Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3.17 Miles

In the past week and a half, I went to three Zumba classes, and today I walked 3.17 miles on a treadmill.

I hadn't been to the gym in months--maybe five?--and I could give you every excuse under the sun for that. Some of those excuses are legitimate even, but still, they're just excuses.

Hannah started a running program tonight, with the end goal of doing a 5K. She's really excited about it, and I want to be supportive of her efforts. One way to do that is by getting myself moving again too. This morning, I walked that 5K, just over 3.1 miles. It took me an hour. I don't know how to run, and the thought of it actually scares me when I think about my back and possibly injuring myself, so today I walked.

It's hard to not get bogged down by the difficulties of both the time it takes to go to the gym and the timing of it, blood sugar and insulin, gym-goer dynamics, how to work the machines, my insecurities about how I look while working out. There is so much I dislike about all this.

But today I walked 3.17 miles. It's something.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Instead of #BanBossy, Let's #BeBold

Unlike many bloggers, I don't get a lot of press releases. So I was pretty excited when last Monday, just before 9 am, I was included in the press release for Lean In's movement to ban the word bossy. The excitement quickly wore off though, as I just couldn't get riled up over the whole thing.

I get that Sheryl Sandberg was called bossy as a young girl, and she must have been affected by it on a deep level to still struggle with it all these years later and despite her mountains of success. I'm sure many others were called bossy growing up, but it wasn't until Sandberg brought it up that I've ever heard it as such an impactful word. Personally, I don't remember ever being called bossy, even when I made my younger brother play what I wanted for hours. So banning bossy didn't translate on a personal level, but I still felt it was something more that repelled me.

I've thought about it all week, and the conclusion I've come to is this: why focus on the negative? Why, if we're going to acknowledge the tremendous power that words have, should we just talk about the words you don't want us to say? Why not instead launch a huge, celebrity-filled campaign that actually encourages young girls to be leaders, instead of reminding them of what they're not supposed to be?

The videos the campaign has produced are very short, and the first half reminds us of all of the limitations that are out there, that girls can be socialized in ways that discourage them from raising their hand in class, from being confident in their abilities, to being stifled by labels. It's only in the second half of the videos that they say girls should be empowered to lead, and how many people actually bothered to get to that point in the message? I'm sure many more people heard that they should ban the word bossy and not much else.

If you're going to reduce life down to bite-size, hash-tagged nuggets, why not focus on the positive instead? How differently would the message be received if instead BeyoncĂ©, Jennifer Garner and Jane Lynch encouraged our girls to be bold? To embrace challenge and uncertainty with the sense that they innately possess the skills to handle it? Because sometimes, being authoritative, aggressive and yes, even bossy, is what it takes to get things done. Someone has to be in charge, so why not tell girls to be bold, and let them see themselves in those positions of power? 

Beyoncé broke the album release model with a surprise, complete album and music videos. Jennifer Garner portrayed a kick-ass CIA agent in "Alias," and Jane Lynch brought (okay, not the best example here) fearing your gym teacher to a new level on "Glee." I'm sure they all signed on to this campaign because of its ultimate message of female empowerment. I just think it's a shame that the good it's meant to do is overshadowed by a distracting focus on one word.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Seventh Blogiversary

Today, The Life of LilMisBusy/Busy Since Birth, you are turning seven...

Okay, okay, I won't make this identical to my annual birthday letters for Hannah and Max. Though, it is tempting.

This blog is a bit like my third (often very neglected and therefore lucky it's just virtual) baby. I've often said, when telling people that I blog, that it's my third life, after my family and real work responsibilities. And at seven years strong, it is one of the longest-running commitments I've ever had. Busy Since Birth has had over 100,000 page views (though my spamming friends in Ukraine have had a good deal to do with that). Through this blog, I've made many new friendships and strengthened existing ones, I've had a platform to discuss issues I care about, I've had my writing featured elsewhere and now I'm producing a show. I honestly couldn't have predicted all of that when I began. I just wanted to share my story, and sometimes convince you to share yours with me.

Thanks to all of you who have been reading along the way. I'd love it if you'd take a moment to "de-lurk" and leave me a comment, like Busy Since Birth on Facebook, subscribe to the email updates or just in some way tell me you've been here.

Unless you're in Ukraine. I promise I won't be offended if you've all got better things to do than keep up with me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stress and Strategies: Sick and Early Release Days

After a bumpy week and a week of all abouts and over its, things have calmed down some. It's been a normal level of busy for the past week and a half, and I definitely prefer it. But it hasn't been complication-free, and I'm wondering how all of you handle these little scheduling challenges. Here's how things are going down for this three week stretch.

Last week, Max got sick. It wasn't a huge deal, but he did have a fever. I figured it would mean missing two days of school, and so Marc and I compared calendars. I had a big meeting the second day Max would be out of school, so I took the first day of working at home and Marc took the second.

