Moving!

We have quite a lot of boxes at the moment. We’re driving down to the new apartment on Saturday. It’s going to be a huge change for all of us, but I think it will be very positive overall.

Xander will be starting his PhD program. Katja is starting a new preschool. That is somewhat bittersweet, since she will miss her friends and teachers who have known her since she was quite small. She really enjoyed her visit to the new preschool, though, so hopefully she will settle in easily. I have a job lined up and I’m very happy with it.

There are year round farmer’s markets, which, after years of the short growing season in the desert, excites me more than it probably should. We’ll be living half a mile from one of them. I am considering joining a running group, possibly starting rock climbing for cross training again, and we get to explore new hiking trails.

I will miss a lot of people in Reno. We’ve made some very dear friends here over the years. On the other hand, we’ll be closer to some family, we have friends about an hour away, and it’s a completely different environment in many ways. Katja will get to learn to swim, we get to start growing herbs on our patio, I will hopefully not be allergic to everything that grows there (well, at least for the first year or two), and the neighborhood is very, very quiet. This last point is important because we have a neighborhood dog that barks all night and fairly regularly wakes Katja up. When that happens, everyone gets woken up. That does not improve the next day at all.

I am taking a little bit of time off from running because my hip is not particularly amused by the fact that I’ve been packing and moving boxes a lot since last week. Almost everything is packed and organized. Over the next few days we will get to see several family members we don’t get to see very often, do a lot of driving, move a lot of boxes into and out of trucks, and probably not get enough sleep, but it’s the beginning of a big change for our little family and I’m very excited to begin our new journey.

A little bit of an old home

I went on a trip this week and my change of planes was in San Francisco. I was on relatively small planes (still commercial, but one held maybe 30 people) so I walked the tarmac to get into the terminal and then again to get out to the next plane instead of going straight from the plane into an enclosed tunnel.

When I got off the plane and took a deep breath, I smiled. Completely unselfconsciously, I lifted my face to the wind and breathed in the air with an edge of brine to it.

I grew up by the bay and I also spent a few weeks every summer near the beach in Southern California. I love the smell of the ocean. Spending those few minutes breathing the air I grew up with, tasting the salt and enjoying the wind, was surprisingly relaxing. Lately, relaxation has been something I have had to focus on. That travel day, between getting to breathe such familiar air and spending almost five hours straight reading a book, relaxed me more than I had any reason to expect.

Travel is not generally relaxing. There are timetables, pressure changes, people who wear too much perfume, and the general feeling of being overwhelmed by too many people. This time, though, was different. The planes were on time. I didn’t have any schedules I had to meet on the other end, just a night in a hotel room before an interview. My hip didn’t object to the pressure changes. No one wore too much perfume. Someone made the mistake of eating sauerkraut on the second flight, which almost caused several people to be sick, but that dissipated fairly quickly. I like sauerkraut, but that smell in a small, enclosed space with that many people was a seriously bad idea. I got off the plane in San Francisco, checked the boards for where the next flight would be, turned around, and walked back to the gate I had just left. I can’t remember ever having that happen before. All of the pieces just seemed to fall into place for once and it was a pleasant several hour long stretch of reading a good book and actually being able to relax.

I won’t be stopping in San Francisco on the way back, unfortunately, but I will be able to curl up with a good book and not worry about anything for a while. No lists, no stress, no packing or scheduling or making sure everything is done. All I need to do is get on a couple of planes on time. I can do that. In a week we’ll be packing the trucks and Xander and Katja will be moving, but for a day I will not be thinking about that. I’ll just be curled up either on an airplane or on a seat in an airport losing myself in the enjoyment of an interesting book. It will be easier because I got to breathe San Francisco air, however briefly; I spent a lot of my childhood curled up with books, too, and I was quite good at letting go of everything else while I was reading. I’m going to enjoy practicing that skill on the way home.

