Archive | July, 2011

Day 212: going home

31 Jul

Some call it the first day of the rest of your life.
Today, we celebrate Justin’s cousin Brad and his new wife Kelly, on their first day together as husband and wife.

As they take this next step together we begin a new journey with one of our very own:

Number One Pup.

Today, Pup came home to his family.
Actually, Pup came home to the entire Davis Family Reunion.

After spending over a month at the kennel, (which we lovingly call “Camp Countryside”) in order to heal a disk that slipped in his back, Pup has now slipped back into our lives.

Albeit with a permanent back injury, a few spots licked raw on his front paw and one “happy tail” (the official diagnosis for dogs who wag their tail so hard against the kennel wall the skin breaks into a bloody mess).

But, having him here is as if he never left.

Over the course of this year I have been asked many questions about The Promise 365, including: why I started it, what I’m discovering and the most pressing question:  What has been the hardest part?

At the beginning of this year, I would have answered that question with, “writing every day” — but, writing soon became a routine, and I learned how to fit it into my day.  Like most overwhelming goals in life it just took consistent practice.

After my month-long cleanse I would have answered, “giving up chocolate and sugar” — but even chocolate, I soon learned could be worked around, replaced, or substituted with healthy alternatives.  (Although, this Davis Family is putting my chocolate embargo to the test! I am happy to report I have not caved — yet.)

Tonight, as I sit with Pup at my feet, writing this post, my answer to that question is most definitely, “living without Pup” — because, even though he will forever have a bad back and currently sports a shaved spot on his leg and a bandaged tail, he is home.

And, as I sit in the glow of The Davis Family Reunion, I realize Pup is just another one of these people.

Kind, full of hugs, open arms, and the willingness to lend a paw or two to someone in need.  I might even go as far to say lick his plate clean.

They say you can never go home.
I beg to differ.

And, so does Pup.

Day 211: on top of the world

30 Jul

It’s wedding day around here.
And, while it is customary for the bride and groom to be on top of the world on this special day, the rest of us will soon be too.

Well, technically, we will be on top of a ski mountain, one that requires a chair lift to transport each of us to the summit and the ceremony.

The big, pressing question over the last few days has been: what are you wearing?

For the women at least, there has been much discussion about shoes and attire. It’s a survey of sorts, being passed around like hors d’oeuvres:

Heels or flats?
Pants or dress?
Strapless or sleeveless?

Add a weather forecast of 90 degrees and this becomes even more interesting.

So, this afternoon we wedding goers did what girls do best:  laid out all of the options to debate the pros and cons of each dress.  It’s great fun, I must admit.  It’s like playing dress-up, or pretending to shop, or something in between.

As for me:

The old Jamie, would have spent two days, if not two weeks, figuring out what dress to wear, what shoes to buy, what jewelry to match.  The new Jamie, at least the 211 days into her promise Jamie, has learned how to make due, be a little more creative than just swiping her credit card for a new outfit in a moment of confusion, and, she is certainly honing her re-purposing skills with what’s already in her closet.

There is just one problem.
Dropping my sugar addiction has also allowed me to lose something else.
My already-less-endowed endowment. (And, I’m not talking about finances here.)

So strapless is out.
I really wanted to wear my totally adorable turquoise and white striped strapless number. It’s a perfect fit for a summer wedding. It’s cool and fun and totally design worthy. But, I don’t trust it’s ability to stay in place, especially with my butt placed on a chair lift 2,006 feet about sea level.

So my long, chocolate-brown cotton dress will do.  It will be cool enough, long enough, and just right enough for the occasion (and, the only chocolate this girl will have today!)

It’s almost perfect, except for one thing.
It is cut a bit too low for me now.  But, I have a solution.  A strapless tank top will now replace any cleavage that once stood in its place.  And, that’s okay. Because the new Jamie is learning to go with the flow.  Or, lack thereof.

Oh, and bike shorts!
I plan to wear bike shorts underneath.  At least until I get to the top of the mountain.

