* written over the month of March, in dribs and drabs as I catch moments here and there.
DOING: sitting at my writing desk in the corner of our bedroom. Joan is napping in her room and I'm taking a moment to write. This past month, we moved Joan into her own bed for naps (see this post for more details), and while she falls asleep happily (her very own "Beddy!" is still a novelty), she rarely sleeps more than 45 minutes. This means I only answer a handful of emails and barely finish my coffee before we're back at it, but it also means that she's sincerely ready to conk out by 7pm, and that is AWESOME. Ben has been away for work a bit lately, usually for 4 nights at a time, and on these occasions it is always a treat if Joan goes down easily. And you know, what? I have been really enjoying my evening solo time. I have a shower, then spend a crazy long time stretching and moisturising, getting clean and relaxed and comfortable. I'll get myself a snack and quietly cozy into our big bed, beside Joan, and watch a show on my computer. Little things like fresh sheets, clean feet and a bowl of yoghurt + honey are my bliss.
HEARING: Vallis Alps. I found these guys over the summer and have been listening to them on repeat. "Young" became my Summer anthem.
LOOKING: at the light on my desk. It's mid-morning and the sun is shining through the trees, causing shadows of leaves to sway over my desk. Autumn is my favourite time of year. The air is clean and crisp, and the leaves are yellow and orange and brown and crunchy. Collecting and crunching leaves is something I love to do, and this Autumn I plan on making Joan my leaf-collecting + crunching sidekick.
DRINKING: coffee. My weekday routine of late has to make a coffee as soon as Joan naps, which tends to be around 11:30am. I usually have a green tea in the morning, which keeps me going until my beloved, peaceful coffee moment.
EATING + COOKING: Joan is still in the habit of asking for a smoothie immediately upon waking in the morning, so our breakfast routine has looked like a smoothie for Joan, and a snack for me, followed by toast for both. My snack is usually some sort of veg, either a carrot or steamed green beans, plus a spoonful of almond butter and sometimes a date. If I'm craving a morning walk, which I usually am, she'll eat her toast while I walk and I'll eat when we get home. We've fallen into this routine over the past months and it's nice, we like it. I'm still super into nut butter and avocado on my sourdough toast, and on the weekends I tend to make scrambled eggs for the three of us, though I sense a pastry ritual may begin soon. Growing up in my parents' house, Sunday morning often meant croissants, and I think we may do the same.
Beyond breakfast, I've been loving meal planning for dinner. I purchased a whiteboard & marker from Target (thanks for the idea, Ness!), and popped it on my fridge at eye level. I've found a clear plan for me to refer to throughout the week to be super helpful in allowing me to use all the produce we get in our farm box. It has also encouraged me to be more creative with what I make - something about writing it out leaves me inspired. Joan and I will flip through cookbooks and look for recipes, under the guise that we're looking for "Go, Go!" scooters (she's obsessed). Provided I have a Jamie Oliver book or two on hand (seriously, the dude is always on a scooter), we will both walk away satisfied - me with a few recipe ideas and Joan having spotted a few "Go, Go!!". Though I must say, I haven't been feeling all that inspired in the cooking department. Usually food is at the top of my mind, but lately it's lost its sparkle. Simple and satisfying food, like pasta and chickpea dishes, have been dominating the whiteboard. I made chickpea + carrot patties from Emma's book, A Year in My Real Food Kitchen, which were a big hit. In fact, I might make them again this week. I've also been slow-roasting trays of tomatoes and using them to make rich pasta sauces, in addition to breakfasts like this. And then it's been bolognese and pesto pasta, things I can throw together without thinking.
WANTING: in the immediate future, like right now? A fresh watermelon + raspberry + mint juice would be nice. We want a blender, a really great one! I'm currently using my mum's mini food processor to make smoothies, as my old one was faulty, and we're on the hunt for a whizz bang blender. I want to be able to throw veggies and other chunky stuff in and have it blend-up super smooth. Does anyone have a blender recommendation? I've been looking online but I loath product research. I get overwhelmed, close my computer and walk away. We're happy to spend money on it, as we use it every day and it's something all three of us really enjoy.
