30 April 2012

Pieces of Me

I've had so many thoughts and dreams and hopes and schemes and musings and ponderings and moments of fears and despairs and more rolling around in my head lately. 

Nothing bad, rest assured, please. 

But as much as I wanted, no, needed to write my thoughts, I knew enough that those thoughts needed a little time. 

To flower. 

To take root. 

To reach to the sky. 

And the stars far beyond. 

So that I could understand, really understand just all those thoughts and dreams and hopes and schemes and musings and ponderings and moments of fears and despairs and more. 

And so I did. 

I stepped away. No daily journal thoughts. No blog posts, not really. And barely any photographs. 

But now?

Oh, now. 

I understand.

And oh I have thoughts and stories to share with you this week. Bits and pieces of me, really. 

I can't wait. 

His First Car

He came home with his very first car on Friday night. Needless to say, he's in love. It's just one of a few things we're doing to try to ease his horrendous three hour round-trip commute that he's patiently endured this past year. So very excited for him!

26 April 2012

Letting Go of a Dream

Not going to lie to you. It hurts a bit. 

Generally, I'm happy and upbeat around these parts. Mostly because I'm generally happy and upbeat in real life. But this blog is real life too. And sometimes you have to share the sad.

I'm in a bit of mourning. 

I'd held this dream so very dear for so very long now. And we were actively planning on making it a reality later this year. So I admit, I cried for a while last night. 

And I'm still a bit sad today. 

Well, maybe more than a bit sad. 

At my last thyroid appointment, (where I got the all-clear on my thyroid), the doctor became quite concerned when I admitted I was taking quite a bit of benedryl, and ordered me in for a round of allergy testing. 

I've had allergy tests as a little girl, so I'm not a stranger to them. I know I have allergies, but really, I thought I was doing pretty well. 

But oh. Oh, no. 

The last thing you want to hear your very experienced doctor say is "Oh wow." Especially followed up with "you are really allergic to the whole world."

I tested so severely on every single trigger, she didn't bother with the usual secondary test. Instead, I got scripts for allergy pills, spray, and eye drops. I was told I'd have to start getting allergy shots. Most people have to go for three to five years before they are "cured." My doctor looked me right in the eye and said, "you're going to need a lot longer than five years."

So I left with a laundry list of must-haves and don't-dos for my next apartment. Because I'm triggered by every single one of the seasonal triggers (no relief year-round) and all the environmental triggers. And well, frankly, a garden apartment is just the absolute worst for those kinds of allergies. My body is under siege, she told me, which explained the mysterious nighttime hives I've been breaking out in over the last year. 

But back to the lost dream. 

No pets. 


Meaning that dog I so desperately want to love and cuddle and walk and spoil rotten is not meant to be. 

I can have a fish. Or a stinky turtle. Or I can watch birds through the closed windows. 

But no cuddly dog to play with and for us to love. 

I cried. 

I'm grateful we found out before we adopted a pup of our own. But it still hurts. 

I know it's a first world problem to have, but really, letting go of any dream requires a bit of a mourning period, especially a dream so close to coming true. 

So I may be a bit sad for a while. And I'm okay with that. 

20 April 2012

Oh Chicago...

18 April 2012


Someday I'll see this magical sight in person, for myself.

What Makes a House a Home?

I've been thinking lately. 

A lot more so that usual. 

Not to say I never not think, but just that I'm thinking long and hard about very specific topics. 

One such topic that's been on my mind a lot lately is what makes a house a home?

How much stuff do we need to make it a home? What do we need? What do we want? What can we do without?

With a move looming on summer's horizon, I've been ruthless in asking myself that lately. 

I, by nature, absolutely need and want a cozy home. 

Blankets everywhere. Furniture that invites you to sit down, relax, and stay a spell. Memories peeking out of frames and corners (and not hidden away). Color and personality. Candles. Always candles. 

But I'm also, as I get older, becoming much more of a minimalist. I'll never reach Joe's monk-like levels of minimalism, and I'm okay with that

I'm addicted to weeding out our belongings and then looking around again and asking "what else can go?"

I'm trying to be mindful about it though. 

For example, I thought for a long time that I wanted to trade in the ironing board for a space-saving ironing mat. Especially since we rarely iron our clothes. But then, I realized just how much I use that ironing board when I'm sewing. And so it stays. 

But when I think about it, I'm trying to step away from the clutter. Clutter, everywhere. And the noise of too much stuff. 

I want a home that's warm and inviting and reflects our personalities. I also want a modern-ish, streamlined home. Something soothing and peaceful. My goal is to use this move as a chance to create that ideal home. I think it can be achieved. 

So excuse me while I go weed out some more junk to donate to the White Elephant shop....

16 April 2012

Being Bold

I'm sad that Blogging from the Heart is over. 

I feel like I gained so much confidence in my writing, and more importantly, in myself during this online class. And I know I've gained some great friends through the supportive community of my classmates. 

I'm so glad I took the class. 

But I tell you, there's been an unexpected side effect of this class. 

I've gotten bolder. 

In public, nonetheless. 

I speak up more often now. 

I worked out of Starbucks this afternoon. A rare luxury I allow myself (working from Starbucks could be an expensive habit) once in a blue moon when I've got a heavy workload and need a boost of motivation. 

As I worked, I generally didn't pay attention to the other customers. I was there to work. Until a woman sat down directly across from me. And her hair, oh my, her hair. Well, I couldn't help but notice it out of the corner of my eye. 

So wild and free. Not fully curly, but a definitive curl-wave action going on. Just like my hair when I let it have its way. The same way I love my hair, if I'm honest. And better yet, it was free to go grey as it wished. No dye job visible. The best part was, it looked graceful and elegant in its wild and free way.....not haggard, like we so often describe women who chose to go grey naturally. 

It was, quite simply, how I hope I have the courage to go grey when it's my turn. 

And after I sat and admired her hair for a while, as I packed up to go, I couldn't resist being bold and walking over. The boldness was bubbling up out of me at this point. 

"Excuse me," I said, "this might sound awkward, but I just wanted to tell you that I love your hair."

She smiled and blushed and stammered out a pleased-but-surprised thank you. 

And I felt better. 

I think she did too. 

So thank you, Susannah and my Blogging from the Heart classmates. Thank you for helping me rediscover my voice again. For helping me find the moments I'm passionately emotional, in both good and bad ways. For helping me find the courage to say what's in my heart and on my mind. For helping me be bold again. For helping me find the audacity to really be me, the genuine KtMac, instead of the KtMac I thought society expected. Thank you. 

Young At Heart

Joe and I have been discussing some serious, weighty matters lately. They're good conversations, and necessary, but they leave both of us with this undeniable sense of feeling grown-up

And while there's times being a grown-up is a good thing, too much leaves us both wanting to be kids again. 

So that's what we did this weekend. 

And I tell you, that ride on the ferris wheel was just what the doctor ordered to have us feeling young at heart again. 

12 April 2012

A Little Thyroid Update

Some of you may remember I had my thyroid removed way back in June. I opted to have it removed because it was a goiter with several nodules that seemed to be growing, quite rapidly, and there was some concern about the fact that the nodules were growing so quickly. As it turned out, it was a great decision because they found a hidden grapefruit-sized tumor that was displacing other throat organs. It was, fortunately, benign. 

Well, as of today, I no longer have to go in for regular follow-ups. The only time I need to see the doctor is if I feel there's a problem. Such a relief. And SO much better than annual biopsies. Those were wickedly painful.

As for the scar? Well, it's healing up quite nicely too. 

 Awkward self-portrait taken about two weeks post-surgery.

And ten months later, trying to ignore Joe in the park this last weekend. 

09 April 2012

These are the Magical Moments

These are magical moments. So sweetly sentimental, that there are times when, even in the midst of them, I find happy tears in the corners of my eyes. All the more so when I look back and remember.

We spent a good part of the weekend in the Emerald City Garden. 

Just the name invokes a magical place. 

And it is a magical place. Indeed. A beautiful community garden right in the heart of the city. If you look closely, you can see the Hancock Tower off in the distance. And if you choose to not look at all, you're in a wonderland of flowers. 

We spread out an old, faded, well-loved bedsheet that was my parents' once upon a time in the seventies. It is our go-to blanket for the parks and beaches we spend so much time enjoying. The blanket, bottles of water, and books, along with whatever else we want for the day are always carrying in a beautifully colorful bag Joe's Mom gifted me from her trip to Guatemala. There's comfort to be found in the ritual of having those things play their designated roles. 

Our intent had been to read and soak up some sunlight. 

The reality was we both cat-napped. 

We took turns using each other as a pillow and slept in the golden sun. 

It felt so warm and comforting after the grey winter. And the wind was enough to keep it from being uncomfortably hot. 

But even better was my nap in the crook of Joe's arm. There's just the right spot for my to rest my ear and my chin and sleep with the steady lull of Joe breathing in and out. In and out. In. And out. It's my paradise. Sleeping on Joe just so in the warm sun in the quiet oasis of the Emerald City Garden. 

And even sweeter still when I later found Joe had snapped a picture of my perfect little nap. 

These are the magical moments. 

Three Things.

Three things I have not been able to get off my mind this week...

1.) Fun. "We are Young." So hauntingly beautiful.

