Leaning Into Life.

Happy Sunday, friends!  I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend – mine was lovely.  Yesterday, we had our annual alumni ski day at Arapahoe Basin.  We reserve a spot on the “beach,” where people tailgate all day, dancing in neon snowsuits and petting dogs that wander by in search of a hot dog forgotten in the snow.

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The road to A Basin

Over the past few months, I’ve been slipping into a familiar pattern: dreaming of escape.  Some things were frustrating me at work.  My yard is a mess.  I miss my family.  So I planned a bunch of vacations and fantasized about selling my house and ditching my responsibilities by moving to a lake in Tennessee or loading myself and my dog into a Volkswagen van and driving cross-country.

It’s easy, when you’re frustrated and sad and lonely, to think you can solve all your problems with a fresh start.  To tie all your negative emotions to your geographical location; your job; your messy yard.

Each morning, I read a page in A Year of Miracles and the email newsletter from Abraham-Hicks.  Both teach that the way to happiness lies not by seeking a new job, relationship, or possessions, but by finding the beauty in your current life.  It can feel scary and counter-intuitive to relax into someplace (literally or metaphorically) where you don’t want to stay, but rather than continue resenting everything around me, I decided to try.

I bought a fancy new camera that takes gorgeous pictures; I signed up for banjo lessons, just to do something creative for its own sake; I hiked with a friend.  And I began to notice tiny miracles!  Those frustrations at work?  I had much more agency and ability to make positive changes than I thought.  My messy yard?  I can pay someone to clean it up.

I remembered how fortunate I am to have a home where I can see the beautiful Colorado sunsets, and to be able pay someone to fix the yard.  These are easy problems, the ones I have.  How silly it seems to lose sight of this.

So this weekend, I didn’t head to the mountains with a desperate hope that a fun weekend would save me by providing an escape.  I drove out to A Basin happy to have a reliable car, grateful for good weather, and excited to see my friends.  We played all day in the Rocky Mountains, with the warm sun shining on our faces and burgers cooking on the grill.  We sat in a hot tub with fat snowflakes landing on our faces, laughing, laughing.  I drank more wine than was good for me, but there was strong coffee in the morning and an easy drive back to town.  To my little house, which feels like a haven, where my sweet dog is being teased by the squirrels and there’s chicken chili in the crock pot.

(Oh, and rather than waste any energy feeling spoiled and self-centered after this realization, I donated money to Meals on Wheels.)

This week, I hope your beautiful life filled with sunshine, laughter, and compassion.

 

 

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Share the Love.

Happy Sunday, Friends!  Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Earlier this month, I walked into the grocery store and was greeted by a familiar display: the seasonal aisle in February, overflowing with oversized teddy bears and garish pink balloons.

Most people have a complicated relationship with Valentine’s Day.  Mine began in elementary school when a male classmate gave me a Michael Jordan valentine card that read “You turn me on,” next to which he had written, “NOT.”  Setting aside the incredibly inappropriate words on a child’s valentine and the fact that neither of us knew what it meant, I got the message.

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Presumably our teachers required us to give these cards to everyone in our class so that we would learn to love others equally, and so everyone could take home a literal bag full of love.  Unfortunately, we all got hand cramps signing our name to 30 romantic references that we barely understood enough to know we didn’t mean them.

It’s easy to take issue with the holiday’s commercialism and how it supports the societal pressure that says you’re only whole if you’re in a romantic relationship.  As an adult, I’ve been single during many Valentine’s Days and have had dates for a few, but my favorite February 14 thus far was the year I received a care package from my mom during study abroad in Scotland.  I clutched that envelope of cards and candy while I walked the cobblestone streets of campus, feeling so loved and grateful.

So this year, when we feel surrounded by fear and division, I thought Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time to do something loving.  Yesterday, some like-minded friends and I went to Target to pick up items to donate to Clothes To Kids.  For the same amount of money as a dozen roses and a box of chocolates, we dropped off a few items that will hopefully help some kids in our community feel better prepared to greet the day.

If you, too, roll your eyes at the giant teddy bears and balloons (the chocolate can stay, though), please join me in searching for a new way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Whether you’re attached or single, it’s a safe bet that someone out there could really use your love.

 

Lady Problems.

Hi friends!  We made it through another Monday, which is cause enough for gratitude and celebration.  The reward for this, of course, is a new episode of The Bachelor.

