We could be a WHOLE PARADE

One of the things that Karen talks about a lot is “Falling in Like.” You should fall in Like before you fall in Love. Love is important. Love is incredible and amazing. Love makes the world go ’round. Love makes your life like a movie, aerial shots and symphonic score and all. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Love.

But Like, well, Like is essential. Like is critical. Like is what will get you through the next 20, 30, 40, 50, years. Like is what gets you kisses when you first wake up in the morning. Like is what gets you through nineteen credit hours a semester. Like is what gets the house clean. Like is what gets the laundry done. Like is what gets you a two-foot-long straw when you have the flu and you’re so sick that you can’t lift up the glass to your lips and you just want to hang your head over the side of the bed and sip ice water from the glass on the floor. Like is what cleans up the house after an epic party. Like is what takes the dog out in the middle of the night in the middle of winter. Like chit-chats with relatives at parties. Like unloads the car after a trip to the grocery store.

Like is what makes all of the little moments even better. Like is what starts inside jokes. Like is what creates a language that no one else understands but the two of you. Being in Like is what will make every moment of your life together FUN. Like makes Love bigger and better than it is on its own.

by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember

When I think something is important
you think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
Hah-hah!
I like you because you know where I’m ticklish
And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you
Boy are you ever silly
I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly
Maybe day after tomorrow
Maybe never
Too late, it’s a quarter past silly
Sometimes we don’t say a word
We snurkle under fences
We spy secret places
If I am a goofus on the roofus hollering my head off
You are one too
If I pretend I am drowning, you pretend you are saving me
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump
HOORAY

That’s because you really like me
You really like me, don’t you
And I really like you back
And you like me back and I like you back
And that’s the way we keep on going every day

If you go away, then I go away too
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
You don’t just say Well see you around sometime, bye
I like you a lot because of that
If I go away, I send you a postcard too
And I like you because if we go away together
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me

And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
You want to think about things
It takes time

I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t
They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose

I like you because if I think I am going to throw up
then you are really sorry
You don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that
You say, maybe it was something you ate
You say, the same thing happened to me one time
And the same thing did

If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
If I find four, I give you two
If we only find three, we keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don’t

If I break my arm, and if you break your arm too
Then it’s fun to have a broken arm
I tell you about mine, you tell me about yours
We are both sorry
We write our names and draw pictures
We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too

I like you because I don’t know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then

I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do
So many reasons
On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
On the fifth of July, I like you too
If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE
See what I mean?

Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That’s how it would happen every time
I don’t know why
I guess I don’t know why I really like you
Why do I like you
I guess I just like you
I guess I just like you because I like you.

The Story of Me and Karen

I was chatting with my Auntie Brenda a few weeks ago about love and life and what we know for sure and she asked me to send her my relationship notes from Karen Kindred’s Dating & Relationship workshops. Auntie Brenda’s lovely daughters go to The Juilliard School in New York and she and her equally lovely son are moving to Philadelphia, where he will be attending the Curtis Institute in the fall. Her kids are insanely talented, articulate, poised, smart, spiritual, hard-working, thoughtful…in short – amazing. They are growing up and starting to date and I’m always happy to share what I have learned with anyone who expresses even a mild interest!

In looking at my workshop notes I found that without context and some back-story, they don’t really make sense. So I told Brenda that I would share everything that I have learned here on the blog.

I thought that rather than diving straight into it I should begin at the beginning. So this is the beginning. At least, it’s the beginning of me and Karen.

I got married at 20 years old and was married for 12 years. I think if I am being completely honest, I knew before we were even married that we shouldn’t have moved so fast. That we should have dated longer. That I didn’t quite comprehend the commitment that I was making. That I should say “no”. But I didn’t really know how to say “no”. At the time I didn’t know how to stop the train that left the station three weeks after I met My X.

And every year on our anniversary I would tell myself “I will give it one more year.” And at some point I realized that I had become…well the best description is “comfortably numb.” (Aren’t some song lyrics just brilliant? I mean, don’t you just want to give Roger Waters and David Gilmour a big hug for that one? ). Actually, I can pinpoint the EXACT moment of my life I realized that I had become comfortably numb, that I wanted that BIG.WILD.RIDICULOUS love that I’m always talking about and that there was no looking back. But that is the topic for another post. 

