Play Time

February 21, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what play time looks like at 37. Mondo is really responsible for that because it really hasn’t been on the fore front of my mind. Yes, I like to have fun but I wasn’t carving out any specific time for it in my life. Which I think is a mistake. I could see how easily the ability to play could slip away with responsibilities, commitments and reacting to what life in general is handing out. Now that I want to go play I find myself looking around wondering the hell to do.

Let me clarify that I am not talking about playing with Seven; from treks to parks, museums, the zoo, the ice cream shop with ridiculously good stuff. That’s all going on ten fold. But I’m referring to the kind of play where I’m marveling at new things around me, am overloaded with energy and feel it both mentally and physically and feeling well just a little less responsible. For example, a guy who is probably 40 just skate boarded down the street out my front window. I imagine him skating to brunch with friends, a New York Times under his arm on his way to a tasty cocktail, complete with heated conversations about world politics and fashion. That’s play. I read about my lovely friends making gorgeous things out of scraps, taking pictures of toes in the sand and riding their bike to work and finding secret messages in graffiti. That’s play.

Please let me say I realize this is not under any circumstance a personal crisis. I am not asking for sympathy here. But perhaps suggestions on how you got to that playing point in life? Whether it be never losing it from your youth or finding it again. I’d love to hear.

For now, I am in a retrospective space thinking about times when I felt most playful. Because being ridiculous and playing are synonymous to me and I have been all kinds of ridiculous.

Like when I was seven months pregnant and went dressed as Nicole Richie for Halloween. (no I don’t smoke) I didn’t care that 4 people got it, it was hilarious.

Or when I took this picture right before I had Seven and then made it into a CD cover of a mix I made for the other mama’s I ran the Ragnar relay with last November. I took the picture because I had gone from being an A minus  my entire life to that and was like hell I better catch those things on film. It was also a time I felt so good about being pregnant and was embracing my big baby-carrying body. The relay was made of 12 mama’s over 30 and we raced across the state of Florida from the Gulf coast to the Atlantic. It was something like 28 hours of racing and no sleep was not involved. That would have been play if I had not still been insanely depressed when I was doing it. But  that’s another post, this one is about finding the person who took that picture and later the person that made it into that ridiculous cd cover.

Tyler and I used to play a lot more too. Life’s busy and it seems that we lost some of that along the way. I’ve always taken the lead on things like that, so I feel most of it is up to me. Which is great in some ways but when I am tired and feeling slightly overwhelmed makes me a little aggravated to. I used to send him ridiculous letters at work that I knew would make him have to shut his office door because of their outrageousness. Or we would dance ourselves silly, and we’d have so much fun with our sweaty selves. That was play.

We’d go out with friends and I’d wear a cocktail dress with silver tennis shoes on a Tuesday in Paris. Because I could. You know where the four of us went out that night?  The Crazy Horse. (google it) Big time play!

This picture was when we were in Cinque Terre. We hiked Roman paths from one to the next, we swam, we saw lemons the size of our head, we drank wine.  We had amazing conversations with people where neither of us spoke each other’s language. Tyler took this picture there. And you know what? I want to find that girl. I mean to me it says it all.

Oh wait I forgot about this one. This was right before I got pregnant with Seven on a girls trip to Jamaica. This one kind of says it all too. That’s me in the air.

Shit, I want to find all these fun versions of myself. Whether it’s jumping off, arms wide open, in a did you really wear those things together outfit or relishing in the unexpected. I know she’s in there and I think perhaps ready to hear that recess bell again.

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Where to next?

February 16, 2010

That’s what I am asking myself on all sorts of fronts right now. Where to next with this blog? Where to with my list of dreams? Where to with my new found friendships? After spending almost 2 years in  a constant circle it feels exciting, scary, freeing to be going in a direction. An actual road in front of me that I partially control but really large parts of it are really me just being pulled. A strong yank that doesn’t hurt but that is definitely present. You know the kind when you were a kid and your friend grabbed your hand and you both took off in a zig zag direction, laughing the whole way?  Something like that.

