I had this card idea for my hubby in mind for a year, and I finally put it to paper. Happy Father's Day to my wonderful guy, and to all the other Super Dads out there!
For most people, the period between Mother's Day and Memorial Day is a pretty unassuming time. For me, however, one date holds much significance, as on that date my life was forever changed. It's a day I've nicknamed my personal "Mother's Memorial Day". On May 20th, 2014, I suffered a miscarriage, and lost the baby that had spent almost 11 weeks inside of me.
This weekend marks 3 years since that traumatic day. The time that followed was a difficult one for me. One thing that came to light is how common this experience is. I was very lucky to have had a few close friends who were open about their miscarriages to confide in. However, I was shocked to find out how many of my other friends had suffered through this experience, but did not talk about it. If had known that before, I wouldn't have felt like such a failure as I was going through it.
I was determined to share my story, in as open and as graphic a way as possible, so that others wouldn't have to suffer alone. I received a small grant from the ROI Schusterman Foundation to hire filmmaker and writer Keren Hantman to edit my cartoon, as well as writer Eli Schiff (who also happens to be one heckuva husband). Keren and I hope to continue sharing more stories via comics about childbirth, infertility, IVF, stillbirth, and other traumas women bravely endure with silence.
For now, here's my story. Please share your stories as well, and let's continue the dialogue together. It's 2017. Nobody should be suffering alone.
Occasionally, one's spouse says wise things.
Something I'm Thankful For: The kindness of others. When I first posted about this blog, a friend asked if she could help in any way. I asked her if she could host my family for a Shabbat lunch, since we have not been invited out very much this summer. It turned into a day long event, and many friends ended up stopping by the house we were at, so we got to catch up with a lot of friends. The kids also were occupied the whole day, so it was an all-around successful day.
Challenge O' The Day: Overcoming my own exhaustion to begin hosting a big Shabbat meal again. I like doing it, but between the finances and missing being in NY over the summer to have meals by our families, I’ve been focusing on what we’ve been lacking rather than the positives that we do have.
Lesson Learned: “You either make it happen, or you don’t” – Hubby, to me after rattling off all the reasons why it would be more difficult now hosting people for a Shabbat meal.
Daily Insight: There are a lot of things on my plate these days, the not being able to work taking up the most space. But I can’t forget to live. I’ll try to take hubby’s words to heart, and try not to let my life go by without forgetting to make things happen.
Have I ever mentioned that I hate teething? Yeah, I hate teething.
Something I'm Thankful For: Hubby who can cook, and who can cook quickly so when I can’t do it he can pick up the slack.
Challenge O' The Day: Passed out in son’s bed while putting him to sleep. Woke up at 9:30 PM, exhausted, wondering about whether to do work or start Sabbath dinner cooking. Baby girl woke up 2 minutes later. Decided to ditch doing work and cooking to go back to sleep, but couldn’t fall asleep until after 1 am. Baby girl woke up at 3:10…then 3:40…then 4:10… 4:50, so on and so forth. So trying to work on top of this all was fun!
Lesson Learned: When you plan your schedule with two little kids, plan to laugh at yourself and your situation.
Daily Insight: I don't even know how I made it through the day but I did. Thank G-d for Sabbath, a night that I can go to sleep early and try to remotely make up for the lost sleep.
I’ve been told by numerous sources recently that my son desperately needs some one on one mommy time. I’ve been trying to focus on that a lot this week, and I definitely a relief that he’s been acting out a little less and listening a little more. Granted, there are still plenty of those 3-year-old moments, but I feel like it’s been a lot more manageable.
Something I'm Thankful For: A son who is both highly energetic and loves to read. We went to his school 2-hour orientation for kids today so he could meet some of his classmates and hang out in school. The school has a terrific new library that has so many fantastic books, and he spent the first 40 minutes there. It’s a relief to know that there are (non-technological) things that can keep his entertainment and concentration going for such long periods.
Challenge O' The Day: Being a mommy and being a working woman. It was so great spending the first half of my work day seeing my son super happy in his school environment. But that meant I only had half a day to do my work, which was already floundering this week.
Lesson Learned: When I got married at 25, I was once told “But I thought you were a career-oriented person”. When I was pregnant with my oldest, I was once told “So, I guess your life is now over”. Every time I choose my family over my work, these comments and others pop into my head. But one of the joys of parenthood is getting to see your kids thrive. By making sure that I spent time with my son at his school, I can now be extra confident that he will be having an awesome year, and he is now excited for the school year as well. I also had two play dates lined up for him after school, and he totally listened to me to the point that I asked hubby to pick up his favorite food for him for dinner (sushi). Through all the stress, it’s so nice having one victory, and while I’m sure tomorrow will be very different, today was a parenting win. And I’m learning to make that a priority.
Daily Insight: Every day is a balancing battle for me, but I today for a brief moment I felt like the best parent, without the guilt. While I’ll miss sleeping in (which I got to do when my mom was in town), I think my kids are happy to have their mom time first thing in the morning and their routine back. It’s nice to be loved by your kids, and to realize how important you really are to them. So today, Motherhood wins with a knockout punch!
