Welcoming 2013

2012 was my most over-achieving year: Engagement, house buying, moving, leaving the apartment manager gig, cervical cancer, two surgeries, our wedding, Mexico honeymoon, hosting holidays in our new house. . . I think it’s safe to say that I’m ready for some calm.

My relationship with time has really shifted this year. I’ve spent hours turning into days in agony at its slow crawl and minutes turned to hours that whizzed by where all I wanted in the whole wide world was to hold onto the moment a little longer.  I’m turning 40 this year and the thought of it stirs both fear and excitement up inside me. I am so well aware that time is precious, that MY time is fleeting, and never before have I wanted to slow down and really enjoy it. No longer do I feel the rush to do, do, do but rather to sit peacefully in the life I’ve created and witness it mind, body, and soul.

Since 2007 I’ve set an intention for my new year and recapped goals I’ve set here on this blog. (Six years!) There was my year of acceptance, then gumption, of putting myself first, and then of letting go, of light, and last year’s openness. 2012′s intention was on target for what I ended up needing the most. I made myself open to love (getting engaged, planing a wedding, getting married, letting people show up for me in a scary time), to fear (finding out I had cervical cancer, subsequent surgeries, the possibility of never having a child with Mr. Darcy), and to joy (my wedding day was the happiest day of my life, finding out they removed all the cancer and we have the chance to try to have a baby, buying a house). There was a time when I was very closed off to happiness and 2012 showed me that I’ve opened myself and my heart up to feeling all the feelings.

It’s interesting to see myself getting older and how things that once were so important to me- like having New Year’s Eve plans or being at my thinnest or having a long list of goals to achieve- no longer feel like priority to me. I don’t need to be first, to be best, to be always striving for the top and the accolades. I don’t need everyone to like me or put on a brave face. I just need to be me- imperfect, flawed, unique. And being me, settling in and trusting ME, is work enough most days.

So what do I want to do with 2013 after a banner 2012?

The Intangibles

  • be present to my life
  • enjoy quiet
  • simplify
  • cultivate joyful togetherness
  • listen deeply, especially to myself
  • give myself permission to slow down
  • soften the hard angles inside me
  • exercise compassion and tenderness

The Tangibles:

  • the most important one that trumps all that follow: GET PREGNANT
  • road trip to California
  • spend a weekend at Doe Bay with friends
  • go snowshoeing
  • plant a herb garden (and try not to kill it)
  • read a book a month
  • host a semi-regular game night
  • celebrate my 40th birthday
  • meet with a financial planner
  • add walks to my exercise routine
  • continue making our house a home
  • spend a weekend at the ocean
  • learn to play an entire song on the guitar and post a video of me performing it
  • finally launch Jubilation (my event planning business)

My intention for 2013 is: EASE.

Sounds too easy, right? But it’s what I need to get better at. I’m really good at planning, doing, and achieving. I excel at being hard on myself, pushing myself to extremes, and avoiding appreciation, intimacy, and good feelings. I’d like my focus in 2013 to be on easing up on myself, on compassion, and softening. I’ve lived my life with rigidity and fear and it does not serve me anymore. So here’s to greeting 2013 and turning forty with grace and gratitude.

What are you hoping for in 2013- tangible or intangible?

Going on My Marry Way

I’m sitting here in my living room with light from the morning sun p ouring throughour big windows thinking about happiness.

Happiness has never come easy to me. Or if it did, it felt fleeting. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to Be! Happy! and mostly felt like a failure because I am unable to sustain the feeling. Does this mean I don’t love my life? Absolutely not. I just find it easier to not operate at that level. It feels way to tenuous and we all know how I like a plan.

But then I met Mr. Darcy and we’ve had all our ups and downs on our love journey, our engagement, buying our house, the cancer summer, and now in just a few days, our wedding, and I can say unequivocally that I have never been more content and happy with my life. It kind of unnerves me but in a really good way. It’s a new feeling, this feeling joy. Letting it stick around, allowing myself to trust it. I have struggled for so long to feel worthy of it.

