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Being an Expert Gets Me Every Time

Are you an expert? Of what? At what? On whom? How did you become an expert?

Merriam-Webster defines an expert as “a person who has special skill or knowledge relating to a particular subject.”

When you google, “How do you become an expert?” the search results are mostly sites about entrepreneurship, recruiting, business and psychology. All have great ways to become an expert. Most are about studying a person or subject or practicing a subject. That’s how they say you become an expert.

In those regards, I’d like to think I’m an expert on dancing. And writing. And cats. Definitely cats. (probably not cats, I’m no veterinarian.)

But I’ve recently discovered there’s one more way to become an expert—live through it. It’s like a story of survival. If you survive an avalanche, you, in my book anyway, are an expert on how to survive an avalanche. It might not be the expertise you want, but it’s an expertise you now have.

So now that you’re an expert, what do you do with your expertise? You can do nothing. Tell no one. Be a guy who survived an avalanche and go on with your life. Let go of your avalanche story and not let your avalanche story define you. You can keep it close, tell people you know who might encounter an avalanche someday how they could survive said avalanche.

Or maybe you don’t think you’re an avalanche-surviving-expert. You’ve only survived it once. And barely. And you don’t know if you could do it again. Or what caused the avalanche. Or how you really survived. You just know you did.

Or you can take your avalanche experience and share what you do know. What it taught you about avalanches and mountains and snow and breathing and surviving and living and what comes next. You can embrace your expertise.

This year I’ve gained some expertise that I expected. I’ve also gained some that I never dreamt of. Never hoped for. Never wished for. Would never want for anyone. But things happen. And I’m learning that it’s harder to not tell anyone about any of it than it is to start from the beginning.

What I’m learning is that when you experience something, no matter how good or bad or fulfilling or dreadful, the greatest gift you can give is to share your newfound expertise with others. All you can do is hope that, if it is something that’s frightening or dreadful, those you share this expert advice with never, ever have to experience any of it. Because, as humans, how can we hope for anything but the best for other humans?

While I hope no one reading this becomes an expert on the things I have learned this year, I do want share what I know and what I wished I had known.

I’ve started to share my story here, here and here. And, when the time is right, I hope to be able to share more of my new, unwanted expertise with the world.

How the Worst Can Be The Best Gets Me Every Time

I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently. It’s nice to be so easily transported to someplace else these days. To not think about what’s happening in my life, but in the lives of characters instead. I’m in the middle of reading The Collected Short Stories of Amy Hempel, and I just love her keep-you-guessing style of writing. And since I’m reading short stories, I never have to get too invested in any one story. Perfection.

This post is about one of the short stories that really spoke to me called “The Man In Bogota.” It’s only about 3 pages long and I’m not going to spoil it for you (ok, maybe I will), but here’s the long and short of it. A woman tells a story about an old man in Bogota who was kidnapped. His kidnappers had to keep this out-of-shape, aging man alive in order to get their ransom. So he went on a diet and exercised—all at the hand of his captors.

Years later, his ransom was paid. The man was free. What was probably one of the worst things in his life was over. That should be relief enough. What’s better? He went to the doctor who said he’d never been in better shape. Any health problems he’d had were gone. His kidnappers inadvertently saved his life.

This most awful thing in this man’s life turned into something with a great outcome.

The worst, flipped on it’s head. It became the best. From last to first.

In this story it took years. But it happened.

We’re never quite sure why things happen. Me? I like to think they happen for a reason. I know they do. And right now, I’m learning to be OK with having to wait to see why they happened the way they did.

Top 5 Dream Jobs Get Me Every Time

The other night, I shared a photo of an old college notebook. It was an “idea book” for a class that we got graded on… not on the quality of the ideas necessarily, but on the quantity of ideas. But this post isn’t about showing off my ability to get an “A” on filling a notebook with ideas.

One thing I found in the notebook was a list, “Top 5 Dream Jobs.” This must have been a notebook from a when I was going through my John Cusack phase, watching High Fidelity in chunks in between classes and studying and partying. If you’re not familiar with the story, there are myriads of “Top 5” lists covered, the most pivotal one being “Top 5 Dream Jobs.”

