2014 Review

2104 was busy. We grew, we saved, we traveled, we swam, we planned, and we tried new things. I got better at cooking, Eva got better at talking and Sosh got better at coding stuff (and explaining to me what he was coding.) We got a year older, two of the three of us changed jobs, one of us mastered object permanence and saying ‘please’ (it’s exactly who you’d think), all of us forgot to call various peoples on their birthdays, and we all toyed with new hobbies- woodworking, jewelry-making, and potty-training (again, exactly who you’d think).

2015 is opening up some new opportunities for the Howells of Atlanta. There’s some stuff we’ll have to let go in order to make room for the new possibilities. To that end, I’m letting go of old identities, styles, and expectations. Also, I cleaned out the fridge. 2015 is off to a running start!

Dancing in Space/Time

I used to consider myself “A Dancer.” It was a persona I adopted and one of the first things in life besides reading that I ever established a flashy proficiency in. I lived/loved/breathed dancing for a number of years. Long after I didn’t do that anymore, I still considered myself “A Dancer,” just one that was on a break. 90’s kids know how well that worked out for Ross and Rachel.

Yea, 2015 is the year I let that go. I’m no longer “A Dancer.” I’m someone who occasionally dances and could slide through a swingout if the moment were right. I just can’t pretend anymore. Moving on…

2015 for the Howells of Atlanta

We’ve got a lot happening this year. We’re planning to move to a house with a real yard, Sosh sold his first company and is moving on to his next adventure, we will (so help me 8 pound, 6 ounce Baby Jesus) potty train our Little Tater, I’m working on new business ventures that will hopefully render me a thousandaire in the near future, and we’re starting a bunch of new family traditions now that Eva is old enough to remember them.

One of the first family traditions we will be starting will be a belated Virtual Christmas card to everyone. It should roll in around late February, like a little gift you weren’t even expecting. I could pretend that next year I’ll get a Christmas card together and out in time, but I think realism is more fun.

We’re doing virtual cards to save trees and time and so that I can do a longer update on what our family is doing.

(By the way, thank you to everyone who thoughtfully sent us Christmas cards! They were all so gorgeous and orgainzed and timely.)

Other family traditions on the “To Start’ list:

  • beach vacation!one of my fav pics ever of Eva and I !!
  • a family portrait
  • celebrating Halloween with actual costumes and celebrations
  • exploring Atlanta with Eva
  • decorating for each of the holidays

…really everything after that I can think of after that is just a hopeful plan for activities we’ll enjoy, like getting out more and spending time with friends. Not really traditions, but ways to enjoy life.

Seriously, we’re busy but in a very good place. It’s been tough to let go of the identity of ‘Dancer’ (more for me than for the Hubs), but I think I’m finally there. We’ve got a lot of adventures planned for our Little Tater this year, and I’m looking forward to see what 2015 will bring!


Full disclosure: I wrote that in early January. How time does fly!


Peaks of Parenthood (When it’s good…)

I’ve been very open in the past about the more difficult, downer moments of parenthood- sharing the hard times is immensely freeing emotionally when the chaos is neck-deep and you honestly don’t know/believe it will ever get easier. So, in the interest of balance, I want to be open about the high times too.

_DSC0161Cause right now is a high point for us, as a family, and for me personally. My little TaterSnot is almost two (but not yet Terrible Two), and becoming gently articulate and responsive. She knows me now and she gives me neck hugs with a joyful abandon that I know can’t last- so I’m soaking up every single one. We get a respectable amount of sleep (though it means our household is frequently always in bed before 10 pm) so I’m not a grumpy zombie. Eva enjoys daycare each day, so I can work at a job I love without feeling guilty or worried. And that moment at the end of the day, when I go to pick her up and she turns and sees me- I don’t know what language has a word to describe that kind of joy.

It’s going to sound sappy and cliched, but it’s 1000% true- she’s changed me utterly. I noticed the other day that my list of ‘needs’ has shrunk in the last two years to exactly this: Whatever it is I need to take care of her and my husband is all I need. That’s it. Money-wise, time-wise, energy-wise….if I have enough for that, I have enough. Not in a abstract,unicorn-y way. In a visceral, bone-deep, primal sort of way.

I can’t explain it without sounding ‘holier-than-thou,’ and it’s not my point to (“Oh, no, who could possibly need more than parenthood? That Kate Spade purse? Garbage, compared to the transcendent joy of changing diapers. My life was meaningless before babies…”). I’m trying to explain in words that this is working for me...and I didn’t know before if it would. There was a time in the not-at-all distant past when I didn’t know if I could do anything more than just handle the day to day reality of parenthood without losing parts of me that I really didn’t want to lose.

