my song.

The problem with life, is that at times my impulse to pretend everything is perfect, or close to it, is threatened almost daily. this somehow messes with my coziness. It is  difficult to wrestle with emotions, reality and everyday stuff when they can't be tidied up and tucked away.  in pretty labeled boxes. It messes with my head. It kicks me in the gut when I should be sleeping.

At times I can't make sense of a life woven together with threads of sadness. and huge loss. This existence complicates my bliss a little. As it should. It is even harder to process the thought of more to follow. I can't make it compute. I don't want to. Won't even try. These past few months I have woken up every day, thrilled to the ends that we who have stayed behind, have all celebrated another trip around the sun.

I know things have been a bit heavy around here lately. I think sometimes it must get that way before it can lighten up.  Certain things must be looked in the eye, stared down, before they’ll back off. Grief and sadness are like that. sorry. For the last 172 days, I have had to walk this earth, live my life, without my dad. he had been there my entire life. every single ding dang day. I had never been without him. But now my family is down one, and I am finding it hard to carry on without him. He was my core. My leader. He taught me how to laugh and how to make others laugh. He had a dry wit and magical laugh. I  can still hear it, and I pray I will never forget that sound. He was my knight in shining armor. It felt safer. with him there. I could never really picture life differently, life without him. I had no frame of reference. I didn't know what I didn't know.
But now I do, or I'm starting to.

I takes me down at times. But I’m coming up for air more often now. I know a lot of people really want me to lighten up. Thanks for not pushing it. Thank you for letting me be me. My whole life I’ve felt like maybe I’m just too sappy. All my feeling and thoughts and sadness and joy. right there on my sleeve. for the whole world to see. always. But that is the way I am. and I'm trying to let go. to live my life. lay his down. honor him. I am working really hard on this. I work it daily. minute by minute. try to understand all its complexity and beauty and pain. Life, however it’s done, is serious business. It’s hard work and can be completely confounding because people are involved. love is involved. it is all so beautiful. and mysterious. and broken. and unpredictable. and full of joy. I am still working on figuring it all out.

I'm just putting it out there, for all the smack I get about turning myself inside out. Most of my inside-outness is connected to my weaknesses. love. memories. and oh so many heart piercings. I am constantly reminded of how lucky I still am. I am blessed to have my precious handful of people who are in it with me. who will spend the better part of forever brainstorming impossibilities with me. Helping me with the now and thens. getting to the next and holding on to the favorites. Because, picking favorites has never been my strong suit.  In elementary school, it was my most-loathed assignment, right after pop quizzes. favorites? Favorite food left me stumped.  (sugar?)  Favorite colors, flummoxed.  (what is the color of the ocean in the morning when the first ray of sunshine hits it?)  Favorite movie or book"? Seriously? (still so many more to come.) Favorite time? That one beats all. I mean, honestly.  How is a girl to choose with a heart so full?

Anyway, we are still trying. Lugging our precious cargo everywhere we go. But I know that won't always be the case. Here's the thing, my tendency leans toward not finishing something until it's *just right*. perfect. So yes, sometimes I have dawdled. I keep thinking about the things I need want to do, the details, the Ta Da's. The whimsical side of me loves the idea of a big magical unveiling. always wanting to throw in a wow factor! Give me a platform to stand on. a microphone to sing into. I want to stage these days to within an inch of their lives.

It's a nice dream. That's how's it's always been with me.

But I'm finding that "that" part of me is fading a bit. I have bigger things on my mind. I'm not a perfect person with a perfect house living a perfect life. My everyday often includes, weedy gardens, untidy refrigerators, piles of laundry on the floor, magazines covering every flat surface and the hundred or so odd thoughts spilling over everywhere. Just thought you should know.
  Full disclosure on the laundry, it always gets done, but I'll be honest, I'm a tiny bit afraid of my garden right now. as for the rest, I am working on it, until the sun filters in and I fall in love. or I dream up a scenario where I scrap the entire idea. Part of the problem you see is that I am a hoarder. Not ten-years-worth-of-junk-mail-and-magazines kind of hoarder, but definitely the can't-throw-away-anything-of-remote-sentimental-value kind of hoarders.

