Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Inhale the good, exhale the bad.
Breathe in to gather the negative things together and breathe out to expel them forever.

Breathe in.
Frustrated drivers honking in traffic.

Breathe out.
Wind blowing through nearby aspen trees.

Breathe in.
People walk by, instantly judged.

Breathe out.
Release internal dialogue. Stand, mind quiet, eyes closed.

Breathe in.
Tummy rumbles, impatient for dinner.

Breathe out.
Shoulders relax down, away from my ears.

Breathe in.
So cold.

Breathe out.
Clouds break, sun warms my back.

Breathe in. 
My reflection, met with a frown, analyzing.
Breathe out.
Forgive and embrace me.
Breathe in. 
Waiting for job news.
Breathe out.
Determined faith.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Inspiration

I updated my list of inspiring blogs in my sidebar. They are all worth visiting, often.

I keep finding new blogs to follow and new inspiration in the ones I already follow. Since I am still internalizing a lot of the things I have been learning, I'd like to take the opportunity to write about other people instead of myself.

First, I'd like to note Dani at positively present for her 14 reasons to fall in love with fall. Summer used to be my favorite season. Fall has surpassed it with flying colors (ha!) now that I know what fall can truly be. I didn't grow up with real fall and now that I experience the things Dani writes about, I join her in her enthusiasm and passion for the sense of change, the colors in the leaves, and the sounds and smells that come with autumn.

I enjoyed watching the video that Tess posted on The Bold Life under Rapping Southwest Flight Attendant. It's wonderful to witness people doing something out of the ordinary, which takes courage, and having it turn out so well that it lifts people's moods. I admire the attendant in the video for finding a way to make something very mundane exciting and new instead.

I recently discovered Urban Monk and I am really looking forward to reading and implementing the articles about Finding a Purpose and Passion in Life.

Now that I have laid out some of the changes I want to make in my life, I am happy to be reminded by Leo at Zen Habits that I should take things slowly. His post, entitled The Slow Secret: How to Make Lasting Changes in Your Life, outlines the wonderful benefits of slowing down. I have a feeling that this will help me in my goal to be in the present more often, too.

Mommy Mystic's post called LOVE- The Story of a Life, of Any Life brought me to tears with her words. Her story about her friend Matt who died at a young age is a poignant example of the way each of us can have an impact on the world by simply living our lives with love. The power of her words reminds me that even the little things matter and gives me the strength to keep going each day even if I don't accompish anything particularly noteworthy in the short-term.

I really enjoyed reading Ian's post on Quantum Learning called A world of deals and exchanges. His suggestion to try to make eye contact with people you encounter is something that I have tried to do before and it is truly surprising how difficult it can be, and how wonderful it is when you do manage to lock eyes with a stranger for a second. Our assumptions definitely get in the way of having happy exchanges with people as we maneuver through life. What can we do to act with a little more faith in humanity without feeling betrayed or endangered if our faith is returned with distrust? Maybe our positive actions will catch on.

The new blog that really jumped out for me in my exploring yesterday is Lisis' Quest For Balance. I would like to highlight three of her posts here. First, her post on Depression: The Long, Dark Road gave me some insight into what depression was/is like for her to deal with, and had me wondering what it feels like for Donald. I think he's mostly past his depression now, yet it's still good to understand what he was going through, especially if he encounters it again.

I think anyone having a bad day (or worse) can implement the suggestion to "focus on the centerline" and keep going a little longer. I'm using this idea now to get through the next couple weeks of waiting to hear news on Donald's current job prospect. Getting closer somehow makes it even harder.

Lisis also posted The Basic Needs: Just Be. This is a wonderful piece because it reminds her readers to simplify all the way back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It has definitely helped me to focus on the basics before getting caught up with the more complex things. Amazingly, meeting basic needs often simplifies the more complicated things or shows us that those things aren't really necessary.

The final post from Lisis that caught my attention is Adventure: How to Get From Fear to Faith. I was hesitant as I started to read this post, mostly because faith means different things to different people and I wasn't sure that she would share my sense of it. I absolutely love what she writes, that "what you believe is not as important as that you believe in something." She goes on to show how this can relate to everyone, no matter their religious or spiritual level of being. I will be doing my best to implement this idea. It will help me be in the present, let go of control, be less anxious, and trust that everything will work out.

Thanks for reading! I hope you visit and enjoy each of these blogs. I'd love to hear about the ones that have impacted you and how you have implemented what you read to make a difference in your life. Thank you to each of these bloggers for contributing in such a valuable way to the blogging community!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Willingness to Fail

I have received some very wonderful feedback on my last post Self-Esteem and Making Mistakes. I feel the need to follow up on some things I said. First, I want to acknowledge some recent posts that speak to avoiding assumptions, over-analyzing, and judging.

Naveen Lakkur posted on Active Garage asking Are you diving deep into the matters? He includes a very relevant story that perfectly illustrates the dangers of judging and making assumptions. Ivan Capuzano writes How To Have New Eyes To See The World, about avoiding over-analyzation. His post gives great tips on how to see everything going on around you for what it is, without labels or analysis. Nadine Laman at First Draft also addresses the pitfalls of labeling others in her post called PC.

Okay, back to the title topic now. I realized after reading the comments from suZen and Mindy that I should probably give myself a little more credit. All of my self-esteem is not dependent upon doing everything right and being the best. It is definitely a very strong drive in me and certainly gets in the way when I consider trying something new. However, I read back through all of my blog entries thus far and found quite a lot of uplifting things. Apparently I need to listen to myself a little more.

A post on communicatrix gave me a much needed reminder that failing is part of living without fear. A willingness to fail is also a willingness to try something new, to learn from our mistakes, to improve things around us. Many of the best inventions and discoveries came from failure. Some of my best experiences recently have only happened because I was willing to do something spontaneous without knowing the outcome first. I need to take strength from the times that letting go has worked so well, proof that I do not have to be in control or prepared for every contingency.

I have had a good journey so far through my blog. I have gone from thinking that my way is to help other people handle conflict more appropriately to understanding that my way right now should be in adjusting my life and my attitude so that I can embrace whatever opportunities come my way. I need to trust that my path will become clear once I am in the right frame of mind to see it. Just typing that feels so freeing!

