Happy NEW Year!

Welcome to 2016!

It’s hard for me to believe I let half a year go by without blogging. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, not to me. But I’m assuming the posts don’t lie. I still think about blogging all the time, I find that I still compose posts in my head, I think I just let it get out of control.

I was trying to blog about everything in my life and it started to become a challenge, and then I fell behind and it became more challenging, eventually I think it just became so overwhelming, it was actually easier NOT to post anything.

I don’t want it to be that way. I like blogging, I like writing down my thoughts and feelings for the future. I love recording the books I read and having a space to talk about that. No one reads the same things as I do, so I hardly ever have a chance to talk about them, so I like that this is a space for me to clarify my feelings.

What I don’t need is a place to write account logs of everything I do in my life. I take photos (and post them on IG, but that’s a whole other thing) and I don’t need this to be a living record of how I spend my time. Life’s too short for that. Memories are meant to be made, not recorded. I want to step back some from the personal and focus on the things that appeal to me.

That’s my goal for this year. Simplify. I know people do that, they choose a word to embody a goal. That’s not me, I don’t do resolutions and all that crap, but as I’ve pondered this new year, the past year, my life, I keep coming up with that. I started this past year at Christmas and it felt great. I have projects and plans for my home and I’m excited to start them. And now my blog. I want to get back on track and I want to simplify. Don’t expect me to write every day. Don’t expect long posts about birthday parties or weekend adventures. Don’t expect. Just read, if you like, appreciate if that’s your thing, or stop, if it isn’t working for you. I don’t do it for you, I do it for me.

And for me, this is about simplicity. Welcome 2016, it’s simply wonderful to meet you.

The Big Brown Dog

Josie, the big brown dog. That’s what we called her. Well, on the occasion we got my mom to admit she wasn’t people, that is.

She was my mom’s dog, but she was our family dog.

Josie

 

She was put to sleep on July 25, at the ripe old age of 13. That’s old for a dog, especially for a Lab, but it still doesn’t seem like enough time. It never does when you have to say goodbye.

Unfortunately for me, I was out of town and did not get to say goodbye to Josie-girl. However, the last time I saw her, the Tuesday before, I was sitting in the garage and she was sleeping. She got up and came over and laid down at my feet. She curled up and rested her face on my foot.

When she was a puppy, she was obsessed with feet and was always licking and nipping at everyone’s feet. As she aged, she stopped doing that, but we’d still get a lick once in a while if we wore flip flops around her. That night, I thought to myself, “that Josie, she still likes people’s feet” as I sat and chatted with my family. But now I wonder if she didn’t know. If that wasn’t just her way of saying goodbye. Maybe, somehow, she could sense that it was the last time we’d see each other.

She was a sweet and easygoing dog, kind of goofy, but so full of love. I’m not much of a dog person, but Josie made it very easy to love her, to imagine having a dog of my own. She might have been the world’s worst guard dog, she never bark until a car was already parked in the driveway, which isn’t much warning, or not at all, or at nothing. Didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to her system.

She loved children and never tired of playing with them. She would sit patiently and let Arionna feed her dinner, one single piece at a time. She’d catch the ball for Simon over and over and over again, tirelessly.

Simon and Josie

 

She was the only dog I’ve ever known who preferred a butt rub to a belly rub or an ear scratch. But, in fact, she loved being petted so much she couldn’t even hold still for it. Sometimes I’d scratch behind her ears and she’d wiggle around until she was practically dancing in a circle around me. She’d give a little nudge if she didn’t think she got enough loving, definitely she wasn’t shy.

Josie in Repose

 

She was a wonderful dog and a member of our family. She could be a pain in the ass, but then she’d stop and look at you with that sweet face and you’d forget why you got mad at her in the first place. We watched her train us all how to be her people. She knew who the easy marks were for food, she knew who’d take her outside the fastest, she knew the sucker for some petting, she knew us as well as we knew her. And even though I haven’t lived with her for almost four years, she never forgot. Whenever I’d come by she’d be right there, at the door, wagging her tail as though she missed me like crazy.

Which is exactly how we are all going to miss her. Like crazy. And forever.

Josie in black and white (RIP edit)

Another Love Lost

My mother called a little while ago to tell me that a friend of theirs, Tom Baumann, passed away. He was 60 years old. We don’t have much information now, so I am still not sure what happened. 60 is far too young, he’s the same age as my dad. His boys, Nick and Michael, are in their early 20s. Tom is my brother Nick’s godfather. When he and his wife, Leslie, found out they were having a boy, they asked my parents if it was okay if they used Nicholas, because they loved the name, but didn’t want to infringe. It was very cool of them, very sweet. When my siblings and I were little we saw the Baumann’s all the time. One of my early childhood memories is being in our house in St. Paul and Tom and Leslie were visiting. This was years before they had children, but they were always so sweet and attentive to us kids. I understand more now, how generous it was of them to give us their time and attention when I am sure they just wanted to hang out with their friends (my parents).

