Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.
It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States. Wednesday is one of the busiest travel days of the year over here, though people will be traveling in huge numbers all week.
It is hard to know which mode of transportation has the heaviest volume. Airports, trains, and roads are all packed. Traffic, in general, makes my travel anxiety shoot through the roof.
But I would take packed roads over a packed plane or packed train (having experienced all three) any day. One, the timing of my travel is more flexible in the car. Two, I can take breaks when I feel my blood pressure soaring. And three, it is possible to pull off the road for Twizzlers. If I had to rank them from worst to best, I would say planes, trains, and cars.
At any time of year, what is your least favourite mode of transportation?
Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.
November 23, 2015 32 Comments
I knew before I clicked over which island in the Chesapeake Mental Floss was referring to, though I sort of hoped that the magazine was mistakenly writing about Holland Island, which sank into the bay years ago, the final house collapsing recently into the water.
But no, they were writing about how climate change is sinking Smith Island, our family’s special spot. It is so beloved that we even named our car Smithie in homage. I have written about it many times. Many many times.
It hurts my heart to think about an entire place sinking away. We’re not talking about losing a specific building or not being able to return to a place (but knowing it still exists), but an entire island disappearing under the water. Once it is gone, there’s no way to fix it, no way to bring it back. We did this. We made this happen.
We changed the world with technology and industry, and in the end, we changed the world. We literally changed it. We changed the surface and all below the surface and the water and the coastlines and the mountains. We didn’t just change our day-to-day lives, but the spaces in which we conduct those day-to-day lives. And we changed it for every single creature on earth, not just ourselves.
And now we have islands disappearing underwater and mudslides and fires.
It’s a sobering thought: to consider your favourite town on earth gone, completely erased.
November 22, 2015 11 Comments
This has been a hard week to stomach social media and politics and opinions of the general public. It’s not that I haven’t observed disturbing statements on Facebook prior to this point, but I’ve been more disillusioned with politicians and citizens in general when it comes to discussion concerning the Syrian refugees.
These are people who have nothing, who have lost everything, who are terrified and uncomfortable and have been living with uncertainty for months or years or lifetimes, all because they were born in a certain place at a certain time. This could be you if you had been born to a different family.
None of us know how our lives will turn out; how current events will change our situation. It would behoove us to show compassion. When people show compassion, it is much more likely that compassion will be there waiting for you when you need it. If people withhold compassion, it perpetuates a system void of kindness.
I don’t know. I had to shut down Twitter and Facebook a few times this week, which rarely happens. Sometimes the conversation online saves me. But then there are weeks like this week where words harm more than help.
Stop procrastinating. Go make your backups. Don’t have regrets.
Seriously. Stop what you’re doing for a moment. It will take you fifteen minutes, tops. But you will have peace of mind for days and days. It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.
As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.
And now the blogs…
But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week. In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:
- “Circle Game” (Stirrup Queens) — thanks, Infertile Girl!
Okay, now my choices this week.
Searching for Our Silver Lining draws a parallel between the hatred displayed in Paris and tensions within her family. She writes, “One thing that continues to baffle is how insistent those who foster hate and anger are of their position. There’s a certain pride they take in causing destruction and pain, as if it somehow justifies their own feelings.” This idea of creating pain to justify their own pain stuck with me for a long time after reading this post.
Waiting for Baby Bray has a very raw post about hitting her lowest point and feeling broken. I love this post for its honesty. It takes a lot of strength to be able to write a post like this; to know yourself this well and to give this piece of yourself to others in case stating the words helps someone else, too.
My Path to Mommyhood has a post about mourning the finality of never being pregnant. It has been happening in stages, and reaching this recent level comes about from needing to make a decision about frozen embryos. She comes to a place of peace by the end of the post: “I will move through this, I will heal and not be split, no matter how infinitesimally, between the hope for a pregnancy and the reality and beauty of adoption as our best choice for parenthood.”
Lastly, Infertile Fantasies is in the process of donating her frozen embryos, and she writes about infertility from the other side this time as a donor. She writes about finding other donors, and what she is learning from the conversation: “We can tell you that embryo donation is harder than you think. And not always the right decision. And other times, despite the difficulties, it is.” Moreover, I love that she links to a decision tool. There needs to be more conversation, more consideration, more support in helping people decide what to do with their frozen embryos.
The roundup to the Roundup: I can’t handle reading what some people are sending out into the world. Your weekly backup nudge. And lots of great posts to read. So what did you find this week? Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between November 13th and 20th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week? Read the original open thread post here.
