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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

I Won A Taco Hat!

Kleenex. Tylenol Cold Extra Strength. Couch. Kleenex.

That was my Saturday this week. It has been so long since I’ve gotten sick to the point of couch potato. I think, sometimes, the universe grants us a sick day so we can completely rest. It’s not nice to have your sinuses feel like they are going to explode. Sleeping it out, on the other hand, is really nice. And popsicles – the cherry variety. Those are beautiful things.

My mom was out of town this weekend, which was probably a great lesson in adulthood. I know, I know. I should be a big girl, and find a way to take care of myself, but I really wanted to call my mom. I didn’t. I took the Tylenol my husband brought me, and bought myself some popsicles, and watched “Into the Woods” and did not move all day. Rest, even when forced, is beautiful.

Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow (or maybe it is today as you read this) and to celebrate, Dylan and I hosted a “Cinco de Drinko Party and Guacamole Competition.” I’m starting to realize that I really love playing hostess. It is so fun to have friends over, and I enjoy putting food on small plates, and making signs for appetizers and drink options. Maybe that is a love language – little foods and signs to tell people what is what. I still get nervous that people won’t show up to my parties – think birthday party anxiety – but even the smallest gatherings bring me great joy. It’s neat to watch different parts of your life collide in your backyard. I’ve been told for a long time that I make a stellar guacamole (Thank you Aunt Karen for the excellent instruction so many years ago). Have you noticed, though, how loyal people are to their own recipe of smashed avocado mixed with a few choice items?

So, we put it to the test, or rather, the vote, and challenged my friends to bring their best guacamole to be voted upon. Technically, the competition resulted in a tie. However, you had to be present to win and so I won! Ha. Is it bad to win your own competition? Guess what the prize was? A TACO HAT! Thank you to the friend who contributed such a lovely prize. I will take care of it forever, and wear on every Cinco de Mayo from now until forever. To view the hat, you have to check out my  Instagram.

Here is my APPROXIMATE Guacamole recipe. I really just eyeball amounts of ingredients and make Dylan my taste tester.

3 avocados

Lemon Juice

Mayo (the secret ingredient folks)

Garlic Salt

Onion Powder

Two Scoops of Salsa

Chopped Tomato

Dash of Cholula Hot Sauce

Sometimes, maybe, a few bits of chopped onion

Mash it all up and eat with chips, or tacos, or really anything worth dipping.

Guacamole is deliciously beautiful. Being silly and wearing a taco hat is beautiful. Rest, and relaxation, and listening to your body saying slow the heck down is beautiful.

PS. Oh my goodness. Chipotle just released their guac recipe. Now we have to have another competition. Mine vs. the Chipotle version. They can’t take my taco hat.

Biscotti: None – but I did make chocolate chip cookies where I used Almond M & Ms instead of chocolate chips. They tasted delicious, but looked ridiculous. I don’t recommend this method

Essie: None – I got a pedicure instead. Way better

Plants, Pelicans & Lilac Rebels

When you plant seeds in the ground, you have two choices. The first is to tuck those little nuggets of potential growth into their dusty beds of soil, water, and wait. You trust that your nourishment and cultivation and light are going to yield something fantastic. It may take three weeks, or three months, but you are confident that what is shown on the cover of that seed packet is going to rise through its gritty foundation and end up delighting your senses.

The second choice, if you are untrusting, and unsure, is to continually check on the plant. You dig and look for roots, and pick out the bugs, and move its location to a seemingly better windowsill that serves the plant much better than its first location. All of this unsettling, likely, results not in growth, but in death. You can not rip up a plants roots and examine its everyday progress, or you will kill it. This is like life too. We have to trust that the good iterations and progress and unseen, measurable day to day growth will pull us into some pretty fantastic fruit if we can wait long enough to see things grow. It may take weeks, it may take months, but our efforts will produce something good.

I had this concept shared with me this week in my monthly Dining for Women group. What a refreshing reminder of optimism. I love this group of ladies that ranges in age from, well, me, to women old enough to be my grandmother. We share food, laughter, questions and support the great work that women are doing all over the world. These greetings continue to bring unexpected beauty and a sense of grounding to the world. The previous analogy got me thinking, where am I ripping up the roots and getting frustrated because it just isn’t happening fast enough. Whatever “it” may be. I do this to myself often. Not trusting that where I have been planted for now may yield some fantastic results. I cherished the reminder to trust the process and was thankful for the metaphor that connects us to the earth.

