Friday, October 31, 2014

Kindness At The Drive-Thru

I feel like I see these stories all of the time on my feed in Facebook…
 but it had never happened to me.

A stranger paid for your toll…your coffee…
your ice cream…maybe bought your lunch?

A grand gesture of anonymous kindness…
Then they drove off or left without waiting for a thank you…
or even a wave.

Paying it forward.

Gathering karma points.

However you look at it…
someone simply doing something nice for someone else.

It can literally turn your day around…
or perhaps, in my case, you weren't even having a bad day.

It happened to me!! 
Two days ago.

I was headed to Chicago to help a friend move.
Crusin along…listening to music…and decided to pull off and grab a Starbucks.

As I was in line, I thought to myself…I better eat something…
it was going to be a long day.

Rarely do I get food at Starbucks...but I did.

I was excited to let the Barista know I even had a complimentary drink…
 I am quite the regular.

But, as I handed her my card she said…
The guy ahead of you paid for your breakfast…
he also wanted me to tell you to have a great day!

It took a minute to register as I had my card dangling at her like…

She smiled…

I smiled…

I looked ahead to see if he was around…
I would have launched myself as far out of my window as I could to try and wave…
you my appreciation…
But he was gone.

Then I thought…man, hope he wasn't bummed when she was like her total was $8!
Like he was secretly hoping I only ordered a tall drip.

I got a meal.  

Regardless, it made my already good day that much better.

What a good reminder.

Be kind.
Be nice.
Smile at strangers.

You don't have to spend money to be generous.

Offer your time.

You could even help a friend move.

**My complimentary iced latte**

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dear Dad

I thought of you with love today.

How could I not?  
It was about 6:00pm when Lucinda called to tell us.
I had just landed in SLC a few hours before.
You waited until I left.

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed….

How Great Tho Art...your favorite…
I can you hear you sing…
Then sings my soul…my Savior God,  to Thee

I played Carrie Underwoods version today…
good grief that woman can sing.
But it's your song.
It reminds me of you.

I think of you everyday.  
I honestly do. 
You are remembered. 

Last night, Tony suggested 
we all do a text chain today 
retelling our favorite memory of you!  
He is the sweetest.  
We all thought...what a great idea!

I have so many.

I cherish the last month I spent with you.  

We didn't always say much of anything.  

But one day…
you reached your hand over to mine and looked at me…
I could barely understand you…
but you said…
You kids brought me so much joy.

You know I have a tender heart…
 and of course when I heard you say that I started to cry.

You seemed surprised.

It was that I just didn't know you felt that way.


It is now one of my favorite words.

YOU brought me so much joy.

Thank you for telling me that.

To this day, I marvel at your will and your determination to be independent even though you were paralyzed.  
Dad, where did you find the courage?  

To this day, I can only hope I'll be so content in solitude as you were.  

While I have spent a considerable amount of time alone since you passed on…
I try to fill my time learning…
studying something…
taking pictures…
getting outside to exercise...
just being productive.

Thank you for all of those lessons.

I'm here celebrating you.  

Tonight…as we have done every year since you passed away…
we are all cooking a steak…
lighting the candles…
playing Beethoven and pouring a splash…
all for you!

Cheers Dad! 

I love you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What If?

My sister Amanda recommended this book to me.  
She had recently read it for her book club.

So, I picked it up and I liked it.

Mostly, I liked it because it makes you think…
it makes you wonder and it keeps you curious.

The Husband's Secret…
and boy does he have one. 

We all have secrets. 
Don't we? 

No one's life is as neatly contained as it may appear.

Life gets messy.

 I am not into the retelling of a book…
breaking it down or providing a synopsis.
 I want to write what I thought of it...
in hopes that you might pick it up in your free time…
 and read it if you are so inclined.

Here is the jist...
There are three women who the book is built around and this secret…
this theme runs throughout the book; 
what do you do when you would rather not know something?

It is like trying to unsee something you have seen.

You can't.
So, what do you do?

This book is filled with betrayal…lies…
and truth.

