The Fear of Doing

Since mid-September, I’ve been in a funk at work (and in general, as you may have noticed), which means that I basically sit at my desk, do a lot of pinning and read blogs (this past month they’ve been about clothes:  useful?).  With the sitting also comes boredom eating.  GREAT.

Seeing my counselor helped me remember that in order to make progress, I need to do something every day.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that if you don’t get everything on your list done, you’ve failed.  Overachievers [like me] make ridiculously long lists, and the longer the list, the tinier the chance of finishing it.  Who wants to bother starting an impossible task?  Not me!  I’d prefer to read fashion blogs, thankyouverymuch.  So I’ve been trying to do a little bit each day, which was sort of working.

Cue the first amazing blog post last week from Jen Epting.  Jen, whom I met at the wedding of dear friends, liked instantly, and have gotten to know better and to like even more via her blog, writes here about stating a fact and then examining what’s really going on with it.  When I played her game with my work life, it went like this:

Fact:  I’m reading fashion blogs all day at work. (But what am I really doing?)

Fact:  I’m putting off the things I know I need to do.  (But what am I really doing?)

Fact:  I’m feeling afraid that if I start working, I still won’t be able to get everything I need to do done.  If I work my butt off and the science doesn’t work or it doesn’t show what I expected, I won’t have enough time to write my paper, get it accepted, and graduate in the time frame that makes sense for starting the next step of my career.  I am also feeling afraid of starting that next step and what it means about leaving my life here and being separated (however briefly) from my husband.  (Well that was enlightening, albeit complicated.  Maybe time to head back to the counselor?)

The combination of Jen’s post and the second amazing blog post that I read last week from Small Notebook really put everything together for me.  The reminder I got from Rachel was that doing anything feels better than doing nothing.  Funks cannot be shaken off by sitting still (or even by eating ones’ feelings).  Get up off your fanny and ACT.

So I did, keeping in mind that there is a complicated set of emotions behind the decision to take or not take action, and maybe I need to cut myself a bit of slack.

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It’s a [second] baby shower!

Up next was a tropical[ish] baby shower solely because the parents-to-be have chosen to call their named-but-it’s-a-secret son “Mango,” which I’m fairly certain is the cutest pre-birth baby name ever.  I, of course, made some bunting:

The bunting sort of reads backwards because I used the same “welcome baby” part at the other shower.  Good task consolidation me!  You also may have noticed the pom in the top left corner of the photo above.  We had lots of poms:

shower

Baby bingo was attempted  for this (co-ed) crowd, and for whatever reason, it was a total flop (it may have been Hubs talking non quietly about how he was mad that he didn’t win the artisan chocolate bars we had as prizes).  Luckily, one of my co-hosts was my brilliant friend, Uptown Girl, and she knows all about fun activities to do at baby showers, so we did onesie decorating, which was a roaring success.

Easy and tidy with permanent markers rather than fabric paint!

The final photo I want to show are pinwheels made by another sweet friend.  She learned how to make these pinwheels to decorate her own wedding, and taught it to me so I could help at a craft night where five of us made hundreds of them.  She wanted to pay it forward, so she, Uptown Girl and I had an awesome crafting night before the shower.  The pinwheels are perfectly whimsical and fun for a baby shower and made a great outside decoration to let guests know they were at the right house.

I love crafting and I love parties, but the best part of these baby showers was that my roll is significantly slowed in terms of the burning desire to procreate.  Thanks to my baby-having friends for letting me live vicariously through you!

Overwhelmed

Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed.  By climate change, the political situation in this country, the meanness of people to each other (especially online), how difficult it is proving to find a place to volunteer with my dog, the uncleanliness of our house, the energy it takes to exercise, the weight I’ve gained since I stopped exercising regularly, science (its difficulty and the motivation required to do it well every day), and most especially by the future:  looming big, scary and out of my control.

Control is a funny thing.  The most common argument Hubs and I have usually goes something like this:  I get upset about something and make [generally] unreasonable demands, he says I am upset because I am not in control, I agree that I would feel much better if I were in control (of everything – the situation itself, my reaction to the situation, his reaction to my reaction, and the unrelated, but still terrible problem of so many kids starving to death while I decide what snacks I need to buy).  But would controlling things really help?  Or would it instead create even more anxiety?

Probably the key here is learning to let go of things, which is a special challenge of mine.  As a highly sensitive person, I feel everything so damn strongly that (especially in certain hormonal circumstances) I feel stalled, unable to move forward or backward with other cars zooming by me honking and making it even harder to rejoin the flow of traffic, unable to let things go.  So I slowly remember to do what helps me:  to see my counselor, talk to my sister, friends, and mom, dance with my husband, make time for exercise and cuddling the animals, and in the end just cut myself some slack.

What helps you let go of feeling overwhelmed?

It’s a baby shower!

I co-threw two baby showers recently and therefore got to do the best parts of both (invites, some decorations/games and a bit of food).  I threw the first shower with my mother-in-law, who, as I’ve mentioned before, is the queen of using flowers as decor.  She is also the queen of having china (dishes) for any and every occasion.  Behold the magnificently decorated table, which was entirely her doing.  If you click to embiggen and look closely in the bottom right, you’ll be able to spot the famous china (one of maybe six! patterns she owns).

