Wordy Wednesday – Nothing to Review.

I am currently mid-book…well, to be honest, I’ve been “mid” four different books this week. I would start one, struggle to get into it, and then return it and find a new one. Every once and while I go through a difficult reading period where I’m struggling to find a book that captures my interest.

So instead of a book review – I just want to talk about books today!

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1. Who was your first (or only) literary hero?

The very first author that I feel in love with, and that encouraged my love of reading, was John Irving. I was given “A Prayer for Owen Meany” as a book report in junior high, and I fell in LOVE with Irving’s frank and realistic writing style. He did not beat around the bush or white out the unsavoury parts – and that’s what I loved most about him. I was raised in a family that ignored everything that wasn’t cookie cutter perfect – and basically just lived in denial of any blemishes. I felt suffocated trying to navigate the blemishes with a group of people who pretended they weren’t there – and it was very challenging. Irving was my first glimpse into the reality of real families and the lessons I learned from that are invaluable. He made me realize that blemishes and mistakes are not only normal but expected and they do not disqualify you from being worthy of being loved. More importantly, he taught me that we are not our situations – situations happen to us, but do not become us.

As an adult, I still appreciate Irving’s work but I don’t have the same love for his writing style that I did then. Now that my life experience and novel base is much more variable than it was back then – I have found many authors who capture the reality of life and present it in an elegant way. Some of them do it much better than he does – but he will always hold a place in my heart as the first person who showed me what it truly means to be human and what it truly means to love and be loved.

2. What book changed the way you looked at life?

Umm…all of them? I think that’s what marks a good book – one that you carry pieces of into your everyday life.

I think, though, the most significant was “The Book of Negroes”. If you haven’t read it, you should. It is the kind of book everyone needs to read – if only to gain some minor understanding of the horrors in our modern world.

3. What book(s) can you read over and over?

Harry Potter all day long. Each time I read them, I am swept into a magical world that made me feel safe…and even though I’m 15 years older than I was when I first read them – they are like a warm hug every time I return to them.

4. Hardcover, paperback or e-book?

I always like the medium sized paperbacks (like the size of a hard cover, with a paper cover). I think that size is most comfortable for my hands.

However, since I’ve been having issues with carpal tunnel in both hands (*thanks MA degree) I’ve had to switch to e-books, so I can prop my tablet up without holding it. The benefit to this is that now I can use my library’s e-reader app which allows me to sign out/read/return books from home and it is WONDERFUL!

5. What are your earliest reading memories?

One of my best memories ever was sitting in my grandpa’s lap, wrapped up in his safety and love, while he read me a little book on a kitten who lost it’s mitten. I think that was my first real recollection of feeling safe and loved. My grandpa had numerous strokes – and so lost almost all ability to walk and move, but the one thing he could do was read. Reading became the thing he did all day, every day. His ability to talk was impeded hugely, but he still read to us from the children’s books when we visited. Such a lovely memory. ❤

6. What are you reading right now?

Well…I’m currently working on “The Myth of Perpetual Summer” by Susan Crandall.

Thanks for reading along, and feel free to answer the questions in the comments (or on your own blog). I’d love to see your responses! 🙂 Also…any and ALL book suggestions are welcome!

 

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WordyWednesday – A day late….

I meant to post this yesterday but a winter storm took out my power and trapped me in my house – so I am just posting now. 🙂

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America’s First Daughter

A beautifully written story about Thomas Jefferson’s beloved daughter, Patsy. So often behind powerful men are women, fighting an unseen battle for equality against society, expectation and stereotype – and this novel highlights just how true that is.

Rather than focusing this novel on Thomas Jefferson, it is completely from the viewpoint of Patsy – which makes me love it even more. We need to hear the women’s voices. Desperately. Patsy is a powerful, skilled, intelligent woman who has the ability to make the best of any situation – no matter how bad – while still pushing back against gender norms. Even though she is a woman, and powerless in the eyes of the law, she manages to not only survive, but thrive in the company of powerful and important men.

