Late to the party

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{You try telling a six year-old that fedoras are no longer a thing. I guarantee she’ll be wearing that hat until they come back around. If I’m destined to always be late to the party, Emerson will show up early and eventually wear out her welcome. We are different that way.}

That’s where I often find myself. Several months or even few years behind the crowd. Not in all things, mind you. I can thank my parents for instilling an appreciation for dark chocolate and a perfect cup of home brewed drip coffee at an early age, my grandmother and great aunt for a lifelong love of antique stores and my stepmom for an obsession with depression glass and costume jewelry. Like something long enough and it’s bound to pop up on Pinterest, right? See also cake, rainbows, Lionel Ritchie and the Muppets. It’s pretty much all 1986 all the time where I live.

But, when it comes to media I’m reliably several seasons behind. You all have been downloading podcasts for years, right? Yeah, I just discovered Marc Maron three months ago. I’ve been depending on mainstream, old-school programming for years. What’s on the radio or TV right now is what I’m likely to focus on. My TV is stuck on Bravo so I surround myself with Real Housewives and super douche real estate agents. I’m not proud. My car radio is programed to my local NPR station, but I only seem to listen in on my weekly grocery and Target run.

Turns out, it’s 2014 and most everything I’m interested in consuming is available ON DEMAND. Did I mention I live in the Silicon Valley epicenter and by all accounts should know better? In that vain, here’s a round up of a few TV shows, podcasts and creatives endeavors infiltrating my world of late.

Scandal. For crying out loud, people. Why am I just learning about this now? My husband and I have been living and breathing Olivia and Fitz for the past four weeks and we are currently white knuckling the countdown to season 4 on September 25. This show is a serious problem for me. Grey’s Anatomy completely passed me by and I’ve never seen even a second of Private Practice. But Scandal has rendered me nothing short of a Shonda Rhimes cat toy. I get it and I surrender. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate her impeccable casting, story telling and generally creative genius. Highly recommend you Netflix this and start from the very beginning.

WTF Podcast (especially the Lena Dunham interview)

Amy Poehler and her Smart Girls movement. Also, this response to men feeling pressured to be all things all the time. Spot on.

Ted Radio Hour. All of it. Every single one. Can’t go wrong here.

Is there anything else you’ve been holding out on me, internet? Anything I’ll smack myself six months from now for not tuning in to? Secrets do not make friends. Spill ‘em.

 

Fight when the time is right

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Emerson started 1st grade a couple of weeks ago and the transition has been rough. Mostly for me. She’s been rolling with the new teacher, new classroom, crush of humanity that is her public school with the ease of any six year old, who’s sole focus in life is, whatever happens to be directly in front of her. What’s presented to her is all she knows and she’s remarkably cool with it.

Her mother, on the other hand, is up at night worrying about unmanageable class sizes, hungry children, slashed school budgets and the lack of emotional intelligence education. I fight my own anxieties on a daily basis just to navigate the massive crowds at drop off. Then I face the reality of volunteering in a classroom with sweet children who are so wildly unprepared for learning that I want to roll up in a tight ball, rather than face my own writing deadlines and home responsibilities when I return from my weekly two-hour commitment. I’m astonished by my own daughter’s privilege as it compares to her classmates who are struggling with basic phonetics, the alphabet and even writing their own first names.

Last year, I made a conscious decision not to complain or rock the boat at school. I volunteered at every opportunity, gave money, time and any relative talent to the cause of kindergarten. Countless art projects were prepped, seeds were planted alongside tiny hands, class parties were planned and folders were stuffed. Every moment I could give soothed my heavy heart – the constant ache I felt for Emerson’s classmates who were not getting the kind of support we afford our child. Our good fortune and ability to make up for what a public school education could provide often kept me from demanding more, better or different for my own daughter. She didn’t require extra help with academics, but I learned that she is sensitive to her physical environment and responds well to clear rules lead by a nurturing example. She would need something different this year.

Now, I am by nature not a boat rocker. I try not to be a complainer. I’m a helper. I’d rather get my hands dirty with the fixing than try to shake things up. But this transition hit me on a gut level. I could not brush off the off feeling I was getting in her new classroom. I talked with friends, fellow moms and a couple trusted resources at her school about my discomfort. I sat with my feelings. Weighed the pros and cons of pushing for something different and finally requested a change.

