Thursday, June 21, 2012

ringing in the new year

Welcome Summer!

Today is my 31st Birthday. :-)

Usually my birthday falls on the Summer Solstice--the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.  When I was little I used to think that that meant that my birthday was physically longer than any other day.  I didn't quite understand that it meant that the sun was out the longest on my birthday.  I thought that somehow my birthday managed to exceed the standard 24 hours in a day.  I thought that somehow I got to enjoy my birthday longer than anyone else. 

I thought I was pretty lucky. 

{I felt terrible for those poor Winter Solstice kids who got gypped and ended up with the shortest day of the year. ;-) }

However this year, because it's a leap year, the Summer Solstice fell on the 20th of June instead of the 21st.  And instead of my birthday being the longest day of the year, my last day being 30 was the longest day of the year.  And it just so happens that I tend to go into this reflective state right around the change of the happens on New Year's Eve, and on birthday Eve (which are conveniently about 6 months apart).  I think about where I am, where I want to go, what my goals are, what I want to accomplish, what changes lie ahead... 

So I was given the longest day of the year to think about all of those things.

I think I was pretty lucky.

It's strange because just a couple days ago I was looking through this blog, looking at the list I posted this time last year, and I thought to myself, "wow, Nas, you really fell short this year!"  While there's a lot I did, and a lot I still have yet to write about, there is quite a lot left un-done.  Things I didn't accomplish.  Even more outside of this list, things I wanted to more forward, but haven't.  Things I thought would be different now, but have gone stagnant.

These are things that go far beyond this things, relationship things, family things, financial things, career things....things I had planned on working on and improving.  Things that are not necessarily going badly, but things where I see room for improvement.  And while some of these things have improved, some of them have not...or not to the degree in which I wanted them to.

And I was starting to feel pretty bad about that.

But then yesterday, on the longest day of the year (and my "day of life reflection") something popped in my head.  Something that I had written once before.  Something that I knew I had posted here.  Something that just made SENSE.

I had to search to find it.

But I found it.

I found it here

And more importantly, this is what it was:

"It's not about crossing items off a's about experiencing life NOW."

You know how when you're watching a movie, and there's something that the main character is missing?  Something that they haven't figured out yet, and you just want to jump through the screen and tell them?  And then all of a sudden, they have this "A-ha Moment" (thanks for the catchphrase, Oprah) and everything just makes sense?

Yeah, that's what happened yesterday, when this sentence--a sentence I had written over a year and a half ago!--just popped into my head.

And as I was scrolling through old posts, and pictures from my 365 project, I realized, sure, maybe I didn't accomplish all of the things I set out to do this year...but you know what I did that WASN'T on the list?
  • Saw the Grand Prix
  • Experienced an earth quake
  • Went to my first hockey game
  • Saw in a SkyBox during a Ravens' Monday Night Football game
  • Visited the new 9/11 Memorial in NYC...twice
  • Climbed to the top of the Bromo Seltzer tower
  • Ran on the Maryland Terrapins' football field
  • Hosted a Lorax lunch with some great girlfriends
  • Conquered Pinterest
  • Drove through PA, DE, NJ, NY, CT, MA, VA, NC, SC, GA and FL.
As far as Sadira, these are her accomplishments this year:
  • Took her first full year of ballet
  • Learned soccer
  • Started the big kids' gymnastic class
  • Successfully completed her first year of school
  • Hi-fived a sting ray
  • Visited a butterfly garden
  • Met her favorite Raven, Terrell Suggs
  • Got a new pet (her fish)
  • Made new friends
  • Welcomed new baby friends
  • Upgraded to a big girl bike
And when I looked over this list, I started feeling pretty good again. 

So when I really think about it, it's been a great year.

But I do have to say it's kind of crazy when I think about this birthday and this new decade.  Last year when I was saying goodbye to my twenties, I felt ACCOMPLISHED.  Because all of the things I had hoped to do in my twenties, I had done.  I had LIVED them, the way I wanted to.  And for me, at this moment in time, my thirties seem to be a bit of a blank slate. 

Sometimes this leaves me feeling unsettled, like I don't have any direction. 

Sometimes this feels very free and exciting. 

I guess it's the Gemini in me.

