community · family

Local Bucket List & Neighborhood Surprises

One day earlier this week, Edgar and I drove to Hammerman Beach, a little beach on the Gunpowder River that is located in Gunpowder Falls State Park. Tamara and I have explored a lot of Gunpowder Falls, especially the section of river that runs through our area of Maryland, but not much of the eastern side of the park.

Today’s excursion was part of a little bucket list I’ve been writing in my head – things I want to do that are in my neighborhood. I’ve been thinking and writing about wanting to live more locally. (See my post on living local here!) I have a tendency to just sort of exist wherever I am – not really absorbing the world around me as thoroughly as I could. It’s one of the reasons I am a below-average tour guide. People ask me questions about the place where I’m living, and it’s rare for me to have the answers at my fingertips the way some excellent tour guides do.

Hammerman Beach isn’t exactly in my neighborhood, but it’s in Maryland, which is the state I’ve called home for ten years. TEN YEARS! That’s longer than I’ve lived anywhere other than New York. And while I’ve never been that into crabs or the Baltimore Ravens, I do enjoy getting to know the landscape and sights that are within a day’s drive. The beach was small, sweet, and beautiful; Edgar actually said the word “beautiful” for the first time, repeating after me as we looked out at the sparkling river.still-what-i-want-in-my-life-is-to-be-willing-to-be-dazzled-to-cast-aside-the-weight-of-facts-and-quote-1

Last weekend was another good chance to explore a local event. Our farm is about five minutes away from the New Freedom Farmers Market, but I’ve never attended; we don’t sell our produce there, and I didn’t realize just how close it was. Then a friend suggested that I attend an event held at the market once a year called Yogis Take The Park and IT WAS AMAZING. The vibe was very open, loving, hippie-esque – it reminded me of a lot of places I lived and visited in my twenties. I never thought I would find that kind of vibe so close to home. We have lots of great friends and neighbors who are open and liberal-minded, but I also am keenly aware that we live in the only district in Maryland that is represented by a Republican conservative. (FOR NOW. Election Day is November 6, 2018! Vote for Jesse Colvin!)

My local bucket list adventures will continue!  I’m so grateful to live in a place that has the familiarity of home and the potential for surprises.

blogging · family · parenting

May: Thoughts On Parenting

Yes! This May is the Month of Mommying on the blog.

I’ve started using an editorial calendar for the blog a few weeks ago, and I’m finding it a really helpful tool. Whenever I think of an idea for a post, I think about when it would be best to write and share on that topic, and I tentatively schedule a date for that post. What I’ve discovered is that thinking this way helps me to generate more ideas, and often a theme develops.

That’s what happened with May. I had a few ideas for posts that were related to parenting, and I figured that the month of Mothers’ Day would be a good time for that kind of content. Then, the more I thought about topics related to parenting, the more ideas came to me.

MAGIC.

I hope you enjoy this month of thoughts on parenting (with other subjects blended in there as well).  Happy May!

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http://www.cciweb.org.uk/may-update
family

How To Celebrate #heart

I have an up-and-down relationship with holidays and the celebrating of achievements, milestones, and special life moments. One of my recurring New Year’s Resolutions is to celebrate holidays and events in fun and meaningful ways.

This is something that’s important to me – celebrating. However, as is often the case with recurring resolutions – I’m not great at actually doing it.

I love celebrating – but I’m not a planner. I think that’s a big factor that gets in the way of my celebrating holidays and events in meaningful ways. My preferred way of life is being spontaneous, going with the flow, letting things happen naturally, and that doesn’t really work with being intentional and celebratory. I can’t have a birthday party with family and friends if I never invite them over. And – true story – I can’t dress Teddy in an adorable shamrock shirt on his first St. Patrick’s Day if I don’t think of it until halfway through the day on March 17th.

For the first year of Teddy’s life, I felt a little pressure leading up to each holiday. Celebrating holidays felt important – like something I want to do for my children, so they’ll have great memories of childhood celebrations. But I don’t always know how I want to celebrate. And then Tee and I have to line up our visions of how we want to celebrate, and have extensive discussions of what traditions we want to keep, to discard, to cultivate. In some ways, that part was easier before becoming parents; before Teddy, it was easier to just kind of blend our inherited family traditions together, without really having to make choices. Once kids are involved, everything gets more meaningful, more special, and also more complicated.

