Tuesday, June 16, 2009

curls curls curls....:)

I love curls!

Curls makes me feel different. They make me feel like tossing out my makeup bag, my razors, my bras, my designer jeans, and donning a flowing skirt and chasing the eternal primal beat. Less drastically perhaps, they make me feel like it is officially summer. They feel good.

The last few days all the sweet comments about my curls reminded me of 2nd grade when my Mom had the great idea that a perm was the perfect 'do for her seven-year-old to sport on the playground. Little did she (or I) know that I would grow into a curly-Q ~ au natural, ~ one day.

I have my dear friend Kacie to thank for the recent haircut that made my curls perk up like I have never seen before. If you're down in the LA area, visit The Doves and ask for Mrs. Hengler. She is so talented and simply a delight!

And, go natural this summer. It feels so good! :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It's not uncommon that I read an autobiography or a narrative and find myself lost in someone's writing; their stream of conscious, infectious, rambling thoughts. And when I say lost, I don't mean lost in time or place, like I miss a coffee date or burn the cookies, but rather more of a loss of self. I find that I can identify with certain people to the point that I lose the sense of whose thoughts they originally were- written or otherwise. I have a few friends like this and I call them kindred spirits. And, I have a few authors like this. I'm not sure what I call them.

(*Sidenote* the loss of self that I truly desire is to the magnification of Christ, but this kind of human connection is all part of the tapestry, I think. Empathy. Common narrative. Relationship. Think about it!;)

Over the last couple months, Shauna Niequist has been added to the list. I have spent many long afternoons savoring the sweetness that is Cold Tangerines. It is her first book, I believe, and is a beautiful inauguration into the published world, in my opinion.

Yes, there are a number of reasons that I should relate to Shauna. We both spent a number of years of growth and becomingness at an idyllic little spot in the foothills of Montecito being instructed and poured into by some of the finest lovers of God and knowledge that you can find on a college campus. We both could be found at one point scampering from the beach to class and back on any given Tuesday or dancing the night away in a dorm of delirious girls. We had a similar gestation of formative years. Added to that, we share some of the same struggles and yearnings and upper-middle-class preoccupations, but it goes a lot deeper than even that, really. She pulls out and teases up and explicates and allegorizes what the French call Joie de vivre and the Greeks call Kefi and relates that joy and passion to our Creator, who calls us, His creation, good. She finds the smallest reasons in life for celebration, for consideration, for feeling...and the largest- Him. His faithfulness. His gift to us. This life- His death- and a duty and privilege to glorify Him in how we celebrate both. In a seamless, intricate web kind of way.

This description can simply not do her justice. You must read Shauna yourself. Page 178 may very well be the climax of her book, but I promise, reading the climax before the beginning will not ruin anything. So, enjoy...

Now we're talking about celebration. Celebration when you're calling the shots. Easy. Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that's when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage it call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that's celebration.

When you can invest yourself deeply and unremittingly in the life that surrounds you instead of declaring yourself out of the game once and for all, because what's happened to you is too bad, too deep, too ugly for anyone to expect you to move on from, that's that good, rich place. That's the place where the things that looked for all intents and purposes like curses start to stand up and shimmer and dance, and you realize with a gasp that they may have been blessings all along. Or maybe not. Maybe they were curses, in fact, but the force of your belief and your hope and your desperate love for life as it is actually unfolding, has brought a blessing from a curse, like water from a stone, like life from a tomb, like the actual story of God over and over.

...and CELEBRATE! :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dum, dum, dum

A couple months ago, DJ and I had a crazy idea to buy some drums one night and start a drum circle. The drums have been whipped out at a few different hang out seshs since, to the surprise and delight of many and it seems like more and more people are catching the tribal fever! ;)

A few weeks had gone by since I connected with my primal nature and I just had the itch. I heard there may be a drum circle at the Invisible Children event this weekend so I asked my friend and co-worker Amber to come along with me in search of the beat...

Although there was no drumming to be found at The Rescue (which was a really sweet event, so check it out!), we did not despair. I whipped out my trusty iPhone (the same one that got us the drums in the first place!) and found a Drum circle listed on SB Independent Events, every Saturday from 5-8 right on the beach! Eureka!

