May, 2011

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Two things you should know

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

1) My weekend furniture project is… still in progress.  But hopeful – mighty, mighty hopeful.

2) I’m going to do something different in June.  See you back here on the blog on Friday, July 1st.

Yaaaaaaycation

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Memorial Day weekend.  Aren’t you so glad?

My very long hair is currently twisted into two tight French braids, which I will release tomorrow into a crazy mane.

I am heading to Home Depot tonight to get the supplies to refinish some bedroom furniture.  If it turns out well, expect a celebratory picture post.  If it doesn’t, forget I ever said anything.

Other plans this weekend include several hikes, making Monika’s spinach zucchini pancakes, and reading Shania’s autobiography (naturally).

Care to share your holiday weekend plans?

Heroes and imperfections

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

I promise to not make this blog into one never-ending series called “What I’m Reading – and So Should You!”  But – sue me, people – I’m reading a lot right now.  And unless you want to hear about my dream last night (I killed a wild hog), then thank your lucky stars that it’s a post about a book.

At the suggestion of my cutie friend Carrie Cohen (SHOUT OUT), I’m currently reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein.  The narrator (who happens to be a dog – stay with me) gives an account of the family that he lives with, all the while waxing poetic about life, philosophy, and race car driving – which he has learned a great deal about from his master.  Maybe it’s a silly idea, allowing a dog to narrate, but so far, it’s a fun shift of perspective.

Here’s one of my favorite passages – and yes, this is the dog thinking:

“The true hero is flawed.  The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles – preferably of his own making – in order to triumph.  A hero without a flaw is of no interest to an audience or to the universe, which, after all, is based on conflict and opposition, the irresistible force meeting the unmovable object.  Which is also why Michael Schumacher, clearly one of the most gifted Formula One drivers of all time, winner of more races, winner of more championships, holder of more pole positions than any other driver in Formula One history, is often left off of the race fan’s list of favorite champions.  He is unlike Ayrton Senna, who often employed the same devious and daring tactics as Schumacher, but did so with a wink and therefore was called charismatic and emotional rather than what they call Schumacher: remote and unapproachable.  Schumacher has no flaws.  He has the best car, the best-financed team, the best tires, the most skill.  Who can rejoice in his wins?  The sun rises every day.  What is to love?  Lock the sun in a box.  Force the sun to overcome adversity in order to rise.  Then we will cheer!”

Hilarious that Stein attributes thoughts like these to a mere mongrel of a dog – but also, a little bit poignant.  Because if we’re honest, even – and maybe especially – in our simplest moments, don’t we feel the exact same way?

Perfection is boring – and so it’s interesting to me that we often expect the people around us to be perfect.  Why do we insist on something other than just real life with others?  If we’re honest, wouldn’t we rather experience someone’s flaws – with the hope and expectation that they just might triumph over their shortcomings?  Wouldn’t we love to be a part of that?

Wouldn’t we love for others to give us that chance?

Wouldn’t we love to give ourselves that chance?

Confession

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

If you think I won’t be reading this, well.  You just don’t know me very well at all, now, do you?

“So All May Eat”

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Last month, I attended TedxMileHigh, which was monumentally perspective shifting.  If you ever have a chance to go to a TED conference, go go go.

One of the speakers was Libby Birky, co-founder of the SAME Café, Denver’s first pay-what-you-can restaurant.  Ever since hearing about it, I’d been wanting to check it out – so yesterday, my co-worker Gina and I dropped in for lunch.

Driven by the desire to see everyone treated with dignity, regardless of their ability to pay, the SAME Café encourages patrons to leave a donation that seems fair to them, or to exchange an hour of work for their meal.  Their menu changes daily, based on whatever organic ingredients are in season.  The food is fresh and made from scratch, and the customers range from professionals to the homeless.  Everyone eats together in the same room.  It’s a beautiful concept, and the food was delicious (homemade pizza crust?  YES).

If you live in Denver, consider supporting the SAME Café.  It’s on the north side of Colfax (or “the Fax,” as I like to call it) between Race and Vine.  You’ll eat well, and you just might have a conversation about broccoli salad with a man whose life looks very, very different from your own.

Why I love “The Biggest Loser”

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

I mean, you guys.  Have you been watching?

I caught up last night, and had tears rolling down my face.

This is the greatest show.

I love that the contestant’s weight loss is something that they cannot fake – you watch their physical transformation over the period of 4 months, and no amount of special effects or movie magic could make someone who was once 400 lbs into someone who is 246 lbs.  They work so hard, day after day, doing exercises that would be tough enough for someone who is already in shape – it’s inspiring and heroic and challenging to me.

But even more than the weight loss, you get a glimpse of the heart change happening in these people.  You get the sense that their obesity is merely a symptom of what’s going on inside – and that the physical transformation begins to lead to heart transformation.  Where there once was self-hatred, there is healthy self-belief.  Where there once was victim mentality, there is empowerment.  Where there once was despair, there is now fervent, passionate hope.

The season finale is next Tuesday, and I will be watching.  Team Purple all the way, although if I had to choose, my vote is for Nashville girl Hannah Curlee.  What a sweet spirit – an underdog who has undergone such a complete emotional metamorphosis, not to mention the fact that she looks AMAZING.

A smattering of recents

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Since our last rendezvous, some things have happened.

1) BOOKS
When it comes to books these days, I am insatiable.

I absolutely devoured “The Hunger Games.”  This series is all the rage, and I know that a lot of you have read them.  No spoilers here, except to say that I have not enjoyed a story so much in years.  For the 8 days it took me to read all three volumes, I was nothing short of obsessed.

