Thursday, January 23, 2014

House Hunting, For Reals


This is a major lifelong dream for me and now that it's happening I'm like, "uhhhh, what?!"  Funny how so often the dream is so much prettier than reality (reality being looking at houses with built in cement planters in the living room, among other cute little details).

We kinda sorta started looking last November, including getting pre-approved for a loan and starting to work with a realtor two sets of friends recommended, but honestly?  The housing market has sucked pretty hard for the past few months.  Like, there were three houses on the market that fit our parameters and one of them was the size of my pinkie and one of them had a full on sunken living room, a front door that opened up directly to a wall, a fully covered patio (only problem was the cover was about 5'6" high) and strange very much not 90° angles where the walls met (the 1970's were a groovy time for home design).  The third we didn't even bother looking at.  Oh, and all three of these houses were about 30,000 over our (I don't think I'm crazy to think it's reasonable) budget.


In all seriousness, I wasn't ready to buy then, and I knew it.  I didn't need to be turning my nest heels over ass amidst all the other crazy soul searching that's gone on the past several months.  I needed a home, a warm place to retreat to where I've already figured out all the furniture, we have our art on the walls, I can make myself a cocktail with my eyes closed because everything has been in the same spot for the last five years.  Some people can have all their sh*t be all crazy at the same time and still feel like everything's great.  I'm not one of those people.  I can give up my comfort object and sippy cup, just not at the same time.

So it's secretly (in the, "I'm posting this on the internet" kind of way) good that the buyer's market has been in the toilet for the past several months.

But guys.  We went in a house today and I could picture how I'd redo the floors (or, you know, put floors in because apparently the houses in our price range don't come with floors), how I'd arrange furniture...I started thinking about how it was good the house had two bathrooms because that would allow us to reno one at a time while still having another functional bathroom.  I started dreaming, immediately, hard.  And instead of thinking about the loss of leaving our current home, the place that has housed us through the past six years, I was thinking about how exciting it will be to have a HUGE MOTHERF*CKING SUPER MONEY PIT PROJECT HOUSE to stress over for the next decade.  We've turned the critical corner.

This is happening.  I'm ready.  H is ready (H has been ready ever since I went to the dark side and agreed we probably need a two car garage, which I will never in all my days actually be able to park my car in because it isn't actually a garage, it's a workshop, despite the fact that some people may or may not call the entrance a "garage door.").  Everything is in order.  Houses are starting to come onto the market more regularly, and some of those houses seem like they could become homes, and maybe one of those will be the house we end up buying.

So, spill.  What do we need to consider?  Anything you wish you had known before buying?  Anything to watch out for?  How do we know it's "the house"?  How do we decide how much is too much in terms of taking on renovations?  How do we decide when to expand or stick to our budget?  Do we prioritize house or neighborhood?  How do we convince sellers to let us buy their house instead of sending it to the dark world of cash investors?   How do you not lose your brains in this process?  Is it all just a matter of luck and I really just need to unbunch my panties and ride the waves?  TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.

This is a good thing.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Clean Skincare Routine

I've had a pretty dedicated skin routine since I started using anti-wrinkle night cream and daily sunscreen at the age of 12 (what, I was a neurotic kid).  I've always loved taking care of my skin, not only to appease my raging vanity but also because it's a nice little way to check out from the world and do something very basic and self-nurturing every day.

During my teenage save-the-world phase (which involved lots of dirty hair and Thai pants), I was pretty rigid (and self-righteous) about using only "natural" beauty products.  (Scare quotes=now understanding that lots of seemingly clean products are just as toxic as drugstore stuff, just with uglier labeling.  Just because Whole Foods sells it doesn't mean it's not toxic as hell.)  In my early twenties, driven by a very tight budget and frustration with supposedly green products that just didn't work, I went back to my drugstore brands and found a decent regimen I liked and stuck with for a few years.  But then I kept catching snippets here and there about the problems with synthetic chemicals used in beauty products and at some point it clicked (even though I'd heard it a million times before) that everything I put on my skin makes its way fairly quickly into my bloodstream, and eventually I started scouting around again for clean products.  This time, with access to the beautiful beautiful internet, I was better able to research products that were actually non-toxic (or relatively so) and that worked just as well or better than synthetic brands.  No More Dirty LooksSkin Deep and Makeup Alley helped me figure out what to try and I've been able to find a routine I genuinely enjoy using that does what I need it to do (mostly prevent acne and dry skin).

