Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Daily's v.3 - Happy Holidays!

It's been a long time since I just wrote a "this is what we've been up to" post.

Right now I've got coffee drip-brewing and the front door open. I'm working on a grocery list, and planning to knock out some errands as soon as I've had my caffeine. Oh, and yes - it's official - I'm truly a coffee addict. I've started getting those caffeine headaches on days when I don't have even a little. Blah.

At the end of the summer, I officially ended my stint as a full-time event planner for WHITT. Two years ago I thought that was my dream job, so it was not entirely easy to walk away from and I had many doubts over the decision. I learned so much and met so many people around Austin, but it was not a good fit for me and that became really evident as my physical and mental health declined. However, it positioned me to be in the right place and time for what I'm doing now - which I love! - so I think it was all meant to be. I'm now helping to manage Fair Market, an awesome events venue in East Austin, and working with a stellar team. They immediately made me feel welcome, and since (for now) I'm a contractor I have almost total control over what my life and schedule - and therefore, my sanity - looks like these days. I feel really lucky, and it's made it very easy to celebrate gratitude this holiday season.

Tim and I took our second annual trip to NYC at the beginning of November to see some FALL FOLIAGE! We walked till our wee feets wanted to fall off (get it?), bickered just a bit, and overall had a grand time. It's always a shock to the system - being back in a big city. I know Austin is growing exponentially, but it still doesn't come close to the hugeness of a place like NYC. I guess few places do. We saw three broadway shows: Hamilton(!!!), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and King Charles III (a modern day history play written in iambic pentameter). All three were really, really good. Hamilton was breathtaking and really deserves it's own post entirely... hopefully I get to that soon. We also saw Spectre and The Martian in the evenings when we just couldn't walk NO MORE. We managed to fit in a couple of strolls through Central Park, scoped out The Guggenheim and The Met, ate Murray's breakfast bagels twice, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, and got totally lost in the Brooklyn subway system. 

We celebrated Thanksgiving at Linda's (my mother-in-law) house in Gonzales. It was some really nice, quality family time. We all collaborated on the cooking and ended up with a ton of food, and it was all delicious. And then we stayed in our pajamas for the next 24 hours to recover. Our oven quit working WHILE my pies were baking. The pilot light kept going out, so I had to sit on the floor in front of the stove and listen to the gas and manually relight it whenever it would go out. So frustrating! On the bright side, we are getting a new oven delivered right before I have to do any more baking for the holidays - waaaahooo! Kelli (Tim's sister) & Alex are finally engaged - so a wedding is in our family future - and we are very happy and excited for them. Being engaged during the holidays is so fun! It felt so good and relaxing to all be together in one place, and, because of their news, especially cheerful this year.

We've been having really nice weather, but I wish it was just a smidge colder. That's partly why I'm so excited for our family christmas trip to Santa Fe this year. We are spending almost a whole week there in a beautiful rental house. Susanna has an amazing trail ride planned for us through her friend - a wrangler - out at Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch. I can't wait to be back on a horse, and to hopefully see some snow and beautiful mountain views. I can't believe we are finally taking the kind of holiday trip we always wanted to take as a family. Better late than never!

Because of said trip, we opted as a family to not exchange gifts this season. Tim's family was also on board with this idea this year, so as a result I haven't shopped at all. Except for myself, hah! We've done this before in years past, but it's usually been more about money or stress. This year it just felt so excessive in light of all the awful things happening around the globe. In the spirit of giving we plan to make donations to one or more charities instead, which makes me very happy. Gift giving is definitely one of my "love languages" though, so I feel a little robbed of opportunities to show my nearest and dearest what they mean to me. I guess this year that can be done with words and hugs instead. 

Many happy happy holiday wishes to all!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dear Dad - Happy 62nd Birthday

Dear Dad,

It's now October. Your birthday was in September. If that's not belated, I'm not sure what is, but in all fairness I started writing this letter before your birthday. I'm pretty sure time is of no matter to you anymore, and all of these things I want to say are better said late than never.

Another year, another birthday, come and gone. We all "celebrated" the best way we knew how, trying to feel happiness on a day where mostly what we feel is your absence. I had my little cry in the bathtub the morning of September 22nd, while shaving my legs. Not so much for my present, as for our past: what we were doing two years ago on this day - saying our earthly good-byes.

For your birthday, Margaret, Mom and I all went to get pedicures at The Retreat. They still take lovely care of us all there, thanks to your many years of keeping their pedispas in working order, and almost every time one of the girls or the owners mentions you. It wasn't important that our feet look beautiful on your birthday, just that we just do something together. Margaret brought lemon cupcakes. Afterward, Mom and I got coffee from 2Tarts Bakery, and then visited the dog park to see your bench. Of course, someone was enjoying it and we didn't want to disturb them, so we moved on. It's still the very best bench, under a beautiful oak tree.

A day later we left for our trip to Port Aransas for the weekend. We rented a nice house, just steps away from the beach, on a very colorful street and with an eagle's nest deck up top. It was a lovely weekend with nearly perfect weather. We had fun family times horsing around in the pool, playing in the sand and waves on the beach, and roasting wieners and s'mores over a bonfire on the beach the last night with Debra. We minimally got on each other's nerves. Side note: maaaaan, I remember the ferry at Aransas Pass being SO MUCH FARTHER across. We'd barely gotten out of our cars before we'd reached the other side.

It was a really good weekend. It just felt wonderful to have no plans, take naps, read, and hug on my favorite littles - furry and human. Last year this anniversary was so awkward. It felt unorganized in the worst way. Almost disrespectful. No one knew what to do or say, so we did nothing and said nothing, and then we all felt badly about it. I mean in one week we're tossed between celebrating your birthday and three days later marking the anniversary of your death. It's just hard to know what to feel.

But this year, this weekend was so good. We've all learned to let each other grieve and remember and honor you in our own ways. I write you letters and make your pancake recipe and bake birthday desserts and get everyone organized enough to end up in one place. Others of us go for early morning walks on beaches or long hikes to commune with nature. We group text anecdotes and memories and old pictures and new pictures. It all serves the same purpose, we just have different ways of accomplishing what we need to say or do to feel like we've recognized both your impact on our lives and your absence from them.

But this weekend, I started to feel your presence in ways more than your absence.

You know how people always say "it feels like forever ago, but also it feels just like yesterday"? It doesn't very often feel like yesterday anymore. It just feels like forever. I think I have lived more, changed more, learned more in the past two years than any other two years of my life.

