Saturday, December 29, 2012

another day, another year

It's been 10 days since I last posted, not quite what I meant to happen in this gratitude season. Although, as one lovely woman put it "I'm behind in posting my gratitudes, not feeling them."  Which is rather the whole point -- to take a minute, or several, and find the calming thanks in the day, in our lives.

So, there's a small slew of photos to come, representing some of the things that have made me grateful in the past two weeks.  Holiday lights, smooth travel, catching up with a friend I'm not sure I've seen in person in almost 15 years.  Free champagne.  Giggling with El Bandito.  The lakeshore on a morning run.  The lakeshore, from the other side, on a chilly afternoon with a dark snowstorm on the horizon.
They'll come, when I download them from devices or swipe them from El Bandito.  Or they won't, but I will have held those moments and their messages in my heart in gratitude. Either way.

And today?  Today I turned 40.

It was a good, and low-key birthday. Thoroughly spoiled by El Bandito and my sister, brother-in-law, and parents.  Given a perfect gift from the inlaws of donations to three charities I fully believe in.  Had a walk with El Bandito, lunch with my designated "best friend", dinner with the family.  A crazy workout sequence from my conditioning coach which let me hit my "40 for 40" goals (40 reps of each of a dozen exercises, in a flowing sequence repeated 10 times with recovery exercises inbetween).

It was a good day. It's been a good year, and I have no reason to believe 2013 will be any different. More adventures, together and apart.  More meals with friends and hikes and travel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Somewhere I never imagined...

Titling this got Somewhere Over the Rainbow stuck in my head.

That's not entirely inappropriate.

I don't even have words for how grateful I am for trapeze and all that it has brought me.

El Bandito took this during the weekend's shows -- the lighting was bad (although there are some good photos and decent video).

If you'd asked me in college, I would have said there was no chance of my doing anything like this. Rock-climbing and kayaking were the limits of what I knew as extreme.

If you'd asked me in grad school, I was depressed and cranky. I would probably have snapped at you.

If you had asked me, even in the first few years after I discovered that ordinary people could try things at a circus school, if I'd ever perform, I probably would have laughed.

And then sometime in the last few years, I was willing to try it. Terrified, but anxious to move forward and do something, not just the physical challenge of it, but a mental/psychological one too.

Trapeze has given me a higher level of fitness than I ever expected, the chance to do extraordinary things on a random Sunday afternoon, and several of my closer friends.

And... I'm looking for more performance venues. (Don't worry, Bandito, I'm not quitting the day job...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

the big one

This post should have happened on Saturday, to coincide with El Bandito's birthday. So, reset your mental clocks -- it's Saturday! Whooo!

But my extreme gratitude for El Bandito doesn't really know about calendars. He deserves it each and every day.

This past year has been one where I've gotten to try new things, explore new worlds.
And through it all, he's been there, supporting, encouraging, beaming with pride.

Standing by the side of the course during my first half-marathon, slapping my hand in a high-five as I ran past, cheering me on as I crossed the finish.

When I said I wanted to go dance on walls at a local aerial dance studio weekend, he said "that sounds like something you'd really enjoy. go for it".

When I performed trapeze publicly for the first time (and then, months later, the 2nd, third and 4th times), he was watching from the audience. Proud of me for being there, for doing it. Taking photos and grinning at me.

When I decided this summer that I wanted to not go to a work-related conference but instead go to an aerial dance workshop  camping in the mountains that overlapped on the calendar, he approved.  He lent me his camera, and told me to come home with stories. That workshop might have been the longest we've gone without hearing each other's voice (or at least email) in the entirely of our 19 years together.  It was an incredible, amazing experience for me, made even sweeter by how happily he welcomed me home.

These are just some of the big things. This year's been so full, mostly in a wonderful way. Having El Bandito by my side, telling me to ahead and try? An amazing and awesome gift.

And then there are so many little things. The tasty dinners, the clean kitchen, the way he brings me coffee in the morning. The way he can make me laugh until I start wheezing. The inside jokes. The way we sometimes finish each other's sentences (although sometimes he also complains when I don't complete my sentence because I assume he can fill in the rest). The way he puts my shoes away, even when I've intentionally left them for easy access.

And for a lovely Saturday birthday brunch, followed by a stroll and tasty rice pudding on a chill gray December day.

Who knew we'd grow together so well?  From two young kids to now, it's been a turbulent ride.  Thank you, dearest husband. Happy Birthday. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You rock my world. It's not always easy, but it's always worth it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

gratitude, a mess of days

Because the last few days have been oh-so-busy. In good ways, but oh-so-busy.

And the point of this "gratitude blogging" isn't to make it a chore, but to take a few moments every day to think about the things I'm grateful for.

