On having it all and a belated Mother’s Day

On having it all and Mother's Day - www.alliepottswrites.com

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The hubby and I have been flirting with minimalism for some time. I say flirting because while we both find the idea attractive, and would absolutely love to get to know it better sometime, it’s just not something we feel we can commit to at this moment, especially as, with two kids under 10, it is next to impossible to keep the ‘things’ from piling up.

There’s the ‘thing’ the youngest made in school – a small clay pot with uneven sides or the hand-drawn book he made describing how a bed is made. There are the ‘things’ the eldest collects – rocks that catch his eye or the projects he completes in cub scouts.

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Those things, at least, have sentimental value even if they take up space, but then there are the other ‘things’: the plastic characters that come with fast food kids meals, the Legos they use to build a model once which later magically transform into multicolored landmines to an unsuspecting parent’s foot, or the toys which cycle through their favor – one minute they are taking up space in the corner, the next minute (which usually coincides with you eyeballing them for a garage sale) they are the be-all-toy of all-consuming obsession.

Their ‘things’ can be a tad overwhelming at times.

Then I came home from lunch on Sunday and found the floors were cleared and all the toys had been put away. It was all I could want for Mother’s Day.

Better yet – I hadn’t needed to ask.

A friend of mine recently brought my attention to an article featured on the Huffington Post entitled: “Why Women Are Tired: The Price of Unpaid Emotional Labor” by a person known as Psyched in San Francisco. The article, which describes one woman’s request for a professional house cleaning as a Mother’s Day gift, goes on to detail how her well-meaning other half missed the point of her request. She wasn’t looking for a clean house, though that was definitely a plus. What she wanted – was a break.

It reminded me of the old analogy of a person looking for a drill in a hardware store. The person isn’t there to buy a tool, even if that’s what it appears to an outsider. The person is really in the store because they need a hole.

The author of the article made a point to say her husband was a kind and supportive partner. He wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to make her Mother’s Day. His mistake was simply not understanding the requested gift’s true value.

Has my other half been sneaking a peek at my browsing history and whispering suggestions into my kids’ ears? Perhaps, but in this instance, I’m not complaining. I simply enjoyed a couple hours off duty. It may not come again for some time.

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Another friend sent me a piece from the New Yorker: “I am the one woman who has it all.” by Kimberly Harrington. By its title, you might think the piece was a judgmental essay about a woman who has chosen to continue to work after having children, when in fact it is an all too relatable (and funny) summary of all the many reasons a mom might actually want a break from it all, if only for a single day.

After reading the piece I now understand I’m a woman who has it all too, but that’s okay. I know it is worth it in the end.

I like to think it’s made me a better person as well as a better mom. I certainly appreciate my own moms more now knowing what shenanigans my siblings and I put them through.

I’m okay with the bad – the mess, the stress, the never-ending head colds – provided it continues to be outweighed by the good.

I tell myself that one day I will come home and there will be no mess to clean – my boys will be out in the world on their own – and so I accept the things around my home for what they are, proof that, for this moment, that time is still far from now.

I’m okay with having it all.

Just as long as ‘having it all’ comes with the occasional unexpected house cleaning and maybe…, just maybe… a couple hours off and a bottle of wine (or two).

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to the moms out there.

 

 

 

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Fly robin fly – taking a chance in a whole new direction

People talk about kids leaving the nest all the time, but what they don’t always mention is how the momma bird occasionally has to leave the nest too.

Her babies are hatched, though because they not self-sufficient, it is critical that she spread her wings and brave the unknown in order to ensure everyone, herself included, reach their full potential. Baby birds have to eat, but also they need to be shown how to be the best sort of birds, which means, eventually, Momma bird has to get over her fears, remember how to fly, and lead by example.

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” – Robert Fulghum

People aren’t all that different. More specifically, I’m not that different.

My nest, however, isn’t made of sticks or straw. My nest is a series of jobs I managed to pick up over the years and a career I built up along the way. And I’m not complaining about my nest. The people I’ve met along the way have been great. I’ve traveled the world and got to see first hand how things were made. It gave me opportunities I might never have imagined for myself. I am as proud of what I built as I am of my other accomplishments.

However, my nest no longer fit like it once did. While it still kept the cold out, the straw I’d grown so comfortable in over the years no longer provided the same amount of cushioning. The sticks I’d woven together itched my feathers in ways I couldn’t fully explain and the gaps in my nest’s construction were no longer something I could ignore.

“Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be” – Jon Bon Jovi

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Just another normal day at the office.

I was left with two options: rebuild it by re-weaving together bits and pieces of my existing nest, hopeful that the results would prove adequate for my needs, or I could take a chance, stretch my wings, and try something new.

An opportunity appeared and I took it.