2.) Tina's discussion of Three Truths and One Wish about Truth. The first time I read it, I realized she really did a great job of explaining how truth is fluid. What we know as an absolutely will absolutely change over time and in the face of new absolute truths.

3.) Dr. Frank Lipman's 25 Life Lessons. So simple. So true. So powerful. 

06 April 2012

Everyone has a Story

I'm a rebel. 

Of sorts. 

It's April 2012 and I still don't have a smart phone. My iPod is limping along, barely, despite being told by the Apple Genius guys it needs to be replaced. Yes, I have a Kindle, but my laptop is in its death throes. (I predict this will be the expensive year of replacing techno-gadgets for me.)

All that means, when I'm out and about in the city, standing in line, waiting here or there, or riding public transit, I'm not occupied by technology. 

So instead, I do what I've spent a lifetime doing. I watch and I wonder. 

And there's something about public transit that reveals the most vulnerable sides of people when they think they're at their most guarded. 

To the casual observer or the quickest glimpse, it's hard to see the vulnerable side. But when you watch, really watch, you see the genuine smiles instead of the fake ones, the choked back tears, the giggles of someone newly in love, or the anguish of someone recently heartbroken, the quiet courage or the quiet desperation. You see new love, old love, ending love. 

And then I wonder. What brought them here? To this moment? To the person they are today? Where are they going? What does life hold for them?

Often, I catch myself imagining their stories for them. 

"It's 2:27 on a Tuesday. He's just left a business meeting and is late to a job interview that would give him a big enough pay bump to finally propose to his girl."

"She just traveled to Chicago from rural Minnesota. She doesn't know what she wants yet, just that it can't be found in Minnesota. She's unaware, but she'll learn to be more guarded when someone swipes her iPhone at the next station."

"They were high school sweethearts. They've weathered love and loss and heartbreak and good days and mundane days and the bad. She's losing her memory, he's losing his health. Yet, the one happiness that they still share is holding hands on their way to yet another doctor's appointment."

And if I'm not careful, I'm the girl rushing to get off at the very last second because I was so busy watching and wondering that I almost missed my stop. 

05 April 2012

We Didn't Say Good-Bye

We both sat there. Sweaty and out of breath and drinking water like there was no tomorrow. Smiles on our faces; loud music and laughter in the background. 

"It's funny, isn't it?" I asked as I caught his eye. 

"What's that, love?"

"Here we are, in this amazing venue, watching her dance with the love of her life, and all I can think of are those early days way back when the three of us were drinking beers while sitting on your bed."

He laughed. That loud, hearty laugh of his I love simply because it means he's happy, really, really happy. "I don't think any of us expected life to turn out this way. Here I am, madly in love with you, and she's one of your best friends."

We sat there for a moment longer, catching our breath before we were off and dancing again. And I couldn't help but smile at the way life made sure the three of us are still friends, all these years later, after just a two-week long conference while we were all in undergrad. 

Even the bride couldn't resist commenting on it when I was giving her a hug later on in the evening. "I'm so glad that conference brought us all together."

And the sweetest irony is, they were the only two I didn't actually say "good-bye" to at the end of the conference. 

Life sure is funny. In a good way.

04 April 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Self-Portraits

03 April 2012

Wet Purple Tennis Shoes

I sat there with soaking wet purple tennis shoes. It was quarter past eight on a stormy Friday morning. 

I sat sideways, waiting for my coffee to cool so I could drink without scalding my tongue. Joe read the news on his phone and I watched the crowd. 

In the heart of the city, inside a bustling McDonalds in the ever busy Union Station, I sat there, watching and waiting. Waiting for my coffee to cool. Waiting for my shoes to dry. Waiting until it was time to go. 

As I watched, I saw him watching too. He stood just outside the entrance, pausing for a moment, taking it all in, observing how everyone else did it. A little more confident, he walked in and stood to the side of the queue. Watching. Reading the menu. Seeing how others stepped up and ordered; where they waited for their food. 

While he watched, I studied him. His weather-worn, wrinkled, middle-aged face. His very full, very long beard. The soft brown hair curling just so under his broad-brimmed black hat. His plain black clothes gave him away as Amish. 

And I wondered. How many times in his life has he eaten in a restaurant? In a McDonalds? What will he order? Will he like it? What does he think?

I watched anxiously, holding my breath, as he set his satchel on the ground behind him while he stepped forward to pick up his food. I could breathe again once I realized no one would take advantage of his naivety and run off with his bag while his back was turned. 

As he made his way to the empty table behind us, there it was; a smile shared. A warm moment of silent friendship between a middle-aged Amish man and a young woman with wet purple tennis shoes.  

02 April 2012

Frame of Mind

To start our Monday off well....