Thursday, February 4, 2010

That's Perfect

A few years ago while vacationing in Belize, my brother and I were discussing the definition of a perfect day. To him a perfect day is not one that consists of planning, organizing, or forethought. It's not something you can expect or conjure. It just happens.

We sat at a beach-side cafe overlooking the turquoise blue waters. Plastic tables and chairs sat haphazardly in the sand as the sweet rhythms of Rastafarian melodies danced in my ears. And I realized something. As he spoke I thought about how we had planned the trip. We booked airline tickets, hotel rooms, and a few excursions to immerse ourselves in the culture and experience of the islands. But the joy rested not in the hotel or the transportation. It was delivered in glimpses of beauty. It was the sand beneath our feet, the palm trees that swayed as we devoured our weight in key lime pie and the freshest fish from the deep blue sea. It was the laughter we shared and jokes and memories made. I don't remember what specific day we planned a trip to the Mayan ruins or what time our fishing boat left that awarded us three glistening barracuda on our hooks. I remember the moments and the peace felt within in sharing the daily joys of what is not planned.

As I sit typing this my sweet dog is laying in front of the fireplace, my husband has spent the day in his jammies and the house is filled with the aroma of a home-cooked meal. I had planned on being productive today; running errands and organizing some tasks. I kinda blew them off and you know what? I may be a better person for it. Sometimes we must allow ourselves to be taken wherever the world wants us in that moment. We can't plan the most perfect moment; for that is nearly impossible. But we can recognize it and capture it to memory.

Seeking out but not expecting.

That, my friends, is a perfect thing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Kind Gift

It’s probably safe to say that most little girls, at one point or another, dream of their wedding day. It’s also safe to say that when those dreams occur, it’s consisted of common aspects of what makes a wedding. A gown. Flowers. The Cake. Maybe a dream about a glorious veil cascading around; flowing and dancing as the one you love more than anything becomes your husband.

It is these aspects that create the fond memories once the big day finally arrives. But there are other things; unexpected and unplanned things that bears a permanent mark on what becomes the story of your wedding day.

My husband and I made the decision to elope in Las Vegas, Nevada. We wanted our day to be private, relaxed, and easy. I was met with inquisitive looks by several people when I mentioned “relaxed” “wedding” and “Vegas” in the same sentence. However, Vegas can be anything you want it to be when it comes to wedding planning. We chose a small little Victorian chapel on The Strip and planned on a small ceremony followed by professional photographs at various locations on Las Vegas Boulevard and dinner at our favorite restaurant in the city. We certainly looked the part of a typical bride and groom. I chose a gown made creamy ivory chiffon, satin, and beads with a beautiful train. The fabric felt cool against my skin and the skirt flowed around my feet. My husband looked amazingly handsome in his tux and cymbidium orchid boutonniere. We had flowers, a photographer, and a cake. Everything a little girl dreams of; just on a smaller scale in the grandeur of an entertainment capitol of the world.

We were blissfully happy. My cheeks ached from a day of smiling and laughing.

Once we had finished taking pictures around Las Vegas Boulevard with our hired photographer, we went inside The Bellagio to celebrate our new marital status at one of the Hotel’s restaurants. The Bellagio is situated in the near-center of the Las Vegas Strip and towers over a massive man-made lake that doubles as a fountain. Every fifteen minutes, in the evening, the fountains are set to music and lights. The water dances to the beat of the music – Sinatra, AndrĂ©a Bocelli, big band songs of the 40s - and the effect is awe inspiring. I have spent a lot of time in front of that hotel, gazing at the grandeur of the hotel itself and taking in the beauty of those majestic fountains.

The restaurant we chose to celebrate our marriage was situated inside the hotel and overlooked the Fountains of Bellagio. The entire back wall of the restaurant was made up of magnificent arched windows and drapey velvet curtains. Candles flicker on the tables and the lights are dimmed allowing for most of the light inside the restaurant to come from the dancing waters themselves. The only thing that could make it perfect is a glass of wine; and they have that too.

