GRATITUDE, HEALTH, MY TRUTH, SAFER PRODUCTS

Death to Lice // A Safer Approach

08/01/2017

Roughly a week ago my daughter came to me midday and told me her head was itchy. My first thought always goes to lice, so we took a time out to hunt for these annoying little bugs. She sat down on the couch and I combed through her hair with a little metal wand but found nothing. I was thankful as I did not have to deal with the whole cleaning process. For safe measures I checked my son and I had the kids check my head too. We felt like we had dodged a bullet. We went on with our day as normal.

That evening as my kids were getting ready for bed, my daughter approached me and asked if I could squeeze the toothpaste out onto her toothbrush for her. As she came closer I noticed a little brown bug peeking out from her hairline. Oh no! Lice!

I sat her down once again and used my metal wand to go through her hair. This time I found 3 bugs! It was already a little bit later of an evening for us because we had a lot of activities going on that day, so instead of going to bed at 8 it was 8:45. Murphy’s Law had hit again.  It was going to be a very late night.

We had not yet dealt with lice in our home, but I do remember the nightmare effort my own  family went through when we had gotten lice as kids. Everything needs to be bagged or washed. My mom used this horrible chemical solution we had to put on our heads which burned and itched my scalp. And then mom had to comb out our knotty hair in order to get all the bugs out. What a nightmare!

We had dodged several bullets this year in regards to lice. For a while it seemed like every week there was an announcement that another kid had it in class, but we were able to narrowly avoid it. I sent my husband across the street to the drugstore to pick up the only solution I knew for lice – RID.

My daughter had gone to a birthday party that day as well as a play date, so I quickly contacted both parents to let them know to check their own children for the little buggers. I know without question that lice is not caused by having dirty kids. In fact it’s quite the opposite – lice actually clings to clean hair more so than dirty, BUT , I still felt pretty embarrassed to have to contact the parents. It was probably less about being embarrassed that my child had lice, and more disappointed that I was the bearer of bad news and could have negatively impacted their own evening. Luckily neither family was afflicted.

Our luck did not run out there! Both sets of parents had dealt with lice previously and offered support and tips. One of the moms was actually a huge game-changer in our lice killing plans. She said that every time they had gotten lice in their family, they used Listerine and vinegar to get rid of the pests.

She recommended the original Listerine – the gold colored one – and said to douse the hair with it, cover it in a shower cap for 2 hours. and once the two hours are up, to rinse the hair with white vinegar.  After the hair is rinsed you can then comb the dead bugs out.  BRILLIANT!!!  She even walked over to let us borrow her incredible lice comb! How about that for support?!?!?

I called my husband really quickly and asked him to change his purchase agenda to Listerine, white vinegar, and 4 shower caps. He obliged and was home shortly. In the meantime I started taking all the sheets, comforters, pillows and toys off of the bed to wash. We threw all the stuffed animals and non-essentials in a garbage bag and tied them up air tight and put them aside for two weeks. If we were not paying per load for our apartment washing machines I may have just gone ahead and washed everything, but this lice ordeal was getting expensive fast!

I had just started the first load when my husband got home. Perfect timing.  We doused our heads with Listerine and all threw on shower caps. We found a family friendly movie, grabbed some popcorn and drinks, and made a night of it!

Within a few hours we were all lice free and in bed with clean sheets. In the end, it turned out that only my daughter had lice, but I figured if we were going to put in all the effort to clean the sheets we had better be safe than sorry and all go through the process together in order to guarantee that no one would find out they have lice the next day.

All in all, it wasn’t a horrible experience. We enjoyed the bonding and made some fun memories with our silly looking shower caps and a movie night. I was absolutely thrilled that this approach worked so brilliantly. It was so much gentler on our scalps than the chemicals we used growing up. Hopefully we can avoid lice in the future, but at least we have a great safe way to fight the little buggers. I think Ellie may have picked it up from tennis camp as they were all doing each other’s hair during their lunch break, but who knows. It sort of feels like a Rite of Passage.

