an unintentional summer hiatus

Hello, everyone! I hope you are savoring these final days of summer. I did not intend to disappear from the blog for three months… but sometimes life gets in the way and I’ve learned to roll with it!

However, I have missed this writing space and time with all of you each week{ish}. I’ve found that taking some time each week to reflect on my life and memories through blogging is a really special way to connect with myself, too. And I’ve missed it! I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things over these next few weeks. BUT I hope you’ll give me grace if I disappear again, because right now my schedule feels very up-and-down day-to-day… because, as you might have seen on Instagram, I’m pregnant!!

We are expecting our rainbow baby girl on November 30, just in time for the holidays! We are both so incredibly excited, and I have to pinch myself all the time that this is REALLY happening. I am overflowing with gratitude that we get to be the parents of this special little one who is growing bigger and stronger every day inside me. I have dealt with a fair share of anxiety throughout this pregnancy, which I am planning to do a whole separate post about. But suffice to say, everything is going well and I am feeling good as I prepare to enter my third trimester.

Time has stretched and compressed in such weird ways during pregnancy. In many aspects, it feels like I have been pregnant FOR.EV.ER — so much has happened since I took that positive test back in March! — but at the same time, it is absolutely crazy to think that we will be parents to newborn baby in a mere 13 weeks.

Parenthood by far is the largest change on the horizon, but 2018 has been filled with many other changes and areas of growth too — which is one reason I took an unintentional hiatus from blogging these past few months! Professionally, I am really excited about the direction my career is going. I still love teaching kids, but when I began thinking about balancing my career with motherhood, I realized that driving all around the Bay Area for hour-long in-person lessons was not going to be feasible if I wanted to stay at home with my baby. I wanted something I could do online, from my home office, without having to commute. I also felt a yearning to try something new, to stretch, to push myself out of my comfort zone.

So, back in April, I took a leap. Allyn was incredibly supportive of making an investment in my learning and career, and so I enrolled in a 10-week online “business boot camp” program called Permission to Charge. {I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to start or grow their own coaching-style business!} I learned all about creating a viable online business where I can serve others from my place of passion and expertise. I have been unofficially serving as a writing coach, editor and mentor for years… now it is extremely energizing to turn this into a structured program. In June, I officially launched my 90-Day Book Breakthrough Program to help people give birth to the books that are burning inside them… in just 90 days! You can learn all about it here, and you can also watch a free 45-minute webinar I created here that delves into my 5 steps to stop procrastinating and FINALLY write your book!

Currently, I am working with a handful of clients who are making such amazing progress on their book projects. It lights up my soul to be part of their journeys to becoming authors. I only take on clients whose projects I resonate with and who have a powerful message they are inspired to share with the world. Getting to help them do so is incredibly rewarding. I love watching them shine, and I am learning so much from reading their marvelous books-in-progress!

The timing was also serendipitous with this new business venture because I have a few risk factors in this pregnancy — namely, preeclampsia & preterm labor — so I have been required to really s l o wĀ  d o w nĀ  and cut back on my work a lot. This definitely goes against my natural instincts and was difficult at first, but I keep reminding myself that taking care of this baby is the most important thing, and to do that I need to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. So I take naps, rest throughout the day, and listen to my body above all else.

While starting a new business might seem like piling extra onto my plate, actually the number of hours I work has decreased drastically. I have stopped all of my in-person teaching {no long commuting and rushing all around town for appointments takes a huge load of stress off my daily routine!} and I only work with a handful of my best online students. I am also getting better at delegating and saying no with grace, and I am learning how to automate different systems so I am better able to plan ahead.

What else have I been up to these past few months?

  • In June we traveled to San Diego for my cousin’s wedding, which was a blast; and in July we headed to Santa Barbara for another cousin’s wedding, which was beautiful.
  • I spent about two weeks home with my parents in Ventura, where my mom and honorary aunt Alicia threw me an amazing baby shower, and I also taught my eleventh annual {!!!} Summer Writing Camp for kids and teens.
  • I had a book signing event at my favorite indie bookstore, Mrs. Figs’ Bookworm, to celebrate Woman, Running Late, in a Dress — it is so wonderful to hear from people who have read and enjoyed the book.
  • Allyn and I took a relaxing trip to Lake Tahoe with his family, and we’re heading off on another local getaway this weekend to celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary — which is doubling as a “babymoon”! I can’t wait.
  • My mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw us an incredible co-ed baby shower last weekend up here in the Bay Area. Baby Mac is already so loved, and I feel so grateful for the community of support we have surrounding us.
  • The rest of the summer has been spent soaking up time with friends, soaking up time as a couple, and preparing to become parents as best we can!

