Before and After. Thoughts on life before quarantine and “new normals”

People keep talking about the new normal we’re going to have to adjust to when things start to open back up. I have mixed feelings about this phrase because I have mixed feelings about what life in quarantine has been like. The things I will miss and the things I won’t miss if and when life starts to resemble before.

Before quarantine I would stop into a favorite coffee shop for a latte and a treat. Sometimes I’d meet friends. Sometimes I would simply be taking a moment for myself between errands.

Most of these coffee shops will let me pick up these goodies to go, but I haven’t taken advantage of this because it seems like it was never about the latte, it was about the place and the people.

These days my morning starts with making a big pot of coffee to share with my husband who is working from home (though it sounds like he’ll be going back to the office soon). In between meetings we meet in the kitchen and pour another cup and chat about our day so far and discuss dinner. Usually he makes us bacon and eggs for lunch. I’ll be honest, this new ritual is something I’ll miss when he goes back to work.

Right before the spring break that never really ended I chaperoned a field trip to the planetarium with my fifth grader. It’s a favorite field trip of mine and I’m glad it wasn’t one of the many that was cancelled.

I miss volunteering in the kid’s classes, serving lunch to their smiling faces, going on field trips and catching up with school moms. We chat on Facebook but it’s not the same.

That said, I don’t miss the early morning rush or the driving from activity to activity at all. I secretly love having the kids at home all day. Don’t get me wrong, my introvert frequently burns out from the chatter, but I don’t hate midday cuddles and late bedtimes.

Before quarantine I bought a travel watercolor set so that I could paint on the go. That entire sentence seems foreign to me now.

I also carried around a book to read in the car during school pick up because nighttime reading was often sacrificed because of exhaustion. These days I have all the time I need for hobbies. I’m reading three books at a time. I play video games every day, y’all. We watch family movies multiple times a week.

I don’t miss being tired from running errands and saying yes to too many things. I don’t miss the busy. I love a lot of things about this forced slow down. And yet…

I do miss going to Target to look at absolutely nothing. I miss shopping without a mask. I miss a trip to the grocery store not leaving me emotionally exhausted for at least an hour. I miss seeing friends and kissing babies and smiling at cashiers and not cringing about 6 feet of separation.

I know it feels petty to complain about little things like wanting to grab coffee at Starbucks or visit a friend. But we all know it’s not about that really. It’s about being able to breathe and stretch and exist in the world – to smile and laugh and hug each other. That’s all I want.

What Would The First Lady Say? 10 Quotes for Moving Forward.


Is anyone else just exhausted with the world right now? I’m not going to get political because ugh my heart is just not hearing it right now and I think that you can already find those kinds of words on literally every corner of the internet right now.

But if you are running low on motivation and momentum and just need to hear something to pick you back up again so you can log onto Facebook without hurting somebody, keep scrolling. I’ve often found that many of the first ladies of our country’s history are the real rock stars in the White House.

I’ve found myself turning to them a lot these past few months – they are a wellspring of motivation and as I dug into the internet this morning I found loads of amazing quotes from First Ladies over the years. Here are some of my favorites:

Michelle Obama

To get yourself off the floor and moving forward.


Eleanor Roosevelt

For when you are feeling down on yourself or feeling the need to defend your opinions.


Martha Washington

For when you can’t seem to find that happy anywhere!


Abigail Adams

When you find yourself in discussion with people you don’t agree with.


Laura Bush

Because we are more united than the Media wants us to believe.


Rosalynn Carter

For when you want to know what you can do to make a difference.


What do your clothes say about you?

I was folding my daughter’s laundry last night and chuckling to myself over the absolute cuteness and chaos of the various patterns of leggings she has amassed lately.

Being a terribly fashionable seven year old diva, she has a lot of opinions about her wardrobe these days and other than financing her endeavors, I don’t have an awful lot of involvement over her outfit selections these days. She’s a spunky risk taker with a love for vibrant colors and sparkly patterns.

