When pulling an all nighter is not what it use to be

I love my creative side. Sometimes my creative side and my type-A personality obsessive planner side get together a couple times a month when I have scheduled photography days out to create new content for my photography business. I never really thought of this as a thing until I did an internet quiz to find what type of photographer I should be. It was spot on. Just incase it was generic BS I read the other types. They were so not me at all. I hate admitting it, but the internet quiz was right.

I plan my days out. I scout for a place with a purpose in mind. I choose particular times of year or times of the day. I actually have a notebook with brainstorm ideas of locations/subjects with notes. I have folders with information, books I have read in research, and links saved in folders on my laptop. It’s what I do.

If things don’t work out as I planned to get the shots I want I’ll regroup and try again until I get it. I brave bad weather, long travel days, early mornings and late nights. I get insect bites, bee stings, sunburns, scratches, scrapes and sprains. To most people it seems insane. But when I get that perfect shot…I know it was all worth it.

I’m not a photoshop photographer. I believe in taking the shot not faking the shot. I’ll crop, change the tone and adjust the color to brighten or soften the shot. But it’s always the same shot. I think people do amazing things in photoshop, but it just isn’t for me. I think it’s because I learned on film and back then we didn’t have the option to take a crappy shot and fix it later. You had to take a good shot to begin with.

Either way, everyone needs an outlet. It may be sports, binging tv, gardening, woodworking, cooking or something entirely different. Especially now as we creep our way out of the pandemic. If you have not found your peace keep trying new things. You never know when something will stick.

When a “day off” not really an actual day of rest

At some point “days off” work didn’t actually become a restful day to recuperate from work and enjoy life but they became just more work. It starts slow. You do your laundry, get groceries or run a few errands but easily have time to hit happy hour, grab lunch with a friend and catch a movie or go to the park with your family. My life has not been like that in some time now. It makes me wonder what happened? I see photos on Facebook of people out doing all kinds of things but not me. I always seem to be busy. Now, I’m not saying that I never get out, because I do. Just not as often as most other people.

I knew I was busy but I didn’t really understand until a few days ago. I took a day off of work so my husband could go to the dentist. He would not be done in time to get the kids off the bus so I took the day off of work. Now, my thought was I have a lot of things I need to get caught up for my photography business on so I’ll just get up like I’m going to work and pop open my laptop in the living room and get some work done. 13 hours later I finally got caught up…kinda. I still have more to do. There is always more to do.

Now I’m behind on my blog posts. How did this happen? Well…I have been busy. We are behind at work so there has been a lot of overtime. We had several people quit to take care of their kids when the schools did not reopen in the fall. No one has applied for those open jobs in almost a year now. Because we have been working short staffed we now have 4 people out injured (I will be joining them briefly when I have my carpal tunnel surgery after the kids are back in school). All of these vacancies have now brought us to the point that we have been opening for Saturday appointments for the last 3 months to try to catch up and now this month we are opening in the evenings too. So in an effort to be a team player I have been working from 7:30AM-7:30PM 4 days a week and 7:30-5 on Fridays. My coworker has been working 6 days a week taking the Saturdays since she works from 8:30-5 on weekdays. Add in my kids, photography business, household chores and getting up at 4:30 AM to get to the gym (that just opened on June 15th) before work and I am one busy, exhausted woman.

So I started looking at those relaxed, refreshed people out enjoying life all the time and wondered what they have in common. What are they doing (or not doing) that allows them to just chill out? With 1 exception the thing they all have in common is lack of a job. They have someone else providing the money they live on. About half have a minimal gig they do from selling something from a MLM of some sort or teaching an occasional class on something. By minimal I’m talking 1-2 days a week for about 2 hours actually working. Something to give them something to do. All have teenage or older kids. Only one had a full time job but her kids are grown and out of the house and no grandkids yet.

