Check it out: http://hemarriedawriter.tumblr.com/
So yesterday I wrote a blog post with observations that support this suspicion that I’ve had lately: We’re I’m old. And while all those things were true, I feel a need to write this follow-up post because guess what? Being old is pretty awesome. I swear. Each year just keeps getting better and better and I’m not lying when I say that I’m actually looking forward to turning the big 4-0. (Maybe because I’m only 38 right now. Ask me again in a year.)
Here, let me convince you:
I bought a big bag of Epsom salt yesterday because I read that Epsom salt baths are full of awesome. They soothe achy muscles, reduce inflammation, help you sleep, etc., etc., etc. When I told my husband this and informed him that the bag was in my bathroom if he ever wanted to use it, he simply looked at me and said, ‘Oh good God. We’re old. You should never repeat those words to anyone else ever again.’ And it dawned on me… Oh, shit. He’s totally right. Epsom salt baths are for old people and are just another link in a growing chain of discoveries of how old we really are. Shit.
Here are my recent discoveries/observations. I’m saying ‘we’ just to make myself feel better. This may really only be about me. (Gasp.)
It is December 31, 2013 and I’m bubbling. I’m spending time today saying good-bye to 2013 and deciding how to welcome in 2014. While I typically engage in a ritual to close out one year and welcome in another year, I’m doing it entirely differently this year. And it feels soooooo good.
Rather than lamenting over my muffin-top that has held on for yet another year, I’m reflecting on all that my body allowed me to do in 2013: travel all over the country in tight airplanes, sleep in lumpy hotel beds, do yoga on shaggy orange carpet in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere, run a half-marathon from Loveland Ski Area to Georgetown, CO, walk the entire city of San Francisco, and explore a new neighborhood with Lucy.
Rather than making a list of ‘must-do’ tasks and accomplishments for 2014, I’m thinking about how I want to feel next year and what I need to do to ensure these feelings.
I want to feel radiant so I’m going to ditch the gluten and the dairy for good and move my body more often than I let it sit idle.
I want to feel calm so I’m going to set office hours for myself, unplug on the weekends and evenings, and let go of Facebook a bit. Quite a bit.
I want to be fully present in my own life and so I’m going to spend less time poking around online and more time in my journal, with my watercolors, and looking through my camera lens.
I want to feel nurtured and so I’m not going to always opt for convenience or the easy route, instead I’m going to treat myself more and let the guilt go.
I want to feel authentic and so I’m going to finish my book on supporting beginning teachers and continue to design trainings for educators that are worthy of their time and attention.
I want to laugh at the hilariousness of life and revel in the humor that makes everything ok. I’m going to lean my head back and let the laughter come up from my toes and pour out through my throat until my tummy hurts and the tears flow. Daily.
I want to feel whole and enough. I’m going to change my inner-dialogue and talk to myself just as I’d talk to you, dear reader. With kindness, respect, appreciation, and love.
I haven't been publishing my writing lately but I've filled up an entire 300 page journal since October with 'stuff.' There's something about this, my 38th year, that's making me extremely reflective.
So here's some of what I've been thinking about lately:
1. Starting an art journal is a delicious thing. Pulling out my markers and watercolors and glue sticks and photographs, taps into a creative side of me that I've been hiding for awhile... and she's been missed. I always gave all creativity credit to the rest of my family but guess what? I've got a touch of the trait myself... huh. Who knew?
2. Looking through the lens of my camera feels good again, too. Seeing the world through the small square vision provided by an actual camera (not the camera on my phone), reminds me of the beauty of lines and color and shading and distance. Combining #1 with #2 is a most delicious cocktail.
3. Did you know that you're not supposed to feel like crap every time you eat? Huh. I'll be damned. It's taken me 38 years (38 YEARS!!!!!!) to figure out that what I eat is totally, 100% connected to how I feel, look, and behave. And because of this, I'm going through a terrible break-up with cheese, milk, and gluten. It's horrific. For now. I anticipate looking back on our relationship fondly while I thank my tummy and my skin for showing me my true loves. But right now, I'm grieving. And cheating.
