I was on deadline Friday night. I stayed up until 2AM writing for a client to push to get it all done. I had already extended the deadline far too many times, and I knew if I didn’t get all the writing done before bed, it would spill into the next week. Why? My daughter’s first birthday party was the next day and my whole family was coming to stay for two days. And this is why I forced myself to finally get all my backlogged work done, and after that, why I unplugged: I wanted to take a vacation in my own home.
I am starting my own business; it is messy; it is busy; it is organized chaos. My days typically consist of morning writing, a quick motivational piece for my Facebook group for empowered women, then catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, and my own website. All of this takes about an hour, involved finding a quote I love that relates to the empowerment theme of the day, writing my response to said quote, posting on social media, and responding to others’ comments from the night before.
Often, amid this work my children wake up, jump on me, and require breakfast, and, you know, attention.
I spend the morning with my kids after that, usually out at a park. We come home for lunch and nap time. Celaya and I do some reading together after her sister goes down, and then she heads to her iPad and I head to my desk. We spend a couple hours of quiet time, each in our own private worlds.
At this point I work on anything I have for clients, respond to messages and comments on social media, and organize any must dos on the personal front, bills, appointment setting, etc.
Once Matilda wakes up, we all come back together for play time, snacks, snuggles, and then I either head off to my tutoring center or out for a run, depending on the day.
Afternoons are flexible, dinner is routine, the kids play after dinner with Carlos, and I do a bit of work before bath and bedtime. Once the kids are in bed, Carlos usually turns in early, and I am back at my desk, writing, responding, networking, planning, etc.
I have really taken to this routine; I thrive in it. I have cut one more day out of my tutoring schedule, so I can be home more with the kids, and make this freelance writing and public speaking thing really work.
But, it is constant. I enjoy it thoroughly, but life is full and nonstop. For my whole life, I had plenty of downtime and relaxation built into every day of my life. I watched lots of shows during nap time or after bedtime, I read a lot, and I had alone time.
Since August, when I started this new venture, I have to schedule in time for myself. I have to force myself to relax, unwind, watch a movie, spend time with my husband! I have to remind myself that if I don’t take time for myself and for the people closest to me (the kids don’t count, I couldn’t ignore them if I tried) then all of this is for nothing.
I’ll be a hugely successful writer and public speaker who is dying on the inside and has let her relationships fall by the wayside.
This weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to, for the first real solid time, unplug, and just be in love with the people in my life.
Saturday was the party, and I hit the ground running. I had about forty people coming, so I needed to start food and decorations, get ice and balloons, and get myself and the kids ready by 4PM.
I made three kinds of meat, carnitas, shredded beef, and shredded chicken for tacos. I had bought the giant packs of guacamole and red salsa from Costco. Carlos had made a giant pot of beans the night before. We also had veggies and ranch, fresh fruit, and the crowning glory: the iced lemon cake.
I put the beef in the crock pot, the chicken in the stock pot, and cubed the pork for hours of braising in a cast iron skillet.
I ran out for the stuff you have to get the day of: ice and balloons. I also wanted a few more decorations for the cake.
By the time I got home, my sisters had arrived with my brother in law and my niece and nephew. My oldest was distracted with her cousins, and the birthday girl was still napping. I put my sisters to work decorating and got back into the kitchen. My brother decorated the cake we had made the night before, and we began putting food on the table.
My guests arrived right around 4, and as they were walking in, the last touches were put in place.
The party was wonderful. My extended family was all there, my immediate family was all there, and my friends were all in attendance. Fortunately, my apartment and patio are nice and spacious, so the kids ran and played, the grown ups ate and drank and visited, and I walked from group to group and got to spend at least a little time with everyone.
Matilda cried when we finished singing to her; it must be overwhelming to have forty people singing to you in the dark. She barely ate her smash cake; she had been quite constipated up to that point. And she was ready for bed by the time everyone headed out around 7PM.
I put the baby to bed in the back of the house and just sat and visited with my sisters and brother as our children played.
Sunday was a family reunion day for my mother’s side of the family, so we spent the afternoon visiting with aunts and cousins. We grabbed Chipotle for dinner, and we spent the evening, well into the morning, up and visiting, just us sisters.
We laughed, we shared memories, we commiserated over hard times, and we listened to each other.
And the whole time, the entire time, I barely looked at my phone. And I never got on the computer once. My fingers never touched this keyboard.
I took the fewest photos of any weekend I’ve ever spent at a party or with family.
I just loved my family and my friends. I just listened to stories and shared my own. I just let my heart fill up.
And my heart did indeed fill up.
This is easily the first time in my life when I have been perfectly at peace with every single person and every single experience at play. I was fully present, and it was amazing.
I have spent the last several months sending out apology messages to the few people in my life to whom I have been an asshole, with no expectation of forgiveness or reciprocation.
I have spent the last few weeks getting to a completely judgment free place in my life. This is obviously a work in progress, but it is a remarkable feeling even in its infancy.
I am not competing with, comparing myself to, or working to impress or judge anyone. Anyone at all.
I am at peace, and I spent a weekend that could have been stressful and too busy and chaotic… at peace.
This, I finally understand, is what a genuine, constant joy feels like.
I found in my own home what people, myself included, travel miles to get, struggle to find, and then come home without. I found genuine peace for a whole weekend.
Because I’m working on peace within.
I took a vacation in my own home. I unplugged. I leaned into loving the people in my life.
And it felt great. Great enough to want to replicate, to want to grow, to want to spread.
It is Monday now, and everyone has gone home, the decorations are down, the refrigerator is empty, the cake plate is clean.
But my heart is full.
It is good to be back at my keyboard, back on social media, back in the fray.
But this weekend was a two day reminder that in order to have something to talk about, to write about, to post about, to connect about, I have to have experiences worthy of all of that.
And if I am going to have experiences, I want them to be the best they can be.
And in order for them to be the best they can be, I have to be in them, fully, unequivocally, present.
Although in the future I will be sure to take a few more pictures.