Powers and Passions

Well, this was unexpected. In the span of 48 hours, I applied for, interviewed, and was offered a job. And even though I went into the interview thinking the job wouldn’t be for me, I was severely torn when I got the offer.

The process had been a whirlwind and they expressed such excitement over my application that the situation immediately escalated in my mind. I began to imagine my future with the company – full of pencil skirts, hand shakes and promotions in the heart of downtown. Truly, the opposite of my current path – full of muddy boots, low paychecks, and uncertainties. Wallowing on the floor of our living room, trying to decide between the two jobs, I watched my life divide into two possibilities in front of me.

After hours of conversations, pro-con lists, and even tears, I finally circled back around to the basics – the job that I was currently being offered was not what I wanted. Imagination and potential aside, the reality of the situation lent itself to a very easy decision. So when I got the call with an updated offer, I felt prepared. What I had not prepared for was a conference call with the position’s supervisor and the Executive Director of the organization selling me on the imagination and potential in this job. These two, successful, leading women called me to very earnestly persuade me to join them in a path filled with opportunity (and pencil skirts and promotions).

And I lost it.

Which direction should I choose? Where should I be steering my career? What if an opportunity like this never comes again? I circled through the exact same conversations, the same “what ifs” and the same wallowing. And then my mind exploded. I’ve spent my career educating and inspiring youth to become future environmental leaders. Was it time for me to realize that maybe I was one of them? Maybe this was my chance to kick “saving the world” up a notch and lead an organization into the next generation of environmental battlefields. But, instead of using my passion for education and direct interaction, I would be using my personality powers and morphing into a professional event organizer, fundraiser, and shmoozer. And holy hell would I be good at it. Almost everyone I talked to mentioned how perfectly suited I would be for that role – how naturally those things come to me. There was no question that I would excel at it, so was I just afraid to take the plunge?

I’m certainly no stranger to fear, and I have no problem calling it by name. I was very much afraid – of change, of failure, of making the wrong decision. But what I feared more than anything else on the list was turning away from my passion.

An amazing friend, who was also the first person to hire me out of college and catapulted me into the world of environmental education, talked through every step with me. We analyzed the nuances, the possibilities, the feelings and then we discovered it. It was the difference between my powers and my passions.

I possess certain personality traits – my boss qualities if you will – that make me really good at things this job was asking for. But those powers are innate and while I’ve chosen to own them, I didn’t really ask for them. What I have asked for, and what I strive every day for, is to make the world a better place by igniting a love of nature in others. My passions drive me to ignore salary ranges and promotion potential for the promise of watching a person realize for the first time that they are part of something so much bigger than themselves. My passions have caused me to chase ducks and hug trees and work weekends and suffer from farmer’s tans. They’re the entire reason that I work at all (I mean, aside from bills and stuff, but you get the idea). The path I’ve chosen is the only reason I have any faith left in humanity – if I can make them feel why it’s worth saving, maybe they’ll help me save it.

Chasing Ducks

So, while I’m still young, while I have Mr. Rathroy to support me (in my decisions and our finances), and while I succumb to tears when I consider diverting from this path I’ve chosen, I’m going to push forward. I can always fall back on my personality powers, but not pursuing my passions for as long as possible is a choice I would forever regret. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to combine them both and save the world single handedly. Until then, I’ll be out chasing ducks and hugging trees and watching other people light up when they do it too.

Loving Trees

Priorities 101

Welcome to your crash course in adult priorities. The class is Pass/Fail and there will be a test every single day. Some days, you won’t even know it’s a test, and on those days you can rest assured that you are failing.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been on a parkour course between the workplace and the home place – trying to keep a handle on the revolving door of adult life. You mean I have to do laundry again this week? And why are people still sending work e-mails at 8:00pm? Nothing ever settles or stays clean or is laid to rest and I’m left with an ever increasing list of tasks that need tending. And on the opposite team are my beloved Mr. Rathroy, our dogchild, my new favorite workout routine, and the oh so anticipated drama of House of Cards. Not to mention quiet time that a person might use for some light reading or blog writing…

Despite the juggle routine, I had been feeling pretty smug about my pass to fail ratio these last few weeks. Sure, I haven’t blogged in a while, and our house is a tad less tidy than I would prefer, but I was killing it at work, finding time to exercise, and everyone had clean underwear. That sounds like winning to me. That is, until a particularly rough Monday landed me and Mr. Rathroy on the couch with beers and a couple House of Cards episodes. Normally, I would allocate that time in my mind as a deserved break or fun bonding time with my husband, until I realized the next morning that there was no food in the house.

