favorite things

The Keep Pile: Winter Things

I decided to see what all the buzz is about lately regarding Marie Kondo and her tidy KonMari Method of organizing. I admit, this influencer influenced me a bit. I folded some of my clothes into neat little rectangles that stand up beautifully in dresser drawers. I also rotated some of my food containers so that they are now resting on one side, file folder style in the kitchen drawer. The Kool-Aid was successfully sipped. Oddly satisfying feelings were achieved.  

I’m still trying to live by the words of my favorite ironic piece of junk wall decor, “The best things in life are not things”. It’s definitely what I believe in, but I’m just kind of distracted at the moment.

So instead of going on another donation and trash pile rampage, chucking things at breakneck speed, I reflected upon some personal belongings in my life that currently “Spark Joy”, as Marie Kondo proudly promotes in KonMari. Material possessions and happiness. I’m still not sure about the connection. Nevertheless, I do currently own a few favorite things that I plan on keeping for a while. I have no affiliation with any of these brands or companies, and receive no benefits or payment from posting information about them. I wouldn’t even know how to go about doing so, and apparently I missed the train on that one.


favorites

Against Me! Hoodie It is a souvenir from the best punk rock show that my husband and I ever attended. It represents amazing music, a crazy date night on the evening before Back To School Night, and the hero of it all, Laura Jane Grace. I’ve owned a lot of random band merch over the years, but this one is the keeper. It fits perfectly, and I have goals of wearing it until I’m an old lady.

Lululemon leggings They were on sale years ago, so I purchased two pairs. They have lasted me at least 4 years, ever since I started taking barre classes. They are durable, hug all the right places, and they still have a lot of mileage left. At the risk of being basic or bougie, I invested in a pair (or two) of  Lulus. I don’t regret it.

Hydro Flask Coffee Tumbler It keeps my coffee or tea boiling hot. The liquid stays so hot that I’m always scared to take a sip during the first half hour or so out of fear of burning my tongue and lips, and it does end up happening sometimes. It’s all part of the morning wake-up routine. The beverage stays warm well into the late afternoon/evening hours.

Burton DryRide Snowboard Jacket This is my FAVORITE JACKET of all time. Again, I happened upon this item on a sale rack. Thank you, Any Mountain! It keeps me warm and dry. I love the print pattern of punctuation, and it’s a great inner layer for snowboard days. It’s a the perfect jacket for school, especially on rainy days.

Ride Hellcat 2017 Snowboard My snowboarding life started when I was about 21. When I turned 36, I decided it was time to upgrade my gear because I had been riding on the same gear since 2001. I have thoroughly enjoyed the rides on this current upgraded setup. Amazing feelings of joy and happy place thoughts live on this board, even when it’s out of commission during the off-season.

Although I appreciate the functionality of these items and some of the memories attached to them, I could probably continue living a great life without them. They’ll stay in the keep pile a bit longer.


Until then,

What kinds of items end up in your keep pile?

Thanks for reading!

balance, health, health and wellness, mindful, working mom

Sunday Scaries: Holiday Edition

I feel like I have successfully achieved the ultimate level of fun on the weekends during this holiday season so far. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy time with the family, have a couple nights out on the town, and find time to catch-up sessions with old friends and other mommies. I’m truly grateful for everyone in my life, and the fun experiences I get to share with all of them, weather it be time at the movies, or an evening at a super packed dive bar that smells like a porta potty.   

So of course, I’m completely exhausted. At times, I become stressed beyond words when I stop and really think about the behind-the-scenes coordinating, problem solving, and decision making that is necessary to enjoy the holidays. Outfit planning, Amazon Prime purchases, and Uber coordination are time consuming. The journey across town into Vallejo to pick up lumpia for the staff  holiday party was a multistep process, but it was definitely worth it.

So this morning I woke up anxious and irritable. I’m sure it’s because experiencing the Sunday Scaries is a real thing, but I finally owned up to it and I was honest with myself. I’m completely overwhelmed. There is so much going on all the time, and I’m even finding myself only “half listening” to people more often than I prefer. Sorry guys!

