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Dear Pam,

Thank you for being there for me, always, in all ways, and especially last night as an ironing expert. Having not picked up such a device in at least two decades, it was a relief and a delight to know that when I was baffled by both the iron and the ironing board, I could reach out to you for coaching and you wouldn’t think I was a blithering idiot. I’m always amazed at our relationship… having known each other for years, and having only met once, I am blessed to have you in my life as a friend, confidante, shoulder, advisor, and partner in future adventures. You’ll always be my virtual sister. xo

#yearoflove

Dear Tiny 9-month Old Dude:

Thank you for seeing me as the kindred spirit I was, because we were both sitting on the airport floor by the windows today. If you hadn’t crawled over to me, I probably would have crawled over to you. You took and shook my hand just like a wee politician and our shared giggles at absolutely nothing were the big shining bright spot in an otherwise very tough day. Bless you, and I hope you have a beautiful life.

#yearoflove

Dear MKL,
Thank you for all your love and support and for surviving the holiday season with me. It’s always more than a joy to see you, and I feel like a piece of myself is missing when we’re not together. You are my car guy, my intrepid honey-doer, my partner, and my heart. I love sharing drives, snuggles, germs, laughter, martinis, pool, and adventures with you. We will get this whole house situation figured out, in one state or another, and live in our House of Dreams before we know it. You make me feel loved, beautiful, respected, valued, appreciated, treasured, and safe, and I hope I make you feel the same. I’ll live every day to make sure that you do.

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Today’s quote: “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.” — Sheryl Sandberg

#yearoflove

 

 

Today’s love note goes out to Dr. Grey.

Dear Dr. Grey,
While medical nonsense is about my least favorite thing on earth (and don’t get me started on the bills), you have renewed my faith in the helping nature of the profession. During our interactions in the last month, you’ve shown just the right amount of compassion, a willingness to listen to my thoughts, and the humility to admit that you don’t know everything, and sometimes, we just have to work together to figure out why things — like my heart — don’t always do what they’re supposed to do, and what my “normal” is, even though in my case (big surprise) my normal isn’t exactly normal. I trust you, and that’s not something that I say often to another person, especially not a doctor. Thank you, from the bottom of my long QT. I’m glad you’re on my side.

A quote for today: “A good heart is better than all the heads in the world.” — Edward G. Bulwar-Lytton\

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#yearoflove

 

I remember December 25, 1996. Kelsea was 24 days old. We put her next to us on the floor as we unwrapped Christmas presents, and suddenly couldn’t find her, because we’d accidentally covered her with wrapping paper (a.k.a., glee debris). We immediately uncovered her, and she was happy as a little clam the whole time. That was a lovely Christmas day, full of family (because family comes where the baby is), and fireplaces, and good brunch, and cuddling, and naps.

The next day, we went to the House Up Top, since we had a second house in Black Hawk at the time. I remember sitting in the big taupe faux suede recliner, holding my baby girl, and watching the news about JonBenet Ramsey. I’ll never forget that…my little girl in my arms, while hearing about another little girl, blonde and beautiful like my own, whose life was snatched away at age six. It chilled my heart and made me hold her a little tighter.

I worked in Boulder. I had gone to school there. I had lived on The Hill. I had walked by that house. Boulder, at the time, felt small and safe. I walked everywhere alone at night without a qualm. People who lived there at the time were still at that six degrees of separation level. Everyone knew someone who knew someone who knew someone…you get the picture. An acquaintance was the stepdaughter of the District Attorney. Everyone was hearbroken. Everyone had an opinion on the case. Everyone followed every development. Everyone thought the police were totally out of their league. This sort of thing never happened in Boulder.

As a new mother, I felt for the Ramseys. I had my own opinions about the case, still do to this day, best left unsaid except to my closest confidantes. The Ramsey’s sold the house, they moved away. The city changed the street number of the house, because once it sold, it still garnered so many looky-looers that the new owners couldn’t take it. It became an albatross in the real estate market. And the Patsy Ramsey died of her recurring cancer. John Ramsey started a new life, and good for him. Patsy and JonBenet are buried side by side in Georgia.