Mr. Rathroy would have Carl’s Jr. for lunch the next day (not that he minded), and I would spiral into guilt-town for spending an entire evening on my ass instead of taking care of something, anything productive. Where were my priorities? And from there, the snowball grew. It chased me down my mountain of to-dos like a bad Indiana Jones dream until I found myself on the floor of our bedroom, huddled in the corner next to the outlet so that my phone could charge while I held it to my ear to discuss a work emergency at 9:30pm. Smug doesn’t last long in the corner…

I’ve been hearing a lot about the rule of thirds lately. It’s been applied to everything from social media posts to personal finances, and it might be time that it applies to my own priorities. I still feel like I’m being chased by the insatiable snowball at times, but I’m hoping that setting goals and standards for task hierarchy will help me stop running and start accomplishing.

1/3 Work

1/3 Home

1/3 Fun

This is, so far, just a theory. I am currently not the leading expert on setting appropriate priorities as indicated by my muddling through these words after an 11 hour work day on a laptop in bed with a snoring husband next to me. There are a lot of things about this current picture that would change according to the Rule of Thirds, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping for. Whether it stands the test of time as the greatest Priorities 101 lesson remains to be seen. But it will be a shift toward balance, and I think all of the thirds in my life will appreciate that.

Friends in High Places

Mr. Rathroy runs with a serious crowd. And by serious, I mean seriously successful. I’ve married into a social circle with people that get paid to do things like drive brand new cars, open new Disney resorts, and produce reality TV. Serious.

Our quick trips down to Southern California are probably more frequent than our bank account would like, but they’re always full of laughter, good food, lots of friends, and usually big life events. This past weekend was no exception as we attended a beautiful wedding (and paid for it dearly with hangovers) in Santa Monica. And even though the outline of our trip was similar to all the rest of them – same friends, same restaurants, same sunshine – by the time we got home, it felt like I had visited another world. A world where owning a home and having a decent job seemed somehow subpar. A world that ran on 75 degree weather and name recognition.

Grunion Gazette

Small things popped up throughout the weekend. Things that weren’t even pieces of new information but, piled together, created a fourth dimension that I never considered myself privy to. While perusing the local newspaper, almost every byline included a familiar name. Over a casual lunch, I learned about financing large-scale commercial real estate by a professional in the field. Even at the wedding, a Los Angeles County Supervisor was in attendance. I started examining the professional lives of our friends and became immediately insecure. Mr. Rathroy’s friends are famous. Whether they are locally known or voted onto the Forbes 30 Under 30 (true story), they are building legacies in the fields of journalism, business, politics, entertainment and more. And all of these people came to my wedding.

I make weekly meal plans and clean our baseboards and all of our extra money goes into our next home improvement project. I have anxiety over our dog and haven’t been to the gym consistently in 4 months. I own a house. I’m a wife. And I plant trees. That’s it. Not fit to be featured on the silver screen or to be fraternizing with such an elite southern California crowd.

As we headed back home, I felt the mediocrity caving in around me. How could my real life compare to the high level success stories that we basked in for the last 3 days? And I’ll tell you what didn’t help – that once we got home, we had to caulk our shower and do laundry like a couple of chumps.

But, while I tried to grumble about the boring chores and yearn for glamor, I noticed that all I really felt was happy. I tried to scold myself for a lame career or a small savings account, but I couldn’t. I was home. I was a wife. And I was happy. I’ll even admit that we were in bed reading our books by about 8:30 last night. And it was AWESOME.

I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such successful, vibrant people (no matter which city we’re in). It reminds me to set goals, to chase what I want in life, and to thank my lucky stars for the life that I have. Because even if my name is never on a byline or up in lights, I succeed every day as long as I choose to. And that’s a powerful choice.

Plus, I’m pretty much famous by association with friends like that, right?

In addition to all of the personal revelations and life choices, this weekend was incredibly fun. Sadly, most of the pictures I took were on my phone either at night or when I was 3 cocktails deep (or both), so they didn’t turn out great, but I had to at least share some highlights!

Claire Dinner

Veis Wedding 1

IMG_1467

IMG_1472

Veis Wedding 3

Veis Wedding 2

We were so excited to celebrate such a happy day with our friends. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such inspiration and dedicated people!

Over the Mountains and Through the Woods to Sarah J’s Farm We Go

It’s already been a week since our winter weekend getaway! After packing all of our cold weather gear last weekend, we headed northeast for 3 hours to get over the mountains to Sarah J’s house.

Sarah J's house!

Sarah J’s house!

Before the wedding we spent a weekend helping with farm chores at family farm where she’s beginning her own organic vegetable production! It’s pretty rare these days when we get to spend time with Sarah, and it’s also pretty rare when we get out of civilization, so we figured we’d double up and head on out of town!

