Monday, January 30, 2012

remember yourself.

Having a bad night, and trying to remember the revelations that came in October, in the fog of potential lymphoma. Neurotic and overdramatic as it may have been, it was clarity. I only regretted two things: not having had a baby, and leaving J.J. alone in the world. That's it.

Remember that.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

desensitize yourself.

:: This post contains affiliate links.

Turns out I have more sensory sensitivities than just about any other grown-up I know. Someday I'll devote a post to explaining that if you try to scrub a carpet with a paper towel in my presence, I'm going to erupt in goosebumps and swallow the vomit that threatens to escape. And I'd love to plumb the depths of my lifelong sensory anomalies, including how they affected my motor milestones (crawling, bike-riding, shoe-tying) to the point where my pediatrician warned my parents that my literacy development would be severely delayed. First, though: my (!super-awesome!) psychosomatic response to certain words.

I know lots of poets and writers have visceral reactions to certain turns of phrase or evocative expressions. Maybe this awareness of a word's sensorial properties is hard-wired into the brain of a writer, I don't know. I do remember when my high school creative writing class was obsessed with the word evanescence (and yes, that was before the band). For months, every moody, maudlin poem we churned out incorporated that word. (I was one of the worst offenders in the "moody maudlin" category...see my poem entitled "moonbeam suicide" - title purposefully not capitalized - circa 1997 or so.) But evanescence...ah, it was just so good! Rolled off the tongue, looked pretty (visually, all the letters are on one level...no d's or g's gunking up the works), and had such an angsty definition. Perfection.

Certain sister-wives of mine who spent eight-plus hours a day with me for five years learned a thing or two about my word-reactions. Seriously, certain words affect me like fingernails on a chalkboard affect the general population. Eventually, I posted a list for Kristen to help her remember...just for fun. Not to control her verbal output or anything. Swear. :) Here it is, in all its idiosyncratic, weird-ass glory.

YES WORDS (a.k.a., words of sweet beauty):
  • blue
  • summer
  • happy
  • rainbow
  • strawberry
  • slob
  • baby
  • May
  • slander
  • luscious
  • sunshine
  • flawlessly

NO WORDS (a.k.a., words of shivery death):
  • mug
  • craft
  • snack
  • moist
  • dip
  • cloths
  • meal
  • mealy
  • sac

Some are contextual, like dip. "Delicious ranch dip" is perfectly fine; "take a dip in the pool" is akin to someone chewing on fabric with dry teeth (translation: goosebumps & vomit). Most have nothing at all to do with the definition, like slob, baby, or snack. I love snacks. LOVE snacks. But when all y'all Michiganders announce that it's snayck time, I want to grip your throat and smush your tongue and erase the sound forever. I know, I know - I'm a born and bred Michigander and probably make that long -a just as horrifically screechy as anyone else. But when you do it? SHIVERY DEATH IN MY EARS AND BRAIN. I know that moist is a trendy word to hate, and I do hate it - but not because of its meaning. It's the -oi in the middle, I think. Then again, maybe not; hoist is just fine. Who freaking knows.

Interestingly, I've read a lot on how many people with autism connect words, numbers, or days of the week with emotions, textures, or colors. Daniel Tammet, author of Born On A Blue Day, does an incredible job of explaining this phenomenon. Certainly I don't experience this the way that Mr. Tammet or others do, but I think I've had a small taste of it. If nothing else, his descriptions contribute to my theory that autism is, in essence, an extreme version of sensory dysfunction. That's another post for another day, but definitely one of my favorite topics ever.

Anyway! I don't necessarily avoid any of the "no" words, or go out of my way to use all my "yes" words in a sentence, and I'm not going to crucify you (or hug you) for using one or another. These words just are what they are: awesome, or abhorrent. Maybe it's a sign that I'm more or less evolved than others. ...Differently evolved. Yeah. Let's go with differently.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

congratulate yourself.

Dear Self,

Congratulations on pulling the damn trigger already. Now you have a fancy new toilet!

