31 May 2012

When Skies Are Grey

The surreal Adriatic coastline. 

We crawled into bed together last night.
Like we always do. 
We read for a while.
And like almost always, I was ready to sleep first. 
So I closed my eyes and got comfortable. 
You got up to turn off the light. 
And crawled back into the soft sheets with me. 
We held hands. 
Tight. 
So sweetly tight. 
And as I began drifting off.
Lyrics popped into my head:

You are my sunshine. 
My only sunshine. 
You make me happy.
When skies are grey. 
You'll never know dear. 
Just how much I love you. 
So please don't take my sunshine away. 
The other night, dear, 
As I lay sleeping, 
I dreamt I held you in my arms. 
But when I awoke, dear,
I found I was mistaken. 
So I hung my head and cried. 
You are my sunshine. 
My only sunshine. 
You make me happy. 
When skies are grey. 

And at that exact moment, 
Almost as if I had sung the word aloud, 
(I even spent a few seconds wondering if I had)
You cradled my head in your hand, 
And brought your forehead to mine. 
Squeezed my hand even tighter. 
And we lay there. 
Entwined. 
Your warm breath on my cheek. 
Your smooth forehead on mine. 
My silky soft hair wrapped in your hand. 
My heart skipped a few beats.
I felt so warm.
So cozy.
So safe. 
So loved.
And I thought to myself, 
With that last conscious thought,
"Please don't ever take moments, 
As perfect as this one, 
For granted. Ever.
These moments, 
This love, 
Really is extraordinary."

30 May 2012

This Messy Thing Called Life

Oh, my friends. 

I didn't plan on stepping away. But I've struggled for words lately. It seems like the more I have to say, the more I want to say it just right.


You see, my heart is heavy. Oh so heavy with the real trials and aches and pains of life.

But, on the other hand, my heart is so happy and light, I'm afraid it will just bubble up and float away during one of these moments of heart-lifting joy. 

And that leaves me confused. 

What do I talk about?

The heavy heart-wrenching moments? The heart-lifting joy? Neither? Both?


And in the end, what I've come down to is this: real life is messy and complicated and you can feel absolute heart-rending sadness and in the next moment be laughing giddily at the sheer pleasure of being alive. 

There are no guarantees in this messy business called life. And you have every right to laugh in the middle of the tears. That right also includes the time and respect needed to truly experience those emotions in the moment. Letting yourself feel the emotions helps you to set down those emotions when the time comes too.


Some of the heart-heavy moments?

I spent some time with Grandma lately....there'll be more posts as I collect my thoughts....but she's declining. Not as much as I expected in some respects and much worse in others. And it shatters my heart that the moments of joy I can bring her are far less often and for far less time than in the past. She's world-weary and ready to move on and it's showing.


A heart-lifting joy?

I surprised everyone, including myself, and flew down to South Carolina at the very last minute to watch both my brothers play in the championship game for the national college lacrosse championships. My youngest brother, taking after my dad, figured out the surprise before I got there. But the middle brother? Oh, the sheer surprise and joy on his face when he came down to breakfast on game day and saw me there.....that alone, was worth every penny of the last minute airfare. And the hug he gave me in the middle of all his teammates? I'll fly anywhere, any time, always, for a hug like that from him. Those are rare and incredibly special coming from him, and absolutely are worth the trip.

But heart-wrenchingly, they lost. In the last inning, by a point. It hurt us all. The team has worked so hard, so long to win this championship and we all believed the middle brother would graduate this year with a championship title to share with his younger brother. Instead, he took the loss heart-breakingly hard.

And as difficult as it was to stand there after the game and support the team, I'm so glad I was there anyway. If nothing else, it showed my brothers that anywhere, anytime they need me, I'll find a way to be there for them.


There was joy in seeing Joe again after two very long weeks apart. He spent quite a bit of time on the road for work in his business consultant job and there's a new comfort in knowing our time apart now is so short after all those years of long-distance. That we can just slide in after time apart and pick up the pieces like we last saw each other ten minutes ago.