It is a feminist novel at heart, wrapped up in politics, racism and revolution.

Definitely a good read and I would, wholeheartedly, recommend!

Weightloss

** All of the women in my family have obesity, with type II diabetes and osteoarthritis (early onset) requiring joint replacement. I know that I have the genes to follow suit, and it’s something I am aware of and work at preventing. However, this last year has been hard and I let things slip more than I realized. **

Somewhere around the end of summer I had put on about 50lbs and began to notice issues with my joints and overall health. I was achy, having head aches all the time, unable to do a lot of what I used to do due to joint pain as well as not ovulating/irregular periods for the first time in a long time.

I went to my Doctor, knowing full well that I was likely to develop diabetes and osteoarthritis if I wasn’t careful. They’re still investigating my joints, but I *thankfully* do not have diabetes or even pre-diabetes. However, this experience was enough to scare me into some changes, and I really want to share my progress.

I did NOT do a diet – I don’t believe in them. I DID change my lifestyle though.

  • I only eat 3 balanced meals per day. I know snacking is supposed to be good for you, but when I snack – I make bad choices, even when all I have is healthy snacks. So, for now, snacking is out of the question. Eating good, lasting meals makes me fuller longer so I don’t feel the need to snack.
  • Vitamins galore!
  • Only drink water or coffee (and only coffee in the AM).
  • No chips, chocolate, candy or pop. This was HARD… I didn’t realize how much I’ve come to enjoy a little chocolate pick-me-up or chips during movies. *yikes*. However, I am well through the worst of it and now find it much easier to not indulge.
  • No takeout of any kind (not even “healthy” takeout). Every meal from a restaurant comes with double the calories of what I’d eat at home…plus, when we get takeout we’re more inclined to get bad things because we’re eating in the privacy of our own home. We have eaten out at a restaurant a few times, but been careful to make good choices.
  • Increased daily activity. Park further away, take the stairs, do an extra lap walking the dogs, use the bathrooms at the far end of my work building, etc. etc. Little things that, when added up, make a big difference. 😊

Eventually I plan to reintroduce healthy snacking because I do believe it is good for your metabolism but right now, I know I don’t have the self-control to consistently make good choices and even to KNOW when I need a snack vs. when I’m emotionally hungry.

My progress has been great.

  • Weight-loss: I’m down 9.6 lbs.
  • Clothing: I feel a big difference in the way things fit, but not enough to buy anything new yet.
  • Non-weight related:
    • I took the stairs at work and had NO pain! I almost skipped down them it felt so good. 😊
    • Daily headaches are down to a couple per week (max)

*I’m thinking about starting Yoga but no idea where to begin? What about you? What works for you to keep in shape?

Wordy Wednesday – Book Reviews!

I have been ready like crazy lately because I’m on break from school, so I have time to rediscover my love of books. I’ve also gotten a library card –  the first one I’ve had since I was a kid – and am LOVING the options. 😊

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Diamond Head by Cecily Wong

This is a cross-cultural love story (China to Hawaii) about choice, freedom and social expectations. While it is sad, it is well written and really keeps you turning the pages. The story follows a wealthy family, the Leong’s, as they rise and fall in Hawaiian society through scandal, illness, death and birth. It’s beautifully worded to whisk you away to Diamond Head and will truly make you feel for the characters as though they are real.

Many of the novels I read are cross-cultural. I find learning about other cultures fascinating – and I enjoy reading books set in their native countries as well as when they have relocated. If you don’t read books like this – I encourage you to try them! There is something truly beautiful about connecting with a character who shares absolutely nothing in common with you, to foster both love and understanding.

I would definitely recommend!

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All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

All the Broken Things follows the life of  Bo – an immigrant youth with a tarnished past, a “broken” sister, and a Mother too ill to parent. Bo takes on seemingly impossible tasks in an attempt to keep his family together, only to find it ripped apart by someone looking to exploit them.

