Lust for Life: All In

image (1) Earlier this year I went to the funeral of a 71-year old man who was tragically killed in a car crash. He was an iconic figure in the creative community, ebullient and spirited with a cult-like following of both socialites and artists, chefs and gardeners. Though I was just one of his many admirers, I felt the heartbreak of his passing deeply. After the service, in the thick of their lush and wondrous garden, his children shared stories of his passionate approach to life. He was unabashedly charming, witty, bright, always late, creative, generous, adventurous. He loved good food and beauty and music and travel and family. His passion for living practically burst from him, you could FEEL it. It was infectious and lovely. Essentially, he was all in.

Yes! All in. I took on that mantra and it's been with me ever since. So why bring it up now? I read an op/ed piece from the NYT yesterday titled "Our 'Mommy' Problem" that used "all in", as the aggregate term for the turgid phrases smattered throughout every other Op/Ed piece related to a woman's quest for happiness and fulfillment (Lean In/Have it All/Do it All/Be it All). Aaaack! No! That's not what I'm talking about. This is distinctly not THAT conversation.

All in is about having a lust for life. The insistent chorus of Iggy Pop and David Bowie's ecstatic heroin induced anthem sums it up. I got a lust for life. BEING in the moment, fully. It's about vulnerability, and risk. It's about celebrating the small stuff and embracing the shit that life deals you head on. FEEL the pain of a friend's betrayal. PLAY with your kids, instead of instructing them how to play. LOVE your partner for all of his kinks and quirks. Love YOURSELF for all of your kinks and quirks. Say yes to family time and dirty floors and mismatched stemware. I'm not promoting hedonism or stupidity, I'm talking about really, profoundly experiencing your life.

Being all in touches on mindfulness, too. Eckhart Tolle speaks of it in "How to 'Be' While Doing" and Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh expressed it perfectly in an essay on "washing the dishes, to wash the dishes". I have progressed in my experiences of Being, but I realized that I can be so caught up in these moments that I've forgetten to look at the big picture as well. Does my work make me happy? Does it sustain my family or serve our greater goals? Have we even thought about our greater goals? What are we gaining from living in this particular house, with all of these lovely things, if we're working too hard to enjoy it? Let's ask these questions. Let's dive deep! I got a lust for life and I'm ALL IN.

5 Things I Learned After 40

IMG_5121 Let's cut to the chase. Since turning 40 (or maybe even let's say 41) I've had a great number of "aha moments." Yeah, I'm pretty much Oprah level by now. Or at least Gayle. I even considered naming this post "What I Know For Sure." I don't know why self discovery comes more quickly at this stage in the game, but it's kind of cool.

Here are a few nuggets:

1. A great paycheck and rock star benefits do not feed your soul. Doing what you love and are good at, with people you like, feeds your soul. Flexibility helps too. Until pushed, I was accepting the status quo of a career I fell into. Don't wait for the ax to fall, honor your true gifts and passion and the rest will follow. I've read this a million times over, but it's really true. Woo woo!

2. Tequila, club soda and lime will not give you a hangover. But wine, too many IPA's, limoncello, or cocktails with sugar will definitely mess you up. QUICKLY.

3. Anyone can run a marathon. You just have to train for it. And long distance running is a sham. Okay, not really a sham but more like something-that-takes-a-lot-of-time-and-energy-and-doesn't-provide-the-amazing-physical-results-you-might-expect. I ran a marathon before my 40th birthday and sustained a regular schedule of half marathon distance runs for the following year and a half to "keep my momentum." I gained endurance and proved my perseverance, but I lost a total of 8 pounds in those two years and I was in a position to lose A LOT more. I still run, but not to an extreme. CrossFit and a paleo "inspired" menu have made a huge impact on my wellness (and weight).

4. Treat yo self. If you are not healthy and happy, your hubs, partner, colleagues, kids, won't be happy either. If you need to spend $200 on your haircuts and color, do it. Because trust me, I tried to do my hair myself and it was horrible. If you love CrossFit (or Pilates or Yoga) and it keeps you lean and off meds, then it's money well spent. If being happy means you demand an infinite supply of fresh ground coffee and dark chocolate, then so be it.

5. You be you. Other people don't think about you as much as you think they think about you. In other words, by focusing on what other people think, you're not focused on being you. So just be you. It's easier.

P.S. The image was created for a retreat I co-organized around The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte. The phrase "Decide to RISE"  came from her book...she's amazing.

