this is my church*

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every moment in this place is a gift.

the early morning quiet, to the dinnertime chaos

the steam rising from a cherished mug, to the clinking of an etched wine glass

fires crackling, and smoke swirling in to the deep midnight sky, singing until the wee hours of the morning

crawling in to the most sacred of spaces, a bed that smells like fabric softener and a warm spring breeze

the laughter of two people that have been so in love with each other for over 4 decades, and knowing that the sound of their voices will always be one of the most beautiful sounds you have ever heard … and also knowing one day, it will be the sound you long for most

rising before the sun and watching it slowly creep above the enormous tree line to watching the layers of stars twinkle, dancing with the northern lights

there is no other place on this earth that holds so much of my gratitude, that gives me so much faith

in moments of chaos, and moments of quiet … this, this is my church

Feeling: 2013/11/11*

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I miss my best friend

Feeling: disconnected

I’ve been thinking about New York City … a lot

Feeling: excited

I wish I could get my finances under control

Feeling: anxious

I just want to go somewhere new

Feeling: stir-crazy

I am really enjoying re-connecting with L

Feeling: comfort

My dad is my favorite person right now

Feeling: loved

Little Miss A has stolen my heart

Feeling: blessed

a sense of guilt for the holidays*

I won’t minimize it and I’ll tell no lies… when it comes to Christmas, we’re extravagant.

We trim our tree, and host a feast, and gift to our hearts content…

I’ve never felt any anxiety towards the way we celebrate, until today. I was discussing holiday plans with a group of people that I work with, and I mentioned that our family members were deciding on our per person budget for gift giving over the holidays, as some of us (ahem, me…) wanted to start our holiday shopping.

It got so quiet, I’m pretty sure I could hear the crickets from the field across the street.

Please be aware that there were no amounts of money disclosed, just the simple fact that we set a budget.

The loudest and most opinionated member of our group spoke up “ You guys have budgets… I don’t even buy gifts for my immediate family. It must be nice to have no other financial responsibilities.  We just can’t afford that …”

This gave the other, less confrontational members the guts they needed to speak up.

“I would rather just spend time together, not spend money on each other”

“It seems ridiculous to buy presents for everyone, maybe you should think about donating to those less fortunate…”

This little voice inside my head echoed their statements. Maybe we should re-evaluate our gift giving…

The pacifist in me rule for about 30 seconds, and then the stubborn child my parents taught to fight for what she believes in stepped forward (which is why you’re reading this post right now )

No one has the right to make another person feel guilty about the way they choose to celebrate their favorite holiday.

What these girls don’t understand is this… Christmas is our holiday.

We don’t do much for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday. Maybe we’ll have a nice dinner all together, a couple of hours in each other’s company, but that’s it.

Christmas is total locked down family time. We spend a few days in each other’s company. We enjoy amazing meals that we spend hours creating together. We also give each other gifts, not in the hopes of receiving in return, but in the simple joy of giving a gift. Of spending the time searching out something that is absolutely perfect for another person, in the hopes of bringing them joy and having them know that they are loved and appreciated. 

And, yes, we donate to those less fortunate. The best gift I have ever received from my little sister was a donation to my favorite cause. I’ve kept the card she wrote in to tell us what she had done, and it will always be one of my truly treasured gifts.

To me, this time we spend together, these memories we share, are worth putting aside a specific amount of money each month of the rest of the year. I do this so I can afford my “extravagance” without sacrificing my other financial responsibilities, of which I have many.

A feeling of guilt was not something I was hoping for this year, and is a gift I have decided to politely decline.

30 before 30*

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this is it … the last year of my twenties. I plan to make it a good one!

Every year on my birthday, I make a list. Things I want to do, places I want to see; all within the next 365 days. Do I ever finish everything on my list … rarely.

But I always have good intentions!

This year I am sharing my list with the hopes of trying just a little bit harder to finish it. I’ve also heard that when you put your wishes out in the universe, it conspires to make them come true…

30 before 30*

  1. finish my heritage scrapbook album
  2. learn to waist hoop
  3. complete 30 scrapbook layouts in my personal scrapbook
  4. go somewhere new
  5. go on a road trip*
  6. spend a week in the mountains*
  7. take another of Susannah’s e-courses
  8. learn to speak Italian (very basic Italian)
  9. stop drinking soda
  10. grow tomatoes
  11. finish the first draft of my novel
  12. get a tattoo
  13. get my finances under control
  14. buy my first home
  15. cook 10 new dishes
  16. finish my  “forgotten” photo book
  17. make at least 5 Christmas Gifts
  18. take myself on 12 photo-dates
  19. buy a special item from Anthropologie
  20. add 12 fabulous pieces to my wardrobe
  21. learn how to crochet
  22. go to a concert
  23. go see a play
  24. go to Paris
  25. finish my nyc scrapbook (both trips)
  26. fill 3 journals/vision books
  27. go to a pumpkin patch
  28. take a class (cooking/photography/scrapbooking … something fun!)
  29. be open to love
  30. spend as much time with miss A. and her mama as possible

on fierce love and heartache*

fierce love

be fierce in your love, and gentle with your judgements…

I do my best everyday to live by these words.

They have been with me so long that I feel they are etched into the heart of me, into my very soul.

I have great respect and reverence for these words.

They have caused me great heartache (because when you love fiercely and it doesn’t work out, or the love isn’t returned, it hurts. Terribly.).

The have also brought me unconditional and soul shaking joy, and that outweighs the heartache every time.

the pursuit of beauty*

I love beauty just as much as the next girl. But what I find attractive is not the typical “all-American” beauty. Give me interesting … that is true beauty.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the story of my entire life. I was a young girl obsessed with fashion magazines and make-over shows, just like most of my generation. It has taken me years to come to the realization that beauty is not just what is plastered all over magazines and television.

There is a video of Dustin Hoffman that has been circulating all over Facebook. In it he ponders on how many interesting women he missed out on knowing because of the standard of beauty in our culture.

I’ve watched it several times (and have gotten choked up each and every time … I just want to reach through the screen and give that man a hug). It has got me thinking … In our everyday lives, in our daily routines, what do we give up in the pursuit of “beauty”?

In the 25 minutes it takes me to put on a full face of make up each weekday morning, what am I giving up? What am I missing out on? I could spend that 25 minutes sitting on the deck enjoying the early morning sunshine. I could spend that extra 25 minutes sleeping, for goodness sake! A minimal amount of make-up will take me 5 minutes, tops. 20 minutes of extra time each day, what a joy that would be …

How many relationships have I missed out on? Even as a woman who is attracted to the opposite sex, I still pay attention to a beautiful woman. Am I just as guilty as everyone else on walking by the interesting woman to be closer to the beautiful one …

what are you giving up in the name of beauty, and at the end of the day, is it worth it?

dear universe*

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for the blessings:

 

sunshine.good books.best friends.amazing community.incredible 

mentors.dark chocolate.inspiring blogs.a beautiful healthy family.

my niece or nephew growing in my dear friend’s belly.

 

and for the lessons: 

 

a grief filled day.kitchen burns.deep longing for someone i miss 

terribly.stomach pains.loneliness.

 

thank you.