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April Mixed Bag

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April equals the arrival of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival here in the Pacific Northwest. This year the tulips are arriving late because of the cold temperatures we had February and March but just knowing they are coming gives me all of the Spring feels. Speaking of late arrivals I just put out my Easter-related décor last week and haven’t yet switched out our front pots to reflect the new season. Between traveling and succumbing to a nasty cold I’m a bit behind on my seasonal transition, just like the tulips. Welcome to April’s Mixed Bag, where I contemplate current events in my life and glean lessons to apply in the future. Marathon inspiration, bringing out the bunnies, when sickness slows you down and the ultimate packing challenge are all explored this week, please enjoy!

FInisher In The Family

LA Marathon Finisher

Our son Brooks ran the LA Marathon a couple of weeks ago; Jay and I flew down to LA to cheer him on. We were already feeling proud (and looking for any opportunity to mention the marathon to friends and innocent bystanders) but unprepared for how inspiring it was to see him cross the finish line. Neither Jay or I are serious runners, and until the past year neither was Brooks so it was especially impressive to us that he committed to do a marathon and the training required to be able to finish. I came away from the experience with the following takeaways: our son has grown into a real live adult who makes commitments and follows through AND when it comes to your kids sometimes actions speak louder than words. After training for a half marathon which he completed last fall Brooks decided to sign up for a full marathon in the Spring. He researched training plans, sought advice from family friends who were experienced distance runners and navigated routes in a completely new city he had just moved to. So actually running the race was admirable to me, but it was the preparation and commitment he demonstrated throughout the training process that impressed me more. Nice work, kid! I had background worry for years that my kids would not prioritize their fitness after they were done with high school sports. Turns out they are watching your example when you aren’t paying attention; all three of my kids have told me they noticed year over year as Jay and I prioritized our health by integrating fitness into our busy lives. This knowledge is validating and inspiring to me, helpful data points to draw on the next time I don’t feel like going on that training run…

Bunny Time

Easter is this coming weekend, have you decorated yet? I have such a hard time every year remembering to get out the collection of bunnies and eggs in inherited from my mother and place them in their honorary spots. It’s a combination of the fact that the timing of Easter Sunday fluctuates every year and the reality that March doesn’t usually feel very Springlike. In any case, over the years the bunnies made it out some years but not all as we were often traveling and it was an effort to round up the decorations since I hadn’t designated a permanent storage home for them so always had to root around a bit before finding them. In the years when they didn’t make it out my kids would inevitably notice and chastise me for slacking off.

Now that the kids aren’t here for Easter I have identified the bunnies’ off-season home (window seat drawer) and so getting them out isn’t a pain, I just have to remember to do it since the naggers aren’t here to do their job! Christmas and Hanukkah decorations seem to suck up all of the energy and effort around storage, and rightly so – there is usually a tree involved and a full 4-6 weeks of celebrating so there is a lot of stuff. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a little effort and planning into storage for the décor associated with the other, smaller holidays. Because there isn’t as much stuff it shouldn’t take up that much space, which makes it easier to find potential homes. If possible, keep it stored on the same floor where you put it out, this will improve the chances that you will actually put it out. And a lidded bin labeled ‘Easter’ isn’t hard to execute either, you likely won’t need more than one. Prep your environment now, so next Easter the March of the Bunnies will happen in a timely manner without a lot of fuss. Consider this a little plug for the bunnies, eggs and chicks aching to announce the arrival of Spring – they will do a much better job if you find them a comfortable off-season home!

Cold Recalibration

I was sick last week and it sucked. I rarely get sick and when I do I don’t quite know what to do with myself; it feels really awkward to do nothing. I had 2 really bad days and once I had somewhat recovered from those it was time to recalibrate and decide how to prioritize my time for the rest of the week. The exercise was helpful to me so I’m sharing it here in hopes that it may help someone who had an unexpected event hijack their routine and flip it on its head.

I had to first think about all of my regular priorities, for me they look like this (no particular order):

  • Workout

  • Walk Gus

  • Client Sessions

  • Client correspondence & research

  • Cook Dinner

  • Writing

Then I had to think about how to spend my limited energy and prioritize the list. The top priorities were Client Sessions (and thus keeping projects on track) and walking Gus. So I anchored my days with those 2 things and then assessed what I filled in around them. Client correspondence and research came next because I could do it from the couch and it didn’t take a lot of brain power. The remaining priorities fell off for that week: working out would take energy I needed for my Client sessions, plus I was moving my body in low-impact fashion on my Gus walks. I was able to pivot on the dinner front to avoid cooking, 1 night Jay cooked, one night we had leftovers and one night we got takeout. Writing got the shaft because it requires a lot of energy and chunks of time; I had neither coming off of that cold.

I was feeling overwhelmed and behind as I thought about getting off the couch and resuming my normal routine. Doing this exercise helped mitigate that stress, allowing me to focus on my health as well as the most urgent priorities. Being intentional about how to ramp back up after something throws you for a loop is the best thing you can do for yourself and your priorities. So if a nasty bug gets you this month take the time to purposefully recalibrate instead of plunging back in with 2 feet. Your body and your psyche will thank you!

New York State Of Mind

Jay and I are headed to New York in a week and we have plans to see friends, a Broadway show (or 2!), the new Jackie Robinson Museum and run across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s going to be a jam-packed 4 days and I’m really looking forward to it. I have been doing such a good job of packing lately that my carry-on has been getting all of the action. In fact I think it’s been a year since I checked a bag. But this trip is going to be a challenge because the weather is just turning Spring-like in New York, which means it’s not consistent and layers are in order. How am I going make this happen with only a carry-on? By using a few well-tested tactics – behold my strategy:

  • Comfy on the plane. Comfy and layered. The comfy part is a neutral sweatsuit. The layers include a light, neutral trench that will serve as outerwear, white sneakers I can dress up or down, and a white tee that I can layer under other outfits throughout the week. I will be wearing the same comfy outfit twice; once on the way there, once on the way home.

  • 2 Pairs of Shoes. Shoes take up the most space in your bag so you have to be surgical with your choices, no more than 2 for me on this trip (3 including the white sneakers I’m wearing on the plane.) In my bag will be running shoes and a pair of black loafers that are good for walking and will serve as an alternative to my sneakers.

  • Versatile Anchors. My anchors are denim (1 pair), a blazer and a cardigan. I will fill in around those items with button downs, camisoles and tees. Those last 3 items don’t take up much space so that’s where I will get my variety. But the anchors have to be versatile, full stop.

  • Streamlined Toilette. I will take minimal makeup, extra small sizes of moisturizer/eye cream and (critical!) a travel-size flat-iron that all fit securely in one toiletry bag. I used to take up a ton of space with multiple bags plus hair tools and have realized that additional clothing items serve me better than toilette when it comes to space in my bag. Be ruthless.

This month I’m looking forward to getting back on track with my writing, getting closer to launch on a new service I’ll be offering and of course I can’t wait for a few days in the Big Apple with Jay. Here’s to the arrival of the tulips and Spring arriving in full force!

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