Keeping the Momentum

There’s a part of me that realizes I’ve changed since coming to a resolution with my infertility; since moving to Chicago. It’s been a gradual change; mostly based on the increasing confidence and strength I’ve garnered over the past year.

And this past month, with all the writing I’ve been doing … I realize that my posts have definitely taken a different tone.  Specifically, I’ve noticed that I’ve taken a break from the sad, depressing — and even angry — parts of my life.

I have always loved making observations about myself and of the world. My mom always told me that I was both very perceptive and inquisitive, so I guess it comes naturally to me. The only problem I’ve encountered (especially more recently) is that I often forget what an impact some of these observations have on me. And if I don’t write them down … well, then my “lightbulb moment” gets lost in the dim recess of my mind.

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Speaking of observations … yesterday was the “observed” Catholic Holy Day of Ash Wednesday. Ask me if I went to mass … and I’m sure you’d already know the answer. But we’ve already had many a conversation about my actual “practice” of my Catholic faith.

Regardless, there are certain things … traditions, really … that I like to follow. (Coincidentally, a bloggie friend recently talked about how traditions in religion is something she enjoys … read about it here.) One of them is the practice of “giving up” something during Lent.

I debated for a few days as to what I would give up this year. In the past, I’ve typically given up things that I really, really enjoy … knowing that I’d really only be practicing the art of self-restraint.  One year it was chocolate-covered pretzels, and another year was caramel apple suckers. Come Easter after both years, I was so good at exercising self-restraint that I no longer had those “cravings” to consume them as I had done before Ash Wednesday.

This year I thought about giving up Coca-Cola (I’m addicted) or even any form of chocolate (detrimental to *anyone’s* sanity). And as I told my co-worker this, she told me what she decided to do different for Lent this year.

Since she was already pretty adept at giving up things for Lent, my co-worker chose to “pay it forward” this Lenten season. Meaning that she would decide to do one random act of kindness every day for the 40 days before Easter.

The more she talked about her plans, the more she had me sold on doing the same thing. Even though I understand the concept of “giving up” something for Lent as being able to exercise abstinence and to “purify the soul” before the day of Resurrection … the “rebel” Catholic in me thinks that this concept in this century is self-defeating, rather than self-appreciating.

If this sounds muddled, let me explain it with this train of thought: If I decide to give up chocolate for Lent this year and I’m not successful, I know I’d feel guilty. Even worse is that the mere thought of having chocolate before Easter would already elicit those feelings of guilt … even if I didn’t have any .

Yeah, self-defeating.

But … let’s say that instead of “giving up” something, I decide to “give” something to someone else … like an extra sandwich from my catered lunch meeting today to the homeless person outside of the Starbucks by work … well, it would make me feel as if I’ve helped someone else and it would make me feel good about myself. And in the end, it would boost my confidence.

Kinda like how once I started to allow myself to feel “happy” again (after 12+ years of infertility), I’ve managed to garner some momentum in gaining confidence and strength. And more importantly, contentment in my overall life. (See how it all ties together?)

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My goal this February was to write an entry a day; and seeing that I have only 11 days to go, I’m pretty sure I will meet this goal and gather more of that strength and confidence.

LOOVE this "work flow" chart!

SO … in order to continue that forward momentum, I’ve decided to borrow my co-worker’s Lenten promise. Starting today (and ending on Easter Monday … since I’m already a day behind), I am going to vow to perform one random act of kindness a day and document that daily deed on my blog.

But not only that … I’m also going write about one thing that I’m thankful for every day. Because the exercise here is to remember that others may not have the same luxuries (whether material or other luxuries) in life that I do.

And I hope this gets me closer towards feeling more fulfilled in this life.

And the Emmy goes to …

Wow! I am totally feeling the bloggie love lately. First, I get a special secret “lollipop” from an anonymous reader. And then I actually get quoted about how much I enjoyed receiving such a lovely suprise.

