Things I learned from my little ladies this weekend:

— Beauty can be gathered anywhere…sometimes best from your own backyard.

— It’s not necessarily how high you go, but how much you enjoy the ride that matters most.

A few things lately:
This song turned a tired, gray-morning drive to the studio into an instant wake-up-and-enjoy-the-ride kinda morning.

I swear I have 14 of these…and keep adding more colors to the collection.  Apparently my new uniform of sorts with skinnies and jackets/cardigans.

Avocado toast.  I’ve loved it for years, but have been on a streak lately…simple and straightforward for breakfast on-the-go or otherwise.  Just like it sounds—mash up half an avocado on a piece of toast (I have a ritual in how I prep the avocado for smashing, but I’ll spare you the details.  Feel free to email if you’re dying to know.) and then drizzle honey atop.  For a savory version (not really my style, but go for it) opt for sliced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and maybe even some shredded cheese.  Yeah, honey is way better.

A little bit (a lot) envious of Heather Clawson’s (of Habitually Chic) recent visit to a favorite designer’s atelier.  And dying over the prints used in the latest collection.

Bubble baths.  Used to detest them…now I can’t get enough.  When I don’t steal my daughters’ soaps for scrub-a-dubbing, this is my go-to (heavenly scent) and this is a close second, a family favorite passed down from my great-grandmother.
Happy weekend!

A few things lately:

  • This song turned a tired, gray-morning drive to the studio into an instant wake-up-and-enjoy-the-ride kinda morning.
  • I swear I have 14 of these…and keep adding more colors to the collection.  Apparently my new uniform of sorts with skinnies and jackets/cardigans.

  • Avocado toast.  I’ve loved it for years, but have been on a streak lately…simple and straightforward for breakfast on-the-go or otherwise.  Just like it sounds—mash up half an avocado on a piece of toast (I have a ritual in how I prep the avocado for smashing, but I’ll spare you the details.  Feel free to email if you’re dying to know.) and then drizzle honey atop.  For a savory version (not really my style, but go for it) opt for sliced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and maybe even some shredded cheese.  Yeah, honey is way better.
  • A little bit (a lot) envious of Heather Clawson’s (of Habitually Chic) recent visit to a favorite designer’s atelier.  And dying over the prints used in the latest collection.

  • Bubble baths.  Used to detest them…now I can’t get enough.  When I don’t steal my daughters’ soaps for scrub-a-dubbing, this is my go-to (heavenly scent) and this is a close second, a family favorite passed down from my great-grandmother.

Happy weekend!

hllwdhrts
It is no coincidence that the word “enjoy” starts with the sound “in.”  One must be all in to feel joy—to experience it, know it, live it.  Fully present in the moment, engaged completely in and entirely mindful of what is all around you, wholeheartedly invested in this life.  

There is no partial-ness, no one-foot-in-one-foot-out, no hesitation, no halfway, no maybe, no kinda-sorta, no trial run, no wait and see, no wavering, no distraction, no toe-dipping.  One must be immersed, jumping in with both feet, plunging to the depths with all one’s heart, soul, mind, body, and spirit.  No holding back anything-even the parts one may not be so keen to show—offering one’s true, authentic self in full.  For it is once every last drop is poured in to the moment that one is most filled with boundless, beautiful joy.  A life in joy.  A life to enjoy.

It is no coincidence that the word “enjoy” starts with the sound “in.” One must be all in to feel joy—to experience it, know it, live it. Fully present in the moment, engaged completely in and entirely mindful of what is all around you, wholeheartedly invested in this life.

There is no partial-ness, no one-foot-in-one-foot-out, no hesitation, no halfway, no maybe, no kinda-sorta, no trial run, no wait and see, no wavering, no distraction, no toe-dipping. One must be immersed, jumping in with both feet, plunging to the depths with all one’s heart, soul, mind, body, and spirit. No holding back anything-even the parts one may not be so keen to show—offering one’s true, authentic self in full. For it is once every last drop is poured in to the moment that one is most filled with boundless, beautiful joy. A life in joy. A life to enjoy.

To my Hollins Sisters [of the Alumnae Board]—

It’s almost as though a lifetime could fit into the past four years—births, sicknesses, successes, struggles, celebrations, absences, loss, uncertainty, renewal, endings, and beginnings.  You’ve seen me at my worst and my near-best and all in-between.  I arrived for our first gathering those years ago so excited but equally unsure—a recognition of the accomplished, amazing women who would also be part of our group, wondering what exactly I might be able to contribute.  Who was I to be on this board?  What did I bring to the table that a million others couldn’t even more adeptly?  

