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It’s the little things…


Bring it

Some three months later, I can tell you that my 30th year of life has so far been nothing short of a roller coaster ride.

I have an absolutely darling new nephew. And I do mean precious. Just look:

I have a job that I adore that also daily challenges my ability to balance work responsibilities with the rest of my life. And I do mean challenges.

Because of my job, I have articles actually being published. Published! And my photography graces the front cover of the new University magazine. Small milestones to be sure. But milestones.

I’ve finally found and continue to establish the lifestyle that best suits my body which means I feel better about myself: kicking sugar to the curb and taking up kickboxing, in addition to the other changes already made.

I was diagnosed with a semi-serious eye condition, incurable. Degenerative. Bonus: cute glasses. Downside: glasses.


I’ve developed some new friendships, some perhaps becoming more significant than others. Lost some others.

My headaches are worse again and remain surprisingly unaffected by positive lifestyle changes. Maybe the glasses will help. 🙂

My job is about to become even crazier as my former position is still not filled and my boss is soon leaving on maternity-leave; same work has to be accomplished.

A pretty good list for the first 3 months. I have to admit that a part of me is a little anxious about the next 9. But there is always the part of me that is ever hopeful, always looking for the next adventure, excited for the moment when an experience or a thought or a relationship clicks into place and, as a result, your life is just a little bit more full.

I mean – how many times in your life do you get to bring sexy back  – with totally rad, retro glasses? Or become a proud auntie of a little person THAT precious?

My Grandpa got me a teal wool scarf and a book call SO(UL) HAPPY (he totally scored!) for Christmas. You’ll probably be reading quotes from the book on my blog for some time to come. It’s so me. The very first  quote is “Let your soul stand ajar, always ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” (Emily Dickinson)

So here I am. Soul ajar. Bring it on.

30 is good

I turned 30 recently.

I’m happy to say, there’s no crisis here. I did have a bad moment when the lady at the fabric store asked my very pregnant sister (who is 18 months younger than I) if I was the grandma-to-be. I think I may have looked fairly crestfallen, almost to the point of tears, because she muttered “sorry” and turned bright red. My sister thought it was hilarious.

On the bright side, I was with my sister! I just got back to Texas after spending a week with her, her wonderful hubby, 2 adorable dogs, and one growing Bean. We spent most of the time getting the nursery ready for little Bean. It was fabulous.


I had a party. My grand idea was to throw a huge party for my friends – a reverse birthday party, if you will. Turning 30 is a milestone and I wanted to celebrate by giving back to as many of the wonderful people in my life as possible. I love parties. I really, really like to do things for people. I wanted it to be about them and celebrating their delightful presence in my life. So, I planned a BBQ and Kickball Tournament, complete with team t-shirts, a hayride, bonfire, and homemade pies. And no presents. If you want to give, then please give to Wings of Hope, my favorite charity. Sounds perfect, right?

So I started planning. It was going to be an epic weekend. Big horseback ride with close friends to the oldest Adventist church in Texas on Saturday for an old-fashioned service and potluck, complete with costumes. And the big bash that was not a birthday party on Sunday. I told some of my close friends about my plans. They jumped on board, mostly. They couldn’t quite grasp the concept that I wanted to do this for them. It ended up being a compromise. Compromise is healthy. And since I wanted to do something for them so much, it’s understandable they wanted to do something for me. Cool.

Then I got a new job. I love my new job. I have no life outside my new job, or so it seems like right now. My headaches were worse. And then I got sick with the stomach flu that was going around – on the Wednesday before the party. So it’s the week of the party and I’m not nearly as prepared as I’d planned to be.

Wednesday was also the same day that my darling baby brother flew down and surprised me!!! Apparently my reaction was gold. I was so excited!  I love surprises. I love my family. We always celebrate together. And it was absolutely wonderful that he took it upon himself to plan it all out and be there for my 30th birthday.

(I had even thought – man, I should clean my house. Someone just might decide to show up and surprise me for my birthday. I should clean. But, I didn’t! Ha! Poor kid.)

So the week is progressing. I’m getting sicker and sicker. Can’t keep any solid foods in me. I finally leave work early on Thursday afternoon as I realize I have a fever. Wonderful. I feel so bad for my brother at this point because he came all this way to be with me and I’m sick as a dog. On the bright side, I wasn’t alone and he didn’t ever get sick! Yay!

