Life is short.

It’s strange to think that it’s been two years today since Nick died. It’s also amazing how a few months spent learning from someone can be the catalyst to completely change your course. Two years ago I worked at a job that I hated. It made me crazy, broke my spirit, and sucked my soul. I was in a master’s degree program that I thought I should be doing. Because who says no to free tuition? Because climbing the ‘career’ ladder meant more education. These days I wouldn’t touch that ladder with a ten-foot pole. If Nick hadn’t been a professor to really encourage creative license in his classroom, I’m really not sure I would’ve eventually found the courage to be creative with my work in my life.

After losing his wife to an aggressive ovarian cancer several years prior, Nick had fully embraced the motto “Life is short.” The view that if you aren’t doing what makes you happy, in your school, in your projects, in your work, in your LIFE, then why are you doing it? I listened to this clip again today, and hearing his voice it’s as clear as it was yesterday. His humor and warmth in the face of something as terrible as losing a spouse was a gift. And it was that which made him such a wonderful teacher.

His story continues to reinforce to me that you really never know what will happen. You don’t know what hand you will be dealt. And there is no reason to spend your life doing things that don’t serve you, or spend your time with people who don’t make you better. 

Two years later, I can’t say that I have it all figured out. But I can say that if it wasn’t for those few months spent in Nick’s class, I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am now.

His abrupt death really allowed me to put everything into perspective and to reassess what I was doing and why I was doing it. It allowed me to leave the job I hated, leave the master’s program that wasn’t for me, and while I had a short pit stop in another awful job, it allowed me to see clearly that starting a family was what I really wanted. I didn’t want to keep banging my head against these awful jobs because it felt like I “should.” Or we felt like we needed to wait till we reached whatever financial milestone. We didn’t know how we would make it work, but we found a way.

Not to mention, I never would’ve met my dear friend Lori whose passion for women’s experiences in childbirth would become a catalyst for the career path that I am now on. Little did I know, sitting in that dusty classroom each Tuesday evening listening to her research about childbirth would plant a seed for my own passion. I am SO thankful for her and SO proud that she will be finishing up her master’s degree in communication next week!

Lately, I’ve been feeling pulled in a million different directions. Trying to be a good mother, trying to work on my childbirth educator certification, trying to plan for the holidays, trying to get into an exercise routine again, trying to be a good piano teacher, trying to launch a podcast, to blog, to write, to be a good wife, friend and daughter. TRYING. Trying to work on Clare’s baby book and first year photo album. Trying to keep socializing, getting out, doing new things, doing things for Clare. Trying to Balance. It. ALL. And sometimes I really feel like I’m failing at all of it. Like I’m one teething meltdown short of a massive breakdown.

But on the anniversary of Nick’s death, I’m promising myself to take a look at what the priorities in my life are and giving those the energy they deserve. Because as Nick taught us, life is WAY too freaking short to waste energy on the things that don’t matter. As we head into the November, I am motivated to be intentional with my time, my thoughts and my actions this holiday season. To say no when I need to. To vastly cut down on my use of social media, the mindless checking, the time wasting. To sometimes let the laundry pile up or the dust wait a day in favor of playing scrabble with Chris while Clare naps or taking her for a walk and enjoying the crisp fall air. To making time to be creative, with crafting or writing. To making progress on long term projects and goals…a little bit at a time.

To unplugging more…

To meditating more consistently…

To letting go of perfect to embrace being happy.

And I’m sure I will struggle with this Every. Single. Day.

But by trying I am honoring what Nick taught me.

