Saturday, July 14, 2012

OUT OF THE ASHES




“I don’t really know how I got here.”
This has been my answer at least fifty times since I started. The truth is that I know exactly how I came to perch on a ledge about a million miles away from my old life: I came swooping in on the wings of the Phoenix. My feet were buried up to my calves in thick, black soot. My life was charred beyond recognition. The sparkplug I once was had ignited, sending me spiraling down in flames. Everything I was clinging to came down with me. At the time, it didn't feel so bad. A life in ashy existence can be tempting. It's so easy to sink into the soft edges of grey fog and pretend it's just another kind of down comforter to get buried in. The muted debris of my wreckage grabbed ahold of me with its silky fingers. It pulled my weak knees to the earth and my trembling chin up to the heavens.

The smoke lifted and in a burst of color I woke up. There used to be a dull hum swirling around me and its suddenly been replaced by a gentle roar. Here I am. Even though I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be, I dig my heels deep into the vibrating floor in protest. I am an earth sign. A little bull born in the middle of May. I know it seems silly to align myself with something as esoteric as astrology, but these days I can’t help it. I wrap my heart in a security blanket of things I know, starting with the things that have been with me all along. The time zone I sleep in changes weekly, but where the stars and moon were on the day I was born hasn’t budged once since I set out on this journey. My nature hasn’t budged either. I’m as stubborn as the little girl who used to stomp her feet in protest when she didn’t want to do something.

On this particular evening, I’m in over my level head and I'm on the edge of throwing a silent tantrum. I’m certain my body, and my feet, were not built to burn. Like all the other sturdy bovine crawling the surface of this planet, I always believed that I was meant to stand still with my herd, quietly staring in one direction, watching as heavy clouds roll over the flatlands toward us. I’m not a fire sign and I'm not meant to burn. I’m sure of it. Or am I? 


Until now, I‘ve shushed the firecracker that lives within me. Yet here she is again, a giggling gypsy that continually insists on barreling into emotional bonfires. She’s the one who got this job, clinging to life on the wings of a mythical bird, rising above the mess I created. The hungry one with an insatiable appetite for life and love and anything messy. She faced the wind, long hair tumbling behind her, and let her heart catch fire. She vowed to write a new story, but was brave enough to promise never ever to forget the old tale. She wakes up every morning and pushes past a racing heart and shallow breath to be the first in line for an odd and curious life; a life she had to dig deep and have the guts to ask for.

She is the woman who guided us here and I in turn will be the girl that will walk across fire just to prove she can stay. This was not expected. I just got out of the coals and now I’m supposed to walk across them? My old wounds have only just turned into fresh scars and yet here I am again. The heat is undeniable every direction I turn. Behind me, the massive energy of thousands pushes against me. To my left, just out of reach, is safety. He looks at me with both bemusement and fierce protection. He is the promise of something sweet at the end of all of this.
Above me comes a deafening call to find my core. My new boss places one hand on my shoulder while I place a palm on my center. He bellows over the sweaty cacophony, “Are you ready!?” I look at the path of glowing embers. I’ve been here before. The only way out is through. My brain says no as my head and heart nod yes.
I take as deep of a breath as I can manage and at the same time take the first step. I put both feet in and don’t stop until I reached the other side. A garden hose, a hug and my new life are waiting patiently with open arms.
Moments will bounce and skitter and land at your feet. Some will matter and some will be tossed aside. If there is one thing I know now, it's that a bursting heart can fill an empty one. I’m sure of it. Like wine glasses colliding at a rowdy dinner party, crimson droplets will splash and smatter against a yearning pulse and change it forever. It may only be one moment in time and not meant to last a second more than that, but if you allow it, it can change your life.
“I thought for sure you were going run.” He’s mocking me as an Ace of Base chorus floats over our sticky dive bar table. We are in the middle of a dimly lit Australian haunt. My feet still feel the heat, but I’m learning to bask in the glow. Sitting here, I finally feel my familiarity. I think about it for a second and smile. It’s funny. Yes, I'm moving forward, but I think I’m done running.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

I resolve to remember to resolve...

One New Year's Eve a few years ago I had the fantastic idea that everyone should write down their resolutions, fold them into tiny pieces and burn them under the night sky, the stars as our witness. My brilliance was short lived. After a night of bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles I woke up with a throbbing brain and absolutely no memory of what in the world I resolved to do in 2000 and whatever year it was.

