Eat. Move. Read. Write. Repeat.

I went to Target today. I’d like to say I needed some items but honestly, I just wanted to go. I wanted to feel normal. Walking the aisles of Target, child free, is an embarrassingly basic and boring joy but it’s one I was craving. But on the way I listened to the news of the impact on the music industry driving past empty parking lots and shuttered restaurant windows. Inside Target I felt guilty for indulging myself, silly for thinking this trip was a necessary boost, walking past employees in masks and gloves.

At work we’ve been discussing the long term impacts of the pandemic on the way we work, the way we interact with one another. How will corporate office life evolve? Some of the outcomes will be for the better, but it’s still overwhelming to think that this is one of those events, where we’ll never be the same. Whatever generation my children are, this will be one of those markers that defines their childhood.

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But those thoughts are bigger than today.

Every day I try to do four things- eat, move, read and write. It’s not much but it’s what really matters to my mental health. Eat food that nourishes me. Move my body, after sitting all day at my desk alone. Read, rather than watch TV, which I do too much of. Write, even it’s just a journal entry or a letter.

Read

I’ve started staying up later because we don’t have to get up as early to get the kids going. Getting up at 6:45 am is pretty luxurious so I often stay up to 11 these days which gives me time to binge TV AND read my book. I’m embarrassed to say on my nightstand tonight is a parenting book, because tantrums are ruling my life, but I also just finished two less embarrassing titles, both of which I would recommend.

Cape Fear Rising Philip Gerard

Disappearing Earth Julia Phillips

Move

I definitely get some movement chasing after the boys every day. Their favorite game right now is to climb on my back and pretend I’m their “mama monkey”. Since they climb me at the same time, this is quite a workout!

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This is always my view. It’s adorable but I’m about to get clobbered.

But I’m also trying to run a couple times a week, even short distances, as well as practice yoga. I have always been skeptical about doing yoga videos, but I’m now converted. Yoga with Adriene has been a total gift.  I recommend her Yoga for Uncertain Times videos.

I’m going to try Dance Church this week to feed my soul with music and move my body. A few evenings a week, I’ve been glad to get my toes tapping along to different artists via Cabin Fever Tunes. Most are country artists connected the Austin music scene if that’s your type of thing.

Write

I’d like to say I’m developing a nice consistent writing habit but my writing is as sporadic as my emotions in this pandemic. Still each day, I’m checking in and seeing what works. Today a blog, tomorrow a letter and so on.

Eat

My postpartum depression and anxiety took a toll on the way I eat this past year. When I got stressed out, I’d simply stop eating. If I ate, I would turn towards junk food- ice cream and Cheetos, that sort of thing. Now that I’m on medication and feeling better, I’m trying to ensure I eat all my meals and that I’m focusing on food that has actual nutritional value. The sweet tooth I’ve developed from months of terrible habits isn’t easy to kick, but I’m getting there.

We started a garden this year that appears to actually be growing things. We’ve been able to eat a couple arugula salads thus far so basically we’re doing better than we have the last 4 years!

Today I’m able to check off all my goals. There’s a new book on my bedside table, a blog ready to post, a yoga video kept me moving and I did some living room dancing. Tyler, current resident chef, fixed pizza for dinner.

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Love in the time of Coronavirus

My Corona

In a land where every day is the same, I’ve been surprised to discover, I like staying at home. I even like working from home. I wouldn’t mind the casual workplace encounter. A run-in at the water cooler. Waiting for my turn at the microwave.

To my surprise, I am the kind of person who quarantines in jeans. Yes, I am trying to prove something- that I am not a lump on a log. But when a child doesn’t have to be dropped off at daycare, when I don’t have to drive to work, don’t have to dress nicely or even pack my lunch, it turns out I am a morning person.

In full disclosure, my childcare has had no interruptions. My spouse and mom take care of the kids while I work. This puts me in a very privileged category, I know. I would not feel quite so warm towards working at home if I was also responsible for two small children.

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The problem that has become clear, is actually how easy it is for me to melt into my couch, to feel content behind my house walls. I could easily pretend the world outside does not exist. Keep the news turned off. Binge TV all evening. Take my walks, wave to the neighbors from a safe distance and play with the kids.

Tune out. Separate. Distance. Build up walls. Believe my world is an island.

I never would have described myself as a homebody. I don’t go out much under normal circumstances, but I always felt a part of the world. But was I? Am I? I’m comfortable at home. Comfortable behind my laptop, stack of books nearby, no new hobbies on the horizon.

There is something to be said for having to leave your home each day, your creature comforts. To have to go out and be a part of your community, see the signs of poverty or wealth, interact with your coworkers, complain about traffic. Feel invested. 

And so I read the news. Shout at neighbors across the fence. Buy gift cards for local restaurants. Donate to the food bank. Text friends to check on them. Instant message coworkers. Write letters. Pretend that this is definitely going to be the night I make sourdough bread. Spend too much time on Instagram.

And enjoy my solitude a little bit too, in anticipation for the day we can all be together again.

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Raising Boys

Every time I imagined having a family when I was young, each time we got pregnant, I always thought I’d have daughters. I thought since I was one of two girls and my sister had two girls and I was such a damn feminist I was destined to raise girls. That sounds stupid, but if I am totally honest, that was my logic.