This was a great book. It was sad, a little odd, and definitely challenging to my moral values – however the author takes a situation that is wrong in every way, sheds a bit of light on it to make it not only OK, but possibly even almost good. I love how strong and resilient Bo is, even at his young age. I love his fierce defense of his sister, and the way he perseveres despite everything being stacked against him. I can’t help but think that Bo will grow up to be a good, strong man that may change the world.

I think what I liked most was how smoothly the author set the situation up to appear deplorable, and then how expertly she crafts it into an OK situation, ripe with lessons and morals.

The entire time I read this book, I wasn’t sure about it. It was strange, in the way high school readers are strange (I’m looking at you – Lord of the Flies!). However, just like highschool readers – there were so many valuable lessons within its pages that you’re required to read the entire thing to really see.

Very well done, and I would definitely recommend. Also…this author is Canadian – another win! 😊


What have you been reading? Anything you’d recommend? I am ALWAYS on the look out for new books. 🙂

#microblog mondays – The Impossible.

Have you ever seen a movie that shocks you to your core?

This weekend, Mr. Big and I watched The Impossible.

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For those who haven’t seen or heard of it – it’s about a family, torn apart by the Tsunami in Thailand. It’s graphic, so graphic, and completely heart wrenching. There were moments where I was so overwhelmed by emotions that I actually couldn’t watch. Not just sad emotions, but every emotion – fear, anger, pain, happiness and relief.

I think it’s even more devastating because it’s a true story. And the stars of this movie are just one of thousands and thousands of families who were impacted by this disaster – and made out far better than so many. They were injured and traumatized, but they all survived… thousands of others lost their families, their homes, their jobs, their limbs or their lives.

I think what is most unsettling about this is that there is calm before the tsunami hits – and there is absolutely no chance of outrunning it. Much like a tornado that sometimes gives only seconds of warning … it’s absolutely terrifying. It highlights to me how badly we need better warning systems, and makes me realize how lucky I am to live somewhere where we are not often bothered by things likes tsunamis, tornadoes or hurricanes. Sure – we have avalanches, winter storms, floods and ice storms – but that is nothing compared to storms that actually take lives…hundreds of them.

I can’t imagine living in an area where the risk of these devastating events is more common – not to mention things like war, famine and disease. Sometimes, the world can be very scary…and all I can do is hold tight to my blessings, and help in any way I can to make the world a better place.

For more on Microblogmondays – or how you can join to – visit: http://www.stirrup-queens.com. 

 

Microblog Mondays – Funded IVF

I am lucky enough to live where there is funding available for a single cycle of IVF. Amazing thing, right? I know how incredible this is. I know how blessed I am to be somewhere that realizes the immense expense of fertility treatments and offers relief for that. I know there are thousands of couples that would give anything they could to have one single shot at IVF – but just cannot afford it. I know that. But here’s the thing – it’s not quite as wonderful as it sounds…

  • Waitlists are extremely long. Everyone who is considering IVF – regardless of whether or not they can afford it – is getting on the list because, why not? Free IVF is free IVF whether you’re low income or a millionaire. As you can imagine, this means that many desperate, lower income infertile women who have no other option are waiting upwards of 3 years to get to do IVF.
  • The Government controls who gets approved for the list. They pick people who are most likely to succeed – which means anyone with specific diseases, genetic conditions or moderate to high BMI’s are automatically disqualified.
  • The Government controls how many embryos can be transferred to try and limit the number of multiples being born. Basically, you have to go through all of the emotional and physical trauma of IVF for a single embryo transfer – regardless of what you want. I, for one, would love twins as I will likely only get one chance at motherhood, and really want more than one child. However, I know lots who want only one – and that’s OK too. The point is: we get to choose….but not now. Not with this program.

I’m on the waitlist anyway because it’s the only way I can do IVF right now. I am hoping to get to the top before I turn 35…but it’s hard to know. I have to be honest though – this entire program rubs me the wrong way. It feels like just ANOTHER way to control women’s rights, and their rights to their bodies … and it’s cruel because, as infertiles, we *already* know we can’t control our own bodies.

