in summary:

ten days before july ends and we start the lightning-fast slide to the end of summer, here is a brief look at where we are and what we've accomplished in the past two months.

to recap:

harper's room was going to get a new look

henry's room was going to get a refresh

something about shelves in the basement

veggies in the garden

 

as of today, we've accomplished precisely zero of those things.

unless you count three tomato plants and the herbs.

 

so what HAVE we been doing?

well ...

 

henry swims at 8 a.m. daily for 2-2.5 hours, at either a pool that is 15 mins away, or a pool that is 45ish mins away (depending on traffic).

 

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after swimming, there is a one hour or so time gap until he needs to go to work.

dude's a lifeguard:

 

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marc traveled literally all of june.

 

harp WAS swimming ...

 

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but kept having stomach issues, so she opted to sit out the rest of summer.

those stomach issues? last week they became a seven-hour visit to the emergency room, during which time she had not only a blown vein while trying to get her iv started, but both an ultrasound and a CT scan to check her liver, gall bladder, appendix. verdict? high likelihood of a ruptured ovarian cyst. poor kiddo.

 

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other than that, she had a sewing camp for a week,

 

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got some new socks,

 

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and is now in summer band.

 

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on the few days that henry doesn't work, he's usually either doing summer homework or out pokehunting with friends.

 

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and just yesterday we finally managed to make it to the dmv so he could take his driving test.

he passed.

now we have to let him drive.

 

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which ... remember what i said about 8 a.m. swim practices?

and one night i got to do something fun: i went to see brandi carlile and the avett brothers with my friend, sue.

 

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and right as the concert was starting, i got a text from my mom that my grandma had passed away.

 

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sooo ... yeah. fun stuff.

summer's been super productive and relaxing.

we have a very fun trip coming up, though, and then: school.

and then, maybe, i can get stuff done around the house.

 

how does it all keep going so fast?!

 

 

 

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it's here

the day i've been dreading for nine months has arrived, no matter how much i willed it to not happen.

it's the last day of school.

not that i'm not looking forward to having more time with the kids. (though, any introvert worth their salt will tell you that alone time is a must if we are to function and get through the day.) but ...

this last day of school is too big for me to take in right now.

this kid ...

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today is her last day of elementary school.

this is the last time she will climb onto the bus as a little kid.

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and in three months, these buddies will separate into two different middle schools.

where they will be middle schoolers.

i mean, what the heck?!

who said they could grow up??

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and as hard as that is to take, it pales in comparison to this guy ...

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who will be a junior in the fall.

a junior.

who will drive himself to school. no more bus. today was the last time.

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just ... nope. can't think about it yet.

makes my heart hurt.

i now have three and a half hours to enjoy the silence, gather my emotions, drink some coffee, and put on my big girl panties so i don't have tears in my eyes when they get home.

i mean, when the littlest kid gets home.

because the big kid is going to a pool party for the rest of the day with friends. and the girlfriend. and he'll get a ride home.

and i just can't.


well THAT escalated quickly

one month ago, i wrote that we were almost done with swimming - sectional finals were that night, maybe state ... we were close to a break.

well ...

we had sectional finals. henry was sitting in a great spot going into the meet. and then right before warm-ups, he was in the bathroom and a teammate kicked the stall door in ... literally onto henry's head. a one-plus-inch bleeding gash in the top of his head. when the coach finds you and says, "have you talked to henry? i don't think he needs stitches, but you might want to check on him ...", you know it isn't good.

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we got the bleeding to stop, but he was off his game for the meet. while his individual events suffered, he brought it when it came time for the relays.

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he helped his teams place fourth in one relay and second in the other, earning spots at state the following weekend.

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so another week of swimming later, we went to state. and to make it more fun, it was the same weekend that harper swam at the minnesota regional championships. and my parents came up so they could cheer on both kids. we watched five different meets over three days. it was amazing.

(that was sarcasm.)

but actually, it WAS amazing, because the kids did an awesome job. henry got bumped from one of the relays so four seniors could swim it, which felt right even though it was a bummer. (and henry used that free time to provide comic relief. as always.)

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but he kept his spot in the 400 free relay, and they placed fifth in the state.

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and harper swam seven events in two days, and dropped time in all but one.