There are 5 school days left before break. They’re going to be challenging. Then, as soon as that’s over, the family and I are packing up our vehicle the next day to enjoy Christmas in Lake Tahoe for an undetermined amount of time. I actually woke up feeling very stressed about the logistics of it all.

After a full acknowledgement of the stress levels and remembering the mental terms and agreements checkbox that I said yes to at the start of the holiday season, I finally put myself in check. I get to experience all of this. Figuring out how to transport an Elf on The Shelf in a plastic jar (with breathing holes) up to Tahoe is a first world problem. Gathering snow gear and coordinating ski lessons for my daughter? Same. Any angst related to my job and my workplace is just that. I have a job. I have the opportunity to work, learn, and yes, pay those darn bills.

Remembering to be grateful  saved me again. It’s easy to lose site of it all when stopping to look at the big picture is put on the backburner. The game plan for this week is to fire up the Yule Log of thanks whenever things get sketchy and stressful. I should probably also set another goal and make sure that I fully listen to whoever is talking to me at the moment. Inner thoughts about Elf on the Shelf can wait.


Until then,

How do you maintain balance during the chaos of the holidays? What are you thankful for?

 

 

balance, health, mindful

Small Business Hero

I returned to my old neighborhood yesterday. Todos Santos Plaza is located in Downtown Concord, California. It is always an interesting place to spend your time. You can hear BART whiz by. You can experience real metropolitan traffic complete with one way streets and the thrill of the hunt for suitable parking. It offers a nice mix of fun little restaurants, a huge Farmer’s Market twice a week, and yes, sketchy characters and transients. The bums are top notch, and they are wanderers who flail around and stop to yell and speak their minds.  

It was so perfect that the belligerent bum who was yelling obscenities into the street was yards away from me after I pulled out a bunch of cash from the ATM for my hair appointment. I went into stealth mode and entered my car through the passenger side just to keep things exciting. If the kids were with me, the choreography wouldn’t have been as smooth.

I decided to go back to the hole-in-the-wall hair salon and visit Tammy again after almost three years. Tammy is an amazing lady. I feel ashamed that I even attempted to get a haircut or color service by anyone else. I tried my mom’s hair salon (also another hole in the wall), but the owner of that establishment is known to leave customers alone, stranded with the foils in their hair while she goes to “Pick up her daughter real quick”. Mom enjoyed that.

I’ve gone to the high-end pretentious salons that have fancy vacuum systems to get rid of fallen hair very soon after they are detached from the client’s head and are not really anything to write home about when it’s all said and done. Tammy doesn’t pretend. Tammy doesn’t leave her customers alone in the shop. Tammy tells me, “I’ll take care of you, Hon. It’s been long time. But I remember you”.

Shortly after my arrival, she wrestled with the overgrown potted plant that took up a corner of the salon and also blocked part of her price list. She made this effort  just so I could be comfortable in the chair. After a brief consultation, she set me up, and she went to work with the color. I cozied up with my book and occasional wandering eyes.

KB Hair and Nail Salon is Small Business LEGIT. The random 50 gallon fish tank. The Holy Mother Mary. The other two clients in the salon getting a perm and debriefing about Thanksgiving. They were Golden Girls-esque. The gossip. The concrete brick walls that lacked any color and the exposed pipe. Haphazard wires connected a flat screen TV to the wall. A college football game was on, but no one was really paying attention.

To add to the amazing ambiance, the same belligerent bum that I’d encountered earlier even came by! The door was wide open due to the perm fumes, so we got to experience belligerent bum full force at maximum volume. Tammy just responded with, “He knows not to go into people’s shops”. Again, she took care of me. She made me feel safe. Later on, she told me a story about her son that melted my heart and made me think about my future 14-year old son who is now currently 20 months old.  