This week, she moved to a new classroom and the skies opened up, clouds parted, birds chirped and the sun shined on us. The difference in her attitude (and my heart) is felt by all. I trust that she would have been “fine” in her original classroom. But fine is not always acceptable. We both needed a chance to thrive and after attending back-to-school night last night I’m confident she’s going to be given every opportunity to grow emotionally with this new teacher – which was my biggest concern. It’s a better fit for her (and for me) and we needed that.

Have you ever made a big decision based on a gut feeling? Truly trusted your inner guide? I think we often work with intuition without actually calling it that. However, since reading The Wise Child I’ve been really focused on my own intuition. The author talks about boosting children’s innate connection to their inner voice – that voice we are all born with, but gets quieted by our culture of distraction.

I really felt the effects of what I had been reading all summer in these past two weeks. I felt so relieved to know I could act on a feeling without being weighed down by emotions. The whole enterprise felt at once magical and yet, completely rational. I think the difference was realizing that I could make a change and ask for help from a place of power, rather than fear. And realizing that seeing my daughter thrive doesn’t come at the cost of another child’s opportunity. Big learnings happening for this mama.

P.S. If you’re buying supplies for your kids’ teachers this year, consider replacing their supply of hand sanitizer with a nontoxic version. We’d all be so much better off eliminating triclosan from our lives. I shared a round up of my favorites on All Parenting a few months back and it’s a great time to spread the news with back to school shopping well underway.

 

 

My daily cup of sad

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There it is. Decaf. My new normal.

Accept nothing about my new decaffeinated life feels normal. Since changing my diet and lifestyle last year I’ve given up most grains and sugars (Save for birthday cake. All bets are off when buttercream is involved), I hardly drink even a sip of wine and for crying out loud I’ve replaced pasta night with zucchini noodles. My last and utterly delightful vice was coffee. Sweet nectar of the gods in my cup each and every morning, plus soul satisfying cup of green tea in the afternoon. I wrote about my beloved butter coffee a few months ago. My daily buzz was a bright spot on my every day.

And then I stopped sleeping. Over the past few months I’ve experienced about a couple dozen sleepless nights. It’s a horrifying new occurrence for me as sleeping has always been my gift. For 40 years I’ve successfully fallen asleep easily and slept hard for as long as is socially acceptable. I could nap at your house, sleep on a plane and dream deeply in any hotel. Now I lay awake thinking about ALL THE THINGS and nothing at all for hours. I’ve relegated my cell phone, iPad and laptop to only daylight hours and I’ve tried hot baths, massage, lavender oil, restorative yoga and Advil PM. That last experiment was an exercise in crazy-making on a whole other level and I will never take another sleep aid again.

I blame hormones. Or changing hormones. And it turns out hormones hate caffeine (and alcohol, sugar and everything else that is worth waking up for, assuming you ever fall asleep). So I’m switching to decaf with a splash of caffeine to keep me livable. But it makes me sad. Just shopping the decaf section of fresh beans makes me stabby and resentful. Of course, lack of sleep could have something to do with my overall mood. I’m sure hoping the change will bring about some sort of hormonal balance and regular sleep sometime very soon.

I’m also re-reading The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried for the 400th time. It’s fascinating and full of valuable information about women’s hormones and how they change throughout our lives. If you’re a woman (or a man who loves a woman) between the ages of say, 35-60 I highly recommend checking out this book. I love that her recommendations start with holistic lifestyle adjustments, rather than jumping straight to meds. Her blog is also quite interesting. I loved her recent post on the benefits of yin yoga, a practice I started last year and cannot get enough of.

O.k. then. I’m off to brew a cup of herbal tea with a side of bitter.

Back at it

The past few months have been a whirlwind of life. Career shifts, a Kindergarten graduation and a new and exciting project for my family that has hovered over our waking hours since last fall. I caught myself telling someone recently that I’m “about to come up for air” or maybe I was “about to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Some terribly overused analogy for “I’ve been so busy, but I swear I’m getting my act together soon!”

