2015: Staying true to myself

It’s been a while, WPeeps.  My life has been too busy for me to make time for me, as I’d feared it would become.  As arbitrary as the gateway of New Year’s is, it’s always a good time for reflection.  I want to say so many things about 2014, but I’d really like to talk about what’s ahead in 2015.  So let’s get on with the recap and pre-cap:

Looking back at 2014: How’d I do?

My non-resolutions for 2014.  I didn't include "happy".  Maybe I should have, or maybe I am assuming that it will be a given.  Hm.

Look at that optimism, 1 year ago!

Here are some of the things that have happened in 2014.

  • I’m back in the classroom, teaching 6th grade math full-time.  I’m using my classroom time to learn more about how students learn, and to get reconnected to schools.  I go to work daily knowing what needs to be achieved in a day, and I try my best to do it.  I’m really enjoying being part of a lovely and supportive staff that treats each other like family — the good and bad of family — and I accept dynamics for what they are.  I work (mostly) efficiently and constantly from about 7am to 6pm, but I try to leave work at work, and spend minimal time outside of work on work things.  CHECK: Professional, stable, sustainable, prosperous, productive, appreciative, confident, educational.  NOT QUITE:  less angry…or clean.
  • I’m going to be part of a founding team at a new high-tech school next year, and serving as the head of instructional technology.  I am excited to flex all my experiences building culture and systems for students and staff, and grow and learn in this new professional opportunity.  CHECK:  Professional, proactive, productive, fearless, confident, and exciting!  NOT QUITE:  fearless.  Not quite fearless.  There is some fear that is not quite latent.  It could be disguised as excitement.  Or gas.
  • I had a huge closet edit in June – my friend Kattie came over and brutally edited out two-thirds of my closet, and made me throw away things that I loved dearly, like a lot of my hand-knits that really didn’t fit well (and were mostly boleros because I got lazy about finishing objects…and decided they were long enough).  In addition to the closet edit, I did a large makeup edit as well and have had more fun learning how to use my makeup and wearing makeup.  There’s more editing to be done, but the purge was a good start.  CHECK:  Fashionable, appreciative, confident, reflective.  NOT QUITE:  Well, fashionable is always a work in progress.  Maybe I should stick to confident.  I feel better about my clothes and makeup.

    So much delicate work.  No, it doesn't fit, and it never did.  Why didn't I just make it longer??

    Yes, I made this.  So much delicate work. No, it doesn’t fit, and it never did. Why didn’t I just make it longer??

  • There’s a baby on the way in 2015.  Any day now in the next 5 weeks of 2015, actually.  This has forced me to manage my diabetes in a rather rapid and drastic fashion.  I now do multiple finger-sticks a day.  I take insulin regularly (at least 4 more needles a day).  I’ve even managed to lower my A1C to a normal level (from a high of 13+ to last recorded 5.4). I’m not even sure what that means for my diabetes post-pregnancy.  One hopes for “cure” or reversal, but I have come to terms with what lifetime management of the disease might look like.  I have managed to only gain about 12 pounds throughout this pregnancy by keeping mildly active (I guess my gym apathy earlier in the spring was due to regular exhaustion) and watching what I eat somewhat carefully.  I use a Fitbit with some regularity to help monitor my insulin needs as well as try to maintain some baseline activity.  CHECK:  healthy, proactive, physically “active”, and definitely (re)productive.  NOT QUITE:  fearless and exciting.  More on that as we move to 2015.
Roscoe is no longer going to be the baby.

Roscoe is no longer going to be the baby.

2015:  O. M. G.  What have we done?!

Yeah.  A baby.  I could tell all the stories of what it’s been like so far, but after doing my share of surfing around on the internets, it’s really nothing earth-shattering that’s happened in this duration of gestation.  I’ve been REALLY tired.  I’ve seen MANY doctors.  Everything looks NORMAL.  Worst symptom:  rhinitis and exhaustion.  Best symptom: getting my ass in gear about my diabetes.

So I guess I’ll just tackle the hopes and fears for 2015.

I fear:

  • That I won’t be able to be myself anymore.  All the things that I have just come to terms with about myself over the last (nearly 4) decades — that’s all about to be “something else” that I don’t even know.  I worry that my foodie love life is over.  I worry that I will never travel again.  I worry that my crafting days are over.  I worry that my hard-working days are over, and I’ll have to be more flexible about my “get it done” compulsion.  I haven’t finished a craft since June or so.  I’m missing a 2nd snowboard season in a row.  Life is over as I know it.  Everyone keeps telling me this, and I get it.  I even get the fact that I don’t even “get it” yet.

    Okay, I finished ONE project since June - a set of boo-boo bunnies for my Secret Santa.  The cats want to eat them.

    Okay, I finished ONE project since June – a set of boo-boo bunnies for my Secret Santa. The cats want to eat them.

