Motion

Let me be perfectly clear—earthquakes scare the living shit out of me. They are such a fascinating phenomenon— the sudden, explosive movement of millions of tons of rock and soil. The pure force behind the movement seems unprecedented—packing more energy than our ‘other’ biggest fears, aka nuclear bombs, but earthquakes in Ohio are rare in any case, even though I have felt one. My fear resides more in the irrational knowledge of earthquakes from my undergrad where they loved to ‘wow’ us with the most extreme examples of earthquakes’ destruction, and that I also will be required to regularly travel to a region with regular earthquakes for work.

But this post is really about the force it takes to set something into motion, which today was my body. Wow… it has been a long time since I’ve done a workout. The winter evenings starting so early make it difficult to go out and walk since my husband doesn’t want me walking in the dark. I just haven’t gone in weeks. To take a quote from one of my daughter’s shows, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” If anything, I enjoy walking in the cold as long as my ears and fingers are covered well. I just haven’t planned for workouts and made them fit into my schedule. I could find the time, but moving my mental barriers has seemed impossible. For many reasons I didn’t introduce workouts until today.

The preparation to get moving today was minimal. After dinner I was bored, it was early, and I needed to fill the time with something other than cleaning. We recently bought the new Apple Series 6 watches to track our movement and so that we won’t have to take our phones with us while walking… whenever we start walking again since our side walks are covered in ice. But Apple also offers a free trial to their new fitness programs if you have the watch. Searching the TV for something to watch, I figured I’d see what some of the fitness videos were about to fill time.

I chose a dance workout for 20 minutes and just stood up and moved. While I expended about 200 calories in that short time, it was less difficult to move than I realized. I’ve imagined my first workouts at this weight requiring the strength to move heaven and earth—a nearly impossible feat. I’ve mentally held myself back from moving assuming it would be too much for my heart or blood pressure. All these bloody excuses after excuses.

Instead, tonight, as my daughter started dancing with me and as she watched my exercise ring close in that cute Apple celebration with fireworks, we both laughed and had fun together. I couldn’t do anywhere near all the movement the lady on the screen was doing, but the new motion felt good. My daughter also loved listening to the music, especially P!nk’s “Let’s get this Party Started” and she was going up to her room to find it on her iPhone after we finished to listen to it more. After just 21 minutes I had burned some calories, moved my body, and had a lot of fun.

I’m looking forward to more motion in the coming weeks. I’m interested in how that will play in to the weight loss and my overall feelings. This morning I woke up very bloated and my weight was up 2lbs… in the era of carbs that happened regularly but not in the era of low carbs. My blood sugar was high but my ketones were okay. Looking forward to more changes, day by day…

Step by step…

Ooh, baby

Gonna get to you, girl…

(And I’m still laughing! LOL)

Bernoulli’s principle

It shocked some people I know that we studied Bernoulli’s principle in my geology program. Working for the United States Air Force now, my colleagues only think about Bernoulli’s principle in regards to the lift equation associated with flight. But for geologists, they (because it doesn’t feel right to say “we” without ever using the degree) use geology as a part of fluid dynamics which covers liquids and gases. In college we would look at rocks and estimate the amount of water or wind flowing through an area and the speed by the size of the particulates deposited… well, maybe it is more correct to say we determined the amount of water by calculating the velocity required to move particulates of that size through a defined space. But you get the drift.

Things have been a little weird the past week. My blood sugar has been up and ketones down still… My husband’s have been consistently higher with the same food consumption… but not the same water intake.

It’s funny really, the affects of water on our bodies, on the world, are nearly infinite yet it feels like that’s one of the things we take for granted. Clean water availability. When I have something going in with my body the questions I get from family, my doctors, online, is whether I need “more water”… from being too tired in the middle of the day, “drink more water”… to my high blood pressure, “drink more water to flush out the salt”… to my blood sugar being higher, “how much water are you drinking?”

