On Seeing People

I walked to lunch today. A welcomed break in the middle of the day in one of my favorite towns. The noon hour buzzing with people, cars, sunshine streaming. It was hot, sweat glistened, and I found myself watching my shadow as I walked. Pony tail bobbing, thinking to myself, “I feel happy today.”

I’m recognizing, more and more, the return of happiness. I welcome it home.

As I turned the corner, I heard a small tinkling of ukulele music.  I stopped staring at my shadow and instead looked up. A larger gentleman was sitting on a bench. Wearing ragged clothes, hikers backpack full of belongings next to him,  he plucked away at the tiny instrument. A sign sat at his feet that said, “Just traveling on a prayer.” Aren’t we all?

I’ve had many a day I felt that was all that was bringing me through til night. A prayer.

I walked past and went into the sandwich shop chain. I paid eight dollars for my subpar sandwich and tucked the change in my pocket. Exit the restaurant, place sunglasses on head. Pivot back towards work.

I took a few steps and I noticed the music had stopped. I glanced down the block and saw the gentleman had placed the instrument to his side. His head was in his hands, a grubby bandana crumpling over his face, covering his eyes.

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I bent down, and set a dollar into his large mug.

“Thanks for your music” I said and started to walk on by.

The gentleman picked up his head and smiled, breathing a sigh of relief.

“You are the first to donate all day. I was beginning to doubt myself. ”

“Nothing to doubt,” I said, “thanks for the gift. Your music is lovely.”

He kept talking and I wished him a good day.

The pony tail in my shadow had found a reason to bounce. I felt a new swing in my step, fueled by feelings of thanks for my gift of seeing.

I’ve been given the gift of seeing – of noticing things others prefer to ignore. It can be a pain and sometimes I want to squash what this spirit in me reveals, to dismiss the urge to lean in to those sitting and playing on street corners. Yet, my gift shows up again and again tugging my heart like an impatient child pulling on a parent’s arm. She tells me to whisper hello, and transfer feelings of hope in the form of eye contact and simple words.

Today I chose to recognize talent, made a connection, shared resources, even if small. My choice was met with acceptance and affirmation. It felt like he really needed my words.

We all want to be seen and appreciated for our talents. Plus, I love the ukulele.

I hope others spared a dollar or two for his beautiful talent.

Where can you improve in seeing others? How can you share your resources? What can you say thank you for?

How can you interact while we all travel on a prayer? Can it be beautiful if we choose to appreciate one another?

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Rest. Breathe. Observe. Reflect. Repeat. 

I just got back from a weekend away in the mountains.

Funny how when you say yes to rest, your body shows you just how tired you have been.

I have been tired.

Like watching your puppy stare up at you, eye lids heavy, trying to stay alert and awake and failing. Head droops. Heart rests on the floor.

I’ve been tired of the rushing from here to there and my self-propelled late nights working on dreams.

Tired of my wrists hurting from typing.

Tired of scrolling through angry posts, of crazy world news, of buckets of rain and high winds.

Tired of tuning in to CNN.

Tired of fear and inadequacy.

Tired of sadness and the gut ache of grief.

Tired of big sighs and big storms and big losses.

And when we are tired, the world says do more, but my God says, ‘do less’.

Tired of resisting this truth.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” – Jeremiah 31:25 

Why is it so hard to press pause, to release, to take not just one, but repetitive deep breaths.

Let go of the guilt you feel walking in the door upon returning from your escape.

Smile as you push the grocery lists and bills off the counter.

Watch the paper responsibilities, just paper, flutter to the floor.

For just for a few moments allow deep pulses of respite to seep into your bones. To massage out the tense aching in our ever fearful bodies.

Rest. Breathe. Observe. Reflect. Repeat. 

It’s ok. You can pick up the envelopes and organize the pile now. Think about food. Nourish your self. Rest.

Tomorrow will be for rising again.

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Favorite Things – September

I only care one day a year.

You know! Caring about which team to root for.

Growing up in Northern Colorado I really ought to be a CSU fan. Then I went to the University of Colorado and my ‘house of origin’ became a house divided.  You’ve seen the stickers. You know what I’m talking about.