Meditation

I’m under just a little bit of stress right now, to say the least. Job hunting, packing, a few large projects at work, and staying on top of normal life is not working well for me right now. My allergies decided to flare up (I can’t wait to move because I’ll have a break from allergies for a while!) and my doctor, in addition to a few other ideas, told me that I need to meditate.

Holding still and not thinking are far from my strong suits. I like moving, being busy, and my brain is always going. Since the nonstop brain activity is the problem, I’m now supposed to hold still and let my brain empty out.

Meditation is much harder than it sounds like it ought to be.

I cannot sit with my legs crossed for very long yet due to my hip still getting a bit achy at times. I can sit against a wall or I can lie down to meditate. A friend of ours also mentioned walking meditation, which I will be trying soon. I have mostly just been working on the traditional “hold still and focus on your breathing” version and I’m finding that quite challenging.

My perception of meditation is probably part of the issue here. I think of it as actually making your mind be peaceful, having nothing in your head, and letting go of everything, a state of deep peace and stillness. I am learning that it is more about acceptance of what is, a state of thoughtless awareness, which is a phrase I’m still working on understanding.

I am learning to accept my brain’s constant jumping from one subject to another when I don’t have a specific focus. I’ve tried holding an image in my head, such as a word or a shape, and that helps a little, but I constantly have to refocus. If I don’t have a focal point, I end up on tangents and start thinking hard about all aspects of some problem I’m working through. I understand that using a focal point is not ideal, but I think it’s where I have to start.

I sit or lie down. I think about all of my muscle groups in turn and try to relax them. This is not just for relaxation but also because it gives me a pattern to begin. I always do this, so it prepares me for meditating and makes it a little easier to let go of the world. It’s rather like my warm up exercises before running. I know that once I start warming up I’m going to be running soon, so my focus shifts to running-related thoughts rather than all of the normal flotsam and jetsam in my head. Relaxing muscle groups triggers me to start letting go, at least a little bit, of everything that has happened that day.

Once I have relaxed everything, I let my mind drift. This is where I’m struggling most. If I just let my brain run, I end up thinking of something, seizing it, and then working on it while I’m supposed to be meditating. I am learning to let thoughts slide through my brain without catching my attention, though that’s not easy. The same friend mentioned above described meditation as having to pull back your attention over and over from getting tangled up in specific thoughts. She sat at the kitchen table and said “I start by having a focus at the end of my nose” and mimed a clown nose on the end of her nose. “Then I do this…” and she sat still for a moment, then her eyes wandered, she grabbed at the air to her left and put the nose back on. Another few moments of stillness, then somewhere down by her foot got grabbed and replaced. It made me laugh. It also made me feel better about not being able to keep my brain empty; clearly I’m not the only one for whom this is a challenge.

I was also getting frustrated with muscle aches, itching, and fidgeting. I felt like I should be able to overlook these things, but I get distracted by them and then focused on them and then I lose any semblance of a calm, empty mind. Accepting what is my reality right now makes that a little better. Yes, I have an itch. Scratching it won’t kill the meditation; it’s just another place my attention drifts, another reason to bring it back again. It’s okay to not be able to hold peacefulness for very long.

This challenge has been difficult for me, but I am still working on it. I’m listening to people who are capable of meditation but also pragmatic about it. This is a way to calm down my brain and make life easier for me in the long run. It requires practice, like any new discipline. I can still work at it and I think, over time, it will help.

What’s the worst thing that can happen?

There’s a movie called Butter which came out in 2011. I really love the movie. There is one scene that stuck with me and that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Ethan is talking to Destiny about how to handle something she’s afraid of.

