12/22/2014

First Day of Christmas Vacay

Zoey and I made yet another drive up to Oregon yesterday, this one very smooth until the last hour and a half of sheeting rain and fog.  Yikes!  Passing those huge trucks when mostly blinded is no fun.  But we made it.  If I could manage to get my act together and leave earlier in the morning versus noon, that would help.  Maybe one of these days.

Today, I got up at the crack of dawn (well it was 7am but it was pretty dark!) and hung out with my little niece, V, who is now three-years-old and finally willing to let me play and read to her with her parents not around.  So fun!  And they appreciated a little free time to get ready and do a couple chores.

Then, I took Zoey on a walk and went to work out at the athletic club (part of the family business).  Before I left, I got really pissed off at Zoey when she knocked down the baby gate I set up to keep her downstairs.  Getting angry backfired on me, though, because then she wouldn't come when I called and I had to chase, cajole, and finally bribe her to come downstairs.  Then tonight I noticed she peed a little bit next to her crate.  I did not leave her for more than 2-3 hours at a time today and she goes several hours at a time without peeing at home.  What gives?  Anyone have insight into dog behavior as to why this might happen?  Because apparently my brother found a pee spot last time after we left, too. :-(  She's usually such a good dog, but I guess she's really accustomed to her routines maybe.

This afternoon, I met my family for lunch and they gave me a few gifts for my birthday, which was nice.  I need to decide whether I will get a pedicure or a massage tomorrow - which would you choose?  Very much looking forward to it!  And I was also given a pair of workout/running shoes and nice dress that goes well with boots.  Then I spent some time with my Mom driving around running errands and chatting.  She was a little altered by the pain medicine, but I was really happy to have the opportunity to hang out with her.

My sister, brother, sis-in-law, nieces and nephew and I finished the day going to a Duck basketball game, which they won in overtime to Santa Barbara (non-conference game).  Rode home in the back seat between my nephew, E, an oldest niece, J, laughing and singing Christmas carols.  A very full and fun-filled day!

12/15/2014

Christmas is coming...

My birthday is tomorrow.  It is also the last day of my class.  I am giving a Final (no fun) but also buying cookies as a treat for my students and kind of to celebrate my birthday.  Tomorrow night, I plan to attend my InterPlay theatre group and maybe go for a drink with a couple friends afterwards.  Then, Wednesday, I am going out with a small group of friends to a birthday dinner at a cool looking Italian restaurant in my new town of Alameda.  After dinner, the plan is for a hot beverage, Christmas lights, and maybe even a little caroling.  In this moment, it feels like too much to do activities on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but I am going to go with the flow - it's my intention to do that more - and trust it will all work out.

Wednesday and Thursday are days to wrap presents, make hot fudge, and grade Finals.  Then, the plan is to drive up to Oregon Friday if the weather cooperates.  I am also fine with waiting until Saturday but hope I don't have to wait any longer than that.  I gave Zoey an early birthday gift of a dog bed, which she LOVES.  She had been using a smaller pink dog bed I got her when she was a puppy but it had become too old and worn out.  Plus this one is more comfy.  She looks so cute in it, doesn't she?



One of my Christmas gifts this year is a recording of an interview I did with my Grandma and Grandpa, about 10 years ago.  If you remember, my Grandpa passed away last year and my Grandma passed away a couple years before that.  As I mentioned, they were like second parents to me, and my Grandma and I were especially close.  The interview reminded of me of that, of how comfortable we were together and how we just "got" and accepted each other.  A wonderful feeling that I miss dearly.

I appreciate having the interview to remember but had been afraid to listen to it for fear the tape would break.  I finally had it made into CDs and am giving copies to my aunt and uncle and cousins.  I think they will like hearing it, even though it a bit slanted towards me and my Mom (birth mom), since I was the one doing the interviewing.  My Grandma cries once during the interview talking about my Mom - it's amazing how the grief over losing my Mom seemed to stay with her and my Grandpa for their whole lives.  Of course, that was one thing that we shared (the loss of my mom) and likely added to our closeness. 

Though my Mom (step mom) and I don't really talk - I've reached out but she doesn't seem to want to connect right now - I have been thinking of her often and sending prayers.  I have also done a couple of things "in her honor," like the care package I sent a while back, recently hanging the art tiles they gave me last Christmas in my new bedroom, and getting the special Campbell's Soup napkins (my Grandpa worked for Campbell's Soup) hemmed that she was going to finish but couldn't because of nerve damage in her fingers due to her treatments.  I also bought all the supplies to make her a special Christmas card, and I hope I can find the time and energy to complete it.  I guess I can work on it in Oregon if need be, but I know from experience how difficult it can be to get stuff done there.  If I leave on Saturday, maybe I can get it done Friday.  Anyway, I'm trying to do more practical actions "for her," if that makes sense, because I want to at least be doing something

I am really worried that they will be telling us bad news when I go home.  My brother asked my dad about the scan my mom was going to get to see if the immunotherapy treatment was working, and he said it had been rescheduled or something.  Then my mom and dad left for a trip to Arizona, which seems kind of odd timing.  So, I'm scared but want to be as present and loving as I can be through whatever happens.  Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing everyone and spending time with my nieces and nephew.

Well, I better go put the finishing touches on my Final.  Sending good wishes to you all.

12/07/2014

Exhaustion

I am in a no good, very bad mood today.  I think in part because of hormones and in part because I taught an all-day class yesterday, the last couple hours of which were pure hell.  One of me, 25 of them, all trying to create and enter educational plans into a system that was locked up and refusing to cooperate.  After consulting with my supervisor, I finally just had them turn in their plans on paper and spent much of this morning entering them into the system myself. 

Then, my "housemate" (technically my housemate but more like landlord, as he never stays here) J, stopped by completely unannounced.  I realized he tried to send a text 10 minutes before that didn't go through.  But, regardless, it's like he doesn't register my feelings; like they don't matter.  He bursts in the front door with his partner, yelling "HELLOOOO" in a really boisterous way, with lots of energy that he doesn't reign in, even when he sees that I am sitting at the table working (unshowered, in grungy sweats) and am clearly caught off guard.  Then he keeps bustling around the house being bossy and directive and not listening to me.  Grrrrr! 

I feel sooo tired and depressed.  Definitely not in the mood for this housewarming party we are having this evening.  Maybe I should go work out; that might help.  I have had an injured/out of place shoulder/upper back injury since before Thanksgiving, so haven't been working out.  It has slowly been improving, and I think I could go today.  Either that or take Zoey on a long walk.  Something to try and rise out of this run down funk.

11/22/2014

A New/Old Idea

Happy Friday!  The corner has definitely been turned heading into the holiday season...

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving - both the gathering I now have planned with a few friends to eat, play board games, and watch a movie - and having extra time off.  I think I'm going to get a Christmas tree this year, so I'll probably put it up that weekend after Thanksgiving to allow three weeks of enjoyment before I head off to Oregon.  And eggnog coffee is already bringing holiday joy to my mornings. :)

Regarding my last post and "the void" that was left by not focusing on fertility and ttc (and not being in a relationship - and that I'm now noticing more since I'm settled after finding a place and moving): I talked to my new Ecology of Leadership (EOL) phone buddy, and she suggested putting it out to the larger EOL group.  I did this and heard back from two or three people who said they were available for phone calls and would like to get together.  I have a lunch date for next week.  This is all good but has helped me realize that the "void" is definitely more about day-to-day connection, not as much having events planned on the calendar.  Phone calls may help if I can get in the habit of reaching out.  Pursuing a creative project may also bring meaning and focus.  But I think the core of it really gets back to my longing for family.  Along these lines, C asked me about another possibility I haven't focused on in a while...

Guess I need to backtrack first and say that BBBS rejected me.  I was surprised but noticed that I felt some relief.  The woman said policy prevents her from telling me the exact reason, but that I have a lot to offer a child and she hopes I find another avenue to connect with one.  So, it didn't seem to have anything to do with my character but might have had to do with what I shared in the interview about trying to have a child for quite a while and that I wanted ideally to have a positive connection with a child who was able to "attach" (I have worked with youth who have attachment disorders).  She may have felt I had too high of expectations for the experience, and they really emphasize having little to no expectations.  In any case, I have come to think it is for the best, and the relief I felt was about the recognition that I don't think a big sister relationship would likely fulfill much of my desire to be mother.  I was "settling" for that choice, which isn't a good place to be coming from.

Back to the other possibility C asked about... She brought up foster parenting and adoption.  I actually completed a foster parent adoption training when I lived in San Luis Obispo, but then my organization closed doors and I didn't feel I could move forward while unemployed.  I'm still not earning what I feel I should be ideally, but I'm stable and employed.  When she asked about it, I felt excitement and energy to investigate what would be required in this county, so I plan to do that in the coming weeks.  Even if I don't move forward right now, it will be good to have the information.  One obstacle could be that I live in a two-bedroom house.  J is never home but the other room is still "his" room.  Maybe that would limit me to fostering younger children, which is what I would like anyway.  Much to learn.  What do you think of this plan at this point?  Am I being overly optimistic that I might qualify?

It's raining here today, so I am going to have a cozy day working on another full-time counseling application, grading papers, and refining my agenda for Tuesday's class - only one class to plan for this week - yay!  And I have a couple Netflix movies to watch later.  Hope you are keeping warm and cozy, too.

11/05/2014

Filling the Void

Happy Hump Day!  "Hump" makes me think of "The Hump Bar" now, which is an establishment on the show "Army Wives"... yes, I have been spending far too much time watching this show.

I had what I thought was a semi-deep thought about TV watching while talking to a couple friends after my InterPlay theatre group last night.  One friend had just returned from two weeks hiking with her family in Nepal (she was not near the avalanche, thank goodness) and was describing how, during the entire trip, she was surrounded by family and other community, including porters who constantly watched her and anticipated her every need.  After returning to her regular life, she felt unhappy with it and depressed that she was returning to watching a lot of TV for relaxation and down time.  She missed the attention and ongoing connection with others.

