As the year ends

“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer. -Zora Neale Hurston

I don’t know who Zora was, but I like that quote. When I saw it a few weeks ago, I thought “yes, this year asked a lot of questions, and I hope 2014 answers them.” And then I thought about it some more and was reading back over my end of 2012 thoughts and I realized that actually, 2013 answered a lot of questions that 2012 had asked. It’s just taken some looking back to notice that.

It was a roller coaster of a year. There were a lot of ups, but there were a lot of really deep downs too. To quote one of my closest friends, Nicole, who said this recently in an email, “Life is a serious bitch sometimes. It’s worth it all and has some really fantastic stuff, but it hurts like hell.” That’s pretty much how I feel about 2013. John Green also has some words I like: “Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.”

2013 mattered. I had no idea what it was going to hold, and it blew me away at times, both in joy and in pain. But it mattered. I am not the same person now as it ends as I was when it started, and I’m betting most of you would say the same thing about yourself.

What it held, for me, in a nutshell: Some kick-ass times with friends, all throughout the year. Travels. Really great conversations. Seeing and spending time with my old roommate, seeing Eastern Montana and North Dakota. I surprised my parents and showed up in GA on the 4th of July and ultimately got to see them 3 times this year since I was also there in February and then cruised to the Bahamas with them in October. I visited with my brother and sister in law twice. I had some amazingly perfect conversations with my niece and nephew. I saw my oldest and dearest friend and got wrapped around the little fingers of both of her children. Later in the year I cried with and for her as her dad almost died and then rejoiced with her when he survived. I inherited a best-friend-in-law when David married the man he loves and I had more fun being a part of that than can be described. I gained a few more friends through that time as well. I saw New York City as an adult (the last time I was there was 8th grade). There was some hiking and some snowshoeing. I quit running (but that’s not a forever quit). I made some really tough choices. I made a few desperately needed changes, and some others came about more as a consequence of the intentional ones. Some of those are still being worked on. Closure came about in two situations that needed it, both very different, both very difficult, one of which I’m still healing from. I barely scratched the surface of some goals and dreams. There was a promotion at work and most days that is a good thing. I read a lot of good books and watched a lot of good TV and movies, along with some not quite as good. I saw Mumford and Sons in concert for the 2nd time and loved it as much as the first. I wrote. And I made plans to write more. I made a blanket for a precious little boy who peed on me the first time we met. I cried, a lot. But I also laughed a lot. I talked about a lot of books with really intelligent women. I drank a beer in the shower one incredibly hot summer afternoon and it was perfect and for some reason many of my friends find it to be both hilarious and wonderful and so I thought it should make this end of the year post. My library fine was paid off by Alisha for my birthday. I wore a funny hat and sold Christmas trees. I lived out of two places at the same time as I prepare to move in a few weeks (more on that later). I made a lot of lists. I wrote quite a few letters. 2013 was busy.

Usually I make a list of to-dos for the next year. And they are pretty specific. Honestly, I’m not in a place where I think I can do that for 2014. I don’t want a list to check off or to fail in completing, even though there are already some ideas on a list in my head. For right now, I just want to think about the not-so-specific-things that I am fairly certain will go on.

I will listen to more music. I will watch more TV and movies, and maybe I’ll go see a show or two. I will read, a lot, and I will talk about those books with others. I will write. I will have opinions that sometimes get shared and sometimes do not. I will sing out loud when a song I like comes on in the car and I am alone, and maybe even if I am not alone. I will dance to music that is playing when I am at home. I will dream and I will pray and I will search and I will think deeply. I will go to work and do the best job that I can. I will cook and bake and eat out. I will love with all that I have and I will work on forgiveness more and more. These are the things that are not on a 2014 to-do list as they don’t have to be.

2013 was hard and beautiful and difficult and lovely and it was worth it. 2014 is a fresh start, a new beginning, and holds a lot of potential. I’m excited to see what it holds.

See you next year!



Two Kinds of Fighting

A question was posed to me recently, to be answered in writing: what do you think is worth fighting for?

Depending on what you mean by fighting, I can think of a lot of things.

