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Top 5

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Top 5 movies

  • That Thing You Do!
  • Jurassic Park
  • Children of Men
  • While You Were Sleeping
  • Dumb and Dumber

Top 5 albums beginning-to-end

  • Lorraine :: Lori McKenna
  • Living With Ghosts :: Patty Griffin
  • Women & Country :: Jakob Dylan
  • Wide Open Spaces :: Dixie Chicks
  • The Good Things :: Jill Phillips

Top 5 things that make me cry

  • Rascal Flatts songs. Like, an embarrassing amount of them.
  • Kerri Strug sticking the landing
  • YouTube videos of soldiers surprising their families
  • Oprah interviews
  • “The Biggest Loser” – every time

Top 5 current goals

  • Pay off all debt (I am close – look out, Spring 2013)
  • Run a sub-2 hour half-marathon
  • Write a book (even if it might not happen very CURRENTLY)
  • Hike the Colorado Trail (486 miles from Denver to Durango)
  • Not to die climbing Longs Peak this Saturday

Top 5 things I wish I knew more about

  • Black holes
  • Taxes (I mean, I guess)
  • First aid
  • Fashion
  • How to be cool

Top 5 favorite ways to blow $50-100

  • Massage
  • Visit to Anthropologie
  • Mini road trip (2 tanks of gas)
  • Dinner at an extravagant restaurant (starting with the cheese plate, of course)
  • Perfume

Top 5 least favorite ways to blow $50-100

  • Fluoride kit at the dentist
  • Speeding tickets
  • Bras
  • Dog food
  • AAA

Top 5 Kenny Chesney songs

  • Anything But Mine
  • Come Over
  • Better as a Memory
  • Somewhere With You
  • You & Tequila

Top 5 things that Toad does

  • Wags her tail the entire time she eats her breakfast
  • Throws her entire body against the backseat of my car for balance when I start driving
  • Comes running (hopping) when she hears a knife slice through cheese on the counter
  • Jumps into my lap when I make her “special noise” (you wish you knew)
  • Refuses to step on grass unless it’s 100% dry (this one is actually not that awesome)

Top 5 international trips I want to take

  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • Hong Kong

Top 5 reasons I’m excited for this fall

  • Soup
  • Boots
  • Weddings (I have 3 – only 3! – Denver, Austin, Nashville)
  • My “bangs” growing long enough to tuck behind my ear
  • Getting back into running shape (i.e. chasing the ever-elusive runner’s booty) (starting this week)

20 things learned in my 20s

Monday, July 30th, 2012

It’s the final week of my 20s, y’all.  I’m running down 30 like a lion runs down a gazelle, or, in the case of “The Lion King,” a wildebeest runs down Mufasa.  [Wah, wah – killjoy.]

Nothing against the 20s, but can everyone agree that they are some weird years?  Don’t get me wrong, the 20s haven’t been all bad – most of my best stories thus far happened in this decade – but I am ready to move beyond them.

However, I have learned a thing or two or twenty in my 20s.