I responded with sympathy (as I have shared here, I have TV-watching patterns that I question) and also the thought that a "void" wants to be filled.  When something is missing or goes away, other things will flow in to fill the space.  It makes sense.  So, continuing that thought now, it's not necessarily about trying to stop TV watching but about considering other choices that fill the needs for relaxation and connection.  And when you live alone, the connection options are fairly limited, especially when you are an introvert and worn out from the day.  Even introverts, though, need to be seen and heard - need attention and loving on a regular basis.

My work gives me contact with people, but I am in the "giving" mode when it comes to attention and care.  I provide the counseling for the students, and I enjoy doing it.  AND I need, if not counseling, then opportunities to express myself and receive care.  In my last living situation, my housemate, K, and I had meals together on a regular basis; maybe not every day, but at least every two or three days and sometimes more.  Now, somehow, while seeking a "community" living situation, I have created a very similar similar living situation to my prior one, with even LESS connection!

How did this happen?  I think, in part, because it's hard to find the "right" living situation with others, but also because I do need down time by myself to recharge.  I don't think living in a full or "bustling" household would work for me.  I just want one or maybe two other people to connect with at least once a day for meaningful conversation.

In the past, when I was in a 12-Step program, this need for meaningful connection was met through meetings.  When I am in relationship, this need is met through my partner... at least when the relationship is functioning in a healthy way.  When I attend my dance and theatre groups, this need is sometimes met, but often not fully, as group conversation tends to stay on the surface (these groups definitely meet my need for movement and creative expression, however!)  Going out to eat afterwards brings more opportunities, but that generally only happens once a week at the most.  Talking to my brother feels good in terms of connection, but he is busy with his own family and we only talk every two or three weeks.  I have a couple of friends with whom I can talk on that level, but again, we get together every couple/few weeks.

Sooo, in the interim, day-to-day, there is a void, and I fill it with TV.  So shoot me. :) I'm going to cut myself more slack around that, as well as try and create those reflective spaces around it, in which I can consider other choices - journaling/blogging or talking things through out loud into my video phone (to feel more "heard"); maybe a collage or art project (Christmas is coming up), or maybe, when I can afford it, going to see an NVC counselor that could provide empathy.  Maybe I could look at joining another NVC practice group.

Thanks for listening to my reflection and brainstorming around this topic.  It was helpful!  As I wait to be matched with a "little sister," I think it is good timing to recognize I could use more support myself.  I think when I get more support, then I can provide better support for others...

AND, I will try and have compassion for myself around my (sometimes excessive) TV watching.

10/25/2014

Settling In, Family, and the Ducks

Sorry for the long absence; it's been quite a transition period!  I am fully moved in and functioning at the new place.  I like it a  lot, and the neighborhood is indeed turning out to have much more in the way of shops, stores, restaurants and coffee shops, etc.  Zoey and I haven't found our ideal walking route yet, but we're working on it.  The commute to work is better than imagined - maybe a few minutes longer but feels similar and very doable.

It was a LOT to try and move and then travel to Oregon the following weekend.  Yowza!  I would not make that choice again.  But it was the only weekend that worked if I wanted to get a trip in before my Christmas visit.  Drove eight hours Thursday eve and arrived at 2am, then eight hours back Sunday late afternoon, getting in around midnight.  Non-stop busy in-between, seeing my aunt, uncle, cousin and family, going to the Duck game on Saturday, and spending time with my mom.  My brother warned me that she was not doing too well and became tired very easily, which was true.  I was able to pick up some lunch and grocery items she needed, which felt good.  I did not necessarily plan this to be an update about her - I will write more later - but will mention she has one more line of treatment, which is to receive immunotherapy drugs that are still being tested.  Apparently, they have shown promise with skin cancer, which has similar properties to my mom's type of cancer.  In conjunction, she may receive some sort of enzyme treatment.  I don't fully understand it and don't think she does yet either, but she had her first treatment last week so praying for the best.

The family is actually here this weekend for the Duck game with Cal (I did not know they had this planned when I planned my trip up there but it's nice to hang out two weekends in a row, especially right now), which happened last night.  The seats were apparently pretty expensive and included the ability to go to club level.  That was probably the most fun part - hanging out prior to the game at a table in the very nice club area and talking.  Many times, I don't feel engaged with the all-family conversation topics, but we had some interesting exchanges about memories, politics, and current events (talked about medical marijuana for example, and that maybe my mom should try it), as well as one-on-one conversations.  It felt more connected than usual.  The game was fun to watch, too, and the Ducks took over after the first half, wining by a large margin.  The one part I did not enjoy was when my sister dragged me and our sister-in-law up to this douche-bag's "box" in the upper level.  I think she thought it would be fancy and have lots of great food/drink but it did not.  The view was great but the company left much to be desired, as the guy was a big schmooze-y cheeseball.  Oh well, I guess we went up there for my sister, as she had a good buzz going and wanted to socialize.  After the game, I had an interesting, but nice, ride with my mom in a pedicab to a nearby hotel where our car was waiting.  Everyone else walked but it was too far for my mom, and I offered to ride with her.  You kind of feel like a big anchor on the poor guy's bike, but I guess he does it a lot and is in good shape.  Tonight, we are meeting for dinner at a steakhouse in San Jose, where they are staying.

Another piece of news to report is that I found out last night that I did not get the full-time counseling job I interviewed for in Santa Rosa.  I don't think I even mentioned the interview - yeah, that happened during the week after I moved, before my trip to Oregon!  I felt good I was one of 10 chosen to interview out of 65 applicants and was able to pull it off at the level I did.  It could have been a little stronger in parts, but overall, I did a good job with the teaching presentation and interview questions.  In retrospect, however, though I felt my rapport with the interviewers was strong, they seemed to have already made a decision.  Maybe it was one of their current adjunct counselors or someone they knew personally, or maybe someone who interviewed before me just knocked it out of the park.  In any case, I am disappointed but slightly relieved, as it would have meant finding a place up there and moving again in the next couple months.  I heard there may be a position coming up soon in Alameda where I live.

There is more to say about the house and my new housemate.  For example, he has yet to stay overnight here since I have been here, but has been coming by quite a bit and he and his boyfriend stayed here the weekend I was in Oregon.  I have had a couple meals with them and enjoy hanging out with the two of them together as much or more as hanging out with him by himself.  His partner kind of mellows him out, it seems.  The odd thing to me is that my housemate (J) has gone through chaplaincy training and worked as a chaplain, which would seem to involve intense emotions, yet he seems to have intense emotions that can overwhelm him.  Maybe that's not strange - he is human after all - it just catches me off-guard when it happens.  Like when the three of us were at dinner the other night, and his partner said something about how it was nice to go through this ritual at an event after his first partner and mother had died.  After a minute, I commented that I felt a little sad thinking about that because my family doesn't really seek out those kind of meaningful rituals or even talk much at that level.  J then became flustered and tense and said, "We can change the subject now!"  Which we did, but it was quite abrupt.  I'm guessing he still feels a lot of grief about his long-time partner passing away - I think it was a year and a half ago or so.  I'll post more about J and settling in later, as well.

I am going to sign off now to take Zoey on a walk, then head out to buy my niece a birthday present.  I have been keeping up with your blogs for the most part, though just got internet going here at the new place a couple days ago.  I will be able to post and comment more often now.  Exciting birth news from Jenny!  and lots happening with Nell and Abby and others.  Sending good thoughts.

10/05/2014

Drama! or "Combining Households is No Joke"

Hello All and Happy Sunday!

I am procrastinating working on my lesson plan for Tuesday (though some thought and research has been put into it already), which is an important one as I'm being "observed" (Judged. Ach!).  The woman who is coming to observe me is kind, though, and I think more easy going than the one last year.  Last year's class observation was actually not a problem or "triggering" for me for whatever reason, though - it was the one-on-one appointment.  You can't plan those out; you just roll with whatever the student brings you.  I will have a different observer for that portion than for the class, and she is also kind and more easy going than last year's.  She has been at the college for a long time, however, and is detail-oriented.  Think "kind school marm" type.  I am focusing on doing the best I can and detaching from the outcome.  Please send me good luck!

On to this week's exciting and dramatic installment of the moving process!  It continues, albeit slowly and with many stops and starts.  More kitchen packing has happened this week with the much appreciated help of a friend, but my stuff is all still here at the old place.  I will begin living in the new place Sunday night, after my furniture makes the transition in the u-haul that day.  Zoey has visited the new place twice now.  The second time was last Friday, and she met the two dogs, which I will talk about in more detail in a little bit.  It was intense, and I made it more intense by my subconscious resistance to moving...

Yes, my fears have continued to come up at times, imagining potential negative impacts on Zoey with the environment change and meeting new dogs, and whether my stuff will even fit in the new place.  We have been quite sheltered here in a way, which has been both positive and negative.  I may have mentioned that living here three and half years is the longest I have lived anywhere as an adult, which shows how transitory my life has been, but my main point is that I really settled in to this place.  Even though the new neighborhood will have people I know - more than I realized - and will be walkable with many great places to eat and hang out (much more than the old neighborhood), it is still hard to let go of the old comforts.

One great thing about my old place has been the backyard - the raised beds with lots of garden goodies, the fruit trees and berries, and the expansive feeling to it.  The new place has a backyard that is nice enough.  It's enclosed for the dogs, smaller but not tiny, and has a lovely tree and bench to sit.  But it's not as open and "lush" feeling.  Not as great for Zoey to run around in.  I have sat a lot at the kitchen table here, looking out into the yard, so it's been a big part of my day-to-day environment.  I have enjoyed meditating in the yard and sitting in the sun, reading.  But part of why I have spent so much time there, as well as on my couch in the living room, is that the neighborhood is not a great place to walk and hang out.  So I think what I'm losing in backyard may be made up in neighborhood beauty and expansiveness, if that makes sense.  If I have talked about this already, I'm sorry.  It really helps to talk about all this - apparently more than once! lol

In any case, because of my fears, I have had my brakes on to some extent in relation to the move, without meaning to do so.  Normally, I would have checked in with my new housemate, J, to confirm when we were meeting Friday, but I kind of "forgot" about it and thus avoided the feelings.  I worked out Friday and was running errands when J texted asking where I was.  I let him know I was out running errands and would call soon.  When I got home, I grabbed Zoey and called to say I was headed over there.  As a side note, we had never agreed on a time, but J had "assumed" a time based on me saying I wanted to avoid traffic, and he hadn't checked in with me to confirm either...

