Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Sneak Holiday Peek

I know it's been a while, but I have been busying myself with holiday things.

Like keeping the reindeer and elves in check...



and receiving and giving lovely gifts..



and spending nights building gingerbread houses with friends...




Why yes... this one does have a solar paneled roof and an electric car. 


And while I cannot wait to write a killer post on all of the holiday happenings, I decided I just want to enjoy these last few days of this magical time of year, I want to be really in it. So here is the sneak peek of what's to come and the "sorry I've been MIA" apology, but there is a snugly pup, and a flower loom, and presents to be wrapped waiting across the room- so really.. I am keeping this short.

But before I go, a little holiday gift for you. If you haven't encountered Dallas Clayton's work just yet please pretend that you are unwrapping a present that has one of those holiday stickers that reads "From Sneezeweed" on it while you click here. I can't get enough, and I bet you won't be able to either.

Happy Holidays!

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's filling the stockings today))
- a gingerbread village.
- laughter in the kitchen.
- cookies in the office.
- tights.
- traditions.
- wool socks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hello New Year Mantra. Come Stay a While.

Let me keep this short and sweet.

Sometimes, I do this thing when I am nervous about a conversation I am about to have. I pace around and whisper the conversation out loud. I whisper the way I would like the conversation to go. I whisper all the things I would say to the other person if  I were brave enough to say them. All the things I would say if I could speak as eloquently to their face as I can in a whisper while pacing the floor. And then, no matter how the conversation really happens, I am calm because I have already gotten out all of the things I would like to say in the imaginary conversation.

I know, I know, I should be able to speak them out-loud right to the person who I pretend to whisper them to; but I am convinced that they are more powerful in my personal whispering conversation anyway.

Anyway, I just caught myself having one of these pacing whispering fits. Yes, usually I have no idea they are happening until one line escapes me that makes me go "hey, you're talking to yourself again!" And this time the line that came rolling off my tongue, barely making it past my lips in the sweetest whisper, the line that woke me up from my conversation trance was this: I am trying to fill my life with things that are real right now.  Real job, real friends, real home, real love. Only things that are real.  Well damn, if that isn't the truth I don't know what is.

Hello New Year Mantra, why don't you stay a while. 


"I am trying to fill my life with things that are real right now. Only things that are real."

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Daily Sneeze Tease

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
-hiding out.
-preschoolers using cameras.
-when preschoolers are super excited they "got the perfect picture!"
-when this is the perfect picture:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Awareness, Acceptance, Action: Today is World AIDS Day

"Having lived with HIV for nearly 27 years, have attitudes changed. No, so ask yourself why? Ignorance and fear, so changing attitudes and improving education at all ages and levels of our society may make that difference.  More awareness, better understanding and increased acceptance that HIV is here and not going away" 
-Michael, from www.worldaidsday.org

Today, all over the world, people are taking a stand to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. When I started to see people changing their status, wearing red, sporting ribbons, and even silencing themselves for the cause, I knew I wanted to do something too. I knew I wanted to take action, do my part to spread the word about what is going on today. I could have worn red, or silenced myself, or even sported a lovely ribbon, but I knew my efforts would go unnoticed being that I am stuck inside this Brooklyn apartment with a sick sneeze-baby on this gloomy day. And so I decided what better place to take a stand than here on Sneezeweed. 

HIV/AIDS is something that I have been hearing about ever since I was a child. I remember Mrs. Starkman, the elementary school health teacher, giving us fact sheets and dispelling myths about AIDS from the time we were little. I remember watching Magic Johnson documentaries in middle school, and I remember watching those same videos in High School. I always knew I couldn't catch it by giving a friend a hug, I always knew that people can live long healthy lives having HIV/AIDS if they received proper care, and I also always knew that not everyone received this care and many people died from HIV/AIDS every day. Today, though,  I was humbled. When I decided to write this post I thought it would be a good idea to do my homework and look up some facts and current goings on having to do with HIV/AIDS, and there are so many things that I did not know. 

-Did you know that there 33.4 million people living with HIV in the world today? I didn't. 

-Did you know in the year 2007 430,000 children under 15 were diagnosed with HIV? I didn't.

-Did you know that the rate of HIV infection is decreasing in many African and Middle Eastern nations, but is stable in America? I didn't. 

-Did you know that many people living with HIV still feel that there is a stigma against them, and they choose to hide the fact that they are infected? I did know, but I didn't want to believe it. 

I know that giving you four small facts about HIV/AIDS doesn't seem like much of a stand. I am not walking around silent, I am not volunteering to help others get tested, I am not even wearing red; but I am giving you information, and like Michael said educating our society may be what will make the difference for people living with HIV/AIDS. So I got to thinking, as bloggers, we are lucky to have discovered this unique way of communicating and spreading information. So here is the challenge: take what I have here, or create your own version of this post, and add a few more surprising bits of information to the list. Post it on your blog and challenge others to do the same. Spreading the word and dispelling the myths is the simplist, yet most powerful form of action. And while what we are all striving for is awareness and acceptance, we will never get there unless we all take a little bit of action. 





The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
-Awareness. 
-Acceptance.
-Action.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Sprinkles

Today I have been finding myself searching high and low for the little bits of happiness that get sprinkled throughout a day. It's a monday, and not just any monday, but the one right after a long weekend. It's also the monday that I quit my sneeze-watching job so I can sit in some office from now on. It is also the monday that the house cleaner is shooting death stares at me because I won't take the (sneezing/ coughing/ ear-pulling/ teething/ drool-oozing/ booger-oozing/ feverish/ crying) baby out for a walk while she is here. So you see, I'm having a difficult time spotting those sprinkles of joy today among all the muck. But it seems that while today may not be sprinkled with joy, the days to come might be, and the dreams of what's to come is what's keepin' me truckin'.

Like I said, today was the day I finally gave notice at my nanny job that I am leaving. And I really didn't think I would be so sad! It is hard for me to disappoint people, and when I told the family that I was leaving, all the mother could say was "this is my husbands worst nightmare; he's been so afraid you were going to quit." And oh that made me feel so bad! Not to mention, I am going to miss that little sneeze-faced baby so much. There is a whole lot of muck in it today, but I know once I plow through it all I will be in sprinkle heaven (hopefully). My plan is to check something off on my Anything List. The something that I can realistically focus on right now is "Brooklyn Loft" because the move will be easy and will allow me to keep working on my masters at the school I am at now. Great. Now that I have picked a something, I am searching for all the sprinkles I can to put into it. I've scoured the internet for brokers and apartments in the neighborhoods I am interested in. I have made checklists and written down phone numbers to call. And while I've discovered that my dream neighborhood is not for those with thin wallets, I think if I accept that I have to downsize my expectations (give up the dream of a two bedroom and wake up to the reality of a teeny-tiny studio) I can still afford to live there. I have even ventured onto the Ikea website and have found a lovely selection of couches, even ones that will match my 1970's mint condition armchair that I envision being the focal-point of my itsy-bitsy living space. Sprinkles among the muck. 

the 1970's-mint-condition-armchair. and no, the cute pooch did not come with the salvo find. 

