Three Words

Three words. Paid Time Off.

What a gloriously beautiful week of vacation I had. Time to sleep, time to read, time to laugh, time to eat. And eat. And eat. Time for gifts and family and brunches and egg nog and stockings and celebrations. I am thankful I work at an organization that allows for paid vacation. I needed a break.

Three words. “First Married Christmas”.

I love Christmas and my first married one went smashingly well. What caught my attention this year was that everyone felt the need to point out that this was the first Christmas of significance between Dylan and I. I felt strangely pressured to make the holiday significant. We chose to spend Christmas Eve just the two of us and I made crab legs. Delicious, splurge the budget, crab legs. IMG_2117

We did not go to church (the first year of my whole life). Instead we drove around to look at Christmas lights, and watched “Elf”. It was enjoyable and I very much enjoyed the calm before the family stampede, but in many respects, the night felt no different than the 6 Christmas Eve nights I had spent with Dylan before. There were just less people around. Taking the pressure off of myself, and giving permission to live the moments as they unfold. Traditions will develop for our little family, but this, too, is a process. I get to choose how to navigate this new territory of Christmas traditions as an “us”.

Three words. A White Christmas.

It snowed! And in fact, it is still snowing and winter has arrived. The idyllic flakes of white magic continued to fall from mid Christmas Day until late in the evening. The frozen crystals painted a backdrop that was intended to truly capture our “First Married Christmas” just like the ‘ol days. You know those old, nostalgic Christmas Card scenes that float around with images of the 1800’s on them? The snow flakes are embossed, textured, glittery. The old church gleams and gentlemen in caps and ladies in outrageous dresses that weighed eight tons look flustered because they are carrying packages for twenty? Did Christmas really look like that for them? I want to update those images and include a more picturesque version of today’s reality.  What would you put on the cover? I’m still trying to decide. Here is a picture of our “First Christmas”. I am not stoned – I just have deep set eyes. Don’t look at the eyes, it is my hair that looks great. And oh, those snow flakes.


Three words. Christmas Number Four. 

Despite efforts to condense Christmas celebrations with a brunch held at our house, we still hustled and bustled our holiday cheer to four different family celebrations. (Did this phrase come about because women in those ridiculous 1800’s dresses had to bustle their apparel before they could move briskly across town? This is all becoming more clear.) With each event or stage in the marathon my heart swelled. How did I get so lucky to live so close to my family, to want to invite not only my parents and brother and his friends to our home, but to include grandmas and aunts and cousins. I am blessed to come up with creative gifts for exchanges and humorous antics to share at the dinner table. I’m spoiled beyond belief and bask in gratitude for the humans that love upon me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The need to summarize thoughts and collectively label my experiences each week has challenged me this year. Do I need to implicitly spell out my intentions, or am I doing a good enough job painting a picture that you can follow along? No really, I want to know what you think. This week, there was so much beauty in the in-between space in holiday happenings. I was giddy and to be honest, a little intimidated at the prospect of creating my own family holiday traditions. I have, after all, spent the last 20 or so years participating in Christmas in the only way I know how. The way my mother likes it. I was sad I didn’t come running up the stairs in pajama pants that matched my mom’s. Stockings were opened at 2 pm, rather than 8, and on the couch in front of the fire rather than my parent’s big four-poster bed. (Sharing too much about my family’s personal boundaries?) Yet, each family continued to accept the small, detail oriented changes, that suggest we are all morphing into a new normal. We accept each other with open arms and seasonal joy, while continuing to navigate what it means to be our own little units. Think holiday mitosis. It’s mesmerizing, and yet the split, at times, can be a little shocking at first.

Three Words. Happy New Year. 

“Yes Please”

I’m reading a book right now, not surprising I know. “Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness”, by Ariel Gore. It is about happiness. Perhaps a sociological examination into the way women experience happiness, are expected to exude it, and some of the things that hinder the concept’s accessibility. A critical look into a newer phenomenon of positive psychology.

