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I am terrible at trying new foods when it is on someone else’s timetable, but I am actually decent at giving things a try on my own. Take, for instance, Brussels sprouts. Did not want to try them any time other people asked me to try them over the years, but one day (well into adulthood) I decided I wanted to taste them, and now they’re one of my favourite things.
The same thing is happening with Tofurkey.
I am usually not drawn to fake meat, mostly because I am grossed out by real meat. Why would I want to eat a fake version of something I find revolting in its real form? It took me a long time to come around to veggie burgers or ersatz chicken patties, and they’re still not my favourite things, but I’ve never tried Tofurkey. The idea of it is unappetizing.
Yet I am suddenly interested in the idea of Tofurkey, and now just need to whip up the stuffing and vegetarian gravy to make a meal out of trying it.
Have you ever changed your mind on trying something you said you would never, ever eat?
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November 28, 2016 21 Comments
A few weeks ago, I threw a holiday on the calendar: Relaxation Day. I made it the Sunday after Thanksgiving because it was the first available day where we would be home all day (which means we don’t have to get out of our pyjamas) and it was far enough away that I could clear any stressors from the day like work so it could feel like a real holiday.
My plan for today is to remain in the aforementioned pyjamas all day. I grabbed a few boxes of hors d’oeuvres from the store for dinner so we could eat using toothpicks, including a box of hot pretzels because why not. I am reading Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter (so good) and have two episodes of Dirk Gently to catch up on. The ChickieNob and I are watching The Crown and eating unreal amounts of popcorn. All devices are charged for unlimited gaming time, and in the event that they need to recharge, I have consoles ready to go. And did I mention the pyjamas? Not getting dressed. I can’t because I also plan to take naps.
Everyone in the house is following their bliss for the next 24 hours.
We usually only do this once a year — stick a day on the calendar where we don’t have to do anything except be hedonistic for 24 hours — but it occurred to me that we could do this much more often. Not so often where it ceases to feel special, but four times per year seems reasonable.
It’s different from actual holidays because on actual holidays, we usually have to cook and clean or we have to go somewhere. There are obligations and rituals. And that is lovely — I would never want to get rid of cooking for Rosh HaShanah or the Kol Nidre service on Yom Kippur or hanging out with my family for Thanksgiving — but I also need days like today where I am doing what I want, when I want, and doing it all in pyjamas.
And hors d’oeuvres for dinner.
November 27, 2016 6 Comments
I just had the most relaxing, non-brain-taxing, fun read in a long time. If you are also stressed beyond the point of being able to function and feeling increasing despair when you go online because you confront the news (or people discussing the news), I’m going to recommend The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.
The ChickieNob informed me that I took this book out of the library twice. The first time, I returned it after reading a few pages. I guess I thought I wasn’t going to like it.
The second time, I grabbed it in a panic when I had exactly three minutes and six seconds in the library to make a selection and pick up the kids from school. When the ChickieNob saw it, she told me that I had checked it out weeks earlier and returned it weeks earlier.
Because while it may not have appealed to me pre-election, this book definitely was the greatest escape post-election. It’s a reimagining of the British royal family with a Will and Kate-type relationship story. It is (1) so much fun, (2) has really likeable characters, (3) made me feel like I actually knew what Buckingham Palace looked like beyond the public rooms, (4) did I mention fun? It was really fun, unless you’re actually in the royal family, and then it probably would not be fun.
But none of you are in the royal family, right?
Juxtapose that with watching The Crown at the same time, and it was perfect escapism.
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:
- “Don’t Send Them to The Wall…” (Seattle Times)
- “I Got Jackassed. Twice.” (Lavender Luz)
- “Are People Actually Good?” (Stirrup Queens) — thank you, Cristy!
Okay, now my choices this week.
Searching for Our Silver Linings had a post that I needed to read this week about still seeing the good. I’ll admit that my attention has been much more focused on the loud moments of hatred bubbling up around me, but her post is a rallying cry to give just as much weight to the quieter acts of kindness.
