Friday, November 30, 2012

Thank You

As November, the month of giving thanks, comes to a close, I thought that I would follow suit of others and share what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my husband; for the love, happiness, laughter, confidence, and security he brings me every day. I am thankful for having a healthy marriage built upon principles of openness and trust.
I am thankful for my parents, who, though no longer a unit, functioned as one long enough to provide me with a healthy, supportive, and loving home. I am thankful for my father, for teaching me the values of patience, kindness, and acceptance. I am thankful for his pure work ethic and, though it seemed doubtful, how it transferred over to me. I am thankful for his love of music and for bringing it into my life. I am thankful for my mother, for her unconditional love and constant support. I am thankful to her for providing me with the creativity that I so often use as an outlet. 
I am thankful for my sister Annie, for the peace and gentle kindness that she brings into the lives of others. I am thankful for the example she sets in life, marriage, and motherhood. Oh, and for her wonderful baby making skills too. I am thankful for my brother-in-law Frank, for his devotion to to his wife and children and his ready friendship to our family, especially my father. I am thankful for my beautiful nieces and nephew who amaze me every day with their intelligence and humor. I am thankful for their open arms and love every time we meet.
I am thankful for my sister Lizzie. I am thankful for her kindness, her selflessness, her beauty, her perseverance through pain, her always-ready-to-help attitude. I am thankful that she has set such a wonderful example to live by, for I have followed it so closely. I am thankful for Kevin, my brother-in-law to be, and his good heart. I am thankful for his joy and eagerness to please and for his wonderful treatment of my sister.
I am thankful for my in-laws, who took me in as their own the very first day that we met. I am thankful to call them family. I am also thankful that I found a second family who enjoys eating as much as I do. I am thankful for my husband's brothers, who, begrudgingly at first or not, have accepted me as a sister. I am thankful for my third sister Jacque, who provides a non-judgmental ear for listening to all of my woes. I am thankful that we have become so close.
I am thankful for my extended family, stretched across states and oceans and countries. I am thankful to have a family so large, to have that many more people who understand one another only as family members can.
I am thankful for my life-long friend Allie, who brings laughter wherever she goes. I am thankful for our loving and always honest friendship.
I am thankful for the close friendships I developed in middle and high school—Amelia, Kali, Lauren, Allie, Kristina, Kami, Megan—and our instant reconnection when we come together after sometimes years of being apart. Your friendship has delivered me from rough spots time and time again. You all shaped me so much into what I am today and still inspire me as time goes on.
I am thankful for my cousin Shannon, for our familial bond that fostered our friendship. I am thankful for her honest view on life and her honest way of sharing it. I am thankful that she dragged me to Michigan State for college.
I am thankful for the friendships that I developed while at Michigan State University. I am thankful for Sara, for her smile and good looks, as we wouldn’t have picked her as a friend without the two J. I am thankful for her constant friendship. I am thankful for her strength and class and ability to meet all challenges that come her way. I am thankful for Allison and her family, for the generosity and the laughter that they share. I am thankful for their role as a second and third family to my husband and myself. I am thankful for Abby, who is also another child of Allison’s extended family. I am thankful for her sweetness. I am thankful for Emma and her pure kindness. It is rare and refreshing to meet a girl without a mean bone in her body. Especially when that body is so beautiful, inside and out. I am thankful for her presence in my life. I am thankful for Nicki and her strength that I have so often leaned upon. I am thankful that, even though separated by hundreds of miles, these friendships still persist.
I am thankful for the boys who had no choice but to let me into their inner circle when I started dating Garrett. I am thankful for being submerged in this world of boy, a world that I had never experienced so thoroughly before. I am thankful for all that I learned.
I am thankful for the Clarks and Kristine. I am thankful for Teagan’s instant friendship after I entered her world with Garrett’s family, a world that existed long before I came.
I am thankful for Evan, a friend with whom I never share a dull moment.
I am thankful for my uncles Bubby and Kurt, who bring happiness, fun, and positive energy wherever they go.

I am thankful for my Arizona family. It’s nice to have made such wonderful friends in a place so far away from everyone else. I am thankful for Susie, who always says yes to everything and always has a positive attitude. I’ve never had a friend like that before. I am thankful for Emily and her mean skills in the kitchen. I am thankful for John and Scott, whose friendships came so easily. I am thankful for Remy, another female friend who doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. I am thankful for our get-togethers, our board game nights, our close friendships.

I am thankful for Thomas, a friend that Garrett and I wish we had with us at all times. I am thankful for his love, laughter, and tolerance of my mother :).
I am thankful for Mollie, whom often times feels more like a sibling or a child than a dog. I am thankful for her floppy ears and sloppy tongue that hang over my face every time I cry, and for experiencing the unconditional love of a pet.

