Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: homelife

Welcoming December

November was a month full of travel – leaving home for work once and fun twice.

December is home-bound all the way.

We got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Joshua Tree yesterday afternoon – driving home in the rain that visited SoCal (gosh, we need it). We spent the later afternoon reading (me) and napping (H & Carter Cash). It was a very active, fun, adventurous weekend. I plan on writing more about it this week.

This morning I welcomed in December with a quick trip to Starbucks to write out all of the swirling ToDos in my head. Getting things down on paper is not only a relief, but also gives me a solid way to keep track of the next thing I want to / need to work on.

The season of red cups, Christmas music and gift-list making is upon us. We have family visiting in T-2.5 weeks and we’re hosting everyone for Christmas, officially, for the first time this year.

After work I am going to pack up the Thanksgiving decorations and pull out the Christmas ones. The weather plus end of daylight savings time has made the evenings dark and long. I think it’s 6pm when it’s only 4pm. I think it’s time for bed around 7pm. We’re asleep most night by 9:30pm, and sleep 8hrs straight. We wake before the sunrise, moving through the dark apartment by 5:30am.

But it’s part of the season, part of the change, part of the flow. I can’t believe we’re in the last month of 2014, I’m holding on to every last bit of it as the days go by.

The photo above is for day 1 of December Reflections, hosted by Susannah Conway. I don’t plan on sharing the photos here in that exact capacity, but feel free to follow / join over on Instagram.

And lastly, a happy 50th birthday to my awesome MIL who embodies the spirit of the (Sagittarius) with her enthusiasm for life. xo

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Malibu Creek – Hike and Climb

Last week, we had Tuesday off, and decided to head out to Malibu Creek State Park to climb the Planet of the Apes wall. After taking care of the dog and eating breakfast, we headed out. The park was simple to find and we didn’t hit too much traffic.

It was overcast which made the feeling of autumn and vacation sink in even more. I’ve had the camping / hiking bug for a while now, and it was intensified by our trip to Joshua Tree a few weeks ago.

We parked, paying $20 to the envelop system because we didn’t have any change, and headed down the Crags Road trail. After about 1.5 miles we came to the Planet of the Apes wall.

Another group was setting up a few climbs, but the bolts for the easiest climb were still open. We hiked to the top of the wall, the view was awesome. H set up our top rope anchor. (You can see him in the picture above – and the tiny people near his left elbow that show how high up we were).

The climb we set up, a 5.9, ended up being tougher than I’d hoped. Even though there are huge pockets for your hands the wall comes back at you, and it takes a lot of energy just to stay on the wall and not swing off. This was a type of climb I don’t normally work on. Plus, it is filthy. There is tons of dust and dirt in the holds, so it felt like reaching around in a cellar.

We didn’t last long. H melted out before the top of the 5.9 – I made it 1/2 way. We switched ropes with the group next to us so we could try the next route over. That felt more fun, but was tough as well. Then there was already another group of people waiting to set up their ropes. H felt pressured and I agreed. We decided to pack up the climbing gear, eat lunch and continue on a hike into the canyon.

We came up and around to the rock pool, which was prettier than it was clean. There were a lot of people there, including what felt like a bus load of high school kids.

The people were were originally climbing next to at the Apes wall had also packed up and made their way to traverse the rock pool to an additional set of climbs on the other side. You can see them in the two pictures above making their way across the rock wall of the pool.

We ate lunch at a picnic table under some coniferous trees, brown needles blanketing the ground. It felt isolated, quiet and just what I needed. The overcast made climbing feel really hot, but otherwise I was wearing my jacket and long-sleeved shirt.

Sitting there at lunch, eating a random assortment of food I packed, I told H I could sit there for hours. That I wish I’d brought a book and we had more time – I wanted to just relax there for hours. But we needed to get hiking to beat the daylight and we didn’t have all night to burn.

Down the path, H slowed. H was tired and probably not as into the hike as I was. We were headed to the M.A.S.H. site – I was using that destination as a reason to get him going. I’m all for hikes for the sake of hiking, but H likes a purpose to all the walking (this is pretty much the only instance where this type of “productive” role reversal happens haha).

 

After about an hour of walking, we made it. It’s not much, but it’s cute. I hadn’t been to this site since I first moved to LA. I don’t remember being that impressed with it then either, but it does make for a “destination” on the hike.

