Things to ponder

I roused at 3 AM this morning, looked at the bedside clock, and noticed the alarm wasn’t set. I then completely woke up and frantically searched my brain for today’s schedule: did I have a call with India this AM? At what wake up time do I need to set the alarm? Thank goodness I hadn’t overslept and had time to remedy this mistake…then I realized that today is a holiday and I don’t have to work.

It’s not as if I’ve had a crazy work schedule lately, but the switch back to Standard Time and our project load have made my mornings a bit of a challenge. What used to be twice weekly calls with the India team at 7 or 7:30 AM has now transitioned into more like 3 times a week at 6:30 AM. After the calls are over, I usually have to dash off to catch a train to the office and get on with the rest of my work day.

My whole morning schedule has to shift to an earlier start time which is a really hard for me during these days where daylight is a precious resource. I hate getting up in the dark. While some people don’t like leaving work when it is dark, I don’t mind that so much. But heaving myself out of bed well before the sunrise is just not something I find pleasant. At least we haven’t had to also deal with the really cold weather yet.

We’ve had a relatively warm fall so far and I’ve seen a few insects around on some of our warmer days: bees, gnats, etc. I still have broccoli flowering in the garden and it provides a nice touch of color in what is an otherwise drab palette outside. By now the flaming color of the leaves has dulled to russets and browns, and the sky is more often overcast and gray. It’s time to work on indoor projects and plan for next year. Last weekend I got my first garden catalog, in fact, and I just received another one in the mail 2 days ago.

I’ve been diligently working away on some knitting projects, but I think my main “indoor project” these days has been dating. I’ve been out with 4 different guys now and have been learning a lot from the experience. With the exception of that first date where I went against my better judgment and met him in a bar, I’ve arranged first dates in the day-time for lunch, coffee/tea, and once for a walk along the lake. I’ve met interesting people and had some good conversations, so I consider the dating experiment a success so far. And I’ve been out several more times with one of these guys. Now I wonder what to do next: keep setting up first dates so I can continue meeting new people and “exercising my options”, or stop meeting new guys and just concentrate on getting to know the one guy better?

Considering that my experience in dating has been so limited, I think I’m doing pretty well, but I also have to figure this part out. I was talking with Rachael about it last night and she asked me: what’s your goal? Hmmm…what is my goal, indeed. I’m not really sure. I know I want to have someone in my life: someone I enjoy being with, sharing common experiences and interests with, learning more about a new person and his life. Other than that, I really have no other goal at this time. I’m not looking to get married again or expecting that I’ll be swept off my feet and whisked away to a fantasy life.

For now, I’m enjoying my time with B and I’m thinking that should be enough. So I shall be thankful for this today, along with all the other good things in my life: supportive family members and friends; a good job/career and colleagues; a warm, comfortable home that I own; my garden; animal companionship; and the ability to afford some pleasant diversions.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Productive and the reverse

Is the opposite of productivity non-productivity? It doesn’t really roll off the tongue. I mean, saying “What a non-productive [fill in the blank…day, meeting, etc.]” is something that sounds sensible, but I haven’t heard lack of productivity referred to as non-productivity; I guess it’s just “lack of productivity.”

Anyway, I’ve been staggering back and forth between these extremes lately, so it seems. First, I’ll tackle the virtuous, productive stuff. I have single-handedly accomplished leaf relocation this year. Well, technically there is still a pile on the patio to be strategically piled on the garden beds, but the leaves on the lawn, driveway, and in the gangway have been cleared up. In the past I was usually able to cajole Mark into helping me, but this year I was on my own. And I did it. Hooray for me!

I’ve accomplished the major garden winterizing tasks, too. I left the broccoli plants in the beds because they are still producing shoots, flowers and leaves. It was amazing to see how the bees were all over the broccoli flowers a few weeks ago. I guess that’s because there was nothing else flowering and they were trying to gather up the last bits of pollen and nectar for their own purposes. I haven’t really been eating the broccoli shoots myself, but the chickens love the leaves and the flowers. This late in the year it’s great to have something green to give them from the garden.

Other than the broccoli bed, though, the rest of the beds are cleared and covered in leaves. I even found time to (finally!) plant the garlic last weekend.

In addition to the broccoli plants, there are some edibles coming out of the garden. I have mint and parsley, which make lovely fresh teas and/or additions to cooking and salads. (My favorite legume, chick peas, dressed with a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and then tossed with some chopped parsley and cubed sheep’s milk feta is a YUMMY salad.) And the chickens are back to laying fairly regularly. I get an egg every couple days, and sometimes 2 eggs. This is the best that can be expected when the days are so short and they’re molting.

Let’s see, what else am I doing that’s productive? Oh, I have been exploring meditation, but I should write a special post about that since it’s been an interesting journey. I’ve gotten my gym schedule back in place: 3 days a week or 4 if I can fit it in.

