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To the Women Speaking French

Watch this.

No really, watch it. What do you take away from these silly clay creatures and their love for one another? When I watched the video at first, I was upset. What do those little monsters have to do with the world going at tornado pace when all I wanted to do was sit and let the lyrics woo me into a comfortable trance. I believe I’ve discussed The Weepies before, and I’m sure I’ll reference them again. Maybe a year or so ago I even referenced this very song. If so, I apologize for my redundancy. The truth that this band communicates is too poignant not share.

As I sat and wondered what was beautiful about this week, I could not help but think “holey moley” did June go fast. [OK – side note, it is beautiful that holey and moley are not real words, and perhaps I am spelling this phrase wrong. Amusement comes in the finest of places.]

As I walk through my weeks and follow my routine, I feel something tugging on me to stop and look up, for yes, The Weepies are right, the world spins madly on. Quickly and with gail winds and blushing breezes we jump from to-do list tasks to the hop scotch of frantic completion of the next best thing. I stopped myself this weekend, and said, No, I refuse to live this way. There is always going to be another problem to solve, solution to master, load of laundry to do. So, instead, I slept in and I took a nap – both in the same day! Oh the sloth, the laziness of rest. Raise your hand if you feel guilty for taking a rest! I know, I know. I do this to myself.

My yoga teacher started class tonight by praising us for carving time out of our days to take care of ourselves. When you hear the word carve, what do you think? I think of stone, and wood, and sharp tools, and precise effort that lends towards something beautiful. However, the word carve and the words ease, or flow or grace do not seem to go together for me. Why should it be so difficult to give ourselves the grace to enjoy a yoga class, to take a moment to consciously stretch our limbs and breathe. True confession – I caught myself looking at the clock at 6:15 and hoping the class would hurry along. I have things to do, blogs to write, meetings to be held. Tsk, tsk to me. I was not the first to roll up my mat and put away my props at the end of class. Other people had things to move onto as well. That’s why they call it yoga practice, right?

This whirlwind of a week brought pleasant, beautiful surprises as I was rushing from work to home to life. I am thankful for a three day weekend, for fireworks, for freedom, for rest. I am thankful for watermelon. Oh watermelon, why can’t you be this deliciously juicy all year long? As I bought dinner tonight at the local grocery store, I stopped to eat by myself in the brief pause before meetings. I looked up from my phone and noticed two women sitting and practicing French. One woman was my age, the other older than my mom, and they were both practicing their language skills. I caught myself listening, despite not knowing more than three words of French myself, and was drawn in to their beautiful practice in working on a new skill in relationship with another. The artwork hanging on the wall above their heads was so intriguing. Two tables down, a father was feeding his little toddler mac and cheese, and two boys fighting over a banana argued their way to the trash can hoping to be the one to throw the peel in the bucket. Parents were barely hanging on as their days were coming to an end. I got to share that space with all of these individuals as they rushed madly to the next anticipated moment of rest. Mindfulness and raising my head from my silly iPhone screen can be beautiful. I miss a lot if I stay wrapped up in the whirlwind.

To the women sharing a conversation in French at Whole Foods, thank you for reminding me to stop and look for the little things. I wish I had been brave enough to ask for your names.

Biscotti – none – 4th of July does not scream biscotti

Essie Nail Polish – Forever Yummy with Gold Luxe Effects – my hands looked like firecrackers

“Have Courage and Be Kind”

I don’t remember being totally immersed into Disney’s Princess culture as a little girl. I think I had a Belle Halloween costume, and certainly watched the movies, but my favorite Disney Princess was Pocahontas. I had the sheets, the pillows, the outfit, the accessories. This princess’ connection with nature and rebellious efforts to stand up for her own self were more appealing to me. Hey, fighting for the right to protect who you love is something to stand for, analysis of feminism and colonialism aside.

