Her Name

I will be honest, for the longest time I didn’t really understand when people gave names to very early losses. I think I thought it would compound their sadness, make their loss bigger than it was, make it more, somehow.

I didn’t come to name my first loss deliberately. It kind of just, happened. And to my utmost surprise, I’m incredibly thankful that it did.

It was a song that did it. A song that I have always loved and I still listen to, from time to time, when I’m feeling melancholy. At some point I realized the song reminded me of the baby I lost, of that first pregnancy that broke something inside me, physically and emotionally.

In the song is a name. And over time that name became the name of my first baby. I worried, even as it was happening, that it would reopen an old wound, rendering the hurt it deeper and more profound. I was surprised to find the opposite was true. The name gave me comfort and a recognition of what I lost that I didn’t realize I needed.

At the beach a few weekends ago I wrote her name in the sand and watched as it was washed away. She may have been erased from this world, but she will never be erased from my heart.

How do you honor and remember what could have been?

It Lingers

A couple days ago I sat in the car in my school’s parking lot, messing around on my phone, when I saw this.

IMG_6792I don’t subscribe to TimeHop or anything of the kind, but every once in a while FB will have some old post at the top of my newsfeed with a note that reminds me, “Two years ago you posted this…”

Two years ago I posted this and I STILL can’t believe I got to do it. I still can’t believe that sweet boy who had such a hard time sleeping last night is here and healthy and the most dedicated hugger a mom could hope for.

I don’t think about our journey through loss and secondary infertility much these days. It’s a part of the past that I rarely dwell on, but I can’t deny that its presence lingers. In small, subtle, almost imperceptible ways, it is a part of me.

It’s there in the complicated nature of my joy at other people’s birth announcements. It colors the edges of my celebration of my others’ good fortune. It trips my breath when a friend announces she’s going to start trying for a second child in July and stumbles through my kind words of reassurance. It resides in the tightness of the sigh at a text chain about my friend’s imminent labor, in the way I put my phone down just a little harder than I would have, in the length of time it takes me to pick it back up.

It lives in the way I cock my head at a blogger who is newly pregnant and seems totally unconcerned about miscarriage or loss (and I’m sure she is concerned, but I can’t quite fathom that she doesn’t acknowledge it). It lingers in the low grade anxiety humming in the background every time I consider pregnancy in any way, the whisperings of What if? And I hope...

It’s there, in how tightly I embrace my son and how long I hold him. It’s there, in the extra seconds I stare at my daughter’s bright, beautiful face and in the long minutes I lay close to her in bed at night, taking in every inch of her tall, lanky body.

It’s in the heaviness of old toys as I place them in the give-away bag, in the neatness of the creases as I fold the tiny shirts and pants I’ll never use again.

It’s always there, skirting the periphery, ever present but never quite in view. It’s a part of me, of every day, not as a thought or a feeling but a lens through which I bring parts of the world into focus.

I don’t dwell much on the narrative anymore, on the facts and the details, the quantifiable and the less so. I don’t parade out the numbers, of weeks, of months, of failures, of test results, of diagnoses.

Of pain, of anguish, of tears.

I don’t dwell on it, but it lingers. A distracted shimmer, a muted fog, a chilled breeze.

A post, on social media, I put up two years ago.

A reminder of what could have been, of what was.

How does it linger for you?

Nice Houses

My parents have a big, beautiful house. It is filled with gorgeous things arranged in pleasing color schemes. It’s really nice being there. I like that house. A lot.

We have a pretty nice house. It’s nothing fancy–in fact, parts of it are kind of gross (*cough* our garage *cough*)–but it gets the job done. It’s old and it wasn’t build very well, so the overall quality isn’t great. The cabinets in the kitchen are thin and flimsy and look like they belong in a (cheap) cabin in the woods. The middle cabinets don’t even match the ones around them. The fridge is old and dirty (no matter how many times I clean it), but the dishwasher and stove are new. The bathroom tile is cool but the sink is the kind you buy at Home Depot (I’ve seen my exact sink there many times) and the layout is strange and it makes the already small space even more cramped than it needs to be.

It has two bedrooms and we sleep in the living room so it’s almost like it has three. Each of us has our own space to retreat to and the living room is central, providing us a space to share. The hallway is wide and the skylight keeps it bright. The floors are shiny and ceilings are high. The windows are new. The doors are hollow and thin and usher sound through them with a kind of urgency. Most of them can be opened without turning the knobs.

There is an ample entry way which helps keep the mess at bay, but the ceiling is so low in that space that I hit my hands when I take off my sweatshirt.

