Living in the Sunshine

 
I stopped to see the beach and to listen to the waves for 5 minutes before heading home, because I was really “busy” today. 

We were going to sit in the hot tub and drink our coffee, but we didn’t. We went for a walk with the kids instead.

We were going to go for a drive to test out my friend’s new car, but we didn’t. We sat on the patio and watched the hawks circling overhead instead.

We were going to make lunch, but rather we put out fruit and meat and cheese and told everyone to help themselves.

We joyfully watched the kids play all day, appreciating them still being kids. We relaxed in the sunshine and talked the day away and there was nothing else I would have rather done. We were very busy, being.

We flowed and danced and loved being together side by side, enjoying our kids and our friendship and living our happily ever after in the sunshine. This is it. This is my version of the best life. Thank you my friend, for sharing your weekend and family and home and thoughts with me. xo

How did you live it up today? What does your happily ever after look like?  Be well, BeLOVErs.

Sweetness

  
This is just one of the sweet things I enjoyed today that made me smile. It’s an Oreo Pizookie and it’s the sweetest thing that hits that ooey-gooey yummy spot!

I wish I didn’t love food as much as I do, but I do!

Julie made me a delicious sandwich today and I think it tasted so good because she made it for me. Have you ever noticed that something you can make for yourself tastes so much better when someone else makes it for you? I think there’s a love additive they add.

And one more food story, just to see if you’re hungry yet…I was the lucky one who got to finish off the last few bites of the Christmas Gruyere au gratin potatoes with arugula and bacon. Mmm…was all you could hear and I couldn’t see anything because my eyes were closed, as I savored and enjoyed the decadent moment.  They were that good!

The other sweet things had nothing to do with food. 

We took down all the Christmas clutter and my house feels spacious again. I love Christmas decorations and I love putting them all back in the attic again before New Years.

The final sweetness involved spending time with friends. We were so thankful that our Dutch friends chose to come see us again before flying back home tomorrow. We loved having them here and fondly remembering our time living abroad, so thankful that we made lasting friendships. Thank you J, S and B for coming by and for dinner. We love you guys! Tot ziens.

Sweet dreams.

xo

Christmas Cards

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I still love the Christmas and Holiday card sharing tradition, even though we have social media and instant updates.  Do you?

Do you send cards? Do you enjoy receiving cards? I do. I do.

I absolutely love this tradition and love it even more now that Juliana has been helping me. We have a Google Doc that we update every year keeping our addresses current and I love how organized the process has become. She likes to hand write the addresses and stuffs the cards inside the envelopes for me. She keeps them in alphabetical order and has them ready for me to see and touch, stamp and seal.

As I touch each card, I spend a moment thinking of the person or family that the card is going to and reflect on our relationship and connection and say a prayer for them. It’s a little sacred moment that I truly enjoy.

Thank you for your cards, thoughts and well wishes – whether digitally or physically. I love the anticipation of waiting for the cards to arrive each day and seeing and opening your cards. The kids know how much I love this and even though they want to open them, they wait for me to do it and watch. We hang them up on our kitchen wall so that we can all enjoy the lovely faces and friendships and recall stories of how we know one another.  I love seeing how families grow up and change so magically from year to year.

Wishing you love and light and a Merry Christmas in only 5 more days.

nAMaste

 

One Light

Tonight Charlie was at a friend’s house as they were preparing for the first night of Hanukkah. He had been with this family for almost 24 hours, as he had a birthday party and sleepover there the night before and never left.  I love how kids can just play all day. He wanted to be sure he didn’t leave until they had passed the 24 hour mark of togetherness and until the jelly donuts were ready.

You see, my friend began making homemade sufganiyot, the deep-fried Israeli delicacies, first thing in the morning and they were just going into the fryer late in the afternoon, and she had promised Charlie one before he left. I watched the perfectly plump rounds of dough turn golden brown and then cooled, while she piped strawberry jelly into their middles and then sprinkled them with powdered sugar. They were little delicious miracles.

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She called for the kids to come into the kitchen and Charlie came out to enjoy this Jewish tradition with his Santa hat on top of his head. I wished I would have taken a picture to capture the sweet innocence and yin and yang of this moment. Her and I both laughed, as we saw the same thing and appreciated the sharing of our traditions, together.