So there I was, twelve years later, soon to be divorcee (Isn’t that just the most awful, awful word?) I had moved home. Not just home as in back to my home town. Home. Literally. My stuff was in a storage unit and I was sleeping in my parent’s basement. I was sick from the stress. Literally. I had a staph infection that had been plaguing me for weeks and at that point none of the doctors that I had seen could figure out how to stop it. I was trying in vain to stay friends with My X while we ended our marriage (Note: That didn’t work. Not even a little bit.) I had hung all of my hopes, my whole heart and my future on My Sweetness…and…well…that’s another story too. Let’s just say that I didn’t know what to do. Literally. So I cried. A lot. And shopped. A lot. And got a nose job.

My Dad was telling my tragic tale to one of his clients, who had just gone through a divorce and she said that I should call Karen Kindred. Karen was her therapist during her divorce and she said that Karen changed her life. She also said that Karen only took referrals. So my Dad, being the no-nonsense action oriented fellow that he is, called up and got me an appointment straightaway.

Karen asked me if I would commit to seeing her once a week, for at least a year. She said that if I did the work and if I changed my thinking, that I could change my life. She was pragmatic and practical. She was direct. She also didn’t put up with any self indulgent bullshit. She scared me just a little bit. In fact, I called her “Scary Karen” for quite a while.

One time I was very upset in one of our sessions. I was worried that My X was going to commit suicide (he told me before I left that he was not planning to make it to his next birthday and I had very good reason to believe him.) I was worried that he was lonely. I was worried that there wasn’t anyone to take care of him. Karen stopped me mid sentence and said “Have you ever stopped to think that maybe he’s happier without YOU?”

Karen was awesome.

I don’t think I can properly articulate how much Karen has helped me. She provided the tools, the map, the path, the infrastructure, whatever you want to call it and I did what she told me to do. Week by week. And some weeks were better than others. And sometimes I still fall. But fall down seven times, get up eight, right?

I saw Karen as a client for about 15 months. Weekly for a year, then bi-weekly for a few months. After we ended our last formal session, Karen asked me if I’d like to help her with some workshops that she was putting together. She wanted to package up some of her wisdom from thirty years as a relationship therapist and bring it to the masses in an affordable way. So for the past 18 months I’ve been working with her on these workshops and continuing to learn and grow as we spend more time together.

The work we did has changed all of my relationships – with my family, with the people that I work with, with my friends, and most importantly, with Alek. When Alek and I met I was shattered. And I learned along the way as our relationship developed. And thank God he hung in there with me.

Alek and I just finished a four week workshop series with Karen and ten other couples at various stages in their relationships. At the end of the workshops, all Alek and I could talk about is how strong our relationship is and how we never want to lose what we have learned from Karen. So I suppose writing all of this down will be a good reference guide for the two of us as well.

Karen’s approach is peppered with this pithy statements and lessons that I will never forget. And those are the lessons that I will share with you. I can’t take credit for these lessons. They are Karen’s. They have helped me and continue to help me and I am infinitely grateful for Karen and what she has brought to my life.

Big.Wild.Ridiculous love is possible. It is all around you.   
A Big.Wild.Ridiculous LIFE is possible!

This I know for sure. Karen showed me the way.

Karen Kindred, L.C.S.W.

Karen L. Kindred L.C.S.W. has over twenty-nine years of experience as a relationship and marriage counselor, personal motivational coach and individual therapist.

Karen has done extensive work with individuals in all types and phases of relationships. For the last ten years Karen has documented an increasingly common trend among her clients: people need basic tools to help architect better relationships.

Karen holds bachelors degree in psychology and a masters degree in social work from the University of Utah.

(P.S. Tell Karen I referred you. 😉

Join the Coterie!

I am so so excited that Paper Coterie is finally here! This is the long time work of my friend Tiffany and the genius people at her company. I have worked with this team for a long time in the commercial print world, and they are taking all of that on-demand-custom-commercial print expertise and bringing it to all of us. Maybe those of you that aren’t direct marketing nerds don’t really get excited about on-demand-custom-one-off-commercial-printing so I’ll just say this, the stuff that they do there is VERY cool and special and now it’s available to all of us!!

I fell in love with this website when Tiff asked us for feedback on their vision and mission when they were in their initial concepting stages. It just made me feel all warm and fuzzy and smiley. I just knew it was for someone like me. Sometimes when you’re not married and you don’t have kids and you’re not very crafty, you feel like your life might not be worth documenting, you know? The lovely, clever, unique designs at Paper Coterie feel like ME. Like, my life is important and special and worth writing down and sharing.

I ordered my first custom journal this week. I just love a blank journal, don’t you? All that possibility. I ordered it on my birthday and I customized it with MY year (which is actually 2011 – 2012 because the calendar New Year is now dead to me) and MY New Year’s Resolutions on the back. How cool is that?

