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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beginnings



So, yeah, we are moving to Australia.

That's pretty much what motivated me to dust off the keyboard and jot down some thoughts over here, although I'm still on the fence as to what extent I'll use it.  Do I want to go to Tumblr? Is the blog format still relevant and appealing?  Do I really care?

Jesse was offered a terrific position in the Sunshine Coast (in the state of Queensland, just north of Brisbane, on the northeast coast) in a lovely Montessori school, which came with enough inducements that we didn't really feel we could pass the opportunity up in all good conscience.  At 11 & 13, the girls are at the high end of good ages to do something like this, we think, and the experience of living in a new country can surely only be a good one.  Without a language barrier (well, much of one), and with a beautiful climate and a friendly population, Australia seems like the perfect expat spot for our crew.

If you Google image search the Sunshine Coast, you get gorgeous beach views and incredible sunrises over the ocean.  Look for Buderim, the ostensible location of the school, and you'll see the sub-tropical, lush hinterlands and famous Buderim Falls. Gorgeous, no?

At this stage, our house is under contract, one of our cars is sold, our belongings are pared down to fit in a 20' shipping container, our dogs have new homes, our kitty is in limbo, our kids are dreading leaving their friends, their home of 9 years, and the only school they've ever known, yet are also pretty excited, and Jesse has bid many sweet and tearful farewells to the students, parents and staff at school.  He starts his new job in mid-April, so he leaves in a few days to get there early, do some exploring, enjoy some much needed downtime, and get settled in before his first day.  The girls and I will stay here until school is out, visit family near and far, and meet him in San Diego to spend the summer before we all head to Oz together in August.  So, maybe we are in limbo as well.

It's strange to have this long, protracted goodbye - we've known since November - but also sort of comforting.  We've had plenty of time to plan and prepare, and to appreciate our favorite parts and people of Austin, but also to anticipate our new life and family adventure.

In the meantime, I'm full of gratitude and appreciation for the goodness and good people in my life, and looking forward to creating a good life in Australia with my beloved family.




Monday, March 03, 2014

C'est la vie (froid)

I just have a few minutes before my work day starts in earnest.  And by "starts," I mean when my non-stop series of conference calls begins.  I moved into a new position in September and I don't think I've ever been as busy and had as full a workload in my 19 year (!) career with this company.  I love it, and even the stressful days are worthwhile, but I do relish the few peaceful moments I get very much


It was spring here in Austin this weekend - we had a garage sale, we made bank, we took the rest of the stuff to Goodwill, we (ahem, Jesse and Smith) installed new Flor in the laundry room, we rearranged the remaining and new furniture, we cleaned, we enjoyed the beautiful weather by grilling and entertaining Smith and the boys (I like that sentence construction, so I won't change it), and we had all of our doors and windows open to enjoy the 80 degree weather. 

We also said goodbye to our sweet dogs, who went on to live with some incredibly kind new humans.

Then of course, as so often happens, one more (last?) cold front blew in, so we lit another fire, did laundry all day (once Jesse re-wired the dryer that somehow went defunct during either the move or when I put a feather comforter in it...), planned cold-weather meals, did some shopping, and then watched way too much TV.  This morning it dropped to 22 at our house with an even colder wind chill, the heater can't keep up without going into Aux/toaster mode, and we all are wearing our coziest clothes that we'd hoped to put behind us soon.  So it goes - we make the best of what we have, right?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gratitude

Today I'm grateful for more than a couple of things.

  • My Traditional Medicinals Peppermint tea.  I love and crave all things peppermint (no spearmint for me, thank you, unless it's an actual leaf), and this tea captures the essence of mint exactly.  
  • Having floors in my house.  It's something you take for granted, but WOW is it important to me.  Living in a construction zone for an extended period of time would really jack with my mental health.  Our floors have been in again since before Thanksgiving and I am grateful for them every day.  Thank you, Joel and Smith (and Chase Bank, sadly).
  • The view into my back yard.  It's always calming, and the fact that I can watch the flurry of Tufted Titmouses, Black-Capped Chickadees, Cardinals, Bluejays and Goldfinches while I work helps get me through many a stressful day.
  • The sweet little yellow table our Mac sits on, that Kris helped me pick out, and which Jesse stopped from wobbling yesterday.  It pleases me.
  • These cute and tasty grass-fed & whole milk yogurts.  SO GOOD.
  • Waking up to a cortado espresso every morning.
  • Listening to my children chat to each other helpfully as they get ready for school.  Some days there is more yelling, but on days like today when they are so friendly and peaceful, it's much easier to love life.
  • My sweet, amazing, wonderful, supportive and patient husband.  He's one of the best human beings I know and I'm grateful for him every minute of every day.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cancer and Shame

Plenty of things to write about here, but I'm going to start with "Cancergate*," the unoriginal moniker for the pair of columns penned by Bill Keller at the NYT and his wife for the Guardian.  His op-ed piece seems to be, in part, a response to the reaction hers received.

Have you read them?  Good.

I read his first, yesterday, and have been following the comments about it on Twitter with interest.  For the most part, they have been vitriolic, although one article I read did mention that commenters on the NYT site were more thoughtful.  I'm also reading Brene Brown's book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough," and so the first thing I thought when I read his piece was that he was reacting out of shame, and that he was defending his wife, and perhaps, her shame.


