Category Archives: helpful tips

Diary of a Strong Mom

Before I got pregnant, I was working on getting stronger. Pregnancy kicked my butt when it came to strength and having a newborn was its own WOD*. Also, don’t get me started on sleep deprivation and exercise.

But now things are getting better. Sleep is improving. Diet is (almost) back on track. My deadlines are all under control. I’m feeling more and more like me. So of course, instead of accepting and celebrating that, I want to turn my sights – and my very limited amount of free time – on regaining my strength and becoming the Badass Mom Who Can Lift a Car Off Her Kid (TM) that I’ve always wanted to be.

I have the equipment, I’m working on building the program, I have the time three days a week at least (I just have to jealously protect it), now I just need the accountability. It’s been much too easy to push starting off on tomorrow (tomorrow, always tomorrow**), but my reasons are becoming excuses. The problem is that I have started a number of times already, only to get derailed for one reason or another (see: exhaustion).

I’ve been thinking of posting once or twice a week here re: fitness and what I’m doing, thoughts, goals, etc. I’m on the fence because I know some people are not in a place where they can exercise and seeing stuff like that might not be helpful. I know seeing fitness stuff just stressed me the fuck out until a month or two ago. And/or it might just not be interesting to y’all. I have the speckruns.tumblr, after all, and could post there.

But, at the same time, maybe some of you are in the same place. I would love to have/find some buddies and work towards our various goals together. Plus, this blog has never really had a singular focus aside from what I’m focused on at the time. It all started as a book review blog, then became a Whole30/Crossfit blog, which turned into an account of my time doing the Autoimmune Protocol, then morphed into a TTC blog, and is now all things Lady Jr and gay momhood. Adding in a layer of strong!mom seems like a natural evolution.

Anyway, that’s all to say: if y’all have a strong opinion about whether or not you see strength training posts showing up on your dash, now is the time to chime in. ❤

* Workout of the Day, a Crossfit term. WODs are short, intense, and you spend every second dreading the next and wishing it was over.

**Morgen, morgen, nur nicht heute, sagen all die faule Leute

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Filed under crossfit, fitness, helpful tips

To-Done Lists

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I still believe in to-do lists – they’re very helpful in organizing and not forgetting things you really ought to do – but during the last few months I’ve discovered and embraced to-done lists. Since embarking on (f)unemployment, they’ve been a sanity-saver.

Side-note: I’m a little addicted to productivity. If I write a to-do list and only do half of it – or worse – instead of realizing that perhaps I had way underestimated the time commitment, I beat myself up. Productivity and my perception of whether or not I’ve achieved it factors in greatly with my anxiety.

Knowing this about myself, I recognized that I would have a really hard time with my days if I couldn’t look back and point at all the things I’d done, but using to-do lists could (would) only make that worse. Enter the to-done list, where I write down everything I did, instead.

So far, I’ve had several days where I felt bad about my productivity, only to sit down and write out my to-done list and realize – oh wait! – I’d actually done a lot! I hit my personal goals and even did a little errands and life stuff on the side. It really helps me view my days as successes instead of failures and likewise keeps my anxiety at bay.

Do any of you use a similar system?

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Filed under happy things, helpful tips, simply informative

Release

A year ago was when everything really went tits up with our TTC and my depression started in earnest. I still believe that the TTC process wasn’t the sole cause of that episode, but it certainly didn’t help. The eleven months that followed were some of the darkest of my life.

A recent blog post reminded me just how dark it had gotten. That I let myself get to a very, very dangerous point before I sought help. And I just want to say to my future self and anyone else reading: don’t. Don’t let it get that bad.

The very first time you have to go home early and/or call out of work because you can’t stop crying, that should have been when you got help. When you feel like the world is choking you, that’s when you should get help. When you’ve apologized to your partner for the umpteenth time about not being able to do basic things because you just don’t have the energy anymore (and that’s not at all normal for you), that’s when you should get help. When you’ve written how many? posts about how awful everything is and how awful you feel, that’s when you should get help.

I made that first appointment for my wife when I should have made it for myself months before. I’m still too afraid to talk about the thoughts I was having during the worst of it, but I want to learn and never, ever let it get that bad again. It doesn’t need to be the end of the world before you ask for help, or as my therapist phrased it – you don’t have to shatter your leg before you see a doctor.

