The new girl in town

Downtown_Encinitas,_California

It’s been a little over two weeks since we moved to Cali. We left the hustling bustling city of Chicago to move to the small beach town, Encinitas. The population here is 60,000. There is a small “downtown” with a strip of shops, cafes, and restaurants. My first week here I went downtown to have lunch and dig into my school work. The restaurant I ate at had an amazing array of organic, gluten, and dairy free food options yet no internet. I decided to eat and write and enjoy my lunch. Afterwards, I ventured down the street to a coffee shop where I got the most delicious chai tea latte. I settled into my seat, opened my computer and wrestled with my internet for ten minutes. After exhausting every option that I could think of, I looked at the guy sitting next to me and asked if his was working. Turns out the internet was down that day. Apparently the internet is a wide spread issue here. Some coffee shops intentionally don’t offer it. The other ones, you have a 50/50 chance of it actually working.

In some ways being here is like going back in time 20 years. There is a magical quality to the people and area that is difficult to describe. It has the same vibe as Byron Bay, Australia or Tulum, Mexico if you have been to either of those places. Essentially, they are places that carry a lot of positive energy that becomes contagious in the best sort of way.

Last Thursday night Chris and I ventured “downtown” for a date night. We stumbled upon the monthly Encinitas community night. The streets were filled with old show cars, music, and smiling faces. We ended up at a vegan restaurant, Eve, that we had been told about by Chris’s friend. We ate delicious food, drank kombucha, and met at least a dozen people. We were greeted with hugs instead of handshakes. We found the people we met to be very open, welcoming, and stimulating. Instead of discussing careers, we were asked what we did for service, and what our creative outlets were. We had truly interesting conversations and I found myself lost in the energy of the people around me. Not once in three hours did I look at or even wonder what time is was. The only time that it occurred to me that maybe we should go home was when one of our new friends told us goodbye and said, she was “putting herself to bed”. I left that night buzzing, but not by alcohol. Unlike any typical night out in Chicago, alcohol wasn’t even present. The restaurant was totally “dry”, offering only water, smoothies, and fermented beverages.

I honestly can’t remember a night in my adult life where I had more fun without having a single cocktail. Sad as it may sound, the only times that I went out and didn’t drink was when I was either A. pregnant or B. consciously deciding to take a break. I found it to be uplifting and encouraging to be able to have such a good time in the absence of alcohol.

To me this is just part of getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Things are different here. Typically different makes me squeamish with fear. Slowly I can feel myself relax into the change, and maybe even become excited by it.

 

Thank you for reading and sharing my passion. As always, if you love what you read, please share it.

With love,
Melanie

 

 

Love and hate

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I meant to give up social media only for Lent. I saw that one of my childhood friends was doing it and I thought it sounded like a good idea. I announced my decision on Facebook, deleted my Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat apps from my phone, and went about my day. The first few days felt weird. I was so used to mindlessly picking up my phone to scan Facebook and Instagram. Suddenly, I didn’t have the comfort of my phone to keep me occupied. Throughout the day I had the urge to mentally check out of whatever I was doing and pick up my phone. Instead, I was forced to find something else to do. I became better at checking and responding to emails. I read the news. Mostly, I got back to whatever I had been trying to avoid. Often this meant playing with my boys. Lets be honest…playing with dinosaurs and following my three-year old’s instructions on his made up games doesn’t really interest me. I love spending time with my kiddos but not necessarily doing the same things they want to do. Being off social media didn’t change any of this; however, it did change what I did in these moments. I wish I could report that I fully engaged and played the silly dinosaur game for hours on end. That didn’t happen. Usually, I tried to get them to play something that interested us both. Sometimes I distracted them by tickling or chasing them. This usually lasted minutes and then I found something productive to do. I cleaned, cooked, packed, organized, etc. Basically, I got shit done. This of course felt good. It definitely feels better than the mixed bag of emotions I get from continuously being connected to my phone. Social media is a funny thing. Part of me loves it. It’s an outlet for me to share my blog, share pictures of my kiddos, keep in touch with old friends, and find interesting articles. On the flip side though, it can easily turn into an obsession. I find myself wanting to check it while I’m driving, eating, waiting in line. I see pictures of what looks like fun stuff my friends are doing and a part of me feels jealous, boring, and disconnected. I find myself worrying about the things that I’m not doing and wondering if I’m missing out.

I find that social media can bring about a sense of connection or disconnection. Yes, it’s amazing to go online and see pictures of your new baby or watch your kiddos grow. If I take the extra minute or two to actually write you a message and we have an exchange than I do feel a sense of connection. Surely, without the ease of social media, we wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with people all over the globe. On the flip side though, if I’m only browsing your pictures, and not reaching out than no real connection is being created. Also, we get a false sense of what is going on in someone’s life. We all have struggles. We all have messy lives that are rarely captured by a photograph. The real, deeper connection that I think many of us (including myself) are craving can’t be created through social media. This connection comes from truly knowing someone and understanding both their successes and their struggles. It’s what makes us human. It’s the part of us that’s screaming to be truly heard and understood.

As a stay at home mom, I definitely understand the need for community. Days spent with toddlers can be isolating and lonely. An entire day can go by when I don’t have an actual conversation with an adult. While I missed the comfort of my Facebook friends during my two month hiatus, I also found that I picked up my phone more to call or text someone I was thinking about. Also, I didn’t have the looming feeling that I needed to share everything. I realize that I would have more blog followers if I was more active on social media but the thought of posting everything I do is like a rain cloud following me around all day. Everyday I work on being more present in my life. How can I fully participate and enjoy my life if I’m consumed with photographing and writing about my every move? I found it liberating to totally release myself from this perceived to-do.

