Modern Composers

Listening to classic lullabies as a new mom is chill, but it can get old fast. I’ve delved a little into classical composers, like the ones playing from my daughter’s swing on repeat, but even those start to wear after the seven hundredth time. Where are the modern equivalents of calming instrumental music that will calm my baby, but not bore me to death?

Thank goodness for modern composers. As someone who covered rock music for a long time, I wasn’t aware of the work of these modern composers until I started covering dance companies and making playlists for yoga classes. Max Richter was one of the first that I became interested in. His work Infra was used in the first contemporary program that I covered at the Joffrey Ballet. You may also recognize his distinct sound from the HBO series “The Leftovers,” and spots in movies like Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Ludovico Einaudi is another composer I’ve recently been listening to. His latest album, 12 Songs From Home, was recorded at his home, aptly, since being under quarantined in Italy.

Spotify has also recommended instrumental versions of pop songs and well known nursery rhymes that have been refreshing to listen to. In fact, part of my daughter’s bedtime routine is a playlist of four songs that set the mood for sleep, including calming instrumental versions of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and Disney’s “How Far I’ll Go” (a fave from Moana). Yes, in a way I’m trying to Pavlov my baby, but we can all find benefit in consistent routine!

Masks On

At the grocery store first thing in the morning to nab some paper goods which are hard to find these days.

If you had told me a month ago that we’d be going to the doctors office with masks on, waiting outside the door, getting screened with temperatures taken before being allowed inside, I’d think it would be a terrifying reality.

But it’s surprising how mundane it ends up being. Sure there is an underlying fear, but we still go about our activity, the one that allows us to be in public. We adapt. We still chat and laugh, just without being able to see anyone’s mouth.

We socialize and work via video conference now. Some people still get together in person and stay six feet from each other. We still go to the grocery store. There is plexiglass protecting cashiers at the checkout, markings on the floor showing where to stand to keep a safe distance from each other. Periodic announcements on the loudspeaker remind customers and employees to keep two cart lengths away from others. Sometimes there are lines of people outside, spaced six feet apart, waiting to go in once the new max capacity is reached.

Wearing masks is now required outside your home. We’ve been ordered to stay at home and not leave for anything other than groceries and essential work or medical care for weeks now.

This is reality. An invisible virus has brought society as we know it to its knees. For weeks the news was worse every morning that I tuned into Morning Edition. I stopped listening a week ago, but I hear that there is some hope that things are slowing down. It’s still terrifying to think that it could still get worse. What if this is just the beginning? What if in another month we’re at another surprising impasse? New York says they may have to bury their dead in public parks. Unbelievable a month ago, but a glaring reality today. That’s the thing about living through a crisis that gets lost in the history, you don’t know when it’s going to end, you don’t know where the top of the curve is.

I’m grateful to be quarantined with my husband and daughter that I actually enjoy being around and cherish the extra hours we get to be together. I’m grateful for my best friend, who is a nurse practitioner, risking her own health to help others every day. She shares first hand information and advice on social media to keep us safe. And somehow, she takes care of me at the same time, helping me get proper care for postpartum depression while I’m a thousand miles away.

Miss Spoken: Life during a pandemic with an infant

This week I got to read for Miss Spoken, a fave live lit series in Chicago. Since most of the country is under a ‘stay at home’ order because of the Coronavirus pandemic, they held their first ever livestream show, and through the magic of the internet I was able to join from Los Angeles! We had some technical difficulties with the video, but my full piece about living during a pandemic with an infant is below.

Quarantine day: I don’t even know. I know it’s week two. And I know that I haven’t cried today.

It hit me the other night that this isn’t just a temporary two week thing that we need to buckle down through. This is the new normal, at least for a while, and we need to adjust accordingly. For me, that means structuring a new day with an infant. I need to approach my day with intent. Or my day will shape me.

My daughter is now 3 months old, 14 weeks to be exact. We had just started to emerge back into the world after weeks of postpartum isolation, which was surprisingly difficult on its own. Figuring out how to get the car seat in the base on my own, driving with my baby in the car with all those maniacs on the road?! Learning patience while someone is waiting for my parking spot as I fold up a stroller. Figuring out how to shop for groceries with a baby taking up all the room in the cart or stroller.

All this while my body is still recovering from the physical and emotional toll of growing a human and then birthing it.

I didn’t start to feel postpartum depression until about 8 weeks when my husband went back to work. All of our visitors and helpers were gone, and I was alone with this baby that I barely knew all day. The mornings were toughest. I felt sad when I woke up, and didn’t want to get out of bed. The day ahead felt overwhelming with its demands and unpredictability.

We adapted by scheduling one thing outside the home each day: a mommy and me yoga class, one of my mom support/social groups, a coffee play date, or just a walk or a trip to the grocery store.

