Monday, February 23, 2015

Dancing Sober

In December, I read a book called "Carry On Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton. She talks about that first time she danced sober, without the aid of alcohol to make her feel brave. And how hard it was. Scary. And how she did it, sweaty with her eyes clenched shut, because she dearly loved to dance, but was afraid of all those things that we're afraid of when we're worried about who's looking.

This challenged me, because I'm really brave about some things, but not so much about those secret places in my heart.  Those things, the ones most dear, I guard fiercely. I hold my dreams close and I don't do vulnerable easily. But I decided that I wanted to be like that, to be bold about dreams, and hopes, and brokenness.

It's hard to put yourself in that place where you say loud enough to be heard, I want something, because the very act of wanting leaves you open, with holes waiting to be filled. And sometimes, instead of being filled with hope, they start to swell up with something else, disappointment, sadness, and questions.

When I signed up for the dream jobbing contest, I didn't actually expect to win. Which is good, because I didn't. I just knew that I had to try, and I hoped that I would win. It was scary, uncomfortable, and sweaty, but it was also fun. There's something so odd about video, because you see yourself in a two dimensional form, outside your body, almost like a stranger parroting your thoughts. It's such a contrast to constantly looking through your own eyes at other people watching you. I sat there watching myself and I thought, I like that girl. And I think that's the way that we should live, to be someone that we like, rather than trying to measure with a yardstick of other people's favor.

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Captain Fareed, the Iraqi Goodwill Ambassador

I was sad that I didn't win, because there was that initial left out feeling of not being chosen. But there was something else that showed up as beautiful. It was all the friends, strangers, and community who linked arms in support. There was an army of 8th graders with smart phones and creatively manufactured names who voted, commented, and obsessively checked on my stats. Friends, and friends of friends on Facebook who cared as much as I did, and Chris and Marshall and Aidan and Chloe, who outdid themselves in the name of promotion. (If you haven't seen the videos check out here and here.)

Dreams don't always come out the way that you want them to, but they can have happy endings nonetheless.

Monday, February 16, 2015


My darling husband rented me the Sony A7R for a weekend as an early Valentine's present. He took a Friday off work and spent the whole day doing some of my favorite things. Breakfast at a little bakery, walking the streets of downtown Denver looking for photo opportunities, and popping into all the unique coffee shops that we passed.  It's a good thing the Sony had such a beautiful anti-shake mechanism after all the coffee and sugar.

Chris headed to the mountains for overnight camping with the guys, so the kids and I hit the streets in downtown Boulder.
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For some reason, I really like corner shots of buildings
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A vanilla latte truffle
We ducked into a shop called Piece, Love, and Chocolate. They had rows and rows of beautiful truffles. Chloe stood at the counter for ages trying to decide which one to buy, changing her mind half a dozen times.
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Plates in a window
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We bought spices at the Savory Spice shop, pesto parmesan, which is one of our favorite things to put on popcorn, and iced coffee at Ozo.

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Bikes in a row
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Smells like fish and chips
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A disclaimer about the amount of times I mention pastries and coffee: really most of my diet consists of things like kale, avocados, and squash. Kale just isn't that fun to talk about. Whoever gets happy feelings thinking about a kale smoothie? No one, that's who.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


There's this thing about gratitude that changes the world around us.  You know how when someone gives you an unexpected, extravagant gift and then you feel crappy because you either didn't deserve it or don't have anything in return?  Maybe that's just me, but I tend to like things to feel even.  I don't like to be in debt to someone.  I don't mind giving more than I've received, but I don't like it the other way around.  But when you realize that you've received something totally undeserved, there is the crazy sense of gratitude and desire to reciprocate. Grace is like that. Undeserved and upside down.

 When I start to feel like I've really got it together and am doing this life thing pretty okay, I think I start to feel like I deserve goodness.  And then, I feel a little less grateful.  But then something happens to remind me again that I am made of dirt and clay, and suddenly when I'm given Grace, I realize how much it means.  And it makes me want to live this crazy life, grateful again.

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Aspen Leaves
I keep a list of things that make me happy, a little like collecting shells from the sea shore. I find that the more I notice, the more my hands are spilling over with good things. What's interesting is that they are rarely things I have, or possess. They are more often gifts that I can't control. Beauty in unexpected places, laughter. Moments that my heart collects and notices-this is good. Sudden stabs of Grace.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Terrorists and Christians

I've been reading this book, "The Terrorist's Son" by Zak Ebrahim. Zak writes his story about growing up as the son of a convicted terrorist, locked away for murdering a Jewish rabbi and helping to plan the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

He talks about learning to question and overcome the bigotry and dogma that he was raised with...."They all sounded like facts. Who was I to differentiate? I was made to fear people who were different and kept away for my own "protection". Bigotry is such a maddeningly perfect circle-I never got close enough to find out if I should fear them in the first place." The funny thing is that he finds freedom working a summer job at Busch Gardens.