And now? Well now I just received another wonderful suprise … a bloggie award from Mugsy at Drive Fast. Take Chances. How lucky can I be?!

Seriously though, Mugsy has always been such a wonderful commenter on my blog that I feel so special that she thinks I deserve the “Beautiful Blogger Award.” So thank you sooo much, Mugsy!

But like all wonderful awards, the best part about being recognized is to also recognize those other bloggers that inspire us. So with that, there are instructions that go along with receiving this award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for this award. (Check.)
  • Copy the award and place it in your blog. (Double check.)
  • Link the person who nominated you for this award. (Triple check.)
  • Tell us 7 interesting things about you.
  • Nominate 7 bloggers
  • Post the links to the 7 bloggers you nominate.

Okay, so seven interesting things about me. Eesh … let’s see:

  1. I have this almost unhealthy obsession with Johnny Depp. It started back in grade school when 21 Jump Street first came out and as followed me through my adult life. What can I say? I have a thing about intellectual bad boys. And thank G*d, my Hubby doesn’t mind!
  2. When I was young, my parents owned one of the earlier versions of a karaoke machine where you could actually record yourself (on a cassette tape, of course) singing to various songs. We had a whole library of songs you could sing to, including Wham!, Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet. Somewhere in my parents’ basement is a whole 90 minute cassette tape of me singing all those early 80’s Madonna songs.
  3. Other than pets and (questionably) my Hubby & me, I can’t keep other living things alive. Plants, that is. Seriously, the longest plant I ever kept alive was a cactus … and even that’s saying something.
  4. I am not only a “Water Rat” (as the year of my birth dictates in the Chinese Zodiac), but I am a pack rat. I’d like to think it’s a reflection of how sentimental a person I am, and how much I like to hold on to keepsakes. Yeah … I’ll keep telling myself that.
  5. As much as I like to “collect” things (whether it’s shoes or bags or books), I’m a pretty simple gal when it comes to “material things.” I mostly like things for their “utilitarian” purpose rather than their “brand.” Not sure when that started happening though, because I know in my college and post-colleg years I was all about style and name. Maybe the cost of IF was one factor in changing that mindset …
  6. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life; thanks to my Mom, who starting taking Dr. Bro and I to the library as early as 6 and 4 years of age, respectively. I spent every summer up until about 8th grade participating in my hometown library’s Summer Reading Program.
  7. Between my Hubby & I, we own more than enough CDs and to start our own library. And although most of those CDs were bought in those college & post-college years, we still haven’t even uploaded even a fourth of those CDs onto our “digital” library.

So yeah. There’s my seven (not so) interesting things about me. Well, at least *I* don’t think there as interesting as … I don’t know … saying that I’m double-jointed, or something along that line.

And now … this is where I admit that I’ve been a bad bad BAD bloggie friend for … ahem … quite awhile now, actually. I can come up with some lousy excuse, but the truth is that I haven’t had much time to write a blog entry, let alone read and comment on other bloggie friend’s blogs. But seeing that I’m now *consciously* making an effort to write more … this should mean that I should also consciously make the effort to read and comment more, as well.

So this list? These are my tried and true blogs that I’ve loved to read throughout the life of my bloggie existence. A few are bloggers who started out in the same Infertility boat as I was … and in the three years I’ve been blogging, we’ve all diverged in different directions. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t stop enjoying their updates. Anyway … here goes.

