I had such dreams for this solo period: the boys would head out and I would have two glorious weeks of freedom before my start date at the new job. Happily, most of that vision has come to fruition; I have spent a great deal of time wandering through the city, at my leisure, seeing many of the places I wanted to see. I've camped out at some beautiful coffeehouses and tap, tap, tapped away at the keyboard. 

Last Thursday I stumbled upon the perfect combination of caffeine, good music, and natural light at a new-to-me coffee shop, and cranked out five whole posts + edited tons of photos. It was amazing! I was astounded! (Who is this productive creature?!, said I.) Only, it wasn't for this space. Boo + hiss.

I'm proud to say I got the ball rolling on my new blog. All those photos and thoughts about the wonderful coffee + craft culture Portland nurtures were bursting at the seams. So I finally started writing them down. I haven't perfected the site, nor do I have a completely clear picture of where it will go (who does when they start these kinds of things, really), but I'm really enjoying the writing process. I write about my life in that space as well, as each post contains a personal anecdote, but it's different. Less mommy angst and more This place makes me think of a time when...; though I've found the transition between writing for this space and writing for that one difficult. I can be productive at one, but switching gears abruptly leaves me staring at my empty latte mug for extended periods. Like most things in my life, I'm going to have to be more deliberate with my time by carving out specific periods for each. (Especially once I add a 40-hour work week into the mix.) The two spaces have separate intentions, and I want to preserve those boundaries (i.e. this stays a personal blog and that stays a Portland blog).

I'm really enjoying this bout of creativity: I have rediscovered the joy writing brings me, and the process feels much less forced than it has been over the past six months. I have always extracted great pleasure from photographing cool places, even if only via iPhone, and getting to combine that with my other form of expression, writing, is pretty fabulous.

I got real nerdy about the whole thing, and recently constructed a map in Google Drive that has all the places I still want to explore. Last night I took it a step further and made separate maps for restaurants and coffee shops. Because the sheer number of establishments I still haven't visited is astounding and all the little tabs turned into one giant, colorful blob. (I could write a Portland blog until the end of time, it would seem.) On those mornings when I wake with wanderlust, I can cue up a map and head out. Then I photograph, make mental considerations and observations, and add it to the queue. It's rather fun and I feel like a travel journalist. Though I don't get paid and, now that I think about it, this venture actually puts me in the red. Gourmet coffee doesn't grow on trees, you know. (Well, um, technically it does. But you're picking up what I'm putting down.)

The one thing I have established is the format: feature one Portland-specific place, five days a week. (Portland-A-Day, like the calendars you peel away each morning to discover a new fact, word, photo, etc.) It sounds like a lot... a 5 day/week blogging commitment. Only, it's a little different from a blog post I'd write here; it comes with a topic and a finite number of things I can say about it. They have a certain flow to them that I don't find here, talking about some aspect of my life from scratch. I'll probably also feature other places I love throughout the Pacific Northwest on occasion, and Portland-made brands that inspire me. So that's that. (In case you were wondering. No? Okay.)

Anyway, enough gushing. It's all rather self-indulgent of me. But so is blogging. This little venture of mine, though it has taken me away from this space for the past week or two, is a really joyous thing. It will just require a little balancing act on occasion. (Kind of like running two separate IG accounts. Not the for faint of heart, I tell you.) (What did I get myself into? I barely tolerate one social media account most days.)

If you are so inclined, here are some links to the new blog:

Tomorrow? Tomorrow we catch up. Because I know you've been dying to know what I've been up to. (Besides what I just told you I've been up to.)

Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, June 29, 2015

Yesterday I hit the one week mark since beginning my solo stretch of summer. As the boys drove away, and in the days following, I scarcely knew what to do with myself. How did I want to fill my days, now they that were my very own? What do I want to accomplish before work begins dictating my days off?

