Sunday, February 22, 2009

A solitary morning

So far I am up alone, with all my menfolk still tucked cozily in bed. The usual scent of coffee hovers, which I enjoy almost as much as the taste. I love being alone and have a great need for it right now. I want rumination, silence, nothing interrupting me, time to just move with whim and personal will, time to write. I always treasure my early mornings where I am alone and the house is quiet. Right now, even moreso.

Nick spent the day yesterday at a rifle camp with Scouts. He was late getting back to the meet-up spot due to the fellow driving his group taking a wrong turn on the George Bush Turnpike and heading the wrong way. It was a full 30 minutes before he got to the meet-up place and my head was spinning over all the frightening possibilities. Of course, I forgot my cell phone and so had no way to call and find out what was going on nor to warn Joe I would be back home from picking him up later than anticipated. But he made it home okay. He had borrowed another kid's cell phone and left me a message telling me what was going on. The first truly responsible impromptu behavior I have ever seen from him. My Nick is growing up. He was full of stories of having fired rifles, shotguns, thrown knives and done archery all day long. I get the impression from his anecdotes that his aim isn't particularly true but that the experience of it was exciting. I admit I cringe to know they do throwing knives. How barbaric.

Joe picked up on my mood yesterday and even had me go change my clothes. Without even realizing it, I had put on a gray blouse to match my gray mood. So I put on a red sweater with great cleavage and we went down to Sprouts to buy some fresh produce. I love that store. On a whim we checked the dollar theater out and took Alex to see Marley and Me. That was a weeper! Sometimes I want a dog so badly. I'd love to have a well trained dog to walk with me and sit with me and play together. Its the well trained part I get hung up on. I have no idea how to train a dog. If getting my kids potty trained is any indication, I would suck at it.

Joe grilled burgers last night and lit the fireplace for us. It got down to 23 overnight. Guess its a good thing we have not put the tomatoes in yet. We watched The Last of the Mohicans, which I had never seen before. Good movie. Made me restless to get out of this flat place called Texas and go somewhere more lush and beautiful. Of course, its winter, so lushness is in short supply right now. And goodness only knows where we'll be or what we'll be up to come spring and summer.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gray Day

I am so up and down. Yesterday was a good day. I went back to Cooper to turn in the legal documents that let me get my severance package. I was greeted with hugs and smiles. I turned in my fancy gold name badge and the operations manager (who personally hired me) put it in her desk and told me she would not be taking my name off it, that she looked forward to being able to hand it back to me one day. She emphasized that I am very very very very very (I think there were five very's) re-hirable and that I really do need to make sure I keep in touch. I asked if it was okay if I went to visit my department and I was told of course, that I have free reign to roam the clinic that day and to come up to visit everyone at any time, that I am always welcome. So I went to see the girls and to talk to Dr. Cannaday (the doctor I worked with). I almost felt sorry for them for a moment. At least the gavel has fallen for me. Their future remains tedious and uncertain, hovering on the edge of this economic cliff. I told them their pot lucks are going to suck now that half the office is gone. That got a laugh.

I spent the rest of the day with my bestie Heather, who is turning into a very enthusiastic amateur photographer. We had a little lunch together and went walking in a wooded area to mull over the complexities of life, such as how to deal with ill parents and raising teenaged boys to understand the complexities of sexuality and being safe without imparting a sense of either tacit permission or overt judgement. She took a lot of pictures, which was fun and relaxing to watch. We noticed such different things. I am fascinated by contrasts, and if I had a camera, would have been capturing the three tiny bright red berries amidst the dead bramble or the solitary green leaf still tenaciously holding onto its branch in the midst of winter. I also enjoy texture contrasts and patterns...the curving vines amidst the straight trees, the scatter of brush along a sooty forest floor. She, however, was all about the light - the way even dead things shimmer silver when the illumination is just so. It was wonderful to see the world through her eyes, to get new perspective. She took many photographs of me. I am not the youthful thing I once was and don't photograph as well as I did in my youth, but am still a vain enough creature to enjoy the experience of being the center of attention. I had a good time with it.

