Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fiesta at Will

My recent self-help kick has induced a series of mini-celebrations in our home.

I say "my recent self-help kick" because I will not say that my New Year's Resolution was to live an intentional life, because that journey started prior to January 1, and also because I am a shameless hipster who was making life-altering decisions based on purchasing a new calendar before it was all over Pinterest. 

Just kidding on that last part.

But, seriously, I am truly hoping that my journey to intentional living, and my commitment to chronicling that journey for others, to creating a path for my daughter to walk by, is one that will have profound and lasting impacts on my family and my personal well-being.

If you're in a similar situation, desperately seeking to initiate a meaningful life change, one that is sustainable beyond the first month of one new year, (I hope) you've come to the right place. Especially if you want your first foray into the intentional to have a snazzy name like Fiesta Day. 

Fiesta Day was not planned, not in the sense that I announced to Bella, while Adam looked at me with one raised eyebrow over the screen of his cellphone, "Tomorrow, we will have a fiesta because it will be New Year's Day!" It would have gone down just like that, had the theme presented itself earlier. However, like the best of days, it unfolded beautifully and simply because I willed it to do so, and looking back at the fiesta is as great as it was to have lived it the first time. 

What follows is a template for your own Fiesta Day. And our First Annual Fiesta Day was on January 1, yes--but, could it not also be commemorated on every third Thursday, or your half birthday, or every snow day ever? I think so, because I believe in the restorative powers of the fiesta. And so, "follow" these steps to fiesta at will.

Step 1: Cook something new for breakfast. What better way to celebrate life than by waking up and saying, "Hello, Day. You will be different because I said so," than by mixing it up in your kitchen? Put on your favorite playlist (I recommend the free Songza app for both iOS and Android) and a fun apron, brew a cup of your favorite coffee or tea, and make that recipe you Pinned the other day. Not a Pinner? Feel free to use my recipe for the First Inaugural Fiesta Day Breakfast:

Fiesta Omelet Sandwiches 
These were baked in the Pampered Chef Brownie Pan my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas, but a muffin tin would work just as well. Add cooking spray or olive oil to each well you intend to use (I did 6), then crack an egg in each and scramble lightly with a fork. Toss in a sprinkle of your favorite omelet veggies (chopped green peppers, red onions, and mushrooms for us), salt and pepper to taste, and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Flip out onto a plate and sprinkle with your choice of shredded cheese (we had cheddar in the fridge). Tuck into a toasted wheat pita pocket and add salsa. 

Whatever your recipe, make sure to enjoy your Fiesta Day breakfast around the table as a family...and, as always, no electronics allowed. 

Step 2: Bathe in sunlight. Infuse joy into your readying ritual. Is there anything more commonplace than whatever routine you have for getting ready in the morning? Drudgery, right? Whatever you do on a normal day, for Fiesta Day do the opposite. Okay, maybe don't roll in the dirt instead of taking a shower, but you get the idea. How can you make your routine less so? Spend a little more time lounging in your pajamas. Take a luxurious bath instead of a quick shower. Carve out the time to straighten your hair or slather on that facial mask. Shave your legs. Iron your wrinkly pants. Dig out your wedding pearls, because there's no joy to be had in a box in the back of your closet. 

Bella bathed in sunshine on our first Fiesta Day. And if I weren't such a weirdo about avoiding naked photos (I'm a total weirdo about avoiding naked photos), I would have taken a picture of just how gorgeous that bath truly was. First, she wanted a bath in my tub, because it's big and a triangle and I have all the girly bubble bath. Sure thing, kiddo. Then, I raised the blinds over the huge windows next to the tub (no one can see in our second story bathroom window to take naked photos, I promise) and let the yellow sunshine blind her when I rinsed the bubbles out of her hair. And it was awesome. I wanted to hop right in there with her. Unfortunately, one habit I must bend if I am to succeed on this quest is the insane adherence to made-up timetables. I am a work in progress. 

