Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sacrifice for the Lambs

Parenting is hard. You knew that. But just in case you didn't because you don't deal with children in any way or you didn't know because you are one of those parents that lets the kids raise themselves, I'm just here to reiterate to the world that parenting is hard. So much self-sacrifice and you never really think of all the little things you may need to sacrifice occasionally or for a really long time, waiting on that magical time when they are old enough to do something or grown up and gone, gone, gone, woah oh oh oh.

You may have to get up early when you're a night owl because I think most kids are wired to wake up with the birds lest they miss a cartoon re-run.

You may have to go to bed late no matter how tired you are because of homework that never ends. "Are we done yet?" "No. I have another worksheet in my folder." Ugh.

You may have to miss that favorite TV show for the same reason, so you DVR it but can you watch it? Probably not because you want to sleep, which you can't do as much as you'd like so the shows pile up and then you delete them because you're running out of space.

You may have to miss some activity you'd like to do so they can have activities of their own. After all, they need to be exposed to things and develop a life of their own.

You do have to ALWAYS rephrase things in your head before you say something the wrong way or that you don't mean, thus risking damaging their psyches or opening yourself to questions you aren't ready to answer.

You may have to miss work to take them to an appointment or to go to their school or because they are sick or because you are exhausted and the only rest you will get is when they go to school and you finally get the house to yourself.

You may have to live in a pigsty, no matter how much you hate it because sweeping every day is exhausting and asking repeatedly for the bookbags and clothes and small, pointy toys to be removed from the common areas makes you tired of hearing your own voice.

You may have to settle for quickies in the middle of the night when you'd rather sleep instead of slow-pace in the well-rested mornings because someone is forever slamming open your bedroom door just to do a little dance and then leave.

You may have to lock the bathroom door or else be forced to referee an argument from your porcelain throne. You really should just go ahead and lock that door.

You may have to put on a rubber glove to do anything in the backseat of your own car because it's always a dumping ground of the little inhabitants who insist they need to bring everything they own with them everywhere they go and then leave it there for future automobile entertainment.

You may have to eat a lot of cereal because the rest of the good food disappears faster then morning bagels in the office kitchen. They are ALWAYS hungry and will tell you so in a really whiny voice.

You may have to wear clothes you are tired of so they can buy the books in the school bookclub or get new shoes that never last more than a year anyway or simply save for some future thing you know you are going to want for them.

And just when you think you have nothing left to give and no more patience, they crawl like a cat to your side on the sofa and kiss you just because you are you. They stare at you while you watch TV just "because I love you." They work hard to find a joke that makes you laugh and run in triumph to tell the other one they succeeded. They tell daddy, "You need to treat mommy like a queen," because something in them tells them that's how it should be. And you fall in love with them all over again.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Super Me!

Visited Kerri who sent me to get sheroed. So I did. That's right. Don't mess with me.

Have you voted for us today in the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Walking a Mile

Everyone has to deal with something, right? Diabetes, MS, ADD, anorexia, something. I've been pondering writings about life with a live-in lodger of some ailment. I thought, "What would I think about on a daily basis if it were me? Could it be me?"

I've told you my main health thing - eczema. Does it compare to some of the really life-threatening illnesses? Does anyone's specific ailment compare to another's? Sure it does. Be honest. We all count our blessings that someone else's cross isn't ours to bear. And when you are at whatever YOUR worst is, is it not a personal hell for you that seems no one else will ever experience? It's not selfish to me to feel this way. How we express it is a different thing, but I'm not writing about that expression. I'm just giving you a glimpse of me living with my own thing - daily.

What do I think about.

1 - Clothing choices.
Never wearing anything synthetic. At my best, I can get away with it. At my worst, it's 100% cotton, baby. There is also never wearing anything sleeveless without a shrug or something tagging along, unless I am on a distant island where no one knows me and I therefore don't care what they think. Years of topical steroids have thinned my skin so that it looks like I have some sort of stretch marks, when really it's a loss of elasticity in places. Needless to say, summer can be maddening. Why care? Have you shopped lately? I can't escape the sleeveless shi(r)t but do I want to dress like I'm 80 and about to plow? Yeah. I do have strong feelings about this.

2 - Food choices. I love oranges and tangerines and orange juice. LOVE THEM. Haven't had them in years upon years. When I was pregnant with my first child, I saw clearly the effect the acid from this fruit has on my skin. So no fresh oranges (for my kids either). Or apples. Or pears. Or acidic anything. Kind of limits the wonderful fruit choices. Other foods to beware? Anything with milk in it. But milk isn't good for the digestive system of many of us anyway, so maybe that's a good thing.

