30 Intentions For My 30s

For my 30th birthday blog post, I started a few different lists, including 30 lessons I've learned, and 30 reasons I'm glad to be 30. But I realized I don't want to look back on what I've learned and how I've changed, I want to look forward. I want to ask, what else is possible?

I feel as if I have been waiting my whole life to enter this decade. I have idealized my thirties as a time when I will know I have arrived in adulthood. Of course now that I'm here, I realize I've been in "it" for years.

This decade of my life in this body is unwritten. My hope is that these intentions serve as the architecture for what is to come:

1. I go to bed at a decent hour.

2. I share my thoughts in personal and public ways.

3. I write and read everyday.

4. I make new friends and keep the old.

5. I practice patience and equinimity.

6. I see more of the world.

7. I submit and publish my stories, essays and poetry.

8. I enjoy the life I have built and the person I discovered in me in my twenties.

9. I speak nicely to my husband and children.

10. I choose love.

11. I moderate my internet and social media usage.

12. I move my body daily and I eat organic, whole, tasty foods.

13. I balance consumption with creation.

14. I feel my feelings without trying to numb them.

15. I am confident in my talents and abilities.

16. I value my worth.

17. I give freely and I receive freely.

18. I believe in the beauty of my dreams.

19. I do not worry what others think of me or say about me.

20. I stay true to myself and my values.

21. I measure time in inspiration rather than productivity.

22. I believe in miracles.

23. I notice synchronicities, and I let them guide me.

24. I listen to my intuition and I follow my heart.

25. I read to my children.

26. I date my husband.

27. I stay connected with my loved ones.

28. I practice non-attachment.

29. I relax into the present moment.

30. I allow the universe to show up for me in exciting ways.

Writing this list felt good. A wave of well-being moves through my heart each time I read it.

Thank you for being here, and please feel free to add your own intention for the next decade of your life in the comments below.

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To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

The Bright Side

Sometimes I have the distinct sense that the universe is looking out for me. As if my life is a partnership between me and the ether. And like any relationship based on love, whether it is between lovers or friends or family, the universe has the power to hurt me, and it will hurt me. But it also has my back. I didn't get the first home I applied for in San Francisco, but I did land in the best place for my family.

I had some negative experiences as a working woman (from 12 hour days and 45 mile commutes to a good solid Ponzi scheme), but those experiences made me that much more inclined to travel, explore, excavate my dreams, and do what I actually love.

I was never skilled at the dating game, but I ended up marrying the perfect man for me.

I feel deeply called to be a writer which is not necessarily an easy career to break into, but I was born with the persistent gene so at least I know I will never give up.

I was also born with the indecisive gene, but I've recently discovered that I am never indecisive about the things that truly matter. So when I catch myself in a vacillating state, I can flip the proverbial coin and/or go with my first instinct and know that I made the "right" decision. (Or know that maybe there is no "wrong" decision.)

I've struggled to balance my life and also build my business, but because of my openness about this struggle, I may have found some business partners who are strong in the exact ways I am weak.

I get the worst kind of hangovers, my body cannot handle more than a bit of alcohol, but because of this I stopped binge drinking.

I had unhealthy eating habits and a negative body image from a young age. In my attempts to lose weight I discovered a passion for health and wellness. Now I am (generally) mindful of the foods I eat and the example I'm setting for my daughters. I've also learned to celebrate my love of food rather than try to fight it.

I have mild scoliosis and a high risk of osteoporosis, giving me extra motivation to make physical fitness (and good posture!) a priority.

The list goes on. Call it a silver lining or the bright side. Call it providence or fate. Call it God or the universe or the ten thousand things. Just call it something. The struggle is real. "Good" and "bad" are in knots so that we cannot have one without the other.

Can you think of something painful that changed you for the better? Do you believe that the universe has your back? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail [dot] com. I'd love to hear about it. 

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Mommy Stress (Why can't I relax?)

There we were. It was a Friday evening. A beautiful bright Friday, somewhat rare in the bipolar month of March. In two days, my baby would be four weeks old and we were taking her with us out to dinner for the first time at one of those conveyor belt sushi places.  I anticipated the sashimi after 9+ months of abstaining.

I should have been enjoying myself.

I wasn't.

In the car, Skyla cried. We'd left the house to pick up James' car from the mechanic but then we'd ventured further so I could get my new iPhone. And I felt guilty. I didn't really need a new phone, I just wanted one. I didn't really need to stay out and about, I just wanted to. As my tiny baby flailed her arms and screamed her little heart out, growing sweaty and crimson and all out of sorts, I knew it was my fault. No longer did I want a new phone, no longer did I want to get out of the house after nearly 4 weeks of holing up, I just wanted to hold her in my arms and soothe her frayed nerves.

Alas. We were already there. The parking meter wouldn't work and James was parking his car on another street and my moby wrap touched the dirty sidewalk as I clumsily wrapped myself in it while my baby continued to believe she was being tortured. I felt like a drippy foolish mess.

I got her in the wrap and hooked her up to my breast. James showed up and found a parking meter that would actually spit out the sticker. Gigi entertained herself in the AT&T store. I got my shiny and sharp gold iPhone. It was dinner time and we decided we might as well eat somewhere nearby. The rain had come before the sun and so the light reflected off of the slick streets, shrinking puddles of sunshine.