Today is a gray morning. I woke in the middle of the night unable to sleep, worrying about what is to come. The idiot politician who spoke at Columbia University yesterday said this will be a downturn worse than the Great Depression. What is wrong with people, saying something like that in public, sending an already jittery economy into a tailspin of panic as investors try to decide whether to cut their losses and pull all their cash back close to their chest or risk losing even more by leaving it where it is. Its time to stop harping on how BAD things are. Yeah. They are bad. Life will and does go on. We are all going to have to eat hamburger for awhile instead of steak. Woe is us. I am so SICK of worrying this to death. I am out of work. Joe is out of work. Near as I can tell, we are healthy. Laughing daily. Not going hungry. Paying our bills. Making plans for the future. Holding onto hope. So let's hold onto it and let the fretting go. For all my fretting, things always turn out exactly as they are going to. I am sick to death of feeling tense and frightened. I don't even fully understand what I am frightened of. I just know when Joe worries, I worry. When the world heaves and sighs and groans, I hold on and wonder what on earth is happening. What am I afraid of?

So I am a little blue today, mourning my job again, wondering if I will honestly ever go back. Life has a way of moving on most of the time and its usually a good thing. But there were no interview calls yesterday and the second interview hint didn't come to fruition. Doesn't mean it won't next week, but the high of feeling like I may land on my feet without having to apply for unemployment is a coming down again. I just dread any thought of landing in an ordinary job where people are tired and run down and unenthusiastic. I got so used to working somewhere in which everyone feels such pride in where they work and what they do. I don't want to surrender that.

No idea what all we will do today. Not a good day particularly for yard work. I guess I can clean house. I feel like seeing my mother or being alone to brood. Mood scale is very gray.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Sunny Side of the Street

This isn't so bad really. Not at all actually. I miss my job, but moreso I miss my co-workers, who I never really thought of as co-workers. They were friends. The good news is, friends are portable. They can still be my friends even if I don't share an office with them anymore. I'll probably see if some want to do lunch or something next week.

I have been gratifyingly popular so far in the open job market. I had two interviews yesterday. One only had an entry level opening, but is trying to work out creating a position for me in their organization and asked me not to accept anything else without calling them first. The other called me back four hours after my interview to see if I can interview again today or early next week. That one was with an executive headhunter who is recommending me for direct hire and wants me to meet the company she is representing. Its a position I could get very excited about, a kind of patient advocate at a bariatric surgery center...a position in which I could feel like I am doing some good in the world, affecting a subject that has touched my own life (obesity). Both of the clinics I interviewed at are growing and thriving, which is just a relief to see on so many levels. The news is so full of woe that it actually feels either delusional or disloyal to feel any kind of hope or optimism. Seeing firsthand that there are places looking for employees and that are doing things like renovating their office and opening new branches is heartening. Of course, this is the medical field and as such, somewhat insulated. But the Cooper Clinic is medical as well. I think it all just depends what genre you are working within. Cooper is in service to executives and the wealthy. There are fewer executive privileges these days and those who are still wealthy are being cautious and hanging onto their wealth. I fully expect Cooper to bounce back when the economy shows some signs of turning around.

In any case, it was an ego boost if nothing else to have two separate companies getting excited that I myself was sitting across the table from them wanting immediate employment. Having one of them be a position I could get pretty excited about helps me to feel a litle less grief-stricken over losing my position with Cooper Clinic. I will always be grateful for my experience there and always proud to have been a person chosen to work there. As I get honest about all of this, I am utilizing this opportunity to shop for jobs that put me back in front of people instead of stuck in front of a computer screen typing. It was such an energy rush for me yesterday to go interview just to be out and smiling at, conversing with new people and learning about what they do. I like people. I like helping patients. It elevates me to interact and be social. So I will use this chance to hopefully drift away from transcription and let my experience carry me into something that will help me grow. Its amazing what a difference it has made to have my Associate's Degree now. This is the first time I have shopped for jobs since getting it. I admit, I was almost embarassed to have gotten it, both by how long it took me (let's not go there) but also by the fact that I always was kind of given the impression that it was a "nothing" degree and would not mean anything in the eyes of an employer. That doesn't seem to be ringing true. Its not going to get me rich, but it says I finish things that I start and it gives me a leg up. There's a modicum of respect there that was not there before. I am glad I did it. I should have celebrated it more instead of sweeping it quietly under the rug as if I were ashamed.