Now about that office job. It's not my dream. It's not a classroom, and it has nothing to do with children. It is head of human resources, it comes with a big fat paycheck (from a sneezeweed view anyway), and it is just for now. I think part of this whole growing up thing that we're all trying to do, is realizing that sometimes you can't have it all right from the get go. Sometimes you need to take the not-so-dream-job so that you can find happiness in other places. One happy something at a time. So I chose Brooklyn, and the HR office. 

Yesterday I was looking through a bunch of old papers and journals from college and high school. I found an application for a college scholarship that I had written on why I want to be a teacher. I'll admit, it was not my most stellar writing, but it was heartfelt and it was real. I talked about the importance of giving back, and how teaching is the ultimate reward. I discussed how every student deserves an equitable education, and how I want to be the one to provide it for them. And after reading it I realized all over again, that despite the HR job with the pretty pay check, I can't wait to teach. So when I move into that office, and settle into the job that I am lucky to have been offered, the first thing I am going to do is frame that admission paragraph and prop it up on my desk. A constant reminder of where I am headed after the not-so-dream-job; a sprinkle in the muck of the office. 

Aside from the Brooklyn loft, there are other sprinkles that I can see in my future. I will get to pick up ballet again. When there is a day that no one is home, I turn up the stereo and pirouette across the living room, I chasse back and forth across the wooden floor. I pass de bourree and pas de chat until I can't decipher one motion from the next, until my whole body is gliding effortlessly around while my mind drifts off into a faraway place. Ballet for me is meditation, it is therapy for my mind and body, and the long days of watching the little sneeze-baby has forced me to give it up for the past six months. It has been the longest span of time I have gone without sliding on my tights and ballet shoes since I was six years old, and my whole soul is yearning to hear someone speak those beautiful French terms so my feet can reply with just the right steps. Thinking about getting back to ballet isn't just a few sprinkles- it is the cherry on top. 

And while I sit here and dream about my loft and Ikea, my office and the framed application paragraph, my 1970's mint condition arm chair and my ballet shoes, I am still trying to find the sprinkles in this day. While that is all to come in my not so distant future, today is where the muck is. Saying goodbye to the sneeze-baby, staring ahead into the long week after a holiday weekend, waiting for the house cleaner to leave- it's all today's muck. So I make my focus smaller. I can't have my loft today, but I can look forward to going home tonight and curling up on the 1970's-mint-condition-armchair with my pup and a good book. I can't pick up ballet for another month or so, but I can turn up the stereo and glide around with ease until then. I can't put the admissions paragraph on my desk for another few weeks, but I can stop at the store on my way home to buy the frame. And while I can't make this week go by any faster, I can look forward to a movie night with a friend and a haircut that are scheduled within it. And for right now? Little sneeze-baby is fast asleep and the house cleaner just left. A little more sprinkle, a little less muck. 

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- clementines
- round-trip tickets




Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank You, Thank You

Again it happened; a whole week has slid by without a sneeze-thought about it. A whole week of normal, a whole week of the in's and and out's of everyday, a whole week of exactly what I can expect from a week. And then I woke up this morning to an entirely different, wonderful type of day.

Thanksgiving, for me, is the best type of beginning there is. it's the beginning of a string of tradition and love and celebration. It's the start of a season that is seasoned with excuses to put on pretty dresses and sip sparking drinks in the evening with friends. It is the beginning of months spent inside toasty homes, escaping cold nights, creating the warmest of memories. It is as if someone decided that we all need excuse after excuse to celebrate to get us through these bitter months; and what better reasons to celebrate than Thanksgiving, winter solstice, Hanukah, Christmas, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and everyones favorite Hallmark holiday- Valentine's Day, among others.

Thanksgiving though, is the real kick off. There are no presents, no clinking of glasses at the stroke of midnight, and certainly no effort to display your love through things bought from glowing store windows. Thanksgiving is about family, it is about love and celebration. Thanksgiving is about sweet potato topped with melted marshmallow and playing cards around the dining room table. Thanksgiving is about telling stories about when the kids were younger, it's about sharing what is happening in the hustle and bustle of life right now, and it's about baking apple pie to indulge in all the while. While Christmas is nostalgic, and New Year's Eve is magical, Thanksgiving is the celebration there solely to remind you of all the love you are surrounded by. The love that is put into the turkey and its trimmings, the love in the laughter that fills the room, and the love in your aunt elbowing you in the side so you can peek at her cards. It is the holiday that puts the whirlwind of these warm-winter months into perspective. It is the day that says "yes, yes this is all yours and you love it" and you whisper back "thank you, thank you" a hundred times because you know it will all be over too soon. And when this day does come to an end, when the parade is over and the table has been cleared, when children start to fuss about too full bellies and Christmas movies take over every channel, and when we all retreat back into our own glowing homes, it's the dinner table laughter still ringing in your ears that reminds you to mutter one more "thank you, thank you" before you drift back into the bustle of the holiday season.

Thanksgiving is the mother of all of the holidays. It's the one that reminds you how to sit and what fork to use, it's the one that reminds you how to hug and thank and appreciate. Thanksgiving is the holiday that reminds you it's not about what you have on the table, but who is sitting around it. It's the day that reminds you celebration is about just that: celebrating; no frills, no tinsel and countdowns, just celebration. So as we pack away the leftovers into the fridge and bundle up to shop and string lights on the house, remember to step back and mutter a "thank you, thank you" now and then for all the wonderful reasons we have to celebrate this time of year.



Thank You, Thank You ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- unexpected guests
- knowing all of the words in a movie
- pies in the oven
- buzzers
- uncles
- having no empty chairs


 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Daily Sneeze Tease

The Daily Sneeze (or what's fueling the fire today)
-Olga.
-Strangers chatting during rush hour.
-Holding space. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hello Normal. Come Stay a While.

When I logged on to Blogger today, I didn't expect to see that it  has been a whole week since I last posted!    An entire week has gone by and I haven't had anything happen that made me think "oh! I should blog about this!" This week was unusually normal, particularly mellow. It was the kind of normal that can be nagging and comforting all at the same time.

