…With 2 Cats in the yard….

Our house is a very, very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy ’cause of you

– Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

Ah, paints a lovely picture, doesn’t it?

Let me tell you something. It’s not that easy! I have one adult cat who hisses at our little kitten every time she sees him! I told my mom that I can understand what it’s like to have two children, and feel a bit stressed when the second one came along!

At the same time, I’m trying to navigate a very challenging job, acclimate to being a wife and stepmother, and close on a house. There is other news going on but it’s not mine to share so I’ll leave it for another blog post.

Our new kitten Louie is wonderfully active but I will tell you that there are a lot of scratches all over my body! When I bring him to the vet, will need to trim those nails so I don’t have to buy out the Neosporin at the local CVS.

This is not the picture I’ve been painting on Facebook, now is it? The truth is that I am exhausted. I am also trying to keep my plants alive… Did I mention that?

But in all seriousness, once we get over this hump, I’m going to be settling in with my wonderful husband, very sweet step kids, and adorable cats into an old house that’s situated on the lake. I really can’t complain about that. I am so incredibly grateful to have such a wonderful caring husband that I love with all of my heart.

Oh did I mention that I’m also planning the wedding with him? Good thing we have a wonderful organized event planner!

Meet Louie!

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

I changed my last name. I took my husband’s last name at the age of 46. Why? I joke because I want to be “Italian” since his last name is Italian…well, Sicilian if you want to be technical. But, it is one of those things that just felt like it mattered to me. We discussed it way before we got engaged, and I had time to think about it, and I realized I wanted to take his last name, and keep my maiden name as my middle name. So, I dropped the “Lee.”

It’s not easy to change your name, but it is even harder to change your middle name. Here in Massachusetts, I have to petition the court to change my middle name. It wasn’t THAT hard to change my last name – just a lot of paperwork and money exchanged – but to change my middle name, I have to ask the local court. And, the local court is still closed due to Covid, so I have to figure all this stuff out via the interwebs and google and sending smoke signals. It is not easy.

And, I had no idea I had to do this until I went to get my new driver’s license and the unfriendly, snarky woman at the counter told me I had to petition the court. Go figure. Combined with the women who greeted me, declaring, “I told my daughter to never change her name because of a man,” I tried really hard not to question my decision.

So, my new social security card has my new name on it. But, it isn’t recognized by the state I live in, so the country I live in allows me to embrace my new initials “JRB,” but to MA, I’m still just old “JLB.” My old name is a distant memory. But wait? My new license has my full new name. I’m so confused.

It is the whole concept of rules for rule’s sake. We want a tiny portion of control over your freedom.

Let’s probe deeper beyond this superficial stuff, though. Imagine changing your name at 46? It’s been my identity my whole life. And then it’s just different. It feels like a bit of betrayal to my folks. Hey, I’ve been your daughter by name my whole life, but now, I belong to someone else. It’s a bit archaic, right? But the good news is that I made this decision (along with Ted). I could have kept my last name as it was, and left it at that. But, I wanted the same last name as Ted. It was a choice – barbaric or not – it was my choice.

Anyhow, I’ll keep you posted on how that visit to court goes!

3am thoughts

It’s been a minute since I last wrote. I’ve been so busy, and I often compose posts in my head, but haven’t gotten them in writing yet. It’s 3am and I didn’t take a sleeping pill so alas, I’m awake. Plus, I was trying to open the blinds for the cat & I stepped on a plug (unplugged), and now have 2 gashes in my foot. So much for those sandals this weekend! I covered them in bandaids & ointment so here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m exhausted – at least my body is – but my mind won’t stop going. Work, marriage, kids, mortgage, weddings, registries, commitments – all swirling. Pick a topic & it’s in my head. It’s not all bad, but just all consuming.

I am listening to a podcast about the Bachelorette. You’d think that would put me to sleep, eh?

Anyhow, gonna try to get some rest! Ciao!

Husband + Wife + kids + cat + house?

Ted and I are married! Even writing that still shocks me. I have a husband. Repeat, I have a husband. It is surreal and wonderful and blissful all at once.

Our wedding day this past Saturday wasn’t picture perfect like the movies. On the contrary, it was stressful, messy, and basically, real life. But the most important thing is that our loved ones were all together, including my folks, Ted’s folks, my brother, my sister-in-law, and the kids. The kids were very stressed and overtired so they acted up all weekend but they’ve settled down now. I’m working through some of my anger about the day and it not being all that I pictured, but when it comes down to it, I got to marry my best friend and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have ended up with such a wonderful man.

Yesterday, I saw a listing for a house that I just fell in love with, so I went to see it last night and we put in an offer – Ted hasn’t even seen it yet. I give him so much credit to bid on a property unseen. With that said, he will be going tonight to see it so it’ll give us a chance to ruminate together. It is not a perfect house, but it is charming and right on a pond, which immediately brought me back to my childhood on the Navesink River.