4. There should not be any guilt for doing nothing. This, too, has taken me YEARS to learn. I have not sat and done NOTHING for a very, very, very long time--because it made me feel guilty. And stressed. And I'd run over to my work or my email or stupid Facebook or the TV or... rather than just sitting through it. Hence, I'm also learning to breathe. Again. And take in the world without a screen in front of my face.
5. Gratitude. I've always been a gratitude kind of gal but lately I've amped it up a bit. I'm REALLY stopping to be grateful for that coffee mug I love so much, the ability to walk into a grocery store and have an entire aisle of options when it comes to paper towels, new shoes that make my feet feel pampered, the way that Lucy lays her head in my lap when I'm sitting on the couch, how the sun peeks in our bedroom window in the morning, exploring my new neighborhood by foot... ALL of it. Even better? I'm snapping pictures of those things. (See #1 and #2 above.)
So there you have it. Thanks for missing me.
And then the babies arrived and the demanding work schedules took their toll and the need to save vacation time for in-laws and family treks back to the midwest became our realities and the annual Vegas trip fell by the wayside. Like Thursday night TV nights and Book Club.
While I grieved the loss of the annual Vegas trip (and Thursday nights and Book Club) for a time, I also realized what it meant: We were turning into grown-ups. With responsibilities. And babies. BABIES! And lawns to mow and mortgages to pay and dogs to walk and and and… It’s a natural and expected phase of life. And I love watching my girls raise beautiful children, settle into amazing, love-filled homes, and work hard to balance it all.
But I’ve missed ‘us.’
And so when the words, ‘Let’s go back to Vegas, Baby’ came back onto scene, uttered by my best-friend of 22 years (how can we be this old?), I did my happy dance. We’re baaaaaack, baby. We’re back! We’ve crossed a certain milestone where babies can now be left in the care of Dad for a few days and vacation time has expanded over the years and we’ve got a few more bucks in our pocket so we don’t have to drive across the desert anymore. We can fly away for a long weekend and live like we’re 22 again… for a few days at least.
And I’m so excited I could pee.
Of course I’m sad that only two of us could pull it off this time but I also know that there’s more trips in the making. Perhaps Vegas in the winter? Wine country in the spring? A Thursday night reunion? The rejuvenation of a long lost book club? Oh yes, it’s coming… it’s all coming.
Melissa and I are going to kick it off. Starting in a few hours.
And so as I pack my sensible shoes for walking and new ‘appropriate for my age and body type’ swimsuit, I’m smiling. I have a feeling this is the start of something new—again.
Whaaaaat? How cool is this? My former student (and current friend and inspiration) nominated me for a Liebster Award for this little ‘ol blog.
In her words: This is basically an award from other bloggers that like what you’re writing about. Once nominated, you continue to highlight smaller blogs so they can eventually grow and reach more people as well. I like the idea because it features bloggers that have a lot of great things to say but maybe haven’t gained a following yet.
Thank you to Ali Medina at http://farfromom.wordpress.com for this nomination!
So, here is how it works:
1. When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself
2. You must answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
3. Pass the award onto 11 other blogs.
4. Ask them 11 questions.
5. You are not allowed to nominate the blogger who nominated you!
11 Facts About Me:
Lately, I feel like I spend more time at airports and in hotels than I do at home. Which means that I’m often tempted to hug strangers because I love hugs (I make my husband and Lucy (our dog) hug me everyday when I’m at home. Usually more than once).
I have been known to buy three versions of books I love: 1) The Kindle edition to read while traveling, 2) The hardcover copy for my bookshelf, and 3) The paperback copy to pass on and around to those I demand read it.
I cannot get through a single morning without at least one cup of coffee. Seriously. I think I’d die without it. It’s an addiction.
When people do not follow proper boarding and de-boarding procedures on an airplane I experience ‘plane rage.’