Yes, friends.  I love The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and I’ve been known to dabble in Bachelor in Paradise.  Hate on it if you wish, but I also love Jane Austen novels, good Scotch, and Henri Matisse, so it’s fine.  Life is all about balance.  These shows have taught me about human nature and the difference between true love and self-delusion,  and they’ve gotten me through some transformative times.

As I was watching tonight’s episode, I was struck by how self-possessed the remaining women are.  Physically, they’re specimens.  Caila’s hair looked like a Pantene commercial, her nails were freshly done, and her teeth are an orthodontist’s dream.  But most impressive is how in control of her emotions she seems to be.  She’s consistently sweet and upbeat, except when she calls upon a few adorable tears to punctuate her timely and appropriate feelings.

Watching this, I wondered briefly if this is the path to success in life.  Somehow becoming master of yourself enough to show only what you want people to see, while managing to be described as “real” and “genuine.”  Pair that with washing your hair every day and remembering to clip your ragged thumbnail before five days have passed, and we have our first female president!

And then my funny, fun friend sent me a text.  “Are you watching this?  This is insane!”  We chatted about how ridiculously large another woman’s family home is (“Seriously, is her dad the governor?”) and then drifted towards our own weekends.  The conversation went roughly as follows…

“How was your ski weekend?” she asked.

“It was so fun!  Except I had a panic attack in the middle of a run and a kid on a snowboard had to bail to avoid me.  I cried so hard I couldn’t catch my breath.  I was PMSing.  But the weekend was awesome!” I replied.

“Oh no!” she said.  “I was PMSing this weekend, too.  Once I cried because I was talking about how romantic Wuthering Heights is.  Then I was telling someone a pretty song lyric and started crying again,” she shared.

Then I laughed for a long time and sent some silly emojis and refilled my glass of wine.  I filed a couple of receipts and finished washing my dinner dishes, and I looked around at my sweet little house and my big, fun life, and I loved it all.  I might snooze my alarm too many times in the morning, and most of the time my nails are bare.  My emotions often pop up at inconvenient times and in conspicuous ways, but that’s ok.  I’ll take a friend who cries over Wuthering Heights over someone who art directs her emotions any day, and I think my friends would say the same for me.

My wish for you this week is that you look around at your life and love it all.  Enjoy the last of your full moon Monday!

(And if you’re a fan of The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, please do yourselves a favor and check out http://www.ihategreenbeans.com)

Regroup!

Happy New Year’s Eve, friends!  [Ed. note – the writer may have, uh, fallen asleep before midnight and forgotten to finish this post.] Whatever holidays you celebrate (or not – it’s a free country), I hope they’ve been great.

I got to spend Christmas “back home again in Indiana,” where it was a disorienting and rainy 60 degrees.  Thankfully, we had enough of a break in the weather to take my step-dad’s ’36 Ford out for a cruise on Christmas day.  Rick and my brother rode in the front and my mom and I shared the rumble seat – it was so fun to drive around town and greet people out walking their dogs.  Some called out, “hey, nice car!”  Others wished us Merry Christmas.  One man stood watching and smiling from his doorway.

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In our own little way, we helped to spread some cheer, and it felt nice!

We also saw Star Wars (loved, loved so much), played so many games of cards, sang along with family favorite Christmas tunes, and ate and drank way too much.  #typical

This year has brought a hard-won return to continuity in my life – or at least the beginnings of it.  For a long time I ran from one trip/apartment/store/bar to the next, trying to hold myself together.  Through a combination of time, living in this amazing state, buying my first house, and connecting with friends and family, I’ve started to relax back into reality.

Reality may not be perfect, but at least it’s real.  My wish for myself and all of you in 2016 is to make peace with our reality and find our own ways to make it better.

For now, I’m starting with a homemade breakfast followed by a Star Wars movie marathon with some great friends.  (Because, really, what’s more real than a bunch of adorable Ewoks?!?)

Cheers, friends!

Miscellanea.

Hi friends!

It’s obnoxious to complain about how busy you are (David Sedaris has a line about that in one of his books, but I can’t place it at the moment), but these last couple of months have been capital C Crazy.  Thankfully, I had a family vacation to look forward to.

A week on the beach with all of us together – how perfect!

Until…my brother’s wife had a health scare (she’ll be fine, thankfully!) and they had to cancel, and the beach reclamation that was to be two miles away turned out to be 9 houses down (oh heeeey, bulldozers), and I’m currently spending some quality time at Raleigh-Durham while my other siblings have been stuck on a plane in Atlanta for two hours.

