Monday, June 25, 2012

Aloha (The Great Escape)

To celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary, my 30th birthday and more generally, a year with somewhat less craziness that its predecessor, Brian and I headed for the big island of Hawai'i. Having planned this trip back in the winter, we went back and forth and back again on whether or not to tote our toddler along.  We hadn't found our last tropical vacation particularly relaxing, what with recovering from c-sections and heart attacks, though it was nice to get away. So this year, we left Cameron to the wolves (the wolves being two sets of loving, spoiling, over-indulging grandparents who could barely contain themselves at the prospect of having him for stretches of days). As it drew closer and closer to our departure, I worried about leaving him here.  I worried that he'd miss us and that he'd be lonely. I worried that something tragic and terrible would happen and I'd be so far away. Logically (of course), I knew he'd be safe and sound.  Still, I couldn't help but wonder if we were terrible abandoners.

And then, when I boarded our first flight, destined for Salt Lake City, a switch flipped. As I snuggled into my airplane blanket, skimming the first few pages of my smutty vacation read, Fifty Shades of Grey, I realized how excited I was to have a week away, a week alone with the love of my life. A week of uninterrupted sleep. Where the only bottles were of beer and wine.  Where I could wear cute dresses and jewelry and my hair down without fear of the little destroyer wreaking havoc on my ensemble. Where we could be in car together without singing toddler tune. Sometimes, it's nice to take the mommy hat off and shrug back into the different kind of joy that is being a young and carefree newlywed.  Cameron would be just fine. And so would we. My, how the week flew by.

I tried to wear flowers every day we were there - you could wear a flower in an STL summer for about 5 minutes before it would wilt and shrivel in the humid heat.

Lucky me. A post-dinner foot rub!

We shared the most delightful meals and I found a number of
heart healthy options on the island.

The resort had about 20 pools.  This was our favorite - it was tucked away from 
the crowds with stunning view of the Pacific. We spent most of my birthday day here.

Contrary to my belief, there are not people who stand around with leis waiting to flower you.  While I napped, Brian snuck out and found this beautiful lei for me! 

Everyone kept asking us if we were on our honeymoon.  
This made us feel young!

We drove a few hours to Volcanoes National Park and stopped off at a winery.

We spent two of our evenings snuggled up on a lounger overlooking the ocean at the edge of our resort. We laughed alot and debated the plausibility of moving to Hawai'i (We could send for Cam! Our house is already sold! We both have the flexibility to work from home! Friends and family would love to visit!) As our vacation neared its end, we started to miss a few things about home, especially our little boy and little dog. It turns out that alot can happen in a week - Cameron had completely transitioned from crawling to walking (perhaps more to explore at grandma's?), added "car", "bottle", "kitty" to his vocabulary, and was in DESPERATE need of a haircut. When we finally arrived on my parents doorstep to retrieve him, I saw what a happy, well-adjusted boy we'd left behind. He broke into a toothy grin and I scooped him away from Brian to make sure he still smelled like my baby and not like a dirty little puppy dog tail. Admittedly, he wasn't too thrilled to leave grandma's and grandma wasn't especially happy to give him up, but the two parties were able to separate with the promise they'd see each other in just a few days.

We've only been home a few days and already, are knee-deep in our "regular life".  With about a week left in this house, Brian and I have started to pack this life up in preparation for our move.  I'm so glad that even with the busy-ness that life present, we were still able to prioritize time away.  While in Hawai'i, Brian started to plan our next major getaway, which he's hypothetically sandwiched in between settling in our new house (yet to be identified) and starting the adoption process.  Presently, I am happy to still be sporting a rosy vacation glow and know that when the time comes, Cameron will one day, have a blast on vacation with us.

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."  ~Lin Yutang

Monday, June 4, 2012

I plan on having the best parties when I’m 30

So.  A few days ago, I mapped out my blogs for the next few weeks because I've had a lot of things swimming around in my head.  I had stumbled upon this article, Turning 30,  quite awhile ago and thought I'd use it as my jumping off point (feel free to read it, it's still good!)

Then, this morning, as I was driving to work, I heard the sad story of a Yale student who wrote a really great end-of-year article (ie Baz Luhrmann, Wear Sunscreen) who promptly died in a terrible car accident.  You can find her essay, "The Opposite of Loneliness" here.  You should definitely read it.

When I was 22, I was on a mission to change..nay, save, the world. All through college, I dreamed of getting my MD, JD, PhD and whatever else I'd need to be the super-star-Chief-Justice-of-the-Supreme-Court-while-juggling-my-equally-awesome-role-as-Surgeon-General.  I would have married & completed my family by age 26 (a older daughter and twins) and live in a lovely home with my handsome, stay at home husband who joined me on trips to developing nations to save babies and women every summer.  Are you laughing yet?  Talk about impossibly high and ridiculous expectations! So how, amid all these dreams, do you really find happiness?  Marina makes a great point:

"Of course, there are things we wished we did .... We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners....... But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to...... We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay......There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement."

You know, the thing is - I had all these dreams about what the future should look like.... that I had no idea of how amazing it could be. In 16 days, which I can only imagine will fly by, I will turn 30.  In thirty years, I think I've racked up quite a few accomplishments. I won a jar of candy corns in first grade because my guess of how many were in the jar was closest to the actual.  Perhaps of more worth, I won both the Geography & Spelling Bees in 8th grade.  Freshmen year of high school, I was voted Penny Queen. As a gymnast, I excelled at vault and set a new record for my gym, Olympiad North.  I made it through college and my masters without incident and proudly display "MPPA" in my work email's signature. At the age of 23, I was chosen to open a pilot store for Banana Republic which morphed into a Campus General Manager position for a $4 million dollar business with over 100 employees.  After making a brave leap to the nonprofit sector, I now fundraise for a local school with the radical notion that all children can be successful with the education we provide.  I met and married my perfect match, have the cutest child on earth (clearly, my biggest & best accomplishment) and survived a heart attack at the age of 28.

Whew.  Not the fancy-schmancy large scale world-changin' I planned for..... but, more amazing than I ever, EVER could have imagined. I'm not where I thought I'd be or planned to be.  It never occurred to me that living -thriving- didn't have to be about me changing the world.  Clearly, my world has changed me.

I have never particularly been afraid of turning 30.  And after the last year, quite frankly, I'm glad I'm not pushing up the daisies somewhere. So, as Marina says:

"But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clich├ęd “should haves...” “if I’d...” “wish I’d...”

Last summer, I started writing a bucket list. I still want to do all these things and will get to do a few soon-ish) (hike in a rainforest, adopt a daughter). Others are not too far after that I hope (write a book, attend Fashion Week).  But, really, I'm not sure if these things really matter (well, besides the adopting another kid piece).  Sure, they make for good memories and funny stories and great picture albums.  But when I think about all the things that stand out to me about my first 30 years, they matter because of who I was with and how they made me feel.

30 (and 40, 65, 87 and 100!) will be what I make it. And, I plan to make it awesome.

RIP Marina.  And thank you, for leaving this amazing piece of yourself behind.

"What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious...... We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have." -Marina Keegan

PS: And I do plan to have the best parties when I'm 30. I am grateful every day - my best is both here and yet to come :)