Normal is such a tricky fellow. Some days when nothing seems to be going your way, all you want is for Normal to slip in and take over. Other times, after Normal has been hanging around for a while eating all of your food and hunkering down on your couch, all you want is for Excitement to storm in and rial things up a bit. But lately for me, Normal has just kind of been there, lurking in the corner bothering no one. Normal has included dinner with friends, Broadway shows on friday nights (Next to Normal, ironically enough) and snuggling in bed with my pup by 10 pm. And while I would love to drone on about the pros and cons of normal life, I'll keep this one short and leave you with a little list of normal happenings and a little bit of sneeze:

-If you like to read my blog, go pick up All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarden by Robert Fulghum. He writes the way I would if I were a a fortysomething minister in the eighties. It's really a sneeze-dream of a book. Trust me.

-Next to Normal was fan-tas-tic. And if you're in NY and can see it, please do! It closes mid-January, tickets would make a lovely holiday gift. Just sayin'.

-If you would like to kill a few brain cells with guilt filled entertainment, watch Millionaire Matchmaker. It's awful and fantastic and addictive. And also how I spent a big part of my weekend.


The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today...))
-breezy November days.
-normalness.
-flower looms (oh I am in love with flower looms).
-and the products of flower looms...

please excuse the terrible cell-phone-photo-quality, and the sleepy baby face. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Twenty-Two Candles, and No Birthday Song

"A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave."
~Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert (said by her friend, Richard)

I can think of at least seven other things I should be doing right now, at 11:30 at night, that aren't writing on Sneezeweed. I should be diving into the pile of dirty laundry in the corner so I will have something to wear in the morning. I should be working on my midterm, due tomorrow. I should be sending e-mails for my internship. I should be cleaning out my overflowing closet. I should be writing a paper on culture. I should be booking a New Years vacation. I should be sleeping. I should not be sitting here pouring my heart out on Sneezeweed, blogging for the second time today. But this is serious. I can assure you that there will be no uplifting ending, no dreamy metaphoric moral, no sigh of relief and comfort at the end of this post. Today was a hard day. 

November 10th is almost over, and I still haven't talked to the one person who has been on my mind all day. It is her twenty-second birthday, she blew out twenty-two candles just a few hours ago, I am sure of it. And if you would have told me a year ago that I wouldn't be celebrating with her today I surely wouldn't have believed you. For anyone to understand why this is so devastating, you would have had to have known us. We were two peas in one pod, one mind in two bodies, two souls twisted into one perfect pair. We were best friends from the time we were small children; the only two who chose to knot friendship bracelets under the slide instead of playing soccer in the field at recess (although I am sure I finished hers for her, when she got too impatient, while she tossed rocks at the shiny underside of the slide). As we got older we were literally inseparable. We shared locker combinations and crushes, lunches and secrets, jokes and families. Where one went the other joined, arm in arm, always. We had a deep and almost frightening connection. If one was upset, the other would know from miles away. One could give a look, a mere glance across the room, and the other would know her exact thought. When we talked it only took one word to tell entire stories. Others were envious of our friendship, and we could understand exactly why. It was the best kind of friendship anyone could have growing up. A shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, a trusting and loyal friend through unpredictable adolescents. I don't know how else to describe what our friendship was like. I am certain that there are no words that can truly sum it up, but Richard comes close; looking at her was like looking in a mirror. She was me, and I was her- perfect reflections of one another. 

I wish I could pinpoint what happened in the past couple of years. We were in college, living separate lives, and we naturally became less dependent on one another. It was fine. We were still as close as ever for a long time. We just needed one another a little less. But as time went on and we each started to fly off in our own directions we began to confide less and bicker more, and eventually barely talked at all. In the past year we really grew apart. I'm sure we could both point fingers and blame it on this and that, but it really doesn't matter. The fact is that today is her Birthday, and for the first time in over a decade I wasn't the first one to sing to her. I didn't buy her a present, and I didn't plan a night out to celebrate. And let me tell you, it hurt more than I ever thought it would. 

Today I felt like I was mourning a death, and I guess in a way I was. Today was the first time that I really, truly realized that I have lost the best friend I ever had. Until today I tucked her away in the corner of my mind labeled "distant friend." I am starting to realize that having distance implies that you know where the other is. And as I look around, I don't have the slightest clue what direction she is in. She is not distant, she has been lost. And like many people who have lost someone they love, I came home today and turned to old photos with remnants of scotch tape on the back, old notes scratched on college ruled notebook paper, and even back to the pages of those old literary magazines to try to grasp a bit of what we had. I had remembered that in our first year on the magazine another writer had surprised us by publishing our poems on friendship side by side. I flipped through all of the magazines until I found the one that had my name scribed on the page adjacent to hers, and I read the two poems through tear-filled eyes. Now I am not certain if the writer who placed them realized what the poems were really about when she decided to surprise us; I did not cry because of how beautiful the poems are, or because our names look so lovely on adjacent pages. I cried because both of our poems are about losing a friend. And so I sobbed. I sobbed because it was as if we knew, even then, that this could be our fate. I sobbed because it was as if we were prepared for the days when birthdays would go unrecognized and silence would fall between us. I sobbed because all I wanted to do in that moment was to call her up and say "look! we knew each-other so well, that we even knew it couldn't last!" I felt like a child who had their most treasured stuffie taken away, right before bedtime; and the only way was to cry herself to sleep and hope that it was returned in the morning. 

Richard says that it would be too painful for a soul mate to stay in your life forever, and there isn't a single doubt in my mind that she is a soul mate. She was my first soul mate; from the time we exchanged friendship bracelets under the slide until today, her twenty-second birthday. And maybe he is right. Maybe soul mates must come and go, leaving room for the magical moment when the next one will appear; but even still I would give up my most treasured stuffie if it meant that I could have our friendship back for the long haul. I can't help but think that there is still some remnant of our deep and almost frightening connection though; my urge to flip open the literary magazine, to the place where I knew I would find our adjacent names, came only a day after I wrote about how my poetry-writing-sneeze-self knows best. And do you know what I found on my side of the spine? seventeen little words, at the end of my poem, that provided the only small bit of comfort today:

when true friends drift apart,
they are held together internally,
by the simple beat of the heart. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Little Bit of Show and Tell

This might be one of the most beautiful articles I have come across. Ever. Check it out.

and also...

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
- waving.
- holiday tunes.
- the smell of morning coffee.
- wabi-sabi.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

... Either way You Will be Surprised.

