The Birthday Question

Recently I was asked “a birthday question” of “What have you learned this year?”

What a fucking question.

What more could I have possibly learned this year? (Kidding, clearly I still have a long way to go.)

I have learned that I sell myself short. Sure, I knew this but I used to think of it as humility or sacrificing for the greater good. I realize now it keeps me from feeling like I deserve to ask for things- money, job title, support, friendship, time for myself. It’s funny how my children have been the ones who have taught me selflessness but also to advocate for myself. Tonight I kept one arm outstretched to block Haines from picking the blueberries out of my salad as the other arm spooned pureed carrots into Austin’s mouth.  Also, that moment pretty much sums up motherhood.

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I learned about boundaries. Boundaries are the key to relationships of any kind. It’s not something I ever understood the value of. They had a negative connotation. Shouldn’t our most meaningful relationships exist without boundaries? Anything goes! But boundaries are as simple as expecting honesty from your spouse/friend/parent or drawing a line between work and home. In parenting boundaries feel particularly few and far between but they can still exist if you choose them. It is not a bad thing to move a baby into their own room or to insist that a toddler maintains their bedtime simply so you can be alone for once. It is not bad to say, “Play by yourself for a few minutes” and mutter “…before I lose my shit.”

I have learned I am strong, resilient and patient- three words I would not have used previously to describe myself. Were these qualities there all along? Surely, they have not just sprung to life but whatever the case may be- I feel them now. This is as much due to being able to push through when things are hard as it is knowing when to call it quits.  

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I learned about the constantly evolving human. Even if we cannot change our bodies, our circumstances, our income, we can change our minds. We can change our outlook. We can change our perception. And that can change your whole life.

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I have so much more to learn and wonderful people to learn it with. Thank goodness. Here’s to 33.

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June: A Time for Balance and Reflection

This month has been a total whirlwind. It’s been pretty stressful and incredibly wonderful.

June has brought:

The realization that I can’t do everything.

I ended up having a wee little breakdown at work somewhere around the time my managers realized they’d given me too much to be responsible for. I’m working on delegating things more proactively and prioritizing more appropriately. Some things will just have to wait.

Similarly at home, I’m attempting to be a bit more relaxed about things. Contrary to my family’s beliefs our messy, often dirty home does bother me but by the time the baby goes to sleep it is hard for me to care. To be honest, it’s hard for me to remember. In the evenings I often think, what is it I said I was going to take care of tonight? I can’t remember it until way later. (Dear sleep, please come back.) I’m at the point now where I’m behind on birthday gifts, thank you’s, letters, cleaning, yard work, meal prep. The list goes on. In fact, I don’t think it’ll ever stop so I’m trying not to stress about it.

Adventures with baby

HEB turned 6 months on June 14th and every day it seems he has learned something new. This month he has found his voice and babbles or makes noises nonstop. He’s also found his tongue which is always sticking out now. We’ve started to introduce food and he’s on the verge of crawling. Our house is desperately in need of baby proofing!

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Nectarines should be worn as well as eaten.

Haines also took his first flights this month. We traveled two weekends in a row by plane which was totally stressful and honestly not that bad. He slept at least 50% of the time as it’s hard for him to resist a snooze in any mode of transportation. We were prepared the rest of the time with toys and our best funny voices. I don’t think any passengers hated us.

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We survived the Atlanta airport!

Quality family time

We don’t see any of our family nearly enough. Our closest family member lives only 4 hours away but we haven’t visited in over a year. Our other parents and siblings all reside in other states or countries so our visits definitely aren’t frequent. This month we got in two visits though which made June a pretty awesome month.

Father’s Day weekend Haines and I traveled with my mom, sister and her girls to Oklahoma for a long weekend. The newest member of our family got to meet my aunt and uncle on my mom’s side as well as several of our cousins. We were celebrating the life of my grandfather who passed away in October. It would have been his 99th birthday that weekend! While a sad occasion, I loved hearing the stories about PopPop- some familiar, some new to me. Our family is hardly ever all in one place so it was hard not to feel overjoyed at the chance to be with everyone.