It really is a nice enough house and the fact that we own it in this insane city is more than I can believe most days. We are so lucky to have the security of a home we own in a place where rents skyrocket and tenants are pushed out of their homes with no where to go.

Yes, it’s a nice enough house, but it’s not beautiful. It’s not filled with beautiful things. All our furniture is from IKEA or was handed down to us from our parents. There is no expensive artwork on our walls, only photographs that I’ve taken. We don’t have any nice dishes to bring out when we entertain, and we don’t have anywhere people could hang out if we wanted to entertain them.

In St. Louis we had dinner at my aunt’s house. She put an addition on at some point in the last two years that almost doubled her downstairs. At one point I remarked that my entire house could probably fit in her first floor and she said, yeah, that is how I was living when I was your age.

What I didn’t say was that I expect to be living the same way when I’m her age.

This house, our first house, is no starter home for us. We plan to live here for the rest of our days. There will be no trading it in for something nicer down the road. This is our home, hopefully forever. If we leave here it will most likely be because one of us lost our job and we can’t afford our mortgage.

I notice it a lot, my dueling perspectives. There is the envy of those who have bigger, newer, nicer homes than our own fighting with the firm assurance that we have more than we need. Most days I sit in my living room and think, it’s so big, the ceilings are so high, there is so much space and light and I’m so happy here. This house is a million times better than the apartment we lived in for almost a decade. Other times, I run my hands over the granite or marble countertops of homes much nicer than mine and lament the fact that I’ll never have anything like that to call my own.

It’s hard, not to compare. It’s hard not to see people write about their third bedroom, or fourth, or even fifth and think, imagine what I could do with all that space! Their home must be three or four times bigger than mine! And yet most of the time I recognize that we don’t even need the extra 400 square feet I dream of some day calling my own. That I can live even without that second bathroom I so intensely covet.

We are so fortunate to make enough to afford this house, in this city where real estate is so insane. I know this. I embrace that gratitude every single day. But somehow that gratitude leaves room for me to sometimes want more.

My husband works for the city and I work at a public school. We’ll only ever make about $10,000 more a month (before taxes) than we’re making right now and part of that won’t be for another 10 years. We’re budgeting to add some inside stairs to the back of the house so we can maybe move downstairs some day, but there will never be money to renovate our kitchen or bathroom. This is it. And the reality is, by the time we can afford to make even the modest changes we dream about, our daughter will already be 15 and set to leave home a short three years after. Is it even worth making our living space bigger when our family will soon be smaller?

I don’t know what the point of this post is. I guess I just wanted to get it down so maybe I’d stop thinking about it. I tire of these thoughts that circle, relentlessly, in my mind. I watched my dad’s envy of other’s financial good fortune blind him to the amazing house he already had and I’d never forgive myself if I did the same. I remind myself it’s okay to feel envy, that eventually it will pass. And it does. And then it pops up again.

I just asked my husband if he ever feels envious of other people’s homes or jobs or accomplishments and after thinking about it for a while he said that no, he does not. This surprised me. I thought that we all felt envy at some times. Maybe I was wrong about that.

I used to try to squelch these feelings but now I try to accept them without dwelling or berating myself for them. They have less of a hold of me when I do that, so I guess is something.

What sparks your envy? How easily does it coexist with gratitude?

Style and a Crisis of Identity

I went to my cousin’s wedding this past weekend. I thought I had a dress I could wear, but when I pulled the few I own out, I realized that none of them really worked. The one I was banking on was all the wrong colors for a May wedding outdoors. It was perfect for the winter wedding in NYC that I bought it for, but it would not do for this past weekend. The other dress didn’t seem fancy enough and I don’t love how it pulls across my stomach now after I’ve had two kids (that one went right in the donation pile). In the end I only had the dress I wore to my own wedding. It’s a large and now I’m a medium, but it is flowy enough that it still fits well. It’s a little fancy to wear to someone else’s wedding but it doesn’t look like a wedding dress in any way, so I think it worked well enough. (I actually had a more than a few people tell me that my dress was the most beautiful one there!)

The only problem was I needed a new strapless bra. I was very much aware that the one I wore on my wedding day would never fit again so I actually jimmied the tag back on afterward and returned it (it was $75!) and I gave away all my old strapless bras because they were pre-pregnancy/breastfeeding and none of them fit right anymore. So I dragged my ass to the mall on Tuesday to get a new strapless bra, or a new dress if I found one at a reasonable price.

