romancing the snow

St. Patrick's Day Storm of 2014
St. Patrick’s Day Storm of 2014

I’ve had a thing for snow since I was a little kid. I was excited as an eleven-year old to move from California to Maine where I’d get to experience white Christmases, hot chocolate by the fire and days off from school. Except living in Maine, we rarely had “snow days.” Instead I made the trek through the field in front of my house to my friend Debbie’s house and then together we walked the remaining hundred feet or so to our high school. We rarely got rides (poor us) and at some point, I realized no one else was wearing snow pants BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT COOL when you’re a teenager so we often arrived with wet jeans and feet, but youth is immune to a certain level of discomfort.

Fast forward to adulthood, living in the MidAtlantic is frustrating for a snow lover. We’re caught in snowstorm purgatory; dramatic weather forecasts and wild variability often turn a six-to-nine inch snow prediction into an inch of slushiness. We’ve come to expect the letdown (and the accompanying mind boggling school delays) but it doesn’t make busted snow totals easier to accept.

The most recent storm to ravage the northeast is a prime example of how my heart got set up for disappointment. While my sister in New Hampshire was frolicking in two feet of snow, we got a dusting, nowhere near the two-to-four inches we expected.

I fully admit I’ve romanticized the idea of snow the same way I have vote-a-rama nights in the Senate when staff stay until the wee hours and members take stacked votes one after the other. That is to say, I don’t really want to go back to the Hill, I just miss the camaraderie. I don’t want to lose power, be evacuated from my home because of storm surge, or get stranded without eggs, bread and milk. I do want to have enough snow to legitimately shut down the city, but not lose electricity in the process, and have my friends with four wheel drive over for a roaring fire and delicious wine. I long for the bonding of snowmaggedon without the inconveniences my New England loved ones faced this week. I want the St. Patrick’s Day snow storm of last year, when we huddled over the fire pit, Guinness kept cold in a snow bank.

While the upper Atlantic regions dig out, I have my eyes glued to the snowflakes sprinkled over the Weather Channel’s Sunday forecast. If only this time, we are the ones who get ravaged.

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the 30-day minimalism challenge

“Less is more” is all the rage as evidenced by recent obsessions with normcore fashion and getting back to basics. I applaud efforts to shop locally, get kids outdoors and conserve time, energy and resources. But there’s a difference between making a lifestyle change and adopting a trend for the fifteen minutes it’s hot.

By way of example, I recently came across the 30-day minimalism challenge. “Looks interesting,” I said to myself. “I think I’ll try it.”

I didn’t tackle the tasks in order, because “define your goals for this year” was number 12 on the list, but it made sense to put it first. The next day, I meditated for fifteen minutes (longer than my usual five to ten). And the day after that, I decluttered my digital life. But then one day I was supposed to “unfollow and unfriend” which I already did under digital decluttering.  Number 28 said to let go of a goal, but I had just defined them.

Go one day without makeup. Read a book instead of watching TV. Clean out your junk drawer, closet, beauty supplies. Learn to enjoy solitude. I relish downsizing, reading and solitude. I found myself less and less inspired by the tasks. After six days, I slacked off, not because the challenge was hard, but for the opposite reason. Frankly, changing my behavior for one day didn’t feel particularly meaningful.

In my opinion, it’s more impactful to pick one item and own it for a sustained period of time. Last year I vowed to not drink bottled water unless it was my only thirst quenching option. I not only succeeded in curbing an expensive habit, but I saved an itty bitty corner of the ocean at the same time.

I don’t mean to dis the 30-day minimalism challenge. Addressing one’s inherently bad practices for one day is better than not at all. Some might even use it as a launchpad for long-term change. But this particular challenge feels like fast food minimalism; it’s one thing to embrace tenets of less is more because it’s en vogue and another all together to do so purposefully and with clear intention.

just go shopping

Kiskadee Renovation Sale

If you live in the DC metro area and you like unique, cozy sweaters, fun boots and amazing clothes in general, you should find your way to the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria for Kiskadee’s renovation sale. They are literally closing their doors for three days to get a facelift for spring, and according to store manager Sarah, the fewer goods they have on hand before the renovations, the better. Winter items will be up to 80% off, and trust me, I dropped by yesterday, there is still good merchandise to be had. Department stores may be hocking bathing suits, but it’s not too late in the season to pick up your new favorite sweater. After all, there is still a lot of winter left on the calendar.