Having said that, I’m pushing to gather more friends (I have a few gems in my life right now) and really cultivate some female friendships (always my weak point). There are still plenty of things I want to do, but for this moment, for the first time since before puberty, I’m content. I’ve got a life I want. And that’s no small thing.

Restless night…

I’ve got nothing to contribute to the Universe tonight except a restless soul and a tired body. Oh, and raw cookie dough. I’m a giver.

I’ve been wanting to share a bit of creative energy with the world, but first I’ll start with my slow crawl out of credit bondage. And I mean S.L.O.W. Recently, I’ve reached a place of financial and physical security where I feel like I might not always be running from behind, so to speak. Now, I thought I’d hit it a bit sooner than my early 30s, but such is the condition of our country/economy that most of my generation finds ourselves desperately struggling to hit some of the same hallmarks our parents did with (dare I say it?) a bit more ease. Regardless, I’m almost there now, and the smell of it- the psychological promise of it- is intoxicating.

I’m almost debt free. See, I’ve had some sort of balance floating on credit cards for most of my adult life. Never much- no, I’ve never had a problem with it. It’s always been perfectly manageable. I’ve just always seemed to have something come up- a car repair, a new bill, something insurance wouldn’t cover- so that I couldn’t quite pay it off each month. Periods of carrying a small balance have been with me for most of the past decade. A small but consistent inability to be totally free of that nagging little bit of debt. Always so very close. It drove me NUTS, but now it’s almost gone. So you might or might not see a bit of drunk posting when that last e-bill is finally paid. Consider yourself warned.

Aside from that, I’m restless tonight and looking to throw a few things out into the Universe, since my previous creative ideas have, as it turns out, already been done. I was going to write a social media e-book for work- then I found out that about three dozen other ‘social media professionals’ had already beaten me there and written about the same damn thing. Opps. I was going to take up knitting again- then I remembered it bores me tremendously. Opps. I was going to design my first tattoo- then I remembered I hate needles. The list goes on.

But my little TaterSnot is getting up to interesting things again, and leaving her little marks all over the house (I have to say that her little marks are far cuter to find lying around than, say, her father’s not-so-little marks. Sorry Babe, it’s true. Tiny socks trump adult socks.). I’ve found that trying to catch those little bits of her presence are a delightful challenge. I think photography is back at the top of my interest list for now.

So here is something for this day that’s almost done: shoes 1 no light path-3

And lest I go to sleep without sending out an affirmation:Do what makes your soul happy

3 Tips for Giving Tips

If the title didn’t give it away, this post is going to be a snarky one. It’s the Friday of a long week, and my breakfast was three veggie dumplings and half of a Mr. Pibb consumed in traffic. Love me anyway.

Somewhere in Cyberland, the tip was given to bloggers that all blogs/posts are more compelling when you use numbers and any of the following words: tips, tricks, fads, trends, steps, ideas, DIY, projects, rules, suggestions, fashion…you get the idea. Everything recently in the blogesphere follows this pattern.

Case in point:Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 8.46.00 AMThis is a screenshot of the top results for a Google search I did about “blogs that give tips.” I know, I know, first world problems. It’s just so prevalent that I had to say something about it.

And join in. Here are my tips for giving tips:

1) Drink first. I don’t think that needs an explanation.

2) Consider that while you’re one of roughly 7 billion people and about 4 billion of those don’t have access to clean water, let alone a laptop, you’re also incredibly unique in a universe where the odds that you in your exact formation would grow and live was indescribably small. So when you chose what you say, remember that you are stardust…incredibly privileged startdust. Write accordingly.

write a book 33) You know you have today. And that’s all you know. If there’s something you want to do, why in the hell aren’t you doing it? Who cares if it looks like 14 million other people already got there? They’re not you. Go be you.

Happy Friday. Don’t text and drive. Seriously. Don’t.

The Dalai Lama, Bill Cosby, and Toddlers

I saw the Dalai Lama speak earlier this week. It was entrancing. He is entrancing. There’s a spell he weaves with his presence (I think it’s because he’s one of the few living humans who just does It All right. My theory.), and I sat for four hours, listening to him talk in broken English just to feel a bit of that presence. He makes me want to try harder to be a better person. Halfway through his speech, I found myself thinking “The Dalai Lama is a lot like Bill Cosby. And toddlers.”

It made sense in my head, I promise. But to explain, I’ll have to back up a bit.Dalai-Lama-on-Healers

Where I’m coming from: I dislike organized religion. Intensely. That’s important to know about me.  It’s important for me to say if only because I feel most of the time like I’m supposed to choke down that opinion, since it makes people uncomfortable. And of the many things I’m supposed to be/do in this society as a nondescript white girl, I’m never supposed to purposefully make anyone uncomfortable. I’m getting over that as I get older, but it’s slow going.

