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Follow the Yellow Rope

There are five more days left in July and I am hoping they pass quietly into August. For those who know my July, you know it is fraught with loss and love and hope and an underlying tide of grief more evident in other months.

Granny’s passing was just another notch in July’s belt. I refuse to buy July a bigger belt.

I’ve been working hard my July’s. Giving them credit and remembrance where it is due at the same time allowing myself space and grace. It’s been a process. And it has been work.

Conscious work; journaling, allowing time for myself, checking in on my emotions, my Hubs, my relationship to this world and the people in it…….I don’t think any of this comes to us without a conscious effort.

Thursday after we lost Granny, I met a dear friend for a swim in a lake.

I love open water swimming. I love how small I feel in the middle of something so much bigger than myself. I am vulnerable yet strong. I am at the mercy of the elements. I have no choice but to swim. And so, I swim.

I think of Samantha when I swim in open water. The sense I rely on are gone. I can’t see more than four feet in murky water. My hearing is compromised. Samantha’s senses……all connected to her brain, never worked the way they should. I believe she lived her life navigating through murky water- vulnerable to the world.

I swim. In this murky lake and suddenly evolved Heather no longer exists. I am prehistoric crocodile Heather whose only concern is breathing.

This is the best way to navigate July. To Breathe.

I usually veer way off course when I swim in open water. I am right side dominant which leads to swimming in a circle. But this lake has a yellow rope. The yellow rope lies six feet below the surface- I never clearly see it…I just kind of see it. Following the yellow rope requires concentration- I stare into a deep abyss of murky water and search for the yellow. And that is all I think about- the yellow rope.

And breathing. Breathing is good too.

And suddenly, I have swam across the lake. Evolved Heather realizes she now has to swim back. Crocodile Heather jumps back in thinking about the best place to get a breakfast burrito.

I try to look beyond what I can see in the water- I think of Gran and her last days….Sammers and her last days…..and I follow the yellow rope and I breathe.

Back on land, my senses jump back into place. I smell like a lake. I hear my phone. I see the sun reflecting off the flatirons. Crocodile Heather forgets how to start a car, find there is no room for her tail and so I stop.

Stop. And breathe. And search for the yellow rope. And a breakfast burrito.

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The Way You Make Me Feel

On February 14, 2021, I posted that I was changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic. Here I was, all giddy and nervous….leaving something familiar that I knew well for that bright shinny penny at the bottom of the pool.

You know what that experience was?

It.

Was.

Awesome.

It was fun, terrifying, a bit out of my comfort zone…..I learned something new but offered expertise as well. It was humbling to work with such super smart people. Crazy that they chose me…..it was a lovely gift.

And then I quit.

I KNOW right???? I’m not a quitter. Only quitters quit. But that’s what I did. I up and resigned after four whole months.

Because this job market is crazy. And us 50-somethings think it’s only crazy for those young whippersnappers in the global digital space. But you know what? It can be crazy for us subject matter experts 25 years in the industry too.

It was funny being courted for another job after four months. I felt like I was on job Tinder. This is not me. I don’t leave. I have been at the same job for 15 years. Only quitters quit. What about insurance? I just qualified for my 501K match. I just learned the Apple IOS system and GSuite….kind of.

And after years of committed job history, it was terrifying to tell my new manager that I was leaving after four months. They took a chance on me.

And so we talked. We talked about this opportunity, this job market, the lovely gift I had been given during these four months.

And my manager said, “You were meant to work here so we could get to know each other. It’s okay. Our paths will cross again.” And then she told me how great this time has been and how fortunate SHE felt to have worked with ME.

Well Hells Bells. Butter my biscuit and call me for dinner.

I will always think of this interaction with grace. I will always hold this person and her leadership style in the highest regard.

In a time when people are leaving their jobs in record numbers for other opportunities……in this super hot job market where a 50-something gray haired lady can change jobs twice in the first half of 2021, it’s important to remember who we are as employers and employees.

How do you make me feel? When I hand in that resignation, you as a manager are in charge and represent the entire company- after four months of service or after many years. We all remember that last interaction.

How lucky am I?

It was a lovely gift.

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Grief Baby Toe

My baby toe hangs out with the rest of my toes. Most of the time I don’t consider my baby toe. It is not an outstanding, necessary, appendage. At the same time it is not problematic but it is there ….it is a part of me, just like my big toe, my pinky, my ear lobe, my back molar, my grief……

My grief.

It is July.

And for those of you who have known me for a couple trips around the sun, you know that July is a complex, bittersweet month for me. I can be as testy as a cat on a hot tin roof or introspective and welcoming…..almost manic at times and under the covers the next.

Hello July.

To give myself grace……(a practice I have embraced lately), July saw the births and the deaths of my Littles- both Jack and Samantha. We ride for Children’s in July, we raise money in the name of our kiddos….it is a month. A month of Love and Loss.

What is grief if it is not Love and Loss?

And as time moves further from my loss, I struggle to find it’s place. And my place.

Yesterday our son would have been 16. I did not know Jack beyond the 9 months in my belly but I miss the wonder of who Jack could have been. Who he would have been had he time in this world.

The medical world says he would have been sick. Sick with mitochondrial disease. But we didn’t know that….in my wonder-world he could have been anything…..stinky, lippy, driving, tall….so tall given his genes. A great skier….

Amazing. I can wonder him as amazing. And so I do.

As the calendar turns to another July, 16 years have softened the loss. Time has weathered my response- there is nothing dramatic or catastrophic but the time must be recognized for me. For my Hubs. For our own relationship.

In 16 years, Grief is now a part of who I am and how I move through the world. It is not good or bad but my natural history. It is me….just like my baby toe or my pinky. It is not my whole lens of my eyesight but a part of my cornea that can dull or sharpen my perspective.

And like any body part, sometimes it needs attention.

Happy July Grief Baby Toe. I embrace you.

And Happy Birthday Jack….you amazing, tall, stinky, awesome skier. I miss who you could have been.

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Its All Come From My Hands

I had a great week with my niece.

I love ALL of my time with my nieces and nephews but as they grow older and find their voice, their eye, their person…. watching these Littles become grown amazing people is really fun. I fall in love with them all over again….from cuddly toddlers to thinking, feeling, artistic people….

I want to have great coffee with them at a hip cafe.

My niece…..Miss Y graduated last weekend with a 4.6 GPA at Cornell.

When Miss Y was four she requested patent leather shoes for her fifth birthday. Her sense of fashion never looked back; it took her to Cornell, Manhattan, New York, Paris, Fort Collins (hehehehehe) and soon back to Paris.

She designs amazing clothes.

I love clothes…..so that bond, you KNOW that bond is there.

But spending this time with her, I got to know her work, her art, her vision, her passion…..And it’s really cool. So cool I found myself saying, “hey, when your home, can I take you to sushi and can we talk about your views on feminism, your struggle between self-reliance and self-doubt, and the absolute beauty in your vulnerability? Please, please, pretty please?”

Exerpts from Miss Y’s notebook….sketches, scans and a childhood photo…

This week I watched her pack up her locker; yards of muslin from practice projects, beautiful sketch upon sketch, handmade patterns with calculations on the side…..I had the honor of watching the artist pack up four years of creative energy.

And then she shared her thesis with me, and her portfolio, and her final film. I was left speechless of this independent young artist…..this side of her I barely knew but want to know more. In an excerpt from her thesis below, she speaks of her journey during Covid; perhaps in a way that speaks to many of us

In the beginning ideation phases, I prefer to explore alone. Months of quarantine in my
childh
ood bedroom apart from the surrounding chaos gave me the chance to reconvene with
myself. To be brave, to exist without judgment. To clearly, intentionally, explore the intimate
and painful experiences, that though never mentioned, informed every bit of my work. I spent
March – August meditating on forgiveness, September – December trying again and again to
formulate what I was getting at, and January – April bringing everything to fruition.

I personally stopped writing during COVID because the external world was too exhausting- it took all of my head space just to process.

And when Miss Y’s teammates questioned her ability to plan cohesion her answer was “How can it not be cohesive, its all come from my hands.”

The very best art does not start with the purpose of cohesion. It does not set to please anyone- we do our best work when we can bear our soul. I applaud her hands.

Here are samples of her brilliant work. If you would like to see more, send me a message

As an aunt, I stand by and cheer from the sidelines. I am not in the trenches as her parents are. I can swoop in, swoon, love admire….having only a brief summary on the hours, blood, sweat, and tears spent hand-tailoring the amazing ivory jacket.

I do know it’s fun to get to know these adult people- admire their wisdom, insight and amazing talent- to want to get to know them better as adults; super cool adults.

Congrats Miss Y. Live every second of this.

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It might rain.

Yesterday, Maria, my fellow mito warrior and I sat down with a bottle of wine and talked about grief.

No one wants to talk about grief.

Grief is sad and loss is heartbreaking.

But for those of us who navigate a life with loss, it is a part of our world…..a world we don’t always talk about.

Because grief is sad and loss is heartbreaking.

But talking about grief with this lady feels as natural as talking about the weather.

You can find our chat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq3ZmHpGmss&t=172s

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Headspace

This year I am the Queen of unfinished projects.

Guitar? Cant play a cord.

