KHP – Hello!!

KHP - A shot at sunset of the Susquehanna River in downtown Harrisburg, PA.

KHP – A shot at sunset of the Susquehanna River in downtown Harrisburg, PA.

Hello to my dear blog partners. I have missed you terribly! Wow, we are a month out from our last post and our huge accomplishment of going 365 days together. It was such an amazing challenge. As I move away from the experience, I am realizing what I got out of it and how I developed over the year. It was not necessarily my end goals planned. In fact I think it is a bit richer than I had imagined and I had high hopes! Last year was a tough year full of challenges, loss, stress and disappointments. I am so glad I had this blog and my blogmates to help pull me through.
This past month I slept a lot, I made lots of baked goods, and caught up on little odds and ends I had pushed aside. I have not been going as hard as I did last year but I am sure things will ramp back up. I just needed a little quiet time after a big accomplishment.
I say quiet time but so much is happening and has happened this month. I once again covered the Eat, Sleep, Run, Grown women’s seminar. I am heading out this morning to gallery sit for the Penn’s Wood Printmakers show at the Icefest. I started a new long term contract position which could end up turning into a permanent position. Two of my classes filled and one of them is a new course to me.
The course that is new to me is a Web Publishing class. Our second project is on developing a website using WordPress.com. I started my new blog Scattered n Split as an example for my class and as a way to jump start my motivation. I have been a bit to relaxed with my art making and my workouts over the past month. It is starting to make me feel down and out. So I joined a gym to help my workouts along. The weather here in Pennsylvania with Polar Vortex has not been conducive for outdoor workouts. With my new blog, the gym and a bit of structure I should be able to get my act in gear. It was fun having a month off too float around but it is time to get back to business. I am glad that KR is blogging too and I can still follow her life.  Her blog Mama on the Run will be full of fabulous, well researched tips plus she will make you smile. I hope Claire will post as well so I can stay in touch and read her amazing work.  She is an incredibly talented writer. Our connection and day to day interactions was the best thing that came out of our year together. I will miss that and cherish it always.

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Kristen R: Mama on the Run

Well, now that it’s February, I am finally ready to set some goals for myself. Without them, I’ve realized, I just float and don’t have any real direction. My running isn’t focused — even with a half marathon less than a month away. The writing habit is all but gone. I need focus.

And since I’m no longer making it daily, or really since I’m just making it daily in a new way, I’ve decided to continue blogging. I’m going solo tackling my life as a Mama on the Run. I’m using it, for now at least, as a countdown to 40 and a way to make sense — and fun — of my crazy adventures in marriage, motherhood and the corporate world.

Please follow along — visit and comment often. I will miss blogging with KHP and Claire, but I can tell that without our daily pact, I will let myself float along. I’m hoping a blog devoted strictly to all things running — without doing every single day! — will keep me motivated and focused.

We shall see!

Gotta run,
Kristen R.

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Claire: The Darkness of January

The albatross is a potent symbol in literature, but as seen here, dead due to the ingestion of a crazy amount of trash, it is an even more potent one.

I am trying to find a poem. I’m suffering badly from PMS today and can’t retreat as there are things and people to tend to, but I want to put some of the thoughts down anyway.
I know it’s dark as it is, but that’s the nature of these things, isn’t it?

Darkness

We fall into habits, and sometimes out.

A kiss before leaving every morning, at first spontaneous,

thrown lovingly my way, a gentle peck on the cheek.

That was then, the old marriage, and somewhere along the line,

the kisses stopped coming.

I mourned each kiss then,

but it’s not something that can be brought back

once someone chooses to withdraw it.

***

After days of wearing each other out,

winding and waiting after another fight

in the new marriage,

a gesture: a hot water bottle filled and warm in his spot

for when he comes to bed.

We are gentle now, delicate and wary,

and when he says he will know the state of my love

by whether the bottle is there,

I wince,

remembering the old leavings.

He is teasing and present and means to hold me.

But I think, the gestures cannot become things that we must do;

they cannot be something owed,

to prove love is still there.

