Speak and connect.

As a person, I crave connection. Some people thrive on the surface level “How are you?”s of life, and even if they ask the question, rarely listen for the response. I am not that girl. I see hundreds of people a day, and I ask each one how they are- and listen for their response. The ones who say “Not too bad” are often surprised by my follow up of “Does that mean not too good either?” Sometimes I get a genuine answer.

I want my interactions to be meaningful, even if they aren’t deep. Give me a song recommendation; tell me why you chose it. Tell me about your weekend and I’ll likely probe deeper. Tell me about something you have coming up, I’ll remember and ask about it when next we speak. I’m not perfect at this by any means, but it is something I’m intentional about and I try my best to be present and pay attention. These are, what I would call, easy conversations.

There are some conversations that are more challenging. It has long been touted that the three hardest things to say are: “I’m sorry”, “I love you” and “Please help me”. While I agree that there is some merit to those being hard phrases to utter, some of my best opportunities for growth have come from them. I know I’m fallible and I make mistakes, and owning them with an apology and corrected behavior is growth. Life has taught me to say I love you and often, because you never know when you might not get the chance to say it again. Please help me is the one I struggle with the most, though I have improved in leaps and bounds from a few years ago.

What I find the most challenging at times is speaking my truth. I’ve heard it called bold honesty before, and others have called it taking a stand. Sometimes you have to tell someone you love that they hurt you. Sometimes actions affect you and you need to share that, lest the person be unaware. Sometimes that’s stating your needs, fully knowing that the person you’re speaking with may or may not be able to meet them- but giving them the opportunity. Sometimes it’s telling someone you miss them, when you’re not sure that you should. Sometimes it’s telling a friend or loved one, I see you going down this path and it worries me because I love you. Sometimes it’s sharing an experience and learning that even those with you during that time, were unaware of how it impacted you.

The crux to all of the conversations above is vulnerability. It’s opening up. It’s trusting the person you’re talking with not to hurt you unnecessarily, and trusting yourself to handle the fallout regardless of how it shakes out. It’s sharing from the heart. Many moons ago, one of my favorite teachers told me “If it’s real and from the heart, you can’t say the wrong thing to the right person.” That is a statement that has played in my head over and over again as I’ve geared up to have many conversations.

Vulnerability forges deeper connections and safe spaces. As I step forth today, my desire is to speak from my heart, own my truth and foster greater connection.

In trust,

S

A rose in all its forms

Once as a young girl I had a conversation with my mom about trust, and I likened the process of opening up to a rose. I offered the notion that in order to bloom, the rose needed to know it was secure (safe) in having its needs met- water and sun. The bud in its varying stages of opening was learning and growing, and would eventually open if the circumstances were correct. The rose in bloom was sure of itself and its ability to have the needs met, it was open and beautiful. It seemed so simple then, a rose was either a bud or in bloom.

In my youth, I thought the idea of a single rose was all-encompassing; you were either a bud or fully open. All or nothing, open or learning to be, trusting or getting there; the concept that you could be both open and closed never occurred to me. As I sit here now, I’m shaking my head at my own naivety.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the premise of a rose in its varying stages being symbolic of relations with others and the degree to which we are open. Instead of a single rose though, I feel as if a rose bush is more fitting. As people, we’re not one dimensional, not by a long shot. It stands to reason then, that we can be buds in some areas of our lives while in full bloom in others.

As I look at my own rosebush, I see quite the tale. Sure there are a few roses that are fragrant and open, beautiful in all that they are. However, if you look closer just beyond the sprawling and colorful petals of the roses in bloom, you’ll see there’s more to the story. There are several buds in various stages of opening, some reaching out a petal or two to test the waters; there’s another that is wrapped so tightly it might as well be in a cocoon. Others have petals hanging on despite the fact that their time to shine may have come to pass. There are petal-less stems just standing, as the only evidence that beauty once existed here. In a few places too, there are rosehips, the fruit and seed left behind by a blossom- the lessons as it were.

My aim this week is to nurture some of those buds tenderly, to have conversations that need to be had in an attempt to provide the right circumstances for things to bloom- even if it scares me. I plan to take stock, and find ways in which I can best support what is already in bloom. I will also take out the sheers and deadhead what is no longer serving me and taking away energy, creating a fresh space for new growth to happen.

Wish me luck!
S

Tech savvy and terrific

Today I am grateful for kind words, helpful spirits and getting things accomplished.