Across the board, water is proving to be the key for success here. Whether it is controlling hunger, keeping everything flowing through the body well, keeping my focus… so much goes back to whether I’ve had the right amount of water.

So I’m back to tracking my water consumption to make sure I give my body the right chance to lose weight. In the meantime, I’m down 15 pounds total and ready to start working out to see what happens with my body!

And let’s not forget… We won’t just need clean water today, but for always. Let’s make some changes to make sure we always have clean water available when we need it.

Lunar cycles

The summer after my sophomore year in high school I was selected by the National Science Foundation to attend the Exploration of Careers in Science Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. It was a life changing experience for me. To find friends who were nerds like me, who loved learning and being in a learning environment, it was almost magical. I didn’t want to come home, even though I missed my family, because for the first time I found friends with similar interests like me. Learning to embody the scientific method that summer became a key characteristic of how I operate. That summer I truly started to find “me”.

It was during this time that I was first exposed to geological sciences, studying a Sedimentology phenomenon known as “tidal rhythmites,” wherein the thickness of the lamina layers of the sedimentary rocks we were studying could be graphed into what was obviously cycles of the moon… measuring and graphing these tiny layers through petrographic microscopes would show years and decades of tidal cycles in an ocean basin. It was incredible!

Studying those layers so closely, we could see what we believed were large storms depositing significant sediment in a short time. We could hypothesize about major changes over time in the tidal basin relating to the development of mountains (known as an orogeny) and see where the progression and regression of the basin was happening between different core samples of the same era. To make the correlation between tidal cycles and lamina layers took so much data to prove our hypotheses and disprove old hypotheses that the laminar layers were yearly events like a trees rings or thousands of years. We needed so much data to analyze.

I’ve been collecting data just as closely about my weight, blood glucose levels and ketones, and I’ve finally hit my first full lunar cycle… or at least that’s what I call it. LOL. This week was my first menstrual cycle since collecting data and it was very frustrating. Not only were my hormones doing their normal thing, but I was also diagnosed with shingles last Monday and my doctor immediately put me on anti-virals.

Among all of these things happening in my body my glucose levels shot up and my ketones dropped. I started to research more about what was going on and learned that many women’s blood glucose can elevate during their cycles. The stress of the shingles (stress because it hurts like no other!!!) may also have increased my blood sugar. I checked to see if the anti-viral prescription could be increasing my blood sugar and that doesn’t appear to be so. So somewhere among all of the chaos of this week things went awry and it left me feeling defeated at points.

Why do I believe things went awry? Because my husbands ketones stayed right where they were and mine dropped. Our food consumption stayed the same, no real differences to what each of us were doing. My weight also fluctuated up two – three pounds keeping my total weight loss at 10 lbs.

So what is the point of all of this? Just like when I was researching the tidal rhythmites, I need much more than one lunar cycle worth of data to really understand what is happening with my body and to try to even suggest a correlation. While there is plenty of data that women’s menstrual cycle can elevate blood glucose, we don’t know enough yet about my data points. One single menstrual cycle isn’t enough data for me to justifiably make significant changes to my life, but it is a point to look at, track and prepare for. If I am like many other women whose hormones affect their blood sugar, then I’m just normal and need to know this will be part of my journey. I can accept it and passively watch it, or actively try to mitigate it by working out (or eventually working out more) during that week. But to understand what is right for me will take much, much more time. I can’t expect a perfect solution to my life-long weight issues in just one month.

So just as I did that summer, I will need to look at more data over much more time to make any real conclusions. But today I will just keep pressing forward with what I’ve learned so far on this journey. And I’ll take joy in the fact that this morning’s meal planning only took 10 minutes for the whole week. Things are getting easier… and that feels good. Now to keep pressing.

[And yes, these shingles still hurt, but they are better!]

Mistakes aren’t always bad

When I was younger I cleaned a pair of pearl earrings by soaking them in hydrogen peroxide. My mom had always used hydrogen peroxide to clean my ear piercings to keep them healthy so I thought it would work well.

