Tag Archives: happy times

Happy 3rd Birthday Samuel!

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Everyone – and I mean everyone – got sick this week (including poor Caroline, which was heartbreaking). So we postponed Sam’s birthday until he was at school, and well enough to enjoy it (although we did give him his present from us – a massive box of Geotrax – so that he had something to play with while home from school during Caroline’s massive feed-a-thons), and at school so that he could give out his muffins and party bags (why muffins? Because when we asked is we could send in cakes, the teacher said “we prefer something healthy’ [oh good, I’m on board] “like muffins” [Aaaargh, tears hear out].

So now, 2 days late, I get to say:

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Happy 3rd Birthday Sam.

Sam, you have made me understand the phrase “the light of my life”. When you are around, things seem brighter. You make me smile more broadly, laugh louder and hug harder than anyone else (sorry about the endless hugs… I know you have stuff to do and they get in the way). Every day, your crazy energy reminds me how much joy there is to be had in life. Your unconditional love teaches me about loyalty and trust. And eating your grow up is one of the greatest pleasures, and greatest achievements, I have in my life.

I am so proud of of what an empathetic boy you have become. Yesterday, we were all sick, Caroline had cried for over an hour, and then you had a meltdown because I put water in your cup when you had asked for juice (sorry about that). So, helpfully I started bawling my eyes out (I might be where you get your fair for the dramatic… sorry about that too). You tired to ‘kiss it better’ and when I was still crying you said “I think we need to call Daddy to make it better… I think Daddy has your medicine… I took medicine in my mouth and it made me better..” Then you proceeded to look for my shoes and socks so we could get your sister to the doctor. I was awestruck by how mature you could be, and touched by such sweetness. I hope that concern for others, and that need to make those you love happy (which comes from your Dad) never leaves you. It will make you a wonderful son, friend, partner and human.

Sibling love, or at least, sibling curiosity

Sibling love, or at least, sibling curiosity

I am watching you grow into your role as big brother too – again, I am so proud of how you have adapted to no longer being the center of attention, and to the care you show your sister. I know it was tough when she came home, and when things changed, but you have bounced back and are our cheerful, happy boy again. I admire your resilience, and wish I had it too.

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You’re crazy – definitely a little wild. You quite proudly announced you had a time out at school you because you “broke Scott’s tower”. You looked me dead in the eyes and said “I broke it so hard”. You poured pretzels all over the floor today so your dump truck could scoop them up. We frequently find you have locked yourself in Ellie’s dog crate. You are crazy and loving and curious and wild and smart and demanding and just you. I am so grateful you are you. Every bit of you I love and I can’t wait to see what this next year brings out of you.

Love

Mummy

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Perfect weekend

Noah's Ark Houston

Quality Mummy-son time

2 1/2 years in, and I am definitely still adjusting to motherhood. 3 years in, and I am still adjusting to Houston. I have written before that I was unhappy for much of 2014, and 2015 was looking to possibly shape up in a similar way (albeit a little better). And honestly, partially because I don’t really recognize myself as unhappy (maybe a bit ‘flat’ or a bit ‘whiney’) until I get it right. Until I realize that I have made myself happy. That happened this weekend.

Saturday morning I took Sam to a kids’ swimming pool (Noah’s Ark) and we just had a blast. It was lovely to focus totally on him, and to be a big kid myself – yes, I climbed through all the water tunnels (so elegantly with my whopping bump), went down all the kiddos’ slides and picked Sam up and threw him in the water fountain (much to his delight). It was delightful, silly, exhausting fun.

I definitely did not look this cute on the slide

I definitely did not look this cute on the slide

Cue a stupidly large Mickey D’s, and then an unplanned nap on the sofa. Although I was woken by Sam waking from his nap (after only 2 hours! 3 hours at the pool is supposed to buy me more than 2 hours!)  he then played happily for several hours while I made a new card for my Etsy shop (<— still a work in progress) and updated my Stampin’ Up! blog. Pizza dinner, easy night down for the dwarf and then movie night with the Husband – we watched St. Vincent which was pretty good.

