You Have to Love.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Over the weekend, I reconnected with my friend John (and several other dear friends, as well as my favorite state of California). On Sunday, he posted his favorite quote and it so perfectly summarizes what I've been going through this last year, as well as how I feel about this beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking world we live in. 

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could."

— Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

More to come soon, friends...

Bags, Bruises and Coming Home.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I'm going to admit something here, something I don't say out loud to very many people...

I'm tired. 

Sometimes I'm so tired, I break down crying on the way to work. And although I am in the middle of moving into my own little apartment with my sweet girl and my darling pup and there are literally bags and boxes everywhere, the bags I'm referring to in the title of this post are the ones residing under my eyes.

If I told you it has been easy, I would be lying. It has been many things, but easy has not been one of them. There are days that the work of motherhood and career and paperwork and daycare drop offs and screaming baby commutes get the best of me. There are days, even with all the love I am surrounded by, I feel very alone. There are days I cancel dates with nice, probably well-intentioned men because I just don't have the energy, emotionally or otherwise. I tell said men I'm really busy this week and that I'll get a hold of them when things settle down, knowing - deep down - that the call or text to announce things have settled down might not ever come. And, on those days, the tears roll down my face. Because it's hard and because it hurts. And because second only to loving my daughter, the silent work I am doing  most while I make that loud commute and type up my usually late paperwork and drop off my curly haired girl is healing my bruised heart. 

But I'm not really supposed to blog about this, am I? I'm supposed to post pretty pictures that edit out the bags under my eyes (and any other imperfections I might have in that particular photo). I'm supposed to write about trips to Greece and nice, probably well-intentioned men. I'm supposed to present the life I want you to think I have, but really don't because, in certain parts of the blogging world, that's just the way it's done. Not here, though. Not on this blog. Why? Because I started this little space of mine on the internet to write, to set the words inside me free and the only way to do that is to tell the truth, my truth. So, here it is...

I'm tired. I'm bruised. But even through the hurt and the exhaustion and the tears that sometimes fall, I feel a peace and a strength I haven't in years... And, earlier today, after I carried those heavy boxes up the stairs and into what will soon be my new residence, I sat down on the floor, looked around, wrapped Violet in my arms and cried. Because I was tired. Because I was bruised. And because I was finally home.

When To Let Go.
{... and a new writing gig.}

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A few weeks ago, I promised an upcoming blog post about my trip to Greece filled with photos. Yeah, um, I guess that didn't happen... Here's the thing, mama is tired. Bottom line. Just the thought of uploading all of my vacation photos is overwhelming (and, let's just be honest, I haven't even compiled all of my photos yet - I took over 1,100 on my iPhone alone), but a Greece inspired post is coming soon, guaranteed. However, the mentality of "I have to post about x by such and such date" is part of the reason I needed a blogging break to begin with. It just wasn't fun anymore and, as I've said before, this should be fun. I have enough deadlines in my life and really don't want them here. So, sometimes I need a little reminder that this space is just for me to express myself. No rules, no deadlines.

Moving on...

There is a lot going on in my little world. Lots of big things and little things I'm really, really excited about and I'll be sharing a few of them soon. (See what I did there? Not this week, necessarily, but soon.)

One thing I'm really excited about is that I've become a contributing writer for the website, We Love Dates. My first post is a really personal one called "When To Let Go" and it was posted last night. Please check it out when you get a chance.

Until I see you around these parts next, happy Wednesday!

Don't Call it a Comeback.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hi, friends...

My last post, before my little hiatus, hinted at some big changes taking place in this small town girl's lonely world and the need to step back and reevaluate the direction of not only this little blog of mine, but of my life, as well. I've thought a lot about this first post-break post, about what I wanted to say about where I've been and where I'm going and, honestly, only one sentence repeats itself in my head over and over again like a mantra...

I'm back.

Yes, it's true. In more ways than one, I'm back.

Let's talk blog changes first. Thanks to my dear friend Andre (who just so happens to be my pup Samson's very best friend), I have a new and improved layout here on just a small town girl. There are still a few small tweaks to be tended to here and there, but I really couldn't be happier with Andre's work and am just so grateful that he put up with my obsessive-compulsive tendencies while we worked out the kinks of the redesign. Another change is thanks to sweet Jasmine. After only a few texts exchanged back and forth, she figured out how to give me what I like to call my new big girl URL ( Hooray! This is something I have wanted for so long, but just couldn't seem to find the time to figure out how to do on my own. And the great news is that if you continue to use my previous URL, you will be redirected here. You also may have noticed my fancy new header. Oh, you didn't? Well, look up! Isn't it pretty? Steph over at Hearts and Laserbeams is responsible for it and was truly a joy to work with.

