Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: Nurture

nur•ture |ˈnərCHər|

  • care for and encourage the growth and development of...
  • help or encourage the development of...
  • cherish (a hope, belief, or ambition)

I love the idea of focusing on a word to shape experiences in the new year ahead. My word for 2014 is NURTURE, it came to me fairly easy and hit home hard. I was most drawn to nurture because it feels limitless and open. There are so many aspects of my life to nurture: self, family, my blog, friendships, our home, my marriage.

Unfortunately, I feel like a great expanse of time has passed when I have failed at nurturing many of the components of my life. I experienced a moment of clarity when I set my intentions in my new purple notebook, for the new year ahead. I cannot change the past, but rather recognize and work towards better nurturing more aspects of my life starting this very moment onward. I know I'm capable of digging deeper from within and truly living my life more fully and with gratitude.

The photo above was taken at the beach in Santa Barbara, California and is a wonderful reminder of my trip in November, a trip that was very self nurturing. Maybe I was subconsciously planting the seeds of the new year when I went away solo. I've created a nurture label and I am going to start using it in 2014 for all the moments I find myself nurturing my world. I'm so ready for this!

I hope you come along to see where my nurturing takes me...


Monday, December 30, 2013

A Gem With Perfect Timing

We met for the first time at the bus stop. It was the Fall of seventh grade and there she magically appeared one morning. Her jeans were rolled, her collar was turned up, but she was bold enough to be wearing blue eyeliner and mascara. I was intrigued. She was edgy. She taught me how to steam open a report card envelope, bleach and razor up an old pair of Levi's, apply makeup and remove it before I went back home. She perfected the art of a side french braid to copy cat her brave hair cut, which was buzzed off on the left side and long on the right. She listened to punk rock on cassette tape. She had traveled all over the country and just moved to town from the West. She was home alone quite frequently and that fact alone made her place more appealing to hang out than mine.

We often could be found exploring our limited suburban neighborhood on foot together. She gave me a new found sense of freedom. There was a Chinese Restaurant merely a block away that I had driven by countless times my entire life, but never stepped foot in. She's the one that coaxed me there for the very first time. I still remember the red painted dragons on the soda glass and cracking open my first fortune cookie. We shared lo mein and pork fried rice. I gave her Pizza Friday and the nuances of life in a loud Italian American family. I gave her stability and a place to always turn to. I offered her a way to feel like a local in yet another new school, new town, new state. We became fast friends that year. We had a good run, before her father picked up and moved her to a High School out of district.

Sometimes I realize how people walk into our lives at just the right time and have the ability to open a world of discovery. She will always be remembered as a gem with perfect timing.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

December Whole Foods Market Gift Card Winners!

I chose two winners this time around, even though there were 28 total comments, I did not count the ones where it was just an email address after their comment (they simply forgot). Leaving a total number of comment entries at 25! Comments 2 and 8 were the random numbers picked! I will be in touch via email for your address, the gift cards will be shipped directly from my sponsor.

Thank you to everyone that entered. Please check back next month for my new giveaway sponsored by Whole Foods Market!

Comment #2:

Comment #8:

A (new) Year of Possibilities

I walked around and around the display of journals before noticing another wooden shelf with neatly stacked notebooks in various sizes. I was attracted to the medium sized lined journals with a soft cover, it was a two pack in shades of purple that were calling my name. They were just the right thickness, giving me some hope that I could actually fill one early in the New Year. I laughed to myself when I realized how much effort I put into choosing a journal.

Confession, I've never filled an entire journal from cover to cover before. 

It's always been a goal of mine to fill a notebook, maybe even feel some tension as my thoughts spill onto the last few pages wondering if my thoughts will be longer than my notebook. Deep down I know it will happen, someday. Maybe that day will come in 2014.

I bought the two pack of notebooks so I could write down my intentions for the New Year. I'm not quite sure if resolution is the proper word to describe what I'm feeling, but none the less my mind wanders through out the day with endless possibilities of what I want to accomplish in 2014. Then I started wondering, is it silly to hold onto the New Year bringing forth a wave of change, a rush of confidence to accomplish tasks big and small? Ultimately I've decided, I'm not silly. I don't ever want to  become a person that stops being full of possibility and wandering thoughts. If it takes the turning of the year on the calendar, then so be it! Filled pages of my journal may inspire blog posts and blog posts may inspire my journaling. Either way, more writing is what I've been craving.

Do you set your intentions for the New Year? You still have time. Dig out a notebook and let your thoughts wander.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Entertaining Guests, Invited To A Gathering? Charcuterie Board In A Flash With A Whole Foods Market Giveaway!

Sometimes it's just not possible to cook a dish for every gathering we are invited to. Potluck at school, work gathering on a Friday afternoon, holiday open house, drinks and dessert, and a hat party are just a few invitations we've received in the past month. Every time we've been asked to bring along a dish to share. My thoughts immediately go to chips and salsa, but then you realize you don't want to be that person.

Luckily we've honed in on what we like to bring to a gathering that seems to make everyone happy and we also get a ton of compliments with a Charcuterie Board. Our board always contains specialty meats, cheese like grass fed cheddar or goat cheese we roll in nuts, bread, mixed nuts, nut thin crackers, sometimes a spread, olives and pickles to round things out! If we have time we candy the nuts to have a sweet component to all the savory offerings. The Charcuterie Board makes me happy because it fits everyone's palate and even those with dietary restrictions. Something for everyone!

Here's an example of a recent board we tossed together, it doesn't always have to be a huge investment, simple is just as appealing (not picture nut thins crackers):

Interested in learning more? Whole Story Blog:  Food Trend Alert: Charcuterie

I have 2 Whole Foods Market Gift Cards ($25 each) to giveaway!

To Enter:

1. A comment equals one entry, comment as much as you wish. Please leave a valid email address if you comment as anonymous.

2. Contest will close on Sunday December 29th, 2013 at 10pm MST. 

3. (2) Winners will be chosen by Random. Org and notified via email.

4. Address must be provided within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected, gift cards will be shipped directly by the supplier of the giveaway.  

5. Open to US residents only. 
Disclaimer, I was compensated by Whole Foods Market as a WFM Ambassador for this post and giveaway! Content is purely at my discretion. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Listen To Ben Harper

I pulled my rental turquoise Mini Cooper up to the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara and hopped out to pick up my ticket from will call. I felt so lucky to be inside this sold out show, I had booked my travel arrangements to California before I even had my hands on a ticket in. I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but as I was about to go into the show I stopped. I swiftly turned around and walked back to will call and asked if there were any released tickets. The woman said, actually we do have some released tickets.

