Honest, I choose champagne

2016.2017.2018. Let’s just be who we are.

I am sitting in my favorite bar, as it becomes increasingly more crowded than normal on a Sunday early evening. Most are in pairs, or groups. I’m the sole solitary human, sitting at my favorite table tucked in the corner. My back is against the window and I am directly next to an outlet and the exposed brick.

I am pretty comfortable sitting by myself in most places. I am fine shopping by myself, I’ve traveled across an ocean and been alone in the Istanbul airport more than any other airport in the world.

I almost always get slight amounts of anxiety right before going somewhere by myself or to an event with a large amount of people. But here, and a smattering of coffee shops, public transport and airplanes- I am always good.

This year, I believe, has been about being as home as I possible can be in my own skin, in my own identity. It’s been about being where my feet are.

I don’t always do well at this.

But, I am trying.

And now, it’s the end of the year. Now, for me personally, 2017 has been eons better than 2016. But, as my work wife has pointed out, 2017 hasn’t been all confetti, champagne and sunshine.

In reality, I said the F word more times this year than last. I lost more faith in people than I ever have. I have had more anxiety and more moments of being alone.

I haven’t been as constantly exhausted but I for sure have hit more walls of “all done friends”. My schedule has been more busy than I think it has been in a long time.

And that isn’t going change when the clock strikes midnight and turns the year to 2018. Last year, I remember sitting, shortly after midnight, in my sparkly gold dress, barefooted, on the porch of my friend’s house, watching the snow fall with a glass of champagne that slowly became mixed with the tears falling down my cheeks. All I wanted was for the world around me to feel different.

I tried to believe it did- but it didn’t.

So I became busy in 2017. I did a lot of things. I rarely had a week go by that didn’t involve at least 3/5ths of the weekdays being filled with something, be it working at my church, hanging out with someone or having an event or organized group situation.

I think part of my reasoning for becoming busy was that busy equaled full. That my life could be classified as full because it was busy.

I could say that my life was full because my laundry had piled up to overflowing in my closet and didn’t even care that there were dishes in the sink.

Busy meant not being able to stop to hear what I needed to hear.

Back in August, a part time job popped up at a different church. It would have been 10-20 extra hours a week being a children’s director of a local churches smaller downtown campus.

It would mean a lot of things: extra income, no free time, getting paid to do something I know I love (and am good at), having no social life and not getting to go to the church I adore.

But, I had done that exact same thing before so I knew I was capable of that schedule.

I had a random day off in August, the day after the ad had been discovered. I had coffee with a good friend, lunch with my roommate and obviously talked to both about it. I headed for home to work on my cover letter and resume.

Because of applying for this job, I ended up having a very honest conversation with one of the pastors at my church. Through the conversation we had, I realized that I was running from being known. She, of course, called me on all these things, as she should.

I didn’t end up interviewing for the job. In all reality, though I want a job like that, but working 60 hours a week and moving from the two places where I feel like myself in Bellingham was not the best idea.

In reality, most of this year I’ve been running. I’ve been running from stopping, from thinking and from pushing in.

I have in certain places and situations. There are friends in my life with whom I can never run from my problems around. But I have reached that place here in Bellingham where I am known and that’s terrifying.

So, why have I said all of this?

It’s simple actually.

I want to encourage you not to make resolutions.

(What?)

I just want to encourage you to step more into who you are everyday. No matter what.

I spent this year trying to busy everything so far away, in the name of my resolutions that I forgot parts of who I was. When those parts were awakened they felt like hope, when in reality they should have just felt like me.

December 31rst and January 1 are no different from today and tomorrow.

There is symbolism in the changing of the year. It is a new book in your life. But it’s not a separate book. It’s a continuation.

So, as the holidays kick in full force and as my kitchen get covered in flour and coconut sugar. As we celebrate the year, the now and the yet to come, I want to remind you that the changing of a calendar doesn’t change who you are.

I want to encourage you to hope for more, but not put the more on a new year.

Don’t run from who you’ve become in all the things. Grab who all the things have made you.

