Friday, March 24, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Temple of Love

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The Temple of Love

My hugs will be the frame around your kisses,
Your lips will be the key to unlocking my words.

My laugh will be an echo in your smile,
Your eyes will be the answer to long awaited questions.

Our hands will lock and get lost in one another.

Our thoughts will mix and create a love song.
Our memories will entwine to tell the same story.

Our future will laugh at our past,
And we will be the temple of true love.


This will be the last post for a little bit, gang. The wedding is almost here and I need to finish up some final tasks, plus give myself a little R&R from all the craziness. I'll be back soon!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday Mantra: Mischief, Mayhem, and Memories

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: Life is strange sometimes
I've turned into a crazy person, you guys.

A fruit cake.

A nut.

To be clear (and to sort of, kind of defend myself because hey, I have feelings), not a bridezilla. I say that because I don't care what shoes the girls are wearing or what their hair looks like or what jewelry they wear. One of my girls might dye her hair purple. More power to her.

I care about things I have never cared about before, not ever in my life. Like how napkins are folded. What the distance is between the aisle runner and the chairs. Whether or not "greenery" means eucalyptus or rosemary.

Crazy stuff.

Even normal things that I do care about typically have gotten derailed. For instance, I've always been a big fan of having a good font on pretty much everything. I am a word person, after all. But ohmygoodness, there are too many options. And too many options drive people to the nuthouse, I tell you! Prior to the wedding planning I hadn't fully realized (or cared) that my name could look so very weird/bad/good just depending on which font I used on our invitations.

Don't even get me started on nail polish colors. Do I want silver glitter? Gold? Silver and gold on a pink base? Or is glitter too glittery? Should I go with a pastel? A bright color? Maybe dark, to offset the pastels? Normally, in Normal Land, I couldn't care the slightest. But now, in Wedding Land, I care. I care in strange and unusual ways. I care so much I painted all of my toes different colors combinations, took a picture, and sent it to my friend so she could help me make a mother effing decision. (As I write this I'm pondering whether or not this post might actually be a cry for decide.)

Outside of that fun, everything else is coming along well. Mostly.

My godparents got into a bad car accident about a month ago. They were both in the ICU and have been released, but they won't be in good enough shape to make it to the wedding. My godfather, along with my favorite teacher and longtime friend from high school, were going to walk me down the aisle. One halfway and the other the rest. Clearly, that won't happen now, which is fine. All I care about is that they're OK; wedding shmedding. Yet, I still wish my godfather could be there.

My godfather, Earl, is one of the last links I really have when it comes to family. I've known him my whole life. He used to live right down the street from my house when I was little. He was friends with my grandparents. Having him there meant I had more family with me, which I have so little of.

When I asked him if he wanted to play a part in walking me down the aisle, I didn't expect the reaction I got. He's a big man, built like a wall. Over a foot taller than me and almost gigantic in some senses. I've always loved that about him. So when I asked him and he broke down into tears, well, it kind of broke me too. Because as big as he is, he's also one of the kindest, most thoughtful, compassionate human beings I know. While I care much more that he's safe and sound at home, I also know how much he was looking forward to this as well. It hurts me that he hurts, whether physically or emotionally.

So, to try and make sure his heart isn't hurting and he doesn't feel bad about not being able to make it, I'm going to make the best of it and bring the wedding to both him and my godmother the next day. We're going to pack up some cake, bring them some favors, take them some of the flowers. We'll have our own little celebration.

On the flip side, to end this on a happy note, let me share with you this story:

When I was in high school, I kind of stumbled into the best thing ever: agriculture. I know how that sounds. Dirt? You found dirt and gardening? 

I was a freshman and I wasn't really enjoying any part of my high school experience whatsoever. My friend was in an agriculture class and had been trying to talk me into switching classes, but I had the same thought you probably did. Dirt? Gardening and stuff?

One day she took me up to the ag. building to try and help me see what I was missing. From the second I waked in, my life changed. It wasn't just a class, it was a family. It was this group of people that all knew and loved each other. They were rowdy and loud, hilarious and fun. They would meet up there before school, at lunch, after school, on the weekends. People of all backgrounds and interests who came together. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. But, it was October and far too late to switch classes. I had this feeling, however, that I had to do whatever it took to join these people. So I begged and pleaded (and begged and pleaded) and the ag. teacher, Mr. Stevens, helped me get moved into his class.