  1. Pamela at Blood Signs.  She’s a fellow midwesterner, who shares my love of books and music. Add to the fact that she’s a beautiful writer, well … it can’t get any better than that.
  2. Christina at Apron Strings. Oh yes … anyone that shares the same love of Everything But The Girl with me is gold in my eyes. And given the fact that we also share the same Wedding Anniversary date … well, that just is the icing on the cake!
  3. Kate at The Only Bee In Your Bonnet. I’ve loved following along with Kate’s journey. She’s got a way of writing that has you wanting to know more about her life and her thoughts. And because she’s just as wordy as I am, I can appreciate it all.
  4. Aunt Becky at Mommy Wants Vodka. Yep, Aunt Becky made the list … for no other reason than her writing completely Cracks. Me. Up. There have been many days where I’ve found myself in the dumps and all I needed to do is click over to Aunt Becky and I would find myself smiling. Add to the fact that she has always been there for me, commenting on my blog … well, I couldn’t ask for a better bloggie friend.
  5. Kelly over at Soapchick. I first met stalked Kelly IRL at a Resolve event back in MI and I couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible support and strength she’s provided me in my life these past few years.
  6. Loribeth at The Road Less Travelled. As I fumbled through deciding where my IF journey would eventually take me, Loribeth has been an inspiration for me. With her writing, she’s allowed me to realize that life DOES go on, despite the curve balls that get thrown our way.
  7. Mrs. Spit at Mrs. Spit … Still Spouting Off. There is something … for lack of better words … ethereal about Mrs. Spit’s writings. Just like Aunt Becky has a way of making me laugh, Mrs. Spit has this way of soothing my soul. And in weathering the storms I’ve faced these past few years, she has been that sense of calm I’ve needed .

So there you have it. I’ve now officially passed on my award to others. But not before, once again, thanking Mugsy for such an honor …

Blessings & Curses

I know it’s a little late, but Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

Since Hubby & I knew we’d be spending the day traveling back to Chicago, we had our “date night” last night. So what did we do? Well, nothing special … other than a very simple dinner and a trip to the movie theater to see the latest romantic comedy, “Valentine’s Day.”

The movie was cute and definitely enjoyable. I loved all the different vigniettes and how they were all interconnected (or tied) to one another. However, there was something about this movie that wasn’t quite up to par with my all-time favorite romantic comedy, “Love, Actually.” Maybe it’s the Brit humor, but I just seem to like how that story unfolds better.

Let’s see … what else? Oh yes; Emily is finally “Back in Black.” Meaning, of course that my “Pepe Le Pew” white stripes from my grey hair is finally back to being completely black. Yeah, I know … I really should be dyeing my hair after 2-3 months. But the cheapskate in me doesn’t want to shell out the money to do it.

I know, I know … I could always do it myself; buy the dye from the local drug store and spend a Saturday night “washing my hair.” Except there is no way that I’d be able to dye it myself without getting hair dye all over the counter and floor. At least with the amount of hair that I have, anyway.

I consider myself “blessed” to have a head full of extra-thick coarse hair. And despite the fact that I use “extra-strength” hair dye with all that ammonia and other fumes, my hair is pretty darn healthy. Not that I mean to boast about my hair, but I’ve been told by many-a-person that they would kill to have my head of hair.

Except, with this blessing also comes “the curse.” And my curse just happens to be gray hair. I blame genetics and heredity for my prematurely graying. Both my parents started graying in their late 20’s/early 30’s … and me? Well, I started graying in my mid-20’s; progressively getting worse each year to where I truly could look like the Bride of Frankenstein if I go too long between hair appointments. But at least I have a head-full of hair that definitely keeps my head warm in the winter time!

Anyway, the whole “blessing and curse” thing about my hair had me thinking of my other blessing/curse; especially since today is the day all about love.

First the blessing: I consider the fact that I married my best friend my # 1 blessing in life. And the fact that I found him early in my life is just a huge bonus. Because really … who better to grow up and grow old with, and share all life’s adventures with than your best friend?

And now the curse: No surprise that the curse is our inability to have children of our own. It’s just frustratingly disappointing that Hubby & I won’t be able to experience one of the biggest grand adventures in life. But I suppose that as long as Hubby’s by my side, every day will be a grand adventure.

It’s strange to actually write those last two sentences on my blog. For years, it’s always been about how unfair it was that Hubby & I couldn’t have children. After all we have such a great relationship and would make such great parents. However, the older I get (and the further distance I put between myself and my childlessness), the more I begin to appreciate the so-called “Grand Adventure” that infertility has provided Hubby & me.