How short-sighted of me amongst a group of big-picture visionaries like you.  

You have been a touchstone for me.  Certainly in the place herself—protected and so gently surrounded by mountains, the campus settled serenely in a breathtaking valley, its geometric architectural arrangement another embrace around green spaces and hallowed walkways.  Above all, Tinker Mountain, like a loving, watchful mother, sends a subconscious signal that I am home—no matter how long it has been since my last visit.  Once through the gates, relief, joy, peace, and contentment seep in quickly but subtly.  I breath it in and revel in the tiniest details so familiar and cherished.

Beyond the geography of the place, it is you who are the soul of it.  We all are.  I am, I think, my best self with you in this place—mostly because I see your beauty, intellect, wisdom, your absolute original spirit reflected in my own.  Your encouragement, faith, trust, hope, sincerest support, and unhesitating constant-ness have urged me on these past years when I wasn’t certain I could—or wanted to, for that matter.  I am filled up with you and stronger having shared this time together.  

Though college years brought plentiful onstage performances of Marvin Gaye to fraternity and debutante crowds, it took an impromptu dance party to an audience of three to remind me of the courageous, fun-loving, authentic, remarkable spirit we all share.  Whatever I may have lost (or thought I did) is found—regained in your smiles, singing, clapping, dancing, head-back laughing, twirling, and whole-hearted celebration.  Though we have the video to prove it, I’ll not soon forget.  

With a few last moments on campus this past weekend (post-dance party) I rocked in the sun on the porch of Main, the quiet bareness of Front Quad in winter still so beautiful to me, and I smiled thinking of our time together.  I smiled even more surely, realizing with certainty and happiness (like a room without a roof!) that I’m becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be—the one I suppose I’ve been all along, but now have the strength to show.  Thank you—so much more than you know—for being part of her discovery.

To my Hollins Sisters [of the Alumnae Board]—

It’s almost as though a lifetime could fit into the past four years—births, sicknesses, successes, struggles, celebrations, absences, loss, uncertainty, renewal, endings, and beginnings. You’ve seen me at my worst and my near-best and all in-between. I arrived for our first gathering those years ago so excited but equally unsure—a recognition of the accomplished, amazing women who would also be part of our group, wondering what exactly I might be able to contribute. Who was I to be on this board? What did I bring to the table that a million others couldn’t even more adeptly?

How short-sighted of me amongst a group of big-picture visionaries like you.

You have been a touchstone for me. Certainly in the place herself—protected and so gently surrounded by mountains, the campus settled serenely in a breathtaking valley, its geometric architectural arrangement another embrace around green spaces and hallowed walkways. Above all, Tinker Mountain, like a loving, watchful mother, sends a subconscious signal that I am home—no matter how long it has been since my last visit. Once through the gates, relief, joy, peace, and contentment seep in quickly but subtly. I breath it in and revel in the tiniest details so familiar and cherished.

Beyond the geography of the place, it is you who are the soul of it. We all are. I am, I think, my best self with you in this place—mostly because I see your beauty, intellect, wisdom, your absolute original spirit reflected in my own. Your encouragement, faith, trust, hope, sincerest support, and unhesitating constant-ness have urged me on these past years when I wasn’t certain I could—or wanted to, for that matter. I am filled up with you and stronger having shared this time together.

Though college years brought plentiful onstage performances of Marvin Gaye to fraternity and debutante crowds, it took an impromptu dance party to an audience of three to remind me of the courageous, fun-loving, authentic, remarkable spirit we all share. Whatever I may have lost (or thought I did) is found—regained in your smiles, singing, clapping, dancing, head-back laughing, twirling, and whole-hearted celebration. Though we have the video to prove it, I’ll not soon forget.

With a few last moments on campus this past weekend (post-dance party) I rocked in the sun on the porch of Main, the quiet bareness of Front Quad in winter still so beautiful to me, and I smiled thinking of our time together. I smiled even more surely, realizing with certainty and happiness (like a room without a roof!) that I’m becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be—the one I suppose I’ve been all along, but now have the strength to show. Thank you—so much more than you know—for being part of her discovery.

Learn to love the fool in you, the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.
It alone protects you against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom you also harbor and who would rob you of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for your fool.
Theodore Isaac Rubin
Finding joy in the ordinary.  Whether it’s your morning commute of frustration and beating the clock or a beautiful drive celebrating blue skies on a sunny, sunroof-open Friday morning (perhaps with hands in the air and scream-singing at the top of your lungs with two toddlers) it is always a choice.   And lately I’m choosing joy.  So far so awesome.