This week I feel like the haze of winter has fully lifted and beautiful gifts of spring continue to grace me with their presence. On Wednesday night, as Dylan and I were eating dinner, he was looking out the window and he loudly exclaimed, “is that a paddle boat with three heads on the water?” We rushed to the window, and looked closer at the lake. No, not a paddle boat, but rather, three, enormous pelicans were bobbing along. There is a pelican rescue about 15 miles away, so perhaps this little family of birds were out for an evening stroll, or swim, or glide. We watched these birds for a long time, until they gracefully floated out of view. Never have I experienced something like that, so close to my own beautiful backyard.

Also in the backyard, and all around the neighborhood, the lilac bushes are blooming. Last year, about this time, one of my co-workers brought in an amazing mason jar full of the blossoms to our office. When I asked her where she found them, she said she just snipped a few from the bushes on the way in to work. “What?”, my little rule following self exclaimed, “you can do that without pissing people off?” She didn’t care how she got them, just that they were in the office. Well, my friend, you inspired me, and this weekend, I snuck into the backyard and cut a few blossoms off of our elderly neighbors abundantly flowering lilac bushes. I stuck the flowers in a wine glass, and put them on my nightstand next to my bed. The smell is heavenly and I like looking at the delicate orbs as I rise. I smile to myself because in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly a rebellious move. However, it went against my rule following comfort zone and brings me immense delight.

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I received a comment on my blog last week that was along the lines that life is about the simple things that we should bask in every chance we get. Another beautiful basking was the combination of ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice in a bright copper mug. Freeze the mug before you transfer the concoction to your drink holder , and muddle some lime, and a Moscow Mule is something delightful to appreciate on a Friday night. I don’t follow a special recipe, but I do have loyalty to certain kinds of ginger beer. This combination is a mouth watering treat. Treats are good and copper mugs are fabulously fun to hold and toast.

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This weekend was the most calm and relaxing I have had in awhile. Dylan was in a wedding, and I spent the rainy days reading at my in-laws while he was off fulfilling his groomsman duties. It is amazing how when you let yourself rest, things come catching up to you like a rushing river. Emotional reminders to process, to breathe, to grieve, to be grateful, to soak in the gloomy weather with a content heart. Going to a wedding after participating in my own wedding was such a fulfilling experience. Never before have I felt so confident in my choice I made to walk through life with another human being, as I was when watching my cousin-in-law take his vows. Weddings are powerful, love is tangible, life is meant to be shared and I was thankful.

What can you toast to this week?

Biscotti: Thinking about making some with almond M&Ms – haven’t gotten there yet

Essie: Hands – Limo Scene – unfortunately this one just blended in to my skin tone – fleshy looking nails

Toes – Size Matters ( my mom gave me a pedicure this week when we had girls night. Have I mentioned I love my mom?)

Plan to Be Surprised

The tagline up at the top reads “An imperfect attempt to find some beauty the world has to offer. One week at a time.” I’ve been dwelling on my own mantra for the blog this week. Do I try, ever so gently, to embrace the imperfections within myself and within our situation? I know, without a doubt, that I am blessed and experience immense privilege. My family is healthy, I have a roof over my head, I get along with my mom, I live in a state that has beautiful weather, and sunshine, and mountains. This running list of blessings and opportunities to grow are perhaps where I should extend my focus.

However, I shift gears this week to find the beauty in imperfection. Practice what you preach right? So, here we go (with the disclaimer that I’m a little insecure about what will flow from these words because honesty in your experience always open the doors to scrutiny from outside audiences.) Here are the messy parts of me that I’m trying to reclaim as imperfectly beautiful.

1) Healthy choices haunt me. I love eating little kid snacks. At times that means carrots and ranch, or snap peas and hummus. At other times, like tonight, a balanced meal consists of pigs in a blanket and brussel sprouts. With a handful of Cadbury candy coated eggs. Sugary, delicious, refreshing lemonade too. Everyone deserves a good hot dog now and then right? I choose water frequently, but Diet Coke is also delightful. I once had a wise woman tell me, “Everything in moderation. Even moderation.” I love that phrase. I will try to choose the pea pods more frequently. There are anti-oxidants in walnuts right?

