About Me, unplugged

Nursebean Unplugged: Welcoming 2017

I am not someone who chooses a word for my year, although I respect the thought that many give to this and I learn from their choices. I did have some plans/goals/intentions for my new year and most of them revolved around health-daily yoga, less sugar, etc. On January 1, 2017, I worked a day shift at the hospital and walked out into sunshine-a rare thing because this time of the year it is usually dark when I leave work. So I decided to start my year with a walk on the beach. I am so lucky to live within driving distance of Long Island Sound. I love the late afternoon light. It is truly the golden hour.

In 2016, I made a resolution to have unplugged Sundays. What this meant for me was that I did not sign up to work any shifts at the hospital on a Sunday and I tried to stay off social media. The work part of this was actually a big shift for me. For almost ten years, I have worked 6-7 days a week which was a financial necessity. This has been challenging and so making the commitment to keep this day free was a huge positive shift. Working Sundays kept me away from regular church going which I missed and in 2016 I was able to return to this which truly fed my soul-for me it is my weekly re-set button. I had thought that my unplugged Sundays would enable me to sew more, read more and do more of the things that I enjoy, and it did. But what I didn’t appreciate until I was actually living these days and documenting them (I posted a weekly picture on instagram with the hashtag #myunpluggedsundays) is how much keeping the day totally unscheduled and unplanned and having time to just think and be spontaneous would be healing for me and would inspire new ideas. This was probably the best part of keeping this commitment to myself. This and having weekly early morning quiet time to read.

2017 started off so beautifully. I was still pondering my resolutions and had jotted down some ideas. I wanted to take time each day for yoga since I have neglected my physical body amid work and other priorities. So after my beach walk I came home and did Day 1 of Yoga with Adrienne’s Yoga Revolution series. I did about half of her 30 Days of Yoga earlier in the year and loved it. We had a nice family dinner with my husband and the three children who were home for the holidays and I went to bed feeling excited for a day off on January 2nd and the time and space to start the new year right. And then life happened as it so often does. I got up and went for a short walk and started to feel worse and worse and went home, went straight to bed and stayed there for 2 days with fever, chills, sweats, nausea. My daughter was sick as well.

I had to laugh. Whenever I try to strongly impose my will on life, life pushes back and reminds me that I am not in charge. A bit of a spiritual re-adjustment. But interestingly what this next week of not avoiding sugar, (all we could do was drink ginger ale), not doing yoga (ha!) and not doing all those things on my to do list (take down the tree, finish some sewing projects, write my new years resolutions) did for me is to give me time to think. And what I thought about is that the best thing that my 2016 unplugged Sunday project did for me is to help me see that creating space in my life for thinking, creating, following my spontaneous idea in the moment-whether it be to take a walk, cook a nice dinner, sew up an unplanned project-was way more valuable than I had realized. The phrase “create space” is something that many yoga teachers I have studied with use and in 2016, I learned that it is something that I need to be intentional about because I reap tremendous benefits when I do it. In 2016, I got some ideas for writing pieces, one of which is going to be published next month, that came to me as I went on a spontaneous walk after church. I made connections about relationships, my own life’s goals, ways I want to grow. Life is so full of great ideas, images, content that is coming at us from all directions. I love it all. I love the books I read, the bloggers I follow, the photographs and amazing projects and ideas I see on instagram and the great conversations I have at work and at home but I know now that I also need quiet. I need space to think. Even when I don’t think I do. So in 2017, my resolution will be to Create Space for myself in a systematic way by scheduling it into my week. These are some ideas I am going to try out to make this happen.

I am going to continue to keep Sundays unplugged from work, media and plans whenever possible. In 2016, I did this for about 6 months straight and then work got busy and I ended up going in most Sundays to catch up on paperwork. Part of the challenge to keeping Sundays unplugged for me is to be more time efficient during the week so that all the paperwork gets done and I don’t have to go in on a Sunday. This also applies to other chores, errands etc. I try to get them done on the weekdays so I don’t have to do them on Sunday. I have found that this is really worth doing. I should mention that this blogger who I follow religiously recently talked about the concept of a monthly think day on her podcast. I think many of us are trying to figure this out.