Now I have a question for you…

Were you able to get through this entire story without scratching your head? LOL.

BEAUTYCOUNTER, BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HEALTH, MY TRUTH

My New Venture // Taking a Leap of Faith

07/25/2017

The last two months has offered opportunity for growth and self reflection as my husband and I explore what our future may have in store when it comes to employment and self made opportunities.  It has been a humbling time to say the least, as the process of applying to countless jobs and not having success in landing one can be a significant hit on the ego.  For the most part this time has brought us closer together and showed us what a strong team we are, but we haven’t been without our disagreements and conflicts, which only makes the process more difficult.

We are people of faith and truly believe that there is a plan for us.  I hold true that if I continue walking forward that life will work itself out.  Not all the experiences we go through in life will be joyful, but they all offer us the opportunity to learn and to grow.

Over the past year I have been highly focused on our family’s diet and overall health.  We have put a significant effort into cutting down on processed foods, sugar, animal products and byproducts, and increasing our vegetable intake significantly.  Overall we have done really well and we continue to progress forward.  With the recent time on his hands, my husband has actually become very invested in the research end of diet and wellness as well which has helped us progress even further with trying new foods and eliminating more negative aspects of our diet.  We are finally finding the footing that seems to work well for us, but I’m sure that we will continue to modify and adjust over time.

I mention the diet because it ties greatly into a decision I have made in regards to my next path. I’m amazed at the fear I feel as I sit here writing about my venture.  On one hand, I’m terribly excited and on the other I am fearful of judgment and criticism. No, I haven’t decided to sell any organs or become a sex worker.  But, I have decided to enroll in a multi-channel business program. Gulp.

I’m sure you are no stranger to these opportunities. They are by no means new.  In fact my mother sold Avon when I was a child and I used to get a penny for each sample marketing bag I delivered to someone’s front door.  Lol.  But it does seem that nowadays our social media feeds are full of them.  I have numerous friends selling all different types of things – Stella & Dot, It Works!, Thrive, Advocare, Young Living, Norwex, Jamberry Nails, BeachBody, Rodan + Fields, LuLaRoe, the list goes on. The feeds come in and  I’m not going to lie – it often drives me crazy.  

My initial reaction is that the frustration stems from my feed being full of advertisements, but I challenged these thoughts and with deeper reflection I came to the realization that the anger is actually directed at myself.  I was jealous.

Truly.  I am envious that these individuals are taking the initiative to become consultants for companies that they believe in.  They are being proactive and taking steps to better their lives, work towards financial freedom, and spread a message about products they believe in.  I get angry, because I feel like I missed out on an opportunity that other people are taking the risk on. Well my FOMO is not going to get the best of me any longer.  Lol.

Let me back up a bit, because really, my fear of missing out is not the reason I am getting involved in this new opportunity.  In fact, the timing feels somewhat serendipitous. I have been approached on numerous occasions about my interest in different organizations and it has never felt right.  At one point I even reached out to an individual about working with them because I saw the great work she was doing.  I spent a good amount of time talking with my friend about the opportunity and reviewing the resources she provided me with, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger – it just didn’t feel right.

However, recently an acquaintance of mine from Orlando, Laura, reached out to me recently about a new journey she was on.  She expressed that she had been following my blog and thought that it may be something that I was interested in becoming involved with.  Normally I would simply brush the contact aside as I am not interested in getting involved with sales – in fact it is something I truly hate doing – but I was familiar with the product and actually interested to hear more.