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JonBenet Ramsey, age 4 or 5-ish

I know it has been 20 years since this happened, an anniversary. But I am disgusted by the massive amount of attention that the media is taking in this case, starting last month, and no doubt continuing through the year’s end. Maybe it’s only been three shows and some new stories, but I feel they’ve been constantly repeated for weeks. It’s all about ratings, I guess. I know that a lot of people who are in Boulder now weren’t there then, but for those of us who were, having such pieces be promoted (I haven’t been able to watch them) dredges up sorrow and pain that it has taken years to settle uncomfortably with. Maybe even by writing this, I’m giving validity to those bringing up old wounds, but I had to say my piece.

None of these exposes and “new” investigations are going to identify her killer. Nothing will bring her back. I think it’s time that we all let JonBenet rest peacefully. Whoever killed her will have to live with her blood on their hands until their last breath. After 20 years, that is, I think, punishment enough. Let’s not punish her spirit, and the rest of us who live with the memories.

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Kelsea at age 4 or 5

 

 

 

I’m not much of a sports fan. I generally like football, but only my own team (go Broncos), though I’m not sure I would had my Father not been a fan. We were season ticketholders at Duke Blue Devil football games throughout my growing up. I remember the man who sat with his family behind us for all those years looked a little bit like Jack Kennedy. But this isn’t about football. This is about baseball.

I learned about baseball at the Durham Bull’s ballpark (featured in the movie Bull Durham), on summer nights when I was a teenager. I would go with friends or with a hipster boy named Charlie who had slightly buck teeth, and always wore a string tie and cowboy boots, and who tried so hard (but failed) to win more than my friendship. Nights at that ballpark were perfect, all the way from the splintered bench seats, to the hot dogs, to the decades-old bull art piece on the side of the neighboring building, whose tail would raise and whose nostrils would blow smoke when it was hit by a home run. It was soft and warm and bright and buggy and felt like everyone there was family.

Even if you’re not a rabid fan, last night’s final World Series game was an amazing nail-biter with the best possible ending (sorry, Indians fans). I’ve been to Wrigley Field a few times to watch the Chicago Cubs, and I love the team, since I do tend to root for the underdog, which it seemed the Cubs always were. Not so now. Their first World Series win in 108 years. I hope the ancient fan in Chicago who was in the news didn’t have a heart attack – or if he did, that he died happy at the end of the game. Here in my little neighborhood in Colorado, people were setting off fireworks. My social media friends across the country were on tenterhooks, all of us, together. It was, I think everyone could agree, a truly great game.

Since the 1830s, Americans have played, watched, wept, and cheered as this sport that evolved to its current place in the history of our culture. It has touched fashion, film, food, art, and literature. In fact, one of my favorite books is called “If I Never Get Back,” and combines time travel with baseball. What could be better?

In a time of dangerous division within our country, last night, our politics really didn’t matter. It was a wonderful feeling to share the experience of watching “America’s game” with the rest of America.

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Chicago, Illinois.

Quote of the day: “Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple. Within the baselines anything can happen. Tides can reverse; oceans can open. That’s why they say, “the game is never over until the last man is out.” Colors can change, lives can alter, anything is possible in this gentle, flawless, loving game.” – W.P. Kinsella

Daily gratitudes:
The man who plays the guitar at lunch at Potbelly
A beautiful day
Seeing MKL
Good moods
My flu shot (let’s hope I stay grateful for that)

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Even though it’s still lovely here, I have been missing Cozumel*. My anxiety from work has made me doubt my abilities as a writer, as an artist, and as a competent human being, and that’s been really rough. It’s very reminiscent of my days in abusive relationships, and as was the case then, I don’t know how to improve it. MKL has been a rock and a treasure. I understand that I have choices, but I hate being driven to them because I cannot resolve my own situation. Yes, I know I’m being vague, but that’s how it’s got to be. I remember being so clear and at peace in Cozumel. That was a magical place for me. I want that feeling back.

