Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Family Updates {1.15}

Ostensibly, the point of making this blog a long, long time ago was so my family could keep up with what we, the Lemmons, are up to. Instead it has turned out to be more of a soapbox for me. Instagram and Facebook are usually how I actually keep family up to date, but just for fun, I'm going to write dry minimalist updates on here once a month as well. Maybe.

:: is hard at work in dental school
:: is probably going to stick with general dentistry rather than surgery at this time

:: is adjusting to his new daycare at the hospital where I work
:: is obsessed with Thomas the train and his friends
:: is getting very sneaky... Asked to put the chocolate chips in the cookies I was making and then attempted to eat all the chocolate chips
:: loved riding the horsie with his daddy when he visited Grandma and Pappy in Idaho
:: learned airplane travel is not all he dreamed it was, saying "Want get off the airplane" after only a few minutes on board
:: has been battling a nasty cold for the last couple of weeks

:: got to perform my first bone marrow transplant since orientation at work
:: am doing a lot of yoga these days
:: need to get more sleep

:: traveled to Idaho to visit Uncle Jace before he leaves on his LDS mission to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for two years
:: are evidently not especially exciting, because I can't think of anything else to write.

I think the point of this may also be to share pictures, but I am too lazy today. Next time!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

{Musings} Interruptions

I am a planner. I think part of it is because Scott and I are so busy that we have things figured out pretty far in advance to function, but I think part of it is just who I am. I genuinely love sitting down with my fancy Erin Condren planner once a week and writing in everything. I remember my first planner, in the sixth grade -- they handed out these big, spiral notebook sized planners with all these planning tips and advice and I was obsessed. I can't put my finger exactly on why I love to have everything planned out, but from writing my weekly menu to outlining my medication schedule at work, I get a kick out of planning. 

So, it follows that I hate when my plans don't come to fruition. I think this has been one of the hardest things for me about both motherhood and nursing. On my unit, the doctors meet once a day and discuss each patient's plan of care and make new orders and changes to that plan. Nothing upsets your day like coming back from a break to see that the doctors ordered two units of blood, a biotherapy treatment, and extra lab draws. And motherhood is even more this way -- you can plan all you want, but you are dealing with (at least) one completely irrational little being that has his or her own idea of how the day should go. I think both my career and my role as mother have helped me to let my carefully laid plans go a little bit, but I think it will always be difficult for me to have things go awry. 

I've been thinking about this in terms of life's journey as well. A lot of my big epiphanies are related to cancer, because I am around people who are having their plans rerouted by cancer every day. Today I was reading a blog post by the mother of one of my former patients who had recently had a checkup scan. The news on that scan was not necessarily bad, but did leave a lot of questions for that family on whether or not the cancer would return in that child. I found myself wondering, How would I live with that, always wondering if the cancer was going to come back? How would I be able to get through life on a day to day basis with that heavy question hanging in the air? 

I am visiting my parents in Idaho right now, and have run into some acquaintances whose lives have changed by other such moments -- a woman whose husband was diagnosed with cancer this year, another one whose parent has a terminal illness. These sudden swerves in what looked like a straight road have me wondering how I would react to similar circumstances in my life. My own knowledge of the road ahead is shrinking -- Scott has less than two years left in school, and we have no idea where we will be after he graduates. We are hoping to expand our family, and there is no telling how our next child will affect the dynamic of our family, if that child will be healthy and well, and of course when that child will make his/her appearance. And it goes on and on. 

There is a quote from the second Anne of Green Gables story, Anne of Avonlea, that helps for moments like these: 
All Mrs. Morgan's heroines were noted for "rising to the occasion." No matter what their troubles were, they invariably rose to the occasion and showed their superiority over all ills of time, space, and quantity. Anne therefore felt it was her duty to rise to the occasion and she did it, so perfectly that Priscilla afterward declared she never admired Anne Shirley more than at that moment.
Rising to the occasion in life's uglier, more stressful moments is not one of my strengths, although it is one of the qualities I pray to develop every day. I feel like if I can learn to rise to the occasion in the small interruptions in my life, maybe one day when the larger ones hit me, I will be able to endure them with grace. How do you manage to rise to the occasion when you want to just throw a screaming fit when things go awry (or is it just me that wants to throw a screaming fit)?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

{inspiration} 1.17.15

This week's theme is inadvertently parties! Which may be a problem, considering one of my goals this year is to throw fewer parties (I love planning them, but it stresses me out). But you can't have too many parties, right? Right?

