Saturday, June 29, 2013

Air Conditioning, A Love Story

Let's talk about heat.

And air conditioning.

Air conditioning is, in my humble opinion, the greatest invention in the last 50 years.

It changes worlds!

My first experience with horrible heat was when I went on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to Dallas, Texas.

We had to wear dresses and no pony tails, in order to maintain an adult/business look.

But sweat would remove any and all make-up within 30 seconds of being in the heat. And since we were preaching the gospel on bicycles, wearing make-up was ridiculous. Rather than wear ponytails, we would braid our hair or pull it up in a bun. But buns didn't fit under the bike helmets. So usually, we went for the pippy longstocking look. I looked about 12 on most days.

Phoenix wouldn't be such a large city if there was no air conditioning. I don't have any stories about this. I just thought I'd point this out for anyone who is fond of Phoenix.

When I moved to Washington, DC--the concrete held the humidity and heat. Within a couple of weeks, I cut my hair into a super short pixie cut.

On Monday, the air conditioning went out at work.
On Tuesday, I went to work on Stop Pepper Palmer. We were shooting outdoors.
On Wednesday, the air conditioning at work was still on the fritz. It was a good 87 degrees all day.
On Thursday, we shot scenes inside this house, with no air conditioning. I got to get all lovey dovey with a handsome guy. But despite feeling a genuine fondness for the actor, cuddling isn't ideal in 100 degree heat.
On Friday, we shot scenes where I played a judge in a black suit. No air conditioning.

Apparently, if you put hair spray on your face, it stops the sweating. I was still sweating bullets though. My body just sweats a lot. I thought about all the actors who get botox--and I realized--the real reason for botox is to stop the forehead sprinklers!

After 5 days of living without air conditioning for the general bulk of the day, I am grateful for the cool breeze of central air.

If you look at our faces, you'd never guess that it was 103 degrees with hot lights from the film shining on us. Kudos to make-up artist Elise Hanson for standing by with powder, tissue, and hairspray. Also, I had a bottle of cold water down my back.

Today, I am grateful for air conditioning, the people who invented air conditioning, the people who fix air conditioning, and the people who turn on the air conditioning while I'm there.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Watermelon

I carried a watermelon into the house a few weeks ago.

It was heavy.

I decided to weigh it.

It was 20 pounds.

I've let go of more than an entire watermelon of weight that I was carrying around on my skeleton.

I feel like I talk about this too much, but honestly, it's more than losing a watermelon, it's gaining a new way to look at food. And I'm really happy that this new way of looking at food sits so well with me. It doesn't feel unnatural or burdensome. I'm really enjoying making healthier choices. The difference between how I feel dieting now, and how I have felt losing weight in the past is pretty nifty to me. 


Yesterday was my first day of filming for Stop Pepper Palmer. 

I haven't been a film set in about 10 years.

I was nervous. I ran my lines a thousand times, but I was still nervous. 

Now I know why I spent 4 years doing yoga and relaxation exercises at BYU. You have to find a way to center yourself and find your focus. I focus with my eyes. I find the place or person I'm looking at and let things come together with the eyes. But I couldn't quite figured out how to look towards the camera, but not at it during my close-up shots. There's just a lot to think about. I had to look at three different spots during one of my speeches and the other actors stood in places for me so I could have places to focus on as they shot my speech. I was so grateful for their help.

 My dad moved from Iowa to Utah on Sunday. It was a last minute decision, but I'm glad he's here.

I feel like there are good things for him to do here.

Now I'm hoping my brother Matthew will move here too.

Utah is a beautiful place, but more than that, every place you go is just a collection of scenery, people, conversations, post offices, grocery stores, and assorted hangouts. It's people that make a place more than just a place. I travel because I want to see people, not places. When Matthew moves back, I'll love Utah all the more. In the meantime, I'll just continue to visit Iowa every year, since it houses some of my very favorite people in the world.


Today I am grateful for watermelon, the cast and crew of Stop Pepper Palmer, and family.

Good Food

I just enjoyed a beautiful meal with my dad at Christopher's Steakhouse in downtown Salt Lake City.  It was incredible. I ate the most divine almond crusted brie, drizzled in honey, sitting in raspberry sauce. Oh my word.

