MEETING SUZY

“I’m really nervous about meeting new people.”

She said it first, before I had the chance. I had definitely been thinking it.

On the drive over, I went from turning the heat on to warm my cold hands, to cracking the windows to cool myself off. I was cold, but on the verge of sweating through my clothes.

This is typical Rachel behavior when it comes to meeting someone new. So imagine the relief when we’d just sat down to lunch and she told me she was nervous!

“That’s funny, because earlier today I was telling Dom about how this should be interesting because we’re both introverted, shy people,” I said.

Suzy and I are friends in the sense that we’ve known each other online for some time, and have emailed back and forth for a while now. But getting to meet someone in person who you built a friendship with online is uniquely special. You feel as though you know them, know their family and what gets them out of bed in the morning, but getting to see them with your own eyes, getting to wrap your arms around them in a warm hug … it just can’t be beat.

We ordered the same meal for lunch. I pulled toy cars out of my purse for her son to play with. She finished off my sweet potato fries when I couldn’t eat them all. We talked about writing, about parenting, about where we live and what we do for fun. And I thought, here’s a girl I could spend the day with and never get bored.

Suzy has a contagious smile. I swear that just being in close proximity to her made me feel happy and relaxed.

After lunch, she asked me to go on the search for donuts with her, which I would surely have done had I not had piles of work to do (oh, that’s right, I have a full-time job….). We said our goodbyes and off I went towards the parking garage.

And then I remembered I had wanted to take a photo of Suzy and I.

Damn.

I turned on my heels, heading for the monorail. Out the door, around the corner, up the humorously tall escalator … but they were gone.

I turned the radio off in the car on the way home, wanting to be alone with my thoughts.

For two shy, young women, we did pretty well for ourselves.

++

Go check out these photos she took of Vegas. I told her at lunch that she has encouraged me to go out and see more of this city that I have lived in for nearly six (!!) years.

THAT DECEMBER THING

Two thousand and sixteen.

Phew! You have been a doozy of a year.

I know it’s all so terribly obvious of me to be talking about 2016 just as we’ve tiptoed into the final days, but this is who I am. I play and replay everything over in my head, trying to make sense of it all, trying to figure out where I went wrong, and what I can do better next year.

Back when I was in my early twenties and oh so lost as to who I was and where I was going, I would talk to older women (forties, fifties) who all said that their thirties were some of their best times. Their kids weren’t babies anymore, they were married, settled… but most importantly, they knew who they were.

I know a lot more now, at 32, than I ever did at 21. Like that I can socialize as well as anyone else, but I have to balance it out with alone time. Like that karma is a real thing. Like that if I stop creating, stop writing, I’ll cease to be myself. Like that I can’t eat the way I used to. Like that sometimes capturing a photo of that perfect moment where you see yourself in your kid is all it takes to turn a day around.

2016 has been a tough year, but those are the years that teach us the most, aren’t they. The days push our boundaries, teach us just how far we can go. And I like to think we’re better off for it. We’ve become stronger, smarter versions of ourselves.

I want to be a stronger, smarter version of myself. The kind of woman who is more patient and kind, who picks up her camera more and stays off her phone. The kind of woman who is engaged. The kind of woman who isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants. The kind of woman who enjoys the middle of things, not just the beginning or end. The kind of woman who isn’t constantly comparing herself to everyone else. The kind of woman who writes about her life, the real, the right now, instead of just fiction.

The kind of woman who knows she is not less than.

She is simply doing the best she can.

MY IDEAL MORNING

It begins with coffee, always.

Well, I suppose before there can be coffee, there has to be the act of waking, of climbing out of bed and trudging down the stairs. In a perfect world, this would be done before my toddler is awake, so that I can enjoy the quiet darkness before the day truly begins.

I would make a coffee, sit on the couch and open a book… whatever I happen to be reading. I would read for twenty minutes, and then, with likely a lukewarm half cup of coffee, head into the office to write.

I would write, and write… and write.

And then my son would wake up, and together he and my husband would come downstairs, wiping sleep from their eyes, requesting breakfast. We would eat together as a family, this perfect little family of three, just the way it’s meant to be.

There would be a second cup of coffee, because, #addicted, and then — because it’s my ideal morning (and therefore not necessarily reality) — I would go for a walk around the neighborhood because it’s the perfect temperature out and my iPhone is shuffling through the perfect mix of music to keep me going.

And then, a warm shower, the application of mascara and blush, and kisses for my boys as they head off for their day.

Earl Grey Tea, 40k and Envy, Among Other Things

I haven’t blogged in a long time, but I’m sitting here in this surprisingly empty coffee shop with a steaming cup of earl grey tea and earphones in to block out the bad choice of music, and it seems like the perfect time to catch you up on what’s going on.

I spent a lot of time home alone with my troublesome three-year-old this weekend while my husband was out showing houses, so this break of mine — these couple hours that I can call my own — feel like a breath of fresh air.

