Going Back

4.01.2015

Before my roommate reunion a few weeks ago, I pulled up a bunch of old files on an external hard drive, copies of letters I’d written to a missionary back in my college days. We roommates planned to share funny excerpts from journal entries we’d written while we lived together. Those letters were the only journal I had.

It’s weird to go back.

I was writing to a missionary, I remind myself, which had to have colored my thoughts. I wrote a lot about wanting to go on a mission myself. That was before the mission age change. I wasn’t yet 21. I hadn’t remembered feeling such longing to go and serve God like that, to share the gospel like that. But I wrote a lot about that longing.

I was writing to a boy whose approval I desperately wanted, I remind myself, which had to have altered my tone. My tone was insecure. I couldn’t stop reassuring him that I wasn’t the “closed-minded liberal” he thought I was. I did it jokingly most of the time, but the frequency made it real.

I want to be kind to myself, I think as I read, but my instincts go elsewhere. I reach into the letter and out again and shake my 20-year-old shoulders a good one. “YOU DON’T HAVE TO PROVE ANYTHING TO HIM. And what’s so wrong with being a little liberal? And who are you trying to convince here? Yourself?” But 20-year-old Sam shrugs me off and diverts her eyes. “Why would I listen to you?” she says. “You never went on that mission like you said you would.” And I shrink, because she’s right. And I shrink smaller, because I feel relieved by it.

Be kind to yourself, I think again.

My authenticity waned and waxed throughout. There were passages that felt honest, even reading them years later. I wrote about the rush I got making an eloquent argument in my current events class and a spiritual insight I discovered in my world lit class. I planned, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, a study abroad to London and an internship at the Cincinnati Enquirer, neither of which came to pass. I gushed over the luggage I got for my birthday and fretted over getting my wisdom teeth out.

Of course I also wrote a lot about my roommates, those quirky, wonderful, kindred crazies. And although some of my stories didn’t check out when compared to my roommates’ versions at the reunion (I’m known to embellish here and there), the feelings were true. Mischievousness, cautiousness, loneliness, belonging, vulnerability, invincibility—that was us in those days, a beautiful mess of growing-ups all sharing a single bathroom.

Listening to: Kings of Convenience, “I’d Rather Dance With You”

#letsrunaway

3.26.2015

Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 9.49.20 PMThis is our summer travel route.

It’s an experiment in many things, things like spontaneity. We booked flights to Vienna on a whim two days ago, home through Copenhagen with Budapest, Prague, Krakow, and Warsaw in between. The tickets were crazy cheap, so we pounced and expedited a passport for Scout. We have the time now. We won’t always.

We watched “Dead Poets Society” last week—”Carpe Diem. Seize the day.” And we got an offer, which we left on the table, to trade our many-miled Corolla for a few-miled minivan. And a sister from our church congregation passed away of colon cancer far to young. And these factors all combined in a rush of panicked energy to live, live, live as much as we possibly can.

There was a phase of my life when I felt, quite acutely, that I needed to say no to most everything. I needed to conserve my strength and my space, to ration my emotions, to go in, to look in, to live in, to hunker down, to pause. To pause.

But my life is in play again. And it’s yes, yes, yes in every direction—North, South, East, West. Look up. Live out.

Listening to: The Civil Wars, “Billie Jean”

High on Dallas

3.14.2015

We’re moving to Dallas for the summer and, quite possibly, much longer thereafter.

It was hard for both of us to say no to Denver. And I’m pretty confident that I’m not a fan of Dallas, to be honest. But we feel so good about Bain and it’s community and Trent’s place in it all that we feel peace about the rest. Abiding peace. If there be things worth liking about Dallas, I will find them. And if there be things worth hating about Dallas, I will bitch about them. But I will bitch about them in abiding peace.

Speaking of which, can we talk briefly about how I honestly believe I get endorphins from hating things? It’s fun for me. Truly. Is it science? Is it magic? I know not. But I do know that while other people go running, I sit at home and hate on running and yet, we all get a natural high. Bitching can be euphoric.

OK. Now back to Dallas.

On second thought, that’s all I have to say about Dallas at the moment. Instead, I’ll get back to watching the season finale of “Downton Abbey” and cleaning up my disastrous bedroom and letting the dust of the past three weeks settle all around me—travel, host visitors, work, play, wake, sleep. And bitch. This is the circle of life.