I must admit that this Mondo experience has put me in such an interesting spot. It is the art of taking our dreams and applying that to  how we live our lives every day. Sounds amazing right? But you know, it is also work. I am not afraid of work. I just feel a bit hesitant as I try to foster this new method in my thinking. To be honest, it would be easy to ride the high wave of the 5 week class and then slowly roll back to the way things were before. Setting goals, claiming to be happy when those goals are met but then already having a new goal in place by the time I reach it that there is never room for a celebration for what just happened. Let alone ever taking a moment to just enjoy the journey or even the uneventful day along the way.  Yet there is such an internal pull in my gut to not let that happen. Why would I intentionally short change celebrations, playing, being present and spreading my arms wide open to this thing called life? For lack of a better word that would be stupid.

My new friends. Wow. Where to start with this one. After I had Seven I was so determined to not become classified as a mom. I don’t know why but I have always hated being categorized by ANYTHING. I love being a mother, it’s not that, it’s just I didn’t want people to associate anything about me because I was one. So on the one hand this made me feel very independent of it all but without knowing I had also become very, very lonely. The whole transition of before baby and after baby has been really complicated for me. I didn’t relate to friends who had kids because I was resisting it and my friends who didn’t have kids, well what did they understand now? I mean I still have been social and maintained relationships but there has been a void and I had no idea how big it had gotten. What made me aware of this was Mondo.

Outside of the assigned exercises completely, it is the gift of  the women I have become closest to. Each has small children and we started out by identifying with each other because of the way we wrote, the dreams we shared. The being a mom part is a thing we share, that at least for me, has taken it a whole other level. It is like we just know certain things about each other without them being said. There is this bond I feel where words come at the perfect time that make me laugh out loud or cry tears from feeling completely understood when I don’t 100% understand. They give me this strong desire to memorize their dream list and facilitate it in any way I can- big or small.

So where to next. This crazy, cobble stoned, curvy road in front of me. It has me feeling raw and exposed and so, so, so up for the challenge. The choices I make, remaining present, allowing things to just be, being ridiculously loyal to myself. All of this in good faith of wanting to be the biggest person possible, a mama that shows Seven the whole big world, a wife that loves from living it….it’s what I’ve got to do. I think this blog will be my journal, my map.

What I’ve Learned….Learning

February 11, 2010

That what I have been doing wasn’t working.

The inner critic is not my intuition.

That by simply placing things out into the world really can make things happen.

That lists are the shit. (in a good way)

That my dreams are bigger than me.

That I am something that needs to be taken care of- by me first.

That  my heart and brain need to be fed in many ways-from random acts of giving to my work to my family to the unexpected.

That learning feels good.

A community is good for me.

That nothing beats being present.

That getting outside of myself & shifting my focus is a very necessary thing.

That I have met some amazing people here.

That I have new friendships in California, Australia and Jamaica.

My excitement & hope for my new capacity at being a dreaming mama.

To not take myself so seriously and relearn how to really play.

That some days are about feathers and making double chocolate bacon cupcakes.

Clearing…warning a bit on the rambling side

February 5, 2010

When I originally read the post about clearing something out to make room for something else; some things immediately came to mind and I jumped on them. I cleaned out closets and organized personal and professional spaces. I even had a couple of conversations that I knew in the back of my mind I had avoided. It felt good. It also felt like I was done for the immediate moment. Turns out as I was a little premature.

This week has been flatter for me than the weeks past in Mondo. Seven is sick with a double ear infection. He only wants ME and I love him more than anything but if I can’t 10 minutes to myself I might lose it.  I have fought something all week too. Not to mention more rainy and grey days and one legitimate workout. Not all adding up to happiness in my world.

But today Seven is back up to speed and this is a normal work day for me. I took him to nanny share and proceeded to drive home and go back to bed. I felt like serious crap. Meds kicked in, started to feel better. I decided to take the day and not check emails a bunch, not work on Mondo, just be. Then I started thinking about my brother in the other room. The 24-year-old who I talked into moving here from L.A. after a year of being seriously unhappy. (he had been out of college for a year)

Come to Atlanta! There is tv here, there are movies made here, a music and art scene. Just on a smaller scale than L.A. Go back when you have some more experience and a plan I told him. So he moved here. It’s been 6 months.