Knitted sweater? It might be a scarf? Someday?

Delights project. HA! That is funny.

I have not posted a delight in two months. I have thought of this space often. I have thought of writing often. I have tried to process so many thoughts……..

But I must admit it, my headspace was full. I underestimated the energy it would take to leave a job after 15 years and start at a new company. It has been a wonderful, gratifying process but it required attention and headspace.

I thought I could write the morning of March 23rd as I drove into Boulder- the morning after the King Soopers shooting.

I thought I could write on March 29th when the Derek Chauvin trial started……perhaps address the trauma I felt when hearing testimony…..and the trauma many of us felt.

I could not write. It took too much energy to put emotion into words.

So I did not put anything into words. I processed. Embraced my therapist. Embraced my family. My friends. Swam. Skied. Cried.

I missed this space but not the energy it required. Alas…..I was a bit tapped.

Let your knitted sweater go. The very best project you can focus on? You.

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Delight Day 26: Granny

This Little Ladies 90-year old heart is feeling a little tired. A tired heart at 90 lands you a couple nights in the hospital. A tired heart requires a visit in the hospital. Gratefully, Colorado opened up COVID restrictions TODAY and I was able to spend this afternoon with Granny and my Mama in the Cardiology Unit.

I make absolutely no qualms about how lucky I am to still have my Granny in my life. As I grow older, this time becomes a precious gift; her stories, her naughty sense of humor and grandparent love……

Grandparent love is pretty awesome. Grandkids really cannot do ANY wrong in the eyes of a grandparent. Imagine still having that carte’ blanc at 50. It is a delightful gift.

I am grateful that she is getting the best care tonight. That albeit tired, she is still able to banter with the nurses in a way that still makes her granddaughter blush (for those who know me, you KNOW this is a feat).

And I am delighted this precious gift is a part of my life.

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Delight Day 25: A Delightfully Frigid Weekend

It was COLD this weekend. Nose hair freezing cold.

We really didn’t have to go anywhere.

So we didn’t.

It was so cold they closed the pool! Was I really going to swim this weekend? Nah, probably not.

So instead, I made lemon cream scones and cleaned out the guest room.

On Saturday, we woke up at 6:00, looked around, decided it was still cold and went back to sleep.

I have not removed my fuzzy slippers from my feet in 48 hours. Oh you can judge; but you know what my toes are? My toes are stinky. And they are also delighted.

I made chocolate covered strawberries to honor the Day of Valentines. No cards will be exchanged, no heart shaped chocolate boxes or flowers.

Maybe just the acknowledgement that a cold weekend in fuzzy slippers is the best Valentine’s weekend.

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Delights Day 24: The Terrifying Delight of Risk

I do realize we are day 44 into the new year and I am on day 24 of my Delights. In fact, the last time I posted something delightful was 10 DAYS AGO!!!!

This is not to say I have not been delighted or found my daily delights. It is to say however, that I’ve been a bit distracted and my distraction took a bit more energy than I thought it would.

I have started a new job.

That seems silly right? Because my last job was great and I love the people and I love my clients so why???? WHY? WHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYY? Change jobs? Why change jobs during a pandemic when the economy is in the crapper and you have stable employment at a good job?

I have no answers to the why.

But I do know that sometimes you have to do something different. Sometimes you have to take a risk, learn something new, stretch yourself a little further than you have been stretched.

Stretching is hard. Change is hard. Taking a risk is risky.

I used to be much better at change and risk. At 22, I jumped on a plane a flew to Germany with the determination to move there for a bit and become a ski instructor. I cried the whole way to Munich and wondered what the hell I was thinking. But you know what? I got that job. I taught skiing three years and inhaled the world. That time changed my life.

At 30, I took a job consulting that meant I got on a plane every Sunday afternoon and flew to New York to work for one of the largest media companies. The Bertelsmann building on Times Square was the most magnificent building I had ever seen….and I worked there…..on Times Square. I showed up on my first day delightfully over my head.

I got married. I had babies. Surprisingly, the things I had always wanted most were the most risky. Motherhood has been the riskiest, most rewarding chapter in my life. Would I change anything? Never.

This summer my nephews went off the high dive for the first time. Watching them climb that ladder was absolutely terrifying. They stood at the edge of the board; little arms flapping as they bounced. I treaded water below them clapping and encouraging- trying to hide my own anxiety. With one move, they jumped and submerged themselves into the deep end of the pool.

And they popped up. Grinned. Not your regular grin but the ‘I took a risk and it was awesome grin.

To jumping in the deep end. To taking a risk. And a bit of a stretch.

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Delights Day 23: Friends

Ah. How funny that when I typed the word Friends, I felt my body relax a bit? Ah, Friends. Friends are good. Friends are Delightful.

A friends’ daughter once told her mom that she hopes she has a group of women like her mom when she is older. That was the best compliment ever. And I hope she does.

One of the best things about getting older is getting older with my friends and watching them become super cool adults…..wonky adults with their own sense of style but fabulous none the less. We carry a precious, sacred history and now a deep seated knowledge that we are all here for the long haul. We may have bonded over $2.00 beers and frat parties….been pissy because someone kissed someone else’s love interest but as life evolves, when the poop hits the fan and becomes real; complicated, hard and at times heartbreaking, the bond solidifies.

My friendships bring me delight.

Thank you for making my life delightful.

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Delights Day 21: Orphaned Cut Flowers

I think about this Delight project a lot. I go through the day eyeing my delights, thinking about the topic. Many times writing about the big important things; the benchmarks to who am, tend to overwhelm me and I know will take time to compose. The fun about Delights is that the topic just hits me out of the blue.

My dear lovely tribe enveloped me with flowers for my birthday. My goodness it was fabulous! Boxes of beautiful blooms delivered down the long driveway of the 20. I was in heaven.

Two weeks later, some of my roses are sad and my daisies are a little puny. Some would throw the whole arrangement out but I cannot. Somewhere in that slightly stinky, once beautiful arrangement, is an alstroemeria bloom yelling, “I’m not dead yet!”

My most favorite place in the grocery store is the cart of flowers in the florist section that are past their expiration date- a dozen roses can go for $4. Sunflowers that might not be so sunny….$2! When I am feeling a little splurgy, I grab several past-their-prime bouquets at the grocery store and set them next to the angel hair pasta.

There are little gems- a gerbera daisy in full bloom, tea roses that are still fresh, sunflowers that have quite a lot of rays.

And a new arrangement now sits on our table….delightful

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Delights Day 20: The Trash Man Cometh

Thursday is trash day. Trash Day is usually not a big deal but sometimes on the 20, little things take on a bigger meaning. It’s about 1/4 of a mile from our house to where the trash truck meets us therefore trash day requires a little preplanning, not a lot but a little reminder the night before….tomorrow is trash day.

The trash truck usually arrives at 6:59 Thursday morning…..on the dot.

My delight is not really about the trash guy, although he does seem like a nice, very prompt person and I really, really appreciate him carting off my garbage,

But sky. The sky at 6:59 in the morning. Delightful.

The moon was setting in the West, bidding adieu to another night.

But to the East!

This symphony of color lasted only minutes. Soon the yellows, reds and glorious pinks had faded, the rooster next door starting crowing and a new day started.

And while the world woke up, the trash man kindly took my bin, gave me a nod and moved onto the next house.

Delightful.

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Day 19 of Delights: Snow Swim

This year the snow has been scarce. Given that Colorado relies on a good snowpack for our water, it’s concerning. But this post is not about concern. This post is about delight.

It snowed today and is still snowing on the 20. I love the monochrome of winter; white snow, brown bare branches, white steamy breath; beauty in naked simplicity.

It is cold and snowing.

It is time for a swim.

I stand on deck and take off my swim coat, fuzzy fleece pants and winter hat. Last to go are the furry slippers. I love those furry slippers. Without them, my bare feet stand in an inch of snow; reminding me to hurry up. I jump. In an instant, I go from dry and cold to submerged.

The water is a balmy 81. Its warm but not toasty. I have to move.

By the third lap, I have warmed up. My feet are no longer yelling at me. My arms go from cool to warm with every stroke. Snowflakes gather on my swim cap. I cannot see the other side of the pool through the foggy steam.

Why do I love this so much? It’s kinda nuts.

I do believe it is the thrill of being so vulnerable. Standing in a snowstorm in a swim suit or worse, convincing soaked Heather to get out of the pool in 21 degree weather.

Perhaps its more than that- the thrill of being slightly uncomfortable in the elements when we are so confined to our own indoors right now. It might be the very simple silence- me and my thoughts and my breath.

No matter. It is delightful. Hello Day 19.

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Day 18: the Legend of Popa and Dodie

Dodie was my paternal Grandmother. There was always something about Dodie- her style, her martini, her clothes, her hair…….it did not matter that she lived in small town Plano, Illinois, she lived her life dressed for the paparazzi.

I still carry her pocketbooks. I open the latch and inhale the 70 year old scent of cigarettes and perfume. I place my face close to the fabric.

“Ah. Hello Dodie.” She is right there, on my arm, in my pocketbook and so very excited I decided to take her out on the town.

Dodie was married to Popa; a cigar smoking, martini drinking, joke telling rascal. If I know only one true thing in this world, I know I was outrageously loved by my Papa and Dodie.