My hair turned out fabulous (by my standards), and I only paid $75 for cut and color. She made my hair soft and pretty again. After I squared up my payment, she asked me to write my name down on an index card so she can start a file for me about my future color treatments. I appreciated this low-tech method of getting to know her clients.      

Now I truly know the meaning behind Small Business Saturday. The proud owners of small businesses put their heart and their lives into their jobs. They do what it takes to make real connections to customers and clients. Tammy is my Un-Fancy hero. She is the reason that I will go back and visit downtown Concord every 8-10 weeks. Thank you Tammy. Thank you, Small Businesses. The world is full of expectation, comparison, and suffering about it all. The magic of a small business can help keep it all balanced.

Now, as a consumer I have #smallbusiness goals in mind. 


Until then…

What are your favorite small businesses? 


KB Hair and Nail Salon 

Todos Santos Plaza 

balance, classroom, health and wellness, mindful

The Questions You May Not Ask

Teaching 4th grade will always hold a special place in my heart. California history, particularly the Gold Rush Era, was one of my favorite units to teach. During the first 5 or so years of my career, my grade level colleagues and I would devote endless hours of coordination, fundraising,  and planning to send our students to a 3 night camp in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Gold Camp. It’s what you did when you got to 4th grade. History was learned. Forever memories were made.

The journey to get there however, was EXHAUSTING. Every year, through tireless fundraising efforts, we scraped together enough money to finance transportation for the 2 hour drive up to Sonora, California. What was the mode of transportation? The big blue school bus that could. It wasn’t the most updated vehicle. I remember feeling the engine straining as we traveled up the winding mountain roads (with million dollar views, mind you), while the kiddos with motion sick tummies expelled their queasiness into gallon Ziploc bags. I remember feeling so “done” with the trip even before we got off the bus.

All of the stress and exhaustion always took a dramatic turn for the better when we unloaded the bus, stood on solid ground, and inhaled the crisp mountain air. Things continued to improve when the camp staff and parent chaperones took charge of the program and activities. The teachers could get back to their regularly scheduled breathing.

gold camp
Teacher BFFs 9 years ago. Stuck on the big blue bus.

The ground rules were set, including the most important one. Our fearless camp leader made it known right away.  

“There will be NO What are we gonna…? or When are we gonna?… questions. Ever. Don’t even try to re-frame your questions to not sound like those kinds of questions.”

Best educational rule ever. I sometimes forget how powerful and simple the concept is. Let people (and little ones) enjoy their time as it happens. A schedule is set in place as a guide, but it is not meant to be a spoiler.

I too, followed the advice over the duration of camp and I was able to enjoy it so much more. I learned something new along with the kids every year. The scenery kept my calm levels in check even though I was in the midst of the most stressful field trip of the year. I will never forget the amazing sights and sounds, even during the muddy and rainy years. Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen? YES. Keep in mind though, another ground rule was to not buy the baseball sized jawbreakers as your Gold Camp souvenir. The vistas and feeling of accomplishment after the ditch hike will be a forever memory in mental teacher file. Columbia State Park Cemetery walk? My favorite.

Maintaining the delicate balance of anticipation of what’s to come, and suffering over what you can’t control is a hard thing to do. I struggle with it all the time, through milestones and small moments. Then I remember Gold Country. I remember living in the now, even back then, because that was all I could do in the moment. 

I’ll remember this happy place as a fun, yet stressful memory in my career. I’ll also remember that sometimes I can’t allow myself to ask, “What are we gonna?….” or “When are we gonna?”.

I’ll find out. Everyone will.

Until then…

Maybe I’ll plan a family trip up to The Queen of The Southern Mines sometime soon.


 

http://www.sonoraca.com/

 

https://www.columbiacandykitchen.com/

 

https://www.visitcalifornia.com/attraction/columbia-state-historic-park

 

https://www.gocalaveras.com/location/california/gold-country/murphys-california/

 

balance, declutter, health, health and wellness, mindful, working mom

I Remembered. I forgot.