This year I will be more reasonable; I won't shoot for the stars and you will all be my witness. My resolution for 2011 is to use less plastic water bottles and paper coffee cups.

My bro in-law, Bryan, started me off on the right foot. For Christmas, he gave me an "I Am Not a Paper Cup" from one of his local spots in Bend, Thump Coffee.




As for my watery ways, I have a SIGG Bottle from lululemon that needs to spend more time in my bag and less time rolling around the backseat of my car, while I keep grabbing for a Smart Water.



What's your New Year's resolution?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shape-ups? Go ahead and ship out.

I just saw a commercial for Shape-ups, the ugly shoes that apparently give you a leg and butt workout. The spokesperson, Brooke Burke, wants you to know that "the gift that keeps giving" is the perfect Christmas present.

No, no, no! If you want to make it through the holidays alive, DO NOT even think about it. Using Christmas morning as the time to not-so-subtly suggest that someone needs to work out is completely inappropriate.

Here is what you can do. You can get them sexy and adorable athletic wear that easily goes from Downward Dog to Sunday coffee. I'm a HUGE fan of lululemon athletica:

The Pacific Hoodie. Thick fleece to get you through the winter. I like it almost as much as I like the guy wearing it. I'd like him to get me through the winter.

Super thick, super cozy and super cute Scuba Hoodie with some sparkle for the holiday season. 

Lululemon makes the BEST yoga pants on the planet. Women love them because they make their asses look amazing. Men love them because they make women's asses look amazing. Now in an organic version. 




Monday, December 20, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...


No need to wait for summer. Ray Bans are a year-round favorite. I love my bubble-wraps in gold/champagne; less teardrop than the original aviator.
A quirky Holiday USB Drive loaded songs and pictures that remind you of that special little elf on your list.

It's that time of year: time to fight the doldrums. Keep their spirits up with Vitamin D drops (I add it to my water bottle every morning).


I think everyone loves good breath. These Altoid Smalls are adorable and effective. 


I'm a huge fan of Rosebud Salve. I use it on my lips, nails and even my elbows. It usually comes in a metal tin, which can get messy, but they just released a tube version of the cult favorite. 


I know the iPhone 4 is going to lots of good boys and girls this year. Why not throw them off? Stuff the stocking with the big ticket item and skip the wrapping.
It's a toothbrush made out of yogurt cups! Sign up the little ones for the Jr. Toothbrush Subscription. They'll receive a new toothbrush (that features a different endangered species) every three months and then they can send their old one in to be recycled. They also make products for the big kids.
I'm not saying I'll throw out my hoops, but Diamond Earrings have an amazing way of making everyday wear seem anything but. Every woman deserves some timeless jewelry in her collection. These are from Twist and I love the refreshing take on the traditional prong setting.
      
Socks are always the last thing I want to buy for myself, but a pair of Happy Socks for someone else? Absolutely.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Week of the Gentleman, Part Three.



I often forget the rules of male etiquette. I forget the ritual. Sorry, guys, but a lot of you have allowed your chivalrous sides to fade, if it was ever even there to begin with. It's not your fault. We've beaten it out of you. We perch on our soapboxes, legs crossed, wearing three-inch heels, waving our hands and barking at you that we don't need a man. We can open our own doors, thank you very much.

It's true, I might not need a man. I just want one. A gentleman. A couple of weeks ago I silently went out and about with my own little social experiment. I paid attention to how men treated me when I let them be men instead of sabotaging every kind gesture that came my way, via a nice fellow, with my classic female antics. The results were refreshing. They also reminded me how nice it is to be a lady on ocassion.

What happened to me once, twice, even several times, by many different men, while I was paying attention?

·      The door was opened for me.
·      His coat was wrapped around my shoulders.
·      I had help with my coat.
·      My seat was pulled out for me.
·      He found out what I was having and ordered for both of us.
·      He kept my glass full.
·      He offered me an arm while we wandered down city sidewalks.
·      He walked on the outside of the sidewalk.
·      He asked if he could get me anything.
·      Then he fought the crowds to get it.
·      He was on time.
·      He let me take a break from making the decisions.
·      He paid. Discreetly and without fanfare.
·      He led up the stairs as well as down.
·      He listened, made eye contact and asked questions.

I might draw some criticism, but I don't care. Being taken care of was astonishingly pleasant. Like huge-smile-long-after-the-night-was-over pleasant. To bear witness to tiny testimonies from the men that care about me was luxurious.