In some ways things have gotten easier day-to-day, but in many ways - new ways - I'm realizing it will always be hard. I try not to think of all the things in my future that you won't physically be there for - those are the hardest. I cry every time I think about any children I might have, and that - no matter how perfect my descriptions are of you, or how many home videos I play for them of you - they will never know you. Nothing will ever be able to fully replace getting to see you as a grandfather to my kids. You were always there to witness everything I ever created or performed in, but now this - the ultimate creation - I would never be able to place in your arms and see your look of love and deepest approval. That is the greatest wound. If I ever have children, this will be so hard.

But we are finally finding a new groove. I think you'd be proud of all of us for how far we've come, and the new dynamic the family has established. We aren't perfect, and we don't get along perfectly, but we never were and never did before either. In some ways we are still tiptoeing around keeping the peace, deferring to Mom always, but especially when *your children* can't seem to agree. And Mom makes decisions! You know I don't mean that condescendingly. She was always capable, but now she makes up her mind without being backed into a corner or bullied into it. And she's running your company and keeping it successful! Lots of (!!!). I know she misses you desperately, but like us all she's finding that there are ways in which you will never fully leave her and wisdom you left behind that will go on giving. I always knew her to be strong, but now I know it for different reasons... and it's glorious.

The evening we got back from Port A, a Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse happened. Yeah - it's a mouthful. It was a supermoon, very close to the earth, but also a total eclipse which turned the moon red. We didn't see a lot of the color like some other parts of the country did, but the supermoon was so fantastic it didn't matter. Mom let us bring your old telescope home and after a bit of fumbling we figured out how to make it work, and I figured out how to take iphone pictures through the lense. It was a once in 30 year experience, and I will not forget it.

I kept staring up at that moon, so bright, so close, and feeling like you were just there. It was not describable with words. A shared moment. It was the most comforted I have felt since you left this earth two years ago. I whispered "Hi, Dad." Did you hear me?

I can and do frequently imagine you in another place. It takes different forms in my imagination, but usually it's a garden. Far be it from me to define it or even title it, but I believe it's there and you are preparing a place for the rest of us. This brings me peace, and that peace is often embodied in gifts from the natural world. The birds on my bird feeder, the super moon, a lighting storm on the beach... when I catch glimpses and reminders of all the ways you're still showing up to share moments with us.

Thank you for the moments. I need them desperately.

Happy Autumnal Equinox. Happy Fall. Happy Super Moon! Happy, happy, happy 62nd birthday, Daddy.

I love you, always and forever.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Egg Sandwich Perfection

Two years ago this week and next were the two worst weeks of my life. Two years later I'm focusing on honoring my dad's memory in the best ways I know how, and trying to do things, make things, or participate in things that make me happy instead of sad. Making egg sandwiches seems to be working, a little.

Don't worry, this isn't about to become a food blog (flog? foodlog?), but I have achieved Egg Sandwich Perfection, and I'm here to tell you about it. It all started when I made this herbed red potato salad recipe from my new fave source for healthy recipes: Cookie and Kate. This isn't a new blog and it's popular, so you might have already heard of it - but remember, I am just entering this world of people who "like to cook" and so websites like these are little golden nuggets right now.

The herbed red potato salad was Okay with a capital O. It's probably not a recipe I'll repeat, BUT I think the key to my Egg Sandwich Perfection was the leftover herbed olive oil dressing! When I dressed the potatoes, I felt like the dressing was too runny, so I poured some of it off. I was going to toss it but figured I could throw it in something else later on (isn't that what all talented, spontaneous cooks do?). The dressing is very repeatable and easily could be used for lots of things sans potatoes.

  1. In a small food processor or blender, combine the olive oil, ⅓ cup parsley, ⅓ cup green onions, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic and freshly ground black pepper. Process until the herbs and garlic have been chopped into little pieces, then drizzle in the reserved cooking water and blend until emulsified. (If you don't have a food processor or blender, just finely chop the parsley and onions and whisk the dressing together until emulsified.) []

Egg Sandwich Perfection
1. fry two strips of bacon to crispy, cut in half (I prefer Pederson's uncured)
2. chop up some cherry tomatoes, green onions, parsley, garlic, jalapenos, mushrooms (whatever you like with your eggs, insert here - I don't like rules)
3. toast some good bread to well done (Gluten Free bread if necessary)
4. when the bacon is done, remove and throw in all the chopped veggies to saute for a short bit before adding the egg
5. sprinkle in some goat feta cheese, or any cheese, if desired
6. salt and pepper egg scramble to taste
7. butter the toast, then spread with HERBED OLIVE OIL DRESSING on top (or skip the butter if you don't live on the wild side)
8. add egg scramble to bread, top with bacon and 1/2 sliced avocado, cut in half and serve with coffee, of course.

Guys, there is nothing "pretty" or gourmet about this sandwich. The juices run out the sides, tomatoes and bits of egg will fall off, you'll need a bib, but don't worry because you will! It's like holiness in your mouth.

Amazing for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner - I've had it for all three several times this week already... and it's now husband approved!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rainstorms and Root Beer Floats

It's always bizarre the way random, but super specific things will stick in your memory. I cannot remember valuable information when I need it, or often the end of my sentence, but I can describe the pattern of the paper liner in my childhood dresser drawers. Because, you know, that helps me on a daily basis.

There's something about a rain storm that always stirs up memories of root beer floats. The heavy, fresh scent of soil come alive with moisture, the thick breezes full of humidity, and the loud splats of rain on pavement calls to mind Blue Bell "Homemade Vanilla" swirled in IBC Root Beer. Slushy in a pre-chilled mug. Savored, first with a straw and then with a long iced tea spoon. We'd sit on the front veranda in our folding butterfly chairs, wrapped in blankets and breathing in the wet air, and for that half hour or so the storm would feel like something extra special. Front row seats to a private performance from the Rain Gods. A traveling Magic Show just passing through. Celebrated with sugar, toasted with "beer." 

I don't remember why this stands out to me, and when I've asked my mother she doesn't either. She doesn't recall doing it, either as a comfort or reward or even as a distraction. I know that game. I was a nanny - I know the lengths you will go to in order to keep children occupied when they must be kept indoors. Maybe it was one of those days where, with three little girls and two under the age of six, that was the last card up her sleeve. I wouldn't doubt it, knowing our shenanigans.

I have a feeling this probably only actually happened once or twice, but my little sugar-addicted mind has forever connected the two things together, like you do at that age. It's raining thereFORE I should be having a root beer float. 