I find it interesting really, that this book caught my eye at this time of the year. I suppose I haven’t found as much time as I’d like to read this year with a wedding to plan, and a full time job, and family and friends. The library, though, has always been one of my safe places. Rows upon rows of that wonderfully beautiful book scent. The tactile experience of flipping pages with a thumb nail in an almost silent space. I love how the carpet absorbs all of our noises, gently reminding us that this place of learning is sacred.  For whatever reason, digging around in the sociology section of our local library, I was drawn to this one.

blue birdI’ve been reading it in small doses, and this week have almost reached the end. In one segment, Gore asks colleagues and friends if they are happier now than they were at this time last year. I read the question, and was blown into a tornado of pondering space. After my brain calmed down a little bit, I was able to say yes. First a whisper, then perhaps a little louder to myself. Then a yes with a resounding fist pump. I am in such a better place than I was last year at this time, and right now I am going to sink into that feeling with immense gratitude.

No, things are not perfect, and I know situations change. Fear calls us into the what ifs and the over protective planning mode all the time. But overall, 2014 has been a year of joyful anticipation, and details and family and love and for that I am so wonderfully grateful.  Time progressing is beautiful, and looking back and being able to say, “look how far we have come” is an immense privilege. There is beauty in asking reflective questions, and taking time to be proud of progress.

Sunday, I spent all day reading and writing in my journal. What a lazy one I was, especially in light of the hovering reminder that Christmas is just a few days away. Still shopping to be done, certainly, but that is what days off like today are for. (Did I just admit that I still have shopping to do 2 days before Christmas? This is so unlike me!) I love a good book, like I mentioned before, and I adore the opportunity to indulge a full afternoon dedicated to one page turner. This week’s was, “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler. I did not really know what to expect when I got her book at the library. The neon lights caught my attention, sure, and the title. Sometimes, though, books by comedians are challenging to me – the humor lost in my too quickly read pace. If I slow down to read things out loud I do better, but I read so quickly I sometimes miss the joke.

yes please

Let me tell you, Amy does not disappoint. Her reflections on her career and life mixed in with immensely funny segments brought such comfort to me this weekend. I cried a little. You aren’t supposed to admit that you cry when reading a comedian’s book. Really though, she touched on so many things that I can relate to right now – about standing up for yourself, about looking for opportunities, about not tying your identity to any one part of your life. As we all know, things change (dammit) and she encouraged me to continue to surf the waves.

I was strongly reminded that there are perfectly acceptable times to say no – for self preservation, for boundaries, for protection in a world that does not quite look out for you in all the ways you would hope. Gently encouraged, though, too, that there are more opportunities to stand up for what you need, to seek new adventures and trust the universe with a polite, “Yes Please”.  These are some things I would like to say “Yes Please” to for the coming year ahead:

  • Time with my husband – continuing to figure out this thing called being married………………………. Yes Please
  • A little bit of fun adventure …………………….. Yes Please
  • Not worrying about money …………………. Yes Please
  • Opportunities to continue to develop in work ……………. Yes Please
  • Chances to have fun…………………… Yes Please
  • Vanilla lattes……………. Yes Please
  • Books …………. Yes Please
  • Chances for gratitude ………….. Yes Please
  • The trust that happiness abounds ………… Yes Please

Are you happier now than you were at this time last year? What do you want to say “Yes Please” for?

Confession – Giving Makes Me Uncomfortable

I admit it, I worry about giving. For someone who is so compassionate about the pain in the world, I often have a difficult time giving money or gifts to others, or even taking care of myself when money is involved. I work at a non-profit. All of our efforts in December are centered around asking others to give money to support us. The irony does not escape me. Quite honestly, I am that cheap friend. The re-gifter, the thrifty annoying penny pincher. Too, I spend money on coffee every day. So here I am, a walking contradiction. I am not sure where that fear comes from – the fear of not having enough. I have never spent a day in my life not having my needs met.

When the calendar rolls over to December 1st and the season of giving meets us whole heartedly in the face with jingle bells, and catchy songs, and all kinds of red and sparkles, I get rather uncomfortable. Not because I do not like making those lists for myself, or dreaming of ways I can creatively gift to others, but because I know this holiday merriment pushes me into a season of trust in having enough that calls attention to a part of myself that I am not particularly fond of.

What amazes me this week, are the multiple ways in which the universe is reminding me that I have enough. That I am worthy of receiving gifts, and have the resources to bestow blessings upon one another. Thursday morning a fabulous friend and mentor brought her five year old son to my office. They were on an adventure of random kindness. Grady wrote in his shaky handwriting on a coffee mug – find the beauty in everything. (Likely the message was prompted by mom, but who needs to know?) Now those are my two love languages right there – coffee and reminders that I need to look for beauty each day.  A child like wonder to remember that kindness moves mountains. It shaped my day, and my week, and reminded me that I too, need to work on being kind.

I went to a wonderful “Dining for Women” event where we went around the table before breaking bread and were asked to share what was bringing us joy this season. Once again, an amazingly refreshing reminder that there is joy in each and every day. My list included this blog, living in a beautiful state, Christmas cookies, and opportunities to grow. The woman standing next to me talked about how she went through an exercise this year in removing clutter. Her motivation was that we are always saving things for “some day” – shoes, bags, book shelves that don’t fit, pants that are just too tight. This woman wasn’t referring to my hoarding of money at all – trust me, I know I don’t need to be in her example of joy. However, her words struck my heart immensely. I do, I save money, and things and hoard for fear of needing them some day. Not trusting that the Lord will provide for me too in that some day moment. That doesn’t mean I need to go be irresponsible, or make stupid choices, but I felt called out to relax and breathe and trust, once again, that I will continue to have enough. This reminder in other’s words was immensely beautiful to me.

Weeks roll off calendars quickly and I can’t believe it is the middle of December. Holiday parties and cookies and sprinkles and cocktails filled my weekend and my heart was warm with connections to family. I was touched that my mom wanted to still spend a day baking holiday yummies with me. Might I recommend this Gingerbread Biscotti recipe? We had the privilege of being with Dylan and his extended family – aunts and uncles in from out of town. I was given these little misfit toy ornaments from his aunt – brought all the way from Germany from when they were growing up there.


Aren’t they cute and charming? I find such beauty in their tiny features and big eyes and delicate little selves. I am tickled to have these little guys dancing amongst my branches of my Christmas tree as I once again bask in the gifts that God has given me in family and human connection this week.

This week, family grounded me and the kindness of others were more necessary than I even knew I needed. Now, to get to work on finding the joy in giving to others. I can not wait to reciprocate the beautiful feeling of love and provision that all of these people have given me.

Does giving make you uncomfortable? What are some of your holiday delights?

Hopes & Healing in Boxes

This time two years ago I moved out of my parents’ home for the first time. I was in a city with people I didn’t know, and spent many evenings during the week home alone, or with Dylan, reading books and wallowing in anxiety of how to even get this thing called life started. In December of 2012 I moved with anticipation and anxiety of what being an adult actually looks like – away from home, away from my friends. Towards what I wasn’t quite sure. All of my belongings could fit in the back of my SUV. One load.

In December 2013 I moved back to my hometown with a hope of a return to normal, to community, to a proper sense of grounding. This time, the move took three trips in a truck and I brought a man back with me. I was disappointed and shocked to find that while my hometown hadn’t changed too much, perhaps I had. I wasn’t the same Katie that walked those streets and halls and through the nostalgic memories. The realization that perhaps the job, or the location was not the problem, but rather was something within me took quite a bit of therapy to admit. This move gave me the opportunity to say yes to new opportunities in relationship and fully walk towards the promise and commitment of marriage. I had to come home to move forward.

Here we are in December of 2014, once again moving, with wedding gifts, and hopes, and compromises that come with having a life partner. This move required a U-haul. I’m not quite sure what will be next, but know that it is so wonderful to be moving towards things with another person at my side. Excuse the self promotion here, but I am thrilled by the healing that I have carried with me this year. Usually, the moving of my physical belongings, and the disruption of my connection to place throws me completely off my center. I know I probably wasn’t the most fun to be with over the last week – moving makes me really crabby. This time, though, the past few years experiences have made me realize I’m going to be ok. I already am ok. Perhaps I’m even grand. I’m not waking up with stomach gripping fear that literally makes me gag. I’m not losing weight from stress. I’m breathing and trusting, and healing. I’m healing. And I’m thankful.

Remember, that return to community that was so important to me in December of 2013? God has answered that prayer tenfold and I’ve found wonderful opportunities to reconnect with old friends. Friends who were traveling, friends who are in school, friends who have also found their way home, back to their roots. Friends who seek out groundedness and peace and giving and look at the world through a critical lens. Friends who come over to help move, or bring dinner to share, or tell me to wipe a tear from my eye. I am not sure where we will go as a group, as dreams take all individuals in a multitude of directions. For now, though, there is so much beauty in connection with others. Look at this motley crew of people who showed up to help us move, because they care about me and they care about Dylan and they invest in friendship. They breathe fresh hope for human connection into my heart. For all those friends not pictured here, you, too, know who you are.


I’m ecstatic about the beauty of healing, of progress, and the opportunity to reflect about growth. You don’t know what blossoms in that painful experience of sprouting new shoots until the flower has bloomed. Have I bloomed? I’m not quite sure.

What gives you anxiety? How about affirmations of healing?

For Everything You Have Missed

Growing up, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. The joy started in the morning as my mom would rise early and I would be woken up by the obnoxiously loud whole wheat grinding in the wheat grinder (Mom, is that a thing?) as she set out to make home made cinnamon rolls. I would trounce downstairs, make frosting for the treats, and settle in to watch those glorious balloons float by on “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” I got to spend time with my cousins who are more like the sisters I never had. We ate huge meals, well huge for an 8 year old, and had pretty place settings, and created one of a kind, original holiday skits to perform for our parents. I wore velvet vests, and pants with tassels or leggings with stirups, and sometimes even a matching outfit with my mom. You know, think child of the 90’s. We would go around the table and be forced to say what we were grateful for that year before we could dig in. As an 8 year old, perhaps this was frustrating. You know, my Pillsbury Crescent Rolls were getting cold.

Now, as an adult, I love those beautiful traditions, and those memories, and look forward to incorporating many components of my childhood Thanksgiving into whatever traditions we create as a new little family. I think it is funny how in America we lovingly call a day of intended gratitude “Turkey Day”. I sent Facebook shout outs to those I couldn’t be with this year and lovingly reminded my family that if I was with them, I would be yelling jokes like these at the table (thank you BuzzFeed).

I’ve spent a few Thanksgiving holidays away from home now, but this one, to me felt a bit more official. My parents went to Texas to see family and my husband had to work, so we were able to spend the day, and the extended weekend with my wonderful in-laws. My brother stayed at home and cooked for friends. My cousins’ family did their own thing because all of them were flying in from various parts of the country. I didn’t watch the parade and I did not make cinnamon rolls. Let’s say it was because I simply do not have a whole wheat grinder.

I’ve been thinking of this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson lately and the emotional truths that are carried here. “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” This year, I missed out on traditions that shaped me, and snuggle time with my mom, and being exposed to joy that only five year old cousins can exude. However, I gained valuable time with a new extended family. I experienced a table of lovely place settings, conversation over dinner, traditional foods that were not the same to my original family. There is beauty in creating a new family and the blending of people, tradition, and heartfelt memories. I have to take a moment, too, to give space for the recognition of loss that comes with growing up and moving into new territory of officially blended holiday moments. This blending, it’s not entirely new – Dylan and I have been together for 7 years. However, the husband and wife title makes it all feel a little more official.

When I was in high school and dreaming of that “ideal man” I always said I wanted to marry into a large family. God answered that prayer and I now have almost 15 new aunts and uncles and about 25 new cousins to boot. We got to spend all of Saturday afternoon with a majority of them, and as I was standing in the kitchen of a new aunt’s house, surrounded by people who have lovingly accepted me, I got a little bit choked up. How did I get so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful legacy? One of Dylan’s cousins recently got engaged, and upon meeting her fiancé I said to him “Welcome to the Family.” I looked at Dylan as soon as the words were out of my mouth, a little afraid at my forwardness. Do I have the street cred to extend such a offer? Dylan’s uncle saw the exchange and he said to me, “Well you are officially part of us now. ” Me, a newlywed, and three month old part of the family, got to extend this offer of welcome and mean it. These people are great.

This year I missed the Thanksgiving traditions that shaped my upbringing and had an ache in my heart for those not present. I look around too, and recognize all that I have gained in extended family, in relationship, in the blending of family. I know not all can say how much they enjoy time with their in-laws or that they wish they could spend each holiday with their own parents and siblings. There is beauty in loss and in gain, and the balance of finding yourself right where you are meant to be. I missed going around the table and sharing what were were thankful for, so my list of this years gratitude is below.  What are your Thanksgiving traditions? What are you thankful for this year? Do you think Emerson is right?

Thanksgiving 2014 – Gratitude List

1) I have a husband now. I’m thankful for him, and I’m thankful for family

2) I live in Colorado – perhaps the best place on Earth – I love the mountains and the sun and the blue sky

3) We made it through wedding planning and had the best day of the year in a white dress surrounded by people I love.

4) I’ve been able to maintain friendship with some of my favorite people from high school and college

5) I’m thankful for this blogging journey and what it has done to heal my heart

6) Happy hours with my mom – we perhaps go much too often for wine and cheese after work

7) My grandma lives close and I get to spend time with her

8) Coffee – always coffee – and my new, fancy coffee maker

9) We found a new house to live in and are moving – with a lawn and a lake and a 1960’s style kitchen

10) The journey as it continues to unfold. May I be unafraid to lose something in order to gain something else

PS. I started an Instagram for the blog. Follow along @52BeautifulThings

Slow Down and Have a Beer

I did it. Bought a domain name. I wasn’t sure where this project would take me this year, but I’ve come to love these weekly reflections and so I wanted the title to be my own. For one more year, at least. Isn’t it odd how you basically lease a title on the “world wide web” for something you think you’ve created? Maybe it is more complicated than that, but I’m giving myself applause and say thanks to those who helped me figure out how to own the website http://www.52beautifulthings.com.  So, this is where you can type this blog into a browser to share my thoughts with friends, or follow along as I continue. Don’t be confused; it is still me, just sounding a little bit more “professional.”

My thoughts have been racing about what this blog could be. How do I seek out advertising? Do I want a separate Pinterest account? Is it my goal to have this develop into something huge? Don’t we all secretly, maybe, just want someone to discover us and to turn it into something grand? I can dream. This project started as a simply therapeutic exercise in processing a difficult season and has turned into such a wonderful place for me to express the journey as it continues to unfold. I think I’m going to continue and there is beauty in the fact that I still care about this project. I care quite a bit more than I thought I would.  Stay tuned for how it will develop. If you have ideas, or want to share, I would LOVE to chat.

Now, onto this week’s gifts. Coloradans are weird ok. I know we have all these wonderful reputations for being the fittest state in the nation, we are always somewhere on the top ten places to live, and people want to be here. They want to be outside, and in the breweries, and in the sunshine. The never ending sunshine. There is truth and wonder to that reputation, and every day I am thankful I live here.

But newsflash – it has been COLD the past two weeks. Under 30 and windy and snowy. Now, we are no Buffalo, New York and we are not anticipating 8 feet of snow, so I suppose I don’t have much to complain about.  However, I have been wearing layers and scraping my car, so I’ve been thankful for the beautiful thaw.

On Sunday, the sun came out for the first time in a few days (ugh, I sound like such a Colorado snob) and so we went for a walk, even thought it was cold outside. Now, we were in Boulder, so let’s back up and give you the big picture that the people who live in Boulder earn that “fittest state” title for me. I, my friends, was fine with going for a leisurely walk in the beautiful, sparkling snow. I love how my feet crunch under the snow pack, the dusting of white on the Flatirons, the sun’s rays beating down and warming me through my coat. However, the people in Boulder that I came across on our walk around the lake were wearing jogging tights, and really expensive trail shoes, and running fast, really fast, by me with their dogs. It’s people like that that make me think I don’t fully embrace the Colorado lifestyle. I like the leisurely walks at my own pace, soaking in the snow sparkles. And while their is so much beauty in a healthy lifestyle, I have to say there is beauty in “SLOWING DOWN”. Calm down all you outdoor people, you are making me feel bad about myself. There were some guys clearly over 60 doing their outdoor treks. I have no excuse when you people outpace me. Have a beer indoors – but please, please make it an Odell Brewing Company brew, perhaps a Levity,  or something from Boulder Beer.

Dylan and I frequently bicker about which town is better. We have an on-going list about which city, Fort Collins or Boulder, can outrank one another. I’m fiercely loyal to Fort Collins with its thousands of restaurants, the start of microbrews and a more grounded approach to reality. Dylan however, is fiercely loyal to Boulder with its Flatirons, and outdoor people, and love of the finer things. Stereotypes, I know, but let me tell you here today, Boulder is taking the cake on making me feel some outdoor guilt. I just simply, will never live up. I’m a Fort Collins girl, and I’ve got some hometown pride and there is beauty in being able to exist in both worlds.

Do you have hometown pride? Do you like being outdoors when the temperature dips below zero? Any ideas for the continuation of 52Beautifulthings?

Thanks for your support.

“Thermal Shock and Die”

I have a brother who is three years younger than me. When we were growing up, say oh, he was in middle school and I was in the beginning of high school, he and my dad would go off to Boy Scout camp. The trips ran Friday afternoon through Sunday mid-day. Overnights, tents, farting – you know the drill. I don’t; I wasn’t there.

While the boys were away the girls would play. And when I say “play” I mean my mom and I would camp out on the couch watching whole seasons of Gilmore Girls and eat entire pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The boys would be building snow forts, and chopping wood and starting fires and the girls would be snuggling under blankets and drinking hot chocolate and sleeping in.  These activities were never fully disclosed to the other parties upon return to family dinner on Monday nights. My mom and I would communicate with a smile about how sluggish we were and the boys would laugh and laugh about their adventures, keeping their inside jokes to one-liners, never letting us in to each others secrets.

However, there must have been one spectacular Boy Scout lesson that my brother had to share that is really coming to mind tonight. Before I get there, though, I feel I’ve got to give you some background info. For those of you who know my brother, it’s pretty obvious that we are polar opposites. He is loud and really funny and personable – hates being at home on any evening of the week. I, on the other hand, love me some quiet time, a cup of soup, a mug of tea, and hanging with my mom (nothing new here – did you read what I just wrote above?)

One weekend, in the winter, my brother came running through our house after tearing open the front door, leaving the freezing air to seep into our front room, clomping ever so loudly down the stairs to our basement abode. He had to share his Boy Scout preparedness lesson – all that one could do too prevent thermal shock. Skills, I imagine, that are incredibly necessary for winter survival. Something my fourteen year old self was NOT concerned about, as I did not plan on ever going camping in any weather below 55 degrees at night. Too be honest, I still do not.

I don’t remember the story, exactly, all I remember is the punch line of his story – that weekend, he was SO concerned, that he was going to “Get Thermal Shock and Die.” If you know my brother, ask him to say those five words because his tone is wonderfully threatening, wise and sarcastic. I can not get a recording here, but I do know that one-liner became my mom’s go to for reminding us to get gloves, wear coats, and bring a hat as the weather got colder. You MUST prepare for any weather, because you do not want to “Get Thermal Shock and Die.” It’s a family line now, a lesson imparted, and a reminder that my brother and I handle things ever so differently.

Tonight, I sit in my apartment and am full of gratitude as the weather drops below zero. November morphed into freezing weather and snow in 4 hours, as it often does in Colorado, and I seem to have forgotten what snow actually feels like. Yesterday, as the temperature dropped so did our thermostat. The little machine stopped working and before bed it was 59 degrees. It was a night of flannel sheets, and two comforters, and hoodies. I am so thankful for a responsive landlord who drove up quickly to fix it. Mostly, though, I was struck by the simple beauty of a bed, and extra blankets, and responsive problem solvers who care to take care of us.

I was channeling my mom as I got dressed to leave this morning. Gloves, check. Hat, check. Coat, check. No thermal shock here, not yet. I went about my day, warm at work, and nestled into routine. I got home, made soup, and could take a warm shower. Our thermostat was running. However, as I sat down to write, our pilot light went out on our fireplace right before I turned on the computer. There goes the idyllic writing in front of the fire place experience. Maybe I should stop shooting for idyllic writing sessions? Instead, I’m focusing on the beauty of a bountiful box of  hats and gloves to choose from. Not everyone is so lucky. Not to get morbid here, but I am thankful that I can just joke about “Thermal Shock” in jest, because I know, all too much, that not everyone can laugh that concern off.

I’m cleaning out my closet and donating my extra coats to Homeless Gear, because they need it. People, my friends, are cold and freezing and trying to stay warm, and I am so fortunate, that I can just turn that one-liner into a funny voice in my head. So, here is my PSA, donate your unused coats and warm clothes to those that need it. Do some research, find a place, help a person, warm some hands. I’ve got a big heart, I think about these things and want you to think about them too.

This week I’m settling into the beauty of bundling up, snow flakes and the cold, quiet that snow creates. I’m loving the twinkle lights that got lit for the holiday season downtown. They make my slow drive home much more enjoyable.


I’m setting into the beauty of gratitude this season and asking myself how can I give back what I have been given. And how can I stay warm? Do you have any family one-liners that you can laugh about? What about things you take for granted? How do you like to give back during this time of the year?

Belly Laughs

There is a beautiful store in my town. You walk in off of a busy downtown street and are immediately embraced by cool colored walls, stones that soothe, wood floors that ground you in their space. The fabrics are soft, and delicate, and swish when you touch them on the hangers. I walk slowly, touching items, holding, grasping, smelling. Pillows and candles and furnishings delight the senses. I can not afford much of anything in that store, but I can walk in the doorway and be instantly calmed into the state of blissful desire for nice things. Someday, maybe, I will be able to stomach the cost of fine, fine, furnishings, but for now, Rain Boutique, you give me such joy in just browsing.

I found this little bag there this weekend, and took a picture, because I want the words to be my mission in life. My targeted goal of re-grounding and purpose. I can’t buy the bag, but I can adopt the mantra. Like I’ve said before, there’s a lot of bad out there, but if you look, there’s sure a lot of beauty, too.


What a responsibility though, isn’t it? To look for the beautiful things? I find myself getting caught up in the nags and annoyances and pulls in direction of every day life. I vent about my co-workers, my car, my missing socks. The list could go on and on if we let it, and frankly, I think many people default to nag mode. Myself included. So Elise, I see your words and accept them as a challenge. Bring on the beautiful, bring on the life.

This past week, as you all know, included Halloween. Historically, not my favorite holiday. It feels like a lot of effort to commit to something that pushes me out of my comfort zone and into a world of monsters and masks. Seriously, I hate masks. Nice ones, friendly ones, gorillas, or the angel of death, they all FREAK ME OUT. So, no thanks to going to bars or parades, or out in public with those unidentified people. This year, though, my friend had a Harry Potter party. Nerds unite! I’m in my mid twenties, but that wizard still speaks to my heart. I committed to the costume, Dylan did too, and we set out to Denver to be with some of my dearest friends. Dress up we did.


Maybe it was one of things where you had to be in on an inside joke, but when I saw my friend’s efforts and magical characters my heart was warmed. My friend wore stilts and size 52×32 pants to pull off the best Hagrid I have ever seen. We drank poly juice potion and butter beer, and we laughed. We ate nasty flavored jelly beans and laughed. I haven’t laughed that hard in a really long time. Out in public people thought we were odd, and in the local Dicks Sporting Goods, the staff were not amused at our request for Quaffles or Quidditch supplies. It didn’t matter, we were amused. And when we loaded Hagrid into a bed of a truck to go out, I thought I was going to pee my pants.

You are probably reading this and not getting it, and that’s ok. I got it and it made me laugh. Laughter brings joy and that is beautiful. Being myself amongst friends is beautiful. Belly laughs are beautiful. I need to laugh more, to focus on the good, to remember that it is a mission and a choice to laugh or to nag, to dress up or opt out, to engage or be fearful.

In an effort to make you laugh here is a WAY off topic YouTube Video that makes me laugh. Well actually, here are a few. One is a parody of something I think I self consciously struggle with. The other is just hilarious. See if you can figure out which is which, and maybe that will make you laugh too.

Do you allow yourself to laugh? What happens when you default into nag mode?

Little Nuggets of Promise

I’m not good at mornings. I like staying up late and sleeping in if I can. My plan for today was to get up at 6, cozy in to my kitchen with a cup of coffee and write as the sun came up. Doesn’t that sound nice and romantic and what a writer should do? Soaking in those perfect moments of solitude to reflect on life as the worlds rubs its sleepy eyes.

I think I pressed the snooze button 12 times and here I am at 7:50 am just getting started. I’m making this a priority this morning, but it likely means “hat day”, if you know what I mean. I do have coffee made by our new coffee maker which I am so excited about. First world beauty, is that a thing? I guess it is, and the convenience of this programable coffee maker is fabulous! I put the grinds in at night, and presto it makes me my beautiful addictive nectar that gets me going each day. I joke because we now have every method to make a cup of joe. I’ll probably still go to Starbucks, and the coffee shop across from work, but I shouldn’t. I just adore the convenience of this little machine, the routine it provides, the status of adulthood that radiates proudly in my kitchen.

Rave and rave about this machine, I could. I know, beauty in an appliance? How trite. Don’t discount that wonder that comes from the kitchen counter. I am thankful for technology that brings comfort to my daily routine. Sometimes, I stop to ponder how fabulous the world actually is.  Every thing in my kitchen, from the coffee maker to the little bright light bulb in my refrigerator, was created and designed by human intelligence. That’s so neat! The clothes I put on my back, the hairbrush I use to groom, the toothpaste I use to scrub my chompers – all of that was made up by a person and engineered and manufactured and made usable. That’s pretty incredible.  It is easy to focus on all the wrong doings humans create; the accidents, the horror unto one another and unfortunate consequences of quick action. Those exist, sure as heck, but so do little wonders. Remember the book, “The Way Things Work”, by David Macaulay and Neil Ardley, that you used to read when you were a kid? I loved that book and its illustrations and explanations. I ask myself what happened to my wonder at the world? Have I let it be squashed by disappointment and disheartening news? I hope not. There is so much beauty, only when we let it become a part of our day.

This week we carved pumpkins in preparation for Halloween. I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween, but pumpkin carving, that is what I live for. I’m not particularly skilled and my exercise typically involves a cut out pattern of some sort, but the process is fun and full of delightfully slimy gook. I had friends over to partake in the festivities, made a huge batch of chili and got down to work. Here are our results:


The weather has been unseasonably warm this week, breaking records and causing our creations to shrivel like little old ladies with no teeth. They sit on my porch silently screaming, “How many days ’til we get to rest? This smiling is exhausting us!” Their dropping faces remind me of going to the dentist, or getting braces put on when you have your mouth open for hours and your jaw starts shaking. Hang in there little guys, just a few more days until Halloween. Joy from pumpkins is short lived.


More amazement, too, comes from the little nuggets of promise mixed in with the slime. I roasted the seeds this year, for the first time on my own. Usually, that’s a job my mom masters, but I gave it a whirl this season. The results were quite excellent – maybe the trick is boiling the seeds in salt water first. Here is the simple recipe that I used. So while my pumpkins may be shrinking to their end, I’ve got their legacy on my kitchen counter and my snack size zip block bag full of their gifts in my work bag. Find ways to carry beauty with you, create reminders that things are good, and wondrous, and worth exploring.

Did you carve a pumpkin? I want to see.

She’s Back!

I cried a little tonight. We are working on joining accounts and it made me emotional to know a part of that independence in my life has ended. Or something like that. This joining does not bother my spouse at all. Bother, perhaps, is a strong word. It doesn’t particularly bother me, it just makes me emotional. What bothers me is the big VOID in my old id that seems to be sending a more patriarchal message that my original identity and maiden name are gone, only to be consumed by marriage. I know this is not how my spouse and I approach marriage, and that those four letters do not reflect our attitudes towards life partnership. That VOID stamp, though, that bothers me.

I had lunch with a friend this week and she was joking around saying that after her wedding next summer she is going to joke, “Oh, I can vote now. I’m married.” You have to understand her and you have to understand me and be able to look back at the absurdity of institutions and how we exist inside of them, and how we can laugh within them. It is a balance isn’t it? Or maybe I’m just sensitive.

This week was full of unanticipated delights. I love delightful things. Sunday evening we headed to Denver in the pm for a concert. The weekend was restful, the Broncos were playing (they won by the way), I would have been content being an introvert and staying home. I’m glad I was coaxed out of my comfort zone and we got to listen to a wonderful musician, Noah Gundersen. I do not feel I can adequately explain or critique him in words. This man and his band communicate with such passion and in a way that is unassuming and challenging all at the same time. I want to have coffee with him, to pick his brain about religion, family, and his outlook on the world. I’ve never left a concert feeling calm and content the way I did on Sunday evening. He has a gift and he chooses to share it, and I wish him the best of luck in doing so. Here is a video of my favorite of his songs.

Music has an ability to evoke such an intense spectrum of emotion. In two hours, Noah seemed to capture them all. Check him out, buy a cd, drink some red wine. Combine the three for a fabulous few hours. He has so much beauty to offer.

Remember my post Heart Balm from a few months ago? I mentioned Marcel the Shell and my ridiculous obsession with a cartoon shell that warms my heart over and over. Well, guess what? She is back! Marcel the Shell has her third installment and does not disappoint. Take a moment, get in touch with your inner child, and giggle at this delightful success story of mistake turned wonderful. Thank you Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp for bringing such an enchanting character.

What was enchanting to you this week? What can music do for you?