When we got there Amber just kept saying things like "I can't believe you're serious" and "Are we really going to do this?" right up until the point that we plopped down amongst the bearded men and bohemian dancers. Amber caught on really quickly and more than anything just humored my childish excitement through the whole thing- thanks for rolling with it Ambular! ;)

I loved the crew of people that this thing drew...some classic tree-hugging and tie-dye wearing, and others, salty-seadog retirees. Amber and I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb in our cute sundresses and big grins (at least on me), but the guys were so friendly and everyone shares their drums and chats between sets. This one guy even busted out a Tai Chi/chant/animalistic dance, which was kinda weird, but yeah....

A lot of people just hang out around the periphery and listen and bask in the sun and the ocean air. It was such a gorgeous day! I'm stoked to have found yet another thing I LOVE about this place! I'll definitely be going back so let me know if you want to join me! So fun!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's time...

After an awesome run with two wonderful tri-divas and friends early this morning, I finally decided to commit myself to re-entering the sport. Watching Amy and Janey run the UCSB Olympic a few weeks ago really stirred me up and I have been hitting the beach, the trails, and the bike trying to gear myself up to train again.

So, in that spirit, I decided to put some more money where my mouth is and buy a sweet tri suit. When we trained a couple years ago, Amy was terrified of wetsuits so I just decided to forego the luxury with her. Well, we have both grown and matured, which pretty much means we're not that dumb anymore. ;)

You can fully expect to see my expression harden with this kind of intensity when I'm about to hit the water with 100+ other crazy people in May. Either that, or I'll be squealing like a little girl, as was the custom a couple seasons ago. Some things maturity just can't squeeze out of you. :)

No race dates are decided yet (apart from a half marathon birthday weekend in July!), but I'm stoked to start pushing hard again!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'll be the Elephant. You be the Zookeeper.

I can't really describe the feeling of elation that I get when my clients learn to play. For many children with Autism, abstract thinking (that is vital to play) is extremely difficult; for others, everything they see if symbolic (ask me to explain to you The Brown C), so part of my job is helping them learn to play, both functionally, socially, and imaginatively.

While some adults may find it rather humiliating to run around on their hands and knees barking like a dog and picking up a ball with their teeth, or using their arm as a trunk and giving elephant kisses; I simply love it. I love the excitement in a child's eyes (and sometimes in their flapping hands) when they learn to roll over and pant with their tongue hanging out.

And today, after yet another session of Zookeeper & Elephant with my favorite little boy (yes, I have favorites), I came home and saw this post on TED that gave me such a rush of energy---it would have been an AHA moment, had I not already known it to be SO true!

Check it out!
A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

So get out there and PLAY!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Give it up.

I didn't grow up really celebrating the Lenten season, but when I went to Westmont I learned about the anticipation of Jesus' death and resurrection and how poignant that can be in my spiritual life. Christmas always had a well-known season, should Easter not as well?

I guess people don't get as excited about fasting, sacrificing, or surrendering earthly pleasures with the purpose of drawing nearer to their Savior, as they do holiday parties, egg nog and such. Understandable. I was (am?) right there with you.

So a few years ago, I went to chapel one day and someone put some gray stuff on my forehead and I was ushered in to the Christian tradition of Lent. Over breakfast burritos in the DC I discussed what superfluous (borderline sinful) indulgence I should give up. Dessert? Way too hard. Carbs? (Note how my Lenten sacrifice begins to resemble a diet). No, I need bread. TV? I don't watch it anyway. Gossiping? Oh, that's a good one.

I settled on Diet Coke. Let me tell you, it was rough.

Since that first season I haven't really participated wholeheartedly (that is, faithfully), and ironically, while living in one of the most Catholic countries in the world, Lent totally escaped me last year. So this year, I have been thinking about what I could abstain from that will give me more time to focus on the Lord and spend time meditating on Him and reading His word.

Don't make fun of me. Facebook.

To be honest, I didn't really think I was one who fbooked excessively. Maybe in college, but not now. However, since I added the fbook app to my iPhone, it has become a compulsion. Every time I drive between clients, have an awkward 5-10 minute break, or just can't wait to see which of my friends has the wittiest status, I just press the little icon. I haven't checked it all day, and let me tell you, I already feel disconnected. I also don't have fbook notifications sent to an email address that I ever check so I am totally out of the loop.

I'm really looking forward to the next 40 days though. I anticipate this "sacrifice" in particular doing a lot to foster that "otherworldly" mindset.

So, if you need to contact me, well....yeah, so there are still a number of virtual ways you can do it (email, blog, text), but maybe some of you will pick up the phone! Exciting. ;)

p.s. Props to Michele who inspired this decision. We'll be accountability partners;)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Surrender Your Myth

After over 12 hours of yoga in the last couple weeks (I'm on a kick;)...I realized that the yogi's have it all wrong. Fundamentally, the entire practice is flawed. Yet, somehow, they get so much right. So, my challenge this week was to try to silence all that the wonderful, kind, soft-spoken yogi had to say while still focusing on balance, patience, endurance, and breath...or to embrace what he had to say, with my own (rather crucial) variations.