Sadly, I no longer drink root beer floats when it rains. Now I curl up with coffee and a new catalog for inspiration or a good book for company. But I can still taste that hint of sassafras and vanilla in those rainy drops.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Signature of All Things

Last summer I read this book called The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I took a picture of it and posted it on my Instagram, 'cause that's how I do. Then I started loaning it out to anyone I could convince to read it. But I couldn't stop thinking about it and internalizing it. This is the kind of book I would love to write. This is the type of world and characters I would love to create and share.

The Signature of All Things is the grandest, most unique and imaginative story I've read in a very long time. Maybe ever. I'm not going to try and really summarize or review the book. It would be hard to without giving anything away that I feel you should just encounter through reading the book. Pick it up and be surprised. Or, Google that shit if you really care. But basically:

Alma Whittaker is born at the beginning of the year 1800, to a self-made, botanical/pharmaceutical entrepreneur father who sailed with the explorer Captain Cook, and a strong, brilliantly educated Dutch mother. Alma dedicates herself to studying the much-neglected mosses of the world, and this survey leads her deep into the mysteries of evolution. (Remember this is pre-Darwin, so there is no established Theory of Evolution.) But it's also about unrequited love, sexual exploration, and angel messengers. The book spans eight decades and takes place in Amsterdam, London, Philadelphia and Tahiti. 

I know, I know. A summary cannot do this book justice.  If you love science, specifically botany, and beautiful storytelling, this book is for you. If you love stories with tremendous scope and quirky, yet charming characters, this book is for you. If you love explorations of purity and pleasure, and encounters with divine beings, this book is for you. I'd like to think it is a book for everyone, but it is not. 

This book was akin to a little spiritual encounter for me. There was so much of my own father in this novel, it seemed providence I read it when trying to process his absence. The wonder at the ways of the world, and the logical deduction and creative reasoning that often cannot explain its mysteries was something that kept him quite fascinated, and frequently troubled, his whole life long. Nature is the battlefield where most often spiritualism and science collide in overt, examinable ways. My dad often stood there, not always sure on which side he fought, or why one had to necessarily separate from or against the other. 

Alma, a fictional character, and her deep admiration for natural sciences was so contagious, I found myself examining the world around me with new and enlivened senses. It brought me deeper understanding of how I think my dad might have experienced the world around him. For Alma, there is no need for something more than her here and now, her present existence. She relishes in fact and actuality. There's no need for anything greater or beyond, because the natural world is so glorious it is completely fulfilling and totally satisfying. But she just can't fully understand it. Some things - some people - cannot be explained by scientific fact or any amount of evidence and study, and that's her missing piece: the hole in her evolutionary argument.

For those of you snooty readers (like me!) who are raising an eyebrow at the author - Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame - let me just say: this book is nothing like Eat, Pray, Love. Now, I read EPL and I enjoyed it for what it was - a glorified self-help adventure. It was a light, frivolous read for the most part, that verged on self-indulgent. There are common themes that carry through all of her work, but EPL is not even in the same weight class as this masterpiece she's given us now. Every time I look at this cover I kinda want to grab a sharpie and mark out the line that says "author of Eat, Pray, Love" because these two books couldn't be more different. I love Liz, I love her podcast "Magic Lessons," and I'll read her future work (Big Magic on shelves 9/22), but her artistry here is ingenious. So don't let that association frighten you away, and conversely, don't open this book thinking it will be another rompy memoir. You'll be missing out either way.

Finally, read it before Masterpiece Theatre takes Alma's story to the screen! I'm delighted PBS optioned the book, and that Liz handed over this intricate and astonishing story to the team at Masterpiece, who I feel will treat it more delicately than anyone else could. I cannot wait to experience it all over again through film.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Trees, Chickens, Coffee, please.

Yesterday morning the "tree guys" came to take down trees along our fence line that were hanging over our power lines in the back yard. Of course they came early early and of course our bedroom faces the backyard, because it was my lucky chainsaw-filled day. Instead of getting up and being productive I stayed in bed and watched them work like any normal person would do, and within 15 minutes I was rewarded with a thundering boom as all our power lines came down with one of the branches. Awesome. I was soooo irritated at their incompetence, and it was far too early for me to be civil, so I rolled over, covered my head with a pillow and let Tim deal with it.

I must have dozed off because a few minutes later I realized the dimwits were chopping down our pecan tree, which was definitely NOT on the docket for the day's work. Within seconds I was scrambling out of bed and running outside in my underwear and wailing at them to stop, stop, STOOOOOP. Everyone just looked at me like I was a banshee, and I have no doubt I fit the description. A banshee in an old T-shirt and H&M men's boxer briefs, no less. Having imparted my message and stopped the crisis I went back to bed for a bit.

Then I'm reawakened by squawking chickens outside. Can that be right?? The chainsaw noise has stopped and Head Tree Guy's little minions are hunting stray chickens in my backyard. I'm already too late for one poor hen who lies pathetically limp on the grass. Too bad I didn't put clothes on last time I was up, because out I go again in my underpants, taking the steps two at a time, screaming my head off. "Have you no soul? These belong to SOMEONE. Leave them alone!"

Wouldn't it be awesome if all of that had actually happened? I tell ya, morning dreams are the best. This gives new meaning to getting up on the wrong side of the bed. In my dream, I guess I did that twice.

Anyway, with the morning off to such a good start, I thought it was a good time to break in my new little enamel cups from Target. These are really cheap crap, I'm sure, but they are the perfect size for the amount of coffee I drink in the morning (I hate using big cups with hardly anything in them), and, well, the message is TRUTH.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sincere Condolences

As I near the second anniversary of my dad's death from pancreatic cancer, I've begun to relive the events of two years ago all over again. There are so many awful things that my family associates with that time and those events, but when I think of the good things we'll hold on to, the many lovely condolence cards we received will be one of precious few.

A Cup of Jo wrote a wonderful post in August about how to write a condolence note, and unlike what you might find in Martha Stewart or a generic advice column, it had really useful, specific, and thoughtful tips from someone who actually had experienced loss. Everyone's different, of course, but pretty much everything she shared I found to be true in my own experience. I'm sharing the major points here, and adding my thoughts for those who experience that terrible "stuck" feeling when trying to put deeply felt sympathies into meaningful words or action, but please go check out the original post, as well.

We received so many cards, emails, phone calls, meals, and offers of help, from the time my dad was diagnosed with cancer till after he died. Every single one of them held us up on a life raft of encouragement and love. Nothing said here is in criticism of anything anyone did for us, as I have only gratitude for the hundreds who stepped up in our support or in his memory. No gesture was too small, no meal unappreciated, no card went unread. But, as someone who has personally experienced the desire to do something for grieving friends or overwhelmed care-takers and their patients, and been hampered by not knowing exactly what or how, hopefully some of what I've learned will be helpful.

