A gray morning’s introspection.

There is a fairly complex, multi-faceted reason I grow plants. What it boils down to is: depression.

Living things offer a balm to my particular brand of depression. When I’m feeling down, greenery and colorful blossoms remind me of simple pleasures, present simple joys that I don’t have to think about and search for. Studying my plants’ leaves for spider mites or molds gives me a tangible task to use as an interruption for the cycle of destructive, obsessive, intrusive thoughts that have so much inherent darkness. Breaking that cycle is difficult and I discovered years ago that simple physical tasks or chores were not as effective for me as working on something that would benefit another living thing.

I’ve never had an apartment that allowed pets, so my craving for companionship had to be diverted to green things. Pets are widely known to be beneficial to sufferers of depression. They offer physical contact, affection, a sense of responsibility and purpose, lower blood pressure, increase emotional resilience…a brief glance through the scientific literature reveals a list that goes on and on. Where pets are not allowed, renters with depression face a challenge in the form of isolation and loneliness.

At this point, years into my battle with depression, I tend to find solace in solitude more than loneliness. In addition, I worked very hard at pushing my social fears and boundaries a few years back and I have developed a couple of distinct groups of truly magnificent friends that I can turn to in times of low emotional confidence. They are incredible and I value their love and support more than I could ever say. However, while they are all wonderful, warm, caring, and intelligent people, they are not pets to play with and exercise my caretaker tendencies toward.

So, several apartments ago, I turned to plants. 

I’ve always enjoyed gardening. Something about digging in the dirt and helping make my environment beautiful had always appealed to me. I have memories of being very young and patting rather ineffectually at the soil around plants my mother had already planted, “helping” her. One of my Mothers’ Day presents to her while I was in high school was a garden plot along the back of the house, which remains to this day one my favorite gifts that I’ve given to anyone, ever. It was fun to plan and plant and take her to buy more flowers (although I suspect she took me in this particular instance) and I am still proud of it even though groundhogs devoured most of the plants and we eventually gave up and stopped planting it (and now it’s mostly gravel around a mini deck).

Plants can’t make noises at you or cuddle with you on the couch to express affection but they do need care and attention. Some of my very best gardening has been done in the throes of deep depression, when the plants were the only things I could bring myself to talk to and thought of stepping out of the front door seemed insurmountable. Some of my very worst gardening has been done when I am healthier and happier, as I leave the house more and get interested in other things and more or less forget that plants can’t mewl or bark to remind me that they need food and water. 

What calls all of this to mind is the fact that I made a rather large mistake in the care of my zinnias yesterday. I was concerned about overwatering them so I opted to skip the daily morning watering and decided I would check on them before I went to bed in the evening and water them then, if they were dry.

The problem with this plan was two-fold: (1) I needed to remember that I changed the routine and (2) I needed to not get distracted by other pursuits when I went to close the shades and check over the plants.

Unfortunately for every living thing in my apartment, I spent last night vacuuming shards of metal out of my carpets and picking more shards of metal out of the fabric of my footstool. Thanks, tremendously terrible extermination company that the outrageously obnoxious management company keeps hiring to apparently only treat my apartment instead of the entire building. Picking splinters of steel wool out of my feet has been a truly engaging pastime.

I completely forgot that I even had plants in my apartment last night.

As of this morning, the seedlings in the plastic containers are still going strong and I may have managed to save a few of the stems in one of the the egg cartons but at least two dozen of my seedlings were shriveled and collapsed and thread-thin and will never more grace my windowsill. 

One of the many contributing factors of my depression is a fear of failure. A nearly debilitating fear of failure that keeps me from singing along with recorded renditions of “The Best Is Yet To Come” because I once screwed it up during a concert and have yet to recover my ability to enjoy that song (which is one of my favorites) through the heaps of embarrassment and disappointment in myself. One of the many ironies of my climb out of depression is that when I feel good my gardening suffers and when my gardening suffers I feel bad.

Thank you, Joseph Heller.

So: I have now failed at least two dozen seedlings. Killed them dead. And yet…I am absolutely getting so much better because my reaction this morning was essentially, “aw, plants” instead of “I AM A HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE MURDERER” and some tears. These days, that emotion seems to be reserved for emptying mousetraps.