This made me realize that I’m not being fair to myself. I’m not comparing apples to apples. These women are not gone from the home almost 70 hours a week commuting or at work. Most days I’m commuting or at work for 15 of the 24 hours in a day. 9 hours to sleep, shower and go to the gym. No wonder I look exhausted. The 6 hours of sleep I get a night keeps me functional but not relaxed and refreshed. Makeup? What’s that? I’m lucky to just have clean laundry for everyone and groceries in the house (that I have delivered because I do not have time to shop). I’m not one of these women. I will not be one of them until my kids are grown and I’m retired. So until that point, I am ok and doing pretty good managing it all like so many others out there. The apples can stay apples. I’m ok being an orange. Maybe someday soon I can pull it all together for a day at the beach…

Happiness and Pandemic Fatigue

Those who know me know I am really struggling with what is being called “Pandemic fatigue.” As an essential worker in healthcare I had pandemic fatigue before the first shutdown order in March. I had pandemic fatigue by the end of February. People had lost their damn minds. Honestly, all logic was completely obliterated from existence. I saw people walking around in full hazmat suits (and still do)… Minus the oxygen tanks. I have seen people doing completely moronic things like covering every bit of exposed skin with hand sanitizer. Not just their hands, but arms, legs, neck, face and some even started to cover their shoulders and bellies and places accessible without exposing their parts that would be covered by a swimsuit. I even have seen people wiping down their purses with it and even a paper back novel pages and all. Cleaning the PAGES of a book with wet hand sanitizer, the dry paper pages with wet hand sanitizer. This was all prior to the first shutdown and it has just gotten worse. All Logic, common sense and thought processes seem to have gone away in the blink of an eye.

We are now entering our 11th month of lockdowns here in California and I am so beyond over it it is exhausting. I have no idea why I have not snapped yet. At least once a day, every day someone asks me if something is clean right after I cleaned it right in front of them. For example I’ll be cleaning a chair, arms, seat and back right in front of a patient and they are standing there watching me do it. I then tell them they can sit down and they ask me “Are you sure this is clean? because I don’t want to get sick now.” (Look Moron. You just watched me clean it right in front of you and the room reeks of alcohol and my hands are so dry from all the cleaning that you can see my fingerprints.) I don’t say any of what I am thinking as I am totally rolling my eyes at them. I just simply respond, “Yes, it’s clean.” and sigh…again.

At least once a week I get someone in who is so fearful of covid that they refuse to touch anything or let anyone touch them. Ok people. I work in healthcare. If whatever your issue is could be taken care without actually examining you, then this would be a video visit instead of an in person one. If I can’t get the patients to be reasonable and let me do my job in a couple minutes then I pass them back their registration slip with our reception desk phone number written on the bottom and tell them to go back to the receptionist and get a refund then call us back to reschedule when they are comfortable leaving the house and being around people. I have no idea how these people think they are going to get an exam and treatment without touching anything or anyone.

I don’t just struggle with dealing with the public on a daily basis but I struggle even more with the loss of everything I look forward to. I am a goal person. I set a goal and I work toward it a little bit at a time. I also need something fun to look forward to on the horizon to keep me going when the times get hard. This pandemic has canceled ALL of my plans. Every single thing I was looking forward to from my son’s preschool graduation and first day of kindergarten to my husband’s 40th birthday trip to Hawaii. It has stolen my trip to the northern lights. It has canceled many girls days with friends for mani-pedis and a long lunch full of laughing until my face hurts. It has stolen moments I will never get a chance to celebrate again. With my oldest child as a severely disabled child I missed many of these moments with him and was looking forward to being able to share them with my younger child. But those are now gone forever.