About the third or fourth class of praying that the Lord would spare me from any evil philosophy that the well-meaning master was trying to impart and trying to direct my focus and meditation to God, I realized that the yogi was, in fact, speaking truth. He just had his terminology confused. ;)

Allow me to demonstrate...

Yogi: Surrender yourself to your breath. (V: Surrender yourself to the Lord)
Your mind spends so much time trying to convince you that all of these other things are important, when really they are nothing. As you move into the shape (through life) and focus on your breath (focus on the Lord) you will find that the only truth that exists is between your breath and the love it creates in your body (between you and the love relationship you have with the Lord). It is so freeing (Amen!).

Your breath and the shape are the only things that exist. You do not exist in space or time (in it, not of it). You think you do. You move through life wanting something and then getting angry at yourself for wanting it the next moment (yep). That is all in your mind. Your mind will always wrestle with things that do not matter (mm-hm). None of those things matter. If they ceased to exist, would you? No. If your breath ceases, do you? Your breath is all there is. (God is all there is.)

So, I found with a few conscious changes, the practice of yoga to be rather uplifting. There are so many things I love about what yoga teaches. Tonight my teacher challenged us to surrender the myth that we all go around so desperately trying to write about ourselves and live into. Our reputation, our self-worth, our need for approval- and so much of it based on so little. He poked fun at the public monologues we hold to define ourselves; we update our status on Facebook and as soon as we have the moment no longer exists. It is fleeting and false. He asked challenging questions about the assumed seriousness of it all. He said, "If any of you are going to party tonight, ask yourself, would you rather walk away knowing that people thought very highly of you and lauded you with compliments, or to have had a wonderful time?"

He summed it up, "What would happen if you just stopped trying? Just stop worrying what it looks like. Find your breath." (Find GOD).

I just love his flavor of yoga. The description of Yoga Soup is "a class offering nothing, if we're lucky." It is a practice that can feel intimidating for its serious, ethereal, meditative qualities (not to mention pretzel poses and handstands) yet Eddie will weave in a little Sound of Music, a little Coldplay, a little no-name folk guy with guitar, and "I just want to dance with somebody" and pull us out of Half Moon to jump around like small children, much in the vein of Nia. Tonight, he actually played the famous song of the Academy Awards and had us ride horseback.

It is delightfully self-deprecating....although I suppose only self-deprecating if you give any weight to the self. That's the challenge. Worth considering, I think. :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

If I had a million dollars...

(Said through clenched throat, with tears of joy brimming in my eyes)
I would give everyone I possibly could a gift certificate to Nia so that they too could experience the pure euphoria of dancing like a 3-year-old-through-the- sprinklers in a room full of strangers. And solve world hunger, of course. ;)

This is literally what was going through my head as I left Yoga Soup this afternoon. I could write a lot about how dance has been unjustly appropriated by the hip-hop or club culture and thus become a cause of self-consciousness or stress rather than freedom and unfettered joy...but this post is not about a soap box....

It's about play, laughter, movement, dizziness, feeling like a tribal warrior and a tiny spright, lacking all thoughts of self and feeling the music flow out of you. It's about dancing like no one is watching. It's about shared space that is free of expectations. It's super new-age and I don't even care. It's freedom.

I got this sweet battle-scar after last week's class and didn't notice it at all as I jumped and pranced around for over an hour:)

In all seriousness, if I had a million big ones I would give it to Opportunity International. But, that's a more serious post, for a more serious time.

Go dance.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It still feels like a new year...

I'd like to keep the "new year" mentality all year long. I love the constant feeling of being refreshed. A good long talk with an old friend can do that. A good long hike with wonderful women can do that. God's Word can do that...perhaps most poignantly of all.

Today, Britt spoke about the life of Noah and how it sheds light on our own lives of faith. It contained three simple, yet powerful tenants. And, he asserted--the order is everything.

Worship. We are created to worship our Father God and in all things give thanks to Him. Our sole purpose on this earth is to glorify His name. We must first, before all else, worship our Savior.

