On being overdue

I’m still pregnant.

My due date, March 25th, came and passed rather uneventfully much to my dismay.

I never ever once even considered that I would be overdue.  I had always assumed that I would give birth to my daughter earlier than her due date.  After all, I was born early.  Why wouldn’t she?

Apparently, she is quite comfortable in her home and more than a little unwilling to leave, though she is beginning to run out of space.  Her latest hobby is punching my cervix, resulting in sharp twinges of pain that make me flinch.  Though I have long since given up on wondering whether or not every contraction is the beginning of early labor or just Braxton Hicks, I do have a small (and ever diminishing) hope that I will spontaneously go into labor and not have to be induced next week.  Only time will tell.  Until then, I am attempting to not be too discouraged about still being pregnant and distracting myself with the company of friends.  I must admit, having time off of work and seeing people that I love isn’t such a bad thing; in fact, it is rather delightful.

 

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What is important?

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I often worry about priorities and what is important in life.  I make to-do lists; I get frustrated with myself when I don’t accomplish what I have deemed to be reasonable (and usually isn’t); I worry about little, minute details of life; I stress about almost everything.  What does all that worry and stress and driven perfectionism accomplish?  Do I actually think that I am always doing what is important?

No.

In fact, I often feel like I have wasted my days.  For instance, I spent almost three hours in Target this morning agonizing over the purchase of some baby clothes.  Three hours!  Are those clothes that important?  Definitely not.  But I certainly acted like they were.  I spent 1/8 of my day worrying about them.  I made them that important rather than focusing on things that are truly important (not the fifty-six cents I saved by using my 10% off coupon and carefully selecting the ideal baby dress).

However, rather than beat myself up about it any more than I already have, I found this quote.

This helped me realize that while I consciously have decided that I waste time stressing and worrying and being a perfectionist, I unconsciously have decided that those activities are important because I spend my life doing them.  However, this is something that I want to change.  I want to relax and be more flexible and spontaneous.  And I want to enjoy my life more, after all, I am exchanging part of my life for everything that I do, so I should make it worthwhile.

What do I enjoy?

Recently, I have found myself wondering what I really enjoy doing.  I have so many expectations for myself, activities I should try, places I should go, foods I should cook with, etc.  And while I do enjoy trying new things and pushing myself outside of my comfort zones, I think it is also important for me to simply enjoy life sometimes, which raises one question.

What do I enjoy?

For a while, I think that I lost sight of the little things in life I do enjoy because I was so focused on trying new things or working or just getting through and surviving.  So I’ve both spent time thinking about what I enjoy and asked a dear friend who has known me for years to remind me what activities bring me delight and joy.  To be honest, once I thought about it, the following list was not surprising since these are activities that I have enjoyed for a good long time.

  1. Exploring and traveling – I genuinely love to wander around and discover new places, which is probably why I love to travel.  I have yet to travel the world, but I hope to one day.
  2. Playing the piano – I began playing the piano when I was six and was even a piano performance major prior to injuring my wrist in college.  Playing the piano is one way that I express myself, a comfort that I can always turn to.
  3. Listening to music – Along with playing music, I love listening to music, analyzing it, or just enjoying the moods it evokes.  I love my tried and true favorite artists, but I also love learning about new artists and expanding my musical horizons.
  4. Writing – Though I am afraid of failing and therefore don’t write or blog as often as I should, I find writing to be very therapeutic and simply delightful.  Once I injured my wrist, I began to use writing as an outlet to express myself and my thoughts, even if it is simply in my journal.
  5. Reading – My punishment as a child used to be that I was forbidden from reading.  From an early age, my mother instilled a love of reading that I still maintain.  I was an English Literature major post wrist injury solely because I love to read.  I now try to read at least one new book a week.
  6. Taking pictures – Though I’m definitely the most amateur photographer ever, I find great delight in taking pictures of random objects in my life.  My most favorite way to take pictures is to just take my camera with me on a walk or exploration and photograph what I find to be interesting.
  7. Planning and organizing – I’m an organizational freak.  Organizing and planning soothes my soul.  When I’m upset, I’ll often organize; my thoughts sort themselves out as I physically sort through and organize whatever happens to be lying around.  The ability to organize and carry out a plan is so refreshing.  I love to plan, even though I know my plans will always change.  At least I figured out the puzzle of the plan and understand its components first.
  8. Cooking – This hobby is more recent than most, but I have really enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes.  I like to play with flavors and think of new recipes, as well as being able to cook a delicious meal when I’m just craving homecooked goodness.
  9. Baking – Though I don’t typically have a major sweet tooth (pregnancy has changed that a little), I enjoy baking.  Being able to create a good scone to go with my morning coffee or pie or cake for a friends’ birthday is just amazing.
  10. Conversing with friends – What can I say?  I love a good conversation with people I love.

