2011 - Rough Patches & Happy Endings.

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's that time of year again, friends. The time when we sit back and reflect on our year - the good, the bad, the ugly and the life changing - and if you have a blog, this is the time to write. So, here I am, writing and reflecting.

2011 was more and less than anything I could have imagined. Many of both the most difficult and most beautiful moments I have chosen to keep off the blog this year, but their impact resonated throughout my life and into everything I wrote. The beginning of 2011 was clouded in those dark moments that accompany only the roughest of patches. There were mistakes made, regrets collected and mountains to overcome. There was idle time, more than one new beginning and, in big and little ways, there was hurt.

And then I fell in love... Mr. Samson Muhapi came into my life and filled it with kisses and puppy breath and love. Although I had wanted a dog for so long, I couldn't have known all the ways my furry boy would change my little world and make it an infinitely happier space to live in.

In June came the ten year anniversary of my sweet father's death and, with this anniversary, the realization that I was not living my best life. There were changes to be made, habits to break and work to be done and I got on it. I owed it to my dad and I owed it to myself and in only a couple of months, my life had transformed into something I was proud of again. By the end of summer, I was literally back on my feet again, working as a children's therapist alongside people I cared about and feeling like I was truly making a difference. I felt like a new person and I loved it.

This love and passion for my life continued right on into the end of the year. When I look back on 2011, I can't help but get a little teary eyed. I am so proud of what I have overcome and of who I am on the other side of it all. More than anything else, I am proud of the choice I made to be happy again. And happy I am. Very.

As the year comes to a close, I am absolutely in love with Florence + the Machine's song, "Shake it Out." This song has been on repeat for weeks and I can't think of a better message for leaving this last year behind and starting what is sure to be the most joyful and exciting chapter of my life. (More on that to come. Stay tuned, folks...) When Florence sings "it's always darkest before the dawn" - I'm dancing my heart out in that very dawn and shaking out so much of the past.

Thank you for the challenges and the triumphs, 2011. You have taught me that rough patches are to be expected, but joy - if chosen - will always endure. I appreciate the hard times this year has offered because without them I wouldn't be where I am now. And this, this right here, is the very beginning of my happy ending.

Happy Holidays!
{... and Embarrassing My Dog Since 4/11.}

Friday, December 23, 2011

Saturday Night at the Prom.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

These good people put on one hell of a bicycle prom the other night. What is a bicycle prom, you ask? Check this out. It was a fun night with great music and I'm a big fan of any opportunity to get a little dressed up. Oh, and any chance to get to go to prom with the handsome boy. At one point, Jenner asked me what I had just said and I had to reply, "Um, I was rapping to Lauryn Hill at you not talking." In other words, it was one good time. I'll let the photos tell you the rest.

{Failing miserably at trying to get the three of us in one shot.}

{With our friend Josh, the best dressed man at bicycle prom.}


Do-do-do-do-do Dora!

Friday, December 16, 2011

I am in love with a four year old boy - my nephew, Jude. He, however, is in a long term relationship with Dora the Explorer. They've been going strong for two years now and although we thought is was a phase, their enduring love has proved us all wrong.

Last week, when my sister took Jude to get his hair cut, he insisted Dora get one too.

I love you, Jude. You're your own person and we wouldn't have it any other way. I can't wait to see you in one week. You too, Dora.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let me preface this post by saying that Christmas Eve is - hands down - my favorite day of the year. For the record, I also get really into the holiday spirit by the time December 17th rolls around. Until then? Um, yeah, not so much.

You see, I will always be that girl who audibly groans when Target puts out the Christmas decorations smack dab in the middle of Halloween. I will always be the girl who prefers to shop online to avoid one of my least favorite combinations in this world: chaos and consumerism. Oh, and I will never, ever be the girl who gets excited to throw on a scarf and drink a holiday flavored Starbucks beverage. It's just not who I am.

And don't even get me started on Santa. Big guy, you know I love you, BUT... Honestly what are we doing to children? It's like we scare them into thinking some Big Brother type is watching them, judging them and keeping track of every little thing they do wrong. And the worst part is that I do it, too. I pulled this crap on a kid I was babysitting earlier this week. I had to later tell him that Santa loves kids and understands that we all make mistakes. As if Christmas wasn't anxiety inducing enough without the threat of no presents.

All that said, I still love the magic, the possibility and the excitement of the holiday season. I just happen to like it all after December 17th. ;)

Whenever it is you start feeling the holiday love, I hope these are only the happiest of days for you and your family.

Let's Just Get It Out There.

Friday, December 9, 2011

This girl - this girl right here - is grumpy.

First of all, what is going on with the Kardashians? Seriously. I was really hoping Kim's over-the-top wedding/divorce might wake us all up to the fact that these people are making (even more) money off of our complacency. Let's stop watching their shows and buying magazines with their faces plastered on the front. I can tell you what's going on without you needing to read one more glossy tabloid or tune into one more riveting episode. Kourtney's pregnant, Khloe can't get pregnant and Kim is worried she'll never find anyone to love her. Done.

Oh, and Barbara Walters putting the Kardashians at the top of her 10 Most Fascinating People list? Well, now seems as good a time as any to tell you I've never like Barbara Walters.

Another source of my grumpy mood? People constantly complaining on Facebook and Twitter. Honestly, it just exhausts me endlessly. I swear, if I read one more FML, I'm tempted to just defriend. C'mon, people, even when we don't, we still have it pretty damn good.

Oh, and today started out rough. Missed breakfast and decided to take myself out to brunch at IHOP. Now, I love a solo meal as much as the next girl and pancakes are kind of my comfort food, but... something about my late morning at IHOP was just depressing. It smelled like Swedish pancakes and shame.

What else? Well, this guy is a homophobic a** and this guy is just plain awesome. However, together, these two make me giggle uncontrollably.

Other things making me giggle and smile? The boyfriend took me on a really fun surprise date last night, this weekend is looking like it's going to be a great one and the two week countdown to flying home for the holidays starts... now!

Even in a bad mood, I'm one happy, excited girl.

Happy Friday, friends!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Over the last few days, I've been feeling incredibly - and overwhelmingly - happy. There are lots of big and little reasons for this, but no matter the reason, I think it's so important to take the time to acknowledge your happiness - to yourself and to the universe. It can feel awfully fleeting at times, but that's what makes it so damn special. Sometimes it's just a zebra print Snuggie, a good book and a charming puppy to curl up with. And, sometimes, it's the most exciting, life changing news in the world. Whatever the reason for your happy, I hope you're feeling it today.

The Little Yellow Sweater.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

There's a yellow theme going on here...

The other day, I was looking through some of my photos from this last year and noticed there has been an important presence I may have overlooked. Yep, the presence of the little yellow (okay, mustard) sweater. That sweater was with me through a lot. It kept me comfortable on those long (long, long, long) nights working the graveyard shift at the psychiatric hospital. It kept me feeling stylish (when I was really anything but) after my two ankle surgeries. It accompanied me to fantastic dinners (the three photos in this post were all taken at such meals) and made my poor coworkers shake their heads and wonder if I had anything else to wear.

Let's just face it. Like I tend to do with a lot of things, I overdid it. That poor sweater is in dire need of a replacement, but I can hardly stand to part with it. After all, it really has been quite the constant companion. Maybe I'll wear it to Thanksgiving tomorrow before finally releasing it into retirement.

Before then, a thank you to the little yellow sweater who never failed to add a pop of color to my wardrobe and a sprinkle of happiness to my days. You will be missed.

The Big Yellow House.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seven strangers, picked to live in a house...

No, I'm not talking about The Real World. I'm talking about the big yellow house. A big yellow house I called home for years.

There was Monica, Michael, Karen, Pat, Kevin and myself. There was a time my cousin Curtis lived there and also a beautiful, terrible man whose name I can no longer remember (but a man who was so certain of his own beauty that he liked to practice yoga - shirtless, no less - in front of you while continuing to stare back to see if you were watching). Oh, and then there was Marlise who vanished into the night one evening, but left us with the seventh member of our household, Scorch the cat.

For a few years, I used to watch The Real World before realizing I didn't need to. I lived it, people. We had the same drama and the same love, minus the cameras, in an old, beautiful school house that was rumored to once house the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party.

In that house, many bottles of beer were drank. Many laughs were shared and Sex and the City was a Sunday night ritual. Hot tub parties were had and, sometimes, offered up as the after party option during last call on Pine Street. (Okay, that may have just been me, but nobody will ever let me forget it.) There was the fire on the second floor and the one-eyed cat who stole our hearts. Fights were fought, flirtations were born and, somehow, we all remained close. We were with each other through terrible choices in romantic partners, crushing heartbreaks and hideous mustaches. We came together to say goodbye to Scorch, our house mascot, welcome Duey the dog and grieve a man we all loved, my dad. What we were - and are - more than anything else was a family.

The biggest thing any of us ever did in that house was grow up. And in the big yellow house's final chapter, we welcomed a little man named Max. Talk about growing... and growing up.

I still can't drive by the big (no longer yellow) house without feeling nostalgic. Those were some good years and that was a great home.

In Praise of Falling Apart.
{Stomping Your Feet, Crying on the Floor & Having A Miserable Damn Year.}

Thursday, November 10, 2011

If you know me, you know this last year has been rough. The 365 days in between the summers of 2010 and 2011 were chalk full of dead ends, heartbreak and dragons in need of slaying. It was long and it was hard, but it is over.

As I look back on what can only be described as kathleen and the terrible, horrible, no good, rotten, very bad year, I realize how necessary it is to have these dark times. Without them, how would we know just what we are made of? How would we know to relish in the delight of the good times? And, more than that, how would we become the people we are meant to be?

A very wise person said to me earlier this year, "This is the time you'll look back on and think, 'I climbed up from that.' " And, friends, she was right. I did climb up from that.

In this culture, we tell people to get over it. To quit crying and move on. To pull yourself up by your bootstraps. (Or as my mother would say, "Pull your socks up.") Well, guess what? I'm here to tell you not to get over it, but to get under it. Roll around in your sorrow and your hurt and your struggles. It won't last forever, I promise. Cry and stomp your feet and pull the covers up over your head. Give yourself the time and the attention the world tries to refuse you. You're worth it. And, one day, maybe even a year from now, you'll feel better. In fact, you'll be glad you fell apart in order to have the opportunity to build again.

And right now is all about rebuilding. Rebuilding a beautiful life on the rubble of all the inevitable hard times you survived.

"... but damn you smell good, like home."

Monday, November 7, 2011

"It's a big, bad world full of twists and turns and people have a way of blinking and missing the moment. The moment that could have changed everything." - Hank Moody


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Two weeks ago, I flew home to Washington. It had been eight months since I had been home and, even worse than that, since I had seen my mother. EIGHT MONTHS. In my world, this is pretty damn unacceptable. You see, my family is very close and being away from them - especially those sweet little boys I call my nephews - was heartbreaking. So, needless to say, this trip home was much needed and long anticipated.

I was lucky enough to fly in just in time to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday with some of our closest friends. As our girl Karen (accidentally) put it in her celebratory birthday toast, "It's great to see all these old faces!" Sure, she didn't mean it the way it came out, but it had me rolling nonetheless.

(Thanks for the laughs, Karen!)

I got in late Friday night and was GIDDY to see two of my closest girls, Katie and Carina. We stayed up giggling way too late and I woke up (very) early the next morning to coffee, laughs with my family and snuggles with my nephews. It was absolutely perfect. Since my mom's birthday is two days after my sister's, we had a lot of celebrating to do that afternoon. The ladies in the family indulged in crepes and mimosas before treating ourselves to manicures and pedicures. After a much needed nap, we all headed to one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle (or anywhere), Marjorie, for a birthday celebration.

After enjoying a fantastic meal and great conversation with people I hadn't seen in a very long time, came my favorite part of the evening - the dessert train! Marjorie brought out five or six of the most delicious treats and - being the close bunch that we are - we ignored the extra plates, grabbed our spoons and passed the desserts down. It was deliciously amazing.

(Can you see the happiness?)

Our next stop on the birthday train was a few hours of singing and laughter at Rock Box, a Japanese style karaoke club in my favorite neighborhood in Seattle, Capitol Hill. 10 years earlier, we celebrated my sister's 30th at a different karaoke club in town and, let me tell you, the venue options have vastly improved in the last ten years. For three hours, we sang (I rocked "Run to You" by Bryan Adams, thank you very much) and fell over laughing at the enthusiasm of my sister's friend, Rich.

The person who stole the show, however, was my sister, the birthday girl herself. I'm kicking myself for not getting a good photo of her, but - honestly - the whole time she was singing she had me so mesmerized, I forgot everything else. Every number she performed, had the whole crowd cheering. I even think a tear might have rolled down my face during her rendition of Pat Benatar's "We Belong."

(Luckily, I got a good shot of her husband, Michael.)

The rest of the trip included a lovely brunch with my oldest friends, Carina and Danny, more quality time with the family and some special time with just my mama in my little hometown. As much as I loved all of my time in Washington, the time with just my mother and the quiet of my childhood home was needed more than I can say. (And - for the record - I have no idea why I never get a good photo with my mom. I promise to fix this when I'm home for Christmas.)

To my family and friends, thank you. This trip - although too short - was just exactly what I needed. Sometimes the only thing we need is home.