:: I kind of want to have a birthday party like this some day. Would you be game to come?

:: A good reminder for those of us who are overly sensitive (aka, me).

:: I like this wise lady's stance on the "supermom" epidemic.

:: And this wise lady has a perfect answer for when perfectionism rears its perfectly styled head.

:: A goal to host 52 dinner parties. My party planning little heart would love to do this some day when life is less busy. Hahahahaha right.

:: How to be original.

:: 21 excellent and practical pieces of parenting advice.

:: Have you ever done Barre3 workouts? I just signed up for a year.

:: Dax Shepherd's shock at the grisliness of Kristin Bell's C-section.

:: To finish it off -- yet another party I want to throw. Ladies, when should we do this?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

{Musings} Self Care


About a year ago, I completed a six-month new graduate nursing residency. It was arduous. I was spending hours in classes each week in addition to working 12 hour shifts on the floor. The workload alone would have been difficult, but in addition to this I was adjusting to a completely new career after having been out of school and the workforce for a year and having a baby at home (of the 50 of us in the program, only 3 people including myself had children).

During this residency, we had several meditation workshops and "debriefing" pow-wows and cushy feelings talks to help us get through this program. The words I heard like a mantra was "self care." It was the answer to every problem, every hangup. "You need to take better care of yourself." Those words made me want to scream. When did they think I was going to take care of myself, between classes, work, taking care of my home and family? "Go to the spa, get your nails done, spend a day at the beach." I wanted to raise my hand and say, "You're kidding, right?" And I don't think I'm the only one. Whether you're at home around the clock, subject to the demands of little people, working a demanding job, or filling some combination of the two, we all get burned out, and sometimes the prescribed methods of relaxation are not realistic.

The point of this is not to complain about what I am or am not able to do. Even though the constant refrain of "self care" was annoying to me during a time frame when it seemed like yet another task on my towering mountain of obligations, I do think that it is important. I think frequently we praise the woman that sacrifices everything to serve others, forgetting that if we allow ourselves to burnout we are of no use to anybody. I don't believe that every day, but I'm trying to. It's still a struggle for me to move self-care from the to-do list to the place where relaxation lives (a place I am not well acquainted with).

Recently, I had a rare day all to myself. I only had one day off in between work days, and Scott had decided to take Cal to see his family in northern California. As a result, I had one Saturday with and empty house and the freedom to do whatever I wanted. And it was interesting deciding how to spend it. I made a list of all the things that I wanted to do:
:: yoga
:: running
:: scriptures
:: meditation
:: piano
:: baking
:: reading (I need a day for this alone)
:: watching a movie
:: writing
:: going to bed early
:: doing my nails
:: temple
:: beach
I did most of them, surprisingly enough (the baking and writing didn't make the cut), although I wanted to read for about six more hours to be truly satisfied. It was amazing. I don't know when I will have a day like that again, but I hope it happens within the next year, and I wish I could gift a day like this to everyone.

However, I felt a little discouraged a few days later when I was back in the swing of life, Cal was throwing tantrums, and I had two 12 hour shifts heading in front of me without the laundry or the grocery shopping done. I was feeling burnout but self-care wasn't an option. I was frustrated -- I'd had my day of "self care" and already I was feeling drained again. Then I had a little lightbulb moment -- I don't have to spend an entire day doing these activities to be rejuvenated. If I can consciously choose even just one to do for a few minutes every day, maybe my tank could stay full enough to keep me going. So often I fall into the vortex of mindless internet surfing or eating mass quantities of goldfish crackers/chocolate/handfuls of brown sugar (emergencies only, I promise!) when really, maybe I just need to untangle a Bach fugue at the piano or read something other than Huffington Post Parenting articles. And while I certainly wouldn't say no to a massage at a beachside resort, I think if I can find a way to incorporate these things daily in small ways, the whole concept of "self care" won't be such a joke to me anymore.

