Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tears of Joy


 

Man, this parenting gig is a roller coaster.

I finally see what parents who have come before me mean when they say "it flies by."

Sofia is 9. Half way to 18.

The gradual process to adulthood has begun.

She's recently started walking to and from school by herself, and she's more self-sufficient these days (mostly).

It's a beautiful thing, really, and so natural.

But also bittersweet.

She's beaming with pride and exuding a new-found confidence. When she gets home from school, her body language and huge grin say "Mom, I did it!"

I'm so proud of her and I'm starting to see the young woman she will one day be.

But I can't lie. It's a transition for me. Since choosing to work part-time from home, part of my "job" has been to walk Sofia to and from school. Yes I'm gaining more time on both ends of the day, but I'm missing our routine of walking to school hand in hand (when she will let me) and giving her a hug and a kiss to send her off on her day. I also miss seeing my school community of other parents.

This morning when Sofia left for school I felt like my heart was walking out the door as I choked back tears.

I know this is only the beginning. I'm holding onto the special moments and enjoying the ride.

Any sage advice from those who've come before me?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Words Matter




I truly believe in the power of words to inspire, to activate, to change the world.

But actions matter more.

In other words (pun intended), it's not just what you say or think it's what you DO.

It's living your values.

I have several mantras—combinations of words—that guide my life.

Take my 3 G's mantra above. It embodies a whole new meaning when I add the verbs—the action words: notice, show, trust.  

It's noticing when someone shows grace and lets me in in rush hour traffic.

It's sending a thank you note for a kind gesture.

It's trusting God that everything will be ok.

Let's hope the vitriolic words that have been flying around the last several months will not be put into action, and will be replaced by caring and compassionate actions.

What words inspire you to take action?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Path Ahead



Yesterday, my father-in-law shared the below letter he wrote with our family. He's allowed me to share his wise and comforting words with you all, my extended family. It's beautifully and thoughtfully written. We read it together last night with Sofia and look forward to the healthy dialogue it's started.

Peace be with you dear ones. Let's hold each other close during this time of uncertainty.


THE PATH AHEAD BY DICK ANDERSON, 11/9/16

My dear family: 

By a razor thin margin, our voters have handed over to Republicans the keys to our entire country.   The world will not come to an end.  It is time for the healing to begin and for us to figure out how to come together to help solve the very difficult problems that have been too long neglected by both political parties.  Each of us has a part to play in helping to make things better.  We need to get past the grief of loss and immediately start down the pathway toward reconciliation. 

For much too long, our political system has been failing, especially at the federal level.  Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of grid-locking our political process.  Both parties have stymied efforts to address the real problems that we face:  income inequality, racial tensions, joblessness, barriers to affordable health care, declining infrastructure, immigration burdens, climate change issues, foreign conflicts, and many other foreign policy challenges.  These are very difficult problems that need to be addressed by a functioning federal government.  Everyone needs to pull together to help make it function better.  

Let us look to Amy (blog) for how to begin.  She has reminded us to focus on two powerful words: kindness and love.  Let me add two more words:  respect and civility.  Together, these words form the core of a strategy to help move things forward.  Let us start by addressing the anger that we feel toward supporters of the other side.  Let us try to put ourselves in their shoes and shed light on how they feel.  Let us recognize where there is legitimate pain and suffering.  Let us extend our hands to those who are hurting and have looked to Donald Trump for relief.  Let us resist the urge to lash out at them and blame them for defeating Hilary.  Let us speak respectfully about them and with them.  Let us work to find common ground with them. Let us acknowledge their pain and help to relieve it.  Let us help to define and support ways to help them.  Let us have faith that, fundamentally, our political system is sound and can work if we give it a chance and work collaboratively with those who have the power to fix things.

Let us resist anger and divisiveness.  These are non-productive impulses and they sap our energy.  Our country is much too polarized already.  What can we do to help diminish anger and repair relations with the other side?   Let us start by being more open minded about what we read and hear.  Let us believe that most people are of good will and want to do the right thing. Let us confront our prejudices.  Let us resist filtering out things that conflict with our values and beliefs.  Let us work with the other side to find common ground that will enable problem solving.  Let us acknowledge the complexity of our most difficult problems and resist thinking they can be easily solved by “magic bullets."

