around town: Phipps (Spring is HERE!)

Phipps62Phipps6We can actually say it now that our coats are closeted: spring is here!  It snowed in Pittsburgh this week, then went back up to the 60’s, then 30’s, and now we’re at 60’s again.  I handled Sapporo’s negative temps and Minnesota’s blizzards, but discovered living here that I can’t handle oscillation. Birds are chirping outside my window right now so I’m going to call it: no more snow.  Please for the love of God.

Phipps Conservatory is one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh. We were able to enjoy gorgeous flowers and tropical plants year-round. It’s the first place we visited and, like our local diner, I just can’t keep it out of my rotation. Plus it’s a ten-minute drive from our house. I’m sure there are other cool places here, but every time I want to get out of the house this is it. (Lest this sounds like a commercial, I do NOT do promos on this blog. I just really like this place!)  And if you are a fan of Chihuly glass, it has a great collection.  Thank you, Ann Printz, for telling me about Chihuly!Phipps9Phipps43Phipps69Phipps4I love that all the paths accommodate even our large jogging stroller, but it still has that slightly “overgrown” feel you want in a garden.  Nothing feels stiff or too manicured.  The Congo room is one of my favorites—it has two and a half stories of trees and flowers from the Congo, as well as some streams and waterfalls.  It turns out horribly on camera because it’s so massive in person, so I don’t have many pictures of it here.

Lucy and I popped into Phipps this morning and spent awhile in the fern and orchid rooms, which are humid and good for our ailing sinuses! And orchids are such cheerful flowers. Lucy said “wow” and “flower” for the first time (my heart broke into a thousand pieces), and loves to point to the plants. We can usually kill a couple hours here, and mama gets to workout and enjoy a latte & vegan chili at the end. Incidentally, Phipps has some of the best cafe food in town in my opinion, and they harvest a lot of the vegetables from their sustainable, organic gardens. It’s not just a slogan: I’ve seen them do it! I really want to go there for a dinner date with Michael. We have walked around on a date night—which I highly recommend. If there aren’t many people it’s a sneaky place to smooch (try the Congo room) and if you have a membership it’s pretty much 1Phipps46Phipps40Phipps41My mother-in-law said that Houston doesn’t have anything like Phipps, and I don’t even think NYC does, or at least not that I encountered.  For such a small town, Pittsburgh’s got it going on!  I hope these flowers brighten your day, and if you are still buried by snow or in a flowerless environment, bring the outside in as much as possible!  I killed our orchids but am planning to buy more this week, along with succulents (which I was told you can’t kill but I did when we went on vacation).  Oops.

PS. The trains that went around all the flower exhibits will be back in October, parents. They’ve been removed for the spring flower show. So don’t worry. Although my husband suggested we spray paint “Phuck you, Phipps!” on the side of the building to show our children’s displeasure at their removal :)Phipps75Phipps76Phipps73Phipps60Phipps52Phipps42Phipps37Phippsfam3Phipps45Phipps29Phipps33Phipps14Phipps15Phipps12Phipps35

tip Tuesday: let it go

photo 2I don’t know if I had particularly clarifying dreams last night, but my first thought of the day was “let it go.”  The Disney song is so pervasive that if I closed my eyes and tried really hard I could probably turn this Pittsburgh tundra into a badass palace.  But let go of what?

I’m sitting in bed, sipping chai tea and watching the sun rise over the park.  This is the soundtrack.  I tried to light some candles but my nightstand ones burned down so I lit a few matches and blew them out just to enjoy that smell.  That smoke-smell is a muse on its own. And then I get it.

Let go of:

Everything.  Anything that makes me feel heavy, unworthy, unlovable, restless, and dull. Anything that doesn’t add to my goals.  Anything I wouldn’t want Lucy or Michael to be thinking or participating in.  Anything I wouldn’t want my friends to be thinking or participating in.  Anything that can’t be changed.

Easier said than done, especially for those of us who’ve been through the ringer.  If you’ve suffered a tragic loss, abuse, neglect, or any big heartache, it’s natural to OBSESS, even if those things aren’t recent.  Surely if we think enough about something we can figure it out and avoid it in the future. Except we can’t.  And unless you are the cause of someone else’s loss, abuse, neglect or heartache, you aren’t responsible for those bad things.  Let it 1The nasty thing about loss, abuse, neglect and heartache is that we can only go through the past so many times.  When that becomes unbearable, we replace that noise with meaningless things that don’t feed us.  You know what I’m talking about.  I’ve participated in all these behaviors in the past week.  They’re not particularly dangerous taken on their own, but collectively they can be roadblocks to letting it go:

  • Too much of voyeuristic/reality TV shows (a little can be interesting in a psychological sense)
  • Websites/profiles of people who are responsible for said loss, abuse, neglect and heartache.  Yep, they are still there, still being douchey.  Yes, they unfortunately have really great hair and other douchey people like them.
  • Stalking frenemies.  Those people you might kind of get along with if they weren’t self-important
  • Music/Books/TV we don’t really like but feel the need to complete.  We don’t have much time on this earth.  It’s OK to turn the channel, close the book.  Same with people you don’t really want to hang out with
  • Physical habits that fill the silence: biting nails, picking zits, overeating, not eating enough
  • Thinking of all those THINGS you kind-of-sorta-need eventually
  • Making too many lists instead of doing things
  • Worrying about what total strangers think of you
  • Thinking in terms of “if only. . .”  If only I had that new job, that promotion, that extra $1000
  • Online putzing: refreshing websites obsessively, reading articles you don’t really care about, too many cat videos, Twitter statuses, blog stats
  • Old emails/mementos from toxic people

I could go on, right?  We are only human, but how many times a day do we do tons of these things?And it actually prevents us from letting go of hurt.  Because to let go of hurt, you have to hold it in your hands first, and you can’t do that if your hands are tightly clutching all this other crap.  You have to examine hurt, hold it loosely, and then. . .LET.  IT. 3

I have a diagnosis!