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but wait!! there's more!!

henry had gotten so close to a junior nationals cut time in three events (he actally HAD gotten the times, but in relays, so they didn't count) that he jumped back to club swimming to ALSO swim MRCs the day after state ended, time trialing to see if he could get the cut in any of the events. he ended up .3 seconds away in the 50, and .2 away in the 100. close, but not enough.

which meant the following weekend we went back to the pool at the university of minnesota so he could swim at senior state to try and get those cuts. and on saturday, he got one: 48.25 in the 100 free ... .3 faster than the needed time.

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he was beyond thrilled and so proud of himself. which, he should have been. he wanted it, and he made it happen.

but that meant that on saturday afternoon, we had to make plane tickets and a hotel room in florida happen, because junior nationals would start three days later.

sunday was a quick shopping trip, when we realized henry had no shorts that fit, monday was laundry, and tuesday ...

well, tuesday was harper's 11th birthday.

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we had breakfast, then henry and i headed to the airport. (and i felt just awful. how do you pick one kid's event over another? ugh. unwinnable choice, right there.)

for the next five days, henry swam in four individual events (the one he made the time for, and three bonus events) and five relays at junior nationals. which is crazy. he's been swimming less than five years, and he made it to junior nationals. that felt like kind of a big deal. we were down there with 12 other kids, the coaches, a few of the parents, and it was a really fun experience.

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the 15-16 boys relays placed fourth in one relay, and fifth in another, which i thought was a pretty great way to walk out of the meet. and henry is already focused on getting more cuts for more events next year. the kid has goals, now, and he's focused.

which means he's growing up. and that's both weird and exciting.

the past two weeks have been pool-free, which lasts until ... well ... monday.

and then off we go again.


self-imposed break

so - hiya.

i've been taking a break from blogging, but not for any sort of big secret reason. i've just been too busy.

there are a million things to do during the day ... really exciting things like laundry! and cleaning the kitchen!! and making food for my family, who never stops eating!!

we've been spending our lives at the pool over the past three months, between high school season and harper's club season. but that is finally winding down. tonight is high school sections final, and this guy ...

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is in two relays, in 16th place in the 500 free (which isn't even an event he does well with or *likes*), and is in 9th in the 200 freestyle - and about a second away from a state cut in that event. he really wanted this to be his year to make it to state in an individual event, he just thought that event would be the 50 free or the 100 free; the 200 and 500 were never on his radar. but he's put his head down and worked hard to make the most of new events, and it is paying off in the 200.

(truth be told? i'm nearly sick to my stomach with anxiety for him. i want him to make the cut SO. BADLY. his heart was a bit broken when he found out he wouldn't be swimming his best/favorite events this season, and he felt a little blindsided by that. and to get so close in a different event ... well ... you mamas know how it is. you want your kids to succeed and reach their goals, especially when they work so hard, and for him to do it in an event he never considered would be so amazing. i'm definitely a ball of nerves going into finals night, though ... i mean, one second!! one! gah!!)

and if he doesn't make the state cut? well, he'll attempt another event at the club regional championships next weekend, and he should have three events at club state - and maybe some relays? - in two weeks. and then he's free until may.

and this girl?

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she has a full line-up this weekend at the minnesota achievement champs, a busy weekend next week at the regional champs, and then she will get a break until may.

which means we ALL get a break until may!

dinner at a regular time! homework finished before 1 a.m.! no more loads of towels and swim suits and warm-ups in the laundry every three days! no more weekends of bleacher butt!

and in between all of this swimming, henry turned 16 (more about that soon ... i'm still processing ...) and went to another dance with his girlfriend. yup ... they are still going strong!

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sadly for them, now that he will finally be able to have some time to spend with her, she starts softball and won't have time for him. it's probably why they're still together ... they never, actually, get to spend time together. and isn't that really how we decide we don't like people anymore? by spending time with them?

is that just me?

and coming in march is harper's birthday (11! seriously ... kids grow up too damn fast.) and a visit from my parents and spring break, after all that swimming.

(the ides of march are looking pretty attractive this year.)

and then i will be back.


another reminder

all last year, i freaked out about the whole "my kid is in high school!" thing. the idea that henry is almost out the door and on his way into adulthood - and into the years when he doesn't need us and won't be around - doesn't exactly fill me with glee. but for the most part, his freshman year looked a whole lot like middle school: same friends, same swim teams, same interests, no major changes.

then his sophomore year arrived.

