Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Almost 40

20 things I would love to go back and tell my 20 year old self … on my 40th birthday.

1. Skipping meals makes you fat.

2. Perfect families are boring families.

3. You actually make yourself wealthier and more powerful when you can do basic skills such as cooking, car repair, sewing, and cleaning. Ignore the gender implications, saving money when you're young matters more.

4. You may think you have figured out where you stand with your faith, but the struggle never really ends.

5. $10,000 is not a lot of money.

6.  College grades matter much less than experience and connections.

7. Make sure your moisturizer has SPF….and wear it every day.

8.  Hold your best friends tight.  It gets harder and harder to make true friends as you age.

9.  Motivation happens through action, not before.

10.  You look ridiculous riding a razor scooter with your kids when you are (almost) 40.  But do it anyways because it is fun.

11. Less stuff, less stress.

12.  Never waste an otherwise perfect day at the beach worrying about your back-thigh cellulite.

13.  You can't convince love.  So stop wasting your time and find the one who loves you with all of his heart. And (hint) he might be wearing nerdy glasses and a Stanford sweatshirt.

14.  Eat all the ice cream you can.  Because you might turn 40 and not be able to eat it anymore.

15.  Run all the miles you can.  Because you might turn 40 and it might become very painful.

16.  Don't change your name when you marry.  It doesn't make you less devoted to your husband or your family.  Yes, it is purely symbolic.  But symbols are important.

17.  Don't listen to any person or any institution who tells you how to dress or otherwise appear.  It is not okay.

18. The power of compounded interest over time is a real thing. There is nothing you think you need in your twenties that will be worth the compounded savings you will achieve in your forties and beyond.

19. Skinny jeans….not your best look.

20. Be patient with your siblings, they will someday be your very best friends.  For reals.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Duck Island

I'll never forget the day our offer was accepted on our current Seattle home. I was still in Reston, VA with the boys: working, packing up, and selling our NoVA house.  Ed was in Seattle, working a new job by day and running the real estate rat maze by evening, searching for that elusive block of cheese with a six-figure price tag.

Our new house was in a neighborhood that I had visited once and had never stopped thinking about, near a beautiful lake, with the Seattle cityscape rising in its background. I could barely believe that our offer had been accepted in the crazy gold mine that is currently Seattle Real Estate.  The honeymoon is now mostly over as far as my neighborhood is concerned, but it was a day full of possibility and wonder.

When the boys came home from school, I told them the news about the house. I hadn't yet mentioned the possibility of this house to them.  We are careful with our money and I didn't think we really had much of a shot with this particular house in the land of escalating clauses and offer review dates.  By some random stroke of luck, our offer had been accepted.  The boys and I looked at pictures of our new home and maps of the surrounding area. We marveled how close the lake and their school would be to our house. Asher immediately zeroed in on a fine detail from a map of the lake….a small mysterious island. Duck Island.

Duck Island continued to mystify and thrill eight-year-old Asher. Over the past two years, we have Asher has speculated about what kinds of things inhabited the island for many hours at a time….Buried treasure? A native people? Was it like Australia…where they sent all the criminals? (this was probably the most realistic theory, as it faced the Aurora Ave side of the lake).  We have walked around the lake with the island in full view, boated around the island, peeping into it's thick moat of greenery and trees with binoculars, all many many times.  Why I never thought to just dock our boat and go take a look on one of those occasions is it's own mystery.  It just seemed so….Forbidden.

Asher touching landfall
Last July, with NoĆ© at summer school and two hours to kill before he returned, Asher and I kayaked on the lake.  And we did our usual loop around Duck Island.  Asher, once again, asked if we could stop.

Why not?

There wasn't an inviting place to dock our two-seat kayak, so I stayed anchored to the boat while Asher hopped onto land (kind-of reminiscent of Captain Cook setting foot on Hawaii for the first time…or maybe the opposite).  He was eager to claim this unchartered territory, exactly seventy blocks from downtown Seattle, as his own.  I said a quiet prayer that no island natives would tie him up and run him over a fire like a human shish kabob.

It didn't take long for Asher to run back to the boat after circling the island (it's not really a very big island).

He was out of breath, a glint of excitement in his eyes. "Mom, guess what?  I think NATIVE AMERICANS live on the island.  There's a teepee and everything!  I took pictures!" He had taken my iPhone on his island tour and began to click through photos.

the sacred site

He had either uncovered North American Indian artifacts worthy of a natural history museum or a hobo hangout.  All bets on the latter.

We rowed back to shore with smiles on our faces, heroic conquerors of tiny urban islands.