I’ve been delaying upgrading my phone since Sprint is now T-Mobile. That kind of stuff stresses me out and typically causes frustration, largely because I’m a creature of habit and I like my things like I like them. However, after about 10 days of technical difficulties, calls not always coming in or going out, and a few other issues, I had added a visit to the local store to my to-do list this weekend. I even went so far as to reach out to a friend who works for T-Mobile because I knew she’d help and it would have been great to see her face… but she wasn’t working again until Monday. I seriously considered waiting until then, however gravity had other plans.

While disposing of our epic pumpkin carvings, my phone jumped out of my pocket and gave the sidewalk a hug, leaving a spiderweb in the broken glass as evidence of the love they had shared. There was also a growing area of black goop under the glass where the LCD screen had broken. With a bit of an exasperated sigh, knowing I wouldn’t have my friend to help me, I grabbed my daughter and headed off to the store.

We waited around, looked at a couple things and joked while we passed the time. After about fifteen minutes of meandering, a guy asked how he could help us. For the next hour or so, he helped close out the sprint stuff and get me set up with my new phone. He laughed and joked with us, helped entertain my daughter when needed and let her help as the process allowed. As we got ready to leave, I thanked him for being awesome and it seemed to make his day.

What was anticipated to be a stressful and potentially overwhelming thing turned out to be quite enjoyable, and I’m grateful!

We have his card and he’s our new buddy! I love adding kind and helpful people to the circle!

From the new phone,

S

Words, man.

I heard once, years ago, an explanation for why words matter so much: “Words have power and magic, that’s why it’s called spelling.” I always kind of took that to heart, and have tried (albeit failed many times) to use that power for good.

There’s many things out in the world now about words and how to use them; sayings like “Your word is your bond” or principles such as “Be impeccable with your word” and sometimes harsh truths of “No response is a response, remember that.”

I think, if we remember the latter and focus on the former, we’ll be in pretty good shape. If you’re impeccable with your word, and treat your word as your bond, you’ll show up in integrity. On the way into work each morning, I pass an electric billboard that usually has some little nugget of inspiration. The last few days it has said, “What you’re doing speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

Believe it or not, the good comes back to you.

That got me thinking about the importance of how we choose to show up in the world. I think, by and large, the merit and character of a person has far more weight than what they accomplish. Who someone is, at their core, trumps their deeds. If you want to be seen as dependable, be someone others can depend on. If you want to be seen as a confidant, be someone people can confide in and know that it’s a safe space to do so. If you want more love, understanding and acceptance- give it away! If you’re doing any of those things, to gain the title or recognition (from a character or achievement standpoint), I think your motives are skewed.

Today, I am grateful for those who share their words with me and allow me to share mine. Free, open and safe, the conversations had within our circle remain there only. I appreciate the trust, the love, the constructive criticism and the assistance. We’re ever growing and learning, and it’s a privilege to get to do so along side some amazing people.

In appreciation of those who encourage me to grow,

S

The little things

How often do you slow down and take note of the simple things? The thumbnail sliver of a waning moon rising just before the sun? The soul gripping notes of your favorite song? The smile on the normally surly guy at work, who’s smile makes you join him because it’s a rarity? The kind words from a friend? The thoughtful gesture by residents at work?

What about the person who let you merge into traffic hassle-free? Or the open checkout at the grocery store? What about the dinner shared with family? Passing a yawn around a group of people, because they are contagious after all? The memories created in simple moments, the inside jokes and bonds strengthened? The song sent by a friend?

There are countless moments in any given day, in every single day, that are worthy of our thanks. These are just a few that my tired brain can come up with after an evening spent with my Brother, Sister Lady, Girl Kid and a Meow. Please don’t take for granted the little things, they have a huge ripple effect.

With love and tired eyes,

S

Pen, Paper and Perspective

Today has been a bit strange, with much time spent in reflection.

I was reminded of a saying today, albeit unintentionally by a friend, that “Paper is more patient than people”. I believe it was an English teacher in high school who went on a brief rant one morning about how paper doesn’t judge, it doesn’t use what you say against you, it doesn’t lie; instead it is there for you whenever you need it, and it just listens.

I took that rant to heart and have indeed written my little heart out more times than I can count since his helpful diatribe. It’s a rare occasion to find me without pen and paper of some variety, because over the years, it’s been my most faithful tangible companion. Despite the fact that you’re reading this on a public blog, my writing is incredibly personal. I don’t share all that I write, not by a long shot.

