Thursday, March 31, 2011

Untying My Knot

I went to check out a new OB on Tuesday, thought maybe that next time I get pregnant it would do me some good to have a change of scenery.  As I sat in the waiting room, of the office in a very old building that is very close to my house, I looked around at the young pregnant couple, and the old pregnant couple, and I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.  It felt positive there, like good things were going to happen for me there.  It felt refreshing and freeing.

The nurse called me back and took my blood pressure and weight - she was wearing a hot pink hair clip, hot pink scrub pants, a hot pink watch and hot pink hoop earrings.  If you know me, you know I like pink and I LOVE to match.  I said, "cute watch" and she said, "the nurses here make fun of me because I like to match."  Best friends!  She brought me back to the very small and dingy exam room while I waited for the nurse practitioner.

Nancy was referred to me by two of my girlfriends who have had babies delivered by doctors who work in this office.  When she came in, she told me she had no voice and we had a lovely discussion about allergies (because they are always killing me).  Then I told her my story and added the parts about my previous OB not checking my chart multiple times and scheduling me for things at the wrong time and so on and she just listened.  Then I asked her my questions about taking baby aspirin and progesterone when I get pregnant again and she said those are not normally things the doctor at this office suggests after one miscarriage.  But, if for piece of mind I'd like to do them, they will support me.

I also asked if I got pregnant again what they would do and she said they would do an early ultrasound at 6 weeks to ease my mind.  I asked her if I could then come in every two weeks to see/hear the heartbeat and she told me I could come as often as I liked if it would make me feel better.  I liked that.  She also said two things that really stuck with me.  One of them was that some women think pregnancy is a disease, but really it's just a health condition.  Her words really hit me.

Can I be honest here?  I did not enjoy being pregnant.  Waiting for the baby, thinking I felt movement, and getting excited about being huge and pregnant, I loved.  But looking back now, without a baby in my arms, I did not have a pleasant experience.  I was only 11 weeks when I found out I was having a miscarriage so I never reached the promise land of the 2nd trimester.  I'm so scared of throwing up that I thought I was going to barf every day and became obsessed with it.  I also never looked pregnant and just felt bloated and tired all the time, so I never got to see the fun looks or hear the pregnant questions.  And, let's not mention the super painful end of my pregnancy.  The whole thing was not fun.  So, up until she said that, I DID think of being pregnant as a disease.  I hated it and the thought of it scared the crap out of me.  I looked at as I wouldn't be able to do anything again and would feel sick all the time and would have to just lay around and do nothing.  But, it isn't a disease and I don't have to view it as one.  I can have fun with this again, I just have to change my attitude about it.

She also said one more thing that I liked.  I asked her if she needed my records from my old OB, somewhere I had been since I was 16.  Nancy replied, "No.  Why don't we just start fresh?  Let's just keep those there and if we need them we'll get them.  But for now, let's just start over and leave the past there."  I agree and enjoyed her positivity.  I really did feel like that dingy old office was a fresh start for me, and fit me more than the stuffy, fancy north Scottsdale one anyway.

So, with my new found positive outlook, I went to Meg's yoga class at Desert Song.  I don't know what it is about yoga lately but I am so IN it with myself the whole time I almost cry during it.  We sang our song in the beginning and that almost made me cry, then Meg read something and I almost lost it and then while I was working it (it was a TOUGH class that night) I almost lost it again.  It is so healing for me, it not only flushes out my body but my mind too.  I love it more than words.

At the beginning of class, Meg described these three knots we have in our bodies - one in your core (belly) in your heart (chest) and in your third eye (forehead).  She said when we do yoga, we wring these knots out and untie them, leaving openness after.  So, at the end of class Meg read this poem:

Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot,
seek the path that demands your whole being.
Leave that which is not, but appears to be,
seek that which is, but is not apparent.
                                                                    ~ Rumi

I repeated the first line over and over in my head so I could remember it, and then looked it up on my phone when I got out to the car.  "Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot."  My knot is pregnancy.  It was such a horrible experience for me and I am so scared to do it again.  The time is approaching for us to try again and I am so frightened of it.  "Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot."  I have to do it again, I will have a positive experience and I will have fun.  My knot is the negativity I apply to the experience I had.  It will be different next time.  "Seek the path that demands your whole being."  It will take all of me to do this again.