When I was a teenager I wrote for my high schools literary magazine. It was titled Epiphany, and ever since seeing the word on the cover of the first issue I contributed to, I realized that all of my writing was exactly that: one small epiphany at a time. While now my best writing is done in the form of this personal narrative that I show here on my blog, in high school I was a poet. And when I look back and read from my old poetry notebooks, spines broken, colored pencil doodles, cross-outs and misspellings, I can't help but be proud of the old wise soul I have always been. Sometimes I think that re-reading all of those old poems will give me more insight into my life than any conversation with a friend, any night spent burying my face in a pillow, or even any afternoon pouring my heart out here on Smelling the Sneezeweed. The sneeze version of me always knew best.

There is one poem that rang out in my head over and over this past weekend. It is a poem where I complied little tid bits of life advice that I thought were important to live by. One reads "either choose to plan things out or go on a whim, either way you will be surprised." And well isn't that just the truth. My friend and I had tickets to Fridays Post Secret event in Connecticut. I have been looking forward to seeing Frank speak for weeks. When I went to work that morning I gently tucked the tickets inside of the latest Post Secret book (that I hoped to get signed) and packed it away in my bag. I went to work, failed at getting out early, hopped on the next train, and raced the forty minutes to my friends house so we could make the ferry to Connecticut. Well, the combination of missing the early train, the train I was on running twenty-minutes late, and rush hour traffic caused us to pull into the ferry terminal thirty-minutes after the ship had set sail. I was devastated. We had a plan, how could we be late? So we made phone calls, listened to busy signals, wined to friends, and then gave up. We weren't going to see Frank, I wasn't going to get my book signed, and those two tickets were going to stay right where they were, tucked away.

What happened next was possibly the best surprise we could have come up with. We were sitting in the ferry terminal and decided to make the best of the evening. We were in the center of a little port town, surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, and bars; so we decided to have a date night. And let me tell you, two friends having an unexpected date night is a fantastic surprise. We went to dinner at a cramped greek restaurant where we shared a salad, gnashed on pitas, and savored chicken gyros. We wandered into a little bookstore where we giggled over children's books and bought novels that we agreed to swap in a few weeks. We went to a sweet bakery where we spilt a cupcake, sipped coffee, and listened to live soulful music. Finally we headed over to a local bar where we drank pumpkin ale and flirted with the hunky bartender. By the end of the night I had practically forgotten about the two Post Secret tickets still sitting snug in my bag.

When I got home that night I was tired, but swirling on a high from my unexpected fantastic evening. No, I didn't get to see Frank. And no, I have no idea when he will pop up in the North East again. But am I sad about the way my night turned out? No way! I had a fantastic time. I found a new band that I can't get enough of, I have a new hidden spot to go to with a hunky bartender, and I have more memories from hopping around that harbor town than I likely would have gotten from a boat ride and a theater. And I have to tell you, I don't think I would have thought my night was so fantastic had I not read those sneeze words just days earlier.

It's true; "either choose to plan things out or go on a whim, either way you will be surprised." And what a pleasant surprise of an evening it was..

The Daily Sneeze ((or what's fueling the fire today))
-friends around round tables.
-snow in November.
-scarves.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Daily Sneeze Tease

Today, it will just be the Daily Sneeze.. and by today, I mean Friday because even thought the clock says 1:00am, I'm still in Friday.

The Daily Sneeze (or what's fueling the fire today)
-six year olds skyping (cross-continentally)
-red sneakers on the subway
-old fashioned microphones held by soulful singers in coffee shops
-when plans change... for the better
-and oh yes, this:

that's right. a rainbow cookie cupcake. fantastic. 


((go ahead, tell me what's fueling your fire))

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fuel the Fire

I have a confession to make. Smelling the Sneezeweed is supposed to be a space where I make a regular effort to acknowledge all of the beauty I see in the world. It is supposed to be a place where I come to share my happiness and my love for life even when I have no clue where life is taking me. Smelling the Sneezeweed is a place where I envision myself writing with the same fire and passion that I have always written with, and using that fire to spread the happiness to others that are walking in the same moccasins that I am walking in. But like I said, I have a confession to make.

I started to look back at my recent posts and I realized- they are fireless. They just sound like I sat down to my computer and felt compelled to write something. anything. And well, it really began to upset me because I realized that this firelessness was not just a part of my writing, but it is a huge part of my life right now. I realize that finding the happiness and the beauty in my day to day world is really difficult for me now. I feel like the little things that make each day bright are getting littler, and I am getting buried deeper and deeper into this state of "fire-free."

There are a whole slew of things in my life that are suffocating that fire. Pillowcase on top of pillowcase of suffocation. From my hectic schedule to my claustrophobic home, I know what the pillowcases are. But instead of having all of you read on and on about what is putting out my fire, let me just tell about the epiphany of a moment I had today.

My bear is back in my life, and well, he sure is after that lovely picnic I had set up in the woods. It is amazing to me how the person who makes you feel that happiest you have ever felt and the person who makes you feel the worst you have ever felt can inhabit the same body. But he does, and lately the high of the happiest is coming down. And it is coming down hard. Today I was driving to my class that is about an hour away from my home and I was texting the bear (only at stoplights, and yes entirely illegally in NY). I spent the last few days in a total funk because of him circling my lovely checkerboard blanket, and I was ready to do my best to either invite him to stay for some lunch or shoo him off when it hit me. I mean, it really hit me. CRASH. I was rear ended at full speed by another car. My phone flew off my lap and into the back seat. The faceplate of my stereo went flying off and I clenched my eyes so tight  I thought they may never peel open again. When I did finally pry back my lids and peel my hands off the steering wheel I glanced in my mirror to see the other cars hood completely smashed in with smoke pouring out. There was a man reaching in the back seat and pulling out his baby twins; they were four years old and screaming in sheer terror. I climbed out of my car, nervous to look at the damage, and was glad to see that it was minimal. If you want a good bumper, drive a jeep. The other man was apologetic, and nervous. A man from a pizzeria across the street came running out offering to help, offering to take the children inside where it was safe and dry and warm, even though the man kindly declined. The children calmed down and his wife showed up. But after three long hours of phone calls and police reports in the rain, the ordeal ended with the man in the other car being arrested.

Epiphany.

Suddenly my bear didn't matter, and my dented bumper didn't matter, and my suffocating house didn't matter, and my hectic schedule didn't matter. All I could think about were those two four year olds. Those two little sneezes being told that their daddy wasn't going to come home with them. My mom pulled up in her car, because yes I am 22 and I still called my mom to come be with me, and she came rushing over but my mind was still on those two sweet little faces. My fire started to burn a little brighter. Not because this was a happy, beautiful moment, it was anything but, but because I realized that maybe I'm looking for that happiness in the wrong places.