Sometimes I just need to step back, buckle down, get through, celebrate, process, just take in the moment, but I try my best to share it all....good, bad, in-between, because that's real life. And I'm learning that life   becomes real and special and the ordinary little moments become extraordinary when you share it with friends and loved ones. 

18 May 2012

Shhh!

I've got a delicious surprise lined up for this weekend.

And my friends, I am so very EXCITED about it.

Tell you all about it on Monday!

16 May 2012

Creative Compliments: From Grandma, With Love

"You're a stubborn mule!"
- The one and only Grandma Spaghetti



* To be honest, I loved this "compliment." It means the apple didn't fall far from the tree. At all. 

15 May 2012

A Time and Reason

As I've admitted lately, I've been struggling.

And I probably will for a while longer still.

It's not an outwardly struggle. It's not me against the world. It is an internal struggle. A tale as old as time. It's me defining me, who I am, what I want, and how I want to get there.

And that takes time.

Great things aren't rushed. I am, and need to treat myself as, a work of art. We all do. Works of art share something of ourselves to the world that we treasure to be treasured by others. How often, in every day life, do we really remember to treasure ourselves?

Not often enough.

Not at all.

But I'm working on it.


And fortunately today, I had not one, not two, but three wonderful friends who all, in their own way, reminded me there's a time for everything.

Everything has its own reason.

And while I may be ready to start moving foward again after the pause of the last year or so, well, reason may not be ready for me to move on just yet.

The timing will work out when the reasoning is right.

That's a powerful reminder.

One I so dearly needed to hear today.

Such a good reminder to such an impatient girl to be patient. Everything happens in its own time.

And even better, I realized what treasures I have in my friends. I may not be able to reach out and hug them all every day. The miles seperate us too far for that.

But they don't let the miles matter.

I'm so glad I have such treasures in my life. And I have some great plans with all three of them this coming year, which warms my heart.

And I have beautiful memories of moments like the one pictured above in Albania, where, when I was patient and let the world work the way it should, life turned out beautiful.

14 May 2012

I Forgot

If I'm honest, really, truly honest with myself, I already know the real reason I've been so drawn to stories lately.

I have lived some incredible stories. Mind-blowing, heart-shattering, absolute triumphs, and everything in between. I have many stories in which I chose the harder path. It's a common theme, really, when I look back over my life stories.

But lately, well, I haven't been so great with writing my stories. Taking control of actively planning, pursuing, and living my life.

I got a bit stuck in my life and then way too comfortable with being stuck. And then I just stopped.

I forgot to dream.


In some ways, I needed that downtime. That Groundhog Day-esque feel to my days. Routine, comfort, a small life in a small corner of the world.

I needed the cocoon. I needed the hibernation.

Goodness knows, I've lived some awfully exhausting life stories in my short life.

But now?

Now.

This is my time.

I need to really start writing my next story. And the story that comes after that. And the one after that. And so on.

I need to start writing goals. And dreams. And hopes. Ones that don't have an "if....then" inside of them. No more "if xyz happens, then I can pursue dream abc." And more importantly, I need to start actively pursuing them.

This is my time.

Time to spread my wings again and take to the sky.

09 May 2012

Because Sprinkles

Yesterday wound up being one of those days

You know the kind. Nothing really bad happens, but nothing really seems to go right either. 

You're exhausted. Mentally, physically, spiritually......drained might be the better word. 

You just go through the motions and the motions wear you out. 

And in the end, you're just world-weary. 

But sprinkles. 

Oh, ice cream with sprinkles. 

My life in color(ed sprinkles).

Well, that'll save the day any time.

Because sprinkles.

Sprinkles.

Those magical little dots of happiness in rainbow hues.

They make any day better.

Happiness on the tongue.

Who could ever eat ice cream with sprinkles and still be grumpy? Who indeed?

And that, my friends, is why I will never order an ice cream cone without sprinkles. 

07 May 2012

Telling Stories

So many of my thoughts these days have revolved around stories. 

The telling of stories. The crafting of a great story. The stories I've lived. The stories I haven't experienced. The stories I want to write, need to write, am waiting to write. 

Stories are the fabric of our lives. 