In any case, J was quite frustrated, which I didn't find out until later when he had a minor meltdown.  It was so strange - I was feeling guilty for being super anxious about the dogs and making things worse, so I laid a hand on his arm trying to ease tension and said something about how we are just getting to know each other, too.  Well, I guess that opened a door for him to communicate, and "communicate" he did.  His emotions and frustrations kind of caught me off guard.  I may have mentioned his partner and he lived in this house for 10 years or so before the partner passed away last year, so there's that in addition to J having never been a landlord before and feeling unsure about how to handle some of the details.  Also, he apparently needs to have a renter in asap for financial reasons, which I am just finding out.  I can see my reticence and anxiety were adding to his insecurity.

So, bottom line, he has his own "stuff" going on, which I added to and triggered on Friday.  I imagined for a minute the whole situation might just blow up and was thinking, "Oh my God, where will I go?  I'll have to call my friend Elizabeth." But luckily, we hung in there and were able to talk through it.  Then we spent some time moving furniture around and putting up curtains in my new room, as well as discussing how to combine our household items, which helped us to connect and make things more real.  Whew!  And that was just the "people" dynamics...

The dogs were a whole nother layer!  We took Zoey on short walks with each of the other dogs.  The smaller one, a 6-year-old chihuahua mix named Moses, was first and it went okay except for a couple barking/lunging episodes from Moses.  Zoey does not tend to be submissive with other dogs, nor does Moses, who seems to have a bit of "small dog syndrome."  Meeting the second dog, a larger terrier mix named Rudy, was super smooth - both dogs sniffed butts and walked along fine together, no reactions.  Granted, Rudy is 13 years old and very mellow.  Then, J wanted to throw all the dogs in the backyard off-leash, but I put the kabosh on that, due to Moses' reactivity earlier.  We tried introducing the two of them again on leash at the side of the house but Moses barked/snarled/lunged.  Argh!  J thought it was because I had treats, and he hadn't had dinner yet.

So, Moses got fed, the two other dogs were put in backyard (Z was in house) - that's when the big convo between J and I took place - then Rudy somehow slipped in the dog door while we were putting up curtains (he's never done that before)!  Z and Rudy were again super fine and mellow together.  Then we decided J would get on the floor with those two, with a plan that I would let in the little one and if there were any reactions between him and Z, he would grab one and stand up.  I let Moses in the back door and quickly walked to the other end of the house, practicing my detachment.  I listened for reactions... nothing... J yelled over that everything was fine!  Thank God.  Little Moses got up on his bed in the chair, and the other two dogs just walked around the house with us.  At the end, Moses got down and was walking around too, so I think we got through the hardest part, knock on wood.  I hope to move boxes over Wednesday and/or Friday, before moving the furniture Sunday.

Yikes, here we go!

9/20/2014

Weekend Update


My friend was supposed to come help me pack up my room today, but she got food poisoning and had to cancel. :( So, I suppose I should jump into the task myself, but that's why I welcomed her help - because it's easier to accomplish with moral support (and a kick in the butt).  The move date of October 3rd is fast approaching!

I did spend several hours today making my famous "Eggplant Enchiladas" from the Moosewood Cookbook, as well as cooking up a few potatoes I had in the fridge into a yummy onion/garlic/cheese/mushroom potato skillet dish.  Taking a break and then going to work out.  I have been going three times a week pretty consistently. 

Yesterday, I finally bought a decent yoga-type workout shirt and pants, so I don't feel so ratty.  I also bought a short-sleeve t-shirt dress with lightweight leather-type material (pleather?) on the sleeves, which I think will look cute with my boots.  I so rarely buy clothes these days, it felt good to get something new.

On Thursday, I took Zoey over to the new house to meet J (my new housemate) and start getting a feel for the place.  The two dogs - one belonging to J and one to his boyfriend - stayed in the backyard.  We are trying to do things incrementally, so the next step will be to meet one or both of the dogs on neutral territory like a park and/or on a walk.  Honestly, I am pretty anxious about it.  Even though I've had Zoey for a couple years now, I am no expert on dog behavior, and she hasn't spent much time socializing with other dogs.  She loves people, but the experiences she's had meeting dogs on walks have been mixed.  Sometimes great and other times, she gets jumpy and they bark.  The worst instance was with another Boston who started growling and then they tangled up leashes and went 'round and 'round in circles growling/snarling.  I thought they were going to kill each other but no biting actually happened.  Oh and then I tried to arrange a playdate with another male Boston and Zoey growled and snarled at him when he got up in her space.  I've since learned I shouldn't have introduced them on her "turf," and also this dog was a scrappy-looking rescue dog who lived with two pit-bulls, so I don't think his behavior was great. 

Anyway, I feel so responsible for her and don't want her hurt in anyway.  But I don't think my anxiety helps the situation sometimes!  At least we are trying to be conscious and follow the "expert's" advice on how to introduce dogs for the first time.  Fingers crossed!  I think if she is able to acclimate with the other dogs, it could be really fun for her to have playmates.

On the people front, J and I went to a play together a week or so ago, as well as talking more during the Thursday visit... Remember what I said about him being an actor and extrovert and sometimes dominating the conversation?  Well, it has unfortunately been the case.  He is a really sweet guy and has had a hard time with his partner passing away last year.  But I am not really interested in being a "groupie" or playing his audience all the time, you know?  He seems to love to "hold court" and expound on any number of subjects, seeking attention and sympathy whenever possible. 

When I was there Thursday, he asked about a date I had the week prior, and I had just begun to share about it when he jumped in and started talking about how he and his partner met in their church community and why it was such a great way to meet, etc.  I tried to pick up the thread I had started to talk about when he interrupted again with a raised voice and further explained his point of view.  Argh!  I'm trying to cut him slack because I imagine any talk about dating and relationships might bring up intense feelings for him around the loss of his partner, but I do like to be heard and seen in a conversation, as well.  Not sure if he will be around enough - as mentioned, he will be spending a lot of time at his new partner's house - but I may need to make a request of some sort if it continues?  We will see, but it was the first time I felt a twinge of nervous "Buyer's Remorse" about my new living situation...

Off to work out!  Hope you are all enjoying your Saturdays!

9/03/2014

Philosophical Ruminations

Do you all think it's true that the more vulnerable you are, the more "belonging" you will feel in groups or within a couple?  This is something that seems to be coming up for me in different contexts: I read about it, talked to others about it, and it came up last night in my InterPl@y group, as well.  The idea being that as we show both our weaknesses and strengths, we can experience acceptance and truly being known.  And, in a chicken and egg equation, the more self-acceptance we feel, the more authentic and vulnerable we are able to be.  I think there might be truth to this... I know I experienced the opposite - a feeling of self-consciousness, separateness, and lack of acceptance - in my leadership group when I was "triggered" or feeling small and not good about myself.  I would like to increase my self-acceptance, ability to be vulnerable, and my sense of belonging in my friendships and groups.  Can I make a mid-year resolution?

Another, even bigger, question: What gives our lives meaning, and what specifically will give my life meaning, if not ttc and motherhood?  I have been thinking lately about how focused I was for so long (many years) on trying to get pregnant, and, as frustrating as the process could be, how it gave my life direction and meaning.  Researching fertility, donors (or male fertility for S), procedures.  Tracking my bbt and other fertility signs, then hyper-analyzing possible indications of pregnancy.  Talking to others, supporting and being supported by others through the journey.  It all added up to a LOT of time, energy, and, yes, meaning.  The chance of success was so exciting and trying for the goal of a child definitely fueled a fire within me.  What fuels my fire now?  At the moment, nothing that comes close to that level of engagement.

Do I need to take some dramatic action to change my life?  Right now, I feel somewhat stuck in a rut, and have felt that way for a while, even during the last part of when I was with S.  The activism I did with S did feel meaningful and exciting, which I haven't been involved with since.  Do you ever feel like you just go to work, plan for work, eat, sleep, watch TV?  Okay, I also participate in dance and theater groups once a week and am now working out a couple times....going out with friends here and there.  But our day-to-day activities are the meat of our lives.  My career counseling work is enjoyable and has some meaning, but it's not enough; I need more juice.

And this upcoming move feels like a parallel one.  My new living situation - the houseshare with my theater teacher in Al@meda, which will be confirmed when I meet his partner but is 90% likely, will be similar to this one in many ways: living with a guy who's in a relationship and gone much of the time; small two-bedroom, one bath house with a backyard; nice couch and TV setup in the living room just beckoning for my butt to sit down and watch.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful!  The rent is right, I am friends with my new housemate, Zoey has her backyard, the house is pretty nice.  But part of me hoped this move would be more of a shake-up; that I would end up in a significantly different, more close-knit friendship/community-type situation.  The one BIG difference is the neighborhood.  It's MUCH nicer and more walkable.  LOTS of fun restaurants, coffee shops, stores, hangout places, and the beach is close-by.  So maybe I will get out more and feel less insular.

But I feel like I need MORE of a shake-up or to find something that gives my life more purpose and meaning.  A relationship would be a good start, but I can't force that.  I am not in a stable enough place at the moment to think seriously of pursuing having a child (in ways that don't involve my own eggs).  Anyone else felt like this?

8/23/2014

Finally: Good News!

So, I have not found my new place yet, BUT:

I have found two possible places in Al@meda, which is not further North, as I'd hoped, but is an awesome community in which I do already know a couple people.  And it's not much more of a drive than what I have now, which is about 20-25 minutes (without traffic).  It's interesting to me that they are both in Al@meda... I've been looking there periodically but was finding most places in Berke1ey.

I am in the process of setting a time - hopefully this weekend - to see the first option: a large, furnished room in an historic house with a huge backyard and hardwood floors.  I would be living with an accomplished 60-year-old puppeteer (she has Disney credits) and holistic health teacher.  She had great energy on the phone and called me "honey," which was endearing.