We took a few pictures, ate some snacks at the tables and then both took an Awake energy shot. That perked H right up. He was zooming along the trail on the way back and we were chatty as we kept up this faster pace.

We talked about camping, our Thanksgiving trip plans, the future of our homelife, the idea of kids and a bit of what we’d like 2015 to hold (travel, for sure). This is the kind of quality time I really love – being outdoors by ourselves, doing something interesting with H, and a good swatch of time to enjoy.

This whole day felt perfect. I’m so glad we headed out on this little adventure. Clearly both my day off alone and this day made for a super spoiled introverted me. Yay.

Post-Travel Grounding

Back home.

Here is how I get grounded after returning from a (work) trip:

I do not schedule anything for my first full day back. Traveling is fun and exhausting. I usually need quiet, slowing down time to feel back at home. Like jumping off a merry-go-round – you hit the ground running before you can slow to a stop.

I unpack – putting things away, sorting dirty clothes and storing the suitcase (so it doesn’t live in front of my dresser, blocking drawers) really helps the travel feel done.

I return to my normal morning activities (aka rituals) – the dog and I go out for a walk or bike ride, I write morning pages, I make the bed and eat my favorite foods (H was wonderful to pick up eggs and milk so I’d have groceries to make my own breakfast my first day back at home #itsthelittlethings).

I take it slow – I don’t expect too much of myself, I don’t pressure myself to get “to dos” done, I listen to podcasts, straighten up around the apartment, and nap. Napping is important, especially if I’ve overloaded myself with information and conversations, like the return from a work trip.

I find quality time with my husband – so much of feeling untethered in our relationship for me comes from a lack of quality time. He picked me up from the airport, we slept in on Saturday, we went out to dinner Friday night. We spent time together and that makes me feel even more comforted and grounded.

I indulge – this time, I’m being even more self-indulgent and taking a 4 day weekend after traveling for work 4 days. But I’m learning more and more that my all-or-nothing personality functions well when I’ve rested enough. If I take an entire day to do what I want to do, or even more so, to do nothing productive at all, then I bounce back with tons of energy the next day. It’s a rubber-band sling-shot type of balance that seems to suit me.

How do you ground yourself after travel?

Glimpse Of My Best

Yesterday, I wrote about doing what I want. Learning to ebb and flow with my energy, demands at work and home, and general enjoyment of my days.

While last week’s emotional ups and downs were tough, writing yesterday’s post was soothing and empowering. I could see the progress, I could feel the upward sweep of energy again.

I just took the dog out for his last walk – where we say he needs to “just pee on a post”. Normally, H does this walk, but he was busy with school work so I decided I could go out again, for the third time today.

Honestly, I wanted to feel annoyed that this chore was left to me, but as I walked in the crisp air, in the pitch dark, I felt grateful – to be outside, to be in a safe neighborhood, to be in quiet, and to be with my awesome dog.

Before I sat down to write this, I pulled a tarot card (I have the Wild Unknown deck) and pulled the Queen of Pentacles.

The Queen of Pentacles may represent a mother figure in your life who can provide you with loving support and nurturing to help you get through the influences of your past. She may be a teacher, a counsellor, a mentor, or someone who you are very close to. Alternatively, she may represent a part of yourself, particularly if you are investing a lot of yourself into nurturing and caring for others and creating an established and comfortable lifestyle.

After working at the office all day, cooking dinner, taking care of the dog – it seems a fitting card. Deeper still is the importance of “you are also able to find time to invest in yourself and ensure that you have enough ‘me’ time in between all of your other commitments.”

So much of my mood swing last week seems tied to giving too much of myself. Pulling this card feels like a North Star in that whole lesson being learned – here is a symbol of the woman I want to be. Warm, practical, nurturing, generous and yet, hard-working, focused and proud of her success.

It feels as if this card solidifies much of what I wrote about yesterday. I am at my best when I have a sense of warmth, trust and security. Doing what I want, taking care of my own needs, only serves to strengthen these feelings, making me a stronger and more fulfilled person, which in turn allows me to give even more back to the world. And why else am I here if not to give my full self to my life?