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2)  I am an anxious person – I worry about our jobs, and when our landlord will sell the house we live in, and how to create a five year plan that is bullet proof. Baz Luhrman says that worrying is as effective as solving a math equation by chewing bubble gum. I know it’s not a productive use of my time, but I do, I worry. I’ve got several people who love me working on this with me. I say hello to my anxiety in the morning, and ask it to pass through my body, acknowledging its presence, and politely request it moves on. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I say goodnight to it, and sometimes, I let it sit until a moment of peace arises in my heart and I catch myself laughing.

3) I am messy. When you walk in the garage door into our house you will see four pairs of Dylan’s shoes lined up nicely on the door mat. When you stand on that very same mat, and look from the garage into the living room, and down the hall, you will see discarded pairs of shoes that mark my journey into the house that ultimately leads to relaxation for my bare tootsies. I discard my shoes, my keys, my mail, until we do a weekly round up on Saturdays. Dylan and I have separate closets because I leave my clothes on the floor, and don’t hang up my towel in the morning unless he reminds me to grab the potentially soppy mess. That mess is a part of me, so I lovingly embrace it.

4) I’ve been known to be sarcastically sassy. I snip when I’m under stress and when I’m hurting, or unsure of my space in this big, bold world. I like to think that I have a great sense of humor, but when I’m processing change or transition, I draw into myself and I snip. Sorry if you have been on the receiving end of that lately. When I’m aware of my own defense mechanisms, my reactions provide me chances to retry and regroup.

5) We commute. Both of us drive over a half hour to get to work. I bitch about it, and the driving, at times, eats into our evenings and our positive attitudes. Hallelujah for two cars and money for gas. Again, I know not everyone can utilize these luxuries. Negotiating how to change this concept of balancing where we live to where we work, or accept the things we can not control means analyzing how we can take personal responsibility here. And trust God that we are right where we need to be. That maybe, he, or she, has circled this place for us on a map.

6) I don’t have a five year plan. I stress out and jealously compare my dreams and pace of career to my friends who have said since the age of seven, “I’m going to be a doctor” and they are now doing it. I plan to dabble, and try things, and commit to learning. Have you seen that movie with Steve Carrel, “Dan in Real Life”? At the end of the movie he is giving advice and he says, “Plan to be surprised.”

That is entirely what I plan to do.

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. Agree or disagree?

Biscotti: None

Essie: I need a color for a wedding I’m going to this weekend. Any suggestions?

Resist the Urge to Fast Forward

“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.” – Frank Clark

Raise your hand if you’ve been known to want to jump ahead? Can you identify with the main character in that movie “Click” with Adam Sandler where he fast forwards away his life to the next big promotion, to the moments in which he “has made it” and ends up missing out on countless good moments that life brought his way. I catch myself, recently, wanting to see exactly what big thing I’m going to accomplish in this life. I beat myself up, analyzing to a point of anxiety the ways in which I can put myself on the path to accomplishment of big, big things. Then I stop and take a grounding, yoga breath, and ask the question, “what the heck can I control today?” What can I control in these moment by moment choices when today is all that matters. It can be challenging to trust that the trajectory of this life will give me some great things I can accomplish, especially in this culture that demands us to compare our own success to our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends on a daily basis. Performance goals, accountability, quotas, new years resolutions – the ways in which we measure up make me feel a little bit overwhelmed.  What ways are you challenging yourself to measure up? And what exactly, sets those standards?  Oh? You don’t do that? I certainly do.

I’m seeking solace in that my original definition for BIG ACCOMPLISHMENTS can turn out to look entirely different than I first intended. I imagine my definition will continue to change as I get older. That stagnant definitions of accomplishment are what kill me. That’s why I like this quote above. It may be cliché to say that life is about the little things, but I return to this truth on a regular basis. It helps me to erase the notion that you have to arrive at life, because once I’ve accomplished something how quick I am to ask myself, “already then, what’s next?” Fast forward, Fast Forward, Fast Forward. Days go slowly, perhaps, but the weeks fly off of the calendar.

Here are some beautiful little things for the week. Not profound, not immensely significant on the road to accomplishment, but very helpful in recognizing successes that come in all shapes, sizes, and feel good notions.

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April 14, 2015 – Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s – holla! I got to take a break from work and go to get a free ice cream cone. Simple delights. The benefits of being within walking distance to an ice cream shop. A chance to soak up some Vitamin D. Sorry, by the time this gets posted, it will be over. I hope you made it to your regional ice cream shop.

I made a grocery list – I did not, however, make it to the grocery store. Making a list is an accomplishment in and of itself. I have the resources and skills to buy healthy food. My family taught me how to prepare it. I have the privilege of sitting down with my husband to eat. Not everyone has these skills or the ability to make grocery shopping a reality. I have a plan made for next week, so I can check that item off my to-do list while scrounging in the cupboards to pull a dinner together. What is that app that tells you what to cook based on the ingredients in your cupboard? I need that. List done. Simple, but an accomplishment none the less.

Free time to explore a museum. We had the great opportunity for a museum date day. We learned new things in a cultural institution that delights the senses and explains the world we live in. How we, as humans, for centuries have tried to make sense of the world we are living in. Maybe, perhaps, inquiry is at the heart of humanity. I love exploring museums, and poking around in different areas that entice me to think about my own place in this huge arena of worldly experiences.

Spring. The screen door has been opened and a breeze rustles into our kitchen. At night the light extends past 8:00 pm inviting hope and enjoyment into the evening hours after work. Flowers are blooming and grass is getting trimmed, and my face is towards the sun. I enjoyed three hours in the park with dear friends on Sunday afternoon and got a huge popsicle from the ice cream truck. Not earth shattering accomplishment, but rather soul soothing experiences that refill a soulful cup that needs replenishing. That, too, is a choice. Are we seeking light? Are we seeking friendship? Are we seeking space to be, rather than to accomplish. I’d rather be, than be a something, any day. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Essie: Bump Up the Pumps – repeat

Biscotti – None

So Here is a Question…

So here is a question. Are you a Trader Joe’s person? You will know, right away, if your answer is yes or if your answer is no. These Trader Joe’s people – they know what I mean.

I, for the longest time, was not a Trader Joe’s person. Until recently, this phrase referred to a phenomenon that was foreign to Colorado residents. We did not have the amazing snacks, the two-buck Chuck, the affordable produce. On trips growing up when we went to Chicago, or Portland, or Seattle my mom would drag me to the store to get her favorites and I would think, “oh, for heaven’s sake, this is JUST a grocery store.”

I carried this opinion with me until this week when I went shopping for my little book swap party. My town did not even have a Trader Joe’s until about a month ago. Sure I could drive an hour south, or an hour west, but that wasn’t going to happen just for some snacks. When our local store opened, I mocked the visitors who stood outside for hours waiting to get in.

However, if you are considering snacks for dinner (one of my personal favorites) I am now going to endorse Trader Joe’s as the place to go. I think I spent $40 and got snacks for ten women, a ton of chocolate, and my Easter lilies. I’ve been converted. There is beauty in snacks – can I get an AMEN? There is beauty in the simplicity of a “neighborhood grocery store.” Although, I won’t dwell on the fact that this store is certainly not in my neighborhood. Instead I drove twenty minutes to the store from work and then to my house. I guess the small grocer feel is growing on me. As much as a small grocer feel can exist given the nature of a franchise, national distribution, and competition, if you can call 7-11 a corner grocery store. Give things a second or third look – it can change your opinion if you look past your own snoodiness (ok, ok, my own snoodiness. And yes, snoodiness is a word. Just for tonight.) My flowers still smell enchanting.

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I feel like this past week flew by in a blur. We had three family celebrations, each with their own beautiful quirks of family interaction and dynamics. I participated in an egg hunt and opened not one, but two Easter baskets. I am swimming in chocolate eggs. Come hang out with me and I will share. You can pick from Cadbury Mini Eggs to Almond M&Ms. I am thrilled that my families still partake in traditions that delight and spoil me. Confession: I did not go to church this year. I actually missed it. There is beauty in tradition, and spiritual practice, and ritual that for me, ties and connects me to a higher power. I still texted my mom, “HE IS RISEN” and was glad she texted back, “HE IS RISEN INDEED”. It’s odd not saying that in a formal church setting, but I’m learning to carry components of religion and tradition in my own heart and answer those questions in each different stage of life.

I delight in celebrations and the beauty of warm days. Of winter turning into spring. Of promise in looking at things in a different way. Of sunburns and lemon bars and ham with cheesy potatoes.