  1. Suitcases.  Do not own a gigantic suitcase.  You will be tempted to fill it up completely – which means it will weigh over 50 lbs. and result in a penalty fee at the airport.  Invest in a smaller bag to keep yourself in check – you won’t wear all of those shoes anyway.
  2. You can’t do everything.  Growing up in America, kids are taught that they can do anything.  And while it’s true that we have a tremendous amount of options and opportunities open to us, it’s important to remember that we cannot pursue every path.  Even the most abundant life involves choices – and saying yes to one thing oftentimes means saying no to a plethora of others.  This is okay.
  3. Learn what’s worth the investment.  Good concealer is.  A good sports bra is.  A good set of knives is.  Wine glasses, bangle bracelets, and sunglasses are not.
  4. Wherever you go, there you are.  When faced with the temptation to run – from a city, from a relationship, from a job – don’t count on the change of circumstances to fix your problems.  Three or six or nine months down the road, you’ll wake up and realize that you’re the same person dealing with the same stuff.  Tackle the real issues – which are probably with yourself, anyway.
  5. Don’t drink & Facebook.  Just don’t.
  6. Hang curtains.  It ain’t home until the curtains are hung.  As one who has moved a lot (a lot a lot), I’ve realized that fastest way to make a room feel “finished” is to hang curtains.  But you won’t find me wielding the drill – it’s good to have an excuse to talk to boys.
  7. Most conflict is fueled by fear.  When someone attacks you, it’s safe to say that in some capacity, they’re probably afraid.  Let this knowledge give you grace for that person.  On the flip side, when tempted to lash out, inspect your own heart for insecurity.  You’ll probably find it.
  8. You can either be right or be happy.  Have enough humility to not have to be right all the time.  I’m working on this one.
  9. No muffin tops.  Listen up, ladies: I have it on good authority that men do not care how much you weigh, nor what pant size you wear, nor any other kind of “number” you attach to your self-worth.  Take care of yourself.  Exercise in a way that feels enjoyable.  Eat colorful produce.  And then buy clothes that actually fit, no matter the size.
  10. Student loans are not “free money.” They are not.  You will pay – for a very long time.
  11. Dating.  I’ll just go ahead and say that 90% of dates are a waste of a Crest Whitestrip.  But that doesn’t mean that they’re a waste of time.  Sometimes you meet a good one, and sometimes you feel understood and seen, and sometimes you connect and talk and think and laugh, and sometimes you get kissed like the angels sing, and it’s… the best.
  12. A dog is a big responsibility.  But worth it.
  13. Nothing is unforgivable.  Growing up in the church, I was taught in a round-about way that certain sins are worse than others.  These days, I do not believe that this is true.  We are never past the point of forgiveness, and never too far gone for grace to hit us like a tidal wave.
  14. Don’t mess with your cowlicks.  You will not win.
  15. Dreams are important.  Pay attention to them, make time for them, foster them, and grow them.  The best dreams are the ones that you’ve had since you were too young to know your so-called limitations.
  16. Don’t let money be an obsession.  Be a good steward of your cash.  Watch where it goes, and be aware of how you’re spending it.  But good grief, sometimes it’s okay to spend the extra $4 for guacamole on the side.
  17. You cannot change your body.  Oh sure, you can gain or lose weight.  But your height?  Your hips?  The shape and length of your legs?  Those are here to stay.  Get nice and comfy with them – because no amount of dieting or running or stretching is going to change your basic body structure.
  18. Being single is hard, and being married will probably be hard – just like being single is great, and being married will probably be great.  No matter what relationship status you find yourself in, there are going to be tough parts and great parts.  There’s no use in playing the “grass is greener” game, because once we reach “the other side,” I’m pretty sure we’ll find that it’s all just grass.
  19. Trust your instincts.  You’ve lived long enough to know when to go with your gut.
  20. And finally, it’s okay to be happyIt’s okay to be happy!

I know that 30 is just a number, and that Saturday, August 4th will be just another day, but I can’t help but think that this birthday signifies the beginning of a new chapter.  It’s a cause for reflection – for looking back and remembering, and then looking ahead and hoping, and ultimately, feeling so thankful for the good gift that is my life.

Reminded

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

First things first, thanks to everyone who has called/texted/written to make sure I’m okay.  I am not dedicated enough to go to a midnight showing of any movie, let alone a Batman one – and in fact, I wasn’t even in Colorado on the night of the shooting.  I am very much okay, aside from being horrified along with the rest of the country.

I am reminded once again that this world is not a safe place.

Other things have been going on in my life – big events, changes of plans, last minute flights.  I spent the week in in Richland, WA, feeding ice chips to my grandmother, smoothing her hair back with a wet washcloth, sleeping on a too-small hospital loveseat.  I hate cancer with a passion, and in spite of missing a week of work, there was no doubt that I was exactly where I needed to be.

I am reminded once again that family always wins.

Life continues to feel fractured and imperfect, and “happiness” isn’t something that I feel much of these days.  But even when walking in the cold shadows, we are bound to come across patches of warm light – the trick is to just keep moving.  I am moving.  And I’m encouraged by the moments of warmth, and trusting in a hope that is bigger than circumstances.

