Thursday, November 30, 2017

TheBombDotMom: A day off

Hahahaha. I hear having regular days off is awesome, but I don’t have firsthand knowledge. Today was the worst one I’ve had in a while, with messages coming at me from all sides on different platforms—this project needed in an hour, this one already late, just circling back on this one because you said you were going to do it two hours ago and we haven’t heard from you, and oh, by the way, you should make this project you were previously unaware of your top priority, please! Not to mention the pile of stuff I told people a week ago that I could do today, once Giant Project was done (and before I knew Giant Project would be late).

M.H. just pointed out to me that we worked literally every day in November, with the sole exception that I took Thanksgiving off (we think). That is just so stupid, and I came to the decision today that from now on, I’m taking Saturdays off, whatever the career consequences. If I want to do something during the week, I might take a second day off, too, but I’m always taking Saturdays off.

I know actual freelancers (well, one for sure) who do this, and it seems to work fine. I’ve heard that taking regular time off makes you ultimately more productive, etc., but I don’t even care about that. I just want to not work myself to death.

What will I do on Saturdays? Even cleaning the house or something would be an improvement, but my intent is to rest, read, drink tea, and do anything else I feel like doing. Just thinking about it is lowering my blood pressure, which is saying a thing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Knowledge is power

I have long believed that the human thirst mechanism is there for a reason and that the whole “By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated” thing is probably crap.

I guess that’s just background information so you know where I’m coming from, but I heard something really interesting on a podcast this morning: Too much liquid in conjunction with meals can cause stomach upset, because it dilutes your stomach acid, which then allows food to sit in your stomach and start to ferment rather than being quickly digested. And that might explain why sometimes green tea seems to upset my stomach, which I always thought I must be imagining because it didn’t seem to make any sense.

I don’t typically drink much of anything at meals, but obviously I make exceptions for tea. (I make a lot of exceptions for tea.) But I think, with this new information, I’ll probably avoid all liquids an hour before and after eating and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

TheBombDotMom: The Christmas tree

Does it seem like…a lot that we have a giant, sparkly Christmas tree in the middle of our living room for a full tenth of the year? (I was going to say “twelfth,” but then I did the math.) It kind of is, but I also kind of love it. It makes the most-coveted reading chair an even more magical place to curl up, and from the perspective of someone walking in the front door, that chair is actually hidden behind the tree. (It is just a bonus that Dex was home from college last weekend and so THE CHILDREN ASSEMBLED THE TREE WITH NO HELP FROM ME. I mean, I think M.H. asked/told them to, but that does not make it any less wonderful.) Someday I’ll be done assembling the rest of the decorations, and then the festivities can begin!

Monday, November 27, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Good health

My Big Book of Cheesy Daily Meditations reminded me this morning how lovely it is to be in decent health—and that it’s truly something to be thankful for every day.

Imagine if last night you went to bed with a raging headache, or the stomach flu, or a throbbing big toe, or brain cancer. And then you woke up this morning without that thing that was making you miserable. Imagine what a flood of joy and relief that would be.

And now consider your current state: headache, flu, ouchie toe, cancer? Probably none of those (or at least not all of them). That can be a source of joy, if we want it to.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Social media freedom

I think this month of “social media detox” has worked its magic, because not only is it not remotely hard to stay away from Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t even know if I want to go back.

That’s probably an exaggeration. I probably will go back, at least to Facebook. I like seeing stuff from my friends and family; it’s not like they write me letters. But I think the very first thing I will do on Facebook Dec. 1 is unfollow anyone whose posts I don’t enjoy seeing for any reason whatsoever, including and especially my local newspaper. (Why allow Facebook to become even slightly aggravating? Who does it benefit? What is the point? And why did I ever Read. The. Comments?)

Twitter is more of a dilemma. I find it supremely amusing and love to post there. But having taken this break, I am starting to comprehend how much it riles me up and stresses me out. I think it might be preferable to be a slightly less amused person who doesn’t walk around constantly feeling like everything is on the brink of disaster.

Whatever I end up doing, hearts and stars to the social media vacation. It should probably be a November tradition.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

TheBombDotMom: The couples playlist

Spotify is #thebomb, as you probably know. M.H. and I realized sometime in the past year or so that we could hook up one of our phones to our stereo system and play our music through the speakers in the kitchen—which is great because we’re in there cooking together constantly. The problem was that we had to listen to either one of his playlists (which include a lot of songs I find annoying), one of my playlists (which include a lot of songs he finds annoying) or some generic Spotify playlist (which includes a lot of songs we both find annoying).