Let us get past the shock of the election outcome and the sense of grief over lost opportunities. It may take some time to move on and we should respect the need for a period of grieving.  But, we must move on.  The Republicans have been given a mandate to govern and should be expected to move forward with alacrity.  We should expect they will be able to get some good things done unless there is significant resistance from Democrats.  If new laws are passed or old laws are undone, we should expect Republicans will get most of the praise for successes and most of the blame for failures.  If Democrats focus on supporting good public policy and good things happen, the outcome could be win-win for both sides.  This is not to say that Democrats should lay down and be steam-rolled.  If Democrats mainly focus on obstructing Republican proposals, we should expect a further backlash against Democrats in the mid-term elections two years from how.  I say, give the Republicans a chance, be responsible in where to pick fights over their initiatives, and be as constructive as possible in helping to make good outcomes for our country.

Finally, let us be confident that there are better times ahead for everyone.  We already have come a long way toward improving everyone’s lives.  For most of us, it already is the best of all times.  Medical care has never been better.  The same can be said about communications.  The whole world is at our fingertips.  We are prosperous in many dimensions.  We are a rich country with bounteous resources.  But too many people are hurting and are unable to share in the good fortune.  Our challenge is to make our system of government work better for them.  This can only happen if we support collaborative efforts to achieve the common good.

Be of good faith.

Dick

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Loving Kindness




I woke up this morning deeply saddened by the outcome of the election. I asked myself and others a lot of questions. How could this happen? Do we really live in that big of a bubble? What do we tell Sofia?  Is he really that bad?  What do we do next? 

I turned to a few coping mechanisms that have helped me through tough times in the past and I wanted to share them with you in hopes that they will provide some comfort and healing as we tread through this uncharted territory.

First, I decided to hold my favorite mantra/verse close today: "Do not fear, only believe." - Mark 5:36

Then I pulled out my watercolors to do the above painting. Brushing color across the blank page was calming. 

I dressed in my brightest clothes to take Sofia to school - to cheer myself and others up. Color heals. 

I watched Hillary's concession speech - which was beautiful, strong and emotional. 

In between all of this, I cried, I talked and texted with like-minded friends, I cried some more. 

Then I did this guided Loving Kindness meditation - which helped a lot. I even held up Donald Trump in my meditation and decided if love trumps hate then I cannot hate Donald Trump. I felt an amazing sense of calm and relief after meditating. I highly recommend it!

And then I decided to go on a media/social media diet. At this point I feel like both sides are propagating fear and I need to find answers and peace in other ways. 

I hope one or more of these ideas resonates with you. 

How are you creating peace with the outcome of the election? 


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Kindness Matters



KINDNESS:
The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.


It's Election Day and I feel compelled to write a post I've been thinking about for several weeks. 

It's a simple message really: BE KIND TO EVERYONE.





Here are a few do's and don'ts:

DO:
- Smile at strangers
- Be gentle with yourself and others
- Be inclusive
- Say "I love you" more
- Say hello to homeless people
- Give an extra tip at your coffee shop
- Support causes you believe in
- BELIEVE everything will work out

DON'T:
- Judge - everyone is doing their best
- Gossip - it's toxic
- Perpetuate fear
- Stop believing

No matter the outcome of the polls, PLEASE CHOOSE KINDNESS!

Let's start a movement.

#kindnessmatters




xoxo,

Amy

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!



We don't usually decorate much for Halloween but this year Sofia insisted. It ended up being a lot of fun decorating and entertaining. I realize I'm better at table top décor than scary, spooky outdoor displays.  Here's a look at our orange and black themed décor.








I bought this mask to wear but it ended up looking better on our front door!




This year Sofia also insisted that we go to a pumpkin farm rather than buying our pumpkins at the grocery store. I took her and a friend last week on the rainiest day of the week. Needless to say we had the farm to ourselves, and it was a fun adventure!












Happy Halloween from our little pumpkins to yours!






Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fall Fleurs


“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” 
-Albert Camus 


Yesterday morning after dropping our kids off at school, my friend and former job share partner at Starbucks, Heidi, and I went leaf picking.

She asked me to help her collect the perfect colors of leaves for a photo shoot for the new Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend packaging. Without giving too much away, she said the coffee packaging has a lot of "my" orange on it.

We had so much fun noticing the beauty and uniqueness of each leaf. We strolled. We commented. We picked. It was almost addictive. It's like stopping to smell the roses, but using a different sense. Oh what fun!

In the middle of it Heidi suggested she should write a guest post for my blog - behind the scenes at the photo shoot. No pressure, Heidi, but I think that would be great!

In the meantime, I had fun staging my own little photo shoot at home with some of the lovelies we picked up.

Did you know Thanksgiving is only 29 days away - but who's counting?!!



Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad


I lost my dad tragically to alcoholism when I was 26 and he was 55. Alcoholism devastated the last few years of his life and severed our relationship. I was devastated and ashamed by the way he died and how he lived his life in his final years. I was young and naïve and I didn’t know how to help him. I deeply regret that we weren't able to have a relationship in his final years.

I stuffed the pain of his passing for years – 13 in fact. To aid in my healing, a wise healer/therapist (thank you Sadee) encouraged me to ask friends and family to recall fond memories of my dad.
Indeed there were MANY from my childhood. He was an amazingly kind, giving, hardworking, caring dad. He supported everything my sister and I did. I have especially fond memories of soccer games and practices and attending sporting events with him. But I had stuffed those memories, buried them in fact.
The work continues – and I know it will be a lifelong journey for me. I’m learning a lot about how our stories shape our lives through an online workshop I’m taking with vulnerability guru Brené Brown and truth- teller Glennon Doyle Miller. The course is called The Wisdom of Story and is about how to harness the power of story so we can own our experiences, be brave, and rise strong.
 
"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the
bravest thing that we will ever do."
- Brené Brown


I’m feeling brave and vulnerable, and I’m learning that “owning” my story and sharing it I will help me continue to heal, and hopefully help reduce some stigmas about the challenges we all face in this beautiful thing we call life and being human!

Today on what would have been my dad’s 74th birthday, I’m honoring him by sharing a few of the memories people shared with me.
………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Your Dad always being there, participating and contributing to your lives. He seemed to care about me more than just a kid next door. He was always kind. He was level headed around me. I have all positive memories of your Dad when growing up. I always felt welcome at your house. After thinking about all those memories, it really paints a picture that your parents worked hard to raise you and Jill in a healthy and supportive environment.” – Scott, childhood/lifelong friend

………………………………………………………………………………………..

“What I remember most about Roger was that he was so kind, and would do anything for you.  I also remember him cheering us on at soccer games, and camping with us at Indian Princesses.” – Amee, childhood/lifelong friend

………………………………………………………………………………………..

Roger, the first thing that comes to mind is his laugh. He had a great laugh and he laughed a lot, especially when he was teasing you. I think you have him to be thankful for when it comes to that "tom boy" side that few know about. What I mean by that is that you are an athlete that strives to succeed. Roger got a kick out of sports and getting you girls to be tough on the field. Your dad loved you girls more than anything in the world, literally. Your dad was on your team in every sense of the word.” Lara, childhood/lifelong friend

………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Good sport – didn’t get upset easily, could laugh at himself. Easy going. Nice to be around. Liked practical jokes (not to hurt others, just for fun). Your dad was very supportive of your activities. He enjoyed taking family trips. He wanted the best for his family. He always listened to football on the radio in the car.  In my mind, I can see your whole family driving in the blue Bug with the top down, smiling, and your dad wearing a plaid shirt!” – Marli, childhood/lifelong friend

………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Our memories of your dad go back to times when he and Darlene were dating in college.  From the very first time we met, his smile and gentle manner were obvious. That carried throughout the years we spent time together. He was a person full of love for family, for special holidays and for enjoying life. He was a fun guy who had pride in his family and was attentive to his family's needs.” – Uncle Dick and Auntie Janet
………………………………………………………………………………………..
 
“What I loved about Dad: He was such an unselfish person. Coming home from work with jokes to share. His genuine laughter. Long drives in the car and dates to the farmers market. Watching baseball at the park. Being tickled on the floor. His smile. He was so smart, I could ask him anything and he would know the answer. He sang in the church choir. He was a good friend. His homemade pizza. His unconditional love.” – Jill, sister

 ………………………………………………………………………………………..

This is one of my favorite memories of my dad on a family vacation on Maui. He took me to dinner at one of the fancy hotels on the island. Boy, were we tan! One of his favorite quotes was: “You have to burn to tan!”

 

My sister told me she is honoring our dad today by making polish sausage and sauerkraut for dinner – one of his favorite meals. That’s a sweet memory too!


Cheers dad! I love you and miss you every day.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Colors of Fall



Happy fall friends! It's quintessentially fall in Seattle today: the sun is out but there's a chill in the air. It's starting to look, feel and smell like fall.

One of the things I love about fall are the rich, beautiful colors. Dahlias seem to bridge the gap between summer and fall with colors ranging from cheery yellow and pink to deep orange, red and fuchsia. 

To me this is nature at her best. Each blossom is so uniquely beautiful and colorful.