Today when that pen, with the smooth as silk ink, hit the paper I got lost in a flow of thoughts and feelings. Time slowed as pages filled and as I continued, my perspective began to shift. I wrapped up in time for First Tuesday, perfectly.

Pen, paper and perspective- three things I’m grateful for today.

Write on,

S

The month of giving thanks

When I got to work this morning I smiled at the calendar that said it was still October, secretly relishing in the knowledge that I’d be the one to get to turn the page. Closing the door to last month was a welcome thought, and the fact that it’s now November was an added bonus.

Today marks the beginning of the end of a cycle, one rotation around the sun. In this final month of my current natal year, I enjoy taking stock of where I’ve been and what I’ve done in comparison to where I’d hoped to be. It’s a month filled with self reflection as well as introspection, to see where and how I’ve grown and which areas still need work. Those realizations will lay the groundwork to seeing how my path lays before me, as I decide where I’d like to meander to. By the time my birthday rolls around next month, I’d like to have an inkling of how I’d like my life to feel in the coming year.

November also marks the one month of the year that has its focus on giving thanks. There are so many things to be thankful for on any given day, in every single day. I know many post to their social media during this time daily one thing they’re thankful for, and maybe I’ll hop on that train (likely not). I considered posting it here, and that’s still up for debate. I know it’ll go down in my gratitude journal regardless.

However today, to kick off the month, I was thankful for the colder weather and dreary skies because it matched my mood. The fall colors pop differently against a gray sky, and there’s something about days like today that have me seeking comfort- soup, fuzzy blankets, warmth, hot cocoa. Days like today also make me want to be a bit of a hermit, to come into myself and my space and just be- which is perfect for me today considering what my focus was.

In addition to that, and the ability to write out my thoughts, I’m grateful for true friendship. The long chats that span a multitude of topics, both shedding tears and laughter, knowing that for both of us honesty is the best policy. There’s a comfort in the realness and the vulnerability, the safety that comes from knowing that thoughts can be shared freely and feeling the feelings is welcome. There’s also something magical about friendships that span decades, being able to point out for one another (and in ourselves) where we’ve grown or how we’re handling something differently. I cherish those chats, and I’m thankful for the friends I have them with.

In gratitude and with a smile,

S

Time warps and balancing acts

Stunning sunrise

I’ve written before about how time is a fickle beast, it’s fleeting and finicky. I’ve grown accustomed to the notion that tomorrow may never come and that the conversations we have (or fail to) very well may be the last chance we have to say what’s on our minds and in our hearts.


Sometimes though time does this weird warp thing, where things happening in the current time and space throw you into a similar thing from the past. The last three weeks have been filled with such time warp moments: a robbery at work, the loss of a friend, pictures of times past filled with faces that have passed, making new memories in someone’s memory, heartfelt conversations that felt hard, witnessing a car accident in the same intersection that took a friend by the same means, funerals with memorized lines and memorializing items; all while trying to maintain a sense of balance and my footing in motherhood.


Despite the time warp that each of the things listed above threw me into, and the feelings that went along with them, it hasn’t been all bad. There have been absolutely stunning sunrises, I’ve had visits from former co-workers just dropping in to say hi, I received an unexpected hug from a tutor, some love from a couple cute dogs and I basked in the sounds of laughter from my children and the rustling leaves outside. I was also gifted some beautiful sculptures from a dear friend because they reminded her of my kids, and a pot of flowers from someone at work because she said “I saw them and they are just so you, brightening up things where ever you go.” The kind words, the visits, the hugs and the stolen moments of solitude to start the day, all gave me a lump in my throat and many brought a tear to my eye. These were gentle reminders that even when I feel off balance, there’s support.

To say that I’ve been a bit off kilter would be an understatement. I’ve found solace in my relatively new daily routines. I’ve found more peace in the quiet than expected. I’ve been honoring my desire to go within, to process and reflect. I’m grateful for the understanding of my kiddos, who are being shown that it’s okay to feel your feelings. I’ve also found comfort in camaraderie, in small doses.