Now, it’s probably not a coincidence that I just happened to finish reading the book of the same name last week. I’d been thinking about my current Top 5 Dream Jobs because of reading the book and then I got go into my past and see my former Top 5 Dream Jobs. The former top 5 looked like this:

  1. Creative Director
  2. Dance Studio Owner
  3. Typographer
  4. Screen Writer
  5. Broadway Star

Let’s skip straight to the second half of this list. Typographer? Broadway Star? I think they are definitely off the list now, some 8 years later. And screen writer, not so much. But some type of writer will always be in the Top 5 list.

So I guess that’s it. I seem to be living some version of one the Top 5 Dream Jobs I had in college.

I’ve been thinking about my new Top 5 Dream Jobs List, but I’m happy to know that I’m living out some part of my dreams. In making my new list, I think I might include some fun, never-gonna-happen-type-of-job like archeologist (Indiana Jones style),

Now it’s your turn. Top 5 Dream Jobs. There, in the comments. Do it.

What Home Means Gets Me Every Time

Skyline_BostonGMETWhat does home mean to you? When I count my blessings (which I do, at least every night) I always include both my house and my home. Some times, these terms are used interchangeably, but in my world, they are two distinct things.

They’re not even places, both of them.

A house is a place, sure. But for me, a home is a feeling, a state of being.

A house has walls and rooms and doors. A home has people and events and memories.

A house needs upkeep. A home is almost perfect any which way it is.

A house stays where it is. A home can follow you everywhere and can be anywhere.

HerculesSnowStorm

For so long I feel as though my idea of house and home has been distorted. While at college “home” was a term I used to refer to going back to the place where my parents lived. (Or the place I needed to be taken after a long night, let’s be real.) When we bought a house, “home” was something I decided I suddenly had one of my own.

But really, “home” is something you can always have, no matter if there’s a physical structure with it or not. Maybe it’s about the people.

Home Card from RedBubble

via

There’s that saying, “Home is wherever I’m with you” that’s been popping up a lot the past few years, especially on sites like Etsy. You can see how that’s true, especially if there’s a person (or persons) in your life whom you couldn’t imagine being without.

On the flip side, “House is wherever I’m with you.” Nope. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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For me, the best thing about “home” is that you can actually get away with having more than just one—and it’s way more affordable than having more than just one house.

To this day, we all probably say “back home” in reference to where we spent our formative years. We may call our parents’ houses “home” or our grandparents’ houses “home.”

Or we can call “home” the place where our physical dwelling place resides, (as the song goes, Boston, you’re my home.) We can refer to home as those special people in our lives. And we can say that there’s no place like it.

There’s a book, You Can’t Go Home Again, with a title that’s now a popular phrase in our everyday vernacular warning people you cannot return to an idyllic world you came from after you’ve left it.

Bon Jovi even wrote a song about it, but really, don’t click if you don’t want it stuck in your head.

But there’s also a popular story of a lost son returning home that says you can always go home again.

I think, and feel free to disagree, that if you have a memory, you can always, always, always go home. Places are temporary. People don’t last forever. But your thoughts and feelings about “home” can transport you there any time.

Thinking of Autumn Gets Me Every Time

Changing Seasons | GetsMeEveryTime.com

This year, the changing of seasons are really hitting me hard. Here in Boston, it’s in the high 70s one day and all 50s, all the time, the week after. I’m all like, “woah, what? no transition?” But I’m OK. Bring it on, fall.

The temperature change has less to do with fall’s effect on me. I’m actually enjoying piling on the layers. It’s become my physical armor. To protect me from the cold. To hide the grief and joy and all the emotions which I am working through.

Frost warnings aside, the actions of fall seem to be what getting to me. It’s fall’s trees shedding their leaves. It’s fall’s acorns being carried away for storing. It’s fall’s grass fading to some shade in between green and brown. It’s tough. Knowing that fall leads to a seasonal death of life as we know it. No more bluebirds in the birdbath. No more chipmunks chasing each other through the backyard.