The night I got laid off, I had a dream about Joseph and it has lingered with me continuously since, almost like a scent in the air or a flavor that I still taste after a meal is long done. He was in a hospital bed and his face was blurry. He was holding what looked like a hand mirror, but it was just see-through glass, and when he held it up in front of him, I could see his face clearly. I came over and embraced him and he hugged me so tight. I sat on the side of his bed and he held my hand and kept hugging me, smiling....he was vibrant, almost glowing. He said "Hi Mom!" with so much energy and joy. He told me in a rush that he loved me, that he missed me, that he missed my hugs...and he looked at me through the little looking glass and told me that I am so beautiful. We hugged tightly and I woke up. I felt him so so near to me. I tried so hard to go back to sleep, to slip back into the place where he was, but I could not. He was so real.

I am a little sad that the house would have gone on the market today and now is not. That will be on hold until one or both of us finds employment again. We may rethink the whole thing all together now, I don't know. Either way I am okay with it. I do have hope that I will find something relatively soon now. I have a trip to Nebraska at the end of March to look forward to. My cousin Ben is getting married. Ben had cancer as a young man too, osteosarcoma, which is every bit as much of a challenge as the kind of cancer Joseph had. Ben is in medical school now, many years out from his ordeal and thriving. It will be such a wonderful, soulful thing to see him take this life step and I will be so moved to witness it, I know. I felt some of that at my cousin Dustin's wedding this past October. It will be even stronger for Ben. I can't wait...the palpable reminders that life is fundamentally good, that joy continues, life moves along in its own cadence and pace makes me feel secure inside even as it moves me to tears. Yes, I miss Joe-Gi every day. I mourn the things I will not get to see him accomplish or do. But the flip side of that coin is that I do get to see Nick and Alex. I get to see Joe and myself. I get to see my cousins, whom I have known all their lives, many of whom I held as babies. For whatever reason, Joseph's journey was complete at the age of 13. He was as whole as God intended him to be. I still have more to do, more to learn and its not a stretch to me to see where I need more work and more time. I feel so grateful to have learned these things. I feel almost curious as I embark on this next curveball of life, having been laid off from a job I loved and identified myself by. The quiet benefit of having lived through the unthinkable I guess....the knowledge that you do live through it and the sun does rise again. I look forward to Ben's wedding. I look forward to my life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Laid Off

Well, it happened. It has not exactly been a secret that the clinic was struggling and I have acknowledged to myself and to Joe many times since last October that lay-offs could potentially happen in the future. So when they called me up the day before yesterday and let me know my job position along with 10 others had been eliminated (including a physician), it wasn't exactly a surprise, but it was still a shock to my system. I have never had a job in a company like Cooper Clinic before, and I have never loved a job nor the people I work with like I did there. I am in genuine mourning. My time with Cooper is over. Dr. Cannaday, the physician I work with, wept. He wasn't given any say in whether they let me go instead of someone else. I tried to keep a brave face on it. I tried to leave them laughing, to make people less uncomfortable and less fearful. Dr. Cannaday's parting words to me were that I would be back. Wonderful of him to say so, but I think we all know how life goes on. I was so proud of my work there. I hate this feeling of "otherness" now, of being separate from it, cut from the herd and not in a good way. No matter how logically I know it was not a performance based issue, it still stings.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling out of body and off, not having anything to get ready for, nothing planned, nothing to do. The brakes developed a sudden problem on my car, so Joe and I took it down to the mechanic. Joe has been wonderful through this. He understands my grief over the loss of this job. He lost his a few weeks ago, so the two of us spent the day sending out resumes and working in the yard. Tomato plants have arrived at Lowes, so we came back home and started to do spring preparation of the garden, killing weeds in the yard, trimming back the crepe myrtles. He started up the lawnmower for the first time this year and the open windows let in the scent of grass and earth. The house isn't going on the market on Friday after all now, obviously. I was feeling pretty ambivalent about all that anyway. I love our home. We've made it beautiful. No matter how many we have gone to look at, it always feels like an exhalation to walk back in our own door. We could make that happen with any structure we happened to buy, but we could have far, far worse places to weather out this economic downturn.

