Monday, March 25, 2013

The Yes Project: I face my biggest fear

Part of an ongoing project called, "The Yes Project", where I resolve to say YES more to opportunities that come my way.  Click here to see the other posts.

I found a bunch of draft posts that I had forgotten about because I got distracted with our Super Ultimate Mega Summer.  This event took place last July.   **Warning this post contains snake pictures and violence.**

"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, 
and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free." 
Jim Morrison

I am terrified of snakes, especially rattlesnakes, so much so, that when we were in escrow to buy the Chalet, I woke up in a cold sweat one night screaming, "We can't move!"   I realized that the hillside probably had snakes as residents and there is no way I can live in a house that was "snake adjacent".   Mr. Man knows me, understands my fear, and we had the Juans build a "snake wall" around the perimeter of the property to keep snakes out.

 I have had a few encounters with garter and king snakes hiking in the hills, but snakes don't really like people so we have an understanding to stay out of each others way.   When we got back from a vacation, I was out clearing some brush that had grown behind the back gate.   I pulled out a clump of grass and found a snake under the brush, about 2 inches from my flip flop covered foot.  It was coiled and shaking it's rattle at me. 
Can you see it hiding in there? 
I jumped out of the way and ran into the house through the back door, then out through the front door and down the hill.   Screaming and waving my arms the whole way, and then I got my phone out and dialed Mr. Man, because here is a little confession.   I am the worst person to have in an emergency.  That whole "Fight or Flight" response...  I'm definitely a flight as in, I run and I run far.

Mr. Man is in a meeting but answers and tells me "First of all, just leave it alone and it will scurry away.  Second, Um... where are you? Did you leave the kids alone?"   Oh shoot, I just ran out of the house leaving them alone.   I ran back up to the house and decided I couldn't just go on with my day knowing there was a rattlesnake living so close to our house. I took a peek and the snake was still there sitting on the stone step behind our gate.   

I had that moment, where I knew this was MY moment, to confront my fear and channel my inner warrior woman.   I could conquer this fear and protect my family.  My year of "Yes" was all about facing things that were uncomfortable.   I brought Mr. Boy out and had him stand on the safe side of the snake wall, and gave him my phone and told him to call Dad if anything happened.   Mr. Boy was encouraging, "Mom, you can do this!" and then he started taking a video of the whole thing.  I summoned all my courage and killed the snake, who had remained coiled up.   
I screamed at the top of my lungs, "I am a Warrior Woman."  I was so proud of myself for confronting my fear and I called Mr. Man who put me on speaker phone to tell everyone in his meeting about how I slayed the snake. 
Later that morning, the deer came by and I couldn't help but tell them, "I faced my biggest fear today!  I killed a rattlesnake, I can do anything!" 
Then I  let out a war cry, grabbed onto one of Buckbeak's antlers, hoisted myself onto his back and rode off into the sunset. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

36 Things Project: Items 13-24

 Last year I took on The Yes Project and I loved where it took me.   I'm still continuing with saying Yes more often than no.   This year I want to live with more purpose and deal with some things that have been nagging me.  Some of these are things that seem to swirl above me on those sleepless nights.  So for this year, I have come up with "36 Things"  to accomplish for my 36th year.  Some of them are big, some of these are boring, some are optimistic.  

Here are the next 12  items on my "36 Things" list. 
13. Swim everyday this summer
I'm an Aquarius, a water sign, and I have wondered if I'm really part fish.   Swimming is my passion, being in the water is my favorite place to be.   On the summer days I don't swim, I always think, "The things I did instead of swimming weren't worth it."  This Ultimate Super Mega Summer is going to be pool-centric, bring on the pruney fingers.

14. Update the Master Bedroom
 This is the last room in the house that still has the vanilla walls from our Pre-Juan Days. The silly thing is that the master bedroom is my second favorite room in the house, so it should be a priority.  The furniture is all there, it just needs some paint and new bedding.  (In case you don't know, my kitchen is my very favorite room.)
A rough sketch of what should happen to my oh so blah living room
 15.  Hang some pictures
I have a reoccurring nightmare that Nate Berkus shows up at my house and screams in horror at the lack of personal details in my house.   I can hear him saying, "Where are the photos?  The treasures?  Where is your personality? Your house is a yawn-fest." I need to add some pizazz and pep to my house, something that says, "Hey, you are a fun person!" This year, I will hang up pictures and make my house look like we live here.

16.  Finish 10 chapters of my book
There is a story that needs to be shared and I have outlined and plotted it all out.  It's something my family has encouraged me to do and I have stopped and started it a 100 times.   I need to stop putting the dishes first and write, it's better for my mind and spirit.

