Thursday, July 26, 2012

balance. harumph.


It was yesterday afternoon, in the middle of a conversation with my mom, when I realized: I am failing at balance. Epically. 

We were walking and chatting, and I found myself telling her that I hadn't been writing at all lately--not a blog post, a journal say nothing of short stories or chapters. Since writing is such a big (well, ideally big) part of my life, to not be practicing it at all--and to say that out loud--gave me pause.

In the midst of a busy summer semester, I feel like my hair is on fire (a slow burn, but still there's smoke). And yet, I persist in avoiding the word "no." I don't say it to others. I don't say it to myself.  Not just not agreeing to things...but not inventing extra things for myself to do, at the expense of all that I want to do, the stuff that feeds my soul, that I usually "leave 'till last" or "get to when all my 'work' is done." These days, it seems like it's never done, because I like to fill needs. I "see" a need, I want to fill it. A good thing, I think, usually--the Sunday School needs a Christmas program organizer. A friend needs some company. A student needs extra help on a paper. A food bank needs donations. A mentee needs to talk.


As a very wise woman--a pioneer missionary in the Amazon jungle--once advised me: "the world is full of need, and if you try to meet it all, you'll go crazy!"

And, probably, feel defeated all the time. Or frustrated. Or thwarted. My plans always look so lovely and clear. (except for when I make them, forgetting OTHER plans that conflict, or not anticipating the something that will pop up and scramble things...) If my plans could ever actually be executed, I am convinced I could meet the needs of THE WORLD!!!

Or, maybe not. Maybe not much more than those I actually struggle to meet right now. I am really so, so small, and the universe is wide and wondrous. So, where can we find balance?

Well, I don't think there is a "magic formula" that I can recite, write or practice. I've already tried several--time "diets," new journaling schemes, new planners and ways to write in them.

Another wise woman I know--a colleague and friend in the office next door to mine--said to me once, "it's all about the little choices." And I feel the truth of that, more than I've ever felt truth in any one of my ten-step-balance-plans.

The older I get, the better I come to know myself. I know, for example, that I'm effusive and encouraging, ambitious and determined. I can be stoic, self-sacrificing, social, and very goal-oriented. I think that is why I expect to decide to be more balanced, and then look for a general "balanced" feeling to be swathed around my life like a soft blanket. Balance is a big word, one that I've obviously not mastered yet. And contrary to my expectations, it doesn't blanket my life. But "self" and "care" are littler words. So is "rest." So is "tea."

"Let" and "go."

It was a little choice to leave work a bit early yesterday, so I could work out with my mom. It was a little choice to let her take a commitment off my schedule for me. It was a little choice to hold my tongue when my pride wanted me to argue. To put away my planner. To make myself a cup of tea.

I do not think I will ever master this whole balance thing. Honestly, I'm too tired to try to "work on it" or "start a plan" to boost it any time soon. One thing I will say, though, is that I'm ready to make some little choices, to take small steps. I'm going to try to focus on the little words for now.

What about you? Do you feel balanced? How do you maintain balance in your life?

Monday, July 2, 2012

happy july!

image source
Hello, friends and happy July! I am back after an extended early-summer break:) Sorry to have left you hanging...we embarked our trip in a whirlwind, and right when we got back promptly got really sick. Twice.

But, now we are well and getting back into the swing of things. I just started teaching a couple summer classes, and Jake is clearing out his school studio, and we're both psyched to enjoy a slower summer pace. As I ease back into my little blog space, you might want to check out these fun links:

--Em from hiphipgingin posted this perfect list. (what do you think? I agree with everything on it!)

--Alli over at hooray posted about this sweet date night.

--I'm excited for these July Events.

...and wouldn't you love to throw (or attend) a backyard movie party? With the heat climbing in the daytime, it would be the perfect temperature for lounging at night!

What about you? Do you have any fun July plans?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

book talk: style parisian

So, what with our trip coming up soon, I've been mildly totally obsessed with planning (and of course, packing)! My mom lent me this book to help me with inspiration:

It has been so much fun to flip through, and I feel as if I've gleaned so much wisdom from Ines (yes, we're on a first-name basis now). Since it's been in my possession I've been trying to gather/buy/find The Magnificent Seven pieces Ines lists in the book for my travel wardrobe:

1. A Man’s Blazer
2. The Trench
3. The Navy (cashmere) Sweater
4. The Tank
5. The Little Black Dress
6. The Perfect Jeans
7. The Leather Jacket

 So far, I've got the Trench, the Tank, and the Blazer (of sorts).

Still on the lookout for the Navy Sweater, and I'm perpetually on the quest for the Perfect Jeans.

Also, I'm on the hunt for basically this entire outfit! I love the dress/sweater combo...but that BAG. I'm determined to find a cross-body-strap-with-handle camel-colored satchel (for, of course, a budget-friendly price!). Think it can't be done? Challenge accepted.

Told you I was obsessed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spain and France or bust!!

Friends, I am bursting with excitement--we're going to Europe in May!!! I mentioned this in a passing gratitude the other day, but I wanted to fill you in on the whole, lovely story.

As you know, I turned the big 3-0 this year, and was wracking my brains on how to celebrate. Well, on the day of my birthday, I had to drive four and a half hours back from a conference (meh). Once I got home, however, I was ready to settle in for an evening of birthday bliss.

My mom had dropped off dinner and goodies...

...and Jake cleaned and heated up dinner while I sipped champagne (and frantically finished a last-minute project for work!) 

After dinner: birthday cheese, more champagne and gifts! Jake got me Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and surprised me with a proposal...

...let's go! (and of course, I said "yes")

We will be leaving in May, after my semester ends and Jake's thesis and the undergraduate class he's teaching wrap up. We're planning to visit Madrid, Granada, Tarifa, Tangier, Seville, Barcelona, Provence and--of course--Paris. I'm over the moon! Any suggestions for us??

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meatless Monday: keep it simple

Hey friends! Happy Monday!

Just look at this gorgeous salad. It's got it all: fresh veggies, lentils, barley, and my fav--goat cheese! Definitely making this, this week:)

What about you? Any fun meatless recipes you're trying this week?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Five Gratitudes

Ah, what a week. Getting back into the swing of things after my brain-lapse last week! My pile of projects-to-grade is down by two thirds. Today is sunny, and fully, freshly spring. Trees are blooming all over the place, and wind is brisk, but not bone-chilling. And I'm smiling. (I hope you are, too!)

Here's what I'm grateful for today:

1. This song has been my jam all day--perfect for a sunny day in the city--and I'm grateful for that.

2. I'm grateful for poetry. Most especially (today) the poetry of this sweet-hipster-looking-dude, Ezra Pound. For example:

Love thou thy dream 
All base love scorning, 
Love thou the wind 
And here take warning 
That dreams alone can truly be, 
For 'tis in dream I come to thee.

3. I'm grateful that I get to hang out with my friend, Jamica, tonight! (and we're going here, which looks like a really cool pub with delicious sounding food-yay!)

4. I'm grateful for this dancing polar bear, that brought an instant smile to my face:)(and this amazing article, which made me laugh out loud!)

5. And, last but certainly not least, I'm grateful for napping. Since it is the weekend (and a holiday at that), I am looking forward to doing some major napping--before, and hopefully after, a lovely family dinner.

I do hope you can get a nap in, too!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What to Wear to Work

Hey all! Check out my guest post for Whitney over at her teacher-fashion blog Between the Lines. She has a really refreshing, honest voice and posts lots of creative "real-life" outfits that she puts together. I was excited and really flattered that she asked me to participate in her weekly feature, "Women who Work." I got to share some pics of outfits I've put together for teaching, as well as answer some interesting questions about fashion and my job. So check out my answers and outfits, and give Whitney some love!
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