But the best part was when it arrived today. Oh, y’all, the packaging!!! The book was wrapped in this lovely glossy dimensional envelope with an embossed logo on the outside. It just makes you want to gently run your fingertips over it. And then, a surprise! The logo was repeated in a pattern printed on the inside. Double sided printing? Be still my beating heart. Oh how I love beautiful wrappers. Yum. (Sorry for the bad photos. Look, this isn’t a photo blog OK?)

Oh, and a necklace to boot! 
“Hello, New Member.
Thank you for joining Paper Coterie – a close circle of friends who are passionate about documenting the beauty of life well lived. 
Welcome to the circle!”
I can’t wait to buy more. I’ll try to refrain from giving everyone an All Natalie All Year 2012 Calendar for Christmas this year. I really will try.

Am I The Only One…

…that is obsessed with Cee Lo Green? Ka-Pow! He is one groovy cat. I seriously cannot stop listening to Bright Lights Bigger City. Seriously. I’ve listened to it like 100 times this week. That’s probably an exaggeration. 99 times.

So if you see me having a full on dance party in my car, well, that’s why. I need some of these sunglasses to do it up right though, no?

This Pretty Much Sums It Up

This is Alek the night before his paramedic final. I love how his finger is still on the mousepad. Is it mean that I took a picture? He’s just worked so damn hard…and it was so damn funny! 1,080 clinical hours to go this semester. (In case you’re wondering how intensive the clinical semester is, there are ~2,088 hours in a work year, and he’ll do 1,080 hours in 14 weeks.)

Happy New Year!!

Today is my birthday. My 35th birthday. 35th. That’s 35. Yep…Thir-Tee-Five.

For some reason that’s seeming like a really big milestone. The quote from Mom’s birthday card summed it up nicely:


“Thirty-Five is a very attractive age; London society is full of women who of their own free choice remained Thirty-Five for years.” — Oscar Wilde

Janaan’s card also summed it up nicely:

“Happy 35th Birthday! Wow. 35 years old. If this were the 1700s, you’d be dead.”

I have been thinking A LOT about what my New Year’s resolutions should be for this year. Oh yeah, and I’ve decided that I don’t like January 1st to be the start of the New Year. I mean really, you kick things off with Halloween and ride the sugar/starch/alcohol/turkey train for eight weeks and just when the days are at their coldest and bleakest and you’re at your most pasty, you’re supposed to get inspired. I don’t buy it. I’m off January 1st. I’m onto April 18th. So there. Today is my New Year.

But I digress. THE POINT IS: Resolutions.

After MUCH consideration, I have settled on the following New Year’s Resolutions (NYRs). There are only three. I worked for this guy once that said that people can’t really wrap their heads around more than three objectives, and I tend to agree. I personally like to just have a single NYR that I can really focus on, but what can I say, I like to raise the bar. Let’s make it three shall we?

NYR 1: Live life wholehearted.

I have been obsessing for the last few months about how Americans, and especially the American news media, has cultivated a culture of fear. Around Thanksgiving I discovered the song “Afraid of Everyone” by The National. The song is perfection. It is gut wrenching and gorgeous and I absolutely love it. It says everything I want to say.

So I started thinking that I wanted my New Year’s resolution to have something to do with basically saying a big “F**k You” to the fear mongers. I was not going to let fear take over MY life.

But the problem is that I am also a big believer in the Law of Attraction. Like attracts like. What you put your energy into expands. And I don’t really want to put all of my energy into hating fear, you know? That doesn’t exactly seem productive. In fact, it seems downright depressing.

The other problem is that I also truly believe in people. I believe that we are capable of oh so much more than we think we are.

Oh, and I absolutely believe in LOVE. Big, wild, ridiculous amounts of love.

Then a few weeks ago my lovely friend Tiffany sent me this link from a TED conference – Brene Brown on Vulnerability.

And that’s when I figured it out. It’s not about being against fear. It’s about living your life WHOLEHEARTED. It’s about BIG.WILD.RIDICULOUS. amounts of love. And in living your life wholehearted, you are going to have to put yourself out there. Big time. And you are going to get hurt. And you might get hurt big time. But it will be worth it, because without it, there is no hope for connection – with yourself or with others.