Today I am grateful for delicious food, spending time with my dad and good food.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Uncomfortable Waving of Arms

At 35 years old, I have carefully crafted a life where I don't have to do things that I am not good at.

I count this crafting as one of my flaws. I should be doing things that are scary. I should choose to do things that I am not as experienced with.

But I'm comfortable with my set of skills and my world.

Last night, I got a text from the ward choir director that he wasn't going to make it today and that I was going to need to conduct the choir.

I don't conduct. I am very comfortable assisting--making copies, running warm-ups, teaching parts. But I am really uncomfortable conducting music. I don't have the foggiest clue how to conduct music. Well, I can conduct sort of. But choirs require finesse and skill. They require starting and stopping. I just don't feel comfortable conducting the choir.

But I did it. And the choir was merciful and kind. They followed me despite my random wavings. The accompanist did a great job. Everything was lovely. The choir sang all 7 verses of the hymn, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief", in honor of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith on June 25, 1844. Just before they died, they sang this hymn. So we sang it today. It started with one solo--sung beautifully by Travis Hyer. Then another tenor joined in.  The first verse finished with all of the men singing together. Every verse was a little different. At the end of the song, men and women sang in unison.

I was so pleased with how it went.

Years ago, I had this moment where I stood at the Mississippi River and imagined all the people who had crossed the river. All the pioneering women and men, standing at the edge of that river, imagining the future.  And there I was, returning from that future, standing on the same shores, looking at the same mighty Mississippi.

Today we experienced the same soaring melody and heard the same words that the brothers Joseph and Hyrum heard just before they died.

I waived my arms around. I did something I wasn't comfortable doing. And everything worked like a song.

Maybe I should do things I'm uncomfortable with more often.

Today I'm grateful for music, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and opportunities to do things that feel scary.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Occupying the Same Space

She shuffled in shyly, but with purpose, apologizing over and over again for her seeming offense. There was nothing to apologize for. I tried to express my confidence in her and thank her for her understanding.

Physically, she stands tall, but hunched. Her hair would be blonde, if it was clean. As it was, it was brown with dirt and oils. She is losing her hair. Her face is hard with whiskers. Her arms are covered with tiny scars. Both arms. Despite the hunch and the shuffle, she walked with purpose. She was there to help her friends. Her purpose in service elevated her. If I was to draw her, I would paint her in shades of blue with light glowing from her strong face. She would be floating with power and majesty. Radiant.

Not an hour later, I passed by two women packing their children away in their identical Mercedes Benz SUVs. I heard one woman say to the other, "Let's do lunch and manicures next Wednesday!" Both in jean capris and brightly colored layered tee-shirts. Very clean. Very tan. And very pretty. If I were to paint those women, I would paint them in golden fields of wheat with cotton eyelit lace dresses, joyfully reaping harvest from the earth.

Then there's me. Somewhere in between. My comfortable cotton dress, my checkered vans,  my unbrushed hair, thrown up in a quick bun, my reliable car. But if I were to paint myself, I'd paint myself rooted in fire looking towards a white light. I would paint all my glorious fat and my mouth caught in a belly shaking laugh.

We all occupy the same space. Worlds within worlds. All touching and overlapping.

Today I am grateful to be a woman on this earth at this time.

Friday, June 21, 2013


I've picked up some old habits...



Curse you Candy Crush Saga and your never ending time suckageness!!

And, even though I've seen every episode 4 times, I still can't tear myself away from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

I would never curse Buffy.

Buffy is cursed enough.

Poor girl.

Favorite episode: Something Blue.

Favorite character: Anya

Today I am grateful for inane games, exciting and funny tv, strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, cashews, steak, food in general, and the fact that I haven't broken a nail in a while.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rodgers and Hammerstein

Last night, we sat around the musical director, reviewing the music for Carousel. 

We sang the final number, "And don't be afraid of the dark, at the end of the storm is a golden sky, and the sweet, silver song of a lark. Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone, You'll never walk alone."

I imagined the women sitting in the audiences in 1945.

