Today: Making room for creativity.

I first started blogging in 2006 or 2007 because I was feeling a bit stuck and needed a creative outlet that didn’t require expensive supplies or an expansive workspace.  I’ve always gravitated toward writing and other forms of expression and thrive when I have projects to keep me busy, challenged and creatively engaged.  If I don’t have at least 56 projects going, I get bored.  And when I get bored, I get cranky.  And when I get cranky, welp… I’m sorry.

Lately, I’ve been craving something a little messier than writing.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the recent snapshots of my sketchbook.  I was hesitant to share those photos at first, but something I’m working on lately is letting go of perfection (Lord, is that ever a process.).  Like, in all facets of life.  So far, that’s not going perfectly so well.

As a student, I had a tendency to re-do and re-re-do and re-re-re-do drawings and paintings, trying to “fix” every imperfection.  A certain drawing professor (whom my sister and I grew to both love and be terrified of) once called my drawings overwrought.  I would have been upset, but I was too busy fending off that random girl in our class who kept stealing our artists tape.

Now that I’m a grown-up (and no one’s after my tape stash), I get it.  Also: I consider myself more of a casual dabbler than an artist, and I’ve decided casual dabblers can make as many mistakes as they want.

Back on topic: I need room to be creative.  Like, even more than I need Junior Mints.  Or Diet Coke.  Or clean socks (we all know I hate socks, so that was kind of a bad example).  You don’t need to be a painter or an opera singer to be creative.  And often times that creativity comes naturally. Other times you may be stuck when working on a new recipe or article or trying to problem solve at work.

Believe it or not, creativity can be learned.  (and, according to this Forbes article “creativity is far and away the most important skill needed to ‘thrive.’”)  You don’t need to wear all black, or have some sort of emo haircut, or be in the drama club (though all those things are perfectly good).  You don’t need to be a “creative type” to be creative or to benefit from creative thinking or practices.

Hopefully these ideas will help you make a little bit of room in your brains (or day, or spirit, or whatev) for creative solutions and projects.

Making room for creativity

Rethink your routine

Like most humans, I’ve caught myself making the old “I don’t have time” excuse.  Real talk: If “x” (whether that’s doodling, or running, or eating well, or calling your mum) is important, you can make time.  I promise.  It’s possible.

If you’re adding something new to your day, like a sketching routine or revisiting the piano lessons of your childhood, you may need to reconfigure your schedule a bit.  I wish there were a magic way to add an hour to your day, or a day to your week, but let’s be serious.  I am not a magician (and frankly, they creep me out).  There are only 24 hours in the day.  If you want more time, you need to either wake up earlier, or stay up later.  Or you know, skip 20 minutes of television watching (that’s not an admonishment, I’m thinking specifically of my undying devotion to Jeopardy!).

I’m a fan of that quiet time in the morning when Grace has gone back to sleep for a bit (hopefully) after eating at 4 or 5 AM and the sun is just starting to rise in Boston (…it was less lovely this winter when it was still pitch black, but hey).  If I am not dead tired, I’ll putter around the condo a bit or grab some tea on the deck and watch the sky put on a show.  For me, everything feels possible in the morning.  For others, this may be true at night.

Carve our your time and protect it.

Arm yourself

Carry a sketch pad, or journal, or violin, or wooden birdhouses and paint… or whatever with you.  That way, when inspiration (or a free five minutes between meetings) strikes, you are armed and ready.  On second thought, leave the birdhouses and paint at home.  That project got a little messy.

A note about sketchpads:  If possible, I recommend buying a few in person (like, in a real store rather than buying them online) mostly so you can get a feel (literally) for the paper quality.  Inexpensive is good, but cheap and flimsy is maybe not so good.  Check out a few different brands and be sure you like the weight and texture.  If you’re using ink or watercolors, you may want to invest in a sketchbook designed for mixed or wet media.

I have a little travel watercolor set that I just love, some pens and a few sketchpads that fit easily into my handbag (which, in truth, is gigantic – but I think they’d fit in a normal sized bag too… especially if you remove the diapers, the wipes and Sophie the giraffe).  I usually draw first, and that add color later.