Finding joy in the ordinary. Whether it’s your morning commute of frustration and beating the clock or a beautiful drive celebrating blue skies on a sunny, sunroof-open Friday morning (perhaps with hands in the air and scream-singing at the top of your lungs with two toddlers) it is always a choice. And lately I’m choosing joy. So far so awesome.

On our way to meet friends to see Frozen this weekend, my daughters and I ran into traffic and arrived at the theatre a few minutes late.

"I’m sorry, the 2:40 showing is sold out.  The next one is at 7:50," said the man at the ticket window.  Our friends were already seated inside.  I didn’t want to disappoint the girls after promising them a fun movie afternoon, and I certainly wasn’t considering waiting around for five hours to make it happen, so I asked what else was showing in the next few minutes that was kid-friendly.

“The Lego Movie is in previews now, so you’d be right on time for that one.”

"Sold.  Three tickets please," I responded, already chalking up the next hour and a half of my life to an animated feature that would inevitably suck but hopefully entertain two toddlers.

"It’s 3-D, is that okay?" he asked.

I laughed, looking down at the girls and imagining the fiasco that accessories tend to create for our crew, and said, “Well, it’s gonna have to be,” and took the glasses and our tickets from him and headed inside.

There’s a lesson here.  A few actually. (I’m sure you’re shocked.)

1. The most obvious: buy your tickets in advance.  Rookie mistake.  Won’t happen again.

2. Just because a movie is about a toy that your brother played with growing up (while you organized your rock collection for the 867th time) doesn’t mean it’s going to suck.  (i.e. Don’t judge a movie by its title.)

3. When you hear Will Ferrell’s voice, you know it’s going to be good.  I’d marry that guy tomorrow if he asked, purely based on his performance in Elf alone. (I die over this scene.  Every time.) But add some Ricky Bobby, Spartans, cow bell, and a Step Brother, and he has essentially solidified his status as dreamboat in my world.  (Humor makes all the difference.)

4. Everything is more fun with glasses.  My little ladies giggled as I helped each of them put on their sweet shades, and they could not stop checking one another out—fascinated by both the novelty and sophistication of it all.  (Always accessorize.)

5. Always have snacks in your purse. Or candy.  Or, ideally, both. I realize I was in direct violation of cinema code when I smuggled the leftover Valentine’s candy into the theatre, but there is no way I was spending $8 for a handful of Sour Patch Kids when I have an entire shoebox of conversation hearts, Starbursts, chocolate kisses, Twizzlers, and pop rocks at my disposal for free.  And after three days of begging for that ring pop, my older daughter’s dreams finally came true.  Priceless. (Sweets save the day.)

6. Do your own thing. I looked over at my younger daughter about halfway through the movie and realized she was no longer wearing her glasses.  Concerned she was missing out, I tried to put them back on for her and she shook her head, saying, “I like it without.” Sure, it’s odd (and not to mention really blurry) to watch a 3D movie without 3D glasses, but that girl has always done her own thing and been totally fine with it.  She does not care one bit what anyone else thinks/does/says, and she follows her own path without hesitation, fully and completely embodying the “marches to her own beat” philosophy while having a hell of a good time in the process.  I have to say I love her attitude and would be thrilled to think she got it from her mother.  (But if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you know the likelihood of that is, well, slim at best.)  I’m just now getting the hang of this at 35, and at 3, she’s solid. Better late than never, though, right?

7. Be flexible. Be open. Be along for the ride. I’ll admit when I heard the words, “Sold out” at the ticket window, there was a moment (albeit a brief one) of panic when I realized my plan was not falling into place. Once I took a step back and rolled with the punches, it worked out perhaps even better than I expected.  Not only did we have the opportunity to laugh and live it up with sweet snacks together on a cold and gray winter day, but it occurred to me about five minutes in to the feature that it was our first-ever 3D movie—not just together, but for each of us.  So, there we were, on a random Saturday afternoon, putting another fun “first” into the books without even planning on it.      

I realize I am finding lessons in everything lately, and while this is incredibly fulfilling and interesting for me, I wonder if it is entirely annoying for everyone else.  Do my friends and family think, “Bless her heart. Will she ever just go to the movies, enjoy the film, and leave it at that?”  I get it—part of me would love to live a life a little less examined (despite what they say about an unexamined life) and leave this analyzing and insight aside once in a while.  But most of me hopes I never stop learning.  For me, the lessons allow life to be lived to its fullest—in its greatest dimension, since we’re on the topic—and in wonder at what it endlessly has to offer us at every turn—even (and often) when we least expect it.