I am thankful for my coworkers and volunteers. I am thankful for the many recipes shared amongst us and the funny stories that can only result from working with animals. I am thankful for having a reliable team of volunteers; I have never known such a hardworking group.

I am thankful for my good health. I am thankful to have a roof over my head, a kitchen to cook in, bed to sleep in, clothes to dress in, water to bathe in. I am thankful that I have never experienced true, devastating hunger (although I'm sure my belly would refute this at times). I am thankful that, though I have struggled emotionally, I have not known utter the utter destruction and fear that so many others go through every day. I am thankful to be living in a safe environment. I am thankful to be living in a place where the sun is always shining. I am thankful to be employed in a field that I love. I am thankful to be working with animals and so happy to have horses back in my life. I am thankful for all that I am learning, from humans and animals alike. I am thankful to have days filled with laughter. I am thankful to be emotionally sound (most of the time) and appreciative of my life.
I am thankful for life.
I have been blessed with good fortune time and time again in more ways than I can name. I am thankful for all of this. But mostly, I am thankful for all of you.

Thursday, November 22, 2012



Movember by laginge featuring denim skinny jeans

Since we women can't grow moustaches (well, not admittedly), we can support our men in their quest to raise prostate cancer awareness through Movember by donning cute moustache-themed items. Enjoy!

Mink Pink polka dot top
$105 -

Pieces velvet top
$38 -

Pieces velvet top
$38 -

Paige Denim denim skinny jeans

Ted baker
$125 -

J Crew j crew

Leather flat
$105 -

Chain link necklace
$29 -

$29 -

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Dog the Breedist

My dog Mollie is a bitch. I’m not talking gender, but disposition. She’s like someone bottled up a 65-year-old Manhattan socialite’s sass and poured it into a four-legged, 75 pound canine frame. I love it.

It all started when she was a puppy. Mollie was your typical happy-go-lucky Labrador pup, full of naps and hunger and poop. And then she started teething, and it was like living with a piranha. My hands were scratched up and chewed for months. She was mean. Luckily, her meanness eventually subsided, and she became a good dog. But now she’s old and she has reverted to just not giving a big fat fuck.

She’ll stare you down with such intensity that you have no other choice but to let her lick your dinner plate. She’ll leap out of bed when you try to cuddle her too closely. She’ll look back at you intently when you call her to come, as if to say, “I understand you, but I just don’t care,” and then turn the other way. She’ll cry at night and hide her head under the bed skirt until you turn off all of the lights; she likes it dark, of course. She’ll only respond to the command “down”when you have a piece of food in your hand. She’ll groan and toss a leg over her eye when you try to wake her up in the morning. She’ll lie outside of the bedroom as you have intimate time with your husband and glare at you with contempt when you open the door. She’ll swim circles around a tennis ball fetched into the water to signify she’s done with the game and then never bring it to shore (the Atlantic Ocean is now home to 90% of Mollie’s tennis balls). She’ll play with a new toy for 5 minutes before sighing heavily and leaving it alone. She’ll walk away 3 feet when you tell her to “go away” while begging, turn, and walk back 4 feet closer. She’ll cry for hours until you play with her, and then walk away from you after 3 minutes of interaction.

I love all of these things about Mollie. Her pizzazz amuses me, makes me laugh. She gives me inspiration, this old lady I live with. You see, I am not innately a bitch; sometimes, yes, I take cues on how to be mean from my dog.

What I don’t love, though, are her breedist tendencies.

Yes, you heard me right. Breedist. A breedist is one who harbors prejudices concerning the breed of animals. Mollie is a breedist.

Mollie’s breedism is geared toward poodles and black dogs. I kid you not. I have no idea where this rooted from. She was kicked out of doggie daycare because she picked a fight with a sweet, docile poodle at random. She’s only ever snapped at dogs with black coats. Don’t even get me started on what happens when we come across a black poodle.

Her breedism has created quite the dilemma. I am not racist; I am the adult product of a child that was raised in a very open-minded family in a very tolerant community. Judging others by the tone of their skin or the basis of their beliefs is not my thing. I wish I could say the same for Mollie, though. To say the least, having a four-legged child with breedist habits is not something I ever prepared for.

How are you supposed to explain to the owner of a black pit bull that you crossed the street because of the color of the dog’s fur opposed to its breed orientation? And would that sound any better?

“No man, I don’t have anything against pit bulls. I think they’re great. My dog just doesn’t like black dogs.”

My dog just doesn’t like black dogs. My dog just doesn’t like black dogs? Ah! Now I sound like the racist!

It isn’t a subject that’s easily broached. There is no good explanation, or at least none that I’ve come to find as of yet. Unfortunately, the word breedist isn’t in the vocabulary of many. I can’t easily say, “Sorry, breedist here,” and have someone else understand. So please, if you see me out there walking a slightly tubby, small-headed yellow Labrador, and I cross the street, it isn’t you. It’s her. Please don’t be offended.

Unfortunately, Mollie’s breedism only gets worse with age. I guess it’s just a part of the old lady package, and I’ll have to take what I can get. Her breedism is too far gone to counteract, but it may not be for the other breedists out there. If your dog is young and showing signs of breedism, act now, before it gets too late. Join me in stopping breedism, one dog at a time. The world will be a better place without it.

As for Mollie, she’s a lost cause. We can all do our best to try and stop breedism, but sometimes, we just have to love our dogs as they come, breedist tendencies and all.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Free Hugs

Garrett and I recently discovered a wonderful farmers market nestled behind a quaint French restaurant just minutes away. I've taken to meeting him there after finishing my Saturday lessons at the barn; I, my hair astray and Ariat boots covered in manure, meet my beautiful husband, hair perfectly coiffed and Allen Edmonds loafers shined to a T. We come together, our different worlds joining, to enjoy something we both love mutually.
It's a tiny farmers market, but plentiful. Bushels of fresh vegetables and tables of handmade soaps, jams, and honeys line the sidewalk. Vendors offer the most delicious lunches: savory crepes, Panini sandwiches, pizzas, etc., all cooked to order right in front of your eyes. A local bakery has a stand that offers perfect coconut macaroons and raspberry muffins, both of which I've made a weekly habit of buying and bringing home.

It isn't just about the abundance of amazing local produce, though; it's also about the atmosphere. The stucco buildings with terracotta rooftops and earthen-red walkways place me somewhere that feels far off, perhaps a tiny Tuscan village or a quaint Provencal town. It doesn't matter which, it only matters that for about 60 minutes on a Saturday afternoon, I'm delivered from my life in the desert.

So, I think that you get that I love the farmers market. It's peaceful, plentiful, and delicious. It's a nice escape for Garrett and me, a gathering of things we love so well. Nothing disturbs the peace of our farmers market. Except...

Yesterday, there were women walking around with signs reading "free hugs". Hippies, I instantly thought to myself. What are you guys doing here? Why? This is weird. Don't make my farmers market weird. That seemed to be the general initial response to these "free hugs" sign-bearing women. There were three of them, and they looked like pretty regular women; middle-aged, not attractive but not unattractive, ordinary. Except that they were smiling and offering to hug everybody. People were taken aback, and at first nobody wanted a free hug.

But then something happened: the mood changed. People started taking advantage of their free hugs. Yes, there were those who politely declined (my favorite came from a young ASU student with short shorts and a high pony tail that sneered she didn't like to be touched by strangers), but for the most part, people accepted.

I watched the people who so readily accepted this rare affection from these unknown women, and they were all happy. That's nice, I though. But then the women started getting closer. I had nowhere to hide; Garrett and I were waiting for his crepe to finish cooking. I started sweating. I really didn't want a free hug. I get free hugs from Garrett all the time. Really, I do like hugging. I probably average on 5 hugs a day. But not from strangers. What to do here, what to do? I didn't want to be like the snotty ASU student. I wanted to seem open to this free love, even though it was freaking me out on the inside. She got closer.

"Free hug?" she offered with a smile.

"Okay," I said nervously. And I went in for the hug, half-heartedly. I went in with a stiff, angular approach. Hug the woman, look friendly, get out of it; that was my plan. But she held on for a few seconds too long. I went from stiff mode to awkward mode to giving in mode. She was really soft, and her arms around me felt nice. Her boobs were kind of big and low and rested on my stomach, just like my mom's do (is that weird to admit?). She squeezed a little longer and then she let out a relieved sigh. I was comforted.

"Thank you," she said, and moved on to Garrett. He, of course, went in with full intention of a good hug. I looked at their hug longingly. I wanted her to hug me again!

"You give great hugs!" Garrett exclaimed after her.

"Your hugs aren't too shabby either," she replied. I could tell that part of her wanted to hug him again (he gives really good hugs), but she moved on. She had to deliver more free hugs.

We returned to our waiting in line, a little more relaxed, a little more comforted.

When we left the farmers market yesterday, I had my usual gooey macaroon and raspberry muffin in tow. The trip and my bounty are usually enough to satisfy me, and will be next week, but I got a little extra this time. I got a little bit of comfort that came from opening myself up and allowing myself to receive a free hug from a complete stranger. Who would've thought?