The gestures change, and it is right that they do.

Yet they become messages, signs, roads toward or away;

they cannot help but become so,

weighted as they are in the rituals of familiarity.

***

As I lie tucked into the warm spaces

of a shared bed and love,

this is what I wonder about the albatross,

dead and rotting with trash spilling from its guts:

Which was the piece that killed it,

and how did it feel to swallow each one before it,

taut and sharp with its bright plastic poison?

Is it fortitude that keeps it seeking more?

Or folly to keep foraging when inside,

hard and pinching warnings shift and slide?

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KHP – The Process of Learning

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

As we wrap up this year of Making it Daily and begin a new, it is time to look back and lay out plans for the big spring forward for 2014. I am sitting here in front of my computer on New Year’s Day thinking of the difference in feelings from this year to last. Last year I was so excited and thrilled about the prospect of this process. I was thinking of all the projects I would create, the PR’s I would gain, how tight my abs would be by the end of the year and how mind-blowing my portfolio was going to end up. I was nervous about the creative writing aspect but I wondered how writing regularly would change my feelings towards it. I was not sure what to expect out of the ride but I had definite outcomes in mind.

This year was full of challenges from unexpectedly taking the very rigorous Online Academy, a lot of sickness for me and my family, my mother-in-law retired, my freelance work tripled, I started coaching, I taught a new class, and my sister-in-law lost a long battle against cancer. This is life, life happens around you goals, life fills in and is organic and we can only do our best to plan, schedule and morph along with the ebbs and flows. I guess as I get older I realize that we are just passengers on a boat ride and we can guide and direct but you never really know if a storm is going to hit or if you will end up in a rough rapid just hoping and praying you will come out on the other end.

Where did my boat take me on this stretch of water in 2013? Well I certainly had my share of rough rapids but I had a pretty fun ride too. I had a lot of moments and events that ran together in perfect sequence when things could easily have gone south. I may have not created the quantity of quality work I had planned on but I did create work that I am happy with. I see more of a vision into where I want to go creatively and conceptually.

As I moved through these past few years I have pushed myself, pushed the limits of what can be completed in a day and lived without sleep. What has come clear to me this year is that this not healthy to sustain for long periods of time. Sleep, rest and fun need to be part of our health plan. This last semester of the blog I have really forced myself to control my stress and try my hardest to take down time and sleep even if I don’t feel like I have time.

The boat took me down a windy stretch of river this year and feel deep down in my heart that 2014 will bring me to smoother waters. I am sure I will find myself in with crazy stretches but that is what keeps the ride interesting and at times fun.

What I got out of this year is really more than what I mentioned above. What I received is a forum to connect with women who I love. I got to keep up with their lives, their trials, and their joys. I was able to see them meet challenges, achieve their goals and meet challenges with grace, kindness and dignity. They helped me do the same. As I move forward into 2014. I want to keep this connection, to develop it further and nurture it.

As far as my art, photography, fitness goals are concerned. I have a few targets I would like to list.

  • I really want to start getting back into an integrated mixed media.
  • I would love to start creating a consistent body of work. I have some good beginnings from this year.
  • I would like to start a 365 photo a day for fun.
  • I want to continue analog drawing.
  • I will continue my yoga practice.
  • I will focus more on cross training.
  • I will work with the core, hamstring and hip exercises that my PT created for me.
  • I want to start climbing again.
  • I want train to do pull-ups again.
  • I want to run 3-4 days a week with a 3,5,8 routine. Focusing less on high mileage but more on correct form.
  • I want to spend time researching and gathering inspiration which is just as important to art than the creation.
  • I want to start creating work about concepts that are dear to my heart.

My last thought on this year and as we move forward into a new adventure, is to emphasize what a gift friendship is in our lives.  I feel so fortunate to have Claire and KR in my life.  All of our goals are secondary to the love and support we have for one another.  I see you both as a gift in my life.  I am so proud of you both.  You have inspired me, amazed me, brought tears to my eyes and filled my soul. For that I am eternally grateful.