When I called my father this morning to say “I am sad” and “I’m a terrible plant parent” I wasn’t busy feeling like a failure. Instead, I was thinking about what other plants would go well in a windowsill with some zinnias and whether it would be better to start those from seed or to buy some sturdy plants from a nursery.

I do desperately wish I could have a cat. If I had one already, I could have worked to get it registered as an emotional support animal. Unfortunately, starting from scratch and obtaining a pet in the hopes that I could get away with it long enough to go through the process of registering is untenable and would not be fair to the cat. As this mouse situation goes on, though, I’m more and more inclined to demand a foster situation be approved by the management so that I can house a mouser. The extermination company is clearly not doing it.

We can all agree that this shouldn’t happen, right? 

That’s the magnetic edge of an iPad cover after I hovered it a quarter of an inch over my footstool and moved it across the width of one end, once.

Anywho, the State of the Meg is this: gardening helps, I’m not awesome at changing routines, I owe some flowers an apology, and I’m still going to have bright, beautiful blooms in my windowsill (just not quite as many as originally anticipated), and I have tangible emotional proof that failures have become merely momentary setbacks. Overall, I consider this morning a big win.

Still want a cat, though.

I have no self-control, chapter eight zillion and two: gardening.

I have exceeeeeeeedingly little self-control.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met me. A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at a CVS to buy some conditioner. I have a tremendously reprehensible habit of wandering among the aisles of a convenience store with the vague intention of laughing at all of the bizarre items the store’s decision-makers seem to think I won’t be able to live without. Often, this turns into me toying with the idea of spending four dollars on yet another coloring book. That day, it turned into me deciding that, yes, I really did want something to replace the basil which gave up the ghost a couple of months ago.

$1.99 for a tiny terra cotta pot labeled “Zinnia Grow Kit” and instructions to plant 5 seeds in the pot? Well, $2 is steep for the, what, maybe 8 seeds I could expect to find in that itty bitty little packet, but…I want plantlife. So I bought it. I took the little package home, set the plastic bag on my table, and forgot about it for the rest of the week.

Last Sunday was my elder nephew’s birthday. Because he lives on the west coast for some godforsaken reason, I had to wait until he might feasibly be awake before calling to wish him Happy. As I pondered my choices for filling my time between the consumption of coffee and three-year-old-awakeness, I recalled the Zinnia Grow Kit. When I tore it open I was bemused to find that the eeny weeny packet of seeds held more than eight seeds. Exactly how many, I couldn’t have said, but I was content to consider it a nebulous “more than expected” number.

I planted five seeds in the tiny pot as instructed then pulled the old Cool Whip containers I’d originally started the basil out in to plant the rest. Potting soil in the hall closet, plastic wrap from the kitchen to cover the containers, doot-dee-doo, humhumhum, planting planting planting pla….wait. I now had two fully seeded containers and the itty bitty pot but there were more seeds waiting in the packet.

I dithered a bit, played a game on my computer, drank more coffee, and folded the seed packet up so the leftover seeds wouldn’t fall out. I got up and brushed my teeth. I checked the clock and decided it was still too early to call California. I perched on the couch with a Games magazine. I twitched. I got halfway through a puzzle. I threw the magazine down and went to dig through my recycling.

One of the problems with the embarrassment of winter weather we’ve had here in the Boston area is that the recycling bins of the apartment building vanished under snow and ice back in early February and remained AWOL until last week. I’ve been able to haul trash out to the dumpster but there hasn’t been anywhere to put recycling other than “out of the path of foot traffic.” I knew there was an egg carton in there somewhere…!

A seed in every well, a plastic bag under it to protect the windowsill from moisture, a thorough watering, aaaaand there were still more seeds left in the packet. Again I folded the packet over and made an effort to do other things. The seed packet sat on the footstool next to my laptop. Staring at me.

This is when I gave up and called my mother. “This is ludicrous,” I said, turning the camera view around so she could see the assemblage of containers (thank heavens for video chat), “there are more. I know there’s another egg carton in the fridge but I’d have to eat the eggs first!”