While I will definitely continue to push myself to try new things, I think I am going to try to make time to devote to the hobbies and activities I know I love.  So far, I have greatly enjoyed playing music while I’m home cooking or cleaning or reading.  I’ve spent more time in coffee shops talking with friends, reading, and writing.  It’s been good.

What do you enjoy?

Priorities

Goals, life changes, to-do lists, and the like are all fine and dandy.  I frequently make goals, plans to change my life, and long lists of things I need to do.  I like to be organized and efficient.  But sometimes, I forget to prioritize.  I get so caught up accomplishing in my lists and achieving my goals and life changes that I forget to focus on what is truly important in life.

Recently what is important in my life has changed.  I’m 30 weeks pregnant, so rest and my health are more important now than ever.  My relationships with both my husband and my friends, the community I’m establishing, are also important.  Crossing every item off my list isn’t important.  Why do I focus so much of my attention and energy on things that don’t matter?  Why don’t I just accept who I am and where I am in life and enjoy it?

I have limitations now that I didn’t have before due to pregnancy.  Life will change.  I’ll be able to physically due more things once I recover from labor.  I have relationships to develop and maintain. My priorities must be different now than they were when I was single or living in China or just newly arrived in Portland.  With every major life change, priorities will change.  I will change.  And that is good… as long as I always recognize what my proper priorities are.

What do I want to do?

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What do I want to do?  That is a question I ask myself often.  You see, I graduated with a B.A. in English in May 2010.  Did I get a job in my field?  Yes, but only for a brief time as an English as a Second Language Teacher in China.  Then I moved to Portland and began working as a barista.  So despite the fact that I have a bachelors, I make minimum wage in a physically demanding job that involves people yelling at me and being rude.

However, I know that is where I am supposed to be, simply because I am there.  If God wanted me to be somewhere else, I would be.  For a long while I disliked and kind of resented my job.  I felt like I had regressed; most of my coworkers are still pursuing degrees and/or interests and are years younger than I am.  So what was I doing there?

I was learning humility.  I was learning to be content.  I was learning to be real and deal with my own issues and personal limitations.  I was learning how to approach those in authority and ask for help.  When I finally asked God to show me all that I had to learn while I work as a barista, He showed me.  Now I am content to be where I am, learning what I can.  Who knows how valuable this experience could be later in life?

However, I do know that I don’t want to be a barista forever.  I want to be a writer.  So I must write.  I am contemplating the idea of going back to grad school for communication with an emphasis on writing to help me in this area.  We shall see what happens with that, since the programs I love are too far away at the moment.  I also want to be a godly, loving wife and eventually a mother.  And I definitely want to live abroad again, preferably in several different countries (obviously not at the same time!).  Most of all, I want to be live a vibrant, engaging life.  I don’t want to be withdrawn and apathetic.  I want to be alive and thrive.  With God’s help, I will do just that!

Fitness

I’ve always dreaded physical fitness.  From waking up to my mother jumping up and down to the oldies while doing Aerobics when I was growing up to the exercise regime and (perceived) constant criticism of my how fit I was, I developed a hatred of anything and everything related to exercise and used this hatred of exercise as a form of rebellion throughout my college years.  I know, I should have rebelled using some method that wasn’t also self-destructive, but you live and learn, right?

It wasn’t until I moved home from China with my husband in February and into my friend’s house that I really actually began to get somewhat serious about fitness for several reasons.

  1. I wasn’t as thin as I used to be despite losing weight in China (perhaps my mother’s exercise regime did some good after all?).
  2. I wanted to be attractive, not only to my husband, but also just in general.
  3. I’d known for approximately a year and a half that my cholesterol was dangerously high and had taken small steps to work on it but hadn’t really been that serious about it.  The threat of beginning lifelong medication in my early twenties should have been more motivating…
  4. I wanted to live a simpler, healthier lifestyle and take care of the body I have since it is, after all, the only body I’m ever going to have.

So with my friend’s encouragement and love of fitness, I painstakingly began to actually work out regularly for the first time in years and not just count the walking around whatever town I lived in as daily exercise.  She had a Pilates DVD, so I started off slowly.  Ten minutes a day five days a week at first.  Then twenty minutes a day five days a week.  Finally, thirty minutes a day five days a week and occasionally the entire fifty minute DVD.  Since it was too cold to run or jog outside (oh the joys of living in the Midwest during the winter!), I was limited to Pilates and my bundled-up walks downtown.

I began to see results.  Nothing drastic by any means, but I had slightly tighter abs and more toned arms and legs.  I had more energy.  I could wear skinny jeans for the first time in my life.  My thighs had always been too big, which I attribute to years of ballet and soccer followed by years of weight gain and lack of exercise to tone the muscular tree trunks that I had developed.  I was on a roll, exercising regularly and eating much healthier.  As the weather warmed up, I even began to occasionally run.  I felt great!  I was confident and hopeful that I would continue this healthier lifestyle for a long, long time.