The second place, which I am going to see Monday evening after work, would be living with my InterPl@y teacher, J, in a place that also has a great doggie-friendly yard.  Actually, he would not be there consistently because he often stays at his boyfriend's.  On the one hand, this is great, but on the other hand, it mirrors my current situation in many ways, and I would like to have more connection time spent with my housemate(s).  I think he and his boyfriend would likely move in together within a few months to a year, however, at which point I could find another housemate.  J is a great guy - fun and kind and communicative - yet, he is an extravert and an actor who brings a lot of energy to the table.  As I have shared, I am an introvert, and so I appreciate low-key, quiet time, as well as space to share back and forth in a mutual way.  Who knows, though?  I've only known him in one context, plus he would be gone a lot.

Both places are in my extended higher range of rent at about $1000.  But remember how I said maybe I could earn more money through my c@reer counseling?  Well, in a bolt of synchronicity, I received free website assistance from an awesome community organization that gives technical work experience/internships to young people and, as part of that process, was prompted to create a business page on FB.  A couple of you already saw this because you "friended" my new page - thank you!  It's under "N@vigating Tr@nsitions C@reer Counse1ing" spelled normally, if you want to check it out.  So, maybe my business is about to increase!  May it be so!  Anyway, I am sure I will know a lot more about the two housing options once I see them, and I will keep you posted!

In yet more good news, my housemate and I had a difficult but good conversation, and we negotiated my move-out date to the end of September!  Yay!  This takes a lot of the pressure off and, fingers crossed, I won't need to stay with my friend.  My housemate's packing and transition to living in his new wife's (now "their") house in S@cramento is taking longer than he thought it might.  And he still has a lot of work to do on this house, some of which they will be doing over Labor Day weekend.  So, once I reassured him that I had options and could stay with a friend if need be, he felt more comfortable agreeing to a longer transition time.  What an awesome guy, right!  Though I may end up moving sooner if the first house works out, because she really wants someone in there at the beginning of September.

This post is becoming super long, but I did want to give the final piece of good news that my class started off very well!  And guess what?  All my students are over 18-years-old!  And my class size is 18 versus 28!  Hallelujah!  I imagine I'll need to teach the youngsters again in the future, but this semester, to my surprise, I was not given the section with mostly high school freshmen.  I. am. so. grateful.

Off to see the movie, "B@yhood" with Ew@n Mcgregor and P@tricia Arquette.  Such an interesting concept - have you seen it?  Hope your weekends are happy ones!

8/16/2014

Transition Time

Sorry for the downer posts lately... it's a "transition time" for me, as they say.  Moving for me right now seems to be a big deal.  On multiple levels, it means my life is shifting and changing, and much of the landscape where I will end up is unknown.

As an introvert, my home is my refuge.  I need to have a safe and private place to recharge and relax.  I don't know if I can find that with the friend with whom I was recently looking for housing.  She is a kind and good person, but also an extravert and seems to "spin out" with anxiety and frenetic talking regularly.  I am somewhat of an anxious person myself, and I think this might interfere with me finding the calm relaxation I need at home.

As an aside: the two places I mentioned before were a big disappointment.  The "urban treehouse" was rundown and dark and the backyard would be a hazard for the dog, in addition to me and the owner and potential housemate not clicking well.  With regard to the other one in Alb@ny, the woman was a semi-hoarder and the place had piles everywhere, was not clean, and had a large, albeit nice, dog lying all over the furniture. :(

I'm going to two open-houses tomorrow; one would involve living with three other people, and the other, seven people.  Even three other people feels like a stretch.  Ideally, I would like to live with one or maybe two other people.  But I don't have all the time in the world to find a place.  "All the time in the world" meaning more than two weeks!  And my girl, Zoey, adds to the challenge of finding a place, as apartment living without a yard would be a much lower quality of life for her.

There is the option of living with my friend for a month, which I may do but would mean more chaos and stress in terms of transitioning.  Better to do that though, I think, than move into a place that doesn't feel good enough to live in long term.  I do NOT want to end up needing to move again in a few months - been there, done that, when I talked myself into a situation that didn't feel right in the past.

So, I'm trying to hang in there and continue to take it one step at a time, having faith that something will fall into place.  I also notice that my maximum rent level seems to be inching up two or three hundred dollars, as most places I'm seeing that sound great are in a higher range.  I may regret not standing firm in my upper limit, but then again, it may push me to earn more money - maybe get my career counseling business going.

The other major change is in terms of social structure.  As I said, I have met a lot of my needs for connection and meaningful conversation through time over meals with my housemate.  That's all of a sudden gone now, and I guess I'm hoping that my next living situation will include someone with whom I feel comfortable and can have these kinds of conversations.

Meanwhile, I'm binge-watching "Or@nge is the New Bl@ck," which is sooo good.  And so distracting.  Right now, I MUST begin working on my syllabus for the class that starts next week.  So. hard. to. motivate.

Part of my stuck-ness is emotion around my mom's illness, as well.  My brother delivered bad news a few days ago that the cancer is now confirmed in her lungs, much lowering hope of recovery.  This punctured the bubble of hope I was maintaining.  I have cried once, but a kind of heavy sadness seems to be hanging over me.  I don't know what I should do, if anything.  They live too far away to help in practical ways.  I need to call but am kind of dreading that, as it will make it more real.  The whole situation bring up a lot of existential questioning for me, which doesn't seem very productive.

Thanks for listening.  Hopefully, my next post will bring better news and a new outlook.

8/02/2014

I am c-r-a-b-b-y


I am crabby and irritable right now.  My fuse is shorter than usual.  I always have a little grump in my nature that can come out when I am over-extended or experiencing anxiety.  But then, at certain times, I'm more reactive and feel more intense anger when things don't go my way or I feel stuck or unfairly treated.  I am aware that my cycle is due to start soon, so I'm sure that's part of it.

This morning, I had zero tolerance for an idiot I was messaging with on a dating site.  He wasn't listening to my responses - was being self-absorbed - and then went off on me when I had to get off chat abruptly to answer a phone call.  Just before I got off the chat, I had expressed confusion and mirrored back what I was hearing - that I guessed he wasn't open to adoption or I-V-F.

I should explain how the conversation went down:  After asking me about my hopes for becoming a mother and hearing my answer that it was unlikely I would conceive naturally (without intervention) but might become a parent through the previously-mentioned avenues, he said he regretted not becoming a parent.  I asked him why couldn't he now?  And he said well, he did think he'd have enough energy (he was around 50), but he would need to date women the age of a daughter.  So I, logically I think, questioned him about not being open to what I had mentioned.  Then I got a call about a possible housing opportunity and told him I needed to leave chat and take it.

When I got back on the site, he had written me a vitriolic email about how rude and high maintenance I was and how could I be a counselor and of course he was open to these things.  What?  Right after I had suggested them he acted as though the opportunity had passed him by and that he would need to date someone much younger to become a parent.

What's funny is he said in his profile he wanted someone who was "baggage free."  I am no longer going to correspond with guys that say that because inevitably it ends up that they have the most difficult baggage of all.  As I should know by now, the hardest issues to deal with are those that are unconscious.  When people say they have no baggage, you can bet they have as much "baggage" or wounds/issues as any of us, but they haven't figured out what they are and therefore don't moderate them or take responsibility for the outburst that happens when one of these issues gets triggered.

He was very uncool, but I recognize I was irritable from the start.  I am definitely hormonal but also could use some TLC like sitting quietly in nature and doing some drawing or art.  I'm stressed about moving and STILL not having found a place (following some new leads), and I'm lonely too.  Zoey helps but some human companionship would be nice.  My housemate is on his honeymoon for another couple weeks.  It's crazy that shortly after he gets back, everything is going to change.  We will never live together again, and we will never have the conversations over meals on a regular basis like we did for so long.  It's like three years of this and then "poof!" it's over.  Very strange.

To end on a positive note, I have been working out at the Y doing cardio and Zumba classes the past couple of weeks.  I'm so happy to have found the motivation for this!  It feels sooo good and my body feels different already.  I think it will give me greater confidence with dating, even though I do know that there are men out there that would love me just as I am.  Maybe, as mentioned in this post, I will even get to change my description from "average" to "athletic" some time in the future.  :-)

7/20/2014

Moving moving moving...

The countdown has started and I'm behind the ball!

First some wedding news (related because I need to be packed and moving when they come back from the 3-week honeymoon!):  Theatre friends and I went to my housemate, K's, wedding last night, and it was meaningful and poignant.  I think it was especially poignant to me because I have known K for several years, and his long-held dreams are finally coming true.

As I might have mentioned, his first marriage broke up because he became crystal clear he wanted children and she became crystal clear she did not.  It ended shortly before I first met him online and went on a couple of dates.  Obviously it didn't lead anywhere, but we became friends and I became his housemate when I moved to this area over three years ago.  And during these last three years, he has been a dating fiend, uber-focused on finding a wife and the mother of his children.

He's now 50-years-old and has found a wonderful partner in T, who I really like.  They have an ease and stability in their relationship that is confidence-inspiring for their future.  And she's 35 and really wants to have kids!  Watching the ceremony last night, he was clearly so happy and ready to make the leap into this commitment.  Watching him tear up at times during the ceremony and hearing the emotion in his voice as he said his vows and exchanged rings was just very moving.

It was nice being there with other close friends from our Tuesday group.  The food was great and they had an excellent and most entertaining DJ, who got the dancing going, as well.   I finally was able to meet two of his brothers and their kids, including his darling god-daughter, after seeing many Christmas card photos of them over the years.

So all that was wonderful... and now, reality is hitting about the huge changes coming down the pike in my own life.  I have two possible places I'm looking at to move at this point.  The first one is in Albany (a great location) with an older woman who rents two rooms in her house.  The house has a backyard and is located not far from friends of mine, which is great.  She said the other woman works and is out a lot, but that she does not work (but goes out often).  She wants to have a sense of community in the house, but of course that means different things to different people.  She seems very nice, if a bit reserved, on the phone.  I'll likely go see the place on Tuesday.

