Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Piqued

This was our first full week of work and school since the semester began. We both had to work one night, so we weren’t home much. Carter still has a major case of fleas. I felt like the week flew by.

I planned a usual list of links, but then realized how many were of music. So here is your first all music Piqued. Let me know what you think, what you enjoy.

The band known as ∆ (alt j) has some pretty weird music – I’m digging Every Other Freckle.
Note: the video is hot, weird and not safe for work.

H has Sledgehammer on loop and shared the Dave Matthews Band version with me.

Watch Bon Iver live.

My friend Emily swears Hozier is AMAZING but it wasn’t until this song that I was like oooohhhh, I think I’m getting thisLike Real People Do.

Andrew McMahon has a new record coming out ::jumping up a down::
Fist pump to High Dive.

Also, this:
“I’ve been writing music most of my life. Songs have always been the place where I’ve sorted out the events of day. If you trace these songs back far enough they tell a story of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen along the way. Cecilia was written with the knowledge that my wife and I would soon meet our first child. With the hope of avoiding territory this type of song often treads, I tried to create a road map of the life I had lived leading up to that moment. One my daughter might look back on some day. A strange life of constant motion, spent traveling in the pursuit of music. A life I’ve nearly lost on more than one occasion and one which I am thankful for, now more than ever.” ~Andrew McMahon
Listen to Cecilia and the Satellite

To continue on the pop-punk break-your-heart music… Jimmy Eat World is MY FAVORITE BAND. They’re the only band I’ve ever been obsessed with the way other girls growing up wanted jump the Backstreet Boys. Jimmy Eat World is my band – they get me.

So there’s nothing more awesome then when I get to see them in person, which is about once a year since they’re based in AZ and are LA-darlings. They alternate between a new record tour and a 10 year anniversary tour, where they play the entirety of an old record live. I saw them at the El Rey for their CD release show for Big Casino, at Club Nokia for Clarity x10, the Wiltern for Bleed American x10 and most recently, a year ago on the 28th at the Palladium. They’ve announced they’re touring for Futures x10, which is MY FAVORITE RECORD by my favorite band – so we bought tickets to see them TWO TIMES: October 2nd in Ventura and November 2nd in Los Angeles.

I CAN NOT WAIT.

And if we’re continuing with some of my all-time-favorite artists, Ani Difranco has a new record dropping November 4th, Allergic To Water.

Last, but never least, Ryan Adams always kills it (I love Come Pick Me Up the mostest) and he just released a new self-titled record. Watch him rock out with “Gimme Something Good”

 

See all of my Piqued posts here.

The Day After

September 12th

I remember that day,
as we all do
And I remember the day after.

The sky a crystal clear blue
The air crisp but warm
the way it is with
summer in September.
The school field glistening with dew.

I’m sure I was wearing
some big knitted sweater,
the kind that you paired
with Birkenstocks
and twine bracelets
and smelled like wool.

Earthy + itchy + full of love.

I’m sure my parents went to
work that day,
though maybe my mom stayed home,
folding load after load
of laundry
in front of the endless news cycle
of a plan crashing into a
building
on a
loop.

Even though I grew up on Long Island
I didn’t understand
what or where the
“Twin Towers” were
But as we walked outside
with our science lab supplies,
off to collect samples of
dirt, or ants, or leaves
I remember smelling something else
on the wind
Like hot tar or burning rubber.

And my science teacher, in her bravery
to treat us like adults said,

“It’s the city burning.”

We were only 50 miles away
from it all.

And that is when it became real,
this weight that I carry
as a high school kid
from New York
the day after the towers fell.

Recently (September 2014)

finishing my Alaska travel journal & organizing 500+ photos from the trip

rolling with the projects I’d like to work on for myself

going to the office a lot more now that I have a temp to help with things

becoming more fit with HIIT

watching The Leftovers

reading The Giver (first time since I was 12…? Was first published 20 years ago. Undecided if I want to read the other 3 books in the series)

remembering the importance of this date

quitting complaining about work. #notworthit

thinking about growing my hair a little longer

celebrating the fact that we have ~6 weekends in a row with no major plans

loving the new perspective I have post-Alaska

eating a lot more salads, and less food in general

dreaming of owning my own business

wearing dresses and gym clothes – the heat is getting to me

missing Autumn like woah – sweaters, darker days, crisp air and changing seasons

listening to a bunch of Paperclipping Roundtable episodes in a row (loved ep 216), Elise’s podcast & random Spotify playlists

planning our finances, sort of

working on embracing my inner hippy – full moon, tarot cards & spirit animals

trying to spend less money

wishing for clothing in mustard yellow & peacock teal… and cooler temperatures

feeling a bit more self-assured

obsessed with battling the flea problem – they must die!

