July 28, 2014

The Haps

Annnnnd it's my birth week! Heyyoo! Thirty. This is it. Don't get scared now!

For the record, I do not recommend soaking your denim in bleach before cutting them off into shorts and destroying them. Oh, it will certainly make the destruction easier and the acid wash look is kind of cool, I suppose. However, what I didn't consider is that the easy-to-destroy part would also lead to their quick deterioration; and unless you have a thigh gap that's like WHOA, what I mean is that the whole crotch of your pants will wear away if you have to walk more than a mile in a day. Which I do. So, I did that on Monday--what up, I've got inappropriate holes in my pants, New York!

This was also the same day that I made a major train mistake. I'm going to go ahead and brag that this is my first one since being here; but the universe was not kind to me about it. Naturally since it was nap time and a thousand degrees and I was in some sort of wasteland that Uber doesn't know about? What do you mean there are no UberTs in my area? We survived and the girls didn't even really realize anything was wrong; so the way I see it, it was just a sweaty way to work off that ice cream I ate after lunch. All in the name of justifying dessert, that's just how I roll.

The girls and I are getting good at finding our way around town, besides, you know, see above. And we are getting good at filling up our days with interesting things. We have been making the rounds at all the cool water parks and splash pads; creating lists of excellent coffee shops and ranking their pastries; and we even found a marionette puppet show in the park last week, which seems pretty Brooklyn-in-the-summer if you ask me.

A few nights back, Chloe and Lizzie and I decided to see "Crybaby" at McCarren park, because when there is a chance to see fresh-faced Johnny Depp in some cheesy 80s drama, well, you take it. We were treated to the musical stylings of both Man Forever and White Suns before the movie, and when I say "treated" I mean "tortured." Man Forever boasted a literal ten-minute performance, one song, same drum beat--ONLY. As in, there was a drum kit, some bongos, a symbol, and a snare drum, and four boys beat those suckers loudly, occasionally chanting in between. Chanting? Moaning? Growling? When the song finally ended and my heart reset to its own ordinary rhythm, White Suns began. White Suns is essentially the soundtrack to your nightmares. Chloe said, "I wish we could go back and tell past us that listening to Man Forever (who should have been called "Play Forever") was actually delightful and we should wish for it never to end." That is when I realized, this is Brooklyn, yo, and here anything goes.

There had been some rather ominous clouds looming overhead for most of the evening. I felt a single drop just as all the girls squealed over Johnny's first appearance. No sooner had I said, "Maybe we should pack up the snacks to be ready to run," did the skies unleash with hurricane fury and all of Williamsburg dashed for the bars. We were soaked, and I've got to say, in my mind, I look way sexier when sopping wet than what the dingy bathroom mirror revealed. Still, oh well, because if that wasn't a New Yorky night, I don't know what is. 

It was just so serendipitous, to have a night like that. After the train incident, some ridiculously expensive grocery runs, and just a few negligible mishaps, I had those first feelings of being beat down by the city. You hear lifers talk about their love-hate relationship with New York, and while I understood it in theory, I guess I always thought, "How could it be so?" But some stuff is hard here, and frankly, you can't expect sympathy for it. No one thinks I'm Superwoman just because I can get Iris to follow me up the subway steps while I wear Edi on my back and hoist the stroller up to my hip for the climb. That is every mother's daily here, and you learn that it's just how things are done. 

So why do it? Once you have been here almost three months and you can feel some of the new wear off and it's hot and sticky and you have bruises on your legs from tossing kids into the backs of cabs? Because even in the midst of train woes and shredded, crotchless pants, even after you've endured thirty minutes of the worst music of all time only to be caught in a thunderstorm without an umbrella, there is magic here. Or maybe that is the magic. The rains will settle and the streetlights will turn the wet pavement to gold while you puddle jump to catch a taxi, watching the history and the energy and the vastness of it all whiz by your window on the way home. 

July 25, 2014

[28] 29 Lessons

Don't forget about self care.

I am not high-maintenance in the bathroom. I'm a lover of dry shampoo, hater of face make-up. Before children were my alarm clock, I would leave myself 15 minutes to roll out of bed and sort of work with whatever was going on that morning. And I suppose that's the luxury of being 16 or 18 or even 21. You can get away with it when you're creeping further into your twenties. Somewhere around 26, I think I decided that might not always cut it any more. 

Hmm. Let's see. 26. Did I have a major life event at 26?

Ah yes. Since becoming a mother, my once shirked bathroom time has become sacred and holy alone time, amen. Peeing on your own is a major accomplishment. But carving out some time in front of the mirror where you don't share your makeup? Or finishing a shower, even SHAVING YOUR LEGS all the way up? Those are celebratory events. And after children, as my face and body transformed and I tried to gracefully accept wearing life on my skin, I started to pay a little closer attention. 

But this post isn't about a beauty regimen. It's not about preserving your outward beauty or the look of youth. It is about self care, and how, as women age, we allow this practice to take the back seat to a million other things. We tell ourselves that it doesn't matter or that we're being sacrificial or that it's not worth it. 

It is worth it. It is worth it to do something that makes you feel beautiful. It is worth it to create boundaries of space and time, finding some of both that are yours and yours alone, where you can do something that's just for you. It is worth it to realize that when you are feeling your best, you respond to others with your best. Self care isn't vanity--it's the pursuit of excellence for yourself as much as it is for what the world sees.

