Friday, December 19, 2014

The Reflection of Shadows: My Father's Voice

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The Boyfriend and I recently saw The Theory of Everything, a movie about Stephen Hawking's life and his relationship with his first wife, Jane. The movie was beautiful and the acting was insanely good, but the thing that made me pull out the tissues to dry up my eyes was the same thing that got me when I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: the resemblance to my father.

My dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.) and by the time I was three he was almost entirely immobile. When I was four he had to be whisked away to the hospital in the middle of the night in the worst snowstorm we'd ever had. I distinctly remember the rescue team carrying him over the tree that had fallen across the bridge in our yard, blocking the exit to the ambulance. From that night on, my dad spent the rest of his life in a nursing home.

Because my dad had such an advanced level of M.S. it was impossible for him to even speak. We used an alphabet board to converse with him, having him blink when we had hit the right letter, slowly piecing all the letters together to form words and, eventually, sentences. It was long and arduous and not nearly as impressive as the very similar yet slightly different methods both movies portrayed with their own version of the alphabet board. Although I know it's silly, anytime I see something remotely better than what we had to work with I feel equally angry and jealous.

When I was 14 (that was a big year for me and life and poetry, if you haven't already figured that out) I ran across an old VHS tape. In it, I heard my father speak to a one-year-old me at my one-year-old birthday party. Outside of watching that video, I have no memory of his voice in person. It was a surreal and other worldly moment, like listening to a ghost speak to you for the first time.

I hope all of you take the time to appreciate and love the people in your life. Not just now, because it's the holiday season and we all seem to be a little more thankful and grateful and kind, but because you never know when your life will change. You never know when your yesterday's will become wishing wells you throw your silent prayers into, collecting each and every plead for a second chance that you'll never be given again.

Singing Birds - Society6
My Father's Voice

My father’s voice was proud and strong,
Within it rang confidence, strength, and song.
It was deep and clear and demanded truth,
It held no lies and it longed for youth.
My father’s voice was stolen away
By the dark of the night, by the light of the day.
It was stolen by the wind and blown into the sky,
Never to be heard again, set free to fly.
His voice was soothing, his tone was calm,
It echoes through my mind, it echoes through the walls.
It can drive a person crazy, it can calm a baby’s cry,
It left his soul so fast that I couldn’t say goodbye.
I hear it in my sleep, in my dreams it fills my mind,
It whispers through my music, it screams throughout all time.
It was taken by the sunlight, as the sun shall rise and set,
I will try and try to catch it for it knows it owes me debt.
I’ll not give up my fight and I’ll listen for the noise
Of the whispering and echoing of my father’s voice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

In the World of Wellness: A Colorful Christmas Dish

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: Green, red (OK, purple), and delicious. What could be better? Probably dessert, but stay with me here, people.

A Colorful Christmas Veggie Dish

  • 1/2 - 1 pound of Brussels Sprouts
  • 4-5 colorful carrots - yellow, purple
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • Sea salt, pepper, and Italian herbs 
  • Olive oil

1. Preheat large pan with a bit of olive oil.

2. Grab your Brussels Sprouts, chop the bottoms off, and remove the outer layers. Then, slice those babies up. Grab your carrots, peel, and cut them into quarter inch slices as well. Dice up about 1/3 cup of red onion.

3. Place all your veggies in the pan, add a little more olive oil, and sprinkle with your preferred amount of seasonings (I like 1 TBSP of Italian Herbs, 1/2 TSP of sea salt, and a sprinkle of pepper). Remember, start small, taste, add more. 

4. Cook on medium to medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes, making sure to stir as you go. The length of time really depends on how crispy or not you like these particular veggies to be. I believe Brussels Sprouts taste the best when they're nice and crispy vs. soft. In fact, I'm pretty sure Brussels Sprouts have a bad rep because they're usually served all squishy instead of nice and firm. Crispy is key here, folks.