The only instance I remember of dressing up like a princess was at my fifth or sixth birthday party. We invited the traveling princess lady to come who brought beautiful dresses, and jewels, and would do you and your friends hair and make up to turn you into a vision of a royal lady. My friends had first pick of the dresses. When it was my turn all the proper ensembles had been chosen. I was so mad I locked myself into the bathroom until someone forced me out. Some hostess, some princess I was.

I minored in Women’s Studies, I proclaim feminist views, and still banter with the best of them about the valuable role women play in society and the challenges we face in almost every arena for equal rights and respect for our femininity. However, this week, I watched a movie that made me want to embrace everything amazing about the fairy tale story. I went to see Cinderella with my mom. I haven’t been so giddy since I was six years old, imagining what my princess birthday party could have been like. Needless to say, I loved the film.

This movie is so beautiful. The costumes, the quirky animal characters, the twist on the common tale are absolutely enchanting. I wanted to go home and put on my wedding dress and dance around the room, inviting the little creatures that live in our backyard into our house to play. The sparkles, the glamour, the hope of a better life. There is a sensitivity written into the character of Cinderella that embraces compassion, acceptance, self reverence in light of challenges, and I just wanted to be friends with her. Laugh if you may, but this portrayal was so much more dynamic than the average fairy tale. It takes a lot to get rescued by another person; even more to to be aware of your own choices and how they impact the lives of those around you as you make changes for your own self betterment.

Plus, who doesn’t love Helena Bonham Carter. Can you imagine what it would be like for her to be your Fairy Godmother?

Cinderella’s mother starts off the film by saying, “I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all of the trials that life can give you. Have courage, and be kind.” I’m tucking this nugget of wisdom away, because there exists power in that perspective. I place those words in my heart, and ask myself, in what ways am I living that beautiful mantra today?

Can someone please find me a dress like that to wear? If you watch the movie, let me know when you come across the line, “I can’t drive. I’m a goose!”

Biscotti: None

Essie Nail Polish: Jam and Jelly

Papa

Take a moment to think of the ways in which you are influenced by others. What some of your mentors, friends, coaches have taught you along the way. This week, in honor of Father’s Day, I was reflecting on the ways in which my dad has influenced me. Maybe you get nostalgic in stages, maybe it’s just me, but this year was one of the better Father’s Day experiences our family has had. I know, not everyone has happy memories with their parents. If Father’s Day is painful for you, my heart expands as I send compassion and light your way. I hope you can find connection to the positive interactions with people who have supported you as you became who you are today.

My dad and I have not always been the closest. As I’ve gotten older and tried to separate from my family like normal adults do, my appreciation for my parents has grown ten fold. This week, I’m grateful for the beautiful parts of my dad that I see in myself.

Here are a few:

My love of coffee, road trips, potato chips. A chocolate chip cookie does constitute as breakfast. So does cold pizza.

While preparing dinner we sneak little pieces of cheese, or chicken, or nibbles or bread crusts with butter. Sometimes these snacks fill us up before the meal reaches the table.

We are both “thrifty”, or ok fine, cheap. We reuse, we recycle, we have holes in our sneakers until my mom tells us it’s time to get new things.

My dad can be the quiet, pensive type. He taught me to observe before speaking, and to choose my words wisely. He can also talk to anyone  in the grocery store and connect over bacon, or a bag of onions. I watch this skill, and observe wisely, trying to pick up his ability to talk anyone who cares to make eye contact. Private processor, publicly friendly. I want to be better at this.

My dad never doubted my dreams because I was a girl. Thank you for teaching me to play ball, hold a hockey stick,  how to fill the car with gas, answer my insurance questions, wipe my tears, and encourage me to catch creatures in boxes if they aren’t supposed to be living in your house. Remember the mice incident? Thank you for letting me be afraid of birds.

My dad has taught me to find things to laugh about. We text back and forth jokes that are witty and stupid and charming. It’s a way to stay in touch and remain wired through laughter. Isn’t that a beautiful image? What if the whole world was wired through laughter. Positive energy wandering the waves over our heads and into our hearts. He is the goofy in my blood, the wiggle in my dance, and the quiet reminder to be proud of myself.

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I don’t say this often, and we don’t always connect, but I am immensely grateful for his presence in my life. Thank you for wanting to choreograph our father daughter dance at my wedding, for walking me down the aisle, for teaching me how to walk.

Happy Father’s Day Dad. You are beautiful.

My Story is Beautiful

I came across Allison’s blog when I just started out in 2013. I was drawn to her interest in exploring beautiful things, where she was at in her journey as a newly wed, and took comfort in the fact, that she, too, had postponed her wedding.

It has been fun to see how her story has evolved, so when her call for guest contributors to her blog collection called “My Story is Beautiful” came up, I quickly jumped at the chance.

I am excited to be featured on her blog today. You can check it out here.

If you are interested in being a Guest Contributor on my blog – email me at 52beautifulthings@gmail.com

The Unexpected Beauty

The Beatles spoke wisdom when they wrote, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Sometimes, I need a break, a pause, a whisper of relief and shared experiences in the pursuit of joy and beauty. So, this week, I am thrilled to post my first guest post from a dear friend.  Read her thoughts, share in her search. Follow her in her own journey by connecting on social media.

Author: Katie Myers                     Instagram/Twitter: @kjmyers8

www.livestepbystep.com

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“Isn’t it wonderful how big the definition of beautiful can be? Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by the simple beauty of things and people. And it can be defined and redefined every day. Living in Colorado I am lucky enough to experience some of the most beautiful natural settings, but more beautiful still have been the interactions I have with people on a daily basis. To me, when I think of beauty I think of getting a heart drawn on my to-go coffee cup from my favorite barista. Or of the tiny hands and big creativity of my nieces and nephews. Beauty is a dog sticking its head out of a car window, a look of pure joy on its face as it looks on into the wind. These things make my heart happy.

There is a quote that I found from the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay that says “Beauty is whatever gives joy.” I love that. Beauty and joy definitely go hand in hand for me most times. But what can also be beautiful are the things that don’t always bring immediate joy, but lasting growth.

These past few months I’ve been experiencing number 258 of my identity/quarter-life/I’m an adult but I don’t feel like an adult crises. In trying to figure out how I fit into my life and it fits me, I’ve felt incomplete to say the least. If I look at my life I have what can be defined as “successful”: a great job downtown and an awesome place to live in a great area near downtown. But even though I am so extremely grateful for those things, I had a realization that it’s time for me to start taking steps in a different direction…my direction.

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Up until this point I’ve been living a path laid out for me; a yellow brick road of “go to the schools my older siblings went to, go to the college my older siblings went to, graduate, find a job that happens to be where my older sibling is, and find a place to live in a place that is deemed ‘popular to live in'”. Where was me in all of that? Even though I was making those decisions, I wasn’t owning them as being a part of myself and who I ultimately want to be. Who do I ultimately want to be, you ask? Well I realized that I ultimately just want to be myself, without all of the strings of others’ expectations attached.

I can’t tell you how much even that shift in thinking has changed me. Even though my job is still the same and I’m in the same place with the same relationship status, I’ve decided to own the decisions I’ve made up to this point, and the ones that will come after. I do feel more like myself, and I like who I am. I’m paying more attention to what I’m interested in and what I want to do, and I make lists to remind me of those things. Happy, uninhibited lists that include “go rollerblading”, “learn more French”, “get a dog”, “buy a polaroid camera” and “run through a fountain”. Why limit ourselves? Amazingly as the years go by, even though the big things might not fall into place yet, there are a bunch of little things that come together to make you feel more whole day by day. You experience life, take what you need to grow, and you’ll realize one day that you’re more of who you want to be.