Simultaneously though, I am finding hope in these passings. I know that the upcoming dormancy of winter must happen for life to spring forth in just a few short months. It’s a reminder that nothing is forever. That it’s a cycle. Life is a cycle. It’s not just one journey, but a series of journeys that take us places and bring us right back, still the same, but somehow changed.

Talking To A Pregnant Lady Gets Me Every Time

BabyShowersGMET
I work in a big office. With lots of people. Great people. From all different backgrounds. At all different stages of life. Over the past 6 months or so, many of my social conversations at work have been about baby McAuley. And the things I’ve heard have been sweet, surprising and sometimes confusing. So, ladies & gents, here’s my primer on things you should and shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman. Opinions are all my own.

BabyShowersGMET2Keep Talking:
– When are you due? I know you’re going to keep asking until you don’t see me anymore. So just keep asking. It’s fine.
– Do you know what you’re having? (Well, yes a baby.) Guess boy or girl if you wish… Or not. Either way.
– You look so good. Thank you. Let’s leave it at that.
– How are you feeling? I’m glad you care, but I’m probably going to lie to you. Honestly, I feel fat and tired. But I am happy to tell you I’m doing great.
– Are you having any cravings? Some women do. Some don’t. Don’t be disgusted or disappointed.

Shut Your Face:
– Oh, you’re still here. Yes, I’m going to work until I can’t anymore. Deal with it.
– Every time I see you, you get bigger. Well, kids, that’s how it works.
– Was it planned?/Were you trying? It’s none of your business and really, why do you care?
– You really popped! Again, that’s how it works.
– You look like you’re about to pop! A balloon pops. Zits pop. What I’m about to do might be a little more involved.
– Can I touch your belly? Wait, can I touch yours?
– You look so big. Never.
– You look so small. It might seem like a compliment, but really, no one who has just gained 20 pounds or so in six months feels “small.” Besides, every body and baby is different.

Fellow moms or moms-to-be, did I leave anything out?

A Bumpdate Gets Me Every Time

BumpdateSeptember_GMETI’m sure you’ve been eagerly anticipating another baby update, some bump pictures and all that jazz. Well, here it is. I’m growing, Baby GMET is growing and the due date is inching closer and closer. We are in “the red zone” so to speak as anything can happen after week 37. The bags are packed, mostly. The freezer is stocked, for now. And the baby’s room is ready-ish. We feel as prepared as one possibly could for such a life-changing event, I think.

As far as the medical side of things goes, we don’t have any new news to report. We’ve been going for weekly visits since about 30 weeks just to monitor everything. They’re pleased with the baby’s growth, heart rate and activity at this point. We’re still sitting in a pool of uncertainty, so I’ll ask again for any positive thoughts and/or prayers you want to send our way.

Right now, we just can’t wait to meet our little nugget. However, in my mind, baby GMET is staying put for a while longer, but it’s not really up to me, amiright? So, until that time comes, we’ll take all predictions in the comments. Boy or girl? Birthdate? Size? Prizes for all the winners are an overflow of baby pictures in all forms of social media.

 

A Baby Story Gets Me Every Time

MyBump“Your baby’s not normal.”

It’s not exactly the words that first-time expectant parents want to hear at 8am on a Tuesday morning during what should have been just a routine ultrasound. But that’s what the radiologist said with no more bedside manner than that of a butcher.

It’s been 141 days since I heard those words and they still ring shrilly in my ears. Here’s the short version of our story.

At our first appointment (9ish weeks) where they listen for the baby’s heartbeat, it wasn’t heard, but there was no need to panic. We were to go for an ultrasound the next day where they would just confirm viability. And we weren’t worried. There could be a million reasons why the heartbeat wasn’t picked up.

The next morning, the heartbeat was there! But the radiologist also told us about something else that was there—a fluid buildup on our baby’s neck.

Initially there were a lot of questions, tears and prayers. Let’s also put out there that Dr. Google is no longer covered by our insurance. (That’s also why there are no links in this post… don’t go searching. Just don’t.)