I'm also not just talking about your face or your hair. To me, those things are important because I want to feel confident. I want to know that I've taken care of myself. I splurge on my favorite lotion because I love how it makes my skin feel. I run a bubble bath most Sunday nights to unwind and detox my body. But for me, self care also [greatly] includes the caring for my psyche. I'm an emotional mess sometimes, guys. Self care extends beyond the products I use or routines I adhere to, and it demands I also use some of that alone time to quiet my heart and sort through my head. 

It's weird to get older and have to think about things like how many times in a week you can reasonably eat ice cream; or that you need to remember to use toner after you wash your face; or that you can't keep going from thing to thing to thing without stopping. It's one of the hard parts about aging, one of the few things about thirty that I wasn't looking forward to. Still even though it's an adjustment, it's a good one. Strange as it seems, this one was one of my most valued 29 lessons. It's not any deep epiphany; it's really pretty basic. But it is the important realization that no matter what phase of life I'm in, I matter, in all aspects. I should care for myself so that I'm at my best for my family and friends, yes; but mostly, just because I'm me, and that's worth nurturing. 

July 23, 2014

Thin Skin

She had a loud heart
And some opinions to hold in
With a few worn heartstrings 
And some rather thin skin

I imagine that the difference in aging gracefully and, well, not, is that you let your heart grow and count on your skin to stretch rather than thicken. 

July 20, 2014

[27] 29 Lessons

Find a balance.

You'll notice I didn't get this posted last week.

When Friday morning rolled around and I hadn't done it, I vowed to use my Sesame Street time to get it finished. But then I didn't, and so I promised I'd write it on Saturday. I didn't do that either. Squeaking in on Sunday night though! And okay, I get this is a blog and I can really just write or not write whenever I want and it doesn't change the course of fate or life or even your day. That's just an example.

That's an example to say, sometimes I have bad days. Sometimes the bad days are days when something actually really bad happens. But you know, most of the time a bad day is just more like a blah day. You wake up and you are so mad you can't keep sleeping and you run out of coffee cream and have to use regular milk and your kids are arguing and your body doesn't want to move and you're thinking "What on earth am I going to do today? Because I don't have the motivation to leave the house but if I don't leave the house I WILL LOSE IT!" Also, on those days, you write run-on sentences. 

When I first picked this topic for this week, I think I assumed I'd write some basic post on finding balance in all parts of life. And while we all need some perfecting in this area, when I really thought about it, I realized that this wasn't the lesson for me in my twenties. I didn't have to learn that it was important to balance my different roles and tastes and goals with each other and reality. I already knew that and the task was instead trying to put it into practice.

What I did have to learn (oh, and especially since kids), what I've had to learn to balance, is that some days I will fail miserably at this, and failing miserably isn't an excuse to spiral wildly out of control into imbalanced oblivion. I am a human--and at that, a female, mothering, married one--and so it goes to say that I'm going to have a bad day. They're allotted to us. Some days are just pajama days, and even when you don't feel great about it, it still feels so good to do it. 

Life can't and shouldn't be a constant striving. I really do want to work hard toward things, to live with excellence, to be my best self; but sometimes it's important to get back in to life perspective and understand that it's just simply not roses all the time and that needs to be okay. Even when you've moved to the greatest city in the world, if you still want to take every Monday to laze about, maybe accomplish some laundry, but mostly just watch princess movies in yoga pants, I say, hey! That's fine. It's probably a better balance to allow those things than to push for perfection and accomplishment in every waking moment (and then some, because I actually have been trying to sleep better, which just sounds funny to say but I will admit to you is true). 

I guess my point is, finding a balance shouldn't be another item on the checklist. Finding a balance should be about identifying your crazy, and then allowing yourself to swing the other way now and again. Of course we all hope to fall somewhere in the middle, but we are a more interesting species than that, so I know you've all got crazy. Go with it. And then go with the other end. And then spend the days in between remembering what it feels like on both sides and finding those balanced vibes somewhere in the middle.

July 17, 2014

Meghan Savage Photography

When Trevor and I were first married, we lived in this enchanting little garden apartment complex. Ivy climbed up the walls outside our 1930s-styled windows, and there was room out back for Roscoe to run around with the other dogs. It was an idyllic little setting, and every evening we would pass some time throwing a ball around and watching Rosc exercise those herding instincts rounding the neighbor pups into a corner. This was how we met Meghan and Jason, a couple from a few apartments over, who happened to become great friends too. Those were happy times lounging by the apartment pool, walking to the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market, and sipping a late-night coffee downtown. 

Jason and Meghan have since moved to Kansas City and we are, well, here; but right before we took off from Denver, the stars aligned and placed Jason and Meghan and their sweet little boy River in town! Our meeting was brief but fun and nostalgic the way it always is to see old friends from a lovely part of life. 

Meghan just happens to really have a way with the camera. We ran in some of the same circles in those early days between my writing and her photography; and her career has only blossomed. She's a renowned wedding photographer (in fact, that's what had brought her back to Colorado that weekend) and captures the most beautiful pure, candid moments for families. She asked if she could shoot our family, and how could I say no? Especially since it was the weekend before we moved--now I have frozen in time the last of our Denver run! There are a few snippets of the shoot below. You can view the full gallery here and don't forget to check out the rest of Meghan's stunning work here. She's available to travel worldwide, so next time you're looking for a photographer, think of Meghan!