Sunday, June 12, 2016


It has been too hot already this year and I worry about what the summer will bring.  Most of us worry about what will be of the next few months, the nation and world sweltering, sweating, drying out. Some boil over, others simmer. Too many scald, but there have always been those kind of people.  I distract myself--put my phone away, walk barefoot over the grass, and sit on the back porch watching the only neighbors we have met--birds, bees, and deer.  The bees and birds scatter over the property, from flower to flower, back and forth doing their job.  They are the pollinators, scattering goodness across our land, dutifully and diligently.

The bees hum in unison, their voices hypnotizing.  Some with red backs, others a soft yellow.  I ask my dad why they are different colors.  "Why did the goldfinch that landed in my hand have a black back?"  he asks.  I guess it doesn't matter as long as they are happy to be here and aren't hurting anyone.  The bees favor the lavender, which the deer stay away from.  We will have every kind of lavender by the end of our mortgage, I'm convinced.

The hummingbirds are a bit more aggressive, but contribute just the same.  They quarrel between themselves, with as many as five at a time vying for a spot at the feeder.  The birds peck quickly at each other, then leave for a flower, come back when it is their turn.  Still, the red liquid remains full as they instead spend most of the time in the garden.  The purple sage flowers are thriving, again untouched by the deer, but maintained by the flying neighbors.  I am grateful for what is left behind, whether it was stripped or has time to grow.

I watch the birds putter around the garden, the bees staying put in the front yard.  Sure, they contribute to stay alive, but have a bigger purpose.  If it weren't for their work, we would be without wildflowers, without the bright hues we rely on.  Their work is good work, their flight with meaning.  They do not take as the deer do, they do not scamper when I sit and watch them.  Other birds pollinate accidentally, unintentionally--dropping a sunflower seed and not noticing it in time before it grows its sturdy stalk.  The pollinators teach to keep pushing, trying, and focusing on the flowers straight ahead.  Everything will bloom in due time.

A large female deer frequents our yard and takes what is in sight.  A few weeks later a fawn emerges behind her, saturated with white spots and walking on knobby knees.  A twin stumbles from the woods minutes later and I am reminded, though they take too much, they are doing the best they can. She is scared too, she is focused on her own. She need a bit more those weeks ago  She can't give like the birds, she is more vulnerable and can't fly away.  For those of us who can, we can always do more.

The heat looms, but the birds and bees are unfazed, the flowers bloom, and the world will keep turning.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

To Yes

Tonight, K is still at work and I'm gently being pushed out of bed by the labs.  Work has happily consumed us this year, steadily and generously.  While I have found myself using this space to complain about the lack of time in my corner, eagerly awaiting a break to garden! and cook! and take photos! I realize the busyness is just as satisfying.  Lately and possibly consciously, we do not hesitate.

We say yes.

Like, yes to driving across the state, over 500 miles total for a conference.  Yes to still-snow capped mountains and extra large cinnamon twisps.  

Yes to running here and literally.  Yes to giving up Saturdays for another event, viewing it as an opportunity to expand.  Yes to doing something really crazy, like agreeing to host an exchange student next year.  Yes, we are going to do that!  

Here's to saying yes to standing throughout an entire Bruce Springsteen concert.  Because you'll probably get few chances to dance your heart out at a four hour concert again.  And, you should always stand for him anyways.  Yes to looking up at the lights with your husband swaying next to you and belting out the songs with thousands of fans, realizing you're in the moment now.

A loud yes to anyone who is in the moment now, nowadays.  

I'm sorry, I have to take a minute to relive that in my brain.  Life altering.  

Yes to late hours, an extra part time job, a volunteer opportunity, nearing the end of the tunnel, and sacrifice. 

Yes to chasing sunsets, allowing puppies to burrow under the covers, and buying new throw pillows, again.  To another 10 minutes at the gym, an extra happy hour with friends, to donating, and to opening the windows even though it's still a bit early.

Yes to working hard, loving it all--yes to life.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

In the Mountains

We are home.

