Thursday, June 27, 2013

Painting of Sophie and Mumford & Sons 2nd chance

Mark painted this for Sophie for her birthday.  He finished it last weekend, so a little late.  Paint is acrylic (which isn't ideal for this b/c the paint is hard to blend, but he's not practiced in oils yet).  It's apparently very hard to capture a face correctly.  He nailed it.  Her eyes, shape of her face, her mouth.  I am so proud of him. 

Mumford & Sons is coming to Indianapolis on Labor Day!!!  As you'll recall, the concert in Bonner Springs was postponed.  It was rescheduled to the end of September, on a date we have another obligation.  I got a refund from Ticketmaster.  The same day they announced the rescheduled dates, they announced a new tour, which includes the stop in Indy. 

Same set up for tickets as last time--you sign up & they invite you to buy tickets (no idea what the qualifications are for being invited, but I'm confident I will since I'm a member of their fan club with the same email I registered for tickets with). You get to buy tickets before they go on sale to the general public.  Indy's outdoor concert venue is fabulous.  We've been there a lot.  And we can stay with my sister in law.  We plan to make a weekend out of it.  Win-win all around! 

Caught up in the urgent (151.4)

When Steven Covey was the organizational guru of the 90s, I had a Franklin Planner & read his 7 Habits book. I learned about his 4 quadrants—important & urgent, important & not urgent, not important & urgent, not urgent & not important. Here’s a great illustration of the activities in each quadrant:

I haven’t had a Franklin Planner since I got a smartphone and Outlook (probably 7 years or so? Maybe longer). And I haven’t been to a time management class for well over a decade.

I don’t need a class. I know what to do. I know, but I don’t apply.

Sounds similar to eating and exercise, when those things are not going well.

Operating from the “important & not urgent” category is obviously the place I need to be working from on a regular basis. Planning, prevention, relationship building, new opportunities, learning, developing.

Lately, and for a long time really, I haven’t been in the quadrant enough. I am so often prisoner of the Tyranny of the Urgent. And, more often than not, in the not important & not urgent corner—where nothing of importance happens.

I believe there are benefits in the lower right quadrant—of course I have to have pleasant activities in my life. I need downtime to recharge.

Time wasters, though, like Facebook or mindless TV aren’t nourishing activities. I have cut back Facebook perusing to almost nothing. I often just get mad & upset when I read people’s political views or their Rainbow Bright lives (which I’ve talked about before). I have been reading more than watching TV lately, but even reading is a mindless escape for me.

I also spend too much mindless time reading articles on Yahoo Finance or reading non work stuff (like blogs or book reviews or whatever else isn't appropriate) while at work (and yes, I write my posts at work. It's an important and not urgent issue that I won't do at home, so I spend an hour a week writing, I'm fine with that). I can argue that the Finance articles are important for my job, but really I’m just killing time because I don’t want to spend time in the important & not urgent category.

So, WHY don’t I want to spend time there? That’s a good question. Part of it, I think, is that I lack confidence to be proactive with our practice. Mark is the financial advisor; I’m his support.

However, he spends almost all of his time in the urgent quadrants.

Part of that is out of his control—he can’t dictate when clients call in or when he gets an email he has to respond to with in depth info.

Part of it is that he’s made that way or that he has operated in the urgent for so long, and he gets a reward from it. (My theory is that he subconsciously like the adrenaline rush that he gets from always being in a hurry; he rarely gives himself enough time to get ready in the morning, so it’s rush rush rush. Which drives me bonkers. I’ve quit nagging him, for the most part. It makes no difference.)

Part of it is that his plate is so full—with work and church obligations (he’s an elder at church and on two key committees that have big stuff going on this summer, and he’s dropped everything else he can drop)—that he just can’t get ahead.

Part of it is that his time at work is limited because of his back. He is limited on how long he can sit, and isn’t really spending enough time at work.

Whatever the reason, he spends little time planning. I have little interaction with him during the day because he’s in the Urgent all day long.