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Kristen R: A Year of Running (+1)

A lot can  happen in a year

So what do you do after running for 365 days in a row? Well, you run again. At least, that’s what I did today. A quick 5k to ring in the New Year — a ritual I plan to do year after year for as long as I can, as way to start the year on a healthy note.

My morning walk into work on New Year's Eve -- before getting in that last run of the year.

My morning walk into work on New Year’s Eve — before getting in that last run of the year.

Now, after a year of running, what do you say? I’m not really sure. Some of it was summed up in my last official post of 2013. As for my final run of 2013, it was a little anti-climatic, to be honest. Partly because I knew it wouldn’t be the final run of my running streak (that was today), and partly because it just felt like any other day. I went to work, came home and went for a run. Just like I had done every single day of the year.

I will admit, though, that typically, I would run after my kids went to bed, so I could squeeze in as much time with them after work as possible. But yesterday I wanted to get in my final run of the year outdoors, despite chilly temps and a lingering cold I picked up before Christmas. I wanted to finish this challenge I set out to do 365 days ago in the light of day. So that’s what I did.

And when it was done? Well, it was done. No fanfare. No high-fives. It was just the end of my year-long goal. I savored it all alone, quietly and briefly.  When I returned home, I had to quickly switch back to mommy-mode and move on to cooking dinner for my kids, asking them to quiet their usual late-afternoon giddiness, and figure out what to do with our New Year’s Eve.

But I think that’s how it should be. I didn’t do this to cross some big finish line that would mark the end of it all. I did this to change some bad habits. I was a runner before this year, I just wasn’t very consistent about it.

I captured a little bit of my final run yesterday -- a habit I think I'll continue this year.

I captured a little bit of my final run yesterday — a habit I want to continue this year.

Over the course of the year, I certainly found the consistency I was lacking. My excuse leading up to Making It Daily was that I didn’t have time to squeeze fitness into my busy days as a working mom and partner. But I do have the time. And I also have time to reflect on my life and family as well as connect quite regularly with close friends in meaningful ways.

2014 is going to be about continuing  to make time — time for my health, time for my family, and time for my two closest friends who joined me in making 2013 a year of change.

I plan to continuing blogging — weekly — and setting some new health goals, too (I’ll share those in my next post). It will serve as a way to stay connected to KHP and Claire, to see what they choose to make a daily part of their lives for 2014.

Thank you, KHP and Claire, for joining me in this. You are both strong, smart and beautiful women, mothers, partners, dear friends — and you are truly family to me. Thank you, Taylor, for your constant patience and support. What a wild year it’s been for both of us! You are the greatest partner and father, and I’m lucky to have you as my best friend to share in this life with. And thank you, readers. I have loved connecting with so many other runners this year.

Happy New Year!

Gotta run, and Friday seems like a good day to make that happen.
Kristen R.

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 4.59.35 PM

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Claire: The Red Tent

The other night, Newman’s daughter invited me to go with her to a Red Tent event. The Red Tent is traditionally a gathering space for women during their time of menstruation; Red Tent gatherings more generally are structured to allow women to come together, share stories, and affirm each other in a sacred, positive space.

Newman’s daughter is currently in a transition; she is seeking healing and personal growth, and as we try to support her in her journey, we too find ourselves transitioning and growing. It is an interesting space, sometimes fraught with fear and often full of possibility. It is a liminal space, one that lies on the edges of things: past and future, danger and development. We must be attentive and present, loving and open. We must be willing to share ourselves and bring our gifts to the journey, but we also must put our own needs and desires aside when necessary.

At the Red Tent gathering, K and I sat with about 20 other women, all strangers to me, for about 3 hours. The room had been decorated to set the stage for us: a giant red umbrella swathed with red weavings, ribbons, and beautiful gauzy linings wrapped around twinkling white lights. Women sipped tea while stretching out on red floor pillows and snuggled into red blankets. A guest moved from one woman to another, painting intricate henna designs on our hands. We talked, opening up about our lives, our sadnesses, and our dreams for ourselves. We spoke of our mothers, our children, our sisters, our lovers. We listened. We acknowledged what we heard. It felt sacred and significant.