It was a really awesome party with all the momma-to-be’s girlfriends and I felt so honored to be able to be a part of it!  My first main contribution was the invites:

They didn’t turn out a bit how I imagined them, but I had a blast making them and sure did love them in the end .

My second main contribution was a sewing project.  The momma-to-be’s mother found an old baby carriage at a yard sale and bought it because she is an amazing woman with an eye for really cool pieces.  My MIL borrowed it to put the presents in at the shower and had this fantastic Beatrix Potter-ish fabric that she’d just picked up somewhere, so since I absconded with her sewing machine approximately 3 years ago, I got the job of sewing a new cover, cushion and pillow for it.

And my final contribution was baby bingo, which we played during the present opening.  I made bingo cards using the bingo card generator from this UNC-W site.  It was super fun because each space on the bingo card had a descriptor for a present.  Each time a present was opened, we got to mark one of our squares.  If the gift was a blue, 0-3 month onesie with a bear on it, we marked “something blue” or “something for 0-3 months” or “something with an animal on it” and we had prizes for the person who had the most bingos at the end of present opening.  I highly recommend it as a diversion during present opening time, which can be a bit boring for the people not opening presents.

Stay tuned for the other baby shower!

Exploring Cohousing

Due to a sort of amazing convergence of events, Hubs and I were recently introduced to the concept of cohousing.  First, we talked about how great it would be to have a community that would support us and our [future] children and be some sort of intentional living type situation.  The day after that, I googled this type of concept and found tons of websites describing the benefits of this type of living and calling it cohousing.  The day after that, we went for happy hour with some couple friends and they told us about an awesome opportunity to hear Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett speak and my mom brought up cohousing to me on the phone that same day.  (Sounds like it was meant to be!)

We went to the cohousing presentation by Chuck and Katie, who coined the term “cohousing” from the Danish bofœllesskaber (literally living communities) and are the authors of several books on cohousing, the most recent of which, Creating Cohousing:  Building Sustainable Communities, I am reading right now from the library.  I could go on and on about what really feels right to me about cohousing, and I have to numerous people with whom I’ve interacted over the past couple of weeks, but I think a quick sum up is better.  Among all the amazing things I feel can be enjoyed by living in cohousing, these are my top three:

Smaller houses, fewer possessions, less stuff.  Cohousing communities are generally built around shared pedestrian/outdoor areas and include a community house that can contain among other things:  several guest rooms for visitors to the community, a shared workshop with tools, a sewing/craft room with supplies, a children’s playroom, and a tv room.  Imagine not needing to buy a lawnmower because the community already owns one for mowing the common area, skipping buying tools for home renovations because they are already in the community workshop or not having to buy all the stuff and clutter up a room in your house to do crafts or beer brewing!  Or being able to afford to have solar panels put in because your mortgage for your reasonably sized house isn’t sky high and all your neighbors are getting them too, so the contractor is giving you a discount.  Or best of all, the ability to choose a smaller house in the first place because you didn’t need to have room for your in-laws to stay in your house when visiting, because you had access to a workshop and craft room, and because your children won’t need a playroom at home because they have the whole common house, especially the playroom, and the entire outdoors of the community, which is car free, in which to do frolicky kid stuff!

The car free part and what it means for social interaction is my next favorite bit.  Cohousing communities are designed so that you park on the perimeter of the community and then walk to your home on a path that passes by the common house, as well as by your neighbors’ homes, so you are automatically set up for spontaneous social interaction, which is completely lost if you drive into your garage and go straight into your house in a typical neighborhood.  Spontaneous social interaction is one of the very best parts of college that we really miss out on as adults. People eating together in a cafeteria, throwing a disc together on the lawn, or sitting outside on a nice day and just talking doesn’t happen in typical adult life unless you plan it.  And who has time to plan all of that?  We’re busy important people with busy important lives and we don’t always make time for these things that really enrich our lives, so we grow to rely on ourselves or on our partner for all of our social needs, which can leave us feeling depressed and lonely.  I didn’t realize it until I was knee deep in learning about cohousing that what made me so sad about our neighbors moving this spring was that, in their move, we lost our main opportunity for spontaneous social interaction.  Everyone else we have to plan to see, no matter how close to us they live.  There’s nothing quite like knocking on the door to see what the neighbors are up to or spying through their window that they’re watching the football game and inviting yourself in.  It’s simple and therefore feels inherently more possible than calling up the friend who lives a 20 minute walk away and having to make a plan.  In cohousing, it’s all built into the design of the community and in that most cohousing communities offer 2-7 common meals a week.  And you don’t have to worry about who’s going to drive home after you’ve had a bottle of wine at dinner either because YOU JUST WALK.

My final favorite thing has to do with my desire to have four children.  I have loooooooong struggled with the environmental impact of bringing four children into the world, but I often feel like having more than one sib is better for growing up.  Enter cohousing and an extremely elegant solution:  raise your kid[s] in a community of children and adults.  Get the benefits of having grown up together and having a common home, but nix the environmental impact!  Beautiful.

How does cohousing sound to you?