I imagined the fathers, mothers, wives, sisters, brothers, and children who had lost loved ones in the war.

And as I sang the words, I was overcome with emotion imagining their experience hearing these words for the first time.

It's sad that we need this message today as much as we needed it then.

Today, I'm grateful for Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Try not to cry. I dare you.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Something Is In The Hot Summer Air

Yesterday there was a feeling of sadness in the air.

The homeless people were depressed.

One homeless lady came in the office with stab wounds.

Another homeless guy came in, heartbroken, and said, "I got some dust in my eye and I was weaving as I walked--so the police gave me a $300 ticket because he thought I was drunk." He wasn't. He's just old.

Then another man came in and said, "I'm just so sad today. I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm trying everything and nothing is working." He is. He works so hard.

Another guy, "Workforce services wants my birth certificate!"  He's been here for 6 generations.

The heat is making people stir crazy.

The homeless people who come visit me are often the most optimistic people you could meet. They have to be. You can't survive this kind of life without some ounce of optimism. They don't have the luxury of crying into their pillows and lying in bed all day. They don't have beds!

So when the homeless are depressed, something is going on.

Just sharing in case anyone else is having a no good horrible day.

What a Girl Wants


I'm not feeling really great today.

So how do I turn things around?

I know why I've been sad. This is the same ol' same ol'. And focusing on this won't help me to move forward.

So where do I look? I have to look up. I have to look ahead.

I need to continue to enjoy life and to stop allowing these life sucking elements into the room.

I want uncomplicated, sweet, soul revealing, generous, sincere moments.

I want safe. I want giddy. I want comfortable.

I don't want to guess because I want to trust.

I want consistent and enduring.

I want grown up.

I want vulnerable and safe all at the same time.

Can you find that for me?

Cause that's what I want. 

Today I am grateful for my work, my friends, my car, my bed and fruit smoothies.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Good Men and Great Fathers

So you remember how I said on Mother's Day that I really don't see the need to wish me a Happy Mother's Day since I haven't had any kids and mothers with kiddos deserve all the props? Well, today I'm going to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the good men in my life who, whether they have children or not, are good fathers.

I want to wish a Happy Fathers Day to my two dads today first. Brent and John. (I am so lucky!) I want to give my love to my Popop. I want to give a heavenly salute to my Grandpa Jon. I never knew you, but I sure like your daughter.

I want to thank the good bosses I've had over the years. John Bozeman gave me my job teaching at Stratford University and expanded my teaching experiences over three years. Stephan Ross is a joy to work for now--and a great friend!

I want to give a shout out to the good dads I see among my friends. I love the way you post pictures of your kids, the way you go out of your way to be with your kids and how you shape your lives around them. I am so impressed with your dedication. Your worry lines and quick smiles speak of the constant thought you give to your role as father.

And finally, I want to give a shout out to my friends who are like me-- not yet fathers, but amazing men none the less. That qualities of being a father reside in you. With every show you direct, or group of people you take hiking, or service expedition you organize. Every time you visit a friend in need, or fix someone's car, or share a piece of a wisdom that you gleaned. Every time you give up a Saturday morning to move furniture, or counsel with a young relative, or cook up a tasty dinner--you're channeling that inner father.

I am so blessed to know such good men. You make the world a better place. We are all blessed to know you.

Today I am grateful for good men and this beautiful Father's Day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Dad, John Speer

This is my dad.

They say that we all see ourselves as the center of our own universe. And why not? Everything in this world begins and ends according to my perspective. I recognize other perspectives, but I'm an authority on my perspective. And so I speak of my father from my perspective.

My dad was born in Ohio--the middle child of three, and only son of a beautiful couple: Jack and Janet.

My brother Jack and I visited his childhood home when we were small children. It was our first plane ride alone. His backyard rolled into the neighbors yards so that there was an ongoing field for playing games with the other kids. The home was warm and happy. There was an organ in the front room.

There must have been a piano there, but I don't recall seeing it.

He told me that he got sick eating whipped cream, so I have a picture of him in my mind, eating whipped cream and getting sick.

There must have been a piano there because ever since I remember, my dad has played the piano. I remember being at a neighbor's home when I was about 4 or 5. I was picking away at the piano and my dad decided then that it was time for me to start taking piano lessons.