Ethan: Do you want me to go in with you? Don’t tell Jill. She always likes me to think positive. What I like to do is this. I imagine all the bad things that could possibly happen if you enter this contest, like you could die… of a tragic butter overdose. There could be a rabid grizzly bear hiding inside this very Moose Lodge waiting to tear your face off.
Destiny: There could be a python inside.
Ethan: What if this place is full of monkeys with a deadly virus?
Destiny: There could be the ghost of Hitler.
Ethan: What if there’s no gravity in there and you float up and bang your head on the ceiling? And then all the sudden gravity kicks in and then you bang your head on the floor?
Destiny: There could be a black hole and it’d suck me all up.
Ethan: Yes! What if this place is full of good looking British vampires?
Destiny: The worst of all of them.
Ethan: They’re so pale!
Destiny: Or hungry cannibals.
Ethan: It could happen. Or there could be a mass murderer who only kills adorable little girls. Think about it.
Destiny: Or racist ninjas.
Ethan: (laughs) Racist ninjas. Good one. Yes. High five. That was a good one. So, think about all that and ask yourself, really, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
Destiny: I could be terrible and lose.
Ethan: Yeah. Yeah. Could you live with that?
Destiny: I guess so.
Ethan: Ok then. It’s really not such a big deal, is it? Go make us proud. Bring me back some butter.

I’m in the process of applying for jobs. It’s not my favorite thing to do. I had an interview today, though, and it went a little more easily for me than past interviews. I was not as worried as I have been for earlier interviews. Part of the reason is that I’m working very hard to focus on the worst thing that can happen, which sounds somewhat counterproductive.

The worst thing that can happen is that they can say they don’t want to bring me in for another interview. I might not be able to move when my family does, in which case I’d stay here and hang out with the dog and the cat. If that happens, I will definitely miss Xander and Katja. I really enjoy their company. I love who we are as a family, how we play off each other and get silly. We’re good together.

On the other hand, the last few months have been ridiculously stressful. Setting up a place to live from several hundred miles away, making sure Katja gets into the preschool we want her in, and trying to find a job have taken a toll. I am tired. Everything else is sorted out except for my new job, which leaves me feeling like I’m somehow not enough. Once we have an address there, job hunting may get easier, but in the meantime it’s difficult. The thought of having the house to myself, just being responsible for myself and two animals, sounds quite peaceful. I know it will make Xander’s life a bit more stressful for a while, which is unfortunate, but being on my own for a few weeks would not be terrible for me.

So the worst that could happen is that they could say no, Xander and Katja would move ahead of me, and I’d have some down time with limited stress. I would like the job. I think I’d be good at it. If they say no, though, it isn’t a really big deal. I’ll move on to the next one and something will work out eventually.

Packing

We’re moving, or at least most of us are moving, in a month. We’ve gotten a fair amount of packing done but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, partly because there are still a few things, important things, that are not yet settled.

We have a place to live there. It’s a nice place, they have no problem with our rather large dog, and we will have access to a pool. All of those things make me very happy. It’s walking distance from a mall, which, in general, would not make a difference one way or another, but in this case it’s pretty neat; there’s a year round (!) farmer’s market and a movie theater, both of which are likely to get our business. Katja is almost old enough to enjoy going to the movies and we have always enjoyed it, so we’re looking forward to sharing that with her. I think we will be happy there.

In about two weeks we’ll know whether or not I get to move when they do. I’ll either have a job lined up by then or not. If not, the dog and the cat and I will stick around in Reno until I find work there. It isn’t a huge deal, but it will be rather irritating. We can handle it. Xander is more than capable of taking excellent care of Katja, of course. We’ll all be fine. I’ll just miss them quite a lot if that happens. It will eventually work out. It’s hard for me to not know for the next two weeks whether or not I should pack up everything, though.

I’m handling this the way I handle many stressful situations. I’m making lists. Today I started a list of the items that would need to stay with me if I don’t move when they do. It’s actually not a very long list. I don’t need much. Clothes, toiletries, some kitchen stuff, somewhere to sleep, and my favorite electronic devices. My phone is now a wireless hotspot, so the internet connection for the house can be shut down. If I decide I need to watch a silly movie, I can rent one and play it on my computer. I have e-books to read. I can simplify everything for a little while and just focus on getting a job and getting a lot of sleep.