We were in a pedestrian-heavy neighborhood of Seattle and everyone around us seemed to be smiling. (The sun will do that to us Pacific-Northwesterners.)

I was not smiling. I clutched Giovanna's hand, weary of the cars whizzing by, separated from my babies by just a curb. The world can be such a scary place when you have so many fingers and toes to lose. This was one of my first outings as a mother of two and I thought it to be pretty damn intimidating.

What if someone coughed on my baby? What if Giovanna caught salmonella from the sushi? (Not that she was eating the raw pieces.) What if she broke free and ran into the street? What if a car ran up onto the sidewalk? What if someone hit us on the way home? What if my baby cried again? Would there be sweat marks in the car seat? Would her brain be irrevocably damaged from the neglect? Did it count as neglect?

Why was I so stressed out? I felt jealous of everyone on the street who seemed relaxed, I felt jealous of my former childless self. So carefree and unencumbered. Never again will I be so free.

And this is what I love most about my life: my family. my children. So why can't I take refuge in my blessings and relax into them?

A crux of parenting: either I'm not with my kids and I'm worrying about them, or I'm with them and able to focus on little else. Either way, they're in the forefront of my mind. Unless they're sleeping. Right now Skyla is snoozing and I can see her on the video monitor. Giovanna and Emile are with James in the hammock and though I can see them through my window, I don't have to watch them.

Gigi has a baby doll and Emile is wearing sunglasses and I'm still worried that someone is going to fall out of the hammock and get hurt. But because they're with their daddy, I know he will catch them.

I daresay I am semi-relaxed. I love this feeling. Like I'm dipping my toes in the ocean. I want to be here more often.

I don't want to live my life in a state of anxiety. It's exhausting and draining and soul-sucking. I want more trust and less fear. I want to enjoy things like a sushi dinner on a pretty Friday evening, the sunset tinging the edges of the sky orange. Not the orange that means CAUTION but the orange that means FUN.

How do parents learn to let go of their worries? Is it possible? I know there are many mothers out there who struggle with this. I feel them. We are desperate to protect our babies from hardship, disease, injury and heartbreak even while knowing that our control is not powerful but powerfully limited.

All we can do is pray. And worry.

What I don't know is how many mothers out there have managed to siphon the stress away, channeling this nervous energy into something useful. Maybe even beautiful.

I would like to channel it into my stories, the fiction I write while everyone else is sleeping. My previous post here was part of a blog hop in which a group of writers made fun of our own paranoia by writing a story together through the eyes of an extremely anxious person. We had a grand ole time and we found some new friends in one another.

I'm tired. I want to relax. I want parenting to be lighter. Maybe it's not meant to be light, but surely I can learn to manage the stress when it starts to impede on my mental health and therefore my disposition.

I am going to practice. Perhaps the more I focus on relaxing, the more relaxed I will become. Perhaps the more I find my happy place, drinking herbal teas and getting massages and reading books, the better acquainted I will become with that happy place and the easier it will be to find when I need it.

I want to focus on being rather than doing. (Which includes thinking.)

I want to enjoy this fleeting and fragile time in my life with greater ferocity.

I want to embody love rather than fear.

I just want to stress less. About everything, from the rampant messes to the safety of the playground (see picture below) to the circulating illnesses to the state of their hearts.

Say it with me: don't worry, be happy.

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Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies with Sea Salt & Coconut Sugar

I wanted to believe that my pregnancy-induced sweet tooth would exit along with my sweet baby. Alas, this did not happen.

I love nursing my daughter. I love the connection and the coziness and the fact that I can make perfect food for my little sweetheart.

But nursing makes me hungry, more hungry than pregnancy. Nursing makes me think about nuts and chocolate and butter all the time.

So when chocolate chip cookies with pecans and sea salt showed up on my Instagram feed, I took to the Lovely Lanvin blog for her recipe. (She had me at pecans, she sealed the deal with sea salt.)

When it comes to baking, I rarely follow a recipe. It's just too fun to color outside the lines. Also, if I'm going to bake and I'm going to indulge, I do what I can to improve nutrition while not compromising taste.

These cookies were everything I'd hoped they would be.

I swapped out half the butter for coconut oil, halved the sugar and used coconut sugar instead of the white/brown blend (coconut sugar contains some important nutrients and doesn't cause the same blood sugar fluctuations as other sugars). And I added more nuts, including walnuts, because why not?

Next time I'm going to try oats and ground flaxseed instead of whole wheat flour.

I bake one sheet at a time and freeze the rest of the dough for later at a half-hearted attempt at portion control. I've already gotten two dozen cookies out of this recipe and I still have more dough.

As cookies go, these were very easy (especially with a stand mixer) and very well received by the family.

Peace, love and chocolate, I say. Especially when you've got a baby to fatten up.

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies with Sea Salt & Coconut Sugar

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies  (adapted from Lovely Lanvin)

1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter 1/2 cup coconut oil 1 cup coconut palm sugar 2 extra large organic eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 3/4 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup pecans 1 cup chopped walnuts 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark)

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and oil until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently to make sure the butter and sugars are mixed well. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate mixing bowl with a whisk. Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture, making sure everything is mixed well. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, making sure the chocolate and nuts are evenly mixed throughout the dough. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 9 – 10 minutes.