Archive for February, 2014

Insights

February 24, 2014

Oh the ongoing dramas of life.

Last month I went to a women’s circle meeting, organized by a woman at our church who is the first woman to have been ordained in our denomination here in Colombia. She invited a bunch of her friends who for one reason or another don’t exactly fit the conventional church way of being, so it’s kind of an alternative group. This is the second or third time I’ve gone, the meetings were sporadic last year and when they did happen I often couldn’t go because of travel. But they are lovely. The first meeting I went to, a woman shared a meditation on intuition, built on the framework of Maiden, Mother and Crone – doncella, madre, y anciana – somehow much more poetic in Spanish. I was astonished and delighted by the whole thing. 

This last time, we talked about a technique called co-counseling, which one woman in the group has been trained in; what I took away from the discussion was this idea that we are socialized to suppress certain strong emotions, instead of expressing them, and that this suppression locks us up internally so we can’t process or solve problems easily. We get really stuck. Co-counseling is, apparently, a set of techniques for releasing these emotions and freeing us to move forward with our lives. 

Makes sense, right?

I realized that the day I learned about Illyria being denied entry to that one school, I locked up a lot of the emotion. I did cry – quite a bit – but it wasn’t the full release that I knew I needed. And I think that has been contributing to my insomnia quite a bit. The day I told our team during a routine check-in about how anxious and stressed I’ve been about that and my dissertation, I slept hard all night for more than 10 hours. Just putting it out there somehow made a big difference. 

Then Saturday Gimli was in the WORST mood, he’d been awake since 12:30, circling around in his head about a friction at work. Which I didn’t think was really the issue, frankly. I asked him to try to figure out what was really bothering him – and probed whether it had something to do with an e-mail from a friend/colleague in the US who is exploring possibilities for a sabbatical? I know my husband. I know his triggers, and this is one of them – seeing other people go to exciting places, places he sees as being “out there,” on the fringes as opposed to in centers. And I think that was it. He said it out loud: feeling jealous, wondering if we’d made the right decision in coming here, feeling that wanderlust, that itch to see over the horizon into an exciting new adventure, feeling like our lives here are humdrum and ordinary.

There was no solution – I didn’t offer any answers or resolutions, just listened and acknowledged his feelings, and within minutes he was a different person. For 3-4 days we’d been butting heads over all kinds of things, and suddenly we were in harmony again. Instead of longing for him to leave on another trip I was feeling like we’re going to miss him (he’s going to the Middle East for 2 weeks in March). It was amazing to see the turnaround. And it unlocked his mental energy for working towards a solution to what’s been bothering him at work. 

Last night I was awake at 2 a.m., grumbling mentally about the note from my dissertation committee – and I realized that I need to make some changes. I need to establish a writing space in the office, where I won’t be distracted. I need to aim for 3-4 hours a day, not just 1. I need to print out all the documents I’m working with because I work visually, and my desire to save paper is getting me nowhere in terms of productivity. I’ll worry about my energy footprint later.

I found the USB stick I’d been working with in january that i thought I’d lost – with all my backups on it as well as a bunch of articles I’d downloaded only there.

My goal is to become slightly obsessed with this thing because that’s the only way it’s going to get done.

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More maudlin musings

February 21, 2014

So I took Oz to the doctor this morning; he’s been off all week, since Sunday really – sleeping a lot, drinking a lot of water, peeing a lot, complaining about a tummy ache. Sunday and Tuesday he developed a fever in the wee hours, around 3 or 4 a.m., but it was gone both times by mid-morning. 

Gimli and I had a HUGE disagreement about whether there was anything wrong or not. I finally “won” this morning but it still really annoyed me that he didn’t see what I was seeing – I felt belittled and dismissed. Although I don’t think that was what he meant to communicate. 

Wednesday I took Illyria to visit a small school near our house. They have some kind of arrangement with the preschool where the kids are now, such that it’s really easy for the kids to move from the preschool into this arts-focused elementary school. Although I’d had a really positive impression from the principal when I met her about a month ago, I wasn’t so impressed with the school building when we got the tour of the whole thing. It seems really bare, and small, although the kids are well-dressed and very clean and tidy, and one little girl ran up to us and said to Illyria “I know you!” and they took one another’s hands. I spent a good ten minutes or so talking with the classroom teacher where she’d be assigned which was nice. 

When I asked Illyria later what she thought of the school, she said “good! Fun!” which is what she’s said about every school we’ve visited so far. We’re going to take her to see one more, the one Gimli and I visited in the last post. We want her to be included in the decision. 

At the small school, they’re ready for her to start yesterday if we want, even though we haven’t actually finished the application process yet. At the big school, they told us that we’d actually missed the application deadline but they are still interested in us because they want more international students at the school.

Tuition at the small school costs 1/3 what the big one does. But then there’s part of me that’s thinking “you get what you pay for”…. 

The small school doesn’t require the kids to wear uniforms, and on nice days they all go and play in the small park that’s 1.5 blocks from our house. The big school does have uniforms, and they also have a library, a professional-standard soccer field, ballet classes, science labs…

I hate making decisions for other people. How can I know what is truly in someone else’s best interest?

I heard from my dissertation committee today… they have serious doubts whether I can be ready to defend in the late fall this year… but my advisor is telling them that I am very motivated right now. When I sit down to write, I delete two of every three sentences. I know that if I spin my wheels long enough I’ll catch traction and actually make progress – that’s what happened in January. But then I look at the time I have, and how packed March is going to be, and I start to panic. Two friends and I have formed a small support group to egg each other on and that’s been insanely helpful. I just know it’s not what would be available if I were actually on campus, and I wonder what I’m doing with my life?

tears for fears

February 10, 2014

I feel emotionally wrung out and exhausted. This is going to be another venting post about school applications, so you can skip it – I totally understand (“it’s bad when you annoy yourself”). 

So, a couple weeks ago when we found out that Illyria didn’t get into the school we’d applied to, Gimli made this appointment at a bilingual school that some American expats we know sent their kids to and liked a lot, so we went there this morning to meet with the admissions person and check it out. It seems like a really good school. The downside is that it’s on the more expensive side, and is way the heck across the city from where we live – about an hour commute back and forth. 

More to the point, I discovered that anything related to school admissions is now a huge anxiety trigger for me. I was tense and snappish all morning before we went, and I had a stomach ache by the time we finished the tour and presentation there. Over lunch Gimli probed a bit and then said, “It seems like you’re scared that there’s something fundamentally wrong with Illyria, and people are going to not understand her or not like her because of it.” I said “That’s almost word for word what I was just thinking,” and immediately broke down in tears. 

That’s it right there. And I don’t know what to do about it.