At Our So-Called Life, I wrote about our journey to minimalism and our sailing trip on the Lakes. On Our Journey to Ithaca. I wrote about our move to Texas and the first two boats we lived on down here.
This blog has been about Loco Lobo, a floating house that we no longer own. Loco’s story will now be told by the couple who is fixing her up and making her beautiful.
Meanwhile, we aren’t going anywhere. Texas is home. Maybe someday when we retire, we will disappear over the horizon. But when you have found perfection, there is no reason to disappear.
With that being said, I am ending this blog and beginning a new one, Finding Home. I hope that you will join us there!
I grew up in a very conservative town in a “purple state,” and when people asked me about my political leanings, I said, “a bit left of Democrat.” I was quite happily a liberal hippie chick, and I worked at a school where one of the teachers actually wore a “moveon.org” t-shirt to work.
While we were collecting waste vegetable oil for our “greasel” Mercedes, washing cloth diapers, and observing “buy nothing day” instead of black Friday, we would fantasize about moving to California. In 2008, we decided we would move there in 5 years.
5 years later, on August 1, 2013, we did, indeed move across the country. We packed all of our possessions in our Volvo station wagon and arrived in the place I now love to call “home.” But we must have taken a wrong turn, because that place is…..wait….where?
I loved Texas the day we arrived, and I’ve only grown to love it more over the past 9 years. Even in the current political climate, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Here are the reasons why I love living in Texas–specifically in the Houston/Galveston area:
1. The Kindest People in the World Live in Texas.
While Texas is a very large state, and Houston is a very large city, overall, people here are unbelievably nice and social. It is a much more polite culture than the midwest U.S., but there is also a kindness that runs a lot deeper. Friends are fiercely loyal and infinitely forgiving. And if somebody is going through a hard time, everybody rallies.
2. People are Extremely Generous.
If you are here long enough, someone WILL pay for your coffee at Starbuck’s. When I was on medical leave and didn’t have a paycheck, we had help with everything imaginable. Iliana’s school donated enough gifts for her to have a mountain under the tree, and a church provided us with a turkey for Thanksgiving. If someone is short on money in the grocery line, someone will cover it. Generosity and paying it forward are simply a way of life here.
3. This Area is Very Diverse
Houston is the most diverse city in the U.S. And while people in Michigan usually only socialized with those of a similar race or ethnicity, in Houston, everyone hangs out with everyone. Our first friends in Texas were a group of Mexican-Americans in a branch of the Moped Army. When we first moved down here, Iliana made some new imaginary friends, and they all had different skin colors. If you live here long enough, you will have friends who are a different race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and political affiliation than you.
4. The Food Here is Very, Very, Very Good!
My first day at my new job down here, they provided us with breakfast tacos. I had not been aware that tacos can be eaten at every meal, and the tacos here are nothing like the creamy, cheesy tacos we had up north. I have also discovered kolaches, pho, a million varieties of sushi, tamales, ceviche, street corn, Indian food, cajun food, and every type of fusion you could imagine! Food here is simple, spicy, and flavorful.
5. Every Kind of Weekend Getaway is 30 Minutes Away.
Where we live, it’s easy to book an air BNB or campsite for a day off. We are 30-45 minutes from the beach or the Strand in Galveston, the Bolivar Peninsula (beach camping), downtown Houston, the Montrose neighborhood, or Brazos Bend state park in the woods. And if we want to stay home, we can sail on the bay or anchor out at Redfish Island.
6. There are a Lot of Options with Schools Here.
I stop short of saying that I like teaching better in Texas, because that is not entirely true. I like that Texas does not have the top-to-bottom list that did more harm than good in Michigan, and I like that test scores are not as large a percentage of teacher evaluations here. Charter schools are also non-profit in Texas, which has reduced corruption. However, Texas does not really have teacher unions–the bad situation I was in back in 2017-18 would not have happened in Michigan. Michigan also has school of choice statewide, which is very nice. So at my former job, teaching in Texas was worse, but my current position as special education department lead for a small charter school is much better than any job I had in Michigan. Autism and dyslexia interventions are also much better in Texas.
7. There are a Lot of Jobs Here.
I stayed in my job in Michigan for 10 years. It wasn’t a perfect fit for me, but it had a paycheck. I would never, never have imagined quitting a job without having something else lined up. Such is the thinking in the rust belt. Here, I left an unpleasant job with nothing lined up, had an income as soon as I was ready, and found my current job very quickly.
8. It is Easy to Find Your Tribe Here.
Houston is the fourth largest city in the US. No matter what you are into, you will be able to find your tribe. We immediately felt at home the first time we walked a marina, and now the vast majority of my friends are people I have met in yoga class. We had a hard time finding friends in Michigan, and the friends we did have, lived about an hour away.
9. There are Advantages to NOT Being in an Echo Chamber.
So what about politics and religion? I’ve learned that, first, it is possible to have close friendships with people, without ever discussing these subjects. I have also had close friendships with people who have different views. This has helped us to better understand each other, and to be skeptical of the “news” we have read or heard.
Yesterday was my Tex-a-Versary–we have now lived in Texas for nine years! I still think moving here was one of the smartest things we have ever done, and I have definitely grown from my time here.
When I lived in Michigan, I went grocery shopping every Saturday.
I started out by going to the two discount food stores at the opening to our neighborhood. They carried grocery salvage and overstock–a lot of pre-packaged organic products and snacks for Iliana.
One of the stores is still in business. Here is their Facebook page! Then it was time to head out to Amish country.
The Amish prefer not to be photographed, so I am using a photo from mlive.com.
My first stop was at a discount food store, where I got more pre-packaged discount goods, along with some local cheese. Further down the road was a bulk food store, where I got milk, eggs, corn, and any other fruits and vegetables that were in season.
I jogged over to a different road going in the same direction, where I found a store run by Mennonites. They offered fresh produce (usually a lot of bell peppers!), bulk detergent, and wonderful jams.
I would stop at the farmer’s market in the town of Mount Pleasant, before arriving at Greentree Grocery, the food co-op.
Even when we were sailing, we were very excited to find a “Real Food Store” when we were in Manistee!
After our recent trip to Michigan, I decided to recapture some of the magic from my crunchy days. I mean, we live in Texas. Even though we are in an urban area, there have to be farms somewhere nearby. It is Houston, after all, where cows randomly graze in pastures throughout the city…
I renewed my membership at Natural Living, our local food co-op, and put in an order for a small box of vegetables and a large box of fruit.
