I Want.

IMG_7959Of all the cities in all the countries, of all the cabs, I’ve ever taken, this guy was the worst driver ever. It was so bad, that at one point, I had to say, “Sir,” in a particular tone (which I have never done before) because a bus almost ran into us. It was not the bus driver’s fault, needless to say. And you know what? I was mad. The more I thought about it, the longer I sat in the cab with his horrible driving I sat through, the madder I got. I was mad at the cab driver and his lack of care for my safety and pedestrians. I was mad that in a few minutes I would have to pay this man and tip him because I did not have cash and the tip is automatic. I was mad at the fibromyalgia and the heightened pain I experienced today that had me taking that cab instead of walking to the el. 

I wanted to rage at the driver.

I did not.

Because even though I am mad, I am not mad at him. I am mad that the world keeps on spinning while I am grieving. I am mad that clients require work done when I want to lay my head down and cry. 

And then in another moment, I am not mad at all. I am exhausted. I am exhausted from feeling all the feelings I’ve felt since hospice first called me down to say goodbye to him through the funeral and then back to my life in Chicago. I want to settle into my apartment and lock the outside world out, curl up with books to read and no bra. I want to take long naps and not think. I want, I want, I want. IMG_8629

God is still good. I know this the same way that I know the sky is blue. I know this. I know this. I know this. I have never doubted it and I don’t doubt it now. It’s not something I have ever had to struggle with and I don’t struggle with it now. But I still do want to curl up in my white bed, in my gray pajamas. I want to tell the world to come back another day.
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Currently. Pronto.

prontotblushaka currently…

Trying to prepare for NaNoWriMo, where you write a 50k novel in November. It’s going to be really hard but it might prove to be a good distraction. Since, you know, I want to be a writer.IMG_9023Sending sweet treats to my baby sister.IMG_9022Trying to actual style my hair the way Chels taught me.IMG_8890Finding solace in my cozy bed and Gilmore Girls on Netflix.IMG_5132Rereading Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking.” This is a book you will mark up. If you are a writer or a blogger, you NEED to read Didion. This is the story of a year in her life when she lost husband which sounds depressing but it isn’t. Reading Didion makes you a better writer and a better human too. Click on the image to buy it. If you do, just so you know, I make less than 2 cents. Seriously. I would honestly pay you 2 cents for you to read it.

I’m just trying to keep busy, pray, and keep moving. You know? That sums up my currently. 
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The Dance.


Papa was an incredible dancer. Girls wanted to dance with him for that reason alone. It had nothing to do with how attractive he was or if they had a crush on him. Even his cousins would follow him to the dance halls, hoping to be twirled around the floor by Gus.

When I went to see him, after hospice called me, dancing is one of the things we talked about. During his surge, when suddenly he was himself, able to recall in perfect detail things from long ago, he talked to me about the dance halls and how he loved to dance.

On the other side of the bed, my mom told me that any time there was a wedding, she would be so excited. Later, she would major in dance at college, but as a little girl, the thrill of dancing with her father at a wedding filled her with joy. While we talked she said, “Anytime there was a wedding, I was always like, oooh!” She waggled her fingers in the air. “I get to dance with Dad.”

I think you know you are grieving when even recounting happy moments like this make me want to cry.papainhat

But back to the dancing.

Papa always said that when he did die (morbid, I know) we had to play his favorite song–Glen Miller, In the Mood. If Papa didn’t get up and dance out of the casket, we were allowed to bury him.

After the church service and the service at the cemetery, after the military thanked him for his service, saluted him with 21 shots, folded the flag and presented it to my grandma, after people meandered off to their cars, I stood with my brother, my three cousins, Granny, Mom, and my Aunt. It was just us–the ones left. That alone hurt–the absence of him in out space.

My brother (who hates to be talked about on the blog but I cannot tell this story without him) is one of the toughest men I know. He is not one for affection or touching moments, to say the least. But he took out his phone and he played In the Mood.

It’s a happy song. It’s a song that makes you want to dance.

I think that is why it was Papa’s favorite.

It is also a long song. Or it felt long because we wanted it be long. It went on and on. All of standing there, apart but together, watching the casket as the cheerful melody went on. Papa did not get up and dance. We did not expect him to. But we let the song play out until the very end, all three minutes and thirty two seconds of it, our eyes on the box that held the body of the man we loved.

When the song ended, we all got into a huge SUV that fit all eight of us. We had no room for even one more person. We could let them bury him now.
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Bloggers and Boobs: Giveaway!