Accept a challenge

It takes all of two minutes on Pinterest or Instagram and you’ll find enough doodle-a-day or photo-a-day prompts to last you ’til 2033.  While participating in challenges like these can be fun in real-time, I always feel a wee bit guilty when I lose momentum and  forget to post a photo… on the second day.  Using challenge prompts for inspiration, instead, eliminates the guilt factor.  Scroll through a list the next time you find yourself asking, “What should I draw?” or “What should I write about?” or “What should I name my new harmonica jam?”

You might also consider creating your own sort of challenge.  Maybe you want to commit to writing daily, even if it’s a line or two.  Or perhaps you’d like to blog or vlog (I will forever think those two words are weird) for a month.  Deadlines and due dates and schedules can be helpful to some, but limiting to others.  As Plato and a bunch of other old people used to say, Know thyself.

Set it to shuffle mode

Yes, I am talking about music.  And yes, I am talking about other things too.  Lately I’ve been both enjoying and being overwhelmingly mortified by my digital music library.  I got bored with my playlists and started defaulting to shuffle, so my commute usually sounds something like this:

  • Weird Christmas song
  • Tupac
  • A song about (but not by) Tupac
  • Michael Jackson
  • The soundtrack to Summer Heights High
  • Ambient Reiki or yoga music
  • Sad Whitney Houston song
  • More Michael Jackson
  • Jock Jams
  • Another weird Christmas song
  • An awesome Christmas song
  • Three different versions of Raffi’s “Baby Beluga”
  • Another sad Whitney Houston song
  • A HIDDEN GEM!

Those hidden gems – the songs you haven’t heard in ages – make the embarrassment of having downloaded an entire Glee album (But seriously, when did I do that? I never liked the show.) worthwhile.  Those songs might remind you of a specific time, place or person and may help to inspire your next project.

Other ways you can embrace shuffle mode: Open the newspaper (they still exist, I assure you) and read the first article you land on.  Scroll through your phone and call the first person you see (it helps to maybe do a clean sweep of your phone and delete those randoms — you know: first name “Mary”, last name “From Yoga Class 2011″– first).  Close your eyes, point to the menu, and order (disclaimer: not safe if you have food allergies).

 Enjoy a change of scenery

I’m a big believer in the power of a simple change of scenery.  We’re lucky that we can see the ocean from one side of our condo, and skyscrapers from the other.  If you look directly out the front of our building, you’ll likely see one of my neighbors running some sort of insurance scam involving a neck brace and various other medical accessories, but that’s another story.

Regardless, one way to get creatively “unstuck” is to move.  Duh.  Take a quick walk, make a day trip to the country, visit a farm and pet some animals, enjoy a friend’s garden, spend the afternoon in the library or a bookstore reading through travel books, go for a hike, take a nap on the beach.  When you’ve got new or different things to look at, your perspective is bound to change.

Oh, and this should go without saying, but… please don’t be like,

“Elizabeth!  I took your advice!  I saw sort of a weird, dark, kind of dangerous looking alley… and, um, I thought it might inspire me… so I walked down it.  And now I am missing my wallet.  AND AN EAR!”

Very Van Gogh, but also very NOT OKAY.  Be careful and be safe.  Think with your right brain while using your left brain.  Please.

Pick up your camera.  Or don’t.

These days, quite a bit of life is experienced from behind the screens of our smart phones or tablets (do I need to mention Google Glasses?  Does anyone out there wear them?).  On one hand, I love being able to take a quick photo of something that grabs my attention or type a quick note about a book title or upcoming event.  On the other hand, I know I miss all kinds of things by being glued to my phone.  I try to use my actual camera as much as possible for this reason.  I only dig it out when I want to capture something… and I see those “somethings” because I am not preoccupied by looking at my camera.  Mostly because it’s just a camera.  It can’t text my sister a sloth pic.

Wheewwww.  This was a long one.  Think of everything you could have created and accomplished if you didn’t bother to read this post.  My apologies.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you make room for creativity in your day?  What are you working on lately?

Today: Six months of Grace.

