This spring has been a whirlwind: our first (conventional) family vacation (so, so fun, but also exhausting); navigating the complex world of parenting a teenager (advice welcome); and learning to accept that I will likely always have a love-hate relationship with my job (things are looking up on that front, thank goodness). Husband turned a year older this month, which means I'm six months to the day behind him. It feels like a pivotal age, though unconventionally so; one that brings about reflection on where we are in our individual and combined lives.

That work-life balance thing I'm always waxing about feels pretty darn achievable most days. I attribute this, in large part, to a more civilized work schedule, a renewed commitment to dating my husband and socializing with friends + coworkers, and finding more space in my life for creative endeavors.

I'm also learning to let go

of plants I don't love or require too much of my time.
of clothing that doesn't fit, I don't wear, and/or I don't love.
of relationships that aren't mutually beneficial.
of trying to please the unpleasable.
of The Plan: the one that causes my stomach to clench when I imagine it working out differently.
of all those what-ifs. (Boy can they rob you of your sunshine.)

Mario and I have been dating regularly and socializing more.
I committed already and registered for the GREs: I'm slaying that beast on June 14.
I'm within 300 hours of meeting my chosen grad school's healthcare experience prerequisite.
We are snowballing the heck out of our debt.
I came back from vacation and resumed a Whole30-based diet, while practicing moderation in the form of meals out and occasionally indulged cravings.
I Konmaried my closet yesterday to the tune of six garbage bags full of clothing, shoes and accessories headed for donation. (Bookshelf, I've got my eye on you next.)
I volunteered for a school event for the first time in ages.
After nearly a decade of talking about it, we hired someone to deep clean our house once a month. (What's left are small weekly tidying sessions which equals more family time.)
I've become a float therapy convert, and try to book a session every 10 days or so.

So what brought about this recent lifestyle change? The answer is rather unconventional: I missed a much-anticipated chalkboard lettering class. I was exhausted from working long hours and feeling guilty that Mario was practically single-parenting our child, and I slept right through a class I'd been looking forward to for over a month. (And paid a pretty penny to attend, which was actually the least of my concerns about missing it.) What's worse: I didn't notice until I checked my email two days later and found a kind note from the shop owner telling of my absence. My life had fallen off the rails and I'd finally opened my eyes to it. I was tired, detached, and running on autopilot at best. Small issues felt enormous, as was my reaction to them. I was forgetting dates and times and events and felt like I was apologizing constantly. When I wasn't apologizing I was worrying that my child wasn't getting enough attention and my husband was overburdened, and scared shitless that one morning I would wake up to the realization that the path I was enduring such hardship to pursue wasn't what I wanted after all.

Then there was the worst fear of all: that I would never, ever find personal fulfillment.

If I didn't start living now by embracing the imperfect, I'd continue denying myself the ability to find joy.

So I started living. The kind shop owner allowed me to take the next class and it. was. awesome. (I've found a new hobby!) Husband and I said yes to a dinner invite and the next week tried a restaurant that had been on our radar since moving to Portland. I dragged my weary butt to a get-together after work one day and was gifted the opportunity to get to know my coworkers outside of the stressful confines of the hospital corridors. I picked a date roughly two months in the future and printed out a GRE study plan that fit that time frame. Then I sat down and started studying. (Truth: I've been procrastinating on this front for nearly 3 years. I'm ridiculous.)


Life is far from perfect, and I mess up on the regular, but things are looking up. Optimism has been renewed and perspective regained. Life over the last month has become more livable: less about surviving the everyday and more about enjoyment. Taking moments when they present themselves; getting out of my own way; and letting go when my body and mind compel me to do nothing more than lie on the couch after working three 12-hour shifts in a row.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm also going to devote more time spent writing in this space. Posting here makes me happy and keeps me connected to friends and like-minded people. It won't be every day or even every week for the next little while, but it will be more regular than it has been. Because despite the lack of posts, it's never far from my mind. I construct post titles and write sentences in my head in all those in-between moments.

Just a few of the posts I've already mentally written many times over:

(Better) Realized: Knowing when you've finally made it.
Disney World
Harry Potter World
Marbella, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Minimizing  / Capsulizing (Sort of)
Reading Goals 2015: A Review
Living grudge-free
The Whole30 Experience
Favorite things (skincare, clothing, cosmetics, crafts, etc)
Relating to your in-laws

April in photographs + lists

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I think it is safe to say that spring has officially sprung in the Pacific Northwest. The last few days have brought sunshine, blue skies, and impossibly colorful blooms. I'm in heaven. I've been feeling the pull to the out of doors, and I see lunches in the staff garden and t-shirt + shorts weather in my near future. Gloomy days have their place in my little introverted heart, but there is something about the sunny seasons that bring about a certain optimism.  Those in other parts of the country, I'm thinking about you and hoping more hospitable weather is on the horizon for you as well.

Here's a little of what I've seen, heard and bookmarked over the last couple weeks:

This beautiful, raw essay describes New Hampshire Sarah rather succinctly. (When I read it, all those old feelings came rushing right back. They are still in there, apparently.)

Perhaps the perfect warm weather dress.

Middle-class housing projects. (What.)

Appealing to our humanity. (Especially after these most recent remarks.) (John Oliver's commentary is so good.)

Learned a new skill. (Also, trying this.)

A list maker through and through, this article inspired me to take it a step or two further.

A very crafty blog.

Still an INFJ. (I retake it every few years, and despite my near constant evolution it's always the same.)

Floating. (I tried it for the first time this week, and this article prompted me to finally make the appointment.)

How am I just hearing about this?! Giddy doesn't even describe it. 

Junk food.

A new favorite cheek stain. (A decade-long devotee of Tarte's cheek stain, I'm not loving the new formulation—less gel-like and therefore harder to blend, I think—so I decided to move on).

Easy-to-Peel boiled eggs. I tried it; it works (!!!). I vow to submerge my eggs in boiling water from this day forth.

Also, I wrapped up my Whole30 experience yesterday (it was 31 days, technically) and I feel pretty darn good about it. Not a single cheat, even over Easter. We are headed for a family vacation tomorrow so I'm relaxing the rules just a bit, but when I come back the goal is to continue a modified Whole30 until I get closer to my happier body composition. But with a weekly cheat meal, I think. Because the real world involves the occasional ice cream cone and potato chip. More on the experience to come.

Happy Weekend!

Seen, Heard + Bookmarked

Friday, April 1, 2016