I knew yesterday was going to be a tough day. Schedule was jam packed, Mom left, and my “Mommy brain” was in full drive.
Something I'm Thankful For: Good, creative, productive collaborative coffee meetings. Bonus points for it being with another creative mama.
Challenge O' The Day: Did I mention my mom was leaving? And that we thought it was a late night flight but it was actually at 5:20 PM? And we have only one car, which hubby is now taking to work every day to the Valley. The day was basically a series of rearranging my day. Essentially, the day was a giant game of schedule Tetris.
Lesson Learned: When I went to my son’s parents’ orientation night, which I totally did not know about (opening up the school e-mails about important upcoming dates might have helped), I mentioned to a girlfriend how I was excited to be out. Her response of “You need to get out more” pretty much says a lot. But the open school night was a moment of triumph for me that I couldn’t really express why until now. I’m super excited for the school year for my son. He is having the absolute best teachers for him, and a fantastic bunch of classmates. Last year we had to bounce him between 3 schools in 2 months, and it was incredibly stressful dealing with a school that was toxic and couldn’t handle him well. I was told twice that he had “boundless energy” and that he needed occupational therapy. To me, and to other professional educators whom I deeply trust, he was simply a highly energetic almost-3-year-old boy. Knowing that he is in the perfect school environment, surrounded by good kids, and one in which I personally have a lot of friends who send their kids there, is a huge sigh of relief. Additionally, my baby girl’s nanny is incredible. We went through so much stress and drama over the last year finding (and then waiting) for the perfect person, and dealing with a whole lot of sour lemons in between. Having someone who is actually trustworthy, helpful, and can drive (especially now that hubby can’t take my son to school in the morning), is also a HUGE weight off my chest. I appreciate my kids being in great hands more than I can say, especially dealing with the guilt of having to work and not watch them 24/7.
Daily Insight: Every time my mom leaves, I get a little sad and reflective. It seems that every time a parent visits, I have a list of goals I hope to accomplish during that period of time, when I have extra hands and don’t have to pay a sitter. But alas, as they say, “Man plans and G-d laughs”. I should have learned by now never to set up goals for things I want to accomplish while my mom is here. Granted, a lot of my work was stunted because of my computer malfunctioning, but it always makes me feel like a failure when I don’t accomplish what I set out to do. Just have to keep moving forward.
I decided to shake it up a little today by keeping track of all of the positive and negative events that happened to me throughout the day. The theory I was testing was that if there are too many negative emotions that would negatively impact my day, that I could add a few positive items to make sure that the positives outweighed the negatives. I would rate each event on a scale from 1-10, with each event that made my feel unhappy on a negative scale, and with each event that affected my mood in a good way on a positive scale. If an event was neutral and didn’t impact my mood, I didn’t count it at all. Read on below.
Something I'm Thankful For: Numbers and lists. I enjoy them, and was looking forward to trying this experiment for the day. I know a few of you thought it sounded awful, but I was totally excited to try it!
Challenge O' The Day: Trying out this theory! Here are all the events that stood out in my day:
Not feeling sick: +3
Heard of beloved actor Steven Hill’s death: -1
Took care of NCS work: +2 (feeling accomplished)
Heard of prominent Jewish figure Rebbetzin Jungreis’s death: -2
Had son get angry at me because I couldn’t play with him: -1
Planning first group movie outing in LA for Floyd Norman’s documentary: +1
Launched new Kickstarter Campaign: +3
Hubby started new job: +5
Got to take son out for one-on-one time at the park: +3
Made new “mommy friends” and set up future play date: +2
Went to goodbye party for friends: -1
Got to walk home with a friend and have offer to help organize the house, KonMarie method: +2
New tablet arrived surprisingly early: +5
Tablet didn’t work, realizing it may be my computer that is not working: -10 :-(
Tally at end of day: +11
Lesson Learned: While the day was going very well overall (the best news being that hubby got a job! It’s not exactly what he was looking for but it’s something, and the people are really nice!) the last bit of news that my computer may be the problem and not my tablet really overshadowed a lot because of all the setbacks it would cause me to find a new job, and would set all my freelance work back for an undetermined amount of time. I can’t work on my storyboard portfolio until the Cintiq is fixed, and the salary from hubby’s new job is still not enough to cover bills. Plus, the news came so late at night that all I wanted to do was go straight to bed and not worry about making the day “better”. So I would say that today’s experiment did not work when dealing with creating a more positive attitude. But it was definitely a fun attempt!
Daily Insight: While this was a noble experiment that I’m glad I tried, it’s not something I would try again too quickly. It may work on a calmer day when a less devastating blow like “you may need to drop $2,500 for a new laptop” is not the final blow of the day. It was refreshing to try a new method though, and I can’t wait to start reading some of the new books I took out of the library to learn more insightful tips.
I’m more than halfway done with the challenge! Definitely feeling some improvements overall. I do have really low lows, and I still haven’t made significant headway with controlling my emotions. I do see the most improvement on how I reconfigure plans and expectations when things don’t work out as planned. I most need improvement on how to answer the question “How are you doing?”... When people ask me in person, I need to figure out a response that does not involve me spilling out all my emotions. Is it better to say “OK!” and move on, or to open up a bit? Hmm. Something I need to marinate on. Finding the balance is key, but I never believe in being false. I really hate finding out that a friend had been through a rough time and I could have helped in some way, but instead find out about it afterward. But I also don't want to be a permanent Debbie Downer. That's not my nature, and it's been very odd feeling like that lately in a way I haven't been able to shake off quickly.