The second option is in a good location in Berkel@y, in a duplex that sounds really awesome and has an enclosed backyard.  She initially described it as an "urban treehouse," with three floors, one bedroom on each floor.  The living room and kitchen is on the first floor, along with the room that I would live in, at least initially.  The only bathroom is on the second floor.  From what she says, she and the other woman living there have been very low impact on the house, as both of them work full-time and are out doing other things, as well.  They don't watch TV, so maybe this could be what I need to reduce my watching time, keeping it to later in the evening in my room.

So, here comes the kicker - not sure if it's completely positive though it could be - she is pregnant, as an SMC!  I had no idea until a couple days ago, assuming from her ad that she was part of a couple.  She's a friend of a friend and seems really cool, if a little tense.  She is due in October, I think, at which time her current roommate will be moving to the front part of the duplex and her parents will be coming to stay for a few weeks to help with the baby.  Things could get chaotic for a while, especially considering her mom is afraid of dogs.  But it could be really nice to have a baby in my life and live in a house with an SMC.  Eventually, after her parents leave, I could likely have the middle-level room, which is larger and has a nicer view.  I am either going to see the place today or later in the week.

So what to do you guys think of the options, so far?  I should have more to report soon.  Meanwhile, I better start packing!  At least I was finally able to get to U-h@ul and pick up a bunch of boxes and packing materials.  I plan to throw out or give away a bunch of clothes and other stuff in the process.

7/07/2014

Family Fourth of July 2014

I feel like maybe my last post was TMI - sorry about that, if so.  Dating is an adventure for sure!

Fourth of July with family was an adventure, as well.  Lake T@hoe was gorgeous and the weather was perfect.  My mom was doing pretty well, except she got tired more quickly and needed to rest more.  I made a full bacon, pancake, potatoes, and cantaloupe breakfast for the family Saturday morning, which was fun to do.  I think I'll make that a tradition.

A couple other highlights were going out on the boat to watch fireworks with my mom, sister, her husband, and my niece and nephew, J and E.  It was chilly on the boat, so J and I got some good cuddle time.  We sang some songs and the fireworks were great, including J's favorite - butterfly shapes - and smiley faces and hearts accompanied by the song, "Happy." 

Saturday was a great day overall because the whole family ended up down on our dock talking, sipping drinks, and playing in the water.  There's a perfect little person-made swimming area, protected from the waves on the lake by large rocks.  E and I had a squirt gun fight with lots of laughter and my sister and I had our first meaningful conversation while hanging out on the dock.  She can be tough for me to connect with, so that was nice.  Then, several of us took turns trying out the paddle board - I found it harder than it looks to keep afloat! but they got a good pic of me paddling on it that they thought I should put on my dating profile.  I'm not sure about that, but maybe...

Stemming from the paddle board picture, my sister and I had an interesting conversation later in the evening, too, about the definition of "athletic" as a body type on profiles.  I used to put athletic but now put "average." I think if you list athletic, then the guy will think that you are thin and super fit, which I'm not.  My sister thinks I'm athletic because of my genes - my natural build and athleticism.  It's true I'm pretty strong and coordinated and did gymnastics and track for many years, then dancing.  But I'm probably 15 pounds or more overweight now, so I think it would be false advertising.  Thoughts?

Anyway, after our time at the dock, we headed in for more hanging out and talking, then a delicious smoked ribs and veggie/chicken/noodles with peanut sauce dinner (my tummy was a bit upset later, though!) and laughing a lot talking about all the famous people we each had encountered.  Dinner morphed into music and a dance party, which we always have to make happen at some point, as it's become a tradition with the kids.

Overall, I would say it was the best trip in recent times that I have had with family, and definitely the best Fourth of July trip.  That said, my parents are still very shut down emotionally and don't make much of an effort to reach out and connect.  It kind of wears on me, I think more than it does on my sister (well she's a bit like that herself) and my brother who both have spouses and kid(s).  And my sister is clearly the "favorite" child, who my parents want to please.  When her family left Sunday morning, it was a huge fanfare, and when I left later in the day, it's like, "Make sure and shut the garage door on your way out."  lol 

I tried to make allowances with my Mom being sick, and to be caring and make sure she was comfortable whenever possible.  The feelings of sadness and hurt came up strongly at the end, however, against my will (writing this, I am actually wondering if some of the sadness was ABOUT my mom's illness).  It didn't help that I was really tired after our late dinner/dance night the evening before.  I held it together, though, to say goodbye to my parents and that I had a really good time, did a little crying walking out, and then had a good talk out by the garage with my brother, who normalized a lot of what I was feeling.  He said our dad only talks to him about business, or maybe politics when he's been drinking.  And he said, which he's said before, that he doesn't think our parents will ever be capable of meeting my need for connection/love/acceptance; that he's basically given up on that. 

I think I had "given up" more, but then the leadership program I was in sort of encouraged trying to heal things with people - plus my mom getting sick made me feel softer towards her, as I've shared here.  I don't know, I think maybe there's a line to walk in-between, where I still am authentic and available to connect where possible, but I recognize their limitations and faults and try not to take them personally.  It's a tough one.

After a good night's sleep and getting grounded in my own life again, I guess I'm feeling better and more of a sense of gratitude that I had more connection with them than I've had in a while.  No, it wasn't even close to ideal, but it was a small shift, and feeling softer towards my mom is a good thing.  Plus, I had a great time with everyone (I have a cool SIL and BIL, too) talking, boating, playing in the water, and so much fun being with my nieces and nephew.  So I think gratitude wins the day.

7/01/2014

Sayonara and onward...

Well, it was nice to feel some chemistry, but, yeah, I stopped that train in it's tracks.  On the second date, in the midst of participating in a labyrinth walk and attending an improv show in SF, the pattern of tension and lack of connection leading to a confrontation and "talking it out" continued.  He seemed to be just generally disengaged and fairly arrogant until I called him on it, at which time he woke up and responded pretty well, but who wants to go through that on a regular basis.  Pas moi.

Oh, and btw, he was into "Domin@nt/$ubmissive" sexual relationships, including $&M.  Yes, it's true.  I am open-minded but that would be for a little spice within a committed relationship, not the main agenda from the starting gate.  No thank you.

I'm still feeling hopeful though.  When I get back from Lake Tahoe, where Zoey and I are heading this weekend for another annual family getaway, I am going to post the new pictures I had taken on my profiles and rejoin a dating site I haven't been on in a while.  I'll continue to meet people on the current one, but it will be nice to expand the pool of bachelors. :)  Since reactivating my account, I've gotten a few responses, but won't be able to see them until a rejoin next week.

I'm not sure what it will be like on the trip, with my Mom just having begun another round of chemo treatments.  Please continue to send your good thoughts and prayers.  I'm going to look for ways to help her while I'm there.  Also looking forward to playing with my nieces and nephew and going out on the lake.  Hope you all have a fun Fourth of July with friends and/or family.

6/26/2014

Houston, We Have Chemistry

I went on two dates this week; one on Sunday, and one last night.  The first one was with a Greek guy (he grew up in Greece and, even though he's lived in the Bay Area for something like 15 years, he still has an accent).  He's attractive but not necessarily my type, and for that reason plus I was kind of smitten with another online guy - the one I went out with last night - I went into into it half-heartedly.  When I first met him, I thought he was cute (cuter than I thought), but then he had a lot of intense energy and was talking over me at times.

For example, if you know me, you know I love the Myers-Brigg$ personality asses$ment, and this came up in conversation.  He told me he took it a long time ago but that his type had changed... Well, part of the theory of this assessment is that your type doesn't change, but that you can get inaccurate results at some point in time due to extenuating circumstance.  The strength of your preference, and your comfort with the opposite preference, will change over time but your true type should not.  Anyway, I was trying to explain that, and he was arguing with me, until he learned that I was qualified to administer the assessment.

Then, we started talking about age in online profiles, and I was saying it bothered me that some men in their 40's/50's say they will date down to 25 and he was kind of arguing with that and saying some young people are mature - yeah, right, not 20 years older mature - and saying that everyone likes younger people.  I don't!  I like my age.  I know there are biological reasons people go for younger looking partners, but I think that's just one part of the equation.  I think more conscious, mature people want someone who is their equal and who are at a similar developmental stage.  Now some men, like my housemate, don't get around to having kids, for one reason or another, until they are 40's/50's and I can see why they might date down to 35, but not 25!

Anyway, that was annoying, but then that conversation led to him saying that he had thought he wanted children, but lately he was rethinking that and he wasn't so sure.  WTF!  My profile clearly communicates that I'm interested in someone who wants a family.  So that just felt like a push-away when he said that, and I became irritated and snappy.  He noticed and asked about it and I told him what he had said that bothered me and if he felt that way, then we clearly were not a match and, basically, "bye bye!"  I can be very direct sometimes!  I was saying it with some humor, but I was also irritated.  Like why would you waste my time?  But then he backtracked and said he was open to it and would like it; that he was trying to be realistic considering the age factor or something.

From then on, strangely, communication was better and our connection was better.  Kind of like it broke the ice.  I continued being direct by asking whether there was chemistry between us - like, "What do you think?  probably not?" again kind of joking.  And we basically talked about hanging out together as friends, and he said maybe I could come over and watch TV with him.  This seems a little funny now, but we had discussed how we both like really good TV series, like Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Enlightened, etc.

Anyway, at the end of the night, we were walking out kind of joking around a bit and we stopped in front of his car, which was parked right in front of the restaurant, to say goodbye.  I fully expected to exchange a quick hug and be off... so then, out of the blue, he asks if I would like to kiss him.  I felt strangely compelled and curious, and leaned forward and kissed him and then... we were off!  We definitely had chemistry!  It was like this feeling of melting into him, that mushy, yummy, merging feeling.  I did not expect it at all.  We ended up kissing for a while in his car and it was fun!

