The Purge…by Ms. Coco

The Purge…by Ms. Coco

September is halfway over, and it seems like we haven’t done an update in a while. The Gentleman Farmer and I traveled to Cuba during August and didn’t focus on a specific challenge. I think our month was challenging enough with everything else happening in our lives. I had a great time in Cuba. It wasn’t at all like I expected…but I don’t think I had too many expectations from the beginning. Food was delicious – most places – drinks were flowing, and people were living it up with what they had. It is a beautiful country, and I am saddened Hurricane Irma destroyed many parts of the island last week.

This month the Gentleman Farmer and I are focusing on household chores. I have finally moved in with him, officially, and we are adjusting to this new dynamic of our relationship. I cannot speak for him, but some things are easier than I thought, and others – not so much. Our cohabitation is the first time I have lived with anyone other than family, and there are certain things one should get acquainted.

I believe I am overwhelmed by the idea of moving. When I prepared to go to Kentucky, I freaked out – didn’t pack anything but towels – and my family had to pack for me. The GF suggested that I allow him to pack for me since I get anxious about the move. In theory, it sounds fine. However, when I move I purge items, I do not want to carry into a new space. The GF is not that way. He throws items into any box in an unknown fashion to me. So my anxious behind packed a lot of boxes and then unpacked them at our newly shared residence. My concern when moving in is where do I place all of my treasured items? I have purged all that I want, and I am down to my necessities. I don’t want them to be placed into a room like I only live in that one space, or kept in a box, or maintained in a casual space because there is nowhere else that it belongs. And that includes piled on a table until we get tired of looking at it. It’s a work in progress, I know.

With household chores, I had a system when living alone. I mainly cleaned on Sundays after church. I did laundry, cleaned the bathroom and living room, and deep cleaned the kitchen. Now that it is two of us, I try to keep areas more functional than if I was alone. The Gentleman Farmer cooks most of the meals, so I offer to clean afterward. I like to do laundry, so I will wash, dry, and fold clothing. The only thing I will not do is put the GF’s clothes away. I know where he puts them, but he likes to get dressed in different parts of the house. Also, I try to respect that he may like his belongings in a particular place. The Gentleman Farmer handles the handiwork – as well as attempts to share his knowledge with me – inside and outside of the house.

All in all, I think the transition has fewer bumps than I thought. I have realized over the course of my adult life that I like to find my stuff where I left it or have a place for it, I want to feel lived in a space I inhabit, and I want to feel respected. Those things will not change. We gon be alright – shoutout to Kendrick Lamar – if we remember to respect each other’s belongings, space, and feelings.

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Viva la Wifi in Habana

Viva la Wifi in Habana

I miss communism. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to live in a communist country at least not all the time. On first impression life in Cuba is much slower than the U.S. Our first day in country and you can tell we are some serious differences. It was like stepping back in time 50 years, a time before computers and the internet.

Our first experience with a drastic societal difference was when we went to eat our first day. As Americans; we are used to fast, prompt, and detailed service, when dining out. Our first lunch in Cuba was everything we were unaccustomed to experiencing when dining. It was slow, very slow; our server sat us in the small section of the restaurant that was air-conditioned and then left. While we waited, we noticed that all the plates, silverware, and cups were quite dusty and most of the items on the menu were not available. Our meal was long almost three and half hours. None of our food came out at the same time, and there were no apologies made for any of it, this is just how Cuba is, no need to rush and you eat what’s available.

The laid-back feel of Cuba would be something we would slowly get used to over the week-long trip. We had to learn to settle into 2-3 hour meals. We were, after all enjoying a luxury that most Cubans rarely, if ever, experienced eating at some the nicest restaurants in Cuba.

Cuba is a throw-back to simpler times a time before the internet. I would not say “the good old days” a phrase that irks me every time I hear it. But a time before we were all addicted to our smartphones and devices. Regression can be a bit jarring, we have so much to distract us from our everyday life and problems, and when it all taken away what do we do. We talked to each other, we argued with each other and had some great times exploring Cuba without worrying about recording every second of it for social media.

I enjoyed the change of pace for a bit. Like going camping for the weekend. At first, it is enjoyable to be out in the woods and enjoying nature in all its beauty, but then mosquitoes start biting you, it starts raining, and you have to dig a hole in the woods to use the bathroom. You start to miss home and all the luxury and amenities that affords. I missed being home but I want to remember what it was like to be in Cuba where things are hard to come by, access is limited to the internet, and people still have to entertain themselves. I don’t think it will be long before Cuba changes, although I kind of hope it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure we will never know those simpler times again.

 

 

Forward Basic

Forward Basic

Ms. Coco and I have dived into Salsa dancing this month. We have done several private lessons with our salsa instructor. We are preparing for our trip in August.

They say if you can dance together then you can do anything together. I think, how well you dance also tells a lot about how well you will work together.

Sometimes in life, we get grumpy or frustrated. I feel like I get grumpy more than most. I liken it to the bell curve of life, sometimes you are on the up slope, and everything is fine, at others you are on the down slope reverting to the mean. If you can learn to dance with your partner through life cycles, then you’ll be ok.

Dancing with style and grace is not always easy. When you first learn the Salsa basics, there are specific step to follow. In life, love, and relationships there are also generally accepted steps to follow.

First, you have to find the beat in salsa. We do this with a halftime step that’s not as quick as the music so we can get on the beat.