I could not bring myself to tell Joe I had been laid off over email or the phone the day it happened, so I packed up my desk, said goodbye to some of the most dear people on the planet and came home. I walked in the door carrying a cardboard box and my soul on my sleeve at 3:30 PM. He was happy to see me, rushing to open the door, blustering with a smile about what was I doing home at that time of day....and then his eyes took in my face, which he reads like a book, even though I was not crying...and they took in the box...and he said "No. Oh no. Really?" And I nodded...I don't remember if I spoke...and he just put his arms around me. I kept apologizing. It wasn't for cause but I still feel as if I failed him, failed us. Failed myself. In time we opened a $90 bottle of wine and found dark humor in a good many theoretical silver linings. He jokes that I will have more time to bring him beer now. But I see his heart breaking for me when he looks at me.

I have two interviews lined up for tomorrow. I have to get my head on straight somehow. I admit, its going to be scary and difficult making yet another major life change. I miss the people I worked with and I miss my job at Cooper. I struggle with the internal sense of not wanting a different position somewhere else. It feels surreal. But. In tragedy there is opportunity, to reinvent oneself, to change things we don't like, to renew a sense of purpose and to grow. God never divulges His plan to us as it happens and goodness knows I have lived through far worse than this. I can feel a twinkle of excitement to try something new, particularly for getting out of transcription and back into working with people, with patients, something I have actually yearned for, for quite a while now. Transcription has never been my favorite thing, just the most lucrative of my skills. I remind myself of this often over the last 24 hours. Two interviews lined up in less than 24 hours since being laid off speaks well of opportunities still being out there for me. I don't think I will stay unemployed for long, though I may not be able to replace my income at the same level it had been. We shall see. Breathe in. Breathe out. I cannot control the way the wind blows nor the tilt of the earth. I can only move with it. And I have indeed learned this about myself. There honestly is nothing I cannot handle. Nothing I cannot smile through. Nothing I cannot conquer. So here we go.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I have never really pondered the meaning of the word. As a wordsmith, the various potential contexts for its use come to me almost like a whisper, sentences fusing together and flitting like smoke through my thoughts and my soul with no meaning, no context...just the joy of putting words together and making sounds that conduct emotion. A hobby of mine that I can do with pretty much any word or idea and am actively doing a great deal of my day whether I write them down or find inspiration in them or not. What connotation though, in conscious thought, does the word "hunger" really imply? A need to be fed perhaps. A desire for satisfaction. An ache that we want to be silent. Something we do when we want something. Something that happens to us when we need something. Pain.

As a woman who is actively trying to shed the unhealthy gain that happened over years of unhappy and challenging life, I feel hunger in the physical sense a great deal of the time. Its not pleasant. I don't like it. And I want it to stop at the earliest possibility. I have grown enough to shed many of the desires that I could categorize as "hunger" internally, now that I don't feel the need to feed or satisfy those desires, now that they don't cause me pain anymore. Now that I am learning to separate "want" from "need.

In my endeavor to become a person who eats in a reasonable and healthy fashion, I am swiftly determining that there is a difference between a craving for something and real, physical hunger. There is a difference between just wanting to eat, and a physical need for food. There is a boundary between being not hungry and being full. And I begin to recognize that my own ability to fantasize often influences the depth of my interpretation. I can be "starving" on the emotional scale, but nary a growl on the physical one. Conversely, when I am wrapped up in something requiring a great deal of attention and personal investment, I can have a stomach making noises so insistent that eventually it becomes painful and nauseating. True physical hunger.