But most of all, I think the biggest thing I took from my day of reflection yesterday, is that the greatest joy isn't always in the accomplishment, it's in the process.  Just like when you're reading a really good book, and you get almost sad when you reach the end.  Sure you accomplished reading the book, but now it's over.  It was the process that was fun, not just the accomplishment. 

I realize that I'm at the point in my life where I'm in the middle of the process.  With my career, with my current relationship, and sometimes even with Sadira.  There's no graduation or celebration coming up that signifies an accomplishment, or brings about fanfare--and that's okay. 

Because the process is exciting too.

I need to remember to appreciate the process more.

I always thought it was interesting that our Inalienable Rights as listed in the Declaration of Independence were, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," not "Life, Liberty and Happiness."

No one is entitled to happiness.  But we are certainly entitled on working to achieve happiness.

How lucky we are that so many of us really can control our own destinies.

I think it's important for all of us to remember...especially in this society of instant gratification...that we are all responsible for our own pursuit.  And while I'm certainly not UN-happy, I think this was a timely reminder to myself that there is beauty and joy in the pursuit.

Here's to enjoying the pursuit!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

365 project - weeks forty-one, forty-two, and...well hell, here's all of april!

13. Take a picture every day for one year.

Late night visitor.  Someone came sneaking into Mommy's room last night.

Purple heels.  I turn my back for one second, and next thing I know little miss is working it in 5 inch heels. #hermothersdaughter

Vivienne snuggles. The kitty marks her girl.

Sadira and the big tree.  Beautiful day for a walk in Patterson Park.

Sadira self-portrait. "Say cheese!"

Easter egg party!  Dying eggs with the sweetest and sassiest girls in town!

Sarah comes for a visit! One of favorite house guests, we love when Sarah comes for a visit.

Boh knows hockey.  Let's go Caps!

Opening Day!  At Camden Yards with one of my best girls and her fun hubs.

Little Miss Addisyn.  Fresh from Hawaii, Sadira and Addisyn meet for the first time.

Easter morning. Snuggling in the sunshine with her Auntie was her favorite treat.

IKEA furniture tester. Add this sofabed to the wish list of things we want (for the basement), but do not need.

Fashionista.  Work it, love it, own it.

Fish barrette. This was mine, and I used to rock it over 25 years ago. Now it's Sadie's turn.

The view from below.  Beautiful blooms!

Happy Sadira and Poppop...and forlorn Tallulah on the table in the background...

Riding high on B's shoulders after a long day sight seeing on the National Mall in D.C.

Sadie found a tiny friend.  He wiggled his way into her hands on a beautiful Sunday at Boordy Winery. 

Mini Mommy looking fab in my new glasses.

Cookies by Sadie.  Can't believe I resisted these delicious treats.

Frog puppet!  Complete with sticky tongue and fly stuck to it.

Punky Brewster!  Look at this hot mess of a kid.

Lunch date.  Lunchin' at IKEA with my favorite girl.

Janet takes New York.  My awesome daycare provider and her daughter Miranda in the middle of Times Square.

Floppy hat!  Testing out hats for Preakness in just a few weeks.

The big dig.  This is going on just three houses up the street from me. I do not envy them at all.

Two Cinderellas.  Sadira and Paci-Bear are very fancy today. 

She's on a roll!  Perfect day to break out the bike and get the hang of this thing.

Sadie the Explorer.  Armed with her magnifying glass and studying ants at Mommom's house.

Monarch butterfly and SuperGirl...Boy? Sadie loves dressing up her BFF!

Terrapins football.  Sadie got a personal tour of the Terps' football facility AND got to run on the field. Lucky girl! 

Sunny day with Sutton...we took our new neighbor and friend to Federal Hill park for a picnic on a beautiful day!

Ampersand.  Bought this giant metal ampersand at Target today. It was a waste of money and is totally useless, but I LOVE it.

For my complete project, visit: NassyMirjaf's 365 Project.
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

goodnight, viv cat

Ten years ago my boyfriend-at-the-time and I decided we were going to adopt a pet.  We had just moved into our first apartment together, and purposely picked a place that allowed pets.  We decided we'd adopt from a shelter, one because it was cheaper and we were poor college kids, and two because we wanted to rescue an animal.

