We just got back from our annual Thanksgiving-ish beach trip, which is always one of my favorite weeks of the year.
This fall, I had worked ahead so I didn’t have to take any work along and the trip could be a true time of rest. I decided to prioritize listening to my body and get as much rest as it told me to. It turns out that my body is very tired. One night, I went to bed one night at 7:45 pm and slept until the girls woke up at 5.
When I’m at the beach for the week, lazily reading books and taking walks and pushing my kids on swings, it’s hard to remember what tires me out at home and why I never sit down before 8 pm. Then I come home and remember–oh, we have friends and family members that want to speak with us, clothes that need to be washed instead of stuffed back into a suitcase, a house that actually needs to be maintained, clients who need responses to questions so we can afford to live, children who need more nutrition than french fries and mac and cheese provide, and long-term goals we need to advance towards.
Oh yeah, that. All of it good. All of it a blessing.
But it’s also a blessing to walk the beach, drink a glass of red wine at 4 pm, throw everyone in the car without brushing anybody’s hair, and drive to a restaurant with “Crabby” in its title, before coming home and going to bed early without doing a single dish. Amen?
(Zoe was feeling the vacation too…I walked into her bedroom in the condo one morning and found that she had quietly drawn this sweet picture of the four of us smiling on vacation!)
Other fall updates:
Sabbath – As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m making a concentrated effort to take a weekly Sabbath again. Getting started “resting” will always be hard for me, but I noticed over the course of the fall that I become more comfortable with Sabbath and begin enjoying it sooner in the day each weekend that I practiced it. Here are some things I/we have done with our Sabbaths:
- Ripping out hideous bushes in the front of our house and replacing them with cool plants (gardening is not part of our usual work week, so this totally felt Sabbath-y)!
- Decorating our house for Halloween.
- Visiting a “pickers” market and indulging in my love of antiquing/vintage furniture (I bought a new light fixture for the kitchen…when I finally get an electrician out here to hang it, I’ll report back)!
- Having a friend over to teach me more hairstyles for Zoe’s hair.
- Planning and hosting our block party.
- Having lunch and visiting a garden center with my mother-in-law.
- Working out while I left everyone else at home. :)
- Meeting a friend for coffee.
- Reading a book! I’ve been averaging 1 per week. My best reads this fall were Present Over Perfect and Hungry Heart. I typically don’t critique other people’s art in writing because I like to encourage the expression of the human spirit, but life is short, so I’ll tell you to save yourself a weekend and avoid Commonwealth.
- Visiting parks with the girls.
- Serving as the purchasing coordinator and childcare support for a very important back yard project: A SWING SET!!! Thanks to my awesome and talented dad for planning and building an amazing swing set for our girls! (Unpictured due to privacy concerns…but here is a picture of Zoe swinging elsewhere!)
Work – Work-wise, the fall season has been exactly what I hoped for: I was able to explore new clients and new types of work, and gather information about what my ideal client mix looks like. I’m not on “holiday cruise control” yet, but I’m getting there. My students are one assignment and one exam away from the finish line of our fall course. I’m done with one grant writing contract for the year; the other two extend through part of 2017, along with a new client (a local children’s museum). This fall, also I helped a new nonprofit get set up, did some copyediting (having a critical personality is annoying but lucrative), and fell in love with helping high school seniors write college admissions essays (if only this was a year-round need…the intersection of empowering adolescents, helping them understand their stories and tell them well, and persuasive writing is totally my sweet spot)!!
Keeping these balls in the air is thrilling, but also stressful, and I realized at some point about two months ago that I am often moving too fast to celebrate my successes. I am honestly more excited sometimes about checking something off of my to-do list than I am about the thing that I did MEANING something. That’s weird, and seems like a ticket for the Burnout Express. So, I have been training myself to pause and celebrate the successes. Here are two: the last two months, I won $44,000 in separate grants for a grant writing client, and one of “my” high school seniors has been offered over $28,000 in scholarships so far! Par-tayyy!
Potty training – We finished Z’s potty training in the spring and figured we were done for the year, but Riley initiated her own potty training about 7 weeks ago. If I have accomplished nothing else this year, I have taught two people bladder control.
Identity crisis – After 12 years of starting my morning with a mug of black coffee, I switched to green tea in September. Who am I?! (Answer: less caffeinated. Also, less prone to a midday crash and GI issues that had crept up.) I debated sharing this because I have a coffee-loving image to uphold, but this is what qualifies as “news” these days. Consider yourself informed (and invited for your post-lunch latte, which is still a thing, because I need to recognize myself in the mirror/make it through the day).
Halloween – In a wildly unpredictable costume choice, Zoe was Elsa for Halloween. She was also very eager to get trick-or-treating, so this family photo was the best we could do of the four of us:
(Not pregnant – just phoning in a costume).
Christmas tree – has been chosen.
Nothing says “Christmas cheer” like Crocs, a Minnie Mouse Halloween costume, and a thin layer of sweat from the 80 degree weather.
Also, check out Zoe’s cornrows. I have to say, I’m becoming a bit proud of my black hairstyling skills (when Zoe will sit still enough for me to use them). Here’s a more basic two-strand twist:
To other mamas attempting to learn styles: I would highly recommend the book Better than Good Hair, and finding a friend who works for a nonprofit organization designed to help black girls celebrate their culture. The latter may be a little more difficult to find, but amazingly, God has gifted me with such a friend! I am so grateful. I actually have another hair story to tell you, but this post is getting too long, so I’ll share it another time.
Off to decorate the tree…