Happy Hanukah. Wishing you love and light.

nAMaste

Walking Date

Jeff and I decided to walk to our downtown farmer’s market this morning.  

  
Surprisingly, all three kids decided to join us. Walking together reminded me of the times we walked together through Amsterdam and I was thankful they were all with me. It felt weird walking a mile and a half through residential streets when most people are not out walking. We don’t live in a walking kind of town, but it felt good to be an outlier.

I loved walking and people watching and tasting fresh fruits and cheeses.  We liked seeing all the vendors, fruits and veggies displays, and listening to the music performers. 

   
 
I loved the lighting on the veggies.

Each of us chose something for brunch and we found a table where we could sit together and share a family potluck meal, even sharing utensils.  It felt like we were camping. The crazy thing was that both Jeff and I felt the same way and we both said the exact same expression simultaneously. This was so eerily weird and cool at the same time.

While walking back home, we stopped in to see our friends and shared a cup of coffee.  I love that this was even a possibility.

   
 These are the best days, simple and sweet.

 
Life is good, outdoors.

How to Stay Positive When You’re Brokenhearted

Today was hard. It is the anniversary of Chase Varney’s death today and it sucks. He was only a high school, senior. My son will be a senior next year. This is too close to my heart and I adore and admire his mother and I can only imagine what she is feeling right now. Heart broken.

I felt paralyzed and helpless. I felt anger and sadness and loneliness. I felt compassion and frustration and helplessness. I also felt grateful and guilty. I felt present and short-tempered and nervously laughed a lot. I was anxious.

I am not in control and I feel vulnerable and fearful and sad and mad all at the same time.

How is one supposed to be positive when you’re dealing with such negative feelings?

This is what we need to learn to do. We need to learn to carry on, despite the S*(#.  We need to teach our kids and ourselves that we are going to face ugly moments and days and we can get through them. We don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to be sad. We get to choose how to deal with the bad things, just as we know how to deal with the good things.  When we make bad choices, we can recover. One bad choice does not define us and this too shall pass. It’s okay to mess up. We’re all still learning. Do our kids really know this? Do they know how to make mistakes? I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping we teach them to fail and to be resilient.

No one thing or event defines all of us. We can be broken and we can start again. We can be forgiven and we can rebuild. We have to be kind to ourselves and allow the pain to just be without feeding it.

I just ate an entire chocolate bar. I am feeling it. I am lost.

I don’t have to have all the answers and it’s okay to cry my eyes out. I did that tonight. I yelled tonight too. I’m so frustrated.

And then I wiped away my tears, and said enough. I didn’t want to cry the rest of the night. I was crying that ugly cry and it felt good to let it out and I don’t like to lose self control and to cry like that.

Charlie asked if I wanted to hear a good story. Thank God for the littles. I said yes, please. Lift me up and share something good because I am so sad right now. And he did.

He told me how he won a raffle prize tonight for wearing his shirt. Another new kid forgot to wear his member-shirt and this was his first year participating. Charlie chose to give his prize to the new kid and made his night. Seriously? He knows compassion already and to be self-less? Good job, Charlie boy. I am proud of you. You’re getting the meaning behind this life circus. I am proud of you and this story was just the right one I needed to hear tonight. Thank you for this precious gift. Thank you for being you, kind and loving and compassionate.

I smiled. I cried. I smiled again.

We are all a little broken. Let’s choose to take care of each other. Let’s choose to forgive others and ourselves and to offer do-overs and compassion. Let’s support one another and lift each other up.

And just maybe we’ll get through this life happily ever after together.

nAMaste

p.s. These little gifts brought light and warmth to me today, still a year later. Thank you Elizabeth and ML for your gifts of friendship. I love you.


See One Another

  
We all live under this one big sky and it’s a beautiful thing.

The next person you come in contact with, really see them. Say hello and acknowledge their presence, even if they are a little weird or different than you. We are all weird. 

Be curious . Don’t be afraid. We all are the same on the inside.

This world needs more love and acceptance. We can make the difference by loving everyone we meet, from within our hearts, through our actions and with our intentions. Go ahead and smile first. Strike up a conversation. It’s so easy. You can make a difference just by being you.