I know this to be true.

Tonight my Dad and Cynde presented with a photo book. It is a book of my 50 years on this earth. I love this book because its ALL ABOUT ME….but more than that, it is about me and the people who have been in my life. Here or not here. What an amazing journey our life is.

All of this book is a delight but tonight I will focus on the awesomeness of Popa and Dodie photos:

I love this photo of Dodie. Pearls, startched white shirt, awesome sunglasses, cigarette, quaffed hair….wait….”what the F*ck is in my nail? Dammit all to hell.”

I want to put an old fashioned on her chair.

Dodie is on the left. I think I would like to have a martini with her and go out dancing. My Great Grandma Katie is on the right. And my Popa in the middle. Popa looks pretty happy.

And THIS one! Papa started a company called Simms Toys. They made the first plastic Batmobile. And sold quite a lot of them. He looks very humble in this photo. I would like to think internally he is thinking, “Holy crap, I made it. Just call me Robin.”

These photos. These photos of the people who came before me and their awesomeness. Well, it brings me delight.

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Delight Day 17- Gifts from Little Nephew

Eating spaghetti with a four year old is delightful. I encourage you to do this as often as possible. Spaghetti is difficult for any adult to eat with grace- a four year old just dives in with vigor and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Last night I celebrated my birthday with the nephews. They made me homemade cards. Go make a homemade card. It’s delightful.

I also got a $50 bill! In this world of digital interaction, paper delights me. Paper money is even more delightful.

Littlest nephew handed me two items – my birthday card and a yellow index card. The yellow index card was folded up into a tiny square, very super-secret like. I was told I could open the birthday card immediately but the super-secret index card had to wait until we opened presents. The super-secret index card waited by the spaghetti…..giddy with anticipation.

Finally it was time. He moved over to watch me open…..and I was presented with this….

“Well,” I said. “This. This is amazing. Is this me?”

Little Nephew rolled his eyes and gave a little pshaw, “No Hehe”, (they call me Hehe…..another delight), “this is Joe Biden. Joe Biden became President today. Joe is standing by the flag.”

Side note delight……you know how little kids sometimes don’t have their ‘L’s’ quite enunciated? So ‘little’ sounds a bit like ‘wittle’. He looked at me quite seriously with those big brown eyes and said, “This is Joe Biden, standing by the Flwag.”

This kid. I loved how he soaked the events of yesterday- so much so it had to be presented on a yellow index card after dinner.

I also got a bottle of peanut butter whiskey which I have been told is amazeballs and an amazing t-rex shirt…..both to be discussed at a later date. We still have a lot of delights to post- 348 more to be exact.

Go eat spaghetti!

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Day 16: The voice of 332 Million souls.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Democracy as:

Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them or by officers elected by them.

You may not agree that America is functioning as a Democracy, in response I ask you to find a country that works harder to bring so many different people, cultures and communities together under one nation. 332 Million souls in this great country. 332 Million different experiences, opinions and ways of life. 332 Million voices.

And you may not be happy with the transfer of power taking place tomorrow. This post is not about ideology- its about the process.

The cool thing is that you have four years to make your case and work for your change because the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole.

Democracy. I am Delighted.

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Delights Day 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day and My Sock Drawer:

I love to organize my socks.

I pull all of my socks out of the drawer, pair everyone up, help lost socks find their mate and neatly fold them back.

Well, I wont have to do that for a while, I think and I go about the rest of my days, my weeks and my months.

Sooner or later, my sock drawer grows chaotic and demands attention. It wasn’t that I was ignoring the sock drawer. But sometimes I am naive enough to think that after I smugly fold the last sock, I have fixed the issue. If I address the chaos in my sock drawer one time, the issue of unmatched socks will go away and I will never have to address it again.

I think we need to address the sock drawer.

Me, as an average person in this country, tend to assume that after we have a conflict, a battle, even a war, we wipe our hands clean and walk away.

We fixed it. It is better. We do not need to address it again.

But you know what we are?

Humans.

We are more chaotic than socks.

And for as much as we want to be good; pride, power and fear are compelling factors to be less good. And when we continue to look away, ignore and excuse what is less good, the needle moves further from what is good.

I don’t think we are very good right now. I think we can be better.

Today reminds me that we consistently have to address and evaluate issues within our society. We can never assume that because great people fought decades ago, we can be impervious to matters of human rights, civil rights and our sacred, fragile democracy.

In light of the volatility we face and have faced in the last couple weeks, I was delighted today. I was thrilled to listen to scholars talk about this day and how we move forward.

I am always humbled to listen to the lives of giants. Thank you Martin Luther King Jr for your bravery and fortitude and reminding us we all have a dream.

I still have to address the chaos in my sock drawer.

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Delights Day 14: The Day of Birth

I did not post yesterday. I was celebrating the day of my birth. 50 years on this amazing earth. 50 years of being a human during this time.

I was a delightful day. I received so many sweet notes from dear friends. Inhaled beautiful flower arrangements, drank too much champagne and dove into a gorgeous lobster with ravenous glee.

I love my birthday. I really do. I woke up and Hubs glanced over at me, “Happy Birthday.” He said.

“Happy Birthday to you,” I returned.

“It’s not my birthday.”

“I know, but I feel like I should say something in return.”

“No, today is all about you,” he said.

“I KNOW. It is isnt it?” And I giggled like a child.

It is miraculous that we are all here in the forms that we are. Not only did every strand of DNA have to align perfectly, which is miraculous by itself. But that my mom at 19 and my dad at 20 decided what the heck, sure lets start a family.

I know it was a little more complicated than that. But now at 50, I am incredibly grateful for my parents….all four of them who decided along the way to come join the ride.

So many twists of fate to bring us here, who we are today. What a precious day.

I saw my Grandma and Grandpa yesterday. Who at 50 has Grandparents they can visit? Granny talked a bit about her life in Southern Illinois- 9 people, no indoor plumbing and a two seat outhouse. Her father was an electrician but they did not have electricity until Granny was a teenager. 90 years on this earth provides a lot of content- so many stories about just one life.

I then delighted….just a tad……in indoor plumbing and light switches.

Happy Day 14 Sweet Friends. Revel in the miracle you are.

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50 Eve

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I turn 50.

50 years on this earth. 50 years on this beautiful, volatile, amazing earth. One thought that has resonated.

How lucky are we to be alive?

How lucky are we to be alive?

This was me at my 40th birthday party.

This photo was taken 5 months after we lost Samantha. And my 40th birthday.

My god…I thought. I have lost everything. What will I be now.

A friend of mine does a post about this picture, he says “And Heather opened her mouth and swallowed her friends whole.”

The irony…..is that I really wanted to swallow you whole. My poor heart felt so felt sad and empty, perhaps if I swallowed you all, I could be full.

I tried to swallow you all but your heads are really big and my jaw doesn’t do that funky dislodging thing that snakes do.

Perhaps its for the better.

Instead you filled my heart. Reminded me I was loved. Nursed me through my 40’s.

And so here we are.

50 brings a light and love that I see shinning through windows, reflected in the trees, returned in a hug or fist bump.

I promise I will no longer devour you.

Hooray for 50.

You bring me Delight

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Delights Day 11- Post Gluten and a Baby

Welcome Dear Friends to Day 11 of 365 Days of Delights. Yesterday in response to my anger, I wrote fiery blog post, banned myself to the kitchen, made 6 dozen cookies, 32 peanut butter balls, 2 loaves of bread, and one homemade pizza dough which was converted into said pizza.

No really. I did.

Today I delivered cookies, banana bread and peanut butter balls to my brother and my ravenous nephews. I listened to a Berne’ Brown podcast twice and had a very honest dialogue with myself around my own accountability as a human on this earth during this time.

And then I ate another cookie.

This time is hard. Anger is easy.

I have more to say on this topic but my brain is tired from baking all the cookies and honestly, I would rather focus what brings us delight.

Oh. I love a sweet smelling, smiling baby! Therefore, I hand today’s Delight of over to my lovely friend and now Auntie ……Laura.

My delight right now is hearing a notification that there is a new picture that has been shared in my photos account. It’s from California, which is a very long ways away at the moment. The pictures, videos and recordings are of my 5 month old nephew. I’ve yet to meet him (which makes me cranky), but the notification on my phone is a daily delight. And the smiles, giggles, tiny hands and wide eyes are pure and simple delights no matter what else is going on. And knowing that 2021 will be the year that I meet the best thing to happen in 2020.

Oh Baby Boy! Thank you for saving me from myself. I indeed am delighted.

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Day 10- Dough Therapy

Welcome to Delights Day 10- dough therapy. I gotta tell you, I’m in a bit of tizzy tonight so you might not walk away feeling delighted. In fact, I am so worked up I have sequestered myself to the kitchen where I will bake and bake and bake.

Oh stop it……

I live in Colorado but this bake is all about pizza, banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. Have you ever kneaded dough when you’re really mad? It’s kind of the best.

I have to tell you. I’m really mad at some of you. And I implore you to stop it. While you plan your grand scheme to blow $hit up, the rest of us are afraid to post anything other than Kitten photos on Facebook for fear we are going to piss off Uncle Bob. We love Uncle Bob but he is a bit of a loose cannon.

