Hi, Husband

One of my dearest friends has a way of addressing people in the most ordinary of ways, but she somehow makes you feel entirely special and loved. When I call her, she often answers with a sweeping, “Hi, my beautiful friend!” Doesn’t take much to wonder why we’ve been friends for so long.

She and I were having dinner together at her house one evening a couple of years ago, and her husband came home from the gym. They had just recently been married, the first of our close-knit group of friends. Before he reached the dining room she called out, “Hello, husband!” in a lilting sing-song voice.  It was a simple greeting, but I remember being struck for the first time at what an intimate title “husband” or “wife” could be. She made a commonplace term sound completely endearing, a title reserved for the one precious person you chose to spend your days with. I loved it, and have been excited ever since to be able to use that same greeting.

I got married two weeks ago.

It was a lovely day, slightly overcast and breezy in the morning giving way to sun in the afternoon. My maid of honor (the wonder friend mentioned above) scooped me up in the morning for our day of relaxing and preparation. My Dad made us turkey sandwiches for lunch, my sister did our make-up, our musicians practiced in the backyard all afternoon. As the day wore on, it started to sink in what was coming and what I was about to do. My belly started doing flips, my hands started to get shaky, and I could feel tears quelling up at every mention of the evenings ceremony. It wasn’t fear, it wasn’t second thoughts, it wasn’t anything except realizing the weight of what I was about to commit to. It felt huge and simple all at the same time. It was opening up to a lifetime of greeting my sweet man home by saying, “Hi, husband.”

“Where you love somebody a whole lot, and you know that person loves you, that’s the most beautiful place in the whole world.”

– Excerpt from The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron

Truthfully, nothing tremendous has changed in our day-to-day since becoming husband and wife. We also didn’t enter into this marriage riding a frothy wave of lust and romance. Our kitchen is torn up and awaiting renovation, our garden is overgrown with weeds, I’m 6 1/2 months pregnant, and we both went back to work the Monday after the wedding.

Love is a reminder to bring your bike lock key to the farmer's market.

Love is a reminder to bring your bike lock key to the farmer’s market.

But we’ve been through enough together to know that what sustains us are kind words, generous gestures, and the conscious choice to be loving to each other. Everyday. We’ve also been through enough together to know that this whole relationship thing takes work, and there will be days when we won’t feel like being loving. We have done that work to get to where we are today, and I can only imagine what that work will look like in the years to come. But for now, for today, for this season in my life; the most beautiful place in the world happens to have a torn up kitchen and an overgrown garden.

Hi, Husband.

I love you.

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Arrival

We have arrived. Summer has finally unfolded itself into being the ripe, bright, generous season that I know and love. The morning light is soft and enveloping at 5am, and the cool breeze that seeps in through open windows shivers my bare shoulders in bed at night. And the sunsets: oh please, soak up those sunsets.

Summer solstice is coming up, just as I have finally stopped looking over my shoulder for a snow storm (sadly, I truly mean that). Our peonies are blooming, I harvested my first round of spinach, my daily wake-up routine is serenaded by birds, and Saturday mornings are all about the farmer’s market. Oh, yes – we have arrived.

With summer comes the anticipated shift in gears; the urge to move faster, do more, lap up all the goodness with wild abandon. However, as it just so happens, this whole growing-a-baby experience has been forcing me to slow down. Chill out. Relax a little. It’s a tough thing for me, and I’ve only recently started to settle into my new speed. I told my doctor at my last check-up that running has been making my hips and back ache, but I was worried that “just walking” wouldn’t get my heart rate up and provide an adequate work-out. She smiled that tiny, curt smile she does so well and told me, “Getting your heart rate up  isn’t the goal right now. Movement, fresh air, and getting your blood moving is what you’re going for. Walking is perfect for that.” There was a small part of me that wanted to kick her in the shin for saying that, but I just nodded instead. Alright, conversation over.

“Embrace the thing that is asking you to change.”

Mississippi

I was introduced to this saying by a yoga teacher of mine, and I’ve been repeating it to myself on my evening walks. Surprisingly, a subtle and curious thing has begun to happen. My walks have started to feel like a reprieve; life renewing and soul satisfying. They are a place to think and a time to dream. I’ve also started to take note of the way the wind feels against my neck, the glistening sound of the leaves against each other, the shifts in temperature the closer I get to the river… all the things you can only notice when you slow down. I am letting this ripe, bright, generous summer carry me forward when I go for my walks. Summer has arrived, and I am arriving with it. Who would have guessed?

