How do I tell my story in 4500 characters or less?

That is the question I’m struggling with this week. How do I take all that I am, all that I am capable of and all that I’ve struggled with to get where I am, and sum it up professionally and concisely? How do I stand out and make them want me in their program? know I’m pretty damn awesome and I’m almost certain that they would too if they just talked with me for a few moments. That’s not how it works though. Those aren’t the hoops and the choice is jump or don’t. Don’t isn’t an option; that’s already been determined. And so the pressure is on as I attempt to put pen to paper (figuratively of course as no one actually writes anymore) and tell my own version of the hero’s journey in 4500 characters, including spaces, or less.

As a side note, on top of the usual craziness of my rock n’roll  single parent lifestyle I’ve been trying to get my dental school application around (including retaking the super stressful and intimidating DAT) to reapply. It’s all coming to a head over the next two weeks. Regular blogging will commence after this ginormous task at hand is complete. (Okay, semi-regular at best.)

Making Good Use of Bad Time

I don’t really think there is such a thing as bad time. Time is just… time, neither good nor evil. It’s the one thing you truly can never make more of. That being the case you’d think we’d all use our time a little more wisely than we tend to.

When I was staring into this long, blank slate of a weekend (a very rare thing in my life) I really wasn’t sure what to do with so much empty time. My main goal was to get out of bed every day and to avoid wallowing.
Must avoid that dark abyss!
Mostly I managed surprisingly well. I did have a moment Saturday evening, sitting on my couch in my pajamas, where I teetered on the edge. Luckily I thought to make a list. I grabbed an old envelope and on one side wrote “Ways to Waste Time” and then on the other wrote “How can I use this time to make life better? ”

Turns out the second list grew longer than I anticipated. There were a lot of things I could and should be doing. So I got off the couch, showered, & went out for beer with a friend.
Sunday morning I rolled out of bed and engaged in being productive.
First there was this:

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I finally got around to using the Kitchen Aid mixer my mom gave me months ago, the same one I used to make hundreds of dozens of chocolate chip cookies with throughout my childhood. (I’ve always baked when I’m bored.) Also I tapped into the excess of old bananas in my freezer. Win win.

Then there was some (boring) cleaning up and washing dishes.
And then there was this:

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Chicken, potatoes, and veggies with the potential to become so much more!

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All they need is a little help from some yummy broth stuff to become chicken pot pie.

 

Having meals in my freezer makes a huge difference in my crazy busy weeks with my kids. So. yeah. productivity.

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Along with the topless pot pies (they’re better if you add the biscuit topping when you cook them) and banana bread for the old freezer I baked and casseroled some sweet potatoes. I’m not sure that counts as making life easier though since I’m the only person in my household who will eat sweet potatoes even when they’re topped with brown sugar, butter, and pecans. Weird isn’t it?

After the baking, picking up a couple shifts at work, and some low level socialization it was finally…FINALLY Monday. And finally time for my kids to come back to me. And all was right in the world. (For three whole days.)

Don’t Let Your Dreams be Dreams

There’s at least five important things other than blogging that I should be doing right now. I thought you should know that. I’m not, though, because I just wasted so much time trying to register for the last general education class in my long-lived quest to complete my bachelor’s degree that I only have half an hour before it’s time to pick the kids up from school (and get some ketchup…must remember the ketchup!!!). That’s not enough time to get into studying or listen to a lecture or start a paper.

Registering for classes this go round has been a major thorn in my side. Major! This is supposed to be my last semester. I should be graduating at the end of April. Should be. It’s looking like I won’t because I can’t get into the fucking classes I need. There’s only three of them and I’m getting blocked at every turn. (Eastern, you are seriously killing my learning boner here.) First, the instrumental chemistry class that’s required for my degree only has one section offered…it’s on Thursday evening. If you’ve been here a while you might know Thursday evening is my family’s divorce parenting switch time. No way I can be on campus almost an hour away Thursday evenings. On top of that no other nearby university offers a course that transfers as that. Did I mention it’s required for the degree I’m trying to get? Next, the other chemistry class I need has a lab component that’s a separate two credit class. Guess when that lab is offered…if you said Thursday evening you win. The choices are Monday/Wednesday afternoon (going about half an hour later than I really can stay for) and Tuesday/Thursday evening. But it really doesn’t matter either way because by the time the error on my transcripts that prevented me from registering the first day I could was cleared both sections were closed. I’m waitlisted in the terrible but still preferred Monday/Wednesday lab. I was so frustrated about these two classes that I procrastinated until today to register for the gen. ed class I need. Art. Turns out all the “good” art classes are full. *sigh* Online music appreciation it is.

