What can happen in a decade?

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. One of the things I really like about it is the On This Day feature, and today reinforced that.

You see, 10 years ago today I graduated with my Masters, and seeing the pictures of all of us grinning with accomplishment (and exhaustion) in our caps and gowns got me thinking about who I was then, where I am now and all the things in between.

I initially thought, “that couldn’t have been a decade ago! I’m not that old!” But it was. And as I sat in exhaustion, with my tepid cup of coffee looking at those pictures, I started thinking about all the things that have happened.

I traveled. A lot. I explored several countries (Italy, Costa Rica, France, Spain, Canada, Turks & Caicos, Mexico, Cayman Islands,  Jamaica) and states (California, Texas, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington, Tennessee, Illinois, New York and Iowa to name a few). And the experiences of each of these trips fanned the flames of my wanderlust more than the last.

I got married to my best friend in Key West, overlooking the ocean and danced the weekend away with our closest friends and family.

I got my hands dirty and gained so much work experience in non-profits, start-ups and technology organizations. Which helped me launch my freelance career.

I paid off my student loans (and was broke as a joke every month until I got that monkey off my back)

I bought a new car (which is now 8 years old and not paid off)

I started saving for retirement.

I got rejected. A lot.

I kept going.

I uncovered a love for cooking that I never knew I had.

I made amazing friends and connected with great mentors.

I earned my sandan.

And of course we had our twin girls, who are growing, thriving and forcing me to keep up my fitness so that I can chase them all over town while they giggle in delight at my exhaustion.

Not so bad for ten years! I have to say, there are many parts of life that I didn’t expect to happen, but I’m glad I experiences every up and down and twisty windy roads that have led me to where I am today.

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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.

 

Life lately

I’ve been absent from this space lately. I’ve fallen out of the habit of coming to the spaces that I’ve created for myself.

You see, I always wanted to be a writer. I dreamed of having a quiet, carved out nook where I would peacefully inscribe my thoughts upon paper. Little did I realize that the life of a writer is much more chaotic.

Now that I write for a living (among other things) I’ve become much more realistic about life. Instead of quiet spaces and long focus times, it’s quickly jotting thoughts down and then organizing them later. That’s my style at least. And it works.

What I never realized is when you spend your time writing for someone else, you neglect writing for yourself. And my struggle with reclaiming my own creative space has haunted me throughout the years.

I’m finally starting to come to terms with my own balance. With realizing that living a balanced life doesn’t mean doing every single thing all the time. Balance is about constantly shifting. And right now I’m trying to shift back towards myself. And it’s hard. Especially with a family, with maintaining a place we call home. With creating a life that I consider to be full.

I’m also realizing that it takes patience and prioritization. I’m great at prioritizing things for work, for my house and for my schedule. But not necessarily for myself. And if you know me, you know that patience is a virtue that I’m committed to improving. Let’s face it, I want to be able to do it all and right now. And admitting that it’s not always possible is something I still need to work on.

Working from home

Before I deleted facebook, I had a few different people ask me for recommendations regarding working from home. You see, even without kids around, working from home is a bit more challenging than it sounds.

If you’ve ever tried it, you know what I’m talking about. The temptations abound. “I’ve got to send this email, but first let me do the dishes…” three hours later you realize, “oh shit! I forgot about…”

Many people will tell you how great working from home is, but once you dive deeper, they admit that the lines between personal space and work space start to blur after awhile.  Knowing this, and having taken the opportunity to work from home whilst working for “the man” at previous jobs, this is what I found worked for me:

Establish a work space. Currently I work from my kitchen, but until I could focus, I worked from our office area. Both my husband and I found that putting the desk against a wall with minimal decor has been helpful because it provides enough visual interest without visual distraction. I recommend finding a place in your home that also has the right amount of (or absence of) noise. I can’t work in dead silence or extremely loud spaces. I eventually moved in to my kitchen space because I get the noise from our AC unit, which is just the right amount of even, quiet noise.

Establish a schedule. Since I only work part-time, I set reminders in my phone to do things like check in on projects at a certain time every day. This way I know generally when I need to feed myself and the kiddos. It’s also forced  me into a routine with the girls, which is always a good thing. I also have a general schedule for when I do stuff around the house vs. work.

Make a list. I keep physical lists of things I need to do for work, home and myself. I keep these lists right next to my computer because this is how I’ve always worked and it works for me. Other people integrate their lists on their phones or computers. I happen to like the satisfaction of crossing things off. It helps me understand how much I have left to do in a week, and how much I’ve accomplished.