Six months ago, we were waking up (from–maybe–an hour of sleep, but waking up nevertheless) for the first time as a family of three.  Grace’s basinet was wheeled up against one side of my hospital bed, and Nick was on a cot on the other side.  My arm was stiff from having slept with it draped ever so carefully across Grace’s tiny, swaddled body.  We had only know her for a few hours, but I couldn’t bear to not hold Grace, even for a minute.  I peeked over at her little round cheeks, her button nose, and dark lashes and cried the happiest tears of my life.  I couldn’t believe she was ours.

Six months have passed, and I still can’t believe she is ours.  She’s sleeping (more like, cat napping) in her own room.  She’s rolling from one side to another and trying to scoot.  She’s got three teeth on their way.  She’s eating solid foods.  She can babble and yell and squeal.  She’s sits up on her own… until she tips forward… and then she tries again.

She makes us happy, she makes us whole.  These have been the best six months of my life.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Whipping up some farm stand soup
  • Finishing up plans for Grace’s Christening
  • Attempting to organize six months worth of photos

What makes you happiest these days?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram #29

Let’s be serious: It was time for the sleep-deprived lady to ditch the Roman numerals.

The Weekend According to Instagram #29

1.  Our little deck garden has really taken off this week.  We’ve got more cherry tomatoes and basil than I know what to do with… so I am eating all of them.

2.  As I shared last week, I recently started using the Couch to 5k app and am embracing the opportunity to start fresh.  I woke up Friday and thought “Yes! It’s Friday (standard Friday thought)! I get to run tonight!”  I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about running.  I think I stopped running and switched to rowing at CrossFit two months before Grace was born, but long before that I hadn’t run for the sake of running in ages.  I broke out my KIND tank (given to me by the lovely KIND folks at FenwaYoga) and was thankful for the opportunity to be kind to my body and brain while out on the Harborwalk by myself for a little bit.  Speaking of KIND, they are launching a really great program in Boston tomorrow.  As the “official snack partner” of the Boston Red Sox, KIND is working with Red Sox Nation and the rest of the city to spread kindness this summer.  #KINDBoston launches tomorrow and fellow Bostonians are invited to share their ideas for making Boston a kinder place to live and work.

From KIND:

For every kind act submitted, KIND will donate a piece of sporting equipment (up to $5,000) to the Red Sox Foundation’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program, which teaches inner-city youth the importance of being kind on and off the field. KIND will also bring select kind acts to life in August to demonstrate how small actions can make a big difference.

#KINDBoston will debut at Fenway Park on Tuesday, July 29, with KIND honoring an RBI player and coach who embody kindness. Fans attending the Red Sox game that evening will be able to share their ideas before exiting the ballpark. Anyone not in attendance will be able submit via Twitter using #KINDBoston until August 31.

3.  Now that Grace is a bit more mobile, she and Clark have become fast friends.  She loves to roll towards him and reach for his wrinkly mug, and he is being as patient as I could have hoped.  They spent Saturday morning cozied up together, surrounded by various baby maracas, tambourines and stuffed monkeys.

4.  It would seem my Instagram feed was very food-focused this weekend.  We went to see my parents on Saturday afternoon and brought some  strawberries, blueberries and blackberries with us.  You can’t go wrong with berries. (You know how if you type a word too many times, it totally looks weird… that just happened.  Berries.)

5.  On our way back to the city, we stopped at the farm stand in my parents’ neighborhood and filled up a basket of carrots, Romaine lettuce, cherries and onions.

6.  More food:  After seeing this recipe for yogurt breakfast popsicles on The Kitchn, I thought I’d give it a try.  I mixed Greek yogurt, gluten free granola and some raspberry preserves in an ice cube tray (which, technically, I bought for freezing baby food… but hey) and let it freeze overnight.  The result: messy, but tasty.  Perhaps they would make a good addition to a smoothie.

7.  This is what Clark (my official snack partner) looked like while I sampled the aforementioned frozen yogurt bites. #gimmesome

8.  And this is what Grace looks like when she’s being a goofball, which is quite often lately.  She has been such a smiley girl these past few weeks.  I think she’s enjoying all her newly acquired skills (yelling and rolling are her favorites).