Families coping with cancer and other terminal illnesses experience death over a period of time. That time could be days, months, or years, but the sick and their families need constant encouragement. In this respect, I've treated condolences as not only what you might send after someone dies, but what you might do while they are still alive.

*   *   * 
Snail mail a card. Every email, phone call, everything was wonderful; I was astounded by how kind people were. Physical cards were especially nice to hold onto. I didn’t care at all what the card looked like. I have them in a basket in our living room and see them every day.  [A Cup of Jo]
Greeting cards get a bad rap these days. It's easy to drop $6-$7 on a card, which feels kind of ridiculous, even when someone is dying - sorry, but true. The card itself doesn't matter, it could be stationery or a post-it note, but getting something in the mail is still something everyone looks forward to (right?). Oh, and if you know the family well enough, funny cards are always better than any card that actually mentions death, loss, grief, or sympathy or any other depressing cliche. Like the author, my mom also kept a basket of these on the kitchen counter and I remember reading through all of them multiple times.

When someone is sick with something like cancer, you might spend hours a day on the phone and computer. Insurance calls, doctor calls, appointment confirmations, reviewing medical records and transcripts, researching new cures, educating yourself about the disease, the list goes on and on. You might spend hours a day just on hold getting nowhere. I know for several of us during that time, keeping up with phone calls felt a little like work. Even if the caller doesn't ask for a return call - and p.s. you probably never should - phone calls are something to be checked and listened to, and then what do you do about them - delete them? That feels harsh. It's nice to hear people's voices, but they are harder to save and listen to later. 

As we all know, emails don't generally feel as personal as getting a piece of mail. Also, emails are likely to get lost or deleted, and sometimes hard to relocate later. On the other hand, my dad loved email and he spent time every day that he was sick reading and responding to emails from people who were wishing him well. I also started an email "newsletter" updating everyone about his care and progression several times a month, and sometimes several times a week. It was just the most convenient way to communicate, and when you've got a lot on your plate convenience trumps sentimentality. Lots of people responded to every email I sent with thoughtful words and reminders to stay hopeful. Many emailed my dad and mom directly on a regular basis. Those were always welcome and so so so appreciated, especially on the hardest days. They were almost daily reminders that people were out there, following along and making that journey with us. Those meant so much to my dad and he had some really important, albeit brief, correspondence via email in those last few months. In this way I think email is a valuable tool to provide quick and consistent encouragement to those who need it.

Regardless, I think cards win every round. :)

*   *   *

Describe how you can help. I was so grateful when people said, “Let us know if there’s anything we can do.” But when people offered specifics, it felt even easier for me to take them up on their offers. One friend wrote, “If you ever want to come over, we can grill and make grapefruit mojitos; we’d love to see you and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for you.”  [A Cup of Jo]
I love that she mentions this, and it is so true. The people who made specific gestures of help were most often people who had experienced what we were going through themselves. It does make it easy for someone to say yes, or accept, or even ask you to do something else completely, when you make a specific offer. I think it makes the gesture feel less "empty" and very personal. Some people made offers of help in areas we really didn't need any, but their willingness to do something, desire to help, and ability to be so specific about it empowered me to ask for their assistance in other ways.

Let me also mention the brain power most family members have left over for making decisions when caring for a terminally ill family member. There is none. There is nothing to spare after translating the doctors' information (or the lack of it), administering medicines, making a game plan for health care, the physical requirements of caring for a sick person, and at the same time trying to emotionally process what the F is happening. The result is that the countless offers you receive sometimes actually feel like more work than help, because they require yet another decision and often delegation. So, within reason, if you feel called or inspired to help in a way that does not intrude on privacy or cause additional stress for the family - just do it. Buy them that book on Amazon and ship it to their house, drop off that dinner with a bottle of wine, mow the lawn on the weekends and come by to walk the dog - and skip the offer. They'll be doubly thankful they didn't have to ask and didn't have to decide.

*   *   *
Tell stories. I loved when people wrote specific stories about Paul that I’d never heard, and told me how he had impacted them, what they loved about him, positive things they observed about our relationship. I personally think, the more detail, the better. The grieving person is thinking about the person 100% of the time; nothing you say is going to make her sadder; instead, the stories you tell are going to make her feel connected. [A Cup of Jo]
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. YES. I LOVE hearing about my dad. I love it when people say nice things about him, remember his quirks, remind me what a great service he provided to his hometown, describe his talents, and especially when they tell me things I didn't know before! I cherish those memories like nothing else, and I'm always thankful for people who want to talk about him. (I'm especially thankful for people who talk about him without me having to bring him up.)

One of his cousins wrote me:
"I remember when the river flooded and we heard he had hitchhiked back from college to help, I Immediately felt he would make everything ok. What a pillar of strength, character, ingenuity and dignity! Knowing him has made me strive to be a better person. The legacy he will leave with the world -- no man could want more."
I never knew he hitchhiked home to help with the river clean up! That's crazy. An acquaintance from my high school days emailed me about one of his basketball games where my dad approached him afterward:
"I have never spent much time getting to know your pop, but I have always respected him. After every guys game, he would come up to me and shake my hand and tell me how great we did. I can remember one game in particular, we were playing against a school in Austin. We trailed by 21 points going into the 4th and rallied from behind to win the game. Your dad was ecstatic and came over to tell us it was "one of the most amazing things" he had ever witnessed. Your pop has a way of making people feel good."
I love how specific this story is, and through all the detail you can plainly see how clear a memory it is for the writer - possibly one he'll never forget. My dad did that. My dad made that memory for him something he'll never forget. I needed to know that, as his daughter. Thank you for sharing it.

