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Last night I texted my best friend, “I HATE CHOOSING PAINT COLORS.”
I’d spent hours staring at the samples I painted on poster board, carrying them around the house with me and testing them out in different lights at various times of day. I knew for sure I didn’t like one of the two options, but I wasn’t certain about moving forward with the other one. Should I choose a different color palette altogether? Should I go back to the store for more samples?
I don’t have the patience for that, not to mention the time: the 30% off paint sale ends today, and I refuse to pay full price. I know I will have to make a decision in the absence of certainty.
I also know this moment of indecision is an at-the-surface manifestation of my mind’s undercurrent. My uncertainty about the big stuff is growing by the day.
Uncertainty about when, exactly, I will give birth. (Two weeks early? Two weeks late? That’s a month-long swing, people!) Uncertainty about how recovery will go and if it will be as traumatic as last time. Uncertainty about whether this baby will be a good sleeper, have health challenges, be a big-time spitter-upper, be easygoing or colicky or highly sensitive. Uncertainty about how work and family will work together. Uncertainty about how Selah will respond when she realizes she is no longer my only child. Uncertainty about new rhythms and routines. Uncertainty about whether this will be our last baby.
But amid the raging river of uncertainty there are tiny pebbles and big boulders of confidence, serving to slow down and redirect the current.
I have confidence because I have survived the baby years once, even thrived at times, and I can do it again. I have confidence in the passing of time and the fact that all things (even the hard things) eventually come to an end. I have confidence in who I am as a mother, in my abilities to love and feed and nurture and attach and create a foundation of stability, regardless of who my baby turns out to be. I have confidence that whatever happens, God will keep teaching me about embodiment and what it means to be human through pregnancy and childbirth, and about the depths of his love and goodness through this child.
Here’s more about what I learned, loved, and read in February.
What I Learned
- There’s no magic in getting away to write. I took a little writer’s retreat last weekend to get some big-picture thinking and writing done that would have been really difficult in the “cracks” of daily life when I usually write. Plus, I’ve always wanted to take a writer’s retreat, and I figured this would be a good opportunity before the baby arrives and makes that impossible for a while! One strategy Cal Newport names in Deep Work is making grand gestures–for example, booking a hotel room—in order to accomplish a deep work goal. It definitely worked in that paying for time away (financially, the cost of the hotel room, and personally, the cost of being away from home) made me more focused and productive, for sure. But it did not magically make the quality of my words any better. My crappy first drafts still came out as crappy first drafts, but I happened to get two of them done in a day instead of one over the course of a week. I’ll have more thoughts on this coming to an Instagram post soon, but for now, I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad it didn’t hold any unique magic.
- I can be a satisficer if I try really hard. There a concept in psychology in which people are either maximizers or satisficers (I learned about this from Laura Vanderkam on the Best of Both Worlds podcast). Basically, maximizers are want to know every possible option before they make a decision so they can be sure they’re not missing out on the best thing out there. When faced with the same decision, satisficers set criteria in advance and go with the first option that clears the bar. See the above essay: My natural tendency, even with this paint decision, is to be a maximizer, but time plus the price of paint going up is causing me to choose to be a satisficer. With wedding planning, our budget was so very small and our planning timeline so short that I had to be a satisficer. Studies seem to show that even though they review fewer options, satisficers generally make better decisions and they are understandably more happy with their decisions (because they have way less FOMO than maximizers).
What I Loved
- Oscar fashion: I hadn’t even heard of most of the movies that were up for awards this year, but I did love scrolling the best-dressed lists! My favorites were Lady Gaga, Billy Porter, Gemma Chan, and Michelle Yeoh.
- Podcast episode: Ten Things We Wish We Had Done Sooner with Meg and Rebekah of Sorta Awesome. Something I wish I had done sooner was seek medical care for postpartum pain. One issue resolved almost completely after a few doctor visits, and in another case, I’m still dealing with chronic pain because I didn’t seek the right kind of help immediately. See your doctor if you’re in pain!