In the meantime, I’m packing. We have 69 boxes packed so far. Many of them, unsurprisingly, are books, but at least they are all in relatively small boxes. We won’t be moving most of our furniture. Bookcases will come with is, but the dining room table won’t work in the new place, we’re looking at a different idea for the dresser in our room, and Katja’s room will be more colorful. We still have some packing work to do, but some of it, like much of the kitchen, will have to wait until we are about a week out from moving. We use the kitchen a lot and love to cook, so it’s hard to pack up very much of it right now.

I’m looking forward to starting over somewhere new. There is a certain amount of worry because we’ll be in a new place with new people and we will have to find out where we fit, but I think it will go well. I like the climate there despite the drought. We will be closer to some of our family and friends. I’m feeling stressed because, despite everything else coming through, a new job for me is still in question.

I suppose that means I should get back to boxes and lists. They make this real and give me a way to get a handle on a big change.

Slow Running

I love running. I’m back to it despite hip surgery. When I thought I’d never be able to run again, I cried. When we were told that surgery could make it possible for me to run again, I had to think for a long time about whether major surgery and up to a year of recovery time, with, of course, possible complications, was worth getting rid of pain and moving freely again. The final decision was not just about running; it was also about not living with constant pain. Running was a part of it, though.

I’m running again. I’ve never been fast, but I’m more comfortable with being slow this time. I’m running at a pace that doesn’t hurt me. I’m still doing intervals, so I don’t know where my pace will settle out. I was running at four miles per hour last time, though, so I’m sure I’ll get back to that, if nothing else. My cadence is settling at 180 steps per minute, my breathing is okay, I’m doing core and strength work, and when I’m done with a run, I feel tired and centered. I’m still a little worried that my hip will break, but every run that I come back from without pain lets that fear back off a bit.

Being slow does not mean I’m not a runner. It just means I’m a slow runner. I run three days a week and cross train with strength and core work two more days. I’m working my way back to a half marathon. I know myself well enough to need a goal, so I have picked one and signed up for it. Next February I’ll be running the second half marathon of my life. I won’t be fast, though I expect to be faster than I was when I ran the last one. I expect to be neither first nor last and I’m discovering that I’m quite happy, in this particular area of my life, to be in the middle of the pack, probably somewhere near the back.

I am a perfectionist. I’m learning to curb the tendency, but it still rears its ugly little head on a regular basis. Running helps. I know I won’t be fast. I have short, stubby little legs, but they’re strong legs and, once I’m comfortable with running without intervals again, I can keep going. While we were growing up, my dad compared me to a Clydesdale at one point because I just kept chugging along. I was never fast (and, to be honest, when I was younger I really didn’t like running at all) but once I have a reasonable level of fitness, I can just keep going. I have decided that I am happy, finally, with not being fast, but being steady. Stubbornness has always been one of my stronger traits, and now I am applying that to running. I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be myself, a runner, though not a fast one. I run. It makes me happier. It calms my brain. It eases my stress. It settles my anxieties. In running, I have found one of the very few places in my life where my body can work hard and my brain can stop niggling at everything. If I start worrying at a problem, I count my cadence as long as I can. By the time I’ve counted for a while, I’ve forgotten what was worrying me.

As far as I can tell, except possibly at the elite levels, other runners really don’t care how fast I’m going. They’re kind. We’re all part of a group of people who are just a tiny bit nuts. We go out and run in weird, uncomfortable weather. We push harder than we should sometimes. No matter how slow or fast, we know that bad days will be made better if we can just get a run in there somehow. I’ve run in races, slowly, and never had anyone say anything unkind. On the contrary, I get cheered on, all of us do, almost as much as the first runner. Sometimes more, actually, since the people ahead wait at the finish line to yell encouragement.