As a fat chick, I have had difficulty distinguishing between the two. I think to some degree this has been subconscious, but to some degree it has simply been stubborn. I like to eat. I like to want. I enjoy the feeling of having a need (which is really a wish, but I want it to be a need, because then it MUST be taken care of) being met actively and thoroughly. Even upon satisfying a craving for something, it is not enough for my desire to have a taste. It must be stuffed with plenty. A sense that there is "enough" to meet my desire and then some. An affluence of spirit manifested in the easy procurement of food. I wonder how many of my food cravings I would still want if they were not readily available, or at least with the same blind drive to get them. If I had to grind the corn into meal myself to create corn chips. To grow the tomatoes, the peppers, the onions, the herbs, the spices, to pick and cut and mix and marinate until the salsa is just right. Every single time. Would I still then feel a driving desire to get chips and salsa in great quantities, right this minute? Or would the effort involved temper the desire back to a wistful wish, rather than a gluttonous drive?

How often are my other desires steeped in the same warped logic? I have spent so many years of my life angry and disappointed. Bitter. Dispassionate and derisive. Jealous. How much time I have spent fantasizing about things I wanted but could never have, or told myself I could not, because I was not willing to do the work required to get it? And then calling myself lazy, tearing myself down and something in me feeling threatened and hateful toward those who DID have that drive, who DID do the work. Somehow I can't see myself growing jealous over someone having salsa and chips and me not, nor really beating myself up because I don't particularly want to go to the effort of making my own. That would be ridiculous. Envious perhaps, even admiring, that they did have that drive, to want it enough to go to the trouble of getting it for themselves. But not to the point of making both of us into bad people because they did it and I did not. It is all about choices.

Life has taught me what choices are important to me. It has taught me I can do anything I put the effort toward and I am ever evolving in my decisions about where I desire to put my effort and energy. I only now come to know myself. Finding that the things I turned my eyes away from and closed my heart to because I did not WANT to be that woman are in fact the very things that bring me peace and joy. Finding out that hiding from trying anything can, in fact, rob me of everything. I got so hungry for something to feed my soul I could no longer feel what it was that I hungered for. I could not read the hunger. I wanted something. Anything. Just make that internal hurting, yearning, growling stop. And since it required no effort at all, only the exchange of little green slips of paper for easy products that spelled out "plenty" "enough" and "full", I ate instead of thought, consumed nonsense instead of real effort, work and self discovery. Until teh food gone and I didn't feel any better. Until I felt as bad physically as I did emotionally. Because what I fed was not where the hunger was really at. It satisfied nothing, and in fact, created more hunger, more yearning, more pain. And the seeking of some sense balance became unbalanced.

Hungry is starting to make sense to me now. I know when I feel want versus need on a physical level. And I am learning the emotional one, bit by bit. Perhaps the two are more hand-in-hand than I ever would have realized. Take care of the physical and the emotional shall follow. All I know is I feel better. Physcially and emotionally. And I no longer fear the pain. I trust I have the resources to take care of it. Physically and emotionally.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Balmy, busy weekend

Ahhh, now this is more like it! The weather has been so much warmer and we slept with the windows open last night. I love airing the house out and it smells fresh in here. Now that the coffee is done, I can smell it so much more clearly. I am very ready for spring. The changing from chill to warmth never fails to lift my spirits and fill me with energy.

Its a good thing too. Alexander's room got a cleaning and organized from head to toe yesterday. Alex was such a big help. We packed up a huge contractor bag full of toys and clothing no longer useful to him and sent it off to donations. Another huge bag of trash from things that are broken or just too worn out to be worth donating. I am sheepish that we just got all his pictures hung on the walls and the bulletin board his Aunt Stacey made for him. Just in time to move. Shame on me. But he is on Cloud 9, so excited for all his stuff to be organized, to be able to actually walk into his closet and for nothing to be on his floor. That kid thrives on organization. Shame he got a Mom who isn't that into it. Today I'll be finishing doing the same for Nick's room. Then those two rooms will be all ready to show. I have done half of the closet in the master bedroom and need to finish that up along with both linen closets, the front closet and the laundry room. Plus all the usual weekly housework needs to be done still. I feel a little overwhelmed. My girlfriends invited me out to lunch and shopping today but I just don't see where I am going to have time. I hate that. I could really, really use some girl time. Next month for sure.

