Friday, December 30, 2016

The (Ultimate) Blog Challenge

Somewhere and somehow, I heard about this blog challenge a couple of weeks ago.  And a love a good challenge so...

I know very little about why this is considered the ultimate blog challenge.  But from the looks of this little sheet I printed off to keep track of my progress, it looks do-able, while still challenging.  Basically, during the month of January, I am to post a new blog every single day.

That's a lot. But it's not so overwhelming that it sounds out of the realm of possibility.

I've written 50 songs in 90 days several times through another challenge, which wasn't even labeled ultimate.  So I feel like I got this.  There's no reason I can't, and so, there's no reason not to do it.

What I know for sure, is that if you don't practice something regularly, you start to get rusty.  And fortunately, the opposite is true as well: If you practice something regularly, you will get better at it. I will get better.

Do I have enough interesting things to say over the course of 31 days straight?  To be honest, probably not.  But this will help me "re-discover" my writing voice, as I'm a little out of practice these days.

And what better time of the year to re-establish an important habit?

So here goes.  Starting January 1. A new post for this blog every single day.  31 days straight.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Today would be Mom's 81st birthday.  I so wish she was here to celebrate that...

Every year, since she has been gone, I allow myself total indulgence on this day- I'm always lazy, I usually go to the movies, and sometimes, someone I love tags along with me for at least part of the day.  I keep Mom in mind the whole day.  I'm kind to myself.  And each year, it's gotten easier.

Oddly, this year, I have a sort of busy day- and it's completely different than the others have been.

I have to go back in for a mammogram (and yes, I chose this day because I know I will have an angel watching over me). Later in the afternoon, I'm going to a friend's graduation from chef school. Then, later this evening, I have a neighborhood Christmas party to go to.  Other than the mammo, all of it sounds fun for sure, but it's not by any means, my usual day of self love and care, designed to keep me from wallowing in the sadness of missing Mom.

And that all makes sense to me.  Because I don't worry that I will wallow in my sadness of missing her anymore.  Although of course I wish she was here- of COURSE I do, every. single. day!, I'm not sad.  The days of meltdowns seem to be gone.  That doesn't mean I don't tear up and sometimes cry when I'm having a moment I know she would love, or whatever, but I am very much at peace with how life has moved on.

And life does move on.  Thank God.

I remember, shortly after she died, when the rest of the world seemed to be "going on" before I was ready, and I felt like I needed the world to just stop... or at least slow way down. But it's the human condition to recover, and find joy in life again. And I have.

Having loved Mom so much and having counted on her being around far longer than she actually was, has hard and great lesson that no one, no matter how much we love them, will be around forever.  And although that sucks, it also is a good way of keeping in touch with enjoying whoever and whatever is in the present moment.
Mom never seems too far away from me.  Even still.  I feel like I can have conversations with her in my head when I need to, because I knew her so well and was so connected to her, that I pretty much know what she would say.

Today, she's be saying, "Good for you for getting that mammogram!", and she'd be telling me to go off and have fun with my friends later in the day.  And I totally will!  Cheers to you, MOM!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Choosing New Books

For many years, I've loved reading suspense/thrillers.  I like that genre of movies, too.

I think that genre of books, has really grown in the last several years.  Probably due to the popularity of books like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. Amazon gets me nearly every time with their claims of some new book being "the next Gone Girl!" But, Gone Girl's been done.  And the magic of it was in it's fresh twist no one was expecting. But now, we all are just waiting for the twist. So really, there is no next Gone Girl anyway.

The other day I was reading a book a couple of friends had both told me was really good and creepy.  Used to, this was totally my thing: good and creepy. But as I was reading it, I felt like the author had just put some scenes in there for shock value.  It had torture scenes that were just vile and... gross. (And honestly, should probably come with a warning label on the cover of the book!)

Prior to starting this creepy book, I had just finished reading a book that was so beautiful and deeply moving that it made me cry.  In a good way. (I can't yet reveal the title, as I'm giving it to quite a few friends for Christmas--) Due to that stark contrast between the two books, this creepy one was just not doing it for me. 

However, I did have an epiphany.

Words are powerful.
Books are full of words and imagery, and I spend many hours each week with my nose in them.
I'm pretty sure all that stuff is absorbed into my general outlook and mood of the world.
Filling my head with the murder and torture, even if it's thrilling, and even if it's fiction, can't possibly be a good thing.

There is enough negative things in the world.  Why should I be piling on even more of that through the choices I make in what I read?

So although I finished reading that book, I said to myself- no more.
At least not for a while.  And most definitely not as much of it.

So adding to my #goals list for 2017:
Read more books that fill me with good thoughts, less murder and suspense.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Creative Pursuits for 2017

There's is still a lot to do before we wrap up 2016.  But I'm trying to think ahead a little, and get myself excited about the new year to come. Because, it's coming! In previous years, I haven't set resolutions or goals for the new year, because I don't really give myself time to thoughtfully come up with anything all that meaningful.  But this year, I'm on it! And I think it just might make a difference in how I approach things. This year, I'm not necessarily making "New Year's Resolutions", but instead, I have some creative pursuits I intend to roll out for 2017.