This week, the kids had two early release days from school, meaning school ends for the day at 12:30 instead of 3 pm. Our school district does this every Tuesday (thus my work from home Tuesdays), and six additional days throughout the year. Marc had an early morning thing for work on Tuesday, so I got the kids to school and then went in to my office, and Marc came home in time to meet Hannah from the early release day. Marc picked up Max from aftercare (he goes five days a week) and then did the Hebrew school carpool run and got Hannah. I worked late and got home just a few minutes before they did. On Thursday, the second day of early release this week, I'll be going in to the office for two and a half hours, mainly because I have clients coming in from out of the country, and then I'll be the one to meet Hannah at home again.

Next week brings another change to the plans. The state-run exams, MCAS, are going on, and one is held on Tuesday. Since the test can take longer than the normal school day, which again usually ends at 12:30, the Tuesday school day is extended until 3, and there will be a 12:30 early release on Wednesday instead. Our aftercare behaves similarly and pretends that Tuesday is Wednesday and Wednesday is Tuesday. However, the rest of the world doesn't follow this little scheduling quirk, and so life outside of our school goes on as usual. This means Hannah needs to get to Hebrew school on Tuesday (and here I'm praying our dear friends will help us out with that, as they usually do), and on Wednesday she'll be coming home as 12:30 with no plan for the rest of the day. Fortunately, I can switch my schedule and work from home on Wednesday instead, and we are very grateful to our friends for helping out with that Tuesday one hour childcare gap.

Now I'm not telling you all this to bash the schools or the systems they have in place (though I may not think they are very family-friendly, I know there are more issues at work here than I can adequately address). And obviously, kids get sick and taking care of them is part of the deal of parenting. But I find all of this juggling and scheduling stressful, and I'm one of the luckiest ones out there, with a supportive spouse and a (generally) flexible work environment. I think we've found some good strategies for coping with these schedule adjustments, but it's something we always make up as we go.

What about you? How does your family handle the unexpected and the expected scheduling issues? Share your stress and strategies in the comments!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Appreciating Failure

Before I'd even fully conceptualized my answer, I realized I was raising my hand to interject during the panel I was on last week. The question was on being a role model for our daughters because we were working moms. I wanted to point out that while I want my children (not just my daughter, by the way) to be proud of my successes, I want them to be proud of the things I learn from my failures too.

It's a concept I remember hearing about in grad school, that companies and individuals with the most long-term success had managed to learn important lessons from failures along the way.

And then...I stopped writing this post. Because admitting failure is hard.

I want to preserve the shiny veneer and say, look, look at me, I'm hugely successful in all that I do. I'm super lucky and blessed and grateful for all of it. I've been fortunate that any fails I've had along the way weren't bad enough to derail me, didn't stop me from moving on to the next thing and trying to achieve my goals.

But that isn't the example I want to show my children. I want them to know that I'm not perfect, that I've struggled with working hard, being patient, waiting my turn. That I've learned when things didn't go my way.

Since the fall, my town has seen three of its teenagers commit suicide. I haven't been connected to any of the families, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about them, especially since the third one is from a Jewish family, so close to my circles. My "lean in" circle, a group of women that have been meeting for about a year now, discussed the stress and pressure that these teens were presumed to be under. Again, I found myself saying that we need to help our children understand that we can survive failure, that we have seen it and beaten it ourselves.

And then Idina Menzel blew it at the Oscars. Her name was flubbed, maybe she had a cold, who knows, but I knew she missed her big note and the performance in total seemed off. Hannah watched with me, and I told her the missed note made me love Idina even more. A day later, she saw Idina's performance with Jimmy Fallon, and heard her hit that big note just fine. She saw her get up, go to work, and get it right this time.

Failing is hard work. Learning to appreciate it when we do fail is even harder.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Over It and All About

I'd like to have thought that after such a bumpy week, I'd have an easier time the following week, but it was honestly just as crazy and intense. I really thought I was going to have blogged a second time last week, as I had planned, but now it's four days later and there just hasn't been time.

So here's a quick list of everything I was all about and completely over it about last week.

Over It: the bruised hands I had from hours chipping ice in my driveway last weekend. Hannah and I created a snow adversary, and its "torso" still occupies a big hump in our driveway. Parking my car shouldn't feel like an off road adventure.

All About: being a public speaker! Apparently what Nancy was saying was totally interesting. Thanks to Liz for having me!

Over It: a not-so-great doctor's visit. My coughing is improving, but there is always other stuff to be worked on. (Nothing to warrant a phone call from concerned family members, just stuff.)

All About: my new bag. With everything else in my life being black or grey, I needed something to tell me spring is coming. Even if it's going to snow again tonight.

Over It: this happened when I stayed late at work on Thursday night:
All About: seeing these two attack the dance floor at our friend's daughter's bat mitzvah. And getting Hannah's own bat mitzvah date for 2017. O.M.G. My date was pretty cute too.

I'm going to try hard not to have a lot of expectations about this week. Life's been a little too interesting lately.