Category Archives: Writing

On Turning 30

old40storm - edited

Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet, but turning 30 doesn’t scare me.

I have this notion that my 30s will really be a time for me to get to know myself. I’ve done a lot of changing over the last decade, and I’m sure I’ll do the same in this coming one, but I hope that I will approach those changes with more confidence and less stress. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying, and becoming a parent — while accompanied by plenty of worrying, in forms I’d never known — has helped me see that time spent worrying is sometimes time spent wasted. Yes, worrying can lead to greater understanding and sometimes to solutions, which is great. But worrying with no cause and to no end — I have better things to do.

Last year, I’d created a list of things I’d like to do before I turned 30. Some of them got completed; some did not. Here’s a run-down:

  1. Run a 10K — Fail. I did get back up to a solid 5K time, although I haven’t been consistent.
  2. Have a bike picnic — Picnics yes, by bike no.
  3. Get another tattoo — Yes! On my right wrist. I love it.
  4. Be 10 lbs lighter — Yes! Muscle definition abounds.
  5. Knit a scarf — Done! Not extremely well, but I like the cowl I ended up with.
  6. Make a cookbook — Nope.
  7. Go camping — Yes! Although we did not stay overnight. More info to come.
  8. Pay off credit card — Sadly, not yet. Still plugging away at that debt though.
  9. Go to a theater performance — Nope.
  10. Decorate a fancy cake — Yes!
  11. Make a big painting for the house — Kind of?
  12. Make a t-shirt quilt — Nope.
  13. Explore my hometown — I’ve taken Aoife to 5 different playgrounds and done lots of walking, although we haven’t done “touristy” things.
  14. Visit a local museum — Nope.
  15. Take a dance class — Nope.
  16. Go sledding — Yes! Aoife hated it.
  17. Sharpen knives — No, I’m still risking injury every time I cook by using dull knives.
  18. Get a pedicure — Yes! This was one of the first things I did, and let me tell you, it’s time for another one.
  19. Find my perfect shade of lipstick — I found a couple but haven’t settled on anything for daily use.
  20. Have a date night with Ryan every month — Well … we didn’t always call it an official date night, but I’d say we succeeded here.
  21. Create use-able space in the basement — Not exactly.
  22. Visit a ghost town — Nope.
  23. Write a handwritten letter once a month — Nope.
  24. Make a friend outside of work / be a better friend — Not especially.
  25. Bake a pie from scratch — Yes! For Thanksgiving.
  26. Learn to change a tire — Yes! If you count stroller tires. I did not do this for our car.
  27. Fill all my empty picture frames — Nope!
  28. Write a will and make it official — Nope!
  29. Get a bra professionally fitted — Nope!
  30. Visit a state park — We did this, but it overlapped with #7 above.

So 13 out of 30 isn’t terrible. I think many of these I ended up not really caring about (sharper knives? really? they cut just fine!), so I wasn’t fully engaged in doing them and I actually forgot half of what was on my list anyway over the year.

The best result out of all of this list-making is realizing that I’m not defined by this list and by the things that I want to do. I should remember the things that I accomplished rather than dwell on the things that I never got to, especially if I didn’t really care about them in the first place. Instead of focusing on checking off each little item, I (for the most part) lived in the moment and enjoyed life as it came, welcoming spontaneity and changing plans — something that used to be very difficult for me. Again, I chalk a lot of this up to becoming a parent — it was a situation that forced me into accepting life as it is, not as I think it should be.

And that is NOT to say that I think you have to become a parent to have that realization. I think any experience that stretches your abilities, your mind, your confidence — travel, getting a new job, getting married — any challenge — can help you realize it. For some, it happens long before 30; for others, long after.

I spent the last year learning about myself. Learning about my daughter, this wonderful person who is still quite new to the world and who has her own personality and quirks. Learning about my job and what it is about it that I truly love (thankfully, that includes most everything of what I do). I learned that I waste time when I have a Facebook app on my phone, so I deleted it. I learned that I really don’t care about Twitter, even though I have felt in the past like I should.

I learned that life is a process. Plans can change. Plans sometimes should change. I learned that I can welcome change in myself and it makes me stronger. I learned that I welcome the next decade — heck, even the next three decades or six or however many I am meant to have. I learned that I can keep striving to be the best person I can be, for myself and for others — and I’ve learned that I can let go of that ambition if I just need a bit of time to gather my thoughts, and I don’t have to beat myself up for needing that. There is strength in that, too.

I’ll be back again soon to let you know of a few plans and projects I have up my sleeve for this coming year.