This month, I am starting a new job with a company I’ve never worked with before. It is the first time I’ve been able to say that in more than fifteen years.

I am frankly terrified. What if I am making a mistake? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I fall?

“Too often, the opportunity knocks, but by the time you push back the chain, push back the bolt, unhook the two locks and shut off the burglar alarm, it’s too late.” – Rita Coolidge

I don’t know how these new sticks will fit together or how well they’ll prove to keep out the rain, but I’m excited to say that I’ve tried.

When people ask me what I do, I will be able to say I’m a full-time writer (though I’ll always be an author, engineer, project manager, designer and a self-professed geek too – once you have the knack, it never leaves you).

What will this mean for my blog?

Hopefully nothing other than my blog becoming an on-going example of someone who chose to take a chance on themselves, which in a way was the point of me starting in the first place and why I’ve always been drawn to topics about goals, and risk, and determination.

But that’s the thing about chances – only time will tell which way they’ll go. You have to take them anyway if you ever want to grow. One thing’s for sure though:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

I will be taking next week off to give myself time to say my goodbyes in and around the office while preparing for my next step forward, but I hope to report back from the other side very soon.


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The AllTrails App: How one simple tool helped me discover hidden paths and secret trails in my backyard

How one simple tool helped me discover hidden paths and secret trails in my backyardThe temperature was a comfortable, albeit cool, 61 degrees F as we reached our destination – a log cabin located in North Carolina’s high country, which my dad and stepmom had rented for the week. The cabin’s interior was a gorgeous open floor plan featuring exposed wood from floor to ceiling. The exterior … well, the home’s exterior was fine, but the view? Not so much.

After driving on a dirt and gravel road around the mountainous hillside, we couldn’t for the life of us figure out why the cabin was built where it was. It wasn’t for the isolation. There were at least two other homes that shared the same drive with porches visible from any of the cabin’s windows. It wasn’t for the vistas. This was Christmas Tree country and rows upon unnaturally orderly rows of Fraser Firs filled much of the landscape, although even that view was blocked by the cabin’s position on the slope. It wasn’t for the late night dining either as we learned that most of the nearby restaurants closed between eight and eight thirty.

Still, it existed for some reason, so we figured we might as well utilize it the best we knew how – as a launching spot for the always memorable family waterfall hunt. The only problem was we also weren’t near some of the more well-known trails scattered throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, but we were still in an area with a cell phone signal.

I discovered the AllTrails App.

AllTrails Review - www.alliepottswrites.com #hiking #appWhat I liked about this app (aside from the price) was the ability to filter out the trails to those that:

  1. contained a waterfall – as it wouldn’t be much of a waterfall hunt without that element
  2. allowed for dogs on the trail – as Her Royal Highness really hates to be left behind during royal tours of her kingdom
  3. are kid-friendly – okay let’s be honest – I needed the trail to be Allie-friendly

A few taps of the filter pane later several trails were suggested within a short drive away and there was even a map to the trail entry point as well as an elevation map of the trail itself and reviews by other hikers so I had a general idea how the hike might go before we found ourselves in the middle of the woods.

What I didn’t like? When I selected my filters, the list of resulting trails didn’t automatically refresh as one might think it should, but I realized the error as soon as I saw a trail marked as HARD still on the list, so it wasn’t too difficult to fix with a manual refresh.

I narrowed the list of options down to two potential trails – one moderate and one described as more of a wooded walking path than hike. We packed lunches, piled into the car, and soon were on our way.

Our first destination was the Crab Orchard Falls trail which begins behind a church and historic mission school near-ish to the North Carolina and Tennessee border. Thank goodness for the GPS with the app or we might never have found the trail’s entrance.

I’m glad we decided to do this one first as the entire first half of the trail was at a steep incline, which wrapped itself around the mountainside. But then, just as my calves were beginning to complain, we heard it. The unmistakable roar of water crashing.

Crab Orchard Falls NC - www.alliepottswrites.com #hiking #travelCrab Orchard Falls NC - www.alliepottswrites.com #hiking #travel

It is amazing how much easier it is to complete a difficult task once the goal is in sight.

We spent time among the moss-covered rocks at the base of the falls, snapping photos while ensuring that none of the younger set (including Her Royal Highness) decided to go for an impromptu swim while tossing leaves, rocks, and branches in the current if only to see how fast they can travel.

After returning to our car and eating our packed lunch we made our way to our second destination – the Cascades Trail located off the Blue Ridge Parkway. This time the path was easier to find as well as easier to walk, sloping gently away from one of the parkway’s scenic overlooks. A narrow creek babbled to our side. The creek widened. Water cascaded over the rocks creating tiny rapids. We stopped to take more pictures figuring this had to be the area that gave the trail its name.

