Tag Archives: memories

Three Years Gone

20 Nov

Today is bittersweet for me. It’s the anniversary of my father’s death, which, 3 years later, is still a painful thing to think about. I know I’m not alone in this pain. My little sister and brother share in it just the same. I hope somewhere, some time, they get to read this and understand that I’m thinking of them and love them to pieces. Luckily, I have a very good reason to be very happy as well: my best friend gave birth to her first son, whom I call Bowser, on this same date two years ago. It’s a strange situation for me. I love Bowser, he’s one of the coolest semi-new humans ever. He gives me reason to smile today,but I miss my dad.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I really realized that even though I haven’t  been deliberately dwelling on the approaching anniversary, it still affects me. It’s painful to deal with, even though it’s not in my conscious thoughts. It’s interesting how depression can sneak its way into your life. Little by little, it puts a shadow over your existence. Before you know it, you’re in a hole. Sometimes that hole is so deep that the sky is nearly invisible. I want people to know that they’re not alone with this.

For this reason, I feel it appropriate to re-visit a post from way back. It’s one of my favorite posts because I believe depression is a topic that is easily brushed aside by many because they don’t understand, and obscured by those affected by it. It’s not something that we can recover from unless we face it. So, I’m shining a light on it once more. I hope it helps.

The following is from Tired of trying, sick of crying. I know I’ve been smiling, but inside I’m dying…

Depression isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It lurks in the darkness of our soul, eating away at our hearts, consuming our will to continue searching for happiness. It’s an invisible ailment that many experience, but few understand. For some, it’s a fast and dramatic response to an event such as the death of a loved one, or a major failure of some sort. But many times, depression has no clear cut cause; there’s no singular traumatic event that starts the seamless progression from disappointment to sadness to depression to hopelessness.  Sometimes, the advancement is so slow and subtle; it goes unrecognized by even the person experiencing it. And therein lies the problem. How can you tell someone that something is wrong, when you yourself don’t know or can’t explain what it is? I may be alone in my stubbornness, but I find it difficult to admit to someone, let alone to myself, that there IS something wrong when I don’t even know what IT is. How am I supposed to ask for help, when I don’t even know what I need?

What we need to do is talk. We need to identify and admit the fact that depression is not only a mental problem. It is a condition that reaches far beyond just being sad. It can affect your appearance, drain you of energy, kill your appetite, and kill your social life, among many other things. If we just continue to hide or ignore that depression is a physical condition as much as a mental one, we’ll just continue to sink lower and lower. We also need to stop surrounding ourselves with people that only add to the sickness. We all know drama mongers. They peddle their crazy to anyone and everyone that will listen. I’m here to tell you, when crazy comes knocking, you don’t have to answer the door.

Depression never affected me as a child or teen. So you can imagine my surprise and serious denial when it hit me in adulthood. Come to find out, I have a predisposition to suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts/tendencies. My mother attempted to end her life as a teenager. My cousin committed suicide when I was in high school. My paternal grandmother committed suicide when my father was a teenager. I have done some research and have found that my Austrian/German decent makes me more likely to make an attempt on my life. For some reason, people from these countries have a high rate of suicide and depression. It’d be easy to look at the statistics and family history and use it as an excuse. I could put the blame on genetics. Who in the world would argue with science and facts?

The problem with accepting that you have a predilection, especially a biological one, for something, is that we often use that as an excuse for giving into it. We let go of our power to the thought that we are destined to be this or suffer from that. Instead of telling ourselves, “yes, I am more susceptible to (insert condition here), but I have the power to avoid it”, we tell ourselves “I am more susceptible to (insert condition here); I don’t have any control in it”. We give the blame away to our genetics (or whatever variable) and in doing so, we give away our power to make real and positive changes in our lives. It’s this negative thinking that perpetuates depression, not our genes. If you think you’re worthless, then guess what? Perception is reality. The amazing thing is that you have the ability to change your perception, and in turn, change reality.

Here comes story time. I’ve talked a little about my father’s death; I think I’ve even mentioned the death of my grandma. But, to illustrate my point a little better, I’m going to tell you the whole story…the big points, anyway….

I met my ex a week before I turned 19. We were married two and a half years later. Even though I was young, I gave it everything I had, and then a little more. But getting little in return, I started to give up. I’d been unhappy for a very long time, and I was tired of being used, tired of being lied to, and tired of waiting. I blamed my husband for the way I felt. I resented him for everything I gave up to support his goals and dreams. I felt worthless because nothing I did for him was ever enough for him to value me as I once thought I’d deserved. Despite the way I felt about the way my marriage was going, we decided at one point that we were going to try to start a family. Wanting to be sure I was healthy enough for a pregnancy, I consulted my doctors. My rheumatologist cautioned me against it, saying that even if the inflammation in my feet from my rheumatoid arthritis was under control (at this point, it was not); I would almost certainly spend at least my third trimester on bed rest. I was 25 years old, and my doctor was telling me I shouldn’t try to have kids? I’m 25 years old; I should be able to get knocked up without the “ok” from a doctor…right?