3 - Pregnancy choices. Part of the reason why baby #3 is a hard decision to make is because of what I may have to live with. Your favorite rough leather purse? Smooth as silk compared to how I can be. When I am in full flare-up mode the comments range from "Are you wearing makeup? Looks nice!" (I'm not.) to "Were you burned in a fire?" Yep. Been asked that at least twice. A great self-esteem builder.

4 - Living at the doctor's office.
I was born with eczema but I did not look like it nor did it affect my life until college when I lived off campus with a couple of friends in a house where animals used to live. I'm not allergic to them, per se, but dust is all the dead cells people and animals leave behind. Mites eat that up and dig deep into carpets and such. I am allergic to the mites. And trees. And grass. And winter. And spring. And summer. After diagnosis, I was predictable. Mini flare ups in certain places on my body at certain times of the year. Livable. After pregnancy, I was unpredictable and remain so. Stress, food, fabric, anything can set me off. I am on my 5th dermatologist since my 1st pregnancy but so far he's a keeper. Still, after a while, your skin knows your tricks and the meds don't work like they used to and you may even have to just find a new doctor and start all over again. Allergy shots - 2 years, twice a week, 20 minutes per visit - didn't work out.

5 - Permanency. Scratches on me leave permanent marks, unless I get a plastic surgeon to take care of it like I did last time. Ever itched so bad but tried not to scratch? It's hard, huh?

6 - Fragility. If you cut me in any of the places where my skin is thinnest, I will easily be hurt. I've been cut by the pricetags on clothes. That's how fragile my skin is. My family's touches can be too rough sometimes because I bruise very easily. My personality is strong because my first line of defense is not.

7 - The future. Old people are wrinkled. I'm already living with less-than-youthful skin. Where exactly is left for me to go? I try not to think about it.

For me, the crap going on inside of you that doesn't show has a blessing built in because it stays inside of you. I wear mine on my sleeve literally. When it's bad, I can't sleep. I am scratching without even thinking. Skin is all over the place like I'm leaving trails of pepper everywhere I go. (Am I grossing you out? Stop now.) Scratching leaves me vulnerable to staph infections which I easily get. I retain water to the point of not being able to wear shoes or, once, even walk at all. Moving is painful because of the lack of elasticity in the skin. My skin is thick because, oddly enough, eczema is about skin trying to repair itself and it does so quickly on top of itself. This, ironically, makes me a REALLY fast healer.

The thickness of my skin makes me hot which makes me sweat and sweat keeps the itch cycle turning. Showers must be cool, not hot, and yes showers, not baths because you can't be in water too long. And if there is anything in the tap water, I will know it because it will sting my skin like someone rubbed salt on a wound. And intimacy? Who wants to cuddle up to that or show it to anyone else? No. That goes into a coma too.

At this moment, I can feel my eyelids because they are the affected place right now. Funny thing is women love my eyes. They think I am a whiz with the mascara talking about the way I blend so perfectly. It's not my doing, ladies. God did that blending for me. In full flare-up mode, I look like a model.

You know how that perfect outfit makes you feel? Nothing needs to be adjusted. Everything falls in the right place whether you are sitting or standing or bending over. You look good and you're comfortable so you are free to concentrate on whatever task is at hand. You walk around confident that your outfit is doing its job to not make you self-conscientious in any way. Walking around in my skin is the opposite of that. It's like walking around in an outfit you have to constantly adjust. I am always, always, ALWAYS aware of myself.

I'm not looking for sympathy or anything. Just putting myself in someone else's shoes of writing about having to live with an affliction and how it affects my daily life. We all have our thing. Eczema and I have gotten used to each other and I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

What are YOU living with?

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No Words Needed

Have you voted for us today in the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stir Yourself Up

Lately I've been thinking about motivation. How I do all I do and how others seem to think I am a one-woman dynamo but really, it's just my way. I'm not really doing anything that others can't do. It's just I have this thing, a weird need to do multiple things at one time (not necessarily literally) and I still don't know yet why I am that way.

The rest of the world does things the normal way - they start something, they finish it, they start a new thing. Yes, they have to sometimes be a parent, spouse and employee all at once and then maybe they throw in one other love of theirs to help keep themselves fulfilled. But that, I think, is what most sane people prefer to handle at once and I think that's great. When I need to chill out, this is what I fall back to doing.