 *   *   *
Literally nothing is too cheesy to write. Whatever emotion you’re feeling, it’s probably helpful to say. My friend Kimmy, who lives in Sweden, wrote, “I’m sending you love from across the ocean, as you swim through yours.” Another friend wrote: “When your grief feels dark and bottomless, know that we are here to reflect Paul’s light and love back to you, whether it’s next month, next year or in ten years.” If there is something that you think sounds pretty, go for it. They aren’t analyzing what you say — they just feel so raw.
And there is nothing too great you can say about the person. One friend wrote, “I last saw you both at a friend’s wedding; you were gorgeous, and Paul was strong, confident and deeply happy. The awe I felt for him, you, both of you was astounding, and it has only ever grown.” I was blown away. You’re so starved for remembering and thinking you’ve lost something so great, when you hear something positive, it’s affirming and validating. You realize that people get what he meant to you. They understand, they think it’s important too. Your love is not lost in the world.
Of course, you don’t have to be sentimental. One friend wrote, “THIS SUCKS,” and that felt great, too. [A Cup of Jo]
We received some really beautiful letters from people. Not everyone is great with words, but that doesn't matter as long as it's well-meant and honest. All notes were meaningful whether they were straight to the point or read like poetry. I still cry every time I read what many of my cousins wrote about my dad. It just brings him to life on the page:
"Thank you for what has to be the best margaritas and breakfast migas. Speaking of which, thank you to the entire family for making it so new year celebrations anywhere else seem horribly boring. Thank you for teaching me how to shoot, and how to appreciate the worth of a good pair of snake boots. Thank you for being there, and for sometimes being a much needed breath of perspective. Thank you for being an inspiration. I am so proud to be part of this family."
It's so nice to know exactly what they remember him for, and to think that every time they have a homemade margarita or celebrate new years, they'll be thinking of him, too. One of dad's high school friends wrote me, and this funny little anecdote will always make me laugh:
"Even though we didn't stay in close touch over the years, every time we saw each other it was like we'd never left off. I know this is silly, but every time I look at a sponge, I think of him because he showed me how to microwave them in water when they are getting stinky. There are so many good memories I can't list them all, but they are all on my mind now."
I even received this note from the musicians that played at my dad's memorial service!
"We all agreed that we've never played a gig quite like this one, but we were all grateful for being a part of it--the support of your friends and family for your father and for each other was incredible. All the shared stories, and Maggie's wonderful singing, was an outpouring like nothing I've ever seen. On a break, [we] agreed that although we didn't know Chris, we both wish we had. He must have been an amazing person, and we are proud to have helped you honor his memory."
In some ways this last one was weirdly more meaningful than many others from people I knew. These guys showed up and played at my dad's memorial. None of them knew any of us or knew my father. But they left feeling impacted by his life, and one of them was thoughtful enough to share it with me. I appreciated that so much. 
*   *   *
Consider involving kids. I liked when kids drew a picture of Paul and me. Sometimes they drew a random picture and that was sweet, too. One note said, “Dear Lucy, You’re sad. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I said a prayer for you last night. I’m Molly’s son. Love, Finn.” And then he drew a four-leaf clover. One girl wrote “Sick, Happy, Dr. Paul” and then crossed out the word sick. That was before he died. Her mom was like, I guess she decided she didn’t want him to be sick! It felt so poignant. [A Cup of Jo]
Any little distraction is welcome when you are living a 24/7 cancer-hell. Pictures, drawings, funny gifts, goofy youtube videos - they pass the time, and certainly the long quiet days and nights after someone dies. Kids have that way of getting straight to the point and not beating around the bush. It's refreshing and welcome in those tough and often confusing times.

 *   *   *
Say you’ll never forget him or her. I like hearing that people will miss him. Someone sent me flowers and said, “Thinking of you; we miss Paul dearly,” and that meant a lot. A nurse who worked with him wrote, “We cherish the moments we spent with Paul in the operating room; he will never be forgotten.” Even though she’s a stranger to me, it’s really comforting to know that a nurse out there will never forget him either. 
This phrase was surprisingly and especially comforting to me. People could tell me they were sorry all they wanted, but to remember something specific about my dad and follow it up by "I'll never forget him" was true balm for my soul. I think it just seems like such an important acknowledgement of someone's impact on your life. We meet thousands of people in our lifetimes, and someone must be unique to be remembered - especially by people who didn't know you intimately or all that well. It also gives you the feeling of solidarity and that you aren't alone in the loss - other people are feeling it, too. Help us to remember, so we do not forget.

* * *
Write, even if you’re an acquaintance. A couple of people I didn’t know well still wrote to me (old friends of Paul’s, or the artist who illustrated Paul’s New York Times essay). It meant so much. You don’t have to be a close friend to write. 
Some of the most memorable and moving notes we received were from old friends of my father, or customers he worked for - we didn't know them, but they heard the news through the proverbial grapevine. These were fascinating for all of us, because it was a peek into little bits of his earlier life which we were not a part of or couldn't remember. Additionally, write to old friends you hear are sick, even if you haven't stayed in touch. I think it was very affirming and encouraging for my dad to receive notes from people in his past. Don't let distance, fear, or insecurity allow you to pass up an opportunity to say something you want or need to say.

*   *   *
Reach out anytime. A few friends texted or sent flowers on the one-month anniversary of his death. Others sent a note a couple months later. They said, “We’re thinking of you,” and that was nice. You are not better two months later. I can imagine it would feel good to receive flowers six months later, a year later.
It's yet another thing to add to your calendar, but especially if you are a close friend - do this. Program it into your phone or write them in the months to come on your planner. It's SO meaningful. Send a card or even just a text. Reach out in some way on important dates like birthdays, death-days, anniversaries, and any other day you think might be challenging for that person. But, don't hesitate to do something on random, insignificant dates as well. I had a hard time on my 30th birthday, ushering in a milestone without him just felt so wrong. The greatest comfort is not feeling alone, and the gaps between one anniversary and the next are often just as hard as those more significant days. 

A dear family friend took grapes my dad had cultivated and made "Saint Christopher's Grape Jelly" for us - such a special, thoughtful gift that allowed us to enjoy something he'd worked on, even many months after he was gone. We still have a jar!

*   *   *

In writing this post, I went through old emails and notes and read the words people wrote to me during that time. The grief is still there, of course, but I can smile at the stories and memories friends and family shared and know my dad is not forgotten. Those are the condolences that keep on giving!

And if you made it all the way to the end, my sincere condolences for the length of this post!

Friday, September 4, 2015

100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago, people didn't care how many twitter followers they had. They cared about whether or not their crops would survive the season until harvests. They cared that their livestock would bear offspring and see the other side of winter. They cared about surviving childbirth and keeping all their teeth.

One hundred years ago, children weren't raised as the center of the universe. They were birthed out of necessity, and often out of love. More children meant more sons to work the fields, more daughters to keep the house. Children grew up and followed the footsteps of their fathers and mothers. They weren't lost in a sea of choices and opportunity, but were anchored by hard work and simple goals.

One hundred years ago, women could not vote, homosexuality was still a crime, and the Civil Rights Act did not exist. Some things haven't changed. Others have taken on a new shape or face. We've seen progress, but we have the same problems. Women are still not equal, homosexuals are still persecuted, racism still very much exists. We're still at war, but with different countries, with different peoples, and with different social issues. People will always pick sides. We will always have opinions. We will always disagree. With transition, there will always be new problems. Every change starts a ripple of disorder, which in turn creates fresh waves of controversy. We have to amend laws and design a new order. 