Absolutely every happy high school memory I have stems from finding and joining ag. Literally.

Mr. Stevens, who taught the ag. program, became, in many ways, the father I never had. I know many of us kids felt that way. He wasn't just our teacher, he was a mentor. He was the dad of the ag. family. He cared about each and every one of us. He invested his time in us. He asked questions that he wanted real answers to. He had hundreds of students in all grade levels and he knew all of their names, their interests, their stories.

I took his class all four years. Most everyone did. Once you found that group, you stayed until you were forced out by graduation. Most people came back even after that, to visit on lunch breaks or volunteer for events. No one ever really left.

Over those four years, I told Mr. Stevens I had basically adopted him and that one day, when I got married, I would have him walk me down the aisle. He told me he would be honored to do that. Thus, a promise was made. One we would repeat to each other randomly, like when I graduated and he reminded me to keep him posted. Mr. Stevens is a father to two boys, so I've kind of always thought that maybe, just maybe, this promise might mean even more to him than I realized.

Unfortunately, I didn't keep that promise the first time I got married. That's a long story in and of itself, but I think part of the reason I didn't ask him was because something told me to wait, like it wasn't the right time for some reason. So I listened. Even then, I regretted not having him there. It always bothered me, always. But I also just...couldn't. Life is weird like that sometimes for reasons you can't explain until much, much later.

The moment I knew The Fiance was The One, I also knew Mr. Stevens would be walking me down the aisle, just like we had talked about so many years ago. All my instincts told me this was what I'd been waiting for. This is why I wasn't supposed to ask before. So while I won't have my godfather, I will have my teacher, my friend, my ag. dad. I will finally be able to uphold the promise we made all those years ago.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Lies

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

You're not mine.
We're not us.
It's a lie.

Can't you see?
I'm off key.
Lost my beat.

Turned to dust.
Never was.
This is just


In denial.
Faking smiles.

That we play.
That we lose.
Make us break.

In our hearts.
In our heads.
This is just


Once the best.
Always said
'Till the end.

Of better days,
Of better things,
Of different ways.

Gave us wings.
Gave us dreams.
They all died-


Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Mantra: I Live a Fortunate Life

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: I live a fortunate life and I will not forget that
Rachel Caldwell
Recently, on more than one occasion, I've been reminded of how fortunate I am. In loved ones, in health, in work, in kindness shown to me by others. In so many big and small and in-between ways, like the text messages of songs my friend Noah and I share with each other. Or the wiener dog eraser my friend Nichole bought for me, just because. In love and in laughter and in sacrifices from others. I live a fortunate life.

Anytime I write about being grateful, I never feel like I express it sufficiently. Like nothing I could ever say would be adequate enough to express how truly thankful I am for my life, my people, my path on this journey of living.

There have been many times where I've faltered in compassion, in kindness, in patience, in trying. Times when I feel like I'm failing in living. Those are humbling, helpful moments. It is in those instances that I learn, and it's usually because shortly after I've failed, I'm shown someone else who hasn't. Someone who radiates love. Someone who sacrifices themselves for the joy of others. Someone who has kept going, kept giving, kept kindness as their anchor. When I see those people, when I am reminded by them of what I should strive to be more like, I dust myself off and start again.

I live a fortunate life because of the people in it. Because of countless individuals who have done so much for so little. Because of people I don't even know who, without even realizing it, have paved the way for me and so many others.

I live a fortunate life and I will not let myself forget that.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Oblivion

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Mission failure-
Our surroundings
Silence screaming
All around us
Life has shattered.
Star explosions-
Blinding light.
Black holes dancing
In the sky.
Taking shape.
Only darkness
In this place.
Creeping in.
This is how our
End begins.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday Mantra: A Dream Within A Dream

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: Nothing's ever as it seems
Heather Landis
A few weeks back I had a dream. I was kneeling over an open faced grave staring down, down, down at Ben, my friend who passed away many years ago.

The lid of the coffin had been removed and I could see his skeletal remains. I could see torn remnants of his clothes, clumps of soil and roots- everything a nightmare would look like.

But this didn't feel like a nightmare.

As I continued peering down, life - or death, I should say - started moving in reverse. Fragments of dirt started flying down past my face, slowly re-filling the dug open wound of the earth. Flesh started appearing on his bones, his clothes started reforming, and he started to become whole once again.