Meat was a little trickier. In Michigan, I bought humanely raised, antibiotic-free meat that was not yet certified organic. I did not find any of that available in our area, so I ordered it online from butcherbox.com. We were pleased with our first box, and Rob had some fun making potion out of the dried ice they used to package it!
I found a “real food store” on the other side of Clear Lake, that was pricey but had absolutely anything I could possibly think of.
So now it was time to find a farm.
I love the eggs from a place called Kenz Henz, about 15 miles away in Santa Fe. These eggs were pricey at the grocery store, so I was very excited when I saw on social media, that they had a surplus of medium eggs that they would be selling for $1.33 a dozen! The catch? You had to buy a box of 15 dozen.
Of course this presented a challenge.
We live on a boat, so storing 15 dozen eggs would be nearly impossible. And even if we did, using up 15 dozen eggs quickly enough that they would still be fresh would involve eating more eggs that I was interested in doing.
In Michigan, we did a lot of buying co-ops in situations like this. And so it was time to start what Rob dubbed the Egg Syndicate.
I started with my mom, who definitely wanted a couple dozen. After sending out a few texts to friends in my yoga class, I easily had people buying over half of the eggs. I would be left with a just-right amount of 7 dozen.
So, Saturday morning, I drove to Santa Fe.
I left early, because I discovered that a dairy farm was on the way. Raw milk can actually be sold in Texas, without any of the weird arrangements we had to make in Michigan. (Which also means that raw milk is regulated in Texas, so it is safer). I pasteurize raw milk when I buy it, but I am able to do it at a much lower temperature and for a shorter amount of time than the commercial farms, so the taste is not affected much. (161 degrees for 15 seconds, if you were wondering).
Anyway, I stopped at Healthyway Dairy. Here, the fresh milk is shelved based on the cow it came from, and you pay in cash or on Venmo, using the honor system. Getting here early is important, because they usually run out of milk before 9:00. I chose some milk from Sandy and left $11 in the box.
I killed some time driving around, because I knew that Kenz Henz opened at 8:30. I later regretted that decision, because there was a very long line of cars waiting for their box of 15 dozen eggs!
I was due at yoga at 9:30, and my friend, Shannon, was teaching class. She knew what I was up to, since, of course, she was expecting two dozen eggs! I texted her a heads-up that the line was crazy. I said I would let her know if I was going to be able to make it in time for class.
Clearly, this was not Kenz Henz’s first rodeo, because the line moved impressively fast. I was through the line by 9:10, and it was a 20 minute drive to the yoga studio. Shannon got out my mat for me, and I arrived just in time!
The next two days, I was randomly showing up at the yoga studio with eggs, and the funny part is that nobody thought that was strange or even unexpected.
So here we are, all stocked up on farm-fresh crunchy food. I figure I should share some recipes and ideas with y’all. To that end, I am going to start doing Crunchy Thursday, until I run out of ideas.
Iliana was born the day after the last day of school, so I decided to breastfeed her over the summer. It was a rough start, but with the help of the lactation consultant provided for free by the non-profit hospital where she was born, I was able to successfully feed her this way. In fact, it was so easy for me that I decided to not buy formula when I went back to work.
As Ili slept in a cradle next to our bed, so I could easily pick her up and feed her at night. When she outgrew the cradle, we had her sleep next to us in bed. Researching the safest ways to co-sleep, led us to Ask Dr. Sears, which happily had a forum. Here I learned about attachment parenting, which seemed very natural to us. Life was easier with Ili in a carrier, she took well to breastfeeding, and following her lead just seemed right.
The Dr. Sears forum led me to Mothering.com. The forum there led me to Michigan Natural Parenting. Here we learned about all things “crunchy” and supported each other through our choices with current research and informed (and respectful) debates. It wasn’t an all-or-nothing community. Some people only did one or two “crunchy” things, and some people did more. I experimented with some ideas and kept a few of them.
Rob made cloth diapers for Iliana, which saved us a lot of money and helped the environment. We made her baby food, and she self-weaned at 22 months. Ili was on 6 medications for GERD, and she was able to stop all of them after we started eating a low-glycemic diet (which is proven to help GERD).
When Iliana ended up in the hospital after having a series of live-virus vaccines, we knew to talk to her doctor about splitting up her next series, so that the live-virus shots were given one at a time (she doesn’t react to vaccines that are not live virus). This worked perfectly. She is fully vaccinated and did not have any reactions to the live-virus shots when they were given one at a time.
Sometimes on the MNP forum, we had discussions about current events and other issues not related to parenting. These, too were very respectful and informed, and I became much more educated and more understanding of other viewpoints, even if I still did not agree with them completely. Our group was very diverse, as far as political and religious views were concerned.
And the “crunchy” habits that people adopted were not divided along political lines. I had a friend who was very left-leaning, who selectively vaccinated. There were people with very conservative views, who also strived to create as little waste as possible. I inherited a huge collection of homemade cloth diapers from a friend with very conservative views! Most people extended breastfed, regardless of their political views.
It makes me sad when I see negative articles about attachment parenting, especially when they focus on what it is not. Yes, we would have been wise to wait a little longer before co-sleeping, but it is possible to attachment parent without co-sleeping at all. Different kids need different parenting styles, but the pendulum has definitely swung away from being child-centered. I think that following Iliana’s lead and making an effort to bond with her, are a lot of the reason she is doing so well now.
And it makes me really sad when natural parenting practices are politicized. Most recently, AAP has endorsed extended breastfeeding, and this has gotten tangled up with the reversal of Roe v. Wade. By saying that they support breastfeeding up to 2 years, they are not saying that everyone has to do it. Every parent has to make their choice, and the choice should not be dictated by political affiliation.
It was a prettier time, when ideas were just ideas, and we were free to explore them all, without worrying about what our “tribe” says we should do. Republicans need not drink only Pepsi, and Democrats need not drink only Coke. Let’s get back to thinking for ourselves again!
While we have been recovering from our road trip to Michigan, we also have been having some smaller adventures. Summers are much shorter than they used to be, but we are determined to have as much fun as possible!
Iliana is Off to Summer Camp!
On July 4, two days after we got home from our road trip, Iliana and I took a two-hour trip to Brenham, where she would be volunteering at Camp Blessing. Camp Blessing is a camp for kids and young adults with special needs, and Ili has been a camper there twice. This year, she was ready to volunteer as a cabin hand.
Even though I wasn’t there, the camp uploaded pictures during the week!
When I picked Ili up on the 9th, she and her new friends were excited to tell me about their antics during the week! She was also excited to tell me about all the campers in her cabin.