And now, Coronavirus. Classes: canceled. Groups: canceled. Play dates: canceled. A stay at home order for the state of California was issued on March 19. Our once a day respite outside of the house is over. We’re back on isolation. And we have to worry about catching a deadly invisible virus. I have to worry about my baby being exposed to it (with the minimal comfort that it doesn’t seem to be affecting children that much). I have to worry about my baby having some other medical emergency or injury and the hospitals not having the capacity to take care of her, plus risk exposing her to whatever is inside.

Still, I’m grateful that we had the baby when we did. I’ve heard birthplaces are now only allowing one support person and no visitors (not even an exception for a spouse and a doula). My parents spent all day every day with us in the hospital and were here in my apartment after to help us. That time is still a total blur to me, and I couldn’t imagine having to do it without the team we had. My in-laws and sisters both also got to visit and meet the baby, and a couple of friends.

I’m not saying I have it worse than anybody else. This unprecedented event is affecting everyone in different ways. There’s my friend who is a nurse, seeing patients who are coughing directly on her, my parents who are in the higher risk group in their 60s, friends who work in retail that counts as essential business now, friends who have already been laid off from their jobs, kids who don’t have warm meals, or safe homes to spend their days.

We’re all coping, or not.

I still feel depressed in the mornings, and now my days are coupled with anxiety. But this is where I try to see the bright spots. I get to spend my mornings cuddled in bed with my new daughter. My husband is home and safe (even as we struggle to share our small space with him working from home). My support groups and even yoga communities are holding online video meetings. I’m talking to my friends and family in Chicago and St. Louis more than I did before the pandemic. We may be living in isolation, but we’re more connected than ever before.

Yesterday in one of my mom Zoom meetings, I was talking through some of these challenges and wrapped it up by saying ‘But we’re getting by.’ I was reminded that we don’t have to be ‘just getting by,’ life is for living and you can decide what that life looks like, what your day looks like. Even if it’s going to be indoors for the foreseeable future.

And sure that can be tough with all the challenges we’re facing right now, or ya know, when an infant dictates what most of your day looks like. We need to approach our day with intent, now more than ever. Or the day will shape us.

Parenting

A few things I’ve learned about being a parent in my 3 months of being a parent:

-You will never have a hot meal again.

-Sleeping more than 5 consecutive hours is a treat you may never know again.

-You will always be covered in some sort of bodily fluid.

-Time is a flat circle.

-Childcare is prohibitively expensive. How does anyone do it?

-Makeup? What’s that.

-Shower? Lolol.

-You’ll love that baby more than you’ve ever loved anything, and yes, your baby is the cutest baby around.

Theme Unintended

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When I named this site, I really did mean for the title to be placeholder, and if anything else, just be ironic that I never got around to changing it. Lol, right?
Well, since then, I’ve become even more conscious of how many things in life are temporary. I’m aware of just how much this theme runs through life, especially after being pregnant… the “morning sickness,” the SPD pain, the swollen feet, ultrasounds, baby’s kicks, postpartum pain and recovery, postpartum hormones and tears, nighttime feedings, newborn clothes, changing diapers, literally milking my boobs and juggling pump parts. It’s all temporary, and what feels like forever right now (hello sleepless nights) really doesn’t last all that long.
I can’t wait to see her grow up, but I also wish I could freeze every moment. She changes every week, every day. She’s already almost doubled her weight! I’ve watched her little nostrils and thumbnails get bigger, knowing that she’ll never be this small again. I try to absorb every little sound and funky movement she makes, knowing that next week she may move on to something else.
The only thing that isn’t temporary is that I’m a mom now. And that’s alright with me. As I watch her grow and change, I’m happy to continue being that guiding light, whenever and however she needs it, for the rest of my life.

Frosé Pleasé

07552662-63C7-424A-9DB9-5163A9F078F5As I stand up and look at my moms social group (yes, I’m in a moms social group), a little part of me still can’t believe I’m here. I delved into the new High Fidelity reboot series last week, and it reminded me so much of my old life in Chicago. Concerts, bars, booze, spirited discussions about music and culture, bad choices and unnecessary drama… check, check, check, check aaand check.

I don’t miss that life (and I certainly wouldn’t want to return to the drama and heartache that accompanied it), but seeing the scene so well represented sure does pull on my heartstrings. I have a fondness for the places, people, experiences and of course the music.

I’d like to think I’m still a little more Rob than frosè girl in spirit though, or at least somewhere between, but as I walk my stroller up to the coffee shop in my yoga pants and a tank top that says “grateful thankful blessed,” I fear I may have gone full frosè.

Trying to reconcile your past with your present and future is a complex thing, especially for someone so cynical. One episode especially hit home, where Rob’s brother realizes that his life is drastically going to change with the addition of baby:

“I’m so excited to have this baby with you. Just, I don’t wanna lose the person that I used to be. That guy’s – – I like that guy. He’s super chill.”

