It all make sense (memories) to me...

The days are getting shorter and colder, and the wind and rain are creeping back in to our lives. As I write this, I'm watching the wind whip all of the trees and bushes around outside and thinking to myself that I'm surprised the power hasn't been knocked out yet (but I'm eternally grateful that it hasn't, and I'm knocking on wood right now!). With this blustery weather comes the nudge to make a cup of hot tea most afternoons as I sit here at work, and hunker down in my cozy chair... And the other day, while making my daily cup of earl gray (obsessed!), I had a flashback in the faculty room. (<-- That sounds like a cheesy movie title. Coming 2016.)

I have taken this entire box down, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
I have taken this entire box down, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Suddenly I was 7 years old, sitting at my Gram's house, at her kitchen table. I can see it, feel it, and smell it all so vividly. Gram is our old neighbor, who I adopted (or who adopted me, rather!) as a grandma from day 1. Her bright yellow house with the cement sidewalk stood right next to us, on the corner of Eliason and Ness Place. I got stung by a bee for the very first time on that sidewalk, and spent countless hours watching Poppa, her husband, clean fish in the yard and leave behind the shimmery scales all over the yard. My shoes constantly had shiny scales on them from the grass, and I didn't hate it at all. I would go over at least once a week for tea -- sometimes with my mom, and sometimes by myself. Plain, Lipton tea bags, with milk (not cream!), and lots of sugar, just the way I liked it. My cup of tea road that temperature line between lukewarm and hot, exactly the way it should be for a 7 year old girl. We would sit at her table and talk and talk and talk. There were usually always cookies to be had (my favorite were her homemade thumbprint cookies with the slightly chewy jelly center. Oh man.) Sometimes Poppa would stop and visit for a minute after working on lawnmowers, but only if his hearing aids were in and he wasn't feeling grumpy. :P When I close my eyes, as I type this, I'm sitting right back there on the wooden chairs, in their tiny kitchen, drinking my tea. Sometimes when I've made that perfect cup, now at 33 years old, I will be transported right back to that memory that completely envelopes me, and wraps its arms around me, just like Gram used to. I feel warm and cozy inside of it, and I let it linger for awhile while I stir in my cream and sugar packets, and it usually fades away a few sips in. But it's there still, tucked away for the next time...

I am not addicted to coffee, and I'm not a person who needs caffeine to stay awake. It takes a lot of caffeine to do much of anything to me, but I definitely enjoy a good latte or a loaded up cup of drip regularly.

But first, coffee.
But first, coffee.
Some of us are a bit more dependent on it.
Some of us are a bit more dependent on it.

For me, so much of what I love about coffee is rooted in connection. It's not about the actual coffee, it's about the company I have while drinking it. 

I started drinking coffee in college. I had tried a latte here and there, but had always kind of despised that bitter coffee taste. But one day, driving through the D&M coffee drive-thru in good old Ellensburg with my friends Mark and Randy, it all changed. I tried Randy's Almond Roca mocha and had found the holy grail of coffee. This should alert you to how a weenie like me likes her coffee drinks - sweet. :) But my tastes have changed as I've grown, and I can now tolerate the taste of coffee more than before, but I do still require cream and something sweet inside. After that, for me, it really started to be about the quality time during coffee. "Going to get a coffee" for me was almost always about talking with a friend or colleague, and spending time together. Sometimes playing games, sometimes doing work together, sometimes reading a good book... I can distinctly remember several "coffee dates" with multiple people-- not because something spectacular happened that was out of the ordinary, but because it was just a great time to be with that person.

I can quickly access a memory of a night in Starbucks, located in the parking lot of campus at Central. I remember a table filled with with Kristin and Eric and I, all working on something different around the holiday season. It was the time of Peppermint Mochas and Starbucks totally decorated for the holidays... I can picture us sitting at the table we sat it, and how cold it was outside (probably snowing), having trekked across the parking lot to work on stuff for hours and get out of our rooms. I remember the conversations and some of the things that we were working on, and I feel so comfortable inside of that memory. There are many times when I'm at a Starbucks and I flash right back to that evening. It's the same kind of feeling when I think about meeting with Jon to discuss him being the officiant for our wedding ceremony, or meeting David for the first time at Starbucks in Federal Way. I will always be able to recall those moments.