Ye olde potty.
La new toilette!
I'm actually not totally in love with it yet, and not because it's only a toilet. I think it's just the aesthetics - it has a cheap, fugly toilet seat, and the tank is just so...small. It's one-piece, too, which is just different from what I'm used to. That said, we're learning to love each other. The good news (besides the water savings, thanks to the 1.28-gallon tank) is that there wasn't any evidence of 50-year-old leaks or anything - the wood floor that we could see beneath the linoleum, around the flange (my new vocab word of the day), was dry as a bone and in perfect condition. Let's hope it stays that way!

We got help and moral support from our friend (and ex-next door neighbor), Chad. J.J. once helped his brother replace a toilet, but neither of us was really confident in our skillz. After hearing a slew of comments along the lines of, "Replacing a toilet is easy! Just don't forget to [clean the flange / measure the bolt distance / not lift the toilet to adjust after you put it down / etc.], or else you'll [have wicked basement leaks / flood your house / rue the day / etc.]," I thought we should call in reinforcements. Chad offered and was available this afternoon. Done.

This toilet has no idea what's about to happen. :(
Looks super awesome paired with Pink Sink, yeah?
While emptying Stinky Pinky in advance of removing it, I thought back on all the memories: My sister claiming there were invisible splashback remnants from the previous owner caked on the underside of the old wooden seat...replacing all the bathroom fixtures EXCEPT the toilet and sink in 2009...the Great Norovirus Attack of Fall 2010....

Now it's time to make a decision on the vanity. Needs to be as inexpensive as possible (which definitely means we'll be installing it ourselves again). And I need to find a disposal method for the old toilet. Guessing it won't really fare well on Craigslist (though, might give it a try: Vintage Pink Porcelain Wonder, anyone?); Chad wasn't sure if the Habitat ReStore would take it, since it's low-efficiency. Also? Looking to make some decisions on flooring for the kitchen/bathroom area:

A distinct possibility!
But for tonight? Purchase, transport, removal, installation, proper function. Yay! A win.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

push yourself.

:: This post contains affiliate links.

A couple winters ago, I found myself wallowing in the worst season of the year: Still-winter-and-not-even-close-to-summer. Especially in Michigan, this time of the year blows for those of us who thrive on sunshine and warmth. My sister-wife, Kristen, suggested I sign up with her for an exercise class through our local recreation center. I hesitated for a few reasons:
  1. I don't like to exercise.
  2. I don't like to pay money to exercise.
  3. I don't like to pay money to exercise with a group of people.
  4. I don't like to pay money to exercise with a group of people...at 8:00 on Saturday mornings.

But Kristen is realllly good at manipulating sweetly convincing me to submit (heh). She was the motivation I needed to get moving. The thing is, I just don't typically feel pressured to keep up with any sort of regular exercise routine. Whether I'm exercising or not, eating healthily or consuming six-pound bags of candy, running around all day at summer camp or sitting at my desk for eight hours, I pretty much stay around a certain weight, give or take five to ten pounds. (Don't worry...this is bound to catch up with me eventually.) Weight maintenance is why lots of people push themselves to exercise. Luckily, I had Kristen to help me remember the other benefits:
  • Tightening up - I might not gain a bunch of weight if I'm not exercising, but I do get kinda smushy.
  • Lightening up - i.e., letting the endorphins chase away my winter blues.
  • Nothing else really rhymes with those two things. But I'm sure there were other good reasons, too, along the lines of general health and wellness.

I was willing to give it a shot, so I signed up for step aerobics with Kristen...and about 20 other folks, most of whom were literally twice my age. And totally kicked my ass at step aerobics. But it was fun, and a challenging workout, and I didn't want to get on Kristen's naughty list, so I kept going (except in summertime, when I exercise all day, every day anyway, and when I need to sleeeeep on the weekends to make up for that constant exercise).