I think that about brings us up to date, and hopefully explains why I’ve been MIA the past three months. I’d love to hear the highlights of your summer, and what you’re looking forward to the rest of this year!

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and “free-write” on the following questions:

  • What have been your favorite parts of this summer? Make a list of everything you have done — you might be surprised how long it is!
  • Have you ever taken a leap into a new venture, even if it scared you a little? Write about the experience, what you learned, and how you grew from it.
  • How do you slow down and take a step back from work commitments and obligations? What are your favorite ways to de-stress and center yourself?

saying goodbye to our apartment

For the past two years, Allyn and I have lived in a one-bedroom apartment. I can still vividly remember the day we signed the lease and got the keys and unlocked the front door for the first time, stepping across the threshold like we were venturing into a bright new future.

Our new apartment was small, but to us it seemed like a castle. It was our very own home — a home we would build together. I can remember how excited I was at the idea of regular, everyday life with my sweetheart: unloading groceries in our fridge, cooking dinner in our kitchen, snuggling up together on our couch to watch a movie on a Saturday night {never mind that, when we first moved in, we did not yet have a couch.} All of those everyday-life couple-y things seemed, to me, like miracles. Like gold. Up to that point, our everyday routine meant juggling our lives and our schedules between his place and mine — which wasn’t even really “my” place, as I was living with my grandparents. We drove forty minutes to see each other for date nights and felt lucky to get two days in a row with each other. I treasured the weekends, when I could wake up to his sleepy smile.

Now, I get to wake up to his sleepy smile every day and fall asleep to his arms around me every night. I do my best to remember what it was like before I had this gift. I do my best to treasure it and treat it like the gold it is.

I remember leaving my grandparents’ house on the morning of Moving Day, feeling revved up as I climbed into my packed-up car. I was sad to say goodbye to my grandparents, even though I was so excited to be moving in with Allyn, and even though I knew I could come back and visit anytime. I always get sad at goodbyes, even when they are good goodbyes. My new apartment was only half an hour away, but I felt like I was driving across space-time as I navigated the two-lane canyon road from my old town to my new town. It was a sunny day, a perfect fresh beginning. Rarely in life do we have such clean-cut new chapters, but this was one of mine.

Moving Day was more of an ordeal than I expected it to be. How did we get so much stuff? The movers kept unloading boxes and unloading more boxes. Allyn’s mom and sister came to help, and I remember looking around our new living room crammed with Jenga towers of boxes, feeling overwhelmed yet also thrilled. It was real! It was happening! That first day, we focused on the important things: making the bed, getting our Internet and cable up and running, unpacking our new dishes in the kitchen. Allyson thoughtfully brought us toilet paper and paper towels. I remember scurrying around from room to room, thinking, Our kitchen! Our bathroom! Our bedroom! Our balcony!

That night, we celebrated with Mexican food. Then Allyn and I made the first of many Target runs to get essentials we had forgotten about: trash cans, a dish rack, hooks to hang our towels in the bathroom. That night, falling asleep together in our not-yet-familiar bedroom, listening to the new sounds of our fridge humming and our neighbors shifting the floorboards, I made a wish that this new chapter would be everything I hoped it to be, and more.

As excited as I was to move in with my sweetheart, I was also a little nervous. I knew from past experience that this was the make-it-or-break-it time of a relationship. This was where you truly got to know each other’s earthy roots and tangled messes, quirky annoyances and stubbled shadows. Previously, I had made a promise to myself that I would never again get engaged without living with the person first. When you live together, you can’t hide from each other. I was pretty sure that Allyn wasn’t hiding anything from me — that I knew him as well as I thought I did — and yet, I kept thinking of my ex, whose anger issues only emerged when we moved in together and he began to fully relax into himself around me. Of course, I wanted Allyn to be his full self around me, just as I was my full self around him. But I hoped that would still be the sweet, kind, and gentle man that I had fallen in love with.

Also, I hoped that I didn’t have any annoying habits that would make him stop loving me.

I clearly remember waking up that first morning in our new apartment, buzzing with energy about all of the clear-cut tasks before us: boxes waiting for us to unpack them, drawers and shelves waiting to be filled. Allyn used our new kettle to boil water for coffee and tea. We didn’t yet have a couch so we set up two camping chairs and sat in them as we ate our cereal out of bowls. The sun shone brightly through our new windows. There was such a sweet simplicity to our new life together. It almost felt like we were on vacation. Playing house. I wondered when it would sink in, when it would feel truly real.

