children · legacy · mortality

Yes: Jump. But Where?

1.29.19.jpgAt a women’s meditation retreat a decade ago, the question of “legacy” was posed.  In answer to, “What do you want your legacy to be?,” a trend emerged around the circle: the women who had children nearly all said their children were their legacy.  Done and done.

At the time, I felt that was such a cop-out.  That’s not a legacy!  Where’s the “you” in it?  Where’s the manifestation of the gifts and talents that only you can bring to the world?  That’s about your kids, not about you!

Clearly, I had/have some issues with judgment;P

But, as I consider kids myself, I’m brought up short on what I want my answer to the legacy question to be.

As I pondered yesterday the idea of not having children, suddenly it made the idea of death seem all the more looming and permanent.  That’s it.  Out, out, brief candle.  Poof.

So, what do you do with the time that you have?

For the first time, I began to see things the way J had before we’d met, before he’d considered having kids: a life of far-flung adventure, outdoorsiness, travel.  A life — as it was looking to me then — of filling the hours.

To me, as I imagined it yesterday, it looked like a manic, pell-mell careening through my years.  A “must do before death” muttering below my breath.  A panicked, gobbling up, blind and blindered race against the clock.  It didn’t look balanced at all.  It didn’t seem intentional at all.  It looked like it may often look: a willful dervish to drown out the immediacy of death.

Because kids or no kids, I’m gonna die.  (SPOILER!)

I’m in the habit of pouring my days through the hourglass unmet, unnoticed, unintentional.  Kids or no kids, that’s no way to live life!

I know that sending my progeny into the future is in itself a legacy.  But I also see that I need an answer to the question of the worth and effect and meaning of my life, whether or not they’re there.

What do I want the sum of my days to mean?  In what activities, and to what end, do I want my hours to be spent?

Being intentional with these answers will offer me solace, ground, and purpose, regardless of my uterus’ status.

 

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children · ecology · quandary

To be or not to be?

1.28.19.jpgAt the risk of getting pulled off course (whatever course that may be!), my thoughts have been returning lately to the question of whether or not to have children.

There are many detractions or concerns that, written in a “no” category, could persuade me toward not procreating.  Reasons such as financial concerns, time concerns, fears and worries about the physical, emotional, and mental health of potential children, concerns of how my past chemo treatment and my and J’s moderately advanced ages might affect the genetic viability of children, awareness that we both have mental health and addiction issues in our family trees…

So, Yeah!  There are plenty of reasons to feel trepidatious about having kids!  But none of the above is the one that really brings me pause right now.  It’s a crap shoot, and yes, those kinds of challenges could possibly be real, but the one that I know IS real is the possibility of bringing a child into a planet that is not going to be able to meet the needs of the people on it.

I was reading about the melting “permafrost” after watching an episode of “Madam Secretary” (which I love) where an eco-warrior was infected with smallpox after doing work in Siberia.  And while the smallpox infection wasn’t based on true events yet… anthrax was.  A person was infected with anthrax after the thaw exposed an anthrax-infected reindeer!  The melting of this layer of frost will release more CO2 and methane than humans have produced in all of our history.

Add to this: the insect apocalypse, polar vortex in NY, drought in CA.  Draining the (literal) swamp for human building releases CO2 that plants had been holding on to; continued degradation of the rainforests that keep our planet stable; increasing hardscapes that reflect heat back into the atmosphere… and I begin to feel increasingly selfish about having children.

Do you bring an unwitting person into a planet that is not doing so well?  Do you place this burden onto another generation?

Of course the optimists around (or within) me say, “Well, maybe you’ll produce a scientist who will help forestall the inevitable.”  Yeah, maybe.  But what about that inevitable part?

There are many reasons to have children, some more selfish and selfless than others.

Is.

It.

Fair.

to ask a new human and potential line of humans to take up the mantle, too?

 

economy · finance · savings

Don’t get mad; get informed.

1.24.19A little over a year ago, the penny dropped on the concept of “inflation.”  For several years now, I’d been able to save a little money each month and the number in my savings account was slowly rising a few pennies a month.  I’d had my money in my regular bank’s savings account and had considered that the “right” thing to do.

Then, I was walking in a park with J, and for reasons which are lost to time, he wound up explaining the following:

A cup of coffee that today costs one of my dollars will next year cost a dollar two.  But I will still only have the same thing called one dollar.  Meaning that conceptually, even if I save that dollar, I’ll only have 98cents where this year I have a whole dollar.

What this idea sent me into was a panic.

Because for more than five years, I’d diligently been siphoning off money every month into my savings account — but now realized that there was a hole in the bottom of that bucket called “inflation.”

