So long, Farewell... 2013

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This is the New Years "card" I never got around to sending because all of the pictures were outtakes. They always are, aren't they? And then you're like, OH, GOT IT, that's kind of the point. Life is a posed portrait we all "fail" at because we're not supposed to pose.
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Tonight, we'll be ringing in the New Year watching Sound of Music for the 787987981th time. The kids will stay up way too late and Hal and I will wake up constipated from eating too much cheese and even though nothing will have changed come tomorrow, everything that wants to will feel like it can. And all of that hope will mean something because it has to. It's too beautiful a thing not to dance with, Julie Andrews style, across the hills.

Our arms are open, 2014. Let's do this thing. 
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Thank you for your support and kindness in 2013. May the new year bring you endless magic, abundant joy and a sane amount of crazy. Love and light to all... 
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First time on my computer in a week. It's been a nice (and extremely therapeutic) break. (More soon on all of the things that have been bubbling up in my head these past few days. The end of the year is ripe with thoughts and their ambitions, but also a sort of quiet that tells. To unplug is to realize the importance of the mulling and the sitting and the stirring, instead of, you know, trying to set fireworks into a sky exploding with more fireworks, surrounded by more fireworks and hands that have been blown off in the process of trying to set fireworks on top of the other fireworks, baby you're a firework.)
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We spent the week at my parents' house with my brother and sister and future sister-in-law who were in town, and Hal who had to keep driving back and forth because of work it's all about the Benjamins, baby. The weather was heatwave central so we spent the majority of our time at the beach with rolled jeans and squinty eyes as the kids Bo bombed sand hills on her boogie board and Revi and Fable played tag with the waves.
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More soon. In the meantime, here's a lovely little jam that sounds kind of like the sea.

188. Wild Tigers I Have Known by: Emily Jane White

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Hope everyone had a merry and magical week. May it continue... 


"She did it."



Hope you're having a wonderful holiday break with your people. Love and light!


Diana Nyad and "The Other Shore"

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” - Joseph Campbell 
When I first read about Diana Nyad's great swim from Cuba to Florida I thought, "Wow. Epic feat, sister. Nice work." And then I moved on. It wasn't something that struck me as anything more than a blip, a trending topic, a feminist battle cry from which everyone could extend virtual  high fives... 

Not that I wasn't in awe because I was. I guess I just got caught up in not wanting to get caught up in a commentary that so often becomes bigger than the thing itself. 

Join the chorus or walk out of the chapel. 

I walked out of the chapel. 

Diana Nyad was 64 years old when she swam 110 miles, cage free, in open water, after four failed attempts. (Although I wouldn't call them failed attempts, sheesh.) I knew the facts before seeing the doc, but I didn't know Diana's story. I didn't know about her childhood, the abuse from both her father and her coach, men who were supposed to guide her, protect her, take care of her. Men who instead abused and took advantage of her...

Swimming was safe. The pool was a refuge so she surrounded herself with water. She was safe with the sharks and the jellyfish and the songs she played in her head as she paddled, left arm in front of right. 
Diana's jellyfish scars, photo by Catherine Opie

At thirty years old she attempted her dream: to swim from Cuba to Florida.  The attempt "failed" so she retired. She climbed out of the sea and into a life of sportscasting and journalism. 

Diana hadn't trained in three decades when she got back in the pool. And that is where The Other Shore begins. 

One day she woke up and felt the weight of an incomplete life. It was that simple. Something was missing. To hell with lost time.  Because sometimes the only way to get rid of the haunting is to strap yourself to the ghost. So she rallied together a group of men and women who believed in her in the same way she believed in herself, coaches and doctors, navigators and scientists.  Together they would do something extraordinary. 

They were her guards and her guides, her protectors and caretakers. She would put her life, her dreams, in their hands. 

When I sat down to watch The Other Shore, I did not know what to expect. Not from the film or from Diana, who was scheduled to speak afterward.

I didn't recognize her as she crossed the street in front of the car I was driving into the parking structure. 


As I drove.

This is my body, she said with her life. 

This is my body, she said with her drive.