Afterwards, I thought about that gathering and how simple the formula was to create it. Create a space; set a positive and encouraging tone; invite women to participate. How can I do this more often, I wondered?

And then, of course, I made the connection.

This blog has been exactly that kind of space for me this year. On the (intentional and visionary) whim of a friend, a site was created, a place where I was welcomed, encouraged, and accepted. It was scary and exciting at the same time, and I was anxious to step up to to challenge and respond well. I stepped into this blog without knowing what it would mean to me.  It has become a sacred space for me to gather with women, share stories, open myself up, and to explore and push myself. It has been a place of affirmation, connection, reflection, and creation. In essence, it has been a personal Red Tent. I wish that every woman could find ways to create this space for herself, and it is not something I want to let go of.

In the new year, I will continue to blog here occasionally as a way to keep myself connected, motivated, honest, and in a positive place. Since I thrive with structure, I plan to post once a week, and over the course of every monthly cycle, to touch on my goals and progress. I’ve become less inclined as I get older to make big picture “resolutions” as they’re so easily broken. Forming an alliance with the Kristens, however, and working on the small picture, day by day, has helped me achieve things this year that I didn’t know I was capable of.

I, for one, would like to keep that going.

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Claire: Making it Happen

Well, it’s almost come to the end, and I promised myself that I would try to be more specific about how I would make my goals a reality next year.

In this post, I laid out goals for next year that seemed meaningful on a personal level and challenging enough without being impossible in the real day to day progression of my life. Now I want to break down for myself what I intend to do to make those goals a reality.

Woo-hoo!

1. “Break that 24 minute wall for a 5K”

My January-March fitness goal is to return to the 3x weekly running/workout schedule that motivates me when motivation is low. I have dropped off completely over the holidays, and I just want to get back to somewhat regular working out to get through the winter. When I work out 3 times a week, the minimum run is a 5k, but I can substitute a full gym class if I want. My plan is that when I can regularly run outside, I will incorporate track workouts and 5K races into my springtime routine to make my goal a reality. I hope to meet this goal sometime between April and June.

2. “Finish my vignette writing project.”

I’ve been talking to my mom about getting her started on her vision for editing and revising her writing, possibly through a shared blog, and so my plan is to work with her to set deadlines for ourselves and other strategies for getting it done, one of which is (gasp!) committing to sending the thing out to publishers, not because I think it stands a chance to actually get published, but more to keep the dream alive and force me to get it done. I actually think the process will be good for me to face my fears and realize it doesn’t matter at all if I get rejected; the process is what I will value the most.

3. “Spend some targeted time and energy re-vamping my approach to work.”

This has now evolved since I admitted to myself that I don’t want to be in this job forever. I vow to continue keeping the extra duties to a minimum, use my extra time in the spring to streamline prep for my two courses as they exist, but also try to develop a realistic five year exit plan. Steps include researching the specific logistics of my pension and reviewing/revising my savings goals, identifying other potential career paths, and looking into training programs if needed.

4. “Save and invest.”

I actually think the best way for me to save is to decrease my shopping and my need for shopping as an escape from stress and as a way to claim “me” time. Training for the half-marathon helped me see how there are lots of ways to find the same things that shopping gives me. I don’t plan on cutting it out entirely, but I do plan on cutting back significantly, starting right away. I have made progress on this goal already this year, but I think I can do even better.

5. “Be more mindful every day.”

There’s a mindfulness course a friend told me about that I’m interested in pursuing, and if it turns out not to be possible given my location or schedule or because of cost, I’m determined to practice it more in smaller, easily accessible ways. Like picking up those beading supplies I bought months ago and starting a project, for example, or working on some projects with Free that will help me tune into the present moment.

All of these goals will evolve as I go, but I’m determined to make them a reality, and I plan to use this blog space to keep me accountable. At the very least, I will do a monthly check-in to report to my blogmates and to review progress and challenges.

I’m excited about the new year and about what’s to come. Woo-hoo!

KHP Art Below

KHP - WE DID IT!!!

KHP – WE DID IT!!!

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Kristen R: The End of a Running Streak

Since I have one more post after this that will serve as me wrapping up this crazy year, I’ve decided that, for this post, I’ll try to put into words how it feels to end a year-long running streak. Frankly, I’m not sure I can do it justice.

Here's where much of the magic happened, AKA A Room of One's Own. Yep, it's small. It's bleak. But it works just fine. Here's a more mid-week miles on this machine in 2014!

Here’s where much of the magic happened. Yep, it’s small. It’s bleak. The lighting is hideous. But it works just fine. Here’s to more mid-week miles on this machine in 2014!

Running for an entire year has been, well, interesting. I’m a working mom. I have a supportive husband, two great kids and the luxury of having a treadmill in my basement.

Many a mile was spent on that treadmill squeezing in my daily minimum late at night after a long day at work. Before getting on that treadmill there was dinner to cook for my family, kids to shuttle to after-school activities or school functions, then those same little girls needed to be bathed and put to bed. And after all that was when I would get on that treadmill and slog through one mile. It never failed that on those days, I would come up from the basement after running, sigh, and sit down at the computer to write and calculate my distances because I needed to schedule a blog post for the next morning.

Much like what I’m doing now. The daily running and blogging every third day has felt like a chore from time to time.

But the weekends have been a different story. My Saturday alarm is always set early. I don my running clothes, give myself enough time for a cup of coffee, before slapping on my Garmin and heading outside for a long run. I tackle a paved trail in my neighborhood that takes me through woods, tunnels and along the water’s edge.

Those weekend long runs feel like little gifts. I love running early in the morning. It’s quiet and it’s when I decompress from my work week. I shake off any work-related stresses and fall into a rhythm that is my own. It’s a tough, hilly route, but I lose myself out there every time. I absolutely love it.

Those long weekend runs aren’t going anywhere. It’s the mid-week one-milers that need to go. I’ve struggled with the quality vs. quantity aspect of daily running since July, I guess. Those shorties that I feel like I’m slogging through during the week were just happening so I could check the box. They weren’t joyful. They were’t exciting. They weren’t much fun at all.

What’s so fascinating is that today of all days — with two days left — I stumbled upon this article from Runner’s World that ran in July that says as much about run streaking. It’s a brief interview with runner Mark Covert, who owns the world’s second-longest daily running streak. His 45-year running streak came to an end on July 23, 2013. He ran for 16,436 days in a row, running at least 1 mile per day and logged nearly 150,000 miles. His streak ended due to injury — a non-running related injury, I should add.

Here’s the last question they asked him:

What do you say when someone asks if they should start a running streak?

MC: Don’t do it. I get asked quite often, mostly by new runners and by runners on my college teams. Listen, I realize there are better ways to deal with sickness and injury than running every day. I know there were times in my career when I would have bounced back faster if I had taken several days off, probably even a week. As a coach, I understand the benefits of days off, and that’s what I encourage my kids to do when they need it, to take a day off every once in a while.

That said, there are some individuals for whom a daily running streak has an important impact on them every day. They feel better, they’re more productive, they have a better outlook on life. If it works for you, why not?

I love that he flat out says “Don’t do it” in regards to taking on the burden of a running streak. I get it. I would probably say the same thing if asked. It hasn’t been hard on my body — although, I admit, one of my knees now clicks when I go up the stairs. It’s hardest when you’re dog tired. When you have a cold. When you are truly sick and your back’s been strained and it hurts to move anything. Or when you have to wake up at 3:45 a.m. to grab a quick run because there is no other time in your day to get it in, otherwise.