Last night while gathered around with friends, I learned that a fun trip out to Las Vegas almost claimed the life of one of my most favorite people. His quick thinking and trusting of his own body, coupled with responsive friends, literally saved his life. There’s now concern over paying for the ambulance ride and hospital visit, as well as the tests and whatnot; but I know that will all get sorted out. I couldn’t express the feeling of deep gratitude I had that I could still give him a hug. When he was done telling his tale, I pointed at him “Come here,” I said, “I need to squish you.” He obliged and I hope that the words that wouldn’t fall from my lips were spoken from my heart.

As I drove home after sharing a meal, playing some games and enjoying some laughter, I thought about what could have been our last conversation. I’d called him to wish him a happy birthday, deciding to call rather than text because I knew they were flying out that night for Las Vegas. We chatted briefly, as they were getting ready and I was close to my destination. I wished him happy birthday, told them to have fun and enjoy their trip, to be safe and reminded them that I loved them. “We love you too!” were the parting words as the call ended.

I will admit, I don’t always tell the people I love that I love them, not outright at least. I think there’s a part of me that hopes they already know. I also know that it’s said by myself and others in a myriad of ways: Let me know when you get home, please. Drive safely! How was your day? I miss seeing your smiling face. I saw this and thought of you. There are countless others so please know, if I’ve said any of these things or reached out to you because my spidey senses were tingling, I care about you. You matter and I hope you know you’ve impacted my life in a positive way.

With much love,
S

I did my eyes for you

Midweek last week, I decided that today was going to be a happy day. Today was going to be spent honoring you, doing things we enjoyed doing. I even went so far as to tell myself that “Sad panda status would be suspended”. Oh, that me of last week was so full of hope…

The me of last week didn’t know that loss would strike again nor how much that loss would make me want to call you, just to make sure you’re alright. The me of last week didn’t know about the lack of sleep and lack of words that would befall this week’s me.

This morning I was unintentionally up before my first alarm, and took the time to try to harness the hope from last week. Where did that me go?

It was still dark dark out, and I muttered to myself about it being darkest before dawn. The bathroom light seemed extra bright and I blinked a few times in protest of the offending illumination. As my eyes focused on the reflection staring back at me, I knew I needed to do something with that. I shook my head at myself, and my eyes lost their focus.

In my mind’s eye, we were back at the house in Littleton. You were standing at the bathroom door poking fun at me for not knowing how to “be a girl”. My hair was down, my dress and shoes were laid out for my first date with Greg, all I needed was to figure out the makeup.

I could hear your laugh echoing in my heart this morning as you watched teen me, the girl with the eye phobia, try to get a mascara wand anywhere near my eyeballs. I recalled the “What…? I know things, okay!” response to the look I gave you after you mentioned using an eye lash curler. For the record, I still think those things are some kind of midevil torture device. No thank you!

My sleepy self regained focus, and once again glancing at myself, thought “Do your eyes!” I’m far less timid about the process than I used to be, but really I don’t do much. Still, knowing that you would have made it a big deal, made it a big deal.

The memory of that day, way back, when you were giving me a hard time about the eye makeup kept popping up throughout the day. Sometimes it was after someone commented on my eyes, others it was just my heart trying to recreate that feeling. See, you gave me guff upto the point when you realized I was getting flustered and frustrated. Your comments quickly went from “Jeeze, what’s wrong with you, how do you not know how to do this?” to “You really don’t need it, you’re already pretty. If he can’t see that, he’s dumb.” I’m pretty sure you even offered to help at some point, which was quickly declined!

That feeling of the balance between “You’re a pain in my ass” and “I love you and am so lucky to have you in my life”… whatever you call that feeling is what I strived for today.

So at o’dark thirty, I did my eyes for you; mascara and purple eyeliner, and I didn’t even poke myself in the eye! On the way into work, I stopped to get fuel and there was chex mix as an impulse buy- checking a box I didn’t even think I needed. RCPM was the soundtrack at work today, and I was grateful on more than one occasion that the mascara was waterproof. Scott and I met up, played some pool and raised some Knob Creek Rye in your honor tonight. The moon was stunning at both bookends of the day.

My heart hurt today, like it has since this day last year. 52 weeks to the 1,918 that I had you in my life, that’s quite a gap. “Sad panda status” was not entirely suspended today, but there were moments. I don’t know that I ever want to acclimate to life without you, but I do hope that in time the “Happy Sad/Sad Happy” feeling gives way to the “Man could he ruffle my feathers, just to smooth ’em out again, brotherly love” feeling that I miss so much.