 I am looking for happiness and beauty in my bear. I am looking for happiness and beauty in my suffocating home. I am looking for happiness and beauty in my hectic schedule. I am looking for it in all of the places where it simply doesn't exist right now. I haven't been looking for it in the golden trees, or in the faces of the children where I intern. I haven't been looking for happiness and beauty in the smiling clerk at the coffee shop or in the crisp wind that blows outside my window. I haven't been looking for happiness and beauty in the world around me, I've only been looking for it within my own little fireplace.

In a moment of ultimate sadness, two small children unable to understand why their daddy wasn't going to come home tonight, I saw beauty in the face of that man who works in the pizzeria. I saw beauty in a stranger reaching out to help, offering the warmth of the pizza shop and warmth of the soul to those sweet little faces. I saw that in their oblivion, those two small children had shed their fear of the ordeal and found happiness and contentment in inspecting the broken pieces of plastic from the car that landed on the sidewalk. Happiness and beauty can show up in the most unexpected places, the places we are least likely to look.

As I drove home, those sneeze faces embedded in my mind, suddenly texting my bear was the last thing I was thinking about. I couldn't wait to get back to my snug home and my busy schedule. And while I still don't feel like I am as happy as I can be, I am starting to figure out what places are not the right ones to look for those snippets of beauty and happiness. I still think it is important to explore the beauty in my own fireplace, but I am coming to understand that sometimes you need to fuel the fire with a crisp log and crumpled paper from the outside.

And so, the newest part of Sneezeweed:

The Daily Sneeze (or what's fueling the fire today)
-kind pizza men offering all sorts of warmth.
-plastic on the sidewalk.
-moms.

((go on, tell me what's fueling your fire))




Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Let the Magic Spill



There is always a lingering magical feeling in the few days after a holiday. It's a bit subdued, mellow, maybe even somber-but it is there and it is fantastic. Halloween is up there on my list of favorite things, right there with walking barefoot in the grass and driving with the windows open on sunshine days. Halloween gives everyone the chance to be a child. We get to play dress up, be whoever we want, and walk around the streets begging for candy. It is a chance to take photos with life-size bananas, Marilyn Monroe, and giant gorillas. On Halloween children and adults are given a chance to blur the lines, even the playing field, become one another, and for a sneezeweed getting to be an adult and a child all at the same time is the ultimate dream.

I have always loved to play pretend and dress up. When  I was a little child I had a room full of toys, but often needed nothing more than a blanket draped over my back and the green carpet throughout my house to entertain me (the horse) for hours. As I got older I gave up on crawling around on the floor but certainly did not give up pretending. I have notebooks from my preteen years filled with magazine clippings of houses, jewelry, clothes, and yes, even boys that I would pretend were all mine. Even now, there are times when I will come out of the shower and instead of throwing on a pair of sweat pants before bed, I will slide into my nicest dress and a pair of heels just to pretend for a moment that I have some grand place to be that night. Any excuse to put on a crown and pearls and pink lipstick is an absolute sneezedream.  That being said, you can probably understand why I am so in love with Halloween.

Thanks Mike, for the pic


This year, like many others, I spent Halloween in my little mountain town where the celebration is more than a holiday or tradition-it's a feeling, a sensation, a spirit that fills the streets. There are parades, haunted houses, jack-o-lantern competitions,  and hundreds of people roaming in the most elaborate and creative costumes you'll ever see. Halloween in the mountain town is pure magic, and I can't imagine any other place I would want to spend the day.

Everyone gets all wrapped up in the magic of Halloween. October is one giant heap of anticipation that builds up to the one day where each one of us gets to release a little bit of our inner child. But it is what comes after the holiday, when we turn our calendars and shift our minds to turkeys and family dinners, that makes me fill up with quiet delight. The holiday lingers and we get the chance to carry a bit of it's magic into the next day with us. For me, the magic that spilled into November pooled itself all over my day. When I arrived to work, I was greeted by the sweetest baby in pumpkin and ghost clad jammies...


Seeing the little buddha belly all Halloweened up on the first of November brought a smile to my face, a little spill of magic on my heart. There was of course the jack-o-lanterns still lovely and lit up on the dining-room table and, if nothing else, the giant heap of candy on the kitchen counter should be evidence enough of the day after magic. But of course, the sneezeweed loved waking up to the hot pink nail polish sparkling on my post-halloween nails.


Did I feel silly handing my train ticket to the conductor, surrounded by grown men in their business suits, with my hot pink nails? Yes. Did my cheeks rosy up when my boss commented on how she only wears clear polish? Yes. Did I think about chipping it off every time I looked down at it all day? Yes. But while the post-grad, pre-professional me can't stand the sight of hot pink in November, the sneezeweed me is reveling in it and I still can't bring myself to take a cotton ball to it. Halloween is the ultimate sneezeweed holiday. I intend on making this magic last for as long as I can, until the hot-pink polish chips off.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fake it 'Til You Make it

 So I am writing this post from my Blackberry while sitting in an empty classroom in a Brooklyn elementary school. That's basically my way of saying spelling, grammar, and punctuation don't count on this one.

I am tired. Exhausted. As a matter of fact, if I weren't writing this right now I would probably be curled up on top of a cluster of little desks asleep. My internship is frustrating, chaotic, and well a bit of a hassle I run from classroom to classroom pretending like I know how to hook up smartboards and present information about foreign countries that I barely know about. The teachers are so nice, but they expect me to be some technological worldly guru that I am not.

So why on earth do I come back each week when the night before I have to treck into the city feels like the night before getting a root canal? Well. I guess as much as I hate it, I love it. I love coming to see all of the kids. They get excited when I come in the room even though I have no clue what I'm doing. I love meeting with the teachers on their breaks and talking "teacher talk" with them, and I'm pretty sure they have no idea I'm not plugging things in in the right places while I'm sitting there mumbling and fumbling with a mess of cords . I love to put on my nice boots and a pretty sweater and pretend like I'm going to a real job, I'm pretty sure I have my 7am self fooled into thinking I do.

My dad has this big important job with a company called wakefern. He is well respected, well liked, and he knows what he is doing. He's good at what he does and he is so passionate about it. When he starts to talk about his job you can see a fire glowing in his eyes, his whole face lights up and he starts flailing his hands all over the place. He wasn't always at the top though. He started by working in a fish market when he was 17 and worked his way up. He works with Ivy League grads and he barely got through high school. But he is sharp. He is smart. And he is good at what he does. He always ays how he doesn't really fit with all the college grads he works with, but he's got this saying that defines how he got there. "Fake it til you make it. " Work hard and act like you know exactly what you're doing, go with it, learn from experiences, and you'll get there.

I guess that's what I'm doing here in this empty classroom. I know I've got the fire in my eyes too, but for now I have no choice but to fake it. Fake it til I make it. Make it as a teacher. Make it as an adult. Make it as a person. Isn't that what we're all doing anyway? Don't we all fake it every day? Don't we all pretend like we are in total control of our daily lives, when really we have no clue what the next week or day or second will bring.