Oregon – I wish you peace and am so sad and angry that so many lives were sacrificed and harmed because someone didn’t think they were enough today. I am so sorry for your unexplainable loss. 

You are enough, BeLoveRs. 

nAMaste.

One Love – Japan and America

Today the girls went ice skating with their friends after school. I don’t think Akie had ever been ice skating before and was a good sport. Juliana sticks by her side and helps her and includes her in everything she does. I am proud of all the work she puts into making Akie feel at home here.

For dinner, I served roasted chicken from Costco, rice, fresh corn, and sliced pineapple. I think she liked all of it, which makes me happy. I love that she is willing to try everything.

After dinner, we took Akie to Target to do some inexpensive American shopping and browsing. We were looking at the dollar section right as you walk in the store, and as we’re browsing, we hear “AKIE!!!”

Two of her Japanese friends walked in with their host family and we were all happy to see them. It was really cute to watch them greet each other. They walked up to her and decided to reach out with their arms wide open for a slow, animated, hug. I was shocked! So was Akie.  They hugged, which is not normal for Japanese people. They were practicing being like their American friends and it was so cool!

When we left the store, I asked Akie about the hug and she said this was the first time she ever hugged her friends. I told her that I hope she takes the hugs home with her back to Japan and starts a new tradition there.  She laughed and smiled.  This really made me happy.

She loved looking around Target and admired the accessories, especially the colorful sling handbags and floral jewelry. She spent a lot of time in the candy aisle, and chose two different types of Ghiradellii chocolate bars to bring home. She also enjoyed looking around the kitchen aisles. I loved watching what she liked and what she admired.

We came home and unpacked and sat at the table, sharing a drink and a snack. Akie left the table and came back with a surprise for Juliana, wrapped up in her red scarf. She called Juliana’s name and when Juliana looked up, she presented her with a hand made gift that is priceless.  I wish you could have seen Juliana’s face.

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I took a picture of Juliana admiring her treasure and then asked Akie to give her a hug!!  She laughed and joined in on the fun.

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I can’t even tell you how much I love this girl and how much I am going to miss her when she goes back home in a few days.

Having her here with us is a great gift that we will treasure for a very long time.

Life is good.

Painting with Friends

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Before I hurry off to sleep, I wanted to share the highlights from the painting nite party I attended with my friends.

Jessica is my BFF from my hometown and we were celebrating her birthday tonight. The best gifts are shared experiences and creating memories together. Thanks for choosing a great way to celebrate wonderful you, Jess and including us!

If you’ve never done this before, there are organizations that bring friends together and provide all the supplies and a coach to help you be a master painter for the evening. Tonight we met up in Mountain View at a restaurant and painted a nature scene. There was music playing, food and drinks and a very funny instructor who helped us all leave our fears behind. It was fun to start with a blank canvas and to build on the different layers. I also enjoyed watching the other artists’ interpretations of the same idea and how different all of our pieces turned out. Everyone was so creative.

Life is Good!! Happy birthday, Jessica!! And many more. xoxo

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Friends

“If you have one close, trusted friend, you are truly fortunate.” – Rabbi Earl Grollman

At Chase’s funeral, there were probably over 500+ people there to bear witness and say goodbye. I wonder if he knew how many people truly loved him and were touched by his passing.  Seeing everyone there and watching their faces and expressions of love and grief, made me wish that there could have been an angel like Clarence from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to save Chase.  I wonder if he knew how fortunate he was and how many people truly loved him.

There were girlfriends, and wrestling friends, marine friends, and football friends, neighbor friends and family friends, teacher friends and coaching friends.  He and his family were surrounded by love and caring hearts that wanted to comfort his family and comfort one another.  I have faith in our youth. They/we expressed love and pain and shed tears and hugs and it was powerful to be part of the journey together.

Friends and family united to celebrate a dear, beloved, young one. People have been so kind and loving and generous and giving through so many different ways. We are connected through love and pain, joy and sorrow.  And people want to take care of each other to ease the pain and to help walk through the grief together.  Friends are an amazing gift.

“Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys”– Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869)

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I am thankful and fortunate for my family and friends, that comfort me and make this life journey a better experience every day.

I wish you peace and love and the gift of friendship that helps to carry the burdens of life.

Namaste.

“Those who bring sunshine to others, cannot keep it from themselves.” – Sir James Barrie