Oh, yes, and flip flops!
I will be toting both heels and flip flops.  Just in case.

And that’s enough.  Actually, it’s just right.
Because, if there is one thing I am learning this year, it is this: I already have what I need.

And, whether it is strapless, sleeveless, long, short, hemmed, lace, cotton or sequined — there is only one dress that matters on this day.

The one the bride is wearing.
For, it is her moment, to be, on top of the world.

Day 210: f*ing friday :: family

29 Jul

Today continues the weekly series, F*ing Fridays, which will coincidentally occur on Friday. I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the word Fear.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:

As in, reunion.

I just opened a gift, a token of support from our cousin Kyla.  She won’t be near us in January when The Promise 365 is over, so she presented me with a gift now.  I’m supposed to keep it with me until the day comes when I can shop again.  It’s a little plaque that reads: “keep calm and buy shoes.”

And, that makes me think: isn’t this what family does?
Make sure they are with you, even when they can’t be with you.

Tonight, I sit in a little side room writing this post.  The room echoes of family.  There is family in the kitchen, there is family seated around the dining room table, and there is family wrapped around the couch in the living room.

The walls are bouncing with voices and laughter.  The house is being readied for festivities.  Today there will be a rehearsal. Tonight there will be a dinner.  Tomorrow there will be a wedding.

It is the stuff families are made of.

Tomorrow, Cindie’s oldest son will marry.  And we will celebrate a new day and the ritual of family.

Tomorrow, there will be a new union made between two people under the open sky.  But, tonight, we will celebrate a reunion of family under one roof.

A reunion of cousins and aunts and uncles, and of brothers and sisters and grandchildren too.  We remember those who cannot be here, some because the distance was too long to travel, and others because they have already traveled to the other side.  But, they are with us, in our hearts, even still.

Today, the circle expands, with new friends and new girlfriends, all welcomed as family.  Love is extended, passed around, and passed down.

Tomorrow, the circle officially grows as two called fiancé turn into one husband and wife.

And, so, it is.
And, always has been.
And, forever will be.

Even when everyone is not in the same place, at the same time.

It is Family.

Day 209: want to be happy? go on vacation!

28 Jul

We are leaving, not on a jet plane, more like a slow ferry.

We are packed up and heading to “America” (as island locals say) a.k.a. the mainland.

Our destination?  A mini family reunion, a wedding, and a dentist appointment. Hey, it can’t all be fun and games when one gets the chance to sail to America.

It’s a boat trip + road trip + Novocaine trip, all in one.
The latter I am not looking forward to.

But, don’t all road trips have a bump in the road somewhere?

Even though we spend our summer on an idyllic island, this distinctly feels like vacation.  And, according to the recent Time article, Want Happiness? Don’t Buy More Stuff — Go on Vacation, experts report doing more brings more happiness than purchasing more

I can relate.

So far, over this journey (a vacation of sorts, from shopping), I have learned first-hand it is just as adventurous to find a new yoga class as it is to find a frilly dress.  One would think purchasing a physical item would make euphoria last longer.  Turns out, it doesn’t.  We attribute more long-term happiness to memories and special moments, or vacations and road trips than to new t-shirts or TV’s.

Vacations are indeed priceless.

When I think back over my life, I can remember every road trip ever taken.  From the trek last fall where Justin, Pup and I crisscrossed the entire country, to the spring break with my college buddies where Laura and Lisa and I drove to Corpus Christi, Texas, bringing back more than hangovers and memories; we packed up the car with full body sunburns and Aloe vera (not a good combination for a 20 hour car ride home).

And, then there is that one road trip Justin and I took, a very long time ago, heading towards college in his black Tahoe.  We drove from Idaho to Missouri, from West to Mid-west, on our way to college.

It was a long way
Not because of the distance between home and college, but because of the distance between us.  We were recently broken up. (Looking back, now, we think our two mother’s collaborated to put us together in a car for two days in hopes our hearts would resolve. Good plan. Didn’t work.)

