Sitting Bull

Can you sit still?

I can’t. I mean I can sit, but I can’t stay for long.  I want to crawl out of my skin and do something. I have lists you know!

I tried to slow down today and did. I sat, but my brain had other plans. I was like a sitting bull, just waiting to attack.

I literally need help. And not just from  a chiropractor. or a masseuse.

My brain doesn’t turn off. I feel bad for my family because I have so many ideas to share and plans for us to do things together. I probably drive them crazy!

I admire people who can sit at home and read a book. I always think I should be doing something else and my mind starts doing flip flops.

I need to practice putting my phone down, keeping my hands still and just being.   Maybe I’ll have to practice for 3 minutes with nothing to do and then move up from there?  This is probably what they mean by being present and in the moment and here I thought I was doing it right. I need mindfulness and meditation and some yoga!

Geez – I have a lot to learn.

How was your day? Can you sit still? What do you like to do? Got any tips for me?

Wanderlust in San Francisco

Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.”  – Oxford Dictionaries Online

Wanderlust is in my soul. I love to wander from place to place and today we wandered around one of our favorite cities, San Francisco.  We used to live in this wonderful city and there are so many fascinating neighborhoods and pockets to explore.

I love going to the city and just wandering without a set mission of what we want to see or do. I asked Jeff to look up a new place for us to discover and mentioned that I’d like to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, if there was time. The last time we did that was 15 years ago and the views are spectacular.

The first place he took me was Grandview Park in the Inner Sunset.

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This is not a typical tourist destination and it was quiet, clear, gorgeous and serene.  

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I was so happy walking around here, discovering something so breathtaking and new, that my wanderlust spirit was filled and it was only the beginning of our date.

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After wandering around the rocky and sandy terrain, we walked through the neighborhood and just enjoyed seeing the cool houses, narrow streets and parrots flying and squawking overhead.

We got back in the car and traversed down the hill, noticing the street names of just staircases that lead to upper streets.  We ended up down on Irving Street to grab a drink and use the restroom. My favorite little SF boutique, Ambiance, just happened to be open and I couldn’t resist looking around and trying on some things.  This is what I love most about just wandering without a plan. When you see something you like, you just stop and pull over and enjoy the moment.

Our next stop was the Presidio.  Before we got there, we drove down Haight street and took in the familiar sites. We drove down by where I used to take Christian to Gymboree with Apryl and Alex and felt nostalgic that it has been replaced with a City Target and Best Buy.  It was still fun to see the changes that have happened over the past several years.

Jeff had discovered a new Mexican restaurant in the Presidio Officer’s Club that had recently opened and we decided to give it a try. At Arguello, you order your food at the bar and then they bring you your order whether you choose to sit inside or out.  It was sunny and warm without any wind, so we sat on the terrace. The food was ok and the experience was great and relaxing.

After lunch, we had a volunteer docent give us a tour of the Presidio Officer’s Club which was interesting and entertaining. Again, we weren’t looking to explore a museum today, but it was offered to us and we decided to follow along.  

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The Presidio Visitor’s Center was also open today and so we walked through there too, as Jeff has always wanted to see it. There wasn’t much to see, but the views from the Presidio and the open space are all really appealing.

We walked back to our car and drove over near the bridge, where we paid to park. We got out and found our way to the North entrance of the Bridge and enjoyed the 1.7 mile walk across to the Marin Headlands and then turned around and headed back.

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It was a warm day on the bridge and the sun shine and visibility were stunning.  

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We saw what we thought to be dolphins under the bridge, but soon discovered they were harbor porpoises that have returned to the bay, after we talked with a research scientist who was photographing and tracking the animals as he was working on identifying them.

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We couldn’t have picked a better day to be exploring one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

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What are some of your favorite San Francisco locations?

Life is good.

Head in the Clouds

Today I’m thankful that I still have a kid who likes to play in the park.  Because of him, I sat outside on a bench before the sun set and enjoyed watching the clouds go by.

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Sounds silly, but I enjoyed this moment and was thankful that we were there.

I loved watching him run around and climb up the play structures and jump off the slide with his friend.  They were carefree, just playing and running and chasing each other. Luckily I looked up from my phone and magazine to catch these moments before it was time to go.

I’m trying to slow down and do less and today was just the right balance.

I got to clean my house, play tennis and volunteer all before my kids came home. Once they came home, I actually enjoyed driving them to their appointments and making dinner with Jeff and sitting down to a family taco dinner and discussion over candle light.