Fire Crags & Tri-Tip

During the wedding weekend, we had all Saturday free. H thought it would be cool to meet his colleague B for a climb in Santa Barbara. B suggested Fire Crags on Painted Cave road off Highway 154. We looked it up online and gave a thumbs up via text. Our plans were set.

We arrived around 9:30am with the sun was already blazing, flies buzzing around our ears. We parked the two cars in a pull off on Painted Cave road and got out to look for the trail. We couldn’t find it at first and thought maybe it was further back down the road. Back into the car, and rolling slowing down the steep road, we looked for a possible “hairpin turn with a pull-out on the left”.

We saw another dirt spot and parked again. H and B headed down what looked like a trail going west to see if they could find the actual rock wall.

After about 5 min of hiking, they came to a crag with a view, and bolts in the face. This was the spot we were hoping for. I could see them off in the distance from where I waited near the road (in the shade, shaking my hair to deter the flies). They came back out, we parked both cars, and started unpacking the gear to carry back down the trail.

The trail was pretty clear, if narrow, and we made it back to the crag in good time. The trail leads to the top of the routes and then you hike down a bit more to drop your stuff and climb. You can set some of the routes from the top, no lead climbing needed.

B set the ropes, explaining his plans to H. Recently, H bought us a rope, so we’re starting to learn how to set up our own top-rope climbs. But this is nothing to mess around with – it’ll take time and practice to learn and stay safe.

Luckily, the rock face blocked the sun. We climbed for over 2 hrs before the shade disappeared. It was a gorgeous, hot day to be out in the woods climbing rock.

The climbs were challenging, especially for me. The sandstone wasn’t as sticky as other rock I’ve climbed. The height of the route wasn’t too bad – all of them are pretty short (maybe 50 feet or less). But the view out towards the ocean was disorienting. It made me feel like I was up much higher than I actually was.

The heat + lack of sleep + poor nutrition (aka not enough food / water and drinking the night before) pretty much ruined my endurance. It took me a long while to get up the first route, which was the easiest to climb for the day. At the top I was shaking so badly, either from exhaustion or adrenaline (from the perceived height) that I couldn’t walk backwards off the ledge to come back down. It took me a few minutes to be calm myself enough to be lowered.

H had a better time of the routes, though he also felt pretty exhausted. With more experience B was able to climb the routes with minimal struggle.

I did pull a cool move on one route, trying to get up and out of a “cave”. I ended up working this problem for a bit, trying different combinations of hand-holds and foot positions. This was super fun, and the most I’ve worked a route in an outdoor setting.

Climbing is a physical sport, but I love the mental challenge of it – being on a route and not knowing where your next move is going to be. In the gym I tend to climb routes I understand before I’m even on them, but when you’re outside, you don’t know until you’re up there.

Two days before, we climbed Point Dume, and we were pretty spoiled to climb outside 2x in one week.

Being out in the woods, working my body and sweating in the sun, is such an amazing break from the day-to-day drama of work and household crap. Even though we were exhausted afterwards, it was so worth going.

We topped the afternoon off with trip-tip sandwiches at the iconic Cold Spring Tavern, just down the road from Fire Crags. Talk about a time warp. Established in 1865 during the stagecoach era, the property has a few buildings, all of which look like they’ve never been renovated. There was no a/c in the bar, where we ordered from a few of the beers on tap, and received a ticket for the trip-tip, which we then took to a BBQ outside. It’s popular in the central coast to have salsa on your tri-tip – this is the Santa Maria-style BBQ.

We ate our sandwiches in the shade, at a picnic table, with cold beer in plastic cups, and a blues band of 50-something year old men playing out front. Motorcycles lined the dirt parking area and kids ran around parents eating at their own tables.

It felt like a mini-vacation and the perfect way to break up the more social, busy parts of the wedding weekend. H drove us back down Hwy 154, and we switched drivers at the 101 north on-ramp. He slept while I drove us back up to Santa Margarita, listening to the college radio station play The Weepies and Joan Baez.

Wedding Weekend

 

 

 

 

 

Over Labor Day weekend, we traveled up to the central coast for our dear friends’ wedding weekend. Obviously, weddings celebrate love, family and commitment, but those values were at the absolute forefront for this couple’s special day.