But the second half of his answer is where I fit. It did have an important impact on me. Not really the physical one, but the mental one. It made me feel more productive. It made me carve out time to do something good for myself, even it was only for 10 or 12 minutes.  And it definitely gave me a more positive outlook on life. And these are the themes I’ll try to wrap up in my final post…

Until then, in case you’re wondering: Will I run on Jan. 1, 2014? Yes. I think an annual New Year’s Day run is a great ritual that I hope to carry out for many years to come — and one that I hope my family will want to be a part of, as well.

Will I run on Jan. 2? Not a chance in hell.

Gotta run — again!
Kristen R.

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KHP Art Below

KHP - Super quick food photography!

KHP – Super quick food photography!

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KHP – Reflection 7 – Photography Favorites and Random Thoughts

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Random Thought One

Above I have created another slider of some of my work created during this blog. I chose to pick some of my photography favorites from this past year. Most of the photographs are landscapes or nature studies. I have a solid collection of images that are investigating the process of time on manmade creations. An interesting juxtaposition to the ebb and flow of nature growing up around it, dying off and having a rebirth in spring. All the while in the cycle of nature our objects we create slowly but surely fall off to waste. In those wasted spots, holds the keys to stories of someones lives. What happened in this house? Who owned that cart and why was it left pushed up on this particularly tree in the middle of the woods? All of these objects and structures were special to someone or were used by a person or family at one time. It is beautiful to feel their presence. It is a strange connection to an unknown past. Peering into a bit of their spirit filling the void as the grass grows up and the branches wrap around. The snow, the rain and the wind tear it down. The decomposition process never relenting and force of nature slow and constant but as destructive as a tornado. We just are not around to see the whole process. We are as fragile as the structures and objects we create. I find beauty in the ominous rust covered coffee can as it reminds me of my own mortality, my own fragility compared to the forces of nature and time. One day what I have created will be a remanent and a clue to a past, my past, my family. Will these pieces of the puzzle be interpreted correctly? We will never know.

Random Thought Two

If you know me, you know I am not much for spending time putting on make-up and fussing with my hair. I believe in the 10 minute rule: if it takes more than 10 minutes it is not worth my time on the beautification front. I believe in a being clean, fresh, neat, professional and fit. That is my beautification regime. Lately my youngest PP, is going through the make-up and dress up PHASE. This phase I never went through but LP my oldest went through and has made it out on the other end. LP is now drawing, writing, reading, playing games and is still in love with her dollies. Every once in a while she likes to paint her nails or put on a fancy dress but you can see the interest falling off. My husband is having a fit with PP’s newest obsession. He hates the idea of our girls wearing lots of make-up and wasting their time on “silly things”.

I hate this idea too, not in a judgey way but in a life quality and confidence way. I am from a large family with 6 siblings 4 of which are women. I am the the youngest of the girls and I spent a lot of time watching my older sisters and thinking about the things they did. I love my sisters with all of my heart and respect each of them for their individual special gifts they bring to the world. I think each of them are unbelievably beautiful and always have.

I remember watching my gorgeous sister step out the shower wrapped in a towel with her ivory skin slightly pink from the warm shower. Her hair wound in a towel up on her head so you could see all the lovely curves of her face. She sat herself down in front of the mirror in her room to let my other sister into the shower to get ready for school. In this spot she would sit for hours every morning covering up, re-working, and painting a new face. All the time I was watching this transformation thinking she looked more beautiful an hour or so a go. It did not take me long to get frustrated and bored with this process. So while we were all up at 5 am getting ready for school; I used the time differently. I would go out for a short run, do extra homework or studying, make breakfast, try to get my younger brother out of bed, walk the dog, make my bed, read some of the paper, pace around annoyed that I was going to be late because 2.5 hours was not enough time to get ready.

Now as adults my sisters have all changed these habits. It is really tough being a teenager and to to deal with all the pressures of being that age. I know from watching my high school students do the same thing. Hiding themselves under a 2 cm deep layer of base and powder. Why is it the young men (or men at any age) feel no need to cover up their face. Men spend more time doing as youngsters. How do I translate that to my girls?