Then I moved to Portland.  With no access to the Pilates DVD since I was too broke to afford one, I stopped exercising.  I didn’t even run since I was living with a friend and had to abide by her schedule while looking for an apartment, a schedule that meant only being home to sleep.  While I didn’t gain any weight, I lost the muscle tone I had been developing.  I was walking around more than ever, but that was it in terms of exercise.  I was discouraged.

Once my husband John and I moved into our own apartment, I thought about exercising.  I wanted to exercise and regain the muscle tone I had lost.  I wanted to continue to be fit and healthy.  I was walking even more than before due to a lack of car, a lack of bicycle, and a lack of money to buy a transit pass.  In fact, I walked just over a mile to and then from work five days a week.  But even in combination with trying to eat healthier, I wasn’t seeing real results.  I lost some weight, but wasn’t getting toned.  I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my appearance, especially since any weight I had lost only accentuated the weight I hadn’t lost in my stomach and thighs.

Finally, after several months of hating my appearance, I checked out the Pilates DVD I had used in Ohio from the local library.  But I lacked the motivation to begin again.  Beginning is always the hardest part.  It took feeling like I looked pregnant, being upset that my jeans were wearing out after seven months before they were falling off, the prospect of seeing friends from Ohio and wanting to be thinner, the prospect of going to the doctor to be weighed, continued discussions (and consequent guilt) about healthy living (aka eating and exercising) with John, and getting a bike only to realize that I wasn’t in the same shape I had been the last time I had owned a bike to actually motivate me to start exercising again.  Wow, am I stubborn!

Daunted, I didn’t do so well the first two weeks.  I had set unreasonable goals and got stuck in failure.  However, since I really dislike my stomach and thighs, I reevaluated my goals this week and set smaller, achievable goals.  I can always go above and beyond these goals if I really want to (now that would be quite the accomplishment!).  So far, I’ve stuck with them, and exercising is getting easier and more enjoyable.  In addition to riding my bike to work (hooray for a shorter commute!), I decided to do twenty minutes of Pilates at least four times a week.  Also, I am going to go on two or three bike rides this week – the first of which will be tonight once it is not blistering hot outside.

I’ve already done Pilates twice this week, and since I don’t work mornings for the next three days, I plan to do Pilates all three of those days.  I may need to plan time for an extra long bike ride to prepare for the 7-miles-one-way jaunt that I planned for Monday.  Oops.  It’s a start.  And while I’m sure my weight won’t be what I want it to be at my doctor’s appointment next Wednesday, I’m sure it won’t be as bad as it once was either (a number so high it is unpublishable).  I am starting to be toned again (perhaps I can buy a size smaller in my jeans?).  Most importantly, I have more energy and feel healthier, a definite step on my way to being confident with my body again.

I’ll keep you all updated on my fitness progress…. perhaps I’ll even investigate a widget or chart or something to track what I’ve done.

What is your favorite workout routine?

Transparency

I believe in transparency.  Not to gain sympathy or even complain about life.  Not to say that my life is better than yours.  But rather to share my life.  So I’ll be using this space not only to convey any daily musings I may have, but also to share my life.

To start, I’ll lay a foundation of basic details for you (with a few extras thrown in just for fun!), though nothing to specific to protect both me and everyone I know.

  • Name: Rachel
  • Age: 23
  • Relationship Status: Married
  • Living situation: 2 bedroom apartment
  • Location: Pacific NW
  • Job: Barista at a coffee shop
  • Favorite color: Blue
  • What’s playing on my iPod: Owl City, OneRepublic, Coldplay, and Lifehouse are in steady rotation at the moment
  • Height: 5′ 10 1/2″
  • Favorite outfit: Jeans and a tee (with a cardi or hoodie if its cold)
  • Hobbies: Reading, writing, cooking, blogging
  • What I feel led to do with my life: Be hospitable by having a guest room for anyone who needs to stay with us and hosting a weekly food night; write my blogs and articles; be healthy by cooking at home and exercising.
  • Goals: Buy a bike to use for transportation and exercise.  Host a weekly food night, preferably an Indian curry night.  Exercise five days a week.  Set weekly plans for writing projects.

I will no longer promise to write daily.  It’s just not a promise I can keep at the moment.  Some days I won’t post at all.  Some days I’ll post multiple times a day.  At the moment, I’m working almost forty hours a week.  That is supposed to change within the next month, giving me more time to dedicate to blogging and writing.  Until then, please bear with me.  Any feedback, suggestions, or ideas you have for me are welcome!

What do you want to know about me?