Let Them Dream…

A few years ago, Jason and I had this wacky idea to move from New York City to Santa Cruz, CA. We lived there for 2.6 years and realized that we didn’t really fit in. However, I managed to meet some amazing people and connect with a great organization, The Resource Center for Nonviolence. There, I met Jacqueline Seydel. I instantly liked her because of her infectious personality and intelligence. She was really strong in her political beliefs about women’s issues and appeared fearless! She is a young, adventurous woman who loves to read, ride her bike, and spend time having fun. She is the daughter of a woman who was once described by her children’s soccer coach as a ball of fire. I am very happy to have her write a piece here, especially about her relationship with her mother! Thanks Jacqueline!

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Traveling became a real thing that I dreamt about when I was 12 or 13. A few friends and I would spin a globe around with our eyes closed and let our finger drop somewhere. We held so much excitement and would soon discuss everything we knew or what we wondered about this place. I used to drag my finger until I felt the subtle, braille like ridges of mountains. At the time, we committed to starting a band “The Melancholy Meltdown” – that’s how we would get to these places, meet new faces, and escape the dark places in our head.

Those years will be some of the darkest in our lives, I am sure. The desire to leave our surroundings was real and rooted in our realities as young girls who all had experiences we couldn’t understand at that time. Traveling, getting away, was our manifestation to believe in something else. We needed that faith. We needed a path to transcend our pain. We needed each other to share stories and dreams.

Overtime I let that dream go – well, not the traveling but the band. At that point, I could barely play the recorder and had a few years of flute in school. Jayme could plan shocking stage stunts and create some thought provoking artwork for our publicity. Siera sung briefly in her church choir and years later picked up a guitar. Eventually, she played in a band in Chicago during college. She has a beautiful voice, is a poet, an artist, a world traveler. More importantly, she is an inspiring, badass, breastfeeding Mama.

I eventually found my way to Costa Rica, Peru, and Mexico. It feels incredible to have reached one of my childhood dreams. Many factors played a role – but a significant factor was my mother. A strong woman who worked, cooked, cleaned, drove, helped, gifted and did so many unnoticed things for my siblings and I. And you know what? We gave her hell. But that did not matter. My dreams, my thirst for travel, would not have been possible without her. The fact that I am 25 and still dreaming is proof of her support, sometimes harsh and hard to hear.

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I am not yet a mother. I have not birthed a child or powerfully shot another human through my cervix. However, I am a daughter of an incredible mother. I am a curious traveler, a cyclist, a feminist, an avid book reader, a poet, and a compassionate human being. My mother has pushed me to me. During my childhood I can remember things that helped me, hurt me, and that I slowly grew to be grateful for. It took a lot of time. Yet, I can look at myself now and know that as my relationship with my mother grows, it is her constant belief and encouragement that has given me my strength to keep achieving my dreams. It is her worried concern that guided my forward thinking. It is her values that laid the path of my actions. It is her quick-witted sense that gave me the skills to problem solve in tricky situations.

When I think about what I can offer to the mothers of this blog it’s this. Let them dream – big, weird, funky, unearthly dreams until they choose one or a few or many to work towards. Then, love them even if you don’t understand or agree yet. Work harder than ever to let them know you’re there. Even if you waiver, express your hesitations, and let go. Mend them when they fall. Soothe their sores, aches, and pains. Believe in them when they doubt themselves.  Let them dream.

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Watching it Live with Blake Mills

Sometimes I go out with adults and do adult things; like see live music! It is a very rare thing for me to leave the house after my kids go to sleep and stay up until 1:00; I almost felt like a human again (and then not so human the next day). Me and the huz used to see live music all of the time, it was our thing.  However, once the kids came, no more live music (insert sad emoji), unless count the summer, outdoor concerts that are kid friendlish! We are occasionally invited by friends to see bands but usually he goes. NOT THIS TIME though, this time it was ME!

So, my lovely friend sent me a text and asked if I wanted to see Blake Mills. I had no idea who he was but it was in my hood, she has good taste and it was a free ticket (win, win, win). She transferred the ticket to me via email (21st century biotch) and all I needed was my phone to get it because they just scan the code from your email.

Remember ticket stubs, those things were magic (Elliott Smith 2000)!

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Anyway, I put the kids to bed, kissed the man goodnight and jumped on the unicorn to freedom (seriously, I ride a unicorn and no I am not crazy, see previous post here)! I showed up like I was 21 with only a phone, credit card, id and keys! I was so excited to be out, that my joy spilled over into the real world and the bouncer asked if I was in a hurry! “Yes, I’m in a hurry, I’m here to meet adults and there are no children involved, let me in!!!”

I was really excited to see my friend, and drink a beer, and see live music but have to admit I was a little sad about the venue. The club formerly known as North 6 (I know, it changed a million years ago) used to be my favorite place to see music in the early aughts and now it is a fancy place. The actual stage is pretty much the same but they have this new fancy bar downstairs that just screams “new Williamsburg” yuck! I mean glass and metal, so corporate 5 years ago!

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Anyway, enough complaining, the night was fun.

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I managed to have some good chats and hear some good music and drink some good beer! It was pretty much a perfect, adult evening. As for Blake Mills, he put on a great show. At times he enjoyed his instrument a little too much and I felt like I was part of a jam session but he was good. I particularly liked the drummer, he looked like Kris Kristofferson and played the hell out of some drums!