5. Serve!

See, really easy and pretty. Perfect for the busy Christmas day!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Reflection of Shadows: Sleep

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

It's been one of those weeks, friends. One. Of. Those. Weeks. 

I put up two Christmas trees - TWO - in an attempt to make the inside of the house look like a winter wonderland because Phoenix never looks like a winter wonderland outside. 

On Sunday I got up at 5am, ran/walked a 5K, came home and attempted to finish unpacking every single box and hanging every single picture that was left from the move- and then reorganized the garage so it looks as beautiful as a garage can possibly look. 

I tried to keep the kids (dogs) entertained and happy, only to have the giant one accidentally bash me in the face with his even more giant rock-solid skull. It's a miracle I'm still alive right now.

Basically, I started about 776 projects assuming I would get every single one of them done and still be able to go to bed at a nice, reasonable hour like nice, reasonable adults do. 


I hope you all haven't been as holiday crazed as me. If you have, I hope you at least didn't get knocked in the skull by a beast of a dog. And if that happened, well, I hope you had an ice pack on hand. 

AmsterDAM Society6


Sleep is a word that I know not so well,
We have been acquainted,
Though I bid it a farewell.
Only in my waking, in my yawning, in my haze
Have I wished some sleep upon myself
To get me through the day.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Mantra: When Parents Become People

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Whether we like it or not, parents are people too
Annie Olinick

"It is easier to build up a child than it is to repair an adult."
 - Frederick Douglass

I've seen that quote many a time. It strikes me as one of the most important ones to memorize and live up to. I can see it in people I know. The ones who are unstoppably strong and confident, in all the right ways. The ones who needed more hugs and reassurances that they were loved, that they were enough. I can see it in myself, in all the ways I wish I was different, better.

A parent has the greatest responsibility of anyone out there. It's their job to raise us wild, crazy kids into mature, responsible, healthy adults. That's no easy task, given how different each person can be with personalities, beliefs, thoughts and goals and ideas. 

As a child, you look to your parents for absolutely everything - advice, guidance, life examples, wisdom. You expect them to be almost perfect because, in some ways, you need them to be. One of the most important (and hardest) lessons I ever had to learn was that my mom wasn't just my mom. She was a person, all on her own, with hopes and dreams, disappointments and failures, weird ticks and personality quirks. On some level, I knew this. About her, about all parents. But as her daughter, as a child, I had certain expectations of her as my mother. 

I've realized that there is a point where my mom stops being my mom and she becomes her own person. The person she always has been, always was, long before I was in the picture. The person who can handle certain things and needs me to handle others because she just simply cannot do it. The person who sometimes needs to trade places with me because life has left her alone and she doesn't know what to do next. The person who has her own beliefs about God and the world and what's right and wrong and who will never see eye-to-eye with me on some things that drive me absolutely crazy.

I find it equally comforting and sad that many of my friends can relate to this. We've all had the "What were/are our parent's thinking?" talks. We've made pacts to stop each other from doing those same things in life. We, I think (I hope), won't end up doing them because we have seen and lived them first hand. We will, I'm certain, make our own mistakes. We will fail and mess things up and try and try and try, but at the end of the day I hope we will have built our children up to be strong, compassionate people. I hope when our children see us as people and not just parents, they'll be proud. 

I struggled writing this post. There are so many things I could say from my perspective as a child, which is of course going to be completely different than that of a parent. I have no perspective as a parent right now, unless you count my four legged children. I know there are good parents and mediocre parents and parents that should never have been parents in the first place. I know that most (most, not all) parents try their very best to be good examples to their children. I know this. 

I guess what I'm really trying to get across here are two things:

One - We have to accept that our parents are people, too. People who have their own personalities, their own ways of doing things, their own lives. People who will make mistakes and who will let us down, not necessarily on purpose, but because they are simply human. That being said, we have the inherent right as their children to expect a certain level of parenting that guides us, protects us, cares for us, and doesn't leave us wondering WTF is going on in their heads. 

Two - We all have a responsibility to be better people, whether or not we're parents right now. We have a responsibility (to ourselves, to our current children or our future children) to be the best people we possibly can be. To love unconditionally and be fiercely compassionate in all things we do. To set the right examples by demonstrating through our own actions. To build our children up so that they can be even better parents than us. Ultimately, to know at the end of each day with whatever mistakes we made, we gave it everything we had to be the best people our children could have ever hoped we'd be. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Reflection of Shadows: Sinful Wishes

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
I love this life I've been given, but every so often I get a little ticked off. I get tired of importance being placed on the wrong things. I become irritated when we try and measure people's feelings when, instead, we should be trying to understand them. I find myself churning a little fire of anger inside myself when we tell everyone they must be identical, they must be the same, they must not differ in any way.

Seeds of Good and Evil - Society 6

Sinful Wishes

Holidays are long forgotten,
Empty Christmas cards left wanting,
Tip toeing around religions,
Careful not to have opinions.
Goals and numbers only matter,
Art is simply paint that’s splattered,
Words no longer hold a meaning,
Nothing changes but the seasons.

Children no longer believing,
Kept away from their daydreaming,
Glance away from strangers passing,
Scared of questions worth the asking.
No one smiles, lack of reason.
Happiness is found of treason.
The greatest thinkers being silenced,
Their voices masked by shrieks of violence.

Deeds forgiven to the shameless
And those who shall remain here nameless.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Reflection of Shadows: Simple

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. A time to reflect on the good we've been given in our lives- the people, the experiences, the opportunities and friendships and miracles. A time that often makes us appreciate the more simple things in life that we, too frequently, take for granted. The breath in our bodies, the wind in our hair, the small things that add up to the great things.

Take a  moment today (maybe in the middle of your Black Friday shopping...just a suggestion) to reflect on the simple things in your life. Acknowledge them. Appreciate them. Remember them.

Simply Sweden - Society 6

Simpler Times

Simple was what simple is,
Based on how we choose to live.
Based on checklists, endless tasks,
Buying what we think we lack.
Peace and calm is all we need,
In this we seek simplicity.

Long before the days were full
With goals and chores and things to do,
Long before we couldn’t rest,
Before we couldn’t catch our breath,
Before the days and nights of work
When all our bare feet knew was earth,
We found the joy in smaller things,
Like dewey kisses in the breeze
Or memories of colored skies
When firecrackers lit the night,
When bedtime stories filled our heads
Before our eyelids closed in rest.

Simple things should always be
Our spectacles through which we see.
 The sky that’s blue that paves the way
To new beginnings everyday,
To air that’s cool, to wind that’s still
Where only simple things we’ll feel.
A time of rest, of calm, of peace
In letting go we find relief.

Let us open up our eyes
To peaceful days and simpler times.

I won't have a post Monday as I'm taking the next few days to spend time with the family and decorate for Christmas. Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Mantra: Choose Now

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Leap and the net will appear - John Burroughs

Leap - Society 6
I talk a lot about not having regrets in life, or at least about trying to reframe them as lessons. For the most part I live in this way. However, there is one moment in history I would change, if given the chance.

Years ago I was on a Euro trip and one of the stops was Amsterdam. Upon arrival the city seemed pretty normal. After waking up from a much needed jet-lag nap the city was bustling with people, helicopters, and the color orange everywhere you turned. Thousands upon thousands of people had filled the city by mid-day to celebrate the World Cup. Shouts and laughter filled the streets, and a concert was being set up right around the corner. It was beautiful madness; unlike anything I've ever seen. I had my camera near me ready to capture every moment.

I can still see it so clearly in my mind.

The streets were packed. The city looked gray against the people decked out in their bright orange attire. Down one particular street was a group of teenagers cheering and throwing their arms around each other as they made their way down the path. I had never seen so much happiness and joy emanate from a group like this before. They all moved as one, all high-fiving and hugging in unison, with smiles wider than the street they were walking on.