Tell me: what change have you been embracing lately? How has summer swept you off your feet?

The Best Laid Plans

” Once we’ve thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it’s only here that the new and the good begins.”

-Leo Tolstoy

My initial interpretation of this quote was “once we’re thrown off our habitual paths…” I took it to mean something much more visceral, like an outside force coming in and giving us a hearty shove off of our old rusty rails. Somehow, this interpretation made more sense to me and gave me a stronger comfort because it does, after all, promise the beginning of something new and good.

Happiness

Turns out, sometimes we really are the ones who throw off our own habitual paths: we take on a new job, we let go of a stagnant friendship, we start a meditation practice, we get off Facebook, we move across the country for love, and sometimes we just clean out our closets or go and get a haircut. We make changes in our lives to feel open and new and raw and fresh and alive. Along with the change comes inevitable vulnerability and maybe a bit of fear, but it all feels damn good and it’s all entirely necessary.

Well, it also turns out that sometimes we get knocked right off our habitual paths and we have no say in the matter: we get laid off, our loved ones die unexpectedly, we become allergic to foods, our dream grant gets funded, we meet our partner while waiting in line for a taco. At the core of it, these changes will also likely make us feel open and new and raw and fresh and alive, but the vulnerability usually hits us first and the fear is probably what we feel the strongest.

In both instances, the new and the good eventually makes it’s way to us.

I found out in early February that I’ll be having a baby in October. I found out a couple of weeks ago that the baby is a boy. I found out this weekend that he likes to wiggle and dance just as I’m ready to fall asleep.

Let’s just say that finding out this big news shoved me hard off my habitual path.

This isn’t what I had planned for myself. Nope, not at all. I wanted to be a carefree bride, go on a honeymoon somewhere peaceful, run a few more marathons, start teaching yoga classes, fix up our house, turn 30…

But those were all my own plans, and it seems as though those plans didn’t align with what was ultimately meant for me. It looks like I’ll be a bride with quite a bit on her mind (we’re getting married at the end of June), a honeymoon is being replaced with home fix-ups (at least that part will happen!), my due date lands exactly on the day of the next marathon I had hoped to run, and I’m still a couple of years shy of 30.

I’ve been struggling to not feel overwhelmed by all of this. I’ve been working hard to remind myself daily that the only thing that’s consistent in life is that it changes. That’s what makes it rich, right? But as much as I would like to be brave and strong as I face my new path, there are times when I get so scared or so mad or so disappointed that I just crumple into an inconsolable mess of sobbing. It’s not pretty, and I’m not entirely proud of it, but it’s the truth.

I spent the evening with a friend of mine who recently gave birth to a lovely baby girl. I watched my friend nurse, soothe, maneuver, bathe, and console her daughter and I thought to myself, I just don’t think I can do all of that. And it’s becoming clear to me that my habitual path has been full of thoughts just like this; ugly thoughts that leave me without much courage, strength, or belief in myself.

So maybe I needed to get shoved off that path. Maybe I needed to get placed directly into a role that I would have fearfully talked my way out of if left to my own devices. I’m getting the sense that life seems to have more confidence in me and my capabilities than I have in myself, and is offering me an opportunity to shine in a new light.

I’ve been holding onto this news for all these months for a number of reasons. Partly because I needed to let it sink in before sharing it with the wider world, and partly because I am still a bit embarrassed about getting pregnant “out-of-order” in the traditional sense.

Another reason I’ve been hesitant to share is because I know how badly some women and their partners want babies. I am sensitive to the fact that it can be an immensely painful process for couples who struggle to conceive, and that it can be crushing and heartbreaking to miscarry. I realize these things, and I hesitated to share the entirety of my feelings towards this news because I didn’t want this post to seem insensitive to the women who are in the throes of conception challenges. To all the ladies who read this and are aching for babies: please know that I love you and that it’s my hope that in sharing my truth, we can see each other’s side of the track a bit better.

We are all trying to get to our very best paths in life, and we all get knocked off our course in different ways.