On a different, oooooh slightly more important note, I would love for our country to afford parents of newborns and babies the choice to take career breaks, to go back to work on flexible terms, or to stay home. Without judgement. I hear so often that people didn't have a choice but to go back to work earlier than they'd have liked, and while in Australia we do get some financial support (and we're much better off than some countries, the USA, for example), it's still not great. The thing is, we need to value what it takes to raise humans more than we currently do, and we need to support women instead of shaming them. This topic has been on my mind lately, as I reflect on my life choices (and how privileged I am to have such choices), and discuss with friends who are in similar stages of life - what to do with work and fitting in babies with careers. Many people study for years and years, and when they finally get to sink their teeth into their work, they are told "the clock is ticking". And that's true, I guess, but if we value strong workers in addition to future generations, then we need to recognise the fact that women need time to grow, birth and nurture a baby, and that they'll be a better parent AND a better worker if they're properly supported in this, instead of pressuring people to "do it all" and act as though nothing has changed after their baby leaves their body. I think our current system sets both employees and employers up to have ridiculous expectations about what life is like after a baby. No one does it all, sacrifices have to be made, because things have changed. If we want happy and strong women in the workforce (and we do, our voices and skills are so valuable), we need better support, more flexible conditions and access to convenient and affordable childcare. A good number of my working parent friends have this, however many don't. All this talk in the media surrounding the "best" thing for women to do is unhelpful and disrespectful, and doesn't even address the real problem. Because I don't think it's women's choices that are the issue, I think it's the fact that many don't feel as though they have a choice... and if they do have a choice, their decision for what is best for their family and themselves is not respected. Friends joke about moving to Norway or Sweden (or another country that appears to respect the fact that after you have a baby, things are going to be a little different and you may need support and flexibility, instead of being made to feel guilty that you're either "neglecting your children" or "draining the economy"), but truly, that sounds appealing. We really need to better value the incredible contribution women make to our world, in the home and outside of the home. Yeah...that's been on my mind lately. Had to get it out.
PLAYING: well, this answer seems rather trivial after the previous one, but I'll go with it anyway. We've been playing with dear little finger puppets that Ben and I bought Joan for her first Christmas. There's a frog, a penguin and a dog (though the dog's head is dangling by a thread, which is a touch unsettling). I recently found them in a drawer and Joan thinks they are just the most precious toys. She gasps and claps her hands together whenever she sees them.
DECIDING: where we should go camping. We've got one trip booked with friends coming up, and I am keen to find another spot for May. Our recent trial run of assembling the tent has left me fired up, eager to hang out in nature and cook over a camp stove.
ENJOYING: this coffee. I have been up since 4:30am this morning and it feels like a joke. I'm not a napper, I'd just prefer to go to bed early, which I do anyway as recently Joan has decided that 5:30am is a nice time to start her day. Anyway, I'm tired.
WATCHING: Last month I finished The Night Of, which I loved and was floored by the performances. Now I am watching season 1 of Fargo on Netlix and it's going alright. I'm not super into it, but I loved the movie and I hear it gets really good, so I think I'll ride out the uncomfortable start (because I'm fairly certain that is the precise response the creaters were shooting for). I also gave the Santa Clarita Diet a go, though after finding the first 3-4 episodes absolutely hilarious, I lost interest. Update: I recently discovered Atlanta and it is GREAT! And last week I watched this documentary (and encouraged all my clients to watch if they hadn't already - I'm late to the party on this one), and it was fabulous. Afterwards, I felt so proud to be a woman and blessed to have a strong and healthy body, and more inspired than ever to promote body positivity. Taryn's TED talk gives a wonderful taste of her message.
READING: I finally finished The Trespasser (WOOHOO! It only took me three or four months), and found it enjoyable but not life-changing-good. I want life-changing-good books. Joan and I were at the library the other day and on my way to the cookbook section, I saw a copy of Big Magic. I've heard Elizabeth Gilbert interviewed on multiple podcasts about her book and found her passion and respect for creativity inspiring, so I grabbed the book and have been reading a section or two in the morning or at night, before bed. This book has left me hungry to create, and to unapologetically own what feels magical to me. I love that it doesn't encourage everyone to quit their jobs and devote their life to their craft, rather to colour your life with that which brings you joy. Journalling and connecting with others makes me happy, which is why I love to blog and share photographs and stories on instagram. I also love to cook and nourish my family in that sense, and reading this book has encouraged me to continue with these practices with a greater regard for the fulfilment they give.
LOVING: my husband. I feel increasingly grateful that we have each other. Ben and I have been through a lot over the 15 or so years that we have been together. We've grown as individuals and as a couple, figuring out what we need to be happy in ourselves and then figuring out how to live a life of contentment together. Sharing your life with another human being is a big deal. And after all these years, Ben and I are at a place where have a fairly strong sense of who we are, as well as what we want and need in life. We recognise aspects of our personalities that can cause conflict and we work on it. Ben meditates and I self-care in other ways, and we value this time spent investing in ourselves, because it makes us feel good and means we can give to each other and Joan from a richer place. This is something we've learnt to do since Joan was born, when the time we had together as a couple drastically changed. Ben's business and subsequent responsibilities were growing at the same time that he became a father (which is kind of the greatest responsibility at all), and it was a lot to deal with. Settling into this new life, we figured out what we require as individuals to help us feel good, so that we can be the partner and parent we want. And we commit to it, this self-care practice is a non-negotiable part of our lives. It's not always easy to fit in, life and people are unpredictable, but recently it's sort of clicked. It's now second nature to check-in (with ourselves and each other), and recognise how we're feeling and why (thank you, Headspace), and to share these feelings instead of cluttering our heads. More often than not, it's flowing easily and feels really good. And the empathy thing has become a breeze, I can actually feel the empathy flowing out of me when I see him distracted or stressed, rather than getting miffed that he hasn't been present or isn't listening to me. It feels like we are throwing buckets of love and support at each other, and I love that. We've always had a respectful relationship, and these are little things we're talking about here, not game changers or true struggles (for real, I am completely aware of this fact). But even so, it is a big deal to share your life with someone, and these little changes have helped us to be even happier in our every day, whether it's a cruisy one or we're both on edge. Lately I have felt insanely grateful for Ben, for the fact that he values communicating as much as I do and honours our relationship in this way. And that he is super cool with me sharing my feelings here on the blog. I write as a way of clearing my head and because it makes me happy, and he values that. Far out, he's good to me. When life gets nuts, as it can, I hope to hold onto these practices and keep the empathy flowing. Because the truth is, we're lucky to have each other.