One hundred years ago, living was just what happened between life and death. It was growing, eating, sleeping, working, marrying, birthing, care-taking, dying. The expectations weren't high. Life didn't owe us success, wealth, or fame. People got by on the least possible instead of in luxury. The stakes were survival. We were lucky, not entitled, to be alive.

We've come so far, we've learned so much. Breakthroughs in science, medicine, technology, commerce, connectivity. And now a generation is starting to move backward. Turn around and look to our grandparents and great grandparents. Look to history, handmade and homegrown. Question the wise and learn from the old ways. We're building a new dream on old ideals.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Paralyzed by Inspiration

Is it possible to be paralyzed by inspiration? 

It's a concept that I've been sitting on for weeks now, maybe even longer. Maybe my whole adult life. I recently completed a long, arduous bedroom re-painting project, and in those focused hours spent in my head while bent on repair and precision and concentrated effort, I waited for the answer to hatch. 

I listened. I "leaned in." I realized I've been listening and leaning in for a long time. I'm starting to feel a cramp. 

I've always thought of inspiration as the light bulb moment that propels action. As that missing part of the equation that suddenly works the whole thing out and answers the question. The first stroke of a paintbrush that will define the rest of the work. The thought or feeling or sensation that causes motion. I always thought it included clarity and understanding.

But what if there's too much of it at one time? Is that even possible? Can you measure an intangible thing like inspiration? Does it sound ridiculous to say you feel "overly inspired?" Would that cause your work or project to become derailed and the vision muddy? Or is it then not even inspiration anymore, but some other sensation? 

But clearly, paralyzed is the very description of what is happening to me right now. I'm overwhelmed by emotions I am processing, by truths that are being spoken by others, by the curiosity I have about the world and the people in it, and most of all... by what I have to do with all of it. 

Something must be done, and action must be taken. Otherwise those bits and pieces of enlightenment are lost and forgotten, or, worse, they get stuck inside you and things turn dark and broody. Even now, as I'm trying to finally get something about this, no matter how shaky or fuzzy, out into words, I'm deleting and backspacing, editing and rewriting. I just can't fully define what it is - Artistic frustration? Procrastination? Fear? 

"If I keep my ideas in, they will eat me alive."
- Rayya Elias

Don't get me wrong. I'm not certain this being "overly inspired" is entirely a bad thing. I'm pretty sure it's much more desirable than the alternative. It's both exhilarating and frustrating. I'm simultaneously thrilled and excited by each day, and let down by what I don't accomplish because I can't establish a direction. I'm full of ideas and prospects and brimming with potential. I'm filling my ears and head and heart and soul with encouragement and teaching from people who have had the ability to sink their teeth into these dilemmas, filter out the nuggets of truth, spit and shine and write them down to help unburden others. Thank God for them.

I feel like the message is always the same: if you just get started, the answers will come. 

"Inspiration doesn't owe you anything. Once you've found a balance between fear and creativity you still have to do the work."
-Elizabeth Gilbert

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What 30 feels like so far.

When on the cusp of turning thirty I'd imagine many people feel like when the day arrives, the sky is going to crack open and the earth will shudder, and life as they knew it will be over. There was no earth shuddering, life changing bit for me, but the sky did crack open and send down quite a shower. People were kayaking the streets of Austin on my birthday.

I was tucked away in a lovely rented ranch house at Sage Hill Inn in the hill country with Tim, and one of my best friends and her husband. We sat on the back deck and watched the rain pound down, laughed, ate queso and chips, and then watched the sun set with the most incredible misty-cloudy backdrop. Fortunately, the most of my personal worries that day was that I wouldn't get to go swimming. (I didn't, but the sun sure came out the next day!) It was a nice couple of days with zero pressure, a really bad sunburn, and Tim getting drunk and poking a rattle snake.

In all seriousness, though - I really thought I would have experienced MUCH more anxiety about this birthday. I desperately hate getting older (is there anyone who loves it?). I don't know anyone else who cried on their 21st birthday and refused to celebrate with large amounts of alcohol. It's not just the fine lines and gray hairs and all the physical changes of age, it's that everything feels harder, reality is more oppressive, and with every passing year I see aging embodied in incredible waste....of time, creativity, potential. You start to see that fear that you might wake up at the end of your life and feel as though you accomplished nothing that you set out to do might actually be realized.

Strangely, though, after two months of introspection, 30 feels more and more like a golden opportunity to go forth and live a life of intention, balance, and contentment. It's been motivation to open my heart to possibility and just trust that my purpose will find me. Those are the lines, I just have to figure out what shade to color them.

Over the past five years I started feeling increasingly imbalanced and out of place. Fuzzy instead of sharp, defeated instead charged. I struggled to perform well in my work or feel satisfaction in achievement. I lacked the confidence to follow my gut. I often couldn't even hear my instinct over the roar of insecurity, and spent a lot of time feeling anxious that I looked stupid. I was constantly paranoid of flunking life. It was sort of like I lost my inner-compass, if that makes sense.

All those cliches started to apply to me: I had no sense of self, I didn't know who I was, I needed to find myself. None of that had ever been a problem for me. If anything, I was always told I was too confident, opinionated, stubborn, and independent. I had consciously spent years post-college attempting to water those traits down in order to be hirable, manageable, and moldable in a traditional work setting, all the while not realizing that that was my core. Those weren't bad things, they were just what made me a little different from everyone else. Could I afford to be a little more patient and compassionate - YES. But I also didn't need to be so afraid of being wrong or messing up or people not liking me, that I hyper-analyzed every human encounter.

Quitting my acting *career* in 2010 made sense at the time, but looking back it was also me closing the door on my willingness to be really vulnerable - either on stage or in *real* life. What was once exciting and intriguing, was more and more just scary and painful. I dreaded my studio classes, I hated improv and auditioning, it was all so much work to keep pushing, exploring, and making new discoveries. Even so, it wasn't easy to quit. Theatre had been my identity for so long. It had been there before high school and then college, before Tim, before Oscar... it was very very deeply rooted. And it was always what I thought I wanted to do.

I think I stumbled around a lot after that. Without one clear directive, I wasn't sure where who I was meant to be or to what I should dedicate my existence. I still haven't really figured that part out, so let's just gloss over that for now. BUT. I'm starting to feel OK with the not knowing, and I think that's usually when the magic happens.

Oh. Also, in honor of 30 I finally changed my hair color. After 11 years.

Inspiration photos I took to the salon with me.

