Monday, August 26, 2013

Maddie Comes To Denver

Instagram has become the new thing. I'll admit, I totally love it. It's pretty much the only social media thing I really do and keep up with. The rise of negativity, comparison, overshared opinions and all around depressing crap that people put up on Facebook is astounding and I've got next to no interest in any of it. Instagram allows me to see/follow the people I truly care about and live alongside them, even from afar. Most notably, I get to see the most precious photos of my niece that Wynn posts. It makes me feel a little less like I'm missing out on her growing up and that makes me smile.

To those of you who enjoy Instagram like I do, please do yourselves a giant favor and start following Theron Humphrey at 'thiswildidea'. Theron and his remarkable pup, Maddie, have been touring the US together this year while he works on a year long photojournalism project called Why We Rescue. It's a story about how pets change our lives and who the wonderful people are who rescue them. Maddie is a rescue dog herself and one of the most incredible pups I've ever seen. Theron discovered that Maddie had a very special ability to balance on just about anything and he started taking photos of her doing what she does best.

Please won't you take a moment to see just what I mean here. Click on 'video' and check out the awesomeness that is Maddie. She is amazing. Theron decided to collect his photos of Maddie and had Maddie On Things published. It's a darling photo journal of Maddie literally on top of things and you just wouldn't believe some of these photos...

Allison told me about Theron a while back and said my days would literally be happier if I started following him and seeing his photos. Boy, was she right. As I started learning more about what he was doing, I looked up their calendar for the book tour and discovered that they were coming to Denver! There was no way I was missing that.

They held the book signing at West Side Books and graciously welcomed quite the crowd in to chat, meet Maddie and be a part of their amazing story:

Theron gave a brief welcome and told everyone about his current project, Why We Rescue
He also wanted to officially introduce Maddie by having her do a special trick. She decided she wasn't into it:
Instead, she wanted to work the crowd:
I don't blame her.

Finally, it was my turn to meet Theron:
I just can't explain what a gracious, humble, kind-hearted person he is. What he's doing in meeting folks and sharing their animal rescue stories is simply sweet and special. Many people just don't understand the love of a pet or what it means to share life with them. Through Theron's stories, he's going to be able to show hearts touched and lives changed. I don't know about you, but I could use a little more of this out in the world these days vs. downers like Facebook. 

I had such fun talking with Theron. I really feel honored to have shared in the smallest portion of his journey. His best friend, Garrett, is traveling along with them and what a spectacular photographer he is, too. It'd serve you well to also follow him at 'reallykindofamazing'. 

For those of you in Denver, Theron's work is being shown at the Redline Gallery through September 29th. Don't miss it!

Thank you, Theron, for being such a rare, special person. Thank you more for sharing who you are with us folks and creating unity across the miles in a tender, unforgettable way. 

Friday, August 23, 2013


Let's talk about happy things. Let's talk about summer and sunshine and friends. The sad things I've gone through lately are hereby considered past events and I no longer give them power. So, let's talk about being free and open and alive!

Can you believe it's almost the end of August? Nope, me either. Summer seriously brings me back to being a kid. The smell of burgers on a grill, sweet summer corn, late sunsets, super soft green grass on your bare feet...there's so much goodness in summer.

I've spent my first in Denver exploring as much as I can. There have been BBQ's, new friends, afternoons in the park with smoothies and a good book, rooftop bars, delicious new restaurants, awesome runs and CrossFit classes. There's been newness and fresh starts, laughter and wine, hikes and birthday parties. There's been whiskey tasting, pesto making and beer drinking. There's been park discovering while out on weekly walks, trivia night at the bar, Moscow Mule drinking and cheese tasting. There's been that 3am night (or two) out, weekend day trips, friends in town and church hopping to find that hopeful spot to call 'home'. There's been that one-extra-glass-of-wine-too-many, all because of an immeasurably beautiful evening on a patio discussing the beauty of this world with a trusted friend. There's been homemade tomato basil soup, strong Americanos early in the morning and the occasional pancake breakfast after a nice, long walk. Cigarettes have been smoked, sangria has been made and adventures have been had. Life has been lived.

Here's what some of that looks like:
Just a quick hello from up on the roof:
Don't forget the cocktails. Ohhh, the cocktails...
Summer makes you feel good down to your bones. Warm sun, cool (thanks to being in Colorado!) breeze and refreshing rain showers that are followed by bright, beautiful rainbows. What a sign of promise a rainbow is. A promise of light after darkness, that life will shine beautifully even after the ugliest of storms:
Summer has been good for me. I'm shedding an old skin and finding my new self. I love just that, the whole finding myself thing. You shed some tears, you share some laughs and you dig into the soul of yourself which is a fascinating, complicated, intricate, awesome journey. I wouldn't trade what I've gone through because I'm presently here, discovering how to live in this very 'now'. Dang, it's good. So good. 

Happy Summer, all. I hope yours has been full of all the sunshine you can handle and all the hugs you could hope for.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Starting Over

I'm taking a little inspiration today from my dear friend, Patrick's, openness recently in one of his blog posts. He talked about starting over, questioning what you do or could've done to make things turn out differently, knowing your self worth...things that are part of all of our lives in some capacity. It's not an easy thing to expose yourself and share things that are raw. But, this is life. Real life where things get messy, ugly and chaotic. To expose yourself is to find power within which is why I appreciate Patrick's words and willingness to share who is.

I closed a chapter in my life last night. One I didn't want to close and one that I thought could be a renewed season of life for me. Unfortunately, not all of those decisions were up to me. Sadly, the outcome wasn't at all what I expected. Not because I didn't get some answer I wanted or because it didn't turn out how I hoped, it was unexpected because it was much more painful and harsh than it should've been. I felt things that I didn't think I would. Things like being discarded, misunderstood, replaceable. Things that strike the core of your soul and things that have the ability to really dent your self worth. The tricky part of situations like this is that only you can determine your self worth. If it's tied up in someone or something or circumstances, you'll likely be disappointed every time hardship hits.

For most of us, finding value and self worth is a painstaking, constant journey. Whether things in your past shape that or where you find yourself presently, to intimately know that you are so special and wonderful is a mighty task to conquer. Society today certainly doesn't lend itself to an environment where loving ourselves is first. We're bombarded with every other thing that reminds us of how we're not good enough. Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not slim enough, not funny enough; the list goes on. The only way we can combat such complicated, raw feelings is to decide to know that we are more than good enough. Each life out there is unique, rare, ever evolving. We're each magical in our own right and we bring things to this life and universe that are powerful, true and remarkable. Every person out there has a responsibility to themselves to choose to view their life like this. No other person or thing has the power to destroy these tremendous qualities in us unless we allow them to.

Last night, I felt profoundly judged and misunderstood. Enough so to make me second guess who I am, what I offer and how valuable I am. Enough so to where some of the tender, beautiful self worth that I've acquired (with much fragility) as of late was tarnished. I'm sure the perspective of how I saw the situation was not mutually shared and I'm sure I'd be viewed as wrong. But, you know what? I don't care. I've been fiercely caring and caring about change, growth and fresh starts and I've been putting so much work into my life recently. I simply cannot bear the burden any longer of what people think of me, my thoughts or my feelings. I cannot - and will not - apologize for who I am anymore. I know unequivocally that I'm making changes that are bettering me and I'm proud of it. For me, there's nothing quite as painful as when someone keeps you in a box, confined to who you once were or how you once acted. It's very, very rare in this life to find people that will stand by you resolutely with love, tenderness and understanding and to also believe in your ability to change. For me, the time has most certainly come to move forward and to appreciate me for exactly who I am. To believe in myself regardless if any other person will.

I am starting over. Again. This time, with the confidence that it's fully the right time, that proper decisions - painful, heartbreaking decisions - have been made and that the true fresh season of life that I was hoping to begin last night will ultimately be a chapter I'll begin writing solely for myself. You know what? That's ok. It's the right thing.

