Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moving Forward Coffee Shop Style

Coffee shop.
Husband & I.
Monday nights.

For the past few weeks, we've been trying out a new ritual.
The Monday night "moving forward" ritual, you could call it.

It looks a little like this:
Laptop and books tossed in a bag, out the door, and two cups of coffee ordered at one of our many favorite Chicago coffee shops.
Or sometimes instead of coffee, I go for a hot chocolate.
We settle, and then work across the table from each other until close.
And it turns out, I'm in love with the whole thing.

The whole thing is about moving forward.
You know all those thoughts, plans, and ideas running through your mind and conversations?
I don't know about yours, but mine don't move forward on their own.
It would be nice, but they just don't.
After tossing things around in my mind for a long time, I have a stroke of genius and realize I just need to start. 
Know what I mean?

So, this fall we started "moving forward, coffee shop style."
Husband works on PhD application prep,
and I write up drafts or read clinical literature.
We just really love coffee shops and have a handful of things we need to do, want to do.

But do I love this, or what, I mean really.
This husband.
This city life.
This time in life.
These beginnings.

How do you move forward, friend?
Rock it out, because I believe every single one of you has a gift to grow and use to beautify our world.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Fall Weekend

This weekend has been one of simple pleasures.

The greatest pleasure of all perhaps being the realization that all my angst over my lack-luster feelings for fall were all for not-
Fall only arrived by calendar date a couple days ago,
and she found Chicago sitting quietly in weekend mode under misty, rainy skies.

And all of a sudden, I was ready for her.
Oh, am I ready.

Our little home welcomed fall with these pumpkin spice pancakes.

And some reading of the October issue of Real Simple.
A couple cozy movie nights.
The return of the Sunday Bake: husband's bread baking ritual.
Essie's chinchilly.
Stock-piling cans of pumpkin in the pantry.
And my fall coat, found.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Matured Character

Spotted on A Cup of Jo
Hello to you, and hello to autumn.

I still have yet to say hello to the fall icon, the pumpkin spice latte, can it be true!

It seems I'm holding it off until October, when the days can no longer choose to reminisce of summer but must instead step fully into the matured character, autumn.

I've been distracted, busy.  My days have been full-bodied, but smooth.
Colors, temperatures, and flavors have started to shift with only so much as a wear-boots-with-my-dress-to-work nod from me.

But, under September blue skies and a busy schedule, I did find a place for my writing piece.
I got some editor's notes on it that I need to work in, but it will be published on the web soon.
Thank you, Bird by Bird!

I will fall forward into the season change.
Though it would really help if I could find my fall coat, all plaid and ruffled.
So far, I haven't had any luck. 

Maybe you could invite me for a chai latte, pumpkin spice cupcake date?
I never thought I'd have to say it, but I need help with this fall thing at the moment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bird by Bird

Okay, I'm in love.
Writing, and reading, and me.
I think we can grow old together.

I finished Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
Neal had to put up with me laughing so often, and asking him if "I could just read him this one little part?" even more often.

I highlighted the heck out of the thing, but I thought I'd leave you with the very last paragraph of the book.

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation.  They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.  When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.  We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again.  It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea.  You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.

I spent the afternoon alone at 3rd Coast Cafe today, writing.
Can I just say, I think I was made for this life?
And I was not alone, if you count the company of a raspberry scone and a latte.
(Note to self: I like their chocolate chip scone far better.  I should have intuited this.  When has fruit ever been better than chocolate?)
 I'm working on a small essay that's been mulling around in my head for awhile.
I have some ideas for why I'm writing it, and probably no one will care about it but me, but really I'm doing it because I believe in this.
I believe in how writing and reading connect us, decrease our feeling of being alone.  How it helps us to look down on our life from a bird's eye view and say, "Life is hard, let me count the ways.  But it's funny too.  And beautiful, and achingly familiar to all of us."

Bird by Bird, you're a rockstar.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Anniversary Weekend

Every year I get butterflies in my stomach as our anniversary weekend approaches.
I can see it all in my mind's eye, the tulle draped along the porch, the hanging baskets burgeoning with pink flowers, the bright blue sky, the twinkle lights under the pergola for the bride & groom dance.
I like to remember it, you see. 

When bright blue turned to golden twilight, we kissed and hugged our family and friends as we made our way down the brick walk to the limo waiting for us.
The limo took us to Chicago that night, where we've spent each anniversary since.
Which suits this Chicago girl very well.

But every year, along with the butterflies, I find myself with this longing to see that porch, that pergola, that sunset again.
To feel just that much closer to that day by walking and touching the place where it happened.

As last weekend settled in, a few texts were fired back and forth, and it was decided that Labor Day was on.
My brothers were coming home, my niece and nephews were waiting, and that beautiful home was promised 70 degrees and full sun.
The lure was way, way too strong.

We were there just over 24 hours, but I spent every single second under the pergola with twinkle lights, my family, and my husband of 5 years.

P.S. Baby nephew was cute.  Way cute.
Nothing new, there.

That is all. 
Maybe my favorite anniversary weekend yet!
Oh wait, I just decided.
Yes, 5 years is my favorite.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Love

Just stopping in quick to say hello after the long Labor Day weekend!
After celebrating our anniversary, working the weekend, and dinner with friends, we made an emotionally-driven decision to pack an overnight bag and head down to my family's for Sunday and Monday. 

I'm so thankful for emotions, because sometimes they lead us to the sweetest places, when our logic would keep us rooted in the mundane (the flip side of responsibility's coin).
We even stayed over Monday night and got another peaceful night sleep with cool country air wafting in open windows.
We got on the road early this morning to get back to Chicago.

My pocket's full of responsible coins today, like a grocery haul, a run, and unpacking.
See you back here soon!

Friday, September 2, 2011

5 Years

I've always loved this picture, of 5 years ago today.
(Husband is lovingly known by our family and friends for how much he cried at our wedding, so dear to me!)