I could live inside of these memories forever. And on days when things are really hard, or I feel on the edge of tipping, I can slip right back in to any of these moments and feel a little bit better. I can sit holding my latte warming my hands and smile about the feeling that it gives me right in my core. In that moment, I'm happy and content. And all it takes is some hot water and a few other ingredients to get me there.

Feels like Home...

It's here! Rejoice! The first day of fall! Cue the sweaters, and cozy candles, and yummy fall drinks... Gaze in wonder upon the cool, crisp air and bright sunny skies. I, like most people who are smart and know what's good for them, adore this season...I've been laying out my leggings, oversized shirts, and Ugg boots for months just waiting for the right moment. Scratch that - I don't really own any of those things. Unless you count the leggings that have a huge hole in them. Those aren't fit for public consumption - obviously only to display my total sexiness.

I know that to say that I love fall is a bit cliche by this point, but it's more than just all of the things I stated above for me. To me, fall is such a great time of renewal. It's also a wonderful period of waiting and settling. To me, fall feels like home.

I struggle a little bit in the summer. With the heat (and this summer was exceptional. #fansweremynumberonefan), with the constant need/feeling like I should be outside doing something, and just trying to "fit everything in." When the fall starts to gather its cool cloak around everything, I feel myself sigh with relief. I can hunker down into my proverbial bunker and gear up for what is to come. A new school year comes, with new faces to meet and learn. I have always been a creature of comfort and habit, and the fall allows me to slip back into the routines and feelings that I love and adore - and find that I need in order to maintain balance. The shorter the days become, the more excited I get for what is to come! The holidays, a new year, my birthday (today I said "I'm 33, almost 34" and just about did a spit take. Whoa. How did THAT happen???) It's all right around the corner, and I'm just tingly with anticipation for what is going to happen.

This fall, I'm trying to stretch my wings. I'm feeling a change in the things that I want and am striving for, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how things flesh themselves out. I want to write more. I want to use my creative brain a lot more. I want to have amazing conversations over delicious food or yummy coffee, or ice cream. I want to have great phone conversations, and also just phone conversations with my bestie about what she is looking at as she scans the aisle of Target. This is the kind of stuff I want to do. I want to collect memories and moments like the leaves that fall from trees, and make them in to something beautiful. I want to live in the moment of "yes, this is really happening!", and not in the moment of "I wish...." ... And this may not always end up being a positive thing. I know that life is full of hiccups and random left turns, and all that I can do is prepare myself for these in the sense that I have a great net to fall back on to. And I do have that, and then some. My net may be a little bit more spread out, but it's there.

I can reflect back on my life, in the last month or so, and see the moments when I would have liked to freeze frame and move things around a little bit before resuming. Maybe then it could have gone differently. But then it wouldn't have given me the insights that I needed. It wouldn't have given me that spectacular advice from my friends, or that cry that I just needed to get out. I'm not saying I wouldn't change things, I'm just saying that I had to sit with the "yes, this is happening....", and it wasn't all sunshine and roses. It was life. It was real. It was my reality.

And on the other end of my reality is this.... big windows and bright blue skies, crisp cool weather, smiling babies that visit me during the day, being tagged in photos on instagram, watching cable with my besties, just. being. myself.

Collecting those moments and breaths and memories all in a box and keeping it close to me to pull out when the fall goes away and I'm left waiting for next year when I can hunker down again. Even though I will be different, I know that I will still feel like I'm coming home as soon as fall comes back again... So for now, I snuggle in and delight in the comfort.

Maintaining three (four) points of contact...

Last night, I did something that I haven't done in a long time. I had a small panic attack. I had said goodbye to those years ago, I thought, but I found myself knee deep in jagged shallow breathing, shaking, and tears that wouldn't stop... Why then? What was happening, you may ask... My husband had forced (but not really) me in to a small boat.

