I Almost Forgot

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
~Johnathan Safran Foer

I almost forgot that this day, November 27, used to be meaningful to me.  On this day, I guess 6 years ago now, I met the person who became one of my closest friends for a short time.  Last year I was sort of “celebrating” this milestone.  But up until I re-read the post from this day last year, I ha forgotten the importance of this date.

I admired her so much.  She embodied everything I thought I wanted to have in a role model and a friend.  She embodied everything I thought I wanted to be.  We became good friends for a short while, but then she pulled away.  I was hurt so badly.  Sometimes I still miss her, but most times I wish I could just stop thinking about her.  I catch myself wondering if there is still a “what if?” But then I bring myself back to reality.

I let myself be happy for a brief time by taking risks, living authentically, and being vulnerable.  Unfortunately, this happiness didn’t last and the loss of that friendship caused me a great amount of sadness.  The question then becomes, what that brief moment of happiness worth the sadness?  It is really hard to know for sure.

Some Things Never Change

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘where have I gone wrong?’  Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.”
~Charles M. Schultz

*this was supposed to be automatically published yesterday for NanoPoblano, but the new publisher doesn’t seem to like pre-scheduling my posts. Please accept my late post*

Yet another accurate post from Last year on The Old Blog:

I know what you mean, Charlie. I go through this on most nights. Despite realizing that it will take more than one night to recount all my mistakes, I just stay awake for most of the night thinking about everything. I must eventually get bored because I finally do fall asleep.
The worst nights are those when I’m on call; I get woken up multiple times and then have to try to fall asleep again multiple times. Each time it’s time to fall asleep again, I pick right back up where I left off when I fell asleep the last time. It’s usually quite a torturous night…
It’s always hard to know what are “mistakes” in life and what are just “the natural progression” of life events. Sometimes I can’t. Decide what’s worse between the two. If it’s just the way things were supposed to go, then it’s disheartening to know that there is no control and there is nothing you can do to change things. If something was a mistake, however, you feel bad about making a mistake but at least there is the possibility that you can make up for it…. Maybe.
Oh Charlie Brown, I wish I had the answers. If I did, I would be getting much more sleep at night. I would also feel like I was learning something about my life. Everything would be worth it, because I would become a better person, eventually. Hopefully it would also mean is make less mistakes in life.

Talking About Tina

“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it.  You have to go down the chute.”
~Tina Fey

From The Old Blog, November 25, 2014:

I really like Tina Fey.  That might be the reason I was inclined to pick this quotation.
I also really enjoy waterslides, especially those ones that you go down on inner tubes and they have all the little splash pools along the way.  I don’t ever remember being “that Kid” who got to the top of the slide and was afraid to go down.  I always embraced the moment and I’d get set up as soon as the last person went down: I’d grab the bar or the sides of the jets and prepare to propel myself down the first dip as soon as I got the okay from the disgruntled pool worker.  There must have been a time, however, when I was a little scared, or unsure, or hesitant.  I must have been very young though – because I don’t remember it.  If it did happen, I was young, and it was all new.  I’m allowed to be uncertain when something is new, right?

I don’t feel like talking all deep and philosophical today.  I am just happy to see that I had (maybe) a sense of humour when I picked out all these quotations.  I still love Tina Fey.  Over the summer I read her book, Bossypants, and I loved it.  I have tried to start watching 30 Rock, just because of her, and while I enjoy the show, I’ve just been too busy and tired lately.  I have a much greater appreciation for the person and the artist that is Tina Fey.  Let’s just leave it at that for today.

Tina Fey is awesome.  She makes me laugh, and I need a little more of that in my life!

Taking One Day At A Time

“The only Courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”
~Mignon McLaughlin

From The Old Blog, November 24, 2014:

I can only take my life one day at a time.  Getting through today is enough work and enough of a struggle. I lose confidence in my ability to survive when I imagine doing it all over again tomorrow.  Regardless, every time tomorrow comes, I get out of bed and survive once more.

It is a relief to know that having only enough courage for one day is all that matters.  I’ll worry about tomorrow’s courage tomorrow because likely in that next moment, I will find the courage I need to keep going.

That’s all I need, and that makes it a little easier to survive.