The 40th birthday trip in Hawaii that we talked about doing 5 years ago…Yeah gone. I know we can go again later sometime but it isn’t the same. Having traveled shortly after 9-11, major hurricanes and other disasters I know that travel after a major event really sucks. Yes, you are excited to get out and as a traveler you are thrilled and excited to move beyond the depressing life at home. Well, touristy places are hit REALLY hard when disaster strikes and while I know the people who work in tourism are thanking you for being there supporting them because they were hit so hard by the (insert disaster here) As a tourist I do not want to hear the doom and gloom every time I go anywhere and do anything. It can be as simple as going out to eat…The taxi driver taking you to your destination tells you his tales of woe, followed by the tales from the hostess as you wait for your table, the bartender when you try to escape by going to the bar, the wait staff as they take your order, the staff that bring you your food…literally every step along the way for every single thing you do for the entire trip no matter how mundane you hear the tales of woe. Then if you do a tour or trip of some kind you hear the sob story just before they mention the tip jar. I don’t want to be rude and I’m glad I can help stimulate the economy but if I wanted to listen to this crap I could just turn on the news at home…for free. I am on holiday to get away from all of that. I also do not need to be reminded about the tip jar. I tip and I tip well. But the sob story followed by the mentioning of the tips makes me really not want to leave one because it could have been a great tour but you just ended it on a crappy, depressing note and while you are still living your daily life full of all of its issues, I am here to try to escape mine. So, while I am looking forward to traveling post-covid, I am also dreading it.

With everything going on, I have had to rethink the way I do everything, sometimes several times. I can no longer go to the gym to workout before work because it is closed. I can’t go outside for a walk because it is freezing or barely above it in the mornings and totally dark outside. With our current stay at home order we are not even allowed to go for a walk in certain areas. Beaches and parks are again closed. Zoos are closed. Everything is closed. This is leading to a lot of trial and error… in everything. It is very frustrating. You may decide to take the kids to the zoo on the weekend on Wednesday as you look ahead to the weekend then Friday the Governor announces they they all have to close effective midnight Friday night. You already got reservations and tickets for the next day. You already told the kids and they are excited to see the giraffes. But, it has now been determined that going to an outdoor zoo at 25% capacity is too dangerous so now your plans are canceled…Again. Everything needs reservations but you can’t plan anything in advance because the rules change so frequently. It is infinitely frustrating, especially if you are trying to entertain young kids that don’t understand why they can’t go to school or the playgrounds or anywhere when you use to go places all the time.

I try not to let it get me down. It is difficult. I have good days where I try hard and things go well and other days where no matter what I do everything seems to go wrong and everything seems so difficult. One thing is certain… I do not do well when everything is closed. Honestly, I don’t understand why everything is closed…again. It isn’t like our positivity or death rates are so far off places that are open that it shows that this is the answer. In fact we are smack dab in the middle surrounded by states that are open. Are the closures saving lives in this pandemic? Actually the statistics show that the overall human fatality rate overall is pretty much about the same as it has been the last 10 years. So that tells me if these people didn’t die from covid they probably would have died from something else anyway. So why are we closed? Why are people starving and loosing their homes and businesses? Why is it ok to let our children fail and not get educated? Why is it ok for our children to miss out on normal rites of passage like prom and graduation? Since when did living so isolated become something we do to our loved ones? Almost every grandma I have talked to would rather see her loved ones and spend time with them even if it means a shorter life than live longer in isolation from everyone they care about.

My Mom has told her grandkids repeatedly that this is not normal. Don’t let anyone tell you this is normal. This is no way to live a life. Saying they are doing it to protect us (the grandparents) is a lie. You tell anyone who gives you crap about it when they talk about things opening and going back to normal as killing grandma that your grandma volunteers to be the one to die if it means that her kids and grandkids can live a normal life attending events, going to school, having holiday together and celebrating birthdays together. You tell them that your grandma would rather die than live in isolation.

Words from my mom. (This grim sentiment is also why I make a point to take the kids to see my parents every weekend and call to talk to my parents at least once mid-week. It’s hard when I work full time and have a million other things to do but I make the time.)

I have heard similar sentiment from many of my elderly patients as well… I know I am burnt out and exhausted from this, but our elderly that was are supposedly protecting are straight up pissed off. I have a co worker that is nearing retirement and she has gone to Vegas every year for her birthday with her husband for as long as she can remember. Her kids will not let her go. She was so sad about it. Here she is going to work every day just 2 years shy of retirement but her kids will not let her go to Vegas. I told her they are not the boss of you. She doesn’t live under their roof and she should just go. After all my parents are in their 70’s and they just went to Vegas a few months ago for their anniversary.