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Baby shower card

Today I played hard with the kiddo in the morning and then went and helped a friend set up her Stampin’ Up! website. She fed me lunch and I got a delicious frozen StarBucks on the way home. Sam woke the second I got home (again, after only 1.5 hours! What is up with this kiddo?) so we tidied the house together and then hit the garden.

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One of the best things Wes & I did was fence off a small area of our garden for Sam. We put in his sandbox, my hammock, and small IKEA table and chairs, a bench, a slide and a paddling pool. If Sam and I go out there I can get snatches of anywhere between 15 and 90 minutes to myself blogging, surfing the internet or reading. And when he does want to play, it’s easy for me to engage in water fights and sandcastles and chalk pictures on the wall. We usually have a blast and today was no exception.

Tea, Emma Bridgewater cup, biscuits for dunking, blogging and the boy playing happily - what more could I want?

Tea, Emma Bridgewater cup, biscuits for dunking, blogging and the boy playing happily – what more could I want?

 

We finished up with snuggles in the hammock – occasionally Sam will take his sippy cup and drink it like he would drink from a bottle as an infant, seeking out things to play with with his hands, his eyes going heavy and going into the ultimate snuggle mode – it’s BLISS.

Snuggles beats all else

Snuggles beats all else

Now the little one is in bed, I am finishing my blog post while eating delicious pecan toffee, and somewhere in there I even managed a face and a hair masque.

So – why was this such a blissful weekend? What made it feel perfect? It wasn’t tantrum free (you try telling a hungry 2-year old that is 1.5 hours past his nap time that he has to leave the swimming pool of awesomeness). I bought a new nail polish and don’t like it (damn you Essie). I didn’t get time to blow dry my hair and it looks a mess. I did, however, have time to really play with and engage with Sam – both at home and out and about. There was time for my hobbies, and some friend time. But what is most surprising, is that there was no work. Not a single email, nor a review. I didn’t open anything I am working on to poke at it, and yes, I let a few overdue things just sit in my inbox (I am certainly not luxuriating for time at work right now).

It’s odd. It’s uncomfortable if I think about it, and yet it seems like the most natural thing in the world. I realize that even 2.5 years in, I am definitely struggling to adapt to (working) motherhood. When I became a mum, I tried to carry on just like before – keeping work the same and fitting the kiddo in around that. When I couldn’t fit everything in, I dropped the ‘me’ things – make-up, skin care, crafting, blogging. I squeezed Sam in when I could (after a whopping great 3 weeks of maternity leave), and I did whatever it took to keep work going.

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My world

It’s not working for me anymore (sorry for the pun). Academia is hard – the way funding is (pretty nonexistent) it seems like a lot of input for not a lot of payback. At the end of the road, when I have focussed so much mental energy on work, and I have nothing to show for it it is hard to look at my beautiful son and think “I am glad I put you second” and “I’m glad I don’t know you as well as I could” and “Sure, I read you stories, and tuck you in, and I’m the one you run to when hurt – but I don’t mind having missed out on those little interactions that are your whole world right now”. It’s hard to look in the mirror at an uncared for reflection and say “I am glad I look a mess”. It’s hard to look around the house and say “I don’t mind that this doesn’t reflect my personality”.

I don’t have the answer. Academia seems to get harder and harder, and survival seems to depend on more and more publications and collaborations and grant submissions. And truly, I love what I do! When I can focus on my real work (not work I have foolishly agreed to do for others, so I am working on reducing that), I truly am fascinated by behavioral genetic questions and I love answering them and writing on them. But kiddos don’t wait, and papers don’t hold me at night. It feels like the wonder in Science is getting less and less, while the wonder in my son grows daily.