By Monday I had settled into my skin quite nicely and began to properly embrace freedom. I have come to realize how readily and automatically I run all things I'm considering through a series of filters. For instance, traffic patterns influenced where I went and when, which in turn dictated whether or not I could be home before Kiddo's school let out. Which often meant forgoing what I had wanted to do. And there is Mario's work schedule to consider. And dinner to put on the table. Oh! And we need x, y and z from the store. These are all normal occurrences, and very much come with having a family. I love that facet of my life, it's an honor to take care of those boys of mine, but I also really like this other way of living I've been introduced to over the last week. I've had ice cream before dinner, wandered around aimlessly rather than face rush hour traffic, explored the city, and given my camera more attention than it's received in months. Life is good.

In the absence of all of that obligation comes a very pleasant, albeit foreign, sense of independence. I'm tickled pink by the fact that I can come and go as I please. (Though trust me when I tell you there have been quite a few I wish Mario and Jared were here! pangs along the way.) I'm getting a rare glimpse into my future once Kiddo goes off to college. How my twenties would have been, had I postponed family life. (No regrets there.)

As I've mentioned, I'm slated to begin working on July 7. The boys won't be home until early August, so I had my heart set on a quick trip up to my in-laws' lake house for the 4th. Unfortunately, the small town we lived in in New Hampshire has been slow to respond to the hospital's background check inquiry. So although everything else is in order, the process has stalled. Which makes my reunion with the boys less likely with each passing day. Though sad, my gratitude for this exceptional work opportunity trumps all else.

I like to think I'm a fully functioning adult: I cook meals, do laundry, shop, mow the yard, and conduct all the other business we must do in order to keep a household running. Only, I haven't figured out how to take care of only myself. The other day, after submitting my I-9 to the hospital HR department, I ran into a nearby market to stock the fridge. A half hour later, my cart contained a 6-pack of hard cider, two cans of coconut milk, corn nuts, and fried fava beans (which are quite dry and, well, fava bean-like).  Chipotle came to my rescue that night. I've started to find my groove in this regard as well, as the last two nights have featured real food. Not in foil wrapper, either. And they required the use of dishes and proper silverware. And contained roughage beyond a sprinkling of iceberg lettuce. (Which I think is the same as water, nutritionally speaking.) It's funny: we are often better able to care for others than we can ourselves.

This is a good moment in time. Calm. Happy. Blissful. I'm thankful to have it on the eve of an exciting, life-changing time. We are moving into a new era; an era where my educational goals feel within my grasp. Where Kiddo is well into high school. (Welp.) Change is good and nerve-wracking and signals forward movement.

But for now, it's me time.

The Single Life

Friday, June 26, 2015

The house is very quiet. Which is not unusual for midday on a Friday. But come 5 o'clock, it's still going to be that quiet. Unusually quiet. Blissfully quiet. Yesterday afternoon, suitcases, snacks and yard games were loaded into Mario's car. There were goodbye hugs all around and waving until they turned the corner and out sight. It's just me and our Little Lion Man for the duration.

I've been looking forward to having our own separate plans for the first part of this summer. If I'm honest, a couple times I've anxiously awaited the solitude, wholeheartedly embracing the idea of a break from the needs of others, but now that it's here I find myself missing their faces. Not in a sad way, but in a gosh, I really, really like those stinkers kind of way. 

I think most moms wish for an extended break now and again. Being a mom is hard, yo. I think I'm pretty forthcoming with my feelings, but even I have trouble admitting I sometimes fantasize about being unattached. Like maybe I'll be judged (or judge myself) for wanting something other than what I have. Oh no, what if my sensitivity chip is broken! The fact is, dreaming of a life outside of the home in no way indicates a lack of gratitude. It's okay to admit that one does not always derive personal fulfillment from being a wife and mother. Self-imposed expectations + society can do a number on us, and certain things become harder to express than they should be. (The Mommy Blog culture doesn't help much, either. But that's a post in and of itself.) I wish that weren't true.