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and with it, hours a day spent on homework (i mean, pre-calculus? who is this child??) drastically increased, making time to let him drive the car became a thing, and ... then there was a girl.

it started with:

 

him: is it okay if i go to homecoming?

me: game or dance?

him: dance.

me: of course. why wouldn't it be okay?

him: well ... wouldn't i have to get a suit or something?

me: are you thinking of taking a girl?

him: ... maybe.

 

and then he DID ask the girl. and she said yes. and then he asked her out for a date before the dance to make sure they were comfortable together. and then they decided to label themselves a "couple".

this is so, so new. and different.

but she's an adorable girl, and they seem to really get along well. and the dance came, and with it plans to hang out with friends before and after, and they had a great time (from what i hear).

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these are great kids. and i know they will have great times in the next three years. and it's fun to see them becoming young adults ... especially the ones i've known since they were in first grade.

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but it's all just another reminder that they are growing up. and it's fun to watch.

but it also kinda hurts.


opening up to the universe

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as we get closer to the mid-point of the year, i'm realizing that this has been a hard one on me. i'm exhausted. i feel beat down. depression that i've controlled and kept in its cage for a dozen years has tried desperately to escape and chase me down. i've let go of relationships that do nothing but hurt me, and have tried to be mindful to nurture the ones that build me up. i've also learned to become more vocal about my needs and concerns, and advocate for my own well-being and desires alongside everything i do for everyone else.

now that i am in my 40s and have one child who is getting ready to leave the nest in the next few years, it has started to sink in that i have no idea what is next. 20 years ago, i had it all planned out. super organized, hyper-focused, type-a ... i had a goal and by god i was going to get to it.

and then i didn't.

i can't tell you where i went off the rails, but somehow i started to put the needs of others ahead of my own - my husband's career and ambitions, my kids' schedules, etc. ... everything else seemed to need my attention more urgently than anything i wanted. and suddenly, it's 20 years later, my husband is a success, my kids are great, and i'm left looking at the rest of my life and wondering, "now what?"

it all came to a head a few weeks ago. marc and i were having our typical bi-annual "disagreement", and - bless his heart - he was trying his best to be a help and be supportive. but the problem was, he didn't know what needed to be helped or supported, so i heard his words as patronizing and clueless. which, of course, didn't help anything.

and i heard myself saying the words, "sometimes i just want out."

in all honesty: i don't. i don't want out. i love my husband, i love my kids, and i love my life. however, i am not IN any of it. i am stage crew, in the black shirt, invisible in the dark yet maneuvering all of the ropes and props that makes those on stage look flawless. and i sit there in the darkness, going through the checklist of all the things i do well, and think, "what the hell?? why am i doing nothing with the talents i've been given? i'm in my 40s and have nothing to show for it."

yes, i have a lovely family and a lovely home and i can make a kick-ass pot roast. and if that was all i'd wanted for my life, then that would have been great. but it isn't. i wanted more.

somehow, my subconscious figured it out before i did, and in the middle of sobbing, i confessed to marc, "this isn't who i was supposed to be."

turns out, it's not that i want "out" of my life ... i want "in".

i'm not a 1950s housewife. i never relished the idea of being a stay-home mom, whose day revolved around my children. deep down, i know i am capable of more, and have just never done it out of fear that putting myself first would look bad. or that i might be good at something and would then have to sustain that. my life hasn't been full of successes or praise, so i think i'm genuinely confused by it and scared of it when it happens. so i don't let it happen very often, and don't offer up my best for fear that it will raise expectations that i am bound to dash. and then i'll be right back where i started, only more disappointed.

there are times when i wish i could start over, make different choices, follow a different path. but i can't. instead, i need to find inspiration in fearless women like julia child, who was nearly 40 when she said, "you know what? i'm gonna go to cooking school."

there is a lot of maneuvering that would need to take place in my life in order for me to pursue anything - marc still travels, we still have no family nearby to help out with the kids, henry doesn't yet drive, there is still school and transportation and swimming and meals, et cetera, to work around. and much of that is why i haven't done anything for or with myself. i don't want the kids to get the short end of the stick when there are so few years left with them. i know many families in which both parents work and yet they manage to coordinate the kids' schedules. however, in most cases, either they have family nearby, and/or they are both home in time for activities. if marc is in dallas or san diego or boston, he can't by home by 5:00 to be part of the swimming/meal/homework/bedtime conveyor belt.