The problem has never been the absence of happiness but rather the acceptance that I deserve happiness.

I’ve never been more excited about anything more than I am about marrying Mr. Darcy on Sunday. I shared my elation with you because I consider you my friends and even though I can’t invite all of you the wedding, having been here along this journey with me you have played a part in this happiness and for that I thank you. Your excitement at our union has been such a fun part of all of this.

I might not have time to blog again until after the wedding so I wanted to tell you thanks with heartfelt appreciation for your support. I’m about to dive headfirst into a whirlwind of activity, friends, family, laughter, togetherness, love, and, yes, joy. I’m choosing happy today and hopefully all the days that come after it.

I’m making my own happily ever after. Mark my words.

 

On Being Ready

When I was single, I used to curse my fate and wasted hours wondering why I couldn’t find someone to settle down with. For so many years I felt like not enough, an obvious outsider in the land of coupledom, the fifth wheel, that friend who was always going on dates but never really had a partner. But now that I am days away from marrying Mr. Darcy, almost three years into our relationship, I am glad it took me until I was 36 to find my Mr. Right and until I was 39 to get married.

You see, all that time I spent dating random guys (or as some would say “sowing my wild oats”), I learned a lot about myself, about relationships, and about love. So when I finally met Mr. Darcy, I was in a place where I was ready. I haven’t been bothered by any nagging regrets- did I live out my single days to their fullest? Why yes, yes I did. I have the stories to tell and the scars to prove it.

Every guy I dated before Mr. Darcy helped shape the woman I am today- for better or for worse- and I’m grateful for all of them, even the ones who broke my heart. Because in its breaking, I learned how resilient my heart is and it grew stronger every time. I have no regrets for the life I’ve led or the men I’ve shared it with. I even got lucky a few times and dated some really great guys who are now among my closest and best friends. In fact, three of them are coming to my wedding.

The other day as I walked through our old neighborhood, I kind of chuckled to myself. Six and a half years ago when I moved to Seattle, I wanted so desperately to fit into the scene there. The dirty emo hipsters with their tattoos and tight jeans and retro outfits, their late nights at bars and hangover breakfasts on Sundays. I wanted to be cool too. And maybe I was. Maybe I still am. But I realized then as I dodged smoking teens and street musicians and girls much younger, thinner, and hipper than I, that I’m so happy with my life. My suburban life with Mr. Darcy in a house we own, at jobs we like, surrounded by friends and family we love, the hope for a child alive inside of us, about to get married to one another. This is the dream I never thought would come true. It’s so much simpler than I ever thought and yet, more than I thought was possible for myself.

So many of you have been on this journey alongside me, reading my updates, and giving advice and support. It feels like forever ago and simultaneously like yesterday that I was lamenting my single life and my poor choices in men- so much so that my friends intervened with the Boyfriend Review Board. Remember that? Luckily Mr. Darcy (who was known as Bachelor #4 back then) passed with flying colors.

You guys? I’m getting married on Sunday. I can hardly believe this is happening to me.

Resounding

For any of you who have been reading me for a while, you know that Mark Nepo‘s writing has had a profound impact on me. All you have to do is search “Mark Nepo” on this blog and see the many, many posts where I reference his words.

Last night I got to meet him.

I don’t even know how to express how I feel except to say, my heart is full. I sat in the front row with my sister and took it all in. He read from his newest book, shared yet-to-be-published poems, and dialogued with the audience. He was just as I pictured him- bright eyes, easy smile, welcoming demeanor.

I brought my battered copy of The Book of Awakening to have him sign. When I got up to the table I put the tattered book in front of him saying, “here is my well-loved copy” and we both smiled. I told him that his work changed how I see the world and thanked him for that. We hugged. Maybe it went down differently than that but that’s how I recall it. It kind of scrambles the mind to meet your emotional guru.

Here’s a favorite poem of his for you:

Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can’t be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

39: A Sweet Celebration

Thanks to everyone for making my birthday so extra special. I felt the love pour in from all parts of the globe and even got sang to by more than five people!

My family took me out to breakfast and Finn was excited to show me his new yo-yo skills.