What do you think? How would you feel about this program?

For more on #microblogmondays, click here.

2018 & 2019

Well hello friends! I hope 2019 has greeted you well.

As for 2018:

All in all – it wasn’t a bad year. There was more growth in 2018 than ever before for both of us – and I really, truly, feel like we’re on the right path. It’s still rocky and uncertain at times – but it’s the right place for us.

I am hoping for only good things in 2019:

  • Finishing the book portion of my Masters (then it will just be my practicum!)
  • Taking another vacation
  • Reading more novels (I used to read until I started my Masters and now I only read text books)
  • Learning my cycles again through fert.ility frie.nd
  • Having more fun

I think these are achievable and mostly joyful experiences – and, at the end of the day, we all need more joy in our lives. 🙂

So there it is…a recap to 2018 and my hopes for 2019.

How were your holidays? Did you greet 2019 warmly, sadly, or like a warrior desperate to turn the page?

Thursday Update

Well hello friends!

Time for an update:

TV. Has anyone else been keeping up with Midnight Texas?? It was a show we stumbled upon accidentally in the first season and fell IN LOVE with…and then there was a delay for the next season so we thought it got cancelled…but it’s back on. So far we do not love it like we did the first season…but we’re still watching and lapping it all up like nobody’s business! I’m also loving all the holiday baking shows, as well as Big Bang and Young Sheldon. Do you have any shows you’re addicted to right now?

School. I’m approaching the halfway point of my Masters…crazy, right??? I can’t believe I’m almost halfway through. It has been such a whirlwind experience and I am learning SO MUCH. Already, I am much more thoughtful and considerate in almost everything I do. It has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made and I am loving it. I’m excited about my future career and already planning for my Practice … as lame as it sounds, I actually have a note on my phone where I jot down ideas for my future office and important things I want to remember – like resources or therapies. I’m sure I won’t forget those things…but I’m learning so much, I am worried some will fall by the wayside. I’m also killing it with my grades (if I do say so myself…)…and hope a scholarship is coming my way.

Marriage. Mr. Big and I are well. We’re enjoying the onset of winter – we’ve already been out snowmobiling twice this year and can’t wait to put our rods in the water. The lakes aren’t frozen enough yet, but will be soon for sure! We’ve also planned a ski trip in March for our 10th anniversary (10  years together!).  We’re definitely winter sport people.

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Fertility. Always present…no matter what! So I thought in doing my Masters, this ache would go away…but it hasn’t.

So I went to my Doctor and she ran the full gamut of “I want to have a baby” tests. For reference – I was diagnosed with PCOS 10 years ago on a whim by a Doctor who didn’t run any tests, and every Doctor since has worked off of her diagnosis. As soon as I started seeing my current Doctor, she flat out told me she wasn’t buying the PCOS thing for me…but then my mental health went sideways and I needed to focus on that instead.

But now I’m back to healthy again, and she decided to do a full fertility workup like she would do for a new patient…and guess what? Not a single damn thing is off. Not one. She is very considerate that we have been trying-not-trying for 7 years without a single positive…but due to a plethora of things we have also not been having regular sex which means those 7 years, while painful, are not necessarily an ideal example of our fertility. So… based off of that…she has offered this treatment plan:

  • Try naturally for 6 months. Continue exercising and eating well. (It’s usually 1 year, but she reduced it based on the fact that we haven’t used protection in 7 years).

If that doesn’t work:

  • Do up to 3 clo.mid cycles (if needed). Continue exercising and eating well. (At this point, I can choose to try metfo.rmin or fema.ra if I want…we’ll see).

If that doesn’t work:

  • Straight to IVF. Continue exercising and eating well. (This is the likely end goal for me. I don’t want to waste too much time on meds like metf.ormin or fe.mara if Cl.omid doesn’t work after 3 cycles. )

I’m going with it. It works for me…and it lines up nicely with the completion of my Masters. I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of PCOS markers…or why, then, that we haven’t gotten pregnant after all this time? But I’m not going to dwell on the whys because I can’t change them. Instead I am going to focus on these three goals and doing everything I can to make things happen for us.