Without sounding cliche, this space here is ours, maybe it always has been.  I hold my breath when I think back on the last year of searching, waiting, and pacing.  While it seemed impossible at the time, finding the right place to lay our head down at night and build our family tree was actually easy.  Be patient, be positive, and jump when the opportunity strikes.  Cliche, yes, but true nonetheless.

Boxes are still scattered, K lost all of his ties, and the dogs have figured out there are ample opportunities to play hide and seek, but we have effortlessly found a new groove and routine.  True, we have yet to meet a single neighbor except for the family of five deer.  But friends down the street and community have filled that need.  Everything will come in due time.

I say it hasn't hit me, but at this point I'm not sure if things necessarily hit anyone.  Instead, we maybe have moments of clarity where we see ourselves suddenly but thoroughly engulfed in new roles and experiences. It didn't hit me that we are married but instead I feel the steady jolt of electricity when I reflect on the strong marriage we've developed.  This house too will not strike me now but instead in many years as hydrangeas have grown twice as large and children are busy with homework on the dining room table.  A house is one thing but it takes time to build a home.

I drive home after work, tired and worried about the little ones who I need to do more for.  The road winds along the canal and our town pushes deeper into the valley with every turn.  The mountains dip in and out of view.  On some days they are icy and crystal and vivid against the blue sky.  Mostly, unapologetically, they hide behind the marine layer as it hangs low in the evergreens.  I drive and keep my eye on above the horizon, either conversing with the mountains or telling them "fine, I'll look at the trees instead".  I turn and the road becomes the mountain, the cement creating switchbacks and the trees canopying above.

My heart rate settles and speeds up again as I climb that mountain in my car, approaching the drive way.  This is ours, on top of this mountain, where the snow falls more frequently, the dirt is filled with rocky terrain, and all the possibility of what life offers, awaits.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I couldn't write a single word tonight until I prepared my space.  The previous attempts were deleted because of their tone, direction, or forcefulness.  The lines didn't make it more than a few seconds.  I got up, cleared the desk, drew the blinds, lit a candle on top of a shitty book which inspires me to write better than that, and propped up the picture of the puppy who always reminded me to get out there and live.  The music was fine, nothing familiar to evoke a memory.  Something neutral. Not too slow, not too upbeat.

My writing space at this house has been forced.  Maybe it was also the cause of my writing hiatus this year.  I had hope for this room, an office, but it became a catch-all for bills, loose papers, extra furniture, and unpacked boxes.  The desk is preoccupied with K's graduate program requirements.  I find the surface and stack books onto another pile.  The walls around me are cluttered, but the view in front of me is in order now.  This will have to do for just a few more weeks.

I've written about my restlessness the last few months, stemmed from a feeling we are missing something.  Many would fill this void with a drastic change, a major life event or breakdown, but I also felt very comfortable with my external choices.   So I confronted it, analyzed it, decided to let it win for awhile, wrote about it, and then let it go.  And of course, the best things happen when you decide to do the latter.

We've been searching for a home the last year.  At first we were just unprepared.  And then we just had a terrible lender who made the process unbearable.  We made an offer on a house and were thisclose, but about two hours late after a previous offer.  The market over here cannot compare to the horrors experienced in King County, I will say that.  Our problem was simply higher than ourselves:  we were not finding a home because our home was not available yet.  K and I both vowed to take a break, uninstall the app from our phones, and not even mention 3 bedrooms, 2 baths until late fall.

As cliche as it is, and man is it cliche, things will find you--whether it be love or success, when you let them come to you.  Stop looking.  You're on the path, but haven't walked far enough yet.  Our home came on the market late August with  a very motivated seller and we will close in a few weeks.  It has all we had on the checklist--wood fireplace, quiet neighborhood, safe streets, bonus room for sleep overs, and enough space to grow.

 My restlessness in trying understand where to go next has been replaced with absolute disbelief.  I cannot believe we will get to live there.  Not just occupy a space and sleep under it's roof, but really live.  Joys and heartaches, births and deaths, the mundane and the extraordinary will take place on that ground.  I will watch trees grow and know their branches like the back of my hand.  I will sow asparagus and lilacs.  I will experiences many snowy winters and lay in the grass at the end of hot summer days.  It may be the home we share until we no longer share a home in the physical world.

