Joy

Short & Sweet Giveaway

Yin. Yang.

Sour. Sweet.

Anguish. Euphoria.

Life requires a balance of both.

At times, sorrow outweighs the joy and clouds our vision.

This week I face emotional triggers of both joy and pain.

Mother’s Day – celebrating my favorite woman on the planet. Joy. Easy.

Today would have been my dad’s 60th birthday. My heart hurts like hell and I’m drinking a 90 Shilling Beer in his honor – tears in my eyes as I write this. Pain. Ouch.

On Thursday I go down south for a weekend of wedding festivities and I am thrilled to stand by my cousin as she says “I do.” Bliss. Hope. Love. Good.

Life is a fucking balance of sweetness and sting.

I find myself sitting, breathing deeply, wanting to lean into both sides of the swing called life – the chains we rest our heads on.

Allowing myself to sway between sadness and joy is the only way to keep moving.

Keep looking for the beauty in both.

In this busy week I need your help. I pose another challenge that requires your participation. I’ll make it pretty easy for you. You can win a sweet prize of some of my favorite things and more.

Here we go.

Welcome to the Short & Sweet Giveaway!

Short & Sweet Giveaway!

Contest will run between May 15 – May 22, 2017

To Enter:

Send a tweet of 140 characters or less to @52beautiful sharing the beauty in your life right now.

Use the hashtag #shortandsweetgiveaway

No limits (well some limits – keep it appropriate – like something your mom would be ok reading. Maybe it would offend your grandma).

Tell me what you think is beautiful. It’s a glimpse of a child laughing, foam on your latte, tears shed in grief, saying good-bye to a friend, or a chapter, or release.

In celebration, in beers, in pub cheese.

In bridesmaids dresses, shoes stuck in the grass, your favorite golf outfit.

I will compile a list of the tweets you contribute and post them next week, so you have to be ok with having your comment shared here again.

If you follow me on my NEW Twitter account, you will get a bonus entry to win.

There ya go. Short and Sweet. Get Tweeting.

xo.

 

1400 Pennies

Clink. Clink. Clink.

I sat criss-crossed on the carpet sorting coins on Sunday night. Pouring piles of pennies onto the floor as fresh air blew in from my open window.

Piles of ten. Add up to fifty. Over and over again.

Rain drops sneaking their way through the screen. Olive snipping at a fly buzzing above.

Clink. Clink. Clink. Metal on glass. Coins exiting a mason jar.

I took home a canning jar full of coins from my mom’s house after family dinner on Sunday. The jar had sat in my parent’s medicine cabinet for years. Pennies collecting scum and dust and pieces of lint.

Each evening, Dad would take coins out of pockets and throw them in the pile. Circles of copper waiting for a bigger purpose. Something to be saved. I don’t know what he did with his dimes, nickels, and quarters. This jar was only full of pennies.

Mom moved the jar out of her reclaimed closet a few weeks ago.

I’ve always been motivated by money. In elementary school I rose to Dad’s reading challenge – you get one dollar for every book you read from now until we go to Disney World. I read one hundred chapter books much to Dad’s surprise. He held up his end of the deal and I think I got a souvenir. Knowing me, I probably saved some of the cash. In high school I spent hours organizing holiday greeting cards for an odd acquaintance – paid by the package. Nimble fingers make for quick compounding pay outs.

This is an interesting personal trait considering I’ve spent my career working for nonprofits, writers, and small businesses. Passion pays the soul. It can also leaves zeros missing at the end of paychecks.

So yes, when Mom said I could have the cash if I took the heavy jar home, I jumped at the chance. This nerd already had rolling papers for the coins waiting to be filled.

This aint my first coin jar rodeo. I sat, I poured, and I rolled up those pennies.

Clink. Clink. Clink.

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1400 pennies in all. When I finished counting, an overwhelming sadness overtook me. This would be the last interaction with Dad’s always present coin jar. The one that sat next to the Advil and aloe in the cabinet. Never again will his contributions of loose change add up to something bigger.

I held the rolls of money in my sweaty palms feeling their weight. Went to bed.

In the morning, sipping my coffee, I glanced over at the pile of paper rolls and stared. His fingerprints, his grime, his pockets, his molecules in those little cylinders. Beautiful reminders of his after-thoughts at the end of his days.

I went to the bank this afternoon and swallowed the sadness as I handed the teller my beautiful pennies in exchange for some dollar bills. She laughed a little and asked if I had a side project collecting the coins.

“Something like that,” I murmured.

I walked out the doors of the bank and pocketed the cash. I told myself it is ok to let go, once again, of the many little things. That’s what grief is. A constant letting go.

There is beauty found in the grimy copper coins, in their distinct clinking noise against glass, in their memories.

I spent the dollar bills on a craft beer with a friend tonight. An EIGHT DOLLAR craft beer. I think Dad would have liked the ale but I know he would have rolled his eyes at the price.

Beauty in beer, in letting go, in acknowledging the sadness. In the saying of thank you, Dad, for keeping your coins. In realizing I can still say, “Dad, this one’s on you.”

It’s a Little Smudged

The Oscars are on, and my dad isn’t here. I feel funny watching without him.

On Friday, through fits of tears, I groaned on the phone, saying “I don’t want to participate in something I once loved without him. I’m just going to do something else entirely.” I wiped off my snot, and tried to move into the weekend.

All day, I’ve been wondering how it will feel to watch something I treasured without his presence. I’m not sure if my parents intentionally made Oscar night special, but I have memories of fancy evenings, appetizers, and sneaking out of my room to watch the award for Best Picture be handed out late at night. Watching the Oscars was a family thing, a special event, a day I always looked forward to. I wrote about my passion for the night here.

This year, as I write, the opening monologue plays on. I think my timing in writing is connected to avoidance, to the still uncertain, squeamish feeling in allowing myself to participate in things I love when life has changed. Is it ok to return to things I enjoy? To remember to laugh, to dance at weddings, to smile in the Sunday sunshine? Sometimes grief treats you like a real bitch who deprives you of those things.

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I was at a wedding last weekend, and we accidentally took this blurry picture. I kept it, though, because I think at times, the beauty of life can feel a little smudged.

In moving out of intense grief, efforts to dress up and sparkle feel shaky and uncertain. Are we allowed to partake in such joy and celebration? It can be hard to tentatively trust the universe that joy is allowed. I am, at times, the only one keeping myself from those experiences. But if we don’t keep trying to get back to enjoying life, I don’t think we ever will.

So here I am, watching the Oscars, and I might cry a little bit. Might make my in-laws uncomfortable. I might have to choose to honor the beautiful ache when I make the choice to return to the things I love without him.

Time to squint, and start seeing the beauty through the tears.

 

The Dachshunds

Shauna Niequist is taking the world by storm, or rather, by quiet revolt. Inviting people to say no to the rush, and yes to the pause. No to feelings of inadequacy and yes to the beauty and grace that we discover when we give ourselves the permission to slow the heck down.

The other day she had this as a Facebook status, “One of my spiritual practices: noticing. The tiny moments of sweetness & beauty & hope are always there–sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing to be a noticer.”

I saw this and I thought, “YES! This is what I want to be. A noticer.”

And so this week I choose to share the joy brought from these things that I noticed.

We went to a Rockies baseball game on Friday night and sat next to a school group. I was amazed at the sheer energy these kids had – climbing over chairs, refusing to sit still, hitting and nudging of siblings. I was so exhausted from sitting all day – yes sitting, the curse of the desk job – and I almost wished I had the tenacity to be able to climb all over my environment.

Too, these kids could not stop eating. Handfuls of popcorn, Pringles, hardboiled eggs their parents had brought, cotton candy. The joyful consumption of so many snacks. Every time I would look over, these little boys and girls had their palms to their faces, licking remnants of cheese and salt, and smears of flavor would be left on their face. This is the kind of abundant life we should be thankful for – remnants of food and wiggles still yet to be had after 9 pm. We live in a place of abundance – we need to recognize this.

As I left my neighborhood driving to work on Monday morning I rubbed my eyes and slurped my coffee. Mornings have never been my favorite and we are notoriously bad at any kind of morning routine here at my house. So when I stopped at the stop sign to turn left onto the main street and noticed an older gentleman walking three dachshunds I had to smile. Not one little dog, but three, and their owner had the ability to get up and dressed and out of the house for a walk. Not all of us are in a hurried rush to get to work.

Notice this kind of thing – the joy owners get from their  little creatures- the will to be outside in the mornings. I noticed a feeling of thankfulness for the beauty that was brought by being forced to stop and notice at a stop sign.

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And today, a little girl outside of the bank building, patiently waiting in a trailer being pulled behind a bike as her mom made a deposit. She knew how to put her hair in a pony tail, and beamed with pride as her mom noticed the change in her appearance when the mom was done with her chore.

It’s true – the world can be scary, and anxiety provoking, and a heck of a hard place to be. But when we slow down and choose to notice, not all of it can be awful.

I want to continue to notice – the good, the happy, the joyful, the dachshunds.

What did you notice this week?