When people start to question your dreams or goals or aspirations (as we humans often do), you just go right on ahead and take a page out of Dewey Finn's (School of Rock, highly underrated film) manifesto...
While we're preaching the truth...
And finally, a great piece of advice from Ms. Amy Poehler, who is hilarious, talented and a total bad ass chick in show biz and life:
“Listen, say yes, live in the moment, make sure you play with people who have your back, make big choices early and often, and don’t start a scene where two people are talking about jumping out of a plane - start the scene having already jumped."
Happy Friday! Enjoy your 3-day weekends :)
Love and Light,
Has anyone ever seen a baby pigeon? Grown-up pigeons are everywhere in every city you've ever been to, I'm sure...but have you ever seen an actual baby?
I have. And let me tell you...it is not cute. No offense to our feathered-street-walking-why do they always have mangled feet-friends, of course, but oh my lord with a side of sweet baby jeebus...they are u-g-l-y.
It looks like another pigeon couple has set up shop (and by shop I mean a nest) in our office window and I've decided to document the days until the little critters hatch for no other reason than it is so weird and strangely satisfying to look at a baby pigeon! I can't decide if this pigeon couple is the most ghetto or most bad ass nest building duo ever; using only a few twigs and a Diet Coke can.
Here's momma taking her turn nesting:
And big poppa performing some fatherly duties....
How do I know which pigeon is which sex, you ask? Let's just say I have seen this pair, on multiple occasions, getting Olivia Newton John "Physical" with each other. Yikes. The yuckiest part about this is that as time goes on it's going to get more and more difficult to see the nest due to the accumulation of...well...poo on the window. Grosser than gross, I know.
Since we'll be tracking this family for a bit I decided we should make it more personal.
Let's vote on a name, shall we?
Rock the Vote!
On Monday, The Grateful Life and my post of a letter to my 16 year old self received the most unique views to date and a plethora of kind words and support.
If I could tell you all in person, I would. If I could express to you--face to face--just how much your readership means to me, I know you would hear the sincerity in my voice (and be especially convinced when I grab you for a bear hug).
What else could I possibly say?
To express my gratitude to my readers I decided the next best thing to "paying" someone back is to pay it forward. Which I did, with the help of my dear friend Drea, at one of my favorite charity organizations--The San Francisco Food Bank.
We trekked to the clean and incredibly organized warehouse, happy to assist the friendly and generous team of Food Bank employees with preparing bags of pinto beans...
Dang I make that hairnet look good!
By the end of the night (just 2 short hours) the volunteers had bagged and boxed 2,500lbs of beans--which, according to the staff, would help to feed 7,500 families in San Francisco. 7,500!! Can you believe that?! They told us that without the daily help of volunteers from the community the Food Bank would need to hire 55 full time employees to produce the same amount of goods.
So, from me to you, thank you for inspiring me to not only continue on my journey of writing this blog but also for giving me the perfect excuse to pay it forward. Your light and love helped me to share mine and for that I am especially grateful :)
Ten years ago I met a fabulous young lady during my first stint as a dance and cheerleading summer camp counselor for the local YMCA. It was kind of a rough summer for me; lots of emotional ups and downs, growing pains and typical teenage fighting with my parents. Coming to work each day was always a welcomed relief to escape my swirly, angst-y 17 year old thoughts. My new friend Steph (who is a few years my senior) was a wonderful confidant and sounding board. She was always kind and supportive, fun and caring. We connected deeply early on in the summer and continued to genuinely enjoy each others company as the weeks rolled by. Her advice always seemed to resonate perfectly with my current emotions and I was (am) eternally grateful for her words of encouragement. In short, I completely adored and looked up to her.
I was thrilled to learn a few months ago that Steph and her new husband (but partner of many years), John, were going to be venturing out to San Francisco for vacation. We immediately began to plan a meet up and my excitement grew as the trip got closer....we hadn't seen each other in 7 years!
It's true what they say about real friendships; neither time nor distance can change or affect the connection you have with one another. Sometimes when I reunite with folks I haven't seen for awhile I find myself feeling a little anxious; unsure if we will run out of things to talk about or if we have grown too separate to really mesh the way we once did. I didn't, however, have this fear about Steph and when I opened the car to greet her with a hug it was as if we were right back on those YMCA gymnastic mats, giggling over cute life guards and warming up with the kids.