I am reminded once again that “happiness” and “joy” are different things.

While the iron is hot

Friday, June 15th, 2012

It’s been a doozy of a week, y’all – the kind that makes you take drives just to cry, and slam your laptop shut in frustration, and call your mom only to say negative things, and listen to your “Life Support” country mix on repeat. The stress has come from every angle, and while I wish I could tell you that I’ve handled it all with grace, I’ll just go ahead and admit that it’s pressed me down like a trash compactor.

But now it’s Friday night, and I’m posting a blog. No one reads blogs on Friday nights, or even on the weekends, but my blogging opportunities come so infrequently, I have to strike while the iron is hot.

So if it’s Tuesday and this is still the most recent post, well. You’re welcome.

I love lists, and while I tend to try to avoid list blogs – because does anyone really care about my lists? – they’re a good way to catch my people up quickly. In that (half-hearted) spirit, here are some of my happiest, most lovely, favorite things that have happened as of late – because life is too short to blog about the negative.

  • One of my not-so-nearest yet dearest, Christina, had her first baby this week. His name is Duffy, because THAT IS THE MOST ADORABLE EVER. It’s such a sweet thing to see your best friends become parents. I need to plan another trip to Boston as ASAP as possible (as possible) to meet the little mister – not that I mind, since Boston is my home in a parallel universe.
  • I’ve been super into “The Bachelorette.” It’s a disease – but who can blame me? Emily plays the part of the narcissistic Disney princess, and the guys are ridiculous, and it’s all for my entertainment.
  • My favorite Melaroose (AKA Mel, AKA “M” of the JAM House) did a heroic thing. See, I was in Nashville last week, and stopped into that Francesca’s store – “Frannie’s,” to the uninitiated. They have all sorts of cheap jewelry and cheesy gifts and dresses that barely cover the butt cheeks of a tween (I really hope I don’t get in trouble for saying “the butt cheeks of a tween”) – but when I was there two weeks ago, I found an awesome black and white striped tank. Which I didn’t buy. But a week later when I was still thinking about it, I asked Mel if she would go find it for me. Which she did. And then she sent to me. And I love it.
  • One time at a wedding in Austin, I met this guy named Brett. He had a mustache. I don’t know if he still does. Anyhow, he’s a contributor to the Corner Booth, which is written by several of my favorite people – and last week, he posted a story from his life. As a fellow fearer of dancing, it was among the greatest things I’ve read.
  • The lines on a Solo cup are FOR A REASON.

And with that, I’m off to clean the kitchen, file my papers, pay my bills, and pack my backpack for a hike tomorrow morning. Because what else would I do on a Friday night?

Seasons

Friday, May 25th, 2012

For me, the year is split up into four different “seasons.”

Fall is running.
Winter is gym.
Spring is walking.
Summer is hiking.

When it comes to exercise, these are my natural inclinations – during that particular season, the corresponding activity just feels RIGHT. They’re not mutually exclusive – I’ll still go on walks in the fall, or to the gym in the summer, or hike in the spring – but by and large, the weather and the air dictate my workout, and this spring, I’ve found myself a 9-mile walking loop.

I start at home, and head south through the Sunnyside and Highlands neighborhoods until I hit Lohi. Then, I cross the pedestrian bridge to downtown, and wind down Platte Street past REI. With the rollercoasters of Elitch Gardens off to my left, I walk underneath the Speer Bridge and past the Denver Aquarium, cross back over I-25, and through Jefferson Park. It’s a mile to Sloan’s Lake, which I circle, and then make the long trek north back to the house where I drink a gigantic glass of water.

Last night, my friend and former co-worker Anna joined me on this walk. If you know Anna, you know that she is something special: kind and generous and authentic, an insanely hard worker, and uniquely talented. Also, if you know Anna, you know that she will probably be embarrassed that I wrote those things.

Sorry, Anna. I would say you’re lame, but that would be a lie – and I’d rather go to heaven.

