She liked it.

The other day I spent half the day cleaning out and organizing my 9-year old’s bedroom.

She’s in training for Hoarders, something had to be done.

Silly Bandz, Rainbow Loom elastics, books upon books upon books, so many that she could institute her own personal Dewey decimal system. Gobs of Polly Pockets (have you ever stepped barefooted on a Polly Pocket doll? It’s an 8 on a pain scale of 1-10), lone American Girl socks, several broken necklaces, endless supplies of sea glass, 19 acorn caps, several reams of stickers, probably 52 dried out markers, 5 booklights that don’t work, koala bears that cling to pencils, the contents of 17 goodie bags, and Valentines from the last three years of school. This was just the first bin.

Did I mention the number of animals on her bed?

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What can I say about my earnest yet life-curious let’s-bring-in-all-my-stuff-for-a-hug kind of girl?

Collector girl.

Adventure girl.

Collector of song lyrics and gum wrapper girl.

Lover of all things animal/nature/theater/the written word girl. Hater of any of the above being passed along or, gasp, thrown away.

So let’s just say I tidied up a bit. Did a furniture re-org. Made some space on her dresser and hung a few pictures. It felt good — it looked even better.

When she came home home from school and walked into her new room, she blurted out, “Wait a minute. Wait. just. a. minute. You redid my room and DIDN’T EVEN ASK ME?”

The fury.

I braced myself. I could handle it. It needed to happen.

She flopped down into the beanbag, her new reading nook, and flashed a giant smile.

“I LOVE IT. This is the nicest room a girl could ever ask for. Thanks, Mom.”

Relief. She liked it.

She paused, looked pensively out the window, thin slats of afternoon sun falling over her hair and face.

“It’s just missing one thing,” she said.

“Oh?”

“Well,” she paused. “A ball pit. I’ve kind of always wanted one. Like, with a bridge — so you can jump into it.”

Right.  A ball pit. Maybe next time.

 

SIT BACK AND NAMASTE AWHILE

It’s official! I’M A YOGI!

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{photo credit: Darren Setlow}

ELLEN –> YOGA TEACHER

Or would that be Ellen COMMA Yoga Teacher?

Of course, this means I have to actually teach yoga to be a teacher but hey – one class down, copious amounts of awesome classes to go.

I. AM. SO. EXCITED.

And, hey, I’m blogging again. That’s pretty super.

[My resume is blowing up as I type this.]

Of course, I’m still a mama to my girls. My internal life-skills-meter just keeps rising.

Why? Because turning 40 was good for me. Turning 41 was even better. Life is SO beautiful. Each day, a freaking gift. And I’m choosing to grab hold of all of it. Maybe even by the balls.

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I’ve earned my wings over the last couple of years, and becoming certified as a yoga teacher was just what I needed…that push out of the nest. Caring less for what people might think about me, and a whole lot more for how I perceive myself. Holding space for people in my heart, absolutely. But having compassion for my own gifts, too. We could all could use more of that, right?

A little self-love never hurt anyone.

Stay tuned for yoga classes, or contact me for private instruction. Pass my name along. I may not be Instagramming selfie handstands while on a paddle board in Costa Rica…(not yet anyway), but I promise you that I am a well trained, very accessible, and thoughtful teacher whose life has been changed by this practice and its teachings.

At the very least, follow along with me and maybe you’ll learn something about meditation, maybe learn a new pose. Or perhaps you’ll simply get a laugh or two, because — I admit – I try my best to offer up some of those.

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A couple of chuckles, some Namastes.

LAUGHTER AND LOVE. THE BEST MEDICINE.

Forty-one

Woke to the birds singing outside my window. Cool breeze wafting in through my window. Ahhh. My birthday.

And then, suddenly, high pitched screams of my 6-year old saying, “You’re the worst sister in the world!” only to be followed with “Well, I hate you and wish I didn’t have a sister!!” The sound of a door slamming. Then another door. I gathered my chicks in the hallway – neutral ground – tried to coach them through it. Hug it out perhaps? No takers.

“Hey ladies. Guess what today is?”

Chloe looks at me like a fox might look at a rabbit just before it goes for the jugular.

Hope does The Thinker. “I don’t know. What? It’s your birthday?” she says.

“YES. And so I’d like some peace for my birthday. Which means no arguing before 7AM.”

Hope, exasperated, says in a flat tone: “Fine. Happy birthday.” Slams her door.

Chloe slams hers, too, and manages to say through the door: “I’m not in the mood to say happy birthday to you right now. I might be later.”

Ellen, ___________.

Forty is fast approaching for me. I’m not scared of it. Not wishing to be 30. Nor 21. I’m ready to meet it head on, to embrace it, even. But like most people, I can’t help but be reflective. What have I accomplished? Have I made my mark? Have I made A mark?? My resume is choppy, zigging here, zagging there.

So many cities, so many business cards.

PR, marketing, business writing, magazine writing.

Telluride, San Francisco, Syracuse, Portland, Seattle, Manhattan. The list goes on.

And with what to show for it?

I grew up presuming there would be a comma after my name, showcasing my special skill.

Ellen, actress.

Ellen, writer.

Teacher.

Landscaper.

Interior Designer.

Ellen, ___________.

That looks kind of sad.

But I fell in love at 24 and cashed in my not yet earned chips to follow my man around the whole US of A. By the time we landed almost a decade later, I was pregnant and delighted to become a mother. Delighted to make a home for our little growing family.