Yet, I still hugely look up to so many great Scientists. I cannot let the dream of being like them go. It’s clear that I need to reduce work. I also need to streamline what I do (focussing on behavior almost exclusively) and be much more efficient when I am working (less Facebook, more papers…). Yet, I am scared I cannot be successful like that. It’s hard to let go of the 24/7 work mindset. But I am also scared that I won’t be be successful continuing like I am, and I will have sacrificed everything anyway and be left with nothing. Perhaps these are the ramblings of the third trimester, but  I am scared of not having more papers than most people at my stage, of not having more grant submissions, of not having funding. I am terrified of saying no. Yet, I feel I have to take the plunge. I need to turn work off sometimes, and reprioritize when I am at work. I’ve never been like this! I have always been able to do anything and take on any task. I could work my way out of mediocrity. Perhaps this was the fearless I needed to be when I wrote back in January 2014. Anyway, I have to give it go. I have to make some changes.

Hammock snuggles are the best!! If not the most flattering angle ;-)

Hammock snuggles are the best!! If not the most flattering angle 😉

I have no idea if anyone else struggles like this – I see so many people having careers and personal lives seamlessly, but I am happy to go out on a limb for a minute and say: I am struggling. I am not getting it right. I am changing. I don’t recognize myself and I am worried that the ‘old me’ would have negatively judged the ‘new me’ (what a bloody awful confession).

I am optimistic, I am scared, I am excited, I am terrified. I have no idea how this will play out.

 

Perfect Last Day

So, there are up sides and downsides to being induced. As of now (pre-labor) I would definitely always choose no induction. But we didn’t get that choice. The positives? A definite date – meaning you can schedule your life around it, eat properly, store up some sleep. Of course, you also get a slightly surreal day where you know it is your last ‘real’ day pregnant / as a non parent. Here is how I spent mine:
I woke up quite early, and the induction was obviously at the back of mind as Wesley told me I had been a foul little beast to sleep next to (think sleeping diagonally across the bed, slowly taking over inch by inch, and throwing no less than 3 elbow jabs to his mouth. Tip: Don’t watch ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ before bed.). I had planned to get up early and do some work, but the work I was supposed to do had not been sent to me (the girl forgot) and I kinda wasn’t motivated to do much else except pick at the tasks that *had* to be done that day.

I lolled around, I emailed some friends, and then I bathed, washed my hair, styled it and put on my favorite maternity dress to go out to lunch (I am sure I will need it in the coming months, but this was my last chance to wear it with a HUGE bump).

39.5 week bump

39 weeks 4 days

We hit up my favorite food spot: Guru (subtitle: Burgers + Crepes). We both scoffed a huge 6 oz burger and fries (MY excuse was ‘energy for labor’… not sure what Wes’ was 😉 ) and then we wandered the mall.

Really, I just wanted to be up and about and not at home stressing. We didn’t have much to buy. Wes then played ‘most awesome and considerate husband ever’ by suggesting that we go to ‘Build a Bear Workshop’ and each make Firework a special teddy bear. It was super romantic, a little emotional, and I was a little choked up that Wes was acting so excited and pleased.



The woman at Build A Bear told us she was induced with both her kids, had no epidural and it was a painful, but super quick and easy birth. I told Wes that all women should say this when told someone else is being induced, whether it was true or not.

Then, Wes decided to play ‘not so awesome husband’. Just for larks. At some point in our (very random) conversation the phrase ‘flames came out of her vagina’ occurred. I don’t know how, but it did. Which led to:

Lekki: No! That once happened! Seriously, a woman failed to sue her OB, but did sue a medical company because during a C-section…
Wes: She caught fire? Common.
Lekki: *thinks ahead to what she is doing later today* I don’t think it happens that…
Wes: Common. Alcohol used to clean the woman catches light. Common.
Lekki: *blinks*
Wes: As emphatically as possible: “Common”.

Of course then there was a moment of realization at what he had just said… and its exact timing. We looked at each other in wide-eyed horror, then began to giggle uncontrollably. Wes said “Er… maybe I should define common”. But we just giggled out way to Barnes and Noble.

Time to pick up some magazines, and go and get some pizzas for when we come out of hospital. Of course we bought a few baby things 🙂 (Nothing exciting: talcum powder and a thermometer). On the way home I started getting antsy and nervous and a bit quiet, but… sweet distraction! A box on the doorstep

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It was….

