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When GOMO Doesn’t Go So Well

17 Aug

2016-08-13 15.57.26

I last left you on a positive note, after having a beautiful day trip to the beach with Zadie and vowing to take her out and about more often. Well, I really have–we’ve been going to church regularly and dropping Zadie off in the nursery; I’ve joined the Northeast LA chapter of Moms Club and we’re attending weekly play groups, and 10 days with a broken AC (!!) helped us discover a nearby bookstore with a huge children’s section where Zadie and I have gone to play a few times.

But last weekend was the true test–a 2-night trip up to San Luis Obispo, on the central coast of California. Robert’s company is based up there, and the owners were throwing a summer bbq for everyone up at their house in Atascadero. They put us up in a hotel and had plenty of fun activities set up for the weekend, including wine tasting, zip lining, and babysitters lined up to care for the kids at different times during the weekend.

Needless to say, several times before the trip I blurted out, in a flurry of anxiety, “We can’t go! I’d rather just stay home with Zadie.” There were too many unknowns. I’d rather FOMO than GOMO, you know? My two biggest fears: the 3-hour car trip each way, and the sleeping situation. I knew we were in a modest hotel room, and Zadie would have to sleep in the same room as us, which she hasn’t done since she was a newborn.

Well, despite my fear and anxiety, we did go, and I feel like I deserve an award for just going! It wasn’t the same as our idyllic trip to Malibu a few weeks ago–it was definitely a weekend of highs and lows. Lows included Zadie crying/fussing for an hour in the car on the way back; Zadie falling headfirst off the bed (thankfully onto the bedspread I had put on the floor earlier for her to crawl around on); and oh yeah, Zadie not wanting to sleep at all the first night and me holding her in the bed, desperately whispering, “It’s not time to put your fingers up mama’s nose. It’s time for sleeping.” Thankfully the next night went much better!

We learned a lot, like it’s better to go across the street to the gas station to use the bathroom so your baby can sleep in your bathroom (which is why the second night went much better). Oh, the glamorous life of a parent! I also learned Zadie does great hanging out with teenage babysitters she’s never met before. Even at the barbeque, they took her from us and when I came to get her, she was giggling by the pool with a couple of 18-year-old girls, kicking back and chewing on her romper like a popular girl. Gosh I love her. Oh and we learned that she loves parties (just like her mama). We stayed at the barbeque past her bedtime, and she was having a blast, gnawing on a bbq rib, laughing, getting thrown up in the air by dad. But, like a true extrovert, once we got in the car and away from the party, she fell apart. Ha!

Highs included her sleeping both legs of the car ride up, hanging out in absolutely perfect weather in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, getting 2 hours to get coffee with just Robert while Zadie was with babysitters, oh, and THIS:

Am I going to stay in a small hotel room with my baby again any time soon? Nope. Am I glad we went? Absolutely. It was great for Robert, professionally, and it was good for our souls to have a change of scenery and some family togetherness.

What about you? Do you travel with your baby or toddler? Any secrets? (I think I’ve read them all, but I think the best one is, “Leave baby with grandparents.”)

 

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Learning to GOMO Instead of FOMO—With a Baby!

25 Jul
JoyZadieBeach

Zadie’s first time at the beach! Leo Carillo State Beach.

Remember the term FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? When that term was in heavy rotation, I totally understood it and felt it often. I wanted to be a part of the action; I never wanted to be left out. As a single person, it was hard to commit to a plan because I wanted to know I wasn’t missing out on anything else. But after having Zadie, I moved from FOMO to FOGO—Fear of Going Out! I knew I was missing out on stuff; I had a newborn for goodness’ sake. But I was afraid of going out, afraid she might have a meltdown and I wouldn’t know what to do. As she got older, I found consistent naps to be the key to avoiding meltdowns, so I guarded naptime with the zeal of Gollum for his precious ring. But Zadie naps three times a day, and that leaves very little time for going out.

