The calm after the storm

It's been exactly a week since we moved out of the city. And I am tired. Everyone keeps asking me, "So how is it?" and I can't really answer because I have been swallowed up whole with boxes and unpacking and re-organizing and figuring out where it is all supposed to go.

In less than 3 weeks who have gone from owners to renters, city dwellers to semi-suburbanites, one bedroom to four, and sleeping in the living room to having our own room. So, its been quite the change or maybe I should say it still is quite the change.

In one day, we moved a heck of a lot of stuff for two people who think they live with very little. And for 2 days, it was utter chaos. But that chaos was okay. Its this drawn out scatteredness and mess that is undoing me.

I find myself frantically wanting to make order and have everything sorted out yesterday. I have moved many times in my life and I was always the person to stay up and just get it all done - so that within 2-3 days of moving everything was in its place. I was content and life could just keep going. But I have never moved as a wife and as a mother and that old habit just doesn't work anymore - and my inability to be overly capable and organized is causing me more trouble and grief, every minute that things aren't the way I want them to be.

So I am struggling to keep it together and can see how my tendency towards being a bit compulsive about my living spaces (to put it gently) is causing this change and transition to be even more stressful than it already is or has to be. Being aware of how I am feeling and what my tendency is a great step in the right direction, but oooh, this is just tough. I just want a day - one full day without a baby and maybe even without a husband and without any other duties but to get things in order, my way.

And what's tougher is that my husband generously invited our first "guests" over tomorrow and though I want to be the totally cool and laid back wife who can accept everything just the way it is and be extremely pleased that the house already looks the way it does only after 7 days, I am not. I don't feel proud yet and I don't feel guest ready and I certainly don't feel like a hostess.

But instead of being upset, I will make this a lesson in non-attachment. A lesson, to in fact, accept everything exactly as it is. And what is is this:

1. We moved 7 days ago
2. We have a 13 month old baby who is curious, clever, fast and gets into everything making everything I do take 5x longer
3. 90% of the boxes we packed are empty
4. The house looks fine, just the way it is

So instead of spending the remaining waking hours tonight on cleaning something else up or re-hanging the curtain rods, I am going to keep browsing through my favorite blogs for the posts that I missed in the last two weeks and focus on breathing, accepting, smiling and being okay with things exactly as they are.


A slow leak

First I moved to this new blog name. Now we're moving, for real.

Me and Mr. Maus and the nugget are leaving the city and heading across the Golden Gate. We are headed to warmer weather, more space, a back-yard, a deck, a fireplace, two bathrooms, a washer and dryer and a master bedroom. Luxury it is not, for the little rental house that we found is quirky and old and may even be described by some as odd, but it fits. It fits us.

We've lived quite a life in these 700sq ft and it is a bittersweet transition to move out of the city and out of this apartment. It has taken me nearly 4 years to feel like this place is home, so it is somewhat ironic to be leaving it now. But we don't fit and as much as we know that you don't need 4 bedrooms to make us happy and that much of the world lives together in spaces smaller than ours, our life simply doesn't fit into a one-bedroom apartment anymore.

I have shed some tears and had some extreme feelings of overwhelm, but now there is a peace about this whole process. It is the peace that comes with having made a decision. And so one box and drawer and corner at a time, I am packing it all up.

Moving is one of the seven major life transitions that can cause extra stress and despair and heartache. I suppose that comes from feeling uprooted and disconnected and disorganized and weighed down by the immensity of one's possessions. I have been trying to be mindful about what moving really is - at the end of the day its just movement from one place to another. It is change. This awareness has allowed me to feel almost comfortable in the uprootedness and attentive to how it must feel to the nugget whose external world is changing one Uhaul box at a time.

I was expecting chaos and perhaps that will still come but it feels more gradual and calm than I had expected. My brother asked me if the tornado had started this morning and it made me stop to think. I replied, "No, its more like a slow leak."


Perfectly imperfect

{from maus + nugget...one of my final posts there}

One of the greatest lessons of motherhood is learning non-attachment.

Non-attachment to schedules and things how they used to be, non-attachment to being on time or keeping commitments, non-attachment to how things should be.

Many months ago I committed to reading one chapter of Momma Zen every Sunday. I figured with chapters that are sometimes only a few pages long, this would be more than doable. But here I am, months later, and I am still only on Chapter 6. 4 pages in 4 months - that is almost laughable. No, it is simply motherhood.

But it is Sunday and I have read my chapter (for the 2nd time) and this one is important. They are all important, but this is really important because its about making making mistakes.

I have always wanted to do things right - who doesn't? But it is one thing to do things right for yourself, it is a whole other animal to do things right for your baby. And it starts with pre-natal vitamins and perhaps ends never. And with all the information and with all the choices, we think that if we do enough research, ask the right questions and make the right decisions, we will do what is right and perfect for our babies.

Until we make a mistake. Until they fall down the stairs because we left the gate open. Until they cry because the bite of sweet potato we gave was too hot. Until we lock them in the car with the motor running because we are doing too many things as the same time.

