March 27, 2020

getting out...

 And into the forest I go,
to lose my mind and find my soul.
-John Muir

All of this staying home has been a growing experience. I have to say, I haven't minded it a much at all. Between conference calls and texting, I even feel like I have been in constant communication with my people. Our Zoo Crew texts up a storm, and the laughter brings us together when we have to stay away. This morning one coworker sent an email with his list of good mornings as if he were walking into the office and greeting each of us.

While working from home I have fit small projects {and naps} into my lunch hour... and tried to be productive during my commute time. It is as if I have won back two hours of my day, and I don't want to waste them or take those extra minutes for granted. I could get used to this...

And when afternoon comes, I escape the walls for the trails...
The sun warms me while the air refreshes my soul. And walking along, the sights entice me to look closer, pay attention, fall in love with God's creations over and over again.

March 25, 2020

some light advice...

The other day, my friend posted a few pictures from one of my favorite spots, and they spoke to my soul... so much so that I made a trip to one of her favorite spots so we could share and share alike. I love that our favorite spots are the same, though she lives there, and I am here... and we can be transported, along with all of our memories, with just a glance. That lighthouse... it brings me joy. She stands tall in the storm, and is beautiful, no matter the season.

Advice from a Lighthouse
-Stand Tall.
-Be shore of yourself.
-Look on the bright side.
-Weather life's storms.
-Stay Alert.
-Set a shining example.
-It's OK to be a little flashy.

-Your True Nature


March 24, 2020

the photo...

After a million years {...or maybe twelve} I changed that picture of me over to the right. I'm not sure it is staying, as I do love that shot of my smiling eyes, but for now... it brings a sweet memory to my heart and mind.
: :
Did you ever have $50 burning a hole in your pocket? This fall, due to an airline change, we each had these vouchers. Fifty dollars is not much when you'd like to get away, but I decided to play in the search anyway... and you know what? It was only $45 to fly to Chicago... and only $25 to get back home. Was a weekend in Chicago with a forever friend worth $50? Absolutely. And so... we went.

I love the decadent feeling of a weekend trip... the Friday afternoon quick change, from work to play, and the celebratory cheers while you wait to board. And on this December Friday, our destination was winter. Would there be snow? Probably not. But it didn't make a difference to me because it had been too long since I laughed, in person, with Amy. The plane arrived early and by 9pm Amy was whisking us away from the curb towards our weekend adventure.

We didn't really have grand plans, just one must-do and a few that sounds fun. It was mostly the being away and the being together. We explored the ChristkindlMarket, deserted the crowds for tacos, and admired the holiday windows. Back in her neighborhood there was this little store that beckoned me in... markers and pens might be my love language.

My hands were toting a few treasures around the shop when I noticed the snow start to fall. My squeal of joy led to Eric's warning don't run out of the store with that stuff and so I dropped it all into his hands and bee-lined for the door. 

Two minutes. That's all there was.
Sometimes you really need to just grab the moment and dance in the joy of it, and I'm so glad I did...

February 24, 2020

life lately...late.

Last week was busy... well, work was busy, which exhausted me. After work I was just busy recovering. I started this post, but never got back to it. Some weeks are like that...
1. A walk on the trail... I'm always looking for the red lichen!

2. Eric & my sister... enjoying food from our favorite food truck {Sweet Cheesus} at Zoobilee.
I had a bite, but that was long enough to be off the dance floor. 

3. This lavender trumpet, complete with a heart shaped leaf, caught my eye as I walked by.

4. Stained glass lights on the carpet... one of my favorite things. 

5. I finally have a few more pictures of Laura...this one really makes me smile.
Outdoors, in her element, new city behind her. 

6. I talked Eric into going to a soft opening of this new place.
He grumbled about how it would be crowded and we'd have to wait and... on and on.
He couldn't resist me though, so we went and... the wait was an hour.
Lucky him, he is married to a star bar stool sighter! We were eating in no time!

7. February wine tasting. Wine is better than bowling...

8. Clearance Valentine candy - I wish I could resist, but on this day I could not.

9. Another trip to the farm to pick strawberries and sunflowers. 

So there we go... another quick catch-up on this life I love.