Starting Saturday, January 17th and running until the 24th when the tarps and painter’s tape will come out, pop by to shop the sale of the year.

Just don’t take the items I’m eying.

shop locally, make friends

I do my best to shop locally. Bookstores. Farmers Markets. Boutiques. Sure, I order some items online. Amazon does frequently save me time and money. But I like browsing. And I like people. (Mostly).

If I didn’t shop locally, I wouldn’t have met Sarah from Kiskadee or Christen from The Shoe Hive. These two wonderful women initially came into my life via outfit/shoe crises, then not long after became true friends. We share stories, laughter, and taste in footwear. And while I’m thinking of it, we are long overdue for dinner.

Last week, Sarah busted me leaving Mind the Mat (where I do my yoga teacher training) without coming in to say hi to her while she worked. I went into her store in my sweaty hot yoga gear. She sold me a pair of boots (on sale) and asked if she could profile me as one of her favorite people to dress.

I was honored.

who’s that girl: chelsea henderson

By the way, you don’t have to live in the DC Metro area to benefit from Alexandria Stylebook. This daily offering does highlight the wares of its consortium of members but also provides good style, life, and home advice.

Wherever you live and love, shop locally and make friends. It’s much more satisfying than getting a cardboard box from Amazon. And not only will some amazing people potentially come into your life, but you’ll support small business too.

old goals made new

The kids and I barely made it to midnight last night, leaving the warm house of dear friends before the ball dropped so we could get into our own pajamas and watch from the comfort of home.

“Okay, let’s go to bed now,” Jack said after the clock struck digital midnight.

“Where is the ball anyway?” Colin asked, eyes scanning images from Times Square.

I was all too happy to comply with the bedtime wish and as I tucked each boy in, I told them the same thing: I wish for us a new year filled with adventure, love and growth.

“Okay, me too,” Jack said, eyes drooping with the late hour.

“Yeah, I hope Jack hits his growth spurt,” Colin agreed as he rolled over. “I can’t wait for his voice to change.”

Adventure. Love. Growth.

Adventure. I’d like to take the boys some place that requires a passport. The Kerry Dark Sky Reserve? Safari? Greece? If going abroad doesn’t work out, there are adventures to be had domestically too. New York City awaits us in March. California and Maine always call. A big cousin reunion in Utah is long overdue. On the culinary side, maybe 2015 is the year I can get the kids to eat snails and frog legs. In the spirit of trying a new activity, I’d like to take them to the flying trapeze school for an afternoon.

Love. Love is tricky. How do I improve upon what I already have? I spent the last year feeling more present with my kids and doing the things that I love, both professionally and personally. I am fulfilled. But 2015 might be the year Jack has his first crush/girlfriend/heartbreak, and I’m going to have to figure out a way to help him through these angsty teen times without being interfering. Hopefully we make it through the year with him still wanting to hang out with me.

Growth. I have a long list. Defeat my fear of headstand. Add yoga teacher to my list of skills. Find jobs teaching yoga. Continue to write and get paid (more often) to do it. Go on a retreat, ideally writing and yoga themed. Listen more and talk less, but speak my truth when something is bothering me. I know I shouldn’t put learn a new language on the list because I’m setting myself up for failure but I’ve been feeling the draw to dust off my French books or pick up Spanish.

Some of these 2015 goals are repurposed from last year and some are intended to keep me on the path I’ve been traveling these last fifteen months. Less a set of resolutions and more a commitment to continue to take advantage of everything I hold in my hands and heart.

Happy New Year!