Weddings

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.

 

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.

 

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?)

“I know, Katie, I know”

February 8th, March 16th, early May, June 28th, October 4th. What do these dates have in common? They are my friend’s wedding dates. How exciting! Wouldn’t miss it! As each new Save the Date rolls in I am thrilled to be a part of such a significant day in the life of someone I love. But when I also sit and am quiet, there is a part of me that comes out that I don’t quite love about myself. Beauty in self acceptance – right? Beauty in where you are at? Because when I admit it, with each new Save the Date that shows up in my inbox, or is posted on my fridge, I also get pretty jealous and my competitive nature roars its ugly head.  I was supposed to be first – that was supposed to be me. I am still, at times – ok right now, struggling with the reality that I chose to postpone my wedding. As we are getting back on the horse, so to speak, with the wedding planning I secretly hate parts of the decision that I chose to put things on pause. And while I love my friends dearly, and can not be happier for where they are at – a part of me wishes I was there too with the showers, and the dress, and the cake tasting too.

I am reminded about a post Jon Acuff wrote in his blog “Stuff Christians Like” (which is a hilarious blog by the way) called The Soft X. In it, Jon addresses how God speaks to us in times of disappointment, struggle, and unmet expectations. ” I know, my son, I know”, he says of God, and at times like this in my life it is hard for me to remember that God cares about the way I am feeling. There is beauty in the suffering. Perhaps suffering is a strong word here, as I know I am learning SO much about myself when expectations are unmet, or rather, life takes a detour you really could not anticipate. I have pretty high expectations for myself – Lighten up Katie, Lighten up! I, however,would like a little break from what my mom and I affectionately call a good ol’ FGO – Fucking Growth Opportunity – excuse the language.

And so, for this week, I am choosing to turn my attention towards the beauty in walking along side others through life – through the ups and downs, from the ouch that’s tough, to the celebrations and the Hooray look at you! This weekend, Dylan’s cousin got married, and it was a beautiful wedding, methodically planned out and a great expression of a wonderful couple I hope to get to spend more time with.  I hope they become better friends, and our go-to Fort Collins buddies! They are both so neat, passionate, funny, and committed people!

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While there were some moments in the weekend where I caught myself thinking, “I wish that was us”, I tried instead to focus my energy on what a blessing it is to be included in something so significant. To be a part of a large, wonderful extended family that I SO look forward to making my official “in-laws” and my friends and to walk through their joyous moment as I know they will walk through mine. My time will come and in the meantime it is helpful to remember that God is up there saying, “I know Katie, I know.”  Too, their is so much beauty in the opportunity to learn about yourself in the midst of unanticipated life changes. I am learning that it is ok to say, “Hey, this is where I’m at – all the pretty, all the ugly, all the unsure, all the confident for 5 minutes until something makes me tip just a little bit in a direction I didn’t even know was possible.” But I hope you will continue to walk with me through all of those questions. Maybe Brene Brown @BreneBrown would be proud. Maybe beauty doesn’t always need to be masked in optimism, maybe beauty is accepting exactly where you are – a mix of dark and light, of joy and jealousy, and of me and of you.