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Well Being

Follow That Arrow: Notes on Getting Here from There Book Review

February 21, 2017

How many of us follow any arrows even when the signs are so obvious? I know sometimes I don’t.

I had some time today, so I decided to get my thoughts that have been swirling in my mind about this book out. Months, which might as well be decades ago, a good friend asked me if I would be interested in reading her good friend’s book. I said sure and read it the second I received it. Now, a million years later, I’m finally getting around to sharing this book with you.


Title: Follow That Arrow: Notes on Getting Here from There
Author: Gwen Van Velsor

Initial Thoughts:

This was a really easy, smooth read. It didn’t leave my wondering what she meant nor did it leave me feeling frustrated. Yet, it’s been keeping me thinking about it months later after my initial read.

Nothing about the writing was complicated especially given a very complicated topic about life and how love can die in a blink of an eye. The author’s husband left without any warning and left her life in what I assume to be an emotionally painful upheaval. The guy didn’t know why he did it, he just did.

I honestly wanted to know why he left and was hoping she’d divulge in this mystery by the end of the book. I also was waiting for Gwen to bash this guy to pieces which she never, ever did! What even!!! She barely expressed any anger, not even an ounce of passive aggressive anger. I could sense she was shocked and sad, but not the kind of sadness that kept her in bed unable to function at all for months on end.

To be honest, I kept reading because I wanted to know like the dirty little secrets about Gwen’s marriage that she never really talked about. DARN IT! This part kind of irked me but it was the immature, nosy bastard inside of me who wanted to know what she wouldn’t tell me. I then felt horrible about it because why would I want her to share this painful part of her with her readers? A dissolution of marriage is so private and painful and I felt glad that she never spoke about her husband again after the initial mentioning of him.

Thoughts After Reading:

I felt like I had read a version of “Eat, Love, Pray” and even though I never really read “Eat, Love, Pray”, I’ve heard enough about it to make that comparison.

My first reaction was: OK, that’s great.
My second reaction was to talk about it with my husband.
My third reaction was: I’m not sure what to really think about this!!!

It was well written. Easy to read. I felt like I was traveling with her on her journey. She did a lot of walking by the way. She also met what I presume to be a really hot young man who was in love with her and wanted to whisk her away into the most romantic life ever. God, I really wanted her to be with this young man!!!!!

I was also slightly disappointed that she didn’t go “wild” in her “love” part like the “Eat, Love, Pray” lady did. I almost felt like if my husband were to up and leave me like that, being that he’s the only man I’ve ever been with, I might as well. (Ok, I’m joking mom, I’ll just become a nun).

Anyway, I felt happy for Gwen that she found what she needed which was mainly healing and herself. She went about it in a great way which was to hike a million miles and she made some great friends along the way. I’m glad she didn’t plunge into despair and a feeling of never being able to be herself. I felt proud that she was able to keep living and that her self-worth and self-identity weren’t so intertwined and DEFINED by her husband!

Months Later:

I am thinking this book had a bigger effect on me that I initially thought because I’m still thinking about it months later.

There are some poignant lessons to be learned from Gwen. The lady’s husband left her suddenly without any rhyme or reason! This is brutal and horrible and mean. But, the way Gwen handled this situation is what grace looks like. She didn’t burn his belongings, she didn’t poison him, and she didn’t even speak poorly of him! She was angry and sad but turned these emotions to find the better version of herself and I honestly don’t know many people who could do this in this kind of situation. People get hurt all the time and our first reaction is to hurt that person back. Maybe she suppressed it but I know some of those feelings came out when she was on her million mile walk.

She never lashed out at anyone. She didn’t treat her hot, young lover poorly because of what happened in her marriage. She just seemed to be always mindful, polite, kind, and graceful and that seriously blows my mind. Her emotional control was spectacular and she never let on that she fell apart into one big mess even if she was one big mess inside.

I don’t know Gwen, but I know her friend Marie and friends of a feather flock together. I assume Gwen is like Marie and without meeting either of them, I can almost sense they have a good soul. When shit hits the fan, the way you handle the situation speaks to what kind of person you are. Do you want to stab everyone in the face for your problems or do you try to work through it like a mature adult?

I also thought to myself, “If I was having a hard time, would I want to talk to Gwen about it?” I think yes, totally. She has this kind of gentle wisdom and perspective that isn’t violent, brutal, judgmental, or superior to you kind of attitude. I felt like Gwen was easy to relate to even if you haven’t been in her situation. But, if you are in the process of rediscovering yourself, I feel like she’s the person who can talk you through it.