Best laid plans, amiright?

Instead of being crabby, I worked for a bit, am sipping a coffee, and decided to share some fun tidbits.

Speaking of David Sedaris – this is why I don’t own a Fitbit.

This profile of neurologist Oliver Sacks is lovely and sad, but mostly lovely.

Is it too early to buy a ticket for this?

(Today’s post format was inspired by my friend Mary’s delightful blog helloiforgotmymantra.com)

Work it Out.

Hello, howdy, hola, friends!  (It’s been so long, I felt like you all deserved a selection of hellos.)

At the risk of starting on a note of negativity, the weather in Denver has been ROUGH lately.  I shouldn’t complain, since we get pretty spoiled out here, but dear lord.  I think we’re getting all our 65 days of rain in a row.  It makes me identify with Missy Elliott like never before.

Rainy Colorado

This is what I’ve been dealing with, people.

Naturally, I’ve handled it with patience and peace.  If by “patience and peace” you mean indulging in a disproportionate amount of whining (and wining).  Thankfully, our friend Shannon resurrected a work-out competition in which we log the number of minutes we work out each week, competing for weekly $5 rewards.

So today I dug out my old iPod and worked out to some tunes I haven’t heard in years.  The first notes of Adele and Amy Winehouse brought back memories of riding the Q train to Coney Island and the sticky feeling of your summer skin against the subway bench.  I remembered training for my first ever 5K, running past brownstones on my way to the Brooklyn Bridge.

It may still be cloudy outside, but dancing around my kitchen to Thunderheist brought a little sunshine into my day.

Here’s wishing you a little sunshine, no matter the weather.

Wedded bliss.

Hello, long-lost friends!  How’ve you been?  Hope you’ve all been enjoying the start of spring.

I just returned from a glorious wedding weekend in Michigan.  My dear friends Kate and Andy were married in a charming town on Lake Michigan, and it was a lovely wedding.  Kate is the sweetest woman I know, but she navigates New York like a native and doesn’t mess around on the basketball court.  Andy is charming and funny and such a gentleman that we were almost suspicious at first.

Best of all, he’s from Liverpool and has a kick-ass accent!

Beautiful bride

Beautiful bride!

In addition to bringing together two great people to start their next great adventure, this wedding reunited some of our best girlfriends from New York.  It’s well documented how much I love these ladies, but it bears repeating.  They’re some of the smartest, wittiest, funniest people I know, and we had so much fun drinking mini bottles of champagne, eating too much pizza (ha!  As if that were possible.), taking walks to the lighthouse, and teasing ourselves for needing multiple pharmacy trips.  “Guys – this is going to a wedding in your 30s.”

Carousel ride

Carousel ride – with hats!

On Sunday morning, we lazed around the room, flipping through a photo stream of wedding weekend pictures and already starting to miss each other.  All day I had a stomach ache that had little to do with all the bourbon.  I thought about Kate’s upcoming Derby party, Rachel’s favorite art exhibit, Hallie’s birthday in August.  Things we would have all been able to do together in New York.

We make a great effort to see each other as often as possible, but that magical world we created together no longer exists in the same way.  I called my mom after I was back safely in Denver and told her how sad I was, thinking about how things have changed.  She encouraged me to remember how grateful I was to live in Colorado and have so many great friends here, and that’s all true of course, and she was right to remind me.

Friends

Farewell spoon.

I don’t know if it’s an American trait, a Midwestern one, or something I developed on my own, but I have a habit of feeling a moment of sadness and immediately burying it under a cascade of positivity.  This time, instead of deflecting the sadness only to see it pop up elsewhere, I decided to just feel it and know I would naturally drift back towards happiness.  It felt like respect for those friendships and a level of trust in myself that I haven’t felt in a while.

So I was cranky for a couple of days, looked through the photo stream again, and ate more chocolate than strictly necessary.  I got a couple of good nights of sleep, and then our friend made a meme out of one of the wedding photos.  I laughed so hard!  I had a very productive day at work.  I ate some vegetables.  I went to yoga.

I still miss them all, but we have so many great memories from this past weekend, and now we get to plan our next reunion.

Guys…I guess this is growing up when you’re 30.

So cheers to Kate and Andy and their happy life ahead – it was an honor to celebrate with them, and I can’t wait until we’re all together again!

St. Joseph Lighthouse

This way to happiness.