“Eggs fit nicely into bowls,” my mother pointed out.

Too much helping, Mum.

Not long after we ended the phone call, I gave in and put the eggs into a plastic bowl and absconded with the carton. This time, I planted a minimum of two seeds in every egg well. And I exclaimed, aloud, “What!” when I still had seven seeds sitting in my hand. I was officially out of bowl-shaped things I was willing to punch drainage holes into. It was time to get creative.

Spelunking through the recycling turned up a couple of empty bottles from quarts of orange juice or milk, lots of empty tomato cans, two large strawberry containers, and, finally, a one-pint container that had originally held blueberries. Fruit containers are not ideal planters. They have large gaps to allow water to spill out which also would allow expensive seed-starting potting soil to fall out. You know by now that I’m obsessive compulsive to the point of not being able to leave seven seeds unplanted but another thing I am is: fiendishly addicted to coffee.

What does a coffee drinker have lying around on her counters? Filters for Mr. Coffee.

I am here to inform you that a coffee filter fits just fine into a pint blueberry container and does a bang-up job of keeping soil from washing away from the seeds and into your living room carpet.

The last seven seeds were finally planted. I arranged everything on my windowsill, then blinked. It dawned on me: I had at least a dozen seeds here, two dozen there, five in the pot, seven over here, who knows how many in either of the Cool Whip containers…! For $2, I had gotten at least 5 dozen seeds.

After three days, the first green was appearing. Stems are now pushing up against the plastic wrap of their containers while more seedlings continue to appear. As of this afternoon I have 57 visible seedlings and five or six egg wells across the two egg cartons that show no signs of growth yet but may still develop something.

I have bought seeds at supermarkets, at hardware stores, at garden supply centers, gathered them lovingly from seedpods. I have never had this rate of success! As ridiculous as my windowsill looks right now, with its assortment of shoddy plant holders, I am utterly delighted with my “garden.” I believe my first words to my father when he answered my phone call the other day were, “I am a proud plant parent!” This morning, of course, on the last day of the week the seeds were planted, I sat on my sofa and I munched on my leftover soda bread and I wondered vaguely what the future might hold for my little plantlings.

When asked on Sunday what I planned to do with them when they got big enough to transplant to a garden, I had responded, “I don’t know. Maybe give them to friends?”

………………………………………………nah.

Thank you for existing, Amazon.com.

I bought a window box. And more potting soil. And some spikes and tubing for a container-garden self-watering system. Because I have no self-control.

Yea, and I shall hoard my zinnias to myself like a particularly floral dragon, raining fire on all who come near as clearly they desire my bounty for themselves. Those plants shall be glamorous and they are mine, all mine, precious, yessssss, gol-lum, gol-lum!

And the next time I find myself eyeballing a packet of organic heirloom seeds, I’ll poke myself in that eye and then go to CVS.

  

SALT – it does a body good!

I am not in traction but I am definitely flat on my back.

There was a flurry Tuesday night and I headed out of my apartment carefully on Wednesday morning. I made it down my street, across an intersection, and roughly two-thirds of the way down another street before meeting a particularly vicious driveway. Snow over two inches of ice does not good traction provide.

I wound up on my right side, limbs flung out most attractively. When I managed to regain my feet and skitter forward, I took note of some sore muscles in my back, brushed the snow off my hands, and decided I wasn’t hurt enough to miss the bus. Off I went, as carefully as before, but with the added advantage that there were businesses on the cross street I was approaching and the sidewalks were increasingly dusted with more salt than snow.

I was supposed to be getting some fasting bloodwork done before work that morning. It did not happen.

The fall took up enough time that the bus I was hoping to catch had been and gone. I caught a bus from a different route and headed underground at the first subway station it reached. Huzzah, I thought as I rubbed my hip, I may still get that blood draw.