November 20, 2015 19 Comments
I’ve written a post like this every year, bringing together all the advice from the years before (my own and what appeared in the comment section) and then opening it up to additional ideas (which will be brought next year into the new post as well). Because this time of year can be both impossibly difficult or impossibly wonderful depending on which side of the happiness line you fall, and I say that even as a non-Christian who doesn’t need to do anything more than participate in a volunteer project and eat a bunch of candy canes on Christmas.
Holidays are a lot of pressure — to get them right, to coordinate schedules/needs/wants, to navigate relationships, to travel. For some people those pressures are additionally pressed down by the knowledge of people missing from the table — either those who were once here or those who haven’t been brought into your family yet. And compounding it all is this ongoing message that holidays must be fun! They must be a happy time! Families must draw together and eat a spiral ham in front of a roaring fire with a sparkling tree in the background!
Even if they’re out of work. Even if they don’t have the family they want. Even if they’re in mourning.
For people who are happily moving through the holiday season, especially those finally celebrating after many dry years, I lift my virtual glass of champagne to you and send you off to enjoy it. Don’t apologize for being happy — just soak in this time.
For anyone else still sticking around to read this, remember that everyone experiences something in life that makes a particular year or set of years difficult for them. That for every holiday season that you enjoy and look forward to participating in, there is also a time in life where you dread all the reminders that come with a holiday season and wish you could avoid the whole thing. And this year may be that time for you, but it won’t always be that time for you. Things change; both for good and bad. This too shall pass.
You can sit out of the festivities if that’s what you need to do, but a survival guide is sort of like holding your breath to eat (you know, so you don’t taste anything) when your mother asks you to try lima beans. Like slimey green lima beans, going to events is usually good for you, and it’s important to be around people who care about you when the going is tough. You just may need a trick for getting through family time just as mouth-breathing (and not tasting) works for choking down undesired foods.
I’ll offer up the same advice I gave the last year five years with additional notes from comments that came on those old posts:
- Create your own incentives and treat getting through the holiday season as your job. Pay yourself in whatever will make you happy. For instance, after a trip to the local mall to have your picture taken with your niece and Santa, pay yourself with a manicure. Attending the holiday party from hell may win you an entire bar of chocolate. It’s worth setting up small incentives and budgeting for your own happiness because it can be something to focus on during the task at hand.
- You know the idea that you can take a large school and make it small but you can’t go the other way around? Flip that concept when it comes to the holidays: take a small part of the holiday and make it big. Focus on something that you can do and make it your contribution to the holiday season. If you know celebrating Christmas will be too much, make sure you throw yourself wholeheartedly into helping prepare Thanksgiving (and then develop an unfortunate case of the stomach flu on December 24th). If you can organize the family gift but can’t fathom how you’ll do Christmas dinner, make sure you send out an email to your siblings early asking for photos of your nieces and nephews so you can design a great picture calendar for your parents. And then skip the ham.
- Do all your shopping online instead of subjecting yourself to walking past the displays of toys and Christmas baby clothes at the store. Keep it simple this year – you have a lifetime to plot out the most fantastic gifts of all time. This may be the year that you need to buy a DVD or book for each person your list and be done.
- Leave a note in your pocket: write a note to yourself, ask a friend to jot something down, trade letters with your partner, or simply leave a list of names (therapist, fellow bloggers, the friend you’ll drink with the moment you get home) in your pocket to touch as a reminder that someone has your back when you begin to feel overwhelmed at the holiday table. I can’t be with you at your Christmas dinner (the whole Jew and vegetarian thing aside, I just don’t think your family is going to be cool if you drag along a random blogger), but I can give you a note right now to keep in your pocket. Simply print this out and whenever you get overwhelmed, touch it and remember that there are people out there who get you. And change the line about mini hot dogs if you’re a vegetarian:
I know it was really hard to come to this party/dinner/get together but now that you’re here, you’re even closer to it being over. Try to enjoy yourself, but if you can’t, nip into the bathroom for a cry or bury yourself at the buffet table and do nothing but eat mini hot dogs for the rest of the night. There is no shame in enduring rather than enjoying and you need to do whatever you need to do to get through this without ruining any relationships. Make sure you take time for yourself today/tonight after you get home. I’m here on the other end of the computer if you need me.
- Pick and Choose: there is no rule that says you must attend every event during the holiday season – even if you’ve gone to everything in the past. If it’s going to cause more grief than it’s worth, just attend the event. But if you can get your partner to “surprise” you with a holiday trip, all the better.
- Book: I actually include a lot of ideas like these in Navigating the Land of If to get through life in general; not just holiday. I’m just saying.