Already unhappy with where my life was at the time, I received a phone call that would put me over the edge. I left for work one morning, and on the drive, I got a phone call from my supervisor’s boss telling me I was to report to him before I began my shift. My heart sank. I knew this was bad news, I thought I’d be fired, though I had no idea for what. I stood at his desk and he informed me I was being put on administrative leave and ordered me to surrender my badge. On my drive home that morning, my thoughts raced. I had decided that when I arrived home, I was going to take every pill in my bottle of Vicodin, and anything else I had. I got home, went upstairs, grabbed the bottle and popped the first pill in my mouth. I tried to swallow it. I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t go down. This was the beginning of what my ex and most everyone else would see as my decline. The truth is, all those little things with my marriage, the lies, the resentment, my health…that was the real beginning, but it was invisible. It wasn’t even until about a year or two before this incident that I had even noticed it myself.

The sad part about that first pill is that not being able to swallow it had very little, if anything, to do with how I valued my life. I never thought, “I can’t do this because I have so much to live for, so many things I still want to do.” As I tried to swallow that pill, I thought about my parents, the tears, them thinking that they failed at something because they weren’t able to save me. I thought about my nieces. I thought about being thought of as too weak to handle what God was dishing out to me. I even thought about my poor pup. I didn’t want to hurt the people I loved. I told my ex what had happened, and asked him to take all my medications and hide them from me. I called my doctor and got an appointment with a shrink who referred me to a program that literally saved my life.

Because of my suicidal thoughts and my attempt, though failed, my only choices were being committed to a mental facility or the Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP. I chose IOP. Though I am not and never have been an advocate for “group therapy”, I have to say, it worked. After two weeks of talking about the things I’ve been through, how I feel, listening to others, discovering that although the causes of what brought us all to that room were very different, we were all feeling very similarly. I learned that I am not something that is broken and needs fixing. I learned some very important coping skills and started to re-learn simple truths about myself that would ultimately hold the pieces of my heart together when I thought it would fall apart.

The next couple months brought my grand mother’s decline. She was constantly in and out of the hospital. My family, especially my aunt, who was my grandma’s primary caretaker, struggled with the burden of dealing with the impending loss and the day to day wear that caring for stricken loved ones brings about. Finally, we had a family meeting with the doctors who informed us of our choices. My aunt was not ready to let go. She wanted to believe that her mother wanted to keep fighting. Eventually, we all agreed that she should be put on home hospice care.

The night my grandma died, I went out with my cousins. I got drunker than I’d ever been, at that point. I fell apart. I’d never cried harder or for such a long time. Her funeral was the most beautiful service I’d ever been to. (I’ve been to quite a few) She was buried next to my grandpa, who’d passed away a few years earlier. At the graveside service, someone had booked a mariachi band to play songs that my grandpa used to sing to his wife. It was amazing.

The next day, my phone rang. It was my dad, and he was telling me that he has cancer. Stage 4 cancer to boot. For those who aren’t familiar with cancer, stage 4 means that the cancer is very advanced and has metastasized to other organ(s). In the subsequent months, I flew back and forth from my home in southern California to northern Washington, when my father lived. In the midst of this, I was ultimately fired from my job. Meanwhile, I helped re-model the house, I cooked, I cleaned, I took my father to many of his appointments. He had a prognosis of 2 years. The cancer took him in 3 months.

Two weeks before he died, I decided to make a book for my dad. I wanted to have him write down stories about himself, about growing up, about life. I had so many questions to ask him. I worked hard on that book, trying to make it perfect. Unfortunately, by the time I was done with it, he was no longer speaking, and barely moving. I ended up with a very beautiful, but very empty book.

If you’ve noticed anything in my posts, you’ve probably noticed my propensity to relating my life to music. Today is no different. As it turns out, there is a line from a Social Distortion song that is cold hard fact. Mike Ness sings, “Reach for the sky ’cause tomorrow may never come” (By the way, that song is called Reach for the Sky.) I decided that this empty book was not going to be the story of my life.  Losing my father so quickly prompted me (after a great deal of wallowing in grief and self-pity) to evaluate my life and the way I was living it.

The fact is that it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to put the blame for our disappointments and misery on everything and everyone around us. What’s not easy is taking a look in the mirror and realize that we are the only thing standing between us and bliss. It’s not easy taking responsibility for our unhappiness and depression. The way I felt about my life and my marriage was no one’s fault but my own. As soon as I took ownership of that fact, I got my power back.  I decided that I can’t wait for happiness. It’s not just going to walk up to me one day on the street. I have to actively seek it. My book will not be blank, it’s going to be filled with all the awesome things I am going to do, all the adventures I’m going to take on. I’ve been doing all the things that made me who I am. I’ve been doing all the things that make me happy, all the way down to my shoes.