So, here we go.  I've decided to wait another month until our home repairs are done and school is almost out so it looks like I will have to face my fears soon.  And, after my visit with the OB and this yoga class, I am less afraid now.  I am still scared as hell, don't get me wrong, but a peace has come over me.  I can do this, it will be fun, and it is not a disease.  "Leave that which is not, but appears to be.  Seek that which is, but is not apparent."  


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Much Needed Vacation

During Spring Break this year, we got in my mom's car and headed out to San Diego (gas is cheaper in her car - thanks mom!).  Last time we went, in October, we stayed on Coronado Island at a really cute hotel and it was such a relaxing trip, so we wanted to go again.  San Diego is just so close, and is an easy getaway with an ocean view! 

If you know Ian and I, we don't just drive non-stop somewhere, we have to take stops at interesting places along the way.  So, during this trip, we stopped at the Imperial Sand Dunes, did some shopping and then ended up at Days Inn Hotel Circle for two night in San Diego (thanks mom and Joe, again!).  It was a fast trip, I kind of wish we would have stayed another night, but was a much needed rest from home and work.  We have been working on replacing the insulation in our attic (old, crumbly foam), so Ian (and his dad, Henry) have been bagging up and removing the old stuff getting it ready for new, allergen free, polyester insulation.  (If you're interested in non fiberglass and non cellulose insulation, this is a good alternative.  You won't find it anywhere, but can order it from the company through Home Depot.  You can also try this stuff, although it was about $500 more.) 

Ian had been working so hard, and for so many weeks, that he was starting to feel a tightness in his chest from being hunched over in the attic (don't worry, he wore a mask and gloves).  Also, our quarters at school are usually only 9 weeks (then we get a week or two week break), but this quarter was 10 - and we all felt it.  We were ready to get out of work and take a break away from the kids, and from our dusty house.  So, we were San Diego bound.

We drove through Gila Bend because I hadn't seen the Space Age Hotel/Restaurant in awhile.  It was pretty cool, I just wish they'd play it up more.  Gila Bend, not so cool.

We stopped at Dateland and got date shakes - if you've never had one, they are delicious - and of course had to buy silly trinkets.  Mine is shopping, Ian's is playing soccer?

One day, when I finally buy a Prius and we sell Ian's truck, we will get ATVs and come here.  These sand dunes are gorgeous!  So surreal - and where they shot Return of the Jedi (click link for a pic of Jabba's ship on the dunes).  They are the largest dunes open to the public and they go all the way into Mexico.

Some giant windmills we passed on the road, so cool.  They probably power El Centro - I love renewable energy.  We also passed a tree in the median decorated with tinsel, lights and ornaments and a big armchair on the side of the road.  I love roadtrips!

We got stopped at two border patrol stops in California.  People talk about Arizona's immigration laws all the time, but we saw Hispanic men getting frisked and racial profiling happening right before our eyes in California.  Tsk tsk, California.  (I made this one big so you could read the sign.)

 We made it!  Our Days Inn hotel room, it was a kitchenette.  Nice room, ok beds, noisy with tourists, but good for us.  We loved just being away from home!

Our first night we wanted to go out to dinner someplace nice and with a view of the ocean.  After searching Yelp for awhile, Ian found C Level.  It is right on the harbor with views of downtown and Coronado Island.  The food was amazing, the scenery was gorgeous and we sat outside with heaters at a table right on the water.  It was amazing.  (Sorry for the dark pics, mood lighting.)

(Parmesan encrusted brie, delish!)

(Fish and chips with shoestring fries, my fav.)

(Lobster mac and cheese with big chunks of lobster and scallops - indescribably good.)

(The outdoor area was super cute.)

The next day, even though it was cold and cloudy, we headed to the beach on Coronado Island.  We like it there because it's not crowded and it was St. Patrick's Day and we kind of wanted to avoid the craziness.  So, we stopped at our favorite store, New Island Market, got some tuna and hummus and had a picnic on the sand.

(Ian always has to build something, even though he said he would take it easy this time because of his chest.)

(His masterpiece.  We hoped people would walk by all day after we left and say, "Hey!  That's not me!"

(As we were leaving, it was freezing, we saw a game of beach volleyball - trunks vs. speedos - as Ian said.  It was hot, like Top Gun hot.)