I really felt a string sense of peace with what I wrote last year on this day.  It was not *completely* about struggle, it was not about making good or bad decisions, it wasn’t about a friend I seemed to be over fixated on.  Rather, it was about me – the raw me – the true me.  While some days are better than others, I still days that feel like this post:  can’t imagine making it past this one day that I am living.  What is of ultimate importance, however, is that I just make it through the day I am living.  Tomorrow is another day.

  Something To Treasure

“If you are not happy, you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.”
~Robertson Davies

I had a difficult week at work.  I was tired from waking up early every day, putting in long hours at a mentally challenging job.  I had some patient cases that challenged me beyond my limits and made me feel like I’m not smart enough to be doing what I’m doing.  And worse, I felt like I will never be smart enough or capable enough to do this job I’ve picked for myself.  Saturday was no better, when I still had to get out of bed, put on my blue scrubs, and cart myself to work and do it all over again for another day.

The day started out with a difficult case: a woman who was sick and only getting worse.  The baby inside of her also showing signs of not thriving well.  The decision was made to deliver her baby and we wheeled her into the operating room.  A 27 week baby that looked more like a 24 week baby that was difficult to deliver… a lifeless baby that I handed to the nurse… a baby that needed CPR before being intubated and whisked away to the NICU.  And the a tattered uterus to put back together.

IMG_6458I left the OR feeling more tired and deflated.  The feeling of the baby’s brittle bones between my fingers and his heavy doll-like head bobbing in my hands was etched in my mind.  I walked back into the delivery room waiting for the next disaster but instead found a large bouquet of flowers on the desk… and it was for me.  A rare and unbelievable gift from my husband – something to keep me going for the day.  The card simply said, “Have a great day, Beautiful.”

And therein are my treasures: A loving husband, who might not always seem to “get me,” but he loves me nonetheless.  Two healthy children who will never know the difficulties of the baby I had just delivered.  Another growing child inside of me – one that I came by rather easily.  A job that I love, despite how much it exhausts me.  And, all the opportunity and ability that anyone in the world could wish for.

 

My Backstory

“We are all special cases.”
~Albert Camus

From The Old Blog, November 21, 2014

We all have a story that makes us who we are.  I would argue that these stories are not always fun to tell or easy to accept.  It is these stories, however, that make us “special.”  My story is far from great, but I know it could have been worse.  I am the grown up child of a messy divorce, and this simple fact has made the “special case” that I am today:

My parents were newly divorced and were too busy hating each other and making each other miserable to really realize what they were doing to their children.  They provided the necessities and we never wanted for anything physical – we were clothed and fed, we went to school and we did well.  Emotionally, they gave us nothing.  I never felt special or like I mattered to my parents.  My accomplishments always seemed to fall on deaf ears and land in front of blind eyes.  I was a 12 year old girl with nothing to motivate me and no one to encourage me.
~From The Old Blog

Some days I go back to being that 12 year old girl, and I get angry at myself every time I do it.  I am embarrassed that this so heavily defines who I am and how I interact with people.  I fear that I will never be able to escape from that 12 year old me.  And, that right there is the problem: I should not want to escape from her.  Rather, I should want to open up my arms to her and give her that which she never had.  I should be the one to support her, motivate her, cheer her along, giver her advice, and be her best friend.  That is exactly what she has spent the last 20 years trying to find.  Now I can be that for her, I just need to believe it.

We all have stories that make us special cases but many of us are too afraid to go back and read those stories.  Those stories are what make up who we are and we need to understand them to really understand ourselves.  Going back to the beginning can also tell us how far we’ve come and, hopefully, allow us to realize how much we can help ourselves.

I an not a special case because I am the grown up child of divorced parents.  I am a special case because of what I have become as a result:
I am sensitive, kind, and loving.
I work hard, seek perfection, and achieve my goals.
I put others before myself and passionately give everything I can.
I am a loving mom, a sincere wife, and a good friend.

I am all of those things, even if I don’t always believe it… even if other people don’t always believe it.

Singing While You Work

“He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn’t be done,
and he did it”

~Edgar A. Guest

I have to say, I’m surprised that this is a quotation that made the cut in this project last year.  It seems less “inspiring” than most of the others.  Perhaps my interpretation of the quote is just another difference between what I was feeling last year and what I’m feeling now.