Here are the main ones, that feel are the most vital, important, and fun:
1. Record 10 songs. Maybe new ones, maybe some I've already written, just never recorded. I've got a home studio so really, why aren't I using it?  I'm not saying I'm making a CD.  I just recording a batch of 10 songs. Even if I'm the only person that ever hears them. No pressure.  Just a creative outlet for myself and for FUN.

2.Make up a dance routine for Lucy and me and video tape it.  I watch those dog dancing videos whenever they pop up, and always want to do my own.  And I know Lucy can pull it off.  She already knows some of those dog dance moves I've seen in videos.  She LOVES learning and practicing tricks.  And we're both dancers at heart.  So why the heck not!?  Again, no pressure.  Just for FUN.  I'm pretty sure Ricky will be happy to just lay on the couch and watch from the sidelines, but who knows...If he wants to be in on it, we can make it happen!

3.Launch my podcast already.  I've been dreaming, scheming and saying "I want to start a podcast" for well over a year now, but I've not done it yet.  I think I'm just scared of investing a lot of time and energy in the output, and then not finding an audience for it.  But again: why not just do it for my own creative outlet and FUN? The people who need and want to hear it... WILL.

This next one may not necessarily be a "creative pursuit",but it is a pursuit none the less.  And it feels very important to me, so I had to include it as the "grande finale" of my list today.

4.Move to Colorado.  Or as Fermin likes to say, "Find a home in Colorado."  So let's just compromise it for now and say: Find a house in Colorado to live in at least 6 months out of the year.  I've lived in Dallas my entire life, but have always yearned to try something different.  And the mountains are it for me. So, Colorado- here we come!

More on all of these goals as they progress.  But the universe needs to hear my plans.  So I wanted to say them here.

2017 is sounding pretty amazing already!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Music Monday- James Morrison "Right Here"

I've been a fan of James Morrison since I heard him sing backup on some Jason Mraz song that I actually can't even remember right now.  The minute I heard that voice of his- soulful and scratchy- I bought his CD that was out at the time. It was his first. And I loved it.  I covered a few of his songs and threw them onto my own set list at the time.

Then his next CD came out.  And again~ bought it and loved it.

And just the other day I thought of him, although I hadn't listened to his music in a while.  I was in my car- which doesn't even have a CD player- so I looked him up on Apple Music.  Somehow, he had a CD in 2015 that blew right past me.  So... obviously, immediate download.

Luckily, it's the "bonus" edition of the CD so there are 15 songs on this batch.  And it may be his best yet. There's a good range of tempo and styles within these 15 songs.  I like all of them, but songs 4,5 and 6 hit the sweet spot for me.  I don't remember the titles, but that's the track order.  This is the 4th song, and it's called "I'm Still Here".

The lyrics come so fast on this one, so I was pretty happy just now when I looked it up on YouTube for Music Monday... Although there isn't a official video of this song, there is a lyrical one so it's a sing a long!  And that will help me (and you) learn the words a whole lot faster.

Happy Music Monday.  Get ready to dig into a great song.  The whole CD is impressive.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Joys of Snail Mail

Yesterday I got a little unexpected surprise in my mailbox.

My friend, Ann, who I have gotten reacquainted with over the last couple of years but had been my across the street neighbor growing up, sent me this:
I loved this for so many reasons.  First of all, I have always loved mail.  Even still to this day, I look forward to checking my mailbox daily.  It's usually just bills or junk mail.  It's so rarely just a note from a friend.  These days, we get emails-- mainly texts. Mail is such a thing of the past it seems. But every once in a while, something like this happens.  And it feels like so much more of an event than email or text ever could!

Also, I love that it was just a quick but sweet gesture, that showed me, someone thought of me. 

And lastly- VINTAGE JEWELRY- that in and of itself always, always makes me happy.

Snail mail.  It's a powerful thing. Let's bring it back into our lives a little!

Monday, November 28, 2016

CyberMonday in My Resparkable Etsy Shop

a smattering of vintage jewelry for sale in my shop
This is my first year to participate (as a seller that is!) in CyberMonday.  All purchases made in my Resparkable Vintage shop today will receive a 20% discount.  Just type in coupon code cybermonday2016 when you check out.  It applies to every item for sale in my shop.  I have vintage holiday brooches and bracelets starting at $8 (and that's before you apply the coupon!)-- but I have a LOT more than just holiday items.  Vintage purses, vintage jewelry, and handmade earrings, bracelets and necklaces made with vintage components.  All of my handmade items are one of a kind.  So if you're looking for something unique for someone special, please take a look at my shop.

Have fun and shop 'til you drop!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Music Monday- Bruno Mars FINESSE

I'm ALL OVER the new Bruno Mars CD, 24K Magic, which just dropped on Friday. Like the name implies... It is magic.  24K Magic.

I listened to this song in my car today over, and over and over.  The second it ended, I'd replay it.  Can not get enough of this one.  It's the song I would most like to do a dance routine to.  Except I don't do dance routines.  But I'm considering hiring a choreography team and making a dance video with this one...It makes EVEN ME feel like dancing with a HUGE smile on my face.

He hasn't done an official video for it yet, but I hope it's coming soon.... For now, it's just audio. Enjoy. Happy Music Monday. ❤️


Friday, November 18, 2016

My #1 Fan

Because was traveling, and then I've been sick most of this week, I haven't been doing much music around here lately.  But since I have a little gig tomorrow night, I thought I might want to run through some stuff.  So tonight, I got out my guitar and started singing in my office/studio which is also Lucy's bedroom where we keep her crate. 