I will admit I’m likely running on fumes at this point. I’m not sleeping well because I have so many thoughts swirling in my head – my parent’s health, the kids, my marriage, buying a house, my job, the cat’s health (she is having teeth pulled next week). I am not happy with how I looked in my wedding photos – all I see is my weight gain during Covid and feel very unhappy with myself. The joy isn’t there right now. I feel torn in so many directions and therefore, just feel stress and little happiness. This is clearly my anxiety and depression masking things, but I’m working on the tools to help myself. I have therapy, a job coach, and am working on finding a social/therapy group for people in my stage of life.

I sometimes regret writing these type of posts because then people who read these worry about me. No need to worry. I will weather this storm and come out on top as per usual. I have a toolkit to help me through it. Let me give you some examples on how I tackle things for #selfcare.

  • My dear friend invited me to a girls’ weekend. I booked my flight. Then Ted’s mom said he should join me. Rather than infringing on my friend’s weekend, I cancelled the flight and booked a weekend in Newport for the two of us. My friend understands (I hope!).
  • The kids do not understand boundaries well but they do respond well to rules. The rule is: if our bedroom door is closed, you must knock. And if we say do not come in, they can’t come in. Sometimes Ted leaves the door open accidentally when I need a few minutes of space. I know I must close the door or the kids look at it as an invitation to come in. They are very loving and snuggly, so if I’m into that, I can leave the door open. If I need time to get ready for the day, I close the door.
  • I love working from home but I don’t like being alone all day. I’ll start my work day with a quick trip to Dunkin drive through for an iced coffee so I have interaction with other people, and it helps me ignite.
  • When I’m stressed, it helps me to write. Thus, I have this blog! But I do not always want a retort so I removed the comments on this post.
  • We have a big soaker tub in this rental. I have a big bottle of bath salts and sometimes in the evening, I’ll do “tub time.” These nights are critical on the weeks when we have the kids so I have a bit of alone time (which I need desperately as part of my mental health care).
  • Mom’s health is up and down, but she’s still my mom, and I can still turn to her for support. In fact, I believe this is actually good for both of us because she can still take care of her “baby” and I can still lean on my mom (hi, mom!).
  • I have an addictive personality – it’s been food, exercise, shopping, you name it. If I feel the urge to shop, I have a few coping strategies, including wandering through the aisles of the library (it works!), adding things to my online cart and then not pressing “order,” or giving myself $20 to spend at the Dollar Tree. It’s not a perfect system but it does help.

I am human, full of flaws, and do not need to be perfect, though that perfectionism creeps up at times. “Be kind to your mind,” right?

Countdown to nuptials: 3 days to go (well, technically 2 nights and 1 day)

Today, my therapist – who I’ve been seeing for years – said, “Joanna, you’re getting married! Take a moment to appreciate that!” It’s still sinking in.

One of the twins just called me and asked if we can do a rick roll at the “fake” wedding (the one in Oct). I told him I’d consider it for the reception. Sigh. 🙂

Today was a whirlwind. I worked during the day and then went out in the evening to get things for my unofficial bachelorette night with my friends from high school, along with some inexpensive vases to load up my parent’s place with flowers. TBH, I also have some penis straws. It’s a right of passage, right? #nojudgementplease

I am exhausted, physically and mentally, from the amount of stuff I’ve been juggling. Ted and I are going to have the kids this weekend and next week, so we won’t have any “married couple” time until next Friday night, so we’re planning to go out to dinner and then we have massages scheduled for Sunday at a spa near our apartment in MA. I am super excited for a stone massage!

I should tell you that simultaneously, I am also planning the October wedding, and my mom’s friends are hosting a shower for me in NJ in June. We’ll have a virtual component as well. How very Covid of us.

It was very sweet – one of my colleagues gave me a shout out on our team meeting today and my boss (technically my boss’s boss) was confused how I recently got a dress and am getting married so soon. I explained to him that it was wedding #1 and he told me that he, too, had 2 ceremonies because he had a commitment ceremony with his now husband before gay marriage was legal. I was very touched by that comment.

It’s getting late (almost 9pm!) so time to sign off for now!

Countdown to nuptials: 4 days!

Technically it’s the end of the day on Wednesday, so it’s really three days and an evening! I wanted to document this experience.

So here I am, 46 years old, and I’m getting married. If you would ask me five years ago if this day would come, I probably would have said “no to maybe.” When Ted and I started talking about what type of wedding we would want, long before we were actually engaged, I really had to start from scratch. I realize that I never really thought this would happen.

You know how there’s some moments in your life that you just can’t forget? I remember going to Venice, and talking to my roommate about how I realized in one of the most romantic towns in all of the world that I likely was never going to have children, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get married. I did say that I wanted to take a gondola ride for the love of my life. So I need to make that happen on my honeymoon!

I want to clarify about the no children thing since I’m about to be a stepmom. I made the decision not to have biological children because I didn’t want to pass on my depression and anxiety. This is not to say that I don’t love children and I’m not thrilled to have the twins in my life.

I have many thoughts to share about my love for Ted, but I will likely write them after the wedding because I shared some of my thoughts with our officiant. All I’ll say is I feel so fortunate to have met and will be marrying such a wonderful man, father, son, brother, and friend. ❤️

Nuptuals

So change of plans. Mom’s health has been a little bit wonky, with many ups and downs, So we decided to tie the knot this weekend! Ted and I will get officially married in my parent’s living room!