My run on Tuesday was immediately after a very windy night. I spent some of it jumping over downed tree branches and stepping on twigs. It was a very odd experience in the dark of 5 AM. It was a good run, which is defined as one that doesn’t leave me hurting afterwards, and the rest of the day, stressful as it was, went much more smoothly because of that run. Sometimes I struggle, especially when I run with other people who are much faster than I am. My approach to life is drastically better when I run, though, so even if I will always be a slow runner, I am a runner.

Sleep adjustments

For too long, I have allowed myself the luxury of having an awful day after not getting enough sleep. I’m working on changing my mindset, accepting that some days will be hard, and not allowing my exhaustion to color my interactions with everyone around me.

When Katja was tiny and she had a bad night, I could grumble and complain and it didn’t really have much of an effect on anyone except Xander. He knows me well enough to tell me to go take a nap or to go to bed early when I’m too tired. He also is good at ignoring my complete lack of a sense of humor when I’m short on sleep. Katja is bigger now, though. If I snap at her for something minor, it upsets her. I can accept getting irritated for something that really is a problem, like when she was in a foul mood and smacked me. I felt justified at sending her to her room for that one. If I end up in the depths of irritation because she won’t stop touching me, though, I am hurting her feelings because I’m letting myself react irrationally when she needs attention.

This isn’t to say that she always gets what she wants. I’m just trying to learn to moderate my responses when I know I’m having a bad day.

Yesterday was one of those days. Today is likely to be one, too. Katja is going through a phase where she has nightmares. Sometimes she’ll be fine for days. Sometimes, like this week, we’ll have a couple of nights in a row broken by a screaming toddler running into our bedroom. That gives me a huge rush of adrenaline which is not exactly conducive to getting back to sleep. I have learned to handle it at work and to not snap at co-workers, but I’ve let myself be crabby at home.

I think being a parent is forcing me to grow up in a lot of little ways. I’m capable of holding it together, of being careful of my reactions, and of being kind even when I don’t feel like it. If I’m willing to put forth that level of effort at work, I need to also be willing to do it for the people I love most in the world. If I need a break, I can ask for one, go wash my face, take a few deep breaths, and try again to be more careful of my words and my tone. If I can’t stand being touched for a few minutes, I can use my words, as we’re often encouraging Katja to do.

It’s easy to forget sometimes how much of an effect my words and tone have on the people around me. When I get tired, I get wrapped up inside my head. My ability to have empathy is severely limited. I can decide to break out of that, though. If I end up exhausted at the end of a long day, well, I would have been exhausted anyway. At least this approach won’t leave anyone else with hurt feelings.

I’m not going to be perfect at this. I woke up this morning, much earlier than planned, and realized I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep. I started feeling angry about being forced to be up, and then I realized (again) that my reactions are my choice. Yes, it’s a pain to be woken up an hour earlier than I expected. Yes, I’ll be tired today and my stomach will likely be upset because of sleep deprivation. How I handle it is my choice, though, and I’d prefer to be able to give Katja her kiss and hug at the end of the day and feel my usual upswelling of love for this little person rather than feeling residual irritation.

Today I will work on being very aware of how I’m reacting. Tomorrow is Saturday; if I still need a nap, I’ll take one then.

Job hunting

I’ve been job hunting in preparation for our move later this year. Job hunting is one of my least favorite activities, but there are a few things that are actually kind of fun this time.

I get to think about a new job. I’ve been with my current employer for about five and a half years. I have held three very different positions in that time and have enjoyed all three, but it’s rather nice to think about getting to learn new systems, adjust to a new culture, and getting to know new people. It’s always a little scary to start over, but the excitement definitely overrides the fear in this case.

The other nice thing is that I’m forced to look carefully at my strengths. I tend to focus on what needs work or adjustment, not on my best qualities. While job hunting itself is hard on my ego, being able to look at the positive changes I have wrought in my current job certainly helps.