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Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” — Eckhart Tolle

Daily gratitudes:
Daily messages for my girls
Carpool mornings
Cooler nights
Work (even so)
Dogs

I don’t talk a lot about being an empath. Partly because it’s a complicated thing. It’s also a pretty private thing. And these days, it has entered into popular culture enough that it can be easily dismissed by those who don’t share this quasi-gift, and easily adopted by those who are struggling to belong, to attach a cool label to themselves, or to understand their own feelings. I don’t diminish those people and their needs, but I do not know if their experience is the same as my own….though that could be said of everyone.

This week has been an eye-opening one for me with regard to this component of myself. Being an empath is something different from being empathetic or highly sensitive, or even empathic. I’ve been led to the realization that it is not something I can ignore at times of global collective distress – or anniversaries like September 11. It took the universe dropping a heavy veil over my body and spirit for me to see that this gift, this calling, this ability to wend my way between worlds and realms, is something precious and needed. I am a path through the veil for silent acknowledgement and connection for those beyond. Being a channel, a vessel, is part of the reason for my being here, on this earth, at this time. And the divinely given art of dancing across levels of existence is something I need – and want – to practice.

I judge my own words through the eyes of others. So, to head you off at the pass, I’m not high or crazy or a hippie. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a cousin, an aunt, a homeowner, a writer, and I work three jobs to put my daughter through college without (fingers crossed) student loans. I’m the picture of responsibility. I pay my bills on time. I don’t wear make-up, except eyeliner as my work disguise. I don’t color and style my hair. I like jeans and yoga pants and dressing up and thrift stores. I like tuna salad sandwiches (warm, with cheddar, mustard, and hot peppers), rib-eye steaks, and butter pecan ice cream. I like Appalachian music and opera. I love flowers and mountains and especially the sea. I love to travel. I help tourists in Denver when they look lost, and like to smile at strangers, especially, these days, women in hijabs, because when they see the smile in my eyes, their eyes smile back and I can tell they feel welcome and trusted and a little bit safer. I’m not stunning, I’m not unusual. I don’t have any piercings or tattoos, because my mother drilled into me at an early age that there’s no sense in poking holes in yourself for the sake of fashion (and she was right) and the only thing I would ever like to have indelibly inked on my skin are the latitude and longitude of my favorite places on earth, perhaps as anklets or bracelets, but not now. Maybe someday, when I’m older.

If you were to see me walking from Union Station to my office in the morning, you probably wouldn’t give me a second glance. But at a glance, I can feel so much about you, and you’ll never know that. I can sometimes turn it off, but not this week. This week there were so many souls who wanted their energy and their words resurrected into the consciousness of now for just a few moments, and needed me to be a silent channel for them. And so, while it took me a few days to figure it out, I did. And we are all, for now, somewhat soothed.

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Some beautiful beach, some beautiful where between worlds.

Quote of the day: “People underestimate the stars and the connectedness they bring between spirit and matter. More often than not, when lost, we seek solitude in staring into the darkness hoping something speaks back to us, usually through a feeling, a thought or a rare occurrence of a shooting star.” — Nikki Rowe

Daily gratitudes:
That my cricket has moved to the kitchen
A clean bedroom
That MKL loves me regardless
Truck stop coffee
That Kelsea called me from the grocery store, asking about spices for what I have taught her to be her “signature dish” to cook

I sometimes think that all works of art are born somehow of fire. Words burn in a writer’s brain, unforgiving until they can spill upon page. Motion burns from the core of a dancer’s muscles. Paintings are licks of flame risen from a spirit through a brush to a canvas. Even in photography, there is a burning peaceful need to capture what is seen by one set of eyes into something that can be seen by others, a sharing of the embers of the photographer’s vision. The center of the earth that we walk on each day is made of fire, and it passes through layers of rock and soil and the skin of the soles of our feet to the center of the souls of our being, and must be expressed somehow.

In this sculpture studio, we found the purest expression of the creative fire, molten iron casually poured by men protected from its destructive power, men looking like creatures from the center of the earth themselves, men who controlled the flow of creativity, channeling it into molds and frames, containing it, shaping it, melding with it, as it fashioned itself through the sculptors hands into art, cold to the touch but still retaining that fire within. As we all do.