"I've got AA dead center. That's front row," she said from behind the mahogany counter pointing at the screen.

Her words may have come out in slow motion or my heart may have been pounding so hard that everything else around me stopped, it took about a millisecond for my brain to say yes, for the endorphins to start rushing, and then finally my mouth caught up with everything that had just overcome my body.

I'll take it.

When I join in the audience of a Ben Harper show, it affects my deeply. The words, the music, the soul that is poured into a show transcends my experience. Seeing Ben Harper live may remind me of a piece of myself I lost or he may be leading me to the person I am becoming. It's more than likely both and why I keep returning for the last 16 years. Sometimes even on a special occasion, I am able to speak with Ben after a show. Each time I am fortunate enough to have a brief moment in his presence, I am reminded of his genuinely humble spirit. Ben has an uncanny ability to just look you directly in the eyes and make you feel like you have his undivided attention (insert weak knees).

My beautiful acoustic evening in Santa Barbara was topped off by a signed poster, a signed setlist, and a photo with Ben. The poster reads, Dear Denise, thank you for the front row love! Ben Harper. I'm the one that can't thank him enough for being such a gift to us. Until the next show...

Here's a playlist of songs I recorded at 3 of the shows I saw. Denver, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles:

A special mention to Josh, for booking my airplane ticket and hotel room and of course for encouraging me to get away. Swoon. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Connecticut Becomes First State To Require GMO Labeling

The citizens of Connecticut had their voices heard yesterday when Governor Malloy signed a bill legislating the labeling of GMO foods (Public Act No. 13-183)! There is a part of me that believed I may never see the day when people won over the powerful corporations that have a strong hold over our government. I am hopeful.

Press release from the Governor's Office

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Giveaway Winner!

While my time isn't as equally divided to be as present as I once was here at Eat Play Love, there is nothing that makes me happier that I still have people stop by to read my words. One never knows what I may be rambling on about, but alas you come anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving, today I am truly grateful for Eat Play Love and all the incredibly people that have been woven into my life as a result. My heart is full.

Congrats to Melissa, you have won the giveaway. I'll be in touch for your address.

Like Gretchen, we started brining years ago with Alton's recipe. Love it! Melissius at gmail dot com

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Learn To Brine A Turkey {video} and a Whole Foods Market $50 Gift Card Giveaway!

Thanksgiving is upon us! Who doesn't love a holiday full of gratitude, sitting around the table enjoying the company of the ones we love, and indulging? While some may succumb to the pressure to create a perfect meal, we tend to stick with our favorites and keep it simple, which takes the pressure off. Thanksgiving is also one of those holidays that is steeped in tradition. My tradition is hunting down 3 boxes of Bell's Poultry Seasoning (accept no substitutes) which is added to the dressing, aka stuffing. We don't actually use 3 boxes, but I always need a backup, and a backup for our backup.

About 10 years ago, Josh brined a turkey for the first time. The turkey turned out wonderfully moist, we were super impressed that we could taste subtle hints of flavors used in the brine.  Since then, there has been no turning back, a dried out flavorless turkey became a thing of the past. A brined turkey quickly became a part of our Thanksgiving tradition.

If you want to wow your guests, I suggest brining your turkey this year. Whole Foods has put together some great tips and tricks as well as a video! Whole Foods Holiday Cheat Sheet: Guide To Turkey 101. Or if you're not in the mood to cook, you can order an entire meal, or select components online from Whole Foods Market! We've ordered our Christmas Dinner before from WFM, it was just three short weeks after I gave birth, and a perfect way to celebrate without feeling overwhelmed.

Brining a Turkey 101, it's truly this simple:

Or if you prefer a video, it's 45 seconds long, bravo!

Now for the giveaway! 

To Enter:

1. A comment equals one entry, comment as much as you wish. PLEASE leave a valid email address if you comment as anonymous or do not have a link to your email. 

2. Contest will close on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 10pm MST. 

3. 1 Winner will be chosen by Random. Org and notified via email.  

4. Address must be provided within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected, Gift card will be shipped directly by the supplier of the giveaway.  

5. Open to US residents only. 

Disclosure: I am a Whole Foods Brand Ambassador, they have sponsored this post and the contents of the giveaway! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Giveaway Winners From Whole Foods Market!

Announcing the Whole Foods Market Halloween Package winners! There were 23 comments, but one was mine identifying the unknown commenter that emailed me to let me know their comment went through as unknown! 

I pulled winners from 22 comments (not counting mine) and they were #1, #6, #12!

Comment #1, Connie Weiss!

Comment #6, The SoapDish!

Comment #12, Momandsons!

Winners please contact me with your address at eatplaylove (at) gmail (dot) com! If I don't hear from you within 24 hours, I will pull a new winner.

Stay tuned for a new giveaway from Whole Foods Market next month...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mom Approved Whole Foods Market Halloween Giveaway!

Halloween is just one week away and once again we find ourselves facing the candy dilemma head on. We love Halloween, we love joining the girls trick or treating, having conversations with our neighbors, and watching the girls joyfully sort through their loot at night's end. What we don't love is deviating from our normal diets just for the sake of American tradition. The majority of chocolate gets to stay, candy that dreadfully sticks in your teeth must go. Candy that is full of artificial coloring and flavoring typically gets cast aside as well. Luckily for us, we find in our neighborhood the girls receive all sorts of non-traditional Halloween goodies. 

This year, I'm looking forward to handing out some Mom approved Halloween loot. I am partnering with Whole Foods and passing out some fun treats this Halloween. Some of our personal favorites are small snack sized bags of treats like Annie's Halloween Bunny Grahams, Snyder's pretzels, or Justin's peanut butter cups in milk or dark chocolate. I always appreciate when the girls get school friendly snacks, it makes lunch packing easy the week after Halloween! 

Whole Foods is also graciously sending 3 lucky winners a Colorado River Project Water Bottle, they are aluminum, BPA free, and made by Liberty Bottle Works in the USA and a bag of Halloween Candy!

To Enter:

1. A comment equals one entry, comment as much as you wish. Please leave a valid email address if you comment as anonymous.

2. Contest will close on Sunday October 27, 2013 at 10pm MST. 

3. (3) Winners will be chosen by Random. Org and notified via email.