This is my body she said as, again and again, she leapt into the ocean, to fail, to fail, to fail. To risk, to risk, to risk.

This is my body and I'm here to move it forward. 

Diana's is a story of rebirth. It's a story of strength in every aspect of the word, a battle of will, a slap in the face of the demons and all things that hold humans back from reaching our full potential. This was a true hero's journey. 

In the words of Joseph Campbell, (who I already quoted but it's impossible not to, given Diana's story) “Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.” 

And that's what Diana did.
via OWN

That's what every hero in every story, true and fictional, has done. And to be heroes in our own lives and across our own oceans, we must do the same. We must dig beneath the very roots that trip us up and start mining. 

Diana Nyad's story is an extraordinary one in that her OTHER shore is a literal one. Her swim through shark and jellyfish infested waters was actual. But we ALL have our OTHER shore. We're all in the water swimming, cage-free if we can, and in a perfect world, we are surrounded by people who love and believe that we can do this thing. We can make this journey. 

Nyad's journey was as biblical as Daniel in the Lion's Den or David and Goliath. And being in her presence was like standing with PERSEVERANCE in its human form. It just so happens that perseverance is a 64 year old woman named Diana. (And hell yeah, it is.)

I recorded part of her talk and edited together the parts that especially struck me. The sound isn't great and apparently I was panting while watching because my breath is all HEH HEH HEH, but I wanted to share it because there is so much in here. So much to think about and remember and tuck away into our psyches as a reminder to BE ALIVE and FIND A WAY. To open our hearts like we do our eyes and mouths and ears. To take what ails us and spin it into the very thing that makes us strong. To get off our cell phones (self owns?) and back into our lives where we can write with unlimited characters and live limitlessly in this limited life. 


Ice Cream Truckplayhouse (and giveaway!)

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Oh, hey. This is an awesome thing. It's a cardboard Ice Cream truck by OTO that took us three minutes to assemble and the kids have spent the last week buying and selling ice cream, plastic fruit, cardboard boxes, train tracks and pretty much everything in our house, from within its cardboard automotive walls.
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My favorite part? You can personalize a license plate and print it out. We went with the obvious choice:
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I love these because you can fold them up and put them in a closet somewhere and they're not plastic. Also, they're adorable and make my kids happy and pumped. Go team.
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Today, thanks to OTO, I have one ice cream truck up for grabs. (You can also shop OTO and receive 10% your purchase with code GGCXMAS.)  To win*? Tell me what you ordered from the Ice Cream Man/Woman when you were a kid. (I feel like everyone kind of had a go-to, yes? Mine = Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar. Fun Dip on the side, baby what's up.)
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photo 2 copy *for US residents only on this one. Sorry about that, non-US resident friends!

updated with winner: congrats, Stef!


Eat Well: Holiday Faves Edition

IMG_2803 I love this picture because WWW's mullet

Christmas is right around the corner in case you didn't notice so I'm posting a list of my all-time top five holiday recipes that my mom (and brother) bust on out this time of year. (Click photos for recipes.)


How about you guys? Favorite holiday dishes? Recipes? Go-tos this time of year?


House of Cards

The following post is brought to you by Discover it. 
Last year something dreadful happened. Dreadful as far as credit is concerned which, unfortunately, becomes dreadful everywhere when you're trying to refinance your mortgage. Mediocre credit bleeds all over your wallet and your purse and the dress you're wearing except you can't just scrap everything and start over, you have to clean the stains and scrub the wallet and try to make due with a blob shaped stain on your collar for way longer than seems fair.

I'll back up...

First off, my credit has always been solid. Well, hold on... that's not true. It took many years to even establish credit because I didn't go to college and not going to college means (in my experience anyway) that the only way to establish credit is to PAY for one of those super high interest cards which I did at age eighteen except I didn't understand what "high interest" meant so I bought super fancy presents for boyfriends and was like "charge it, yeah, YOLO!" (A Fender Telecaster ended up costing THOUSANDS of dollars because I was a complete idiot and didn't understand what 39% interest meant. Ouch.)

Anyway, I had a couple high interest cards that, after years of wasting money on interest, helped me establish enough credit to rent an apartment without a cosign and, finally, buy a car.

After, consolidating finances with Hal, we (eventually) were able to pay off the high interest cards. From there, I put them in a drawer never to use them again.

Except one of those cards had an annual charge. And that card was filed under an old address and an even older email address and because the card was paid off,  I assumed that was that.

Six months of delinquent charges and emails to my old email and letters to my old address and phone calls from a blocked number (which I never USED TO answer) I finally picked up the phone. 

Too late.

My credit score had dropped 100 points.

From a $19.99 charge.

On a card issued to me in 2000.

I cried.

A lot.

We paid off the $20 charge, closed the card FOR GOOD AND FOREVER, paid off the late fees and begged the credit company to see that we were good credit card payer-offers and this was merely a miscommunication.

"Too late. It's already been filed... Nothing we can do. You are the weakest link, goodbye."

My credit went from pristine to mediocre like (snap!) that.

"Just start rebuilding," our broker told us.

So that is what we did.

Our two credit cards became six credit cards. We opened up cards at the stores we shopped at most and paid off every cent of every card within weeks of purchasing. We are STILL doing this, btw, because my credit, although climbing isn't exactly where we want it to be for our refi. 

And now? We wait. We keep super good tabs on what is being spent and what is being paid off and soon enough, we'll be back in the saddle.

2013 has been a trying year financially and without boring you with particulars, the most frustrating/lesson-learned-got-it-now-thanks-life part of the whole shebang has been this credit card business. Because it really is a house of cards, this adult life. In order to rent an apartment or lease a car or buy a house or start a business or refinance a mortgage or, you know, pay the bills when jobs are scarce and cash is not an option (Been there. Many times.) we must be reasonable. And responsible. We must remember to update and answer phones and keep track of what is happening where and with what and ugh, being an adult is kind of a bummer, don't you think?

(It's kind of a bummer.)

I digress. Repairing my credit has been a HUGE pain in the bottom.

And now I will end this post, welcoming 2014 with optimistic (and more financially stable) arms.
IMG_1009 Namaste.



Give to Receive: Nkoaranga Orphanage

Two years ago, we raised enough money to send four children to school for an entire year and employ a "mama" at the Nkoraranga Orphanage in Tanzania.
Mama Pendo Mama Pendo, baby cuddler. 
This year on behalf of Bekka (who runs the orphanage and is an amazing woman and mama) and The Small Things, I'm asking for your help once again. Let's send Isaak, Queen and Auntie to school in 2014! And while we're at it? Let's help The Small Things reach their Give to Receive goal! (You can read more about the fundraiser, here, learn more about the kids and Nkoaranga here.)
auntie Auntie, age five - waiting for school sponsorship
Queen and lulu Queen, age 5 holding baby Lulu (both need sponsorship) 
Isaak Isaak, age 6 (Auntie's brother) awaiting school sponsorship

In The Small Things words:

As always, we have a group of children who need sponsorship to start school in January – we call this Project Education. They are our first priority – Loveness, Pray and Anna are already sponsored, but Queen, Isaak and Auntie still need your help... If they can get sponsors, they will be starting at a fantastic local school called Amani (Peace) Academy, which has ranked highest in the region on national tests for the last several years, and in fact ranked within the top 25 schools in all of Tanzania! Unlike in prior years, however, they won't be going as boarders – they will instead be cared for in a family-style pilot house, run on the same model we plan to use in the children's village, with 6 children and a set of volunteers and mamas working together to create a happy, healthy environment that is as close to a family structure as possible. In the long term, our goal is to have all of the orphanage children living in similar houses in our children's village.

This year, we are also trying to find sponsors for all of the orphanage children... As each child gets a sponsor, we will add their ornament to the tree, so you can see the progress we are making. Let's fill it up!

Alright, guys. Let's do this! Click here to donate. You can also support the children of Nkoaranga Orphanage by donating items for their February auction benefiting Nkoaranga as well as the many vulnerable children in surrounding communities. Thank you in advance for your generosity and a beautiful day to all.