It’s because of IF that I’ve begun to realize that life is full of such “blessings” and “curses.” For every negative aspect of life, there must be an equally positive aspect.

And it’s also because of IF that I’ve discovered that life is about finding balance in everything. That whatever aspect or experience in life that might bring us down … there is yet another aspect or experience in life that will lift us up. The key just happens to be in finding this balance.

So I think that’s what I’m going to try to do with every unsettling situation I run into, regardless of whether it’s my personal or professional life (or even my checkbook!). I’m going to try to find the counterbalance in any aggrevating circumstance. Perhaps this will get me more into that Zen state that I’ve been trying to achieve for years …

Oh, and because it happens to coincide with this year’s Valentine’s Day, Happy Chinese New Year to you. May the Year of the Tiger bring you much happiness and prosperity!

All "Kidding" Aside …

Hubby & I are back in Michigan for the weekend. It’s kinda nice to be back, although I do believe that the weather report exaggerated exactly how much snow that they supposedly got. I mean really … Chicago got a whopping 12.6 inches in 24hrs last week, so I was expecting at least 10-12 inches here as well. But nope; it looks like there was only about 4 inches outside of our house.

It’s funny though, because after experiencing the snow storm in Chicago last week, I realize how much I could actually survive in a city where there is a lot of walking involved. Especially that walk from work to the El station, and the El station to our apartment. Or when needing to take our puppy out for a walk.

Oh trust me, it was tiring walking in a foot of snow, but it’s so different from winter life here in Michigan where the longest walk would be from my car to the front door of my (previous) office building. Or the longest amount of time I’d have to be outside was to shovel the driveway and sidewalk.

Uncle J and the Birthday Girl

Anyway, the reason we are back in town this weekend was to celebrate our friends’ daughter’s 1st birthday. This particular couple has survived the the throes of infertility and have managed to get a totally awesome daughter in the process. A-girl is such a good-natured girl; always smiling and engaging everyone that comes in contact with her. Even in the midst of her birthday party when we could tell she was getting really sleepy, she still would smile and allow others to hold and carry her.

And as A-girl sat in our lap today, both Hubby & I couldn’t help but be amazed with her. We let her play with my iPhone and were quite surprised by how her little chubby fingers could flip through my photo album. Then we let her play Bejeweled 2 for the phone, and were shocked when we saw how successful she was … especially since her dad happens to be the one person‘s score I aim to beat every week on Facebook.

Also at this party was Cutie Girl; the same precocious little girl who always asks us about our dog and our cats. She is so sassy and smart  that I can’t help but be taken in by her incredibly large personality.

Cutie Girl & Me

So, as usual, she spent a whole 45 minutes or so with us, talking about our pets and what we could do to get her “Daddy” to agree to get one for her. I swear, this kid … if she continues to have that fearlessness and confidence about her … could very well be someone important and/or famous in the future. She’s just one of these kids that people just naturally gravitate to!

And yes, I also got to see my beautiful niece Kairi. She is growing so fast now! Except, well … since we didn’t get enough time to spend with just her, she wasn’t exactly in a “playful” mood with her Auntie & Uncle. And that kinda bummed me out.

Part of me thinks that the reason Kairi is like this around me is because she’s just not “used” to us … after all, she only sees us during major family gatherings. But then there’s the other part of me that thinks that the events that unfolded after her birth had a part to play with my relationship with her. It’s like … I don’t know … she unconsciously (or even consciously) knows that there was a major strain between her mom & me immediately following her birth.

Our Beautiful Niece, Kairi

I think there’s this incredible Catholic guilt feeling that feeds that train of thought. It’s the same thought I had during my SIL’s pregnancy with Liam and his consequent passing: that the circumstances surrounding Liam’s short life was a result of my feelings of jealousy over my SIL’s pregnancy. And similar to that, my lack of “connection” with Kairi is a result of the loss of connection with her mom following her birth. Realistically I know that none of it is true, but there are those days … like today …that these thoughts are stronger that usual.