Let me be clear. Manners are important not just for men, but for women and the little humans we're raising, as well.  It's a part of our language. It's how we tell people who we are and how we were raised. Guess what? You can open the door for me anytime. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

...right down Santa Claus Lane

Food is so hot right now. From maple bars with bacon at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland to Wagyu Tenderloin (served with caramelized onion puree, oyster mushrooms and foie gras butter) at Canlis in Seattle, boring is out and edgy eating is in. We all like to feel like we know what we are talking about, or at least what we are ordering, when we go out. Being a server forever (Seriously. For. Ev. Er.), I'll fill you in on our not so dirty little secret: Food Lover's Companion. Every server station has one and so should you. 

Does your special someone know what the five "mother sauces" are? They will now. This is the perfect present for the burgeoning foodie on your Christmas list. Even better? Now there's an app for that... How fun is that!? You'll never feel like an idiot at Clyde Common again, I promise.


68

The Week of the Gentleman, Part Two.

Dear Joaquin,

The day I met you was one of the best days of my life. I remember when your mom told me she was pregnant. It was May 15th, the day before my seventeenth birthday. We were at Double Bluff Beach, knee-deep in the salty waters of Useless Bay, when my big sister told me she was having a baby. A baby? Awe overwhelmed me. A baby!

Next we went to Village Pizzeria where she filled in some of her closest friends. Joy was sweeping through this village! Phoebe told me she was going to tell Grandpa Gary that night and that Arwen and I were going, too. Period. I think she was a little nervous. She brought blackberry pie (his favorite) and served it with a side of, "I'm having a baby!" I stared wide-eyed at the whole thing. I couldn't imagine telling dad about a boy, let alone telling him he was going to be a grandpa, but he was thrilled. On that rare warm spring night, he hugged her and we all ate pie. 

Days turned into months. Your mom took a lot of naps and we wondered out loud if the crescent moon tattoo on her belly would ever wane back to normal. I'd go over after school and watch movies while your dad worked at a local restaurant. We'd eat ice cream and whatever else she was craving. I forgot that I wasn't pregnant and started eating for two. Your due date creeped closer and soon it was Pompa's 50th birthday. It was Friday the 13th. We had a big surprise party at Bayview Corner. When he walked in, everyone was holding up masks of his face that had been glued onto popsicle sticks. It was creepy. Phoebe wore a note around her neck that said, "Yes. Dec. 25th. A boy. We're not telling." It was a pretty funny way to answer all the questions all at once.

And then all at once, it was December 16th. There was a very big wind storm that day. My big final project for Contemporary World Problems was due that day. The power was out and I was sitting in Chemistry with Brooke. We were waiting for the word that we all got to go home. The phone rang and Mr.Westling told me to go to the office. It was happening. The baby was coming!

I hauled ass (sorry, I mean butt) to Arwen's house in Langley and we took off for the midwife's birthing house in Greenbank. Arwen realized that she had forgotten the Christmas cards that she was working on. She turned around. The baby was coming and she was turning around! I freaked out. Who do you think won? We paced and sat and paced some more. Well, I did. Arwen addressed envelopes. Grandpa Gary and Grandma Shannon were there, too. And then... "She wants her sisters." I freaked out again, pulled it together and walked in behind Arwen. 

Honna and Bryan were on either side of her. Your dad's glasses were fogged in all the commotion and he was struggling to see. You arrived seconds after we walked in. I lost my legs and fell to my knees. A baby! When they handed you to me, my life changed. I suddenly knew what unconditional love meant. I would stand in front of a train for you. I would walk to the ends of the earth for you. I would do anything for this little human.

I immediately sensed your brilliance. I knew that this world had better watch out and I was right. You are an amazing young man. Surrounded by a funny family and a gaggle of wacky women has given you so many facets to work with. You embrace everyone with compassion and respect. You, mister, are such a gentleman. You have wisdom far beyond your thirteen years and I have no doubt that you will be wildly successful at whatever you attempt. You already are. You're a great big brother to Ian, an awesome son, a fantastic student and from what I hear, a pretty amazing violinist. You also rock at being a nephew. I am an "Auntie" to dozens and I wear the title proudly, but I never forget who was first.  

Happy birthday, Joaquin. May your every wish come true!

Love, Auntie Sarah