A (birth)day in the life….

39.

That’s where we are. And I love it.

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The difference one year makes

It was August last year when I paced in front of my computer screen and stared at a message I had written to my boss. We were leaving the next day for our yearly pilgrimage to Cape Cod, and I needed to get in touch with her before I left. I squeezed my eyes and clicked send on my letter of resignation from that job. I was torn about leaving because I loved the possibility of what the job could be but knew that there was an issue with management that I would never be able to fix from the inside.

It had been a decidedly terrible summer in the news and somewhat in life. My husband and I were both struggling in our work. Whether we admit it now or not, we were at our unhappiest professional point and our unhappiness at work was spilling over into our personal lives. We tried to compartmentalize our feelings about our work but that meant returning to work every Monday became harder and harder with each passing week. Resigning before our vacation was a bold and necessary move.

During last year’s vacation I was able to relax but I also knew I would have to return to work and push myself to finish projects, to bring open items to a close and to hand things off as smoothly as possible. My youngest was starting kindergarten and I wasn’t going to put her second during a stressful professional patch.

Once the kids were back in school and we fell into a routine, we both started to turn the curve at work. I left that job and transitioned into a new one. I found my way to my current job by accident and thank my lucky stars it has turned out to be a supreme fit. My husband also found a new job and his transition has been slower to warm. We were faced with the simultaneous transitions which meant we were both trying to prove our value at a time when we needed someone else to be the backup person. Though we have a better work and life balance than ever before, it was a tough few months getting settled in.

And now it’s one year later. This time last year, I probably wished I could press the fast forward button. But we don’t get that kind of control over our lives and wading our way through the painful, pressure-filled moments is what make the joyful ones so delicious. As we packed for our trip to the beach this year, I could not believe the good fortune we have. We both left jobs that would not badger us while we were away, that would not interfere with time with the girls. And we could walk back in and juggle the kids and work until school started.

The reflection on one year ago is part of a larger set of reflections I cannot seem to escape because of the ubiquity of social media. Profiles and accounts have a way of dredging up good and bad moments, reminding me what a difference one year, two years, ten years makes. And then I try and wrap my mind around the idea that I’m in a stage of life where I can measure time in neat little chunks like 2 years or 5 years or even 10 years, and I shake my head. Because it feels like it was five minutes ago that I met my husband and romped around New York City and not too long ago I lived in New York state. And perhaps just a couple of years ago we lived together for the first time and bought our first house. And just and just…..

My incredulity, my disbelief is nothing new. I have written about this before and will likely write about it again. But just as mystified as I am by the passage of time, I am equally delighted by the changes that may be felt in a year as I did when Facebook reminded me of my work anniversary just yesterday.

I have to wonder how I’ll be feeling in one year about this moment because right now, today, life is good. The girls are growing and changing. The little kiddo has the perfect jack-o-lantern smile with two missing teeth. Their hair reaches halfway down their backs. Their school lives are so different: spelling tests for the little one and French for the big one. Their lives are getting busier as I settle into my work life, and one year later, my work life is so different. I spent a year establishing myself in a new organization and so did my husband. And we came out on the other side in one piece. We have moments as a family when we’re all in it together, and I think, if I could freeze this moment, I would stop everything now and get off this ride because it will never be as good as this.

I have to keep reminding myself that time is always running in the background. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster. The ante just gets upped. There will be new high highs and low lows. Nothing is perfect forever and certainly nothing is guaranteed.

But the feeling of contentment today, one year past a particularly tense time, is something I’d happily bottle up for next year if I could.

 

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August update….

August was slippery. Where did it go? All of the people in my life were like ships passing in the night.

Things I want to do weekly:

  • Exercise 4x a week: 15 WIP classes plus a big hike. So that gets close. I did take a much needed week to sleep in and do nothing. That was super nice.
  • Give kids weekly allowance: Nope. As we totally abandoned the idea of allowance over the summer, the girls realized it had been a while since we did the allowance thing reliably. I also thought about how money was making them more demanding. I’ve been a little happy we haven’t picked it back up. Now we have to think about how to reinstate this as a project for the family.
  • Do one act of kindness each week: Huzzah! One good act of kindness for the month. Sent a care package to a friend from high school recovering from major surgery.
  • Read one full length article in a magazine every week: Nope.