(How much would you LOVE to buy a crappy house with a view and then tear it down and build a new one?!  Amazing.  I wish they were constructing OUR new house!)

We wanted to go and check out this hotel, for another trip, so we headed to Pacific beach to see what that was all about (don't bother, it was gross!).  We walked out on the pier of another hotel (that we also wanted to see) and took some great pics  (We also saw dolphins in the water!)

(This was right after the tsunami in Japan and the waves were CRASHING and the pier was shaking!  I had to get off after a little bit, it was freaking me out!)

On our way back from searching for Starbucks and sunburn lotion on Hotel Circle, see below, I found my favorite flower, a snap dragon.  And, you always have to make it sing!

For dinner, we headed back to Coronado and walked around, checking out all the restaurants.  We ended up finding this place, and had AMAZING quinoa veggie burgers and grass-fed beef burgers.  It had been FOREVER since we had a burger from a burger shop (since we don't eat meat that isn't organic).

(The moon was gorgeous!)

And, of course, Ian got sun burnt and I didn't.  I was so jelly:

The next day, we headed back to the beach, early, to look for shells.  Apparently Fall and Spring are not good times to do this, because I didn't find much.  Walking back from the beach we went through the neighborhoods holding hands and looking at the amazing houses.  It was such a beautiful day, perfect weather, and so peaceful.  We tried to think of ways we could move to Coronado - how to make a lot of money and fast.  We ended the morning by eating breakfast at a really cute french place and then drove back home, stopping at the Coach Outlet at Viejas, of course.

We got home Friday night and took it easy all weekend.  Ian still wasn't feeling good, now his chest thing was freaking him out causing him to have panic attacks because he felt he couldn't take a breath.  So, on Sunday night, at 10pm, we headed to the ER.  It turns out that he had inflammation in his chest (not cause by the attic dust, we asked) due to an infection - usually from being sick.  However, he was never sick so it was really weird.  The infection was causing him to feel like he couldn't take deep breaths, when really he was getting enough oxygen the whole time.  They did an x-ray, gave him some medicine and prescribed ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory.  (But, be careful when you take anti-inflammatories, later we found out they could cause a peptic ulcer.)  He's fine now, feeling much better, and told me I could post this pic for posterity:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Songs of the Self

Every year, I have my students do a project called Song of the Self.  It's part of our poetry unit and it is supposed to partly teach poetry through music but also it allows the students to express personal parts of their lives in class.  Something they are not offered the opportunity to do much in school.  They have to find a song that has profoundly affected their life.  It can't be a song they just like, it has to be a song that means something to them.  It takes thought and they have to accompany the song with a one page written essay about why they picked the song.  If they pick a song they liked and can't say anything about it, they do not get the points.

Each year I tell them that almost everyone who presents cries and every year, they doubt me.  But, when the time comes to present their song, they are too overcome to go on and I usually have to read their presentations for them.  Then, we follow along with the lyrics while listening to their song.  It really makes us a family in my classroom and everyone is so much more respectful of everyone else after wards.  It's that compassion I was talking about.  (Maybe this is also why I've never had a fight in my room, for the past 11 years that I've been teaching.)

Now, I am not a musician.  And, if you ask me what I like better, music or movies, I would say movies or TV.  I don't sit around listening to music, other than in the car or a few rare times at home, and I'd rather watch TV to relax and shut my mind off.  I've always been this way.  But, it's not to say that there are song that deeply affect me sometimes, every single time I hear them.  

When I was graduating with my Bachelor's Degree from ASU, and my dad was having a bit of a mid-life crisis, we went out to Los Angeles to get an aptitude test.  This wasn't some "stare at ink blots and tell me what they mean" one day test, this was a three day, for hours and hours test.  At the end of it you were supposed to get a print out of what your career should be based on what your aptitude was for certain things.  We looked at pictures, played with blocks, did vocab. tests, listened to tones - all while a guy with giant eyebrows recorded everything.  My dad was hoping that at the end of it, he would get a printout of one thing, or a couple things that he was supposed to be doing in life.  I hoped, after 5 years of school, that my aptitude was for teaching because all of my money went to ASU for it.  So, at the end I got a printout that said, teacher or writer.  But, my dad got a long list including lawyer, his job at the time, writer, publisher, etc.  He was mad but I was happy, what I loved to do was also what I was good at doing.  Score.  