I Remembered:

to schedule the county health dental presentation

8:15 morning yard duty

to clean the house for the birthday party

to eat breakfast (in the car)

to turn in the time sheet

to make the copies

to buy the milk

the day my daughter was born 8 years ago

to drink water at recess

to say, “Thank You”


I Forgot:

to wash the swimsuits for swim team day

to sign the reading log

to throw away the pee pee diaper

to say,  “Happy Birthday” to a colleague

to go to the bathroom at recess

to gas up the car

to send the email

to speak up

the laptop charger

deodorant for the weekend getaway

to stop and take a breath



I’ll remember more things this week, and I’ll forget a lot too. I’ll receive kudos, and I’ll receive naughty note reminders.

 

Until then,

All that matters is right now. Sometimes that is the hardest thing for me to remember.

balance, health and wellness, mindful

Kleenex Box Donations, Please

Sometimes I underestimate the power of a really good cry. I am fully aware of the healthy alternatives to bottling up my emotions and letting them all spew out at once unexpectedly. Exercise is probably best. Meditation would be next on my list.

But bottled emotion is like convenience food for my mental health sometimes. It’s easy. It helps me move on with life. However, eventually, my mind has to get rid of the waste and the thought patterns that no longer serve me. Bawling my eyes out is sometimes the way to go. It feels good after it’s all said and done. Kind of.

It’s obviously unnerving when a crying fest gets rolling and reaches the point of no return. The other night, my speaking ability reached the ultimate level of talk-yell-crying. It’s a way of communicating that involves trying to FORCE the words out while desperately trying catch breath. Why even bother trying to verbalize anything? Probably because it has to just come out somehow.

Everything that was bothering me just worked its way out in big spurts of jumbled phrases. Sadness and anger fueled the tears. The feeling of insecurity and disappointment in myself and my twisted view of thinking that I’m not good enough kept the waterworks running. Anxiety was definitely in the mix. Exhaustion? You bet. I accessed emotions that I had conveniently tucked away weeks before. My husband was there to listen, and try to make sense of it all. I don’t know what I would do without him.

There has been SO MUCH INPUT in my life lately. Visual, auditory, digital, sentimental, emergency, you name it. Processing it and taking action has been a challenge. Over the course of the last 5 days, I have become so much more appreciative of others’ experiences, struggles, and perspectives. Everyone who is involved in my life has something so meaningful and genuine to share with me. I’m thankful for it all.

And sometimes, I just need time to cry about it. 

The next morning, I pulled it together, threw my hair in a bun and chose to wear glasses and a T-shirt to work. Thank goodness it was College Wear Wednesday. I also skipped a shower. I took all necessary steps to remedy and treat the eye and face puffiness.

I received compliments about my appearance throughout the day. Mr. Custodian noticed how lovely my hair looks when it’s up. A parent in my room said I look adorable, and I informed her it was my “no time” look. She said she wished she could pull it off. My students questioned my glasses, but they liked them (supposedly).

glasses
The “No Time” look

The words gave me the boost I needed. I was noticed. I was acknowledged. I felt loved. However, I am all of the above, all of the time. My husband and my own children are the first to let me know at the start of every day. Sometimes I carelessly overlook it when I’m stressed. 

There are so many people out there who have not found their support system yet. This week I learned that everyone is allowed to be in tune with their mental state, and seek out connection with others. It takes a lot of courage to be on the listening end. It takes a lot to be the one who offers the space to connect with someone who is vulnerable or sad. This message just so happened to be promoted to the students at my school all week. It impacted me as well. Reach out. Connect. Be brave.

Check out the link to Start With Hello Week and the Sandy Hook Promise. I was inspired and my perspective was regained. Coincidentally, it was the best kind of reset and recharge that I needed. 

Start With Hello Week

balance, mindful, working mom

Would Anybody Like The Last Piece?

