Sunday, March 30, 2014

National Poetry Month

For all of you poetry lovers out there, April is the National Poetry Month. It's a time to celebrate and remember notable poets of centuries past. I personally plan to celebrate National Poetry Month this year the same way I did last year: by committing to write one new poem each day of the month of April. I will publish said poem on my poetry blog,, and I would love it if you would take a minute to read them.

In the mean time, if you're looking for other ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, here are some ideas you could try:
  1. Read a book of Poetry. My personal favorite is Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, but I also love reading Dickinson, Frost and Plath in my free time. 
  2. Memorize a poem. Once you know a poem by heart, it can fill your heart with a different emotion. You don't have to memorize something epic by Homer, but I encourage you to try it and see how different of an experience a memorized poem can be from a read poem. 
  3. Revisit an old poem. Sometimes a poem you read in high school can have a whole new meaning after you've had different experiences. See what time has done for your favorite poem. 
  4. Write a poem for someone you love. It doesn't matter if it's a "Roses are Red..." poem or something far more complex. It doesn't matter if it rhymes or makes no sense. Just put pen to paper and see the smile it inspires. 
I plan to write 30 poems in 30 days, but I may end up writing more. I hope you'll check out my efforts and follow my work. 

So, now that you know what I'll be doing this April, how do you plan to celebrate National Poetry Month?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In Loving Memory of My Mother

At some point in every day I think of my mother. She is with me no matter what I do or where I go. I don't mean that her spirit is with me per se, but everything she taught me and believed lingers like her Joy perfume in a room after she's left.

I still worry about making her proud. Every time I come to a crossroads, I yearn down to the marrow in my bones that she was still with me to help me make the right decision. I see her in my niece's big blue eyes. And I hear her hovering over me as I make her Pot Roast, Lasagna or Chicken Cacciatore. She lives in the colors and melodies of my memories, and there she is happy, beautiful and Cancer-free.

Five years seems like forever when I look forward, but it is such a quick breath of time when I look back. It is still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that on March 16th, my mother will have been physically absent from my life for five years. I miss her and many things about her - our shared love of music, her keen interest in everything her kids did, the sound of her voice - but I miss her guidance the most. She not only loved to talk, but she was also a great listener - two qualities most people do not possess simultaneously. She asked thought-provoking questions, gave advice that will never go out of style, and taught me the power of asking "why?".

I have experienced a lot in the 1,825 days since I lost my mother. I have grown and shrank and grown again. I have smiled, laughed, cried, frowned and everything in between since the day she left. I know now more than before that life goes on no matter how heartbroken, grief-stricken or angry you are. I also know how lucky I was to have her for almost thirty years of my life. I still need her and wish she was here with me, but I know she gave me so many tools and memories to help me move forward.

Thank you, Mama. I'll love and miss you forever.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

#EndItMovement - How You Can Help

Photo Courtesy of
Some people have asked me, "What's the deal with the red "X" hand pics?" Well, it's my way of supporting the #EndItMovement, and it's attempt to shine a light on modern slavery, which affects more than 27 million human beings around the world. 
How can you help?
  • Mark your hand with a red "X", take a photo and share it on social media to join the #EndItMovement. 
  • Donate time or money to those who are working tirelessly to end modern slavery like Not For Sale and the International Justice Mission.
  • Understand that modern slavery doesn't just happen in other countries - it happens right here in the United States as well. Human trafficking campaigns often target runaways and other vulnerable children for prostitution and sexual slavery. Even if you don't have time or money, don't hesitate to call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if you see something suspicious in your town or city. 
  • And finally, be a conscientious consumer. Slavery around the world often includes forced laborers, who make everything from electronics to clothing to chocolate. Visit the Free2Work website, which grades major brands on their ethical supply chain practices on an A-F scale, to learn more.
Don't wait to get involved. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Welcome Winter

I started February out with a whirlwind trip home to South Carolina for my dad's birthday. I flew out on a Thursday night and flew home Tuesday morning. Needless to say, I was extremely tired when it was all said and done! But however jet-lagged and exhausted I might've been, the four days I got to spend with my dad was worth it.

My dad's birthday happened to fall on the same day as the Super Bowl, and I was quite delighted to see the Seattle Seahawks kick the Denver Broncos' butts. I think my dad would've preferred the game to go the other way, but I think his Bi-Lo Banana Birthday Cake at Half Time kept him from being too sad about it. We had an amazing time and I got to see several family members and friends, which was cool.

Fortunately, my quick trip to the East Coast just missed the wintry storms that have blustered through that part of the country this year. It is quite a rarity for South Carolina to see an ice storm, much less snow, and they got both just before I arrived. Then, a few weeks after I returned home to Washington, the snow came our way.