I also began to understand that everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason. If I had not been married to my ex, I would not have come to understand how little I actually loved myself. If I had not ended up with rheumatoid arthritis, I probably would have ended up with children with a man that I did not love, a man who didn’t truly love me. My suicide attempt led to me getting the help I really needed. If I hadn’t gone though the Intensive Outpatient Program, I wouldn’t have learned the tools that would later keep me from spinning out of control with the subsequent tragedies of losing my grandmother and my father. If I hadn’t been put on administrative leave, I would not have been able to spend so much time with my father before he passed away. If my father hadn’t been taken so swiftly, I probably would not have had the courage to finally take my life into my own hands. I would have continued being miserable, and blaming my ex for it. Like I said, perception is reality. My reality is a happy one, because I perceive it to be.

While I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time, I still continue to struggle with depression. I’m not going to lie. There are days that I feel just like vanilla ice cream: white, plain, nothing special. But then, I Googled vanilla, and I learned that vanilla is actually one of the most complex flavors on the planet (another scientific fact). So, while I may just be feeling like vanilla, I am actually quite special. This gives me hope that though I’ve been battered by storms, I’m not quite destroyed. Little by little, I begin to strengthen and bloom again.

Happeh Happeh Happeh (Issue No. 1)

10 Sep

The purpose of todays post and pretty much all my posts is to get you thinking. I want you to think about your life: the way you’re living it and what you’re doing to pursue happiness. Are the choices you’re making made because they will result in happiness or are they made out of convenience? It’s easy to keep your head down and move forward without any real scrutiny. It’s certainly easier to cope with unhappiness or lack of fulfillment when you’re not thinking about it. Wake up!  It’s time to take control of the wheel, my friends. Sure, sometimes heading out on a road trip without a map is exciting. It’s called adventure. But even a spontaneous trip starts with a general idea of what you wanna see or what you wanna do. There’s a general theme driving the adventure, be it the beach, national parks, or who can find the most bizarre landmark. The general theme driving your life should be happiness. Going through life complacent, not considering where you’re headed or what you’re after is the fastest way to wake up at (insert age here) with a slew of regrets. You need to think. Incidently, it’s the whole purpose behind being blessed with the capacity to reason.

Speaking of reasoning, have you ever stopped and taken inventory of what brings you happiness? If you haven’t, I highly suggest that you do, and do it often. The things that bring happiness change regularly, just like everything else in life. Sometimes a long weekend partying with good friends is what makes your heart smile. Other times, it’s the satisfaction of finally finishing that painting that you started in high school that you’ve been meaning to get to for a dozen or so years that does it for you. If you’re not constantly considering what makes you happy, you’ll miss those changes and find yourself chasing hollow dreams, winding up unfulfilled.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: if you don’t like something in your life, change it. Sure, that’s a simplified statement, and certainly easier said than done, but at the same time, it is literally that simple. It’s a matter of thinking about your  life and the situation situation you find yourself in and deciding it’s not what you want. You need to embrace the fact that your happiness is in your own hands, and is often just a decision (albeit sometimes a difficult decision) away.

To illustrate this point, I’ll use myself as opposed to embarrassing someone I know or lying to you good people by making up a fake story. I was the same person from just before I turned 19 until our divorce at age 27. The idea of having children with him terrified me. Buying a home with him terrified me. A normal person would say to them self “hey self, these events are pretty fundamental to marriage, if they scare you, maybe this isn’t the person for you”.  I didn’t trust my instincts about the lies or the cheating. I continued on unhappy, my anger and resentment mounting for years. I blamed him for the way I felt. I really felt, down to my shoes, that he was the sole person to blame. And he was to blame. To do the kinds of things he did while we were together is unacceptable without a doubt. But who’s the girl with two thumbs and stuck around through it all? That’s right, this girl. Ultimately, I was the only one that can be held to answer for my profound unhappiness. I was lost. I had given so much to support his dreams that I forgot who I was as an individual. I turned my back on the things that truly brought happiness to my life and lost myself. In my defense, and I feel like this is a big obstacle for many people which is why I’m airing out this laundry, a divorce would mean my life would be changed so completely, it’d be unrecognizable. We’d have to figure out what to do with all our stuff, the house would need to be disposed of, I’d have to get a new job, and probably give up my medical benefits (which, with RA, is beyond a huge deal) because we worked at the same place, not to mention climatize myself to a single  (and much smaller income). I am happy to report that though I was lost, now I am found. Mind you, it took some catastrophically major events to open my eyes. It was one of the scariest decisions I ever made, but big pay offs rarely come easily.

My intent is to open your eyes. Don’t let it come down to a life altering or tragic event that finally wakes you up and makes you realize that happiness cannot wait. It will not. It’ll pass you by like all those cactuses  on the drive to Vegas. No one can stop the car but you.