4. Address must be provided within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected, prize packages will be shipped directly by the supplier of the giveaway.  

5. Open to US residents only. 
Disclaimer, the items in this post were provided by Whole Foods Market to me as a WFM Ambassador! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Filled With Possibility, The Makerie Summer Series: In The Home

The Makerie is a weekend creative retreat that was started by Ali DeJohn and is hosted in one of the most picturesque parts of Boulder, Chautauqua Park. From my interactions with Ali, she's a woman that dreams big, and actually turns those dreams into reality for others to experience. It's amazing to watch grace spilling from a person, that's truly how I would best describe Ali. Ali has mastered the art of detail and those details just compliment one's Makerie experience so profoundly.

This summer, The Makerie was offered in a series, all of which had different focuses in a one day gathering instead of the weekend long retreat. Creative classes were taught by artists complimented by lovingly prepared food from the farm by Chef Katie of EAT Catering. The Makerie session I attended was called In The Home and was hosted at The Lyons Farmette. I actually won a ticket from Whole Foods Market in Boulder, a Makerie sponsor, which made me feel like the luckiest person on earth!

Just imagine this, a day long creative retreat with classes taught by amazing women from our community, at a farm with food prepared on site. If you are wondering if I had a spectacular time, I may convince you that spectacular would be an understatement. It is such an incredible blessing to be offered a day to just feed your soul. I unplugged from my everyday life and let go of so many things that typically hold me back from being creative. I embraced the opportunity to gather with women, who I would come to learn so much about through out our day together, who were filled with such intrinsic beauty. We laughed, we got glue stuck to our fingers, we made silly faces at one another while we donned safety glasses before using the drill press, we worked together to create gorgeous letterpress items on antique machines. As the sun began to set, we dined together on food that was prepared with such love, and fresh vegetables grown just beyond the backdrop of our day. As we raised our glasses to toast the culmination of the labors of love for everyone involved in making the day possible, I easily shed tears of gratitude for a day that so beautifully complimented my life. I realized the opportunities I have are far and few between to experience such synergy in a creative space.

Thanks to the Makerie, I became filled with possibility. 

Here's some photos from my day:

Learn more about the Makerie in 2014.
The Makerie on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.
Fabulous artists that were brought into my life at the Makerie, Studio 22 and Bird Dog Press.

A video which captures a beautiful glimpse into The Makerie:


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fun With Wacky Apple Flat Fruit!

Now that we are packing two lunches everyday, about once a week I get creative and surprise the girls with something out of the ordinary in their lunches. I love using small little cookie cutters of letters and shapes to create fun things out of flat fruit! We all know how nice it is to have fruit in our pantry to add to lunches when we haven't gotten to the market, that's why I love Wacky Apple!

They nibble on the fruit before eating their sandwiches or play around with the shapes until after they are finished. The flat fruit is fun to do many things with and a bonus, the girls find it a sweet treat to replace a processed sugar dessert!

Thank you Wacky Apple for the box full of goodies to make my girls bentos wonderful! My favorite part of Wacky Apple is that it comes from Colorado and is Organic! Non organic apples carry the highest pesticide loads, so we try to buy organic apples as much as possible.

Monday, October 7, 2013

This is 10 {with Audio}

Click on the play button to listen to my read through of this post:
A full week of birthday celebrations finally came to a close as the sun set last night. I'm not quite sure why, but 10 feels like such a momentous birthday to me. I wanted 10 to feel special and different. I wanted 10 to stand out in life's timeline. Sj is now officially double digits, she's got one year to raise both hands, fingers fully splayed out, and tell the world, she's 10.

Turning 10 also means there's a deeper understanding of how life works and sometimes it's an opportunity to grow emotionally, as well as chronologically. We sat down for lunch at Zoe Ma Ma, sipping a pipping hot bowl of chicken noodle soup, while the girls devoured some potstickers. They finished them quickly and decided they wanted steamed buns, so we handed Sj some cash and sent her off to order more. Even in the tiniest moments of independence, I find myself smiling as I carefully observe Sj growing leaps and bounds into her 10th year. As the conversation turned to how we would celebrate her birthday, namely with friends, we also had to talk about how it was not possible to have it all. Sj desperately needed a new bicycle and since our family has a love for all things cycling, buying a cheap bicycle wasn't an option. Even though I tried to talk through valid points for buying a bicycle that was more economical, in the end I convinced myself an investment in a nice bicycle was indeed a perfect way to celebrate being 10 years old. 

But with a new bicycle, some things would have to move off the table as options. Take for example, horseback riding with 3 friends. While tears may have been held back in our conversation, I watched the wheels turn in Sj's head. She fully understood our talking points and within a matter of moments, I watched her almost tear filled eyes dry up and start to sparkle when we started to hatch out a plan. In a very rational way, she chose a bicycle over 1 hour of horseback riding. She also presented the option of having friends come spend the night, where we would craft, watch a movie, have dinner, and a special breakfast in the morning. And just like that, all before we reached the bottom of our soup bowl, a birthday plan was hatched. 

While there is a part of me that wishes I could simply give my daughter whatever she delighted on her birthday, I recognize the beauty of allowing her to be an integral part of our decision making. She's very wise for being 10 years young, and I credit our openness with her to nurturing her ability to make less ego driven decisions and more head smart choices at her age. 

We left Zoe Ma Ma and walked a block to the bike shop, where we picked up her sweet new ride. 

Happy 10th Birthday my lovely, kind, generous, fashionable, mature, beautiful, sweet, and inspiring 10 year old. This year is going to be all kinds of wonderful. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Hacking Senior Citizens' iPads 101

This story may make you laugh or make you cry, unfortunately it saddens me. My father has owned an iPad for a couple of years now. He's not very tech savvy and is of the persuasion that if you tap hard enough on the glass, the iPad will respond appropriately. Sometime last Spring I backed up his iPad to my computer because it had never been backed up before. I made the mistake of not logging out of my iTunes account first before backing up his iPad. Hindsight is 20/20. If you ever back up someone else's iDevice onto your computer, simply log out of your iTunes account first and the odds are good this won't happen to you. Or simply don't be nice and offer to back up someone's iDevice at all.

A few months later, when updating applications I was prompted to enter in my father's apple ID password on my iPhone. I found that very strange, but quickly realized applications that we both shared became corrupted. Now don't ever say to an Apple employee the word corrupted because one, they won't believe you and two, they find it hard to believe something like this could occur. There is no quick fix, except to delete the confused applications and install them fresh. After I did that for Pandora and Temple Run, I have no longer been prompted to enter my father's apple ID password on my iPhone.