The fact that one in eight women are diagnosed with Breast Cancer astonishes me. The fact that my aunt had the disease, fought it, won, and is now fighting it again since it spread to her sign, breaks my heart. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and therefore, this monthly giveaway surrounds luxury beauty products that give back to research. The lovely ladies I’ve partnered with and I have purchased these products knowing this was not just another simple raffle but a way not only to help in the fight against cancer but to give these products away to a lucky winner so we can pay it forward. 

Another way I am paying it forward is offering 25% off sponsor spots (which is more than I normally do) for this month only with the code: fightboobs2boobsBaby Got B.A. | The Style Prescription

Butcher’s Niche | The Sequin Notebook

Frankly My Dear | Flowers in my Hair | Love the Here and Now

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After a really difficult weekend, this feels good.

Love ya guys,
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Friday with a Side of Everything.

Hey, there. Five things on this Friday is hard and it easy. Which makes such sense, I know.oneI wrote two posts about my papa (God is Nigh & Holding up the Sky) and today and this weekend is the funeral. I would be so thankful for your prayers, not only for my family but also for something non specific that only three people in the entire world know that is just going to make this weekend all the more harder. I really can’t give specifics or I would. But just, if you think of me or us, can you pray for us?sorrytwoI updated my bio page. This is what it looks like:newbioI need to tinker with it but I’d love to get your thoughts on it. And while we are at it, have you ever had any question you really wanted to know abut me or this blog? I would love to answer it and add it to the FAQ page.threeThree books that have helped me grow recently. I owe you reviews on them but they really are worth the read. These are books not even buying but buying the actual book so you can mark it up.


four

Who knows HTML? Who knows how to get these three images in a row on the same line on this page (which is my popular series page)? I would love you forever. I am also offering 20% off all sponsor spots with the code: laughfiveA raffle for two tickets to the Influence Conference. I am saving up to join the network but they were having an incredible sale the day after this year’s conference and I was hearing such amazing things from women I really admire that I just decided to go for it. Plus, Indianapolis is not that far away? Who wants to car pool? So anyway, as I save up to join the Influence Network, you can (well two of you!) tickets to their annual amazing conference.

 
What is the Influence Network?
via
 
via
 
 
TWO lucky readers will win a ticket to the 2015 Influence Conference. The conference is a three day event held in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Westin Hotel. You will meet women from all over the country who are seeking to learn the right tools for their passions. There will be workshops, classes, speakers, coffee, & shopping. There will be bloggers, mothers, small business owners, writers, and the list goes on & on. 
 
 
 

Two Places At Once     //     What She Saw     //     Rivers & Roads
 

Oaks & Oats     //     Amy Cornwell     //     Simplicity Relished

Rachel Rewritten     //     Trusty Chucks     //     Wear Flowers In Your Hair

She Lives Free    //     Elah Tree     //     Mandy Living Life

 

Vallarina Creative     //     Camp Patton     //     23 and 9 Creative
 
 

 
 
 
You do not have to be a member of the Influence Network to enter the giveaway OR to go the conference but I can personally attest to the growth I have seen in my life through the network and the relationships I have built through it.
 
 
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**Please note that this giveaway is in no way sponsored by The Influence Network.  We are a group of independent women who are joining together to make this conference happen for two of our readers. The two recipients will only receive tickets to the event & are responsible for ALL other expenses, including but not limited to travel, lodging, meals, parking, etc. If for some reason either of the winners cannot attend the conference they will be expected to contact one of the hosts immediately so that another winner can be chosen.

I am linking up with Darci, Christina, Natasha, April, Karli, and Amy.

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Better late than Never: a FANCY giveaway!

So, here is the thing. Every now and again, there is a blogger who becomes a real life friend who honestly cares about my life (and honestly I care about hers too! Ha!). Well, Jenni is one of those people. I am so glad that I have gotten to know her and that our friendship continues to deepen. See? The internet can be used for good and it can be used for good now too because today is the last day to enter Jenni’s raffle. Her blog is turning three! I can’t believe it. I really want some of this stuff too, probably the Fancy shirt the most. But anyway, enter.
 
Also, if you get a second check out my new about me. All honest opinions are welcomed!
 
 
I have teamed up with my two awesome Etsy shops & nine of my favorite gal pals & to bring you a birthday bash full of goodies you’ll love celebrating! 
 
Happy Little Hummingbird           //           East West Design Co.
 
 
 
 
Park Avenue     //     Lisa Loves John     //     Jessi’s Design
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here’s what we are giving away:
 
Crystal Faye Oh Happy Day Coffee Mug
Gold Print “Fancy” Tee from The Sticker Place Etsy Shop
Fall Bracelet Stack from Happy Little Hummingbird Etsy Shop
Thimblepress Greeting Card 
Watercolor Scripture Print from East West Design Co.
 
 
Don’t miss out!

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Holding up the Sky.

Yesterday afternoon, after I wrote this, my papa went to be with the Lord. I am posting this because it’s important for me to record this part of it and the women who cared for him. And then I probably won’t talk about him for a little while, keeping my grief private–at least until I work things out–for a time.papaI don’t like to wear the color lavender because I remember staring down at my sweater and shoes when we found out we would have to unexpectedly have to put my childhood dog to sleep. We were so shaken because it was unexpected. “I can’t go in there,” my dad said. “Neither can I,” my brother added. I didn’t blame either of them. I did not want to go in either. But my normally quiet mom spoke up: “I’ll go. I don’t want her to be alone.” And then I found myself saying, “I’ll go too,” because I did not want my mom to be alone and because I could not turn away from my mom’s reasoning.

Sometimes you cannot turn away.

That memory came back to me this weekend as we sat around my grandfather’s bed. The we was my mom, my grandmother, my aunt, and myself. All women. This is nothing against men, especially the men in my family. But as I watched my mom put chapstick on my papa’s lips or pretend to hang tools on a non-existent peg board because he thought she’d left them on the ground, I knew instinctively that this was sacred work we were all doing. My grandmother brushed his hair from his head. My aunt made us laugh when we wanted to cry (this is a gift in and of itself). I am still trying to understand what I did. Maybe it was keeping this record.

I’m treading carefully because I so badly want to say the thing I mean and not be misunderstood. So often, men want to fix things. But there are some things which cannot be fixed or put back together. Some things we must watch fall apart, or in fact, die. These things are important and need to be done well. So often times, it is women who hold the vigil, when there is nothing to fix, when there is difficult comfort to give, when there is nothing to do but wait with the hardest anticipation.

We held our breath in that room–the women of the family. None of us felt abandoned by the men/boys of the family. I know for a fact that none of us felt as if they were lesser for not being there. Somehow it seemed right that it was us. I’m not saying women belong in one room and men in another or that there are certain jobs women are made for and others for men. All I can tell you is what I felt in that room: that it was supposed to be the women of the family watching over him.

I have a confession to make. I have often overlooked the strength of the women on this side of my family because it is more quiet than other kinds of strength I am more familiar with. This past week, I was humbled beyond belief. Quiet strength can hold up the whole sky. It bears all types of burdens we cannot imagine. It bears them quietly and without complaint. It holds on with a tenderness and a fierceness that surprised and humbled me. It is slow to weariness.I learned this week, about the quiet strength of specific women. Gentle strength is a force to be reckoned with in and of itself. It should not be discounted.

I do not discount it.

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Taps: God is Nigh

sorryMy childhood was spent watching my mom burst into old dance routines, wishing I had half her rhythm (I still don’t). I rolled my eyes but this in itself was–is–our routine. My mom is a beautiful dancer and along with that, she was–once upon a time–captain of the drill team. Sometimes, at night, and in my memory, it is always in the autumn, just as summer turns, she would sing these words, her arms following the grace of the old routine: Day is done, gone the sun. From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky-

I didn’t really understand the words for a long time. I only knew they were good words, hearty words. Simple and perfect. I understood one thing though: my mom called forth words from long past, calling them to action with her voice and her arms and her legs, little soldiers always sung to life in the dusk. Her arms moved the through the air as she spoke-sang them and I was comforted as only children can truly be comforted.IMG_8917

This weekend, I traveled an unlikely distance to be at my grandfather’s side to say goodbye. We all thought we would have longer, although now it seems hopelessly optimistic. I am the type of person who marks things–with my writing, with photographs, with a keen memory. I’ve never had to mark the end of a grandparent’s life before (not purposely, not as an adult) and so as I traveled to see the man who could fix anything–not things of the heart or feelings but anything made of wood and nails–I kept hearing the lyrics to Taps in my head.

Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know

God is nigh.farm

While we sat beside him, the WWII vet who still dreams of the war, the oxygen machine seemed to gently lay the words in the air so they need not even be spoken by my mother or anyone else. In fact, my mom does not even know that this song played over and over in my mind since I stepped foot in Union Station in Chicago and made my way to the long dead town my dying papa slept. It felt like a heartbeat in my chest. I wanted to say them but they could not come from me. I thought the magic words must come from my mom but then I remembered the song could no longer comfort me as it did when I was little.babes

At one point, Papa had a surge. He was suddenly and startlingly–for a few hours–himself aware of his state, aware of me, aware of the hush. I told my papa how much I loved him and he told me, “Of course we love each other. We’re family.” The crabbiness that followed him throughout life fell away then so maybe he was more himself in those hours than he was ever before in life. I told him God loved him even more than I did. Papa said he knew that too. I read him a psalm. I prayed silently in my head, words running together so none of it made sense, especially when papa fell away and his body took over for him–a frail body breathing with a beating heart and not much else, suffering. (As I write this, the suffering body lives on though it should have gone days ago. That was and is the hardest and most complicated part.)

In the room, with him, the old song came back to me again. I realized that’s all I wanted him to know. God is nigh.IMG_8923

All of us were exhausted, especially my mom, grandma, and aunt. I wanted to someone to sing it over all of us–and I didn’t want it to be my mother or myself because we needed to hear it too–but someone to sing it over all of us: my grandfather, my grandmother, my aunt, my mother, and me. While we sat beside him in the hush, I suddenly knew that Someone was singing, slowly with a kindness and gentleness we all needed, if we only had ears to hear.

zephaniah

Day is done, gone the sun

From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know

God is nigh.

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Love the Here and Now: Are you content? (from Anne)

 
It seems lately that happiness and contentment are popular subjects in blogland.  I even did a post on how to be happy not too long ago.  Granted we all want to be happy in our lives and content with how we are living our lives.  That got me to thinking.  Is being content a good thing?
 
Let’s start with the definition of content.  According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary content is defined as “pleased and satisfied, not needing more”.  
 
Who doesn’t want to be pleased with their lives?  We all want to be able to be proud of the lives we are leading and those we are sharing it with.  We want satisfaction in knowing that things are just as we had hoped or just as we had worked for.  Not all of our paths are the same and that’s ok.  We all ultimately want the same thing.  Happiness.  We may choose to share our lives with one person and create a family and measure our happiness that way.  Others may not want a family and choose to measure their happiness in success in their careers.  Some may chase their dreams and reach their goals and be happy with that.  All are perfect ways to be happy. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to creating your happiness.
 
But being content?  I don’t want contentment.  It’s that last part of the definition that sealed the deal for me.  Not needing more.  
 
What’s wrong with needing more?  I’m not talking about material things, although I do like to surround myself with pretty things.  I’m talking about wanting more out of life.  I want to have it all (a nearly impossible goal I know).  
 
I want to have my family, my job, and my blog.  I want to meet more people and make more friends. Does that negate the value of the friends I currently have?  Not at all.  The more the merrier in my opinion.  Each friend I have adds so much to my life. 
 
I want to try new things.  My current goals?  Learn how to use Photoshop, learn how to design blogs, practice my photography skills.  Simple things to some, yes.  If I was content I would not want to add new skills and hobbies into my life.  What I have on my plate right now would be enough; in fact satisfying.
 
Being content to me means that this is enough.  I have reached my peak.  It implies complacency.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be complacent in my own life.  I want to make it better, I want it to evolve, and I want it to challenge me.
 
So here’s to a life that is never content.  Bring on the happiness, bring on the joys, the challenges and whatever else comes my way.  But please don’t ever let me be content.
 
What are your thoughts on being content?
 

Mindlessness + Shopping.

proverb

I have much to update you on–a lot of hard things that I am learning and just witnessing. Women are amazing, you know? It’s just our girls taking care of my grandpa in his last days and it’s just…women are amazing. More on that later. This happens to be a no spend month for me. The exception to that is Christmas gifts + sales. For some reason, this weekend is chalk full of sales and items that I would love to get the women in my life. Here are some of the items I’ve picked out for them. What about you?

These are some of the shops that are having great sales this weekend. You can get some major steals. I am all about the steals. (I’m all about that bass…) (Trying to stay up beat here…)

Kate Spade | Friends and Family with Code: F14FFUS (I like to get accessories and tiny cute things from Kate Spade for the great ladies I know)

 
J.Crew Factory | 30% off with YAY30


Madewell| 30% off with Code: PICKMEUP (I love the quality of their stuff)


Old Navy | use the code TREAT for 25% off (I love their new grapic tees. Holy Chic!)


Gap | 25% off with the code HAPPY (I love the Gap for staples and for my friends with the babes!)

Happy Shopping! I’m trying to keep a smile on my face and I do love giving gifts. I hope these sales put a smile on your faces too. Let me know if you get something?

Xo,
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