WRECK IT WEDNESDAY!!! (Issue No. 8)

27 Feb

Welcome, welcome, welcome! Here we are again, my friends, another Wreck it Wednesday. I figure the little traditions that I began not so long ago here on this blog need to be resuscitated. So here I am, attempting to breathe new life into Wednesdays.

In case you lovely people need a refresher on what a Wreck is. A Wreck is when we chat about ways to turn your life upside down. Shake up all those ideas you have about how you’re supposed to live, how you’re supposed to look at the world. Society seems to have rules for everything. But there’s not one person on this planet that should tell you how to live your life. You do not have any obligation to live up to anyone’s expectations or ideals.

Sure, it’d be nice to stroll into Lowes or Home Depot and pick up all the things your heart desires to make your home into that image of perfection from all those magazines and websites you’ve been pouring over. But who has the money these days? An even better question is this: Why in the hell would you want to make your space into an image out of someone else’s imagination?

My best friend wanted a fire pit to add to her new backyard addition. Incidentally, she also wanted the brick planter dismantled. So here’s what I did…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some used/recycled bricks, cheap wood, a few cinder blocks, some spray paint and a little acrylic craft paint…and there you go. A fully functional and entirely customized fire pit, complete with benches. It absolutely doesn’t line up with all those beautiful images I always see on Pinterest and on the magazine racks. Nevertheless, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Besides, those words painted on the benches pretty much describe the whole reason the fire pit was wanted anyway. To inspire relationships, life, love, faith, happiness and laughter.

That’s what it’s all about, kids. Hope you enjoyed today’s Wreck.

MAKIN’ IT MONDAYS (Issue 3)

25 Feb

Call me a Pinterest addict, that’s fine. It’s true I’m sure. But I’d like to think that I’m more than just a gawker. I don’t see myself as someone who sees a bunch of really cool ideas and doesn’t do anything with them. I also would like to think that I don’t just snake other people’s ideas to take credit for it. No. My creations become a sort of amalgamation of many sources of inspiration: Pinterest, my environment, needs, wants, materials on hand, etc.

Having said that, a lot of the things I make are simply born out of wanting or needing something, but not having the money it would cost to buy it myself. I find myself out at stores sometimes, looking at cool furniture or decor…whatever, and I think to myself, “Why would I pay (insert stupid amount of money here) when this is totally something I can make?” I don’t know if this makes me weird or what, but it’s the way I think. Sue me.

Regardless this Makin’ it Monday is indeed one of those projects born out of not being  willing to pay a bunch of money for something that I could build myself. And besides, this was something my best friend had been wanting for a long time…so we made like a pair of Nikes and just did it.

Here are the supplies, minus the paint, but you get the picture. (Hahaha, see what I did there?) The pallets were free. The sander, the paint brushes and the paint were things we already had laying around. I’m not sure if this makes us weirdo, but whatever.

P.S. I highly recommend that if you’re building something out of pallets and you’re planning on sitting on it….sand first.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to buy a bunch of crap to make you happy. Yes, we spent a little money on this project, I’m not gonna lie. But there’s really no comparison to what we could have spent. And on top of that, every time we sit on it, we always remember the very first time we tried it out: No one was really sure if our craftsmanship was good enough for grown humans to sit on it and not end up on the ground; or worse, end up bringing down the entire frame of the deck we attached it to. It was a blast, and created memories. That’s priceless in my Kelly Blue Book of Life.

There it is. A porch swing out of 2 pallets for the price of some chain, “I” hooks and screws, and a few cushions. Not a bad little Saturday project, I think.

WRECK IT WEDNESDAY!!! (Issue No. 7)

10 Oct

I don’t have any children. A good friend of mine got knocked up and so we began discussing options for nursery decor. The usual came up: Baby Animals, Zoo, etc… I had an idea. Why spend money decorating a room that the baby will quickly out grow? The idea we all settled on was Super Mario Bros. We all love parkin’ our rears on the big comfy couch to play for hours. Sure, I suck big time at Mario Kart, but who cares?

Anyway, being the best friend, I set out to plan the shower. Unfortunately, planning a baby shower and nursery decor with a theme like this is not easy. Things are not, how you say, ready-made and on the shelf at your local Babies-R-Us.

No anything we found was a little too geared for much older children. But that didn’t stop us. Despite the challenge of basically creating everything custom by hand, we refused to be constrained by the meager, run-of-the mill standard offered by baby stores. We hopped right out of that box for this week’s Wreck!

Now, I’m not going to go through these photos and give detailed step by step instructions. That would defeat the purpose of this Wreck.  I want you all to be inspired to not be pigeonholed into a certain way of thinking. After all, that’s why we Wreck in the first place, right? Right. If you would like any information or tips on how these things were constructed and how you might be able to go about doing something similar, I would be very happy to guide you and answer any questions. Just leave me a comment at the end of this post.

