Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas, sweet family. I don't know where I'd be without you.

Photos by the lovely and talented Kelsey Michelle

Friday, December 23, 2011

Open Letter to Women I Admire

Dear Heroines,

I appreciate your strength, creativity, open heart, transparency, and confidence. I want more of these traits in me.

     More light shining through.

     More unapologetic enjoyment.

     More honesty.

     More laughter.

The Christmas season has been hard this year. There's a lot of fear and sadness as my mom's health fluctuates dramatically (seizures, multiple hospital stays, immobility, confusion, more questions than answers). I'm preoccupied with grief and disillusionment instead of holiday cheer. I thank God for each and every opportunity to express love to Mom, and simultaneously agonize that her full-bodied living has been so diminished.

In the last two days of relative calm, a deep appreciation has surfaced in me for women who demonstrate the kind of life I want to live. The rawness of my heart has removed all inhibitions when it comes to love and recognition (no more secret-admiring. I'm going public).

Whether it's been years since we've seen one another or we've never actually met in person, I want you to know how much you mean to me.

Nancy, you continue to show me the power of making a life doing what you love.

Cami, your honesty and wise counsel are the balance bar I need while crossing life's high wires.

Carol, your humor, leadership, and refusal to accept negative self-descriptions make me smile til my cheeks hurt.

Alicia, you are an open window of beauty and tenderness.

Cary, I love your bold vibrancy in life and in art.

I am grateful for every intersection where our paths cross.

I see several common threads among you: 
  1. Full acceptance of life in all its shades of celebration and sorrow.
  2. Joy in your place in the world.
  3. Humility combined with extravagant generosity as you share yourself with the people around you.
Thank you for all the ways you exemplify the woman I want to be.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

A first

On December 10th, I ran my very first 5k! Our local Jingle Bell Run was a great experience.

I'm somewhere in the blurry part of the crowd. (Blurry because of my speed, of course.)

Here's what I wore:

Here's what I plan to wear next year:

This lovely outfit comes from the ever popular Mom vs Marathon (photo used with permission). The subtitle of her blog is "How to run a marathon and a household without losing your mind" -- don't you love it? I admire her writing, photography, her running stories, and especially her style. Check out her blog - it's really inspiring.

And I highly recommend running with bells on your shoes. It's so much cheerier.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

November's Book: Born to Run

In November, I listened to Christopher McDougall's book on CD (some nice multi-tasking was accomplished listening to a book about running while quilting in my jammies). I heard Born to Run mentioned in my running class and was intrigued. Something about the barefoot running debate, a big race in Mexico, and a giant canyon. Huh.

So I checked out the audio book from the library. This was a good call. I never would have been able to keep up with all the characters and subplots had I been slogging through the 300-plus pages, one chapter at a time. Since I could just enjoy listening (and push "pause" while finishing a seam with my noisy sewing machine), the plot unfolded like a Christopher Nolan film: tricky and spell binding.

WOW. It wasn't what I was expecting from a book whose subtitle sounds like an athlete-tabloid. This book has it all: suspense, intrigue, feats of strength, rugged terrain, science, psychology, ultra marathons, strong women, fanatical men, and layers of back story that added depth to every chapter.

It was all very accessible. The author writes from a modest, average-Joe perspective, and I never felt I was in over my head. The running itself though, sheesh. My measly singular-mile accomplishments pale in comparison. But it was all inspiring.

Take a gander at the author's website. I hope his pictures add oomph to my glowing recommendation.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I've realized recently that I hold on to unpleasant emotions in order to protect others. I have made it my responsibility to hide my own pain and anxiety to make sure everyone in my vicinity is happy or, at the very least, not experiencing their own emotional discomfort.

I learned this as a little girl. I discovered I could affect the people around me by helping, smiling, giving the right answers, or just being silent. I've created a very intricate (subconscious) system using each of those elements to place myself in the world, garner praise, and make others happy.

I don't contradict people in conversation, even to correct a misunderstanding.

I am self-conscious of tears, even when there's no reason to hide them.

I keep quiet when I'm not 100% sure my ideas will be accepted.

But I'm getting pretty sick of myself.

Life has thrown some curve balls my way, and there are times I really want to walk away from needs I can't meet. Sometimes the best form of self expression is a sob. I don't know anymore when to keep quiet and when to speak up. But I'm still using my Good Girl Kit of Minor Remedies.

So my heart soars when I read things like this:

I have nothing to announce. There have been no breakthroughs. But my ears are tuned to hear more about vulnerability, honesty, audacity, and authenticity.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Patchwork introspection

I love quilting. You may think that I've been day dreaming about being Amish, or practicing for my sixties, or pretending I'm a shut-in. And you'd be right. Quilting, to me, is the perfect combination of wild creativity, solemn perfectionism, and focused solitude. These are things I'm drawn to lately.

It's not as boring as it sounds. I know "quilting" seems like an oxymoron. What business does a hand made blanket have posing as a verb? If you hear "quilt" and picture pastel calicos and dusty doilies, I understand. I really do. But that's not what I'm talking about here.

I've spent the last several weekends hunched over my craft room table cutting, piecing, ironing, and stitching. When I sew, I'm a combination of Sponge Bob Square Pants (a veritable frenzy of enthusiasm) and a Tibetan monk (meditating on seam allowances and color selection). Here's why.

It's a craft for problem-solvers, puzzle lovers, and type-A personalities. It's challenging to start with the end result in mind and then figure out how to assemble all the pieces to get there. The more precise I am, the better the results. There's nothing like the satisfaction of organizing fabric in the exact size and colors you want.  

I saw a picture of a particular quilt recently and fell in love. It was made from two dozen or so stars, all different colors, on a white background. The stars weren't symmetrical. I love asymmetrical quilts. They're all the rage (put the classic "bonnet girl" quilt pattern out of your mind).

One set back with this new-found quilt design: I don't have a pattern.

I LOVE this predicament. I can see the seams in the photo, so I can break it down to individual strips. I see that each star is made from five squares, interlocking with the four stars around it. So I made my own pattern. It's real scribbly but I think I get the gist of it. Time will tell. 
I sometimes feel like I'm cheating when I use tools like table top mats and rulers and rotary cutters. Sort of like receiving a bouquet of beautiful flowers, then realizing they're fake. Oh well. This "cheating" isn't something I dwell on. Since I can't create anything out of thin air, this is the next best thing.

Quilting is introvert-friendly. On Sunday I was in my PJs for HOURS (covered in lint and thread) with unwashed hair and floppy socks. I'm no Martha Stewart, but she's got nothing on me when it comes to commitment to creativity. It's engrossing. I lose all track of time.

It's also a forgiving craft. Every uneven edge and wad of string gets hidden when the quilt is assembled. The most rewarding part of making a patchwork block comes after all the edges are sewn together, the seams have been ironed, and I flip it over to see the front. Success.

I wanted to include a bunch of pictures, but if I keep waiting to post til I remember, it'll be another week at least before this gets published.

Photos to follow.

In the meantime, here are links to other people's quilting photos that inspire the heck out of me.