BUYING: sourdough bread. We are eating a lot of toast for breakfast and/or lunch - avocado, nut butter, eggs, ricotta + slow-roasted tomatoes, tahini("heeeni", according to Joan) + honey. Our local shop stores a great, grainy sourdough that floats our boat. Apparently we're going through too much bread for my dad to keep up with. Dad, if you're reading this, I wouldn't be mad if you felt like baking an extra loaf or two a week.
PLANNING: what to do with friends who are visiting tomorrow. I think a beach visit and picnic might be nice. Ben has just arrived home and I think a nice, slow day where he can watch Joan bliss out at the beach and not be tempted to duck into his study to work will be nice for him. For all of us. Update: we stayed home and ate croissants + hot cross buns. Apparently our 'Sunday morning croissant tradition' has begun.
WEARING: demin short and white tops, or a floral sundress I bought from Cotton On and my new Saltwater sandals. After hesitating for months (I don't like to spend money on things I don't need), I treated myself to a pair of shoes that are SUPER comfortable and make me feel nice, and I am so happy I did. You guys, we're so worth it.
CRAVING: beef patties, roasted beetroot + pumpkin + potatoes, dates stuffed with almond butter, chocolate, melted cheese (cheddar, jarlsberg, parmesan, pecorino!) and pasta. Wow, that came easily.
SAVOURING: visits to the beach. Baby girl is LOVING the water. She will walk in until it touches her chin without any fear (and I'm always right there). A few times she's lost her footing and half her head has fallen under, but she'll get up, go "pfffft" and giggle, then say "unda!". I recently listened to a podcast where a swim instructor was interviewed, and she reminded carers that is takes only 20 seconds for a child's brain to stop fighting when drowning. I recommend you all give it a listen, just to reinforce the importance of water safety.
I've also been savouring the sweet picnics we've been having lately. We all do so well in nature, and more often than not Joan and I will eat one of our meals outside.
FEELING: a little anxious and emotional. Both of my parents are psychologists and I work with clients who have anxiety, so I am aware that what I am experiencing is nowhere near what people commonly deal with. My feelings are incredibly mild and more akin to "sporadic nervousness", and because of this (in addition to the fact that both my parents are psychologists - hello, free consultations), I find I can handle it with ease. I catch my anxiety when it first arises (a simultaneous tightening of my chest + butterflies in my stomach) and I flood myself with compassion and recognition. Talking helps, whether out loud to Ben, my mum or girlfriends, or to myself, through writing (my anxious feelings have evaporated after expressing them in this little paragraph). The cause, I have realised, is hormonal. My body is adjusting after drastically cutting down breastfeeding 4 months ago (and stopping completely 2 months ago), and I have felt a huge hormonal shift. A friend in a similar situation told me recently that she was feeling anxious on occasion, and not long after our discussion, I noticed the same thing. And so, when it comes on, I remind myself of the cause and act from a place of love. I talk or write, or talk AND write, and I walk in nature. I breathe deeply and drink water, munch on veggies, shower, stretch, sit and cuddle with Joan and listen to Bach or this piece. I may not do all of these self-care acts, but I do whatever I can... and most of the time, my chest will relax, the butterflies will go, and I will feel open and calm. Hormones, man. Gee whiz. I have great respect for the power of hormones, and do not underestimate their influence on brain chemistry. I've never felt anxiety before, and this learning curve has left me with an incredible respect for the female body and all it does. Sure, our hormones can be imbalanced at different stages and these feelings can be amplified, but even when we're having a regular cycle, what we experience is a big deal. I don't believe we give ourselves enough grace in relation to the fluctuations we go through every single month, nor how our bodies change as we go through different life stages, from puberty to pregnancy, to post-partum and beyond. Instead we chastise ourselves. Heck, society prays on us and makes fun of what we go through, which is completely nuts. Doesn't it make sense to be loving? To observe our bodies and feelings with kindness, and then dive into whatever self-care practice make us feel good and centred, and reminds us that we are human and beautiful? Clearly I'm still riled up after watching the documentary I mentioned above. However I truly believe that if we ride the waves with self-compassion and loving recognition that we are not designed to be unchanging, that in fact fluctuations in our feelings and body shape + weight are a fundamental part of being a woman, we will cultivate contentment. And that's the ultimate goal, isn't it?
Happenings posts inspired by Pip.