I've actually done that a lot in the last few days.  I've been doing a trapeze show this weekend -- fairly informal, a bit like a student recital rather than the themed show that we did in the spring.  It takes up time, but there's also a lot of "hurry up and wait", and blog posts don't get written during hurry up and wait. Instead, thoughts get filed.

So: Gratitude, day 13?
the easy run in the park I jammed into my schedule. I didn't have time. But I needed that hour where I breathed in and moved in an entirely different way. The air was crisp and the light slanted and beautiful.

Gratitude, day 14.  Watching a five-year-old girl perform a hand-balancing act with her father. It was adorable, and life-affirming, and it was a day that needed that.
The show we're doing is very kid-oriented, and it was just delightful to see the smiles and the laughter after the news.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

neck hang

Last week, for the first time ever, I did neck hang on a hoop. Which is pretty much what it sounds like -- you hang with the back of your neck against/over the hoop (or bar, or rope loop, depending on your apparatus), with your head on one side and your body arched.

I've been working on this trick on trapeze for what seems like *forever*.  Last week, trying it on the hoop, it suddenly clicked, the way that the weight needs to be proportioned, where the hoop needs to be placed on the back of the neck, how to get into it, how to hold it.

Then, the next day, I did it on trapeze. Not a fluke.

This week, I repeated it on hoop. My coach told me to tell my husband I should get champagne. Ahem, Bandito, I see bubbly in my future, oui?

There is something so fundamentally satisfying about finally getting a trick I've been working on for such a long time. It felt like a gift.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

real mail

A postcard from Singapore.
A Christmas card and holiday note (with *adorable* photos of my current favorite toddler) and her dads.

Most days, the post just contains bills and ads.  Getting too pieces of personal mail in one day? Pretty awesome.

In college, and in the early years of graduate school, I had friends with whom I corresponded. Letters. Actual missives on paper, though we also took advantage of emails.  I have boxes of those old letters stored away, though every few years I cull some.  We decorated the envelopes. we drew pictures and told stories, and... yeah, I miss getting such lovely things in the mail. It's not like I kept it up either though.

Every once in a while, I get inspired to send a postcard or two to distant friends.  And I'm ever so pleased and grateful when such things find their way into my mailbox.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

unexpected creme brule

There's a "Creme Brule" cart in my city (and now they've got a truck, and a walk-up shop window).  It was a brilliant idea, and they seem to get enough business to keep 'em going and expand the business.

I wasn't expecting them to be there on a Sunday afternoon. So it was a delightful surprise to come down the block and spot them across the street.  Delicious.  And I love when simple errand running turns into a spontaneous little date.

So many awesome little things in my life.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

coyote snarl

I didn't really want to run today.

But I'm trying to get my miles in despite all of my time training trapeze right now -- it's up in the air as to whether I'm really doing a half marathon in early February, but if I am I need to get miles in the bank.

Which is all beside the point.

It was a beautiful day for a run. Perfect weather, late afternoon slanted sunlight. And I was still feeling cantankerous when I headed out the door.

Only a minute or two into my run, I stopped.
Because trotting across the open field in the park was a coyote.
I know that there are coyotes in the park. There are warning signs and I've seen photos.
And I've always hoped to see one. I like predators.

Nonchalant, she stopped, watched me. Circled cautiously, crossing the path about 10 feet from me. We were both just watching each other. Casual, but very aware.
She sauntered a little off the path, and I started moving again, but slowly, watching her agile form.
And as I watched, she lifted one edge of her upper lip into a snarl -- aimed not at me, but at the two large poodles coming down the path behind me.

It felt like a gift. a little moment.

The rest of my run didn't measure up to the beginning. But what does that matter?

Friday, December 7, 2012

the friday pilates gang

I started doing pilates as part of my rehab post shoulder surgery.
I kept doing it because it was a great complement to aerial -- working core strength and flexibility in a much gentler fashion.

Along the way, I stumbled into a small group (class size is capped at 5) of folks who show up every week.  Who make me smile and laugh, even while we're holding crazy poses and E. is telling us to breathe and to drop our shoulders.

The camaraderie is part of the fun. It's why I keep that weird Friday slot in my workout schedule.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

post-workout hot shower

Today's gratitude? Nothing profound. Nothing verbose.  But 3.5 days after we lost our hot water, we have a new hot water heater.I came home tonight after a hard trapeze class with a few new tricks and running my act a few times. I must say, having a hot shower, in my own home rather than the gym?  Pretty darn awesome. It'll be a while before I take that entirely for granted again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

today's text messages

We're on day 3 of no hot water. Monday's gratitude for clean water hasn't entirely deteriorated, but the annoyances of dealing with less-than-reality-based landlords and lack of hot water in our homem shower have gotten old already.

Today was full of annoyance.  Mixed with a little fear and trepidation, thanks to a bit of  health-related news that wasn't entirely optimal. Nothing major, but still not the sorta thing you really want to hear or deal with.