Of course, we stopped at Freezy Frenzy on the way home…
And we surprised Daddy with a Burger King crown that had “Dork” written on it! Um…it’s an inside joke…
While Iliana was at camp, Rob and I went out on our smaller sailboat, to watch the fireworks and celebrate the fourth of July!
21 Years! (And counting…)
Our anniversary is July 7, but Rob has Tuesdays and Wednesdays off during the summer, so we celebrated a little early. We were exhausted from the Michigan trip, so we decided to keep it low-key and rent a small unit in Montrose, which is one of our favorite destinations for a quick get-away. It’s hard to believe that next year, I will have been married for half of my life!
And of course we did some thrift shopping!
In the marina where we live, many people have flags on their boat, denoting their various views. There are some Trump and MAGA flags, some Pride flags, and other various flags.
Before we started all our traveling, the three of us sat down and discussed which flag would best demonstrate our views as a family. We found a very clear winner, and it arrived during the week.
I hope the rest of your July is egg-cellent as well!
We have just returned from our cross-country road trip, in our 1999 Jeep Cherokee. I thought tonight would be the perfect time to share some pictures and stories from our adventures.
Here is a picture of our Jeep:
We have owned this Jeep for 7 years, and we initially paid $1300 for it. It’s been “Old Reliable” over the years, so we decided it was time to take the Jeep on a road trip to Michigan, to visit family and friends.
Why Michigan? Well, we owned a house there 9 years ago…
We lived in Harrison, at the beginning of the “snow belt.” We bought a sailboat, an Islander I29 named Moonraker, when Iliana wasn’t 2 years old. We launched it for the first time in 2010, when Ili was 3. We tried cruising it the next year, but a navigational error led to us running aground and ending our season early. In 2013, we were finally successful, when we cruised from Bay City, on Lake Huron, to Grand Haven, on Lake Michigan, over the course of 93 days.
This changed us. We obsessed over our plans to sail the Great Loop (we weren’t that far from the Mississippi when we ended), but life had other plans. When things weren’t going well at work (I already hadn’t loved my job in a few years), we knew it was time for things to change.
We considered finding work in a port town on Lake Michigan and living aboard seasonally, but soon it became clear that the obvious answer would be to move to a warmer climate, where we could live aboard and sail year round. We had long fantasized about moving to California. In fact, in 2008, we had said that we would move to California in 5 years (although I hadn’t really meant it at the time). Again, life had other plans.
My brother in law and his wife had been living in Texas for 5 years, and they helped me to get a preliminary phone interview with the school district they worked for. After that, I had my foot in the door. Having never set foot in the state, I accepted a job offer after a Skype interview.
On August 1, 2013, we arrived in Texas.
That first year, we visited Michigan twice, but the visits (which were costly and time consuming) became less and less. The last time we visited was in 2018. I was unemployed and quite a bit heavier.
So my ego had a bit of a reason to be excited about this trip as well! On Friday, June 24, after Rob got out of work, we loaded up the Jeep and drove toward the Arkansas border, until we were sick of driving.
Day 0: From Kemah, Texas to Carthage, TX
Miles Traveled: 220
Happily, my Texas crab sticker arrived before we left that day. We were prepared!
This was our first time bringing Jasmine, our dog, on a road trip.
Our goal that night was to drive until we got sick of driving. I was hoping to make Texarkana, but we ended up stopping in Carthage. We decided to stay in a hotel due to the crazy heatwave that was going on in Texas. Thanks to Google Maps and the search feature, I found a reasonably priced hotel with a HUGE king room! (We have to problem sharing a bed, and we slept in close quarters for most of the trip).
Day 1: From Carthage, Texas to Terre Haute, Indiana
Miles traveled: 756
Total miles traveled: 974
The drive from Houston to Michigan is a 3 day trip, although we have really pushed in the past and done it in two. We knew that if we could make Terre Haute at the end of the day on June 25, we would be good to go. With the limited time we had, we were eager to see everyone!
So we left our hotel room at 7 am, Central Daylight Time, and arrived at the Terre Haute Campground by 7 pm, Eastern Daylight Time.
It was a long, long drive.
Jasmine took plenty of walks…
We crossed the Mississippi…
The campground we stayed at had previously been a KOA, but now it was independently owned. The office closed at 6, so we were unable to get firewood. I did not have success buying it from other campers, and I momentarily mourned the loss of Southern hospitality…
But our neighbors saw Ili and me looking for scrap wood and gave us plenty of wood, along with roasting forks! We enjoyed talking to them, and it was a fun night. They loved hearing the stories of our adventures, and I thought their accents were cute. (I suppose if I noticed Midwestern accents, that must mean I no longer have one…Boo!)
The campground was very lively…A bit too much so for weary travelers, as the partying continued until 2 am. It was also quite hot, and our site only had a hook-up for a trailer, not standard outlets. So we were unable to use our fan. I found an outlet in the restroom for my coffee maker!
But I had forgotten about the summer storms in the Midwest. It rained at 2 am, which ended the parties and cooled the air. We were then able to sleep until 7 am, which seemed like a luxury.
Day 2: Terre Haute, Indiana to Three Rivers, Michigan; Alma, Michigan; and Midland, Michigan
Miles Traveled: 470
Total Miles Traveled: 1,444
Illinois comes after the Mississippi, and Michigan is entered through Indiana. How much time we spend driving in each state, however, depends on the traffic and the overnight destination. When we stay in Effingham, Illinois, for example, we spend a day driving through the (painfully boring) Grand Prairie of Illinois. Indiana has never been much better, and during this trip it was looking to be a freeway run through farmland and road construction.
Until we made a wrong turn.
Our GPS then routed us through an adorable succession of small towns and cute houses. It was definitely a treat!
We crossed the state line without any fanfare and soon found ourselves in beautiful country, winding through forests and farmland in southwestern Michigan. A friend of mine from high school had moved to that area and invited us to lunch. So we began our day by visiting Loren and Katie in Three Rivers.
We had a great time catching up, before heading to Alma, to visit my grandma. The weather was beautiful, and we had a nice stop at a rest area in Lansing.
Alma was our next destination. My grandma, who is 93 years old, lives in the Michigan Masonic Home in that town. She has Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, which were mild for a long time before suddenly getting worse. She has stopped eating and spends most of her days sleeping in her recliner chair. We decided it would be best if I visited her alone, since seeing her like this may upset Iliana. I brought pictures and did not know if I would see her awake, or if she would recognize me if I did.