Fortunately, I'm not a person who craves the company of others very often. (Having the boys in my life is a happy bonus; they are certainly the exception.) I don't mind going to the movies or eating out on my own. Although I will have moments of loneliness over the next five weeks, I'm sure, this hiatus from motherhood and wifehood is really healthy for me. 

It's also the perfect time to start my new job: by the time they come back I will be well into my training and have a clearer picture of what my days + shifts will be like. Adapting to life back at work in their absence will mean less of an adjustment period upon their return. Instead of arranging activities to fill his days while I'm at work, Kiddo will have acres and acres of ranch land as his playground (plus cows to feed, dogs to run around with, and grandparents to spoil him rotten). Grandpa will continue to teach him the ways of a manual transmission and the complex world of crop irrigation. Grandma will spend hours swimming with him in the lake. He and Mario will have some rare and beautiful father-son time while connecting with nature. I'm so excited for them. 

We are all where we need to be, doing what we need to be doing right now. Which means we can't all be together this summer. And that's okay. Experiencing the joys of life in the absence of each other only serves to make us closer: it gives us the perspective necessary to appreciate those amazing qualities we each possess as individuals, outside the collective Us. Those qualities that drew us to each other and contribute to the family unit in unique and wonderful ways. I can't wait to hear all about their adventures, and to tell them mine.

At home we often fall into the 
How was your day? 

It will be nice to shake things up in the way long-distance relationships force you to do. You must communicate and share and show each other how much you care using words. You don't tend to take their presence in your life for granted when you are no longer sharing a bedroom or driving them to school each morning. Those stolen little moments are often the most magical. Dare I say, I may start to actually miss those things I used to perceive as a drag...inconveniences of marriage and motherhood which, deep down, I am quite fond of after all.

Twenty-four hours in and I've become quite nostalgic, no? But I'm also excited as can be.

I can eat whatever I want, when I want to. (Cheese and crackers for dinner at 9p and no one to stop me!)

I can do whatever I want on the weekends because I don't have to consider anyone else's input. (I can visit every store with succulents and garden gnomes in the greater Portland area!)

I can work nights and weekends and not suffer from Mom Guilt (such a terrible, heart-wrenching affliction!).

I can stay at a coffee shop until closing time because no one is waiting for a ride, there is no homework, and dinner doesn't have to be made (see above). Alternately, I can stay at home all day in my pajamas and binge-watch House of Cards on Netflix without feeling like a lazy slob. (I doubt the latter will happen, but I'm liberated just knowing it can.)

I can stay up until midnight devouring a book without worrying I'll keep Mario up all night with my reading lamp or feeling sleep-deprived come 5:45a when the school day alarm goes off. (I can burn the candle at both ends, dang it! Though I'll quickly learn I'm no longer in my twenties, I'm sure.)

I can pee with the door open! (Nah.)

I know I'm missing five million other things that a responsible domestic goddess cannot do with abandon in real life. 

Feel free to contribute to the list.

Quiet Time.

Friday, June 19, 2015

I was born in San Diego, and spent a good portion of my younger years soaking up the SoCal sun. I'm a California girl through and through. And while I've lived and loved lot of different places, I feel very much myself when I go back for a visit. Like time has preserved all the good bits.

Even when years pass between visits, I reacclimate rather seamlessly. I am unruffled by the traffic and unfazed by the cultural differences. Mario's company is based in the greater San Diego area, so there has always been a very real possibility of us moving back there one day. In fact, if he decides to advance further up the chain in his current company, a move to the corporate headquarters is more likely than not. And while we aren't going anywhere in the next several years, it is something I think about when I visit family in The Golden State. I find myself pondering questions like What part of the city would we live in? [La Jolla!] and What kind of dwelling? [Beachside bungalow!].