However, for whatever reason, Tom was being especially sweet to me and I announced to the room at large that I was going to marry him when I grew up. I was maybe 4? 5? Never mind the fact that his wife was sitting right next to him, I didn’t care. I had made up my mind that I would marry strong, tall, handsome Tom.

He was my first crush.

The Baumann family attended all of our family’s events (graduations, weddings, etc.) as we did for them. As the years passed, we didn’t see them as often, but when we did, they were exactly the same. Kind, generous, fun to be around. And Leslie still always teased me that I wanted to steal her man. Tom was a wonderful man, strong and tall and handsome, as I remember him. Also generous and loving, and friendly, very quick to laughter. I obviously had good taste.

My condolences to their entire family, I cannot imagine the pain and heartbreak you are all suffering right now. I will always remember Tom and think fondly of him; the first man I ever wanted to marry. Tom, you will always be missed.

 

Five x One Thousand

December 9, 2007.

My very first blog post, ever.

As you will see in the post, I started blogging because my friend Meg said I should. I figured, why not? I had no idea what to write about. I couldn’t imagine how I’d fill these posts. I started reading one or two blogs back then. One of them, that I no longer read, was celebrating her 500th post. I was in awe. I figured I’d write every couple of days and it would take me YEARS to get to 500 posts. If I even lasted that long, that is.

Somehow, it didn’t work that way. I liked doing it. I had no trouble thinking of things to write about. My life became more interesting when I wrote it down, every little interaction became fodder for the blog. Reading an interesting article? Blog it. A cute photo? Blog it. It has gotten to the point when my brain starts composing a post whenever anything happens. My family makes jokes, “is this going to be on the blog?” when something happens. Yes, is pretty much always the answer. Now, I find so many things to blog about I have to be choosy. Not everything makes it onto the blog. I have lists of things I wanted to blog about but it simply never happened.

This blog has changed me.

My writing has gotten stronger. My storytelling, deeper. I’ve gotten better technology and it’s gotten easier. I take more photos now. My memory has weakened because I don’t try so hard, because I know I can find that memory on my blog.

And, of course, life has changed me.

In December of 2007, I was one year out of library school. I was working 3 part time jobs for a total of 32 hours a week. And one of them was chauffeuring a friend home from work in the wee hours of the morning because he had a DUI. The other two were both part time library positions. One at Hamline, one with Hennepin County. I no longer have any of those jobs. Instead I have gotten a full time library position. I’ve been a part time house sitter. I’ve been a wedding planner’s assistant. I moonlighted at a restaurant. I became the director of a small public library. I got a job subbing in a public library. My professional life has grown through great change.

Personally, I was living at my parents house and I loved living there. I loved spending time with them. And my parents house is the center of our family universe, so I saw everyone, regularly. Since then, I have hunted for and lived through the god-awful experience of buying a home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my house, but the process of buying it was atrocious. Now I live by myself in a quiet little house. And what I really miss is my parents. Which sounds nuts because I see them all the time and talk to them on the phone all the time, but it is different. It just is.

In December of 2007, my nephew Simon was celebrating his first Christmas. Things were rocky, then, between us and Simon’s mom and we didn’t see him much. That Christmas I saw him for the third time since he was born (in April). Now, he is a delightful 5-year-old boy and we see him about every other week. We get him for holidays and he is a solid and much-loved part of our family.

My sister was newly married. She married Chad in September of 2007. We went to Las Vegas for their wedding. Now, five years later, they just celebrated their 5th anniversary, I have a gorgeously delightful almost-three-year-old niece and they are expecting a little boy in February.

My brother Zack was living with Kim, his longtime girlfriend (8 years together at that point), at their house in St. Paul. He was working full time at Applebee’s, where he worked forever. Now, he and Kim are long over (made it to 12 years), he lived with my parents for a year and just recently moved into his own townhouse in Stillwater. Also, he no longer works at Applebee’s and is currently looking for a job.

I had just reconnected with Justin, after we both had moved home from living away. Elena was still living in DC (I think, not still Maine, was it?) and I had yet to reconnect with Kelly, who was pregnant with her son, Christian. Mindy had not yet started her business, she and Tom were newly married and Lewie had just been born in March.

Now, Justin and I are close friends, Elena lives here and owns a house, Kelly and I are friends and she is pregnant with her third child. Mindy runs a hugely successful business and has two boys in grade school.