But I got a handful of texts from a small group of folks who'd been waititng to hear the news.  Full of support and genuine caring.  Sometimes, this short-attention-span, digital-theater, crazy snippets of technology world?  Sometimes, it allows people simple and quick connection.

And after circus time and dinner and margaritas with a good friend, I'm no less appreciative of those messages of love and offers of assistance.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the old workhorse

There's pumpkin pie in the oven right now.  Over Thanksgiving, I made an excess of pie crust, trying out gluten-free crust for the first time, since El Bandito has been having some nasty reactions to wheat.

I'd frozen the extra crust, but then moved into the fridge on Sunday with grand plans. Today was sort of the last chance to use it.  I didn't actually make pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I made pumpkin cheesecake and cranberry-meringue tart, but no pumpkin pie. Seemed like the thing to do with the remaining crust. So after my run, and eating some of the delicious soup El Bandito made, I pulled out the KitchenAid...

The KitchenAid just makes baking easier. Minimal dishes, minimal cleanup -- I love my kitchen scale, too, for the way it has simplified the measuring cup situation.

El Bandito's parents gave us this KitchenAid mixer for a wedding present -- they spoiled us with it and with a Cuisinart, which is probably El Bandito's favorite kitchen appliance. Well, that, the mandoline, or the immersion blender. The man likes his gadgets.

But this? This is my workhorse.  With an extra bowl and an extra paddle, for those days I end up making complicated pastries and am too impatient to wash and dry.

So, it's nothing drastic or profound, but today, I'm simply thankful for the things which make life easier, and for the smell of pumpkin pie starting to drift through the house.

Monday, December 3, 2012

hot water

The hot water heater quit this morning.

Pretty strange thing to put in a "gratitude" post, eh?

I admit, it made us pretty grumpy -- especially because our landlord isn't the easiest guy to deal with.

But we managed.  El Bandito has the flexibility to work at home today; I can work at home tomorrow if necessary to accommodate the plumbers.

And frankly? we're pretty lucky. We *have* hot water, the vast majority of the time. We have resources if something goes wrong. We have schedule flexibility. We can always shower at the gym if necessary.  We can heat water on the stove to wash dishes if necessary. Annoying, but not really that bad.

Sent off a little extra to charity:water when I finally got to work. Because I may not have had a hot shower this morning, but I have clean water to drink. And the opportunity to help a little bit for those who don't.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

eating ice cream in the rain

Much of my weekend is filled. (actually, most of my MONTH is filled). With fun things, but without lots of room to just say "hey, let's _____."  I'm starting to actually run my trapeze act getting ready for a show mid-month; I'm training for a half-marathon in February.  So yesterday's goals were: drag self to circus gym, run act at least twice.  later, go for a 5-6 mile run. Goals accomplished.

When I told El Bandito my plans in the morning, I stated them in short declarations.
And added "then date." He obliged.

It's pouring rain over here on the left coast. Nowhere near cold enough for an outdoor ice rink. Sloppy and sloshy. We didn't skate. (photo by El Bandito)

But we wandered around downtown with the bustle and the holiday shoppers and the rain.  Ooohed and aaahed at the cuteness of the adoptable kittens and puppies in a joint venture between the SPCA and a large department store.  Ate ice cream before dinner, with rain dripping on us, while we watched small children wobbling on their skates in the puddled ice.  It's not the first time we've eaten ice cream in the rain.

Stopped for dinner on the way home. Sat in the car for 10 minutes after parking at home to finish the rest of the short story being read on the radio.

I'm grateful that we can fit an hour or two of just hanging out time into a busy weekend. I was grinning watching the ice rink.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

it's December, y'all

Said with the closest thing to a Texas accent that I can muster.

and I have so many stories to catch up on, so many thoughts I'd like to share here, not because I think there are that many people who want to read them, but because it's a bit of a way to keep track.

This isn't that post. And maybe those posts will never happen. 
Instead, I'm reposting something from just about a year ago, updated.

Three or four years ago, I found a lovely blog in December, which actually belonged to an old friend who is Texan through and through, in all the best ways, far as I can tell. She had started a project called "30 days to a grateful heart" -- to consciously find, for the busy holiday season, things that made her thankful.

Two years ago, she invited people to join her. Last year the circle grew.

The exercise made me more aware of the little things, and the big ones, that make up my days. And made me think about *why* I'm grateful for those things.

Most days, I do know how awesome my life is. But it's easy to get caught up in the details and the annoyances. Sometimes, I need to stop and think about all the things that make my life so awesome.

So, today, I'm starting another month of recognitions. 
And I'm starting it simply, just like I did last year.
Thankful for the reminders.  For this idea, and the community I've seen grow around it.

Happy December, y'all.  I'm glad my path crossed that of a fabulous Texas lady so many years ago.