• 2010 Reading List

    What I've read this year:

    "The Other Queen" by Phillipa Gregory (Rating: C)

    "The Welsh Girl" by Peter Ho Davies (Rating: A)

    "Mistress of the Sun" by Sandra Gulland (Rating: A)

Playing hooky in the woods

Yesterday I played hooky. I needed a mental health day, so I took the day off, and spent it at home and in the woods. Over the past three or four days, my brain has been going into overdrive. I lay in bed at night, tossing and turning, thinking about a million different things, and willing myself to fall asleep, wanting to wake-up my husband just to say “I can’t sleep!” It is the most frustrating feeling in the world…

I’ve been looking for a new job for the past few months, with little luck. There have been a multitude of applications sent out for positions which I am over-qualified, and yet I don’t get a response. And then, last week, I got a phone call wanting to schedule a phone interview. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I had been in a meeting all evening, dealing with negativity, swallowing my pride, and realizing just how much my job has changed in the past 6 months. I walked out of the meeting feeling physically heavy, and emotionally broken. And then I heard a voice mail about a phone interview.

We talked for 30 minutes on Friday, and the conversation was incredible. The position is right up my alley, with a non-profit that I greatly admire. It would be an amazing change of pace, and something that I feel will reignite my passion for my career. Tomorrow I have an interview with the Director, and I am starting to get nervous. I don’t deal well with nervousness. It is something that I don’t feel often. I’ve interviewed for countless things before, and not felt the anticipation that I’m feeling now. This is the number one contributing factor to my restlessness this week.

Marco enjoying his freedom

So, I played hooky yesterday. I took the Peanut to school, came back home, and walked in the woods with Marco for most of the morning. It was great to just forget about the pressure I’m putting upon myself this week, and just walk and relax. Unfortunately, the relaxation did not remain until bedtime…I still ended up tossing and turning most of the night. However, I’m hoping and praying that tomorrow will go extremely well, despite the bags under my eyes, and that I will be called back in for a final interview with the board. So, I’m asking for good thoughts and prayers regarding this interview. I’m hoping that this is the right opportunity for me, and that I will soon find myself in a new, positive, and meaningful work environment. Fingers crossed!

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Spring, vintage & humility

I’m loving the touch of spring that is in the air this week! Yesterday was a beautiful day, with blue skies and temperatures very comfy, and today is looking to be more of the same. I’m not quite ready for the end of winter, which is one of the benefits of living in the Carolinas. We know that the seasons like to dip in and out around here. One day it is winter, the next it is spring, and then we are back to winter for a few more weeks. However, the sunny skies and warm air are giving us some much-needed outside play time (the sidewalk chalk and bikes were out in full force yesterday).  When the weather starts flip-flopping like this, it makes me start planning ahead, looking forward to the things that the next season brings, and building excitement. We’ve started discussing what we want to plant this year in our garden; I’m staring out of the window while cooking, picturing where I want to plant additional flowers; I’m starting to see more birds visiting our yard, and snacking on the treats we’ve left out for them. It is a very exciting time!

And, to top off my desire for spring, this weekend a friend and I went shopping, and I found the cutest dress at Hong Kong Vintage & Recycled.(They do have an ebay store if you are interested – the link will take you there.) It was the first store we went in, so I had to hem & haw for a little while. I ended up getting them to hold it for me while we continued shopping, but I didn’t find anything else, so the dress came home with me! Now I’m just waiting for the weather to be consistently warm so that I can rock my new dress! We also had lunch at The Penguin (a Charlotte tradition), but that place really deserves a post all to itself.

And, even though the week is officially half-way over, here is the thought of the week…

(I’m still working on that part about humility…it’s not so simple.)

I hope it is warm and sunny in your neck of the woods!

New year, new goals

Like so many other people, we view the beginning of the new year as a time to reevaluate. As 2009 was coming to a close, we were finding ourselves feeling bogged down by so many things. We were unintentionally focusing on things other than ourselves, our family, and the things that matter the most to us. So, with the opportunity at a clean slate right around the corner, we began crafting our 2010 goals. I have never been one to set “resolutions.”

How many of those live to see a day in February or beyond? Most fizzle out and die before the end of January. We want these goals to be things that will make us a stronger family, increase our contentment day-to-day, and help keep us focused on the values we really want to be teaching our son. I’m sure many of these will see ups and downs throughout the year. Very few of these will be scratched off and marked as complete. The majority are not things to accomplish, but rather mindsets and long-term goals. So, to help with accountability, here they are!

2010 Family Goals:

  • Eat minimum of one vegetarian meal per week
  • No cable/satellite for one year
  • Make 3 monetary donations to a charity (We’ve made our first donation to CARE, helping educate a girl for a year. For more info, go to   https://my.care.org/site/Donation2?df_id=4183&4183.donation=form1)
  • Take a beach vacation with our extended family
  • Plan and/or make ahead meals – plan our weekly/monthly menu
  • Take a family vacation to a National Park, Historical Site, etc.
  • Resume weekly game/craft/reading nights
  • Stick to daily cleaning (We have one thing that we are supposed to do each day to help avoid Saturdays turning into a day of work.)
  • Freeze/preserve Farmer’s Market produce during the appropriate seasons
  • Add allowance options to the Peanut’s responsibility chart
  • Plan budget for the year, using the “envelope system” to reduce wasteful spending
  • Build vegetable garden on back hill
  • Make a conscious effort to love eachother the way we to be loved
  • Organize the garage (this is the only one that I’m not looking forward to…)
  • Plant one or two additional trees in yard
  • Take 2 or 3 day weekend trip as a couple
  • Write our wills
  • Focus on buying used rather than new
  • Sit down together at the beginning of the month to review last month’s spending