- I will tell you the only trick I have up my sleeve: the holiday card. Most holiday cards we receive are either generic package-of-12 types or pictures of kids/families. We send out cards every year that routinely get responses that it was the best card they’ve gotten all year, or sometimes the best card ever. Sometimes one fabulous photo of us in some fabulous locale; sometimes a whole series around the world (which it will have to be again this year). We used to just have a normal photo card, but now we include a newsy update of career progress and travels. The people with kids (or limited funds, or limited outlook) say, “Wow, your life is amazing. I’m stuck here at home.” I’m not trying to make them feel envious of us, but envy is way better than pity. –Baby Smiling in Back Seat
- All of our friends have been sending photo X-mas cards in the past years. In previous years, we’d send an awesome vacation photo. Like- heh!- we still had fun this year! –Mrs. Spock
- One tip I figured out early on: If you can’t shop online & have to go to the mall, find out what hours Santa will be there — & then go when he’s not around. There won’t be as many kids & babies around to deal with then. –The Road Less Travelled
- I manage to work in a reference to Katie in every edition of our Christmas letter … usually in relation to our volunteer work. But I like being able to remind people that she was real & is still a part of our lives. My Christmas card itself usually has either an angel or Classic Pooh theme (which was also the theme of her nursery). I know other people who use angel stamps on their cards as a subtle reminder of their lost baby(s). –The Road Less Travelled
- This year I solved my problem in the cowardly fashion … I offered to work. I work at a domestic violence shelter, which is open 24/7 … So I figure I might as well. I can get paid double time as well, so it’s all sorts of awesome. –An Unwanted Path
- I started listening to holiday music in August this year. I’m using it as my own private technique for connecting with the joy of the season early enough that I won’t suddenly get trampled in the crush of child-centric images, events, and conversations coming my way during the actual season. I want this year to be different! –Lisa
- Instead of focusing on what I can’t handle, I’m heading into the season excited about the possibilities of the new traditions TH and I will make this year. I’m just going to roll with the punches. If I’m really excited about putting up the tree, we’re going to do it and not wait. If I can’t handle being around our nephew, TH can go and I can stay home. I’m not going to force myself into any situation, and I’m just going to accept where I am and be there. –Kim
- I just bought three bottles of my favorite wine yesterday to take to my mom’s… and I don’t plan to share any of it. –Guera!
- I think I’m going to plan something for just me and my husband so we’ve got an event during the holiday season to look forward to. It’s either going to be going out to a really nice restaurant or going on a trip (or possibly both!). —Sushigirl
- I’m a big fan of lights. Lights inside and out of the house. But putting up the tree where cute handmade kid ornaments should be was always too hard. So I just put up lights – it goes back to finding out what you can do to enjoy the season and doing it. —BigPandMe
- Two years ago at Christmas right after my 3rd miscarriage I was in a really bad place and dreading the holidays. My mom suggested that instead of our normal Christmas Eve meal we make homemade Chinese food – egg rolls, stir fry, etc. It turned out great and for whatever reason not having to face the traditional meal made it so much better. Don’t get me wrong – it was still really hard – but I got through it and was happy that I spent time with my family instead of avoiding the whole holiday. –Becky
- And “work” can also mean volunteer work. Nobody is going to get mad at you for selflessly devoting your time and skills at a soup kitchen instead of sitting around the family table (or for rushing from the family table to do said work). Or they might, but they’ll end up looking like the bad guy, not you. —Bea
- Remember it’s just a day. It has no power. You don’t have to enjoy it. Lots of people don’t. —Mali
- Sometimes things suck, and sometimes, you have to feel what you’re going to feel while things suck. It’s okay to mourn and it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to not pull yourself up by the bootstraps based on someone else’s timetable rather than your own. And that sometimes, when you push yourself to do something, you find that you actually derived a great deal of peace from the experience. Such as sitting down at the Thanksgiving table when you’re sort of dreading being around people. –Me (from two years ago)
- By refusing to stay over, so that I know we can go home when we’ve had enough. Oh sorry, we’ve got the cat to feed, we can’t possibly stay longer… —Rebecca
- As someone who had (is having) a happy IF ending that resulted in children, I find myself very aware of the depression of holidays past. So this year, I’m doing two Christmas cards: one for family and other friends who experienced a happy IF ending, and one for those who are still waiting with empty arms. The first will, of course, include a picture of our family and children and all the enjoyment of the past year. The second will be less “kids in your face” and more “Happy Holidays, we love you.” I remember how much it stung to get Christmas cards in the mail of new babies and young families that I wanted so badly for myself. I just can’t do it to my friends how I KNOW are enduring the same heartache. —Amy