Ouch.

I felt that hard. But, the thing is, you are still you when life changes! You bring all that shit (good and bad) with you as wisdom, and maybe you have some cool stories to boot. As my girl Lisa said so eloquently when we discussed it, “Getting older is becoming ok becoming the thing you use to hate, and realizing you hate a bit of who you were in the first place.”

Hashtag growth.

She also added, “Eh, frosè is delicious. Like Rob said at the bar, ha.”

Hashtag truth.

 

Six months

I’m in the last week of my second trimester, and wouldn’t you know it, things all over my body are already starting to hurt and/or swell. They say the second trimester is the bright spot of pregnancy–you’re not nauseous anymore like in the first, and you’re not yet feeling the bodily discomfort of growing larger and larger in the third.

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It’s something new, something different, expected or not, every day.

But each week as my belly grows bigger, my baby’s kicks, punches and rolls are growing stronger. I can’t really describe the feeling of having another tiny human being moving around inside my body. It’s weird, wonderful, and oddly comforting and routine. There’s the way she riles up about a half hour after I eat, the way she responds when she hears her daddy’s voice, the early morning kicks before I get out of bed, and late night jabs when I’m trying to fall asleep.

Sure I tire easily and some days it hurts to walk, but I’m sure that I’ll miss all of it once she’s with us on the outside.

It’s only temporary.

My spouse and I are sharing a one-room apartment. But it’s only temporary.

Our kitchen has no stove. But it’s only temporary.

It’s been chilly and cloudy almost every day. All day. In southern California. I’m told it’s called “June Gloom” and that it’s just temporary.

I don’t have a job. But that’s just temporary.

For a short time I didn’t have health insurance, but that was only temporary.

I’m sick to my stomach almost every day. But I’m told it’s only temporary.

I’ve been too exhausted to work out or go to a yoga class lately. But hopefully it’s only temporary.

I literally have two heartbeats inside of me. But that will just be temporary, too.

 

Everything in life is temporary. But that’s where the joy comes from! If nothing ever changed, we wouldn’t have goals, motivation or appreciation.

Years ago, I was going through a particularly rough time and a friend gave me the following quote that has stuck with me ever since:

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Setting Intentions

It’s the last day of the first month of 2019. The time we use to set our intentions for the year. I used to think that manifesting was bullshit, though. Maybe using words like intentions and goals makes it a little easier to swallow. How else are you supposed to achieve goals without keeping them front of mind? I’m still skeptical about manifesting concrete things like love or people into your life, but if you keep yourself open to a possibility rather than being cynical or closed off, it could be called a success in the end. Changing your mindset can change your life.

I’ve almost always kept myself surrounded by reminders of my past and present. Photos of people I’m grateful to have in my life, pictures and souvenirs of happy events and moments, vacations, etc. But it wasn’t until the last few years that I decided to display phrases and quotes to influence how I wanted to feel. I would stick post-it notes on my bedroom door, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, places that I would see them and be reminded every day.

Last year was the first time that I set an intention in a visual form. I posted two California postcards from a recent trip on my bulletin board. Part reminder of a great trip that was meaningful to me, and part intention of eventually moving there. At the time it seemed crazy, but I thought that I would be really happy in the climate and culture of Los Angeles, and I realized that as you get older there are less and less opportunities to try something new, to completely change your life. And I wasn’t getting any younger.

So I set it there. One year. Open to the possibility. Intention set. I saw the postcards every day. And the idea became less and less crazy, especially as I started to see the signs that were everywhere. I was open to it, but not pushing it. And now that move is in the works.

 

I’d love to hear your own stories of manifesting or intentions realized. Has simply changing your mindset ever changed your own life?

 

Gratitude.

Remember the joy of Christmas morning as a kid? You know no different, a single focus of energy and attention.

That feeling is near impossible to replicate as an adult, replaced by things like love, loss, gratitude, fear. Often at the same time. Much more complex emotions than the purity of a child.

Today is one of those days. Only a few of my friends really know about it. It’s closing day on the sale of the house I owned with my ex husband. I feel relieved, scared, melancholy, hopeful.

As I realized months ago on the day my divorce was final, this is the type of thing where there is no winner, there is no celebratory party in order. It’s just sad. Sad that a marriage failed, sad that we both lost a lot of money, and sad that everyone involved felt a lot of pain. But now I look forward, unencumbered by my past. I was able to let go of heavy emotions and events form my past, even further back than this last decade. I learned how to be more aware, accepting, and not view myself as the victim in every scenario.

Through it all I focused my attention on positive gratitude. I’m grateful for my friends and family who held my hands and gave me advice. I’m grateful for lite moments that made me laugh while I cried. I journal morning and night about the things I am grateful for, and it turns out the things appearing most often are some of the most basic things in life, and things that can be so easy to take for granted.