If given the choice, I will ALWAYS choose to sit on the patio at a restaurant. This is why living in Denver works so well with my soul.
I believe in the transformative power of K-12 education in the deepest depths of my being and when I meet a teacher who isn’t doing the profession justice, I take it as a personal attack.
I smell school supplies.
I have never regretted the decision to not have a baby. Ever.
I love how the world changes when I put in my headphones and observe it all with a musical background.
I still get pimples. I am 38 damn years old and just got a new one this morning.
I still look for Eric at the airport every time I arrive home.
My Questions From Ali:
1. Which book do you feel every person needs to read in their lifetime? The Tender Bar. I am so in love with this book that my husband knows there’s a serious danger that I’d leave him for JR Moehringer. (I mean I wouldn’t but…)
2. Best place you have traveled to for relaxing? My parents’ home on the water.
3. Place you have traveled to for adventure? Eric and I like to travel to cities so we make our own adventures every time we explore a new urban space.
4. Life philosophy? Life. Is. Good. Damn good.
5. Person that is not a friend or family member that has influenced you most in your life? Probably all of the authors that have resonated with my soul: Anne Lamott, Brene Brown, Dave Eggers, Dr. Robert Marzano… I know I’m forgetting at least 150 here. There’s just soooo many.
6. One thing you suggest everyone do before they die? This is tough because I believe it’s so personal… basically, if you have a dream, chase it. And don’t look back.
7. Your favorite thing to do when you have a day off/to yourself? Spend an entire day at the bookstore. In yoga pants.
8. The place you want to retire? It’s a tie: New York City and/or San Francisco.
9. Goal for this year? Finish my book.
10. A cause that you fight for/are interested in? Public education/K-12 students.
11. Is there a business you would like to start? I would love to ‘train trainers,’ start my own ‘826 Valencia,’ and/or help women lead their best lives through coaching and writing…
Blogs I am nominating: (Going to keep this list small… but mighty!)
http://susanbednar.tumblr.com One of my oldest friends (elementary school!) and funniest voices I know.
http://www.randomthoughtsbyrebecca.com A new friend who I want to be like in more ways than one.
https://www.facebook.com/MyEquatorSearch A friend from high-school—who is so incredibly brave I am in awe.
http://freckleschick.blogspot.com My girl here has plenty ‘o followers already but her voice—and STYLE—is drool-worthy.
My questions for the blog I nominated:
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
What is your second favorite food?
What did you want to be when you grew up when you were a child?
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
What is your favorite day of the week?
If you could have drinks with an-y-one, who would it be?
What room in your house is your favorite?
Morning or night?
Biggest pet peeve?
What are you most proud of about yourself?
What legacy do you hope to leave?
Eight years were lived here. Fully. We were married here. I was a teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, project director, and MRL associate here. We adopted Lucy here and watched our family of two become a family of three. We sopped up a lot of water here. We had softball championship celebrations, New Year’s Eve parties, Thanksgiving meals for friends, book clubs, and girls’ nights here. Lots of date nights were spent here. We bought that roomful of Crate and Barrel furniture from Michigan Avenue here. We watched neighbors—some crazy, some sane—come and go. Someone slept in my Jeep here. We’ve been snowed in. We’ve sat outside, eating BBQ food, and eavesdropped on our neighbors out back here. We’ve driven around and around and around, looking for parking spots here. We’ve paid a million dollars in parking tickets on the first Monday and Tuesday of each damn month. Because, no, we just can’t learn. There used to be a crack house next door. Now it’s a nice rental unit. We’ve become regulars at Streets of London, The Irish Snug, Las Margaritas, Parallel 17, Hamburger Mary’s, The Tattered Cover, Walgreen’s, Cheesman Park, and Pasquini’s. We’ve had a lot of pizza here. We watched the old Argonaut get torn down and have done wine tasting at the new Argonaut paradise. We’ve cursed that shitty Laundromat, Smiley’s, again and again. We’ve crossed the street to avoid the bus stop at Colfax and Downing. We’ve advised visitors: ‘Don’t go left.’ I trained for the NYC Marathon here. Eric started running here. Ah, the famous 15 bus has provided story after story here. Bar crawls from the Squire to Sancho’s and every dive in-between. The shows. Oh, the shows. The Fillmore, the Ogden, the Bluebird. Voodoo Donuts is coming a few weeks too late. We’ve watched them paint the outside pink. Sprouts sprouted. Our stuff was stolen—not here—but on a weekend away from here. The irony. I got my PhD here. We lost weight, gained weight, lost weight, gained weight here. I got Lasik here. We’ve been well, we’ve been sick, we’ve been well here. We’ve been blissful. We’ve cried and had meltdowns here. (Mainly me.) We’ve moved the family room, painted with red, and installed new hardwood floors after the water main break here. We’ve added cork after cork after cork to our hanging display. We’ve managed to make it across Colfax safely. It’s a game of Frogger every single day. We’ve warded off begger after begger here. We’ve given our leftovers to our local homeless men. We’ve let crazy people pet our Lucy around here. We’ve tripped over the broken sidewalks, bumped bumpers trying to parallel park. We’ve defended our city, our neighborhood, our corner, to suburbanites again and again. We’ve watched it all change. Starbuck’s arrived, new 7-11’s came in, the Rockbar closed down, our favorite coffee shop opened across the street. The grit remains, though. Luckily. Many an evening and Sunday afternoon were spent on a patio, watching the show pass by. The Ramada served as our guestroom. We’ve made amazing friends here. We’ve cursed our historical building and then we hugged it. We loved its brick walls, hardwood floors, and open spaces. We’ve hated the lack of doors, lack of storage, lack of parking. Half our stuff is in the storage space down the street. We’ve watched the feet go by out our windows. We’ve. Lived. Here. REALLY lived. It held our memories for eight years.
We sold it.
I've had the unusual pleasure of being HOME for the past week and have been purposeful in enjoying this time and soaking up every minute of this reprieve from my usual crazy travel schedule.
These six-word reflections sum it all up:
Ready for spring, feels like winter.
Spring cleaning revitalizes my hoarding soul.
Lucy's shedding is driving us crazzzzy!
Wouldn't change it for the world.
Lucy and I's runs = perfect date.
I am going to run faster.
Vacation Saturday. Can't come soon enough.
Loving time at home for me.
Reading, reading, reading, and more reading.
Down 12 pounds, feels so good.
Haven't had soda in 40 days.
Longing for 'us time' next week.
Wine, food, walking, wine, food, talking.
Packing for vacation is so different.
Tuesday with my girls was blissful.
Complete with bracelets and hamburger necklace.
Getting my required nine hours sleep.
Back to writing in my journal.
Still afraid someone will take it.
Can't stand a stranger reading it.
The Today Show, Ellen, and Katie.
Book club, running dates, happy hours.
Sleeping, working, reading, education for me.
Only two more sleeps until vacation!
Probably overpacked but still forgot something.
All that matters is comfortable shoes.
And wine. Wine makes everything better.
It's been a crazy four days, folks. Totally. Crazy. I'm sitting here today, beginning the reflection process and finding the lessons I was meant to learn.
Allow me to provide the back-story.
Because I've been traveling like a mad-woman lately, my husband decided to book a three-day weekend get-away up in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado, for our little family of three (yes, I'm including our dog here). And we were ecstatic. Our whole goal was to get away from 'people' and so we packed our car (to the brim) for three days in a cabin. We were planning to hike and then come back to the cabin each day to tuck in, listen to music, read, cook, and enjoy adult beverages while the world continued to spin on without us.
On Friday we packed everything up and took to the hills. On the drive, I searched for dog-friendly hikes we could take while we waited for check-in time at the cabin. I found one. Lion's Gulch. Six miles outside of Estes Park, dog-friendly, mid-difficulty, and a parking lot. Perfect.