That was an irreversible mistake—pearls will effectively dissolve in hydrogen peroxide. I had destroyed my first, and to date only, pair of pearl earrings. A lesson that was so hard to learn.

This week has been full of reversible mistakes—ones that I can learn from to change my behavior in the future and reap positive benefits. Ones that by learning from and adapting to now, will help me be more successful in the future.

But the earrings… they are forever gone and I still feel the sadness of my mistake 20+ years later. They were a gift to me from my now deceased Grandmother… but if she is reading this from her afterlife home, I hope she is proud of what I’ve learned this week.

Specifically, that I’m not doing my best when I intermittent fast and have only a soups for our meals. They do not sustain me as much as I need even if I have two bowls. Instead, I need to have one bowl and a large filling salad with it and maybe a keto biscuit or very low carb bread. Instead what I have experienced this week is by 2300 hours I’m hungry. I’ve had water after water, and I’m still hungry. It’s actual hunger. Ugh.

The past couple nights I tried to make a smart decision for a snack but it wasn’t smart enough. I had too many almond crackers and a no-carb cheese ball that was still just too high in net carbs. This morning I woke up with my ketones only .1 and blood sugar at 96. What I take this to mean is I had too many carbs that my body burnt and my body didn’t need the ketones for energy so it stopped burning fat. Damn.

What I take from all of this is a lesson for my meal planning in the future and what I do for my leftover soup I have today.

Ultimately, this is a long journey ahead and I will make more mistakes. Each one I need to make sure I root-cause to determine what the specific mistake was and then determine what best behavior changes will set me up for better success. This is about lifelong change for me… reversible mistakes can be good.

As of this morning my weight was up two pounds from earlier this week, but I still have lost over 11 pounds since Dec 16th—and even after a mistake, that is totally something for me to CELEBRATE!

Pressure Solution

Wikipedia defines Pressure Solution… In structural geology and diagenesis, pressure solution or pressure dissolution is a deformation mechanism that involves the dissolution of minerals at grain-to-grain contacts into an aqueous pore fluid in areas of relatively high stress and either deposition in regions of relatively low stress within the same rock…

Pressure solution… or Pressure dissolution. It’s ironic that 20 years after graduating from my utterly-unused Bachelors in Geological Sciences I’m coming back to geology terminology to describe my life, but that is where I am and it fits me.

The pressure of my complete failures to live healthier and do better with my life face me each time I look at my husband and children, and I cry worrying that I’ve disappointed my best friend Heather after losing her to colorectal cancer just three months ago. The pressure on me has increased to the point where change is only a matter of physics—either the pressure degrades my body into an unhealthy and likely to die young mess, or I choose to change the solution in which I live and find myself living a better life.

I’ve chosen to change the solution.

Not only have I found new life in meal planning, I’ve given up alcohol. I don’t know if going alcohol free is a permanent thing, it probably isn’t. But I’ve looked myself in the mirror and decided that the fastest and smartest way to find a better life just can’t include alcohol. For me this is a major part of changing the solution so that I can make healthier deposits in my lower pressure zones. By removing alcohol from the solution I’m changing the entire equation for living a better life.

One might ask—how much was alcohol playing a role in my life? Enough to make our alcohol bills obscene. I blame part of this on the relative affluence we have—we can afford wine, we can afford the higher cost whiskeys, and when we run out we just buy more. And I blame it on a social norm I’ve embraced from TV, discussions with colleagues, etc., that isn’t a smart social norm. People talk about coming home and having a glass of wine to separate from the day—but that isn’t the choice we should be making to separate from the day. I, in particular, should take a walk, do yoga, meditate, listen to music and dance, to separate myself from the work day and to prepare myself for a fun-filled evening at home with my family. Why, for so long have I chosen a glass of wine? Then… as more stress increased the pressure on me, and more funds became available to us, that glass unjustifiably became another glass… and another glass every hour over 4 or 5 hours in the evening and there goes a bottle. And depending on the evening, maybe I opened another bottle and started on that one, too.