Note: I'm not an anti-chemical crusader.  I just figured since someday I want to have a baby with only two arms and I already have some hormone imbalances going on, it might be wise to move in the direction of putting fewer synthetics in my body on the daily.  I'm pretty enthusiastic about how these products work and recommend them even to those lovelies who could give two sh*ts about synthetics in their beauty routines.

Face Wash: Raw Honey

I've been using raw honey as a face wash since January 2013.  I used to suffer through the winter with horribly dry, flaky skin.  Switching from a traditional cleanser to honey made a huge, almost immediate difference.  It doesn't strip my skin at all but it seems to clean it pretty thoroughly.  Reportedly, its antibacterial properties help prevent and heal acne and its mild graininess provides some gentle exfoliation (some people add a bit of baking soda to their honey for more exfoliation.  I tried that once and it turned me into a hot, scratched up mess).  I use it every night before bed by swiping it on dry skin and rubbing it in for 30 seconds or so, then letting it sit on my face while I brush my teeth before rinsing it off with warm water.  It doesn't leave my skin squeaky clean, but that's exactly what I want--I cherish those precious skin oils!  If I'm especially grimy, I might mix in a drop of liquid Dr. Bronner's and work the lot into a wet face like a traditional foaming cleanser.  It doesn't remove makeup; for that, I use whatever face oil I have on hand--coconut or argan--before cleansing with the honey.  Lots of people will tell you you need to use fancy pants Manuka honey.  I haven't used it because a) I don't want to drop a lot of cash on something that stays on my face for only 2 minutes and b) I'm happy with my TJ's $6 raw honey.  Either way, it's a pretty nurturing but effective way to take care of the cleaning part.

Sunscreen and Day Moisturizer: Suntegrity

Hot damn do I love Suntegrity.  I've used a lot of facial moisturizer/sunscreen combos and Suntegrity cleans the clock of those other brands.  It's a moisturizer and primer with SPF 30 and I LOVE IT SO SO SO MUCH--I'm on my fifth bottle and haven't been even mildly tempted to look at any other sunscreen.  I'm somewhat prone to clogged pores and I haven't gotten a single breakout from using this (word on the street is the zinc it contains might actually help prevent breakouts?  I dunno.).  It sinks in beautifully and is perfectly moisturizing but non-greasy and even though it is zinc oxide based, it doesn't leave my skin with a white cast.  It's a little 'spensive, but in my opinion, a good sunscreen that I actually want to use even on cloudy days is worth it.  It's also got the EWG seal of approval, coming at as their top moisturizer with SPF for the last three consecutive years.

Night Moisturizer Brick House: Argan Oil

Prior to trying argan oil, I was freaked out by the idea of slapping oil directly on my face; a brief fling a few years ago with the oil cleansing method left me with an acne party that took several weeks to clear up.  Then a few years ago argan oil hit it big on the beauty product publicity circuit as the magical cure-all for skin and I bought it hard.  I love the stuff.  Part of what helped me take the leap from "don't let oil anywhere near my face" to a hefty nightly slathering of the stuff for the past 18 months was that everything they say about argan oil is true.  My breakouts have dramatically lessened and when I do get a little zit friend, argan seems to help it heal faster than it otherwise would.  As far as anti-aging, I'm 27 so I have no idea.  It feels good, though, and does it job of keeping me moisturized and balanced, so I'm happy.  Oh, and while there are lots of super expensive argan oils out there, I've been pretty happy with this stuff.  It's insanely reasonable and it gets the job done (note: I also love this as an addition to a hair mask, but that's a post for another time).

Night Moisturizer Runner Up: Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

In hopes of finding something that did a little more work (i.e. gave me the ever elusive fairy princess skin), I strayed from the argan and have been using this product nightly for about four months (I'm still on my first bottle).  While I like it, I don't know if I'll repurchase, as I haven't noticed any major results beyond basic moisturizing.  It doesn't break me out and it doesn't leave me dry, but I was hoping it would help with turnover and brighten my skin up a bit due to the higher concentration of retinols. I like it okay and am happy enough finishing this bottle; I'll just be on the hunt for something with a little more zing once this guy's empty.