Hope Floats Among the Cherry Blossoms has a very real and very raw post about thoughts she has had about trying to conceive. I highlight it not only because it is well-written and an interesting read but because I suspect that she is not alone with these thoughts as she looks left and right to a future with or without children. As she grapples with her fears and questions, I also don’t want to lose my favourite part of the post: “I loved my mom and felt so loved by her that I wanted to be a mommy and take care of a child so they could feel as loved as I felt as a little girl.” Me, too.
Lastly, Project Progeny has a post about meeting up with another IF blogger. I love this post because meeting people face-to-face after reading them online is one of my favourite things, and this is doubly so when we’ve understood each other through the lens of infertility. Not only do I remember the blog exchanges she mentioned, I participated in some of those blog exchanges. And I feel the same way as this: “We talked about making connections through blogging, and what that had meant for each of us during our years of actively working to build our families, through the pain and grief and fears of infertility. Neither of us is actively in that stage anymore – no more two-week waits – but there is something about feeling known and understood and accepted that we both miss about the ALI blogging community.” Yes, I believe that she can slip back down into blogging as she states at the end of the post. Go read the whole piece.
The roundup to the Roundup: A good escape novel, unless you are in the royal family. 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 18th and 25th) 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 25, 2016 7 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 slimy 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
- Personally, if I could manage it, I think I’d spend almost every holiday season somewhere where I could just do my own thing, and feel excited about being somewhere new, or somewhere I love, or doing something I love. We have friends who always, always fly internationally on Christmas Day, a) because they don’t have families they feel they should be with, b) it’s a way to avoid the feeling that they’re missing something, and c) because the flights are so much cheaper, and upgrades are so much easier to get! —Mali
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 23, 2016 6 Comments
[Melissa stands up, taps her fork against her glass, and clears her throat. The conversation around the table dies down, and she while she normally kicks off this annual meal with a Dumbledore joke, it doesn’t quite feel right in this time period. She looks at everyone at the table.]
We do this every year: Come together as a community and have a virtual meal before we scatter to our actual meals. Unless, that is, you do not celebrate Thanksgiving. But I hope that you’ll join the table for virtual food and company even if you don’t follow this tradition offline.
There are a lot of people hurting at this table. For some, it’s the same reason people are hurting at this table every year. For others, it is because they feel as if their fellow Americans don’t have their back. In both cases, I caution that you apply what you know from your experience with infertility and apply it forward to all other aspects of life: It never helps to have your fears or sadness negated or dismissed.
I’m glad we’re not only here, sharing, but also listening.
For some people, this pre-meal is what gets them through their real meal later in the week. People have written that they’ve printed out this yearly post and comments and left the paper in their purse because it helped to have a tangible reminder that there were people out there who got it. Who weren’t going to ask them when they were going to hurry up and have children. Who weren’t going to cringe when someone spoke the name of a child they lost.
We are all so different. All of us. Around this table. But we have this one facet of our lives — and yes, even though it may be a big, overpowering one for you right now, it is only one facet of who you are — where we overlap: infertility or adoption or loss. And I am so thankful, so grateful, that I found all of you. Everyone needs a You-shaped space where they can be themselves. And that’s what I have here.
So every year, I ask people to bring a virtual dish to our meal. Place it in the comment section, explaining what you brought and why. And say anything else you need to say before sitting back down to enjoy the company. Update about where you are; your emotional state. We’re an international group, hailing from countries all around the world. So while Thanksgiving is an American tradition, I hope that everyone around the world feels as if they can participate. (Especially our Canadian neighbours who celebrated Thanksgiving weeks ago.) I’d love for your dish to come from your culture or country. Don’t worry about the contents on the table clashing.
I am bringing stuffing. It’s comfort food; mushy and soggy and warm. And I need some comfort food right now.
So what did you bring and what do you want to say to the community?
And please, start eating as everyone is introducing their dish. We don’t want the food to get cold and there are so many of us at this table. Thank you so much for coming, and I’m going to carry the warmth of this meal with me for the rest of this week.
November 22, 2016 16 Comments