Things to do every month:

  • Regular library trips: We are back in the swing of library visits. I am so happy to reconnect with books after July when the kids were too tired to read at night (or anytime really).
  • 2 Yoga classes: Zero yoga classes. I feel regretful that I didn’t go to beach yoga once while we were away but I also loved sleeping in.
  • Read 2 books: Yes!
    • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (this one was life changing)
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (yes, I am one of the two people in the world who hasn’t read it)
  • Write 2 blog posts: locked down one blog post and made false starts on several others. September is going to be soooo productive!!
  • Choose outside: We spent so much of the month outside including a week at the beach. And once we were back from the beach, we went to this awesome community event called Hike to the Mic, a concert on top of a mountain ridge. We followed it up with an outdoor bike festival in our town center.
  • 1 date night: I keep wracking my brain and have concluded this didn’t happen. I’m sad we didn’t have any alone time at all. To work on in September.

Some other great stuff that happened this month:

  • Girls’ weekend with my daughters
  • Yearly trip to Chatham on Cape Cod
  • Eating corn (it’s the season)
  • Hike to the Mic
  • Center Streets (bike festival)
  • The kids return to school to start first and third grade!

Now it’s September. Another great month in 2017….

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Back to school and a new normal….

School starts today. Maybe in your neck of the woods, you have a few precious days to squeeze out of summer vacation. Ours ends now. And it comes just in time because we’re all losing our minds. Camp is long over, and we’ve returned from a lovely week at the beach. The girls have been climbing the walls for days, claiming they’re bored or tired, and to be honest, we have run out of things to do for them.

We’re all ready.

For the first time in our family, the first day of school is just another Wednesday. In the past, we’ve treated the first day like a national holiday. The earliest years were too precious to ignore. I have written about clinging to the end of summer and lamented over the end of summer. I poured my soul into letters to my oldest and my youngest on the eve of kindergarten, yet here I sit, the morning of the first day of first and third grade at a complete loss for words.

How did we get here? What happens next?

It feels like preschool was eons ago. I remember looking at parents of elementary school age kids and wondering what their lives were like. Older kids were full of life and opinions and ideas. And somehow, inexplicably, we’re those parents now. We’re closer to their Bat Mitzvahs than their births. We are halfway through elementary school with our oldest and our youngest waltzed assuredly into the school sneak peek with a huge smile on her face like she owned the place.

We have arrived.

Except the point of arrival is like floating in space. We’re far from diapers but staring down some of the hardest years of parenting. Despite our best efforts, the frustration and the sleep deprivation, they can walk, talk, eat, and sleep. Now we have to redouble our efforts because we are their guides as they learn to think, reason, argue, fight, and serve. The hard is work is done and more hard work remains.

I look at those little girls and I shake my head because I feel simultaneously grateful and stunned that I get to be their mom. And being their mom is both a joy and a responsibility I still don’t fully understand.

Summer is over. It was an incredible blur. The girls are exponentially more independent with every passing day. And they are also evolving into a strong (and periodically adversarial) team.

So it’s times to keep moving. I have such huge hopes for this year but I know better than to make any grand plans. Instead it’s one foot in front of the other.

Onward to (gulp) first and third grade!

Posted in everyday life, family, kids, lessons learned, parenthood, personal, schools, students, summer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

July Update

In order to stay accountable to myself, I have to actually post on my blog. I was stuck in July. I got swallowed up in the summer and it has been swift so far.

July is like a little island where all we do is disconnect. As such, I’m making strides in some places and I’m stagnating in others.

So….

Things I want to do weekly:

  • Exercise 4x a week: 16–15 trips to my gym plus yoga.
  • Give kids weekly allowance: Nope.
  • Do one act of kindness each week: Nope.
  • Read one full length article in a magazine every week: Nope.

Things to do every month:

  • Regular library trips: Nope but all are reading
  • 2 Yoga classes: 1 yoga class with girls–outdoors! Took the girls to Om Street, a yoga-palooza that happens every year in our town. Big sister loved it. Little sister lost interest early on. Still a great morning with my little ladies.
  • Read 2 books: 1 book. It was a doozy.
    • Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
  • Write 2 blog posts: locked down one blog post and made false starts on several others.
  • Choose outside: This has been the easiest of goals. I get outside nearly every day at work once a day and every minute otherwise we’re outdoors. So many outside highlights including the High Line in New York, cruising Westport with my oldest friend, and the little sister’s birthday party.
  • 1 date night: Super night with husband seeing Love’s Labor Lost outdoors.