So our musical tastes diverge, for sure, but there is still a huge chunk of overlap in that Venn diagram. So we made a new, joint playlist of just those songs—313 (and counting) singable and/or danceable tracks, perfect for cooking, that we both enjoy. (I also threw some tolerable Eagles and Led Zepplin on there, because it amuses me that our 17-year-old favors “classic rock.”)

Such a small thing, but it turned “slaving over a hot stove” into “karaoke kitchen dance party.”

Friday, November 24, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Money talks

In a world where your actual vote probably counts for very little—and even less if your district is gerrymandered or if your state is a predetermined color—here’s a small but satisfying way to to exercise a bit of power: Vote with your wallet.

We were doing that last month when we forked over many hundreds of dollars to a very nice rancher—whom we have actually met and spoken to, who lives near here, and whose environmental practices we admire and approve of—in exchange for half a grass-fed cow. I did it last week when I forked over many tens of dollars for six pounds of unsweetened chocolate not harvested by slaves (and which is THEBOMBDOTMOM melted into coffee, I have discovered). And I did it again today when I spent zero dollars on the disgusting American spectacle known as Black Friday.

There. No on the industrial meat industry, no on child slavery, no on consumerism. I voted™.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Thank you, Washington Post

Here’s the best thing I’ve read in The Washington Post to date.

Not because I have the slightest inkling that this doofus will prove to himself that the earth is flat—or even accidentally discover that it is not.

It’s because of the casual, unapologetic, unexplained, not-even-winked-at use in the second paragraph of the word “atmosflat.” God bless the free press. And happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Letting it be

I’ve had a dawning realization over the past year or so that may seem kind of stupid—but it’s revolutionary for me, so maybe it will help you, too.

In the past, if I was having, say, a day where I couldn’t seem to focus on my work, I would beat myself up about it and try really hard to do better. Or if I got on the yoga mat and just wasn’t feeling up to doing much, I would power through anyway to get in a “normal” amount of exercise. Or if I felt like snacking, I would tell myself that was wrong and bad and try to beat my instincts into submission with willpower.

But what I’ve been realizing is that every day is different. Some days it’s really easy to focus and get a ton of work done, some days not. Some days I want to eat a lot, some days I really don’t. Some days I feel strong and flexible and want to do all the yoga tricks—and some days I just want to lie there on my back with my eyes closed and wait for the fireplace fan to come on.

I think it was a form of fear that was making me fight my natural inclinations, a worry that one lazy day would be followed by three more lazy days, and the next thing you know I would be…lazy forever. But lately I have just been accepting each day for what it is, and it’s like some psychological self–trust fall, and truly nothing has dropped to the ground yet.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

TheBombDotMom: That Ironman race report

The Ironman was the reason I started this whole blog in the first place, and I always said that the race report I wrote about the experience was my favorite souvenir. It's now six years later, and I certainly have not changed my mind. In fact, probably about twice a year, I’ll notice the link sitting on my blog and reread the thing, and not once has it not made me tear up.

(Did I just add a piece of my own writing to my list of things that are totally awesome? Yes, I’m afraid I did. Sorry.)

One interesting thing, though: While everything I wrote about that day was true, it was also selected out of a million other experiences. And you know how I remember the race? Exactly the way I wrote about it, as a story of miracles and triumph. That’s really why I like those words so darn much.

Monday, November 20, 2017

TheBombDotMom: “The Great Gatsby” (2013)

Mik had to read “The Great Gatsby” for English, and M.H. and I were curious/nostalgic enough to read it along with him. That is one super-hard-to-understand book, and it is not actually among my favorite things. But just for fun we sat down together last weekend to watch the Leonardo DiCaprio version of the movie, and I have to say, that movie really is the bomb. It is incredibly true to the book, complete with the weird, ever-present-but-not-overtly-talked-about racism. The rap-infused soundtrack is a stroke of brilliance, the visuals are amazing, I suspect the movie added a layer of meaning that the book does not contain on its own, and I am still thinking about it.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

TheBombDotMom: #MeAt14

Now that I’m not visiting Facebook or Twitter, I’m really not keeping up with the news at all, but even the briefest of occasional disgusted glances at the front page of The Washington Post ensure that I have not missed this Roy Moore nonsense. So I was really happy to see a story (almost a week after it was published, but whatever) about women tweeting pictures of their teenage selves to help any would-be defenders understand the grossness of a 32-year-old man hitting on a 14-year-old. Truly a moving and effective way to explain this to the idiots who are inclined to leap to his defense, and I’m glad someone thought of it.