I am going to try to have a Quiet Hour each evening before I go to bed to read, write, think. I have trouble sleeping and I have found that if I get into a big conversation with a family member as I am getting tired, it works against my ability to fall asleep. I also am going to try to keep that hour free from media. I also plan to read this book to see if I can gain some insights into improving my focus. It was recommended by this book whisperer who I have written about so many times before and whose podcast I listen to religiously.

I am going to try to do yoga daily and do some form of physical activity outdoors most days. I need to get outside and I need to make that a priority.

I am going to try to find time to write a couple of times a week. What that looks like for me could be blog posts, handwritten letters to people who live far away from me, maybe another piece for publication. When my children were little and we spent summers in Maine, I started a weekly letter writing night. I was inspired by a book I read. It might have been this one by Elizabeth Berg but I am not sure. Each Tuesday evening after dinner, each child wrote one letter to a family member and one letter to a friend and could write more if they chose. I made it fun by buying a bunch of postcards and other pretty stationary which I kept in a box. This was before email was a big thing and in any event we were intentionally screen-free all summer. They could walk the stamped mail over to our big mailbox at the end of the driveway and were very happy when they got mail back. It was one of the things I did as a parent that I am so glad I did, along with family dinners, quiet reading before bed and nature walks/hikes. So much of the time you are a parent to young children, you are trying so hard to do all the things right and it isn’t for years in many cases that you can look back and think about what really made a difference. Letter writing night was definitely one of those for me.

Other goals/intentions: to finish some unfinished sewing projects, to write another piece for possible publication, to eat more healthfully, to read books recommended to me by my daughters, to make zucchini noodles (!) with the spiralizer my daughter got me for Christmas.

Things I am excited for in 2017: trips already planned (tickets purchased!) to see my daughter and son who live in other states, a planned long weekend away with my husband for the first time since we were married almost nine years ago (omg), a planned road trip to see my brother this spring, sewing, reading, life.

I love a new beginning and today, on January 7th, as I watch beautiful snow fall on a rare Saturday when I am not at work, I am full of hope. What are you excited for in 2017?img_4479-1

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unplugged

Nursebean Unplugged: Maine

With the beginning of summer and the return of hot weather, my thoughts turn to the place where I spent so many summers with my kids. I have the urge to jump in the car and head north as I did most years as soon as school got out and sometimes a day or two before. How lucky were we to spend so many beautiful days on an island in Maine surrounded by mountains, lakes, woods and the ocean. But my favorite place was probably the meadow.imageThe sound of the wind traveling through the tall grasses, the buzzing of insects, the wildflowers, the birds. I loved the hum of activity, the sunshine, the many little worlds contained in the expanse of the field. Sending the kids out to pick wildflowers for the dinner table. Sitting on the deck and listening to the hum of activity. It was mesmerizing and calming at the same time. (Maine summer 1997 above).

Life got  pretty complicated for my kids and me about ten years ago and summers in Maine became a thing of the past,  but I have so many happy memories of those times.

This weekend, I drove the familiar route on my way to help my daughter move her things back home for the summer break. As I drove up the Maine Turnpike, I saw swaths of purple along the side of the road. It was lupine season. I had forgotten! So unexpected and so beautiful.  imageOne of the best children’s books ever is this one about the lupine lady. One of our family favorites.imageI didn’t have much time during this visit to do much more than spend a few minutes at a couple of old haunts. The roads where our old house used to be has one of the biggest fields of lupines on the island, but I just couldn’t bring myself to drive down it. So I went instead to a spot where the kids and I used to go to watch the sun set over Blueberry Hill.imageAnd to the lake where I used to love to swim (still do but too cold this trip).imageSo peaceful. There is a big rock that we used to swim out to but I just liked being able to swim and swim without chlorine or line lanes or bumping into other people.imageLily pads below.imageThere were were wisps of fog shrouding the tops of some of the mountains.imageFog, sky and  the shadows of trees forming a pattern on the field.imageThe harbor is just starting to have boats on moorings. In a few weeks, it will be full of boats. The day was mostly gray with bits of sunlight poking through. It matched my mood.imageNot so much sad but thoughtful. I don’t wish my children young again. I am not interested in turning back time, even if I could,  but those summers were precious. Every life is filled with befores and afters. This time when my children were little and we spent summers in Maine was ironically both an after-after some tough times that I never expected to come again and then turned out to be a before-before a big challenging shift that I didn’t see coming. I had planned on spending the rest of my summers in Maine but things turned out differently as they often do. This weekend in Maine, thoughts of those happy times swirled around me like friendly spirits.  (Maine summer of 2002 below with our dog Sam, a gentle soul, much missed)img001I ended up at the lake where we would take long walks as a family on a path along the shore to another rock where we would swim. This year I didn’t have time to do the walk so I just sat on a rock in the sun and took in the beauty. imageA peek at the Western Mountains and a favorite hiking trail.