I told him yesterday that we need to start meeting every day for 15 minutes or so, to plan our approach of what we need to do for our clients in the next two months (which includes major investment reallocations that take a lot of time).

Clearly, it is up to me to drive the bus on the planning side.

We have worked together for over 8 years. We do well because we complement each other—we have different skills and talents, and together we make a great team.

I have not been keeping up my end of the team, though. I haven’t been using my strengths like we need me to.


Because I am insecure, not confident in my abilities, afraid I’ll do work and get shot down because it’s not the direction Mark wants to take (this has happened several times over the years, and it rocks my confidence & ticks me off), and because I’m often paralyzed by fear.

Fear of financial failure, fear of me failing, fear of making mistakes, fear of my efforts being pointless and a total waste of time.

I’m writing about this so I can start making changes. I read this stuff and think “This is such bullshit. You’re smart, talented, have good ideas, are capable of SO MUCH MORE than you give yourself credit. Get off your ass and get to work.”

Like Alice in Wonderland sings, “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

I have no business putting MY issues of non-action on my husband's lack of planning activities.  That's a martyr attitude, and an excuse.

Time to get rid of that thinking. Time to quit giving myself advice. Time to just freaking do it.

One more thing--all this work stuff is exacerbated by the feeling of being out of control this summer. The days are packed, the weekends are packed, my children are growing at the speed of light, and it’s killing me.  I live in the future way too much—what do I have to do this week, next week, a month from now?  It all makes me feel so powerless, which makes me want to control everything.  I am reading some self-help stuff (my OA books and a book by Wayne Dyer about creating your own reality) and I do stop several times a day for positive affirmations and short meditations.  So I feel like I’m making a wee bit of progress.  I have moments of peace and release.  I just need more of them strung together, until my entire day is peace & release. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quote from Mother Teresa (151.2)

I love this. A friend posted it on Facebook and I wanted to share.

These are the few ways we can practice humility:

To speak as little as possible of one's self.

To mind one's own business.

Not to want to manage other people's affairs.

To accept contradictions cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one's dignity.

To choose always the hardest.”

― Mother Teresa

This list of ways to practice humility are most of what I have struggled with.  I'm better on several of them, not so much on others.  I have a long way to go to reach true humility.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hair cut pic

Post for today is below.

Concert cancelled, Sophie away at camp, hair cut (151.0)

We were supposed to go to Kansas City today to see my favorite band of all time, Mumford & Sons, in concert.  The concert was cancelled, along with several others, because their bass player had a blood clot removed from his brain last Tuesday.  Thankfully he's OK and is recovering, but obviously he isn't recovered enough to perform. 

Strangely, it has worked out for the best for us.  Last week we got a lot of calls from clients because accounts were down in May and they aren't used to seeing downturns on their statements (for the past year anyway).  The market continues to be volatile & we need to be in the office right now.  Plus Mark is getting another back procedure Wednesday & will be out the rest of the week.  So for us, it's turned into a good thing.

BUT.  I don't do well when plans change.  It takes me a while to adjust. I'm getting better at adjusting more quickly (more below), but I am disappointed, of course. I don't know if we'll be able to go to the rescheduled concert.  I'm returning our tickets because I'd rather do it now than risk not being able to return them later if we can't go.  But I got over the disappointment rather quickly, saw the bigger picture and the benefits of not going.

I didn't sulk.  I didn't get angry. I looked at the benefits of the cancellation instead of my disappointment.

I am learning to live without expectations.  "Expectations are premeditated resentments." (First heard this in an OA meeting.)  I don't need resentments taking up space in my life, so I work to not have expectations.  Not from people or events. I've always approached vacations with no expectations--it's much easier to roll with what comes than to have concrete plans that blow up, as they often do when you travel.  I'm applying that approach to daily life.  It helps.


