March. Here we are again. My nemesis month. They weren’t joking around with the whole Ides of March thing, except for when the ides last not just a single day, but 31. In Marches of the past, I’ve cried in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue after a doctor told me I’d need “very painful” nerve testing to help diagnose the chronic pain that turned out to be endometriosis; I’ve cried over my first and second miscarriages; I’ve cried when my cancer recurred; I’ve cried on my way to the emergency room, sure I was having yet another miscarriage; I’ve cried when I’d just gone back to work and Katie wouldn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time and I was dizzy with sleep deprivation; I’ve cried because it wouldn’t stop snowing.
Like I said, March.
Luck of the Irish, my ass.
Of course, March hasn’t been all bad. I met my husband in March. I’ve taken fantastic trips in March. I found out in that emergency room that what I expected would be a miscarriage was a pregnancy that was right on track. And so, in that spirit, I’m kicking off the month by not wallowing in the past but counting up some good things.
(Please, please, universe, let this be good karma for the month ahead.)
Three things I’ve loved lately:
- That two of my friends are going back to school. They don’t need to go back – they want to go back. They have busy families and full-time jobs, and yet their hearts are pulling them back to school to fulfill their dreams. The work won’t be easy, but it will be important, to them and their kids, who will watch them sacrifice for something they really, really want. And I think that’s awesome.
- An animal shelter in Missouri brings in kids to read to orphaned dogs. I challenge your heart not to grow three sizes when you read this story. These kids are helping dogs learn to be more comfortable with strangers so they’ll have a better chance of getting adopted. Excuse me, I need some tissues.
- 20 tips on writing from smart women (h/t Kate Baer). “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” You tell ‘em (ahem, us), Anne Lamott.
Three things I’ve learned:
- A Practical Wedding. Most eager magazine journalism students in my classes either wanted to run a high-brow news magazine (they were real-life paper products, then) or a fashion magazine. There weren’t many of us clamoring to be the editor of Bride’s. But that was me. Even as I wrote political op-eds and ran the entertainment section of our school newspaper, I harbored a not-so-secret goal of running the magazine that’s stuffed with dresses and invitations and calendars of what to do, when, when you’re getting married. I jettisoned my big Bride’s dreams when the political magazine came calling, but I kept a sweet spot for all things wedding. So I was excited when I found the “Practical Wedding” episode of the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast – with the creator of apracticalwedding.com, which is totally the site I wish existed when I was getting married. I mean, its articles include “Father-Daughter Dance Songs (for feminists)” and “What Happened to My Marriage When My Partner Got Sick.” Oh, and “Wedding Day Timeline: Simple Tips for a Happy Day.” I was the QUEEN of the wedding-day timeline. Check out the site and the podcast episode.
- Why we can’t read anymore. This piece was part of the class I took last month on finding a balance among life, work, and creativity. If my head actually contained a light bulb, this article would have turned it on. I’ve been beating myself up for not reading books anymore, but it turns out that I’m not alone. We’re all becoming addicted to the dopamine rush that our little digital devices give us – and it’s making it harder to concentrate. (Case in point as I write this paragraph: I have open on my other computer screen the following: Twitter, Facebook, three email accounts, two newspaper sites, and eight other blogs. My brain is like a pinball machine.) Now comes the hard work of figuring out how to deprogram myself. To be continued.
- There is unimaginable sadness in this life – but from that sadness can also grow immense beauty. Okay, this isn’t something that I’ve learned specific to the last month. But my blog reading has taken me to sites that have opened my eyes to some of the most difficult experiences that people can go through. These stories, especially those about the loss of a child, are heartbreaking: often raw and almost always tear-inducing. But they are also a testament to sheer resilience and the incredible depth of a parent’s love — and realizing that, on its own, brings more tears. I’ve been bowled over by the new On Coming Alive project from Lexi Behrndt at Scribbles and Crumbs, all about the aftermath of terrible heartache. My heart can only bear to read a few stories at a time, but each one is honest and beautiful and optimistic, and they keep me coming back for more. These are the stories we need to read, as difficult as they may be. They make us better, and better to each other.
Three things I’ve felt grateful for:
- Free admission to most of DC’s museums. That came in handy when Katie had a meltdown in the National Archives last weekend. You know the kind: it starts with a fidgety kid, escalates to a guard asking if you “need a quiet moment,” and ends with “we need to get out of here NOW.” I was glad we hadn’t paid $20 each to get in when we had to make our hasty exit.
- Anna Quindlen. In getting back into her last novel that I put down about a year ago, I’m reminded just how much I love everything she writes, and how she inspires me to learn more, to read more, and to write more. Next up: rereading the three books of her essays. I wonder how her collection of “Life in the 30s” column will look on this side of 30 and two kids. Her new novel comes out next month. Please, please Anna come to DC for a reading. PLEASE.
- Finding summer camps. I told a friend that piecing together summer camp coverage for 2.5 months is worse than doing calculus. (And I was in the calculus class that had to have the formulas painted on the walls, so that should tell you a lot.) Camps for preschoolers are few and far between, and those with full-day coverage are even rarer. Because, you know, why would full-time working parents need a safe, fun place to send their kids who are too old for daycare and too young for kindergarten for the summer? Argh. <<Stepping off soapbox.>> I’m especially thankful that we *appear* to have found three camps relatively close to our house, and that Teddy will have good friends he already knows in each. Transitions are hard enough at three years old, never mind going to a bunch of different places with new teachers and unknown kids all summer. And since this is a good thing, I won’t get started on the cost of camp. Nope. Not going to do it. Focusing on the good. And the fact that by the time camps start, March will be firmly in our rear-view mirror.
With that, may the leprechauns be good to you this month.
What have you loved, learned, and felt grateful for lately?