Joy lasted the duration of the escalator ride. Upon arrival at the platform I discovered a sea of bodies. A “medical emergency” was being announced as the cause of northbound delays (in my experience, medical emergencies are primarily vagrants choosing to exercise their bladder skills). What was not being announced is that if no northbound trains exist, the system runs out of trains to send southbound! It was a long, long wait on that platform. My lower back hurt more and more as I shifted from side to side, trying to find a comfortable stance. I looked at the station clock and resigned myself to missing the blood work and trying again another day.

At long last, a southbound train arrived. I didn’t manage to get on it but I did manage to crowd into the next one several minutes later. I squeezed in and pressed myself against the side of the seat guard, trying to avoid leaning on the gentleman who was actually sitting there. I had to twist a bit to reach a pole to hang on to but, luckily, the platforms at the next several stations were on the opposite side of the train and I could settle back a bit against the door.

Then, on the bridge over the Charles River, the train stopped. A disable train ahead, we were told.

I’ve never understood why they can’t just call it what it is: broken.

I, for one, was certainly starting to feel broken. I now had brief flares of pain down my left leg to my knee and my upper back and shoulders were complaining about the jarring of the fall and the twist I was in to hold that pole.

I am supposed to be at work at 8:30. At 8:28, we finally crossed the bridge. I texted my boss: “I am so close. Sooo close.”

She laughed at me. Someday I will figure out what I have to do to regularly get to work on time (I suspect it will involve chanting and blood sacrifices) but until that day dawns my boss gets frequent reminders how wise she was to move away from the greater Boston area.

I got to work fifteen minutes late. I had left my house at 6:50. I let everyone know I had finally made it in and started sucking down coffee and Advil.

Caffeine and painkillers helped. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself they did. By afternoon I had given in and called the chiropractor I hadn’t seen in a few years. By the end of the day, I was moving between sitting and standing in roughly ten minute intervals.

Thursday was more of the same with the exception that it was a much, much shorter work day because I was scheduled to go see my chiropractor.

My chiropractor tested my balance (I stumbled), my reflexes (unremarkable), my leg muscle strength (left roughly half of right). He promptly wrote an order for me to have some X-rays and give me an ice pack and fifteen minutes with a TENS unit. He promised me that he didn’t think anything was broken but, understandably, he was reluctant to do any manipulation without proof of that.

I understand his reasoning, I do, but I just wanted him to fix me! I didn’t really need him to tell me that my “pelvis is…really out of place” (I had rather figured that out on my own) and I’d been hoping against hope that he would just shove my spine back into alignment and the aches and the pains would start to fade.

I am not a medical professional but I didn’t identify any cracks or gaps in the X-rays. My fingers are crossed that when I return to his office tomorrow afternoon he’ll wave a magic wand, put me through a fair amount of pain and force my spinal column to return to its regularly scheduled programming.

For those of us keeping track, last week tied my record of 10 days in a row without medical issue in 2015. I have yet to survive two full weeks without inexplicable illness or accident.

I’ve spent the weekend drifting between prone and vaguely upright, knitting-unknitting-and-reknitting much of a sock, and watching a great deal of Netflix (bumming on the generosity of a friend because it is not in my budget – I’m definitely getting his money’s worth!), particularly Star Trek.

I didn’t discover Star Trek until a few years ago and I have been utterly in love ever since I hit “play” on that first episode. My father sent me a Valentine’s Day present which was an image for my computer backdrop of the original bridge crew as a rock band. The passing of Leonard Nimoy has had me saluting my computer every time Spock comes on screen at the start of an episode. Spock was the character that enraptured me from the start and while I grew to adore Bones and Scotty and the others it is still Spock that I coo aloud at when something clever is done. I’m impressed with Nimoy’s character choices and I’ve been toying with the idea of devoting more of my idle time to his other performances. I’m considering it for Deforest Kelley’s work, too, although I have a slight aversion to Westerns from childhood overexposure.

The show was kitschy and goofy and took a lot of risks and I am so, so, so glad for the technologies that allowed it to be produced, stored, and made available today. What an incredible, fabulous time to be a geek, that allows me to text my father while I giggle at onscreen antics and allows him to respond with comments about his memories of watching the show years ago.

_\\//

Snowday HEY!

Conclusion: I like beet greens a heck of a lot more than I like beets.