Ah, the truth.

 For my wife, to be opened only in the event of my death.

There it is.
Written on the outside of a sealed envelope that you stumble upon.

Would you open it?

Before I tell you what I would do…
I feel compelled to mention that the contents of this letter..
 wasn't the real meat and potatoes of the story.

I do want to say that unlike in The Goldfinch…
I guessed what the letter admitted.
You probably will too.  

So, back to the three women…
one woman discovers a life-changing secret by her husband…
another woman is betrayed by her husband…
and finally a woman who can't let go of the pain of the past.

However, it is the consequences of this truth and the deep connections 
between the characters that unfold in the telling of the story.

The ultimate question in the book asked…
 if you found a letter addressed to you…
 with instructions not to open it until a certain event has happened…
would you go ahead and read it anyway?  

I thought about it.
What would I do?

I like to think I have a strong moral compass…
I would open the letter because it would have been written by my husband. 

I am responding to this under the pretense that
my husband wrote it and I am still happily married and I find it.

Let me tell you that if I was married…which I am not and I never have been…
 my man better not have a secret like this.

I have always had a person…
not always the same person…
but someone I could share something with.
I would hope if I ever have a husband…he will know ALL of my secrets.

I have some secrets.
Nothing like what was in this letter.
But…a few things not everyone knows.

I think everyone does.
Let's also realize…most people don't need to know everything.

What is a secret? 
Something unknown.

This guy had a secret. 

The problem with this particular secret is that it has 
a transformative effect on lives.

Secrets build walls.

I keep thinking of this…
what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive.

It seems to get easier…or does it?

No, you just have to keep building the wall.

Have you read this book?  
Do you know the secret?

I guess I don't have to tell you what it said.

I will say this again…
I would have opened the letter right when I found it.

I wouldn't have thought one second about that.

I would have had to think about what to do next.

Throughout the book the author, Liane Moriarty, writes about how one woman sold Tupperware…
and her daughter was obsessed with the Berlin Wall…
and she refers to opening Pandora's Box. 
All used as metaphors, right?  

Keeping things either in or out.

What if?

There are so many secrets about our lives we'll never know.
What if I had said yes when he asked me to marry him?
What if I had taken that job in New Orleans a year or two before Hurricane Katrina?
What if I had never left San Francisco?

We could what if ourselves to death.

At the end of the book, 
the author answers some of the potential 'what ifs' 
you may have had while reading…

I liked that.  
Sometimes, I do that too.
What if I had said yes…and I create my own conclusion…
I usually end up right here…
where I am now…knowing in my heart of hearts…
I made the best decision for myself at that time.

Moriarty ends the novel with this...

None of us ever knows all of the possible courses our lives could have 
and maybe should have taken.  
It's probably just as well.  
Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever.  
Just ask Pandora.


Friday, June 6, 2014

They Effing Forgot My Birthday!

I was sitting on the couch last night flipping channels.  
Nothing was on.
I was about to shut it down and go read or write or do something..productive…
but then I saw Sixteen Candles...

I love this movie!
And, although I've seen it a few hundred times, I stopped...
and decided to watch it again.

You remember what it's about, right?

Sam is turning 16…no one remembers…the geek loves her…she loves the stud muffin…
lots of funny lines…a character named Long Duk Dong and a happy ending.
What I may have to remind you of is that it was made in 1984…
let's see…I was about to be a freshman in High School.  

My gawd…that was 30 years ago.

And, just like the movie…that is silly and funny.

A simple-minded story of a girl turning 16…
her sweet-sixteen…which is anything but.

We can all relate to her, right?  
Use her as a springboard for our own remembrances...
I think the best part of re-watching it was seeing 
things of the not so distant past on display…
the headgear, leotards, bad hair, bad clothes, floppy disks.

They did have an epic party…pizza spinning on the record-player…
the place is a complete disaster..
a parent's worst nightmare.  
I forgot how much I hated the part where Jake finds Anthony Michael Hall underneath the small glass coffee table.
Do you remember?  
Thinking about it is making it hard to breathe.  

