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Years ago, when my kids were just tiny specs of what they are now, a best friend of mine would drive from her house, nearly an hour away, just to cook dinner for me.

 

At least once a week.

 

She invited herself of course, as all good friends do. In my state, it never would have entered my mind to entice another person into my varying vortex. When it began, I had only a single child. The task was fairly uncomplicated at that point, but even when the total of tots quickly rose to three, she, somehow, was not deterred.

 

She would arrive to screaming babies, scattered Cheerios and mounds of laundry piled in the hallway. There would often be a sink full of dirty dishes, a forgotten diaper gracing the table or me, crying in a corner.

 

But, week after week, in the door she’d burst with an arm full of groceries and a funny story to tell. Out would come the pots and pans and commence would the chopping, slicing, stirring and simmering.

 

My husband was traveling a lot then and with three children under five, her visits meant the world to me. Raising kids—being housebound for long days on end—can be very isolating and as decadent smells, (these being anything non-urine or spit-up related) started to permeate the air, I’d often reflect on how having someone go to the magnitude of shopping, commuting and cooking for me was much like a good dose of vigorous CPR.

 

She didn’t have any children at that time and I wish I could say that now that she has had two of her own, I’ve been as worthy a friend as she. I’d always intended to return the favor, but as it turns out, tiny tots transform into taxing teens and there is somehow even less time now than there was all those years ago.

 

Over the days, weeks, months and years that this went on, we, okay she, concocted many recipes that the two of us shared a love for. One of these favorites was fresh Crab Cakes with, made from scratch, Chipotle Sauce.

 

And I’ll tell you, having it made for you when your children are five, three and zero is truly wonderful, but returning home to find a serving of it in your mailbox when they’re eighteen, fifteen and fourteen is a true lump-in-the-throat moment.

Because sauce is my favorite

Because sauce is my favorite

 

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We know that amateurs wait for inspiration. It’s only the salty sailors who sail in still air, trusting intuition and determination will keep them moving. And it’s because of this that they are the ones who will collect the skylines and scores, the sights and successes, while the others sit in wait, stagnating and stale.

 

I’ve been an amateur as of late. No time. No spunk to hunt for treasure. No snap for anything but my own sorrows and slumps.

 

Then the strangest thing happened. Putting the sheets back on the bed is not one of my most favorite tasks, so to make it slightly less painless, I play mind-numbing T.V. while hoisting my five hundred pound mattress up chest-high so I’m able to wrap the fitted sheet snugly around the base—assurance that I will only have to perform this incredible feat once until the next wash.

 

This day, the mind-numbing T.V. of choice happened to be a Katy Perry documentary called Part of Me. Katy’s music, although catchy and quirky has never been on my A-list, but as I heaved and huffed, the show began to seep its way into my awareness.

After all, it resonated with me on several levels. You may know I’m a Make-up Artist by trade and I admit to a degree of fangirlyness when it comes to celeb styling and Katy’s make-up is always impeccable. So, for me to learn that she plucked her Make-up Artist, Todd Delano, out of retail obscurity…well, it tweaked a heartstring.

katy-perry-0

 

And, she’s a Writer. Much of her material leaks hot off the pages of her personal diary—raw thoughts and emotion slowly simmered into song. I related to her strict upbringing and her struggles with money. Her passion to create and her desire to become what she’d always dreamed of being. I admired her capacity to think outside most everything she’d been taught since a young age, her talent at turning those things inside out and her ability to maintain her relationship with her family despite this turn of their truths.

 

No, Katy Perry’s music may not have been on my A-list, but her rite of passage now is.

 

We are capable of relating to anything. Compassion and understanding are components of our genetic make-up. Sadly, some of us bury them, but in the beginning, there they were. We were born with them. Whether you’re waiting for inspiration or it simply rings the bell while you’re doing the laundry, stop and let it in. Sometimes we just need to sit down and go beyond the cover to actually read the story inside.

 

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We bought a new car. It wasn’t slated into our immediate financial plan, but when awarded squat for my husband’s mashed up write-off and a whopping $5000 repair estimate for our 11 year old van (lovingly known as the Silver Bucket) we were left with little choice.

 

Despite the sharp snap of our purse strings, I’m thankful for this new vehicle. It makes me feel safe and relaxed. When I’m driving it, I am patient and peaceful. There’s just something about it.

 

I didn’t know what it was at first.

 

There is the obvious. I mean, I’m not driving the Silver Bucket anymore. That’s a plus. There’s no need to fret about it breaking down while on the road or worse, losing steer-power on the freeway and me, subsequently crashing to my untimely death in a cringe-worthy caravan. Insult to injury.

 

All jokes aside though, that van has been good to us. We’ve owned it for quite some time, payment and almost maintenance-free. It has reliably delivered our children from A to B on countless occasions and hauled 4000 pounds over long, dry roads and rocky terrain. It kept going when the going was tough. Just for us. And it’s appreciated.

 

But it took me a while to get it.

 

It‘s not just the obvious. There is a certain straightforwardness to our new ride. An ease to hopping in, turning it on and getting where we need to be. No sense in entertaining the what if’s. No need to confuse cares with concern over complications.

 

Put simply; simple is nice.

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In between being me and struggling to become who I think I should be, I also get to be someone else.

 

At 25 I was thankful to finally discern I didn’t have to do things I didn’t want to do—things like work with numbers, play bitchy office games, scrub someone else’s toilets or eat my carrots cooked. I realized I could take something I’d loved to do as a child and turn it into a big girl career.

 

I trained to be an Aesthetician. I took an intensive, full-time course and for the duration of a year, I did nothing but homework and performed thousands of services on hundreds of clients and my fellow students. Contrary to my mindset prior to diving into the adventures of beauty school, it was a long and challenging haul.

 

Surprise, surprise, there was much to learn for the sake of vanity. I memorized the names of every bone, muscle, nerve, organ and system in the human body and their functions. I explored nucleic cells and biochem.

 

I studied.

 

Hard.

 

Every single night.

 

Never having had an affinity for school, I was pleased to graduate at the top of my class and more than proud to receive my 5 diplomas. But, after some time working in the industry and a stint of dabbling in my own endeavor, I realized I had managed to somehow still be doing something I didn’t want to do.

 

Shoot.

 

I hung on for as long as I could, but in the end, had to succumb to the fact that electrifying unwanted hair from areas I shouldn’t see unless I’d at least been bought a dinner made me cringe and scraping dead, flaky skin from the soles of needy feet was not, in fact, the glamorous profession I had dreamed it to be.

 

So, I sidestepped.

 

These days, and that encompasses the last nineteen years, I focus solely on the make-up aspect of the beauty industry. I get to float around on TV sets, wedding days, runways and photo shoots.

 

And, it is in fact, glamorous, and something I still want to do after all this time.

You can check out Jennifer’s many stunning shots over at COFFEE & COUCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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fresh-faced beauty…

Hazy Shades of Me:

Oh looky what I got to do on Valentine’s Day. Thank you to my friend and fab foto-grapher, Jennifer Findlay from Coffee & Couch!

Originally posted on coffee & couch:

EMILY 3_FACEBOOK

It’s Sunday, and I get to sit on my couch with my coffee and my laptop doing my favorite thing ever–editing photos! The photo shoot was so much fun yesterday. The models, my daughter Jane and my niece Emily, were spectacular and my makeup artist is a genius (Not to mention that she’s one of my dearest friends, and a very talented writer. Check out her blog…Hazy Shades of Me). Every time I download my camera’s memory card, it’s just like Forrest Gump says, opening a box of chocolates to see what treats are inside!

In case you’re wondering, I used my Nikon 35mm F1.8 lens for this shot.

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You will eventually have had enough of my grieving process I’m sure, but for the moment you may be finding comfort in walking alongside me. This is what keeps me going. Perhaps you’ve lost someone or perhaps that hasn’t happened for you yet and you’re trying to understand what to expect.

 

Expect nothing.

 

I can safely say that although the journey will hold similar jumps for all of us, the method and speed with which we get through (not over) them, will not be the same whatsoever. Emotions and reactions are dependent on so many things—age, proximity and support for example, come immediately to my mind.

 

I tried to tell you a story today, but couldn’t find the words. Everything else seems trivial right now and even though I know that’s far from the truth, I can’t seem to muster the creative backbone needed to spin a tale.

 

But I did visit my girlfriend this weekend. I’ve known her for twenty years and she moved to what I’d call far away a couple of years ago. I miss her terribly, but it’s also nice to be able to make an excursion out of seeing her now.

 

So off we went, my daughter and I, painlessly driving the three-hour jaunt, stopping only for cheap gas and cheerful wine. (The wine was for me. My daughter is not allowed to get cheerful just yet.) Once settled and after eating (a delicious Thai meal courtesy of Leslie’s hubby) we sat on the couch and the dreaded reared its inevitable head. We hadn’t, of course, seen each other since my Papa’s passing and she asked how things were going and how everyone was doing. We talked for some time…well into the night, and as we headed off to bed we were still pondering what happens on the other side.

 

I told her that as much as the idea of a guardian angel seems comforting, I don’t like the idea of them having to watch over us. After all, what kind of torture would it be to see our children but be unable to touch or talk to them?

 

“No,” I said. “I like to believe they take a version of us along for the ride and that way, for them, not a thing has changed.”

Cool-memes-living-life-in-the-clouds

 

 

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Bear with me.

 

It’s a long journey around so many messy things and I lack the stamina to run it in one tidy breath.

 

Opening your eyes to the realization that somehow you must lift your burdened self out of bed so the show can go on. Peeling potatoes and stirring gravy so your children won’t think of this as the year they lost a Grandpa and Christmas Day. Stoically wading through a sea of memories that now contain a foreign element of hurt, so others can remember him the way you do. Battling tears and the desert that has become your mouth in order to send him off with the dignity he very much deserves.

 

Worrying someone will bring him up and then hurting when they don’t, planning only outfits with pockets to hold your twists of unscheduled Kleenex. Finding a way to preserve voicemails you’re so thankful you never deleted, fighting the guilt that you have saved the last ten, subconsciously aware you would come to rely on them one day soon. Holding on to the last time you saw him healthy and ruthlessly reliving the last horrible day that he wasn’t.

 

I used to think death was this obscure thing—a convoluted end that was hard to understand—marred by emotion and murky in its meaning. I was so wrong. Death is concise. It’s clear. It’s forever. And it’s final.

 

So I fumble for a bright side.

 

Hazy always ends in a positive spin. And although I’m desperate not to let her down, I’m having a really hard time grasping a silver lining through all of these ominous clouds.

 

I wish you heartache such as this in your life. Because despite the crumbling cliff it leaves you dangling from, it’s a true blessing to have loved someone this way.

th

 

 

 

 

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