I know I have this annoying habit of being negative more often than not (which I’m working on every day, believe me). but here’s the truth for ya.

Life is kind of insanely difficult right now.

Between my full-time job and writing I am busier than ever. Dom is even busier than I am. And my kid… well, lets just say that if I had known what three would be like, I wouldn’t have been complaining about two.  Most days I’m fighting just to keep my head above water.

And to not drink all the wine.

I’ve been struggling with writing How To Be Someone Else lately. I’ve hit that oh-so-difficult part where you’ve written the thick of it, and you know the ending, but there’s that section in the middle that just doesn’t want to be written. Despite my best attempts I keep writing and re-writing. Typing and deleting, though I know I shouldn’t be. I keep trying to remind myself that this first draft just needs to be written, and I can worry about the rest later. But goodness… it’s not coming easily these days.

I hit the first goal I set for myself — which was to hit 40k by June 10 (I hit it on the 6th) — and I’ve set myself a new goal of 50k by the end of the month. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but with how much I’ve been struggling lately, I’m not sure it will happen. But, I keep trudging along.

I had a late lunch with a new friend on Friday and she asked me how my writing was going. It definitely hurt to tell her that it wasn’t going well. Admitting it to myself is one thing, but having to say it out loud is a whole new ball game.

Fortunately it wasn’t anything that a purchase at Lululemon couldn’t solve. #kiddingbutnotreallythough

This past week we had one of our biggest authors in town. I spent a lot of time with him, his wife and my boss, talking about everything from writing to the Vietnam war, to the sad state of people these days. For the most part,  I’m a quiet, reserved person, but when we get on the topic of people doing shitty things and being shitty people, I get really worked up. I felt like my Italian husband, waving my arms in wide circles while I rattled on (seriously, Italians know how to use their hands in conversation).

I guess the timing of this is pretty shitty, considering what just happened in Orlando, but I’ve always been so disappointed/horrified/embarrassed/ashamed of all the horrific events that happen in this country. Honestly, anytime stuff like this goes down I miss Canada more and more. I could talk about it for hours on end, but suffice it to say, there are some really awful people out there in the world.

I attended a high school graduation party last night and ended up speaking with three recent graduates about what they want to do with their lives (god, how much do I hate that term!) and I was absolutely blown away by their thoughtful responses. If I think back to when I was 18 and fresh out of high school, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I’d only known — like I’ve always known — that I wanted to do something creative. Totally vague, right?

Anyway, these girls blew me away. I sat across from them, my legs crossed, enraptured in their stories. And I was envious, did I mention that? What I wouldn’t give to go back to 18 and do things differently. And I wasn’t just envious… I was full on jealous. That is until they told me they thought I was 27 or 28… then I just loved them. Screw envy, jealously… it ruins everything.

So I guess that about catches you up with what’s been going on with me lately. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get back to my earl grey tea and see if I can’t make a dent in the last 9k of #HTBSE.

THE LIFE OF AN AUTHOR WITH A FULL-TIME JOB + A THREE-YEAR-OLD

Writing a book is hard work. Writing a book while working and parenting full-time is even harder.

Here’s a little glimpse at how most of my (work) days go.

5AM — Open my eyes (usually on my own… no alarm necessary) and try to wake up. Get out of bed, pour myself some warm water with lemon, and settle down in the dark family room to write.

5:45-6:15AM — Some time during this time, my three year old wakes up. Since my husband has already left for work, I’m on my own with getting him breakfast, changed and off to daycare.

8:15AM — Back from daycare drop-off and my work day begins. I work from home and usually eat lunch at my desk. Sometimes, if I need a break, I will take my laptop into the backyard and write for a few minutes.

4:15PM — My husband picks up our son from daycare and they immediately head out into the backyard to play while I try to write.

5:30PM — I start on dinner and we all eat together. After dinner we spend time playing.

7:00PM — Our son goes into the bath. Usually my husband does this while I tidy up downstairs. Maybe once a week, I head off to a coffee shop to get some writing done, though this hasn’t been happening as of late…

7:45PM — I watch an episode of Handy Manny on the iPad with my son in his bed and then it’s lights out.

8:00PM — If the hubby is up for it, we watch an episode of whatever TV show we’re binge watching at the time. If he’s out, or not interested, I will start writing.

9:00PM — If I’m not too tired, I try to write.

9:30 – 10:00PM — I am not a night owl, so usually by now I’m asleep, hoping for more time tomorrow to write.

And there you have it: the life of an author with a full-time job and a three-year-old.

TELL ME: WHAT DOES YOUR DAY LOOK LIKE?

Oh Hey

I’ve been blogging here and there — yes — but not really about anything too personal. I haven’t really even been saying much over on instagram either. The truth is that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking — and a lot of time writing in my journal — about what I really want my life to look like.

I have this bad habit of being pessimistic about most things. I laugh about it now, but I used to always say ‘I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist’, which was really just an excuse for me to think negatively about something. Well, I’m tired of it, I really am. It’s exhausting and it’s taking away from my life.

