Monday, January 20, 2014

Why do you write?

I'm almost done writing six stories in less than two weeks. Five of them weren't particularly difficult of articles, but that last one really called upon my entire being and all my brain cells. That's on top of a full-time job as a magazine editor. I know what you're thinking: Oh, the glamour. Oh, the excitement.
You're half right. I'm naturally curious, so any chance to take on an assignment I'm unfamiliar with, I can't but help but get a shiver of excitement. I was the kid who tried things just for the mere reason to know how they work and consider that itch scratched. I remember one dreadful experiment I conducted without much forethought: What do party streamers do when wet? Do they stay crinkled? How do they come in such brilliant colors? My vessel was a brand-new jewelry box. A gift, I'm sure, from said party. I can't remember exactly my mom's reaction, but the results: wet streamers are bleed their colors since they're dyed, creating a gross, fragile mess and ruining the interior of the jewelry box. Curiosity fulfilled. Hopefully the punishment was to. Also: I was five.
When I wrap up my writing assignments I take time to reflect. It's a really critical process that's best done with a glass of wine, or two. Writing is not for the sensitive of heart. Writing is not for the disorganized. Writing is not for the uninterested. Curiosity has to burn in your soul.
Why do I write? My answer has changed over the phases of my life. I discovered I loved writing my junior year of high school. My prose back then was primarily brilliant moody poetry full of teenage angst. Too bad the literary mags didn't think so. My junior year I received around 15 rejection letters, but I persevered.
In college, I toyed with continuing my literary love and becoming an english major. This was after I royally failed my first class toward becoming a speech pathologist, a career I picked out of the list of majors offered at my school. {I told you, I'm very curious. And by royally failed, I got a C. Ouch.} I hadn't heard of anyone making money with an English degree, so naturally I opted to become a journalist.
Now I write to see what I can do. I write to explore the world around me. Every phone interview is like getting on a plane all by yourself to destination unknown and trying to learn the language from the locals. This year I'm 10 years almost fluent, and sometimes I wonder that I wouldn't make a better scientist. I'd probably burn the lab down. Time for glass number two of vino.

Friday, January 17, 2014

My freelance black hole has Starbucks and a new scarf

I've been sucked down the freelance writing vortex again. The black hole of my social and blogging life. But the black hole does have a Starbucks, which I've been living off of. Have you tried the new caramel flan latte. Sounds gross, but it's pretty good. It's no caramel brûlée latte, which I really enjoyed over the holidays {in the little red cups}. Go give it a try if you want something different. I also decided to accept the Starbucks Via challenge. I bought the vanilla latte flavor. I hated it. Couldn't even stand to take more than three little sips. Jonathan, on the other hand, said he liked it, which was surprising. So I guess he'll be enjoying the three packets I still have left. I'm not sure I'll try the Caffe Mocha flavor, especially when my new make-at-home coffee routine is to use up some hot chocolate packets we received as a Christmas gift. I dump in a packet, add strong coffee, and a touch of milk for my own cafe mocha creation on the cheap.

And because I'm saving so much money making my cafe mochas, I hired a barista for days I can't make it to Starbucks. He has a steep learning curve ahead of him.

To perk myself up I splurged and bought a navy scarf at Target. I love navy. What I like about this scarf is that it has some geometric texture and little navy metallic threads running through it that make it a little bit more surprising than just a plain scarf. I've worn it almost everyday, probably breaking a million fashion rules in the meantime just because it makes me so happy—and motivated. I need motivation like I need coffee right now—all the time. I don't see the scarf on Target's website and I'm not even sure of the brand. 

When I wasn't writing this week, I was constructing snowmen for Vincent. He's obsessed with the snowman series by Caralyn Buehner. I tell people I read them for the art.


This has been my week. Three screens all doing different things as I climb my way out of the writing vortex. On the plus side, I'm now schooled on reshoring, which is one of the most likely economic trends in 2014 to grow. Buy American!


It was a week for selfies. Really I take these pictures for my sisters who I text all day every day. This was my grandmother's shirt. It's vintage Bill Blass. I don't have a hang of how to wear it yet since the cut isn't anything like the modern cut and fit of today's button-up shirts. I love the sweet delicate floral pattern. It looks so good with my riding boots—almost like I might go riding!

Vincent in his Monster Jammies. Today was jammie day at school and who else but Mike Wazowski would do? Actually Vincent seemed a little disturbed to be taking off one pair of jammies to put on another. I thought I might not be able to convince him to wear them and was even pulling out an outfit when he changed his mind. Oh, to be a toddler. So stressful. I'm glad he decided to wear them since everyone in his class was in jammies, including his teachers. I should have worn jammies.


I finally got around to getting a haircut. OK, it was more like a trim, but the new haircut has bangs. I'm trying to play it cool and let them hang in my face like I just don't care. No, actually, I tucked them behind my ear .02 seconds after this picture. Why was I thinking I could handle bangs in my eyes? On the plus side, Jonathan thinks they look good, so there's that.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Coveting and clearing

The day after Christmas I seriously wanted all the Christmas decor out, out, out. And with much hope and ambition, I did start taking it down right away, but sadly, because I wanted to reorgnize the way I put away the ornaments (I'm getting rid of all those little ornament boxes), it took longer than expected. Tonight we finished pulling down the ornaments we hung from the foyer ceiling and took down all three of the little trees. It feels good to open the house back up. If only it were spring, but alas it's supposed to be 1 degree here. Yuck! With everything taken down it's made me realize how much my walls need art and furniture, and ceilings need new light fixture. One day I'll be brave and just tackle it! But here's the quick list of things I'm hoping to get done this year:
• paint the office
• replace the kitchen light fixtures
• buy a buffet
• buy art/get professional photography done and hang up in dining room and living room
• replace bathroom sink faucets
• paint bathrooms
• possibly tile bathrooms (the lino is holding up well for the most part but one part is starting to peel in one of the bathrooms so we might wait until we see noticeable cracks like we've witnessed in the same lino in our neighbor's house
• clear out the basement and give away tons of crap living down there
• buy outdoor dining set
• buy a rocking recliner for bedroom.