It was only a couple weeks later that we went away to the Russian River together to celebrate our two-year dating anniversary, and Allyn got down on one knee and asked me to live with him forever. By that time, our new apartment already felt like home and our new life together already felt solid and stable and ours. I was not worried anymore that some secret part of him would emerge out of the shadows. I knew him, really knew him — in truth I always had, from our very first date. Allyn has this beautiful open-heartedness, this authentic spirit, that I trusted immediately. He had never been anything other than himself. We had only been living together for a couple weeks, yet I knew all that I needed to know. I said, “Yes!” with tears streaming down my face and pure joy filling my heart. Already, we were entering into another brand new chapter together.

In the past two years, I have indeed learned some quirks about my sweetie… that have only made me love him more. For dessert, he eats sour gummy candy out of a giant zip-lock bag like a twelve-year-old. He gets flustered when the dishwasher is only half-full and feels like there is no more room to put any dishes. He always hangs his towel up right away; hums when he is getting ready in the morning; always cuts food on the cutting board, never on a plate. We have an ongoing debate about the merits of the ice-cream scooper. {I believe it is perfectly acceptable to use a regular spoon to scoop ice cream from the carton; Allyn believes the spoon will get bent and insists on the scooper.} He is the sweetest and most attentive plant-waterer I could imagine.

This little apartment has been the perfect home for us in this season of life. It is crazy to think of how much has changed since we first moved here. In this cozy little apartment, we’ve woven our lives and dreams together. We put together a bookshelf and put up shelving and hung pictures. We planned our perfect-for-us wedding and celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. We helped each other through career ups-and-downs, holding hands through the uncertainties and uncorking the Martinelli’s when Allyn got his full-time job working in the environmental department of the City of San Jose, and when I learned that my collection of short stories is going to be published. We fed friends around the dinner table and baked birthday cakes and even, at the last minute, hosted this past Christmas dinner {I wasn’t strong enough post-surgery to go anywhere else, so the meal & the people came to me!} Inside these walls, we have cuddled and talked and argued and laughed and loved each other through it all. In short, this apartment has been the sacred space where we have grown from two people into two roommates into one family.

We will be sad to leave this apartment. But also, we are ready. I remember, in first grade, reading a picture book about a hermit crab who outgrew his shell. He looked and looked and eventually found a new shell, which he decorated and made into his own. Then, a little while later, he outgrew that one too. It was time to move on and find his next-bigger shell. I think of that hermit crab, and he reminds me not to give into my resistance to change. That we need to let go of the shells we have outgrown, or else we will stop growing. That we can say goodbye to our cramped, too-small shells with love and gratitude in our hearts. That stepping forward into the next chapter of our lives does not mean that we will forget the chapters that came before.

Allyn and I are ready to live in our own home, with a yard and a guest bedroom and no shared walls with neighbors. As much as I love my little writing corner currently wedged in between the TV and the sliding glass door to our balcony, and as nice as it is to be steps away from the kitchen and bathroom throughout my workday, I am looking forward to having “a room of one’s own” — an office of my own that is not part of our living room space. Perhaps most of all, we are excited to move closer to Allyn’s work, shortening his long daily commute by an hour a day! It will be such a gift to have him home earlier each evening.

So we find ourselves circling back to the beginning. Our apartment is once again filled up with Jenga towers of boxes. We are once again preparing to step across the threshold into a bright future, with hope in our hearts that our new home will be filled with tenderness and grace, beautiful dreams and lovely surprises, new learning and growth.

At the end of Eric Carle’sĀ A House for Hermit Crab, the hermit crab leaves his too-small shell in search of a new home:

The ocean floor looked wider than he had remembered, but Hermit Crab wasn’t afraid. Soon, he spied the perfect house–a big, empty shell. It looked, well, a little plain, but…

“Sponges!” he thought. “Barnacles! Clown fish! Sand dollars! Electric eels! Oh, there are so many possibilities! I can’t wait to get started!”

Goodbye, sweet apartment. Thank you for holding us, for shaping us, for bearing witness to our lives these past two years.

Hello, new house. We can’t wait to get started.

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and use these questions as inspiration for some “free-writing”:

  • Write about a home that has meant a lot to you. What memories did you make there? What did you learn while living there–about yourself, about your relationship, about other people?
  • Do you embrace change, or avoid change? Why do you think you feel this way about change? What are some changes in your life you have faced? Did they turn out the way you expected?
  • Imagine unpacking a box from your childhood bedroom. What are some items you would unpack? What would those items mean to you now, in your present life?