Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The journey

I can be an impatient person. Particularly when hungry or sleep deprived. If you've ever had the joy of seeing me as either, I offer an apology and flowers. Or vodka.

I like being able to get things done the moment I think of them. When we first moved into our house, I nearly went out of my mind because I wanted to do all the things all at once. Now I know that letting things simmer is better; I found new uses for old items, radically shifted ideas and even got rid of stuff before I started to decorate areas in the house.

It's hard when it becomes more personal. My biological "clock" went off at 20. I have always loved kids, even when holding one 4 month old and he threw up on me. Eh, clothes/bodies wash. And as soon as we got married, we got the questions. And now that we are approaching our five year wedding anniversary, the questions have intensified. I don't mind them anymore, people like big events/new tiny things to hold/etc. (Disclaimer, I do mind when my FIL asks when I'm presenting him with a grandson. Like my uterus can be programmed to spit out the correct gender in his arms. But that's a whole other story.)

And yet.

We were planning on trying this year. But the money gods are not playing nicely. To be honest, I'm still paying off debt, we have projects lined up for the house and I want a healthy savings account before I embark on maternity leave (which since it is unpaid WHOLE OTHER ISSUE HOW THE FUCK IS THE US ONE OF THE ONLY COUNTRIES THAT DOES NOT HAVE PAID LEAVE).

Ahem.

I'm sad that we may not be able to try this year. I'm sad that my plans aren't lining up like I want them to. I'm sad that a recession greatly fucked us for awhile. I'm sad when I see a baby announcement and I know we aren't there yet. And on the flip side, I'm relieved. Relieved that I get to go home and nap for two hours if I so choose. Have a box of mini brownies for dinner while Netflixing. Relieved that I'm not terrified for a while. I'm excited to be a mother, but absolutely ready to crap my pants terrified too. What if I damage the kid? What if I realize I don't want to be a mother and can't return the thing? What if my marriage can't survive it?

And then Lara Casey tapped into my brain:

How many of you have ideas about your goals as we’ve gone through this series and you are already overwhelmed or anxious about HOW to make them happen? You want all of your goals to have been tackled yesterday. This series is an exercise in patience and doing things little by little to produce lasting results. If you are feeling overwhelmed, we’re about to dive into some clear waters as we set goals that have meaning. Because, you know what? The journey to making those things happen is where the good stuff lives.

I keep repeating that. The destination is nice, but the quality of the journey matters too. I was in therapy for nearly four years. It sucked so much, the slogging through all of the crap that needed to be dealt with. But now, having finished that journey, I maintain that is the best present I've ever bought myself, bar none. I healed, my relationships got 10000% better and I'm not crippled by anxiety attacks as I once was.

This is about progress, not perfection. I know you overachievers want to have done everything yesterday, but I have also been reading every single comment on this series. Taking this step by step is helping many of you make remarkable discoveries! I’m so pumped by all the lightbulbs I see going off! Little by little, babies grow. Can you imagine if we got pregnant and the next day have birth to toddlers?? We wouldn’t be ready and we would have missed so much sweetness. It is the same with our goals. They matter enough to make them happen well.

It's hard to accept the waiting, the journey. But it's worth it.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Snippets: Oh, look snow.

We're supposed to get a lot of snow tonight.

Snow was a lot more fun when I was a kid.

Fucking horrifying

Truncated version: drugged at a party, abducted to a motel, wakes up during unwanted sexual violation in a motel room full of strangers, fights like hell to escape, motel employee calls the authorities, she gets arrested for destroying motel property and it just gets worst from there.

#FreeAmir

I love cats sometimes

Still Waiting

What a damn shock

Go read this

John Cummings spent 16 years turning an old plantation in Louisiana into a slavery memorial. This year, the Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 262 year history, as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery.

Yup! God forbid we have meaningful conversations about race on any other day.

*headdesk*

Yes.

Ugh I once got the dirtiest glare from a man who kept trying to shove my knee over with his legs. On a Metro seat where there was plenty of room.

"Stop playing the race card...?" Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight





LOVE THIS I'm the biggest sucker for baby announcements.







A pastor in Seoul, South Korea has created a “baby box” for people so that people who would otherwise abandon or kill their newborns can leave them somewhere safe instead. The box has a light, a towel lining, and a bell rings as soon as a baby is placed in it so the pastor, his wife, or one of his staff can come and get it right away.
But it's totally alright for white people to carry

According to the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office, 62-year-old Clarence Daniels was entering Walmart with his legally concealed firearm to buy coffee creamer on Tuesday when he was spotted by 43-year-old vigilante Michael Foster.