On that long and winding road, where there is NOTHING between Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and the Missouri River, we made small talk and listened to CD after CD after CD, ignoring the pink elephant in the car: my broken heart.

Somewhere between Denver and Kansas City we spotted billboards for The World’s Largest Prairie Dog.  And when you see a billboard for the world’s largest prairie dog, you have to stop.  Not surprisingly, it was a cement hoax, a large sculpture of a prairie dog (which you probably already guessed).  But, it broke the ice between our two hearts as we laughed and rolled our eyes at the roadside ridiculousness.

We laughed the rest of the way to the Missouri state line. When Justin dropped me off at Laura and Lisa’s front door we waved to each other.  No more kisses, no more hugs.  But we had something new: one, big, prairie dog.

Yesterday, a song on Pandora rang through my computer speakers and held me in its grip.  It’s called Long Way and it’s a road trip song (it caught my attention because it mentions Idaho, and many other places I have driven through.)

I searched online to find out more, and you’ll never guess what I found…

A video where the artist, Antje Duvekot, describes her own road trip across the county and what she discovered.  Turns out we aren’t the only suckers for enormous prairie dogs!

If you have a few minutes, this video is worth a watch and the song is a good listen.

Call it good for your soul.  Or, if you’ve ever driven cross-country, broken up with the person sitting next to you, then it just might be good for your heart too.

Trust the research.
Vacations last longer than souvenirs.
Some trips are short. Some are long.  
But, all are memorable.

Day 208: the proof is in the pudding, see for yourself

27 Jul

The proof is in the pudding.
That saying is so silly.  And, apparently that version of the saying is not really saying anything at all.  Although I personally hear people say this saying out loud in front of me all the time, experts agree, it’s not real.

Here’s proof:
According to The Phrase Finder ‘The proof of the pudding’ is just shorthand for ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’. That longer version makes sense at least, whereas the shortened version really doesn’t mean anything – nor does the often-quoted incorrect variation ‘the proof is in the pudding’. The continued use of that meaningless version is no doubt bolstered by the fact that the correct version isn’t at all easy to understand.”

Yes. I agree. Not easy to understand.
So to make it easier, here’s the skinny (meaning the “low-down” or “inside information”):

However you say it, the proof is in the pudding means to fully test something you need to experience it yourself.

So here’s my proof, or my pudding, or my eating, or whatever, you know what I mean.

On Day 201 I shared my jaunt into retail therapy, shopping online for a new pair of glasses.  (Yay shopping!) The only kind I can partake in this year since it counts as an official medical purchase.

Here is my online dressing room and virtual self trying on glasses, which I promptly ordered!

And, here is the Real Life Version (real life in PAJAMAS!) first thing this morning trying on my new glasses that arrived in their bright blue box.

What do you think?  How does the pudding taste?
I’m personally pretty happy since I sit on this side of the computer with an Astronomical Astigmatism and ordering glasses is always a factor of how thick the lenses will be multiplied by how thick the plastic must be to hold them, a.k.a. the coke bottle effect. 

It’s a bizarre experience ordering lenses online.
But, it saved me both time and money.  And that’s as good for my wallet as it is for my head.

What’s even more bizarre?
Tonight, as I started writing this blog post, in the middle of doing some research, ironically this is what flashed on my screen. If you click on the image below you will see the definition for “proof is in the pudding” along with two ads from Coastal Contacts.

Ironic? I think not.

Day 207: medical reasons to go the f**k to sleep

26 Jul

Have you read this book: Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach?

We spotted it in Bunch of Grapes bookstore after some of our friends with little ones told us about Adam’s hysterical take on a bedtime story.

The scenario is familiar even to my childless life: the little pitter-patter of feet that won’t stay in bed, the pleading voices that ask for multiple glasses of water, the creative minds that find every ingenious excuse under a 3-year old sun (and moon) NOT to go to bed.

Turns out sleeping is just as important for adults as it is for kiddos.

