Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Everything is Changing

Autumn

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There have been and continue to be many changes in my world this month. Some are good, some are not, and some are really inconsequential in the long run.

Good:

  1. I am moving. In less than a week I will pick up my keys and move into my new apartment in North Seattle. This will cut my commute by two-thirds in the morning and at least three-quarters in the afternoon. In addition, I will actually be able to fit in all my belongings again. I miss my stuff.
  2. New school year. I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s really a different year. I celebrated me one year anniversary with Seattle Public Schools this week and it’s amazing what a better place I am in. In addition to being elected to our Building Leadership Team, I have a student teacher and my colleagues often come to me for advice, which is a new position for me.
  3. Fall! Like Amanda, I love fall and everything that goes with it. Well, except those pesky allergies to decaying leaves. At least that’s not so bad in the Evergreen State!

Bad:

  1. Stress. My job is a bit more stressful this year because I have more classes to teach. Last year I taught three different subjects. This year I have five and the additional prep time is both causing a lot more work and cutting into the time and can work on the piles of paperwork that goes along with being a special education teacher. Hopefully, this will get better once I get through October and my first three IEPs.
  2.  Weight. I’ve stopped losing weight. I’m not gaining it either, so that’s a plus. However, with my schedule right now, I’m barely getting exercise time in and my diet is a bit wonky. I’m hoping that’ll even out once the move is done.

Inconsequential:

  1. Facebook’s new layout. Yes it’s annoying. Yes it’s confusing. If you don’t like it, go to Google+ Not on Google+? Click here for your very own invite. I’m tired of my feed having nothing but complaints in it for the first week of a new layout.
  2. Netflix/Quickster. I’ve been a devout Netflix fan since 2005. I do admit that their recent change to two services – one for DVDs and one for streaming – has me questioning if I really need both. But, in the long run, not an issue of earth-shattering proportions.
  3. My birthday. I’m entering my mid-30s this weekend and it’s a little odd. But, not really a big deal.

Change, overall, is good. I get bored easily, so I know I’m glad that things change constantly. It’s just important, sometimes, to put it all in perspective.

It’s time for another Our View From Here book club. This time, we’ll be reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Check it out next week when we discuss what we thought of the book and feel free to comment on our posts about what you thought about it!

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“Vacation, Had to Get Away!”

As you read this I am finishing up what I am sure was a fabulous long weekend slash min-vacation. The last thing on my pre-vacation to do list. This is one of those things I always find amusing. The pre-vacation/trip/getaway “To Do”. The time away itself is usually very relaxing but the preparations leading up to it always feel so stressful. Maybe its just me…but I don’t think so and for some reason I feel like its more stressful for women.

There’s the packing itself. Making sure you have the proper clothes and footwear for whatever you may do. All the appropriate grooming necessities (crap I forgot to pack a comb…). Any books or music to pass the time. Proper linens. etc. etc. My male friends are always perplexed about why it takes so long to pack or why there’s so much stress involved with packing. It just is, and I over think things anyway, so it really is a stressful activity. i swear they just throw some things in a bag and it all works out. If I did that I’d be missing something vital, like pajamas, or deodorant, or a toothbrush (Sadly all examples from real life experience).

Then there is making sure everything at home is taken care of. The mail is stopped, dishes are done, random cleaning that should happen, bills that may come due are paid, etc, etc…again.

On top of this there is usually one or two things needed for the trip that you don’t have. It’s inevitable. I don’t know how but there is always something. Of course this means last minute shopping.

I had a co-worker on vacation this week and she was stressed all the week before getting things ready. She was going camping with her family. She had to make sure the camper was prepared, her sons packed all of their things. She needed to pack and get the food for the trip, etc, etc….do you see the trend here?

There was one point tonight where I went I almost just want to stay at my apartment but there is a reason to endure all this added stress. It’s completely worth it. It’s nice to get away and escape the everyday life. Relax somewhere new or someplace you go all the time that’s just a quiet place away from home. After the crazy few months I’ve had I can really use the break. I can’t wait, stressed out packing and all (I better go stow that comb before I forget again). *Sigh* I can already picture my feet up and the cold beer in my hand.

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Murphy, I Shake my Fist at You…and Your Dumb Law!

What a week. Let me start by explaining that the end goal is for Darren and I to get down to North Carolina to do our first real dive trip. Unfortunately, the powers that be seem to be trying to conspire against my achieving that goal.

