s

Happening Now

On What to Do with Fear

"I'm afraid of everything," I blurted out during a phone call with my sister.

"You're kidding, right?" she responded. "You're the most fearless person I know!"

"Everyone seems to think that. The truth," I confided, "is that I'm terrified all the time."

It was in seeing this quote from Georgia O'Keeffe years ago that I felt I'd finally found---in words---the truth that my spirit speaks on a daily basis.  

I'm terrified of just about everything. Except cupcakes. And phenomenal lighting. Neither of those things terrifies me. To be clear. 

The horrifying truth is that I'm actually lonely without fear; it's been my constant companion all my life.

I've learned to see fear as protection, and I'm afraid that without it, I won't see something coming (which occasionally and unfortunately causes me to "see" something coming that isn't in fact coming at all---an ability that would be pretty cool if what I saw coming was a trip to Bali with Gregory Zarian, a guest spot on Jimmy Fallon, or dinner with Amy Schumer; but alas what I see coming is usually a bit more...shall we say...bleak).

Fear plays tricks on my mind. It makes me paranoid. It makes me question those around me. It robs me of joy and hope. It prevents me from living in the present moment. It ensures that "What if?" is followed by an unmanageable finale, not an exciting one. 

That meme above? I'm that girl. That's me all day; twice on Sunday. 

But we have two choices when it comes to anything that can hold us back in this life (and, for the record, most of those items boil down to fear of something).

We can let them define us, and hole up in a corner with lots of cats and magazines and be great contenders for a Hoarders: The Best Of episode, or we can look them in the eye and tell them to F*%& off (sorry, Mom). 

What saves me on a daily basis these days? 

That's my mantra. It's what keeps me from holing up in a corner of my own closet with cats and magazines, just rocking the day away. Because there's no triumph in that. 

If it were just me, maybe I wouldn't be this fearless. But I have these kids, and I want them to pursue their passions like a motherf*$^er (as Cheryl Strayed said; you can blame her for that particular profanity; I own the previous one). If they see me fearing everything HOW WILL THEY DO THAT? So for them I began practicing the art of mindful fear taming.  

What I've learned is that fear doesn't have to prevent you from actually doing anything. 

You just have to learn how to meet it and greet it. 

Just say, "Hello! Nice to see you. You're here because I don't want to screw this up. Thanks for that. Now get in the back seat and fasten your seat belt. We're going for a ride!"

In fearful moments, act as if---simply act as if you're not afraid. 

Work backwards. Envision the result you want, and work backwards to the present. Then you can see the steps, and you merely follow them. You remove the fear of the unknown because you know how it's going to work out. You adjust along the way as necessary, but each step isn't filled with the same level of peril it would be if you had no idea what was coming next. 

Be the caterpillar. That poor guy goes into that cocoon and doesn't know what the hell is happening. It's dark and crowded and lonely and there's no breeze or comfy hammock in that thing. But he patiently waits. He takes a nice nap perhaps, I don't know. And just when it seems like his life is over, he emerges with skills and colors and a life more glorious than he ever imagined. 

Don't feel bad about being fearful! Fear isn't "bad," per se. Ironically, it's usually indicative of a positive quality. I have fear because I want to do well. I crave control over outcomes because I don't like not knowing what comes next. I don't want to disappoint the people I care about. It comes from a place of great intention and love.

But there's a fine line between acknowledging it and using it as a justification and excuse for standing still.  

Look fear in the eyes, and simply say, "Man, you're powerful. But you're also like a bad dream. The more I believe that you're true, the more real you become."

Have faith. 

Pray. 

Breathe.

Center yourself.

This is how we grow. Sometimes, it's not about eliminating part of ourselves, it's about learning to live in tandem with it. 

My to-do list this week is a bit long. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. There are a few calls I need to make this morning that terrify me. What if they say "No?" What if they hang up on me? What if I introduce myself as Betty and have to start over?

Or, what if they say "Yes" and the person who answers the phone becomes my new best friend?

I'm also afraid of pushing the Publish button on this post. 

So. Breathe. 

Good morning to you, Fear. It's nice to see you. Now get in the back seat and fasten your seat belt. We're going for a ride.  

Summertime Sadness: An Honest Letter to My Children

To my precious children,

I love you, and I believe it's always important to start hard conversations with these 3 words.

Here's the thing.

Summer Break is an incredible time. It provides ongoing opportunities for us to read wonderful books, embark on a few surprise excursions around town, curiously visit art galleries, eat delicious meals 7 (or 15) times per day, eat crazy awesome dessert every night, surf in Hawaii, play with kangaroos in Australia, and just generally appreciate the hell out of each other.

Why do you look confused? 

Oh yes, this is what you think everyone ELSE is doing, but we aren't doing these things and so your Summer Break sucks. Let us discuss the realities of our situation, shall we? 

IT'S FREAKING HOT

We live in the desert. It's been a decade now, so let's accept it already. 

It's simply not safe to play tag or basketball (wearing jeans) when it's 118 degrees out. 

What? You have to wear jeans because you don't have shorts that fit? Okay, but how would I know that? Have you SEEN the laundry room? I'm pretty sure you've been wearing the same thing for weeks. The clothes aren't going to put themselves away so let's play a game. No, not Minecraft. This one is called In Whose Room Does This Clothing Item Belong?

Hint: Mom's Room will never be the answer.  

After that, there's an adorable coffee shop just a block away. You can walk there (in your newly found shorts) and get lemonades with a shot of raspberry syrup!

No, you can't get giant smoothies. There are 5 of you; do the math. Unless you want to pay for them out of your own money?

I didn't think so.

I know. The whole experience is ruined now. 

But go. And have super fun. But please don't look so excited. It makes it hard for me to feel like I'm doing a good job.

READING IS DUMB

Speaking of being excited, I don't know why I didn't see it before. Why on earth would you want to read when you can spend ALL DAY exploring the worlds of Minecraft on your iPod/Pad/whatever?

Oh. Your device is dead and there are only 3 chargers to go around and they're all missing? Yeah, that's a tough one. 

So now that the map you're building (or whatever the hell you do on there) is no longer an option, who wants to go to the library or the bookstore and pick out a book about something (or someone) interesting? 

Anyone? 

Hello?

EXCURSIONS SUCK

I know. It's impossible to decide where everyone will sit in the car to ride a whole 8 miles to Yogurtini where I'll drop $30 on frozen yogurt with a side of "This is the worst day ever; they don't have gummy worms to go on top."

But I get it. It's totally reasonable to be unwilling to sit in the back row because someone (and by "someone," I mean a ghost) left an empty chocolate milk cup back there 2 weeks ago and no one will just throw it out already.

ART GALLERIES ARE TOO QUIET

Yes, art galleries and the like are completely out of the question. We don't know how to feel in too-quiet environments. It's just so outside of our element, and it's uncomfortable. Also, you can't take drinks into art galleries. Which is too bad because it would be really easy to grab water bottles from home since there are 37 on the counter. 

Even though there are only 5 of you.

WE HAVE NO FOOD

It's so weird. To my eyes, the refrigerator is full. But I see it from  your side now: it's full of apples, organic strawberries, a watermelon that needs to be cut, and weird eggs. "Weird" meaning light green because they come from happy chickens. But I know, weird is different, and different is bad. I totally should have realized that. 

No, the pantry is not full of Nutella and mac and cheese. You are correct. By the way, how do y'all go through an entire jar of Nutella in a day? Is it perhaps because you don't scrape the excess off the knife back into the jar? Because I swear to all that is holy, there are 16 Tbsp of Nutella in that sink every night covering the knife blades. 

As for why there is no more mac and cheese, well, you are brilliant chefs, and I'm so proud to know you can work the stove and, at the very least, make yourself this carb-laden meal. But it does beg the question: if you can MAKE it, how hard is it to put that pot in the sink and fill it with water when you're finished? 

The last time this happened, I said I wouldn't buy mac and cheese anymore if I ended up cleaning the pot. I ended up cleaning the pot and, well, there you go.  

 

WE'RE TRYING TO AVOID TYPE 2 DIABETES

Desert is a treat, not part of the nightly meal. I've been saying this since 2001. Will it EVER sink in?  

KANGAROOS CAN BE MEAN

You know what they say about the grass always being greener. Wait, you don't? I'm sure there is a book about this concept. Shall we go to the bookstore? OKAY! Geez. Stop screaming.

Anyway, from what I've heard, you can't really pet the kangaroos. Or ride around in their pouches. 

It's kind of like Disneyland---parents think it's going to be all "I love you so much for bringing me here, Mom" and instead it's more like, "I'm tired! My feet hurt! We've been waiting for 7 minutes to get on this ride! I'm hungry! I don't like giant turkey legs; they're weird!" 

Also, 6 hours on a plane? You can't even decide where to sit in the car. How's THAT gonna work? 

 

GENERAL APPRECIATION IS TOTALLY OVERRATED

Unfortunately, my job doesn't allow a Summer Break as one of its benefits. 

However, (among other things) it DOES allow me the flexibility to be here with you ALL DAY! (The eye rolling really isn't necessary. Please stop.)

It also allows to pay the (unreasonable) cost of seeing Minions at the theater with the reclining leather seats (the ones I can fall asleep in when I realize these yellow creatures are not going to speak English EVER).

Look guys, it's almost over. The school supply lists came in yesterday. In total, it's 8 pages long. So I'm going to get back to work. Then, let's take a trip to the store and work together to acquire it all. Quietly and happily. No we will not be getting Grande Frappuccinos on the way out. No you do not get paid for helping.

But maybe, if you have a really good attitude, I'll let you get folders with Nick Jonas or Darth Vader on the front.   

With Great Love,

Your devoted (and completely exhausted) mother

P.S. All those friends you think are in Australia, on cruise ships, and eating with reckless abandon (i.e., living the "good life")? Yeah, they are, by and large, also just hanging out at home driving their mothers to seriously consider a career as a professional drinker. Just so you know. 

How to Be a Mermaid

*Important Note: I, Elizabeth No-Middle-Name Lyons, would not DREAM of taking credit for the brilliance of this post. It was written by the fabulously insightful Katie Marie Frank (who was, in so many ways, completely created to be my friend even if she does not yet know it), and originally posted on Elephant Journal. You can follow Katie's Instagram here or check out her unique Etsy shop here. Katie, if you read this, I must meet you. I must. <3

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What do you think of when you hear the word “mermaid”?

Oceans, mystery, beauty, blues, greens and purples, strength, songs and a bonus clamshell bra, right? They represent a sort of freedom and artistry we land-bound mortals ache for. A depth of perception and wonder we can’t help but dream of and long for.

I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” – Anais Nin

Well, as my best friend (a rather remarkable human) has declared, this is the “Year of the Mermaid.

In other words this is the year to be brave, be honest, be the glorious, beautiful, incredible human we all know you are.

If someone says your life has to go a certain way, look them in the eye and ask “Why?” Then do whatever the f*** you want. Someone says that you have to be or do something in order to be successful? Laugh, take a shot of bourbon and do whatever the f*** you want.

This is the year to write your own story.

Paint your own walls with the colors that make your heart happy.

Make something beautiful every day—or every other day, whatever.

Sing—just sing, goddamn it. Just do it. It’s good for your health and nobody actually gives a f*** about how it sounds—as long as you mean it.

And most importantly, be honest—with everyone, especially yourself.

Something isn’t feeding you or making you happy? Be honest about why this is so and get rid of it.