We were seated at a round table near the windows, and within seconds I observed that we were definitely the only bride and groom in the place. We followed the hostess to our table as I wandered between chairs and other patrons, with my hem brushing everything within its reach. Every face within a ten-table radius turned our way and smiled. I heard muffled voices saying “look at that dress!” and “congratulations you guys!” I felt almost celebrity and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it just a little bit.

After we were seated and ordered our first round of drinks, I held my bouquet close to my nose and took in the sweet scents of Casablanca lilies, roses, and orchids. The flowers were tied with a sweet satin ribbon; soft to the touch. The fountains outside were reaching a crescendo as I drank in everything the stimulated my senses. Roses, candles, pinot grigio, the twinkling of the light through the water, the music reverberating as the fountains came alive. As we sat, knees touching under the table, I could see dozens of people outside at the edge of the water. Onyx silhouettes illuminated by the radiance of the thoroughfare outside. I took several deep breaths trying to commit everything to memory. I thought the night was winding down but little did I know the best part had yet to be. There is beauty in sweet surprises and kindness that runs deep even in strangers.
We celebrated with delicious cuisine and libations interrupted by restaurant patrons clinking their forks against their water glasses demanding that the newlyweds kiss. A roomful of strangers and it felt like a grand reception with dear friends. It felt like community.

My husband and I conversed with those around us, laughing and commemorating the evening with patrons whose names I don’t even know. Where there is unspeakable joy, there can be friendship. In a world filled with hatred, crime, pain, loss, and despair there are moments where normalcy creeps in and fills you with the gentle kindness of those who share a piece of your heart looking for refuge and solace; finding it in the joy of new beginnings.

My husband and I had just finished our appetizers when the restaurant manager appeared at our table. Silently, they arranged an extravagant ice bucket and bottle of champagne at our table. I exchanged looks with my groom that said ‘I didn’t order this, did you?’ The words hadn’t even crossed my lips when he shook his head telling me that he, in fact did not order the champagne bottle.

I turned to tell the wait staff that they had the wrong table, and before the words that had formed in my mind could be verbalized the manager said,
“We have a very special guest tonight. They are here, dining as well, and today is their fortieth wedding anniversary. They wanted to give you this bottle of champagne as a gift and said to tell you that this day is a very good day to be married. Congratulations.”

Stunned, I thought about these strangers celebrating their own mile-stone and sharing this sweet gesture of a wedding gift with us on our first day of marriage. One day. Forty years. Unspeakable kindness.

As the first two glasses were poured, tears filled my eyes and spilled over. I’d love to tell you I cried sweet tears that slipped down my cheeks, eyes glistening in the candlelight, but I would be lying. It may have started out that way but I quickly transitioned into a scrunched-faced snot-flying sob complete with heaving shoulders. Lovely. I asked the manager if I could personally thank them and was informed that they preferred to remain anonymous. Respectfully, I asked if the restaurant could inform them that we were extremely grateful for such a thoughtful and considerate gift and to tell them that their generosity brought me to tears. Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes; sometimes it even comes in the form of a champagne toast.

After the last drop had been emptied, I requested that the bottle be wrapped up so I could take it home with me. The champagne bottle sits on my bureau where I can see it daily. It serves to remind me that kindness comes in the least expected places. A kind heart and sweet gift. We may not know their names, or their faces, but it is actions and gestures that impact our hearts with kindness and joy.

Kindness knows no bounds.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Blossom

"What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth."

I try to refrain from making generalizations, blanket statements that shouldn't be applied to everyone. However, I believe all of us are guilty for gossipping at one time or another. I once heard someone say that trying to undo a rumor is like trying to unring a bell. Once it has been spoken, it reverberates and branches out to depths not anticipated when the whisper was first spoken.

A drop of water. A ripple effect.

Maybe you're guilty of it too. I know I am. Or maybe you've been victim of someones bitter tongue. I know I have been.

She said what about me?

Gossip can lash out with an unseen force, its scars are sometimes unseen but they imprint on one's soul ensuring you carry with you someone elses opinion and label for who they think you are. And while we learn of what other's negative views of us are we become guilty for gossip too. We're talking about being talked about.

But it's not always easy to hear bitter things and promptly put them away. And where do you put something that has brushed your heart? There's no internal filofax for hurtful words. Is there?

Sometimes I have ideas of what I want to write about but I will first look up the topic online to gain some sort of inspiration on where I want to take the topic. Maybe it's a quote, or a song. Sometimes I find a picture, or I take one that ends up inspiring to write the words that had teetered on the edge of my fingertips. Today I googled (ick...I googled) one word: "gossip". I expected some witty quote or powerful paragraph to pop up that would be the perfect match for what I was looking for. Instead the entire first page of search results returned things like "HOT celebrity gossip!" "GOSSIP on myspace!" and links similar to the aforementioned.

We live in a world obsessed with celebrities and gossip. We're swallowed by needing to know when, in reality, we really don't need to know.

And while these things surround us they also unknowingly can consume us. This week I heard several things that have been said about me to others. I've been gossipped about. And while defending myself, I caught myself saying things like "ha! She's one to talk!" and "Really..THAT coming from HER?" And thus I gossip too.

And it when I look at myself I see that chapter of who I am as withered and faded. A loss of vitality and sustenance of the person I want to be. When you look at a flower, it's easy to focus on the brown and worn withered edges. But we can all strive to be a beautiful blossom growing in hope, growing in patience, growing in peace.

Bitter tongues can blossom into beautiful petals.

I took the photo below this past spring while at a glass exhibit at a local botanical garden. The pink bloom captured me. It's soft beauty protruding from needles. Pure beauty from the thorns of the cactus plant. It serves to remind me that I can not change sharp words spoken that I later regret. I can't change what someone else is or what they say about me or my husband. And I cannot control being punctured by someone needles of gossip. But from the sharp cut can come something beautiful. And that is the blossom.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Twice a month I make my way to Target to browse and usually end up spending no less than $50. I love that store and all of it's worthless crap.

Did I really need that candle holder? Probably not, but it was calling my name and wouldn't let me leave without it.

Besides, where else can you buy milk, zip-lock bags, and underwear?

Last week I went there by myself late in the evening and looked around for almost an hour. I was feeling a little down about some things, and if there is anything more therapeutic to mild depression than shopping, I'm not sure what it is.

If you know, can you please share? My bank account would love you for it.

There are times I find myself thinking about the past and what I would like to change. There are some memories that look somewhat unattractive and choices made that lack wisdom and thought. The truth is, trying to change the past is like trying to grab a fist full of water. The efforts are futile and the results are always the same.

I've always seen myself as a "fixer". To say my family had dysfunctional moments would be an understatement, but nevertheless, as a kid I would always try to find the right things to say, or the right things to do to make everything right.

Things would be so much easier if you could wrap up all hurts in a tidy box with a neat little bow. Or maybe it would just look better from the outside. It may be more work to gather, comfort, and try to mend, then it is to sit back and watch the storm blow through. But sometimes watching the storm blow through while your hands are tied requires a greater strength: being weak. Sometimes the pain has to wash over you before you can find new growth in the ashes. I know I'm being vauge, but if you have been in the hole you will understand where I am coming from.

The year I turned 4 my parents put together a birthday party for me and invited over 7 or 8 little girls my age from the neighborhood to celebrate. They celebrated the way most 4 year olds do with lots of "mine!" and "no!". It wasn't exactly smooth and there was quite a bit of quarrelling. My dad got a lot of it on film and there is one part where we are all gathered around the kitchen table for birthday cake. You can see me observing two of the girls very closely who were in mid-fight over who got the better paper plate. I had the handle of my fork in my mouth, brow furrowed, staring. I piped up in an attempt to intervene and fix by saying "STOP ahh-guing (arguing) you guys!"

I didn't even see the cake in front of me with 4 flickering flames waiting for me to extinguish with whatever a 4 year old wishes for.

I was sidetracked. Mending.

Life isn't free of pain. It isn't free of loss, confusion, despair, or hurt. Tears fall. Hearts break. But it is these pieces, these tiny pieces that make up the whole picture. And there is freedom in making the holes whole.