To start with, since we’ve never dove from a boat, we thought it would be a good idea to go out on Sunday and get some experience so we would be a bit more prepared. Makes sense, right? I have a tendency to get seasick so I tried a different kind of anti-seasick medicine the dive shop recommended. They suggested I take one pill the night before and one pill the morning of. I was asleep within 20 minutes of taking the first pill (which is rare for me) and slept for 11 hours. Darren practically had to coax me out of bed with the promise of a cup of coffee. Once I took the second pill I was so doped up I felt like I had been drinking all morning. We got on the boat and to our dive location but I didn’t feel safe diving because I was so out of it. There goes our great plan for getting some experience. Well, I guess I got a different kind of experience, which was useful in its own right. On Monday I called the shop and the owner recommend I get to the doctor ASAP to get a prescription for an anti-seasick patch. By some miracle, I was able to get an appointment for the following morning, but it meant I had to miss about 2.5 hours of work.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big problem but I had a huge deadline at work this week, in addition to a lot of other projects that seemed to have been dumped on me. One of my clients was applying for a government grant and although I requested the application a week ago, I only received it on Monday afternoon for a Wednesday evening deadline. The log in process alone took me a few hours to get situated and then there were a few more hours of back and forth between myself and the client to get everything squared away. Fortunately, I was able to submit the grant application without any (major) problems by the deadline, but it was a very stressing situation. Now I’ve been trying to pick up the pieces on everything else that had to slide while I was getting that taken care of, and of course, none of these things are simple or straightforward. We’ve also had a few minor catastrophes and we’re short-staffed this week. It’s been fun.

On the home-front, I’m operating solo this week. A relative of Darren’s is ill and in the hospital in Upstate NY, so he’s been up there for a few days visiting and supporting the rest of the family. Of course I don’t begrudge him of this but when we were planning on getting ready for the trip together and all of a sudden it’s up to me to get everything ready, it throws previously made plans into a bit of a tailspin. If it was just the trip, it wouldn’t be a huge deal, but starting the day we get back we’ll be having various houseguests for the next 3 weeks, which means I have to get the house in guest-ready shape. And it’s been anything but guest-ready for the past several weeks. I know they probably wouldn’t care much walking into a bit of a mess but I do. And while I said I don’t begrudge Darren for being with family at this time, I think I can legitimately begrudge him for not doing laundry for the past 3 weeks, which means I’ve spent most of my nights doing laundry so he has something to wear in NC. Alas.

Add all this to a few other things I was hoping to take care of this week and I’m coming out to be one stressed chica. Of course one aspect of my life can’t be crazy while the others are calm. If work was lighter, I could take a lunch break and run out and take care of some of the errands I need to do when I get home, and taking time off to go to the doctor wouldn’t have been a big deal. No, no. Murphy had other plans. Stupid Murphy. Ah well. Everything will get done because there’s no option for them not to get done, and I’m sure it will all be worth it. Hopefully by next time this week I’ll be wistfully remembering my vacation of sharks and shipwrecks. I just have to get there first.

I’m stealing Christine’s tactic of adding an apropos music selection at the end of the post…..I forgot how weird this video was.

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The finish line…keeps moving

I finished.  I crossed the finish line and walked away breathless with my victory.  In a race I run every year, a race against myself and my generous intentions, I usually emerge victorious. 

This is the race of Christmas knitting. 

Every year in (roughly) August, I make a list (much like another “Nick”) of friends and family upon whom I will inflict bestow knitted items as a holiday gift.  The list is invariably ambitiously long and filled with complex and time-consuming projects.  In my defense, I tend to begin the projects immediately after jotting down the list.  This year, socks, scarves and hats have dropped quickly from my needles.  There were moments recently when the end seemed far away, and then, all of a sudden, I found myself last week, finishing my final Christmas project. 

Two weeks early!  Absolutely unprecedented.  This year is going down in the annals of holiday knitting victories.  When they tell of it to future generations of knitters who will marvel at the tale of one woman’s trials and tribulations, her unflinching dedication in the face of nearly insurmountable obstacles, and her ultimate triumph.  There won’t be a dry eye in the house.