Some other great stuff that happened this month:

  • Trip to New York City
  • Big kiddo tried out overnight camp for the weekend
  • Little kiddo went to a baseball game with her dad
  • Goodbye party for dear friend
  • Date night with friend plus 24 hours alone
  • Dinner with friends from overseas
  • Day date with oldest friend
  • Outdoor yoga
  • Birthday and party for littlest one
  • Weekend with nephews
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Solitude

24 hours of solitude. It’s more time alone than I normally have in an entire year. It sounds dramatic but most of my time by myself is sandwiched in between work and sleep or in between other commitments for myself and my kids. And to have 24 total hours to think, to listen, to be present, well, it’s actually kind of daunting. I know most people know what they would do with 24 hours to themselves and I had a few household obligations to fulfill (dishes, groceries, light tidying up).

But I was just finishing lunch outside and I stood up and I looked at my flowers. I really looked at them. The daisies are in full bloom and though I worried the other flowers weren’t coming back, there are some Black-eyed Susans beginning to open up. I have these strange day lilies I’ve never noticed before and the rose bush I’m trying to kill is so resilient. The butterfly bushes are filling out after two years and I have tons of chives (the only herb I manage not to kill). 

I made some plans because my days need structure. And yet, as I turned away from the flowers, I paced a little in the yard. I felt a little lost. 

It is so easy to lament being busy, to feel a little crushed under the weight of stress and obligations, to feel battered by work or relationships. This isn’t that. I just don’t find or take time to feel lost. Lost to me is scary. And yet, feeling lost means focusing on what is in front of you, paying attention, noticing things. I try to notice something every day–I take pictures of the sky and the clouds and thanks to my husband, the night sky is my favorite thing. But really noticing means seeing what’s ahead. Because that’s all we have.

I would normally wordsmith and edit and polish something up that I wrote and make it truly lovely but I don’t feel like it today. And too often, I start writing something in my head and the words flow right into the air. I try and dictate it to myself or grab some scratch paper or type a quick note to myself. But that’s not happening today either. I just needed to capture this feeling of lightness–that I have responsibilities but that for the moment, I’m supposed to just be. My mother always said I was terrible at doing nothing but for another few hours I’m going to try.

I’m not even re-reading. This is a postcard to myself. 

<Publish>

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June Update

June is such a jam-packed month and July is its own safe haven that it would be easy to forget that the end of June marks the end of half the time in 2017. The year is half over. I am tempted to do a combined Q1/Q2 report but I know I have lots of things left on my plate for the year. Rather than lament what’s left to do, I’ll just jump right in….

Things I want to do weekly:

  • Exercise 4x a week: 22! It’s a new record! And in the closing days of the month, I met a goal I didn’t know I had. I climbed the rope all the way to the top! I was flying high all week!
  • Give kids weekly allowance: Slipped a lot this month. Our Friday night routine has not recovered since softball season ended. Have to get back on the horse.
  • Do one act of kindness each week: Last month I said I wanted to reframe this goal. Still working on how to do this every week.
  • Read one full length article in a magazine every week: So this didn’t happen. I DID listen to all of S-Town, however. And that was like reading at least one article.

Things to do every month:

  • Regular library trips: This was a month of library stasis. We are still reading from last month–the girls have come to expect a few big trips a month.
  • 2 Yoga classes: Nope.
  • Read 2 books: Big movement in the reading department this month!
    • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
    • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
  • Write 2 blog posts: Yup.
  • Choose outside: The weather is turning so we have been outdoors more often just because. I’ve been at nearly all of the girls’ softball games. I also got in a great walk with a friend.
  • 1 date night: Oy, nope.

Some other great stuff that happened this month:

  • Protest postcard writing campaign: on the first day of the month, a dear friend posted something on social media about a protest postcard project. I joined up immediately. The goal was to write 3 postcards a day for ten days to Republicans and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee as well as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about her dangerous education budget. Happy to report I hung in for the entire campaign–my 3 postcards were part of a barrage of 300 sent to elected officials protesting the education budget.
  • Attended all of the girls’ softball games: I felt like June was wall to wall softball. It was awesome watching the girls progress–they love a good catch!
  • External writing projects: Finished book chapter due July 1st. I know edits are in my future but I am really excited about how this turned out.
  • Pinterest success: As the room parent, I was able to execute an amazing Pinterest-inspired gift for our daughter’s kindergarten teacher.

Gotta get some movement on:

  • Kitchen savings
  • Guitar lessons
  • Run (like a race or something)
  • Podcasting oral histories

July, July, July……

 

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