Friday, September 28, 2012

It's been 5 years

5 years ago today I was sitting by a pool in Houston celebrating with friends who were getting married the next day. Most of us had a friend in common and his name was Spencer. Spencer had been battling cancer on and off for several years. He was full of life despite the fact that his body had taken a beating from surgeries and treatments and cancer just being a real big jerk to him. I only knew Spencer after his first round with cancer. I only knew him as the bald, skinny, older guy who told good jokes and wore Adidas soccer shoes nearly every day with jeans and t-shirt and walked with the slightest limp. We had several meaningful conversations and times together. He started writing songs and playing music and a lot of my memories of him involve music. I wasn’t especially close to Spencer, but I always felt very connected to him in a strange way. I still feel connected to him and it’s especially amplified today on the anniversary of his passing. I want to share some of my favorite memories of him today in an effort to remember him and continue the celebration of his life.

- Numerous “candle nights” in the game room, especially the night he shared a lot about his struggle with cancer and how it had impacted his life and changed him for the better.

- Numerous SGA retreats and events

- I remember one afternoon in the SGA office, he asked if he could play me a song he was working on for a friend. His friend had asked him to write a song and play it for his girlfriend when he proposed. The song is called “My Dear.” We went into his office and he closed the door and played and sang to me. I sat with teary eyes and a smile as he shared words that he longed to be able to say someday to a girl of his own. He asked my opinion and I gave it and we had a good conversation about girls and relationships and marriage. Later that year I asked if he would play in my wedding and if I could use “My Dear” as part of our ceremony. He grinned and agreed. And when the cancer came back with an angry fist that Spring, he sent me “My Dear” and a gift card and said, “Sorry I can’t be there in person, but I’ll be there in spirit. Thank you for believing in me and my music. ”

-His “fake” obsession with Chuck Norris and the karate moves that were displayed on a regular basis with Brack.

-The Living Room tour

-Taking a break from camp and hearing SLG play at the Spider House in Austin, Tx. He spent that summer playing a ton of shows.

-Senior year, the special meeting called where Spencer told us the cancer was back and he would be leaving school. I remember him telling us he had hope and was at peace. He asked me to lead us in his favorite hymn, “It is well with my soul.” That hymn has carried a heavy significance ever since.

-Teaching my “little brother/sister” all the words to his song “Crispitos.” To this day, we still sing it at the top of our lungs when we’re in my car.

-The many voices and characters of Spencer. He had no shame when it came to impersonations and making fun of people.

-His belief. He believed in the power of music and story. He believed in Camp Olympia and the work they were doing with young people. He believed in God and what He was doing in his life….even through his dark journey with cancer and his days of doubt.

-His memorial service. That may sound morbid, but the church was packed with people there to celebrate him. So many wonderful stories and photos and videos were shared. We laughed and smiled and enjoyed ourselves. The most moving part for me was the close of the service. It was a time of reflection and we all had our heads bowed. Through the quiet, we heard the sound of bagpipes start outside. It grew louder and they came inside playing “Amazing Grace.” The player weaved through the sanctuary and the hallways haunting us with the melody and forcing us to recall the words. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.

I’m overwhelmed today recalling the small percent of the Spencer I knew and his part in the story of my life. I’m reminded of his grateful heart for life and the urgency to live it. I’m reminded of his thankfulness for grace and its abundance in his life. I’m reminded of his strong voice and the restlessness he felt to share his story through music. And I’m reminded to enjoy every sandwich, to lean into the wind, to hear the call of wilder things, and to know who holds tomorrow and that it’s never me.

Rest in peace, my friend.

(For those that read this and knew Spencer, feel free to leave your favorite memories in the comments. I'd love to hear yours.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012


If you have the chance to see this movie, you should take it. At least watch the trailer. You'll laugh. The movie is great and funny and actually very raw and real. All things I appreciate if I'm going to spend my free time in a movie theatre.

If you won't do that, then you should at least listen to Mike Birbiglia on The Moth or This American Life. He's a really funny guy. Some people call those kinds of people comedians. Go figure.

That's all. Happy weekend. After I finish this 12 page paper about psychoanalytic theory, I've got a post for you about social media and technology and conversation. You're going to love it. (Or hate it.)


Thursday, September 20, 2012

things i love right now:

these boys' album.

these boys' video of their newest single shot live at Red Rocks. (*ps: i want to go to there.)

these podcasts:
On Being
The Splendid Table
The Moth
Wait Wait...

weather for these types of clothes:

this book: 

and yearly traditions with friends: 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


"It's when you can feel your opponent's pain that you're beginning the path that leads to reconciliation." -Lord Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain

(Wonderful podcast interview here: I like to listen to the unedited interview first.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Intentions: September Grades

It's time for a report card on my new year intentions! I know you're on the edge of your seat.

PEACE: Goodness. This has been a wonderful challenge. I guess I didn't realize how many things I hang on to until I challenged myself to let things go. I give myself a B-. I've made major improvements in this area, but there is still plenty of room for more.

QUIET: This has probably been my favorite thing to be intentional about. I've been eating breakfast or dinner on my patio, doing homework out there and allowing the soundtrack to be birds and crickets and traffic and the wind whispering through the trees. The second most popular quiet spot is my car. I've been spending more time with the windows down, more time clearing my brain instead of filling my ears. B+

PLAY: I have tried to really push myself to participate in life regardless of my situation. If I want to go to a movie and can't find someone to go, I go by myself. If I want to eat dinner out and can't find a pal to meet me, I go anyway. If I want to go fly a kite at the lake, I do it. If I want to have a dance party, I do it. If I want to go to a concert, I buy 2 tickets and figure it out later.  A-

FOLLOW THRU: Not to brag, but this has maybe been the most consistent time in my life and I'm really proud that I've managed to not over-commit myself. I've cut my running late down to about 5 minutes and to my knowledge have kept all my promises. A!

RISK: I'm doing it. I've been putting myself out there. That includes making new friends and going on 2 dates with strangers. B+

CHALLENGE: I think there's been plenty of this happening throughout the entire year. I'm listening to podcasts and reading articles that challenge my opinions and beliefs. I'm going to harder yoga classes that force me to try new things. I'm learning new things at my job. I'm in school and making straight A's (HELLO 4.0!) and am constantly challenged with juggling all my responsibilities and friends and leaving time for myself. A-

MOVE: I feel confident that I'm continuing to move forward, continuing to work on myself and be better, and continuing to heal. A-

RESPOND: This will never not be hard. But I'm learning to acknowledge my initial reactions, sit on them, breathe, and respond when I feel clear about things. Currently holding steady with a B.

CONSISTENCY: I'm doing okay. I'm getting there. My driving self still needs to get it together and be nice. I'll give it a good long look and settle on a C.

HONESTY: Is it jerky of me to say I feel like I'm dominating this? In a nice way? A-.

INVEST: I've invested in a lot of new experiences and with new friends. I'm working on investing my time better. Hmmm. B-?

GIVE: Gosh. In the practice of honesty, I kind of wish I hadn't put this on here. Do any of you realize how challenging it can be to be generous? Especially when it comes to grace or forgiveness? Yikes. C-.

PRESENT: This has evolved throughout the year. I've had more and more days in the recent past that haven't included a status update. And I like that. I reached the tipping point with FB and while I haven't deactivated my account, I have deleted the app off my phone and it's been a game-changer. I've hardly looked at it in the last 2 weeks. It feels great. The biggest area I need to improve on is being present, even and especially when I feel bored. It is way too easy to pick up my phone and check Twitter or Instagram or blogs or whatever. I want to stop sending the message, "I wish I wasn't here right now." B-

REMEMBER: I've been struck this year with how easy it is to forget and how hard it is to remember. I've enjoyed jogging my memory, writing, reading old writing, and taking and looking through pictures. B+

DANCE: Easiest intention ever. A+. Happens every day in my cubicle, in my car, in my house, on my deck. Heck, it happens at Target and Whole Foods just as often.

It looks like I'm averaging a solid B right now. I'm happy with that. I hope you're still working on your intentions. There is still time, my friends.


"Oh, rain. Come wash me and keep me and take me away."

- Trampled By Turtles, "Widower's Heart."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thanks for the Article, Anne.

I'm going to link to an article you need to read. And I want to say up front that I found this article because someone I follow on twitter that I think is hilarious posted the link earlier today and mentioned Anne Lamott. I clicked on the link because I like Anne Lamott. And I was disappointed that it took me to Oprah's website. I don't love Oprah. I think she's done a lot of good for people, for women, for children in Africa, but I also wonder why she won't marry her long-time live-in boyfriend, and why she wears fake eyelashes, and why she's building her own kingdom of things that don't matter. But whatever. Not the point. She likes Anne Lamott so we've got that in common.

The article is brilliant.  It's called, "How To Find Out Who You Really Are." In case you don't trust me or are too lazy to read the whole thing, here are some excerpts:

"You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think your way into becoming yourself."

"Every single day I try to figure out something I no longer agree to do. You get to change your mind—your parents may have accidentally forgotten to mention this to you."

"You can say no. No is a complete sentence."

"... You are probably going to have to deal with whatever fugitive anger still needs to be examined—it may not look like anger; it may look like compulsive dieting or bingeing or exercising or shopping. But you must find a path and a person to help you deal with that anger. It will not be a Hallmark card. It is not the yellow brick road, with lovely trees on both sides, constant sunshine, birdsong, friends. It is going to be unbelievably hard some days—like the rawness of birth..."

"Wherever the great dilemma exists is where the great growth is, too."

See what I mean?! She gets it. And I needed to be reminded of a lot of what she is saying. 
I've had some great conversations in the last few days with my patio people. My patio people are 3 stellar ladies I get to call my friends and we eat outside once a month and laugh loudly and share deeply and love completely. And they are also very brilliant. Monday night, we had a nice long 3 hour conversation that ended up with us all wanting to be better people. To be really connected to those around us. To stop participating in things that don't matter. To try new things. To reclaim some things and make them sacred again. I'm going to write more about that later. It deserves a whole separate post. 

But I love what Anne is saying. I want to make more mistakes. I want to disagree with myself. I want to say "no" as a complete sentence. And I want to examine my fugitive anger. I want to constantly be redefining who I am and who I'm not. I mean that in the same way that people used to put flour through a sifter to make it better. 
I hope you find some comfort in Anne's words. And I hope you too will work on finding out who you really are.  

Here's to the hard work ahead. Cheers. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

an open letter to fall

Hey Fall, (to be read with "Hey Girl" inflection)

I just wanted to say thanks for showing up this morning with your 59 degree self and staying a while. As you know it's been another record breaking summer and morale has been low what with all the West Nile and E-coli and Chik-Fil-A scandals. Oh and hurricanes and rising oceans and earthquakes.

I'm not mad at summer, I just think they've taken more than their turn when it comes to the seasons, you know? We all know if somebody hogs more than their time then someone else has to pay for it and let's be honest; it's usually you or Spring. You guys get so shafted. On behalf of the other seasons and Momma Nature, I'm real sorry about that. Just know that I'm always pulling for. If you ever need a place to stay and linger, my house has extra bedrooms and you're welcome to crash anytime.

But seriously. I feel you this morning. That's why I'm out here on the deck, eating cookies and toasting to you, Fall. Thanks for giving us hope that you do exist, that you are coming, and that even though you bring with you lots of annoying football fans, you also bring pumpkin everything and Patty Griffin concerts, and long-awaited new albums, and Thanksgiving.

Love you. Mean it. xoxo,


Monday, September 3, 2012



I had a few friends over today for brunch on my deck in honor of it being Labor Day. I love brunch. It is one of the greatest inventions ever.  (Yes, I totally googled who invented brunch.) You get to sleep in and still eat breakfast food! (This is of course trumped by breakfast-for-dinner.) Unfortunately sleeping in is now classified as 7:30am. Regardless, this morning was very relaxing. There is something methodical to me about making food for people. Probably because there are usually rules and steps to follow and I love that. It's also enjoyable because I don't do it much anymore. It's hard to make a meal for a party of 1, you feel me?

The truth is, it could've been any meal and I would've enjoyed it. I love food. I love eating. I love sharing an open table with friends. (Bonus: eating outside!) The entire experience is something that's really special to me no matter how many times I do it. I firmly believe that life happens in the moments between our bites and laughs and stories and songs. Yum.

Here's to eating more brunch, cooking for others, and holidays.

Bon Appetit, my friends.

PS: I want to go to every one of these parties. They totally get ambiance. And I bet the food they're eating is incredible. Sigh.

PSS: If I ever was to open a restaurant, I would name it Ambiance. Copywrite: me, circa 2012.