But We Will Never Be Here Again

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When I think about The Eagles, the memory that comes immediately to my mind is of my mom and me when I was little. I’m sitting in the passenger seat of her car, sitting on my knees, with the shoulder strap of the seatbelt pulled down because it’s uncomfortable, and playing on the tape deck is The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975.

This is easily the first album that I had memorized. Not just as in “Oh, I know all these songs,” but I knew the track listing and lyrics to every song by heart. I knew it opened with “Take it Easy,” and that side one finished with “Desperado.” I also just loved the shit out of all of the songs. The songs and album just felt like driving through the desert with my mom, singing along. It didn’t matter that I didn’t really understand any of the songs – I still get a giddy feeling when I hear the opening chords to “Take it Easy.”

Fast forward to about 4 years ago, when I was taking a group of dads and sons on a Sea Cave Kayaking trip for work. This one dad looked really familiar, but I kept thinking I must have seen him on other trips before. Then, I overheard him answer one of the guides question about ever visiting the Channel Islands with, “Oh, me and my buddy Joe Walsh used to come out here a lot.”

I nearly threw my kayak paddle into the Pacific Ocean, and then nearly hit my co-worker in the face with said paddle while trying to both excitedly share with her who this dad was, while also playing it cool. It didn’t help that my co-worker was not only several years younger than me, but was not born in this country and had no idea who Glenn Frey was, or The Eagles.

I got to know Glenn a little better on a couple other outings, and while I always let him believe I was too young know to who he was, after hearing of his passing,I regret not expressing my love of his music when I had the chance to do so, in person. The loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman also hit me very hard this month, but there was something even more sad about reading of Glenn’s passing. He’s the same age as my mother, which still feels far to young to be gone, and I have such vivid memories of his music that it felt like a personal loss.

I’ve got to say, January 2016, I’m getting real tired of all these deaths, and you trying to make me actually feel my feelings like some kind of actual human being. Can we call a truce on the deaths of people I admire? Please?

The Times, They are a Changin’

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I spent the first week of January on the amazing, beautiful island of Jamaica. It was easily one of the best things I have done for myself in years, and the fact that I was able to come back feeling relaxed and refreshed reminded me that I need to take better care of myself.

Sadly, my week back after vacation was less than stellar. When I got home on Sunday, I noticed the cat I rescued in June was behaving oddly. I made plans to take him into the vet on Monday after work, hoping he was maybe just adjusting to my being away for a week. Late afternoon, I met with my supervisors and learned that my current position at work is being eliminated. While I do have several options, and am not completely high and dry, it was a truly sad, and disappointing bit of news to hear. I love my job, and the organization I work for, so feeling suddenly thrust into a position where I may need to leave, and start over again somewhere new was scary, and stressful.

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I had a bit of an emotional drive home to pick up Chance, and bring him to the vet nearest our house. It was there that things began to get progressively worse. When I found Chance, he was nearly starved to death, incredibly dehydrated, and had several wounds from living under our house and on the street for the better part of a year and a half. I learned after bringing him to the vet just after finding him that he was FIV positive, but over the last eight months he’d been doing very well. We had even brought him inside permanently, and he was fattening up, and learning the ways of indoor kitties.

Unfortunately, the vet was able to determine that, likely due to progressive FIV, Chance was in very bad shape. There was a possibility of hospitalization and blood transfusions, but after running another test, the vet realized his likelihood of surviving  and also of his future quality of life. I made the very difficult decision to have Chance put to sleep to end his pain. It was incredibly sad, but he went peacefully, purring on my lap. I am so happy to have given him 8 months of a loving home. I’m still very sad, and I miss him and his sweet little face.

When I got home, I stood in our living room and had a good, long, ugly cry that frightened Pickles and the girls – who all stared at me from the couch.

The rest of the week definitely felt like a bit of an overwhelming emotional rollercoaster. I do have some prospects, and as each day passes feel a little less terrified, but, change that is forced on you is scary. I guess 2016 isn’t going to be the year of being comfortable.

Hello, it’s me

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I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet…

Channeling Adele and taking a leap back into this whole writing thing. I don’t even know how long it’s been since I last wrote anything that wasn’t an email or text message, so here I go again (and again, and again.)

Writing is a practice, much like learning a language or an instrument (both things I’d very much like to do,) and I have not been giving any real time to my practice. I have been pretty much avoiding it. I’m not entirely sure why, but I have some ideas – first and foremost is the stress that has been weighing on me since my mother was diagnosed with Stage VI Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Soft Palette in March of 2014. That’s nearly two years, I know. Talk about avoidance.

I don’t particularly like to make resolutions, because they tend to make me feel as though I am setting myself up for failure. Instead, I’d like to take some of the things I’ve learned in the last few years, as well as more recently, and begin to actively apply them to my daily life.

Early last year, a friend and I decided to take a leap and register for an event our favorite band, Hanson has hosted for the last four years. It’s called Back to the Island, and is essentially a vacation with the band. I know, this sounds both super nerdy and crazy, and I can assure you it was both. As with any fandom there is a spectrum of lunacy, and I am grateful that my closest friends who share this fandom with me, and I fall somewhere in the middle to normalish range. We certainly do some things most people would consider odd (going to multiple shows, traveling to other cities for shows, traveling to Jamaica to tie-dye and make bracelets with two the band members…) but even after all these years being a fan (we’re going into year 19 in 2016) I still don’t think I’ve completely found the words to describe how incredible it is to share the live music experience.

I think the closest anyone has gotten was the character Sapphire in the movie ALMOST FAMOUS, when she says, “They don’t even know what is means to be a fan. To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” 

Yes, it’s crazy to travel to another country to see your favorite band – but while you’re doing something crazy you just might learn a little bit about yourself, and how to make your life better. I got to meet many other fans this last week, at least two of whom I plan to keep in touch with moving forward – one from Finland. Finland! I’ve made friends over the course of my being a fan that are still my friends today. They live all over the world, and I would never have met them if it weren’t for three brothers, and one silly song.