Corollary: Beet chips are delicious…but so far I’ve yet to find a method of preparing beets that doesn’t fill me with feelings of “meh.”

I suffered yet another bout of illness this past weekend, bringing my health score for 2015 to Germs: 4; Meg: 0. I’ve yet to make it a full week without some kind something making me feel like death.

Hopefully I’m on the mend again, though. I’m trying to keep an eye on my nutritional intake this year (which is possibly my problem? Maybe I should stop…) so once the crackers and ginger ale had done their job, I decided on a root vegetable roast. Also, roasted root vegetables seemed like a reasonably in your face, blizzard! meal for a snowday.  Then, of course, I was left with a couple of hours to wait for things to roast and three bunches of beet greens and, well, that is some valuable vitamin territory even though I’ve always thrown them out because I’ve been told beet greens are bitter.

Soooooooo! Blanched, sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes, omnomnom’d: delicious!

Well, cheers, snowday, for letting me get a little bit caught up on the housework I couldn’t do this weekend because I was flat in bed. And also for bringing light to the Boston Yeti. Hot damn, I love this city.

Whatever, Winter.

Boston is traditionally bad at winter. This is something that I’ve never been able to understand, because Boston is certainly not new to the concept and should have mastered the arts of deicing and plowing in the last four hundred years. With that perennial complaint made, however, I’m currently up in arms about another aspect of winter in the greater Boston area: standing outside in the cold, waiting for a bus that never comes.

There is a bus route that is supposed to start three blocks or so from my bus stop. It is supposed to begin its route at 7:36 a.m. exactly. For a week and a half, though, that bus did. not. run.

I am making a serious effort to get to work “on time” and it is incredibly difficult to manage that feat when 30 minutes of my morning are spent staring longingly down the street in hopes of espying a vehicle bringing (ostensibly)  heat and mobility.

Piffle to you, MBTA.

I’m delighted to report that I have been to see my optometrist and I am officially conjunctivitis-free! This is absolutely worthy of celebration, to my mind, as I have never before had conjunctivitis and it was an entirely unpleasant experience. This was hugely welcome news on Tuesday morning, as I’d spent a rather sleepless night and needed something positive to get me through the headache and the lack of energy that persisted through most of the day. Even though it had been a full week without conjunctivitis symptoms, it was an immense relief to hear good health confirmed.

The vast majority of last week was fairly dreadful, honestly. Monday night was only the first instance of sleeplessness. Tuesday wasn’t much better. I did actually sleep very well on Wednesday night but Thursday night was a series of painful awakenings from abdominal pain. Added to that were frustration with lingering symptoms of my cold and mental exhaustion from an absurd amount of overtime, and I was pretty much ready to curl up and hide from reality with my head under my pillow for the duration of the weekend. That’s basically what I did, with the notable exceptions of making chili and finally starting on a long overdue baby blanket.

I spent an incredible amount of money on meals last week, being so tired that I didn’t trust myself with the oven or stove during the moments I was roving the apartment like a ghoul. Even thawing out the chili in the freezer and portioning it out into travel-sized meals seemed impossible. Yesterday, therefore, I made more chili and stuck it into the freezer in lunch-sized doses. I usually make a production out of chili, with special trips to the store for a variety of produce and cheeses, but yesterday I indulged in the joy of “Oh, I have that in the cupboard? Into the pot it goes!”

Tonight, I will make pasta so that I have something to stick in the microwave and eat for dinner when I get home at “ugh, what is this hour.”

Keep on keeping on, me!

Medical Seclusion

There was a truly desperate sparrow outside my apartment building this morning. 35 degrees Fareinheit and raining and that little bird was taking a most enthusiastic bath in a puddle. He must have been very dirty!

TMI alert!

I have more or less been on lockdown for the past few days. As new and bizarre symptoms made themselves known on Friday while I was at the office, I went to the clinic and was told that, yes, I have a cold. However, it’s apparently a particular known virus that causes laryngitis, coughing up of accumulated mucus but no removal of pathogens, and viral conjunctivitis. I am “extremely contagious” for 3-5 days (1-3 more days, now) and can expect a painful throat and persistent cough for 2-4 weeks.

