It's ok if...

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Real quick, in case you're waiting for permission, I hereby declare that it's ok if:

  • Your baby/toddler doesn't sleep through the night
  • You're not as interested in dropping those last few pounds of baby weight as you thought you'd be by now
  • You breastfeed your 14-month-old 
  • ...but you wish you could wear regular, non-nursing bras again
  • You can't imagine having another baby yet
  • You haven't taken a romantic vacation away with your husband since the baby
  • You don't enforce a strict schedule at home like the internet says you should
  • You are ready for bed by 9pm
  • You are both addicted to and paralyzed by to-do lists
  • You don't daydream of staying home full-time with your baby
  • You spend too much time on Instagram
  • You're worried your blog is going to turn into a mommy blog
  • You are ready to donate 75% of your pre-baby wardrobe
  • You are grateful for a wonderful daycare but your heart still hurts a tiny bit when you drop your baby off in the morning
  • You are happy and tired and grateful but sometimes quite whiny
  • You still try to control everything, even though you can't

And, of course, it's ok if the opposite of these things are true for you. It's all ok, and you're ok and you look nice today even though that dress doesn't fit quite the way it used to but it's hugging those mom curves and there's something kind of nice about that. Grab a cider doughnut and make this week a good one :)

The warmth

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If you live in the Northeast or any other cold part of the country/world, this can be a tough time of year. Temperatures are regularly in the single digits or below freezing. There are official warnings to stay indoors. Cabin fever sets in and, if you're like me, a bit of guilt over your winter-induced laziness. Factor in the likelihood of catching a seasonal cold or the flu and we've got the makings of a full-blown pity party. So grab some comfort food and give yourself a few moments of pity, but then you must snap out of it.

On days like this, I need to remind myself that warmth is enough. I bring my gratitude practice right down to the bare basics, starting with being so grateful for my warm house and cozy fireplace, for having a car to get me places and enough warm clothes to keep me safe and bundled up. Some weeks, this is the most creative I can get with my gratitude, even though I could fill books with all of the things I am thankful for.

But right now, I'm grateful to be warm.

I'm reading Woodswoman, the first of a few memoirs that Annie LaBastille wrote about living alone in the Adirondacks. Annie begins her story in the heart of Adirondack winter as Annie's respect for the season's harshness grows with every adventure and narrow miss. I read it from the comfort of our bed or from beneath an afghan on the couch. And I come back to the realization that, sometimes, the warmth is enough. It's enough to be warm and safe right now.

There's a different rhythm to the season, that's for sure. I can write all day long about the need to embrace it, to celebrate it as a time for retreat and reflection, but when it comes to everyday practice, I'm falling short. So here's to staying warm! To thinking warmly about others and ourselves. To knitting and hot toddies and thick socks! To the days finally getting longer- it's 5:19pm and still a little bright out!

waking up


When my alarm went off this morning, I was tired. I slept in for another ten minutes or so and then had my usual debate about whether or not to get out of bed or to just keep sleeping. It's frequently a tough call. I can make a really convincing case for needing more sleep. I'll think, "Well Christine, you have a tough day ahead and you'll feel more prepared if you sleep another 20 minutes." I'll use this excuse regardless of how much sleep I already got that night. Flimsy excuse, I'll admit.

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”
— Lemony Snicket 

Here's the thing:  I like the morning time. I love being awake early, whether to get a start on my day or to just sit and stare out the window for a few minutes. Mornings are great! But, so is sleeping. I'd really rather wake up early and get going than toss and turn in bed until my snooze alarm goes off. Without seeking to add another element of stress to the day, here are some ways I'd like to spend my mornings.

Running. There's no better time to run. The air is crisp, the streets are quiet and you can get a few miles in before your brain even realizes what your body is doing. At the risk of sounding like a women's fitness magazine writer, squeezing in a run or walk or workout in the morning sets up your whole day for greatness. It helps me shake out, stretch, breathe deeper and get the blood flowing. I feel accomplished and badass when I run in the morning. After I run, I tend to choose healthier foods, because on those mornings I've convinced myself I am a mega wellness warrior so I smugly make my smoothie and put together my veggie-loaded lunch. And then when I get home from a long day? I've already ran. I can just relax! Maybe make a fancy cocktail! Endless non-running possibilities.

Newspaper-reading. We don't subscribe to a newspaper, so I mostly catch up on goings-ons on my computer at work. I would hate all of the paper waste if we had one delivered each morning, but I do like the romantic idea of settling down at the breakfast counter with my paper and mug of coffee. In lieu of flipping through a daily paper, maybe I should catch up on some magazine reading? (If you're a longtime reader, you may remember how The Economist magazine tried to kill me? Yes? Well I still haven't re-subscribed for fear of being buried alive by pile of unread mags, but maybe now is the time? Or maybe I'll just get the New Yorker and call it a day.)

Coffee-drinking. I don't drink coffee every day. Most days, I guess, but then there will be a week or two where I don't touch the stuff. In the winter, I suspect I drink more coffee because I like the ritual and the smell and the warmth. When I do have morning coffee, I usually take it with me to work, with the idea that it's a nice slice of comfort to bring to the office. But wouldn't it be nicer to actually focus on that mug of java at home, while it's still warm and not just an afterthought? I think so. Here's to drinking coffee out of beautiful clay mugs at home instead of out of a travel tumbler under fluorescent lights.

Meditating. So far, this hasn't seemed a compelling enough reason to get out of bed for me. I have the best intentions. I have my meditation pillow and altar set up, waiting for me to get with the program. But it's too close to sleeping. I want to be a morning meditator, I really do. But I always think, "Ok, I'll just lie here and meditate in bed. Under the covers. In the dark. With my eyes closed." And, well, you can imagine how well that goes. Any tips? Maybe if I combine this with something else... a cup of coffee then 10 minutes on the meditation cushion. Running meditation. Quick fridge pickling up my CSA cucumbers and meditation. Make it a combo deal.

Some mornings, I take care of business. Maybe I'll tinker around on our deck to see what harm the squirrels have done, or prep ingredients for that night's dinner, or bake something. These mornings usually start out wonderfully and end up with me being late to work. I'm not quite organized enough to be that productive in the mornings and I usually take on more than I should. So I'm looking for good uses of the early hours that don't add to the busy-ness of the day.

Are you a morning person? Is waking up easy for you? Do you even use an alarm? What do you do all morning? I'm lucky because I usually don't arrive to work until 8:30 and I have a six-minute commute! So I have plenty of time to wake up early, but I don't absolutely have to. Let's talk about morning routines, shall we?

Photo by Ali Harper via Once Wed. (Note: This looks nothing like our bedroom. Ours is a dark, dark dungeon that makes it an epic struggle of willpower to wake up at all.)

our neighborhood


Our neighborhood is pretty great. This past Sunday, while Chris was running, I walked around the corner to our local tea shop & vegan cafe to read a bit while sipping on an iced organic peach white tea.

 
On my two-minute walk back, I spotted the flower market and decided to get myself a pretty bouquet for our apartment. The sun was shining, the breeze was unseasonably warm and it was just enough to shake me out of my winter blues for the day.

I love our neighborhood.
Later on, we opted against creating a bunch of dirty dishes for ourselves and made the familiar trek to one of our most favorite restaurants, the Mexican joint just a few blocks away. We feasted and, on the walk home, wondered how many times we had made that exact trip. How many times we had walked through our neighborhood with bellies full of enchiladas and tortilla chips. We calculated... many times.

Whenever we move out of this 'hood, I'll surely miss it like crazy. 

On the other hand, it will be nice to not start every morning in a panic because I've forgotten where I parked my car last night. Really, every morning I stand on my stoop and feverishly try to remember where I parked that thing. A driveway would be a really good thing for someone like me. Less room in which to lose a car.

Updated: A few more photos of our 'hood here.

2011, looking back & looking forward


Another year has come and gone. Unlike those anti-resolutionists out there, I love love love making new year's goals and lists and plans. I typically do a lot of that planning on my birthday, but I like the crisp break that a new calendar year brings. Right now, though, I feel like I'm just trying to keep my head above water. Just swimming along, taking it all one day at a time and whittling away at what needs to be done. It took me days just to write this recap, and so the thought of listing out a year's worth of new challenges and projects  feels like the wrong move today. I came up with a few ongoing priorities that I want to continue to keep in mind, and that feels good enough to me. Now let's just take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

2011 was a better year for me than 2010. Last year I was featured in Martha Stewart's Whole Living magazinecut my hair off and got a new job. I spoke at a conference in Atlanta, frolicked around Portland, spent a night in Old Montreal & ate my way through the NYC Wine and Food Festival. I also ran a few races- a 5K15K & something around a 10K. Our tiny kitchen came in second place in the rental category in a national Small, Cool Kitchens contest and a few months later I bought a huge, crazy blender to put it in. I saw some great live music. I read 22 books and approximately one million magazines. This summer, I spent many of my Saturdays helping out at a bakery and then napping outside in the park. Though I don't write about it here, a lot of great things happened professionally for me in 2011. Because yes, as I must remind people, I have a full-time job that doesn't involve baking quiches or photographing my dinners.

On a personal note, last September my family lost someone who we loved very much, my Nan. When I finally figure out how to adequately tell you about her and what she means to me, I will.

2011 was a year of food. I sewed, knit & crocheted less and cooked more, although I'm trying to find a better DIY balance this year. We joined a community-supported bakery and a community-supported agriculture program. I became a new contributor to two food-focused blogs, my dear From Scratch Club and the ShopRite Potluck blog. With the support of my FSC soul sistahs, I jumped into the world of food swapping, super small-batch canning, pickling, cheesemaking and kombucha-brewing. Chris volunteered at organic farms in Nova Scotia. I detoxed and experimented with eliminating certain foods in January and again in November, feeling really awesome after each and gaining a new understanding of which foods make me feel good and which ones make me feel... not good. With our deepening interest in food- where it comes from, what it does for us, how to prepare it- came a shift in the focus of this blog. I hope you've enjoyed taking the journey with me and learning along with us as we go. If there's anything you want me to try out so you can learn from my mistakes, just let me know. I'm here for you, peeps.

Last year I wanted to make our own bread, do more yoga, stop whining, floss more, be more patient and relaxed, cut out high fructose corn syrup, run faster, and simplify. I did pretty well at most of those. What are your goals for the year? Big or small, tell me about them. One of my goals is actually to figure out how to start a better two-way dialogue in this space, so I'm not just talking at you all the time :) Cheers to 2012! Later this week I'll share the top posts from last year as well as a few underdog favorites.