Right now I’m feeling impatient. I want to move somewhere new. I won’t have to scrape ice off of the car this winter! Morning runs will never involve negotiating through piles of unshoveled snow! The new city is extremely bike-friendly, which will be a huge, positive change. We will also have access to a much wider variety of foods. I’m sure it won’t be perfect, since nothing ever is, but I am focusing on the positive aspects. I have lived here much too long and my wanderlust is making an appearance. We will be in the new city for at least five years, so we’re not becoming nomadic, but there is so much to explore there that I’m very excited. I have decided that Katja and I, at least, will do a lot of exploring, and Xander is completely welcome when he has time.

In terms of running, my intervals are now two minutes running and two minutes walking. This morning’s run was not the best, but it’s done. Since I’m doing most weeks twice, I know that I have another few runs exactly like this one to get more comfortable with the intervals. I always feel better after a run even if the run itself is miserable. I had forgotten that side effect; I will try to remember it the next time I feel like I am slogging.

Back to running!

Slightly over a year ago, I ran a half marathon. It was slow, but I did it. I got all the way through.

About ten months ago I had hip surgery for femoroacetabular impingement. It was not exactly pleasant. I spent a while on crutches, another while moving very carefully, a ridiculous amount of time at my physical therapist’s office (it’s surprising how easy one-legged squats get when you are doing them every day!), and a lot of time at the gym. It was winter for a lot of those months, so gym workouts weren’t bad, especially while I was terrified of slipping on ice. I swam. I worked on the treadmill and the elliptical trainer. I did lots and lots and lots of strength work. Finally I achieved my goal: 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer with no pain the next day. I was ready to run again!

Mentally ready and physically ready were different things, though. Rattling around in the back of my brain were the physical therapist’s warnings. “If you do too much, too fast, you can actually break the bone in your hip because right now it’s remodeling.” “Don’t fall on it if there’s any way you can avoid it.” This, of course, was being said to a klutz!

I finally decided I needed to just start. I rejoined the Facebook group for my 0-13.1 training. If you want to run a half marathon, start with Nicole. Her program is very good. I started reading about training, good runs and bad, the normal swirl of questions about various injuries and treatments, and ongoing discussions about shoes and tracking and other small things. I started remembering that I liked to run.

I got a new pair of Vibrams, since I’d run holes through my last pair, and a few new pairs of Injinji socks.

I started the program again.

I’m doing each week twice. It’s going to take me a long time to get back to a half marathon, but I will get there. The first couple of weeks were walking because I wanted to make sure I had actually healed enough to do this. I found myself facing my first run with a certain amount of trepidation. I set out my gear, got up early, packed myself into my Enell bra (if you are well endowed, these bras make sure nothing goes anywhere it shouldn’t!), got into running gear, did my warm up exercises, and started running.

I had decided that I was going to switch my cadence from I’m-not-paying-attention to 180 beats per minute. It was a little hard at first. I run with a metronome, 3/4 time so I’m not emphasizing the same foot every time, and I’m mostly keeping pace with it. I’ll be doing intervals for a while. The first weeks were 60 seconds jogging, 90 seconds walking. I’m working on 90 seconds jogging, 2 minutes walking right now and I’m very ready to be done with jogging by the end of the interval.

It has been surprisingly anticlimactic. My hip aches when I’m tired, which is hard since sleep is in somewhat short supply right now, but I haven’t had a problem with it while running. I’m working on the mantra from the book “Born to Run”: easy, light, smooth, and fast. I’m running faster than I did last time around and I’m happier with how it feels.

I was really angry when I found out I couldn’t run. I’m still struggling with remembering being able to run miles without much stress and being limited, now, to 90 seconds at a stretch. On the other hand, I’m running again, and I was afraid that might never happen.

I’m not all the way back, but I’m getting there.

