We’re Moving to Pittsfield!

Beginnings

I’m learning to be bold. To claim my space–physical space, mental space. Space has become so important to me. I need space… 

I started writing this post back in July of last year. I guess this blog post also needed some space of its own…

Spaciousness was a word that kept falling onto the contours of my mind last summer, echoing as I encountered the many micro-ways I kept my self small. Kept my life small. And not in obvious ways, no. My life had been expanding both in size and scope for a few years at least. A ross-country move, multiple new jobs, life partner, marriage, pregnancy, new baby, more moves, more jobs. Just life. And despite being in the wide open spaciousness of rural Vermont country life at the time, the idea of more space occupied my mind. I wanted a space a could expand into, fully unfurled and expressed. What would a bolder me accomplish? What could that woman do? Her potentiality strained me as I navigated a life lived too small. Like a plant, not yet repotted.

Today, in March of 2017, I think I have stepped into the bolder me I earlier craved. At least a little bit. I took a huge, bold, risk and moved my family south to Massachusetts–less on whim and more on prayer.

This week, after five months of this bold journey, my little family of three says farewell to our home-away-from-home, which we’ve been sharing with my wonderful in-laws, and moves into a home of our own. A space of my own.

We are moving into a 3-bedroom duplex apartment with a front and back porch, a bathtub (!), and a large backyard that leads into a multi-hundred acre park full of wild trails and daffodils and lilacs come spring. It’s a dreamy home with glossy, creaky wooden floors, bright white walls, and a landlady who carefully tends to the building like a mama bear to her cub. It is the perfect next home from which to expand, judiciously, as we start yet another season. And how perfect to find home in spring? We begin anew, again.

And as I think about it, what boldness there is in the planting! The unknowingness of the enterprise: the wild nature of the elements of earth, and sky, and rain, could throw off even the most experienced gardener. What will come of our planting here in the Berkshires this year? I hope a most fruitful harvest. And so far, all signs point to the greatest bounty yet. With room to grow.

 

30 Things You Can Do With 10 Minutes

My baby is now walking. He can scoot quickly on all fours or toddle on two, but however he gets there he’s very happy to explore whatever spaces and places he can find. He requires near constant vigilance. I applaud his curiosity and encourage his adventurous spirit. But it doesn’t leave me with much time.

I’ve written before about the dance to do all that there is to get done while watching a young child. And so I won’t belabor the point. In fact, what I really want to write about is the positive. The snippets. Those juicy quick bursts of time when certainly, something could get done. Perhaps while Eli is engaged with a toy, rolling a ball, or practicing walking… that’s when I can scratch the itch to do just one thing more.

But sometimes I forget what I can do in such a short amount of time. And in the rush to find the right use of those precious minutes *poof* they’re gone. So, I came up with a list. A list of 30 things I can do with free minutes to make life better, easier, more manageable, more pleasant, or more effective.

Now I won’t forget. Maybe there’s something here you’ll want to do in your free minutes too?

1. Write a list of ideas. Work out that creativity muscle!
2. Start a rough draft of a blog post. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just get something on the page. In true fashion, I wrote this post in a burst of many, many small moments.
3. Write an email thanking someone who has positively impacted me: for example, a podcaster, a company sales rep, a former teacher, a good friend, the creator of a product I use and love…)
4. Make tomorrow’s to do list
5. Journal
6. Take a few deep breaths
7. Stretch
8. Do yoga exercises
9. Visualize
10. Read a few pages
11. Write a postcard to a friend
12. Break down a big scary goal: Make it into the teensiest baby steps. (There will be lots and lots and lots of baby steps if you do this right).
13. Call mom
14. Check Craigslist: Especially the free stuff section
15. Make next week’s meal plan: Perhaps Whole30 inspired?
17. Order a book from the library: Free reading!
18. Organize a closet
19. Tidy up: The kitchen floor could always use a good sweeping
20. Sketch
21. Color in a coloring book: That’s so hot right now
22. Schedule social media posts
23. Select tomorrow’s outfit: One less thing to think about later
24. Plan a fun weekend activity: Look up a new-to-me local hiking trail, search for a nearby concert or live show, message friends for a brunch date
25. Write an Amazon review for a recent purchase
26. Download a new podcast
27. Backup and delete old photos from my smartphone: Then take lots more of the kiddo now that there’s space again!
28. Take stock of the pantry and fridge: This makes it easier to start or add to a grocery list
29. Laundry: Always
30. Write a gratitude list

Whole30 Two Weeks In

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Whole30 guys, it’s a thing. The hubs and I have been on the Whole30 plan for nearly two weeks now (12 days to be exact). Time for a little update!