Okay, real life changes. Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? There have been plenty of changes, some good, some bad, all likely very needed. And as any good blogger would, I'll talk about them here at some point. What I will tell you now, however, is that I am sipping my coffee and writing these words on my laptop as a single mama. Not where I thought I would be, not where I wanted to be, but where I am. Let's see... what else do I have for you? My little Violet turned one at the end of May and is now walking and falling and running and falling and saying "Uh-Oh" and getting right back up again. In other words, we're in very similar places. 

So, there you have it. Lots to catch up on. First up, the trip of a lifetime. Check back in next week for photos and a post about my trip to Greece with the family (and no less than eight flights in ten days with the short one). And there will be more. Breakups, breakthroughs, dipping my toes cautiously back into the world of dating, moving out and moving on. Lots of inspiration around these parts.

It feels really good to be back.

Oh, and PS, you can actually call it a comeback if you want.

Under Construction.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

{image via}

You may have noticed, but it's been a little quiet around these parts as of late. Turns out, just a small town girl, and the small town girl behind it, are both going through a transformation. We'll be up and running in no time, I'm sure, with a new look (both the blog and the girl are getting makeovers) and possibly even a new name. Stay tuned on that one... It's been hard to find my footing where my blog is concerned in the last year. New mamahood, coupled with a few life knockdowns, have made me reconsider the direction of both my writing and my life. So, when we're back - and it will be soon - it will be with a fresh perspective, a new attitude and a whole lot of inspiration for upcoming posts (trust me on that one). 

I think I got lost in the Dear Violet letters, the 2012 recap and baby's first holiday posts. I felt as behind here as I did in the other areas of my life. And, as any good blogger knows, this should be fun. It lost its fun for a minute there, as a lot of things did, I'm afraid. But I feel a change coming on, personally and here in my little backyard of the blogosphere. And fun is a big part of my comeback. So, although I'll keep writing my own Dear Violet letters and tucking them away for the book I'm making my daughter, I'm not going to worry about catching up on posts any longer. In fact, I'm not going to worry about a lot of the things that have been taking up my time, my energy and my heart the last few months. (How's that for a new attitude?)

If I've learned anything in the last few weeks, it's that there's no going back. From now on, we're only looking toward the future and it sure looks sparkling from here.

So, if you've checked in here recently and heard the crickets, thank you. This blog is part of my heart, as is this community. But for now, the blog and the girl are under construction...

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Nobody can intervene and make it right and nobody will. Nobody can take it back with silence or push it away with words. Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal... The healing, the genuine healing, the actual real deal down-on-your-knees-in-the-mud-change is entirely and absolutely up to you."

- Cheryl Strayed, from her Dear Sugar column, "How You Get Unstuck"
{Warning: if you read the entire "How You Get Unstuck" column, you will cry. You will ugly cry, in fact. It will break your heart and crack it open wide with love all at once. You've been warned.} 

"You Gotta Get Up."

Monday, February 25, 2013

I love the Oscars. Period. I've talked about it before (in a favorite post entitled "Homo-loving Sons-of-Guns - read it, you'll understand) when my blog was just a chubby baby. This year, I was busy doing a hundred and twelve other things during the ceremony. Feeding and putting Violet to bed, talking to my friend who was over, cooking a far more complicated than I'm used to dinner (I'm on a two week cleanse of sorts) and finishing up a week's worth of paperwork, my dreaded Sunday ritual. So, some of the show was lost on me. Ben Affleck's beautiful speech, however, was not. You know, the one where he thanked his wife for all the hard work she puts into their marriage and cried dedicating his award to his children (one of whom is named Violet, thankyouverymuch). And these words. These words had me reduced to tears on my couch. 

"You have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can't hold grudges. It's hard, but you can't hold grudges. And it doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life because that's going to happen. All that matters is you gotta get up."

2012 was the most beautiful year of my life because it was the year I met my sweet Violet, but - damn - that year knocked me down a lot, too. And while I was starting to get firmly on my feet again by years end, my life is coming together in so many ways in this new year. So, Ben's (yes, we're on a first name basis now) words strongly resonated with me. And I know that while things are lovely right now, I'll get knocked down again. That's what life does. However, I now know something I maybe didn't know before 2012, nothing can break me. 

So, thank you for your speech, Mr. Jennifer Garner (favorite mom in Hollywood). You've come a long way from your "Jenny on the Block" video appearance. So, thank you for that, too.