When Steph first mentioned she and John were taking some photography courses and really finding enjoyment in it I told her what I tell all of my friends who are considering pursuing a new passion; whatever it is that makes your pulse race, you go for it. In just a few short months they've put together a really lovely collection of photographs of their adventures, travels and every day life. I love that they use photography as an escape from daily stress. I also love that they embody a philosophy of celebrating and capturing the beauty of life; it is all worth remembering, big or small.
Check out their Etsy Collection here: The Durfs
And their Facebook page here: The Durfs Photography
They also do custom photos---people can email them with an idea or a quote and then they go for it! They charge $50 an hour to go out and shoot (it usually takes an hour) and then charge for the photo. Some examples can be found here.
Below you'll find a handful of my favorites from their trip to San Francisco. There were SO many to choose from, but these were the ones that hit me in a certain way. Thank you Steph and John for sharing your beautiful photos of my amazing city with me!
Cheers to reunions with old, wonderful friends in new, fabulous cities!
ps- the new header to my blog is also the work of Mr. and Mrs. Durfee :) Pretty sweet, right?
The road ahead is twisty and turny. It is sometimes rocky under your feet like the old gravel driveway leading up to the farm. It is also sometimes soft and dewy, like summer morning grass in the backyard by the swing-set; cushioned and protected by years of barefoot play. It is filled with adventure and growth, laughter and tears. You lead a big life. A bold life. You lead an incredibly fortunate and blessed life.
You know those friends you have that seem so connected to you? You are right. These are the keepers. These are the ones to continue to invest your time and love and energy into. Continue to partner with them and I promise you beautiful years of laughter and support lie ahead. New, wonderful friends are also waiting for you. The Universe has a handful of truly special people stashed in its back pocket, ready to play their cards exactly when you need them. With that in mind--be open. Closing yourself off is giving into fear and you, my darling, are not one to shy away at the first sign of nerves.
And you know those friends that some days you aren't too sure about? You are right again. Let them go. Send them love and light, and release them. You've learned what you could and we are grateful for that. You are brave enough to move forward without them.
Hug your 13 year old sister. She is your greatest ally.
You will make some pretty painful mistakes over the next few years. If I'm honest (and I really want to be honest with you), in many ways you will lose yourself. You will experience moments of deep regret, guilt, sadness and hurt. You will feel the sting of a bruised ego as well as the ache of a broken heart. You will question yourself a thousand times a day. These are scary times. These are times when not everyone will understand your decisions and even you will wonder if you have any idea what you're doing. Fact is, you probably don't. Who really does? You'll intermittently listen to your gut and ignore your gut. Sometimes the voice of *you* will scream so loud it sends vibrations down your spine and you will still ignore her. But I'm here to tell you two big things; 1. You are not broken--you will be OK. and 2. You learn. Man, do you learn.
Take a deep breath. Be kind to others. Your temper is a spark; use it for good and not for the fleeting and ugly satisfaction of retaliation or revenge. Start choosing your words more carefully--a place of love is always the place to start. Always.
When a romantic relationship doesn't work out...and hunny, 99% of them won't...please remember that this is not a reflection of your worth. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know; we are all so complicated and different. We all have our struggles. Placing blame on them OR yourself will not do anyone any good. It will serve you best to wish them well on their journey (even when you may want to curse them with anything but wellness...). Time is the great equalizer--though it is also the one thing you cannot rush. Therefore, be present. There is no need to dwell in the past, there is no guaranteed future; there is only right now. In life you will take many risks. As a result sometimes really great things will happen and sometimes really negative things will. But if you don't take these risks, then nothing will happen--and that is far worse. So try to remember not to close your heart off, no matter how many times it feels kicked to the pit of your stomach. Try to remember to love as much as you possibly can. If the train doesn't stop at your platform, it's simply not your train.
Do. Not. Stop. Dancing.
Those dreams and desires you mull over at night? You still have them. Pursue them. Give life to them. Never give up on them.
Sweet girl I'm so proud of you. Praise and recognition make you terribly uncomfortable, I know this, but it's time you start embracing it. You will continue to get stronger, even in your weakest moments. Stand tall, keep going. You are loving and lovable.