February 19, 2020

from miles away...

I saw it and smiled. Polar bear. Bubbles. Immediately my thoughts went to Laura...
The next steps? Screenshot. Save. Send.
from zoo_aquariums instagram feed. seneca park zoo.
My phone is full of screenshots... quotes, photos, SnapChats, any social media my children pop up on. Sometimes it seems the only way to capture them at this hard stage of young adult life. I save them with intention. To print, to compile...create. It's been a while since I created a photo album of memories, but maybe one day soon. I crave the finished product, but I always seem to have a mess to clean up before I can begin. One day...

Laura replies, and my heart... it skips a beat. I count thanks, and I ache.
Oh, that's so cute. Haha. I needed that. She went on to share a little frustration of her day.
Her new life fills me with joy, but in these moments I want to be within her reach. To ease her heart, to bolster her spirits, to reassure. To squeeze her hand from miles away.

February 18, 2020

the weekends...

Some weekends leave you rested, and other leave you breathless... and honestly, I don't know which I love better.

A quiet Friday night can ooze into a Saturday, where I find myself stretched out on the couch arguing with the day. The sunshine and blue sky call me to play, but there seems to be nothing I want more that to sit in the stillness, and enjoy the view of the beauty. Basking in the warm light, letting the cool breeze waft in seems not a waste at all. My hands may pick up a book or a discarded project, the laundry spins, a sappy t.v. movie calls to us... and maybe we trek down the road for a walk in the woods.
Sunday morning pancakes and a trip to the store, with a little more lazy afternoon rest. Sometimes just us is all we need, and tucking ourselves away from the world feels just right. Monday comes and we are rested, centered for the week.

Last weekend? Breathless.



The clock couldn't find its way to quitting time fast enough, and before six, we had made a wardrobe change and a quick turn around, back out the door, for a party under the lights and stars. What a night! Family and friends. Food and drink. Dancing and lights and fun... all in one of our most favorite places. Saturday afternoon we said yes to a last minute invitation to basketball and an afternoon with friends, because...why not? We knew by the time we were home, we'd still have an hour or so before making good on on our long overdue (three years?) bowling date! We laughed into the night, knowing a bowling league wasn't for us after all - we're much better at wine club. Of course, Sunday afternoon finds us pressing to get ready for the new week, accomplishing all that tasks we had set side to make room for play... but all the while, the happy glow of the days before lingers loud. Monday comes, and we are still reveling in the fun of the weekend.

Breathless or rested? Somehow I think each speaks its own to a life well lived.

February 17, 2020

a little nostalgia...

live in the sunshine.

swim in the sea.

drink in the wild air. 

-emerson

February 10, 2020

my cathedral...

Perhaps most moms-to-be hope for one of each... a girl and a boy. But, I had such vivid memories of my childhood best friend and her brother fighting, fists and teeth and loud words, that I was scared of that dream. I thought that was the way it was, would be. And then... here I was, with a baby brother for my little girl. I knew that I didn't want what I already knew of brother/sister relationships, and somehow in that, God helped me create something beyond my wildest dreams.

A couple of weeks ago my sister re-posted a monologue by Nicole Johnson, The Invisible Woman. I have seen her perform it a few times, and I believe she has written a book about it. Re-reading the words brings me right back... to the days when so much was asked of me, and I felt overwhelmed and under-qualified. The days I felt I wasn't included because I was a Mom... with kids who would need to tag along. All the times when I just couldn't answer one more question, or feel one more touch. Motherhood can be wonderful and terrible all at once.

But these two have brought me more joy that I could have known. God showed grace upon grace through the seasons of bickering, and now, as I have said time and time again, their chatter is my favorite thing. When they would be getting ready for school, in the backseat, on the phone... I am so thankful that they will always have the other - to talk with, to be championed by, to laugh with, to hold each other up. They are silly, and quirky, and two halves of my heart. If I have done nothing else right, there is this...

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re
doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel,
not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the
world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.” -Nicole Johnson

February 07, 2020

being light...