So, really, are you a Trader Joe’s person or what?

Essie: No polish this week

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Biscotti: I bought some at Trader Joe’s. Chocolate hazelnut. It’s delicious. OH! and I got a cookbook with only biscotti recipes in my Easter basket. Bring on the baking inspiration! Do you think I can get almond paste at Trader Joe’s?

So here is another question. Does Trader Joe’s really not have a Twitter account?

“Begin Now”

I’ve noticed a trend in myself, something to be examined that makes me feel rather melancholy.

I talk myself out of things that I really want to do.

A class on coffee brewing at my favorite local coffee shop. The chance to listen to a Holocaust survivor speak about his experiences during WWII. I did this just last night as I stopped by the grocery store to get a bag of lettuce and passed by the beautiful display of Easter lilies. I love the intoxicating smell of those flowers, and the way they fill up the house with spring. Easter flowers and spring fragrance are beautiful. However, I walked right past, writing off the cost as a reason to not partake in the experience.  I convince myself that it is ok to pass, that I do not need to attend or participate.

Now, this isn’t a blaming exercise on people whose invitations take over my priorities. No, I freely choose to talk myself out of things that I want to do. There won’t be enough time to squeeze it all in; I won’t find parking; that activity, class, enrichment activity will cost too much money, or be frivolous, or not a good use of my time. At times, I can be a tentative, introverted decision maker that withdraws into myself rather than being brave and doing what I actually want to do.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the author Gretchen Rubin saying she was coming to a town near me. I immediately texted my mom and a friend and said, “Come with me!” It is harder to bail on things you want to do when you recruit other people who want to do that too. They agreed, we planned, it was a date.

Even with a text-message commitment, I started second guessing myself. I just started a new job and they won’t like it if I leave work early, the cost of gas to get down to Denver is high, it will be a late night out. Wednesday morning I woke up to a rainy, cloudy day and my first thought was, “hmm, maybe it will rain and I won’t have to drive down to the bookstore tonight.” The day had just begun and I’d already started the talk to convince myself the experience wouldn’t be worth it. Up until it was time to go and pick up my mom I was second guessing myself. I pushed those doubts to the side and made the drive. We picked up my best friend from college. I drove through the city traffic at five pm gripping the wheel with white knuckles. With help, I successfully parallel parked for free! We went to a delicious restaurant near East Colfax called Pinche Taqueria (hey, I didn’t name it. I just ate there). I ate tacos and drank a margarita, and enjoyed myself as the evening sunshine soaked through windows surrounded by rich, historic brick walls.

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My mom pointed at me and said, “aren’t you glad you made this a priority?” I wasn’t entirely sure yet. We still had meeting the author to go.

After dinner, we walked across the street and opened the door to the bookstore. Ahhh, bookstores. The smells of paper and ink, the rich wood of the shelves filled with words of potential, life lessons, pain, and joy. Bookstores are beautiful things.

One of the stipulations of getting a book signed was “buying your space in line.” I brought my own personal journal to try and avoid that financial cost, but upon arrival realized I may need to purchase a book to get my spot in the signing line. Very unlike myself, I charged through those doors, picked up a book off the shelf, and got in line at the cash register. “YOLO”, I said to my friend, “to hell with the cost. I’ve got to do this now.” Here I was again, convincing myself that my desires were worthy of investment.

We walked down lush, carpeted stairs and found our seats towards the back of the room. I was so giddy when the author took the stage. Joy pulsed through my body, exhilarating my spirit, and putting a smile on my face. I did it! We made it! I’m here. Why don’t I allow myself to participate in these interests that I find intriguing on a more regular basis? Rather than continuing to beat myself up mentally, I sat down, listened, smiled, laughed, filled my heart with delight.

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After the reading, I got in line and got both my book and my journal signed. I felt very much like a kid at Disney World – remember how awkward it is to shyly present that autograph book to your favorite character? “Can you please sign my personal journal too?”, I asked, sheepishly, shy, and vulnerable. Gretchen smiled, looked at my collage book, and said , “Thank you for showing this to me.” Thank you, Gretchen, for having an interest in the lives of your readers.  I have a memento from the night, proof and a reminder that it is beautiful to pursue personal interests. That life is meant to be enjoyed, rather than scrimped and saved and that there is beauty in being self-involved when it brings delight rather than fear or excuses.