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At the end of the evening, I had to admit to myself that I have been denying myself a life for almost 7 years. Maybe this is what happens when you have kids but I think it has been the result of my own parental control issues. Sometimes I need to remind myself to “step away from the baby, it will all be ok!” So here’s to making plans for new adventures and saying yes more often (like Frankie and Grace) because I managed to feel normal, and not mommy anxious for the first time in a long time. Thanks to good friends, thanks to my unicorn, thanks to Brooklyn and thanks to Blake Mills!

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Fittin’ in the Fitness…

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This is not a post on how to lose weight or get your pre-mama body back (it will never happen), it is a post about ways to feel better through exercise. For me it is running, bike riding, swimming and oceaning. I apparently have a lot of demons to exercise because when I’m not exercising, I’m a demon! I have always loved to run and maybe it is in my blood because my mom loved to run too. I’m not a running-junkie only because I have no time for it. If work and kids didn’t stand in my way, I would be a running-junkie! I go through running phases and unfortunately I am not currently in a running phase but only because I’m in a biking phase.

Once I discovered commuting to work via bike as opposed to stinky, hot, subway I’ve been hooked. My commute to work from Brooklyn to Manhattan is only 9 miles round trip, and takes about 20 minutes each way. I really want to run in the mornings but have found it difficult (if not insane) to run before I ride! I started commuting by bike 3 months ago after purchasing a cheap bike on craigslist. I didn’t expect to fall in love with riding but have totally changed my mind and luckily, this cheap ass ($80) bike has served me well.

Meet the Ross Unicorn (purchased for it’s name)! It is light enough I can carry it up two flights of stairs but should not be confused with being light! I’ve not had to purchase anything special for the commute to work but would like to replace the backpack with some kind of paneer.

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One of the things I enjoy and hate the most about commuting to work is the engagement with the city. I enjoy being outside and experiencing all the wonder, weird, great and horrible the city has to offer. My commute over the bridge can be intense (especially in a heat wave) but the view is superb and the exercise feels really good.

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Aside from commuting, biking is a fun way to exercise and explore. I recently challenged myself and rode to the Rockaways from my house, which was almost 20 miles and took about 2 hours. It was insane and luckily I got a ride home because I was not making it back!

riding to the rockaway

Riding is also a good family activity. For years I have ridden my kids around in various ways. They are old enough to ride themselves now but not really for long distances. My oldest (age 6) just got a 20 inch bike and is getting used to it in the park. My youngest (age 4) has taken over the 14 inch bike and LOVES it. Before they were riding on their own, however, we did the bike trailer, and after we did the trail-a-bike. I highly recommend the trail-a-bike for kids 3.5 and up, my girls loved it.

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trail a bike

As for running, I don’t find this to be a family activity. It is a ME activity, and a time when I love to be alone. I don’t mind running with other runners but really like being in my own head. Running is probably my favorite exercise because it makes me feel amazing. I enjoy running in cities mostly because I find pavement to be more dependable. As a runner it is good to know the surface you are running on because an inconsistent surface can fuck up your body. I enjoy running in these Mizuno Hitogami shoes (no socks, I hate socks) and these Everlast shorts.  After years of running in calf-length pants, I recently discovered these shorts and they are perfect for runners with athletic beefy thighs! It is really hard to run when your shorts are constantly going up your thighs or cutting off the circulation. So far these are great, and I might write a review for them because LOVE!

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One of my favorite things about running is what you see while you are running. Yes, running makes you a little high and so you tend to like everything you see on a run but I’ve seen some pretty spectacular things in theses early mornings. One of my favorite pictures was taken during an early morning, snowstorm run. I was the only person out running, and the only tracks in the snow were my own. You don’t often feel “alone” in NYC and this was on of those moments, a rare and beautiful!

tracks in the snow

One morning I managed to capture an early morning hunt. This bird (who we have nicknamed Snatch) is a juvenile hawk who is a little on the crazy side, and cares not about humans. A park ranger told me that Snatch, snatched a pet Yorkie from the park (thus the nickname Snatch). Regardless, he is pretty amazing to witness!

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And, sometimes it is just nice to appreciate your everyday view, and running certainly facilitates that. It is a nice way to run along the river and snap a pic of the City I love!

as seen while running

Most importantly though is the mix to which you run. Spotify is great for helping create free playlists. Mine is called Running Home for the very, cool reason that I used to run home (super creative here)! Although I am not a pop music groupie (please do not judge me by my playlist), I love to run to pop music because it is the most fun thing ever!

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Lastly, finding time to exercise is difficult if you have children and work full time (or just have children). When I’m in a running groove, I get up at 5:00 and run a few miles before they wake up. I like mornings and so this works for me, and it really is the best time to experience a sleepy Brooklyn. It is also a little scary to run early mornings in the winter, and so I try to find a partner. Running to work is good if you have a shower, which I don’t and so I don’t run to work. When I’m not riding to work, I will run home. This is a great way to shake off the office. The morning/afternoon commute is really the best way to exercise because it combines getting to work and exercising while awake (cannot say I’m 100% functioning during a 5:00 am run)!

What are your exercise routines and how do you fit it in with kids and work, kids and kids, or work and work?