I hated that Trump won in 2016. But instead of participating in a coup at the Capitol, I knitted a pink pussy hat, met my girlfriends in Downtown Denver and chanted “Trump Skis in Jeans!”

The statement above is really, really offensive if you live in Colorado.

Not quite as offensive as a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt, 6MWE or chanting Hang Pence. Which is why I can still fly freely…..as soon as I choose to…..with a mask and hand sanitizer…..cuz that’s how I roll.

I know if I tell you to knock it off, that it will only piss you off. So I won’t.

I’m just gonna make a lot of cookies. And stay the heck away from you.

Thank you for my rant. I feel a tad Delighted. Cookie?

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Delight Day 9 of 365- This Guy

I would be remiss if I continued these Delights one more day and did not acknowledge this guy.

My Hubs.

We have spent the last ten months together- in some sort of quarantine. I have told him he needs to be a better girlfriend, he has told me I need to stop snoring (HA! I totally dont).

But ironically, ten months has made us stronger.

Socially, we could not be more different; I enter a party as a stage, he is wondering if he really needs to go to the party.

The Ying to my Yang.

But in times that are difficult, we are pretty united. We were united in navigating the loss of two children, deciding to be a childless couple and today, we are united around how we navigate these crazy times.

It is refreshing to walk into his office after the latest breaking news and say “Holy $hit Balls! Did you see that?”

And have Hubs agree.

A good partner is a delight…..most of the times 🙂

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Delight Day 8- Blooming Amaryllis!

Welcome to Delights Day 8 of 365.

Sometimes what delights me is sitting next to the dish towels and tea kettle. All it takes is acknowledgement over a cup of Sunday coffee.

I love this Amaryllis! I bought my little friend at Krogers on December 18th, 2020 for $9.99.

He had one blossom. Three weeks later, I have watched other stalks appear, bloom, wither and make room for other stalks. He now has four glorious blooms and has gotten so tall, I tied the bottom bloom to a wooden skewer so he wouldn’t tip over.

When doing the dishes, I give him a little drink.

When the last flower fads, I have been told to cut the stalk and put him in a sunny window until next fall. A little water in November will bring new Amaryllis blooms and a spot next to the tea kettle.

All that for $9.99 at the grocery store.

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Delight Day 7 of 365- Rejoice the Forest Bathers!

Day One I posted about my trip in the woods and the idea of Forest Bathing…..immersing in everything the forest, the outside has to offer.

Apparently I have a tribe of Forest Bathers which delights me! Here are photos fellow Delighters have sent to me in this Winter Wonderland.

Photo courtesy of Forest Bather Friend Heather Lee
Our Miracles for Mito Nurse out on a skate in Albany. I think I would like to skate here. The ice is 5″ thick!
My friend Megan hiking in the Northeast. Ironically, Megan skates! Come join us in Albany!

Bathe. Bathe my friends in whatever delights you.

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Day 6 of 365 of Delights: Come Swim with Me.

I swim during COVID.

It is my most reckless act.

I only swim outside- partly because of this nasty virus, partly because the only way to swim is outside. The light dances on the water and the air is clean and cold.

5 days a week, I pull on a swim suit, my newly purchased swim coat, fuzzy rubber soled slippers and a wooly hat. I knock on Hubs office door, “Off for a swim.”

He nods, knows better than to protest.

5 days a week, I pad along to my reserved lane, take off my mask, pull on my swim cap and jump in.

I sink to the bottom and stay there just a second. The warm water cradles me. I am home. I am home. I am home

Sometimes I swim before dawn- the water is dark, the sidewalk is icy, steam creates clouds in the sky along the setting moon.

Today I swam in the afternoon with a good friend. The winter sun was setting, Prince was playing through the speakers and the pool manager handed out chocolate. The setting sun colored the winter trees pink.

For one hour, five days a week, I think of nothing but my breath, counting my laps and moving my arms one stoke ahead of another.

Delighted.

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Delights- Day 5: My Tribe

I struggled yesterday and continue to struggle today. I do not understand the magnitude of the anger shown yesterday and I do not understand how people I know can condemn this violence.

And yet- I search for Delight.

You know what is really amazing?

I never, ever have to search far. I posted yesterday that my search for delights was difficult.

Here is how you responded…..I kind of love you all…..quite a lot.

Hope cookies!

Glorious sibling spa day!
we DID it!
These are camels? They still made me happy and look delish. \
Aw George
Beautiful
My dad getting the Moderna COVID vaccine

So many notes of love and resilience! Thank you dear delighted Tribe. We’re gonna be okay. Keep these stories coming! May we reveal in every day joy.

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2021 Delight Project! Day Three and thoughts from Corey.

Day Three is brought to you by my good friend Corey. Corey is not only a friend but she is my editor and writing coach. She brings me delight.

She brings me delight not only because she is lovely and a big fan of the F word but she has patience and grace in working with me as writer. And she suggests amazing books.

Here is Corey, her delights and a reminder to pay attention to your tiny delights.

Thinking of delights that truly bring me joy there are, of course, the capital moments: your birth of a child, your finishing a half marathon, your marriage to a pretty nifty fellow, your declarative JOYs that insist upon notice. But I think there are more than just those scrapbook moments.

What about those everyday delights? There are a bunch if you start to sink into the sensual seconds of every day. Pressing your forehead against your floofy dog’s head; ticking off a particularly odious to-do item—paying the damn insurance bill, for instance; watching a kid (even one you’re not related to) notice something for the first time—babies and bubbles, pre-schoolers and puddles, teenagers and new Fender amps… the best. So much joy to be gathered like morels in the woods, if only we can pay attention. How much joy do I allow to float by each day? So much.

I resolve to gather more rosebuds. Will you?

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2021 Delight Project- Day Two! And thoughts from Elisa

Our day two Delight post comes from my friend Elisa! She is kind enough to share thoughts around two events; the holidays and her birthday (today is her birthday! Hooray to another year!) I am honored to post her words 🙂 And Elisa, loved the memories of your Mom 🙂

On a Birthday: If there is anything that I have learned and actually wanted to learn and have managed to hold onto throughout the craziness craptasticness of the last year, it’s that the little things really to matter the most. That moment when you notice the sun shining through the clouds. Having precious moments with the people you love the most. Even a desperate ache for when you can’t see the people you love the most. We have to find happy closer to “home” – aka our heart and soul (and sometimes mirror) – and while that can be hard and difficult, it makes the little things all the more important and special

On the Holidays: It may only be the fourth day of the year, however something that is bringing me great peace right now is the plethora of holiday and Christmas decorations that are twinkling brightly in my house right now. Thanks to 2020 having zero rules around doing what you want (within reason of course) my decorations quickly made the turn from fall to holiday and Christmas earlier than ever before and I refused to apologize or justify back then. And now, they continue to sparkle and shine brightly.

You see, growing up it was a huge tradition in my mom’s house to make an ordeal (in a good way) about putting the decorations up the day after Thanksgiving and it was unheard of for any of them to be taken down until the 12 Days of Christmas were over on January 5. Perhaps another reason I love the decorations is my birthday lands in the middle of all of this so you better believe they stay up for that wonderful day! I have kept this tradition because it makes me happy and it brings back memories of my mom  – she always went ALL OUT for Christmas – and this year, it just seemed even more important for me. The trees are up with lights on all day, stockings are hung with care, candles are lit, and everything is just…peaceful and happy.

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Day 1- 2021 Delight Project- Outside

In my mind, it is hard to NOT find delight in being outside. Outside is awesome. Outside is slightly out of our control; sometimes too hot, too cold, too windy, snowy, rainy…..outside is an unpredictable beast. And that’s what makes it so awesome.

Not only was I outside today but it was with good friends. The pandemic has left us all in need of connection. I am comfortable with that connection. I YEARN for that connection…..outside.

We did a hike so I got a workout.

Alas, today is the trifecta of delights! My heart rate was elevated, I gazed across a wooded summit and I laughed with great company.

I discovered a new term today; Forest Bathing. The concept stems from Japanese Shinrin-Yoku Forest Therapy. While the soak isn’t literal, it means to immerse yourself in the natural environment. Bathe in the blue sky above you, listen to the wind in the trees, feel the crunch of the snow beneath your feet. Forget the creature comforts of home, lose the phone and be present in your environment.

Speaking of literal soaks, outside demands consciousness. This was me today at the base of a frozen waterfall right before I slipped and slid towards a tree that was frozen in the river.

I had two friends come to help after my slide. Because that’s what you do when you’re outside- you look out for one another and help, even when the party needing assistance did something a tad careless. There was no ‘Like’ or ‘Unlike’ no #dumbwaterfall lady or bitmoji of a palm slapping a forehead….just help.

Thank you friends

Tonight my heart is full, my belly is hungry and I am filled with delight.

There is no wifi in the forest……but perhaps you can find a better connection.

See what I did there? I know. Hysterical.

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The 2021 Delight Project

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely holiday filled with good health and good company.

I struggle with what to write about as we all take another journey around the sun. As a human on this planet during this time, I have been witness to a lot of suffering this year. And as a human on this planet during this time, bearing witness to this suffering makes me sad, living in a divided country makes me sad, seeing the people I love lose loves makes me sad.

But I cannot call this the worst year ever. That is not fair to those who really have had the worst year ever and it is not fair to my worst years. Having lived a series of unfortunate events, I think it’s important to recognize when you are fortunate, move a step over and give grace to those who really need some grace.

And on January 1, 2021 at 12:01, the world did not change. The issues we faced at 11:59 are still around, stinking up the place and making us ask “well it’s a New Year, now what?”

Now What?

We still have a road ahead of us my friends. Our reserves are empty, our capacity for compassion and empathy maybe running low and my mask has taken on a nasty stench. Yes, I know I can hand wash it….but I am amazing at how foul my breath can be.

We still have to dig deep.

I started this pandemic by writing down my gratitudes and dreams. This lasted until the Fall. I am behind on my gratitudes. Yes I am grateful. But during the election and as COVID numbers continued to rise, my gratitudes felt inauthentic.

Today I was listening to This American Life on NPR. They were interviewing Ross Gay; poet, professor and author of a collection of essays called “The Book of Delights”. For one year, Ross wrote daily essays about things that delighted him. He told an amazing story about flying with a baby tomato plant and the joy it brought him. Listening to his baby tomato plant story brought me a little joy.

365 days of delight. One thing. Everyday. That delights you.

I have struggled with the purpose of my blog. I talk a lot about grief, resilency, politics. Lets talk about Delights.

Can I do 365 days of Delights? It’s a lot of writing so I might rely on you, my fellow writers and articulate people. Can we fill this blog with 365 days of tiny events that delight us?

I cant think of a better challenge.

We start tomorrow 🙂

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Candy

I haven’t posted for 6 weeks.

That’s not to say I don’t have anything to say. I ALWAYS have something to say. These six weeks have been a bit introspective….we are still deeply divided, in the darkest days of Winter, the pandemic, and trying desperately trying to find our way.

We take the quarantine very seriously out here on the 20. My whole family is high risk and I love them quite a lot. I would like to smooch on them endlessly once this little virus decides to move on. So we stay at home. And we stay. And we stay.

Despite being a self-diagnosed extrovert, I am skilled (seriously) at keeping myself entertained. I find myself pretty charming and a pretty good companion. Myself and I have taken on numerous unfinished projects; a paint by number canvas from hell, sewing, harassing the Hubs, learning how to play the guitar and baking……so many baked goods.

For the holiday season, I decided to take to attack the very fine art of candy making.

This may seem like a small endeavor but I have a whole new appreciation for Willy’s Wonkiness. Making candy involves taking ingredients that live quite happily in a separate solid state….butter, sugar, milk; melting them into a liquid state so that they live together in melty gooeyness and then…wait for it……continuing to heat them up so that the elements in your kitchen become a molten sugar mixture from hell.

“Combine sugar and butter, keeping stirring for an hour until the mixture reaches a temperature of 280 degrees.” Not 281 degrees. 280

You know water boils at 212 degrees. Candy requires you take that 212 degrees and add another three million and twelve degrees. This combination is so stinkin’ hot that as soon as it hits a cool surface, it solidifies immediately. Hands, fingers, ears? No matter.

The irony is that this gooey, murderous, painful lava, poured out onto a cookie sheet hardens into a tasty toffee or beautiful caramel. I packaged tasty Turtles for friends and family.

“Oh these are good.” They would say.

Good? Do you know the depths of sugar molten hell I descended into? Do you know I no longer have fingerprints? DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU???

Good my hiney.

Christmas is over and the turtles have found new homes. The candy thermometer and recipe book have been put away for another year. My glass stovetop still smells of burnt sugar.

Is this an analogy to 2020? Can I make some comparison to molten sugar and COVID? Nah, its a stretch. But in looking for a correlation, I did find the lyrics to Willy Wonka’s Pure Imagination……Onto 2021! Keep dreaming my friends. Love the turtles.

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world?
There’s nothing to it

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you’ll be free
If you truly wish to be

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Veterans Day from a Child of the 80’s

Thank you to so many for your service.

I know these times are confusing but I think this is one thing we can all agree on;

Thank you to our Vets.

I have today off. I have never had Veterans Day off. Colorado is having a crazy COVID surge so my options for today were limited but I did do my favorite thing….I swam.

The pool manager LOVES 80’s music so today I swam to a Tears for Fears/Queen Combo….that’s right….We are the Champions…. and Everybody wants to Rule the World….fitting.

I was a kid of the 80’s.

I grew up with parents talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis; going to bed and not knowing what the world would be like when they woke up. Nuclear bomb drills where everyone hid under their desk….all in the tiny town of Plano, Illinois.

In the 80’s I sat glued to the TV as the nuclear arms race between the US and the USSR intensified; potential destruction my twelve year old mind could not comprehend.

Nuclear bombs are scary.

The made-for-TV movie The Day After came out in 1983. You wanna scare the crap out of a 12 year old? As if puberty is not terrifying enough, plop them in front of the TV to watch the Love Boat and what the heck….a nuclear holocaust. My preteens were spent thinking that surely we were out to destroy ourselves. I would spend my teen years in an underground bunker eating spam, watching my hair fall out….just me and my family…..a preteen nightmare.

I have always been a bit of an activist. At 12 I sat at the kitchen table with my best friend writing letters to President Regan about how I would really like to see my 13th birthday (I also had a flair for the dramatic).

I remember asking friend’s mom, “Why do the Russians hate us so much?”

“Oh Honey,” she said, “they don’t hate us. They don’t want this to get any worse than we do. “

In 1985, Sting released, I Hope the Russians Love Their Children Too, a somber, chilling song that really came down to this premise….. If destroying you means destroying me….well I love my family more than I hate you. So where do we go from here?

Mister Krushchev said, “We will bury you”
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It’d be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
But what might save us, me and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

The Wall came down November 10, 1989. I sat in my grandparents living room and cried.

In 1993, I moved to Germany for a couple years and became friends with many people from the Eastern Block. They didn’t hate me nor did they want to blow me up with a nuclear warhead. They were also really good skiers and fun to drink beer with….so there is that. And they do indeed love their children.

Today Americans fight Americans.

And although we do not point warheads, talks of succession are damaging. They point to a fact that we cannot nor will not meet each other at a commonplace.

Would we speak so highly of each other to our children the way my best friends’ mom spoke of our ‘enemy’ during a Cold War? When nuclear bombs were poised towards each other?

Would we tell our children the other side does not hate us? And that the other side doesn’t want this to get any worse than we do? Would we speak about our country people with different ideology as graciously as my best friends’ mom spoke of people she did not know?

There is no monopoly on common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope Republicans love their children too

There is no monopoly on common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Democrats love their children too

Today is Veterans’ Day.

So many have fought for peace. Not only did they fight, but at the end they met the enemy at a commonplace. It would have been easy for Regan or Gorbachev to tell the other to stick it. I’m glad they didn’t. I really don’t like Spam.

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Last Halloweek Post!

For those who have been following the small business Halloween posts from my writer’s group, here is the last one written by yours truly- a salon for witches.

Happy Halloween!

Hello My Pretty Day Spa:

In today’s small business feature, we are happy to announce the grand opening of “Hello My Pretty Day Spa,” a full service exclusive salon for witches and warlocks.

Waste no time, hop on that broom, Kick off those pointy shoes, relax with a steamy eye of newt brew and your very own feral black cat- assigned to you at time of check in.

Flying monkeys driving you crazy during quarantine? We understand. Hello My Pretty is an exclusive day spa. Leave the flying monkeys outside while you indulge in a spectacular lunch of spider eggs and toads.

Have you indulged in one too many small children during the time of COVID? Our cool sculpting technicians will get you right back into that black dress- ready for a night of terrorizing the villagers.

Has your evil eye lost its radiant evilness? Come in for our exclusive chemical peel of goats eye and frog hairs…..that evil eye will stop Doorthy in her tracks- leaving her no time at all to steal your ruby slippers.

Yes, during this time of COVID, it can feel like a house has landed on top of your sister but don’t you worry my evil coven- we are here for you.

To quote owner and respected wicken, Lori Appleby-Hoke. “It’s not easy being green. But at hello My Pretty Day Spa, we double, double, toil and trouble……over you.”

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Halloweek Day 3- To handout replacement knees!


Shake Your Bones at The Rib Cage
By Tracy Skochil for the Skeleton StarFeeling

Covid-catatonic and wanting to get out and move? A new fitness center down on Main Street may be just what skeletons (over the age of 18) have been waiting for! Owner Heather Schichtel, a long-time resident of Fossil Creek and active community organizer, decided to take the plunge and open during the pandemic.“I mean, the world is unpredictable. What are souls in this town going to do, wait forever for life to get back to normal?” Heather said, turning up the incline on her treadmill.

“Skeletons have got to get out and move. Staying in one place makes our joints stiffen, and no one wants that.”The Rib Cage Gym has everything from group fitness and kickboxing to spin classes and circuit training. The Little Socket Daycare is open from 6am to 8pm. The gym has luxurious showers, saunas to ease those creaky bones, a milk bar, and a calcium-enriched swimming pool. There’s a special introductory offer running for October: sign up the whole family and get free access to the movie theatre for six months. Jog or pedal along to everyone’s favorite, A Nightmare before Christmas, playing twice daily until December 26.