Life is so much better now, in part because I sought help, and in part because I started changing things and kept changing things. Now I need to let go of those months that still feel like a chain around my neck. Breathe deep and be free.

I don’t quite know how to do that, but I have help now. I know it might take a while yet – I spent many months there, it’s not going to disappear overnight. But here’s to never having to live the past year again.

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Filed under depression, helpful tips

PMS/Pregnancy Symptom Bingo

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Lady and I sat down a few evenings ago, got on the internet, researched both PMS and early pregnancy symptoms, put this together. It was a lot of fun, actually, because although I knew the two would be fairly similar, I didn’t realize they’d be practically identical. The only thing specifically pregnancy-related that we could find – aside from a positive HPT, obviously – was darkening aerolas and fainting.

Which finally explains why the nurses at the hospital I was taken to this one time when I fainted in a public space (see: someone called 911 who didn’t know I was a frequent fainter) were so adamant about asking me if I was pregnant, if there was any possibility that I could be. Everyone asked at least 10 times, then one even pulled me into an empty room and asked me there and they finally let up when I was like no, seriously, I’m a lesbian, I’ve never had man-sex.

I laugh now of course, because I’m still a lesbian and I’ve still never had man-sex, and yet…

Anyway, I believe this exercise was more enlightening for Lady than it was for me. We printed this out and next week we’ll have fun marking it off. Five across = a back rub. Five down = a bath. Five diagonal = a food treat (like strawberries & chocolate). And more than 10 = a FRER. Hopefully I’ll get some treats out of what I won’t be able to keep from doing anyway and we can make light of the second week.

Meanwhile, it’s DPO3 and my head hurts and we don’t have anything but aleve in the house. ;;.;;

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Filed under gaybies, happy things, helpful tips, TTC, two week wait, whimsical

What to Do with the Silver

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Since I’m the only granddaughter my recently deceased grandma had, she had been planning on passing her silver to me for years and decades – pretty much since I was born. I’d known about this kind of peripherally, but it was still a surprise when mom mentioned it to me when we went out for the funeral. Then she surprised me more by saying I wasn’t obligated to take it. I could chose something else instead.

My initial inclination was to do just that. But then I talked it over with my wife and we went down all the pros and cons and really figured out why we didn’t want the silver – then we why did. Not just because grandma had wanted me to have it – although that was a big reason – but because we wanted to use it, and to have something to pass on ourselves decades down the line.

We are not Stuff people. We routinely purge our belongings and have only kept a few things of sentimental value over the years, although the chances of those surviving the next move are small. I don’t believe in Stuff – it actually makes me really uncomfortable – but for some reason the silver struck a chord. It would just be nice to have something from the family that we could say this belonged to your great-grandmother and that will last for years and years and be useful, too.

That was the other important thing: we wouldn’t allow the silver to be shoved to the back of a closet and forgotten. I’m not sure how to actually make this work aside from striving to use them once a week or more. I’m hoping they will remind the both of us to sit down and eat a proper meal together more often – something we have sadly neglected in the last few years.

According to the internet, using silver regularly keeps the tarnish away, too. I’ll be interested to see if this is true.

But first! We must actually de-tarnish them. Also according to the internet, the easiest way to do so is as follows:

Gather some aluminum, be it foil or a pan
If foil, line the bottom of a pan or sink with it
Sprinkle baking soda and salt, 1-2tbsp of each, across the foil or pan
Fill pan/sink with really hot water – I used a mixture of boiling and hot tap water
Let sit for 5-15min
Rub dry/clean with a clean cloth that you don’t mind getting tarnish all over

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Some of the pieces were more tarnished than others, so some needed five minutes while others I had in the bath for a full half hour. I don’t think leaving them in longer would have hurt, but I didn’t want to risk it.

And this is how they turned out:

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So shiny! Especially that one third in from the right.

Now we just have to figure out how to store them… I don’t think I’m ready to switch out our stainless in the cutlery drawer. But where?

If you have silver, inherited or otherwise, what do you do with it?

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Filed under happy things, helpful tips

Happy Days, Day 23

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This could be an every day happy moment, or at least on those days when I actually hit word count. I participated in National Novel Writing Month religiously in high school and through college and learned the power of a daily word count goal. A few hundred – or thousand – words doesn’t seem like much, but consistently and over the course of a month, two months, three, suddenly you have something substantial.