We had bought some turkeys when they were at a good price around Thanksgiving. Joe thawed one out this week and we cooked him yesterday. Man, the house smelled so good! He worked on replacing some wood trim on the outside of the house (not a small job. Involved a lot of painting and trips to the hardware store) and he cleaned the two ceiling fans that are up a bit too high for me to reach. Nick made us a cream cheese pie for dessert last night and Alex helped me get the table set. We all ate like horses. I swear there's nothing better than a day of exhausting hard work with a big family meal at the end of it. Afterward we watched a movie we rented (Prince Caspian...I was not impressed but the boys loved it). I slept through most of it to be honest. I kept dozing of on the couch. By 10 PM I was dead on my feet. Alex lost another tooth and I was trying so hard to stay awake to see the tooth fairy come (read here: waiting for Alex to fall asleep) but I was almost drunk with fatigue. Joe sent me off to bed and made sure the toothfairy did right by the boy.

Going through closets is always a bit harrowing. It never fails that we wind up finding little Joseph surprises. Things that belonged to him. Things he made. Its getting easier not to attach some kind of huge emotion to every little thing. He had about eleventy hundred word search books that people sent him while he was hospitalized. I guess I had a hard time throwing them away, though I don't remember that. They went into the donation bag with ease yesterday. I did find a little origami rabbit he'd started. That went into my cedar chest. Something about knowing his brilliant hands created it makes it impossible for me to let it go. Little physical things he touched are all the kisses I get from him now. And it was like little hugs from him yesterday, jolting but warm and soft. Alex and I would pause and one of us would say "Huh. That was Joseph's" and pause for another second and then decide what to do with whatever it was. Most of Joseph's stuff has been put up and the things we found yesterday were either big toys (a big box of K'Nex) or things like the word searches or origami paper. Alex wanted to keep the K'Nex. The rest of it pretty much went to donations or trash. I feel very peaceful about the whole process.

Here's praying the house sells without too much angst on our parts and that we find another perfect home for our family.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Winter will be lost for a while this weekend and I admit I have no desire to go look for it. Temps are supposed to crawl into the low 70s, which will make good weather for getting the house ready to sell. It is supposed to list on the 20th of February. We're watching for this potential 15K tax credit to pass through congress and keeping our fingers crossed for the purchase of a new home.

Its been a heavy week. The palpable stress in the world and to an extent in our house makes me tired. Joe is doing so well and I am proud of him, but I know he worries and that in turn makes me worry about him. Everything in the news is just saturated with woe and stories of woe to come. It feels almost wrong on a moral level to drift into optimistic thoughts. I've seen the media use the "D" word a few times (Depression). Granted, that is a frightening thought, but even then the majority of people were still employed. Obviously people lived through it. A few lean years can be dealt with and we are such homebodies that I don't know why it scares me so much.

Alexander is having a slumber party with three other little boys on Valentine's night. That's his birthday and he will be 11. I am not looking forward to the slumber party part but I am so happy for him that he can do it. Years of apartment living and on-the-edge-of-poverty made that kind of thing difficult for a few years. Not to mention the chaotic unknown of whether he and then his brother were going to be having problems that required immediate medical attention on any given day. I have been contemplating scanning in the pictures from Alexander's surgery. Not the surgery itself, but the befores, the afters. I don't know why, but I don't look back at his situation as often as I do Joseph's. We were going through our divorce at the time that his tumor was found and that serious health issue on top of the emotional turmoil going on was overwhelming. I don't think I fully understood at the time how serious it was. Alex remembers an appallingly large amount of information from the time of his surgery, including time he spent in the ICU. Things I wish he had forgotten, though I don't know why. He doesn't seem particularly traumatized by it. He is very matter-of-factual when he talks about it. He has sought clarification on why certain things happened the way they did and why we would not let him do some things he had wanted to at the time, but there's no recrimination in his questions, just a desire for understanding that he seems to recognize he didn't have at the time due to age and maturity (he was five).

So my youngest is turning 11. I find myself savoring things with him on a deep, emotional level. I pray more that I will not forget than anything else. I know the next years will be ones of big change, in his physical size, in his personality, in his focus and goals. We've been so close and so in sync. I am not looking forward to the likely inevitability of his pulling away from me, exploring the world, experimenting with things he probably should not, getting into trouble, testing his mettle and mine. I wish I could keep him right here, right now, this way. Of course, I have said that every year of his life. Each age has brought new and wonderful things about him to life. Perhaps his teen years will be no different. He does seem to have unusual maturity for a child of his age, likely due to all we've been through.