As I slow down and do less, my kids are wanting to play more. I find this intriguing. Because they see me sitting, they want to come and sit on top of me and want all of my attention. I’ve been fighting this and then wonder why I’m fighting it.  I think by the end of the day I’m tired and am mentally worn out. It’s not that I don’t want to play with them, but I feel like I’m a dog and they’re little kids getting up in my face and I just want to snap.  How wrong is that? I know it and realize it and fought against it and then gave in.  Instead of biting them, I laughed and played and kissed their faces all over the place, so thankful that they wanted to be a part of me and celebrated our togetherness. I’m letting go of my expectation to sit quietly at the end of the day so that I can continue to enjoy the gifts they bring to my life.  I am thankful and tired.  Thank you to all the mamas who remind me to enjoy these moments because they go by so fast. I appreciate your wisdom.

And with that, I wish you a good night.  May all dreams come true.

xo

The Family Dinner

I LOVE the family dinner. I fight for this time and try to do whatever I can to make this a nightly routine, despite our hectic schedules. It doesn’t always work out and then I resort to the family breakfast, but that’s even more chaotic at 6:45 a.m.

Right now I’m holding on and don’t want to let go. I want us all together, in our safe little cocoon, together for the 15 -30 minutes that it lasts. I value this time of us all being together, doing the same thing at the same time. That is peaceful to me.

I skipped volunteering this afternoon so that I could have dinner cooked and prepared for when we all got home from our activities, as we had a full day. I had plastic, reusable containers filled with Mexican food ready to take out of the refrigerator and reheat when we could gather again.  While the food was warming, we worked together to set the table and fill drink glasses, and finished washing the pots and pans and emptying the dishwasher – multitasking and checking off the chore list before the next round of work began and doing it together.

We all assembled our plates and brought them to the table and then we held hands in a circle across the table and said a brief prayer. We were connected. We stood still and held each other for 30 seconds, while we expressed gratitude for all that is good and for healing for all that is bad.  We shared a few stories, a few laughs, a few disciplinary recommendations, and enjoyed each other and the comfort that the food and family time provided.

I chose to be late to my meeting, so that I could sit around the table with the most important people in my life. I am choosing to be present and to not be busy, even when I am.

We need to slow down and be present, even when it feels like we can’t.

Make the time, BeLoveRs. How will you choose to slow down and enjoy your loved ones this week?

Namaste.

I am thankful

Shake It Off

I fell today.

It totally shocked me, as one of my biggest fears is falling.

I was busy cooking in the kitchen, and doing 6 things at once, when I noticed the pizza appetizer was ready. I turned quickly to turn the oven off, and one of the overstuffed and heavy, lower drawers had opened on it’s own, as it often does when not closed properly. It hit my ankles, right at the right level as to give me a karate chop and made me lose my balance. I tried to move away, backwards and the drawer hung on to my legs and opened further, making me tumble and fall. I didn’t want to fall on top of the drawer and break it, so I think I jumped up and fell even harder on my wrist, hip and bottom.  Ugh.

Did I mention I hate falling? Luckily I didn’t hit my head on the hard tile, but I think I knocked the door on the oven. I have a small kitchen and there isn’t that much space to fall gracefully. Ugh.

I am ok. I am sore, and embarrassed and mad at myself and sad too. I wanted to cry, but I think I was in shock and just laid on the floor for a minute to make sure nothing was broken.  And then I got up and said I was ok. I wanted to believe I was ok, so I just said I was and I thought I was so that hopefully I really was ok, but I am definitely sore and bruised, including my ego.

I had several errands to run, and my daughter told me to shake it off, and to not be mad, that accidents happen. In that moment, she was me. My words were coming out of her mouth. As we were driving her to her event, and I complained of the aches and pains, she was busy fumbling through the middle console, looking for my medicine bag at the same time I was getting ready to say that I needed something for the pain. She was thinking for me. I loved that. I have another life partner and I thanked her for her thoughtfulness and for being so caring and understanding. I love her.  I love that she’s growing up and is so kind and took care of me and my pain without me even asking. I am lucky.

I took her advice and shook it off. Hopefully tomorrow the pain will be gone.  There’s always something good in every situation and you just have to shake off the bad stuff and celebrate the good.

Slow down BeLovers. Be safe and take good care of yourselves.  And if for some reason you fall, or something else falls, just shake it off.

xo

Happiness Is

Here I Am is my life story. It’s about just being – in the moment and the pursuit of happiness. I happen to spend a lot of my time being home with my kids and family and working out and volunteering and playing, so I share these type of daily events because that’s what I do. For some reason, I find joy in sharing this journey, hoping that maybe my one life might spark something in you that helps to add joy in your life, your way.

I love my life and am always seeking ways to make it even better and I’m constantly reading and learning and adapting and changing. I tend to share the joys because those make me smile and everyone has there own burdens and don’t need anymore. I don’t like drama so I don’t write about that, even though it’s there on a daily basis. I like to smooth over those messy parts and focus on the good.