We have texted here and there this week and are getting together again tomorrow.  I'm not sure what to think.  He's a therapist (and has invested in real estate which he says gives him some freedom) and has a spiritual/Buddhist practice, so that's all good.  And I liked how we could be really direct with each other.  But he can be a bit bossy at times, and also was wanting me to come over to his place that night or the night after and, maybe not have sex, but be intimate, and I felt a little worried at the focus on that and moving too fast.  So I guess we'll see, but that chemistry thing is pretty rare, and I'm glad to be experiencing it!

I will write more soon about the date last night.  It was better in some ways and not as good in others... very different.  I'll also report on Date #2 with my Greek guy...

6/19/2014

Another dating wave...

Dating Report:

I am having another wave of dating at the moment... went out for dinner and wine Monday night with a very nice high school acting teacher.  He looked cute in his profile but the pictures were angled such that I couldn't see his build.  I may have mentioned I prefer conscious, intelligent lumberjack types - partly because I'm a solid gal myself.  :)  Anyway, when we met, I noticed he had a smaller build, which lessened the attraction. * Sidenote: As anyone who had online dated can attest, these small disappointments are commonplace, as of course we are all going to put our most flattering photos online or perhaps have photos that don't fully show how we look, and human nature is to project what we want to see.

But he was really nice and warm and interesting, so we had a lovely conversation with good connection, laughing, and some flirting, as well.  It's one of those situation where I could talk myself into pushing forward, even though the attraction is not quite there, but I don't want to put myself or him through the place where that strategy has led me in the past.  Sooo, even though we indicated we would see each other again, and I know I would have a good time if a did, I'm thinking probably no.  What do you think?

There are a couple other men I have been communicating with and will likely meet with soon.  One guy seems really interesting in terms of his art and activism work in SF, but initially I did not see much depth in his profile.  Strangely, a few months later, his profile now seems to have more depth.  I think when I initially read his profile, he had recently ended a relationship and was in a not-so-great place so maybe he is more open now.  In any case, I'm more excited to meet him now and will probably have a coffee date in the next week or so if all goes well.

Related to my dating attitude: During a recent coaching session (a guy from my leadership program and I are continuing to co-coach each other), he said something like, "What if there is someone out there who will love you just the way you are, right now."  I think this was in response to me sharing how I feel not-so-attractive right now and like I need to lose a few pounds, etc.  When he said that, however, it really landed with me and I have been thinking of it periodically ever since.  There are people out there like me - skinnier, heavier, more attractive, less attractive - who find people and fall in love.  So why not me?  Am I so hideous that no one could love me?  There are men out there who would love me just as I am.  This is very comforting to recognize and sit with.

I guess that's about all for now.  I found a possible roommate, so this has expanded my housing search possibilities.  More on that later...  xo

6/02/2014

Trip to Oregon

Happy Summer!  I'm in the second week of two weeks off from work.  Next week starts with that new one-day Orientation class I'm teaching on Monday the 9th, then general counseling on Tuesday/Thursday.  Still not clear exactly what I'm going to do for the class but have been thinking about it.  Must. Figure. It. Out. This. Week.

I managed to grade all my Final exams and enter final grades just before the deadline last Tuesday night.  I just couldn't motivate to work on them when I was in Oregon.  My family visit over Memorial Weekend was fun.  The highlights include:

  • Time Friday with my Aunt and Cousin - even though my Aunt's a bit crazy, I love her and am glad to maintain connection with my birth Mom's family. 
  • Friday night pizza with siblings and their partners/kids and taking J and E on the carousel.
  • Saturday pool hang out time with sister's family.  Throwing the rings in the pool for E - so cute!  And J finally venturing in, after she wandered around worrying about it for most of the time, (but also seeming to have fun).  I think J might have a higher-than-average anxiety level, which I can relate to!
  • Saturday dinner with Mom and Dad.  The restaurant dinner wasn't great, but it was good to have my parents to myself and catch up with things.  We talked a little about my Mom's upcoming surgery, and I advised them to have someone stay with her all that day, versus dropping her off, based on my own surgery experience (general anesthesia and pain meds are no joke); more on her surgery below.
  • Sunday breakfast at our favorite brunch place: Jo Fowler's House of Pancakes.  If you're ever in Eugene, check it out.  Had my normal Swedish pancakes with lingonberry butter - yum!  More time with Mom and Dad.  As a sidenote, I felt closer to my Mom this trip than I've felt before.  I guess someone getting sick has a way of breaking down defenses on both sides.  It's not that she was all that different, but whether it was from me or her or both, I felt more love between us.
  • Sunday afternoon I spent at my sister's with J and E.  One of the BIGGEST highlights for sure!  I did art with Jayne, threw a nerf baseball for E, and had SO much fun jumping around, chasing each other and playing games on the trampoline they have in their backyard.  I haven't laughed that much in a long time!  At one point we collapsed in a puppy pile and looked up at the clouds; a moment I'll treasure.
  • Then came the wild-and-crazy family barbeque on Sunday night at my brother's house with all my immediate family and their families, as well as my cousin, Jen, who moved to Oregon from Nebraska last year.  There is often one night of drinking when the family all gets together and this was it.  It started out mellow with the kids playing outside.  V, my youngest 1-year-old niece, loves playing with her older cousins, J and E.  E is very loving and protective towards her, and I love that he gets to experience a "big brother" relationship and she a "little sister" relationship, which neither of them would experience otherwise.  The adults played with the kids and sipped wine or beer.  After V went to bed, we ate the delicious food that had been collaboratively prepared - steaks, prawn salad, mushroom rice pilaf, and fabulous berry cobbler for dessert.  A secret about my Dad - he smokes when he drinks and sometimes when he's not drinking.  He tries to compartmentalize it.  Anyway, I was bad and joined him a couple of times during the night.  Whoops.  Unhealthy father/daughter bonding time.  Oh well.  My brother and I had a nice talk at the end of the night after everyone had left.  Fun night overall.
  • Then Monday morning, I chilled at my parent's house (stayed at my bro's house the first two nights and their house the last two) and took Zoey on an out-of-control walk.  Poor Zoey.  I think she liked meeting everyone and had fun playing at times but moving locations and SO many new people was a lot to digest for an already-highly-excited dog.  Then, we met others briefly for a lunch - it's clear from this post that my family tends to gather around meals! - and Zoey and I hit the road.

I didn't realize how much happened, until writing it all out in this post.  So, my Mom's surgery was this last Wednesday and the doctor said it went very well, and he thought he got it all.  We are waiting to hear back on the pathology report, which should be coming soon.  Please say a prayer for her, if you can.

Guess that's about all I have to share.  I sent an email out to my circles about what I was looking for in a new place and have since heard about several possibilities, and many people wrote sending their support and good wishes, but nothing solid yet.  I would like to be moving in with my new boyfriend... do you think that might happen in two months?  jk  I do hope to find a shared situation with a person or people who are kind and conscious and easy to get along with.  Fingers crossed!

Hope you all are having some fun times in the sun. :-)

p.s. Thank you to those of you who left supportive comments on my last post - it meant a lot and helped lift my mood.  I wanted to give a quick update on that situation: After all that, and after I had reviewed her report and made my own comments, she suggested we bag the whole thing and start again in the Fall, bringing in an additional reviewer for balance.  Maybe she recognized she didn't really know my abilities and couldn't give a fair evaluation based on one half-hour observation.  Even though I'll have to go through the process again, I'm relieved and glad to have another opportunity.  And the other reviewer will likely be a woman I know to be kind and who initially worked as a CTE Counselor, like me.

5/21/2014

A No-Good Very Bad Day

Today was a no-good, very bad day.

It started with being 15 minutes late to work, then two of my appointments didn't show up... which wasn't that big of deal, but then my last appointment the department chair sat in and, unfortunately, it was nerve-wracking with lots of different issues thrown in, and I made a couple of mistakes.  She was, in my opinion, mean and overly harsh with how she communicated with me about my shortcomings right after the appointment, and I ended up crying.  I know I should not have taken it so hard but it really hurt my feelings.  I (and other adjunct counselors I know) try really hard with the students in individual appointments and teaching, and put in lots of extra hours planning for class, and really get no recognition or appreciation for it.  I get paid well, so there is that.  But anyway, it made me feel bad about myself and just really sad.

I will fully admit that I do not receive criticism well.  I'm trying to develop a thicker skin and I think I've made a little headway, but today I was not so tough.  We talked again later, after my class, and I apologized to her for getting so upset.  She admitted she tends to be a harsh critic and that she should not have led with the comments she did.  I said that there is definitely more I need to learn, but that the appointment was not representative of my typical work.  I have seen several students a day,  two days a week all school year and I've done well and become increasingly confident.  Different issues come up in general counseling than came up working in Career Technical Education, such as more transfer issues and processes such as TAG, where students apply and are automatically admitted to a UC.  Anyway, as mentioned, I have more to learn, but she could have communicated the criticism in a much more constructive way.  :(

Going forward, I really want to work on this sensitivity, and also my fear of criticism.  I really hate it.  I'd rather be slapped in the face.  It somehow feels like when I'm being criticized, they are saying I'm a bad person and there's something very wrong with me.  It's like I can't separate my "performance" from my true self at these times.  I know this goes back to my Dad and how he communicated... he had a way of showing anger or frustration with something I did that he didn't like in an intense, controlled way that made me feel in those moment like he hated me and was disgusted with me.  Yuck.  Not a good feeling, especially when I did depend on my Dad a lot, as my one parent (there was my step-mom but as mentioned, we never had a true parental bond or closeness), for approval and love.

The fact is (I'm saying this to myself - so listen self!) that I am an adult now and I have innate value and worth outside anything anyone could say or think about me.  I KNOW I care about students and have worked very hard to answer their questions and support, advise, and teach them.  I wish I performed better under pressure but I love myself anyway and forgive myself for not doing as well as I would have liked today.  I hope over time, the department chair and other powers that be will come to know and value my work.  If this doesn't happen over time, then likely this college is not the best place for me to work.  I'm hopeful it will, but I'm going to continue to look for and apply to other positions, both full and part-time, at other colleges.

Thanks for listening!  Tomorrow is another day... and I have my trip to Oregon this weekend to look forward to.