which is the wall i beat my head against every time. there are hours in my day when i could do something, but i haven't figured out what to do when that "something" butts up against all of the roadblocks in my way. and in his desire to help, marc suggests, "i'm sure there is something you could do for a few hours a day, something that would reconnect you with adults." but it has nothing to do with being with adults; i don't need to be with adults. truthfully, i don't need to be with people. and i don't want a job for "something to do"; i want something to do with my life. that's different than part-time at starbucks.

or maybe i just learn to let go of the frustration and discontentment, and make peace with the fact that in this lifetime, i didn't get to be what i thought i might be. i'll get to my late 40s and find a hobby instead of a career. play the cards in my hand instead of reshuffling. but then i wind up at the end of my life wondering why i didn't do more with it when i had the chance.

i know where my passions lie, the trick is figuring out what to do with them, and how to get over the hurdle that i have placed in front of myself, the one that says, "if you don't do it the right way then you are a fake, a poseur." i've been so convinced my entire life that action requires education and preparation, but maybe that isn't the case? i read this post today and it screamed at me in the way that only a serendipitous message from the universe can.

i just need to do. where i am, with what a i have.

stop putting off, stop feeling unworthy, stop feeling unprepared.

just DO.

if it's meant to be, a way will show itself, right?

the inertia needs to be replaced by excitement and possibility, and that will all start when i stop being afraid to say, "this is what i want and this is what i need."

i'm an adult; i've earned the right to stand up for myself and make the rest of my life what i want it to be. and i need to take ownership over the skills i have, work hard to teach myself what i need to know better, and put myself out there. because the universe may speak to me, but if i keep it to myself, then i have only myself to blame.


huh.

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so ... did you all know that easter is this weekend? am i the last person to be aware of this?

just checking.

in other news: i shall be taking harper shopping for nice shoes this week.

carry on.


palette cleanser

it's been the year month week from hell, and thankfully it's now friday.

yesterday, i played complete hooky. i was so over all of the stress and heartache and major things going down in our world that i just hit the snooze button on life for the day. once the kids were fed and on their way to school, i made myself some breakfast and settled into the couch to watch tv ("designing women" - god, i loved julia sugarbaker - and, did you know bobby flay has a show all about brunch?! i'm all over that.), then headed upstairs for a bubble bath. after that, marc had some free time, so we headed to edina, where we had a delightful lunch at barrio, then i dragged him through anthropologie and paper source. birthday credits that expire next week were burning a hole in my pocket, and there never seems to be enough time to run out and shop just for fun. an hour later, i had a kitchen towel, candle, recipe box, spoon rest, and birthday gift for my mom, and a smile on my face.

we got home, harper got home, she started her homework and i started a little nap. when i woke up, she was still doing homework, and immediately launched into the What's Wrong With Harper Today? game. Tired of dealing with it still, i called the doctor, got her an appointment, and dragged her into the pediatrician's office to run yet another test and either a) find something we can fix, or b) call her bluff. as with the previous two visits in the past two weeks, she's 100% fine and healthy. just, apparently, batshit crazy. (we've also been to the therapist twice, chiro twice, talked to her teacher numerous times, she's been out of school for a day, i've driven her to/from school nearly every day and dealt with the sobbing fit and clinging as i try to extricate myself and shove her into the school before the bell rings. and from what she says, there is nothing at school that is bothering her. her teacher says she's happy and fine once she gets to class. it's just for me, this little routine. i feel so friggin' blessed.)

so, finding her healthy - still, we popped into a quick dinner (she ate a bowl of edamame. seriously. on top of everything else she's putting us through, she's also on a hunger strike.), headed home, and it was bedtime. amazingly enough, she seemed to go to bed without incident for the first time in weeks ... we talked, we snuggled, i read her a chapter of "little women." it was good, and i felt optimistic. until she came downstairs with new things to complain about an hour later.

ooooooooohhhhhhhhmmmmmmm ...

regardless, it was a lovely day. much needed.

this morning started, again, with her complaints. and it's friday. and i have things to do this afternoon. but to center myself and calm my nerves, i've been pinning and drinking coffee. finding my bliss, so to speak.

here's what's blissful right now ...