Something I'm Thankful For: Saltines and water with fresh ginger thrown in. The nausea from last night’s fried dessert bonanza has made me feel so awful, and other than a bowl of soup consume that a neighbor forced me to have, crackers and water are all I've been able to stomache!
Challenge O' The Day: Functioning on no appetite and the aforementioned nausea all day. Fun times!
Lesson Learned: On the plus side, I now have zero interest for any fried foods for a while. My diet is thanking me!
Daily Insight: Feeling lousy and having to work is a bad combination. I've been thinking of the challenge I had when I feel myself getting snippy, to recognize my action and nip it in the bud. Obviously, I never fully expect to be "perfect", that's certainly not my goal. I just want to get to a place where I can feel like I fully respect myself, and recognize how to handle the different sides that rear their ugly heads, and especially when the chips are down. I've taken some books out of the library about optimism and positivity, so I'm hoping they can offer some insight into it. Looking forward to hitting the books!
With one parent down I’ve had double duty this weekend (but at least my mom’s still here)! So I had to combine the weekend’s posts into one.
Something(s) I'm Thankful For: A park a few blocks away that the kids love. We try to go there every week around the same time, and we usually bump into friends so it becomes a big impromptu play date! Also, I have pretty good luck with winning tickets given away from radio shows. Last month I won a 4-pack of tickets to the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival, an art fest I first attended during a weekend getaway with hubby for our first anniversary. Going to Laguna is a totally relaxing experience, and I was looking forward to bringing my mom and another dear friend for a one day escape, which would totally include a stop at the beach afterwards if we could squeeze it in. (For the record, we did!)
Challenge O' The Day/Weekend: Hubby ended up feeling sick all weekend, so he got lots of rest in and had to pass on the Laguna outing. On the positive side, it meant that my girlfriend was able to join us in one car for the Laguna drive, so it was a very fun girl’s day out (plus my son, of course!)
Lessons Learned: It would have been nice for hubby to have taken the kids for their first time to a location that we hold dear, but instead of focusing on how sad I’d be to be going without him, I focused on how fun the opportunity for a Girls’ Day Out trip would be! Also, when I realized the fest also takes place on weekends in November/December, I suggested to him that we go then, which seemed to have cheered him up! I’m already looking forward to going again with him and the kids in the fall, so that’s one event I have to look forward to already later in the year.
Oh, and when hubby was feeling well enough on Sunday he helped out a friend who was working at a local café. Hubby brought back extra pastries – lots and lots of them! Which I thought I would put in my “Something I’m Thankful For” section, until I ate too much and started feeling pretty sick. Oy, no more fried desserts for me for a while, thank you! So the lesson there is if your significant other brings home free boxes of doughnuts, churros, muffins, and other delectables, PACE YOURSELF!!!!
Daily Insight: Definitely another good day. The fest was harder for the kids, although a lady giving out animal balloons, a free booth to make your own clay bowl, and some ice cream for my older child definitely helped keep them satisfied. One thing I realized is that if I want to do something fun that the kids don't appreciate (such as actually get to see the artwork at the Festival booths), keep that activity to half a day and plan another activity for them to let loose and run around, without me having to shout "Don't touch that!" every few minutes. Definitely a successful day!
One of those days that STARTED out great…and somewhere along the way ended up dealing with a little bit of stress and a LOT of baby vomit.
Something I'm Thankful For: The Discovery Cube. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a wonderful children’s museum that’s also super fun for adults (now with 3 locations in SoCal). If you’re from NY like me, it’s similar to Liberty Science Center, which I had not gone to in decades but remembered having the best time there! We’re so glad we became Cube members for two years, and we've already taken advantage of it! Plus there are so many wonderful changing exhibits we can look forward to, like Lego and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ones! …Oh yeah, the kids are looking forward to them too!
Challenge O' The Day: Trying to have a happy anniversary, while dealing with one exhausted mama (my mom, not me! Although I’m always exhausted these days too…), a baby girl who threw up 3 times (twice in one car ride! A household record!), and disappointing news regarding my new Wacom Cintiq. I was supposed to receive a new one within a week, so I was trying to enjoy as much of my mom’s stay and my son’s vacation time by planning fun outings guilt-free, knowing that by early next week my tech woes would be resolved. Turns out, I was misinformed. I am first supposed to RETURN a defected tablet on my dime, then wait 6-7 business days for everything to be processed so I can receive a brand new tablet. Well, I can’t work on my storyboard projects without this Cintiq. “Perfect timing”, with hubby still out of work.