A Clean Slate: New Year Resolutions

A Clean Slate: New Year Resolutions

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I think the New Year can be a real mixed bag. On the one hand, as you near the end of the year you are celebrating and pushing every excess you might dare, knowing that January 1 offers you a clean slate. You feel invincible, and that anything you've done to yourself and others can be erased with a swish of a calendar page. On the other hand, you're coming down from extraordinary high times...time off work, time with loved ones, time alone, party time! Creating a balance, and a way to ease into the New Year is a challenge. I used to spend lots of time setting my "Goals" for each new January. Then I realized that I NEVER GO BACK AND REVIEW THEM. And they sit quietly, patiently waiting for me, in the lovely red journal I bought for myself more than five years ago. What's different this year? I'm limiting myself to this post, and 10 minutes to jot down a few manageables. We don't have time to belabor this, do we? I want to make shit happen.

Make Your Magic

I've broken it down to a few categories that provide plenty of room for multiple resolutions. Three's a crowd? Just pick one or two. Rules? Keep it simple and direct. Active not passive. "Oh, so I'm going to be more healthy."  "I'm packing healthy snacks to bring to work everyday."

1. Micro-Resolution: Pick something tiny! I strongly believe it's the little things that make a difference. My husband made a mid-year resolution to make the bed everyday. He's done it, kept to it, and receives uber satisfaction from the practice. Gretchen Rubin gives this little change A LOT of attention in The Happiness Project, which is essentially a year of resolutions. I consider her an expert on the subject.

2. Health Resolution: Who hasn't picked something health-related as a new year resolve? Go for it! If you have a list of desired changes, try setting and achieving them quarterly instead of tackling them all right out of the gate. Set the goal, establish the habit for three months, then hit up another. Bam!

3. Personal/Professional/Parental Resolution: Sure, you can establish one for each of your personas. OR  just focus on ONE area that needs extra attention: "I'm saying 'yes' to my kids as often as possible." or "I'm only going to swear at work if it's an actual emergency." or "I'm going to increase my sociability and engage with the other soccer moms instead of playing Words With Friends on my iPhone."

4. Maintenance Resolution: Say Yes to Success! What's one thing you have accomplished or felt great success from in 2013? Will you vow to keep it going? Maintaining is almost MORE critical than creating the habit. Plus, it's nice to have a leg up on one of your resolutions. Consider it an easy win.

Extra Credit

New Year's Magic: An article published yesterday in The Atlantic, sparked my curiosity about the parallels of religion and New Year's traditions (excess, celebration, coming clean).

Making New Year's Resolutions: 5 Key Questions to ask Yourself, at The Happiness Project

Into the Wild + Quinoa Johnny Cakes

IMG_5213 We returned yesterday from a sweet weekend getaway to the mountain town of Julian, CA. Lucky to have acres to roam and a Quonset hut to nest, these family escapes are more rare now as we are scheduled to the stars with sports and other commitments. The property is not ours per se, but belongs to my family, and we have been adventuring there for nearly 10 years now.

I'll be honest. We're not exactly roughing it. I packed our SUV to the gills with the following... paint, glue, yarn, scissors, markers, paper, leather Motorola radios ("walkie talkies") pink ski vest + Uggs books + magazines my camera big straw hat scooters + helmuts cooler, dry goods, sparkling water, spices Bose sound dock a bottle of pinot plastic eggs + chocolate + goofy glasses

As I closed the back of the truck, I thought it might be possible that I've simply outgrown camping.

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I let go of email and running, and turned instead to hiking, cooking, reading, gathering, making. We crafted swords and slingshots, I collected feathers and daffodils. We ate True Food Kitchen's quinoa Johnny Cakes and I baked Spanish chicken with onion, potatoes and spicy sausage. We dyed eggs with beets, red onions and turmeric, and huddled together on a loveseat in front of the tiniest TV screen for a Friday night movie. I was up at daybreak each morning, and heard the call of the turkeys as I hid eggs on Easter Sunday. Later that day we packed up the truck and gave a heavy sigh, with the promise to return soon.

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Quinoa Johnny Cakes

My go-to dessert dish when I brunch at True Food Kitchen with my lady gals. Barely adapted from Dr. Andrew Weil's True Food Cookbook

Recipe:

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 cups whole wheat pasty flour

1/4 cup sugar (evaporated cane or white)

2 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups whole milk

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

orange zest

1/2 tsp olive oil

pat of butter

Toppings:

ripe banana, apples, or blueberries

Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)

maple syrup

Method:

1. Make quinoa. (HOT TIP: If like me, you normally add some savory "better than bouillon" flavor to your quinoa, skip it if you plan to use leftovers for these Johnny Cakes).