Now, I'm not saying that this whole notion of faking it is bad. I mean, yes I'm sure we'd all be happy if we were better at living. But what fun would that be? There would be no suprises in life; no growth or struggle. And all that passion we feel would be non-existant because we tend to be passionate about things that we need to work at. And is it really all that bad if we fake it a bit? I think not.
So go ahead, hold your head up high and strut your stuff-even if you have no clue where you're going. We'll never know. Fake it til you make it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Favorite Song is Unwritten




"There are all kinds of mix tapes. There is always a reason to make one." 
~Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

I have this thing that I do when it comes to music. I will spend two or three days obsessing over my iTunes library. I sit around and download, and delete, and arrange, until I have come up with several masterpiece playlists that I listen to for months and months. After I have settled on a mood or a theme, nailed the perfect flow of songs, listened to the end of each song run into the beginning of the next to be sure they are a good fit, and after I have comprised the perfect title for my playlist, one that defines the moment it was created, I get to my favorite part. I pop a CD into my disk drive and listen to it swirl and whirl while my computer works its magic painting stripes of sound on the disk. Then I jump in my car and drive around listening to the most recent soundtrack to my life, driving to absolutely nowhere and everywhere all at the same time. 


Hey Na Na- Katie Herzig
More Than Fine- Switchfoot
Inside These Lines- Trent Dabb


My music binges come at times of intense change or excitement; I get this overwhelming urge to spruce up what I am listening to day in and day out. Suddenly every scratched up CD floating around in my car just won't do the trick. Usually I find comfort in the fact that I can confidently sing out the first line of the next track in the three seconds of silence after the pervious song ends; but then there are times when I crave something new, something unexpected. Sometimes I am up for the challenge and frustrations of not knowing every word in every song. Sometimes I like to think about how someday in the future this new mix will be as comfortable and worn in as all of the others strewn about, but for now it is shiny and new and mysterious. 


Eyes- Rogue Wave
Something Beautiful- Needtobreathe
Together with the Sundown-Stephen Jerzak


If you are a music enthusiast of any sort and you have yet to pick up Love is a Mix Tape, you really should invest. Rob Sheffield tells the story of his life, his love and loss and how music got him through it. It is heart-wrenching, but so incredibly relatable for anyone who knows the feeling of that memory rushing back when a certain song comes through the speakers. Tucked away in the pocket of my Jeep door is a CD that I can't bare to play. It is in it's case with a paper clip taped to the front, the words "Indie Mix" scribbled in a boys handwriting next to it. I was standing in a foot of snow saying goodbye before four long months apart when he handed it to me. It played in my car on repeat until the daffodils sprung up from the earth; I knew every word. Spring gave way to summer and my winter romance didn't quite result in seeing fireworks in each-others eyes on the fourth of July. I know that if I play that CD I will still be able to feel my glove covered hands gripping the steering wheel as I drove home on that snowy night; and so it sits untouched among other mix tape memories in my Jeep. 


You Me and the Mountain- Maps and Atlases
Live Like We're Alive- Nevertheless
A Little Opera Goes a Long Way- Sky Sailing


The CDs piled up next to my emergency brake chronicle my music life from age twelve or thirteen to now. There is Britney Spears sitting next to The Beatles, who canoodle with Spoon and The Shins. There are mix tapes piled up with titles reflecting college memories like "Stuff as much cheese in your pockets as you can and run!" And then there are some with little notes and hearts scribbled on them from flings past and friends. When I drive around, preferable with sunglasses on and roof off, I can literally relive my teen and twentysomething years through my speakers; and when I add a new and exciting mix-tape to the stack, I add yet another chapter to my life. 


They Bring Me to You- Joshua Radin
Slowly- Coconut Records
Pick Me Up- Matt Hires


Today the itch set in and I have been taking  frequent breaks from my day to listen to a song, googling it's lyrics as it plays. I've had a playlist opened up in my iTunes, waiting to be flowed and titled and swirled and whirled around in my disk drive. The songs on the list are crisp and colorful like autumn. They are filled with feelings of flitting love juxtaposed with feelings of independence, just how I feel. The songs go from upbeat and exciting, to a mellow tone, to loud and harsh, back down to smooth and easy to listen to, and finally fun and carefree at the end. The perfect circle of a days or weeks or months emotions. And now all I can think about is driving around listening to this heavenly season of mine play itself out on my jeep stereo. 


thank you Miss B, for the image
"Our lives were just beginning, our favorite moment was right now, 
our favorite songs were unwritten." 
~Love is a Mix Tape

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Anything List

After I read my last post again, I started to fall more in love with the concept of an anything list. Essentially, it is a bucket list with a spin, a things to do in a lifetime list with a twist. But you must admit calling it an anything list makes it feel pretty magical. The thought of looking at this big list of "I can do anything" and then choosing the "something that will make me happy right now" feels way more promising and fulfilling than compiling a list of things I want to accomplish before I, well, die. It won't be disappointing if one of the anythings doesn't occur in my life, it just simply means it wasn't ever the something that I needed.  And that feels infinitely better to me than the thought of seeing a list with more items than check marks on it for most of my life.

So here is this idea, my Anything List. It is, like me and this blog, a work in progress. It is a living document that can forever evolve with me and my life. What it is today may not be what it is tomorrow, and what it is tomorrow may not be what it is next week. However, it is deeply personal and putting it all out there on Sneezeweed feels too invasive. I love my readers, and trust in your confidence, but if you know me well you know that deeply personal thoughts are not easy for me to share. But here are a few, not the whole list but not none of it either.

-California Bungalow
-Tennessee Apartment
-Brooklyn Loft
      (that much was easy!)
-Skydive at the Ranch
-Buy a big ugly van, paint it beautiful colors, and drive it to the pacific
-Ride in a helicopter
-Learn how to keep a vegetable garden, grow said garden, and preserve the summer crops to eat all     winter long.
-Be vegetarian
-Climb over the top of a bridge
-Move to a foreign country
-Learn to rock climb
-Have butcher block counter-tops, and chairs that don't match around the dining room table.
-Go on a yoga retreat

and oh yes, how could I forget...
-Live on a farm
-Travel the world

I have become so inspired by this idea that I added it to my pages! I can add and update anytime, and you can glance over too. I'd love to hear what's on your bucket list with a spin, your things to do in a lifetime list with a twist, your Anything List.