A baby shower in a box from my friends in AL 🙂 Greatest thing ever! I unpacked it, and cheered up IMMEDIATELY. The timing could not be better. Inside were loads of gifts, loads of hand me downs / ‘we used this and it saved our sanity’ type pieces, aaaaaaaaaaaand (since I had already been lucky enough to have a diaper cake), a diaper wreath made by my friend Kelly. I went upstairs to put our bears up in Firework’s nursery:

Build a Bear Workshop Bears

Colonel Karl and Albeart

Take a picture of the incredible diaper wreath (which I will share soon) and sit down to do some work emails… give the dogs their ‘you’re getting a new brother’ bones:

Italian Greyhound with a bone

Walter is ridiculously pleased

when the hospital called…

To be continued 😉

Two weekends of hometown touristin’ (pic spam time)

Sunrise over Houston

After really enjoying looking a little around my new hometown of Houston a few weeks back, I gave it another go for two weekends… but for different reasons.

Reunited… if only for a weekend

2 weeks ago my bestie Clio came all the way to Houston to see the bump (and me, I hope). We spent a lot of time discussing the serious issue of what R-Patz was going to do now, and whether K-Stew had done it for publicity and what the heck was going to go down with TomKat (you know, the important stuff). We also shopped until we dropped (hello Nars Orgasm, OPI blue me away and some cunning black tie-up wedges), visited the Cheesecake Factory and watched an appalling amount of trash: basically, did everything I have been missing since moving here and getting me back on track to feeling human.

However, I did feel that Clio should not be held captive and forced to give me the social interaction I have been craving. So we took a quick jaunt down to our local seaside town of Galveston and its ‘pleasure pier’. It was fun, although honestly? British peeps should think an over priced Brighton without all the yummy food stops or the impressive shopping lanes… yeah, a little limiting. As if to prove my point, the weather was also terrible British-esque, which led to a disastrous hat decision by me. Anyway, looking quite a lot like our honeymoon Brighton photos (but with the tremendous addition of young Clio) this is our Galveston pic-spam:

Clio declined joining in on one of these pics… wonder why?

I don’t know WHY I put this hat on

It was fun… and when we got home poor Walter got to be ridiculous and have a much hated bath:

Very unflattering whale-like photo of me… but Walter looks cute

All over now with a consolatory cuddle

This weekend, hmmm… well I don’t know if I was scammed. I signed up to a cake pop class on Groupon. The company *looks* legit on their website… and when I emailed them, they were responsive and booked me in for this weekend. Now, weirdly, the website does not have an address, but the Groupon coupon did. So along I went this Saturday morning. The address listed: 907 Franklin Street was an abandoned (and locked) office. But at 909 (an apartment complex) the concierge told me that Tastee Tees was 2 doors down – 917, next to a restaurant. Indeed, 917 was next to a restaurant. But, it was locked and I could only see a hallway with lots of doors coming off. So I called Tastee Tees… no answer (but I did get a professional sounding answer phone). I didn’t find this that odd, as I didn’t expect them to be answering if the business does not open on a Saturday, but they were teaching a class. Left a message… nothing… left another… nothing. Rang incessantly (thinking that if I uninterrupted the class enough they might answer). Eventually a woman answered with just as single “Hello”. “Hi,” I said, “Is this Tia [the owner of Tastee Tees]?”. “Yes”. “Hi, I am trying to find my way to your cake pop class and was wondering if you could tell me where it was, please?” *cue lots background noise…* “Hello… hello? Hello?”. Nothing. No call back. And they didn’t answer when I, and subsequently Wes, phoned back several times.

So… really weird. I was seriously excited to go cake pop making (I actually woke up on Friday with the words “Do you know what tomorrow is? Cake Pop Day!!”), so was seriously disappointed, and I will be seriously ticked off if I was scammed. What do you think? Is it a scam? Is that plausible? I’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, not to have the whole day ruined, I explored the ‘Historic’ ‘Theater’ and ‘Skyline’ districts of downtown Houston. It was awesome: very different to the rest of Houston (and much more Southern looking). Beautiful parks, and quite a bit going on:

When I got back, this time, Robert was being ridiculous:

Happy 4th July!!