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine. In another large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, and oil and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until just combined. Fold in the cooked quinoa taking care not to overmix. Let the batter rest for at least 1 hour.

3. Lightly brush the cooking surface of a nonstick pan or griddle with butter. Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot pan. Drop banana slices, thin apple slices, or 8 to 10 blueberries on top of each pancake. When bubbles form in the batter, flip and cook on the other side until

lightly browned. Continue with the remaining batter and choice of fruit.

Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and maple syrup on the side.

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"The story of w...

"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."-Gloria Steinem

This quote, featured on the home page of the International Women's Day website, says so much to me about feminism. When I was younger, and studying for my Women's Studies major, I may not have articulated this very well. But with age comes wisdom (!) and the ability to use other people's words to validate your own. I have so much more to say lately on the topic of "women's issues" and worklifebalance and feminism and havingitall but for now, I'll let Gloria's quote settle. I thank all of the amazing women today, and throughout history, who have fought for my rights and choices, who have inspired women like Steinem and Stanton and Friedan, and who continue to fulfill and inspire me daily. You know who you are. xoxo

Watch Less, Do More: Cutting Cable TV

Aardvark Manifesto We cut the cord. I thought it would be much more painful than this. We didn’t so much KILL our TV as WOUND it. Though if you tell friends in certain circles that you are giving up cable, you might as well have said that you’ve lost a limb. “But what about sports?” moaned our guy friends, and “What about the news?” cried others. On the flip side, some of my closest pals met this announcement with detailed questions and nods of approval. Essentially, we want to Watch Less, Do More.

It’s been fun to engage people on the topic.  “Losing sports” is not an issue. We’d like to be participants, instead of just spectators. Our kids are on a constant run from practices to games, soccer to baseball and more, I run and do yoga, we hike, and maybe the Mister and I will take up tennis. Not to mention, top athletes continue to disappoint, far from the role models our culture suggests they portray. Instead, we have he has been taking the boys to games at the local high school, where they can watch real athletes play the sports they love. As for news? I never really watched it. I listen to NPR, and read a variety of news online.

LIVE YOUR LIFE.

The point is to re prioritize our time. With cable I could easily mindmeld into Top Chef, Law and Order, Fashion Police, No Reservations, and a heap of other guilty pleasures. You could flip from soccer to football to vintage basketball, but couldn’t avoid the screaming pundits! Later, when I reflect on how I spent my (life)time, I don’t want this to be the chart of accounts. Everything is more intentional now. If I want my Downtown Abbey, I can pay for it on iTunes or wait for it on Netflix. We make a date to watch The Following together. For now, we forgo the indie faves like Girls and Game of Thrones, while movies are a welcome weekend treat. For everything else? Well, we have Hulu+, Netflix streaming, a DVD player and Apple TV. I told you! We just cut cable. I may make my own granola, but I didn't go TOTAL hippie on this one.

Hopeful Side Effects of Mindful Consumption

  1. Better Health. Early to bed, early to rise. My goal is to get up early to meditate, blog, or workout.
  2. Less mindless munch time. Studies show, this goes hand in hand with watching TV. Boo.
  3. More quality time. To spend with my kids, with the Mister, or alone.
  4. More money. For saving. For debt. For braces. For vacations.

And, yes, until I’ve completely weaned myself from pop culture’s delicious pill, I’ll probably be inviting myself over for the major red carpet moments. Keep some bubbles on ice!

Menu Planning in 4 Easy Steps

menuplan-1 One thing I love about Saturdays is Menu Planning. It's a household chore, sure. But I get to sit down and pour over cookbooks, cruise my favorite cooking sites, sip a strong cuppa java, and plan out the next week of meals. Running an efficient household while raising two boys, staying (happily) married and working full-time is no small task. This single strategic step makes everything flow just a little bit easier...here's how:

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1. SUPPLIES

Get organized. One side of our fridge is still magnet friendly, so that's our information hub. Create a spot like this in your kitchen's high traffic zone. Make it PUBLIC so your family (ahem, in my case, the Mister) can add to the shopping list, as well as read up on the week's menu. This avoids the whole "well I already had fish tacos for lunch" issue.