Be brave. Be bold. Be excited for what is to come....I know I am.
ps- easy on the hair coloring, OK? You actually are pretty cute as a natural brunette...
I have to take a moment to send a big thank you to Miss Brittany for the beautiful scarf from Thailand! How sweet you are to think of me during your adventures abroad :) I *love* it and will send you love and light each time I wear it! These kinds of gifts are my favorites; unique, unexpected, beautiful, comes with a story and has traveled an ocean to get to me. Me and my elephant scarf are two little happy peas in a pod;
I've said it before and I'll say it a thousand more times; I LOVE my job. These boys (me and 9, soon to be 10 of them! our family is growing!) are so kind, patient and fun. I laugh out loud at least 10 times a day here (the big kind of laugh out loud, not just a giggle)...what a blessing! I'm grateful they put up with my hokey side on things like the Food For Thought board I now keep in the kitchen. They are incredibly open and I like (love) it. Tonight we'll have a little bonding time on an adventure they voted on....a taco crawl in the Mission! Woot! I better bring the Tums....
You know what else I love? My readers. I found out that several of you generously donated to two causes I've blogged about; Organ Donation and Team Tassy. All I can say is wow--you've made me quite the grateful gal. I'm touched and humbled by your kindness and support...thank you so, so much. There are thousands of worthy charities and causes that deserve people's attention and help out there and you stepped it up to support ones that are important to me? Dang. You are serious rock stars! Please feel free to contact me if you ever have a cause near and dear to your hearts; I'd love to be there for you in any way I can! My heart is so humbled to be a part of this community of gratitude and giving we're building; sharing with you is truly the highlight of my day :)
I am a heart on her sleeve kinda gal.
I am a cry when I'm sad, cry when I'm happy, cry when I'm overwhelmed or overcome being.
I cry when someone tells me a touching truth about their lives; not just because of the tale itself, but because they are trusting me with their story, their thoughts and feelings. I cry because sharing with another person on intimate levels always fills me with waves of sympathy, empathy or gratitude and these emotions often manifest in the form of tears.
I'll cry listening to a song; on the speakers in my room, on my iPod as I'm walking or on the stereo in my car. I have cried at concerts, too. Sometimes it's because of the lyrics, sometimes the melody. Sometimes it's because of a memory the song brings to the surface. I've always marveled at music's power in that way--how a song can truly bring you right.back.*there*.
I'll cry watching the final episode of a favorite TV series. I mean have you seen the Golden Girls finale? When Dorothy says "This has been an experience I'll hold very close to my heart. These are memories I'll wrap myself in when the world gets cold and when I forget that there are people who are warm and caring. Your friendship was something I never expected at this point in my life...I love you...always...You're angels, all of you... You'll always be my sisters... always." I just about die.
My sister and I had a wonderful heart to heart this past weekend when I was back in NJ. Our relationship has always been a very close one but in recent years it has grown into something quite beautiful. It's a special phenomenon, growing up with a sister; tea parties and firefly catching evolving to coffee dates and long walks, arguments over small childhood jealousies being settled by Mom to hardly-ever-a-disagreement being lovingly discussed to a resolution. To be honest, I only remember one significant "fight" with my sister from my entire life. It ended fairly quickly because it was too unsettling to be even the slightest bit upset with her. It felt unnatural. How wonderful that our relationship was not built to live in any state but a joyous one :) Watching her grow and being an active part of each other's lives has been one of the greatest blessings I've known. We discussed a number of things during our chat on Saturday morning, including what it feels like to mull over regrets and coulda, shoulda, wouldas; how the "what if's" can consume a person in powerful ways. As she spoke honestly about recently losing an important figure in her life I gave my baby sister the only piece of encouragement I could think of in the moment--I told her that she had no reason to be ashamed of grief or regretful of difficult decisions. She had loved big. And when you take that risk of loving big, sometimes you hurt big, too. There is never any shame in that.