The company is called BeautyCounter and focuses on safer skin care and cosmetics.  Her mention of the company was not the first I had heard of it.  I was actually introduced to it 2 1/2 years ago back in Florida.  I had been invited to a social to learn more about the products and was completely intrigued. The problem was, that I was working part time at the counseling center and running a photography business – I was not interested in becoming a consultant for any company.  Although, in retrospect I wish I had!  I had also been scared off because the prices were certainly higher than the over the counter soaps and cosmetics that I got at the drugstore and I had never been one to spend much money on those types of products. Fast forward a few years and my feelings have changed a bit. Ironically, one of my first thoughts when she approached me was regarding the price, but when I perused the catalogue I quickly realized that I had inflated the prices in my head and over exaggerated the difference between over the counter products and BeautyCounter ones.  They are higher than the low end, but I had certainly spent just as much on an item at CVS.  And lately I’ve been trying to get safer skincare products using the EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database and have spent more money and time at Whole Foods than I’d like to admit and every time I’m there I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack because I am so overwhelmed – AND I still don’t feel like I have found a successful beauty routine.   

So I told Laura that I was open to talking.  She explained more about the company and their mission – “To get safer products into the hands of everyone”.  Being the sceptic I am, my first thought of course was “Sure, what a ‘nice’ motto, but not everyone will be able to afford their products.”  But, as I listened to understand (and held my cynicism at bay) I soon learned that the mission doesn’t mean the company expects everyone to buy their products, rather that as a company works to lobby for change in the cosmetic and skincare industry.  And that they personally prohibit the use of over 1,500 harmful or questionable ingredients in their products.  Now that’s something I can get behind.

I also learned that they have a 60 day return policy.  I find that refreshing too, because I have spent a good deal of money on products only to find that the quality is less than par and I am out the cash.  🙁  I love a company that stands behind their product with a full money guarantee.

So, the company seems like one that I can really get behind.  I love the mission and I have been trying to find safer cosmetics and skincare for myself.  If I’m 100% honest – I have been really frustrated with my skin lately.  I am noticing an increase in age spots and wrinkles that are really hitting my ego hard.  I’m not loving the changes.  I have been trying various DIY treatments, but haven’t had any success – in fact I think I’ve broken out more as a result.  I was at the point of giving up, but then Laura reached out to me and offered a possible solution.

I noted earlier that this opportunity seemed serendipitous, in part because of the desire to help my skin in the aging process, but also because despite the numerous resumes that I’ve sent out – I have not had one person show interest in me as a candidate. Ouch. That truth bomb hurts.

I’ve been wrestling with the idea of starting up a new coaching business – and still may do this, but I know how hard and isolating it is to start a new business.  Now that said, BeautyCounter will obviously take work, but the nice thing is I have a team of women that are behind me and will be there for support, advice, guidance, and encouragement – so it won’t be as isolating as going solo.

It feels like a risk – especially since there are start up costs involved and we don’t have any paychecks coming in at the moment.  But I believe in this mission and I believe in the company, so after some serious deliberation and self reflection (and discussions with my husband) I’ve decided to take a giant leap of faith and become a consultant for BeautyCounter.

I am terrified and exhilarated all at once. I feel a little raw putting myself out there – this is hard! Please be patient with me as I figure out the balance of posting things on my blog and social media.  I promise I will try not to inundate your feed with my business posts, but just know there will be growing pains.

I’d love your support in this journey, so if you want to know more about BeautyCounter OR if you are interested in possibly becoming a consultant yourself, please click here to email me (or comment on the page) and I’ll share all I know about the company and products and help point you in the right direction!  I’d love to have some company on this journey! 🙂   

 

ACTIVE LIVING, BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS, THE SIMPLE THINGS

From Mountain to Mountain // Our Summer Adventure

07/21/2017

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind adventure for our family. We created travel plans for this summer before our lives did a 180 which included a drive to North Carolina for our annual Fourth of July celebration and a flight to Denver for my cousin’s wedding, but with the passing of my Grandfather we needed to squeeze in a trip to Florida for the funeral.

I guess the bright side of not being employed at the moment is that we were able to adjust our plans accordingly. We extended our trip by a few days and headed out for our three state vacation.

