1.14.2015

34.



This morning before my feet hit the ground, I thought about my beautiful life, my husband, my son, my work, the sunny warm weather that I'm getting for my birthday this year. I'm very grateful and I'm still learning lots. xo

Also captured at 33323130292827 and 26.

1.03.2015

2015: H-O-M-E.

One of my favorite traditions is to sit down in the last few days of a year and do some planning for myself. Depending on the year and what I've stumbled upon, the exercise is different - but for the past couple of years, I've done Susannah Conway's Unraveling workbook. The first half of it focused on 2014 and looking back; the second half looked forward at 2015. I took a few hours while we were in New York for Christmas to do the 2014 work and then finished the future work back here in California this week.


People, this is so worth doing.

First of all, it is always a mind bender to read your thoughts from the previous year (mostly because you realize that you basically always knew what you had to do and how you needed to get there, magic really). But also I find it incredibly helpful to theme years, to designate a word that hovers in the background of the next 365 days, casting clarity and grounding me when I need it.

Last year I picked the word "energy." And HOLY MOLY how the energy showed up. I taught workshops on introverts and extroverts. I talked constantly about my internal gas tank, monitoring what I needed most (quiet? social? time with Noah? time away from him? etc.) in a mindful and meaningful way. I mean, it really kept me sane. I made decisions about which work to take on based on my energy levels and how much traveling I was doing. And it wasn't like I woke up every morning and said OK ENERGY, HOW DOES IT APPLY TO THIS DAY?? It just hovered behind everything: a theme, a piece of the floorboards beneath me.

The word really came to greet me in the last few months of the year as I handled the first trimester of this pregnancy (oh... uh... I'M PREGNANT! I guess I haven't said that here!). I was SO wiped out and needed naps upon naps to function. I resisted for a while because naps? Naps are for people avoiding things. Except NOPE, naps are for people who need more energy. So I napped my heart out for a few months to keep the rest of my life on rails.

Energy. It was a great word. It was a great year.

But now it's 2015. And do you know what kind of year I need to manifest when the previous year has been all energetic and powerful? I need a year of home. Not 100% at home, but I need to do some nesting and root-growing and embracing this house and our community here in Berkeley. Because come late June, I'm gonna have another baby to contend with. And it will sure be nice (and necessary) to have friends and a community to support us as we navigate life as a family of four.

Home extends farther out than just a physical space, though. Novels feel like home to me - I need to read more of them. I want to cook a little more. I want to bake. I want to know a few of the regional parks like the back of my hand. I want to check out a few churches, try an exercise class, find a favorite restaurant. I want to spend more time in San Francisco, getting to know the streets and the sights and the coffee shops. Life in Berkeley doesn't feel like a semester abroad anymore, but it does still feel less than established and 2015 is the year to work on that.

And when all is said and done, writing truly feels like home to me too. So I'm going to be doing a lot more of it for work, but also some personal stuff here as well. Because there will be much to write about and process this year. Of that I am sure.

Happy, happy new year, friends. I hope your 2015 is off to exactly the start that you need it to be. And if it's not? Well you're always one decision away from changing everything. That's just the truth. xo

12.14.2014

On screw ups, learning and toolboxes.

I screwed something up for work recently and just found out about it this morning. "Screwed up" is a vague term, but suffice it to say that I got some tough feedback and it was merited. Upon realizing my mistake, I instantly wanted to evaporate. Shame, man! Shame. It's a tough beast for perfectionists everywhere.

Instead of evaporating, I took a deep breath and remembered that Chris and Noah had just left for bagels and I had 20 minutes alone. I lit a candle and I closed my eyes and tried to about what it would feel like to forgive myself. I noticed all of these physical symptoms for shame - gut clenched, unable to sit up straight, a weight deep in my belly. I tried to think about them neutrally as interesting phenomena happening to me and I did a few things to try to get my body feeling better and lighter. Then I did a 15 minute meditation.

Here's why I'm writing about this: I have been accidentally screwing things up for my entire life. I'm a human. That's what it is to be a human. But for the first time in my life, I have a tiny toolbox to draw from when I encounter screw ups or shame or anger or frustration. Over the past couple of years, I have collected a few things I can reach for when I feel panicked.

One tool is meditation. One is lighting a candle. One is texting someone safe who loves me (my sister, a good friend) to tell them about it. One is telling Chris about it and getting a hug and positive reassurance in return. One is working through my feelings by writing about it (hi! this is that).

Do you know what gifts these tools are? THEY ARE BETTER THAN EVERY CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOREVER. Because it means that I'm not alone and I'm not out of options - ever.