Going back to where you came from can be so insightful. I see so much of myself in my aunts and grandmother. I learn things about my family history I never knew as a child. Adulthood provides a fresh perspective on the people and places that make us who we are. It's amazing how many personality traits, habits, and interests we share. For instance, there is a funny little saying I've used for years and years, with no insight into where it came from, and I just learned it is something my aunts used to say to my grandma when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I am endlessly fascinated by the whole nature versus nurture aspect of who we become.

This recent visit provided many revelations: reminding me of those little (and big) things I adore about my kin, how diverse (and similar) our personalities are, and where I picked up some of my more curious tenancies. One thing I know for sure, I can absolutely, unapologetically be myself with them. Crude humor and all. I feel so loved in their presence, for which I am forever grateful.

Some of the thoughts + observations I had during my recent visit to SD:

One thing I associate with my grandma is crossword puzzles. They were always (and still are) scattered around her house. Not the easy ones. Oh, no. She still does the New York Times Crossword every week. In pen. I can't do that and I'm allegedly in my prime.

Lists. Here, there and everywhere. I always have at least two lists going at any given time, and Mario is often perturbed by the piles of business cards, papers, catalogs, and notes to myself that get piled on the kitchen island. I feel best when things are written down in list format. Upon walking into my aunt's house and spying her counter, I instantly saw myself reflected in her "organized chaos".

I stumbled upon this Pyrex bowl set in my grandma's kitchen cabinet. In mint condition, despite the fact that she likely bought it new in the 60s or 70s and uses them like you would any old set of bowls. I resisted the urge to slip them into my suitcase, and left knowing where I likely inherited my obsession with vintage Pyrex. Grandma for the win (again).

It's official: my love of succulents has become pathological. While stopping by the grocery store next door to my grandma's hospital, I spied this fuzzy little critter and nabbed it. Only later did I realize I was in California and was taking a plane home. Uh, whoops. But I went for it. I sealed it in a Ziploc and stuffed it in my bag. It now resides on my bedroom windowsill and is only slightly worse for the wear. I also took fifty hundred photos of succulents in the ground in the few short days I was there. (Succulents are abundant in SoCal. I have more succulents than surface areas to put them, yet I can't stop bringing more home. Coincidence? I think not.) (Also, it's contagious. Or genetic. Kiddo's bedroom windowsill is brimming with several friendly varieties of cacti.) Is there a 12-step program for plant addiction?

Legal pads. So many legal pads. Upon opening this drawer in my grandma's office, I came to understand why I've always lived under the belief that one can never have too many. (There is currently one in my car, one in my purse, two on the kitchen counter, and two in my computer bag.) If it's written on a legal pad, it's more likely to get accomplished. Truth.

Also, I want to give a shout-out to the person who invented the mini legal pad. You're a genius.

I like to play fast and loose with my luggage, I've come to realize. When in Vermont I picked up a four-pack of what is reputed to be the best beer in the country (the world, even?). The lovely people at TSA treated my suitcase like a punching bag and, despite never making it into the air due to a flight cancellation, managed to break a hole in one of the cans. I got to the hotel after a long day to find all my remaining clean laundry soaked in beer. And I was 3500 miles away from home.

No one ever accused me of being sensible, so when Mario requested I bring home some of his favorite peanut butter stout (?!), I thought Why stop at just one? and bought two 22 ounce glass bottles. (So many things could go wrong in this scenario, no?) I wrapped those bad boys in my dirties and tied each in their own grocery bag. TSA, again for the win, ripped the bags open while rifling through inspecting my bag and just threw them back in there all willy nilly. The beer gods were shining down on us, because they both made it home in one piece. It should also be noted that I have transported a variety of things in my suitcase during the course of our relationship, including (but not limited to) a Philly Cheesesteak with all the fixin's from a sandwich shop in Bozeman, Montana. I'm a really good wife.