We dropped off the dogs the night before with the dog sitter and in the morning headed out bright and early to pick up the rental car for our trip. Once we were loaded up, we headed out for the Western mountains of North Carolina. The drive took a little over 11 hours and we did our best to make the most of it, playing road trip games, listening to good music, and playing on the tablet.  The kids always thrive in the mountains – picking fruits and vegetables from the garden, playing with the cats, and spending quality time with their grandparents.

To make our trip easier and more affordable, my dear mother-in-law volunteered to watch the children for us so that my husband and I could attend the funeral together.  We spent one day in the mountains and then headed down to Atlanta (which has the closest airport) and flew to Florida to spend two days with my family.

I had not seen everyone in a few months, so it was nice to catch up despite the sad reason for our meeting. It was also nice to catch up with some of my extended family.  Unfortunately, despite coming from a rather large family, there were complex challenges that made the funeral small, adding an additional layer to the grief process.

That said, we tried to take advantage of the time we had in Florida and spend it with family.  The trip was brief and so visiting friends was not a possibility.  We were able to spend some time at my sister’s house though, taking her kids swimming while her husband grilled out and she spent time packing for the upcoming Colorado trip.

While on our trip, two of the challenges I knew I would have to overcome included the predisposition to drink at these types of events (funerals, celebrations, and weddings) and keeping up my training for the marathon. Luckily, I stayed pretty well on top of the two. I was even able to run 7 miles the evening of my grandfather’s funeral – talk about cathartic. My husband actually joined in for the last two, which made it an easier finish – and he brought me water to ward off the Florida heat!

We flew out the morning following the funeral and headed back from Atlanta to North Carolina where we spent the next several days with friends and family.  We love these trips to the mountains as it is a great way to unplug.  We filled our week with tennis, rafting, golfing, movies, food, friends, fireworks, and of course – running.

Our time in the mountains went fast, but it did not mean the end of our vacation.  We had more mountains to see. So from the Smokies to the Rockies we went!  Once again we drove down to Atlanta to catch our flight to Denver.

By the time we got in it was late at night and we all fell asleep pretty easily at the hotel. In the morning my son woke up bright and cheery thinking he heard his uncle’s voice in the hallway on his way to breakfast. I was highly doubtful that this was the case, as my brother tends to sleep in, but I was eager to get the day going so we headed down for breakfast.  In the elevator, I told the kids that it was likely Grandpa who they had heard. It turns out it was neither, but Grandpa was indeed downstairs checking his email at the business center. Seeing him was a great start to their day!

My mother, brother, and brother’s girlfriend slowly trickled down and we said our hellos before we all headed out for the drive to Steamboat Springs.  My parents had graciously got us all two condos to share for the weekend.  The kids were ecstatic for our little family reunion.  The weekend did not disappoint. The kids were not the only ones that got to see their aunts, uncles, and cousins, and reuniting with everybody was amazing.

The first day in town we met up with my immediate family for lunch, played at the creek and headed down to a rodeo with all the kids.  Ellie and Brodie had mixed feelings about the rodeo – as we all agreed it was hard to watch in regards to the treatment of the animals. But they did love entering the sheep and calf chase with all of their cousins, where they chased around the animal with a herd of kids trying to grab the ribbon off the animal.  Ellie said her favorite part was being able to touch the soft fur of the sheep and assured me that no one hurt the animals. Lol.  That evening us “kids” went to a local pub to meet up with some of our cousins.  It was the first time in a very long time that all four siblings actually went out together!