There were mason jars and lemonade and burlap and lace. There was dancing and photoboothing and drinking. There were math jokes and a custom corn hole and lawn jenga. There was the hot sun and the cool night. There were serious vows and funny speeches. There were details, details, details. The bride put so much work into everything – while staying gorgeous and graceful. The groom was smitten and so proud. Both were laughing and crying the entire weekend.

And at one point during the dancing, H and our friend mimed picking something off the ground, moving to opposite ends of the dance floor and began swinging their arms in rhythm as if they had double-dutch jump ropes. Immediately people caught on and we had a double-dutch dance off. I know.

It was freakin’ awesome.

The rehearsal was Friday morning, so H and I left LA at 6:30am to make it to there by 10am. We were 15min late, but otherwise all went well.

After the rehearsal, the bridal party & family went to Apple Farm restaurant where we all hung out eating, talking and spending time together. Unfortunately, I had a sinus infection, so my ear was clogged and the sinus pressure was tough, but it just meant I was readily able to cry along with everyone else’s happy tears haha.

During lunch, both the bride & groom made speeches about each member of their bridal party. Since H was in the wedding, our friend said a little something about him. He said H makes him a better teacher, that they share a sense of humor other people don’t understand, and that H is truly one of “our people”. It was so touching. I was so proud to call the groom a friend and H my husband.

After the cake was cut, the toasts were made and we sent the bride and groom off in their limo, we all helped pack stuff up from the venue and reconvened at the guest house on the property. We had 13 people staying in the house and many other guests came to hang out afterwards.

I wasn’t too thrilled with a house full of drunk people, but I rallied by making everyone frozen pizza and downing as much water as possible. Somehow everyone left and H and I found ourselves invited to lay outside in the dark to watch the stars.

We joined two of our friends and two bridesmaids and headed out across the field where the venue parks cars, all the way back to the grassy side of the property. There we put down a blanket and all laid in a cross-section pattern of heads to shoulders, a star-shape of feet sticking out from the center where our heads lay.

The sky was crisp and clear with the most saturated smattering of stars I’ve seen in a long while. (I think the only sky to rival it was the night we slept over in the Grand Canyon). We could see the Milky Way, a few planets and so many stars the constellations were difficult to pick out.

We all hoped to see a shooting star and we ended up seeing a bunch – at one point most of us caught a huge one streaking across the sky, right above our heads. We all shouted with amazement. All of us, some type of tipsy from the wedding, tired from the weekend’s events, chilly from the desert air, huddled together and laughing – it felt like the best night of summer camp all over again.

And it was magic.

Point Dume Climbing

People throw around things like #sograteful and there is a Thank You chain-letter of postings going around on Facebook (of which my friend Steve’s are actually amazing to read). And I know it’s hard to be happy when you’re in a bad spot – arguments with a boyfriend, a manager who isn’t very nice, not being able to pay your bills. Whatever.

But I’ve found that each day, life presents us with tiny opportunities to actually live.

Rock climbing is something I thought I wanted to do, but it wasn’t until H signed us up at a class 6 months ago that I actually tried it. So it’s kind of mind-blowing to me that last week we climbed Point Dume, an ocean-side cliff.

I mean, come on.

Of course it wasn’t perfect. Traffic was stupid getting there. The wind was whipping sand in our faces, piling in our stuff and our ears. The setting sun was blinding on some parts of the route. The wind made it impossible to hear each other. The waves were raging due to a storm surge. And the view + wind made the whole climb much scarier than it should’ve felt.

At one point, I was singing to myself, to focus my mind on the next move right in front of me. (If you start looking at an entire route, it can get pretty daunting.)

But I would be an idiot if I didn’t say this was one of the best freakin’ ways to spend an afternoon.

As we packed up to drive home (to pack up and travel to a wedding weekend), I told H and his friend we were climbing with – that we are some lucky human beings to be outside on a Thursday night, at the ocean, climbing rocks. You just can’t beat that.

So if you don’t mind, I think this is an entirely appropriate time to write #blessed.

TGIF xo

Animal Spirits

This weekend we were in Santa Margarita for our friends’ wedding (more on that later) and I kept encountering animals.

There were deer on the property. They came into the yard of the house we were staying in, nibbling on grasses, their tails and lips and ears twitching.

I went for a run with another girl staying in the house and we had a group of horses come right out of the field they were grazing in and trot over to us. They came within arms reach and stood there, their muscular bodies taunt but calm, watching us with liquid eyes.

Later on the run, a silhouette of a dog popped up on the horizon. I thought it was a coyote at first, but as it started to run directly towards us, I realized it was a cattle dog. He ran big, looping circles up a hill and back to us, where he joined two girls on horseback and followed them off down the path.

