On making the world a better place

I just sat and read through 18 Girl Scout Gold Award projects, and as I was reading about the incredible work that these high school girls accomplished, I had a thought.

Why do we not focus on all of the great work that’s happening in our community?

Why don’t we rally around change makers and positivity? Why are we so focused on inciting rage and throwing blame and negativity?

It’s no secret that I find the state of our community to be disturbing. Gun violence haunts us, there’s mounting tensions with many of our international allies and people are more divided than ever.

How did we get here? To a place where you can’t have conversations without insults and anger?

I think it’s because we allow ourselves to be permeated by negativity. We create silos and people who don’t look like us and think like us and act like us are viewed as the enemy. Or we look to what others are doing and use that to further a sense of self-hatred as a country. That’s heartbreaking to me.

I wonder if we focused instead on the positive community impacts from those around us, if we would start to break down those barriers. To see that even those who are different than us share the same values. And maybe then we can have civil, productive conversations that lead to a better world for all of us, instead of hatred and anger.

When I see what these girls are doing, just in my community, it gives me hope. Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers aren’t sitting and playing the victim game. They are standing up and taking action in a thoughtful, community-oriented way. And I can’t help but think that maybe we aren’t so bad off after all.

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Are you ready for a pineapple party?

This is the text that my husband just sent me, totally out of the blue.

It’s Saturday, the kids are napping after a busy morning of swim classes, lunch and running around screaming “auto” because they just got new Wonder Woman cars.

I have so many questions. Like, how many pineapples are about to make my house their home? What inspired the pineapple party? And when is he coming home with said pineapple(s).  Because this mama needs a break with cottage cheese and fresh pineapple.

 

Minimalism

Lately I’ve found myself musing about how transformative these last year and a half has been.  It’s no secret that we’ve been divesting ourselves of excess over the past year or so. As we donate, upcycle or toss items, It’s become clear how expensive it is to buy cheap things. Most of our clothes that were “cheap” have become rags, while the more expensive things are still in perfect condition after years of use. The same goes for kitchen ware, housewares and more.

It’s striking to see how our natural style has emerged as we rid ourselves of impulse buys we never really needed. Gone are the radical colors and what remains are calming blues, greens and taupes. Colors that soothe and inspire relaxation. (that is, if you are a geek and believe in color theory like I do.)

Overall, it’s interesting just how transformative it is to pare down and live with less. Yes, there’s a certain catharsis of ridding yourself of excess, but it also lends itself to a more relaxing home environment. Now things are easier to find and organize. There’s less to negotiate when pulling things out of closets or drawers and there’s less to clean. Everything has it’s place, everything is functional and everything stands the test of time.

These are small things but they have a big impact on our lives. Think about it – how often do you get frustrated when you need to find something and you can’t figure out where it is? Now imagine trying to dig through a drawer, dropping something on the floor or your foot because that drawer is overflowing with stuff. Unnecessary stuff. You’re already frustrated. Then you have to get on a call with a client or a vender – it’s already off to a bad start, even if you don’t realize it. As I contemplate all these things, it’s no wonder that I find myself less anxious over things that don’t really matter, and more focused on the things that do.

Summer musings

Summer is pretty much here, and it’s got me a bit nostalgic for my childhood. I remember eagerly waiting for the first official day of summer (which, by the way, was the last day of school). It was a countdown to long days outside, pool days and library books. Once summer was here, we knew we were allowed to play outside ALL DAY, catching lightning bugs at night and drink honeysuckles. That was a North Carolina summer.  We didn’t care how hot it was, or if we would get tan lines. We squirmed to get out the door as our mom slathered us in coconut-scented sun screen and we charged like bulls into our kitchen for lunch, only to charge back out and jump on our bikes, or explore the woods.

When my mom needed to get out of the house, she’d load us up into the minivan and take us (with some of our friends if we were lucky) to the community pool. As we got bigger, we’d get to go to the local waterpark if we were lucky. Looking back, both were great ways to wear out three hyperactive little kids.

I also think about our family trips to the beach and the mountains. We’d build sandcastles on big, wide beaches with my dad, while my mom looked on from her beach chair. We’d make “beach friends” – kids near our age that were camped out near us. Friends we never expected to form lasting friendships with, but were fun to hang out with for a few days. We’d ride bikes and go to bed listening to the ocean and the crickets.

Or we’d take a break and head to the cooler, more dry air of the mountains. We’d take hikes and splash in swimming holes and go home to pick blueberries off my grandmother’s trees.

Now, as we have our own kids, I think more about these things than I used to. As an adult, I realize that these were not the more simple times that I remember. There was the stock market crash, the cold war and who knows what else. But we don’t remember that. I remember my dad serenading my mom on the guitar with the song, “even though we ain’t got money/I’m so in love with you honey…” but we didn’t understand the reason why he’d continuously sing that song. We just knew we loved how he’d play the guitar and sing.