Lesson Learned: I guess the positivity has helped me cope better with frustrating kid episodes (aka “The Throw-Up”) than big tech problems (aka “My Wacom Woes"). Handled the baby throw up with patience and no freaking out, which I may have done before the Positive Parenting class and my 30 day challenge. (Especially since it happened in the car…my poor son had to sit next to The Scene of the Crime for a good 15 minutes at least until we were able to pull over somewhere, then again for a similar stretch after we cleaned everything up just to have another explosion). However, the news about the tablet was super upsetting, and I did not handle it well. However, I was persistent with Wacom’s customer service, and now they’re sending me a new Cintiq before I have to return my old Cintiq. Which will only take yet another 6-7 business days… again. *Le sigh* Looking into purchasing an iPad Pro in the meantime, which my art friends have been giving rave reviews, but hesitant to drop down another grand until I’m sure of which version to get.
Daily Insight: Today had so many highs (anniversary date, flowers and cards from hubby, spending quality time with the kids at a really fun museum we love), and lows (let’s see, I mentioned the throwing up…the Cintiq scenario…Oh I definitely didn’t mention having to buy new books for the library for ones we are positive we returned to the library book drop yet somehow got lost… yay for more expenses!) I did think of an interesting way to keep days on the positive side of things: I think I’m going to assign points to every even that happens throughout the day, positive and negative. At the end of the day I will tally the results, and if it’s in the negative (more bad things happened that day than good) I will try to do enough positive things to balance out the day. For example, let’s say eating ice cream would merit 2 points, and dealing with throw up would be -3 points. I’d still be in the “red” by -1 point, so maybe at the end of the day I’ll put on a favorite TV episode (worth 2 points) and I’ll be on the positive side of things again! Should be an interesting way of dealing with my life on a daily basis, and I’m excited to try it out.
August 19th marks 6 years since hubby and I tied the knot. 6 tends to be a lucky number for me, so hopefully our 6th anniversary will bring us luck! (Although 2016 hasn’t quite shaped up the way I’d hoped so far, but it’s still got plenty of time to turn around!)
Something I'm Thankful For: Hubby being cool enough to step out of his element a little. Okay, a LOT. I’ve always wanted to take dance lessons, so we thought it would be fun and romantic to take some Swing Dance classes. I bought a 4 pack of lessons from Groupon for a class that had 100% positive feedback (unheard of!), and we were going to kick off the first one the night before our anniversary.
Challenge O' The Day: Planning a romantic dance night, then realizing that the class involves constantly swapping partners. Whoops. Well, at least I now understand how the term “Swingers” has originated, right? O_o
Lesson Learned: Note to self: when ordering classes on Groupon, be sure it’s exactly what you’re looking for. The teachers are a whole lot of fun and are excellent instructors (with all my terrible mommy brain that I have going on, I didn’t forget the dance steps as soon as I walked out the door! That’s a major plus). I really enjoyed them, but it wasn’t quite what hubby and I were expecting. At least we could laugh about it while going out for a pre-anniversary dinner afterward! (Special thanks to my mom who babysat and my in-laws who treated us on their dime!)
Daily Insight: 6 years into our marriage, and it’s nice to know we have plenty of fresh, fun new activities to plan together. Such as finding a dance class where we can actually dance together! (If hubby will ever give me liberty to let me plan that again…)
A day I *definitely* needed.
Something I'm Thankful For: A dear friend who works for the Disney family and can get friends in for free to Disneyland. :-) We had a much-needed day at the happiest place on Earth, which was absolutely fantastic.
Challenge O' The Day: To spend the day focusing on FUN and not stressing about all the work I should be doing.
Lesson Learned: Days when the kids both behave, plans go smoothly, and fun is had by all still do exist. They are blissfully wonderful and should be treated like the extra precious miracles that they are.
Daily Insight: Disneyland is a luxury that most people don’t get to experience. We have been fortunate since we moved out to LA to have a couple of friends who were able to get us in for free. This trip was the first time that we’d gone when the kids were old enough to actually appreciate it. (Previously, we’d taken Jakey when he was 4 months and 11 months, so now is the first time he’ll truly remember it, and it's Bailey's first time ever). Disney and Universal theme parks have always been a major part of my childhood. Even when my family struggled financially growing up, my parents made sure to provide so many fun memories that we almost never realized we were lacking anything. We would make our annual pilgrimage to Florida (roughly a 16 hour drive from our house in NY) to go to the parks. So for me, figuring out how to have fun during the kids' vacation time without hurting our budget is imperative. It is possible though to have high fun on a low budget - will keep looking around for more opportunities!
Well, yesterday began innocently enough. Not quite the ending that I expected…
Something I'm Thankful For: Great clients, who are considerate and appreciative of the work that I do. Especially the ones who are very understanding when my Wacom Cintiq Tablet suddenly stops working during our weekly work session. :-D
Challenge O' The Day: My #1 art supply is my Wacom Cintiq. For those of you who don’t know what it is, the Cintiq is a tablet that hooks up to your computer and acts like a second monitor that you can also draw on with a pen. I’ve spent the last two years transitioning to working almost exclusively on it. However, I have also spent the last couple of years dealing with an issue where my screen fades in and out of working. I’ve called customer service several times about this issue, but it wasn’t until I was on the verge of finishing a project with a client on a project I've been working on since March that my tablet decided to completely go haywire and stop working. Customer service initially said that it would take a month for them to repair my tablet, which was just “perfect timing” for me right now, y’know, with the job situation and all. Just peachy.
Lesson Learned: Yesterday my challenge was "Releasing Expectations". It totally helped me through the first part of the day. I was able to laugh at my situation, and took it in stride. I was proud of myself, at least until 5 PM). I also took to heart my goal to “do things from the heart”. The Wacom technician was someone I had spoken to before and had been previously very helpful. I made sure not to go to my sad and upset side, but be a customer that the Wacom technician would love to assist again in the future. It definitely paid off, as he was able to ship me a new tablet in a week (instead of having to send my in for repair). But I also asked specifically to speak to his manager to give him some great positive feedback. That’s a minor thing I usually slack in, and it’s such an easy thing I can do that would really benefit a particularly helpful customer service representative. I hope to keep looking for new similar opportunities in the future.
Daily Insight: Though I handled the first bit of news okay, I began looking into an alternative tablet or iPad to help me through for the next week. When I realized the cost of the product, and also thought about a an additional new computer purchase I’ve been planning to make within the next month or so, my composure began to crack. I also received a rejection e-mail for an exciting freelance gig I’d hoped to get, and also heard some disappointing news about some interviews that hubby had. Some other emotions and interactions combined with all that and, emotionally exhausted from the succession of events, I pretty much spiraled and had a bit of a breakdown. I’m torn with an inner struggle of trying so hard to be positive while being extremely sensitive and vulnerable at the moment. I’m trying to learn how to cut myself some slack, but I’m sure many of you can relate to being hard on yourself. So I’m hoping that tomorrow brings a new day. I’m also so appreciative of all the friends who helped me out on Facebook in regards to my Cintiq-less status. For the record, I got the Cintiq to work for a little bit last night, and was able to make a new cartoon for today's post! Hooray! I’m fully not expecting it to function properly tomorrow. "Releasing Expectations", right? ;-)
Happy Tuesday! I don’t know why, but I like Tuesdays. Mondays are the icebreakers of the week, but Tuesday you still have a whole week of possibilities ahead of you without having to transition from the weekend.
Something I'm Thankful For: The rare opportunities to see an old friend. Living in Los Angeles means that I’m very removed from the friends I grew up with in NY, and am extra removed from friends living in the Eastern Hemisphere. Occasionally, I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend sent to Los Angeles for work. Right now, my pen pal/dear friend of 16 years is in town. This is the 6th time I’ve ever been able to see him, but the first time I got to introduce him to my hubby and kids. It was truly a special day that I’d been waiting for a long time, and the fact that it was a sudden and quite unexpected trip made it even more special.
Challenge O' The Day: A friend on Facebook posted as a status yesterday an encouragement to “do things from the heart without expecting anything back”. I too am guilty of just expecting to be treated the way I would treat someone else. Over time I’ve felt less inclined to help others than I had when I was young, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. I prefer my state of being akin to that cute lil’ bushy-tailed animal. You can be positive without being naïve. So, today the goal is to treat people as nicely as possible and try to go out of the way to do good deeds without expecting anything in return. I will try to find at least one act of kindness to do to someone, and will not expect anything back. In general my attitude lately has been “zero expectations”, because when I do set something up I usually end up being disappointed. So today I will try to give, and not plan to receive, and hope to keep that attitude going.
Lesson Learned: The great thing about this blog is finding out so many people are in the same boat as you. Figuring what I want out of life has helped me notice others who are in similar situations, and it’s always a helpful thing to realize you’re not alone.
Daily Insight: I’ve been dwelling a lot lately on every mistake I’ve made and regret I’ve had throughout my life. It’s hard to move forward that way thinking about what “could have been”, mostly in regards to career opportunities and lost friendships. I’m trying to combat it by being complete aware of my emotions (why I’m reacting a certain way and what’s the REAL root of the emotion), releasing my expectations, and moving forward.
It’s been a full week since I undertook this 30 Day Challenge. So far, I’ve definitely seen some progress in some ways; planning fun activities, and limiting my cell phone usage has helped a lot. The lows are still pretty low, so I’m trying to figure out different ways to help shake those off. Or maybe I should just stop expecting too much from myself this early on? I’ll see how this week goes, without any major fast coming up. This week I plan to surround myself with lots of positive events, people, work, and entertainment to keep the momentum going.
Something I'm Thankful For: Accessible forms of escapism; namely, magazines and TV. More specifically, my subscriptions to Netflix, People Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly. Over the weekend, I discovered two very inspirational ladies. One is Alice Herz-Sommer, the subject of the documentary The Lady in Number 6. At one point considered the oldest Holocaust survivor (she passed away in 2014 at the age of 110), her spectacular skills as a pianist saved her and her son’s lives during their time in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Her boundless optimism, even while facing certain death, is a thing of pure beauty. I’m including some amazing quotes below, and I’ve already watched the documentary twice.
The other woman I discovered is Jessi Klein, the Emmy Award winning head writer of Inside Amy Schumer. The article I read about her in People was so refreshing; she's an incredibly talented 40-year-old creative lady finally hitting her stride and receiving the accolades she deserves. I related to her tomboy roots, her views of feminism (“If you’re a woman who’s telling the truth about your life, I think that’s a feminist act”), her discovery of comedy at a young age, and of course her love of watching The Bachelor. I immediately placed a hold on her new book, You’ll Grow Out of It, at the library.