I remember playing "Heart and Soul" with him. He was a stickler for rhythm.

I remember he would play the piano and my mom would sing with him.

They were a very young couple. He was 25 and she was 21 when they got married.  And less than a year later, I was born. 18 months after that, Jack was born, and less than 3 years after that--Matthew was born.

Before we came along, he was a college kid at Miami University. He met the missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and decided to be baptized. He finished his freshman year, and then moved out to BYU. He served a mission for the LDS Church in California. I don't know whether he went to school first or on the mission first.

Those experiences brought him to my mother. After 11 years together, they divorced.

While he lived with us, I remember learning to tie my shoes, personal interviews, singing, and playing the piano. I remember many gospel discussions. Faith is important when your parents are converts. It's new, it's exciting, and it's important.

After the divorce, he married a sweet woman named Ruthann. She had four daughters from a previous marriage. We visited their home once or twice a month, as time permitted. I remember spending Thanksgiving and Christmases with them. My dad's birthday is on Christmas, so it's a big day when you're with him. 

Ruthann gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, a still born. I remember riding to the funeral and the burial site. It was a sad day. But soon after, Bethany was born. I love that girl.

During my junior high and high school years, my dad would come to Tremonton and pick us up for weekend visits. We would go to West Jordan to stay with him and Ruthann--or we'd go to Deer Valley to stay with my dad's extended family during summer trips.

I remember that my dad had an air of melancholy and thoughtfulness about him--but he prioritized laughter. I think all of his children inherited that. We are serious and introverted--but we understand the importance of life's experiences with one another and the value of joy.

After about five years, Ruthann and my dad divorced and he took a job in Iowa. He moved there with my brothers. I can't remember which one went with him at first--it's all a blur to me really.

While he was there, he met Elaine. Elaine had two children, around our same ages. She was involved in the theatre and in the transcendental meditation community in Iowa. My dad fell in love with her, meditation, and the entire community of Fairfield, Iowa.

They were married for about 15 years. I still think they might get back together again. But maybe that's just wishful thinking.

When I had just finished college, I found myself in a holding place. I knew I needed to do something. So I packed up my car, and I moved to Iowa. My dad and Elaine lived in a beautiful old house. Elaine created this wonderfully inviting room for me to stay in on the top floor. I felt like a princess. Hardwood floors, beautiful bed. Everything was so colorful. It felt like a home out of a magazine.

Eventually, I found work and another place to stay. I loved to visit with my dad about the same things over and over-music, theatre, faith. We would watch American Idol together and go on long walks with the dogs. It was a nice time for me to get to know my father again after years in college, on a mission, and the busy days of high school.

While I was living in Iowa, my brother Jack passed away. At the time of his passing, my dad's sisters and parents were visiting. I remember driving from Iowa City to Fairfield to be with them. I walked into a room filled with grief. There is nothing so heart breaking as seeing a father and a grandfather weep over the loss of the first grandson.

I left Iowa a year later, but I visited every so often, and he came to see me in Virginia once. It was so much fun showing him around the Blackfriars Theatre. I remember he sat front and center to see our production of Hamlet and he physically wept with Ophelia.

A couple of years ago, he came to see me perform as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and meet his grandson Kannon. Matt came with him. and my mom joined us for breakfast at my apartment. We  enjoyed a beautiful reunion. It was interesting to be together as adults with our parents.

I've visited him twice since then. Both times, I've seen different incarnations of his gifts. During one visit, he was using his skills as a public relations and theatre guru to helm a new performance space in Burlington. The next time I visited, he was honoring his spiritual gifts as a devotee of meditation, living in monk like simplicity, but still teaching at the college. He's always teaching.

In my father lives a wise old man and an eager child. He longs to escape in his mind, but he illuminates the moment when he's present.

I am forever connected to him by blood and by love. 

As his daughter, I wish him happiness.

Today, I am grateful for my dad, John Speer.


 By the Pool
 At the River
 In The Valley
 On the Path
 In the Trees
 In the Music
 In The Wildflowers
In the Evening

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Past is In the Present

We walked into the restaurant. Dark wood paneling, beautiful cloth napkins, vaulted ceilings.