It took us about 2 hours into the drive to realize that we’d forgotten almost everything we planned to bring – camera, whiskey, pajamas, etc. And the temperature gauge on my dashboard that read 15 degrees didn’t instill much confidence in our decision.

The very frozen road to Sarah's house.

The very frozen road to Sarah’s house.

But as soon as we arrived, it was nothing but good food, long conversations, farmhouse tours, and snow hikes.

Playing in the snow with the farm dogs.

Playing in the snow with the farm dogs.

Frozen grasses along our hike up the hill.

Frozen grasses along our hike up the hill.

Young trees have it pretty tough up there!

Young trees have it pretty tough up there!

Sarah's favorite tree drops tiny snowflakes in the breeze and it looks like the sky is full of glitter.

Sarah’s favorite tree drops tiny snowflakes in the breeze and it looks like the sky is full of glitter.

As fun as it has been to settle into our marriage and our house now that the wedding craze is over, it’s easy for us to forget how much we both love a little adventure. Even if it’s just 24 hours on a frozen farm, it helps remind us what we’re working toward. We came home with more love in our hearts for our friends, for the amazing and beautiful pieces of California, and for each other.

Ho Ho Holy Sh*t

The month of December causes anxiety, craze, and meltdowns for lots of people. I know I’m not the only one suffering from holiday hyperventilation right now. But, I usually sail through Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the food, the family. I love spending time and energy shopping for the people I care about. I generally just love the holidays. So it’s strange for me to feel exhausted and irritable in December, but I do.

I feel overbooked, over budget, over worked, and overwhelmed. Maybe it’s different this year with so many of our friends living out of town. Maybe it’s because I officially have a husband now and I want to start traditions for our own family on top of the ones from our childhoods. Maybe it’s because this December I have two jobs, and a house that insists on falling apart, and a dog that has to be in a crate when we’re not home because otherwise she’ll eat the bindings of all of our books.

Book Bindings

Whatever it is this year, I’m over it. The other night, I tried to pick a date for us to go downtown and watch a Christmas light show sometime, anytime before Christmas and I COULD NOT DO IT. Holy sh*t, dude! The show is 20 minutes from our house and lasts for an hour and I couldn’t squeeze it in between all the out of town trips to see friends, holiday parties, fence building, and our jobs.

So, naturally, I had a meltdown. I flung  myself as far away from my phone (calendar) as possible (I no longer fling my phone since I learned that phones don’t respond well to blunt force trauma). I buried my head and let the impending doom of my Christmas schedule suffocate me. We were screwed. We’d never spend time alone together again and we’d certainly never have enough money to take our New Year’s road trip down the Eastern Sierras like we’d planned. I hate Christmas.

I remained in that state of tightly wound bah humbug for at least an hour – scowling at our bank account balance, the grocery list, the empty space that used to be a back fence. And when I finally moped my way into our bedroom, I saw my new favorite (and Mr. Rathroy’s least favorite) piece of wall art.

Happiness

“Happiness is by choice, not by chance.” Somehow I had let myself forget that I made all those plans that were now suffocating me. I said yes to all of those things on my bursting-at-the-seams calendar. I chose to overbook myself. I chose to cut it a little close on the budget. And I chose to freak out instead of looking for flexibility in the schedule so that I could go to a light show with my new husband (my new husband that has to be tired of meltdowns by now).

At that moment, I chose to be thankful. Thankful for the many wonderful friends that welcome us into their homes when we visit. Thankful for the jobs that pay us so that we can buy gifts for our families. Thankful for my exceedingly wonderful husband that is working outside in freezing temperatures right now to build us a new fence. Thankful for our families that create such wonderful holiday memories with us each year. And thankful for Christmas.

It’s so easy for me to believe that I’m the victim of my life when things get hard. To become overwhelmed and helpless and just hold my breath until it’s all over. But that’s not how I want to live out any chapter of my life, especially the ones that include Christmas! Sometimes it takes a swift kick in the ass to remind me, but I have the ability to make decisions and there’s no reason for any decision to end in anything but happiness.

Things I Want My Kid to Know

With all the new babies in my life, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking, reading, and talking about parenting. Indeed, I am of the age where the weddings start to dwindle and the baby showers boom and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t caught the I-Want-A-Baby bug.

While Baby Rathroy isn’t exactly on the way (it’s only been 3 months since the wedding, people), all of this baby brain has helped me reflect on being a woman, what I think it might possibly mean to be a mother, and how truly difficult it can be to grow up gracefully in this world (Lord knows graceful was not the path I chose…).