I am still on the bottom end of getting through this “beast” known as residency.  However, I am a year closer to being finished than I was before!  Some days it still feels like this task ahead of me is an insurmountable challege, even when I know it can be accomplished if I just put my mind to it.  So, that must be what I’m doing – putting my head dow, singing a song, and getting the job done.  It’s not as easy as I’d like it to be, but the most important thing is that it’s getting done.

The sentiment in this quotation, I guess, is that you need to take your time, stay relaxed and finish one small step at a time.  Eventually, with this approach, you will get to the place you never thought possible. Here’s to hoping that in another year I can say I’ve gotten even more of the task completed (thought maybe not a full year since I’ll be taking a maternity leave), and this will be looking even brighter!

Mindfulness In The Rain

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining, is to let it rain.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love the story I told in this post from last year.  For that reason, I decided to again share the entire, unedited post.  This past year I have spent a significant amount of time “letting it rain.”  Perhaps not with the same thrill and intensity that I describe below, but I have allowed myself to be there in the rain.  I have felt the wetness soak into my hair and my clothes.  I have wrapped my arms around myself and tried to calm the shivers.  I let the beauty, often lost in the storm, come through: the sweet smell of the shattered and broken atmosphere, the sun attempting to shine through the clouds where they are thin, the edges of the rainbow as it starts to form and take shape…  I am learning to be present with the moment, especially when it is stressful and anxiety provoking, and this has made me realize that my experience of those storms will pass faster that they otherwise would if I tried to prevent them from soaking me.  My exercises in mindfulness, I know, have made a difference and re-reading this post made me realize that I need to get back into practicing my mindfulness on a more regular basis.

I may not be at that final endpoint of “finding what I had lost” as I describe in the post below.  However, I’ve come to realize that the endpoint may just be different.  I will never be able to experience I storm like I did when I was 13 years old, but I can experience them in a different way than I used to and that makes them so much more tolerable.

From The Old Blog, November 7, 2014:

When I was a kid, I loved the rain.  I remember a particularly gloomy day when I was in grade 7 or 8.  You could tell from the look of the clouds in the sky that it was going to rain at some point that day.  During class (maybe it was Language Arts, or Social Studies) we could hear the thunder off in the distance.  An electricity was starting to build, both in the air and in the classroom.  I was always drawn in by the energy of a storm – and it seems that my classmates were as well.  We gathered around the windows as the thunder became louder.  Bursts of lightening began to fill the sky and we started counting the mississippis between the light and the sound.

The quality of the air changed as the storm moved closer: It was chillier, but not cold, and it had that smell that only ever comes with a thunder storm (is it true that the smell is actually a result of lightening splitting atoms of ozone?).  The excitement intensified, and even the teacher didn’t seem to mind that we weren’t working anymore.

And then the rain came.

It pelted hard against the window panes and flooded the uneven tarmac of the school yard next to where our portable classroom sat.  I was high on the frenzy that was mounting within me and I had an insatiable urge to run outside and feel the rain against my skin.  We asked the teacher, who didn’t seem to care anymore, if some of us could go out in the rain.  He dared us.  And we did.

I ran outside into the storm with nothing to protect me.  The rain was thick and heavy, cool and unforgiving.  It hit hard on my skin, but I liked it.  It didn’t take a minute before my clothing was soaked and my hair was pasted down on my face.  Still, I looked up into the sky and spread out my arms.  There were no more mississippis left and the lightening and thunder came together.  For a moment it felt like the earth was shaking below me.  In that moment I loved the rain more than I loved anything else: I was wild, I was refreshed, I was cleansed, and I was at peace.  All of this, amidst the chaos of the storm.

Now when it rains, I still feel that little electrical surge of excitement, but I would never run out into the street to take it all in.  I don’t want to get soaking wet – I don’t want my hair to get frizzy. There is usually so much going on that it would seem odd – if not, inappropriate – to just stop everything and frivolously frolic in a rain storm.  And, what if I have no choice but to go out in the rain? Where is my umbrella, or my rain coat, or my rain boots?  Why, as adults, do we try so hard to avoid the rain?

The storms are going to come; there is no way to avoid them.  We expend so much energy and effort on staying in control. We are satisfied if we can prevent the rain from ruining our plans.  But what if we just stop for a moment and feel that electricity again – experience it like we did when we were children?  It seems as though we lost something along the way into adulthood and instead of finding the beauty in the storm, all we feel is the mess.

