The View Outside The Window Wasn't All Bad by Chakriya Phal

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I’m writing this on the couch, surrounded by used kleenex, an assortments of herbal teas, and lit candles. The latter simply there to add some warmth and ambience. I caught a bad cold on the second day of our trip in Utah which meant no hiking something that I’ve been looking forward to for some time. While there were pieces of me that was sad, I was also in deep gratitude for company that understood. I knitted while watching The Ballards Of Buster Scruggs and stared out the window. We stayed at a place the locals called the “ museum house.” The view was breathtaking and wondrous. I didn’t spend my days riddled with FOMO or guilt, I just lapped the scenary. I mean, look at that view!

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There has been a lot of old thoughts lately. What am I doing? Is it enough? Am I happy? The answers to all three are yes, yes, and YES. The problem is I’m looking down at my phone too often to really soak all of life in. It wasn’t till that moment in Utah had I really taken time to stay present. Just breathe. In giving myself permission to rest, I felt alive. But the problem still persist. What to do with all that social media time? I set the phone to turn off instagram once I hit the 1 1/2 hour mark but it also allows me to ignore the limit for the day, and I always hit that very button when asked. So much for self control. However, I did notice that my time on social media while in Utah was significantly lower. I barely touched the phone except to check business emails and put on Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets on Audible. I felt so awake, moving my body without my mind being in a fog. A part of me knows this was because I was away, enjoying myself and not working. But I also know that too much time on social media clogs my brain, causes me to compare, and get anxiety.

So what to do now that the view isn’t as nice? Now that I’m back to the daily grind and tempted to pull out my phone to take a look at what my “friends” are doing? I don’t have the answer but I’m willing to keep exploring it. How do I show up offline and online? How can I make my experience better? Seems like recently, everyone is asking that and there’s no one answer.

A list of things I’m enjoying:

Marlee Grace: I like her. She used to fill my instagram space with her dancing and knitting. She’s still doing that plus other things that are just as exciting. Yes, knitting is exciting but her newsletter is even better.

Project Voice Pod: A podcast spearheaded by women and non-binary folx of the Asian diaspora.

Harry Potter on audible: A whole different experience each time I read the series, watch it, and now listen to it. I’m currently on the second book and while the themes in these books can be dark, my heart is happy catching up with my favorite characters. Apparently there’s a debate on who narrated the series better Jim Dale (American version) or Stephen Fry (UK version). I don’t care to debate on this. Just means I get to listen to the Stephen Fry’s version when I’m finished and enjoy the series all over again.

Bumpkins! by Chakriya Phal

Many great things come out of autumn: pumpkin patches, apple cider donuts, Thanksgiving feast, that holiday feeling, the urge to hanker down and read and burning candles. When we were in California we went to a lovely family owned pumpkin patch called Tanaka Farm. It’s the best farm we’ve gone to with lots of hay bales to jump to and from, two pumpkin patches, a corn maze, and Sanrio themed face cutouts. Mostly as parents, we gauge success by how much Birdie had fun. She didn’t want to leave and now everywhere she goes she says, “Bumpkins!”

Our Fall Trip to Vermont by Chakriya Phal

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Every September, my family and I take a small trip for my birthday and this year we decided on a short tour of Vermont. I had wanted to see the leaves change colors but we were greeted with 90 degree weather. At one point my husband and I looked at each other and said, “It feels like we’re in Cambodia!” We tried not to let the humidity get in the way of our fun opting to go to the beach while in Burlington. I mean really, the beach in Vermont! That had never crossed my mind when I was thinking up the itinerary so we didn’t have swim clothes. Luckily, I always pack Birdie’s swim diaper so she happily got wet while we stood ankle deep. I think that was the most fun I had just watching her explore, play with sand, and splash water on us.

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About thirty minutes outside of Burlington is a small town called Shelburne which houses the Shelburne Museum. We spent an afternoon there and it wasn’t enough time to see all the exhibits. We went during a weekday and practically had the space to ourselves. It had everything our family needed. A bit of early American art, some architectural history, and a pretty decked out kids’ cabin. The grounds was beautiful, spreading forty-five acres.

We joked that this trip was all about discovering playgrounds and bookstores. It’s true. I treated myself out to a lot of books for my birthday. I’m most excited about my two Shirley Jacksons and an old copy of Lord Of The Flies I found at a vintage bookstore in Plainfield. Birdie got her fill of swings and slides which made putting her to sleep a bit easier. I also picked goldenrods in Townsend for my dye pot and now that we’re back, have already dyed five skeins of yarn.