When you’re younger you think that a certain age will feel a certain way, and then when you actually get to that age you realize you’re just…you! You’re just you and you’re living life, and that’s the only way you can really “define” it. In a way, that’s beautiful. I’m coming to learn piece by piece that the unknown and the incomplete are valuable and ok. There are beautiful things that you can take from the everyday and tie into your own life to help shape it.

IMG_0506You can constantly define and re-define your life, and define and re-define beauty. I hope that you find the beauty in yourselves as well as the everyday, friends. Thank you for letting me share a piece of my life in this wonderful, creative and inspiring space.”

When not drinking coffee, reading in a cafe, or playing guitar, Ms. Myers can be found on her blog “Stepping Stones”

If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on the pursuit of beauty in your own life, email 52beautifulthings@gmail.com for more info.

Waiting at the Airport

Every time I go to the airport, I think about Hugh Grant’s wonderful voice in the movie clip posted above. I love his simple call to the act of remembering the love abounds. This is important on an every day basis; even more so when you are traveling to a funeral. Airports, they fascinate me. All the coming and going, the mysterious people who are sharing a piece of your journey, if just for a moment. The same could be said of passing someone on the street, or driving your every day commute next to the person who goes the same route. I think, though, that airports are different.  You are stuck in a building with thousands of people you don’t know, waiting for a metal bird to take you off to something else.

I arrived at the airport three hours early – Dylan had to drop me off so he could go to work – so I had plenty of time to people watch. As an avid observer of human behavior and people’s quirks and conversations, this extra time was enjoyable and fun, rather than stressful or annoying.  I traveled to Texas carrying only my trusty, old high school backpack. I brought two novels, a change of clothes and a toothbrush, and as I waited to board the plane I was hoping no one would look at me. Sure, I could watch them and laugh at their oddities, but please, please don’t talk to me. I walked the concourses in search of Starbucks (really DIA – where is it!?) and settled for a generic latte and a breakfast sandwich. I found a seat across from my gate and buried my nose in my book, sneaking glances at all the characters as they walked by.

What caught my attention most, however, was not the people walking briskly in front of me on the moving walkway. Instead, as I read, I noticed a quiet, soothing melody coming from the row of plastic molded seats behind me. I turned, and noticed a young man playing the ukelele while he waited for his flight to Cancun. Lucky guy, I thought, Really though, it was lucky me as this guy used his talents to bring joy to my day. I’m not usually one for talking to strangers, but I turned around after twenty minutes of beautiful music and asked if I could take his picture. I introduced myself, explained my project, and asked permission to include him here this week. At first he was cautious, nervous that I would approach him. After I explained my purpose, he said, “Oh cool, I thought you were going to tell me to stop because I was annoying you.” No, you did not annoy me. You gave me a gift. Thank you, Jorge, for bringing such beauty to the start of a difficult trip.

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Here are some other observations I had while at the airport.

– A chubby two year old on a leash kept running away from her parents. I understood the need for the leash.

– There was a French Bulldog that was someone’s service dog. I love bulldogs!

– Grown men boarding the plane for Cancun were wearing Sailor Hats.

– I overhead a woman trying to evangelize to the man working the kiosk selling sunglasses. His response, in a European accent, was “Lady, look at my nose. Can’t you tell I’m Jewish”. She said, well God Bless and he responded, at least you said “God Bless, and not Jesus Bless. Look at my nose!”

I’ve been known to use the hashtag #thingsoverheardattheairport. Next time you are traveling, add something to it!

We people, we are all just doing something aren’t we? Trying to live our lives the best we can. Hugging, crying, coming, going, loving, grieving. Playing our music. And that is beautiful.

No nail polish or biscotti this week. Sorry not sorry.