I miss you friend, and yet I know you’re here, woven in the stories, habits, songs and hearts of those who love you. Thank you for the gift of knowing you. I love you Lewis!

Here’s to Life

“Family Photo” with Roger Clyne from Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers after the Denver Day of Rock 2021. Ben, Kat, Roger, Scott, Corrine and Sam

I’ve long said that music heals, and I knew that Saturday night was going to be a catharsis of sorts.

The Denver Day of Rock has been a staple of summer since it first began in 2009, typically falling the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It’s a day of live music along the 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver, 5 stages featuring music all day, all benefiting AMP the Cause (formerly known as Concerts for Kids). The fact that one of my most favorite bands has been a headliner since its inception was even more reason to go! Food for my soul and supporting a good cause, sign me up!

I knew this year would be a little different, okay, a lot different. I’m sure many are thinking it’d be different because of the covid concerns and the ever-changing rules associated with that, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, the biggest difference with this year’s show is it was going to be missing someone we love: Lewis.

These firsts are always hard and yet needed in order to live the life they would want us to have. I was grateful to know that there would be support in the crowd, my brother and sister in law were going, as was Lewis’s sister and her husband. There was no doubt that he’d want us all to be there, singing and celebrating, being brought together through time and space in a pastime we all love dearly.

As the band took the stage and started playing the familiar notes of the first song of their set, we all set out on a journey. While the crowd swayed and sang along to another song about “Mexico”, I was brought back to the basement of the house I spent my high school years in. It was in that basement that I first met Lewis, and I’m surprised we didn’t wear out the “Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy” disc as we listened to it with regularity while playing pool. I could feel a lump in my throat but I pushed through, singing about the good guys and the bad guys sitting side to side in cantinas, talking to senioritas and drinking warm beer.

The set list was amazing, and had just the right mix of nostalgia. “Hello Tiger” brought tears to my eyes, as I recalled the last DDoR in 2019, where Lewis stepped on my toes and the ensuing shenanigans that followed. I could almost hear his laughter dancing among the notes that were ringing out. Goodness do I miss that sound.

A couple songs later and the tears were flowing again for us all, as they began to play “Leaky Little Boat”. Lewis’s sister Kat has a tattoo on her right arm of a boat with a leak sprung in it to remember him. The oars are a hockey stick and a pool cue, and it is a beautiful piece of art and a perfect way to wrap up things he loved: The Peacemakers, that song, hockey, billiards and most importantly, his sister.

“Alone, adrift together are we
Slowly sinkin’ in a deep blue sea
But we smile and we wave
And we say, “I’m afraid… and I love you… and here we go…”

The truth is, there wasn’t a song in that set that didn’t have a memory or twelve associated with it and him, flashes of fond memories from years of friendship with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers as the soundtrack. They somehow hold more meaning now, laced with the memories of songs sung together and the good times they highlighted. Jim Dalton’s “When She’s Drinking” did provide just the right amount of levity too, we love that song!

Mekong was the next to really pull at the heart strings, and more tears were shed. This was played at his services with a slideshow of pictures, and the chorus perfectly sums up how I think of our friendship.

“Is it true
It’s always happy hour here
If it is I’d like to stay a while
And as cliche as it sounds
I’d like to raise another round
And if you bottles empty
Help yourself to mine
Thank you for your time
And here’s to life”

After the show, we stood in line for the Colorado specific RCPM shirts. By the time we got to the table, they were out of both men’s and women’s large and extra large, but Kat was able to get a medium so it wasn’t for nothing! We meandered around and found my sister in law talking with a few other fellow Peacemakers, and we could see Roger Clyne talking with people on the other side of a moving truck. Kat commented that she wished she could get his autograph so she could add it to her tattoo, but she didn’t want to bother him.

We chatted a bit more, and I saw an opportunity to ask Roger for a favor. The answer is always no if you don’t ask, right? He is such a genuine and kind soul, and he didn’t hesitate at all to come over and talk with us. He signed Kat’s shirt twice, once in pen and once with a sharpie, and also said they were a lifetime guarantee for an autograph because his hand hurt from playing, and he wanted her to have a good signature for something as important as remembering her brother. We were able to talk and reminisce, sharing about our friend, and it meant the world to us. Roger then asked if we could take “a family photo” before he ran off to get some much deserved chimichangas and tequila.

Music certainly heals, though he is still missed dearly.

Here’s to life,

S

Set list from Denver Day of Rock 2021