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Eating lunch in my car and other “burned out” behaviors.

I balanced the box on my lap as I opened a ketchup packet. On mild days, I can turn off my car and leave the windows up without the worry of sweating profusely. I grab my Coke Zero (with no ice) and take a sip. My eyes are usually fixated on a video playing on my cell while I eat. This has become a ritual. This is my twenty minutes of solitude. Only twenty minutes because the other 30 or so are spent walking my dogs, ordering food, and driving back to the parking lot adjacent to my office.

I’m not sure when I started eating lunch in my car, but I know why I started doing it. It’s a chance to get away from the interruptions and my apartment and my office phone and my emails and the IMs. It’s a chance to be left alone. My brain is on loan to others for at least 12 hours a day and it feels good to sit and drink sweet soda and eat salty, deep fried chicken fingers with near absolute certainty that I won’t be interrupted.

I work. I work all the time. I work at work. I work at home. I work on vacation. I pride myself on how much I’ll work. Working all the time usually means not leaving work until 6:30 p.m. When I was short staffed it meant working until 11 p.m. I never want anyone to feel I’m not “pulling my weight.” I want to be regarded as someone who cares about the quality of my work and my respect for those who depend on me to do my work correct and on time. In my eleven years working full time, I have taken 3 actual vacations using my earned annual leave. Three. In 11 years.

I counted this dedication as a virtue. “Look how much I can take on!” It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized this is unhealthy. Like, really unhealthy. It wasn’t until I reached a breaking point of too many hours, too many burdens, too many “small fires” to put out, too many questions, and naggings, and failings that I realized I had to slow down. I have to admit, I wasn’t smart enough to figure this out on my own. A trusted confidant implored me to stop and take time for myself. To actually practice self-care.

Interestingly enough, I KNOW self-care is important. I have had it scheduled every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. for the better part of a year. Fact is, I never, ever use it. I always find time to fill this time that should be dedicated to unraveling, practicing quietness, praying, reading, walking, resting, to doing more stuff…The problem I face that we all face honestly, is that there will always be more to do. ALWAYS.

Practicing self-care is difficult in an age where everyone is “hustling” and pushing themselves to the limits to attain “success”. Hustle culture is one of the most ubiquitous memes on the web and I know we’ve all seen them.

But what happens when you’re literally out of gas and the hustle is killing you? When you’re so busy proving you can grind or that you have a great work ethic or that you truly desire what you’re after, that you’re killing own mental health?

Know how much you can take and recognize the signs of burn out. For me, it was sitting in my car eating lunch. For others it may be:

  • Sleeping…all the time…
  • Irritability
  • Changes in attitude

Click here for more signs and practical ways to address them.

One of the ways I’m addressing burn out is through doing more to experience life. This ranges from pursuing relationships, getting a monthly massage, using my vacation time, and doing all I can to not take work home with me. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s kept me from the edge of exhaustion. I just have to remind myself of what’s important to me and find balance the best way I can.

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Life happened.

I had such high hopes for this blog. I was going to share all these great stories about how I was making strides. You know, “getting a life” and “getting in shape” and “getting out of town”. Even in all my aspirations, life happened. And happened. And happened again.  It’s been months since I posted here. So much “life happened” that I didn’t know how to clearly articulate it here. I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to articulate it here. I think I have to do this to continue. I’m finally ready to begin again.

“Life happened” on a Friday…

I took lunch around noon. I’d been putting it off for days, but I was so anxious I couldn’t wait anymore. I had a digital test from months before, so buying another one was unnecessary. I followed the instructions, placed the test in a cup on my washing machine, turned off the light in the room, and gave my dogs their afternoon walk.

The same anxiety that drove me to take the test, drove me to prolong our return indoors. I gave the dogs an extra lap around our apartment complex before returning home. By the time I reached my door, my heart was beating out of my chest. I took the dogs off their leashes and walked back to the room where the test was waiting for me in the dark. I say “test,” but it was more than a “test”. This was my future. The start of my life. A New chapter. Something I have wanted for each of the eight years of my marriage. The thing that put me under the knife to remove fibroids and out of work for 6 weeks. The thing that sent me to a reproductive endocrinologist last October.

I was hesitant, but I couldn’t prolong it any further. I had to go back to work. Just look at it

I looked. And I saw. And I shouted. And I cried. A “plus” sign. A PLUS SIGN. A PLUS SIGN!

D______  has been my friend for 20 years. She has heard me lament and sigh and cry and wonder aloud if I’d ever be a mother. She understands. She was the first person I called. I could barely catch my breath. Hyperventilating. Crying. Pauses. I scared her. “What’s wrong?!!!” I told her. She scolded me and then congratulated me.

“Does W____  know?”

“No. Not yet.”

More details followed by “I love you, Sissy” and “goodbyes.” It felt unreal. I told him that night over dinner. He was shocked. And thankful. And hopeful. We were happy.

We arrived at our OB/GYN about a week later for our first ultrasound appointment. I’d downloaded the Ovia Pregnancy app. Each day I received new alerts about our baby.  According to my count I was seven weeks along.  I was excited, but tried not to be too excited. This was our first pregnancy and I am “high risk”. No guarantees.

W____ is quiet. Probably just nerves.. Our doctor walked into the room smiling ear to ear. Upbeat. He’d been as much a part of this journey as is possible for a doctor. Crying with me. Praying for us. Loving us.