On our way to meet friends to see Frozen this weekend, my daughters and I ran into traffic and arrived at the theatre a few minutes late.

"I’m sorry, the 2:40 showing is sold out. The next one is at 7:50," said the man at the ticket window. Our friends were already seated inside. I didn’t want to disappoint the girls after promising them a fun movie afternoon, and I certainly wasn’t considering waiting around for five hours to make it happen, so I asked what else was showing in the next few minutes that was kid-friendly.

The Lego Movie is in previews now, so you’d be right on time for that one.”

"Sold. Three tickets please," I responded, already chalking up the next hour and a half of my life to an animated feature that would inevitably suck but hopefully entertain two toddlers.

"It’s 3-D, is that okay?" he asked.

I laughed, looking down at the girls and imagining the fiasco that accessories tend to create for our crew, and said, “Well, it’s gonna have to be,” and took the glasses and our tickets from him and headed inside.

There’s a lesson here. A few actually. (I’m sure you’re shocked.)

1. The most obvious: buy your tickets in advance. Rookie mistake. Won’t happen again.

2. Just because a movie is about a toy that your brother played with growing up (while you organized your rock collection for the 867th time) doesn’t mean it’s going to suck. (i.e. Don’t judge a movie by its title.)

3. When you hear Will Ferrell’s voice, you know it’s going to be good. I’d marry that guy tomorrow if he asked, purely based on his performance in Elf alone. (I die over this scene. Every time.) But add some Ricky Bobby, Spartans, cow bell, and a Step Brother, and he has essentially solidified his status as dreamboat in my world. (Humor makes all the difference.)

4. Everything is more fun with glasses. My little ladies giggled as I helped each of them put on their sweet shades, and they could not stop checking one another out—fascinated by both the novelty and sophistication of it all. (Always accessorize.)

5. Always have snacks in your purse. Or candy. Or, ideally, both. I realize I was in direct violation of cinema code when I smuggled the leftover Valentine’s candy into the theatre, but there is no way I was spending $8 for a handful of Sour Patch Kids when I have an entire shoebox of conversation hearts, Starbursts, chocolate kisses, Twizzlers, and pop rocks at my disposal for free. And after three days of begging for that ring pop, my older daughter’s dreams finally came true. Priceless. (Sweets save the day.)

6. Do your own thing. I looked over at my younger daughter about halfway through the movie and realized she was no longer wearing her glasses. Concerned she was missing out, I tried to put them back on for her and she shook her head, saying, “I like it without.” Sure, it’s odd (and not to mention really blurry) to watch a 3D movie without 3D glasses, but that girl has always done her own thing and been totally fine with it. She does not care one bit what anyone else thinks/does/says, and she follows her own path without hesitation, fully and completely embodying the “marches to her own beat” philosophy while having a hell of a good time in the process. I have to say I love her attitude and would be thrilled to think she got it from her mother. (But if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you know the likelihood of that is, well, slim at best.) I’m just now getting the hang of this at 35, and at 3, she’s solid. Better late than never, though, right?

7. Be flexible. Be open. Be along for the ride. I’ll admit when I heard the words, “Sold out” at the ticket window, there was a moment (albeit a brief one) of panic when I realized my plan was not falling into place. Once I took a step back and rolled with the punches, it worked out perhaps even better than I expected. Not only did we have the opportunity to laugh and live it up with sweet snacks together on a cold and gray winter day, but it occurred to me about five minutes in to the feature that it was our first-ever 3D movie—not just together, but for each of us. So, there we were, on a random Saturday afternoon, putting another fun “first” into the books without even planning on it.

I realize I am finding lessons in everything lately, and while this is incredibly fulfilling and interesting for me, I wonder if it is entirely annoying for everyone else. Do my friends and family think, “Bless her heart. Will she ever just go to the movies, enjoy the film, and leave it at that?” I get it—part of me would love to live a life a little less examined (despite what they say about an unexamined life) and leave this analyzing and insight aside once in a while. But most of me hopes I never stop learning. For me, the lessons allow life to be lived to its fullest—in its greatest dimension, since we’re on the topic—and in wonder at what it endlessly has to offer us at every turn—even (and often) when we least expect it.

Several months ago I was in one of my favorite cities ever for a brief buying trip, and I woke up in my hotel knowing it was going to be a fantastic day. I had a full day of sourcing materials ahead of me, and I couldn’t wait to enjoy breakfast at a beloved spot in town before I had to make things happen, so I headed there on foot, a gorgeous fall day greeting me en route.