The entire exchange stuck with me like a pit in my stomach. I don’t want to be that person anymore. You know the one. You ask her how she’s been and the response is heavy with stuff. And her stuff is really no different than yours or mine or your neighbors’ and none of it’s more important. So there’s that.

In light of all that, here are a few things that have been keeping me so busy lately. I’m writing at All Parenting each month. Since California seems to be experiencing what feels like a lifelong heatwave I’ve been brewing up my favorite ginger-mint-lemon elixir on a daily basis. So good over ice (even better with a splash of vodka.) I shared my version of Fig & Olive’s signature salad. It’s the perfect summer meal.  I had the anti-stranger danger talk with Emerson with some guidance from The Mother Company. Can’t recommend their products enough.

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Last month, I spent seven blissful days on Kauai with three of my closest girlfriends. We hiked, kayaked, swam with turtles and generally relaxed in honor of our 40th birthdays. It was nothing short of spectacular. Kind of like this sunrise over Hanalai. What is it about a good sunrise that feels so life-affirming? I think it’s the overwhelming sense of hope and potential in the start of a new day. This one, snapped on our way to hike the famed Na Pali coast trail will go down in history as one of the best for me.

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A while back I made a return visit to the Angriest Trainer podcast. This time Anna Vocino and I went one-on-one talking clean personal care products and, of course, the benefits of avoiding sugars and grains in our daily life. It was such fun. I’d love it if you would give it a listen. I’m also loving Anna’s gluten-free blog as a reliable resource for delicious grain and sugar-free recipes. The mexican chocolate pot de creme is next on my must-make list.

And while we’re on the subject of food choices I have to share my favorite weekly dinner item – zucchini noodles. They are a fantastic vessel for sauces of all sorts. We’ve reinstated pasta night at our house and rotate marinara, pesto and olive oil with mushrooms and olives for variety. I can officially say that I do not miss traditional pasta. Seriously, get a veggie spiralizer and change your life for the better. No more carb hangovers in the morning. Also, Against All Grain is another super resource for healthy recipes.

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And finally, the big event that has been hovering over my family’s life like a constant companion is Techmanity. My husband’s baby, his brainchild, passion project, life’s work. It’s big and I’m so excited to be part of it and watch it unfold into the great event it is meant to be. Music, culture and technology will converge in San Jose on October 1 & 2. Speakers are being added every day and Weezer (among other amazing bands) will be playing. It would mean the world to me if you would check it out and consider giving us some Twitter or Facebook love. The first year of any event like this is an uphill battle and we appreciate all the feedback and support.

Welcome to Techmanity from the Modern Vigilante. on Vimeo.

On 40 and winging it

Birthday cake

I recently turned 40 and like any good narcissistic Gen x-er I feel as though all the world is turning 40 with me. Every where I turn there are books, op-eds, blog posts, TV shows and films about this wondrous new chapter in life. It’s like we invented it. Which makes sense if you consider that our parents perfected the mid-life crisis, so maybe we can lay claim to the anti-crisis. Most days, I feel so terribly stable and (almost) happy, but there is also an overwhelming sense of relief that I can’t seem to shake. I suspect the following revelation has a little something to do with it.

“There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.” – Pamela Druckerman

EVERYONE IS WINGING IT. Truth bomb if there ever was one.

This link to Druckerman’s delightful New York Times opinion piece via Whoorl could not be more spot on. Part of me wishes I had understood that passage in my 20s – when I was mastering the art of self-hatred and comparison. But something tells me some lessons simply aren’t learnable until you’ve lived a little.

I’m so thrilled to be here, at this stage in life. I remember at 18 thinking that I probably wouldn’t live to be 40. Which sounds pretty morbid as I type it, but it’s true. I had no vision for anything past my mid-20s and just couldn’t really imagine any path to grown-uphood. And now I realize there is no path. We’re all just winging it – together.

So, I’m keeping a few things I loved from childhood, like my collection of porcelain figurines that graced my birthday cakes and ditching the crap that never worked in the first place. Broken assumptions that everyone else had it figured out and I would never quite catch up. Here’s to finally getting it. Happy day, my loves.

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