I have never liked boats, I've always told myself. I know that we have a boat, but it's a motor boat, and even then, it took me awhile to not white knuckle it every time I sat in it. And it has nothing to do with anything that you feel like it would -- it's not the speed, it's not the danger, it's nothing like that. I've just always felt like no matter the size of the boat, I am an elephant daring it to capsize. My whole life I'd stayed away from boats like this. All of the years being at camp, I just simply said "I don't like boats", "I don't do boats." But in all actuality, I had no idea if I liked boats. I liked the idea of them, gliding across the water, feeling the wind on my face. But the idea that I would sink or tip just based on my sheer size paralyzed me from even attempting.

(I'm not fishing for reassurance when I say this (fishing! HA!), I am merely explaining what has held me back from boats for my entire life.)

David so badly wanted to take me out on one, to float the lake that I had grown up in, to let me bask in the stillness and sunshine with him, because for him, boats are calming and relaxing and fun. And because I had put him off for so long, and because it was a perfect night for it, I let him talk me in to it. I struggled to get in to the row boat, feeling it tip back and forth forcefully as I tried to find the perfect spot to put myself. The whole time, David's gentle voice was coaching me, guiding me, and his hands were placed firmly on the boat, keeping it steady. He kept telling me, as I felt the panic welling up inside of me and spilling out (as we stood in one foot of water, mind you), that he wasn't going to let me go, he would never let me go. I knew that he wouldn't. He told me to maintain three points of contact as I settled in (a classic David boat reminder), and in my heart I knew that I would always have FOUR points of contact -- the fourth being my heart to David. I was so scared that I would sink the boat, that we would go tumbling in, even though I am an ok swimmer and would be able to handle myself if it happened. I was just so scared of all of the thoughts that I'd had growing up about being in a boat, and sinking it, and tipping it, would come to fruition and I would be devastated.

My breathing came back to normal, and the shaking subsided, but my fingers were still locked on the bench below me.  David slowly rowed me out to the middle of the lake, reassuring me the entire time as I faced forward, back to him as he rowed. I still had tears coming from before, but they kept going as I realized, and said out loud to him "I've never been out this far before. I've never seen the lake or any of this from this angle." It floored me. The fact that I had been going to that lake since I was a little girl, and had spent every summer out there since, and had never seen any of those places from that perspective on the water was crazy to me. And it was all because of my fear. I had let my fear hold me back from all of it. The longer we were out there, the more comfortable I felt (even though David had to remind me that I could move my head for the first few minutes...), and I began to really look around, and take it all in. I watched the glassy water underneath us, broken by David's oar. I watched fish swim by, and the trees tower over us, and felt the sun shine on my face as I floated closer to places I'd only seen on opposite shores. It was there, in that tin boat with my sweet husband rowing me around and showing me a world I'd been afraid to open up and see before, that I had the realization that I don't want to live life ruled by fear.

Not ever. Well, only in situations where healthy fear is required. But I'm talking about instances like the boat... Will I go out on the boat again? Of course. Now that I know how safe I felt, and how relaxing and calming it was, you bet I will.  And I will not be scared anymore because I know that I have my three points of contact on anything that I do (and one more with my David). I won't be afraid of taking new steps, having new adventures, saying yes to moments that I would shied away from before, of what people think of me, of feeling left behind because I'm too afraid to keep up... I won't. I don't want to be an old woman who is finally stepping into a boat and floating out to see things a new way. I want to live in the moment, say yes to the moment, and never fear the moment. And I know that I can do this with my sweet husband and amazing friends by myself, and with the strength that I have, that has been in me all along. I want to embrace the joy inside of me, and let it explode out of me in everything that I do. I want to view life from all angles, and when I find myself delighted by a new view before me, I want to stand in awe of it and know that I've let myself go all sorts of places, and take joy in the fact that I can still be surprised. <3

This is me. Letting the joy out, and leaving fear behind.
This is me. Letting the joy out, and leaving fear behind.