Funnily, the holiday that has stressed me out the most since adding Teddy to our family is Easter.

This is funny because, really? Neither Tee nor I care very much about Easter as a holiday. We both grew up religious, but don’t practice those family religions as adults. So our inherited family traditions don’t make sense. I remember dressing up in pretty dresses to go to church; but you don’t need fancy Easter clothes if your plans are just to eat chocolate and dye Easter eggs. Originally, I decided that we would just do nothing for Easter. It wouldn’t be one of our holidays. But then, one of my best friends, who is also not religious, mentioned something about getting ready for Easter with her kids.

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I zoomed in on her; I’m pretty sure I was being weirdly intense. “What do you do for Easter if you’re not religious?” I asked her.

“It’s pretty much just Secular Chocolate Basket Of Candy Day at our house,” she explained.

This was game-changing for me, but then it started to make me even more stressed out. If the holiday means nothing to me, then why are we even celebrating? I don’t love the idea of bringing a bunch of chocolate into our household; Tee and I will just end up eating it all and feeling gross. And I don’t want to buy a bunch of junky toys that Teddy doesn’t need, either. Also – this is a suppressed childhood memory that just re-emerged recently – dying Easter eggs is really, really boring.

A few things happened that helped me to feel better about our family plan for celebrating Easter:

-I remembered that Easter egg hunts are so, so fun, and are one of my favorite memories of my dad. I bought a few plastic Easter eggs for Teddy in early March, and we started ‘playing’ Easter egg hunt in the weeks leading up to Easter. He loved it and so did I.

-Tee had a great idea for a tradition, one we started last year – a bunny cake! Using edible spring flowers for decoration. SO CUTE.

-I realized that Easter can kind of be our flexible holiday – our plans can be more spontaneous and changeable. I have strong feelings about ways that I like to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for Easter, things can be a little more go-with-the-flow. (Especially given the weather variable! It snowed on the night of Easter this year.  SNOWED.)

-This is the big one. Tee suggested I start thinking of Easter less as its own holiday and more as the beginning of spring, which it usually is. I love this. When I think of Easter, I think of rebirth, rejuvenation – life – family – and the joy that comes at the end of a long, cold country winter. And the hope and excitement about a beautiful spring and summer to come.

So, I’ve made my peace with Easter, for now. On a related note, we had a Wild Peace Farm party for Earth Day this weekend, and I think I’ve decided that Earth Day will be my new favorite holiday. There are pretty much no expectations for Earth Day, since it’s not a very religious holiday or a holiday I celebrated growing up. It’s sweet, simple, and low stress – which is EXACTLY my kind of holiday.

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Los Alamos National Laboratory

 

 

community · family

Dreams Do Come True #heart #spirit

The giving and receiving of gifts is not one of my Love Languages.

(In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read a mini-summary of Love Languages in this old post.)

The whole ritual of gifts is, from beginning to end, stressful to me.  I get extremely stressed when someone watches me open a gift.  I worry about what my expression and body language will tell the gift giver about what I think of the gift.  I also worry that my worrying will prevent me from having a genuine reaction to the gift, so that even if I looooove the gift, I’ll end up flashing the gift giver an awkward smile instead of a genuine grin.

Ugh.  I can’t imagine any overthinker really enjoying the process of gift giving.  There’s too much to overthink.

I also get really stressed while considering what to buy for others.  I don’t like this about myself, but I get extremely overwhelmed, especially during the holidays.  There’s no way I can come up with a perfect gift, that is thoughtful, generous, and is something the person would never buy for themselves (my three key factors for an awesome gift) for EVERY SINGLE PERSON I buy gifts for!  I also hate the obligation of gift giving.  I love when no gift is expected and I can surprise someone with a gift I know they’ll love.  But that’s not the case during the holidays.  And the pressure that I have to buy SOMETHING gets in the way of my capacity for being inspired to buy something meaningful.

I don’t share this particular anxiety with a lot of people.  If I really let loose and share my internal monologue related to gift giving, I get a lot of weird looks and sympathetic smiles.  Because, this is madness, right?  The giving of gifts is supposed to be joyful.

Yeah.  For me, not so much.

However, when I DO buy a present that someone loves, I feel absolutely delighted. (This happened during Christmas 2017 and it made me SO happy!) And when someone manages to get me with a gift that’s thoughtful and surprising, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Tee knocked it out of the park this Christmas:

I. CAN’T. EVEN. BELIEVE. IT.

There’s a long running and biking trail that cuts right through our property.  And, coming in spring 2018, there will be a Little Free Library right here at Wild Peace Farm!

balance · family

Our Hygge Winter #heartsoulmindbody

Our life – mine and Tee’s and Teddy’s – is very hygge in the winter5da00b8c291135e47684be20bc3359ae--hygge-meaning-hygge-definitiontime.

We wake up, make coffee, and make sure the fire in our living room wood stove is roaring.  Teddy plays with toys near the Christmas tree and Tee cooks us pancakes for breakfast.  We read books – Tee is (finally) starting Book 10 in the Inspector Gamache series, and I’m in the middle of Shrill by Lindy West. We take turns reading Teddy his favorites – The Little Blue Truck, All The World, and Knuffle Bunny, currently. There’s a blanket on every chair and a cat ready to curl up on your lap for warmth and company.

Though I prefer spring, summer, and fall, I looked forward to wintertime a lot this year.  Tee gets extremely busy with the farm during the warmer weather, and it’s so nice to have her around more.  We’ve gotten a lot done around the house, especially during December in preparation for family visitors for the holidays.  Our weekends are more free and fun; every img_4063Friday, we figure out what fun (or, ugh, productive) things we can do with our free days.  During the summer our conversations are usually more along the lines of “how the hell are we going to do everything we need to do this weekend,” with limited time for simple fun or coziness or just BEING together, with no agenda or deadline.

The slower pace of wintertime is lining up well with my intentions for 2018.  Having more time and space allows me to be more intentional with my actions.  Our hygge lifestyle is conducive to curling up on the couch with my journal or my laptop to write.  I have successfully avoiding angst for the first five days of 2018, which is pretty much a miracle all by itself.  The one intention I haven’t honored yet is to meditate, unless you count swimming laps at the Y, which I DO so really I’ve nailed all of it.

It’s a slower, gentler time of year, with more time and space to just be me.  And I just love it.

 

family · snapshots · writing

SNAPSHOT #heartsoulmindbodyspirit

So much to do and SO LITTLE WRITING GETTING DONE.

My intention (and my hope) is to write every evening after Teddy goes to sleep.  Which is what I’m doing tonight.

It’s been a while.  Hence, a snapshot:

-I’ve been busily prepping for NaNoWriMo by working on a memoir every chance I get.  The novel I’m going to write during November is fiction, but I worry that I won’t be able to write really authentic fiction until I’ve written my life story.  When I’m writing fiction that has similarities to my real life, I start to get tangled up and confused – which is the truth, and which is the story?  So I’m writing out the facts – just the facts.  #mind #soul

-Lots of #heart food lately – visits with my mom, time with extended family, time with friends, and time with Teddy and Tee.

-Oh, #soul.  I’ve recently realized how powerful anxiety is in my life.  It twists and turns and churns, and it generally takes the form of an obsessive and draining need to seek something that I don’t have and can’t control.  (The adoption.  The perfect job.)  I am praying for the time and space to be able to address my anxiety through meditation, yoga, and radical self-care.

-Tee and I took a rare overnight trip to do some hiking and adventuring with Teddy recently.  It was lovely.  It’s hard to really relax and connect at home – there’s always so much on the farm and around the house that needs to get done.  A getaway was the perfect prescription to fall stress.    #heartsoulmindbodyspirit

-Hillary Rodham Clinton recommended a mystery novel to me, so I read it and so did my fellow Wild Peace Book Club members!  We haven’t read a book together for a long time, but who can say no to HRC?  The book is Still Life by Louise Penny, and it’s the first in a series of books featuring Inspector Gamache.  I’m halfway through the second book in the series, and loving it; I’ve been reading a lot of books about writing recently, and it’s a nice break to indulge in fiction.