Sophie left for a week of sleep away camp yesterday.  She went last year for the first time.  It's the same camp this year, and she went with a friend from school who also went last year.  Sophie was really excited to go. 

We drove up with her friend's parents, about 2 1/2 hour drive.  Her friend Mary cried when we got there; she has a hard time spending time away from her home, even at one-night sleepovers with her friends.  Sophie is fairly independent, has spent many nights away from home and never had a problem.  She didn't cry; she hugged me a lot (Mark & Luke stayed home) and was a little sad, but handled it well.  The kids stay very busy at camp and are exhausted at bed time, so the emotions quickly dissipate after we leave and there's no time to be homesick (which is what they told us when we picked them up last year). She comes home Friday.

It's harder for us than it is for her, I'm sure.  Luke was a mess last year when she left.  He was never an only child, like Sophie was for 4.5 years before Luke was born, and he doesn't like it when she's gone.  He is tender hearted & sensitive, and the kids spend a lot of time together.  I will miss her terribly.

Her being gone makes me ponder what it will be like in 7 years when she leaves for college. I've watched how Vickie has handled her kids leaving home, and I can only hope I handle it half as well as she has.


I got 4 inches cut off my hair on Saturday.  I've worn it long for a couple of years now, and prior to that it was never long.  I've worn it in a bob for 20 years.  I love it long, but it's a nice change to go back to a short bob.  Mark loves it this shorter length, because it's how I wore it when we first met.  Luke doesn't like it--he doesn't do well with change and wanted me to keep it long.  I have been wearing it up so much and only styled it once or twice a week, that I decided it was time for a change.  I'll post a pic in another post from my phone.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More on sleep (149.0)

Last night I did not sleep well.  It was the first bad night since I stopped taking trazedone.  I woke up frustrated and angry and determined to start the damn trazedone again.  I don't want to have another night like that again.

My husband doesn't sleep well.  His sleep habits are horrible, and it impacts me.  If we had a guest room, I'd sleep in there every night, but we don't so I can't. 

I don't want to talk about all he does wrong in relation to his sleep issues.  I cannot control his choices, and I have little ability to control how his choices affect me.  I know that sounds lame, but I've lived with this for years and it's the way it is. 

He will watch TV in the family room while I'm falling asleep; he's not totally insensitive.  It's the middle of the night crap that disturbs my sleep and is why I loved the trazedone. It knocked me out cold and he could tap dance on the bed and I wouldn't notice. 

Not so with xanax.  Last night I fell asleep at 10:20, easily.  At midnight, he woke me up.  As usual, he couldn't sleep and his noise woke me out of my not-so-deep sleep.  When I only take .25 mg xanax, I don't get into a deep enough sleep. (If I take .5 mg xanax, I have trouble waking up.)  And when I wake up in the middle of the night, I don't get back to sleep quickly and I don't sleep deeply at all. 

I slept, but it was more like cat naps. I was aware of the time passing several times during the night.  When my alarm went off at 6, instead of getting up, I foolishly kept hitting the snooze alarm because I was mad that I was so tired and didn't want to get out of bed.  And because those 9 minutes of sleep between beeps is (seemingly, although not really) better than nothing.

I haven't tracked my sleep behaviors in relation to my hormone cycles, but I'm suspicious that they may be linked.  I should start in about a week, which is prime PMS time.  Have any of you noticed your sleep being poor in relation to your cycle?  I will be paying attention to this, IF I stay off the trazedone.

Which is the big question.  Do I deal with the side effects?  Do I split my pill down into a 1/4 size? (Which is basically a crumb, since they don't split cleanly.  If I'm going to continue to take it, I need to call & ask for a smaller dosage.) 

I sleep better when I'm working out.  I haven't worked out regularly in months and months.  So if I can start that back up, perhaps I'll sleep better. I only drink coffee in the morning, only rarely do I have any in the afternoon.  Caffeine isn't the problem.

I have a suspicion that no matter what I do, I'm going to have to take drugs to sleep well.  But figuring out what works without a sleep hangover may be a challenge. 

