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!

family · self-care

#heart #soul

This weekend, I spent Saturday in New York celebrating my cousin’s upcoming nuptials.  We spent the afternoon at a spa in Staten Island, where I had a 30-minute massage.

Why don’t I get massages every day?

The first time I ever got a massage was about ten years ago, and it wasn’t enjoyable.  I wasn’t very good at relaxing back then – I liked to be moving, to be going, to be engaging in something productive.  The massage felt more like a nuisance than a treat.

I’ve gotten much better at relaxing since that massage.  This weekend, it struck me that a massage can be an excellent tool for slowing down and being mindful.   It’s difficult to find ways to slow down; at least, for me it is.  Lately, I’ve been feeling scattered and all-over-the-place, looking for little ways to bring myself back to the present moment so that I can feel saner, calmer, and more peaceful.

Sidebar: One of my tricks is slowing my gait.  I have a tendency to rush around; I work in a school, and I find myself almost crashing into people when I turn a corner in the hallway.  I usually blame this on my innate New Yorker – we walk fast.  (When I was in college, you could always tell the East Coasters from the West Coasters; we’d be walking down the street, and the California kids would be at least twenty yards behind the New York/Boston/DC natives.)  It’s hard work, but when I am slowing myself down, I work hard to be mindful of each step – to stop at doorways – to pause at corners – to do one thing at a time, which is way harder than it sounds.

It was surprising to me, how effective the massage was as a forced slowdown.  When I feel stressed, it can be difficult to do things that help me to calm down – running, yoga, visiting a coffee shop – because they’re active.  A massage is as passive as you can get – and an amazing stress reliever and mind re-setter.  Who knew?

family · relationships

#heart

There’s been a lot of #heart food in my life recently.

-One of my AmeriFriends (I’ll call her Squid) came up to visit from D.C.!  We spent Friday evening eating tapas and catching up, and on Saturday she joined us at Wild Peace Farm for sunshine, swimming, and soul-soothing physical labor.heart

-One of my best friends in the world (no code name yet) has moved to Maryland for two years!  This is an amazing treat for me.  I moved to Maryland seven years ago and I expected to be here for four months.  Then I met Tee and slowly settled in, but for several years felt the absence of having a really wonderful close friend nearby.  The longer we’re here, the bigger and more wonderful our community becomes – but it’s really special to have a close friend just a short drive away.

family

#aunting #heart #soul

I’ve lived in Maryland for almost seven years, and I still never really think of myself as a Marylander.  I’m from New York originally, and ended up moving to Maryland to work for a season as a challenge course facilitator at an outdoor education center.  Then I met Tee and we fell in love and made Maryland our home.  🙂 For the first few years living here, I felt like an alien outsider with few friends.  (Wonderful friends – but few.)  Slowly, over the past five years or so, I’ve been building a community, making connections through work, farming, friends, and family.  heart

The very, very best thing about Maryland is having family close by.  When I left Virginia for Maryland, I was deciding between several different outdoor ed jobs – one in upstate NY, one in southern California, and one in Maryland.  My brother and my sister-in-law were expecting their first child at that time, and were living in Baltimore County; wanting to be around my new niece/nephew (spoiler alert: it was an adorable, curly-haired, smiley-faced nephew!) was my deciding factor.

NOW I have four adorable little ones – a nephew and three nieces! – to love in Maryland.  On Friday, I got to spend my afternoon and my evening with them.  The highlights were some floor time with my almost-three-months-old niece, who is smiling now, especially when she sneezes; playing a lively game of basement soccer with the four-year-old and the six-year-old; and snuggling with the 23-month-old, her head on my shoulder, scratching her back and singing to her softly.  Definitely #heart food.

balance · family

#heart

21heartSo much heart food this weekend!  Traveled to Houston for an AmeriFriend’s wedding, and got to spend lots of quality time with another AmeriFriend, who I’ll call Girafton.  🙂

The wedding was unlike any I’ve ever been to before, mostly because my AmeriFriend is Pakistani.  Several of her non-South Asian friends, myself included, wore saris for the wedding.  (THE most beautiful clothing I’ve ever seen before.  Seriously – the amount of staring I did at all these beautiful dresses was socially inappropriate.)

Our friend looked beautiful – amazing.  And Girafton and I got to have crazy fun catching up and dancing like fools. Definitely #heart food!

family

#heart #IdentificationOfTerms

This past week or so, there have been lots of opportunities for #heart:

-My brother and his family coming over for a Memorial Day cookout.  (My mom, in town from NY, came, too!)

-A dinner date with an AmeriFriend, who is getting married in two weeks!

-Catching up with a Genesee friend over a day on the farm and dinner at home.

-My sister stopping by the Catonsville Farmers Market, en route to Philly from DC.

-Meeting our friends’ three-week-old baby yesterday at market!

Each of these meetings and moments has been special and lovely.  And I anticipate more #heart moments to come!

Writing this has made me realize it would be helpful to have some shorthand for different experiences I’ve had, since I often will make references to how I know someone rather than using their name.

IDENTIFICATION OF TERMS

AmeriFriend: I completed two years of community service with AmeriCorps, during which I met some of the funniest, most adventurous, and most wonderful friends in my life.

Genesee: Tee and I met at an outdoor education center in northern Baltimore County; groups of children, adolescents, and adults would come to Genesee for a day of team-building activities.  Many of our friends also worked at Genesee, and a lot of couples we know actually met working at Genesee.  (We got married there, too!)

balance · family

#heart #body

Tee and I have had a crazy spring; there’s been a lot happening, and we’re hoping that a lot more change and craziness is in our near future.  (!!!)  Recently, Tee made a suggestion after we finished dinner.

“Why don’t we go for a short walk?”

I really hope that this becomes a family tradition that we maintain for years and years, because I love it.  Our schedules have been a little off these past few weeks; Tee eats dinner at five o’clock, and I usually get home at 4:30ish and then go for a jog around our neighborhood, returning after she’s already finished eating.  Going for an evening walk has been our time together, to talk about our f452c770a61461cd05958c8b2924683fdays and to really pay attention to each other’s stories.  Too often, when we’re sitting in our house and chatting, one or both of us will get distracted by something – the laundry’s done, this item needs to be put away, etc.  While we’re walking, we have the other’s complete attention.

Additionally, I’ve always thought that going for a walk is a nice, gentle way to get some exercise, especially on days when I feel too busy or unmotivated to go running.  But, unless I have a destination, it’s sometimes weird to go for a walk solo.  With Tee, I’m getting some fresh air, some exercise, and some quality time with my love.