I apparently only need one pair of shoes per season. (I wish I'd learned that little tidbit about myself before acquiring a rather large and superfluous flip-flop collection.) My cousin pointed out that all of my Instagram foot photos (I'm so cliché) for the last few months have featured my Birks. Last fall, it was all Bucketfeet slip-ons all the time. And despite packing several pairs of shoes on all my recent trips, I tended to only wear one pair for the duration, depending on the weather. If it's over 60 degrees and (mostly) dry, my feet get to enjoy the open air. (Also, with the exception of my workout shoes, I tend to favor lace-free varieties. Fascinating information, I know.)

I could eat Mexican food every day for the rest of my life and be totally satisfied. I'd also weigh 500 pounds (35.7 stone for you Brits), but it would be worth it. Taquitos are my life. Also, I don't particularly care for soda, sweetened beverages, or creamsicles, but I must have one Orange Bang every time I visit SD. You should, too. (P.S. I'm grateful every single day that I didn't get that gene that makes cilantro taste like soap. I'm not sure I could have survived such an affliction.)

Also, despite never having lived in California, Kiddo looks and acts the part. When offered a snack while out and about town, all kids opt for an avocado...to eat in the car...with a spoon. Right? I thought so. (He is definitely his mother's son. Genetics strike again.)

Are any of you from SoCal and get it? Or have quirky traits your family bestowed upon you? Tell me. Make me feel normal. Neurosis loves company.

Who are you and where did you come from?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The other day Husband and I were sitting on the couch watching this or that when he turned to me with Serious Face and said, "I've never been more excited for summer vacation. Not even my own summer breaks when I was a kid. I am so excited." And I realized I feel the very same way. The transition to high school was bumpy for all of us. (Side note: I was never one of those people who wanted to relive my high school experience. But having a teenager kind of forces you to revisit those formidable years. Awwwwkward.) 

Boy was there a learning curve these past nine months. Right until the very, very end (today! donezo!) we were navigating the surprisingly complex social dynamic of 15-year-old boys and fielding complaints of hand cramps from using a non-mechanical #2 pencil to complete an English final. (Hand cramp? I'll give you a hand cramp! When I was your age we didn't even have computers! We hand wrote all our essays on a piece of slate! We also walked five miles uphill to school everyday in blizzard conditions!) (I'm clearly becoming a crotchety old schoolmarm.) (Also, none of that is true.) (Though by today's standards, those black and green screened IBM desktops with floppy disks were positively primitive. Which means I'm more appreciative of Google than those spoiled Generation Z-ers.)

This year, though only roughly to the halfway point, has a very different feel than years past. We are in uncharted territory after nearly a decade of what, in hindsight, I realize was personal and familial stagnation. (We all three had it in one form or another.) Change and forward movement are both good, for sure, but also dizzying at times. I've set a personal record for most airline miles used in a single year, let alone half a year. I've attended a funeral in Montana, experienced Costa Rica for the first time, attended a girls getaway in Vermont, and sat at a hospital bedside in San Diego. And depending on the whole job thing, I may be heading up to Flathead Lake for the 4th. (I'm a little torn on the last one—working versus seeing the boys—the old motherhood dilemma of trying to be two places at once.) 

Breaking news! I got THE job! The formal offer came just moments ago. Which meant scrapping half my post spent lamenting (for the umpteenth time) the frustration of reentering the workforce after being a mom/wife and the time spent interviewing + waiting + interviewing + waiting some more. The point is, I'm employed! In literally the perfect patient care job. Where I get to wear scrubs every day (i.e. the world's most comfortable uniform). So many wonderful metaphors could aptly sum up this rather arduous experience: all good things come to he who waits; a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (I don't know what that means). 

Oh, the boys! Did I mention they are leaving on Thursday for five whole weeks? I wouldn't kid about something like that. I haven't spent this much time alone since my late teens/early twenties. And though I'll miss them with all my heart, a break from my domestic obligations is also quite welcome. My start date is still up in the air, but it sounds like they can get me into the necessary new hire classes early next month. Which means a couple weeks to enjoy summer before I start acting like a gainfully employed grownup again. I give it two weeks tops before I can't stand myself and the summer primetime lineup. (Though I'm hoping Pretty Little Liars finally starts answering some of my questions + filling in plot holes.)

