Enjoying lately

Sharing good news. I’m 13 weeks pregnant! We just made a big announcement via email to family and friends, and all the love and support has poured in. How wonderful to have so many people offer prayers, thoughts, and good wishes to us as we embark on this life phase. I’m excited to write more about pregnancy and [future] parenting in this space, too. Right now we’re calling the fetus “Plum,” and I think that name will stick for the blog.

Teaching yoga. I’ve mentioned here before that I finished my prenatal yoga teacher training at the end of May, and that I was scheduled to start teaching a weekly class at the end of June. So that date came and went, and no students showed up then or for the next several weeks. But now, I’ve had three weeks in a row of having two students in my class, and I LOVE teaching. It challenges me intellectually, and I really enjoy sharing yoga (and now life experiences!) with pregnant ladies.

The Good Wife. My friend, Sarah, raved about this show for years, but I didn’t start watching it until last week. It. is. so. fab. It’s compelling and thoughtful and most of the episodes we’ve watched so far pass the Bechdel Test. I’ve gotten Hubs into it now, and we are working our way through the first season. It’s available on Amazon Prime and Hulu for streaming.

Mandala Magic. On a whim, I signed up for an online class from artist Alisa Burke called Mandala Magic. The class was just what I needed to get started on this creative, meditative practice. Mandalas are geometric shapes that radiate out from a center point. I so enjoy drawing them as I watch TV, listen to audiobooks, or take it easy on the weekends. It’s way better than playing phone games and has also inspired me to learn more about mandala creation as a spiritual practice.

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Where I’m from

I am from a baby blanket named “Bee,” a whole bag of chips eaten on the way home from the grocery store, and piles of dress up clothes.

I am from the big Texas sky, the smell of pine needles on a hot day.

I am from singing in public and thinking about how your actions affect others, from Randy, Marnie, Lolly, and Ann, Ruth, Jane, and Mary, and always staying to help clean up.

I am from easily angered and can’t hold a grudge.

From “we believe government should take care of people” and somewhere on the Bell curve.

I am from the Congregationalists and Unitarian Universalists, who see God in each person.

I am from Western Europe via Texas, Christmas morning caramel pecan rolls, and ramen noodles.

From the dad who was willing to catch my puke in his hands, the psychologist mom who became a yogi, and the sister who so proudly marches to the beat of her own drum.

I am from all the rooms in all the houses of the people in my family who hang onto things, “just in case.”

We did this exercise as part of my prenatal yoga teacher training. It was a lovely way, in our small group of seven (six students and one teacher), to learn about each other and ourselves. Read the original poem, or get the template.

Rose, thorn, & bush

When I worked as a camp counselor, we sometimes played a game with the kids during evening circle time called “Rose, thorn, & bush.” Each person got to share a rose (great thing about their day), thorn (hard thing about their day), and bush (random thing about their day). I’m bringing it here because I can’t seem to get to the place where I’m inspired to share a fully formed post about some thoughtful topic. Here we go…

Rose: I finished a fantastic prenatal yoga teacher training this past weekend. I love, love, love regular yoga, but learning to share it with women in their childbearing year was EVEN BETTER. I so enjoyed my dear classmates and teachers, and our final time together felt more like a slumber party than training. I also think that the way my personal practice looks (gentle, restorative, introspective) lines up really well with being able to share it with mamas. I begin teaching a prenatal class on Sunday nights at 7:30 on June 21, and I am psyched out of my mind!

Thorn: I wrote a job description for a job that I wanted to have in the group where I am currently a postdoc. They created the job, interviewed me, and gave it to someone else (whose fit for the job remains to be seen). They are allowing me to stay on as a postdoc this year, doing the work that I love. But the whole situation has led to some deep, careful thoughts about what I want for my life and career, both short and long term. It’s scary and hard to do this kind of emotional work.

Bush: Temporary tattoos, folks. Like a six year old, I am so into them right now. So much less commitment, but just as cool as the real thing. They’re not just the cartoonish, gumball machine prizes of our youth anymore either. Tattly and Tattify are just two companies that have amazing, grown-up designs. My high school BFF came in town, and we totally fooled a few people with these beauties:

Tats

Do you have a rose, thorn, and bush?

Enjoying lately

The Pacific Northwest. We’ve been on vacation since Saturday, May 2, enjoying family, the outdoors, and food. We started in Washougal, WA, headed to Portland, then Bend, and now we’re in Seattle. It’s back to Portland tomorrow before heading back home to NC early Tuesday morning. There’s not much better than being mostly off the hook responsibility-wise and enjoying amazing scenery and food with loved ones.

DogVacay. The last time Tonks came home from being boarded at the vet, she had barked so much that her bark was hoarse. In preparation for our current trip, we needed to find a different solution. Through the DogVacay website, which is essentially airbnb for dogs, we found a dog sitter, who is taking care of Tonks in her home. So the pup is living like a queen, sleeping on their couch, and getting taken out for potty breaks every hour. The dog sitter texts me photos and updates multiple times a day, and it’s the next-best thing to having Tonks with us.

Libraries. I have access to four local library catalogs (city, city, county, university), and I still use one in our former home city electronically. With all the possible places to get books for free, I can now usually get away without buying any. Because I belong to three book clubs (one in real life, two virtual) and listen to a lot of audiobooks on my bus commute, not buying books is crucial. I especially love Overdrive, the app that downloads mp3 audiobooks from the library to my phone and lets me keep them for three weeks.

