Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's On My Nightstand

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth. So this is apparently mandatory reading when you live in a house full of teenage girls. I've been zipping through this this week as per their insistence. And while it often loses me a bit, it somehow pulls me back in quickly enough to avoid abandonment. I'm very nearly finished and while the main character's just found herself in a life or death situation, my only real fear is what will happen when I turn the last page... It was the quietest girl in the house that handed this to me and it's literally all we talk about. What will we talk about now?!
  • Hilton Head postcards. I'm slowly but surely mailing these suckers out. The scene on this one in particular? That's my daily commute now. I. love. Spanish. moss.
  • Zucchini Brownie. Hey, if I have to hide vegetables in desserts to sneak these kids their daily serving, I'm going to do it! I know it sounds odd, but these. are. divine. They are so chocolatey, my girls asked if I'd added Nutella to them. Ha! You will never know!!! Just kidding. I am an open (cook) book. And while the boys turned up their noses at first, I can tell you now that half the pan was gone in 30 minutes flat. They weren't the prettiest things to look at since I had to spread the stubborn icing with my fingers *cough*, but who cares when they taste this good? Zucchini brownies! Who knew, right?!
  • Leaves mini candles from Bath & Body Works. Ughhhh!!!!! Just give me all the fall scented candles! Sure, these only wound up on my nightstand on their way to the bathtub, but... boy, do they smell good! Pumpkin shmumpkin! 

The new hand-me-down nightstand is a bit hard to photograph being an oval and all, but... I don't know, I kind of like it! My other one is in complete disarray as is the rest of my room, which is slowly but surely coming together. Hopefully I can share it with you sometime soon! But anyway, it's been such a long time, tell me what's on your nightstand these days! 

Need a lullaby tonight? I've had a couple dozen in rotation this week- all these worn ballads just fit so well with the seaside- but the standout has to be Matt Corby's "Resolution." How is his voice even real in this song? Ugh. Stop... Don't ever stop. 

Sweet dreams, moonbeams!

P.S. Ah! It feels so good to write these posts again!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lizard! LIZARD! Sloth! SLOTH!

Warning: this might just be the most incoherent babble you've heard all day.

I try not to throw the word hate around too much lest it lose its poignancy, but I hate lizards. HATE. What you call irrational fear, I call perfectly justifiable SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER WHILE STANDING ON THE KITCHEN TABLE. Living on an island, there are all kinds of slithery creatures that I inevitably come face to face with on a daily basis. It's pretty gross.

This weekend, I was rolling the trash can back up to the side of the house, when I stopped three feet away from the gate. Just a sudden *gasp*/*HALT* moment. Something felt horribly wrong in the universe. Had I left a teenager somewhere? Had I stepped outside without any clothes on? No. There was a lizard on the gate latch. A lizard. A! LIZ! ARD! It was hiding on the side of the handle closest to the gate, but I saw its creepy-crawly little feetsies peeking around the edges. But then, the green little demon creature pulled itself around and actually turned its head to look at me with its beady little demon eyes. Oh it was disgusting! It was so so horrible! It saw straight through to my lizard-hating soul and made my insides burn with images of all the wretched things it was going to do to my house as payback. Needless to say, I ran away with the speed of an antelope with a pack of lions at its heels and abandoned the trash can for a few hours till it felt safe again.

I know this is a weird analogy, but just bear with me here... There's a lot going on in my life. Good, bad, ugly, just... a lot. And it's mostly good, I've got to say! But wrangling ten teenagers takes it out of me. I'm exhausted all the time and when I'm exhausted, I tend to get sloppy. Like maybe my first reaction when plans change is a negative thought. Or a kid will say something rude and instead of thinking, 'He's 14, he doesn't know what he's saying!' I find myself crying in my room. This is what last week looked like. Just a whole lot of feeling tired, overwhelmed, challenged, and, I hate to say it, but bitter. I'm not proud of it.

So when they were all off at a tournament this weekend, right after I'd stared down a green stealth monster from the pits of Hell, I had a thought... Why have all these mishaps and misunderstandings seemed so bad? So omnipresent? And I realized... I was allowing them to be a metaphorical lizard in my life. I let the dread seep in so deep that I was hypersensitive to it, maybe even looking for it even if I didn't have that feeling that something was about to go wrong. How messed up is that? Fearing hiccups and a smart-mouthed jumble of raging hormones is no way to live.