9.  Oh… and she ate her first solid food this weekend!  It was so much fun to watch her reaction (she mostly looked horrified) as she tasted her first few bites of pureed sweet potato. I promised Allison a post on feeding Grace solids and look forward to sharing our experiences with that… once we have… a bit more experience with that.  In the meantime, I highly recommend Lucy’s List and their series on starting solids.  Oh, one thing I know for sure: You do not need to bake and puree three whole sweet potatoes for one small baby.  That’s, like, two and a half too many.  Trust me.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: DirtyGirl Mud Run 2014 and being a beginner again.

I’m usually partial to good, clean fun.  Mostly because I am lazy and don’t like cleaning up messes.  This weekend, however, was a bit of a departure.  My sister and I ran our first DirtyGirl 5k on Saturday morning and I swear, I am still smiling.  Also: 4 showers later, I am still finding mud in various places.  Like way inside my ear.

I’ve participated in one other mud run before, and it happened to be on the same course at the Amesbury Sports Park.  Nick and I ran together, and by together, I mean that he blazed ahead and I met him at the finish line six hours 30 minutes after he started his celebration beer.  It had rained quite a bit before the event, and the narrow and steep trails felt, welp… super dangerous.  People were falling left and right and on one another.  The obstacles were fun, but it was hard to run between them due to the thick mud.  Basically, I fell from one obstacle to the next.  I was happy I participated, but not eager to sign up for another event.

When the folks at DirtyGirl reached out to me, however, I was starting to run again (this was shortly after Grace was born, but before I broke my toe… I think) and was looking for a race to train for.  I convinced my sister to join me and figured if nothing else, we’d have fun together.  And did we ever.

Before and After (and yes.. that is mud ON MY TEETH.)

I hadn’t run since the whole toe thing, so to say I was undertrained would be an understatement.  At the same time, carrying around a 13 lb. baby in a 35 lb. car seat and practicing inversions while she sleeps has paid off, making those climbing obstacles a breeze.  I tried my best to keep up with my sister (who actually, you know, works out), but if nothing else, those walking breaks served as great motivation to be thoughtful about future goals and training.

Getting back into shape (whatever that means, seeing as I feel like I am a totally different shape) after having Grace has been humbling, which is both challenging and freeing.  The slate is wiped clean, so to speak.  After dropping my sister off, I took a ridiculously long shower and then promptly downloaded the Couch to 5k app.  Having completed two marathons and countless other races, it bruises my ego a bit to think of myself as a beginner, but hey… that’s where I am right now.  I think my new mantra has something to do with meeting myself where I am, not where I was.  Also:  I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay.

Back to the mud: At one point, I was doubled over with laugher when my sister looked at me and yelled “AAAAH!  You have a mustache!”  I had nothing clean to wipe my face with, so on we went.  I swear, I laughed for the full 5k.  Which explains how I got mud on my teeth.  Gross.  I have never been so eager to see the professional photos from an event.

I kept thinking, I wish every workout could be this fun.  While there can’t always be giant inflatable obstacles and tutu-clad competitors alongside me, I bet infusing some of that playfulness into my training or yoga practice would do some good.

DirtyGirl Mud Run 2014: The Highlights

  • The course was the perfect balance of muddy, yet still run-able.  While I had take breaks to walk here and there (those hills are no joke), you really could run this course.  It took us just under 40 minutes to complete the 3.1 mile loop, including obstacles… and two laughing induced asthma attacks.
  • The obstacles were so much fun.  They were challenging, but not impossible and unlike similar events, you can opt-out, if you choose.
  • No offense, dudes, but there’s just something about an all female event…
  • The event had a really positive, supportive vibe.  Fellow runners cheered one another on and staff and volunteers were helpful and friendly.
  • From the parking and shuttle bus to the post-race showers and everything in between, the event was so well managed.

My sister and I are already looking forward to next year’s event (we’ve started recruiting teammates and designing our outfits… there may be sloths involved muhaha). To save on your registration to an upcoming Dirty Girl 5k, use the code BLOGFRIEND.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary entry to this event in exchange for writing articles for the DirtyGirl blog.  All the dirt shared here is my own.  Get it… dirt…?

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your current mantra?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram XXVIII

We made a quick trip to Maine this weekend to see Nick’s parents, and made it back to the city in time for our niece’s birthday party.  By the time Sunday evening rolled around, I was ready to face plant into bed… but forced myself to do laundry first.  You know, so I would have something to wear come Monday morning.