Seattle x 3
{And Portland, too.}

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Between the months of October and December of last year, Violet and I hopped on a plane to Seattle three times. Yep, three times. Once for my sister Monica's birthday, once for a post-Christmas Seattle Christmas and once just because I needed my mom. And home. I needed home.

And during this time, my little traveling companion went from sleeping throughout the 2+ hour flight to waking 40 minutes in and socializing with all the nearby passengers, whether or not they wanted a five month old grabbing their nose and squealing in delight. Granted, flying with Violet is not quite as easy as it was during her first couple of flights to Seattle, but she is now pretty much a pro. I love it when people ask, "Is this her first flight?" I can now proudly respond, "Nope, it's her ninth." Not bad for an eight month old.     

My favorite thing to do while in Seattle is go out for dinner and drinks with some of my favorite people. If you've been to Seattle, you know that - at least in my humble opinion - one of the best and coolest parts of town is Capitol Hill. I can't walk down the streets in that neighborhood without being flooded with memories of nights out in my twenties. If those streets could talk, they probably wouldn't remember the details of those excursions any more than any of us do, but those were some good times. There was laughter, usually too many drinks, sometimes awkward run-ins with boys from my past, but there was always fun. And those good times have kept on coming up and down those streets. All three of my trips home in the fall and winter of 2012 involved nights out on Capitol Hill. From celebrating my sister's birthday at Via Tribunali with the fam to drinks at Linda's, the backdrop of so many good and bad memories, to dinner with my dEeDLes at Boom Noodle, Capitol Hill always makes me feel like I'm home.

But more than anything else, these trips brought some much needed time with family. (And some much needed down time, as well.) Violet got to be with her mama's family both in Seattle and in my hometown of Westport, Washington. She got to play with her cousins (she absolutely lights up when they come into a room) and she got to have some really special time with my mom, her gram. And I got to be surrounded by people who were always willing to hold a sweet baby girl so her mom could take a little nap. If that's not something to be appreciative of, I don't know what is.

And then there was our one night trip to one of my favorite places, Portland, home of some of my closest friends. I swear, we packed more into that one night in Portland than I usually do in an entire trip home. From eating grilled cheese sandwiches on a school bus at the Grilled Cheese Grill, to meeting Luna's new baby, Ariana, to hanging out with Carina's bunny, Sherman, to swimming with Violet in her first indoor pool dip (turns out a Vegas baby doesn't know much about indoor pools) to a mimosa brunch, our time in Portland was a highlight of my time at home.  

One of the best parts of my time in Washington was getting to be with one of my very best friends and favorite people on the planet, my mom. And I needed that time so much. It turns out, you can go home again. In the time I've lived in Las Vegas, I've flirted with the idea of moving back to Washington, to the place I've always considered my home. But, as everything seems to, a person's idea of home changes as they do. And Las Vegas, and it's never ending sunshine, has become home, too, in a way I didn't expect. Sure, I might find myself back in Seattle someday, but - at least for now - the desert is where this girl from the beach wants to be. And I'm so lucky to have a place to return to that makes me feel so good. I wouldn't trade that for anything. Until next time...

This was Halloween.
{Catching up on blog posts.}

Sunday, February 3, 2013

In the spirit of catching up on blog posts (I plan on making a book out of my Violet related posts for her), this was Halloween. As you can see, we were in quite the festive spirit around these parts. Truth be told, Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. Sharing one of my favorite days with my favorite person, Violet, just made it all the happier this year.

Two monkeys (although Jenner looked more like a bear and Sammy looked exactly like an Ewok), a giraffe and the cutest little elephant in the world. This is what I call Halloween happy.

A Baby and Her (Furry) Brother.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Last week, our little Samson pup turned two years old. In the last year, Sammy took his first trip to the beach, survived a remodel of our little condo and subsequent temporary move to his grandparents, wore a bow tie to his soon-to-be baby sister's baby shower (and stole the show, clearly), took countless trips out to the desert with his grumpy dog uncle, Russy, and welcomed his best friend into the world, Violet.

Now, let me be honest here. I was scared that having Violet would lessen my love for my sweet boy. I had seen it a million times as a nanny. A dog is the family baby until a real baby arrives and the dog becomes, perhaps for the first time, well..., a dog. I was so nervous, in fact, that I didn't even have Sammy around the first two weeks after Violet was born. I was worried he would become jealous or too needy or, honestly, just too much work. 

Then we introduced the two...

... and this is the way he has looked at his sister ever since. The very first time we put the car seat down next to Samson, he snuggled up to her, kissed her and planted himself by her side. And that is where he has wanted be from that day forward, right by Violet's side. Suddenly our dog - who refused to ride in the back seat - had to be in the back guarding the baby. When Violet napped those first few weeks, Sammy was the one to check on her (granted, I was keeping my eye on her as well, via the video monitor). If she cried, he would frantically whine to me, begging me with his puppy eyes to take care of his sister.

So, my fears about loving Sammy any less were unnecessary. The truth is, after seeing this sweet animal treat our baby as his own sister just made me love him more. Animals really are the most amazing creatures. Sammy's loyalty and capacity for love makes my heart swell. And Violet just adores him. 

When my mom was staying here for ten days after Violet was born, she too thought bringing Sammy home so soon after Violet's arrival might be hard on me. When I called her and told her he was finally home and what wonderful company he was on my maternity leave, she said it best, "He just makes you so happy." And you know what? He does. My little antidepressant, my furry companion.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Samson! Our little family wouldn't be complete without you.

Dear Violet
{Months Three and Four}

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dear Violet,

Let me tell you a little about the third and fourth months of your life, baby girl...
When you were eight weeks old, I had to go back to work. And, like many a new mama, my heart was heavy at the thought of being without you. I had only known you fifty six days, but you had become an intrinsic part of me. Your sweet round cheeks and your soft baby breath. Your bright blue eyes and your little hands grasping at my fingers. Where I went, you went. My plus one, always. And although your Aunt Monica had made me tour day cares and had helped me find a place that was as close to perfect as I could probably ever find with women who would cherish you while I was away, I wasn't ready. So, I took you with me. I packed up the diaper bag and the bouncy ball and the baby bjorn and I took you with me. I won't pretend it was easy because it wasn't. But it was worth it. To have you with me was worth everything. And looking back, the time you spent at work around so many smiling people who loved you before you were even born gave you just the opportunity to become the happy, social, always smiling baby that you are.
I hope you grow up knowing that your mother loves you more than anything else in the world, but I also truly love my job. I love helping children that didn't have the attention and care and love that you have. I hope that someday you are as proud of what I do as I was as a little girl of my own mother. She helped children, too. Who knows, maybe someday you'll find that your passion is helping children. Whatever your passion is, Violet, I will always be your biggest supporter.
When you turned three months old, you started day care and your mama got a bit of a promotion at work. In other words, things got really, really, really busy really, really, really fast. But my favorite part of every day was when I swaddled you at night and cradled you in my arms and rocked you to sleep. Sometimes, on my very favorite nights, just before you fell asleep, you would look at me and start to coo. And we would coo back and forth and beam at one another. And my heart would melt into a puddle of mama love.
In this letter, I could tell you how you started laughing and how it was, by far, the most beautiful noise I had ever heard. I could tell you how you started rolling and how the ladies at day care said you rolled like a six month old and your doctor said you rolled like a seven month old when you were only three months old. I could tell you how you've never liked your swing and how you only wanted to be in my arms or on the ground moving around. I could tell you how you started eating rice cereal at four months and thought it was the most delicious, fun, messy way to spend half an hour. I could tell you how your dad quickly became the funniest person in the whole wide world to you. I could tell you how you surprised me by becoming even more beautiful than you were in the previous months.

Instead, I will tell you in this letter what I tell you everyday. I love you and I'm so proud of you, sweet Violet. You make me so happy every single day.

Love, Mama

What Feeds Us.

Monday, January 14, 2013

In my last post - written on Halloween of 2012 - I promised that more posts were on their way. Yeah... whoops. It turns out, 2012 was a year I had to dig deep, look at some hard truths in my life and reprioritize what matters to me most. My time, my energy and my heart were in high demand - between new mamahood and a promotion at work that often required long hours of paperwork at home - some things had to give. Unfortunately, this blog was often one of them.
However, as new years tend to offer, I have recently gained some new perspective. Writing this blog is one of the few things I do just for me. The simple act of typing these words right now - whether I ever hit publish or not - feeds me in ways I know you understand if you're reading this. So, here I am. With a sleeping baby and piles of paperwork that need to be tended to, busy and tired and in desperate need of a shower, here I am, feeding a hunger that urgently whispers, "Write."

So, over the next few weeks, I'm going to catch up on some posts that have been gathering dust in my drafts folders. My belated 2012 recap, photos from Violet's first Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, trips to Seattle and even my long overdue Dear Violet posts (sure, she's now almost eight months old and I haven't yet posted her three month letter, but - hey - we'll figure it out).

Whatever it is that feeds you, and whatever it is that stands in your way of finding the time for it, I hope you carve out the space for it. After all, it's a new year.