My posts and my blogging friends have taught me the following:
* I will soften in the face of conflict. I will address conflict. I will not place blame.
* I will do everything I can to simply be in the present, enjoying the learning process, engaged in what I am doing at that moment.
* In order to cultivate inner peace, I will relinquish control. I will accept that there are many unknowns and that I am not responsible for knowing them until they are shown to me. I will be patient.
* I deserve to be more forgiving of myself, accepting of failure, and allowed to make mistakes. I do not have to be the best at anything. I do not have to do anything right the first time. I will give myself credit when I do something right.
* I will be motivated by a desire to understand others, not by a desire to be right. I will engage in conversation with others with a willingness to be changed. I will not try to change or control others. I will be more accepting of others and not judgemental. I will be competitive with myself, and no one else.
* I will give myself permission to be open to opportunity and willing to embrace challenges. I will be more flexible and spontaneous. I might even be daring. I will stretch myself and be empowered. I will give myself realistic expectations.
* I will stop talking about it and do it; I will take action. I will listen with no agenda and no internal dialogue. I will think before I speak, and hopefully, say less.
* I will act with authenticity and integrity. I will express gratitide, compassion, humility, and grace. I will own my choices and I will choose to act in line with my values.
* I will breathe, deeply and with purpose.
* I will make progress, gradually and surely.
* I will be the best partner to Donald by being the best partner to myself.

Nadia wrote today on Happy Lotus, The Diamond In You & How You Can Never Be Threatened. This post is such a source of inspiration and encouragement to me. She writes about the importance of being present and reminds her readers that our core is perfect and cannot be threatened. It is up to us to uncover our cores, to remove the detritus of issues and struggle and to allow ourselves to shine the way we were intended to do. Her words give me the permission I need to follow my heart and not my mind, to free myself from the past and not worry too much about the future.

Thank all of you for your help along the way. I look forward to more kitchen conversations with friends.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Self-Esteem and Making Mistakes

I came across a blog this morning that is very different from the blogs I normally read, and may stretch my readers a little. The purpose is similar and the audience is very different. It's written as a dating guide for geeks, called The Geek's Guide to Getting the Girl. Very alliterative.

I don't know if any of you have noticed from a few passing references in past posts that I have a geek streak. In some of my spare time, I play video games. I built my home computer so it would have the ability to handle World of Warcraft. My husband is a technophile. I have played Dungeons and Dragons. Donald would remind me that I am nowhere near a true geek because I have very good social skills. I do, however, suffer from low self-esteem in several areas, and while I am not a male, some of the things Elizabeth discusses in her blog strike home with me.

<watches her readership flee>

Elizabeth's post yesterday, entitled Changing Your Worldview gives a very clear and blunt message: "People with poor self-esteem are the only ones comparing themselves to other people. No one with a good sense of self-esteem cares." She goes on to say that it doesn't matter if we aren't the best at something. This is hard for me. I have written about needing to resist comparing myself to other people and to instead, compete with myself. I had not clearly connected it to self-esteem.

She also makes the suggestion to her readers that they should make a list of the things they do only because they think they ought to do them and then stop doing them. Now, obviously, if we stop taking out the trash because it is unpleasant, some pretty yucky consequences will result. This isn't her point though. The suggestion to consider what we spend our time doing and whether it is a worthwhile activity is all about addressing our priorities and making sure that we are acting in line with our values.

My self-esteem is directly connected with my need to be good at everything I do and to always do things right the first time.

Today on The Bold Life, Tess showcased Wilma's Blog in a post written by Wilma called When The Heart Guides The Mind.... Wilma writes about the wonderful things that can happen when we follow our heart and not our minds first. Deciding to follow one's heart when our mind is clearly in opposition takes an incredible amount of courage and determination. One of the things that often prevents me from ignoring my mind is my desire to do everything right the first time.

Donald and I talked about this last night before bed. I had spent an hour or two that evening playing Batman: Arkham Asylum on the XBox 360. Let me give you some background. First, I LOVE Batman. Second, Donald loves trying new video games and plays many different games in the course of a month; I try one after having it recommended highly to me and then I play it until I master it. I'm generally a one game girl. He is the one who got me to try video games in the first place; I was in graduate school. We play video games for completely different reasons and in completely different ways.

These differences translate directly into the way we live our lives. I am methodical and careful. I like to know what I'm supposed to do before I do it. Donald tries the first thing he sees and if that doesn't work, tries something else. He experiments and uses his failures to find his way to the right path. I fear failure and want to explore many paths before choosing one.

I was plodding steadily through the game last night and I entered a room with some bad guys in it. Batman has a "detective mode" that allows him to see through walls and such, so I could see how many bad guys there were. It took me a while to understand that they could not see me though, because this mode makes all of the walls look transparent and I assumed that I could be seen. I had to keep flipping back and forth between the two to get a clear picture of what I was dealing with.

One of the reasons I like this game is because much of what Batman does is sneaky. He hangs from gargoyles and sneaks up on people. He does not go rushing straight into combat, especially when the bad guys have guns. He takes his time to case the situation and is methodical in the execution of his plans. At least, he does when I'm playing him.

Donald was keeping me company and made suggestions and encouraged me to explore the room to figure out what I was supposed to do. Normally I appreciate his help because I am still a novice at video games of this type and I am not familiar with my options. For some reason though, last night, I just got more and more agitated about wanting to do it right the first time. I didn't want to try something that wasn't going to work. I wanted Batman to be perfect.

I could feel my internal four-year-old banging around inside me, saying "It's TOO HARD! I don't want to DO this anymore!" Luckily, I glanced at the clock and it was time for me to head to bed anyway, so I saved and quit.

Once we were in bed, I had relaxed enough to talk about it without whining. Donald pointed out our different gaming styles and gave me pointers about how to approach the game and its scenarios in less stressful ways. The part that really stuck out for me, though, was my apparent need to do everything right the first time. It had never been so clearly illustrated to me.

How much has that need been holding me back? I need some good challenges to start breaking that habit. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Nadia at Happy Lotus wrote a post called The September Issue of My Life. The part that jumped out at me in particular is the four paragraphs above the image of the mountain lake.

Avoiding making judgements about others is a significant challenge for me, one that embarrasses me. Nadia says, "We move through our days making judgments without ever realizing that maybe there is more to a person than what we see." Every time I see someone and make a judgement about them, I challenge myself to come up with other explanations, alternatives to my assumptions. For example, a person on the road tailgating me leads to my assumption that they are a terrible driver and a real bully. Alternatives could include the possibility that they are on their way to an emergency, that they are upset because someone close to them died, or that they are really excited to be going to see their favorite band in concert. This exercise allows me to let go of my hostility towards the other person, to get out of their way, and to wish them luck.