We are imperfect. We are wired for struggle. But we are worthy of love and belonging.
What we do has an affect on people. 
We must let ourselves be seen, deeply seen.
We must love with our whole hearts, even though there is no guarantee.
We must practice gratitude and joy, even in moments of terror. To feel vulnerable means I’m alive.
We are enough. When we believe that we stop screaming and start listening. We are kinder and gentler to each other, and to ourselves.

I finally understand why I should run towards the fear.

NR 2: Be the magic. 

This year, I will have been doing what I do for a living for 16 years. And I feel like all of the hard work that I have done has led me into the most incredible job opportunity I’ve ever had. I am on this team of people that are smart and talented and driven and way, WAY ahead of where most teams are that do what I do. I have oh so much to learn from all of these people.

Our team motto this year is to Be the Magic. This was said in jest, but it has caught on. We are DOERS. We MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.

I love it. I’m SO on board. I think this could be the most productive year of my career, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am about it.


NR 3: Love the skin I’m in.

I have had the same body pretty much my entire adult life. I am not grossly overweight, but I’m not exactly skinny. I have a maximum weight cap that I will allow myself to get to before I totally freak out and crash diet my way down into a safety zone.

Some year’s I’ve definitely looked better than others, but I’ve really never been happy with my body. I don’t wish for some body that I used to have either. I mean, the 19 year old me was certainly thinner, but not really healthier.

This year, I want to do everything I possibly can to love the skin that I am in. To have the best body possible for me. Will I look like I should be on the cover of a magazine? Not a chance. But that’s not what I’m after. I want to learn how this amazing machine works. I want to understand what I need to do to make it last for a long long time. I want to be able to look in the mirror and say “alrighty then, well done.”

So there you have it. New Years: 2011-2012. I have felt so incredibly loved and blessed today. I am the happiest I’ve ever been and I cannot wait to see what this New Year brings.

All My Love,

Natalie (Age 35. Yes. 35.)

Seven

Today I ran the Salt Lake Half Marathon with my friends Tiffany and Lisa. I think this is my 7th Half Marathon (hmmm, let’s see 1. Salt Lake I | 2. Las Vegas | 3. Surf City I | 4. Salt Lake II | 5. Halloween | 6. Surf City II, yep, it’s the 7th).

I don’t even really like to run. I think it’s probably offensive to people who actually train for me to call myself a “runner”. When the winner of the marathon essentially “laps” you and you see his body moving the way that God intended it to move, that perfect stride, looking utterly effortless…well now, THAT’S a runner.

I’ve had so many people ask me why I do this, this crazy, half marathon running business, I thought about it the whole day. I thought about it as I woke up at 5:30 with just four hours of sleep. I thought about it as we had our nervous pee in the steaming Honey Buckets before the start. I thought about it as I felt my 2nd toe blisters coming in. I thought about it as I walked most of the “suck mile” (that’s mile 11-12 for me). I thought about it as I made that final push at the .1-mile-to-go-so-let’s-run-so-hard-you-feel-like-you’re-gonna-puke-because-you-can-see-the-finish-line-and-there-is-a-medal-and-a-piece-of-delicious-fruit-waiting-for-you-there. (P.S. as I sit here on the couch, dreading the thought of moving, staring down the barrel of my 35th birthday, I’m officially acknowledging that runner or no, I really am going to need to start training for these things.)

This is why I do it.

  • I do it for Lisa. Because Lisa inspired me. She inspires me to do a lot of things. She’s amazing and wonderful and I never would have started doing this without her.
  • I do it for Tiffany. Because I would not have gotten to know her like this if I didn’t run. She is smart and funny and gorgeous and I’m so happy she is a part of my life.
  • I do it for the medal. Because it is an accomplishment. And that feels good dammit.
  • I do it for the same reason that I choose the stairs instead of the escalator. I do it because I can. I do it to thank God for this incredible body with these legs that move me and this beating heart and these big lungs and this gift of health that I have. I do it to feel ALIVE. This is my testimony. 
  • I do it to watch the sun rise. I do it to smell the wet rain on the pavement. I do it to see the world from a different perspective. I do it to be outside.
  • I do it because it’s fun. I do it to run down State Street, or the Pacific Coast Highway, or Las Vegas Boulevard. I do it for an excuse to crank up my favorite songs and go inside my head for a couple of hours. I do it to just let go and think about whatever free-flows in there. Good memories, bad memories, day dreams and fantasies. It’s cool in there, inside my own head.