I'd like to think these next five weeks will serve as preparation for the isolation of next summer's voyage, though, really, apples and oranges. Enjoying the quiet comfort of my own home, complete with flushable toilets, will do little to prepare me for the trials and tribulations of the trail. There is a zero point zero chance I will stumble upon a rattlesnake or grizzly in the Portland suburbs. But, you know, the things we tell ourselves.

Speaking of next summer, I've been asked where my plans stand now that I have scored a great job. I've been asking myself the same question. In fact, I've spent a great deal of time considering my options since I got the call last week that I was still in the running. There is only one thing I know for sure: I'm hiking the PCT. The timeline is less certain, but I am going forward with my research and planning. When the time comes to choose, I'll let my gut be my guide. But know that it will be a question of when, not if.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying farmers market season, outdoor seating, and my first foray into the "Dump Cake." (Does anyone else find that name a little, um, unappealing? Though it was unexpectedly delicious.) 

There's something about strolling around on a Sunday morning, a jar of fresh honey in one hand, coffee drink in the other, taking in all the colors and sounds of the season.

There's a lot to be grateful for right now:

We made it through the school year (mostly) unscathed. 

We (still) love where we live.

I have a brand new job that will put me squarely on the path to PA school. (!!!) (Pinch me.)

The boys and I are happy + healthy. 

Here's to reinvention. And welcoming new seasons with open arms (literally and figuratively).

Living fearlessly, I'm learning, is a choice.

These days.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Life is a funny thing, isn't it?

Last Friday I was out and about in Portland, computer bag slung over my shoulder, walking into a previously unexplored coffee shop, when my phone buzzed. My grandma was in the emergency room.

In a few short hours my bag was packed and I was boarding a plane to San Diego, my homeland.

I was blessed with amazing grandparents: I spent my younger years having sleepovers at their houses, going on special birthday outings, and having pancake feasts on Saturday mornings. There were times they were my parents more than my parents were. They showed us a kind of love I'd never known before. It is because of them, and my aunts, that I am the person I am today. A wife and mother who loves deeply, tries to live life to the fullest, and takes every opportunity to show others kindest.

My grandparents divorced years before I was born, so it meant two of everything: two birthday outings, two places to sleep over, two different brands of love. I won the grandparent lottery, that's for sure.

I lost my grandfather when I was a teenager, but the memories are rich. He will always live on in my memory as a young, vibrant man who raced dune buggies and dirt bikes and saved lives. He was my hero, yes, but he was also a hero. He was a fireman until retirement; oh, the countless lives he must have saved over the decades. An amazing man, that grandpa of mine.

Unfortunately, you reach a certain age when you begin to lose those beloved relatives; relatives that seemed immortal when you were a child. My family is young: my great-grandparents are still alive, and my grandma is still young by today's standards, at 76 years old. She retired from her nursing career just a year ago, a hero in her own right. She was one of those people my heart thought would live forever, though my mind knows otherwise.

When I left on Wednesday night, my grandma seemed to be doing better. She is now back in the hospital, perhaps the victim of strokes. Strokes that have taken her speech and the ability to do her beloved crossword puzzles. Strokes that have stolen her independence when they had no right. My aunt tells me she is asking for me, in her distorted language, and my heart breaks a little more.

Another trip may be in order, but until we know more, I'm going to stay here. And prepare to go back to work. You see, Wednesday morning I got a call about a job. The one I interviewed for twice. The one I was rejected for twice. The one where the funding fell through. It seems a full time position opened up, and they called and requested that I apply. Requested. Me. (Does that actually happen in real life?) (!!!) In the midst of tragedy, my chosen path opened back up. The path that had seemed so impossible just days before; the path I'd begun to question and rethink and doubt.