I broke up with NaNoWriMo somewhat unpleasantly several years ago because I thought it had gone all askew and unfocused, but really we’d just grown apart. We’re now (just) friends and I’ve since made a point of making time for the things I kept claiming were important in my life, and now writing is a daily… well not quite habit, but definitely a daily part of my life. NaNo taught me a lot, but the primary thing was not just the power of a daily count, but the power of a visual graph. Suddenly you can see your words adding up, and you can see your goal coming closer.

Or for me, really, it’s more that I can see when I miss a day, and that quickly becomes unacceptable. So here’s my happy moment in a graph, the collective words from the last month and a half and the words to (hopefully) come. If you look closely, you can see more than just a few days that I haven’t made count or missed entirely, but the beauty is that all together – those days don’t matter. Not one bit.

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Filed under goals, happy things, helpful tips, writing

My At-Home Writing Retreat

With my wife away at a conference all last week, I decided to put that time to good use and do an at-home writing retreat. I detailed my prep in that post, then went silent for a week. Now that’s it officially over, I have both wins and fails to share.

First, the wins. Cleaning the apartment and getting a bunch of small but niggling projects out of the way was extremely helpful in keeping me on task later in the week. I was never tempted to scrub the bathroom, vacuum the floor, do the laundry, or put away clutter in lieu of writing because it was already done. This gave me both peace of mind and a lovely, clean house in which to lounge about and write, or invite friends over and write, or simply read on the floor.

It also left my HabitRPG wonderfully free of to-do’s, so when I checked in every day to log my dailies and writing, I wasn’t bogged down by a list of other things I should be – or felt I should be – doing.

Writing with friends wasn’t something I’d originally planned for, but it happened often and was wholly refreshing, especially after a long day by myself. Looking back, I’m glad I had all those social writing sessions, even if they weren’t the most productive blocks of time. They helped alleviate the overall loneliness that settles in when my wife is away. I also had a few late nights where we didn’t write, but did talk craft, which for writers is like crack.

With the intention to write as much as possible or read when I didn’t feel like writing firmly in the forefront of my mind, it was much easier to turn away from the internet once I had checked my email and researched a few things via google. It was much easier to come home, change out of my work clothes, and settle onto the couch with a book. My job was to write that week, and write I did.

As for the fails…

There weren’t any large ones, just small things that could be adjusted or outright fixed for next time. Because there will be a next time.

The major fail? Not planning well for meals. I made enough for my breakfasts and lunches for the week, but my dinners were kind of on the fly and less than optimal. I may have had cheese and crackers on more than a handful of occasions. Next time I would prepare more food, especially a few treats, like maybe a pizza (with pumpkin sauce), or large and fantastic salads. Not having fulfilling and tasty things immediately on hand to eat led to countless minutes whining about food to the cats while staring into the fridge.

The other fail I had foreseen in advance and might partially couch as a win. My intention had been to avoid internet altogether outside of work, but in practice I did check my email, update HabitRPG, and occasionally get lost on twitter. If this were a pass/fail, I’d definitely have failed. But I think I deserve a C+ for effort. I limited my normal interneting by a great amount and, although I caved and checked my email, I still turned it off after a reasonable amount of time and got back to work.

All in all, though, the numbers don’t lie. I should have written down my starting wordcount, but at least from last Monday and over the course of the following week, I wrote a total of 15,000 words. To put that in context, on an average day I write about 1,000 words, so overall that amount reflects more than double my usual output. I’d say pretty good, considering I was still working full time. And on the days off from work – Friday and Saturday – I wrote more than 3,000 words a day.

What I took from the experience is mostly a greater understanding of my own limitations. As far as writers go, I’ve always known I’m not one of the more prolific ones, but it was something else to have a full day in which to write and only be able to churn out 3k. Granted, this is a first draft and a lot of planning and plotting are still going on, but it was still humbling. Just because I want to write 10k in a weekend, doesn’t mean it’s either feasible or plausible – at least for me.

I’d definitely do an at-home writing retreat again, taking into account my above fails. I would love to actually unplug my home internet for a whole day and see how that affects my productivity. In fact, I’m already looking at my calendar and trying to carve out another week or long weekend in the future. What with my self-imposed deadline of September for this WIP, I’ll take anything I can get.

What about you – would you be interested in doing an at-home retreat of your own?

 

(Cross-posted at KA Doore)

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Filed under goals, helpful tips, writing