"The flood of people, people, and people in my life is intoxicating. I walk around Busch Gardens with my head literally held higher because I know people who are not like me. I've got incontrovertible truth that my father raised me on lies. Bigotry is stupid. It only works if you never walk out your front door."

I love that statement, "people who are not like me" because I think it's so easy to get caught in a cycle of isolation of sameness. I grew up in a Christian culture that defined who you were by what you did or didn't do. You could tell who the "Real Christians" were because there was a prescribed set of rules that you either followed or didn't. If you followed all the rules, you were a good Christian. And if you didn't, then you were a bad one. And I was a really good one.

We built ivory towers and looked out the windows, pointing our fingers at the ones who were doing it wrong. We spent a lot of time pointing our fingers at people who followed differently than we did. I guess there is some safety in that. I mean, if you know the rules, and follow them, then you can feel like you're ok. The problem occurs when you ever bump into someone who has a different, or (gasp!) smaller set of rules than you do. Then, you have to either stretch your mind to let them into your space, or shut them out, because they are not like you. It's much easier to hang out with people who are the same. Then you can validate each other and no one is rocking the boat with some controversial idea. Then you can all be safe and right together, because obviously, everyone else is doing it wrong.

The only problem with that, is just about everything. Fear that someone different might make you worse of a person, that they might rub off on you like a communicable disease, keeps compassion away and love bottled up in a tiny, tiny jar. Fear rarely brings you to a better place. It just seatbelts you in and careens around the corners, out of control, taking you to places that you never wanted to go. It's easy enough to love your neighbor when your neighbor is just like you, it gets quite a bit more complicated when they are not.

I don't want to live like that. But in order to really live, you have to be vulnerable, because as we walk around in our clay vessels, sometimes we bump into each other, and we crack. And it hurts. You have to be willing to be broken, to not have all the answers, and to love people because we share the same skin of humanity. Beauty and ashes come from the same place.

 I want to live in my broken vessel, wildly, with love and light pouring through the cracks like water. Some days I do it fine, and other days, I think I crawl back into my ivory tower. Some days I'm wide with Grace, and other days Mercy is a notion in my mind that never reaches my fingertips. Some days I'm so busy being right, that I don't Love. But then, I guess that's part of being broken, knowing that no matter how I hard I want do it perfectly, I still can't. And in that way, we are all just exactly the same.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Black and Blue and Yellow

Yesterday, Aidan and I played out our now well-developed emergency room routine. It starts with witty banter with the registration lady (this one actually thought we were funny-points for Avista-usually we are the only ones amused). Then we move into hopeful chair waiting-as in, we are hopeful that this will not take all night, which gradually moves into the stage called "we have been waiting here all night".  At this point, our slouching grumpy posture, only briefly alleviated by a short Pinterest moment, conveys our displeasure. This is when Aidan starts coming up with fantasies about how to make our stay shorter, some of his ideas are not so helpful, which is when I smugly remind him that we are sitting there, because perhaps he hadn't thought through his previous actions. Finally, when there is no one that they could possibly call next if they tried, and the seats have long conformed to our shapes, we finally get in for our blasted x-ray. The final stage is when I get to spend the remaining bits of my night at Walgreens waiting for a prescription to be filled. Because no matter how I try, they will still somehow either forget to fill my prescription, or overlook the fact that I am sitting in the hard plastic chair right in front of them, and forget to tell me that it is ready. Maybe the little black storm cloud I was sitting in, obscured their view.

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But there is always beauty, even in the junkyard. We had the sweetest, kindest nurses, who clucked over Aidan sympathetically. And Aidan chose to have a hole drilled in his toenail to relieve the pressure and spent the rest of the night thinking how lovely that tool was, and how handy it could be in all sorts of scenarios. (Our doctor's cousin did the same procedure on himself, with a drill.) Never mind that it turns out he didn't actually need to have a hole drilled in his nail, it just added to the already chewed up look. His gym teacher is going to be unhappy that she has lost her "ninja warrior" to compete with the other gym classes, and his coach is unhappy that Aidan is going to miss his soccer tournament, but the 8th grade girls have been very empathetic...