Then yesterday, this happened...

I received a text message and email from my father, see above. Maybe he was feeling heated having to wait however long the folks over at Candy Crush make you wait to get more lives and so he took it out on me, but I find his accusations endearing. He believes I have been spying on all of his iPad activity because of our confused applications. I couldn't quite think of the right moment to come out with the this, but truth be told I have developed software to hack into Senior Citizens' iPads. I have some solid data on their Candy Crush, pinball, and slot game activity. I have been collecting the data and entering it into a spread sheet where I will one day use the evidence to...

....do absolutely nothing.

While my father was in a huff about the confusion with the Apple ID's (that was a screencap of mine that appears on his). I had to break it to him that I actually have better things to do with my time than to spy on his iPad activity. More times than not in my family, Seniors and technology just don't mix.

Should I send him a link to proper usage of you're and your?

ps..Hi Dad! Thanks for blocking me on Facebook! You saved me the trouble! 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Be Yourself {with Audio}

(Please note, I am experimenting with embedding an audio read through of my blog posts. See player below, if you would like to hear me read it through)

Wednesday is typically the day of the week when I sit down on the couch after dinner, but within moments find myself swinging my feet up and propping a pillow behind my head. I reach down and grab the wool throw, taking extra care to cover my feet. Wednesdays are for melding into the down wrapped sofa cushions and letting go of all the things I should be doing. A pipping hot cup of tea was placed on the table in front of me turned in just the right way, be yourself was staring back at me. A simple message hanging off the tea bag string.

Be Yourself.

In my mind I see a woman sitting on the ground with her knees up close to her chest and her arms thrown around her legs. There's a rounded wall of smooth grey rocks built up around her, not so high that she can't see over, but definitely high enough to protect her. Her head occasionally peers out above the top layer of rocks and sometimes when she sees something off in the distance that makes her uncomfortable she casually lowers her forehead to rest on her knees. Her face is hidden out of plain sight and the grey rocks do their job comforting her. Some days she just sits and taps her toes feeling at ease, but other times she steps beyond those boundaries and feels the sunshine penetrate her skin, the wind blow in her hair, and exactly how it feels to just be immersed in her world. The calm ebbs and flows allowing chaos to catch it and in precise moments chaos may overcome the calm. The calm never slips away, it's always within reach.

Tonight the calm presents itself as a cup of tea and a simple reminder, be yourself.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Post Boulder Flood Reflections: Resilience Is Not Wavering

On Monday, I can easily recall rain through out the day. No sunshine, grey skies.

Tuesday, I woke up to clouds in the sky and maybe some light rain. Josh left very early for a 2 week business trip, his flight was delayed but he arrived in Los Angeles just fine. I waved goodbye to my daughter as she pulled out of the parking lot in a school bus for a 4 day Outdoor Education trip. A day of intermittent rain would follow.

Wednesday, after 5pm I was walking out to my car in the parking lot when the driving rain caught me off guard. Still raining? Then, wow it's still. raining.

It wouldn't be until later in the evening, on Wednesday September 11th, that my anxiety levels around the rain started to rise. Flash flood warnings started hitting twitter, I turned to my ipad for the police radio app to get some insight from fire and emergency crews. Boulder Valley cancelled school for Thursday. Unlike a huge snowstorm about to hit the area that comes with days of warnings, this 1,000 year rain event (100 year flood), completely surprised us.

Text between Josh and I, the first night of the flooding. Josh was in Los Angeles. Our text message time line would prove to validate my level of anxiety, in one hand I'm holding it together for G, while also keeping my eye on the weather where Sj was, which very luckily was 3 hours away in the best direction possible. 3 hours away from the storm that was pounding us. Looking back upon it, September 11th was truly only the very beginning.

Shelter in Place. 

Seek Higher Ground Immediately. 

Flash flood sirens roared. 

On Thursday September 12th 9.08 inches of rain would fall on Boulder. If you were here, saying 9.08 inches of rain would pound Boulder, would not feel like an exaggeration. From Sept. 9 through Sept. 16, the storm dropped 17.15 inches of rain on Boulder. Basically that's our ANNUAL rain fall in one week. By mid-day Thursday we recognized how deeply we were into this powerful storm system. I found myself outside twice digging out ditches to lead standing water from around my home into other parts of my yard. There was officially no way out of my neighborhood for about 18 hours. I texted a neighbor to tell her if the water started to rise from Bear Canyon Creek just 2 blocks from my house, that we would be at her doorstep looking for shelter. Another neighbor updated on Facebook that she was evacuated from King Soopers.

On the morning of Friday September 13th, we would wake to police tape marking an impassable street at the end of our block. The water that normally was barely a trickle in the dry creek bed had taken over it's banks and was rushing down an additional 3 lanes of road that surrounded it, there were boulders filling both eastbound lanes. Parts of the road washed out and a gas line was exposed. In the mean time, I was figuring out how to get out of my neighborhood, at this point about 75 roads were still closed in Boulder, simply so I could pick up my daughter at school from her trip. I was so happy the BVSD transportation department allowed scheduled bus trips to proceed even though the district was shut down. Together my daughter and I witnessed the intensity of the storm on a simple 3 mile trip home from school. A car was turned on it's side washed up in the storm and through someone's backyard fence. Flood debris littered every single street. Rocks, sand, mud, trash cans, tree trunks, boulders, cars, were all strewn in ways only a national disaster could toss them.

There were many moments that my mind could not comprehend what I was seeing. 

Saturday September 14th the rains lightened through out the day, but also came back in fierce waves. At some point I had to get on the roof during one of the heavier rains, to tar a very minor leak we had where our furnace exhaust exits the roof. We finally left the house to get the girls to dance class. We once again witnessed the first hand devastation of the water, swiftly moving currents of water destroys roads, buildings, and bridges. Fences were just gone. Roads washed out. Chinook helicopters (aka flying buses) were flying overhead to rescue people from our mountain towns. While the sound of the helicopters should have been welcoming, it was just a reminder of how incredibly devastated our community was. The Colorado National Guard rescued around 3,500 people in every possible flyable moment. There were also tall vehicles trucking people out of communities like Lyons where the major thoroughfares were washed out.

I sat in the dance school parking lot and just cried my eyes out.