The leader of the dance signals to move into the first step, usually something basic and easy. A forward and backward step that one dancer must lead and the other must follow. Dancing can be awkward at first as you learn to move and dance together. It’s not just about learning the steps, but how to hold yourself, and how to signal your partner as well. If I want my partner to turn, I try to squeeze her hand one count before the turn, so she knows it’s coming.

Like relationships sometimes we miss the signals and have to catch up find our way back to what our partner is doing. It’s not important if our steps are right but that we enjoy dancing with each other.

Dancing with Kids

Dancing with Kids

July has already been a busy month for Ms. Coco and me. The last week of June we went on a little vacation and watched Ms. Coco’s young nieces and nephews. We decided to bring two of them back to Kentucky with us for a week.

Our second week with the kids at home was fun and hectic. Ms. Coco had a county fair she was managing all week, and I was working on several projects while trying to keep the kids fed and entertained when Ms. Coco was busy.

My first idea was to take the kids fishing which turned out to excellent except we did not catch any fish and when we attempted to go a second time a thunderstorm rolled in and rained us out. We rushed back to the car just before the sky opened up. I drove the kids to Ms. Coco’s office while they slept in the back of the car.

We got to have dinner together while we watched a produce auction and a swine competition where pigs competed with their owners for money and the honor of being a blue ribbon hog. The pig show was entertaining, and the kids liked it until the pigs started getting a little too close for comfort.

To have children for two weeks was a new challenge for us, and I feel like we did a pretty good job of entertain the kids for the short time we had them. All the kids said they wanted to come back and visit again, so I say that was a win.

I look forward to the rest of the month ahead with Ms. Coco. We are going to be taking some dance classes before our big August trip. I hope that I can remember something from my high school dance class!

 

How does one live a good life?

How does one live a good life?

Work life balance is hard for many people; I’ve still yet to master it.

Last week Ms. Coco talked about a mission statement. I’ve been thinking about the question she asked last week. I don’t have many answers yet, but I’m working figuring out the answers.

I recently attended a conference for work. But this conference was quite exceptional in that, you could bring your family, and made time each day for a group/family activity. The family time not only helped the attendees bond, but it also gave folks time to bond in a new way.

Ms. Coco had to work this week and could not attend with me. I missed our time together and wished she could have joined me. But I feel like this period apart was also valuable in that it made me appreciate our time together so much more!

The habit of taking a break a once a year to reevaluate work and family priorities is important to me.

How does one make sure they are a good husband, father, and person? This issue that was presented to me this week; by a colleague. I’ve found that asking better questions is a valuable skill.

So my plan this week is to take some time to try to answer some important inquiries. How am I going to do this? I don’t fully know. But I’m sure it will start with reading and research.

Writing about Habits, Rituals, and Traditions

Writing about Habits, Rituals, and Traditions

Right now I’m planning for Sunday dinner. A new Tradition we are working on adopting. For some reason most of my new habits and traditions revolve around food.

I also have some new personal habits, like being active an hour a day, writing, and reading for at least 30 minutes a day. We also have our relationship goals, like celebrating accomplishments, new holidays, and planning out at least one meal a day for the whole week. 

I’ve been writing a lot this last week. I was attending a writers conference and trying to improve my ability to put pen to paper. I learned a lot from several very good writers, about their habits, and how they keep themselves productive. Haveing a routines like taking a walk befor and after working for several hours, making tea, or finding a inspiring place to work like your front poarch of writing cubby helps keep you motivated.

Makeing small adjustments has made it easy and seems more effortless to adopt these habits. I’ve also been careful about how I add or take way thing. I know I’m busy on Fridays and I kept out date night their so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking on Friday which is usually a busy day for us both. Sunday dinner is also good because it give me a chance to shop for the week ahead and make a little extra for Lunch on Monday and Tuesday. 

Ms. Coco want to celebrate more holidays, so I’m talking it upon my self to learn more about the holidays and traditions associated with them. My family was never big on celebrations but I do enjoy them and I know she does too. I’m going to be learning a lot this week about June-teenth, wish me luck and you can help me out by commenting about June-teenth traditions.

Buses, bikes…and no cars.

Buses, bikes…and no cars.

So it’s roommate month, so far, all is good. Actually it’s great, great knowing that I’ll get to see Ms. Coco everyday. My only concern now is, how am I going to deal when this month ends (I feel like I’m sounding really needy right now!)

Anyway, what I really don’t understand is why people feel the desire to never change, learn, or try different things?

I feel like I’m at my best when I’m learning, experiencing, and deep into something I don’t understand or fear. 

Even during the tuffest periods in my life, I have tried to find the lesson in my struggle. This seems to make life so much more enjoyable when things are going well.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this month together. Next week, I’m at Ms. Coco’s place. So that means I’ll be commuting everyday, like she did last week. I know it was hard on her and I’m very grateful that she is willing to do that for me. 

We are learning a lot about each other.  I have faith that we will be better off for all of these challenges; even if they are self imposed.

Also this week Ms. Coco has my car. She misplaced her keys and I volunteered my car since she is commuting almost 60 miles to work every day, at 6am.
I’ve decided to bike more around town and  got a bus pass! The buses having bike racks on the front, has opened up a possibility for me to ride my bike around the city.
I’m also getting lot of exercise and sun, luckily Ms Coco keeps reminding me to put on sunscreen so I don’t burn up.

On a different note. What do you say to yourself when you are having a challenging day? 

I’ve been embracing the idea of self talk and mantras recently. “Relax, breath, you got this” is what I have been using recently. Or at the gym it’s “one more” when lifting or doing exercises. Or ride my bike “just make it to the top of this hill” is very common!