We will still have our celebratory wedding in October, and re-officiate, but we will technically already be married. So much to do. I will be taking the train on Wednesday, so I imagine I’ll have time to write them and fill all of you loyal readers in on the details. Until then, happy planning!

Blogging/What’s Going on in my Life

I’ve been toiling with a blogging dilemma. 93 people are following my updates, many who know me personally and/or professionally. I love that – don’t get me wrong – but when I need a cathartic writing experience, I’ve been hesitating to post things here because I don’t want to offend or overshare or whatever else I might get called out on. As a result, I don’t have a place to write these days that feels comfortable. I’ve been toying with starting a new anonymous blog or a password protected space, but for now, I’m writing here now but with one change – I’ve removed the comments section. It isn’t that I don’t want to hear from you but I prefer that to be a private exchange between me and my reader. There is a place to send me emails on the contact page.

Ok, now that the “business” is taken care of, here is an update on life.

It’s 4/21/21 today. On April 5th, we closed on the sale of my condo, and by then, Ted and I had moved into a temporary 2 bedroom apartment in the south shore area of MA. The kids are technically with us 50% of the time, though we have had them for 2 weeks now to take on some of the time that they were with their mom as a result of the fire at Ted’s previous home. I’m not going to sugar coat it – it is really hard. Not only are Ted and I adjusting to living together, but I’m now adjusting to being a future step parent and living with 2 12-year-olds who have a tremendous amount of anxiety. I have refrained from writing about this for privacy but I’m really struggling and need a place to work out my thoughts beyond therapy. I have reached out to a few group therapy locations to supplement my individual therapy, but I haven’t found anything. If you know of any virtual groups, please write to me privately with suggestions.

When I am dealing with an overabundance of stress, my body reacts physically. I experience terrible headaches, muscle tension, and hair loss. So far, I have gotten a steroid injection to assist with some hair loss, and Ted found a great hair catcher for our shower, but I think I need to focus on more vitamins and figure out how to help prevent this.

I haven’t slept through the night in weeks, months, years? I depend on high levels of caffeine to get through the days, and as a result, I crash hard by 4pm. Or, I’m hyped up on coffee and can’t sleep. My mind ruminates, and I find myself consoling myself with snacks or time with the cat.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve accomplished some amazing things during this time – like, I paid off all of my debt. All of it. My credit score jumped way up; I feel a huge sense of pride and relief to have achieved this milestone at the age of 46. Soon, my debt will increase when we buy a new car and house, but I will be able to keep those expenses at a minimum & within my budget.

I promised myself one splurge with my home sale earnings so last evening, my friend and I went to the Louis Vuitton store in Boston, and I purchased a gorgeous oversized handbag to use for work, travel, you name it. It’s still wrapped up in the box, as I’m debating if I want to do a video on my YouTube Channel. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to start using this wearable art!

I want to assure everyone (and Ted, who reads this) that I have no doubts about my relationship with Ted. He is my future. I am namely stressed about living with the kids, and it’s not the kids either. I truly believe I would be adjust to any kids. These two kids are good boys but they need more support, and we’re working on it. I just have to make sure I create support for myself concurrently.

There are a lot of other stressors but I’ll save those for another time.

Boulder, CO

Last night I put on the news -something I rarely do these days because it is so depressing – and saw that there was a shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, CO. My nephew lives there, so I texted my brother and asked him to check in with him. He doesn’t live on that side of Boulder so he doesn’t do his grocery shopping there. He was fine. But what about those people who weren’t? A young woman who was managing the front of the store lost her life. She’s been working there, likely through Covid, and then was murdered by a senseless shooting. I just can’t wrap my brain around it. It reminds me of the hatred in this world and, without any information about the shooter, it makes me think we need to do more for mental health as well. Same song, different dance. You can’t even go into a supermarket now and feel safe. It’s crazy. I don’t have much more to write about this, but just needed to get these thoughts out.

Ouch

Everything hurts. Seriously, I must have some of the biggest knots in my muscles. Ted was working out the knots while I screamed into the pillow. Now that’s love. While I was driving home, I was afraid I was going to nod off. Stress!

Tomorrow we head to IKEA to get new beds for us & the kids. I was always planning to sell mine since it’s bulky, so we’re going to switch to a king. The kids need everything – toothpaste, brushes, deodorant, etc. We have received an outpouring of support from friends & family, and the boys’ mom’s friends & family are also sending gift cards so we’ll be able to replace the kids’ books, legos, etc. As avid readers, they go through books quickly so rebuilding their library is essential.

Ted and I had a nice Italian dinner tonight, outside, with fire pits to keep us warm. It was nice. I think we’ll enjoy this place as it’s right down the street from our new apartment. I really like the apartment. For 1100 sq feet, it feels spacious yet cozy. Each bedroom has a bathroom and I think the twins will like their space. Of course I’m most stressed about where I’ll put all of my stuff but we’ll sort it out.

Ted’s upstairs and I’m on the couch, writing. I was so fidgety. I can’t seem to settle down at night. My brain won’t stop thinking and unwind for the evening. Same thing with my body.

It’ll get better soon.