Right now. Today.

Here, in this bar, where I am the only solitary human, I am being where my feet are more than I have in a long time.

Right now. Today

the recipe series

lemon blueberry cake life lessons

I baked a cake on Saturday.

I had this urge when I woke up early Saturday morning to attempt to bake a cake.

Yes, I said attempt. 

I used to be a from a box cake baker, blasphemy I know, but when I was in Spain and was going to make a wedding cake, obviously I needed to make it from scratch. I found a great recipe and it worked out incredibly well.
But, sadly, that recipe never translated to the states.

So, on Saturday I decided I was going to take it slow. I was going to make sure all of my mise en place was done and that I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all.

I even purchased a flour sifter.


When I was young, a tiny human if you will, I was a straight A student. I was quiet and kind and did my work.

But, I had one issue:

I sometimes did things too fast.

Mainly, art and handwriting. I was notorious for having to redo coloring sheets and the first paper I ever typed blew my mind.

I also talked too fast (which I blame obviously on being a Reeve woman). But, the talking too fast was something that caused me to have to repeat myself a lot because when I talked to fast I couldn’t be understood. It wasn’t necessarily my fault, as a weird medical issue I had growing up hindered my speech slightly. 

It was frustrating.

That constant conscious effort to remember to slow down ALL THE TIME and the terror of speaking in front of class.

Now public speaking and teaching and all that type of stuff is mostly fine (as long as it’s my idea and not an on the fly thing) but slowing down all together isn’t something I’m great at.

There are reasons why I don’t slow down. Part of it is because I’m busy. I need to go, go go and get all the things done. Like on any day of the week at about 1:15 you can find me trying to will tiny humans to sleep because I have 15 things I need to do. I am always at least thirty minutes ahead in my brain transitioning to the next thing and finding the holes.

And sometimes I don’t slow down because I don’t want to pause.

God’s been bringing me back around to things I had long thought were done the last couple weeks. I have been busy doing all the things that I do and attempting to add more to my page and the minute I pause, the thing is there, standing in front of me, reminding me that I still need to deal.

So, I put pausing on my to-do list and keep going.

If I don’t slow down it can’t catch me right?

So, Saturday I slowed down. I juiced lemons and I sifted flour. I mixed slowly and wait for cakes to cool and frosting to thaw back out. I sipped coffee and scrubbed dishes with all the windows in my house open.


I forgot what happens when you allow everything space to do what it needs to do.

My cake turned out beautifully. Tangy with lemon and bursting with blueberries. Moist and spongy and surprisingly light.


I think the next season of my life potentially might involve coming back around to things. Things that go deeper then I thought, and maybe put a mark on my life that I was unaware was still there.

When you over mix cake batter it can get dense and chewy because the gluten will form elastic gluten strands. It ruins the cake.

What happens in our life when we choose to ignore the things that keep coming back because we’ve already dealt with them? What happens when we choose to over mix all the things in our life because we just want to be done?

Slowing down and actually resting is the struggle of my life. I’m going to attempt it more and more and maybe just make the practice of baking when I need to slow down.

So, my encouragement to you is this: find what YOU need to pause. Find the thing that slows your brain and your heart and your whole self. Make that thing a part of your soul work and see what happens.

Honest, I choose champagne

You were only waiting for this moment to arrive

I’ve been in Bellingham for two years this weekend.

That’s insane. I kind of can’t even fathom it. That I’ve been here for two years with all the ups and downs and tantrums (by myself and by toddlers). I’ve learned more here then I can articulate. 

The main thing being, I am very, very glad I have decided to the best of my ability to not just “get through” this season.

It was something I noticed being the two year old room. The two year olds were rough. I would find myself counting down the moments til nap and then the moments til three pm.

Trying to force yourself through moments, trying to just get through days is not a way to live.

There was a time in my life that I didn’t want to sleep at night because I didn’t want the sun to come up. I was working in a pretty hostile classroom and I was in an incredibly deep dark well of depression. I would stay up ‘til one or two in the morning just to have more hours in the day to myself.