We had a wonderful visit. She recognized me, and she recognized Rob and Iliana in the pictures I brought. The conversation was light and repetitive, but there was a lot of connection that transcended words and memories. When I left, I said, “I’ll see you later.”
After Alma, we headed up toward Midland, where Rob’s dad and stepmother live. However, there was a detour we needed to take.
When we first got married, Rob and I paid $1000 for a mobile home on a used car lot. We then had that mobile home moved to Pleasant Beach Resort on Wixom Lake in Albright Shores, Michigan.
In spring of 2020, during the pandemic shutdown, the earth dam that creates Wixom Lake, as well as the dam that creates the next lake downstream, failed. Wixom Lake is now currently a river. So we took a detour and drove past it.
Our trailer was no longer in the park, and nobody remembered us. We were, however, able to get pizza from Sandy’s Market, which had been a regular occurrence when we lived there. Sandy has long since retired and sold the store, but it still bears her name.
We later learned that the dams will likely be rebuilt, starting next year, which made things less depressing.
Albright Shores was 15 minutes away from Dad and Linda’s house in Midland, and we would be staying there the next two nights.
Rob’s dad injured his knee when he slipped while skipping stones on Lake Charlevoix, so he was a bit laid up. However, it was wonderful to be able to see him again!
We stayed in their motor home, while I kept referring to as “The Boat.”
Day 3: Midland, Michigan
Miles Traveled: 0
One can not pack light while traveling to Michigan in June. Our suitcase was filled with jeans, sweaters, short, and tank tops. And we wore all of them while in Michigan.
We awoke Monday morning to temperatures in the 50’s.
That afternoon, my brother-in-law and his wife joined us, with my 4-year-old nephew, William.
William is a fun, energetic young man, who absolutely loves outer space. To surprise him, Iliana and I bought him some goodies at a gift shop back at home. Living near the space center made being a cool aunt very easy!
I had fun catching up with the other Mrs. Rosselit (who, interestingly enough, is also a teacher)!
Rob’s aunt and uncle were able to join us for dinner, so we did a lot of catching up!
In the northern latitudes, it gets dark much later in the summer. I was surprised that I was able to take this picture at 9:00 pm!
Day 4: Midland, Michigan to Grand Haven, Michigan
Miles Traveled: 152
Total Miles Traveled: 1, 595
On Tuesday, Rob woke up with a stomach ache, which we later suspected was from something he ate that didn’t agree with him. I was afraid that the rest of our plans would be cancelled, so I was distracted when Iliana and I met my brother and my aunt for lunch (and I forgot to take pictures).
When I returned, however, Rob was still not feeling 100% but was ready to continue onward! We headed southwest, through Mt. Pleasant, the town where Iliana was born.
We had a pleasant drive to the Lakeshore in Grand Haven, where we had ended our 93-day cruise in 2012.
When we arrived, the beach and the walk to the lighthouse were closed, due to the rough water. Lake Michigan will always have a special place in my heart, and it was every bit as beautiful and as terrifying as I remember it to be. And the smell of the air is like no other place I’ve been.
My friend, Jamie, who had been friends with Rob in high school, and connected with me through blogging after our sailing trip, joined us for dinner.
We were treated to a beautiful evening.
In 2012, we spent two weeks moored at the seawall in Grand Haven. The seawall was free at the time, and we really enjoyed the town. We were right across from the musical fountain, which did a performance every evening.
So, of course, on this trip, Iliana and I made our way down the river, to the fountain. We found some gigantic snow cones on the way.
The fountain show was lovely, and I even caught Ili singing and dancing a little. Afterward, she remembered watching the fountain in 2012, and recalled a few more adventures from that trip. (She had previously not remembered anything from the trip).
The show was paused at one point for a freighter could leave the river. The captain blew a master salute as they passed by.
We saw a few sights on our walk back to the campsite, but the water was still too rough to walk to the lighthouse.
Day 5: Grand Haven, Michigan to Buchanan, Michigan
Miles Traveled: 100
Total Miles Traveled: 1,694
We put Kreg the off-brand Keurig to work first thing Wednesday morning!
It was a beautiful morning, and the Lake was its famous bright blue color.
I had Rob do a mini photo shoot on the beach, before we left to visit Chris, Kelly, and William in Buchanan.
And yes, I kept a Ziploc bag of sand from the beach…
In Buchanan, Chris and Kelly had a belated birthday dinner for Iliana, complete with a very nice calligraphy set.
William was excited to show us his plush Betelgeuse that Kelly made for him!
Chris and Kelly live in a small town in a wooded area, and their yard is gorgeous.
Mulberries are in season in Michigan, which made me very happy!
Kelly was tasked with assembling William’s solar system model that we brought for him.
And Iliana took some time to relax!
We approved of the word art in their basement…
And of course Rob and Chris had to get a picture together! They call themselves the “Bro-sselits.”
Day 6: Buchanan, Michigan to Portage Michigan and Jasonville, Indiana
Miles Traveled: 363
Total Miles Traveled: 2,058
Our morning began with a visit to Rob’s aunt, uncle, and cousin in Portage (near Kalamazoo). Iliana enjoyed playing with Rob’s cousin’s kids back when we lived in Michigan, so it was a fun reunion! And Aunt Sue’s breakfast casserole put us in good stead for what would end up being a long day on the road.
A large portion of our drive would be spent in a parking lot in Three Rivers. Chris had a moped that he no longer uses, so Rob decided to take it home. Chris also had a trailer for this moped, although the trailer was a little worse for wear. We decided to stop in Three Rivers to change the tires on the trailer, but this ended up being easier said than done. We found tires easily enough, but finding grease for the bearings was another story.
Luckily, there was a Goodwill in the plaza! Goodwills in Michigan have much lower prices than the Goodwills in Houston. I found some accessories, as well as a fun dress and some Coach shoes. The fake pearls and earrings went well with my sundress!
After our loud night at the campground in Terre Haute, we decided to stay in a state park. We found Shakamak State Park in Jasonville, Indiana, which is very close to Terre Haute. We could only get a primitive site, but it was inexpensive and the weather was perfect. We knew electricity would be a must the next night, when we would be in Little Rock. It was a beuatiful, back-to-nature camping experience, and there were more fireflies than I have ever seen at night! This was also the only night on the trip when we were able to see the stars without any light pollution.
Day 7: Jasonville, Indiana to Bigelow, Arkansas
Miles Traveled: 534
Total Miles Traveled: 2,592
We weren’t in a big hurry to leave Shakamak on Friday, but we knew that we had a long drive ahead of us. Luckily, there were lots of state parks to choose from in Arkansas, and, of course, we had to choose the one called Toad Suck Park.