It reminded me that art can be dirty and primal and beautiful, full of heat and passion and practicality all at the same time, blending hotly and gently to create an artist’s ever-imperfect vision, for imperfection is the nature of art as viewed by the artist, and what makes them strive to improve always, trying to touch that fiery core with their bare hands, capture it, rejoice in it, and share it.

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Shidoni, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “I used to know a sculptor… He always said that if you looked hard enough, you could see where each person carried his soul in his body. It sounds crazy, but when you saw his sculptures, it made sense. I think the same is true with those we love… Our bodies carry our memories of them, in our muscles, in our skin, in our bones. My children are right here.” She pointed to the inside curve of her elbow. “Where I held them when they were babies. Even if there comes a time when I don’t know who they are anymore. I believe I will feel them here.” — Erica Bauermeister

Daily gratitudes:
Brief flashes of clarity
Some time with Kelsea
Realizing creative necessities
Water
Beach time soon come

I warned you there might be a Part Two, and I’ll warn you there may be lots of parts.

Last night’s speeches at the DNC were moving and inspiring. I will vote my conscience, as so many speakers recommended, and my conscience, or feelings, or instincts, or what have you, is telling me what is wiser for our future in terms of our political leader. We are at the final day of the DNC now. We know what’s ahead of us over the next three months, at least in rhetoric.

I loved the sense of unity that came from the DNC. I was disappointed by some of the criticisms of Donald Trump, and I’m probably among his strongest critics. I did not appreciate Tim Kaine’s mocking tone when talking about Trump. That’s the sort of speech I would expect from Trump himself. As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” That’s how it should be.

I was a Bernie supporter. Not a rabid supporter, but a firm one. I didn’t appreciate the lack of perspective from the Bernie supporters – that they couldn’t see that once Bernie himself said to support Mrs. Clinton, it was time to get behind her, if only for the purpose of not having a President Trump.

People who have known me for decades know that I support the theory of pure Marxism, although it is impossible in practice , as it does not take into account basic human nature and human emotions. Bernie seemed to be carving a path that took that humanity into account, as he proposed change that many considered socialism. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in this political season, it’s that labels become weights and don’t truly represent the people on whom they are slapped. I am labelled liberal, but I have some very un-liberal stances on important issues. Since I have that label though, no one ever bothers to question what my actual personal beliefs are.

I don’t like labels.

I’m sorry there was so little discussion about the issues and Mrs. Clinton’s plans to address them; there was none of that from Mr. Trump either. Perhaps this was not the correct forum for them. I didn’t really appreciate the DNC trotting out the Mothers Movement group, although I agree with their sentiments. I didn’t appreciate the focus on gun violence, though I agree with the party line in terms of tightening the purchasing loopholes. It seems the conventions are more pep rallys than platforms. I look forward to hearing the one-on-one debates in the future, where hopefully we will be able to hear EACH candidate talk about their plans to address the issues we face as individuals, families, this nation, and this world.

I loved President Obama’s speech. He seems like the most genuine human on the planet, frustrated by eight years of battling a political machine that doesn’t work. I truly believe he felt, when he set out in 2008, that everyone in politics wanted unity, they just didn’t have a leader to guide them. How sadly wrong he was. Professional politicians often don’t want change. Netflix’s House of Cards is, I suspect, a more accurate representation of how things in D.C. work than anything we’ve seen through mainstream media. I never felt that President Obama bought into all that. He really did want to bring hope and change. Now, at the end of his term, he feels more free to speak his mind, share his passions and his disappointments more openly, be less (if you will) politically correct. I appreciate that. I will miss him, and miss the videos we get of him playing with babies, and the smile that almost always reaches his eyes, and how he is classy and passionate at the same time.

I still remember hearing his first speech at his first DNC in 2004. Ex-Pat and I looked at each other, stunned, and just said “Wow. That guy is going to be president someday.” And we were right.

I read Michael Moore’s “5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win” this evening, and his points are all valid. I just hope that we as a nation come to our collective senses and see that Trump is a dangerous and self-centered man who does not have the best interests of people like me and my husband at heart. He is reckless and unskilled, and has only his own interests in mind.

It’s going to be an interesting fall.

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