...impatience is a new virtue?...

Yesterday at a stop light, I had a moment that was so completely insignificant in the greater scheme of the world - but it weirdly, deeply resonated with me. I was at the light, kind of humming to myself, and the light turned green so I could turn left. Only I didn't turn left right away, I noticed the light about 2 seconds after it turned, and I noticed it because the guy behind me (in a truck bigger than anyone needs a truck to be) honked his horn twice rapidly and yelled out the window "let's go!" I quickly hustled in gear and turned and was on my merry way... the guy behind me still wasn't so merry, though, and my tiny car felt like a bug beneath his foot as he tailed me all the way down the road. It was just a blip in time, a nothing moment really, but then it got me thinking...

...what are we all in such a hurry for?

We all fall prey to it. I go through the drive-through to get my coffee and then get upset when it takes too long... I hate waiting on hold for more than a few minutes... I get angry at myself when I feel like I'm taking too long to complete a task -- all for the sake of moving on to the next moment in time. With smart phones, and the ability to do so much on something so little, we are a community of people who desire rapid, smooth transitions from one thing to the next. And our brains seem to need as many of those transitions as possible. Sometimes at the end of the day, when I stop and just sit at home, I find myself feeling like a movie that has buffered and frozen -- quickly fast-forwarding to get to real time. I can literally feel myself slowing down... and it's usually a really great feeling, but I can oftentimes feel like I'm wasting time. 

But I have to stop and ask myself, how am I wasting time? Why so speedy, everyone? What are we hustling for, really... And I'm not saying this as part of a "what's the point" and "what does it all mean, man?" agenda -- I'm saying this because I constantly find myself remarking on how time has flown by.  When school started again, it was "I can't believe it's September and another school year!" Soon it will be "wow, it's Christmas already??" or "another new year?" And I will find myself uttering a phrase that I have uttered countless times as I've grown older:

Where
Has
The
Time
Gone?

5 words. 5 words that we say as we see kids grow up, as we reunite with old friends, as we think back to memories short or long passed.... 

And yet we fly through life. We hurry to get from one place to another, to move on to the next and the next and the next. We are consumed with saving time, and not just for efficiency of life. I understand the urge to pack in as much in as possible, to live every moment to its fullest, and to not look back and say that we wish we had done this and that. But I am starting to realize, as I really think about it, that I feel like it's better to savor and enjoy the moments that we have so that we are not looking back and wondering where the time all went... 

This is not a revolutionary thought, and I am not proposing a monumental lifestyle shift. I know that these things are hard to do. And time is a tricky thing, that can mess with our minds, and toy with our hearts as it ticks by. There are things that I want right this moment, and I feel myself rushing to try to obtain. But I know that I need to wait. If I just wait, things will be so much better and so much smoother. And I know that I will look back and not think "where has the time gone?" I will think to myself how lovely it was to wait, and to enjoy the time as it moved like what felt like molasses... because in the end, it was so much more than I had ever dreamed. 

Let's slow down. Let's all slow down together, even just a step or two, and see what happens. Maybe we will still feel pulled to rush. Maybe we will still pack as much in as we can. But maybe, just maybe, when we find ourselves thinking "where has the time gone?," we can recall exactly where, and with exactly who. We can pinpoint the moments in time that we were able to afford, and to savor, because we took that extra pause, and marched a beat slower than usual. 

And before we rush off to the next thing, or grow inpatient when something slows down a fraction of a second, we can treat ourselves to a breath of fresh air and know that we may not remember this exact moment in time a year or five down the road, but we will be better for taking it for ourselves. 

We can't stop it, but we can enjoy it while we've got it. 

We can't stop it, but we can enjoy it while we've got it. 

...penny for my thoughts...

On a cold day in December, the 19th to be exact, I literally ran through a parking lot at my full speed. As I ran, something shiny caught my eye and I stopped, for a brief second, to pick up the penny that lay heads up on the cement. David grabbed my hand and urged me along and I said "I just grabbed this penny, it was heads up and good luck." and I tucked it in to my pocket, gripping it tight. The door that we ran through was to the emergency room, and what lay behind those doors was my father - in a state that was a complete mystery to me. I had been on a frantic call with his husband a few minutes earlier, and we got in the car as fast we we could go. I was supposed to be at a concert in Tacoma, and David was supposed to be working but was sick. It was not just a coincidence that we were both home when I got that call, I'm sure of that. We drove the 5 minutes across town not having any clue what we would find. I speculated aloud, and David just squeezed my hand and told me to think positive thoughts. As we drove to the hospital, I couldn't stop thinking over and over again that this could be really, really bad. So it seemed only natural to grab on to any shred of hope and luck that I could possibly find as I ran in to the complete unknown. Less than one hour later, I found the penny in my pocket and angrily gave it to David, declaring "take this stupid thing, it was not even close to being good luck." Words had been said to us that even now I'm having a hard time typing... A strange person had walked in to the room that we were waiting in, on the edges of our seats, and told us "I'm sorry, he's gone." It was numbing, and I felt the walls and the reality come crashing down on me. And when I found the penny awhile later, I felt my anger flare up at the sight of it, and tossing it aside for letting me down was the obvious solution.

Fast forward to two weeks later. Christmas and New Years had come and gone, and we had all gathered to say goodbye to my father. One of the hardest days of my life had gone by in a sort of blur, but I'd been surrounded by more love than I'd ever experienced. My family and best friends took such good care of me throughout those two weeks, making sure that I was safe, and comfortable, and reminding me just how loved I was. They let me cry when I needed to, helped me laugh when I needed to -- did everything perfectly. I could not have asked for more. After the dust had settled on my house and I was sitting down to write some cards, I felt reality and the quiet heavy on my shoulders. David was cleaning up, and he approached me at the table with something in his hand -- the penny. He told me that he knew that I was angry, and that the penny had not done what I had hoped, but that he was holding on to give back to me so I could have it. I took it from him, and sat holding it, reflecting on how much my life had changed in just under 3 weeks. I cried and cried and cried, which I'd come to realize was going to happen a lot (and had happened a lot already) and sat in the living room to think.

It was then, looking at that penny, that I thought about my dad and his connections to this coin in my hand (besides the obvious that I've already mentioned). My mind drifted to a story that my dad had told me often... when he was young, he had a Cocker Spaniel named Penny. He adored Penny, and told us frequently growing up that Penny had saved his life once. He had gotten lost in the woods and it was Penny that got him home. The way that he spoke about Penny was always so tender and loving. I loved that story.

One of my favorite things that I liked to tease my dad about throughout his life was about candy. He had told me once that the only thing that he had ever stolen was a piece of penny candy from a candy store near his house in California. He had said that he felt so guilty about it, and that if he could go back to that store and give them a penny, he would. I always teased him about that, joking that they closed down because of that one piece of candy.  It was one of my favorite things to needle him about.

Not to mention the fact that he went through a huge faze of decorating with copper. There are lots of copper decorations and whirly-gigs hanging in his house. He fell in love with them years ago and went through one of his phases, and ended up getting a bunch to put around the house.

So as I sat there and cried thinking about what I had lost, and holding that "stupid penny" tight, I realized that things don't always present themselves for the obvious reasons. And that even though that penny did not bring me the luck that I thought it would, it reconnected me to parts of my dad that I hadn't thought about in a long time, and I'm sure will resurface many more times throughout my life. And it's these little memories that I'm so, so lucky to have gathered and held on to for when things get hard, and when I can't hold back the tears any longer. Memories like these will pull me through anything.

I'm holding on tight to this and all of the memories that it brings.
I'm holding on tight to this and all of the memories that it brings.

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.

Truth be told, I'm eating a Kit-Kat.

Nothing special about that title except for the fact that it's the god-honest truth. And I couldn't come up with anything better, really. That's where I'm at right now. I'm incredibly tired, but I cannot complain at all -- I am not tired because I'm dealing with a sickness, or because I have insomnia, or because I am working two jobs to support my family. I am tired because I have been enjoying my life. :) Yes, you heard me right. I've been filling it with lots of love, and happiness, and adventures, and yummy food. I made it a silent (not so silent anymore, blabbermouthfingers) New Year's awareness, of sorts, to be a little bit more exciting. I was feeling myself settling into the same routines, doing the same things, being a super homebody, and frankly - being a little boring. Don't get me wrong, I love my home, and being there, and relaxing - but I found myself saying no to fun things in favor of doing, well, things that were not as much fun. So I am trying hard to say yes to experiences, and carve out time for adventure (even if it's a small adventure!) Last Friday, I had the opportunity to jump into a huge one of these experiences. And like I said to a kid at school a few weeks ago, sometimes the things that I'm both nervous AND excited for at the same time are the things that I end up having the best time doing. Kristin asked me I would want to go to a spa with her and Constance -- one they had been to before, one that they really liked, and one that scared the crap out of me -- they refer to it as the "Naked Lady Spa". And that's what it is. No swimsuits, no jewelry, nothing to protect you from the eyes and elements of the room. I was nervous, scared, intrigued, and excited. They spoke volumes about their experience there, and about how freeing and wonderful it is. And you know what? They were right! I was nervous all day, but then just decided to not let myself be nervous. I embraced the atmosphere, and literally jumped in with both feet (ok, I didn't jump. I gingerly stepped into the pools.)... It was such a relaxing time. And after awhile, I felt myself just not even thinking about it (which Kristin had told me would happen!). It was an amazing evening, and I'm so happy that I got to share it with two wonderful girls, who made me feel so wonderful!

The next day, David and I ventured to Canada for the weekend. And we had a blast! We did lots of things - went to the aquarium, saw sea otters, did a lot of walking, saw a movie, ate a yummy pizza in our hotel room, braved sashimi --- it was jam packed! I had such a great time, and felt so happy to be on that adventure with my adorable boy-toy, who ALSO makes me feel so wonderful. :)

The last few evenings have been filled with dinner with my besties in Seattle, just chatting about everything that we could, drinking yummy drinks and sharing tasty fries, car dancing to Justin TImberlake (it was INTENSE), trivia with my mom, winning a prize on the radio for the first time in my life, and just enjoying my job.

On the flipside of all of this sunshine came a rain cloud, though. A wonderful man in the life of my best friend was lost this last week, one who I have known for a long time as well. He was an institution in Poulsbo, and in her family, and he will be greatly, greatly missed. He leaves behind an amazing family, however -- one that is stronger than most I have ever come across. I've known that since the day I become an adopted part of it! For my dear bestie Jewel, and her family, my heart is saddened. But it is also encouraged by the knowledge that your strong family is getting even stronger! The Stroud/Evenson clan is a force to be reckoned with. And knowing your grandpa for all of these years, I can see where you all get it!

And so, with the awareness that our lives are simply on loan, and we need to soak up our time we have, I embraced this past week fully. And I vow to do that for more weeks this year. In fact, I'm aiming for about 52 of them.