2017

52 Thankfuls – 2017

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52 Things to be thankful for this year. In a sorta particular order….

  1. The Significant Other

2. The Mother

3. My brother

4. My in-laws

5. Mentors

6. Prosciutto

7. Living by the mountains

8. Family Meals

9. I was taught how to cook

10. Creative people

11. Craft Beer

12. Craft Coffee

13. Crafts

14. The Ocean

15. This Is Us

16. My House

17. Warm Bed

18. Promise of Health Insurance

19. Jobs – Connection – Purpose

20. Writers

21. Books

22. Trader Joes

23. American Family Insurance

24. Memories & Photographs

25. Collecting Dad’s things – clothes, mugs, toys

26. My good friends

27. Blog readers

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28. Instagram

29. Washing Machines – new and busted ones

30. Leadville, CO

31. People who believe they can

32. Mill City Church

33. The Silver Grill  – my seat at the counter

34. Road trips

35. The ability to opt out

36. Tattoo artists

37. Tater Tots

38. Anniversaries

39. Finally Home 

40. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

41. My French Press

42. My dog Olive

43. Homemade Pasta

44. Yoga teachers

45. Library Cards

46. Family Photos & Jamie Fischer Photography

47. The big deck at Grand Lake Lodge

48. Democrats

49. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show

50. Birthdays

51. Fresh flowers in the house

52. Fine Point Pens

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. What are you thankful for this year?

 

 

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Ode to the Eggnog Latte

It’s pretty simple this week. I choose to share a poem.

Because I’ve never met an eggnog latte I didn’t like.

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You come a teasin’ every November first

in pretty red cups, taste buds ready to burst

But you know my rule, hard deadlines a must

no holiday drinks til turkey bones turn dust.

With each pass by coffee shops, a favorite of places,

your scent escapes wafting right in our faces.

The vanilla beans mixing with nutmeg and spice

taunting, ‘You know just one sip might be nice’.

You beckon me bashfully right in the door

breaking rules, pushing boundaries just a little bit more.

“One eggnog latte” this woman requests

ignoring her scruples and feeling distressed.

The coffee comes quickly, in that beautiful cup.

One sip. Sigh. Two. Now drink it all up.

You may be bad for me, BUT you fill me with cheer.

How many magic concoctions will be consumed this year?

What’s with the Glitter?

 

My co-worker asked me today, “Katie, what’s with the glitter on your face?”

Glitter?

Ha – I guess my eyeshadow smudged. I often forget when I’m wearing eye makeup and it smears all over my face as I vigorously rub my eyes.

“Mondays call for a little magic,” I said. Co-worker laughed.

All days call for a little magic. The magic found in tasty, hot apple crisp coming out of the oven and sharing Sunday dinner with family. Magic in the comfort a puppy gives as she rests her paw on your arm as she sleeps. Magic in the ability to drive home safely, pick out and pay for fresh food, drink fresh water that comes out of my own sink.

Magic in the glinting ache of waking up on Saturday and wishing so badly I could eat breakfast with my dad. I entertained the idea of going by myself, to that diner, and sitting at the food counter. Magic in watching the grumpy men turn bread to toast on a conveyor belt.

I couldn’t do it.

Not strong enough – too afraid I’d dissolve into tears spinning on that swiveling stool. I can’t go have breakfast with dad – without dad.

You know what I mean?

I’ve got this vision that someday, when I’m a famous writer, I’ll sit on a swivel stool, sipping coffee in diners across the country and write to him, recording our stories or capturing new versions of me in ink. The crabby waitress will ask if I’m expecting someone because you know, the stool next to me is empty – with perhaps a jean jacket saving his spot – and I’ll have two mugs of coffee. One for me, one for him.

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‘Nope’, I’ll say, ‘I’m just having breakfast with my dad.’

The waitress won’t get it.

Unless she’s lost someone too. Then maybe, just maybe, she’ll fill up the cup and smile. Glitter mixing in with her bright blue eye shadow, like I used to wear in junior high.

Someday.

I couldn’t do it. So I invited my mom to breakfast, and we went to the diner – stalking other eaters like vultures so they would give up their spots at the counters. We sat on wooden stools, sipped coffee in those heavy, ceramic diner mugs, and swallowed down the  glinting aches of memory and longing with an orange juice chaser.

As I drove home, missing him, Here Comes the Sun came on the radio. Our song. Hi Daddy – I say, whenever I hear that song on the radio.

Sunlight dancing on my windshield. Glitter.

The beautiful thing about art – sometimes others speak exactly what you are thinking in their own medium. This song below captures all my questions I have about grief  – talking to those gone – where do we put our love?

 

Feeling connected through another artists’ thoughts, songs, aches.

Magic.

Is Your Glass Half Full?

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Because I believe in looking for the good.

Because I believe in feeling thankful for what we DO have.

Because I believe there is always, always, something to be grateful for.

In a world where all kinds of voices tell us to be scared, that we are not enough, that doom and gloom are coming or present, let’s take a moment to jot down what we are thankful for.

Send me your list between now and Thanksgiving and I’ll publish it here. Feel free to send in whatever format you’d like – a list – a poem – a song. Include a picture and your social media handles – or if you prefer to just include your name that works great. The important thing is to take a moment for gratitude and encourage ripples of gratitude.

Can’t wait to see what you have to share.

Yay! A Fail!

Our washing machine broke this weekend so I procrastinated on a deadline.

Set the alarm Sunday night, planning for an early morning work session to compensate.

Sleep.

I woke up late today, my dirty jeans lay on the floor. No work session.

I wore snowflake leggings because my favorite pants are dirty too, and a little bit tight. It’s not even holiday cookie season. Not entirely cute since it’s supposed to snow tomorrow.

I went down the stairs to prepare dinner in the crockpot – stay a step ahead. Twist the cap off of the red pepper flakes, shake a dash – no- that was more like a pour. SHIT! That’s too many flakes floating in the broth.

That is going to be some spicy bbq chicken.

When making coffee at work, the grounds spilled all over the counter, drops of coffee dribbling on those white snowflakes. My signature move – spilling.

All day long I worried I was smoking out my little puppy while I worked. I imagined the house filling with red pepper fumes, sort of like mace or something.

I stuttered on the phone.

Forgot my wallet in my other bag.

Arrived late to a meeting.

Focused on too many things.

Got home. Of course, the dog was fine. Texted my mom.

“How was your day?” I asked.

She went to the dentist. Note – I need to call the dentist.

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Yay!

A fail.

I stopped and smiled.

Yup – that spicy dinner was a fail.

And clean clothes must wait and smaller jeans may be a thing of the past.

I can see the imperfect in the world all the day long, but I don’t often like to acknowledge the imperfect beauty in me.

Today was my reminder to hug and to kiss myself. To give grace and permission to bend. To pinch my waist and say I love you too.

To make mistakes and forget and push hard against looming deadlines.

To go to sleep, only to try again.

Next time with less red pepper flakes.

Here’s to putting the perfect in imperfect.

 

 

To-Do or Ta-Da

Do you ever schedule time on your calendar to watch your favorite t.v. show? As of 1:16 pm on Saturday (now people, that’s right now) I’m two weeks behind on This is Us, a week behind on Grey’s Anatomy, and APPARENTLY a full season behind on Stranger Things.

I want to sit down and catch up on t.v. but then I think, well that’s lazy isn’t it when you’ve got a to-do list a mile long.

But what if watching This is Us is on my to-do list? Then I’m not lazy. Then I’m productive. So ha.

I saw on LinkedIn the other day that Gretchen Rubin was encouraging us to write “Ta-Da Lists” rather than “To-Do Lists.” Here’s her podcast. Well this is a fun idea, isn’t it? Let’s write down all the things we have accomplished. In all honestly, listening to the full podcast is on my “To-Do List” because podcasts are 40 minutes long. I like the shift in language though. I’d love to scream Ta-Da! I’ve gotten all of these things done.

For now, here is my to-do list:

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I’m sure you all have similar things on your lists, because they are reflections of lives being lived.  I know mindfulness is positive, but our culture tells us it is not sexy to have a piece of lined paper that just says “Be.” Being – that’s all I’m doing. Being. I can stay in that space for approximately three minutes before the urge to do kicks back in.

All that to say my brain feels full and the pursuit of beauty feels a little squelched by my pretty lined notebook paper with pencil notes in cascading order.

Maybe there is beauty in making lists, in sitting at a computer, in getting caught up.

Maybe there is beauty in adding fun, rest, and indulgence to the list.

Maybe there is beauty in watching This is Us.

Damn. It’s the best show on t.v. right now.

Maybe there is beauty in laughing at my own neurotic tendencies to push and push to get things done.

I watched a webinar at work this week for a new product they are pushing called Getting Things Done. A bajillion dollar industry to help people stay focused and organized. In it, the presenter told me that most people have a capacity to remember 7 (+ or – 2) things they have to accomplish at any one time. Any more than that threshold, and our brains dump it to the back.

That’s why I write things down. I’m sure though, since my list is longer than seven items, that I’m probably forgetting something.

In other news, I’m beginning to think about a creative project with grief. I’d like to connect with delightful illustrators who would be willing to help me bring my little grief gremlin idea to life. If you know of someone who is taking on new work, I’d like to chat with you! Bonus points if the artist, too, has experienced significant loss.

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No, that sounds bad – I just think an artist will understand my spark a bit more if they’ve had grief gnaw at their heart too. Please send me an email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com and I can explain my hope and vision for the project.

Now. Back to my list.

 

 

 

 

Now. Now. Now.

I’ve never been great at living in the now.

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My mom sent me this image this week as a subtle reminder to chill the heck out.

Now. Now. Now.

They say that’s all that matters. The NOW. And I want to believe them. But…

The giant BUT.

I find my over-eager brain jumping all over the place. A lot of time reflecting back to last year. To crisis. To loss. To memories of my dad. To what it felt like to be plunged underneath the churning waves of grief. To feelings of failure and uncertainty and just plain old awful.

Then I bounce back and arrive in the present again, eat my cereal, head to work. I go about my day, and today I got stuck in this moment, a memory.

Rewind six years and I’m sitting in a small theater on a college campus. Black robes swishing on a wooden chair, square cap on my head, chords of accomplishment round my neck. The tassles tickling my fingerprints as I anxiously await my turn across the stage.

A distinguished professor stood at a podium and read from Alice Walker’s book We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness. A passage from  Chapter 4. All Praises to the Pause; The Universal Moment of Reflection.

Alice Walker writes, “The moment when something major is accomplished and we are so relieved to finally be done with it that we are already rushing, at least mentally, into The Future. Wisdom, however, requests a pause. If we cannot give ourselves such a pause, the Universe will likely give it to us. In the form of illness, in the form of a massive mercury in retrograde, in the form of our car breaking down, our roof starting to leak, our garden starting to dry up. Our government collapsing. And we find ourselves required to stop, to sit down, to reflect. This is the time of “the pause,” the universal place of stopping. The universal moment of reflection.” 

The professor reminded us over-eager, naive, twenty-one year olds that life is going to hand you pauses. Big ones. Transitions between jobs, times of sickness, a move, or days when feelings too great prevent you from your greatest work, or from accomplishing anything productive at all.

Last year was darkness. Double job loss. Loss of a parent. Hours spent staring at walls wondering what to do. Loss of a hopeful political candidate. Loss of routine, of schedule, of income.

A big, fat, Pause with a capital P. A giant rippppp in my picturesque magazine cover. Horrible coming-of-age experiences where you start to realize those depictions in advertisements lie. Not everyone’s parents get to die in their sleep at the age of 92.

Ding. Back in today. I looked at my flipped through copy of Walker’s book and was drawn to the chapter titled “When life descends into the pit” – ha. Maybe I should reread that one too.

This week I also read The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.  They spend 250 pages exploring the science and magic of moments. Why do we remember some for years, and easily let thousands of moments of our lives slip through our noodle brains and onto the floor? What qualities come together to delight and make us feel important, accomplished, worthy humans? Read the book. Their analysis is pretty sound.

I’ve thought of that commencement speech often, and have wondered why that one moment left such a big mark on my perspective of life. I’m sure the graceful academic was trying to subtly say to eager graduates, ‘Hey, cool your jets. It’s ok if you move home for a few months, or wait tables, or feel lost in this break.’ I’ve carried this moment with me, though,the bigger implication always in the back of my mind.

Things take time. They fall apart. We must pause. I’ve trusted this truth in my journey and shared the chapter with friends, and my husband, and other people feeling lost.  This passage gave me permission to accept and even expect the pause. As painful as they can be. Remembering, too, that we will be able to press play once again.

In the last Grey’s Anatomy episode (yes, I still watch that show) a doctor had a brain tumor removed. After the operation, she is frantic to see her latest brain scans, certain that something is still wrong. Her kind, patient friend brings instead, her tumor in a jar. “You’re looking for this,” he says (and I paraphrase here), “You’ve been waiting for the last shoe to drop for so long that it’s hard for you to believe that everything is ok. That the thing causing you pain and suffering is no longer yours. It’s gone.”

Her body was growing against her, her relationships suffered, she was most afraid to believe that maybe, just maybe, things are ok now that the mass has been removed. I turned to Dylan as we watched and I said, “I can relate to that.” To that feeling of expecting the worst because it is easier than placing hope in the shaky notion that maybe things are ok again. I have a hard time believing my pain can be gone.

Because when trauma happens, in whatever form, it takes a hell of a lot of time to trust the universe again. Grief is never gone, but its intensity lessens.

I’m no longer on pause. Dylan is working again and I’ve got a new full-time job I love. I’m doing side-work I feel makes a difference. I struggle to find time to write this blog post. My family is healing, slowly, but still, and we are working on creating moments that make us feel good, inspired, and worthy of celebration. We can create more positive moments. We can press play.

Moments worth mentioning?

– Family photos – our first professional session without dad – with a caring and empathetic artist who captured us beautifully.

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– A lunch date with my husband – we each drove ten minutes to have lunch together – why haven’t we done this more?

– Sopping up dog pee – poor puppy has issue with us being gone ten hours a day and has been peeing in our house, yipee. As Dylan says to me often, “well you couldn’t hold it that long either.” He’s right.

– Raking up leaves. A chore, but the beautiful crunch of leaves under your feet only comes round once a year.

– Made a haircut appointment, called the insurance agent, paid the mortgage. Basic to-do list items that took extraordinary effort and produced high anxiety this time last year. Progress. Not perfection.

– Made it to yoga. Check the exercise box. My teacher reminded us to wiggle and shout. Get energy moving through our blood. Release. Breathe on a mat.

– Filled a jar with Candy Corn and love how it sits on my desk. People stop by for a handful and a chat and the sugar connects us.

– Planned a girls weekend with old friends from high school. Scheduled a catch up call with an old girlfriend from college. Investing in relationships matters.

These moments aren’t grand in gesture, or spectacular in effort. Rather they reflect every day opportunities to live in the now. To invest in the people around me. To take care of my loved ones and myself.

In ten years I may not remember any of these moments. The ones in the Pause may be more pervasive in my thoughts, but here is my commitment to me and to you, to keep making moments beautiful. It’s our choice to glorify the ordinary moments and that is a beautiful thing. I hope Chip and Dan would agree.