Exhaustion & Oversharing

Exhaustion

The exhaustion has kicked in. We’re still waking up in the middle of the night as I imagine both of our brains are still going, going, going. My muscles feel like they’re still moving when I lay down to sleep. My leg muscles are hard as a rock likely from stress and sitting all day working. They tremble like I’m walking, but I am laying down. It’s such a weird feeling to not be able to stop thinking or moving. I know it is temporary, though, which helps. Once we get through the next few weeks, things should settle in a bit. We’ll move out of our condo and into our apartment. See, I said “our.” Working on the whole “our” “we” thing.

I will be working from home through July, so it’s helpful to be able to throw in a load of laundry or clean out the dishwasher on a break. TBH, the condo is a hot mess right now, as we are using it as a place to air out some of Ted’s books and I’m also in the middle of packing it up. The mortgage contingency is tomorrow so that is a BIG day. My attorney hasn’t alerted me to any concerns so I am very hopeful my condo sale will go through and we will close on April 5th. Moving day is April 3rd.

Oversharing

When I was in NJ, mom made a comment about my life being an “open book.” I’ve been writing journals and diaries off and on since 3rd grade when my dad bought me a Cabbage Patch Kid journal on a business trip. I still have all of my journals, including my semester in Rome and year in London when I made a commitment to write every single day. Those were private books and private thoughts, though I have read some of them aloud to various people over the years. About 10 or so years ago, I started writing the older version of this blog, SingleSassy.com, which then became Gratitudeis.net, and finally, it’s current iteration which I felt encompassed all aspects of my life.

When mom was diagnosed with cancer nearly 3 years ago, I encouraged family and friends to read this blog for updates as responding to all of the emails, texts, and FB posts was getting exhausting (seeing a trend here!). Many of you subscribed, and 3 years later, you’re still reading. As a result, many of our friends and family are still following along on my journey. I’m flattered that you care enough or are interested enough in reading after all of this time. Writing is my catharsis, and clearly, has been since I was 8 or 9 years old. But now I grapple with the whole public/private thing. I look at it this way – this is my place to share my thoughts, fears, desires, hopes, and plans. I have carte blanche to write whatever I want about myself. When I am writing about others, I try to be responsible and respectful. If it is something really personal, I ask permission first.

My point is that my intention is not to overshare or be an “open book,” but rather, this serves as my diary or a tracking of my life. Someday, I want to write a book. I have a lot of things to say (clearly) and now I have a record of my thoughts.

I actually do not want to overshare. There is usually a reason I write what I write here or on social media. I don’t write haphazardly. For example, I posted an article on Facebook about Ted’s fire simply so his friends (and mine) would know. It wasn’t meant to exploit or seek attention. It was merely informational.

Anyhow, time to get back to work!

Day #1 of the rest of our lives

So, Ted and I live together. Done.

Last night around 4:30am I couldn’t sleep so I went downstairs to surf the web and listen to a podcast. I texted Ted an article and then I heard him walking down the stairs. He was wide awake too. I think our overloaded brains got the best of us both. So, we spent the next hour talking through stuff.

I got a tiny sense of what it’s like to live with Ted. Basically, I don’t have to be alone with my thoughts anymore. I can talk them out with him. It’s pretty amazing. I had plans for drinks tonight and then a board meeting. I had to say no to both. I’m wiped out. I’ll have dinner with Ted and then, hopefully, I’ll pass out.

I’m not happy with how it happened, but I’m happy it happened. In a few weeks we’ll move into our new home and start fresh. Then we buy a house, get married, and literally live happily ever after.

I’m good with that!

24 hours

Ted and I usually speak on the phone each night around 9pm, after the kids are asleep and we’re getting ready for bed. We can often hear the other brushing our teeth or gargling water. We say “goodnight, sleep well, and I love you.” In the morning I usually wake up to some sort of “good morning” text since he is an early riser.

This morning I set my alarm for 9:30am so I could get a full night’s rest without the “snoring or cat walking on me at 2am” as I said to Ted. Instead I awoke to my phone ringing just before 9am. I thought it was one of the bridal shops calling to confirm today’s appointments as I am in NJ visiting my folks to go dress shopping.

It wasn’t. It was Ted. I saw the missed call and immediately dialed his number, glancing at my phone which had a flurry of mixed calls and texts from Ted & one of the kids.

Ted told me there was a fire in his apartment last night. In fact, he texted me around 3:30am to mention the upstairs neighbor’s dogs were running around barking. The next text came an hour later asking me to call him when I woke up.

The kids and Ted – and his neighbor & the dogs – all got out before the fire spread. Ted’s place mostly has water damage but we don’t know yet to what extent. He was able to get a few things and he’s now at my condo, which is now our condo.

Fortunately there are a few 2 bedroom apartments available at my new complex so we’re switching to one of those. Ted and I are officially living together. We wish it wasn’t on these terms. But I’m happy I can provide a roof over his head.

Mom, dad, and I still went wedding dress shopping, and I said “yes to a dress!” It’s very pretty and I feel good in it. We purchased it at The Curvy Bride in Manalapan, NJ. That place was amazing! Gorgeous gowns, wonderful staff, and the owner was amazing – a kindred spirit.