We are all in this together.

So, whether your path is fresh or habitual, whether you have thrown off your path or you yourself have been thrown, let’s all start opening up to see the new and the good.

I’m trying. Everyday. Join me?

When has life thrown you a curve ball? How did you respond? How did things turn out?

Lighten the Load

Life around these parts has been feeling a little heavy lately. Not awful. Not sad. Not even terribly stressful. Just heavy.

Lots of decisions. Lots of planning. Lots of thinking. Too much thinking.

I attended a funeral last week that got me thinking about the many merits of being joyful. The woman who passed away was an absolute gem in every sense of the word. She laughed hard, loved her grand-babies even harder, shared kind words freely, and being in her company made you feel better about everything.

Following that funeral, I was going to write a post about the renewed sense of value I see in wholeheartedly living out our roles as sister, brother, wife, best friend, co-worker…

But you know what?

That felt too heavy for right now.

Spring is trying so. very. hard. to make its way to Minnesota. But, it’s still icy and snowy and I’m tired of calling 43 degrees a victory. That fact combined with everything else that’s been shaking around these days has got me throwing my hands up in defeat and saying, “Okay, life. Let’s just eat some frozen yogurt and gummy candy and have a good laugh. Sound okay with you?”

Let’s lighten the load, shall we?

This post is a smattering of joyful tidbits I’ve collected on my camera over the years. There is no coherent reason why I’ve chosen any of these except that they make me laugh or smile to look at them. I don’t know why the photos seem to get smaller the further down you scroll. Sigh. Oh, well.

Sometimes life doesn’t make any sense. This is my salute to the nonsense.

Cheers!

My love preparing the Christmas tree lights.

My love preparing the Christmas tree lights. I know the photo is blurry. I don’t care.

A rocking chair in a dry creek bed in Colorado.

A rocking chair in a dry creek bed in Colorado.

Tulips. I'm still waiting for these, too.

Tulips. I’m still waiting for these this year.

That's me driving a ginormous moving van.

That’s me driving a ginormous moving van.

A gummy worm in the peanut bulk bin.

A gummy worm in the peanut bulk bin. Weird.

Peonies outside the co-op. Last year. I'm still waiting.
Peonies by the co-op. I’m still waiting for these, too.

Shirley has her own pen. I think that's awesome.

Shirley has her own pen. I think that’s awesome.

This is Barbara! She introduces me to all things outdoorsy.

This is Barbara! She introduces me to all things outdoorsy.

A dinosaur in with the graham crackers.

A dinosaur in with the graham crackers.

A lovie note on my bike before I left to run a race in 106 degree heat.

A lovie note on my bike before I left to run a race in 106 degree heat.

The most perfect strawberry. Ever.

The most perfect strawberry. Ever.

Dancing in the Idaho farmland at the wedding of two dear friends.
Dancing in the Idaho farmland at the wedding of two dear friends.

That's my sister. She's going to be so mad at me for posting this...

That’s my sister. She’s going to be so mad at me for posting this…

My amazing yoga studio.

My amazing yoga studio.

A scooter I wanted to steal parked by the farmer's market.

A scooter I wanted to steal parked by the farmer’s market.

What’s making you smile or laugh these days? Please share with the rest of us!

Sabbath

I recently had a Sunday that was as close as they come to perfect.

No alarm clock. Coupon clipping with my lovie man. Brunch with my bestie girl. Lake walk with a sorely-missed-co-worker-turned-trusted-friend. Homemade dinner with Mom and Dad.

I went home after my jam-packed day feeling nourished, loved, rested, and so happy.

It was like I went on a mini-vacation for the day, returning renewed and refilled. You know… how you’re supposed to feel after a weekend.

During our afternoon walk, my friend revealed that many of her recent prayers have been asking for strength, fortitude, or were simply a plea to, “just help me get through this!” Her solution? A commitment to observing the Sabbath on Sundays. She was a few weeks in, and said that she was really enjoying it.

Sabbath: A time of rest.

“When we live without listening to the timing of things, when we live and work in twenty-four-hour shifts without rest – we are on war time, mobilized for battle. Yes, we are strong and capable people, we can work without stopping, faster and faster, electric lights making artificial day so the whole machine can labor without ceasing. But remember: No living thing lives like this. There are greater rhythms, seasons and hormonal cycles and sunsets and moonrises and great movements of seas and stars. We are part of the creation story, subject to all its laws and rhythms.”