Above all, I know that I deserve people in my life that will never strip things away from me, block me from shining or make me doubt myself in any capacity. I am a wonderful, lovely person with more to give than I could ever ask to receive. I hope I never feel the way I did last night again. But, if I do, I will choose to continue shining. Brightly. Magnificently. Spectacularly. Because I am those things. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Quick Hop Over To St. Louis

Every summer growing up, we went to St. Louis for a week to visit our cousins. Outside of Christmas, it was the event of the year. My cousins had a pool, a pinball machine, a pool table, endless bags of chips, a fridge stocked full of was paradise for a kid and I couldn't wait for it every year.

Almost ten years ago, one of my cousins married an amazing Spanish man and moved to Madrid. While they get back to the US fairly often, timing has never been in our favor to head back to St. Louis at the same time. Until now. Turns out my parents, Allison and I were all free the same weekend to head back to the good ol' midwest while Rachel, Gonzalo and their daughter, Renata, were visiting. It's been five years since we were all together. Even though I'm older now, the same excitement I had as a kid resurfaced and I could only think about the pool, sunshine and beers instead of sodas. See? There are some perks to getting older.

I'd gotten in late on Friday night but I sure was up early to get myself out to the pool:
Exactly the same as I remembered it. Out of all the kids, I was always the one in the pool from morning til night. You just couldn't get me out and the torch has definitely been passed on to both of my cousins' kids. I had so much fun watching them do cannonballs, back flips and, best of all, swimsuit model poses. 

There was the fashionista:
The bodybuilder:
The dancer:
There was even the pose of terror (meant to be VERY scary, people):
Models in the making, I tell you.

Sweet Gonzalo played with them all day in the pool:
Trust me when I tell you he's one of the greatest fathers I've ever seen.

The day was gorgeous. Perfect amount of coming and going clouds that made for ideal snoozing in the sun:
Some could attest to that more than others:
Don't be mad, Dad. Just capturing you in all your glory.

While I was thrilled to see everyone, I was especially excited for the time I got with sweet Renata:
She's absolutely precious. She even dealt patiently with me annoying her to speak in Spanish. That little voice! I love her.

One of my favorite traditions we carried out for years was smoking ribs. My uncle would slow smoke them all day and we'd have a feast after an afternoon full of diving board contests and going backwards down the slide. Obviously, our trip wouldn't be complete without the same tradition.

That's only the top layer of what totaled 12 racks of ribs in the smoker:      
Hot damn, that's what I call summer.

Once we all showered, it was definitely happy hour time. I can't tell you how awesome it was to catch up with Gonzalo:
Don't let so many years pass without seeing people you love. Really.

After some chatting and vino drinking, it was time for dinner:
This is some stuff I can get down with. It was a full night of conversation, (expensive!) wine drinking, good food, fun fireworks and all around important time with family. Lightning bugs were out, the lingering smell of smoke from the smoker was in the air and even a brief rain shower came along to cool things off. Really, these are things that make summer what it is for me.

Our last morning, Aunt Renata made delicious baked apple pancakes for breakfast:
I was surprisingly reserved in not asking for seconds. Pancakes and bikinis don't go well together.

Allison and I walked through Uncle Bruce's garden afterward and ate cherry tomatoes off the vine:
He's growing a lot of awesome stuff this year, even grapes. I swear, the only time I ever wish I had a house of my own is for a big, sprawling garden. He's got the most awesome irrigation system and it's so neat to see how it all works.  

The weekend was very short but sweet. I have a small family and the time together truly counts. I hope years don't pass before we all see one another again, that's for sure. I don't think I could go that long without those infamous ribs...

When I left and looked through my photos, I saw that the girls had gotten ahold of my phone and took some photos of themselves. I just want to squeeze sweet Alexandra here:
That was a happy surprise to find after the sadness of goodbyes.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer and cherishing the little things. That's what it's all about.