Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Let's See How Fast I Can Pack Up This House!


Walking off the plane after a 10 hour flight from Amsterdam the phone rings. 
It's our realtor and we have buyers.
"Just how fast can you pack up that house and move?"


I have to confess it's a bit overwhelming, the speed of it all and the fact we'll be moving from a 3200 square foot house to one boasting 1800. That only leaves room to take what we use everyday and love. Perhaps the timing is great however, coming off a fabulous trip where our family had time to really think about what is and what is not important to each of us and the goals we have for the next few years. It's not about a big fancy house, it's about enjoying the moment and seeing what adventures we can pursue. Walking past the new house, which is under construction, felt great last night - reassuring me that it's all going to work out just fine! 

{FYI: if you live in the area and have had an eye on any of our key furniture items, I'll be parting with many pieces. And while not at a "give away" price, certainly at a good price! Send an email if you would like the list, serious inquiries only please.}

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break In Amsterdam!

Our family is delighted to be heading off to Amsterdam for Spring Break! We'll be packing in lots of activities and sites over the week and I'll be sure to take lots of photos to share upon returning home.


{images via here}

 But in the meantime, if you'd like, look for updates of what we discover at Instagram

Hoping you have a great spring break as well! 

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Change Is In The Air!

With Spring comes change and it seems we are embracing that in full scale around here!


To begin, after many long discussions, we have decided to put our house on the market with the idea of downsizing and re-prioritizing: less focus on things and more emphasis on experiences. 


On top of the house hitting the market this week, my son begins a new school tomorrow and by the weekend we'll be headed off to Amsterdam. Part vacation, part research trip to see if it's a place we'd like to relocate to on a temporary basis in the next year or so. Phew. Catch my breath. 


But now it's time to get busy prepping the house for pictures to be taken in a couple hours.


Here's to new adventures, right?!


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Friday, February 21, 2014

Thoughts On Not Working: A One Year Check-In

It's hard to believe a year has passed since the last issue of House of Fifty was released. On one hand I don't really know how I ever managed to pull that one off, putting out a high quality publication several times a year.  It brings me a wonderful sense of accomplishment that's extremely satisfying. On the other hand, oh how relieved I am that those high pressure days are in the past. It took a toll. 

So what's life like now, a year later? Here's what the year has brought and what I've learned over these months of "not working." (And I put those words in quotes because every mom is a working woman, let's not forget that!)

The Cons: 

There are only a couple cons, but they are big and I've truly struggled with them, particularly this first one: I've lost my trump card. In the past I had this card that had "my important work" written on it. When I needed time, when my agenda needed to have priority within the organization of my family's week or plans, all I had to do was raise this card and up to the front of the line I went. These days I don't have a clearly defined trump card, and it has often left me sitting at the back of the line. Many days I get why this is and am thankful and appreciative of my roll as caregiver and supporter of the family. I clearly see how much everyone is benefiting and that is utterly rewarding. But other moments I feel that I - the Janell Beals, not the mother or wife, daughter or friend - am getting lost. I'm working on figuring this one out. 

The second con is the loss of clout. Over the years I worked building my career, so did my clout. It was satisfying and honestly a bit of a hoot to be able to call up or email this or that talent or company and have them quickly respond. They would be excited to hear from me! And it was exhilarating to have high level people and organizations reach out to me. Today my inbox is rather quiet. And most days that is a wonderful relief, it was a lot of pressure. But other days it's a genuine bummer that I'm not conversing with people that are doing exciting and wonderful things in their industry. For a person who has worked from a very young age, getting much of the definition of who I am from this work, letting go of this has been an adjustment. 



The Pros:

I go to bed at peace with myself. Being able to say this with honesty is probably all that needs to be said. But I'll explain with an example.


Previously, virtually every night I'd lay in bed at night and review the day. Had I gotten it all done? For the family, the husband, the kids, the household, for me? Had all the boxes been checked off? Yes, mostly, but I knew deep in my heart that while it had all gotten done, much of it had been through automation without mindfulness; I had not genuinely been present with a focus on the people and responsibilities around me. For example, if one of the kids brought up an issue at bedtime, needing me to sit and listen for an extended period of time, I'd do my best but really what was most on my mind was the need to wrap the conversation up as quickly as possible so that I could get on my computer to complete the list of work items awaiting me before I could go to bed myself. More and more I began to accept and understand this wasn't going to fly much longer, I couldn't justify it or be at peace with it.

Now I've got time, and the benefits are right in front of me clear to see. 

Time is available to pursue the things written about in House of Fifty, all those "ideas for inspired living" are now playing out in front of me. I have the time and energy to plan weekend outings, get myself to yoga class, plan trips and entertain, prepare healthy meals, go to the movies, help out and stay more connected with family near and far, walk the dog... you get the picture. Time to live, rather than talk about living.

To highlight a couple shifts, one change I'm particularly excited about is how we are eating so much better in this house and to my surprise, I'm enjoying learning how to prepare many new foods. I never was much of a fan of the kitchen, but I'm realizing it was due to the amount of time required to get out and purchase the variety of foods needed to prepare healthy, fresh and tasty dishes - and on a frequent basis - it was just way too much pressure! But given more time, it has become a (mostly) enjoyable activity. I shop a couple times a week, sometimes with my daughter who loves finding all the ingredients for some new recipe she wants to try. Then we enjoy preparing these dishes together, which is a lot of fun! It had always bothered me that she loved to cook but how I didn't make much time to encourage it and learn alongside her. There's been a clear shift from needing to get something, anything on the table to feed us, to let's enjoy the gift and pleasure of eating freshly prepared food. 