Listening to: Gwen Stefani, “Hollaback Girl”

Come, Fly With Me (And My Baby)

2.25.2015

Trent, Scout and I just finished a blur of sell weekends strung together. I still don’t know if the term is “cel weekend” as in, “Let’s celebrate your internship offer!” or “sell weekend” as in, “We’re going to sell you on our firm.” Either way, the just is the same. The consulting firms that offered Trent internships flew us out to check out the cities, meet people from the offices, and get spoiled rotten. At first I was kind of put off by the whole concept of being wined and dined. “I can’t be bought,” I puffed to Trent on the first flight to Dallas. But on the massage table at the Ritz Carlton, I was singing a different tune.

Trent has been trying to get me to write a post with tips for making the most of a cel/sell weekend, but I’m not sure I have anything insightful to say on the subject. (Talk to folks before you go. Don’t lose sight of the factors you care about most. Let the dust settle back home before you make any big decisions. And so on.) But all of this recent flying has made me want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about flying with a baby. So here we are.

Scout Murphey has been on almost 30 flights in her short 10 months of life, and while I’m sure there are babes out there who travel more frequently and parents out there who travel more gracefully, I do have a few ideas worth mentioning. They’ve mostly been learned by trial, error, and utter disaster. Take note.

  • Remember the birth certificate. For whatever reason, it’s actually impossible to remember to bring the birth certificate of your “infant-in-arms” to the airport. And that’s a fact. So do yourself a favor and leave a spare copy permanently in your suitcase. I keep one in the car seat bag as well. And if you don’t have a car seat bag, it’s worth the investment. It keeps everything clean and prevents straps from getting torn in transit.
  • Buy an umbrella stroller. I own a really nice jogging stroller that I’ve jogged with exactly once. I only ran about 30 seconds. I was trying to catch a bus. So you’ll understand if I have trouble relating to parents who can’t travel without their jogger. The truth is, it’s much easier not to. Some airlines won’t allow you to gate check bulky strollers, which means you can’t access them during layovers or to and from your gates. Plus even the airlines that do gate check big strollers don’t cover damages they make to them. Solution: Get yourself a cheap umbrella stroller. They’re small. They’re compact enough to go on the conveyers through security. And if they get damaged, just toss them. One of ours came off the plane with a bent wheel. I’ve done plenty of homework on umbrella strollers and my favorite is the Kolcraft stroller Walmart sells. It’s pretty durable for the price. And don’t forget to get a gate check tag from the gate agent before you board your flight.
  • Get through security. It’s a hassle without a baby, so it’s definitely going to be a hassle with a baby. My advice is meditate in line. Breathe. Get zen. Be zen. Also, every airport has different regulations, but a few things are pretty consistent. They’re going to swipe your hands to test them for something right after you walk through the metal detector. Don’t be alarmed. It’s normal. They’re also going to go through your diaper bag if you have just about anything in there—baby food, milk, frozen milk, etc. They’ll let you take it through if it’s for the babe, but they’re going to sniff it out first. Just plan on it.
  • Carabiner your everything. Toys, pacifiers, snack bags, etc. If you can lose it, you can carabiner it to your bag or your belt loops. That’s actually a sub-tip—wear pants with belt loops. You’ll thank me when you see someone else’s baby crap tumbling down the aisle. If you don’t have carabiners, these are a good, cheap substitute.
  • Stock your seat. Board the flight as early as possible and give yourself plenty of time to stock your seat. Take everything you could conceivably need to entertain and care for your baby on the flight and shove it in the seat pocket in front of you. If that means removing the magazines and safety information cards to make room, so be it. Sneak them into someone else’s pocket. This is war, OK? Also, double and triple check that you have a hearty handful of clean tissues in that seat back pocket. You don’t want to slime anyone while you’re scrambling to wipe your baby’s nose. It’s kind of the cardinal sin of flying with a baby. I, a lowly sinner, know all about it.
  • Think like Jason Bourne. Jason Bourne is always scanning the area and planning for every possible scenario. Once your seat is stocked, look around. Can you tell which bathroom has the changing table in it? The one at the front or the one at the back? It’s almost never in both. If you can’t figure it out based on signage, do yourself a favor and ask a flight attendant at the first opportunity. Don’t wait for a blow-out. I repeat. DON’T WAIT FOR A BLOW-OUT. If you do, you’ll be wandering up and down the plane covered in poop with a half-naked baby, maximizing the number of strangers who judge you.
  • Suck the landing. Landings (and take-offs) are hard on babies ears. That darn changing air pressure! My advice is just let them suck on a pacifier, on a bottle, on you, whatever. Just baby that baby and let her do whatever she wants to get through it. Nursing a baby in close quarters with strangers made me extremely self-conscious at first, but I’ve overcome the insecurity. I’ve stopped using a nursing apron cover thingy—I feel like they draw more attention than anything. And now that Scout is old enough to care, I’ve stopped covering all together. I’ve learned how to be discrete enough to make me feel comfortable, but more importantly, I’ve realized that American attitudes about public breastfeeding are extremely immature. But that’s a rant for another day. For nursing moms on planes, I’d recommend wearing a very comfortable nursing bra that makes you very accessible. Catch my drift? This one is my favorite.