This litany of registration frustrations (along with the super challenging microbiology class I’m taking this semester) have lead me to ask What the fuck am I doing? I probably won’t be able to get a job with the bachelor’s degree I’m getting (or at least trying to get) and if I can barely pull a C in microbiology is dental school (my long term goal…at this point) really realistic? My inner Debbie Downer is reminding me that I’m already thirty-five and up to my eye balls in student loan debt, that I’ve got five kids to take care of, that if I go to dental school I may never have the time to date. Ever. (Well, at least not until I’m, like, forty so basically the same thing.) It might be time to cut the losses and quit while you’re just barely not ahead, she says.

Clearly I’m in need of some redirection, a little motivation perhaps…

That’s right, it’s time to embrace my inner Shai LaBeouf and …JUST DO IT!

So my new motto for this season of my academic journey is: Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the point others might have given up and have kept pushing through. Whatever, I guess I can do it a little longer. What’s one more semester anyhow? I’ll still graduate…eventually. I can still apply to dental school; I’ll asses whether I can hack it or not if (when?) I get in. Why borrow that problem from tomorrow? I’ll get to it when I get to it. And besides, dating is totally overrated.

Embrace the Struggle

I need to be awesome right now and I’m just not. Lots of days I don’t even want to get out of bed even though I’m getting way more sleep on a regular basis than I have in ages.

This semester has been a trying one so far and I’m not even in nursing school. Getting into the groove of the school/kids/work/life balance after a comparatively relaxing summer always takes a minute but this time it’s something else. I’m not sure what exactly. I just can’t seem to get my Academic Overacheiver groove back.

The most quoted movie in my household once again says it best.

The most quoted movie in my household once again says it best.

Maybe it’s because a couple of the classes I have this semester are the hardest I’ve had in a while. I can honestly say it’s been years, like lots of them, since I’ve been more than a little challenged by the content of a class and not just the demands & responsibilities of my life in general. It took me by surprise and in doing so has undermined my confidence. I always feel a little unsure of myself; it’s there constantly lurking just below the surface but the challenge and changes in my life the past few years have helped me master the art of faking it until I make it. Lately though I’m less & less good at said faking it and feel less and less like I’m making it. My self assurance is hiding in its shell somewhere. Suddenly I don’t feel like the smart person that I know I am.

Everything is hard. I’m not sure I want to do it anymore. Heck, I’m not even sure what it is anymore.

I have a whole hypothesis about the role of struggle in human happiness. This set of ideas that have tumbled around in my head for a while now. See, I think to actually be happy a person has to struggle. I’m not just saying you have to have bad times to appreciate or be able to recognize the good, though that is part of it. No,it’s not the contrast of good times and bad that makes struggling and having a challenge crucial to happiness. I’m saying the struggle and the challenge in life are what makes us happy. Maybe it’s the fact that having something to get through or to work against gives us purpose and that creates a sense of well being, a happiness if you will. Our lives now are made easier and easier by advances in technology (among other things). Human beings no longer have to fight the elements just to survive to the ripe old age of thirty-nine. It’s almost a given that we’ll live a relatively comfortable, long life. And yet depression and anxiety are the plagues of our modern society. Life has gotten easier but people have not become happier. We have it all but we’re just not happy. Maybe it’s because having it all, life being easy, leaves us under-challenged. It makes us restless and angsty so we create problems to struggle against. The fact that running Ultra-marathons is a popular thing speaks to this. A certain amount of challenge in life is a good thing, a necessary thing; it makes a person feel more content, more purposeful. There is happiness in the struggle.

Some people are adrenaline junkies, over the past couple years I’ve realized that I am a bit of a challenge junkie. It’s why I run long distances and am constantly looking for the next goal, another way to push myself to the next level. It’s what makes my co-blogger accuse me of thriving of the chaos of my life instead of trying to change it. You’d think I’d be thrilled with the challenges & difficulty of my life right now. Usually I am at least a little thrilled when I’m pushing myself through a tough time. I feel pretty awesome when I prove that I can do it all and not too terribly either. But lately all the challenges in my life are most certainly not thrilling me. They’re crushing me a little bit & I’m not sure why.
My co-blogger and I have had a lot of complaining sessions conversations about this semester and why it sucks so badly for both of us. We’ve talked about just enduring, doing what you have to do to get to the light at the end of the semester even if that means barely scraping by, all that stuff. Really, though, that’s not enough. Me not doing well in some areas of my overwhelming life such as school and parenting, will have some long term consequences. Not positive ones.