If I slept then I would have to do all the things again. 

I remember hitting my breaking point, knowing that for myself and for those around me I could no longer just “fake it ‘til I make it”. Something had to give. I couldn’t just put my head down and try to get through.

It wasn’t working.

So, I made changes, I moved out the classroom, I started therapy, I went on antidepressants.

I tried to find joy again and I worked really hard to do so.

There are times, chunks of the last two years, when I know in my knower that I was sitting in a pit of depression. That I didn’t want to go to sleep at night because then the day would come again. 

And I would have to do all the things.

I’m thankful for the people around me who remind me to be present and for the tiny humans who demand it.

I don’t know what this third year in Bellingham holds and I don’t know how many years will follow it; but I’m going to choose, still, to the best of my ability to be present. I’m going to choose to try not to live of faking it ‘til I make it. 

I have parts of my life that I can say without out a doubt that I’m trying to get through. I’m pretty sure most of us would be lying if we said we weren’t trying to get through something.

A season in a city, a season of singleness, a season before marriage, a season of a job.

Days, weeks, months that we are so desperately trying to get past, to get to the next season.

But why?

Why do we deem these moments less important than the ones we are trying to get through? Who are we to decide what moments we can learn from?

If I allow myself, I can learn from everyday. I can learn from the tantrums and the laughter and moments when I feel less than myself. 

But the instance I put my mind in forward, the instance I decide that minute I want ahead of me is less important than the minute I am in, is the instant I decide that my present doesn’t matter

During one of my object lessons I did at camp a couple weeks ago I talked about how there is a plan and a purpose for our lives. There are big, awesome things ahead.

That’s hard to stomach sometimes.

More, is hard to stomach.

But, this minute you are in right now? The one in which you’ve decided to read this collection of words?  

This is a part of your more.

And so is the next and the next.

Let’s start with tomorrow. Let’s start with not getting through tomorrow, but for living every moment of it.

Let’s create joy and growth and hope and light.

So, when we get to the next day and the day after that, we won’t have moments lost in the abyss, but days we can build upon.

Let’s do the damn thing each and every day.

And when we need to- take a deep breath to our toes, and dive back in.

 

the recipe series

The Recipe Series: Community Cheesecake

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I had never made a cheesecake before I set foot in Bellingham. If I am being 100% honest, cheesecakes aren’t my favorite. I mean, yes I can crush a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but the thought of mixing together that much cream cheese didn’t sound appetizing.

Enter my friend Joanna.

Joanna can’t eat a handful of things because of allergies and when the time came that I would have to bake something for a lunch she’d be at I took it as a challenge.

Enter cheesecake.

Cheesecake with coconut sugar and an agave nectar sweetened shortbread crust. Top with fresh berries. It was more tart then cheesecake the first time I made it. But it seemed to be a winner so I tried it again for friendsgiving.

I got a little fancier with this one adding homemade whipped cream. The cheesecake was a little more cheesecake like this time around and I think much more delicious.

But, I honestly didn’t think I’d make another cheesecake, I thought it would more a recipe I could tuck into my pocket for a rainy day.

Then, my lovely friend Joanna and her then fiancé now husband Patrick asked if I’d make a dozen for their wedding.

Duh.

It took my three days, one family trip to Costco, waaaaaay too many ounces of cream cheese, multiple trips to the store, filling my entire fridge with said cheesecakes, 9 spring forms, 12 microwave covers, a trip to the farmers market and of course one maid of honor turned soul sister.

And I would do it all again tomorrow. (Though maybe I would steal their kitchen aid this time).

I love baking for people. I love giving my time and producing something that someone will enjoy.

And it might not always look perfect. It might not work out each time. But when it does…man.


I made two more cheesecakes last week. One for a bachelorette party and one that I had made a mental note in my head to make after seeing that Joanna and Patrick only had one slice of the dozen at their wedding.

The one from the bachelorette party barely got eaten. So it just sat in my fridge for two days as the whirlwind of (another) wedding weekend happened. And Saturday night after this beautiful, holy moment took place, my crew of people ending up at my house before going out.