Time to appease the American right and wish y’all a happy American Independence Day! Some people are thoughtful and ask if I ‘mind’ being invited to a July 4th party. Not at all! To be honest, America is such a powerful nation, which Brits think of as quite advanced, that the English can quite easily forget the fact that America was ever a colony of England. Plus, our attitude towards the colonial past is generally one of awkwardness and embarrassment, and the modern take on our overseas territories is “take a vote… if you want independence… it is yours!” so there is no worries about those who defeated us in the past and separated off, as we tend to think “Yeah.. probably shouldn’t have fought that anyway…”. BNP withstanding. Plus, ya know, aside of worrying about their poor human rights record, it did Britain pretty well that America gained freedom; German doesn’t suit us 😉

Terrible pre-4th July decision to cut my own bangs 😦

That being said: I have not celebrated July 4th before. It is the day before my birthday; on my first year in the US I went camping for a long weekend, for said birthday, and forgot about it. For my second year, I was deep in grant writing mode – trying to catch up from the wedding – and similarly forgot (I think I only realised when I rocked up to an empty office). For this, my third, year I am a PERMANENT RESIDENT (which is about as close to a citizen as I will ever chose to get myself) and I was going to celebrate. We didn’t have any invites in Houston (sob) so no parties… so I insisted on a parade. Wes was wary about the quality of a small-town parade, but I explained that we don’t really have parades at all in England, so it would all be new an exciting to me.

Fire trucks!

Apparently I got the true experience: the mayor in a posh car, marching bands, annoyed looking children failing to complete some focused activity adequately enough for the parents (this time: skipping), mediocre fire trucks, stacks of cars of varying interest (CHECK OUT THE LINE OF DELOREANS IN THE GALLERY), political parties handing out propaganda and some poorly decorated floats. Oh! And stacks and stacks of candy which parade participants lob at the crowd. I think this is the main point of parades actually… so much candy.

The main problem was that the candy and beads were mostly aimed at children… and I didn’t have a child (apparently it is bad form to knock children out of the way for candy). Next year my pretty…. next year.

Oh, but next year I want to be IN the parade. I am serious. It is a new goal. And I also want to wave a Union Jack for a joke… but Texans have too many guns 😦

Tonight: Fireworks. Whoop!
Tomorrow: My last birthday without a stinkin’ child getting all the limelight: double whoop!

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary…

How does your garden grow? Well, as this post will tell you, very well. It will also chart, in far too much detail, my weekend, before segueing off into some random thoughts about where I want my career to go.

My little garden

I am amazed, and excited: my watermelon seeds have actually sprouted. I spent today thinning them out and hoping the seedlings I left will survive (I probably should have let the plants grow for more than a week before doing that, but hey – I was excited).

Little watermelon seedlings

In the corner of the top picture you can see my banana pepper, which is a bit of cheat as it is not grown from seed. Inside things are not too shabby, either. My roquette and tomato seeds are doing well, and there are three tiny purple tomatillo shoots coming up. I have got to decide how on Earth to thin these out… The tomatoes I am thinking just pull 1/2 out and plant the plot, the roquette I am thinking divide in half and repot all into 2 much bigger pots?As well, just for funzies, as my favourite cut-flowers are gladioli, I planted those and they are winning the growth war by a long way.

Roquette spelled wrong harking back to a joke between my first ever boyfriend and I

Hidden in there is the tomatillo sprout

Woah gladioli, you’ve only been in there a week.

Not doing so well is my herb garden 😦 Except for sweet basil:

Nothing… yet

Mmmmm…. basil…. I spy caprese salad on the horizon.

Next up, we have cantaloupe planted today, some green bean seeds (well… beans…) soaking and some cherry seeds ready for their 90-day chill. And an experimental attempt to grow seedlings outdoor in the punishing Texas heat, not in my little indoor greenhouse.

See you in three months little stones

Leaving this outside and seeing what survives.