THE BABY SHOWER:

The Invitations

I’d just like to add a couple small side notes on these invitations…First, aside from everything excluding the type is hand-made. The triangular shading on those hills were done in sharpie. For 35 invites. 7 lime green sharpies later….

Finally done.

The Shower Decor, etc.

Italian Cream Soda Bar. Genius. Really, if you ever have an Italian themed party, I highly suggest it.

Arts & Crafts time. I set up a table for the guests to decorate onesies. Onesies, puffy paint and iron-ons provided.

The result: Pure Gold.

THE NURSERY DECOR:

Two things here. My mommy made the bumper. She created that wonderful brick pattern and I love her for it. The quilt is my baby. fabric, ribbon and puffy paint (for the faces on the clouds).

I’d like to direct your attention to the bricks on the wall. My pregnant friend did a really great job!

As you can see from the center  of this mobile, it used to have a jungle animal theme. My friend purchased this on Craigslist and I went to work making the characters our of felt, floss and puffy paint…converting it into a SMB masterpiece. (I later switched out the picture for a Mario one)

Everything you see on the wall was hand-made by us.

She even added her own black-out curtains to match  the walls and quilt.

So you can see, with a little creativity and a whole lot of stubbornness, you can create the nursery you’ve always dreamed of. You don’t have to settle for what the stores have all picked out for you.

I sure hope that you enjoyed the Wreck, and I hope it sparks just a little bit of imagination in your life.

I Didn’t Even Have to Use My AK. I’d Have To Say It Was A Good Day…

19 Sep

I’ve been blessed with many many good days since I took a hiatus from this lovely blog. I’d like to say I’m sorry for neglecting you all, but honestly, I’m not. I’ve had some seriously good times this spring and summer, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Don’t believe that kind of fun is possible? Well, here are my last 5 1/2 months in photos, you can judge for yourself…

I finally got my new tattoo done. I designed this while my dad was going through chemo. 5 1/2 hours of work, and it’s not quite finished.

Had a delicious breakfast date….with the most delicious banana french toast, EVER.

Seriously, if you’re ever in San Diego you need to have this french toast at Perry’s Cafe. Trust me.

Dinner date that ended at my absolute favorite place for dessert….Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy  (San Diego). You have to try this place too if you’re ever in town.

Road tripped up to the Bay Area with my besties to see my little brother play LaCrosse in the Sonoma State Shootout. The Seattle Starz took the championship, and my brother even won his All Star game! He is an amazing person. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him. Can’t believe he’s only 14!

Since we were in the area…we swung by and saw the old Golden Gate for a bit.

It was pretty chilly out there by the Frisco Bay. Definitely should have brought sweatpants.

And since we were already that far north of home, we figured we’d spend a couple of days in Yosemite National Park. But not before passing by the windmill farms and taking a tour of the Jelly Belly factory.

Did you know that the blueberry Jelly Belly flavor was invented for President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981? True story.

Once we got to Yosemite, we did some hikin’ n swimmin’.  This place is seriously gorgeous. I wish this was what people thought of when they think of my beautiful state of California.


Takin’ a dip in the river was exactly what we needed after all that hiking. It was so relaxing and peaceful.

I flew out to Salt Lake City to meet up with my best friends. We really squeezed a lot of livin’ into that week and a half!

Rock climbing.

Dirtbiking.

Visited the Hogle Zoo. I’d never seen a Bald Eagle so close before, so beautiful.

Visited Cabela’s for the very first time. This place is so frickin’ cool if you love outdoorsy stuff, which I do. Guns, fishin’, campin, hikin, climbin’…it’s all here!!!

Visited Temple Square in Downtown Salt Lake. I’m not Mormon, but I think anyone can appreciate the beauty of this architecture.

We also did a little self tour of the state of Utah’s capital building.

Ta-dah!

I spent some time at the beach, skimmin’…trying to anyway.

Okay, I went to the beach a couple of times…

What can I say, I’m a California girl.

Even my pup likes the beach.

A lot.

Me and my friends spent a little time in Old Town San Diego to have the best Mexican breakfast around at Coyote Cantina (Chilaquiles with fresh handmade flour tortillas) aaaand did a little goofing around….

We are silly gooses.

I finally saw the Hoover Dam for the first time. What a sight! This new bridge they’ve built is impressive…and the heat out there was oppressive.

I moved out of my apartment….and after pitching a fit, I got my whole deposit back. Thank you.

Watched my Padres play his Astros at Petco Park.

Padres won. 🙂

I went to Big Bear and learned how to ski with my big sister and my little Chickin Nuggit. (That’s my niece’s nick name)

Took a day trip to Tijuana, Mexico with my mommy.

Couple of strawberry sodas, couple of beers…

And one of my all time favorite meals ever. Birria de Chivo. Basically a slow cooked dish made with goat. It sounds gross, and doesn’t look much more appetizing, but let me tell you, eating it makes my heart smile…especially with homemade corn tortillas and quesadillas.