High School…thankfully, just a phase…
and it's all easily forgotten as time marches on.

Let's also be thankful for the simple truth Facebook wasn't developed back then.

I don't need to remember what I looked like in braces, bad hair and weird clothes.

I will say while I was watching it…
I was thinking that things do matter more when you're a teenager,
because you're experiencing it all for the first time.
Shit becomes a big deal.

The entire movie she is pining away for the Senior jock.

Jake Ryan.

What girl among us has never been in love with 'that guy'…that man…
you know the one…
the one who didn't even know we existed.

A crush.

Everyone's had one.  
It didn't even have to be the hottest guy in school.

I like this line Sam's dad says,
"That's why they call them crushes.  If they were easy, they'd call them something else."


But, maybe why I love this movie so much…is because her crush comes through.
I mean…she got Jake Ryan! 

I can't even list all the other reasons I like it…
except AMH is the best played geek --
maybe EVER.
His voice even cracks at all the right places.
He is really quite adorable.
No wonder he gets his happy ending too.
I would have nominated him for an Oscar…I would have. He is that good.

Seriously, if my boyfriend is reading this…
On my next birthday, I want a cake with candles…
sadly, there will be more than 16…
but, I want us to sit indian-style 
on a big table with the lights down low…
just the blaze from the 44 candles burning…
then…quietly…whisper to me…
make a wish…
and, I'll get to say…
it already came true…


Perfect ending to a perfect movie.
In my humble opinion.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An empty cradle

It has been a sad day here in Sawyer.

I went to check on Eleanor and the eggs…
due to hatch this weekend…
the nest was empty.

I was devastated to be quite honest.

What a sinking feeling to peek inside and have nothing there.

Nature is cruel.

I don't know what else to say…
but wanted you to know.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's official…I am a bird watcher!

It basically took me six hours to get both of these photos.
I stopped by the store three times on Saturday before we even opened.
I sound desperate.  
Maybe I am.
 I like to think that I'm curious.
I just wanted to see if the new egg was there.
But...each time…
Ellie was there…
being a great momma.

Stacia and I had been working…
and I was constantly peeking out the window for my opportunity…
and, then it happened…
with a store full of people…
and just as Stacia needed something…
I CAN'T!!!
I CAN'T!!!
I have like five minutes to get this picture while she is off the nest!!
I bolted out the door…
and there were three!

I basically repeated the steps today.
I waited…
and watched…
and waited some more.
Finally, I caught a break around 3:00pm.
Now there are four!

They are so beautiful.
So small.
So perfect.

Here are the next steps.
There is a rare chance she could lay five eggs.
It's rare.
But, let's face it.
She is a super girl.
I am kind of expecting it.

I will be there tomorrow…
and the second I get the chance…
I'll run to the nest and see how many eggs there are.

After that, it takes 12-14 days for the eggs to hatch.
She will sit there all day…
 taking care of them.

Stay tuned.

What a beautiful Mother's Day, indeed.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Two Brilliant Blue Eggs

I am tardy in posting…and I feel badly because how AMAZING is this egg?
Two days ago she laid her first beautiful blue egg.

I'll be honest, before this nature adventure, I knew nothing about robin's…
or much about any bird for that matter.

When I saw only one egg…I thought to myself something was wrong.
Just one? 
All that work?  

But, I did some research…
and a robin lays one egg per day…
up to four eggs.

Allow me to introduce to you our super girl, Eleanor…
Ellie for short.
She needed a strong name…from a strong woman…
Eleanor Roosevelt - deemed, First Lady of the World.

I probably sound a little crazy….
but I give her little shout outs of encouragement and 
tell her how proud I am of her…
 and to stay strong.

I did make this little safety sign for her…
but we had a lot of rain today and it got ruined.

The more I thought about it though…
I wondered if it would draw unnecessary attention?
 I may take it down.

Today, I snuck over around 8:00am and there were TWO!
I was so excited.