I continued peering down at him, but suddenly I was closer, much closer. Suddenly I was kneeling in the coffin starting at his face, watching him open his eyes. Watching him come back from the dead.

In that moment the only thing I wondered was if he would recognize me after all these longs years. And then, I knew- I knew that he did. I knew he remembered not only me, but that he had died. I could tell by the exact look on his face in that split second that he had been happy in death. He had been in a good place. And even though he had just been pulled from what I assumed was heaven and brought back to our trouble-ridden earth, I could tell he was happy to be here. His face was alight with joy.

I, too, felt this joy. My dead friend Ben was here. With me. Alive.

We were smiling, we were crying, we were hugging- we were a mess. This reunion seemed to carry on for days in my dream; a never-ending happy moment.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this I also realized how much older I was. Ben had died a teenager on the brink of adulthood. I was a full fledged adult. And somehow, he seemed to know what I was thinking. A fraction of a second after I had that thought, he began to age. Just as I had seen him come back to life moments before, he was now changing, catching up to me through time lost in death. Suddenly, he was an adult.

His outfit caught my eye as well. He had been wearing a suit of sorts, but now as an adult he was dressed in a white and green plaid shirt with light colored pants. In all the time I'd known him, I had only ever seen that outfit once. The rest of the time he was in black on black on black, with a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes and chains either on his wallet or his wrists or his neck, making him look every bit dark and broody. Making him look the exact opposite of everything he was- one of the happiest, kindest, most polite and loving human beings I'd ever known.

I almost never dream about Ben. In total, after all of these years, this is my second dream. The first one not even a vague memory, so lackluster in all of it's pieces. This dream was everything opposite of that; full of detail and emotion and, in some senses, closure.

Ben and I never said goodbye. We never had the chance. When he died, we were still in the midst of making up from a stupid fight that I can't even remember all the details of. I assumed that's what this dream was, as I scoured every dream dictionary I could get my hands on.

Usually, I'm pretty good at this dream analysis business. For instance, I had this dream about a week before the anniversary of his death, so I assumed that was a trigger for it. I've always wondered what he would look like as an adult, and I got to see that. I always wondered if in death, somehow, he was still mad about our fight and mad at me, or if we were OK, so to speak. The outfit, I knew, was a true representation of Ben. It was the version of him he didn't let anyone see until they'd earned it. Until they'd looked past their judgement of him from the exterior and seen who he was on the inside.

From all of those angles, it seemed like I had answers. My brain sorting and working and fixing and healing.

The dream dictionaries disagreed with everything I thought. To be honest, I couldn't find anything that exactly matched my dream, so I had to go with the basics. Death, coffin, dead, etc. Every single piece of my dream that I looked up said the exact same thing: A wedding is coming, and with it, good omens.

My wedding is coming- soon. According to the all mighty dream dictionaries, only good and wonderful and happy things are headed my way. While I appreciate that my strange and unusual dream is tied to my wedding, I can't help but wonder at the the content of it all. The dream could have come to me in any form, but it came in the form of Ben. It came with closure and love and happiness and oh-so many hugs. It came with what seems like a double meaning; a solution or answers to the past, and promises for the future.

It came with what felt like a blessing.

At the tail end of my dream, I was trying to figure out how to get him to stay. I wanted to find a way to keep him here, to somehow allow him a chance at life. Ben never spoke in my dream, but he always knew what I was thinking. And somehow, I too knew the thoughts inside his head. It's like a could hear his voice in my heart.

So while I was pondering options like the secret service and how to tell his family he was alive, he was smiling at me, waiting for me to catch on. While I was wishing he could stay, he was showing me he couldn't. This had been a visit.

No dream dictionary can define that last piece. I did more searching and I stumbled across one article about a theory of how the dead communicate with the living. It said that we never get to choose when to talk to them in dreams. We can try forcing ourselves to dream about them, but it's futile. Those who have passed have to initiate the contact. And when they do, when you are in that place that feels every much as real as your waking life, it is. It is the only way they can talk to us and it is very, very real.

I will keep living where Ben cannot.

I will live a happy life, with a man I love, and my two furry babies. I will always wonder about this dream, but I will also always cherish it. If the last piece is true and this was a visit, then I look forward to a day when he may visit again. And if that day comes, I will show him my beautiful life and how well I've lived it. For him, and for me.

Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream? - Poe

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Together

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Each second that passes
As our story unfolds,
Is a second that's worth
More than silver and gold.