The ultrasound technologist couldn’t find our baby at first, but I wasn’t discouraged. It’s still early right? Finally, after a little more probing, a small, dark image appeared on the screen. I looked at our doctor. There was worry behind a smile.

“And when was your last period again?” I told him.

“There is a chance we’re counting wrong. Let’s revisit in two weeks.”

New appointment is scheduled. We are quiet on our walk to the car.

“What’s wrong?,” I ask.

“Nothing,” he says.

He’s lying. He was worried. I can tell, but I’m confident.

It only took two days and a few Google searches for my confidence to flee.  A paralyzing anxiety took its place and formed a painful ball in the pit of my stomach.

W____ got ready for work and I got ready for my day. He’d been gone for an hour before and I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to say something. I had to warn him, my body had failed us. Or at least that’s how I felt. I dialed his number. I was a bit relieved when he didn’t answer.

I cried a bit and my phone rang. It was him. I reluctantly answered.

“What’s wrong?,” he said.

“We’ll talk when you get home.”

“No. What’s wrong?”

“There’s something wrong with the baby.”

We prayed on a three way call with a pastor’s wife who is also a nurse. I didn’t feel better.

Cramping and spotting began later that day. I called the “after hours” line for my doctor’s office to ask if I was  losing our baby. The doctor I spoke with wasn’t my doctor. He didn’t know me. He hadn’t cried for me or prayed with me. He didn’t soften his words to ease the blow.

“That does sound like a miscarriage, but come in first thing Monday morning.”

I cried as I got dressed for church the next day. W____ was silent during the drive. We arrived early and sat in the empty sanctuary. I thought we could make it through the service, but within 5 minutes of sitting in our usual section, I got up and walked back out to the car. W____ had ventured off somewhere, perhaps to find our pastor and our doctor (he also attends our church). Before I knew it I was back in my car, seat reclined back, sick and sobbing, troubled by overpowering cramps reminding me my baby had died. We drove home and laid in bed. I was tired of crying and questioning and crying some more, so I hopped out of bed, dried my tears and resolved to move on. I had to be strong, right? I’m not the only person this has happened to, right? And I should just move on, right? That’s what people do, right? I found out it wasn’t that easy. At least not for me.

Putting on a face at work was difficult. Everything seemed so small in comparison to what I was experiencing physically and emotionally. It was hard to focus and hard to care. The same was true at home. Sleep became my friend. I escaped through funny YouTube videos, political podcasts, and keeping busy with distractions and hopes of new opportunities.

I couldn’t bring myself to post here. I didn’t come back at all until today. The days it gets too hard, I let my sorrow, seemingly overwhelming, wash over me like a tide, praying for it to erase everything, so I can forget how hurt I am. Or how hurt he is. Or the questions we both have about whether we’ll ever carry a baby to term. Or how we’d worry every day if we ever conceived again. And my questions about what exactly I was suppose to learn from this experience. Perhaps it was a lesson in powerlessness and dependence. I’m still trying to figure it out.

I didn’t want to talk about this, but I did want this blog to be an honest. I didn’t want an overly curated version of my life. Because of that, I couldn’t begin posting about anything else without first sharing this part of my 2017. I stopped blogging because “life happened,” but I want to continue blogging because life has to go on.

Gloria gets out of debt, Uncategorized

The Part-Time Ramseyites.

We’re part-time “Ramseyites”. I say “part-time” because if we were true Dave Ramsey disciples, we’d have no debt by now. The copy of Financial Peace I purchased in 2007 is out for display on one of  my end tables. We plan our month expenditures. We’re snowballing debt and saving money. Even with that, I don’t feel we’ve done enough.

Honestly, I’m ready to be done. I’m ready to be off this debt treadmill. Debt robs you of opportunities and I’m tired of being robbed. I’ve passed up business ideas because I felt bad putting money towards a business venture when I still owed other people money. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be in a position to take advantage of any opportunity that falls in my lap.

I’m so tired I’m ready to throw weight behind the sentiment. We currently pay an uncomfortable, and yes, shameful 23% of our monthly take home pay to creditors. Twenty.Three.Percent. Nearly a quarter. I’m not proud of that, man. Hard to admit.

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I could sit and feel sorry for us, but I won’t. I talked to the hubs about attempting to use his entire paycheck for savings and debt only. He agreed.

While some of my friends and associates were sleeping, watching a ball drop, dancing or kissing their boo, I was budgeting my way into the new year. Two minutes from 2017 and I was click clacking away in a Google Sheet, planning our freedom.

For the first 6 months of 2017, we will devote forty percent of our take home to paying off debt. Time to get to work on becoming full-time “Ramseyites.” I think ole Dave would be pleased.

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“Slowly, Surely”

I can’t believe I’m starting another blog. I have been putting this off for at least one month, but here I am. I’m the worst at this. I’m a “love ’em and leave ’em” type of girl when it comes to these things. The commitment required to keep them up is one I’ve never been able to see through.

So why? Why another blog? Because I’m venturing into a new chapter in my life. I’m not really sure what this chapter holds because it is being written with each moment. The plan is to document my trials and triumphs as I start my journey to what I jokingly call “getting a life.” Going for the things I want in every aspect of my life. In relationships, in work, in personal pursuits, in service. I’m going to faithfully and transparently document what it looks like when I actually “go for it.” The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I’m going to ease into this, as it’s been a while, but I’m confident that publicly sharing my pursuits will motivate me to continue. It’s time to be intentional. It’s time to make it count.

Peaceeeeeeeeee.