The second day we all met up – with aunts, uncles, and cousins too! – out on the town.  We adventured down the Alpine slide, shopped downtown, strolled through an outside art show, and as we do best, ate! Lol.  I even got a run in before coming home to get ready for the wedding.  That evening was the wedding – and what a wedding it was!  No offense to anyone whose wedding I’ve previously attended, but this may have been the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to.  In true Steamboat fashion we took the chair lift up to the top of the mountain where the ceremony was performed. The weather was perfect, the view was absolutely stunning and the couple made the view pale in comparison.  After tear inducing vows we all went inside to the beautiful ski lodge to dance our bottoms off until the wee hours of the night.  My husband, who is not typically a big dancer, only left the dance floor a few times – and I think it was because I had to use the ladies room.  😉  It was an amazing night full of amazing people.

The next day we said goodbye and headed back to Denver where we met up with another cousin for dinner.  It was really nice visiting her home and learning more about their lives in Denver.  Although I was ready to be in my own space again and done with the traveling for the moment, it was hard to leave Colorado.  The entire time I was there it simply confirmed my desire to make Colorado our home.  There is just something so majestic about Colorado that I cannot put into words. There seems to be a strong culture around living active lives, getting outdoors, and participating in life.  There is a laid back adventurer feel to Colorado that I love – and I also adore that no matter where this vegetarian, plant focused girl with a gluten allergy seems to go to eat – they always have an awesome option for me! 😉

That said, since we have returned home we’ve reconnected with some of our DC friends which reminds us how much we really do adore where we live.  We’ve also been taking advantage our “time off” and hitting the city – renting bikes, swimming, going to different classes and free events, and playing lots of tennis, which also makes us love DC that much more.  It’s amazing what a great community we have built here in such a short amount of time and are so grateful for the friends we have. As much as I want to go to Colorado, there is also a part of me that wants to stay put and see what evolves over time. I think the hardest part of living here is really just the financial cost. :/

Who knows where we will end up.  We’ve resigned our lease, so we are staying put for the moment, but we have both applied to numerous jobs in DC as well as in Colorado – so we will see what the universe has in store for us.  We are also still exploring avenues that would allow us to work remotely which would also open up some new possibilities for us.  Either way, I truly feel that in the end we will end up where we are meant to be – and until then, we are certainly making the most of this time.  🙂

 

BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS, LIFE CHANGES, MY TRUTH

Life’s Twists // Our Ever Changing Journey Through Life

07/03/2017

Life has kept us busy and provided some interesting twists and turns on what we thought was our set trajectory at this point in our lives.  Each time I sit down to write I am pulled away by some other force.  In the past month alone we’ve met the challenge of both dogs being ill (back to back), losing two loved ones, and school recessing for the summer.  Needless to say, I have found my ability to complete a coherent article challenging.  

I had completed one article which I planned to post in early June, but the contents of the article were completely irrelevant by the time that I was going to post it.  This is how much our lives have changed as of late.

To explain…roughly three months ago my husband was in the works to renegotiate his work contract.  As a result we were under the solid impression that he would have remote work capabilities as long as he was close enough to be present for essential face to face meetings.  We decided that we would start looking at some of the surrounding areas outside of DC, including Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia since the cost of living in DC itself is so high.  I researched various areas within a given radius and found some key areas that had good school systems and affordable housing.  My husband and I decided that we would take the summer to check out various areas by taking day and weekend trips.

On our first day trip we decided to check out a small beach town in Maryland.  We had no set agenda.  We were simply going to drive around, grab some lunch, and perhaps walk on the beach for a bit so that we could get an idea of the area.  We had decided that if we liked the area we would take a weekend vacation there to better learn about the location. As we entered into the town we found ourselves at a traffic light and hadn’t yet figured out on the GPS were we were going.   We decided to follow the majority of the traffic and take a left until we figured out a destination point.  We quickly realized that everyone making a left was headed into the marina and that it was a dead end. We decided to turn around in the small neighborhood to the right of the marina.  As we did so, we saw an open house sign and I asked if we could – for curiosity sake – check out the home.  My husband agreed.  We saw the realtor outside placing the sign into the ground and asked if the house was open.  She nodded and told us to follow her inside; we were the first to arrive.  There was a small set of stairs from the front entryway to the main floor and before he even got up half of the flight my husband said something in the spirit of, “Let’s make an offer”.  I looked at him like he had lost his mind.  We knew nothing of the home – not the price, number of rooms, condition of the property, etc.  But with each step up the stairs as the view of the water came into view he continued to repeat himself.  The home was breathtaking.  It was quaint, but open and offered direct views of the bay directly outside the wall of sliding glass doors.  The doors opened onto a patio that provided lulling sounds of the water crashing into the shore and that calming ocean breeze.  It was breathtaking.