Initially I kept thinking that I would write passionately about my thoughts on the healthcare debate and potential government shutdown, because I wholeheartedly believe that it is worth fighting for-as do a lot of other people, apparently. I believe in it so much that I applied, and was accepted, to serve on a committee for Cover Oregon, which is the health insurance exchange for our state, and am thrilled to get to be a part of that. I believe it in so much that I worked diligently with our grant writer at work to see if we could secure a grant that would enable us to not only assist with insurance enrollment for those we already serve who are not insured but also do extensive outreach to other hard to reach populations. I believe in it so much that I dreamed about it, composing emails in my sleep regarding things we needed to do. I believe it in so much that when we didn’t get the grant, I immediately started on our back up non-grant plan, because there is still so much work to be done, so many people to help. This fight is worth waging. It is vital. And I thought for a while that I would spend some time writing deeply on those views about why it is so important.

But I’m not going to. Because there’s fighting of another kind that is also taking up a lot of space in my heart these days.

A bit over a year ago, a long time friend took something I’d said, in which I meant no slight to him at all, as something harsh and offensive and it exploded into an hours-long argument/discussion in which we realized that we had a million problems between us that apparently had been lying just below the surface for years. Having felt very strongly about our friendship, and feeling more caught off guard than I thought possible when I learned what he thought of me, I was stunned, hurt, heartbroken and confused. I assumed, after those long hours, that we resolved our fight and had started the healing process, but I later realized he had given up on us me. I tried, in the only ways I knew how, to fight for us. But he wanted no part of it. So eventually I let go. I think now that, despite all we had been through, all that we had helped each other deal with over an almost 7 year friendship, maybe the truth is that we never really knew each other at all.

Friendship is, almost always, worth fighting for. Relationships are the most important thing in my life. So I will remain in the fight for as long as I can. But when it is not returned, when I am the only one putting in effort, the only one who seems to be all that concerned, then I will stop. I will back away. But it takes a lot to get me to that point. A whole lot.

I’ve spent a significant portion of the last year fighting for a different friendship with someone who has played a large role in my life for quite some time. Because I thought it was worth it. Because losing one friend over misunderstandings was enough. Because the people I love, the people I invest in, the people I care about, mean so much to me. And when they hurt, I hurt. When they find themselves in the midst of a CRAZY situation, I will be there to help them try to sort through it. When I get brought into the middle of it through no fault of my own, I will work through that and deal with the madness and forgive and still be there. When it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse, I will still be there. But then sometimes the crazy wins and I’m the one left with a huge hole where there used to be a great friendship. It was worth it in the beginning. It was worth it in the middle. But I can’t fight for this one any more, because there’s no one even fighting with me.

What I find myself fighting for right now-today even-is the ability to not let these things make me bitter. To not let the hurt I am still experiencing change the core of who I am. To still want to love deeply and be there for the people I care about. Because as much as it stings when my loyalty is abused, I don’t want to become someone who isn’t there for anyone else simply because it hurt too much the last time. I don’t want that to be me.

Things Going On/Things On My Mind

Most of you know by now that my oldest kindred spirit (as she called us recently), Katie, almost lost her dad about two weeks ago. His story is quite incredible, starting with going into cardiac arrest while driving in a parking lot, having many, many people who helped him in those first few moments, almost not making it before Katie arrived at the hospital, being given a 20% chance of survival, having his entire family there saying their goodbyes, and then slowly starting to defy the odds and begin to recover, to the point of his heart beating on its own, to his lungs starting to work as they should, to his oxygen levels finally starting to be what they are supposed to be and finally coming off the ventilator this past Monday. It was, I’m fairly certain, the scariest, most exhausting (mentally, physically, spiritually) week + that Katie has endured and she was amazing. Katie and I are in pretty regular contact all the time, but we’ve texted daily for almost two weeks and her strength has been simply profound. You can read more about the last few weeks on her own blog here. I saw a quote on pinterest recently that said “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place” That is exactly how I felt for most of the last two weeks. My heart and mind are more at home in Portland than they have ever been anywhere else on any given day, but when someone I know and love in another place is hurting, every part of me wants nothing more than to be exactly where they are. I am so thankful that it didn’t turn out to be necessary for me to go, but I had a suitcase and a ride to the airport on standby for a week.