I mean, nature is so AMAZING and FASCINATING and just plain COOL!

I have learned so much.  
The brighter the egg color the healthier the female is and it has
proven that the male is more diligent with them in helping after they hatch.

I have yet to see her man.

She was in the cradle today for the better part of the afternoon.
What a good momma!

I can peek at her from a window in the store.  

Tonight, she will go feed and return, to hopefully lay a third.

Do you love this as much as I do?

I'm rooting for her…
for these babies…
for all of us to continue watching this miracle of life.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Update on the special happenings at Sojourn!


Our super girl finished the nest.
It's beautiful!

I spent most of the day at the store and never saw her once.

I even sat on the deck around 4:00pm hoping to catch a fly by or something.


I can only hope she is resting and prepping to lay her eggs.

She is clearly an over-achiever…
 and I imagine she is just plain tired.

I'll check on her tomorrow…
and the next day…
and the day after that.

Stay tuned…we've got babies coming! :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Intrigued by nature

I saw the most amazing thing.  
I went to work on Sunday and Jordan and Stacia took me outside to see what was happening.  
I had never seen anything like it before…ever.  

Have you ever seen anything so amazing?

Eight (8) nests leading up the stairs.

I was in awe.

This Robin has outdone herself.

I went back this morning and watched her.

I thought to myself…
What a dreamer!
Not just one nest…she has made eight!  
In fact, I noticed some other twigs and grasses left on yet another step below…
she has big plans.

I'll be honest…I watched her fly in with a mouthful of mud and twigs and I felt a little emotional.

She noticed me and flew up to the landing and waited.

I was so inspired.

Clearly, a hard worker…making this incredible combine for…I'm not sure who exactly.  
I really have only ever seen one nest at a time before.

Follow this link to see a video I took.

Truly, nature at its finest.

I was completely fascinated, so I did some research.

Apparently, building multiple nests is rare. 

Support from underneath is the primary site selection factor for the female robin.
In fact, it is more important to her than the concealment of the nest.

The female can get 'seduced' into building multiple nests.
This is an example of 'supernormal stimuli'. 
I would say so…she is my superwoman!

They can't resist if seduced. 
The robin will only settle in one nest after laying her eggs.

I'm going to keep an eye on her.
I also learned…a nest is a baby cradle. 
An incubator, if you will.
She will not stay but perch near and watch her babies.

From all of the reading…I will be honest...I am not that hopeful for her.
To keep the nest undisturbed and risk her abandonment may be slim.

I will tell you though, this has brought me so much joy all day today.

I found myself so inspired by her tenacity, determination, work ethic
and well…
before I knew it was her supernormal stimuli…
her big dream.

I was fascinated.

You never know where you will find it.
Thank you Jordan and Stacia for showing it to me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Goldfinch…read and reviewed.

I finished it!!  
I may have high-fived myself for simply completing every line of this 800-page novel.  
Well, 771 pages, to be exact.

Donna Tartt's latest…The Goldfinch.  

I mentioned a month or so back I was reading it…literally, engrossed.
I think I said that I basically, couldn't put the book down.  

But I did.  

I found that I prematurely raved about it.  
I don't mean to sound that all was lost.  

It's good.  
Is it THE BEST book I have ever read?  

It is worthy of most of the praise it has received.
After all, it is a Pulitzer-prize winning novel.

However, it stalled on me. 
 I found myself skipping…skimming sections...then feeling guilty and going back to read it. 
Several times I wanted to abandon it all together.
At one point, I even considered using it as a doorstop.

It was filled with so much unnecessary detail…which dragged on and bored me.  
At times it made me feel anxious. 
But…like the poor finch chained…so was I to finishing it.  

The jist is...a young boy named, Theo, loses his mother in an explosion at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art.  
She dies.  
Amid the explosion, aftermath, confusion, etc.  
He steals her favorite painting.  

It's his journey of loss, life, guilt, burden, deceit and why most of us survive…love.  

Fabritius's famous painting, Goldfinch -- you know the one?

A golden-colored finch…chained to its post.  