Mostly, I do it to belong, in some small way, to this loving community full of weirdos like me that for whatever reason, run. I do it because everyone gets up early, gets to the start line, and does something good for themselves, oh and pays a hefty fee to clean up after their messes (I do try to hit those garbage cans at the water stops, I really do) and raises money for charity at the same time. And no one is competitive. No one makes you feel fat or stupid or ugly or like you’re not enough. They’re just happy to be there and happy that you’re there. No one acts like an A-hole. There is so much love and encouragement. And we’re talking about tens of thousands of people here.

I do it because it makes me believe in humanity and what we can do if we just put our minds to it.

My Personal Idea of Hell

In my opinion, if hell exists, it’s not some mystical fire filled inferno with half man/half goats guarding the gates. I think that if you get sent to hell, you’re going to be stuck in the least desirable situation you can imagine…FOREVER.

I’ve always considered my own idea of hell as spending eternity on some kind of freighter or fishing vessel out in the middle of a freezing, stormy sea.You know, like the kind of boat that Hollywood likes to use as a backdrop for terrorist plot lines or say, on any of the boats on Deadliest Catch.

A couple of weeks ago I watched an episode of Our America on OWN where Lisa Ling spends three days at a Christian Faith Healer Revival. And that’s when I decided there was a new form of hell I hadn’t quite considered: spending eternity in a soulless hotel ballroom watching entitled-white-Christian-twenty-somethings and their steroid-junkie-Affliction-T-Shirt-wearing-prophets praying…and preying upon people that had lost all hope.

Last night Alek and I got all snuggled in on the couch to watch TV and for some reason ended up watching Deadliest Catch until 1:00 in the morning. I started wavering on my new Faith Healer Revival hell – maybe a cozy religious revival hotel ballroom WOULD be better than an Alaska king crab boat. It looked so nauseating (I mean, those waves never stop do they??), and cold, and fish-gut-y, and cramped and scary and dangerous and and those waves never stop to they??

We had a quick discussion about it and in the end, both decided that the boat was the lesser of the two evils:

1. You’re surrounded by the vast beauty and spectacle of nature
2. You’re making shit-tons of money
3. Free King Crab.
4. You develop a bond with your crew mates that most people will probably never experience in their lives
5. You get to drink alcohol

Oh yeah, and you get to have a bad-ass Johnny Cash song as your theme.

Shazam!

I have yet to find any app for any mobile device that is as cool as Shazam. We were at dinner on Monday night and chatting about this and that and I suddenly picked up on the song playing in the background. It sounded SO LOVELY and SSSSOOOO FAMILIAR. I stopped Alek mid-sentence (Yes, I know, RUDE! But what if I missed finding out what the song was? What if I never heard it again? What if this was my one big chance? He understood.), got my nerd on, whipped out the old iPhone and Shazam! It’s a cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop by Jose Gonzalez. 90 seconds later it was mine! Thanks Shazam!

Teardrop is indeed SO LOVELY.  It is is one of those songs that is perfection. It’s dark and mysterious and sexy. It gives me the chills. It makes me ache.  (P.S. Set up a Massive Attack radio station on Pandora to listen to while you work. You won’t be sorry.)

The Jose Gonzalez cover couldn’t be more different than the original – simple, raw, acoustic – but that same melody and lyric just stirs up my soul at the core.

Love, love is a verb
Love is a doing word
Fearless on my breath
Gentle impulsion
Shakes me, makes me lighter
Fearless on my breath

Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my breath

Nine night of matter
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath
Black flowers blossom
Fearless on my breath

Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my…

Water is my eye
Most faithful mirror
Fearless on my breath
Teardrop on the fire
Of a confession
Fearless on my breath
Most faithful mirror
Fearless on my breath

Teardrop on the fire
Fearless on my breath

You’re stumbling a little
You’re stumbling a little

Dream Big

If there were ever a time to dare,
To make a difference
To embark on something worth doing
It is now.
Not for any grand cause, necessarily –
But for something that tugs at your heart
Something that is worth your aspiration
Something that is your dream.
You owe it to yourself
To make your days count.
Have fun. Dig deep. Stretch.

Dream big.

Know, though,
That things worth doing
Seldom come easy,
There will be times when you want to
Turn around
Pack it up and call it quits
Those times tell you
That you are pushing yourself
And that you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Persist.

Because with an idea,
Determination and the right tools,
You can do great things.
Let your instincts, your intellect
And let your heart guide you.

Trust.

Believe in the incredible power
Of the human mind
Of doing something that makes a difference
Of working hard
Of laughing and hoping
Of lasting friends
Of all the things that will cross your path

Next year.

The start of something new
Brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible
There is only one you
And you will pass this way but once.

Do it right.

–Anonymous
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