Monday, March 31, 2008

from mind to matter

Rules still rule. I've gotten emails about the ones you're thinking about--keep them coming. In the meantime, here's another one I apply:

If you're serious about it (a change, a try, a goal) write it down. If you're really serious, even determined, say it out loud. To someone else.

In many cases when I've set a goal or suggested an action out loud and to someone else (sometimes a room full of else's) it's on pure impulse. Even as the words are falling out of my mouth I'm thinking, "I can't believe I'm CREATING a commitment to something that did not exist until I opened my mouth." Why can't I just keep it between me and other me...

and have the choice to NOT do it?

Because other me knows me better sometimes: I probably won't do it. And while a little more work is always required, I often like the results a whole lot better.

Here are some examples of when I can distinctly remember thinking as I was speaking, "what on earth am I saying this for? This was not prompted! No one is asking me to do this! I am creating this for myself!"

  • So, are we going to run Baltimore (marathon)? Four months later, I did
  • I'm going to start my own business. Six months later, I did
  • I think we should convene a group to provide feedback on this model (the group was 50+ all across the country and the turnaround time was about two weeks--but it happened)
  • Let's go camping for the weekend! (I like warm beds and hot showers but I actually enjoyed this a whole lot more than I ever thought I would, even though it was years ago now)
These are just a couple of light examples, but I know that people employ this method in a wide range of scenarios hoping to change a behavior, a practice, or a belief (e.g. eating patterns, exercising, a golf swing).

So even though saying it out loud and the steps thereafter involve a little bit of discomfort, as I've said before, discomfort often precedes positive change (though like a disclaimer in the ads, amount and time may vary).


Fresh, sweet, and blue blueberries. Lots of them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Stand by's


It's been a whirlwind of growing and singing, working and writing for work, cleaning and coloring. I've been especially busy with work-related things, which always spills over and onto pleasure-related things, like reading or writing (blog included) or stretching or silencing. You know, those things I do in the wee morning moments or the late afternoon ones, while little one sleeps.

There are a few things I forsake, but there are a few other things I protect. Daily. These are things I have found, mostly by mistake, to keep me calm and present. (As opposed to frenzied and sleepless). Oh, and they are things I do independently. There are many many other things/time/commitments that I protect related to the big man and the little one, but these are separate from that. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Exercise. Running, yoga, walking--anything that gets my heart rate up and gets me moving
  2. No television. Especially the news. I used to be a news junkie--it was on first thing when I woke up, all day if I was home, and blaring away while I fell asleep. Since having Ava, I never have the tv on (unless it's Sesame Street) and I'd much prefer Big Bird ("Bird-it" to Ava) than anything "on the hour" anymore
  3. Prayer before I rise. Here's the prayer I recite, sometimes a dozen times a day, but always before I start my day. My dad shared it with me 11 years ago and it's a reminder that every day is a new start to be better
  4. Breakfast, boring breakfast. Oatmeal with walnuts, a few craisins or blueberries, and a touch of brown sugar. YUM.
  5. Coffee. I know the stuff out there about coffee and caffeine...but I only drink it for one (maybe two) reasons: when it's quiet and dark, I love the sound it makes as it fills up my cup and then how it feels when I hold it with both hands. I rarely finish it, sometimes only remembering to take a sip or two, but it signifies morning to me, and like the prayer, a new start.

As I mentioned last week, I've been thinking a lot about rules and even more about how to write about them. I think there is something to this idea, I just haven't come up with the right way to articulate or approach it. But I will. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about the rules that you apply, ones that you've invented over the years and still follow--even if they don't make sense anymore. I've been taking some inventory of my own, especially as I engage in the daily (enormous) task of deciding which rules are non-negotiable with Ava (like those that protect her from harm and others that involve politeness), and those that make no sense or have no purpose and probably need to just go away (like is not letting her stack her water on top of her milk a battle I really want to fight, even though she does it perfectly and has no interest in doing it when I don't react?).

I'll keep thinking and observing--but I'll leave you with one of my favorite rules that I invented almost five years ago, as I was getting ready to marry my husband, who is three years younger than me.