This weekend has been fun 🙂 And, importantly, relaxing. Saturday involved saying goodbye to Wes’ car and picking up a new, family-friendly one. Wes’ cars are the epitome of his Lekki-orientated sacrifices. He gave up his beloved Jeep Cherokee to be able to get me a truck, while he rode around in his terribly beat-up BMW (that often smoked on the road). Then he traded that in not for a cool car, but some 4-door Nissan with hatch back (dog / grocery room), good mileage and an excellent safety record. Poor lad. I however kept my fun, but child-Unfriendly purple truck.

Bye bye Beamer-Beater

Then we had lunch while we were out, and found an awesome Mediterranean buffet (link included for other Houston peeps). Buffet food is always going to be mass produced, but here there were stacks of salads (pasta, fatoush, tabbouleh), different grilled veg and meat, and then LAMB SHANKS all for $12. We were most pleased. Stuffedm we wended our way back home, I dyed my hair one or two shades closer to its natural colour now (baby steps… baby steps…)

By the time Firework gets here, I aim to be free of the chore of hair dying 🙂

and out to see Moonrise Kingdom – one of the funniest films Wes & I have seen for a while. The characters pulled of their quirkiness in away that was utterly bizarre, yet completely hilarious. Murray was a gem, and Bruce Willis impressively understated. But, I think the kids stole the show. Think: Napolean Dynamite meets Amelie. (Although I hate Amelie).

Sunday we went back to Life Pointe church, to hear a sermon about treating those you love with kindness and respecting their God-given uniqueness to help build them up, not break them down. It was another great message from a church Wes & I are so far very happy at. Grocery shopping (boo), work (double boo – I always save my boring tasks for the weekend) and then Sunday is chef’s (Wes’) day off, so I made meringues and spag bol for for dinner. For the first time in America, my meringues turned out perfectly: gooey and light, chewing down to a sticky gooey ball, and holding their shape in the oven to a perfect ‘nest’. Whoop.

Nests of perfection

Tonight I have one review to do (boo) and then it is settling down with my new book. They didn’t have the third in the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ series (just finished the second one) so I took a chance on:

Didn’t like the TV series (but that may be because I kept falling asleep – chicken and egg problem) so we’ll see how this goes.

Then an early night before off to UT 🙂 The first week went well. It was frustrating to be finishing up UAB work that I thought was done, but good to be shifting that into the realm of ‘submitted’. I spent the week talking to people, learning the structure of the institution, the things people were working on, the available data. I feel I am at a cross roads, and have to decide whether to (1) do my own, utterly independent thing or (2) fit into the workings (and data and analysis) of the very successful groups already at UT. Tough call. I was brought in to do 1… but that is much riskier than 2 when one thinks of tenure and promotion and not getting kicked out, grantless in 3 years. I’ll write more soon on how much I decide to burn the boats, follow my heart and my passion, and how much I play it safe.

Hmmm…. sounds like the answer is pretty obvious there 😉 But for this week ahead, I am just looking forward to meetings with both my mentors, and to continuing to count opportunities at UT, and to feeling blessed.

I, as yet, have only one tip for new faculty. Walk up to everyone (even if you have to go into their office), hand outstretched, and just say “Hi, I am so-and-so and I am new faculty in the department of X’. I have met so may people this way, and learned so much. I think changing institutions challenges you in a ways you both could and could not imagine – but then again, from the greatest challenges come the greatest growth 🙂 You are, I guess, playing off ‘papers and grants’ progress against ‘developing as a Scientist’ progress; and I know I am glad I picked the latter – it was right for me. More papers would have been wonderful (man, would it have been wonderful), but I think I personally would feel less fulfilled. I guess that is why I was glad I made such a radical departure for my postdoc, and and why I am glad I have done it again for my first faculty position. It is scary though: to be alone, to trust in your ideas, to follow your (Scientific)-heart. None of the relative safety of incremental Science (I found X to be associated with gene Y, so I am going to deeper sequence Y / sequence another region of Y, or look in different populations, or switch drug X for drug Y in my analysis). Incremental Science has the highest chance of success – we need it for sure. It is just not for me. I’d rather fail at my hypothesis than support the current one.

