The mild weather made this month feel more like April than November, so we got plenty of adventures in. And I sort of forgot to have my snow tires put on. Whatever, man.
I assumed (along with everyone else, I think) that we’d be a family of five by now (counting Clark, obvi… I do not have a secret human child somewhere)… but unless he makes his grand entrance before midnight, we’ll be welcoming a December baby. All this anticipation is making the days crawl, despite the month having flown.
And like any month, there were ups and downs — but one of the most wonderful moments had to have been meeting our niece who was born two weeks ago. She is just perfect.
Speaking of perfect, the weather and view (minus the seagull) could not have been better on a recent stroll along the Harborwalk.
Currently | November, 2015
My copy of the Get Messy x UNHCR charity magazine arrived this weekend. I am so grateful to have been a part of this collaboration, which supports relief efforts for Syrian refugees, and love seeing everyone else’s art work in print. You can order a copy here (all proceeds are donated to UNCHR).
Mostly just looking at the pictures: Vogue, December 2015
Adele’s 25 (along with the rest of the planet) on repeat. I’m not ashamed to say, I am obsessed.
The Undisclosed Podcast
An attempt to finish my Christmas shopping in the next day or two. We’ve done a really fun Secret Santa with my siblings and significant others the last three years and I highly recommend DrawNames.com if you’re organizing a similar swap.
Comfort food: Onion tartlets, mashed potatoes, tomato soup, cucumber salad, quesadillas with sharp cheddar and gala apples
A top secret Christmas card muhahaha (I hope everyone finds it even a 1/100 as funny as I do)
Progress in my sketchbooks and art journals (you can see some recent work on Instagram or here and here)
The Christmas decorations I put up (…before Thanksgiving… couldn’t help myself)
A fresh bouquet of flowers
Our current routine (while it lasts)
That Coach Belichick would be my ideal spokesperson right now. When asked how he felt when he saw Rob Gronkowski get injured during last night’s game, he snapped, “How do you think I feel?” Exactly. Except I don’t think I get away with being quite so sassy. So instead, I’ll just say… okay, fine, impatient, a little cankle-y, hopeful, hungry and tired.
Also On Tap for Today:
Deleting 900 million Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails
We made plans for a really wonderful weekend — and that’s very close to what we had. From a condo full of friends and their toddlers, to a morning spent with our newborn niece, there was so much to love about the last two days.
But life rarely follows our plans, our wishes, or our wants exactly.
And sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, it guts us. It breaks our hearts.
I have nothing especially profound to say about Friday’s attacks in Paris. Nothing particularly eloquent or new or thoughtful. But I know this violence — the murders and injuries caused– and the resulting terror and fear and anger and heartbreak are real, and are felt by so many. I also know there are places, not so far away from Paris, where the terror of Friday night is felt every night. And every day.
And this doesn’t make sense. Because we cannot make sense of the senseless.
I think it’s only human to default to fear and anger, but if we can lean on hope and compassion — even in the smallest ways — I want to (and frankly, have to) believe that will help in healing our fractured world.
When life doesn’t make sense, I buy flowers. Or in the case of this weekend, huge branches of seeded eucalyptus. When life doesn’t make sense, I spend as much time as possible with friends and family. When life doesn’t make sense, I try to let a few more cars go in traffic. And I try really hard to not give anyone the finger, even if they’ve just cut me off in the rotary. When life doesn’t make sense, I carve out space to be quiet and alone. When life doesn’t make sense, I clean my closet in a (somewhat futile) attempt to create order. When life doesn’t make sense, I’m extra careful about what I consume (more chocolate, less 24 hr. news). When life doesn’t make sense, I pray (like, more than usual).
Because even a little more peace in this world has to count for something.
I’m a worrier. And I have an overactive imagination. It’s not a great combination. The last thing you want to ask me is, “What’s the worst case scenario?” or “What’s the worst that could happen?” Because I will answer. In exhaustive detail.
It might be in my genes, or it might be a little bit by choice. I’m starting to think it’s the latter.
