This is Still Life

Maybe you should take that painting class you told me about. The one Jane is taking.

He could tell that I was in one of my, “I’m just a mom” moods. It would come over me every so often–the feeling that I had somehow lost myself in my effort to raise someone else. We only had 2 kids at the time, but they were small and we were in a foreign country (albeit an awesome one). Mike was dealing with the Global Financial Crisis around the clock, while I figured out how to navigate the Southern Hemisphere solo and keep our young safe from the notorious wildlife of Australia. I was grateful for the adventure, but had given up teaching to get there, and had trouble fully embracing the domestic monotony that sometimes accompanies the early years of motherhood.

Mike was always impressed with my doodling. It honestly wasn’t anything to write all the way home about, but I did seem to have a mild obsession with making shapes and patterns when asked to sit and focus for any length of time. And I was a little jealous of my neighbor Jane and the awesome art she was making, seemingly out of nowhere. So I took his sage wisdom and signed up for the Beginners Still Life painting class at the Ku-Ring-Gai Art Center which was in my neighborhood. ( I also tried the “Get Fit” tennis class that was adjacent to the Art Center, but I don’t really want to talk about it. It didn’t go as well.)

I was terribly uneasy about the class at first; sure that I would embarrass myself or break some unspoken cardinal rule of painting. I didn’t know how to buy supplies let alone produce anything. But our instructor, Eve Pitt, put me at ease. She treated everyone in the room like an artist. She taught me to notice the little things that make a painting beautiful, the shadows and light, the stride of the color across the page, the story being told…

She taught me to trust my eyes and my imagination at the same time. I always thought it was one or the other. But, I quickly discovered that the best art emerged when the two worked together. When trust and courage combined. In many ways it was the very lesson I needed to learn as a mom. That motherhood was still life–not merely sacrifice. And that art can be seen everywhere you choose to look for it. In the child’s shadow on the concrete, or the way spilled milk makes a pattern on the floor. There are life lessons in every creative endeavor if you have the imagination to see them.

In homage to Eve, the Heart Gallery will now be hosting classes for beginning artists that want a courageous deep dive into painting. Although, we have already completed week one of our Still Life course, new painters are welcome to join us for week 2 and 3. A Portrait and Landscape series will be posted in the coming weeks as well.

FAQ: Will wine and such be available to me? Yes.

Do I need my own supplies? No. You can if you want though.

It’s just a Business Baby

Small business ownership is akin to raising a child.

It needs constant attention. It cries when you don’t feed it money. It keeps you up at night. It wants you to take it places. It laughs at you when you are not keeping up with the latest trends. It needs your time and energy and unyielding support. It is anxiety provoking. It wants attention on social media. It makes you question your life choices. But, it also inspires you and challenges you to do better and be better. It wants to grow and become independent. It cares about its appearance and desires recognition. It wants to be successful. It wants to come first.

It is hard to raise four kids, 3 animals and a business. Because when it comes down to it, the business doesn’t come first. It doesn’t come last either. The hedgehog does. But, it definitely needs more nurture than it currently receives. What you feed grows, and so we must find a way to satiate our entrepreneurial offspring without starving the others so that it can grow and mature and be a blessing to our community, which is what we want for our kids too. And we will.

And so the Heart Gallery would like to recognize all the families that are about to send their kids back into the wild, and all the logistical madness and mayhem that comes with it, by inviting you to a Back to School, All Ages Paint and Sip at Logan Brewery tomorrow night. Let’s paint and sip, and process all that this time of year brings. And in doing so, we will grow together!

Hope to see you there.

Care to Karaoke?

There are few things more demoralizing than singing karaoke to an empty room.

Poorly attended paint and sips and wardrobe malfunctions are in the running, but I am not sure either arrive at downright depressing.

We started adding Karaoke to our Heart Gallery event offerings after I realized the only thing better than spontaneous sing-alongs, were sing-a-longs with hot mics and lyrical guidance. All of the patrons we polled expressed excitement about the prospect and promised their attendance.

In reality, our karaoke nights look more like a break up scene in a bad rom-com, replete with a lonely bartender and a DJ dressed up like a wizard. Why a wizard? Because we believed we were bringing magic to Burien. But, I think he might just be making people uncomfortable.