Next week Mario and Jared are headed to Montana for five weeks, and I want to be with them as much as possible before they go. So it is important that I'm home, soaking up those last few days with the men in my life. Kiddo is going to come back bigger and different in some subtle way, as kiddos tend to do even under threat of punishment. (If you grow one more inch...) As much as I want to be in San Diego, sitting at her bedside, life must go on. Because life is a funny thing that gives you jobs when you least expect it and takes grandmas before their time. It's funny and unfair and, well, life.

I hope this is but another wake up call from the ether. The kind of wake up call that reminds you that life is messy and fragile and you must never become complacent. Perhaps it is reminding me to call my grandma more and to let life's inconveniences roll off my back and to offer hugs more freely.

Hopefully Grandma can be herself again. Because I'm not ready for any other option. Sadly, it's not my choice to make.

Monday afternoon, while talking to her about accepting help from others (nurses make the worst patients, they say, and it is absolutely true), she said she didn't want to be a bother. A very grandma thing to say, no? The conversation went something like this:

Me: Grandma, you need to let people help you.

Her: I don't ever want to inconvenience anyone.

Me: When we were little and my mom was going through something, and you took us in and fed us and loved us as your very own, did you think we were inconveniencing you?

Her: Oh, no! Getting to take care of you was an honor.

And I know that to be the absolute truth.

Here's to you, Grandma. It is has been my honor. 

loving deeply + relinquishing control

Friday, June 12, 2015

Making: pies. It's berry season and those bad boys have a short shelf life. (This crust is a dream!)
Cooking: mushrooms in pickle juice + brainstorming other things I can add it to. (They were good.)
Drinking: coffee again. (oops.)
Reading: the last few chapters of The Scarlet Letter + The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty.
Wanting: this printed tent (the trail favors function over form—though one can hope to still be stylish despite 8 days without a shower).
Looking: for a Wes Anderson DVD collection. They should make one. I'd buy it. (Mario and I watched Moonrise Kingdom last weekend and loved it equally the second go-around.)
Playing: with watercolors (in this coloring book).
Wishing: for more date nights with Mario (there is no shortage of restaurants to try).
Enjoying: warmer temps and evening breezes—the porch is getting a lot more attention these days.
Waiting: to get in for a haircut. It's been a few months and my mop is looking scraggly.
Liking: all the retro runners.
Wondering: where my wedding ring is lurking (it's been missing for weeks—I suspect the cat was involved).
Loving: this gorgeous camera + laptop bag. (I'll have one of everything on their website, please.)
Watching: Bloodline on Netflix. Mario and I are really into it. (Is it wrong to send Kiddo to bed at 5p so we can binge-watch?)
Hoping: to see some tufted puffins this weekend.
Marveling: at how quickly the first half of the year went by.
Needing: to start populating the new blog. I have a serious case of fear-based writer's block.
Smelling: that fresh, earthy smell that comes after a good rain shower.
Wearing: these t-shirts from Target pretty much every day (I just ordered 3 more).
Following: Sea Salt and Evergreens (is there anything better than finding a lovely new blog?).
Noticing: Portland has precisely one million coffee shops. I will never run out of new places to surf the internet write. 
Thinking: about this article and its insight into the societal plight of all women.
Bookmarking: PCT blogs, guides, websites, and maps.
Giggling: during this movie (but utterly touched + moved by it, too). I mean, Bill Murray.
Feeling: excited. nervous. overwhelmed. but above all, grateful.

Taking Stock | 03

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I was always under the impression that sharing your goals makes you more likely to accomplish them. By putting your intentions out there into the ether, introducing them to friends and family, you would be subject to increased accountability, however unspoken. Would my loved ones judge me if I backed out of something? Nah. But I would judge me. Once said aloud it becomes a commitment, if even only to myself.

Science, it seems, disagrees with this philosophy. Recent research even suggests that telling others about your goals can actually compromise them.

But not all goals can or should be kept to yourself. If you have kiddos, you may need help with childcare. If you are married you would, of course, want your spouse on board. Sometimes lengthy planning is involved, which would make secrecy improbable (and uncomfortable). If said goal requires preparation and a financial commitment, like, say, going back to school, then of course sharing is essential. Sometimes it does take a village.

Sometimes you simply want the world to know you are finally, irrevocably pursuing your dreams. As is true for me.

After several years of pondering, yearning and dreaming, I have decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail next summer. 

I don't have all the specifics worked out yet. For instance, I haven't decided if I am going to hike all 2650 miles in one fell swoop, or split it into two adventures. But there is no doubt that I'm doing it. (My first instinct is to take the latter approach; starting somewhere near Echo Lake and finishing where the trail ends at the Canadian border—about 1500 miles—leaving the rest of California for another year.)

If there was ever a time for me to hike the PCT, this is it. I'm not committed to a career, husband is (mostly) working from home, and Kiddo is reaching the age of independence. It's now or never.

The impetus behind this decision occurred Memorial Day weekend. Mario and I were at our friends' house discussing our summer plans. He and Kiddo are headed up to Montana for a few weeks, and I will remain at home to continue the job search and hold down the fort. In the midst of our discussion, Mario said You should hike the PCT this summer! and butterflies immediately started fluttering around my belly. (Wait. Could I actually do this?!) After some basic research, I knew two weeks of prep would be pushing it, if not nearly impossible. (Most people take 6-8 months to prepare for the trail and departure/arrival times should be weather-based.) The last thing I need is to die of dehydration because I didn't adequately research available water sources in the Mojave Desert.

The ten or so months ahead will involve researching/testing/buying gear, coordinating schedules, and reading hundreds of pages of blog posts and guide books. I will also be working somewhere (even if it ends up being non-healthcare) to fund my adventure. I'd like to have a good chunk of change in an account so we can auto pay our bills while I'm gone. (Mario will have enough on his hands between work and taking care of Kiddo.) It is estimated that a thru-hike costs $4-8k between gear, food, permits, resupply boxes, accommodations, and unexpected expenses (a broken water filter, ripped tent or injury/infection, for example). Part of the voyage, for me, will be raising funds for it. Four plus months in the wilderness will be a mostly solitary endeavor, and I cherish the idea of earning the dough to purchase the necessary gear with cash (which, as I mentioned, is not cheap).

There are many schools of thought when it comes to approaching the trail. Light vs. ultralight, shipping resupply boxes vs. buying as you go, campfire vs. stove, etc. I'll be taking a hybrid approach. And while I don't plan to turn this space into a blog about hiking the PCT, I will certainly be talking about it here and there. (Perhaps a monthly series?) Because planning this trip is exciting. Testing and researching gear is interesting. Talking about it with Mario and getting his input is fun.  Reassuring Kiddo and having lots of conversations (already) about the safety of the trek and what life will be like without Mom for a few months is important.

The fact is, I don't know who I am outside of motherhood, wifehood, and my prospective career goals. (For the record, this is not to say that I am unhappy. I'm not. I am merely a girl in search of the best version of herself.) I've never had a chance to focus on nothing more than my most basic needs. I have a feeling it will be eye-opening. To navigate this world, as it was for our ancestors, without the influence of others. To put myself first for the first time in my 30+ years. To challenge myself in unimaginable ways. There is no doubt I will return a more self-aware, centered person. Perhaps a person who will have a clear picture of what her future looks like. A better understanding of what exactly it is my heart desires. Perhaps, upon my return, I can stop searching and start living. My best life, I hope.

I will miss my family dearly, of course, but I can't put off self-discovery any longer. For their sake and my mine.

 Here's to following your heart, no matter what.

Taking The Road Less Traveled.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015