I love that kid. He even drew me a cupcake on a card and wrote his own name. Quit growing up so fast, buddy.

I love this kid with all I got.

I treated myself to a massage at this local place I love. Massages are $30 for an hour. Sure, you’re in a big room full of recliners while the flat screen silently flicks shows in another language. It hurts so good. Mr. Darcy calls this place “the kimchi fart place” because the one and only time I took him there he swears the guy massaging him farted and it smelled like kimchi. He claims he’s an expert in recognizing this odor because an old roommate used to eat buckets of kimchi.Needless to say, I go there alone or sometimes with girlfriends. I also got a mani/pedi because I like to spoil myself.

I capped the beautiful day off with a delicious meal with my love. The restaurant Mr. Darcy took me to was in walking distance of our apartment and had half priced bottles of wine on Wednesday so . . . we indulged. The kale salad was delicious and the chocolate, salted peanut ice cream sandwiches made my life. SO GOOD. There was a guy playing the piano at the restaurant, lots of jazz standards which are my favorite. At the end of the night as we were getting ready to leave he started playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and we danced in a tiny corner of the restaurant. And I know my grandma smiled down on us from heaven.

I was going to make a 40 Before 40 list but honestly? I don’t need a list to live my life to the fullest. I’m doing it already which blows my mind in a really good way. People keep saying that this is going to be “my year” and I get why since there is so much big stuff on the horizon. But, I feel more focused on how tremendously grateful I am that I am here, in this magical place, surrounded by love (including love for myself which was not something I could say 10 years ago). From the deep down reaches of my soul, I’m thankful.

Cheers to living out loud!

A Letter to Myself on my 39th Birthday

Dear Self,

Today you turn 39. Can you believe it?

As a child you thought that number sounded ancient. You figured by this age you’d be a mom, already owning a home and a mini van. You didn’t realize that you wouldn’t FEEL 39. You didn’t know you’d still think the 1990′s happened 10 years ago nor did you believe that time really does speed up as you age. You didn’t believe people when they told you to embrace your youth. You had no idea back then that when people would tell you today that you look ten years younger than your actual age, you’d relish in it. (Luckily, you listened to advice to moisturize and wear sunblock.)

This is your last year in your 30′s and it’s going to be a huge year- moving from the only Seattle neighborhood you’ve known, leaving the apartment management gig, launching Jubilation Wedding & Event Management, owning a house with and getting married to an amazing man.

Take a deep breath.

Take another.

What I want you to remember is that: you deserve this. Every single good thing? You are worthy of it. You’ve worked so hard to get to this place- please do not discount that as you are wont to do. You have immersed yourself in years of therapy to grow emotionally stronger, worked two jobs for 4 years to pay off your debt and save money, dated a lot of not-it’s to find IT. You still work every day on yourself and on your relationship. You are always working to better yourself.

You’re relentless like that.

So can you please explain why you still beat yourself up when it comes to you looks? I happened upon a folder full of old photos the other day. The pictures spanned from college days to current and in every one, no matter if you were bigger or smaller than you are right this minute, you were pretty. I think about how many years (a lifetime!) you’ve spent not feeling good enough because your body does not fit some societal perfectionistic ideal of beauty and it breaks my heart. All that time! For what?! So what if you wore a size 22 once? Or for that matter, a size 9? So what if you are chubby? HOW DOES THAT DIMINISH YOUR WORTH? Whomever taught you this lesson was wrong. So very, very wrong.

Remember when you turned 30 and you gave yourself the gift of quitting smoking? How that internal resolve and commitment came from a place of self-love? It was the Best. Gift. Ever. Until now. Because now, today, on your 39th birthday, you’re giving up the body hatred and the self-loathing and the not-feeling-good-enough because you are not thin. You’re not going to berate yourself into submission. You’re not going to starve yourself or eat your feelings or wallow in guilt and shame. You’re going to exercise because you like it and it’s good for your health. You’re going to eat well because it tastes good and fuels your body. You’re going to BE NICE TO YOUR BODY because it will keep you around for a long time and you have a lot of living to do, so much to look forward to.