I considered stopping writing after my vacation, thinking maybe my life is “boring” to others. It has more of a routine now that we are not expats anymore. Jeff reminded me that most of the news on TV and on the internet is boring and repetitive, yet we still watch it and read it. We learn new things and have opinions and feelings and share our ideas and thoughts, and make connections, based on what we see and learn.

I decided that I want to keep on writing, because I think I know something about positive living and the pursuit of happiness and I hear from so many of you that you like what I have to say. This is rewarding to me. I don’t have life all figured out, but I love that you write to me via comments or text or private Facebook messages and private conversations and validate what I share. I love the feedback loop and hearing about your lives too. We are connected and I love this. So thank you for continuing to follow along and for sharing this beautiful life with me. You are loved.

I hope you had a wonderful day. My day was simple and rewarding. I worked out, met with some people to plan the details of an 8th grade graduation dinner next week, had lunch with a friend who just had surgery, and then picked up my kids from school. My daughter and I played tennis together, and my son and I played Connect Four after dinner.

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No one had to be anywhere tonight and Jeff was home early because he has been sick. All my work is done for the day and it’s only 7:30 pm. This makes me extremely happy. I get to go to bed early tonight and catch up on sleep!! Life is good.

Have a great night!

Space and Surprise

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Sweet Jasmine is blooming in my yard.

I’m trying to not be busy.

I’m trying to not fill my schedule.

I’m trying to keep my house decluttered by picking up every little thing and washing every little dish and keeping up with every little piece of paper.

And I LOVE the simplicity of it all. Even though this still means work. Do it now or do it later, eventually it has to get done and I’m liking the results.

I love how things are flowing and I feel the stress melting. I want to keep creating space because it feels good and I’m doing the things I love and want to do.

For example, I played tennis this morning with friends and then stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up stuff to make a simple dinner. As I was loading up my trunk, I heard someone calling my name and there was Jeni, with a big cheerful smile. We haven’t seen each other in months. She asked me to come join her for a quick lunch and I said YES!!

It was liberating to not feel tied to a schedule and it felt great to be able to say a spontaneous YES because I’m not (too) busy. Luckily I hadn’t bought ice cream, but the other frozen things could wait in the car and not defrost as we caught up again.

We sat and chatted and ate a quick, healthy, early lunch and then we were both on our way again. That was really cool and made my day.

By creating space and not feeling rushed, the joy is coming in.  I had time to put the groceries away, take a shower, pick up, check email and ride my Bakfiets in the sunshine to pick up Charlie from school on his early out day and even to watch him play soccer for awhile while I chatted with friends.

We rode home and had a snack, did some homework and cooked dinner together and I even cleaned all the pots and pans and put them away right away before the next events.  My mom was and is always very efficient and has this great capacity to get things done. I think her secret is more doing and less thinking and procrastinating, like I typically do.  She doesn’t get distracted and she doesn’t make excuses in her mind, like I do. I like her and was channeling her energy today. I even chose to fold laundry and put it away when I had an extra 15 minutes, surprising myself. I typically prefer to wait and let my piles grow, while I check Facebook or email. But now my space is clean and organized and I’m surprised how easy it was, at least for today.  Space and surprises. Hmmm… hope you had a good day and created some space too.  What would you do if you had more free time?  Just curious…

IAmSickToday

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Maybe I am sick today so that I can slow down and sit still.

I am sitting in my bed, with my legs crossed and I am almost still except I’m still writing.

I have a restless soul and this is something I would like to master. Just being still.

Do you meditate? If so, how often and for how long?

I laid down to take a two hour nap today before picking up the kids from school, and think I slept for maybe 20 minutes. Even though I was sick, my mind was still restless.

We all have things we are trying to improve to make our life the best it can possibly be. I know, this is a high-class problem.

As I sit here with a stuffy, tired head and runny nose I just discovered something new already. I didn’t think I had the energy to write and I accidentally pressed the wrong button on my iPad, which lead to my new discovery: the talking and writing speaker function. How cool is that?

By sitting still, I found something new. Not something zen, but hey, it’s a start to slowing down.

I am speaking to my iPad and it is typing for me with a little wave line showing me that it is sensing my voice. Whoa. Jeff was talking about how he uses voice technology to type his text and emails now just this weekend. I guess I was subconsciously listening to him. And now that I took the time to sit still, I discovered (new) technology! I wish I would have learned this last year. But hey, there’s always time for learning.

So you know when I say my life is perfectly imperfect? This is one of those examples of not having a perfect day, but being okay with it. If you were in my house, or reading my texts or listening to me on the phone, you would really know how perfectly imperfect I really am. But I’m okay with that. I don’t expect perfection from myself or from my family or from anyone. We are all flawed, and what I expect is to flow with whatever comes my way, and to seek love everywhere, in every situation. No matter what.

I choose to share the highlights and lessons learned, every day with you. I choose to focus on the positive because negative stuff happens all the time. That’s drama. That’s what the media keeps showing us. That’s not what real life has to be all about. That’s not happiness. Ok, enough of the nots. I’m sure you understand what I’m saying.

I choose to share beauty and joy, positive experiences and peace on my blog and on my Facebook status updates. I choose to share the highlights and the best parts of my day, because that is what is good. That’s where I want to play and share and connect. Maybe boring, but it’s ok with me. 🙂

I believe there is good in every experience and that’s what I seek and look for every darn day. Do you do this too? If not, try it. Let go of anger and frustration. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel and how much control you have over your own well being.

Namaste and good night.

Day 302: Slow Gear

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Don’t forget to slow down some times… It’s a beautiful thing! So much joy was found today in the quiet spaces, and I wish the same for you.

Planning a move takes lots of planning and coordination on several fronts. Jeff and I had some quiet, uninterrupted conversation after the kids went to school today. We had time to ponder and reflect and think out some of the details as we watched the weather patterns change every 10 minutes…rain, clouds, sun, hail, and back again. I was expecting to go for a run, but just wasn’t up for it and enjoyed the change in plans.

The only thing I really planned today was some social medicine – a lunch with my girlfriends because I needed a fix, and they’re the best medicine! I took the tram up to Amsterdam and had an hour to shop on the Leidseplein before meeting up with the ladies. I enjoyed just wandering, shopping and people watching. We met for lunch at Greenwoods on the Keizesgracht for a healthy,cozy lunch. This made my day!

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At this moment it was sunny and while we were eating, it was raining… So weird, right?

When I picked the kids up from school, we didn’t have any after school activities and there was no rush to get things done. It felt nice to have an open schedule. My dad called and we were able to FaceTime and Skype with my parents. I loved not being in a rush and was thankful for the gift of time. We miss them so much and it was great to laugh and see each other, making plans for when we’re back home again. My niece and sister also called this afternoon and we all got to chat for awhile too. A 9 hour time difference usually prevents us from long conversations and time to reconnect when we aren’t busy, but today just flowed because there was space and time for it… No stress…see how that works? I’m planning more days like this.

The kids and I were going to bake together today (their choice of something fun to do together) but as I chatted, they got busy and baked by themselves. I’ve baked with them since they were babies. It’s so nice that they are old enough to do it on their own with just me near by… I like how independent they are becoming. But I did and do miss baking with them, even though they were perfectly content.

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We had a chaotic family dinner when Jeff came home, for no real reason at all. Some days the conversation just goes awry. We quickly changed gears and cleaned up, declaring quiet time early tonight. The gift that came from the quiet space earlier in the evening was a long snuggle and reading time with Charlie in our bed, time for drawing for Christian and painting nails for Juliana. I want more quiet time like today, with less stress. Downshifting into a slower gear…

I am content, and going to bed early tonight, just like P.

Namaste.

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Day 285: Sunny and I’m Inside?

20130506-202016.jpgIt was warm and sunny today and all I wanted to do was be inside. We had a very fun and busy weekend and I needed some down time to catch up with paper work and photos, to relax and cook, and I just wanted to be home, sipping a cup of tea.

I felt guilty for being inside because it’s not what you do in Holland when the sun is out. It’s almost, well not almost, it’s expected that you be outdoors because you never know for how long the sun will shine and it might rain and be cold again tomorrow.  I felt torn for declining an invitation to go for a bike ride with Patti Beth into the city because I wanted to be two places at once. I made the right choice for me, but it was so hard to choose between two great options and saying no to biking made me a little sad. Especially when I heard from Patti Beth how much fun she had meeting up with friends and walking through Vondel Park and that it might rain on Wednesday. *Sigh*

In California, I never thought twice about staying inside when the sun was out because the sun is always, well, almost always out. I got used to having nice weather almost every day, so making plans to be outside when the sun was out would be a little weird. Granted, most days I was outside playing tennis, running, hiking or sometimes sneaking away to the beach. But I never thought about it this way… that I should take advantage of the sunshine while I had it, because, well – we always had it and there wasn’t a shortage. It’s strange how one’s mind can shift.  But today, I was thinking like a Californian and enjoyed the sun shining in my windows while I got caught up, cooked dinner and cleaned up all the dishes before kid pick up, and enjoyed the peace and quiet. There is something to be said for slowing down and enjoying the simple things, and today was one of those kinda days.

Beautiful, simplicity. Charlie picked this flower for me yesterday.

Beautiful, simplicity. Charlie picked this flower for me yesterday.

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The makings of Pho Soup

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Mama Bowl

One of our family favorite dinners - simple Pho.

Papa Bowl