We’ve tried to drum up interest via social media, but apparently my microphone painting looked like a lovers package product and my posts were ill timed. Your not exactly supposed to avoid traffic on the internet. Our trusty DJ even tried old school flyer distribution. But, apparently walking around in 90 degree weather in a wizard costume, passing out karaoke paraphernalia is frowned upon in these parts. We also tried the Silk Sonic approach of just leaving the door open and singing hard to draw in customers from neighboring businesses. But instead of enticing the Angelos crowd into joining the musical magic…we seemed to repel them. You don’t want potential patrons to walk by and feel bad for you.

Last week, I went ahead and just embraced the discomfort–selecting every song about rejection we could think of in an effort to turn humiliation into good humor. Here are some sample.

New York. Just Like I Pictured It. Skyscrapers. And Everything.

In an unfortuante turn of events, Mike returned to finance last year. We didn’t have much choice. We had to get back on the hamster wheel or let the Heart Gallery become just another covid-lockdown casualty.

One of the only perks of his job is the occasional work trip to a place you may not otherwise venture. This time, it was New York City, and fortunately, I got to be his sidekick on a whirlwind trip to the Big Apple.

It felt like walking through a cliche–magazine stands, hotdog carts, all night pizza availability, and billboards creating literal giants out of celebrities and products. It felt a little more Blade Runner than Pretty Woman though. Sirens wailed without ceasing and garbage bags were stacked like cheer camp pyramids in front of nearly every building. Wafts of rotting food and other mysterious aromas permeated the air and made it a little tough to do any deep breathing.

My disdain for the city’s handling of rubbish was assuaged by a sense of historical gratitude for what New York has seen and endured; for the open arms that met my grandfather on Ellis island and the entrepreneurial spirit that built a sprawling metropolis. It is in this spirit of gratitude that I headed out to meet Mike for a rooftop work party. I wanted to show up with that put-together-New York-can-do attitude. So I straightened my haphazardly curly hair, put on my best dress, carefully applied red lipstick, selected manageable heels and proceeded to embark on a one mile journey to the rally point where I would meet Mike and his colleagues. Sure, I was a little worried about the hair and the heels, but remember, I had a can-do attitude on!

There were some white squalls earlier in the day that had given the city and I a good drenching, but the showers had for the most part ceased and blue skies were emerging. The puddle situation however, was still an issue. I did my best to avoid drips from the endless fields of scaffolding and pursued shade with great intention so I could arrive looking dapper with a matte finish. But as I passed the endless mirrored windows on Park Avenue, I noticed that my hair was clearly falling victim to the humidity and I was beginning to look like Monica in the tropics. But, the heels were holding up so I continued walking confidently to my destination. After three wrong turns and a lot of sweating, I approached the final block. I stood at the crosswalk waiting for the New Yorkers around me to start jaywalking so I could too. And then it happened….

A truck with no name blew by me carrying with it a tidal wave of filthy garbage infused rain water. It was like the grand finale at the Bellegio with a touch of raw sewage. I screamed like a horrified debutant whose Gucci dress had been ruined by a clumsy waiter. The nether regions of my (non Gucci) attire and my fancy shoes dripped with foul storm water but there was no waiter to blame. Just myself for standing too close to a New York puddle. My involuntary shriek quickly gave way to hysterical laughter. My dress was sticking to my legs, and my saturated fancy shoes made a pathetic squishy sound that let people know I was coming from a mile away. I crossed the street audibly laughing, head down, in shock, avoiding eye contact with somewhat sympathetic onlookers.

“I am impressed that you are laughing,” said the business man who happened to be standing on the other side of the sidewalk–noticeably far away from the swamp water in the street.

“What else am I gonna do.” I replied, trying to re-establish confidence with good humor.

I arrived to meet my husband and his colleagues looking like I had just left a cocktail party/hot yoga class. I explained the situation at dinner, with as much humility and comic relief as possible so they didn’t feel bad for me. Humiliation is usually worsened by pity, so I did my best to do the self deprecating before anyone else could. But to my surprise, the gentleman across the table had heard of me. That’s right, his friend had texted him about “the lady in the blue dress who got rocked at the crosswalk”. Apparently, my assault was noteworthy even by NY standards. That’s awesome.