I know I haven’t talked much lately about how my relationship with my SIL has been. It’s partly because I’ve learned from certain “foot in mouth” statements that certain things are best left off of Blog Land. But it’s mostly because things have been rather quiet and low key amongst the two of us. I’d like to think that we’ve reached a silent “truce” of sorts … that we’ve managed to move forward in fixing those severed ties.

I don’t think things will ever be a 100% better between SIL and me; but I do know that I’ve since learned a lot about myself since then. And one of them is knowing that I’m strong enough to move past the anger and hurt and resentment I felt for so long. Sure there will always be times where I might just shake my head at certain activities or actions, but I’m quite sure she probably has those same moments when thinking about me, as well. And I’m really, truly okay with that.

If anything, being in a room full of children under the age of 7 proves that I’m finally at that stage in my IF journey where I can start to let things go and accept things for what they are. And it, quite remarkably, feels good.

Hubby & The Birthday Celebrant

Dancing on the Jetty

I’m actually writing this post on Wednesday night, hoping that I’d be able to get a “head start” on my next daily post. Well, actually I’m already ahead by one day … which probably explains why I’m feeling as if I’m a day off. Sheesh …

Anyhoo … I’m sitting here at the Border’s Bookstore cafe overlooking State Street. Hubby is at a WordPress Meetup group learning how to post YouTube videos on to a WordPress blog. He asked me if I wanted to attend, seeing that I’ve been primarily blogging off WordPress.com for two years now. I obviously begged off, seeing that I have already (countless times) posted videos from YouTube.

Across the street is the Joffrey Tower, which is the home of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. It’s been actually fun watching the activity on the other side of the street, because I can actually see the ballerinas dancing in the rehearsal rooms.

I’m amazed at the discipline that these dancers have. They look so graceful, yet so incredibly controlled. How do they make it look so easy? Of course you’re looking (or in this case, reading) about a gal who is known to trip on flat pavement.

I admire anyone who is that dedicated to following such a career path. To follow their dreams and believe in their craft. Because seriously, how much do you think ballerinas or other performers make in a year? Other than those superstar performers or actors, I’m sure the income isn’t that extraordinary.

But then that’s the Filipina part of me speaking. The “logical” side. The one who constantly here’s her parent’s voice saying, “How will you be able to make a living on a salary like that?” Which then always makes me second guess if I’m every “good enough” or “talented enough” to sustain daily living with what I might (or might not) make.

Then there’s  American “dreamer” in me … that’s the spirited voice who thinks that it takes guts and dedication to do what you love to do in life. To be brave enough to follow your life’s passion … no matter what the outcome is. It’s the same one that thinks that I can do whatever passion I want to in life and knows that I’d succeed.

Unfortunately, it’s the analytical Filipino mind that tends to win out in the end. It’s the voice that tells me that there’s no way I’d survive on passion alone. It’s the also same one that tells me that I don’t even know what I’m passionate about, so keep doing what I know I’m good at. And even if I did find out what I really want to do in life, what makes me think I’ll ever be “good enough”?

What I need to do is:

  1. Find out what I’m “natural” and “good” at.
  2. Determine if this would be something I could be “passionate about.”
  3. Work it into my daily life, and
  4. Keep at it. Nonstop.

Basically I need to have the same amount of discipline and control that these dancers at the Joffrey Ballet have.

Eesh. This means that somehow I need to find a way to tie these two voices together; to merge the best aspects of both of these thoughts (and cultures). I need the mean-spirited mind to push me not to be satisfied with who I am. And I need the “cheerleader rah-rah-rah” part to keep telling me I can do this; I can move forward in finding something I’d love to do.

Wow. This was an awfully rambling post. I promise a better one … tomorrow.

And just so I can prove to Hubby that I can upload videos from YouTube without having to go to a “class” … here’s a video of the view I had of some practicing ballerinas. If you look reaaallly closely, you can see them dancing on the second floor!