The Work. 

Hey Loves! 

Above and below are pictures from the fern cave that we visited on a really magical hike that Danny and I took this morning at Wilder Ranch. We saw a BUNCH of birds and bunnies, and spent a solid ten minutes watching otters play in the water. We were both bursting with gratitude and joy at 730AM. 

Last week, a friend asked me to teach her how to BuJo (read: teach her how to use the bullet journal system). I was *thrilled.* While Danny, my parents, and most friends will listen to me talk about my BuJo when I get excited, this was the first time that someone had actually requested that I talk about it. In detail. 

As I was explaining different things that I track and lists that I make, I mentioned that I have a list for ‘Notes’ for the blog that I write for my family and friends. Except that  I realized as I was saying that that I haven’t actually written a post in about three months (making that list both long and mostly irrelevant at this point). Today, we’re going to remedy that, and I’m going to recommit to writing here regularly again, at least on a biweekly basis. (I know how deprived everyone has been without their weekly dose of sunset and beach pictures. 🤓)

As you can see from my upcoming weekly BuJo set-up, I’m traveling to Michigan this week. My cousin is getting married, to a really wonderful man, in Traverse City, which is perhaps one of the prettiest places that I’ve visited in the continental United States. I am pretty excited about a Ledvina family reunion (and equally excited to not be at work for a week. Because oh my goodness, I’ve been working my booty off). 

Danny isn’t joining me for the trip – our future was a bit uncertain at decision time – but, as you may have gathered, we are still together. ❤️ We have both been doing (a LOT of) emotional and spiritual work, individually and together, and we want to keep working together, for as long as that makes sense for both of us. 

And, people, as it turns out, emotional and spiritual growth IS work. So much work. Hard work. Every day. And I’m not entirely sure how to explain what that work looks like yet. At its core, the work is uncovering the Truth that exists inside all of us and that we already know, on a deep level, and using that Truth to respond appropriately to what happens in the world. Which is a really incomplete and abstract description that I will attempt to both expand and concretize as I continue on this path. 

The above is a list from the Refuge Recovery book by Noah Levine that I really liked and copied into my BuJo. (Sidenote: Noah is from Santa Cruz, and is responsible for starting the Against the Stream Meditation Society, Refuge Recovery, and Dharma Punx. I have a slight fangirl obsession with him, and ordered all of his books last week.) In the Work, the first list is the set of values / behaviors that we aspire too, and the second list is of the behaviors that we renounce. They are, of course, pretty unsurprising and seem basic, but I suspect that most people struggle regularly with at least a few of them. 

For me, The Work looks like this: most days, I wake up around 5:15, and start the day by writing my morning pages. [The picture above is of my first and second morning pages notebooks. The bottom one with the colorful design was $5, whereas the top one was only $2. I made a deal with myself that if I stuck with the habit, I could have the $5 one for my second notebook. I did – and am actually almost finished my second one – but didn’t realize how much bigger the designed one was. Writing three of those pages is significantly more, so I’ve been doing 2.5 per day in this notebook.] After my morning pages, I read from a couple of Al-Anon daily readers, and check in with my BuJo. I then meditate for 10-15 minutes. After that, I pack my lunch, get ready for the day, and Danny and I go walk for 20-30 minutes. Then I go to work. 

This is me, hard at work. 😉 My coworker’s daughter / my best friend came to visit and it was the best lunch break ever. 😍

Some people think that I’m crazy for waking up as early as I do voluntarily. But the things that I do between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30AM are infinitely more valuable than the things that I do between 9:30 and 11:30PM (read: looking at Facebook). I’m a morning person, and I have stopped believing that staying up late makes me cooler. 

One place that my practice lacks is during my work day. Most days, I’m moving so quickly and have such a full plate that I barely have time to think about any of The Work. In an effort to correct this imbalance, I walk during lunch 2-3 days a week, go to yoga at lunch on Wednesdays, and go to therapy during lunch on Mondays. The most important piece for me is to get out of my office and really disengage from work. On the days when I’m not able to do this, I feel completely depleted by about 4:30. My job requires me to talk to people and make decisions, like, all day long, and it’s kind of exhausting. Lunch breaks matter. 