Anyway, Anna has been in Denver since last September, and has done such an amazing job of embracing this current season of life. She, like many of us, finds herself in some unexpected circumstances – but has marched forward and done the things that feel right – for right now. Her current season is helping to determine the direction that she goes, and she is rolling through with such grace and aplomb. For a girl like me – often hell-bent on bulldozing my own path, come hell or high water, with nothing but The Future in mind – it’s so inspiring to see Anna live in the moment, enjoy the simple things, and take each day as it comes.

There are seasons to life, and adaptation is key. Like my exercise-of-choice, different seasons call for different routines, different practices, different processes. Little by little, and with friends like Anna, I’m learning to embrace my current season, shelving my expectations for the future, and experiencing the Now.

Except I’m really excited that it’s almost hiking season. You understand.

[Quote by Gabrielle Blair. Who made it into art? I don't know, because sometimes Pinterest fails us. If this is your picture, let me know so I can credit you (and tell you that you're great).]

What to do with this blog

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

I have a confession: I don’t quite know what to do with this blog.

The posting has been light, at best, in 2012.  I’ve thought about scrapping the whole thing, taking the site down, going off-the-grid in the virtual world.  I’ve thought about forcing myself to post more often, rehashing the meaningless minutia of each day.  I’ve thought about doing a series, dedicating each day of the week to highlighting all 5 members of various boy bands.

Instead, most days, the site just sits here.

I have so many amazing friends who are doing a great job of keeping up their writing, featuring vignettes from their lives, sharing what’s on their heart and mind.  I used to do these things, I think.  But these days, when I sit down to write anything – a blog, an email, a journal entry – it just feels flat.  It feels forced.  It doesn’t make me happy – which is alarming, since historically, writing has made me happier than just about anything else.

It’s been a long time since my heart has felt full to the point where I feel like I have something to share.

I keep trying to rally, but the truth is, I feel too tired.  I miss my friends – I really do. I miss having a sense of belonging.  The future feels big and overwhelming. I wish my family was intact.  I wish I wasn’t broken.

I know, I know – this is the point where I’m supposed to stop and say how lucky I am, how many things I have going for me, how there are good things about my life and situation (because there really are, and I know it).

But just now, as I was writing this, the tears came – and damn it, but I’d rather cry than say nothing at all.

These days

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

On Saturday, my friend Annie Herzig texted to offer me a $20 ticket to “Wicked.”  I know – do $20 tickets to “Wicked” even exist?  Is that even a thing?  When you’re friends with Annie Herzig, yes, it’s a thing.  And you should definitely say yes.

Although I read the book awhile back, I wasn’t at all familiar with the musical.  But oh my word.  Those of you who have seen it know what I’m talking about – this show is so, so good.  It’s funny and poignant and magical, not to mention that those girls can sing like nobody’s business.  I felt embarrassingly lucky to have had the spontaneous chance to see it on the cheap – but apparently not so embarrassed not to tell everyone that I SAW “WICKED” FOR $20.

The food at Bittersweet is overpriced and undersized, but flavorful and worth a Saturday night splurge with girlfriends.

Sunday morning, I went to church and heard a sermon that echoed a lot of my thoughts on why commitment equals freedom.  Saying “yes” to one thing may be saying “no” to a myriad of others – but the longer that we “keep our options open,” the more likely it is that those options pass us by, becoming non-options.  Trust, take a chance, and make a choice – it’s so much more interesting than living passively, waiting for the best case scenario to just show up.

Later on Sunday, I donned my ugliest fleece (it’s gigantic – like, unisex gigantic – and bright orange) and delivered fresh baked goods to a friend.  Nothing was said about the unisex gigantic bright orange fleece.  That’s a good friend, right there.

Last night after dark, I went out and ran 6 miles.  I listened to Sugarland and felt like me.

Allow me to make a declaration: 2012 is so much better than 2011.  Not that it would be at all tough to be better than 2011, but still.  2012 wins.

Just a moment to say…

Friday, April 6th, 2012

I work for the #1 most reputable company in America.  Feeling so blessed to have the job I do.

We’re house-hunting like nuts, and have to be off of Hooker Street in 24 days.  So far, no luck.

Denver is treating me so well these days.  It took a little while – but I just love living here.