What do you do for "self care"? How do you find the time to incorporate it?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

{inspiration} 1.10.15

:: 100 things to do in LA before you're 10. Where was this when I was making my 101 goals a week ago?

:: Beautiful T. Swift mashup.

:: These ten rules of "mom club" cracked me up.

:: Encouragement for those of us trying to write during "the little years."

:: "Pause you who read this and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."

:: Those awkward moments when you're supposed to be happy for someone but you're... not. 

:: Top 10 things this blogger learned in 2014. (Things we could all stand to learn, I think). 

:: Thoughts on stress

:: Reading plan for reading Shakespeare's complete works in a year. 

That's all lovelies!! No pictures on 3-shift-in-a-row weekends!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

{Musings} Why I Stopped Hating My Body

{image via}

I can tell it's January at work. Where a week before, the work room was filled with candy, cookies, soda, and chips, the table is now bare. Everyone is "being good." The gyms are packed; Google Express suggests I order healthy cookbooks and whey protein powder. It's tradition to make goals at this time of year, and I'm going to take a wild leap and guess that a high percentage of those goals involve being healthier, thinner, stronger.

I'm certainly not immune. I'm jumping into 2015 with a few fitness goals of my own. However, in the last several months, my focus has shifted from wanting to battle my fat cells into limp, starving submission. I'd like to be thinner, yes. I'd like to make healthier choices, yes. However, the self-loathing voice that used to drive my exercise and diet choices (or, more commonly, berated me after I didn't make good diet and exercise choices) has been quieted, and the difference has been dramatic for me.

I've never been skinny or had a body that I would want to show in a bikini. Part of this is because I love food and haven't mastered the art of restraint, part of this is because I dislike physical discomfort, and part of this is because my genetics did not equip me with a fast metabolism but did bless me with a generous butt and a short upper body (so I eat one potato chip and get a food baby). For most of my life (read: up until a few months ago), the fact that I was heavier than my ideal plagued me constantly. I was one of those girls that talked about her diet all the time (while simultaneously stress-eating chocolate chip cookies). I went more than a year past having my son wearing a maternity swimsuit, because I was afraid to try on a non-maternity one-piece. Sometimes I would get ready for church and I would look in the mirror and cry because I didn't like how I looked.

In some ways, this got worse after I had my son, because not only did I have a body shape that I didn't like (and it was worse than ever after having a baby), but my body had also failed me. It hadn't gone into labor on its own. Once it had been forced into labor, it wasn't able to deliver, and my son had to be cut out of my abdomen via C-section. Once he was out, I produced only a fraction of the milk he needed. I felt completely betrayed by my body. I didn't just wish that I had a different shape; there were moments when I hated myself so much I couldn't stand to look in the mirror or at photographs.

I accepted myself more as I made some healthier choices. I lost twenty pounds. I ran seven miles. I fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I did yoga, slow and easy, moving my body to feel good rather than to lose more weight. But the turning point for me came through someone else's tragedy.

There was a patient on my unit who was beautiful, body and soul. She came through experiences that would crush almost anyone with her faith and spirit completely intact. And then she passed away very suddenly. I think everyone I work with was stunned by this loss -- one of the nurses said, "It sounds cliche, but she really was so full of life."

I'd had other patients I'd cared for die before, but for some reason this one was frequently in my thoughts, and as I was saying my prayers and remembering her family, I realized just how blessed I am to be in this body. This body is free of disease. I ran three miles this morning. I can eat without throwing up, and don't need calories infused into my veins. When I want to move, my body obeys me. I even have some "extra" blessings -- I don't need glasses to see, something my husband reminds me is a huge blessing. I was able to get pregnant and have a baby, even if his method of coming into the world wasn't "perfect."

