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“Again!”

I went through the combination once more, pivoting to put my weight behind my right hook.

“Again!” the coach yelled.  “Harder.”

I tried to swipe at the sweat running into my eyes while I took up my stance to start again.

I take a boxing class once a week.  That’s right, this suburban white girl goes to a hole-in-the-wall gym to work out with a bunch of sweaty, burly, tattooed boxers.  You might imagine this as awkward.  Me, standing at five-foot-nothing inches tall, dressed in my Target off-the-rack workout finest, squaring off with a six foot brick wall of a sweaty man (and ‘brick wall’ is a pretty fitting description for most of these dudes.  It’s a good thing they like me, because I wouldn’t want to be on anyone’s bad side).  But amazingly, it’s not awkward or weird.  I actually enjoy these workouts immensely – the challenge of speed, endurance, strength.  Well, I enjoy it when I can breathe.

“Again!”

This week, I was working on an intricate combination of hooks, jabs and upper cuts with ducking and sliding thrown in.  Coach kept repeating his mantra, “Again!  Harder!  Faster!”

On the verge of passing out, I finally had to stop.  While I was doubled over with my hands on my knees, sucking in air like I’d been deprived of oxygen for a decade, Coach said, “You have to breathe.”

Really?  What does it look like I’m doing, buddy?
(In reality, this was communicated by me barely turning my head in Coach’s direction and semi-grunting between gasps of air.)

“You have good form, you know the combination, but you’re still holding your breath.  You HAVE TO BREATHE with each punch.  Now come on.  Again.”

Having gotten enough oxygen to my brain, I checked the impulse to sucker punch Coach in the gut.  Instead, I nodded, stood up, and took my stance.  For the rest of the class, I struggled with the impulse to tense up and hold my breath, wanting to push through the rest of the workout with sheer force.

Driving home, I started wondering why it was so hard for me to keep breathing.  Isn’t my body supposed to know to just DO that?  I don’t consciously think about breathing when I’m working, cooking, sleeping.  My body just takes care of it.  Why, in this scenario, was I having such a hard time?

I finally realized that this scene exemplified how I deal with stress in life.  Whenever I’m faced with pressure and stress, I have a tendency to bear down, tense up and just push my way through a situation.  This can go on for weeks without me realizing it, my body so full of tension and stress as I try to move through a particularly stressful or busy time, not realizing that I’m not giving myself a chance to relax.  To breathe.  To find the rhythm and just go with it.  Brute strength and skill don’t always get you through every situation.  Sure, they’ll take you quite far, but you’ll be exhausted and worn out by the time you reach the finish line.  Breathing and relaxing into a situation, no matter how stressful, help give you that edge, that confidence, to weather anything.

And yes, I am proud of myself for making this parallel.  It was an aha! moment of realization about how I try to just “get through” life scenarios instead of embracing, learning, sustaining.  So maybe next week I’ll take on one of the burly, brick wall guys with neck tattoos… you know, since I’ve had this big revelation and all.  Or maybe I should keep practicing over in the corner since I kind of need my nose intact to breathe.

Whenever I complain about a situation where I feel like Big Dude has let me down, a good friend of mine says that we can’t look to our husbands to meet our every need.

Women need other women, the Wise One says. Did you read the Twilight saga? Bella’s and Edward’s romance sweeps you away because it’s such a romanticized fairytale. Edward meets every single one of Bella’s needs, from rescuing her every time she is in danger to watching over her while she sleeps. Real life and real relationships aren’t like that.  Sure, we need our spouses, our partners, but we also need friends to lean on and reach out to. Real life necessitates more of a
patchwork support system made up of a group of friends, not just one ‘perfect’ significant other who meets every single one of our needs.

This conversation made me think. I have made a lot of friends over the past six months, and I am definitely a happier person because of it. Now I’m starting to think about how to cultivate those friendships. Meaning, how do I become a better friend? If I want people to be there for me and to reach out to me, I have to reach out to them.

Of course, this invariably brings up all kinds of anxiety and guilt for me.
Anxiety over reaching out to friends:  What if I invite So&So out to lunch and she declines? Does that make me the nerdy grade school bookworm who eats by herself again?