So we packed up and prepared for another day of driving! I worse my dress from the Goodwill in Three Rivers.
Most of our morning was spent driving through Illinois. I know I complain about Illinois a lot, but we did find a very pretty rest stop on Rend Lake, which was a welcome break from the Grand Prairie. Actually, it was the prettiest rest stop on our trip.
And yes, Iliana and I are close enough in weight, that we were able to teeter-totter!
Jasmine was enjoying the ride.
On thing that Illinois does not have, are gas stations. We had a close call when we were 30 miles from the state line, and our GPS ended up leading us to a very small town with a station that had antique pumps. Luckily, they also had ice cream.
30 minutes later, we saw a familiar bridge…
And soon we were back on our side of the Mississippi!
Toad Suck Park is located in the greater Little Rock area, on the Arkansas River. It wasn’t for backwoods camping experience that we had at Shakamak, but it was a very nice campground, located right next to the dam.
And I knew right away that we were back in the South, when the couple who were staffing the office gave me a hug after we signed in!
Day 8: Bigelow, Arkansas to Kemah, Texas
Miles Traveled: 488 Miles
Total Miles Traveled: 3, 082
Kreg was busy as we prepared for the home stretch!
I wore a shirt that I borrowed from a friend, just for the occasion.
And, of course, we needed to take pictures by the sign!
Our ride home was uneventful, except that I was able to do a Google search for “taco” and found many nearby options!
This establishment had the added bonus of decorative armadillos…
So what is next for us? Last night, Iliana took a Covid test for camp and was negative. So today, in a few minutes, we will be leaving to take her to Camp Blessing, where she will be volunteering for a week. Rob and I are celebrating our 21st anniversary on the 7th, and we are planning a simple getaway to Montrose.
And, of course, I will be wearing lipstick for the Fourth of July!
Good morning! (Or whatever time of day it happens to be for you!)
We have been very busy recovering from our trip to Maryland, while also preparing for our upcoming road trip to Michigan. However, I wanted to share our pictures from the Maryland trip before we embark on our next adventure.
Thursday: The Adventure Begins!
We had a delayed flight, some issues with the car rental place, and a very, very late dinner, once we arrived in Baltimore! But arrive we did!
Friday: Sight Seeing!
We had planned to arrive a day before the competition, to allow for any unexpected “adventures.” Since all was going well, we headed to the train station!
We arrived at a station near a familiar landmark…
Next it was time to visit Honest Abe…
On our walk back down, Iliana (who has been to D.C. before, with her fifth grade class) showed me where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech.
And we ended our night with a trip to the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.
Saturday: Sea Perch Time!
Saturday morning, we were up before the hotel started their breakfast!
The kids had a lot to do once we arrived at the University of Maryland for the competition.
Have I mentioned that in Texas, we love group photos?
There were teams from all over the U.S….and the world!
The kids set up their display…
…And headed outside for some water testing!
The next event was the obstacle course in the pool. Only three team members participated directly in that event, so the rest of us kept ourselves entertained in the bleachers until it was time to cheer them on!
After lunch, the kids did a presentation and Q and A session. They did very well.
Later on, we would learn that our team placed 9th in their division, which had about 60 other teams! That was especially impressive, considering that it was their first year.
Sunday: Back to D.C.!
The competition was initially supposed to be a two-day event, but they condensed it into one long day. This gave us an unexpected day of sight-seeing!
This time, we got off the train at Arlington National Cemetery.
We saw JFK’s grave…
…The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
What struck me the most about Arlington was how absolutely huge it is. Regardless of your views on war, this is a sobering reminder of the inevitable cost.
After Arlington, we made our way to a more light-hearted stop–the White House. We didn’t go inside, but in front of the lawn, we were met with a rather interesting cross-section of humanity. There were people selling flags for various causes, people quietly protesting, and one protestor giving a very impassioned speech…while a man right next to him led a group in the “Cha-cha Slide!”
After that, we were off to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, where we saw the actual Ruby Slippers!
Monday: Off to the Capitol!
The next morning, I had a treat. There was a national park across from our hotel in Baltimore, so I enjoyed a walk through nature! I didn’t have time to do much exploring, so I decided I would revisit it later.
Then it was time for another train ride!
At the Capitol, we were hosted by the staff of our Congressman, Randy Weber. Mr. Weber was not there at the time, but we met his staff in his office.
And, of course, a group photo!
Our first stop on the tour…
It is important to note that dogs have been allowed in the Capitol for the past 10 years. Many of the Representatives had pictures of their dogs on their doors.
The most interesting part of the tour, by far, were the statues. Each state is allowed two statues in the Capitol. The first statues we saw were in the basement.
The old Senate chambers…
The old Supreme Court room.
And one last train ride, back to our hotel.
Tuesday’s Side Quest: Lost in the Woods
Since we were due to fly out on Tuesday, I decided to get up early and go on a 5 mile hike before breakfast. I headed out at 6:00 am. The first mile was uneventful, except for a road barricade marking the trail.
The scenery changed a bit as I veered away from the highway during the second mile.
The third mile brought with it a boardwalk over a swamp, plenty of ferns, and an interesting carved tree.
The fourth mile brought more beautiful scenery.
I planned to drink a bottle of water every two miles, so I was due to drink my last one at mile 4. The trail thus far had been very well marked, and I was making perfect time as I passed marker 3.2, 3.4, 3.6, and 3.8. There were a couple of unmarked forks, but I stuck with the obviously better-worn path.
Still no marker for mile 4. I was seeing more hikers at this time, mostly heading in the opposite direction. At an unmarked fork between two very-worn paths, I asked a local which one was the perimeter trail. He looked confused, then pointed me in a direction that he said would take me to that trail.
I crossed a marked fork, which I was able to find on my trail map. There was a loop, and if I took the shorter end, it would take me back to the perimeter trail. Sure enough, it did! I was seeing mile markers again.
In .3 miles, I was back at the beginning of the loop. Mission accomplished!
I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, which was a yummy omelet made-to-order by the very friendly hotel staff. Then we returned the rental cars and boarded to bus to the airport.
Everybody kept busy at the terminal.
On Southwest, the seats are first come, first served, based on the time that you check in. This was a very full flight, and it became apparent that our group would not be able to stay together. The kids found seats in the back, and I volunteered to find a seat back there, as there were not enough for all the adults.
Happily, I found the last available window seat!
Bye bye, Baltimore! We crossed the Mississippi.
