realistic expectations @ on a little ledge by my ferns – stl.

oh hey – long time, no talk. or – no write. what’s up?

to those i know in real life, in person: here we go. a life update of intricate sorts.

to those i read and who read me online: a deeper thought, a perspective.

since the last time i recall writing, the seasons have changed and two puppies have joined the mix. my oldest turns 16 on wednesday, the middle blended daughter turns 12 on tuesday – amazon delivered a couple of *i really want to tell you* today and the sun is shining. it has been a wet couple of days but, today? it’s glorious. sunny, cool in shade, warm in patches of daylight.

my heart has been leaping all morning at our dream and our vision. two adult dogs walking on taylor dock in bellingham, when we finally get to a milky chance concert, the next time we buy fresh flowers at pike’s, the sound of seattle… the coffee.. my mountain view.

my greenhouse. my rosebush. my rosemary. the deer. the neighborhood. the inspiring corner kitchen garden and the desire to be family friends with the people with banana trees and tire swings.

birch bay. foggy mornings. (did i say coffee) and the kayaks. enter back the dogs. the moss. the green. the ferns.

which brings me back to where i started (in my title) – by my ferns here in stl.

the ferns are getting there. (the puppies have not been especially helpful in this regard, but we are learning and i am praying my hostas’ safety and well being each day. MAN they like to rumble and wrestle in them leaves!) the greens of the green thanks to the rain are like fairy dust in this midwest spring. pnw vibes all the way and it’s like being plugged into a little electric socket.

on the homefront: it is a switch day which means i wind down my me time and personal growth and match it up to the needs of the collective, the behavior i want to see more of from my daughters and the way the house needs to run for my sanity and everybody’s health and comforts to be somewhat met.

regarding the publishing project: it has hatched and is a duckling sitting in a sweet little egg. designers are working on statement of work. village books and i are in a pending contract. and my list of people to send invitations to this summer is coming up daily along with the right hue of yarrow golden yellow for the stationary. sigh. my creative baby infant child. my first published work. an apple off my apple tree. <pulse>

oh, how much more i could write right now.

ideas for the future. on my love for my children.

my gratitude. my husband.

// a song we wrote. //

what i have learned in the past two days, what i really truly feel deeply now and my active intentions for the next twenty four hours…

for the next week.

the house.

The summer.

It all.

But, realistically? It is all so actively underway that it simply can only be expected that we all just live it out and report in on the big stuff.

Love live and in living color.

Ok. Peppers. Gear change. Till next time…. erin

Corporate Yogi: An Approach to Not Losing Yourself in a Corporate World

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The last thing I want to experience on a Monday morning is a sweep into the grind. Rather, I prefer a transition – a buffer – some sense of ownership over what is happening as I move from writing and planting to business architecture and thinking about rental car technology.

In order to secure said transition, I do a couple of things:

Do Not Set an Alarm

Exception here is if there is an early morning meeting or if I go to bed super late. Otherwise, I let my body get the sleep it needs on a Sunday night. I wash my sheets on Sunday, I do one final round of puttering around; tidying things up. And then I try to be in bed, reading by 8:30p or 9p so that I can fall asleep and get the full amount of sleep cycles I need to wake up naturally.

If I do have to set an alarm, I based it on my sleep cycle (3.5 hours for me). I highly recommend knowing your sleep cycle and waking based on when you complete a cycle. There are a plethora of apps to help you find this. The one I use is appropriately titled “Sleep Cycle”, :)

Enjoy Your Morning 

I have the luxury of working from home, but not necessarily all the time. Regardless though, I make sure I have time in the morning to enjoy it. I resist the rush. Things that make a difference are:

  • Electric tea kettle by the bed, filled with water at night so you can turn it on – snooze – and have a cup of hot water or tea before you even get out of bed. (I have tea in my nightstand and a really pretty tea cup I keep by my bed.)
  • Candles in the bathroom, always
  • Programmable coffee maker and good coffee. Just drink good coffee, people.
  • Some outdoor time. I walk my dog in my softest cotton clothes and a ball cap.
  • Some prayer time or meditation. I have a 6am prayer line I join where I pray with other people. Sometimes I skip and pray on my own or write a little bit.
  • Eat something. Cook yourself sweet potato fries and an egg. Have a greek yogurt smoothie. Wipe down your counters.

Ground Yourself

I have turned my bathroom into a complete sanctuary. It has stones from various places I have traveled. It is a gorgeous yellow. It has a framed picture of a Ojai garden. And. No. Clutter. I put any shower supplies in a basket under my sink. I have the minimal makeup that I have tucked to the side. And I take my time in my own skin feeling whole, fresh. Sometimes just holding time to connect to these other places and to my creative self. I keep Deepak’s book in the room and just read a little each day. I take a couple deep breaths and I don’t leave my bathroom until I feel like I have come fully present.

Dress Personally 

I do not wear clothing that makes me feel muted, lazy, conformed or uncomfortable. Invest in a couple good suits (J. Crew, you really can’t go wrong – you will wear the blazer forever). If I go to our IT Campuses, I wear my favorite jeans, a tee and a blazer. For corporate, I’ll wear one of three shift dresses or a suit and a fun top. I have weeded out everything from my closet that I don’t love. I want to feel creative and vibrant. The people I respect most are the ones who look happy and awake. The way you dress is either intentional or its not, no matter what degree of casual or professional dress.