And so I made mistakes. I probably made a lot of them as a new mom. And I may never know the consequences of those mistakes, but I have to trust that they are as much a part of the nugget's learning experiences as my triumphs. I am not a perfect mom or wife or friend or daughter or sister and hopefully I can accept the imperfections of those around me. Karen Maezen Miller writes, "Practice acceptance on yourself so that you can be kinder to your child." Isn't that what we want, to be kind to our children? And yes, it begins with accepting ourselves, all parts of ourselves - the parts that we love and the parts that we wish could be different. The parts that take 4 months to read 4 pages and the parts that say one thing and do another.

Practice acceptance for all that is, exactly the way it is.



It's Friday night - the two men in my life are both passed out. The kitchen is a mess and my to-do list is sort of out of control but it is time to press pause.

It has been a whirlwind week of decisions and tax paying and adult conversations that are so totally not fun and I realized how mostly checked out I was for most of it. And I was so checked out because for several weeks I have not gotten to the pillow to sit and be still and I have not stopped for even five minutes to catch my breath.

The result? Sadness, mild depression, overwhelm and that pressing feeling in my whole body that the world is just too much. And then when that happens, I am not a good mom, a good wife, a good friend or a good me. And then all these precious and delightful moments pass by me and I can't even see them.

And when you have a little 12+ month old baby, every day there is something new and magical and changing and I don't want to be so checked out that I miss any of it. And that is when I found this picture...this picture of the nugget's hands when he was just a few weeks old. I love these hands. I can't get enough of these hands. These hands that now hold and explore and touch anything and everything as if it was the first time.

So tonight I will pause.

And think about those hands.

And know that everything is exactly as it should be.


Happy Tax Day

A prospective client of my husband's gave us this gift when he heard I was pregnant. Clever, being that he is a CPA. Its usually the onesie at the bottom of the pile that reminds that it is way past time to do laundry - but somehow today, it is totally relevant.



from Organic Style magazine, no longer in print

"If your life is in harmony..then your life is full and good, but not overcrowded. If it is overcrowded, you are doing more than is right for you, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things" - Peace Pilgrim, Activist

{Written in 2008. Just found this post that I never published. Funny how we find things when we need to.}

There is work that gives more energy and there is work that strips you of vital life energy - and making the distinction is key to the health of your body, mind and spirit. Full schedules are not the problem - pushing yourself beyond your limits is. So again, know yourself - know what you are capable of and where you are pushing too far, too hard and too much.

For me, it is the simple and extremely difficult path of learning to say "No". My natural inclination is to say "Yes" without even thinking about it - and then feeling overwhelmed and overloaded when I am over-committed. So, I am practicing with little triumphs - saying "no" to little requests for my time and energy.

As I get clear about my "work in the total scheme of things", it gets easier to say no - to events, tasks, jobs, opportunities and things that do not serve my greater purpose and life mission. And all of a sudden my calendar is no longer overcrowded, though it is still full.

So I urge you - look at your days and see where you too can pause and make some space.


Heading north

It's official - we are moving. We are moving to Mill Valley. We are moving in two weeks.

Part of the the relief I felt when I learned that our house offer had not been chosen was due to one very big unknown: will we like living in Mill Valley?

My gut says that warmer weather, more space, more green and more families can't be bad, but what if we don't have the same values as our neighbors? What if we really miss the energy and forward thinking that comes with living in the city? What if the commute is intolerable for my husband and drastically reduces the amount of time we have together? What if we just hate it?

These are big what-ifs and our solution to the what-ifs is to become renters again. And that is exactly what we have done. We found a little house with a lot of character and a lot of room, a small back-yard, two bathrooms and a porch right outside the kitchen door. Its quirky and perhaps a bit odd, but its us and hopefully when I get over the "oh my god there is so much to do", I will feel excited about this change.

For now, this citymaus is going north and moving to the country - even if it's just 25 minutes from where we are now.

Stay tuned...I will keep you posted.


Birthday redeemed

Here is how you make-up for a not so great birthday:

1. Hire babysitter for 4 hours during the day on a Friday
2. Vow to not do any work during those 4 hours or do anything on your to-do list
3. Find free parking on the street, which rarely happens in San Francisco
4. Arrive at Kabuki a few minutes before 10am to avoid the waiting list
5. Get crazy and ask for a last minute 30-minute massage appointment
6. Book that appointment without second thoughts
7. Find your locker and turn cell phone to off
8. Get to the bathing area and just be for 30 minutes
9. Have a 30-minute totally divinely amazing fantastic massage
10. Spend 40 more minutes in the bathing area without looking at the clock

Loosy, goosy and feeling good, I meandered into my favorite Japanese grocery store before heading to the car. With a California sushi hand-roll and a bottle of Milk Tea in hand, I crossed the street, found a ledge next to the sidewalk to sit on, let the sun stream down onto my face and slowly savored every bite as I watched the world pass by.

And that is how you redeem a birthday.