Exactly what I looked like every Saturday morning.
Totes available on Amazon.
Last year, some of my aerobics classmates organized a team through an exercise-incentive program that our place of employment hosts every winter. It's pretty sweet - you form a team and agree that each member will be active for a pre-determined number of minutes per day (and overall per week), and the teams who do the best at meeting their goals win a cash prize. MONEY: A new exercise motivator! Also, the free t-shirt. Really, though, for me, it was really the endless subconscious pursuit of perfection that was motivating: I didn't want to let the team down or be the one to mess everything up. That said, I may have, um, allowed some wiggle room in my definition of "exercise." To be fair, this program encourages participants to think outside the box in order to incorporate physical activity into daily life...but I'm not sure they would have agreed that sex counted. Or a brisk Swiffering session. Oh, well.

We're forming another team again this year, but I'm actually not enrolled in the step aerobics class currently. Kristen moved to D.C. last summer, and I really relied on her encouragement (and companionship. Awwww) to keep going. So this year will be an extra challenge for me - first of all, because I'm not in the aerobics class with my teammates, and second of all, I am currently exercising zero (0) minutes per week.

I came up with some daily exercise ideas, because I like to be a woman with a plan, and because it'll be easier to reach my weekly minute goal if I have lots of activity ideas:
  1. 60 minutes once a week of either a step aerobics class (drop-in) or racquetball. Because if it's good enough for senior citizens, it's bound to be my physical activity of choice.
  2. 40 minutes twice a week of the Insanity workout DVDs. I did Insanity for a month late last year, and it was...well, totally freaking insane. But effective. I obviously fell off the wagon, but I should be able to incorporate it twice a week.
  3. 30 minutes once a week of Wii fit (or 15 minutes twice a week). I literally jumped up and down when I got Wii Fit for Christmas from my sister a few years ago. Know how many times I've used it? Rhymes with "gyro."
  4. 20 minutes once a week of vigorous cleaning. Seriously, I reviewed the guidelines - scrubbing the floor or shoveling snow definitely count!
  5. 10 minutes on the days I don't do anything else dedicated to stretching/meditating. IT COUNTS. Or, at least, it should. 

That adds up to at least 200 minutes per week, and it meets the guidelines of 30 minutes at least three days out of every week. I'll be checking in weekly right here to track my progress. The great thing is, this all totally coincides with my grand "help yourself" project. Also? If I want to get knocked up anytime soon, it's probably better to be in shape beforehand. --Oh, right! Coming soon: My perceptions on conception. Because what's better than reading about my family planning? You know you can't wait. :) But in the meantime, I have some leftover Pizza Hut cheesy breadsticks to eat for dinner. Pre-fetuses love salty grease, right?

organize yourself.

I'm kind of the opposite of a hoarder (compulsive de-clutterer?), so I'm not talking about organizing, like, my medicine cabinet. I'm talking about organizing my neighbors. By trade, I'm a community organizer (just, um, slightly less effective, powerful, and famous as another community organizer you've probably heard of before). Six years after finishing my graduate degrees, I'm not a community organizer the way I thought I'd be (the Saul Alinsky of early childhood? Not so much), but I do spend my days working to mobilize people and enable grassroots change.

Just, you know...for everyone but myself.

Here's the thing. Part of the manifestation of my anxiety disorder is a wee bit of social anxiety.* (Really a good thing for a SOCIAL WORKER, I know. Whatevs.) Two and a half years ago, we moved into our dream neighborhood - a solidly middle-class grid of wide, quiet streets, with parks and playgrounds around every corner. And the residents? A huge range of skin colors, languages spoken, family configurations, religious backgrounds, physical ability, and front-lawn-veggie-garden proclivity. Like the 92-year-old woman from whom we bought our house, a lot of the residents here are the original homeowners. Seeing that the neighborhood was developed in the mid-'60s, the translation of that is: lots of elderly people. But as these folks move on to other housing options (condos, nursing homes, that great neighborhood in the sky), young families are moving in. I see them everywhere - walking their dogs, pushing their babies' strollers, chasing after bikes with training wheels. They generally look super nice and non-murdery. (Really, spellcheck? You'll call out "whatevs," but not "murdery"?)