Final Verdict:

My initial thoughts were not all too exciting. But, my final thoughts took so long to formulate because I think I needed to read beyond the words. Whoa, not trying to get all weirdly fourth dimension, but there was definitely something to be seen past what she wrote.

I think Gwen is like a warm cup of tea. If you are going through some personal things where you need reassurance that things will be ok on the other side, this book will really help you see that. If you need inspiration on how to find yourself and love yourself again, especially if you’re not into making all the love to all the men all over the globe, Gwen will help inspire you.

I still think that she’s incredible for really keeping the dignity of what was marriage once was. We are easily too quick to get mad at our spouses and when we do head for divorce, things can get ugly real quick. I think Gwen showed us that even if a marriage fails, there was a reason why we fell in love and got married in the first place. We should uphold that moment and give it the respect it deserves even if things changed.

Definitely worth the read and I’m confident it will get you thinking twice or three times about it over the next few months!


If you’re interested in reading this book, you can check it out here on Amazon!

Well Being

Coping with Death

November 16, 2016

Coping with death, what a way to get this off to on right foot. This is probably going to be my most morbid post but I’ll tell ya, it felt good to get it all out. The tricky thing with death is that we all know it’s going to happen, but we don’t know when. Then, the major test of life seems to be how we cope with it.

The sad thing about life is that the older we get, the more death we experience. Sometimes, it gets to you and other times, it’s just an event in someone else’s life where you feel bad for them. When it gets to you, it’s a whole different story. The last few years, it’s been death after death, mostly resulting from cancer and NOT from old age. Peers my age are losing the battle and it leaves you reeling because you always think that could’ve been me.

I wrote a piece for our editorial ( that is deeply personal to me. I always think there’s a fine line between being personable and personal. I do not like to get personal. Letting people in is a great thing if that person treats your life with respect and care. But, sometimes letting people in can be a bad life decision that you don’t see until years later. I guess I wrote this more for me and I hope that somewhere along the way, it can help someone who’s been through it.

This was published in October which arguably is the toughest month of the year for me. Sometimes, I’m able to keep it together and other times, I’m stuck the entire month and it just feels like life is keeping me in the mud. In psychology, we study the stages of grief and textbooks make it seem so linear. You move from one stage then you go to the next. In real life, it’s not like that because you can make one stride forward today and then tomorrow, you are back to square one.

What I’ve learned is that life doesn’t ever stop because you want it to stop. This can feel like no one cares and that no one is sensitive to your feelings. Sure, in some aspects that’s probably very true. But, if we are to think positively about anything, especially about sudden death, it’s that the world keeps going in order to help you keep going.

If you want to see an abbreviated version of how I tried to deal with sudden death, click on that emo picture below and let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear how you coped with a hard time in your life.

Well Being

Tales from the Emergency Room

August 9, 2016

Tales from the Emergency Room – Viewer’s Discretion Advised: Not written to insult the seriousness of hospital visits. Not written for sympathy votes either. Written as a way to practice some healthy coping mechanisms in the face of a stressful event, i.e. positive interpretation, humor, active coping. If you think I made up these terms, please refer to the Google- they are scientific psychological terms. Also, ramblings, thus snuggle in and get comfy.

It’s not until you’re in the face of child-birth-like pains without actually birthing anything that you realize you spend an exorbitant amount of time during your healthy-pain-free hours worrying about a lot of dumb things. It’s only when you are on the brink of not being sure what’s up from down that you are strong enough to cut out everything nonsensical from your brain and heart. In that moment, you are able to see clearly what matters. the. most.

It’s not the “let me go reconnect with myself” kind of feeling. These moments are meant for the beach or a walk in the woods where you go think about life and all its goodness.

It’s more of a non-dramatic “am I going to lose an organ because I held my pee? They will have to cut it out, right? Oh god. I need to text some people, some things.” It’s a moment that feels like you are at the end of the line here and suddenly, you see everything you want at the finish line. No noise. No clutter. Just clarity.

I don’t like to use the word inspire because there is too much heart-swelling feels and not many things really deserve that feeling attached to it. Also, what the heck kind of inspiration is the ER? But yep, the ER made me want to write about the meaning of life. I’ll tell ya that once one starts peeing blood clots, the whole idea of treating it as naturally as possible goes out the window real fast. Then, you know you survived a good thing when your good friend laughs at you and jokes about “pee blood” any chance she can get.