The wait is over and mostly I just feel relief.

The right house is still out there and when we are really ready, it will be there.


Mourning Domino

It happened again - this time it didn't even make it up to our apartment.

For months, I have been mourning the loss of Domino. Please don't laugh or take me any less seriously when you realize that I am in fact talking about a home design magazine, or more accurately the former home design magazine. This is where you see that I am equally passionate about beautiful things and spaces and craftiness as I am about sitting in silent meditation and learning to live in the present moment.

Domino was different - it was clever and accessible and quirky and fun. It spoke my language, talked about my kind of people and shared inspirational images of spaces that I would want to live in. And though the world of design blogs now fills a bit of the void with thousands of design inspirations and suggestions, what is missing is the experience of the turned page. Whenever I opened our mailbox and saw the plastic wrapped treasure amidst the sea of advertisements and bills, I knew that later that evening I would get to sit in my favorite chair, drink my favorite tea and journey into the pages of this printed world of beautiful things. Guess you could call it a creative pause.

And then, just like that, it ended because apparently someone had misjudged the demographic that so piously followed Domino and so it ended. Just like that. After the initial shock subsided and I allowed myself a bit of disappointment, I was able to detach myself and simply accept that all things come to an end at some point and that change is inevitable. So I moved on. Until the first Glamour arrived and it all bubbled to the surface.

I will apologize in advance if you are loyal to Glamour magazine. Please keep reading and enjoying it. When the first one arrived as a replacement for the remainder of my Domino subscription, I figured I would try my old ritual. But with every turn of the page, I grew more disappointed and dissatisfied. "How could they pick this crap as the replacement?" were the words that raged in my head.

For months, I have kept giving it another try. Kept schlepping the magazine upstairs though my ritual grew shorter and shorter and slowly faded completely. And then today, when I opened the mailbox and saw it yet again poking over the other recyclable advertisements, I just made the decision to stop the how-could-they-send-this-instead chatter and dumped it straight into the recycling bin. And can I tell, that simple little gesture stopped a flood of negative and distracting mumbo jumbo in my already chatter filled head.


Making an offer

There was nothing mindful about the last few days.

I felt like I was hovering a few inches from the ground, in this mad frenzy to get it all done - the "it" of making an offer on a house when your tax returns aren't done, your finances are not in complete order and you have no idea if the bank even wants to give you enough money to make it all possible.

So for three days we scrambled and typed and organized and typed some more and categorized receipts and made spreadsheets and input numbers and ran reports. And by 2pm today, more miracles have happened than I could have ever imagined. Tax returns are complete, pre-authorization letters are emailed and an offer is on the table.

And now we wait.


Born today

Today is my birthday and it doesn't feel like it. I got all kinds of calls and emails and messages on Facebook with people hoping that I was doing something special or doing something relaxing or doing something really nice for myself. But I wasn't - I was scrambling to get a year's worth of expenses and income to the CPA so that she could do our taxes so that we could get a pre-authorization letter.

So it's not a birthday that will go down as one of the best, but it may go down as one of the most memorable. Because though it wasn't relaxing, it was full of movement and energy and hope and excitement. And really, a birthday is about celebrating being alive and today, I certainly felt that.


home inspiration {christie brinkley}

Sometimes people's homes surprise me. I never really thought about what kind of home Christy Brinkley would live in or that it would be something that made me swoon.

So I did some snooping and of course it turns out that she had the help of a stylist and of course now I can say that I adore the work of Kim Ficaro. Its eclectic and earthy and elegant and lived in and loved. Pretty much fits into my modern rustic label, if I am allowed to create my own style category.


Making it a movie

There are experiences that change your life. There are travels that change your life. There are people that change your life. Their are circumstances that change your life. And sometimes there are books that change your life.

Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat.Pray.Love appeared in my life at exactly the right moment and at exactly the right time. I laughed, I wept, I lamented, I pondered, I dreamed and I realized how utter complex and complicated this thing called life is and that that is indeed the only truth we ever have to learn. It's how we learn to deal and handle that complexity that is indeed the purpose of the human experience.

And sometimes handling it means falling apart on the bathroom floor and other times it means walking with divine grace and dignity. And that is what Ms. Gilbert's book did for me. It reminded me that spiritual practice at an ashram in India and twirling pasta under the moonlight in Italy are two sides of the same coin - they are not separate, ever.

And now, this book is being Hollywooded. And first I wanted to cry because my experience with this book was so embodied due in part from my own travels to Italy and Bali (India will happen at sometime), that I didn't want any of that to be squashed by the picture perfect images that come from a motion picture. But then I saw that Julia Roberts is playing the lead and my heart softened, just a little. I don't know her, but I think she is the real thing, as authentic as a person whose life is so surreal can get. And so, when I saw the image of her riding through the rice fields of Ubud, I just smiled.

Because at the end of the day, young or old, famous or not, this book is about being real, being authentic, loosing yourself, finding yourself and having the ability to laugh about it all and in the end, eat the big bowl of pasta.