The thing about having been a Hanson fan for 19 years, is that I never imagined it would be like this. I never realized that 19 years later I would still love them, and their music, just as much as I did when I was 14. I still get excited to hear them perform live, and now, more than ever, listening to a crowd of 400 people all singing along to a song we heard for the first time 19 years ago makes my heart swell.

So, I want to continue to live my life the way I did on the island. Open to new people, and places, and experiences. Open to loving hard, and honestly. Open to kindness, and a little bit of crazy.

time, see what’s become of me

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This week I attended a staff retreat where I took part in a workshop titled, “My Plate’s Already Full!” I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, although the description talked a bit about finding a work/life balance which appealed to me. One of the biggest things I took away from this workshop was that we can live our lives by a compass, or allow the clock to control us. This means, I can choose how to use my time, so that it doesn’t control me. 

So often, what happens is I feel like I simply don’t have enough time to accomplish everything I’d like to accomplish. One of the quotes in the presentation was:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” 
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

When I first read this, I felt kind of flippant about it. Of course I have the same amount of time each day as those people, but they were extraordinary. The truth is, while they all accomplished extraordinary things, and certainly lead inspiring lives, everyone gets 24 hours each day. We each get to choose how we spend those hours. 

While I’m being honest with myself, I waste a lot of time every day. Some of it is wasted sleeping in, some of it is wasted surfing the internet, some of it is wasted watching television, or reading. I’m not saying all of those things are completely without value, and doing things I enjoy like sleeping in, or watching television, isn’t ALWAYS a waste of time. But, when I find myself whining (usually internally) that I simply don’t have the time or energy to run, or workout, or write every day, or be more social, I need to remind myself that all of life is a balance of choices. 

Yes, I could sleep in, or I could go to bed an hour earlier, and wake up an hour earlier and get in a workout. I know I’ll actually end up feeling better about it once it’s done, but peeling myself out of bed feels insurmountable. I could watch an hour of television, or I could read more and possibly reach my goal of reading 75 books this year. Currently, I’m six books behind schedule. I could spend hours surfing the internet, or I could spend some of that time sitting down and writing. 

One of my goals for next year is going to be planning and spending my time more productively. I will spend some solid time thinking about my big time goals (passing the last section of the TCRG exam, actually participating in NaNoWrimo, reading 100 books, taking the English section of the CLEP test so I’ll have junior standing at school) and of course other things yet to be determined. Then, I’ll spend some time thinking about the ways I can budget my time to ensure I’m always working toward those goals. Another take away from the workshop was that – asking yourself the question when you feel like you haven’t got enough time, “is what I’m doing in line with helping me reach my goals?” Obviously, not everything I do will be a forward momentum event, but when I find myself feeling overwhelmed, or crunched for time, revisiting that question can help keep me focused on the big picture. 

What are you thinking about as we get closer to the new year?

Blogember – Day 23

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Oh hai again – look what happens when life gets busy! 

Thinking about my reverse bucket list for today’s entry was actually a really incredible experience. Writing out a reverse bucket list is a great exercise in gratitude. Thinking about some of the things I’ve been able to accomplish in my life so far gives such a better perspective instead of focusing on all the things I HAVEN’T accomplished. 

1. Placed 4th in Western US Regional Oireachtas – thus qualifying for the World Championships of Irish dancing. 

2. Dancing on stage at the World Championships. 

3. Visiting Ireland and England and getting to see my grandparents’ childhood homes.

4. Meeting my Irish and English family members. 

5. Visiting Paris and touring the sewers. 

6. Completing a full marathon. 

7. Completing 4 half marathons. 

8. Exceeding my fundraising goals both seasons I trained with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Helping to save lives not someday, but today. 

9. Seeing Hanson live over 20 times all over California. 

10. Graduating from high school at the Hollywood Bowl – standing on the stage there and realizing I was a part of history. 

Blogember – Day 14

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Today’s prompt:
November 14: 10 photos on 10 past the hour, had me stumped. First, I was confused, did this mean 10 past the hour every hour, or like, 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 30 minutes? Not to mention the fact that between getting ready and driving to work and dealing with work things, I completely forgot.

So, instead, I’m going to share other photos. So. Yay!

At work, I’ve been in charge of putting together healthy cooking classes with a professional chef, as part of a weight loss program.  Tonight was week 2, and not only was the food delicious, we grew the attendance.

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– Tri colored beets on their greens.

 

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-Puree of roasted butternut squash soup

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– Haricots Vert with sliced fennel and French breakfast radishes, topped with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice

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– Pea tendrils – sauteed with think sliced garlic and olive oil

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–  Squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts in a tomato coulis

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 – Thin sliced roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash  in some kind of magical citrus glaze.

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– Frisse, dried cherries, sliced Fuji apples, walnuts with a vinaigrette dressing

 

And then, just for good measure, here are some pictures of my cats sandwiched by pictures of trees on my commute to and from work. Ta-da!

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Blogember – Day 13

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November 13: An epiphany you had this summer

I don’t know that I had a true epiphany this summer – maybe more of a “cave in” moment. I’ve written about my ongoing struggle with depression over at Jig and Jog. This summer, I realized things were spiraling back out of control, and I needed help. I made an appointment with my doctor and instead of simply saying “oh you know, things are ok.” I leveled with her – and since August I’ve been working out the dosage on my new meds. It could be a lot worse, but I’m grateful I’ve come to better understand the nature of this illness and was courageous enough to ask for help when I needed it.