Friday, February 24, 2012

Beach Trips & Tattoos

Marci, JulieAnn and I have been a trio for nearly ten years.  It occurred to me this past weekend, as we spent our third annual trip together, how things have changed.  We used to talk about which college to attend, which boys we thought were cute, and how excited we were to get our driver's licences.  Then it became who we wanted to marry, where we wanted to live, and what careers we wanted.  Now our discussions revolve around when we want to start having babies, which eye creams and anti-aging products are best (apparently JulieAnn and I are too late and should have started using such things by now), and things like budgets, investments, and 401ks.  It's odd to think that we've gotten this far, that these conversations are actually relevant to us, that we are, in society's eyes, "grown-ups".  When I look at my girls I see beautiful, accomplished women, yet sometimes I still see my two sixteen year-old friends who skipped drama class with me to go get ice cream cones at McDonald's.

I treasure these friendships for selfish reasons - I'm really the one who benefits most in this group.  JulieAnn is consistently joyful and positive and reminds me to always be excited about life.  Marci is an incredible listener, and remembers details about me and my family that I forgot I even told her.  She reminds me to stay connected to others, to invest in the lives of those I care about.  And both of them have been the best cheerleaders I could have ever asked for.  They are arguably my biggest fans, most likely because they have seen my highs and my lows.  I occasionally make them laugh with my sarcastic, cynical remarks, which I'm assuming is why they keep inviting me and letting me be their friend.

We had a relaxing weekend at Marci's home, where we read celebrity gossip magazines, watched Khloe and Lamar, laughed, talked, and drank a lot of coffee.

Happily, Marci's husband's initials coincide with mine and JulieAnn's names, so we all happened to have our own lettered mugs.

We walked down to the Orange Circle and Olde Towne Plaza to go antiquing.  The Circle reminds me so much of downtown Petaluma, and walking from Marci's to the shops reminded me of walking from my home to the antique stores in Petaluma.  Oh, California, I've missed you so.

Here I am telling the sun how much I love him and to keep sending the Vitamin D.

The Starbucks in the Circle is in the inside of a bank.  Gorgeous building.  The only prettier Starbucks I've seen was in Boston.

Every time the three of us have a weekend together, we have a photo shoot on the beach.  First in Santa Barbara, then in Bodega Bay, and this time in Newport.  (Also, apparently there is a Newport Beach in Oregon...makes for confusion when I tell people I went to California and went to Newport Beach.)



Who wouldn't love these two?  I mean, really.

Honestly, doesn't this make you want to be friends with them?  Adorable.


Poor Marc has endured lots of this over the past nearly fifteen years.
 Pensive.

My feet missed the warm sand.

Also, this happened.
 I've been wanting this tattoo for awhile.  The swirls are for my hubby's initials, "S.S."  The cross is for Jesus. :)

We went to dinner.

Got pedicures.

Had a yummy breakfast with vanilla chai lattes at The Filling Station.

And we laughed a lot.

I'm looking forward to seeing how our friendships grow and develop more over the years, and I'm excited for when our visits turn into camping trips with our kids - when we actually need that anti-wrinkle cream.  I wish we all lived closer and could see each other every week, but the fact that we don't makes these trips even more precious.  It's always bittersweet, not knowing when we'll see each other next, but I'm grateful for these stolen moments to remind me just how blessed I am.  

And girls, next time we're all getting tattoos.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Better than me

Recently I had this brilliant idea to try something I've never done before.  This new thing is to try thinking that others are better than me.

Totally wild, right?  I know this may come as a shock, but I am actually completely arrogant and prideful.  And don't feel bad if that doesn't come as a shock to you.  I'm not always so good at hiding it.

Lately I have been faced with just how arrogant I am in always assuming my way is the right way.  I have always had a big mouth when it comes to questioning authority, especially when something doesn't make sense to me.  I was that daughter that asked why I had to do my chores before playing outside and demanded the logic be explained to me.  I was the annoying student who questioned the purpose of assigned homework.  In water polo, my coach gave me the "Most Mouthy" award for how often I questioned her reasoning behind different drills.  If something wasn't explained in a way I deemed satisfactory, I made it known that I thought it was stupid.  I'm still that way.

