Beautiful mess and all…

We all have things in our life that are the constant battle for us. For me, it is finding balance. I have my ups and downs. There are days and weeks when I nail it and others when I struggle horribly. I try to do too much, help too many people, my to-do list is too long. I want a clean house at the end of a weekend, clean laundry, my personal life caught up and in order before I start into my week of craziness and full days. I want to connect with people, listen, and do what I can to help. Sometimes though it means my life is a little out of whack. Learning to even out the teeter totter of my life is all part of how I continue to hone me.

At times I find an idea that helps me remember that I am not the only one that struggles with the adventure of learning more about myself. A recent example comes from Shauna Niequist’s blog post: “Glimpse:”

“But I am inching, and I’m learning so much, and the awkwardness is worth it and the fumbling is worth it and the growing pains are worth it, because every once in a while I feel something inside myself that I haven’t felt for a long time, and it feels like peace. And every once in a while I experience a moment of connection with Aaron or the boys that feels so much deeper than my old way of living used to allow.”

As well as from Oprah’s: “The Life You Want” tour, Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about wanting to remove the word: “balance” from vocabulary. She says:

“‘With no offense to the word balance, I feel that that is a word that we have to be careful of lately because I think it’s become another tool in the arsenal that women especially are using against themselves as one more thing they’re not doing right.’ She later says: ‘let go of the word. For me, peace comes when I … embrace the beautiful mess that I am,’ she says. ‘And embrace the beautiful mess that you all are, and that this world is, and just let it be that’.”

So let’s all embrace our beautiful mess of a life. Enjoy it, soak it up. Let the dishes go, sit on your butt a bit more, have someone rub your feet, and just be you. Let go of what you did not get done today, or how much you might berate yourself for doing too much. It is what it is. Be you. Beautiful mess and all…

Happy Birthday, Penelope

My sister is having a big birthday today. It is funny when you think back to when you were a kid, milestone birthdays really mattered. When you turned 16, 18, 21, 30, 40. They do matter, and maybe they always will, but sometimes life just happens and a birthday is just another day. Maybe I feel that way because growing up birthdays and holidays were often a non-event in my life. Real life shit was happening and was often way more important than getting one year older. Due to that fact, I do not put much stock in Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and many other holidays. Often I think we wait for these Hallmark holidays and take those moments to spend time with our family, buy them gifts, or even to pay attention to them. Rather than wait for those dates on the calendar, why not make them important all the rest of the days of the year?

I digress. It is my sister’s birthday. I told you all that back story to say that while she might have too much happening in her life to worry about her birthday I want to share what she means to me.

We have been through a lot together. I will not go into detail, but we had to grow up early and fast, and that does something to a person. My sister spent her teens taking care of me and my mother, and holding my father up in life. She spent a good part of high school never sleeping through the night because my mother needed her (and I was too heavy a sleeper to know otherwise). In so many ways she was a mother before she left high school without ever giving birth. There were times during that period when we fought horribly with each other. Each trying to find our own place in a world where the adults in our life were dropping like flies. Both badly just wanting to be loved, to be held, and to know that somehow everything would turn out okay. That we would be okay. No one was there to tell us that, we only had each other.

As each adult we took care of passed away and our own adult lives began to take shape, I watched my sister become a child again (in a good way). She adventured down many different life courses learning and charting her way. Sometimes creative, others financial, and others to find the stability we did not have for many years. She continues down that path, always curious for a new and engaging endeavor, never willing to stay in something that did not nourish her soul. In addition to all her travels and professional explorations, she has explored writing personally and professionally, taught herself how to cook (we did not learn from our mother, and I still have not learned), and now she has paved the way into motherhood.

I have loved watching her this past year as a new mother. I see that she wants 100 times more for Charlie than she ever had (and I want that for Charlie too). While she is a quiet, gentle mother she is also a rock for her. In some ways I see my mom’s quiet strength come through, always wanting to teach us and understand the context behind something. I know that she will always encourage Charlie to try new adventures, be okay with her being as Punky Brewster as she wants, while also being sure she knows she is loved. As our lives have ebbed and flowed from childhood through college to adulthood, Charlie has helped to bring my sister and I even closer and make our sisterhood even stronger. Wanting to protect a little one makes love fierce and strong, and reminds you of all you already have in life.

Happy Birthday, Penelope.  You are loved, everything will be okay, and I am always here.

Show up

Do you ever think about how you walk into a room? What does your body language say about your attitude, mood, and demeanor for that meeting? Do you walk in and stay within your little bubble? Or, do you walk in with a smile, your head held high, and engage with others in the room? Do you hide and quietly hope that others do not notice you so you do not have to engage in conversation?