Intensive Night Moisturizer: Evening Primrose Oil

I started taking this internally (two capsules per day) last spring in an effort to clear up my hormonal acne before our wedding (which worked beautifully and I've kept the habit up).  I don't know where I picked up  the idea of puncturing the capsules to use the oil as a facial moisturizer, but it's a favorite for when my skin is extra dry or I've just used an intensive exfoliating mask.  This tends to break me out if I use it multiple nights in a row, but as a once per week thing it gives me a nice boost and lets me wake up with soft, plump, glowing skin.

Exfoliating Mask: Arbonne Cellular Renewal Mask

Eep.  Yes, one of my very favorite skin care products requires participating in multilevel marketing.  But this mask is my holy grail.  It's ridiculously exfoliating and feels like what I imagine a baby chemical peel would feel like without the ensuing days of redness and peeling.  I was super reluctant to participate in Arbonne's MLM, but a friend of mine loaned me her Cellular Renewal Mask last winter when I was kvetching about how uncomfortably dry, tight and flaky my skin felt and I was an immediate goner.  One use took care of the peeling and got rid of the nasty skin build up that had been preventing my moisturizers from working.  I ordered one immediately and have been using it weekly since.  It's basically a facial in a bottle and beats the pants off of any other exfoliation method or mask I've ever used.  I used it before bed and leave it on for about 20-25 minutes (longer than recommended, but my skin isn't at all sensitive).  I follow with evening primrose oil or Tata Harper's Wild Plum Resurfacing Mask (below).  It leaves me pretty red initially but I wake up with glowy lovely skin the day after and notice a huge improvement in my skin after a few weeks of regular use (i.e. fewer breakouts, more smoothness).  I love this stuff and just bought my third pot of it.  Like some of my other favorites, it's a little expensive but I've found each pot to last about 6 months with weekly use.

Magical Mask: Tata Harper Wild Plum Resurfacing Mask (Limited Edition)

This one's a newbie--I just bought it last month after everybody would not shut up about how amazing it is.  I usually use it after the Arbonne Cellular Renewal Mask (above) and leave it on all night as an intensive treatment.  It's kind of amazing.  It's very gentle but seems to completely smooth out, refresh and plump up my skin making it look glowy like I just came off of a yoga retreat in Bali.  I've been using it once a week for the past month-ish and think I'll probably repurchase the regular version when I run out.

Serum: Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum (or, I can't believe I'm admitting I spent this much on some goo)

I was pretty happy with my simple honey+sunscreen+argan oil regime for quite awhile but felt like I wanted a little something more.  I spent a few months lazily looking for a serum to add to my routine and even tried a few samples, but nothing seemed to do much for me so I called off the search.  I use Tata's Aromatic Irritability Treatment as a perfume (olfactory heaven in a bottle) and ordered a refill in December.  With my order came samples for three of their facial serums.  I didn't expect much in just two uses (I usually give a new product a couple of months to decide whether or not I like it) but was immediately impressed by how well these mofos worked.  Granted, the one I liked the best is a leetle out of my price range, but I was pretty in love with this (very slightly) more reasonable one.  Guys, I've never even considered spending even half this amount on this type of skin care product, but for whatever reason (existential crisis?) I ended up forking it over and have been using this for the past month.  Can I say first that this bottle is kind of huge and I fully expect it to last me at least through late summer?  But also, it actually does stuff for my skin.  It brightens me up significantly and gives my skin a radiance it doesn't naturally have.  I'm hoping that over time it does some other voodoo skin stuff but I won't get into that.  Could I do without this serum?  Definitely.  Do I kind of love using it?  Um, yes I really love it a lot.  Do I believe it's more worth it than a lot of cheaper bunk serums that are basically liquid plastic?  Yah.  Whether or not anybody else thinks its worth it is up to them, but I'm happy with it and there's a good chance I'll repurchase. 