Nick, your story is a constant reminder of how precious time is, and I am so thankful to have known you.

~~~~~~

If you would like to check out the book Nick wrote with his wife as they dealt with her terminal cancer diagnosis. It’s called Cancer and Death, a Love Story in Two Voices and can be found here. It really is beautiful.

Also, here is a music video of a song he wrote for her and this is him singing it when he scattered her ashes in Fort Bragg.

And if you would like to read the post I wrote shortly after Nick’s death, you can find that here.

PS – I will be participating in Allison’s NoExNo – a riff off of of NaNoWriMo – but instead of writing a novel in a month, it’s committing to ‘no excuses’ on a goal,habit, lifestyle change, etc for a month. Join me?

Reverb September: That time we marched in a blizzard….

In light of football season, September’s Reverb prompt was to talk about your favorite “game time” memory. I think some people are surprised when I tell them that I actually do like football. I’m far from the nagging wife lamenting her husband’s football obsession. Chris also isn’t that husband. He loves his niners and he does fantasy, but he’s not obsessed. And I think the reason football always has a soft spot in my heart is because of marching band in high school. Which is also funny because I didn’t particularly enjoy having my whole Saturdays tied down during the entire fall. But overall I really do look back on those days fondly. It bonded so many of my band friends and I together, spending those long days staring out at the field.

Plus it didn’t hurt that this was our view!

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I think I’d have to say my most memorable game time memory would have been the year in high school where we STILL marched despite the pouring snowstorm that was raging. I wish I could find pictures of that day – I’m sure some people have them. But the snow was literally SO bad that we could hardly see. I’m not sure how we were playing, or if most of us even were. One of my friends lost his shoe. People were slipping all over the place. My guess is that it totally was unsafe. But hey – that’s what you did when you grow up in a snowy mountain town. We man up and do whatever needs to be done…even in blizzards.

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Friday Favorites: Fall

I had a whole list of blog ideas that are different “favorites” lists. So I’m planning to post these favorites on Fridays, because who doesn’t like a good alliteration? Hoping to be back posting for Motherhood Mondays soon also. Traveling, illness and some other not so fun things have kept me from blogging, writing or doing much of anything besides just surviving lately. So here we go: 5 of my favorite things about Fall.

  • Apple Hill – Nothing says fall quite like a trip to Apple Hill. Usually we try and go in September, but this year we made it up there on October 1st. Going on a weekday is so much better than a weekend. Unless you like traffic, crowds and too much noise, that is. Between my anxiety, having a 7 month old in tow and Chris’s aversion to people acting stupid in crowds, this was the way for us to go. Tips – go to Rainbow Orchards for Apple Cider and Cider Donuts & stop at Heyday Café in Placerville for lunch. If you are not time limited by your daughter’s nap schedule, also check out the wineries. They are beautiful and offer free wine tasting.

 

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  • Pumpkin Patches/Carving – Sacramento Sidetracks just released an awesome list of all the patches and fall festivals to do in Sacramento. If you aren’t local, just consult Google and I’m sure you’ll find a bunch of events in your neck of the woods. We enjoyed Dave’s Pumpkin Patch last year and will probably hit that one up again. We love carving them too! It’s been a tradition Chris and I have done ever since we started dating, though I can’t seem to find the picture of our pumpkins from 2007. Which is too bad, because my friend Annie joined us that year and her pumpkin was made up to look like Chris, complete with stringy pumpkin innards as his beard. (She’s now an environmental lawyer, but back in our early college days was also an art minor. 😉 )

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  • Seasonal Foods – Hello Pumpkin and Apple!   While I haven’t drank Starbucks in nearly two years – mainly because there are just so many really good coffee places here in Sacramento. (In fact we were just voted one of the top 10 cites for coffee snobs. Ha!) There is something about when the pumpkin spice latte appears on drink menus that signifies it’s REALLY fall and the start of the best time of the year! I’m planning to make this pumpkin oatmeal this week, and am eyeing a whole host of pumpkin concoctions on my Pinterest. Also – why do we only have things like thanksgiving dinner once a year? Last year, due to raging pregnancy cravings, Chris and I made our friends a full thanksgiving dinner WHILE we carved pumpkins in October. And it was amazing.
  • Scarves and Boots – Oh and leggings. Pretty much the best clothes EVER. I don’t think I can quite express how much I love being in a pair of comfy leggings with boots and a scarf. It is simply The. Best. If I lived somewhere cold, I would probably wear that year round.
  • Fall always feels like a beginning – Maybe it has something to do with school starting in the fall, but when the leaves change and the weather turns cool that feels so much more like a beginning than January 1st does. I think for me it also has to do with tradition. I’m realizing lately that a lot of the important things to me have to do with tradition. And a lot of what I want to pass on to Clare is different traditions that will stick with her as she grows up and has kids of her own. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, so rather than spew out a bunch of traditions and tradition ideas in this blog post, I think I will save it for a future post…or several. Especially as we go into the season filled with the most traditions of all! Fall and the Holidays.   So here’s to fall and the changes and beginnings and reflections that colder weather (hopefully SOON) will bring.

What are your favorite things about Fall?