December 7, 2003 was a cold, wet, dreary day — much like this one.
I know that because while my husband and daughter were occupied with other things, I decided to follow the lead of my online friend, author Andrea Buchanan, who at that time ran a website for moms in Philadelphia. Andi was the first person I knew who had set up one of these new-fangled things called “blogs,” and because she is an exceptionally prescient and thoughtful woman, I decided I wanted to set one up, too.
So I signed up for a free Typepad account and wrote:
It’s a rare rainy day in Los Angeles, and the house is a little chilly. “I’m going to make some tea,” I announce to Gareth. “Would you like some?” Silly question. He loves a spot of tea in the afternoon, even when it’s 90 degrees out. He insists that hot tea is cooling on a hot day. I’ve never found any logic in this, and although I’ve heard the same from other transplanted Brits, I think it’s just an urban myth cooked up by an ex-pat who can’t embrace American-style tumblers of tea poured over ice. Iced tea in summer is refreshing. Hot tea is a perfect drink when it’s cold – like today.
We were planning a Christmas trip to Britain to visit my husband’s family, and I thought the blog would be a cool way to share our adventures with our family and friends here in California. I never expected to continue it once we returned home. I certainly never expected that I would still be writing it ten years later.
A lot has happened to us over those ten years. We’ve had our share of ups… and downs. (And I’m not just talking about my weight.)
We traveled a lot — until we didn’t.
We said good-bye to beloved pets — and welcomed new ones.
My daughter threw herself into a sport and so we became devoted supporters — until she decided it was time to move on, and we were forced to move on, too.
In 2003, my daughter was in the second grade. Today, she’s applying to college.
Before I started my blog, I felt isolated and alone as a stay-at-home mom up here in the north San Fernando Valley.
In 2005, I attended the first-ever BlogHer conference for women who blog and that community has grown and given me more than I can say. Now, I have hundreds of friends throughout the country (and other parts of the world). I have even met some of them in real life (too many to list in this short post).
A few months ago, I despaired over the difficulty of re-entering the workforce after taking so much time off to raise my child. Today, I have a job… a job I landed because of skills and experience I developed as a blogger.
This blog — which I began as an experiment on a whim because I didn’t have anything else to do on a rainy Sunday — has changed my life, for the better.
I can’t wait to see how it goes over the NEXT ten years.
I finally had that appointment with my doctor last week. And the news was good: That thing on my ovary appears to be just another fibroid. We will continue to monitor it, but for now, no surgery or other treatment is required.
Can I hear a “whew?”
Thankfully, I did not spend a great deal of time worrying about it. I have had too much to do cleaning up the new website and setting up a blog for my nearly full-time client. For the first time in years, I am cautiously optimistic about the future (like in realizing I actually HAVE a future, as this gig is made-to-order for my re-entry into the world of gainful employment).
However, I confess that while I was driving to my appointment, my mind did turn to the possibility of a morbid outcome.
Since the dawn of the great recession, I’ve limited discretionary spending on myself. The first thing to go was stuff like manicures. I bartered for a couple of years with an esthetician (waxing in exchange for managing her client newsletter). This arrangement worked until she decided to go into another business. Unfortunately, this is not something I can completely forego because my menopausal face keeps sprouting hair in all the wrong places. But I don’t go as often as I should, because it’s expensive. Thankfully, my eyesight is now so bad and the lighting in my bathroom is so dim that I rarely notice my whiskers.
Likewise, I put off getting my hair cut and colored for as long as I can. When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I tried coloring my hair myself and botched it so badly that I decided this was something that should be left to the professionals. At the start of the recession, I toyed with the idea of allowing my gray hair to come in naturally. I didn’t like the way I looked (you know – OLD). So then I experimented with getting these services done on the cheap at a beauty school – but all it took was one sloppy dye job to quit that idea. Since then, I just stretched my visits out until my hair was so limp and dull that I can’t bear it any longer.
This is where I was last week, and I remember driving off to the doctor and thinking I needed to make some salon time.
And then, I realized that there was this little, teeny chance that I might have bigger things to deal with, and that going to the salon NOW would be a waste of time and money.
I promised myself I would see a hairdresser this weekend if the news was good.
So: My hair is now dark and shiny… and it occurred to me that I no longer HAVE to go two or three months between salon visits. I can now afford to go every 4-6 weeks, as I did from the time I turned 18 and had my first regular paycheck.
This is going to take some getting used to. And even though I am now benefiting from a regular paycheck and have received a clean bill of health, I am having trouble letting go of the blanket of dread I’ve been living with for the last five years. I can’t allow myself to feel happy for very long, because I’m afraid of getting blindsided again by events I cannot control.
This is no way to live. I know that. I have felt insecure for a very long time and I think it’s going to take me at least as long to shake it off and feel like myself again.
One of the tasks I’m doing for my new business client is managing their social media. This is a piece of cake, since I’ve been active on Facebook, Twitter, et al for years — especially for the MOMocrats.
And there’s my dilemma. Partisan politics has no place when conducting business. And while I have a right to express my political views (and have no intention of stopping), I think it’s only appropriate in my personal space. My clients and their customers don’t want to know what I think of Obamacare, and frankly, I don’t feel the need to tell them.
I am also wary of those instances where corporate tweeters got in trouble for controversial updates that offended half their stream.
This isn’t a problem with Twitter, where my tweets go out under the company account. It’s not really a problem with LinkedIn, which only gets limited feeds from SoCal Mom. But Facebook is another matter. I am now administering the company page there and it occurred to me that I did not want any of my MOMocrats posts to bleed over to the news feeds of the people I’m now working with. Yes, I can set privacy settings that would limit my status updates just to my friends — but I am likely to begin adding new business colleagues and clients to my friend list.
Besides, we all know how much Facebook respects your privacy. They change their terms all the time and your settings along with them (and rarely notify you). Right now, I go into my privacy settings monthly to see how they are set and regularly discover that they’ve changed without my knowledge. It’s a pain.
So over the weekend, I decided to create myself a second Facebook profile under my company email address. And then I friended some of the people from the company.
And then I realized that “Donna Mills,” with her whopping TWO friends, looked fake. And a little bit creepy. So I sent friend requests to about a dozen family members and close friends and posted a status update explaining why I had created the second account.
The following day, I received a text from another good friend (not one of the original dozen) asking me why Facebook was suggesting she friend me when we were already friends? After I explained the situation to her, I checked my email and discovered that about 20 people who are on my “real” Facebook friends list had also asked to friend my other account.
As of now, “Donna Mills” has 46 friends and the requests keep on coming.
I don’t think any of them are going to see a lot going on with “Donna Mills.” For one thing, she’s a lot less vocal than “Donna Schwartz Mills.” She posts links to general interest articles that may be funny and status updates that don’t say a whole lot. And I have a feeling she’ll be calling attention to a number of videos she’s making touting the joys of Microsoft products (Did I mention that the client is an IT company? “Donna Mills” is about to become an expert on everything coming out of Redmond. “Donna Schwartz Mills” is still in love with her iPad and iPhone.)
How long can I keep up maintaining two separate Facebook identities? For a long, long time, I hope. In the meantime, if you are already a Facebook friend of “Donna Schwartz Mills,” you don’t need to prove your love by friending “Donna Mills,” too. But if you do, maybe you want to show the company Facebook page a little love while you’re at it? I’d truly appreciate it.
It has been a long time since I participated in one of the November writing challenges like NaNoWriMo and NoBloPoMo.
The one time I attempted the novel writing challenge, the resulting manuscript was such a pile of dreck that continuing on to another draft seemed absolutely pointless.
And I think it is silly to join the daily blog posting activity because posting daily should always be my blogging goal. The fact that month after month I fail at it only makes me less determined to join in the fun.
But now that 20-30 of my weekly hours are being spent in the service of a paying client, finding time for my personal blog is proving to be more difficult than ever. So last week, I found myself once again toying with the idea of signing up for NaBloPoMo, if only to force myself to find a sliver of time.
And then it was November 5. So that train has passed.
My last full post was written while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. I suppose it should come as no surprise that this one is also coming to you from a waiting room. It seems that is the only place right now where I am able to empty my mind of work-related tasks, enabling me to focus long enough to write.
In other words, I am bored. And desperate enough to blog from my iPhone.
My last post referred to my fear of the other show dropping in the form of some kind of medical disaster. The fact that my doctor has ordered additional tests means that I am still watching for that shoe to maybe drop… But for right now, all is well.
But I did have a bit of a thud last week, when my car underwent some unscheduled and expensive repairs… Followed by a plumbing event that cost me about a week’s pay.
Thank goodness I am being paid now, right? And no wonder I am so silent here.
Here’s hoping I find the time to write again soon… In the comfort and accessibility of my home office.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
I have a good reason for neglecting this space for the last two weeks:
I got a job. A real, honest-to-goodness, employment situation with a boss and meetings — and a paycheck, too. And I have been putting all of my energy into showing them that taking a chance on me was not a mistake.
So far, I think they are happy with the work I am doing for them, and it feels good. It feels really good. It feels so good that I’ve been a little bit afraid to talk about it, lest I tempt fate and force the other shoe to drop.
You see, for the last several years, whenever I’ve had a lick of good fortune, something dire hits me on the head with a great big thump. And I so don’t want to have that happen now. I need this job. I needed it three years ago. And I am terrified of screwing it up.
Right now, I am looking at something that might be that other shoe: Do you remember that doctor’s appointment I had over the summer, where they discovered I had developed a new uterine fibroid (after the onset of menopause, when that is not supposed to happen)?
I was advised to come back in two months so they could check the progress. The two months have now passed, and I wrote the bulk of this post while sitting in my doctor’s waiting room with a full bladder, waiting to be called in for another ultrasound. And while it was easy to put it out of my mind for eight weeks, once I was there — I was scared.
Because it would be just my luck to finally see the light at the end of the financial tunnel only to learn that I had problems with my health.
Unfortunately for me, my OB/GYN was called to the hospital on Wednesday when I had my appointment, so she was not there to interpret the results of the scan. It’s now Saturday morning, and I still have not heard from her. I am thinking that’s a good sign — but I will call her on Monday, just to make sure.
I hope that shoe stays right where it is.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
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