Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance(s)

I graduated from therapy today. In case you have some big judgment against therapy and its tendency toward self-indulgence, let me just say that two years ago, on my first session (April 10, 2008), I needed therapy. I was so depressed I could barely see straight.

Two years later, I have tapered down to one session a month, and at this point I feel like the therapist and I are just chewing the fat. I was trying to think of a way to gracefully suggest that I stop going to therapy altogether, when the therapist told me she was going to retire. A perfect out!

I cried tears of joy on the way to my appointment. I feel like I have made so much progress. And sometimes I get down on myself and think my life hasn't amounted to anything, but I can say with pride that I pulled myself out of the darkness (with some chemical help, which I'm not ashamed to admit). And ending therapy just felt like the end of an era.

The therapist kind of cried, too. I mean she got all choked up. She told me it was truly a pleasure to work with me, because sometimes she sees people for years and they're pretty much the same when they come out as they were when they came in. I like to think I at least helped the therapist feel like she was doing something worthwhile. (I know, this paragraph sounds kind of braggy, but seriously, who brags about her progress in therapy?)

The truth is, the woman was an excellent cheerleader. I would come in and tell her about my new workouts at the gym, or my new revelations, or some new hobby I was trying, and she would always say how great I was doing. And I kind of like gold stars, pats on the back, etc., so truthfully some of my decisions were motivated by what would my therapist say?

My last therapy appointment kind of felt like the last episode of a sitcom. You've shared so much of your life with this person, and now she's never going to see or hear from you again, so you feel like you have to at least leave with some kind of closure and/or hint as to the next chapter of your life. But, of course, life is not really like that. There aren't always logical endings and beginnings.

But I've been thinking lately about maybe trying to find some sort of part-time or freelance employment, now that Nathan is getting a little more independent (and I'm not planning to bring any more little dependent beings into the world, at least for the time being). So I had a good talk about that at my last therapy session. It was a good topic for the last session because it helped sort of sum things up while also looking ahead toward the next chapter. We talked about what kind of job I might like, and, long story short, I decided I don't have a freakin' clue. I'd love to do something a little more on the creative side, but all those fields are hard to break into and involve years of possible rejections. And I'm not a person who handles rejection well.

Anyway, this whole job search thing is a huge topic, one that could be the subject of several blog posts. Which is a good thing, because I'm gonna need a lot of material to do NaBloPoMo for April. The theme is "Big," which you can pretty much tailor to fit any topic. So, stay tuned for 30 days of posts with the word Big in the title.

And P.S., sorry my blog header is screwed up.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The General Life Updates

A few weeks ago, I went to one of my favorite annual events, the Chicago Flower and Garden

Then the family and I went to the Museum of Science and Industry, which is my favorite Chicago museum.

In the photo on the right, the boys are standing in front of the U-505 submarine, which is a German U-boat that was captured during WWII. It is amazingly huge, but that whole exhibit is so sad. I have just read two books in a row that took place during WWII, The Postmistress (blah) and Winter Garden (almost inexcusably boring first half, but riveting and tragic second half). Both books, along with the U-boat exhibit, have just reminded me of the horrific times that the 1940s were, and of the sacrifices our grandparents' generation had to make during that era. And about how I shouldn't regard that generation as annoying and in the way and a little bit freaky in the gym locker room.

Speaking of books, right now I'm reading The Three Weissmanns of Westport, which is a modern-day adaptation of Sense and Sensability. Now, I don't remember the specifics of any of those Jane Austen stories, but basically I seem to recall that they're all sort of about the romantic misadventures of idle wealthy people in 19th-century England who have nothing better to do than meddle in each others' lives. Which means that there isn't too much to adapt, other than "romantic misadventures." Anyway, so far the book is kind of meh, but I needed something light after those two war tragedies, and this fits the bill.

Plus, this book will make perfect light reading during my mini-vacation this weekend, which will be to the lovely and tropical town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin! We are going to the Midwest Gaming Classic, which is a classic video game convention (you know, the stand-up games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong). Obviously this trip is for my husband, but I am excited because it's at a Sheraton hotel in a big city this year, versus the no-name hotel in a Wisconsin suburb that it was in last year. Also I hear Milwaukee has a great zoo, a great art museum, some kind of awesome indoor park, and plus a lot of cheese-related places. We are only going to be there for about 30 hours, so we won't have time for all that stuff, but hopefully we'll do something besides play Tetris and sleep in their supremely awesome Sheraton beds. Anyway, here's a picture from last year's convention:

Oh, he was so little! Not this big, giant boy who gets to take swim lessons all by himself now. It's like my favorite half-hour of the week! This is not my best swim lesson shot, but the other pictures have other kids in them, and I feel nervous about putting pictures of other kids on the Internet without their parents' permission. Anyway, swim lessons:

Anyway, that's about all with me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jump around! Jump, jump, jump around!

Based on the title of this post, you might think this is going to be about taking Nathan to a bouncy castle place, or perhaps my recent adventures at the gym. But actually, it's really only going to be the topics of this post that jump around.

Things are pretty much status quo in our household, which, given my love of boringness and stability, is great. I am filled with that hopeful feeling that comes from the first tastes of spring, though admittedly the first tastes of spring are of my own creation and not actually something that occurs in nature. You know, things like daffodils bought from the grocery store and brightly-colored clothing. Oh, and I guess the weather is warming up a little. But that might be a tease. Next week it could be back to parkas and scarves.

This past weekend I read a blurb in Martha Stewart Living, which described some study that found that there are 4 key factors to increasing your lifespan by an average of 17 years. The factors were not anything new or earth-shattering: (1) Exercise, (2) Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, (3) Drink in moderation (7-14 drinks/week), and (4) Don't smoke. Again, it's not like any of this is new or innovative. But somehow reading this stuff again made me realize that I do 3 out of the 4 things on the list, with the exception of (2) Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. I try. I really do. But 5 servings is a lot. (And sometimes I read studies that say that the "5 servings" guideline is for children, and that adults need more like 8. Which is like, give me a break, people. I haven't even achieved 5 yet.)

Anyway, I'm trying to eat more foods from the plant kingdom, which I guess is easier given that the spring/summer fruits are starting to be available. And I made a policy that the only snack I can have is fruit, which has been difficult. For one thing, what constitutes a snack? Am I still allowed to have my cup of tapioca pudding for dessert? I mean, technically dessert is a dinner course and not a snack, though I tend to eat it a couple of hours after dinner. And if I tack on snack foods to an actual meal, is that okay? As in, "For dinner last night we had chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and a bag of Doritos"? And anyway it doesn't matter, because I have totally failed on my "fruit only" policy for snacks. Because, TMI, it turns out eating that much fruit kind of does a number on your colon.

Moving on.

I'm reading a book called The Postmistress right now, which is a story about 3 women in 1940. One is a postmistress in a small Massachusetts town, the other is a newlywed who just moved to the same town, and the third is a radio reporter in London covering the Blitz. The London parts are super disturbing. I mean, I knew those people were hiding in the subway stations every night to take shelter while their city was destroyed, but reading about it is still so hard.

I attempted to replicate last year's stellar record of going to the gym every day in March, but this year I amended it to "go to the gym every day except Fridays in March." I think Sunday through Thursday, plus Saturday, is enough. Saturday and Monday I do a weight-lifting class, Tuesday is Steppin' Up, Wednesday is Firm (torturous cardio/strength interval class), and Thursday I just started Boxing Boot Camp.

And finally, is this not the most beautiful chicken I have in the Crock Pot for tonight?