Basics: Paper, Pencil, magnet or tape Advanced: MENU worksheet with grocery list, pencil, magnetic list pad, clipboard, highlighters, Spot-On! Magnetic Hook

2. PREP WORK

A. Maintain a Shopping List. Track your household needs on an as-you-go basis. Out of oats? Write it down. Low on canola oil? Jot that note as SOON as you realize it. It's a total pain in the boot to take pantry inventory or waste time conjuring up the "oh-yeah-I-used-up-the-last-of-the-fill-in-the-blank"  from the past week.

B. Keep a Family Calendar. In this stage of planning I review the coming week...Are we home every night? Anyone out-of-town? Does the Mister have plans? Do I have a work event? Who has what sports and how late? I want to make sure I don't plan to roast a chicken on a night when I'm working late, or have soccer pick up. I need this plan to WORK for me. Not be a source of frustration. If there is a night I have to work late, I map out something the Mister can easily execute, like Corn Dogs + applesauce + steamed broccoli. (My healthy fast version of Corn Dogs =  hot dogs wrapped in corn tortillas).

3. INSPIRATION

Before you get too excited, consider the following:

1. How much time will I need/have? By reviewing your calendar in advance you should be able to set realistic expectations. Clue #1? Save the intermediate level recipes or the "baste-every-hour" roasts for a weekend day. Duh! 2. What new ingredients will this require? Are you willing to source out the ingredients required in that new Indian dish? If so, awesome! Make it an adventure. If not, don't commit to it, and therefore set yourself up for failure or disappointment. 3. Are there any special requests from the family? Make sure to give your kids/hubs a voice, if they would like to contribute.

There are PLENTY of recipe resources out there, but I recommend selecting a few "go-to's" each week (fave cookbooks, mags or websites), and one or two newbies so that you don't get stuck in the inspiration stage. Remember, you still have to implement. Your goal at this point is to have an idea of the kind of

Ask  friends for their  favorites, look at family recipes, mull over magazines. I love looking through cookbooks. Now that I plan my menus, it's much easier to justify the expense of glossy new food porn. Gorge. I always throw a few tried-and-trues into the line up, as I'm not trying to run a test kitchen. That said, I like to pick (at least) one new recipe each week, depending on the busy factor.

My Current Go-To's: Supernatural Everyday (101 Cookbooks Blog) Dinner: A Love Story (Blog) Bon Appetit has a great website. So does Food & Wine and America's Test Kitchen (Heads up: some content is only for paid subscribers). I'm also liking Vegetarian Times, Whole Living...oh! and Cooking Light has made such nice design leaps since I was a newlywed subscriber, that I recommend picking up a hard copy every now and then. Finally, check out Mark Bittman's site, and fittingly, the New York Times Dining & Wine section.

Weekly Menu

4. IMPLEMENTATION

Yay! It's time to map it all out. I made myself a Menu Plan Worksheet that divides the paper into two major sections...Left side, MENU items, Right side, GROCERY LIST. Do it however works best for you. Or download mine here: Weekly Menu.

A. Before you start filling it in, there are some key considerations: Is it well Balanced? Omnivores at heart, we are focused on creating more meatless meals. Got Fish? Let's hear it for lean protein and omega 3s! Special Events? Am I on the hook to bring a dessert to Bunco? School Snacks? Are we low on granola bars?

B. MAKE YOUR PLAN I usually write in the main dish and the side(s) so I don't have to think about it. Write down any special ingredients you'll need onto the grocery list section.

C. Transfer any current "to buy" items from your ongoing fridge list to the grocery list (menu planner sheet).

D. Go shopping and make great food!

CONGRATULATIONS! You've just made the coming week SO MUCH easier. And true confessions...this stuff changes, you know? So if you get invited over to your neighbor's house for brats, you go with it. And ax the plan for that night, or sub it for another night. It's way easier to have too much scheduled than nothing at all.

Mahalo!

Let's Do This! Running to Race, Racing to Run

32170426_PeFmt7fb_c AS MUCH AS IT PAINS ME to expose my personal/physical goals, I know that making such public statements enhances their probability of success. I came close to calling this "A Quarterly Commitment to Mark Miles + Drop Pounds" but just couldn't do it. Yuck. Yawn. Bleh.

What I want to know is...how do you prioritize exercise? We're all BUSY. Working Moms? MotherRunners? What INSPIRES you? What MOVES you? Also...What are your biggest challenges in fitness? in food?