Oh, and then there’s the paletas (Mexican popsicles)…those made our mouths smile too.

Speaking of hearts smiling, I got to see my other best friend tie the knot. It was a beautiful ceremony. I think this was the first time I actually cried at a wedding. I’m so happy for them both.

This is me and the newlyweds.

And me n my buddy Nick-o-Lah.

We celebrated my mommy’s birthday.

And I made some fabulous cupcakes for the occasion.

Thanks to my mommy, we got tickets to see Dwight Yoakam. We got a little crowd to do the electric slide with us when he played Faster than You. We had an amazing time!

Visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park…or I guess they’re calling it the Safari Park now. Either way, I’ve never seen such awesome views of lions, ever. We even got to see a cheetah do the 100 yard dash up close.

I finally got some really old film developed. This one was from Halloween a couple of years ago. Incidentally, I was a little concerned about developing this roll because I don’t remember a good chunk of that night…

Oh yeah…we moved to Texas.

I’ll probably write a little more about this particular event a bit later. For now, let’s just say it’s humid.

One thing I don’t have pictures of is my 10 year high school reunion. We made it back to California for that a week and a half ago, and it went much better than I was expecting. So that was good. Again, more on this later.

Last but not least….I’ve done some work for the next Makin’ It Monday. Here’s a sneak peak!!

I’ve been taking life one day at a time, trying my best to take advantage of every opportunity sent my way. I have to say, I’m fortunate for my friends, without them, most of these trips may not have been possible. I am also fortunate to have a hunger for adventure. Sure there are every day responsibilities to tend to. The bills need to be paid, the housework and laundry needs to be done, the pup must be fed, sure. But why did I spend so much time waiting around for the right time to take trips and little adventures? Why could I not see that tomorrow isn’t a better day to put a smile on my face? The answer is: I didn’t make it a priority. I wished for happiness and adventure and spontaneity, but did nothing about it…like it was just going to fall into my lap. Silly goose. If you want something, get after it! You get one life, that’s it. There’s no do-overs or rewind buttons. If you’re unhappy, then change something because you are the only thing standing between the life you live, and the life you want to live.

I didn’t write this post to brag about all the cool stuff that I got to do this past spring and summer. I’m writing this post to inspire you. There is a little bit of extraordinary in our every day lives, it’s a matter of how you look at it. I am writing this post to point out to you, my wonderful readers that a lot of living can be done without being a millionaire. Sure, it requires a bit more creativity and imagination…maybe even a bit of compromising. But it can be done. So stop sitting at home, blaming the fact that there’s too much laundry to do, or the dishes are dirty or the baby needs a bath to be able to go have a picnic or something. Just start living. It’s as simple as that.

PS If you’re the kind of person that can only be pleased with a first class flight to Paris and staying in a ritzy hotel, this post isn’t going to help you, sorry, Charlie.

Happy Birthday, W_lt_r…

18 Sep

You might be curious as to why I didn’t completely spell the name in the title of this post. Walter is my father. He was in the Navy for 20 years and when he’d write me a letter, he always signed it W_lt_r (Daddy). He left letters out because I wasn’t allowed to call him Walter, only Daddy. It was one of his little ways of being funny, I suppose. It always made me smile.

Today is my Daddy’s birthday. According to his initial prognosis, he should still be alive for me to make him German chocolate cupcakes.

Unfortunately, he’s not. Instead, I’m sitting in bed 1,500 miles away from home and his grave, thinking about how much I miss him. I’m thinking about how wonderful the last birthday we spent together was. I’m thinking about how badly I wish that I could have that day back.

Many days have passed since that last birthday. I’ve grown and learned a lot about life, and I’ve struggled with the sadness and depression that comes with loss and change. I’ve been striving every day to live my life in a way that would make him proud. Unfortunately, the way I celebrated his birthday last year would not have met that particular goal. I was by myself at a bar, falling to pieces. It’d been a long, long time since I had felt that alone.

I didn’t make him any cupcakes this year. I didn’t visit his grave to leave him a card and Fosters tall boy. I am home, away from home, but I don’t feel so alone. There won’t be any drinking tonight. Though there have been some tears and probably more to come, I am not falling apart today. I am grateful for that. I am thankful to have someone here who loves me, and does his best to  hold me together. Maybe it’s a gift from my Dad? A way to ease the moving on? I don’t know, but thank you either way.

Here’s to you Daddy. I hope you’re smiling down from Heaven on all the good changes I’ve made in my life. I miss you every day.

P.S. Tell Uncle Peter I say hi.

Daddy’s last birthday – 56 years old

WRECK IT WEDNESDAY!!! (Issue No. 6)

11 Apr

Welcome to Wreck It Wednesday! This is where I show you that breaking free of the way you used to look at things can free your spirit and open up all new possibilities. Today, we’re gonna talk letters. Not emails. Not text messages. Not skyping or leaving messages on Facebook walls. Hand-written, from the heart, letters.

