Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 Through Lenses: Just Me

Just my own things...

I am ending the year in a bit of exhaustion. I don't think that's really been the theme of my whole year. But enough here at the end to color the way I see it. It's not really not getting enough sleep, and maybe it's just a piece of getting older. But I've had all these things I want to do, and I've just been too tired to do them. That's a big piece that I want to address in the new year.

But that bleeds into something else. I really wanted to be a better friend this year, and I just don't think that I was. I wanted to be more present, more engaged. I wanted to deepen my friendships and my base, and I just didn't give it quite the energy that it deserved and that I intended to give it.  In part, that energy went to my family -- which I don't regret in the least. I'm in a time where I want to soak up that family piece. But it also went to Candy Crush and nonsense. And that, I do regret.

I did really enjoy some friendship pieces though. I've thought a lot about what I've taken to calling serendipitous friends. And maybe all friends are this, I don't know.  But there are a few in particular that stand out to me.  Those friends that you didn't necessarily SET OUT to make... but through one thing or another, they became your friends and they were literally EXACTLY what you needed. Not just "it's nice to have them around." But you genuinely needed them. And you hope that you have been the same kind of friend to them.  Because you can't help but be unendingly grateful for what they were to you.

I wrote about this recently, but I had some experiences with those friends you almost never see -- but when you do, it's like you just pick up where you left off like no time has ever gone by. I've always felt a little jealous of people who talked about friendships like that.  I guess, because I didn't think I had any, and then I beat myself up for that... for the things I had done or not-done to lose friend intimacy. But... those experiences the last couple months made me realize that I have more than I think I do. I can tick off a few people that I know, when I see them next, will not be awkward, will not be weird, and we will talk and talk until we can't talk anymore. And that I have been jealous of things I already have. So, that's silly.

I also spent a lot of time losing a friendship. My head spent most of the year wrapped up in this, largely just arguing with myself over whether it was the right thing to do or not. I knew it was probably healthy, just not if it was right. I genuinely did not think that expressing my gratitude for 5 years of friendship would be the catalyst for ending it. But, in a weird way, it was the kick that sent the ball rolling, and that's a bit sad. But, from where I sit now, I understand it better. There were a lot of things that contributed to me being in this place now, and I've already talked about some of it. But, it's always been hard to explain it, and there were things that I didn't feel that I should explain.  Being me was a lot of it, really. I'm a woman and a mom to three girls and a person who has spent her entire adult life, since 20, shepherding young women. Befriending an ex and accidentally befriending a young paramour had an impact deep enough and truly disappointing enough for me to say, "No... this matters."  And enough had been broken by the time he was deliberately hurtful that I could say, "I'm not doing this anymore." So I stopped.  …. and I spent a good part of the year getting used to that and healing from it, deciding how I felt about it. And sometimes I was just fine. And sometimes I was really sad. And sometimes I was pissed....  and the year is over now, so it's time to just be honest, and then put it behind me. It's done and there's no changing anything. So, you move on. 2018 was just as weird as 2008.

But, 2019 is a new one. I said I wanted to be more authentic in 2018.... which I started, and then it broke my heart, and I became afraid of it. But, I think I'm ending the year more of what I wanted to be.

Bravery to be myself. Bravery to risk rejection. Bravery to not mold myself to fit in. Bravery to be embarrassed and uncomfortable. Bravery to not be right. Bravery to persevere when I want to hide.

And I'm ready to bring that into the next year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 Through Lenses: My Family

This is the bulk of my life right here. I have books I read, music I attend... but the bulk of my life is right here, wrapped up in my family. And as our children near adulthood, there isn't anyplace I'd rather spend my energies.

Our girls turned 18, 18 and 17 this year... it hardly seems possible that we can have children that old. But, we do. The number of our licensed drivers in our family increased to four, and the number of cars we own to three.

That was an expensive purchase obviously...  but it was probably the best present my husband could have given to ME -- even though the car was for the kids. I spent so much time the year before, carting everyone places.  School, work, volunteering, etc, etc.  The girls being able to drive themselves places was a godsend. Not having to leave the house at 10pm to pick Casey up from work was a miracle!

We moved our big vacation to February (instead of an already-full summer) and took a cruise out of Texas to Mexico and Jamaica.  THAT was a good idea, too. Having somewhere sunny to look forward to at the end of winter was just what we needed to get us through.  I'm sorry that no one's vacations match up and we can't do it again this year!

Casey had a year of constantly trying to fly the nest early.  She so much wants to be a grown-up. She got a tattoo. A really big tattoo. She saved her money all year to go to COSTA RICA on a volunteer trip. She started school at the community college. She went from being a cart girl to a cashier at her grocery store, and then worked really hard at proving herself to move from cashier to a different position she really wanted.  Which just looks like stocking shelves to me, but is apparently a step up. She and I disagree on her work schedule. High school seniors should not be working so much that they qualify for holiday pay. But she loves it.

McKenzie's heart had to grow up a little when her beloved cat, Biscuit, got sick during the wildfire season and passed away. That was pretty much the worst ever. It was a traumatic few months, as we made our way through that grief. In its aftermath, though, we adopted two new kittens who have become a beloved part of our family -- and has led to McKenzie having her first volunteer job at the shelter that we adopted them from -- which is very very cool.

Alicia and I spent a lot of time together this summer. We spent a few days at the Oregon coast together. We went whale watching in the spring. She got spoiled with a trip to Ireland/briefly-Liverpool with to go see Shawn -- and we had a really wonderful time. She's a good travel buddy! Also, I drove and we didn't die. We had some trouble when school started with some anxiety. But... things work out. I am very grateful for the school program we ended up in. I've not always had good experiences with school administration when we have had to deal with this in the past, but the administration at this new school was so helpful and so interested in doing what was best for her that I cried. We've shaped up to be in a good place.

I went home to visit my family in July for a quick trip... which became longer when my dad's simple angiogram turned into a worrisome week-long stay at the hospital. The doctors at Mckenzie-Willamette were wonderful, and got him back in shape after a buttload of tests and blood transplants. But it was a long stressful week with lots of driving and lots of worrying.

We took a trip to Leavenworth post-Oktoberfest -- our favorite place... Joel and I did some driving and some dreaming around one morning while the kids were still asleep.  We'd like to move there someday, and we're starting to think about that "someday" more and more.

Monday, December 24, 2018

2018 Through Lenses: The Music of My Year

The Music I Saw:

I went to see a lot of shows this year!  Some by myself, some with my fanatical music devotee of a daughter, even some with my husband.