The point is to LIVE your life not to just exist. There is a reason why we punish people by locking them into jail. You take away their freedoms and isolate them from their loved ones as punishment. So why are we doing this to our loved ones? Why are we punishing them? Why are we punishing ourselves?

I need to see the logic in things. I can suck it up and do difficult things if I can see the logic in it later. I can watch what I eat and exercise if I feel better, my clothes fit better and I loose weight. I can skip grabbing coffee in the mornings, going out to lunch on workdays, having cable TV and shop the sales because I know those savings can then be saved up to allow us the money to travel somewhere. I can do something difficult for months or years at a time if I can see the logic and the progress and see the good it is doing. I do not see the good here. I do not see the advantage. I see elderly receiving end of life care unable to see their families over fear of the virus. I don’t know about you, but if it was me I would rather spend 6 quality months with my friends and family at the end of my life laughing and spending time with those that I care about than spend a year isolated from them to keep me safe.

When I open social media I don’t want to see businesses closing, people starving and struggling to make it. I don’t want to see people loosing their jobs just before Christmas. I don’t want to see people suffering. I want to see photos on Facebook of people I know traveling. I want to see the kids in Christmas pageants singing horribly and picking their noses on stage (that would be my son). I want to see families gathered together in celebrations of holidays, birthdays and graduations. I want to see weddings. I want to see Joy. I want to see humans laughing, loving and enjoying their lives.

I want things to go back to “normal”. I want to see friends laughing. I want to see families celebrating together. 2020 was hard for so many people. For many it was the worst year of their lives. In 2021 I want our lives back. I want peace, love and joy for everyone.

Kicking butt in 2021!

My coworker that I share an office with told me today that I’m super annoying. That may offend many people. But I wasn’t offended at all. Do you know why I’m annoying? I am getting stuff done and checking off my “to do” list items one after another. Apparently, that is really annoying to people who are not doing anything.

She said it’s like being trapped for 8 hours with a super peppy cheerleader. I told her in my defense… I was one in high school. I feel awesome so far this year (even though we are only a week in). I am getting stuff done. I am getting up and exercising before work every day. I am eating healthy. I am cleaning closets and purging old toys and books. I am organizing my business and revamping my social media strategy and website. I have a LONG to do list and I’m ticking off items one at a time.

Accomplishment is annoying. When did that happen? I find people who are smashing goals as inspiring. I see someone who lost 100 lbs in a year and is now wearing a sexy cocktail dress at their 50th birthday party as inspiring. Their smile is contagious. It makes me want to put down that cupcake and hit the dance floor! If someone overcomes obstacles and achieves greatness it’s inspiring, not annoying. That’s why they write books and make movies about things like that. But you know what all those people at the top have in common? They all had nay sayers in their lives who told them they couldn’t do it or that it was stupid or they were annoying and should just settle in like everyone else.

I don’t want to be like everyone else. A boring life of mediocrity sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. I have goals. I want to achieve things. I want to travel and see things and do things and inspire other people to rise up out of the muck and dare to be annoying. I hope to someday inspire others to do the things they dream of no matter what that dream is. They don’t need to be anything special or different to do great things they just need to try. Then if you fail regroup and try again. Keep trying and modifying and trying until one day you did it! Despite the nay sayers and the people who thought you were annoying.

I know some people are thinking about their dreams as they read this and think…yeah, right. That’s easy for you to say you have done so much already. Well, I started out with nothing…twice and rebuilt my life. Nothing was handed to me either time. In fact both beginnings were full of drama. Both times I had a job. My clothes, some personal stuff and that’s pretty much it. Both times I was super broke. Here I am now. I worked hard for everything I have achieved by doing what most people are not willing to do… work for it.

Who am I really? I’m a woman in my 40’s. I’m a mess. I’m overweight. I’m a wife and a mother to two little boys. I’m a special needs mom and a heart mom. I’m a working mom. I’m a photographer, an artist and a writer. I’m not anyone special. I’m just someone with goals and dreams who isn’t afraid of working hard to achieve them. If I can do it, you can be annoying to people around you and achieve amazing things as well.