- Trader Joe’s: I was going to name my favorite coffee, but then I realized that I have so many favorites from Trader Joe’s that I thought I would list them all. I’m sure I’m forgetting something, so let me know what I missed. (Sorta Awesome did a recent episode about this too! They covered great meal ideas, so I’ll keep my list to snacks.)
- Columbia Supremo coffee
- Chocolatey cats cookies (especially dipped in Speculoos cookie and cocoa swirl spread)
- Dark chocolate covered almonds
- Dark chocolate peanut butter cups
- The dark chocolate lover’s chocolate bar
- Organic popcorn with olive oil
- White cheddar corn puffs
- Simply the best trek mix
- Salted almond butter
- Chicken sausages (especially the sweet Italian and spicy jalapeno varieties)
- Chunky guacamole with Greek yogurt
- Cultured coconut milk Greek yogurt
- Avocado toast: It’s pretty much my only virtuous pregnancy craving. (For non-virtuous cravings, see the above list and add Lucky Charms.) It requires a drizzle of olive oil plus several hefty dashes of Everything But the Bagel seasoning (from Trader Joe’s, obviously). I feel even more virtuous when I eat it with sprouted grain bread.
What I Read
- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: I read and loves Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow last year (I reviewed it here), so I had high hopes for this book. It did not disappoint! Also character-driven, this one had a more engaging plot and was shorter than A Gentleman in Moscow. I loved (most of) the characters, especially the female lead. This book gives the reader a fascinating picture into the dazzling and not-so-dazzling parts of high society in 1930s New York. 4 stars.
- Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the final book in the Crazy Rich Asians series, and it was a pure delight. I loved the first book, Crazy Rich Asians (reviewed here), and the second book, China Rich Girlfriend (reviewed here), lagged for me so I wasn’t sure what to expect of this final installment. In this book, Kwan brought us back to what found so enjoyable about the first one: crazy family dynamics, a bigger/more important plotline that goes beyond just dropping designer names, and quirky characters that are hard to love but somehow we do. This book has more serious undertone than the other two, and I found myself falling even more in love with the characters. 4 stars.
- The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile: I’ve been learning slowly about the Enneagram, but most of my knowledge was limited to my own type and the basics of how the system works. I wanted to read something that would give me a solid grasp of how to use the Enneagram for growth and the inner workings of each type. This book fit the bill and was surprisingly short and readable. A great primer for diving into the more complicated and spiritual Enneagram books. I read this with a group at work, which was especially fun because most types were represented in the group. It brought each chapter to life to hear from someone who embodies that type. Note: I get the vast majority of my books from the library, but this is one I recommend purchasing because you will want to highlight the heck out of it and return to it again and again. 4 stars.
What I Clicked
- “Pregnancy has become revered, but the part that comes after, the part where your body is broken, your clothes still don’t fit, but your maternity clothes don’t work either, your baby is hungry more than he’s not, you haven’t slept more than 2 hours in weeks, doesn’t exist on Instagram.” —The Invisible Reality of Brand-New Motherhood on Instagram by Collier Meyerson
- “Birth exposes you in ways you’re not expecting, and I don’t just mean the most private areas of your body, which are exposed to a room full of medical professionals. It exposes your heart, too. Never before have I been so incapable of hiding my innermost feelings; the love for my newborn son, the fear for my ruined body, the awareness of the fragility of life.” Green Light Means Go on Coffee + Crumbs
- “Little secret about me: my answer to the question “would you like a receipt” is based on absolutely nothing and changes all the time.” 26 Things Basically Everyone Has Experienced But Never, Ever Talks About by Dave Stopera
- “Carry that cake to your baby in her high chair while a room full of family and friends sing her happy birthday and your head spins with the extra feelings you couldn’t bake into her cake (a pinch of sorrow, a dash of pride, a smidge of disbelief). Blow out the candle for her, but be prepared: it will feel like blowing away her first year, your first year of motherhood. A flicker of light, a puff, and then gone.” How to Make a Birthday Cake for a One-Year-Old by Kaitlin Barker Davis
What I Wrote
- Why It’s So Important I Get Up Before the Rest of My Family // published on Red Tricycle
- Armchair Chats // Life with a Threenager
I’d love to hear from you! What have you been learning, loving, or reading lately?