A whole fucking bottle of wine… and more.

Just from me drinking it. No. One. Else.

Where that norm developed, and when, I don’t really remember. It was long before 2020 and the complete fucking dumpster fire of this past year. The meme’s that show stadiums full of alcoholics aren’t as funny to me as they used to be. We are threatened with a pandemic and instead of finding ways to live our lives to the fullest we revert to a state of comfortably numb inebriation that keeps us from living and makes it more likely that we will die younger.

I’m choosing to try my best to live longer, so for me that will mean alcohol must exit my life… at least for now.

As I’ve been modifying my solution for life, and since last writing my total weight loss is 11.8lbs in 24 days. This is the right solution for me… and I look forward to seeing what new, solid formation I create for my future, and the future of my family, out of changing the solution that is constantly reacting under pressure…

And I think I’m really going to like what I see.

Melting away

Today I am 8.5 lbs less after hitting an all time high on Dec 16th… meal prep is winning and key to organizing my families most important decisions for our health—making smart choices about what we eat for every meal.

I have also had the past two weeks to decompress and it has been perfect. I have no idea how much reducing the stress has affected me and my blood sugars but I have learned a lot already.

For instance… as part of the low carb eating, we have also begun intermittent fasting and I’m tracking my blood glucose and ketones (my husband isn’t interested in pricking his fingers as much as I am happy to do to gather data). I’ve noticed the past three mornings that my blood sugar has been high (for me)—110, 115 and 101. I read up about this phenomenon and learned about how our hormones fluctuate at night which can increase our blood sugar and another phenomenon that protects our body when our blood glucose gets low and our bodies release stored glucose from our muscles, etc., to increase our blood glucose to protect our bodies. This is fascinating and something I will watch more. We ate lunch (for my husband and me the first meal of my day) at 1230 hrs took a 2.2mi walk with the kids afterwards. When I returned I checked my blood glucose—it was down to 84 and my ketones up to .8 from .1 this morning. It is very interesting how a slow jaunt can reduce my blood sugar after eating and it shows the importance of working out, even walking.

That has me wondering how much of an impact working out in the morning will have on me vice working out in the middle of the day or evening? I know Dr. Berg has a YouTube video that briefly discusses this and I will need to understand it better. Regardless, it is nice having the ability to do a quick check of my blood sugar and ketones to see how things are going, and to confirm that I’m on the right track.

Being able to confirm things are working is important to keeping me going. In the past when I was only relying on weight loss, which takes time and fluctuates so much, I feel like giving up when I don’t see change. The negative thoughts dominate the positive and I say “it’s not working” and I quit. Instead, using the glucose monitor I’m able to see the changes in the ketones whenever I feel I’m losing confidence. To see that there are ketones in my blood and to acknowledge that I feel really good right now, tells me this is a good path to continue on.

Activation Energy

Google defines it as the minimum quantity of energy which the reacting species must possess in order to undergo a specified reaction.

When I think of activation energy, I reflect on the data we studied in my geology undergrad courses, looking at the graph of when solutions begin to form crystals under different temperatures and pressures. You can see an example of activation energy here in Ohio when you forget a water bottle in your car overnight during the cold winters and it is still liquid until you shake it and suddenly it ices over. Just that little shake is enough energy to take it from water to ice in seconds—and it has excited me for years to watch.

Every health journey someone embarks on requires some kind of activation energy if it is to be successful. In the past I’ve started health journeys with a simple statement of a goal… but there is more to goals if you really plan to achieve them. I know this—it’s the key to everything I do in my job everyday. Every project must have a clear goal with a well defined plan that has a clear start and a specific end state. Steps are planned out in a proper order with testing you can do to see if you’re on track with your plan. You develop a strategy to monitor your progress toward meeting your goals, and when required, making adjustments to the plan to keep things on track.