Never would I have thought how much I would enjoy sharing an office with someone... but I do love it. I'm sure it has all to do with who she is. We chat and we laugh, we get our work done, and then we might laugh a little more... and sometimes we share hearts. The other day she told me that she was telling her husband how nice I was, genuinely nice, and how she has always wanted to be that. Humbled by her statement, I let her know that she is, because she has a really kind, beautiful heart! But then she went on to relate it to being a Christian. Now that has made me think...

While I certainly don't believe that Christians have a monopoly on kindness or being nice, I do think, for me, my faith is who I am and it directs my heart towards kindness, and making someone's day a little bit brighter if I can. People pleaser? Yes. Once it was out of fear of not being liked, but now? I take these statements to heart...
You may be the only Jesus someone sees today.
and
Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. - Mother Teresa 

Later, the topic came up in conversation with someone else. Though I know that the words and joy that flow from me are genuine, I wondered... do people feel the truth in me? My breath caught as I waited on her reply, but there wasn't a need. She spoke what I hoped to hear, and went on to qualify it and reinforce it. Exhale.

Live your truth, let your joy shine in the skip of your step, the smile on your face {or in your eyes}, and your actions. Live out loud... because you really might be the only glimpse of Jesus in someone's day, and I think it is the easiest, most beautiful way, to share the Good News.

February 05, 2020

the playlist...

We sit, and I wait for him to choose a show. Oh look what's on again?! I just laugh... because he has faithfully chosen this pilot episode of Zoe's Extraordinary Playlist every time he scrolls through. There is something about it that connected with his heart... so much so that it has played five or six times on our t.v., as he impatiently waits for the series to begin {Feb. 16th} Maybe it's the flash mob dancing, or perhaps just the music...
: :
Bumping along the winding, dusty roads of Africa, songs popped into my head and became a part of my day, and a lasting addition to my memories. My African playlist. I have carried it home, in my heart...

Sun's coming up... 
This bird squwaked his good morning song while we admired our first sunrise of the safari. Good morning Amboseli National Park.

I wonder where the lions are...
With rumor of lions, we circled 'round and back... stared, and tried to make clumps of golden grass into the sight we sought. We never did see any that first morning, but later in the trip we were reward plenty!
 There are places I remember...
Eight years and a world apart, and the memories of my heart didn't betray me. On that first trip, I made a desperate effort to imprint this place in my mind. I could feel the familiarity of a road, a river, a tree... it was a feeling of relief, that my memories were not just a dream.
I saw the sign...
I probably did not capture all the signs I wanted to, traveling quickly over bumpy roads. But these...they made me smile.
 

Walkin' along singin' a song...
The wildlife meanders through the trees, along the plains. Coming up towards the start of the migration, zebra & wildebeest were headed to the rivers. In Tarangire, the elephants headed to the water...

Gary Gnu coming right at you...
Did you ever watch the New Zoo Revue? It was one of my favorites... Henrietta Hippo, Freddie the Frog... and Gary Gnu {who, of course, did the news...} I could watch the wildebeest all day. While we didn't witness THE migration, we saw the early stages, which was so special to me!

Here comes the sun...
Sunrise in Africa? As beautiful as any sunrise or sunset over the ocean. The colors of the earth come alive right before your eyes.

Just around the riverbend...

Same river, different bend. When we returned to camp in the evening, we chased the sunset, and the baboons played in the shallows.

Hills and vallies...
Up and down, over head and along the rim. This part of the world is so magnificent... and God is Lord of all. 
 

February 04, 2020

this season...

Perhaps more than ever before, I feel myself beginning to bloom. I feel good in my skin, and am proud of the accomplishments I am making. Am I where I want to be? I'm getting there. It may not be as quickly as I want it to be, but I remind myself that the lessons don't come easy, and the longer I press the habits into my mind, the better chance I have at sticking by them. I have miles to go, but feel confident in my ability to continue the journey and make it my own.
And so the blooming? It is a joy that exudes and convinces me to start a conversation without fear, or dance in a crowd without caring if someone is watching. It is loud laughter and a funny comment, or sharing a bit of life-lived advice, offering my heart. It is stepping out of my shadow, and feeling like I belong.

This is the season she will make beautiful things.
Not perfect things,but honest things
that speak to who she is and who she is called to be.

-Morgan Harper Nichols

February 03, 2020

up close...