Being enough

I spent ten days on my own in December. Xander and Katja went to visit his family in Arizona. I didn’t have enough paid leave to go, but it seemed like a good thing for Katja to get to spend time with her grandparents and aunts and uncles on that side of the family. I wanted to get a good start on organizing the shed, too, which is rather difficult work when a two-year-old is helping. I also, completely selfishly, wanted to get some sleep, which I did. Katja has good nights and bad nights, but she has had colds and ear infections lately so there were more bad nights than good ones. The lack of sleep had taken its toll and I was somewhat short tempered and not enjoying life very much.

I caught up on sleep. Life is much better now! I also cataloged 31 boxes, gave away nine bags of books to the VA hospital, another four bags of books to the library, and gave away some things we will not use again to a local charity. All of that was very good and made me feel accomplished, satisfied, and organized.

I also learned a few things. The primary one is that I can relax some. Between the two of us, Xander and I have the house running pretty smoothly. I like making lists, but I feel bad if I don’t finish the things on the list in the time frame I set for myself. It all gets done eventually, though, and adding guilt to my life is not useful. I can run laundry during the week and have more time on weekends that is stress-free to hang out with Katja. I have a job that doesn’t require me to bring work home; I should take advantage of that. Once Katja is in bed, if Xander is home, I can go to the gym for my 20 minute workout. I don’t have to get up really early to work out because I can’t work out for very long at the moment. Sleep is much more important than I thought, too. Life got a lot better after a couple of days of actually sleeping eight unbroken hours.

I’ve been thinking about all of the changes coming up in the next year. We’ll be moving somewhere, so there’s a new beginning in some ways. With any luck it will be somewhere it rains more than it does here. Katja is growing and changing, talking a lot, singing and dancing and climbing and running, and she’ll keep getting more interesting. I’m focusing on the good things by writing one good thing about every day because this helps me remember those things instead of dwelling on things that irritate me or make me angry. Yesterday, for instance, Katja and I went for a long, leisurely walk, had lunch, and walked back to the car. We watched ducks and geese, stomped in ice, and pushed lots of buttons. We didn’t hurry at all and it was incredibly nice.

Much of my life I’ve tried to be perfect. I was angry at myself for my SAT score, which was not as good as my older brother’s score, but I didn’t know that it was actually quite high. I got smacked upside the head by a couple of friends of mine for that one. There is always someone better, someone smarter, someone stronger or faster or something. In the past year I started getting through this. I ran a half marathon. I wasn’t anywhere near first, I wasn’t last, and my main goal was to finish, which I did. While I was lying on the couch recovering from hip surgery I thought a lot about my need to be perfect and organized and on top of everything. I realized, slowly, that it wasn’t actually making my life better. Yes, it’s good to be organized, but I was getting very stressed about it if things didn’t go exactly to plan, if I got behind in the morning or forgot something in Katja’s bag.

It’s okay. I’m enough. Xander and I together are enough.

When Xander went to England for ten days and I stayed home with Katja, I was worried that I wouldn’t be very good at being a single parent. It ended up being okay. We both missed him a lot, of course, but we didn’t get too frustrated at each other and we mostly enjoyed each other. While he and Katja were in Arizona, I missed them, but I also knew that they were fine and having fun.

I’m working on building a life with less unnecessary stress. It’s great if I lay out my clothes the night before, but if it doesn’t happen, I don’t have to get out of bed to handle it. It can wait. If I have a bad day, I can stay home that night instead of pushing and going to the gym anyway. I took a nap with Katja yesterday, about an hour and a half, and because we spent most of the day out of the house and I was busy last night, the kitchen wasn’t perfect this morning. I almost twitched about it, then remembered that no one really cares. It will get done tonight and it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It was more important to go for a walk with her, get some rest, then have fun running errands than it was to stress about whether there were a few dishes that needed to be done.

This year I will try to remember something my mother says a lot about parenting. “You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be good enough.” I’m not perfect. I never will be perfect. That’s okay, though. No one expects perfection except, perhaps, me, and I can work on getting over that. There is a website/series of interviews that is helping me here, which you might want to check out.

I hope this year you are enough for yourself.