Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So, What Do You Do?

Just shortly beyond introduction, small talk always heads in one direction. Our brain synapses are mental arrows pointing like lights leading jets to their final resting destination. The one place we most frequently land is the safe zone, career talk.

So, What do you do? 

Historically, that is indeed one of the most dreaded questions I could be asked. The root of the problem for me is that I'm engaged in a brief conversation with someone who more than likely I will never talk to again. Before the so what do you do question even arises, I can almost guarantee I have forgotten the name of the person I am conversing with, unless of course they are wearing a name tag. Percentage of chance they are wearing a nametag 15%, percentage of chance I remember their name sans nametag 15%, percentage of chance I wish I could slip away unnoticed and not hold small talk conversations 99.8%. In my ideal world we'd small talk about things we are passionate about like food, travel, or a myriad of leisurely activities. If the conversation is taking place in Boulder we would probably focus on what type of athlete they are, training rituals, mileage pounded that very day. It is fair game to throw in possible injuries into small talk conversations such as, sorry could you hold my drink for a moment, I think I need to stretch out my hamstrings; I ran up Bear Peak before sunrise this morning and beat my PR.

So, how do I answer the question, is the question.

For years I had a drawn out convoluted story about how I was once a teacher, but left the classroom when I gave birth to my oldest. I left teaching TEN YEARS AGO and I still say, I'm a teacher in conversation. I'm a what? Depending how comfortable I am with the stranger I am conversing with, I sometimes share that I am a blogger, but rarely do I say I am a writer. Which makes me reflect upon an important moment I had at a creative retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago. In the morning session, our instructor made everyone go around and say out loud to the group that we were artists. It felt strange saying it, but more importantly it made me think about my writing. I've been throwing words together at Eat Play Love now for 6 years (officially yesterday, thank you very much) and I don't think I've ever comfortably allowed my tongue to roll off the words, I am a writer. I'm going to say them now. I am a writer, just like I am an artist, and a dreamer. I don't solidly own I am a mother as my job, but I am a caretaker of my family. I feel like motherhood is essential to my being, but is not a quantifier of my self. See why I grapple with a question that some people can answer with a simple sentence like, I am a financial analyst for a small firm downtown. What I really want to say is, that I am a dabbler and a lover of life and even if what I do doesn't earn me a paycheck, it is what I do.

Which leads me to a funny place.

In June, I landed a part time job. A job that comes with a set of duties, a fob to the building, a shared office with my very own key, an official email, a plethora of access logins, meetings that migrate to my google calendar, and a badge. There's filing cabinets, binders, computers, a table to hold meetings, one of those fancy corded phones, and at least 20 linear feet of desk space in my office. That all sounds very official and what-do-you-do-like, doesn't it? Well it is, but it doesn't have this all encapsulating title that truly describes what my new job is because like me, it's dynamic. In just a couple of short weeks, it's made me happy. I'm nestling into a team, an office, a work rhythm and it feels fabulous. The details are miscellaneous, so just set your imagination free and picture me in a job where I feel at home. I'm working on my elevator pitch about my job description, so when I get asked the inevitable question the next time at a party I don't have to intentionally spill a drink down my blouse to get out of answering it.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Sisterless Life

Not only am I the youngest of four, but I am the only daughter. While I wouldn't quite call my birth an oops, there's over five years in age difference between me and the youngest of the three boys. The three boys in 4 years boys, mind you. Yes, then me. Just simply assessing the birth order and gender facts of my family one may easily conclude, I was never much of a girly girl. Digest this information as you wish, but I find it's essential to where I am headed with this story.

Then in 1994, the baby girl of the family picked up and moved 1,800 miles away.

Fast forward two decades later, Josh and I have our own family. We've been graced with two daughters, two girls that spend their summer days crafting, playing together, braiding each other's hair, and even currently slumbering by choice in the same bedroom at night (it's fleeting I know, but let me have my moment). Of course there's much admiration from my youngest towards her big sister and the natural inclination for my oldest to pull away, but at the end of the day their bond is beautifully sister strong.