No matter the fact that it was in a savings account (and yes, technically I was “saving”), that money was also leaking out a sieve with every moment it sat in a near-no-yield account.

I was appalled.  I literally dropped his hand, stopped walking in the middle of the path, and was aghast.  WHAT?!  Wait, what?!  Explain this again.

And he did.  And I didn’t move.  He eventually nudged me on as I felt the foundation of savings I’d been building crumple to sand beneath me.

If the price of everything goes up about 2% a year, but my dollar in the bank is not growing at that same rate, I am losing money. (sort of)

Nearly immediately, I researched savings accounts that could rival the rate of inflation and found Synchrony Bank and Marcus Savings, each of which now have savings rates of over 2%.  The 2018 rate of inflation (CPI, in this case) was 1.9%, meaning by putting my money in those savings accounts, they ARE actually earning money, which is what I had thought my savings account was doing in the first place!

I had imagined that by putting my money in a savings account, that each month those little additions of a dollar here and a dollar there were EARNINGS.  It turns out that, because they weren’t keeping up with the rate of inflation, they were not only NOT earnings, they were indicating a LOSS.

Forchrissake.

For years, I had felt self-esteem about saving every month.  Which is great, and well and good, and I continue to think that it is important.

However, with the penny, nickel, DOLLAR drop that I had last year, I realized that all of that hard earned money was actually a drain.

So, I suppose this is a cautionary tale about ignorance of the financial system — because understand it or not, like it or not, want to be in the “system” or not, I am a part of it.  And, I DO want to be in the system, because that can be where benefits are.  If there are options for me to increase (or at least HOLD) my teeny weeny wealth while I SLEEP, then I should do everything I can do to that.

And while I also later made other choices that increase that yield, starting with moving my savings to a sturdier bucket was a start.

 

fun · habits · renewal

Spinning Yarn.

1.23.19.jpgThe Deepak/Oprah meditation I was listening to this morning, from their “Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude” series, spoke of the idea of being the author of your own story.

Now, as a good “Once Upon a Time” TV show nerd, the idea of being The Author appeals to me!  But, so does it appeal to me the idea of renewing my story every day.

The meditation spoke about how repetition makes life stale, and that’s not only in the “same breakfast, same job” kind of way, but also in the “same attitudes, same thoughts” kind of way.  What kind of thought habits do I have?  And moreover, what kind of thought habits do I want?

Many of my thought patterns center around the idea of my being stagnant, procrastinating, far from my goals even when I know what they are.  (The irony is that thought itself is stagnant!)  So this morning during the quiet meditation portion of the recording, I tried something called “Mental Dress Rehearsal,” as it’s called in my Executive Functioning training at school.

To really run through a scene how I want it to play out.  To feel the skin sensations, the emotions, the engagement and presence I want to feel.  Whether that’s inhabiting the idea of playing the piano or trying something new in the boudoir, seeing it happen and living it in my imagination feels much better than haranguing myself for not doing or getting or having the experiences that I want.

There’s a tongue-in-cheek line J likes to throw out occasionally: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”  I’m pretty sure we all know this one from our internal dialogues, harassing ourselves to do, be, or think something different.  And, clearly, it not only doesn’t seem to work well for me, but it saps my energy so that it’s difficult to rise above those thoughts.

If, by the opposite tack, I can begin to use my mental power to envision what it is I do want, spinning those positive stories, crafting the exact and enlivening nature of those experiences, and creating a narrative that lifts me up, inspires me, and sparks my spirit, then those are the kinds of mental habits to strengthen.

Imagine on, reader.

 

abundance · level up · partnership

Maximizing.

1.22.19.jpg
Not the actual bathroom we saw, but not that different either!

This weekend, J and I checked out a place for rent in the East Bay.  We’ve been considering the option of moving out of the homogeneous, one-horse town we live in back to a place where the average age isn’t 25 years above ours and the options for adventure are more varied (though outdoor options here are plentiful).

Afterward, J commented that he was proud of me.  “Why??”  Because in the past, I would have jumped on the place that we saw.  It barely eeked past the necessities, in that it had a roof and four walls!  But the truly atrocious absence of upkeep and update of the place were obvious to me—for perhaps the first time, he said.

I’m a Satisfiser.  Meet the lowest, most basic requirements?  Done.  He’s a Maximizer.  Suuuure, this may indeed meet those, but what else is there?

Each approach has its benefits and deficits.  I can tend to be okay with some pretty low standards (see my blog about being “shmutzy”!); he can tend to research at the expense of taking action.  My way means there’s movement (mostly forward!); his way means he’s aware of a greater field of possibilities available for the taking.