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Typically I am pretty awesome.
When my kids were little I was a (mostly) stay at home mom. I chose to be one because it was important to me to be there during the years my children were developing the fastest and I was really good at it. When I was going through separation and then a divorce that got really messy (and still is) I got a job, worked full time to financially support my household, bought a house, and still did all the parenting things. Not only did I do them but I did them well. I held it all together (for the most part) and kept things as stable as possible for my five kids when they were going through the worst time of their lives. Then when the dust settled I went back to school full time. I’ve managed classes, trained for, and  ran  a half marathon. Twice.  Heck, this past summer I even fixed my dryer when the belt broke. Without any help (other than YouTube & Google).
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My point here is that I am capable; I know I can (usually) be as awesome as I need to be at any given moment. History shows that. Now is no exception even if it feels like it is. Yes, everything is a struggle right now. But I’m usually good at that shit.

I need to make a change; to look at the situations in my life, remind myself that I am a badass who doesn’t hide under the covers.I get up and do stuff even when it’s difficult and I don’t want to, even though I’m doing it on my own and it’s tiring and frustrating. It’s time for me to embrace the struggle. To reach out and give it a big bear hug…despite the fact that hugging makes me wicked uncomfortable. Even metaphorical hugging.

Running Holiday

I’ve been tired this week and feeling draggy. Really all I want to do is sleep. Maybe it’s because my birthday is tomorrow & I’ll be 35. It’s not a “big” birthday but 35 is weird. I’m not quite ready for it just yet; there are things I thought I’d do before 35. I guess there’s still 40 though. For some reason birthdays tend to put me in a funk especially since being no-longer-married. Those days that are supposed to be special just aren’t quite the same without another adult around to rally the troops & do something thoughtful and nice.  I’ve got no party plans this year either & have to go renew my vehicle registration today so that sure isn’t helping. Maybe I can credit this persistent blah feeling to that. Or maybe it’s because I ran just over 70 miles last month. I’m super excited about that but now I want a break. Kind of like when you finish a tough semester of classes and get a little time off to recover before the next go round. I want that for running but I know if I take a break like that I won’t meet my June goal. And I like meeting my goals.
So I knew I should run today but was not feeling especially enthusiastic about it. Part of me thought I should do a long run for the week because I have the time. Well, I have more time today than any other day this week. Another part of me thought that a short run & a nap would be a better way to go. It was a toss up as to which part would win that arm wrestling match today.
It was, at least, until I logged on & scrolled through the random running blogs. I do that every now & again when I’m trying to find the motivation to run. Running bloggers are great for that. They tend to be positive & optimistic even while maintaining a snarky, sometimes sarcastic sense of humor about things. Most the time I run alone but reading other runner’s blogs gives me a sense of connection with other runners,  people I probably will never meet. So yay for running blogs!
Anyhow, today when I got on WordPress I discovered that
it’s National Running Day. We runners have our own holiday. Who knew? And it’s super close to my birthday. In fact, last year ut probably was on my birthday (apparently it’s a floating holiday & is the first Wednesday in June).

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That's the motivation I used to finish today's long run.

The fact that it’s National Running Day gave me just the boost I needed. The mental boost at least. I decided, yes, I would run today and , yes, it would be a long run. Because…National Running Day!
So I went out and ran seven miles. On a trail, a hilly one. In the woods (and of course I forgot bugspray). I was pretty slow and now I don’t have much time to study for the test in my class tomorrow (really I should get an automatic A anyhow. It is my birthday.) But at least I feel like I accomplished something cool today, and that is why I run.
Well, that and if I didn’t run I’d have time to clean my house. Cleaning, Blech!

Some Not-So-Recent Makes

While crocheting has almost been at a stand still for me lately (except for one tiny little baby hat I started and almost finished over the weekend that I’m hoping to write down a pattern for…and then, of course (eventually) blog about.) I realized I’ve made some things over the past few months  year or so that have not found their way to the blog.

Also, my co-blogger has posted twice this week…WTF? Twice! And it has awoken my mildly competitive side. No way she’s showing me up! (Yes, yes, I know, this is not a contest and we’re all winners here (Pffft!))

So even though it’s 5:30 and I ran but haven’t showered yet and really should be making dinner so we eat sometime before 8pm tonight, I thought I’d write a real quick picture heavy crochet based post. I think it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those around here.

First here’s a pair of fingerless gloves I made as a birthday gift for one of my daughter’s friend’s birthday back in October. Well, her birthday was in October, I’m pretty sure I made these sometime in November.

granny square fingerless mits panda hat mid make panda hatThe hat was made as a later part of the gift as it was finished just before New Year’s Eve, Hey, I got it done within the year of the kid’s birthday. That counts for something right? I didn’t use a pattern for either of these though I keep thinking I’m going to write one down for the gloves (in all my spare time). I’ve made a few pairs of these and they always turn out nice.

Sometime this past fall (or early winter) whenever it started getting chilly and I pulled out my collection of scarves and hats and such, I made myself a hat. I had one baggy hat that I was wearing all the time; I was getting a little tired of it. SO I made the “Falling Leaves” hat pattern from Ravelry that I’ve made a couple times before (for other people). It’s been one of my favorites since I finished it.

