the eve of the eve.

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“to a better year.”

this was me a year ago, at a New Year’s Eve party my friend and i hosted.  in front of the lens of the photobooth, we danced, and wrote posters and celebrated the end.  and the beginning.

my biggest desire: a better year.

so here i sit on the eve of the eve of the end of this year i hoped would be “better,” and have to admit that it was in so many ways.  hard but good.  stinking of death but robust with life.  i entered this year a broken (and broke!) wreck, and am walking out of it at peace with my ever-healing mess.

this year saw a few different guys who laid claim to my heart, a devastating separation from a good friend, a bike accident, the long-anticipated Superbowl come and gone, goodbye to an old dream and hello to a new job, a sickness that made me afraid i might ultimately lose my father, yoga and 12-step groups, dating and falling in love, reconciliation and renewed friendship.

whew.  that’s a mouthful.

still, with all this (and so much more), i sit in a state of slight disbelief that this year is nearly over. as remarkable as this year has been, it’s end is approaching with very little fanfare.  i will rise tomorrow, and go to work, and check emails and eat lunch.  and apart from spending the evening party hopping from one hopping party to another, it will look just like any other day.

i think this is why it’s been hard for me to reflect on the year.  i’ve been trying, though without much effort, to think of what my new year should focus on, what is the burning desire i want to see fulfilled?  what is my “to a better year” for 2013?

i still do not have a clear answer, but the word “contentment” floats lazily and peacefully to the surface.  i cannot yet tell if this is my desire or where i find myself or if its something i should try to center on.  but still, it sits on the edge of my mind and lingers, like the smell of lotion after a bath.

here are some other words that i’d like to focus on during this coming year:

cook.
whole and wholesome meals.  for fun and for serious.  even when i don’t want to.  especially when i don’t want to.

practice.
patience.  hospitality.  yoga.  learning to let go.  grace for myself.  sitting still. observance of the gifts of the seasons (rest and reflection in the winter, preparation and planting in the spring, growth and giant living in the summer, harvest and ending in the fall).

find.
that place where my strengths and passions intersect.  endurance.  healing.

tend.
myself.  my home.  a garden.  the yard.  a peaceful space. those pesky finances.

celebrate.
victories, big and small.  my 30th birthday!

love.
myself.  my sweet B.  those around me.  wildly.  fully.  in risky ways.  all those quiet and subtle places only i am privy to.  even when it’s hard.

so, here’s to 2013, and all the unknown wonders and experiences it has to offer!

Christmas past.

whenever i get gloomy about the state of the world,
I pull out this:

big table 10

i think of this day.
this day, just over 2 years ago.
this day, when i slid on a patch of ice on the interstate and travelled across three lanes into the guard rail.
this day, when i came home shaken and scared and was promptly offered a shot of whiskey and warm spot at the table.
this day when, after Christmas shopping with Kel, we had the brilliant idea to buy everyone “Christmas pajamas” and have our “family photos” taken.

this day, and so many like it, when i felt i had a home with these dear friends.

a new normal.

last night, i capped off a three-day detox with a beer.

i’m a walking contradiction.

when my roommate suggested we get pizza tonight for dinner, my bowels winced.  after 3 days of eating only nutrient-dense soups and steamed veggies, one beer had sent them over the edge with yeast.  i felt bloated and gross.

“that’s why it’s bad to do these detoxes,” Kel exclaimed, half-joking.  “you always feel like crap when you go back to eating normally.”

“i’m just not so sure that all those things should be a “normal” thing…i think i want to move toward a new normal.”

that is where i am with 2012, i think.  moving toward a “new normal.”  new normals don’t just happen overnight, obviously.  the normals i’m settling into have been happening in slow, gradual ways over the last year or so.  i discovered the lifestyle of Ayurveda in February last year, which has given great direction to dietary awarenesses and habit changes.  i got a road bike for my birthday in June, which has fueled (pun intended) my deserve to ride more, drive less.  and i began asking questions of people who are good at these things, so as to learn more about the practicality of that.  (i also asked only for riding gear for Christmas…my family was very good to me.)

so, here’s to 2012 being…

a year of better eating
not to be confused with losing weight.  the two rarely go together, and i am not really in a place where great weight loss needs to take place.  the fluff that could disappear should happen naturally as i decrease certain items in my diet (namely processed sugar and white breads) and replace them with nutrient-dense items like broccoli and carrots.

as i mentioned before, i first heard about Ayurveda almost a year ago from a friend and yoga instructor.  i was fascinated and dove into a book on the subject.  Ayurveda is based out of Indian (not Native American) tradition is a lifestyle of healthy eating and functioning.  they believe that every person falls into three categories (also called doshas…i have to be careful here, b/c Ayurveda has a language and understanding of the human body all its own and the words don’t always translate well into our culture).  each person has a constitution that falls into one or more of these categories.

after much reading, i learned that i am an even split between two: vata and kapha.  ironically, vata is symbolized by air and kapha by earth…complete opposites!!  explains me a lot.  anyway, there are foods and spices that work better (and worse) on each constitution.  some help cool tempers and agitations, others aid in digestion.  the more i learn, the more i am blown away by the sheer power of our food to not only nourish us, but keep us healthy.  crazy i know.