I think all my life I had this idea that I should be grateful for my health, my mobility, my senses, but in those pondering moments after this patient passed, I realized that it wasn't just a cliche, but a true gift. My perspective passed from feeling that I should be grateful to actually feeling grateful. I don't know why I've been blessed with a whole body, when I see so many sweet children with broken ones. But I know that this realization erased the hatred away. I don't know if I'll ever fit into a size six, or produce enough breast milk to feed a baby without formula, or have a flat stomach. I do know that I exercise more and eat better now that my actions are motivated by love rather than fear. The journey of appreciating with gratitude the body I have and treating it the way it deserves to be treating is just beginning, but I've finally started walking in the right direction.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

{Inspiration} 1.3.15

{image via}

Remember my monthly Inspiration posts? I last did one in September. They got to be a lot of work. I would save all the blog posts and articles I found throughout the month, and then put them together in a big list of links. I found the idea through one of my favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo -- she does these great "Have a great weekend" posts where she compiles her own lists of things she's noticed on the web through the week. I look forward to these posts every week, and when she doesn't do one (like this week *sniffle*) I miss it. I still find myself bookmarking random articles, so I've decided to attempt making inspiration posts again. However, I think I am going to go with weekly when I can. So look for them some time Saturdays. We'll see if I'm capable of being consistent. Also, I have a huge backlog of saved up articles that were posted a while ago but that are still good/worth visiting, so I'll probably be posting some of those through the weeks.

:: Why mother-writers write.

:: Get rid of "stupid guilt" -- the guilt that doesn't inspire you to be better and instead weighs you down.

:: Interesting thoughts on whether we should focus on our passions or on what would make a good career.

:: Gorgeous thoughts on motherhood as the ultimate calling.

:: A story about saying yes and living life fully.

:: Best yoga poses for reading. You're welcome.

:: 52 writerly things that writers should do in 2015.

:: How our different choices as women make us... wait for it... different from each other (not better than each other)

:: Why it doesn't matter how you feel about your friends.

:: A birth story. (One I almost could have written myself).

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The resolution post.

Yes, I make resolutions. In fact, I make them so religiously (and frequently -- New Year's isn't the only time) that I was shocked when I saw an article saying that only 40% of Americans do. (Keeping them -- and sometimes even remembering what they are -- is another story.) I am a planner -- I thrive off figuring out what I want to do and how I'm going to do it. Sometimes (okay, usually) this means that I bog myself down with plans and paralyze myself until I flop on the couch and read for two hours straight or have a Netflix binge rather than utilize my son's nap time to be awesome. But in the meantime, on this plan-making day of all plan-making days, I have been thinking up goals for the new year.

I have a few different things I want to try this year. One of them is having a "word" for the year. I've noticed a few of my favorite writers mentioning words that they focus on in different times of their lives. These words tend to be more sophisticated than mine (the one that comes to mind is ousia, a Greek word for essence, cited by Madeleine L'Engle in Summer of the Great-Grandmother). But lately, I've been thinking that I should focus on the word confidence. I feel like most of my problems stem from the fact that I have terrible confidence, so I want to work on this problem. I haven't come up with a plan for it at this point, but I'm hoping to do some meditation and pondering on this word and come up with something more.

There are also a couple of awesome fitness challenges I am jumping in for January. The only last through January, which seems much more doable to me than saying, "I shall lose thirty pounds in the new year!" (One of my goals last year was to lose 40 pounds in 2014. I didn't do that, but I did lose 20 pounds, which on this side of it still feels pretty good). One of them is Yoga With Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga Challenge, and the other is Jessica Smith's #FitinFifteen. Both seem compatible with what I actually want to get out of exercise, and both are free and can be done in my house. Win/win.

Then I have my "traditional" resolutions. They are:
1. Incorporate a swear jar where I have to put money in every time I swear. (Not that I swear sooo much, but it has been slipping out more lately, especially at work, and I want to have better language and more self control).
2. Stop picking at my arms (this is kind of ridiculous. Does any one else have stupid habits like this that they just can't break?)
3. Check email/social media only three times a day.
4. Write a "musing" every week and post it on this blog.
5. Do some sort of "self care" every day. (I.e., something that makes me happy when I am stressed, instead of mindlessly going through social media or eating lots of sugar).