But again, ask me in 3 years when I am failing to feed my family. Speaking of which, got to go and finish my ‘Daddy’s night off duties’…

 

Daddy’s night off

(Re)building a life

So, it is the end of my week’s vacation: and through a combination necessity and will, I have actually taken a proper vacation from work. Out of Office autoreply on and emails ignored (with no small measure of guilt). I felt I needed a week between my postdoc and my first faculty position. Well… really, I didn’t feel that I needed a week, but I didn’t want to realize from a place of mental ill-health, 8-months down the road, that I did. So, a break I took.

Of course with a home to create, this has not exactly been an idle time. Nonetheless, I have saved some time for myself; evenings especially, and the weekend. Leaving me at a loose end: what to do with myself? Before the move, I was guilty before of doing too much: accepting every invitation, giving my all to every social occasion and opportunity, always being 1/2 in work mode, working out twice a day, pushing my body to the limits each time and yet rushing through my workouts so I could meet my friends / answer that email / get that thing done. I don’t think I ever just ‘was’. I had lost my tendency to complete activities in stillness and solitude.

It was strange at first: to have time on my hands. Strange and quite isolating; like I said, I am used to filling every space in my calendar. I didn’t know what to do but slowly found myself gravitating towards certain activities: cooking, baking, horticulture, reading fiction, even (in desperation 😉 ) just hanging out with the husband. I could while away the hours planning my veggie garden and sowing the seeds, tending my orchids, baking homemade bread from scratch. And feel very calm after doing them. Or even, calm does not describe it: centered and complete. Like ‘zen’ was the perfect word for this feeling. I remembered that these were things I used to do all the time before life got crazy.

Husband approves of my re-found love of baking

So… now I feel I am at a cross roads. I have no social obligations here, no weekly gym classes, no friends nearby who I am dying to see. I am starting work with only a few papers to tidy up and submit after co-author revisions: all my postdoc papers being done, I have no real work obligations yet. I have dropped my workout schedule to zilch due to busy-ness, shock at Texas heat, a lack of a gym membership and some prenatal bleeding (no worries… all good…. just got a bit over strained with the move); I am basically starting from scrtach on the fitness front it has been so long. So: I can be selective in what I choose to do, and of course, I can choose to do nothing. Literally, I feel like I have been offered a fabulous opportunity to rebuild my life (time) as I like.

Within reason of course: I want to be very successful and productive at work, I want to remain reasonably fit and healthy, I want to have friends and actively engage in church life. But I don’t want the frenetic pace of before, the feeling that I am not giving anything my all, the feeling that I am a hands-grasp from exhaustion / burn out. That I am running on caffeine and wondering how I am going to give my all to my next activity.

In particular: I want to stop worrying about how I am going to fit a child into my life, and start waiting for a child to complete a part my life (crazy first few months not withstanding). My husband has always been very good at this: saying no, keeping ‘me’ time, not over stretching himself. I don’t know exactly where my balance lies yet… but I hope I still achieve, and still have success while actually enjoying it – rather than congratulating myself as I head into the next thing. I literally want to stop and appreciate the beauty in life.

My minor obsession with orchids has resurfaced 🙂

It will take some examining as to why I have lived my life like that: fear of rejection, fear of missing out, fear of failure. Partly the desire to excel at everything: why publish 3 papers a year,w hen you could do 4? Why ‘take up jogging’ when you could train for a half marathon? Why stop there – why not complete Tough Mudder? But, I think I came dangerously close to ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’, or ‘success on paper, but failure in spirit’: how much was I really there for my friends? How much in my exhausted state did I really give them? How great was my Science, when I was so very focused on completing more than was expected and / or asked? It is not the spiritual life I wanted. I don’t feel I was giving my best to Earth.

It will take some work, and I am sure I will make mistakes. I am not even 100% sure what I am looking for in balance, and a sense of the holistic, and stillness and being. But, with all my newly found free time: I’ll keep you posted. 🙂