mayacama mama


Favorite Things

In less than a month we’ll be moving into our new house on the ranch. We’re slowly going room to room trying to figure out what we’d like to keep and what we’d like to give away. When we moved from Pasadena to Carmel, we had boxes stacked up on our hearth that we never opened the entire year we lived there. We have a few boxes here in our rental house that we haven’t opened up either. As I look around at all our stuff, I keep thinking I just want to be surrounded by objects I love. I don’t want to keep moving boxes of stuff we’ll never use in a year or that doesn’t make me smile when I see it.  For example, this is the orange teapot I got for my birthday. I drink tea daily, and I’ve been heating my water in the microwave for about two years now. I missed having a pretty tea kettle on the stovetop.

When I was in college my room always looked so sparse compared to other classmates’ rooms. My junior year my friends noticed a chair that was deposited beside the dumpster below my window, and they helped carry it upstairs to my room so they could have a chair to sit in when they came over to visit me.  When I was living in Ventura when I met Stephen, my apartment was pretty sparse then, too. I didn’t have a lot of furniture. I didn’t even have a TV. But it was calming to me to have more open spaces in the rooms I lived in. The more cluttered my house is, the more agitated I feel. Why is it so hard though to let go of things that we really don’t like anyway?

Today is Day 24 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.



College Night

IMG_1875I’m going to Ukiah High School tonight for their College Night to give a presentation on Yale. Originally I thought I would just have to sit at a table and give out Yale brochures and answer student questions one-on-one, but then I found out late last week that if I was still willing to volunteer my time I would be giving a 35 minute presentation during three breakout sessions. Ten or fifteen years ago I would have had a panic attack, but I think I’ll be okay tonight.  That’s the beauty of age, isn’t it? The things that scared you when you were younger don’t seem quite as scary as you age.

Next year in May is my 15th reunion from Yale. Stephen and I went to my 10 year reunion before we headed off to New York and then Italy for our REI hiking the volcanoes in Italy trip. Those days before children. I can’t remember who said this to me once that it feels odd sometimes when people in one circle of your life enter another circle of your life where the two circles are usually separate and never meet. It felt a bit odd like that when Stephen came with me to visit Yale. I have a feeling it may feel a bit odd tonight when I give the Yale presentation.  When I’m here in California it feels like a whole other world over there on the East Coast.

Today is Day 23 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.


37 Years Ago Today

I sat down forty minutes ago to write. My laptop’s battery is down to 20%-time to plug it in the outlet by the stove where I’ll stand and type some more as Zoey calls to me from the bedroom for the 20th time to tell me she has to pee.  Although last time it was, “Mommy, I have to pee and poop.” I remind her that she already pooped at the restaurant tonight. We went out to eat for my birthday dinner because I forgot to defrost the bacon for the  Beef, Bacon, Kale Meatballs I was going to make. Remember the mess I was talking about yesterday? This is the mess.  This is imperfection butting its head into my desire to write a decent blog post tonight. And all I could do was laugh when she says to me, “No mommy, I went baby poop at the restaurant, now I need to do mommy poop.”

Today I turned 37. Awhile back I had listened to Krista Tippett’s podcast with the social psychologist from Harvard University, Ellen Langer talk about her research on mindfulness.  I was reminded today of that podcast because of the article in the New York Times today, What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set. I grew up with two parents who often told me they felt like teenagers inside despite each birthday that would come and go. I feel no different. It was very apparent to me two weekends ago when I was on my own–not in the role of mother or wife.  I felt like that younger 20 something year old girl who was single, and I have to admit a little fear crept in. For some reason it seems easier for me to be my braver self when I have little ones to be responsible for or when I’m in partnership with my husband. There is comfort in knowing he’s by my side. What intrigues me about Ellen Langer’s research is summed up by this line in the NY Times article, “If people could learn to be mindful and always perceive the choices available to them, Langer says, they would fulfill their potential and improve their health.”  Having worked in hospice, I don’t think I will ever see my age as “old” because I know how young 37 is in the span of a long life. But the thinking I do need to change in a more positive direction is how I think about my health and this ulcerative colitis. I live my life daily thinking about it and the food choices I make. Today I ate carrot cake for my birthday–obviously not on the AIP diet. Could the way I think about my health really change what is happening on the inside of my body? I’d like to think so.