I swoop my hair to the left as I lean in to the mirror, assessing the smudged liner at the corners of my eyes. Up this close, I see the light catch the silver strands that hide among the chestnut, and I wonder for the umpteenth time if I should do something about them. There aren't too many, but just a few months ago someone gave me a genuine compliment on my highlights. No, that's just my 48 years making their presence known. Once again, I decide to let it go and steer the concentration back to the ever-smudge of dark liner framing my eyes.

Once upon a time, a friend began to refer to me as the girl with the smiling eyes. How I love that! and wonder, do they still smile? Staring into the depths of flecked green, I crinkle up my eyes, and the reflection does, indeed, smile back. I believe it is the result of select wisdom, shared during my youth, by people I have admired...words that stuck in my soul and wrapped around my heart.

You shouldn't need a smile on your face for people to know you are happy... this is from my Mom, spoken as we trudged our way through knee deep snow, homeward bound from our walk to North Scituate on a snow day. I remember the fun of the walk, the chill, and visiting the yarn store {was it the only thing open?} and her voice sharing this bit of wisdom.

Your eyes are the windows to your soul, my dear...spoken in US History class by a favorite teacher. I had not done my reading, and he knew it. Though he said it with a smile, and a twinkle in his eye, he know that I understood, and I certainly realized that these eyes of mine are a dead give away.

And so my eyes tell the tale of today...
I am content.
I am joyful and joy-filled.
I am ready for adventure... even if it just a walk around the block.
I am here for you.
I am...

January 30, 2020

tale as old as time...

I love a handmade gift, and this new one has joined the other heirlooms that hang on the branches of our family tree. This is Laura's first attempt at wood burning and I love the result. She knows our love story, and I think it is beautiful that she celebrates it. 
: :
This summer, twenty-seven years after our wedding dance, he spun me in his arms again to Beauty and the Beast... this time under the stunning chandelier in the Grand Floridian Hotel. We were one monorail stop away from his 50th birthday dinner, just sipping on an icy beverage, enjoying the jazz band play when we heard those first few notes of our song. He knew he couldn't refuse...
The atrium of the Grand Floridian is beyond lovely, the way the way the ceiling almost touches the sky, and the railings run the edges like lace. It feels as magical as Cinderella's Castle, and each exquisite detail feels like a dream. Of course, being in his arms is my dream... and I'm wide awake.

January 29, 2020

life lately...

The words having been coming and going over the last few weeks. They swirl up in my mind and start to form a story, and my procrastination sends them packing. For someone who has decided to make this year more creative, this brings a little disappointment in myself. But then the reminder comes... grace not perfection. And, of course, today is a new day.
1. Over the last couple of years whenever we see someone fishing, I tell Eric
I have never caught a fish!
Last October he bought me a little pink fishing rod, but we had no luck.
We decided to try again on a recent Saturday, and on my first cast,
that little pink fishing rod went flying right into the pond. Oops.
But then... I caught a fish! It was pretty exciting!
And now I need a new to find something new to "complain" about!

2. Laura had her 26th birthday mid-month, and though we were not together,
our gifts to her arrived on time! We were thrilled that she had a night out with friends,
and then treated herself to a day at a museum to see the Pixar exhibit she had been excited to see.
I'd post a better photo, but... this is all I have!

3. This month has had me stalling.
It seems the consensus is that January has been dragging on,
but for me, it has been blur. I finally had to make a plan
and get myself back on track to win the last ten days...
and so far I am definitely I AM! 

4. & 5. The weather has been glorious... cool days and warm sunshine!
We took a trip to our favorite farm and admired the sunflowers, and picked
three baskets of strawberries. Maybe we'll get another trip in while the berries are deep red.

6. Do you save your Christmas cards?
I cannot toss them... those precious photos are just a blink of time.
I'm almost done organizing them on metal rings
so I can flip through them from year to year.

7. My office mate is the best! What a welcome to the weekend!

8. Last year the Sunshine State steak cook-off lacked the sun and soaked us.
But this year there was no shortage of sun or steak or fun with friends!


9. We got a walk in last night... down safari road and to the boardwalk. 
It's never the same, but always beautiful... and typically just what I need.