I stood there, watching this beautiful moment in time, debating whether or not I should take a picture of them. On one hand, it felt invasive. Like I would be intruding on them, stealing away a piece of their celebration with the click of my camera. On the other, in my gut, I knew I would never live to see anything like this again. It felt like I was in Time magazine. Like I was staring at the cover picture, living in the story.

I waited and waited and waited until I'd waited too long. Until the group ended up walking right past me without one single picture being taken.

It's a silly regret, I know. But on the scale of things that are important to me, who I am, and what makes me tick, it rates highly. To this day, I regret not having that moment captured for my own memories. To be able to look back and recall so clearly that beautiful moment of sheer bliss.

This is something I can't change. I can't go back in time. I can't recreate this particular piece of my history.

This is where the lesson comes in to play.

Debating on having a surgery or getting married or moving to a new state - those are big decisions that require a lot of time and research. Taking a picture, buying that antique dish at the French market, trying the Special of the Day at a place you'll never return to - those are the things I'm talking about. The small yet still important pieces of life that come only once and can never return again. The moments that say, "It's now or never. Which will you choose?"

Choose now.

Some pictures of the event that I didn't take, but that these lovely people did.

Pierre Crom

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Reflection of Shadows: This Young Woman

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
I received my new PostSecret book in the mail the other day and I've been flipping through it's pages each night before I go to sleep. There's something about people coming together and sharing their secrets that is exquisite, that draws me in and makes me feel more connected to the world.

There are secrets of love and happiness and hope. Secrets of shame and guilt and fear. And then there are the secrets that get to me the most. The horrible, awful experiences others have endured. The confessions of having been raped, molested, or having such deep thoughts of suicide that you don't even know if the person who wrote the postcard you're reading gave themselves a chance to live another day or not.

Those are the secrets that keep me up at night. That make me question this world that we live in and the terrible things that happen.

I've always wanted to send in my own postcard but the truth is, ever since I started this blog, I no longer have a reason to. I share all of my secrets with you. That is a gift you have given me that I am truly grateful for.

When I first started writing poetry, it always came out very sad. I couldn't have written a happy poem if I wanted to, and I did. I tried repeatedly. But touching on the sad things in life was always easier for me to connect to, whether or not I had experienced them firsthand. However, because they were always so sad I never shared them. I kept them tight and cozy in my notebooks, safe from the question filled world.

This is one of those poems.

I wrote this when I was 14 and I hadn't yet even known anyone who had tried committing suicide. I wrote it one night for no specific purpose other than it felt like it should be written. It felt like something many someone's had pondered at one time or another in their life.

Leave Me Be
Society 6
Melia Metikos
This Young Woman

This young woman, who lightly draws a breath,
This young woman should not dream of death.
She should not be in fear, she should not fear in love,
She should not be in love with someone she can’t trust.
She should not hurt her friends, her friends should not hurt her.
She should never question her existence on this earth.
Her life is just confusion, just a visionary blur,
And with the consequences, it seems the less she learns.
She fights with everybody, the fights last so long,
She wants to keep repeating “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone.”
She knows she has a good life, with all that she’s done wrong,
But deep inside she has a fear that life won't last so long.
She wants to succeed, to make something of herself,
She doesn’t know where to turn or what choices she has left.
She worries about the world- the future, the past,
She worries that she’ll never find a love that really lasts.
She worries about money and whether she’ll survive,
Then she wonders, does it matter, will she be alive?
She knows she has so much love inside of her to share
But then she questions, does it matter, does anybody care?
She cries alone at night, she prays to find the way,
Every morning when she wakes nothing yet has changed.
This young woman, who knows not what is left,
In her life, this young woman should not dream of death.

If you struggle with depression or thoughts of suicide, please use this PostSecret resource list to get help. You don't have to be alone in your fight. There are people all over the world that you haven't even met yet that care about you. I know this because I'm one of them.