Ripple

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Photo taken by Kate Kosakowski

Who has heard of the author Shauna Neiquest? A phenomenal author with a focus on the real, in touch with the joy and the pain that we mingle with each day of the year, Shauna’s writing came into my life right after I graduated college. A friend of mine gave me her book “Cold Tangerines – Celebrating the Extraordinary nature of Everyday Life” and I could not set it down. I think I read the whole thing in two hours. I never read her second book, “Bittersweet”, but am drawn to her famous quote, “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” I found myself tip toeing in between sweet and bitter this week. The sweet and beautiful involved the celebration that one of my friends from high school had her baby. She is a beautiful little girl that I can’t wait to meet. It is amazing to stop and ponder the potential that we all have the capability of creating human beings. It is awe inspiring to know that little beings enter the world in every second of every day. We get to participate in the loving and nurturing that comes with the responsibility of taking care of one another. The rain has continued this last week, and the clouds and the gray continued to taunt my fellow Coloradoan’s as we crave our depleted Vitamin D. This week, while standing in line for our coffee, I had a co-worker show me a picture she took of the ripples in a puddle.  I quietly stared at the photo, and felt blessed to be able to witness the simple beauty in a ring of water moving out in connection to other elements touching the surface of rough pavement. This image reminded me that our energies, our enthusiasms, our excitements, our sadness – they all impact one another if only you stop and look around. Trite, perhaps, to use the metaphor of a ripple of water, but this felt like a reclaiming of sorts. A mental mastery of the weather which I cannot control.

The bitter came in the news that we lost my uncle this past weekend. He was fifty five. He has six kids, four grandkids, and a wife. While their family lives in Texas, and I did not have the luxury of spending more than a few days a year with them, he was a member of my tribe. My heart aches for my cousins, for the years stolen away, and for the grieving process that lies ahead. I head out to the funeral in the morning. I was struck, this week, by how quickly life shifts with moments of the unexpected. How life and death can happen on the same day, and how both of these incidents create so much potential. The cries of a newborn baby, or a final breath of a loved one, have immense ripple effects in our hearts. If we let these every day moments move us as they move others, they create something beautiful. What is creating ripples in your own life? Are you saying thank you and celebrating, or saying thank you and growing? Biscotti: Cherry Chocolate Chip Essie: Material Girl

All the Tricky Things

I’m a quote gal, what can I say? I came across this one this week, and thought dang Sylvia, you are spot on. “…Doing all the little tricky things it takes to grow up, step by step, into an anxious and unsettling world.” – Sylvia Plath

That is the process, isn’t it, of step-by-step explorations into who you want to be each day. You have to be brave enough to stand in the unsettledness, and accept with an open heart, maybe all this unsettledness is the only thing we can count on. One never is really arriving, but instead is dancing, prancing, grieving, smiling, aching, laughing, loving through each phase. I was talking to Dylan this week about that myth of arrival. I thought you would just, ya know, find a job, meet your co-workers, settle into your role for the next few years, and never imagined that maybe life would throw curve balls, or your friends would move, or your parents would sell your childhood home. That there would be beauty in loss, and the shedding of skin and the ability to stand as you are, letting go of what used to be.  You go through the natural transitions of growing up, coaxed through the programs and the academics, and are launched into the believing in yourself environment. That phase takes a hell of a lot of courage – especially in the fog of all of the fears that our society invites us to participate in.

I never imagined this process of blogging to be so vulnerable. There is something risky, I know, of being myself in cyber space. Of admitting challenges, or insecurities, or tiny victories along the way – oh my heart, you have been kind when you lay it all out there. To those I make uncomfortable, skip ahead to this blog post – “The One Where I Talk About “Friends” To those who can relate, thanks for reading. Let’s connect over coffee for I long to hear “me too.”

This week beauty surrounded me in the celebration of my dad. He had his birthday and invited us to play pool and ping pong and eat snacky junk food in a bar. Pub chips and nachos – yes, please. My brother came along and taught my 82 year old grandmother how to play pool. Both my brother and I were shocked she had never learned how to hit the cue ball across that felted green surface. Growing up, my brother and I spent countless hours playing pool in their muggy basement in Chicago while being “supervised” from my grandfather in the t.v. room above. How could she never have chalked up a stick in all those years?

