Archives for June 2013

Thursday Ten: It’s Been a Busy Week in Politics edition

1. The filibuster in Texas, the Supreme Court ruling on VRA, SCOTUS striking down DOMA. It’s been a busy week in politics and in news and I’m actually grateful for social media for making it so easy to know what’s going on in the world. Were it not for social media, would I know about Wendy Davis in Texas? Probably not – I didn’t see it covered on the news here in Michigan. But I don’t want to talk about politics because that’s not my thing – I hadn’t even heard of VRA until Tuesday, so I speak with absolutely ZERO authority on anything. But you know, yay for knowing what’s going on!

2. Where do I sign up to prohibit people from posting pictures of their amazing vacations until I am able to afford one and post my own jealousy-inducing photos of some luxurious place? Can I opt-out of other people’s vacation fun because I have to say, I’m a little bit sour grapes right now.

3. My dentist office made a mistake yesterday and apologized and gave me a gift card to a local coffee shop. I can only assume they’re angling for my business down the line with teeth-whitening services.

4. When we were in Chicago for the Avon Walk, my friend Barbara got me hooked on Skinny Pop popcorn. I mean, I don’t know how skinny it really is if I eat five gallons of popcorn in a single sitting, but… stuff’s good. Gluten-free for those of y’all into that sort of thing. But for me, since I normally crave salty snacks, this is probably maybe kinda sorta better for me than Cheetos. (MMMMM CHEETOS)

5. Sometimes I watch HGTV and I think “You need a home with three shower heads? Wouldn’t that scare the hell out of you to have water coming at you from all those directions?” It’d scare me. A lot.

6. For those of you who know me and know me well, you’d know that I’m not really amused by bathroom humor so much but I drove past this sign that had been…enhanced… and, well… I couldn’t stop laughing. Oh, Grand Rapids. Sigh.
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7. I painted one wall in my kitchen and picked a color for the remainder of the room. I’ll post a picture when the project’s complete but I’m pretty pleased. The accent wall is TeaPot Turquoise (I just made that name up), the rest of it? You’ll just have to wait and see.

8. The 4th of July is on a Thursday. I posted an informal question on Facebook the other day and found that most offices are open on Friday the 5th — and then my job got reduced to part time, so hey, guess who has Friday off?! Being on the far west side of our time zone, it gets dark pretty late here – and with fireworks starting so late here, it seems most people would be sleep walking on Friday. Oh well (Do y’all have July 4 plans?).

9. I cannot believe June is almost over. How… summer never zips by. Summer always draaaaags. But June? June was crazy speedy. I’m curious to see what July will bring.

10. I have decided the worst part of the dentist is NOT the part where they scrape your teeth (though, I don’t love that) but the part when someone else flosses for me. Ugh. I hate that. It’s the most bizarre feeling to have someone else flossing my teeth. Scrape away, but let me floss ’em on my own. (Also? My dentist uses cheap hurty floss. USE THE GOOD STUFF, DOC.)

Fake It Til You No Longer Feel An Overwhelming Sense of Panic. Or Something Like That.

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Last week a fortune cookie told me that opportunity would present itself to me today. Not one to hang all my hopes on cookies, there was still a part of me wanting to believe that there was something good that would come to me today – if not an opportunity, then SOMETHING, ANYTHING. I needed to feel hopeful, I needed to feel less scared, I needed to not be a gigantic ball of stress.

I had woken up on Sunday morning and before I lifted my head from the pillow, my mind was a cycle of things that were wrong, things I needed to deal with and things that will likely soon turn to chaos. In case you had any doubt, it’s an AWFUL way to start your day. I hung on to that feeling most of the day, this negativity and helplessness, waiting for the moment it would pass. It took all day. {The feeling hung on longer than it should have partly because Pumpkin was bitten in the face by my ex-brother-in-law’s dog and so the evening expanded to include a trip to the ER for stitches and antibiotics. It’s another post for another day, for sure – but as a quick note: Any animal bite that breaks the skin requires medical attention. So, y’know. Get on that.} By the time we returned from the hospital, I was met with both carnitas and amazing hugs and the day finished on a good note, but…

I’ve been too cranky. Scared. Stressed. Worried. Uncertain.

So today, I decided I would fight that. I would seek to be positive and I would hang on to hope if I could.

How’s it working out?

Well, I don’t entirely know. I guess… okay.

An opportunity did come my way today. And then I made a phone call to connect with a friend of a friend who may not have opportunities, but insight into the local market. There was a birthday in our department (and treats always make things better, if only temporarily).

It hasn’t felt forced, this attempt to not dwell on the stressful things outside of my control. That was my fear. That fakey-fake “I’m okay-ness” of this mission, well, bah. Fake it til you make it is a valid theory but if I annoy myself than I’ve already kind of blown the mission.

My fortune cookie may be right, maybe it’s not – but today I gave myself a break from wondering how I’ll put things together and instead tried to just focus on what I already have.

It’s good sometimes to put worry on the back burner, even if you (like me!) don’t feel like you have the luxury to do so. Your brain needs a break. My brain needed the break.

One foot goes in front of the other and I’ll deal with things as they come.

Though, I can’t promise I won’t find things to panic about tomorrow.

after a few days of digesting

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I’m reasonably sure that there’s never a good time to receive bad news about your job. Even if you just won a Mega Millions jackpot, it might still sting to hear that your job was being eliminated or reduced or any of the industry buzzwords that are used to try to separate business from emotion.

Businesses, no matter what they say, really don’t care about people much. And that’s okay, to a degree. You can’t run a business if you’re too busy staunching the blood from your bleeding heart. I’m not faulting businesses that make the decisions they need to make to keep their business afloat.

(I don’t believe that’s what happened here, but honestly, that’s neither here nor there because it changes nothing.)

While there’s no good time for something like this, I can say with 100 percent certainty: there are worse times than others for something like this to happen.

Right now? Epically bad time for this to happen.

I was told that it typically takes a woman five years to regain financial footing after a separation/divorce. I believe it. Whether or not that’s actually true, it feels like it could be true.

So this is not the time I want my paycheck getting smaller.

It is what it is.

In just over a week, my work week will shorten by roughly 10 – 12 hours each week. I am seeking ways to supplement those hours with other work. I am seeking solutions. I am not comfortable with bitching about problems and then making no real effort to fix them. And so, I look.

I am grateful for friends who have not only reached out to me but have reached out to people they know who might be able to help me network and find supplemental or new employment. I am grateful for the “You will be okay” and the “I believe in you.” I am grateful for moments where I forget to be stressed out and moments where I can just let my guard down and cry because I am really stressed out.

I don’t know when it will happen, but I have to believe that a company will see that eventually and realize that I bring a lot to the table and could truly be an asset to them and then offer me some six figure salary to work my marketing mojo (Hey, it’s my day dream… ). It could be Tuesday (like that fortune cookie said) or it could be months from now.

Uncertainty – I’ve never really been a fan of it.

The shock of it has worn off – shock because even though I knew that this day would be coming, until it was actually here, i could always hope that something would change.

And it didn’t and so here I am.

Maybe now would be a good time to start playing the lottery.

Thursday Ten: Well THAT Sucks edition

1. Might as well lead off with the bad so that I can maybe turn this post around by the time it ends, with…I dunno… pictures of puppies or something. Nearly six months after first broaching the subject with me that my job will be transitioning to part time, I received word this morning that it will finally happen. In less than two weeks. I could say a lot more about this, I’m sure – but it’s probably all in poor taste and it’s coming from a place of fear and uncertainty about my future. But I haven’t gotten to this point in life by being a wuss baby. I’ve gotten through so much that I will get through this, too.

2. I’m just really scared right now. And unhappy about the whole thing. But…

3. Earlier in the week, this is the fortune I got from my fortune cookie (I really really like fortune cookies) so… you know, cookie people. I’m counting on you to have gotten this shizz right.
Better be true

4. Soooooo, uh, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. That’s a pretty good song, right? Even if you don’t really care for Robin Thicke?

5. PUPPIES. COOKIES. THE PERFECT CAPPUCCINO. THE SMELL OF LEMONS. (I’m trying so hard to be positive, y’all.)

6. Twice this week I have had the opportunity to share dinner with good friends. It’s been gorgeous weather here in West Michigan which has allowed for outdoor dining, which I LOVE. I also love bright colored patio umbrellas.
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7. And dinner plans tonight also! (I miss my girls, they’re with their dad for the week – this summer schedule is a bit tough so I’m filling up my evenings with plans so I don’t spend hour sitting on the couch missing them and feeling lonely). Looking forward to another fabulous meal with good company.

8. Last night at the grocery store, I picked up a box of frozen waffles and a bottle of wine so I’m either the best at grocery shopping or the absolute worst.

9. HEY, if you’re in the Grand Rapids area and you’re hiring, I know someone who is SUCH a rockstar with marketing and social media and web stuffs. (I had to do it, y’all. I’m basically stuck thinking about this and what’s blogging for if not to beg for jobs?)

10. Awwwwww, puppy. SEE? I promised.
Gotta capture his sweet moments

I Will Plan My Life Around a Teapot

I believe your home is your haven.

Except I hate the word haven because it rhymes with maven and maven is absolutely ridiculous and is overused and is right up there with a myriad of other cliched terms that I hate hate hate and people keep using them anyway.

Your home is a quasi-reflection of you – not the full picture, mind you, but a piece of it. My home is a mixture of my sense of style, mixed with my paltry budget, mixed with hand-me-down pieces from family and friends. It doesn’t reflect my tastes, necessarily, but it kind of does. I mean, we do what we can with what we have, right? We can’t all live in showplace homes.

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I am very focused on the spaces around me. I want them to feel peaceful and I want my spaces to feel like mine. Perhaps that’s why one of the first things I did after the separation was to paint my living room. It’d been so long since I’d gotten to make a decision like that without having to consult anyone else in the process. It was tremendously liberating to browse paint chips and select a color – and with every inch of wall covered by a paint -laden roller, my home became more and more mine. This is a good thing because the house payment? Mine. Might as well like what I’m paying for, yes?

A fresh coat of paint is a great way to make an impact on the appearance of your home without too much of a monetary investment. And, unlike knocking out a wall, changing fixtures, etc., if you decide after painting that you’re just not in love with the new color, it’s fairly easy to remedy.

Those are my main criteria for home projects these days:

1) It can’t cost a fortune

2) It can’t be that difficult to do

So. You can see why I’m itching to paint something again. But what? I love my entry way color. My bedroom color. My laundry room. I could paint the girls’ rooms, but I want something in a shared space versus bedrooms.

My kitchen/dining room (they kinda blur together – they share a wall so if you paint one, you probably have to paint both) seemed the most logical answer.

And I’ve been stumped on the color.

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And then I bought this teapot.

I’m not saying I want a turquoise kitchen, but somehow? I want to complement this teapot and the other turquoise things I’m now convinced I need. Someday. When I’m less broke.

Why the beige?

That drove me to get this handy dandy iPhone app that picks complementary colors.

Whoa there, iPhone. That’s a whole lotta beige.


400+ words later, I get to the core of it: I need help picking a paint color for my kitchen.

Something bright. Something that will look nice with my teapot.

Lay it on me, HGTV watchers and would-be designers. Ideas…go.

Thursday Ten: There Are Some Things Worth Being Late For edition

1. I walked out of the door this morning, got into my car, drove about a half a mile down the road, touched my hair and realized that it’s humid as all get out today…and I forgot to put product in my hair. Yeah. I turned around, went back home and threw some anti-frizz stuff in. It’s early and the day is long and it’s just better for everyone this way. Trust me.

2. I saw this in Chicago. I love graffiti. I was kind of not great this year during the walk about taking pictures (oh, hello there rain). I had tucked my camera back into the pouch on my backpack and so I missed taking a picture of some other graffiti I saw – it read “Yes My Love” and I don’t know why it was there, but it makes me wonder, you know. You’ve got a marker, you’ve got paint, you’ve got something and you’re leaving your mark (albeit, probably illegally) – and you say “Life Takes Time” or “Yes My Love” and it makes me wonder why, but it makes me smile also. Reminds me of the whole “Seek Joy” thing. I don’t mind that there are people who write these unexpected things that make me smile. Yeah, for everyone one of them, there are twenty of them writing indecipherable or obscene stuff… but that stuff somehow never fully registers in my brain.
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3. I have been craving breakfast-y foods this week and I have yet to truly give in but oh, the number of times I have thought about french toast or some other carb-y delightful breakfast-y goodness. I suppose that this is where I mention that I’ve started to use the LoseIt app again and I’ve reduced the amount of fun things I’m eating. ANYWAY. For those who are able to partake of the yummy breakfast (or for me to give in to this weekend) here are some of my favorite recipes: Dutch Baby Pancakes, Overnight Caramel French Toast, or that yummy Crumb-Coated Nutella Stuffed French Toast. I’m not one who worships at the Church of Bacon, but those two french toast recipes are sweet and could use a little bacon.

4.In digging the archives for French toast recipes I found a post from when Pumpkin was two and apparently she was sick and she wasn’t a good sleeper then and she still isn’t all these years later. I imagine that when she’s twenty-something, she’ll be up late on whatever their version of the internet is complaining about not being able to sleep.

5. New single from The Civil Wars out this week.

6. Having felt so blah since returning from the Avon Walk (heeeeey, walking in the rain? Not that good for you), I’ve cut back on coffee by a lot and have been drinking tea instead. New love? Vanilla Rooibus tea (sans milk) from Starbucks. Yum. And I’m not even really a tea person. I miss coffee but… tea has helped a lot. Sipping lukewarm green tea as I type.

7. School’s out for summer. No summer “to do” list for our family – I see a lot of Summer Check Lists and ya know, I just don’t have it in me (or my wallet) to pull off some of those types of things. We’re gonna have fun when we can have fun and do what we can to enjoy it – and as much as I love a good list, I just can’t make myself do it.

8. I have yet to turn my AC on this season even though already there have been days where I’ve really wanted to. Buuuut when the furnace people came a few weeks ago (months? I don’t know. Time is a blur) they basically said, “Your AC is not going to make it through the summer; you need new motors.” Well, I am not ready to buy new motors, so… I’m babying the AC. And sweating profusely.

9. When I was with Toni at Camp Makearoo, she suggested I practice some gratitude practices to help muddle through the rough times and recommended the iPhone app Happier. Britt recommended the same app in a post yesterday. I’m kind of loving it – and it’s worth a peek, particularly if you’re having trouble with the whole glass half full thing, as I sometimes do.

10.  Tomorrow I get a manicure for the first time in I don’t know how long. I hope my cuticles are prepared to be beaten into submission because dang my hands look gross right now. Yay for taking the time to pamper myself (even if I should totally spend the money on motors for my AC/furnace).

Because Sometimes I Don’t


I missed writing my Thursday Ten post this week. I missed writing it and I missed writing it. It’s the post I look forward to most each week – partly because I don’t have to be coherent or even have a point, and partly because it’s my way of catching up with y’all who read, and giving myself something to look back on – oh, that’s what I was doing then.

But. I just couldn’t.

I got back from Chicago, got back from 39.3 miles for the Avon Walk. I came home feeling not so fabulous. I got sick this year – and I’mma chalk it up to allergies a bit and walking in the rain a bit (like, 15 miles “a bit”). Then I found out my family was meeting with hospice about my grandfather. It feels like there’s been a lot going on all at once and I spent the entire week feeling like I couldn’t get ahead of myself, not even if I tried.


I didn’t try.

And then I got a little hormonal (PMS can die in a fire. Or not. But I wish it could because YUCK YUCK YUCK I HATE EVERYTHING AND I’M RETAINING ALL THE WATER) and a little sad and a little tired and a little grumpy.

And in my head, when I’m feeling like this, in my head I am still composing posts and thinking of all the things I would say if I would just come here and say those things… and then I don’t.

I don’t know what my point is.

So I’ve included a pretty picture of Lake Michigan from the first mile of the Avon Walk.

It’s Sunday evening and there’s a new week in front of me. A new week where at one point, I’ll get to get dressed up and be a grownup for a little while. I’m kind of looking forward to that. A week where hopefully I can shake some of the fog from last week off and find a new beginning and feel a little less grouchy and a little more like putting one foot in front of the other.

Let’s see where it goes, shall we?

On Having to Say Goodbye: Reading about death and dying

I’ve been reading quite a lot about death and dying today and if that sounds absolutely morbid to you, well, believe me, every time I enter a new search term in Google, I cringe a little also.

How to talk to children about dying, I type.

I find these articles, articles that tell me to be honest with my children and brief, but to answer all of their questions. Don’t say that dying is like the body going to sleep forever. What you say about after dying depends on what you believe.