Then I married a Buffalo and my new ‘house’ was united under waves of black and gold. We even brought Dad over to the dark side. He would proudly wear his CU Hat – sweat stains and all. I wish he was here to come over and watch the big Rocky Mountain Showdown  rivalry from the comfort of our living room.

My  favorite things this month?

  1. CU Gear – May I suggest these fine options?

University of Colorado CU Buffaloes Alumni Nation Stripes Flag

NCAA University of Colorado Buffaloes Custom Athletic Crew Socks

Sing the fight song loudly! I’ll be cheering on my Colorado Buffaloes. Who wants to place a bet on the game?

2. Stumptown Coffee

Yes. Again. Coffee. We went on a lovely trip to Portland and I dragged my family around to local coffee shops. I wanted to include these guys on my best vanilla latte in the world contest I’ve got running in my head. Stumptown was delicious, approachable and trendy. They didn’t cringe when I asked for syrup. Very important. I am thrilled to have added this roaster to my list. While they can’t ship me a vanilla latte, I can get some beans. The internet is a magical thing.

3. This Osprey Daypack

My father-in-law took us on an eight mile hike to an old mining town that didn’t really exist. Well I’m sure it did at some point, but when we got there, the only remnants were a post with a sign, and a nice river bed. Try to find the photo on my Instagram.  I was thankful to have this great daypack for hiking. Well, grateful my husband was carrying this great daypack for hiking. Dylan carried the water – I sipped out of the long straw much like a baby cow follows its mother for milk.

4. Lauren Graham’s Book

If you were (still are…?) obsessed with Gilmore Girls in the early 2000’s I highly recommend this book. Think half memoir, half story of the show, this book made me laugh, cry, and feel nostalgic. Amazing to think how much t.v. shows weave their narratives into our lives. Gosh I love Lorelei. Lauren’s perspective is pretty great too.

5. This video.

 

I think this is the kind of thing Olive thinks about all day. Perhaps she even confesses to Cerdito. This video and that puppy may be my new obsession. Much like my Marcel the Shell phase. Who am I kidding? I still love Marcel.

Well There You Have It!

I took a personality test today. In fifteen minutes I answered a series of questions and the tiny, little analyzer internet minions spit out pure truth.

When looking at Personal Motivators, “Aesthetic” was my highest score.

The test said:

  • Katie enjoys the beauty of her surroundings and would like others to share
    her passion.
  • She will enjoy the more traditional form of beauty as compared to the
    abstract.
  • She is in tune with her inner feelings and likes surroundings that compliment these feelings.
  • Katie seeks self-realization and fulfillment.
  • Katie needs a sense of harmony and balance in her surroundings and relationships.
  • Being recognized for creativity is the highest form of achievement for her.
  • Katie is interested in studying and appreciating the totality of a situation.
  • Creativity is only limited by external, not internal boundaries.

How do they do it? Completely GET you after a series of 12 questions! I am amazed and delighted that this analysis confirms what I sometimes deny to be true about myself.

These truths have trickled into my internet space and affirmed, yet again, that I believe in the pursuit of beauty. I believe in it ever so much!

Writing about feelings and surroundings and harmony and balance makes sense because these building blocks make up my core. I believe that creativity is worth achieving and equals accomplishment. The pursuit of beautiful things being more important to me than money or fast cars or fancy jewelry (although if this blog brings me money or fancy jewelry I wouldn’t say no.) I believe in being honest about feelings – fear, doubt, happiness, joy, confusion, grief. Bring them all on!

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Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

 

So I raise my arms in praise to the Universe for sending a confirming message that I’m on the right track. In writing, in the pursuit of beauty, in the privilege it is to just be myself.

Let’s keep at it eh?

That’s Going to Be Fun for You?

I read fast. My eyes scan pages and absorb words quickly, inviting me into worlds not my own. Don’t ask me for details about story or memoir, though, because once I’ve finished a title I seem to forget. My reading comprehension sucks. The pleasure is in the journey, not the destination.

On our most recent road trip I read four books. Four. Last week I spent 38 hours in the backseat of a Subaru and there is not much to see from Wyoming to East Oregon. Enter books. Thank goodness I don’t get car sick.

Before the trip I sat down at our kitchen table and opened up a new browser to search for books to download to my Kindle. Picking out books to read is what I live for! I selected five titles and tucked my little e-reader in my travel bag.