Because I had no pockets (argh... first lesson learned), I tucked my phone and wallet into my bag and my bag into the car and we grabbed Lucy and my camera (thank God) and took off. And it was awesome. The day was glorious--55 degrees and sunny--and Lucy was overjoyed to be climbing and sniffing and getting worn out on our little family hike. We stopped a bit short, when the trail got icy and more treacherous, and decided to turn-around in order to head into town and take the loop around the lake to kill the last hour or two before we could check in.
As I opened the back door to let Lucy jump in, I noticed there was glass all over the back-seat. My first instinct was that Lucy had broken something on the drive up. Eric figured it out first and realized the glass was from the broken window. And then panic struck. And all of our worst fears were solidified. My bag was gone (which held my computer, iPad, phone, and wallet), Eric's bag was gone (which held his iPad mini), my suitcase was gone, the list goes on and on... And then I stopped breathing.
I remember leaning over, putting my head between my knees, and focusing on getting my breath back. I'm pretty sure Eric was yelling and kicking the ground and Lucy was wondering what in the hell was going on. Once we calmed for a bit, we got our wits about us and knew we had to call the police. Of course there's no cell phone coverage at the trail head, so we got all of the glass out of the car and headed to Estes Park. I immediately began canceling my bank cards while Eric went inside only to learn that the trail we were at is in a different jurisdiction and we'd have to call that department. Which we did.
The police arrived and kindly worked with us to fill out a police report and we headed back to Denver. We were told to find serial numbers of our electronics if we could but to not get our hopes up... these kind of cases don't really get solved. They've had some problems at that trail head before. Not very inspiring.
Once home I located my birth certificate, SS card, and expired passport (thank God). And then we began the tedious work of listing the contents of everything we lost (with dollar amounts... total loss? Nearly $6,000.), contacting insurance, rescheduling my next workshop in California, fixing the car window, replacing the stuff that we couldn't live without, and figuring out how I was going to get on a plane by the following Wednesday for a meeting in Seattle.
Total nightmare. Yes, it's just stuff (and I'll get to that), but it was A LOT of stuff. Including my journal. My personal journal. Ouch.
Once we started to catch our breath again, I went from hurt to rage and turned myself into Nancy Drew. Through iCloud on my Apple products, I was able to see the recent tabs on my iPad. And guess what? There was a Facebook page tabbed. I quickly took a screen shot of it and looked in my 'Find my iPhone app' again to find that my iPad was being used--at that very moment--in Estes Park. I frantically called the police and shared my discoveries and sat on my hands to prevent myself from driving up there and taking care of things myself. Unbelievable. Could they be so stupid?
The deputy informed me that she (of the Facebook page) wasn't at the location anymore (the public library, probably to get online) and they weren't sure they'd be able to find her as her address didn't seem to be correct. Because I continued my own personal investigation, I informed the deputy that I knew where she worked and who her husband was. This was good information and so the search continued.
Shortly after that time, I got a phone call from the deputy who was in HER house and was having me describe our belongings because everything appeared to be there. O.M.G.
After obtaining a search warrant, they found nearly everything else. My computer was still missing but they had Eric's bag, my bag, my wallet, my phone, my suitcase, the two iPads... a lot of stuff. The search for the computer (and camera bag, telephoto lens, and iPod) was still on, however.
Apparently, we may have uncovered a bigger crime ring. There are several felonies pending on these people and more people to locate and question and because of that, they have to hold our belongings as evidence. Dammit. I get it, but dammit.
I asked if I could pretty-please have my wallet back and they agreed so yesterday I drove to Ft. Collins to retrieve my ID, etc. As I was leaving the police station, the deputy called me to let me know that they found my computer. THEY FOUND MY COMPUTER! I sat in my car and cried for a minute (it's not about the computer, you guys, it's about the contents ON the computer... I hadn't backed up in about two weeks (I know, I know) and lost at least four major presentations... plus I wasn't comfortable with someone having access to my dissertation, work files, etc., etc). Again, it's going into evidence. The criminals don't have it but I don't have it yet either.