Why are our judgements of other people almost always negative? Why don't we make positive assumptions about people? Nadia writes, "It is said in spiritual texts that when we criticize another, we are criticizing something that bothers us about ourselves." So perhaps we are negative about other people because we are negative about how we feel about ourselves. We compare ourselves to other people in order to feel good or "better", when in fact, we are criticising ourselves by doing so.

Now that I am paying attention to this more in myself, I also seem to be observing it more in other people. It's almost like judging people who judge people. The biggest challenge this has given me is when I see it in my mother-in-law. I hear criticism of other people from her more often than I realized. I get the sense that she always wants to be right. I see myself in her, the parts I do not like, and I do not know how to react to that. Do I just ignore it and focus on changing myself? It is especially an issue for me because she is family and we live with her and she might help take care of our future children, so I have more of a stake in the outcome. What if she is unhappy? What would you do?

Perhaps I should acknowledge her negative energy and turn it into motivation to change myself, to avoid this similarity with her. I cannot change her, she has to find her own way. I need a balance between finding my way and protecting myself from energies that deplete my own. Thoughts?

Baby Steps

I had an appointment with a new ob/gyn to get established as a new patient. As I sat there in my medical gown with a sheet over my lap, I fidgeted with a piece of paper in my hand. The night before, Donald and I had written some questions I needed to ask. When my doctor came in and introduced herself, she saw the paper and had me ask my questions first thing.

I told her that we're planning for me to stop taking birth control pills as soon as this pack is done (October 2). I wanted to know what the side effects might be since I've been on the pill for about ten years now. I also wanted to know what steps we needed to take to prepare for our eventual decision to conceive. I am already taking prenatal vitamins, so that was covered. She said we should wait three months before using no birth control at all to give my body time to adjust to being off the pill. She wrote a lab order for a rubella immunity test. She exuded very positive energy, walked me through the steps, and made it all sound so easy. I did the blood work that afternoon.

I am still trying to internalize the magnitude of these baby steps Donald and I have just taken together. We are heading towards a very new and exciting adventure together. We are also on our way to a huge amount of change and unknown.

In addition to this excitement, I also experienced a sudden sense of trepidation. What if this next step means that a lot of the things that I still want to do with my life will never happen? I started to think about what kinds of choices I would have made with my life if I hadn't gotten married right after grad school. I wasn't regretting marrying Donald; I simply wanted to consider what I would have done if it were just me, no other commitments. I was concerned to discover that I think I would have made some pretty different choices.

I will hedge here and say that who I was five years ago when I graduated from graduate school is not the same person as who I am now. So saying that I would have made different choices at that time in my life, from the perspective of my current being, is somewhat problematic. It does tell me, however, what is important to my individual development, what is important to making me who I want to be.

Having children is so important to me and to us. I want to give motherhood the proper time and effort it deserves. And at the same time, I want to give myself the opportunity to continue to grow as an individual. Several bloggers have written bucket lists for themselves. I'm not ready to write an entire one now, although these are some of the things that come to mind at the moment:

*See what it is like to live on/near a ranch where I can ride horses daily.
*Learn how to do some trick riding, especially the barrel roll.
*Live somewhere with open plains and mountains in the distance.

The next steps that Donald and I take together may not seem headed in a direction that might make these things happen. We currently live in the mid-Atlantic region and Donald's recent job prospects are relatively nearby. We are not moving West. This area tends to have English riding rather than Western.

When I talked to Donald about this, though, he reminded me that I can still work towards these things, no matter where we live. We can take vacations at dude ranches or working ranches. I can learn about horse care from anyone willing to teach me. If these are important things to me, we will find a way to make them happen.

Baby steps towards children and baby steps towards becoming who we want to be, as individuals and as a couple.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I have decided that the next step in my self-improvement process is going to be increasing my focus on being in the present. Impressively, many others have written about the same topic recently.

Zen Habits included a guest post by Mary Jaksch called Survive and Thrive: How to Transform Anxiety into Inspiration. While I don't find myself dealing with high levels of anxiety most days, not being present is a source of anxiety because of the focus on things we have no control over. She has several suggestions for how to deal with anxiety. My favorite is "practice meditation". While I do not meditate, this suggestion reminded me of breathing as practiced in yoga, an exercise I have found quite calming and transforming. Her encouragement to do this for three minutes several times a day is completely achievable. I will start this today.

A second recent post on Zen Habits called 8 Ways Doing Less Can Transform Your Work & Life touched on a similar theme and directed its readers towards simplifying their lives in order to be able to focus on the present more clearly. It is so easy to over-commit and get caught up in the multitude of things around us. We pride ourselves on being able to multitask six things at once. We have no idea what we might be missing. What worries me most is that these simplifying goals come across as though they are a luxury, when instead, they should probably be as essential as food, water, and shelter for a quality peace of mind. The most important part of the post for me is this: "Change gradually, but surely."

5 simple ways to cultivate inner peace on positively present showcased the International Day of Peace and connected the desire for international peace with the need to gain peace within ourselves. She wrote, "We don't have world peace because too many people lack inner peace. There isn't peace in the world because many people aren't at peace with themselves." I think that this is quite profound, especially because in many ways, it makes world peace seem that much more attainable if each of us really do have a role to play. Her first way of cultivating inner peace is through a focus on the present, thus avoiding inner conflict over the past and the future.

One of the best ways to be in the present is through laughter. The Jungle of Life posted about this in Laughter Revisited. Coincidentally, Donald and I experienced this on Sunday night. We had been out to dinner with his family and he was feeling somewhat giddy from the wine and the company and was in a silly mood. We had turned the light out and were settling in when my phone rang. It was my mom, so I took the call and chatted with her in the dark for a few minutes. When I got off the phone, I leaned back down towards my pillows and banged my head into the wall behind me.

Donald had removed my pillows and in the dark I had no reference point for the location of the wall. My first reaction was "ouch". A split second after that, when it dawned on me why I had hit the wall instead of my pillows, I raged, "You moved my *$^# pillows!" Donald pulled me into his arms and I fumed, giving into my anger and shooting daggers at him in the dark. A second or two later we were giggling helplessly. We didn't stop giggling for fifteen minutes, even after settling in again and trying to fall asleep.

Giggling like that with Donald was a moment of complete abandon. We were both completely in the present, together. Our laughter made everything negative disappear from the room. If that is what being in the present is like, bring it on!