I'm also quite a bit of a people-pleaser, so oftentimes I will obediently complete what is asked, but internally I'm only thinking about how ridiculous the duties are that I'm being asked to perform.  I might have fooled some people into thinking I am humble, but I'm not.  I think the way I do things is the best way, and I wonder at why anyone would do anything differently.

This mindset leads to a lot of judgment from me.  I judge choices that I don't agree with, and I judge beliefs that are not identical to my own.  And I'm tired of judging the world based on my ideas.  It has taken some time for me to accept, but the truth is that I may not always be right.  (But don't tell Sam.)

Someone else had this idea back in the day, and actually wrote about it in a fairly popular book.  There was this guy, Paul, and supposedly when he was in prison he wrote this letter to the church at Philippi.  Philippians 2:3-4 says, 

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (ESV)

I also really love the New Living Translation: 

"Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too."


Don't be selfish.  Put others needs before my own?  Hmm...no, I'd rather have what I want, even if it is at the expense of someone else, because it is what makes me happy.  And that's all that matters. 

Don't try to impress others.  Um, what?  Isn't that why I was put on this earth - so people could have the chance to admire me and my life?  Obviously I want everyone to be impressed with my writing, my cooking skills, my home, my marriage, my hair, my clothes, the fancy trips I take, my musical talent.  If not for my own glorification, then what for? 

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Now that's just crazy talk.  After all, applying this would include assuming that the choices others make that I think are stupid might actually be smarter than my own, or that people can decide for themselves how they live their lives without my judgment.  Also, it might include some understanding on my part that the choices people make are based on their experience and knowledge, both of which I am not privy to.

The truth is, if I choose to believe in God and follow Him, that means He's the One I answer to, and I need to follow what His Word says.  That means I need to stop judging, to stop assuming my way is always best, and to consider others as better than myself.  Yes, it also means I believe God's way is best, but it means I don't force those ways onto those who don't believe in God.  After all, what reason would someone have to obey God when they don't believe He exists?

This is going to be very hard for me, and I know I need to be patient with myself.  When those judgmental thoughts jump into my head, I need to take these thoughts captive and turn them around.  My plan is to simply memorize this verse and meditate on it, and repeat it when I catch myself being a jerk.  (I'm also going to try and be a nicer driver on the West Salem bridge, assuming that other driver's time is more valuable than my own.  This one might be the hardest.)  I know it will be difficult, but it will be worth it.  I'm excited to start taking my focus off of myself and instead think of others and how I can help or encourage them.  I'm sure I'll be happier because of it.

There's a lot more I've been thinking about this (and obviously I assume everyone wants to read my important ponderings), but for now I must go to bed.  I've got an early date with the airport to go visit my precious Mar-Mar and JA.  Night, all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Les Mis? Lesmazing!

(The title of this blog must be attributed to Sam, who would not stop saying it after we saw Les Mis in Portland last year.)

They (whoever "they" are) have decided to make another Les Mis movie, this time a musical version.

New favorite movie?  Very possible.

It is not scheduled to come out until December 7th, and currently it is in production, but the cast list has me pretty excited.  First of all, I've heard Samantha Barks was cast as Eponine.  This is Samantha performing "A Little Fall of Rain" in London.  Video quality isn't great but based on this clip I think she'll make a great Eponine.  (Much better than the other actresses who were reportedly in the running - Scarlett Johannson?  Thank you, filmmakers, for not casting her and possibly ruining my favorite role.)


If I could ever live my dream of performing on Broadway, I'd want to play Eponine.

Amanda Seyfried is Cosette, which I can picture, but I just can't see Anne Hathaway as Fantine - hoping she will surprise me.  Hugh Jackman will play Jean Valjean, which is great because he has such extensive theater experience, though he will be following a long line of amazing vocalists who have played the role, and has rather large shoes to fill.  I'm pretty stoked to see Russell Crowe as Javert, and I think Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen will be perfect as the Thenardiers.

This is the Finale, performed by my favorite actors who have played the roles of Jean Valjean and Eponine. Not sure what language the lyrics are in, but I know it isn't French.