I've asked for permission to drive back up and copy the contents of the computer to my hard drive and it sounds like this will be able to happen on Friday. They also want my fingerprints for 'elimination prints' and hopefully will have more information as to when we'll get some of our belongings back... and what we really got back and what's still missing (clothes, shoes, journal, etc.).
Crazy, huh? The good guys win this time. It's all so surreal.
And sooooo, back to the lessons learned part... here's goes:
1. When tragedy strikes, the best words one can say are, "I am so sorry. That is terrible. Can I buy you a drink?" It's not the time for advice or 'You know what you should have done' suggestions, or finger-pointing. It's time for hugs and empathy and kindness. And drinks. We have the greatest friends in the entire world, I swear. All weekend long we heard, "I am so sorry. That is terrible. Can I buy you a drink?" and were were so thankful for this.
2. Even if you think you're being sneaky and hiding things in your car (or trunk), someone may be watching you do just that. Hide things BEFORE you arrive at your destination. I wonder if they didn't watch us put things in the back of the car knowing there was no cell coverage up there and that most likely, we'd be gone for at least an hour. Cause they even got the Garmin out of the glove compartment that I put there after we had parked at the trail head. Creepy. I truly believe they watched us the entire time.
3. Set up all security, passwords, iCloud, Find my iPhone apps, etc., etc., on every device you have, if remotely possible. Even if it costs money. And use them. It worked. It. Worked. I found the criminals. I found them because of technology.
4. People are generally kind. From the police officers to the cell phone salesman to the Apple saleswoman to the evidence technician to the suitcase salesman to the credit card operators, everyone was kind and compassionate and thoughtful in their commentary to us this weekend. The Apple saleswoman even hugged us. And I hugged her back. Hard.
5. Even if all of your make-up is returned to you, don't use it. The evidence technician told me that 'she' had put my make-up in with hers and was clearly using it. No, I do not want to put that on my face now. Thank you very much.
6. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we had too much stuff in the car, I didn't really NEED my computer that weekend, blah, blah, blah... I don't even want to get into those details. The truth is, we'd do things differently next time but it is what it is. At the end of the day, it's all OUR stuff and even if we had left everything on the dashboard and the front seat with blinkers on it, it wasn't theirs to take. Period.
7. I love my husband. While I stopped breathing and never stopped crying he stayed with me and kept us in forward motion. He went into his 'we're-in-control' mode and took over in ways that I wasn't capable of. He kissed my nose and hugged me hard and understood when I burst into tears at random times for three days in a row. He replaced everything I needed first, waiting to replace his own things later. While we missed our weekend away, we got another weekend to learn about the power of 'us' over any material possession and at the end of the day, if we have the two of us and Lucy, we don't need anything else. I really believe that.
8. You can't live scared. As I went into my scolding myself phase, my parents kindly reminded me that if we hadn't had all of that 'stuff' in the car, it would have been in our house and someone could have broken in here and taken it all while we were gone. It's just the truth. You have to be smart and thoughtful, but you also have to live your life. I never, not in a million years, would have imagined this would have happened at a trail head in the mountains. We live in Capital Hill you guys. You just can't assume anything.
9. I know this, you know this, but I'll write it anyway... back up your computer every. damn. day. I was relentless about this while working on my dissertation but I'd gotten a bit 'lazier' about this in recent months. It was about two weeks since my last back-up and so while I have MOST of my 'stuff,' I don't have ALL of my stuff. Yet. And that just sucks.Back. Up. Now.
10. There IS justice in the world. Thank God for slick technology, not so savvy criminals, and a responsive police department. The good guys won this time. Awe-some.
So this is a bit of a rip-off, I know. I'm a HUGE fan of the website www.1000awesomethings.com and I'm obsessed with my daily calendar that gives me one awesome thing to be thankful for each day (today: 'Do Nothing days'), which has led me to begin my own list of awesome things, which I'm renaming.
Things That Are Full of Awesome: