2014

We are the Ones

Who has seen the movie Chocolat? The one with Johnny Depp where the gypsy woman comes to a conservative town and sets the world on a tilt by opening a sensual chocolate shop in the middle of Lent. The treats she concocts make your mouth water, and the need for a truffle, or hot chocolate has never manifested as much as it does when you are watching that film. It’s a great movie. It’s even better when that little chocolate shop, or perhaps a slightly less sensual version, plants itself into my town.

This weekend we tried Nuance Chocolate and had a lovely experience. I am never one to turn down an afternoon treat. Life is too demanding to not allow yourself little indulgences every once in awhile. So Saturday afternoon, we ventured down the street to try a new treat. Big windows and display cases filled with small morsels of chocolate invite you in. Rustic brick walls and wood floors invite you to take a seat and just settle in to watch and decide where to start. We invited our taste buds to experience the chili pepper dark bar. Let me just say, it has my vote. I think the little business perhaps has a way to go, but I am excited to stop by as winter afternoons approach and try some sipping chocolate, or a taster bar, or even, perhaps, a truffle should a bad day present itself. Sorry I didn’t take more photos, but you can follow the small business at @nuancechocolate.

Treats, my friend, are beautiful.

Too, in the midst of a world that seems to be crumbling, I was comforted by the words of author and activist Alice Walker this week. Our staff team at work rotates sharing positive encouragement to one another and this month it was my turn to share. I came across her series of essays, We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For – Inner Light in a Time of Darkness when a professor shared her writings in a commencement speech at my college graduation. Women’s Studies commencement of course. I bought that book several years ago, and still turn to this woman’s wise words for grounding and empathy in a complex and intricate world.  This is the bit that I chose to share with my colleagues this week.

“It was the poet June Jordan who wrote ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for’. Sweet Honey in the Rock turned those words into a song. Hearing this song, I have witnessed thousands of people rise to their feet in joyful recognition and affirmation. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for because we are able to see what is happening with a much greater awareness than our parents or grandparents, our ancestors could see. This does not mean we believe, having seen the greater truth of how all oppression is connected, how pervasive and unrelenting, that we can ‘fix’ things. But some of us are not content to have a gap in opportunity and income that drives a wedge between rich and poor, causing the rich to become ever more callous and complacent and the poor to become ever more wretched and humiliated. Not willing to ignore starving and brutalized children. Not willing to let women be stoned or mutilated without protest. Not willing to stand quietly by as farmers are destroyed by people who have never farmed, and plants are engineered to self-destruct. Not willing to disappear into our flower gardens, Mercedes Benzes or sylvan lawns. We have wanted all our lives to know the Earth, who has somehow obtained human beings as her custodians, was also capable of creating humans who could minister to her needs, and the needs of her her creation. We are the ones” (Walker, pg 3).

I’m encouraged, and challenged and a little bit scared of how Walker enthusiastically calls us to action. The world may feel unmanageable and like it is falling to pieces, but we have a say in how we want to participate. What we want to feel passionate about. What we want to admit that we have connection to. There is beauty in responsibility, in accountability, and in examining where do I fit in this big, complex world. I like thinking critically, even when it seems insolvable. Do you ever think about these things? How about afternoon treats?

Just How Lovely It Is

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I saw this picture today. Somebody posted it on Facebook. Is it a picture? It’s not quite a meme. I don’t know. It caught my attention. I’ve always been a lover of Fall. The pumpkin spice lattes, the crisp leaves, the perfect temperature with brisk mornings and sunny afternoons. October is my favorite month. I’ve got the pumpkin carving planned, and the chili in the crockpot even though it’s still over seventy five degrees. Stereotypical white girls get made fun of for their pursuit of coffee and scarves and boots and the delightful crisp air. No one really mentions death. Then I came across this picture. It speaks shocking truth. Sometimes, things have to die, and we have to let go, and that process is beautiful.

Ahh, here comes the extended nature metaphor. Really though, I’ve been thinking about change and how it sneaks up on us, and I’ve been reflecting on where we’ve been and where we are going. This week, I celebrated one year at my current job. One year of stability in location and yet, a year of amazing change in an organization. Good change, but at times emotional, and challenging, and questioning change. I can’t believe a year has passed since my tearful days of a nightmare job and extreme anxiety about what I was going to do with my life. I can’t believe I’ve been living back in my hometown almost eleven months. I can’t believe we planned a wedding, and I got married, and the single version of myself has died.

I’ve had to embrace the discomfort and I’ve found by letting go of what was, I can be more immersed in what is. What is continues to be good. It seems extreme to say that old ways of understanding my position in life have died – that word, death, has really strong connotations. It’s true though, isn’t it, how sometimes I have to let how things used to be die to become the next version of myself. That makes me sad, especially when how things used to be included some of my favorite people on earth, and a sense of self that I was very good at settling into. The end of a chapter, so to speak.

And rebirth, I believe, comes from the ability to say to myself, ‘Wow, I’m rather sad that chapter was over, that piece of my life complete, that death has occurred’, but isn’t that really where life lies? So complex and yet so simplistically true. What beauty lies in those flaming trees of color, in the promise of loveliness in such a tragic process.

From that mountain drive I mentioned last week

From that mountain drive I mentioned last week

This week, when I stopped to think about beautiful things, I was struggling to come up with one specific thing to write about. Except for the leaves of course, but honestly, I just came across that a few minutes ago. Here are some moments I enjoyed as well. I feel wrong leaving you to ponder beauty in death. Perhaps beauty in transition that sometimes requires us to admit that things end, chapters close, and life as you know it, may die. That doesn’t mean death has to be final. That seems more appropriate.

– My friend from college got married this weekend. What a joy it is to have a reunion with five girls so central to my life as supports in friendship and in prayer.

– I saw a bystander call an ambulance for a homeless man who was struggling. People do care about one another when you stop to take a look.

– Dylan bought me flowers for our one month anniversary. It was sweet. I like being a newlywed.

– I got my wedding pictures back. Holy schamoley, these things are gorgeous. If you need a wedding photographer, I strongly recommend Jamie Fischer, out of Boulder. Check her out here

What things are you having to let die to move on. Does this process feel excruciating, or maybe, just a little bit lovely?

Incomplete

I’m feeling insecure. Is the pursuit of beauty cliche? Does looking at leaves on a Saturday constitute as a hum drum, expected, yawn of a post? I could spend tonight writing about the Colorado Aspens in September. Or maybe, even, the beauty of access to cold medicine because my head has been stuffed to the brim with gook. It happened, the wedding melt down and stress let down led to a stuffy nose and a brain full of fog. It happens to me at the end of something big. I could count on it during the end of finals week in college, at the end of any major accomplishment. The bog of a cold snuck up on Thursday and hasn’t quite left. That doesn’t feel beautiful – actually quite the opposite.

Tonight, I suppose, I want to talk about the beauty of reclaiming unanswered situations. This is a theme I talk about because I think it helps my sanity. It helps me feel grounded, and makes me feel that I have some semblance of control in my life when change happens. Like I’ve said, I don’t like change. Dylan and I were talking at dinner about some next decisions we have to make, and we said maybe, as you grow up, you get more comfortable making decisions individually, without worrying about all of the pieces being in place. Get more comfortable, not get better at putting together the whole puzzle perfectly. Dang it, I wish it was the other way around.

I feel incomplete right now. My to do list at work seems to be growing rather than shrinking. There is ambiguity in a new job title, and new responsibilities, and the realization that having a job as an adult means having responsibilities where the buck stops at me. Thats new, and I don’t know how to completely fill that space. I feel incomplete in changing my name – there are so many pieces of an identity I have to get straightened out. I feel incomplete in knowing where we are going to live next year, and which commuter town we should go to to make life more fair for my spouse.  I feel incomplete in sharing money with a new person. I feel anxious that I have waves of acceptance that I’ll probably never feel complete either. I mean what does that mean, because like I predicted before, achieving one goal often leads to the opening of another door and new opportunity. Overall doesn’t this lend to a circle of ‘incompleteness?’

So tonight, I sit in this in between space, and reflect on this meditation, and know that God will continue to bring us good things. That maybe clarity will develop, and maybe it won’t, but we have been given the grace to make good decisions in the mean time. Meditations are beautiful and being nice to myself, even when feeling incomplete, is quite extraordinary.

CULTIVATING MINDFULNESS

written by Jon Kabat-Zin

1. The real meditation is how you live your life.

2. In order to live life fully, you have to be present for it.

3. To be present, purposefully bring awareness to your moments – otherwise you may miss many of them.

4. You do this by paying attention and non-judgment to whatever arises.

5. This requires a great deal of kindness toward yourself, which you deserve.

6. It helps to keep in mind that good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, the present moment is the only one in which you are alive. Therefore, it’s the only time to learn, grow, see what is really going on, find some degree of balance, feel and express emotions such as love and appreciation, and do what we need to do – even in the face of pain and suffering.

7. So it is a gentle love affair with the present moment.

8. We do that through learning to rest in awareness of what is happening inwardly and outwardly, moment by moment– “being” rather than “doing.”

9. Formal and informal meditation practices are specific ways in which you can ground, deepen, and accelerate this process.

10. Realize that this moment is already very special – because you are alive and awake in it.

11. You have a lot of moments so treat each one as a new beginning — there are always new moments to open up to if you miss some.

12. We do all this with a huge amount of self-compassion.

13. You are not your thoughts or opinions, your likes or dislikes. They are more like weather patterns in your mind that you can be aware of – like clouds moving across the sky – and so you don’t have to be imprisoned by them.

14. Befriending yourself in this way is the adventure of a lifetime.

Swedish Fish for the Win

I can’t see my kitchen table again. Well I can see the table. I can’t see the surface of the table. I can’t explain it, but this time, this mess seems more enjoyable. It’s a mess of completion, accomplishment, and arrival at the finish line. Here are the things I’ve got going on within that surface.

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1) Clearly, Swedish Fish were the most popular candy evidenced by the fact that we are still drowning in Starbursts and Skittles. My favorite candy wins the popularity contest.

2) Our wedding centerpieces were beautiful – but made even more attractive with flowers in the blue bottles. The white box with holes doesn’t have quite the same charm. I must invest in some floral arrangement components soon.

3) I’ve got a long list of thank you notes to write. I also need to buy stamps.

4) I’m in the midst of a name change. It’s an odd middle to be existing in. The transition from one name to another leads to new hesitant introductions and insecure laughs when I state my name. Who is this person with a new identity? I feel I’m living my way into it a little bit. Now I get to go wait at the DMV to make it final.

5) Again I am washed over with love and blessings as we set out in this new beginning. Its rather freeing to say over and over again, ‘yup, we did it.’

My list isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but there is a lot laid out on this table. Small objects that symbolize a culmination and yet a wonderful beginning too. Forgive me, I reflect often.

This week was a busy one, with many adjustments and catching up to do. I did notice, though, the simplicity in a game of cards. Cribbage to be exact. Now let me back up here. Cribbage gets a bad reputation as ‘an old man’s game’. I guess I fail to see the problem with that reputation – personally I really like it. I was first taught how to play at a friends house in third grade. I was not good. Then later along the line, my dad brought me up to speed.  My dad is good. Not just good, really good. And he is competitive. Not in an out loud obnoxious, rude way. No, more in a passive, ‘I’m going to kick your butt and you know it so I will just sit here and smile’ way. He still helps me count my cards and make sure I’ve fully accounted for everything in my hand, but he will still win.

Friday night I got to play cribbage with my dad, at my grandma’s house, while Dylan was away. We had pizza, like they do every Friday these days, and it was a nice reminder that while significant events happen and life can change, I can still play cribbage with my dad. And yes, he still won.

Then, this week, at a meeting for work at the coffee shop nearby I walked in and noticed two older gentleman sitting at a small table near the window. Here come’s that reputation for the game. They were playing cribbage. Their cards were large faced and the numbers huge, and they used a shuffling machine to cut the deck. Oh man, did they warm my heart. I don’t know anything about these men, and I’m hoping they were friends, and that they are happy. What that observation reminded me is that there is comfort in a game of cards, comfort in connection, and comfort in continuing to look for beauty when life changes and you enter new territory.

What comforts you when you enter uncharted territory? When you look around at what is surrounding you what does that tell you about your life?

It’s Going to Get Better Than This

I like Country music. I admit it. Much to Dylan’s chagrin, twangy ballads are often known to be heard coming from the speakers of my car. Over the past two weeks, I couldn’t help but think about Brad Paisley’s song, “It Did”. Take a listen here.

Now,  we are at the stage of life that probably only meets his second verse as I just put on that white dress, and our family shed lots of loving tears. What caught me about this song during this wonderful blur of two weeks, is that, I thought, ‘it couldn’t get better than this’. I am afraid to label wedding week and wedding day as the best of my life. Remember my previous post about my aversion to “the best years of my life”? If I label that day, or that week, as the best, where will we go from there.

Regardless of labels, these days were wonderful. When Dylan and I picked a wedding date, for the second time, my dad gave a toast and he said, ” to many great days.” We had at least 14 really great days. I felt surrounded by love, shed a few tears, and am so confident in my choice to walk down the aisle.

Sharing a dance with your dad as he spins you around in your wedding dress is beautiful. Looking out on a church full of people who came to support you is beautiful. Having your mom kiss your forehead as you put on a bridal gown, that’s beautiful. Holding flowers and watching months of planning come together is beautiful.

I know everybody always loves their own weddings, but really, it was the best party I’ve ever been to. Think dance party, with vanilla lattes, pasta, candy, cannoli, the man I love, my friends and family there too. It doesn’t get better than that.

And then it did. We went for a week to Napa Valley and Sausalito outside of San Francisco and got to leisurely taste our way through some beautiful country side. I’ve never seen so many vines, so many grapes, so much wine. Personally, I’m not a huge drinker, and actually, I’m a little bit allergic to wine. Two days in Napa quickly changes an attitude, however, and I could become a casual afternoon ‘taster’ if I didn’t have to work every day. We got to spoil ourselves on winery tours, and a few delicious splurge meals, and learned how to navigate GPS systems in unknown areas. Dylan and I actually communicate pretty well when driving around in places we’ve never been before. First relationship test as a married couple- check. I was amazed at the production of one small little valley, and the stories of courage and bravery that made Napa into what it is today. Did you know that region wasn’t even really famous until 1972? Now its happiness rankings beat out Disneyland’s.

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This was the bistro at a hotel that cost $1500 a night. Needless to say, we only enjoyed an ice tea on the porch. What a view

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Isn’t he a stud. A new husband fresh out of the gates. Ignore my thumb in the lens.

The process of wine making is beautiful. Rest is beautiful. A break, a much needed break, is immensely beautiful. Fresh perspective and sun shine and new beginnings and celebration are beautiful. And knowing that there are many good days to come, and that our shaky little new married legs will strengthen with the support of one another, and the ones we love, is beautiful. It’s going to get better than this, but what a wonderful beginning. Below are some more pictures from the trip.

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Huzzah!

We had a wedding. I’m a wife. That’s pretty neat. I’m on my honeymoon so taking a small break, but here is a picture that I love . More to come, more beauty to explore, but for now, I’m working on letting this new title soak in.

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Huzzah!

The Laundry is Done

The laundry is done. All of it. There is nothing in my hamper, nor in Dylan’s. I don’t want to put on pajamas, because that perfect status of “all taken care of” will be incomplete. Maybe I’ll sleep in my clothes.

The floors are swept and mopped – for probably the first time in a few months (sorry landlords). The toilets are scrubbed, and the dishes are clean, put away in the cabinet. I can see the surface of my kitchen table. The glass on our coffee table is sparkling. We cleaned.

What is thrilling about this state of my house is that I took the intentional effort to regroup and make myself feel a little bit better about launching into a huge week of my life. Huge emotions, huge to do lists, huge excitement. Lots of people and feelings and food and items to carry. Fun items. I absolutely am thrilled that Dylan finds priority in these tasks as well. That lemony scent of floor cleaner is just as soothing to him as it is to me – I think we can thank his mom for that one.

Don’t, however, look in our bedroom, because that seems to be staging for quite the ordeal. We’ve got piles of programs, and candy, and boxes of wine, and gifts and shoes to bring to this location or that. The bubbling anticipation of good things to come hums in those piles, vibrating with the minutes that tick by as we head towards the words “I do”. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure “I Do” is actually written into our vows. Maybe I should look into that.

I feel really good right now, in this moment of ordinary chores, in tasks that I seemingly hate, because they bring familiarity. There is so much beauty in the pause. “All Praise to the Pause”, as Alice Walker would say. It was beautiful to have a break today – from work (slightly, I still went in to get things off my other to do lists), from crowds, from other people. There is beauty in being able to go to bed at 10 pm because I want to, and beauty in my down comforter tucked in next to my ears. There is beauty in the breeze that blows through our open windows cooling down the apartment. There is beauty in this pause, tonight, before the hustle and bustle.

Last night, we went to a family gathering, and I was a little on edge. I am really nervous about being the center of attention, about answering questions and saying hello to more than 125 people. I’m anxious about pleasing people, and making sure the day goes smoothly, and that maybe, someone I love will be disappointed. Dylan told me, “You just get to rally.” I said, “What if, instead, I want to run away?” He said, “That’s not a fun choice in the midst of people that love you.” I have to remember that; they will be there because they love me. I get to be immersed in love, and joy, and maybe a few tense moments and perhaps exhaustion.

Tonight, though, there is beauty in the staging, the preparation, the pause.

We take a deep breath, and we see how it goes.

The Best Years of my Life?

You know how people say, “College was the best years of my life!”? When I was in college, I hated when people told me that. College, for me, were some of the roughest four years of my life. Academia was a breeze and I was thrilled to learn about social dynamics, structures, and inequalities. Socially, however, those years were full of personal growth, individuation, and emotional development that was difficult to process through. I quite often felt alone, and isolated, and frustrated that I wasn’t having the best time of my whole life. I didn’t like to drink those feelings away either.

However, this weekend, we went back to my old alma matter because we had a few things to take care of in town. I instantly turned into a full blown nostalgia machine. Dylan and I walked around like those obnoxious adults pointing out buildings that had changed, developments that had morphed structures into plazas, and laughed about memories that took place back when our biggest financial stress was textbooks. I was filled with Buffalo pride – embarrassingly so! It became so clear to me how people can block out the bad, and choose to remember the good, enjoyable, and funny moments that shaped you.

I am so pleased with myself, to see too, how just a few years later I have changed as an individual. I think I’ve grown more confident, more sure of myself in a world that seems big. It is a beautiful thing, to return to a place, and to see that perhaps, you’ve out grown the you who you once were when walking those paths and crossing under the stone walkways.

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We also got to go to Boulder’s iconic Pearl Street Mall and walk around enjoying the Colorado blue sky in the bustle of people on a Saturday morning. The walking mall is typically full of people displaying their talents, and asking for money. I ran into an interesting gentleman playing a really neat drum called a hang. Stereotypically, he screams of Boulder – bare foot and with dreads in his hair. After a conversation, he became so much more than a visual stereotype. Along the way, Dylan and I stopped to talk to this kind man about his instrument.

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I loved so many parts of our interaction. Before he played the drum for us, Ryan explained to us that he does his best to match the rhythm of the music to the pace of people’s feet as they walk by. He intentionally tried to connect to the people around him in a way of perceiving others and giving back their energy in musical form. His first little beat was slow, and steady, and indicative of a Saturday morning stroll. The second melody he played, however, he described as what was going on in his head. It was fast, and staccato, and his hands moved around the smooth surface in a tizzy.

Isn’t it amazing how we can choose which energy to engage in? We thanked him for playing, and walked in the other direction. After we got a block away I couldn’t help but think that his intentional choice to observe others, absorb their energy, and reflect back in peaceful ways of musical talent was a marvelous practice. We turned around so I could ask him his name and if I could write about him here. Look above – his face is full of pure joy. So thank you, Ryan Post, for giving me something to think about on Saturday. Thank you for sharing a brief glimpse of who you are with us, and for choosing to be intentional in the energy you put out into the universe.

How can you be more intentional with your choices about what you are giving to the universe? What is worth matching energy, and where do you instead take care of yourself?

We found the old VHS

You know who is a genius? Kristen Wiig. Seriously, that girl makes me laugh in so many situations. This morning, when looking at my Twitter feed at 6 am as I waited for my boss to pick me up for an all day training, I came across this funny meme (is that how you spell it? I’m too tired, I can’t think straight). The tweet was referencing improvement at work, but I felt it resonate deep into my bones. At least in a humorous way.

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With two weeks to go until the wedding, Kristen’s character from the movie “Bridesmaids” is channeling my inner insecurities. The little perfectionist inside me is yelling the same sentence. Replace Carol with Katie and whelp, you’ve got it. I’ve been staying up late and paying bills at night and making to do lists like a mad woman. My mom is going out of town next week (no judgement people – she’s a wonderful mother) but this means a lot of final lists and conversations about what to delegate to my dad. I’m sending lots of texts to my future mother in law and talking to vendors and I need to breathe at work.  It’s Wednesday night, not Monday, when I usually post and according to WordPress it’s Thursday morning from wherever they keep track, so yup, I’m behind here too. I wanted to take a moment to reflect and to post. Please forgive me that this is my space to process and vent and purge all thoughts wedding. It’s where I’m at.

We knew August was going to go fast and it is flying. This week I was able to pause just a little to reflect on the beauty of home grown produce. Isn’t it fun to see gardens yield something you can actually eat. I’m not going to attempt to post recipes here but we did make a mean green bean salad with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and a delicious dressing. The crunch of green beans are delightful.

Too, the easiest dinner is home made bruschetta. Thank you to Giada for a great Bruschetta Recipe! I used the little cherry tomatoes that we have been growing on our porch in tiny pots. I am SO proud of these stinkin’ tomatoes that seem to want to grow every which way. Maybe next year we will have a lawn. It’s nice to slow down at night and have a glass of wine and a quality meal. I guess I do have that priority together still.

Dylan had a birthday yesterday! Poor guy is doing a fabulous job of letting his birthday be, well, not a huge deal this year. We did make time though to go out for a nice dinner and to enjoy each other outside of the house. We splurged a little, and it felt extravagant to be together and talk about ‘us’ before the madness of all of this settles in. Good madness, but a little overwhelming.

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Over wine and a few courses of dinner I realized I have been with this man through so much. We started dating when I was 19. 19! That’s crazy. And here we are, more than a few years later, dreaming up ways to spend our money and formalize a life together. It made me remember when my biggest stress was registering for college classes; now the stressors are different, more adult, more like insurance plans and 401ks and institutionalized paperwork like marriage licenses. It makes me feel immensely blessed to have such a great person to help me figure things out.

Tonight, Dylan was away bottling beer for the wedding and so I went to eat with my parents. I wanted to watch “Father of the Bride”, Steve Martin style circa 1990 something. Long story short I couldn’t figure out the old VHS tape (yes, my dad still has the VHS) and this movie is not on Netflix streaming, and not in iMovie and so we settled for the 1950’s version with Elizabeth Taylor. Not as funny, but the story line is shockingly the same. Many of the lines are word for word.