There’s a concept of couples becoming more similar to one another over years, and while this has some pieces within me screaming, “AGENCY!!”, there is a benefit to being positively influenced by someone you’re so close to.  I’m becoming more discerning; he’s becoming more content.

While we still have vast gulfs of difference in some areas, the ability to appreciate one another’s style for its benefits means we’re more effective and efficient.  Being able to make decisions that raise my acceptable standard of living at a speedier pace means I get to spend more time living in and with those better things.  And as Maybelline told me years ago: I’m worth it.

 

compromise · partnership · time

Time Wars

I’m slowly making my way through Minimalist Parenting, written by two women who, according to their bio blurbs on the back of the book, founded blogs named to the “Top 100 Mommy Blogs” (which both makes me want to puke that there is such a thing and inspires me!).  What I’m noticing, though, is that there is SO MUCH useful information in the book for any person who lives with someone else, be that a roommate or partner or child.

One of the questions asked by them early in the book is, “What is your ideal time style?”  If given an ideal day, would you plan it by the hour to ensure everything that you want gets accomplished, or would you seat-of-the-pants it and see how the day unfolds?

I am the former “Plan it down!” and J is the latter “Let’s see how it goes.”  Asking this of myself and of him illuminates how differently we approach our days, and also lends perspective to why we fall into tensions around shared time.

It’s important for me to see that it’s impinging for him when I ask, “When?” and it’s unmooring for me when his response is, “Whenever.”

As our lives overlap further, it becomes more necessary that we have consideration for the other’s ideal.  I need to take a deep breath when he says whenever and he needs to give me some boundaries of time within which to place that “whenever.”

I recognize that we’re pretty lucky that we’re well aligned on one of the major sources of couple tension—money—, but Money and Time can be part of one gestalt:  is there enough of it, how does one “make” more, can you “save” it?

J and I approach Time differently.  To embrace cohabitation bliss, we must each give a little latitude to the other’s approach.

Because however we view the sacred gift of Time, we’ve chosen to share it with one another.

 

habits · self-care · self-esteem

Sabotage.

1.11.19.pngI can be a little schmutzedecke (the state of being schmutzy).  I used to notice it in a different way several years ago, when I’d knock into doorways as I’d pass through and ricochet off (No, I wasn’t drunk!).  Or I’d whack my hand on something as I went by.  Or notice a bruise I don’t remember getting.  None of these things were that painful–in fact, they mostly didn’t register to me.  It was just how I walked through the world, and I didn’t much notice it.  Until I did.

Having been dubbed “The Ice-Pack Queen” in 6th grade for the frequency of times I ended up in the nurse’s office for one, I’d long lived in a state of semi-unawareness of my physical body and state.  There was a physical feedback loop that could happen for my body as I bumped and bruised myself through life: I existed, I took up space, I bump therefore I am.  At the same time, there was an opposite expression: I don’t have physical boundaries in the world, it doesn’t matter what happens to my body, I don’t exist.

Over time, this habit of walking into walls (graceful, I know!) subsided, and I’m pleased to report that’s no longer a regular part of my experience—aside from a sporadic stubbed toe.

However, where this type of behavior shows up today seems to be in the schmutzy realm.  The yiddish/German term implies having a little grime on oneself.  Not splattered with mud or trailing a Pig-Pen-like cloud of filth, my schmutzedecke nature is not (only) the physical spot of dirt realm, but the how I put myself together realm.  Sure, I may have a stain of coffee here or a deodorant mark there, but moreso what I’m realizing is that I almost on purpose mess myself up.  Like “accidentally” walking into doorways.

There’s a laissez-faire aura about putting myself together that I don’t really enjoy.  A feeling of, “It doesn’t matter how I present,” when I know inside that it does matter to me.  It’s the small stain or rip, the dowdy sweatshirt when I get home, the splatter left on the stovetop.

I’ve allowed myself to be in a space that reflects that I don’t value how I’m put together, that I “can’t” put myself together, or that, somehow, this put-together thing “passed me by in life and it’s too late” despair whirlpool.

While there are, of course, times that I “pull it together” and look fierce, those are the exceptions.  More often, I’m walking out the door a product of (feigned) indifference about my presentation.  It’s not a “I want to be label conscious” thing; it’s a “I want to embody my self-esteem” thing.

At some point in my past, I began to notice that I didn’t like “beating” my body up as I slammed and banged through the world.  And that habit faded.  Today, I feel I’m beginning to notice I don’t like slapping on or mushing up my physical envelope.

Perhaps with this awareness will also come change.