There are some exciting things happening related to work. There are some frustrating things happening related to work. I’m simply putting this statement out there as a bit of a teaser as I plan to talk more directly about this very soon.

Last Sunday night, Amy, Alisha, a random stranger we added to our team, and I participated in “Friends” trivia. Amy does trivia on a regular basis. I do not participate very often. Trivia has a tendency to stress me out. It’s a bit like speed scrabble or time based food challenges. I know how to spell most words. I know the answers to a lot of trivia questions. I can kick some tail in the kitchen. But when you put that time pressure on me, suddenly I forget how to spell “boat” and I can’t remember the name of the first president of the United States and I use salt when I’m supposed to use sugar. Even watching time based food competitions gives me anxiety. I don’t do well being rushed, I guess. All this to say, two weeks ago Amy asked Alisha and I to come to “Parks and Rec” trivia night because she knows we have seen every episode. So we did, and it was fun even though we didn’t do all that well because, while we’ve seen every episode, we’ve only seen them once. But that night they announced that the following week would be “Friends” trivia and we…kind of freaked. I’m not sure how many times Amy has watched it, but Alisha and I have both seen every episode at least 4 times. We quote the show to someone in our lives probably weekly. I can’t even explain to you how many times something happens-in real life-that makes me think back to an episode. It’s a bit insane. But it’s also insanely fun. Alisha and I then spent the next week re-watching as many episodes as we could just for a refresher. I think my roommate was about to go crazy because every time he came home, I was watching more. But he did seem to laugh a bit, so really, he has nothing to complain about. When trivia night finally arrived, we were ready! There were more teams there for that night than any other trivia night they’ve had. I’m hoping that means more “Friends” nights in the future? We did really well! As did almost every other team! We got 3rd out of 23 teams. The thing that got us was Joey’s sisters-we couldn’t remember their names. But it was a lot of fun and I am probably not finished re-watching some episodes, so my roommate is just going to have to deal with that.

The weather finally started turning cooler. You don’t have to know me long to know that fall is my favorite season. Is there a place where it feels like fall all the time? I don’t really want to leave Portland, but I’d consider moving to that place if it existed. I’m currently sitting at home in a sweatshirt and long slouchy pants (as opposed to short ones, or just shorts) but the windows are still open and it is raining outside and simply quite perfect. Nothing says “stay in and read your book and watch movies and crochet for a while” like this kind of weather. The sunshine was nice for a bit, I will admit. But my spirit is happier without all of that heat. I would also be perfectly content with sunny days that happen to be cool.

Speaking of heat, I have been making my packing list for a vacation coming up in a few weeks that’s going to involve a lot of it. And that is totally ok with me because I’m going to be with people I love, relaxing, having so much fun, and enjoying time away. This year is, I suppose you could say, the year of travel for me. I didn’t start out the year knowing that I would get to travel so much, but it has been nice that it has turned out this way! I probably won’t travel at all for a while after this one!

And speaking of curling up and reading, I stumbled on this article today about all the books I was supposed to have read before I reached 30. Well crap. I’ve only read one (“You Shall Know Our Velocity” by Dave Eggers because I always read, and buy, everything by Dave Eggers) and only one other (“Anna Karenina”) is actually on my list of books to be read. My list of books to be read is ridiculously long and growing weekly and how I am now supposed to add all of these too? And I am almost 5 years past the “before 30” mark.

I am captain of a fitness team at work as part of a global trek competition and it is fun to have extra motivation not only to be more consistent with running but also in choosing to walk more places than I usually would. Our team is doing well, racking up the miles every day, in our journey to cross the virtual globe and hopefully win some money that goes toward purchasing health and wellness goods.

Last Saturday Alisha and I hiked on Mt Hood. More important than the hike and the exercise was the opportunity to sit by the lake and talk about the hurt and pain our loved ones have experienced, what we ourselves have gone through, and how much we want to see more love in the world. We followed it up with more deep conversation over smooth beers and delicious food at one of my two favorite breweries in Hood River, Pfriem. It was one of the most refreshing Saturdays I’ve had in quite some time.


I think that’s all I’ve got in regards to what’s been on my mind lately. Here’s to getting back into writing a bit more frequently and with a bit more intention, starting very soon.