Here’s a little back story on how much I love that 1990’s movie. When I was in elementary school my dad taped the movie on VHS from tv ( same tape as mentioned above) and I watched it over and over. It was my frame of reference for how weddings could be, complete, I suppose with the family freak outs over hot dog buns. Apparently, I watched the tape so many times, I wore it out, as evidenced by tonight. When I got engaged, my mom bought me a blender as our first wedding gift. I come from ‘ a long line of over reactors’ you see.  If you don’t get that, you better watch the movie – best of luck finding it.

So tonight, as my heart aches a little bit, about the anticipated excitement and changes and loss of being a daughter in the same way, I wanted to watch that movie with my parents. And we flexed and we adapted and we did the best we could with the media that was available. I know, I know, first world problem.  What struck me, however, was that my connection to comforting movies and stories and situations aren’t what are so important. All of that will change, or has changed, or is changing, and that’s ok. What matters are the social supports and love and extension and growth that comes with creating a new family. I had my mom on one side of the couch and my dad on the other, and that’s pretty neat.  I’m so excited to move forward and be a wife. And a little bit scared, and a little bit sad too, in the most complex of ways. It’s time. There is beauty in this process.

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Simple Sets of Circumstances

It feels wrong not to mention it. The loss that is sweeping the nation, and maybe even the world. I’m sad to hear that Robin Williams is gone, that he took his own life, and that we grieve the loss of one of the greats. I’m sad, too, that this icky darkness called depression continues to prevail. I know it’s a serious something; more complex that intense sadness, or loss, or a phase. It takes people down a trickling path that fades to nothing and I am sad. As someone who has depression running through my family, this loss makes me even more aware of the pervasive nature of this deep disease that can sink into us. I just want to say we will miss you. And to all of those out there who are struggling with out fortune or fame, we care about you too.

This news is making me appreciate the little things and encouraging me to create some excitement within my own day. Its the sweet moment of Dylan doing the dishes while I write (hallelujah), or the after work bike ride as we race just to be silly. It’s chocolate covered pretzels and budget meals of “fried rice” with eggs and peas and chicken because we try to save some dough. It’s the feeling that maybe we are more than just a spec on the planet, that our interactions mean something and have greater force than what we can even imagine. We each matter. We each ripple into one another’s lives and thoughts, and patterns and rituals. Who are you letting ripple into your own?

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This weekend we took a much needed break and went down to the Botanical Gardens in Denver to see the glass exhibition by artist Dale Chihuly. Even though we could have been making schedules and checking lists and being productive I forced Dylan to wake up early so we could check something off of my summer bucket list. At the gardens I took a picture of what appears to be his mission statement, and it drew me right in. Simplicity in a set of circumstances. Circumstances that appear to be dark and hot and uncomfortable. Circumstances that shape and contort and form one substance into something greater, bigger, more beautiful than it’s original form.

I guess the image of refining under fire is not a new one. We burn away the chaff, ask for God to grant us refiners fire, or purify our selves in the form of a golden phoenix. This extended metaphor in this man’s work got me thinking though, and I was so appreciative for the beautiful pieces of work he creates.

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Delightful and fun and playful these pieces are. You want to reach out and touch them, taste them to see if the vibrant colors remain as sweet as they appear. They are tactile, and have movement, and give room to interact – which I tend to think provides the best artistic experience. Both the art and the viewer get to have a relationship in interpretation. I think that’s neat. I wished the instillations allowed for you to walk through them, like the works of  Jean Claude and Christo. Maybe Dale doesn’t trust us viewers with such fragile pieces of work – I guess I wouldn’t either. Glass is much more delicate than fabric.

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It seems, at times, that sets of circumstances in all of our lives are out of control, frustrating, unmanageable. Dale got me thinking, however, maybe they are all just simple, and if we let other forces bigger than us have a hand in creating who we are meant to be, we can come into our own form of beauty, as eccentric as that may be.

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What forces are at play in your life? Are there simple moments you are thankful for today?

*All works shown done by Dale Chihuly – pictures taken by me.