Everyone looked so fancy.

The three of us plodded through the restaurant to our seats. Our table overlooked the whole restaurant.

Today, we talked about how my great great grandma Stella passed away at the young age of 42 after having 10 children and several miscarriages. Her father was a Swede--John Swanson. Her husband--Nelson Edward Parsons--carried her away from Ohio to Oklahoma. I don't remember if it was a state or not at the time. Their daughter, my great grandmother, Thelma, was a flapper girl turned nursing student who returned home to care for her younger siblings after her mother passed away. My grandmother spent her childhood traveling with her mother as she worked as a nurse or playing on the farm with her grandpa and her aunts and uncles.

She talked about living with her mother in a hospital in Wyoming.

Can you imagine being the only daughter to a single traveling nurse in the 1930s? What an adventurous life!

We splurged and enjoyed the bacon wrapped filet mignon and the creme brulee. It was delicious.

Now, I'm back at work, thinking about how good the food was and how I'm going to avoid eating again until tomorrow morning.

I'm listening to beautiful music, studying my lines, vacuuming, making lists, fixing things, taking care of customers, and feeling good.

The depression started in 1929 with the crash of the stock market--and the recession started in 2007 with the crash of the housing market. My grandmother, Joann,  was born in March 1932--just three years after the crash. My great grandmother Thelma Parsons Kirkpatrick, was born in 1909--before World War I and World War II.

Let's compare. Let's overlap time a little bit. Let's say Joann was born three years after the housing crash--in 2010. And her mother was born 23 years before in 1987. And during the time between 1994 and the birth of her daughter--there was a large war in a foreign land.

In the past, this mother and daughter faced a long economic recession together that ended with a World War--just 9 years after my grandmother was born.

I am not a doomsday prophet or a cynic, but I love to study the past. History repeats itself. If overlapping history shows us anything--we're in for some world shaking events.

So right now, in this quiet moment, as I enjoy lunch in a beautiful restaurant, as I listen to a little Punch Brothers on Spotify, I am going to be grateful for today.

I'll deal with the surprises of life with the grace and wit I inherited from my ancestors.

After the war, my great grandmother met and fell in love with a handsome soldier, Jack Kirkpatrick. That was in 1946. She was 37.  They lived happily ever after into their 80s.

I am 35. And since history generally repeats itself, I look forward to enjoying the company of a good man myself, in good time. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How I've Been Changing My Weight

I've been changing my weight over the past few weeks. A friend asked me how I was doing it...

So here are some things I'm doing.

1) Be accountable to someone other than yourself. I'm in a weight loss competition. This means that I have a group of people who are losing weight with me. It helps to be able to encourage one another--and it feels like eating right is a weekly endeavor--rather than an overwhelming never ending battle.

The amount of weight I have to lose is discouraging--but I can be good one week at a time and look for weekly improvements.

2) Write it down. The woman who started the weightloss competition gave us each a diet notebook. It was so much fun to fill it out! I love my calorie counting app--but I used the physical notebook the first two weeks. And now I fill it in later. The act of writing the food down keeps me aware of what I'm choosing. It makes a difference.

3) Give yourself limits--But Start with Minimal Limits.  I know myself. I naturally rebel against diets. I hate the limitations. I crave everything I'm not supposed to have. When I first started--my only limitation was that I TRY to eat around 1800 calories a day--but if I went over--no big deal. And I did. A few times. But I didn't bust the bank. I knew that I had to write it down--so it made me think about my choices. Is a 700 calorie steak worth the calories? Is a salted caramel cake worth the calories? HELLLLL YESSSS!! And I enjoyed every bite more than I ever would have if I wasn't writing down those calories. The other limitation--I had to try to drink 150 ounces of water every day. I was constantly refilling my water bottle. And going to the rest room.

4) Enjoy food! I've had a great time relishing food and just enjoying my favorite foods.

5) Never get hungry. My mom likes Balance Bars. I bought myself some. I like them! They're tasty! And I bought the weightloss shakes. I also bought a big thing of nuts. Every couple of hours, I'll check in with myself and make sure I'm not getting hungry. If I feel myself getting hungry--I have a shake or a bar or some nuts.