The doctor told me, “avoid speaking, drink lots of warm liquids, avoid leaving the house, and make yourself as comfortable as possible,” the final phrase of which is distressingly fatalistic and makes me feel like I should be making Final Arrangements. I was desperately hoping that this would be bacterial so that she could prescribe some kind of medication, particularly for the conjunctivitis, but instead I was told to keep doing everything I have been doing, keep my mouth shut, and stay under virtual house arrest.

Because I wasn’t quite over the line into abject misery yesterday, I developed a migraine. Also, it’s that time of the month. And there is a mouse who possibly spent the night under my couch and may well still be there.

I have had quite an adventure with mice in this building since September. There were no signs of mice at all for the first year I lived here but they decided to colonize with a vengeance. Unfortunately, reporting the problem to the management company resulted in someone coming into my apartment unannounced and laying down kill traps loaded with some kind of chemical, using my kitchen shears to cut up steel wool, and pulling apart the bits of steel wool in the middle of my dining room. Of course, I didn’t know what steps they had taken until I almost put my hand in a mousetrap while cleaning the tub, washed inexplicable metallic dust off of the shears I didn’t remember leaving out on the counter, and spent a full week pulling painful metal splinters out of my feet. I left a couple of frustrated messages but, of course, no one bothered to call me back. The maintenance man did, at point, bring glue traps to my door but I will absolutely not have those things in my home – they are inhumane and I have watched a mouse stuck in one die a terrifying, horrible death.

My solution to this is to bait anew the live traps I bought but which will probably not work and leave them around while I’m here. I’ll bait the snap traps before I leave for work and deactivate them when I get back home. The thought of a SNAP waking me up, of lying in bed realizing there is a tiny dead or injured creature needing to be dealt with in the middle of the night, is sufficiently alarming to keep me from doing anything more effective.

I’m delighted to be able to say that my apartment is in a much better condition to discourage mice now than it was back in September. In September, I’d had overtime and travel at work and I hadn’t had a chance to clean anything for a couple of weeks. The apartment was frankly squalid with unwashed dishes, dirty laundry, and all manner of work and crafting detritus. Seeing a mouse helping himself to the bird seed queued up an intense panic and a top-to-bottom house scrubbing that I sobbed throughout.

Last night, by contrast, I was alerted to something odd when the tin foil I’d left on the counter while eating my dinner rattled. I threw it out and neatened up my kitchen, then sprawled on the living room floor with my computer. I hadn’t been there five minutes when a mouse came around the corner from the kitchen and scurried in. My friend Jenn consoled me over Twitter and has encouraged me to think of the mouse as “Irwin” or “Irving” to make him seem less startling and intrusive.

Thank goodness for Jenn. <3 I have now decided to call him Irwin and, if I manage to catch him, I will be keeping him as a pet. The management company has strict rules about pets (as in: NOT ALLOWED) but if he’s already a tenant, frankly, they can take their complaints and bite. They should have hired exterminators like I and the other residents asked them to. At the very least, they should have told me to expect the maintenance guy to put down kill traps and steel wool. I’d already DONE the steel wool and would have loved the opportunity to keep him from seeding my carpet with metal shavings that took two months of repetitive vacuuming to mostly clear up.

My throat complains loudly and at length if I eat anything that is not extremely soft or straight up liquid so of course I baked bread this morning. I half-justified it as an effort to draw the mouse back out and toward my traps. Oddly enough, though, this happened:

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On top of Mount Gluten, all covered in flour…

I would make a pithy comment about crafting little tiny mouse skis but I tore off that bulge and ate it as soon as the loaf had cooled enough from the oven. It doesn’t feel like my throat is ever going to forgive me but I regret nothing. It just means I’m adding even more honey to my teas.