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it's becoming apparent to me that i'm craving a more spare, black/white/neutral palette. time to get the christmas stuff put away strip down to the bones of our rooms and edit a bit. these winter/life blues need to get shaken out so we can all find more calm and peace. it's a necessity at this point.


new.

it's a new year, in more ways than one.

yes, the calendar rolled over. but beyond that, my personal calendar rolled over (41, thankyouverymuch), my mindset rolled over, things in our household have been rolling and tumbling and trying to figure out where to click into place.

as with every year, i started january 1st with the best of best intentions: i made my planner, wrote down my list of things that needed to get done, wrote down my list of things i wanted to get done, made a menu plan and a grocery list, filled out the calendar with all of the swimming dates and times, appointment dates and times, marc's travel schedule, etc.

and then it all went to hell.

really.

we're 13 days into the new year, and pfft. just like that.

i'm not going to go into detail, but suffice it to say we're dealing with some major stress in our house right now, and it has gotten me off my game completely. the schedule is gone, all of the planning was for nothing, my mood sucks, i'm turning to ben & jerry for comfort when i had planned very carefully to have time for exercise and clean food.

but you know what? a whisper in the back of my mind reminded of the philosophy that i would tell clients when they wanted to book a photo session, then stressed over their coordinated outfifts and perfect location. i would say, "this is real life. come as you are. i just want to see YOU! and how YOU are together."

and then i realize: i'm not 29 anymore. i have wrinkles on my forehead and am no longer a size 8. there are days when i literally want to run away. my husband is no longer muscled and fine, and has become a voice of criticism when what i really need is appreciation and patience. my daughter is a handful of stress and anxiety and frustration. (and also joy and laughter and love. but right now? the other stuff.) my son ... well, he's actually doing well. except he's going to be gone in three and a half years and that is too hard for me to accept most days.

there are all these things that could push me over the edge and depress me daily. instead? i need to remember: this is real life. this is US. this is who we are right now, in this moment.

we had made tentative plans last fall to head to southern california for spring break this year. i didn't care where we went or what we planned; my only requirement was: family photos with tara whitney. she just GETS people, and i want that. need that. we haven't had family photos taken since henry was three, and that was just a posed portrait in a studio. as much of an advocate as i am for getting the photos and being in them, i have failed my own family. so: california. tara. and i thought, i have seven months to get in shape, look better. if we're going to finally do this, i want to look like ME again.

except? i've done nothing toward that goal. life has been way too intrusive, and i've been way too tired. but also? i do look like me. maybe not the me in my memory, but the me who i am right now. and i need to learn to love her again.

on my birthday, i had more than 100 well-wishes and beautiful messages on facebook from dear friends who took time out of their day to send me a message. and i realized, i am loved. no matter how i am feeling or how hard days can be, or how long i can go without actually seeing friends in person and being present in our friendship, i am loved. and it isn't because i'm a size 8 or have a successful career or perfect children. it's because of my flaws. they make me who i am. and the trick is to remember that no one is perfect, and we love each other because of those imperfections, not in spite of them. they are the things that make us real to each other, and real in our friendships.

and then i was thinking of our family photos and remembered something i had seen on tara's blog awhile back. something that spoke so loudly to me:

Well your body shows up every day, every breath and tries. Really hard.
Despite donuts, pop, chips, coffee or pie.
It shows up and puts out effort for you.
And if after every heartbeat, step, every breath, and grocery bag lifted, you have the nerve to say
“Why aren’t you thinner, or rounder or longer, or lusher, or more radiant?” then I think you need to take a long look at the way you treat the best friend you have, your body.
Your legs are shorter than a supermodel? But they carry you?
Rejoice.
You have 50 bones in your feet, paint those toes!
You have hips that sway and a belly that houses the mechanical miracles that ensure that the odd carrot or glass of milk turns into what you need to keep going.
Give your lungs a walk in the air.
Give your hair a shake.
Stop being a bitch to your best, best, only best friend.
Be grateful, be mindful, show some friendship to your parts of your partner.
It is not your body’s responsibility to decorate the world for the gaze of others. It is not a guarantee of love or an advertisement of your worth.
Seriously.
You are not your ass, your hair or your dress size
Take care what you put in it, where you run it or walk it, and treat it with the love you’d give to a helpless baby.
No one else is going to do it if you don’t.