The Fix All: Kuumba Made Healing Salve

This is not the most glamorous or exciting thing in the world but I've been using this particular brand of salve for 8+ years and it does the job. I use it on cuts, burns, scars, cuticles, ingrown hairs, blemishes (both new ones and healing ones) and as a lip balm.  I also rub a bit into my hands before bed for some intensive healing/moisture and use it as an eye makeup remover as well as a night time eye cream.  It has all kinds of good hippie herby stuff in it and does seem to help things heal more quickly than other salves I've used.  I always have a pot of it by my bed and usually use it multiple times a day.  Kind of the modern version of petroleum jelly.

So that's it!  Do you use any of these products?  Any recs for other clean products to try?


Thursday, January 16, 2014


Folks.  It's just keeps on keeping on.  If I'm being honest, there's been some reluctance over the past several months to come here to typety-type my heart out because, well, I'm still climbing up the mountain and I haven't yet caught sight of the top.  I so want to avoid becoming one of those people who a) completely identifies with my job and b) persistently complains about my job, but I also think the practice keeping silent about the tough stuff is kind of bullshit.  I'm not saying my tough stuff is special; I'm just saying we all have our ways of figuring out the "what are you going to do about it" part.  In large part, I write because it's my favorite path to making sense of things, but I also write because I believe in the very tippy reaches of my soul it's all part of the human experience and I want somebody, somewhere, to read this and understand in her heart that she is not alone and it will get better.  I believe that for myself and I believe that for you, too.

In the meanwhile, though...gosh, there are a lot of hard days in these months.

Here's the thing: I'm not complaining about my job.  It's not the job.  It's where I am in my life, in my growth.  It's being caught between feeling certain I took the wrong exit somewhere along the line and am hundreds of miles away from where I am supposed to be and feeling equally certain that in 10 years, where I am now will make perfect sense.  It's feeling so deeply and utterly grateful for a dependable paycheck and work that keeps me engaged and feeling equally deeply and utterly sure there's gotta be something more.  It's feeling tired, and not in the way that gets fixed with one long sleep.  It's feeling insecure, feeling I made my bed and now I have to sleep in it.  It's feeling so desperately desperately that I want to create beauty in this world but having no idea how I do that.  It's wanting to fulfill the long held dream of buying a house and knowing a big fat part of being able to do that is having a certain kind of job.  It's adjusting to a radically different lifestyle than I've ever known (hello, sitting all day!).  It's valuing security over exploration one day and valuing exploration over security the next.  It is, ultimately, feeling the heavy weight of an unknown future.  It is so many things.

And each one is valid, and each one is good, and it all sometimes feels very hard and very scary, and I often wonder how long until I have completely lost myself.

Guys.  I am not hinting at needing a rescue.  You wouldn't do that to me because you know and I know I am exactly where I ought to be, and each of us will go through some iteration of this several times in our lives (if we're lucky).  And each time we go through it, maybe unless we someday become very wise, we will want it to be over, we will want to escape from it.  And the ways we try to make that happen only stall the process: we invalidate our questioning, we drink too much, we shut down, we succumb to the  mundane, we tell ourselves we'll have more time to be our true selves in the future, we shut ourselves down with "it could be worse," we run away instead of towards, we substitute others' dreams for our own...we do all of these because we forget that the only way out is through.

As I have swum around in this pool of "where the hell is this all going?" I've started to notice that I'm drawn to certain ideas, certain people, certain sources of inspiration even when I'm tired (what you choose to do when you're tired says a lot about what drives you!).  I'm a big blog reader--there are at least 10 that I check in on regularly and most of them focus on design and living a beautiful life.  One that has quietly moved to my daily check in list is Design Love Fest.  And while I was initially drawn to Bri's blog because of her aesthetic, I've become more strongly drawn to it because I want her job.  I want to do creative work, to make beautiful things, to host events and teach and write and share inspiration, and even though being able to do all of that probably also means late nights and heavy deadlines, I still want it.  And it feels completely terrifying to say that.  Why is that?  Why is it so scary to say out loud what we want?

It's scary because you're not supposed to go to graduate school to figure out what you don't want to do.  It's scary because we have cultural stories that set strict parameters around when it is okay to start over.  It's scary because there are bills that keep showing up in our mailboxes every month.  It's scary for a whole lot of reasons that probably boil down to doubting our own abilities to make awesome things happen in our lives.