Did I miss anything major? What tips do YOU have? Happy flying, parents!

C-ville Cabin Fever Busters

2.18.2015

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Trent had a snow day today. It was glorious.

The world got fluffier in every way. Trent woke up with Scout while I slept in and then worked on some freelance assignments uninterrupted. He made breakfast (and lunch!) and we all ventured out to chat with some Darden friends down the road whose classes were also cancelled. We napped and read and never got dressed and had a little family dance party to “Baby Beluga”—Raffi fan girls in the house! Most of the day Scout was either kissing her stuffed prairie dog (with alarming passion, I might add) or scooting around the apartment with a pink pinwheel in one hand, waving it around like a magic wand, casting a happy little spell on all of us. This fluff is the stuff of greatness. You can quote me on that.

I figured that since we had such a nice day staying in, now would be the perfect time to do a little post about how to stay sane during a Charlottesville winter. It’s a cute town—the cutest, I’d say—but in the winter it starts to feel small. (To be fair, everything does.) Here’s my own little cocktail for curing cabin fever.

  • C-ville Coffee—It’s a kid-friendly coffee house and it’s genius. I’m new to the world of parenting. Maybe this is old hat to most people, but to me, it’s a revelation. It has all the coziness of a normal coffee shop plus a big play area with toys, books, puzzles and high chairs. They also sell delicious, hearty, oaty, honey-soaked muffins. You can tell a lot about a coffee shop by the oatiness of its muffins.
  • Play Area at the Mall—It’s a mall. It’s named “Fashion Square,” which kind of makes me chuckle, because I’m a jerk. (Really? Fashion Square? That’s the best you could come up with?) But that is neither here nor there where the indoor play area is concerned. It’s safe. It’s warm. It’ll do just fine.
  • Bend Yoga—It’s a family yoga studio on the downtown mall. They have classes for parents where babies are welcome to tag along and participate. We’ve gone to a few of their drop-in events and I’ve been impressed. It allows me to get some cabin-fever-combating endorphins from my preferred form of exercise—stretching. For me, exercise can’t really be low-impact enough.
  • McGuffey Art Center—It’s a collection of studios of local artists, all housed in a beautiful old school building downtown. You can stroll through during the day and drop in on whoever is working to observe or chat. (Scout isn’t much for art yet, but she’s crazy for the ceiling fans.) They also offer classes and workshops all through the winter. I’m hoping to do a print-making workshop in March.
  • Window Shopping—A few times this winter, Scout and I have bundled up and gone out window shopping just to get some air. There are lots of unique local shops to explore. Rock Paper Scissors and Shenanigans Toys are two of my favorites.

Refinement is My Middle Name

2.17.2015

My mom, sister and I have decided to memorize a scripture and poem in every month of 2015. Nobody has overtly attributed this goal to the influence of “Anne of Green Gables,” but Anne (with an e!) is most certainly at the root of our desire to be able to recite poetry fluidly in casual conversation. There’s really no other explanation.

In January I memorized “Life is Fine” by Langston Hughes and 1 Corinthians 13:12 . In February it was “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley and John 9: 2-3.