Recently I heard about Eventbrite’s GOMO (Going Out More Often) campaign, where they’re encouraging people to get out of the Netflix rut and go enjoy life this summer. It immediately struck me as a great way to remember to get myself out of my comfort zone and take Zadie on little (and maybe sometimes big!) outings as we resettle in Los Angeles, where there are amazing events happening all the time!

When Robert and I last lived in Pasadena, our absolute favorite summer activity was going to see free concerts at the Levitt Pavilion in Memorial Park in Pasadena. We’d ride our bikes to Pita Jungle and pick up some falafel wraps and dolmas to go, then settle on a picnic blanket with a thermos full of a refreshing cocktail and listen to live music.

It’s a bit tougher now with a baby whose bedtime is 7:00, but I know Robert’s been dying to go out more often, whether it’s a hike or to lunch at a fun place downtown or even camping (that’s pretty far-fetched if you ask me!).

So partly for Robert’s sake, and partly for my own sanity, I’m trying to GOMO this summer! I had the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is this week, when a close friend invited me and Zadie to visit where she and her family were camping at the beach all week. She actually invited us to stay a night or two, but I know my limits! Still, I decided to pack up a beach bag and hit the road with Zadie, heading out to Malibu on a day that was supposed to be in the high 90s here in L.A. I timed it so we’d drive during Zadie’s first nap, and hopefully she’d sleep in the car, and then driving back during her third nap, hoping again for sleep and also to beat rush hour(s)! I thought maybe she could take her second nap in the carrier while we were at the beach.

Well, guess what? Zadie was an angel baby all day. She slept the first 30 minutes of our drive, then studied her hands quietly for about 45 minutes. J She didn’t sleep on me at the beach, but she had a great time and played independently (read: chewed on a package of baby wipes) on a beach blanket for what felt like the longest time! And then she slept the entire 90-minute drive home. It was a small miracle. As for me: I got out of the apartment, drove through the vineyards and canyons to be greeted by the perfectly blue Pacific Ocean on the other side, caught up with dear friends, and enjoyed the cooler beach weather. And, I saw that maybe Zadie only needs 2 naps a day, so we’ve been trying that and it’s opening up a lot more time!

Over the weekend we went to a friend’s birthday brunch, I took Zadie to Trader Joe’s on my own (that was a first for us, believe it or not); we went to church for the first time since being back in L.A. (and she did great in the nursery!), and we ended the weekend hanging out at a local park, where a mariachi band suddenly showed up and Zadie had her first live music experience.

It all started with one little trip to the beach, and now I feel like the world is my oyster! It reminds me of a quote I once read that said something like, “Everything you could possibly want is right outside your comfort zone.”

What about you? Were you afraid to go out when you had a baby? Or did you just strap that babe on and go about your life? Any tips for someone who needs to GOMO? (Besides “just do it”—I don’t find that very helpful!).

Oh Darling, Let’s Be Grown-Ups

18 Aug

darlingMaybe you’ve seen it on Pinterest, the type over a color-saturated mountain scene, or on an Etsy print, or a tote bag or journal cover: the line, “Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers.” I’m not sure where it came from, but it’s certainly taken off in the past year or two, at least in the world of the Internet and upper-middle-class Millennials. Something about it rubs me the wrong way, though. What is it with my set and the idea of adventure?

I have to admit, our wedding invitations used the line from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan: “To love would be an awfully big adventure.” For me, using that quote reframed marriage, not as simply an institution, a rite of passage, a joining of bank accounts. It would not only be hard, or work, or even compromise. It would be an adventure.

In my experience, my generation just does not want to grow up. Growing up is basically the worst. I imagine there was a time when growing up was a good thing, when people longed to move out from under their parents’ covering and strike out on their own, to lead their own family and run their own households. I wouldn’t know. That’s never been a huge desire of mine. Traveling the world? Yes. Having my own house just the way I like it? Meh, not so much. So, then, when I find myself again and again faced with opportunities to grow up (and at 31 and pregnant, there are plenty of them), I want to whine and transport myself to my adventurous traveling days, when the world was sprawled out at my feet and I couldn’t wait to stamp any remaining spaces in my passport.