Oh, and before we dig into my own Instagram feed, I came across something worth sharing this morning: Brendon and Danielle are hosting a fantastic yoga challenge (starting today) that focuses on modifications.  I love that there is room for everyone to practice in yoga, and this challenge reflects that.

Okay.  Let’s look at pictures of my trunk.  And the harbor.  And my dog.

The Weekend According to Instagram XXVIII

Follow me on Instagram: @ElizabethEv

  1. This is what “packing light” looks like these days.  After visiting my parents on the Cape over the 4th, we had a pretty good sense of what was necessary and what we could leave home.  I am not sure why I packed 100 diapers for a 36 hour trip, but hey. In addition to the obvious (ye olde Pack ‘N Play), we have a couple baby items that have been great for travel: this Skip Hop outdoor blanket which folds up beautifully and easily wipes clean (bonus points for for detachable insulated bag – we used this for Grace’s rash guard and swim diaper last weekend) and the Puj Flyte infant bath, which also folds up (sensing a theme?) and fits in most sinks.  I was afraid Grace had outgrown the Flyte (we used it for her first few baths at home), but it actually works even better now that she’s, welp… sturdier.
  2. I will never tire of this view. Dusk in Boothbay Harbor is just incredible.  I remember one of my art history professors in college talking about how the light in Maine is magic.  I thought he was high.  Now I think he was just telling the truth (also, he could have been high).
  3. Other magical things in Maine: This aptly named “Little House” nestled just along the harbor.  When I’m old I want to live in a little house (specifically: a tiny house).
  4. I’ve been sharing pages from my sketchbook lately on Instagram.  I’ve always loved to draw, but I’m finding it especially productive as a way to quiet my brain a bit at the end of the day.  I’m the first to admit that I’m tightly wound and the last few months?  On another level.  I’ve been breaking out some paper, a pen and a set of watercolors most nights after Grace goes to sleep (and, inevitably, before she wakes up again).  There were a few Audubon field guides at the cottage (plus, like… real birds outside…), hence the, um... birdoodles.
  5. An old, old wooden ship.
  6. Clark loves heading North.  He also loves pretending to play guard dog behind decorative screen doors.
  7. How I close out the weekend: brewing a pitcher of peppermint tea to sip cold throughout the week.  Super refreshing.  The Yogi Tea quotes help.
  8. New animal obsession: hedgehogs.  I picked up this set of notecards at Target (no surprise there).  More hedgehog cuteness: Biddy the Hedgehog’s Instagram account.  He fits in the palm of your hand, he visits National Parks, he is magnificent.
  9. Aaaaaaand a tiny OOTD: Grace’s party dress for her cousin’s birthday.  Wouldn’t be a party without a bow.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, too.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram XXVI

It’s been a hundred years several months since I shared a Weekend According to Instagram update. Mostly because I was trying to learn Roman numerals and figure out what came after XXV.  Just kidding.  Or am I?

Regardless, we really packed quite a bit of fun into the past two days.  I wish every day was a summer weekend day.  Except, like, Christmas.  Obviously.