Lots of changes in 24 hours. What have I learned? When you love someone, you take on their stresses. My heart hurts for Ted and the kids, but I will work hard to help replace items, and salvage what we can. Those three are book lovers so we will need to work on rebuilding their library. We’ll get Ted new clothes. We’ll replace their legos. Most importantly, they’re going to be ok. ❤️

Ups, ups, and some downs

Today was one of those days that really played upon my emotions. I had some good experiences, like a phone call with a friend and dinner with Ted. I dropped off my bankers checks for the deposit for my new home… As temporary as it may be, and I have a chance to meet the staff who manage the complex where I’m moving. They were a very nice group that said I can come by and visit anytime when I’m feeling lonely working from home! But they were pockets of shitty as well, if I may be so bold.

Without getting into the weeds, I will just say that the gossip mill hit me today, and it reminded me of six grade, when one of the mean girls in my class would decide to gang up on one person each day. I guess today was my day. I have low tolerance for any of that these days. I think once my mom got sick and I met Ted, my perspective on life really changed. I try not to sweat the small stuff the way I used to. I worked really hard to develop a thicker skin, but it’s tough when you’re a sensitive soul. I tend to feel very betrayed when I hear that I may be talked about behind my back. It is my Achilles’ heel… Achilles back? 🙂

Anyhow, I don’t wanna give it any more energy. I’ve vented about it to my mom and Ted, and that should be enough. I will admit that I did get home from dinner and ransacked my disarray of a linen closet for my anti-anxiety pills. I don’t take them very often, but I did decide that I needed to take one tonight to help me get a good nights sleep and not ruminate about things that I really don’t have any control over. What I do have control over is my ability to let it go. Cue the Disney music right now.

So, I said my peace, and now I get to focus on the positive. my new apartment is less than 10 minutes away from Ted’s apartment! People keep asking me why I don’t just move in with Ted. He needs to stay in his apartment because the kids go to school in that town, but he cannot have any pets. So I am moving close to him into a place that allows pets. It will be nice to be nearby! It takes us one step closer to being married. Tonight we looked at our wedding list, which I want to remind everyone is going to be rather small. We are hopeful that will be able to invite guests beyond our immediate family and close friends.

My apartment closing is April 5, and the mortgage contingency for the buyer is March 12, so that is the big day for me to determine if everything is going to go through. We started looking at some houses last weekend just to get a sense of what is out there. A lot more properties are coming on the market now, which is promising. That’s pretty much it for today’s update. I’m heading to New Jersey on Saturday to see my parents for the first time since September, and mom and I will be going to look at wedding dresses on Sunday! Very exciting!

Sidenote: if you notice a lot of typos in my posts, I’m realizing that I’m using a new iPad and I need to retrain it to understand my voice. I usually speak into the iPad to get these thoughts out, so I might miss some of the typos.

24 hours later

It’s been almost a full day since I was up all night. I talked through my stresses with Ted, my mom, and a few colleagues who encouraged me to eliminate the burden I felt last night. I realize that I was the recipient of someone else’s frustrations. It wasn’t fair to take it out on me.

I’m in the midst of signing my lease while also signing the P&S tomorrow for my condo sale. My body and brain ache. I had hidden my extra medication for my open houses and just ransacked my closest trying to remember where I put them. I hate how I can’t find anything in my apartment. By this time next year, I’ll be married and in my own home so I just need to keep channeling that.

I took some Tylenol pm tonight, which I stopped taking months ago, so hopefully it’ll help me rest. I want to be at my best for work, as today my boss and I spoke with a $1 million prospective donor so that felt great. At least I love the work that I do!

Thanks for all of the support privately & publicly. It means a lot and really helps. 🥰

3:45am thoughts

Not much good happens when you’re awake at 3am. My cat woke me for her middle of the night feeding, which to her, is like breakfast. Usually I can fall back asleep but not tonight…today?

I’m still saddened over a woman I know ranting about me (no name, phew!) on her FB page because I was vaccinated. She seems to think I should have refused the shots and left them for people in need. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work that way. We communicated privately about it but it still doesn’t remove the sting. I am apparently a terrible person for accepting the offer. I understand where she’s coming from and want to be sympathetic, but it pains me that I hurt someone that I thought was a friend.

And I made the mistake of looking at the comparable sales of condos while mine is still in process with the buyer. I have no idea if she will back out or if she can back out or when the deal is done. I found an apartment to move into, but if I sign a lease, and the sale falls, then I am stuck with a mortgage and a lease. Throughout this process, I’ve been blamed for any problems that I’ve happened and I’ve had to spend hours driving around with my cat because I haven’t been allowed in my home.

On social media, everything can look rosy but in reality, it’s all quite stressful. These are the thoughts that are ruminating in my head at 3:46 AM on a Monday. It feels like a domino effect like if one thing goes wrong, everything will fall. It feels like a tremendous amount of pressure. And now I know that I’m gonna be exhausted at work tomorrow, and I have a big meeting with a prospective donor. I will push through, like I always do, but inside I will be stressed.