What the ultrasound showed was a septated cystic hygroma. It’s a pocket of fluid on the back of the baby’s neck that can sometimes be life-threatening in utero. We are fortunate ours was not fatal. It’s also extremely rare. We’re talking 1% (or less) of pregnancies. That’s like a 1 in 6,000 chance or something. So, unless you know more than 6,000 pregnant women, it’s not surprising that you haven’t heard of it.

There can be many causes of cystic hygromas, about 50% of the time they appear because of chromosomal disorders. We did some initial blood work (10 weeks) that came back negative for some common disorders. We chose not to do any further DNA testing (14 weeks) because it would not affect the management of our pregnancy. (Even if we found out about a certain disorder, there’s not much we can actively do, except worry, until the baby arrives.) We have continued with regular ultrasounds and we had an echocardiogram (20 weeks) as some cystic hygromas are associated with heart defects.

At this point we know that our baby has a bilateral SVC (20 weeks). (Everyone has a right SVC and our doctor said that as much as 20% of the population could have an extra left SVC and just not know it.) It’s not a problem on it’s own unless a person needs bypass surgery later in life.

At this point we know that the cystic hygroma has resolved or (that the nuchal translucency) is no longer larger than normal (24 weeks). We also had an MRI and a second echocardiogram done around this time that showed no further heart anomalies and what the doctor’s called a “boring*” looking brain.

At this point we know way more about fetal diagnoses and ultrasounds and echocardiograms than we ever wanted to know. (see weeks 9 – present) We still have a few more extra ultrasounds and appointments to get through, but we’re keeping a positive outlook.

And at this point (30 weeks) we know September will be here faster than we could imagine.

So readers, I’m sharing this here not because we want your sympathy, but because writing about difficult things helps me process them. Because writing this here might help some other young family that’s in a similar situation.

One thing you may not know is that I am a religious and spiritual person. And I believe that the prayers we’ve made and those made on our behalf have helped strengthen us and our baby. So thank you for the prayers thus far and if you have any more prayers or positive thoughts you want to send our way, we will certainly take them.

Sorry for all the words. But thank you for reading and being part of our family’s journey.

*Boring has never looked better.

PS… I’m not a doctor, so my stats or explanations are not exactly scientific. This is just my version of what we’ve gone through. If you are in a similar situation, please speak to a doctor or counselor.

 

A Magic Number Gets Me Every Time

Three. Three decades on earth. Three years of marriage. Three members of our family (four if you count Louise, and we do, of course.) Yes. Three.

Baby1

I guess three really will be a magic number for our little family this year, specifically, come mid- to late-September.

Baby2

And while most of my readers probably already know this news, I think there are a few of you who don’t.

Baby3

So, sorry for the lack of posts recently… we’ve been a little busy planning, prepping and praying.

Baby4

There is a lot more to this story that I need to share with you guys. But I think this is enough news for one day, Internet.

(PS… as for the questions. No, we don’t know the gender. Yes, we’ve narrowed down names. No, we won’t tell you. Yes, I’m feeling good. Yes, we’re so excited/freaked out/scared/in awe. No, you can’t touch my belly.)

Choosing What To Read Gets Me Every Time

Book with a heart made out of pages Valentina_A via Compfight

I love to read. I wish I dedicated more time to it. I like to read magazines, books, newspapers, websites and, of course, blogs. Many times, though, I struggle to keep up. My feedly account is constantly overflowing. My email inbox has subfolders of newsletters and deals and more. My Amazon book wish list is a mile long. And I constantly swipe mags from work that I end up recycling.

How do you keep up? I need to know. How do you prioritize what to read?

Here are the blogs I’m currently obsessing over, in case you were wondering:
Yes And Yes
The Every Girl
The Happiness Project
&Jess Lively’s podcast (I listen while commuting)
And, of course, internet faves, Design Sponge & Design Love Fest

Your turn. What are you reading that I should read? What blogs are on your must read list? AND, how do you prioritize it all. Tell me.