What made the difference for me? I don’t think it was watching my sisters. For a different girl it might have been watching their older siblings and picking up beauty tips rather than calculating time and effort vs final product. I think it was my Dad. He always asked me to help him do things. That is how we bounded. I liked these doing things and it helped me understand I could do anything. I enjoyed helping him change the oil in the car, hold the wood for a cut, move a couch, hold the wrench or flip breakers. It was my mom’s love of learning and constant search for knowledge that formed my own academic interest. It was my mother reminding me to be beautiful inside and love people even the ones that are the most difficult to love. It was finding beauty in everyone, looking for their special gifts. We were always taught to be well groomed, dressed appropriately for the occasion, well spoken and professional but that does not take 2 hours and $300.00 of product to accomplish.

So am I freaking out about PP’s new obsession over nail polish and lip gloss? Absolutely not! I think she is having fun and it is all part of her pretend play. It is more about playing with a substance like paint than feeling beautiful. I also feel the more we resist the more she will rebel and pull away. She is four and is experimenting. This is not all she is interested in. She is playing with blocks, puzzles, dolls, books and games. She loves music and dance. My girls love going to the theater, the ballet and have even watched their Uncle Kenny’s perform 45 minutes of Bach for a piano recital at the college where he teaches. As they grow they will help Matt and I with home improvement projects, they will go to art openings, rock climb, mountain bike and ski. Will all of this avoid the low self esteem issues that so many young women end up with? I don’t know. Much of this will come from within and we as parents can only give them the tools to build their lives we cannot build it for them. PP, play away and create your imaginary character with crazy makeup and lots of nail polish but please stop painting your dolls:)

Random Thought 3

So much is going on and I have not been able to fill you in. I am starting to do some contract work for my friends company. One of my classes has filled. I don’t know what I should be doing now. Matt and I were feeling frustrated on Friday night. We are ready for that security of my full time employment but not sure what path I should take. What I really want to do is teach preferably high school. In the middle of this conversation. Matt had to leave to pick up Friday night dinner (no one felt like cooking). My phone began to vibrate. I could not find it. I was searching around for it and when I finally located it, the number was unknown to me. Who was calling me on a Friday night that I did not know? I listened to the voice message and it was Mercersburg Academy!! I immediately called back. The Academic Dean went through a 25 minute impromptu phone interview and called me in for a formal interview on January 8-9. It will be a 24 hour interview where I eat dinner with faculty, spend the night at the Head of School’s house, have breakfast with more faculty and then go through more formal interviews and meetings. I am so excited and nervous!! If I could make a job for myself it would be this job. If I could work with a faculty and staff of my choice it would be this group. So keep your fingers crossed, send me all your strength and confidence because I will need it. I am sure they are interviewing other applicants who have amazing resumes and have done amazing things. I know I am competitive for this position. This is what I have been training my whole life for. I am sure the Academy will find their best fit. The students and this community deserve only the best. I just hope it is me:)

Random thoughts complete! Sorry

KHP Art Below

More design fun.

More design fun.

Posted in Family, Kristen P., Photography, Relationships, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Claire: Practicing a Positive Perspective

I just finished reading The Four Agreements, by Miguel Angel Ruiz, which I would recommend to anyone who, like me, is working on being more mindful.

TheFourAgreements

Kristen’s post yesterday reminded me of the positive power of the first agreement. I think the four agreements overlap and feed each other, and working to create good habits in one area will aid in strengthening all four. The agreements are a useful framework in general.

There are lots of different ways to practice mindfulness, and I want to remain open to whatever strategies will work. In my journey this year of actively working to create happiness in my life, I’ve found that both perspective and practice are crucial. I must change my way of thinking in a particular moment to gear my outlook toward the positive, and I must practice this response again and again until it feels natural and automatic.

As a parent, it’s easy for me to observe and understand the power of these approaches. This morning, for example, after participating in her second gymnastics competition, Free was entirely focused on the fact that she forgot a piece of her beam and floor routines, lowering her scores for those events. She was so upset that she was entirely unable to enjoy her FIRST PLACE medal for vaulting and her trophy for 10th place overall! It was so obvious to me that she needed to practice shifting her perspective, and I was able to help her do that, but it was also a reminder for me to practice it more myself.