No fancy paper...just a wire-bound book of notebook paper. It still makes me smile every time I read it.

Staring at a blank piece of paper may induce panic attacks in some, sure. But I know that amidst all of the junk mail and bills, we all secretly (or maybe not so secretly) adore getting real people mail. There’s nothing quite like seeing your name and address, hand-written across the front of an envelope. We inspect it and wonder what’s inside. It’s a wonderful experience. It tells us that someone cares about us and took a few minutes out of their busy day to let us know that we were on their mind.

It makes me infinitely sad to think that we don’t physically write much anymore. As a matter of fact, I know a lot of people who don’t know how to write or sign their name in cursive. The problem I see with all the technology we have going on these days, is that we’re always go go go. We need a faster, more efficient way of doing every imaginable task. The problem with all this multi-tasking, we miss a lot of details. Take writing an email for example. You have your account open, typing an email–but what’s that in the background on your desk top? Oh, your Facebook account is up, so is the website for your bank account, and who knows what else. A little bit of meaning is taken away when you don’t give tasks your full attention. Your friends and family deserve that attention, right? Well, get out that paper and your favorite writing implement so we can get started.

Remember in school, all the different ways we came up with to fold notes? ahhhh...the good ole days.

 Letters don’t need to be beautiful, well thought out prose to be  handed down through generations. They don’t need to be on nice stationary, or written in pen. They don’t even need to be letters at all. As a matter of fact, I regularly write notes here and there for various reasons, and sometimes no reason at all, other than to let someone know I’m thinking of them. I also regularly use markers, crayon and even stickers.

So now that you’re ready to begin, how do you begin? Well, how would you start a conversation with the person if you were speaking face to face? You can start your letter with: “So I was walking down the street the other day, and I saw a poster of a girl holding a puppy that reminded of you…” Heck, you don’t even have to write any words at all–draw a picture. Don’t worry so much about what you think a letter should look like. This is Wreck It Wednesday! A letter is supposed to look like whatever it ends up looking like when you’re done writing or drawing on the paper. Whoever you’re writing it for isn’t going to take a look at the letter and throw it back in your face because they find it unsatisfactory. (As a side note, if they do actually throw it back in your face, you should give serious consideration to removing that person from your list of friends.) They are going to feel happiness because you took a minute to let them know you took a little time out of your busy day for them. Stop letting the fear of not being “good enough” keep you from doing things.

These are letters that my daddy wrote me while he was on deployment. They were written in 1991, and I still have them. That's how much they mean to me.

This is my favorite letter. My daddy was a great artist, and was kinda goofy.

We put a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves.  We feel as though we have to behave a certain way or have or do certain things to be accepted, to give meaning to our lives. That’s hogwash. Be yourself and live your life mindfully without letting outside judgement hinder your happiness. That’s how you put meaning in your life. Dr. Seuss once said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” The man may have been crazy, but his words are fact. And incidentally, it’s why I started wrecking Wednesdays. Sure, my life may be a proverbial train wreck, but it’s mine and it makes me happy. Sure, people can’t take their eyes off it, but such is the life of a wreck. 🙂

I got ShamRocked…

22 Mar

I had the opportunity to attend Blake Shelton’s Well Lit and Amplified tour in Las Vegas on Saint Patrick’s Day. Wowzers! The show rocked my socks off. The line up? Dia Frampton (from the show The Voice) opening for Justin Moore and Blake Shelton. Here’s how it went down…

Walked from our room at Excalibur and made a…quick stop at the craps tables when we got to Mandalay Bay…

Okay, so it wasn’t a quick stop, but we’re in Vegas, so oh well. (My little brother would argue that we couldn’t get somewhere on time if our lives depended on it, but no one asked him.) We left the tables about 10 minutes after the show started. We got to the metal detectors outside the event center only to realize that we had both brought our pocket knives. Now before you raise your eyebrow at me, let me start by saying that I carry my knife on me just about everywhere I go. Its habit, so I didn’t even realize until the metal detectors were upon us. A very nice older gentleman tried to get us past security, as we were upstanding citizens and didn’t attempt to hide our weapons…to no avail. Then he suggested that we try checking them at the bell desk. He did caution us to the fact that they may not check them for us, since they’re weapons. Soooo….I tucked them into my hoodie’s pockets and handed it to the very nice bell desk attendant. Crisis averted.

Needless to say, we were not punctual enough to catch Dia Frampton’s performance. We also missed Justin’s first song.

Color us happy to know that we had made it for all of our favorite Justin Moore songs. I call that winning. He was charismatic, funny and connected to his audience instantly. He has a modest disposition and a “kiss-my-ass-if-you-don’t-like-my-music” attitude…it really felt like we were hanging out with friends than sitting in an event center with thousands of strangers. Maybe that’s just because we have a rough-around-the-edges group of friends (let’s face it, I’m pretty rough around the edges myself) but, aside from making amazing music, we found him very likable and entertaining. Extra kudos for putting on such a great performance despite having laryngitis. What a trooper he is!