And guilt when So&So actually accepts my invitation: I have to give up an hour of my workday and go relax over a meal with pleasant conversation, connecting with another human being, instead of absently eating my lunch in front of my computer screen while continuing to work?

Or, horror of horrors: I make plans with a friend on a weekend and Big Dude must spend an hour by himself with Little Dude while I grab coffee with a friend.

That guilty place inside of me naturally thinks about the impact my social time will have on those around me instead of thinking about how that social time will fulfill me and support me and make me happy.

Stupid, I know. But, I’m a work-in-progress. And I’ve got friends.

My Wordless Wenesday offer.

At 7 am this morning, it was 70 degrees outside, and this is what I saw out my car window. George Harrison was keeping me company, singing about love and devotion.

Sitting at my desk, writing notebook open, waiting for inspiration to strike.  After a weekend of errands and laundry and a birthday party and cleaning out the fridge, I have been looking forward to having some time to sit down and write.  Now I have the time.  And all I can think is damn, it’s hot.

I want a popsicle.

I want to swim in an icy pool.

Maybe I’ll go home and sit in the bathtub and have some ice cream because we don’t have a pool.

I wish we had a pool.

It’s so hot that my sundress is sticking to the back of my legs and I’m inside in the air conditioning.

Where are those cool nights and first hints of autumn?

I’m looking forward to a crispness in the air and leaves changing color and being able to use the oven without making the house so warm that we have to run around naked with ice packs strapped to us.

It’s 107 degrees outside and I want to make roasts in the oven and stews in my crock pot.

I want to make cornbread with the buttermilk that is in my fridge- warm, crusty cornbread to soak up the rich sauce from my stew.

Maybe I have some type of seasonal food displacement disorder.  When it finally feels like fall (some time in December, maybe) I will probably want to barbeque steaks to have with corn on the cob and peach cobbler.

Peach cobbler is kind of universal, though, isn’t it?  I could eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

When it’s this hot, I worry about power outages and making sure my dogs have enough water and brush fires and whether the tires on my car will melt when I’m on my way to pick up my child from school.

I worry about strange things.

I realize this is southern California and it’s technically a desert, but 107 degrees at the end of September?

I am seriously contemplating shaving my head.  No hair is cooler than lots of long hair, right?

Then I could wear hats when it gets cooler.  You know, to keep my head warm.

Oh, who am I kidding?  It will probably never get that cool.  I’ll just be the bald crazy lady eating ice cream in a bathtub of cold water with my child and my dogs tucked in next to me.

I have a big bathtub.

I am completely unmotivated to do anything more than sit right now because even that is requiring effort.

And yes, that causes me guilt on many levels.

Damn, it’s hot.

Now that Little Dude’s birthday has come and gone, and he’s enjoying all the new toys he received as gifts, I’m left with only one last thing to do.

Thank you notes.

Of course I bought the thank you notes that matched the birthday invitations I used.  At the party, I even passed around a spreadsheet I made for each guest to write down his or her address in order to mail out the thank-yous. (Since Little Dude changed schools, I need to mail the notes.)

Have I actually written the notes yet?  No.

Am I the least bit motivated to write the notes?  No.

I really don’t know what my hang up with this is. I feel like I just HAVE to send thank-yous.  It’s the only polite thing to do.  But I also hate having to do it.

A couple of the parents at Little Dude’s party commented, as they wrote down their addresses for me, that they had not sent out thank-yous for their kids’ birthday parties earlier in the year.  That got me thinking:
1)  I hadn’t even noticed or remembered whether or not these people had sent thank you notes.
2)  Further, I didn’t really care whether they had sent thank you notes.
3)  So why should I worry so much about sending out thank you notes?

Is sending written thank you notes an outdated social custom?  In today’s high-speed, technological world, do people still expect written thank you notes?  I mean, really, if you’re going to hate me just because I didn’t write a damn thank you note for a plastic helicopter that is currently in a million pieces all over my living room floor, then I don’t need to be your friend that badly.

I thank you all for coming to Little Dude’s birthday party.  I really do.  Little Dude thanks you, and he thanks you for the gifts.  Each of your kids went home with a goodie bag as a ‘thanks for coming’ gift.  Do I really have to still write thank you notes?  (Which, essentially, are notes to thank the parents for stopping by Target on their way to the party, aren’t they?)

