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.