I know there will be days that you will screw up but just remember that in this life where time is fleeting, there is so much more to give your energy and attention to. You deserve to be happy, to be free from this negativity, to put all that freed up mind space to better use.

Let it go.

You don’t have to carry it. All the hurtful things people have said to you over the years? Leave it in the past. It does not serve you. All the times you succumbed to peer pressure and let yourself feel inadequate? Forgive yourself. You did the best that you could at the time.

Happy birthday, beautiful. Go live out loud.

Love,

Me

Inked

Yesterday I gave myself a permanent reminder to be.

Be present.

Be authentically me.

What started out as a blank slate…

Turned into a this…

My first visible tattoo.

I love it.

Yes, it hurt but it wasn’t that bad and it only took like 12 minutes. Besides, I had my friend Meghan with me to distract me and photo-document. (Thanks M!) Suzy at Two Birds Tattoo is fantastic. If you’re a Seattle local, check them out!

I’m definitely getting another.

Whirlwind

You guys? I’m tired.

I have a good excuse though.

Friday, after getting my hair colored (adios grays!), I took Mr. Darcy out for dinner (his favorite, pizza) and then I made him drive because I’d had two vodka tonics (safety first!). On the way to our friend’s engagement party a familiar song came on the radio, one that I dance to in Nia class, and so I gave Mr. Darcy a car dance to which he claimed I was being “distracting”. My sweet moves distract all the boys while they drive (sang like that milkshake song). (Maybe I should film it for your entertainment? . . . Maybe not.) We arrived at the party a little bit late and wouldn’t you know it? A train was blocking our path from where we parked to the bar. So I said enthusiastically, “Let’s jump it!” Please keep in mind that the train was stopped. Go ahead and think us foolish if you must. Mr. Darcy went along with it and we grabbed the rails and hauled ourselves over. I was laughing the whole time and as I went to take my last step off the ladder, the train started moving. Phew! We just made it.

I hosted my book group on Saturday and got it into my head I would make two new dishes. This might have been do-able and not stress-inducing if I had not also been cleaning my house in preparation for their arrival AND my friend RaeRae was landing that very morning for a 3 day stay. Everything turned out delicious- my first-ever flourless chocolate cake (easy & scrumptious) and a yummy kale, artichoke, ricotta “pie” plus my newest obsession, roasted broccoli. I was happy to have my book group friends meet one of my best friends. Then it was pedicures with my mom and sister in early celebration of Mother’s Day and a visit to a local wine bar. Since we’d already started drinking wine earlier in the evening, RaeRae & I decided to just keep going and, oops!, by the end of the evening we’d polished off 2 bottles. (No wonder I am still so dehydrated.)

RaeRae & my Mom outside Bottlehouse, taking time to smell the flowers.

Sunday brought the sun so we took to the streets for a thrift store shopping spree where in we both scored some majorly cute stuff. I forced RaeRae to try on clothes she would not normally pick out- a top with some stripe action and a dress that wasn’t completely black and to the her ankles- and I think she saw the positives of A) trying on clothes to see how they FIT and B) going outside your comfort zone. It was the first weekend of the farmer’s market and my absolute favorite vendor was back- Patty Pan! They make the most delicious quesadilla’s with tons of veggies.

NOM! NOM! NOM!

Then we took off for Willow’s Lodge for a night of just us girls. We splurged a bit but it was worth it. We wanted to have girl time to unwind but not have to drive forever to feel like we were having a getaway. Willow’s Lodge is in the epicenter of a lot of local wineries and next door to Redhook Brewery. Any hotel that greets us with a glass of wine wins me over. Though, after all our wine drinking the night before we skipped wine tasting and stuck with other libations like a filthy Martini (her) and a White Russian (me). The White Russian was a post-dinner drink and it inspired me to don the cushy robe that came with the room and get all Lebowski.

Why are robes so unsexy? It's like a throw blanket meets a mumu.