Challenge O' The Day: Back to work, figuring out a routine with both kids home from school. My mom’s here now, so trying to make sure everyone’s on the same page without a set 9AM – 3PM schedule is always a challenge.
Lesson Learned: I’m just going to post some quotes from The Lady in Number 6:
“Calmness is strength.”
“When a child is near his mother, everything can happen. He’s not afraid. It gives him security. And I was always laughing, even there [in the camps] I was always laughing.”
“There were very beautiful moments there. I knew that even in this very difficult situation, there are beautiful moments. There doesn’t exist anything in our world, only bad. Even the bad is beautiful, I would say. Even the bad is beautiful when you know where to look for. It has to be.”
“Sometimes it happens that I am thankful to have been there. Because it gave me….I am richer than other people. My reaction on lie it’s quite another one. All the complaints. ‘This is terrible’. It’s not so terrible.”
“Survival was, in a nutshell, a matter of your attitude to the situation.”
“When you were really down in the hell and come up again, you have learnt what maters in life and what doesn’t. And what matters is very few things. Life matters, human relationships, and that’s about it. The rest is not important. One can live without.”
“It depends on me whether life is good or not. On me. Not on Life. On me. Everything is good and bad. I look at the good side.”
Daily Insight: There's not a lot more I can add here. I realize how important it is to surround one's self with optimistic material to maintain positivity. Happy Monday, everyone! Wishing you a wonderful start to your week. <3
I can’t believe it’s almost been a week since I decided to challenge myself! Onward, ho!
Something I'm Thankful For: Today is Tisha B’Av, a major fast on the Jewish calendar. It’s a day of mourning, reflection, and it quite appropriately has fallen out during my 30 Day Positivity Challenge. It’s a time to reflect on all we’ve lost throughout our history, and how we as individuals should be better, kinder people. I’m thankful for days like today that come as reminders to stop what you’re doing and simply think about the important things in life. I’m also thankful that I’m pretty good at fasting, because a 25 hour fast during one of the longest, hottest times of the year is definitely not going to be a picnic! (Hmmm… maybe “picnic” is the wrong word to be using at the moment…)
Challenge O' The Day: I decided that for today, from sun up until sun down, I will try to avoid any and all forms of negativity. No complaining, kvetching, nothing. If I forget, I hope to catch myself mid-sentence and stop myself in time from finishing that thought. We’ll see how it goes! I’ve been disappointed that I’ve allowed myself to wade in a perpetual pool of gloom lately, and have been allowing myself to overly vent about everything too much to compensate. Sometimes, I don’t even want to hang out with me. So for today, I’m taking a vacation from that train of thought.
Lesson Learned: In order to try to attempt a major overhaul of bad habits, I’ve been finding it’s best to start with one day and one specific aspect of said bad habit. It makes the end goal seem a lot more realistic and less intimidating to attain. I believe the scientific term for it is: “baby steps”.
Daily Insight: It’s an ambitious thing to try to transform your state of mind after it’s been taking hits over a long period of time. But it seems a lot more manageable for me to focus on the major things I want to change about myself by aiming to chip away at them slowly, rather than ripping it all off at once like a band aid. A band aid is only meant to be a temporary solution anyway. I think I’m going to make a list of the things I’d like to change about myself (realistically, over time) and figure out slow ways to do so, rather than aim to change everything cold turkey. So today, it’s the negative word spewing that’s been coming out from my mouth lately. Excited to figure out what to focus on next!
The journey continues…
Something I'm Thankful For: The Sabbath Day. As an Orthodox Jew, once a week I shut off all technology, cease all work, drawing, writing, etc. for 25 hours of peaceful bliss. No cars, no TV, no laptop, and best of all, NO SMART PHONES! :-D It’s a day I don’t have to worry about any money or work stresses, because there’s nothing I can do about it anyway... *and* I don’t have to feel guilty about it! I truly treasure the time to catch up on sleep, relax, eat yummy food, read, go to Synagogue, spend quality time with friends, and hang out with my kiddos without multitasking. I look forward all week to the opportunity to power down.
Challenge O' The Day: Nobody wants to be woken up in the middle of the night, but yesterday, when I got the 2:30 AM wake up scream by my baby girl, she at least had the decency to spend the next hour and a half being utterly adorable and delightful. As a bonus, she even went back to sleep with no fuss. I’m pretty sure she’s teething right now (I mean, I assume she’s going to be growing more than 4 teeth…) so I’ve been anticipating the recent bouts of fever and broken sleep. I just didn’t expect her to handle it so delightfully. The surprise is certainly one I can appreciate. But then I had to survive the rest of the day on the aforementioned broken sleep, and the challenge of getting all adults fed before the start of the big Jewish fast day called Tisha B’Av.