And we grabbed the cheesecake out of the fridge and set in on the counter and people grabbed forks and spoon and dug in.

It was messy, and there were crumbs in the floor and a couple stray pieces got left behind. To me, right there in that moment though, was perfection. We didn’t need plates or chairs or even a table. We just need the laughter and something to stand around and lean on.

And it was more than ok that we made a mess.
That’s what cooking and baking and creating in the kitchen is to me. It’s not necessarily in the perfectly made pastry, or the chocolate chip cookie that’s the same size as the other 11 in the dozen.

It’s about making a bit of a mess, and laughing and inviting people into your creation.

Really, to me, baking and cooking is about community.

It’s how I bring people together.

Be it a dozen cheesecakes for a wedding, or one eaten with plastic forks directly out of the pan as the woman changed out of their heels.

So, maybe attempt something you haven’t before, or maybe just make a friend a grilled cheese in a cold day. See what happens and what you can create when make a bit of a mess and allow someone in along the way.

Honest

I haven’t always been this whole.

I’ve been talking a lot these days about being whole. I speak to my wholeness on an almost daily basis. 

Most of the time it’s easy. 
But also, there are times when it’s not.

There are times when it’s easier to cry or run or let whatever is pounding at the door come in. 

I am grateful though, that the easy outweighs the hard these day

I haven’t always been this whole.

Even now, speaking out about the non-wholeness that used to infiltrate my being is tricky. 

Somewhere in my life a very simple sentence spurred its way into my thinking, thought life and being:

Don’t take up space.

This translated out into my life in so many ways: always be helpful, don’t be a burden, don’t have people be mad at you, be quiet.

Don’t take up space.

This thought from somewhere in my life colored everything. My interactions with friends, bosses, family, coworkers. It spiraled me into serious depression, burn out and thoughts of suicide.

Those four words crushed my spirit and almost killed me.

I didn’t necessarily know how to deal with them. I sat in therapy for almost four years, was on and off antidepressants. I stopped smiling, stopped living, I didn’t know who I was. 

And I wasn’t going to make what I was going through anyone else’s problem.

How wrong I was.

There’s a saying that says “it takes a village to raise a child”—but what happens when that child is raised?

Does the village leave?

Does the village throw you into the forest to fend for yourself?

No, the village becomes community. 

And we raise each other into the humans we were meant to be.

I lived a lot of my life working my hardest to not take up space. And then four years ago I chose to do this crazy thing called the world race where getting packed like sardines into a bus or in a stable or taxi cab was a norm and I physically couldn’t help taking up space.

me and the se(a)rahs literally on top of me.

I couldn’t be alone at all. Like physically we weren’t allowed to. For 11 months. And community becomes a mirror. You begin to see yourself in others. I was with the same women for most of the race. And you being to learn that who you are effects others. And if you aren’t living in your whole self, it actually makes it pretty damn hard for someone else to live in their whole self.

So, I tucked that knowledge in my pocket, stamped myself as complete and went on my merry way.

the humans with whom i spent most everyday of 2013

Then, I went to Spain, kicking and screaming, and was shoved into a huge room and told to fill the space (not literally, that’d be weird).

But, what I learned in Spain was that I was fully capable of filling that space. Easily.  
That’s terrifying. 

I’m really great at looking like I’m filling a space. I’m great at being who I am. I’m pretty awesome at my job. I’m great at communication. 

I’m excellent at being the center of attention, when it’s my choice.

I’ve come to realize though it’s not necessarily my choice.

he is the word, i am the voice, i’ve got something to say and i’m going to say it.

I’ve come to realize that me filling a space is a part of who I am. I’m not meant to be a background person, I’m not meant to be alone. I’m not meant to give up my space for someone who isn’t as great at taking their own. But a part of who I am is helping them find their seat. A wise Yoda once told me to never diminish myself. 

And that’s not just for my benefit.

A part of my wholeness is the community that surrounds me. A part of my wholeness is me taking up the space at the table that I was meant too. 

That goes for you too. 