16114083_10101111748668966_3215905868438196703_nIn some ways I feel like this description doesn’t just describe her fashion sense, it describes her whole personality. Everything about my daughter is sparkly and colorful. She’s a vibrant person from her headband to her tippy toes. She laughs hard, dances always and can’t even brush her teeth without singing. She makes her own rules and lives by her own ideals – for better or worse some days!

I snapped a picture of her leggings and posted it on Instagram and Facebook, and then kept folding but I also kept thing…. If her wardrobe could be considered an extension of her personality – is the same true for the rest of the family? Does my husband have a plaid / khaki personality? Is my ten year old essentially a pile of t-shirts and running pants on the bedroom floor? What does my wardrobe say about me?


Curiosity piqued, I went upstairs and took a picture of the blouses in my closet. If legging are the defining statement of my daughter’s wardrobe, my tops are definitely mine. And while the colors are more muted (I’m going through a black and gray season and I’m not sure if it’s because of the weather or more permanent – time will tell), I’m also really proud of this little wardrobe of mine. I’ve been working hard to curate a closet of clothes I love, even going so far as to find hangers that I love so they can have the luxe treatment while they wait for their day in rotation.

It’s true, I love a black t-shirt and the colors that sneak into my wardrobe are somewhat rare these days but I also see a closet full of shirts that are buttery soft and well fitting. They are carefully selected team players that don’t shout for attention but spend their day taking care of the not unimportant task of making me feel comfortable and well cared for while I take care of the people around me.

What do you think your wardrobe says about you?

5 Little Happiness Boosting Ideas.

this is how we do

Lately I’ve been feeling weighed down by the little itty bits of every day life. The kids and marriage are great, I have wonderful friends, my family is doing well and the weather is gorgeous. The mental checklist of “Big Happy Things” can be checked and double checked. So the blahs are coming from the little things – the ruts and routines that we fall into and repeat daily because we haven’t asked ourselves why recently.

So I’ve been taking baby steps towards cutting out any ruts that aren’t working as a routine for myself or my family and reevaluating those itty bitty details of daily life. How can I cultivate habits that build me up instead of slowly draining me. Here are some of my ideas.

  1. Clutter for me is often a big culprit to my over all mood. Sometimes, when a room has gotten out of control, I can feel my mood darken just by walking into it. Piles of clutter are an unfortunately common occurrence in our home (yours too?) and though I’ve never found a way to eliminate it entirely, I do try to find new ideas to tackle certain areas and improve their functionality. A new basket to hold the 8,000 remotes in the living room, a bulletin board to hang up all the random schedules and important school information. Or even just finding an actual home for the things in our house which seem to be nomadic by default.
  2. Drama shows are addictive but as someone who tends to get highly absorbed by the lives of the characters in these shows, sometimes there are just too many fictional people to worry about. Lately I’ve been gravitating towards comedies and I’ve been slowly cutting down on shows that don’t make me laugh / leave me feeling happy, like the dramas that have been too dramatic and are weighing on my soul. If you are flipping through your DVR and feel any animosity towards watching a backlog of shows that have recorded, give yourself the freedom to walk away. 
  3. Similarly, read something happy. There is plenty of time for lofty literary fiction or thought provoking non-fiction. If you need a lift, I highly recommend reading something funny. I love all the new celebrity / comedian memoirs that have been coming out lately and picked up a copy of Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch at the used book store this week. The first pages of the book instantly made me smile – just what the doctor ordered!
  4. Listen to an uplifting song and if possible, dance. Liven up mundane chores or long commutes with music that makes you happy. If the morning DJ on your daily commute irritates you, stop listening to the station and find something else. Take a break from paperwork and have a mini jam session until your head is back in the game. I recommend: Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor or Iggy Azalea these days but I’m guessing you already have a few songs in mind of your own.
  5. If all else fails, get outside and take a walk or do some laps at the gym. Exercise is a great mood lifter even though up until the workout, it usually feels like a terrible idea to me – I never regret getting in a good walk. Bonus boost: listen to those uplifting tunes while you walk or find a good friend to walk with you. Then it feels less like exercise and more like a break.