And sometimes if you look deep enough, you will find beauty in the cracks.

Back to the Target trip.

I was wandering through the kitchen gadget aisles in an attempt to find a Cupcake Courier (which I have since determined is elusive an next to impossible to locate) when I stumbled upon a perfectly white porcelain pitcher. I have a lot of pitchers in my house and really didn't see any need for another one. But I started thinking about a post I read awhile back on another blog. The writer had just lost her daughter, and shattered a pitcher as a form of therapy. She wrote a beautiful entry about it and it has stuck with me ever since. I haven't lost child, but some hurts have certain common denomiators and it's easy to identify with similar aspects of suffering. To be honest, haven't we all suffered in some way?

As I stood in aisle 17b next to the slow cookers and toasters, something clicked. I had to have that pitcher. I need to throw it against the wall and shatter it.

Imperfectly perfect.

We are all shattered, and those pieces aren't always beautiful and some of the edges are still sharp, but there is grace in the gaps and perfection in the brokeness. It is the broken pieces that have gotten me here, now. I am made of cracks and chips. I am not perfect, nor am I smooth or flawless. But it is those pieces that make the bigger picture. From struggles grow strength; wisdom from changes.

Each piece has contributed to who you are, now.

I plan on rebuilding the shattered pieces to serve as a reminder to where I have been and how that has contributed to my whole.

There is strength in the brokeness.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cue The Circus Tunes

I've been absent from the blog again. I'm really good at this neglect thing and I'm thinking that it may be a sign that I shouldn't reproduce for two reasons. The first being that the children probably wouldn't survive because I'm good at neglecting things (I walk by the flower department of a grocery store and the roses immediately turn's actually quite impressive), and the second reason being that I honestly don't think I should continue these genes. I have some pretty strange phobias, I lack rationality at times, and innate objects sometimes scare the crap out of me.

When I was a kid I had close to 100 dolls. Dolls of every variety from stuffed rabbits, porcelain, QP dolls, Cabbage patch kids, to Ice Cream Dolls and lots of basic Baby Dolls. I had a wall of Dolls that hereby shall be called "The Wall of Dolls".

The Wall of Dolls is the reason I learned how to sleep completely under the covers with no ventilation whatsoever. I'm fairly certain the increased levels of CO2 have caused some sort of permanent brain damage...or maybe it's just the weird genes.

These dolls would stare me down all during the night. It didn't help matters that the shelves where built into the wall across the room from the foot of my bed in perfect position for me to stare at The Wall of Dolls and for them to stare back. It made for a few really awesome sleepless nights.

Perhaps the most prominent doll would be a clown doll that originally belonged to my sister. If you took one look at this creepy little bastard you would fully understand why he was left behind when she moved out. I can't imagine what parent would buy him in the first place (oh wait, my mom did - that 'splains it). He had a stuffed body with stuffed arms and legs and a hard plastic painted face. His hair was stop-light red and stuck out in all directions that perfectly complimented the crazed look in his eye. I tried to google search for this doll and was unable to turn up anything that could remotely compare to the demented level of fear that this doll could conjure up in a child's brain. This is as close as I could find.

As a delightful bonus, my room was sprinkled with the sand-bag clowns that were so popular in the early 90's at Hallmark. Eample A:

I would have much preferred 500 sandbag clown dolls over the Hellish figure that sat high atop The Wall of Dolls. There he sat, each night, staring and waiting. All rationality tells me I am wrong, but I am certain he came to life after 9:30 and stood at the foot of my bed casting a demonic gaze my way. I'm also fairly certain he likes to snack on small children with a side order of infant baby.
One night in the middle of summer, I could no longer sleep cocooned under the blankets. I threw my covers back, grabbed a chair out of the guest room and climbed up to the top shelf of The Wall of Dolls. Grabbing the clown by the arm, I yanked him from his lair and threw him so hard into the closet he may have sustained some blunt force trauma to the head.
The next day I dug him back out of the closet and returned him high atop his evil little perch. This cycle went on nightly for probably 4 years. For some reason, my mom was pretty fond of that clown and would have belted me if she knew I threw him, nightly, into the depths of my clothes closet.
Some things are better left unknown.
Besides, it's not easy growing up in a room full of glass, button, and painted eyes. To this day I refuse to have anything hanging on my wall that has a face. The Mona Lisa gives me the creeps. It's almost phobic.
Now, if I ever saw a clown version of the Mona Lisa, I'd probably freak out screaming.
I have some good genes for that, t00.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I haven't felt myself this week, which basically translates to me being nuttier than usual paired with actions that further Adam's theory that I am missing some marbles.