6) Take Vitamins. I also like to take fiber pills too. Energy pills are energizing and take away the appetite--but since I want to eat during the day--they're not really that helpful for me. Energize yourself with vitamins from fruits, veggies and vitamins!

6) Add Limitations Later. I realize that for me, I needed to get used to my minimal limitations before I added new ones. I started on May 20th. On June 8th, I decided to add this rule:

          No food--except vegetables or herbal tea--after 7pm. 

There's something really nice about having an empty stomach when you go to sleep. But this only works if you have consciously made sure to eat plenty BEFORE 7pm.

My suggestion to you--write everything down and give yourself one or two rules that you KNOW you can follow. Then if you want to add all the "no sugar", "no gluten", "dance a circle in black sand under the light of the full moon" stuff later--Go to town!

And as for exercise--enjoy it! It will energize you and keep you in touch with your body. I am enjoying it more because I have less weight to carry around on my skeleton. I carried a 20 pound watermelon into the house the other day. It was heavy. That's how much weight has been released from my body! That's my favorite part of this. I'm so far away from looking skinny--that it's really not a motivator--but imagining 20 pounds lifted from my aching bones--that MOTIVATES me!

As for exercise being a tool for weight loss--I could work out for days--but I know that keeping track of my food is way more important to my weight loss. Exercise is an important part of losing weight--but the benefits aren't burning calories--they're about releasing endorphins that keep you encouraged, oxygen, learning to love your human body--these things matter more to me.

I hope this is helpful for anyone on the fence about dieting.

By allowing myself permission to eat whatever I want, I avoid the dreaded "last supper" mentality where you spend your nights enjoying the "last donut", "last Ben and Jerry's". I had 6 donuts last week and a pint of Ben and Jerry's. I'm not proud of that, but I had it. Because that's a part of life. Somedays you just want a freaking donut--or 6.

Okay, I need to stop writing now! Good luck! 

"When You Help Others, You Can't Help Helping Yourself!"

There's a great song from Avenue Q called "The Money Song". The gist of the song is this:

"When you help others, you can't help helping yourself!" And the puppets find great joy giving to others. One of the characters is homeless--and he gives his money towards a worthy cause, and the audience hears this magical piano underscore his new found joy in sharing with others.

This is Giver. (changed name obviously)

I told you yesterday about how he lost his job and how he's staying at the shelter.

I mentioned that he walks and busses miles on end to get the best priced drinks and ice to sell at different job sites.

He is working hard every day, and he's saving every penny, hoping his little drink vending business will grow.

This afternoon, he came in with a big smile. I asked him about his day.

He told me that a couple of the younger boys at the shelter have been watching him work--and they're inspired. So he's taking them under his wing. He was so excited as he talked about how he's going to help one guy get proper identification and get his own vendor's license and how he's going to teach him how to keep a ledger. And he's going to help the other guy get proper clothes and shoes. (His own shirt has a hole in the back.) He talked about how he knows different companies that might not hire him, since he's older--but he wants to help these boys become eligible for work because they're young enough to take on these other jobs.

He was glowing. Not only is this homeless man working hard every day to build his own business, but he's now started mentoring other young guys at the homeless shelter.

He said that all he asks for in return is that they stay away from the drugs.

I wish I had words to describe the joy he took as he described mentoring these young men.

There's nothing so powerful as a story of hope playing out in front of you. This is a man in similar circumstances--who is showing the other folks at the shelter that they can be happy and successful even in poverty.

I am so grateful to know him.

Monday, June 10, 2013


America is a pretty great place.

A few weeks ago, a man came into the storage unit and told me his story.

He had just been fired. He didn't have the means to pay his rent, so he moved everything out and was going to tough it out in the shelter until he found a job.

In the meantime, I've seen him work hard every day.

With his unemployment money, he bought himself a little trolley. He buys cold sodas at a plant about 20 blocks away--and sells it in three different locations throughout the day. He will walk an extra mile to get lower prices and he keeps track of his profits--making sure he always has enough to continue his business the next day.