I'm not going to beat myself up about it, but I am going to do something about it. And I'm starting with, why don't you start looking at the good things like a "good lizard"? But since there's no such thing as a good lizard, let's go with... a sloth. Like a magical sloth! Just like I have an irrational fear of lizards, I have an equally irrational love for sloths. Which came looooong before Kristen Bell took all the sloth-loving credit in this world, mmmk? GOSH. But back to the sloths... Man oh man do I love them! I like to think that if I was anywhere near a sloth, I would just feel it! So that's what I'm doing. I'm looking for sloths instead of lizards. I'm making time for sloths (bubble baths), I've got my eyes peeled for sloths (tirelessly happy dogs on the beach), I'm anticipating sloths (homemade frappuccinos with Ali), I'm hoping for sloths (impromptu One Direction dance parties in the car with my girlies), I'm starting to do more and more sloth things to keep me nice and rested and sloth-y. And maybe I'm just going to start being somebody's sloth. I'm going to be someone you can count for a little bit of sloth; a compliment, a cookie, a hug, a listening ear, whatever it is. I want the people in my life to feel like I'm there for them even if it's just in spirit, anticipating their needs, wishing good things for them for them before they even tell me what's going on their life. 

What I'm very inarticulately trying to get at is... what if we started living like the trees bordering this road called Life were full of sloths instead of lizards? What would that kind of living look like?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I was listening to Rick Steves...

So those little things I was telling you about? Well one of them is "Travel with Rick Steves," which is a radio show I discovered a few weeks ago as I was driving around listening to NPR. Of course, the name Rick Steves is one I'm quite familiar with, but I never knew he had a show. Lo and behold, I stumbled across it and he and some guests were discussing artwork in Ireland. Hello! I love Ireland. I was instantly hooked. I groaned pulling up to the house; I didn't want it to be over. So I ran inside and discovered that you can download all his shows in podcast format on iTunes. Hallelujah!

Not only does he have interesting guests discussing interesting places (three topics per episode), but every time I listen to it, I'm reminded of someone in my life. Some of my best travel memories and dreams have special people attached to them and I always find myself writing little notes to the people I'm reminded of after listening. I think that's what sets this show apart. Listening to it is such a treat. Honestly, I can't recommend it highly enough; I'm riveted every episode for more reasons than I can count.

So when my family came to visit this weekend, 50% of what came out of my mouth started with, "I was listening to Rick Steves..." It's got all my creative juices flowing whether it's mentally planning out a future trip thanks to wanderlust or finding story inspiration in the charming tales of B&Bs related by listeners calling in. In short, it has me thinking of things other than tennis and hormonal teenagers. It's an escape. Don't you just love those? Things that remind you of what you have an appetite for?

One from the archives! Here we are on some cliffside village in the South of France wayyyy back in 2007.

As you all know, my best friend Ali lives just down the road from me. Adventurous, quirky, bold, and brilliant, she's always on the same page as me and is, thus, my travel buddy of choice. Together, there's no stone we'll leave unturned i.e. no awkward experience to be shied away from. I distinctly remember chasing after her down the streets of Paris as she chased after American tourists, trying to find out where they'd gotten their pizza. They ran away from us very fast, thinking we were gypsies. I mean... because of course they did! Even a humbling lesson on how to order our first adult drinks in a cramped bar in Edinburgh was the stuff of legend. It's ridiculous mishaps like these that make us roar with laughter as much now as they did then so great. And she and I have a little travel-related project tucked up our sleeve that I hope very much to be sharing here soon. A creative outlet! I can't tell you how excited I am!

So thank you, Rick Steves, for a little shove in the right direction! But man oh man... what do I do with all this wanderlust?!

P.S. Let me know if you give the podcast a listen!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

les petites choses

Well! Needless to say I have not yet perfected this juggling act. Me time? What's that? It sounds positively delightful! If I can steal an hour- nay! five minutes away for myself, I consider it a triumph. Exhausting as all that may be, I have come to savor these stolen moments even more. The little things are so much sweeter to me now. 

The little things I love most all seem to start and end at the beach, or rather, the ocean. I like to stand there, take out my headphones, and just look out and feel small and big all at once.

If it's a day where I've guzzled down three cups of coffee to no desired effect, the waves crashing at my feet rejuvenate me like some fountain on youth. More and more, I'm trying to incorporate this into my daily routine whether it's quiet time, my morning run, or a nice long walk with my best friend. I love it there. I love it, love it, love it. Ah! Just leave me there, will you? I want more evenings that look like this...


Other than that it's getting library cards, making up frappuccino recipes with Ali, squeezing in a classic film, fro-yo runs with the girls, the boys asking for advice or how my day went, new Coldplay songs, Skype dates, and peanut butter. And so I'm magnifying all these tiny little things so I don't fall under the weight of all the big things. Some days even positivity takes an enormous amount of effort and energy, though, so wish me luck with those silver linings!