We moved here/back nearly 4 years ago but adopted a bit of a drifter lifestyle.  First with my parents, then at the home on the island, and now here in this place which just is what it is.  Not us, never us, a cluttered space.  I look at the walls and recognize our belongings but think they're out of place.  But now, we will plant roots.  We will dig them in deep right away.  K will have a home in a life when homes were not always guaranteed.  We will have people around us to connect our roots to, watch babes grow up, and extend our community with.  Soon, very soon but not soon enough, we will turn a key and welcome each other home.

This whole time, as the summer harvest bloomed and stretched to the sky, we were climbing.  Transition is an after thought, not often realized.  In the midst of living, boom!  Just like that, everything can change.

The next time I write, I will have a different view.  Though, I may sneak in a quick post like I did on the eve of everything changing last time.  Or the time before.  I haven't daydreamed about my kitchen or bedroom like I have that bonus room.  Near the door, our bookshelves will stand, filled with the memories from our years together and apart.  The extra TV and my parent's futon will sit parallel to each other, for those days when someone needs to get away.  But from the hallway, I will see this desk, the blue curtains, a candle, and that shitty book.  My writing space, looking out at the evergreens, it wasn't even on the checklist.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Doe Writing: Why I Write

Last year, I attended Write Doe Bay, kinda really hated it, didn't relate to anyone, felt way too far away from home, and stopped writing for a solid eight months.  It was probably for personal reasons--I am still shy and introverted, but I was disappointed in the promise of Doe.  Everyone kept talking about it being magical. Except when you hype up the idea of magic, you're most likely disappointed in the lack of magic.  I think I wrote about that too.

We spent the days not writing very much, sprawled on the floor, all fifty something of us packed in one room.  Afterwards, in the evenings, we were encouraged to attend film festivals and music performances but I mostly stayed behind and wrote.  It felt awkward to do so at a writing workshop.  I want to put a question mark at the end of that sentence. Another writer stated "I am so impressed that you're writing", when she stopped by our bunk. What?  I came home proud of what I created in between and will share a few pieces in the next couple of weeks.  Most were quick observations, some very bitchy in part because I had spent my personal leave to attend, a bit raw and uncensored, but all to distract and ignite some creative spark.

Why I Write

There was a time, not so long ago, when I knew I had to rely on myself.  The belief was based on disappointing relationships and too much given to others.  The people in my life were not neglectful and none of this applies to K of course, but you cannot rely solely on a spouse.  I do believe, however, you can on yourself.  Never have I been abandoned, tormented, forgotten or left behind.  But deep within I believed the greatest relationship I would ever have would be with me.

Experiences and great loves have unlocked aspects of myself and aided in my own self-relationship.  Writing became a way of checking in.  It was not always good or consistent but it did do the trick every time.  This weekend, I found the trick worked.  Artists around me dredged on in self-angst.  Some still tormented by past demons, others just complaining for sake of script.

If nothing else,  I come away knowing I was right.  And you can be a know it all about things pertaining to your relationship with yourself.  It is a one way street.  So, I lay here and write to me, among so many who are too angry or shallot to see.  They are waiting for a love they are not ready to receive or a trauma they could prepare to heal.  And I instead will keep trying to be more, for the sole purpose of bettering myself.

It struck me how I am not writing about what has happened to me, more so I am writing what I am doing for myself.  The other writers share their "story", their pain, except I don't really have any.  We share very little back story and I wonder if it is on purpose.  To not muddy the words we share of even the playing field.  So much of my writing, all perhaps, revolves and relies on who I am.  My roles.  Wife, nurse, friend, bad friend, etc.  That's what I write about.  Washingtonian.  That's what I am. Tonight, I am writing.  For the first time in a long time, I am taking the time to write.

I walked down to the beach today and sat on the driftwood, like I've done hundreds of times before with the same drops of water. I sat and stared and tuned out everything else.  It felt peaceful and I was happy.  A presenter, an actual writer herself, came down with her friend, kicked a few rocks off the shore, lit a cigarette, and shrugged at the view then headed back towards the cabins.  On their way out, she asked if I was alright.  Of course I was, I've got me.

