Well, the happiest news is that I am WORKING. In exchange for MONEY. It's freelance work, from home. Right now I just have one project, but there are several more projects promised to me where that one came from, and at the moment they're trickling in at just the right pace. Just enough work to keep me busy and keep my mind distracted from thinking about pointless petty things, but not so much that I'm staying up half the night working. As you know, work doesn't always go this smoothly, not for me or for anybody else, so I'm really grateful.
And let me tell you something else. The fact that I'm not working in a boring office, forced to work a specific schedule, and be productive without breaks 100% of the time, those things go a long way toward making work so much more enjoyable. I love being in my fun purple home office, with the window open to let in a gentle breeze and the sound of birds chirping. (Also in the mornings and afternoons I hear kids walking to and from school, and they tend to serenade me with their pointless blather and/or comical singing.) The natural light shines in through the windows, which is vastly superior to the florescent lighting of most office buildings. (As a side note, I find florescent lights to be bothersome on a very physical level. My old therapist said that many people with mood disorders tend to be bothered by florescent lights, like the florescent light rays mess with your brain waves in some way or something. Even the lighting at some stores like Target bothers me.)
Also, because my home office doubles as a guest room, there is a bed in there and this girl hangs out there to keep me company:
This is a cell phone photo, so she has the Creepy Eyes of Doom.
While the cat/work combo is awesome, the opportunity to juggle work and caring for my child is ... kind of a mixed bag. I always said I would suck at working from home because I would feel pulled in so many different directions. I reasoned that it would be better to go do your work at a set time in a set place and get it over with, so that you could be 100% present for your family in the off hours. But not only is that sort of "turning off" not always possible with the kind of technology we have available in this day and age, but also the "keeping work at work and home at home" sort of plan tends to result in the situation I previously denounced: Being forced to work on a specific schedule, whether you like it or not. It is an incredible luxury to be able to make my own hours, to be available for activities with Nathan, or to transport him to and from school, but at the same time it's an incredible challenge to try to keep him occupied so I can work. And then you get into the whole issue of trying to maximize your net pay by minimizing childcare, all while still maintaining your productivity and/or sanity, which is nearly impossible to do given the unpredictability of freelance work (and all work, to some extent).
So, like every work arrangement, there are pros and cons. Being able to just fold work into my everyday life feels so natural and right and the way humans were meant to live, but it also means that holy shit the work never ends.
But I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said a million times over in every mom's group or blog on the planet, so I'm just going to bottom line it and say this: I have work. It is awesome. And hard. And that's called being a human.
Last week Katie and I got together for a two-part Event Of Fun. First we went to the annual Chicago Flower and Garden Show, which is one of my favorite annual events. Although I kind of suck at gardening, I do adore flowers, and being able to see an indoor showcase of fancy display gardens is always a thrill. Most years the show is especially welcome as a break from the gray drudgery of winter, although this year that's not so much the case because we're getting our weird Summer in March. Still, the floral fragrance that greets you upon entering the show is so awesome. I wish they could bottle that fragrance.
I only had my cell phone, so the pictures I took were kind of blurry, but here's Katie in front of some tulips:
There's always a section at the show where designers set up displays featuring tables. Here are some hanging pomanders at one table:
And here's a table representing the kind of retro kitsch I wish I could pull off in my own kitchen:
I ❤ egg cups. Unfortunately I find soft-boiled eggs kind of disgusting.
Following the show, Katie and I had our long-planned Macaroni and G's dinner. As I've mentioned before, Katie and I tend to call each other G-Money, or just G for short. So, back in January when we both had our birthdays, we planned Macaroni and G's to celebrate. But, things happened, people got sick, and we ended up postponing it until March 10.
On the menu: Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese (I know Kraft sounds tacky, but the homestyle one is just as good as from-scratch, and cheaper and a lot less work), Trader Joe's cranberry-pecan-Gorgonzola salad, crackers with a delicious lemon-dill dip mix we picked up at the flower show, sangria, apple pie, and some chocolate cheddar cheese that Adele sent us all the way from California (via my mom, who brought it on an airplane). Here's a super bad photo of Katie and me eating the cheese:
It probably goes without saying that this was after the consumption of sangria.
And I spent the night and we fell asleep watching Friends DVDs. And next week I'm going back to G-Money's to see The Hunger Games at a theater near her.
On a slightly darker note, this week I am commemorating the four-year anniversary of my time in the outpatient depression program I affectionately refer to as Crazy Camp. I don't think I can top last year's anniversary post (see also here), so I'm not even going to try.