In the story, there’s a tweet from someone named Paula Pell talking about how when she was 14 she had plants in her room that had names. That produced a flood of memories about the named poinsettias I owned at that age, and may I add that it is now 32 years later, and I still feel that the names my 14-year-old self gave those plants are too embarrassing to be repeated on my blog?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

TheBombDotMom: golden pu-ehr, jasmine pu-ehr, genmaicha

I love most green tea, but my tastes have evolved over the years toward higher-quality and more “tealike” tastes over the fruit-flavored dust that comes in bags. And thanks to the tea connoisseurs at the awesome tea shops in Bozeman in Missoula, I recently discovered a next-level tea that I’m going to have to start buying by the truckload: pu-ehr (pronounced “poo-AIR”). In particular, I am obsessed with two varieties called golden pu-ehr and jasmine pu-ehr. (There are darker pu-ehrs as well that are more M.H.’s speed.) If you are a tea drinker who has not tried pu-ehr—and we were for years, so I know they must exist—REMEDY IT.

Bonus tea recommendation (I figure I owe you at least three, since I skipped a few days of blogging about awesomeness): genmaicha.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TheBombDotMom: An obscure iPhone feature

A tidbit from my work life, since I am neck-deep in editing a book on the iPhone: You know how normally, when one of your alarms goes off, it says the word “Alarm” on the screen? You can actually make that say anything you want.

Go to the alarms screen, tap Edit, and then choose one of your alarms. See where it says Label? You can change it to, “Don’t forget to be thankful” or “You’re going to have a fulfilling and amazing day of wonder” or whatever life-affirming mantra you want. (Mine says “Coffee is coming.”)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Morning quiet

I am reading—in one-inspirational-essay-a-day style—this book with one inspirational essay for every day of the year. It’s about faith and simplicity, so that’s cool, and occasionally I really like one of the entries, but mostly it’s just ridiculous. However, it’s also got some sort of quote for every day, and recently I reached this one:
If you have not slept, or if you have slept, or if you have a headache, or sciatica, or leprosy, or thunder-stroke, I beseech you, by all angels, to hold your peace, and not pollute the morning.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I find that so funny, and it could be the motto for Mik and M.H. I have always been guilty of interrupting their morning silence (and have not even reformed, really), but the quote inspired me to notice and appreciate the little quiet morning moments that do happen. Like after Mik leaves for school and M.H. and I sit down in the living room to read for a few minutes with coffee, or when I abandon my coffee to do some dark and silent yoga. I have done those two things on even the absolute busiest of work days, because there is something to this morning quiet deal, I think.

Monday, November 13, 2017

TheBombDotMom: A bit of comedy

I just came across something that was awesome to fill my quota for the day: this “abridged script” of the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” I found it hilarious despite not having seen the movie—and why would anyone see the movie, by the way? I liked the book, but it’s good because of the author’s delightful prose and wonderful insights, not because of her ridiculous adventures or questionable decision-making abilities.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Gainful employment

I’m taking a half a day off today to attend Mik’s swim meet about an hour away, and even that much time away from my desk is causing some guilt, because I’m still pretty far behind where I need to be. (I know that’s ridiculous, because of course I’m allowed to have six waking hours when I’m not at my desk in the course of a week.)

But freelance work is inevitably up and down—and the secret to sanity is remembering the “famine” times during a “feast” like this—and remembering the feasts during the famines, too. The awesome thing—in all sincerity—is that I get to do it at all.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Goodreads!

Speaking of good books, I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me earlier to add Goodreads to this list of things that are TheBombDotMom. It’s a social network of sorts, but interesting and practical, rather than addictive and soul-killing—hence allowed during the month of detox. (Instagram is also allowed, only because I’m not that active on it, I’m not addicted to it, and it helps me keep in touch with family. But I digress.)

Anyway, I find it endlessly interesting (and sometimes hilarious) to see what my friends are reading, and Goodreads is packed with book reviews that help you find great stuff to read, both from friends and strangers. For me, though, the biggest plus is the ability to keep track of what I’ve read and to write a short review it to help me remember what I liked or didn’t like. I only regret that Goodreads has not been around long enough for me to have recorded every book I’ve ever read in my entire life, so if you have a book-loving child, they may someday appreciate you introducing them to this fantastic tool. (Or they may laugh in your face for suggesting that they voluntarily write a bunch of book reviews. YMMV.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

TheBombDotMom: It’s like biting on a pencil to make yourself smile

It’s getting hard for me to keep my head above water, work-wise, so I don’t feel I can spend a lot of time on these little blog posts. But I noticed today that, in my desperation to think of something to write about, I go through my day trying hard to notice things that are awesome, which is kind of…awesome.