I never claimed to be sane when it came to this compulsion of mine. I do think it is a compulsion but I do not think it is a sickness. It is - again - my way. I get bored easily so multiple things keep me entertained. I do one thing and maybe jump to the next and around I go until one things gets done, actually until right BEFORE one thing gets done, then I go find something else to bring into the mix lest I'm short one thing and suddenly find myself feeling like I have too much time on my hands. Yes. I do feel that. And it's a weird feeling because it's like not being able to breathe suddenly. Not having something to do makes me antsy.

And then there are my down times.

Like the one I just had. There are short ones, which this was, and then are are longer ones. Both are brought on by a need to rejuvenate. If I never took a break, I'd go to work and be on a computer all day. I'd then go home and be on the computer in my email, or writing, or doing stuff for my business all night. Somewhere in there I have to do things with and for the kids and sometimes Mr. T who works a lot himself so he actually doesn't disrupt things too often. Oh, and I have to sleep too. And this is what I do a lot. Until I get tired. I don't really get tired of stuff I am doing. I just need to get away from the computer and when I do that, that means all that other stuff doesn't happen because after all, my business and my networking are online matters. My writing isn't but I still need the computer to write since my hand never moves as fast as my brain.

So for a good week but probably more like 2 weeks, I worked, I went home and maybe did a little more work for my job because I can. But my business email overfloweth. My Twitter friends didn't hear from me for a week for sure. Facebook friends and my business networking groups had to wait. I didn't think about greeting card copy. I didn't think about my book. And I was happy.

"I don't know how you do all you do, Monica," is something I hear a lot. Well, this is how. I know me. I know when I need a break and I take it. I motivate myself. Motivation is a funny thing. If you want to do all those things you want to do, you can't count on motivation to keep coming from others. Sometimes you have to be able to motivate yourself but at the same time, the more you allow yourself to be around and do the things that motivate you, the longer you will probably last. Still, you have to know yourself and listen to yourself and agree to chill out when your body calls for it. Doesn't matter how many voice mail messages you have. And I know that being around certain people and watching certain shows WILL stir something up in me, so I purposely stay away until I hear that call to come back and get moving again.

I hear a whisper of it now. I went back to Twitter and started my usual chatter. "Where have been Monica!" I just needed a little hiatus, that's all. I cleared up my personal email that can get crazy but not nearly as crazy as the business email. That took longer than expected so tonight I will hopefully get the business email. And I will set up an autoresponder so people know not to expect an immediate response because yes, I am busy and I do want to respond but just can't do it right then. I will filter more of the emails too so I see less stuff in my inbox. Just seeing it can give a person agita, you know. I really hate a full emailbox anyway.

Just like daily prayer helps keep you in tune with God and Him speaking to you, doing something for yourself to help you advance in your personal goals every day is a necessity to keep going. Again, I'm compulsive, so I do something nearly every day because I simply must or I can't breathe. But this is how I am able to do it. And I am around others mostly like me. That helps. But each one had to find their own way to keeping the fires burning.

Also, I know what my gifts and talents are. I know as much of my purpose as God has allowed me to understand thus far. And this helps give me fulfillment. I am not able to last too long in anything that makes me unhappy so I have no choice, you see? I have to do what I love and I have to do it all the time or I get REALLY antsy because I feel like I am wasting my time. I am a mother and wife and employee and writer and business owner and if I can do all that, so can you.

Motivate yourself if you think you need it. I just got a tip from a coach whose list I am on. Keep a success journal. Write down every success - big and small - you achieve. When you need a lift, go back to it and remind yourself of what you have accomplished so far. This is one way to motivate and inspire yourself. To me, life is too short and unpredictable to wait for some special time to do something. There will always be something or someone commanding your time. You can't do it all right now and at the same time, but you can work on it a little every day and keep pressing until you get there. Know yourself and what stirs you up.

You can't just be a talker though. You have to be a doer. So go do you!

Have you voted for us today in the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Want to Sleep. I Want to Thank.

I am tired. I get this way sometimes so I'm not worried about it. When you do a lot like I do it's bound to happen. All I want to do at the moment is go to work, go home and do whatever homework the kids have that's not done (there is always undone homework no matter what time I get home), and then watch TV or play sudoku on Son's DS. That's it. I'm not in the mood for anything else at the moment. So my life is waiting on me. It's a puppy I tossed outside to do its business and now it's clawing at the door trying to get back in.

