In early 2006, I began creating a life book for my daughter, Alex. Click here for links to articles describing my experience.
And for those of you who are more digitally inclined, in late 2006, I recreated key pages of Alex's lifebook for an article I wrote for AlphaMom, using Scrapblog.
You can see the final digital result (and leave comments, if you'd like!) here.
These shots were taken this afternoon. I swear the child grew an inch and increased her vocabularly five-fold in my two-day absence. Nonetheless, these photos are pretty typical of her everyday expressions.
View from our hotel window about 7 a.m. this morning
Before I begin, let me just say that someone needs to take my credit card away before I charge again. I'm just sayin'.
So, hello! From Miami! The trip so far as been successful beyond belief. I'm officially flat broke. Also? My friend Joanna is the Empress of All That Is Shopping. Seriously. Marcus, if you're reading this, I never want to hear you complain about my shopping habits again. Dude, there are worse. And I'm here to tell you that I have witnessed it.
I've had a really good time, and today especially has been great. Joanna unfortunately had to go to work today, so I was left to my own devices to do some sightseeing. After an early morning jog (now accepting your admiration), I showered and headed out to Lincoln Road. Kudos to Susan for recommending that road, because it was really impressive. When I got there, the stores hadn't opened (not that I spent anything, because I did all my shopping yesterday, and again, I'm FLAT BROKE), but I had breakfast at an outdoor cafe, and then just wandered down the road, window shopping. Afterwards, I headed to Ocean Drive (the road with all the art-deco buildings they show on any show that features Miami), and did a bit of touring there. Then, this afternoon, I met a friend of mine, Ryan, who I hadn't seen for a while, for a couple of drinks -- he recently got engaged, so it called for a celebration.
Wonderful trip, although now I'm officially missing Marcus and Alexis like a madwoman. We have an early flight tomorrow, so I'll be home in less than 24 hours. Thank goodness.
In the meantime, enjoy these photos taken from today.
The view from my table where I had my steak-and-eggs breakfast. Shut up. Did I mention I jogged today?
Ocean Drive. I felt decidedly overdressed as I walked down this street in my tank top: apparently, the proper apparel is a bikini top and a swagger. At least I had sunglasses.
A view from my barstool at Finnegan's pub.
What? A girl's gotta drink...
... and this is what I drank. The bartender, Kathy, said it was a "Miami Cooler." Mmmmm.
Did you catch that pronoun? I'm flying. As in Me. Myself. I. Alone.
Okay, I'm not exactly going to be alone -- my good friend, Joanna, is flying to Miami for work, and I rather rudely asked if I could tag along. Because, as I've learned the hard way, I can only go so long without a Target.
I'm not going for very long -- just a couple of days -- but the emotions I'm feeling about this trip are overwhelming. On one hand, I'm going to miss Marcus and Alex like the dickens: it's been close to two years since I've traveled alone without them, and honestly, I'm not sure I can sleep without Marcus holding my hand, or Alex flung wildly across my body. On the other hand (and here's the part where the Catholic guilt kicks in), I'm traveling alone without them. It's like a glimpse of my single life again. And while I wouldn't want to go back to being single or childless for anything in the world, it is rather exciting to be on my own for a few days. Since Joanna will be working on Friday, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with myself all day...
...anyway, I'm sure I'll think of something (incidentally, if any of you have any great ideas on what you would do if you had about 10 hours alone in Miami, feel free to share). I'll try to check in while I'm traveling, if only to say to you that yes, I have confirmed that in my absence my poor child, while in the 99% capable arms of her father, hasn't had her hair combed, not once.
No offense, Marcus. I'm just sayin'.
In the meantime, enjoy these photos taken at the pool this afternoon.
Dried streambed through bamboo, next to the road in front of our home
I am in such sad shape.
Okay, that's not entirely true. I benchpress a reasonable amount. I can do 100 crunches in one go easily without breaking a sweat. But my aerobic capacity? Pathetic. Really. It's the running thing -- I just can't do it. This is odd, because I'm a walking champ. I have no doubt that I could walk a half-marathon cold without training, at a pretty decent clip (say, 4-1/2 miles an hour). I could probably do a full marathon with merely a couple of weeks training. But to take that pace up to a slow jog? I'm useless. I can't even go 200 feet, I bet. Push me to run, and in no time flat I'm heaving and coughing and alarming anyone who is close enough to witness.