Recently, Lucy has developed a fear of her crate. One day, the pillow in her crate flipped over her bowl of food while she was eating, and it startled her.  Ever since that day, she will only go in there (the room and the crate) for food, and even for that, she just sticks her head in, gobbles up the food and then gets the hell out as fast as she can.
Lucy prefers sleeping on Fermin's neck far more than in her crate. ❤️
Ricky doesn't have the same fear.  He's happy to sleep and eat in his crate.  And today, he snuck in Lucy's crate while I was singing.  I heard a little sigh from the corner of the room.  I looked over and saw that he had snuck in for a free concert.  My sweet boy.  And my #1 fan.
my captive audience for the night

Monday, November 7, 2016

From Boulder To Manitou Springs

The last week we spent in Boulder was glorious!  I loved everything about that area and would love to live there.  You know how sometimes, the moment you arrive at a place it just feels right?  That was how I felt about Boulder. 
Doesn't Ricky look like he belongs in Boulder?

We arrived in Manitou Springs late yesterday afternoon.  Due to the time change that just happened, it gets dark early, so we haven't really had a chance to check out the scene yet.  From what I can tell, it's beautiful.  But it's not Boulder.

I took a couple of walks this morning just to get my bearings straight and here are a few notable things I saw...
A house. Not a dispensary.
This house.  They must have a lot of foot traffic---people looking to buy marijuana.  It certainly looks like a dispensary with those green plus signs.  If they don't want customers knocking on their door, they might consider re-painting the house.  It's just confusing.

I was walking with Lucy when I saw this place.  I often call her "Lu" for short.  So although I haven't gone in this place yet, I'm going to later.  Lu Style.  How can that not be a good thing?

We'll be back.
Although I think this is a shop that sells a variety of nuts, it could be someone's home.  In fact, it could be MY home!  I am nuts about nuts. Totally nuts, as a matter of fact! Anyway, I was walking early and it wasn't opened yet, but I'm hoping it will be later this afternoon.
Totally Nuts & Company
We're always happy when we see one of these Little Free Library stands! This was sitting outside of the local elementary school.
Ricky is an avid reader so he insisted I snap his picture at this Free Little Library
I also saw a lot of homeless people.  One had a very mellow Pit Bull with him, and although I'm sure he was sweet, unleashed dogs make me a little nervous.  Ricky got the stare down, but nothing more than that.  The man held his dog by the neck as we passed by, thank you very much.  I did not get a picture, obviously, as we were trying to just get the hell away, and quickly!

I saw a pet adoption place that looked pretty cool based on signage alone.  I always think about all those strays out there that need loving homes. And it's especially sad when you consider pets that have lost their humans and need to find a person to care for them.
Safe Place for Pets

And of course I found the local bead shop.  I always do.  I've mentioned that before, right?  This one looks promising and I'm heading down there soon, now that it's a little later in the day and I'm sure it will opened.  And I won't have a dog (or a husband) with me, so there will be no rushing me out of there.  HELL YES.
FOR SURE I'll be back!
Lastly, I saw this little sign in a shop window. I love that when you're in a small town, people just close up shop when they need to.  I think hip surgery warrants a few days off, don't you?
Get Well Soon
So there's just a glimpse of what I've seen here in Manitou Springs so far.  Very different from Boulder for sure.  But similarly, a lot of sunshine, and beautiful views!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Beads as Momentos

Whenever I am traveling, I'm also on the hunt for any surrounding bead stores. If there are any, I will find them.  Sometimes, I look on Yelp, and get so excited to check out a place, but once I get there I find that it's gone out of business. And it's a huge disappointment. 

That's what happened on our last two vacations. There were no bead shops to be found. (sigh)

Possibly because of that, it took me an entire day here in Boulder before I even thought about looking for a bead shop.  I didn't know if I could handle that kind of disappointment again.

But once I was in my right mind, I Yelp-ed "bead shop"... and the first one listed had already gone out of business.  However, the next one listed, that actually had gotten better reviews anyway, was very close to the house we are staying in... I'm talking I-CAN-WALK-THERE close.  It would seem this would have been mentioned on the VRBO listing as a huge selling point for renting this house, but it wasn't.  Odd.

Yesterday, while Fermin was taking care of some work stuff (work shmork, I say), I knew a great way to kill the next hour. 
NOMAD bead shop in Boulder
Nomad. Where it says on the door, "Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful".

They had a great selection of beads.  I was even able to find some vintage ones! HELL YES. And they carried a color of wire that I have been needing but unable to find in Dallas, or even online, for the longest time.
vintage beads and more!
Soon to come, I'll make a few things with some of these beads, along with some of my vintage findings back at home.  Some of those new pieces might show up in my Resparkable Vintage online shop, and one will most definitely show up around my own neck! And maybe I'll click the heals of my hiking shoes together 3 times and wish I was back in Boulder...

Monday, October 31, 2016

Bolder in Boulder

Neither of my dogs have had much experience with stairs.  Besides going up and down a couple of steps here and there, they've never needed to use stairs.

I have a neighbor that Lucy and Ricky stayed with once when we went out of town.  She has a studio upstairs so she spends a lot of time there.  She told me that although Ricky was able to climb the stairs, Lucy just stayed at the bottom and cried.  She eventually coerced Lucy up the stairs by using cheese, but when it was time to go down the stairs, cheese or no cheese, Lucy refused.  She had to be carried.  So Lucy never went up those stairs, or any others, again.