  • That my house will never be clean again.  That the construction here will never be finished due to time, money, and priorities.  That our “home” is on indefinite hold.  I have a few posts in draft mode brewing about this “lifestyle” that is our home, but I haven’t fleshed them out yet.  In short, we bought a fixer-upper, and we’ve been working on it for upwards of 2 years.  We’re not done.  We’ll never be done.  And now, we’re racing time to get ourselves to a state where we can live here with a baby.  I’m confident we’ll make do if we don’t make it in time, but it’s definitely a fear that weighs on my mind constantly.  We haven’t had many guests over since March because it’s been that much of a disaster.
  • I won’t know how to be a mother.  I’m not excited yet — it’s mostly been panic and fear.  Every melting down child around me that I’ve seen in the past few months paralyzes me with fear.  My kid is going to be that guy in the grocery store melting down because they can’t have something NOW.  My kid is going to be the one that makes themselves so anxious that they force themselves to vomit.  My kid is going to be THAT GUY, whatever that guy is.  So. Afraid.  And I’d like to say that I have high parenting standards, but I know that 1) I have no idea what my standards are at this point, and 2) every single kid is different.  So regardless of genetics or my upbringing, I have NO IDEA.  Terrifying.  And this is not the extent of my fears about my child, but it’s a starting point for me to articulate some of this fear.

I hope:

  • I can still have my own goals for 2015.  I started a list on my Notes of things I wanted to accomplish in 2015.

    2015 so far

    Notice how “baby” is one word of one line in 2015? I’m sure it’s not going to be like that in real life.

  • I can still grow at work now that work-life balance is about to take on an entirely different meaning.  I have so many things that I want out of work for next year, for myself, for my community, and for the students that we are going to serve in the school.  It is exciting, and I hope that I have the capacity to accomplish what I want or accept my limitations and still do my best.
  • I will have time to write and reflect and save memories for the future.  I have taken very few “maternity” pictures or recorded few moments in the latter half or 2014…but I need to work on preserving memories for people beyond myself now.
  • I will learn more about our growing family and what it means to be a family beyond cats (and dogs).

We’ve already had a lot of challenges getting ready, and I KNOW we’ll never be ready, but oh well, time’s up and here we go…I hope we’re prepared for 2015.  Because it’s January 1, and 2015 is here, and it’s time to buckle up for the crazy ride.

Happy New Year, happy 2015 to all!

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2014: Non-resolutions

My original plan was to make 2014 the year of personal metrics and analytics.  It seemed a good way to get more into the analytics that I claim to love, but rarely practice in real life — apparently I’m a fly by my gut kinda person.  But I asked about metrics for my 2013 resolution, and didn’t manage to make myself accountable for my big goal, which was to be nicer to myself, and therefore I was not particularly successful.

Rebecca Pacheco put out a post on Friday about non-resolutions that really made me re-think resolutions in general – she reminds us that we know what we want our year to look like, and to write it down.  This is a departure from my plans, because what this entails is describing general feelings rather than measureable actions.  But after mulling it over for a few days, I am thinking, why can’t I be accountable for the way I feel?

All these inspirational quotes of making yourself be happy and challenges of #100happydays…my thoughts on this waver between “this is totally doable” and this comic about treating physical illness like we treat mental illness.  (I’m not saying I do or do not have mental illness…just…if it’s so easy, and one could just BE happy, well…that’s what this comic says.)

I guess for metrics, I could just look at my list and say, yes, I feel like this, this, and this today, and no, I didn’t manage to feel like that today, but we’ll try again tomorrow.

I doubt that Rebecca really intended for this list to be a measurable way to keep yourself accountable for the 2014 that you want to have, but it forces me to think of the new year as new intentions rather than new actions.  I never know when a new action is going to stick, but if I set intentions for the year, then I can adjust actions in accordance with keeping to those intentions.

So, here’s 2014.  Definitely borrowed a few words from Rebecca’s intentions, but I need them for myself, so thanks for sharing, Rebecca.  I’m sharing them with those who are reading my blog so that you have a vision of my 2014 and can be a part of that vision.

My non-resolutions for 2014.  I didn't include "happy".  Maybe I should have, or maybe I am assuming that it will be a given.  Hm.

My non-resolutions for 2014. I didn’t include “happy”. Maybe I should have, or maybe I am assuming that it will be a given. Hm.

I was interrupted about 5 times while trying to finish this post that I have been tossing around for a few days…and was very frustrated and angry…so I guess I can’t tick that off for today…but every second is a new second…so reset and try again.  Also my first two days of being “professional” included an ice storm, and cold cold temps, so I PJ’d it for 2 days.  #likeaboss.

I will also be attempting the #100happydays challenge on Twitter anyways.  Seems like a fun challenge.  Look for me there and engage with me!

Looking forward to a PRODUCTIVE 2014 (among other things)!  Happy new year, guys.