These are just a few of my favorite ways to lift my mood.

What are your favorite tricks for getting happy?

Music vs. Poetry.

music vs poetry

We’d spent the afternoon explaining The Beatles and Yoko Ono to the kids. The casual lecture lingered on throughout dinner to cover peace activism and the Civil Rights Movement because we’re huge nerds who have a hard time staying on topic. We watched Imagine by John Lennon on Youtube, followed by BNL’s You Can Be My Yoko Ono and talked about communism and the Cold War. Once we’d thoroughly bored our four and eight year old, we headed into the kitchen to clean up the dishes from dinner.

The BNL lyrics continued to linger in my mind and I sang softly as I rinsed dishes, my husband joining in. Hopefully I sounded better than Yoko Ono, but this is not confirmed. After I’d sung one of the lines, he laughed and commented, “You don’t hear the music in your head when you sing, do you?

It wasn’t a jab or a criticism really, just a comment on how differently our brains work. One clear distinction between my husband and I (apart from the height difference and the facial hair) is that when it comes to music – the actual instrumental stuff is what’s most important to him at the end of the day and for me it’s about the lyrics.

I commented that night that without the lyrics, Imagine by John Lennon wouldn’t be remembered and appreciated by the general public, thus lyrics win. Dan argued that without the music it wouldn’t be remembered either, that poetry is not as widely followed as music, thus music wins. I heartily disagreed so he asked for examples of poetry that one would assume EVERYONE knows. At which point I turned into a sarcastic 4th grader.

Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore! I stammered out awkwardly, to which he argued that this was a linguistic something or other big words here and not a real poem.

Roses are red, violets are blue, I countered. A nursery rhyme he insisted, it doesn’t count.

How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways! Hah! I thought, good luck ignoring Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He ignored it. I continued.

There once was a man from Nantucket!

I was making his point for him and I knew it so started quoting e.e. cummings, a favorite of mine, even though I know that his poetry is nowhere near as widely followed as John Lennon or The Beatles (though no less extraordinary) but who cares?? Poetry is music, it’s just more subtle – you have to find the rhythm on your own.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

What do you think? Poetry or music?

What’s your favorite poem?

What’s your favorite song?

The perfect line.

this is me staring at my shoes so I won't see you judging me.
this is me staring at my shoes so I won’t see you judging me.

You know when you read a line in a book, blog post or buzzfeed article, etc. that is just so perfect that it will not leave your mind. You keep whispering it over and over – in your mind though, not out loud because you’re not crazy… Okay, maybe once or twice out loud just to see how the words feel in your mouth. And maybe you read it out loud to your husband or best friend just to see if it’s as legendary to them as it is to you. Life changing, really. 

But usually they just kinda stare at you for a minute and then go back to reading their own book with their own perfect lines or they placate you and agree it’s fantastic but you know they are just trying to make you feel better.

But the line won’t leave you because it’s brilliant and pure and nothing has ever been said that well before. It’s a game changer, really. You think about maybe borrowing it and using it yourself somewhere but probably it will lose all of it’s magic then because it will never really be perfect again once everyone starts using it. It will just turn into YOLO or selfie and it will totally jump the shark and become, like, ohmigod, so yesterday. Whatev.

Some examples of recent perfect lines:

He ran his hand through his hair. Like he was confirming that it was still messy.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Am I crazy or is this the perfect description? I feel like in these two sentences I now understand and know Levi completely. I can instantly picture him and remember guys that were just like this. Yeah I totally read it out loud to my husband and re-read it at least five times because it just…

Another one that keeps invading my brain I think I’ve maybe read a few times now and it’s probably like a major thing that everyone is saying and now I can’t remember where exactly I read it most recently but a quick search of the ole google confirms that all the feels or just the feels or feels is a whole verbal party that I was never invited to, you know, like always. And now that I know how opressively hipster and trendy it is, I will probably never use the word ever again. But…

You know???

Okay, it’s share time. Tell me your “perfect line” that you can’t get out of your head and I’ll try to squeal and admire it appropriately – no placating whatevs, promise.