And at the end of my day, this very day in particular, I am weeping that I am indeed sisterless. A fact which was thrust upon me from day one, from a childhood clearly marked with baseball parks and muscle cars parked in the driveway. Through my almost four decades of living and growing into my self, this revelation is nothing new. I've always believed that I have surrounded myself with wonderful women, nurturing loving friendships, friends that were like sisters to me. But are they really like having a sister? No they aren't and the deepest nature of my heart makes me painfully aware of that reality.

I may mourn my sisterless existence because it reaches beyond my needs, when my daughters don't get a birthday card in the mail from any of their five uncles and typically not even a phone call.  I immediately assume that their Aunt, if they had one, would never do that to them. My sister would shower them with love... We don't take family vacations together and have outgrown many of the family traditions we had, in honor of creating a new way with our nuclear family. Of course while I am dreaming of my imaginary sister, we would live in the same town and have children the same age. I wouldn't be tear filled because I have no family to help me for a few days that I have to work before the girls go back to school. While I have adoring friendships, I just don't have the friends that want to step into my life like family would (yes, the family I chose to move away from, I know). That reality hurts, I know part of it is simply out of my control and also it's partially because of the choices I've made. My tears tonight are not all for naught, I hold out hope that someday a woman will come into my life and help heal my sisterless void. Hope is indeed the best bandaid, to carry me through.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hiking In Rocky Mountain National Park, Happiness In Being

My feet slipped into the toeclips of my pedals and I set off on a short adventure down the frontage road just off of our campground. I wasn't quite sure what to expect or how long the road would continue on for. The road was heavily treed, but I passed a handful of houses, lots of laundry drying on clotheslines, and many yards full of stockpiles of construction materials, abandoned cars, and firewood. I may or may not have contemplated a few times on my ride the possibility of a junkyard dog living in one of these homesteader shacks, but with great fortune not one canine did I encounter. I arrived at the top of a hill and looked down deciding if I should descend down the curvy road, all I could focus on was the ride back up.

Down I went...

I happened upon a lovely creek with gently cascading water and a small footpath that ran along the creek caught my eye. The creek was descending through a meadow and the Rocky Mountains were a glorious backdrop. I rode home to share my excitement with everyone that stayed back at camp, knowing it would be a fabulous spot to explore with the kids. As it turns out the creek was the very south east border of Rocky Mountain National Park. Shortly after, we piled 5 kids, 4 adults, and 2 dogs into a Toyota Highlander and set off into Rocky Mountain National Park for a bit of an adventure!

We climbed out of every door of the SUV, including the back hatch and received a chuckle from the RMNP volunteer. We were just steps from a series of hiking trails, our only tough decision was which trail to take. The trail we chose was compacted dirt, nice and wide with not many rocks to navigate. I was especially drawn in by how lush it was adjacent to the trail, among the trees there were numerous species of wildflowers and even ferns. I have a soft spot for ferns and I couldn't name a spot in Boulder where I regularly hike where I see ferns. The ferns alone made the day for me. I imagined returning to do some back country camping on my own or with Josh, maybe even a short trip with out the kids as there was just something about this spot that was drawing me in. As we hiked up the trail, we followed along a steady flowing creek that also had waterfalls, the water just rushed over huge boulders that jutted out of the creek. The years of force filled water cascading carved out lovely smooth spots in the rocks. A combination of many small observations had this enormous snowball effect on my psyche, being submersed in such nature completely tantalized me.

While climbing to the edge of a boulder near one of the smaller waterfalls, Josh captured this photo of me. It's candid, I wasn't doing a cutesy smile or trying to turn my body to look thinner, I wasn't worried about my hair. I was just experiencing pure joy, delight in being present in that moment, delight in hiking along a waterfall with my family and friends I adore.

Happiness in being.