Here it is:

If your husband is younger than you and you take his name when you marry, his age comes with it.

Here it is applied:

I was 27 the morning I got married and by that afternoon, I was 24.


A Scrapin' Splurge:

I have been meaning to buy a tongue scraper for like five years now...and finally took the big $2.19 plunge. Now I just have to be better about flossing.

You can read more about the benefits of tongue scraping here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

a little more understanding

I try to keep my promises, I really do. (In "A little understanding" I wrote that "tomorrow I will write about rules..."). But "tomorrow", which is now yesterday, we lost our power for about 24 hours and as you can see, I didn't write about anything.

So I'm a little behind on those things that require electricity (work, laundry, vacuuming, showering)--but I'm way caught up on those things that don't (reading, drawing, singing, even sleeping).

The "rules" post is coming.



Tonight's full moon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A little understanding

A lot of my professional work involves helping people and organizations make decisions and then communicate them. I have found that people might not always like a decision, but they are more likely to respect it (maybe even support it) if the time is taken to help them understand why it was made and how.

Children are no different.

So I have taken great care to apply this principal with little one as well.

Don't confuse communication with negotiation, by the way. When it comes to matters of safety, civility, and humility, there is often little room for negotiating with little ones. And quite frankly, I think negotiation confuses them and complicates us. But there is lots of room for communication.

Here's an example of how communication is looking in our family (we're way more imperfect at it, by the way, than we are proficient, but we're working on it):

Scene: Me and little one in the car. I'm driving in always-busy traffic. She's strapped in her car seat, reading a book or looking out the window.

Little one: Mommy, hold you please? (which means, mommy, hold me please?)

Me (mommy): Little one, why can't I hold you right now?

Little one: It's dangerwous

Me: Why is it dangerous?

Little one: Because mommy's drivin

She keeps reading or maybe starts singing. I keep driving knowing there's absolutely nothing I'd rather be doing than holding her. It didn't take long for this conversation (which is a daily repeat) to emerge--just a time or two of explaining that I would love to hold her but that I'm driving and it would be very dangerous to do both.

It makes me think about all the ways I don't communicate like this with other people I love or care about. Starting from scratch with little one helps me to think about where I might take for granted the understanding of older ones.


Tomorrow I'm going to write about rules, which I've been giving a lot of thought to--their origin, their application, their purpose, their consequence, their relevance (or not). I find having it all straight in my head helps a great deal when you're creating conditions (and explanations) to support the development of a happy, healthy, and well-mannered little one.


Spackle n' Splurge

I've been hard boiling eggs for two straight days in anticipation of Thursday night's popcorn and PAAS. That's right...we'll fill up our water pails, roll up our sleeves, and discover all kinds of ways to color an egg (and everything around it).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Ava celebrated her Irish lineage in head to toe green...

the pot of gold eluded us and we ate green eggs and ham in place of corned beef and cabbag-es
not a pint of Guinness nor a shot of whiskey passed through one of us
but we're lucky all three to have the other of us


I'm going to bed immediately after I hit "publish post"--clean sheets, clean carpets, and cool, almost cold, air.

That is the best kind of splurge.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

sunday times

Today I am getting ready for the carpet cleaner.

That means cleaning out closet floors and underneath the beds.

Here's what I've found so far (aside from lots and lots of dust):

  • a single piece of paper dated 5/2/94 in which I contemplated high school graduation, the uncertainty of life ahead, and the anticipation of a senior trip with childhood friends (the sentiments are not all that different from those I've written as recently as two days ago)
  • pictures of me and Pete that are more than 12 years old (12 years!) with hair that's since grown and some that's not; smiles that deepened with a marriage, a home away from home, and a little miracle from God
  • half-knitted scarves and socks and mittens
  • my phone from freshman year at college
  • ties that I can remember seeing Pete in and thinking "Oh my gosh, he is sooooo well dressed"--and now think, "Oh my gosh, are we old enough to have lived through an era?...and exactly WHAT era was that?"
I'm afraid that I won't accomplish as much cleaning out as I had originally planned--but I sure am having lots of fun remembering the little things tucked away that are, afterall, life.