17.  Submit book for publishing
I need to get up the courage to submit my writing for publishing and embrace the rejection letters as they come.  (Maybe I could frame them and hang them an accomplish #15 at the same time.) 

18.  Write a note to one of my High School Teachers who influenced me
High School wasn't my favorite for lots of reasons and I felt like a square peg in a round hole.   There were a handful of teachers who really were influentialMr. Phreaner, taught me to love Shakespeare and I wish I wo.uld have written him a note to let him know how much I loved his enthusiasm for good books before he passed away.  He taught me to write "in my own voice."  I still vividly remember him clutching Romeo and Juliet and having to steady himself because he was so moved by the words of Shakespeare.

19.  Run for my Mom
This year I want to participate in a run in honor of my mom.   I know participating in a run won't cure cancer, but it will feel like I'm doing something in the fight to end cancer. 

20.  Find a kid friendly service project
I loved participating in The Hundred Dresses Project with my kids. It was a great project to work on with the kids and get them involved.   This year I want to find a project I can do with my kids to help them become more compassionate people.  

21.  Host a Glam Dinner Party
On my list of things I've wanted to do was to host a grown up dinner party, hopefully 20's themed.   I keep thinking it would be perfect to do around the release of the upcoming Great Gatsby Movie. 

22.  Visit Santa Barbara
This is home for me, and every summer we make an annual trek.   Except last summer I was busy with my dad's big move across country.  We just didn't make it, and since I have been feeling a bit orphaned in the last year, I think some time at the place I consider "home" will do some good.

23.  Read 12 books
I love to read, but I swear once I sit down to read, I fall right to sleep.  It took me 3 months to get through my last book, the pace was embarrassing.   I have a tall stack of books I want to read this year, and I'm hoping to get through at least 12.  

24.  Bring back the Friday Night Date Night
Mr. Man and I were so good about doing a Friday night date regularly before we moved, but during the remodel, the dates were replaced with dates perusing the aisles of Home Depot hand in hand.   Now, it's more of an issue that I'm too lazy to plan for the sitter and it's just easier to stay home.  That is the very reason I started The Yes Project, becuase no is the easy answer.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

February 2012 - In a Nutshell

The month of February... in pictures.
I got to work on my 36 things list and started painting the hallway with my pal Zeena.   She thought the dropcloths made a really great napping spot. 
I volunteered at the school's fun run, where I watched AK entertain the crowd with cartwheels and watched her start a high five line.   She did not care one bit about the number of laps but was focused on making sure everyone had a good time.
We joined our friends at the Monster Truck Rally, where AK decided that instead of a rock star she would much rather be a Monster Truck Driver.  I'm just hoping she lets me drive her Monster Truck every once in a while.
We found these sweet valentines for our friends at school  AK filled out the maze on every single valentine after she wrote their name on it.   At first I thought about having AK redo them, but it  was just so funny, and so very AK, that we left them.  So for AK's class, everyone got a used maze and a new pencil.    On Valentines Day, we had Grandma over for a fancy dinner and did "Cupid's Cafe."   Everyone had a menu and you didn't know if you were ordering your dessert or a fork because everything on the menu had a nickname. The kids loved it and it was one of the best Valentine's Days ever.
Baby Rollerhand learned the fine art of the "Photobomb".  
 We had our annual Fat Tuesday dinner and this year I made Gumbo from scratch.
 Mr. Man (who lived in Louisana for a time) always entertains us by telling us stories in Cajun.
I love waking up to find these little scenes around the house.  This one was made my AK, and it's called "Farm Meeting." 
We saw Shakespeare's "Midsummer Nights Dream" at our favorite children's theater.  They put on the best plays and it is one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday. 
After trying to come up with an appropriate activity to remember my mom, Mr. Boy said, "Mom, she'd want us at the beach or in the pool" and he was absolutely right.   We blew off our responsibilities and played the day away with our toes in the sand. 
It was the perfect way to honor my mom and I foresee a new tradition.  
Mr. Boy completed another procedure on his jaw and was such a brave guy.  Three years ago he had cellulitis (a very scary staph infection) in his jaw that caused a lot of damage to the tissue and bone.  I hate watching my child be the patient, I feel very helpless.
We spent lots of evenings in the jacuzzi and even ate dinner in there one night.
AK and I had a girls night while the boys were out and watched Brave in costume while eating cupcakes. 
Zoey found a quick and easy way to get access to the pool without having to wait for someone to open that pesky gate.   She looks so dang proud of herself like she is saying, "I DID IT!  I found a new way!  Hooray!" 