My typical workday + mommy duty hours are similar to an amazing holiday pie or a fabulous full sized birthday cake. At the end of the day, you find the awkward last piece. When the last small serving of my personal time and energy remains, I just don’t know what to do with it at times. Someone wants it. Something needs it. Others don’t know how to ask (politely) for it. Who needs it the most? Who or what is most deserving?

cake pops
I call dibs on the crumbs, sticks, and wrappers.

I usually devote these precious bits of bottom of the barrel energy to the “time saving” chores that will help me be get out the door quickly the next day.

Pack the lunches. Pour the baby bottles. Line up the backpacks and other bags. Click in the car seat. Plan the outfits. Decide if it’s a hair washing day tomorrow and plan accordingly.  Send a few last emails (after contracted hours). Capture a spider that is freaking everyone out. Locate the lost shoe that has been missing for 3 days.  

I tried putting all of it on hold the other night, and I forced myself to just enjoy a few installments of my favorite reality TV “housewives” show after everyone else went to bed. It was rare TV viewing that was given my undivided attention. It felt strange. It was somewhat fun. I didn’t really know how to use the remote correctly. 

In the middle of my morning commute the next day, however, I realized what I had forgotten. I left the baby bottles and my work laptop at home. I had also forgotten two non-essential, but nice to have items. Sunglasses and a hoodie. An extra stop was necessary to resolve the absent items. Portions of the pie/cake of my daily routine were quickly given away before the official workday even started. As the day went on, many more people, things, and events needed a piece throughout the day. I served it up. 

So again, at the  end of the day, I’ve been stuck with the crumbs. I decided to just enjoy them. Rather than TV time, I used the tiny bits of energy that I had left and I wrote this post. Time saving chores won’t bring me the same satisfaction that I feel when I do something that makes me happy and balances out the chaos a bit. I enjoyed the last piece. I think I’ll call dibs on it again tomorrow.

Until then,

How do you treat yourself when you have a bit of extra time to spare?

balance, health, mindful, working mom

Red Light Realization

I received an early birthday gift this weekend. On Saturday afternoon while my daughter and I were running errands, we were in the middle of a classic, long-winded, captive audience car conversation. The long winded one was me of course, and the captive one in the backseat had to listen to mommy instead of Spotify for this ride. We were discussing the age differences between various members of our immediate and extended family. I proceeded to tell her that I’m turning 39 in
4 weeks.

Then by some coincidental timing on the roadway, and a wonderful opportunity to be silly, my daughter decided to make the most out of reading the “SPEED LIMIT 40” sign in the most dramatic voice possible. We both cracked up.

I slowed to a stop at the next red light and then I realized something. I’m not turning 39. I’m turning 38. YES. HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

bday wish
We caught some “wishes” during our family walk later on that evening. 

My slight miscalculation brought on some relief, excitement, and a little bit of embarrassment. Am I obsessing over turning the big 4-0 in a couple of years? Maybe. And maybe I should download an app for an accurate countdown.

The truth is, I have encountered a few “reality check” moments and close-to-home realizations over the last week or so that have been exciting, humbling, sad, and scary. Health, wellness, and the opportunity to travel and achieve life goals translates differently in your late 30’s as compared to living life in your early 20’s. At least it has for me. I feel like I finally “get it” with a lot of things in life. But then again, I probably don’t. Either way, all I can do is choose how I react to upcoming events, whether I’m ready for them or not. It’s a good thing I’m not ready to be 39 yet.

Until then,

T minus 3 and a half weeks-ish until the big 3-8. How should I celebrate? What does turning 40 mean to you?

classroom, mindful, working mom

That’s The Real Question

The excitement of Back-to-School is making a slow transition back to reality.The reality is that I’m a working mom again. I like to think that I’m a “pretend” stay at home mommy for about 3 months out of the year. I have two kids of my own, but this week I met 25 new ones who will also be under my care until June. Oh yes, I have to teach them a whole lot of things by then too. I think we’re in good shape so far. It was a good week.

Oh the exhaustion. My almost 8-year old and I were enjoying a chill moment on the couch after the first day of school.