After the absolute chaos of 2020 I finally have the activation energy, a plan, metrics to watch, and the resources to get moving toward something healthier, because…

My health is utter shit right now. My blood pressure requires meds to control. My stress levels have been consistently high for over two years. I’ve gained so much weight I don’t even recognize myself in the mirrors. I don’t know when the last time was that I had a good night sleep. [Ironically, I felt like my sleep apnea test, which resulted in a moderate obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis, was the best night this year but based on 132 sleep apnea episodes, the pulmonologist thinks differently.]

I don’t live. I laugh, I love, I have friends, but I don’t live. I don’t take my life by the horns and direct where it should go. I monitor and control the hell out of my work projects but, the one thing that should matter more than anything, my life, I just don’t manage at all. I need to do what I reasonably can to be here for my kids and live a wonderful life with them and my husband.

Here is what has been happening to make this reality. I started by taking off two full weeks from work for the first time ever—for me. The entire purpose of this time has been to root cause my weight and health issues and come up with a plan to fix them.

The root cause—I don’t meal prep. I know so much information about weight loss, working out, all that. But when I’m working and it is the end of the day I am so exhausted and overcome by decision fatigue that I can’t (or don’t) make smart decisions about our dinners. Instead, I grab a glass of wine (or if it’s an especially bad day, a glass of whiskey) and pull up that DoorDash app for whatever is quick and sounds delicious. It’s obscene how much we have spent on DoorDash this year.

So without a plan, meals and ingredients all ready to go on the weekends, I start each week doomed to fail. But meal prepping isn’t all I need.

The plan must be clear on the method of operations as well. My choice is a keto-like plan coupled with intermittent fasting specifically recommended by my gastroenterologist for me. She has recommended no more than 70 net carbs per day with the majority of my food being as plant-based as I can. She didn’t direct a calorie count, just the carbs totals spread between 10 am and 8 pm. Holy cow did she throw me a challenge!

This time is different from when I tried this last year (and did lose weight rather quickly). I didn’t have a plan I could count on before starting work each week. I went into each day counting on energy I never had to make decisions I knew I’d be too tired to make about something so important like my health. I don’t even go into a staff meeting that unprepared.

As part of getting read for the change, today I made a long list of meals that are low carb that my husband and I both like. This time, he’s also on board with implementing changes to our life style and even watched an educational video with me today. Like friends, this is serious support from a key resource that just hasn’t happened before. He even initiated a discussion about what types of foods will be good for us that we enjoy.

The next steps are shopping and food prep so that come 1 Jan I have an executable plan ready to execute. I look forward to seeing what new solid foundation comes out of the activation energy I’m applying to this challenge. I’m looking to 2021 with a positive attitude… and I might even say “thanks 2020,” for giving me the final push I needed to believe in me.

My rage is so cold

I can’t stop thinking about screaming to the universe to give her back.

I told my best friend everything I needed on 7 October 2020. I realized as I was speaking that I’d told her everything before, when she could speak. I was so thankful in the moment. Heather was no longer able to speak or swallow solids. On the 10th of October, on her husband’s birthday, she passed away.

Heather Stoker was the person who challenged me to do and be better—be a better mom, a better wife, a better supervisor and leader. She has become the yardstick from which I judge my behavior. I judge the behavior of others on whether they create a safe, supportive environment or a caustic, hostile one that I still believe delayed her diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer. She was only 42. She had 3 extraordinary children. She was too young to leave this Earth.

And we need her, the empathy she felt for people, the passion she felt for doing the right thing. The support she was willing to provide for others to do what is right by humanity—not a party, nation, or religion, what was fundamentally right for each human being.

I desperately miss our chats… conversations over IM or text as we mothered our children or spent time with our husbands. We knew each other’s priorities and family was always first. The energy she put into her family was so selfless, so pure, I’ve never seen that level of devotion to others before.