We need you at the table. 

You don’t have to be whole. 

You don’t have to know who you are.

We can help.

Lesson one:

You, my friend, were meant to take up space.

Honest, ramblings, stateside

RIP rearview smolder

I’ve gotten really good at celebrating “the last time”. I think it’s because I have lived a life (especially the last couple years) where I have HAD to celebrate those milestones in order to give closure to short chunks of seasons in my life.

I can tell you about the last optional chicken sandwich Friday in Malaysia with the 112 or the last time Veracity ate breakfast at Ana’s table in Ecuador.

I can tell you about the last time I took a bucket shower or hand washed my clothes (both in Cambodia).

The last coffee I had from Maria’s or the last time I watched the sun come up over the Mediterranean.

I can even tell you about the last time I sang together with the Vanguard Women’s Chorus. And that was almost ten years ago.

I love celebrating last times. Closing chapters, turning pages. Making an end. Telling people what they mean to me and telling them thank you.

And that’s how I know how it ends.

But what if you don’t know something is the last time?

Like, for instance, I didn’t know that the last time I took the bus to Fuengeriola and the hot bus driver was our driver (his name is Miguel) that it would be the last time I got a little rearview smolder.

Or that the last time I went to Starbucks with Joe would be the last time I ever went to Starbucks with Joe. And I didn’t know the next time I would see his face would be on a program for his funeral.

It’s crazy when you hit this moment and look back and realize that something was the last time and you didn’t get a chance to treat it like that.

The past three weeks I’ve been working at the preschool. I’ve had a lot of amazing conversations, gotten to hug the necks of a lot of moms whom I adore, and gotten to see how their adorable kiddos have grown. It was a whirlwind as I’d only been home from Spain for 2 weeks when I started.

There was all the normal questions, “What are you doing next” “Where have you been?” “Are you staying?” and of course “Can you babysit?”.

But the one question I got from close friends and people whom I trust was this: “Are you going to go see Sam?”

Sam (whose name ISN’T Sam, I just changed it) was my therapist. I saw Sam regularly from February 2009 to December 2012. I sat on the couch in his office week in and week out. I didn’t cry much, but I did fight a lot of battles in that tiny room. He walked me through a lot of hell, and when it comes down to it was probably one of the first men I ever allowed myself to place trust.

When I got home from the World Race I freaked out. I had a slight panic attack seeing all of the things that had changed. My world had shifted and moved and I didn’t know how to deal. So I grasped at the one thing in that space that I knew to grasp.

I made an appointment to see Sam.

Did I really need to see him?

Probably yes. I needed something to ground me. And for 4 years that space and that place had grounded me. And it did help; momentarily. It reminded me of where I had come from.

When I got back from Spain, I assumed a little bit that I might need to go see him. That I would need that affirmation or even need to tell him I was good.

To tell him I TRUSTED.

But as more and more people would ask if I was going to I realized I was ok.

More then ok actually.

I knew what to grasp at.

I KNOW what to grasp at. And it isn’t even like I’m having to consistently grasp. I’m more or less just steady. But when I do need to grasp; I know where to go.

When I happened upon that revelation, that I didn’t need to see him I had another revelation. The last time I saw him was the last time I would sit on that couch. The last time I would sit slightly anxious with a pillow in my lap.

And since I didn’t know it was the last time: I have never told him thank you.

And though he may never ever read this I just have to say:

Thank you.

Thank you for helping me walk through some of the most treacherous four years of my life. Thank you for talking me off of a ledge metaphorically and literally. Thank you for helping me laugh through tears and helping me realizing what my story actually meant. Thank you for being the beginning steps for me to show up to my life.

And thank you for following up my email with a phone call back in February 2009.

We don’t always know when something is the last time. And that’s ok. I’m not saying to live every moment like it’s your last because then honestly we get into this crazy, sometimes irresponsible mindset. But I am saying this:

Write. Document. Know. Make MEMORIES.

Show up to your life.

You will never have to live in regret or wishing you hadn’t done or said something. You can find ways to say them or you can know in some way you already did.