Take last Saturday, for example: two of my girlfriends were planning on spending time by the pool, and can I just say all summer long I have been dying to go swimming? To the point where I was researching the best places to swim in Colorado? And here my friend was, with a pool at her apartment, planning on having a lazy day with popsicles and girl talk. Heaven. But, our car was totaled a couple weeks ago in an accident, and we needed to shop for a new one. I pretty much threw a fit that morning to Robert, whining about how I didn’t get to enjoy myself all summer because we’d been packing, moving, unpacking, settling the house, etc. “I just want to go the pool!” I whine/moaned like an eight-year-old. When we left the house a while later to look at a few cars, I packed a bag with a swimsuit and towel, in case we finished up early and I could meet my friends. On the way to see the first car, both Robert and I were grumpy and snappy, until Robert said, “Let’s be grown-ups today.”

I needed that. I needed to flip a switch in my head and say, I’m not eight years old. I’m an adult who needs a car to get to work, and today that means I’m not going swimming. Just like that, we changed gears, and we spent the next 10 hours (literally) car shopping, with an IKEA trip thrown in, having a very grown-up Saturday devoid of summer fun. But we did what we needed to do and what no one else was going to do for us.

I think any woman’s first pregnancy has her thinking about growing up, because it suddenly feels like a whole new level of growing up to contemplate, being an adult with a tiny life in her charge. I’m hyperaware of my bad moods, my whining, my tantrums and complaining and fussiness—basically, when I’m acting like a child. How can I raise my baby to be a good, upstanding citizen and family member and friend, if I’m setting an example of laziness, whining and complaining? I have to get my act together—fast.

Driving together recently to Rocky Mountain National Park, Robert and I were listening to a podcast by Erwin McManus. In it, he asked a question like, “Is there something you’ve been struggling with since you were a child—and you’re still dealing with it as an adult?” I felt sheepish. I thought about how much I’d been complaining lately, how negative I’ve been, how miserable my company has been for Robert. I remembered when I was a horrible teenager and my mom and stepdad would say, “You can’t talk for the next hour unless you say something positive.” How am I still dealing with that, a decade and a half later? In his podcast, Erwin said something like, “You have to make the choice, and say to yourself, ‘I’m not a child, I am an adult’—and move on from there.” That got me. It’s just like Robert said in the car: “Let’s be grown-ups.” Like most of life, it’s a choice. It’s just making that choice, over and over again—that’s the tough part.

Oh darling, let’s be grown-ups. That’s my motto for this season of life—it doesn’t sound as exciting as the adventurers version, and it wouldn’t look as whimsical on a pillow, but I think the fruit of that motto, for now at least, will end up tasting a lot sweeter.

P.S. More posts on here about growing up: Never Too Late, Never Too Early; 30 and Nostalgic: Is the Fun Over?; Young and Wild and Free: How Travel Is Different Now I’m Nearly 30.

Entering New Seasons: It’s Scary

17 Dec
Image from: Lifehacker.com

Image from: Lifehacker.com

I recently read Donald Miller’s new book, called Scary Close (forthcoming 2015), a memoir-style book about a guy who learns about risk-taking, vulnerability, and intimacy as he prepares to be married.

There’s a part, early in the book, when he’s standing on a dock by a pond, ready to jump in for a swim. He hesitates, though, and realizes he’s afraid to jump—not because he can’t swim, or hates swimming, or the water is cold. As he examines his own fear, he discovers that he hesitates because he is afraid of change. This becomes a metaphor for his fears about marriage. “I knew in my heart I’d be happier with her,” he writes of his fiancé. “I knew she’d take me places that were healthier, more fun, more challenging than I’d ever been. I thought also about how content and comfortable I was being single, how much control I had in my life, how I could go out and get applause anytime I wanted and then retreat to the green room of my life, eating Oreos and waiting for my next performance.”

