Becoming a San Franciscan

I'm obsessed with people's stories. It's why I love novels and Instagram. Long stories. Short stories. Everything in between. I enjoy living in a dense city because of the human energy. I loved it when I studied in Rome in 2005 and I love it living in San Francisco in 2015. I'll gladly take the downside, the overwhelming swirl of it all, to get the upside, the imagination awakened. Every where I go, the people are fascinating. If only they knew how I notice all of them. Their wrinkled knees and red-rimmed eyes and aching smiles.

There's a lot going on. Time occasionally slips into a vortex. Hours whoosh by, leaving my hair messy and my clothing soiled. I shrink literally and figuratively from the demands of motherhood, even as it fuels me with the deepest well of purpose, reasons why I must be strong, why I must sleep and eat and take care of my self every time I get the chance. My husband's job, bless it, takes him away from us more than we like. But the job is also the reason we are in San Francisco and I wouldn't change any of it.

I am head over heels for San Francisco. The city by the bay. Paris of the West. The Golden city. Fog city. Rainbow land. Call it what you may, this place is magical. Today I drove west and found myself suddenly under the fog and it was so fresh and cool that the mist felt like something out of a storybook. Lord of the Rings mist. Hogwarts mist.

I drove home the long way, along Ocean Avenue and I didn't pull over to get a good picture, but I did taste the Pacific air and gaze oceanward at the stoplights. The fading sun slashed a few white clouds the color of a peach. It was only the hint of a sunset, but it was enough.

My heart often catches on these slices of heaven. The severity of life's beauty. The heartbreak of it. Because nothing lasts. On a cellular level, I will be a different person in seven years. I will look similar to the current me, but if the next seven years are anything like the previous seven, I will feel oceans away from this current iteration. I often notice that I am mourning the fleeting smallness of my babies, but it is not just them changing. It's me, too. It's everything. Never before has transience been more apparent.

San Francisco is a city of transplants. People come and they go. Sometimes they come back again. It is a city of International residents. I hear accents everywhere. Australian, South African, British. German, Chinese, Spanish. I try eavesdropping on French conversations at the gym and I am disappointed by how quickly they speak. I feel myself craving France, but that's another post.

Here, the architecture is quaint and the art is unexpected and the people are lovely. I am enchanted by the hills and besotted by the vistas and reverent to the ocean. I have been here five months and I've barely taken my first chip at the tip of the iceberg so I'm still unwrapping the reasons why I love it, and the ways it's loving me back.

Now, I am anticipating the storied cold of the coming San Francisco summer. I feel that perhaps anything is possible under the blanket of fog freshly churned by the vast Pacific. It contains a purity I want for my life. A clarity of thought, word and deed. A washing away. An emerging of new.

It must be spring.

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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Savoring October (10 ways)

I woke up yesterday morning and I felt cold. I missed the space heaters that I already purged because I thought we'd be gone before the drafts in this big old house began to crawl under the covers.

But it's October now and they've arrived, making me even more reluctant to emerge from my bed, which I didn't think possible.

October usually makes me giddy, but this year I'm in a funk about fall. The great purge showed me that we have a million costumes and dress-up clothes and I have no business taking my kids (or myself--let's be honest) shopping for Halloween costumes. Not even at the Goodwill.

This year I miss the summer. I miss the tilt of the earth towards the sun, bringing my patch of ground that much closer to the light. I miss eating dinner outside and sunbathing at the lake with my best friend and our babies. I miss chilled cans of Sofia Coppolla sparkling wine. I miss sweet berries from the farmer's market. I miss long days and Bicycle Sundays and bare feet in cool grass. I miss ice cream because sadly ice cream doesn't taste (nearly) as good to me in the colder months. (Unless it's atop a slice of warm crumble.)

Maybe it's not the summer that I miss but my entire life as it was this past summer and will never be again. Of course everything's always changing but sometimes, sometimes it's slow and easy to ignore, and sometimes it's so quick I can hardly keep up.

But I do. I always do. Life goes on.

Yesterday, October began. The first day of a new month holds great symbolic meaning for me. A lot can happen in a month, a lot of pleasure and happiness and change and unhappiness.