Because my work and life have also been frustrating lately, I am also noticing a lot of things that suck, but in the spirit of emotional detox I keep trying to turn my frown upside-down.

It goes:
  • You know, InDesign is pretty functional and I really enjoy using it.
  • Really, I should just be grateful my health is so good.
  • What’s really nice is the weekend, when you have time to catch up on work without as much new stuff coming in.
  • Gee, internet service has been super reliable lately.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Sansevieria

For my birthday a several years ago my family bought me a nifty houseplant called sansevieria—one of its common names is “mother-in-law’s tongue” (because the leaves are sharp, get it?), but adorably Dex has always remembered and referred to it by its proper name, and so I do, too.

Sansevieria is the bomb because it’s a particularly good indoor air purifier—but almost just as importantly, it loves neglect. It thrives on neglect. It’s like raising Mik but with even less worry and effort.

If, for example, you were having a month when you were working 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and still falling behind, it would be just the kind of plant you would enjoy having around.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

TheBombDotMom: “The Hacking of the American Mind”

I’ve read a lot of good books lately, but there’s one that’s been particularly paradigm-shifting, called The Hacking of the American Mind. The book explores, among other things, the meaning of pleasure and happiness, which are different on a brain chemistry level, because happiness is related to serotonin, and pleasure is related to dopamine.

I’m going to start oversimplifying like crazy right now, but basically anything you enjoy but that you could get addicted to (Twitter, sugar, video games) is producing dopamine. Anything you enjoy but cannot reasonably get addicted to (friendship, love, creative fulfillment) is producing serotonin. You need both, but in general we are a world of dopamine junkies, and many companies make it worse by exploiting the crap out of our weakness for it.

You know how in grade school they explained to you that when you do drugs, it damages your brain so that the next time you need even more of a “hit” to get high and eventually have to take the drug just to feel normal? Well, apparently it works the same way for all kinds of dopamine hits, and once the dopamine receptors in your brain are blown out by overuse, they don’t ever come back. That means most of us—me included, I’m sure—have permanently limited our very ability to feel pleasure.

That factoid is not TheBomb®, but the book is, because it provides a really strong motivation to do better—and a really interesting lens through which to view the screwed-up world.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Homemade toothpaste

I still really like the natural toothpaste I started buying ages ago, but the problem for me now as I descend further and further into hippiedom is that it has a ton of packaging and has to be shipped across the country. So I’ve learned how to make my own natural toothpaste (similar to this one), which I mix in a small jar.

If you read that first link above, you know that I was nervous about switching to nontraditional toothpaste at first, so much so that I had stress fantasies about what I would say if my dentist or hygienist had asked any questions. But I’ve come a long way, baby. At my last appointment, I told my actual, non-imaginary dental hygienist that I used both a natural toothpaste and a homemade toothpaste, and asked her opinion of them. She said she didn’t have any problem with either, except that sometimes baking soda is too abrasive an ingredient to use every day. But she didn’t see any sign of abrasion in my mouth, so I’m good to go.

The coconut oil toothpaste has to be spit into a trash can unless you want clogged drains, but it’s worth it to me. In addition to all the benefits of not putting nasty chemicals in my mouth, I enjoy the taste and feel of this toothpaste, AND the fact that it’s basically free, AND the fact that it does not contribute as much to the landfill, AND the fact that I still get warm compliments from dental professionals every six months. TheBomb. Dot. Mom.

Monday, November 6, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Mandatory Family Game Night

Between M.H.’s job, my job, and Mik’s training schedule/social life, there’s really only one night a week we can have a family dinner, and that’s Mondays. But it seemed awkward to set the table and light a candle and all the stuff we used to do back in simpler days, and it’s hard enough to connect with our extraordinarily reserved 17-year-old. So I came up with a better idea: Family Game Night. Actually Mandatory Family Game Night.

The “mandatory” part is key. Besides appealing to my sense of humor, it signals to Mik that it’s really important to us to stay connected—and that there’s no weaseling out of it. In practice, this is just a quick game of Settlers of Catan played while we eat, but it works because Mik loves games—he comes alive in any competitive situation, and it’s the easiest way to get him talking.