Kind of an odd picture but it gives you an idea of the texture and a view of the back.

Kind of an odd picture but it gives you an idea of the texture and a view of the back.

Lastly and ,frankly, most embarrassingly, is a blanket I made last spring and summer as a baby gift for a high school friend of mine. I say embarrassing because I finished it last June and took these pictures but somehow failed to get it to her. Yup, this adorable little blanket is still sitting in my Finished Projects draw. Her baby just turned one last week…hmm. The fact that I have a Finished Projects drawer says something too.

flower granny blanket flower granny blanket 2

Aaaandflower square 1 flower square 2 flower square 3 flower square 4 some close ups of some of the squares.

Note to self: Must mail baby blanket soon  ASAP!

Residual Emotion

I thought I was okay, I thought I was fine but then it all hit me (again) and I wasn’t. I’m not (again).

This time last year some shitty stuff was happening, it was pretty rough. I spent the following couple months hermitting and trying to find a way to cope with my new reality. After a bit I did just that and life went on as it tends to do. It went on and on and suddenly I realized it had been a year. Somehow just realizing that (combined with the stress of my current schedule and some frustrating interactions with the ex) brought me right back to where I was last year. All the positive momentum I had seemed to just drop right off, it vanished and left me wanting to hide under the covers and not come out again.

The thing is, I thought divorce would be an end and a new beginning. The end of something bad and the beginning of a new life where I’d have the ability to continue what had been positive about the old one and move on from what wasn’t.

It’s not, it hasn’t been.

Maybe for some people it is but when you have kids you’re still tied to that other person and when that other person is determined to make your life miserable and exert whatever control they can over you it’s more of the same terribleness that it was when you were married. Don’t get me wrong, it’s better because now you have your own space with more options and the ability to just walk away from the other person even while they’re telling you how stupid and lazy you are, what a failure you are, and maybe that you’re getting fat to boot. It’s a little easier to distance yourself from that voice and their sphere of influence. As an individual you do get something of a fresh start in some parts of your life. So personally it is better, much better, and I would never go back. But as a parent, jeez. It might be worse. I used to do what I wanted with the kids and he rarely cared. Now everything is a battle, an attempt to establish what a superior parent he is and show what a poor job I’m doing at holding it all together. Had I known it would be like this I’m not sure what I would’ve done. Maybe that’s why we don’t get to glimpse our future (ala A Christmas Carol) when we’re making life decisions. The perceived outcome helps determine our decision but the actual outcome cannot. I’m pretty sure it would create some kind of weird paradox if it could.

So here I am, a year out from my terrible divorce (maybe even exactly though I’d have to look at a the papers to be sure), still angry, still fighting the urge to cry at any given moment, barely mustering the energy to move through my very busy day so that I can get to the next very busy day. Rinse and repeat. It feels bleak and hopeless. I know it’s not though. I’m trying to remind myself it’s temporary and that I really am okay; I’m past all this. Somehow the ghost of a January Passed has come back to haunt me for a bit though.

I’ve heard people say that divorce is like death without the casseroles. It is. And like the death of someone very close, this first anniversary has been a tough one. All the pain of the loss of the life I thought I’d have with my kids hit me like a sucker punch to the gut knocking the wind from my sails. The feelings of betrayal and defeat feel like a fresh wound again. A flare up from the ex trying to keep me in what he perceives to be my place with thinly veiled threats of how he’ll (try to) bury me if I even attempt to change this shitty situation we’re in, well, it took me out at the knees as effectively as Tonya Harding’s hired thugs.

So yeah, I’m down for the moment but one thing I’ve learned from this whole process is that people suck and “the system” won’t help you…

Wait, wrong lesson…

Inevitably time marches on and you just find a way to deal with it. You can give up and watch it roll on by you or you can pick yourself up and do the best you can to make it better. It might not be easy but it probably won’t be as hard as it was a year ago either.

Right now this whole idea of choosing happiness is popular. There’s this perception that you can and should just choose to be happy. You must be happy at all costs! Well, I’m calling bullshit on that. You can’t always simply decide to be happy and okay with life. Nor should you. Some things suck and there’s no happiness about that. You kind of have to find a way to be okay with that though. Find what you need to pull yourself out of the muck and keep taking steps forward. And sometimes even when you do that life gives you a little push back down. Get up and try again. Be as strong as you need to be to get through it and (hopefully) before you know it you’ll be okay again, maybe even better. And next year when(if?) it all comes around again you’ll know to just keep moving. Feel angry, sad, and terrible but know that February will come. Be not okay for a bit, but then…be okay, be better.