Walking around the women’s section at Macy’s (they were having their Friends and Family Sale) I was struck by how thoroughly out of place I felt. There was not one area I identified with. I just didn’t think any of the clothes would be cute for me.

I began to wonder, where exactly is a 35 year old woman whose had two babies and is interested as much in quality and comfort as in style supposed to shop?

I haven’t bought one article of clothing for myself since The Great Purge of {Early} 2015. It’s not that I put myself on some kind of deliberate buying freeze, I just haven’t felt compelled. Actually, that is not entirely accurate. I have wanted to buy a couple of specific items, but they are all rather pricey and I can’t seem to pull the trigger on any of them. And any time I peruse the clothing sections of my old haunts (ahem Target, H&M) nothing really calls to me. (I haven’t let myself set foot in a Gap because I don’t trust myself there, as much in the kids’ section as in the women’s).

Four months ago I collected every article of clothing I own, laid hands on each piece, and determined if it brought me joy. While I didn’t know how to answer that question well enough at the time–I continue to throw items into the donation pile as I put them on and realize that I’m not happy in them–I’m getting better at it. It seems I’m getting quite good at determining what DOESN’T bring me joy, but I still struggle with identifying what does.

And in stores, outside the context of my own personal wardrobe (and shoe rack), I really struggle. There are things I like well enough, but nothing has really grabs me. Sometimes I see something I love, but I know it wouldn’t look on my body, which has settled into a place that I’m not entirely comfortable with but am attempting to feel good about. And sometimes I don’t think I’ll love something, but then I’ll put it on and feel really good about myself in it. (This happens more with clothes my friend gives me, as I don’t generally try on something I don’t love when it’s on the hanger.)

I guess this is all a long winded way of saying, I’m not quite sure how to shop anymore. I’m not quite sure what brands are the right combination of comfort, quality and style that also look good on this mid-thirties, post-kids body. Heck, I’m not quite sure what persona I want to present to the world or what I’m willing to spend to present that persona. I guess it’s a bit of a crisis of identity, one that I’m sure many women feel in their mid-thirties or after having kids.

All I know is that I have to stop shopping for clothes online. I almost NEVER really love what I buy online–I clearly need to see something in the store to know if it brings me joy. Even then, I think it’s going to be a real challenge moving forward, at least until I learn a little more about myself.

How do you know that a new article of clothing will bring you joy? Do you have any brands you like or a certain amount you feel comfortable spending? Basically, how you do you shop for clothes?!

Life is Good

I realize that I don’t come here much to wax philosophical about things going well. In the past, on my other blog, that led people to believe I was a negative nelly who dwelt only on the bad. But that is not the case. There is so much in my life that I celebrate each day. Here are just a few things that I’ve been appreciating lately.

– My son is at a very sweet age. He hasn’t started tantruming on the reg yet but he’s understanding more and more and can even say some words and a phrase or two. His first complete sentence was, “I want that,” which he’s found to be very versatile and has morphed it into, “I want bar,” (curse you KidZ bars you have taken my daughter hostage and now my son is following suit!) “I want ball,” and just yesterday, “I want to go park.” When I ask him to give me “a smooch” he comes up a presses his lips against my cheek oh so gently. I swoon with delight every time. And while he doesn’t want me to sing to him before bed anymore, there are times when he hugs me and it’s like his whole body is wrapping around mine. When he’s having trouble sleeping he loves to lie on my stomach while I rub his back and he brushes his fingers up and down my arm. He’s a big boy (35 inches and 25 pounds!) and already it’s hard to treat him like the 18 month old he is, so I’m savoring these last months before he transforms into a two year old. He is such a sweet boy. I absolutely adore him.

– Things with my husband are better. They aren’t great by any means, but they are okay-to-good more than they are not-okay-to-bad. I am working through two marriage books and trying to focus on the destructive habits I have fallen into instead of dwelling on the negativity I feel he brings to our relationship. It’s empowering to take responsibility for what I can change and I already see some improvements. I’m also trying not to project into the future; I stop myself whenever I wonder how we’ll affect real change without his deliberate involvement. Maybe the changes I make will be so effective that he changes without my prodding? If not, we’ll figure it out when we get there.

– My daughter and I are going to St. Louis (where all my extended family lives) for a wedding this weekend. I’m excited to see my cousins and to get away for a few days. I’m already dreading being away from my sweet boy for so long; it think it will be really hard on him for both me and his sister to be away.