Who we are. Where we come from. What we want. 

Daydreams. Hopes. Wishes. Realities. Heartbreak. Triumph. Despair. Love. Loss. 

They help us put pain into context and give us hope. Stories help us understand and explain the amazing, overwhelming, incredible world around us. 

Every life is a story. But we all hope our story is more than, "I was born. I grew up. I grew older. I died." And it can be. Because that lifelong story is made up of a thousand little stories. 

Stories of the every day. Stories of triumph. Stories of the mundane. 


But the beauty is, we can re-write our stories. They don't have to end the way they began. And when one ends, we can always start another. We can decide how our stories will be read, if they'll be interesting, extraordinary, mundane, or just plain boring. 

I recently read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Parts of the book made me uncomfortable. There were some thoughts and beliefs expressed that just don't sit right with me. I have to admit that. 

But even the parts I didn't like made me think. Really think. 

And that's what I need and want and crave these days. Real thoughts. And motivations and hopes. 

The majority of Mr. Miller's book, though, was exactly what I needed to hear right now. 

You.
Yes, you.
CAN. 
Change. 
Your.
Story. 

You.
Yes, that's right, you.
CAN. 
Live.
A. 
Story. 
Or.
Many. 
Stories. 
Worth. 
Telling. 

And yes, we all know that. But we really do need the reminder from time to time. There's so many more thoughts I want to think about out loud here in this space, but for today, I'll leave us all with that. 

That's mighty powerful on its own. 

04 May 2012

Allergy Fog

I'm still in a mental fog. Stupid allergy meds. 

I napped for two hours after work yesterday. I never nap. And if I do, it's for twenty minutes, max. 

It's not a lack of sleep. I'm good about getting 7-8 hours every night. It's the damn antihistamines. 

I've got more words and thoughts and musings to share. 

They're in there.

Somewhere. 

Just have to find my way through this fog first. 

02 May 2012

Lost Days

I'm not sure if it's just a bad adjustment to the new allergy meds I started last week or all the rain we've had in the past week or what, but I'm losing my days. 

It took me until 7:50 tonight to realize today is Wednesday instead of the Thursday. 

Ouch. 

01 May 2012

Finding Comfort in the Rituals and Routines

The palest of pale blue sheets filled the air, blocking out the light overhead, casting a hazy blue glow over the room before it settled down onto the bed. 

I've found my thoughts shifting lately. 

A paradigm shift is probably a more accurate description. 

And instead of getting annoyed at the same tired old chores, I find comfort in the ritual and routine of them. 


We stood on opposite sides of the bed, each pulling and tugging the corners to make the sheet lie nice and flat.

For example, in doing the laundry.

There's comfort indeed in warm, freshly folded laundry. There really is nothing better putting on a pair of socks all nicely warmed from the dryer. Or a clean shirt that smells like your chosen detergent. 

There's ritual in pulling the clothes out of the dryer, folding this, hanging up that, putting this aside to iron, and creating neat piles for putting away in the dresser.

Then another flick of the wrist, another pale blue sheet fluttering in the air before laying down on the bed. 

There's routine in dragging the hamper out the back door, up the stairs, down the walkway, down the next set of stairs into our crappy laundry room twice a week. There's a routine in putting the quarters just so in the "good" machine and knowing exactly when to come back to swap things out. 

He starts wrestling the pillows, one by one, into submission, into creamy yellow pillowcases. Taking care to make sure the tags are covered so they won't scratch our faces in the night. 

There's also a blessing in all of it....we're lucky enough to have enough clothes to warrant doing laundry as often as we do. We're lucky, as much as I complain about it, to have a semi-working laundry room just feet outside our back door instead of a car drive away. There's a blessing in having the money for cleaning our clothes and replacing them when we want instead of when we need.


And as I snap open the sunny yellow blanket, covering the sheets, I ask Joe, "Is there anything better than sleeping on freshly clean sheets?"

Without a pause, he looks up at me, smiles, and answers, "Sleeping on freshly clean sheets cuddled with you."

And suddenly, I don't mind the laundry quite so much. Because of treasured comforts like that.