ReChaco. I sent in a pair of well-loved ZX/1 Chaco sandals that I wore pretty much every day from March-October for the past four years. After re-webbing and a new sole, I effectively have a new pair. I paid for the revitalizing, but I like that I did, rather that just throwing the old ones out. I also asked for a color webbing that wasn’t pictured as available online, and I got it! Plus, it took only nine days from sending them in to getting them back.

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Tidying up

This book is everywhere these days. Back when I blogged about my 2015 word (simplify), my aunt introduced me to it by emailing this story. My inspirational friend, Sarah, and I have talked about it. Kelsey blogged about it and talked about it with Erica on the Girl Next Door Podcast. When I had it on my desk at work, a colleague saw it and said how much it inspires her for an upcoming cross-country move. And when I read it, I really liked it. It was already in line with my plans for a pre-move purge and garage sale. I energetically dove in. The purge happened and garage sale went surprisingly successfully (thanks in large part to support from friends and equally sharing in the work by Hubs).

So now we’re in our new place. Much of our stuff is unpacked, and we’ve turned in the keys to the old, musty, scary house. Still, I don’t feel settled. According to Marie Kondo, everything in my house should either spark joy or be there out of absolute necessity. But rather than focusing on this seemingly simple concept, I’ve been making Target/Home Depot runs and Amazon orders in an effort to further organize things that probably shouldn’t be there in the first place.

So much of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up resonated with me that I thought it would be easy to do what Kondo suggests: that people take six months to a year to fully tidy up their lives. At first I was confused about why she said it would take so long. I assumed that I could do a lot of de-owning pre- and post-move, and then it would be over. But my relationship to my stuff is more complicated than that. It has changed immensely as we’ve gone from 1800 square feet to 850, and from nine closets to three and a half. The de-owning pre-move may have been enough for the larger space. I’ve taken three completely full carloads to the thrift store since then. But the new space still does not feel right. In the effort to find a place for everything, I’ve bought into the illusion that storage will solve the problem of owning too much. I am only just starting to see just how much of a process it will be to deliberately choose to have own only that which sparks joy. Luckily, I chose simplify as my word for the whole year.

Have you read the book? How has it affected your life?

House search

I already wrote about the mice in our current house. We’ve also had an electrical fire (turned out to be very minor THANK GOODNESS, though no less scary) and broken glass that was in the yard when we moved in, which the management company never had cleaned up, in spite of promising for 9 months that they would. We eventually cleaned up the glass, and the outlet that caught fire was replaced, but coping with the poor to non-existent communication that has underscored our entire lease term has been pretty terrible.

Our initial lease term was scheduled to end at the end of July, but I’ve been on the lookout for something else since the electrical fire in November. We also considered buying a rundown duplex in our neighborhood as an investment strategy (live in one half and rent the other), but that didn’t end up making any sense. Someone did buy that duplex though, and on dog walks and on my way to yoga, I’d been peeking in the windows and monitoring the renovations that whomever had bought it seemed to be doing. Last Sunday, I decided to put a note on the door of the duplex introducing me, Hubs, and our pets and asking if the duplex owner needed any renters. He called me back within an hour and invited us to come look at the duplex he was redoing, as well as at a nearby triplex he was renovating also.

Well, we loved the triplex and the price is right (it will save us probably $500 a month in rent and utilities), so we’ll be moving mid-April. (It’s not yet clear what will happen with our current lease. We are manifesting that someone else will come along to rent the place starting in May, at which point our management company has said they will let us out of the lease.) Until we found the new place, I had no idea how much our sketchy house was stressing me out. Now that I know that it’s settled, I feel so much lighter.

Plus the new space is smaller by probably 700 square feet, which provides an incredible opportunity to simplify. Coming soon: a huge purge accompanied by a garage sale pre-move, and ruthless culling of anything that we don’t absolutely love post-move. I can’t wait!

Contentment

I confess that the scholarly part of my yoga training—reading and reflecting on yogic texts—didn’t resonate with me at the same depth as the physical practices of breathing, chanting, and moving or as the practice of satsang—discussing yogic philosophy in community—did. During my teacher training, I completed (and even sometimes enjoyed) the assigned readings and wrote reflections, and I am thankful for the intellectual base that I now have for cultivating my own practice and for the understanding of the context of the texts that I am sure makes me a better teacher. But I don’t really ever get the urge to just sit down for some study time with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

The beautiful thing about a yoga practice is that sometimes you have a need filled that you didn’t know you had. One of my favorite teachers has been leading us through part of the Yoga Sutras that refers to the yamas (good things we do for other people) and the niyamas (good things we do for ourselves). I always appreciate the teachings around these concepts in a sort of vague, the-class-starts-at-6-am way, but this past Tuesday, her words cut sharply through my early morning haze.

Santosha, one of the niyamas, means contentment. Contentment, my teacher said, can be described as “falling in love with your life,” but not the kind of honeymoon-ish love where all the ducks are in a row and everything seems perfect. Santosha is falling in love with your life in the way that you love a partner or a friend and, in doing so, accept what this person offers every day no matter how well it aligns with your idea of how his/her behavior should look. You commit to finding contentment there regardless. Contentment isn’t a perfect life that’s easy; it’s a commitment to a practice.