kaphas tend toward sluggishness and vatas tend to blow in the breeze, both of which i find happening in my life.  so, i’m learning about the spices and vegetables that aid in digestion and yet keep me grounded.  this awareness is finally settling into my brain and has begun to effect my shopping and meal choices.  i’ve successfully switched to soy (dairy not so good for kaphas), lean toward more vegetarian meals, and am becoming increasingly aware of the goings-on of my body.

all of that, and i still will eat chips today and enjoy a beer after work.  we must still have grace for ourselves, even when working toward being/doing better.

the year of the bike

Half-way through the Polar Bear Pedal, Jan. 2, 2012

 

i have to credit my roommate, Kel, for a great deal of my current ability to commuter ride.  my desire has been there for years, with a small attempt many summers ago, but it has been her living example that has spurred me to push on.

now, to fully understand this picture, it’s important to understand that i grew in the country, nearly 8 miles from “town,” as we called it, the place where groceries and the library and people were.  it was unheard of to consider bike commuting and because i was a busy teen, i got a car 3 mos prior to my 16th birthday.  i’ve had one ever since, with little to no idea of commuting otherwise.

when i first decided i wanted to bike everywhere within riding distance i was living in Anderson and would still punk out at the hint of rain.

Kel rode all winter last year, and i quietly watched the gear she chose to wear, the things she would invest in (waterproof backpack, warm gloves), whether or not she would still ride the 3 miles to work on a blustery day.

this was very encouraging to me, so when i got my bike in June, i made an unstated vow to bike as much as i was able in the city, no matter the weather.  i made a list of acceptable gear and passed it to my padres for Christmas, and was soon outfitted for riding.

my true winter commuting ride happened this morning.  on the agenda: bank, groceries, home, work.  all went well.  i am here (at work), alive and dry.  the more i ride, the more it becomes a part of me.  it becomes a natural choice.  weather is no longer a factor.  and i truly value the invigorating movement and fresh air.  bonus, i’m not burning gas and putting toxins in the air.  win win for everyone.

i’ll likely still drive to a friends’ house, though, if it’s dark, and i’ve already biked 12 miles in 20 degrees, and it’s late and i’m tired.  because this is about a gradual shift in my thinking, not about dogma.

a new normal is coming.  perhaps much of it is already here.

goodbye. finally.

as i was sliding the cables along the hanging system, strategically placing photography pieces on the gallery wall, i had a thought back to the this time last year.  would i/could i have imagined i would be doing this in a year, i asked myself.  the clear answer: hell no.

that’s when i realized i should probably endeavor to do my year end blog posts, and finally usher in 2012.

that being said, here are the highlights from 2011.  you know…things i learned, big things that happened, etc.  so, here goes:

the year of the party
March
when the earthquake hit Japan, my house felt moved to have a fundraiser party.  we made sushi and invited our friends, taking cash donations to send for relief help.  Kari invited a couple of her Japanese students, who shared saki and knife-sharpening with us.  it was beautiful, and we raised over $600 that went to the Red Cross.

Memorial Day
Kel and i’s birthdays are just 8 days apart, so we decided to throw a massive join party on Memorial Day.  the day was blazing hot, so our biggest worry: how to keep the keg cold (look, we didn’t have a traditional college experience, k?  this was, in fact, the first keg we ever bought).  we had people everywhere–front porch, living room, kitchen, back yard, playing corn hole in the front yard.  i had more than my fair share of beer, and enjoyed time with my friends (who stayed well into the evening).  we had joked about the party being good, but when i woke up the next morning, G had written “EPIC” across the chalk board.

(No pics of this one…sorry!)

Mad Men/House-warming/Halloween
in Sept, one of the members of our old house had a brilliant idea.  given that we were all currently obsessed with watching Mad Men, and Halloween was coming up, we should all dress as characters.  when Kel and i moved into our own place at the end of September, we thought it would be perfect to combine that idea with a housewarming party, and thus, the (beyond) epic Mad Men party was born.  we made mixers, carried around smokes, dressed in our best versions of the characters in 50’s/60’s style garb.  to cap it all off, Kel set up a photobooth.  it was brilliant.

Our house, with Teddy as "Don."

Kel and I, the acclaimed hostesses.

Me and the boys.

New Year’s Eve
and then, of course, the party night of year.  NYE.  my friend Emily, who subsequently has the same last night (seriously, we met b/c we’re both McNabbs, and realized we actually really like each other…and we kinda look like real sisters.  it’s strange, i know), decided to throw a party.  we had snacks, yummy drinks,  played Balderdash, set-up a special photobooth (many thanks again to Kelley Jordan photography), and toasted in the New Year.  this was quickly followed by a noise-maker parade down the street and a dance party.  a sweet way to end the year.

not to mention a mix of birthday get-togethers (there were 6 of us) and other various dinner parties along the way.  when all was said and done we realized we had a huge party about every 3 months, or once a quarter.  crazy.

ok, Kel’s put on a movie and i’ve lost all motivation to continue this post so….