Anyway, this morning, as I was coming up with items to feature on Blogging Baby, I came upon this article in Scientific American. The article basically says that married mothers who work outside of the home are healthier and slimmer than their stay-at-home counterparts. I found this article vaguely offensive, although I can't really put my finger on why. Is it because I'm inferring some sort of insidious implication that women who stay home with their kids are lazy? Or maybe it's just that I feel healthy, and am incensed that the article would intimate otherwise?
Or perhaps it's just that I'm petrified that now that I stay at home with Alex, the article might actually be right?
The truth is, I think as far as my life is concerned, the article is dead wrong. I've lost weight since staying at home, and Lord knows that without the corporate stress, I'm a far nicer person. Still, the article has prompted me to forevermore prove that its premise is inaccurate:
This morning, I went running.
People, it was ugly. I only went about 2 miles, and I probably actually ran only about an eighth of it, walking and wheezing the rest. This cannot continue.
So I'm making this public commitment that by July 16th, my 39th birthday, I'll be able to run the entire 2 miles. That's right people, when those of you who are attending BlogHer see me, you'll find yourself gasping, "My GOD! Look at the SLEEK RUNNER'S PHYSIQUE on Karen!"
Okay, perhaps that's a bit unrealistic. But hopefully, you'll at least notice my healthy glow.
Anyway, to make this interesting, every Tuesday between now and then I'll make a note of how many inches I've lost -- keeping in mind that I won't be dieting, since I don't believe in it, so I don't expect a drastic change. I do however, expect some change, so I'll measure my chest, waist and hips and put the cumulative inches lost at the bottom of every Tuesday post. And since misery loves company, feel free to join me -- particularly if you're a stay-at-home mom. Find something you enjoy to do, get moving, measure yourself on Tuesdays, and leave you cumulative inches lost in the comments. Do it anonymously, if you'd like, but let's get fit together. The worst that'll happen is that we'll all look better in bikinis, right?
Okay, then. Only 8 more weeks until July 16. Ready?
Our official Mother's Day 2006 portrait, taken today by Marcus.
This post is coming to you from deep in the bowels of a food hangover. I had a wonderful Mother's Day, but such is the risk of marrying a man who can cook: it was like Christmas all up in here today -- turkey, and stuffing, and roasted potatoes, and...
...and all-in-all a great day.
Here's hoping your day was equally fantastic -- mom or not!
I can't tell you how much I love this CD. It's currently being played over and over again in my car. If you like Tracy Chapman, or even more similarly, Everything But the Girl, you will love The Weepies. Run, do not walk, over to this site to purchase the CD now (international delivery available). And if the track entitled Vegas, Baby doesn't have you daydreaming of driving through the American desert in a old convertible at sundown, then I don't know what to say to you.
- PG Tips -- Trinis are tea drinkers, and spent my childhood and adult life drinking mine the English way, with milk and sugar. Of course, I grew up believing that Lipton's was the only tea up to the task of being drunk this way, a belief that was immediately greeted with unmitigated derision upon landing in London a few years ago. A friend turned me onto PG Tips, and I've never looked back (and now, actually, Lipton's tastes like dirty dishwater to me).
Unfortunately, PG Tips is unavailable in Trinidad, so anytime we go to England (or back to the States, where it's available in international food stores), we hoard it like squirrels. We recently ran out of our supply; however, Marcus' mum and brother kindly brought an obscene amount with them from England during their recent visit (thanks Matt & Diana!). And so, I'm reminded again that one of the true pleasures of my day is in the late afternoon when Marcus brings me a steaming cup, made with a dash of milk and way too much sugar -- just the way I like it.
And yet, I love writing and calligraphy and colour. So I decided that instead of frustrating myself by trying to "create art," I'd simply journal by handwriting my thoughts -- but using colour as I did it.
So now, I capture my words and thoughts every day in colour. I bought these great Staedtler pens (which, incidentally, write like a dream) and started jotting notes. Sometimes it turns into just a colourful to-do list. Sometimes, I just write down a great quote I heard. Still others turn into a Chookooloonks post (like this one has). But it's so nice to have a tangible record of my thoughts -- often in living colour.
And you? What's making you happy lately? Share the love -- and provide links, if available!