Before and After.
(Don't judge my shades... also from 2004. I lost my regulars.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

These days.

So after my birthday in May, a couple of things happened.

My friend and personal trainer of years past, Diana Haggerty, invited me to take part in the beta testing of a new program she's developing for her business Femme Power Fitness. For me, this meant I could afford to jump back into training session twice a week. For Diana, this meant she got fresh flabby meat to test her programming on, and my *valuable* feedback. One round of testing turned into two, and we're still going strong. This was exactly what I needed, starting exactly when it did. I talked about being really busy most of last year, and one of the things that definitely got sidelined was activity and exercise of any kind. Working with a personal trainer is good for me because I have to be held accountable, or working out generally doesn't happen. So while Diana doesn't technically have me do anything I couldn't do at home, and I definitely want to work up to a point where I don't need a very well trained, paid workout buddy to get 'er done, this is right for me, right now. Also, Diana is just awesome, so I don't mind buying her friendship twice a week.

The second thing to happen, that went hand in hand with the training, was a nutritional adjustment. The first few weeks of the beta testing the hubs and I also used Diana's meal prep services. So we had prepared meals to pull from the freezer 4 nights a week. If I'm being truthful, Tim ate more of the meals than I did. I didn't really start taking nutrition seriously for about another month - but I'll get to that in a minute. 

Tim being on board with a nutrition fix was a game-changer. It's not that he was ever anti-eating well, we just both supported each other's bad choices. Once he was on the wagon with me, it felt like a team effort and we were making the hard (but right) choices together. His vice is beer and overeating, and mine is fried food and sweets... and pretty much everything else bad for you. The prepared meals really helped him with portion control (Diana assigned us each a certain amount per meal) and kept us eating at home, instead of ordering out so much. A couple of other things clicked at about the same time that really helped motivate us both - namely I had a lot more time to focus on this issue and get my stress levels back to semi-normal, I turned 30, and we both hit our max weight EVER. I realized that for the last 3 or so years, I'd been looking toward year 30 as this goal - where I would be in the best shape of my life. Then the old birthday rolls around and I'm actually in the worst shape of my life. Time for a change.

I think a lot of women my age can identify, but at this point I'm not really concerned with being a skinny-mini as much as I am with feeling strong and healthy. Even if I weighed my goal weight, that isn't going to look on me what it would on someone a foot taller with genetically gifted long and lean limbs. I don't have that build. That sounds obvious, but it's taken me a long time to realize that being fit for me isn't going to be poster-worthy, and it isn't all about pounds and ounces. My new goals were (yes) to lose some weight, but also to build muscle and have more energy. 

And then came the real "experiment." We decided to cut out gluten and wheat-based products from our diet. I did this once before and didn't feel like it made a huge difference for me, so after a month I gave it up. Bread has always been my first love, so giving that up is always a challenge. This time it was like magical things were happening for our intestines. After a mere two weeks we had a cheat day and both felt like warmed up dog shit, so the proof was in the pudding, so to speak. 

Oscar judging us on a cheat day at The Launderette.
 Gluten-free has become a cliche these days, and specifically in Austin it feels uber trendy to be gluten-intolerant. I roll my eyes when I hear people request it at restaurants because half the time I don't think they really know what it means, but I can't anymore - because I'm doing it, too. In our favor, this does makes it really easy to go out to eat around town while still maintaining our dietary restrictions. Most places here have a number of GF options, or are very accommodating if asked. All I can say is, I feel bad when I eat it, and I feel better when I don't. I'm not going to get more scientific than that, because I really don't care. The next step will be to eliminate all processed foods. But for now I still need my GMO-free, GF, organic blue corn chips and salsa to get through the day.

Ignore the bread. It came with the meal and wasn't eaten, by us anyway.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Where I can breathe.

Is it just me, or people my age, or are we - as a nation - trending toward the rural life again? So many folk I know now have dreams of unplugging and making their urban exodus, quitting their jobs and traveling like nomads, setting up farms and ranches or living in tiny houses on big spreads of land. Some days it sounds truly glorious. Then I think about milking a cow at 5:00am every day and I waver.

Even though I grew up in the country and played in the dirt (literally... I LOVED making mud pies, mud soup, mud muffins, etc, like nothing else), once I got into theatre, I always thought I'd be a city gal. No aspiring actor's dream is complete without a penniless move to NYC, right? I never made it, clearly, and on my first trip to NYC I was mesmerized / revolted / in disbelief at the piles of trash and stench of pollution everywhere. I felt suffocated and depressed. I couldn't fathom how someone could live there, much less happily. Yes, I saw the character, I felt the pulse of opportunity, I soaked up the history and admired the architecture. But I also felt like the city just looked tired, patched together, with millions of tiny human ants milling about. By comparison, D.C. (our home at the time) felt like a pristine National Park. 

I love cities. But living in any big city is HARD. Everything takes more effort. Everyone's exhausted from just doing life everyday. I love to visit and do city stuff, but I have no more desire to live there. I'd much rather sip coffee on the front porch of a cabin in the mountains, or look out my window and only see fields and cows. It's in those places I feel like I can breathe. 

It's like we've come full circle, to another generation running like wild from a concrete paradise. A generation who is invested in the quality and source of what we put in our bodies and interested in where our food is grown and raised, and sees value in owning and cultivating land. That simpler life where the goals are sustenance and survival. You work hard, but you work to feed yourself and your family, and nothing more. It seems like a small and a manageable life. The work is hard, but meaningful and rewarding. We don't need so many things to make us happy. Just meals, shelter, and sunset embraces after a day of toiling in the earth, and rising just to rinse and repeat again tomorrow.

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” 
― Wendell Berry

Monday, July 20, 2015

This blog and me.

This note is a page-holder for things to come. Get ready, it's long and rambly.

If it isn't obvious from previously posted content, I have a difficult time posting anything less than 591,847,236 words long. Case in point here with this one. Usually when I sit to write, it's because one of two catalysts occur: 

1. I've been mulling something over for a very long time and finally feel ready to put it down.
2. I'm struck by or experience something that inspires "a light bulb moment" and feel the need to write about it right away.

Point being, I'm long-winded and I'm not very good at making anything a habit, unless we're talking about caffeine and chocolate and binge watching Netflix. So regular posting has never been easy for me because it takes time and apparently (over) thinking, and then I just talk myself out of it in the end. Like I do exercise. Also, even though it might not be obvious, I tend to spend a good deal of time on what I write. Rarely Never do I sit and write and then click publish without a good proof read or several revisions. Sorry, that's just the English major in me. And THEN once it's all up there I immediately start to doubt it: the tone, the style, the content. I'm a judger - it's what I do - and don't think that I'm exempt from my own criticism. (I once tore diary entries out, because I later thought they were "stupid.") I worry that it's too contrived, too indulgent, too narcissistic, too anything. The list is long. Everything about putting what are essentially personal journal entries out for public consumption leaves me wracked with about a bazillion feelings. 