These are not simple times. But as we grow into this whole parenthood thing, I want to make sure we build the same sort of adventurous, fun and idyllic memories for our girls. I want to shield them from the darker tones of life without smothering them or painting a false reality. While I plan to vet their activities, I don’t want to over-architect them. I want them to make real friends, play in person and interact with people face-to-face as much as possible.

Life, lately

How are we halfway through the year? How are my babies almost one? Why would I ever go back into a 9-5 setting?

These are the random thoughts that flitted through my head as I watched my girls giggle a play while cupping a warm mug of coffee between my hands and listening to it rain.

I’ve heard that once you have kids, the days go by slowly and the years fly. It’s true. But I think that’s more than just having kids, it’s life. And these are the things that I’ve been contemplating lately. Particularly as it involves how I spend my waking hours.

Sometimes I feel like I never unplug. Working from home does that to you because there’s not a clear delineation between work and home. But unlike before I don’t resent it. Maybe it’s because I love my work, or because I am lucky to have awesome clients, but now I’m excited to plug in and work on things. Or perhaps it’s having adult conversations about something other than babies. It’s probably all of the above.

But as I listen to my friends complain about their jobs or sitting in traffic, I find myself regretting spending so much time and energy towards things that didn’t excite me. Now there’s a bit more risk, but it’s so worth it. And I’m pretty sure that now that I’m feeling so much more positive about that part of my life, the opportunities are starting to roll in. So thank you, Universe, for the affirmation!

 

Friday faves

It’s been a rough week. Both girls are sick and teething so we are all miserable. It’s their first time being truly sick, and while it’s nothing serious, we can’t help feel bad for them. But my personal business has been busy and I’ve been out of the house more for work, which is both invigorating and a confidence booster.

Last week I threw out a post on my favorite things for the week, and I like the concept of embracing the positives in written form, so I’m continuing it this week. Especially because it’s been tough, I wanted to reflect on things that I enjoyed.

Cactus Bloom

Our cactus occasionally blooms, and only in the mornings. There’s something dreamy about padding outside in flip flops with my coffee to see if there are blossoms.

Lizard among our succulents

We’ve been sticking close to home since the girls are sick, so in the quiet moments, I’ve been taking advantage of our front and back patios. El Hombre’s plant game is on point, and it’s nice to sit outside and take it all in. It’s been raining a lot, and the plants are loving it, and so have the lizards.

IMG_3129

I totally get why my mom always made my favorite foods when I got sick. It’s comforting to eat something that makes you feel warm and comfortable inside. Also, it meant I would actually eat. Because the girls’ appetites are down, they get hungry faster, which means they don’t sleep as well and are extra cranky. So I threw together a risotto with sage, using the last of my homemade chicken broth. And I realized that I went from never making risotto in my life, to “just throwing it together” status in the matter of weeks. Cooking is a mental release for me and the more that I can add to my repertoire, the better.

Bengal cat helps me work

This cute little booger has been hanging out with me on the desk, making sure everything is up to par. And by “up to par,” I mean she’s demanding ear scratches.

twin babies playing

At this age, most babies tend to parallel play and my girls are no different. But because they have always been together, they also play together occasionally (when they aren’t stealing each others’ toys and screaming about it.) It’s always so cute to me when they sit right next to each other to play.

Friday faves

It’s been a busy week and Friday got here before a blink of an eye. Between work, life and motherhood, I’ve had lots on my mind and I’ve been feeling a little sluggish and a lot of wanderlust. It’s a strange combo, to say the least.  As I reflect on this week, there are certain bright moments that make me smile, so I thought I’d share a few with you.

Mothers Day flowers

El Hombre brought me beautiful flowers for Mothers Day, and every day they get bigger and brighter. When this lily opened it, it changed the whole dynamic.

Cuban Coffee

Coffee is life these days. There’s rarely anything fancy about Cuban Coffee – it’s cheap, comes in a small styrofoam cup and it’s strong. We have several beautiful coffee shops here in Miami, but they don’t replace walking up to a cafesito corner.

mia nonna

My aunt found several old pictures of my grandmother when she was young, back in Italy. She posted them for Mothers’ Day. My grandmother was a beautiful, dynamic, passionate and admittedly complicated. The timing here was interesting because El Hombre and I got our ancestry DNA results back this week, and I’ve been fascinated by them. Side note, I now know what a haplogroup is.

The Standard Miami Beach

Yesterday we left the girls with the sitter and rode out to South Beach. We started out on Lincoln Road, where we grabbed wine and appetizers while we waiting on our friends to check into their hotel. As we started to walk to their hotel, it started to rain. So we nixed the walk and hopped into an Uber instead.

It’s been years since we’ve visited the Standard, but it remains one of my favorite hotels on the beach. I snapped this picture as we were ducked under an umbrella, walking through the gardens to the bar (hence the blur). There’s nothing like sitting under cover, staring at the bay as water pours down while sipping drinks with friends.