Us at 12 Years

We met when we were freshman at Berklee College of Music. 3 weeks into the school year, H kissed me and that was it. Some of our friends here in LA assume we’re high school sweethearts b/c we met so young. It’s crazy to think that we met when we were 18 years old. But we did, and fell in love, and it worked, so we kept it going.

And here we are, 12 years later.

Twelve years though, seems so crazy long that it doesn’t seem right. Now I know why people said we’d switch over to celebrating our wedding anniversary. Because two years sounds manageable, normal for someone my age, but twelve just seems nuts.

As H is a math teacher, I asked him to give me some numbers. I’m not sure if the list below makes it more or less mind-boggling.

We’ve been together:
12 years
624 weeks
4,380 days
105,120 hours
6,307,200 minutes
… give or take. We did split up for ~5 months in college and so much of our early relationship was long-distance (almost 4 years).

It’s been 4 years since he proposed.

And 2 years since our wedding weekend.

We didn’t really celebrate this anniversary with anything special. We did go climbing at Stoney Point, which is appropriate, since it’s our new cool hobby we do together.

The pictures above are from when we were waiting in line for Cinespia, an outdoor movie screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (so fun).

And here’s what I see: the two of us at 30 years old, still young looking but adults, who feel like they have their shit together and are feeling pretty settled in life. But we still have dreams and plans and things we want to do, both as a couple and separately, trying to make the most of the life we’ve built. And even though we’re not pictured together, I can guarantee you, we’re still very much in love. I would venture to say even more so than ever before.

Which is the best part of it all, for us both. xo

Valuing My Life

For over a week now, I’ve been walking around gunning to create a scrapbook page.

I know – who am I?

But seriously, I don’t write about it much here, but I do randomly create project life pages. At times it can feel overwhelming to print photos & document my life, but I love the finished pages. Going back through the pages I made for the weeks of 2013 and the (very) few weeks of 2014 make me happy.

And I’ve been listening to a lot of Paperclipping Roundtable. So I assume that also has something to do with it.

Saturday we slept in as much as one can with the usual LA September heatwave. We originally planned to go to the climbing gym when it opened, but the heat + void moon had other ideas.

We decided to take Carter down to the beach path and eat breakfast at our new favorite place, Amelia’s.

When I think about scrapbooking, I usually feel overwhelmed with the decisions – which pictures to print, what sizes, what papers, what stickers, what’s the story I’m trying to tell, etc – and then I give up that idea and write a blog post or worse, do nothing.

But I really do want more creative actions in my life – and these supplies aren’t going to use themselves up – so as we went about our morning, I took a few pictures.

We got stuck in traffic on Abbot Kinney due to hundreds of motorcycles lining the street. We sang along to Jimmy Eat World on H’s phone. We parked, got the dog out of the car and walked him over to Amelia’s. We waited for a table, ordered food at the counter, and watched the parade of motorcycles go by. We ate our food and sipped our foamy drinks. After eating, we walked the dog down to the beach and out on this wooden path they put on the sand. At the very end is a bench we like to sit on b/c it allows us to be near the water and still have Carter with us on the sand.

Carter was howling away in frustration at us, restless that he wanted more exercise. We looped back up to Main Street and back to the car.

The whole little adventure took less than 3 hrs but it is the epitome of a perfect morning for me. Music, going out for breakfast, delicious chai, walking the dog, the ocean, wearing a sundress, and quality time with H. Each one of these days feels like a dream, but it’s my actual life.

And I know the whole only thing constant is change, so it felt important to me to capture this morning on a page. To print some photos, write a little story and have it as a reminder, as a reflection, of the awesome life we’re experiencing.

“We live 3 miles from one of the best beaches in the country and we have the time and freedom to enjoy it. Our little family, and my life, is pretty rad”

Making this page was a creative act, and allowing myself creative acts feels like the ultimate way to value life. Just in the way that I go for a run or take a nap because I value my energy, or say no to dramatic people because I value my sanity, creative acts are a way to value my being. To hold it in high regard. To honor what I’ve built as a creative person – my marriage, my awesome dog, my talents. Documenting is something I’ve always done, but I’m finally beginning to understand that telling my story is a way of valuing ME.

{More Info}

I started memory keeping with Project Life.

Some of my very favorite memory-keepers:
Ali Edwards
Kelly Purkey
Amy Tangerine
Shimelle
Pink Ronnie
Elise Blaha Cripe

 

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!

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

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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.