Anyhow, back to the kid who is sleeping in our house at noon, waiting tables somewhere he hates and missing his girlfriend. I decide I will make him happy today. I popped my head in his room, ask him if he wants to join me for lunch and then let’s be complete drop-outs together and go see a movie in the middle of the afternoon. But as I was saying it, I knew it didn’t feel true. I started to feel there was another clearing I had to make.

At lunch while I gently talked to him about his plan and what else he would like to do; I didn’t get much of a response. I have given him so many leads and talked to people on his behalf and it just hasn’t lined up yet. Yes I got him a job from day one at a friend’s bar, I also helped him get a DJ gig or two but nothing that has completely stuck. And you know what? I feel so responsible for that. I feel like I failed him.

But now going through these exercises in Mondo; I know in my gut that this cannot be true. Me letting him down.  I can’t have failed him by giving food and shelter and a job and a place to kick around ideas. Right? Why does this realization hurt so much though? How I do “clear” someone who I love tremendously and still help him in any way I can but at the same time not cripple myself?

UPDATE!

Okay not even a couple of hours after I had this thought and cried and attempted to clear; you know what happened? My brother met me in the kitchen and told me he was moving back to L.A. He had a plan, he has a project and he is excited. I could tell he was nervous to tell me but I have nothing but joy for him. Will I miss him ridiculously? Of course. But I can’t believe that I put this out there for me and for him…and look what happened. It’s beyond amazing.

Walking the Walk

February 4, 2010

So I set out to Mitzvah after reading the post. Wondering what I could create and what would present itself.

The first one happened on my way into Target when I noticed a man going through the trash looking into coffee cups. Seven and I walked up and asked him if we could buy him a cup of coffee inside. He obliged. We introduced ourselves, shook hands and he said a large black coffee would be perfect for him. Snack? No thank you. We left him sitting in the sunshine with a big grin on his face. Such a nice way for the three of us to start the day.

Over the weekend Seven turned two so we used the occasion to throw him a party and ourselves an open house for our new home. It felt good to make things from scratch, heading to the farmer’s market for super fresh ingredients, drumming up crowd pleasers. Both for kids and adults. There was a candy  and salty bar, cake pops, an Elmo bean bag toss that Tyler made and homemade margaritas. It was loud, it was fun, there was tons of laughter. I am not sure who was giving or receiving the mitzvah’s; it seemed to be just bouncing off the walls all day.

Some pics of before the peeps arriving!

Our friends were more than generous with the bottles of wine for us and treats for Seven. The morning after the party we put together 2 big bags of gently used toys and any new duplicates along with clothes and we put them in the back of my car. I wasn’t immediately sure where I wanted to take them.  Then when I was out running I remembered old neighbors who had lots of kids in and out and not much else. We will be making a delivery to them tomorrow!

Last night I had my Lady Rogue board meeting. We had so much gifted wine, I decide to make some gift tags and bring each woman a bottle of wine for V day. It felt fantastic!

I had wanted to come up with a fun and different idea for Stories of Gen for Valentine’s Day. I was planning on sending something out to customers and partners etc but thought why not send something that each person might be able to give to someone else? Perhaps make their day with a treat in the mail and take it a step further and let them make someone else’s?

Handmade paper, heart cutter, tiny envelopes, red cards, and craft envelopes to send all of it in.  Each person will receive a note from me and then a smaller envelope with three hearts inside to do as they see fit.

Another thing I have worked on, is an assignment to guest write for a blog and give some Valentine ideas. Everyone I selected to feature was independent, green and mainly found on Etsy. I only know one of them personally and excited for each of them to see the piece! It will be great exposure for them!!

I included a lot of pictures with this post because I wanted  to share what I have been “thinking up”. I am having so much fun with this assignment. It is interesting how many layers of  mitzvah’ing cross my path as I have become more conscious of it thru Mondo. It feels amazing to volunteer generosity.

Mitzvah’ing in 2010

February 1, 2010

This assignment reminded of something that happened not that long ago. It was a Saturday morning and I was driving to the gym by myself. I was coming down this big hill when I saw this guy running as fast as he could up it. So fast on a city street that it caught my attention. I looked in my rearview mirror to see what he was doing and almost out of eye shot I saw a bus further up the hill he was sprinting on. I kept driving.

Then it clicked that the guy is dressed all in black. Oh I thought, he is trying to get to work. I also knew he was never going to catch that bus. Then in almost  some kind of auto pilot mode; I turned the car around and went to find him. I pulled up and asked him if he needed a ride. He told me he was trying to catch the bus, to get to the train, to get to the first day at his new job. Hop in I told him and I will take you to the train station. It felt 100% right to do so. Was I pretty sure this story would aggravate the hell out of Tyler? (and my mother too) Yes most definitely. But my gut and my head were yelling at me to turn around and help.

This got me to thinking. In this time of having to be or just choosing to be super careful & cautious; how do Mitzvah’s play out? Are they played out less? Maybe saved for our own inner circles? I don’t know. I am also not suggesting what is right or wrong.  Just curious. I mean my gut has never told me to pick up a hitch hiker. I think I have Hollywood movies to thank for that. But you know what I mean. Helping a complete stranger because your intuition told you to. This exercise was good to get back in touch with that.

Yes!

January 28, 2010

So the assignment yesterday of going through the list and figuring out what was me and what was the universe… I don’t know but I wasn’t really feeling it. I kind of felt like enough of the list already! Can’t it just sit and rest for a minute? And I didn’t feel like dissecting it again. But just like other assignments that didn’t resonate with me immediately I went ahead and went through the process. And of course I was glad I did.

The part of “what can I do today?”- well I was stumped. Let’s see…. I am home with Seven, he’s running around like a crazy man and I’m behind on work projects. Sure, let me stop for a minute and make a dream come true.  So I waited until he took a nap and revisited the list and read it again. Almost immediately it came to me. I looked up classes online at SCAD and Creative Circus to see what they might have to offer. Creative Circus, not so much, but SCAD had all these amazing community classes I could take that were surprisingly affordable. So Feb. 10th I start! I hate the title of it…I swear I am not an ego maniac.  See the description below.

The Art of Self-Promotion
Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m. (four classes)
Are you an entrepreneur interested in promoting and publicizing your own artwork, business or another creative endeavor? Learn how to launch a cutting-edge campaign on the cheap and get results, from sales to media coverage. In this four-part series, participants will identify target markets, create an effective press kit, set up a place in cyberspace, and get insider tips to secure coverage in local and national media outlets.

Kamal Sinclair earned a B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and an M.B.A. from Georgia State University. Her professional career in a number of national and international performing arts tours includes several years as a cast member with the Off-Broadway hit STOMP, and PBS’s Reading Rainbow.
1. I’m excited just to meet the instructor with her seemingly super interesting background.
2. I can’t wait to be in a classroom again. And at SCAD no less!
3. More of the unknown. But I know this relates to Stories of Gen, Zifty and this newly founded board I am on for indie businesses. How can this not help that?
4. Does this class scratch something specific off my list? No. But my gut tells me that perhaps this will lead to several dreams coming true.
The other thing I “did” which was actually last week was register for the Portland Marathon on 10/10/10. I have done marathons before but only halves since Seven was born.  He’s 2. I wasn’t finding any joy in racing or training. My head swirled with-I’m not as in shape as I was. I am not as fast as I was. I’ll never get to where I am trying to go. I’m fat.Oh there’s 8 more miles.  Literally beating myself up and thinking negative thoughts the ENTIRE time I was out on the road. How insane that I didn’t really realize I was doing that until very recently? Like I am talking I have done a version of this to myself since I was 10 competing in gymnastics. Thank God for this class and my lovely  newish therapist!
So once I got that negativity in check, my runs have been amazing. Like I could go forever kind of thing. Really strange. I decided to look for a marathon that would be in a gorgeous setting, so I could be surrounded by the beauty inside and out. And there it was- Portland. A mere two hours from where my sister lives in Olympia. When I was registering my hands were literally shaking and my heart was racing with total excitement. I can tell you I have done marathons, 1/2 Ironmans, plenty of racing and have NEVER felt that way. I don’t know what all this means but I am okay with that. I am just going to continue on the ride and enjoy the moments of almost giddiness it is giving me now.
There is even some ridiculous icing here too. I emailed my sister and told her about my idea. Her and I could take the 2 hour train ride to Portland, stay at the Ace Hotel for the weekend and hey by the way do you want to do the marathon with me? She said yes!  So exciting that I am going to be with her and there for her on her first marathon. Takes on a whole new meaning.


The List

January 26, 2010

I decided I want to journal the process of opening the list. I swear it feels like I am a kid again on Christmas Eve. That little swell in my chest as I prepare to read it again and go through the exercise. Tyler is at a late meeting, Seven has gone to bed exceptionally early  and I have our gorgeous new cozy house to myself. Music playing, ideas scattered on the dining room table where I sit, altar of sorts in eye shot and a cocktail at my fingertips. It is almost ridiculous.

Anyhow, I am excited to see how I feel. What makes me smile, what makes me question, if anything makes me roll my eyes or want to cross it out.

So I just read my list. And you know what? I love it. It made me feel good. It made my heart race and I am a little short of breath right now. The kind that is on the brink of fantastic anxiety and horrible. Why? Because it feels like a lot. Because I want it all to happen. Well because I am impatient. Nothing really made me roll my eyes. Laugh? Yes. Because I think if someone didn’t know me and read the line about “Experience celebrity” they might get the wrong idea. And even though I am going to share my list in its entirety here; it is mine. I am sharing because I hope others do too and I also believe I will find the exposure very liberating. Not usually my bag to be so open.

The assignment was to take it a step further and decide what ideas made me feel vulnerable, to be more flexible, brave, open and trusting. It is interesting but none of them felt like they weren’t “me”. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty on the list that are not in the realm of my current reality; but I don’t feel like any of it is past possibility. The list makes me feel hopeful. I feel brave for taking the original 20 minutes and not holding back. I feel vulnerable because I am sharing it. I am aware of the flexibility that all of it will need. As these won’t happen just because I wake up one day and say so. I’ve got to trust myself, the people I love and even the unknown. Not easy things for me. But I believe at this point in my life, in my 37th year, I am more open to it then I have ever been.

The List in no particular order:

Publish a book

Live in Europe

Give Seven a really big life

Experience celebrity (think book signing not paparazzi)

Get my six pack back

Be a consultant to start-ups in business development/brain storming

Have Stories of Gen written up in the NY Times

Lots of fashion purchasing power

The money to send my parents on a once in a lifetime trip

Do an ultimate endurance race

Go on lots of trips with my sister

Live debt free

Broaden my retail/designer partnerships with Stories of Gen

Travel, travel, travel

Have another kid

Learn graphic design

Be a choreographer

Create a line of Zifty.com snack trucks

Develop Lady Rogue  board into something bigger

Be able to change someone’s life thru generosity

Create passion through reinvention in our marriage

Run marathons faster

Lots of weekend trips

Bring entire family to non-resort part of Jamaica

Create a line of paper goods

Be on the board of a super indie museum

Fill house with selected pieces of design with a story

Pay dad back for college in one check

Be go to person

Have a super over the top creative office environment

Have a constant supply of amazing packaging

Swim in lots of foreign blue waters

Teach

Be a really amazing mother and wife

Stay youthful and current

Have surprises that make me grow

Learn HTML

Create a clothing line

Work from wherever I want

Go to surf camp in Costa Rica

Race a car

Outsource the stuff I hate doing

Open a resort with Gulf Streams done in fun luxury

Meets lots of amazing people & keep up those friendships

Buy Tyler a Scout for his 40th

Live in NYC for a period of time

Send Seven to amazing schools (not necessarily private)

Have a better second pregnancy from an emotional recovery perspective

Realize what I do for other people and take some satisfaction in it

Stop being my own worst enemy

Never be political in my success

Attend an amazing seminar or brainstorm session that intimidates me

Get a mentor

Be a mentor

Have Seven know me as Jen and not just his mom

Make sure my mom knows true happiness

When My Gut Out Talked My Head

January 21, 2010

I had been in a job and an industry for a few years and the novelty had long worn off. I went from being an early twenty something who excelled in sales to someone who was hired away to a bigger market to do a start-up for a smaller company. I jumped at the chance. Bigger city, bigger paycheck, tons of new challenges. I was super excited. And I was super under prepared. Fast forward a few years, I was burnt out, hated the industry, hated my boss, was starting to hate myself. So with the buy in from my live in boyfriend  (he’s my husband now) I cashed out my smallish 401K and quit.