The Weekend According to Instagram XXVI

  1. After Nick got home from CrossFit and I finished a little yoga on the deck and a walk with my lovely friend Alyson, we headed down to my parents’ house for some pool time.  Grace is still too young to wear sunblock (though our pediatrician did say we could test a tiny patch on her arm, she emphasized that our best bet is keeping her out of the sun altogether), so we broke out her ridiculous sun hat and rash guard for quick dip.  She seemed a bit shocked at first and was clearly holding on for deal life, but I have a feeling we’ve got a water baby on our hands.
  2. We spent lots of time outside this weekend, including a little Sunday evening stroll around the neighborhood with the Frenchie.  Earlier in the day, Grace and I met up with our mom/baby friends and JP and then picked up Nick for our baptism prep class and some lunch in the Back Bay.
  3. There is more Black Mass filming being done in our neighborhood this week.  On one hand, it’s rather exciting to have Johnny Depp walking around, but on the other, it was a pretty unnerving to see signs about forced busing at the old Southie High last night.  Sure, the fresh paint on the street is part of a movie set, but the busing crisis was a real and critical time in the city and neighborhood’s history, one with powerful and lasting effects.
  4. On a lighter (only 100 calories and not the least bit depressing) note: I am going to eat 600 Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bars this summer.  2 down, 598 to go.  I received a coupon for a free box a few weeks ago and highly recommend the sea salt caramel flavor (we’re already onto our second box), best enjoyed with your feet up on the deck.  Oh, and save your popsicle sticks.  I’ve got an easy DIY project coming up later this week.
  5. Nick and I had our first date night (5 months in the making!) since becoming parents.  Mom on the loose!  We were able to get last minute tickets to Amaluna and my sister and brother-in-law generously offered to babysit.  It was really nice to get out for a bit, especially knowing Grace (and Clark) were in such good hands.  The pictures my sister took of Zach and Grace together basically melted my heart.  Uncle Z is the coolest.
  6. We were home before dark (and I nearly fell asleep during intermission — I need to step up my game if I want to convince Nick to go on a second post-baby date anytime soon), just in time to catch this beautiful sunset over the city.

I already want this summer to last forever.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • After watching Tiny, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of moving into a tiny house… maybe, like… in 20 years
  • If you have a lot of free time on your hands before the 4th, make these and impress your friends.
  • 10 easy DIYs for the 4th via Buzzfeed (Red, white and blue jorts for everyone!)

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: Bet on Better with me.

Shocking news: Grace will be five months old this weekend.  She celebrated early with 6 consecutive hours of sleep last night.  Meanwhile, I got up every 6 minutes to check on her, starring in disbelief as the baby who rarely slept more than 3 hours in a row continued to sleep soundly in her crib.  Is this what the next 20 years will be like?  Me peeking around corners, tiptoeing in the darkness, and spying on my own child to ensure everything’s okay?  I should probably invest in a periscope.  Or maybe some Spy-Tech (coolest 80′s toys, hands down).

Now that Grace’s schedule is starting to level off, I’ve got some catching up to do.

I don’t know why, but I had this ridiculous idea that once I went back to work (12 weeks after Grace was born), I would be sleeping through the night, eating something other than a handful of Fritos and an entire quart of raspberries for dinner (i.e. my sixteenth one-handed meal of the day), working out regularly at the gym, and oh, I don’t know, fitting into non-stretchy pants.  Needless to say: not happening.  Not yet.  Or at least, not all in the same day.

The combination of sheer exhaustion and a desire to spend every second (that I am not working, or like, showering) with our little family has made working out… challenging.  Throw in the broken toe (which is nearly healed, and almost looks like a regular toe again), and you’ve got a recipe for disaster the perfect excuse.  I eat reasonably well and have fit in daily walks and some great spinning and yoga classes over the past few months, but I feel like it’s time to really make a commitment to my health and wellness.  Life is not going to get less busy.  As the months pass, it may not be any easier to eat thoughtful meals, or sleep longer than a few hours in a row, or balance work and family time.  It may not get easier, but judging by how our lives continue to change, especially recently, it will get better and better.  

In an effort to stay accountable and motivated, and to build community around making the best possible choices for ourselves and those we love, I am hosting my first DietBet.  I’ve named it “Bet On Better” because, for me, it’s not simply about losing a few pounds (though I do look forward to fitting into real pants).  It’s about making better choices for myself across the board, choices that will help me honor my commitment to a healthy, happy, and well-lived life.

If you’re new to DietBet, you can read my full run-down here, but essentially each 4-week game includes an initial bet (in this case, $35) which goes into the pot.  Participants who successfully (and safely, please!) lose 4% of their weight during the game split the pot.  You also have the option to donate your winnings to charity, which I find to be great motivation.  I have participated in games before, and really enjoyed the community fostered among players.  As a host, I will be providing a little extra motivation, support, and helpful resources throughout the 4 weeks.  The game begins on July 8th.  I hope you will join me and consider bringing a few friends along (this is definitely one of those the more, the bigger pot merrier cases)!

Click here to join (or learn more about) the Bet On Better DietBet!

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your best source of motivation when it comes to making better choices?

Today: FenwaYoga and taking my OM outdoors.