Foster, who is white, had observed Daniels conceal the weapon under his coat before he came into the store. When Daniels crossed the threshold, Foster tackled him and placed him in a chokehold, Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Larry McKinnon explained.

#PardonHer

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Reviews from 2014

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair

One of my favorite phrases in the book is toward the end during a story about a friend fixing curtains and teachers who drew her out of her shell in school: "This is who I want to be in the world. This is who I think we are supposed to be, people who help call forth human beings from deep inside hopelessness."

And don't we all strive for that in some way? A friend receives terrible news and we offer soup, an ear or a stiff drink.



The Good Mother Myth

Diving into this collection feels like grabbing coffee with your best friends because the writers pull no punches. Their direct approach to their lives and the stories they tell are comforting because we are all human and to separate women based on some arbitrary measuring stick is pointless, stupid and solves absolutely nothing.



Etched on Me

Etched on Me is the latest from Jenn Crowell and it's a sprawling, heartfelt book that will have you want to dance at the end. In a Top 40 Latest Hits way.
Or maybe that was just me.



Redefining Realness

As a reader you end up cheering for her, as she crosses Hawaii, California, Texas and finally to New York, meeting treasured friends along the way. Her family, while not always being the most supportive or understanding, never stops loving Mock and makes the journey, albeit a different one than Mock, with her.


The End of Eve

The memoir is in the running for my favorite book of the year. It is gut-wrenching to read and bear witness to this period in the author's life, but by the end, the reader has been given a hard-won gift in this beautifully written book. A worthy addition to anyone's bookshelf.


Dear Sister


Healing and justice and forgiveness are going to look radically different to each person who undertakes and incorporates these actions into their own lives. The conversations that need to happen, to advance both these systems, along with reshaping the communities, start with books like this one.


The Big Tiny

The Big Tiny traces Williams' journey from sketching plans for her eventual house, to buying a trailer from an interesting group of Russians, fighting with various pieces of wood, downsizing almost of all of her possessions, and then setting up shop in a dear friend's backyard.



The New I Do

Authors Susan Pease Gadoua and Vicki Larson offer ways to reshape and redo marriage since nearly half of all contemporary marriages still end in divorce.They believe that "rather than continue to encourage people to cram themselves into an old model that isn't working for many....we want to acknowledge what's already happening and encourage you to think about new ways to marry."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Quality



I went on a beach trip for a week last July. One of my favorite parts was waking at 5:45 and rushing down the street to watch the sun rise over the ocean. I adore sunrise/sunset, and not only for the glorious picture opportunities. I sat, in the cool air coming off the ocean, sand in my toes and watched the sky lighten. I realized I wanted more of that. Slow, deliberate moments of quality.

2014 was a chaotic year. There were some good moments, but a lot of pain and frustration, too. I'm worried about carrying that over to this year. I have big plans for the end of the summer and I look at my lists, my to-do lists that only seem to acquire more items and not lose enough. I felt the same way when my husband and I first bought our house; get all the things done!

But I have to keep reminding myself that I can only get done what I can get done. Everything doesn't have to be done in an orderly fashion, checked off a list. I don't have a deadline and if I want the house to sit undone for a week or a month while I sit, that's ok too. No one is going to scold me. It's hard because growing up, someone did. I was always rushing to make sure I wasn't idle, that things got done.

And then two of my favorite blogs posted stuff that was tapped directly from my brain and I didn't know it.

Reading My Tea Leaves

I come by the habit naturally. At my mom and dad's house, there's a list taped to the side of the refrigerator. It's written on lined paper and my mom's insanely neat handwriting spells out in perfect rows a series of tasks that she and my dad hope to accomplish around their house. Some of the tasks have been crossed out in thick stripes of yellow highlighter. Others are still left undone. The specifics of the list don't matter nearly as much as its existence. Yes, it represents mundane tasks. But reglazing windows, pane by twelve-over-twelve pane, is also a metaphor for optimism, care, and intention.

Unfancy


When I start questioning if I should buy more, I’m always glad I have a specific limit on my wardrobe. Because I know myself. I spend (maybe a little too much) mental energy on little decisions like this. If I don’t check myself, I can use up my energy on these little things — and not have enough left for the more important things.

I’m still working on my single priority this year, but I’m thinking it may be along the lines of how I spend my mental energy. Something along these lines: Stop giving energy to small things that don’t really matter. Then, pour it out for something that does.


Do Less, Be More

And then I found this list of ways to do less and be more.

