Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 | This moment

We're a little over two weeks into 2015 and I can already tell you that I year from now I will not use the word calm to describe it. The honeymoon phase of E's newborn days has worn off and we are in the thick of parenting two small children. As I told Neil, I don't expect 2015 to be bad; I expect it to be hard.

With HP, there was a distinct turning point around fifteen months when he went down to only one nap. Freedom! Everything felt easier--because it was easier. E will turn fifteen months a few days into 2016. So while I know this year will be marked by all of the wonderful infant milestones and the joys of having a daughter in addition to our son, it will also be marked by the constraints of multiple naps a day and being off the bike for half the year. Neither are terrible situations, but both make life that much more challenging.

Before 2015 arrived, I spent time thinking about a word(s) I wanted to keep as a guiding intention/mantra for the year. I kept coming back to the phrase embrace this moment.

The inspiration for my mantra is from the book Momma Zen. One chapter in the book that focused on the fact that there is just this moment. Remembering that fact has changed my mindset. When both children are crying and melting down because they are exhausted and it feels like we are drowning: There is only this moment. As simple as it sounds, it helps. It helps me put it in perspective; it helps me see the situation for what it is; it helps me stop judging and just be.

The first year of parenting is hard. I'm sure all the years are/will be hard. But the first year is hard in a we are so tired and have no time to ourselves kind of way. So when life feels like it's falling apart all around me, I want to remember that this moment, as messy, stressful, and frustrating as it may be--or alternatively, as beautiful, joyous, and happy as it may be--is all there is. Just now. I don't want to spend my time with my kids constantly thinking about how after bedtime I'll get to read by myself. Or how if they would just nap at the same time I could write. It is not bad to look forward to life's small pleasures (for me, watching The Good Wife while eating dark chocolate), but I don't want to do that to the exclusion of seeing what is in front of me right now.

So this year, I want to soak it all in--the good and the bad. Because has hard as it may be, there will only be one 2015. I'll be working my way through, one moment at a time.

*I made the pictured collage at Sara's Reflection and Rejuvenation New Year's gathering to visualize the kind of year I want to have.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 | A look back

Mid-January isn't too late to post my year-in-review, right?

 On January 1st, I spent some looking back at the last year and planning ahead for the next at Sara's "Reflection and Rejuvenation" gathering. We individually reviewed 2014--what happened, what went right, and what could have gone better. With the past firmly in mind, we made plans for the upcoming year. Before I turn to 2015, I want to share my reflections on the last year.

The biggest events of 2014 were deciding to have a second child, getting pregnant, and giving birth. Everything else paled in comparison to becoming a family of four. When I zoomed out and thought about what words that best described the calendar year, I kept writing down calm, settled, and community.


It feels like our society has a competition for who can be the busiest. I have no interest in competing for that prize. I like having a free time, and Neil and I have set up our life in such a way to maximize it. We read for fun. A lot. After the kids are asleep, we sit around a talk, rehashing our days, laughing at silly jokes, and making plans for the day/week/year/lifetime ahead. We cook a homemade meal most every night and eat around the table. We go to bed at a decent hour. And that is just how I like it.

Of course, E's birth has thrown a wrench into a lot of that, and for the last quarter of the year much of the time it felt like we were just surviving. There was a whole month where it took two to three hours to put E down for bed. So we'd get our tired, non-napping toddler to sleep, then trade off with E until she finally went down, at which point we were too exhausted to do anything other than go to sleep ourselves.

And then there was the craziness of the move, where every spare moment we had from mid-April until mid-June was spent working on projects to get our house ready to rent.

So I guess I wouldn't say that the whole year was calm, but somehow, it's still the word that feels most right. Because even in the midst of moving and having a newborn, I still felt so centered. Yes, parts of our life were in upheaval, but other parts were not. Which leads me to the next word:


I feel settled in Austin. Phew. It's taken me awhile to get there. We have found a community, both in terms of physical place and people. While I am still not sure this is our "forever place," I am happy here. I have officially lived here longer than any other city as an adult and it feels like home.


The longer we are here in Austin, the larger our community naturally grows, but I have also taken concrete steps to expand and deepen our ties here.

Sometime after HP's first birthday, I started getting serious about making friends here in Austin (making friends as an adult is hard!). Through that process--which was basically me asking people for their number and then actually following up--I met and got to know many new people. Some of my (and HP's) closest friendships are a direct result of those efforts.

Friends with children are wonderful (and essential at this point in my life), but I also need time to connect with the parts of myself not related to being a parent. I joined a book group at the tail end of 2013, and have loved that social and intellectual outlet. I am the only member with children, which means I get to spend hours in the company of other women without once mentioning diapers, naps, or toddler tantrums. Amazing. In addition to the lovely company, I get to read and discuss books--a favorite pastime of mine.

In late 2013 I joined the Steering Committee that helped to create the Yard to Market Cooperative and in May of this year, I was elected to the Board. My participation in the cooperative has connected me to the larger community and allowed me to keep a foot in the local food movement. Bonus: I get to interact with many thoughtful, engaged individuals who are passionate about increasing the economic opportunities available to small-scale growers in Austin.

The extent of our community revealed itself immediately before, during, and after E's arrival. There is nothing like having a baby to show you how many people you have who love and support you. Multiple friends who watched HP while we were at the hospital, countless meals brought to our doorstep (our friends are amazing cooks!), family who came to stay and helped with whatever was needed, and most importantly, people who offered a listening when I needed it most during the transition. There is no overestimating the importance of community during life's major transitions.

2014, you were good to us. New baby, new house, and a sense of being "settled." I'll take it.