The four agreements were at the back of my mind last night when Newman and I drove to see an old student of his, who was in town visiting. She is a 32 year old mother of 19 month old twins, and she teaches at a tiny private school in Sedona. She is way in it with work and family and living an active life in the mountains with her husband, who also works at the same school and with whom she is clearly madly in love. She was thrilled to catch up with Newman (who taught her as a sixth grader!) and fill him in on her life, and as I listened to her talk, her joie de vivre was striking. I commented on it to Newman after we left, and because Newman was trying to figure out how I felt about her, he asked if I resented her for it. Not at all, I said; she seemed entirely lovely and somebody I could be good friends with. In fact, I thought, she reminded me of some of my better female friends in that her spirit exuded a genuine caring but also entirely self-possessed quality.

I found myself mulling over the impression the woman had made. The quality she has is one that is quite foreign to how I see myself, but it is a quality I admire in others, and it is one that I know serves them well. It is an energy and a confidence that some people have that allows them to be resilient, to shake off other people’s negativity, to decide what is important and where they will put their energy. They are in control and comfortable most of the time, and if they are not, they find a way to restore order or make changes relatively quickly, and without revising their essential notions about themselves as powerful and deserving and worthy individuals.

I don’t know where this quality, which is elusive to me, comes from. I don’t know if someone is born with it, if it’s a product of privilege, or if it is a state of mind (perspective) that one can practice and adopt. Maybe it could originate in any of those sources, but in reflecting on the four agreements and other strategies for finding mindfulness and happiness, I am betting on the last one right now. Essentially, I’d like to believe I have the option of embracing and chasing that quality not just in the friends I choose, but in myself as well.

Sometimes I think I do resent this quality in others, and I think I’m struggling with whether I really want it for myself. What am I afraid of? I think many of us, especially women, are brought up to make sure that our own happiness doesn’t come at the expense of others. Guilt and shame can be maddeningly powerful, and we get used to riding the line between taking care of ourselves and taking care of others.

I’ll speak for myself; I generally want to adopt a “do no harm” approach to life. The problem is that in my life experience, especially when resources are limited, I have had to make choices about how much I can do or take for myself when it affects others. I also really don’t want others to think badly of me.

What’s interesting is that when I am at my ugliest, I can be really judgy of others, and this probably reinforces my own beliefs about how important other people’s opinions are. When I get judgiest about others, especially women, it is because they seem to be getting off too easy. I consider myself mostly kind and pretty forgiving, but I reserve a lot of negative feelings for those who seem to be doing a poor job–on purpose–in some area of their life, and the more closely that area of life aligns with one that I work hard on, the judgier I get.

The problem with that way of thinking is that it breaks the agreements. All of them. I make assumptions about others (3); I speak poorly of them (1); I take it as a personal affront that I feel I am working harder than they are and therefore the world is inherently unfair (2); and I spend my precious energy on a negative perspective and path, thereby lessening my own ability to take action and do my best (4).

Wow. Now that I’ve written it out, it seems pretty clear and pretty awful. My therapist would be proud. The good part, of course, is that it’s also within my power to change it all. Look at that; facing my fear actually does create a window to release myself from it.

Here’s what I know. When I have found happiness in my life, it’s because I have claimed it for myself or believed myself worthy of having it, worthy enough to accept it when offered. Moving forward, I want to put more of my energy into changing myself for the better and less energy into worrying about what others are doing or thinking.

This is my second to last post of the year, and I want my final post to include a specific plan for making progress on the goals I set here in an earlier post. I am so excited at what I’ve been able to accomplish this year that I’m eager to get going on the next round.

KHP Art Below

KHP - A little Bauhaus influenced design from pieces from some freelance work I am working on.

KHP – A little Bauhaus influenced design from pieces from some freelance work I am working on.

Posted in Claire, Self-Care | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments