Sunday, April 1, 2018

Every Day is the Best Day of My Life

The days flush out from beginning to end with a sense of urgency, like a dream you've already woken up from, but it's so good that you just keep trying to fall back asleep and carry it on and direct it to a happy closure. I feel like at any moment I could get pulled from this reality.  It could be over and I'd be lifted to another dimension. The stoics say that you should always live as if you could die at any moment, you should live for today.

I am stoic. Or should I say, a lazy stoic. Because I don't do anything profound or dangerous. But I do feel a constant potential for death. And that vector, waiting in the horizon, like an arrow pulled back on a bow, makes me cherish the giggles and smiles so deeply. Through every moment of the day, from silly jokes to enacting discipline, I worry that it could be my last opportunity.
Why so dark? Why so goth?

This month my uncle passed away unexpectedly. This month Mariano's uncle passed away. This month others in the parameter of our lives have perished; high school friends, professors, in-laws of relatives, people on the news, etc. The impermanence of life echos saliently. So when that baby girl smiles up at me, I slurp up the joy and let the taste linger.

Through this stoic exercise, of always thinking today could be your last, I have realized that Every Day with My Family is the Best Day of My Life.  There is nothing else I would rather do and no other way I would rather spend my time. I am so grateful for their presence.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Year We Went Wild

This was such a different year for our family that it seemed impossible to send the normal, Happy Holidays card. So I started writing a card, but then realized that I was just incapable of writing something sterile or formal enough to send out as a Christmas greeting.  So I’m posting here.

Instead of imposing my journey in the mailbox of my friends and family.  I’ll just post here, in my space, any maybe it will help someone have a good year too.  

This year Mariano and I have been married for 10 years, which we celebrated with a way-too-short epic trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Dubai. If you haven’t been, Thailand is very easy to get around and friendly. Everyone speaks English and the landscape and temples are captivating.  

Before we left for Thailand, Mariano quit his job. Which sounds kind of crazy right? But the decision was planned and socialized with his office for a long time. After a year of average 12 hour days plus a two hour commute, he was totally burnt out, and so he gave three month notice on the decision to leave. We had saved enough for him to take a break, spend more time with our kids, and take his time finding a position closer to home with reasonable hours.

But then only a week after we returned from our anniversary trip, I was laid off in a massive RIF. At first, I felt like a failure.  Kaio worked hard to bring me out of it, excited that I would be able to go to his school events again and be home more. The kids were really supportive actually, they even stopped asking for toys and crap.

It was scary but instead of jumping into a job search, we took a look at our savings, and planned how to make funds stretch out long enough to spend the summer in Brazil. We wanted the kids to make lasting memories with family there. Because of the cost to fly all five of us there, I hadn’t been in five years. Tori had never been. We ended up taking Kaio and Nalini out of school two weeks early so we could leave as soon as possible.  

Most of Mariano’s family and friends live in a big city named Belem, about 1 degrees south of the equator.  The weather averages 99 degrees day and night, rooms are full of mosquitoes, and the streets are full of robbers. For two months, we slept all five of us in one room with three beds, sometimes even on top of each other. So you can imagine that’s a hardship from the A/C bug-free and kushy life our kids are used to living. There was a lot of complaining. But what really mattered in the long run was the time we spent with our wonderful family.  Mariano’s parents, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, etc. He has a big family. And everyone is so fun and generous, excited and unconditionally loving with the kids. We were able to really slow down and spend quality time visiting with his extended family, as well as travel around the region from jungle to farm to beach and back.

Taking the sabbatical really gave me time to think about the trajectory of my life, our life together, and the future of the kids. We brainstormed a lot about how to maintain the joy that we had solidified and not get sucked back into old negative habits that are completely draining. It felt like we hit the reset button on life and had a chance to start again.  

At first I didn’t really know what to do with all that calmness, and actually it felt lost to be so centered with no mission to execute.  But then we found cacao beans and started making chocolate, and the mission began to expose itself.  I felt drive and purpose.  I  entered into a bean-to-bar international training course. We came back to the US and started building the business.  

Since then I've been dividing my time between caring for the kids, cannabis plants, and making chocolate. Soon I'll be teaching yoga again back at one of the studio's that I used to teach at. Mariano has been taking occasion consulting work. We are pretty broke right now, but over-all happier and in a better place than last year. I have a lot of hope and faith that our chocolate business will be a success. And by success I mean yielding enough revenue that we can pay a nice living wage and support our kiddos.

Wishing you a quiet and peaceful passage of the holidays. Hugs and kisses,

Friday, September 15, 2017

#Farm Life

Picking the yellow leaves off the cannabis plants, I have a lot of time to think. Lots of times I think about revenge to my past corporate job employer. I think about taking a selfie with my Bugatti, printing it out, and leaving it with a Post-It note that says "Shove it, I found something better to do" on the desk of the demented Bolivian deputy program manager with round-tipped red nails and who fired me with a smile behind her over-lipsticked face.

Then I quickly think about how those thoughts are not very Yogini-like. I check myself.  For a minute, enjoying the sun and the Cold Play streaming out of my back pocket. Then I go back to daydreaming about rubbing my awesome life in her face. Wait, back to yoga thoughts. It's a nice little cycle really.

I think about my kids and Mariano.  I fret over whether Oregon is the right place for us or Washington DC.  I weigh the options as I talk baby talk to the plants, "Doesn't that feel good girlfriend? Doesn't that feel so much lighter?"

It's rather nice actually.  If I consider this my job, it's a nice job to have.

Today was the first day where I felt like this could be my job.  I felt like I could spend my mornings tending the garden, enjoying a long lunch break during the hottest hours of the day and finishing the tasks in the late afternoon breeze. I get to Macgyver and ghetto rig contraptions around the farm. I get to possibly make big sums of money if we run a smart business. It seems so much better than the boring document reviews and death by meetings work I did in the IT world.  

My back doesn't hurt, I get to be outside, my own boss and make my own hours.  Actually I think I would love it if only I had the kids with me.  But that's the problem: the kids are in DC and this work is in Oregon. And we have such amazing family and neighbors in DC that I don't want to make the kids leave.
So I'm stumped on what to do. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Amazon River - What Does Home Mean? - Brazil Diary

Watching as we pass the boarded up wooden homes, the loud chug of the engine and sweet warm earthy breeze maintain their presence for hours and hours. This is my third time taking this boat trip up the Amazon between Santarem and Manaus.  The last time was 12 years ago, back when a second generation iPod was a great Christmas gift, and W was president. It seems like so much has transformed since then in the world and in me, but the scenery on the river looks unchanged.

The lush plants in greens and shades of pink, the elevated homes with colorful soccer team shirts hanging out to dry, the dug out canoes and occasional cattle pasture, the horses sipping river water with ibis perched on their backs. 

I've been inside some of those houses over a decade ago. Back then they were bare on the inside, mostly just the straight lines of wood panel walls and corners of a box with hammocks hanging inside. The hammocks serve as chairs, sofas, and beds. The kitchen is in the back and has the most furniture, maybe a table for cooking and eating, or maybe not and the eating is done on the floor.  

Mariano and I start to joke about building a house here, property rights, and how people would come visit us, "You go up river about 3 hours and then make a left at the big Brazil nut tree.  The house with the blue door."  How do people get mail? How do kids go to school? The School Boat must pick them up in the morning.

As we approach within 3 hours of Manaus, power lines begin to run above the river bank.  The houses remain simple looking on the outside, but I fantasize about the inhabitants having 25" LCD screens and Xboxs inside their homes.  After all, even poor people in the US have iPhones and SUVs.

In the Southern Hemisphere, July corresponds with the water level swell and some houses are boarded up because their pastures are inundated. I imagine they are rustic summer homes for people who have moved to the city.

Passing by I find my thoughts drifting and I start to long for a home.  Ironic because literally the day before I'd stated to Mariano how comfortable I was with living out of a suitcase.  In 2017 already we've visited Thailand, Cambodia, Dubai, Suriname and Brazil. I drove across the country from DC to Oregon and DC to Florida. My love for traveling is not a daydream over morning coffee; it's here, it's actualized.  I can have everything in my possession neatly packed up in a suitcase and a backpack in 20 minutes or less.  

Lunch on the Boat
Seeing the little homes speckled on the river bank pass by with a melodic rhythm, like cords of lullaby, I think about what 'home' means.  Mariano's parent's home is a forever home. It's protected in a gated villa of about 35 houses set in a busy part of town that used to be sketchy but in the last 15 years has turned hip. Since I've known him in 2002, the entrance was always lined by gossiping woman sitting in patio chairs, he says they've been there for at lease 20 years. 

Mariano's parents have made modifications to their home many times, like changing the layout,  adding rooms, taking away rooms, dividing into a rent-able one bedroom home. Currently Mariano's sister is running a cake business out of the front of the home.  So the house morphs and serves for all stages of life.

The kitchen table is the spot. The meals filled with smiles and laughter congeal the meaning of home.
After the sleepy morning we landed and had breakfast with Mariano's sisters around the table, he commented to me that the experience was priceless. Worth the thousands for plane tickets, overnight with three kids on four flights, two trips through security, and a feisty 2 year old pulling an all nigher. It was rough, but it was worth it.

I want to give a place like that to my kids. I want them to have a sanctuary base that they can return to at any point and feel welcome, safe, and protected. I'd like to create a space the kids can create happy memories in and return to for years to come.

But I realize I'm far off from settling. In my mid thirties and I have no idea my life purpose. I know it's weird that we actually live in the house I lived in from 2yr - 11 yrs old. My home should be that home, but it doesn't feel like it to me. Maybe it will be but I'm not ready to accept it yet. Maybe I have more to do and grow first, I don't know. 

So I'm still searching for the place to plant my family. I worry I'll never grow up enough to get there, and their home will be decided by default. Because life does not stop until you're ready to make a decision. It keeps going and everyday is your opportunity to be intentional with your actions.

Down the rabbit hole of thoughts of home and I remember a book that was gifted to the kids called Casa. It had really cool pen illustrations of all different types of people and animals in their homes. With words like, "Some homes are sweet, some homes are on your back, some homes are loud, some homes are where you rest your head, some homes are in dreams." Like everything in life, there is no perfect right answer. People find satisfaction doing things in different ways. 

I wonder what does home mean to you? What do you seek in a home?  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Awesome and Beautiful

Usually I talk about things in my yoga classes that I need to hear. Today I said, "Know that you are awesome and beautiful... Know that you are awesome and beautiful in your own unique way." And even though I believe it, it was so hard to say the words out loud because I've had the kind of week where I beat myself up too much. Here's to being awesome and beautiful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Tiny Little Moments

Yesterday was a special day.

Nothing happened.

Mondays are the only day of the week I do not teach yoga and so it's a very low key day.  The older kids went to school, I stayed home with Tori and Mari's mom who is living with us now.  Nothing extraordinary or worth bragging about happened.  But in that absence of the big, I noticed the small.  And the small is amazing.  The tiny little moments.

Like when we slipped on Tori's shoes to go outside, and she started tapping on the floor with the soles.  The hard rubber on laminate drummed as she stomped.  I started stomping in my shoes too.  It was fun because that sound, in that second, was all we needed to smile.

Every day is new with her.  Like yesterday she was going to breast feed her baby.  As I fixed dinner she brought a plush baby doll over and handed him to me.  I hugged and kissed him then folded his stuffed hand shut with my fingers, "Milk, Milk," I said, pretending like the baby was making the sign for milk.  She looked at me and then looked at the baby, smiled and reached for the bottom of her shirt.  She tugged on it with her fatty little fingers, started to pull it up, exposing her chunky baby belly.   She grabbed the baby out of my hands and hugged him.  She was going to nurse her baby doll.

Today Nala's teacher sent a note home saying that she caught her looking up one of the words during a spelling test.  I really like how Mari and I handled it, and I know that our stint homeschooling inspired our approach.  We didn't tell her that she was in trouble or order her never to cheat again or even tell her that she did anything wrong.  First I asked her if she thought it was wrong.  She said, "Well not really because it was just one letter that I didn't know from one word."

I told her that looking things up is a great thing to do if you do not know the answer.  We talked about the different resources: dictionaries, google, spell check, etc.  And then we talked about how what the school is doing is helping you to remember things without having to look them up, and the tests are really tools for her to use to help her understand areas that she is having trouble remembering.  The purpose of the test is to help her know what she remembers.  So there is no point in looking up for the test.  We told her that she'll never get in trouble for wrong answers and she shouldn't worry about how she does on the test.

We've gotten beyond tight with our finances lately.  Tighter than ever before.  At first it was scary, stressful and saddening to not buy things that I have been used to buying.  But now I notice that by not looking to external goods for enjoyment, it feels like we are looking and working together more internal.  And I'm grateful for that.  Grateful for this reminder of what it feels like to be simple.

Tori asked for me to turn on the music by pointing at the speaker and cooing.  Nala picked the songs and we danced in the kitchen while dinner cooked.  After 7pm I demand all the electronics are turned off and the kids start chasing each other around the house.  It's like a train, first Kaio runs by pulling Nala on a ride on, Tori toddles as fast as she can after them and Vovo follows, spotting Tori.  They round the kitchen island.  Each time the house shakes like an actual train and there are so many giggles.  I look at Mari and smile.

Smile because they are loud and silly and rambunctious and I love it.  Smile because we somehow created this.

This is a stage in life where I notice that I'm contemplating life and existence on a daily basis.  I know it's normal at this age to wonder if I'm living fully enough or if I'm on the right track.  Yesterday I got to listen to Mari's mom for hours telling stories of her family history back in Brazil.  They all grew up on a river island at the mouth of the Amazon.  I worked out that there are a couple things that seem like they have been important through the generations: being fed and being educated.  Food for the body and the brain, simple as that, seems to be the recipe for a happy heart and full life.

Seeing Kaio all grown up in comparison to Tori is such a trip.  I look at her and remember him, his cute little actions that were mischievous but well intentioned.  Her drive and bravery matches his.  I just pray that I can be the mom that he deserves and support his spirit in a way that helps him to thrive.  Unfortunately I think he was practice parenting, where I learned how to be the mom I really want to be by making mistakes in the beginning.  Now I'm trying to make up for all the yelling I used to do.

He doesn't like to let me take pictures of him but I just have to, he's so beautiful.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Catching Up

I've never gone this long without posting before but the last few months have been even busier than usual as I was working on a proposal for a new business.  Happy that I turned it in last Friday and things have slowed down tremendously.  My mother in law is living with us, which is wonderful.  My kids are so lucky to not only have one grandmother in the house, but two.  They get so much love.

We celebrated Kaio's 9th birthday last weekend.  The difference between this year and last year is beyond striking.  He is so much happier now.  If you've been reading my posts over the years, then you know that I've struggled so much in figuring out the right approach for him.  He started off in Kindergarten and once the academics kicked in, begged not to go every day, then I homeschooled him for a year in a half, and then put him back in school mid year last year.
Seeing him run around with his friends, friends fighting over who gets to sit next to him, it is wonderful.  Last year this time he was lonely, afraid of people,  and threatening to hurt himself everyday.  

He is so much happier now and rarely blows up with anger.  Academically, I wouldn't say that he's farther along than when we were homeschooling.  But I'm not worried about it because he's happy, and that is all that matters to me.

I have a tremendous backlog of photos of the kids and baby Tori.  Here she is with our family dog friend Xbox, and Nala's pet bunny.

When she sees the bunny, she makes a little clicking noise with her teeth.

Xbox gets jealous of the baby.

Nala is thriving at school.  I keep getting notes home saying that she talks too much to friends.  Seriously, I do not care.  As someone who was so socially nervous and awkward in elementary school, I'm happy that she's not like that.  Have fun girlfriend.

Tori is Nala's little babydoll.  Even though there is a 6 year gap between them, I feel they will be good friends and sisters.

Mari raced in a bunch of paddleboard races this year.  He now races in the elite league.  I love how we merge our vacations with paddleboarding events.  I love traveling with a mission.

This picture is from a few months ago.  I do not like to put baby gates on the stairs because it gives a false sense of security.  Kaio pushed right through the gate we had when he was a baby.  I want her to learn to go up and down them so I do not have to worry about her falling.  Tori is walking now, and learning to go up and down the stairs holding on to the railing.

As much as they fight, they also support.

Our bed taken over by the munchkins.  We moved a twin mattress onto the floor in the room for me and Mari to sleep in.

These pictures were months ago.  What will I do when she's really not a baby anymore?

Neighborhood friends come over often.

My little hummingbirds.

Kaio living in his world.  Using legos to craft the cockpit of a tank that runs on gas and crystal power.  He drew the controls on paper, and made the levers and engine out of duplos.

A selfie with my baby from springtime.

She's so cute.


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