The hole she has left behind fills and empties. It’s unstable. I cry quickly at the thought of something she did. Some unexplainable act of love for others that required her to pull together so much finite, limited energy to execute. Some days I’m filled with the “Thank God I had her as a friend.” Other days I am so angry that someone so caring was taken far too early. The ebb and flow… I’m emotionally exhausted.

I don’t think I’ll ever find another friend like her. A friendship, a sisterhood, so open and raw that my authentic self felt safe to learn and be guided by her. No. She was a clear, colorless Diamond among a world of so many people filled with vile inclusions that I can’t see beyond.

So many of our conversations were written so we could answer each other after addressing our family first that the only way I know can process the emptiness is here, writing about her, writing to her.

So if you are here reading, stop now and go to “The North Sea of My Mind” to understand the pain I feel.

Heather, my friend and chosen sister, I miss you so much. I love you, my friend. Forever.

Rest, Reflect, and Disconnect

I’m half way across the world from my family for work. It’s been a long week… but my brain hasn’t felt this engaged in a long time. Recently I’ve had the… shall I call it a learning experience?… of being the subject of a grievance, EEO complaint, and an investigation because of how I handled employees that I felt didn’t meet… well, whatever. Does it matter what they did or what I did anymore? No. What matters is what I’ve taken from the experience and how *I* grow from it.

Moving to a new organization, a new position, a new customer, and a new product, has reminded me to take time to think about what all I’ve been learning. It’s time for me to reflect upon how I will take this experience and find a better me in all of it.

I’ve learned, without a question in my heart, that I do not like being either a Branch Chief or a Deputy Branch Chief. That managerial side of leadership is not my cup of tea. I don’t like not having my own program and “getting credit for” the actions of people in my branch. I need to have my hands deep in the everyday “programmatics” of cost, schedule, performance and risk. I need to constantly be problem solving to achieve a difficult result. I want to inspire and cheer my team along to a single common goal, and acknowledge every big and little achievement we share along the way. I am a Program Manager through and through.

I need balance… that work life balance that my husband discussed. But I think I’ve found an important key issue while I’ve been on this work trip. I realize after my previous post that not only do I feel anxious to go home and engage in the chaos and criticism, I haven’t felt proud of myself in a while before I even walk in the door. I define myself so much by what I do, but when I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing much, delivering results, or pushing product, I don’t feel whole. If I don’t feel whole, how can I be intense at home and with our home life?

I need to develop a better method of stepping back from each day to rest, reflect, and disconnect from work in order to approach our life at home. At this time I *rush* at 1735 to pick up my son by 1745 in order to not be charged for picking him up late. Then I rush home to get dinner in him, my daughter, and my husband. Then we are checking in on everyone’s day and discussing the challenges we encountered at work, school, etc., and then I go to bed.

At no point did I take a few personal moments to rest from the day.

At no point did I consciously reflect on what I completed and still needed to do.

At no point did I disconnect from the day to allow myself the freedom to connect to something else… like my husband and family.

I must find a healthy transition period to close each work day with a quick preparation for the next day so that I can feel confident that as I leave work the following day has everything ready to go.

I must find a mindful way of reflection that focuses on constructive thoughts about my day… not the self-criticism, borderline self-loathing I’ve been experiencing the past year and a half.

I need a consistent, methodical process to disconnect from my day that doesn’t rely on things I’m honestly just not going to do–like working out. I could figuratively wash away the day when I wash my face and change clothes before coming downstairs. I could release the stress of the day and anxiety by stretching away the “computer strain” from my neck, releasing the tension and allowing my neck and back to prepare for the whiplash of looking after my three-year old. I could listen to some uplifting music and reset that part of my day before heading downstairs to the family.

The point is, to allow myself the freedom to connect with the intensity of love I hold for my family, I need to fully disconnect from my previous activities to successfully transition to be completely in tune with them. It must be a mind and body disconnection so that both may be fully connected to what is really most important in my life–them.