What does this all mean? Nothing really, it’s just a recap. So, in another five years, I can come back to this and say, wow, things have changed so much, again. Because that’s what happens. Time passes and things change. Nothing stays the same. Friends grow and change. Families evolve. Life deals hardship and your heart is forever changed by it.

When I started this blog in August of 2010, I warned you that it was all about change. Back then, I was blogging at Mindsay, a completely different space. I wrote 517 posts there before moving on. Now, I’m fully invested in WordPress and I love it here. In addition to this being my five year anniversary (of blogging as a whole, not only at WordPress), this post is also my 483rd post on this site. Did you do the math?

This is my 1,000th post as a blogger. Yes, across two sites, but I have set out to tell a story, to entertain, on one thousand separate occasions.

That is a cause for celebration. And, today, we celebrate with this retrospective and with this post.

It is exactly 1,000 words long.

Thank you, always, for reading.

The Universe is Listening

If you read yesterday’s post, you’d know that I’m feeling a bit lost about my job situation right now.

Usually when I write things like that, I’m not writing them to elicit sympathy, or even to share my feelings, I write for two reasons, 1) because it makes me feel better and gives me a bit of clarity to write it down and 2) to help me remember in the future.

This time, though I didn’t want sympathy, there was an edge of frustration to my post. I just feel so overwhelmed by it all, I needed it out there, I needed feedback, I needed to know someone could hear me.

The universe heard me.

As you’re probably all aware, in addition to writing, I’m an avid blog reader. I follow 70-odd blogs and they change all the time.

One that I have consistently followed is a “self-help” style blog calledMarc and Angel Hack Life. It’s common-sensical advice about life, given in list format. I love it. I don’t always agree with everything, but many of the things they say I find enlightening or truly insightful.

After I posted yesterday, I had a long talk with my mom this morning (that always helps!) and then I hopped on my reader to check the daily blogs.

I hit Marc and Angel and the post for today was called: 12 Tough Truths to Help You Grow.

Interesting.

The entire post resonated with me, but the three that stuck out were:

1.Everything is as it should be.

This is something I truly believe, even when times are dark, but it is during the dark times that it is the hardest to believe. It’s difficult to force yourself to believe that you are supposed to be living through pain or disappointment or frustration, but sometimes we have to. It’s how we appreciate the times of joy and happiness and glory.

2. Not until you are lost in this world can you begin to find your true self.

This one hit home; as though it were speaking directly to me. I feel a bit lost right now and I don’t know which way to go, which way will make me happy. That was the whole point of yesterday’s post. But that single sentence helped me gain the perspective that I am supposed to feel this way right now, because I am searching for my true self.

And, finally, this one.

12. Everything is going to be alright; maybe not today, but eventually.

These are words that I really needed to hear. I believe that things do work out. I believe that no matter how hard it gets, it will get better. (Apparently I told that to Elena a while back and she clings to those words when things are tough for her.) I believe in this, I believe that this is just a phase, a moment in time, but golly it’s nice to hear someone say it.

I don’t know what possessed Marc and Angel to write this particular post today, of all days, but I am sure glad that they did.

Their few, simple words helped me to feel better. It made me smile to think that the universe is listening and it knows what I need. Today, it gave me exactly what I needed.

There is a line from one of my favorite poems (Desiderata, Max Ehrmann) that says, “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

I’ve always found comfort in that. Today, the universe tried to clear things up for me.

Thanks, universe, I truly appreciate it. I hear you.

Much Too Young

Yesterday, my friend Justin lost his mother to cancer.

Today, my heart breaks for him and for his family. It’s so hard to say goodbye to the people we love. Justin told me a week ago that since she’s been sick for so long, they’ve had time to prepare, to talk about arrangements, to say their goodbyes. That’s very fortunate, of course, but it doesn’t really help. When the end comes, there is no amount of preparedness that can stop your heart from hurting.

Justin is the most loving and giving of all of my friends. He loves with his whole heart and isn’t shy about it. He gets that from his mother. Jackie was amazing, the life of every party she was at. Good at conversation, happy and fun to be around, a good listener, with a big heart. Like her son. They are a lot of like, Jackie and Justin, and they were very close. I know that this is hard on him especially.

Also for Justin’s dad, Kevin, who lost his love and the mother of his children. And for Tara, Justin’s sister, who lost her mother, while pregnant, no less. For everyone in their family, for Tiegen, who is so young he likely won’t remember his grandmother, and for everyone who knew Jackie, I’m so sorry. I feel your pain and know your loss. I knew her, too. I loved her and will miss her laughter and her sense of humor.

Justin, I’m so sorry for your loss. You know, I know you know, that I am here for you. Whatever, whenever, however.

Please, if you can, take a moment and say a prayer for this family today as they learn to navigate this world without their center. Jackie, you were much too young to leave this world and we are poorer today for the loss of you.