– We also have a weekend at a cabin with friends planned for Memorial Day weekend. Staying at a cabin with another family has been on my “once I have kids bucket list” and I’m stoked to finally make it happen with my good friends’ family. His kids are very close in age to ours and they are similarly laid back, with reasonable (read: low) expectations, so I think it should be a fun weekend.

– We got an AMAZING tax refund and I’m looking forward to putting some real money in our kids’ college accounts and having a small emergency fund in the bank, just in case. (More on this, and my evolving budget, soon.)

-Things continue to go well on the friend front. I feel comfortable with the amount I’m seeing people and my family seems better able to manage my now less-frequent absences. I hope to keep working toward meaningful friendships with these women, even though it requires an insane amount of time and work to do so.

-My good friend is expecting her first child in the next couple weeks and I’m so excited for her. This will be my first good college girl friend to have a baby. I hope her daughter arrives safe and sound. I can’t wait to meet her.

-I am reading All the Light We Cannot See for book club and it’s incredible. Truly a breathtakingly beautiful book. I had forgotten that writing can be art–this book has reminded me.

-After realizing that one of the reasons I wanted to leave my job was boredom, I started implementing some new ideas and assigning some new projects in my classes. It has definitely made work more interesting and I’m look forward to focusing on entirely revamping my ELD class next year. I’m very exciting to be trying something new and am proud of myself for taking the initiative to change things up.

– That said, only seven more weeks until summer, but who’s counting, right? 😉

What positive things have you been appreciating lately?

The Reference

I realized after I asked if anyone knew what book that title was from, that most likely nobody would as I don’t think the book is very well known. I absolutely love it because the friendship between the two characters is portrayed brilliantly. I adore them each separately, and together they are perfection.

“Without Question” is the title of the third chapter of the book Bink and Gollie: Two For One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile. Hopefully the following pages will help you understand why I’m so enamored of this friendship.

 

Without Question 2

 

Without Question 3Without Question 4

There are three Bink and Gollie books and each one is wonderful. I highly recommend checking them out.

Denied

My petition to the life insurance company was denied.

“The combination of depression and ADD/ADHD precludes [me] from being eligible.”

I don’t think I really believed it would work, but it still hit like a sledge hammer to the chest. I couldn’t get off the phone with the representative fast enough.

Those diagnoses. Depression. ADD. They are hard to pin down. I’ve always grappled with the appropriate incorporation. How do they define me? Sometimes their presence is an unbearable weight, stifling who I feel I’m meant to be. Sometimes they are a fog I walk through, a mist that swirls around the spaces where I brush it away, making it impossible to see. Other times they are a shadow cast behind me as I walk purposefully into the light, only visible when I glance back.

I’ve spent so long wondering how relevant they are to my own self-identity, and yet I’ve never formally denied them. Why then has it been so shocking to witness someone else, a nameless, power-wielding entity, conjure them into undeniable existence. It’s as if this one action, this single determination has forced them to materialize as solid evidence that I am forced to acknowledge. Certain. Indisputable. Obvious.

It’s so obvious to them.

Why isn’t it obvious to me?

These parts of me that I have fought for so long. That I have cursed at and cowered from and fought against and succumbed to and triumphed over. I have always suspected they were there, an inextricable part of me. So why does someone else recognizing them for the liability they are cut me so deep? Why do I feel so betrayed by myself?

Is there a part of me that has been denying them for all these years?

Did I need someone else to deny my denial so I could see them for what they are?

And what are they, really? Notes in my medical history. Coded authorizations for treatment and prescriptions. Abbreviations. Explanations. Generalized depression. Bi-Polar II. Anxiety. Attention Deficit Disorder. Referrals. Group therapy. Doses. Refills. Side effects. Co pays. Phone consultations. Thyroid tests. Milligrams. Take once a day with food.

May cause dizziness.

We are an under-diagnosed but over-medicated generation. Do I really suffer from these things? Or do I just want a quick fix to make myself feel better? Would I still “need” them if I ate all organic, raw foods and got eight hours of sleep and meditated two hours each day? Am I doing this to myself? Am I imagining it?

And even if they are “real”–whatever that means–should I have sucked it up and trudged forward without asking for help so that they wouldn’t have grounds now to penalize me?

They have always been there. Threaded through me. Stamped on the pages of my medical history. Were they they before the professionals identified them? Or did they only crash the party after they were formally invited? Before I existed in the uncertainty. Now they seem real, even if they may have once been imagined.

Now there are consequences. Now they are being claimed for me.

It’s strange how much it hurts. I guess I didn’t realize I wasn’t ready to claim them for myself.