We started the program as a means to reset our diet and build a stronger food foundation. We are a health conscious family with a taste for good food and good flavors so we were already eating pretty well. But I was battling a strong sugar addiction and Simeon wasn’t particularly feeling at his prime.

So we committed to the program. No sugar, dairy, grains, soy, corn, beans, legumes, or alcohol for 30 days. Ahem. Yeah.

And you know what? Here in Vermont during the abundant harvests of summer this is actually very, very easy to do-–and super delicious, too! There’s so much amazing produce available all the time that we’re fortunate to be in the very opposite of a food dessert. So, what’s it been like these past two-ish weeks, really?

Days 1-3: Yay, no cravings

I found the first few days to be unlike I expected. No cravings! Nope, no strong desire for toast, cheese, or muffin. Though it was a bit painful to see an unwrapped cut of Alpha Tolman cheese from award winning local cheesemaker, Jasper Hill, just sitting patiently in the crisper. Actually that was really, really painful. But as long as it was out of sight it was out of mind. (And then we got to happily share it at our son’s first birthday party; win-win).

Days 1-4: Cooking!

Besides a lack of cravings I also found myself diving into cooking. Simeon and I usually unevenly share dinner cooking duty, about 70/30. But these days, it’s been more like 60/40 in my direction –-or so it feels for this non-cook, Sim might disagree, he would know better. Nevertheless, I have really enjoyed meal planning and selecting what recipes from the Whole30 book we might try. And so far, so fun! This is a tremendous benefit for our family. Not only has the kitchen always intimidated me but being married to a professional chef hasn’t exactly helped. (He’s just so much better at it than me, what’s the point?, pouts my ego). But now, I feel like I’ve conquered the stove and am prepared to take on any recipe! Maybe not Julie-and-Julia style, but you know, basic dinner or breakfast. And for his part, Simeon, as much as he loves to cook, isn’t always keen to come home from a day in the kitchen to spend more time in the kitchen. So ya, we’re all pretty happy about this development, I think.

I think we’ve even found a few new dinner staples we’ll be adding to our regular rotation once the month is over so we aren’t automatically falling back on pasta as an easy go-to on nights we’re out of meal ideas. So far, this past week we’ve enjoyed stir fry, coconut curry, cauliflower rice with bolognese, green salads, eggs all which ways, green and fruit smoothies (and smoothie bowls like you see above!), steak and veggie salad with sunshine sauce, and more.

Days 5-7: Hm, that would be so good right now

Though the addictive cravings seemed to have disappeared, there were a few thoughts of how nice it would be to enjoy a crisp cold beer after a long day. Or how nice it would be to enjoy a cup of coffee with cream. Or how annoying it is that aaallll the hot dogs and aaallll the bacon include some form of added sugar (I think there is one or two brave brands out there that doesn’t but they aren’t sold at a store near us).

It’s just annoying to find added sugar in your mayonnaise, you know? What the hell, Hellmans?? At this point it felt like we should just throw up our hands and say, oh well. But we committed to the month, and so we carry on.

Days 8-10: Cleaner gut

By the evening of Day 8 and into Day 9 I suddenly felt ragged. My energy was at an all time low and I felt like I was recovering from major fatigue or illness. My stomach was constantly queasy and I could barely move without feeling like total crap. Which is probably exactly what was happening. I was getting rid of all the leftover crap! ‘Nuff said.

Days 10-12: Reaping some rewards

Woohoo! The other side of that fatigue and nausea was just as beautiful as I imagined! Let me count the ways… Of course, my energy is way higher, my mental acuity seems to be sharper i.e. words come to me faster and I have more mental stamina, the fine lines in my cheeks are less visible, my eyes are shinier, my gut is cleaner, and my clothes are the tiniest bit looser.

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I’m looking forward to how the next couple weeks will go and curious if the cravings will reap their ugly heads one more time or if we’re slowly killing them off without noticing.

I did have dreams about food last night, which was something the authors of the Whole30 program said would happen. How weird is that? We humans are a funny animal.

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And if you’re curious and would like to more about the whys and hows of the Whole30 program (or just want to know exactly what we’ve gotten ourselves into) more information can be found at http://www.whole30.com.

 

 

The #MomLife

The #MomLife

Beside me sits a pile of laundry. The whites have been folded and stacked. Now they wait patiently to be brought upstairs to their places while the darks whirl away, nearly done.

Next to that is a mug of hot (!) black tea–maple syrup and half and half too. It’s syrup season in Vermont after all.

And next to the mug is… me. Typing out thoughts as quick as I can. Nap time only lasts so long. Even the hot mug will have to wait.