He is old, worn out, but energized by this opportunity to prove himself and move forward.

A couple months ago a little family came into the storage unit. They moved from back east to find work. They were excited to be in a new state with new opportunities. They were staying at the shelter too. I see this couple often. I love hearing how their son is doing well with his friends at school and how she gets up early in the morning to walk him to school. The father found a job that he enjoys and now they're just saving up money to move into an apartment.

Another man came into the storage facility about 6 weeks ago--just off the bus from the midwest. He had lost his job too. He asked every question he could think to ask about opportunities in the area. I gave him information on where to look for jobs--and a little map of the city and free destinations to enjoy while he was in our fair city.

He returns often to tell me about his adventures. He is working with a temp agency as often as he can and he heads over to Home Depot and Lowe's on other days to get in a full day's work.

I asked him today, "Are they taking advantage of you?"

He replied, "I'm humble and grateful for anything I can get."

I have so much to be grateful for today.  I am especially grateful for the opportunity to see these friends demonstrate the power of hope and hard work.

Isn't that what America is all about?

(Sidenote:  I just found out that this little family found a place to live. More hope!) 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Complications

Today my grandma shared an observation she made in a conversation with a girl in her Sunday School class. The girl commented on how early people used to get married. My grandma noted she was one of those young girls. She told her that her mother wanted her to wait until she was older, but that she now has a grand daughter whose mother wishes she had married younger. 

She made the comment in passing, but it made me wonder. I never realized that my mom was disappointed in me in the same way my great grandmother was disappointed when my grandmother eloped at 18.

I began to wonder if I had any more choice in the matter than she did. They married young, had three kids, and 12 years together before he died. Marrying later would have led to a completely different life.

I look at my life and wonder where I made decisions that that took me away from marriage.

I really only thought about it for a moment.

Later tonight, I settled into the couch and turned on the TV. I watched a couple episodes of Sex and the City. It was the one where Carrie's ex, Mr. Big, gets engaged to Natasha and Carrie has to come to terms with why he chose to marry this other woman and not her.

Yup. Kinda perfect.

Carrie resolves that there are just some women too complicated for some men.
I am not simple. I am pretty drama free, but I am a beautiful mystery. And the only way I'm getting married is when I someday find my match.

Today I'm grateful to be one of those funny jagged little puzzle pieces.  My guy is complicated and wonderful and I look forward to enjoying how we two weird ones fit together. In the meantime, I will enjoy being single in my 30s.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Love and Memory

Imagine you're 81 years old.

You decide to move from your two-story, split level home--4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms--into a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom ground floor condo.

It makes sense. It costs money to cool a large house and at 81, it's difficult getting up and down stairs.

You decide sooner is better than later, so you tell your children that you plan to move within the month.

Somehow it will all work out.

You give away items every time a loved one visits, endowing them with books, appliances, pictures, canned goods and whatever else you can get them to take.

You clear out media, videos, and about 1/4 of your books--donating them.

You have a charity coming to take old furniture for donation to their company.

But now you're to the point where everything feels significant and the act of moving is weighing you down.

So your granddaughter comes over to help move dishes. She begins to pack each plate carefully--noticing mismatched goblets and flutes. But you can't get rid of the tall champagne glass! That was from your grandson's wedding! And four gravy bowls... you might not have the energy to host a large dinner, but a good cook is always prepared to host a feast. So you pack it all. All the memories must go. Everything feels significant. Every book you've read, every spoon, glass. You let her throw out one water stained glass--but even that felt difficult.

How do you let go without dismissing the memory?

It's easier to just hold on and let someone else do it later.

What if you die and your grandson discovers you didn't keep the champagne glass from his wedding? What would he think? Would he know that you cherished it for years after?

All these things are evidences of love. The love that lives in the memories and the love you feel for the memory as you hold onto it.

I imagine at 81, I'll cling to certain funny little items too.

Today I am grateful that love and memory is easily portable.
And for the less portable memories-I'm grateful for moving boxes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I am a Character

I've spent the day of Facebook looking at characters.

I am loving it.

I've been working too.... Good things happening at work... lest you wonder.