The moral of the story?

Don’t take the advanced storm drains and refuse collection system in Washington for

granted. And, come paint with me at the Heart Gallery as soon as possible. We want off the wheel.

Book at

Dog Ownership–What’s the upside?

I once knew a Mum in Australia who threatened her children constantly with NOT getting a dog.

The Heart Gallery–Paint Your Pet Night Backstory

Bella, if you run up ahead of me…NO DOG!!

Hamish, if you hit your brother, NO DOG!!!

I don’t even know if a dog was ever on the table. It didn’t matter. The very idea that a K-9 may one day enter their lives was enough to keep the kids in-line. I used the same threat as a joke for years. It didn’t have the same impact since I was referencing an imaginary dog that we ABSOLUTELY would never own.
My hard line didn’t stop the kids from producing multiple “why we need a dog” presentations.

There were power points, youtube videos, dog-related reality shows, and my personal favorite, a full scale lecture with visual aids and spreadsheets. None of these demonstrations had the desired effect. I was a fortress. A giant physicalized NO. Four kids, a cat, a hedgehog and a dying business seemed like enough stress and responsibility.

Lock down takes a toll on your ability to say no to your family.

Mike always wanted a Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon. It was a bucket list item for him. Not me. My bucket list consists of travel and maybe another tattoo. A dog was on my, “how bout never” list. I am not a fan of K-9 crotch investigations and have always been irritated by planning around dog needs. For example, if a dog is the reason you can’t come to Thanksgiving, you might not make it in my gratitude journal (I don’t currently have one but I will one day).

The “NO DOG” routine I rehearsed earnestly over the years, was no match for a global pandemic.

Just as the six of us were becoming feral as a result of mandated isolation, a litter of Griffs were being domesticated in Central Oregon. Mike and the kids felt the stars had aligned and the Lord Himself had brought a puppy into the world just for us. I felt like that puppy was about to piss on my party.

And so…I fought against the idea…valiantly. I brought to bear lists of my own, outlining in great detail why dogs make life harder. I told stories of my childhood pet, Wheelow, who was a biter, and liked to dance fight. I reiterated Mike’s horror stories about Gus–Gus, who was kicked out of obedience school. I pointed at my deep and abiding fear of pit bulls due to an unfortunate incident I witnessed circa 2004. My cries of “NO DOG” were met with locked arms and wide eyed longing–my red flag discarded and replaced with puppy pictures. Their strategy was impressive and deliberately designed to hack away at my resolve. Each puppy they placed in front of me had a bow around its neck with little description. Mr. Blue–a gentle giant with a penchant for art. And Mr. Red–loves people and long walks on the beach. Mr. Black–has a sweet disposition and intelligence. I added the art and beach part, but the rest is true. They were irritatingly cute.

I started to feel angry at the family for putting me in this position. I didn’t want to be the bad guy. I didn’t want to keep my people from getting to love a dog. We were home all the time, growing weary, our business was shut down, and I was in a dark place as I dealt with the passing of one of my best friends in the whole world–someone who just happened to love dogs as much (if not more) than she loved people. In a weird way, I felt like continuing to stand my ground was passing on an opportunity to love something that she did.

So, I folded.

Enter Anchor


It’s downright cliche–a pandemic puppy. An animal that everyone loves and I take care of. I should give more credit to Mike. He has enjoyed more than his fair share of puppy care, but I did all the late night work. Day three, I was up all night in my closet, cursing my family and trying to love this fuzzy, needy little creature with an underdeveloped bladder. My heart strings were plucked, but all I could hear in my head like a broke LP was “what is the upside”.

The Upside

I think I love my dog. He presses down on my heart (literally) when I am overwhelmed. He looks at me with compassion when I am doing it wrong. He forces me to walk faster than I otherwise would and I think he might even love me.

Fun fact: He has made life harder.

Invitation: Paint your pet night is coming at the Heart Gallery. Bring a picture of your pet, and let’s see what we come up with:) I’m gonna paint that guy (above).

Sip Down and Paint- The true story of the Heart Gallery–Part I

This article was featured in Seattle Refined 2018

In 2016, my husband Mike took a much needed sabbatical from his fancy career in finance–a reward for forking over ten years of his life to “the man”.  It started with pneumonia and a whole lot of soul searching and ended with a beard and a great awakening.  

For over a decade, we had enjoyed financial security, all for the low price of Mike’s sanity.  His suffocating stress, mind numbing fatigue and generalized discontent bought us the American dream. I held down the fort and tried to make home feel better than work did. But, his job had an all access pass to his life. It stayed close to the chest even when he was supposedly “off”, like a chronic cough or a nagging injury.

It was ironic then, that pneumonia marked the beginning of his leave.  A heavy weight on his chest being painfully expelled. For the first time in a long time, there was room for his heart.

Upon returning from sabbatical to the fluorescent lights and sea of screens, it was clear that Mike’s tenure as a Corporate type was coming to a close.  But, our next steps were not yet clear.  A family of six can’t exactly just hop off the hamster wheel and hope for the best. Hamsters need to eat. Especially growing hamsters.

So we started praying in anticipation that next steps would appear before us, like a millennial video game–little blue and pink arrows pointing us away from the wheel and toward both sanity and provision. 

It didn’t really work that way though. Instead, our prayers led to an overhaul of our marriage and revelation of areas we both deeply needed to grow. It was strangely painful, beautiful and important. Without it, we may not have had the provisions needed to take the road less travelled–a road littered with “happy little trees.”

Enter the Heart Gallery

It was 2018. The Marvista Elementary school auction was looking for donations. My PTSA participation had been subpar so far that year, and I had cut back on mascotting after an unfortunate incident on Field Day involving a small group of sixth graders and their desperate search for my true identity.  So, I felt obliged to support  the school’s fundraising effort in some form. Often families who don’t have a tangible item to bestow, host an event of some kind. I loved painting and was a fan of sipping so hosting a paint and sip function seemed like a solid idea.  Mike dressed up as Bob Ross and made homemade lemon drops for the ladies.  The night was magical. Bob was on point, the playlist I assembled was the stuff of legend, and although I fancied myself an amateur painter, I felt like I was in my element.

Reflecting on the wonderful evening, I said, “This could be our business.”

Mike cautiously considered, but didn’t bite. Not yet anyway.  Months elapsed before the idea rose to the surface again. This time on Shark Tank.  Apparently, paint n sip’s weren’t only a thing, they were popping up all over the country and even Barbara and Mr. Wonderful were interested in their profitability. It was then, Mike saw the hook, and took the bait.  He put in is notice and we left the safe harbor of corporate sponsorship to brave new waters–together we created the Heart Gallery Paint and Sip.

It is wise to be fiscally responsible. It is important to be forward thinking. It is a kindness to be prepared.  All these lessons we give to our kids in hopes that they will live comfortable, happy  lives.  But the greater lesson may be that risk is a far greater predictor of reward than fear, and that investing in each other is more important than investing in a 401k.  One is a legacy, the other a safety net.  And since a smooth sea never made a skilled mariner (FDR) we choose legacy.


She was way cooler than me.  She was….I hate the word was.  I hate thinking of her in past tense. I hate the term RIP, because it makes me feel like she is asleep and I can’t wake her up.  I won’t utter the acronym for fear that I am somehow admitting that I don’t get to see her anymore because she is resting forever.  I want her to get up now.  I want to hear her laugh. But, I do hear it. I can hear it right now.  She was amazing at talking and laughing at the same time.  Some of her best material was a mix of the two.  Was. There is that damn word again.

March introduced to me a whole new vocabulary.  Carona, Covid, Social Distancing, Glioblastoma Multiform. The virus and all of its sinister nomenclature has felt utterly secondary to what happened to Lauren.  A nap, ended in a stroke, which revealed  a tumor that would take her life within three months. No mask or hand washing or social distance could stop it.

At first, we all wanted her to fight. I even posted boxing allegories on her caring bridge site.

In the RED Corner:  The Intruder…a tumor from hell that landed a non-lethal but devastating blow in round one! 

In the GOLD Corner: Wearing a savage open faced hospital gown, floral tats and a bad ass new hair cut, is the legend, the icon, the soon to be champion, Lauren Libby.  She is not alone in her fight, having assembled one of the greatest teams of coaches and trainers we have seen to date, to support her as she begins Round Two.  She has already impressed the judges with her courage, perseverance, and ability to rise up to the challenge of her rival. 