Come up with something signature that makes you feel like your creative or yogic self. My friends and family have given me jewelry. I love wearing these gifts – especially this particular vishuddha bracelet (throat chakra, connected communication) and these gorgeous mystic topaz earrings. Part of what I believe makes a person not feel disjointed between work life and home life is when you blend using small subtle ways. For me, it’s feeling the support of family. Or writing personal notes the night before and dropping them in the corporate outgoing mail. Just little things to help blend.

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Call People You Love

Twice a week, I drive out to our IT Campus in Weldon Springs. I use this time to go through a call list of people that I like to check in with on a regular basis. OR I listen to one of Joyce Meyer’s YouTube videos. If I need to get pumped up, I have a playlist I love. But, I try to maximize the time in the car. I also try to keep my car neat. It doesn’t work. (CUPS!) But having wipes in the compartment helps just keep things fresh so you don’t start your day off feeling behind because your car is messy. If I do have a heap of cups or mugs, I just clear them from the car at the start of my week for sure.

Pick Your Hat

A couple years back, I wore myself out “switching hats”. So, I took the time to list out the things I do for my job and connect them to the spiritual or intentional parts of my life, my motivations. I thanked God for these abilities and was able to see how they connected with traits I show when hiking, helping others or cooking spaghetti. (Here’s my favorite post on that.)

From there, I started to find myself wearing ONE hat, to all places. I felt I grew in integrity. My decisions started to feel less disconnected and more cohesive. I didn’t feel at the mercy of a schedule or a to do list. The schedule was MINE. The list was MINE.

And if you study spiritual text (like this book below on the Yamas and Niyamas), this stuff flows over to your work life. I still have a lot of growing up to do in my professional life – I am sensitive and get frustrated. But I am certainly evolving and a lot of it comes down to having principles that define who you are.

Regardless of if you have flexibility in your schedule or not, I believe the key to feeling connected is to take the time to understand what it is about you that makes you good at what you do and then support yourself. Whether with the right food and time in the morning or the right rest and discipline at night, the trick is creating space in your life so you can be fully present and vibrant.

Yes, it does suck sometimes to spend the ten minutes putting the dishes away so you can have a clear sink and counter in the morning. Yes, it is so much easier to just say you’ll eat out tomorrow rather than put the salad together that you got the stuff for. But the discipline of these things will eventually set in. And, what I experienced, is you kind of “grow into yourself”. And people start to know you for who you are and what you do. The expectations that people have of you are organic to who you have revealed yourself to be, not you constantly trying to strive towards the changeable expectations of your environment.

My favorite thing about my work is that people know my personality and I can be a little bit of a hippie or edgy, a little weird and creative. The bottom line is my performance is consistent because I am consistently myself by allowing the time, the space and the breath to be fully present.

What are some of the ways you balance your life? Comment below! I would love to hear your tricks!

Till next time.

Man. I need a better sign off!

– erin

The Evolved Road Trip: 7 Steps to Take

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About two weeks ago, I decided that it was about time I start planning and getting excited about a trip. My daughters and I went on an epic road trip a couple years back and MONTHS went into that planning. My atlas was on the nightstand all the way leading up to our departure and I would pick a leg of the trip and go through it in my mind. As the trip came and went, I found myself wildly connected to the intention behind each of the places that were picked – explored – enjoyed – and slept in.

So. We are doing it. We are taking a trip next summer and as I find myself thrilled I have an active trip to which I can apply my imagination and resourcefulness, I figure I will offer here what I have found to be key steps in the magic making.

1. Pick Your Destination Based on Your Vibe

Our trip is going to be rooted in Sacramento, to visit my oldest cousin and just get that Northern California vibe right into our bones.

And that’s just it – the vibe – the last time we traveled like this, the destination was Sedona, AZ. And that was to connect with a place my Grandmother always visited.

For me and many others, travel plants seeds or gives you the sun and the water to grow. I feel like I always come back different. So picking your destination based on what you want more of in your life, or where you want to be reinforced, is a wise choice.

2. Planning Your Anchors

After deciding to drive instead of fly (that was a family vote), I plugged in the start and end point into Google Maps and looked at the immediate option presented back to me.

From there, I ask myself:

a – Who could I see (friends, family)

b – What could I see (National Parks, Botanical Gardens, Cool Cities)

c – How could this be ridiculously just awesome (Take yourself out of the straight shot mentality.)

From there, I play around with the route like it was a story. I move the line around, trying to find the anchors of the road trip. Obviously, checking with people you want to see or stay with to make sure they are around.  To me – this part is the most creative part of the planning.

