunities!).

I will say this though--as little as I care for hand sanitizer, it has offered a baseline level of consolation in the absence of proper soap and water numerous times in my diaper-ridden season of mothering young children. What's more, it has given the Cat Daddy and me some much needed understanding and solidarity in times of trial, such as when we were road-tripping from Ohio back to Mass, and he was aggravated that I was taking so long changing His Highness's diaper, and went to put the diaper bag away, and I said "NO, I need that!" and he shot daggers at me with his eyes, and was about to launch into a speech about road trips and how getting started is half the battle, and for-the-love-of-all-that's-good-and-holy-we-need-to-GO-already, until I replied with great emphasis, "I have POO HANDS!" To which his demeanor softened entirely and he brought back the bag. Because once you've experienced poo hands, you understand the urgency...

...the countdown for Alabama 2014 is underway, although it's still in the early, I-Can't-Believe-It stages. Back when we used to move ourselves we'd already be gathering and assembling boxes by this point, and strategically planning packing order and whatnot, but we've agreed (some of us more eagerly than others) that the diaper-ridden season of mothering young children is a time to let go of a little control and let the moving company take most everything. This is extremely helpful when it comes to trying to move amid wrangling small kiddos, although it adds an extra phase at the beginning where you have to gather all the things you'll need ahead of time and hide them under lock & key, lest the movers pack them away and you don't see them for a month, as well as an extra phase on the tail-end of things, known as the Filing-Claims-for-Lost-or-Broken-Stuff phase, a subset of which is the How-On-Earth-Did-They-Break-THAT?? stage.

As for me, I'm somewhere between "Here we go again, we're winners at moving by now!" and "O God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?!?" We already have people in place on the receiving end, so we have that to look forward to, and if all goes well we will have quarters secured within the next several weeks. Some of our super-motivated go-getter friends have already signed leases--cycles turn quickly in the world of military school--but because of our holiday travel and overall hectic pace the past couple months, we are trusting there will still be some livable rental houses to choose from...

So overall, instead of a bang, I guess one could say our year is starting off with a kapow, or maybe a zoom, or something.

And speaking of the New Year, I've all but given up on resolutions.  Much like (many) rules, I've not had much success or positive outcome with resolutions--at best I tend to stop after a few weeks, and at worst, well--I guess the worst thing that's happened is that I've stopped trying after a few weeks. So basically, I stink at New Years Resolutions.

I like that One Word thing, though.  One word as an overarching theme doesn't rope me into certain failure at every occurrence, and it keeps with what God seems to do in my life anyway, which is to take me through seasons where I stew & meditate and learn about one idea at a time. So the One Word fits well, and my One Word is "act," which I'll explain in my next post...