Something won’t leave you alone? Get to the bottom of that sh**. Can’t get thoughts of someone out of your head? Tell them.

Peel away that fear inch by inch and keep moving forward.

Give “the man” a giant middle finger, scream into the wind off the ocean and live your goddamn life the way you see fit.

But then reality comes knocking: you need a job to pay the bills.

Okay, but why can’t that be doing something I love instead of something that sucks my soul out through my eyeballs and leaves me dripping ooze all over the carpet?

Okay, reality again: following your heart isn’t the best business plan.

We’re not all business people. I sure as hell am not. Yeah, I run an Etsy shop and can do my own taxes, but f***—the last thing I want to do is sit in a cubicle and do paperwork.

I’d rather shovel horse sh**.

Wait, I have shoveled horse shit.

It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

So do I look down on “real” work? Hell, no. I’ve waited tables, I’ve worked behind a desk, my mom and sister have cleaned houses, my dad worked construction between desk jobs and I am a better person when physical labor is involved in my work.

But joy should also be in your work. Yes, joy. Find it. If you can’t, find something else to do.

Here’s an idea! Sell the sh** you don’t need, it’s a start to making some money. It’s actually pretty amazing—all the crap you probably have in your closets and cabinets or on your shelves is just sitting there, collecting dust because these things are never getting used. Why on earth do you even own them in the first place?

Sell that sh**. Craigslist, Facebook, yard sales—use the money to pay off a credit card debt and get rid of that sh**, too.

Being held back by possessions or debt will never make you happy, nor will it further your life. It’s a literal weight, preventing you from being the amazing human you are supposed to be. Throw off the weight that’s dragging you down and swim freely in the ocean of your life.

Seriously, people, life is supposed to be beautiful and fulfilling and genuine and lovely. Use what you have, get rid of what you don’t need (that includes people and regrets, too) and live more freely, more honestly and full of joy.

Find your tribe. You hear that a lot, that surrounding yourself with people who have similar interests, loves and heartbeats will help you be the incredible mermaid you’re striving to be.

Guess what? It’s true.

My closest friends are scattered all across the country and all over the world, but there is a cord of steel connecting us together. The electric current that runs between us is amazing, it holds love and light and ideas and joy and encouragement and a certain brand of take-no-sh**-attitude that keeps us all honest with each other.

We’ve got each other’s backs. We also call each other’s bullshit. You can’t be a mermaid if you’re swimming around pretending to be a seahorse. Your tribe will keep you frank and forthright.

Get specific about what it is you want out of your life. “I want to be happy” just isn’t enough. What things make you happy? How can you do more of that?

"I want to be successful." Well, what the hell is this success you’re talking about? Define it. Get to the center of it. The nitty-gritty, salty details of what you want, what it looks like and how you can get there.

There’s a great big ocean out there, loves. You need a map to get across it. You’re going to have to dive deep into some dark waters without a flashlight and kind of feel your way for a bit.

But then there’s the the other side. Picture the Great Barrier Reef. That’s how f***ing gorgeous it’s going to be.

Finally, write a manifesto. Declare to the world the kind of life you want and the things you’re going to do. It doesn’t have to be all serious and all intellectual. Just let yourself know what will help you be the most unique, most genuinely you mermaid in the whole damn ocean.

Here’s mine:

I’m going to dye my hair blue. I’m going to make a short film. I’m going to write a f***ing book, called something like “Lioness Roar: The Ramblings of a Wild Heart“. It will have pictures I draw and poems and essays and dredges of heart song. It will be messy and beautiful—like my life. It won’t be entirely true, but it will be entirely real. My heart stains will be on each page, my paint-covered fingers and dirty nails will leave prints in the margins. It will be my life on paper. My tears and blood-splatters turned into words.

This is my goal. This is ultimately where I will end up: leather-bound but free. Flying. Just waiting for you to decide to open the cover.

Because I am a goddam mermaid with flowers in her hair, and I will do what makes my heart sing.
Keep swimming, my salty loves.