Keep fighting the good fight Lauren. We’re in your corner.
#eyeofthetiger #GG4

Round two goes to that son of a bitch in then red corner. But our fighter is still in the ring.  She is still here. And so we go to her corner and prepare for round 3.



Still in the Gold Corner, and soon to be wearing her own clothes, is our fighter. Struck down but not destroyed, her perseverance and strength are impressing the hell out of the judges. And although they say she can’t win the fight, this fighter doesn’t do “can’t”.  So, we will come to her corner, even if we have to stand 6 feet away…


Grieving is a strange thing.  It is a composition of feelings that don’t always naturally play well together.  Certainly not in unison–like gratitude and longing, or desperation and acceptance.  So it is hard music to listen to. When you turn it down, you feel like you need to turn it back on. And when it is on, you wish it would stop.

It’s a fitting analogy since music was our favorite place to meet.

The four of us.  Glorious girlfriends forever. Her name always came first.  Lauren, Julie and Michelle.  It was never a matter of favoritism, it’s just the way it was.  She was the alpha of our foursome. The party would officially begin upon her arrival.  She made things feel wild and safe all at once.  Even though, the four of us were all so different, we were so much the same.  United by what made us laugh, what made us cry, what made us want to sing and dance and dress up and play.  We grew up shoulder to shoulder and and walked through life in full support of one another.  Even at the end. The three of us came to her side together, reminding her that we were not an “us” without her. That our collective was forged with her metal in the fire.  That what we built over 25 years would hold up forever…four walls.  We promised her that her little girl would know that her mother loved her fiercely.

I hate that she is gone & I love that we all loved each other well…all the way to the end.

Lauren forever.




Time to Open Up My Heart…Gallery That Is.

They were parents of four. He was a corporate guy. She was at home with the kids.  He had dreamed of owning a small business. She wanted to paint and make people happy. They both wanted to get off the hamster wheel. After all, they weren’t hamsters and she hated jogging. Together they decided to do life differently. She would create. He would administrate. And together they would make the Heart Gallery.


This is a speaker sheet.  a.k.a.  A shameless self promotion tool that I am using for the noble purpose of rescuing my husband from corporate America by utilizing my unique skill set to engage large collections of human beings for various lengths of time in exchange for US currency and hard laughing.

HP Speaker Sheet



Forty Things

In an effort to make sense of the passing of time, and embrace the transaction taking place of youth for wisdom, I have assembled a non-comprehensive and somewhat unoriginal list of 40 things I have learned over my forty  years.

Playing cards is more fun if you wear bright red lipstick and listen to Vicki Carr. A plate of cold cuts also improves game play–especially generic thin sliced honey ham.  Aunt Helen would typically  just throw some slices on a plate straight out of the plastic container, but I always thought that was cheating. I mean, how hard is it to roll the ham into little edible tubes? Come on Helen.

May I hon? “Hon” is the official term of endearment on my mother’s side of the family.  It also makes any plea more palpable. Try it out.

“Get that for me!” (aggressive)

“Get that for me hon!”  (adorable)

A Spotify playlist can never take the place of a solid mixed tape.  I recently discovered  a treasure trove of mixed tapes from my adolescence.  Some carefully assembled with damn near professional transitions and others taken straight from the radio, with subtle static and the occassional commercial for Summer Jam.   My husband continues to tease me about my cryptic labeling. But, I know what is on every one of those tapes.  The Duality of Man is a tape my Dad made containing benign hip hop and ganster rap. Songs I Really Like to Listen to Right Now has a whole lot of Counting Crows, U2 and Radiohead on it. Then there is my neon pink and yellow tape with the label torn off, which we all know contains radio cuts of SWV,  Mint Condition and some tracks off De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising record. The point is, my labeling system is consistent.

AlwaysNeverSometimes…Life is wrought with nuance. There are very few always and nevers, and an abundance of sometimes.  Getting rid of  “You always…” and “You never…” allows for better marital problem solving and overall relational health.