I found out the specifics about the house and after spending a good amount of time walking through the house, the neighborhood, talking with the realtor, and even meeting neighbors, we left the home with excitement flurrying and decided to find a local restaurant for lunch and crunch numbers.  My husband and I agreed we would make an offer on the house.  We drove around the town a bit and landed at a small beach where we played in the water for a bit and ate snacks before heading home.  Upon our arrival back we talked to our lender, got our pre approval letter and connected with a realtor.  Within 24 hours we had an offer in and an accepted contract on the house.  It was unbelievable.  We went through inspections and negotiated a bit more and felt really comfortable with the final contract.  We were set to close in just under 3 weeks and were excited to settle down into our new home on the water.

The whole experience felt crazy and surreal.  We couldn’t believe how good our fortune was.  But then, things began to slowly unravel.  Terms of the negotiations seem to be changing daily and elements that seemed secure starting feeling like quick sand under our feet.  We started to really analyze the decision we were making in regards to the new moving parts.  At first we felt like we could be flexible and make it through these variances.  The house was beautiful and it felt so right, but as the pieces continued to move quicker and without predictability, we started to second guess our decision.  We had a tiny window to rescind our offer and we started thinking that we may have to actually use it.  And then, the final linchpin was pulled in the negotiations and my husband, with my total support, decided it was time to walk away from his job, which meant without question, we had to walk away from this house.

So, within a week we went from figuring out the logistics of moving, to being unemployed without any idea of where we were going to live and no true idea of future employment on the horizon.  We took a leap of faith based on our priorities, morals, and values.  At the end of the day I need my husband to be happy with his job and not feel resentful towards the home we buy.  We talk often about our decision and question at times if we acted out of fear, but the reality is that a home is a huge commitment.  If we had tied up our savings into the purchase of the home, my husband may not have been able to walk away from a situation that felt wrong.  So perhaps it was fear, or perhaps it’s faith.  The faith that this was not the plan for us, just a diversion to help us make the necessary steps to propel us in the right direction.  Leaving a job that he has had for nearly 15 years was not an easy decision, but yet he had the courage to do so.  And after all, it was only a house- there are other houses out there.

Within the past month since he has left his job we have both worked on trying to find different employment and business opportunities.  I’ve had the good grace to pick up some freelance jobs which has been helpful in bringing in some income and my husband has had some promising leads of his own, but for now we are still in limbo and simply trusting that life always seems to work itself out as long as we continue to walk forward with our heads high, a positive attitude, and simply trust the process.

We’ve resigned our lease and seem to be staying put, at least for the moment, but I’m excited to see where this experience leads us. For now though, we are thoroughly enjoying the extra time together as a family – and honestly, I’m excited that it may put Colorado back on the list of possibilities.  😉

BEST SELF, GRATITUDE, HAPPINESS, MY TRUTH

To Grandmother’s House We Go

05/31/2017

A little over a month ago my husband and I were talking about our dreams and aspirations – specifically my desires to write.  He is well aware and very supportive of my dreams and has encouraged me to follow my passions over the course of our marriage.  In our conversation, we explored my current efforts and the time that I have carved out of my week to set aside for writing.  We discussed some of the challenges that I was facing in regards to writer’s block, finding my voice, or the difficulties getting into a state of flow when you only have a limited time set aside or know that you have other pressing duties to attend to.