I can't promise you it will work, whatever "it" is for you.  I wish I could, but that would be robbing you of the richness of not knowing and doing it anyway.  If I could, I can almost guarantee I'd be writing on a different theme in this particular moment.

Most days, I want it all to just make sense.  I want that security of knowing what the next logical thing is.  But right now I know, and I hope you know with me, it does make sense, just maybe not to the current versions of ourselves.

So now I'm considering either taking a metals class in preparation for future welding classes, or I might sign up for beginning graphic design.  I'm being deliberate in reaching out to what inspires me even when my be-inspired button is broken.  I'm putting my intention out into the world that I'm open to the next good thing, even though I don't exactly have a clear picture of what that is.  I'm getting really, really good at keeping my head above water even when I feel like I'm wearing a lead vest.  I can only imagine that will make me an excellent swimmer when I find a favorable current.

Thank you, as ever, for reading my words.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Real Jobs Series: Jojo Schwartz Jacobson, adjunct professor and more

I met Jojo in 2004 when I was hired for my first "real" job (i.e. not nannying or selling cakes out of my parents' kitchen).  Jojo is...I don't have any idea how to describe Jojo and I tip my hat to anybody who can sum this lady up with words.  I will say that I adore and admire her and am thrilled she answered my prying questions.
Tell us a little about the various iterations of your career aspirations:
When I was a kid I wanted to be a circus clown. Then an actress. Then an architect. Then a writer. Then I really didn’t know. Then when I was in college I realized I was good at teaching, but I didn’t want to teach high school kids, and I didn’t want to teach college kids either. I realized that community college people aren’t spoiled brats, so I thought “hey! maybe that’s a good idea!” And then I realized that you only need a Master’s degree to teach at community college, so I was sold.
What has been your work history to this point?
I was a camp counselor and a lifeguard/swim coach during summers in high school, and I also taught religious school to kindergarteners on weekends. It looked disparate, but all of those things involved teaching kids. In college I worked at Deux Gros Nez and I was also a tutor at the Writing Center at TMCC. After college I went to Korea and taught English for a year. After that, I went to Boston for grad school. During grad school, I tutored writing at the local community college. It was a good foot in the door, so when I got my MA in English, I started teaching classes at the community college immediately.
Current job title(ish).
Adjunct professor, and part time academic success coach under the PRESS grant
How many hours are dedicated to your job each week?
teaching: 12. Prep time/grading: 9ish because I’m lazy. Grant work/meetings/emails: 10. TOTAL: 31ish
Do you have flexibility in your schedule?
Yes, regarding grant stuff. Not with teaching.
How did you get to this job (college, previous jobs, word of mouth, responding to call for applications, just applied, built the business myself, sold into slavery, etc.)?
Just applied to the tutoring job while in grad school, then word of mouth for teaching because I was already at the institution.
Is a job in this field something you specifically pursued (i.e. I would have taken any job vs. I only applied for jobs in this field vs. it kind of just fell into my lap vs. I never in a million years could have predicted I’d be here)?
I worked towards this for a while, so I guess I only applied for this job? But I also would have taken a variety of other jobs… I could have done community organizing or something more activisty/political.
What factors played into you taking this job (passion, schedule, pay, etc.)?
schedule, pay, and respect. I like that when you’re a professor, the outside world doesn’t think you’re a slacker or an idiot. I like that while you’re teaching, people don’t talk down to you the way they talk down to secretaries/servers/etc.
Is the job what you expected (both in practical terms, like expected tasks, and emotional terms, like does it fulfill you as you thought it would)?
This job is definitely as fulfilling as I hoped, but there’s no room to become a full time professor. Not having benefits isn’t something I expected. It’s sometimes more exhausting than I expected and sometimes less exhausting than I expected, depending on the week. This week it’s exhausting because it’s late in the semester. I didn’t expect the complete lack of job security.
Income(ish)?  Feel free to include non-money types of compensation.
Very roughly, $25,000- $35,000 a year, if I get three classes per semester plus about 15 hours of paid grant work, which I usually do. There’s no job security though, so I might end up SOL next semester. Cost of living is high in Boston, so if I were doing this elsewhere I’d probably get paid less.
Outline for us an average work day for you