We all can do anything that we want to, we just need to settle on one happy something at a time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looking for the New Normal

Life lately has been fairly mellow, pretty regular, a most enjoyable normal. I have spent time working, applying, visiting, and taking in the Catskills (yes! I did make it up to my mountain town for a bit!). Among  all of the hustle and bustle of ordinary life, I have been trying to figure out what it is I would like my new normal to be. I am happy where I am, but I could be happier. I love my family and I love spending time with them, but I crave my independence and privacy again. I can't complain about spending my time cuddling a sweet little infant, but I crave a job where my impact is greater, and my days are a bit shorter. I love going to school, but I crave the time I need to immerse myself in it. I am looking for that rewarding job, a balance between work and play, and a little-well- quiet time.

Life has been a comfortable normal for a while now, and normal is a wonderful thing to have. But I am beyond ready for my normal to change, to shift into a different place. The sneezeweed is blooming this time of year you know.

Upon graduating from college the feeling that I can do anything, for the first time ever, was seriously daunting. Anything is an impossibly powerful word that I didn't quite know how to take on. So I did what I do best, I dreamt big. I thought maybe I will find my new normal in an exotic place. Maybe my new normal will take me to other oceans, other cities, other passions. Maybe my new normal would be a Brooklyn loft and late night subway rides. Maybe my new normal would be a California bungalow and an Americorps project. Maybe my new normal would be an apartment in a soul-filled Tennessean city and afternoons listening to the blues and eating barbecue. I felt like a child who dreams about being a farmer, a doctor, and a world traveler at once (which was exactly what I was convinced I would be, thank you very much), but this time it was real, and right in front of me. So I did the other thing that I do best, I procrastinated. I told myself that things were a just fine normal the way they are. That the right normal would find me. And well, that didn't work too well. I was so overwhelmed with the feeling that I needed to do it all right now, that now was the only time in my life that I would get the chance to live in these places and have these experiences. So I chose not to choose, and just keep on dreaming.

Parents telling their little children "you can be anything when you grow up" is a wonderfully important and powerful part of childhood, but I think kids miss the memo: at some point, you have to boil anything down to something. Just like you can't have farmer, doctor, and traveler at the exact same moment without going insane, you also can't have Brooklyn loft, California bungalow, and Tennessee apartment at once either. But like I said, I am good at dreaming big. So in all of my efforts to decide what my new normal should be, my effort to boil the anything into a something failed miserably. So I fell back into the question that perhaps should be the ultimate fall back question: what will make me most happy, right now? And you know what, my answer surprised me. Right now, I don't want the loft or the bungalow or the apartment. Sure, I'd love to have all of these someday but that day isn't today. Today I want the Catskills. I decided that while at some point in my life I would love to experience life in all of these faraway places, its okay if that time isn't now. I will get there. But now, I feel like my time isn't done here, in New York. I feel like I want to make my way back up to the mountains I love and explore the life that I could have there.

Now that I finally have my something figured out, I just need to figure out how to get there. And I am working on it. It may not happen right now, or tomorrow, or even this year. I still need to find the job, the home, the life i'll have there. But at least I am not thinking anything anymore. I've got my whole life for anything, right now I just need to get to my something of the moment. And what a beautiful something it is.

Please don't get me wrong, I have not given up on dreaming. The loft, the bungalow, and the apartment are all still swirling around in my mind. And while I have given up on being a doctor- farmer and traveler are still very much on my anything list.

Once a dreamy sneezeweed, always a dreamy sneezeweed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Magical Mountains..

I hope that you've noticed, summer has officially melted away into autumn. Jeans and scarves have been pulled from the back of the closet to replace tank tops and flip flops. The days of sunshine leaving a dewy glow on warm cheeks have been taken over by wind blown rosy circles left in their place. And I have to tell you, I've been avoiding writing this post all weekend, because seeing pumpkins sitting on porch steps and slipping my feet into woolen socks makes me long to be in a place where I am not.

Living on this beautiful island ensures that summers are filled with days on the beach and nights surrounding fires with friends. Living here means you find comfort in seeing the thin layer of sand covering your car mats and knowing the smell of low tide from a mile away. Summers on the island are magical, and  this summer in particular proved to be filled with the easy living you would expect from such a place. But for me, when the warm air gives way to the cool breezes and the leaves begin to turn to such a brilliant gold you would swear someone climbed each tree and painted them themselves, this island gives all of its magic to the mountains and thats all I've been able to think about for the past few days.

I guess I have taken it for granted for the past few years. When the summer shuts it doors and autumn turns its sign to "welcome!" I usually move back up to the Catskills for another year of exams and presentations. But this year is different, and I didn't realize just how much my little mountain town had become home. On days like today- sunny skies, cool breeze, crunching leaves- all I can think about is wandering around my mountain town. I would buy a card for a friend in the art supply store, head over to the coffee shop to fill it out, window shop on my way down to the post office, detour into the marketplace to get Levi his favorite treats, and then head up to the mountain with nothing but a bag of trail mix and a bottle of water for the afternoon. On my way home I would stop at the farm-stand for some apples and fresh flowers, pick up dinner at my favorite diner where I would chat with the waitresses, grab my pup and a blanket, and then head down to the local park to watch sweet children run and play while day turned into evening. When the chill in the air became too much to bare anymore I would head home for a night of lounging with friend,s popping popcorn and watching movies. And sure, this may seem impossible to do when there is homework to be done, a job to go to, and groceries to be bought; but the truth is it was so far from impossible. This is what an autumn day is to me. This is where I belong now. And it wasn't until the summers close that I realized my magical island really isn't home anymore.

Maybe the most frustrating part of all of this is that so few people really understand. When I try to explain why I just want to go back to my mountain town most people brush it off. "Oh, you just miss college life. You just aren't feeling ready for the 'real world.' You just need to get over it." But here is the thing of it. I don't miss college life. I don't really miss going out four nights a week to the local bar. I don't really miss staying up late cramming for exams. I don't really miss looking at an ever growing pile of dirty dishes that no one wants to do. And I don't really miss living in a house where the heat doesn't go above 65 in the middle of winter. I don't miss college life. What I do miss is the rest of the life I created for myself there. I miss teaching ballet to little tots on Saturday mornings. I miss baking apple muffins in the afternoon. I miss shopping at the local health food store. I miss going to open mic night and kicking off my shoes at the local coffee shop. I miss the things that I had to give up because college life came to an end.

When I was living in my mountain town I created a life for myself. I started to grow and change and define who I was. All I have been able to think about since I left is when I will get to go back, for good. And unless the answer is "today," then it is too far off. Maybe you can identify, maybe you can't. But I have to tell you, the crisp autumn air has just arrived, and I don't know how I will ever make it through this season without the magic of the Catskills.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just a Teaser

Just popping in with a little teaser post so you don't think I forgot about you all!

