How To Fall In Love.

Oh this week – it’s just had it all. Family strife, bad self-esteem, bad weather, a stomach bug and a cold.

Not to mention, I had a really great Ask Away Friday swap set up this week and I goofed and it will be next week instead. That’s fine, because I’ll be in a much better state to answer the questions next week, I hope. This week I got inspiration from a quiz in a New York Times article that featured 37 questions that lead to love. You can see it HERE if you want! I’m feeling most un-lovey this week and I’m looking forward to answering some questions to make me feel it more. Anything can happen.

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They are pretty juicy. I may have to revisit the article for the rest.. because it’s just ten eleven today!

What is #AskAwayFriday? Well…

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County and Amber from Bold Fit Mom, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers! This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way which is one of the best parts of this online world! Ask me if you want to swap!

We are sad to be losing Amber as one of our amazing co-hosts, as she is working to pursue other business ventures and focusing her attentions on her fitness ventures. We wish her nothing but the best, and hope for her thriving success!

When one door closes, another one opens…and we would like to give a huge Ask Away Friday welcome to a brand new co-host…drum roll please…Welcome Echo from The Mad Mommy! She is both a friend and a fellow blogger. I dig her.

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Now welcoming our wonderful #AskAwayFriday hosts…

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and
Echo from The Mad Mommy

Grab our brand new button, follow our amazing hosts, hop through the great link ups and make some new friends!

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1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I’m thinking this question means a person who is alive, so we’ll go with that. I’m struggling between going with someone rather untouchable I deeply admire (celebrity or whatnot), or maybe a blogging friend I feel a very strong connection with, but haven’t met in person yet. To go for one of each, I want Alan Rickman over for dinner. (I just watched that 14 minutes of Snape’s timeline video) And I want Dizmommy over. Rebecca-faith, what’s your favorite meal? I’ll have it on the stove.

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2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

I really would, but in a way in which I could still walk down the street and mostly not be recognized. And I really would, but in a way in which I could still be 100% myself and touchable – as in replying to fan letters, doing charity work and being cool. I always thought I’d be famous for doing something heroic or crazy, and succeeding. I’ll also take it for writing an incredible book or three, and I’d love to be a well-known photographer. I’d like my work on the walls of many homes and buildings.

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3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

Yes, and also anytime I’m about to have a serious talk with Cassidy. And it always goes out the window and I sound like a sniffling idiot, even when I make completely logical sense in my head. And my head isn’t as scattered as it seems. I swear.

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4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

I’m not so, so picky. I’ve had some pretty great days of not doing much, and some great days being halfway across the country, or all the way across it. I think it needs to have zero anxiety, a bit of fun risks, good health, good food, my family, and maybe throw in some moose. Weather wise, I love days that are in that 72-75 range with sun and non-threatening puffy clouds. No humidity and a slight breeze. A really good coffee drink and maybe some romance too. A handful of fine things.

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5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

I last sang to myself today while making breakfast. I was singing Alanis Morissette because my rough morning reminded me of her “Hand In My Pocket” song. My Facebook status was this:

“I want to write a song and we all get a verse. It’s going to be called “This Was Not Part of the Plan.” Hashtags could be ‪#‎NotThePlan‬, ‪#‎ThisWasNotThePlan‬, ‪#‎NotPartOfThePlan‬? It would go to the tune of an Alanis Morissette song, I should think. Here’s mine:
“I had a full day of work planned..
I’ve got one kid with a stomach virus and the other kid coughing up a lung
Schools were called while I was hiding in the bathroom..
Next to a pile of dirty laundry..”

The last time I sang to someone else was Des before bed last night. It was some form of broken lullaby and he loved it.

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6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

Well I want to live to over 100, like my grandparents! With them, their minds were pretty sharp until the end. It was their bodies that gave out. With my other grandfather, his mind went and it was awful – but maybe more for us than him. Sadly we couldn’t ask him. I’m going to say the mind, although it’s hard to say. I’d love to be able to do photography and writing until the end, although I think writing would require my mind more, and photography would require my body more. So I hope those good genes kick in and that I keep taking good care of myself! Also, that question nearly stumped me enough to remove it!

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7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

I’m hoping that for my all of my family and friends, it’s like how it was for my grandparents – peacefully, at age 100 or older, and after a life of mostly living on their own terms. Of course, I hope it will be easier by then with healthcare and insurance and all sorts of things that made the end harder for my grandparents than was necessary. It seems it’s rarely easy.

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8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

1. Good hair.
2. We’re both passionate about a lot of sci-fi and fantasy books, movies and shows.
3. We both want a better life. That doesn’t mean that stubbornness, rudeness and anxiety don’t get in the way. Of course they do.
4. Since #1 was a cop-out, here’s a third: We both have good hair. And sensitive hearts.

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9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

An f-in great family! And great extended families. And great friends.