Be annoying… Achieve great things in 2021.

My weight loss journey-the January push

I decided 2 months ago that January 4th $hit gets real and I put together all my rumblings and bad starts and struggles into a solid diet and exercise routine. I had a lot is struggles to overcome with stores being out of stock of items I wanted for my meal planning, gyms being closed, our garage being full of boxes for our Christmas decorations and the list goes on and on…

I knew there was going to be challenges. So I planned for it. I think I worked out most of the kinks now although, I’m sure I will face others as time goes on. Last night I did my meal prepping for breakfast and lunch. I put my workout gear out. I set my alarms. I made sure the garage was clutter free and ready to workout. I also made sure that the heater I plugged into the WiFi plug was on so it will actually turn on in the morning. (Seriously genius. I can even program it to come on automatically so it isn’t actually freezing at 5am when I’m in there trying to workout.)

I joined a DietBet to keep me on track and track my progress. Then yesterday my sister joined the extreme hip hop 90 day challenge. I like Phil’s step workouts and it was only $25 for 3 months so I joined too. I don’t plan on adding in the step workouts for a couple weeks but it’s ok. He only does workouts 4 days a week and I workout 5. I like to start them late so I always have new workouts.

So, you might wonder how today went? Well, it went great. I hit all my exercise goals. I need to find shoes that work well for rowing and I need a playlist with songs that have a good cadence for rowing as well. So that’s a kink, but not a bad one. My meal planning helped out when I was running late for work. I was hungry when I got home from work for sure but I still stayed in my calorie range. I still want to fit in yoga tonight after my kids go to bed. But overall, I think it’s a success.

Punk Rock!

20200110-DSC_0172Over the three day weekend I had a date day with my husband. Dates change a bit after you are married with kids. We went to see an “adult movie” (aka a movie that is not animated). The force was strong with us so we went to see Star Wars…at the 11 AM showing. Followed by a late lunch/early dinner and a few errands on the way home.

While we were on our way to the office supply store to pick up some address labels Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols came on the radio. We crank it up and sing along as we pull into the parking lot and score an awesome spot right in front. As we get out of the car a few people are staring at us as we walk in to get our address labels. I look at the two of us and could not feel less punk rock.

Once upon a time I had multi-color hair and enough piercings to set off the airport metal detector (yes, I actually set it off once flying home from Southern CA). I dated guys with real Mohawks in various colors, long hair, piercings and tattoos that were in bands. To those who knew me back then it’s no surprise that I married a musician. But he is a clean cut singer-songwriter with no piercings or tattoos. I’m the one with the tattoos and while I took out most of my piercings I kept a few.

Looking at the two of us I could not feel less punk rock rebellion as I’m wearing my denim jeans with no stains or holes, my deep red t-shirt top with button detailing and my comfy tennis shoes with my hair pulled back in a pony tail. I look at my hubby who is dressed similarly. We just got out of my plug in hybrid car. We live in a house in a nice neighborhood. What happened to our rebellious pasts back when we were, well I was cool?

We talked a lot on the way home with our address labels. We decided we are going to be crazy and rebel! We are NOT going to follow the GPS and will take the road less traveled (only to see it was a dead end and we had to go back over to where the GPS wanted us to go anyway). Maybe we should get his and hers Dr. Martins (I loved mine and wore them ever day when I backpacked through Europe). Maybe we should make it to a punk show this year. Maybe he should find some other special needs Dads that play instruments and they should a punk band…

In the end we went home. I made my labels and cursed at the printer that kept saying it wasn’t online while I could see it was clearly connected to the wifi. Then dropped off some more artwork at the gallery and found out another piece of mine sold. He stayed home and put on a movie for the kids.