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Nevertheless, we got to teach her how to play and avoid the eight ball, and break the “ladylike” paradigm to once again be blessed by the beauty of sharing life with the ones you love. Laughter too, so much laughter, as we held my dad across our laps for a photograph. These moments go by quickly, brief, little glimpses across the spectrum of life. Thanks for supporting me as I continue to do all of the little, tricky things.

Essie Nail Polish: Turquoise and Caicos

Biscotti: None

You know what I like? How when you try to load a new post on Word Press it makes robot words… beep booop beep

“The Loveliest Things”

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You know what is neat? Energetically pleasing? Hopeful? Inspiring?

In my own journey to seek out beauty, I have come across countless others who are choosing to integrate beautiful things into their own lives. One such woman is Stephanie May Wilson, a writer and seeker of beautiful things. I have the pleasure, today, to be featured on her blog and in her feature called “The Loveliest Things.”

Please take a moment to view my thoughts by clicking here.

Thank you, Stephanie, and all of the others who are on their own adventures with beauty in our chaotic world.

What do you think is lovely today?

Oh, and personal shout out to my dad who is turning 58! That is certainly something to celebrate. Love you papa.

I am Enough

“It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine.” – Eeyore

I need this reminder today. It has been cloudy and raining for the last seven days. Now here comes a Colorado privilege rant – ie. We haven’t seen the sun for over a week, and we are stressed out about the implications of hovering gloom in the mist and the wet. I know that a large portion of the country lives in this guck all the time. Not me. I need my sunglasses for 300 days of the year. As my alarm went off and the obnoxious beep, beep, beep roused me into a Monday, I opened my eyes and thought SUN! Light was shining in from the windows, and dancing along the wall as I awoke. I suppose it is a miracle, really, to be thankful for the sun. Thankful, as my yoga teacher always says, for the beautiful gift of another day to breathe.

I thought of Eeyore this week, as doom and gloom never seems far off – right? The what if messages, and the I’m not good enoughs and fears of what could be can consume us and eat us alive. I was talking this week with Dylan about how I need to be nicer to myself – in my thoughts, and in my actions towards my own perceptions of myself. My mom wants a tattoo that says, “I am enough.” I’m not brave enough to get that tattooed on my body, but I am brave enough to start saying that to myself over and over again. This week, I think that message is satisfying to me as I settle into a slower paced job, without as many every day demands.

That message is satisfying to me as I watch my family dynamic change and the formation of a “we” in a marriage continues to develop. That message is satisfying to me as I try to problem solve or scrimp and save to compete with the big achievers – the homeowners, the grad students, the young parents that I am not. Whew (I don’t want those things yet. No, not really.)

This week, I had the privilege of having family dinner with my parents and Dylan. After sharing a meal, we turned on the music and my mom screamed, “Dance Party!” Entertainment factor – huge! Watching my parents move their hips to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, with me in my bright blue yoga pants and Dylan moving his head in full force – the joy was flowing. I felt filled with immense beauty in the very nature of having the ability to stand with people I love and tap into a dance.  I’m learning that it is the cultivation of these fun moments that make my life worth living. My career feels unsure, owning a home because that means stability to others feels insincere, finding worth in checking things off my master to-do list is not where I am going to feel content. The beauty, instead, is in the cultivation of joy at my own hands. Or choosing to participate in the joy that others have created – there is contentment to be found there as well.

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This weekend I got to partake in two Mother’s Day celebrations and am thankful for the wonderful feminine legacy that has been created by my mom, and now my mother-in-law. I am thrilled to be able to stand, to hug, to bask in the presence of women who have made me, and the ones I love who we are today. Thank you – Christine and Cathy – for setting such a high bar for what it means to beautifully experience life as it comes, and love in the midst of uncertainty. For teaching me to turn my head to the sun, and to dance.

Biscotti: None

Essie Nail Polish: Bass Fiddle

Stay tuned for an exciting announcement on Friday, May 15