I found this wonderful campaign called "The Kind-Hearted Blogger Campaign" that was created by a blogger who had some bad experiences with blogger bullies. She asks bloggers to take a pledge to inspire and not compete with, speak freely but not offend, and to make an effort to show kindness to fellow bloggers. Check it out! Make the pledge, add the button to your blog, and she will add your blog to her list of participants.

More later!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS


So I have decided to add a new dimension to my blog by hosting guest bloggers! I would like for guest bloggers to offer alternative perspectives on topics that I have written about (losing touch with friends, adventuring to new places, hunting for jobs, finding companionship, etc.). 

Here is how it will work: 
-You review my blog and decide which one of my posts you would like to respond to. 
-Post the title of it here in the comments section of this entry, along with a link to your blog (i'll check yours out too!), and your idea for a response.
-I'll reply "sweet" "awesome!" "go on,write away!"
-Once you've written your response, you can e-mail it to me (i'll give you my e-mail address), ill review it and post it to my blog with the title being "Guest Blogger: (your name and/or blog title here)" I will also be sure to link your blog at the end of your entry so my readers can check your blog out!
-While I reserve the right to deny publishing a post on my blog after reading it, I am open to posting entries that contradict my own views as long as they are written in a knowledgeable and respectful way. 
-You are welcome to Guest Blog once, or several times! I would love to develop ongoing relationships with fellow bloggers!
-If I get super lucky and there is an abundance of fellow bloggers who would like to serve as a guest blogger on my blog, it may take some time for me to get your response up as I do not want to post too many at a time, but don't worry! Your hard work will appear on my blog, I am prepared to post one-three guest entries a week. 

The requirements:
-Must be a twentysomething blogger who is looking to connect with other twentysomething bloggers in a positive way OR must be responding to my entry with some sort of "wisdom" from having once been a twentysomething.
-Must include a link to the entry from my blog that you are responding to, in your response.
-Because I will be promoting your blog through mine, it would be lovely if you would do the same by informing your readers that you have a guest entry running on my blog in one of your own posts. Not only will your readers see my blog, but also the hard work you put into your guest entry!

I hope you're up for the challenge!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

One Year of True Love


When I walk in the door after a long day of traipsing around Brooklyn, the first thing I see is my little pup clawing at my feet. His whole body curls in half and he wags his tail so hard that it hits him in the face, and he can't walk straight. He's my little Snoopy, my wiggle, my little dog, my pooch, he's my pup. And I love to see his little face when I walk in the door. 



On Sunday it will be one year since I first saw this little face through the chain link fence in the back of the shelter where he was waiting for me. But I guess to fully understand how Levi ended up with me, I'll have to start even before that day. One year ago I was in college, I was loving life in my little mountain town, living with friends in a quaint old house. It was our senior year and we were all in such a good place. We had been living together for three years; we meandered our way through several dorms, homes, and other roommates together until we narrowed our group down to a solid five. Four of the best friends I have ever had. Five girls who had become family, five sisters who could get through it all. Knowing that we had only one more year with one another, I started feeling like we needed something to tie us all together. I started to feel like if we had a companion in our final year, life would be that much more sweet, so I started poking around the internet to find the perfect pup. After I was sure that there was a dog out there for us, I ran the idea by my roommates. And while they were a bit more hesitant than I was, we agreed to head to a local shelter the next day. 

can you tell who is a bit hesitant?
The next morning I woke up like a child on Christmas, sat in the living room and anxiously awaited the rest of the house to rustle. As soon as everyone was awake my shoes were on and two of us were out the door, the others waiting at home for the phone calls and photos about who we found. 

When we arrived at the shelter, an old barn down a long dirt road, we were a bit skeptical. We went in anyway. After filling the woman behind the counter in on what we were looking for (a small, friendly pup)she had her coworker lead us through rows of huge dogs with deep barks, behind big cage doors, to an outdoor area with five or six dogs roaming freely. There were several dogs cowering in the back, and three right up by the fence-one of which was my Levi. He and his brother were the only two perched up scraping their paws against the chain-link, whimpering as to say "oh please! choose me! choose me!" And so we did. The two dogs were let out for us to play with and I immediately scooped up my Levi. 






I have to admit, we all thought that Levi's brother was the better pick of the two, but my heart had already fallen in love with the one in my arms- and luckily a last minute decision had us walking out with Levi and not his brother. 
*a side-note: I almost left with both Levi and his brother; while filling out the paperwork I couldn't bare the thought of leaving the other pup behind. But, thankfully, just as I was about to propose the idea to my roommates a little boy and his dad came walking into the office with the other Snoopy, smiling just as big as we were. 


Levi is a four(ish)-year-old Chihuahua, Beagle, Daschund mix. That is the best guess anyway, and he was removed from a home that had fourteen dogs inside. There was Levi, his mother, and five or six brothers and sisters, as well as some other dogs. He was living in filthy conditions, his ribs poked out of the sides of his little body, and he shook and cowered from the slightest abrupt movement. Levi was a little puppy mess, but we gave him a second chance at life; and boy is it a great one.




Over the last year Levi and I have celebrated...



we have climbed mountains, braved waters, and strolled beaches...









Levi has even been the proud recipient of the "most obedient" award at a local pup parade...



Levi and I have spent days adventuring, evenings playing, and we see eye-to-eye on almost everything...





Levi and I even graduated college together...


and to be truthful, I don't know how I would have survived the transition from "college student" to "unemployed young adult" without him. 



Levi has come a long way from his shaky, skinny self that he was one year ago. His rib-baring sides have filled out, his skittish tendencies have been replaced with a wagging tail and a hardy bark, and his heart is filled with the biggest love I have ever known. 

Everyday that I walk in the door, tired and sluggish, my little wiggle pops out from the hall and greets me like no one else can. A dogs love is unconditional, and incomparable.

I like to think that Levi and I saved one another. We were meant to get each-other through difficult times and to enjoy each-others company on sunshine filled days. When someone comes up to him too abruptly, wanting to pet and love on the cutest little pup, he sticks right close to my legs so I can warn them he is "shy." And when I am feeling low he knows just the right place to nuzzle up on my chest to make me giggle. We both love to curl up on cool sheets under the warm sun in our local park, and to hike the beautiful mountains on lovely days. 

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and on Sunday we will not only be celebrating one fantastic year with Levi- but we will also be celebrating for all shelter dogs who were lucky enough to get a second chance, a loving home, and a dear companion, as well as wishing and hoping for those who are still waiting


And oh, what a wonderful year it has been. 


(In honor of  Adopt a Shelter Dog month, please feel free to share this post, or any of the links attached to it, with anyone who may be ready to embark on a shelter adoption of their own!)