Miranda Lambert. I started my music-going this year with a Miranda Lambert concert, which was FAB FUN.  My favorite thing at concerts like this is to get the best single seats I can (no one in my family likes country, so I go on my own) and make friends with the people around me. This show, I was in the pit, and made friends with a young couple next to me. The girl and I had the BEST TIME dancing and singing!

CTX DVD. Well, that came out. My reactions were not mild.

Keith Harkin. I hadn't seen Keith for a long time, so it was nice to take him in again. Mostly, I remember this show for two things.
1, a fan trying to convince Keith's wife to let her buy a souvenir at the merch table and then for them to hold onto it, cart it around for weeks, and then deliver it to her friend IN OHIO. Hilarious.
2, me going, "Huh...  He wears no shoes now. We are going full-throttle hippie now."
3. He WAS good. That's just what I remember most. :)

Only notable for me getting snarky and getting myself kicked out of the CT Fan Club.  In retrospect, that was a good thing. So thanks.

Damian McGinty I love seeing Damian when he comes to town -- which fortunately for me is often, but frequently conflicts with other things I have going on.  I think Damian is good fun as a show... his stories are pretty cute, he's got a good mix of song/story, and he's coming into his own style.  For the moment, that includes a buttload of falsetto which is not my favorite. I have this secret theory that all young singer men who come to fame as children go through a falsetto stage. The sooner that it's over for them all, the better! :)

Byrne and Kelly retreat. I went to this with one of my favoritest people, and we really did have a rocking fun time.  I met a lot of nice people, avoided a few crazy people, and a couple that influenced the trajectory of my year. And the music was good -- when they stopped talking. :)

Harry and Kacey. This was a show that I actually convinced Alicia to go with me to. Harry Styles for her... but my darling Kacey Musgraves was opening. So we were both happy. She sang my most favorite song from her new album, and echoing across a giant theater space, it was just beautiful. Chills!  And Harry was fun -- even though I didn't know very many of his songs.

Ed Sheeran. We love us some Ed Sheeran.  Last year, we had seats up the side of the theater, which we decided was not optimum. We like the floor vibe.  So we made sure to get floor seats this year, even a little further back. Much much better and worth it.

Fusion Festival. In Liverpool. Because that's normal.  This was a lot of fun, but I'm probably too old for music festivals. lol Alicia is impressive. The gates opened at noon. She got inside, ran from the entrance to the 2nd row of the viewing area, and STOOD ON HER FEET UNTIL SHAWN FINISHED AT 11:30PM.  Like... my feet would die.  And THEN we couldn't figure out where the cabstand was and it took us forever to find our way back to the hotel. That child needed NEW FEET.  But I was happy. I saw Shawn who I love, and the Vamps who I also now love.

The Vamps Yes, we just saw them in Liverpool. But they came to Seattle a couple weeks later, so we saw them then, too. Alicia already had a ticket... I decided I wanted to go too, and bought one last-minute at the box office. They are super fun. I still like boybands. :)

Jason Mraz. This I saw at the park with Joel, and he was great! I've always liked him, but sort of just afar with whatever was on the radio. This was literally the most positive feel-good concert I've ever been to in my life.  You just left HAPPIER.

CT Road Trip. I took a weekend and went on a Celtic Thunder roadtrip up to Canada. I enjoyed the show, all three times... drank too much wine at one... saw my favorites, endured the Monkees. I thought it might be my last one, but after talking to Sharon, I'll stick around until the end.

Emmett O'Hanlon. I saw Emmett's Christmas show, which is genuinely nice. I think it was about the smallest show I've ever been to, which gave it an odd feeling, but I enjoyed it. He's a very good singer... I'd see more of him. I could have done with the audience that thought they were in the show, but eh.

Post-Modern Jukebox. What ended up my final show of the year... a date with my hubby, and a recent tradition. I didn't think it was quite as good as last year's... oddly short.  But, we had a good time -- and I've decided we're dressing up in period costumes for next year. Joel thinks that was a drunk idea that I've forgotten.  I. Have. Not.

The Music I Listened To:

When my friendship with Ryan started going weird and I ultimately decided to walk away from it, I chose to take Celtic Thunder (and all its related off-shoots) off my playlist for awhile for healthier healing. That was kind of weird at first, as it's been a good chunk of my listening playlist for 10 years. But, as it turns out, I like a lot of things.  So... the empty space was forgotten quickly enough.

So what I did listen to...  The artists I listened to a ton kind of fell into three big chunks.

A good bulk of my playlist has been taken up with Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert. I have full catalogs of for both of those, and they're really two of my very favorites.
  • Kacey
    • Rainbow, Butterflies, Space Cowboy, Somebody to Love, Cup o'Tea, Step Off, Follow Your Arrow, Silver Lining 
  • Miranda
    • Dry Town, Mama's Broken Heart, Same Old You, Oklahoma Sky,  The House That Built Me, Vice, Ugly Lights, You Wouldn't Know Me, We Should Be Friends, I've Got Wheels
Stuff Alicia Will Listen To:
Most of this is either musicians that Alicia has introduced me to that I liked... or stuff off that radio that we both like.
  • Charlie Puth
    • One Call Away, Suffer, Marvin Gaye
  • Ed Sheeran
    • Shape of You, Perfect, Supermarket Flowers, Nancy Mulligan, Save Myself, Don't
  • Jacob Whitesides
    • Not My Type At All, , Broke Billionaire, Rules of Beautiful, Lovesick, Hold On Honey
  • One Direction
    • Half a Heart, Olivia, Little Things
  • Shawn Mendes
    • Never Be Alone, Something Big, This is What it Takes, Memories, Mercy, Hold On, Like To Be You, Queen, Nervous
  • The Vamps
    • CanWe Dance, Wild Heart, Last Night, Oh Cecilia, Just My Type, Cheap Wine
Artists I'm Not Sure How to Categorize: 
This is just sort of the catch-all for everything else. :)
  • Christina Perri-- Lisa introduced me to her several years ago, and I've really liked her ever since. No, I don't know why her song titles aren't capitalized.
    • trust, human, sea of lovers, butterfly, run, bluebird, arms, tragedy
  • Kina Grannis -- I found her by accident one year and she is my queen.
    • Beth, Cheap Thrills cover on the bike, In the Waiting, The Keeper, Valentine, In  Your Arms, Delicate, The Goldfish Song
  • Meghan Trainor -- Started listening to her because of Alicia -- but when all the moms started liking her, she became uncool. 
    • Close Your Eyes, Bang Dem Sticks, Like I'm Gonna Lose You, Just a Friend to You, Woman Up, I Love Me, Me Too, No, Better When I'm Dancin'
  • Lesley Pike -- A girl I fell into a friendship with, whose music I like too.
    • Tides, In the Blood, Muscle Memory, Phoenix, Perfect Storm, My Own, The Ground Below, In Another Life

Sunday, December 23, 2018

2018 through Lenses: Hollywood I consumed

On the  Big Screen:

We went to the movies about once a month this year, and saw several things.  Some I liked, some I thought were awful. But these were my favorites:

  • In January, we saw The Greatest Showman -- or so says my AMC history. I have to think that this was a repeat from December. I know we saw this one a few times. Alicia and I really liked it. Hugh Jackman... I liked Zac Efron...  But what I really loved was the music. Several songs that I took to heart.  Tightrope and This is Me, I think, are my favorites. 
  • In the spring... we saw the new Avengers movie. Twice. Oh, my heart. That was the worst. I mean, good... but the crying when wee Spiderman fluttered away.  I hate the movies!!!
  • In August, we saw The Spy Who Dumped Me with Mila Kunis and Kate MacKinnon.  Oh my god, you guys.  I laughed so hard, I nearly peed myself.
  • And then here lately, we saw Robin Hood. Again. Twice.  Because it's fun. Because it has Taron Egerton.  AND ARCHERY!  I LOVE ARCHERY!!!  I know this movie basically bombed and no one likes it.  Except for me and Alicia.  We love it!

On the Small Screen:

I don't watch much (read: any) network television... I genuinely have to ask my kids how to make the TV go if I do. lol  But I do have Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

  • One of my absolute favorites has to be The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. I'm the only one who likes it here, but do I adore it. I discovered it by whim when it first came out last winter, binge-watched it in 2 days, and then waited impatiently all year waiting for the 2nd season to come out.  It's snappy, quick-paced... funny, poignant. I adore it.
  • Another that we like, that we're currently waiting for the arrival of the next season, is Neil Patrick Harris in A Series of Unfortunate Events. That show makes me laugh!! Quirky stuff makes me happy.
  • Two very different Netflix original shows that I watch with Joel
    • The Ranch.  Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott...  It's pretty funny, in a completely dysfunctional sort of way -- though this season has been pretty dark.  On the plus side, Dax Shephard appears to have joined the cast this season, and I like him.
    • Travelers.  I love this show.  It's got Eric McCormack in it from Will and Grace, who I've always liked.  Basic premise is that people from the future have time-travelled back INTO people to save the world.  It totally stresses me out and messes with my head, but I really like it.
  • Sister Cities.  I watched this movie alone one night and I really liked it.  It's odd.  Like, it's really sort of weird.  But I think there was something about the grown-up sisters coming back together despite all their weird crap that I identified with.
  • And the Good Place.  I wait until it's on Netflix and then binge-watch so I don't know what's happening in Season 3 -- so don't tell me!!!  But I really liked Season Two!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

2018 through Lenses: The Books I Read

I started the year with a nostalgic-filled read of Cary Elwes' Princess Bride memoir, As You Wish. I remember it being a fun, light piece -- something feel-good for a movie that has always been totally beloved.

I indulged in some Neil Gaiman. I deeply enjoyed American Gods - I could barely put it down and it made me think a lot about the idols we create - and what mine are. I followed it up with a reading of Neverwhere -- which I am just now googling to remember what it was about and learning that it was a TV show.  So, things to stream in my future.

Sometimes I forgot how much I adore good fantasy.

I dabbled in a little light politics with Jim Comey's memoir, A Higher Loyalty, and Rock Wilson's book, Everything Trump Touches Dies. Comey's was a refreshing dip into the importance of honor and truth (yes, they still exist), and a book I found to be deeply interesting. Rick Wilson is one of my favorite Twitter follows, and his turns of phrase often make me laugh (and pull out my dictionary). He has an interesting vantage point as a Republican strategist, and lays out some important thoughts and hope into a way forward out of this mess.

I took in some random fiction in America's First Daughter, The Queen's Fool, and To Capture What We Cannot Keep. The first was great and had me thinking a lot about our personal narratives and how we cultivate them. The second two were mostly enjoyable fluff, but I decided to pick up and read the rest of the Queen series, so.

I dove into some psychology and sociology with Craig Malkin's Rethinking Narcissism and Brene Brown's Rising Strong. The first was to help me come to terms with a friendship I was struggling with; the second because I WOULD HAVE BRENE BROWN'S BABIES. Actually, both were super helpful.

The last book is my most beloved find of the year - Nikita Gill's Fierce Fairytales. This is a book of poetry and prose that I picked up off the shelf at Target, flipped through quickly, and then immediately had to have. It presents and thinks about the fairytales we all know in ways that turned them a little upside down and filled my heart to the max. I would share examples with you, but I marked up my copy and sent it to a friend. So I need a new one.  Get one, too!!

And that was my year in books.  Hopefully, more in the new year!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Introvert Problems?

I'm odd.

I'm an introvert. But... also really friendly. I have adopted my dad's ability to strike up a conversation with anyone in the line at the grocery store. And also, talking to people beyond that initial small talk makes me a little nervous. I have a job where I lead workshops with 20+ people that I adore. And small group conversation in which I am a participant is just about the worst thing you can do to me.

I have this big open courtyard where I'm super-open and will let anyone into... and yet my inner walls can be very high and I'm super-picky about who I'll let past them. And if I ever do, I have to work really hard to NOT kick people back out from fear.

I don't make real friends easily. And I'm even worse at maintaining them... I think, partly, because I have a deeply rooted fear of that moment of panic when you're talking to someone, and you've sort of finished the line of conversation you were just on, and you're scrambling for what the next one is going to be. I don't know if everyone else panics in that moment, but I panic. I feel very very inept and pretty sure that whoever I'm with is never going to want to hang out with me again.

I've been out a couple times over the last couple months with old friends where I just... didn't feel that... and it's hard to communicate the relief and gratitude I felt for it.

Several weeks back, I went out with an old friend that I've known for 10 years. We met because of mutual interest in a musical group... lol Well.  She owns it, I follow it. I guess that's mutual interest. Sort of.  Anyway, we began a friendship... half one of friendship, half one of mentoring. She's been terribly kind to me over the years in ways I will always appreciate, and I love her.  But... we hadn't seen each other for three or four years, and when we decided to meet for coffee, I felt that old fear flare up.  "What if we run out of things to talk about in 10 minutes? What if I can't think of what to say? I'm bad at this. What if it's weird? What if it's a total disaster?"

Which... ended up being ridiculous. I worried about filling an hour over coffee. But, our coffee date turned into a coffee... and then across the street for drinks... and then down the block for dinner with her son.  Like 7 hours? Not seeing each other for 3 years gave us tons to catch up on and talk about... lives, our kids, our love lives, work, gossip, lessons and regrets, hopes, plans for the future, the literal whole 9 yards.

I walked back to my car with a full and happy heart.... but also a grateful one. All those things I had worried about just weren't a thing.

Last week, my husband and I met a couple for brunch who are some of our dearest of friends. These ones I didn't even worry about...  We used to live in Southern California, and we had the most awesomest of friend groups when we lived there. They were from that time. We went to college with Fred, we worked in youth ministry at a great church together, and he has been like a brother. When he (finally!) found a woman he loved, I was totally nervous about whether we would get along. But we ended up totally clicking and I adore her!  They moved to Vancouver a year ago, and we have been (badly) trying to get together ever since. But, mission finally accomplished!

Perfect day. Full heart. Embarrassed that it took us so long!

Maybe I just need to worry about all that less. Avoid people less. Be less odd.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Look Forward, Dumbass

Sometimes when I go running... especially if I'm on the bike path...  there are moments when I am trying to run forward, but I'm also trying to look behind me. Perhaps I'm looking to pass someone, perhaps there's a bend in the road. Mostly, I'm wanting to see if there's a bicyclist about to pass me -- it's a well-used route to Microsoft and some of those bicyclists are SERIOUS.  I've been nearly run down in the past.

But, it's pretty hard to move forward in a way that doesn't make you appear drunkish when you're trying to move forward and look backward at the same.  You can't move in a direction your head isn't facing, and you end up veering off. It just doesn't work.

And I suppose it's the same way in life.

I'm a crazy enthusiast of reflection... I could reflect all day -- hence the copious number of posts in this blog circling around the same thoughts over and over. The times of the year where I allow myself to sit down, reflect on the past year, and think about what I want to happen next? Those are probably my favorite parts of the year. I love that stuff.


Reflection has a purpose. It's good to look at where you've been. To take stock of what happened that was good, what happened that wasn't. The choices you made that worked well, the choices you made that were a disaster... but SO THAT you can move forward. There's a point where you stop reflecting and you start moving.

And if you insist on continuing to look back while you try to move forward...

you're going to crash into a bicyclist or fall into the river or break a leg or...

You can't move in a direction your head isn't facing. And if you don't turn around and look in the direction you actually want to go, you'll just end up right back where you left.

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Really Long Lesson

It was several years ago that I was mindlessly scrolling through quotes and pictures and lists on Pinterest, and stopped on one that gave me pause. It was a post on "signs you're involved with a narcissist," and it gave me pause because it felt oddly familiar. It reminded me of a friendship I was involved in, and that correlation dovetailed me into a wave of guilt.

I didn't really know that much about narcissism at the time, and only had a passing sense that it was more-or-less nothing but a description of a jerk. It carries such a negative cultural connotation. So I felt guilty for even thinking it. I genuinely cared for that person. How could I love them and think they might be a narcissist?

I buried it. It wasn't a thought I wanted to entertain.

But it was a seed of doubt that never stayed buried. Over the years, I would continue to see random bits about narcissism. They never really stopped feeling familiar - so it just sort of became this secret belief that I kept hidden. Something I believed but avoided, laced with guilt, complicated by affection - and something I never ever shared. Who would understand?

Until I met someone who did. It was a "me too" moment of the Brene Brown kind. She says, "If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dishes and douse it with empathy, it can't survive. The two most powerful words when we're in struggle: 'Me too.'" And I think she's right. The "me too" didn't make it something I suddenly started sharing - but it took away my guilt and shame, and replaced them with the possibility that I wasn't crazy. That affection and belief could be co-existing states. I allowed myself to admit that it was what I believed, and to simply grow more comfortable with it.

I found myself stepping back a little from that friendship at the beginning of the year.  He had said some things I'd found hurtful and... What I decided was that if I was going to continue in that friendship, I was going to need some better tools to deal. So, I took a deep study dive into narcissism. It took me a little while to find the kind of information I wanted- so much is written from the standpoint of victims who've been hurt and I wanted something more even-handed. I found it in Craig Malkin's Rethinking Narcissism.

I got a lot more out of it than I had planned.

I learned a lot. I learned what the scale of narcissism looks like - what healthy narcissism is, what the unhealthy looks like, what echoism is - where it all comes from, how to better recognize it. I found some insight into how you get drawn into it, why it's been hard for me to pull out of it. With a sad heart, it helped me to realize that the things I found to be most consistently hurtful were things that I couldn't change, no matter how much patience, loyalty, and trust I laid out. But it also gave me a healthier lens with which to see those things - how they were far more connected to the personal fears of someone else than they were anything to do with me. That they really weren't about me at all -- and that was tremendously freeing to my residency in self-blame.

In the end, it affirmed my belief that you could think someone exhibited those tendencies and still love them -- but also made me see that loving them might be safer from afar with healthier boundaries.  And a moment intended to wound sealed that.

Looking back....

I went out with a friend recently and admitted with chagrin, "You were right. You warned me not to get involved."

"I did... And you weren't going to listen. But it sounds like you know now."

And maybe that's all you can do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

True at the Same Time

I was a young mom the first time I really understood that two seemingly conflicted things could both be true at the same time.

I'd been having a really hard time, struggling to just hold on from day to day when one of my closest friends said to me, "Jojo... I think you should see a doctor. What I've been watching you go through really sounds like depression to me."

At the time, that perplexed me. I'd been having a hard time, sure, but... I'd just been laughing with my friends about something. If I was capable of moments of happiness, how could I be depressed? That, of course, stemmed from an inaccurate definition of depression, but it was also the first time that I understood that conflicting things could be true.

You can be depressed but also joyful.
You can be angry with someone that you love.
You can be tired, and yet awake.
You can share tenderness with someone who has broken your heart.
You can be motivated and yet worn out.
You can be happy and sad.
You can miss someone that you know you are better off without.

Heart truths, I have found, are rarely mutually exclusive.

Complicated creatures with complicated feelings.

And all true.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Write what you need.

At the beginning of the school year, I sat down and wrote out some areas that I wanted to focus this year.  Some small, some big...  One of them was giving myself the space to write more.

That ebbs and flows a bit... partly with what I have on my mind, partly with how much time I have, partly with how tired I feel. But, compared to how much I wrote last year -- which was crap nothing-- I'm pleasantly happy with that.

But when I wrote those goals, I also sat down and wrote out some details for each one...  and writing had three that have stuck out to me, that I've tried to follow.  Guidelines that I've not always followed well in the past, but that I think are more in line with what I want writing to be in this season.

1. You have permission to be honest.
2. Above all, this is for you. Don't write for feedback. Don't write what you think others want to hear.
3. Write what you need.

This is where I am right now. This is the aim -- in all its convolutedness and stops and starts. And that's okay -- because right now, it's just for me.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Morning Tale

The fire burned slowly in the hearth on that cold morning, and she sat by the window with a cup of tea, watching the world outside. The pine needles had long begun to fall from the trees, already brown, and they littered her yard like a forest of fossilized ferns.

They fell in what was left of her garden. They fell in the leaves of her rhododendrens. They fell on the railing of her porch. They fell so heavily amongst the blades of grass that her yard had ceased to look so much as a yard, as it was just a graveyard for the trees' discards.

What was left of them blew softly in the wind.

A lone golf ball nestled amongst them under a bush. There were no golf courses nearby and she didn't know anyone who played... Her thoughts gently pondered who had left it there. She'd probably taken care of him anyway.

Her eyes roamed through the tangled web of needles to rest on the birdhouse that lay at its far edge. She nearly always forgot it was there.

Inside the birdhouse, though she had mostly forgotten, there lived a wee robin. His name was Charles. Charles woke every morning and hopped to the round door of the birdhouse. He stretched his wings and tried to speak, but could only chirp.

And before he flew down to the needle-strewn yard to sift for his breakfast of worms, he eyed the house warily. He searched the window for her face. And he planned.

He hadn't always been a bird named Charles who lived in a birdhouse and pecked for worms in the morning.

He'd once been Charles the Man.  That was his golfball.  Someday soon, the witch would pay.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

10 Favorite Songs (circa 2018)

I always think that you get to know a lot about a person when you troll the music they listen to... what stirs their soul.  Right now, my Fall playlist has something like 300 songs on it -- but these are the ones that I like a lot at the minute and rarely find me skipping them to something else.

1. Kacey Musgraves, Rainbow.  Kacey has been one of my absolute favorite female artists for a long while... ever since I heard "Merry Go 'Round" several years ago. I love that she's a little quirky and just does her own thing.  This song is off of her new album and I love it. Hearing her sing it in a big arena, stripped back and pure, was about the best thing ever.

2. The Vamps, Just My Type.  My daughter Alicia turned me onto this little pop group from Britain.  I find them to be a lot of fun, lots of energy, and a ton of fun to bop to in the car.

3. Wrecking Ball, Sarah Blackwood, Jenni Pleau, Emily Bones.  This is Sarah from the group Walk Off the Earth.  I've loved this cover ever since they put it out and couldn't download it fast enough. I just think it's so pretty!

4. Butterfly, Christina Perri. My friend Lisa introduced me to Christina years ago, and I've loved her ever since.  She appeased the angsty in me. :) I've always loved this song about letting go that which won't be caught.

5. In the Blood, Lesley Pike.  Lesley became a friend a couple years ago in a moment of serendipity, and this is probably my favorite track from her new album (though some days, that changes). It's really pretty, fun to harmonize to, and touches all my tender sweet spots... with a little bit of bittersweetness.

6. In the Waiting, Kina Grannis.  Several years ago, I started using this website called Mixtapes (or something like that). You could basically make public playlists of your favorite songs...  What I loved it for is that I would put in the name of an artist I liked, and playlists would come up with that person in it... but it would often introduce me to new indie artists that I also liked.  One weekend, while doing that, this one song kept coming up in different lists that I liked (Valentine, if you care to look it up), and that's how I stumbled onto Kina Grannis. Ever since, she's become someone I always keep an eye on. This is one of her newer songs that I really love.

7. We Should Be Friends, Miranda Lambert. My other country queen!  I love her to death.  I have fun fun memories of her last concert, befriending the girl next to me in the pit, and dancing the night away to this song. :)

8. Queen, Shawn Mendes.  Obviously, also Alicia's influence.  But I love Shawn.  And it amuses the heck out of me that some girl snubbed him, and it made him mad enough to write this song.

9. Have it All, Jason Mraz. Joel and I saw Jason in concert this summer -- quite possibly the most positive upbeat shows I've ever been to -- and I loved this new-ish song that he finished with.

10. Space Cowboy, also Kacey Musgraves.  I do love her so she gets two. Love love love this song.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Through Different Eyes

Several years ago, I was blowing off steam to a friend because my husband was working a lot.  And she laughed at me.

"Jojo..." she said, "You know you're exactly the same."

"What do you mean?"

"Well... you don't have a lot of middle ground.  When you're into something or you think something is important, you're into it like 900%. You give it everything you have, and a little bit more that you don't."

"Oh. Maybe. I mean, I guess that's probably true."

Sometimes, I find that I get so close to things that I can't really see the bigger picture.  There's that saying that you can't see the forest for the trees... but I envision it a bit more like the difference between normal-person-view and what the yard looked like to the miniature children in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids."

What seems like an insurmountable obstacle... is really just a blade of grass if you look at it from a different vantage point.  But I get so stuck in the first view that I forget there is another. I believe in the truth of the one without considering whether that truth really needs to be that important.

And sometimes I just need a little help to step back and see it through different eyes.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Not Your Timing

I've been taking better control of my health and self-care since the beginning of August. Some days, it's an upward slog!  But I'm doing it. 

I finally found a new "why," and that's helping.  I haven't really had one for a long while.  I'm not positive it's an entirely healthy why, but it's strong enough to keep me going for now.

I've had a really good string of weeks' worth of weight loss, with 6 weeks in a row of 2lb losses.  I know I was due for a mini-plateau.  That's just how my body works.  Lose, lose, lose, OMG YOU'RE GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH I AM NOT LETTING GO OF A SINGLE OUNCE!, oh we're not dead, fine, lose, lose.


When you're making the right choices, you impatiently want all the right results NOW. Even when you know that's unreasonable.

So I did lose this week... but it was 0.2 -- which is basically nothing but a good pee and not 2 lbs at all.

So today, I am taking solace and comfort in these things:

  • My food choices were on point.
  • I got 6 blue dots this week. (Which is WW-ese for 'I made reasonable healthy choices all week.')
  • I earned 100+ Fitpoints -- moving a crapton of firewood and running twice.
  • I've already mealplanned for next week until we leave for a mini-vacation.
  • I'm running again.
  • My leader/coach/longtime friend came up to me in line this morning and whispered, "I can SEE your weight loss" in my ear. I can't see it yet, so that was really really nice to hear.

Earlier this week, I was reading an Instagram post of a WW ambassador who was sort of in the same place I am today.  She made great choices all week, worked out multiple times, felt great about the choices she'd made -- and the scale rewarded her with a 2lb gain.  Suck!

But a comment someone left on it caught my eye: "Have faith. The scale has its own timing." -- And that stuck with me.

So, relax, Impatient Me. Keep making choices that you know are good for your body and soul. Have faith.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Boy Shopping

At the coffee shop I frequent, there is a big oblong table in the middle of the room with several stools around it. You often end up sitting with others -- while I try not to eavesdrop, it's hard to not hear what other people are talking about, and I often find myself chatting with strangers.

Last weekend, I was having my Saturday morning breakfast and doing some brainstorming, sitting next to two late 20-something girls. They were scanning through pictures on one girl's phone.

I couldn't quite tell at first whether they were perusing cute guys or looking at make-up pictures.

"Those eyebrows, though!"
"That looks nice!"

But when one of them murmured, "Oh. Do YOU need a baby momma?" -- I busted out laughing.

Definitely cute guys. Caught, they laughed with a touch of chagrin.  This girl had an entire Pinterest board full of guy photos. I laughed.

"It's okay," I reassured them. "When I was in high school, and I was having a hard time, my mom would go, 'Come on, let's go boy shopping.' We'd hop in the car, she'd drive me to the local college campus, and we'd just tool around looking for cute boys on the frat house lawns."

"OH. MY. GOD," one of them said. "Your mom is AWESOME. Is she adopting??"

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thursday Tales: Game Over

She stifled a scream as the arrow pierced through her skin.  She knew this one had hit its mark.

Liza crumpled against the wall, feeling its cold seep into her skin, and with her last short breaths, she remembered.

She remembered being a child.
She remembered being young and carefree.
She remembered her first love and all the loves that had come after.
She remembered the people she'd walked over, and the people who had walked over her.
She remembered the pain of both.
She remembered all the things she'd love to live again, and all the things she wished that she'd chosen differently.
She remembered everything she'd sacrificed to come to this moment.
She just remembered.

At the last moment, her vision sizzled -- as it sizzled every time -- and the words flashed before her eyes.


She always chose "Try again."

Monday, October 15, 2018

Believe in the Impossible

But, to live in a world where fairies are real is to live in a world where dragons are, as well.

Dragons and Monsters and Trolls.

And Heroes.

Definitely heroes -- because every hero's story is imbued with a tale of redemption. Trial and failure.. and ultimately triumph. Whether that comes in the form of a jubilant return home or a the dragging a wounded self out of the rubble to a new reality.

And you need that. You need to know that your trial and your failure can become redemption and triumph.  And maybe just the redemption is enough.

To know that your wounds are not for nothing, and your pain is for a purpose. To know that there is something bigger at work, and that there are things worth fighting for. Worth surviving. To know that you can rise again.

And perhaps, really, this is what belief in the impossible is for -- for what we come to believe is possible gets smaller and smaller when it needs to instead become larger and larger.

The hero we can be needs to believe in the impossible to become.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Where the Fairies Live

Leaving the house on Saturday morning, my spirits high, my trip to the car was interrupted when I spied these little darlings growing next to the walkway in our garden. I couldn't resist pulling my phone out to snap a couple pictures of them.

Later in the day, as we were sitting on the couch watching football, I pulled them out and showed my little friends off to my husband like they were new kittens (which I also have now!)

"Look what I found outside! Aren't they cute?"

Humoring me, he said, "I suppose that means you don't want me to weed them out, then."

"NO! But they're so little! Besides," I argued, reasonably, "you can't pick them. That's where the fairies live."

My darling logical analytical computer engineer husband rolled his eyes. "They are not. Fairies aren't real."

Now... I don't know. 


I mean, if I were to use only my logical analytical brain (which is a waste of half of brain, btw), I don't know if fairies are real. Or leprechauns. Or ghosts. Or Narnia or Middle-Earth or Gilead. Or unicorns or pegasuses. (Pegasi?)  I mean... I guess.... probably they aren't. Maybe.

But... I like to live in a world (and a brain) where they could be.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Storms and Stories

I sit by the window, wrapped in a blanket, a cup of something warm in my hand and the storm rages outside. I stare into it, its force hynotizing me with its strength, mirroring the storm that rages in my soul.

If I stepped outside - as I will eventually have to do - I know the winds will do their worst with me, whipping my body this way and that, threatening to wrest me into its center.

The whirlwind of my thoughts threatens to do the same.

But, for this moment at least, I am content to sit by this window.
Wrapped in this blanket.
Clutching this cup of tea.

I am content to be sheltering out of the storm, watching it from a place of safety.

I know both storms will need to be dealt with. I know they are not over.

But, for now, the peace inside is a welcome respite.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A New Adventure at 42

It feels weird to say that I'm 42 and I'm not really sure what I like to do. It's something I've been thinking a fair bit about the last couple of weeks.

I have these journalling cards that I bought forever ago called "Life Coach in a Box."  Sounds silly, I guess, but it's just a bunch of introspective questions to help you revamp different areas of your life.  I was flipping through them while at the coffee shop and my eyes landed on one of the first questions on "Recreation."

To be honest, Recreation wouldn't be the first area of my life that jumped out to me as something that might need to be tweaked.  But, the first question was about brainstorming the things you liked to do as a child... and it made me think about what I enjoyed doing... and how I wasn't quite sure what that was anymore.

I don't know if that's weird. Part of that, I know, is that I've been a manband fan for the last ten years, in a slightly psychotic 250% fashion, and I'm at the point now where I'm finally ready to put that aside.  But it's taken up a good part of my thoughts and time and emotion in that ten years, so now I'm a little bit, "Well, now what?"

But, part of it, too, is just where I'm at. My kids are all high school juniors and seniors... it's not long before they all start flying the coop in one fashion or another, and I'm starting to wonder who I am, what do I do when I'm not actively raising teenagers, driving them around, making memories, doing what they like to do. And maybe a lot of it is that I'm not quite sure who I am when that's not my primary focus.

So maybe it's not totally weird.  Maybe the process of figuring it out again could be fun. Maybe the things I liked when I was a kid are still the things I like now.  Maybe they're not.

And maybe the game of finding new things could be an adventure worth savoring.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Collector of Advice

I am a collector... of advice. Probably because I harbor too much self-doubt. Too little self-trust.

Am I understanding things correctly? Am I missing something? Am I being unreasonable? Is this even the right thing or am I going to regret this in two days? Do I even know what I'm talking about? Am I being unfair? Am I expecting too much? Too little? 

The tape plays on.

And so I collect advice. Some comes from peers. Some comes from my mentors. Some comes unsolicited from people who don't really know the full of it but would like to contribute anyway -- which I generally toss, but not really, because it floats around in my head for longer than it should, all mixed up with the doubt and the trust.