So, I compiled a list. A list that I’m sure will be obsolete by the time I have adolescent children, and may even be way off the mark to people that are parenting right now. But, it’s a list of lessons I’ve learned through tears, heartbreak, cruelty, therapy, and a continual search for self awareness. It’s a list of things that I want my daughter to know, that I hope might help with the tears, heartbreak and cruelty that she’ll encounter in this world.

The sisters and parents that helped me learn so many lessons.

The sisters and parents that helped me learn so many lessons.

1. It’s not your job to cater to other people. Not to a boy, not to your teachers, not even to me. Your job is to be yourself, your best self, and to provide that to the world.

2. Sexy is a state of mind, not a body type.

3. Being outspoken, opinionated and decisive are leadership skills. That makes you an extrovert, not a bitch. Though there is a thin line. Use those skills to be a leader, not a dictator. (And if you’re an introvert, that’s okay too, but you’ll have to talk to your father about what that’s like.)

4. No one in this world will ever complete you. It is up to you to make and keep your life full. Whatever someone else brings into your life (be it a friend, a mentor, a partner) is a wonderful bonus.

5. Your body belongs to you. No one else gets to determine what happens to it.

6. Your mind belongs to you. No one else gets to determine what happens to it.

7. The world does not owe you anything. It will provide for many of your needs, but if you want something, you work for it.

8. Drama addiction is real and it’s capable of draining the happiness from your life.

9. Be proud of yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to pat you on the back. Acknowledge your own accomplishments. Because if you know that you’re awesome, then it won’t matter if someone else thinks differently.

10. Education will create incredible opportunity in your life. Learn everything. I don’t care if it’s a Ph.D. in astrophysics or vocational clown school. If something interests you, gain as much knowledge about it as possible.

11. Sometimes death isn’t the end. It’s complicated, and everyone has their own ideas on the subject. Find your beliefs and let them help you through grief, because there will be grief. But it doesn’t have to be the end.

It’s far from a comprehensive list, and I’m screwed if we have all boys, but it’s a start to hopefully building a confident, courageous, and curious daughter. And even if this list is moot for one reason or another, it’s nice to see that positive lessons really can be created, even in the face of tears, heartbreak, and cruelty.

#Rathroy Wedding Weekend Update

Perhaps instead of laying around watching Netflix or learning how to do a sock bun this afternoon, I should have used my post-wedding sore throat and sniffles to update you on the crazy awesome wedding weekend that Mr. Rathroy and I just had.

So far, I’ve attempted to write about the event 15ish times. Turns out, there’s no way to do it succinctly. Therefore, I’ve included some highlights below until I can wrap my own brain around the fact that the greatest wedding of all time was actually mine.

The lead up was rough. Within about the last two weeks of the wedding countdown, there were 5 deaths that directly affected our guests (including one for each Rathroy), there was one emergency c-section (that brought beautiful baby Claire into the world), and there was a big giant forest fire.

These cute little guys line the streets of Foresthill. Ironic.

These cute little guys line the streets of Foresthill. Ironic.

Needless to say, it took a lot of meditating and a heavy dose of the always calming Mr. Rathroy to get to the big day without a nervous breakdown.

And suddenly, our friends started pouring in. They came from Long Beach, from Sierra City, from Seattle, from San Diego, from Ione, and from so many other places. They surrounded us and quite literally filled the streets (our street at least) with hip hop and laughter and I’m pretty sure they were still dancing on their way home two days later.

So many incredible friends.

So many incredible friends.

Our families greeted and mingled and got bossed around (by me) and smiled through all of it. They stood in the “no one saw that coming” heavy sprinkles to take post-ceremony photos and gave toasts and welcomed the formation of a new, bigger family.

People ate prime rib and made custom orders at the mashed potato bar. I scarfed down deep fried artichoke hearts and fried risotto. Mr. Rathroy sipped Johnny Walker Blue and we danced well past 1:00 a.m.

No one tells you how hard it is to dance in a corset. It's hard!

No one tells you how hard it is to dance in a corset. It’s hard!

We woke up in a smoke filled room (refer to the forest fire mentioned above) with new rings on our hands and chocolate truffle cake for breakfast. Okay, I was the only one that ate cake for breakfast…It was truly the greatest and most fun wedding I ever could have dreamed of. And because I still get a little weepy when I realize it’s all over and will never happen again, I’ll just show you some preliminary, iPhone photos stolen from all of my friends. As soon as The Goodness finishes up our photos, I’ll force you to look at those too.

Getting Ready

decor photo

Aisle

Ceremony

Party

Thank you to everyone for the support, whether you were actually there or sent your love through the magical internet airwaves. It was so incredible and I can’t wait to actually digest the fact that I am now, officially, Mrs. Rathroy.