There are a lot of rumors going around about how it feels to get your second vaccination shot. For me, I had a bit of a headache and a very sore arm for about 24 hours. I did not sleep well on the night that I got my shot, but it may just have been my usual insomnia. My general advice is to take it easy the day after your shot and then you should be fine.

I wish I knew how to self soothe right now. Writing here helps to get my thoughts out, but then what? I’ve been listening to podcasts, playing games on my iPad-my usual ways to distract my thoughts. But they don’t seem to be working tonight.

I wonder how I’ll feel in the morning. I do know that I will drink a lot of coffee to get through the day. Even the anticipation of getting through the day is stressing me out!

I learned a lesson this weekend. Sometimes you have to keep things to yourself, even if you’re incredibly relieved and joyful about it. At the same time, it’s OK to be vulnerable And admit if you made a mistake. I also think it’s really important that we try to put ourselves in other people shoes to understand why they may react a certain way. You never know what someone is going through. That’s the problem with social media. It just gives us one quick snapshot, and doesn’t give the full picture.

I’m trying to think of a way to end this post on a positive note. I don’t wanna go back and read this later and regret sharing my thoughts. I do know that I’m grateful for Ted. I wish that we didn’t live 45 minutes apart so we could see each other more often, and I’m hoping that I will be able to go ahead with the sale of my condo and move into the apartment that is five minutes down the road from his place. It feels like it will be an important chapter in our life together. Whether it is this buyer or another one, I will get there and will be one step closer to the next chapter.

Vaxxed

I got my second Covid-19 vaccination shot today so I’m officially vaxxed! My parents get their second shots next week, and then I’m heading for a visit. For those keeping track, it’s been about 7 hours since my shot and my arm is sore, I’m tired, and I have a slight headache. Nothing outrageous but I did climb into bed to rest.

My condo is under agreement so with everything going smoothly, I’ll close in early April and move into temporary housing until we buy a house.

Probably the best thing about today, besides the getting my shot, is that I found a wedding dress website that was having a very big sale! I ordered two dresses in the hopes that one works. Otherwise, I have two dress shopping appointments coming up with my parents in New Jersey. The most important thing is that I want to feel good about myself that day!Probably the best thing about today, besides the getting my shot, is that I found a website that sells wedding dresses that was having a very big sale! I ordered two dresses in the hopes that one works. Otherwise, I have two dress shopping appointments coming up with my parents in New Jersey. The most important thing is that I want to feel good about myself that day – from the inside out!

That is all the news from today! Wishing my family and friends in Texas warmth, electricity, and freshwater. I hate seeing the photos of what has happened there. Be well.

Life Beyond Covid

Amongst of flurry of unsettling dreams as of late, I had a night of dancing, singing, and celebrating in some random street with no masks and a crowd of fellow humans, all basking in the post-Covid joy. What a delightful dream!

It got me thinking. Will we be so grateful for some normalcy once the majority of us are vaccinated that we’ll stop taking freedom for granted? Will people be kinder to each other simply because we’re so happy to be out of our houses and our kids are back in school? I want to imagine a world like that, where we cool it on the road rage, we smile a bit more at each other, and we ALL hold the elevator for someone when they are running towards a closing door. Now that’s a world I can live in. Granted, many people do these things already, but wouldn’t it be cool if the majority of us did this on a regular basis? (I can’t expect the psychopaths and sociopaths to join in).

I imagine there will be some kindness at first, but if my instincts are correct, we’ll probably return to our old ways. We’re creatures of habit, after all (one a jerk, always a jerk?). I definitely think those of us who lost loved ones to Covid-19 will never be the same, though. My friend lost her dad. My cousin lost his sister-in-law. We lost so many celebrities – Broadway legends, writers, musicians, actors, and we lost even more everyday, regular people. That may cloud some of our joy, rightfully so.

But I still want to believe in the best of us. Food will taste just a bit tastier eaten at a restaurant amongst friends, theatrical performances will be even more enthralling in a theater, and the word “zoom” will go back to being something a child says when they wheel a toy car around their living room floor.

I am going to do my best to be better to everyone out there, and I hope you will too.

Back Home (for now)

Nermal and I returned home yesterday, and it’s so good to be here, even if it is temporary. Today I await the results of all of this effort on the part of me and my realtor (and team) as offers are due today at 1pm, and we’ll review them at 4pm. In the meanwhile, I’ve started looking online for temporary housing for me and Nermal until Ted and I find a house. My hope is to find temporary housing close to Ted’s apartment (he can’t have pets there) so we can see each other more often. We were both a little giddy on the phone last night at the thought of being able to see each other every day.

We’re on #304 (give or take) snowstorm this winter. The snow DOES look pretty as it falls, but you know – you go outside and it turns brown quickly from the cars, shoes, and nature outside. Still, I’m sitting inside my home, watching it fall, and it does look peaceful. The cat is sound asleep on my spot on the couch, so she’s happy. When we got home last night, she walked over to her carrier, hissed at it, and walked off. Clearly we know how she feels about being moved about!