Friday, September 18, 2009


A blog is like a pebble tossed into a pond. It begins as a single point. Upon contact with the water, the impact generates ripples, growing ever wider and more expansive, touching things the pebble never touched.

When I started this blog less than two months ago, I barely hoped that someone would read it besides me. Donald doesn't even read it; he knows that if I need to say something to him, I'll do it directly, not through this.

Eventually, I commented on a few blogs I found interesting and their authors returned the favor. My first comment was so exciting! I felt like I had progressed from the single point to the first ripple.

In the past few days, after visiting many new blogs and commenting on some of them, I am overjoyed at the reciprocal response. My community feels like it is growing and I am inspired by what I have found.

I love the image Janice conjured up in her comment when she said, "It's like visiting someone's kitchen and finding friends already at the table!" I am blessed to have such supportive and giving people reading my words and sharing their thoughts.

I would like to return the favor by writing about several posts that hit home for me. I have been thinking about them constantly over the past few days. Perhaps more than a coincidence, I have also been struggling at work this week, striving to be valued for the quality work I do and not for the number of hours I sit in my office. It is a work in progress and all of your words have helped me emerge with hope instead of defeat.

A few days ago, I mentioned Tess' post from The Bold Life, called Notice Anything? When I read it earlier this week, I was suddenly and uncontrollably brought to tears. Her conclusion reads: "If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…How many other things are we missing?" Since reading her post, I have tried to make a point of raising my head when I walk down the street. I have tried to slow down and to remove too many scheduled things from my day. I have made a mental note to myself to pause and to reflect and to be.

Several of the blogs I read had timely posts about struggling with the work/career/happiness balance. Nadia at Happy Lotus wrote about "Working for Good". I have written about my struggle with the workplace and with the fact that I have not yet held a job I loved. Nadia's post gave me the much needed motivation to keep moving towards that goal and not to settle. Lance at The Jungle of Life wrote Happy Work, a post of support for those of us struggling to find the energy to get to work each day. I love his suggestion to "Be the happiness you wish to see in this world!"

Other blogs wrote recently about the best ways to respond to the world around us. 101 Smackdowns for Your Inner Critic posted First Response: Soften, which describes a Tai Chi movement and the best way to react. The author says, "When you soften, you remember what you need, and you remember what you have (which of course is all you need)." Megan at It's All About Joy! wrote Giving Our All, about avoiding kneejerk reactions. Her acknowledgement of wanting to change her life and stop being "Caught up in my head to such an extent that many days I couldn't get out of my own way, even if I had an army of people helping me" definitely hit home for me.

A couple of other blogs take it one step further and encourage readers to take control of themselves in order to improve their lives. Tess on The Bold Life in It's All About You and Karl at Karl Blog in Learning to Let Go both touch on this idea. Karl's post leads his readers through the steps to feeling emotion, controlling how we express that emotion, and how to turn it into something productive and positive. I definitely need to practice letting go.

One of my hardest challenges for letting go will be something Janice writes about on Sharing the Journey in Life Laundry...revisited. I left a comment on her blog and she responded with wonderful suggestions about how to simplify one's life by reducing clutter. I may have quite an opportunity when Donald and I move into a place of our own (someday) since most of our belongings are in storage in his parents' basement. I am looking forward to creating a physical embodiment of the changes I have been making in my life.

What will the next ripple bring?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inspiring Blogs

I just discovered a whole lot of new blogs to follow and I wanted to acknowledge one in particular that really moved me.

I still haven't quite figured out why, so I'll need to revisit this again after I have let it float around in the back of my mind for a while.

Tess posted Notice Anything? on The Bold Life.

I encourage you to read it. I will definitely be revisiting her blog.


This past weekend, Donald and I took the dog for a walk, and along our way, we saw one of these:

4-inch long regal moth caterpillar with green skin and several horns sticking out of its head and body sitting on grass
From Copyright © 2009 GValHart

I nearly stepped on it and I cried out in delight, causing the dog to get excited and pull Donald into the road. Luckily there were no oncoming cars.

Unfortunately, because we had the dog with us and we were trying to train her to walk better on a leash, I could not play with this HUGE caterpillar. I had to keep walking and Donald kept hushing me to stop squeaking with excitement about how big it was. I had never seen anything like it before in my life.

I did a little research today to figure out what it was. Besides, of course, an alien demon come to take over the world. The one I saw was at least as big as the one pictured above (4 inches), if not bigger. It was magnificent.

It's a Regal Moth Caterpillar. It turns into one of these:

Full grown Regal Moth with a fuzzy, orange body and orange and grey striped wings
From Stephen Cresswell

I think I HAVE seen one of these, but do a quick Google Image search and check out how big and fuzzy and pretty they are!

I just wanted to share.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dinners 3 to 6

I am lagging behind on telling you about our dinners on our own!

I wrote about Dinners 1 and 2 with some projections for what was coming up. Those got changed since I wasn't feeling well when I got home on Thursday. We got Chinese take-out (#3). We had the salmon dish on Friday and it was really yummy, although I overdid the parsley - way too much! The salmon cooked perfectly and the potatoes and mushrooms had a great fall flavor. We'll definitely make it again, especially because it was really quick (#4).

On Saturday, I was successful in making my mom's chili (#5). This is one of those recipes that produces different results every time. I have made it often enough that I didn't use a recipe at all, and this batch was really yummy. I served it over freshly baked corn bread (from a box mix) and since we didn't have normal cheddar, I grated sharp white cheddar over it. Sharp white has more flavor than regular cheddar, so given a choice I'd go with the normal stuff to avoid overshadowing the flavor of the chili. I should also note that my chili balances meat, beans and veggies. I ordered chili in England once and was very confused when they brought out a bowl of ground beef and no beans in sight. Mad-cow, anyone?

I did some more recipe research online over the weekend and discovered a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe on The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Donald had been craving Indian food and I didn't want to go out and spend money, so this was a compromise. It ended up being really yummy (#6). I over-seasoned the chicken, so the cumin taste ended up really strong, so be careful with that. Donald said we could make it for his parents sometime, a real compliment.

Tonight we're having dinner out with Donald's brother, although I don't know where we're going yet. Tomorrow night we're finally having the pasta with sausage and broccoli dish. And then the in-laws return!

Oh, I also made the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies again that I posted about here. This time, I gave Donald one just out of the oven, still gooey in the middle, and he moaned. I nearly dropped a pan of raw cookie dough. When he told me the cookies were nearly as good as sex with me, I took it as a compliment. Wouldn't you?