But, there was part of the test I did poorly at - and that was tone.  We had to listen to two tones, a high and low, and then say which was higher or lower.  My dad was amazing at it, he plays the guitar and LOVES music, but I sucked.  They all sounded the same to me and I knew what I always knew, I was tone deaf (Christine knows it too when I sing in the car!).  I am one of those people that sings along with the music and thinks I sound JUST like they do, it is a condition, I really do hear that I match.  But, if I were on American Idol, I would get laughed out because apparently what I"m hearing is wrong.

Even though I don't hear music correctly, or sit back and listen to it to relax, I do love music.  I love it because it says things you can't say, it speaks for your heart.  It expresses all of your emotions even when you can't.  It moves you.

When my step-mother was dying in the hospital, I drove home listening to Samson by Regina Spektor.  When I wanted to reminisce about being young I listened to Night Swimming by REM.  When I wanted to be happy it was Boys Don't Cry by The Cure.  When I'd think of my dad, it was always Slip Slidin' Away by Paul Simon (also the father/daughter dance at our wedding).  There are so many more, these are just a few that I've chosen to represent my life over the years (or should I say, they chose me).  To this day, these songs, and many others, come on my iPod and I think of a time, a person or an event that happened to me.  It is amazing what music can do.

I have posted a song on here before, but here are some others that speak my heart lately.    (And, it's strange becaue I'm sure these songs are written about love between significant others, but to me they are about love between me and my baby I never met.)  Feel free to share some of yours in the comment section below.  These really are Songs of the Self for all of us. 

"The Calculation" by Regina Spektor

You went into the kitchen cupboard
Got yourself another hour
And you gave
Half of it to me
We sat there looking at the faces
Of these strangers in the pages
'Til we knew 'em mathematically

They were in our minds
Until forever
But we didn't mind
We didn't know better

So we made our own computer out of macaroni pieces
And it did our thinking while we lived our lives
It counted up our feelings
And divided them up even
And it called that calculation perfect love

Didn't even know that love was bigger
Didn't even know
That love was so, so
Hey Hey Hey

Hey this fire it's burnin'
Burnin' us up

So we made the hard decision
And we each made an incision
Past our muscles and our bones
Saw our hearts were little stones

Pulled 'em out they weren't beating
And we weren't even bleeding
As we lay 'em on the granite counter top

We beat 'em up
Against each other

We beat 'em up
Against each other

We struck 'em hard
Against each other

We struck 'em so hard
So hard until they sparked

Hey this fire it's burnin'
Burnin' us up

"Like a Song" by Lenka

I can't forget you when you're gone
You're like a song that goes around in my head
And how I regret, it's been so long
Oh, what went wrong? Could it be something I said?

Time, make it go faster or just rewind
To back when I'm wrapped in your arms

All afternoon long it's with me the same song
You left a light on inside me, my love
I can remember the way that it felt to be
Holding on to you

I can't forget you when you're gone
You're like a song that goes around in my head
And how I regret, it's been so long
Oh what went wrong? Could it be something I said?

Time, make it go faster or just decide
To come back to my happy heart

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I have been practicing gratitude.  I think the reason I was so healthy before this year (for two years I didn't get sick) was because I was so grateful for everything in my life.  It's not that I'm not grateful recently, it's just hard to be grateful after you feel like crappy things happen to you for no reason.

It's like people who have someone close to them die.  They either find God (or something to believe in) or they lose God with the death of a loved one.  I guess I had lost my ability to be grateful and I'm trying to get it back.  I'm trying.

I went to the copy room at school and found a paper sitting there titled "How Gratitude Can Change Your Life."  I am a believer that everything happens for a reason and that I was meant to find this.  I copied it, left the original and said to myself right then and there that I would try to be more positive and thankful from now on.

The paper defines gratitude as "learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you've been given."  It says to "shift your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present."  Gratitude, through behavioral and psychological research, "makes people happier and more resilient, strengthens relationships, improves health and reduces stress."

I guess there was a study done where several hundred people were split up and asked to keep a diary every day.  The first group was told to write about all the events of each day, good and bad.  The second group was told just to record their unpleasant experiences and the third group was to make a daily list of all they were grateful for.  The group that did the gratitude exercise "reported [higher] levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy."  They also experienced "less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals."  So, I guess focusing on the good every day CAN really change your life.