I'm too PMS'y and crabby to make a good decision on any of it, so I'm letting it lie for now. I just wanted to vent while it was still fresh in my mind.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

My sleep meds (148.2)

Weight is a fluke? I did not expect to be down that much in one day.  Wondering if my scale was wonky, if I've been holding onto midcycle bloat (quite possible), or if adding lemons to my daily water caused it.  My pants fit looser this morning around the waist, so maybe not a fluke.

The last time I saw my psych nurse practioner, she asked how I was sleeping. I was taking .25 to .5 mg xanax at night to sleep.  I told her I'd fall asleep easily but often wake up and take about an hour to fall asleep.

She prescribed trazedone, 50 mg. She told me the side affect people complain about most is vivid dreams.

I started with 50, but found it was too much.  I had a very hard time getting up and felt drugged.  I only took 50 for a couple of days.  I broke the pills in half & have been taking 25 mg for several months. 

I had very vivid dreams.  Sometimes benign, sometimes anxious, often weird, and always very real and close to my wake up time.  It wasn't bad enough to make me stop taking the med.  I slept very well.

Most nights I didn't take it until 9 or 10 pm, because I'd be sleepy after 60-90 minutes. If I took it at 8, I'd be sleepy at 9:30, and that wouldn't leave me much of an evening after I put kids to bed. And I'm a night owl by nature and going to sleep at 9:30 is practically unthinkable.

But it takes 10+ hours for the med to get out of my system.  So when I should be waking up at 5:30 or 6 am, I can't.  I can barely get up at 6:45 to get the kids ready for school.  If I don't set an alarm, like on the weekends, I will sleep until 9 am.

I have never been a morning person.  And I've always felt like my wanting to sleep late is a moral failing (night owls, do you know what I mean?).  It's a continual, degrading battle.  I'll set my alarm for 5:30 and tell myself "tomorrow I WILL wake up on time!" 

I never do. I hit the snooze for an hour or more.  And so I feel like a moral failure every morning.

I think this habit is so ingrained, so deeply embedded in my personality, that I didn't stop and examine that I was making it worse by continuing to take the trazedone. I liked how I slept on it, I never woke up early anyway, so why stop even though it was getting harder & harder to wake up?

Monday I decided to stop taking the trazedone and try xanax again.  The more work I do in OA, the more I am exploring how to stop the sabotage. 

I am starting to wonder if the ideas that apply to addiction--that self-knowledge isn't powerful enough to change the behavoirs of an addict--apply to this kind of self-sabotage.  It sure seems like it.

Yesterday I woke up at 5:15 with the birds. Literally. I'd slept with the window open, heard the birds singing (loudly--we have a lot of chatty birds in the neighborhood), and woke up.  I wasn't sleepy.  I got up and made coffee and had a wonderful morning of quiet time.

This morning, I hit the snooze for an hour.  And I missed not having that quiet time. 

Since self knowledge isn't enough to change my wake up time, I wonder if I can apply the same tools that I use with compulsive overeating to other areas like this in my life?  Something to think about and talk with my sponsor about.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Character defects & monkey mind (150.4)

I have so much going on in my head, it’s hard to know what to write today. So I’m just going to type & see what comes out.

Last night at my OA meeting, the discussion was on step 6.
Steps 4 & 5 lead up to step 6.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

We had a great discussion at the meeting.  People shared their thoughts of what step 6 meant to them (I am no where near step 6, so I got a lot out of this).  Thoughts included: self acceptance; letting go of self hatred; becoming the person we were meant to be, with our character defects removed; the most painful part of change is in the resistance to it; this step moves us away from our selfishness and self-centeredness.

This step simultaneously excites me and terrifies me.  Excites me because this step is one of the key milestones in deep, lasting, positive change.  Terrifies me because, while I know I have many character defects, admitting to them and letting them go will be difficult. 