We have a new VP at work so today I have a “coffee” with him and 2 colleagues. He is rumored to be excited about the program I am creating, so that’s a good thing. It’s been a slow start for it to get momentum during Covid, but I’ve been starting to develop some nice relationships with people that I hope will become donors over time. I do love working for a medical center, especially one that has created one of the vaccinations about to come onto the scene. I had absolutely nothing to do with it, but I still feel a collective sense of pride when I fundraise for the lab. I am excited when friends tell me they had their babies at our hospital. And recently, I learned of someone’s life being saved from her cancer surgery. I can relate, as I am indebted to MSK for saving mom’s life. I can relate to them, and so, I feel like I am paying it forward. I’m also doing some pro bono volunteer work – including giving a presentation to teens on philanthropy. I look forward to a time when I can become a professional consultant (maybe in 15 years or so) and devote my time to helping small nonprofits in need.

It’s good to feel excited about my work. I don’t talk about it much these days because I have so much else going on, but if you’ve known me for a long time, you may have known that my work used to occupy most of my waking hours. And you may recall that I used to get bronchitis at least once or twice a year, namely from all of the stress! I refuse to let it occupy my time the same way anymore. I have other priorities as well, though it is still very important to me.

Ok, everyone, cross your fingers, toes, and various body parts (keep it clean) that I get some good offers on my condo!

Strength

So many stories and blog posts have been swirling in my brain. Covid vaccinations. Selling my home. Isolation and loneliness. Post-Covid life. As I sit here with my laptop, I’m watching my cat, Nermal, fight her sleep. Every time her eyelids shut, they quickly pop open and she sees me watching her. I whisper, “It’s ok. Go to sleep. Rest, Nermal.” She tucks her little paws under her belly and closes her eyes. Then, alas, I see her wide-eyed again. When you think about it, she’s using her strength and determination to stay awake. It may be from fear of being vulnerable, it may be from not wanting to miss out on the action around her, but it does, in a way, come from her strength.

I too have been digging deep into my core for strength these days. It’s been tough, a I’ve experienced some major feelings of loneliness and isolation these past few weeks as I move from temporary home to temporary home as I work to sell my condo. Listen, I intellectually know I’m not alone. I have Ted, my parents and family, his parents and family, friends….but physically, I’m alone. Ted’s coworker was exposed to Covid, so he’s treading lightly until he gets the green light. My parents and I are all in the process of being vaccinated – each have had 1 shot, so after our 2nd, we’ll gather. Ted’s folks are in FL. And my friends have their own lives to live and their own families to handle right now. So, it is me and Nermal.

Over the last few weeks my friends lent me their ski condo in New Hampshire, and for a weekend, it is perfect – quaint, comfortable, and in the middle of the White Mountains. But for an extrovert like myself, it got very lonely, very quickly. When the heat stopped working, it provided an opportunity for me to head home. But home doesn’t feel like home anymore. It was professionally staged and it contains new items that aren’t my style and aren’t mine. My stuff is crammed into closets, drawers, and boxes in the basement. I’m living out of my big blue suitcase right now and dragging trash bags full of Nermal’s things – litterbox, scratching chair, food, toys, etc to hotels. We’re now staying in downtown Boston at a fancy hotel, only affordable to me because of Covid-19 at less than $100 a night (excluding cat fees, parking, food etc). Trust me, it adds up quickly! This weekend there are 3 open houses so I hope & pray we get some decent offers.

Last night, I left Nermal in the safety of my hotel room and took a walk to Newbury Street in Boston to get some takeout. As I walked down the street, I had flashbacks pop up: my internship at the Miller Block Gallery, the Trident Cafe & Book Store, changing storefronts, and delicious brunches at Stephanie’s. Many stores were closed due to Covid, and I felt a sense of sadness to think about what will happen when life opens up again. I commented to the front desk employee that I felt a sadness about what our post-Covid world may look like. She clapped back and said she refused to believe that things won’t pick up – “they just have to!” she said, and I promised her I’d come down the next morning (today) with a more positive outlook. I had to do it for her. I knew I could find that strength to help a fellow person out!

My therapist pointed something out to me this week. She reminded me that I’ve been through tougher things than this and that it will all be ok. We also agreed that I need to take “bite sized” pieces of life right now to get through. So, right now, we’re focused on getting through Monday, when I can return home. After we’re all done with vax, I’m going to NJ and mom & I will go wedding dress shopping together. We need to find these moments of joy these days.

While I wrote this blog post, Nermal heard a sound in the hallway of the hotel and she squeezed herself into the tiny front section of the king-sized bed under the headboard. And she just popped out, bravely. She is strong, and so am I!

Stepping into our life together

This morning, I packed up the car and drove to my friends condo in Waterville Valley New Hampshire, where I’m staying while my realtor and I sold my condo outside of Boston. As I drove away from my place, I felt a lot of joy. Last night, Ted and the kids came over for dinner, and I just feel good about this family that we created. Ted is really good to me, and I genuinely enjoy spending time with the kids. They are good boys and quite entertaining! I feel fortunate. There are times when I feel nervous, but I really feel good about the decision that we need to get married.

I think the hardest part was taking Nermal out of her environment. But she seems to be doing OK at the condo, especially since she’s here with me. I brought her favorite toys and things that she’s used to, which I think helps.