What are your favorite poems and forgotten scriptures? What should I add to my list?

My mom’s February poem was “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran. And it’s beautiful. Too beautiful not to share.

On Children
 by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The one where we fight on Valentine’s Day

2.16.2015

I often think about a line from an episode of “The Office.” It’s not Shakespeare or anything, but it hit home nonetheless. It’s one of the final episodes of the series when Jim and Pam are on the rocks. They’ve spent the entire season closing themselves off to each other, not speaking their minds, growing apart, and you’re watching this TV love story crumble with real pain in your chest. They start to argue about something and then Jim says he’s going to leave, because otherwise they’ll just go home and fight. And just when you think that apathy is going to consume them, Pam says, “No, I think we should go home and fight.” And they smile at each other and leave together, knowing that they’ll spend the evening arguing. But they’re relieved in knowing that. And so are you. Better that they fight and care than that they walk away.

Trent made dinner reservations for Valentine’s Day weeks in advance, exceeding my wildest expectations. We got a babysitter and he took me to Red Pump, a gorgeous little restaurant on the downtown mall in Charlottesville. We sat in a corner booth in the warm glow of candlelight and ate sea bass and duck confit as the brittle wind whipped snow flurries up and down the storefront window. I wore heels and red lipstick. Is the scene sufficiently set?

We argued all night. Truly. All night long we argued. And while there was a time of my life when something like that would have tainted the whole evening, now is not that time. I’ve learned that arguing, when done the right way, is an important part of healthy relationships and that romance doesn’t always play footsie under the table. I have learned that my wildest dreams are often boring in the flesh.

We argued on the drive home and kept on going as we crawled into bed. And we laughed because it’s just so “us” to spend Valentine’s Day challenging each others’ ideas about the world. We both kind of love “us”—at least we’ve grown to—and that feels like something to celebrate.

Listening to: Ray LaMontagne, “Be Here Now”

Come to Jesus in the Kitchen

2.13.2015

Today, I ate an entire bag of orange Milanos for lunch.

Yesterday, I ate a 1 lb. block of mozzarella. Like an apple. Because it honestly felt like too much work to slice it.

The day before that, I polished off the box of Valentine chocolates my mom sent me. But then the ball was rolling, so I turned to the remaining fun-size Halloween candy bars on top of the fridge. And so I could feel good about myself, I ate three bowls of Cinnamon Life cereal. At the time, it felt healthy.

At one point this week, Trent made me a grilled cheese sandwich while I interviewed a source for a story over the phone. To return the favor, I threw a cereal bar at him tonight as we walked out the door. “Dinner,” I said with both shame and sarcasm.

But for real. That was dinner.

I went to the grocery store last Monday. I promise, I did. I got all of the ingredients to make lettuce wraps. Fancy lettuce wraps. But the lettuce, I hate to tell you, is wilting as we speak.

Why is feeding myself such a struggle? It’s a constant source of annoyance and guilt. I’m nursing still. If for no other reason, I should be eating healthier for my kid. There are plenty of reasons though, aren’t there? Let’s talk about hurdles. Time. Skills. Inflated expectations. Let’s blame Pinterest. And Food Network. And the robust local restaurant scene. It’s turned into this thing, hasn’t it? I have such aspirations for beautiful, plentiful, healthful, whole meals. But it’s the first thing to crumble when a work deadline is looming and Scout isn’t sleeping and before you know it, she’s eating wood chips out of the house plants and I’m gnawing at a block of processed cheese like a rat. Let’s talk about that. On second thought, let’s not talk about that.

Let’s talk about solutions. Do I just need to develop some cooking skills? Is that what’s holding me back? I bought this book a while ago to rectify that problem, but I’ve only cracked it open once. I burned three omelets in one week and haven’t touched it since. Or maybe I need to educate myself about nutrition. Maybe if I had a clearer understanding of what healthy food actually accomplishes for my body, it would be easier to commit to it. Coursera offers a free course on Child Nutrition from Stanford University. Possibly a start? Maybe I need to get inspired. Maybe I need to lower the bar. Maybe I need some sort of come-to-Jesus moment in the kitchen. Maybe you can help.