-The Speech From The Crone

 

i mean, really. right?

and extrapolating more deeply: we are not our current situation. we are not the stress in our home. we are not the frustrations and ugly cry and ben & jerry's and swearing and hiding away. we give and give and give, and sometimes good things come back. sometimes not. and that's life. but it's LIFE. there will always be bad and ugly and stressful and sad. but there is also joy and beauty and laughter. and that's what gets us through the other stuff. so we need to embrace it.

i need to embrace the current environment, because right now it needs an embrace. it needs to be told that it will all be okay. and even if it isn't okay, that's okay, too. i need to look at myself in the mirror not with a critical and disappointed eye, but an eye that says, "who cares. you are healthy and smart and loved and who the fuck cares if you are no longer built like an athlete? that only matters to YOU. no one else cares."

and if life isn't run like a neat checklist, with schedules and plans and tick marks beside all of the things i accomplished in a 12-hour period, then so be it.

life is dynamic. we have to roll with it, not contain and control it. embrace it rather than smother it. "it is what it is" may be a philosphy, but so is "peace."


2015: the 'to do' list

lately, i've been preoccupied with the "have to" items ahead of me, and it occurred to me that if i look at everything as a "have to" i will get overwhelmed and throw in the towel because i feel like i can't get it all done in the manner and/or timeframe in which i want them done.

i've begun to jot down rough drafts of the sort of daily/weekly/monthly planner that would make all of those lists bite-sized and therefor less intimidating and overwhelming. i'm just about ready to make the pages i need and print it out and get going.

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during the process, though, i've realized that a) i miss writing things down in a planner that i can flip through and organize and change ... i'm just not a "gadget" girl; and b) i need to see both the big picture as well as smaller lists that feel doable; the have to and need to and want to items.

back in the day (college) i was attached to my day planner like it was my lifeblood. in fact, it kind of was. keeping track of school work, work schedule, deadlines for the school paper, activities, volunteer hours, etc., was mandatory. i had a large month-by-month calendar on my desk for further out deadlines (the "big picture"), but i also had my book-sized day planner that didn't leave my side. it included multi-color highlighters for different things, multi-colored sticky notes, and every last bit of information i could possibly need at a moment's notice. i was hyper-organized.

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marc mocked me a bit for it, but i didn't care. i needed that book like it was crack.

after graduation, my planner became much lighter. while i needed to keep track of work and life things and wedding planning, i no longer had all of the class and social commitments. and five months later, when we were married and moved to minnesota, i had literally nothing to write down. i got out of the habit of needing my organizer. i moved from an extrovert, super Type A person to a much less organized, much less harried, much more "relaxed" personality. marc's laid-back nature began to rub off on me once we started living together, i didn't find a permanent job right away in minneapolis so i had less to schedule, and we had no friends or family with whom to make plans. i tucked myself into our apartment and went days without any real need for a plan.

that became a bad habit. even when i did start working, my heart wasn't in it. i no longer felt the drive i had felt only a year before. all of my big ambition and plans went out the window, and i became - literally - a shadow of who i had been and who i thought i would be.

we bought an old fixer upper in a downtown neighborhood and i briefly became Motivation Girl again, but then was surprised with a pregnancy that kept me sick and tired most days. after that, motherhood, choosing to stay home, post-partum depression ... i became a shadow again.

now, i'm no longer a shadow, but rather a blur. the calendar is once again full of things, but they are things like the kids' swimming schedule, marc's travel schedule, people needing to come to the house to fix something or install something or have access to something, and i am the one trafficking it all. so while the need for organization has come back to the forefront, my own personal ambition still has not.

but that changes this year. this year? i To Do like a mothereffer. and to be solid with that? i need a planner.

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i'm ready. i'm psyched. i'm pumped. in fact, i'm a One Little Word flunky, but this year?

 

motivation

 

that's my word. i'm going to put it where i can see it daily. i'm going to live and breathe it. 2015 is going to be the leanest, meanest, most streamlined and efficient year yet. and i have to think that all of that lean, mean efficiency will remind me of who i am and who i was meant to be.