I have felt like my face was going to split open all week, so I took a benadryl thinking it would help with my sinuses. It did help a bit, but it turned me into a cracked-out whack-case that most people mistook as a drug addict. I really wanted to just curl up in bed and hibernate for the next six weeks, but there were errands to run so I put on a brave face, over-sized sunglasses, pulled my greasy hair back, and ventured out into public spaces.

First off, the "slicked back pony-tail" doesn't look good on me. At all. I so desperately wish I could be one of those girls who can slop their hair into a pile with no make-up and look completely hot. But, alas, I am not one of those girls. Instead, I look like a tweaker who just barely rolled out of the campsite complete with a hint of a double chin.

I have no idea what a "hint of a double chin" has to do with being on a campsite, but I had to throw it in somewhere in hopes that I would get some pity.


The sunglasses managed to cover my dark under eye circles and puffy upper eyelids. It's a genuine gift that large sunglasses are "fashionable" right least something is working in my favor. I can leave the house looking like a fly and still be considered "fashion forward". Or something.

Adam and I toddled over to Wal-greens to print some digital pictures. My mother-in-law's birthday is this week and I figured she would want nothing more than a framed print of one of MY photos. What a gift! I thought about autographing it and inscribing it with "thanks for being my biggest fan", but decided that was a bit much. I would like to charge her for it and make a small profit on my sweet skills, but thought that would be a little inappropriate as well. Charging the mother-in-law for her own birthday gift is about as classy as me walking up to a Victoria's Secret employee and saying "Y'all got any underbreeches to cover up these thar fat dimples on mah butt?!?!"


So while I wish I was the female version of Ansel Adams, I'll just keep dreaming away. Once I went back to Wal-greens to pick up the pictures, the photo counter employee complimented me on the print by saying it's "one of the best pictures I have ever seen come through here" and said she wished she "could have one of the prints for herself."

I giggled with glee and nearly came over the counter to plant a sloppy one on her cheek. She will never know what she did for my ego.

Although, she probably was just complimenting me because she was scared of the greasy pony-tail that was taking on a life of it's own.

After wal-greens, I was on a photography high. That, mixed with benadryl makes for complete lunacy. Adam and I decided to stop off for a gourmet dinner at "Rubio's". That boy really knows how to treat a lady. Nothing says romance like a $5 burrito plate complete with salsa in a little plastic cup. I still can't believe I managed to get him down the aisle!

After paying for our food, I took my paper cup in slow motion and stumbled over to the fountain soda machine. I suddenly became aware of everyone noticing the oily haired stumbling freak show and quickly tried to re-gain some sort of balance as I approached the ice dispenser. I raised my cup and filled it with ice, then sloooowly turned to try to dispense some ice tea. Suddenly feeling like I was about to fall over from the room spinning, I grabbed onto the counter to regain some stability. The guy behind me gave me a look and I could tell he was getting irritated with me coming between him and an icy coke. I quickly darted over to the trash can and grabbed onto the side to keep from falling over. I think I feigned wiping something off my arm and threw a napkin in the trash. I turned, wobbling, to see a family of four labeling me as 'destitute'.

I ate my burrito in slow-mo and spilled half a container of salsa (verde) on my gym shorts. If you ever are out of energy to invest in looking half-way human, I find that gym shorts can be worn to make people think you look hideous due to a strenuous 3 hour work-out. Just fake fitness, people.