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FREE SHIPPING WITH CODE MERMAID AT CHECKOUT!

Sing Your Song Bracelet Mermaid Bracelet Dare Greatly Bracelet

Dear Katie,

THANK YOU for reminding us how much power we have. THANK YOU for teaching us how to be the mermaids we were born to be. When you decide to write that book of yours, it would be an absolute honor to answer any questions you might have about the process. :)

Traveling Bracelets

Many people have asked about the story behind the Traveling Bracelets line (knowing that, in my world, there's a story behind almost everything!). 

7 years ago, we adopted a beautiful baby girl from Ethiopia. The process took a number (and by "a number," I mean about 6874) of unexpected twists and turns along the way, as any international adoption likely does. 

I was visiting Sedona, AZ at a precarious point in the process, during which my belief that we would get to the finish line in my lifetime was being severely tested. In a small boutique, I saw a simple yet beautiful twisted sterling silver and brass bracelet. It immediately reminded me that, no matter what, this little girl's life and mine were intertwined, and as long as I kept putting one foot in front of the other and trusted, we would ultimately bring our daughter home.

I wore that bracelet every day (and some nights) for the rest of our adoption journey. There were moments after unexpected phone calls when, feeling so confused and unable to control anything about the process, the bracelet acted as my spiritual Xanax. 

A few days after returning from Ethiopia with our beautiful daughter, I approached her Godmother --- one of my best friends --- who was supposed to go to Ethiopia with me but in the end had to cancel because she had learned she was pregnant. And her pregnancy was extremely high-risk. 

"This bracelet holds all of the strength and faith that got me through the past year," I told her. "And now I want to pass that strength and faith on to you."

She wore that bracelet every day (and some nights), and her beautiful, healthy daughter was born 4 months later. 

I all but forgot that I had given the bracelet to her, until one day when my own life got challenging again, and she passed it back to me. 

In that moment, I realized the magic that was held in this seemingly insignificant exchange of what had become a Traveling Bracelet.

Whether you need faith, strength, humor, insight, inspiration, motivation, or peace, there is a Traveling Bracelet for you (and if there isn't, please email me. I'll create what you need!).

Rock it out as your strength. Your hope. Your faith. Your laughter. Your light. Until you no longer need it. When the time is right to pass it on, you will know.  

 

How to Name a Company



Are you ready to start that company you've been dreaming about owning and running and loving and pulling your hair out over at 3:00am for the next few years?

Awesome!

Being entrepreneurial is an amazing adventure---much like riding an untested, uncertified roller coaster.

There are ups (and downs) and moments of ecstasy (and crying jags) and euphoric thrills (and panic attacks).

There's also a lot of thinking. When it comes to starting and growing a business, the following quote from Winona Ryder about sums it up:



Sometimes, this amount of thought is necessary. After all, the best way to confidently make any decision without being clairvoyant is to get as much information as possible, put it into your own business blender, and make the choice that's right for you and your business. (And that choice, by the way, is likely not going to be the best choice for your friend, or your neighbor, or even your mentor. So it's critical that you stay focused on YOU and YOUR business while you're making these final decisions!)

Sometimes, however, weeks and months of thought are NOT necessary, however. Instead, we make ourselves believe that they are because it prevents us from getting to the really scary part --- actually beginning to do business!
One of the areas where people often find themselves stuck is the process of naming their business. 

In the video above, I share a few of my own lessons learned in this area.



Tweet: Customers buy a brand, not a company. #entrepreneurs 
http://bit.ly/1FGXBQ4 via @elizabethlyons
Tweet: A business name is important, but not enough to cause paralysis! #entrepreneurs #startup
http://bit.ly/1FGXBQ4 via @elizabethlyons

What are YOUR lessons learned? What are your questions? Where are you "stuck?"

LEAVE A COMMENT and let me know!

