balance, family, gratitude

Ten Day Hero

Recently I learned that a lot can happen in the span of nine or ten days. In March, I traveled to the other side of the world. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip, but it taught me that I can take on challenges and gain some life changing perspectives in less than two weeks. 

On Memorial Day, my father died unexpectedly. The initial stage of raw grief went on for over a week until the final formal farewell. It just so happened that his funeral and burial fell on the ninth day after his death. The nine days that led up to it were the toughest days of my life, just waiting to say that final goodbye, ready to transition to the gone but not forgotten state of mind. It was more proof that you can do anything in nine or ten days.

Since then, I’ve been living life nine days at a time. Mentally, it’s a manageable increment. I can set goals and appreciate the good in life. I can do what needs to be done while acknowledging that the new void isn’t going to go away or ever be filled. Living in the now is ideal, but in the current circumstances, looking forward and looking back in nines and tens seems like a good approach at this time. 

Throughout this journey, there’s been one true hero who has helped me power through this new life without dad. 

Mom. 


She has helped me organize and reorganize my thoughts and my things. She’s been there for my kids and my husband, helping us with what we may need day to day. She gives the kids daily doses of spontaneous laughter and silly sessions that only grandma can provide. She’s taught me how to enjoy going to the gym.

Similar to our adventure back in March, she decided to embrace a travel opportunity that was bittersweet. She decided to still go on an Alaskan cruise that she and my dad had booked last year. The decision was a challenging one to make, but she did it. She left home for a bit and saw the sights. She enjoyed the time with other family members, all in the spirit of my dad. Ten days later, she came back, even stronger and more positive than ever.  

Everyday, she shows me and reminds me that I am brave, just like she is, even as we stand at the edge of the deepest type of sorrow, when the tears just flow during those odd spontaneous moments. 

I told her I was proud of her, and I admire her for how strong she is. She responded by saying it’s because of me. I’m not sure if she knows my secret. I’ve just been following her lead.

She’s the true ten day hero.

Grandma returns home after ten days at sea.


balance, favorite things, gratitude, health and wellness, mindful

Morning Routine

During the school year, the first 53 minutes of my morning are filled to the max with a whirlwind of must dos that begin right from the moment I exit the bed.

  • I must make myself look presentable so that everyone who I interact with at work today, including my 26 students take me seriously, but also appreciate the elements of a good outfit of the day.
  • I must make sure my own two children are awake and allow time for that process in itself.
  • I must load up the lunch bags, nuke the veggie bacon, and toast the waffles.
  • I must haul the daily “baggage claim” collection of items out the car, which feels like we are taking a week long road trip to somewhere.
  • Above all, I MUST get the hot coffee into the vessel, then it has to be safely placed in the vehicle with the same care that I give to the children when they get buckled in.

The continuous action of opening and closing doors, drawers, containers, and bags puts me in a bit of a tizzy. I also have to factor in the additional flights up and down the stairs well after shoes have been put on for those forgotten items that are either game-changers for the day or completely unnecessary. The scarf that I went back up to get which ended up making me overheat and literally start sweating during Writer’s Workshop probably wasn’t worth the extra minutes.

My brain is already working overtime well before 6:50 a.m. That is the target goal time in which the kids and I bid my husband farewell and get into the car to drive 10 miles in the opposite direction to drop off my two-year-old son to my mom and dad’s house for the day.

Upon arrival to my childhood home, both of my kids in tow, the morning mental reset begins. I get to breathe for a bit, about 15-20 minutes to be exact. Mom and Dad’s house is familiar and comforting. I enjoy the sights and sounds and reminders of my upbringing. The kids get to play together for a few minutes. I get to sit and chat with my parents and catch up on breaking news regarding family or other topics. I sit and sip my beloved coffee. Sometimes I find treasures that are perfect for a Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday post.

I cherish this window of time each morning despite the angst and grumpiness that may have occurred an hour or so before. I’m truly grateful for my parents taking on the full time job of watching my little one, (again for a second time), but also for the blessing of a few moments to just enjoy the company, the moment, the Now.

The morning rush inevitably starts up again, when I usher my daughter out the door so we can head back toward school. We say our goodbyes and hit the road. Even though the angst of the day starts creeping back, I feel good knowing that my favorite morning must do always helps me to recallibrate the stress to gratitude ratios of the daily grind. I have a lot to pack, plan, and do every morning, but I have a lot more to be happy about and to be thankful for.

Until then,

What are your favorite or least favorite parts of your morning routine?

Thanks for reading!

Jenn


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?