Now, Blake Shelton. Well, the man is talented. Contrary to what some people think, he is not a new comer to the world of country music; he’s well established, though he has admittedly been on a hot streak, so-to-speak. His abundance of attention is well-earned, let me tell you.

He opened with a cover of Footloose that actually didn’t make me cringe. In fact, I enjoyed it very much, especially since he followed up with three more uninterrupted songs before pausing to speak to the audience. Like Justin, he was funny and modest and expressed his gratitude for his fans. Always nice to hear you’re appreciated, especially when you’re spending money you don’t really have on concert tickets. It turns out that he and Justin make excellent touring partners, considering their shared distaste in the suits trying to censor them and attempting to push conformity on them. He has an irreverent humor and attitude that made him immediately likable. He spoke about his experience with the tv show The Voice. He shared his admiration for his peers on the show and even played (most of) a Cee-Lo Green song. It made me smile.

In the middle of his performance, he let the band take a break and did an acoustic set at the end of the catwalk. Just him and his guitars. He tested the crowd’s “Blake Shelton music knowledge” as he played a number of songs from his early days. The crowd sang along…so we passed.

Later in the show, Dia Frampton took the stage to sing a duet that will appear on her upcoming album. I have to be honest. I wasn’t a fan. I don’t watch The Voice, so going into this, I had no idea who she was. It was my least favorite part of the show, even more so than having to wait in epically long lines for beer. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure she has a beautiful voice and is immensely talented. But she seemed and sounded very nervous and it made me glad that we had missed the opening act completely.

The set list as a whole was awesome, all the songs we hoped he’d play…all except for God Gave Me You.

The show ended, and the crowed cheered. Of course we weren’t going to let him off the hook quite yet. Blake kindly obliged us with an encore that even Justin Moore came out for. Our patience was handsomely rewarded as he closed out with God Gave Me You.

:::::sigh::::: I couldn’t have asked for a better show. We sat in the cheap seats, and still had a decent view that didn’t at all detract from our enjoyment. If you ever have the chance to see Justin Moore or Blake Shelton, I highly recommend that you jump on it.

I give this Saint Patty’s day show a two thumbs up to the sky. (Yes, my thumbs may be small, but powerful, they are.)

Rockin’ it ‘Til the Wheels Fall Off…

25 Jan

Or should I say, Rockin’ it Even After the Wheel Fell Off? Yes, that would be a more apt title for what I’m going to share with you fine people today.

Last weekend, my friends and I attended Monster Jam in San Diego. It’s been many years since I last attended a monster truck rally, so I was pretty excited. The show was sold out, and since I do not make a living writing this lovely blog, we were in the cheap seats at the top of the stadium…no mind, these trucks did not disappoint, regardless of your vantage point. Besides, me and my friends are more of the “Lets put on overalls, Billy-Bob teeth and mullet wigs” kind of crowd anyway.

Now, the highlight of the evening was by far the “Freestyle” portion of the show. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing this thunderous exhibition of giant tires, rolling, jumping and racing, the “freestyle” event is where each driver has 90 seconds to rack up as many points as possible. These points are accumulated via said jumping, rolling and any other tricks that the drivers can come up with. When this 90 seconds is completed, the driver then has an additional 30 seconds as a “bonus round”. This results in two scores, one for regulation and a second as a bonus. He or she with most points, obviously wins.

Amidst all this super charged chaos, I walked away with some distinct and surprisingly profound lessons. Now, to illustrate what I’m talking about, please take a peek at this video of Grave Digger free styling it up. You will notice that at one point, while doing “donuts” one of his rear wheels comes off completely. Now, most drivers would have called it quits. They would have chalked it up to a loss and been done with it. But not Grave Digger. No. He literally rocked it until his wheel fell off….and then some. As a matter of fact, he got more air, better stunts than any of the other trucks on 25% less rubber.

My friends and I were completely blown away at the performance. We decided that never again will we miss a Monster Jam, it was way too much fun. The shouting, the cheering, the good old fashioned kind of fun I remember from my childhood…it was epic.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself how in the world this experience left me with some sort of profound lesson. Well, I’ll tell you. I saw his performance as a textbook example of persistence and tenacity. He took pride in his work, and he wasn’t about to let something like a missing tire stop him from giving his fans the show they come to expect. To find some sort of meaning in something as loud and rough as a monster truck rally, it’s got to involve some serious stretching of the imagination.

Call it silly, but I’m doing my best to see things in the best light possible. I have resolved to be that adventurer in search of treasure I spoke about in God is great, beer is good…People are crazy. I will see opportunity in every experience. There is too much beauty in this world to let it fall on blind eyes.

Thank you Grave Digger.