Conditional Love

My in-laws have a dog, a six-year-old Weimaraner. I didn't grow up with dogs. I grew up with cats, rabbits, fish, and a rat. My family didn't get a dog until a year or two before I left for college and he was a mess, so I didn't really connect with him.

The Weimaraner is a source of frustration for me. She is spoiled. She sleeps in my in-laws' bed. People vacate couches and chairs for her. She barks for her breakfast and dinner. She runs the household. When we would visit, it was a source of amusement. "Oh, that dog."

And then Donald and I moved in.

I am unwilling to kowtow to the dog. I will not get up from my seat to give her space on the couch. I started implementing lessons from Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. She doesn't lick the dirty dishes in the dishwasher anymore if I'm around. Donald corrects her when she barks at him when he is putting food in her dish. We took her for a walk together this past weekend, taking turns at correcting her for pulling and wanting to be first. Our arms are sore. She seemed to be getting it by the time we got home, an hour and a half later. We thought we had tired her out.

I have written about my obsession with the garden. I spend hours happily trimming damaged leaves from the tomatoes, clearing out weeds from between the bean plants, and picking green peppers. I care for the garden with love and I am protective of it, which is why I'm glad that it is surrounded by a deer fence consisting of three feet of chicken wire along the bottom, covered with seven feet of black mesh fencing. Metal fence posts are placed at the four corners and midway on all four sides.

The dog broke into the garden on Saturday. After the walk that was supposed to have worn her out. After I had shown her affection, something I reserve for special occasions because I do not want to reward her bad behavior. She tore out two tomato plants and mangled several heads of lettuce. And then she barked because she was stuck. She had torn a hole in the black mesh fence just above the chicken wire big enough to worm her way inside the enclosure. She had no idea how to get back out. I wanted to skin her alive.

I manhandled her out of the enclosure. Donald and I got more black mesh fencing and placed a double thick layer over the hole the dog made. We secured it tightly. Our mistake was letting her watch us. The next day, when the dog had been outside for enough time that we wondered where she was, we found her in the garden, again. This time she had pulled two green tomatoes from the vine. She couldn't find her way out this time either.

The Dog Whisperer says that dogs live in the moment, that past and future do not matter to them. I want to believe him. I do not understand why this dog would do such a thing. She is not hungry. It seems vindictive, like she is punishing me for withholding affection, that she knows how much I love that garden and is motivated to destroy it just to hurt me. I truly felt betrayed. I had been nice to her and this is the thanks I get?!

I just had to force myself to take several deep breaths. I'm still a bit worked up.

After letting go of my anger, I realized that my affection/love for the dog is conditional. If she upsets me, I withhold affection as a punishment. It's not an effective way to function for either of us.

I shared my realization with Donald, and he said, "Wow, I'm glad you don't do that with me." I said, "I don't do it to people! .... anymore."

Unfortunately, I did this to someone when I was younger. It was my little sister, the same one I helped move to a new place on the spur of the moment last month. We haven't always had such a close relationship.

My sister and I are seven years apart, with our brother in the middle. When she was about 7 years old, we moved to a new house and all three of us shared a room. She had always been very independent and pushed the rules constantly. This, of course, conflicted directly with my belief that my parents were always right (I was a strange child) and contributed to my unease when I saw my parents relax on the rules that my sister flaunted instead of enforcing them. Thinking I was helping my parents, I took on the role as a third parent, trying to enforce the rules myself. Obviously, this didn't work and ended up compromising my relationship with my sister for many years.

I believed that I was acting with good intentions. What came across was disapproval of my sister. She could not win with me. Even if she did something right, I was expecting her to do something wrong. If I did something "nice" for her (which often consisted of "helping" her clean her room when I had ulterior motives to control her space), I felt betrayed when she didn't appreciate it.

I eventually figured out that this mode of operating would never improve my relationship with her. I had graduated from college and I was complaining once again to Donald about something my sister had done or not done. He called me on it. He helped me see that the quality of my relationship with my sister was my responsibility and that I was judging her before she acted. I was stunned by the truth and grateful to Donald for showing me the error of my ways.

I called my sister and apologized for the years of unhappiness between us. She was gracious enough to accept my apology and we have become friends in the subsequent years.

I have told myself for so many years that I am really careful and aware of my affect on other people. I wonder whether that has ever been true. I am seeing more as I look at my life that I have embodied many of the things that I abhor in other people. I understand now why many people in high school thought I was aloof and self-righteous. I may be more aware of myself now, and I still have a long way to go.

So why am I conditional with the dog? Is it because she isn't my dog, and therefore I have no responsibility/right to train her the way I want to? Will I be different with a dog if Donald and I get one? Is it different with dogs because we are supposed to be superior to them? Whatever it is, my method is not working.

At least now I can see where my judging comes from. I am very competitive. I am self-conscious. I have lived my life acting in line with the belief that in order for me to be the best I can be, I must be better than everyone else. I talk about myself non-stop because I am trying to convince myself that I am right and therefore of value. The historian in me wants to know how this happened. I think it's time to let that go and simply be in the now.

I listened to Susan Scott's webinar on Transformational Idea #3 today and again found immediate relevance to my struggle. She spoke about the fact that individuals approach every interaction with their own context and perceptions and that we assume our interpretations of what someone says or does are correct. She asked her listeners to think about what we are choosing to believe. She also asked, "What are you practicing?"

As Susan says, our beliefs drive our behavior and our behavior drives our results. What I practice has a direct impact on the direction my life is taking. Progress in my life/career/etc. is dependent upon my progress as an individual.

She also said, loud and clear, "Stop talking about it and do it." Here I go.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I'm embarrassed and I'm working on forgiving myself. I am glad that I vented yesterday and I am starting over today.

I ignored all of the things that I am grateful for. I looked past the things that have true value to me. I denied all of the things that go right in this world and how lucky I am. I am ashamed of my selfishness and while I know it is human, it is not the way I want to be.

Especially today.

Mindy's post on her blog, The Suburban Life, helped to bring me back to reality. It is time to stop feeling sorry for myself. It is time to embrace the good things, to acknowledge the bad things, and to do what I can to make myself worthy of the blessing that is each and every day of my life.

I know that I will trip and fall again. I know that there are strong arms and hands and hearts to catch me and put me back on my feet again. I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I need to find a balance between standing up strong and kneeling with humility. I need to have confidence in myself and grace and compassion. I will find my way, one day at a time.