The lyrics - incredible.  "To love another person is to see the face of God."  Best show ever.

I will now be counting down the days until December 7th!  (And I realize this was probably not the least bit interesting to anyone except probably my sisters, Marci, and Bree.  Sorry people, I'm just too excited about this.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Visit

Bree came to visit.  We ate a lot of food, we drank a lot of coffee, we talked about books, and we laughed a lot, especially after taking hilarious pictures.  This is why I like Bree.
We walked across the bridge to West Salem.
I tried to convince Bree to go sit on the bench in the park.  Yes, Salem has experienced some flooding recently.  Can you see the bench half immersed in water?

We stopped by Ike Box for the best soy chai I've ever had.  Bree got a vegan chocolate cookie.
We stuffed our faces at Venti's with their amazing sweet potato fries with coconut dipping sauce and honey drizzled on top.  Favorite.
We each ate our own bag of popcorn while we watched Midnight in Paris.  We both really love popcorn, and we used to do this all the time when we were roommates.  Speaking of Midnight in Paris, I highly recommend it.  I'm not a big Woody Allen fan, but this one was especially inspiring, and fun for anyone who enjoys literature, since a lot of the characters were writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway.  It just made me want to write!  And for the first time, it actually made me want to go to Paris.

Morty jumped on Bree's lap and totally made her night.  I must admit, I love having people around who love kitties as much as I do.  Bree was taking pictures of them and ignoring me to play with them half the time, which made me happy.  It's almost like when someone likes your kids as much as you do, since right now, my kitties are the closest thing I have to kids.
We wanted to get a picture with her red jacket and my red pants.  And, of course, Morty and Willow.

On Tuesday we made our way to Portland.  Our first stop was this place.
Bree got the Northwest corn cakes, and I had the brown rice porridge with currants and coconut sauce, with a corn muffin.  Seriously, if anyone tries the food from Vita, you wouldn't think gluten-free or vegan would be difficult because it's some of the best breakfast I've ever had!  It's right up there with Howard's.  (Oh, Howard's.)
We strolled down Alberta Street, then made our way downtown.  We were headed to Powell's Bookstore when we saw this really incredible elephant.
Ah, Powell's.  Every book lover should visit.  Bree and I could have gotten lost in there, or spent the entire day in there.  We literally made ourselves leave.  So many books!  So many used books, which is delightful.  I love wondering who owned a book before I did, and the paths it crossed before making its way into my hands.
Bree was stoked about her purchases.  I can't remember if that's Dostoyevski or Hugo she's holding in the picture.  I got a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and I finally bought myself a copy of Les Miserables.  The day before, I bought Jane Eyre and another book by Mark Twain from a used bookstore in Salem.  Yes, basically food, coffee, and used bookstores are all it takes to make me and Bree happy.
Speaking of coffee, we stopped by Public Domain for some amazing hand-crafted beverages.  One of my coworkers at Starbucks always raves about it, and since Bree has never had a cappuccino as good as the ones she had in Italy, we thought we'd give it a shot.  (Haha, pardon the pun.)
We decided to go down by the water and frolic on the grass. 
Bree was much better at frolicking than I was.  See?
I never feel quite so ungraceful as when I'm with Bree.
Next we went to Departure for happy hour.  Departure is a restaurant at The Nines hotel, with great sushi and drinks.  Sam and I went there once with our friends Greg and Savannah, which is how I knew about it.
 The bathrooms at the restaurant looked like a spaceship to me and Bree, so we decided to have a little photo shoot, because that is completely normal.
My face in this last one is because we heard someone coming in the door.  And yes, taking pictures of ourselves in the bathroom mirror is slightly embarrassing and I didn't want to get caught.

It was so much fun having Bree visit.  We talked a lot about reading and books, and she inspired me to be a lot more diligent about reading and keeping track of what I read.  And it made me realize how much I love being a hostess and having guests.  Seriously, if anyone wants to come visit, we would love to have you.  (Super excited for James and Monica to come in April!)  It also made me really thankful for friendship, and the fact that Bree lives only four short hours away.

And now I plan to go to the gym and work off the mounds of food we consumed.
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