Saturday, May 24, 2014

I Did It! (Well, Actually, HE Did It).

Dear Internet, 

Jon is laying next to me as I type. He's snoring away. He also fell asleep today, sitting upright in a chair at our kitchen table, and then later, in sixty seconds while sitting on the couch.  Do you want to know why?

Because  Jon just got back from a nine day trip traveling around China!!!

Have your ever feared something inevitable, and you worry, worry, worry before it happens, and then when it finally does take place, you're like: "Oh! That wasn't so bad!" Embarrassingly, that's what happened to me with this whole China trip thing. 

I couldn't tell you about it while Jon was gone internet. (Although, I really wanted to). I thought it might be helpful to "share" and "get my worries out," but we decided it would be best for me not to mention on the blog that Noah and I were home alone. I'm SURE this is way way overcautious, but it's just a bit of "blogging safety."  

So this trip to China was his longest and furthest-away business trip ever, and before-hand the thought of everything was really throwing me for a loop! 

It's not like Jon never travels, in fact, he travels often! "Single parenting" and holding down the fort when Jon is on a trip is old-hat for me. It started when Noah was just six weeks old. Jon has taken 47 trips to Las Vegas alone in the past ten years! (Lots of trade shows held there.)  And, that's just Las Vegas. He gets to visit New York and San Francisco and all kinds of places all over the country. Next month there might be TWO San Francisco trips! 

The point is, while I don't like it when Jon isn't home, things are usually OK.  It's exhausting and twice the amount of work (I don't sleep well when he's not here and I'm in-charge of getting everything done), but it's OK. 

The China had me flipping out in the weeks leading up to it. Poor Jon, like he needed all of my worries. But I just couldn't help it. For one thing, China is REALLY far away. It's around the WORLD! So, that in of itself was unsettling for me, to be separated by that kind of distance. Then, the nine days, that feels long! For quite a while, Jon would take one or two seven day trips each year, and I was always exhausted and beat by day seven. It kind of felt like my max. 

Actually, this is funny,  here's what I posted on my personal Facebook page around day seven.....: " Dear everybody, I'm at school. WHERE IS EVERYBODY !!!??? Oh yeah, they get out at 3:20, not 2:20. You know you're tired when........"

Oops!!!  That's what lack of sleep can do to you after a week.  FOR HOW MANY YEARS have I been picking him up at 3:20? Lol. I must have been really tired that day. 

But then there were other things with this trip that worried me, like the time difference. Twelve hours. I worried about whether we'd ever get to talk. (I couldn't call him if Noah wouldn't go to sleep or if something was wrong with the fridge, or if I had a banking question or if I was anxious about something). I worried if his phone would work, and HOW I'd even call it!  I worried that his jam-packed schedule, plus the twelve hour time difference, plus the wonky phone situation would mean we would hardly be in contact! And, not to mention the two travel days when he'd be on a plane and I absolutely could not contact him. It was a bundle of communicational anxiety.

But even worse, I just worried about Jon's safety. EVEN THOUGH, knock on wood, air travel is relatively safe, the thought of my husband flying far far away had me unnerved. And to make matters worse, this crazy whirlwind trip was like that movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." Once he got to China, he was traveling all over within the country on airplanes, trains and automobiles!

I worried that the safety standards weren't as high for domestic air travel in China. (I turned out to be way wrong)! I worried about him riding the trains. I worried about the three-hour car trips on what I've heard are wild west style mega-highways. (Turns out those weren't as scary as I thought either).
But the thing is, you never KNOW that things are actually ok, until you find out for yourself! I'd heard stories about the airlines and the highways, but they were just that, stories

So in the weeks leading up to this trip, my anxiety and my "what if" thinking became worse and worse. And in the days leading up to the trip, like a totally annoying person I imagine, I would just spontaneously cry. I was really upset. I resented the fact that he had to go, that he had to travel.

I know it's not fair of me at all. Jon provides such a nice life for Noah and I, and he deserves to have a fulfilling career, without blubbering me! So, I tried to temper my emotions in front of him, but it wasn't easy because I was just so sacred.

A big part of this was that the China trip really forced me to stop and see that I am totally dependent on Jon in so many ways. It is NOT GOOD that I rely on him not only for our livelihood, but for all of the details and nitty-gritty, like getting the mortgage bill paid and the mini-pool's filter running, and the lawn tidy and the furnace/humidifier combo going.  I am completely dependent on ANOTHER human being, and that's not good. It made me feel ashamed, stupid and vulnerable.