I will live in a way that makes me deserving of the sacrifices made to protect my ability to do so.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pretending Makes it Worse

Pretending that we are independent adults while the in-laws are gone makes the fact that we are not living on our own worse, not better. I watched President Obama's speech on TV last night and some of the things I observed were very discouraging. I feel completely daunted in my desire for people to communicate better.

I am in a foul mood today. I could see the low, dark clouds in the distance for the past few days, and today, it is here. I feel tired. I feel like I might be getting sick. I feel apathy and no motivation. Everything is too hard. It takes all of my energy to be civil. I feel like I have accomplished nothing. And I am tired of waiting.

I'm having a fight with myself. I say, "You're acting like a two-year-old. You have control over some of this. Stand up, be a woman, and take charge of what you can change and let everything else go!" I respond, "Shut up and leave me alone! I get to be grumpy if I want to be! It's too hard! It's not worth it anymore! I just want to go home and crawl into bed and sleep for a week, or until the waiting is over!"

I can almost always see a silver lining, even when things are hard. Today all I see are flaws. There's a hole in my shirt, which means that my wardrobe is falling apart, and we have no money for me to replace my clothing, and getting dressed in the morning is hard enough as it is without having to worry about my choices decreasing. I just found out that there's a meeting in ten minutes that I wasn't invited to and am still expected to attend. I am so bored at work. I don't feel like I have the skills or abilities to make things better. My phone keeps ringing and it is always a wrong number, a mis-dial for a high traffic conference call line; it happens seven times a day on average.

I try to laugh. I would rather cry.

I don't want to live my life this way anymore and I don't know how to fix it. It is really hard not to shove some blame towards Donald, even though I know that it isn't his fault and blaming him doesn't help anything. So I end up angry with myself, a debilitating, why do I even try rage. I have been on a high horse, telling myself that I am better than other people so that I can mask my low self-esteem, telling myself that I can do anything I put my mind to so that I do not despair when I look around and see little success.

I need a hug. And probably a kick in the pants too.

I Need Advice

I have two questions for my blog readers:

(1) How do you get eyeshadow to stay put for longer than an hour? I have tried applying foundation first, I have tried different types of brushes to apply it, I have tried different brands. I LOVE eye makeup and I want to make it stay where I put it. Any suggestions?

(2) Donald and I have two cats. The older one is long-haired and seems to be unable to keep her rear clean. She is a tad overweight, so she might not be able to reach it. She reminds us of the situation every single day by scootching her butt on the carpet, creating lovely little poo paintings for us to enjoy.

I have gotten used to cleaning up after her, but it's a possible health risk for her and might be a sign of something else. I did some research online for suggestions. I saw the warnings that butt scootching might be a sign of worms. I saw suggestions to trim her fur so there's less for poo to stick to. I see the possible need to control her weight better by changing our feeding habits. But I want some more opinions. Please?

Dinners 1 and 2

We're on our own again and I've been in charge of cooking dinner. So far, so good. Almost all of my recipes will be coming from Real Simple Magazine.

On Tuesday night, we had hamburgers and Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon and Scallions. I made Pioneer Woman's favorite burger and Donald made his own. The burgers were really yummy. The zucchini salad had something lacking, I'm not sure what. It was very plain and simple, very quick and easy to make, and didn't have a lot of flavor. We each had a light beer with it. I'm not sure we'll do the zucchini again (there are better zucchini dishes out there, I'm sure); the burgers will always be a hit.

Last night, Wednesday night, we had Chicken Cutlets (part of this recipe) and caprese salad (tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and basil). The salad was made with tomatoes and basil from the garden and was exquisite. It is my favorite thing to eat in the whole wide world. The chicken was very quick and easy, and again, plain and without much flavor. We each had a glass of red wine with this meal. Donald and I agreed that we should definitely make it again on a quick dinner night, and that it would be great for kids and not company.

Tonight, the plan is to have Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Mushrooms. I haven't cooked fish before, so it might be an adventure. The weather is definitely turning into fall, so this seems like a hearty meal, perfect to kick off football season tonight!

Tomorrow night we'll probably have pasta with sausage and broccoli over it (I can't seem to find the recipe online right now). I'm making my mom's chili over the weekend. I need to find a few more recipes since we are on our own until Tuesday (I thought it was Sunday originally). Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Puzzle Pieces

I don't really have a cohesive point in my post today, so I'll share some thoughts and follow-ups from previous posts.

Thank you for the positive feedback on my last post. I, too, have come to the decision that blogging is different from evangelizing (and different from having a conversation). My blog needs to be my outlet for what I am thinking and feeling. It's why I started it and why I enjoy writing. So, onward I go!

Donald and I are on our own again, for nearly an entire week this time! I already made up dinner menus for five nights and Donald is going grocery shopping. I'll have to let you know how the recipes go. Most of them are dishes I have never made before.

I think I'm having a tough time coming up with something to write about this time because I'm somewhat emotionally drained. Donald and I went to a wedding over the weekend. The bride was the daughter of family friends; she and her sister and parents went on trips with Donald and his siblings and parents at least once a year. It was amazing to finally meet them after hearing many of the hilarious stories from their adventures together.

The ceremony was really beautiful. I cried before anyone even processed down the aisle, and continued to weep silently through the whole thing. I seem to be incapable of attending a wedding without getting tears in my eyes. I sit there, hanging on to Donald's hand or arm for dear life, my emotions rising and falling like a small boat on rough waves. The meaningfulness of marriage is overwhelming. I think that our struggles and triumphs in our own marriage give it an even greater impact when I witness a couple taking their first steps into their own adventure.

I feel especially emotional when those in attendance are charged with supporting the newly official couple through their married life. At our ceremony, a dear friend of ours gave the homily and asked us to face our friends and family who had gathered that day. She emphasized the fundamental need for a couple to have a supportive community and made sure that all of those in attendance knew that the survival of our marriage might depend on each and every one of them. The power of community was made clear.

One of the hardest things in marriage is figuring out how to support your spouse through difficult and personal things and, at the same time, how to support your marriage by asking for help. When the issues are especially personal, much like those Donald and I are struggling with now, it can feel like a betrayal to share what is going on with those around you, even with close friends and family. I have reached out through my blog, to people I do not know, people who did not witness the commitment Donald and I made to each other, for support during these difficult times. What prevents me from utilizing all of those wonderful people who were present the day of our wedding?

Do you ever feel like you're always supposed to have a positive face on your marriage in public? Do you feel like asking for help means that you have failed? Does admitting to difficulty have to come with shame?