Two weeks later and things haven't returned to normal. I am not even exactly sure what normal means anymore. Resilience is the component of the human spirit that is not wavering, so we just push on through. Lend a hand, heal our hearts, and learn to carry on.

Related Links:

City of Boulder Flood Photos and Videos


I've chosen not to show any images in this post, the continual images of destruction have been affecting my ability to recover. Sharing my words have helped, but out of respect I had to hold off on powerful images. 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So, What Do You Do?

Just shortly beyond introduction, small talk always heads in one direction. Our brain synapses are mental arrows pointing like lights leading jets to their final resting destination. The one place we most frequently land is the safe zone, career talk.

So, What do you do? 

Historically, that is indeed one of the most dreaded questions I could be asked. The root of the problem for me is that I'm engaged in a brief conversation with someone who more than likely I will never talk to again. Before the so what do you do question even arises, I can almost guarantee I have forgotten the name of the person I am conversing with, unless of course they are wearing a name tag. Percentage of chance they are wearing a nametag 15%, percentage of chance I remember their name sans nametag 15%, percentage of chance I wish I could slip away unnoticed and not hold small talk conversations 99.8%. In my ideal world we'd small talk about things we are passionate about like food, travel, or a myriad of leisurely activities. If the conversation is taking place in Boulder we would probably focus on what type of athlete they are, training rituals, mileage pounded that very day. It is fair game to throw in possible injuries into small talk conversations such as, sorry could you hold my drink for a moment, I think I need to stretch out my hamstrings; I ran up Bear Peak before sunrise this morning and beat my PR.

So, how do I answer the question, is the question.

For years I had a drawn out convoluted story about how I was once a teacher, but left the classroom when I gave birth to my oldest. I left teaching TEN YEARS AGO and I still say, I'm a teacher in conversation. I'm a what? Depending how comfortable I am with the stranger I am conversing with, I sometimes share that I am a blogger, but rarely do I say I am a writer. Which makes me reflect upon an important moment I had at a creative retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago. In the morning session, our instructor made everyone go around and say out loud to the group that we were artists. It felt strange saying it, but more importantly it made me think about my writing. I've been throwing words together at Eat Play Love now for 6 years (officially yesterday, thank you very much) and I don't think I've ever comfortably allowed my tongue to roll off the words, I am a writer. I'm going to say them now. I am a writer, just like I am an artist, and a dreamer. I don't solidly own I am a mother as my job, but I am a caretaker of my family. I feel like motherhood is essential to my being, but is not a quantifier of my self. See why I grapple with a question that some people can answer with a simple sentence like, I am a financial analyst for a small firm downtown. What I really want to say is, that I am a dabbler and a lover of life and even if what I do doesn't earn me a paycheck, it is what I do.

Which leads me to a funny place.

In June, I landed a part time job. A job that comes with a set of duties, a fob to the building, a shared office with my very own key, an official email, a plethora of access logins, meetings that migrate to my google calendar, and a badge. There's filing cabinets, binders, computers, a table to hold meetings, one of those fancy corded phones, and at least 20 linear feet of desk space in my office. That all sounds very official and what-do-you-do-like, doesn't it? Well it is, but it doesn't have this all encapsulating title that truly describes what my new job is because like me, it's dynamic. In just a couple of short weeks, it's made me happy. I'm nestling into a team, an office, a work rhythm and it feels fabulous. The details are miscellaneous, so just set your imagination free and picture me in a job where I feel at home. I'm working on my elevator pitch about my job description, so when I get asked the inevitable question the next time at a party I don't have to intentionally spill a drink down my blouse to get out of answering it.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Sisterless Life

Not only am I the youngest of four, but I am the only daughter. While I wouldn't quite call my birth an oops, there's over five years in age difference between me and the youngest of the three boys. The three boys in 4 years boys, mind you. Yes, then me. Just simply assessing the birth order and gender facts of my family one may easily conclude, I was never much of a girly girl. Digest this information as you wish, but I find it's essential to where I am headed with this story.

Then in 1994, the baby girl of the family picked up and moved 1,800 miles away.

Fast forward two decades later, Josh and I have our own family. We've been graced with two daughters, two girls that spend their summer days crafting, playing together, braiding each other's hair, and even currently slumbering by choice in the same bedroom at night (it's fleeting I know, but let me have my moment). Of course there's much admiration from my youngest towards her big sister and the natural inclination for my oldest to pull away, but at the end of the day their bond is beautifully sister strong.

And at the end of my day, this very day in particular, I am weeping that I am indeed sisterless. A fact which was thrust upon me from day one, from a childhood clearly marked with baseball parks and muscle cars parked in the driveway. Through my almost four decades of living and growing into my self, this revelation is nothing new. I've always believed that I have surrounded myself with wonderful women, nurturing loving friendships, friends that were like sisters to me. But are they really like having a sister? No they aren't and the deepest nature of my heart makes me painfully aware of that reality.

I may mourn my sisterless existence because it reaches beyond my needs, when my daughters don't get a birthday card in the mail from any of their five uncles and typically not even a phone call.  I immediately assume that their Aunt, if they had one, would never do that to them. My sister would shower them with love... We don't take family vacations together and have outgrown many of the family traditions we had, in honor of creating a new way with our nuclear family. Of course while I am dreaming of my imaginary sister, we would live in the same town and have children the same age. I wouldn't be tear filled because I have no family to help me for a few days that I have to work before the girls go back to school. While I have adoring friendships, I just don't have the friends that want to step into my life like family would (yes, the family I chose to move away from, I know). That reality hurts, I know part of it is simply out of my control and also it's partially because of the choices I've made. My tears tonight are not all for naught, I hold out hope that someday a woman will come into my life and help heal my sisterless void. Hope is indeed the best bandaid, to carry me through.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hiking In Rocky Mountain National Park, Happiness In Being

My feet slipped into the toeclips of my pedals and I set off on a short adventure down the frontage road just off of our campground. I wasn't quite sure what to expect or how long the road would continue on for. The road was heavily treed, but I passed a handful of houses, lots of laundry drying on clotheslines, and many yards full of stockpiles of construction materials, abandoned cars, and firewood. I may or may not have contemplated a few times on my ride the possibility of a junkyard dog living in one of these homesteader shacks, but with great fortune not one canine did I encounter. I arrived at the top of a hill and looked down deciding if I should descend down the curvy road, all I could focus on was the ride back up.

Down I went...