I was traveling for work earlier this week when bam! It hit me. Or more accurately, bam! Another car hit my crappy rental car (and I’m sorry for saying crappy, but… it was crappy).
When it comes to car accidents, what happened to me would certainly be considered the best case scenario. I am fine (truly… I think my hairdo got flattened a tiny bit, but that’s really it), the other driver is fine. Neither car had a speck of damage.
And yet, long after the shock wore off, I found myself dwelling in what could have been.
What if one of us did get hurt? What if the cars had been damaged and needed costly repairs? What if I didn’t make my flight home? What if I hadn’t left 9 car lengths between me and the car ahead of me (safety first, my friends), and then I hit that car? And what if one of us were going somewhere really important, and we didn’t get there on time? And what if when I got out to inspect our cars, I slipped in all that snow because I was wearing ridiculous shoes (which I was) and broke one of my legs and also lost my phone at the same time and maybe got amnesia and therefore couldn’t remember any phone numbers, and then wasn’t able to get in touch with Nick to tell him that I had a broken leg, needed to get a new phone, had forgotten my entire life story, and was stranded in Detroit?
I’d like to say that falling into such a spiral of interesting, yet unproductive thoughts was a rare event. But it’s not. While I genuinely believe in the good, I often catch myself expecting the bad. The annoying. The frustrating. The ugly.
I think it would be easy to point to all the proof around us that things aren’t perfect. And there is so much we cannot control, and can’t choose. But just like I can choose between boots and sparkly flats, I can choose my outlook. I can choose my attitude (as challenging as that can be). Having choices is a grace. Having choices means we’re still empowered. It means that we’re still doing okay.
This is my long winded way of telling you that it’s time for me to start focusing on the best case scenario. The one where we all get home safely. The one where our ridiculous but beautiful shoes serve us well. The one where we treat each other kindly, even when our cars crash into one another. The one where I have an empty seat next to me on one flight, and a nice person sitting next to me on the next (And yes! That really happened!). No amnesia, no broken legs, no missed flights.
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.
My pal Molly recently invited me to join the My Writing Process blog tour. It’s sort of like a blogger’s chain letter (speaking of, did anyone ever participate in a middle school chain letter that actually worked?), where we talk about… well, our writing process, but also shine a light on some of our favorite blogs. I’ve never done something like this before, so when Molly shared her post, I found myself clicking through to read posts from others on the tour, fascinated by reading about what inspires other bloggers, how their styles and content varies, and what they most enjoy writing about.
Sometimes I pay Clark to edit for me. So, um, if you catch a typo… blame him.
I first started blogging in 2006-ish when I felt like I desperately needed a creative outlet. I was still having flashbacks from my senior year drawing class and the time our professor served as a live model, so sketching didn’t seem like a safe option. I barely knew how to knit (hence the collection of 1/4 scarves I tried to pass off as potholders). I probably could have taken up cooking, but I lived with my parents and welp… I liked eating what they made. Having always loved to write, a free blogspot address seemed like a natural fit for a recently graduated, rather poor, semi-bored non-profit employee such as myself. Because blogging has always been somewhere in the neighborhood of third or fourth or eleventh on my list of priorities, I’ve posted when inspiration struck, and rarely a minute sooner.
Those are sparks of inspiration… or whatever.
Lately, however, I feel like I’ve been posting even when that inspiration has gone on strike, I’ve been posting more sponsored content than usual, and I’ve even been tempted to outright delete content I’ve shared. Having the chance to reflect on and answer the questions posed and answered by Molly (and our chain letter predecessors, like Bianca and Meghan) has been tremendously helpful. It’s sort of like when you go to leadership camp and on the ride home you’re all, “I love student council! This is going to be the best year evvvvaaarrrr!” Oh. You didn’t go to leadership camp because you were doing normal things? Right. Well.
I’m grateful to Molly for including me in this tour, and for the great content she shares week after week. We first met at a Whole Foods event, but I had been reading her restaurant picks (you can find her full list of Dining Out reviews here – from Boston to LA, Las Vegas to Miami, and seemingly everywhere in between, this is the place to go if you’re looking for a solid restaurant recommendation), shopping tips, local event coverage and book reviews for quite some time before that. She has impeccable taste (supporting evidence: her Instagram account) and after seeing her Oscar party photos, I decided I need her to plan every party and event in my life hence forward.