Why do we hesitate to ask for help from the very people who are most likely to support us unconditionally? Why do we try to have a "perfect" marriage despite knowing that such a thing does not exist? Why do we insist on carrying on as though everything is fine when doing so might actually doom our relationship?

Too many relationships end because of a failure to acknowledge the truth. Frustrations are kept bottled up. The quality of the marriage is not assessed. Children become the ultimate distraction. We stop listening to ourselves. We stop listening to each other.

What would happen if we simply spoke the simple honest truth and trusted that we would still be accepted and supported? What are the costs if we do not?

Friday, September 4, 2009


I am proud of myself so far. I have almost removed "but" from my conversations and writing. I listen to myself more carefully now. I try to be present in every conversation. I am practicing things I value.

My biggest hurdle seems to be a very strong desire to be right. It comes out when I interject myself into someone else's story. It becomes obvious when I tell Donald a story full of judging others. It is impossible to ignore when I say or think that my purpose in life is to help other people improve.

How arrogant is that?

Donald made an important point to me yesterday. As I'm sure you have noticed, I reference a particular book and a particular author all the time. I gave copies to members of my family for Christmas. It shows up in many of my conversations. He asked me to consider for a moment how it would sound if I replaced the name of that book with The Bible and the name of that author with God. I screeched to a halt.

I never intended to evangelize. I hope that my posts have simply been a sounding board for my journey of self-discovery and that they have not come across as a mantra for living that everyone should follow. Preaching at people is never something I thought I would do, so if I have come across that way previously, it stops now.

No one likes to be told that what they are doing is wrong. No one likes to be made to feel inferior or less than equal. If I have made any of you feel that way, I apologize.

Donald encouraged me to focus on living my values rather than talking about my values. My personal success does not rely on changing someone else. It only depends on me. This does not mean that my "way" needs to be a secret. My way will only work for me, just as someone else's way will only work for them. Sharing my way would imply that someone else's is wrong. It's also incredibly self-centered. I do it this way. Me. Me. Me.

Despite the ugliness of arrogance, I struggle with the idea of not sharing. My journey has depended very much on learning from others, considering their way and deciding whether it would help me. I would never have found their stories or experiences if they had not shared them with the world. The point, perhaps, is that I sought out their knowledge and their experiences, they were not forced on me. No one made me consider their ideas, I chose to consider them. That choice makes all the difference.

Does this mean that we should only share our opinions when asked? Or that everyone who expresses a personal preference on Facebook or Twitter is trying to change me? Am I writing this blog as a form of self-aggrandizement?

I would agree that there are many people who use various forms of social media as a soap box to proclaim their beliefs in order to get other people to agree with them or to change their ways. I would also argue that our willingness to speak our minds in a public way creates a dynamic and potentially innovative dialogue about what we think in a very diverse and collective way. Those who resonate most with their readers are probably the ones who present their opinions or experiences in a way that makes the readers feel good and inspires them. It's really about the way in which the sharing is conveyed.

I would like to believe that many people share personal things in a public way because they want feedback, they want community, they want to consider many perspectives in order to enhance their individual journey. Maybe they want a little validation, to know that they are not alone in the universe, that even though everyone has their own way of living their lives, there are still shared experiences and voices of support out there.

Why do you write/share? What qualities attract you to someone else's writing? What qualities turn you off?

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Last night I wandered into the basement to stare at the boxes and furniture piled floor to ceiling. Boxes of our stuff. Pieces of our lives put away for sometime. It has been six months so far.

I want to unpack. I want to rediscover our wedding china, our eclectic library of books and movies and video games, our kitchen utensils, our photographs. I want to put things in their proper place. Control. Order. My identity is in there somewhere.

In the face of discovering more about myself I'm looking for something stable, something rooted, to remind me of who I am, who I have been. I am not trying to revert to a past life, just simply trying to remember how I have become me and what has been important to me along the way. Perhaps trying to find inspiration for what I might become next.

Did anyone notice that I mixed metaphors in a few of my last posts? I said that I needed to get off my high horse. I also said that I was back in the saddle. Hopefully the saddle I'm currently occupying is on a short horse. Or a dark horse. I like rooting for the underdog. Especially when they come from behind and surprise everyone. It's nice to be unpredictable once in a while.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Everything I do now will matter in the long run. Some things will matter more than others. Even the quality of the little things will prove my abilities and skills and I cannot afford to squander those opportunities.

My attitude about my job (and former jobs) has often degenerated into a very shortsighted view. I think it happens because I retreat into a "take each day one at a time" mentality, which can be incredibly helpful and which also encourages me to forget about the long-term implications of what I do each day.

I had a conversation with my boss today. I didn't have to tell him that I feel underutilized. He knows. He is aware of my potential and the fact that my current project is not as busy as he thought it would be. We talked about additional projects I can take on. It became abundantly clear to me that my boss is thinking about the long-term. He wants to connect me with projects that will be developing for years to come. He wants to groom me to be a key player in his future endeavors.

I was floored by my shortsightedness. I was also humbled by my underestimation of my boss. He is often away and I do not get the opportunity to meet with him very often. I should have had a little more faith in his awareness of my abilities and his interest in having me achieve my potential.

My motivation to improve my attitude is now boosted by the knowledge that I am appreciated and will soon be given opportunities to prove my worth and to grow as an individual. What amazing timing the universe has!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I think I have finally heard what Fierce Conversations is saying.

I just finished listening to Webinar: Transformational Idea #2 by Susan Scott. It was exactly what I needed to hear. It told me exactly how to be the kind of person who leaves a "positive emotional wake", the kind of person who can achieve the goals I have outlined for myself:

(1) View/treat everyone as my equal (no exceptions).
(2) Attitude is key.
(3) Invite/consider multiple perspectives with the goal of being influenced, NOT to influence others.
(4) Put the greater good first.
(5) Be present in every conversation, "prepared to be nowhere else".
(6) Speak the truth with good intent.
(7) It is not important to be right.
(8) Say less, listen more.
(all credit for the above goes to Susan Scott of http://www.fierceinc.com/)

As I listened, it dawned on me that my unhappiness with my past/current jobs is partially of my own doing. I had a terrible attitude. I strove to be right and I was closed to other perspectives. I was never present in the conversation. I thought only of myself. I did absolutely nothing to better my situation and I probably made it worse. I'm still doing it - placing blame, avoiding honesty, skimming through my interactions with my co-workers.