Finally, I am starting over with the DayZero Project, which is completing 101 things in 1001 days. They aren't all lofty goals -- more like bucket list type tasks, as well as some things that I've been putting off for weeks/months. The goal is to do these by September 28, 2017.

1.     Have another baby
2.     Run a half-marathon
3.     Do NaNoWriMo
4.     Move to a new state
5.     Read A Suitable Boy
6.     Sing in public
7.     Make a buche de noel at Christmas time
8.     Do the Women in the Scriptures challenge
9.     Finish reading Preach My Gospel
10. Give away a Book of Mormon
11. Watch the sunrise
12. Make family yearbooks
13. Finish Cal’s baby book
14. Go to a temple I’ve never been to before
15. Submit something I’ve written to a publication (ex: Coffee + Crumbs, HelloGiggles, Segullah, Literary Mama)
16. Go camping
17. Watch all the Harry Potter movies
18. Take Cal to the Thomas exhibit at the museum
19. Take Cal to the natural history museum
20. See Taylor Swift in concert
21. Hit my pre-baby weight
22. Play the guitar
23. Finish my Classics club list
24. Try Moroccan food
25. Eat at Ariel’s Grotto
26. Spot a celebrity “in the wild”
27. Learn another Bach fugue
28. Learn another Beethoven sonata
29. Learn another Chopin nocturne
30. Re-decorate our bathroom
31. Visit a new state
32. Visit a new country
33. Adopt a kid for Christmas
34. Finish reading Anna Karenina
35. Go on a hike
36. Fly a kite
37. Make fennel chips
38. Watch a sunset
39. Get ice cream at a Ben and Jerry’s shop
40. Go dancing
41. Water ski
 42. Snow ski
43. Eat at the Farmer’s market
44. Eat at Napa Rose
45. Be a stay-at-home mom
46. Take Cal to Olvera street
47. Start doing Barre3
48. Take a prenatal yoga class
49. Have another hot cocoa party
50. Have fondue
51. Make macarons again
52. Visit New York City
53. Eat a Laduree macaron
54. Read on the beach
55. Donate platelets
56. Make a lip scrub
57. Clean the mold out of my shower
58. Eat at my favorite Indian food restaurant in Cerritos
59. Have papusas
60. Get a haircut
61. Read the sequels to Little Women
62. Sew… a thing.
63. Finish my Halloween wreath
64. Make a white and blue winter wreath
65. Start collecting the Willow Tree nativity
66. Get a massage
67. Get a manicure
68. Go berry picking
69. Visit Jenna in Michigan
70. Dress up for Halloween
71. Get a pedicure right before giving birth
72. Go to the commissary
73. Watch the fireworks at Disneyland
74. Get a facial
75. Make a white stocking for Christmas (to put my gift for Christ in each year)
76. Go to San Francisco
77. Make peanut butter pie
78. Go on a picnic
79. Go to the observation park @ LAX
80. Make my own herbal tea
81. Go to LA Times Book Festival again
82. See a play
83. Watch all the Lord of the Rings movies again
84. Make a rainbow layer cake
85. Go to a military function
86. Have a mother/sister/daughter weekend
87. Make potato pancakes
88. Go to Noah’s ark exhibit
89. Go to a splash pad
90. Make something in my Le Creuset pot
91. Freeze breakfast burritos
92. Write in the Literati Café
93. Make Christmas ornaments with Cal
94. Make decorated Christmas tree ice cream cones
95. See the temple lights at Christmas time
96. Update photos in family photo collage
97. Make homemade ice cream
98. Get pretty vases for the kitchen
99. Buy some tub containers to organize Cal’s train tracks.
100.  Learn some new skills in Italian
101.  Speak French to someone

All right, that's enough crazy lady for today. Happy new year!
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