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!


Toddler Tantrums (my daughter has them too…)

Author’s Note:  If you like my writing, please share it! Share it on social media with friends! Unless you don’t want to. I don’t want to be that friend who makes you feel awkward about it. Unless that would work. Would it work?  Seriously though, please share if you feel inclined. I’m not trying to make money off of this (yet) or anything. Just trying to grow this blog. 

Knowing Your Weaknesses (a.k.a. Your 30’s)

I’m old enough now that I know damn good and well what I handle poorly. (Don’t ask me to do/say anything when I’m hungry or sleepy. It won’t end well. For anyone.) And I know when I need to walk away…most of the time. Okay, some of the time. I just don’t always do it.

Let’s back up here. I’m old enough that I know what I can’t handle well.

I don’t handle unfinished projects well. I want them done.

I don’t handle repetitive whining well (like a 1950’s stereotype, I think you should suck it up unless you have a severed artery, in which case you drive yourself to the ER after fashioning your own tourniquet).

I don’t handle ceaseless work well. I like my breaks, and they like me.

I don’t handle social situations where I can’t leave well. If you know me, you know.

I don’t handle situations that can’t be calmly and rationally discussed well. (Disclaimer: the Hubs will add that this is true only if I’m also right, which I usually am, so I don’t see why he brings that up.)

I don’t handle mess/disorder well. The chaos of the cosmos unnerves me. 

I don’t handle distraction well. Though I think ANYONE in this society would have ADD, I actually DO have it. And I can tell you, it’s not fake, and I’m not doing it to piss anyone off. I really can’t stay on topic that long.

In short, I never should have had kids. Or married. I should have gotten a plant or two, moved into a tiny apartment in a boring town and joined a bridge club. Yet here I am, with a Hubs, a fast-moving Toddler, a full time job (technically- two full time jobs), a house undergoing crucial rennovations, a business… and a front porch full of plants that might one day overgrow the entire front of my building. Absolutely nothing in my life is in check right now.

I’m not complaining. Just pointing out how, despite knowing my triggers, I still set up a life where I regularly bump into All. Of. Them. I’m eyeball-deep in the business of life, doing stuff I’m not good at and getting by. And that’s the part that stuns me- I’m getting by.  Amazing.

Toddler Tantrums

My little girl is a typical toddler. She whines, she smooches, she spills fresh yogurt in her lap and smears it on the table, she shrieks just to hear her voice bounce off the walls, she runs into things, she refuses to share, she does all of these things and only occasionally (right now) drives me to the edge of sanity. I knew I wouldn’t handle this stage well, but I’m surprising myself how much better I’m doing than I thought. My mom was right…it’s different when they’re your own.

Time with my girl comes at the expense of other things, and for now, that’s doable. I don’t like it, but it’s doable. I’d rather be with her than away from her, if that makes sense. I just miss hobbies. And money. And sleep. And friends.

I don’t have any grand epiphanies to share with you tonight (Unless you count discovering that my mom was right. AGAIN.). Just wanted to share my recent thoughts about mothering a toddler.

Oh, and humans are hard.


Coming soon…pictures of the recent renovations.

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.

Found Something Cool

Ask anyone in my family- when I find something cool or funny or touching (usually on the computer), I immediately drag people I value over to see it, in the hopes that they’ll get as much enjoyment out of it as I do. It’s my attempt to show love.

Sooooooo, I’ve written before about an absolutely inspirational spoken-word poet out of NYC named Sarah Kay. She has a fantastic TED talk on YouTube with her performing her poem If I Should Have A Daughter:

Last night I found out that Sarah and her partner in Project V.O.I.C.E. (coincidentally named Phil Kaye- no relation and they’re not dating/married) have a poem called When Love Arrives. It is a verbal medicine that washes over you. See for yourself:

That made my soul sigh with happiness. Then I found this:

Now THAT sort of insight is just my type of therapy. I became an instant fan of spoken word poetry last night- not just Sarah Kay, but of all of it. Sarah and Phil both have some amazing stand-alone poems that I highly, highly, highly recommend you take a few moments to listen to. They’re healing in that way that stories are healing.

And can’t we all use a little of that?

I want to be an author. Starting now.

Remember my earlier post about wanting to become a mommy-blogger for about 5 minutes? I have an even better idea. I want to write an ebook.

write a book 2I have NO IDEA what about…too many ideas floating around in my head, but I figure putting it out there in the universe is a good step.

No goals. No deadlines (yet…I’ll have to make deadlines, or else I’ll be writing this thing during menopause, fueled by Jim Bean and anger). No direction. No choice. I like writing, and I like practicing what I like. Don’t know what I hope to accomplish with this, but I’d like to see if I can write and self-publish some sort of e-book.

So here is my stated intention to the universe. I want to write a book. An e-book. Before I die….much sooner than that, actually. But since I don’t know when I’m going to die, better start soonish.

Like in early 2014. What idiot starts a book during the holiday season?

(Speaking of the holiday season- BAD WALMART! It’s not Christmas yet! Bad!)

House of Sickness

Tis the season…for the plague, apparently. Halloween-Shmalloween, everyone we know is sick (including us here in Howellville) and we stand a significant chance of being taken out not by zombies, but by bacteria. Personally, I’m still keeping prepared for the zombies. Wielding a shotgun feels more proactive than wielding Theraflu.

Other than being overrun with sickness, what have we been up to? You’ve been wondering, haven’t you? That’s why I’m here.

My new job is wonderful. I’ve never liked a job so much in my life. I’d doing social media and brand management for a property management company that builds assisted living facilities. If you don’t know what a property management company is, don’t worry. Me neither. I’m still learning. But I love it!

halloween 5Yesterday was Halloween, and the ankle-biter was a sock-monkey. Cute and warm. We trick or treated all the way to one house before she lost interest and wanted to go chase leaves. I sort of felt the same way, so I didn’t really mind. Then we wandered home for some running around, bath and bed.

Now we roll into my favorite season of the year! I’m…sort of ready for it. Still, it feels like we just got done with Christmas last year, in a way. I’m feeling pretty numb to the idea of decorating again so soon (Christmas needs to be two years apart), so this may be the year of the Charlie Brown tree.

So far fall has been pretty busy with work and…well, just lots of work. We’ve not been too terrific here recently with work/life balance. It’s more like work/survival balance. I stay busy trying to get enough sleep on the side of working full time, taking care of Eva and keeping our place clean. Other than that, not much to update, I’m afraid.

How’s things with you?

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.