A few years ago, I went to see Bill Cosby perform stand up. I was excited! I’d watched Bill Cosby as a kid, doing his stand up and his show. I LOVE Bill Cosby, and think he’s hilarious. So seeing him live was amazing. But when he first came out on the stage, he opened his show by requesting that everyone stop and pray for the troops that were currently in the early years’ of harm’s way in Iraq. And then he knelt down on the stage to lead a prayer. Now, I enjoy being told to pray about as much as I enjoy wearing a wool sweater stuffed with crabs. Crabs that have rabies. But the sheer presence and dignity of the man himself, the gravity of the person that is Bill Cosby, was so great and dignified and sincere, that when he says he’s going to open his stand-up comedy show in prayer…well, you shut your damn eyes and you pray right along with him. Because he’s a moral force you can’t ignore. His request was sincere in a way that I’m just not used to encountering. So we prayed. All couple thousand of us. And then Bill Cosby made us laugh our asses off for two hours.

There are some things you just do because the force of the person/event is so strong that it points to something higher and bigger than it could possibly be on its own. And there are some things that are more powerful than the sum of their parts can make them. Personally, I think things/events/people that come from a place of pure Truth have this moral force, and they are so rare that encountering them in daily life is almost paralyzing. Certainly it stops you in your tracks. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I’ve been in the presence of that type of Truth. Bill Cosby was one, the two times I’ve seen the Dalai Lama was two and three. The other one was hard to describe because it was a feeling in a moment, unattached to any event or person. Just a small whisper from something with no Voice.

Oh, and as for how toddlers figure in to this whole thing?when toddler hands you phone

Cause there are just some things in life that you do because there is absolutely nothing else you can do. When Bill Cosby asks you to pray with him, you pray. When the Dalai Lama talks about working to make the 21st century different than the 20th century, you re-think your purpose. And when a toddler hands you a ringing toy phone, you answer it. It’s just what you do.

P.S. The next post will have more details about what the Dalai Lama actually said. For now, let’s just leave it at “He was a paralyzing moral force.” I like that description. It fits.

Up to my eyeballs in technology

I married a tech geek. (In the best sense of the word sweetie…) I have access to pretty much every piece of the latest technology, whether I want it or not. I know more about HTML5 sliders, new computer languages, what Apple is doing next, and solid state hard drives than any non-tech person should know. All side effects of hooking up with someone ‘in the industry.’

As I’ve gotten slowly drawn in to this world over the past four or five years, I’ve realized two things: 1) I’m now semi-fluent in tech jokes (not the javascript ones…those are still over my head) and 2) Dear God, I might never escape.

That’s ok, I guess. Though there are days when an EMP would do a lot for household communication. Recently though I took a new job in the field of social media and online marketing. I NEVER thought I would end up in marketing. But here I am…and loving it. Loving. It. 

409528_10150475938303683_501143682_8878669_1980544367_nVariety. Flexibility. Travel. Autonomy.  This job has what I need, and I get up in the morning looking forward to going to work. I’ve never felt this way about a job before. The thing of it is, the job puts me up to my eyeballs in technology and social media. Serious- I’m managing over 40 social media accounts. At the same damn time. You think I was distracted before? This just might fry any long-term memory I have left.

So while I’d intended to move away from working in social media, that is apparently not in the cards for me. The upside is that I seem to be quite good at it, and look forward to getting better. The downside is that this zaps almost any desire to really engage with my personal social media accounts. Maybe I’ll find an equilibrium soon and return to using my Facebook and Twitter accounts as a way of connecting to friends and fam- oh, look, shiny things!

One Year Anniversary

One year ago…

!!-modified-pic-of-July-21st-!!See that look on my face? That’s how I felt for over 5 weeks. I couldn’t navigate my world without serious momentum and slip on shoes. On this day one year ago, my mom had kindly taken me to a local mall to walk/waddle around. We were hoping to start labor. It was in the high 90s. I know, I know….First World Problems…

Less than 48 hours after this pic was taken, I was 7.6 delightful pounds lighter (maybe a bit more), with this little miracle in my arms:

IMAG0233And one year later, that little piece of pure love has blossomed into this:

at Granmamas house 1

See that beautiful girl? She’s mine. She talks (sort of) and walks and grips and grins and reaches and explores. She is my link to a human chain so large and long that it is overwhelming. I gush over her in the same way that I used to see other parents do, when I would roll my eyes at them and think “Yea, yea, you’ve got a kid. Cool.”  But karma is a delightful bitch, and now I’m just as goopy over her as other parents are over their kids.

I can handle being a cliche. That’s fine. Cause I’ve got this: