Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I don't think I have genuinely and truly obsessed over something since the start of college.  I mean, I've hit ruts here and there, I've felt pain and struggled through it. But really truly found my self falling into the same dangerous, painful mental cycles over and over and over - it's been a long time since then.  But lately, I find myself there.  I find my mind gets literally stuck, and while I pray, read, recite, read, listen to music and try to force myself to sing along with the lyrics - still, I get stuck. It's a rough patch and probably serving me a good reminder that it is not as simple as I'd come to remember it - "just replace your thoughts."

I think I'm going to tell myself I'm allowed to think those thoughts all I want - that's the science of it right? So I've been told. Telling yourself you can't think those thoughts, makes your mind immediately run off to find those forbidden fields. So yes, brain, mind, you can think them all you want... until 2015.  Then we're done.  Then, we'll be done talking about them.  We can journal them perhaps, maybe sort out final, actual meaningful ends, but besides that, we're done muddying our mental waters.

And with that resolution, I've had another I've been playing around with - deleting Instagram from my phone. I already deleted Facebook from there and find I'm much happier and present already, but I think I could say farewell to Instagram for a month, or maybe a year, and be all the better for it.  I love it.  I love the beautiful shots, and the glimpses into the lives of loved ones, but, I think I'd be a bit more free to just live without them for a little while.  Just be me.  Take in inspiration in intentional handfuls throughout my day when sought, not when my hands nervously find my iPhone and turn me into an insta-zombie, mindlessly scrolling without even realizing what I've done.

I don't like being bad at things.  Maybe you've learned this from (um), any time you've ever hung out with me.  But recently I've had opportunities to be bad at things, or feel bad at things, or be told I'm bad at things - in fact, enough that I feel like I'm starting to lose my mind, and maybe my self. It's the grace of God I think that I also recently gained a life time partner who tells me regularly that I'm capable, talented, effective as he calls it. There are just so bloody many voices out in the world ready to tell you how you should have done something, anything. From making the wreath on your door to selecting your degree - so many voices! And, I think I'm ready for a few less of them.

One of my goals for 2015 is more quiet time.  Rest from the assailment of my own dangerous thoughts and the world full of voices that feed them.

If you're still working on your own new years resolutions here's a great article of 15 Things to Stop Doing in 2015. :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Puppy Fever!!

I made the mistake of searching for Pyranees for adoption near us.... a serious MISTAKE.

Both of these little pups are within a three hour drive of me right now.  RIGHT NOW.  :(  

Friday, December 19, 2014

I read this and found it so beautiful, I was compelled to share it with you.  This quote is from Erin, of Design for Mankind. It is the end of her article, "On Slowing Down."


Such a fantastic reminder about what our freedom can mean - the freedom and decision we have every day about how we will think: how we will perceive, how we will analyze, and how we will interact with the world around us beginning in our own head.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm so happy about Christmas I want to start CRYING.

I'll let you ponder that one on your own.  But despite the obvious - I am just so stinking happy.  Which is crazy, since my family won't be together this year... and more than ever.  But things feel right despite that.  Even though our holiday airfare required an elaborate coordination and calendar this year -- I'm so happy!! I'm happy that we're all darting here and there to be with those we love in unique and exciting new ways.  Kristin flew home from Berkeley yesterday and I got to spend her birthday with her, a fun tradition we got the pleasure of repeating this year.  Jason returned home from Israel on Tuesday, and while in one regard that means little to us here in Seattle, it means everything to my sister Kimberly, which translates to meaning everything to us here as well. (To clarify, his safety back home from an amazing trip means quite a lot to me - but in one regard he is either away, or away from us, so his nearness or farness means less in the day to day - but for Kimberly... ) I can imagine her holiday happiness from across the country and it just ignites mine too! It felt like too much - having one sister return home and a brother-in-law return safely to the states and home to his wifey - it feels like Christmas!  And now, I have one more day of work and a few hours and then John and I get to start packing for our own trip - a flight to Boise for our first married Christmas!  And hours after we hit those long-holiday-security lines, my parents will follow on their own adventure - off to Georgia and then to Christmas with Kim & Jason in their own sweet home!

And that is where I get all teary.  There has been so many exciting things in our family these past couple years - law school, a life-dream trip, home renovations, marriage, Berkeley! All of them have had their trials and troubles at moments, but they are all remarkable feats to look back on and celebrate, and I love the newness of this Christmas.  That is what I am choosing to celebrate this year - the hope of continual newness and the celebration of change.  As the 'tradition' nazi - I am of course also hoping to discover opportunities to cherish all we hold dear and do not want to lose. Little things. Old things. Special things.

I live life a little overwhelmed most days - have for almost two years - but right now, I'm doing my best to just let it all melt into gratefulness and thoughtful appreciation. Which of course - kind of makes me want to cry.

Merry Christmas you guys!!  Celebrate the new - cherish the old! Choose to be okay with things being different than they've always been - it's hope that life isn't locked - it is still being created, day by day. You won't lose what you love, but you will gain more of what you take time to appreciate.

Friday, December 05, 2014

I still need to finish nine books before the end of the year.  Yeah, that's N-I-N-E in the next 22 days. And yes, that means I have finished a total of zero books since last I posted about this.  Gah.  Shut it.  But I have been reading.  In fact I am over half way done with this really dreary novel about a dead woman, that I'd love to be done with, but won't let myself quit.  Partially because I don't quit books.  Mostly because I need NINE more books and I've already invested a week into this thing. We don't have much free time this weekend, but I'm hoping to buckle down and power through this horrible book.

Oh, and while I'm at it, I've also been toiling through Wuthering Heights.  For some reason I was expecting something a bit more like Jane Eyre.  But this book is painful. Combine it with the ghostly novel and I feel there's a draft in the room and far too many dead people making small talk in my subconscious.


PS - If you're wondering why I've been silent, please consult the post directly below.  But guess what - I just sent out my second interview team of the week. Boom. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I just requested to own another project.  I walked up to my boss and explained that it made more sense for me to run both of our major pursuits right now, because they have the same leadership team, not to mention I ran the first part of this other pursuit and would do well to stay on it.  She asked what projects I could trade to the other coordinator if I took it on. I didn't have one, I'd be wrapping one project up today, the other would wrap up just in time to take on the one I was requesting, and then I'd circle back with the same leadership team for a final two days on the second project. It would be a whirwind couple of weeks, but it would run smoother with one coordinator across both projects. It did make sense actually.  But just as I saw her starting to agree - I realized what I'd just done. Why? Why Katrina? So I'm considering how to clear my weekends again.

Not this weekend, but likely next, I'll be here. And I think I just realized, that is Thanksgiving.  So wooo!  Nice job!

This weekend, I'm sure we'll want to just sleep in, relax, read books.  It's amazing - we've been having those moments lately!  We both teared up one evening when we found ourselves sitting next to each other at the kitchen counter happily working on our own projects. Just simple little things - I was painting my nails. It was sweet and perfect.  A little dream.

I hope we do find time for that this coming weekend, but like last, we'll also no doubt work on getting all moved out of upstairs.  We are so incredibly close!!  Just a handful of furniture to sell, boxes of clothes, extra dishes, mix-matched towels to donate and a lot of electronics. ;) We also have to figure out how to fit a pantry in our tiny new home so we can empty out the cupboards - and the bar.  The bar is a real conundrum.

It has been work.  It would be so much easier to just stay upstairs in the beautiful 3 bedroom apartment with more than enough space for us, granite counter-tops, (A BATHTUB!), fireplace and tons of windows.  Each time I walk in there I hear that in my head, this would be so easy. But we don't really want easy.  We don't want to be owned by our mortgage. We don't want to get used to living off so much more than we need. And we don't need three bedrooms. It's excessive. So while selling our old couches, donating half my wardrobe (actually, more), parting with some good old friends (my sweet shoes), and always having a little space heater running is not easy - it is freeing. It is doing the work now to free us from the stuff that has been drowning and distracting us. It will free us to take risks. And hopefully it will train us in our habits, behaviors, tastes and expectations.

The peptalk to myself being complete, I'm really hoping this is the weekend we are finished with moving out, if not completely finished with moving in. I'm excited about this new season and our new home. I'm excited to find new renters/neighbors to share our home. I'm excited for more evenings at the kitchen counter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In order to accomplish my book goal for the year, I need to read 9 more.  That is approximately a book every 5 days.  I'm not too sure. But I'm certainly going to try. :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

I've spent much of my life terrified of the end times.  Scared to find out I'm not really saved.  Scared to face the tribulation I've always believed we'd all face together.  And mostly scared to discover I am really more afraid of the tribulation than I am in love with Christ.

As of late, that fear has been growing.  But so has a strange numbness.

Which scares me.  (You get the point here.)  I've felt the need to figure it out, or at least give it some attention.

I stumbled upon a series today from Bethany that discusses the tribulation and the rapture and I've been searching trying to find more. I've read Revelations through, several times.  And talked it through with my dad.  But still, I find I don't really know. And I get that that is half the point.  But truly, I feel my generation and the one behind it, have less of an idea about how all this is supposed to end than any previous Christian generation.

And as I'm listening another conviction is growing - we seriously have no fear of God right now.  Like, none.  I get that most of us are coming out of controlling church situations where leadership overstepped their boundaries and dictated preference as doctrine, but this is bigger than our pastor's mistakes.  And we can only use that excuse for so long.  I think we're past that time.  I think it's time we all get a new glimpse of the God we're dealing with - if he says that all creation proclaims the gospel - I don't think He's going to let us off the hook for being 'burned' by a pastor because he told us flirting was bad. I'm not excusing a single thing that's happened to people who've been hurt and mislead and are ultimately confused from a lifetime of manipulation twisted into truths.  I'm just saying - it's not really an excuse. If we keep using it as an excuse, we are insisting on continuing to live within the system we say we hate - a system where our pastors were the only ones who could see or hear God - a system where our pastor's decisions had to dictate our behavior.  It's like we're sitting in a cell starving and blaming the wardens who aren't even there! You're free, exercise your freedom by taking a moment to figure out for yourself what you actually believe.  But don't just stop at cigarettes and kissing, you just found out you're responsible for your own faith. You might want to handle a few of the real important questions too - like if you should expect to live through hell on earth for seven years.

Rant over.  Sure I'll regret this, maybe, but geez, I think there is bigger things at stake.

Ready to form your own opinion on something literally worth a damn?  

I've had a sincere, and sincerely inexplicable happiness at work lately. Even after a 9 hour SUNDAY work day with an additional couple hours of bar tending (also related to my firm)... I was at work just after 7 this Monday morning, and I was smiling at people!

I used to always be smiling at people.  Not so much since joining this company. Not that I'm always miserable, I just don't really walk around beaming smiles at my comrades. But for some reason, the last couple weeks I've found myself comfortably smiling.  Maybe it's marriage and the comfort and confidence of home. Or maybe its an outcome of choosing to change my conversation and contemplations - stopping negative and complaintive thoughts early on and proactively finding positive and wonderful things to run through my mental system and chew on. Maybe it's the happiness of the holidays drawing near. Not really sure what it is, but I'm tired after a long week (and weekend) or working sick, staring down another four long days, and I'm smiling.

Not sure what it is - but I'm grateful for it.  A happy heart makes a hard work day so much better! This Monday, I hope you find yourself with an inexplicable smile on your face and a sincere happiness in your heart.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

With the crazy list of surprise expenses, I could almost believe this little old Irish tale.  Oh well, we have love. And all you need is love, right? ;)

"Marry when the year is new, always loving, kind, and true.
When February birds do mate, you may wed, nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man.
Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses blow, over land and sea you'll go.
They who in July do wed, must labor always for their bread.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see.
Marry in September's shine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joy will come, remember.
When December's rain fall fast, marry and true love will last."

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Something Beautiful Today

I'm intentionally looking out for beauty now. I'd like to find something I can call beautiful each day- something fresh and good I can contemplate and set my mind on. So here's a little unexpected beauty I found. I don't mind sharing with your day.

I am currently dreaming of something like this.  I found an article for ten of the best fall Washington hikes and I'm itching to do all of them.  But then again, I'm sick of being cold.  If the dreary, wet commute to work each morning is enough to make me annoyed, I'm not so sure I'm up for a day of it.  But then - look at that!! And not just that, but John and I have slept in separate tents far more times than I ever wanted.  Each time I'd look at him before bed - point my finger - and say, "last time!" And I'd mean it.  But then, we'd camp again and we'd pitch his tent and pitch my tent.

Now we can finally cuddle up together in his far superior little tent and I so badly want to!!  I want to buy cute little blue camping mugs and get a ridiculous two person sleeping bag and drive out to the mountains for a little backpacking.

I just want it to stop raining first.

Be there for your people.

While in Boise a couple weeks back, John's mom shared a deep lesson the past year had taught her.  The passing of her father and then her mother was quite a painful, and long process.  Through it I am sure she learned hundreds of valuable lessons to be shared, but the simple words she shared with us have stuck with both John and I.  Perhaps it is because our incredibly jovial time and it's surprising emotional and relational challenges left us with a big bundle of feelings about relationships to sort through - mostly just gratefulness, but there's always the mixture of humanity and its shortcomings - ours, there's, some strangers, accidents and no one's and what not.  The overall process left us very tender - and when friends dealt us kindly it sunk in deeper than usual - right to our cores.  When people showed up to our parties, it was the sweetest thing, they were our people and they were making it clear to us. When they took extra time to write cards, or attach cute notes to their gifts.  When their gift just showed they knew us.  It was sweet.

At the shower in her home, so many of Betty's people showed up to shower her son and new daughter-in-law with love and support.  It meant a lot to her - as it did to us - because she'd learned the lesson. She'd decided last summer that this meant when her friend had an event, she didn't make excuses.  She went.  It was more than filling a room or fulfilling a duty - it's being there.

Having grown up in such a large community, it can be hard to know who your people are - is it really all of them?  Most of them wouldn't lift a finger for you in a time of need, right?  A third of them likely don't even speak well of you when you're gone. And can you really afford to be there for all of them with true commitment?  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure I know exactly where the boundaries of my people lie.  No longer being at CCK, I definitely felt less important to some, like my lifetime there suddenly didn't matter, like it wasn't and wouldn't always be an undeniable piece of my core.  But then there are others, who didn't seem to let it change a single thing.  They loved me before.  They loved me after.  They met me for drinks before, and the same after.  They sent encouragement before - and after.  They thought of me - cared for me - watched out for me - supported me - reassured me of the goodness and blessings in my life.  They were and undoubtedly are my people.  Some of them weren't even expected, but they sought us out and told us "this wedding matters. I want to be there." Maybe not in those exact words, but something like that. They were saying, "Hey, we're your people."

To list them might cheapen it, so I won't try.  But good Lord, to be a girl who has people.  It is good, and kind, and precious and it sinks right to the heart these days.

So, be there for your people.  Because they need it.


And while I really won't try to list them, I will say this.  No one has shown this to me better than my Uncle John and Aunt Ivy.  The friendship between them and my parents constantly reminds me what it is to be a friend, a life-long friend.  To be there for your people, and their children.  My favorite part of our whole wedding may have been the moment I walked into my parent's backyard for our engagement party and saw the work of my neighborhood - all the people who'd carried over their lawn furniture, extra dishes, flowers or lanterns.  I'll never forget that feeling of being cared for and blessed by the community that watched me grow, fed me after-school snacks, sent me home to get a well-deserved spanking or let me sleep over on their living room floor for a movie night. We almost didn't have that party. I'll be grateful to Elsa and my Mom forever for encouraging us to have it - and planning and hosting it beautifully. What I would have missed. Sitting out under the stars watching a movie after almost everyone had left - just John, me, Ty, Els, Elise, Aime and my mom.  It was the neighborhood. And that short, imperfect moment, was perfect.

Monday, November 03, 2014

This is one of the most precious sites I frequent.  It's been over a month since I've taken the time to wander to Pastor Richard's blog.  I wish I'd read his post weeks ago.  I'm amazed time and again by his wisdom and the timing of his words, and their consequential impact on my life. He always brings great hope and conviction. But always, always hope.

"We sleep together not because it’s fiscally responsible, but because we are affectionate beings. Our minds need rest, but our minds also need camaraderie and intimacy and whispering. Anxiety and stress seem less intimidating when discussed with a partner while wearing pajamas. It’s important to talk about our days lying side by side, discuss children and household situations, gossip about neighbors and colleagues, plan for tomorrow in the confines of private chambers. We cuddle. We laugh. At the end of each day we remove the onerous cloaks we’ve donned to face the world, and we want to do this lying next to our best friends, to know we’re not in it alone."

- Jon Methven, Why We Sleep Together, The Atlantic

Friday, October 31, 2014

Every day I feel my young, cool self dying just a little more.  Most concerts my friends go to, I have to google. I almost always love them.  But I also am months behind the group. That's why I'm gonna indulge myself for one of my last chances to say this:

I liked her before she was cool.  Waaaay before she was cool.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

In 2006 two of my favorite new artists were T. Swift and Miss Miranda. I had pre-ordered the first of one and had a pre-released copy of the other.  I think I called it. 

Now, feel free to send me music recommendations.  Because otherwise, I may just keep listening to my Norah and Avril on repeat. :(  My days of cool are gone - this DJ will happily take requests tonight.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On Kindness [and Gaining Friends]

We get to visit Portland this weekend!!!  John will be in a good friend's wedding on Saturday and we will be staying at the home of some of John's college friends.  I'm excited about both things.  For one, the couple marrying are incredibly kind, sincere people.  When we first had them over and I was finally able to meet the soon-to-be bride, I was almost annoyed by her incredibly sweet self - beautiful person - and melodic voice.  Come on. The voice too?? And the worst part is, it's all real. She's really just the kindest person.  Not snarky at all, like someone else you might know.  :|   She just loves people and cares for others and gives thoughtful, kind responses and laughs when people make jokes and listens when they tell stories.

They are both great, and their wedding will be incredibly sweet I have no doubt.  I'm excited John will get stand up there beside him.  And having just come out of our own wedding, we're excited to more knowledgeably bless/support them than we might otherwise have done.

And as for the couple we get to stay with - I hardly know them.  I have met them once before, when John and I found ourselves an hour outside of Portland and suddenly with no place to stay.  On a whim, John texted some old friends, and they opened up their home to us.  While they made the drive over for our wedding, I didn't even get to see them on that busy day. I had been so excited when I saw their "yes" arrive in the RSVP!

I'm really looking forward to hopefully sharing a meal with this incredibly kind couple and getting to know them better - I love people who open up their homes, who intentionally create space in their home to be filled by family, friends, and friends of friends. It is kind. As is always their responses when we message and ask to crash on a weekend. They told us we have a 'home in Portland.'  These were not John's best friends mind you.  They were friends.  Maybe even good friends.  A DECADE AGO.  And yet, they tell us we always have a place at their home.  I want to be their friends. And I want to be just like them.

When we stayed there last summer, they left the kitchen door unlocked for us since we'd be in late.  They tried to keep their toddler quiet in the morning so we could sleep.  They had coffee waiting for us and saved us breakfast.  They casually sat with us, but made no demands on our time.  They sent us out with great recommendations for the town.

I love marrying a good man, who is a good friend, who has good friends.

This weekend I will be contemplating the virtue of kindness, and how to be a friend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

There is a number of design principles we take for granted.  I'm not sure they are the laws we all find them to be.  For one: 

Text should be obvious and easy to read. 

Why should I make my point bold.  In one perfect line.  Right in the middle of the page? Why should I give it to you so easy?  Why can't I make you look for it?  Why can't I reward the seeker and not placate the consumer?  Why can't I make you work? Why can't there be competition on my page when there is competition everywhere in the world.  I have a proposition: 

A page should have choices. 
Art should ask something of you.
It should incorporate your values. 

It should respect you enough to allow interpretation.

You can't learn if there wasn't an opportunity to choose other than you did.  You can't learn about yourself.  You can't learn about the art.  You can't learn about the world. 

Is it cruel to create in such a way as to allow fault, error, other than your intention? Or is it love to allow, to free your witness, your spectator, offer them back their agency. 

Last year John and I practiced a little thing called "No-Plans-November."  It felt both painful and amazing.  I don't know why we all feel like we have to say yes to things.  So many things.  But setting an imaginary rule that said we actually had to say "No" to everything was unbelievably freeing.  It was funny how many friends responded "I'm jealous" or "I wish I could do that" when we politely declined their invitations and explained our pact.  My response became, "you can."

We haven't even talked about repeating it this year.  In fact, I don't think either of us realized that November is this weekend.  But then a friend told me they couldn't make a show because they were going to be practicing "No-Plans-November."  And I got jealous.  

I'm sure you're all sick of hearing me complain about how much there is to do and how overwhelmed I am by this and by that.  You're probably thinking "Just wait until... [insert your life standing right now]..."  But for real folks, we are so done.  So very, very done.  We've been feeling past our limits for so very incredibly long.  And I know that's how we grow.  And I know that's how God stretches us.  And I know that's how He increases our capacity. But we're sooo past our capacity. And I think we're learning we need to say No. 

I like that we say yes.  In fact, it's one of my favorite things about John in particular.  And we have so much fun saying yes. We just are realizing that we have to change somehow, something, for this life to be sustainable.  We need rest. We need time to get to have fun and refuel together.  And we need to be able to feel we have accomplished and completed all that we've committed to - that our home is in order, cared for and being well-utilized; that we are being helpful, healthy employees; that we are stewarding our bodies with less stress and more exercise; that we're enjoying life and not going to look back and wonder what happened to our first couple years of marriage; that we have time for our family and close friends when they need us or just miss us; that we can share a meal and take the time to prepare it, rather than ordering take-out because it's already 9:30 by the time we get to think about dinner; that our time and energy are moving us toward our life-goals, and not just around in busy frantic circles. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

We spent our first official night out in our little home last night.  My mom and I spent most all of Saturday moving John and I into the 450sf space, eventually leveling shelving by candlelight. There is still a good deal to do to be "moved in" and a good deal more to be "moved out" of the big house. But we are so much closer. In fact yesterday was the first day in a long time that I didn't feel like there was an impossible number of things on our to-do list.  There's a final rung on this ladder after all - and the view is growing quite spectacular up here!  That's how I feel.

John woke at 5:30am on Saturday to drive to Portland for a bachelor party.  And I rose with him.  When coffee was finished and my husband drove off - I went to work on all the little things. I found myself on a ladder under the kitchen sunroof. I stopped and stared at the clouds blowing by outside, above, away from my safe cover. It was beautiful. I probably stayed a moment too long.  But I didn't mind the luxury.

I cooked the better part of our dinner in the big house.  Actually, all but the asparagus. But serving up our plates, pouring the wine, and praying over our meal at the table we will dine at again and again over the next few years - it felt sweet.  So very sweet.  And to wake this morning and look around, knowing I will look at this each new morning - it felt kind. And to turn my head and rest it on a strong, gentle chest as it breathed in and so slowly out - it felt good. So very good.

I believe I've mentioned it here in the past month or two, but I think often now of something John told me, something he read. Successful people recognize when things are going their way.  I want to notice - recognize - appreciate the good things. Life requires we recognize sad, dark, painful things every day, lately it feels constant. It's hard to find light.  It's challenging to turn the conversation to happy and meaningful, praiseworthy topics.  But I want to sit and watch as those precious happenings, people and actions float to the surface of my mind and my conversations. I want to contemplate their glow above this gloomy lake.

I woke up this morning, looked around, and felt room. I saw the glow in the dark little space we'll call home.

I'm less than I thought I was, much less. I'm poorer than I knew I was, much poorer. I'm not the wife, host, cook, friend, writer or woman I hoped to be in my 'one day' - but I look around and can't help but notice, things are going my way.  My home and husband, my new life, it is sweet, kind and good. And I get to be a part of that.

I am grateful.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

As you well know, John and I are preparing to move into what we call the "cottage" - a 450 sf converted garage grandfathered in as an ADU many years ago.  It's exciting, refreshing and frightening.  I say we are "preparing" because we currently have the cottage mostly full (about as full as I'd prefer it ever be) while also having the 3 bedroom upstairs apartment also completely full. In fact, too full.  How full?  Three couches and a chair full.  Too full.

With the help of a friend, we've made our tiny future home a little dream in many ways.  We selected our own colors, floor, counter and fixtures.  We're picking out our cabinet knobs and our fans.  We'll hang our wedding photos on the walls. And... we purchased our first couch.  Our first real, we are adults and sometimes buy things from department stores instead of Craigslist couch!! We can't wait to move in and be all settled. But between that happy ever after and now, is a lot of stuff.

I've been getting rid of boxes for the past year now, and it seems to never end.  And that is just my things, not even his half.  We will not fit.  Not as we are.  That somehow seems poetic, a tell-tale truth about our lives right now and this marriage we've just set out on. And I like that.  It only adds momentum.

My goal for 2015, and for the months that remain in 2014, is to live a simpler life. Our wedding, and so far marriage has been an incredibly humbling process.  I feel like perhaps I'm not as talented or skilled as I had thought myself.  And while it really hurt at first to discover, I'm accepting that maybe I don't need to be.  I know the coming year will be a constant learning process for me and will likely hold a few identity shifts (if not crises).  My goal is to just handle them as gracefully as I possibly can - and accept that I don't need what I once felt accustomed to have and/or be. That being said - I deleted my to-do list yesterday.  It was challenging, as I wanted very badly to keep it and prove myself by it, or at the very least judge myself by it. But instead I made myself clear that space in order to create room for a fresh start and a bit more play.

I hope to create space. 

That is my personal mission statement for 2015 and perhaps beyond.

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's a three blog day!!!  Can you recall the last time that happened? Because I can't. It's enough to make me cry.  Because I haven't had an inspiring thought in so long - something inspiring enough to make me come back here a second and a third time.  But this past week, I keep having little lines show up and stand beneath the window of my mind, shouting their playful refrains from somewhere sunny and cool and crisp.  I feel like writing.  I feel like flirting. I feel like leaving work and going home and playing tennis with my husband.  Baking a pie.

Three weeks away from this place has had a good affect on me.

I feel like heading to the ocean.  I understand why in years past, society spent time 'by the sea' when  ailed.  To be away - outside - apart.  These past two weeks, we spent so much time in a car, driving.  You begin to feel tired and cramped from sitting. Constrained.  But after it is all said and done - I feel I've drunk half of the hills of Washington. I drained a drop from the Boise river. And I rolled up the edge of Oregon, cut off a corner no one would notice, and brought it home in my sack.
What I want to do this fall:  In October (what remains), I want to watch Doctor Who episodes, eat popcorn, drink lots of chai, and read books. I want to watch movies. In November, I want to write thank you cards and drink spiked eggnog while we hide inside our fort we call a house. December, I know fall is over, and I want to try to enjoy time as it goes, try to soak in each moment and make my feet and clothes so heavy with memories that the holidays won't be able to rush as they always do. I want to take time to celebrate our birthdays in January. Plan surprises. Put paper and bows on boxes and write each other birthday cards. And after that, I'll start to get antsy.  I'll start watching for green peaking up from the ground.  I'll monitor temperatures and note every decimal as it goes up.  I'll wear warm cozy socks, hate leaving for work, and return while it's dark again.  I'll still be finishing up my 'Goals list' for the year. And while we hide inside in our warm, safe place, observing and collecting data, we'll be plotting our escape - our next escapade - another adventure - another spring.

That is what I want to do this fall.

I'm married!!

It has been wonderful.  A lot of changes, a lot of adjustments, a whole lot of emotions and a little bit of journaling even.  A lot of wonderful times with my love and now, husband.  A lot of tissue paper and presents.  A lot of laughing.  A lot of sunshine.  A lot of driving.  And now, I find myself back in the office, wiping away a lot of dust that has settled on my keyboard (literally).

Becoming someone else - losing my name - it has been frightening to me at most of the moments.  But right now it feels like a blessing, an opportunity to shed and transform yet again. I hope to make the most of this opportunity to become someone new, even as I carry about my marriage license, proving to office and bureau and agency that I am now someone new. I hope to prove it to myself too - walk into this empty new room and feel peace at all the opportunity.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We almost didn't register for wedding gifts, because we didn't want to buy into the materialism surrounding weddings.  We didn't want to invite guests as an implied exchange for gifts.

In the end, we did register. Because, we can't make it all on our own, and we didn't want our friends and family to feel it was our aim.

And can I just tell you - we are so glad we did.  Planning becomes overwhelming, and you can easily start to feel you are doing a terrible job, especially if you are two perfectionists who really love so many people and hate hurting other's feelings.  A midst those cycles of thoughts, conversations and feelings, we'll often open the door to find some box sitting on the front steps, or the chair next to the door, or right out in the middle of the front walkway like it snuck inside the gate all on its own.  It feels magical.  It feels frivolous.  Gifts just appearing at your door from all sorts of friends who have never bought you a birthday gift or a Christmas present.  And you've never before received a gift "with someone".  But here we are, us two, getting all sorts of fun surprises from all these fun people, like a three-week long scavenger hunt constantly lifting our spirits, making us laugh and dance and celebrate getting married and building a home together, and all the special people we will get to see on that life-altering day.  It's exciting.  I'm so glad we didn't skip this part of the lead-up.  We would be just fine without all the amazing serving trays and copper bar wear.  We'd still get married.  And we'd still have dishes and forks and glasses like we do now.  But this process and lead up - we wouldn't have that - this increasing excitement, ongoing celebration of not just our decision, but our community, we might have missed.  It's such a blessing you guys.

And it isn't only the gifts - last night, our friend Erik brought over his amazing new girlfriend, and they helped us with house chores for an evening and ate pizza and drinks with us around a messy table. This girl I've spoken two twice before, grabbed a paint brush and sat beside me for hours laboring on my new home.

Last week, my life-long best friend Elise picked me up at my house at 5something AM, with a homemade latte and drove me to the floral shop, where I wandered and strove to make decisions for hours.  She then dropped me off at work and invited herself back over to the house to help in a few more nights.  She helped cut runners, make decisions, sort through the missing details, and encourage me.

Two mornings ago I had a voicemail.  Aunt Linda, my neighbor for the past 20 some years, my elementary teacher at times, one of my best friend's mom's, eventually one of my friends had just called to tell me how she felt about me, to express her excitement and encouragement, and to let me know she was praying.  "No need to call back."  The voicemail lifted me up that day as I worked through another painful day in the office.

Esther dropped me a beautiful card in the mail that I love! My sisters have both written cards, sent emails, texts and calls. Elsa spent a morning with me touring the venue and dreaming about decor.  Her and Ty threw us an amazing party along with my parents, and the whole neighborhood it seemed. My parents painted for hours, unbeknownst to John and I at premarriage.

My mom has come back many times, laboring for hours and hours on our home and yard, running errands trying to get everything ready for the wedding and family visitors.

Today, I feel incredibly blessed by these people. I'm so happy they will be with us on our wedding day. I'm just so blessed by each of their gifts.

Thank you.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mallory MacDonald Photography

Let's continue the 'wonderful' woman crush posts - shall we? This lady. There is no one like her. Her grace, humor, kindness set her apart among the women of our generation. And her skill at noticing and capturing the unique qualities and personality of a child, a family, or a moment define her. Love this woman. And I could not be more grateful to have her as a part of our wedding.

Go vote for Mallory, nominated for King 5's Best of the Northwest Photographers!

Are you kidding me!?

A worthy woman crush if ever there were....


All About That [Upright] Bass - Jazz Meghan Trainor Cover ft. Kate Davis

Monday, September 15, 2014

My mom is far better than I deserve. 

I am pretty sure she has been at my house this morning since 9:30am, with a shovel, leveling dirt, fixing water drainage problems, and laying out bricks to make a beautiful walkway.  Just like she was until after dark yesterday. And Friday, painting. With my dad.  While John and I were gone...

And in return, I am typically too short and too impatient with her. As John often says, she is probably one of the most patient, and hard working people we know.  As I said, my mom is far better than I deserve.  I'm really grateful for that.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today is a great day.  I am going to take a lunch.  I cleaned my desk.  I cleaned and organized the print station.  I have time to work on long-term work tasks.  The skies are cool blue.  I have tomorrow off.  I googled how many days until my wedding (24).  I used the calculator to find out how old I am again (27).  A pleasant surprise, since I've been walking around as a 28 year old lately.  I still have 2 years and 3 months to knock off my "Before 30 Goals."  It's fall, so of course I'm thinking about goals.  I can't really remember any of my before 30 goals except to buy a house.  Which I guess John already took care of for me? Not really sure if it counts.  I don't feel the sense of accomplishment.  But maybe that's part of it.  It goes hand in hand with a lot I have been learning  - or rather - am trying to learn.  Like being less independent and overpowering.  Learning to respond with "Perhaps, but here's why I'd rather not" rather than with "No" and an intense expression.  Learning to be okay with not feeling that sense of accomplishment.  Being okay with sometimes just needing someone else to help. Being okay with others needing help too.

We're reading through a marriage book right now and I found myself in the chapter entitled "Loving the Stranger."  The author discusses the season in every new marriage when you lose the glasses and see all the flaws in your spouse.  The "honeymoon" phase is over and you find yourself wondering "Who is this person? This isn't who I married."  This will probably happen to John and I, and it will come as an absolute surprise, because right now we both really feel like we're pretty aware of each other's flaws.  At least the little ones that tend to drive you mad about each other. And a lot of the big ones too.  This didn't strike me much in the chapter, but what did was how the author talked about those changes.  He said, you change.  You are one person.  Then you become another person.  Marriage changes you.  Babies change you.  New careers change you.

It shouldn't be so shocking to me, but it was.  For the past two years, I've been telling John how I just don't feel like myself.  I even started a private blog where I began writing just for me, hoping to remember myself.  It could sound humorous, but it's actually kind of a frightening feeling.  Not feeling you for so long.  At times it made me worry that I shouldn't be in this relationship - like maybe I couldn't "be me" - though I knew it wasn't anything John was doing.  Never before have I had such an amazing friend who allowed me to be myself and encouraged and forgave and listened and loved.  It couldn't be him.  It had to be work.  Or all the other changes.  As I've likely said here before, we came to realize that in a matter of months, I'd moved out, changed jobs, entered my first committed relationship and grown a year older.  It was a lot of change at once.

I've been waiting ever since for me to remember me, somehow fall back into stride with myself, or crawl my way back to that ease and internal sense of self. And that is what struck me yesterday as I read.  I won't.  I've changed.  It's not about waiting or finding. I'm just the person I am now. I'm not as kind.  I complain more.  I'm really strong though, until I'm not.  In fact, I'm much more strong and consistent, I don't let things shake my emotions. I don't work out a lot.  I have a hard time waking up early, but when I do, I find I still love it.  I like porters and not really blue moon. I sometimes drink my coffee black and actually like it.  I order vanilla lattes. On hot summer days, I love to sip cold gin and often choose it over whiskey at a bar. If I have more than two drinks, I'll know it. I get angry if I spend a whole night with a group of friends and come home feeling as far if not further away from them. I don't keep my room clean.  I love gardening.  I can even put up with seeing a few spiders out in it without tossing in my gloves and going inside.  I have chickens.  I freaking love my chickens. I don't know if I want to be in marketing.  I hate saying something I don't believe is true. If I do say something, I hate saying it weak or unconvincingly. I cuss sometimes.  I rarely ever write.

This isn't who I was.  But I just realized, it is who I am. I get to choose to change, but who I am right now is really who I am.  And that will always be true.

Yesterday, I made a choice toward one single change.  And I'm going to make it again today.  And hopefully one day I won't complain much.  And I'll be kinder.  I'll be gentle again.  I'll respond openly.  I'll laugh more. I'll drop this new habit of cussing.  I'll put my clothes away and not toss them on the floor.

Marriage is going to change me.  Our tiny house will have to change me.  And a dozen other things along the way will change me.  I won't be the same person I am today.  I will be a new me.  And hopefully a better one.

Friday, August 29, 2014

That ain't no way to treat a lady.

I almost turned this song off I was so annoyed by all the tropes - then I started listening to the actual words. I am sorry, but this is currently my favorite song. Give it at least 3 minutes.

 I am so freaking sick of Country music! My how an overwhelming wave of dumbass lyrics and frat-themes have managed to completely turn me off to one of my favorite things.  "Conway and George Strait never did it that way" - that about sums it up.  That being said, I still keep listening, just waiting for that sparse melody that's about something more than getting a girls name, a tailgate, or a good night.

Tell me a story like you used to. Use real words.


As an addendum to this message:  I still love Miranda.
Have since Uncle Billy handed me her first album. :)

The three day weekend is nearly here.  And I think I over-packed.  But if we can make it to Saturday night  -  I think we'll be okay!  And the best part is, we'll still have 2 more days to rest and accomplish much!!

We're 37 days out folks. Our renovation should be done in the next week.  Our invitations should be in the mail tomorrow.  My sister's things will be picked up by the movers tomorrow and driven to Cali. Flowers for the wedding will be ordered tomorrow. Tomorrow is a big day.  And tonight is full of work to get there.  Here we go weekend!! But first, Friday.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

When I see people who seem to have their priorities in order, it shakes me out of this weird frantic haze.  I don't come across them all too often.  Not that I'm trying to judge anyone's priorities, I'm referring to whether the people themselves seem to feel they have them in control - getting to spend time where they want to - making time for what's important - finding the moment and enjoying it.  Maybe no one actually feels confidently about this - but I see some and think they've certainly got it down better than we do so far. And it inspires me.  

Especially in this moment, when I look at the calendar and see that Beau and I are over halfway through our engagement.  I see a to-do list that's growing faster than we can possibly mark things off of it, and work is far too hectic this summer and my interest too small. And our chickens are trying to kill each other (literally). And they're digging all the dirt out of all of my gardens and picking the plants to death.  And the grass keeps getting long way too fast. And our neighbor (from down the street!) likes to rant about our hedge being too wide. 

And we're halfway through our engagement, and we've barely even had a moment to enjoy it! Two nights ago we had completed out engagement photos and were sitting down at the restaurant where we had our first date.  Our server asked if we were the two who'd been getting photos taken outside, and then offered us a little prosecco to celebrate.  After a moments discussion, we took her up on it.  It was the first time we had sat and sipped champagne to celebrate our engagement.  We just enjoyed the rest of the night - letting ourselves relish it.  And I want to keep doing that.  I want to find how to do that for every day we have left --- even while we knock off the items on our list.  

And some people seem to manage this. They bring their children to concerts in the park and pack delicious picnics for their family and friends.  And they spend the evening, right in the middle of their busy week, sitting on a blanket for 4 hours enjoying the moment. These people inspire me. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

12 Hours

I slept for over 12 hours last night - yes, on a weeknight.

I understand this is a gift.

I also woke up to a sweet boyfriend asleep on his couch, because I'd fallen asleep around 6:30 and had laid down on his bed rather than going out to my own bed. It went from "laying down for a bit" to "nap" to "goodnight" I guess.  He didn't wake me up to move.  He is a great man.

I also woke up entirely in my work clothes from the previous day, blouse and all.

I think I've been tired.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I will never again.

I know they tell you not to use those words, but I think it's safe in this instance to say.  I will never again:

  • Plan a wedding
  • Be in the first year of owning a(n older) home 
  • Work a crazy stressful/demanding more than full-time job
  • Work a second, weekend job (because, hey, it'll be fun! shut up, Kati.)
  • Play on a weekly rec soccer team.
  • Buy four, unconventional pets I've never owned before.
  • Have said, older home with three units (that's three kitchens, three bathrooms, two water heaters, two roofs, etc.)

On top of the rest of life things, like family members in the ER and moving a sister and flying to John's hometown for a memorial service and family reunion all in a week...

I will never again do all of these things - at the same time. 

Never again.

[But if I had to do it again, I'd pick John to be my partner again.]

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stretch Goals

Back again to dream...

My 'house on the hill' since I was little.
In 2012, John and I got to wander through it while vacant.

Just imagine waking up there - with a view of the water and the mountains... fresh eggs for breakfast (like an hour fresh thanks to Moe, Munk, Maxene and Mabel), amazing local coffee (queue John).

Imagine cocktails and intimate live performances in the evenings.  Imagine "Holiday Inn" in real life.

This is my current dream.  It's been brewing for a while in little individual desires.  I could be administrative, relational, artistic and have flexibility. It could be a place for reunion, rest, and reconciliation. We could have chickens and a garden - and spend mornings there. We could serve people on their best days - and provide a roof for them on their worst.  We could bring people together.
Seriously - I think this is my dream, it's where so many of mine and John's dreams and goals come together - and a place where I could collect the stories I care about most, real people's stories.

So here's my new stretch goal - and perhaps a reason to press through a difficult job - and to save pennies.

Crazy Town

Day Two of Crazy commences now.

But first, I'm giving myself FIVE minutes - and I'm spending those five minutes here, with you.

I've been spending some time trying to figure out what I'd love to do - what I want to be working toward - you know, my 'dream career.'  I don't know that it's the same it's always been...  or maybe it is.  I want to write. But I don't want to keep filling the world up with more words.... the internet has crowded us all with words.  (Irony here...now)

I also want to make something - contribute with my hands and body.

I also love relationships - and hosting.

I especially love breakfast.

I love creating beauty.

I've loved a certain house on a hill since I was a little girl.

And had a fascination with old brick mansions too...

Which leads me to my current dream.

I really want to buy a mansion.  And open up a B&B.

I asked John if our next house could be a mansion --- he said, "Everyone needs a stretch goal."

But back to work -- as another project just got set in my lap --- deadline to client 1pm today.

Yesterday was just over 15 hours.... I'm aiming for only 12 today.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hey there friends!  It's been a couple weeks hasn't it?  I don't have much time to chat today.  I suddenly have two weeks of work to accomplish in the next two days.  Not sure how I'm going to swing that.  But, I'm going to try.  It's 7:45 and I've been here at my desk for nearly an hour.  Already watered the flowers, woke up my girls and changed out their water and food.  First meeting starts in 60 minutes.

Truth be told, I keep pushing an anxious nausea away. What I have to accomplish is maybe not possible.  And certainly will not be healthy if I do pull it off.  

However, as soon as I push that anxious thought away, I find another waiting patiently right behind it.   John.  I came home yesterday to find he was already there.  The front door and back doors open - his shoes on the patio - my man was in the back yard feeding our girls 'a treat.'  My heart melted.  I ran out a few minutes later for a girls night, said goodbye to him as he began the dishes.  And I came home hours later to find him well into moving everything out of our "workshop" and into our office - reorganizing, cleaning, taking care of so many things on our long list of to-do's for the week - creating a guest room. We spent the next several hours of the night cleaning, moving, folding. I'm so glad I get to work beside and with this man for the rest of my life. I'm glad that when I face impossible tasks - successful or not - I get to find him at the end of the day. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

About damn time there's a study that gives some potential perks to those of us holding onto our little baby beans longer than the rest.... can I hear an amen?

Wait.  This might not be saying as happy of things as I first imagined.  [Stupid misleading marketing.]

You waited to have children?  You are hearby awarded no points and you don't get a second car in this game of life.  Return to your desk.


But really, I'm at my desk.... obviously, for too long based off of the liberality and candor of this post.

Also, seriously, how unrealistic is that game of life? Can we talk about that? Because really, those of us who stick around at work and have no babies are WAAAY more likely to have a second car and faaaar less likely to have need of it....

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Beautiful Game

Tonight is (my) first blueberries game of the season. I've been thinking a lot about soccer. Me and the world have, you know with that whole "World Cup" thing happening right now.  So I've been thinking on this sport that my dad put me in shortly after I could walk. Thinking of all the years I played and what they were worth.  Thinking of the season I had to pull out early and how I assumed that would have to be the end for me.  You take off 6 months and you come back out of shape, out of practice, out of confidence.  That's not the recipe for moving up in the premier world.  But somehow I came back with something else, I wasn't over-thinking it.  And due to a number of other details out of my control - what should have been my scariest, worst tryout - was my best.  I knew no one.  I hadn't been competing.  I was trying out for the same league that I'd pulled out of early last year. What were the odds? Low. I moved up.  I became a part of what would be my favorite team.

But what is the point of all those years?  What's the point that I didn't quit playing soccer in 10th grade? Well, I'm engaged to a guy I met on a co-rec soccer team.  And who knows, maybe I'd still have joined it if I quit back in 10th grade.  Then again, maybe not.  It's just delightful to me to look back and see that this thing that became a part of my life so early on - introduced me to the guy with whom I'll be spending the rest of my days.

I can't just leave it at that though - because I don't think the guy is the end goal of it all.  I don't believe who you spend your days with is more important than who you become - before them - with them - maybe even after them. This sport also crafted deep parts of who I am, taught discipline to my stubbornness and teamwork to my strength.  Taught me that sometimes it pays to sprint the field and be the only one down there by the goal.... but more often, it pays to wait for a good teammate to join you. Your glory might be less, but your score will most likely be higher.  There's nothing better than a good teammate that you don't have to see to know they're running the opposite sideline and setting up for you - nothing better than creating something beautiful with someone you trust.  That's what soccer taught me.  And perhaps it's fair to say, that's what soccer brought me.

I'm glad I didn't quit the berries that first season. That's another thing soccer taught me, part of that disciple and stubbornness. Don't quit.

I'd never have met that guy making dollar bill rings with Chris.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

I feel suuuper sick and reeeaaalllly tired today. But I suddenly realized that today, is a great day!!

USA plays their first 2014 world cup match today.

And it's 111 days until I marry John.

That's fun!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

"It all adds up to what can be a remarkable life, if we’ll but learn that it’s less about what we’re doing, and more about the attitude with which we’re doing it. Lives of faith, I’m discovering, can be rich even in poverty. Vibrant even in the midst of health challenges. Lush even in the desert. I know. I watched this kind of normal, in this slightly “out of the way” town, for decades.

I just preached this past Sunday on the importance of making the most of “the time we’ve been given” and I’m sitting here realizing that I lived in a family that, for all flaws, sought precisely that. I’m just now reading Ecclesiastes and am reminded that it’s only in jumping into the deep end of both joy and sorrow, responsibility and goofing off, life and death, that we find the treasure called abundant life. That’s why Rilke said:

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Keep going, no matter what. No sensation is too far out. Let nothing separate you from me….the land which they call ‘life’ is near. You will recognize it by it’s serious demands. Give me your hand!”

- Pastor Richard Dahlstrom 

I've been writing here for 9 years, recording events and thoughts and memories. Collecting.

This is the only place where I'm the dozen girls all at once - the dozen me's I've been over the past decade, changing and then changing again. Waking up to meet someone new.

I started this blog soon after my first real heart break, a couple years after I got my braces off, during my first year not living at home, the year I graduated high school, months before I started college.  Before marketing at UIE, Starbucks, Linville, Weaver and LMN.  Before any of my classmates and childhood friends married or had kids or had second kids or bought houses.  Before I could buy whiskey. Before I stopped getting french manicures. Before I fell in love with Keats. Before I bought the Toddler. Before I gave Todd a hampster for Christmas because I thought it would be funny. Before I smuggled a book in my dress under my graduation gown. Before I ever went to Vegas.  Before I went to Vegas again. Before I stayed with Kim in Nashville for over a month. Before I applied for the Cambridge Gates Trust.  Before I received the news that I was not awarded the scholarship. Before I was a backup dancer for a tween christian hip hop artist? Before I got a concussion on a sail boat. Before Sparks wrote lame books. Before The Office. Before the Blueberries.  Before Beau. Before moving out on my own. Before I pierced my nose. Before my childhood dog died. Before a dozen other goodbyes.

I think I just knew that paths were parting in my soul and all around me and the only way I'd be able to get back or make sense of it was to start collecting tiny pieces in long run-on sentences. I'd begun to learn the painful lesson that many, many people will be happy to tell you who you are and who you've been - and many of them will not be true - though they don't mean to tell you lies. And more dangerous still, those who knew you may forget you.  And if they can so quickly forget what is true, perhaps a person can as easily forget themself too.

Many things have changed.  And some things have not.

First post in 2005.

A couple hours before getting engaged in 2014

[Thanks for the pin, Jess.] 

Monday, June 02, 2014

Life is Good

Life is good, and I am grateful.

I seem to be hearing the same sentiment all around me lately.  Life is not perfect.  It isn't exactly "comfortable" most of the time.  And it could never get mistaken as "easy" - but, life is good.  And I think if we can learn to feel comfortable in ourselves amidst all of its surprises, irritants and discomforts, we'll be able to see and enjoy all of its pleasures, joys and gifts.

One of our favorite things lately is making our first cup of morning coffee and sitting out on the lawn with our "girls" - letting them wander around exploring and pecking.  I also have this constant hankering to sit on the front porch in the evenings.  We don't really even have a front porch.  We have front steps, and a concrete landing just big enough for us to fit two old ikea dining chairs beside the door. And I love it.  We leave the front door wide open despite the flies and bees it kindly invites into the main house, we crank up my dad's old record player we had repaired and we sip on something strong.

Work is crazy.  My body seems to have some old grudge against me. The house has a few dozen projects that need attention (not to mention flies).  We're planning a wedding on the fast track. And we're working on growing together. It's stressful and demanding. But it's also fun, when I take the time to remember.

Life is good. And inside these moments, I find comfort.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Renewed Mind is Key - Single Ladies

Thank you, Chris Moody.

For your Friday viewing pleasure, please enjoy this excellent remake of The Renewed Mind is Key. ;)

10 Life Lessons From a Navy Seal - Lesson #9

"The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and—one special day at the Mud Flats—the Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.

As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.

One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well. The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted.

And somehow—the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away. 

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.

 #9. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud."  

Source: 10 Life Lessons From a Navy SEAL

The sun is soaking into my skin and I can't help but crave a little country, some cut offs, sweet tea and a long flat drive. I'd thought perhaps I was over country music, maybe it had all gone flat - thought maybe Beau had gotten to my music taste, drugged me with a distaste.


That loves still going strong, it was just waiting for a warm ray and a new worthwhile song to make my foot start swinging.

And I'll win Beau over, if it's the last thing I do.  The man's from Boise and loves a cold bud light, mountain biking and girls who bake him homemade pies.  But he hates country and called the first ball cap I saw him wear a "costume."  This guy.  All I can do is continue to spam his Spotify inbox.  :)

I'm itch'n for the 75 degree weekend - 7 hours and counting.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Theme

Since returning from Omaha, I've been struggling to settle back into life.  I came away from a weekend in which the man I've been building with for the past two years, asked me to continue the journey for however many more we are lucky to be given.  And I wholeheartedly told him I liked that plan. A weekend that included not only the greatest joys, but some of the biggest, realest fear I've encountered in a couple years - being told a tornado is coming our direction.  My hands shaking and John whispering reassurance and confidence into my ear about the future and hope we have, as he holds the shaking hand with his ring. The following morning I made breakfast with and sat at the table just us two, with a woman I could legally call "Grandma" soon, a woman who will be my children's great-grandma.  Her legacy will be part of mine, and mine hers.  That's the first time I've ever had that opportunity - setting a table with Grandma. She bought us matching aprons.

Then, I came home and back to work and the overwhelming majority of people just wanted me to do my job.  They didn't even care there was a new ring on my finger or awakened look on my face.  I've been numb and cold for such a long time, and after one weekend, and a very important and challenging week that lead to it, I had changed.

Within a day or two I felt an extreme sadness weighing heavily on me at work.  I spent much of last week at work fighting it with all the tools I knew how.  I don't want it. I don't want that numb feeling to creep back over me.  I'm recognizing some things.  And as the week rolled to an end, I started stumbling across a number of articles and events with a similar theme.

I don't want success more than life. 
John is my business partner and I couldn't choose a better one. 
I want to live a remarkable life. 
I have to live out a calling or I'm going to go numb. 
I need to work for people I admire, not just a purpose I respect.

I just might have to step out of the game for a while, and it will likely cost me "success".

The Fresh Exchange: 

There is beauty in the process. It’s a beauty that I continually try hard to remind myself to stop to take in. Too often I get caught up in climbing to the next peak or trying to be better than I was last time or constantly needing to perfect the process. There is nothing wrong,however, with being someone who loves to climb higher and expect better from themselves. Recently, I have learned that as great as that feeling of achievement is, there is also an even better feeling with being content within the process of where we are now. If you are like me at all, you constantly feel the weight of that ever looming finish line.  Lately I am realizing how important it is to take in the moment of where we are in work, life, dreams, and the in-between.

My Pastor, Richard Dahlstrom’s Blog:

(this new blog address reflects my profound belief that our lives are journeys of transformation, and that there’s always a step we can take towards wholeness – my upcoming sabbatical was the catalyst for the change, as you see here…)

If success is a mountain, I’m an accidental climber.
Has it ever happened to you?  You’ve been working hard for goals you believe in for a long time.  You’ve sacrificed and said no to trinkets so that you could focus on the gold of your goal.  It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened.  You took initial step into the unknown of a new job, or that visionary idea into a deeper realm of committing to it and the universe rewarded with you success.  The business grew.  You were promoted.  The publisher said yes.
It feels good and so you stay on the path a little longer and you continue to get a few more responsibilities.  All the while, there are other areas of life, and these too are growing.  You’re a spouse now, maybe, or a parent, or you have a loan for a house and are slowly filling it with stuff.  Your hard drive’s filling up with pictures of kids at Christmas, Little League, Prom night.  It’s not perfect.  There are bumps along the way, but you’re still getting more responsibilities.  The business is gaining new market share.  Investments are doing their job.  It’s all paying off.
Days become decades, quickly.  Now there’s money in the bank, and when the car breaks you don’t worry about whether you can afford to get it fixed.  You eat out a bit more, maybe a lot more.  Others, looking in on your life from the outside, are a little envious, or maybe resentful.  That’s because you’ve become what our culture tells us is most important; you’ve become “successful”.   You just kept walking, step by step, and it happened that you eventually found yourself high up on the slope with your own measure of fame, or influence, or upward mobility, looking down on the lights below.  You wonder how you got there, pausing to look around for a moment.
You look around, once you have a little time to catch your breath, but nothing looks familiar.  You’re not sure where you are anymore.  You thought this was the right path because back down there along the way, everyone applauded and affirmed every step you took – college degree, corporate job, promotion, partner, consultant, marriage, kids, cross fit, commute.  The world’s filled with cheerleaders ready to affirm or punish every step of the way so that the well trodden mountain becomes your mountain too.  You went, almost without questioning.   And then comes a moment when you know it’s time to rest and recalibrate.
Just such a moment came my way last summer.   I’d come home from  two packed months of speaking at conferences on both coasts and in Europe, ending this season with a cross country flight on a Friday night.  At eight the next morning I joined with other staff members of the church I lead for a four hour morning of round-robin interviews with several candidates for a single staff position.  These were finished and I was having lunch with one of the candidates when my phone rang.  “Germany?” I said to myself, seeing the +49 country code.  Because I have a daughter there, I picked up.
“Kristi! Good to hear from you…”
Silence.   And then, “Richard it’s Peter.”
“Peter.  I thought you were Kristi.  Listen, I’ll call you back, I’m right in the middle of…”
“Nope.  I need to chat now, for a just a minute or two.”  I walk away from the outdoor table just as the waiter brings my food.  I’m sitting in the glorious Seattle sunshine by the front door of the restaurant when he says, “Hans Peter died today paragliding in the Alps.  They found his body early this evening.  I’ll let you know more when I know the time of the funeral.”  After a silent moment Peter says,  “I know.  Stunning.”  We chat a moment before I hang up the phone and finish the perfunctory interview, wondering why the world hasn’t stopped for everyone else on this outdoor patio, because God knows its collapsed for me.  I can’t eat, can’t throw up, though I want to.    Then I go going home and sit in the sun that set hours ago in Austria, sinking behind the Alps and leaving a family I love reeling in darkness.
One of my best friends is dead.   We’d skied the Alps together, snowshoed the Cascades east of  Seattle, and ridden bikes amongst monuments of Washington DC.  We’d rejoiced and agonized over our kids.  We’d argued theology and commiserated about leadership.   Even though we were separated by 6,000 miles or so, he was one of my best friends.   And now he’s gone.   The next day I broke down while telling my congregation, but on Monday there was an important retreat to lead for my marvelous staff.  It would be filled with laughter and adventures, and  I just kept pushing, because there was always another thing to do just around the corner.  The retreat ended and I sat in a stream and talked at a camera for video that needed making.  Then home, then studying for Sunday, then preaching three times.
After that I collapsed.  There was a day or two when the thought of getting out of bed to make a little coffee was overwhelming, let alone actually doing my job.   It was time for a sabbatical, a break from the normal routine in order to restore.  I knew I needed it.
Sabbaticals are for pastors, what fallow land is for a farm.  God invoked farmers to let the land rest every seven years, as a remembrance that God’s the provider, and as a gift of restoration for both the land and the farmer!  It’s important for the health of everyone: the pastor and the church, the farmer and the land.  It was time.
When you’re young, nobody tells you about the dangers of success. It’s like a disco ball, high up there on the ceiling in the center of the room, and all the lights of everyone’s ambitions are shining on it, so that its beauty is magnified as it reflects the collective pursuits of greatness back to everyone in room with sparkle, as if to say, “this is what it’s all about”.  You want it to shine on you too.  We call it lots of things, depending on our profession.  We want to build great teams, provide service second to none, create a product everyone needs, cure cancer, end human trafficking, write the song, get the corner office, get into Sundance, make the NY Times Bestseller List, raise amazing kids, find true love.  Let’s face it, there’s a gold medal in every area of life.  Maybe this isn’t a bad thing.  After all, we all need a reason to get up in the morning.  We want our lights to shine.  We want significance.  I get it.
Conventional Wisdom, or disguises dressed as the same, capitalize on these longings for success.  That’s what seminars are for, and books about losing 100 pounds, or running marathons, or creating a marketing strategy.  There is an entire “pursuit of success” industry precisely because we believing that going after it is the right thing to do, and maybe it is.
I’d always thought I wasn’t in that camp.  In a world of big, I’d made my living running a church in my living room, and teaching at tiny Bible schools around the world several weeks a year.  In a world of urban, I was living with my wife and three children in a place where the phone book was a single sheet of paper.  We were rural, small, subsistence.  There were resource challenges at times, but even though we lived below the poverty line, we slept under the stars on clear nights, camped in old fire lookouts where Jack Keroak  spent his summers, and enjoyed tiny staff meetings around the kitchen table.  It was hard work, and frugal, lacking notoriety, but life giving.
That was nearly twenty years ago.  Between then and now, I’ve been privileged to pastor what I believe to be one of the great churches, in one of the great cities of the world.  Grace infuses our life together as we try to focus more on how Jesus unites us than how lesser issues divide.  There’s joy and laughter, there’s brokenness and healing.  It’s far from perfect.  But I’ve been thrilled and honored to carry the torch for this season.   In order to restore creativity and vision, though, I knew it was time, not for something different, but for a pause.
I asked my board for three months off, so that I could get off the treadmill, get my bearings, and return, with a sense of refreshment, and  a re-calibrated soul, better able to serve, lead, and discern the signs.
I’ve been intrigued with the notion of pilgrimage for my sabbatical time, trying to learn what it means to walk with God by literally walking… for 40-45 days, through the high Alps.  My intent is to move away for three months:  out of speed and into slow, out of complexity and into simplicity, out of comfort and into suffering, out of certainty and into dependency.  The convergence of my weariness born from success, and the death of my friend pointed me towards the path of getting out from behind my books, and desk, and out of my car, putting one foot in front of the other for 400 miles.
Lessons will be learned through preparation and travel about suffering, traveling light, encounter, endurance, beauty, hospitality, and much more.   And while the original thought was to travel the Pacific Crest trail from the Canadian border south into Oregon, or from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Shasta, the death of my Austrian friend left a teaching hole for this summer that I’m qualified to fill, so I’ll teach the last week of their program and then my wife and I will begin in Northern Italy, head up through Austria into Germany, then west before dropping down and finishing our trek in Switzerland with friends.
I’ll post what we’re experiencing and learning here as I’m able, so I hope you’ll join us!

Departure: July 23rd  Return:  October 23rd – Here’s a Sabbatical Video  that will answer more questions.