I may have 90 minutes in which to luxuriate. Or a measly 20. I never quite know what to expect with naps these days. But regardless, this is the time in which I always expect myself to be able to: fold the dry laundry, start a new load, unload the dishwasher, schedule social media for my job, respond to emails, write and print work correspondence, brainstorm a work project, call back a friend, schedule a doctor’s appointment for my son, FaceTime my mother, catch up on my Instagram feed and post a poignant picture with a funny caption, stretch and exercise, reheat my coffee from the morning, and write a blog post. (My master’s thesis, additional work duties, catering business website retooling, and other side projects are saved for the after dinner hours before I slink into bed eyes already half closed.)

Now where did I put my dang cape?

Of course I feel anguish by late afternoon! I’ve set myself up to fall to my knees in desperation and hopelessness with only the promise of a sugar fix keeping me straight.

It got to a point this week when I had to finally say, enough is enough.

This #momlife gig is not about making wild expectations of myself that always set me up to fail. I need to adjust my notions of what’s possible and what’s appropriate for me to tackle each day and in this season. And I really need to lay off the sugar.

So tonight I’m committing myself to make future to do lists grounded in reality (no more cape, mama). And I intend to try a lot harder to set myself up for success by putting into my body what I what to get out: that means fueling up with the right kind of nutrition to keep me level headed and energized without the afternoon crashing, i.e. no more refined sugar.

That’s all for today.

The laundry still needs to be taken upstairs. Off I go…

 

 

 

 

Autumn vibes

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Mornings are for walks in the rising sun, coffee and breakfast on the porch, reading from my new kindle buddy, and planning the day. I’ve realized lately how much I crave routine and I’m doing my best to set up a really strong morning experience each day. So far, so good.

There’s lots happening behind the scenes up here and I have so many words swirling; sifting through them to write a few posts is taking more energy than expected. I hope to be back soon with lots of photos and stories of life in this new season.

xo

Home sweet homestead

Backyard with view of gardens and chicken coopHome. It’s every bit a verb as much as a noun. Not just the place one resides, home is where the heart is they say. Where the heart beats and lungs breathe and mind wanders… A place of action. A place of movement and exertion and habit and ritual.

Front of houseThis moving thing, it’s a pain for sure–metaphorically and literally. But yet I find it is an opportunity  to see with beginner’s mind all that my daily life has become. Morning rituals are mostly the same from place to place; each morning I still struggle to leave my nest of a bed while the promise of a hot pot of coffee beckons from the kitchen. But in a new context I see with new eyes.

Kitchen from backdoorLike a Boggle board turned 90 degrees I can suddenly see new parts of myself that had yesterday been plainly hiding within clear view. The woman in me with tenacity and grit shows up to change her own tire–for the first time ever. The woman in me who loves to learn volunteers to feed the chickens (the wrong kind of food at first, but she’s… learning).  The woman in me with courage and a brave heart shows up at neighborhood gatherings to make friends of strangers and leaves feeling filled to the brim.

Mirror in hallwayHome is a funny place when I think of it, really. It can define us without our proper consent. A home of origin is often simply a shortcut for identifying who we are–or more accurately, who we have been. This process of (re)discovering myself in this new place and time has been the ultimate homecoming. Coming home to myself. The chance to define, on my own terms, who I want to be–or more accurately, who I am becoming.

Home now is where my heart is finding its rhythm. New home, new beat. Me. Renewed.

On moving

On movingTomorrow we leave the fourth apartment Sim and I have shared in the past year. For certain, others in the world are far more transient and others still less so. I don’t know what weight to give the moves we’ve made other than we have been light-footed in each “home” – treading the ground as if borrowed for only a short time (though I still managed to put the most holes in the wall that one can). Somehow, we knew, that in each place our time there was temporary; perhaps part self fulling prophecy, part critical understanding of the way things were to be.

We didn’t love Hartford. Not in the way that one finds oneself enraptured by a locale and feels at home in the scent, the earth, the people. We didn’t feel comfortable in Hudson. Not in the way that one who is among one’s tribe feels content and relaxed. We couldn’t stay in the Berkshires. Not when our souls called us to journey beyond our comfort zones into a challenging and fruitful next chapter.

And so, here we are yet again. About to trek to another home, another city, another state. Life is an adventure, my mother always says. She’s so right. This adventure begins with a U-haul trailer, the cat carrier, and our gaze steadily focused on the northern horizon.

Vermont, we’re coming for you. And we’re coming to stay. This time will be different.This time we are committing to shove our feet deep in the Vermont earth, our hands clasped together tightly as a new family. We look forward to finding our footing among a new tribe, among our housemates, and among the land that so eagerly shares her bounty with those who choose… to make the move.