  • It's the lesson I need to complete for my children's writing course.
  • It's the bio I need to write for the woman who interviewed me for her book.
  • It's the HUNDREDS of emails I need to go through in my business emailbox.
  • It's the single page I need to write (and the other page I need to update) in order to be done with my book proposal.
  • It's the email I need to send out to reconnect with people who took an interest in our puzzles.
  • It's the ad I need to create to go in the newspaper some time next month.
  • It's the catalog I need to review.
  • It's the people I need to respond to about hopefully using/selling/advertising our puzzles.
  • It's the printer I need to visit about some projects and a proposal my partner and I want to make.
  • It's the greeting card copy I need to write. (This dog is getting bigger by the letter, right?)
  • It's the labels I still need to print off for the last of the puzzles we repackaged.
  • It's the 2 articles I need to review before passing them on to a friend to edit for me.
  • It's the vending this month I need to start preparing for.
So what's in the way?

  • My son has more work to do to complete his Bear Badge requirements. He can't do it alone. And then come the extra badges.
  • My son has signed up for Little League and the first clinic to help him start getting ready is this Saturday. There's another in 2 weeks. Then maybe some training in March. LL starts in April.
  • My daughter sings in the children's choir and though rehearsal is currently only once a month, it's still something else to do. (It's going to go 2x a month soon.)
  • We're thinking about signing Daughter up for swimming lessons so she can finally do what she thinks she can do - swim. Son has enough on his plate right now. He can learn later.
  • Every. Single. Weekday, there is homework I have to help finish or a project that is coming up - for either kid, sometimes both and sometimes this require library visits.
  • You know, that refrigerator does NOT clean itself. Nor does the tub. Or the dishes. And the laundry, though full of pieces with perfectly good arms and legs, refuses to pick itself up and walk upstairs for me. I think I've told you in the past this is OK because the spouse tends to cook and clean the rest of the bathroom and vaccum and grocery shop so no, I can't put any of this off on him.
  • Daughter wants me to read to her. I don't do it every night but she tries. After a certain hour, my reading skills are zapped, I keep telling her.
  • I really need to do Daughter's hair. That means at least 4 hours out of any given day. Probably closer to 6 depending on how small I make her braids, if I braid it that same day. In the meanwhile, the puffs she loves so much taunt me. Daring me to wash them. (This is one of those times I thank God for our hair and the fact that we don't have to wash it every day.)
  • I should probably factor in the myriad of other events that crop up - The graduation dinner I went to last night for people I know who graduated from the business workshop I took years ago; the PTA meeting tonight, the hair appointment Friday night.
And at work?
  • There are columns to read and magically transform into whatever the focus du jour is at that time.
  • There's a whole website to periodically go through and keep track of.
  • New stuff to write.
  • Old stuff to update.
  • People to manage off site.
  • Questions to answer.
  • Info to research for various projects or quizzes or whatever needs to be created.
  • Newsletters to write.
  • And that's all just a bit of everything I do that I could easily do every day until at least 7 before going home to wrangle homework and force people to take their baths.

I should go to a couple of business networking meetings twice a month but I haven't the energy right now. I should go to my sorority meeting once a month, but I don't feel like tripping up to Hartford even that amount of time. Son's birthday is coming up. I really should start thinking. Daughter saw Dora on a billboard. I really should look into it or else cover up all the windows on the car except the front one. Valentine's Day is coming. I need to go order a cake from the one place I know will make it but it's a special trip, not a stop along any way I normally travel. I need to blog. Oh wait! I'm doing that now. Yay! I should visit my other online networking groups. Soon, I hope.

My fatigue, however, does not keep me or Bizzy Girl from thinking of ways to get the business to work itself while our children are taking over our lives. Her daughter's schedule is equal or greater than my two put together. We have a current idea that we are discussing and it's not a small step to make if we do it; if we can find the right person to do it with us and we have someone in mind but will he do it?

Now, in other news, Eve from Are We There Yet? graced me with an award almost 2 weeks ago! Finally I am able to mention it and thank her for it. She's cool people. A new friend I made in the webosphere. Here's my award. Cool, right?

Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received the award.

My ten won't be easy to compile because honestly, I don't really have time to follow 10! But the few I have - who actually update their blog that is - fit the bill so easily.
1 - YewNorkBabe
2 - LooneyMom
3 - SixUntilMe
4 - Hot Chocolate Caramel Mocha
5 - Nadine Thompson

All of these women are funny and/or engaging and/or inspiring and/or moms or a wonderful mix of some or all of these qualities. It will do your heart good to visit them all if you can find more time than I can to do it.

Break over. Thanks for helping me chill a bit. Back to work.

Have you voted for us today in the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!