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Gretchen signed my book, “Begin Now.” She was referring to habits, but those three words hold much power in their presence. Begin finding beauty. Begin erasing excuses. Begin doing what you want to do. What are you waiting to begin?

No biscotti or nail polish this week. I was too busy eating tacos and accomplishing my dreams.

Restore

Life is a lot to juggle – and I do not even have children. I read amazing stories about women and men who are working three jobs, and raising five children, and making ends meet. The thought of that reality is exhausting. I know my opportunities have given me the privilege to not have to be working so hard. Nevertheless, I still struggle to find time to make it to the grocery store, or do all of my laundry, stock the freezer with breakfast burritos, vaccuum, or read all of the books that I want, or work my two other part time jobs (while not full time, I guess I do have some other endeavors on the side of my 9-5). Who needs a clean floor anyway? That’s what a dog is for. Psh, I don’t have time for a dog right now, much to my husband’s chagrin. My mom has this quote hanging in her house, and I think I’ve adopted the philosophy (thank you Joan Rivers and Real Simple). Sometimes, the necessities of daily life just need to be postponed!

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This week, however, I was tickled with the concept of restoration. Throw hazard to the wind and make it a priority to do everything that I thought I wanted to do, rather than needed to do. Oh shit, no, that’s not true. I’ve still got piles of laundry to put away. I’ve got the washing part down. In starting my new job it has been unnerving to not have a to-do list that is 47 items long. I struggle showing up in the morning not quite sure how my day will be filled, and to be honest it makes me a little bit anxious. I had a great friend remind me, “Katie, it’s not going to be this way forever. Enjoy it while it lasts.” I like weekends that are jammed full of friends, and family, and errands, and then Sunday night rolls around, and wham, I’m tired again. So, in an effort to be conscious of how much I try to make myself busier than heck, I tried to embrace the pause.

Here was my weekend:

A baby shower for a dear friend from high school. Nothing is more bizarre and emotionally beautiful than watching your friends get ready to be parents. It is exciting and shocking and brave to watch someone you love anticipate the loving of something (someONE really) so intensely. Restoration comes from reconnection with old friends, and connections with people who have known you longer than the days of being intensely over-scheduled.

A hair cut. My mom and I get our hair done at the same salon. She and my hairdresser (again a dear friend who used to do my hair for prom) joke about how I only get my hair cut every seven months. I told her gossiping about other clients while their MOTHER in the chair is inappropriate. My hairdresser laughed, and said, ‘simple solution – come see me more.’ I laughed and said, “ain’t no body got time for that.” It is nice to self groom, and my do, if I don’t mind saying, is beautiful.

Bike yoga. Ok – this wasn’t an officially organized activity, but I think it needs to be! Who is with me? On our Sunday morning bike stroll I was messing around on my cruiser, and trying to stretch my hips, and laughing way too much at myself while improvising some sort of “tree pose” on Ruby, my cruiser bike. I need to play more. If you want this to be a thing, I will most certainly attend.

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Dinner with my parents. I know I’m over 25 and supposed to be all independent and such, but I LOVE MY PARENTS. I love that they remain a part of my life, and that Sunday dinner swapping houses between my two sets of parents may be a new tradition. I love that they came to my house and I cooked them food that I bought, not even with their credit card! I love that I am in the beautiful place of being able to give back to them, and nourish them with the same recipes in which they nurtured me.

Here was my take away. I think, for me sometimes my definition of success means that my every minute is scheduled. I like predicting, knowing, controlling. It is uncomfortable for me when I am unclear where I am going, or how my day will unfold during the week. Yet, once Friday at 5 pm rolls around I crave a little bit of time to be spontaneous, for the bike ride, or the trip to the coffee shop, or an hour where I say, “hmm I think I’ll bake something.” I want to work on the beautiful work of integrating that concept into my work week. Do you find beauty in planned out moments, or do you prefer going where the wind blows you? I’m realizing there is peace and quiet and restoration and space to learn in the unplanned moments – even when they make me nervous. What is success when I’m not micromanaging my life?

Restore. What does that mean to you?

Biscotti – Espresso Chocolate Chip  – turned out pretty darn good – Don’t use whole wheat flour ( I left out the hazelnuts – ain’t no body got time for that.)

Essie Polish- Handle with Flair