Lovely Moments- November Edition

I want to remember the small moments, the delightful and lovely moments. I want to show my thanks for these moments and the people I share them with. I want to look back on the small, lovely moments and remember how full my heart felt. I want to live in the present moment and find the beauty in a breath.
~Me.

These are a few of my lovely moments from November:

I discovered that mango habanero salsa turns scrambled eggs into pure yumminess. This month I ate pretty healthy, too. Gotta love those brussel sprouts! BeautyPlus_20171130154135_save

 

I rocked out at an event and even got a temporary tattoo. How magical is this view from the Tempe Center for the Arts? I’m still in awe that I was actually paid to work this event because I had so much fun. IMG_20171130_152634

 

My husband and I celebrated our eight year anniversary with a stay-cation in Scottsdale. We explored, we dressed up, we drank tequila. BeautyPlus_20171130152316_save

 

And we ordered room service for breakfast the next day, where I discovered the joys of tiny Ketchup. Seriously, made my morning!BeautyPlus_20171130151108_save

 

The sunsets in Arizona are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. This night in particular, when we took a car ride with our lab Sophie, stands out as one of the loveliest. I credit the company I keep. BeautyPlus_20171130151505_save

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Conversations with the Past

I’m back from visiting my grandparents and I have tons of family tree information, along with pictures of photographs (he wouldn’t let me take his albums so I improvised by snapping pics with my phone), hours of taped conversations, and pages of notes. I also came back with the comforting knowledge that Yes, I do have family roots. And boy do they have stories!

Foolishly, I’ve always compartmentalized my family. Dad and Mom have their roles as parents; Gigi and Grammy have their roles as grandparents. And they’ve seemed happy to let me think this way. Until recently when my grandfather asked me to write his life story.

He spoke to me like an equal for the four days for which I showed up chronically late each day. He referred to himself as Pete, not Gigi, and referred to Grammy as Mary. My dad was called David in our talks. Slowly this person emerged and presented himself to me via jokes, stories, and photographs. Pieces of an elaborate puzzle floated without an anchor.

How did he get from the youngest of thirteen children (a fact I’m still trying to verify since he couldn’t remember all of their names. Regardless, there was at least ten of them); to the smiling, carefree sailor posing with family before shipping off; to wearing a kilt (yep, the Navy promised he’d go places and one of those places was Scotland); to this tall, handsome man in a suit standing in front of his newly built home that he built himself; to a dad who adored his children (the proof is in the pictures); to a grandfather who seemed so stoic only to shed a few layers and reveal a dark humor similar to my own?

Those four short days I spent in a time machine, in a place that isn’t quite the past, but definitely not the present. Not only did I learn about my family tree (which I never imagined to be so large and so full of life), but I learned more about the people who have had a hand in shaping my life. In doing so, I am beginning to learn more about myself.

Excavating the Past

Recently my 92-year-old grandfather told my parents that he wanted me to write his life story. Living on the other side of the country, I wasn’t in attendance for this revelation, but my mom texted me about it almost immediately. Of course I was thrilled and began planning a short visit home.

It’s now August and I’m entering the final week before I fly home for six days. How do I prepare for this? What (if anything) do I need? Should I have questions ready, or just let him ramble? How emotionally exhausted will we both be at the end of a session? Are just some of the questions swirling in my head right now.

I did what a logical writer (is that an oxymoron?) would do: Posed these questions to my fantastic writer’s group. Their responses and insight were humbling to say the least. Their generosity with their own experiences, their regrets, and their support has been crucial for me in prepping my visit.

Walk around the house with him and note what he looks at or picks up, does it hold a special meaning for him? What are his reactions to the events he’s lived through (at 92, he’s lived through a lot!)? How did he know Grammy was the one (personally, this is one of my favorites and I cannot wait to hear the answer)?

I don’t know much about my grandparents’ lives pre-Dad-being-born. I’ve always been told they don’t remember, or don’t want to remember, their own childhoods. Their parents (my great-grandparents) didn’t want to remember the old country, so nothing is known. I hope to dig deep and discover some roots on my sparse family tree.

In addition to letting him speak without interruption and asking questions here and there to fill gaps, providing him with his own tape recorder to speak when I’m not around was one of the best pieces of advice. To have his (and my grandmother’s) voice recorded so that I can listen to later will be a treasure unto itself.

It’s a big undertaking, and overwhelming when I stop to think about it. Time is not on my side. But I am so very fortunate to have this opportunity and I am going to enjoy every moment leading up to and while I’m there, in their company.

Is There Room for Fear?

Since removing my boot (broken foot, long story, maybe a blog post down the road) in June, I’ve made it my mission to conquer fear.

Conquer may be the wrong word. I’ll never completely get over certain fears, but I do want to learn to live with my fears. I want to acknowledge those fears exist, and then flip them the finger.

A few weeks ago I went snorkeling. Those who know me know that I have an unfounded fear of being in water, despite being an excellent swimmer. One night, maybe in my early teens, I had a dream that I was drowning. Not pleasant. The same dream occurred on a regular basis for years, into my mid-twenties. Always, I was alone and drowning in murky ocean water. Until I moved to Phoenix and the heat forced me to be okay with pools, I wouldn’t even go in a pool! So, snorkeling was a HUGE deal for me.

I hyperventilated, I silently repeated a mantra, at one point on the boat I said “hell, no,” but that didn’t fly because I had told my husband earlier to not let me sit this one out. And then I got in the water. I started to really panic then because, while pool water is safe, this was ocean water. Not safe, according to my fear based on a reoccurring dream.

That’s when I made an arrangement with myself. I said: Self, you’re going to have this fear, but work with me. Let’s put on the mask and peek our head underwater for a second.

I had a death grip on my husband’s hand. We swam against the current and away from a rock that supposedly burned like acid if you touched it (hey, that’s what the guide said). And then nature showed her beauty. A school of rainbow-colored fish swam around me. For an instant my vision blurred not from water, but from the bright colors of a hundred fish!

Fear–whether imagined or learned by experience– is a barrier. Conquering fear might help some people, but I prefer my less-intense approach of accepting fear and living beside it. I don’t want to miss the magic that surprises us in moments of living. Maybe someday I’ll be over my fear of open water, but until that day comes, I plan to live along side of that fear, but still live.

My Tribe

More than a week later and I’m still experiencing a surge of energy from talking with like-minded people: my writing group. I secretly call them my tribe. They probably don’t know the impact they’ve made on my life unless they read this personal, but not-so-personal blog. (This is published on the inter-web, after all.)

I met these two kick ass writers at a local class. When we kept in touch outside of class, I assumed it would be like every other writing group I’ve been a part of: we’d exchange pages a few times and things would fizzle out.

Months later and we are stronger than ever! Pushing boundaries and making things up as we go. The three of us come from completely different backgrounds, both social and educational. But perhaps that’s why this works so well. We all want the same thing: to be better. And we all bring unique experiences to the table so learning from one another never turns stale.

Even though we don’t know many personal details about one another, we know each other intimately through our writing. We have a place to share ideas and pitch crazy off-the-handle stories that any sane person would say, “this person has LOST their marbles!”

I guess the moral of the blog is this: I write for me. My tribe inspires me to write better.

 

Currently reading: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz & After by Amy Efaw