“We can all agree 2020 has been a year most skeletons would like to leave in the dust. So make plans now to join us on New Year’s Eve for our 8-hour cycle-thon to ride into 2021,” said Heather. “Replacement knees will be available to help you go the distance!”Call 1-888-Get-MOVIN for membership pricing.

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Happy Halloweek! Pt 2.

Devils Food Anyone?

A Bloody DelightLocal Restaurant Review:

Sweet Fang BakeryBy Leah Byrd of the Vampyre Times

The moment you walk into Sweet Fang Bakery, you’re greeted by the aroma of fresh blood and sweet pastry.  The owner and pastry chef, JoBeth Jamison, is a genius with red blends and has developed her own line of both natural and synthetic jams and syrups. “They’re secret clan recipes that have been passed down for millennia,” said Jamison with a sly grin.

With a carefully curated menu of both fresh and aged blood types, Sweet Fang Bakery offers a refined assortment of treats worth killing for. The towering croquembouche with caramelized B positive is the obvious showstopper, and few are able to resist the temptation of the red velvet cupcake with the surprise filling, but the cranberry scones with O negative clotted cream are what will keep you coming back again and again.

The Sweet Fang Bakery is a local hot-spot and a bloody delight (pun intended), and the perfect place to bring your out-of-town friends and family. Just be sure to get in line early or you might miss out on the half-priced lattes with steamed plasma. 

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Happy Halloween!

Bibbity bobbity boo!

I have not posted in OVER A MONTH because sometimes when your heart is heavy, it is hard to be insightful and poignant.

So forget ALL of that!

In the spirit of Halloween, my fellow talented writer friends have put together small business review for ghouls and goblins. If you are looking for writers prompts for your Littles these are a lot of fun and funny. Here is day one- Enjoy!

Taking Ogreship: By JoBeth Jamison

Need a fix? This week’s highlighted Ogre-owned business, The Pits, promises to deliver on every Ogre auto repair—gigantic or small, foot or fart powered.

Owner and operator Tracy Skochil, a Triple Onion-certified mechanic, started her career following in her mother’s and father’s stompsteps in MonsCar pit crews and fast became one of the sport’s most valuable assets.“I’ve always just been a sponge for the way things work,” says Skochil. “And for Grawp’s Pumpkin Eyeball Ale—I soak that up by the barrel every fall,” she chuckles.

Skochil ultimately transitioned into the role of world-renowned crew and engine consultant, which inadvertently led to her become THE mechanic to the stars. (Shrek and Fiona now refer to her as their “Motor Queen” since Skochil achieved what they were told was impossible: a full restoration of their iconic 1576 Zweibel Princess Coach after their notoriously wild child Bink drove it into the Royal Tar Pits last year.)

But Skochil’s own notoriety has never been her comfort zone. After a while she began to miss her Forest of Illusion roots. Despite the sparkle of her luxury-cargo-plane-set life, Skochil says, “I’m a swamp girl, through and through. I was never not going to come back here and be part of the community I love.”

She recently bought the dilapidated Humbaba estate in neighboring Cedar Forest and turned one of the out buildings into her retirement plan: The Pits, where she and her parents now work together full time. From Toyogres to Mercedes Bones, Chevrolegs to Caniballacs, Hyundeyes, to Infiniteeth, Bulkwagens, and more, The Pits promises superior service with that one-of-a-kind, superstar-swamp-ogress, Skochil Family flare—without the flashbulbs

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Mitochondrial Awareness Week 2020

Dear Friends, Family and Supporters of our Cause,

If you are receiving this email or reading this blog, website or tweet, its because you are engaged with us and for that we thank you.

Thank you.

This week marks International Mitochondrial Awareness Week. This week also marks ten years of Miracles for Mito as a nonprofit. Happy ten years to us! Today I was driving into Boulder from Denver. There is a point as you approach Boulder that you can see Long’s Peak, the Flatrions, Twin Peaks….it is really an amazing view.

I reflected on our ten years, Miracles for Mito’s mission to establish a presence in Colorado and felt a little teary. We have lived a lot of life in ten years. We have said goodbye to Littles we loved fiercely, we have raised over $1MM to the Mitochondrial Clinic at Childrens Hospital Colorado and we have established ourselves as a Mito presence on the Front Range.

There is still a lot of work to do. But in 2020, a year for the history books, we have raised $84,000 for our Mitochondrial Clinic at Anschutz campus. This significant, consistent funding has presented multiple opportunities for trials in 2021. The clinic is currently in negotiations for these trials.

In a Spring and Summer of lockdowns, Miracles for Mito shipped Ubiquinol and gift cards across the nation. We now have the bandwidth to ship supplements beyond the Front Range. Please let us know if you know a family that needs help, regardless of their location.

Shipping Supplements from Erie, CO!

And our amazing nurse MaryBeth Hollinger, provides coast to coast support for Mito families facing the challenge of a rare disease during a pandemic. The support group meetings she conducts twice a week are a cornerstone of support for so many.

Family grants, gift cards, a registered nurse facilitating support group calls, COQ10 for whomever needs it. Miracles for Mito is there for our families.

Is there more to be done? Always.

Do we need your help more than ever? Absolutely.

But just like climbing one of our 14’ers in Colorado, it is one foot in front of the other, every little step makes a difference; tenacity, perseverance with a touch of exhaustion will get us there.  

Thank you for all you do. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram this week as we celebrate advocacy and awareness. Thank you for ten years. Let’s dare to dream where the next ten will take us: http://www.miraclesformito.org.

Yours for a Cure,

Heather and Maria

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Would We be as Good as we Were 19 Years Ago?

I was 30. Before I was married. Before my children. Before I knew the words Mitochondrial Disease.

At 30 I could give you a list of all my worries but looking back, I had a pretty charmed life.

I was consulting for KPMG and I was scheduled to start my new gig on September 11th in Liberty Corner, New Jersey. I flew into Newark the night before, cursed dark New Jersey roads…..why is it so woodsy here????? And reported to my new project at 8:50 on September 11th.

I sat in the lobby waiting for my new manager, sipping my Starbucks, and watching CNN. You know how the rest of the day went.

But it was different because it was close. Liberty Corner is a commuter town. People had loved ones in Tower One and Two. I watched the day unravel. I watched loved ones search for each other, unable to get through, worried and frantic.

At noon they told me I should go home and come back tomorrow. But I had no home. I had room 311 in a boutique hotel of quaint and tiny Liberty Corner. And so I sat and watched and cried and fretted.

I couldn’t fly home for ten days and so I embraced a very sad community. I went to church and prayed. I went to the coffee shop. A firemans boot sat on the counter to collect funds for families. I ate scones, drank lattes, cried some more and tossed dollars into the boot.

On Friday, I went into the city to find solace with dear friends. The subway line under the Towers had just opened. It smelled of burnt oil. Smoke still stood in the subway air. Grand Central was a living Memorial of those missing. I’ve experienced a lot of personal loss in my life. The image of poster after poster of missing loved ones is still crystal clear.

I vote Democrat. I always have. But I was so proud of our republican president. He was strong, uniting, compassionate. For as hard as it was to be so far away from family; I have always been honored to bear witness to the healing of that community.

2,977 souls were lost that day. 19 years later, we honor those lives.

Would we be as good today? As we approach almost 200,000 lives from a pandemic we refused to acknowledge for months, would we be as good? Would we blame each other? Would we turn? Would we unite?

I don’t know that we would unite in the way we did 19 years ago. I can give many examples why I think that but many of you know where I stand on current issues. To say my why would only increase the divide. You know. I know.

It took buildings crashing down for us to unite. 2,977 souls and the ripple in the world that their void left. But it also took empathetic, compassionate rhetoric to reinforce that our neighbor was not to blame, blue or red was not to blame…………It was 19 men following a leader who made it his life’s work to destroy what we believe in.

I traveled often after 911, for a while on a weekly basis. As I took off shoes, belts, endured countless, very ‘personal’ pat downs, I would think about what I heard often in the security line, “Well the terrorists already won.”

I never thought that. I always thought that we all were doing the very best we could to make sure we all got to our places, with our loves, as safely as possible.

I hope we can back there someday. That we all do our very best to make sure we get to our places, with our loves, as safely as possible.

It’s all any of us ever want.

Peace and blessings to you on this day.

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Homework

In March the world shut down.

Our trip to Europe was cancelled. Work trips were put on hold. Ski resorts were closed. We hunkered down and I continued to write in my gratitude journal.

“I am grateful.”

I am grateful for a job, a house, stability, my health, my husband…..the list…..I focused on the list.

And this worked for a while. I held my gratitude like a shield against all that was going on in the world.

But it didn’t get any better. In fact, it got worse. Politics got worse, the summer got worse, we got angry, divided, Spring turned into Summer. Summer turned into July.

Stupid July.

July was ugly. My gratitude shield was a puny piece of aluminium…..pew….pew….pew….

I called up my therapist- we hadn’t talked in a year.