I'll get those pictures scanned in and publish them. I think it would be good for my own sense of continuity.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Life, going on

I am in another silent phase, obviously. My internal voice does speak to me and there have been a few times I have had the urge to write but not been in a place or situation where I could, whether from atmosphere or proximity to my computer. I dislike missing those opportunities. It never fails that the wind that was blowing within blows away completely if I don't honor it right when it happens. I am kind of making myself write this right now. Not so much a wind as a warning inside. I need to be writing.

The semester started on the 20th and I am retaking A&P II. So far I feel much more peaceful about this term. Joe and I had many, many talks over the two and a half month break about what I hope to achieve and what he hopes for me to achieve. On his part, that entails mainly my happiness. He wants to to continue and finish these pre-requisites and apply for nursing school. But if I choose not to, or even if I do, get there, get accepted and THEN choose not to, he is fine with that. Somehow just knowing that, that he, whose opinion matters beyond anyone else's, would be fine with me just being happy, however that happens, freed me somehow from some of the competitive angst I was feeling. And it has quietly let this dream to be a nurse come back and stick its head in the door, no longer capped as much by the driving force of Joseph's illness, but remembering instead that I wanted to do this long before Joseph became ill and had written it off as impossible.

The class is familiar and that is helping me too, I admit. There is a LOT of information to be memorized and understood. Having some of it in there already allows me to focus on some of the things that I need clarity on. We are studying blood right now. I continue to struggle with overwhelming emotions as we go through this chapter and I know I will again when we get to the immune system. But for the first time, I have made myself put up a firm hand. It hurts, literally and physically, but I feel so determined. I do not allow myself to process it as it pertains to Joseph, and honestly, I think that is helping with my retention of information. I process it thinking of everyone around me, about my future patients, even my own body. But not what it meant for Joseph's body and not the obvious example of what happens when it doesn't work the way it is supposed to. It is hard. It feels slightly disloyal, but that voice is softer now inside me and easily quieted with a firm No. It is not disloyal. There is not a day, not a minute when he is not with me. I carry him everywhere. Even when I did that physically I didn't spend all my time looking directly at him. He was just there, with me. That is how I try to see my memories and grief now. It is there, with me. I am getting out of my own way and studying these subjects the way they are best studied for the ways that I learn. Obviously by thinking of all we went through, the trauma of that and the desperation lead to exhaustion inside and out and made it difficult. I won't be doing that again, at least not when it is within my control.

I have lost 26 pounds since Thanksgiving as a result of diligent effort to make better food choices and to eat smaller portions. I have a cousin getting married in Nebraska in March and I am hoping to attend the wedding. I would love to do so weighing 30-40 pounds less than I did the last time my family saw me. The gym is a habit I continue to push myself on. I really ought to be going every day and I give in too easily to that inner feeling of "Wahhh, I don't wanna!" Interestingly, I am being more forgiving of myself, but also accepting fewer excuses. I can't explain it, its just a feeling inside me. I tried a different elliptical this morning at the gym than the one I usually use. The one I tried out is more high tech and gives a better workout. Read here: its HARD. I could only go half the distance that the machine I was using before said I went on a regular basis. I will be using the newer one from now on. I felt it more. I am trying hard to build habits that honor who I am as a person, that reflect who I want to be, who I want to present to the world. It feels good. Really, really good.

Joe and I are pondering purchasing tickets to Jimmy Buffett again. We had such fun with it last year. We have decided to go forward with putting the house on the market on Feb 20th and just seeing what comes of it. We are looking for a run down home in a nice neighborhood that we can bring cash to the table and give some love, make it our own. We'll see what happens. The whole thing, frankly, scares me. I love the house we are in now. We both want to move to a better neighborhood and a slightly bigger home. But I tend to get fearful when leaving home for any reason. I am happy there. Happier than I have ever been. I remind myself that is because of who I am, who Joe is, who we are together and how our family life is with the boys. Not the building itself.

So that's it in a nutshell. Nothing earth shattering. Just life going on.