I rarely talk blog shop here, but I am hoping you might find this peek behind the curtain even a little interesting, and perhaps it will get you thinking about your creative process, as well. Here goes.
My Writing Process
What am I working on?
For the first time (maybe ever?) I am craving some sort of established process or plan for On Tap for Today. I have quite the list of posts I want to start (or finish… or translate from a late night iPhone note to something actually readable, and not written entirely in emoji), but find myself spread a bit thin lately. My old “when inspiration strikes” method isn’t working quite as well now that I am trying to navigate being a wife, a mother, a career person, and a cool/sort of interesting/regular person. When I do have free time, I am sure you can understand that I’d rather spend it with Nick and Grace and Clark and not my MacBook. And yet, there’s a reason I keep paying my hosting fee each month. I love this little corner of the Internet I’ve carved out for myself.
So I guess you could say I am working on time management and transitioning to something a bit more organized and a bit less spontaneous. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas about fostering creativity, and have a few projects I’ve been working on around the condo (as the saying goes, Sleep Craft when the baby sleeps) that I am excited to share. I’m also planning to share more wellness focused posts, as I feel like how I care for my body (and brain, and spirit) is especially important these days. Did I mention I broke my toe this weekend? I’ll probably tell you about that too. (Cliffhanger!)
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
They’re not like other bananas. They’re marathon bananas.
Every “how to” I’ve ever read about blogging has said this: Find a niche and stick to it. Normally I’m a rule follower, but I like the freedom to write about finding shells in Mexico one day, and seeing a fart on my dog’s x-ray the next. I am as passionate about fitness and I am about spending the day in bed reading. Two of my most popular (it feels sort of Mean Girls to use that word, but hey) posts are about marathon running and why you shouldn’t get your eyebrows waxed when you’re sad. Breaking the niche rule works for me, and so I am not sure On Tap for Today fits into any one category or genre. Lifestyle, maybe? Healthy Living, sort of?
The posts I’m most proud of, and I suppose the ones that differentiate me even a tiny bit, are those where I’ve taken a risk and been more personal and vulnerable. Writing about being afraid is more difficult than sharing a chili recipe, but it’s also more rewarding for me (trust me, though, the chili is worth making) and, I hope, maybe more helpful for others.
Why do I write what I do?
Writing is often how I do my best processing (I’d choose writing over talking about a challenge any day.). So when I’m sharing something more substantial than, say, a Frenchie photo montage, my motivation is often selfish. I always appreciate, though, when a post resonates with someone else. It’s a privilege to be part of this community and be able to build connections with words.
Who needs school when you have a fence?
More often, though, I write because something strange or funny (both funny haha and funny um… okay) has happened and I think it warrants documenting (like the time there was a skunk trapped in a stairwell near my office, and someone took the time to print up a sign, but didn’t bother to call animal control). Or because I just enjoyed the most amazing agua fresca on the deck and I feel it would be unjust to deny my mom humanity the recipe. Or because I feel like I’m back in the running game (that was before the broken toe, obvi) and I want to hold myself accountable.
Above all, I try to be genuine and authentic in my writing. I’m not an expert at much (I think I’m a semi-expert at my real job, but no one wants to hear about that stuff), and hope my vibe comes across as accessible, approachable, and thoughtful. No one needs a lecture. Except for people that need a lecture. Also, why did I just talk about “my vibe?”
How does my writing process work?
I was that kid who never bothered with outlines (they drove me mental). In fact, I often wrote my outline after the fact, so as to not lose points on pre-writing exercises. Were I presently 11 instead of 32, I don’t think I would fare well on the MCAS exams. Or in middle school, in general.
In this case, the word “daily” is pronounced “erratic.” But thank you, Whole Foods!
When it comes to posts, I almost always write and publish them in one sitting. Sometimes this takes 10 minutes, other times 60. Despite lacking in the bowhunting photography skills department, images are an important component for me. It’s often a photo that drives or inspires the narrative, but sometimes I dig through the 9.3 million unorganized photos in my DropBox for something that fits after writing.
I often read my posts aloud before clicking publish in an effort to catch typos and other embarrassing things… like references to leadership camp (I use this trick at work, too).
And that’s that. Nothing exciting.
And now for the next round of the My Writing Process blog tour…
I do. It’s true.
I’m thrilled that the following three ladies have agreed to share their writing process with us next Monday. I consider each to be the Diana Barry to my Anne Shirley (which is to say, we’re kindred spirits, duh). Please be sure to keep an eye out for their posts, which will be live next Monday, May 19th.
Michelle of Hit the Bricks We technically first met at a blogging event in Boston, but I was a total boob (shocking) and super socially awkward. Fortunately, Michelle is charitable, and didn’t write me off altogether. When we had our first real friend date, I think both of our husbands put lo-jack in our handbags, worried about what happens when one meets an “internet friend” for tea. In the years since, she’s become a true and trusted friend. She likes Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart and office supplies as much as I do, so basically, our friendship was written in the stars (with a mint green fine point Sharpie).
Heather of Then Heather Said I’ve learned a great deal from Heather during the years I’ve been lucky enough to know her. From practical information (the best apps, tips for staying organized, random Presidential facts) to even more important things (specifically, how to be a good friend), I’m so grateful our paths have crossed. Aaaand I get excited every Tuesday, because I love her Twosday posts.
Kristi of Life Sprinkles I first met Kristi at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit cocktail party in Philadelphia. I’ve loved catching up with her at this annual event, but wish I got to see her in person more often (no offense to all the states in between Arizona and Massachusetts, but, like… you’re all kind of in the way). I love her honest, inspiring, and joyful posts. Oh, and if you haven’t already, sign up for her Sprinkle a Day in May series. There are still plenty of May days left to be inspired by this lovely lady.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, here’s a photo of the last time it was socially acceptable for me to wear a crop top and hot shorts at the same time. These days, it’s one or the other. Just kidding… it’s very much neither.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. And I owe you the world.
Last spring, I had the chance to make a quick visit to the Lorraine Motel and the National Civil Rights Museum while I was walking working in Memphis (more on that here). I was scrolling through pictures from that trip earlier today, and thinking how lucky (I’m wracking my brain for a better word, but my brain isn’t cooperating…) we are to have had people like Dr. King come before us. People who had the courage to speak up and speak out. People who shared their dreams and vision, and put the work in motion.
I was less than a month pregnant when I stood on the balcony outside room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, and even though our daughter was, like, the size of a lima bean or something at the time, it feels important that she was there with me.
I can remember a time when I thought the world needed to be fixed, even a little bit, before I could imagine having children. It was shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I was walking past a memorial at school, and saw a young family reading the messages penned on the wall. I remember thinking, The world doesn’t feel good enough for children. Things felt too raw, too worrisome, too complicated, too broken.
After years of working with young people, and now with a baby on the way, I can see the other side of things. Bringing children into a broken world is one of the ways we fix it. How we treat our children — whether as parents, relatives, teachers, friends, neighbors, leaders, etc.– and the values and dreams and visions we impart have tremendous transformative power.
Whenever I visit schools, we talk about role models and heroes and inevitably, a child mentions Martin Luther King, Jr. I can’t help but be as grateful for these students as I am for Dr. King. There is still so much work to be done, but I know they are the ones who will see it through.
While I love giving thanks, I don’t love the whole turkey thing. Mashed potatoes? That’s another story.
I found the perfect vegetarian turkey this year, one that doesn’t require any oven space and only takes five minutes to prepare. And if you’re anything like me, four of those five minutes will be spent laughing your tail feathers off.
Open the can.
Inflate the bird.
Serve at room temperature. Or, like… whatever.
If my hilarious, hilarious prank goes according to plan, by the time you read this, I will have served an inflatable turkey to my family. Details to follow.
Also On Tap for Today:
Thanksgiving Day WOD with Nick at CrossFit Southie