“We did it. The first day of school is done”, I said, offering her a high-five.

“I can’t believe it! I can’t believe I’m in second grade! And good job today, Mommy.”

“So how are we going to do this everyday for the rest of the school year?” I was really asking her for some insight on this one. I was tired, and the day was catching up with me.

“Now that’s the real question, isn’t it?”, she responded. Her tone was so even, so calm, and so composed.

Good answer. Really good answer. I’ll take it.

I asked my daughter a silly question at a moment of stress and exhaustion, but her response was real. It was Mommy-like. It was teacher-like. And yes, she may have heard my husband say that a time or two. I have no idea how the year will go, but it started off well. There’s no way of knowing what is to come, and I only have control over what’s happening to me in the moment when it happens. Reflecting back is helpful to some degree. However, I know it’s not healthy to dwell. For now, my brain sees a couple of lists. 


My 14th  First Week of School

Motivations:

  • The custodian told me again that I have the cleanest and best smelling classroom in the school. He thanked me.
  • I implemented meditation in my classroom. 5 minutes of being mindful after recess is powerful. 
  • I heard some healthy gossip at work. A couple of people want to clone me. I do to. I can get more housework done that way.

Meh:

  • I had McDonald’s once this week for dinner. Exhaustion won that round.
  • At Target, I wiped my toddler’s nose with his own sweater in front of someone I ran into. I hadn’t seen her since high school. It was an awkward reunion. Meanwhile, there are 60 boxes of tissue living in my classroom.

Motivation and Mehs are the driving force of life. Compliments and affirmations can really make someone’s day too. I plan on stopping more often to enjoy the moments, even if they’re “meh”.


Until then,

I will tuck a few tissues away somewhere, just in case.

mindful

Dreams Are Unfair

Lake Tahoe is my favorite place to go when I need a little break from the Bay Area landscape. Sometimes I just need a bit more of a majestic mountain summit and a beautiful blue lake in my direct view for a mental reset. This is a First World problem, I know. I grew up skiing and snowboarding in Tahoe during the winter, and in the summer, lake time is still my favorite. I just recently discovered the enjoyment and relaxation element of stand up paddleboarding, or SUPing as the cool outdoorsy people would say.

However, due to my brain being on overload lately, and summer coming to a close, my subconscious mind decided to give me the gift of a dreamy blue nightmare. The setting? Just a short 3 mile drive up north to my most happy place.  

The  SUP rental was paid for and ready to go. In a matter of minutes, Lake Tahoe turned into a treacherous, swelling ocean with 100 foot tsunami-grade waves reaching up over everyone. What I was most concerned about wasn’t saving my own life or helping those around me. My daughter was tucked away and safe with someone else. My son was a stuffed animal. I think he was a Tsum Tsum, swaddled and sleeping. My husband? Accounted for, I think.

The waves reached up. Way up. My only concern was being totally bummed out about wasting money on the board rental. I continued watching the Mavericks-style waves, in horror and amazement. Someone, (maybe it was my dad?) suggested that I wear a life vest when I finally decide to go out there on the SUP. Good advice. I never went out on the board though. My hard earned make-believe money was wasted.

I don’t recall much more, but when I woke up, I instantly identified the scene as a stress induced dream. It was kind of cool to watch those waves though.

So what did I learn?

The mind works in ridiculous ways, especially when you’re stressed. It can take you for a ride. It’s beautiful. It’s strange. It’s weird. When you stand up against the 100 foot wave, and you’re not sure what to do, you learn that you are human. You are small in comparison to the rest of the world.

The nerves will bubble up on Monday on my 14th first day of school. I will visualize my stomach as a creamy coated, animated Pepto-Bismol pink after the first bell rings. But I will know that it’s all okay. I will stop, drop, and embrace. Breathing will help too.

Until Then,

I will not wear pink on the first day of school. I will wear blue in honor of my favorite (calm) lake.

sup