This is my new necklace; I bought it to celebrate my upcoming trip to Germany. I heart Etsy. And birdzNbeez. Go there. Shop. My photog friends might like something like this.

It’s Tuesday, which is technically my Monday, and I’ve been up for nearly an hour, trying to ease myself away from sleepiness and into awake-y-ness. I’ve been house/petsitting for the last two weeks and today is my last day. I wanted to make sure to have time this morning to wash sheets and towels, because there’s nothing like coming home for a long trip and climbing into a freshly made bed. The plants are watered, the dogs are fed, the dishwasher emptied, and the floors and counters freshly washed.

And I’ve been spoiled rotten by all this solitude.
I forgot how much I loved living by myself. No matter how great my roommates are, no matter how much I love sharing space with someone else, nothing beats being able to come home, close the door behind you, and know nobody else is coming through that door. You know, unless you invited them. I’ve been able to really relax, and breathe, and think, and rest. Apparently I’ve been holding my breath for a long time.
My Nannyversary is coming up soon. It will happen while I’m in Germany so my bosses took me out to breakfast on Friday. They gave me two tickets to see Cyndi Lauper at the zoo and a gift certificate to a neighborhood store. I love my job. I love my babies. And I love their parents. We all just kind of sat there, marveling at how these once-4 month old babies were now over a year old, doing a bit of walking, a bit of talking, and definitely a lot of growing up. When the parents all went to work, the babies and I played extra, read a few more books than usual, because I know that I’ll blink and they’ll be in preschool, and that someday I won’t be their nanny, and I’m not ready for that to happen yet.
Baby Boy’s mom came home at 1pm on Friday and handed me an iced latte and told me to hurry up and go because I had a massage appointment waiting for me and a paid afternoon off to enjoy. There was an Alida-shaped hole in the wall before she even finished her sentence. I freaking love massages. And I miss managing the day spa because I no longer get regular massages. I love being snuggled in the warm sheets while someone with soothing tones and a lilting voice massages out the stress and bad energy. And yes, maybe my massage therapist was a little too chatty, and maybe he burned me with a couple of hot stones, and maybe he said he wasn’t going to do energy work because he thinks it’s a little silly (which maaaybe broke my heart a little because I do not think energy work is at all silly). But none of that mattered because I was snuggled in warm sheets getting a massage.
Afterwards, he sat me down and told me I don’t breathe enough. I know this. It’s not a surprise. My favorite massage therapist at the old spa used to put post-its up for me around my desk, all reminding me to BREATHE. To this day, I get random text messages from her that say, “BREATHE.” I hold my breath when I’m stressed or sad, worried or concerned. And this year has been a little stressful and a lot sad. And I’ve been holding my breath a lot.
So this weekend I worked on my breathing. I spent time with people I love, people who make me feel happiness all the way to my toes. Birthday toast with J, reunion lunch with a preacher man, homemade brunch with Lirpa. And between those times, it was just me and the dogs, walking all over the neighborhood, curled up on the couch watching movies, relaxing and breathing. Deep breath in . . . and out. And again.
On Saturday night, just as the sun finally began to set in Seattle, I leashed up the dogs and headed out for our evening walk. And as we walked, I focused on my breathing and worked on a list of things that make me feel peaceful. Because stress is guaranteed, and sadness is inevitable, but I want to be ready with an arsenal of supplies that remind me to breathe.
Things I Love:
-Coaxing myself into awake with fresh, hot, delicious coffee. Preferably in a beautiful mug. Add cream and sugar in emergency situations.
-Rituals with friends. When I meet J for toast, I know that I’ll get the raisin pecan toast with butter and raspberry jam and a pot of Darjeeling. I know he’ll get a pot of jasmine green tea. I know we’ll sit at the table in the corner, the one that wobbles, and we’ll forget that it’s wobbly until I rest my elbows on the table, causing it to rock, causing our tea to slosh everywhere, sending him running for napkins and me to dissolve into giggles.
-The first 5 minutes of being awake. It is very nearly the only time of day that Moo is snuggly and sweet. She’s never been a dog who wants you to pet her; she tolerates it, sure, but mostly she prefers to be left alone. But those first few minutes of our day? She forgets. She forgets and I wake up and she wakes up and scoots up on the bed until she’s snuggled into my side. And then I roll over to scratch her ears and she rolls over onto her back and stretches her head backwards to look at me and lick my face good morning. And we snuggle for a minute, and I gather strength for the day, and then we stumble downstairs for breakfast and a walk.
-Having friends with whom I am totally and completely myself. I may or may not have watched a very sad movie on Friday night, knowing full well it would make me cry. And, upon dissolving into a puddle of tears, I emailed Linds to let her know that I was sobbing, that I hate Nicholas Sparks because he’s a douchebag who writes predictable plots and always kills off a character I never really even liked anyway, but damn if he isn’t effective in making me cry every. Single. Time. And she wrote back and understood and agreed that he’s a sonofabitch. And she didn’t judge me, even though the same thing happened 3 weeks ago after I watched PS I Love You, which of course gets me every single time. She’s my person, who will sit on the phone with me, waiting until my tears have stopped. She’s the one who will laugh with me so much that we have to hang up and call each other back when we’ve settled down, only to realize that we’ve called too soon and fall into giggles again.
-Good music in the morning. Weekend mornings require reggae with my coffee. Tuesdays call for Perfume Genius, Neutral Milk Hotel, and YACHT. Thursdays need A Whisper in the Noise. Fridays absolutely must have ABBA, Motley Crue, and Gaga. Fact.
These things give me peace. These things remind me to breathe. These things I love and so will add to my life in larger quantities.
Breathe in. And out. Repeat. Re-peace.