The articles say that parents often avoid talking to their children about death – ostensibly to “protect the children” but in reality, it’s a method of avoiding. Let’s not talk about the difficult things. If we ignore it, it will go away. If we don’t talk about it then can it really be happening?

My family met with hospice yesterday.

“I thought about all of the things that everyone ever says to each other, and how everyone is going to die, whether it’s in a millisecond, or days, or months, or 76.5 years, if you were just born. Everything that’s born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers. The smoke rises at different speeds, but they’re all on fire, and we’re all trapped.”

– Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The thing is… no one is saying that this is it. They’re not saying it’s days or weeks. In the hours that have passed since my mother called me with the news, I have been told numerous times that there are people who have had hospice care for years even. While I’m not naive to believe that that would be the case here, it has helped me find peace to know that there’s still time.


While there’s still time, it’s important to make the most of that time, to take none of it for granted and to make sure my grandfather knows just how very loved he is, has always been, and how much better he has made my world.

My dad said to me on the phone yesterday, “Sarah, death is a part of life,” and I was angry at this statement. Though realistic, and though it’s true, the expression of this truth felt like he was crushing me, and ant beneath the heel of a boot. While I know he’s right, and while I know the statement wasn’t intended to hurt, it did.

That my grandfather is dying is devastating to me. Yes, it’s a part of that whole circle thing – but it’s the part that sucks for those of us who will be left behind.

“Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it nor fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshing with the grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hill and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond.”
– Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

He has made his peace and he has lived an amazing life and he has loved and he is loving and we have loved and we are loving and I don’t know how my world will ever be the same.

When I was younger I remember standing in my front yard and the air was cool with a strong breeze, the clouds pushed through the sky by the wind. “The world must be spinning very fast today,” my mom said, and I laughed at her.

“It’s not the earth, mom, it’s the wind!” I replied.

“My dad always told me that it was because the world was spinning really fast.”

And it’s just like him to have said such a thing, and mom will tell you now that she never really believed that, but at the heart of it all, he’s a kind soul, with a light heart, and a goofy sense of humor.

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“I’m in good with the man upstairs,” he told my sister during one of his hospital stays this past fall. Deeply rooted in his faith, I don’t doubt that he’s found his peace and he has comfort in what may be waiting for him – that perhaps to him this is not an ending, but a new beginning.

I’ve, uh… never been good at the faith thing – but I hope that his beliefs bring him hope and comfort.

“In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of – moments when we as human beings can say “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “I forgive you,” “I’m grateful for you.” That’s what eternity is made of: invisible imperishable good stuff.”
-Mister Rogers

Over the past 24 hours, I have thought to myself, how truly blessed I am to know while I still have the opportunity to tell him, how much I love him, how he has made a difference to me. How I’m grateful for every little moment – and every not so little moment – and I still get to tell him. He’s still here. Not everyone is that lucky.

As for what I’ll tell my children, I still don’t entirely know. I suppose I’ll tell them that great grandpa is old, and that bodies are similar to machines and to toys in that sometimes when they get older, things start going wrong, they don’t always work so well anymore. And sometimes, like that time when we were able to sew that stuffed animal back together, people and toys can be fixed. And sometimes they cannot. That we’ll be spending more time with my grandpa, their great grandpa, while we can. I’ll tell them stories about how when I was a kid, he always had candy for me like he always has for them now. How he told their grandmother that the world was spinning very fast. That he always kept pretzel rods and red Koolaid in the house. That when I was a kid and he’d call on the phone, we raced to see who could say “GOTCHA!” to the other first. That I’m sad because I love him, but that even when someone dies, we don’t forget them and that we get to keep the memories. That he’s still the same person, and there’s nothing to be scared of. And how he calls The Princess the smart gymnast and Pumpkin is the funny one and how much he loves them. I’ll let The Princess do handstands in the nursing home so he can see her and brag about her to the other residents. And when Pumpkin hides under a chair to be funny, I’ll let her because he thinks it’s funny too.

This part of parenting is hard.These things, these big heavy things that they’ll learn about from me and from life. I don’t want to be scared of these big things, because I don’t want them to fear them either.

This isn’t easy.

This is all just really really awful.

But I love him. I don’t want him to hurt.And I don’t get a choice in what happens, only what I do with the time we have left.

And so I will make it count.