Pipe Lamp - How To

An industrial pipe lamp is not terribly hard to make. It simply requires a little bit of creativity, patience, a ventilated space (preferably outdoors), and a cool bucket that says "Let's Do This" on its front.

Ok - so your bucket doesn't have to say that. But it does make the process more fun. Just saying.

Materials required to create this matte black pipe lamp:

  • Galvanized steel pipe fittings
  • water-proof gloves
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Scotch green scouring pad
  • TSP (Trisodium Phosphate)
  • Matte black Rustoleum spray paint (or color of you choice)
  • Matte sealant spray (or glossy if you prefer)
  • Cloth-covered wire
  • Socket
  • Plug
  • Lightbulb
  • Wire strippers
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Flat head screwdriver

Have you made lights or other accessories using steel pipe? I'd love to see them! Please feel free to share them with everyone over on my Facebook page or in the comment below! 

Carry on!

Who's Your Person?

Have you heard? 

We get by with a little help from our friends. 

Or dog.

Or mail person who's going to show up today with the latest Sunset magazine or a box from Amazon with who-knows-what in it but it's super exciting at first because you can't remember what you ordered or perhaps what someone ordered for you but then you get it home and discover that it's just the copy of 1984 you had to order for your son's Lit class.

Regardless, we all need "a person."

We need someone we trust to bounce ideas and fears and concerns off of.

Sometimes, balance and perspective requires more than 3 hours on a Pinterest board trying to figure out how to make your 6-year-old a canteloupe costume for Halloween and ending up redecorating your entire family room---even if only in your mind---and realizing you can do it almost entirely with pallets.

We need Life Coaches. Spiritual Advisors. Balance Gurus.

I'd love to hear from you. Who helps you navigate the most challenging moments you face? What is your greatest suggestion for someone who is still looking for her "person?" 

Please share in the comments below! I read them all, and I'll share some over on Facebook. Because we're all here to help each other navigate this craziness. None of us needs to go it alone. (Especially when there's a canteloupe costume to be made.)

Are You Following Rule 16?

I don't like myself; I'm crazy about myself

Rule 16: Give Yourself the Little Blue Box

On Jack’s and Henry’s seventh birthday, I lazily lay in our less-than-optimally-comfortable hotel bed and relived their delivery in my mind (which isn't the most pleasant of memories, frankly. Worth it, but not terribly pleasant).

Suddenly, someone with a very loud voice began poking me and shouting, "GRACE! GRACE! WHERE IS JACK?"

"Henry," I answered, "he and Papa went to pick up breakfast. I'm sleeping. And I'm not Grace."

He trotted back into the hotel room’s living area and opened the door to the hallway over and over hoping to catch a glimpse of his brother, undoubtedly to scream to him that it was their birthday (in case Jack didn't know).

I called him back into the bedroom and enthusiastically proclaimed, "Henry, Happy Birthday!"

"Happy Birthday," he sullenly responded.

"Henry, it's your birthday. You don't have to wish me Happy Birthday."

"I wasn't," he clarified, sounding just like Senator Eeyore. "I was wishing myself a happy birthday."

This made me laugh. It also taught me a lesson. Sometimes we wait for others to give us what we want or need. But one, we aren’t clear about what that is. And two, sometimes we have to be our own best friend.

There was a time when I thought the little blue box from Tiffany’s was love made manifest. I waited and waited and waited for it to be presented to me. It never appeared. I’ll admit that I spent some time feeling sure that this meant that David didn’t love me.

And then one day, I proactively ended my pity party and waltzed into Tiffany’s. I made nice with Margaret, the bejeweled lady behind the counter, and told her, “Margaret, I need a blue box. I’ve been waiting to receive one for years, and it appears it isn’t going to happen unless I do it myself.” She nodded in complete understanding, as though she’d heard this song many times before, and handed me the smallest blue box under the counter.

   I went home, put my engagement ring in it, put it on my pillow, and gave an Oscar-winning performance to the stuffed animals that lay strewn about our bedroom when I “discovered” and opened it later that evening.