Without Question*

On Saturday I walked with my son up the main street of our neighborhood to run some errands. I’ve walked down these particular blocks hundreds of times and while some of the store fronts have changed in the three years since we moved here, most are very familiar.

On this particular day I noticed a sign I had not seen before, touting a tarot card and palm reader’s expertise. Huh, I thought, Has that always been there? As I was slowing down to inspect the sign’s pedigree, I realized the proprietor was in front of her door, handing out leaflets. I found myself gently taking one, and smiling as I walked away.

I have never had my fortune told, not via tea leaves or tarot cards or the indecipherable map of creases on my hand.

It’s not that I’m not interested, or wouldn’t know where to go. There is a gaudy sign declaring a fortune teller’s presence on the way to my in-laws house that I’ve always been drawn to, but have never committed to stepping inside.

I’ve been passing that sign for almost ten years now and always I glance at it and wonder. In the time when we were trying for our first child, and then our second, my heart would race when it came into view. The mere possibility that someone inside might have a response for all my unanswerable questions was more than my aching heart could bear.

I thought about getting my fortune read a lot during those uncertain years. In the end it wasn’t the fear of wasting my time and money that kept me away, but the terror that she’d tell me exactly what I was most afraid to hear.

Because, while the uncertainty was unbearable (and I often lamented that the wait would go by in the blink of an eye if I knew for certain that it would someday be over), the suggestion that any other future might lay in wait would have destroyed me.

This Saturday, as I walked away from the woman on the street, the hint of a smile still smoothing the corners of my mouth, I realized I no longer want my future told. At this point I have everything I want, the only thing she can tell me is when it might be taken away.

Have you ever had your fortune told?

*The title is from one of my favorite children’s book. Can anyone name it?

{Reference given here.}

Outlines in the Landscape

This weekend was pretty nice. We didn’t end up having much going on which was exactly what we needed after being away last weekend. I enjoyed some one-on-one time with both kids, which I really appreciate because those moments when my attention isn’t divided are the rare instances in which I really feel like I get to connect with either of them in a meaningful way.

Yesterday I took the kids to the Academy of Science while my husband cleaned the house so his friend who was stopping by wouldn’t think we live like savages. It was a chaotic trip, as one-parent/two-kid outings generally are, but I was happy to be out of the house. I go crazy when I’m stuck at home all day.

Parking was crazy and we ended up finding a spot a good 15 minutes away from our destination. Walking back with my son on my back and my daughter in the stroller (she is way too big for the stroller) was exhausting and I was starving and just wanted to get home. It took forever to get both kids strapped into their seats and all the jackets, food containers, water cups, diaper accoutrements and extra clothes (some soiled, some still clean) out from under the stroller and by the time I was in the driver’s seat I just wanted to shut my eyes for at least 15 full, uninterrupted minutes.

And yet, when I put on the tired mix of kids’ music we’ve listened to literally hundreds of times, I was struck by a feeling of contentment so deep, it gave me chills. I was suddenly reminded of the sheer terror I felt, after our ectopic, that I might never have a child or be a mother, and I felt a rush of gratitude for the two beings in my back seat so profound that my hands shook for a few minutes.

I used to have that feeling all the time in the year after my daughter was born, and in the months after my son joined the family, but I haven’t felt it since he became mobile and my world started to implode in slow motion. It was a relief to touch that deep well, to know that I could still access the enormity of my past sorrow despite the deep chasm time has carved between that terrified woman of so many years ago and her ambivalent, present day counterpart.

All that to say, there are good days. Some of them are even great. There are moments when my life with two kids unfolds like a faded photograph from so many years ago and I recognize the outlines of my former dreams in the landscape of my future.

It’s only the colors that don’t quite match up, and I think I have more power over the filter than I let myself believe.

Minimalism, revisited

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo. Minimalism.

It’s been many months since I embraced minimalism and attempted to make it a part of my life. Immediately I saw the benefits of owning less stuff and was relieved to see that if I parred down my belongings I could actually keep my house in order. For the first time in my life, house keeping seemed somewhat manageable. This is a HUGE accomplishment and if this were the only benefit it would be enough for me to embrace minimalism forever.

It’s not the only benefit of course. Minimalism helps me stay within my budget, which is another thing I’ve been failing to do for pretty much my entire adult life. For one overarching philosophy (we are happier with less stuff) to improve, or even resolve, two of my biggest challenges is a pretty extraordinary thing.

Clearly, I NEED to embrace minimalism.

So why is it so fucking difficult for me?!