I know I should just strike up a conversation with someone - anyone! After all, I keep complaining that it's really hard to make friends in your late 20s early 30s (yikes), and the truth of it is, the neighborhood is now my dorm/bar/school/workplace - the setting in which I'm supposed to meet new people. But that's been really hard to do without the buffer of a kid or a dog to start up a conversation.

So, as a community organizer, the next logical step is to (wait for it)...organize the community. A game night, a picnic, anything. The devil, as they say, has been in the details:

  • Do we have to invite their kids? Will anyone come if kids aren't allowed?
  • Will it be weird if we're the only ones without kids, if kids are invited?
  • Should we borrow our nieces/nephews and pretend they're ours so we fit in?
  • Is that weirder or not as weird as shoving a sack of flour into a Baby Bjorn and covering it with a blanky and pretending it's our newborn who never grows or ages?
  • Where do we hold such an event? In Ann Arbor, the great outdoors is not really an option for three-quarters of the year, but do I really want all you weirdos (non-murdery though you may be) in my house?
  • What if you're all annoying?

Our neighborhood actually already holds a number of community events - a July Fourth open-swim/picnic at the pool, a fall festival with cider and doughnuts, a Halloween parade, a big garage sale - but again, I kind of feel like all of these things center around kids. I like kids - they're my fave and all - but it's hard to attend events like these prior to procreating.

I know there are other childless couples in the neighborhood. I've seen them walking around with nary a sling or pram in sight. Unless they're leaving their progeny home alone or in the care of an extra-responsible pet (and hey, who am I to judge? ...Oh, yeah, a mandated reporter), I really think they just might not have kids. I have nothing against my neighbors WITH kids - I just feel like there are other childless peeps out there who are looking for awesome friends like us. Likewise, I have nothing against parents. Some of my best friends are parents. But wouldn't it be nice to connect with some other couples in the same stage of life as us?

It's probably bad taste to post a sign all over the neighborhood that says something like:

Super Awesome Party Tonight!
Please, no children.
In fact...no parents, either.
Actually? What we're really looking for are neighborhood dwellers who are
post-college and pre-baby, enjoy Settlers of Catan, and spend untold hours
staring into space while holding a jug of milk, marveling that they let people
like all of us live day-to-day lives unsupervised.

Sigh. Looks like it's sack-of-flour-in-the-Baby-Bjorn time back to creepily staring out my window at the neighbors all having fun together without me the drawing board.

*Okay, can I just say that I just found this definition of social anxiety, and all of a sudden, so many things make sense? The blushing, sweating, and trembling, in particular. Son of a puppy. I never knew. But why did this all develop after grad school? And why does it happen in situations where I'm not even consciously anxious? Seriously: Normal, non-stressful conversations can = flaming red face and sweating buckets. wtf...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

relieve yourself.

I'm having a really hard time making decisions about house stuff. I think I mentioned yesterday the connection between that and my perfectionism, but for real, it's time to just pull the trigger already and decide. These are not life-altering choices; I'm talking about potties. So, Cathy, relieve yourself of the decision-making pressure and pick a new throne upon which to...relieve yourself.
source: www.lowes.com

And a vanity to accompany such a beauteous (and environmentally friendly) loo? PULL THE TRIGGER.

(Insert online-window-shopping time warp here)

...Okay, see? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS! I went to upload a picture of a potential pedestal sink, and BAM - all of a sudden, I'm bombarded by images of bath vanities at lower prices, and 20 minutes of fixture-perusing ensues, and I'm back at square one: Do I want a pedestal sink or a vanity for my teeny-tiny first-floor bathroom? (Both of these options are also from Lowe's.)