So obviously I have two boys (or children who are biologically male but may later identify otherwise). I am jealous of my friends with daughters who will get to pass on stories, advice, experiences that are specific to women. There is no relationship that is more powerful than that of female friendship, which can often apply to mothers and daughters.

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Sisters. I’m the one who can’t sit up by herself. 

Will I have a special bond with my boys that is totally different and equally wonderful? Yes, of course, but the story of uplifting women is the one that is most familiar to me.

This week at work we had a guest speaker talk for International Women’s Day. She was a bad-ass former CFO of a major pharmaceutical company and while she said many humorous/poignant/thought-provoking things, the one still with me is “Raise your sons differently.”

Exactly.

I am mindful of many things as we raise our children. I want them to be more resilient than we have been, with inner resources that they can rely on when they feel down, when a challenge seems too much to bear. I want them to be kind and have empathy for themselves and their fellow human, even when that person’s experiences are very different than their own. I want them to appreciate nature and music and the internal freedom those things can bring.

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Early on, I was more worried about addressing “this is for girls and this is for boys” topics. I don’t want my boys to feel limited from interests, hobbies, careers that society identifies as feminine. You want to sew? Learn it. You want to be a nurse? That’s a noble and important job, work hard for it. You want to be a stay at home dad. More power to you. Now I’ve realized it’s the modeling that we do as parents that is so much more impactful. It’s not just the targeted conversations we have, but our behaviors. 

Together I am hopeful that Tyler and I can model a partnership where my boys will see two people who treat each other as equals, both with valid opinions. Where we compromise and attempt balance. Where we are human and learn from our discussions, from our mistakes.

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So, here’s to raising boys that are feminists. Boys that believe their mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends, random female strangers are capable of anything and have never thought otherwise. Boys who give as much as they take. Boys who approach each situation with the idea of shared responsibility and accountability.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Getting My Fancy Back

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been fancy. I’m a self-described plain Jane but really, I just like things simple- furniture and home decor more purposeful than pretty, jewelry more minimal than statement, and my look more streamlined than statement-making.

I look the minimalist, natural aesthetic but between this and simplifying my life due to children, I’ve lost a bit of my fun and fancy. At one point I had pink hair. My clothes were very colorful. I had solo dance parties in fancy dresses alone in my home. I used to wear my wedding veil around the house for no reason. I delighted in making homemade, overcomplicated gifts for all my friends. I painted our garage apartment all fiesta inspired colors. Fancy. Fun.

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Actual outfit I wore in high school. This hair is pink.

My mental fog has cleared from babes enough that I have started to envy people with a bit of fancy. Before I just shook my head and said not for me. I am function. I am survival. Now, I want to dip my toes in the waters of fancy.

Fancy does not mean money. I’m not willing to invest a lot into feeling fancy because this isn’t something I’m trying to cultivate externally. Bringing back fancy is about igniting a feeling within. I wasn’t sure where to begin (and truth be told, I’m not sure I have begun) so I made a list of things that make me feel fancy. Don’t judge me, I’m new at this.

  • Fancy hair- AKA getting regular haircuts, braids, curls
  • Charcuterie/cheese boards
  • Bubble baths
  • Dancing/music
  • Picnics
  • Massages ($$$)
  • Painted nails
  • House plants (this feels lame but true)

For some of you, this may feel basic but these last few years have felt like it’s all efficiency. How can we simplify our lives? My world is all strict sleep schedules, meal prep, budgeting, “work/life balance” bullshit. But some things are worth complicating. So this weekend I painted my nails and curled my hair. My houseplants are freshly watered and looking fine. The work to bring back fancy has begun.

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolution #4: Make My Bed

Yes, I’ll admit it. I don’t make my bed. Sorry to out my husband as well but neither does he. We are not bed making people. We used to be repeat snoozers until we had children. Now we lay there complaining about the baby crying until it is clear that the baby has no plans on going back to sleep. Then we drag ourselves downstairs without ever looking back at our poor disheveled bed.

I don’t care that it is bringing down our bedroom aesthetic but I do care that it means our room feels messy. Our room always feels chaotic. We have piles of clean laundry on chairs and the dresser, heaps of dirty laundry on the floor and a bed with twisted covers and misplaced pillows.

It also means our day starts and ends with chaos. We leave our room a mess to go downstairs to our wildling children where the mess seems to erupt around them but when we climb the stairs to seek refuge from the chaos of the day, we are still met with the chaos of our room.

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Chaos

New Year’s Resolution #4: Make the Bed Everyday

This is a joint goal. I’m not making the bed every day. It’s a joint bed and a joint issue and now it’s a joint goal. Plus sometimes I’m not the last person to get out of bed (although I would prefer to be and would be happy to make this an additional resolution).

We need to start our day with a small win. This is a small accomplishment that can be totally ours, separate from our kids, that can start our days on the right foot. It also allows our days to end well. By taking a moment of calm to make the bed, we’re taking care of future Kat and Tyler, who are going to be tired tonight. They will be so thankful to see there is a nicely made bed at the end of their day.

I am trying to learn that self-care is not a big thing. It is a million small things. And although my self-care goal is a separate resolution, this is one small, specific thing that I want to do regardless of what else happens in my day.

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