But now, here we are in Boulder. Staying in a two story house.  With a long stairway to the second floor.
the stairs!!!
And already, Lucy has conquered the stairs.  She's very careful on the descend (which honestly, is smart- Ricky runs down fast and then his feet slide out from under him as he gets to the hardwood floors at the bottom!), but she is gaining more and more confidence every time.  No cheese needed.
I think knowing that the bedroom where we would sleep was upstairs was all the enticement she needed.

Or maybe her confidence came in knowing that hey!, we're in Boulder.  And as the name suggests, it was time to get bolder.

I get it, Lucy!

Just like Lucy and her relationship with stairs, I've never had experience living anywhere other than Dallas.  But I don't want to spend my entire life living there.  I've always imagined myself living in the mountains.  And as we've continued to take road trips up to Colorado, it's become more and more clear that this is the place I had in mind all along.

And so, we're really looking to make a move.  A real move.  Up a long flight of stairs, so to speak.  I'll be as bold and as brave as I need to be to make it all happen.
my brave girl

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Voted

I won't be able to vote on the actual election day (which is actually on November 8th, not Novermber 28th...), so I early voted this week.

I went to my polling place on Tuesday, around 2pm thinking it might be less crowded since it was well after lunch time, and not close too morning or evening commute time.  Still though, even at 2:00, there was a 30 minutes wait. 

That is not a complaint.  In fact, it felt so good to know that there are so many people out there, like me, very willing to take time out of their day to cast their ballot for our next President.  I'm so glad that people are actually getting out there...  Even though some media has reported what a landslide it will be.  Even though someone has said this is a rigged election.  Even though so many people have said they don't want to vote at all this year.  And even though, living in Texas, many people say our vote doesn't count.

There's something that feels very patriotic to stand in line with a bunch of strangers, but fellow Americans, all exercising our right to vote.  We may all have different opinions on how and who will help us achieve it, but we all want the best for the United States.

I believe every vote counts. 
Ricky and I encourage and urge you to VOTE because it matters.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Heart Which Wich

I'm a super picky eater.  It's a pretty serious condition.  It's known as SED (selective eating disorder), or sometimes, you might hear it referred to as APE (adult picky eating). I am not making this up!  I have lived with this condition all of my life.  I didn't actually know it was a condition, until I read about it in a memoir I was reading.  I may not have an extreme case of it, but oh yes... I have it.

Having said that, although I am picky, when I find something I like I really like it.  And when I find a place that caters to my picky needs... I'm a fan for life.

I like a good, relatively plain sandwich.  I have tried all the regular sandwich shops and some of them are okay.  But once I discovered Which Wich, about a year ago, I realized I never needed to go anywhere else again for a quick sandwich.  There's is the best.  The most customized.  They slice the bread extra thin for me.  AND.  Unlike any sandwich shop I've ever been to... They will crumble up a few of their house chips to go in my sandwich. That's all I need.  Not a whole bag of chips.  Just a few, crumbled up.  IN MY SANDWICH.  I am telling you, it's magic.

I go so often that I'm always greeted by name.  I love that.  It's like the fictitious bar, Cheers- "Where everybody knows your name..." but this is real life.
Celebrating my 150th visit to Which Wich.
Today was a big day.  It was my 150th time to eat at Which Wich since I fell in love.  Just to be nice, they gave me a free drink, and Fermin got a free avocado added to his sandwich.  I mean c'mon!!! That's a happy, happy day in my book!
150 visits so far to Which Wich... and many more to come!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Music Monday: Liz Longley

The greatest thing about Monday, is that around here on the blog, I like to post something about the music I'm currently binging on.  And this week, one of musicians I've been listening to a lot is Liz Longley... Particularly her latest CD, Weightless.  It came out months ago, but it wasn't until I heard her playing live at the Kessler Theater here in Dallas that I really fell in love with this batch of songs.
Liz Longley at The Kessler Oct. 18, 2016
Because the CD has a lot of production- a little more than I typically like for a singer/songwriter-, I preferred her live performance even more.  But the CD is great.  Liz has one of the prettiest voices I know of... She a great lyricist and she comes up with some great hooks and her voice is crystal clear and one of my very favorites. 

So today I'm posting the first official video from the Weighless CD, but I highly recommend youtube-ing her and finding some of her live performances as well.  And the more acoustic, the better--- It's that voice of hers you'll want to focus on.  It's breathtaking.

Here's the video of her song called "Swing".

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fear and Excitement

Here's an interesting fact that I hadn't heard or ever thought about until just the other day: Fear and excitement are physiologically the same thing. Your body doesn't know the difference. 

That being the case, it seems that it would serve us all better if we chose to think of ourselves as excited rather than fearful, right?

Let's say you have a speech to give in front of an important audience. You have butterflies in your stomach, and your heart is racing. You could think to yourself, "Whoa. I'm super nervous!",and most likely, your performance would suffer because of it. However, if you instead reframe those feelings to mean, "Wow!  I am so excited about this that my stomach is doing cartwheels!", your approach and the way you connect with the audience is probably going to be a lot more positive.  And fun. For everyone involved.