So where does this leave me? Honestly, I’m not sure. I put the Facebook app back on my phone but I’m not sure it can stay. It’s been roughly two weeks and it’s constantly calling out to me.

If you reach out to me via Facebook, thank you and I ask that you please give me a little grace. I don’t know how long it will take to get back to you. I haven’t yet found the balance of being able to enjoy the benefits of social media without allowing it to consume me. I’m open to recommendations though, so if you have any, please reach out to me via Facebook, or better yet, call me. 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you like what you read, please share.

Much love,
Melanie

Changing tides

If you are reading this, thank you. I know it’s been months since I’ve written. I’ve meant to write. I’ve sat down and tried. I fell flat. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. The past four months have been challenging, exhausting, exhilarating, scary, and insightful. Our year started with water damage through two stories into our kitchen. Less than a month later my husband got fired from the company he started over ten years ago, by his two partners. We had months of sick children. I was convinced that our house was making them sick. We’ve had months of our home being in disarray…plastic separating the first and second floors with zippers to get through them. Construction workers have been in and out, in and out. Meanwhile, we have been doing some soul searching and asking ourselves some real questions. We’ve had the luxury, and sometimes the curse, of deciding our future. We’ve wrestled with whether or not to move, and then whether we go to L.A. or San Diego. We’ve traveled to Miami (twice), L.A., San Diego (twice), Ohio. Chris totaled his car and thankfully walked away unscratched. He went to Peru for two weeks on an amazing, life-changing journey. Meanwhile, I over-flowed the bathtub and caused even more water damage to our house. I started journaling again; a practice I’ve done since I was a kid, and have abandoned in the last few years. This year has been a whirlwind and we are still in the midst of it. Yet, through it all, I’ve so grateful. We are moving in June to Encinitas. Our boys are heathy. My marriage is growing. I’ve gotten to know myself a little better. I’ve learned to lesson my grip on things just a little bit. I’m reminding myself that being imperfect is my right as a human being. I’m learning to speak my mind instead of biting my tongue. I’ve been reminded of what is truly important and that stuff is just that. I’ve met and connected with old friends and new. I’ve forgiven. His partners. Myself. Chris. Family. I’ve meditated. I’ve reminded myself again and again that we are all doing the best we can. I’ve decided to make myself a priority. After almost five years of being a mother and wife first, I feel something being stirred inside. I feel a growing purpose to use God’s gifts to do other things in this life. Our boys are almost two and four. They are wonderful and exhausting. My love for them has only grown but my view of them has shifted. I don’t want them to be my whole world and vice versa. I’ve always thought that it’s so interesting to raise children to spread their wings and fly. Instead of holding on with all of my might now, I’m working on allowing them to spread their wings so that they don’t leave me with a giant hole in the future. I’m learning what unconditional love really means. I’m learning that in this life, we are all on our own journey. I have been so blessed to have such amazing people to hold my hand along the way, but in the end, it is only me who will ever walk in my shoes.

I’m still in school. Our home is still currently under construction. We are moving in 6 weeks. My family still comes first but with all that being said, I think that my blog may need to undergo some changes. My life isn’t only about dumb bells and rattles anymore.  Sure, it’s about being a mom to two silly boys, but it’s also about increasing my awareness, connecting with others, new adventures, and healthy living. In the months to come, I hope that my blog will be able to showcase all of this.

Thank you again for reading. This blog feeds my soul and I hope in some small way also touches yours.

As always, if you like what you read, please share.

Much love,
Melanie

Lessons from a two year old

I just finished writing in Brooks’s journal. I have written to him and Maddox since they were both in my belly. I try to write to them once a month and for the most part I have been pretty consistent. Since my memory usually fails me, it’s a good way for us both to remember what they were doing. As I write though, I almost always find a loss for words. My heart is so full and it seems that there are no words in my vocabulary to express all that I feel. I don’t know if either of them will ever truly understand the impact they have on my life and who I am.

For the past month or so I’ve been reading a book called The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. A small part of her message is about how much our children have to teach us about ourselves. I recently had the conversation with Chris about how true this is.

Although Maddox is still pretty small, Brooks has taught me so much already. For starters, he lives in the moment every moment of everyday. Unlike myself, he’s not always thinking about what’s next or worrying about tomorrow. Instead, he’s living and enjoying life. When he does get mad, he does so with a gusto. He doesn’t hold back. He lets it all out. And then…it’s done. Just. Like. That. It’s over and he’s laughing or playing or on to the next thing. There are no hard feelings, no grudges. It’s like the whole thing never happened.

What a wonderful way to be. Although I realize that it’s unrealistic for me to behave like a toddler, I do think that he’s on to something. I’m working everyday on being more present in my everyday life. I know that this precious time with my boys is short lived and I want to soak it all up. When Brooks is misbehaving, I would often get myself in a tizzy too. I would take in his emotions but then after he moved on, I would still find myself holding onto these negative feelings. Obviously this did nothing for either of us. Like our relationship coach says, what a gift to give someone to allow them to feel all of their emotion without trying to interfere or manage it. Brooks is slowing teaching me to let myself or him feel whatever it is we need to feel and then just to let it go.

Isn’t it funny that what comes naturally to a two year old has to be relearned for this thirty-something (who’s counting?) mother. Everyday I’m working on being more aware. Slowly, I am able to be more present. I am able to laugh with my boys instead of always worrying about our schedule. I’m able to let go of the frustrations of negotiating with a two year old instead of letting these feelings fester. I am getting more connected to myself and therefore, to my boys.