The fact is, we must tell other people what we want and need. Dr. Phil is notorious for admonishing that we must teach other people how to treat us. Don’t waste time being a martyr in order to get what you need. Doing so assumes that others don’t want to give you what you need, and it makes it harder on everyone.

Relying on others to fulfill your needs takes far more energy than most of us have. I give myself a birthday present each year. Or I flat-out tell David that I want this book or that blanket.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth perfectly summed up my perspective. She said, “I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.” If I need a girls-day-out, I don’t beat around the bush, hoping for someone to take the hint and then try to hit the nail on the head in terms of exactly how what I’m hoping to be asked to do. I call a girlfriend and say, “I need a day out. When are you available?” It’s the quickest path to getting what I need. Which is fantastic, because I don’t have a lot of extra time on my hands.

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Get all the rules that will have you on your way to a state of 95% sane and balanced (because, let's be honest, 100% sane and balanced simply doesn't exist) here

*And, yes, you can use code INSTALOVE for 20% off -- but only through February 9th! 

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How do you give yourself the little blue box on a regular basis? Or what would you like to (publicly) commit to start doing for yourself? I'll hold you accountable; I promise! Leave a comment below - share the wisdom; you never know who you will inspire! 

Carry on! 

From Zero to 5K: A Journey

So Tracy Floyd challenged me to run the IMS Marathon 5K in March. 

Stop laughing. I will barely run to the car. Seriously. As I say in Rule 1 of You Cannot Be Serious, and I quote:

 

"...underneath the all-too-common verbiage ['I can't] it's that I don't really want to. Because if I really wanted to run a marathon (and I don't), I could. It would suck, and I might die mid-way through training, but I could do it (if I didn't die mid-way through training). I simply choose not to."

I'm pretty sure, however, that Never Say No To Tracy is the as-yet-unpublished Rule 36. So I said Yes.

That was my first mistake.

My second mistake, in case you're wondering, was telling her that she would have to endure my whining during training. Apparently she finds whining entertaining. Super.

Sidenote: Shortly after I agreed to do the 5K, Tracy took advantage of the cautious empowerment I was feeing and asked me to do the Tough Mudder with her. AND I AGREED. Because I'm stupid. And then, suddenly, everyone got all excited about the risk of electrocution halfway through Tough Mudder, and I was like, "Wait. You mean I have to run AND quite probably get electrocuted?"

So, yeah, I'm not doing Tough Mudder. I mean, not this year. 

Also, no one bothered to mention in that discussion that Tough Mudder is 13 miles. (Plus electrocution.) I might as well just kiss everyone I love goodbye at the starting line because I won't cross the finish line until ... ever. 

Anyway. Back to this 5K I've gotten myself into (oh, and Jaime from Glendale? She got herself into it as well via my Facebook page this morning. And I'm hereby holding her to the You Don't Say No to Tracy standard). 

In preparation for this event, I've gotten myself not one but TWO trainers.

They are persistent and they know how to push my buttons. They are also 13. 

Here we are before our first run. You can probably infer exactly the way it went down by the looks on their faces, specifically the one in green.

The first run involved some absolutely unacceptable training approaches. Approaches which sadly worked. 

I shall detail them in the next post. 

Now...who's gonna join us?

9 Lessons from an Angel

*Photo pilfered from an amazing friend of the Floyd's Facebook page because it's perfect

I've had my fingers on the keyboard for 17 minutes.

I want the perfect beginning because anything less is not enough. I'm trying to put into words inexplicable thoughts and feelings and Henry's simultaneously asking me how to wash a plate and it's hopefully understandable, therefore, that nothing poetic is coming. So I'm just going to let my thoughts flow and pray that it's coherent.

Time is Relative

There are people you can know your whole life and yet never really know. And there are people you can know for a short time who will impact the trajectory of your thoughts and your actions for the rest of your life. Nick, you and your family are the latter.  