And it is really important to us to stay connected. We’ll have him under our roof for less than two more years, and I intend to squeeze as much awesomeness out of that as I can.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Learning tai chi

I held back on writing about the OTHER amazing gift of the nonfiction DVD section in the library: a treasure trove of guided workouts. I have been toying with the idea of learning tai chi but don’t feel quite so strongly about it that I am ready to sign up for a real-life, in-person, other-humans class. But a video demonstration seemed perfect for my needs—which are to just have some more interesting things to integrate into my do-what-I-feel-like morning yoga time. (Which is probably a subject for another #awesomethings post, but I digress.)

So far I have worked through two library tai chi videos. Interestingly, they contain two mutually exclusive sets of moves, but, again, that’s fine for my purposes. Tai chi seems more complicated than I imagined, so it may be awhile before I am able to blend any of it in naturally with my yoga practice—but I have the rest of my life and about five more videos to work that out. Awesome.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Charity shops

Two miles from my house there’s an awesome charity store that supports the Montana Rescue Mission, which provides services to the homeless. If you have something like this where you live (and I don’t think Goodwill is one), you should really start donating to it AND shopping there.

There are so many upsides: The profits go to charity instead of sweatshop operators; you’re helping people to recycle their unwanted items, which keeps them out of the trash; there is a huge and ever-changing variety of items, which makes finding something good really fun; and you’re reducing the demand for new items to be manufactured. That means that even if you’re a minimalist, you can feel fairly good about any money you spend and any items you bring home. And if you decide the thing you bought is not right for you after all, you can just donate it back to the very same store you bought it from, and all it costs you is a small donation to charity.

I guess the downside is that you can’t always find something you need right when you need it, but I would consider that less a downside and more a “slight inconvenience of the type most ‘consumers’ should really learn to deal with.”

Friday, November 3, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Loving-kindness meditation

I was perhaps the last person on earth to read “Eat, Pray, Love,” but among its MANY virtues it talks about several different kinds of meditation and introduced me to one I had not heard of: loving-kindness meditation. As I understand it—and I may not have it quite right, but that’s fine—you simply sit or lie still, choose a person, and then send warm and loving wishes to that person in your mind.

I usually do mindfulness meditation at some point during my morning yoga, but I have taken to doing loving-kindness meditation while I’m lying in bed at night. It is lovely, and as a bonus it usually puts me to sleep fairly quickly. Does it actually DOOOOO anything for the person you’re meditating about? No idea, but it’s also hard to imagine that the world wouldn’t be a heck of a lot better place if everyone did this.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Nonfiction library DVDs

Today’s awesome thing—because I said so, and because I only recently discovered it—is the nonfiction DVD section of the library. We started checking out DVDs recently because we canceled our Netflix account but did not want to cancel Movie/Laundry Folding Night. The library has more or less everything—of course much later than in the theaters or on the air, but we are patient.

Right away I looked for “Project Runway” (an awesome thing for another post, perhaps), because I discovered the show in approximately its 58th season, and there’s no way to watch old episodes online without (gasp) paying money. I was disappointed that our library didn’t have it but didn’t think much more about it. Weeks later, I accidentally strayed into the nonfiction DVD section and LO AND BEHOLD there are a bunch of new-to-me “Project Runway” seasons.

Not that I will have time this month to watch any of them, but it is really nice knowing they are there.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

TheBombDotMom: Monthly challenges

As I opined about last time, Facebook and Twitter are not good for me. I find them useful for keeping up with people (that’s mostly Facebook) and extremely entertaining (that’s mostly Twitter), but they are also addictive and I think destructive, in the sense that they encourage a lot of impotent outrage. At least in me.

So anyway, it’s November, I am wearing my NaNoWriMo sweatshirt in support of my NaNoWriMoing husband, and the Twitter/Facebook detox has commenced. I also decided that, to enhance the detoxing effects of this month, I would come over here every day to write a tiny something-or-other about “things that are awesome because I said so, that’s why.”

Today’s entry: monthly challenges themselves!

You know how I love a good monthly challenge. A month is just the right amount of time to break you of a habit or kick-start a new one, but it’s not so long that it seems daunting. It’s nice to think about how you can do different things during different seasons of your life, or just celebrate the actual seasons by changing things up a bit. If I had decided on some random Wednesday that I wasn’t going to visit Twitter, it would have been hard and felt like deprivation. But for some reason doing the same thing on Nov. 1, for a November-only challenge, it is fun. At least for me.