I made a quick comment that I wish I could escape to a mountain retreat for a few days and simply be by myself to meditate, relax, and write.  He seemed surprised at first, but then quickly realized that he often gets down time away from the family while out on travel for work, but that in the entirety of our existence as parents I have never had time away, by myself.  To clarify, I have had awesome opportunities to go on girls retreat weekends which are amazingly rewarding, but never a time to simply go off by myself and just be.  

Our conversation ended and our day resumed as normal.  My husband headed out to take the dogs on a walk and I started on lunch for the family.

The walk seemed a little longer than usual,  but it was a gorgeous day out, so I didn’t think too much of it.  When he walked through the front doors with the dogs he said that I was going to have my wish and that he had just gotten off of the phone with his mother and coordinated a weekend away for me at their mountain home in North Carolina.  They had the weekend picked out and a plan set.  The kids had a long weekend in May that we would take advantage of.  The plan was to drive from DC to NC, spend the night, and then he would drive with his parents and the kids to GA, where they have a second home and spend the weekend there visiting with his sister and niece as well.  Then, at the end of the weekend they’d return to NC pick me up and we would head back to DC.  This gave me almost 3 whole days to myself in their beautiful home on top of the mountain.

What?!?!?!?!?

I could not believe that in this little amount of time he had made one of my long standing dreams come true  and without me having to plan it.  I may just have one of the best husbands on the planet.

Last week, the trip transpired.  The family pulled away from the mountain side and headed to GA leaving me in the serene silence  of the mountaintop- just me and my laptop.

I spent three days and two nights by myself living almost primarily off of my inlaw’s garden vegetables and keurig cups, lol.  I wrote for several chunks of time each day, meditated, practiced yoga, gardened, and slept.  It was a well needed recharge.

It was certainly challenging diving into the writing.  I would have liked to have a clearer sense of where I was going with the task, but alas I did not – so no miraculous manuscript transpired over the few days in the mountain, but instead, many lessons.

The first being that I have an incredibly supportive and encouraging husband.  He brilliantly gave me my space while still texting me a “goodmorning” and ending the day with a quick phone call to say goodnight – reminding me that the weekend wasn’t about producing, it was about unplugging, reconnecting, and recharging.  He continually reminded me that he had no expectations of what needed to be achieved there on the mountain other than taking some well needed time for myself – and that should be my only expectation as well.

The second lesson I learned is that the pressure we put on ourselves to produce completely inhibits the creative process.  I had to let go of the idea that anything specific was going to come out of this weekend and simply think of it as a “workshop” of sorts that I was allowing myself to have.  It was unencumbered time that I was able to use practicing the skill of writing – whatever came of it.  There was no deadline or publisher at the other end of the weekend.  This was my first time to sit in silence for consecutive days and just be.

To get my juices flowing I simply sat on the ground with my laptop and wrote about that my current experience.  It helped to have my fingers hitting the keyboard and the words flowing out of my head – despite the banality of the topic.

Thirdly, being in a mountain house all by yourself is very creepy at times – especially at night.  Seriously.  Lot’s of strange noises.

And although there were certainly more take-aways than just these four, the last thing I will share that I learned over the weekend is that to be a writer, you simply need to write.  I allowed myself to write that weekend.  Whether or not the material I wrote will ever see the light of day is another story, but I wrote.  For hours on end, I wrote.  I am a writer.  It is my duty to continue writing and the mighty powers that be will decide what happens next.  