If you’ve ever had a condition doctors couldn’t diagnose, you’ll understand my utter relief that they FINALLY figured it out.  For the past 8 months, I had appointments almost every week, sometimes multiple a week.  The symptoms?  Facial swelling and redness, eyeball swelling and redness (I could no longer wear contacts) and constant headaches from all the swelling.  I talked about my medical issues before but didn’t want to litter the blog with updates or talk to friends about it.  I was tired of being a broken record.  The only thing that helped was a strict diet of absolutely no caffeine, fruit, dairy, or carbohydrates.  Try that for a few days and you’ll want to kill yourself.  When I exclusively ate beans, fish, and veggies (excluding tomato and avocado, which are technically fruits), it MOSTLY went away.

Besides the headaches and dietary restrictions, my vanity was crippled.  Let me tell you: if you lose 20 pounds but no one can tell because your face is swollen. . .what a reality check. God was really working on me, challenging how I judge people by their physical appearance.  Why are women so hard on themselves and each other???  I felt lazy, ugly, and fat on days with awful flare-ups.  I focused on the symptoms that affected my vanity rather than the tiredness and headaches, which were actually more debilitating.  Proceeding as usual was hard with what Michael called the “constant noise in the background.”

BUT today the doctor of doctors looked at my pictures, medical history, my eyes and skin and diagnosed me with Morbihan’s disease, ocular rosacea, and rosacea.  Treatment is medication for at least a year and some creams.  I just emailed my two main doctors the good news—they are going to be overjoyed.  They were calling friends in other cities and talking to specialists to figure this out before throwing up their hands and suggesting a dermatologist.  I was tested for auto-immune diseases, allergies, and tried multiple medications and nothing worked.

The doctor could’ve told me it was cancer and I would’ve said, “What’s the game plan?” I just wanted a label—not knowing is always scarier. Maybe someone else Googling their symptoms will find this post and find an answer sooner than I did.

I don’t know how to add emoticons to WordPress, so imagine the dancing lady in red and a smiley face doing somersaults here ;)  Let the healing begin.


Happy Birthday, blog!

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Pastedreams is 1 year old today!  Thank you all for keeping up with me and special thanks to Bobbie, Chris, and Gillian for encouraging this endeavor in the first place.  I made this blog public last February when I was drowning in snow in NYC and was a new mom to a 2-month old.  We stayed inside a lot, and I was tired and restless.  Blogging was a great outlet that supported me through that time and so many others.  I originally aimed to share my life with Michael’s family and our friends, but ended up connecting with lovely strangers.  I really appreciate all your comments, likes, views, and support.  The past year has been CRAZY, mostly in a good way: we moved from NYC to Pittsburgh, went through lots of job changes, got used to being parents, traveled a ton (Lucy has already been to 14 states!), bought a car, and grew a lot.  I’m writing more, doing more art and craft projects and, largely due to this blog, feeling mentally sane.  So here’s to blogging—I promise to be just as honest, open, snarky, eclectic and creative in the coming year!


PS. Forgive the obscene amount of photos. . .I didn’t even include any over the past two months.  This year has been ridiculously full of great memories!!

pimping out the babe (hug a mom today)

I don’t litter social media with pictures of my baby, which makes it weirder when people EXCLUSIVELY like photos of her.  It’s like they are searching for gold in an otherwise lackluster mine.

I get the impulse: there is nothing cuter than a baby.  When I scroll through a feed and DON’T like a friend’s baby picture it feels like an angel will lose its wings, so *click* goes the like button.  Still, it’s a little creepy to ONLY “like” baby pictures.  I’m invested in that parent’s whole life, not just their little product of procreation at which they were very successful.

Do any other moms feel like this or am I snarky?  Lucy is my heart and she has reshaped my world completely.  But when people only invest in her, I feel like I better keep the baby pictures coming or disappear into a pile of diapers and vegetable purees.

Sometimes I think, “Heather, wear the hairshirt of obedience and be super Mom.”  It seems sacrilegious nowadays to talk about ourselves as being whole people.  We are either career women or career moms, not both.  And we have to live through our children, be talked to through our children.  A couple of my mom friends feel this way.  They are tired of getting texts that only request pictures of their baby, tired of people at church knowing their children’s names but not their own after the fourth introduction, etc.  Children are adorable, safe, pure, hilarious (and great at cocktail parties).  They naturally demand attention wherever they go.  This is precisely why you should hug a mom today.

I’m a mother.  I’m also a hard worker, a writer, an artist, a wife, a friend.  If you know a mom, don’t always ask about her kid.  Don’t just “like” the baby photos.  Be more substantive.  Ask what music she’s into lately, what books she’s reading, what her favorite thing is to do with her child, what her plans are for the future.  Talk about the last episode of Downton Abbey or who wore a hideous dress to the Oscar’s.  I’m so grateful for my close friends who GET this.  Often we don’t discuss Lucy at all, which is fine, because when I get off the phone I can smell her on my skin (delicious) and I’ll be soaking her up all day.  It’s easy to disappear into her, but on behalf of all other moms, don’t let me.