-Wayne Muller, Sabbath; Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

 

Whether or not you align yourself with any particular religion: you are human, which means you need rest. We all do. It’s one of the very basic needs that unites us all. And the notion of intentionally setting aside one day each week for rest struck something deep in me.

I asked my Dad about it while we were making our turkey meatballs, saying how lovely I thought it would be to truly set aside one day each week to relax. He said that in other parts of the world where the Sabbath is held on a more cultural level and more engrained in how the society functions, the Sabbath day is simply used to get together with family, worship, play games, and enjoy meals.

Eat, talk, play, be loved? All day? Umm… Where’s the sign-up sheet?!

We all cultivate, through our choices, the type of lifestyle that we want for ourselves. We make time for the things that we value. We prioritize X over Y, and life spins its yarn accordingly.

Pete and I are pretty different people, but we share one huge thing: we are very good at making ourselves busy. It’s the lifestyle we’ve created. We’ve made commitments to our community, to learning new things, to taking on new challenges, to maintaining our health. These things take up time, and they require continual maintenance. I can’t really imagine letting any of it go, but I’ve also got some big changes headed my way, so naturally I’ve been digging deep to figure out what I need to do in order to make room for the new adventures. I’m also thinking about what shifts I will need to make to my current way of living and, sadly, what I need to let go of.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I am an introvert. I treasure space, quiet, and peace. I also value uninterrupted time with the people I love, taking care of my health and wellbeing, and contributing my skills in ways that feel authentic. In looking ahead to the what’s coming my way, I realize that theses are the things I value most of all, and these are the aspects of my life that I can’t imagine willingly sacrificing.

In letting go of some things, I’m beginning to see the value in adding a day of rest to the schedule. It might just be the perfect time to start giving a little more time to the people and things that fill me up and enable me to give back that much more. It might be time for a little more intentional rest and retreat, if only to come back into the world more ready and willing to take on whatever is in store.

What are your thoughts about a weekly Sabbath? Does our culture support it? Is it unrealistic to think it’s possible in today’s world?

Creating Space

At a previous job, my boss held weekly team meetings which gave us all a chance to re-cap our workload and update each other on the status of our projects. During particularly stressful stretches (which were more often than not), my colleauge would close her updates endearingly with a sweep of her hand and the brisk statement of, “Well, moving on!”

This statement sums up how life has been feeling for me lately.

My last post was December 20th, and since then Christmas, New Years, and the re-entry to working life have all passed. Life feels like it’s barreling forward, and I’m all but trying to keep up. During this particular time of year, with the richness and indulgence of holiday gatherings followed so closely with the reflection and contemplation of New Year’s; how could a girl not feel a little out of breath?

I intended to write a whole post about Christmas, which included a shift in traditions that left me in tears after brunch on Christmas day. It was the first time I had ever split my Christmas to attend someone else’s family gathering, and I came to realized that from here on out my holiday traditions will be evolving and changing. Sometimes I face changes boldly, and other times they break my heart. Even though I was warmly welcomed joining my partner’s family for their festivities (which included caroling and an improv Christmas play directed by a very special first-grade nephew), I still felt a stab of sadness leaving my own family before the Christmas dinner I grew up with.

Before I could process that whole slew of emotions, it was New Year’s Eve. I spent the day ice skating, wearing clip-on rhinestone earrings, and dancing with my honey in the the living room of new friends.

Now it’s back to work, where we are gearing up for our busy spring season, smoothing out the glitches from a recent technology upgrade, and planning for a huge event in California next month.

And I’ve just been “moving on!” through all of it.

It’s the time of year of resolutions, fresh intentions, and wholehearted attempts at bringing new vigor to our daily lives. I have varied thoughts about New Year’s resolutions, but I usually land on the I-don’t-make-them end of the spectrum. Not necessarily because I don’t believe in them, or am too cynical to think they are useless, but more so because by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, I haven’t taken the necessary time to reflect on the past year to know what I would like to do differently.