Just before “The Hunger Games,” I read “The Help.”  Loved it.  And I typically don’t feel this way after reading a grew book, but I’m so glad they’re making a movie, too.  When you love characters so much, you can’t help but want to see them in action.

Now, I’m reading “Ape House” by Sara Gruen, author of “Water for Elephants” (which I loved).  I’m about halfway through, and it’s so luxurious to have a book that you can’t wait to read every night.

To this day, I am the only person I know who has read “Beatrice and Virgil.”  If anyone out there has read it and wants to help a soul feel better about life, will you please tell me?  I can’t be alone with the burden of this book any longer.

2) DETROIT
I spent this past weekend in Detroit with newlyweds Matt & Julie.  Never you mind that they’ve only been married for three weeks – when they found out I was going through a hard time, they called and told me to come.  A few days later, I was there – and it was exactly what my heart needed.

What a gift to have friends who remind you of what is true about yourself, and to help you remember that it’s not really all about you anyway.

3) TOAD
The vet amputated the Toad’s leg.

Oh yes.  I guess have not mentioned it here yet, but a week ago today, our sweet dog Kodi (remember her?) was diagnosed with bone cancer.  Amputation was the best form of pain management.  So on Friday, the doctor CUT OFF HER LEG.

I swear, medicine these days.

She’s home now, and wearing a t-shirt to help protect the most gnarly incision I’ve ever seen.  She will never high-five again (sad joke).

But this little bear cub is amazingly resilient, and wagging her tail as much as ever.

Toad

Burned

Friday, May 13th, 2011

This past Saturday morning when I was out on a walk, I got the mother of all sunburns.  I was over a mile closer to the sun than many of you, AND I’m pigment-deficient – it’s only natural.

By Saturday afternoon, I was radiating so much heat, you could have fried an egg on my clavicle.  My mom pulled out her prescription-strength aloe – the kind they gave her during radiation (you know, when they try to kill your cancer by giving you skin cancer instead) – and I’ve been slathering myself up all week.  But even still: now, I am peeling like a Tennessee cicada.

I wish that life was that easy – when you got burned, you could just shed the damage.

But maybe that’s not the point.

Maybe we’re not supposed to just slip out of the old.   Maybe it’s time for transformation.  Maybe we should hope for a tan, instead.

Not that you asked

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Blame it on genetics.  Blame it on allergies.  Blame it on my deplorable sleep habits.  In any case, it’s true: the skin under my eyes gets puffy.

Blame it on vanity.  Blame it on frugality.  Blame it on beauty magazines.  In any case, it’s true: I combat puffy eyes with hemorrhoid cream.

Recently, a friend came over.  She asked to use the bathroom, and while she was in there, I realized the mortifying truth: I had left the hemorrhoid cream box in the trash can.  Right on top.

She came out of the bathroom, and I couldn’t look her in the eye.  Was she judging me?  Deeming me repulsive?  Thinking of my hemorrhoids?  Despite her pleasant, innocuous demeanor, I was positive that she was silently evaluating me.  We were 10 minutes into conversation before I couldn’t take it anymore.

“I DON’T HAVE HEMORRHOIDS,” I announced.

Blink.  Blink.

Silence.

Her face was blank.

Apparently, not everyone who walks into my bathroom feels the compulsive need to check my trash can.

Even still, should the occasion ever arise again, I would like to take this opportunity to preempt any embarrassment and declare to all of you right now: I don’t have hemorrhoids.

Thank you.

It’s okay to be happy

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

I’ve spent a lot of years getting okay with sadness.

While we live in a culture that tells us that, through various forms of self-medication, sadness is to be avoided at all costs, I have learned that sometimes, you just need to feel sad.  Lean into the pain.  Don’t do anything to try to change it, just fully experience it.

And why shouldn’t I feel sad?  For me, the last 5 years have held their fair share of death – death of dreams, death of relationships, death of people.  If it isn’t happening to me, it’s happening around me – although, I’ll be honest and say that these days, it’s happening to me… more than I’ve asked for, more than I imagined could hit all at once.

I’m really good at the sad.

I’m realizing that there are no happy endings – no game-winning home run, no swelling music as the couple kisses, no cowboy riding off into the sunset.  Until the good Lord comes again, we are existing in a never-ending series of ups and downs – just as soon as we seem to find our footing, the world tilts.  Despite our most wonderful moments, we will never “arrive.”  We will never figure it all out.  We will never seal the happiness deal.

Depressing?  Maybe.

But in a small way, this also feels like freedom – freedom to stop waiting for the happy ending, and to experience the happy right now.

How many times have I postponed any given occurrence of happiness, in favor of that elusive “someday” happy ending?  Brushing off a compliment because I’m waiting for the day that I’m skinnier.  Paying no attention to the moment because I’m waiting for the larger event.  Questioning my worth because I’m waiting for the day that I’m truly loved.  Ignoring any good because I’m waiting until there is absolutely zero bad.  Disregarding the many gifts in my life because they do not yet include a) a husband, b) a house, c) a baby, d) a larger purpose, e) any sense of security… the list goes on.

I’m going to go ahead and keep hoping, because good things are surely in store – but I need to remember that happy endings are smoke and mirrors.  As long as we’re on this earth, we will never be fully satisfied.  It’s time to feel the freedom to seize those happy moments – because all we’re promised is today.  Grab that happiness by the jugular, and enjoy the shit out of it.  Laugh without feeling guilty.  Be silly without feeling stupid.  Feel happy without any nonessential qualifiers.

If you need to feel sad, by all means, feel sad.  But if you’re lucky enough to have a reason to be happy, don’t wait.  Be happy now.