It was beautiful to be sure, but hardly impressive after seeing Crab Orchard Falls. Still, we kept going knowing that the trail would loop around and eventually put us back out at the parking lot. We crossed a wooden bridge and saw stairs made out of stone. And that’s when we heard it again. The unmistakable roar of crashing water.

Cascades Falls NC - www.alliepottswrites.com #hiking #travelCascades Falls NC - www.alliepottswrites.com #hiking #travel

A thin but massive fall with a near vertical drop to the valley below. Gorgeous, wild, and a complete surprise to us all.

It may be easier to achieve a goal when you have it in sight, but it is even more rewarding when you still manage to reach it based on good-faith and follow-through alone.

If you give your husband a truck continued – The Chuck Box: Part Deux

In my effort to provide a humorous spin on a project taking up space in my garage for far too long, I inadvertently offended the mighty carpenter / do-it-yourselfer / mad-engineer that is my other half by posting an image that did properly convey the amount of hard work he put into his creation, nor its sheer awesomeness.

[Warning! The following is an advertisement and may contain views and opinions that do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial or writing staff of http://www.alliepottswrites.com.

Participants were not paid for their time.]

I give you –

THE CHUCK BOX: Part Deux.

Measuring 33.5″ tall, 60″ long, and 24.5″ deep (0.85m x 1.524m x 0.6223m) and goodness knows how many pounds in its ‘closed’ position, the chuck box (which could also be described as a tiny home kitchenette) has everything one might need to create a home-cooked meal, even when you are miles from home including a working sink operated by a foot pump as well as a double burning gas-powered grill with gas storage tank. Utensils are also within ready reach as are (my personal favorite) a trio of travel wine glasses.

But that’s not all.

The entire top flips a mind-boggling 180 degrees thanks to a well-placed piano hinge. A pair of hidden legs then extends to provide this lucky chuck box owner an extra meal prep counter space.

But your taste buds aren’t the only things to get a workout thanks to this monument of epic engineering.

There’s more?

Feast your eyes on an optional audio-visual extravaganza complete with flat screen tv, speaker system, power bar, remote caddy, and over the air extended antenna. This detachable system is perfect for keeping small children (and those full-grown) entertained for hours and is especially handy during long tailgates throughout football season.

How do all these awesome electronics operate? I’m glad you asked. The A/V system is run off a portable solar panel plus inverter (not pictured), which my other half will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about if you ever ask him.

But wait, we’re still not done!

When it is time to pack up, the entire box closes like a traveling steam truck of old protecting its contents until the next time you journey off to create new memories.

Act Now. Limited Quantities. Time is running out!

I wish I could say contact my other half here for questions about what it would take to get yourself one of these marvels, except we have yet to figure out how to lift the thing high enough to fit on the trailer hitch.

However, knowing my other half, he already has a few ideas as to how to solve that problem as well. My guess? Those ideas will be equally awesome, but take up the remaining space in the garage for the foreseeable future.

Until next time!

 

If you give your husband a truck…

If you give your husband a truck - www.alliepottswrites.com

Inspired by Laura Numeroff’s If you give a ___ a ___ books

If you give your husband a truck (or SUV with 4 wheel drive), he’s going to want to take it off-roading.

When he looks for places to go off-roading, he’s going to locate an accessible beach.

He’ll want to spend the whole weekend there, so he’ll want to invite his friends.

He’ll call them all and start to plan.

When he’s making his plan, he’ll realize they’ll need food to eat. Thinking about the food will make him think about how they will store and prepare it.

He’ll want to bring a grill.

You’ll have to get some charcoal

and a cooler (or two).

Moving Day

Not our car, but not far off. Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com

Of course, he’ll also want to try everything out before his trip.

He’ll ask you to taste test his recipes.

He’ll hit a home run.

Then we’ll all do a happy dance to celebrate.

Dancing after eating so much food will be uncomfortable, so he’ll want to lie down to digest.

He’ll probably start thinking of how much space his and his buddies’ supplies will take up and how uncomfortable the ride will be.

He’ll have to get a trailer hitch.

He’ll see how much room he now has to play with and he’ll think of ways to fill it.

Then he’ll discover a thing called a chuck box.

He’ll find some wood and want to make one himself.

You’ll watch him get hooks, hinges, and a tiny working sink.

When the chuck box is finished,

… when the chuck box is finished…

… when two months of weekends spent in the garage have passed and the chuck box is still not finished,

you both will want to get out of the house.

Wanting to get out of the house will cause him to spend more time thinking places his truck can take you.

And chances are,

if he thinks about his truck (or SUV),

he’ll want to take it off-roading.

Our Chuck Box - www.alliepottswrites.com

The work in progress. Seriously, it has a kitchen sink.