I think that we’ve been realistic about our goals, and we are feeling really positive about the things we’ve decided to emphasize this year. One more thing that we’ve decided to do is to have a “Thought of the Week.” These will be things that help us maintain our focus on the truly important things, and add a little more appreciation to our daily life. I’m posting the thoughts in the kitchen, where we spend the majority of our time, so that I can glean a little wisdom while washing dishes, making lunches, etc. I’m going to try and remember to share these thoughts with you in the coming weeks and months. That being said, here is the thought for the week…

War Child Speaks

I have no words for this…thanks to Blue Yonder for sharing. Amazingly beautiful, tragic, and inspiring, all wrapped into one. “Go save the life of a child.”

Wrestling with inspiration

I am by no means a “sports fan.” I have been known to take a newspaper to a NFL game (I had been given free tickets) so that I can work the crossword puzzle during the game. There are no sports that I follow, and I have never played organized sports. They just aren’t my thing. However, the following video portrays the best aspects of competition and a team mentality. I love the relationship between these two boys, and the strength of character that they show. This is an amazing story – grab a tissue before you watch!

Book Club or Therapy Session?

It’s no secret – I love to read. Ever since I was a child, reading has been my escape, my therapy, my favorite thing to do. I read in the car on vacation, I read in the bathroom, I read before bed, and any other moment I had.

As adult, this continued. I majored in English Lit in college, and reading took on a different form for me – much more analytical, intense, and less enjoyable. After college, I had to retrain my brain on how to read for fun. I still read with a pen or pencil nearby, to underline or make any notes that may strike my fancy, but my mind is operating on a purely selfish, “I’m just reading this to enjoy myself” type of level. Very different from the “Dear God, please let me understand everything about this, and have something wise and insightful to say in class tomorrow” mindset that permeated my college years.

Camp 2009 107

So, I am now a part of a book club. My affiliation with it is unusual. I put together the idea as an event for work, and serve more as the hostess for the evening. However, I typically read the books, and participate in the discussion, no matter which way the topics may turn. The books we read are often times very different than what I would have selected myself, but I try to read them anyway. This month’s selection was “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” This is absolutely not my type of book, but I brought it to the beach anyway, and decided to do a little reading rotation.

At any given time, I may be reading 3 or 4 or 5 books. I like being able to pick things up, read a little of it, and then put it back down and not look at it again for a day or a week, depending upon my mood. So, I rotated through “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “Anna Karenin,” and “Playful Parenting” – a nicely balanced selection, right? 🙂

The book was exactly what I expected – light, trivial, and frankly, annoying. But, the book club discussion was not. It never is. This is the only book club that I have ever participated in, so my experience is certainly limited. If I had to guess, I would say that we spend 20-40% of our time actively discussing the selected book, and specifically answering the provided “Discussion Questions.”

Fall 2006 Vacation Pictures 005 Edit

Inevitably, we get side tracked. Every month we talk about our kids, their schools, people we know that have had an experience that kind of mirrors the book. We talk about discipline. We laugh at eachothers experiences. We give advice, and find out things that we just can’t believe.

And this, I guess, is why so many women belong to book clubs. I’m sure that there are many groups that get together and discuss symbolism, the author’s voice, and truly delve into the in’s and out’s of the discussion questions. But, I think that many of us get together just to have a sounding board. The books we read open the doors to a variety of topics. We’ve talked about a wide variety of things in these monthly discussions: immigration, government policies, religion, abuse, war, travel, dreams, our families, childhood, fear and parenting. We talk about anything that comes up. Some of it is trivial, but some of it is really insightful, open discussion about things that all of us deal with, but often in very different ways.

And this is what I love about this book club. The selections may not always be what I would prefer, but I know that the conversations will always be memorable, and that is what it is about.

My “What!?” moment from last night: Of the 6 women there last night, myself included, we owned a total of 19 televisions. Only one other family other than my own has a single television. One woman has 6. I just couldn’t believe it. The average was 3 per family. But, that realization lead us to talking about ways to curb tv time for our families. Each family had a very different take on it, but it was interesting to hear how other families monitored (or didn’t monitor) their “plugged in” time. It was a glimpse into other people’s lives. So aspects of which are very close to my own, and some that are polar opposites. But, hearing and talking about these different methods, beliefs and values, just lets me makes me reevaluate our own family decisions. Are we doing enough in some areas, are we doing too much in others? Introspection is always a good thing.

More than words

If you don’t watch the reality television show “So You Think You Can Dance,” you missed something incredible this week. My hubbie & I have enjoyed watching this show since it first came out, and it is a very unique venue of exposing dance & artistic expression to a huge audience. There have been amazing pieces over the years, but this week’s piece by Tyce Diorio was exceptional. It moved me to tears, along with virtually everyone that watched the piece live in the studio. I had to share it with you, and hope that it moves you as well.

Never underestimate the power of art. I would venture to guess that this piece did more to get the public talking and thinking about breast cancer than any singular campaign, event or walk. Amazing…