I used to think I was a very lucky person, I used to lay in bed at night and thank God (or whomever is up there) for everything I had.  Then, my grandpa died, my step-mother passed away, my dog got out and hit by a car, and we lost our baby.  I started to focus on all the bad things that have happened and wondered if I wasn't lucky after all.  I wondered why bad things happen to good people and questioned whether anyone was there listening to us after all.  I started slipping away into a pool of nothingness, and the surface got further and further away from me.

Then, I had an alright week and found this paper and read it.  And now, this week, I feel even better.  I started very simply, just kneeling in my bathroom at night before bed, taking deep, belly breaths and trying to relax.  I was still so sweaty while I slept (and knew it wasn't my hormones after all this time) and read somewhere that it could be depression.  Was I really depressed?  I guess I was - something I had never been before.  So, I had to make a change and pick myself up and move on.  After the deep breathes each night, I would say one thing I was grateful for, even if I had to search for it.  I wanted it to be something specific, and something that was new each night - not the same old "family," "friends," "my life" stuff.  So, that's what I did.  I was tired of feeling so sad, tired of being sick (I've been sick so much this year), and tired of crying and feeling empty - I had to do something else.  Something that would make me feel lucky again.

Here I am.  It has been a little over 6 weeks since we lost a blueberry and I'm feeling better.  And, wait for this next part --->  I'm actually enjoying not being pregnant.  (Are you shocked?!)  It has been nice getting back into working out, being able to rush around at work, having time to lay around when you don't really have to and getting things done around the house (not to mention my flawless skin and all of this energy!).  We got a new roof, are working on getting new insulation and hope to have the house painted and a few windows replaced before we start trying to get pregnant again.  I also really feel like myself again, something I haven't felt since last summer, before I went into anaphylactic shock.  I was short of breath after that and couldn't really do all that I wanted, and then got pregnant, but now I'm back and feeling good. 

Don't get me wrong, I definitely wish I was still pregnant (I would be a little over 17 weeks) but it HAS been fun being able to drink, eat brie and work on the house - even though I HATE to admit it.  I do miss my friend and I can't wait to try again, but I am enjoying where I'm at right now too. 

So, I guess practicing gratitude has increased my happiness levels just like the paper said.  Now, I encourage you to try it too.  You will be more creative, bounce back quicker through adversity, have a stronger immune system and have stronger social relationships if you learn to focus on the good things in your life (according to Dr. Emmons of this book).  He says, "to say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great.  It just means we are aware of our blessings."  We tend to take things for granted, good things, every day.  Well, imagine losing some of the things you take for granted like your house, your ability to see, your ability to walk or anything that gives you comfort.  Then, imagine getting each of these things back, one by one and consider how grateful you would be for them.  Find joy in the small things instead of holding out for the big ones, think of what makes you happy EVERY DAY.

"Remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit.  In the face of adversity ask yourself:  What is good about this?  What can I learn from this?  How can I benefit from this?"  Or as a good friend said to me, "Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open."  I like this.  This isn't that stupid "when you close a door another one opens" quote, but instead a way to look at everything that happens to you and how to find goodness after. 

Bad things happen to good people.  They don't happen for any reason and it doesn't matter what kind of life you've led before (I used to think differently).  They just happen.  Instead of looking for the good in it, because let's face it - sometimes there isn't any, look at what it's taught you or how you can come back from this situation.  I have a quote on my classroom wall about failure (from Gandhi):  "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."  And someone posted something similar on Facebook today (by Mary Pickford):  "You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down but staying down."  So, get back up, dust yourself off and come out smiling on the other side.

Find your happiness.  Even if it's hard to see, find it.  And apparently, if you find it more often than not, it will be quicker to find each time something knocks you down.  So, practice gratitude tonight before you go to bed, see what it does to your mood and your day tomorrow.  Find one thing every day that you are thankful for.  Pass this on, and let's see what happens.

Today I am thankful for all of YOU.  Thank you for picking me back up and allowing me to find my happiness again through these words. 

(Oh and btw - this post almost made me cry, along with yoga last night.  Sometimes there is so much joy in your life - you forget about it until you find it again after a fall.)

(Thank you also to "Daniel" the student whose paper this was and to the teacher who left it in the copy room for me to find.  There ARE no coincidences, I needed this.)