Before he left, Jon sat down and typed out a big packet of papers with all of the information that I would ever need about anything..... house, cars, accounts, passwords, bills, etc etc etc......
We sat down and went over everything! 

So to cut to the chase, Jon was very sweet and thoughtful and sat down with me and we talked about it all. Then we went outside and he taught me how to turn on and off the filter to the world's most annoying hole in the ground, the mini-pool. Which, mind you, is like a ten-step process that involves sticking your hands in not one, but two watery, nasty baskets that collect slimy leaves and pine needles and bugs. Yuck!

That night we sat in Noah's room before bed time and all gave a hug. Our little family. I couldn't push the "what if" thoughts completely out of my mind: "What if something goes wrong? What if this is the last time we're all together?" What if....what...if.  I hated myself for even having these thoughts, but I couldn't help it. And then I also couldn't sleep. 

The next morning came for Jon to leave. We were up at 4:00 am. I did my best to keep my cool, and I did, for the most part. I knew that I needed to focus my energy on getting through the next nine days, one positive step at a time. I also wanted to show Jon that I was excited for him, which I was! This trip was an AMAZING opportunity to see the WORLD! So I was glad for him.

We all said our "goodbyes," I shed very minimal tears, and Noah and I waved from the window as Jon's taillights faded into the darkness. 

I had many a worry during those nine days, for Jon to have safe travels, but really, one thing that I learned, is sometimes you just have to say a little prayer and then just let go.

I came to that conclusion late one night, during Jon's first flight within China. He was flying from Shanghai to Guangzhou in the south. We had a short call before his flight. I was very worried. We hung up. There was nothing more. I felt enormously how far away he was and that he was doing something neither of us had ever done before. And then I just let go. I had to. 

The next morning when we talked, he already had a day behind him in Gaungzhou, and Jon was raving about what a FANTASTIC airline he had taken. That the planes were new and pristinely clean, and everyone was so nice, and how the food was wonderful. They even served him.....those little cups of orange juice with the foil lids!!!! Remember those!!!?? So great right!? :)

So yeah, it taught me to just let it all go, and for the most part, I did. Poor Jon was driven around all week and had to schlep around the world in first and business class, and was wined and dined on fine food each night, but I just had to stop worrying so much about the poor guy. ;)

And on our side of the world, Noah and I were FINE. Apart from bashing my knuckles when a lever on the pool filter gave way, burning my face with a curling iron that slipped out of my hand, and spattering myself in boiling butter, everything went great! Thankfully, everything was A-OK!

Noah went to sleep on the first try for the most part, we were up and out of the house by 8:00 am each day without a hitch. I became a trash-taking out pro and a pool filter problem-shooting expert. I even MOWED THE LAWN......TWICE! And raked and bagged the clippings. I was actually liking it!

My Dad came into town one night to visit and take us out to dinner. And my parents brought Noah up north to their cottage for two days while I stayed and babysat their cat. Our friend Roger visited us a few times, so it wasn't bad at all, and before I knew it, I had the sense that I was actually doing it! I was OK!!!!! I didn't crumble or cry. It wasn't the worst thing ever or the scariest. I was more resilient than I had realized and that felt good! :)

And so the trip came to and end when Jon pulled up in the driveway at 8:00pm on the ninth day.  I was so so proud and happy and excited for him. What an adventure! And proud of Noah for being so good, and even proud of myself too! We all did it!

And then the very next morning JON WENT TO WORK, and just like was back to normal! :)


That was a few days ago. Poor Jon really struggled to sleep the first night. The second was better, but he was still exhausted today. A lot of people say that adjusting to the time change coming home is more difficult then when you head west. Jon says this seems to be the case for him too.
I'd like to share some of his great pictures from the trip when he has them downloaded, but for now, I'll just leave you with the few pictures that I have from the past week:

I could not believe how well the whole phone thing worked out! Jon used a Chinese SIM card in his phone and he was able to text with me over wi-fi, email and call. I didn't text or call during work hours because he was so busy. I didn't want to interrupt, but he was nice enough to send me texts to say "hi" whenever he could. I got quite a few food pics like this! Doesn't it look delicious??? Jon had the most wonderful, amazing, fun time trying out the cuisine. He loved that so much, and I love that he had the chance!