Another opportunity I have been truly "fed" by are the trips taken. On my own and with the family. I ventured twice to Alaska with my younger brother - an adventurous soul who is a challenge to keep up with - and I have been strongly reminded of how much there is to gained by connecting with the amazing power of nature. 




These trips were extreme examples of connecting with nature, but it demonstrated how much can be benefited from time spent outdoors. I now make time for it often, particularly when I start to feel stress or a less than stellar frame of mind. An hour walk into the nature preserves near our home is all that is needed to restore my spirit. We've also traveled quite a bit as a family this past year - Paris, Chicago, Palm Springs, Seattle - as well as day trips hiking and white water rafting in Oregon. It has broadened my kid's perspectives of their surroundings and world and it's something we definitely aim to continue! 






Ironically the work I began with House of Fifty lives on in this household in an unexpected way. Through the experience my husband gained developing the HOF app with me, he has launched an app development business focusing on business solutions in his area of expertise, for clients that include Nike. (Yes, I just have to brag about the great job he's done!) And so if there is any "official work" being done by me, it's assisting him from time to time in strategy and project management for that venture. 

All of this really shows how the road is unpredictable and when things don't go as you think they will, it can really be just fine... and actually sometimes even better than you'd hoped for.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Surprise That Was Palm Springs!

Before I launch into my rave review of Palm Springs and the surrounding area, I want to thank everyone who left comments and sent me personal notes after reading my previous post, 'Letting Go Of Fear.' I hadn't been brave enough to write the post until seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and what I've realized is this: if I'd spoken up sooner I could have enjoyed the benefit of the resources and encouragement sent my way when I was at my lowest! Lesson learned and thanks, I'm continually amazed at the wonderful connections made through this blog and social media outlets. Who knew.

And now on to Palm Springs. So, here's the lowdown. I rarely do much research before heading off on a trip, one part lazy - one part I just want to be surprised and let the destination unfold before us. This long weekend getaway was no exception; it wasn't until we were boarding the plane that I Googled "Top 10 Things to do in Palm Springs," and started to put together a rough itinerary of activities. Of course I had the typical idea of what a trip to Palm Springs would be: sun, turquoise pools, 50's architecture, swanky shops and great food. And yes, all that was there waiting for us to enjoy.


We arrived well after dark and didn't get a look at our surroundings until early the next morning. Just imagine my surprise upon opening the door to this view; those up close and personal mountains were a fabulous welcome that had us wanting to rush out and start the exploring! 


And check, there was the bright blue pool...


... and palm trees.


It was a pure delight to walk around the streets just adjacent to the town center, passing homes that have become the iconic Palm Springs expectation, as well as the gated homes surrounded by hedges which had me wanting to get a better glimpse of what lay behind them. And the bright flowers, and fruit trees! It had us dreaming about how fabulous it would be to step out into our yard to pick fresh oranges or lemons. And the food, so many delicious options at the restaurants and farmer's market. Shopping too, chic boutiques full of mid century gems and reproductions were definitely browse worthy.


But what took me by complete surprise, and what has me hoping for a return trip as soon as possible, was the amazing abundance of nature to be enjoyed by venturing just a little distance away from town in each direction!


I'd heard about the Ariel Tramway, but I had missed the part about it climbing 10,000 feet up the mountainside. See the beauty of not researching stuff? You get to be surprised, and in my case this meant I didn't have to get nervous about the ascent until just before stepping into the tram. Lucky me. 


Once at the top of San Jacinto Mountain, there are amazing views down to Palm Springs and other distant towns, as well as the San Andreas fault which looks somewhat like a wide expressway passing through the valley. 


The trails go through a stunning landscape, but dress warmly, it can be nearly 30 degrees cooler up here on the mountain than it is down in town.


Sadly, someone has reached the age where getting a photo taken with mom is NOT the highlight of the day. Too bad, I say.


Another morning we decided to make the drive out to Joshua Tree, despite advice that we might want to skip it due to the long drive. But our intrigue with the description that it was like nothing else on earth with boulders, trees and terrain you might expect to encounter on another planet, had us getting into the car. Passing by the windmills, followed by more and more rugged landscape, time fly by and before we knew it we were approaching an entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.



I was completely and utterly inspired and enchanted by this amazing place. Each area was distinct from the next. First the trees and barren land.



Then further into the park the boulders began to appear, rising out of the desert, inviting climbing...


... and exploring.


Yet deeper into the park was some of the most dramatic terrain, near Skull Rock, aptly named right? And oh those kids, are they really picking its nose?


We could have kept exploring, deeper and deeper into the hills, but the sun was beginning to set.



I tell you, this is truly a must add destination to your bucket list if you haven't already been. Or a return trip. Next time I'll have to extend the visit, bringing along gear to camp out and experience a night in this special place. 


Our final day took us up over a very very winding and steep road to the small town of Anza, arriving at a ranch to fit in a little horseback riding. Now we are not exactly horse people, but this was a complete blast! We learned a lot, got comfortable, wandered along a trail through the hills and added another activity to a list of things we can look forward to doing more of as a family.


Now we just have to find time to fit in another trip to Palm Springs - and surrounding area - ASAP.

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