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February 2015

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 ...










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.


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.


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?
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.
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?




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.