Admittedly, pretty much anything will be better than our current situation:

Pretty, eh? Yeah. Pretty outdated. Obviously, space is tight (and I don't mean "tight" like "awesome," like our uber-tight pink toilet and sink) in our main floor bathroom, but it would be nice to have a little bit of storage in the form of the shaker-style vanity. Then again, it's probably not worth it if it makes the room feel even smaller. 

One thing I allllmost pulled an actual trigger on was flooring for the kitchen and bathroom. Right now, it's all the green-and-beige-square-patterned linoleum (at least, I think it's linoleum...how do you tell?!). It always looks dirty, it's chipped in spots, and it's probably original to the 1966 house. I thought this would look better with the soon-to-be white bath pieces and kitchen cabinets:

{ETA: This tile is now called Armstrong Terraza Patina Shale
Peel-and-Stick Stone Residential Vinyl Tile
. Still available at Lowe's.}
It definitely would hide evidence of heavy traffic, which is important in any kitchen, but especially ours - our most-used entry door (from the garage) is in the kitchen, and it's the literal center of our house, and...well...it's a KITCHEN. Lots of stuff happens in it! At 99 cents a square foot (again at Lowe's...looks like the promotional emails I unknowingly subscribed to are workin'), you can't beat the price. We have over 200 square feet to re-floor, so whatever we get needs to be relatively affordable. Anyway, tile would be too cold on our feet in our already-chilly house (and probably too hard on any future toddler heads that might slip onto it), and hardwood just seems like a foolish choice for a kitchen (see: aforementioned heavy traffic). We have hardwood throughout the entire rest of the house, and I gotta say, I think it's overrated anyway. It scratches, it dents, it's cold, it's hard, it fades, and damn if it isn't awful to accidentally fall asleep on. Yes, I take frequent, unplanned naps. Sometimes on the floor (at least, I used to in our carpeted apartment).

Um, anyway. So I like the floor above: Armstrong Terraza Patina Shale Stone Residential Vinyl Tile (just rolls right off the tongue, no? NO), the peel-and-stick kind. Unfortunately, I've read that vinyl is the worst environmental choice (need to find a good online source for this, but I think I originally read it in Consumer Reports...which I was reading while curled up in bed one night. What? The 2011 kitchen edition was super sexy). Also, it got pretty good reviews, but not entirely.

I am totally avoiding making a decision by blabbering about it. So here I go. I'm going to buy the toilet and a sample of the flooring (not ready to figure out the vanity yet...want to view in person). Captain CBT says, "What's the worst that could happen?" The worst that could happen is that I don't like them and need to return them - which I can do for free at Lowe's. I'm having them delivered to the store for pick-up, so shipping is free, too. All right...here I go.

P.S. "Whiiiine, whiiiine, which new house updates should I get?" What up, first-world problems?
P.P.S. We won't mention the 15 minutes that were just lost to countertop searching. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

surround yourself.

Really, I wanted to start helping myself and stuff. But, in case you can't tell, this is not exactly the kind of space that stoked my creativity:

Our only computer. In our kitchen. Which is the hub of the house, and not so pretty (yet).
So thanks to a bunch of Pinspiration photos, I spent about a week (after work and on the weekend) turning this:

...into this:

That first picture was actually taken in summer of 2009, when we moved into this house. The middle of three upstairs bedrooms, we thought for SURE the purple room would be tackled before anything else - you know, to mask the obnoxious lavender. Well, turns out we (I?) actually gravitate towards the colors we once defined as obnoxious.

Current color of the family room
Wall of Green Indecision in the kitchen, right before we
ended up painting it...bright blue (more on that another time)

The purple room is still purple, but it's been reinvented a few times since we moved in. Initially, it was the office/where-the-hell-do-we-put-this room...

