Archives for February 2011

Saying Goodbye to February

February, for the shortest month, is the month that seems to stretch endlessly. Gray skies, green grasses hidden under blankets of icy snow, trees bare of leaves, no glimpses of color in the form of flowers gracing someone’s front yard. Yes, the cold bothers me tremendously. The lack of color is almost as big a shock to my system.

While I’m far from being an outdoorsy girl, I do love being able to get outside to workout daily. I miss that. I feel housebound and the cabin fever set in two months ago and is now at its pinnacle (I think. Maybe. It could get worse. Maybe).

I need longer days, more sunshine, I need to step outside my four walls a little more.

I wrote one of the most difficult posts this month. Did you write your love letter to yourself? I consider it a gift to myself to embrace some of the things that I don’t always give myself credit for – I’m glad I put myself to task in February. I am prone to spend the entire month in a daze, feeling like some lesser version than myself. I needed to remember the good, the great, and even the AMAZINGLY FABULOUS things. You do too.

February is the armpit of the calendar year. It is by far the month I struggle through, and I don’t think I’m alone.

It’s February 28.

I can’t wait until tomorrow.


Thursday Ten: A Day With Butterflies Edition

1. Sometimes, the day gets off to a rough start and then you open your mail and there’s a butterfly pendant from Lisa from Studio Jewel waiting for you? Ahhhh. That helps. I love this butterfly – which she designed to celebrate our flash mob experience in Nashville. I ordered a silver one – it’s super lovely. It reminds me of friends, fun and nothing says “spring” quite like butterflies, right?

Photo via Studio Jewel

2. And boy, how I need spring. Somewhat of a winter storm dump on Michigan this week – complete with multiple snow days. I’m really ready for sunshine and warmer temperatures again. I can’t take much more of winter. Just. Can’t.

3. The new Adele album is available as of Tuesday. I gave y’all a taste of it last week – the rest of it? Still good. Cannot believe that powerhouse voice. Here, she’s covering “Lovesong” by the Cure. (Note: I love covers of this song better than the original. See also, 311’s cover)

4. As I type this, a file I needed to complete a project for work is about an hour late. Panicking about deadlines a little, yep. That’s me.

5. Professional grade hair straightening irons are no joke. I accidentally picked mine up by the wrong end today (don’t ask, clearly I wasn’t bringing my A-game this morning). I burned my hand, but my hair looks alright.

6. The dog has become QUITE the barker. It’s annoying. How do you train a dog to not bark? Right now, he’s barking out the window – it sounds like a cross between a yappity little purse puppy and a braying donkey.

7. It’s a “binge on Wheat Thins” kind of afternoon. I love Wheat Thins. They are filled with all sorts of things I can’t pronounce and probably shouldn’t want to consume (Uh, vegetable color?) – but I can’t quit them.  My love for them is too strong.

8. Today, I bought socks for the Princess. Adult socks. She’s wearing my socks today – I hope this doesn’t mean that she’s going to have canoes for feet just like I do.

9. One of the most memorable Blissdom moments was doing some karaoke with Kat. I’m not saying we were any good, but it was fun. I love that Lotus got this picture. I’m the one in Chucks.

10. I finally finished The Devil in the White City. COMPLETELY recommend it. If you get bogged down in the first 60 to 100 pages, DO NOT GIVE UP. Perservere – it’s worth it.

There’s Never a Reason to Make the Coffee Girl Cry

This morning, I pulled up to the drive thru at Starbucks with Pumpkin – we had just been to the library and I needed a cappuccino and she had asked me (WITH MANNERS!) for a chocolate milk. The line was five cars deep and from where I sat, I could see the woman in the lead car, window rolled down, gesturing angrily with her hands, pointing her fingers and yelling at the barista working at the window.

By the time I got to the window, the barista was quite visibly flustered, tears in her eyes, and she had upgraded my tall to a grande free of charge for waiting patiently. I stuffed a little extra money in the tip jar, and said to her, “I’m sorry someone was unkind. I hope your day gets better.”

I meant it.

You may not realize it if you’re on the opposite side of the counter – but those angry words – sometimes they stick with a person for the whole day. Sometimes you go to sleep at night thinking of that person who raised their voice to you.