Shortly after writing up my little Summer Bucket List, I got an incredible invitation from KIND.  Did I want to join them for yoga with Mandy Ingber at Fenway Park?  A thousand percent yes (it didn’t hurt that I read their email while snacking on a Healthy Grains bar in between meetings).  KIND sponsored the 2nd annual FenwaYoga event, which benefitted the Red Sox Foundation’s Red Sox Scholars and RBI Youth Baseball and Softball programs.

I was looking forward to checking off “practice yoga outside” from my bucket list, but never expected to have the chance to roll out my mat on the warning track along the Green Monster.

It was such an awesome experience.  Mandy lead a fun but challenging class (made slightly more challenging by the mid-morning sun) from the pitcher’s mound, while yoga teachers from the area provided additional guidance from the outfield.  I made fast friends with the woman next to me, as we swapped iPhones to grab photos of one another goofing off inside the park.

The yoga community in Boston was out in full force and everyone, especially the folks from KIND, made me feel so welcome and grateful to be a part of such an incredible day.

I really thought I’d be itching to get back to CrossFit once Grace was born, but lately I’ve been craving yoga even more.  I appreciate balance of gentleness and strength that yoga gives me, and love that Grace can squirm around beside me on her activity mat while I practice at the beginning or end of the day.  Now that she’s discovered her toes and is holding onto them for dear life, I can’t help but fit in happy baby pose whenever possible.

If you’re looking to take your om outdoors, here are a few ongoing opportunities in the area:

Also On Tap for Today:

What sort of workout have you been craving lately?

 

Today: Feeding the giraffes and stalking the sloths.

Shortly after Nick and I started dating, we made plans to visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  He’s always loved animals, whereas I’ve always been a little whatever.  (This was after a feral cat specifically chose the underside of my car as its final resting place… but years before I met Clark.  I think that timeline goes a long way in explaining my ambivalence towards non-humans.)

I think I was probably Googling something like, “Great… but do you have any baby hippos?” a few days before our trip to the zoo when I came across an announcement for a giraffe naming contest.  We spent the better part of a week going back and forth with name suggestions before submitting our top choices.  Nick tried to get the little leggy fellow named after one of his clients from Romania (I just made my husband sound way more mysterious than he actually he is), while I was certain I had hit it out of the park with Thomas Girafferson.  I mean, come on! USA! USA! Likely not a spoiler alert: neither of us won the contest.

The visit to the zoo, however, was lovely.  I’m not an animal communicator (despite trying to read my dog’s mind on the daily), but they all seemed well cared for and maybe even happy.

When I was trying to come up with something fun to do for Father’s Day (something more fun than breaking a toe, which is how I celebrated my first Mother’s Day), I came up with some pretty bad ideas.  One involved buying a used kite surfing board from one of our old neighbors.  I love surprises (for other people, not so much for me), so the key was finding something unexpected… but ideally, not super dangerous.

And then I found out you can sign up to feed the giraffes at Roger Williams (for a small donation, which is a nice way of saying straight cash, homey).

Question:  What new dad wakes up on Father’s Day thinking, Hey!  I wonder if I will get to feed a giraffe today? Answer: A very psychic one.  In other words, it was the perfect surprise.

Nick got to get up close and personal with Jaffa (who will always be Thomas Girafferson to me) while I snapped photos from the other side of the fence.  It was really fun to watch.  From a safe distance.  Which is how I like my animal encounters.

Actually… there is one animal I would like very much to be dangerously close to.  The sloths.  I can’t get enough of them.  When I was little, I though my sister (an infant at the time) looked like the baby sloth in my National Geographic Zoo Babies book (which was published in 1978 and is currently available for a mere one cent on Amazon… act now!).  In hindsight, I could see how that comparison could be misinterpreted (what, with the gnarly nails and overwhelming body odor), but I thought sloths were cute and I knew my sister was cute, end of story.

After Nick fed Thomas G., we started making our way back to the car (Grace was about 30 seconds away from a melt down and also, I wanted snacks) when we were about to pass the rain forest exhibit.  Strollers weren’t allowed in building, but I saw a sign for sloths, so I quicky abandoned my family took Nick up on his offer to stay outside with the baby while I checked things out.  I was about to make my way back to them, when a woman pointed above me.  I nearly fainted with joy.  A real, live sloth was hanging from a branch directly over my head.  I don’t think sloths fall from things very often (or ever?) but if he did, he would have totally landed in my handbag.  And I would have kept him.