After she left I realized that sitting on the couch of a friends apartment (where I had crashed the night before) with her felt just as much like home as when I'm in my kitchen in San Francisco making my grandmother's french toast for friends. It felt just as much like home as when I'm snuggled in bed with my best friend and her new dog, and as much as when I'm out to dinner enjoying the company and sharing life stories with new friends. For me, "home" has always been a vaguely defined place; never quite a tangible, physical location I can point to on a map (because addresses do not always equal a home) but more-so a space of easy breathing and comfortable love. Because of this, my sense of "home" has changed and evolved many times over the years.
I recently read an article by Dennis Farichild about the month of May in the Tarot for 2011. I felt that reading this short piece came at a really perfect time for me as I'm currently putting together my new "home" on Chestnut Street in San Francisco, tying up life loose ends and beginning to spend more time creating. I wanted to share a part of it here;
"For the first time in history, the ancient tarot has been sent to the kitchen: the heart of the home....To tarot, May brings with it the energies of the number Nine for all to dine—the reduced single-digit for May=month #5, when added to the year 2011 becomes 5+2+0+1+1, whose sum total is 9. May's 9-number makes this a month for introspection, squeaky-clean self-exploration. A time of convalescence, contemplation, and rest. To not be lonely when alone...Work- and romance-wise, be tolerant of others' inexperience. If you must act, do so independently, rather than in tandem. Give audience to your inner voice. Come clean with yourself. May's Kitchen Tarot numbers urge you to turn down the noise. Feed the soul. The Dish Soap favors listening, rather than acting. In quiet we find our sanity when the world around us dangerously sputters like a hot unguarded skillet. Prayer, meditation, and house-caring go together this month. When we clean and order our kitchen and home, we are cleaning and ordering ourselves."
When I woke up this morning I had a thought (are you ready for this earth shattering revelation?); Home, for me, is actually no more than a heart full of love. Home is the place of balance between acceptance of myself (including *being* by myself, an often scary notion) and moments of peaceful, easy connection with others. I honestly don't know where I will be living in 2, 3, 4, 10, 20 years. Sometimes I truly feel like a gypsy as I day dream about all the wonderful places I have yet to see and explore. But I am not worried. My home floats easily from state to state, apartment to apartment, east coast to west because my true home...well...it dwells within me. I have the ability to make a home wherever I go so long as I keep on loving big...so long as I continuously return to myself, as myself. And I will never be ashamed of this.
I wish you all the happiest of homes, wherever you may be.
My New Jersey weekend was filled with fabulous amounts of home-girl time, including a bachelorette party in Atlantic City (where we got upgraded to the biggest suite in the hotel, The Hangover style!). Thankfully we did not wake up to tigers in our rooms or any missing teeth. Though we did see Scott Disick at the club (who is not pictured using Hipstamatic, but I mean c'mon...I couldn't not share this reality TV star sighting).
Me and some fellow bridesmaids cocktailing in our hotel :)
Hugs for bride-to-be #1...
Who promptly tried to squish me with her lovin.
I was fortunate enough to also be able to attend the bridal shower for bride-to-be #2 (I'm a bridesmaid in both of these weddings! What an honor!). Who doesn't love bridal bingo with a side of cupcakes and raspberry champagne punch?
The bride and groom being so stinkin cute I could hardly stand it...
I have some thoughts about my trip back east (6 hour plane rides give you a lot of time to mull life over), but am admittedly taking a bit of time to properly collect them to share here. All in all I am truly honored to be a part of both of these brides big days; these are memories of love and support I will cherish for years to come. There is certainly something to be said about generations of women coming together to lift each other up and send one of our own off on a new life adventure, equipped with good thoughts, encouragement and some kitchen essentials :)
Hope you all had stellar weekends!
A gal could get used to waking up to a little lover like this....
After caring for and completely adoring this SPCA furball for 2 years during her active volunteering, my best friend was finally able to adopt Lestat, a 7 year old (possible) American Bulldog mix given up by his owners who were "moving". I'm so proud of her for giving of her time, love and energy to animals who need some human TLC; compassion is an underestimated force, but it flows generously from my darling girl. I truly feel that these two were meant to be together...and that in many ways, he and his unconditional love are the Universe's way of thanking her for selflessly committing to improving the lives of some of our 4 legged friends we share this planet with. I'm so happy for them both! I love being an Auntie to such little love bugs :)
Trish (and Lestat!)