I want to see other women as my sisters and not as my competitors. I am so competition averse that I actually end up thinking everything is a competition that I must avoid.  Ironically, in that scenario, everything IS a competition. My solution? I don’t have one yet. I guess that is what the next forty years is for.

Parenting is hard, but I think that’s what I like about it. When taken seriously, it begs us to come to terms with our own short comings before they take up defensive position in our young. Love is the easy part, the existential reckoning, however, is a doozy.

“Patience is a virtue, a wait won’t hurt you. In the long run, it will serve you.” (Ladies and gentleman, the musical stylings of Soul II Soul — “Our Time Has Come”) I’m not naturally patient.  This may be, in part, why I am not a skilled house keeper.  If I have to wrestle a hanger for more than 15 seconds, that garment and its demon hanger are going to end up on the ground. Although I think I have become more patient with the humans I love, I am less patient with myself and people who drive slow in front of me.

I am only responsible for my own choices. I realize this is not a new novel idea, but those of you who know me, know this is hard for me.  Really hard.  I tend to think I am responsible for everything from poverty, to traffic, to lysteria outbreaks.  I have a fun little Junior Jesus complex, as my friend Dee calls it.  Fortunately, I am not the Messiah.  In the coming decades I am going to try and focus less on single handedly solving the crisis in Syria and start by just remembering where I put my car keys.

In an argument, the first one to the cross wins. My brother-in-law, James, is the author of this life lesson and it works. When we turn towards grace, then anger starts to morph into something more like love–more like reconciliation.  This is a marital game changer. Don’t fight to win. Fight to grow.

We bring weather with us wherever we go. Uncle Kenny shared this little gem with my daughter’s 4th grade class and it stayed with me. I am capable of producing all kinds of weather systems. I aim for sunshine, but am known to bring much rain (I am a big cryer).   Occasionally, I have dropped a fat bomb cyclone on my kids, but I really try to save that for emergencies. We can’t always bring a sunny disposition but acknowledging that our mood and emotional energy affects the people we are around is important.  If we can’t being sunshine at least we can have an umbrella handy for the people who will be in contact with our stormy moods.

Pain only knows itself.  Pain is by nature self absorbed. I am much less hard on people in general having embraced this fun fact.   It also has helped me to identify when my own pain blinds me to my affect on others. Then again, how would I know, if I am blind, who my pain might be hitting?

Music changes my mood. One way or another. I can manipulate the hell out of myself with it.

Our bodies age so that we learn to let go of the physical. I was complaining to my lovely mother about the various and sundry maladies that seem to be appearing weekly, if not daily on my personage.  My mom, who is sixty two, agrees that it can be disconcerting at times, but insists that if I see it as letting go of the physical, of the trivial, of vanity, of the shell that houses my soul, I will start to see that I am growing into eternity.  Just like I had  to get really, really pregnant and uncomfortable before I was not only wiling, but desperate to push a human being out of my body– our bodies need to decline, so our souls can grow out of them. I am exchanging my body for my eternity.  Seems like a pretty impressive exchange, except that the very concept of time and eternity makes my head want to explode…so the exchange seems mildly terrifying albeit a sweet deal.

Steeping garlic and tarragon in simmering milk and then pouring it over a bed of spring onions and crisped chunks of herbed bread and then smothering it with guerre cheese is…just….just…(insert extended guttural utterance indicating bliss here). Thanks for this Momma.

Oh, to be not a sponge, or a shield, but a container.  I am naturally spongy.  I will emotionally absorb the hell out of whatever human is near me, be it family or the lady on the elevator.  It is an unfortunate gift.  My over active empathy gland can be a real jerk.  However, my dear friend Chris Holowaty, told me that it is better to be a container.  Sponges absorb what is not theirs.  Shields deflect and can hurt others in defense of their own heart, but a container collects and pours out.  This is where faith in God comes in handy.  I have a place to pour it. As a mother, having a containment policy is handy.  It cuts down (not out) on crying spells and tongue lashings.  Working on fortifying my container and preventing spillage.

Mascotting is not for sissies. See Sparkygate 2017 for details.