And let's for a brief moment (because I know this is a very over-worked subject) talk about the fact that I'm a little torn about having any social internet presence at all. There is a VERY big part of my soul that would love to snub social media as a whole forever. I miss my flip phone where I could only receive text messages and make phone calls and occasionally get really, really grainy photos, so so so bad! I find myself falling into the black hole of click-me! headlines and endless youtube videos, and then feeling so disgusted at the total time I just wasted. I would love to be uber hip and go completely off-grid. 

BUT. I'm also fascinated with the way technology connects total strangers. Most of my generation doesn't even have a clue what the world was like before chat rooms, forums, and online dating services. I still remember the excitement of hearing "Welcome" and "You've Got Mail" and the little door opening and closing as your BUDDIES signed on and off of AOL. A whole new world, that's what that was. So while I hate all the stereotypes - the snarky comment threads, the oversharing, the people who use Twitter and Facebook for their own political agendas, you know the kind - I sort of love the weird, modern beauty of how the interwebs link perfect strangers together. It's why I recently turned off the private settings on my Instagram and started using hashtags. I've found and followed so many other ridiculously interesting people with amazing life perspectives on Instagram. It's cheesy, but I've been inspired by them. Those people thought they had something worth saying and were brave enough to share a bit of their life with the world, and the fact that it was accompanied by a photo didn't hurt either. It's brave - EVERY time you share something - whether it's on the internet or face-to-face. Don't disillusion yourself that because you put something on the internet you can't hurt or be hurt because it all happens through a screen.

I often think about what tangible, recorded history I'll leave behind. Not that I think my life is or is going to become quite astonishing, but I know how much I've treasured old letters my parents wrote each other, cards I received from my mom, or even how much I enjoy rereading hand-written trip entries from just a few years ago (I always take a real journal with me on trips). Emails get deleted, computers break, files mysteriously vanish. I can't tell you how sad I am that I don't have some of the email correspondence between me and my dad from when I was in college. Heartbreaking. Before the internet, history was often recorded through letters. What do we have now for future generations? Blogs?

There's the pressure (is it all in my mind?) to have a categorized blog, or have a purpose. Gone are the days of livejournaling all your deepest emo thoughts, and knowing everyone was gonna be channeling the emo right along with ya. Now there are a million fashion bloggers, or fashion-travel bloggers, or fashion-travel-photographer-home-renovator bloggers who make shit and sell it on etsy. Few just write about their lives anymore. Maybe because everybody's trying to make money. Most people's lives aren't interesting enough to make them money, and we, as consumers, aren't interested in regular life anymore. Our culture prefers the sham that is a curated internet lifestyle. Our own personal museum pieces. I'm guilty of it too. I want my life to look and sound interesting. WHY ELSE WOULD I SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD?

Suffice to say, I have major mixed feelings over this blog and blogging in general. I feel supremely foolish telling people I have a blog - it sounds SO cliche - so I never promote it. I never really considered trying to make money off of what I write, either. When people who do read it comment on something I've written I usually feel embarrassed. Exposed. I think I need to get over it all. Blogging is here to stay. I like it. I enjoy doing it. But I have always struggled with the purpose. I mentioned living life with intention this year. I'm trying to decide what that means for this blog. Am I writing for ME, or am I writing for some (mostly) unidentified audience? Is it for therapy, pleasure, or the need for attention? What's my motivation and do I have an agenda? I'm not entirely sure. I think it's a combination of things, but I keep coming back. To write. I just like to write. Can I leave it at that?

Since the end of May, when I turned 30 and found myself with an excess of "free time" on my hands, I've been having a lot of deep thoughts and BIG feelings. All of the feelings. About everything. About BIG stuff. It's not world-changing, but it's world-view-changing... for me. I feel like during the transition from 29 to 30 I lived a whole mini-lifetime. I need to - really need to - write it down. Not for the internet, or my 3 readers, but for me. I want to remember it, it's my history.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Typically in January I set some intentions for the year. Even if I don't share them here, in the last few years I've truly been thoughtful about who I want to be during and after the forthcoming 365 days. When January rolled around I just wasn't ready. I couldn't make myself stop working long enough to decide what my intentions were for 2015. Sure, I did my yearly survey, but that was it. I thought for sure I'd have something down on virtual paper by my 30th birthday. But I wasn't ready. I was too busy.

For a long time - the past 2 years - being too busy was the best thing for me. It really helped me transition quickly from a place of deep grieving much more quickly than if I'd had a lot of time to sit and dwell. It covered up a lot of things I just didn't want to feel, embody, or understand. So I glorified how busy I was. I was that person who had to stop conversations to check my email and whose phone interrupted dinner, and I'm sure I acted very self-important about it, too. Anyway, busy got busier, and then sort of insane, and then it didn't feel like a good, healthy, normal, distracting busy anymore. It was a "I'm on the verge of a meltdown" busy, and on top of the life-busy, my heart and mind and soul were pretty damn busy trying to deal with all that grief that had been swept under the rug. I was struggling with everything - career, relationships, financial status, materialism, wellness, marriage, life. Just "doing life" was tiresome, each and every day. I couldn't enjoy anything. Except crap food. 

It's not an unfamiliar story. I was sad, super stressed, unhealthy, and now sort of overly plump in a way I had never been before. And for someone who always dealt with immense stress and crises extremely well, it was clear I needed a small team from FEMA to take control.

Establishing an intention for this year seemed so big and monumental...and just one more thing to set off an anxiety attack. Asking anything that deep of myself was far too stressful for January. And also for February, March, April, and May. And apparently June as well, come to think of it. Maybe I thought it had to be more significant than other recent years, because this was a BIG year - the year of thirty. Maybe I was just being lazy. Maybe the overachiever in me wanted to have ALL of the intentions because I was experiencing ALL of the emotions in a VERY big way. Seriously. But maybe, it's also just taken me this long to realize that this year isn't going to have a key word or phrase or special goal. This year is going to be all about living with intention for me. That's it. In everything I do.

Do you know what's really fantastic? The medical definition of the word intention is: "the healing process of a wound."


You guuuuys. Such a happy coincidence. I promise I didn't plan it, it wasn't my intention. 
Well... now it is.

below: the face of 30. and Oscar.