Being Alive Isn't the Same as Living

Some people live to be 105 but never really live. Nick really lived. He took nothing---and no one---for granted. He lived every moment. Every experience. Every trip. Every thank you. Every card. Every zoo light. Every scoop of sorbet. Every glazed donut. Every moment with a hand on his hand. Every wish. Every everything.

Listening is Valuable

Nick was always listening. He is still listening. I'm sure of it. 

Your Friends Are a Window into Your Soul

If you want to know who a person is at his core, look at the people who surround him during his darkest hour. For Nick, there is Nathan, who was---at one point---photographed wearing hot pink stretch pants and a hot pink shirt (I trust that won't happen again, but I'm afraid it might). There is Maddie, who is quiet and peaceful (and tolerant of Nathan!). There is Zach, who was at Nick's side right after being released from the hospital from having his left arm and shoulder amputated. There are his siblings and cousins and other friends who didn't shy (or run) away in fear from what was happening but instead jumped in and did whatever was necessary for their friend. There is his girl, and I don't have to meet her to know what a beautiful spirit she is.

This circle of Nick's has caused me to wonder: Of the people who surround each of us, which of them would continue to surround us in our darkest hour? For these people are the purest reflection of what we have put into the world. As we enter a new year, I'm taking stock of those people in my own life. Who would be there? Who has been there? Who lifts me up? Who accepts me for me? Who is a reflection of the type of person I aspire to be? Those who don't fit into any of these categories---who don't make me better, don't have my own best self in mind, don't make me proud when I see their attitudes and approaches and values staring back at me in the mirror---they will be graciously left in the album known as "People I Liked At One Point for Some Reason But Who Will Stay in 2014." And I certainly wish them well because I believe that's what Nick would suggest that we do. 

God Moments Happen

I know this because I had one with Nick. It's not possible for me to describe it. I don't even need to. It was 3 minutes of peace and love and God and the deepest understanding that we are all connected. And I'm forever blessed by it.

Attitude is Everything

Good or bad can be found in any situation. No matter how badly he felt, Nick found the good. When he was frustrated, he was frustrated, of course. But he expressed it and moved forward. He never let it take over. Frustration wasn't his overriding emotion---not by a long shot. He is the epitome of grace under fire. 

Be Love

Enough said.

Angels Are Everywhere

The most amazing people came forward---by the tens of thousands---to support Nick and his family in whatever way they could. Each of these people believes that where there's a will, there's a way. That where there is great love, anything is possible. That the answer is not "No" but instead "How?"

Dragons were delivered from all corners of the globe (does a globe have corners?). An 8-year-old girl gladly awoke early to buy donuts not for herself but for Nick, and she'd never met him. An amazing couple happened to be in London at the precise moment he found his dream leather jacket---in London! And they carried it onto the plane with them as the priceless item that it is so as to not let it out of their sight for one second before it got to him. Tattoos were drawn in Sharpie. And then in ink. Perfect strangers dropped food anonymously at the doorstep. People who might not otherwise have met began relationships that will undoubtedly continue for years to come.

Nick brought people together. Period.  

You Can't Stop the Waves, but You Can Learn How to Surf

And my God did Nick ever surf. Both metaphorically and literally. If he can do it mere weeks after major surgery, feeling like garbage, I can do it. Costa Rica, I'm coming. And Nick, if you could just drop a string down from Heaven to which I can hold on so I don't end up looking like an idiot, I'd so greatly appreciate it.

I'm so blessed to be able to call you My Friend, Nicholas. In such a short time, you opened my heart and made it better. I use the word "is" when I describe you. Not "was." Because your spirit will be here with us forever. Your lessons will be here forever. You are forever teaching and touching and amazing so many. 

May you spread the wings you've always had that simply couldn't be seen here on Earth.

And may you spend forever and a day surfing the sky on your very own dragon. 

All my love,