I am blessed to have kids but I do not have so many dang kids because I am blessed.  I have known far too many couples who deserved babies and were never able to have them, and too many others who had them and did not value the privilege. It is a lie from the pit of hell (as my mother would say) that children are a sign of blessing.  They are not merit awards. They are not bonus checks.  (Although, according to Mike they are a little like a time shares. You aren’t sure what you are signing up for when you “attend the meeting”– if you know what I mean.)   Children are not an indicator of worthiness. They are a gift to those who choose to take up the mantle of parenthood. It is the experience of helping a child grow up and out into the world that is the blessing. Too heavy handed? Probably, but I can’t help it. My hand feels like a thousand pounds right now.  All muscle.

Always give it to Marshawn on the 1 yard line.

Monitor and Adjust.   When life gives you four kids…

Present Heather should help Future Heather.  My husband is a master at this skill. He is always considering how his future self will feel about his choices.  Particularly in the area of product placement.  Need a flashlight? Past Mike is on it. Need some hot coco in appallingly cold weather conditions?  Mike knew you would.  Marshmallows or no marshmallows is his only questions. Some say, stay in the present. Mike says, that’s fine…but what about future you. That guy would like to avoid getting screwed. I fail future Heather on the regular, and beat the shit out of past Heather for sport.  I am working on being nicer to past Heather and more thoughtful of what future Heather might need.

Hot chocolate is better with chili in it and yet very few coffee establishments want to serve it to me this way. Where is the justice in that?

Blessed Self Forgetfulness. Tim Keller made a strong point that conceit and insecurity are two sides of the same coin.  Both come as a result of comparing ourselves to others.  Either we think we are downright more awesome  and get prideful or find ourselves ‘lacking and get depressed.  I am a undercover comparer shrouded in an “I don’t care how I look” bodysuit.  I have lackluster leg structure.  I joke about it a lot and stay as casual and unassuming fashion-wise  as possible to draw attention away from them. In other words, I am noticing your legs–and I am wishing they were mine.  But, the problem isn’t my legs, or yours.  The problem is that I am thinking about MY legs so much, instead of nurturing them and being grateful they exist at all. Trying to think less about myself all together makes me feel kinder, more authentic and more loving. (But, if I could safely get a ankle transplant I might….MIGHT)

Growing things change and changing things grow. Mom strikes again. We can’t grow without being willing to change, and we cannot change unless we are willing let go of what we were.

One way to get your kids to start eating something other than dino shaped chicken nuggets and cereal is to teach them to cook dinner.  I do not understand the science behind this, but for some reason, if I make my young sautéed mushrooms in a rosemary wine reduction, they act like I am asking them to eat garbage, but they will eat overcooked herbed carrot fries by the handful if it is their handiwork.

Marriage requires nudity.  I don’t like being completely naked (See Mount Olympus). It’s just not my thing. I practice a sort of primitive snap chat.   I like to be in control of lighting and coverage at all times, so as to emphasize the elements of my birthday suit I fancy most.  Being nude for me, is like taking live selfies without editing options. However, marriage  asks that we take off everything and show ourselves both figuratively and literally without filters.  If we keep parts hidden (physically or emotionally) because we find them unattractive, we can be together but we can’t be as close as we were intended to be.

If you can’t make it good, make it memorable.  Pretty much every blog I have ever written has been about this. If I could tattoo it to my forehead without looking weird I would.

Feelings don’t get hurt, but egos do. Tim Keller told me, via the internet, that when my  “feelings are hurt” it is actually my pride that has been wounded. I am hurt that I am not who I thought I was, or who I wanted you to think I was.  I am wildly sensitive and easily hurt, so apparently I have an ego the size of Texas. Maybe that is why I invented my alter ego Tonya.

Space Dust IPA is truth serum. Healthy in small doses.

Hearts either break apart or break open.  I have heard this put in several ways, and have no spin, just recognition. Hearts that break apart tend to hurt others. Hearts that break open, grow and strengthen.

Prayer is a strange and wonderful thing. Sometimes I pray and I am pretty sure I am talking to myself.  Sometimes I pray and I am actually talking to who I am praying with. Sometimes I pray and I am merely complaining. Sometimes I am  begging. Sometimes I just scream at God as loud as I can. Sometimes all I can do is breathe, and that ends up being my prayer. Sometimes I pray and I fall apart. Sometimes I pray and I get put back together. Sometimes I pray and don’t feel anything. Sometimes I pray only because I think I am supposed to.  Sometimes I pray and nothing happens.  Sometimes I pray and it all makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes I am okay with the mystery.  Sometimes I am not.  Sometimes it becomes very clear to me, that God is real and so I will keep on praying.