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10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

Well, sheesh. I mean I would have wanted my father to stay alive, as well as my siblings’ mother. That was not to be, though, and we all had each other. And we still do. So I’d wish for more security and less fears for all of us. I think my parents did a great job, but that’s truly hard with five grieving kids, so there was a lot of disharmony. Is disharmony even a word??

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** A bonus one because this one is hard and requires a timer. 11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

Timer ON:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was born. I didn’t even cry at birth. I just made Ewok sounds, quite like Des. I was born with super senses and I can remember this even from my earliest memories – super taste, super(ish) smell, super feels (ticklish), super feels (emotional), and definitely super hearing. My sight is only ok. Just under normal. My father passed away when I was just about four, so I had a problem with birthdays for years. My mom remarried a man with three kids and we all moved in together and became a family. It was all rather quick, and I didn’t even realize how much the sadness, uncertainty and change would affect me much later in life. I absolutely had a good childhood and I can remember getting high on life in complete and utter dizzying joy as early as age ten. I wanted to be a writer from around the same time. I also wanted to be a movie star and a filmmaker but luckily I realized that the lifelong obsession with cameras would lead to a photography love. I didn’t date much in high school. I was too scared and there was only one boy I really liked because he had great hair. There were other gigantic crushes towards the end of high school but the only romances existed in my head. In college, I got brave and went after what I wanted – lots of boys and good grades. I majored with honors in journalism and did a slew of bad jobs after college until realizing my three life dreams – to be a writer, a photographer, and a mother. I met a guy – you – and we have a 20 part love story, don’t we? It’s really 2,000 parts by now. Let’s hope it…

Timer OFF. Suspenseful, isn’t it? I’ll finish that sentence one day.

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100 Days.

Look how far we’ve come. Or have we?

I had really hoped for and wanted this to be an uplifting and all positive post, but the truth is that I feel a bit like a speck of dirt this week. I feel very small as a wife, a mother, and an all-around human being at this time of writing, and I don’t even say this for reactions. In fact, I encourage you to ignore it and focus on the beauty, because there is so much of that. I think you all know that I can’t even be here if I can’t be frank. (can I still be Garth? Name that reference if nothing else!)

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It’s like this. Say you’re building, painting and maintaining a house. You may think it’s on the steadier side but one day you realize it’s made of straw and it’s bound to fall. And not only that, the materials you’ve been using on it haven’t helped it stand. They’re not necessarily the right materials. That’s ok, though. Underneath the fallen straw and the rubble, there’s probably a steel frame on your house. That steel can crush the straw and can hold up the beams, the rooms and the layers.

There are so many layers. There are so many rooms.

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My steel frame is partly built of me, and partly built of you. It’s family and friends and passions and sparks and a husband who thinks I’m hot, and kids who are often happy and healthy. Don’t worry. This isn’t a movie. They whine and scream just as much as your kids. They’re also pretty cool. Enter in Scarlet singing about peace in a video my mother-in-law shot in Florida.

This post is about 100 days.

Scarlet’s school celebrated their 100th day of school earlier today with a parade. Scarlet celebrated her 100th day of kindergarten with a snazzy vest decorated with 100 stickers at home, and with a snazzy crown she made at school.

There was a time I couldn’t pick up Scarlet from school the way I thought a normal parent can pick up their kid from school.

There was a time when up to an hour before I had to get her, my heart would pound. I would feel breathless.

And there were many times, and many years, and decades, in which doing something so routine would hardly be a blip on the radar. I could do it while listening to the music of my choice, rather than the anxiety-soothing sounds of the San Francisco bay. I could do it without essential oils on my wrists and on the back of my neck. I could do it directly after having eaten, and with lightness and grace. Maybe laughter. Friendly smiles and waves all along. I could be there. So there. Now I can again.

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It’s not a perfect art or science. The trauma trapped in my brain and in my body still tells me I’m insignificant at best sometimes. Every now and then I’ll be leaving someone’s house or giving a hug to a loved one and I’ll feel a flutter or flicker of breathlessness. It seems to say, “I’m still here, but I’m just a flutter or a flicker now.” And I hope and even pray that I can always gather more materials in my army against anxiety. My kindergarten experience was traumatic. Sometimes I learn to move past or even just with that current of electricity and pain. And never to let it gush far ahead of me. Or all around me.

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At 100 days and counting, it’s nowhere near perfect. Sometimes after a long weekend or a series of snow days, I can feel my heart pounding before I have to walk into the school. Just for a bit, and really so minor, but I notice it. I feel butterflies at other times, when the only thing I have to do all day is pick her up. They are butterflies though, and not hornets. These days I get into my car and listen to whatever song I feel like listening to – often Tori Amos “A Sorta Fairytale”, Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama” or my always beloved Capital Cities. I get out of the car at school and I walk without worry of anxiety. I smile and laugh and greet my friends. It’s a bit funny that something so normal and commonplace once knocked me off my feet.

100 days grown. Both of us.

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These photos were taken at my in-laws’ house on Labor Day weekend, right before school started. It feels like a lifetime ago, and yet, I’m finally uploading them. As usual, my photos and words have synced up on their own and I love the results.

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