Get to work at 8:15, make a handout of notes for the 9am class on the office computer, make photocopies. Wait to see if the student who made the 8:30 appointment shows up. They never do. Teach from 9:00 to 10:20. Meet with a colleague regarding our joint class from 10:30 to 11:30. The latter half of that meeting is spent complaining about students and colleagues we don’t like.
11:30- 1:00, grade papers, write emails to students, make lesson plan for tomorrow’s classes.
1:00-2:30, Maybe a meeting regarding grant work (depending on the week), discuss training tutors to be more effective, listen to old people who have job security blather on about nothing, roll eyes at other young colleagues.
2:30- 4:30 Have meetings with students, listen to stuff in their lives, give them advice about transferring to 4 year universities, give them advice about how to get tutoring and other resources at the community college. Write emails to other professors about grant work while waiting for students to show up. Feel overwhelmed when more students email me. Put off emailing students. Check facebook.  
4:30- Maybe some paperwork, go home.
(This is a Monday or Wednesday. On a Tuesday or Thursday, I’d start teaching at noon, and then I’d have another class from 6pm to 9pm. Fridays I have off usually, unless I have a meeting.)
How much of your energy do you invest into your job?  Do you feel like it’s a good trade for you?
I invest not much physical energy, but I invest a lot of emotional/intellectual energy in my job. I usually feel like it’s a good trade. I’m glad I don’t spend all day in a cubicle or doing lots of manual labor.
Is there room in your job for personal progress or promotion?  Is that something that’s important to you or that you seek out?
There’s the illusion that adjuncts can get full time work, but it’s not actually possible for 99% of us. I don’t like that. I want more job security. I’m trying to do more administrative things so that I can move forward in my career… If I didn’t think I was moving forward, I’d be less happy. It wouldn’t be a dealbreaker, but still, I’d be frustrated.
What are some things you find fulfilling about your job?
Students say “thank you” a lot. I have a lot of face to face work, and I get to see lightbulbs go off.
What are some things that you find challenging about your job (not in a “yay!  I’m being challenged and I’m growing!” but the annoying “I wish I didn’t have to deal with this” way.)
When older colleagues think they know everything but are in fact quite out of touch. I hate it. They make everything worse, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I just have to hope they retire and/or die.
Do you see yourself in this job/with this company/in this field in 5-10 years?  Why or why not?
In this field, yes. I like higher ed. In this job? I hope not. I want to transition to be more of an administrator--I want to supervise and coordinate tutors. If I were more of an administrator, I’d have more job security, and I’d probably be paid more.
Is this what you want to do?  Aka is this “the” job?
Not quite. It’s almost “the” job. If my grant work and my teaching were combined into one position with benefits and job security, it might be “the” job.
Do you feel like you have a relatively balanced life?  If so, what do you think helps you feel that way?  If not, what do you think would need to change for you to feel that way?
Mostly yes. My partner is still in grad school, so I don’t see her enough and she doesn’t help out around the house enough. I hope that changes in two years when she’s done with school.
Of the five markers of a quality life (positive emotion, engagement, relationship, meaning, achievement), which does your job allow you to fulfill?  Does your job allow you enough time/energy to fulfill the other ones in your free time?
Emotion, engagement, and meaning: mostly. Relationships: somewhat. I don’t have a lot of coworker relationships because teaching is by nature a sort of lonely profession. I get student-teacher relationships, but there are boundaries with that because of the power dynamic. Achievement: not so much, and my work takes up enough time and energy so that I don’t really have much time to look for other jobs to get that achievement part fulfilled.
What are your general thoughts about work/this job/life?  
It takes a certain type of person to survive and thrive in this job. I’m mostly that person… but not for my whole life. I have to make sure I keep looking for administrative stuff to do.
Free style (anything else you feel compelled to explain/share):
I don’t really have time… I have to go to a meeting!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year Surrender


One of my favorite gifts over the past few years is being given the time and space to notice patterns in my life: being able to recognize where I have been before, where I have left, where I have returned to, and knowing at the end of it all that it all moves me toward something larger, something more beautiful.  It has, in a way, given me permission to step outside of my day-to-day and into the role of an observer, wondering always what meaning I will find years down the line in each experience, each period of m life.