The rocking recliner might be something we tackle soon. We looked this weekend and found something we both like, and after Jonathan scraped his wrist moving our very ancient ottoman in our bedroom, I'm thinking he's more likely to make that happen sooner rather than later.

If we had tons of money I'd love to finish the basement (adding a family room/craft/office area, bedroom, and a bathroom down there), fence the backyard, and put in French doors off our dining area to a little deck with lots of potted plants. A girl can dream!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My word 2014

Do you have a word to build your year around? Last year was the first year I chose a word. Honestly, I think I forgot about it as January made its exit. I'm determined this year to really reflect on my word, live my word, and give my word new meaning in my life. 

I decided this year my word is: 

My inspiration has been motherhood, mainly witnessing other parents' journeys as their children face life-threatening illnesses. One of the stories I started following this year was Gavin Owens. His life story is a beautiful one, just like the family who loved him during his short life and who aren't letting his death be in vain as they grow their family by adoption. I'm also witnessing an old high school friend's son go through the reality of cancer. It's harsh, ugly, and unforgiving to see this beautiful kid, who someday wants to be a firefighter, go through something so awful. {His prognosis is good, I'm happy to report. I hope I get to witness him do amazing things with his life having to confront his own mortality in preschool.} Every day that I get to hug Vincent and know that he's healthy and happy, I know I'm truly blessed. I'm blessed with a beautiful house that I've recently decided is a cottage after all {I'm a cottage girl at heart}. I have a wonderful loving husband who works hard at what he does and stays committed to his family. I have a disease that has amazingly stayed in remission for several years after a hard and fast onslaught that left no damage. And finally, I have a job that gives me flexibility to not have to choose between work and family. I think we get so caught up with bigger, better, greener on the other side, give me my cake and I want a slice too that we take for granted just the daily miracles happening everyday. These are big things. These are big deals. And I only hope that I can teach Vincent what a big deal he is in my life, and that it doesn't take material things to make you happy. When a shooter walked into the school in Colorado this winter, kids called their parents and thanked them for all their love. And I'm sure when they walked out safe and sound {minus one heroic girl and one troubled boy}, they counted their blessings and they were never more grateful to go home to loved ones and hug them. I don't want to get so lost in achievement that I forget what's truly important and to be thankful for all that life as offered me.

I hope I can keep this thanksgiving alive all year long!

A little more me this year

Ommm. I guess if I ever get hungry, there's a whole kitchen full of plastic goodness behind me. 
Ah, don't you love January? A new year to don whatever habit(s) you feel like trying in effort to revolutionize yourself. For me, it means I make these super lists of resolutions—one for work, one for parenting, one for the home, and one for me. The resolutions that trip me up the most have to be ones focused on me. My other lists are task oriented: make the bed everyday, teach Vincent his letters, hang curtains, start a garden. I'm really bad about focusing on me, taking time out for myself. This year I want to get back into yoga and spend a little more time reconstructing myself now that I've been on this path of motherhood for close to 3 years (!!!).

Before, I never understood those mothers who let themselves go and stopped doing those things they love. Now I completely understand wearing the crumpled yoga pants and ratty shirts that are more comfortable for your forever (and blessedly) changed body. That first year I was exhausted living on 4-6 hours of sleep a night. There was no way I was getting up earlier than necessary for those few minutes it took to throw on some clothes to rush out the door to drop Vincent off at daycare. Makeup was something that lived under my sink on the off chance I actually got out of the house for functions that didn't require a diaper bag and if I cared enough to put it on.

Yesterday I was perusing one of my favorite goods store, Terrain, and saw this book. If you click on the pictures, you can get an idea of the content, which is simplistic but also very fascinating. That we can change the moments in our lives merely by paying closer attention to them and yourself within that moment. That in washing the dishes and sorting clothes we might actually find we can enjoy it more if only we stay in the moment instead of stressing about the next thing on our to-do list. Working from home I'm constantly bombarded with professional and personal. I can't remember the last time I focused on one thing, giving it my everything, enjoying it, and checking in with myself in that moment instead of being sucked out by constant distractions, be it email, twitter, blog land, Pinterest, Facebook, and texting.

I've already started a little of my resolution revolution for myself by doing mini workouts in the evening with Jonathan. It was an idea I found reading Nellie magazine. Although I plan to revolutionize myself and my mentality this year and let more joy into myself, I plan to incorporate my family in the process where I can! I've never worked out with anyone before, so it'll be interesting the impact that it'll have on me and my marriage. I tend to push myself far and fast. Jonathan tends to back off when it gets uncomfortable. We're each other's yin and yang. We put away the phone, we talk about how we're physically feeling, and if we can go further than the night before. Right now we're only taking 10 or 15 minutes until we build up our stamina, but I can already see if difference in myself, in my marriage, and hopefully in the next month, my body.