We saw a male deer, antlers flashing in the sun, running through a field of tall grass.

That afternoon, I visited Autry Cellars and while we were chatting with Steve Autry (the owner), his tasting room guy came in and pulled Steve to the front room. A falcon had landed on the deck outside and was perched there, not moving.

There was a very large picture window between all of the people in the tasting room and the falcon on his ledge outside.

Mr. Autry said this was unusual behavior for this type of bird. He sees falcons flying low over the outskirts of the property, but never landing on the main building, especially this close to people. He also pointed out that the bird didn’t have a tag.

Two different times the bird lifted his wings, caught the wind and let it carry him towards the window – testing the pane, knocking into it to see if it was really there. After the second time, he flew away, around the side of the building. Mr. Autry said the bird was outside on another spot, closer to the building than he’d ever seen them before.

When I look up falcons as animal totems, I read this:

When a falcon flies into your life: You are being asked to be vigilant. An opportunity for big positive changes in your life is close at hand and it will require good planning and strategy as well as action on your part. You are reminded that you have all the tools and knowledge to take advantage of this opportunity and that your success depends on your quick reactions. Stay focused and grateful for all that is coming your way. Know that you have the ability to soar high and see things with greater vision!

This could not be more perfect for how I’m feeling since returning from Alaska. It’s as if, all of a sudden, my life is shifting – moving from one level to another – that I am growing or have grown in ways I didn’t realize until this very weekend.

To add to this layer of knowing I have all the tools and knowledge I need to move forward, I read that falcons and hawks serve the same symbolic purpose.

Ever since feathers became a symbol for me, I’ve wished for a hawk feather. In true intuitive fashion, I have no idea what a hawk feather actually looks like, but I thought surely one different enough from the black crow and white seagull feathers in my collection.

Amazingly, hawks represent both focus / day-to-day and big picture / higher-level perspective. Which is exactly where my strengths align for my INFJ Meyers-Briggs type.

A specific way the hawk guidance works is to use a high level and yet clear and focused vision to guide your action. Hawk Spirit Animal

Adding to that, I feel many women in the blogging community who identify as INFJs also see their spirit animal as a wolf. While wolves are incredible animals, I wasn’t feeling them for me. But falcons…

If falcons are your animal totem: You are independent and need to have alone time in order to be happy. You have a sharp mind and are very agile. You know how to mentally work out problems and are always three steps ahead of your peers and workmates. You have the patience to wait in order to get the most out of any opportunity that comes your way. You have impeccable timing and know exactly when to strike for the greatest benefit to yourself.

It seems that I’ve been secretly wishing for hawks / falcons this entire time.

And after that falcon knocked into that window trying to get our attention, I just knew he was there for me.

The Value Of Mornings

Since returning from Alaska / back-to-school time, I’ve been getting up early with H. His alarm goes off at 5:40am and by 6am I’m downstairs in the kitchen feeding Carter his cup of food.

I’ve switched up my morning routine because of the heat. Usually I wake, write morning pages, feed the dog, run with him, eat/shower/dress and leave for work. But that means I could be out for a run as late as 8am and it’s just too damn hot for that right now.

Exercise is a priority, both for Carter (an exercised dog is a tired, won’t-chew-your-shoes dog) and me. That runner’s high keeps me going all day, unties stiff muscles and generally makes me a happier person. But running in the heat is bad for both of us.

So this is our routine for now: wake, feed dog / drink water, go for a run, write, get ready.

Unfortunately, most days writing gets lost, but I’m working on that.

I had this thought since getting back into the work groove – why do I feel obligated to do the work of my job outside job hours, when I never allow myself to do my personal work during job hours?

Hhmmm.

I have so much flexibility in my time and energy that it can become overwhelming – too many options, not enough parameters. But I heard Heidi’s voice in my head saying that this conundrum probably had something to do with value – valuing my time, creativity and personal work.

I’ve been actively putting my personal work at the forefront of my free time and not allowing my salaried job to spill outside of office hours. More so, I’m accepting that this is exactly what happens, and that I need to make conscious choices about what is important to me and what I want to get done with my time.

So, I’m running with the dog before the heat flares up. I’m blogging this before breakfast. I’m tying up email loose-ends and signing off for the night. I’m jotting down a poem instead of checking social media. I’m going for a run without music or a podcast.

My mornings are mine – and it’s important I use them for me. It sets a habit for the rest of the day and it refills my well. Valuing my time, and what I want to do with it, is a new practice for me – even though it’s something I’ve written about before – it seems like one of those lessons I’m meant to learn over and over again.