I figured all dignity was out the window, so Adam and I sauntered over to BevMo for the 5 Cent Wine Sale. If I'm going to sport a greasy 'do and green salsa stained gym shorts, I'm going to do it right and pass myself off as a wino. The cashier carded me upon check out at which point I stared at him - with glazed benadryl eyes, and slurred "arrrrree you SEER-ious?" I guess he was, since his only response was to NOT respond and just look at me blankly as he labeled me "destitute."

I wobbled out to the car , dug up my license, wobbled back in, shoved it in his face and left with my 2 bottles of wine and 1 bottle of celebratory champagne.

Some things should just be celebrated.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Since Sliced Bread

At the age of 10 my mom decided that we would be leaving our Colorado residence behind and move across country to Vermont. The reasons are way too long to write here but involve nothing short of a messy messy divorce and the fact that she overheats if it's warmer than 43 degrees outside.

Just keeping it real, folks.


My mother is also a pack rat and has kept every school paper, drawing, note, nick knack, tangible item that any of us 3 kids, family member, or stranger could have conceivably deposited within our residence. If you are ever in need of $0.15 off a jar of Smuckers, mom might be able to drudge up a coupon for you, although it probably expired in 1985. Plus, it would take her two years to find it, so it's probably not worth the trouble. Although, the debacle that would surely ensue has the potential to be quite entertaining.

With that said, it took us nearly 2 years to pack up all of her crap mementos and belongings to move the 1925.92 miles across the country to the great white north. Yes. Two years. Two years of "tackling one room at a time" as she put it. If she had just hired movers to pack and move us, it probably would have taken two full size 18-wheelers. So, she sorted her way down to the volume acceptable for a family of 18.

Once we finally had everything in some semblance of order, mom had the Bekins truck packed with belongings and sent it on its 2K mile journey. Mom and I stayed behind packing the rest of our property that would fit into suitcases and be hauled by plane to the final destination. Of course, nothing goes as planned and the next two days were spent in a frantic frenzy of "flinging" unnecessary items in the trash and running in circles finalizing our plans.

Did I mention it was the middle of winter and I slipped 3 times hauling garbage to the trash bins?

Mom doesn't work too well with deadlines, so has the final 24 hour countdown to our departure started ticking away, so did her sanity and patience. We both (not my choice) stayed up the entire night before our flight freaking out over how much stuff was still left that didn't fit either a) on the moving truck b)in suitcases c) up our butts. In a state of delirium, a large quantity of "items" were left at our residence as mom ran out of both time and space to take care of everything. We frantically hustled to the curb with our bulging suitcases as our airport shuttle picked us up for the cross-country journey that is Denver to Denver Int'l Airport. We left the inside of our house looking like downtown Beirut and skipped into the sunset snow.


After sinking into a coma of exhaustion on the bus, mom woke me up upon our arrival to the airport. We unloaded our 17 suitcases at the curb and spent the next five hours checking luggage. There may have been a Bengal tiger or a small golf cart inside one bag for all I know. These things were bulging at the seams and I am so thankful one didn't actually burst because I would have died of embarrassment on the spot. After successfully ensuring that our plane would be flying on the heavy side, we ventured over to the security checkpoint.

All I can say about this next part is that we are both incredibly lucky that this was several years before 9/11.

We placed our jackets and carry-ons on the conveyor belt for x-ray and walked successfully through the metal detectors.

That carry-on, however, wasn't so lucky. Mom had managed to pack a 15" serrated bread knife into her carry on and sent the sucker right through the security screening.

I will say that again: My mom packed a fifteen inch long serrated bread knife in her carry on bag and sent it through the x-ray machine for all TSA security staff to view.

And no one said a thing about it.

I'm not sure which is worse. The fact that my mom thought she would need a serrated bread knife immediately upon our arrival to Vermont, or the fact that no one in the airport caught it.

For all I know, she had enough metal in her bag to construct a Winchester 1200 Defender.

We ventured to our gate and successfully boarded the plane. Much of that morning was a complete blur since I was running on zero sleep, but I will never forget her face once she realized that she had packed a bread knife and sailed through DIA Security like a pro.

If you ever find yourself on a flight sitting next to my mom and you need some bread sliced, she may be able to help a friend out.

Anyone hungry for sandwiches?