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.
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