Thanks so much for sharing yourselves with me in my last post. As those of you who are living authentic lives, it's a good feeling, isn't it? I'm getting there, and I'm happier than I've ever been. For those of you aren't, particularly because of your jobs, trust me, I feel your pain. Viscerally. I've never spoken about my job before moving to Trinidad, but suffice to say that I was there, man -- hating everything about my job, and hating myself for putting up with it. My best advice: plan your escape. Seriously. Even if you can't quit now, because you need the job or benefits or whatever, plan how you can work yourself into a better position, better career, better life. I say this for two reasons: (1) Life's too short to be unhappy, and (2) sometimes the planning for the future is just what you need to make yourself feel better about dealing with the present. And know I wish you the very best.
As for me, I'm diligently working on my own authenticity -- at least as regards to my writing. It's time to start being more selective about what I write, and where I contribute, and I'm in the process of mapping out a plan (because, you know, you gotta have a plan). I'm sure I'll share it with you as it all unfolds. In the meantime, I'd love you to check out two things and tell me what you think:
- My latest article on DotMoms -- I'm not sure if I mentioned that I'm writing there? If not, well, I am -- not particularly often (Lord knows I'm busy writing elsewhere!), but I do occasionally contribute; and
- this. It's an idea I'm toying with, at least while I'm still in my 30-day-free trial period on Typepad. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Back when Marcus and I were dating, and our conversations turned to marriage, Marcus asked me what kind of engagement ring I'd like. "I really don't care," I responded. "As long as it's not a diamond."
Now, I have nothing against diamonds -- they are, after all, a girl's best friend -- but I did (and do) have a problem with what they've come to represent. Call me a cynic, but it seems to me that when a woman becomes engaged and proudly shows off her ring, more often than not her girlfriends are sizing up the diamond that her man decided to spring for -- as if that was a measure of their love. I didn't want that for us. In my mind, the ring was a symbol of commitment -- it didn't matter what it was made of.
As serendipity would have it, one day while we were walking through the tiny village where Marcus lived, we happened to look in the window of a small antique store -- and fell in love with a ring that was on display. It was cheap -- a moonstone, set in silver -- but we both loved it, and bought it on the spot. Since then, every once in a while Marcus checks with me to see if I've changed my mind about a diamond, but I haven't, and I won't -- my moonstone feel authentic to me. I wouldn't trade it for the largest diamond in the world.
I tell you this story, because I've been thinking about the story of my ring since entering into an ongoing conversation with an online friend about authenticity. This woman is possibly the most authentic person I know: in every part of her life, from her career to her family life, she is absolutely true to herself and to her soul. And through our conversations, she's been (somewhat inadvertently, but not really) challenging me to examine my own life and see where I'm being authentic -- true to myself -- and where I'm not. While I'm being far truer to my soul than I was, say, 18 months ago, when I was still working at the Very Large Corporation and miserable every moment I spent at that job, there are areas in my life where I probably still need to work on authenticity and truth. I suppose that's true for all of us.
In that vein, I've decided to take a look at all the projects I'm involved in, and adjust my participation in them accordingly. In some areas -- BlogHer immediately comes to mind -- you'll probably see me more often. In others, I'll probably start paring back. Chookooloonks, however, shall remain as strong as ever -- because if there's a project that most strongly comes from Me, that project is Chookooloonks.
This new focus, however, does leave Indigo Leaf in a bit of a bind. While I still love the idea of the project, and it has received overwhelming support from readers, I'm just not getting submissions. Since the point of Indigo Leaf is to provide a forum for unpublished writers and artists, if people aren't interested in submitting, I honestly can't spend the time poking and prodding people to do so -- mostly because spending that time was starting to feel like a chore, as opposed to an avocation. Besides, the point wasn't to nag people into doing something they weren't ready to do -- it's to just be there in the event an artist was ready to show his or her work.
So, therefore, I'll update and publish Indigo Leaf with my latest submissions this week; however, after this, it will no longer be a monthly publication. I'll probably keep it live for another 9 months or so, at the very least (after all, I've sunk a significant amount of time and money into it to get it this far), but will probably only publish quarterly, or whenever I receive good quality work.
Thanks to all of you who continue to visit Chookooloonks and leave your great words, and to those of you who've supported Indigo Leaf -- it means so much. The upshot is that I'm actually very, very proud of I've accomplished both here and at Indigo Leaf (and other venues that allow me to be creative) -- the experience is providing me the luxury of being a bit picky about where I spend my time. And as my ring reminds me, it's allowing me to remember to focus on being authentic.
What about you -- is there anywhere you could use some more authenticity in your life?