Monday, March 04, 2013

36 things for my 36th year

Last year I took on The Yes Project and I loved where it took me.   I'm still continuing with saying Yes more often than no.   This year I want to live with more purpose and deal with some things that have been nagging me.  Some of these are things that seem to swirl above me on those sleepless nights.  So for this year, I have come up with "36 Things"  to accomplish for my 36th year.  Some of them are big, some of these are boring, some are optimistic.  Here are the first 12 items on my "36 Things" list.

1. Set a Date for a Big Family Vacation
I feel the presence of this big ticking clock behind me when I look into my children's eyes.  Time is fleeting and I know that Mr. Boy will be in college before I know it.   I know that if we don't set a date, make a plan, it won't happen.  Mr. Man travels for business, not for pleasure.  For pleasure he likes to sit at the Chalet in his pajama pants and hang out with the family.   I feel like we are really good at spending quality time with the kids, but I want them to know the world is a lot bigger than our yard.  We are going to pick a destination, a date and plan a big trip for our family, including how we are going to save for it.  

2.  Run to the top of our hill
Last year during the mudrun, I was crazy unprepared for the elevation change, and as a result I was embarrassed by my inability to run up a hill.  I live on a hill! I have the perfect training course right in my backyard, so I'm setting out to run to the top without stopping. 

3. Use my ridiculous stash of gift cards I have a desk drawer full of gift cards.   I don't spend them because in my head they are "to be used for something special".  Guess what?  Right Now is a special time, and these are meant to be used.  When my kids receive a gift card, they can't wait to use it, so we set a date and time to take them to use it.  Why shouldn't I do the same thing with my gift cards?

4.  Learn to make cheese
Every year I take on a new cooking goal and it's been a fun tradition.  I have always wanted to learn how to make cheese, so this year is my year.   Specifically, Mozzarella, so I have signed up for a class, ordered my supplies and am going to dive into it. 

5.  Lose 36 pounds 
This is hard to admit, but there are 36 pounds separating me from my healthy self.   Grief has sent me to my very favorite friend for comfort named the Carbohydrate.  I know that I am happier when I am fitter and in better shape.   I have more energy and I'm really tired of feeling like this weight is holding me back from living my best life. Being thin isn't the ultimate goal, it's about feeling healthy.   I recognize, item number 4 might contradict this goal, but all things in moderation... right?
6.  Hike Weekly
One thing I have found to be just as therapeutic as writing, is hiking.   I have hiked a lot since the New Year and I love to be out enjoying nature.   I never regret the time I spend in the hills behind my house and it does wonders for my brain. 

7.  Learn to tie a Tie
This is a skill I can't believe I never learned growing up with two brothers.  As I watch Mr. Man try to teach our son, I can't help but think, "Why shouldn't I be learning this too?"

8.  Go out with my girlfriends more
I have leaned a lot on my friends in the last year, especially the Ya Ya's.   I have so many great friends locally, but when it comes time to spending time with them in the evenings, I tend to say, "No thanks."  I find myself curled on the couch with my computer in my lap because it's the easier option. I have never ever gone out with my girlfriends for a night out and not returned better than I left.   That is the magical thing about girlfriends, and why I deny myself of that gift,  is a crime.  

9.  Clean out my closet
This is tied into #5, I have a closet full of clothes, in an assortment of sizes.   They are all crammed together with the hopes of someday coming out again.  I think it's time to purge and start things fresh.  I have tried to clean it out and always said, "Well maybe one day.... " This is the year I decided that someday is now.

10.  Take my "Mom's Final Wish" Trip
My mom, *sigh* I miss her so much.  As I have struggled over the last few weeks navigating some challenges, I just think, "Dammit, I could really use my Mom's advice or encouragement."  I still feel way to young to navigate life without my mom, but I know many people feel this way no matter when they lose their mom. I took her encouragement for granted.
My mom had a final request and that was for my brothers and my dad to take her grandkids to Disneyland soon after she passed.  We haven't done it yet and it makes me feel guilty.  I know that wasn't her intent, but I can see her shaking her head in heaven and saying, "Make it happen...  there will always be a reason or excuse, that right now isn't the ideal time."  My brother and I feel strongly that we need to honor her request, so this year we will set a date and go.   
11. & 12.   Paint the Hall and Paint Mr. Boys Room
Boring, but these rooms have been on my to do list since we moved in.  The hallway has had paint swatch samples on the wall for over a year, and I feel guilty every time I walk down the hallway.   It's time to get it done so I can unpack that last box of family pictures for the hallway.   As for Mr. Boy, I have had the paint cans in the garage for a year now, it's time to use it before he decides it's time to change the theme for his room.