*

I read a few things by Shonda Rimes this week that blew me away. First, a commencement speech from earlier this year and second, an acceptance speech about women in entertainment. WHOAH. They are good reads. She talks about being a mom and constantly failing at either Halloween costumes or writing a Scandal script. She talks about why we should stop dreaming and start doing.

So I read those and I felt pretty uplifted. And then I was working on the 4 billion holiday cards that I send and I realized as I was writing them that life here is pretty damn good. What am I going to complain about? We're healthy, we're well. We're challenged. I've got a toolbox for shameful moments. My sister lives a couple miles from us. We're going to spend the holidays home in NY with my entire family, a group of humans who represent an embarrassment of riches in our lives.

Yes, there are other troubling things in our lives. Yes, some things aren't going well. Yes, my kid seems to thrive on hurling himself off of dangerous objects lately and we are BFF with the local pediatricians. But am I seriously going to focus on that stuff in our family's annual Christmas card? Is that what I'm going to let represent the entire year of 2014?

That's what Shonda's pieces were for me. Yes, there is so, so much work for our society to do for women and race and it's a helluva mess out there. Yes, working moms miss moments in their childrens' lives. Yes, there is work to be done.

But yes, we are lucky too. As Liz Gilbert said recently, women have many more options than our grandmothers and mothers had - and it is our choice to exercise them or not. And it's so important not to lose sight of these advances, just as it's important not to stop pushing for even more.

*

I miss writing in this space. I'm not going to make any resolutions about it because there are reasons I haven't been here much lately (most notably, time and bandwidth)... but I do miss it. And this morning's screw up has brought me back here, a home of sorts. For that I'm grateful.

Sending you all lots of light and hope and advancement and gratitude. xo

10.13.2014

Motherhood, two years in.

Chris and I saw the movie Boyhood earlier this summer. If you haven't seen it, I really suggest watching it - especially if you're parenting a son these days. It's a beautiful story, finely executed and, of course, it made me anxious about raising a son, the trials and tribulations that await him as he grows into the man he is meant to be.

But the moments that made me anxious weren't what affected me the most. No, those moments just confirmed for me what I know is coming: I will not be able to protect my son from the journey that awaits him.

What affected me the most was a scene involving his mother, depicted by Patricia Arquette. As her son is packing his boxes for college, this strong character breaks down at her kitchen table. I just thought there would be more, she sobs.

I think she's talking about what it means for her last child to leave the house, to no longer be married, to be free of the familiar duties that were ground into her during the child-rearing years. The bottom drops out and she faces the next phase of life as a woman. Which is... WHAT, exactly?

I watched that scene and I cried because I felt her pain and confusion, but something inside me steeled itself as well during those moments. My life, while incredibly enriched by my husband and my child, remains my life. And I see these intense child-rearing years as a phase in my life, certainly the beginning of a new type of life as a mother, but certainly I feel there will be more for me after my children are grown. Of course I do.

I've been watching and reading lots from Elizabeth Gilbert lately and one of the things that most strikes me is her assertion that women have had SO many fewer years (and role models) for the hero's journey as compared to men. Dudes have been having hero journeys for centuries. Women's history reveals a much, much shorter list of names to inspire ourselves from.

And so on my son's second birthday, here is what I want to say to him:

My darling, my sweet light, Noah. I feel 1000% lucky to be your mama. I love guiding you through life and everything that entails. And, as you have an entire life journey ahead of you, I'm only 33 years through mine! So our paths will continue on together for a while yet, but at a certain point it will be natural for you to find your own way... and it will be natural for me to find new twists and turns as well. I hope that modeling that a woman has a hero's journey too will inspire you and shape your understanding of what's possible for all of the women in your life.



 There's more, ladies. There's always more, no matter what.


Happy birthday to our dear boy. xo

6.19.2014

Big and small.

One day, hopefully when I am very old, I may write a memoir of my life. In this book, I may reduce years and decades and hundreds of thousands of minutes by writing sentences like "We lived in Brooklyn for several years after we got married" or "In the early days, I wasn't quite sure what Plucky was." And maybe that seems kind of sad.

But, actually, anticipating the reduction of episodes of my life relaxes me. One day, "the early days in Berkeley" will be the most boring part of the story. One day, "the toddler years" will be fuzzy and warm, hazy with memory of the smell of baby shampoo. One day, the anxieties of sending my first Plucky proposals will be softened by the charm of having been a rookie.

And so, whatever feels big today will be small tomorrow.

This is true for most things.

*

Last night after taking myself out to dinner, I checked my email on the way to the car and discovered that I just signed a significant deal for my business. I nearly cried. I am just so grateful for the work, for the chance to do what I believe is the reason I exist, for the ability to support my family with it. 

This morning someone asked me where I thought I'd be in 3 years and I said I had no idea, but that I have a goal for 30 years from now. Sometimes we must think large. Sometimes we must carve out an entire universe and get to work creating it. Amid the to-do-list apps, picking Cheerios off the floor and responding to email, we must remember we are BIG. We live long. We can do a lot. 

And so I try not to get distracted too much by the small these days. When I am frazzled at 5pm and wonder how to assess the day's success, I think about 30 years from now and I ask myself if I moved anything towards that goal. And if the answer is yes, I pick up my son at daycare and sit down to dinner, content.

*

Big and small. Mature and immature. Rookie and pro. Stumble and sprint. These are not starting and end points; these are two points on continuums that we bounce along our whole lives. We grow for 18 years and then we're designated adults, but this means almost nothing. 

The point, it seems to me, is to get better at forgiving yourself for sliding back and forth. No one has it nailed. We're all growing. Every single day, every single year, every single chapter in our memoirs reduces the growth but it's there behind everything. 

So keep moving. 

6.15.2014

Happy Father's Day!

Happy day to all the dads out there. Not a lot of time to write here lately, but here are images from our special morning together at the Berkeley Marina. Hope you all had a good one!










5.18.2014

Be like water.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about death. My own, specifically. There were some days a couple of weeks ago that felt so joyful, so strong, that my immediate reaction was to wonder which Prius was going to run me over in a Berkeley crosswalk later that day. Because life can't be so joyful, can it? Because blueberries can't taste THAT redonk and my work with Plucky can't possibly be THAT fulfilling and my son's amazement at a squirrel can't continue forever.

Right?

Then, two days before Mother's Day, I got the news that a friend from High School died of cancer that returned 25 years after he'd fought it when we were kids. His daughter is a couple months older than Noah. He lived a few blocks from us in Brooklyn and we used to run into each other from time to time on the street; we talked about pediatricians and nanny shares and introduced our spouses.

So for two days leading up to Mother's Day I was weepy, just horrified really. The death that comes at a sweet pinnacle of one's life inched closer.

*

I spend more time in nature these days and it provides such perspective. This morning I threw the kid in the car and we spent an hour poking around the Berkeley Botanical Gardens before his nap. There's a little stream that flows from a pond with lily pads and we watched the water move for a little while. Water doesn't double back. It keeps going, flowing, finding spaces and places to occupy. Sometimes it soaks into the ground and other times it evaporates into the air but I find it especially compelling when it pools and waterfalls down a steep hill.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

I think that's the cycle I'm in right now. Hell, that's probably the cycle we're all in. I listen to Pharrell and Katy Perry while I cook Noah oatmeal in the mornings and I feel like we can do anything. And then later I stumble on this gem when washing dishes and suddenly I'm sobbing over the sink.

Time to regroup.

Time to freefall.

A few weeks ago, a friend confessed that turning 40 has turned him into a sap. He tears up at the slightest thing.

I'm not even 40. So what does it mean when you're 33 and already everything, the pristine goodness of the world and the ugly unfairness, reduces you to your own salt water?

*

I love our life in Berkeley. I feel faceless in Berkeley. I haven't seen flowers like these ever before in my life. Other than my husband, I don't have almost anyone to hug me. The blueberries are incredible but they are $7.98 a pound and I spent $40 on fruit last week, which is (clearly) unsustainable. They collect compost here. We have hundreds of fruit flies inhabiting our kitchen from the compost. My son's daycare spends more time outside. My son's daycare spends less time on arts & crafts. I have more time to cook here. I'm still a crappy cook, though.

"How was the move?" people ask. "How's Berkeley?" And I don't know how to answer. The physical move happened, but the emotional move is still happening. It occurs to me that maybe some people settle someplace for the rest of their lives because they get tired of the cost of transitional periods, the cost of settling in, the months it takes to find routines and make friends and hang paintings. 

 In the meantime, we regroup. And then we freefall. And I try not to think about my death so much. I remember that Brene Brown says that, in moments of imagining the worst (because you feel such joy), you should reject the fear and instead feel gratitude. 

So I'm grateful. For the new opportunities, for the sunshine, for the redwoods and the flowers. For my family and the number of people who love us back home and for my life, that for now continues on, my own swift adventure down a steep hill.