Life has been utterly wonderful in this sense during the past several months because I'm just so damn uncertain most of the time.  Certainly, the (few) phases I've had where I've felt confident of moving toward an explicit goal were exhilarating and yes please, I'd like more of those.  But the sense of unknown and in that, of magic and expectation and curiosity and the push to just have faith that this is part of something larger is pretty wonderful, too.  Sure, days arrive here and there where I'd be ever so much more comfortable just knowing  where this is all going, but on the good days it feels like choosing to let go of the safe but lonely rock in the middle of the ocean and to instead float on the waves under the warm sun, trusting I will be deposited on exactly the right shore.

My favorite gift of last year, aside from the big life events, is being given space again to be without known direction, because even when I've wanted desperately just the tiniest glimpse of understanding where this is all headed, I've known in my heart it is the surrendering to the not knowing that will drive the next right thing.

I haven't made any New Year's resolutions for many many years.  Partly this is in response to the implicit link they have to superficial and usually unsuccessful goals; I'd much rather be on regular re-evaluation of what needs to be done in my life, taking into account the changes that each season brings, so I won't be making any resolutions for 2014 either.  However, I do believe fully in setting intentions, not necessarily to extend over a particular time period, but rather only until those intentions become irrelevant, whether by change in habit, attitude or circumstance.

So, until these no longer serve, in the name of a new page turned, I intend to:

Inject more intention into my free time.

  • The incessant grind of my education created a need for mindless activities, allowing me to check out from the mental strain and pressure, so I dutifully developed healthy Pinterest habit and watched way too many TV series. Now that I'm in a regular, not-so-mentally-exhausting job, I have more energy available and I want to enjoy it.  I've had several evenings this week where I didn't spend any time with electronics at all beyond a quick e-mail check after work.  Being intentional with this time rather than flipping back and forth between social media sites, free cell games and questionable TV shows made those days feel much longer and more pleasantly balanced.  My house got cleaned(ish). I had a tiny cocktail party.  I read a book.  H and I had a super nice homemade dinner.  I got to putter around in my happy pants scaring the cats with my screaching/singing.  I felt almost like I got an extra weekend out of it; I think this is where the life balance lives.  
Keep thinking about change

  • I almost always find change more unsettling than exciting, but it's an integral piece of the kind of life I want.  I look around and see many people who allowed their choices to be guided by fear of change rather than a move toward growth or willingness to risk for a greater goal.  It's easy to get caught in the belief that when change is right, it will feel right, as if our gut feelings can predict the future. They can't.  We get to choose either to jump even when the unknowns feel overwhelming or to remain stagnant.  I hate even writing about this one because I'd much rather nest up forever in my cozy cocoon, but I know ultimately gratification lies on the other side of risk.  My wisest of wise friends texted me this this morning:
 "I got fired the day before my 40th birthday.  I burned through my savings paying for my underwater house.  I was scared a lot.  It was easy to see myself moving in with parents and sliding into debt and despair.  But that didn't happen.  I'm telling you this because it will never be easier to make a change than it is now."  

Eat more doughnuts

  •   I love doughnuts.
And one gratuitous very short term straight up textbook New Year's Resolution

Move more
  • Before you get on that fast train to thinking I in some way want to compensate for all the super super delicious and lovely things I ate during the holidays (holiday food, I miss you already), that's not it.  I wholeheartedly love the eating part of the holidays and am not willing to let guilt or "shoulds" hinder that.  However, as they are every year, the holidays are just so busy and they fall right at the darkest time of the year, when after work walks in the dark just can't compare to fleece pajamas and a scotch on the rocks.  I cherish that lull in my usual movement habits, in part because being lazy can be super fun, in part because sometimes it's nice to get a little out of whack to remember why being in whack is so nice.  This isn't a resolution per se, since I'd do it naturally resolution or no.  I'm just putting it out in the world that I'm finding my way back to more balance and a quieter, less frenzied schedule with space for more bike rides and less tush time.  And then when I get back to feeling like my usual self, I'll get thrown out of balance again, because that's how life is.  I love it.
Wishing you a happy 2014.