there you are.

Maybe it's a winter thing. Or a long slog thing? Or just being human. Anyway. Sometimes you just need to gather all the good things, together, in one place. To bask, a little. Sit in their glow. Lay them out in a line, like little boys and Hot Wheels. Or little girls and their dollies. Or grown-ups and their gratefuls.

Call it ballast for the last month (or three), and for the weeks to come. Well alright then, let's be off...

The way the sky went so brilliant this morning almost made me weep. a cherished play list on my iPod, steaming coffee and my favorite spot perched on the windowsill by the fireplace waiting for a certain Deer that I know lingers around the house to make an appearance.

While loveliness and prettification have long been my schtick, I kinda hate that the summary of my morning sounds like an Eddie Bauer catalog. life last week did not feel good. I definitely didn’t know how it would change when I said goodbye, but I knew it would, and I prayed for the best. They say “wherever you go, there you are,” which is true. Still, we bring our same soggy hearts and issues and questions with us, but… yeah… HERE we are, choosing the front row to our own lives and experiences, away from that which no longer serves us. I think the “there” can hold more water than we care to admit. It’s impossible to not step outside, breathe deep, and get hit with this rush of perspective. For the first time in a very long time, I think I recognize the sound of my heartbeat again.

I planned to tell you a whole different story today, but I'm just not feeling it. It's been another bad week. I've been emotional and jittery and stressed out to the max. Plus I picked up a nasty stomach virus that knocked me to my knees. I fear a full on break down may be coming, and that's no big surprise.

The trials of the week are not notable or specific just to me. They are regular life stuff that happens to all of us every now and then. Problem is, my problems didn't confer with one another...they didn't bother checking to see if I was already booked. They all showed up together and just when I thought I'd gotten them all situated, another one arrived, fashionably late.

On top of my new-found anxiety, I've been walking around feeling very perplexed by how I feel. I'm not used to feeling this kind of stress and worry. I'm not used to crying multiple times a day without warning. It's foreign to me, and I'd just as soon keep it that way. This is not a chair I want to get comfy in. you know what I mean.

What I've come to realize is that while I have had my fair share in the past, these recent years have been pretty smooth sailing. And I know I just need to walk through this. I need to constantly remind myself that it's on my own strength, and that I am generally happy and carefree.

I think it's ok to feel the sting of the hard things in life. It's ok to acknowledge that bad days come, and that sometimes they stretch out on the couch and stay for a few months. Or longer.

I knew that I could very easily show you the happy and no one would be the wiser. But I'm not good at pretending. And much as I panic about people worrying too much about me, or thinking that I'm not as strong as I may seem, the truth is, sometimes I'm not as strong as I may seem. I'm not sure when I decided that people shouldn't know that, but I'm ready to lay that one down.

Years ago, when we found out that Dad was sick, I learned the value of asking for and accepting help. I learned first-hand about love and the ways in which to use those around me to show me this love. I learned that though celebration may be a kind of relational super glue, despair is cement.

In sharing all of this, I want to encourage those of you wandering through grey days. I want you to feel not alone, not weak. I want you to feel strong.

And when my clouds break, as they always do, I want to share that with you, too.

just sayin'.

hot chocolate

 Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and LadurĂ©e

My favorite chocolate for this is Scharffen Berger 70%. Use any bittersweet chocolate you like, but keep in mind that it should be one you love, since its flavor takes center stage.

1 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ Tbsp. water
2 ½ Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, and sugar. Place over medium heat and whisk occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. At this point, blend the mixture. If you have an immersion blender, you can do this directly in the saucepan; if not, you’ll need to transfer it to a traditional blender. Either way, blend for 1 minute (on high speed, if using a traditional blender - and take care(!), as hot liquids expand when blended). The finished mixture should be very smooth and frothy.

Serve immediately.

Note: Should you have any leftover hot chocolate - wishful thinking, I know - you can store in the refrigerator for 2 days. Reheat it gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Blend for 1 minute; then serve immediately.


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