So I may not be punk rock anymore. I may not be young. But I was cool once. I lived my life to the fullest and did lots of crazy and amazing things! While I am no longer the person I use to be, the person I am now isn’t so bad. I’m married to a great guy. I have two kids. I have a job that pays well. I have a creative outlet. My photography business is growing. I finished writing my first book…

Then again… Maybe I am still punk rock. After all, I’m not just existing and following typical societal rules. Sure I have the house, car, dog and 2 kids and a sensible wardrobe… but I married a significantly younger man. I’m a cougar. So what? I’m setting goals and achieving them. I’m going after my dreams. I’m breaking the rules and rediscovering myself in my 40’s. Im not just existing, I’m living! I’m creating art. I wrote a book. Who cares if I do it all in jeans and a t-shirt while wearing comfortable shoes and driving an ecologically conscious car? Damn it, I’m punk rock! (As long as I can be in bed by 10 PM)

Rock on people. Rock on.

(the photo was taken over the weekend at sunrise. I have been fascinated with the mist lately and braving the freezing temperatures to get some great photos as it rolls in at sunrise)

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan…

That is a typical saying in my home. I had this layout planned of all these topics that I was going to write about back in August and I totally failed. How did this happen?

We all have times where we make a plan and then fail to actually follow through with the plan. Sometimes it is outside of our control (like your flight getting canceled due to weather). Other times it’s 100% our fault (like you are late for everything).

I know it’s hard to accept the blame ourselves, but I’m going to do it. It’s all my fault. I’m a chronic overachiever and tend to stretch myself a bit too thin. I’m one of those people who honestly could use a few more hours in the day. Not to sleep, but to get more things done. Although, I could really use the sleep as well.

How does this happen? In my case I work full time at a job that has a 1+ hour commute each way so I’m gone from 6AM to 6PM every day Monday-Friday. As annoying as that is it’s actually not that uncommon. Then we add in that I have 2 small kids that need my attention when I’m not at work. Add in the usual chores like grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning ect. It’s already pretty busy.

Well, I’m an over achiever so I don’t stop there. I started this blog to help me get my life back on track and keep myself accountable. My goal was to write one post a week. Yeah, I’m still working on that goal.

Up next I missed having a creative outlet so I started doing photography again. Then on the encouragement of a friend I started entering photography contests and actually winning them. I was winning prizes and getting my photos featured in magazines and in galleries around the world. With all that I decided to start a photography business selling prints a year ago and developed a logo, portfolio website and website to sell prints. As if that wasn’t enough; About 6 months ago I joined the local Visual Arts Society and regularly have pieces in two of our local galleries. The shows change out every 6 weeks.

But all that wasn’t enough for me. I started traveling again this year. In May I went to San Diego for an educational conference. Then in September I went to Scotland on my first solo trip in years. I’m now planning on 3 trips for 2020 two with the hubby and one alone to teach at an educational conference in Las Vegas because oh yeah, I also decided to start teaching learning labs at conferences starting in October this year.

But wait! There’s more! I decided I’m going to write a book. Yep. For as long as I can remember people have been telling me that I should write a book. I feel that over the last year the universe has been dropping hints less subtly that I should write a book. So I am. My goal it to finish it by October 2020. I hoped to finish it by my 45th birthday in October 2019, but I didn’t make it so my goal is to be published before my 46th one.

So how do things get missed? Well, I feel like I’m one of those acrobats that spins all those plates on sticks. I keep adding more plates and sticks and sometimes I drop a plate and it takes me a little bit to get it spinning again. Why do I do this to myself? Who knows. I have been like this for as long as I can remember. I have always had a tight, full schedule. I carried a calendar in my backpack in Jr high and moved to a big day runner in high school that I used through college. I eventually went to an electronic planner (I loved my palm pilot). Now I use the calendar in my phone. I just keep spinning my plates.

The difference between my younger self and my older, wiser self is that now I allow a time buffer between things to allow for traffic or things running late. I usually plan on twice my travel time. So if my drive will take 15 minutes I allow 30. That usually helps to keep my plates from taking out other plates as they fall off their sticks.

So I’m not perfect. I try to juggle my own responsibilities, wants, needs and desires as well as the wants, needs and desires of my husband, children, friends and other family members. I occasionally drop plates since I tend to put myself as the last priority. But when those plates fall I try to regroup, shuffle things around and get them all spinning again.