As I think about the things I want Nico to know and truly understand deep inside, it is to see and be seen. I believe it encapsulates most of what everyone really wants. I have an idea for a tattoo on my wrist and I just might one day get off my ass and get it. Is it possible to do without needles? It would say: listen. It is a reminder for me to truly listen to others (undistracted) and for me to demand that others do the same for me.
I am currently reading an interesting book, called “The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker. It has given me so much inspiration in my corporate and personal life about how we approach time together, how we respect and appreciate others’ time, and how to pull off the best of gatherings. Less Martha Stewart style that errs on the side of the perfect place setting and more pondering the lead up to the event, how do you connect with your guests before hand, and how do you truly pull off a successful time by planning an experience and not just a conference, meeting, dinner, etc.
A page I read over the weekend said:
“A good life is about seeing and being seen.” page 199
It sent my mind wandering to how many times I have felt that. How often do you go to someone’s house and feel odd because the hosts do not really find a way to weave together why they are having people over, and why they have selected those they have brought into their home? It also brings fresh memories of wonky corporate gatherings where individuals are disconnected, uncomfortable, and uninterested to mingle but required to hang together.
I have not finished the book, but am inspired to bring the ideas Parker shares to fruition in my life. To create a meeting that has purpose and desired outcome and the attendees know why they are there and leave inspired with a plan and next steps. To think about my dinner parties and how the individuals that come into our home feel the energy of what we want to share with them. I encourage you to pick up her book. There are some slow spots, but all in all I have some new ideas of how I will engage differently with others I meet with — more aware of the outcomes I want, and more focused on the individual. If we each remember that just as we want to be seen, we remember to see others.
Chris and I are minimalists. We only want to have the bare necessities around. Now that does not mean the items in our home are not nice. Everything is very specifically chosen, but as minimalists we only have what we need, cherish, and truly want around. We are the opposite of packrats and hoarders. I just finished reading: “After a While You Just Get Used to It: A Tale of Family Clutter” by Gwendolyn Knapp — which made me think of my own childhood.
Knapp is very descriptive about her mom’s home, but in a nice way. You get the point that her mom is a hoarder. It is funny how you do not really know the world you live in until sometimes you are far away from it. Growing up I do not remember our house having a lot of crap in it. We did not have nice things, but there was not crap every where. The couch we had was gross, had many holes (thanks to the dogs), and was not what you would think of if you were looking at a couch. My mom would cover it with sheets, mostly because she did not want anyone to see what it really looked like.
We were not hoarders, but I think looking back that my dad was a packrat. If you came into our house you would not see it. He kept it in his “office.” He had an office in the upstairs of our house. It was his area, and there were lots of papers. He kept everything. He also had an office/garage of sorts for his flailing business. There his packrat tendencies were with “tools.” My dad was a contractor. He had 100’s of every type of tool, and always found a reason he needed another. His garage was filled with money in the form of tools — money that should have been used to buy food to feed his family. Alas.
I remember when he passed on and we had to go through his possessions. We filled storage units that equaled the size of a two-car garage. This was not for furniture or clothes or belongings. It was for his tools and files. We took inventory of everything and had to go through it all. Sadly, most of it went into a dumpster (the files) and the tools given away or sold. There wasn’t anything that amounted to much. Sharing all of this brings me back to the point of: What do we keep and why do we keep it?
Chris and I have carefully selected the items in our home, we discuss together the merits of keeping or getting rid of things. We think through “why” we are keeping something. Does it have meaning? In a time where people want to feel like they belong, do you think that people use stuff to find meaning in their lives? That maybe surrounding themselves with things (whether trivial or meaningful) helps them feel less lonely and that they have more in their life? I often wonder that about my dad. What did all that stuff mean to him? I would rather hold the memories inside, and get the clutter out of my life.
It is hard to believe that we have lived in Portland for 12 years. Before moving out here we lived in Boston, and the last place we lived was in a small town on the outskirts of Boston called Lexington. Compared to anything in Portland, it is old. It was a town involved in the Revolutionary War, and where the Battle of Lexington was fought. That, however, is just a bit of history. We rented the first story of a large house, and 5 women rented the upstairs of the house. Next door, was a farm called Wilson Farms. Next to our house was one of their fields and on the other end of the field was their farm store.
We spent quite a bit of $$$ — as it was so easy, convenient, and of course tasty. In the fall and winter they would have piping hot apple cider donuts and some prepackaged to take home. I think that was probably Chris’ favorite part of living right next door. I loved them too – but what I miss most was the tulips that were the size of my hand. When I recently found this recipe for Apple Cider Mini Muffins I knew we had to try. A bit of Wilson Farms nostalgia. And…they were so good!
Baked Apple Cider Mini Muffins
2 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
⅔ cup brown sugar
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup apple cider
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar
In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl whisk together the egg, melted butter, and brown sugar. Then add the buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla, and apple cider.
Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk together just until combined.
Pour the batter into lightly sprayed mini muffin tins. Fill each muffin ¾ full. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
While the muffins are baking melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. In another bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon together.
When the muffins come out of the oven dip the top of each into the melted butter, then dip into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.
Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.
I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.
Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.
Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.