My closets? Geez! They hold the keys to my past. I still have cassette tapes of my Holy Trinity~Dylan, Jackson Brown and Stevie Nicks. *I know* I mean I really do know! And my memory boxes, full! over flowing with paper treasures, mementos and yada yada. in some cases there are ten copies of the same thing...because throwing out even one just seems wrong. My space has slowly become a museum of memories which is not as charming as it sounds.

Recently, in a house cleaning frenzy, I emptied out a cabinet and found the complete Godfather Saga on tapes. Yes, tapes. Like in VHS. The hubs suddenly appears out of nowhere. using his "I can hear through walls" super powers. "What are you doing?" he asks. "I am throwing out these old tapes to make room for more meaningless junk." I reply. "What? Are you serious? Those tapes? No way! I'm gonna watch those." he says. "Dude, do you know how old these are? I ask.  "They're VHS. VHS!!! We don't even have a VHS player." I say incredulously. (yes, I am using my drama queen voice for dramatic effect). He looks stunned for a moment and then finally says. "Okay, fine! I'll take them to my office." Don't even ask. 

So, this is how it goes. The stuff coming into our home flows much more freely than the stuff going out...

The way that I've always dealt with de-cluttering in the past is by calling my sister. this is where we justify to each other why we are the way we are. she gets me. she is me. Our calls usually end with this pumped up team spirit where we're all  "Yeah, I'm going to throw out everything I don't need!  It feels so good getting rid of stuff. Should have done this a long time ago. We are so awesome." This is, as you are probably thinking, a load of worthless crap.

This is mostly true. I will never be one of those women who cleans the baseboards every Monday. Yes, I am laid back, and minimalist does not very well describe my style. But I do need changes. I need to simplify in many areas, and it wouldn't kill me to maybe clean out the cassette tapes and pare down to saving just one program from my grandma's funeral. I still have too much stuff, and half of my closet is filled with "just-in-case" clothes. Like just in case I get invited to a hippie party (don't laugh, it happened), or just in case I magically get down to my high school weight (ok, to laugh now). 


at the risk of tarnishing my reputation for perfection (of which I am so very proud) . . . I think  eventually I will learn balance.

So I will just breathe and hold on tight. celebrate who I am, instead of worrying myself with who I'm not. Once I have practiced in my mind, maybe I can try it for real. I am snuggling deeper into my flannel, pulling it closer around me, like an old lady, wrapping a shawl around her shoulders. I am feeling the chill in my toes, my knees and on the edges of my heart. it is not really that cold right now, but I am feeling the chill. I am curling up with mugs of hot tea. my journals. my thoughts. my memories. these things help to pull my feelings into some kind of perspective, and the warmth from the tea and flannel seeps into my bones until they are warm once again. Pushing myself outside, into brisk morning air with laughter, brings me back to feeling good. Sometimes I am not quite sure how to do it, but I know that I am saving myself, with words and tea and warmth. Bringing it back into myself when I need it the most. I am taking care of myself. Sometimes that means letting other things slip but ultimately it is what will save me in the long run.

Throughout these days I am finding ways to cope. I take hot baths, do yoga, light candles, and hug whenever I can. I fill my hands with my camera, journals, bits of wool and falling leaves. I fill my heart with love.  I talk it out, cry it out, just let it out. I love this space, where I can check in. laugh, cry, be gentle and know that you will be gentle with me. It means the world to me. thank you for coming and sharing this time with me. I am still holding out hope for an autumn of pumpkins, ocean visits and healing. It would be foolish to wait until everything feels perfect. It may never happen. But for one more day, I am going to stay inside and listen to my heart, relearn the words to my song.

pumpkin snicker doodles
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the coating:

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash of allspice

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together to blend. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars on medium speed until well combined. Next, still on medium speed, beat in pumpkin. Then, add the egg and vanilla extract. Lastly, add in the dry ingredients. Beat until combined, but do not over mix. Cover the dough, and refrigerate for one hour, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and spices for the sugar coating. Scoop dough (approximately 2 1/2 tablespoons) and roll into a ball. Roll the dough ball in the sugar mixture, and place on the lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Take a drinking glass with a flat bottom and moisten with water. Dip the glass in the sugar mixture, and use it to flatten the dough balls. Re-sugar the glass as needed.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Remove when the centers of the cookies have set. Let cool on the baking pan for approximately 5 minutes, and then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.


  1. Pennie9/24/2012

    Monica, this is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart with me. Blessings.


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