Lesson Learned: I was totally dreading yesterday evening all summer. Tisha B’Av is a major fast day to Jews, second behind Yom Kippur, and it began last night. Thanks to some great friends, we were invited over for the pre-fast meal, which made it significantly more fun. It was one less thing for me to worry about over the past (already overly-stressful) week, and the kids were super happy to have the play/dinner date. In the video I’d mentioned in my previous post that a friend had sent me about how to handle a lousy week, Dr. Michael Evans suggested that if you have to do a tough thing, pair it with something that gives you pleasure, aka “Temptation Bundling”. It’s been a great tip that I’m trying to implement as often as possible these days and has been extremely helpful. Now, to get through the remainder of the 25 hour fast…
Daily Insight: You can’t always control your kids, so it’s a pleasure when they leave you pleasantly surprised. Besides my baby girl being a delight at 2:30 AM, my son actually fell asleep (in an actual bed) this afternoon snuggling with me for a couple of hours (so I could attempt to make up the sleep I lost in the middle of the night!) Parenting is extremely exhausting, but I’m trying my best to keep focusing on those moments that give me strength.
My favorite thing about a lousy week is the first day when things start to seem a bit brighter; the day when you have a much-needed breath of fresh air, and are reassured that you are on the exact path you’re supposed to be. I mean, sure, even on such a glorious day, there’s always a chance that your baby may come down with 101° fever like mine did, but that’s a given risk that any mama takes on a daily basis!
Something I'm Thankful For: Those perfect lunches, when you catch up with a friend, laugh your tuchus off, brainstorm about creative ideas, and happen to be sitting next to an awesome person who becomes a New Instant Friend. Yesterday was the first day in… weeks? months?... where I felt like my true self. Being a social person, one of the things I’ve always loved to do is to make Instant Friends for life. One such example is my Pen Pal, whom I met randomly at a restaurant in Toronto while on a family vacation in August of 2000. We exchanged AIM Screen Names (wow, I can’t remember the last time I thought about AIM) and mailing addresses, and every now and then we exchange some snail mail. (It’s been my turn for a good 5 or 6 years now…but who’s counting! :-P) Even though we now live in different countries, we’ve stayed in touch through all our milestones: marriage, parenthood, and all the dramas & traumas. Even though we don’t communicate as often as we’d like, we share a deep bond and a fierce pride in our friendship. Every time I make a New Instant Friend, without fail I think about how long my Instant Friendship with my Pen Pal has endured, and it always makes me smile.
Back to today. I met up with another Instant Friend that I made a few months ago on a shoot for a Bud Light commercial that I storyboarded. She was an actress who was pumping milk in the bathroom, so of course, we creative mamas with brand new baby girls began talking and hit it off. We’ve since collaborated on some awesome art I can’t wait to share, and yesterday we were finally able to catch up in person. As luck would have it, we ended making another New Instant Friend, who ended up sharing a table with us at the overcrowded restaurant. New friends, great food, great creative talk; G-d only knows how much I needed it. (And, well, I guess you guys did too because of this blogging thingamajig).
Challenge O' The Day: This weekend is definitely going to be challenging. Today is the official last day of hubby’s contract. This weekend marks the end of a 3-week period of mourning in the Jewish calendar that culminates with a big 25 hour fast. Getting through the next few days is not going to be easy, especially with 2 little young’uns, and I’m looking forward to starting a brand-spanking new week on Monday.
Lesson Learned: As an Orthodox Jew, my faith in G-d is a big part of my life. It’s easy to focus on all of life’s negativity, but after the lunch date yesterday I really felt at peace with where I’m at right now for the first time since getting news of hubby’s job loss. I was overcome with that reassuring feeling that I’m exactly where I need to be, something I hadn’t felt in a long while. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Daily Insight: Yesterday I began feeling like I needed a strong reminder of who I am, and I feel like today I actually got one. Friendships have always been the cornerstone of my existence, and having a lovely lunch was definitely an important highlight to help combat my Summer Blues that I addressed in yesterday’s post. But more than that, friends continue to come out of the woodwork to really make me feel supported. The continuous texts, check-ins, and messages have been amazing. One friend gave me an inspirational coloring book page (all colored in, of course) with the message “The Best Is Yet To Come”, and so generously offered to treat me to a massage. Another friend sent me a link to a fantastic video about getting through a lousy week. The video offered some really great tips, and it made me feel good that I already had been implementing most of the suggested methods on my own. I sincerely hope the time that I can reciprocate all these good deeds comes speedily, and will try extra hard to spot opportunities to pay it forward in whatever capacity I can.
Oh, and the Pen Pal I mentioned earlier? By sheer coincidence, I heard from him a few hours after the lunch date (after I inevitably thought about him) that he’ll likely be in town next week for work! (!!!!!!!!) So it looks like I may get to catch up with my dear, dear friend in person for the first time in about 8 years. Today I actually cried tears of JOY, which was a welcomed relief from the rest of the week. I’m just happy to be thrown a frickin’ bone and reassured that I’m on the right path to cope with this rough patch. If you’re reading this, please know how much I value you for taking the time to help me through this journey. As always, sending love and hugs to all. <3
Yesterday brought some bad news and good news. The bad news is that hubby did not get a job he had applied for that we’d spent about 6 weeks waiting on. The good news is that now we can go ahead with planning our regularly scheduled lives again, and not wondering “what if” he gets that position. Which got me thinking about all the things we haven’t yet done this summer, and it’s already more than halfway over…
Something I'm Thankful For: Escapist TV. When I first heard about hubby’s contract not being renewed, Game of Thrones was weekly my savior. Now, it’s Bachelor In Paradise. Heck, anything #BachelorNation related. I’ve realized that watching others’ dramas is something that allows my brain to completely shut off, and maybe even make me feel good about the smarter decisions I’ve made in my life (such as not appearing on a reality TV show). For the last few weeks, a girlfriend has been coming over on a weekly basis to make every episode a total party, and it’s been so wonderful having her around for fun, support, and in-person empathy. (Thanks, Kelsey!) It’s really fantastic having a regularly scheduled gals’ night in, and it’s helped fill the horrible void right now I have missing all my close girlfriends in NY, whom I did not get to see this summer.