Oh, and I also learned, that no matter how hard I tried – I could not put a dent in my mother in law’s garden!  🙂

Well, before I bid adieu, I am taking a vulnerable moment to put out into the world a little bit of my writing.  As I mentioned above, in order to get the juices flowing I simply started by writing what was in the present.  It is a rough draft, no edits, so don’t be too harsh.  😉  

 

Here is what I wrote…

 

“She sat on the floor, laptop in her lap, determined to make something of this weekend.  The house, although quiet was not silent.  Classical music streamed in the background thanks to the new technology of Alexa and an old wind up clock ticked loudly from the fireplace mantel.  
She felt a sense of responsibility and urgency to write.
They had given her this gift.  This time away.  To create.  To produce.  But what was the expectation.  Was there a presumption that she would have a manuscript in hand by the conclusion of the weekend?
In the days leading up to the trip she wracked her brain for ideas and plot lines that she could draft.  From love stories, to mysteries, to self help books, but nothing seemed to spark a true idea.
She had started several books over the years and gotten thousands of words into the process, but the ideas seem to lose steam and lead to nowhere.  Should she be reassessing these attempts and focus on their completion, or start something new?
She felt unsure.  Perhaps if she had any experience in the field of writing she would know where to start. She had never taken a creating writing class or even attended a workshop.  She had recently started reading a book on the creative process of writing, but only got two chapters into it before getting distracted by other projects.  
Was she fooling herself?  What made her think that she could be a writer?  Or that she had anything worthwhile to say that people would want to read?
The incessant ticking of the clock seemed like a callous reminder that her time here was limited and that it may be her only opportunity to write uninterrupted for days at a time.   
She took a long, full sip of her coffee that had already gone cold.  The music playing in the background gave a feel of trepidation that seemed to mock her own fear.  Was she foolish to have asked for this time away?  She would ultimately fail, would she not?
She brushed this thought away.  What a horrible way to think.  
She tried to focus her thoughts on positivity and abundance.  
The myriad of self help books that she had consumed over the years had always expressed that there is room on this planet for greatness from all of us and that we simply needed to overcome our fear and simple start taking action.
She was taking action though, wasn’t she?  She was here.  She had put it out into the universe.  She had screamed it from the rooftops – well, proverbially speaking of course, but people knew.  She had shared this dream with others.  That was a big step.  It was no longer a secret hidden within her.  She had told others she wanted to be a writer and she was here, alone, in this mountainside home, with the sole purpose of writing.  But yet, she had not one thought worth typing onto her computer.  
She took a deep breath and picked up her coffee.  It was bitterly cold now.  She chugged the stale liquid until the mug was empty, moved her laptop off of her lap and stood up.  She had been sitting there for almost an hour already with nothing but a few notes jotted down on her screen.  Her legs felt cramped from the way she was sitting.  She bent forward and stretched the back of her hamstrings.  Her butt was almost numb and she knew the tingling would ensue shortly once the muscles started to awaken.  She picked up her coffee cup and stood back up alternating calf stretches as she walked slowly to the kitchen sink to drop off her mug.  She ran the cold water over the cup and placed it to the side of the sink.
She walked out onto the front deck and took a deep breath.  The site was truly amazing.  There were luscious green, tree covered mountains for as far as she could see.  The depths of the color gave the view so much dimension.  The sun bounced from the leaves making certain patches of trees look almost as if they were glowing.  The sky was a vibrant blue and the clouds looked like puffy white pillows of cotton dancing in the sky.
She sat on the front step of the deck and planted her feet onto the ground.  The deck was warm from the sun and the sensation felt soothing.  She looked around.  It was quiet.  So much more so than in the house.  Here, she realized, she was truly alone.  A smile slowly crept onto her face.
She thought about how supportive her husband had been when she mentioned her desire for a weekend away.  Being a mother was wonderful in so many ways, but the reality was that it was also extremely exhausting and mostly thankless.  They hadn’t really even discussed it as a real possibility, he just seemed to get where she was coming from with her longing for solitude.  After their quick and what she would have described as trivial discussion of her fantasy, he had actually gone off on his own and made this weekend happen for her.  He gave her the precious gift of silence.  
She felt guilty for any feelings of frustration she may have felt towards him in the past.  He truly was a good husband.
God, she was blessed”.