Three hours later…
We had a fun trip, and it was a great opportunity for the kids! And our dog is very happy with her sourvenier from the Capitol!
We had two weeks to recover, and now we are getting ready to leave for Michigan tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Michigan was beautiful, but I never “fit in” in the small towns where we lived. I felt out of synch at work, and while I did okay, I was never able to move forward in the way that I wanted, with my career. I had some friends, but they lived far away.
When we went sailing on the Lakes, the most transformative aspect of the experience was that we did seem to find our tribe. We belonged to every port we visited, and we enjoyed the company and energy in the marinas. We were a part of everything.
Then we went home. And we weren’t.
We thought that moving to an urban area would help, and that moving to an area where we could live aboard full time would help. That eventually led us to Clear Lake Shores/Kemah, Texas, right between Houston and Galveston.
And we did find belonging here. Houston is the most diverse city in the US, and the marinas were no exception. We met people with different races, ethnicities, religions, political views, gender identities, and so on. This was all fine. There was no need to “fit in” and become a cookie-cutter part of a group. We all belonged, because we were there. The only requirements were to respect each other and respect the shared spaces.
I found the same sense of belonging when I joined Moonlight Yoga. As far as I can tell, we are split 50/50 with political leanings. That doesn’t matter, even as politics have become more polarized and hateful. We are all there, because we are following a spiritual path, and because we care about each other. The few times that politics have come up in discussions, it was a matter of respectfully discussing ideas, with an emphasis on understanding and finding common ground.
In both places, I have no need to change who I am or pretend to be someone else. I belong exactly as I am, and everyone else enjoys the same privilege.
I love it here, because I have found belonging.
However, the trip that I recently took reminded me of another trip I went on, a few years ago. On that trip, I experienced profound exclusion and began to doubt that I could belong anywhere. Then I found belonging in a very real, very unexpected way.
I will tell you that story now. Some identifying details have been changed to protect people’s privacy.
River of Peace: A Journey to the East Coast and Within
Part I: The City of Rude
A few years ago, I was really starting to feel settled in our new community, and my daughter’s class decided to take a trip to Richmond, Virginia. That would be our home base for visiting some historical sites such as Mount Vernon and Colonial Williamsburg.
Through fundraising, the school was able to pay for the students’ trip, but parents needed to cover a number of expenses. At the informational meeting, I connected with the parents of three of Iliana’s classmates, and we decided that the four of us would share a room and car, in order to save money.
Our arrival was a little rough. The flight was late, after having to be rerouted due to a storm. There were some issues with luggage claim, so it was rather late by the time we arrived at our hotel. We received our room keys, and I did some unpacking before heading back to the lobby to figure out our plans for dinner.
The moms I was staying with were Sarah, Kim, and Shelby. Sarah had set up all of our reservations, due to her AAA membership, which got us a number of discounts. When I entered the lobby, I saw Sarah watching the desk disapprovingly. The receptionist was nowhere to be seen. She later returned, frowning, with two towels. Sarah carried the towels and we all retreated to our room. She explained that we only had one towel, but the girl was very rude about getting us more. I agreed. We definitely weren’t in the South anymore.
It was 11:00 pm and nobody had eaten dinner yet, so we walked to the restaurant/bar adjoining the hotel. Music was playing loudly, as a DJ seemed to be taking people’s requests as they made their way to the dance floor. We were seated next to the speaker. The loud music made it difficult to place our orders and explain how the checks were being split, and finally Sarah asked if the music could be turned down. Instead, we were moved to a separate room, away from the speaker.
It was at that time that I noticed a soda was in front of my seat, just as I heard Shelby ask for new sodas, because these were flat. They brought a new soda before I had a chance to look at the menu. The menu was disappointing, because everything was slathered in sauce or butter (and I was working on maintaining my weight). But I was able to request my usual salmon with no sauce and unbuttered vegetables. Overall, it was nothing remarkable. There were some issues with the bill not being divided up properly, but they were able to correct it.
In the car, we rolled our eyes, laughing at how disorganized and chaotic Richmond was.
When we got back to the hotel, the girls were standing outside of their room. Apparently they had locked their room keys inside. Sarah found the receptionist from the front desk, who rolled her eyes as she unlocked the door for the girls. We went to our room and marveled at how rude people were in Virginia. I said it was similar to Michigan, where people just weren’t as polite as they are in Texas.
Part II: Negativity
The next morning, we headed out to Walmart to get a few supplies we had forgotten to bring. It was a rather small store that was quite busy. The kids had fun looking around and spending some of the money they brought.
When we got back to the car, Shelby said, “Where is the Southern hospitality? The cashier charged me the wrong price for my gum. She fixed it when I told her, but she didn’t even apologize. People in Richmond are so rude.”
I agreed. Then politics entered the discussion for the first time.
Sarah shook her head and said, “You can tell we’re in a blue state. My husband warned me to be prepared for rudeness.”
Politics are a complicated issue for me. I am split on a number of issues and rarely vote straight ticket. However, I predominantly lean center/left. I don’t have strong views on most issues, and I do enjoy hearing other people’s ideas, as long as they are factual and respectful. Experience has taught me that it is best to get that out in the open, so that we can avoid awkward conversations.
I said, “It’s the rudeness issue that has made me a moderate. I tend to lean to the left, but I don’t like how rude everyone is in blue states.”
Without much acknowledgement of what I had said, Sarah continued, “And it is so loud everywhere here. I have never seen a city as loud as Richmond. That restaurant last night, and now Walmart. Why does everything have to be so loud here?”
Kim chimed in, “This whole trip is so disorganized. Typical. First the issues with our luggage, then the hotel is such a mess, and now we’re staying in this bad neighborhood. I can’t wait to get home.”
She seemed to be right, and it made me sad. I had taken a week off for this trip, and I wanted to make the most of it. I was glad when we started our day of sight-seeing, so that I could enjoy the time with my daughter, rather than listen to negativity.
And we certainly did have fun exploring the sights! While Iliana doesn’t like history class, she does like history. She surprised me with her knowledge about each of the sights we visited.
The other moms complained about the itinerary, but it was a day that I enjoyed. Dinner was very late and I overate as a result, so I decided that I needed to pick up some food to have on hand for the rest of the week.
I had my opportunity when we got back to the hotel. The other moms needed to go to Walmart, so I said I would go along and pick up some food. And it was on that ride that the conversation took a turn for the worse.
“These are such gorgeous houses,” Shelby observed. “But I don’t think we’re in a good neighborhood.”
It is at this point in the story when it becomes relevant for me to mention that we were in a predominantly–almost exclusively–African American neighborhood.