Let’s unfold the process a bit below.


Stage 1: At Home Hoping Things Will Just Be OK
*Hmm, I’ll just drink lots of water, it’ll be fine.
*I need cranberry, that works well, right?
*I’ve peed like 29 times in 32 minutes now, is this right?
*Who’s a Doctor? Who can I call? It’s 11pm, only Safeway is open.
*OH, be brave, just keep peeing, it’ll get better.
*Great, now my stomach hurts. I’m dying.

Stage 2: Googling EVERYTHING
*Starts to google symptoms. WebMD tells me I have effing bladder cancer. OMG. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?
*Gets off WebMD and searches :Natural cures for bloody pee. Cranberry, ginger, rest, sleep, pray.
*I am so scared to pee. Now it’s really bloody.
*Anyone, who can I talk to through this? It’s too late, no one’s awake, no one cares!!!
*OMG, that’s a lot of blood. I don’t think cranberry juice is actually even helping.
*What. Even. Who did voodoo on me?!?!

Stage 3: Thinking About Going To The ER
*Wow, maybe I should just go. It’s 1am, maybe I can make it to 8am and then go to urgent care.
*Where’s my insurance card…where’s my wallet?
*Man it’s really, really bloody. I can’t.

Stage 4: Goes to ER
*Maybe I should have called 911 for an ambulance ride. Maybe my 4 yo could have driven me. But, ok let’s man up for a second!
*OMG, Why can’t I park in front? Why are there so many handicap signs?! Do I qualify to park here if I have pee blood?
*Note to self: write hospital to install more parking spots in FRONT of ER. Do not add !@$%^ to letter.

Stage 5: The Wait at the ER
*Oh yay, I got in right away.
*I’ve been lied to… I have to wait outside.
*1 hour’s gone by and I’ve gone to the restroom 829 times.
*I’m going to die, who should I start texting?

*What a jerk, you are not dying, this is curable. You shouldn’t be using the words dying so lightly. Death happens here. Oh man, but is that where I am going?
*Nicely words a complaint to the receptionist and says “I know that person on drugs is having a brain event, but I didn’t do drugs and I just birthed a clot, from my pee hole. Pain level 8/10, I may pass out and I am here alone. Could I possibly get help?”
*Shamefully sits down because the receptionist basically gave me side eye and she holds my life in her hands. Thanks, lady.

Jokes aside…. in these moments…which I sincerely hope you never, ever have to experience…. there are some pivotal, life changing thoughts that could possibly go through your mind.

1. My Family: Man, they are going to be so pissed I might go this way. I’ll call them last so I can gather my thoughts.

2. My Friends: They, too, will be so pissed. We have a pact that basically they can’t leave this earth before me because I refuse to go to their funeral and none of this dust to ashes sprinkling in the sea crap. Why are you, such good people? I hate you. Thank you for listening to all my nonsense. Also, seriously, delete everything, you know nothing after this. You know who you are. I hope one of you goes to the podium and has one nice thing to say about me..if not just make something up, I won’t come back to haunt you.

3. Are eyebrows really that important?? Like, it’s not a big deal but I pretty much wish I had filled them in a bit. Judge me.

4. Seriously serious note: How one takes for granted all the bodily functions until it goes haywire. How one takes for granted the notion of being healthy until we fall sick. How one takes for granted all the important things but agonizes over so many frivolous things that actually make us sick. How soon will I take for granted such things after the antibiotics kick in? Hopefully, that doesn’t happen and that I appreciate the basic functions of the human body until I go to my grave.

And, did I live a good life and accomplish things? Did I tell everyone I am grateful for “thank you”? Who was the last person I said thank you to? The last person I said I love you to? The last person I gave the evil eye to? Did I pay my credit card bill- oh wait, bills don’t matter once you’re gone. Phew, good bye student loans!!! BWHAHAHAHA! Well, what a way to get rid of student loans. I wish I got to work for Bill Gates or Boeing. I wish I ran one more marathon. I wish I drank more coffee but wait, unless that gave me the pee blood…then WORTH IT! I wish I wasn’t such a huge butt face to my family. I wish I tried to get that 6 the kind on your belly. I wish I didn’t waste time and I wish I didn’t let people waste my time. I wish I did more with my time.