And it seems that right now, mornings are an opportunity for my daily practice.

 

Piqued

It was back from Alaska and back-to-school around here this week. Carter was the most disappointed, since H and I were both busy and not at home as much (see his moping above). We have a pretty quiet weekend ahead of us. I am hoping to work on my travel journal and write a few more stories from our trip. We have lunch with friends and need to catch up on some sleep too.

Alaska seemed to shift things inside me, and it has me thinking about storytelling and prioritizing my creative craft. This post on Design For Mankind got me thinking:

I think about this all the time, about the kind of picture I’m carving. Is it worth it? Is it profound enough to exist in my mountain for future generations to view and question and fill in the blanks about the kind of people we were? – Blogging, Now

“Again and again, your brain will be an asshole naysayer.” Yes, this from The Brand Camp blog. And she links to a Good Life Project interview with Seth Godin, which I will be watching while I eat my own drippy eggs and toast.

After reading this Medium post, I’m seriously considering quitting the Facebook “Like” button.

This grateful, and snarky, tour of a kitchen was pretty spot on:

In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes – I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. I am free. I am not bound to spend my precious days on Earth trying to keep up with the Joneses- because the Joneses are really just a bunch of folks in conference rooms changing “trends” rapidly to create fake monthly emergencies for us. OH NO! NOW IT’S A SUBWAY TILE BACKSPLASH WE NEED!  No, thank you. Life offers plenty of REAL emergencies to handle, thank you very much.

My friend Steve has a Thank You practice, and I am thoroughly enjoying his posts. So, thank you to him for sharing his thank yous.

And after being mostly off-the-grid for the 11 days of vacation, I am continuing that with keeping my phone on “do not disturb” and staying off social media this week. Will let you know how that ends up feeling.

Enjoy your weekending peeps xo

—-

Looking for more to read? Here’s the full list of Piqued posts.

Summer Nights, School Days

Evening roller-blade

Walking at 5am

Math I don’t understand

My view most nights this week

Besides it being post-vacation-blues week, it’s also back to school.

H started his 7th year of teaching. Each year I hope he’ll hit the easy groove that experienced teachers do, and then some huge opportunity/challenge presents itself. Two years ago it was a masters program. Last year it was being department chair, a masters program and 4 different classes. This year, masters program completed, it’s department chair and multivariable calculus, which happens to be the hardest class they teach.

Which he is reviewing every night, all night, after working a 12 hour day.

Which means that it’s just me and the Carter-man for long stretches of time.

I’ve learned that the shift from summer break, having H home all of the time, helping around the house and generally being there for me, to the first week of school, arguably one of the most stressful times of the year, can suck. I love my alone time, but having him around all day, everyday and then not at all puts a strain on our relationship.

Or, should I say, a strain on how I feel about our relationship.

Because in reality, we’re the same as we were last week (well, not entirely the same since last week was still Alaska). I’m just going about my day assuming it’ll be one way and it’s another, totally different yet OK, way…

Luckily, I’ve noticed this pattern, and I let things slide to compensate. So, dishes won’t get put away quickly or he won’t remember to do something (because he hasn’t had a moment to himself) or I have to take the dog on all 3 walks for the day. It’s not easy, but it’s not awful either.

It’s just life.

—–

Yesterday I was up at 5am to be on a 6hr video conference call. Apsht. Somehow I survived, and the early start time meant an early leave time.

Feeling completely burnt from the meeting, I settled on yoga, made green juice, and took the dog to the park to run around a very dry, very hot baseball field. I straightened up and vacuumed. I ate turkey chili cold from the Tupperware. I perused Instagram, cleaned up DropBox and worked on a small project taking photos of our possessions in case we ever have an insurance issue. I cooked zucchini and heated up left-over pizza. I went out with Carter again, this time on roller-blades.

I wrote this sitting across from H as he went through calc problems and muttered things like “oh shit, I found the area instead of the arc length” which may as well be German to me.

We kept the front door propped open so a breeze came through the apartment while it went from twilight to pitch dark outside in what seemed like an instant.

I couldn’t fall asleep the other night and stayed up past 1am.

Carter mopes around looking for H, patiently waiting for him to finish his work so they can play.

It’s a transient time of summer nights, school days, 5am alarms, evenings solo even though H is home, and hot weather. The last of it seems to throw me off the most. Autumn feels like the natural signal for us all to hunker down, do our work, spend more time indoors. We don’t get that here in Southern California, the season or the natural transition.

I miss it.

 

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