Category Archives: Motivation

sometimes things really do work out for the best

Since I’ve been holding my breath since late November, it seems particularly amazing that we’re now in late January. My friends that I discussed in the last post delivered their twin sons TODAY. This morning. They made it two months past their pre-term labor diagnosis, and other complications, to 32 weeks. An amazing, amazing accomplishment. I cannot express what that means to me in clear language. I’m obviously unbelievably happy and relieved. I cannot wait to meet these two gorgeous babies and to give their moms the biggest hugs ever. Completely on its own merits–that two incredible new people have joined us in this world–that two fabulous people now have the family they’ve dreamed of–today is an outstanding day. Clearly I wish the babies hadn’t been born until term, but this is a damn good outcome considering.

The hope this gives me additionally cannot be overstated. Wow. I went into labor with Natan at basically the same gestation, but we caught it at a further point (no cervix). Too late apparently. These friends used the same, then rather experimental, tocolytic that I used when contractions began during my pregnancy with Samuel. My singleton, when I was being watched so closely for any signs of PTL & had a proactive, supportive doctor, stayed in until 40 weeks. Their twins, after a PTL diagnosis, made it to 32 weeks. Wow. Sometimes things really do work out. Sometimes medicine really can help along a miracle.

Congratulations, J&N. Welcome to the world, L&A. I love you all incredibly.

In an email recently, my friend asked me how you move from crisis mode to realizing and accepting the fact that your baby(ies) have arrived safely, and being happy. For some reason, the question reminded me of a question Catherine had for me after my last post, that I never responded to.

In that post, I said, “I think without realizing it, I often choose to stop the bad memories if they start to rise.” She asked, “How? Because I would really like to learn this trick.” I am no exemplar. If I didn’t have the husband, friends and family that I do, I’d have completely sunk after Natan died. I think a lot of us feel the same. I am not entirely sure I’m a fully functional, productive adult right now. I’m not sure I’m accomplishing what I want to in life, or am a great wife and parent. But I definitely, on regular days, can compartmentalize my strongest emotions. I am, at least, a happy and grateful person.

I think about the moment when I first realized that. I was in a course with one of my favorite college English professors. (Actually, they’re all my favorite. I’ve never felt anything less than adoration for my literature teachers at any level.) We had been having weeks and weeks of rain, ice, cold, and snow, as Massachusetts tends to have. It was an early class, and it had been so cold and miserable walking to class. As I entered the classroom, I noticed the icicles hanging from the eaves. For some reason, I was extraordinarily cranky. We were talking about Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” I thought its meaning was simple and obvious, and I just wanted to go back to bed. After a little while, I looked out the window and saw that one of the icicles was smaller than it had been before. I felt such insane joy as I realized, or remembered, that Spring would come. I don’t mean that metaphorically. I mean very literally, I thought, “It’s going to be warmer when I leave this class than it was when I got here.” Then I noticed I could see a little light from the sun behind the clouds. I felt at that moment very insignificant and childlike in my excitement, and given the pressure I’d been putting on myself to be significant, that was a tremendous relief. I suddenly felt the last lines of Frost’s poem, “But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep,” very differently than I had when I first sat down in class. I was just so thankful that I was alive to see that sunshine and melting icicle. I felt like the miles and miles to go were a gift.

I have a lot more real pressure on me now, in my thirties, and far more experience with deep sadness in my life. But I’m not nearly as high strung or as anxious as I was back then. I guess I don’t really have an answer about how to release yourself from the chaos and fear, or how to keep grief from intruding at inconvenient moments (in part because I don’t always succeed myself). It’s almost certainly something more, but to me, when I succeed, it feels like I simply turn my head and see something different than what I saw before.

Robert Frost, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” (1923)

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

To celebrate my 5 pages

I took a test, got these results:

You Are Incredibly Logical

Move over Spock – you’re the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

How Logical Are You?

And then spent 30 minutes messing with “BlogThings” sloppy html because I didn’t like the aesthetics of their code on my page.

According to the site’s standards, I am also apparently a “pretty serious non-conformist” 72% of the time, and I “live a life hardly anyone understands.” That may actually become truer every day.

Motivation, pt. 2 (or maybe 3)

Seeing as it is almost 1pm and I have still achieved nothing as far as work goes today, evidently I need a new system of motivation. Is anyone out there willing to give me a dollar a page?

Probably not. I’ll have to try something else. My favorite system allows me to check blogs and email and other online stuff for one hour, right after I work out in the morning, and then get to work. Prior to that, I tried 4 hours of work after working out, and then online leisure. Each of those system worked for about one day. Today I tried working out, reading online stuff, 2 hours of work, blogging, 2 hours of work. But the the chapter I’m writing still has not seen a single new word, or even much in the way of revisions, in the past week and a half.

Apparently, I can quite successfully sit here for 4 hours NOT looking on the internet and still not produce anything. But I’m still rewarding myself for that time.

My new system, starting tomorrow: I will not write a word on email or this blog, read a blog, OR comment on a blog until I have five new pages in my chapter, or have revised existing pages to the point that I can turn them in. Clearly I need punitive motivation.

And I am only boring you all with this banal post because maybe if I publish it, I’ll stick to it.

An altar of broken fragments

In a previous post, I said I don’t need to find meaning in Natan’s death. I can’t believe that G-d needed another angel or that I survived because of a special plan for me. I guess I don’t believe in modern-day miracles, at least in the form of individual events revealing divine agency. My sense is that I’m not really so significant that G-d would need me to do particular things. But even still, losing Natan has spurred an epistemological crisis for me. My sense of my own self has changed, because obviously my plans for the future have been corrupted unalterably.

I have, for example, entirely lost interest in what I do, which at the moment means being a doctoral student writing my dissertation. It’s not depression, because I am motivated to do so much else – write this blog, talk to friends, read anything not having to do with what I work on. I just no longer am interested in the meaning the topic I write about previously held for me.

I want to do something else. Problem is, that something else I want to do is actually what I’m already on the way to doing. I want to teach at a university level. It’s not like I want a new career, I just want to be there already. I’m not prepared to set the clock back 3 years by starting a new project. So what can I do to make what was my life before pregnancy meaningful again? Because I am finding that academia is not just a job, nor is it like “school” in earlier days where I could just write the damn paper or exam regardless of any passion. But it’s nearly impossible to just sit down at my computer and plug away for the sake of finishing a project that before my pregnancy encompassed most of my time and happily dominated my thoughts, but now seems utterly uninteresting. The only real choice is for me to just finish the thing, but I seem incapable of just doing anything, of trying just to get by.

This post’s title refers to a quote from Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid, “I will build an altar from the fragments of my broken heart.” But not only is my heart broken, the fragments themselves are broken. The pieces of my heart before this loss – my family life, my plans for children and for a career – I know they are changed but I’m not sure yet how they fit together.