But, thank science and modern medicine for all the drugs that help people. Yes, we all love the natural way of doing things and living but dudes, I have 4 words for you: CLOTS FROM PEE HOLE. I almost think you will want to embrace antibiotics and that drug I can’t even pronounce that turned my pee bright orange, too. *Tight hugs, you drugs*

So, at this point, my only regret is not drinking more water and holding my pee. Really. So dumb. And, since I had that moment of clarity, I’m not going to let it go ever again. I hope you guys have moments of clarity and stick with them. I also hope you don’t have to experience this kind of trauma in order to get that clarity.

Conclusion: Pee often & drink your weight in water!


Interview with World Traveler Jonathan Spinner

May 26, 2016
Small cafe in Cuenca, Ecuador. Photo belongs to Jonathan Spinner.

Small cafe in Cuenca, Ecuador. Photo belongs to Jonathan Spinner.

Obviously, not makeup or beauty or coffee, but it’s related to coffee. This poor guy was one of my first followers, he thought I was all about a coffee. Then, he soon found out I also like makeup, dogs, and gardening and is still a loyal follower present day.

He has nothing to do with makeup or gardening, but he is a fellow coffee lover. His photographs are stellar and nothing short of NatGeo worthy. I recently sent him a message saying, “Hey, thanks for still supporting MB and I’m sorry you are forced to like my makeup pictures.” His response was “I enjoy supporting anyone who is passionate about whatever they are passionate about.”

I started asking him about his traveling and HOW exactly he makes coffee when I’m assuming he doesn’t have a stove or filtered Brita water. One day he tells me that he barfed all over the streets of Spain. He basically got food poisoning and went on about how food sanitation is something to be treasured in America. Being mature and all, I asked him the following day how his runs were. Something about poop conversations is how some of the nicest friendships begin.

I decided to ask him if he’d be willing to do a travel interview. This isn’t like how I travel with all my skin care and makeup in two separate, large parcels. Or, a nice comfy ride to the airport in an air-conditioned SUV. This definitely isn’t like sitting in a scary place bracing for turbulence at which point you text everyone you love your last words and then feel stupid when you land safely. Yes, I hate flying and turbulence. Jonathan’s travels are dangerous, fun, exciting, and painfully efficient in the staples he can bring with him. No healing mask or ph 5.5 face wash over here.

Let’s see what Survivor World Traveler, Jonathan Spinner, has to say! Follow him here if you want to see more great pics @photosbyjonathan

Petra, Jordan. Photo belongs to Jonathan Spinner.

Petra, Jordan. Photo belongs to Jonathan Spinner.

1. What made you decide you wanted to travel the world? Was there a specific event that piqued your interest?
In college Jeff Johnson and Chris Malloy came on our campus to screen their new film 180° South: Conquerors of the Useless. The film planted the seed of adventure in my head. I wanted to go on trips and I wanted to experience things that not everyone could. That was in 2010 and then a couple years later I was on a train from Zurich to Zermatt in the mountains of Switzerland. My family was supposed to be with me but their flight got delayed so I was by myself, stressed I wouldn’t find them. Across from me on the train were two Germans deciding where to go next. They were drinking a bunch of beers as Germans do. Something about them was so genuine and free. I was on a 10-day vacation, knew exactly where I was going, and felt so limited. These guys had no idea where they’d sleep that night or even where they were going and couldn’t have cared less. I decided right then that I needed to do a big trip and experience the world.

Obsessed with Coffee. Photo belongs to Jonathan Spinner.

Obsessed with Coffee. Photo belongs to Jonathan Spinner.

2. If someone wanted to travel like you, what would they need to bring with them?
My favorite things to do while I travel are to get off the beaten path, take photos, drink coffee, and run. Everything I have is focused around that. I have been traveling with a 50 liter Osprey Pack. Maybe you can affiliate link that? Haha I’m kidding. I started the trip with enough shirts, socks, and boxers for a week. I’m down to like 4 shirts and 3 pairs of socks. The boxers have all survived! I have different stuff sacks to keep everything organized; one for shirts and shorts, one for socks and boxers, and one for dirty stuff. This has saved me a lot of frustration packing up. I have a stuff sack full of coffee stuff: Aeropress, Porlex Mini grinder, small scale… Yeah, it’s out of control; lot’s of questions in hostels and out in the wilderness. A couple things I wouldn’t want to be without: a UV water filter (I have used it a ton), Kindle (hard to find books in English), phone, sleeping bag liner, and a nice family who will take things back home when I’m done with the camping leg of the trip. Thanks, Mom!