A great message from our Priest this morning, who reminded us as that even as the weight gets heavy, it is never so heavy that we can't endure. We are exactly where we are meant to be at this moment. God's plan for each of us promises peace, happiness, and discovery--but in His time, not ours.


I'm working on updates to my 2008 goals, thanks to a reminder from Jenny at LobotoME. I'll try to have my progress updated this week--and hopefully inspire you to gauge yours!


Easter Splurge:

Easter bread from my good friend Erin. She gave it to me after our run yesterday morning and by lunch time, it was gone. (I had a little help--visiting family and a certain little one).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

what you find

It is typical (though to a lesser extent now) for my mind to be in a million different places even though my body is in one place. That way of 'thinking' has probably short-changed me in a number of ways, the most obvious being clarity.

I've written about how I've been trying to just think about nothing for at least 10 minutes a day and I must say, clarity's crystal has not only emerged, but I've also become way more efficient at prepping for it. It used to take ten minutes (or more) before I could get to nothing. Now, it takes 10 seconds.

So yesterday, when I wasn't thinking about anything in particular, I thought about this:

After having Ava, I was well aware of the 'physical changes' pregnancy and childbirth produced. How could I not be WELL aware of them? And while I was also aware of every breath she took, every glance she stole, every sound she shrieked or sighed, that my life was better, my purpose more obvious, I never recognized this awareness for the spiritual, emotional, and internal growth that it is. Not really.

I spent countless hours trying to undo the physical changes (in progress)--but can't say that I've spent as much time trying to enrich, or grow, the internal ones. Maybe I'm too hard on myself...but regardless, there is a latent gift within the obvious gift of children: with the slightest bit of willingness (even if it is subconscious) they put you on the path to betterment. They ARE the path to betterment. When you finally see it as such, you're way further along than you think. And we have them, those little miracles, to thank.


Ava always sees things as though it is for the first time. She sees at a hundred different angles without the slightest shift of her body. So yesterday on a walk, I tried to do the same. I saw the buds on the trees and the birds playing tag. Saw the same power line and for the first time recognized the criss cross it made in the sky. But clarity isn't all advantage.

I also saw this:
  • Our gutters, which were clogged with leaves
  • Black grime on our siding where white used to be
  • Left over leaves wedged under our doormat
  • Bits of wrapper and trash thawing in the earth
  • Streaky windows
  • Unwieldy weeds
Do I need to go on?

So be warned, clarity doesn't always mean clean. :)


Still doing so well in the spending and savings arena. But little ones grow and you have to keep up! So, I acted on PURE impulse (gasp) and bought her this (on sale and with an additional discount)--so it totaled what a pair of shorts and shirt at Target would have run ($18):

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daylight delight

In November, when daylight savings started, I wrote about what I would do with my extra hour; since losing an hour makes it difficult to add anything new, here's what I'm going to do instead...

Normally, I am a morning runner. I get up and out the door while the stars are still out. But tonight in honor of extra long light, I'm going to meet up with my friend E and enjoy a run at day's other end. I like this idea so much, it just might become tradition.


With my favorite religious holiday, Easter, right around the corner, we've been splurging in little extras around the house that have more to do with giving than taking...

like giving thanks every night before we eat dinner.

It is a great way to slow down a bit after a busy day and look around the table or inside your heart for all the things about life you love.

And one more dinner scene:

Monday, March 3, 2008

still here

I haven't gotten lost (though remind me to tell you about my directionally-challenged ways) or fallen off of the earth...I'm just taking a little break to catch up on some work.

One funny story...almost 23-month old little one knows her ABC's pretty well. As is the case for some of us (including me) her LMNO sounds like one long letter. Yesterday she was singing her ABC's and when she got to LMNO, she out-of-nowhere replaced it with ELMO. ....H,I,J,K ELMO P

I have to give it to her. It works!

Have a great week!