We decided on a cat. Not a dog (even though I come from a family that ALWAYS had dogs) because we just didn't have the time for walking AND we lived in a small apartment on the second floor.  Not a kitten, because neither of us ever had a cat as a pet, and didn't know the first thing about litter box training.  

An already trained, adult cat was the pet for us, so off to the shelter we went.

The shelter had a "cat room" that was full of cages where the cats were kept, but every day for a few hours, the cats were allowed out of their cages to socialize with one another and any prospective adoptive parents.  Of course we decided to arrive during social hour, so we could have a chance to interact with all of the cats, so we could decide who was "the one."

But after half an hour of playing with a roomful of cats, we were more confused then ever.  How do you choose?  WHO do you choose?  We didn't know.  They all started tugging on our heartstrings and before we knew it, we had five different cats we thought about taking home.

So I did the only logical thing I could think of.

I walked to the front desk and asked for help.  "Who's been here the longest?"

"Huh?" the girl asked.

"Who's been here at the shelter the longest?  We are having trouble deciding, so we'll just take whomever's been here the longest."

She looked at her paperwork and said, "well, Midnight's due to be put down tomorrow...."

"What?"  (For a second I had totally forgotten that the animals didn't get to just live there forever...that they had a expiration date on their heads, and if they didn't get adopted, they had to be put down.  Especially the adult cats.)

I followed her back in the cat room and she pointed to a small black and white tuxedo cat who was lying in the corner.  She had beautiful green eyes, and perfect little white paws.  Her generic shelter name was "Midnight."

"She's beautiful! Why wouldn't anyone want her?" my boyfriend-at-the-time asked.

"She's shy.  She doesn't come out to play.  We think she was abused by her previous owners, so she's skittish.  Just make sure you approach her with your palm facing up, she gets scared otherwise," we were instructed.

Needless to say, she was the cat we chose.

Vivienne Belinda Bijoux Mirjafary  
(Yes, I named her.) 

The next month was interesting.  She wouldn't come out of our back bedroom, she was painfully shy, and just having another person over to the apartment would send her into hiding.  But we worked with her, and slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y, she finally started getting used to her new home.

And actually came out to play with us from time to time. :-)

I remember one night, I woke up in the middle of the night to this strange sound.  At first I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, but it sounded like some sort of animal...I woke my boyfriend-at-the-time up and we discovered it was coming from the cat.  We checked her out to try to figure out if she was sounded like something was stuck in her throat, but she looked fine!  Could she breathe?  Was she choking?  We were freaking out...trying to decipher if she was okay or not, when suddenly I realized.

"She's purring!"

We had never heard her purr before...our sweet girl was finally happy!!

Over the next ten years she was the sweetest thing.

When my boyfriend-at-the-time and I ended our relationship, and had to decide who got to keep her, I was terrified that I had to give her up.  But she remained with me.

When I found out my mom and my step-dad were divorcing, I remember snuggling Vivi when I got the news, she was my constant confidante.

When I moved out of that apartment, it was a bittersweet time.  I remember after everything was moved out, sitting in the empty apartment with Vivi, just taking it all in.  She was with me when I left.

When I bought my first house and worked to make it a home, Vivi happily found her niche, sitting contently on top of the sofa.

When I suddenly developed an allergy to cats, we made it work.  I'd vacuum like a crazy person, and wash my hands compulsively, but I never gave up my Viv Cat.

When we prepared for the birth of Sadira, a jealous Vivi climbed into the baby's bucket seat and took a nap.

And once Sadie was born, Vivi would come running whenever she cried.  She hated hearing the baby cry and would meow (LOUDLY) until we could calm Sadie down.

She never was a big fan of football, though.  All the screaming and jumping up and down worked on her nerves, poor thing.

When Snowmageddon occurred and Sadira and I were snowbound in the house for 8 days straight, Vivi was the one plaything that didn't get boring.  She even allowed Sadie to dress her up in baby doll clothes time and time again.

As she's gotten older I've referred to her a "stuffed animal that breathes."  She was just easy going and content to be left on her spot on top the couch.  She never cared for toys, or catnip (that required expending too much energy), but she loved to be brushed, and anytime you scratched her head she'd purr and purr.

Just don't touch those white marshmallow paws---they were off limits!

But the person she absolutely loved the most was Sadie.  Sadie was her girl, her own little person, closer to her size than I was, and always willing to snuggle, or kiss her head, or brush her.

Over the past month I could tell we were nearing the end with Miss Viv.  She was around 6 or 7 years old when we adopted her, and I've had her for 10 years, which put her in the mature cat category.  She was sleeping more often, eating less, having litter box issues, and then finally this past week she started pulling out her fur.  I knew it was time to let her be at peace.

I told Sadie last night, and the avalanche of tears made me feel horrible.  She cried and cried and hugged her and cried and scratched her belly and cried and brushed her and gave her treats and cried.  

This morning I dropped Sadie off to gymnastics, let her say goodbye, and took Viv to her appointment.  I walked into the office with my sweet kitty, and left with an empty cat carrier.  That's when I lost it.  She had been with me through all of my twenties, all of those life events and she was by my side.  I couldn't believe she was gone.

I was a bit of a mess. :(

Then tonight as we were driving to Father's Day dinner, Sadie said from the backseat, "Mommy, tell me all of the things Viv Cat used to do when she was a little kitten cat."  So I told her how she used to run around the apartment, and jump, and play, and lay belly-up in the sun for hours, and snuggle, and rub her little face on anything she could find, marking it as her own.

And then Sadie said, "Mommy, she's going to be doing all of those things tonight in heaven."

"Tonight, sweetie?  Why not now?" I asked.

"Cause God's not done fixin' her yet.  But he probably will be tonight, and she'll be up there playing with Ray Cat, and Elsie, and Mr Bow....she's gonna be so happy, Mama."

And so tonight when I came home and the house felt so empty without her in it, I remembered what Sadie said.  That Vivi probably had the best night of her life tonight, running around like a kitten again in heaven with her other kitty friends.  And even though there's a hole in our hearts tonight, I know it was for the best.

Goodnight, Viv Cat.  Sleep well, sweet girl. 

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100th post!

Today marks my 100th post.

(alright, that's a lie it's 101, I messed up)

And in true blog-list fashion, I'm posting a list.

Our Summer to do list :-)

(and we actually already did a few of these this weekend, so there is satisfaction in being able to check these off already!)

  1. Go for a ride on the Seadog
  2. Go to Sailabration
  3. See the Blue Angels
  4. Attend a Free Family Sunday at the BMA
  5. Check out the Mr. Potato Head exhibit  at Port Discovery
  6. Have a water balloon fight
  7. Walk from our house to Federal Hill and back
  8. Feed ducks 
  9. Eat a snowball from Walther Gardens
  10. Read 100 books (Sadira)
  11. Read 10 books (Nasrene)  I guess we can see who the overachiever is in this family. 
  12. Go bowling
  13. Make homemade ice cream
  14. Go to a drive in movie at Bengies
  15. Eat steamed crabs!!!
  16. Build a sandcastle
  17. Go on a picnic
  18. Attend an outdoor movie night
  19. Ride the dragon boats at the harbor
  20. Take a tour of Camden Yards
  21. Visit Pierce's Park and West Shore Park
  22. Cookout
  23. Make a robot
  24. Eat a funnel cake
  25. Go to the farmer's market
  26. Do a service project for the community
  27. Go to the zoo
  28. Visit Our Playground at Stadium Place
  29. Go to a water park
  30. Spend a whole day at Annie's Playground
  31. Catch lightening bugs
  32. Make it through all four ballet recitals
  33. Go roller skating
  34. Make Cherry Blossom art
  35. Make flour stars for the 4th of July
  36. Glowsticks in the bathtub
  37. Make a ballet recital shadowbox
  38. Make frozen yogurt strawberries
  39. Study the phases of the moon...using Oreos
  40. Go swimming at Sandy Point State Park
  41. Get faces painted
  42. Play sidewalk chalk
  43. See Brave at the movies
  44. Plant a garden
  45. Dinner at By The Docks
  46. Go to the ocean
  47. Ride bikes
  48. Spend a day at the Fort
  49. Get matching pedicures
  50. Run the bases at Camden Yards.

Here's our progress so far:

#2 Go to Sailabration

#3. See the Blue Angels

#9. Eat a snowball from Walther Gardens

#15. Eat steamed crabs!!!

#24.  Eat a funnel cake

#31. Catch lightening bugs

#41. Get faces painted

Happy summer!!  And four days til Thirty-fun!!

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