17. Boundaries and Intentions


I want to talk about the dinner I made last night. It’s all I keep thinking about. I prepared a pork roast with a pancetta, sage, rosemary, garlic crust and gravy. I roasted vegetables with a cider maple syrup reduction sauce, steamed string beans, prepared a goat cheese salad and whipped up homemade tiramisu. Whenever I’m asked if I am a deadline oriented person, I always answer no. The truth, I’ve discovered, is that I think I am. Last night’s dinner was inspired by my friend asking if I’d host a party for her 46th birthday since her husband is traveling. The menu and ideas for the evening swirled around in the back of my mind for awhile, but I didn’t get serious and sit to down to plan a menu until two in the afternoon yesterday. I chose to make dishes I’ve never made before, had to run to three different stores to gather the ingredients, and I needed to be ready by seven. This dinner represents so many issues for me: (1) how I work, (2) the subject of community and my recent desire to move back East, (3) how there is something I truly love about entertaining, and (4) my tendency to over give.


I thrive on new and old friendships and I derive a huge sense of self and fulfillment through my generosity, but I also make myself miserable by giving away all my time and energy to other people. How do I balance being a friendly, caring person with drawing boundaries and taking care of my own needs? Why isn’t this natural? I have decided to go home and visit with my family for the entire month of December. I desperately need a break from my life. Before marrying John, I used to go home every summer for 6-12 weeks, taking work with me, but otherwise dropping out of my life and not communicating with anyone. When I’d finally return, I’d feel refreshed and ready to reenter society. I seem to have this all or nothing personality that is perhaps an issue I need to address. I am not so drained by my good friends, as by the endless stream of new people I meet. I seem addicted to people. Everyone is interesting to me and I enjoy the process of discovery, even when I know I am not interested in cultivating new friendships. I think that’s where I get into trouble. John and I joked that you know you have a problem with being too friendly when even the guy on the bus invites you to have dinner with him and his wife.


Anyway, I’m journaling here, feel free to skim. The summary version so far is that I am doing a lot of thinking this month about friends and community—my need to draw boundaries; how to be both open hearted and able to say no to people; and this urgent feeling I have that I need to move.


I will try to be more concise with the rest. I co-hosted a baby brunch for 40 people last weekend that perfectly represents my struggle between being a good friend and disrespecting myself. The brunch was Sunday. Saturday I woke up with my period. I’ve stopped my constant longing to get pregnant, but even when I expect my period, it still comes as a slap in the face that sets off a huge emotional roller coaster ride. It took me all day Saturday to make two casseroles and a coffee cake because I spent a good portion of the day crying. I decided I was going to play hooky and pretend to be sick so that I could get out of having to go. The last shower I went to surprised me by how difficult it was, and the timing made this one potentially disastrous. Especially scary without John there to support me. He’s in NYC for work. My mother told me I had to go; Karen gave me permission not to, but advised me to wait and see how I felt in the morning before making a decision. In the end, I went and was fine, but it did prompt me to call the doctor on Monday and John and I are going to start the preliminary tests to explore why we can’t conceive. Taking this step feels like a huge relief. I won’t be surprised if we check out fine and it’s just my body being sensitive—or not the right time for us—but I want to know.



Last, but not least, my work life is finally on track. I can’t remember who knows what so I will repeat it for the record. I feel positive I’ve found the right path because suddenly everyone is helping me and doors are opening. I have three A-list choices currently and I am making inroads at all of them. (1) I would like to work at the Oakland Museum of California in their History or Education Department. I randomly spoke to a woman I later learned was the History Coordinator for the Education Department and she encouraged me to send in my resume. I am interviewing with her at the end of November when she returns from Paris. Out of a conversation I had at the baby shower, I am being introduced to the Life Sciences Coordinator for the Education Department, who happens to be the best friend of a friend from Cornell, and who also has a documentary business on the side. (2) I walked into the U.C. Berkeley Regional Oral History Office, (I mistakenly thought it was a library open to the public), and I ended up talking to the Director and a few staff. I shared that I want to become an oral historian. The director encouraged me to bring a resume by, and I have signed up for an oral history workshop and begun reading texts on the subject. I would love to do some part-time project work with them to gain academic training and experience. Today I got an email from the boyfriend of a former WineShopper colleague who is a history phD candidate at Berkeley; he sent me the director’s email and made an introduction. The timing is off, but another reminder from a third party can’t hurt. (3) I mentioned oral history to Catherine and she suggested I write for Antenna Audio. I checked out their site and they may be my first choice.


All that is to say that I am feeling really relaxed about this job search because it feels right, things are coming together and I’m confident that if I take my time and keep plugging away the right job or jobs are going to fall into place for me. I imagine the timing will be January, which allows me to go home and relax in December. I have also been asked by my 90-year-old great uncle to retype and edit his memoirs. They are mostly humorous vignettes of his escapades. He’s very funny and has been my pen pal for years. I am going to take advantage of time back East to interview him and gather more material. We’ll see where it leads but it is an exciting first project. This is exactly what I want to do: have part-time or full-time work at one of the places I mentioned above, then work on my own projects on the side. I would like to spend more time reading and writing and less time socializing for awhile. Weekends yes, but just not every weeknight—which brings this check-in around full circle.



Finally, we had a photographer friend of ours to dinner last week and we got to talking about manifesting. I told him about the cat. He firmly believes we can manifest whatever we want in our lives and that we are entirely responsible for limiting ourselves. Inspired by the conversation, I sat down and recorded the things I desire—my ideal life picture. I realized two things: (1) that many of the things I want in life I already have in one way or another, (2) written down, my list looks pretty simple and very realistic. It’s powerful to think about what you want in broad strokes, I can’t encourage each of you enough to try it. I will end by including my list and hope that it inspires you to create your own.


—To be radiant with good health.

—To be fit: strong, flexible and toned inside and out.

—To love, laugh, feel connected and passionate with John every day.

—To raise healthy beautiful children.

—To be kind, gracious, radiant.

—To speak and act mindfully at all times.

—To be centered: calm, strong and alert.

—To create financial abundance. (This is not a bank account number but a feeling.)

—To love what I do and produce good work.

—To write, be published and have my work be financially successful.

—To be well read, knowledgeable and articulate.

—To be close to my family emotionally and physically.

—To raise a family together with our community of friends.

—To collect and support art in the world.

—To travel and see the world.

—To have a beautiful, peaceful home and garden.

—To possess poise, style and grace.

—To be generous.

—To grow old with John, peaceful and laughing, surrounded by children and grandchildren.

—To cultivate love with John that grows deeper and richer every day.

—To always enjoy the company of good friends, both old and new.

—To feel excited and inspired by life every day.