Today, I read Dr. Ruth Buczynski’s expert interview with Dr. Rubin Naiman in a report from The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine.  (long name – good report)

I was stunned to see how the lack of good quality sleep causes so many health issues, including: impairing the immune system, creating disease, depression, even obesity!

Here’s one tidbit straight from the report:
“The American Cancer Society did a study of a million American adults and found a correlation, no cause and affect evidence, but a very compelling strong correlation between being a short sleeper and increases in cancers across the board.

The key takeaway?  Our immune system kicks in at night, particularly during deep sleep, so it’s good for the body.

This made me stop and reflect.
As I spend each and every day of this year thinking about my head, heart, body and soul (and not thinking about acquiring new shoes and dresses) I realize that I have yet to examine sleep — and how it affects my dreams (both the ones I am trying to live out in the daylight and the ones I have at night).

Turns out both are equally important.

You snooze you lose?
Actually, if you sleep you win!
And, I do like to win.

As Dr. Rubin Naiman said: “Most sleep doctors pay insignificant attention in my belief to the place of dreaming as a part of sleep health, and there is evidence that we’re actually dreaming less and less.”

His advice:
Develop a personal ritual at night, a personalized routine to get your body ready for sleep. He recommends an hour of time each night to slow down and relax before slumber.

Hum …a routine? 
How about a bedtime story, followed by a glass of water, then a stop in the bathroom, then another snuggle on the couch to watch TV before finally giving in to our dreams?  Maybe those 3-year old really do know the secret to a good night’s sleep!

There’s one more thing that Adam Mansbach and Dr. Rubin Naiman seem to agree on: laughter may help us all fall asleep faster. 

So, sweet dreams.  Night, night.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite.
And, Go the F**K to Sleep!
It’s good for you.

Day 206: nightswimming deserves a quiet night

25 Jul

Justin is a water baby. 
He has proof beyond his love and adoration for the ocean: webbed feet.  Yes, his toes are webbed, SO WEBBED that when his mom and I surprised him with Five Fingers shoes for Christmas, they didn’t fit.  They couldn’t slip over the skin that ties his toes together.

Tonight Mr. Aqua Pants begged me to go down to the water with him because he had something special to show me.  He’s been talking about it nonstop for the last three days, mesmerized by the supernatural down at the harbor.

So despite the fact that I am a scaredy cat of the water — in daylight — and I also happen to be reading Vineyard Supernatural, True Ghost Stories From America’s Most Haunted Island, I agreed to follow him down to the water’s edge on this dark and cloudy night.

As soon as our toes hit sand and my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see the water was bouncing up over the boat launch, much higher than I have ever seen it before.  Justin assured me it was just the wind.

With my camera in hand I watched Justin jump into the water and then coax me out to the edge of the cement boat launch, close enough where I could stay dry but also observe his most marvelous find on the island thus far: lightning water.

As he moved his hands around in the water, sparks of light jumped around like lightning bugs zapping through the water.

“Wow!” I screamed in delight. “Do it again!”

And he did.  Justin splashed in the water and I watched the fireworks show from the dock, warm and dry in his fuzzy robe.  As he moved his arms about underwater to show me another round of sparks I remembered a time when we both swam together on a night, a very long time ago.

It was in high school, on a hot summer evening in the depths of the Snake River Canyon in our home town swimming hole, Dierkes Lake. My skinny-dipping moment came with short-lived bravery, because I was seventeen, and in love, not yet diagnosed with cancer, and wanted so desperately to hold this boy’s hand, even under cold dark water on a hot summer’s night.

R.E.M. sings this song that reminds me of that moment so very long ago.  Tonight, it came back to me as I watched Justin splash around in the sparkling harbor on Martha’s Vineyard.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water
They cannot see me naked
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday

As a Freshman in college I sat at my new little dorm room desk, far away from home, from the canyon where I swam, from Justin, from everything I knew to be true, listening to this R.E.M. song over and over again.  It was August, and the line “September’s coming soon” pulled at my heart strings.