This is not to say that I have tamed this particular beast every year.  There was the year that my father received the meticulously wrapped front of a sweater (no sleeves, no back: for all intents and purposes, an apron), which, in my defense was finished and in his hands by July the following year.  There was also the year that my sister got a ball of yarn, to be turned into a scarf or something.  You see, even though I had failed, I didn’t want my loved ones to feel that I hadn’t thought of them.  In retrospect, the message they probably received was more along the lines of, “I love you, but not enough to set aside an appropriate amount of time in which to complete a gift,”  or, “sorry, I had a party to go to.”

But I stand before you today having accomplished the goals I set for myself this year.  Also, I stand before you with a list of three more projects I might be able to squeeze in before the holiday.

After all, it’s no fun if you aren’t sweating it out just a little.

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Stress v. Body – Guess Who Wins?

I deal with stress pretty well.  I have a fairly stressful job, yet most of the time, I don’t get to wound about about things.  Yeah, I’m currently in the middle of a double course of anti-biotics because I got another sinus infection, likely due to a new work situation, but heck, I get sinus infections even if I’m not stressed!

However, there was a time where I experienced more stress that I ever have in my life and my body reacted in several ways to that stress.  It was back in 1999 when my parents divorced. I opted to live at home through my junior year of college to save on money, so as my parents marriage was falling apart, I was witness to everything.  I took on a lot of responsibility in addition to 18 credits at school and I was having a hard time managing it all. In fact, the only class I failed in college was that semester and several other grades were much lower than usual. I was trying to be strong for my mom and my still-in-high-school sister, but it was at my own expense.

First of all, I started withdrawing from people. My mom actually made me go out to a New Years’ Eve party because she knew that I was just going to hole up in my house and be depressed.  It was the only semester that I was not involved in some theatre show.  Most of my friends barely saw me outside of classes and major events. This actually made my depression and stress worse since I didn’t have many people to vent to.

The next thing I noticed was rapid weight gain. Up to this point, I never really had to worry about my weight. I wasn’t super skinny, but I was healthy.  Within a year, I gained almost 30 pounds.  I went from a size 4/6 to a size 10.   I had to buy all new clothes on a very limited budget.  My self image was in the toilet, again stressing me out even more.

Alopecia areata.

Image via Wikipedia

The third thing was hair loss.  I experiences what is called Alopecia Areata, an auto-immune disorder that causes your immune system to start attacking your own hair follicles, causing it to fall out in clumps.  I first noticed a dime sized bald spot on the back of my head. I went to the dermatologist, who prescribed a cortisone gel that helped it grow back, but not before it grew larger than a quarter.  It did grow back in, but the first quarter inch or so was nearly white and super fine.  I had to trim it as soon as it was long enough so it didn’t show through my much darker hair. Alopecia is uncurable, and I have had reoccurrences over the past 11 years, the most recent was a small spot last spring. It’s growing back in now, but it’s still really devastating when I have to deal with it, and when I have to explain to my hairstylist what has happened.

After all these issues, my doctor tested me for thyroid problems.  An underactive thyroid can be caused by stress and can cause weight gain and/or hair loss.  After numerous blood tests, they decided that my thyroid “fell within the normal range.”  The stress eventually decreased, but I am still battling my weight, unable to get all of it off, and still dealing with occasional bald spots.

So maybe that’s why I don’t let the little things get to me. I have stressful days, but I’ve gotten really good at dealing with it. I call up a friend and chat, I go out with people, or I’ll go run it off on the treadmill.  It’s a heck of a lot better than weight gain and hair loss!

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Stress Beneath the Surface

In my day to day life right now I have very little stress on the surface. We’ve gotten insanely slow at work so there’s a lot of down time. There’s so little of it, I don’ t remember how I deal with it.

When it comes to the surface stress of the everyday I do my best to roll with it. Insanity at work. I work through each problem as it comes. Take deep breaths and get through it. Stress at home. I’ll attempt to address the problem or take a weekend away to just have an escape. Stress while driving…ok I don’t handle that well. I scream and yell and drop expletives that are rarely heard in my everyday conversations. (Honestly, if you are driving a red sports car you should be able to beat the *&#%^  semi-truck away from the light! Little Mazda from this morning I’m talking to you!! BAH!) I suffer from road rage, especially in the morning. I’m working on it.

Then I realized, I’m insanely stressed right now. I’m just choosing to ignore the problem and push the stress down deep (that explains the random heartburn that’s been popping up). Every so often it’ll escape (like an exhaust valve or something). I’ll be driving along or sitting at home and get an over-whelming feeling of anxiety and panic. It’s my brain reminding me that everything is not hunky dory right now. And that my “plan” isn’t exactly a plan in the solution finding sense. It’s more of a jumping of point.