I remember having those exact same feelings in the first month or so of dating Robert, who is now my husband. I fell for him fast, startling myself. I was 26, and had been single for five years. I was comfortable with my routines, with the self I presented to the public, with my own version of retreating to life’s green room and eating Oreos (read: watching endless reruns of Gilmore Girls while eating frozen yogurt). During that early dating season, I couldn’t even eat; I was so scared of the overwhelming feelings I had for Robert, so anxious about the inevitable cosmic shift in my life his presence had started.

Robert was aware of my hesitation. One night, sitting in my little red Geo Prism at the end of a date, he showed me an entry from Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love. The entry is called “Enter the New Country.” Nouwen writes:

“[You] are very much at home, although not truly at peace, in the old country. You know the ways of the old country, its joys and pains, its happy and sad moments. You have spent most of your days there. Even though you know that you have not found there what your heart most desires, you remain quite attached to it. It has become part of your very bones.

Now you have come to realize that you must leave it and enter the new country, where your Beloved dwells…You are being asked to trust that you will find what you need in the new country.

…The new country is where you are called to go, and the only way to go there is naked and vulnerable.”

I wept when Robert read that to me. I had become attached to my single life, and even to my familiar fears of vulnerability. The idea of someone knowing me as intimately as a husband knows a wife—it was terrifying, for all the usual reasons: What if he didn’t love me once he knew me? What if I was incapable of loving him the way he deserved?

Obviously, it worked out. I entered the new country, but with a suitcase full of my old country fears. It took me a long time to sort through those and throw them out, to really settle in the new country of marriage with Robert.

Reading the same entry now, what stands out to me is that the new country is described as “where your Beloved dwells.” I knew it then, too—Jesus was in that new country of intimacy, of a relationship with Robert, and he was calling me into it. He was calling me further up and further in to the human experience. He was calling me out of my fears. Saying “yes” to the new country was as much about saying “yes” to God’s Spirit as it was saying yes to Robert’s offer of love and affection.

And now I’m on the border again, wavering between the old country and the new, peering out over the wild lands of parenthood. I like my life with Robert and our little scruffy dog Asher Lev. I’m afraid to journey into a whole new way of doing life, this time as a mother. And yet, I’m starting to suspect that might be where my Beloved is dwelling, and calling me to cross over the threshold of my fears and into a new place, a place of great vulnerability and testing and, hopefully, joy.

A couple of years ago, I had a feeling that this process of preparing my heart for motherhood would be a long one. Each season, though, I get closer—and I’m sure my biological clock, for lack of a better term, has something to do with it. In his piece, Nouwen writes, “It seems that you keep crossing and recrossing the border. For a while you experience a real joy in the new country. But then you feel afraid and start longing again for all you left behind, so you go back to the old country. To your dismay, you discover the old country has lost its charm.”

Of course, I can’t actually cross into the country of parenthood without, well, becoming a parent. But in my imagination, I have crossed over several times. And lately, I’ve felt more joy in those imaginary excursions than fear. And it’s true—the old country of married-with-no-kids is losing its charm. Now I examine my motives—do I merely want some momentum in life, a “next thing” to look forward to? Am I just bored and lonely as we painstakingly build a life after moving to a new state? Is it simply peer pressure?

As much as I can, I want to sort out these feelings and fears, so I can enter the new country, the next phase of my life and adulthood, with nothing to carry but a heart full of hope.