The room was decadent with a deep, big tub that we both took turns soaking in and comfy beds and a fireplace. After dinner and tub soaking and cocktails, we zoned in front of the flat screen tv and by zoned I mean I fell asleep and left RaeRae alone to watch The Judds reality tv show. In the morning she proclaimed she was traumatized by it because their story is so damn sad and that Naomi is a piece of work. We went full on splurge and ordered room service which RaeRae had to handle because the ear plugs I was wearing were so powerful I slept through both my alarm and the knocking on the door. We milked every minute of that hotel room and left just before the check out time. Ahhh, girls getaways are so good.

I tried to take this at least 10 times. RaeRae is beautifully tall and I am pleasingly short which makes taking self-portraits together challenging.

We got home in time to pick up Mr. Darcy and join Kaply for a leisurely lunch at Poquitos, a new joint in our neighborhood that I will definitely be returning to. Then it was off to the airport for my dear friend and off to therapy for me. I came home after my appointment totally and completely frazzled and exhausted. I managed to eat cereal for dinner and watch “The Killing” and then fall asleep before 10pm. I loved spending quality time with one of my dearest friends. It does my heart good to be around her- someone that makes me laugh and gets me and vice-versa.

I think you will agree, we really sucked the marrow out of the weekend!

Nothing More Than Feelings

I am having too many feelings.

Maybe this is my normal level of feeling-ness but the difference is that I am actually feeling them. Like deep, a gut-punch of feeling. I blame therapy entirely.

I suppose this is the purpose of therapy (it is) and that I should feel some level of gratitude (I do) and yet I’m not sure how to BE. Does that make sense? I’ve lived my life at the precipice of certain feelings and now I’m in them. It’s all a bit much, frankly.

It’s probably odd to people who know me that I’m just now getting in touch with feeling my feelings. Especially because I spend 90% of my blog going on and on about my emotions. (Would we call that irony?) I’m entirely more comfortable talking about other people’s feelings than my own. Let’s talk about you! Let me take care of  you! I have lots of advice (that most of the time I won’t take for myself) (AHEM). I’ve used this blog (and before that, countless paper journals) to express in written form what is often hard for me to articulate out loud. I’m a process-y kind of person. I delve into the muck of my mind. What can I say, I relish in organization in all its forms.

It’s just that now instead of being in my head all the time, I’m in my feelings.

So when I am sitting on my therapist’s couch -the couple’s counselor, the one who has me do direct eye contact for upwards of 45 minutes at a time (hello! INTENSE!) and I’m talking and looking at her and she’s just there, just listening, just supporting, just staring straight at me. . . I am unnerved and yet, it opens me. It opens me to a place that is unfamiliar and scary and yet I want to dive deeper into it. I feel things acutely and if I look away, attempt to shift focus, lamely try to divert her attention, she sees.

It’s a powerful thing, being seen.

In my last session I felt like I had a positive revelation about myself. I walked out of the office feeling that I had a grip on who I am and, no small feat, I felt really good about that person. Even though when I talked about myself to her I was emphatic in my explanation of Who I Am as a person. I’m a good person. I am strong and intuitive and sensitive and funny and kind. I’m very loved.  I said all this with strong gestures, almost making fists and pounding the arm rest. Uh, who are you trying to convince? Oh right- me. I even was considering how to shift my blog and my persona of being this “neurotic is the new normal” type of girl. Because that person? I’m outgrowing her. I don’t want to play into that small version of myself. I’m tired of writing that story.

All this is to say that I’m making progress. Even when I write posts like yesterday where I admit to falling into a pit of despair and negativity. Even when I have a bad day. Especially when I let myself feel the feelings without distracting myself or worse, completely disconnecting to the point of numbing out. I’m rather adept at that.  You might never have noticed because I’ve been practicing my cover up techniques for many years. Or maybe you did? It’s well documented that I am a terrible liar.It’s quite possible I could have been deluding myself all this time.

Regardless of all that, the point is that I am getting somewhere. I’m not sure where. I’m not sure when. I’m not 100% enjoying it but it feels like the right path.

IT FEELS.

Yeah.

That.