So that’s what’s up in my world. I’m overall mostly confused, excited, surprised and eager for the next year to pass.

What’s happening with you?

Personalities Are Tricky

I am lucky enough to have a job that I really like most of the time…of course, there are bad days as there are with any job. But overall I feel valued, appreciated and useful. That is what has made this transition to my Masters trickier – I actually enjoy what I do so it was quit a decision to enroll. Now that I’m in school, I wouldn’t change it for anything and I am super excited about my future in it…but having a job I like makes the days go by much easier.

Except for one part… the personalities.

The issues I’m struggling with is how to work with people who are used to getting what they want by intimidating others without losing yourself in the process?

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I don’t want to become bitter and mean – but there are definitely days where the stress of dealing with these difficult people make me want to be bitter and mean. Not at all who I want to be.

I’ve decided to start looking at this as skill building for my future career – learning to navigate these relationships and identify ways to work around them is imperative to my success as a Therapist. I need to be able to handle difficult people, and find a way to not take it personally because that will lead to burnout really quickly.

If I can focus the next year on:

  1. Not taking things personally – they were irritable, demanding and whiny long before they met me and they will be long after.
  2. Being assertive – No means no. Not “no for now but if you keep asking me I will eventually give in” or “no, but complain to enough people and it will happen”.
  3. Not my circus, not my monkeys – Believe it or not … I actually have no ownership over these people. I work with them, but whether or not they are kind, thoughtful and team players is not my problem. I just need to find the best way to work with them as they are … while still getting the work done, and my needs met.

So – here’s hoping in a couple months things will be better! 🙂

How do you work with difficult people? What tricks do you use to keep yourself sane?

The Tire Swing: I am still infertile.

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When I started my Masters degree in May – I was certain that it would fill the void in me. It would give me something to do and a drive for the future. It would make me valuable to the world around me, even if I couldn’t procreate. I was at a rut in our journey to become parents – knowing I was not going to do IVF (possibly ever) … and knowing our chances to conceive naturally were getting smaller and smaller. And, to be honest, I was tired of waiting. I wanted to actually DO something other than wait for two pink lines. So I applied, and then got accepted, and enrolled. I am not sorry I did it, not even a little bit. I have never felt so fulfilled in my life, and I have a new passion that has lit a fire within me. It was absolutely the right thing to do and I am so glad I did it.

But you guys…. I’m still infertile.

My sister thinks she’s pregnant, and she is too afraid to take a test which tells me she REALLY thinks she’s pregnant. She has only felt this way one other time, and he is now 6 years old. Her partner does not want kids, which is why she’s afraid. My other sister had two surprise pregnancies, and they are 5 and 10 now. My cousins/aunts/uncles typically conceive before graduating high school, and all have multiple kids. I am the *only* infertile in all 54 of us. I thought I was over this, but the sting feels sharper this time than ever before.

Damn. Life can be so unfair sometimes. I know this is nothing compared to cancer or chronic illness or loss or poverty or war or starvation. I know that. But I’m all broken up inside just the same, and I need to vent these feelings.

On top of that..Mr. Big wants to take down my tire swing. He’s worried because it has seen better days – the weather has it in pretty rough shape…. but I just can’t bear to part with it. Two years ago, I hung it up because I was tired of arriving to my house and it looking lonely with this massive yard and zero kids toys. I needed something that was usable for my nephews, but still gave the impression kids lived here. I needed to see something that held hope and promise for the future…so I hung the swing.

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No one has ever used it. The boys would rather traipse through the woods on adventures than swing on it. I’m OK with that because the swing is more a symbolic gesture for me – a promise that one day, some how, there will be a child here to swing on this. So it will remain: forlorn, weathered and full of hope.

I am surprised to realize that while I love my school work, and am so passionate about it and looking forward to working in this field: my heart still belongs to the dream of motherhood.

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