I’m nearing my un-employment . Three more weeks and I will be out of a job. I’ve passively been looking for work hoping something perfect would just appear. I have people regularly ask what I’m going to do . (After I have a mini-breakdown in my head and go “I HAVE NO IDEA!”) I give my current “plan” of moving somewhere far away. I just need to find a job there. This puts me at ease for short amounts of time and prevents too many other probing questions. This doesn’t help me line up work or the new year.

When I really sit and let the reality sink in, I’m terrified.  How on earth am I supposed to land a job in somewhere far away when I don’t live in somewhere far away?! If I find something in somewhere far away I’ll need to move all my things post-haste none of which are packed in any way. I need to start packing so I can move at moments notice! Eeep! How am I going to find an apartment in somewhere far away from far away?  What the heck am I supposed to do with my life?

As you can see, the longer I sit and think about the situation the worse the anxiety gets. So I push it away into my gut resulting in the random fits of heartburn. When it comes to big problems like this the procrastinator in me takes over. I’ll put off dealing with it until I absolutely have to. This is really not the wisest or healthiest approach to this or any other problem but that thinking doesn’t seem to be changing what I’m doing. I tell myself I will find something; that my industry always slows down this time of year so there will be a slew of places looking to hire by the end of January. When my logic center kicks in I know this is wishful thinking and me trying to placate my anxiety. I haven’t NEEDED to hunt for a job since college. I wanted a new job a year or so ago but I was never to a point where my livelihood depended on it and I HAD to find one.

The fortunate thing is that this deep underlying stress will go away. Once I find a job and sort through the inevitable relocation. Then a new variety of stress will kick in with being somewhere new. Hopefully, I will be able to treat that like my everyday work type stress and roll with it. Until that point, I will have to travel with my antacid tablets and try to be more active with my job hunt. Ugh…where are those Tums?

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Stress Case

I’m not very good at sublimating my stress.  I will usually sit on it until it explodes in some dangerous or terrifying way.  There are lots of things that stress me out and only a very few that actually relieve and release that stress. 

One thing that takes me out of my own head and away from the troubles of being human is being with friends.  Having dinner, or drinks, or just talking on the phone can make me feel miles better, yet, I’m sometimes reluctant to reach out to them for that comfort. 

The holidays are built (at least in my house) around making time for family and friends.  So, I should have little to no stress in my life now, yes?  Nope.  Less time, less money and more seas of humanity (all also short of money and time) than usual provides a perfect storm of stress. 

Stress breeds.  When it meets more stress, it multiplies, especially the stress of strangers.  Stress is kind of a slut.  But, stress can also kills itself as an act of selflessness.  When it meets the stress of loved ones, it can go away to give you the opportunity to be with someone else and help take care of their problem. 

In closing this all-over-the-place post, I’ll first apologize for its lack of central theme or clear structure. Then I’d like to explain by saying that I’m a bit stressed out right now.

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“They call me mellow yellow…”

We’re supposed to be talking about stress this week – how we manage it, how we experience it, etc. Since high school, I’ve been very active in a number of activities – school, theater, band, volunteering, traveling, work, hobbies. I’m usually doing something. With a schedule like mine, I’m no stranger to stress.

BUT…

I had a bunch of friends over this weekend for a little winter soiree. My house is all sparkly clean, I ate lots of good food, have a plethora of baked goods in the house, and saw some of my most favorite people in the world. Sunday, after everyone went home, I did nothing but watch movies. It was a good weekend. Today, I had a good day at work, did my Pilates, ate some dinner, and saw pictures of my husband’s cousin’s brand new baby. I am about to go have some wine and pie. Tomorrow, or I guess today as you read this, I’m working from home. I am incredibly, super, totally and completely mellow.

I tried to write about stress. I was thinking I’d talk about how I deal with stress, which I like to think I do fairly well. I started this post several times. I tried composing it on my way home from work, but all I succeeded in doing was boring myself.

So, rather than boring you (any further?) I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. Though to try to bring in some kind of poignant observation or thought of greater significance, I guess I could argue I have discovered the key to managing stress – good friends, good food, being productive at work, exercise, baby pictures and wine. And pie. I think pie is key.

Image from Google images

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