In my heart I knew September meant change.
It always does.

Nightswimming, remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming

So it was tonight, so many years later, I again watched the man I adore, with webbed feet, splashing quietly in the water.  This time I was dry (and clothed!) and on the dock, but equally entranced watching a different kind of fireworks occur underwater.

I suppose science could explain the chemical reaction that causes lightning water, but for me, I could not describe nightswimming.  What my head cannot explain, only my heart understands.

Day 205: my happy pill

24 Jul

I’ve been happy and sad all day long.
Today our dear friends Sara and Ethan traveled to the island with their two young boys, Luka and Kaleb, for a day trip to see us one last time before they move to Texas.

It was a marvelous day with:
ferry rides on the fast ferry
black dogs and yellow dogs and puppies
bare toes on the beach
book stores with children’s books and toys
melted ice cream for the kids and organic smoothies for the adults

And one of my favorite moments, swinging on the porch swing at The Black Dog teaching Luka the difference between a motor boat and a sail boat.

Luka is my Happy Pill and I am his Gigi.
We made these names up for each other almost three years ago, when he was an infant bottle feeding at 6am and I was his parent’s displaced friend bumming a spot on their living room couch to sleep off my divorce, job lay-off, and all events tucked under the title of “The Year of Terrible Things”.

But there was one thing that was not terrible about that year:
My Happy Pill.

Luka was one of the only lights in my life that could make me laugh during that dark and ferocious storm.  While I watched the world seemingly crumble around me, Luka reached out and extended his chubby little baby arms to me to cuddle him, to feed him, to play with him.

On some of my toughest days when I couldn’t get out of bed and wanted to bury my grief and my head in the sand, Sara would leave me multiple messages on my cell phone begging me come over to their house, reminding me that a Happy Pill wanted to see his Gigi.  She knew it was my only relief.

Luka is a little boy now.
That terrible year is history, but I am still his Gigi, and his smile still brings me joy.

And so does this:
Today, as I reached down to take Luka’s hand as we all walked through The Black Dog compound of stores, Luka dropped hold of my fingers and ran after Justin saying, “I want to hold Justin’s hand!’

And, for that I can’t blame him, because I do too.

As I watched the two boys I adore walking hand in hand it occurred to me…
If it wasn’t for “The Year of Terrible Things” I wouldn’t be here now, on this island, with these friends and with my boys who bring me much happiness — the kind of happiness that doesn’t come in a pill.

So it seems we have all moved on.
I survived that terrible year.  Justin found me once more and provides a daily dose of hugs and love.  Luka now prefers Justin’s hand to mine.  And Sara and Ethan will pack for Texas, taking my Happy Pill and his little brother far away.

Of course we will all visit and reunion.  Plans will be made.  Luka will always be my Happy Pill but I know, in my heart, the winds of change are blowing.

With all of this swirling in my head today, I saw a sign and stopped in my tracks.  The sign caught my eye.  Maybe I was ready to see it, maybe it was just coincidence, or maybe is was sent from Dr. Seuss himself to remind me that moving on is a good thing. 

Either way it made me smile. 
And that, indeed, is good for taking care of my heart.

Day 204: barges, i would like to sail with you

23 Jul

Last night we snapped this photo from the rocks of Menemsha. 
As the sun set on the ocean this old Girl Scout camp fire song played through my head:

Out of my window looking through the night
I can see the barges’ flickering light
Silently flows the river to the sea
And the barges they go silently…

Barges I would like to go with you
I would like to sail the ocean blue
Barges have you treasure in your hold
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold

We were celebrating more than the sun setting on a beautiful Vineyard night; we were also toasting the good news of Justin’s cousin who just found out he will have an interview with Harvard.

After the sun’s final curtain came down and the applause ended we finished our celebratory champagne and walked to one of the little seafood shacks to grab some dinner.