I happened upon a lovely creek with gently cascading water and a small footpath that ran along the creek caught my eye. The creek was descending through a meadow and the Rocky Mountains were a glorious backdrop. I rode home to share my excitement with everyone that stayed back at camp, knowing it would be a fabulous spot to explore with the kids. As it turns out the creek was the very south east border of Rocky Mountain National Park. Shortly after, we piled 5 kids, 4 adults, and 2 dogs into a Toyota Highlander and set off into Rocky Mountain National Park for a bit of an adventure!

We climbed out of every door of the SUV, including the back hatch and received a chuckle from the RMNP volunteer. We were just steps from a series of hiking trails, our only tough decision was which trail to take. The trail we chose was compacted dirt, nice and wide with not many rocks to navigate. I was especially drawn in by how lush it was adjacent to the trail, among the trees there were numerous species of wildflowers and even ferns. I have a soft spot for ferns and I couldn't name a spot in Boulder where I regularly hike where I see ferns. The ferns alone made the day for me. I imagined returning to do some back country camping on my own or with Josh, maybe even a short trip with out the kids as there was just something about this spot that was drawing me in. As we hiked up the trail, we followed along a steady flowing creek that also had waterfalls, the water just rushed over huge boulders that jutted out of the creek. The years of force filled water cascading carved out lovely smooth spots in the rocks. A combination of many small observations had this enormous snowball effect on my psyche, being submersed in such nature completely tantalized me.

While climbing to the edge of a boulder near one of the smaller waterfalls, Josh captured this photo of me. It's candid, I wasn't doing a cutesy smile or trying to turn my body to look thinner, I wasn't worried about my hair. I was just experiencing pure joy, delight in being present in that moment, delight in hiking along a waterfall with my family and friends I adore.

Happiness in being.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Boulder's Best Parks: CAVE PARK [Arapahoe Ridge Park]

Even though the first time I visited "Cave Park" was about 15 years ago, it wasn't until this morning that I learned the real name of the park is Arapahoe Ridge Park. Cave Park as we so lovingly call it, is one of the most unique parks we've ever been to. In complete contrast to modern synthetic playgrounds, the focal point of Cave Park has a beautiful flagstone play structure complete with tunnels and mazes, built right into the landscape. Cave Park provides such a unique experience for kids, as it's so completely different than the usual playground experience. It's a great way for kids of all ages to develop climbing skills, comfort level with dark and tight spaces, and a real sense of independence! There's really no hand holding through the tunnels, kids must explore on their own.

There are other components of Cave Park, but they are dated. There's a shiny metal merry go round (warning, it gets dangerously hot in the sun), a very small toddler sized structure which is a great distraction for the littles not ready to explore the cave, and a few of those bouncy wire animals!

There's also a shaded picnic structure with a grill. There's a beautiful field adjacent to the park, so remember to bring a kite, frisbee, or soccer ball!

Toddler friendly: Yes
Big Kid Awesome: Yes
Bathrooms: No
Picnic Shelters: Yes
Cycling/Scooter friendly: Yes, there are many paths that surround the park! 
Features: cave/maze structure, large grassy field, neighboring tennis courts and baseball field at Eisenhower Elementary. 

Arapahoe Ridge Park
Boulder, CO 80303

Local Tip: Head east on Kellogg Circle from Eisenhower Drive and park at the end of the cul de sac. From there you can walk down the path to the park!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Boulder's Best Parks For Kids! Foothills Community Park (w/Photos)

Boulder is known for it's Open Space and Mountain Parks, but it's a bit of a hunt to find the playgrounds that are true gems. Through a series of posts, I am going to highlight some of our favorite parks to help cut out the legwork for anyone looking to go on a playground adventure, be it a local or just a visitor passing through! 

Toddler friendly: Yes
Big Kid Awesome: Yes
Bathrooms: Yes
Picnic Shelters: Yes
Cycling/Scooter friendly: Yes
Features, rock climbing, bouldering to slide down a big slide, neighboring community gardens

Foothills Community Park is a park complex in North Boulder, west of Broadway off of Cherry Avenue. The highlights of this post are from the playground that is featured off of 7th Avenue and can be tucked away from the Community Gardens portion of the Foothills Community Park (related, I couldn't find the playground until we went off searching on foot). 

There truly is something for everyone at this park! The toddler park is in a different section closer to the community gardens on 8th and Cherry. The "big kid" playground had so much variety for my daughters who are 9 and 6 years old. There are trail systems connected to this park as well, so bringing your bikes or scooters would work great! 

Foothills Community Park
Boulder, CO 80304


Monday, July 15, 2013

On My Bicycle, I Just Feel Free

My legs are long and dominate my physique, but come in handy as I gracefully throw the right one over the top tube of my Surly. My feet nonchalantly slip into the toe clips on my pedals and those dominating legs get to work. There really isn't much settling in when I hop on a bicycle, I feel at home. My hands gently squeeze the brakes when I am moving too swiftly down a hill. On a rare occasion, I let myself feel what it's like to just let it rip without touching the brakes. The wind passes through my helmet, I unknowingly crack a smile maintaining tight lips, fearing bugs would ruin my triumphant moment. My right hand doesn't have to wait for a message from my legs sent through my brain to adjust the gears on a climb, it just opens up the lever and the release is immediately felt. I love climbing, which may be rather strange to admit, but for some reason I enjoy hushing up all the tiny whispers that tell me I can't do it. When I climb, I can.

For all the cumulative moments I feel awkward in my daily life, I never feel awkward in the saddle.

On my bicycle, I just feel free.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sharing A Laptop? That Was Easy!

Kids and computers. Computers and kids. The topic seems to be popping up more frequently in our home. After the girls are in bed we sometimes watch a movie, leisurely lounging on the sofa we talk about our day and quite honestly discuss things we save for when we aren't in the company of the girls. For us, there is no set age as to when a child is ready for a tablet, computer, or cell phone. We tend to air on the conservative side, as many children we know already have their own devices, but we definitely value the role technology has in our lives and want the girls to enrich their lives with it as well. We take a bit of a balanced approach and don't limit "screen time" to a set number of minutes, but we value being active outside, gardening, reading for 20 minutes a day, writing in our journals, and being crafty in addition to allowing time on the computer. It works for us and my general rule of thumb in regards to parenting is not for me to judge others, but recognize what works for some, may not work for others. I personally love engaging in conversations about technology with other moms and gain insight and tips that may work for us as well.

Back to the computer talk between Josh and I, it typically sounds like this. Do you think they are ready? Well, they easily navigate our device, of course they are ready. But... will it create a divide, do you think they can share a laptop? It would be nice for them to have their own computer. Yes, their own computer means hands off our computers! 

Now of course a decision like allowing the girls access to a computer, not to mention one they would use primarily as their own, does not come lightly for us. We sat down and had a long conversation with the girls about it. I never want a device to become a behavioral modifier with false threats of having it taken away in order to get them to do something we need them to do. Time on the computer is closely monitored and I've taken time to bookmark our favorite educational websites. There is something wonderful about savvy educational sites that allow the girls to believe they are playing when really they are growing their skills in a particular subject area, like math for example. Eventually I see them editing short movies, writing papers for school, completing research, and making slideshow presentations to compliment whatever they are currently studying. The laptop has also proven to be a great learning tool for personal discipline and sharing, developing their sense of give and take. More times than not I've found the girls engaged together with the laptop, which doesn't come as a total surprise to me, but delights me none the less.

Onto the laptop that we chose for the girls. I partnered with Staples in the process and we chose a Toshiba laptop. One of the highlights of our decision was for us to all become more comfortable with the Windows8 operating system. The laptop was ready to go when I removed it from the box, I created a MS account, and connected it to the internet in a snap. It was a bit of a learning curve learning where all the menus are located and how to access them, but I was amazed at how quickly the girls got right down to business. It's really no secret that we have a deep rooted love for all things Apple in our home, but let's be honest the majority of the world operates on PC's. Being well versed in both operating systems is a huge bonus for our entire family (I use a PC for my part time job). Plus, I need to know exactly what my blog looks like from Internet Explorer, teehee. Another part of the process was that I learned a lot through the Staples website, browsing various models and what they come loaded with versus what you have to buy after market. They always seem to have a sale going on, which is a total plus for me (I'm a bargain hunter) especially with Back To School just around the corner! We will go into the store when we shop for school supplies, as my girls are the ones that like to touch everything before buying.

There's a funny part to this story. One day last week a Staples truck pulled up out front of our house and the driver stepped out to hand us a small package (clearly not the laptop). The package contained our very own Easy Button. Yes, as you would imagine, when you press it "That was easy" comes joyfully out. My 6 year old in particular has become quite fond of the easy button and she presses it at the funniest times, like for example when I call her to eat a meal that I prepared and all she has to do is sit down and enjoy it. If you need to lighten up the mood in your house, I suggest making your way to Staples for your own easy button.

 Staples' Laptops (selection and sales always changing)

Disclosure, Staples provided me with a Toshiba Laptop and Easy Button for my review. All words and content ideas in this post are my own. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Reading Food Labels, Do Americans Have The Right That Consumers Have In 64 Countries? Labeling GMO's, A Debate.

This is a great informative news segment: My favorite part of the video is when the representative of the grocery industry says consumers don't need to know if a product contains GMO's because they are safe and it's just a confusing label (as we would assume that makes them unsafe). I will follow up his statement with this, why as consumers do we need to know juice comes from concentrate? That's a label that is in place, do we assume concentrate is bad for our health?

Personally I want to know if the food I was about to eat was injected with foreign proteins in a laboratory and treated with high levels of toxic chemicals. Let's not confuse our RIGHT TO KNOW with chemical companies bottom line or their ability to buy elections and legislation. Currently our system puts corporations before people and the lack of information available to consumers leaves us feeling confused. While we believe the USDA is protecting us, it's appalling to find out that they don't even conduct tests on the safety of GMO's, but rather allow companies to submit their own tests. WHAT? Let that rattle your brain a bit.

A label is not a burden, but rather a tool to best educate us as a consumer. Why is a label such a threat to the chemical companies that produce our food? That seems to be the multimillion dollar question that our generation is facing.


Monday, July 1, 2013

How Many? Just One, At The Bar. Dining Solo at Pizzeria Locale Boulder.

Rather foolishly I assumed Pizzeria Locale wouldn't be crowded on a Sunday evening. I had barely thrown the parking brake in the truck, when the crowd loitering on the sidewalk in front of Locale caught my eye. A beautiful sign of summer is seeing the patio door fully retracted, allowing the most magical wafts of the union of dough, sauce, and cheese from their glorious wood fired oven outside, gracing the passersby. I may have stepped off of the sidewalk to avoid kids on bicycles, a few leashed dogs, and adults chatting away, gathered along the iron railing before arriving at the front door. I immediately scanned the bar to see if there was any space available before the host could even welcome me.

Good Evening, how many? 

Just one. I'll take the pizza bar. 

Tonight I was drawn to the pizza bar seating, one piece of glass separating production from consumption, work from pleasure. Tap water filled my glass, my first Limoncello Spritz arrived shortly after, followed by the Mercato (seasonal salad), and the Maiale with a second Limoncello Spritz. Menu here. My eyes were busy watching the chefs at work. Effortless movements of the pizzaiolo's hands back and forth gently opens the dough before it reaches the marble counter, another chef evenly fills a spoonful of sauce onto each perfected round dough, another set of hands brings in the cheese, toppings, and  a simple twirl of olive oil.  The flow is almost rhythmic as the same hands work together to swiftly place the dough on a wooden peel, while his other half gently moves it into the hot Steffano Ferrara, first in front almost like a gentle coaxing, then in back to the hottest point with a 180 flip in between, then it's removed to a small rounded shelf just outside the oven opening, but the pie isn't quite ready to be served, it's swooped up on a metal peel and floated inside the oven for one last touch of perfection. It's those small details, like the swift return to the oven that make Locale brilliant. From hands on the dough to the pie being placed on the counter for pick up is simply a matter of minutes. Tonight I make no attempts at conversation with the pizzaiolo, as the restaurant is bustling, although I do allow my eyes and smile to convey my gratitude. The music is loud enough that no one can hear my audible moan, it happens every time. There's just something about their Neapolitan pies that make me swoon. Every time I walk through the door at Locale, I seem to be swept away to another world. 

I rarely dine alone, but when I do, I enjoy every moment of a leisurely meal at Pizzeria Locale. 


Friday, June 28, 2013

Catamaran Resort and Spa: Our Perfect San Diego Beach Family Vacation

Everyday I recognize how incredibly fortunate we are to live in Boulder, Colorado. Just blocks away from our home are the Rocky Mountains. The sunrises and sunsets are so often breathtaking and caught during the simplest moments, such as walking out of the grocery store or weeding my garden, they often stop me in my tracks! I truly love living in Colorado, but have to be honest, I am drawn to the beach and ocean for family vacations. Trips to the beach feeds our soul as a family, it gives us so much opportunity to bond, relax, and feel carefree.

By spring's arrival, my online research into a destination for our family vacation in June was in full swing. Our thoughts were literally all over the map, we weighed out the pros and cons of foreign country beach escapes to the hurricane season of the Gulf Coast, which spanned from vacation rentals by owner to all inclusive resorts. I started to feel overwhelmed by our research, travel websites were distracting me from what we really wanted in a vacation, so of course we came up with a list of vacation priorities!

Beach Vacation Top Priorities:
* Hotel/house/condo walking distance to the beach
* Close to $1,000 airfare for our family of 4 or potential road trip destination
* Thriving local community with cultural and educational activities for the family
* Great restaurants and Farmers markets (to balance cooking and eating out)
* Kitchen option for cooking 
* View of the ocean would be a major plus
* Pool for the girls
* Great weather
* Budget friendly

Quite the tall order for a vacation, isn't it? 

Mission Bay looking North to the Pacific Ocean
(click to enlarge)
Enter the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego, California. It may have been their live webcam that sealed the deal for me (link at the top right of their home page). Before we even booked our stay, I checked in a few times a day to see how the weather was looking. Then, I started to long for a glimpse of the webcam perspective in real life. The Catamaran has a really comprehensive website with many videos that features highlights of the property, which made it stand out to me during our research. 

We arrived at the Catamaran on a Sunday afternoon, to our delight our room was ready for checkin an hour earlier than we anticipated. Our room was a North View Studio on the top floor of the tower, which had beautiful views of the ocean all the way to LaJolla (even from both full sized beds). Our studio included a small kitchen with a full range and an apartment sized refrigerator, not the typical mini refrigerators most hotels offer, and fully stocked kitchenware for our family of four. We also had a pull out sofa, which was perfect for the girls; they sleep so much sounder when they have their own beds. I don't think we were in the room for 10 minutes before we were hopping in our swimsuits to hit the pool! 

While on paper the Catamaran seemed like a perfect location, we were delighted to find out it was more conveniently located than we anticipated. There were some days we didn't even get into our car because the Catamaran is so perfectly located. We literally crossed one street to get to the beach, a grocery store was a couple of blocks north, shops and restaurants conveniently surround the Catamaran. Once we were at the beach, if we turned north we landed on Pacific Beach and if we headed south it was Mission Beach. The ocean was warmer than we expected and we truly lucked out shell hunting, finding many intact sand dollars on carefree strolls. Sometimes we didn't feel up for lugging our stuff across the street, so we would hang out poolside or at the beach on Mission Bay. Just steps from the hotel is Mission Bay where there are lovely lounge chairs, water sport equipment, and dining right along the beach. Mission Bay is clearly a local's destination as through out the day we always saw people running, walking, and cycling the paved path that follows bay beach. The Catamaran provides Bay Beach, Ocean Beach, and poolside experiences. I'm not even sure where to go with that, other than it's amazing! The Catamaran has beautiful grounds, lush landscaping, and all sorts of unexpected wildlife hanging on the property. We have a parakeet for our family pet, so the girls were immediately drawn to the rare birds that are lucky enough to call Catamaran home. One night stands out in my mind, we had just visited Sea World for the afternoon, it was late and we were all tired and hungry. We walked into the Atoll right off the lobby, were taken care of immediately, and our dinner arrived so quickly we avoided the typical meltdowns that we would encounter after a long day with two hungry girls. If you are traveling with children to the Catamaran, they will adore the kid's menu, I promise! 

A glimpse into our experience!
The driving force behind choosing San Diego and ultimately the Catamaran was that I was looking for a destination that we would want to return to in the future. While we love to travel to new places and a variety of experiences, there's something that speaks to my heart when finding a place to return to year after year. It fills me with delight to think about becoming so familiar with a vacation destination that you feel like a local. With just a short flight and a very manageable road trip from Denver, the beaches of San Diego are where we are drawn. To top it off there are so many things to do and see in San Diego, I have created a new list of Must-Do's for our next trip. My words can't quite capture the joy I experienced while staying at the Catamaran, it exceeded my expectations trifold, and I am already longing to return.

My thoughts are currently focused on, what is December like in San Diego...

Related Links:
 Catamaran reservations, they offer many deals directly with local ticket packages!
Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa on Facebook
San Diego Tourism website, very comprehensive resource
Disclosure, Our trip to the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa was paid for by our family. I was given a discounted rate on our room. Our experience is one I would reflect upon regardless. All words are my own. I was not compensated for this post. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Inside My Cocoon {with audio}

 (Listen to my read through)

I live in a cocoon with walls miles upon miles deep. While one's imagination may quickly wonder how it feels to live in darkness, trapped tightly inside grey, flaking, and papered walls, I implore you to understand the walls of my cocoon are translucent. My cocoon is filled with sunshine and happiness, it's filled with displays of affection and endless possibility, it's filled with the goodness I have consciously created. There is no limit to the people that make their way on the inside and I am often humbled by those that join me here. I see flowers on the foothills of the mountains, green rolling hills just simply embracing the rock filled mountains that shoot into the turquoise blue sky. From the summit,  one may be lucky enough to see a smooth sand filled coast mingling with the ocean waves, in and out. In and out. As the mind often begins to run away in splendor, do not imagine a place of perfection inside this cocoon, that simply doesn't exist. Rather, imagine a place better than one known in the past, a place that has come from good intentions.

On occasion, I reach my hand up and find little deviations in the walls, that on most days I forget are even surrounding me. A few little pock marks have been known to give way to cracks. It's fairly common knowledge that cracks are prone to leaks. Sometimes a drip hits my cheek unexpectedly and I look up, but don't see the source. It takes me back, but not quite far enough to lose my footing, I carry on. Then on the most unexpected of days, a storm cloud settles just above one of the cracks I absentmindedly pushed out of my line of vision. Endless scores of debris pound through the crack and even though I feel a circle of love surround me, the pain comes sweeping in with all force and glory knocking me to the ground. I curl up into a ball in search of comfort.

When the sun rises tomorrow, it will be time to patch the hole. Most importantly it will be time to remain constant on the path I've chosen, for out of the pain will come the strength to begin anew.