Eight years and two beautiful children later, friends are asking me if I’m scared of turning 40. I’m not. Because each time I’m swallowed up by the depths of my almost-40 am-I-making-a-difference despair, I imagine the word “mother” in that empty space after my name. I am one. Mother to two bright, shiny children —  they are currently my job. When I was young, my parents divorced and my mom began to work hard — very hard —  to juggle being a mama to my brother and me but also to teach her students and to teach them well. She hustled and managed to make a difference at home and also at school, to shape the minds of her children and of her dozens of students. Year in, year out.

BRAVO to that.

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I looked up to her and still do. Very much. I know at times her life was frenetic. Sometimes turbulent. And tireless.

As I approach 40, I am living this life on a most cellular level. Getting my hands dirty in the garden or sticky with glue from craft projects. Driving to and from school or dance lessons, running again to the grocery store where I buy from the same mind-numbingly repetitive list. I’m not always good at it. Some days are better than others. Some are…well, turbulent. Some days, my patience wears thin. But I am thankful for the opportunity to even stay home. [Thanks to my sweet husband, who makes it possible by providing for his three ladies. We are your biggest fans.] THANKFUL.

I’m doing my best to take it all in. Knowing that I won’t be wiping  bottoms for much longer, that my children will grow older and not rely on me so heavily. Or that my 7-year old won’t always want to share with me the intimate details of her day.

So then I will make time for that line after the comma. Make time for those other life skills.

But — for now — no beating myself up about it. Because I beat myself up enough for the the wrinkles around my eyes. So, here’s to embracing 40.

And for embracing this:         Ellen, mother.

Deep Thoughts with a 5-Year Old

My youngest to me this a.m.: “Mom. Mom. Mom? Did you know Sugarloaf is, like, 100% more better than McDonald’s?”

Me: “It is? Hmm. [Trying in my head to decipher how this comparison of a ski mountain and drive-through crappy food has come to life.] How are they similar?”

Her: “Well, the food is way more healthy at Sugarloaf, that’s how. Sugarloaf doesn’t drop bones and beaks into their food.”

Word up, my little burgeoning vegetarian.

Little Privacy

Our 7-year old runs off the bus today, right past me and into the house, her jeggings and sherpa-lined boots a blur as she drops her backpack, flies up the stairs to her bedroom. Slam, goes the door. Our younger child, aged 5, looks at me. I look at her.

Hmm. Welcome home.

A minute passes. The door opens.

“MOM!” Can you dial Alex’s number for me, please?”

“Um, I guess so?” I say, unsure of the phone transaction about to go down. I mean, you’re 7. What will you talk about? How awesome gym was today? How funny that Scooby episode was? How the very large wooden Nutcracker you’ve been sleeping with – since Christmas – fell off your bed last night, making such a big thud that I thought there was a perp in the house?

I dial. Hand it to her. She retreats into her room. Closes the door, giving me one last look as if to say, Um. Little privacy, please?

If someone had answered on the other end, would I have pressed my ear to the door? Eavesdropped on the juicy first grade gossip? Hard to say. (Pretty sure that’s a yes.) Luckily the door opens, she comes out. “No answer,” she says.

We walk downstairs and within minutes, she is playing with her sister. Playing babies.

Sigh. A moment of relief. Not yet a teenager, not even a tween, but my sunny 7-year old.

“Okay,” she says to her sister. “I’ll be Nancy, and you be Lily again. Okay? Sound good?” Little sister nods, grateful for girl time. She hikes up her jeggings. Those friggin’ jeggings. I resist the urge to unearth a onesie, see if it will stretch over her long torso, over those crazy long gams. Could I fold her up and stuff her back in my womb?

I sigh and do that crazy math where I start adding up the years, seeing how old I will be when they are a certain age. Or how old they will be in X amount of years.

7 doubled. Teenager. Hates me.

7 tripled. Dear God, drinking age. [How can she be closer to 21 than me? How can I be closer to FIFTY than she is to 21? Dear God. Need drink.]

I close the door on that worm hole and sit next to them, listen to their playtime. Knowing I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be want to be 21 again if you paid me, knowing fully well I would rather be here than anywhere else on Earth.

For serious, really.

Getting my blog up and running again has only taken me, oh, about five years. Longer. And now that it’s set up, I admit, it makes me nervous to think that I need to provide content. Not just type out what I had for breakfast, but maybe come up with little vignettes. Funny ones. Or useful ones, making your time spent here worth it. Then I remembered why I started this in the first place. To log some memories, pics, adventures. It’s not as easy, however, to find the time to sit down at the computer whilst my girls require, say, parental attention. The other day I sat down to try to bang out a couple of lines and then…my vignette. You should know, we are fairly JV in the tech department when it comes to our kids, but we do have iPhones and an iPad so my kids can swipe with the best of them. As I sat staring at the computer on my desk, empty-headed thoughts beginning to rise from the dead, I caught my youngest, age 5, attempting to alter something on the screen of our quite ancient cathode ray tube TV sitting behind me. She was swiping away on the dusty screen until I said, “Oh, no, honey, that’s not a touch screen.”

“I totally knew that,” she said, walking away.

Remember. She’s 5.

“Totally, huh. You did?” Because why the heck doesn’t every screen in the world operate like a smartphone?

“Yep. For serious,” she said. “Really. I just thought if I tried hard enough, I could make it into one.”

Well, gee whiz, with that confidence, you probably can.