Growing up in South Carolina below sea level could've never prepared me for snow like we had this past weekend. First came the ice, then the snow and then more ice. This morning I drove to work in it, and I have never been more grateful for four wheel drive than I am right this minute. I might have never learned how to drive in snow in South Carolina, but my parents were great driving instructors and I did just fine. I'll still take the Washington snow any day over the South Carolina humidity.

Once thing I have learned about myself after living in Washington for almost 4 years is that I love the snow. I love how quiet the world gets when it is blanketed in white powder; it is so peaceful that it settles my bones in a way that I've only felt before while at the beach. I never imagined before I moved to Washington that any place could ever ease my soul the way the beach did, but now I know that's not true.

So, I welcome the snow - even if I have to drive in it - and winter with a smile and a warm cup of coffee.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hello 2014!

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year"

I do not grieve for the passing of 2013 - I am thankful for it. Don't get me wrong, 2013 was a fine year. I accomplished goals I wanted to accomplish, and I ended the year on a high note. I'm just excited about all the possibilities that lie before me in 2014. 

I don't really make resolutions anymore. I set goals. For whatever reason, my brain finds it easier to accomplish a goal than to complete a resolution. Maybe it's just wordplay, but my brain doesn't do resolutions unless we're talking images. At any rate, I'm proud of the goals I met or exceeded in 2013. 

One of my biggest goals last year was to buy myself a car. Four days into 2013 I did just that. I bought a Hyundai Tucson, which is perfect for the sometimes-snowy weather in the Pacific Northwest. It was the first time I picked a car out all by myself, so that was really cool. Another big goal was to finish writing my second book, which I managed to do just a few months into the year. Now I am working on a new book project that is unlike my other books, and I'm really excited about where it's going.

For 2014, here are some of the goals I have set for myself:

  • Be healthier by the end of 2014. Whether that means eating better, eating fast food less, choosing organic, exercising more - so be it. I don't just want to lose weight. I don't just want to be off of Diabetic medication. I want to be healthier all the way around. 
  • Finish two book projects
  • Visit my dad in South Carolina
  • Write more poetry - even if it is just one poem, it's something I love and want to do more often
  • Continue to grow at Barlean's
  • Be the best possible version of myself every day
I can't wait for what 2014 has in store. I hope I am as fulfilled at the end of this year as I was last year. I wish you all the best in the coming months, and may you achieve all you set out to in 2014.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

'Tis the Season

Since 2009, the holiday season has been a challenge for me. Regardless of my mother's Cancer diagnosis, I was not prepared for her death and especially verklempt when it came to living life without her. Christmas was my mother's most favorite holiday, and heading into December always leaves a bit of a knot in my throat. 

In many ways, the 2013 holiday season has proven no different. However, there are a couple of ways that I am choosing something different this year. First, I am choosing to honor my mother by giving to others. I don't just mean physical gifts, but also the gifts that have no price - listening to, comforting, cheering on, forgiving, supporting and loving others. I'm not a woman of financial means, but I do have endless emotional means to offer. 

A second way I am dealing with this holiday season differently this year is that I am mindful of every day and the new opportunities I am presented with. This is an outlook I hope to continue in 2014. I know every day is not necessarily going to be a rock star kind of day, but it can definitely be fun. Tragedy and loss happen, but the world does not stop turning. I feel sad and lost at times without my mother, but that's normal. 

Life goes on and it goes on how we choose. So this year, in honor of my mother, I choose joy. 

Happy holidays, everyone! I hope that no matter what your faith or belief is that this most wonderful time of year is truly that for you - wonderful and full of joy.

Friday, October 11, 2013

One Season Falls Into Another

As the leaves change and are lifted gently from the trees, I find myself facing challenges I am not ready for or equipped to handle. Last month I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 2, and it has shaken me to the core. I am only 34 years old and the choices I've made combined with my genetics have led me to this strange place where I am a prisoner of my body every day. I am left asking, "Where do I go from here?"

As I watch the green of summer burst into the flames of fall, I wonder if the tree knows winter is coming? I wonder if it fears the dying of the leaves? Are the changes that are forced upon us the most productive in the end? I hope so.

The turning of summer into fall has been quite spectacular this year. I suppose that is because I have actually been out more, exploring the world around me. I have traveled quite a bit these last couple of weeks. I've been as far southwest as La Push and Forks, Washington and as far north as Squamish, Canada. The roads have been lined with ever-changing trees, like a perfect autumnal painting. It has been breathtaking to see. And a nice distraction from my health issues.

It is the season of change. How fitting; how so very frightening.