5/10/2014

Mega-Stressful Week

Happy May, Everyone!

I just got through a mega-stressful week with my counseling interview Wednesday.  I was so stressed and nervous and had to acknowledge it in the interview when my hand was shaking when I took a drink of water.  The content included normal interview-type questions, plus a role play, plus a 10-minute teaching demonstration.  I practiced the teaching demonstration a lot - it was on one of my favorite subjects, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment - and think that I did quite well on that part.  I felt I rocked the questions, too... but the role play?  Not so much.  I just plain didn't understand the setup and that I was supposed to look up information and make a sample Education Plan ahead of time.  So, in the interview, I was deprived of a catalog and obviously didn't have access to a computer to look up information, which is completely unnatural and not a fair representation of my abilities.  I'm kicking myself because I know NOW what I should have done and wish I could go back.  Oh well.  I did as well as I could without knowing the specific class information.

I think regardless of what happens, it was a good idea that I applied and interviewed because: 1. They know I care about the job and have ambition; and 2. I got some good practice should I choose to apply again.  Also, through working with the counselors this semester in students services (as CTE counselors, we worked in a separate building across campus from student services), the interview process, and then today working as a team on the annual Super Saturday registration event on our campus, I feel a sense of belonging and like I am getting to know people better and feel more comfortable around them.  That makes work more fun!

The week was also stressful because it was the last week of normal class for the course I'm teaching, and I crammed almost 30 student presentations into two days.  It was intense, but also kinda fun.  Oh, and I was skating on financial fumes because so many bills came through last month.  Thank God, it was the last EOL payment!

In positive financial news, I think I mentioned I'm going to get quite a few hours this summer, and I'll also be teaching three Counseling orientation classes, which are either taught over two shorter days or one long day.  It will be nice to make more money, aided by the fact I do not have to pay my almost $400/mo healthcare payment over the summer months, as it's divided over the rest of the year when they know people are working.  Many people don't work in the summer and the campus will be more quiet.  I'm looking forward to the more mellow atmosphere.  I'm nervous to teach the orientations, which I've not taught before, but I sat in on another colleagues class which helped.  And it's only one or two days - 6 hours - so how bad could it be?  I have a PowerPoint I can fall back on if need be and I can do some fun interactive activities, as well.  Okay, thanks for listening as I talked myself into it!  :-)

After my class is over, at the end of this month over Memorial Day weekend, I'm going to drive up to Oregon again with Zoey.  As usual, I can't wait to see my nieces and nephew, who I can tell from pictures have grown a LOT.  My littlest niece has reddish/strawberry blonde hair and is such a little cutie.  And my older niece and nephew are playing sports and looked darling participating in a recent Easter egg hunt.  My mom is soldiering through her chemo appointments.  Twice now she's had to go in the hospital when her temperature spiked.  I guess on chemo it's easy to get sick and much more dangerous if you do.  She was in for at least a week this last time but is now home.  She and my dad actually went to stay at a special hotel and go wine tasting for their 40th anniversary this weekend.

I kind of miss my EOL program, but my local "pod" got together this last Monday at one of the women's house and caught up with each other, made some art/creative scenes (like visualizing what you want), and ate dinner.  It was nice.  There are more events on the horizon, including a reunion get-together on June 7th up in Sonoma and a book group that starting up.

I'm still working with my last-assigned "buddy," K, exchanging mini-coaching sessions every two weeks.  So that helps keep my feet in the water.  I'm trying to motivate to eat and drink more consciously and up the health factor another degree.  I would like to drink kombucha instead of Diet Coke, but I will say that it's a hell of a lot more expensive!  He's also supporting me in envisioning the relationship I want to have with my Dad, as well as with my birth Mom.  Even though she passed away when I was young, I love the idea of creating space to connect with her and feel gratitude for all she gave me and the special relationship we shared - I think it would be really valuable for me to be able to tap into that on a regular basis.  He is a very sweet and loving guy, and I think I am supporting him, as well, through helping him with a work transition, his relationship with his pregnant fiance, and sharing coaching/career counseling tools.

I have a f#*kload of student papers to grade before Tuesday.  Wish me luck!  I do have a nice brunch scheduled for tomorrow with a friend.  Hope you all are having a fun weekend.

4/20/2014

Happy Easter! And updates...

This is going to be a bit all over the place.  I haven't posted in a while and want to give updates on a few things.

I finished my Leadership program!  Yay!!! Six months did seem to go by quickly.  Such a blessing to go right into that program from my breakup with S.  I made some major shifts in awareness of patterns in my life and am working on changing those patterns, including not abandoning myself and staying aware of my needs when I'm working and in social situations.  And not "crashing into unconsciousness" when get home and overeating.  I'm exchanging career counseling for health coaching with one of my cohorts in the program, K (he's so sweet and very attractive - and young and engaged with a baby on the way :), which is exactly what I need and such great serendipity.

Also, I had my first Social Change Theatre Troupe meeting yesterday!  There were four of us and we did several theatre activities together and THREE of us led them!  This is so amazing to me because I've always longed to be part of a group in which others could lead, and it didn't always fall to me as it has in the past.  Woohoo!  The downside is that two of these folks are limited in their time commitment... but they still want to be involved and I'm going to continue reaching out to others and plan on meeting monthly to start with.

In other good news, I will have lots of work this summer!  Part of me wishes I could just take the summer off (I do have a couple trips planned), but I need to keep the money coming in and am grateful that we can actually work more hours than normal in the summer.  Maybe this will allow me to actually build a more solid reserve.  My financial aid is clamoring to begin payments, but I'm hoping I can defer a bit longer and will find out about that tomorrow.  I didn't get called in for an interview with one of the jobs I applied for - I didn't really expect it since I applied last minute and I know a lot of people were going for the job.  I'm still waiting to hear about the full-time job at the college where I work now but the situation is similar with lots of more experienced folks also having applied.  A co-worker told me of a few more open positions yesterday so I plan to check them out.

On a related note, I find it really interesting that most people I've talked to say that the most important thing in single parenting is having flexibility and TIME, not money.  Did I already talk about that here?  Not that I'm pursuing that track right now, but thinking of the future... And also, flexibility and time is just a general indicator of happiness.  I'd like to continue to build my career counseling clients (I have two right now) and continue my activism work.  That said, part of me is a bit torn about starting a full-time counseling gig... but I'm ready for a greater abundance of cash flow and life choices and am open to how that might happen.  Do any of you have advice based on your own experiences?

As far as I know, I will still need to move in July... my theatre friends who were here yesterday mentioned a place opening up in their building so I am going to follow up on that.  It would be so wonderful to live near close friends, and I have other friends in that neighborhood, as well.

Happy Easter to Everyone!!!  Hope you get some treats today.  I'm going dancing and then was invited last minute to a friend's house for dinner.  There will be a few little kiddos there, so that will be fun.  No hot dates lately, but an attractive Latino man expressed interest in me yesterday online. :)

4/04/2014

My Discernment is Unreliable

I saw my counselor today; the same one S and I were seeing when we were together.  It felt great to share some residual feelings I had from when S and I were stuck and fighting, as well as the final rounds of processing we did and insights we had.

Two of the main ones that I don't think I shared here were that:  One,  I agreed with S that, yes, I do have an edge around being sympathetic when my partner is whining or being pitiful (ok those are totally judgmental words showing my lack of sympathy. ha).  I want to grow in this area and be "softer" and more responsive and loving when my partner is feeling small. Two, at a certain point a few months before we broke up, he GAVE up and, when we were fighting, he wasn't coming from a place of love and trying to reconnect. He was just fighting, and this felt so painful and crazy-making.

I'm well over the relationship and moved on, but it was good to share these insights with someone who knows us both and is compassionate.

Looking ahead, we talked about some initial guidelines to follow as I am dating and getting closer to someone, to help me discern if they are available and capable of the type of relationship and intimacy I want.  She mentioned that feeling "familiar" is different than feeling "comfortable," and that we can feel a person or situation is familiar when it resembles a situation from childhood, even if that situation carried anxiety or insecurity.  Concrete guidelines I might use to reflect on a new dating relationship might include asking the following questions:
  • Can I be myself?  Do I feel comfortable expressing the different parts of who I am?
  • Does he want me to "shine"?  Is he excited about, and supportive of, my success and development?
  • Does the relationship feel mutual? Is he meeting me in the middle or showing willingness to try?  Is he willing to work with me to meet my needs within the relationship, as well as his own?
  • When we "fight" or when he is expressing unhappiness with me or something I did, is there a sense that underneath it all he cares about/loves me and wants to get through the difficulty and return to feeling close?
It feels good to have initial guidelines I can use to back up my own decision-making process, which to be honest, I don't completely trust.  I am afraid of ending up in a painful and loveless relationship for any length of time again.  I don't think I ever could, with the consciousness I have now about how that happened with S - including my coping mechanism of shutting down emotionally, which I think contributed to our being stuck as long as we were.  I still feel some fear and shakiness around it, however, and so appreciate having some concrete "checks and balances."

3/20/2014

EOL and Dating

My fifth out of six EOL leadership weekends was the best one yet in terms of the experience of being there and how I feel coming out of it.  One remarkable thing that happened was that I asked one of the men for feedback on when I shared the vulnerable experience with the whole group the prior weekend.  I had felt very raw coming out of that and realized that I needed to receive reflection and reassurance that what I shared would be honored and held with care.  I received all that and more, including his perception that all the men in the circle were tuned in to what I was saying and trying to hold space for me, and that what I shared mirrored a thread of what they had shared in the men's circle.  It was a truly wonderful and generous conversation and met all my needs for reassurance and care.  I feel so grateful.

Another significant insight was that I often feel the need to be "on" in my life and am scanning everyone looking for a connection.  This is exhausting, as is working to have everyone - including all my students - like me.  Not everyone will like me!  And I don't need to connect with everyone as I move through my day or walk across campus.  No wonder I come home from work and need to crash!  So my intention is to, as corny as it may sound, befriend myself and let myself off the hook to some degree.  I want to be my authentic self, and that includes being "on" at times and tuned in to my students, being playful, as well as being more quiet and inward at times - taking opportunities to be alone and "recharge" my energy.