Brene makes a really useful differentiation between shame and guilt, which boils down to this (for me): guilt is over an action that you took or are taking, which you can stop, and which you regret.  Shame is a gut reaction based on external influences from your childhood, society, the media, etc, which has nothing to do with what you did but everything to do with other people's perception and judgement of you.

I just read her piece today, and what I took from it was that she was engaging in (public) self-examination around her fascination with Lisa Adams' blow-by-blow account of her ordeal with cancer and cancer treatment, and grappling with such questions as, was she being a voyeur by following the twitter account so closely? Why was she so obsessed? Is this a new cultural phenomenon, and if so, is it positive or not?

I didn't really read judgement in Emma Keller's piece - certainly not of Adams.  I did see self-examination, and an extrapolation of that to cultural examination, and our obsession with real reality TV.

Bill seemed to set out to defend his wife, and told us about her own recent brush with cancer, as well as her father's peaceful death from the disease. He compared the British health care system favorably to that in the US, noting that doctors and hospitals in the States tend to take heroic efforts to save lives in every situation, even those like that of his father-in-law in which the patient might prefer to proceed without painful treatment. He notes that her choice to fight the cancer is different than that of his father-in-laws, but does not decry it.  He goes on to say it is working for her, it is beneficial to the hospital, and calls her social media campaign a sort of "self-medication."  What he does call into question are the social/cultural benefits of such a campaign - to what end does it benefit us, the watching public?

It's his closing remarks that really send people into a tizzy, I think - so I'll put them all here for reference:

Her digital presence is no doubt a comfort to many of her followers. On the other hand, as cancer experts I consulted pointed out, Adams is the standard-bearer for an approach to cancer that honors the warrior, that may raise false hopes, and that, implicitly, seems to peg patients like my father-in-law as failures.


Steven Goodman, an associate dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, said he cringes at the combat metaphor, because it suggests that those who choose not to spend their final days in battle, using every weapon in the high-tech medical arsenal, lack character or willpower.

“I’m the last person to second-guess what she did,” Goodman told me, after perusing Adams’s blog. “I’m sure it has brought meaning, a deserved sense of accomplishment. But it shouldn’t be unduly praised. Equal praise is due to those who accept an inevitable fate with grace and courage.”
  
Here's what made me think of Brene's book - I imagined that his wife was likely still dealing with her own feelings and fear about her medical health, and her father's recent death.  I thought about how she must be processing these issues in part by following the Lisa Adams' story so obsessively, and how, as a columnist, she naturally wrote about this intersection of personal and societal obsession.  I wondered if she felt ashamed of her father for giving in without a fight - if there was some unspoken pressure from her upbringing or not so unspoken from society which told her that a real man, a strong man, would have fought to live.  

I wonder if his rush to write his own column was, in part, a way for him to express to his wife and to the world that it's OK to choose palliative care over aggressive treatment.  I didn't take from his words that he judged Lisa Adams for doing so, only that he wanted to point out that just because she is unarguably heroic for fighting so hard and so publicly to manage her disease in the manner she chooses, that her choice doesn't negate the different choices other people make.

Ultimately, I wasn't offended by their columns - but I realize I'm in the minority.  I didn't think either one of them were criticizing Lisa Adams' choices around her medical care; rather, they questioned the prolific social media posts by Lisa, and the equally avid consumption of them by the public (in Emma's case, including herself); and called for recognition of palliative care as an equally heroic alternative.

I'd love to hear what you think, though - what's your take on it?

* 1/15 Update:  John Stewart and I are on the same page

Friday, December 13, 2013

Test One, Two

Thinking about a revival.  Anyone out there?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Whole new me

I haven't posted in awhile because, while I need to get up my tri post,
I don't want Peevish to think I'm a jock, so I was waiting to post on a non-athletic topic first. Obviously, that's taken awhile. But y'all - I totally did a triathlon.


In an effort to create distance between me and my jockiness - jockularity? - I thought I'd tell you about another new interest of mine - cosmetics. Specifically, eye make-up, and more specifically, as in I am wearing it. I know, shocking.

I've never worn make-up, in all my soon-to-be forty years. I mean, lipstick maybe, or powder, and I did put on a face for my wedding. But in general...no.


I was happy with that choice, and I'm happy with my choice now.

I visited the Bobbi Brown counter at Nordstrom's a few weeks ago, and had a terrific sales rep who finessed the my desire to have more going on with my eyes yet not look like a clown / hooker.

I think, anyway. I mean, right?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I did it

OK, OK, I know I said I wouldn't make this an exercise blog, but I did just run my first race today, so I feel like I need to put that out there before I move on.

Hey! I ran my first race today!


It was fun - super-crowded, what with 22,000 people running alongside me, but once you got past the crush at the starting point, it wasn't too bad.

Jesse and the girls found me during the race to cheer me on, then met me at the end.

As did the Krispy family, because they are awesome like that.


I mugged for the camera in front of the hordes of people - many were still streaming in.


I averaged 11:21 minute miles, which is right where I normally end up. I signed up for the Austin Fit "Run Like a Girl" training program at the beginning of the year, and highly recommend it for any first-time runners. We met for the 10 Saturdays leading up to the race, and they gave us a recommended training program for each week. It really helped me work up to this distance, and introduced me to the "run 5 minutes walk 1 minute" approach which I think makes any distance do-able.

I'm not sure I'd want to run a longer race, but I'd run a 10k again. Next stop: The Rookie Tri. I really need to work on my swimming...