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Since training for a marathon (which I did to the letter, solo) I've kind of lost my discipline.  Mainly because I can "cheat". While the 26.2 had me scared serious, now I could run a 15k without much training. I'm getting lazy. But in 2013 I'm stepping it up (without the 26.2 sacrifices--friends, family, toenails). This year I'm committed to a program of four half marathons with a healthy sampling of 5, 10 and 15ks. I signed up for the La Jolla Half Marathon, April 28, #2 in the Triple Crown Series (Carlsbad Half Marathon, La Jolla Half Marathon, America's Finest City(AFC)). I've already completed Carlsbad, in August it's AFC, and in November it's Silver Strand.

I'm inspired by other athletes, and I like to be a role model for my kids. I'm at my best when I get up early to run, and I feel like a total badass when I swing a kettlebell and do box rock jumps in my backyard. I use Runkeeper to track my workouts, and honestly I love seeing the numbers add up. On the flip side, I'm using LoseIt! to track food. Yes, I like data. Numbers. Stats. And while I'm strong and athletic-ish, I can only imagine the impact when I focus on BOTH goals at the same time. Yes! Let's DO this!

A Vote of Confidence (Or Shut Up, I Think You Are Gorgeous)

ShutUp One of the things that makes us all human is the need for approval, reassurance, respect, perhaps even a little adoration. The craving for this can ebb and flow, dependent upon our own ego-boosting magic and our susceptibility to the critics (both real and imaginary).

HEY, YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY Today I ate lunch at my desk, plowed through some documents and took off for a run mid-work day to ease off leftover leg cramps from Sunday's half marathon. I only half baked this idea, since I was too lazy to get up at 6 and do it before work, which means I didn't really pack a full change of clothes (read: underwear) and there is NO way to shower. And I still had an important meeting to attend. Gross. I know. Anywhoooo...after a quick change and a perfume spritz I made a pit stop at the coffee cart to fuel up pre-summit. And guess how I was greeted? "Hey pretty lady! What would you like?" Okay, I do see these guys a few days a week. Do they always greet me like this? No. Actually, never. But today it came at the right time. Right place. I felt GOOD. It made me happy. It gave me a little boost. And who couldn't use a boost?

On the flip side, I've seen some slouching shoulders and heavy heads lately...kids and grown ups alike. It can be a few missed goals on the soccer field, a condescending colleague, a warped work culture. I've seen some (sick) people thrive on tapping this vulnerability in others. Hell, we sometimes perpetuate it ourselves. Seeing this happen so close to home really touches a nerve, and I'm committed to being more conscious of it. Try these on...

CONFIDENCE BOOSTERS (ie. Be the change you want to see in the world.)

• Each day give out one to two (genuine) compliments. Make one be to a complete stranger (those really carry a heavy weight!).

• At the dinner table, instead of highs and lows take turns saying one thing you really admire about the person next to you.

• "Surprise text" a friend or loved one when you think of something special/cool/amazing that REMINDS you of them. Confidence by association!

• Let your kids wear clothes that make them feel good. Even if the combination horrifies you, and you are truly embarrassed by this expression of poor taste, they need to learn for themselves what is accepted or unaccepted by peers, then decide if they want to conform. I said, IF they want to conform.

• Being acknowledged for your appearance may feel FANtastic when you've just celebrated a post-40 birthday. But do young girls (or boys) need this kind of weary praise? Let's give kudos for kindness, or applause for acumen instead.

The other day I was in a building I rarely visit and in the ladies room there was a framed sign that read: "You look particularly great today." And damned if it didn't make me stand a little taller, and think to myself, 'Yes, yes you do.'

Mahalo Mondays: Grateful for a Holiday

ImageI'm not going to lie and tell you I watched the President's second inauguration this morning. Or that I took time to educate my boys on the historical impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (though the day is not over, and I still have an opportunity during tonight's "Table Topics"). Let me tell you that I spent a portion of this day being totally self indulgent. Yes, today was a FREE DAY as we call it in our house, and Free Days are golden. Now Saturday and Sunday are Free Days, of course, but these bonus weekday holidays are more like platinum. Usually we don't have sports scheduled at this time. No doctor or dentist appointments, no mandatory family gatherings, and in theory, we've already done our chores. In theory. Last night the boys slept over at my parents, giving me a head start on this freebie by going to a movie with my girlfriend (Silver Linings Playbook). This morning, the Mister took off for work, and left me in bed, dozey and crampy. I laid around a bit, made coffee, got a bowl of dried cereal and hopped back into bed with both to promptly watch three episodes of The Mindy Project on my iPad. SIDE NOTE: Do you not LOVE Mindy Kaling? This show is like Sex and the City meets Mary Tyler Moore meets The Office with a hint of Grey's Anatomy. Just enough clever, quirky, smart, sexy, charming. FUNNY.

Got out of bed after 9AM (SHOCK! AWE!) and got my running duds on just in time for the boys to come home. Off to basketball (them) and a run (me). Later we went the thrift store, grocery shopping and treated ourselves to frozen yogurt and coffee (me, not them). I ignored a bunch of could do, should do, need to do chores, and sat down to write this up. Me blogging, them iTouching.

Indulgent yes, irresponsible, not really. The joy of being lazy is so rich, and so worth it.

It's a New Day

I'm always a bit delayed on my New Year's Goals...I give myself until January 26th, my birthday, to set the wheels in motion. Also, from Thanksgiving until about now I've been in a bit of a funk. Today I really felt the energy of the new year and wanted to grab it and run (which I did, 11 miles baby!). Between now and my birthday I'm going to lay out a few simple resolutions (in no particular order), and I'm phrasing them in the most productive, positive way possible.

2013 Resolution

"At the end of this year I'd like to feel like I followed through on the commitments I've made to both people and projects."

First in order? To thank and honor the super cool Liebster Award I was given by Go Mama O!

Liebster-Award

Facts of the Liebster Award

The Liebster Award’s origins are pretty much a mystery. Bloggers nominate other bloggers that have 200 or less followers. It’s basically a “Hey, that’s a sweet little blog you’ve got there. Here’s an award!” You can’t just accept the award. You have to play by the (ever-changing) rules and pay it forward. Then you can put the award on your blog for all to see.

The Rules:

1. List 5 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 5 questions given to you. (My 5 questions for each of the 5 nominated blogs are near the bottom of this post!)
3. Create 5 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 5 worthy bloggers to nominate. (At the very bottom of this post you will find the links!)
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. (see the intro of this post!)
5 Facts about Me:
1. I was a total asthmatic klutz as a kid and now I consider myself athletic.
2. I can sing/rap every lyric to Rob Bass and DJ EZ Rock's It Takes Two.
3. I absolutely loved the era of my life when my sole function was to get up at 5 AM to make coffee and get paid for it.
4. I write ad copy in my head and daydream tweets, t-shirt slogans, and headlines that will never be seen.
5. My friends and colleagues think I'm totally organized but I often feel like a lazy, chaotic procrastinator.
Go Mama O's 5 Questions:
  1. You gain 30 minutes of free time. What do you choose to do? I am a total magazine whore. Instead of trying to clean something, fold laundry or something so productive I would sit down and pour over WIRED, Sunset, Women's Health, Vogue, Elle Decor, Vegetarian Times, you name it.
  2. What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Much of my family heritage is English, and we break out the Christmas crackers at our Christmas Eve feast. My aunt and cousins make them, and each one has silly little trinkets and candy. This year we were all treated to fake gnarly teeth, paper crowns, jingle bell necklaces and a custom "would you rather" question to answer out loud at the table.
  3. Name one person who inspires you. This is so difficult. Okay, Virginia Woolf. Honestly, I think she was such a rock star. Totally independent, bright, curious, brilliant.
  4. What’s your favorite type of cheese? Oh god really? I have to PICK? Shoot. Drunken Goat from Spain. I also love Blue Camembert. And the real deal Parmegiano Reggiano.
  5. What do you like most about social media or writing a blog? I love that you can make meaningful connections with other people across the country, across the globe, that you have never met before.

My Five Questions for You 1. If you could pick a theme song for yourself, what would it be? Imagine the opening credits in the movie of YOU, or when you walk out into the ring for the biggest fight of your life... 2. What one quote/saying inspires you consistently? 3. You've been given $10,000 to donate to any one (non-profit) cause. Where do you invest? 4. If you could own one piece of art from any major museum what would it be? 5. What do you consider to be your most brilliant asset?

My Liebster Nominees – Check these ladies out!

http://breakthelookingglass.wordpress.com/ http://relishthejourney.net/ http://notdifferentbutinteresting.wordpress.com/ http://leoniecumiskey.com/ http://clarecooks.wordpress.com/

Thanks again Mama O!

Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

yoshimi-battles-the-pink-robots-la-jolla-playhouse-review-28748 I saw Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots tonight at La Jolla Playhouse after rave reviews from my friends, and of course, because the music is by The Flaming Lips. Despite my interest in seeing a high tech performance featuring some of my fave alt music, I had recently absolved myself of going to the theatre. I had gotten to the point where I was purely going to plays and performances because I thought I should. I thought it was SO me. Arts lovin' culture maven musicphile. What? Boring.

As a kid I went to the Guthrie in Minneapolis, in my 20s I experienced American Player's Theatre in the romantic prairie setting of Spring Green, Wisconsin. I even framed my whole 30th birthday around a trip to NYC to see The Producers. In San Diego I've had my share of The Old Globe and the Playhouse. I've been to the Opera! Whatever. I was OVER IT. It was time for me to Be Sarah, the Sarah who falls asleep mid-act-one and wants to duck out during intermission.

Until now. Yoshimi was lovely and amazing. Fresh and futuristic. Heartbreaking yet joyful. The artistic direction took my breath away, and I didn't even nod off once. I can't say I'm back in the game for good. But I will tell you that it was worth it. And that it really was ME, from the inside out.

The Impact of Parenthood

IMG_2752 All week I've been in a funk. Blame it on the full moon, lunar eclipse, post-holiday blues, WHATever. It's a funk, and I don't mean in a good 70's James Brown sort of way. When asked by the hubs what my problem was, I listed the following: I'm working just to get a paycheck, I haven't exercised all week, I'm not doing anything creative, and I'm tired. His reply? "That's called Parenthood."

The whole reason I re-started my blog was to be explore and appreciate life's daily drill, and to remind myself that really, THIS is enough. But is it? I got teary at Thanksgiving when the Mister gave thanks for our two boys. Yeah, humble brag, I think they are awesome, and smart, and athletic and (mostly polite) if not a little quirky. I actually LOVE being a parent. I feel totally devoted to being a parent to these two little charmers, and together we have made this our top priority. But with some sacrifices too. We both work 9-5s (with flexibility) and we carefully juggle all of the school and sport responsibilities like so many other families out there. But are all you parents fulfilled by this? If you work outside the home, do you LOVE your job as much as you LOVE being a parent? If not, then what? How do you MAKE the time for the other parts of your life that need to be nourished? It's hella hard, and I'm taking it one day at a time.

Mahalo Mondays: Kauai

I missed the boat on the whole daily gratitude phenomenon that often happens in the month of November. It's a great idea, sure. But I'm not that disciplined. That's why I'm launching Mahalo Mondays-- a weekly post to chronicle my thankfulness. Mahalo means more than just 'thank you'. At its core Mahalo is a divine blessing of gratitude and thanksgiving. When used, it calls for authenticity and thoughtfulness. I'm grateful to have experienced Mahalo, thanks to a family member who provides us a place to stay on the island of Kauai.

This tropical isle has given us sunwashed salty memories--fresh fish, warm sand, easyrelaxation. After our first trip we adopted a simple "Mahalo" as our family dinner blessing. It's heartfelt simplicity suits us, and even if we've hollered our way to the table, serves as a gentle reminder of our best times together.

This Thanksgiving we'll add our island toast to the family blessing, and maybe sneak in Somewhere Over the Rainbow, by IZ.

Apple of My Eye

On genetics and sportsmanship...

I swear there is a genetic trait for competitiveness. I've not been able to confirm this, and only if my twins had been separated at birth and raised by monkeys would I actually be able to prove this on my own. So, I'm going on instinct. Hear me out.

Case in Point

APPLE:

Beck competes with his twin brother Max (and 100+ other 3d grade boys) at their first cross country track meet. M places 7th, B places 10th. B cries his little eyeballs out after making it through the chute. Why? Not because his brother beat him, but because he placed LAST in the top 10. Really? Yes, really. It took about an hour to convince him that it was indeed a stellar performance and yes, there is always room for improvement. Next year he can strive to do better.  Where did such high expectations come from? We were just thrilled that he finished.

TREE:

Running has been a sporadic exercise outlet in my adult life, and I've run an array of races over the past 20 years. That said, I've probably never run the same one twice, and I couldn't tell you what time I finished a 10k in at age 25. NOW, I seem to be obsessed by my data, stats and figures, totally nerding out on the details of my workouts. Last weekend I ran a half marathon for the second year in a row. And I had a GOAL. I wanted to beat my time from last year (2:09). I ran my ass off, and tracked it via Runkeeper on my iPhone. The whole time I was averaging a 9:30ish pace, so upon reading the results that I came in at 2:07 (instead of 2:06) I had a FIT. Like a tantrum fit. My dad and hubs were like, "it's only a 1% difference! what's the big deal?" and then--uh oh, "what is your problem? you're acting like Beck".

Unfortunately, my little apple does not fall far from this tree. As much as we try to model an ideal set of behaviors, and communicate realistic expectations we simply cannot expect our children to do as we say and not as we do. I recognize that these patterns lie deep within us, carried from one generation to the next. Can they be changed? As gentle as we treated Beck that day, expressing our great love and support, perhaps I need to do the same for myself. Oh, and for the record...I read the results wrong. I DID finish in 2:06.

Behold America!

Image In my former work life I was Mrs. Museum. For nearly 10 years I was vocationally married to The San Diego Museum of Art. Though we've since broken up (perfectly amicably--"it's me, not you!") my heart remains firmly planted in this space. Staying connected with this museum has not been difficult--I'm deeply invested in the relationships I developed while there, and consistently look forward to rekindling those flames. While I've carried lasting friendships, I do miss the daily dose of beauty--walking through galleries and getting 1:1 time with Stella, Rivera, Cotán, Avery, Matisse and more.

To get my museum fix now, I pop in at random, and try to attend exhibition openings whenever possible. I've also maintained my membership in the Gallery. For last night's premiere event for Behold America! I wrangled another Gallery member, my pal Kim, to be my art date. WE HAD A BLAST. This totally unique collaboration among SDMA, the Timken and MCASD was breathtaking. How cool to see John Currin's The Hobo next to Robert Henri's Bernadita, Cindy Sherman and Eastman Johnson, John Baldessari and John Singleton Copley. The juxtaposition of contemporary and old masters continues to thrill me. Over at the Timken, which is a total gem, we died over this same combination of old and new, and gave special Instagram attention to the 60's era architecture and gallery wall coverings.

I Gotta Be Me

Image

Ever since reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, I've been simmering on one of her "commandments". Be Gretchen. The idea is simple, but it was refreshing to hear a personal account of this awful human habit of forcing ourselves to be/like/do things that are simply inauthentic, for the sake of (perceived) approval and acceptance

In the wave of this new appreciation for BEING SARAH, I had to post this pic of model Abbey Lee Kershaw, with gorgeous pink ends. I started changing the color of my hair when I was 13, much to the horror of my mother. For a while it was the L'Oreal color mousse, then I moved to hydrogen peroxide and Sun In (welcome to the '80s!). But for years, I've wanted to have some pink in my hair. Unfortunately, my 9-5 would not appreciate this application of authenticity. Still, there are many more ways to keep true to myself and the lyrics from this little diddy, Hit or Miss by Odetta, serves as a soulful reminder.

Sitting here All by myself Trying to be Everybody else

Can't you see I gotta be me Ain't nobody just like this I gotta be me Baby hit or miss

Sarah's Commandment #1. I Gotta Be Me

Power of Positive Thinking

Image I firmly believe that our thoughts and passions (for better or worse) can be channeled to fruition. However that does not mean I live my life passively, depending solely on optimism, visualization, magic spells and meditation. I'm ready to grab it, and take action, with the following rules guiding my steps:

  • Think positively.

Yes! Think and act with optimism and gratitude, and you will attract the good stuff. The opposite is true if you are negative, bitter, and trapped in your ego.

  • Believe in magic.

BELIEVE. Have faith in what you cannot see.

  • Work hard.

You cannot be lazy and passive. You must act and be proactive. Good things DON'T just happen to those who WAIT. Are you kidding me? Get up.

  • Play well with others.

We need to love our families, respect our neighbors, adore our friends, and tolerate our enemies. It works. The nicer you are, the more amazing the results. I know sometimes it hurts. But try it.

  • Document your dreams.

Write it down. Yes, a vision board is lovely, but it's been proven to me time and again, writing stuff down is so important. Did you know it's been scientifically shown that WRITING your goals (dreams and desires!) contributes greatly to their actualization. This works in combination with accountability and commitment. Shocking! right? Okay, now grab a buddy and get on program.