Walk. Part of the reason we worship God is because He has called us into relationship with Him. That in itself is an awe-inspiring concept (that might just take you back to worship:). We must daily commit ourselves to walking in faith. Whom we walk with is simple; we walk with the Lord. Our destination, is also simple; we are walking to be with Him for eternity, pressing on for the prize. The pace must be decided, but with an eternity mindset, because God is not in a hurry as we are. The path that we take is perhaps more clouded, but we are assured that He will prepare the way for us and walk with us, and the road map is spelled out in His word.

Work. We are then to approach His work, and position ourselves to be His hands, His mouthpieces, His imitators, on earth, while recognizing that He does not need us and that this too, is a privilege we have in being His children.

I love the simplicity of these three active perspectives. I want to orient my life to them. So, through many conversations and many examples set before me, I've decided to wake up an extra hour early every day to begin my day in worship, which can take many forms, and then in walking with the Lord in one concrete way (among many) and that is in reading His word. I want these two things to begin the day, instead of work. I am excited to see the fruits of this faithful discipline as many have. And simply, I am excited to come into a deeper relationship with Him every day.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year

At the risk of being redundant (after all, my last post was a recap of 1/2 of 08)- here it is anyway...


Jan 1 on a plane to Europe. 2 bags. 6 months. Little to No plan.
Florence with Abby and Greg. Alex and Eduard, Italian aggression meets Italian hospitality. Delightful pair;)
Mara picking me up at the airport in Sevilla expecting a week-long visitor (may have under-communicated a tad).
Spanish immersion....complete with a Spanish cumpanero de piso.
10 day discoteca run.
Moving out of the Spaniard's apartment.
Living life at high frequency with Miss Mara DeRitter.
Visiting adopted family, the Martins, in Portugal.
Carnival Part 1: Rota. U.S. Military Men.
Carnival Part 2: Cadiz. Mob mentality.
Teaching English to my sweet old men at La Guardia Civil.
Illegal employment by the government=quintessential irony of Spain.
Morocco. Riding camels into the Sahara. Camping with Berbers. Fez.
Semana Santa.
Learning to dance like a Sevillana.
KAITLIN and V. Eurotrip 08. Barcelona. Geneva. Marseille.
El Camino de Santiago.
Being adopted into a make-shift Span-Italian familia.
Cantabria with Paige and Deyl.
Jill and Kevin get hitched.
Peripatetic summer, new home base: Santa Clarita.
Homecoming Part 2: Back to SB.
The wonderful, rowdy Mollkoys.
Growing in my desire for more of God.
Children with Autism. Learning to work for a company.
Reality Carpinteria. Homegroup. Exploring ministry/missions.
Kacie and Greg get hitched.
Searching for my place here.
Growing up just a little bit more.
Settling into to a lower frequency.
Spontaneous trip to Denver for Katie B.
Brittany makes a comeback- Oaks 5 year reunion.

Resisting the urge to wander. Practiced Contentment.
Digging my heels in for a while.
Solitude. Communities.
Prayerful, Joyful Expectancy.

My goals for 2009 are still being worked out in my mind, but I know that they will include taking more calculated risks. Calculated is the more difficult of the two. I'm naturally prone to the obvious risks, so it's more of a risk for me to stay here and fight atrophy than to move to South America (for example). But, it is one I am willing to dig into and flesh out because I know there is real growth in that. And, while I know that having clearly delineated goals is one of the main keys to success (or how else do you measure it), I'm not sure I can make any hard and fast goals for myself this year that I don't already have as part of my modus operandi. I'm in the figuring it out, stretching myself period (and probably always will be)...so I prefer to have themes or schemata for my goals and bend and move from there...

There will definitely be a physical component. I've grown fond of training my body and in so doing, challenging my will, my mind, and my spirit. I'm open to suggestions...and training partners;)

There will be an educational component. Grad classes in Applied Behavior Analysis start next week and then...? All I know is I miss school and it's time.

There will be a financial/biz element. Learning about Commercial real estate and possibilities amongst the downward trend in the Residential market (under the tutelage of my sage uncle and precocious older brother). Astutely, carefully avoiding as many taxes as possible. Making personal and familial decisions around current and future investments. Still surreal. This is one of those things that makes me feel like I'm approaching the mid-twenties, because otherwise I could be 19 and I wouldn't know the difference.;)

There will be a ministry element. Further, and more specific investment in a church family, in community.

There will be a creative element. This has always been dance for me in the past, but I think it is time to broaden my horizons or recover that lost art. I might start writing. See what comes of it.

Really, I just like thinking about these things. I think on them often, but welcome the impetus that a new year can be for a fresh start. So here's to a surprising, challenging, joyous New Year!