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.

 

Happy New Year!

It’s 2017!

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A handmade sign at the Four Freedoms march in Pittsfield, MA

The start of this new year is not filled with as much joyful expectancy as I’d normally expect to feel. It’s hard for me to feel well while watching the calendar flip every closer to Trump’s inauguration. I can’t help but feel mostly mournful over the future. When I try to muster courage for what’s to come I retreat into my personal world to find some bit of joy.

Thankfully, a few ordinary things have added positive drops to my happiness well this week and I was reminded that only I can truly determine my state of mind this year. I will not wallow. I will act. I will not stay down. I will rise up and speak out. I will not ignore my blessings. I will amplify them.

Thank you to my old friend who didn’t realize what a powerful impact his random email had on my relatively normal workday afternoon. Thank you to the 1300+ people of Pittsfield who marched on Saturday for the heart of our democracy and the cornerstone Four Freedoms. Thank you to my family-of-friends who gathered–as is our yearly tradition–to share in the blessing of our long-lasting friendship among lots of good eats and good drinks. Thank you to my extended family-from-marriage whose love and conviviality always brightens my heart.

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Mama Bittman, Baby Bittman, Dada Bittman!

This year, no matter what, I will hold my little family close, relish the pure love and joy that enlivens my son, and send meditations of well being across this country. 2017, bring it on.

I am weary

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health winter timeI am so weary from the news of the day and my spirit aches for renewal and assurances of a lasting peace. And all the while, Earth has been steadily spinning so that night will come and the moon will rise and tomorrow will bring another dawn.

I posted this to Facebook this afternoon. With more new articles coming every hour with updates about President-Elect Trump’s deeply troubling business debts and conflicts of interest, allegations of Russian interference in our election, the Syrian crisis, and how I’m going to afford day-care, I want to weep and weep and weep and weep.

This is not who we are. This is not the Universe I know and trust. And yet, isn’t it? The web of life connects, contains, and corrupts. Decay is a part of the essence of birth and of life. These aren’t platitudes–it’s the core of our existence. So I try. I try to stay with the feelings as they come: shame for not being more actively involved in the fight for justice, fear for how my life and my son’s life will change in the years to come, despair that so much good may be undone, and grief over what could have been. My silent tears seep through my skin and I try to absorb the truth. This is what I feel. This is what is real. This is the truth today.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

playing in the snowHappy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours.

I feel so lucky to have my family with me in these interesting times. Though there is a lot to feel disheartened about these days, right now I am reveling in my beautiful, healthy, happy family. And for them, I am very, very thankful.

May this season remind all of us what is at the heart of all our efforts during the rest of the year: those people who make up our circles of family, friends, and loved ones and the incredibly diverse humanity of which we are a part.

xo

Summer Bucket List

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Summer is well under way but by no means is it too late for a Bucket List!

There is so much to see and do here in Vermont and the surrounding areas in the summer. I hope we can cross off quite a few of these activities–especially now that Eli is at an age where he can truly appreciate some of them.

Arts & Entertainment

  • Antiques & Uniques
  • Bread & Puppet
  • Circus Smirkus
  • Tanglewood

Farmer’s Markets

  • Craftsbury Farmer’s Market
  • Burlington Farmer’s Market
  • Montpelier Farmer’s Market
  • Portland, Maine Farmer’s Market ?

Places to Go

  • Family hike
  • Picnic at the lake
  • Visit Cape Cod
  • Caledonia Spirits Tasting & Tour
  • Shelbourne Farms
  • Blueberry picking
  • Strawberry picking

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.