imageRocks line the shore.imageThe surface of the pond like a path spread out before me.imageBeautiful beyond words. image

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About Me, unplugged

Nursebean Unplugged: A Visit to the Old Neighborhood Part 1, the Park and the Garden

imageToday I found myself with free time on a beautiful day in NYC after getting a clean bill of health from my cardiologist. First I went to Mood, a well-known fabric store near the doctor’s office, where I looked at zippers. After deciding that I was not up for spending $14 on a zipper, even a really pretty zipper, I thought for a moment about going to a museum but then, because it was a beautiful spring day and because I had enough leftover credit on a Metrocard to get me there and back on the subway, I hopped on a number 2 train and went back to my old neighborhood, the place where all of my kids came home as new babies (after being born in hospitals in Manhattan) and where I lived for 11 years as a newly married wife, a new mom, a full time banker and a runner, reader, quilter and sewer. This is the first place I really chose as a home and it was home in my heart and mind for many years after leaving to move to the suburbs. It was a beautiful unplugged day. (3rd street walking toward the park, above and below)imageSo much of my life is planned and scheduled. I work two jobs and teach on the side so most weeks I am at work six days a week. What I have found with my unplugged Sunday project is that I don’t even realize the extent to which the spontaneous part of me has been damped down by my work until I have some free time with no obligations. I forget how much I love to walk without a destination, just taking in the beauty. I walked down streets that were so familiar to me but which I hadn’t walked down in probably ten years. I have lost track. There is a reason why I loved living here.imageOur last apartment-a co-op apartment that we owned-was in this building right on the park. We had a duplex that faced into the back with a little garden which we made the most of. It was amazingly quiet and peaceful for city living. My older two children played in a sandbox and baby pool for many happy hours and I grew whatever flowers thrived in shade (lots of impatiens.) Our backyard was the site for many birthday parties and cookouts. It is amazing how much use a city dweller can make of a tiny patch of green. Below, the building from across the street.imageNote the new bike lane! My son, who lived in this neighborhood until age 8 is a biker and would appreciate this.imageWe spent so many hours in this park. Right across the street from our building was a playground where I pushed all three children in bucket swings and spent many happy hours watching my kids play with whomever they met that day in the sandbox. We usually brought toys and ended up sharing them widely. One day, we started to round them up and I wasn’t able to find all of the plastic dinosaurs we had brought.  I asked some of the other kids to help look for them. Ten children started eagerly digging. It turned into a game. One mom asked me if we really had lost one. She thought I had made it up to keep the kids occupied.  Every time we went to the park, we made friends. That was the kind of neighborhood it was. I walked on through the park.image

imageThe field in the park where I would take my very active toddler and let him run around. imageMost weekends, we would start in the park and walk through the park to the library and the botanic gardens stopping on the way back at Grand Army Plaza to go to the farmer’s market that would be there each Saturday. I would have a child in a snuggli or a stroller or both. It never got old.imageAnd on to Grand Army Plaza.imageThen to the library.imageOr swimming lessons which took place in a pool on one of the top floors of this building (note the big windows).  Two of my children learned to swim here.imageThen, most weekends, we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There was always something new in bloom and it was just the right size for small children. It was beautiful today. Everything is budding and green and on the verge of blooming. image

imageThe trees look almost human. image

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imageRose garden sleeping. In June it will all be in bloom.imageCherry Esplanade. It will be blooming in two weeks and will be crowded with people but quiet today. I remember chasing children along a field of pink petals.imageThe pond and Japanese garden.image

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imageTurtles in the sun.image

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imageThe Oaks.imageRose garden waking up.imageI loved all the crazy new growth at the base of this tree. #metaphorimageAnd this one looks like a ballerina with arms raised.image

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imageSo much beauty. After walking though the gardens, I went back through my old neighborhood and walked by the other buildings we lived in and visited some of our old haunts. To be continued.

 

 

 

 

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