I fell into customer service accidentally. The actually story is a long one – and for another day – but my job daily involves interacting with people. Some people flit in and out of your work life, as simple as a “Read. Reply. Delete.” and some people have more complex issues, requiring back and forth interaction and problem solving.

Sometimes people get frustrated with me – I’m not infallible, sometimes things are my fault. But sometimes, the anger comes from a different place – someplace I had nothing to do with – whether it’s something going on in that person’s personal life, or perhaps someone they dealt with in the company before me disappointed them and they have an idea in their head that they are MAD, we’re all no good, and we may SAY we’re trying to help, but we don’t really mean it because we all suck.

It makes it very difficult to help someone.

I hear people constantly bemoan the state of customer service these days – and I understand that, sometimes customer service is just…not good. I think it goes deeper than that, though. I think we all need to take a look at how we are acting when we are asking for answers, when we need a solution, when we want help. There’s a reason why people have been saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”  since cavemen were riding dinosaurs to school: because it’s true.

I’m not saying that you need to keep your lip zipped if you receive faulty product, or that it’s always your fault when the service is poor. I’m saying this: as customers, we need to take a look at the way we treat the businesses and people we are interacting with. Are we being courteous? Even if you’re mad, and even if that brand-new widget you just bought from Company X is broken already, there’s still no reason why you can’t factually state your case, without emotion, and ask for a solution.

If you’re hurling insults, spreading negativity – if you’re being unkind – the effects ripple. It makes it more difficult to help you if we are constantly fearing backlash from our efforts.

I’ve received messages that have left me reeling for hours – if you think that the company’s representative forgets about those words you said when you walk away or once the email transaction is complete? You’re wrong.

Back to that woman yelling at the barista this morning – I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what circumstances she had going on in her life that she was carrying with her that caused her to lash out at the drive thru window – and the Starbucks girl had no way of knowing either. Whatever feelings she was carrying with her, to lash out over what was likely a five dollar purchase boggles my mind.

You should expect good service. You should expect to get what you pay for. But you can do both without being a jerk. Trust me, the customer service reps will appreciate it.

You’re Saying You Want To Paint Socks

“All I know is, if you don’t figure out this something, you’ll just stay ordinary, and it doesn’t matter if its a work of art or a taco, or a pair of socks! Just create something… new, and there it is, and its you, out in the world, out side of you and you can look at it, or hear it, or read it, or feel it… and you know a little more about… you. A little bit more than anyone else does… Does that make any sense at all?”


One of the things you should know about me is that I watch cheesy movies when I’m on the treadmill. Now that winter has decided to revist Michigan, I’m back on the treadmill instead of out in the glorious sun. Instead of breathing in fresh air, I’m breathing in basement while watching corny Hillary Swank movies on DVD.

Tonight, I was watching PS I LOVE YOU (she’s married to the Irish guy, he dies of cancer, and arranges for her to get letters from him at various times after he’s died. Say it with me, one two three: Awwwwwww!). It gets to the scene where she’s in Ireland, his mother hands her a letter from him and he’s recounting in this letter the first time they met. First of all, true to rom-coms, they totally meet cute as Holly somehow manages to get lost in some scenic national park in the Ireland countryside (happens to the best of us, Holly). And as they walked together, she goes on this ramble about her future and her life and gives the above quote about tacos and creating stuff.

And then I almost fell off the treadmill.

(No. Not really. Not this time, anyway.)

This afternoon, I spent thirty minutes in my guitar lesson – and that thirty minutes was easily one of the brightest spots of my day. This morning, I went out in the backyard with the dog and took pictures of the snow and the sunshine and the sparkle of winter (I hate it, but sometimes it’s pretty).

And every time I visit one of my hobbies, one of my passions, one of the creative endeavors that keeps me from going completely insane (in my decidedly UNCREATIVE job), I feel like that – that there’s a little piece of me out there – by reading my words, looking at my pictures, holding a guitar in my hands – I get to know a little more about myself, I get to find the things about myself that maybe set me apart, for a bit of time in an ordinary day, I can do something that makes me feel extraordinary.

Weekly Winners – I’m Back From The Land of the Lost Edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in Lotus’s weekly winners – BUT I’M BACK. At least this week.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the week…

I don't love Valentines Day. But my coffee loves me. See? It says so.

She picked out her outfit the day before. Complete with accessories. Who IS this kid?

Feel the sun on my face, close my eyes and just breathe

Chillaxing on the bleachers. Swim mom mode.

Thursday Ten: There’s a Thaw Outside

1. Yesterday, I went outside for a walk for the first time in months. Temps reached the mid 40s and I figured, “Why not?” Since many people never shoveled their sidewalks in the past few months (um. like us), I ended up walking in the streets – and the streets were filled with puddles, but even so, it was nice to be outside. This morning, I went for a nice little run. Here’s hoping spring really IS just around the corner.

2. For new music lately, I picked up the new album from The Civil Wars (lovely harmonies and calming melodies — I love it). Also, I preordered the new album from Adele, on the basis of hearing “Someone Like You.”

3. I did a bake sale this week to raise money towards my fundraising goal for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I spent all day Monday baking – cheesecake, cookies, and brownies (OH MY!). I was pleased to raise a few hundred bucks – it makes me happy that I can do something I love to support a cause I believe in. If you feel so inspired and would like to donate, you can click HERE. If you donate and would like me to send you cookies (AND I JUST MIGHT), let me know.

4. I, uh, watched American Idol last night. I like the beginning part when they’re all in Hollywood and they’re doing those group things and they fight and they all hate each other and it’s drama. Also, the group that decided that the show needed to be called “American Lapdance” and awkwardly serenaded Steven Tyler? That wasn’t at all weird to watch. *ahem*

5. This month, our book club is reading The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. This book came highly recommended by a lot of my favorite people – but it’s off to a slow start. I was told by several different people the other day that they experienced that too – that it even took up to 100 pages to get into it – but I should be patient because it gets really GOOD. So, this is me. Being patient. On page 76.

6. I promised the girls I’d take them out to dinner tonight. Well, I told The Princess via a note in her lunch bag that we were going out to dinner tonight and to let me know when she got home where she picked for dinner. I also told her “NO McDONALDS!” We’ll see what she comes up with. I hope it’s something good. Unfortunately, she’s the kid that doesn’t like Chinese food OR Chipotle.

7. Sometimes I get a very random idea in my head, like, “Hmm, I think I’d like a fun pair of casual orange sneakers.” I really do want some. But I didn’t buy them. Yet. I’m not sure if these are “the ones”.

8. The folks from iRobot sent me a Roomba and let me tell you, you may be hearing more about it in the weeks to come. Or years. I’m kind of obsessed. That I can just push a button and walk away from it while it does the work? Bliss. He (it’s a he. Don’t ask me how I know this) is a source of entertainment for myself and the kids – they even  made my sister and husband come upstairs to look at him when they came over last night – and once I pick enough junk off the floor to do a full vacuum test, I’ll let you know more about it.

9. Sometimes I get ridiculous. I missed posting a FLIP SIDE picture on Tuesday. So I’m posting THREE today. Yeah. I’m sorry. You’re welcome?

10. I made the worst lasagna last night. I knew when I was making it that it wouldn’t be good, despite the fact that my kitchen smelled FANTASTIC. Too much ricotta cheese, not enough sauce. The thing was so dry, it was like I filled it with paste. Thank goodness I can bake otherwise the family would starve.

For the love of writing.

There are many bloggers out there. There are people who blog about food, politics, photography. There are people who blog about sex, money, business, education. There are people who blog about blogging.

And for all of us out here in this weird little space, not all of us are driven by the same things. Some of us do it because we want some kind of notoriety. Some of us do it because hey, we have a lot of information to offer on that particular topic, thankyouverymuch. Some of us blog because we’re trying to make it rich. [Editorial note: If you’re trying to get rich blogging, know that most people DON’T, and that it’s generally helpful if you also happen to know the difference between you’re and your and that your website shouldn’t look like you threw every piece of animated-GIF bling magic on it because IT WILL MAKE PEOPLE MOTION SICK AND IF THEY ARE MOTION SICK THEY CANNOT READ IT]


And then you have me. And the people who are like me.

The people who write for the pure love of writing. People who write because if we weren’t writing a blog, we’d be writing in journals or on napkins in restaurants. People who write because to not write would be akin to not breathing (though slightly less fatal).

I would fill this space whether anyone was here reading or not.

I would fill this space because to NOT fill this space would be to silence my words and sometimes I HAVE A LOT TO SAY. Granted, sometimes I don’t.

I write when I need to and when the words are there bubbling under the surface needing to find their voice. And I write when I’m happy and I write when I’m hurt. And I write to say hello and I write to say I’m sorry I have been hiding lately.

And I’m glad that you’re here. That you’re reading.

There are so many places in “Teh Internets” where you could spend your time – and I’m grateful to those who stop by my little world and share a few moments in my brain with me (It smells like cookies in here, doesn’t it?). I would write if I was merely talking to myself, but I’m glad sometimes that I’m not.

Running the fence

Every afternoon, the dog waits expectantly by the sliding glass door for  me to let him out. I push the door open and he waits on the deck, staring intently at the backyard of our next door neighbor. The next door neighbor, though a strange and somewhat scary man, has two dogs – one of them a beagle who spends a lot of time in the backyard.

Our puppy likes to play with the beagle – the stand on opposite sides of the fence and stare each other down. They run up and down the length of the fence separating our two yards. Sometimes they bark at each other through the metal. Sometimes they dig through the snow, attempting to tunnel their way between the two yards.

When the puppy is out there with the beagle, he’ll stay outside for ages.

(He’s nuts. It’s freezing out there. And people say dogs are smart?)

And in a way, it’s how I feel after returning home from Nashville – like I’m standing on the deck expectantly waiting for someone to run the fence with.

For days, I was surrounded by friends and people I adore and admire – I had ready access to hugs when I needed them or just when I wanted them. There were people I knew from before and new friends made.

We meet before we meet – reading each other’s stories, and knowing all the small talk “where are you from – do you have kids – what do you do – what are your pet peeves – who what when where why” details that fill those moments when you first meet someone. Instead, we meet and we say, “I know you.”

And so my friendships are far flung and geographically dispersed and so I’m home. The network I have locally is not like the frienships I have made through blogging and Twitter and stuff. I struggle because I don’t enjoy superficial friendships – it’s never been enough to me to forge a friendship on the sole bonding factor of “Oh, your kid is in Mrs. Smith’s class? Mine too”. I need more than that.

That’s not to say that I am lacking friendships – it’s just, they’re different. When you meet and bond over words, you skip past several layers of small talk to the core of who someone is.

I miss the camaraderie. I miss the laughing. I miss the dancing. I miss the kinship.

I’m just sitting in my yard, staring at the fence.

Thursday Ten: I Maybe Need A Nap Edition

1. Occasionally I get bit with a bout of insomnia and struggle to sleep or stay asleep. This happens particularly in hotels, but I’ve been home the past two nights – I’ve gotten roughly four hours of sleep each night and I’m used to about seven or so. I’m so miserably tired I can’t stand it (or myself).

2. For those of you who stopped by to read my post yesterday – the love letter to myself – thank you. I hope if you haven’t yet written one you will – please come back and let me know, so I can come read it. I know it’s not the easiest thing to do, to wax poetic about how awesome you are… but, but, but! You’re awesome. You can do it. I know you can.

3. In guitar lessons, I continue my post-Blissdom Mat Kearney love fest and am playing more of his stuff.  Why? Well, because DUH, I love Mat Kearney’s music… but also because it happens to be relevant to things I’m learning and things I need to work on (including some chords that are more than a lil’ sloppy).


Me, Mat, Kat & Michelle Branch - Photo by Jana

4. Yesterday, in a need to shake up the monotony, I did a photo scavenger hunt around the house – asking people what I should take pictures of around my house. I kind of like the egg.

5. I got a note from The Princess’s school this week letting me know she was receiving a Character Award today. I love how the school doesn’t tell the kiddo prior – so she was surprised, not only to be getting an award, but to see me.  That was fun.

6. Musically, I’m so far behind the curve and have been on a Ryan Adams kick lately. I love his lyrics – the way he writes is so stark and honest. {Ryan Adams – “Desire”}

7. I have the winter blahs. January is always rotten. February always gets a little bit worse. The cold, the bitter bitter cold. In spring, I am outside breathing fresh air, running, walking, seeing neighbors and faces. Winter feels so solitary. I hate it. Even traditionally warm climates are being hit with this cold YUCKY messy weather. Can’t seem to escape it anywhere this year. Bleh.

8. The SuperBowl – did you watch it? I didn’t. It’s not because I have some huge opposition to sports, but pro football has never really been my thing. In college, watching the SuperBowl used to be assigned homework – oh the joys of a Marketing major taking advertising courses. The only commercial I saw this year was Chrysler’s Eminem/Detroit commercial – and I loved it.

9. Pumpkin’s insistence on waking up early has been pretty consistent over the past five years – the day she was born, she came into the world just before 6 a.m. That she continues to wake at or near 6 daily is still mind boggling though. See also Item One and my insomnia.

10. Everyone in this house has a runny nose at the moment. I had to buy Advil Cold & Sinus last week and had to jump through hoops to purchase a small box from the pharmacy. I’m admittedly rationing them out now – heaven forbid I run out too soon and end up on some pharmaceutical watch list. Look, I’m a mom. I don’t even like to make macaroni and cheese, and I swear to you I won’t cook meth with my Advil. Isn’t that enough?

A Love Letter To Myself

On February 1, I challenged y’all to write a love letter to yourself. I hope you do. I finally did my own. If you’ve written one, please link in the comments so I can read it.

Dear Sarah,

Well, girly, you wanted a love letter for Valentines Day – who better for it to come from?

I gave you this assignment because I think you need it – I think too often you are quick to sell yourself short, you are quick to point out your flaws, you are quick to tear yourself down. I know why you do it (we share a brain, after all) – but – there’s good to you also.

When you were a kid, maybe the message didn’t entirely get through to you that it’s okay to like yourself – that it’s okay to be happy with yourself or to be proud of your achievements. I kind of like that you’re learning now – it’s not an easy lesson, it’s not a fast lesson… but you’re coming around. And what’s better is that you are making sure your children are raised with more positive messages – you are teaching them that who they are is amazing and incredible and that they have potential to do so much. You are loving them for who they are now, not who they might be someday.

But this is no surprise – this is how you are with most people in your life. You are admittedly guarded as to who (who? whom? Your love letter may not be grammatically correct. I’m sorry) you will trust with your heart – you’ve been hurt, and you’re cautious – but once you let someone in, they’re in. I love that about you – because you have the capacity to care so much for the people in your life, and you do a good job with letting them know that they are thought of, cared for and special to you.

You are resilient and you are strong. Your strength has carried you a long way in life and it is only recently that you are learning that you don’t HAVE to be that strong, and you don’t have to be stoic, and you can show people that you’re hurt and are hurting, or even lean on someone when you need to lean.

You cry, you love, you laugh, you feel, you hurt, you ache, you flutter, you fall, you dance, you retreat, you reach out, you build up, you smile, you embrace.

You wear your emotions on your face – and it’s not difficult to read you – your smile tells a story when it reaches your eyes and your dimples are pronounced and on display – your joy is evident. When you’re sad or hurt, or pissed – that’s pretty clear too. No one really has to wonder where they stand with you, that’s for sure.

You look at the world as if through a lens – and you are constantly framing the world in front of you, which means that you notice and appreciate details that often others overlook. You quote cheesy movies at random moments and you attach significance to your memories with the lyrics of songs. Those who mean the most to you are tied to you permanently through the memory of music.

You can name all fifty states in alphabetical order and you make amazing cookies and you like to share them. You believe in writing notes and touching base, and you nurture your relationships because your friends lift you – and lighten you. You are a smart woman but you still appreciate a juvenile joke. You love words. You do things with words that are amazing sometimes. You dance – freely and unabashedly and you don’t care who is watching or who sees. You are in constant motion – you rarely slow down – you embrace movement – it makes you feel better, and you like the end result of lovely arms and and a healthy body.

Don’t think too much, Sarah. Just embrace each moment and enjoy who and what you are and know that it’s enough and that you’re pretty awesome just the way you are right now.