Last weekend all three of us flew to Florida to be with Mum-Mum (Tyler’s mom). Unfortunately our reason for gathering was another sad one as Mum-Mum’s husband passed away a few weeks ago. He was truly a unique soul and I got to learn so much more about him during his celebration of life. We chatted with friends and family and saw so many great photos of Eric through the years! Just as the weekend before, the feeling of being together dominated. We hadn’t seen Tyler’s mom or his brother and girlfriend (BFF extraordinaire Natalie)  in several months and the reunion was much needed!

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 Time for reflection

We spent a significant portion of the month with family celebrating loved ones we can no longer be with. There is an obvious silver lining to this. We were reminded how important those individuals were and are to our lives as well as how grateful we are to have wonderful people in our lives. I have a healthy, growing son, a supportive husband, incredible friends all across the world, and a loving family from my parents to my siblings to the cousins, aunts and uncles I don’t often get to see. We’re a lucky bunch!

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Reflection

As my time in Austin starts to wind down and I reach my four year anniversary here, it’s hard not to reflect on how I got here. At 28 I am recently married, in a career path that I’m very excited about, about to move back to my home state (something I really didn’t think would happen).

I googled North Carolina Love and this awesome print from etsy just popped up.

I googled North Carolina Love and this awesome print from etsy just popped up.

A little over four years ago, right before I moved to Austin, I was living in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone at a lodge. I was doing the seasonal work thing and while I loved all the hiking and nature of where I was and the friends I’d made, I was at a particularly low point in my life. I was behaving in ways that really disappointed me and feeling pretty low and confused. It seemed to me that I’d been feeling this way for quite a while and was sick of it. While in Wyoming an old friend came through the state twice while on tour with Leo Rondeau (check him out!) and told me about how much I would like Austin. He invited me to come visit when I drove through Texas to visit family on the way back to North Carolina.

The decision to move here was made almost as soon as I got here. Everyone seemed to be from somewhere else which made me feel like less of an outsider. Each person I met was friendly and welcoming. Everyone wanted to dance. Done and done!

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I was miserable for the first month of living here. My friend was on tour when I first moved here and I only knew one other person. It took me almost two months to find a job waiting tables. New Year’s Eve was the first time things really started to turn around. I went to a party with my roommate and his friends. The party seemed to be full of people who didn’t really know each other and it was easy to talk to everyone. That night my first real friend in Austin, Natalie, and I agreed to go out soon for a meal. It was also the first night that my one-day-hubby and I kissed (not at midnight though- I cheers-ed a bunch of total strangers at midnight).

Once I started hanging out with Natalie I started making friends. I also moved into a house via Craigslist and met some great people. Over time a friend group grew. I’ve been lucky enough to have several great groups of friends throughout my life but this is probably the first time that I felt comfortable from the very beginning. Perhaps because I was a little older and not going through major life growing pains, but it has been such a joy to know not just one but multiple people in Austin that I could just simply be with. It has been an unexpected and much needed gift of living here.

My first Austin roommates!

My first Austin roommates!

In Austin I also found a focus in my working life. I had been working hospitality up until this point and was waiting tables when I waited on the President, a Vice President and a Director at my current company. The President of the company handed me his business card and told me to call for an interview. The first job I had there wasn’t my favorite. It was like working at a call center, but after about eighteen months the HR Manager granted me an interview and took a chance by hiring me as the HR Coordinator. I didn’t know what I was getting into to but I’m so glad I did it. I’ve always liked customer service but direct customer contact can be grating and burn you out. Working in Human Resources my “customers” are my coworkers. They are the ones I help with their benefits or time cards. It’s satisfying to help the people around you and figuring out the world of benefits is like figuring out a constantly shifting puzzle. Every time I walk away from the puzzle someone has scrambled up the pieces I’d previously put together (I’m looking at you, Obama) but I still enjoy coming back and trying to understand what’s changed and what I need to do about it.

The biggest surprise to moving to Austin is also the reason I’m leaving it, my husband. We met almost four years ago and in a week he flies out to get started on our new adventure. Considering I had serious doubts at one point about getting married (before I met him) and North Carolina wasn’t previously on my list of places to move to, it’s shocking to find myself here. It is; however, the most pleasant surprise. I am nervous about making new friends and excited about exploring a new place. I am sad to leave my friends here and am so happy to get to see family more often. It’s just so hard to know what’s in store ahead!

But these four years in Austin I will always remember as the best changes of my life.