- Lots of wine and a sober husband to get me home. When everyone is so busy doting on kids or passing around gifts, its easy to just be in the room, but just off to the corner, on the outskirts, enjoying drink after drink. And I also let hubby tackle the “so when are you guys gonna have kids” questions. —Kimberly
- We’ll have a big breakfast, then go out for a real long walk (10 miles), then we’ll come back and cook a sumptuous dinner for the two of us, then in the evening, we’ll head out to the in-laws when the children will be in bed and we can just stay an hour or so before being tired and heading home for our beds. –Flowergirl
- My husband and I started a tradition a few years ago that we cherish. We each spend the holiday season in search of the perfect tree ornament for the other. We decorate with the old looking blown glass ornaments and we try to find something that really represents the other person. My hubby’s have been a motorcycle, an old school looking robot, a space taser gun, Santa serving up beers, among a few others. This gave us something to focus on other than what was missing. —Lacie
- My best advice is always to make the holidays as nice as you can for yourself. I love getting the Christmas tree and decorating, so I have been buying ornaments and looking at holiday decorating ideas. It has always been a happy part about Christmas, with or without children, whether or not I’ve been in a relationship, so it is the thing I can hang on to. —Chickenpig
- Spending the holidays where the celebration is so different from what you are used to also really helped- yes there were lots of Christmas decorations around, and small children, but there were no Santa photo stands. —Persnickity
- I would say to just take care of yourself. You know what you need to help yourself so do what makes you feel good and not what others expect you to do. —Cautious Optimist
- For me, prioritization is definitely the key to getting through the holidays. Even before infertility, I’ve always been an introvert, and it can feel pretty overwhelming to be around people so much – even people I genuinely like. I try to go through my list of holiday stuff/events and figure out which things are high priority. Then I try to go to those and not worry about the rest of it too much. — Katherine A
- And if I really have to be at an event and I don’t want to be there, I keep to the outskirts of the group and nurse a drink. If I ever find myself needing an out, a quick SOS text to a friend and a call from them with a sudden “emergency” gives me that out if I’m desperate. — Kimberly
- Start a new tradition. One new recipe (despite people’s insistence on the same food year after year), a themed gift to give people (think goofy fuzzy socks or imported candy), a trip instead of gifts, movie marathons, men cook something for a change (make it a dare, or bet money on who makes the best stuffing), things like that. I myself like themed cocktails. Candy crush martini anyone? — Deathstar
- I don’t know if it’s survival or not, but for the last three years I have joined a secret Christmas card swap on Postcrossing (on the forums). You nominate how many cards you want to send ( limited for some countries due to participant numbers) and the organiser does a lot of work and sends through a list of people to send them through to… It’s fun to find cards for people in random places, and it is really fun to receive surprises from overseas, too. —Persnickety
- If you have to do a family thing, throw yourself into doing something that’s not part of the normal festive routine or, even better, do something different on Christmas day (we had a barbecue. In the snow). —Sushigirl
- Once when I had a really tough holiday season ahead of me, a friend had offered for me to come to her house for Thanksgiving. I wish I had taken her up on her offer. Sometimes doing something different or getting out of town can really help. —Jamie
I hope you can take comfort in knowing that there are a lot of people out there who are either in the same boat or have lived through a difficult holiday season and have your back. How do you get through the holiday season when you’re feeling less than your best?
November 18, 2015 6 Comments
Josh and I went to the beach for our anniversary. It was cold, certainly too cold to sit on the sand, but we parked the car in the semi-empty beach lot facing the ocean. The sun coming in through the windshield kept the car warm enough to eat a picnic lunch and read books and lounge about. We could see and hear the waves.
We took a bike ride around the nature reserve, pedaling hard in the wind, and marveled at how quiet the town felt now that all the summer tourists had cleared out.
I love the beach in the summer, but there is some part of my personality that connects even more with the beach in winter; the grey waves and the unmarred sand. It was so quiet that you could hear everyone’s conversations wherever we went.
We were in the hotel room when news about the terrorist attacks in Paris came onto our phones. The quietness of the space had already made us contemplative. There is no way to make sense of the idea that a person could go out for the evening to a concert and end up never coming home.
We started the trip bumping into the twins’ beloved Kindergarten teacher, and we ended the trip watching a bunch of horseback riders navigate the marsh. And then we drove home, back to normal life, conducted without the sound of waves.
November 17, 2015 15 Comments