Establish a break area. This is something I always advocate for – no matter where you work or how much you work. El Hombre has put a lot of love into our patios, and when I need to take a minute or two for myself, I hop outside for a deep breath of fresh air and sunshine. Even if I’m not working that day and the girls are fussy, I find myself taking a break outside. It’s never a bad thing to refresh your mind sometimes.

Set boundaries. If you work from home, your lines tend to blur between work life and personal life. Unlike an office, you never really leave so you find yourself checking emails, etc. at all hours. Make a commitment to get your work done within a given period of time and then “clock out.”

Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving eve and we are headed to the Keys tomorrow. It’s our first road trip with Z&E and who knows how this will go. Hopefully well.

As I’m pulling things together I’ve been reflecting on the things I’m grateful for. Thanksgiving is a good reminder to remember these things, but truthfully I think about these things all the time – especially since a few months back my brother started a weekly family “grateful” text. But I digress from my point.  These are the things swirling about in my head that I’m grateful for:

My family. From my husband who’s an absolute rock star of a partner and a great father, to my little minions. And of course my parents, siblings, grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws who are so supportive and positive. I couldn’t imagine having any better of a support system. I’m also thrilled to see my family continuing to grow with cousins also having babies.

My friends. Seriously, I have the best friends. These people never fail to make me laugh and are always there for me or to pull me out of the house when I’ve become too much of a hermit.

My opportunities. From my part-time work-from-home gig to being able to stay home with Z&E, I feel like doors just keep opening. It’s a lot to balance and sometimes gets overwhelming, but staying home with our girls is so important to both of us. And working for myself has always been one of my goals. Now if only we can get El Hombre out from behind a desk and also contracting… but it’s in the works.

My (now paid-off) student loans. Weird, I know. But hear me out. If I hadn’t been saddled with near-crippling student loan debt then I would have had a lot harder time prioritizing my finances right now. Sometimes eating dirt (or ramen) is what you need to do. It’s a lot easier to forego the things I don’t need in order to make memories I do want because I’ve done it for so long. I’m also grateful that I’ve paid off all my debt and saved money before these girls came along.

My renewed creativity. Admittedly I’ve not been writing so much lately. But I’ve been feeling the flow with my cooking, home and bits of work. But mainly in my cooking. And who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal and a full belly?

Naps. Without them I would have never finished this post. Or anything else in my life. Like the mountains of laundry that I’m also doing.

Hello silence

There is nothing more luxurious than the sound of silence. Everyone is asleep except for me and Lola. I’m fighting the urge to bang around in the kitchen because then I have to clean. (I’m really into making cookies right now. Who doesn’t like cookies?)

Speaking of silence, I’ve made the decision to start reducing the digital noise in my life. I’ve started with deleting my Facebook app, which means I’m only checking it every few days or so. And you know what? I don’t miss it. It’s very similar to when we cut cable – most of the anger and rage of the every day world has disappeared. No longer am I stumbling across headlines screaming atrocities, written by one party or the other and only loosely based in facts. No longer am I seeing the world portrayed as a hateful place.

I’d blame all this on the election, but truthfully it’s only the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back. Rather than socializing, I’ve found many of my connections are surrounding themselves with like-minded people and supporting their views with memes, or articles that are based on bias and written months or years ago. That’s just not what I need. And from what I can see, it only creates more of a divide.

Honestly, I’d delete most of my social profiles if it wasn’t for my freelance work. But when the gleeful rage hit it’s fever pitch last Wednesday I shut down my computer and went outside. I spent an afternoon in the park with my friend and our babies and you know what? It was much, much more peaceful and interesting than any social media interaction I could have had.

Around the web

Life is busy. So, so busy. I have two four month olds, I’m ramping up my “work from home” business and we have very little family here. What family we do have is not able to babysit for an hour.

So yeah, this blog has been neglected. But fortunately we have found some part-time help, which is amazing. Hurricane Matthew skipped us and I got a little sleep these last two days. Who’s feeling on top of the world today? This girl!

As I sit in my nursing chair feeding these babies, I have studiously ignored as much negativity surrounding the election as possible. Instead I’ve been seeking inspiration elsewhere. Here are some things that have caught my eye:

Can’t or won’t?

One of my favorite Insta accounts 

HAHAHAHAH

5 ways to reuse baby jars

Help cure Rett Syndrome