Peace comes from a quiet mind, entertaining no hypothetical bind.  This is a line from a song my sister wrote. It has become a mantra for me since I not only have a very noisy mind but I am incredible at coming up with dangerous and sinister hypotheticals. It is a dark gift.  I have taught this lyrical mantra to my children in an effort to counter their worries and assuage my own.

Struggle changes us one way or another. It either makes us bitter, or it makes us wise. Either way we change. Another Keller wonder-thought to think upon.

When preparing a meal whose origins are of another land, it is imperative to listen to the music of that land whilst cooking.  For example, I love to prepare enchiladas to the musings of  the Gypsy Kings.  Making Cordon Bleu? I suggest the Amelie soundtrack. If I could govern my own country, I would make this a law, punishable in no way, but a law just the same.

Govern yourselves or you will be governed.   My mom’s dear friend taught her this one.  It is wildly effective on unruly youth since they are generally not fans of governance.

Even Mother Teresa struggled with doubt and depression. That thought used to terrify me.  If Mother Teresa doubted God and his kindness, being the saint that she was, then aren’t we all screwed? But, after a great deal of consideration, I have come to this. What kind of human would she have been if she did not struggle with those things– having witnessed that degree of suffering.   Only the coldest of hearts would not break. It brings me peace to know it is okay to wonder. To not understand.  To love God and love people anyway.

Mumus solve everything. They level the playing field.  It is like fashion communism. An equal distribution of fabric.

I would like to be a pastor for a day and give a sermon with bullet points derived entirely from the movie Elf. 

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  I am okay with the neighbor part I think. Although, poor Dave and Marilyn, next door, pretty much only see me if I need sugar.  But, I am not too adept at the self love. I think I have been a little put off by the idea that people need to love themselves more.  We modern folks love the hell out of ourselves to a fault.  But, my friend Jenah put a spin on this that was helpful. She told me that when she wakes up in the morning, she looks in the mirror and says I love you, how can I help you today?How can I take care of you so we can go out there and fight the good fight. This makes self love about being our best so we can be available to others, not so we can supplant their needs.  So, I shall implement this policy…but perhaps I will make it an end of the day love chat. I am not a morning person, and I don’t really like anyone until about 8:30am.

The truth really will set you free. An honest marriage is infinitely more beautiful and sustainable than one with secrets.   Mike and I call it the full knowing.  Those seasons of reveal can be painful, but without them we can not deepen our root system or protect our nest.

Very few arguments are worth winning. My dad is endlessly fun and light hearted, but he is also a deep well. Every once in a while he will casually say something ridiculously poignant. That is probably what makes him such a great song writer. He can simplify the profound. He made this point in regards to marriage, but I think it applies to encounters of every kind.  Social media debates are a great illustration. People will fight to the cyber death with a stranger in Iowa, to “win”.  They will tear their mystery opponent apart if need be–attacking their position, their grammar, their profile picture, their character, all in the name of winning.  There are causes worth fighting for, but not every cause is a calling and very few injustices can be rectified through “arguing”.  I have been in my fair share of debates.  And a few were even worth my while, but most devolved into something other than progress.  As I get older, I want to lift people up,  not just call them out.

Build up the library of your heart.  Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.~ Psalm 90:12  The term wise up is fascinating. We think of it like, get your head in the game, or you better recognize–but, in the biblical sense, I think it might  mean, build up the library of your heart.   Store up truth and goodness, so that when things fall apart, you can put yourself back together again. And boy, do I fall apart sometimes. Usually, because my hormones have staged a mutiny on my soul, or because I didn’t take the high road, or I am in the midst of sub par parenting episode.  I am not immune to a good old fashion melt down, but the more expansive my library–the less often I lose structural integrity and the more I can be strong for others.   If you love Wisdom and don’t reject her, she will watch over you” –Proverbs 4:6.

Forty is the new 39.  

CHALLENGE:  Mike Pasley, you are it! What are your forty things?