On a lighter note, we also crawled, skipped, galloped and ran all around the property in our pod groups acting like various species of animals exploring nature.  It was silly and playful and there was lots of laughter.  At one point, we crashed in the grass of the meadow and exclaimed that being an animal was exhausting!  For the rest of the time, we just made animal sounds from a reclining position, including those of fish and sharks.  I am definitely feeling comfortable and a sense of trust with the "village" now that is really wonderful.

In ongoing dating adventures, I let the last guy I went on a date with know that I didn't feel there was quite enough attraction there to continue seeing each other romantically.  Not surprisingly, he wasn't interested in the friends track.  I have also been emailing with a couple other guys, both of whom seem more attractive and interesting to me.  I will likely talk to one of them on the phone today or tomorrow afternoon.  He suggested we talk on the phone after I asked him a couple questions about something he wrote in his profile about "8-hour parties," attending Burning Man, and being bohemian, as well as having a more regular Joe side.  I happen to know he works in strategic planning/public policy and is not a total flake, but I'm not sure what he means when he says these things... he recently went to a wedding in LA and said his group of friends hung out by the pool talking and did some dancing, so it didn't sound too crazy.  You just never know here in the Bay Area. :) I'll let you know what I find out and whether we end up meeting this Sunday.  He also surfs, which I find trĂ©s sexy...

The second guy is very cute, has a Ph.D. focusing in part on psychology, describes himself as athletic... and, comes with his own issue of possible concern: He says he has food/other allergies and gets migraines on a regular basis which somewhat limit his activities.  Kudos to him for being up front about it, but it's a little worrisome to know from the start that your partner is limited in the activities they can participate in with you.  He said in his profile that he would encourage his girlfriend to go do things with friends, but companionship in life - including in social and cultural activities - are a big part of the fun of relationship for me.  So, I also look forward to learning more about this topic when he and I meet next Wednesday.

Other than that, just generally enjoying Spring Break this week and the gorgeous weather we're having!  Hope you all are having a good week, too.

3/09/2014

Wondering who is reading...

After I wrote a lot of deep stuff in my last post, it is making me consider how my own transitions affect my current blogging focus and readership.  I love and appreciate my few faithful readers who comment (and I read and comment on their blogs too) but am curious about the rest of you.

If you read regularly but haven't commented before, will you consider commenting and introducing yourself?  I'm imagining most readers are arriving through the SMC or infertility/pregnancy channels but would appreciate knowing more specifically who is out there.  Thank you! :)

p.s. I went on another date yesterday.  He was interesting and had depth, but unfortunately the chemistry wasn't there.  He followed up to ask me on another date, and I'm not sure what to tell him...

2/23/2014

Epiphanies

This Ecology of Leadership program is turning out to be as much, if not more, about inner growth as it is about our projects in the outer world.  I want to share my accomplishments so far, but especially want to share a very recent and significantly healing epiphany I had last week related to my reproductive past and future.

Working within the structure of the monthly weekend intensives - I had my fourth one last weekend - our monthly "buddy" pairings, and our regional program "Pods" that meet a couple times a month, I've had many accomplishments, including:
  • Clarity and planning around my goal of forming a Social Change Theatre Troupe
  • Integrating new routines of "Sit Spots" - sitting out in nature for 15 minutes, five days a week - and regular journaling into my life.  I've journaled before but had slacked on it for a while.
  • Having surgery and relying on community, including EOL friends, to support me.
  • Lots and lots and lots of self reflection and visioning, focusing on six chosen areas of my life, including drawing complex and evocative "mind maps" of my visions in these areas.
  • Supporting a couple dozen other people - of diverse ages, genders, and cultures - in the process, and opening up to let them support me.
  • From an ecological perspective, focusing on healing blocks in the "roots" of my inner life and unconscious, so that the "canopy" of what I show and achieve the world can be full and thriving.  Various processes around this over the weekend intensives and individual work in between.
To the last point, I had a huge shift, or epiphany, in this last week!

As background: Going into last weekend in Bolinas (the place where we meet is gorgeous and very special - used to be the site of Native American ceremonies and includes gardens, meadows, hills, beautiful trees and forest areas, and a short walk to cliffs and beaches of the ocean), I had experienced a revelation around my theatre project.  Reflecting on my vision and needs coming up around it, as well as just how long I had held this deep longing to be part of a troupe, I realized that most of my vision was directly carried over from a theatre troupe I auditioned for and desperately wanted to join a couple of decades ago.  Even though I knew they were specifically looking for men of color, I took it personally when I was not accepted and was devastated.  I just knew they would see my passion and abilities and welcome me into the group.  It was not to be.

In any case, I think I was looking for control around something I had not a lot of control over, and I took up this longing for a troupe and carried it with me.  I have done many theatre projects and collaborations in the non-profit, community, and activist sectors but haven't managed to form an ongoing troupe, which felt like a failure.  What I realized is that I am already getting a lot of the needs met that I hoped to meet through the troupe "right now" through my InterPlay and dance groups!  These include creative expression and collaboration within a "sacred space" or space of exploration and acceptance.  And community is coming in other ways, too, through EOL and InterPlay, so the main desire I have and that might be met through the troupe is regular creative contribution; producing educational/outreach performances and self/community development workshops that make a positive difference for individuals and the community.  I've never had this level of clarity AND I have a partner in this endeavor who is totally on the same page, my friend K.  I didn't mean to get that detailed about the theatre project but it IS a big deal for me. :) So back to the weekend....

I came with that insight, expecting a lot of focus on our projects, but instead we dove into women's and men's experiences and issues.  We divided into two groups by gender and talked about our feelings and experiences around men and being a woman in this culture.  Not a small topic.  Lot's of very deep sharing, crying, bonding, supporting.

During this experience, I shared about my abortion two decades ago when I was involved with an ex who was unavailable.  I shared about that on this blog before and reconnecting with this guy three years ago or so.  So, I knew that was a deeply wounding experience for me, and I tried to work through residual pain in various ways over the years - writing letters to my unborn child, crying, getting angry, talking to the guy about it and how it affected me, etc.

But there was more there.  The emotions were combined with a cognitive aspect, as well.  I realized through talking about it in the healing container of the women's circle and in three emotional conversations since - in the larger group, with my housemate, and with my "buddy" - that not feeling like I had choice in that situation contributed to the energy I brought to trying to have a child on my own.

* As a caveat, I absolutely know that having a child as Single Mother by Choice is a wonderful and valid choice, so it's not about the validity of that, it's a very personal realization that I brought energy and compulsion to it based on the lack of choice I felt I had back then around the abortion.

At the time, I wasn't able to hold a space for myself to reflect and consider all options, and he, who was several years older, was not able to hold that space for me or himself either.  He was driven by his own fear and desire for self-preservation and immediately shifted into convincing me that an abortion was the only valid choice.  And I, unfortunately, was addicted to him and his love and approval of me and couldn't say no, hold on here, I need to think about this, maybe see a counselor.

That's not entirely true... For a short time when I first found out, I do remember considering and telling him that I could go live with my birth mother's family in Oregon (I was pretty sure my immediate family would disapprove and likely reject me), but he argued against that.  I couldn't imagine myself, a recent college graduate at 22/23 years old, raising the child on my own and couldn't imagine losing him either.  I have thought so many times that I wish I could go back and make another choice, but that's coming from where I am now.  Now, I am able to hold space for myself.  Now, I am able to raise a child on my own.

So, I feel compassion for myself back then, and I am even finding compassion for him in his immaturity and fear, which, unfortunately, he never really outgrew.  I also feel angry that he couldn't help me - couldn't open up to my needs as well as his own.  But mainly, I just feel incredibly sad that we were both so limited in our capacities.

So the epiphany is that, cognitively and emotionally, I've been letting that experience, in part, drive my decision making around having a child.  I actually don't regret trying, though I might not have tried quite as often or in as many ways.  I don't regret trying these past couple of years with S, though I think it made us stay together longer than we otherwise would have.  If I don't have a biological child, the possibility of which is growing increasingly dim, I might have really regretted not trying.  But I brought a belief that I needed to control this situation; I needed to have a child to heal my past experience, in part to forgive myself for my past and not being able to hold that space to reflect and clearly choose what was right for me.  To take that choice back.  But by bringing these emotions and beliefs along with me, I realize now that I was actually limiting my choices and continuing to be controlled to some degree by that experience.  Does that make sense?

Which brings me to now.  Going forward, I want to let go of this pain and regret, and anger and grief.  I want to forgive myself, and, yes, forgive him, to the best of my ability.  I want to relax and trust myself to hold space for reflection and clear choice.  At this time, I am not on solid ground to pursue having a child on my own.  My finances are not at the level I would like, and my living situation is uncertain as of May or June when my housemate moves in with his fiance.  Plus, I am still immersed in EOL and would like to focus for now on community and relationship.

To end this long and intense post - thank you if you read the whole thing! - I want to share how this epiphany and healing has rolled out in the past few days.  So I had a date on Friday, and a short time into this date (which lacked chemistry to begin with), the guy starts yammering on about having kids and how women around 40 get fixated on that, and then asking when I decided I was not going in that direction of having kids, etc.  OMG, I felt revolted.  I couldn't have felt more clear that we were in completely different developmental stages of our lives.  He was 51 years old, but I know there are guys that age out there, like my housemate and like S, who are interested and open to having a child or another child.  Other things this guy said showed how insular and closed minded he was, like when he goes out in nature he can't wait to get back home.  I could not get out of there fast enough.  I went home and changed my profile to be MUCH MORE CLEAR that I am interested in having a family in some way and that I would like to meet someone who is similarly open.

I will also say that the door is open to pursuing becoming an SMC again in the future, when life circumstances change.

So this epiphany, rather than closing me off to having a family, seems to have empowered me and brought more confidence, clarity, and choice about how and when, and in what circumstance, I move forward.  Feeling so grateful for this healing process and it's impact on my life.  Would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and experiences...