I read so many stories of people who decide minimalism is the thing for them. They get rid of their stuff. They realize they don’t need any more stuff. They are exceedingly happy. They never look back.

They don’t seem to have relapses or struggle with the new arrangements or restrictions. They are born again, they have seen the light and will be forever bathed in it. Then they go out into the world and preach.

That has not been my experience.

Even though I can see the very real, very concrete benefits of embracing minimalism, even though I absolutely agree with the philosophy and recognize why it is not a only superior, but necessary, way to live if we want to achieve sustainability as a species, even though I agree with it fundamentally, I still find myself struggling. I still want a new purse and that cute pair of shoes my friend was wearing last week. I’m still pining after a new pair of jeans because I just don’t love the way the ones I have fit (that whole keeping only what inspires joy exercise has actually made me want to get more clothes–getting rid of the ones I have that I don’t love of course–which I don’t think was the point). I still want to get my kids new toys, even though I’m constantly giving away the ones we no longer play with.

I guess I thought it would be easier. I thought I’d embrace this ideal and all my previous wants and desires would melt away. I expected something would click and this new mindset would override a lifetime of messages (subliminal and overt) asserting that acquiring more makes us happier. I assumed it wouldn’t be so much work, that it wouldn’t require constant admonitions, that it would just be the way I was.

But I am the way I used to be. And it’s hard work to override a lifetime of one message with its complete opposite. I’m constantly reminding myself of my new ideals. I’m continually assuring myself of how good it feels to have less, and how buying things doesn’t actually make me feel better. The habit of wanting to solve problems with more things is so deeply engrained, that I find myself constantly talking myself out of wanting something.

It’s exhausting. And I’m disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed in my materialism and how easy it is for me to fall back into my old, destructive patterns. I want to be the person who doesn’t care if she has new shoes or a new pair of jeans. I want to be the person who cares about the things in life that really matter.

Some of the things are small, like still pining after a new purse even though the one I have now works fine. Every once in a while the desire bubbles up and I do a little online “window shopping” and realize there is nothing that I love so I shelve the whole thing for another month, but the fact that I keep coming back to it makes me feel icky. Who cares about a stupid purse? Why can’t I just be happy with the one I have?

Other things are bigger. We rent an in-law unit under our kitchen so we can afford our mortgage. The “plan” has always been that in five or so years, when we’re done paying for childcare, we’d build inside stairs connecting the in-law unit to the rest of the house and make it our “master suite.” We currently sleep in what is supposed to be the living room of our house, with only a Japanese screen between our bedroom and what is supposed to be the dining room (but what we use as a living room). Right now the layout works fine for us, but when our kids are older and want to watch TV when we want to sleep, or when we find it hard accommodate four people’s needs with only one bathroom, we’ll want the space, or so we assumed.

But then we watch documentaries about tiny houses and see the spaces people live in and I wonder why we I’ve let myself be convinced that we need more space when 1200 square feet is way more than 99% of families around the world inhabit (and most of them are bigger than ours) . We clearly have enough, we clearly can make it work, and we are resourceful enough as a family to manage with only one bathroom even when our kids are older. If we kept renting our in-law unit we could save that extra money for our kids’ college funds, and maybe even travel some day. Aren’t those things so much more important? Why do I feel such a devastating loss when I think about giving up the dream of moving into that space?

Sometimes I get the feeling that really, deep inside, I want to be a fundamentally different person. I wish I just saw the world differently, that I didn’t spend so many weeks and months of my life slipping into and crawling out of depression, that I saw the world in a more positive light, that I was more grateful, that I complained less. I wish I were kinder and more giving, less selfish and less self-serving. I meet people who seem to live life in all the ways I wish I did, and they seem to do so effortlessly. I always wonder if were they born that way, or if they have to work at it.

It feels like I have to work at everything that matters to me in my life. Nothing comes naturally to me except depression and disorganization and overspending and negativity and despair. I have such an amazing life and yet I spend all the time trying to get myself to see how amazing it is. And when some incredible way of living becomes known to me, and I’m 100% sure it’s the way I want, and NEED, to live myself, I can’t even embrace it. It’s hard not to feel frustrated with myself sometimes.

When I write these posts people tell me I need to be kinder to myself. And while I’m sure that’s true, there is something more here that I need to figure out. I can’t just shrug these feelings away telling myself to be kinder and more forgiving. I feel like something needs to change inside me, but I don’t think that kind of change is possible, and I’m not sure where that leaves me.

Have you been able to embrace fundamental changes in your life? How did it happen?