TO BE CONTINUED.

occupy Fountain Square.

i am daily encouraged and excited to see new signs of life in my little pocket of the city.  like sprouts of green popping up through winter snow, little rays of hope keep appearing.  the business next door to the gallery cleaned up their green space and tore down and old fence.  the studio next door got crisp new windows.  the coffee shop had a concert last night that filled the streets with cars.  another business was recently painted and now there’s a bench outside the gallery for those waiting at the bus stop.

these may seem insignificant, but they are signs of life returning to the area.  they are signs that brokenness can heal.

so, while the world protests the corruption of large corporations, i am “occupying Fountain Square” by welcoming visitors into my humble gallery, opening up my windows and letting a ray of light shine into the darkness.  it seems small, i’ll admit, but when we all begin to shine, it makes life much brighter.

how can one “occupy” Fountain Square, or any other place of the world, better?  here are just a few of my suggestions:

live life with people.  know your neighbors.  celebrate their victories, mourn their losses.  love them.
support local endeavors.  eat locally, buy locally.
give.  of your time, your money, your “things.”  share.  live generously.
walk the streets.  or ride them.  get out of your bubble (ie. car) and see things freshly, with real eyes.
pray.  for opportunity and refreshing hope.

pirates being bad.

a new friend, who’s actual a long-time acquaintance turned friend, moved to Fountain Square with her daughter, E., recently.  one thing i really appreciate about A.’s parenting is the freedom for E. to be her creative little self.  it’s amazing what comes out of children when we encourage and allow them to push into that.  so, when i heard that E. was designing tattoos, i decided i need more art on my body.  when asked what she was drawing, she confidently replied, “Pirates being bad.”

28, and counting.

one of the housemates and i have birthdays within 10 days of each other, so we decided to have a mass co-birthday party on Monday.  we ended up extending the invite to friends of our housemates as well.  all were welcome.

i spent the majority of the day on the porch, lounging with new friends and old, drinking beers and playing corn hole.  a perfect day.

one thing that really struck me as i looked around was the variety of people from different seasons in my life.  some members of my family came early, as well as friends from college, and then more recently made friends.  many of these people i didn’t know this time last year, but they have come to have special places in my heart.  what a difference a year makes.

as is tradition on my birthday, i like to do a brief reflection of the last year as i work to embrace “28.”  so, here goes:

june 2010
i celebrated this birthday with a surprise visit from my mom and sister and a pedicure, then slow danced with a boy i thought might become my future.  my Uncle Wade died mid-month, which facilitated a very quick road trip to Memphis.

july 2010
i wrestled to accept training school and prepared to move.  i moved to FSQ and the aforementioned boy and i broke up.  i ended the month completely crushed.

august 2010
spent a great part of the month still recovering from the break-up, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was actually a really good thing for both of us.  we met for coffee, and for the first time ever, i became friends again with an ex.  end of the month saw me taking my first road trip to Canada, and thus beginning my epic journey through training school.

september 2010
i confessed my feelings for a new boy, road bikes to broad ripple, navigated family members who didn’t agree with my decision to pursue training school, and felt, over and over again, that i might jump ship.  this was a hard month, in many ways.

october 2010
went primitive camping for the first time, both with my house and with TS, which ended up being amazing.

november 2010
second trip to Toronto equaled amazingness.  ran the Drumstick Dash with my housemates and planned our first real Thanksgiving dinner for the house and guests.  rode bikes in the bitter cold to the Circle for the tree lighting and got to meet Mayor Ballard.

december 2010
went to Chi-town for a day with class, took the train and megabus and had a beautiful day.  had a car accident mid-month, spun out on the interstate across three lanes of traffic and hid the wall.  amazingly drove away with very little damage.  just before Christmas got into a fight with a good friend from TS.  celebrated Christmas morning in the quiet of my house, with Firecrackers from England.

january 2011
started the New Year off with a horrible hang-over, both physical and emotional.  went to Tijuana with a lot of weight and some relational drama in our group.  reconciled a realationship.  ate amazing food.  played soccer with awesome kids.  realized a calling to pastor, in some way, somewhere.

february 2011
i don’t remember much about this month honestly.

march 2011
i really began to anticipate Ash Wednesday and the Lent/Easter season.  decided to clear my schedule to spend more still time with God and my house family.  anticipating the end of TS really began to weigh on me emotionally and mentally, as i prayed and waited for God to provide a vision of the path i should take.

april 2011
God began to open doors for me, things that i had barely uttered to others, and i began to feel excited about the next steps.  took a trip at the end to New York and Toronto, camped under the stars, saw Niagara Falls.

may 2011
began the transition from my “job” to other projects.  ended TS.  presented at church and got affirmation for the pastoral calling.  began to share my car and picked out a road bike.

which brings us to today.  i’ve already had breakfast in bed made by my roommate, went on a nice run, got a call from my beautiful nieces telling me happy birthday (thanks L. and A.!), and had a cupcake with coffee.  i don’t know what 28 holds, but i am certainly more comfortable with an uncertain future, knowing i have a good God who loves me, family to support me and friends as close as family.