Reminding me of Theo…chained himself to this piece of art.  
Basically, built his life around it. 

I liked this line…
"The Painting," he observes, "was the still point where it all hinged: dreams and signs, past and future, luck and fate."

I sound unimpressed.  
I guess it's just where I was when I finished the book.

I will tell you that there is a moment that my mouth dropped open.  

**spoiler alert**

It NEVER occurred to me that Boris, his friend (some friend), 
stole the painting.  
Theo never even considered (nor did I) that his friend took it.
That after all these years, it was just cardboard wrapped so carefully and stored in a temperature-controlled storage unit.

Donna, you got me.
All of his fear…the hiding…the guilt…
the what ifs…
and he didn't even have it.
I mean…his journey with the painting is the entire book…
and he didn't even end up having it.

Isn't it true that we mostly worry about things that don't even exist?

I sat there thinking…
OMG are you kidding me? 
I couldn't decide if I was like, duh…of course he stole the painting from him.
Or, berate myself in that I am also too trusting in life and to heed the lesson.
Oh, Theo.  
Damnit, Theo.

Overall, I wasn't expecting the twist.  
It brought me back around.

I did find myself angry in Theo for befriending Boris again…
But…I knew why.  

To me, in the end, it came down to Pippa.  
The girl.

He lived for Pippa…
 The painting represented how he found her…
how he devoted his life to having her one day…
remembering her every move, scent, hung on her every word…
like he did mourning his mother.

The painting he observed…was where it all hinged.  
The past
The future


In conclusion…
I found that the power of art can change a life.
That I am not the only one who seems to always be in love with the wrong person…
 and yet find, in the end, we are all flawed.
And to recognize the reoccurring themes in life…and still ignore them.

Break the chain.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Exploring Michigan

I packed a lot in this past weekend.
My niece, Ashley, came to see me in Sawyer and we had such a good time.

We help each other with our blogs.  
I take pictures for her…she takes pictures for me (for FATE).  

Which, if I'm honest, I've come to enjoy our photo sessions more than the blog itself.  
We laugh, take thousands of pictures and then review them side-by-side on the couch and laugh so hard at how we look in some of them.  
I mean…gut wrenching laughs.  

We also knock around ideas and brainstorm together.  
After the photo shoot, Ash said, have you been to The Stray Dog in New Buffalo yet?  
I hadn't. 
So, we went there for lunch and from there we cruised around the town. 

We grabbed coffee at David's Coffee shop and decided that once a month…
 we would explore Michigan.  

We will pick a town and go there.  
Find a coffee shop and catch up…shop, go to the beach...anything.
I'm excited!

A glimpse of frozen Lake Michigan.
Beautiful, isn't it?

Life is good here in Sawyer.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Small reminders

I had to run by the bank.  

Donna, the teller who helped me, handed this envelope back to me…

Attitude is contagious…
is yours worth catching?

Did you just ask yourself if yours was catchable?

Let's spend this weekend making sure it is.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A page turner…finally


Is a damn good book.  

I was visiting my friend in Detroit and I knew he had some work to do.
While we were running errands I asked if we could pop by Barnes and Noble.
I wanted to grab a book.  
I had recently heard about this one…
so, I thought I'd run in and get it.

I got a coffee…
perused the mags…
found the book and 
once we got in the car...
I opened the book jacket and started to read it. 

I wasn't even sure what the book was about.
Only that I had heard it was worth the read.
Honestly, I haven't been reading much…which isn't like me.  
I'd pick something up and nothing had been grabbing me.  

He asked me what it was about…
I was skimming and trying to summarize out loud…
 when I stumbled over a word I didn't recognize.


I Googled it.
It was used in this sentence…

…and the ruthless machinations of fate.

It means…in case you are wondering…
the act of plotting…
a crafty scheme or cunning design for the accomplishment of a sinister end.

And then, he says, we have to use it in a sentence of our own...
I totally like this guy...cause how cute is that?
Except that I was like…uh…you go first...

Anyway, once we got back, I dove into the book…
 and three hours later he is like…uh…wanna do something with me? 
Or should I turn on the light so you can see better?

I think I'll leave it at that.  

I promised Vee I'd send it to her when I finish it.

Then, I think I'll break it down later for you guys.
What I liked, why I liked it…etc.

Promise me though…
put it on your book list…

I'm reading…I'm blogging and this weekend I'm doing some photography for FATE.  
Look at me…
Over here liven'

…and the ruthless machinations of fate are after me…thankfully…plotting for my return.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Never Look Back

This was one of the last pictures I took in Chicago.  
I was walking in on my last day of work.  
A blood red sky with a blazing yellow highlight.  
Isn't it?  

My last day. 
My last picture.  
Not so much. 

I remember telling a friend I was moving to Michigan.  
You're leaving Chicago?  
You seem like such a city girl.
Do I?  
In all honesty, I didn't embrace the city like I had embraced new places in the past.  
I really can't pinpoint why.   
(see...I keep asking myself questions)
But, it's okay if I can't pinpoint the answer.  
Somethings, take longer to figure out.

The new conversations consist of; don't you miss it?  
I mean, of course I do.  
But not in the way that I want to go back.  
Go back to LIVE that is. 

Never look back.
It sounds so…definitive…doesn't it?  

When you move as much as I have and you initially make the change…
it's easy to misinterpret feelings.  Your feelings of unsettledness.  
The emotional ups and downs…how madly they fluctuate. 
 Funny, how somedays I feel so exhausted from…??I don't know what...the emotion?  
Or, is it from the chaos my mind is in trying to sort out the routine? 
Trying to create the new rhythm my life will take.  

I mean one day, I could run all over Michigan exploring and discovering my new turf and the next day I can't force myself to walk out the front door.  
Or is it?  
I have come to find out…this is change.  
It's okay.  We all operate differently.  
And, well, it has to be okay.  I'm embracing it.  
Letting myself sort it out…when I can.  
Run with the energy and succumb to the withdrawal.  

I should clarify, I don't mean NEVER look back.  
Just don't look back in regret.  
Don't look back thinking…what have I done?  
Is this a mistake?  
Don't misinterpret the chaos that comes with change as a mistake.  
But rather, the exciting opportunity to better yourself.  
Challenge yourself.  
Surprise yourself.  

It is also wonderful when that unsuspecting shift takes place…like the wind blew in some sort of goodness and you feel like you didn't think about it once…
you know, you didn't think about the WHY…
you just got up, brushed your teeth and went on your way.  
Like it was exactly where you belonged.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Do you do this?  

Just ask yourself questions over and over.  

 I have asked myself this too many times…WHY have I abandoned OTC?  

I found myself here the other day…just reading through the posts.  
It will probably sound weird…but I missed it.  
Not what I had to say, but just writing things down.  
Taking pictures and documenting my little life here.  
It was something I had always enjoyed doing, but no longer made time for.

I just kept thinking about writing something.  
And never did.  

I finally said to myself...just go do it.  
Sit down…
don't think too much and just write stuff…
literally, write 'off the cuff' here I am.

It feels like the right time to start something again.  

Don't you love the magic of beginnings?   

To fill you in, I've moved. 
 I left the city and moved to the country.  
No joke. 
 I packed up my place in Chicago and made my way to Sawyer, MI.  

It's quiet here.  
But, I will tell you, I have always loved both extremes.  
That dichotomy of city life…and now country living.  

Very different, indeed. 

It happened pretty quickly…but then, it really didn't.  
I feel like I had been laying the foundation for several months.  
I had been thinking about making a move and then it fell into place.  

A job turned into a bigger opportunity…I found a new place to call home…
I'm closer to old friends and family…creating new routines and 
I'm looking forward to making new friends and…
 it seems like I am figuring out the answers to why.  

You just have to be willing to react to the questions. 

So, with a splash of wine in my hand…
my little universe seems temporarily balanced.

Welcome to my new LIFE…
this city girl has gone country...