So here are some characters that define me, or who I aspire to be like.

Anya, dressed as a terrifying bunny in Buffy.  A powerful capitalist woman who loves with abandon.

Doctor Who's Donna Noble. The hilarious woman with beautiful dreams who has the power to save the world and doesn't even know it.

He's an adventurer! Without fear! Totally joyous!

Motivated beyond his measure. He loves cheese.

I want her power and drive. I love her face.

Because I am awesome with kids. And she's magical. And so am I.

I aspire to be this skilled.

But, of course, Mad Madame Mim has it all.

Today I am grateful for the many different qualities that make up the woman that I am, and the woman I aspire to be. I am also grateful for a slew of inspiration all around me!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Reasons I Should Be Happier

So I just spent the last post feeling my pain....

But now I'm feeling happy.

And here's why.

1. I'm in a freaking movie! And it's awesome!
2. The Avenue Q cast performed at the Pride Festival right after Alex (Unique) from GLEE! And they completely killed it!!

3. I made a new playlist yesterday called Hiphop Love. It includes Robin Thicke, Macklemore, and some reggae. It makes me very happy.

4. At the dinner party, a few friends brought their kids over and the kids caught a little duckling!! I didn't touch it because I don't want rabies--but it was so cute to see the kids catch it! Let them get rabies--it'll be a growing experience for them. Kids like growing, right?

5. Despite all I had to get done yesterday, I totally rocked it! I got it done!

6. Even though I didn't walk Sunday or Monday--I walked for 2 hours on Saturday! Like a freakin' boss!

7. I'm eating strawberries. 

This isn't me sublimating my pain--this is my reveling in my joy.

Right now,  I'm grateful for Nas & Damian and really good summertime music.

Learning to Feel

These are the times that try men's souls....

I haven't blogged since Friday...

I haven't walked since Saturday....

Today is Tuesday.

To my credit, yesterday was the first business day of the month and I had to submit all the month end reports to the higherups. And the owner decided to pay a long visit. And I redesigned the ads on the readerboards, and I rented out 3 new units.... Then I came home and hosted a small dinner party.

It was a busy day.

Sunday wasn't much better. We had a rehearsal for Lonzo Liggin's feature film Stop Pepper Palmer in preparation for the shoot starting in 10 days. Then, I headed over to the theatre for a 5pm performance of Avenue Q. And what about church, you ask? Yeah.... that didn't happen this week. I missed it.

Saturday, I had so much energy! I went into work to help out my asst manager--since it was a super busy day--then I headed to the river to go for a long walk. I walked for about 2 hours--with no sunscreen. It felt breezy. I wasn't wearing a bathing suit.

I turned into a crispy critter. My skin is fried.

Fried skin hurts.

I am the type of person who sublimates pain. I feel it, but I don't FEEL it.

I just get grumpy and irritated. I feel worn out.

And then it dawns on me.... "Hey Self, I think you're in a lot of pain!"

That's how I got to be so heavy. I really didn't notice that I was putting on so much weight until I woke up and everything just always hurt.

Sublimating pain.

I do the same emotionally. "Self, it doesn't really hurt when you're rejected by (insert name of person I care for)!"

But it does.

I just don't let the pain rise to the surface. I sublimate.

But it's still there, festering, digging, pricking.

And then it undoes me.

It festers until it undoes my energy, my motivation, my will.

In order to continue to make healthy choices--I have to make myself feel the pain and address it.

I've learned that I am an unconscious eater--I sublimate hunger and fulness as well. I have had to teach myself to recognize when I am hungry--and honor my hunger--as well as recognize when I am full and honor that feeling as well.

In order to keep moving forward--I must continue to take the time to post my gratitude every day, to be conscious and accountable for my eating decisions, and to honor my feelings--whether they be feelings of hunger, physical pain, or emotional pain.

While the past three days have been filled with noble pursuits--I must continue to prioritize myself as well. In the past, I have learned to sublimate my own needs in order to accomplish other tasks.

This has to stop.

Today, I am grateful for a moment to reflect, learn, and move forward.

I am also grateful for tea tree oil, solarcaine, ibuprofin, and vinegar.