I feel very different from them all and it seems like a good thing.  I came here looking for something and am surprised by my progress at home.  So much is already figured out, the hard work was done a long time ago.  That's what I'll take with me.  It took going to Orcas to really understand what Iv'e created in myself.  

Season for Resolutions

It has rained, sometimes violently, for the past four days.  A welcomed sight.  We kept the windows opened, listening to the wind and water hit the house, the dew entering our lungs.  This rain, it can keep falling.  This summer, the fires spread across the state, leaving the air thick and the sky grim.  Friends and family on the other side of the mountains, as we say here, prayed the line would hold and spare their communities. Burn bans held and the rain stayed away.  This was the summer without bonfires, aware of the danger one spark could produce in the backyard.

Now, the rain falls.  It is a familiar sound, smell, and temperature.  We are ready for the fall and however it may begin to heal.

I've said too many times before, fall is my New Year's Eve. It makes more sense in my rational, sentimental, and occasionally skeptical brain to even attempt resolution making in the dead of winter.  After the high of the holidays and the lows of the dark and cold days? No one succeeds.  But right now with the promise of the best fashion has to offer and vibrant color-changing leaves?  The iron is hot.

Today was my last day of summer vacation and I'm relieved.  I've found something out about myself in the last few years.  Only, it's something recently present but I guess people can change and are ever evolving.  I LIKE working.  I thrive on the routine and schedule.  I define success in large part to what I am able to accomplish in my career.  So this staying home business, away from the interaction and ability to impact other's lives, it's so not for me.  I worry someday this feeling will be made out as wrong.  To which I'll have to reply something snarky and get on with it.  The new year, with new work-day tasks and goals.  I am celebrating.

This last day of summer I got stung by a wasp/yellow jacket/I'm still unsure.  I reached for the vase which displays my finest dahlias and immediately felt the sting when my finger dipped below the petals.  The finger swelled and the perpetrator was no where to be found.  Later, as the reddened area cooled, the insect was crawling at the back screen door waiting to be let out.  It is time to get out of the house, I agreed.

My resolutions are the same: write, move, laugh, experience, record, do better, and understand more. Less iPhone pictures, more with the real camera.   Heartier, sustainable meals.  Classical music.  Vinyl records.  Pen to paper.  Long talks about issues and ideas.  Walks with greater distances.  I ask myself lately if what I am doing right now is making me better, smarter, more compassionate and understanding of others.  Am I engaging my muscles and benefiting my body.  Am I reengaging areas of my mind.  Am I doing all I can?

It is fall, though the calendar says otherwise,  I can feel it.  We'll keep the windows open for months to let the fall air take over.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What It's All About

I use to keep this notebook in my very early 20's.  And when I say "keep", I mean not only would I write in it, I would take it everywhere with me.  A free moment on the ferry: I would reflect.  Run across an inspirational quote or relevant comic?  Add it to the pages.  Frustrated with what it all means?  Jot it down and return to it in a few months.  The leather bounding was multicolored, with a warning inside the front cover.  "This leather will fade and change colors throughout the years" due to it's fine craftsmanship or something like that.  Perfect, I thought.  I will too.

The notebook came about at a very tumultuous time in my life.  I was madly in love with a boy (though I know know it wasn't like that at all) who I thought was madly in love with me too.  Except, he was both terrible at showing me towards the end nor able to break things off.  We went back and forth for months.  Holidays and birthdays would bring about a renewal, things would be just okay for awhile, and then it would start all over again.  I hated myself knowing I was the one keeping this charade going.  So I bought the notebook and began to write, really write for once in my newly acquired adult life.

A page use to exist towards the front of this notebook.  It has escaped me long ago what prompted the writing on that page, but it became a moment of lucidity addressed to my future self.  Because of the last few months, I knew the time would come again when I would cave.  The pain would follow.  So I wrote a message to myself filled with self-worthy praise, love, and hope.

I ripped it out later.

The evidence remained: it wasn't a clean rip.  A corner of tattered paper stayed behind, blank, but nonetheless loud and clear.  I remembered why I had placed the message and could see clearly I had fallen for the trap anyways.