Traveling Regrets

27 Jun
Horseback Riding in Patagonia

Horseback Riding in Patagonia

We all try to minimize the regrets we have in life, but what do you do when an experience, a relationship, a decision doesn’t meet your expectations? That’s fodder for regret, right? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our recent trip to Argentina. I don’t know if I could say I regret the trip, but I can definitely say it did not meet my expectations. It’s not that the trip was an entire disappointment—who can be disappointed by horseback riding across the pampas with no sound but the horses’ trotting hooves and my own thoughts, which grew quieter and quieter as we rode until we were practically meditating on horseback? Who could regret our daylong hike on a sparsely populated trail to Cerro Catedral, where we marveled at the almost unearthly beauty of Patagonia? And yet, I do regret. Continue reading

My Irish Exit from L.A.

4 Jun

irish-exitAre you familiar with the term Irish Exit? If not, surely you are familiar with the practice. It’s when you leave a party without saying goodbye to anyone…or, in my case, when you move away from your home state without a farewell party or saying many proper goodbyes.

I love Irish exiting parties where it will take more time to say goodbye to everyone than you spent enjoying the party (or worse, when you make a round of goodbyes and it takes so long that you end up having to say the dreaded second goodbye).

But when it’s something big, like moving out of state, I like goodbyes. I like closure, and toasts, and cards, and parties. I like to have one-one-one time with all my closest friends and family, so I can seal our bond before heading off. I had a going away party when I left for a six-month trip to Australia, for goodness’ sake. But it just wasn’t possible this time. My last two months looked like this: Continue reading

CicLAvia: All Bikes, No Cars, Yay!

25 Apr
DTLA minus cars

DTLA minus cars

On Sunday Robert and I participated for the second time (Robert’s third) in CicLAvia, an event that comes around 2 or 3 times a year, shutting down a bunch of streets to cars and opening them to cyclists. Being married to a cyclist means events like this are a pretty big deal. Robert was basically in paradise–cruising around Downtown L.A., no cars in sight, just bikes bikes bikes! It’s such a cool feeling to pedal down a giant street downtown–that’s usually crammed with cars–between high rise buildings and feel like you’re on a movie set. Everone’s yelling and ringing their bells and it’s like a party on wheels.

Gold Line

Rob and I on the Gold Line on our way down to CicLAvia!

We met up with some different friends at our apartment at 10am and rode two blocks to the Gold Line station, where we took a short train ride to Union Station downtown.

The route went from downtown L.A. all the way to Venice Beach–about 15 miles–but we didn’t make it that far because there were SO many people this year (180,000!) that we kept getting in bike traffic jams, which kind of defeats at least part of the purpose of leaving the cars at home for the day. So we stopped in Culver City for lunch and then took the train back downtown.

We were gone all day, not heading back until the late afternoon, and I kept having the feeling of being a tourist in a foreign city–except we were still in L.A.! One of the best parts was when we got back downtown and hung out at Grand Park, newly remodeled by Robert’s company (it was the first project Robert worked on!). It was so fun to just hang out with a coffee frappucino, people watching and dipping our hot feet in the cool fountain.

It also kind of felt like a statement, being at CicLAvia. I never realized how unsafe LA tends to be for cyclists–people just don’t look and a lot of them are irritated by people on bikes. Now that I ride around our city of Pasadena with Robert, I see the other side of the coin. Cyclists are choosing a more environment-friendly, cost-effective, and healthy form of transportation, and a lot of times we are met with honking horns or frustrated drivers speeding up right behind us and then roaring past in a dangerous fashion. It’s all pretty frustrating and makes me wish L.A. was more bike-friendly, like Portland or Amsterdam. I think we are on our way, though!

Finally, it was a bit of a personal achievement for me. It’s hard to believe that only a year ago Robert was building me my bike and I was terrified of riding it. I remember we rode down the street to a parking lot where I freaked out trying to make turns and quick stops. Now I’m happy to say freak-outs are much more rare, and also my slow-speed balance has greatly improved, which really came in handy during all those bicycle traffic jams!

The next CicLAvia is in June. You should check it out!

Grand Park group

Cooling off at the fountain at Grand Park downtown

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