Also, here is kind of a practical hint when planning: think of drives you are familiar with in order to prep how you can mentally do the trip. For me, it’s 3.5 hours to Kansas City and 5 hours to Chicago. As I am planning the legs of the trip, I think “that’s to KC and back” or “thats to Chi Town and back and then back to Chi Town”. Then, I plan my stops in those increments. Secondary hint: I don’t do more than one 15 hour leg in a journey. Unless it’s totally necessary. (And I have an audio book.) Highly recommending David Whyte’s Poetry of Self Compassion for early morning departures when kids are sleeping. It’s life changing. I promise. It’s got that prayer flag, fresh coffee, open road vibe.

3. Give Your Family Options

On our last trip, I let the girls pick our route home after providing them three options. (North through Utah? Garden of the Gods? Or back the way we came?) For this trip, however, I picked the route because – let’s face it – we are going to drive to Sacramento and hit at least four National Parks, I just needed to be the boss. But, their options will come in in terms of what bucket list things they want to hit. For Ellen, it is parasailing.

Cue a pin of parasailing in Lake Tahoe.

4. Search Terms to Use When Googling Lodging

Don’t get me wrong, I spend *plenty* of time on sites like hotel.com. But here are some of the best search terms I have found to get you those memorable places to stay.

Best Place to Stay, Inn, Boutique, Ranch, Historic, Bed and Breakfast, Gardens, Organic, Good Nights Sleep, Host, View, Traditional, Comfortable, Beautiful, Stars, Spa

If you didn’t already know this, you can search in a formula. So just pick some words that relate to your vibe set in #1 and use plus signs in your search. For example,

Yellowstone + Best Place to Stay + Stars + Good Nights Sleep + Spa

5. Sketching the Budget

Before you jump off this post because those search terms sound expensive (and, guess what, they are), let me offer you a few pieces of advice.

When you are planning a road trip, you have some flexibility. Use it to pivot your anchor places on off days, so if there is a really awesome place to stay – maybe try to hit it on a weekday when rates are lower.

Think about how much you’ll be driving that day and when you are departing the next day. If I am going to do a 15 hour leg, I splurge on a really good bed at a place I know is clean that has a farm to table breakfast or something of the sort. Those terms and those expectations are what landed me here on my way to Arizona. (PS: It’s heaven).

If you are departing early and don’t have the morning to max your time relaxing at breakfast, taking some laps in the pool and letting your kids burn some energy, then don’t splurge. Look for a more functional place with a good quality standard and helpful reviews. If you see a review that it was dirty, weird or questionable – I don’t care how many other good reviews I see, I don’t stay there. No. Freaking. Way. It’s just not worth not being able to sleep when you’re driving that much.

6. Giving Your Trip Purpose: A Mission Statement 

On our first trip, it was about a year after my divorce. I wanted to “see under the hood” of my kids by getting them on a different back drop. We did no phones or video games in the car. More on that in Planning the Drive. But my Trip to Love, was all about giving myself to them FULLY present and see how they were and stepping into any kind of faulty wiring that I noticed.

This year, the current name of the trip is “Witness the Lit-Ness” (named by my teenager). I am pretty sure this trip is all about us straight up kicking it. My kids and I strike our own chords wherever we go, so I’m pretty excited about this trip being rooted in being comfortable with yourself, willing to go on an adventure, and being kind to people we see and meet along the way.

Oh – but I also plan on teaching them some basic feminine, minimalist style tricks. More on that in a future post. Basically – I want to teach my kids how to wear no makeup, a white tee shirt and jeans like an Italian super model.

7. Planning the Drive

This is the best best best part of the trip to me. It encompasses the following:

Picking what you want your car to sound, smell and feel like. Our trip to AZ, we had audiobooks, whiteboards, crosswords, maps with stickers to mark new states. We had playlists and water bottles (limiting trash, always) and – of course – essential snacks. (More on that in a future post as well).

Planning mile markers. I spend months looking at my atlas before bed, praying about certain parts of our trip. I’ll look at one leg and find my mental increment (see #2) and then search all the towns off the interstate at that increment for “best tea” or “best breakfast” or “best coffee” or “best yoga” << where there is good yoga, there is usually good other things. Based on where I am in my drive, I may search for juiceries or college campuses. (<< PS: Student Centers can be GEMS with bowling, cool gear for your trip and used books!) Last trip, I used my atlas to look for things about 15 minutes off the interstate and found the Amarillo Museum of Art which was a) beautiful b) just a different type of place to stretch the legs and c) really great for about 20 vinyasas and some backbends before finishing the drive.

I also use mile markers to plan gifts for the girls. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I reach out to friends and family to write them notes, wrap up a little gift or whatever for them to open when we get to certain places in between our stops. This builds excitement. And, honestly? Last trip, I talked about the trip so much to people while shopping that even my local shops put things in bags for the girls – lotions, kleenexes, headbands. I mean, how cute is that? People are nice when you open the door.

Okay – so – now I am even more super pumped about our trip, Witness the Lit-Ness. I am strongly considering the budget for this trip. I am still on the fence about the vehicle I am going to drive on this trip. I am considering a camera. And I am thinking about how to include you all in this adventure. I mean.

Mt. Rushmore

Yellowstone

Sacramento

Lake Tahoe

San Francisco

Yosemite

Moab

Denver

Kansas City

Home.

You know you want to come along with us!

Talk to you later!

erin

PS — THIS IS THE BEST ATLAS