Our trip was an amazing break from the day to day grind. When I told some of my friends that I was driving 38 hours across the country, they looked at me like I was crazy. When I told them we were driving with my in-laws, their mouths dropped a little more, and eyes got bigger seeming to ask, ‘That’s going to be fun for you?’

Yes! Fun for me. I am incredibly lucky in that I like my in-laws! My father-in-law drove the whole time. My mother-in-law packed delicious snacks and navigated our route, picking our hotels, restaurants and day trip itineraries. While Dylan and I are both grown people, these two parents continue to extend their love for us as we dozed in the backseat. After a hard year of taking care of hurting, searching people –  ie. myself, my husband, my mom – riding along in the backseat where all my needs were met was just the heart medicine I needed. It is nice to be cared for and out of your routine.

A list of beautiful things from our time in Oregon:

  • New breweries: these people like to drink beer as much as we do in Northern Colorado. I now know how tourists must feel when they come to our town. Another brewery on that corner! No time to fit in all those delicious pints of craft beer.
  • Kite Surfing on the River: no, no, I didn’t try, but we did watch hundreds of colorful kites kiss the sky as surfers handled the wind on the Columbia River. We stuck our toes in the water and laughed as the ripples lapped at our legs.
  • Salt and Straw & good friends: One of my oldest friends Jenny now lives in Portland. She took us to her neighborhood food trucks (THAT’S A THING PEOPLE!) and out to the trendiest ice cream store I’ve ever been to. Apparently Oprah endorses their Arbequina Olive Oil flavor. I couldn’t mentally stomach spooning olive oil into my mouth over and over, but the creamy concoction was delicious on a small metal tea spoon. Instead I turned to the beautiful combination of Carrot Cake Batter with Hazelnut Praline. For those easily overwhelmed types like my husband, they also have vanilla.
  • Canon Beach: We went to the ocean. Nothing like having your feet in the sand with cold water running over your toes. Wind in the hair, sand pushing back against the arches of your feet, reminding you that you wear shoes all too often. Cloud cover and waves crashed together in a soothing blanket of gray. The ocean is big. It makes me feel connected to the edge of something. I loved walking on the sand and exploring that quaint little town.
  • A family wedding: Dylan’s cousin got married and I was honored to be a part of the celebration. As we walked up to the rehearsal dinner which was held in a neighborhood park, huge trees sheltered us from intense sun. Who knew it could be 105 degrees in the Northwest. Rays of sunshine trickled through the leaves. We approached from about fifty yards away watching the bride practice going down the aisle with her dad. I stopped and stood still, catching my breath at the beautiful scene unfolding in front of me. Other members of the family kept walking ahead. One breath. Two. I swatted at a tear starting to trickle down my cheek, escaping my from my sunglasses of protection. I missed my dad as a flood of memories from my own experience down the aisle came back. More though, I was overwhelmed with the truth that I am living in the light again. Grief still exists, yes, but that’s not all. I sent up a silent whisper of thanks in realizing I am returning to living in joy. The choices to be taken care of, to explore, to love and feel loved, those are all beautiful, beautiful things.

 

Here is a list of books I read on the trip:

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

Vinegar Girl: A Novel

Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel

The Here and Now

Lessons in Solitude – Guest Post from Kirby Elaine

Life lessons come in many shapes and forms. When Kirby of The Joy List started following me on Instagram, I instantly loved her vibe. Her perspective is refreshing. Another person looking for good in the world, and perhaps more importantly, good in themselves! She was kind enough to share some of my musings on her blog, and I am thrilled to have her share her thoughts as a guest contributor here today. Beauty in solitude and returning to self.

Author: Kirby Elaine

Her Website: www.thejoylistla.com

Her Mantra: “love the life you live”

If you asked me three months ago what my greatest “achilles heel” was, I’d say loneliness. The vulnerability that came from sitting at home alone or walking through this world as one set of footprints was so foreign to me and not something I had any interest in exploring. Three months ago, I made a decision to begin what I am now calling my “Self Love Journey,” but let me say, this decision did not come without it’s challenges. For months I had felt a burning in my throat and sharp pains in the middle of my chest, and any time I placed my hand on my heart I heard a voice, a voice that so sweetly and simply said “you need to be alone.”