Sarah nodded. “I know this sounds bad, but I wish we could ask if a hotel is in a white neighborhood, before we make the reservation.”
Shelby and Kim nodded. “I know, right?” Shelby replied. “And you notice that they are much nicer to each other. Remember Ms. Lipstick at the counter last night? She kept rolling her eyes at us, but she was super nice to the black lady who was in line behind us.”
“They are always nicer to each other,” Kim agreed. “At the movie theater where I work, there is this black security guard. She gives all the white people a hard time, but she lets the black families in, with no problems.”
I was eager to get out of the car and get into Walmart, to collect my food. The store was small, without much on the shelves, but I found some boiled eggs, low carb tortillas, fat free cheese, and lunch meat. As I was taking my spoils to the self check-out, I noticed that the line went all the way to the back of the store. I had a long time to wait, before returning to the car, where renewed racist conversation was beginning.
“Those lines!” exclaimed Shelby. “What in the world is going on? It looks like they are expecting a hurricane or something.”
Sarah laughed. “Is it the first of the month? They get more welfare money in blue states, right?”
Kim sighed, “Do they really? And we probably have to pay for it.”
“They are rude, because they expect to get something for nothing,” Shelby concurred.
I did not mention that I had once been on public assistance, while I was on medical leave from teaching. Or that I keep my SNAP card in my wallet, so that I can remember that I had the support of a village that allowed me to get out of a horrible situation.
I didn’t feel the love that that village this night.
I did not speak during that conversation, but I rolled my eyes after every comment. My silence is a part of the collective shame experienced by every American of European decent. We have all been one of the people in that car. Those of us who have not been Sarah, Kim, or Shelby–making the outright racist remarks, have been in my position, staying silent to keep the peace.
But while not rocking the boat keeps outward drama from happening, it does anything but create peace within. There is something about racism, hate speech, and dehumanization, that causes a reaction on a primal level. Denying the humanity of another feels so wrong, that people go to great lengths to justify it and make it feel okay.
“I hate this city,” Sarah said. “How many more days until we get to go back to Texas?’
I was counting the days until I no longer had to ride in that car.
When I got back to the room, I texted my friend, Jennifer. She has similar political leanings to mine, so I figured she could give me some sanity.
After I told her about it, she replied with, “Yeah, that sounds like Texas. I’ve been so much happier in California, away from those people.”
Far from reassuring, that text only cluttered my mind further. I had friends in Texas, and I belonged there, more than I have ever belonged anywhere else. Did everyone secretly feel the same way as the ladies in the car? Was my sense of belonging all an illusion?
Part III: Finding Connection
The next morning, I woke up before everyone else and decided I needed to go outside. I enjoyed a quiet walk through the neighborhood, where I saw that there was a park with hiking trails off of the next block. I love the woods and I love trails, so this was definitely something that would be worth exploring. The time outdoors definitely brought me some peace.
I headed inside for breakfast, and nobody from our group was out of bed yet. Out of habit, I smiled at the girl at the front desk. She wished me a good morning and asked how our class trip was going. I filled her in on the previous day’s sight-seeing, before heading over to breakfast.
We had the same waitress that we had the day before, when I had ordered a delicious, zero-point omelet, so I excitedly approached her with my breakfast card. I smiled and said I would like an omelet. She replied curtly, “Breakfast is $12.” I showed her my card, and she said, “Write your name and room number on the back. Breakfast is that buffet over there.”
Hiding my disappointment, I smiled and thanked her, adding that I was so glad to have hot breakfast at the hotel. She told me to have a nice day, and I said, “You too–it’s absolutely beautiful outside.”
I walked past another staff member who returned my smile and inquired about what sites we had visited the previous day. I headed out for a day of sight-seeing. I walked with the kids, while the other mothers walked in the back of the group and told racist jokes.
While we were riding a city bus together, the moms spoke to Iliana about politics, telling her that conservatives are the one who follow the Constitution. She gave them the side-eye, and I spoke up, “Yes, I know Daddy and I think differently. And that’s okay. Part of what makes America great is that we have free speech, and people can have different ideas.” The other moms agreed and changed the subject.
The next morning, I got up a little earlier, so I could take a longer hike at the walking park. I saw a 5 mile trail and decided I would give it a try the next day. The solitude was good for me, and after my walk, I was greeted enthusiastically by numerous staff members in the lobby. The waitress smiled and handed me a card for ordering my omelet. We chatted while the omelet was being cooked.
The other parents woke up and joined me in the dining room. As we ate, staff members came to our table to wish me a good morning and chat with me.
The next morning was the day of our departure. I got up at 6 am and set off on my 5-mile hike. I encountered many locals as I hiked, and we enjoyed pleasant conversation. I also enjoyed a great deal of solitude in nature, as I prepared for my return home.
Back in the lobby, I was greeted with an omelet and a plate of blueberry pancakes. I said that I hoped to see them all again on a future trip.
In the end, Richmond was one of the friendliest cities I have ever visited.
Part IV: Back Home
I was not looking forward to the flight home. I did not want to sit next to the other mothers and hear more racist commentary. Luckily, the needed someone to sit in the back near a group of kids. I happily obliged.
Since nobody can hear anything on a plane, I sang quietly to myself, as one song kept coming to mind:
River of peace flow through me
River of peace flow through me
When hatred rises up, please fill me from your cup
River of peace flow through me.
The flight calmed my mind, but new anxieties greeted me at home. Was what I experienced an isolated incident, or was my community and my sense of belonging an illusion? Conversations with friends from my yoga class–especially those friends who had conservative political views–assured me that it is possible for people to have different views and still have no place for hate and hate speech. They were appalled by what I had experienced.
It took me many days to feel like myself again. Normally, I am very social when I walk the docks and go to the grocery store. After this trip, I had no desire to interact with anyone. During my first yoga class back, I couldn’t stop crying once we sat in silence.
There could be many explanations, but I think it was just a primal response to being around so much hate. Being around so much hate and saying nothing.
I can forgive myself for being human, but I don’t want to forget how I felt after this trip. Maybe next time–because, unfortunately, there is sure to be a next time–I can remember that feeling. Maybe next time I can remember the faces and names of all of my friends and loved ones who belong to the group that is the target of the hate speech.
Maybe next time, my memories will instill in me the courage to break the social norm, to break the “rule” that I must remain silent and not rock the boat.
Maybe next time I will open my mouth and squeak out three words that have the power to change my experience: “That’s not cool.”
