Convalescing with Gretchen Rubin.

What do you do when you can’t do much? You think up little-used synonyms to describe your current state, of course. I am recuperating, rehabilitating, recovering, resting, relaxing, chillaxing, convalescing. It all ends tomorrow, though. Tomorrow, I GO BACK TO WORK! From home. But still.

Things I will not miss about being laid-up, post-op: 

  1. My dog’s maniacal barking at the mailman and UPS guy.
  2. Watching my otherwise helpful 80-year-old mother try, and miserably fail at, operating any device in my house, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, remote control… Basically anything with buttons. No wonder all the tabletop appliances are unplugged at her house. She has no idea how to find the off switch and she’s obsessed with her electric bill.
  3. Listening to my sweet and adorable little children manipulate and gaslight the babysitter at bath and bedtime. She’s no match for their sharp little minds. I overpay her because I am so embarrassed for her! I hope she gets better at bossing kids around before she has her own someday. They will eat her alive!

But it wasn’t all bad.

I loved having an endless amount of time to day dream and watch Netflix guilt-free. I did a little reading (not a lot). I did a little writing (more than I thought I would). I did some coloring with (and without) my kids (very therapeutic). I did some internet shopping, surfing, and snooping (nothing too weird).

My father-in-law came for a weekend and that was such a gift. My husband and kids were over the moon. Me too, of course, but I was on the slow train back from Groggy Sleepyville and not fully present, if you know what I mean. They spent a lot of time in the yard, partaking in my husband’s favorite pastime, gardening. He just recently embraced the term and stopped insisting on calling his attentive care of the flower beds and meticulous planning of the raised beds “landscaping.” He’s evolving.

happiness projI know I should be happy to go back to work, but I’m not. All this time alone with my thoughts and creative impulses makes me greedy for more, not less. My lack of motivation isn’t helped by my current choice of light reading. I’m half-way through Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, who is quickly become my personal guru of choice. I read her best-seller The Happiness Project at the beginning of the year, and it really stuck with me. Rubin gave up an extremely successful career in the law to become an author. By successful, I’m talking editor of the Yale Law Review, Clerk for Sandra Day O’Connor, and daughter-in-law of former Treasury Sect. Robert Rubin. She is just one of these exceptionally clear-headed people that can plot a course of action and doggedly stick to it, and her course of action was to be happier. How novel is that? It wasn’t that she was depressed or anxious to begin with. She describes a general sense of dissatisfaction and unease with her activities and day-to-day choices. She wonders if a little concerted effort over time could make her appreciably happier, so she dissects each area of her life and determines what she could do to improve her level of satisfaction in each area, and – wait for it – she does it. Her approach is almost clinical. She successfully makes herself the subject of her own study… for an entire year!

I’m fairly convinced Gretchen Rubin’s advice could change my life… If I choose to follow it. If I could follow it. And that’s a big IF. Self-discipline is not a character trait I am known for. I have dreams, and I have ambition, but I don’t know if I have the discipline needed to change my life. My leg is a perfect example of this. I dream of being a sub-4 hr marathoner and doing an ultra someday. My ambition led me to get this rod permanently installed in my leg. But now I have to find the discipline to do the PT, pick a race, and stick to a tough training schedule. Gulp.

As for my career, the rash thing to do would be to quit my job and devote myself wholeheartedly to freelancing and writing projects when I am not taking care of my family. The rational thing to do is to stay in my job which provides my family with a nice living and me plenty of flexibility to keep the freelancing and blogging as a side hustle. But… Happiness. Being happier. There are really only so many hours in a day, and I spend a lot of them at a job that brings me zero personal satisfaction. I don’t resent it because of what it affords; So yes, I’m happy, but like Gretchen Rubin, I could be happier.  A lot happier. And frankly, having lived with anxiety and depression for so long, I’m very restless to seek out the fulfillment that feels tangible for the first time. Like, I could do this. I feel that. I never felt that before. Be a writer. I’ve got lots more to say!

On that point, my husband has encouraged me to write more about my surgery, the hospital stay, and my experiences in the immediate aftermath. It is all interesting, don’t get me wrong, but I have a tendency to move through difficult situations with a steely determination and an eye on the horizon instead of the present. Hence this post about my career and writing instead of the two-week old rod in my hip and the crutches next to me. This tendency of mine is a great survival instinct but it has probably stunted me emotionally over the years. I know he’s right, though. If I am ever going to be a real writer I have to record and reflect on how I feel in this moment, while the experience is fresh.

So look for that. It’s coming down the Pike, as they say.

Is that an expression that I think is universal but is actually specific to Massachusetts? As in the Mass Turnpike? God help me. I need to get out more.

Readers, should I be rash or rational?

When is the last time you took a big personal risk?

Am I acting like a spoiled Millennial wanting to express myself and find success in creative pursuits? 

A pre-op selfie from a couple weeks ago

I am technically a Gen X-er, but a late bloomer, so it’s possible.

4 thoughts on “Convalescing with Gretchen Rubin.

  1. I envy people who love their jobs. People who could have retired years ago but find too much satisfaction in their work to give it up.
    I’m a security freak, so I stay with a job that provides very little satisfaction but provides for a nice lifestyle. Just like you, I have dreams of doing something else. Not sure what that is just yet.
    If you can make a living or pay some of the bills with writing, then go for it. It’s important that your husband is behind you 100% or you will have huge problems down the road.
    If I could replace half of my income through blogging or selling medals I would probably do it.
    Life is short, so don’t screw around!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, that’s good advice! I don’t know… I’d love to do it but we will just have to see. I’m trying to plot a course and make it happen in a less rash more rational way. That’s the adult thing to do, right? I think you should just go for it though. Unless of course you have college tuitions or a health issues to pay for??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I still have one in college. She may decide to take a minor in creative writing which will add a semester. But we are healthy.
        Definitely something to dream about.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. She’s a writer! She’s lucky to have a dad that encourages her to follow her dreams! Hopefully she won’t decide to go to law school in a couple years when things get tough and she starts questioning her decisions….. 😉 Law school is not the answer! lol


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