Why do I think this will be difficult?  Probably because I've lived with my character defects for so long, I don't know how I'll live without them.

What are my character defects?  I haven't officially defined them yet.  But mostly, at this point, I feel like I am one big ball of character defects.  Procrastination, selfishness, laziness, monkey mind, self hatred, easily distracted, fearful to the point of paralysis, anger, self importance, arrogance, impatience, being controlling.  I'm sure there are more that I'll discover as I work these steps.

I am hard on myself.  I often feel like what I do isn't good enough. That *I'm* not enough.  That if only I would be this or that, instead of who I am now, I'd be happier and be a better person.  I often live my life out of selfishness and laziness--as in, I don't want to do what I don't want to do. 

I routinely "should" myself.  I should get up earlier. I should go to bed earlier.  I should workout in the morning.  I should workout at night.  I should eat better.  I should feed my kids better. I should spend more play time with my kids. I should manage my money better.  I should manage my household better.  I should meditate, be more spiritual, take yoga classes, be more generous, volunteer more, be nicer to my husband, be more patient with my kids, be a better parent.  And on and on and on.

My monkey mind processes these kinds of thoughts all day long. Not only these thoughts, but thoughts of how I failed in the past, or how others failed me in the past.

I get in a loop, and the loop goes round and round until it crowds out all else.

Some days are better than others. Some days the monkey mind is quieter and doesn't beat me up as much as other days.  Some days, I feel like I've done some things right--like get up early enough to not be crazy in the morning, handle a parenting situation well, or have a cleanly abstinent day.

This leads me to think of step 7, which is "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." 

Like removing my compulsive overeating, I need my higher power to remove my shortcomings.

Self knowledge and knowledge of the how's and why's of self hatred aren't enough for *me.*  They may be enough for others. For an addict like me, self knowledge doesn't make me change.

I need divine intervention to help me change and to learn to accept myself.

Does that mean I can't do anything for myself?  No.  I am called to action.  I am called to work the steps.  I am called to have an Action Plan which helps guide my day, to make it the best day I am able to. I am called to read and learn and listen. 

I am called to not rely on my way, to not rely on my strength alone, and to give my cares to my higher power to work through them for me. (Being the control freak that I am, this one is really hard.)

Getting out of the rut of "shoulds" is hard work. Changing bad habits & unproductive routines is hard work.  Selfish & self centered--I don't want to do what I don't want to do--makes this challenging, as well. 

Many days, I don't want to have the best day.  I just want to coast, to be numb, to not feel all my shortcomings.  I no longer numb myself with food.  But there are other ways I escape.  Right now it's reading.  It has also been shopping or movies or TV shows.

I don't write all this as if I'm a helpless case.  I am making changes.  I do have better days.  I see improvements.  I am hopeful for the present and the future. 

The best thing I can do for myself is focus on one day at a time.  One choice at a time.  To do what's necessary at this moment, and then do what's necessary the next moment. 

Monkey mind often makes my moments get mixed up. I'm doing one thing, I think of something else I need to do, and skip to that something else.  I often have to force myself to stay on task, to resist the urge to follow every thought that flits through my brain.  It's hard work.

Sunday I spent a lot of time outside working on the yard and the landscaping.  When we did the back yard two weeks ago, we didn't have time for the front.  Sunday, after I saw the accomplishments of four hours work, I felt good. It was therapeutic to breathe fresh air, work the ground, beautify my home and get rid of the "pile" of weeds and unattractiveness of our neglected (for years) landscaping. 

That kind of thing--working when I'd rather have been lazy and reading--is one kind of positive change I am happy about. 

What is remarkable to me, is that now that I am out of the food fog, now that food is a "minor" issue (I will always be an addict, the addiction is not minor, but I have been freed from compulsive overeating), I can finally pay attention to deeper issues of my life.

The food fog hid these issues by burying them. Now they are rising to the surface, and I can't (won't) ignore them.  Shining the light on them is the first step to healing.