It wasn't until I threw all of his mementos and love notes into the dumpster did I become free.  The writing was the fuel, a reminder to not forget to light the match.

Writing via blogging replaced the notebook slowly a few years ago.  Equate it to all the other times in my life when I started a new journal.  In some form, writing has stayed with me.  Never perfect, often grammatically awkward, trying to be honest, I write to stay grounded.  Sometimes, even unconsciously, the words appear months later and have new meaning as if it was message from a lucid moment or a torn corner.

I looked everywhere for that notebook today.  I can't find it.  It's here somewhere, most likely in a box unpacked, surrounded by my real love's letters and treasures.  The cover surely changed but so gradual I may not notice.

It should be on the bookshelf, but might not have a place right now.

Every year I would write about what it's like to be that age.  20, confused about the path to take, alone in a studio apartment in Seattle, walking across to grab take-out Mexican, I am hopeful about the future but not sure if I will be loved again.  23, trying to work out the kinks, this is real love--I get it now, how do I define myself on the other side of the country?  27, hand me down furniture, dog hair everywhere, our plates still in boxes, moving back is not as easy as I thought it would be.


I thought a lot about what I am about the last few days. It began with confidence, followed by doubt, reflection, and total dialysis.

I am most aware in the car and the shower.  Times when recording my thoughts are difficult.

Sometimes I can be out of my mind with anger, intensity, and misguided passion.  And then I feel really guilty.

I am a quietly opinionated mix of liberal ideas and conservative intentions.

When I have an idea or plan, I become too focused on the details and outcome.

I try to give the benefit of the doubt.  I really do try.

I am passionate about my community, new ways of doing things, and pursuing more educational opportunities.  I think that sentence is very preachy and self-righteous.

Before I met my husband, I had a narrow view of how the world and families function.  Since him, I have a system of checks and balances.

I can be stubborn and crass.  But I am not stubborn nor crass.

I have made mistakes.  I make some people crazy.

I do not prolong suffering.

Nostalgia makes me both emotional and wary.

Expectations for others are high but highest for myself.

The core weaknesses have remained: music, cooking, gardening, photography, writing, exercise, gift giving, Labradors, forests, bodies of water, long drives, and rice krispy treats.

I am sarcastic but intending to show love.

This all feels too exposed but I make myself do it.

Often, I give too much and set myself up for disappointment.

I am a valued nurse, loving wife, devoted daughter, and awkward friend.  I would like to work on the last one but am hesitant to try.

I am changing.  I have changed.  I am well intentioned and constantly self-evaluating.

This abbreviated version is how I am at 30, so far.  Aware this is all determinant against the filters, perspectives, and experiences of those I encounter in the world.

I am not always what I was.  But, I am always, always, working on it.

I'll keep evolving.  I'll keep writing, knowing I may read the words differently down the road.  The good will always outweigh the bad, I believe.   The notebook will show up again in a place where I had already checked.  The bookshelves will fill.  We will buy more and unpack another box.  A mixture of mine, his, ours, the past, the future we haven't discovered yet.  I'll read the words of the 23 year old again and smile at how it all turned out, proud of myself for trying.   Someday, I'll reflect upon this post and gawk at what I didn't know.

I can't always put thoughts or feelings into the right words.  This blog serves the purpose to simply maintain focus, create perspective for myself, and preserve the reflections I would otherwise forget about.  It has exactly two readers, who will correct sentence structure, understand lines on the screen, and recognize the progress.  It is not a weapon, statement, or podium.

It is a message to myself to remember who you are.  Where you've been.  What you've seen.  What you've learned.  What you hope to discover.  Keep taking photos of the land you love.  Try new restaurants in every corner of the state.  Create lists and mock your attempts at completing them.  Review your years and see how far you've come.  Remember the lessons you gained in Pennsylvania.  Make mistakes. Fill your shelves and walls with a well-lived life.  Regret, then understand, then regret nothing.  Say your good-byes and look for opened arms. Hug trees.  Jump in lakes.  Don't jump in canals anymore, it's kinda dangerous.   Be honest.  Be open to it all

Keep writing. Jot it all down and see what happens.