So maybe I just won’t do them.  Maybe I’ll wait until nex year, or the year after, when Little Dude is big enough to understand the concept a bit more and can help write the notes and sign his name.  Because, right now, writing them myself would primarily be an exercise in alleviating my own guilt if I didn’t write the notes.

That’s it.  I’m taking a stand.  I’m not writing thank you notes this year.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Of course I’ll write the thank you notes.  I made an address spreadsheet for goodness sake.  I would be horribly guilty if I didn’t do it.  It’s like a chain letter — I don’t want to see what will happen if I don’t send out seven copies right away.  But I can still think it’s kinda silly, right?

Where do you stand on the great thank you debate?  People deserve gratitude when they give — that goes without saying.  But are written thank you notes for things like birthday or Christmas gifts truly necessary or an outdated social custom?

Four years ago today I sat in a hospital bed holding my newborn baby.

As I gazed at that wrinkled up little face and breathed in that newborn smell, I had no idea how much my life was going to change.

I don’t mean change as in no more spontaneous evening plans, much less sleep and smelling like spit up for days on end.  Those were changes, but I figure those kind of came with the territory, you know?

The change I mean is life altering change, things-ain’t-ever-going-back-to-the-way-they-were kind of change.

As I learned to take care of this tiny being and meet his needs, I learned about my needs.  As I learned to support and encourage this little human through babyhood into toddlerdom and beyond, I learned how to support and encourage my own spirit.

Four years ago today I was a very different person.  I never would have imagined that my child would show me just how much more life had to offer if I was willing to look beyond  and go beyond the life I had built up to that point.

Today, I am happier and healthier than I have ever been.  I have a wonderful, happy child and a strong, loving husband.  I have a world of possibilities before me that I would never have imagined possible.

Four years ago today my life changed for the better.  I won’t ever feel guilty about that.

Today is bittersweet.

This is Little Dude’s last day at the childcare/preschool he has attended ever since he was eighteen months old.

Of course, I have my reasons for switching schools.  Little Dude will be starting a pre-kindergarten class at a “big boy school” where he will thrive, I know.  And he will move from the pre-k class right into the kindergarten and elementary education program at this school.

But today — today is a goodbye.

A goodbye to the only school setting we have known, a goodbye to the teachers who have provided such wonderful and dependable childcare ever since Little Dude was a toddler.

Today is bittersweet because I know we’re making a good decision and moving to a wonderful school, but we’re leaving our comfort zone behind.


We have been preparing Little Dude for this transition for a while.  He has picked out a Buzz Lightyear backpack and a Buzz Lightyear lunch box, and we’ve been driving past the new school everyday for the past week.  He is incredibly excited for this new adventure to begin on Monday.

Me, on the other hand, I have enough anxiety for everyone.  I’m worried about Little Dude making this transition ok (even though I know he’ll be fine), I’m worried about making new friends (for both of us!), I’m worried about making sure we stay in touch with all the families we have grown so close to at this school we are leaving.

I’m excited but nervous, very happy with the choices we’ve made but apprehensive about how everything will fall into place.

A bittersweet day.

Guilt Goddess says: Trust your instincts and go with your gut.  You know this is a very good decision and a week or two from now, you’ll wonder why you ever had these worries in the first place.

I recently bought a dry erase calendar to put up in our house to better keep track of everyone’s schedules.  This also gives Little Dude something visual to follow along with and see when things are happening.

So, I’m standing in front of this brand-new calendar I just hung on the wall, diligently filling in the days of the month, and it hit me.  It’s September.

September.

Two-thirds of the year is behind me and the holidays are around the corner.

Huh?

What about all the things I still want to do this year?  The goals I have set out but have yet to accomplish?

Ironically, Big Dude always talks about ‘when things slow down.’  As in:
‘When things slow down, we’ll have a chance to clean out the garage.’
‘When things slow down, we can each take a day off and (fill in the blank).’
‘When things slow down, you’ll get a chance to use the bathroom without multi-tasking.’
Ok, I made the last one up, but really, it’s how I feel.