I have negatively affected my relationships when I talk and don't listen, when I speak only to be right, when I assume that someone else will benefit from what I say without being prepared to benefit from something they say. Many of my relationships are distant and impersonal because I do not engage people "on a deep level". Even my most important relationships have suffered from my one-sided conversations. How did I get so defensive and selfish?

I tend to be a private person with most people and quite open and free with the few people I grow to trust. I think I have allowed my private tendencies to prevent me from connecting with people. Engaging someone does not mean sharing personal details. It means being open, it means listening with no agenda and no internal dialogue. It means being present and respectful of someone I consider my equal.

It's time to get off my high horse.

I have the power to change my situation. I do not need to change other people. I need to change me. I said this in another post, but it hasn't been so clear until now. When I wrote it before, I was not focused on the goals above. It was a more wishy-washy, "I need to be a better person" sense. I know what I need to do now.

It's humbling to suddenly hear someone I admire telling me that I haven't actually been living the values I profess to have. Hopefully I heard the truth this time.

This is the beginning. My blog is a lot of talking, so if you comment, I promise I will listen. Please forgive me if I have previously cheapened our relationship. I invite you to join me in improving our relationship, "one conversation at a time".

Thank you, Susan.

My Choices

A quick walk, a box of hair dye, a mocha, and a call from Donald and I'm back in the saddle.

I chose to take unfulfilling jobs before. I can choose to make different choices next time.

I have learned how it feels to be in positions that do not challenge me, do not engage me, and do not make me a better person. I only fail if I knowingly let it happen again.

I worry that my job experience doesn't give me qualifications that will land a job I really want. I need to work harder to prove that I have the skills and abilities to do what I really want to do.

Donald reminded me that our next move will come with flexibility that we have never had before. Donald will be the one providing the main income and health insurance. We might need the money from my income too, but I can be more careful and picky about what I do next. My next steps do not have to include another temporary job. I do not have to sacrifice this time. Whatever I choose next does not have to be set aside for children. I will demand flexibility from myself and from my next endeavor. It will be meaningful. It will be fulfilling. It will be challenging.

Thank you, Donald, for being the best husband in the world, for picking me up and brushing me off, and putting me back in the saddle. Thank you for acknowledging that I have sacrificed my "career" for the past four years and for not letting me think that I have consequently damaged my future. We will get there, together. I love you.

Compromise and Fulfillment

I'm still thinking about what I want to do with my life. My last post about parenting and my role as a mom, individual, and spouse, has made me realize that my "career path" is not going to be typical. I can, therefore, make choices that someone pursuing a "normal career" might not make. I haven't figured out yet what this means.

I have worked in a human resources capacity enough to know that when hiring, a resume that has large gaps of unexplained time or that shows the person moving from one job to another frequently raises red flags. It does not necessarily prevent a good candidate from landing an interview, but especially for jobs that have hundreds of applicants, those kinds of things are often used to cull the group.

I had been worried about this somewhat. I haven't held any job for more than two years. Our choice for Donald to go back to school meant that I left one job and got another. I moved within that job to a different department. Then we moved in with his parents and I got another job. If he gets the position he interviewed for, we would move again. I don't know whether I would be able to keep my current job or not.

While this pattern can easily be explained and does not actually indicate a lack of loyalty on my part, on the surface, before anyone talks to me, I look like a flight risk. And I know that I have been dinged in previous interviews because I gushed about how wonderful it was to be a young, newly married woman. Assumptions were made about how quickly I'd get pregnant, take maternity leave, and then leave for good. The same thing happened when I happily shared my excitement about Donald's degree pursuit. It branded me as a two-year employee, no more no less. Both assumptions completely unfair, and if provable as the reasons I was rejected, illegal, but it didn't matter.

Every job I have had has taught me something valuable about myself. My first job (#1) out of graduate school taught me that I prefer to work with other people and not alone, that I like collaboration and a balance of quiet time. I also stretched my wings in creating policy and procedure there, even though it wasn't in my job description.

My next position (#2) was largely a nightmare. I worked for a very difficult person and for a year and a half, I functioned without a backbone, a very detrimental experience, but one that also taught me what I can survive and what I should never, ever tolerate again. I also realized that my health suffers when the way I spend my time is not in alignment with my values (a Susan Scott connection).

I transitioned from there to a much better environment (#3), which, while still not very challenging to my skills and abilities, gave me opportunities to grow that I had never had before. I was encouraged to get training, to hone my skills, to think about what I really wanted to do. I was engaged and supported. I had never felt this before. It showed me what could be and it helped me recover from the previous position.

And now I am here (#4). I am still not very challenged and I have quite a bit of down time to myself. I know that I am valued, but the nature of the position seems to be very laid back. I know that I am doing good work - the project I am connected to is very meaningful and worthwhile - and I also know that I am not doing enough. I am underutilized. I am not growing. I am not using my education and abilities to my potential. This is the third job in a row that has been this way.

I excuse myself by saying that jobs #2-4 were "temporary". I didn't work hard to find something that fit me or used my skills because jobs like that were either unavailable or because I figured that I could just take something easy since I was "only" going to be there for two years or less. I cut myself short. I tolerated job #2 for so long because I thought it was going to end soon. And then we didn't leave. So I looked desperately for something else and found #3, an improvement, but not enough of one. When it came time to look for #4 I was simply looking for an income and health insurance, something to tide us over while Donald continued his job search.

I have spent the last four years compromising.

My question for myself now is what I do whenever Donald's next career move takes us elsewhere. The plan I outlined in my last post has me working until we have a family. So do I get another "temporary" job? What if I get pregnant right away? What if it takes us years to conceive? What if I end up with a job I love and don't want to leave? What if I hate my job and it affects my health and my ability to have children?

Forty hours a week is a lot to sacrifice on something that has little meaning for me beyond a paycheck and health insurance. What if Donald's income isn't large enough right away and I have to work AND leave my child with someone else for the day? I already know that the job better be wonderful for me to have any satisfaction with that arrangement. None of the jobs I have had in the past would make the cut. And I have no idea what I am looking for or whether I would even be qualified for the position if I could find it.

My concerned thought pattern dumps me back into "maybe I'm just supposed to be a mom" and "maybe I'm not cut out for the workplace" and "maybe no job will ever be good enough for me".

How do I figure this out? How can I say that I want to fix things around me, to help people help themselves, when I haven't figured out how to help myself?

I'm apparently feeling a bit unhappy today. Sorry for the downer.