Finding an Intensity for Life

When my husband told me he wanted me to approach our home life with the same intensity as I approach work it was a startling revelation for me. I’ve pondered the concept of work life balance before. I’ve even searched out mentors who could help me find a better balance. As with anything, one should really define the problem first before trying to fix it. No one could ever define work life balance in a way that I could get before. Was it the same time? Achieving things and getting awards like at work?

I have my husband’s definition now… I don’t approach life with same intensity as I do work. It completely made sense. But seriously, that’s a really fucked up notion when you consider it. People hate going to work everyday, but not me. And then on top of that, one of my closest friends carries the extraordinary burden of a Stage IV terminal cancer diagnosis. The reminder to live everyday is real to me, tomorrow is not guaranteed. But I have some self-imposed, unrealized barrier to actually living my life. “Life is wasted on the living,” she says. And she is right.

I’m a professional… a program (multiple integrated projects) manager by choice, so let me approach my lack of intensity for life just as I would any issue with my program. Let’s start with the 5 Why’s:

Why am I not intense about life? I don’t feel I’m good at it. When the work day is done my brain is seemingly incapable of making more decisions. I’m too tired to cook, clean… my brain hasn’t yet recovered from work chaos and I subsequently am thrust into the home chaos of two very hyperactive children, my mother-in-law, and my husband all in a very small house where there is no privacy or quiet. Private conversations with my husband don’t exist with the MIL and children near. Comments to my children are criticized… My food choices (likes) are criticized… What I buy or don’t buy is criticized. My hair is criticized. My cooking… cleaning… And more… by my MIL. I’m very tired and feeling criticized for everything at home (not by my husband, to be clear)–so why would I feel good (or positively intense) going into that environment?

Why do I allow myself to continuously be in an environment that makes me feel that way? Because I don’t set boundaries well. If I had done better about setting healthy boundaries in the home with my MIL, then I could have resolved much of this earlier. I have *no issues* with boundaries at work. But with my MIL I have major issues setting boundaries. Things I would never tolerate anyone else in my life saying to me is left without comeback or witty retort, or a simple expression of how the comment is unnecessary or hurtful.

Why am I unable to establish boundaries with the MIL? I desperately do not want to be disrespectful to her because I do love her, my husband loves her, and my kids love her. My husband feels responsible for her since his father passed over 15 years ago. His brother is always busy in NYC without a place for her to stay. And I think it is healthy for her to be near the children because they bring her so much joy and happiness. With that joy and happiness though is a lot of unhappiness that appears to be targeted at me. I feel like if I don’t say anything then that is better than confronting it, but then I feel worse and worse. It boils and festers over months until it gets to a point that I blow up, or like now, my health and happiness is severely impacted.

Why do I feel responsible for her happiness at the expense of mine? I feel like we are taught at a very young age that we must make everyone else happy around us. The job of a wife and mother is to provide for everyone’s happiness. Can I get you something to drink? What would you like to eat? Do you want something at the store? I feel that my husband will be happier if she is happy–which is likely a very true statement. So to make her happier, I withhold having a healthy conversation with her to discuss boundaries that might create short-term conflict (potential for temporary unhappiness) but could lead to long-term happiness for us all.

Why do I fear having a healthy conversation with my MIL? Because I’m not good at having those Difficult Conversations either at work or at home. If the conversation could hurt a persons feelings I struggle with it. I have even read the book… but something about having that conversation at home (even with my husband) leaves me feeling unskilled and unqualified to engage. Pathetic, I know. At work I will do it after careful planning–the conversation must happen to get our job done. At home it looks like I need to approach it the same way, because I want to have a more intense approach to this life I have.

There you have it–by going through the 5 Why’s I’ve identified the root cause to one of my many issues holding me back from being more intense in life–I feel unskilled and unqualified to have difficult conversations with people I love. Now I have a mission, something I can actually read about, work on, and get better at in order to start removing my boundaries to really living my life.