...And then we swapped furniture with the room next door, thereby turning the purple room into the guest room. And by guest room, I mean "room with a futon and a bunch of crap shoved in the closet." It stayed that way for a long time (maybe a year and a half?), until my brother announced that he and his wife and baby girl would be staying with us for a month last fall. AWESOMENESS, but that meant I needed to upgrade the room a little bit. Like by adding some non-sheer curtains (as most guests prefer that my neighbors not get to know them, shall we say, intimately. My neighbors probably agree). So, better curtains were added, furniture was rearranged, and - most importantly, as it leads directly into its current incarnation - the closet was emptied of its super-random contents (comic books, dead computer, Incredible Hulk action figure, box o'angsty high school memories).

Aaaand then Holiday Break 2011 hit. A week and a half of sleeping in, followed by a nap (yep), after which I plowed my way through my six-pound bag of candy, followed by another nap, intertwined with reading. Reading all about dreams, and making them come true. And I don't mean my childhood, scary-ass Freddy Krueger dreams (dude. The thing about that? HE KILLS YOU IN YOUR DREAMS. I was right to be afraid). I mean dreaming about the future, about my career goals, about what I wanted to be when I was a kid and how that does or doesn't coincide with my daily life now, at age 31. 

What's missing from my grown-up life? Somewhere along the way, I left behind my creative outlets. Writing, drawing, music, acting - even my job has gotten to a place where I no longer have the time or resources to continue developing new programs. Instead, I have to farm out my current babies (meaning my programs and pet projects...not the actual infants with whom I work) and delegate responsibilities and say "no" to myself and others when new ideas are floated. Sucky. And stifling.

But who's stopping me from writing? No one. There was one obstacle which kept me from translating any thoughts from pen-and-paper to the internets, though:

Might be kind of difficult to tell from the pictures, but the computer was in the middle of the kitchen. Which is in the middle of the house and opens up directly to our family room. We probably spend 90% of our awake-at-home-hours (so, you know, like, two hours per day...) in this general area, cooking, eating, watching television, staring at stuff (Kim Jong-Il-style) (I hope that's the last time in this blog I liken us to Kim Jong-Il). Not the most conducive environment for writing, or creativity in general.

source: ragebuilder.com
I'd been wanting to upgrade the desk for a while anyway, and I'll find any excuse to locate the right shade of green paint (see aforementioned Wall of Green Indecision, Kitchen Version). The purple room doesn't get used very much, and it has the second-biggest closet after the master bedroom, sooo...voila!

First, I cleared off the kitchen desk and removed the top. It wasn't attached, so all I had to do was lift it off the tops of the two file cabinets. I set up my super-totally-convenient-unless-you-actually-live-in-this-house workshop...

Yeah, this is our front room. As in, by the front door. As in,
the first room you see when you walk in the house. Perfect
for setting up tarps and getting sawdust everywhere.
...and took a good, hard look at the desktop. We got it from my mother-in-law before I started grad school, so HOLY MOTHER-IN-LAW, THAT WAS EIGHT YEARS AGO. It's seen better days (i.e., 1993 or something). The faux-wood veneer has been peeling forever, which was something fun to mess around with a terrible distraction while I was trying to write 20-page papers about organizing communities to overhaul the early childhood education system in the U.S. based on developmentally appropriate international models of toddler trauma interventions of...right. So I peeled it some. But with the desktop perched upon my trusty sawhorses (is that even what those things are called?), lo and behold, I was able to peel back the layers of the proverbial social work onion of truth the faux-wood veneer to reveal...

Ta-da! Just plain wood. Or maybe particle board. Again. Not familiar with fancy proper terms (like...wood). I tested out some primer on one edge of the stripped desktop, as you can see in the picture above, just to make sure it would accept the paint. It totally did, and one coat of primer...

...two coats of paint...

...and one coat of polyacrylic later, I had a clean, smooth, modernized desktop for my new closet-office. Now all I needed? A closet to turn into an office.

Purple room closet, after moving out the enormous dresser and removing
the clothes bar that had been nailed to the front of the lower shelf.
I tested out a little purple (hence the weird smear of lavender on the side of the closet up there). Purple test: Fail. Green it was. So after sanding and priming, I tested out a couple greens (I'm telling you, it's damn hard to get green right!):

Actually only two shades of green, just
in different locations to test the light.
We needed an outlet in the closet, since the closest one is a few feet away and would create an unsightly mess of cords along the floor. A family member helped us out with that step.