Noah and I ate pretty well too. We had a nice dinner out at Toast with my Dad, and even got in one of Jon's LEAST favorites, pizza, TWICE! It was a week-long pizza party! (We took advantage of the opportunity).  I tried to cook a little too. This is an easy go-to..... matzo ball soup with noodles and fresh veggies.

The Trillium popped up again this year! I was so happy. There used to be a law making it illegal to pick them. More info HERE.

Noah and I had fun. We even made a mosaic pirate craft. I think that was my favorite part. It had adhesive jewels, so who wouldn't like it! 

I got one writing trip in at the coffee shop! I was so happy to run into my friends there too. This is when I found out that my stinky, mushroom smelling sunscreen MIGHT have been tainted with micro-fungus. GROSS!!!!

The evening that Jon came home, we drew on the driveway with chalk and excitedly waited for his arrival. It was great!

My gift was this pretty jade bangle. The only problem is, it was almost impossible to get over my hand! I think that I have fairly small size hands for an American, so women's hands in China must be tiny! These bangles are supposed to be tight though, and fit fairly close to the wrist so that they don't twist and bang into things, possibly chipping the jade. I love my new bracelet. Jade is so beautiful!

Let's see, one last pic for now.... Have you ever curled your hair with a flat iron? I LOVE using my flat iron now to curl my hair. It's fun and easy, and depending on what size hair sections that you curl and how quickly you go, you can make tight curls or beachy waves. It's great!

Just remember to use a heat protectant. So much heat isn't good for your hair, so you might not want to do this all the time. I'll post my favorite "how to" video below, and you can make the right decision for yourself.

Here I am with some flat iron curls. I was going to only post the picture on the left, but I wasn't smiling much, and my "real self" is truly more like a smiling person. Hence, the truer me on the right. The only thing is, I always feel self conscious full-out smiling because when I do, my my face gets all squished up and looks not as good in my opinion. So, I've just included both.

Ok, here is my favorite flat iron to curl your hair tutorial. It's by the wonderful Melissa Maker, who also owns one of my fav YouTube channels, Clean My Space!

Ok, until next time, I'm going to try to get some sleep!


Valerie said...

Dear Lauren,
What a sweet post. So totally honest and touching. You could be writing about me. I am so much like you, when it comes to my husband traveling anywhere...I worry so much! In fact, my hubby had to sit down with me a few years back, and write down everything in a notebook. He takes such good care of us, that I felt vulnerable...if something were to happen to him...well, I wouldn't know where to begin. I take great comfort in having that notebook tucked away, just in case. We update it once in a while. It brings me at least a little measure of peace of mind. Hugs and so glad your sweetheart got home safely and had such a great trip!
Hugs and blessings, Valerie

Lauren said...

Hi Valerie!

Thank you for your caring comment. I agree, I think we seem very alike! I'm so glad that you have such a sweet husband. I like the idea of the notebook. We'll have to make one.

Thank you again. Sending hugs!

Lori said...

I typed in young gray women in the Pinterest popped up and you're so inspirational! I mean, I's just hair color. But I've been wanting to stop coloring my hair for a few years now. I'm 31 now with two kids, 4 and 5.
It's complete vanity keeping me from it and the fact that almost ALL of my friends are either blonde or brunette. Not ONE of my friends has the graying issues I have...But most recently, my husband told me to go for it if I wanted to :-) He said, "I'm not using Just for Men and I"m going gray. You still like the way I look?"

Well yes. Yes I do. I love it. And I would NEVER want him to color his hair.

But your site just gives me SO MUCH motivation because you're young and just gorgeous with gray hair!!

The growing out process will be ROUGH. I hope I can hang in there!!! Thank you for this blog, I'll be coming back to keep the spirits up!!! :-) :-) :-)

Lauren said...

Hi Lori!!!!!!!

It's so so nice to meet you! Thank you for leaving a comment, and for sharing.

What a sweet husband! I say, since you want to go for it, and he's supporting you, why not just try it! That's the nice things about growing out your gray, as long as allergies aren't your reason for stopping with the hair dye, you can always see what you look like with gray, and if you don't like it, you can always go back to your old color!

I was surprised that my gray hair wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and the freedom from monthly coloring was SO NICE! There are definitely benefits.

I'm sorry that you're the only one of your friends with gray hair. I TOTALLY get that. Who knows though, maybe you'll start a gray hair trend, and when theirs starts coming in, they'll go for it too! :)

So much luck to you Lori. I'm here cheering you on! Hang in there!

Lauren :)

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