So I felt compelled to slow down and make one of my favorite months count, starting with a list. Here's a 10 point bucket list to get me (and maybe you) into the spirit of October:

1. Go to the farmer's market and see what's still growing in the Pacific Northwest. (CHECK!)

2. Spend a sunny afternoon in the Washington Arboretum. Take pictures with the Japanese maple.

3. Fry some famous Washington apples in coconut oil and cinnamon. (CHECK!)

4. Consume as much butternut squash as possible, preferably in the form of a creamy soup.

5. Go on a pumpkin-themed Trader Joe's shopping spree.

6. Mull some wine. (A first for me.)

7. Visit a nearby pumpkin patch.

8. Paint and/or glitter some pumpkins.

9. Use my slow cooker.

10. Write every damn day. (Because I will be moving this month & will have so many reasons not too. But life is too short to put off doing what we love, even for one day.)

Is it obvious enough already that I really really really love food and pumpkins?

How will you savor October? Tell me in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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

IMG_1593.JPG picnicking at the Columbia City farmer's market yesterday evening

Share Your Spring Walks

The earth is absolutely exquisite right now. Ceilings of cherry blossoms. Blankets of wildflowers. Rows and rows of tulips. Eruptions of color and life and light.

Have you been opening your eyes to it? I love how Instagram helps us notice the beauty, and make the beauty our own by adding filters and words.

Sometimes all it takes to clear the mind, inspire creativity and increase productivity is a spring walk. Fresh air, fresh flowers, fresh perspective.

Are you taking spring walks?

If you use Instagram, hashtag your #springwalks and tag me @lucilleinthesky so I can follow you and we can share in the season of rebirth.

I want to know: what does your corner of the planet look like right now?

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Spring Intentions

As winter softens into spring, each day stretching longer than the last, I have created an on-going list of my intentions for the season. To me, intentions embody both goals and fresh ways of thinking. New perspectives and new practices.

I love to celebrate the beginning and end of each season by articulating my intentions. This practice helps me to feel more connected to the earth and rooted in my values.

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(If any of these intentions resonate with you and you'd like to join me, please let me know!)

1. Family always comes first. Mothering is enough.

I don't need to be a famed author or a wealthy entrepreneur to be joyful. Yes, I need to write and I need to create, but the end result is irrelevant as long as I am doing what I love.

On the other hand, when it comes to mothering, the fruits of my labor mean everything: the happiness of my kids. It doesn't matter how prolific I am on a day to day basis as long as my family is happy.

I wrote this intention because I have days when I feel like I'm not doing or being enough. I would like to revise this belief: I am caring for my children every day, and that is always enough.

2. Write when you can. Don't feel like you must.

See #1.

Writing is like an addiction, and though it can sometimes interfere with my relationships (like all addictions, I'd venture to say), it's better than many of the alternatives. I set this intention because I want to be easier on myself; free to enjoy my life rather than obsessing over the next opportunity to get to the keyboard.

3. Cultivate inspiration. Live an inspired life.

Take walks. Sit in the sunshine. Draw pictures. Notice small beauties. Experiment in the kitchen. Talk to people. Ask questions. Read good books and good blogs. Make lists (see #5). Write poetry. Pick flowers. Brainstorm pitches. Make pitches. Window shop. Talk to trees. Stare at the sky. Play outside.

4. Love yourself. Know your potential.

Take nothing for granted.

Remember achievements of the past, appreciate the perfection of the present, and dream big for the future.

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5. Take notes. Don't expect the brain to hold it all.

This has been especially helpful for blogging. If I don't write down my ideas and thoughts right as they manifest, they will often fade away, shadowed by more pressing matters. Such as feedings and tea orders and what's for dinner.

6. Blog weekly.

At least once per week. Preferably two. Maybe three. Because I love this creative outlet. And because writing about my life is incredibly cathartic and empowering and enlightening.

7. Drink one green smoothie per day in April.

My friend Jessica posted on Facebook about the 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge and I immediately agreed to do it. I already drink green smoothies on a regular basis, but I was excited to step up the frequency a bit. 8 days in and I fall more in love with green smoothies every day. Someday soon I'll post my current favorite recipe.

8. Exercise 30 minutes per day.  

This one was inspired by the #1800minutechallenge which challenges bloggers to exercise for an average of 30 minutes per day April 1-May 30. Since I am still recovering from childbirth I am pretty liberal with my minutes, counting every thing from easy walking and gentle stretching to cleaning the house with a baby strapped to my chest. Really, at this point, I just want to get back into the exercise habit and figure out how to make it work for this particular season of my life.

9. Connect.

Make plans with friends. Talk to friendly strangers. Schedules dates with James, even if we don't leave the house.

When I choose to venture into social media land, I will not click away without connecting at least once, leaving comments and likes and replies.

Listen to people. Listen deeply to what they're really trying to say. Read between the lines.

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