As I commemorate this anniversary, I'd like to say that I'm completely recovered from my mental health struggles. But, truth be told, that simply isn't the case. My mental health took a bit of a turn in the past few weeks. There was some depression, but, even more so, Depression's evil twin Anxiety wanted to come out and celebrate our four-year anniversary. Really? REALLY?! Which just goes to show you that Depression never gives up. Depression fights dirty.
BUT, in the throes of feeling sorry for myself, I finally realized that, even if I wasn't completely cured, I was approximately a thousand times better than I was four years ago. When you have an illness that messes with your mind like depression does, it's very easy to believe in a distorted reality, one where this is The Worst It's Ever Been. But, it's not. It's so not. Compared to four years ago, this is a minor downturn, at worst.
And not only am I better now than I was back at Crazy Camp, I'm better today than I was yesterday. Really, I'm totally okay.
Are you better off than you were four years ago?
So, you know what I just realized? I can't participate in the other indoor triathlon at the other gym, because it conflicts with my performances of Jack and the Beanstalk. Not being able to do that triathlon has eliminated a really huge motivator in my workout life. Like, before I was all Must do two forms of cardio every day, and now I'm kind of like, I did the treadmill, that's enough. (Side note: What kind of idiot is still running on a treadmill despite this gift of perfect weather? But the gym has childcare, and the treadmill has a built-in timer, so that's why I'm still on the treadmill.)
I am loosely entertaining ideas of doing an actual outdoor triathlon (this one, which is just for women), but I have some reservations about the whole thing. For one thing, I am scared to swim in a natural body of water. (This fear only extends to actual swimming, not to wading in natural bodies of water or anything like that.) But the triathlon I'm looking at is technically in an artificial, human-made lake-like body of water, so maybe I can wrap my head around the idea of swimming in it.
But also, I'm afraid of getting knocked off my bicycle. Falling terrifies me. This past September I fell off my bike at the forest preserve, and I wasn't injured in the slightest, but the fall still scared me off of biking for several months (though part of my inability to bike during that period was due to unpleasant weather, which is an excuse I no longer have).
Plus, did you get a look at the women in the photos on that triathlon site? Now, I understand that when they pick their "best of" photos for their website, they aren't going to include photos of schlubs like me huffing and puffing and generally looking like they want to die. But still, I hope there are some schlubs like me in that triathlon somewhere, or else those super fit women will scare me off.
Regardless of my choice RE: a triathlon, I do want to do my local park district's 5K circuit this summer, even if I can't run the whole thing. Plus I've already signed up to be on G-Money's team for the 5K Color Run, which is a wacky running/walking event where you get sprayed with a different color every time you complete a kilometer.
Nathan is starting t-ball next month. Now, based on my own upbringing, I'm much more comfortable and familiar with soccer as a youth sport, but in the town where I live, baseball is a much bigger deal. I knew when I brought a child into this town, he would inevitably end up playing baseball someday. Seriously, the town has a little parade every year to kick off the baseball season, and each child throws approximately five times his or her weight's worth of candy at the spectators. It's all very Norman Rockwell.
So, this is Nathan's first year in t-ball. I know the coach's wife from the gym, so I told her I would be the team mom. The team mom job involves some of my favorite tasks: administrative work, party-planning, and not being a flake. But I'm also so confused about my duties, and I'm worried I'll do something wrong or forget to do something important.
BTW his team is called the Purple Panthers. Nathan is confused by this title, because, according to him, panthers are pink.
I'm thinking about doing a different eating plan besides Weight Watchers. I think WW is the best diet plan there is, but I'm just burned out on it. I can't go to the dumb meetings anymore, and I can't face the people in the weigh booth. Furthermore, I don't like how the new program so over-inflates the points values of carbs, because it's so difficult to find anything you can eat at a restaurant or the mall or something. Even in your own home, you have to have a stupid, labor-intensive snack like a hard-boiled egg or something. Trainer Jill is doing Lose It! (website- and mobile app-based program), and I'm thinking of trying that. But mostly I'm thinking that I'm just making excuses for why I suck so much at dieting, and trying to find a magic bullet where I can effortlessly lose weight. (NOTE TO RANDOM SPAMMY-TYPE PEOPLE: I am not interested in receiving emails about the latest diet pills that will probably give me a heart attack. I'm already anxious enough, and a major hypochondriac.)
Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!