Advice? Resources? Speak to me. And speak up, will you? My stomach is growling.

Offers!

2.01.2015

Disclaimer: This post may contain some masked bragging. And unmasked bragging. But I just can’t help myself.

Good ol’ Trent Murphey pulled it off.

He got consulting internship offers from all of the Big Three. Plus Deloitte. He worked his little non-traditional-background butt off and now he’s sitting pretty. His consulting dreams are coming true. It’s fun to see.

Trent came into this whole thing knowing he was at a disadvantage, because his work history would be a question mark for recruiters. Teach For America is valued, but is it relevant? He knew he would have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get the opportunities he wanted. So that’s what he tried to do. He cased and cased until he was blue in the face. He also reached out to every consultant he could find to pick their brains and learn from their experiences. Darden did a lot to help Trent make sense of the complexity of the recruiting process. There’s no road map for accomplishing my liberal artsy career goals, but there’s a linear path to consulting. Trent just had to follow it. Truthfully, he had to sprint down it. But the sprinting paid off.

Trent’s experience at Darden so far has been enlightening for me. Mostly, it’s taught me that hard work isn’t something you have to fear. I haven’t seen much of Trent these past months, but I honestly haven’t minded, partly because I can see purpose and fulfillment in him that I haven’t really seen before. He’s having fun. I want that for him. But also, I haven’t minded because I can feel what’s ahead. When the time comes that I find something I want to go after like Trent has wanted to go after this, I want the freedom to dive in head first without worrying my husband will resent me for it. That’s probably not the purest reason to support your spouse’s dreams, but there you have it. Do unto others and what not.

We’re in the thick of the decision process now and with Trent, it’s always a process. He can’t move forward without gathering every single piece of data he possibly can. I make big decisions with my gut. He makes big decisions with his spreadsheet. We’ll be in either Seattle, Denver or Dallas for the summer, and likely go back after graduation. We’re traveling to check out each place these next few weeks and then we’ll decide. But first, we’re going to take a breath and celebrate.

Milk

1.30.2015

My milk supply plummeted last week, at least that’s when I noticed that it had plummeted.

And yes, this is a post about lactation.

I’m not sure what caused it. Dehydration, maybe? Or stress, although I haven’t felt particularly stressed as of late. Perhaps it was just the fact that Scout has been teething. (I blame everything I don’t understand on teething.) Perhaps it messed with her appetite and I just didn’t notice.

Women who struggle with infertility often describe feeling broken, inferior somehow, not woman enough. When they see their bodies as being incapable of doing what should be natural, I’ve heard women say they sometimes feel adversarial toward their bodies, separate from them.

I love nursing. I’m one of those. I love that it forces me to stop and breathe throughout the day, to look into my daughter’s face, to hold her. I love it, even when I’m begging for sleep, even when I’m in the middle of work, even when she squirms and sits up and talks to herself distractedly. It came as a surprise, my emotional attachment to this bodily function. But it’s there. Not everyone feels it. But I do. I want to nurse Scout Murphey through that 12-month mark and straight on ’til morning. I’ll nurse as long as it feels right for her and for me.

But my milk supply plummeted last week. And in the smallest little slippery sliver of a way, I began to comprehend what I’ve heard those women talk about. Last week when I pumped for the first time in months to prepare for a few upcoming trips, I watched an all-but-empty bottle stay all-but-empty. For days I felt broken, just like they say, and powerless, which made me realize how much nursing, at least most days, makes me feel calm and sure and strong.

My milk supply is increasing again and the crisis wasn’t much of a crisis in the end. And I’m not really sure where this post is going, except to say that I’m more grateful for my body than I was before, more connected to it. And also this—women, be kind to yourselves. OK?

Listening to: Nick Drake, “Place to Be”

Back in C-ville

1.20.2015

Now that we’re back in Charlottesville, I’m realizing how fast the time is going here. Trent has internship offers in hand (more on that later), so the worst of this whole thing is behind us. Now we can relax a bit and enjoy ourselves. Here’s my bucket list from now until summer. I’ll spare you the work items. This list is all play.