When I think back to my very first gig, I realize the only reason I was able to follow through with it was because I was able to reframe my fear and recognize it as excitement.

It's sort of a funny story. I was on a cruise with my family. I entered the talent show as a dare from my brother.  He entered it too, and it was just sort of a funny vacation moment that the two of us shared.  But it was also more than that. It made me think, “Hey. That was fun! Maybe I could do that in real life.” 

With butterflies in my stomach, I delivered my cassette recorded audition tape to a restaurant in my hometown just a few weeks after that talent show. I was elated (and a little shocked) that I got booked to play the following weekend.  

Fermin drove me, my guitar, and my tiny little amp to my first Friday evening gig. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot and I saw the crowded outdoor patio packed with people, I panicked.  "Forget it!  Take me home!  Seriously, I can't do this. I'm going to vomit."  I wasn't exaggerating.  My fear was real.  Who did I think I was to get in front of this crowd of people and sing? My body was reacting to all that adrenaline coursing through me and I was nearly convinced that this idea was a huge mistake. We stood in the parking lot as Fermin tried to convince me I could do it, and I wailed on and on that I couldn't. And then we saw a car approaching from a distance.  With his windows down, the driver yelled out, “Kerri Arista ROCKS!"  It was a friend of Fermin's that had come out with his wife to hear me. It was funny and it made me laugh.  And it broke into my fear for just a split second. 

In that split second, I realized it wasn’t just fear I was feeling. I still had the butterflies and I still felt like I might vomit, but I looked at Fermin and said, "Okay, I think I got this. I can do it.  I'm actually kind of excited." 

And I did it.  I played my first gig.  I was scared. But I reframed it into excitement just in time.  And that excitement actually gave me courage. The crowd was in good and appreciative spirits (mostly due to the 3pm happy hour that had started well before my arrival at 6pm!) and was happy to have live music of any kind.  My little amp barely pumped enough sound out for anyone but the first few rows of tables, so it was mainly just a few friends and family that could hear me.  But it was one of the gigs I'm the most proud of because I started out being very scared, but I did it anyway.  And from there, I got booked again.  And then I went on to bigger and better venues.  So many great things happened because of that small start. But if I had let fear stop me, I never would have known how much fun I could have doing it.

So next time you feel fearful- just keep in mind that your body doesn't know the difference between being scared and being excited.  Just tell it...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why It's Okay to Bail on a Book

I'm a book lover. There's nothing that makes me happier than being right in the middle of a book I can't stop thinking about when I'm away from it. Books make my world broader- by the places they take me,the characters they introduce me to, and the topics they make me think about.  My life is richer because of books. I don't know what I would do without them, really. But being a book lover doesn't mean I love all the books that I open.  Sometimes, I begin reading a book with great intentions of liking it, maybe even loving it~ but then, at a certain point, for whatever reason, if I'm not enjoying my time with it, I bail.

I don't abandon every book that doesn't grab my interest from the start.  And I don't have to love everything about a book to read it to completion. I don't have to love the characters.  It doesn't have to be my favorite genre. It doesn't have to be one I "just can't put down". It doesn't have to be a book I'll remember for years. It doesn't even have to be a book I'd recommend to other people.  If I keep wanting to pick up the book and read it, I do.  But if I'm feeling bored or restless with it, I'm out. After years and years of being an avid reader, I realize sometimes abandoning a book I don't like is the best thing I can do to honor my love affair with reading.
It took me years to understand that's it's okay to LET IT GO, when it comes to books. And when I say let it go, I mean:  Put it down, walk away, don't look back, and don't feel guilty for leaving it behind

I don't have a hard and fast rule as to when to abandon a book.   I'll stick for a while, but at a certain point I just know it's time to say, "Nope. You're not for me", and move on to the next one. 

There's too many great books to get hung up on one that bums me out, and slows me down. By abandoning books I don't like, I'm making more time and room for the ones I will like.

I think people that claim "I don't like to read"- (they exist!  I actually know some of them!) just haven't found the right books yet.  Maybe they've let themselves get bogged down by a few books that just weren't for them, and now, they think they don't like reading.

That's why it's okay to bail on a book you're not enjoying. Just let that one go.  But please, pick up another one. It's worth it when you find one you love.

Friday, October 7, 2016

I Remember Her

I downloaded the new Ingrid Michaelson album the other day.  I had actually pre-ordered it, I love her so much.  I know I'm going to love anything she puts out.

As is my bad habit upon first waking in the morning, I grabbed my phone to look at emails and texts that came in since I had gone to bed the night before.  I ignored any and all other messages when I read the email that Ingrid's CD was ready for download. Obviously, that took priority!

Fermin was still asleep beside me, so I was listening to the CD quietly on my phone.  The second this song started, "I Remember Her" I felt emotional.  Almost trembling. I didn't even know the title, or anything about the song. By the time Ingrid sang her chorus... I was crying.  And although I was trying to be quite, I guess my stirring (and sniffling) woke Fermin up.  He asked me what was wrong and I said, "Just - this song...."

He didn't ask me anything about it.  Or interupt my moment.  And that's the best thing he could have done.  I just laid there in bed and listened to the song a few times- thinking of Mom and missing her so much.  I don't often cry over my missing her these days... but occasionally something hits me.  And it HITS me. But I don't mind the deep painful feeling of missing her.  I like knowing that I can still feel that close to her that I miss her so terribly.

It's now been 11 years since Mom died.  Wait.  Let me write that again.  Eleven years.  I can't even wrap my head around that.  I was so worried that time would pass, and I might forget subtle little things about her.  But nope.  Not at all.  I remember her. 

I Remember Her by Ingrid Michaelson

There is a house, that's not on a hill
And the paint's chipping off of the old windowsill
There's a tree in the front yard
That's older than me, and older than all of you
There's a smell that the heat makes
It reminds me of Christmas
And birthdays in December

I remember her, I remember her
I remember her so well
I remember her, I remember her
I remember her so well
But things they fade...

She would kiss my hand, she would kiss my head
And she'd fall asleep with me in my tiny bed
She would sing me lullabies
Gave me my hazel eyes
And then she called me beautiful
She made me beautiful

I remember her, I remember her
I remember her so well
I remember her, I remember her
I remember her so well
But things they fade, things turn to grey
As much as I try to save them they turn to grey
Just like the house that's not on a hill
With all of the rust on the gate,
The chips on the sill
But I love it still

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cooking Up a Storm

The thought of cooking sounds so fun: Put on a some music, have a little drink, cook up something delicious while making the house smell yummy.  And some nights, it works out just like that.  But more often than not, I'm tired, and/or I feel hurried and it just feels stressful. But I may have stumbled upon an idea that can help me solve that problem.

One morning last week, I realized I needed to cook the chicken I had thawed a couple of days before, or it was going to go bad.  But I also knew that we wouldn't be eating at home for the next several nights.  I had just downloaded a new CD (Jonatha Brooke's brand new one, in case you were wondering) so I thought doing a little early morning cooking would be a great excuse to listen to it.  I have a recipe I love- a casserole dish that involves chicken.  I figured I could get everything pre-cooked and prepped, stick it in the freezer, and then cook it for dinner one night the following week.
One thing led to another, and since I was already making a big mess in the kitchen while still in my robe, I went ahead and made two other meals to freeze for later. When I was nearly done,Fermin walked into the kitchen and said, "Oh my gosh, you're cooking lunch?" (I NEVER cook lunch.  I'm very much against that whole idea. I like going out instead-- it breaks up the day nicely.)  I told him I was just cooking some dinners for next week. He said, "Oh, okay.  Well, are you about ready to go to lunch then?"  I had confused him by my morning cooking, and he had confused me by asking if I was ready to go to lunch in the morning.  Until I looked at the clock and realized it wasn't morning anymore.  I had been cooking for hours!  And it was time for lunch! All that chopping and stir frying veggies, grilling chicken, boiling rice, boiling pasta- and listening to the new CD I downloaded had taken up all of my morning.  Time flies when your having fun cooking, jamming out, and making a mess.
I thought I was cleaning as I went, but I'm pretty messy.  :(
I loved having meals this week that were home cooked, but not having to do it in a rush at the end of the day.  On the days I WANTED to cook (which was actually just one day) I did.  Fish. That needs to be fresh and it doesn't require a lot of prep time.  Easy. But on the days I didn't feel like cooking, hello?!?!  Casserole!

This gave me the thought that maybe I'll do a big cooking session once a week, preparing a few meals to have for later.  And that way, I won't have to clean the kitchen as often either! WIN/WIN.

Monday, October 3, 2016

My Brother

My brother.  Fleetwood.  He definitely adds to the happiness in my life.

He's seriously the perfect brother for me.  When we were younger, even though I was the little sister by several years (yep, I'm WAY younger! ;)) he not only let me hang around him and his friends, he actually (sometimes) wanted me to!

We had plenty of rooms in our childhood house for everyone to have their own room, but for a lot of fun years, he and I shared one, just because it was a blast!  I think we feel asleep laughing  most nights for those few years we shared the room.  He still makes me laugh like no one else.  And besides my Mom, and maybe Fermin, I'd say my brother loves me above and beyond... That very rare, unconditionally love.  We can get mad at each other, and get on each other's nerves-- of course!- but I would never, ever question how much he loves me, and vice versa.
Us.  Me, squeezing his face and him, letting me and laughing!
My brother is kind of a big deal.  He'll be annoyed at me for saying this, but it's true.  He was on Shark Tank, and has a really cool custom cruiser bike company called Villy Custom.  Because of all that, he does some public speaking at entrepreneurial events.  He always invites me to tag along because, hey! I'm the little sis, and I think he knows, I'm also his #1 fan.
I have always loved being next to him!
 I LOVE going to anything he's a part of.  I love hearing him speak.  And I love seeing how the audience reacts to him.  Whenever I show up, I'm usually greeted by someone who says, "Oh!  So you're the sister!  Well, hello, Kerr-Bare!"  It's always such a warm welcome, and I know it's because of the way he's mentioned me to them.  And it makes me feel so special.

I got to hear him speak to a small group of young entrepreneurs at SMU this past week. Of course, it was great.  It always is.  And I think every time I've heard him, there is a point when he's speaking that he gets flooded with emotion.  Sometimes, it's when he mentions his dog, Villy.  Sometimes it's when he says something about our Mom.  Sometimes, it's when he talks about some big, meaningful moment on his career trajectory.  He hates it when he gets like that~ sort of choked up, unable to speak for a moment.  But I LOVE it.  Because it's those moments when people get to see who he really is.  People connect with emotion and heart- And he's got that. 

Anyway, I could brag about my brother ad nauseum, but I'm just going to leave it here. He's pretty great.
Fleetwood and his sweet dog, Villy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"Do one thing every day that scares you."- Eleanor Roosevelt

That quote, by Eleanor Roosevelt, inspired the memoir, My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock.  Noelle had just been laid off from her job as an "entertainment blogger", and realized she was needing a lifestyle change.  But she feared change- and so many other things! She then ran across this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt and felt inspired to embark on a yearlong adventure in being courageous.
On her 29th birthday, and for that entire year until she turned 30, she vowed to do one thing each day that scared her.

The author weaved in a lot of fascinating information about Eleanor Roosevelt throughout the book, as well as inspiring quotes from her at the beginning of each chapter. Fortunately, there is a reading list at the back of the book, of recommended books about Eleanor.  I, for one, can't wait to learn more about her after just getting my feet wet with this one.

Beyond all the quotes and stories about Eleanor, Noelle wrote about many of the scary things she did during that year. Some were big time scary, like...
 *shark cage diving
 * attending trapeze school
Others seems on a slightly smaller scale of scary, like:
 *attending a silent retreat
 *calling up old boyfriends and asking what they thought of her
 *shadowing an employee of a funeral home

All of the chapters were pretty interesting and funny, but the ones I liked best were the challenges that weren't on the "death-defying" scale, but instead something just "outside of the box", that helped her learn more about herself.  I loved the chapter about the silent retreat. I SO identified with it.  So many people, like ME, distract themselves from truly being in the moment with things like Instagram and Facebook, and even reading books. Unplugging from all of that and just being silent sounds so hard, and out of the ordinary these days.  Just the thought of trying it myself makes me feel nervous. But it also seems valuable.

There's another chapter when Noelle signs up to compete in a stand up comedy contest. She was so nervous, that she feels ill and considers backing out of it.  But then, she gets up onstage- and she KILLS it!  She said it's just about the happiest she had EVER been! She was proud of herself, and feeling on top of the world, UNTIL the judging results came in. This chapter was a great one about the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves that can sometimes ruin a great moment.

Sometimes it's hard letting go of a book you really loved reading...
For me, this book was so fun to read.  It was funny, thought provoking, interesting, and I now have a new hero in Eleanor Roosevelt.  I can't wait to read more about her, and I am so glad she inspired this interesting, "year with Eleanor" for Noelle Hancock.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Becoming a Better Writer

I love to write.  Or maybe I should say, I love to look back on what I’ve written after I’ve finished it! 

I can compare it to running… I use to run a lot.  (Now a walk instead, but that’s a different blog topic.) I fought with myself daily, pushing myself out of bed to run before the rest of the day got going. The first mile or so sometimes felt torturous. But then several miles and nearly an hour later, I’d be finished with my run. I always felt great afterwards and never regretted taking the time out of my day to devote to all of those miles.

Writing is similar for me. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and actually write. Getting started is usually the hardest part. But once I get into it, I’m into it.  And after I’ve written something, I love reading back over it, knowing that I created something, and said something, that wasn’t there before.  LOVE that.

But like with running, it’s a battle.  Daily.  But on the days that I do it, I just feel better. If I go too many days without doing any writing, things start to feel a little off. So really, WHY is this daily writing habit so to hard for me to implement?!?

Yesterday, I was listening to a Jeff Goins podcast The Portfolio Life, and he was discussing 3 daily habits he thinks are essential for becoming a better writer.  Here they are:
1.     Capture ideas of things to write about. (Do this throughout your day, every day.)
2.     Draft 500 words a day. (Take one of those ideas and turn it into a draft.)
3.     Edit one of your drafts from a previous day.

I love that.  And yes, it sounds simple.  But not easy.

500 words is not a lot.  And neither is the time it would take to write them.  But neither is 5 minutes of daily meditation and I find doing that so challenging as well.  I’ve used apps to help me remember to meditate, and I’ve sporadically done it, but I just haven’t been able to make it a habit.  BUT, maybe that’s because I still have yet to see the benefits for me personally when it comes to mediation.

Writing though, is very important to me and I feel the benefits every time I do it. I am able to clarify the way I feel about things when I write about them. And I know to become a better writer, it’s all about carving out the time to just do it.  

So here it is.  Day 1 of this simple formula to become a better writer.  Simple.  But not easy.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Packing Light

About a month ago, while packing for a vacation, I accidentally left at least half of the clothes that were suppose to be packed in my suitcase on a shelf in my closet instead.  Of course I didn’t realize it until I was there, unpacking my bag.  Fortunately I brought my most important things, and just didn’t have as many duplicates on shirts and pants as I had intended.  Also fortunately, the place we were staying had a washer and dryer.

For a vacation that was a little over a week, I had a pair of leggings, a mini skirt, a pair of pants, 2 long sleeved t-shirts and 3 short sleeved shirts and a warm hoodie.  Normally, I pack a different outfit for each day I’m on vacation. So this was a big change for me.

And as it turns out, it was a good change.  I learned that I LOVE packing light.  I wore every single item of clothing I bought- more than once!  I mainly layered things because I was in Colorado, and the weather was much cooler than I’m used to in Dallas.  I didn’t have to think much about what to wear each day, because there just wasn’t much to choose from.  I did a load of laundry when I ran out of things, and then just wore everything again. When I got home, there weren’t as many clothes to launder and put away as usual and that was yet another bonus.  Also, the clothes I brought on that trip make me think of Colorado-  Now, each time I see my “Life is Good” t-shirt now, it’s not just another t-shirt.  Instead, it’s, “Awww, it’s that t-shirt I wore all the time on the Pagosa Springs trip.”  And I like that!

So when I was packing for my trip to Breckenridge this past week, I packed light again.  I knew we were staying at a house that had a washer and dryer, AND I also knew we weren’t traveling to a 3rd world country.  If there was something I found myself needing, I could always buy it once I was there!

Again, I loved that I only had a few different pieces of clothing to chose from each day. If it was clean and it seemed warm enough (or cool enough, depending on the day’s weather) it went ON.  Everything I brought pretty much matched, so it was like I was back to wearing Garanimals. Remember Garanimals? When I was a kid, it was a clothing line, made for kids, that are ideal to "mix-n-match" because each season, everything they put out matched, more or less. I could get dressed in the dark, and no matter what, it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.

So there it is. This is minimalism that works for me... Packing mix-n-match clothes, and keeping it light... as long as I have access to a washer and dryer!
Because seriously, who cares what clothes someone is wearing when the scene looks like THIS anyway?!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Music Monday: Pure Imagination by Willy Wonka

I'm so sad. This was not what I first intended for today's installment of Music Monday.  But anything else I might have thought about has been superseded by this song, in honor of the brilliant Gene Wilder, who I just learned died today.

People love Gene Wilder for his many great roles, but for me it was Willy Wonka.  Such an interesting character he played, and he played it so well that I've always just sort of thought he really was Willy Wonka.  I've loved that movie, that character, and that man since childhood.

Then I loved him even more, and learned more about Gene after reading Gilda Radnor's memoir, It's Always Something many years ago.  Gilda died from the same horrible disease that my mom did years later~ ovarian cancer.  Gene and Gilda's was a true love story, although tragically short. He once said this about his life after meeting Gilda, "My life went from black-white to Technicolor."

I'm holding my breath, making a wish, and counting to three...knowing Gilda is welcoming Gene up into the heavens today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Have Never...

I pride myself on a few things I have never done.  It's just weird stuff, unimportant things, but for whatever reason, people seem a little shocked when they learn some of the things on my "I have never" list.

Most noteably:
I have never eaten a McDonald's hamburger.  I could even go so far as to say, "I've never eaten anything from McDonald's", but I feel like I might have eaten a fry or two from a kid I once babysat who was always eating Happy Meals.  I'm not really sure that's true, but it seems within the realm of possibility.  But FOR SURE, I've never eaten a McDonald's hamburger.  Growing up, my family rarely, if ever, ate fast food.  That's not to say we were super healthy eaters or anything, it's just I liked my Kraft mac and cheese made at home by Mom.  And my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too.  Who needed fast food?

I've just never been a consumer of fast food in general.  Why do I want to get or eat my food so fast anyway? And why in the world would I want to go through a drive through or eat in the car? I'm a big believer in sitting down for a meal and taking my time.  So no McDonald's hamburger has ever touched my lips, and never will.  I can make that vow without any trepidation.

cute graphic!
Up until yesterday, although probably not as newsworthy, but still worth noting... I had never eaten anything from Chick fil A.  Nor did I even know how to spell it... I made a reference to my big adventure in going yesterday and texted a friend, telling her I had finally eaten at "Chick Filet." 

Anyway, for years, I've noticed big lines at the drive through of Chick fil A and always wondered, "What's this all about, Alfie?!" Also, I've seen those cute billboards with the cows over the years, and I do like those... so....
actually, it isn't- but i like this cow and want to support his cause!

My friend, Kathy, found out I had never eaten there and told me I might actually like it.  She knows me and my picky eating habits well, so I decided to give it a go last night for the big meal to be eaten during our weekly viewing of "Bachelor in Paradise"- Hey, junk food and junk tv sound like they would go together well!

I had heard people talk about the waffle fries- "Oh!! Get the waffle fries!"- I know what waffle fries are, people.  But okay, maybe Chick fil A's are especially delicious.  So I ordered waffle fries, obviously, and a few chicken tenders, as advised by Kathy.

We took our bag home and I warmed all of it up in the oven because I wanted to experience it all in it's best form... which I would assume is HOT.
fresh out of the oven, but back in boxes for the photo op
So, do I feel like all these years I've been missing out on the Fast Food Nation thing by not going to Chick fil A? Nope. Not at all.  No regrets.

I DO NOT get the love people almost obsessively have for Chick fil A. (Other than the cute commercials.)  The waffle fries don't even compare to the sweet potato waffle fries at GRUB here in Dallas. Mine didn't have barely any flavor, and were a little soggy. And the chicken tenders weren't that great either- They weren't crispy and there was nothing special about them at all.  Kathy told me they would be better if they had been fresh, and that some days are better than others- and I totally get that and am sure it's true.  But honestly, if it's hit or miss, I'm not trying again.

So although I can no longer say, "I've never been to Chick fil A", I can now say, "I ate there once, and only once." AND I will continue to uphold the "I have never eaten a McDonald hamburger" promise.