I had no exact plan. I did not know what I was going to do next. I ran a lot. I went out to lunch. It was fantastic. Then it got really, really quiet. Painfully so. And the voice in my head started asking myself “who the hell do you think you are to quit?”, “why do you think you deserve to do that?”. I was 30 and didn’t know and those questions scared me out of sleeping lots of nights. I did know though that I couldn’t stay on the path I was on. So I dreamt up a couple of jobs and even turned them into offers. Starbucks Corporate and Aprillia Scooters on a global scale. But again that voice that said these are not right and with a dwindling bank account I walked away.

The depression  really kicked in then. And I was clearly the only person in my universe who wasn’t at work and being “productive”. Then one day in a funk I was  reading through a free weekly magazine. I decided to glance at the help wanted ads. To paint an accurate picture, most ads were for “massages”. And then I saw an ad for a delivery driver position for a small start-up internet based delivery company. I loved driving my Mini Cooper and knew the city; so I called the guy. $7 an hour plus tips he told me. I have NO IDEA why I went and met him and no idea why after that first meeting I knew something bigger was going to happen. Afterall I left hired as contract delivery driver. So work now involved ridiculous baby doll t-shirts, cargo pants and Pumas. My boyfriend, “You are going to be a delivery driver? Cool.” Most days he meant it.

Anyhow, we were so slow at the beginning I spent a lot of time in the warehouse. Mind you the warehouse was the size of a walk in closet. That being the case it allowed me to have lots of conversations with my 28 year old boss. In between waiting for orders to come in, watching terrible reality television in the break room and me doing the occasional delivery we got to know each other.  Turns out he is a serious techie and I am pretty good at business development and marketing with no budget for it. So a few weeks later, papers were drawn and I was his business partner. That was 7 years ago and we now have 50 employees and a true warehouse/building of our own. Of course there are a whole new set of challenges today; but that is for a different post!

At the end of the day, I clearly had no idea any of that was going to happen when I answered a delivery driver ad; but I am grateful I followed whatever was leading me that day. It was clearly something that was bigger than myself.

Clearing the Air

January 19, 2010

This latest assignment really spoke to me. I love the feeling I get after I collect up unworn clothes, shoes mainly bought on an impulse, purses no longer carried and form a collection for donating. If I haven’t worn it in 6 months, it is gone! I mean there are a few special occasion exceptions there but I really try and stick with that thought. The areas I tend to slack more in are ridiculous mess of the bill “bowl”, the back of my car, even the air with my business partner. I just need to say it and I just need to do it. Whether it is not biting my lip, or saying out loud the compliment I was thinking, losing the guilt over saying no, and feeling free to communicate the churning thoughts in my brain. Whether it is with my husband or my friends or colleagues. Thinking through this, I know that sometimes just the act of communicating honestly and thoughtfully and being in the moment in all of that; provides a cleansing process for me. It makes my heart and head feel light, my shoulders drop a couple of inches and that little line in between my eyebrows a little less deep.

That will be my homework this week. To clear it all out. Have those conversations. Say those things. Clean out the cabinet that stores all of my inspiration for Stories of Gen. I mean if it is locked up in a mess, is it really all that inspiring? (see below) Get the numbers crunched for 2009. Un-shove all of the incredible packaging items that I have picked up along the way. Donate some of Seven’s toys and clear out clothes that no longer fit him.

It will take some time. It might be a little painful. BUT it when it is all said and done, it is going to feel amazing. I can anticipate the lightness from this exercise already. Hopefully I can bookmark the feeling and not let it get so easily forgotten about in the back of the closet.