The rain will stop eventually.  The clouds will clear, the sun will shine, and our wet hair and clothing will dry.  So why not enjoy the rain? Rather than fight it, we should experience it’s fullness and feel it’s power.  We should emerge from the storm refreshed and transformed, not exhausted and defeated.

There was a reason I used to love the rain: it is something that I must re-discover.  When I can freely let the rain come down on me again, I will know that I have found what I have lost.

Hope is Unchanged

“Hope is the thing with feathers –
that perches in the soul-
and sings the tune without the words-
and never stops – at all”

~Emily Dickinson

From The Old Blog, November 6, 2014:

I initially picked this quotation because I like Emily Dickinson: She was such an interesting person!  While she was alive, and even afterwards, people thought she was just some crazy house-bound lady with irrational fears about leaving her house.  But then after she died, they found all her writing.  She was known for a few pieces of writing before she died, but it is her posthumous publications that have made her the literary classic that she is today.

Isn’t it interesting how much beauty and emotion she had in her writing – that she kept to herself for so many years?  I mean, she even asked her sister to burn all of her writing after her death (and thank goodness she didn’t!).  I think it relates somewhat to the idea of “isolation” that I mentioned on Nov 3.  How would Ms. Dickinson have been viewed by her peers if they read her writing while she was still alive?  Would it have made a difference in her life?

Anyhow, back to the quotation.  I like Emily Dickinson because her writing has so much insight.  I’ve never really taken the time to think about what “Hope” is.  Here, Dickinson characterizes it a bird in the soul that sings a song and never stops.  I’ve often wondered what it is that makes me get out of bed in the morning, even when I feel like there is no point.  What makes me wipe the tears off my face and move on to the next task at hand?  Surely it can’t be my own consciousness and willpower; Most of the time I lament the circumstances in life and wonder why there is any point to doing anything.  Regardless, there is something – some reason – I am able to rise up from the floor, steady my shaking knees and put one foot slowly in front of the other.
Maybe it is a song that plays deep down in my soul. 
Maybe it is the one thing that is always present and always constant.
Maybe this is Hope.

Hope is a feeling that what we want is attainable or that whatever is happening will turn out “for the best.”  At the worst possible moments we say that we’ve lost all hope – But somehow we still go on.  As long as we’re alive, we have hope.  Even if we don’t feel it, it’s there.  And as Ms. Dickinson says: “it never stops – at all”

I decided to present this post unchanged from its original state because I feel that it stands true.  Hope, as I described above, is a unique entity that will always stand the test of time.  Not much of what I wrote about in this post last year has changed, except maybe for the part where I talk about “lamenting the circumstances” in which I find myself.  I certainly do not feel that I lament my current life situation, even though I do sometimes questions my choices and my sanity.  Regardless, it is interesting to notice that hope, regardless of where we find ourselves in life, is unrelenting and unchanged.

This Winter is Better Than The Last

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”

~Anne Bradstreet

From The Old Blog, November 4, 2014:

An observation that I make every fall is that people are always complaining how cold the weather is becoming.  I am guilty of this as well.  However, I quickly remind myself that if we had these same temperatures in March or April, we would be over the moon with excitement and some of us would already be breaking out the capri pants and sandals.  While I am not “crazy” enough to still wear sandals in this chilly fall weather, the different perspectives based on the time of the seasons are not lost on me.

The seasonal metaphor is quite amenable to the normal ups and downs of life.  After reading my post from last year, I realize that I am not nearly as low or as cold as I was at this point last year.  I am however, feeling lower than I have at other points in this year.  I can tell you why though: I am tired and exhausted from my work schedule, and I’m not at all happy with my work-life balance.  I find it stressful that I don’t have control over these aspects of my life right now.  I am tired and exhausted from being pregnant and some days I still wonder why I thought this was a good idea.  I’m hoping when the spring comes (conveniently when this baby is due, as well), I will have the right answer to this question.

As a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder, it should come as no surprise that the winter months are harder for me than the spring and summer.  However, it is definitely these lows that make the highs better.  I am relieved to realize that (at least so far), this winter is not nearly as cold and drought filled as last winter, and that makes me feel so much better!  I wonder if it’s a coincidence that they are predicting a milder winter for this part of the world this year, too…