Despite all this busy work accomplished, I had been feeling lost and rudderless at work, and generally a bit blue. The lack of productivity at work was making me feel guilty, and I was just not sure what to do. Then, in just a few days it all started to turn around.

The chemistry of our bodies is such an interesting and strange phenomenon to figure out at times. And it appears that at least part of what I was experiencing was due to non-optimal thyroid meds.

Since late August I’ve been forced to play with my meds quite a bit. I started to experience the recurrence of some symptoms that I know were due to poor thyroid levels. My joints were started to ache a bit more and I was starting to feel more easily fatigued. I talked to the doctor and we adjusted my meds a bit. Unfortunately, I immediately ran smack dab into the fact that most dosages of Armour Thyroid (the brand of natural, dessicated thyroid or NDT I was taking) was hard to get a hold of. (No one is exactly sure of what the hell has been going on with the company that makes it, and they’re not saying.) I started on the new dosage with the Armour I had on hand, but that was running out quickly.

My only choice seemed to be to switch to a comparable product called Westhroid made by another company. I started on the Westhroid in early September and continued to take it through late October, at which point I had to make a decision about whether I should ask my pharmacy to special order it for me again, or move to another option.

At the time I started the Westhroid, the nurse at my doctor’s office suggested I just *may* consider changing to a compounding pharmacy to have my meds made up for me. I was starting to suspect that the Westhroid wasn’t the best option for me and so I called the nurse to get a compounding pharmacy recommendation and give it a try.

Even though I had about a month’s worth of Westhroid left I started taking the compounded NDT shortly after it arrived at my house via the mail. Being on it a few days was all the convincing I need that this was the right decision for me and that the Westhroid definitely was not an optimal med for me.

My energy levels are back up again, my mood is much improved, and I even have adequate enthusiasm for work again. I still have some work to do in figuring out how to make my job more engaging for me, but I no longer feel like just a blob occupying a chair anymore. I have interest and a willingness to action things again. And my improved mood is helping me not just at work, but throughout my life.

A couple years ago when I first started having issues with my body’s use of thyroid I learned that I really needed to pay attention to what my body is telling me. And this latest experience seals the deal.

Being honest

I had a date last night. It was a very interesting experience: exciting, sickeningly scary, and disconcerting. I was certainly off balance a bit, but I think I conducted myself fairly well and the other person didn’t leave abruptly.

This wasn’t my first date since the divorce, but it was still sort of significant for me because I was trying something that I was somewhat reluctant to do. I can hear Adrienne in my head now telling me I don’t have to date if I don’t want to, but…I sort of do. Because the reasons I haven’t been dating lately are based on stories I tell myself that — while they may be based on reality — aren’t truthful.

I tell myself that I am not good at choosing men, but that’s not true. If I really listen to my instincts, I’m very good at determining who to keep seeing and who to walk away from. (And I have someone backing me up on this, my therapist, who has gotten to know me pretty well in the past 12 years.) I just have to tune in to myself, hence the emphasis I’m placing lately on things like meditation.

I also have a tendency to fixate on men at times. I make up little fantasies in my head that account for why things may not be working out, all the while desperately ignoring any signals that may be leading to a conclusion that is not what I want. Since I’ve been teetering on what may or may not be a fixation on my part, I wanted to shake myself out of the pattern and do something productive.

In this case, dating is productive because it leads me away from sitting at home (figuratively) wringing my hands and (literally) crying about how lonely I feel. It challenges me to be true to my convictions and be honest with myself and those around me, and to not let the loneliness either paralyze me or lead me to ignore my instincts.

Then today during a little lunch time blog reading, I see the latest post from Penelope Trunk. And I’m completely undone. I start to cry, right here at my desk. And I start to think, too: what do I want?

The answer to this question worked it’s way out like this: to be more child-like >> to be less hard >>to be more vulnerable >> to be more *comfortable* being vulnerable. 

Every time I find myself letting out vulnerable feelings, I feel really scared. My mom was a basket case when I was growing up and that affected me deeply. Mostly when I find myself being really vulnerable and needing reassurance and comfort, I stop myself because I know how overwhelming it was for me to experience this in my mother. I don’t want to be that overwhelming person, so I mostly ignore the feelings and stuff them down when they spill out. 

But I was just a child back then, so of course I didn’t know how to deal with someone who was supposed to be taking care of me falling apart in front of me. I no longer have to think that anytime I feel vulnerable and needy I am doing something that others will run away from as fast as possible (as I saw my dad do in a figurative way), or that I will be an emotionally-stunting burden (as the situation was to me and my sister).

This is also why I so often think that I want to be back at Esalen, too. There it was OK to be soft and vulnerable because no one was going to walk away — in disgust, horror, or overwhelm. You were much more likely to get a hug or have your hand held if you expressed upset in any way. So I could walk around and just be…me. Me in all my nakedness and vulnerability and child-like humor and fascination/love with the nature surrounding me. It was like being drunk on reality and I miss it so, so much.