Much of it just swirls in my mind ad nauseum. Some of it gets saved forever.
Don't go back ..... Eventually they will f*ck you over, they always do. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it's C'est la vie, sometimes you're so ready for them to go it's just a massive relief.
Some of it doesn't make sense at first... Or it does cognitively, but I don't understand it enough in my heart to put it into practice. Sometimes it takes years until it gets there. Sometimes it's advice that I know is well-meant with love, but that I know I'm not ready to take -- so I've kept it.  Until I am.

Until I lose my doubt.
Until I trust myself.
Until I'm ready.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Top Ten Goals for Fall 2018 and beyond

I have finally (fingers crossed) gotten all my children back in school (of one sort or another), and it was time for me to think about what I want this school year to look like and where I want to put my focus.


My Top 10 Goals for the Season

  1. Get kids back on a normal sleep schedule. 
  2. Put activity back into my lifestyle.
  3. Foster a priority of better self-care and calm.
  4. Consistently eat on-plan.
  5. Take the time to read more.
  6. Find some time to visit home, Amanda, Kendra.
  7. Give yourself space to write.
  8. Experience this year the best that you can.
  9. Make space for the activities you love.
  10. Delegate. You're not the only one who can do dishes.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Thoughts and Ramblings: Lesley Pike and "Honey and Rust"

"Good luck on your new album... Is it superstitious to say that? .... And as your new music takes shape, I hope the process of writing finds you well and happy. I've always really liked your songs that left me feeling sort of empowered - I hope it all goes well."

I sent that to Lesley Pike two years ago when she announced she was starting to write for another album, intended as a kind message of something resembling closure. Which I am obviously really bad at, as that message ended up turning into a friendly relationship of sorts. I'm more hesitant to claim friendship with people than I once was. Just because I think of someone as a friend doesn't mean they think of me that way. But we'll say friendly, at least.

This is filled with a touch of serendipity for me. Something I didn't plan for, but needed. A shared love for a certain genre of reading, but not just... I needed someone to talk to. Someone I could be butt-honest with about things I had always avoided saying out loud or even admitting to myself. Someone who wouldn't tell me I was being crazy or unfair. I needed a listening ear and a soft place to land when I inevitably crashed.

Musically, I like Lesley for the same reasons I like Kina Grannis. For the same reasons I love Miranda Lambert's "Weight of These Wings" or Kacey Musgraves or Christina Perri. The music I play the most over and over, especially from female artists, is music I can find myself in, music that has depth to its source and something for me to sink my teeth into. And I kind of think that the only way you can make music like that is to put a good chunk of yourself into it. I'd heard Lesley's last couple albums... I knew she was that kind of songwriter.

"Honey and Rust" came out while I was in Ireland. I downloaded it one morning and listened in the early morning hours while waiting for a teenager to wake up, and then a few more times while we flew to Liverpool. I flipped to a song I knew would be on there first out of... if I'm honest, probably curiosity and a little bit of trepidation. Is it possible to be disappointed in something you already know? ... but then flipped back to the top to listen through like a normal person.

Some songs made me smile... Who can resist a snappy song of redemption and triumph over the trials that threaten to bring you down?  Phoenix is that song, and is frequently in my head. (Sorry, People of Target.) Muscle Memory, more than anything to me, pulses along the lines of the Mindfulness I've been trying to capture over the last couple years -- balancing between obsessing about the past and worrying about what might come next to center on what is.

My favorite is probably In the Blood. It's simple, it's heartfelt...  it's easy to find myself in it. And that's not a very long analysis, but it's the nicest thing that I could possibly say about any piece of music I loved.  I listen to it a lot.

I mean, y'all...

I can see you looking for love in those places
Searching in everyone's face and everywhere it can't be found.
I can feel you running away from what heals you
Spinning your wheels, trying to keep your feet up off the ground
Darling, I'll be here when you come down.

Two years have gone by since that message, Lesley... and the music has taken shape... and a lot has happened... and I hope the writing has left you well and happy and resilient.

Thank you for listening to me.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

My tug-of-war with Byron Katie :)

A long while back, a friend of mine recommended a book by Byron Katie to me. I picked up Loving What Is and started reading it.  As memory serves, I'm almost certain I was on a trip somewhere because I remember an airplane. 

Not that an airplane has anything to do with this.

I read the first couple chapters... and I hated it. 

It made me mad. 

There was this section I was reading, and the gist of what made me mad was this idea that we were wrong, or at least unhelpful to ourselves, to get stuck in believing people "should" act a certain way when they aren't.  It's hard to explain if you haven't read it yourself. But, she really argued against that idea, and I wanted to argue right back. 

People who are being dipshits SHOULD act differently!!

It just made me mad... or...  it might be more accurate to say that I just didn't want to do it that way. I wasn't ready to let go of the "they should be different"s.  I was still hanging on to what I wanted.

I put it away. I wasn't ready for that. I chalked it up to "Well... we can't ALWAYS like the same books." :)

Fast forward many many months... and I was sitting on the floor, matching socks, and listening to a podcast on my headphones, when the podcast guest was Ms Katie.

The guy who hosted the show was going through a time of upheaval in his life. He'd recently broken up with his girlfriend, and was having a pretty hard time getting through it and healing.  And so I just listened while Byron Katie went through the Work with him, asking him questions, guiding him through one part or another.

But she said something that really resonated and stuck with me. The gist of it was that he wasn't necessarily grieving the relationship as it was.  But, he was grieving for his hopes and dreams of what that relationship would become. It was maybe less that the relationship itself had ended, but that the hope had to end. The pictures in his head had to end. Letting go of the relationship itself held less pain than that of letting go of his future.

That's stuck with me for a long time.  And as I've walked through the healing of walking away from a friendship I had once really valued, I've come back to that a few times. My thoughts about what could have been were harder to let go of than what actually was.  Maybe she isn't crazy, after all.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Calgon, take me away!

I realize that this is belated... and if I was going to do this, given that my children are now 18, 18, and 17, I probably should have started years earlier...  but I have decided that, from now on, I'm just going to take September off from life.

A deserted island. A solitary beach. Definitely a maid and a chef.

And a bartender.

It's been a rough week for the beginning of school... full of unexpected twists and turns.  Grief, unexpected situations, anxiety, counselling, starting community college, withdrawing from an old school, registering in a new one, disappointed hopes, a freaking lot of barking.

I'm pretty good at being a mom, you guys... but JE-SUS.

P.S. This graphic made me laugh for reals.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Becoming at peace

In the end, I guess it doesn't matter. I've known that I would end up here for two years. I just didn't know how or when or what it would entail in the end.

