Why I swapped Resolutions for a 2021 Mantra

How it Started

Progress, not perfection.

2021 Resolutions are actively fading fast for most as we near the end of January, but I am feeling even more charged about my mantra for 2021! Good catch dear reader, I swapped resolution for mantra because I find it to be a more positive focus that is easier to sustain.

Anxiety can crush an artist before they even begin. It’s certainly happened to me on multiple occasions. I truly believe 90% of being an artist is simply having the courage to put your work out to the world and stand by it unapologetically. Art doesn’t need to be pixel perfect. I actually find it more enjoyable when art has a level of whimsy that makes it human, gives it personality.

In an effort to own those beliefs myself, my mantra the past year plus has been ” Progress, not perfection”.

I have always been a perfectionist. Partially because most things I tried came relatively easily to me. Dealing with my new normals after the stroke definitely shifted that and my confidence in myself. Discovering the amount of anxiety I was battling was so revealing and also oddly freeing. Feeling the difference after I started taking something for my anxiety was truly like night and day. Now that I have a good grasp on my anxiety control, and now that 2020 is finally in the dust (well nearly… I still need that Covid Vaccine) I am going full force into 2021 with a focus on developing my interests and keeping the judgement of myself at bay.

“Progress , not perfection” has already been at play in my head for over a year. I think it’s helped a lot, but his year I am adding to it to become “Sustained progress, not perfection.” Since I struggle with going all or nothing, I end up burning out or convince myself to reprioritize into a different focus. This year its going to be about sticking with progress and not going too crazy all at once.

How its going

So far I’ve spent most of my weekends focused on creating art – exploring oil paints and practicing to improve my drawing skills. To further this focus and investment in progress I’ve started taking private lessons with @leahgartner.art. Please check her out! She’s a local Chicago artist that I’ve just fallen completely in love with the personality of her work.

I’ve also been doing Adriene’s latest 30 days of Yoga – Breath. It’s the 25th of January and I’ve done 22, so I’m not perfect, but its moving forward and I’m enjoying my time on the mat. I can certainly identify that the time spent with Adriene has been serving me well.

Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? Does a mantra sound more appealing to you? I would love to know!

Fertility talk – How I feel about one of my best friends having a baby.

Okay, so this is actually about the fertility talk and the ticking clock.

The honest answer for how I feel about one of my best friends having a baby is I feel a confused and a little broken. Of course I’m ecstatic for my friend and her husband. This is something they really wanted and tried for. Plus there were scary moments along the way, so healthy baby and mom is an incredible thing.

I also don’t have conviction that I don’t want children either. I’m in limbo, but my fertility clock certainly isn’t.

My feelings are about how I react so [seemingly] different than everyone else about babies and children in general. I don’t have the baby fever. And the thing is- I also don’t have conviction that I don’t want children either. I’m in limbo, but my fertility clock certainly isn’t.

Fertility Talk

Fertility talk time! I discovered a fertility kit from an online provider (thanks, Facebook ads) to test my blood and give me a prediction about my remaining egg reserve based on a hormone called AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone). The test was $169 and I would be able to do the test while still on my birth control.

I decided to spend the money and get some answers. I had learned from talking to friends most doctors don’t support fertility testing until you’ve already been trying without success. That doesn’t sound like a good game plan to me. Its much better to have warnings and get ahead of issues if you can, obviously.

My results told me I was on the about the lowest tick of “normal” for the AMH range of my age group (31). While it was still “normal” it definitely wasn’t reassuring. So, I started researching to learn about freezing eggs.

Freezing eggs

I had thought about freezing my eggs before casually but had never looked into it. Since I hadn’t actually done much research or deep thinking I was surprised to learn that freezing eggs requires IVF to use them. That seems pretty obvious now.

When I took my test results to my annual appointment with my OBGYN she informed me that the service I used was employing old logic that has since been proven to actually not have any correlation between the hormone and egg reserve.

What I also learned was that freezing eggs would cost around $10k, and then you’d spend a few hundred dollars a year storing them. She said freezing embryos (fertilized eggs) increases the chance of having a live birth later on. My doctor also noted that she sees the best time to freeze eggs is between 32-36. To me this was the best news during my fertility talk.

I’m rounding into the 2nd half of 31, so I don’t need to make any decisions hastily. But boy the cost of ensuring I could bear a biological child is hefty. Not to mention the price of delivering that child and then raising that child. $$$$!

The Stroke

My stroke would definitely play a role in me bearing a child. I would have to keep on hand a large team of doctors. When you’re pregnant the body naturally wants to clot as a safeguard against losing too much blood during labor. Obviously, clotting is an issue for me. I would need to have my neurologist, hematologist, OBGYN and primary all working together to oversee my care.

My fiancé and I have talked about if we want kids, if they need to be biologically ours and our current feelings in general. Neither of us feel a strong inclination either way. He’s mentioned that his mother has said she could see us adopting lots of babies. I thought that was sweet.

“One of you needs to REALLY WANT children, so that they can keep you up when it gets hard.”

My last trip to Dallas, I spent a long time talking to a good friend of mine who is a few years older and further down the “life events path”. One thing she said has really stuck with me, “One of you needs to REALLY WANT children, so that they can keep you up when it gets hard.”

For now I’m comforted in the fact that I don’t need to make any big decisions, that my fiancé supports having or not having a family, and that our family could look any number of ways (including adoption, only fur babies, trying naturally, etc).

If you feel in limbo about what you want, I hope you feel a little less alone. Feel free to comment if you can relate!

My Bucket List and Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until You’re in Trouble to Make One

Do you watch A Million Little Things? We do, and a recent episode that had Maggie trying to get to Plymouth Rock for her bucket list got me thinking about mine again.

Some people find it morbid to have an actual bucket list when you’re young, but I see it as goals to work towards accomplishing while I still can. Again, YOLO. I never got very serious about having a bucket list myself until I had a stroke and signed a paper that gave doctors permission to try and save my life, even if it meant possibly killing me or leaving me severely impaired. Before that it was just a figure of speech.

Now I think it’s important to create a bucket list before you’re faced with the reality of your own death. Hey, it’s going to happen to everyone. By making a bucket list you’re forced to identify what is important for you to experience. Remember not all of these items need to be big ritzy things. Do you want to learn a second language? Take a trip on your own? This list has no limits!

I’ve already made some progress on my list. In no particular order, my bucket list is:

Be Given A Giant Check

A giant check prize. team trivia
Checked off in 2013. Pun intended. 🙂

Status: Done! 🎉
Story: After I moved back to Chicago, I played Team Trivia (i.e. bar trivia) frequently with my sister and her friends at Halsted’s (it’s closed now). Our team did so well that we went to regionals! At regionals our team came in second. BUT the team that came in first was also first nationally! They won such a big prize from that that they let the bar give us the regional prize… which was a GIANT CHECK for $150… it really only covered our food and drink bill for the group. Still, it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Eat at Alinea in Chicago,

including the artwork dessert and edible balloon!

Alinea edible balloon
Alinea, The Gallery. 2019

Status: Done! 🎈
Story: My boyfriend is a wonderful advocate of not waiting for a special occasion if you’re excited or passionate about something. This includes presents, self care, and also self indulgence! I’m so glad he reminded me how important it was to experience this restaurant, and even more importantly- to stay present for it. I kept my phone away until almost the end of the tasting to focus on every detail.

Be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune with my Mom

Status: Still a dream
Story: My parents named me after a Wheel of Fortune contestant when I was born. I think we have a great story to get on the show. AND my mom is seriously so talented at solving puzzles.

Admittedly, I would be extremely nervous to make a fool out of myself.

Dance en pointe again

swan lake ballerina
Sway Lake 2006

Status: Attempted
Story: I grew up dancing fairly seriously (pic below) and started to train en pointe (i.e. toe shoes) when I was 11. At 31 it was depressing to realize I had not danced en pointe longer than I had ever danced en pointe.

I plan to continue going to ballet and work on exercises to make me strong enough for pointe. I need to stay mindful of my capabilities post stroke, but I’m hopeful I can make progress.

Fly First Class on an International Flight

I promise not to be this obnoxious though. 🙃

Status: Still wishing & saving
Story: This costs soooo much money and I cannot find a way to justify it, but man o man would this feel like pure luxury. One day it would be nice to experience this. True bucket list item!

Dance with my Dad at my wedding

Status: Feeling hopeful 🙂
Story: My father is currently 72 and I am not engaged. So, I don’t blame you if you think this is a weird one to have, or at least admit to having on my bucket list. But, the truth is there is so much that can happen in life that we simply don’t plan for.

This is probably the most depressing thing on my list, but also the most beautiful. I really hope that I get to share this moment with my Dad. It would mean A.) we are both alive in good health & B.) I’m lucky enough to share the rest of my life with a partner.

Update: IM ENGAGED! 💍 so I’m feeling very good about this one.

Die my Hair a Bold Color

Status: The closest I’ve come to this is attaching feathers to my hair.
Story: I would love to have my hair pink or lavender. But the truth is I’m too chicken shit to actually do it. I definitely have plans to do this when I become a senior citizen. I realize I need to take my own advice and try this sooner than later!

Wave at Waving Bears

Have you seen these cuties on the internet?

I absolutely want to have a bear sassily wave at me like I’m it’s best friend and its encouraging me to go and do the wild thing.

Luckily my bucket list has a few check marks and wonderful memories already built. I hope you make progress on yours. Do you have a bucket list? Do you have any suggestions for mine?