My word for 2015 is quality. I aim to fill my year with just that.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hello 2015!

I intended to have this post up yesterday, but 2015 greeted me with a multi-hour migraine, just to say howdy. I spent the entire day on the couch, eating nibbles from a sandwich and covered in the healing power of kitties. I'm slept better, but still not feeling 100% today. I really hope this isn't setting a precedent for the rest of the year.

Anyhey, onward to goals!

From last year:

  • -Finish all unread books on my bookshelves/wishlist. Nearly made it with this one. I received two unexpected books, so I'm not technically counting those, but as of ones from the beginning of the year, only one! It's a bell hooks book, so it requires some serious digging in.
  • -Upload all photos to Shutterfly Yes! I've kept up with it too.
  • -Help Mom finish my T-shirt quilt Literally finished the final stitching on the eve of New Year's Eve.
  • -Get the russian tattoo I want. Didn't get to this one. I would like to this year, but it's not urgent. I just ran out of money last year.
  • -Get subscription to Ancestry to finish genealogy project Yes! I have most of the basics in, but I need to start branching out domestically and more internationally.
  • -Plan vow renewal Yup! It's in four months! I have to finish paying off a whole chunk of things, but it's happening!
  • -Trip by myself I realized that I actually fulfilled this with a work trip! I had to navigate around San Antonio and did so successfully! And had a giant bed and cable all to myself.
  • -Take a writing class at The Writer's Center for Moose Girl. I decided against this.
  • -Purge harddrive. OMG. This was so satisfying! I scanned up even more stuff and have trimmed so much crap from our file cabinet.
  • -Pay off my car YUP
  • -Pay off credit card. Yeah, about that money and lack of it...
  • -Pay off private loan. I am so so close to this. It's under 2500 and it will be paid off with our tax refund in a few weeks.
  • -Build an emergency car/house kit. I actually have it started (thanks to husband buying me emergency rations for Christmas-what you get when you marry an engineer...)
  • -Have one weekend a month (at least) that is no-spend. We actually did okay for the first half of the year, but it went to crap after that. We did make strides in food, which is our biggest expense. I also am trying to only buy clothes/accessories every three months, to work with the seasons.
  • -Fix bike and ride at least once a month. No, but it is on for this year. I miss riding so much.
  • -Visit an allergist. Yes! And it turns out I have non-allergic allergies. My body is never simple. But I feel better.
  • -Drink more water. I have a new glass at work and I remember to drink way more water now.

And now, for 2015!

My word for this year is quality. As in quality over quantity. I don't want the extra crap anymore.

Personal

-ride bike at least once a month april-october once bike is fixed (All I have to do is reattach the seat and buy a new helmet.)

-read at least 30 minutes a day (books) ( I stare at screens too much.)

-set firm bedtime (10:30) with screens (tv/computer/cell) off at 8:30pm (I find I sleep much better this way)


House

-update guest bathroom (It needs love. And non-awful blue colors)

-new living room carpet (We've needed it for a while.)

-combine our two offices to make room for growing our family (I'll let you figure that one out. ;)

-fill in fence gaps and put up two gates in the backyard; one by neighbors, one by shed

-room by room inventory of items needed/tasks to be done


Financial
-set up a charity budget (feeding america/mspca/vet ranch) & volunteer at local food bank (I always scramble to donate at the last minute and want to give more.)

-pay off secu loan (Oh, it's ON.)

-pay off small loan (A student loan that needs to be gone. For a variety of reasons).

-set up student loan paperwork with work, for non-profit forgiveness (Apparently, I may be able to get loan forgiveness after ten years at the AGA. If that happens, I may dance naked in the street.)

-redefine budget with the aim of eating out less (Yup. It's our biggest expense next to the mortgage.)


Writing/Photography

-photograph more with SLR (I love that my phone is handy but I need to get out and use my bigger camera more.)

-enter at least three chapbook contests with Moose Girl (Yes. I want this beaut published.)


Health
-schedule a neurological visit to try to solve headaches (See the last year of my life. My headaches have really ramped up in the last year and a half and they need to be gone. I may also have an eye exam, in case I need glasses.)

-have updated full physical with blood work since last one was nearly 3 years ago (See item about growing family ;)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Snippets: Happy Holidays

I hope you get to spend time with the people you love over the coming days.

Horrifying (TW)

Yup, pretty much White privilege is a hell of a drug.

I was sad to miss this, but the pictures are incredible & More from #MillionsMarch & More & More & Timelapse from NYC

Pretty fall picture

Amazing

Indeed, publicity surrounding Ali’s case is said to have inspired efforts to annul other child marriages, including that of an 8 year old Saudi girl who was allowed to divorce a middle-aged man in 2009.