So much to be thankful for.  #blessed

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family

What If I Forget? #heart

Alarms go off on my phone throughout the day, all day, every day.

I’m sure my co-workers love this.

I was chatting with a co-worker one day last week, and an alarm went off.  She immediately became concerned, kind soul that she is, that I had something important to do.  I talked my way around explaining to her that the alarm was telling me that I needed to move my Zeke’s Coffee K-cups from my desk drawer to my purse sometime in the next eight hours, a job that was in NO WAY urgent.

Why do I set alarms for small tasks like this?

Because I am worried that I will forget.  

There is a mild and silly version of this worry, and there is a deeper and more meaningful version of this worry.

I am constantly worried that I will forget something small – a thing I have to do, a story I want to write.  Last night, I spent two hours sorting through drafted posts on the blog, many of which were one line long, reading something like “story about a cactus with feet” or “remember to take everything one step at a time.”  I tend to have a thought, and then immediately try to record it somewhere so it won’t be forgotten forever.

This can be exhausting.f062b425bdf17d58915c9d0da25a3ded--tiny-buddha-positive-motivation

I forced myself to go through over 75 drafted posts last night, and I deleted many of the one-liners.  Each time, I had to reassure myself that either a) I wouldn’t forget, or b) if I forgot, it wasn’t that important.  Which is what I actually believe.

I spend a lot of time thinking about tangible habits that I want to form or break – drinking diet soda, exercising, writing.  But there are these invisible habits that we all have, some of which can be extremely helpful or harmful in their own quiet way.  Like being so afraid of forgetting that we have a running to do list in our heads, alarms set on our phones, notes in our notebook, and a planner full of post-its.

I’m tired and stressed just thinking about it!

And then, of course, there’s the deeper anxiety around this issue.

I am terrified of forgetting things about my dad.

I’m not known for having a good memory.  (SEE ABOVE!)  The way some people can recall the smallest details, the richest qualities of an experience – I often can’t even call up the simplest of memories.  I forget to take medicine, to brush my teeth, to eat lunch.  I forget appointments.  I forget to return phone calls or texts.  And I worry that this means I will forget a whole bunch of memories of one of the most important people in my life.

I remember unpacking soccer jerseys with him and pulling out the #2 jersey, since we knew that one would be mine.  I remember him telling me that someone left a bunch of T-shirts on our doorstep for my soccer team – it was years before I realized that my dad had specially ordered them after we’d lost a tough game, even though I was well-informed of my dad’s love for special-ordering T-shirts.  I have a vivid memory of having lunch with him at a Pizza Hut in between games at a travel tournament, though I have no idea where the tournament was or even which team I was travelling with at the time.  I remember driving with him on an open road in Florida weeks before he died, and listening to him tell stories about his cousins and encourage me to have adventures.

I get an Alexander Hamilton-esque obsessiveness as I start to type these memories.  (Why do you write like you’re running out of time?)  

I remember going out to dinner and my dad always finishing his meal first.  I remember him telling me that my mom looks good in peach.  I remember him hanging banners on our birthdays.  I remember him hugging me and saying “My baby!” in a funny voice.  I remember going to work with him on Take Your Daughter To Work Day and every Christmas Eve.  One of his co-workers asked me how I got stuck with him as my dad, and I explained that even if I’d gotten to choose, I would have picked him every time, and his co-worker laughed and gave me blank paper and highlighters to play with.

The brutal truth is that I won’t remember everything, and I can’t write down everything, and I may even forget some of the things I’ve typed here today.

And that has to be okay.  Because, as with all things, it is the way it is.  Writing helps.  Whether it’s my intention or not, memories of my dad pop into my writing every single day.  The simple act of recording may help to preserve these memories – or not.  That is not in my control.

I wonder sometimes if my anxiety about forgetting the little things is REALLY my anxiety about forgetting the big things – just manifested in a manageable way.

Then I decide to stop therapizing myself, at least for the moment.  I decide to have faith, to let it go, and to let it be.  And I decide to quit it with the alarms before one of my co-workers chokes me.

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