I may be just a tad bit behind on discovering this, but am none the less really moved by the message and goal...
From the I Believe She's Amazing website;
"Kim MacGregor launched this grassroots movement to unite and inspire 1,000,000 women around the world to recognize the amazing women in their lives--in memory of her inspirational friend Erika Heller, who lost her four-year battle with colon cancer on May 28, 2009, at 31 years old, just two weeks shy of her one-year wedding anniversary to her Prince Charming, Ryan Cornell."
This awesome movement encourages women to continue to be in awe of the amazing women in their lives...and to be vocal about it! What a great reminder to celebrate the beauty of our true friendships; how they heal us, support us and fill us with love and laughter. What a powerful message to cherish one another and every moment we are gifted to spend connected in living.
For a mini goose-bump session, check out the video of a flash mob performance done to spark awareness of the cause;
I believe the women in my life are strong. They are kind and giving. They are joyful and playful and flat out fun. They are love personified as exactly who they are....and who they are, well, it knocks my socks off.
Tomorrow I'm headed home to NJ to spend time (and celebrate!) with 3 of my most favorite ladies on the planet. I am beyond thankful to be seeing them and am vowing now to cherish every second of their loving, silly, supportive, loyal and like-a-sister company! Cheers to all the wonderful female friendships in our lives; without them, life simply would not be as rich and rewarding :)
“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them." -Martin Buber
Inspiration, encouragement and little reminders from the Universe are everywhere, if you open yourself up to seeing and receiving them.
I came home on Saturday to a lovely and thoughtful 'thank you' gift from my dear cousin...
Which she marked with a thank-you note on the page that turned out to be my favorite....
That same day a package arrived from an Etsy order I placed with a new copper necklace (and bracelet, since I can wrap it around my wrist!). It's about the size of a quarter and I love the simplicity of it.
The seller/artist sent it in this packaging....
Love and Gratitude, gratefully received :)
I think part of the reward to being present and open is how beautifully the Universe will step up and provide for you the fuel that you need to keep moving forward. It's so stoked that you're listening, there's no way you won't feel it's energy!
What little messages are waiting for you? I bet they are awesome :)
Love and Light,
There's a funny Sex and the City episode (OK, most episodes are pretty fun) where Samantha finds a rooftop pool membership card of a Ms. Annabelle Bronstein in the restroom and proceeds to use it with the girls. They sneak into the exclusive pool club (that had originally rejected Sam due to a waiting list) to escape the NYC heat wave under this stolen identity and eventually end up getting busted.
This episode was my inspiration for Saturday.
The thought process:
- It's going to be chilly in SF this weekend...rarrr...oh look, 75 and sunny in Sonoma...which is only 40 minutes away...
- Man I'd really like to sit by a pool...but don't want to pay a high hotel fee...I wonder how we can make this happen...
So, Jenny gave the Fairmount a buzz to see about potentially paying a spa fee of sorts to utilize their pool and patio and the gentleman that she talked to basically gave us the green light for an Annabelle maneuver. He told her that a) he used to live in SF and honey, he totally understands wanting to escape the city and b) so long as we didn't bring our own towels, ordered drinks and snacks and paid with credit cards no one would ever know we weren't hotel guests.
After an easy 40 minute drive and a stealth parking job on the street to avoid the valet, we ordered snacks and drinks (a fun 21+ twist on an Arnold Palmer that included sweet tea vodka...YUM):
Brought only our purses and our books (I don't think Dre is loving the book I loaned her...) and let the pool boy set up our chairs...
And acted like heck yes, we totally belong here...
Wait that's more Jersey Shore than Fairmount spa and pool. Let's try that again...
And acted like heck yes, we totally belong here...
Five hours, 2 drinks, a veggie wrap and a crab quesadilla later I was sun kissed, relaxed and pretty impressed with our ability to avoid a "the jig is up" moment. It's funny what you can get away with using just friendly smiles and confidence :) Oh, and of course *gratitude*; we thanked the staff repeatedly for their services (unlike most of the other pool patrons around us).
What a fun and sunny day. We may have to put on our Annabelle swim suits again this summer...
ps- on our way home we passed this funny sign:
Ahh, California moms.