What the hell That poor woman

After police shot and killed 22-year-old John Crawford in August for picking up a legal BB gun in a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, police detective Rodney Curd interrogated Crawford’s girlfriend Tasha Thomas for 90 minutes, suggesting she may have helped him take a gun into the store, even though Crawford had no gun. Detective Curd didn’t tell Thomas that her boyfriend Crawford was dead until the end of the interrogation, the Guardian reported. A grand jury decided in September not to indict the officers who killed Crawford.



Black women have always been at the forefront of social movements and shown loyalty to Black men throughout all our struggles—risking arrest, physical assault, and the emotional and psychological stress that often accompanies being engaged in social movements. However, we may be building movements to prevent further state-sanctioned murders of Black men, but we are not discussing the factors that led to Oklahoma police officer Daniel Holtzclaw allegedly assaulting several Blackwomen while on duty. We have not marched through the streets for Rekia Boyd, Aisha Stanley-Jones, Renisha McBride, and Islan Nettles the way we have for Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and other Black men and boys who have met the same fate.

Heartwarming news

THE HELL?

One of the leading witnesses identity, also infamously known as Witness #40, whos story was used in the Mike Brown case, has just been uncovered only to reveal a woman named Sandy McElroy. problem? SHE WAS NEVER THERE.



God Bless Jon Stewart He has his faults, to be sure, but when he gets it, he gets it.



Beautiful pictures The last three are my favorite

YES. My heart goes out to the officers' families, but yet again.....

Well, damn Out of the mouths of babes

Fucking A Anxiety disorders SUCK

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas at the Schwopkins Manor

A few quick shots of our holiday decorations!


Our tree.


My little collection of snowmen. The two that have ornament string are heirlooms from my mom's side.


My old dancing Santa


Close up of the quilt my mom made us one year.


The Advent calendar my mom cross stitched when I was a kid. We use it every year. And no, you can't have it.

Wishing you and your family a happy holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Adventures in Homeownership: It's been a while

The fall got a bit crazy. This whole year has been a challenging, trying year. Believe me when I say, I'm ready for a fresh start in less than two weeks.

We haven't done much with the house (see crazy year/flying by the seat of my pants noted above) but I wanted to include a few pictures.

An early Christmas present. I initially gave Justin a side eye glance (really, a stand mixer for Christmas?) but I know it will be helpful since I love making mashed potatoes and the only other mixer I had was an old one gifted to me by a coworker six years ago. Also, Momma Schwopkins and I are having a cookie baking marathon this Sunday.

Added a knife holder that is wall mounted, to clear off a bit of counter space.

Our thermostat is ugly so I bought a frame to spruce it up. And the little shelf is by Justin's side of the bed, for cute display items.

I moved my small jewelry collection to a different frame, closer to the bed. And yes, am obsessed with Wild.

Ah, Littlefoot. He may look cute here, but I'm not too pleased with him right now. We woke up at the crack of dawn to him destroying the cute little cardboard box that Justin built for him and Midnight.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Snippets: Brace Yourself, Naps are coming

My job generously gave us off the week at Christmas. I leave early on the 19th and don't have to see my office again until the 29th. I'm so freaking excited for napping.

Powerful picture

Amazing!!

#BlackLivesMatter

DC Ferguson Protest Pics

REPOST: Anytime you hear someone criticizing black people for rioting, share this info with them.

Feels

I love this movie  (and not just because it was my husband and I's first date movie)

Nope, no entitlement/patriarchy at all

I love this woman

Whoah

Her face is giving me all the feels

Horrifying

BLACK WOMEN (ESPECIALLY TRANSGENDER) ARE GETTING MURDERED, RAPED, AND BRUTALIZED BY THE POLICE AND ARE BEING BLAMED FOR **THEIR** ACTIONS.



Feels yes and yes



Wow

Ooh, this truth

Mother Nature is spectacular

Eric Garner's daughter

Hell yes

Horrifying, awful and many other words

The adults were hollering out that we’re coming out, we’re bringing the children out. The children were hollering that they were coming out, that we were bringing them out. And we know that the police heard us. But the instant, the very instant, that we were visible to them, you know, trying to come out, they immediately opened fire. We were met with a barrage of police gunfire. And you could see it hitting all around us, all around the house. And it forced us back in to that blazing inferno, several times. And finally, you know, you’re in a position where either you choke to death and burn alive or you possibly are shot to death.