I have no idea where this post is going… but I just admitted to wanting to steal a sloth, so my guess is: nowhere good. I’ll stop myself here.

Also On Tap for Today:

If you could steal, but then responsibly care for (obvi) any zoo creature, which would you choose?

Today: Summer Bucket List and some sweet shades.

Let’s start with a question: Where did the expression bucket list come from? (Please pause while I Google…)  Hmm.  Not a fruitful search.  Ohhhhh….. it must have something to do with kicking the bucket, and like… things you want to do before that fateful day.  One thing that is not on my summer bucket list: kicking the bucket.

Morbidity (and flaky inner monologue) aside, here are a few things I am hoping to accomplish before Labor Day rolls around.

The coolest bro ever.

Summer Bucket List

  1. A little road trip with my little family - I’m toying with Montreal, would love to see Niagra Falls again, and have also been keeping an eye on the new Nova Star.  Oh, and I read about a library in Vermont that sits directly on the border and does not yet have a copy of Bobby Orr’s autobiography.  I feel like that’s a problem I can remedy with my dogeared copy.   Apparently, I’m feeling the call of Canada.
  2. Hiking in the Blue Hills - and by hiking, I likely mean the family friendly paved path… and a peek at the otters at the Trailside Museum.
  3. Yoga outside - and lots of it.
  4. SUP – Bonus points for SUP yoga.  Side bar:  I am convinced my sister, our cousin and I invented SUP.  We used to take our families’ ocean kayaks out on the Cape, stand up, and think we were incredibly cool (we were).  We called it “stand upon kayaking”… but maybe if we had abbreviated it to SUK it would have caught on?  No.
  5. See Wait Wait in person – Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is going to be at Tanglewood in late August.  I want to be there. Badly.
  6. Run a new race – my broken toe is nearly unbroken, so I think it’s time to set my sights on a new goal and get training.  Also, can I just say, broken toes are no joke.  I like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance (hello, labor and delivery), but maaaaaaan.  You know when you stub your toe, and you get that feeling of I might throw up or I might pee?  And then the feeling goes away and you’re fine (and hopefully you neither threw up nor peed)?  It doesn’t go away when your toe is broken.  And you have to wear an ugly boot.  And suddenly this bucket list became a pity party.
  7. Tackle unfinished (or in some cases, un-started) home projects – I have grand plans for our pantry and a few art projects in mind for Grace’s nursery.  I’m looking forward to spending a few Summer Fridays getting crafty.
  8. Go to a hot air balloon festival - according to the Internet, there are a bunch in New England this summer.  This might be a reach, but I think it would be so cool to see a sky full of balloons.  There used to be a few that would float over our house when I was growing up.  It always felt like we were witnessing something magical (real magic… not the creepy, weird magician kind..).
  9. Volunteer - Clark and I took some time off from our pet therapy visits in the weeks leading up to, and following, Grace’s arrival.  I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things at the hospital, and finding other ways to support our community.
  10. Track 12 weeks of food and fitness – I’ve only ever successfully tracked my food intake for more than a day, like, once.  It was back in my food allergy/elimination diet/what is wrong with my stomach days, and honestly… it was not fun.  At the same time, it helped me see the choices I was making and the patterns I had fallen into, and how food affects my overall wellbeing.  I think a bit of accountability and self-awareness will go a long way, especially as I try to make the best possible choices for me and Grace.

Welp, there you have it folks: my I hope I go to a ballon festival before kicking the bucket list.

P.S. I recently received a complimentary pair of Nectar sunnies.  They’re fun and a bit flashy and very reasonably priced ($30 for a polarized pair, $20 for non-polarized).  In other words, they’re the perfect accessory for checking off summer bucket list items.  They were a bit big on Clark, but fit me perfectly. Looking for a pair of your own?  Click here and use the code ‘lovenectar’ for 10% off

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Planting a few more herbs for our little deck garden
  • My new obsession: produce bouquets
  • Packing for a day trip to DC

What’s on your summer bucket list?