Challenge O' The Day: Figuring out something fun for the summer. We scrapped our original summer plans to visit our families on the East Coast in search of jobs, and not only is there still no job, but no big summer fun has been had. The only getaway we had was a 2-night stint in San Diego for Comic-Con, which believe me, was no picnic with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old in tow. I realized yesterday that the outlook right now for the rest of the summer is on par with:
…The final shots of LOST:
…The final shots of Season 5, Game of Thrones finale:
…The final shots of The Sopranos:
I also realized that unless I start planning some fun things to look forward to, I was going to be lost to all sorts of depressing blackness while hiding under my bedroom covers. I've been so stressed and focus on finding an immediate solution, I've been depriving myself of planning any fun. I now have to figure out how we can have fun without breaking the bank, but I do need something that will give us/me a much-needed boost right now. Growing up, I always LIVED for the summers, and the big family vacation at the end of it. My parents purposely planned that so we’d look forward to something even as the summer was about to be over. I look forward to the day that we can plan an annual elaborate escape, but for now a minor escape would be nice, even if it’s just for the day. My son is off from school for a couple of weeks, and I’m determined to figure out some fun activities to do during that time.
Lesson Learned: If the road ahead looks really, really dark, figure out what kind of flashlight you can use to help guide your path until the lights come back on.
Daily Insight: I’m really glad to be doing this blog. It’s giving me a game plan on how to tackle the days, even if I’m not entirely successful. Yesterday brought some more heavy, unexpected disappointing news, but it made me feel better to know that I had an outlet to express it all at the end of the day. And some of my friends have really been coming out of the wood works to text, call, or message me, and I truly appreciate it. Plus, I stuck to my schedule about checking my social media/e-mails only periodically (I set my phone alarms for 8:55 AM, 12 PM, 3 PM, and 9 PM) and modified it to the nearest scheduled break. Even with the continuous parade of yucky news, I at least feel better that I took charge of something, and removed something that was definitely bringing me down. Baby steps. <3
As the saying goes, “Sometimes you have to fall before you can fly”. Welp, then I’m definitely going to be reaching for the moon pretty soon because I certainly fell far down the rabbit hole yesterday. Not a great day for positivity for myself. But today’s a new day, and a new opportunity. Today I’m going to focus on one thing that always puts me in the negative on a daily basis
Something I'm Thankful For: My mom being in town. My kids, especially my son, are best buddies with her. She stays on Eastern Standard Time here so she can be there when the wake up any time between 4-6:20 AM. When she comes, it’s such a nice little break for me and a brief reminder of what sleep used to feel like.
Challenge O' The Day: That stupid, dumb smart phone. That thing is a terrible addiction, and is an awful habit. I’m so embarrassed how frequently I check my messages on it, and it’s a terrible example to set for my kids.
Lesson Learned: At last night’s Positive Parenting class, the teacher spoke about consistency. It’s important to be consistent with your values, and your example is instilled in your kids at a young age, so by the time they are teenagers they are given the proper tools to make the right choices. Every time I check my phone when my kids are around, I send an awful message to them that they are less important. One of the things I loved most about my parents growing up was that I can’t remember I time when they weren’t focused on me. (Well, actually I can – and it ended with me accidentally cutting my hand with a razor, straight to the bone, and resulted in needing stitches, but that’s another story). I’m sorry to say I am failing in that department, and the phone is overall an energy suck for me. All I see when I check my social media and e-mail are bad news, gossip, and funny animal videos. While that last item is a great way to balance the first two, none of those are worth my precious time that I spend looking at them. And while work e-mails are important, we all know that once we check our work e-mail we get suckered into all the rest of the messages as well. So today, I will limited my e-mail checking to specific times, for 5-15 minute windows (depending on if I have to respond to an important message or not), and will try to stick to them. I’m hoping that by putting it all in a schedule, and programming it into a phone, it will help my productivity and outlook for the day.
Daily Insight: When I’m stressed and not sleeping, every little thing bothers me tenfold. I personally think that cell phones are the downfall of humanity, but that’s a debate we can have another time. Nothing bothers me more than when someone tunes you out to play games on your phone, or to check it for something that is clearly not THAT important. But I can’t change society, I can’t change one person, and I ultimately won’t be able to tell my kids what to do once they’re bigger. I can only try to change myself, and I need to treat myself nicely too. I can’t change overnight, but I will try to change over time, with one small challenge at a time.