There was a bit of a wait, so I gave the gal my name and told her I’d be window-shopping down the block (I covet a pair of hand-made leather sandals on display in a nearby shop EVERY time I’m in town) in the meantime. As I stood before the shoe store window debating the design I’d choose one of these days, I heard—loud and clear as an effing bell—“Maynard, party of one! Maynard, party of one!” from the screen door of the restaurant.

First of all, who even yells sh*t like that anymore? “Party of” whatever…I swear I haven’t heard that since, like, 1992. Secondly, why on God’s green earth would you yell, “Party of one!” when there is LITERALLY only one person waiting for a table? And that person has told you where they’d be if and when the table became available. Honestly, if I had been in any sort of mood other than the awesome one I was in, I might have used some fightin’ words. (Kinda like what I wanted to do when a gal I know offered this golden, insightful, suggestion when I mentioned having put my daughter’s bike together myself until all hours of the night for a Christmas gift: “That’s when you need to find a cute boy to help you.” She’s lucky I had my hands full…I contemplated punching. Or at least flicking. Or some stern words on something along the lines of having a backbone and being independent and strong and doing things for one’s self. But, I digress.) Instead, my first instinct—and the one that seems perfectly right-on with my mindset—was to laugh. I laughed out loud (enough for people on nearby park bench to laugh with me) and walked toward the restaurant and realized, as I pondered the “party of one” designation, that I was perfectly okay with flying solo. That, actually, I have a really good time with myself. That being alone is COMPLETELY different than being lonely. That enjoying your own company is a really, really, really great thing.

So I sat at my table just for me and smiled the entire way through breakfast. I may have been the only diner in the place without table companions, but I loved every minute of my meal and didn’t wish—even for one second—that anyone else was there with me. Not that I don’t love other people. Friends and family are wonderful, amazing, irreplaceable elements of a happy life, and I am thankful every day for them. I also am perfectly at ease doing my own thing, and this was a morning in which I celebrated just that. My own thing. Party of one.

Fast forward a few months to this past weekend, when I attended a favorite charity event—a ball no less—sans date. It didn’t even cross my mind to ask someone to join me, honestly. I went stag. Or kind-of as the 7th wheel with a group of girlfriends and their husbands. But mostly stag. I didn’t even know what I was going to wear until about an hour before the thing started, I grabbed an old-as-the-hills vintage dress and some hot pink heels out of the deep, dark depths of my closet, completely forgot to shave my legs in the shower, and I drove myself there because I was too impatient to wait for the cab. And…after all that…I had the best time ever. Ever.

I danced as much as I wanted to, caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in almost a year, hugged others I see weekly, met new people I’d never have spoken to had I been partnered-up for the evening (yeah, I’m talking about you, guy-who-carries-rocks-in-his-pockets-and-just-built-his-own-tennis-courts-in-the-backyard…you were interesting) and never once had to check in with anyone about whether it was time to leave, stay, bid on an auction item, or any damn thing at all. I was in charge of my evening, and I was, essentially, the best date I’ve ever had.

Don’t get me wrong—I would love to have a fun date with a boy one of these days. Maybe even a few dates sometime. And, eventually, after a lot of dates, share my life with someone down the road. I have never had the pleasure and honor and fullness of that experience in its truest sense, and I feel certain it is something I want. But…I see that those are pretty big shoes to fill after my fun evening flying solo last night. (And hot pink high-heeled shoes, at that.) So until then, it’s “Maynard, party of one,” and, I have to be honest, it looks like it’s going to be a ton of fun.

There are fewer pleasures as simple and fun as dinner and a movie.  Especially on a freezing-cold night after a full day at work…just leaving it all behind, eating something delicious while losing yourself in the happenings of someone else’s life.  And going no father than your own couch to do it?  Awesome.  

Pork tenderloin, Brussel sprouts (I make up my own recipe every time, but it’s pretty much chopped sprouts, bacon, olive oil, lemon slices, and pecans in a skillet) some tasty French wine, and even a French movie…kinda already looking forward to my next night in.

There are fewer pleasures as simple and fun as dinner and a movie. Especially on a freezing-cold night after a full day at work…just leaving it all behind, eating something delicious while losing yourself in the happenings of someone else’s life. And going no father than your own couch to do it? Awesome.

Pork tenderloin, Brussel sprouts (I make up my own recipe every time, but it’s pretty much chopped sprouts, bacon, olive oil, lemon slices, and pecans in a skillet) some tasty French wine, and even a French movie…kinda already looking forward to my next night in.