 

My Stylin’ Bookshelf

I’ve always been mystified by the styled photos of interiors I see in magazines, in blogs, and on Pinterest. “No one actually can live in a house that looks so perfect, right?” I would ask, and of course — the answer is no. They can’t. Images are styled for photographs and then things are moved back to where they were originally, a few dust bunnies reappear, and life goes on.

BUT. I love the look of those styled interiors. We all do, that’s why they exist. So the other night, I set to work styling my bookshelf. I don’t have a mantel, which is often the subject of those perfect images, but I do have a pretty happening bookshelf. It’s a focal point in the living room, and I try to spend a lot of time there. It too often falls victim to clutter — it’s just such a darn convenient place to set random things that need tending, and two weeks later I realize I have to dig it out. My hope is that styling the bookshelf will help prevent that from happening.

IMG_9532

 

When styling interiors, I fully believe that it should remain useful and should include items that are meaningful to you. I’ve seen teen girls’ rooms styled with random books just because the cover’s color added a nice contrast. I’ve seen offices with stuff all over the desk because it looks cool. Are you really going to move your model Eiffel tower, three Reader’s Digest condensed books, and vintage typewriter every time you want to write a blog post?

With that in mind, I styled away. I’ve been inspired lately by the words over at The Nester – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Let’s take a closer look …

IMG_9535

I’ve got these two checked out from the library right now, and they are imperfectly marked with yellow sticky notes (you’ll see in a minute). I’m really excited to do some of the projects!

IMG_9534

This fancy piece of modern art was made by … me! You’ll never guess how. Done guessing? I used shoe polish to make lines on canvas. This was a project where I didn’t even have to wait for naptime to do it. It took all of two minutes, plus a little bit of drying time. I really like the gradient effect, and I think it makes a great backdrop on my bookshelf.

IMG_9533

Something a little more classic now — a print of a Monet painting. This was gifted to us several years ago, before we moved into this house, as a matter of fact. We were always waiting for the right frame or the right place to put it. Well, I found it. I need to learn that art is meant to be enjoyed, not boxed up somewhere waiting for the right time.

IMG_9536

You were waiting for those sticky notes, right? Well, there they are. I just made this flowerpot at my library’s Crafternoon program, and I love how it turned out. I threw in a game of charades on sticks, made by Hallmark (and I think not made anymore), and stacked it on top of a few Moleskines (that I actually use!).

IMG_9537

No area on display would be complete without a photo of our little darling. I love putting photos on wood blocks for an easy display idea. No frame required, and it adds a nice depth to a display. The rocks were added by the darling herself — she loves collecting rocks when we are out walking, and we needed a place to put them where she could check them out periodically. I think they add a nice touch. The collage on wood was made by Aoife, with a little help from me — I cut out shapes, she brushed on Mod Podge and stuck the shapes where she wanted them. When she was done, I added another coat of Mod Podge and called it good!

IMG_9541

And finally, a collection of notebooks and writing inspiration. I’ve been trying to get back into writing poetry and fiction, but it’s been slow going. However, I did write a poem the other day that I felt really great about, so maybe it’s starting to trickle in.

So that’s my new and improved bookshelf. The lower shelves are mostly organized, but little hands love to pull random books out and flip through, so the organization doesn’t always stick.

What do you think of styled interiors? Would you ever use shoe polish in an art project? And how long do you think the cleanliness of this surface will last?

I have a new planner.

Those who know me well know that my planner is never far away. I’m always on the hunt for a planner that will work well for what I need, and sometimes those needs are different. And before you ask – no, I’m not a consistent user of online calendars. They just do not feel right to me, and I’m inconsistent about updating them. When I was an undergrad, I used an academic planner (Mon-Fri) and had a to-do list. During grad school, I needed something for every day, so I got a daily Moleskine. Then when I started my second round of graduate school virtually, a weekly view was more beneficial.

Which brings me to my current iteration of planning. I no longer have two jobs that I run back and forth between, and most of the things on my work agenda — well, I want to keep them at work. I don’t do homework anymore, so I don’t need that kind of to-do list. Instead, I want to track things like personal appointments, what my blog post should be about and when to post it, and what I make.

Inspiration struck when I stumbled upon an old planning book, intended for a teacher’s use in the classroom.

The two-page spread has a column for each weekday, then one column for “notes”, which I use for my weekend plans.

I added a category to each row for what I want to track. I have to transfer these each week, but that’s nice if I want to change one of the categories.

This is the second week I’ve used it, and so far it’s working out pretty well. If something doesn’t get done on that day, I circle it (note that my “plan book” blog post was scheduled for Monday).

How do you keep track of your life? I love seeing how other people plan!