  • Virginia Beach—I’ll be joining my college roommates (plus a few babies) at the beach for a few days to celebrate Galentine’s Day. I predict chilly weather but much rejoicing. It’s been too long since we were all together.
  • Mother Goose Storytime—I managed to claw my way into a highly sought-after registration-only storytime at the Gordon Avenue Library. Hopefully Scout appreciates it. I had to sell my soul for the spot.
  • Food Tours—My parents got us a couple of gift certificates for food tours in DC and Richmond. We did one in Manhattan a few years ago and haven’t stopped talking about it since. Plus we’ve been watching a lot of Chopped lately, so we’re better prepared to talk the talk.
  • Dinner Dates—It took us four months, but we finally got a babysitting swap rolling. Our Friday lunch dates with Scout will now become our Saturday dinner dates without her. I love the girl, but I’m pumped to leave her behind. And thankfully, Charlottesville’s restaurant scene is booming. Let’s eat!
  • Host Visitors—My little brother is coming all the way from Stanford to spend his spring break with us. Plus my mom and mother-in-law will both likely make an appearance before June. Those grandmas can’t seem to stay away from Miss Scarlett. I’ve got a few plans for while they’re all here. We’ll definitely get in a historic UVA walking tour, a visit to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and a stop at James River Park.
  • Hike—We’ve yet to hike Hawksbill Mountain. That’ll happen this spring. We plan to take advantage of the free entrance days at Shenandoah National Park.
  • Visit DC (Again)—Can’t seem to get enough. This time, we’ll hit up Mount Vernon and the DAR Headquarters (a la Gilmore Girls) and look up the host of old friends we have in the area.
  • Swim Lessons—I signed us up for a parent/baby swim class at the Smith Aquatic Center, mostly because I’m sure this kind of extracurricular bonding will never happen with subsequent children, so what the hell?
  • Run Some Service Projects—I was just “elected” (a.k.a. I ran uncontested) to be the “Community Service Chair” of the Darden Partners Association. Not really sure what I got myself into just yet, but time will tell.
  • Foxfield Races—We plan to check out the infamous steeplechasing event in April. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to wear a big hat to this thing, but Lord knows I will.

BUT FIRST, I’m going to bed. Cause writing that list was exhausting. Happy term three, first years!

So, this is the new year.

1.16.2015

There’s something about flying on a plane alone with a 9-month-old that makes you see, with perfect clarity, how little control you have in the world. You are just a schmuck in all this. You think you have things figured out, but you don’t. And when you fly on a plane alone with a 9-month-old, you know that you don’t. You feel vulnerable, like a whole new kind of vulnerable. And even the teeniest acts of stranger-to-stranger kindness are tattooed into your soul. And to the man in the Which Which hat in 23B, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Scarlett and I made it home from a month-long hiatus from normal life. We spent it in Washington and Utah with our families. Trent was there in part and home in part. And as the cosmos would have it, Scarlett decided to rapidly acquire new life skills while he was away. She learned to pull herself up on things, wave, clap and bark like a dog. (Also, she growls like a dog. Also, she growls like a lion, tiger, cougar and bear. What is that? Five animal sounds? Six? Her “quack like a duck” is pretty impressive. It sounds like a very throaty, chain-smokery growl-quack. She has quite the repertoire.) Scout also popped out her first three teeth when Trent was gone. She’s like a whole new woman.

Now that I’m back home in Charlottesville, the New Year is officially starting. And with that, I make a list. Always a list. It’s a sickness. Blah, blah. Just go with it.

2015 Game Plan

  1.  I want to start my days off better this year. I am a natural born night owl and therefore a natural born slow-starter, but I want to change that a bit. When I read things about how breakfast-eaters have healthier diets throughout the day and early-risers are more productive, I feel … what’s the word? Guilt? Hope? Is there a word that means both? I’m going to develop better morning habits this year. I’ll keep you posted.
  2. I want to do my best work this year. And when I say that, I don’t necessarily mean I want to write my Pulitzer Prize winner, although that would be nice. I mostly mean that the trade magazines and other publications that have generously invested in me deserve the best that I can give them. I have a freelance work load that’s such a wonderful fit for what I want out of life. I’m going to honor that with my effort.
  3. I want to get back in touch with my inner artist. I want to memorize poetry, to blare music, to make bold fashion choices. That part of myself has faded. I want to find it again, reinvent it and wear it without apology.

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