At the junction of Nicki Minaj, worker’s rights, and crazy ants

Roscoe says: introspective hibernation...meow meow.

Roscoe says: introspective hibernation…meow meow.

As 2013 winds down to a close, I start in on the introspective hibernation period that naturally precedes any opportunity for “reboot”.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the choices that got me through this past year, and what I need to be conscious of as I move into 2014, because as the saying goes, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”

I want to take a moment to fully admit that this introspection is the luxury of being in fortunate circumstances.  Startup life is startup life, and in no way am I suggesting that I am living in poverty, or that there are life or death choices for me.  However, it is fool to assume that people do not have to face quality-of-life issues at all levels of income, so this is just me trying to balance what I need for the short term vs. what I need for the long term.

Here are 3 pages that I landed on yesterday that seem to all come together to tell me what I should be thinking about in 2014.

1.  Nicki Minaj

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmj5uVbM-RA

I’m fairly sure that I don’t agree with a lot of things that Nicki Minaj stands for.  But I came across this video through a series of circuitous clicks in my Facebook feed yesterday that really challenges my “don’t rock the boat” and my “accept and make-do” attitude.  If I don’t start standing up for myself and what I want, then what I get is pickle juice.  Check this quote out at 0:53.

“I put quality in what I do. I spend time and I spend energy and I spend effort and I spend everything I have, every fiber of my being, to give people quality… So if I turn up to a photo shoot and you got a $50 clothes budget and some sliced pickles on a motherfuckin’ board, you know what? No. I am gonna leave. Is that wrong? Wanting more for myself? Wanting people to treat me with respect? You know what? Next time, they know better. But had I accepted the pickle juice, I would be drinking pickle juice right now.”

2.  Zero opportunity employers

I have spent a lot of 2013 getting paid in promises and hopes.  And that is well and good, because to some extent, I accept that the connections I have made this year and the things that I have learned and the products that I have created have intrinsic value.  I also understand that I am in a situation where I can afford to take promises as payment, and that is luxury.  However, by accepting that I can be paid in promises at this time, am I implicitly agreeing that opportunity is only for the wealthy and fortunate?  Am I supporting further employment injustice for all?

Again through circuitous Facebook clicks, I came across an opinion piece by Al Jazeera’s Sarah Kendzior  called “Zero opportunity employers,” whose words hit really really close to home, even as she was talking about people in completely different circumstances:

During the recession, American companies found an effective new way to boost profits. It was called “not paying people”. “Not paying people” tends to be justified in two ways: a fake crisis (“Unfortunately, we can’t afford to pay you at this time…”) or a false promise (“Working for nearly nothing now will get you a good job later”).

Maybe in startup life, these crises are not fake, and these promises are not false. Lucky me, I am fortunate enough to be supported by family so that I can pursue these dreams.  But it really highlights the fact that bootstrapping is noble for the rich and idealistic, and opportunity is nearly impossible for the poor and independent.

And then there’s this, more words about not asking for enough for myself:

Teaching, nursing, social work, childcare and other “pink collar” professions do not pay poorly because, as Slate’s Hanna Rosin argues, women “flock to less prestigious jobs”, but because jobs are considered less prestigious when they are worked by women. The jobs are not worth less – but the people who work them are supposed to be.

Although zero opportunity employers disproportionately hurt women and minorities, everyone suffers in an economy that does not value workers.

I do not want to be one that contributes to the suffering.  Yet, I see no clear end to this inequity that I am perpetuating while waiting for promises to become fulfilled.

3.  Crazy ants

This is by far the scariest and craziest story that I came upon yesterday, the hopeless plight of the Texans (and now other Southern states) against the Rasberry crazy ants that are plaguing the area.  Piles and piles and piles of ants take over an area, drawn to sources of electricity, climbing over the dead bodies of other ants as a bridge over poison and traps that have been set up to take them out.  I have never felt more afraid or helpless against something that isn’t directly affecting me…but could…one day…when these ants take over the world.

The whole piece is worth-reading, even for the bug phobic, and as I said to a friend on Facebook yesterday, this all seems like a microcosm of what is going on in our entire country, nay, the world at the present.  How do we stop the massive undulating mess that we are all creating out of our inaction?

…what upsets us is “their pullulating squirming, their cohesion into a homogeneous teeming mass” and their “interminable, directionless sprouting and breeding.” That is, it’s the quantity of crazy ants that’s so destabilizing. As the American psychologist James Hillman argued, an endless swarm of bugs flattens your perception of yourself as precious and meaningful. It instantly reduces your individual consciousness to a “merely numerical or statistical level.”

This is what’s soul-crushing about crazy ants: What wafts off them is the same faintly nihilistic feeling that comes the moment you realize hammering the pound sign won’t connect you with a human being and only funnels you back to the same automated instructions.

2014.  More standing up for myself and others.  Less acceptance of status quo.  More action.  Less inaction.  And fewer ants.  MUCH FEWER ANTS.