 
I tried to silence it, not wanting to give into the vulnerability of what actually being alone might hold for me. I filled the empty spaces with more food and more alcohol, I kept my mind busy with my bartending work and copious amounts of classes and scene work for Acting. And ironically, every time I sat down to write, I immediately found a distraction or reason not to. Ego control, anyone?

What I can now see so clearly is that I wasn’t ready for the whole truth, and writing is, and always has been a truth-seeking practice for me. I sit down and my fingers channel the truth of what lies inside my heart. So let’s just get down to it and say that my heart finally won the battle (thank you, my strong, beautiful heart). My solo Journey began, and what I soon found was that without the distractions and worries over others and how I was affecting every single person I came in contact with, and without the self-
doubt and self-sabotage, I was able to tap into the childish innocence I have always known was inside and that I have always valued so deeply as one of my gifts. Through the journey of being alone I have remembered and repaired the relationship of who I am to ME.

I am a lover
I am a lightworker
I am joyous
I am that girl who get’s excited over beautiful fruit at the market
I am the one who stares at each Sunset as if I’ve never seen one before
I hug people deeper and longer than maybe I should
I tell people I love them, all the time
I share my gratitude with myself and anyone who will listen
I don’t apologize for my new ways of thinking and living
I don’t shrink myself to fit was is “acceptable”
I laugh loudly
I speak up
I do things that others may not always like, and that’s ok with me, because no matter what, now I always lead with nothing but love, and I stand up for myself when I feel my boundaries have been crossed.

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Three months ago I was a different Woman. Myself, yes, but I was scared and overwhelmed and weak from self doubt and guilt. Three months ago I truly and honestly didn’t know why I was even still here, I didn’t understand how I could possibly have a purpose, and within three months (less, if I’m being honest) I have found my life’s work, my life’s purpose, and each and every day I walk around with my head held high, buzzing in gratitude and anticipation for the gifts the day ahead of me will bring.
No matter how alone you may feel now, no matter how lost or weary, know that there is a way out, and it comes from Self Love. It’s time to fall deeply, madly, head-over-heels in love with yourself. It’s time to empower yourself to live the life you deserve, and if you ever need guidance, never be afraid to ask, we may be just meeting now in these words, but I’m always here – THAT is my gift to you.

Stay hungry my friends, I promise that this life has SO much for you ❤
In light and love,
Kirby

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Kirby lives and works in LA and describes herself as the following: hugger. writer. actor. improviser. dancer. dreamer. lover of animals. advocate for a healthy mind|body|soul

You can follow her on her blog or on Instagram.

Favorite Things – August

August is a big month at my house. My husband and my father-in-law celebrate their birthdays one day apart (well one day and 30 years apart) and the whole month turns into a celebration of Huey men. I’m excited to approach these milestones with them!

As I mix celebration with continued healing, I share this list of my favorite things.

Here are a few things that are worth a mention, a glance, or an impulse buy this month.

  1. The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss by Sandra Marinella

I was given this beautiful book to review and I loved the way Sandra encourages writers of all experience levels to get their stories out and on a page. She walks you through various writing exercises, shares her personal story with cancer, and encourages readers that healing can be found by writing your truth. All sentiments I can get behind. I strongly recommend this book!

2. Essie nail polish

My days as Receptionist at the Natural Nail Care Clinic forever left an impression on me and my medicine cabinet. I am still loyal to Essie products developed for your natural nail. I am loving this new color that was part of the Spring 2017 season. Come on, make your fingers feel pretty!

3. Ansel Adams Artwork

We finally painted our room! Our new, fresh, green walls anxiously await some art work. I’m planning on hanging some work by Ansel Adams like the piece below. My dad loved this artist’s ability to capture nature and peace. Photography and memory – beautiful things.

4. Be Brave T Shirt

Living life authentically takes bravery, compassion, and self-love. I like this t-shirt because it reminds me to embrace all of these things. Wear your mantras. Why not? I promise the women’s styles are more flattering.

5. Sprinkles

Everything worth celebrating is worth celebrating with sprinkles. Let the month of birthdays begin!

PS. I tried searching for manly sprinkles – Amazon tells me this doesn’t exist.