I have a tendency to be in one place, and wish I were in another. To be eating something, and soon wishing I hadn’t. To plan things, and then wish I had the free time. It’s chronic and quite frankly, it’s irritating. It deters me from enjoying where I am, and it takes me away from being fully present. It also makes it all the more easy for me to just think, “Well, moving on!” without pausing for reflection. I did this with much of the holidays, and they ended up breezing on right past me.

I think it’s time to slow down a little. It’s time to sink in and allow more space for savoring, relishing, enjoying, and reflecting. Enough with the barreling forward, relentlessly onward and upward. We’re all moving that direction, regardless of whether we shove ourselves uphill or take it slow and steady.

I’m 8 days late to the game the time ’round, and I won’t go so far as to say it’s a New Year’s Resolution, but I am setting an intention: to catch myself in those “moving on!” moments and work to create more space for dedication to the present. 2013 is shaping up to be filled to the brim, and I deeply want to embrace it all – but I need to learn to pause every now and again and take stock of where I am today.

It’s a tall order – wish me luck!

I’m curious: Do you have thoughts surrounding New Year’s Resolutions? Did you make any this year? If you have chosen to make 2013 goals/resolutions/intentions, how did you decide on what was most important?

Sweat and Other Forms of Awesomeness

I have a confession to make.

I love group fitness classes.

Over the past several years, I’ve taken everything I can get my hands on: step-aerobics, circuit-training, TRX, Zumba, trapeze, Pilates, Pilates barre, power yoga, deep-water aerobics. I even bought a Groupon for classes at a pole-dancing fitness studio, but I forgot about it until after the pass had expired.

I love exertion, sweat, trembling muscles, and the feeling of being utterly spent.

My newest experiment is Crossfit. Maybe you’ve heard about it? If you do a Google Search, you’ll find videos of unbelievably chiseled men and women lifting weights to motivational narrative and music. Nobody at my Crossfit gym looks like those people, but I suppose it’s great marketing. The classes are filled with barbels, rowing machines, pull-up bars, climbing ropes and scary moves called the “snatch, clean, and jerk.” It’s amazing and terrifying. But mostly terrifying.

After my work-out last night, I had dinner with my friend who knows me so well we may as well be sisters. Barbara saw me rubbing my shoulders as she pulled plates out of the cupboard, and asked if I was feeling sore. I explained my new classes, and told her how excited I was to be using my body in a way that feels so fresh, new, and out of my comfort zone.

We talked about routines and adapting to change, and marveled at how quickly we absorb the new elements we add to our lives. The rapid speed we are able to turn “newness” into “normal” struck me, and got me to thinking about how often I flip into auto-pilot during the day. I was a bit saddened to think that when things don’t feel new, they can sometimes feel like nothing.

But that doesn’t have to be true!

I decided to make a list of all the new things I’ve done and learned so far this month, and the process helped me remember that there is newness happening nearly every day.

Here’s a little sample:

  • Ran a 5k while wearing a fake moustache
  • Made homemade soup using Sunchokes (WHATchokes? My thoughts exactly.)
  • Learned a new strand of HTML
  • Wrote my first blog post!
  • Won a prize in a raffle drawing (a haircut at a fancy salon!)
  • Applied to be on the board of my local farmer’s market
  • Learned how to properly secure a Christmas tree onto the roof of my car
  • Took my niece to see  her first performance of The Nutcracker
  • Took my Mom to her first ever yoga class
  • Had my picture taken with a real, live reindeer
  • Played in the first snowfall of the season
  • Slipped and fell on the ice for the first time of the season
  • Lived through the most painful massage of my life (A Groupon I should have let expire, and another adventure with Barbara.)
  • Learned all the components of the “snatch, clean, and jerk” weightlifting technique – and I did it a whole bunch times!

So, I try new exercise classes when I feel like my life needs a kick-in-the-pants and it’s simply not practical to quit my job and move across the country. I love a hearty dose of physical challenge when the rest of things are feeling sluggish; it’s my way of channelling the restlessness that sometimes creeps its way in. But now I think I’ll keep this little method of list-making tucked away for future times when I’m feeling a twinge of the auto-pilot-blues and my muscles are just too sore to make it to another work-out class.

Try it and tell me! What are 3-5 new things you’ve done this month? I would LOVE to hear about your excitement!