I just laugh whenever I hear the ‘when things slow down’ preamble come out of his mouth, because things never slow down.  Life just keeps moving faster and faster with me running to catch up.  In the next week alone, we’ve got an open house for Big Dude’s business, Little Dude’s fourth birthday, a new school for Little Dude, and kicking everything off, the busiest weekend of the year at my frozen yogurt store.

Sometimes I wish I had the super-human power to freeze time.  (You know, like Eve from Out of This World. Remember that show?  Eve would freeze time by putting her index fingers together.  Then she had all the time in the world to figure things out until she unfroze time again.  Wow, I loved that show.)  I would be so efficient:

  • Laundry done AND folded AND put away.
  • Every last email and piece of paper dealt with at work.
  • Abundant quality time with the Dudes.  (Because, just like Eve, I could unfreeze select people to spend time with me in the time-frozen world.)
  • Every blog post in my feed reader read and commented on.
  • No worries over getting enough sleep because I would be so well-rested and efficient.

I keep thinking if I could be better organized and wrap my arms around life, I could accomplish everything I want to accomplish.  I would have plenty of time to achieve every goal I have set out and make every dream I have dreamt come true.

But alas, I do not possess superpowers.  I will have to continue doing what I can, like using the new dry erase calendar and having marathon errand-running sessions like we did this weekend.  And yes, I will take one day at a time.  I will do what I can do with the twenty-four hours a day we humans have been alloted.  But, I am still entitled to freakouts from time-to-time and to wish for super-human powers.

Guilt Goddess says: Ha ha ha ha ha.  My dear, you’d still freak out if  you had 100 hours in a day.
Me: True.  But I’d be more productive. 🙂
GG: Give it up, girlfriend.  Stop wishing for more time and start using what you’ve got.
Me: I know, I know.  For everything there is a season, time is on my side, one day at a time, etc., etc.  But super powers sure would be nice.

Look- Big Dude made a list!

The organization, the forethought — I think I might swoon.  Quick, let’s look at it again.

Yup, it’s real!

We are going camping this weekend, ad I’m completely clueless.  Back in July when I reserved the camping ground spot, I didn’t think much about the planning of the adventure.  I skipped right over the “partial hookups” and “site description” and focused on the hiking trails and the promise of Legoland.

When I was very young, my family tried camping once.  I don’t remember much beyond eating toast while driving and getting to sleep in that little space above the front seats.  I was just a kid.  So, for this trip, it never occurred to me that I would need to bring my own sheets.  And a frying pan.  And toilet paper.  Somehow, I just thought we would buy a tent and some sleeping bags and off we’d go.

Thank goodness for Big Dude.  He has reserved us an RV, planned out what we need to take, and basically just taken care of everything.  It all fells so… so… gender stereotypical.  Family vacation at a beach resort in Mexico?  Planned and executed by WOMAN.  Camping trip in the wilderness where we must eat from the land and defend ourselves from wild animals?  Planned and executed by MAN.  (Ok, we’ll be in an RV with a fridge full of food from Trader Joe’s, but still.  You get what I’m saying.)  I feel like the helpless little woman who should be darning socks in the rocking chair on the front porch while the man goes out to rustle up dinner.  Maybe I should start paying more attention to those Man vs. Wild episodes he is always watching.

But he has a list!  (Let’s peek at it one more time.   Haha!  It makes me giddy.)

I shall trust in the list and stop worrying that I’m not doing enough.  I’ll focus on packing clean underwear.  And toilet paper.  And maybe a Man vs. Wild DVD so I’ll know what to do if I get separated from the herd and have to fend for myself.

Guilt Goddess says: Go with it, honey.  If he wants to take the lead, that means less stress and more relaxation for you.  And, of course, remind him of his capabilities with this list the next time you’re getting ready for a vacation.

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The Guilt Goddess

Giving guilt a voice one post at a time.

I am your average guilt-ridden mother of one (or 2, if I'm being honest and including my husband), trying to balance running my own business, running my household and now writing a blog. Someday I hope to have vanquished all of my myriad pangs of guilt and be living blissfully free from moment-to-moment. But, until that time, my guilt will live here.

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