I’ve been listening (and devouring) everything having to do with Pimpin’ Joy week on the Bobby Bones show and they had said something weeks ago that really stuck with me. It sounds simple — maybe too simple — but maybe that’s why I like it so much.

Every day is a good day.

I’m going to repeat that.

Every day is a good day.

If my writing isn’t flowing the way I want it to and I’m feeling defeated, I’m shaking it off and saying, out loud, every day is a good day. If Dom comes home from a frustrating day of work and I begin to feel his attitude rubbing off on me, I’m stopping and saying, out loud, every day is a good day. On those mornings that DJ wakes upset at 5:20am and I’m exhausted because I didn’t sleep well, I’m rubbing the sleep from my eyes and saying, out loud, every day is a good day.

It might end up being an incredible day, or maybe a difficult one, but I’m working on beginning my days with just a little more joy. With just a little more positivity. Because this one life that I’ve been given is incredible, and I don’t want to spend another day thinking otherwise.

My Must-Get-Around-to-Doing-That-Soon List

I’m that person that turns to my husband over dinner and says “next date night lets try that new Thai place around the corner.”

And then we don’t.

I’m that person who always picks up the black or grey sweater. Do any other options exist?

I’m that person who says, “yeah I want to go back there someday with someone I actually like” (New York) and “I really want to see [that show] again” (Mystère).

And then I don’t.

It gets tiring after a while, you know? And maybe it’s the new year fast approaching (it’s definitely the new year fast approaching) but I’ve been thinking about all those things I say I’ll do, but don’t. And, well, these are some of those things that I’m going to try my hardest to do soon.

My Must-Get-Around-to-Doing-That-Soon List

Book (and take) that vacation to Mexico for our fifth anniversary next year
Read more classics
Stop comparing myself to others
Publish my second book
Quarterly organization of DJ’s closet
Buy a new journal for 2016 (preferably before 2016 begins)
Try one new restaurant each month for date night
Go back to Bardot for the beet and goat cheese salad
Host a wine and cheese party
Try one of those wine and paint places
Spend a Christmas in Canada
Stop comparing myself to others
Give up caffeine for a month
Give up alcohol for a month
Be more patient
Finish reading The Most of Nora Ephron
Have updated family photos taken
Do something wildly out of my comfort zone

Currently (October)

Outside:  we’re finally turning the page on all this triple digit weather and I couldn’t be happier. While summer does bring about a feeling of freedom that you don’t experience at any other time, I also find the season stifling. I’m ready for fall. My favorite. I’ve already started sorting through my sweaters and trying to decide what else – if anything – I need for the upcoming season.

Inside:  I’m filling all the spaces with books and words and love and memories.

Hoping:   that people will continue to read my novella and find even an ounce of comfort in it, be intrigued by it, or simply enjoy it. As Ksenia Anske said, “Are you willing to strip in public? Are you willing to show all that you are and were and will be? Because your books are your guts on paper, nothing more.” I know what she means.

Wanting:   more time. To do it all. To read and write and play with my son and relax with my husband. I’m busier than I can ever remember being and it is beginning to weigh on me. I don’t fall asleep as quickly as I used to and I wake with a swarm of thoughts in my head that won’t leave me alone until I climb out of bed in the darkness.

Eating:   so little. With the business and stress comes a decreased appetite. It always happens.

Listening:   to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new podcast, Magic Lessons, which continues to fill up my tank with each and every episode. It’s well worth a listen.

Remembering:   the sense of calm that washed over me as I got off the plane in Nashville last week. Surrounded by greenery and music and newness… I felt more alive than I had in months.

Writing:   Fixing Tanner, the sequel to Finding Lily. This one has been moving slower, taking its time. But I’m feeling okay about that as I can already feel myself growing and learning as a writer. Finding Lily was my baby, but this one… this book has my heart.

This is: September (a video)

You can always count on me to take a photograph. I’ll take thirty if you let me.

But lately, I have felt a tugging at my bones to try something new, and to open myself up in a different way. This is: my attempt at a beginning. This is: September.

Do you have a morning routine?

I’ve always been a morning person. BC (before child) I could basically make my mornings look however I wanted them to, but with a two year old running around, I have to be more deliberate with how I spend my time. These days my mornings usually look a little something like this: I set my alarm for 5am and lay in bed for a few minutes to brush off the sleep and wake up. I’ll pad downstairs and make myself a cup of coffee or tea and then sit down to write until my son wakes up anytime between 6:15 and 6:45am.

In order to start my day off on the right foot, it’s so important that I get a slow and quiet start to my mornings, because from the moment my son gets up until I go to bed at night I am go go go with mothering, work, meal preparations, cleaning, personal projects and time with my husband. I find that the days that my morning coffee and a read/writing are cut short, I’m less patient and just all around unfocused.

So that’s my simple morning routine. What’s yours like?