For me, bathing in sunlight was getting not-dressed-up for the day. I relish in not having to put on teacher clothes on my days off, so my sunshiny un-routine was sweatpants, a long-sleeved tee, fleece scarf, and tennis shoes. And I loved every second it saved me on getting dressed. Fiesta Stage 2: Complete. 

Step Three: Go on a family date. We love dates. The hubs and I try to go on dates regularly, and he has Daddy-Daughter dates with Bella, but family dates can be the best, given the right circumstances. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money or be a big production, but go outside and do something with your whole family. Go to the park. Drive around and look at Christmas lights or play games with the colors of cars. Even go to the grocery store if you need to and can make it fun, with slushies to drink while shopping and playing games in the aisles. Just the simple action of getting out of the house and doing something with your whole family provides the opportunity for so many connections and memories. 

Because Bella chose cereal over Fiesta Omelet Sandwiches, and because bathing in sunlight takes way longer than I planned, our family date was a lunch date to her new favorite restaurant. She notices signs and memorizes locations just from driving, so we are sometimes amazed at what she requests. For Fiesta Day 1.0, it was, fittingly, Tex-Mex. We danced in the car on the way there, snapped cute pictures and chatted during lunch, and sang "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt loudly and off-key as we drove home, a video of which exists and may be the next viral YouTube sensation, if I am ever brave enough to upload it. Epic. 
And she mastered the teenage eyeroll at age three. Fiesta. 

Step Four: Siesta. A long one. Because snuggling is the best. 

Step Five: Boldly go where you've never gone before. Pretty self-explanatory and easily combined with the family date of Step Three, but a separate step because we live on preschooler time and all outings are dictated by naptime. Also, because we apparently ate a lot of food during our Fiesta (I promise I ordered a salad at lunch, and it was great!), our new place was the recently-opened, as in the day before, self-serve yogurt shop in our town. Obviously, your new place can be any of your choice, but the more unusual the better. For example, who drives across town for frozen yogurt in the middle of the winter before feeding their child dinner? I do. And I tip my hat to probiotics for not making me feel bad about it!

Plus, now we have the sour-pucker-fluttery-eye down. Love it!!

Step Six: Fiesta with friends. Don't hog all the's better with buddies! Call up a girlfriend or another family that you love to hang with and invite them to partake in the festivities of fulfilled living with you. Talk loudly and over top of each other. Laugh. Reconnect. Share what you got for Christmas. Tell them about your breakfast recipe and what you want to cook tomorrow. Gush about your family date and encourage them to take one this weekend. Simply hang out. Do whatever it is you love to do with your friends, but make sure to include the whole fam in the action. This is not girls' night out, it's sharing the richness of your life with your extended "family."

Part of the catalyst for the emergence of the Fiesta Day theme is the fact that the friends we shared our Inaugural Fiesta Day with are from Spain. More specifically, one of my two BFFs is from Spain. Her husband is from Kentucky, which is how I was lucky enough to snag her. Of great importance to me, and our Festivities, is the arrival of her family, visiting for the holidays. While I had met them via Skype and corresponded with them via email in the past, Fiesta Day was the first time our two families had the chance to really hang. And it was, of course, glorious. It was Estefania's grandmother's 81st birthday and celebrating with them has been the highlight of my 2014 so far. My favorite moments: Bella kissing grandmother Delia, father Sergio enlightening me on some misconceptions regarding the culture, and telling mother Sylvia that I am so blessed to have met her daughter, now one-third of the triumvirate of best grown-up friends that ever existed. 

Step Seven: Stay up late. Way past reasonable hours for preschoolers to be in bed. Because even though every day we live is a celebration, Fiesta Days are special. 

So there you have it. The 7 Steps to creating an everyday celebration, complete with an initially inadvertent cultural theme. How can you make your day a fiesta? Let me know how your Fiesta Day took shape in the comments! 

Live on. 

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