Without further ado, here is my annual dahlia post starring the gorgeous blooms from the Volunteer Park Dahlia Garden. 














What's your favorite thing about fall?    

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Savoring Summer


It feels like summer has come to a screeching halt. I have to admit I'm not ready for fall and school and homework and routine. It feels like this was the fastest summer on record. I'm not ready for it to be over. 

But instead of wallowing I'm going to savor the many wonderful memories and experiences from summer 2016. I got this idea from one of my "gurus." Patricia Moreno wrote this on her blog


"Savoring is a great way to look back and actually re-experience those yummy moments and anchor them in your heart, body and mind." 


At the beginning of the summer, I ordered a pair of espadrilles from Soludos. Nothing screams summer and carefree days like a new pair of espadrilles. The above postcard came with my package and I kept it in the middle of my kitchen island all summer. It was my summer "vision board." I didn't plan to go surfing or skateboarding, but the images on this postcard set the mood for my summer. 

In June, I also set my intentions for summer 2016: be "fun mom"; be peaceful; be joyful; be spontaneous; take time for myself every day.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 memories from summer 2016 that I will savor well into the crisp fall months ahead.

1. Tahoe with Friends 
We were fortunate again this year to book-end our summer with visits to Lake Tahoe aka our "happy place." It's a great way to set the tone for the summer!

2. Summer Reading 
You can tell a lot about a person by what they're reading. Here's my summer reading list:
3. Cousin Camp
My sister's kids, Lilly and River, spent a few days with us in mid-July. It was such a joy to be with them and to see Sofia connecting with her sweet cousins in what I hope is the first of many cousin camps!

4. Gehrings' Visit
Heather, Chance, Zane and Olive - the newest furry member of the Gehring family - visited us from Hood River in July. It was a quick trip but very fun and memorable!

5. Happy Hours with Geoff
Geoff and I had a standing date every Wednesday at 5:30 for happy hour on our patio aka our oasis. It was a great way to connect and relax together. I think we'll try to keep this alive throughout the year. 

6. Riding my Bike
Between June 10 and August 10, I logged more than 450 miles in preparation for Obliteride. Long story short, I had an injury 2 days before Obliteride and I was only able to ride the 25-mile route instead of 50 miles I had trained for. But it was still a blast and very rewarding. I'm still recovering from a disc/nerve issue in my back, but I hope to be back on my bike soon. 

7. Portland Weekend
We spent the last weekend of July exploring Portland, OR, aka Portlandia. Geoff and I rode 20 miles on rented orange "social bikes;" we toasted a good friend's birthday; we ate at food carts (a very Portland thing to do); and Sofia went to the Oregon coast and had a sleepover with her cousins. 

8. Fun on the Lake
We swam, paddle boarded and boated on Lake Union with friends. Beauty abounds on these sparkling waters. 

9. Obliteride
Read all about it here!

10. Tahoe with Family 
At the end of August, we found ourselves back in paradise. It was nice to unwind after a fun and busy summer. 


What special moments will you savor from summer 2016?


Friday, August 19, 2016

Obliteride 2016 was AMAZING*



Obliteride is like a big group hug.

It's the culmination of everything I work for professionally, personally, physically and emotionally all year long.

It's where all of my worlds collide once a year. Best friends from childhood, high school and college; family; colleagues; the cancer community. It's where I honor, grieve and remember my friend Scott. And where I find hope, love and community. 

This was a banner year for me. Together Geoff and I raised more than we ever have for cancer research. Almost $6,000 and counting. Thank you generous friends and family! And I trained more than I ever have. I fell in love with cycling! 

In a nutshell, it's a HUGE part of my life. 

*When I almost wasn't able to ride because of a pinched nerve in my back I was devastated. 

As it turns out, I got in to see an acupuncturist on Saturday and I was able to ride on Sunday. I had trained to ride 50 miles, but because of this setback I wasn't able to. I ended up riding the 25-mile route with one of my best friends, Megan. We wore rainbow tutus and had a blast!! 






MORE THAN A BIKE RIDE

Obliteride is so much more than a bike ride.

It's FABULOUS FOOD. Hello Tom Douglas grilling his mouth-wathering salmon.

It's FUN & FESTIVE. Great bands all weekend.

It's OPTIMISTIC.

It's HEALING.

It gives me HOPE.

It's ORANGE! My favorite color. 




















 












THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me on this ride.

Xoxo,

Amy 

P.S. SAVE THE DATE NOW FOR OBLITERIDE 2017: AUG. 11-13.