Today is Day 22 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.

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I was reading the YaleNews and came across this quote by composer John Adams, “You have to get to that level of abject humility to finally get to the point of being receptive, then ideas come. Usually when they come they’re dressed in extremely shabby clothes. You just have to go with it.” 

His thoughts on creativity reminded me of what Andrea Scher and Laurie Wagner said to the group of us on the “Opening the Creative Channel Retreat” two weekends ago. They said we had to be willing to write poorly, do art poorly.  It’s in letting go of the need to do things perfectly that we are free to be creative. We just have to show up and be willing to make a mess.  This freedom to make a mess everyday keeps me going because if I waited for perfection to show up, I’d never get anything done.

This is Day 21 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.

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A Conversation with Zoey


Zoey: “Mommy, where’s my capskip?” It’s nearly 8pm and my brain is starting to shutdown. I have to think hard for a moment until I realize she’s asking for “chapstick.”  I find the chapstick and give it to her. She says, “when Zane gets bigger he can have an orange bottle of capskip like you and daddy have a green bottle of capskip.”

I hear less and less of Zoey’s “mom” these days.  My little girl is returning to me.  She still calls me “Jessi” sometimes to get my attention but even that is occurring less and less. Sometimes I’ll look at her and wonder what she’ll be like 5 years from now and then 10 years from now. How will she be the same? How will she be different?

“Motherhood is raw and pure. It is fierce and gentle. It is up and down. It is magic and madness. Single days last forever and years fly by . . . Be gentle with yourself as you travel, dear mother. Don’t miss the scenery. Don’t miss the conversation with your traveling companions. Laugh at the bumps and say ‘ooh, aah!’ on the hairpin turns. Buckle your seatbelt. You’re a mom!”
Aviva Romm, M.D.

Today is Day 20 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.


Sometimes You Have to Change Your Expectations


We had a pleasant drive this morning to Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, about a 30 minute drive from our house.  We were the first to arrive in the parking lot, but soon after the lot filled up with hikers.  We ate our lunch first at picnic tables just outside the trailhead.  I brought an old camera along that I gave Zoey to use.  She got busy taking about 20 or so photographs of the trees, her boots, Zane’s leg, and my forehead. The weather was perfect for a hike–cool but not cold. We finished eating lunch and started our hike.  We passed a man who was returning to the parking lot.  Zoey noticed he had no shoes on.  We imagined what it would feel like to hike barefoot through the woods. After about hiking for 5 minutes or so, Zoey announced she had to poop.  So back to the parking lot we walked. After her business was done, she said she was tired.  She was yawning and looked beat.  Although sometimes I must admit I’d like to be superhero mom, I’m really not. I couldn’t really carry Zane in the Ergo and Zoey in my arms while hiking. So despite the perfect day for hiking and my desire to spend some time among the redwood trees, we drove back home. The two kids fell asleep in the car and when we got home Zoey vomited on the couch. But we had a lovely drive and picnic lunch among the trees and that’s what counts.

Today is Day 19 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.


Pumpkin Festival

IMG_0515Today Zoey, Zane, and I went into town to experience Ukiah’s pumpkin festival. It started with a parade of trucks from various local businesses hauling kids around who waved at those of us standing on the street. I have never felt as much a part of small town America as I did today.





The mom of one of Zoey’s school friends apologized saying it was better last year. To be honest, I’m not one to get excited about parades.  When Stephen and I lived in Pasadena we walked over to see the Rose Parade one year and it was fun to see the floats, but I really could care less if I missed it every year, which I do because we only have Apple TV. There were various vendors for several blocks, and kids’ activities–a big slide, ferris wheel, inflatable jumpers, a car merry-go-round, face painting, and rock climbing wall. Zoey was too young for many of the kid activities, but she was able to ride the cars and crawl through the hay maze.  She had fun with her friend, and I’m sure this will be a yearly event that we’ll attend even after we move to our ranch.


This is Day 18 of the Write 31 Days series.  Other posts in the series can be found here.