Speaking of which, my tea problem? Less a problem and more a surprisingly beneficial addiction, this past week. I find myself incredibly thankful that I have so many different flavors and caffeine levels to quaff while I sulk my way through this illness. Green teas, black teas, red teas, floral teas, herbal teas, teas with fruit and spices and coffee beans and chocolate and pumpkin. Not to mention, half of my collection is back at the office for me to mainline while I sulk at my computer tomorrow.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me, family and friends, that I’ll catch this mouse, recover my voice, not infect any of my neighbors with the creeping crud, and manage to get all of my laundry put away before I fall asleep tonight. On rolls the day!

Why, hello, 2015!

I am ringing in the New Year with a touch of bronchitis and absolutely obscene amounts of tea and honey and cinnamon. My original plan for this day involved a jazz brunch and board games, then it was a bottle of wine and a coloring book, then it was maybe a poker brunch, and it finally wound up being hot tea and cornbread and pajamas all day.

Kind of glorious, really.

Last year was somewhat inauspicious for me, health-wise. I haven’t fallen quite so desperately and frequently ill since I was in, oh, middle school. Something about my body decided to just up and take a vacation in 2014 and allowed flu and pneumonia and bronchitis in with the ubiquitous sinus headaches and asthmatic wheezing. Clearly I’m going to need to reassess my frequent habit of passing over the orange juice while grocery shopping.

I’m feeling rather accomplished, moving out of 2014. I achieved some pretty dearly held professional and personal goals and I’m still basking in the feeling of self-adoration that arose when I finally completed the knitting project I’d been lugging around since July 2013. That was a blanket for my mother, who is constantly chilled, that I intended to be cozy and big enough that she could fold it double over her lap while sitting on a couch. Much to my bemusement as I made repeated trips to buy yarn, it devoured five large skeins of Loops’n’Threads in a basket-weave pattern and ended up being large enough for her to drape as a coverlet on a queen-sized mattress. [Half of me has sworn off anything other than a baby blanket ever again. The other half is glancing blearily around and wondering where I left my project bag.]

In the personal realm, I rediscovered the joy of a truly engrossing book. I stopped waiting for the moral support/security blanket of company and reacquainted myself going out and doing things that I find interesting. I attended educational seminars. I volunteered for a local group that fights to maintain the environment of the Boston Harbor Islands. I increased my involvement with the pet rescue organization I love. I participated in a couple of public radio events that I had never previously considered.

In the professional realm, I coordinated my first-ever client and site-based meetings. I learned a little something about financial processes. I re-evaluated my concepts of data architecture and started restructuring my processes. I have indoctrinated several coworkers to the cult of Tea Makes Everything Better. I have grown closer with my team, who are all amazing people, and I am having an absolute blast living vicariously through their “remote,” work-at-home offices in Florida, Texas, New York, and elsewhere (I get pictures of dogs and alligators and ice slides!). I am incredibly proud of the work that we do and I was stunned yesterday when I ran some preliminary statistics and discovered that my team saw an increase of 23% in intakes from 2013. That certainly explains a lot about the way we’ve all been feeling – more than half-crazed and usually sleep-deprived and always behind on everything no matter how long the hours we put in. I am super pleased to have an actual number to replace my incredibly scientific “I think this department is growing a lot!”

[On a side note both personal and professional, I gained some knowledge of the Marvel superhero universe this past year. I’ve decided I want to grow up to be Pepper Potts. Or, more like, Team Manager for the Avengers or the X-Men or something. If you know any budding superhero groups seeking a badass chick to keep them on time and in line and stocked with caffeine and baked goods, let a sister know.]

I’m going to be concentrating on my work-life balance in 2015. Back in the days of grade school, volunteering was mostly a chore. Even if I happened to be motivated for a particular project, other people in the group would be slogging through it unenthusiastically. The key difference between volunteering as a teenager and as an adult is that adults volunteer for causes they’re passionate about and willing to work for. Teenagers volunteer for whatever they think will be both least boring and least labor-intensive. Working on the adult!volunteer side of the scale is far more rewarding. I think I’ll try using volunteer activities as a bridge between the daily plodding and dashing of the office and the nightly brainless collapse into sleep.

Therefore:

Goals for 2015 – a calmer, more confident working!Meg, a more engaged and active resting!Meg.

Bronchitis or no, I think I’m off to a fair start of this 365-day cycle.