After J.J. totally surprised me by having the right opinion (yep...the "right" opinion) on a shade of green, it was time to paint.

After the first of three freakin' coats. THREE. Oh, green.
Ay, but she's worth it, no? Green, you saucy temptress.
The final result? Lovvvvvve. Totally cannot stop staring at it (there I go again...Kim Jong-Cathy: Looking at green. Looking at lamp. Looking at shelf.).

We still need to add a couple floating shelves underneath the built-in shelves - and, you know, put all of our stuff in there (printer, candy, tchotchkes...the essential elements of any home office) - but for now? Love. It was enough to get me blogging, so I am definitely calling this one a win.

help yourself.

It just keeps surprising me over and over: I have a wicked perfectionist streak. If you know me, you're like, "Duh." But to me, I guess it's the not streak that's so surprising; it's how it truly arrests me - how I'm held back from pursuing risky (and not-so-risky) ventures, and how it feeds a vicious struggle within me. How, yeah, it has so far stopped me from publishing any of the myriad blog posts I've started.

So now I'm doing the thing I'm afraid of most. Things, I guess, because I'm also an extremist, so there are lots of "things I'm afraid of most." It's scary to start publicly sharing myself via a medium that is, by nature, a living document. Were I to publish a memoir, I could craft it for months or years, edit and revise it, add a chapter in the middle and a proper epilogue to wrap things up. Blogs...are not so much like that. But I'm learning that if it's scary because it's challenging my perfectionism, then I ought to do it. Just for the sake of doing it.

2011 kinda blew, for lots of reasons. But at the end of December, during my week-long break from work, while I spent my days intermittently napping, reading, and eating a six-pound bag of candy (Christmas present, yo), I had a series of super awesome revelations. You know, along the lines of "...what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life" (Mary Oliver) and chasing dreams and figuring out what the hell my dreams even are. And for the first time in so, so long, it felt like something loosened in my chest. I returned to my "essential self," as Martha Beck would call it: the person I've always been, but who has diminished or dwindled in the face of social conventions and adult pressures. I came into adulthood in the last couple years, but did so kicking and screaming (mostly secretly, quietly, because for sure I had to present the facade of perfect transition), and now that I've reconnected with my essential self? It feels like the light has returned. Hence, returnoflight.blogspot.com (um, that's this page right here), with the header-reminder: Help Yourself.

In social work school, the mantra was repeated incessantly: You can't help someone until they're ready to be helped. Finally, after all this time, I'm ready to help myself. I've got the plans all set to go (what's up, Type A?), and I plan on documenting it all here. You might think I'm way over-sharing, that my social filter has completely dissolved. You might be right. But this one's for me, and you know what? I DO want to know about my journey into parenthood, from going off the birth control pill to losing my mucus plug to corralling my toddlers. I DO want to remember the steps I take to meet my MHealthy exercise goals so as not to disappoint my step aerobics classmates (Box the Sashay, baby). And I DO want to have a record of my home improvement projects, including a whole blog entry on the benefits and drawbacks of various cabinet pulls for the kitchen.

So here we go. Regular chronicles of me helping myself, focusing on certain topics: mental health (a.k.a. adventures in anxiety disorder), physical health (because it's inextricably intertwined with mental health, and given my mental state up until recently, it's no shock that there was not one day in 2011 when I wasn't physically ill or hurt in some way), the journey into parenthood (those birth control pills? Haven't taken them in almost a month [but dear god NO, I am not pregnant yet]), and definitely the most earth-shattering topic of all: interior design!

I've been my own worst enemy. Maybe if I can reach a state of frenemyship...that's at least a start. So rather than waiting for this blog to be the perfect record of how I crawled out of the dark and into the light, it's just here. Imperfections and all.


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