Inside the little seafood store where live lobsters pile on top of each other waiting for their ultimate sale, including Lobsterzilla (the largest living lobster I have ever seen) were t-shirts, mugs, magnets, what have you, emblazoned with logos, Vineyard mementos and other items to buy showing proof you have indeed been there, done that.

I looked over the merchandise as I waited for our seafood dinner.
It would be fun to have a pink little t-shirt to remember Lobsterzilla.  It would be cool to have a koozie with a printed Vineyard map within hands reach.  It would be fabulous to take home the Vineyard refrigerator magnets and to sport a little hemp tied bracelet too.  All to commemorate a beautiful night.

As I looked over all the merchandise it occurred to me that I already had treasures in my hold.

And my treasures I will happily keep:
One melodic campfire song running through my head, a photo series of ships at sea and a “kodak” moment capturing the glee of someone’s dream as he popped the cork on a bottle of champagne.

They will all gather in my mind to mark the day the sun set on Menemsha, we toasted family, and good news, and future plans.

While I didn’t buy a souvenir I took home memories that I will treasure just the same. Maybe more.

Out of my window looking through the night
I can see the barges’ flickering light
Starboard shines green and port is glowing red
You can see them flickering far ahead

Barges I would like to go with you
I would like to sail the ocean blue
Barges have you treasure in your hold
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold

Day 203: f*ing friday :: fear

22 Jul

Today continues the weekly series, F*ing Fridays, which will coincidentally occur on Friday. I mentioned some of my favorite F words back on Day 5, including: Fearless, Fabulous, Fine, Fun, Faith, Freedom, Forgiveness, to name a Few.

Last week I dove into the word Float.

Today’s F*ing Friday is dedicated to the word:

As in, what are you afraid of?

This one is easy for me. I think you already know the answer.
Spiders. Little, tiny, or big and enormous, doesn’t matter.

It’s spiders.

On this F*ing Hot 90 Degree Friday I decided to go outside and sit in the shade with my Kindle in hand.  I was over at Debbie’s house and we just finished our final test run of a new video telecast system when I decided to take a little break and soak in some of this hot, hot, summer day (because if there’s one thing I’m not afraid of it’s a hot summer day).

As I snuggled into a seat on Debbie’s back deck I opened up my Kindle and immediately spotted gray matter moving on my shorts.  And when I say gray matter I mean a 6-legged gray colored spider crawling on my upper right leg, next to my hip bone.

Large. Spider. Crawling. On. Me.

I sprang to my feet and immediately began hitting myself with my Kindle.  The spider didn’t move.  I panicked.  I jumped up and down.  That f*ing spider didn’t budge.  My Kindle wasn’t working in this enormous task and I certainly wasn’t going to touch a spider with my BARE FINGERS.

I was at a complete loss and in a full-on tizzy when I finally stopped jumping and took an entire three seconds to breathe, wind up and deliver one final swing with my Kindle.  I watched in slow-motion as the spider finally lost its grip and fell to the deck.

And that’s when I saw it.
The look on Debbie’s face from inside the house.  It was then that I realized I had just unknowingly displayed my most horrific spider dance of all time right in front of the living room windows.

A little bit shaking, and a little bit embarrassed, I left the deck and entered the house to Debbie’s warm embrace.  “Are you okay” she asked looking both shocked and concerned and protective all at once.

I gave her my most pitiful and embarrassed looked and mouthed the word: SPIDER.

As I described the failed attempts from my swinging Kindle to rid the pesky creature from my shorts (just a mere thread away from touching my bare abdominal skin) I realized the utter ridiculousness of the situation.

Here I am almost 6 feet tall.  Jumping.  Screaming.  Wailing.  Fearful of six little legs of a tiny creature.  Yes, I am, the living, breathing, walking definition of the word phobia.

Fear may be irrational, but it is very real.  In my head it is very real.

As Debbie consoled me she pointed out that even Wilbur, her big white cat, was spooked by my spider dance out on the deck, meowing and calling out to her in fear.

I know, you’re thinking the same thing I am…
That Wilbur, what a scaredy cat!

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