I've been so butt-dumb vague for now that this probably doesn't even make sense to most people. And to those that it does, it's either understandable or it's not, and I couldn't do anything about that anyway without betraying myself.

I genuinely don't want anyone to be disappointed in me. But I want to be disappointed in me even less. I can only go down my own road, even if I'm the only one on it.

And I'm afraid that sounds all mad and defiant - but it's not. I've just realized how it has be, and am striving to be at peace with a different direction.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Leaning in

I've tried not to hurry through this. Brene Brown talks about leaning into the discomfort -- letting yourself feel it, not skipping the grieving in order to get to the healing.  I think that I do that a lot. My logic brain kicks in (though my husband would probably argue that my logic brain doesn't show up very often), and I rationalize the grief, the sadness, the disappointment until I will myself to just move on.

I'm a good "shove it under the rug"-er.

But I think you rob yourself of something when you hurry through the discomfort.  Healing has to be better than avoiding and pretending. So, though I'm not very good at it, I've tried to let myself hover a little bit.  To take my time, to let myself be sad, to let myself feel the regret, to understand the disappointment and what it is I'm disappointed in.  To allow the disappointment to exist without trying to run in and fix it.  To admit that it isn't really fixable.

While that's been slower... I think it's made it easier to let go of.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Self-Blame vs Disappointment

Back in January, I was reading a book, and it was talking about the difficulties that some people have in letting go of relationships. There was so much in this section of the book that felt familiar to me.  The author described how many times, instead of leaving, you find reasons to stay -- particularly by taking up residence in self-blame. If you can make you the problem, then you can fix the problem.  More or less.

He went on to state something that I've found myself thinking about a lot, off and on, ever since:

One way you can liberate yourself from this kind of self-criticism is by confronting a feeling you've probably come to fear more than you realize: disappointment.

Disappointment doesn't seem like much at first.  The first time I read it, I almost skimmed past it.  Anger and hurt and resentment sound like more important emotions -- like their immediate potency makes them more valid. Disappointment sounded like a throwaway.  But as I read on, I returned to it and let it sink in.

I would rather be angry.  If I'm being honest. Anger is protective and eventually burns out... disappointment has to be faced and accepted and dealt with.

That has been harder.

Rethinking Narcissism, Dr Craig Malkin

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Don't be disappointed in me

For a good number of years, the well-meant advice was to not open the box. It wasn't a good idea, I'd regret it, it wasn't a healthy thing to do.  But I was stubborn, and I thought I wanted what was in it, and so I merrily went about opening it anyway, but with a litany of reasons to explain of why I was willing to ignore the advice, why I was willing to accept the risk, why I wasn't an idiot.

Because, I think, more than anything...  I loved those people who gave me the advice, and I didn't want them to be disappointed in me.

Fast forward a few years, and I shamefully admit that they were probably right.  It wasn't a good idea, it wasn't a healthy thing for me to do, what was in the box wasn't as great as I thought it would be.  I'm carefully trying to put the lid back on it and set it in the corner, but find myself with a similar need that I had before. I want to explain because...

... because I don't want anyone to be disappointed in me.

Maybe because I'm a little disappointed in me, too.  For which thing, I'm not entirely sure - or maybe it's for all of them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Currently: August 2018 edition

Current Books: Let's see...  I'm reading "Everything Trump Touches Dies" by Rick Wilson, who is a Republican strategist I started following on Twitter a couple years ago who makes me laugh often.  I'm slowly reading "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron, which was recommended to me by my friend Lesley. That one requires a slow read...  there is much to be chewed on.  I recently finished "America's First Daughter," which I really enjoyed - but am now in search for my next fiction read?

Current Playlist: I actually just added a ton of songs to my phone -- about 800 -- with plans to separate them into playlists for myself.  It's pretty much everything I own that I like (with a small exception)...  but there is a lot of Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert, who have been my go-to artists for awhile now.  A lot of Shawn Mendes and Jacob Whitesides (my favorite of Alicia's music interests).  A lot of Christina Perri and Meghan Trainor.  Who else... Ed Sheeran. And a couple new-to-me-right-now-but-owned-a-long-time-ago musicals. :)

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Ok, we were just in Vancouver, BC last weekend and stumbled across this ice cream joint called Earnest Ice Cream. Oh. My. God.  I got the "Oatmeal Brown Sugar" flavor, and it was basically like someone turned oatmeal cookie dough into ice cream. Somehow.  It is very good that I do not have one next door.

Current Colors: I'm pretty sure my colors are generally always the same. :)  Blues and purples and greens...  with a smattering of yellow on game days. 

Current Food: Man, I don't know.  I've recently gotten myself back on-plan... so my breakfasts have been a lot of yogurt/berries/granola and lunches a lot of chicken salad wraps.  I had a fried twinkie at the fair, that was different. Not really good. But different.

Current Drink:
Daytime: Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte, if I'm at Starbucks. Nonfat/half-sweet Cafe Stefano at Five Stones
Evening: Joel's had me all over trying out beers this summer, and I have branched out a LITTLE from my normal comfort zone of porters and stouts.  Porters are still my favorite drinking beer, but I had a lager and a belgian white and some of his kolsh.   I even sipped a bit of one of his IPAs and didn't hate it.

Current Favorite Favorite: Mostly I am just enjoying my summer with no guilt. We have been busy, but doing all fun things.  Alicia and I are finishing up the summer with a very fun week before she goes back to school. Ed Sheeran concert followed by a week in Ireland followed by a hop to Liverpool for the Fusion Festival featuring Shawn Mendes before we fly back for the start of school.

Current Wishlist: Right now? Right now, I'd say my wishlist is mostly just for healing and peace. Broken friendships, sad children, a new school year.  I don't really need any things... but healing and peace would be a good start to the new year.

Current Needs: Sleep. Determination. Follow-through. Time and distance. Patience.

Current Triumph: Restarting my writing habit -- even if it's not great at the beginning.  I'm happy to be giving myself the space to do it again, and I'm happy to have a little bit different focus and aim.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Wildfire smoke!!!

Current Celebrity Crush: Oh, y'all. That's easy.  --->>>>

Current Indulgence: One small bowl of Doritos/Cheetos/Sunchips/pretzels snack mix in the afternoon.

Current Mood: "On watch."  We had a pet death in the family, so I'm sort of in "counsel all the children" mode.  Which means I'm taking the time to soak in the quiet of this morning.

Current #1 Blessing: The ability to go do fun things.

Current Slang or Saying: "Choose what gets your investment."

Current Outfit: It's summer. Comfort all the way.  Mostly capris and tank tops!
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