“I am so sad. I feel so extended but I’m not. I live with one person, 24/7 and I love him but he’s loud and he farts…..a lot. I should be grateful for all I have but I’m so stinkin sad. I have lost friends. Everything I have held true seems to be false. I struggle. I should be more, I should be better, able to rise above the petty. I cannot.”

I waited for her to tell me I was broken. My pain was exaggerated and she could prescribe something to fix me.

Because we live in a world where we have an instant solution for what causes us pain; a pill, blame, rage….But instead she said to me, “With everything going on, everything. If you aren’t a little depressed about these events, you might not be in touch with what is going on in the world.”

Thank you…..thank you lovely therapist for this acknowledgment; that maybe it is the world that is broken and not me.

I talked to her today. “I am joy starved,” I said. Not just a laugh or a moment but a full on group Powow WAAAAHHOOOOO joy.

“I miss it.”

“What makes you happy?” she asked, “even for a moment?”

“This,” I said, “talking to you, swimming, yoga, moments with friends, reading, slow mornings with Hubs.”

“Your homework,” she smiled, “your homework is to remember these small moments. Take a second or two, remember the air, the smells, how you felt. Remember these moments. Hold them for a precious second and then move on. We can be enveloped in the bad. Hold the good.”

We are all trying.

Trying so hard.

I don’t think things will get easier. I think the next couple months will be very challenging. I invite you all to share what is good. Hold it in just a second longer. We are there….I am rooting for you….I am rooting for me….we are all rooting for us all.

This is not our life. This is just our life right now.

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It is what it is.

I used to be a tad more open minded to other opinions.

I still try to be but I find it harder.

And if you find me difficult and unrelatable, I get it. It’s not you. Really, it’s not you. It’s me.

And perhaps it’s the company I keep. Nothing is worse than a tribe of special needs parents reminding you that health is important, wearing a mask is important….nothing ruins your mojo more than special needs parents who have to run home to oxygen, suctioning, feeding tubes and bottles of purel. Special needs parents are not very sexy.

And bereaved parents?

Get. Out. Of. Town.

Never, ever talk statistics about how many children could die of COVID to a bereaved parent. To a bereaved parent, we beat the odds. Anything can happen. Don’t try to rationalize life and death based on what you saw on Fox News; especially if its not yours.

When was the last time you attended a funeral and sat in front of a baby casket? Never?

Then count yourself lucky and STFP.

Am I angry? Hell yeah.

Stop talking about things you think you know and I hope you never ever know.

But really. It’s not you. It’s me.

Of course I seem scared to you. My stories are your worst nightmare. The outlier to your statistics.

But I am not scared.

I was scared when my daughter seized for the first time. After the 20th time, it was old hat.

Cause it is what is it is.

I was scared when she caught MRSA multiple times and it took two weeks to get a bacterial infection under control. I was scared when I was sent home with two IV antibiotics to be administered two hours around the clock through her PIC line.

I was scared when I performed CPR for the first time. I hope I never have to perform it again.

But hey.

It is what it is.

160,000 dead in five months. But its not your Mother, your Father, your Brother, your Child.

Is it?

So you can ignore it.

It is what it is.

Until it’s yours.

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Happy 30 Years American Disabilities Act

I missed a birthday yesterday. It’s an important one so I will send a cake.

30 years ago the American Disabilities Act was passed. 30 years ago a law was created stating that you could not discriminate against those who had epilepsy, you could not refuse to serve someone in a wheel chair, you could not deny employment to someone because they had a hearing aid.

What is crazy to me is that before 1990 you could.

I was 19 in 1990. Selfishly, I cannot say I remember this historic date. And as a somewhat blue leaning voter…….I say thank you George H.W Bush. Good-on-ya.

This was the Capital Crawl on March 13, 1990. They could not walk, so they climbed up the Capital stairs.

Crawled. Because their legs did not work. And because their legs did not work, they faced discrimination……only 30 years ago.

Crawled. Because there was no other way up.

Four months later, Bush signed the ADA act, a bill written by Tony Coelho, a California Democrat who suffered a head injury at 16 that evolved into Epilepsy. In college, when he wanted to become a priest, he was told he could not because according to Canon Law, people with Epilepsy were possessed by the Devil.

This was in 1960. Apparently 60 years ago you could still be possessed by the devil.

30 years ago, I had no idea the impact this law would make on my life. I will always be grateful for ramps, accessible buildings, wide doors, individualized services vs institutionalization, access to education……my ADA friends are nodding their head and saying ‘yes…..but we have such a long way to go’

As a mama who changed her daughter on the floor of a non ADA accessible bathroom, yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

You can have 1,000 ramps but you cannot change attitudes…..or those who still park in handicapped spots 😦 And today, in hearing a Westminster Colorado teacher refer to his special needs students as ‘retarded’, yes we have a long way to go.

And it goes without saying that those in undeserved communities struggle for these ADA rights more than anyone.

But despite the work that needs to be done, despite partisan conflicts over funding and the fight that parents face every year, with every IEP, there was once upon a time when we all came together and did good.

It wasn’t that long ago.

And it should be celebrated…..

Happy Birthday American Disabilities Act. Thank you for paving the way.

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A July for the Books

Last night Hubs and I opened a bottle of wine and toasted to the end of our July.

“Well”, he said, “We’ve had worse Julys.”

This is funny…and sad. I dread July. This one month marks the births and deaths of both kiddos…..all wrapped up in a poopy 31 days. Kinda like Baskin Robbins 31 flavors of ice cream. But awful. And no sprinkles.

I have never hidden the difficulty of this month. Not only for me but in trying to honor my Hubs. Here is how our July usually goes………

Me: “This month is awful and hard and I need to surround myself with as many people who support my cause as possible.”

Hubs: “This month is awful and hard and I need to surround myself with me. And maybe my wife….if she is not surrounded by other people. But she usually is….so just me.”

July is the month we lost both Jack and Samantha. It is also the month that our team of 60 get together and climb 180 miles for a cause embedded in my soul. My grief has always been diluted by my miles, and my sweat, and your hugs, and cowbell.

I missed my diluted version of July.

Full concentrate grief July is a lot to manage.

Grief is a hard thing to anticipate. Something that seemed okay last year can sting the next. And on the flip side, an issue that was so important last July can be forgotten. That’s the crazy thing about grief.

And the statement above? Only applies to you. Everyone else can be having their very own Grief showdown…..and you might not even know it until its high noon and you’re standing in front of the General store.

I do think we all survived….by the hair of our chinny chin chins (which might be longer because of work-from-home policies?) but we did survive. The magnitude of how hard the weekend was just reminds me….be kind, if it doesn’t matter let it go, Love your Loves, and be cognizant of another’s battle. We are all missing our people. Give Grace.

And with that, Adios July 2020, you Mother F#cker.

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Psychomagnatheric Slimeflow

Uh yeah. Your honor, what we’re trying to say is all of the bad feelings. You know hate, anger and the vibes of the city are turning into this *sludge*. I didn’t believe in it either. But, we just went for a swim in it and end up almost killing each other.

Ghostbusters Two was released in 1989 and it did okay according to Rotten Tomatoes.

It was not the original Ghostbusters- the Staypuff Marshmellow Man made no appearance, the tone was a little more somber and there was Vigo.

Vigo the Destroyer, a cruel leader from the 1500’s who comes to life in a painting and tries to possess a baby named Oscar so that he can rule again in the 21st century.

I do have a point to this post….but first, I have to do this…..because it’s my blog and I find it hilarious…..

Vigo the Destroyer
Or Vigo the Destroyer…

Uncanny! Hold please while I chuckle for a second.

I’m sorry. According to polls, I have offended about 30% of you. But it’s my blog and you can walk away. Vigo the destroyer was really not the point of all of this.

Instead I would like to talk about Psychomagnatheric Slimeflow. Stupid movies pop in my head all the time. In this stupid movie, the sewers of NYC are flowing with this negative slime. This slime gives Vigo power and starts to take a community down.

Psychomagnatheric Slimeflow has infiltrated our country.

I talk to my friends, my family and my tribe. We talk about gratitude, being thankful and fortunate….we do this at a social distance with cute masks.

But underneath, for all of us, is an undercurrent. An undercurrent that feeds uncertainty and anger.

“Do I send my kids to school or see my Grandma?”

“Will I find a job?”

“Will I be able to feed my family this month?”

We live with an undercurrent of uncertainty. It makes us quick to respond, quick to anger, quick to draw conculsions.

I had a bad weekend. It was a double-decker Psychomagnatheric Slimeflow Sundae.

A friend asked what I was doing for self-care. I love this question.

Ask this question. Ask it often to your tribe that you can’t always see.

What are you doing to take care of yourself?

Because that is all I can do……that is all you can do. Take care of yourself.

“I am swimming.” I answered unexpectedly. I get in cold, clean, crystal, chlorinated water and I listen to my breath. I do it again when I have the opportunity. That is my antivenom. What is yours?

I have felt the Psychomagnatheric Slimeflow creep into my veins, my house, my tribe. I have been short with others and been on the receiving end.

Do not discredit what this undercurrent can do at the same time, do not discredit your ability to rise above it; recognize it, protect yourself, move on.

And never, ever cross the streams.