The poor cat was crying occasionally in the car ride…the longest car ride she’s ever had… So I took pop songs that showed up on my Pandora feed, and added her name into each song. So for example, instead of Tom Petty’s chorus, “hey, baby I won’t back down,” I would sing, “hey, Nermal, I won’t back down.” Despite my terrible singing voice, she would stop crying when I would sing her name. As my mother says, I have a “permanent infant” who wakes me up for middle of the night feedings! In someways, it gives me a purpose. OK, I know I have purpose, but you know what I mean.

It’s 8 PM and I am exhausted! Thanks to everyone for their support, I will keep you up-to-date on the selling/buying experience.

The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

It’s Inauguration Day! Joe Biden is now our 46th President! We can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

I was at the dentist’s office this morning and I described to the assistant my “alternate universe” theory via Back to the Future II when Biff (based upon Donald Trump, BTW) was President and the world was off track. I still feel like we’ve been living in an alternate universe the past 4 years, between the Trump presidency, Covid-19, and the unrest in our world. I just saw a photo of my friend’s baby wearing a Kamala Harris onesie, and thought about what the world has in store for this 9-month old cutie. She’ll never know what we went through these past 4 years but will likely hear firsthand from her mother how she was born during a pandemic while we had a tyrant for a president. She’ll be like Ted’s kids, who only know a post-9/11 world with the rigorous airport security that has become our norm.

I also found out today that I’ll be getting my vaccination soon because of the nature of my job being patient facing. I am relieved but also wish Ted and the kids could get it soon too. And what about my parents, who are both immunocompromised and older (no offense to mom who reads this). Good for me, but what about the others?

Fortunately, my stress has subsided a bit since Monday although I haven’t slept well because my poor cat is stressed and full of hairballs (cue the piles of puke I find in the morning). Her world is shaken because we’re preparing my condo for sale. Remember the comment I wrote a while back that Ted made about the 1200 sq feet of my condo are her world. Her world is also being shaken up. She is lying peacefully on the couch beside me as I write this. I am doing my best as her caretaker to keep her comfortable.

Well, that is all for now. Congrats to President Biden and Vice President Harris!

Last Dance

It’s President Trump’s final full day in office. While he is publicly silent due to a social media ban, I imagine he’s busy behind the scenes pardoning people and tweaking laws before he goes. He is said to be heading to Mar-a-lago, his club in southern Florida, but my understanding is that there is a no residency law in Palm Beach that his neighbors generated years ago. If I were him, I’d flee the US and never look back!

I’m also embarking on my last dance in my condo. I’m busy getting it ready to be staged to sell. My realtor is posting a “coming soon” to local realtors today, and it will be live on February 1st. By then, I will be settled in at my friend Heather’s condo in Waterville Valley, NH, where she has graciously offered for me to stay with Nermal while my condo is shown and hopefully sold. I’m looking at it as a staycation while working. I think a change of scenery will help. I’m also contemplating booking a long weekend down south – somewhere sunny and warm – because my depression is flaring up right now due to the cold and dark. It’s like clockwork. I go through this every year. Last night was the worst. I cried for about an hour – sobbing – and then my face was so dry and my eyes hurt. I took a hot shower and felt better. I woke up this morning to see Nermal by my side, and it helps.

I’ll continue to remind my friends and family who read this. I’m in the midst of some of the biggest life stress right now – good things, but regardless, stressful – and I ask you to be gentle with me. My time isn’t my own right now – when I am not asleep, I am working or packing or cleaning or planning. I haven’t had a lot of down time and as a result, I’m drained. Be kind.

January Blues

Like clockwork, come January, my depression & anxiety are always escalated. This year I’m trying to tackle it with vitamin D and a “happy” light plus snuggles with Nermal when she allows it. Oh yeah, and snuggles with Ted too 🙂

Throw in a pandemic, planning a wedding, selling a condo, and still getting sea legs at my job….and it’s chaos in my brain. Oh, and did you hear the one when the Neo-Nazis stormed the Capital and our President basically egged them on.

It’s enough to make us all have the January Blues!

This is the time to focus on self care. I just got a new iPad, so it’s been fun setting that up. I’m working hard to get my condo ready for staging & photos, so it’s nice to declutter. I’m trying to be gentle on myself with my job, too.

As they say, this too shall pass.

Happy 2021!

Happy new year! I think it is pretty safe to say that most of us are happy that 2020 is now behind us. As I’ve said before, 2020 wasn’t so bad for me as I got engaged! And, my mom finished her latest round of chemo, and seems to be doing fairly well managing this chronic illness that she unfortunately contracted.

I’m officially on my “sell my condo” mission, concurrently working with a stager, Painter, realtor, and fiancé! I am looking forward to the next chapter, which is living with Ted and the kids. I went over there today to see them, and I just enjoy my time with the three of them. We didn’t do anything special, just had dinner and I watched them play video games.

On my way home, I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some fun food items to cook tomorrow for an early celebration for Ted’s birthday, which is on Monday. On Monday, the four of us will have dinner together. And this is my family. No one said you had to give birth to kids to feel like they are part of you. The love I feel for them and Ted is very deep.

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful weekend and happy new year!