Note: I am writing this while we are in Maryland for the Sea Perch underwater robotics competition. I will post pictures from our adventures once we return!
I am not overweight. In fact, I wear a size zero or a girls’ 14.
True, I was once a much larger size, but through a lot of effort, I lost 60 pounds. So now I just eat whatever I want, right?
Well, sort of right. I don’t demonize foods, and I don’t avoid anything except alcohol. But I do eat mindfully, much to the dismay of many well-intended people.
No, I don’t obsess over what I eat, and I don’t restrict. But I also don’t eat like a typical American either.
Here are some of the reasons why I watch what I eat, even though I am at a healthy weight:
1. I like being at a healthy weight.
It is not possible to eat the standard American diet and maintain a healthy weight. At least for me, it is not. I gained my weight by eating that way, and if I eat that way now, I will gain it again.
2. Everyday is not Christmas.
If I had a dollar for everytime someone said, “Come on, just this once!” I would be very rich. It seems like there is always an eating occasion, and the occasions are always longer than just one day. What I often find is that people have their own personal reasons for urging me to make exceptions, but ultimately it is my choice. Everyday is not Christmas. Everyday is not my birthday.
3. Food affects my mood.
It might just be me, but when I eat out a lot, or when I eat a lot of sugar and carbs, I feel worse, both physically and mentally. When I am not eating well, I feel more anxious, tired, and crabby. While some people might say that life is too short to eat healthy, I would say that life is too short to feel that way.
4. When I let my eating habits go, my other habits suffer.
When I don’t eat well, I don’t feel good. When I don’t feel good, I don’t meditate or exercise. When I don’t feel good, I am more tempted to have a drink in an effort to feel better. At the very least, I drink a lot more caffeine when I feel groggy from poor eating habits.
5. I like how I look when I eat well.
This is not the most politically correct reason, but it is the truth. I like the way I look when I am thin and eating healthy. I feel energetic and my mood is better, which also changes how I look physically!
When I lived in Michigan, I fell in with a group of other young mothers, who called themselves “crunchy mommies.” Being a crunchy mom was great! I breastfed Iliana until she self-weaned at 22 months. We all snuggled together in one bed, and Rob made her cloth diapers that we hung out on a line in the backyard.
I loved the crunchy, down-to-earth lifestyle, except for one thing: I had the worst time keeping a clean home. Most of the other moms in my group were stay-at-home mothers, and they said that they enjoyed housework. They felt like it was a gift they gave to their families.
I was teaching special education at a rural school, 20 minutes away, at that time. I was often inundated with paperwork and lesson plans, which I had previously been staying after school in order to complete. Now I hurried home to see Iliana. After cooking dinner, it was time to begin Iliana’s bedtime routine. I played with her, gave her a bath (usually a long one, which she loved), read to her, sang to her, then laid down until she fell asleep.
Then it was time for paperwork. And if I finished it soon enough, I actually got to spend time with Rob!
There was no slow-paced, passionate housekeeping. It was a constant rush, and as my situation at work became more stressful, less work got done. Minimalism and decluttering helped, but the reality was that our house was clean in the summer (especially when we started sailing!).
When I moved to Texas, it was no better, no matter what size home we occupied. In fact, things got worse as my job down here got worse. Stress and housekeeping just don’t go together.
It did finally come together…When I quit teaching. Suddenly I had time to turn my house into a home. I followed Fly Lady’s baby steps, then settled into her weekly routine. My boat was getting decluttered, and I did a different small task each day of the week. My home was a calm, peaceful place. It got even better when we moved to the apartment, with its easy-to-clean laminate floors and lots of open space.
Homemaking was relaxing, and following Fly Lady’s routine helped me to bring order to my life as I recovered from the trauma I had experienced. However, I will always be a teacher, and it was only a matter of time before I was ready to go back to the classroom (and eventually become department lead). And this time I was determined to have the best of both worlds.
Here are some ways that I was able to accomplish this:
1. Prioritize and Set Boundaries with Work
The first thing that needed to be eliminated from my previous “routine,” was the time spent doing work after Iliana went to bed. I now leave work on time everyday. I have learned prioritize having materials ready for my students and having IEP paperwork done before the students’ meetings. If those things are not in place on Friday, for the next week, I do them at home on Sunday. Then I work down my to-do list during my conference periods at work. I have found that I work much more efficiently this way.
I do not iron. Sure, Rob wears beautiful, button-down Land’s End shirts to work everyday, and yes, they get wrinkly. I let the dry cleaner handle the ironing, and I even pay $5 for them to pick up and drop off the shirts every week! One less thing to worry about.
When we lived in the apartment, we had a small RV laundry machine. If we fell behind on laundry, I had another bag that I would fill and leave for the cleaners on pick-up day. For a flat rate, they washed and folded everything in that bag.
We signed up for a pump-out service on our boat, so I never need to think about the holding tank. Every Tuesday, it gets pumped out while we are at work.
I order my groceries online and have them delivered every Saturday.
3. Have a Prepare-for-the-Week Day
Sunday is not a day of rest for me. It is a day where I lay the groundwork, so that I can rest in the evenings during the rest of the week.
On Sundays, I do all of Fly Lady’s tasks for the week. I give the boat a once-over cleaning (quick vacuum, change bedding, clean bathroom, take out garbage). I use the groceries that I had delivered, to prepare the meals for the week. (If I have a lot of work to do at home, I order Smart Ones for my lunches). I put my clothes together into outfits for the week and hang them in my closet in order. The goal is to have no errands to run or chores to do after work during the week.
4. Have Daily Routines
I used to get up VERY early and have a well-crafted morning routine that took two hours. I would go running, do yoga, meditate, do some reading, then make and eat breakfast. I don’t think I was ever able to stick with this routine for a week.
Now, I give myself an hour to make my celery juice, have some quiet time, prepare everyone’s breakfasts (the breakfast foods are all together, so preparation is easy), and not leave in a hurry.
In the evenings I wash the dishes (I am ashamed to admit that I use disposable dishes during the school year, so this is quick work!). The routines do not have to involve much, because I have prepared for the week on Sunday.
5. Make Self-Care a Part of the Routine
I have learned that self-care will happen, whether I plan for it or not. The planning just determines what the self-care will look like.
I can plan and go to yoga class every evening to clear my mind and manage stress, or I can ground myself with food by overeating and clear my mind with wine. I can plan and spend time reading and relaxing every evening, or I can rest in bed when I get sick from overexerting myself.
Martyrdom is not sustainable.
I hope that these ideas are helpful, and I would love to hear what you do to keep your sanity during busy times!