After work, I go to meetings most nights. A rough schedule of my favorites: 

  • Monday: Refuge Recovery 
  • Tuesday: Al-Anon or Against the Stream
  • Wednesday: Refuge Recovery 
  • Friday: Refuge Recovery
  • Saturday: Al-Anon
  • Sunday: Refuge Recovery and Al-Anon (which I’m probably going to start rotating with Rebel Dharma) 

Can you tell that Refuge Recovery is my favorite? 😉 I don’t go to every meeting above every week, but I go to most. And I really love all of it. I’ll expound on how much I love these communities/Sanghas in future posts; suffice to say, they are the most honest, supportive, loving, beautiful spaces that I’ve ever entered, and my heart constantly feels like bursting with gratitude that I’ve found these places and these people. ❤️

Finished puzzle.

In addition to weekend meetings, I also do some of The Work in the form of recovery journaling and reading. And! I’m joining two women’s study groups, one for Al-Anon and Refuge. I do slack at meditating (outside of meetings) on the weekends, and don’t do my morning pages either, which is going to be a goal in upcoming weeks. Progress, not perfection. 

Perfect day at Pleasure Point.

So yeah, it’s a lot of work. But to be clear, it’s work that I want to be doing, and that I consider to be probably the most important work of my life, thus far. And, I’m not all work and no play! I still hike every weekend. There is lots of music and dancing in our apartment. I read novels. I watched all of the new season of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards in the past several weeks. I go to the movies. I hang out with friends. 

Danny and I saw Baka Beyond at a house concert a few weeks ago, at my mom’s urging. I’ll be honest, when she first brought it up, I eye-rolled in my head and thought, ‘Why is my mom into what is probably weird tribal music?’ And then I listened to them, and realized that – as she often is – she was so right. We had *such* a great time dancing at the show, and seeing them in a venue like that really made for a very cool, intimate experience. They were, like, right there, and danced with us. I will totally go again the next time they are here (and encouraged my prenatal to visit Santa Cruz to join us). 

It’s strawberry season! We drove up the coast to Swanton’s a few weeks ago, early enough that we were the only people there, and sang ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ as we picked several pounds of strawberries and looked at the ocean. The novelty of farms – and strawberry fields – backing up to the ocean as yet to wear off on me. 

And the beach! Danny and I have been beach bums for at least part of most weekends. Reading and people-watching at the beach for a couple hours is my favorite lazy afternoon pastime. We also play frisbee, which, in my humble opinion, we are actually pretty good at! (For the first twenty minutes. After that, my arm gets tired and Danny ends up running all over the place trying to catch my wildly misaimed throws.) 

These jalapeños are a Trader Joe’s win.

We have also been making a solid effort and cooking the vast majority of our meals. For a little while there, we got into the habit of eating out or eating prepared/frozen meals, out of convenience and time limitations. But now we’re back on the meal planning train, and I do some food prep on the weekends to ensure that we eat actual meals during the week. I like cooking for several reasons, including that that’s my podcast-listening time. 

Aaaaaaaaand, we’ll leave it there for now. I’ll be back soon and regularly. 
Love yous so very much. 


2 thoughts on “The Work. 

  1. This is a great post, Em. First of all, that picture of you is quite something; you’re literally glowing! It has to at least partially be from all the natural beauty by which you’re surrounded. I look at your beach photos and think, “WHY aren’t we all living in CA???” You were smart to get yourself out there. The box of strawberries is also a thing of true beauty. What did you do with all of them? And of course I’m both laughing & charmed at finding my name on your to-do list. It’ll be fun to see how many times it gets carried forward — because I do the same thing. I make my weekly list and so often the items that start with “Write to….” or “Call…” end up moving forward two or three times before I get it together. And sometimes, whoops! maybe more often than that. I forgive you is what I’m saying, just in case forgiveness ends up being needed  I completed my garlic harvest today – the very first time I’ve ever grown an edible from scratch in my life – and I’m so proud of my fat and sassy 15 heads! Your mom was my guru in this one. I did exactly what she told me and, voilá – garlic! Such a simple thing and it makes me very happy. OK – back out to the garden for me. I’ll probably manage to get all the spaces weeded by the time fall starts (rueful laughter now). xo,A

    • I am so glad that you granted me this forgiveness prematurely because…I clearly need it. 😘 Love you very much.

      Also –
      1) I know that I’m glowing! Danny glowed in the pics of him too! It was such interesting lighting conditions.
      2) Danny likes to make a version of agua frescas with the strawberries, so a lot of them go into the blender for that drink. And we make homemade whipped cream and eat it with strawberries for desert. Basically, we gorge on strawberries while they’re in season. (And we also freeze a bunch of them for smoothies when they aren’t.)
      3) So cool about the garlic / your first grown edible!! So inspiring! I very much look forward to having a garden one day, and forever regret that I learned nearly nothing about growing things from my parents!! Eighteen years with the best teachers and I was too busy talking on the phone. 🙄

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