By Friday night, the fever is still raging and I know I won’t be going on any 4 hour horse back ride, nor will I be going with plan B and driving out to the church either. My brother and I have a very quiet day at home on Saturday, which was my actual birthday. Can you imagine the pity party if I’d been alone, sick, on my 30th? Yeah. Truly epic.

By Saturday night I’m feeling much better but still not keeping solids down. As long as I’m slurping Gatorade, I’m golden.

And then the thunderstorm hits. BIG storm. Usually I’m a huge fan of storms. And God knows, Texas needs rain. However, it’s rained twice in the last 4 months and good ole Momma Nature decides to POUR forth all the water in heaven on the ONE day I’m going to have a huge outdoor party? Really?

Yep. It didn’t stop until almost noon. By then, we’d already switched to plan B because there was so much rain we would have been playing mud ball instead of kickball. So now my epic party is indoors, in a gym. Great for kickball. Not so great for ambiance.

I’m still sick. I’m worried about infecting all my friends. I scale the decorations, games, and all waaaay back because though I”m feeling better, I still haven’t eaten in 5 days. (How do people fast? And accomplish things?)

The t-shirts didn’t gone because the t-shirt guy suddenly had to move his ENTIRE business to a new building. I have an allergic reaction to some medication and have patches of red, dry, peeling skin all over my face, neck, and arms – great for pictures! The humidity is now at least 110%. And one of my friends informs me that I’m a control-freak because I wanted to plan my own birthday party.

Happy 30th birthday!

If I wasn’t trying to keep a brave face for my darling brother, I think I probably would’ve burst into tears on several occasions. I’m not a big crier. Nor am I a drama queen. Really. However, I had determined long ago that I was NOT going to bemoan turning 30, whine about how my life was over, or freak out about what I haven’t accomplished. My family is big into celebrating birthdays. And though the gifts and attention are wonderful,  it’s more about the celebration of life. Of the day you became part of a family. The day you started becoming your own person. The day you start building a life full of wonderful people, beautiful memories – weaving the tapestry of relationships that become the fabric of your life. It’s a lot to celebrate.

Perhaps a part of me also wanted to be a bit triumphant, in a superior way. See? I’m not afraid to be 30! Bring it on!

Well. Bring it on indeed.

Early on, I had misgivings about my big plans. I was worried that they would be misconstrued by people who didn’t know me as well. It’s not quite the done thing to throw yourself a birthday party. And I did examine, and re-examine my motives. And eventually moved forward with the big plan because 1) I like doing things because they’re fun or meaningful, not because they’re traditional and 2) I figured those invited were my closest friends (locally, not to diminish the dear friends scattered afar) and would therefore know me best. Who cared what anyone else thought?

So I admit it took me a bit by surprise when one of my closest friends, in an awkward half-joking way, told me that I was a worse control-freak than her notorious aunt. And I was more than chagrined that there was this big party and I was afraid to get too close to anyone for fear of infecting someone. Some hostess!

But, you know what? It was still wonderful. Sweet new friends, owners of my favorite local diner, volunteered to cook all the meat. And then they baked the yummiest vegan cake I’ve EVER had! It was Mark’s first attempt at anything vegan too. So impressive! Another dear friend brought a pinata and gleefully allowed me to make a fool of myself swinging for the blasted thing – “just a little harder, a little higher!” – while he held it way out of reach. It may or may not be on video. Another fabulous friend helped plan a lot of the details for at least a month in advance and mostly just took over when I got sick, even though she was having a rough week too. Friends of all ages sat down with burgers and salads and swapped recipes. Took pictures. Met and embraced my sweet brother. Sang happy birthday to me (so hoping to escape that one!) And played some hardcore kickball. It was delightful to watch.

So I’m 30. I have not accomplished all I thought I would by now. I do have, and will always have, character-flaws that need some work. My grand plans didn’t work at all like I’d hoped. I don’t feel at all victorious. But neither am I resigned. I have a lot to give. I have a lot to learn. I have a lot to yet accomplish. And I have sweet, dear friends to enjoy the journey with. 30 is good.

Thinking on music

Yesterday was beautifully relaxing. Today was weirdly lonely.

My friends were all otherwise occupied this weekend – new relationships, out-of-town visitors, out-of-town themselves. Usually when I’ve got some down time, I just soak it up. Maybe it wasn’t that way today because I was supposed to be busy too. I got stood up.

There are two things I find wonderfully therapeutic: photography and music. Since it was 109 again today, photography was out of the question.

Music it is.

My mother is fantastically talented musically. My father enjoys music enthusiastically. I’m somewhere in between. I can sing and play the piano but it’s best if it’s in support of someone else. haha

Stemming from a childhood full of music but unlike my parents’ tastes in music, my collection is all over the place. I find it absolutely delightful that there is music for every possible mood you could ever be in. Friday night I was chillin’ with some Norah Jones, Brandi Carlisle, Josh Groban, and Jon Foreman. Saturday night I was sewing myself a new bedspread (not finished yet, it’s missing… something) to BEP. Tonight Beyonce is ministering to me with a voice that heals whatever ails you. Man, can that girl sing!

I’m sure you’ve seen the 2010 Sprite commercial featuring Drake – who comes apart virtually at the seams after he drinks Sprite. The Sprite than lubricates his inner music-machine and he’s able to really feel his music again. Music is my Sprite.

Sometimes it’s the voice, sometimes it’s the lyrics, sometimes it’s the combination of gorgeous orchestration and soul-stirring beats. Have you heard Beyonce sing Halo -the voice, the orchestration? Or really read the lyrics of a U2 song? Or heard the way Marketa Irglova’s voice, accent, and intonation marries to the words and emotions of “If You Want Me”, not to mention Glen Hansard’s wonderful contributions. Ever belted along with Daughtry? Screamed with Hinder? Or reveled in James Blunt’s voice? Or the powerful uniqueness and message carried by Mac Powell’s voice? Yeah. Turn on my tunes and I can really feel. It’s not just about the good feelings either; it’s more about clarity, truth, emotion. It’s beautiful.

Creamed Beef: Vegan

So we’ve established that I’m still practicing the art of making gravy. Tonight’s attempt was pretty darn good, if I say so myself. Here’s another version of Mom’s recipe.

Half a package of sliced corned beef (fake, hehe), chopped

(most stores have variations in the frozen food section)

2 T McKay’s Beef Seasoning

1/2 t salt

1/4 cup flour

Saute chopped beef in just a little bit of butter, oil, or olive oil spray – whichever you prefer – until just brown. Mix in other ingredients. Cover bottom of skillet with milk, about 2 cups. Stir in 2 T Braggs Liquid Aminos – the secret to covering the Silk taste if you’re using soy milk! Taste-test and add to your liking. You’re probably already better at it than me! Enjoy!

It’s Friday night and this is the ultimate comfort food. Mix in some good music, a cool dog by your side, some Draper Valley Riesling, a few flickering candles, and the week melts away. Yeah, you should try it.

Decision Made

It’s Monday morning. I’ve been awake since sometime before 4am, dozing in and out of consciousness, half aware and half-dreaming of what the day would bring.

Last night my dear friends took me to my favorite restaurant, P.F. Changs, to celebrate my promotion. Sweet friends that they are, they wanted to hear all about how the promotion came about. As I recounted the story, and the choice my boss had left with me – stay in my current role and continue happily on, or move up and over to a different department with much more responsibility – they congratulated and encouraged me. When it came time to pass the fortune cookies, for once the fortunes seemed fitting: don’t be afraid to take that big step and every person is the architect of his or her own fortune.

I’m nervous. Very. I’m excited too – anxious to start off with my ideas, get things done, accomplish. But a huge part part of me is scared that I’m not experienced enough, or savvy enough, or somehow just won’t measure up to the gargantuan task ahead of me.

But to borrow a few more cliches, here is where I pull myself up by my bootstraps, hold my chin up, and take it one day at a time. I will very likely fall to my knees, asking for guidance, many times. And ask a lot of questions. And make a few mistakes. That’s okay.

I’m ready.

Here’s to first days and new jobs.

Shot: Softball

Strength. Fun. Athleticism. Sportsmanship. Comradery.

An evening with the “Not The Teeth!” Softball Team…