In a recent Daily Om, titled: “Actively Participating” an idea particularly resonated with me:

“There is almost nothing better in the world than the feeling of showing up for our own lives. When we can do this, we become people who are more alive and who have the ability to make things happen in our lives and the lives of the people around us. We walk through the world with the knowledge that we have a lot to offer and the desire to share it.”

Showing up. This is a mantra in my life. You might not have a clue about everything that is on your plate, how to make it all happen or juggle it all, but you show up. Being present means we bring it (or it should). We bring the best of ourselves to each encounter and interaction. Our best selves mean we are raw and real and truly alive.

Yesterday I met with a recent college graduate and was asked for advice of what she could do to be most successful in her budding career. My advice to her: “Be willing to do anything and everything. Say yes to everything. Learn from those around you. Innovate in everything you do in order to make all projects you touch better and better.” The result: you learn more about yourself, you gain new skills, you find out what you love, those around you trust you, and you grow each and every day.

We all have a lot to offer. Show up. Bring it. Make shit happen.

Street harassment: NYC

Cat calls, gross remarks, disrespect. Most women have had this happen at some point in their life. Sometimes it happens many, many, many times over the course of their life. Whether they are walking down a city street, going for a run, or walking into a bar they are susceptible to such shitty behavior from men. How many times I have had men make remarks to me that were disgusting, slanderous, or just downright wrong — well I could not count it on my two hands. If that is the case for me, what does that mean for countless women? Why do we put up with it?

Of course there is the fact that often we are out at night and potentially it is not safe for us to stand up for ourselves. We want to be safe and so it is easier to walk away, brush off the comments, and move on with our life. Of course there are times when a woman hears a comment from a man she walks by and she thinks: “Damn I look good today.” Most of the time though the comments are not satisfactory. They do not promote a positive outcome or a feeling of self-worth.

Take a moment to watch this YouTube video of a woman who walks in NYC for 10 hours and receives over 108 comments.

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If you are a man does it make you think about what might come out of your mouth? Does it make you want to say something to other men? To tell them to shut up and have some respect for the women in the world?

Men, keep your comments to yourself.

Aqua with gas

I have become horrendously addicted to sparkling water. I know a random thing to become addicted to, but I am. I can remember in 2001, my sister and I went on a trip to Italy. A quick side note. My sister, the amazing person that she is, decided that she would take me to Italy for my college graduation present. What a cool present from a sister, in a family with no parents. Back to the trip — I had no idea how to speak the language and figured my sister could handle that part. I was the map girl, and man was that important when we were in Venice. The only words I knew how to speak were: “Where is the bathroom.” Important, right?

Imagine sitting in a trattoria in Italy with a gorgeous waiter taking your order. You are on vacation and you have absolutely nowhere to be. It was probably the last vacation of my life (with the exception of my honeymoon) where I truly felt no stress of the workplace that I left behind (although I do remember making a long distance phone call from Venice to Boston to check in on my boss as he had asked if I would check in partway through my vacation). I guess I was just as crazy back then.

I digress. This post has only a tiny portion to do with Italy. I can remember when you would order they would ask if you wanted aqua with gas, or without. I was adamant that we had water without gas. Sparkling water, gross?! Well, I guess over time you do change. Fast forward to 2014. At some point during this year I got addicted to sparkling water. I still cannot remember when or where, but now I prefer drinking water with bubbles. We even purchased a Soda Stream last spring. We do not use any fancy flavors, but I love to come inside after a long run and gulp down a glass of cold water with bubbles. Somehow I feel like the water is just slightly different. It tastes different. It has a bit of an edge… Especially when you hold the Soda Stream button down just a little longer than you should.

Now back to a few weekends ago when Chris and I went out to dinner. We knew we would be getting sparkling water. When we ordered it I assumed we would be paying for our water. It was a nice restaurant and of course they would charge more for the bottled sparking water. When they asked right away if we wanted sparkling or still we asked for sparkling, only to find out that they bring you their own bottle of sparkling water. I am sure they have their own machine that makes sparkling water, but why not? More restaurants should make their own sparking water and stop charging customers $3-10 for a bottle. I know when I was in Shanghai I sometimes had to pay $15 USD just for a bottle of Perrier (craziness)!

Thank you, Ava Gene’s, for letting us enjoy our food, drink countless bottles of sparkling water, and never paying a cent for the bubbles. There is more in this world than price gouging over some carbonation. More places should make their own sparkling water. I would be a fan. Bring on the bubbles!