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Grief in a time of Grieving

I woke up at 5:00 this morning- wide awake, listening to the Starlings dance on the roof and watched the sun slowly iluminate Longs Peak.

June 30th always wakes me with a jolt, a collective FU(K, a deep sigh and a muddled plan to get through the day.

It’s hard to relive one of your saddest days. Grief freezes time and memories into smells, sounds and snippets as vivid as film. As the day goes on, the edge wears off. I become distracted and the day passes. But the morning of June 30th is my time. My time to remember my Jack. My time to remember how a day started with such promise and how it ended.

15 years of this June 30th- some years are better some years are worst. But today will always be a deep stain on the rest of 365 days. And today, as July-eve begins, so does a collective month of bittersweet anniversaries.

And I am not on my ‘A’ game this year.

This year I am tired.

Four months of unknowns and quarantines, and riots and a bad economy and a pandemic that keeps raging; I am not going into July as my best self. I’m showing up disheveled, a bit anxious and fully aware that the tribe I lean into during this time might be feeling the same way. I have lost my big girl pants and kick ass boots.

And I am tired of rationalizing the last four months knowing that we are still in the thick of it. I am so tired of fighting for my joy. I’m tried of drinking the kumbacha and marveling at how great my coffee tastes in the morning.

And you know what? My homemade masks are really the worst ever. My husband asked me the other day if we could please just buy some.

Fine.

Quitter.

I will be back. I’ll be back in some annoying joyful way…..give me about 10 hours, a glass of wine and access to our Courage Classic pictures.

This morning? Screw it. This morning I will lie in the suck for a bit.

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Reform

I have been hesitant to write about this for years because the memory is so painful.

And I have been watching my friends divide and unravel in the last week.

I have remained silent.

Part of the reason is that I am a privileged white woman. I am. I see this fight. I know this fight is overdue. And I am so afraid of saying the wrong thing. Picking up my phone at the wrong time, exposing myself as a Karen.

Can I just pause for one second and apologize to ALL of my friends named Karen? I am so sorry this all somehow got pegged on your name. Sorry, back to my thoughts.

I have admittedly, been a Karen. I have walked in with my Marriott points and demanded better service, I have switched rooms, tables, asked for the manager. I have at times been an ass. I am working on this.

A friend of mine took her daughter into a Chik-Fil-A a couple weeks ago. My friend is half Hispanic, half English. Her daughter’s father is black. They ordered their fries well done, the manager refused and somewhere along the way, the manager told them they could wait for their fries while they waited for the police.

My friend was ready to sit in the booth and sip her sweet tea while she waited for the police until her daughter started to cry. “No police. Please Mommy.”

They left without their well-done fries.

My friend is fine to wait for the police. Her daughter is growing up to fear them.

I do not care what side you are on. Read the above again. I am not for defunding. I am for reforming. Why does this nine year old fear the police?

I was on the wrong side.

Once.

This is ironic because I really pushed the police several times in my 20’s. They could have hauled my drunk ass to jail and everyone would have said, “Yeah…..well.”

And for that I thank you.

But at time when you and I really needed to connect, we missed it. We missed it to the point I had to go through trauma therapy to be able to write and post about this as I do now. EMDR- three months. I highly recommend it.

On July 25, 2010 my daughter died in my mom’s house. She suffered a massive seizure. When paramedics arrived, there was no heartbeat but they kept working. I jumped in the ambulance as we took off to the hospital.

My husband grabbed his keys to follow behind. The detective on-scene stopped him. He told Hubs he would drive him. There was no option. Get in the car.

My parents tried to get in their cars to follow. They were told they had to stay behind.

This house in Highlands Ranch became a potential crime scene.

My husband drove with the detective. He was told that we would be separated for questioning. We were not under arrest. We were not suspects. We had done nothing wrong but this was protocol.

The hospital called our primary care physician. While she was devastated, she told the ED doc this was not unexpected- that our girl was very sick and had been for a while. The ED docs accepted this. Douglass county coroner was on their way and we all started the lifetime process of grieving our girl.

It was Sunday and the coroner had to be paged at home. According to our jurisdiction, until a body was released, we were under investigation.

Hubs and I were separated and we were not allowed to be alone in the room with Samantha. We could not leave the hospital. We were stuck; waiting for the coroner.

Oh Lord. I was so mad and sad and just let me grieve and be with her. I paced the hall like a caged tiger.

“I know how you feel,” said the young policeman denying me entrance into her room.

I may have thrown an F-bomb. I didn’t care.

How dare you.

How dare you?

“What?! How could you possibly know how I feel? You need to let me in there!”

I had pushed my luck. The room changed. People stood up, faces grew hard.

Hubs touched my arm and pulled me back. I watched people react. I was a suspect. Everything I held true about this world and my place in it had changed.

Things could go wrong very quickly. Medical evidence and doctors clearance be dammed. I was suspect.

I was so sad. I was so angry. But beyond all of those things, I was very scared.

And so I complied. I did not say another word. We said goodbye to our child with that same policeman looking over. We never had another moment alone with our girl.

They confiscated all of the meds in her diaper bag. The detective told me he was taking them. I looked in the bag and saw my Zoloft sitting on top. I joking asked if I could have that back because I might need my anti-depressants.

I told a joke because I was so afraid of doing something wrong.

Three hours later they cleared my mom to leave. Her lovely upper middle class house in Highlands Ranch was searched inch by inch. The poor dog was so traumatized he blew his entire coat for three weeks.

This was protocol. I get that. You were following step by step what was in the training manual.

I do not blame you. Any of you. But maybe we can all sit at a table and say when a traumatic event happens it is not one person against another. There is no right or wrong. Maybe we can ALL do better.

I contacted Douglas County Police. They told me all child death cases are treated the same. I asked about creating a program to first responders recognize a medically complex child.

They told me there was no budget for that reform.

What if we had been black? What if it wasn’t in Highlands Ranch? What if we were in 5 points? What if there were something suspect on either of our records? What if I fit every single profile we all talk about.

What if I fit that profile and I threw an F-bomb in the Emergency Room. Would the outcome be different? Even worse?

This is not you against me. This is us. As a community doing better.

I thank you for what you do. With all of my heart. I know this post might make some of you angry.

I implore you to think how you would have responded had it been your child.

And if you were black.

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Fight for your Joy

I got on my bike last weekend. The wheels were covered in bird poop and the tires were flat.

My bike shorts are a little snug due to embracing the COVID carbs but I pretended I was a burrito and snuggled on in anyway.

For some reason the clips were missing from my bike shoes. Seriously. Where the hell are my bike clips?

So many reasons not to ride.

Tires were pumped with a small prayer that flatness was due to neglect and not a leak. Bird poop is stubborn but scrubs off with a little persistence. Missing clips? eh. I can do it.

My friend Ging and I rode for 30 miles. Not bad for the first ride of the season, even if it’s almost June. Heart rate rose, legs got tired, Longs Peak was on my horizon.

I am so happy. I thought.

Seriously, giddy, giggly happy. As turned home, I told myself, remember this joy.

Last Friday the pools opened up in Boulder for lap swim. I reserved lane 3 at 4:00. I love summer lap swim. The water is so clear, the sun shines on your back, all you hear is your breath. I cannon balled into the pool letting the water surround me; fill my toes, my fingers, my non-showered hair.

Quiet.

Inhale.

Exhale.

My God I am so happy.

It is small. Last year it would have been insignificant. But it these times, when it is so easy to go down a deep, dark rabbit hole, I must fight for one thing.

I must fight for my joy.

I must fight for my joy.

I am a ninja-warrior, joy detective, finding moments, breathing them in and searching for others like them.

I must fight like hell to keep my head above the chatter and to know when it sucks me down. I KNOW when I am better, my head is clear. When my head is clear, my interaction with you is better. And maybe that joy can spread.

Seriously. Find it. Write it down. Inhale it. Fight for it.

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Dear America,

We need to chat.

It seems our relationship has become tangled and a bit complex in the last year or two. And to be perfectly honest, the last couple months have been a little trying.

Here’s the thing. I really, really like you. I have never doubted that a life of incredible opportunities is nestled in the fact that I was born in this country. Call me naive but I had a solid belief that we, as Americans will do the right thing. Other countries face unrest, tyranny, division, riots but not us.

Maybe its me. Maybe I became a tad complacent, snuggled in the folds of the Stars and Stripes, knowing we may not always agree but knowing that we would rally to do what is right. We are founded in a Constitution that changed the world; trusting that the precious branches of our government prevent one branch from over-shadowing the rest of the tree not only for ourselves but for the rest of humanity.

I should have fought for you harder. I should have watered that tree instead of just basking in the protective shade.

But gosh, you’ve been so strong for so long; overcome a depression, world wars, arms race. I just assumed you were okay. My bad. I should have listened. Instead of reading the paper at dinner, I should have stopped, asked you what you needed. I should have told you how amazing you are and how much I love those three beautiful branches as a way to divide control.

Can we come back? I hardly recognize you anymore. You’re quick to react, a little snippy. I’ve noticed your old friends never call you to hang out anymore and quite honestly, I’m not sure I really approve of your new friends.

But I do love you. I am grateful for all you have done. We might not get back to where we were but perhaps it can be better for both of us?

I miss you.