I’m making my list of mountains for the summer.  I’m shooting to climb 10 more this year.

Toad is getting her summer buzz cut today.  I’ll report back with pictures.

There’s a lot of pain swirling around out there in the world.  I keep seeing it, feeling it, bumping up against it.  I am more thankful for Easter this year than maybe ever before.

In which I compare myself to a bear, a bunny, and a slug

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Well, shoot.

I have been a horrible blogger, emailer, Facebooker, Instagrammer, and all around virtual presence lately.  It seems as though my Internet Self has opted for hibernation (the best part was the eating and eating and eating beforehand).

But it’s not as though my Internet Self is the Real Me, and the Real Me has been busy doing all sorts of things that are real – real like the Velveteen Rabbit.

For starters, I am working my fluffy cottontail off at my job.  Every day is a to-do list a mile long, and if you know me, you know that there is nothing I love more than taking a fat Sharpie and crossing off tasks.  I’m doing all sorts of things that I don’t know how to do, which forces me to just figure it out.  It’s challenging but fun, and I learn more every single day.

But remember when I was so excited to be wearing “actual outfits” to my new job?  The novelty has kind of worn off.  After about a month, I decided that none of my clothes were worth wearing, and the “actual outfits” started being the same 5 pieces in rotation.  I have so many clothes that I don’t wear (or that just shouldn’t be worn), and I’m feeling the need for a wardrobe overhaul.  I wish I had Kendi Everyday to help me.

Really.  Why can I not put together effortless outfits like her?  I do not have the spiritual gift of fashion.  I need serious help and skinnier thighs.

In other news, I mailed off my taxes, glory and amen.  Yes, I owed money.  But given that this was my most complicated financial year to date, the very fact that they’re finished is a victory.  (Of course, it should be mentioned that *I* did not do my taxes – my dad did them for me, and then sent them to me to sign.  I also wrote in my phone number, because I am the champion of doing my taxes.)

Speaking of money, remember how last month I paid off and destroyed my credit card?   Full steam ahead: I JUST PAID OFF MY CAR.  I wrote the final check this morning.  The deed is done.  I have ONE debt left – my student loans – and I’m all over it like a slug on wet pavement.

If I could wrap everyone up in a gigantic bear hug (after all, I HAVE been a hibernator)… I would.  This blog serves as a way to connect with some of my favorite people, and I miss you when I’m gone.  It just doesn’t feel right, you know?  Don’t forget about me, and I promise to not forget about you.

Needing each other

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

One night last week, I called Julie on my way home from work. Julie is one of my best friends, knows me very well, and doesn’t mind when I leave long, rambling voicemails – which is what I did that night. Among various and sundry details, at the end of the message, I voiced a fear I have about my relationships: “I hope I’m not disappearing.”

In this disconnected world, as friendships change with time and distance, it’s easy for any of us to fear being unknown – if I went away, would anyone notice? Everyone is so busy, so involved in their own lives - if I disappeared, would it even matter?

The next morning, I woke to find an email from my next door neighbor. He was leaving town that day, and his dog-sitter had fallen through. Could I take care of his 140 lb. St. Bernard, Bo?

Over the years, as my income has slowly increased, I’ve found that so has my autonomy. A ride to the airport? No thanks, I’ll just pay for parking. Borrow a dress for a wedding? It’s okay, I’ll buy my own. Need help moving? I’m alright, I’ll just hire movers.

Post-college, increasingly more so year after year, I’ve found that we seem to need each other less and less. Independence is all well and good – but at what point does our self-sufficiency actually do us a disservice? At what point does our maverick mindset lead to a lonely detachment?

And when does our relational disconnect actually deprive someone else of being seen, being noticed, being needed?

I said yes to taking care of Bo. It was the smallest thing – feeding him, letting him out a couple of times, taking him on a walk which I would have gone on anyway. Arriving at the front door and having him shove his massive head into my hands for some love was the highlight of that day and a half – and for those 36 hours, I felt needed. I felt connected. I felt seen.

The next time I need help, I’m going to ask for it. Who knows – someone might need me more than I need them.