I’ve been trying to cultivate that ability to be honest, open, and vulnerable since I’ve been back and it’s been hard to keep it going in this very different atmosphere. But if I can’t be totally open and vulnerable, at least I can try to be honest in my communications and interactions with others. Even if it means they will think I’m odd or weird I can keep trying.

Even before I read the Penelope Trunk post I had written an email I want to send to my date from last night. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m finding that my thoughts about dating are different now than they were when I was younger/before I got married. I was used to the flirty and light conversational style of dating, and now I’m thinking that as much as I like having conversations that make me laugh, I’m more likely to find the ridiculousness of life the most funny subject matter to discuss. I guess I’d characterize this as more — dare I say it — Seinfield-esque than burlesque. Frankly, flirtiness is something that I can only keep up for a short time before I get exhausted.

If women could be said to “think with their dicks” like men are accused of, then I can say I’ve done enough of that. And when I have found myself in such situations, I’ve usually regretted it later. I don’t mean that I suffer guilt over sex, I mean that I usually end up realizing that I was focusing more on orgasms and physical pleasure than on spending that precious resource, time, with someone who engages my mind as much as my body. That’s why I was clear that I’m not out to just get laid. 

This is me being honest, and living my life like I did at Esalen, which is more along the lines of what I ultimately want.

As Penelope sums it up “…part of coping with adult life is allowing yourself to want something even if you are not sure you’ll get it…The trick is to admit what we want, even if we are scared we won’t get it. We can only be who we are. And if we are disappointed, later on, well. I guess that’s just part of being a grown up and knowing what we want.”

What I really want is to be that honest, vulnerable person I could so comfortably be at Esalen, and to eventually have someone at my side who feels the same way.

Summing it up

It’s the end of the month already. And it’s a significant end, too. First, it’s Halloween (yippee!!!), and second, tomorrow we all magically get one more hour of sleep as we turn our clocks back to Standard Time (double yippee!!!) Of course, in the animal world of chickens and dogs where clocks don’t measure time, they will still wake up at daybreak no matter what. But I think I still get some extra sack time.

How am I feeling? Better, and thanks for asking. (Yes, I’m holding an imaginary conversation here. What’s wrong with that!?) I’m past the raging hormone stage and safely on the other side, which helps my mood quite a bit. Still, when I came home tonight to a house inhabited only by dogs I wasn’t very happy. Of course the evening was sort of a let-down, too.

Several months ago I joined a Meet Up group called Fun Chicago Singles. There are all sorts of events offered through this group that are voluntarily organized by members of the group. There have been several events that have looked interesting, but I wasn’t able to attend due to previous commitments or bad timing. But there was a fun looking event planned for tonight that I was looking forward to. The program promised ghost story-telling and music at a local Irish-themed pub. For me this was great: stories, music, and Guinness. What’s not to love?

Rachael, Jamie and I got there early as suggested so we could secure a (free) ticket to the story-telling. (At Rachael’s suggestion I wore a clever costume. I dressed in black from head to toe then hung an envelope around my neck: blackmail. Get it? My roommates thought it was funny, at least.) There was a bit of confusion about the organization, but we got our tickets and secured a table so we could have dinner first. The service was friendly but very slow. By the time we finished our dinner and paid the check, it was past time for the program to start. We had to change rooms for the program and when we got there it was overfull. All the seats and tables were filled; the room was much too crowded for me, and I just turned around and left.

A mediocre dinner, and no stories tonight sort of bummed me out. Plus this was a singles event where I expected to meet other singles and really didn’t. Well, at least I got to enjoy time with my friends tonight, right?

Shortly after I got home roomie 2 came back to the house after venturing out to get some groceries. He decided to stay in tonight and even rented some movies to watch and offered to share them with me. This helps me feel not so lonely tonight.

And I’ve got some other options opening up. I took the plunge and joined Match.com a few nights ago and am wading through what Erica calls “man spam.” What exactly is a “wink” anyway? And why do men “wink” at me from places like Wyoming and New Jersey? I think they’re just looking for titillating chat sessions, and frankly they will be sorely disappointed.

I feel like I’m walking a fine line these days. While I’m not wanting to make mistakes due to my desire to just be around people, it’s equally bad for me to not do anything at all. I want to make sure that I don’t fixate on someone or some situation that is not going anywhere or is not healthy for me. I’m thinking that keeping a complete dating moratorium is not something I should keep up for long, so I’m getting to be highly selective instead.

I’m also going to attend that meditation open house tomorrow morning so I can get free instruction and perhaps gauge what the place is like. They have a weekend workshop coming up and I may want to attend if the place feels right. I successfully sat for about 6 minutes the other night. It doesn’t sound like long, does it? The first minute or two was tough; I wanted to give up right away. But gradually I relaxed into it and was a bit startled when the alarm went off. (Time up already?)

Overall, I think I’m doing pretty good these days. Let’s see what November has to offer, shall we?