Machu Picchu, Top of the World. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

Machu Picchu, Top of the World. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

3. What was your best trip and why? What did you learn?
So far on this year long journey my best trip has been Machu Picchu. I was concerned it wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype or that I’d feel like a sheep in the herd. When everyone says how amazing something is you never know. Not the case in Peru! I did a four-day trek, much less popular than the famous Inca Trail, but didn’t require a guide. It’s called the Salkantay Trek if you want to look into it. I didn’t think I could feel so off the beaten path to one of the most popular destinations in the world. I only saw a handful of people the whole trek. The people I did meet though were amazing individuals. I got to sit down and drink coffee with the farmer who picked the actual beans I was tasting, got life advice from a six-year-old, and learned about quinoa and chia seeds from her dad. Reaching Machu Picchu was only one small part of the experience. I learned for me the process is just as important as the outcome and it’s so much more rewarding for me to do something on my own.

4. What was your worst trip and why would you never go back?
My least favorite place was probably El Salvador. It was the only part of the trip where I have felt unsafe. We’d be walking down the street in San Salvador and everyone would stop what they were doing to watch. As rough as it was, I did meet an amazing old woman making pupusas. She wouldn’t let me pay her for the food. It was a gift and that was that. I felt really touched.

Real friends make travel amazing.

Real friends make travel amazing.

5. What moment in time during travel did you feel happiest? Conversely, what was a sad moment?
One of my happiest moments came in Pucón, Chile. I was with two Americans who came into my life 100% by faith. I met Steve in a cafe in Santiago. I started talking to him because he was repping my university on his shirt. After talking for 15 minutes he decided he needed to come with me to Patagonia to run a 70km ultra marathon two days later. Who was I to tell him people usually train for those sort of things? In Pucón we met up with a girl named Christina who someone I knew had met on a bus in Europe the winter before. The three of us clicked instantly and all finished this 70km race. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. I was so proud of us for just doing it. There is no perfect time to try something so why not today? I then ran into each of them independently at the bus station in Argentina a couple days apart.

Journaling in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

Journaling in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

Saddest moment was definitely coming back to society (and to a mountain of Facebook posts about Thanksgiving) after a couple weeks on a coffee farm in Nicaragua. It forced me to look at what I was giving up to travel. Why am I here on a coffee farm, in the rain, with no hot water, speaking a language I struggle with when I could be home eating turkey in a heated house? I came out a better person and was realized exactly why I was traveling and who I wanted to travel with.

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

6. Since we are always talking about how different people are and while some of these differences are highlighted through beauty and physical appearances, how are people in different parts of the world similar in views, morals, and heart?
This is such a hard question. Two things I noticed throughout my travels: food and family are so important. In developing countries people spend a significant amount of time and effort on these two categories. Much more so than Americans, I think. Makes you wonder what’s truly important you know?

Shooting sunrise, Easter Island. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

Shooting sunrise, Easter Island. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

7. Why do you love photography?
I took a few black and white courses and fell in love with the darkroom. The excitement of waiting while the chemicals created a physical interpretation of what you saw through the viewfinder. Now I shoot with a digital camera but the excitement of capturing moments hasn’t faded. I really enjoy sharing what I see on my travels with friends back home and people who aren’t able to travel.

Obsessed with coffee. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

Obsessed with coffee. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

8. Describe your typical day in a new place. How do you get there? How long do you stay? Where do you stay?
There really isn’t a typical day. I am not an organized traveler! That can’t be stressed enough. If I ever travel with someone again they will need to be organized and have capacity to plan. I try to travel by bus as much as possible. There is something romantic about telling the driver, “drop me here,” and watching the bus leave in a cloud of dust as you try yo figure out where you are going. I like to stay in a place for at least two nights. I and usually stay in hostels but sometimes I spoil myself with Airbnbs.

9. You’ve mentioned the longest you’ve gone without a shower is 9 days, what did that first shower feel like?
Haha yeah after a long trip in the mountains. The first shower was very slimy. The soap couldn’t quite cut the layer of sunscreen. I think it took three or four showers to actually feel clean.

The world is a playground, Spain. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

The world is a playground, Spain. Photo property of Jonathan Spinner.

10. So you prefer to travel alone or with a partner? Do you ever feel lonely?
Well, I told myself after a summer alone in 2014 that I’d never do an extended solo trip again but I forgot that when I flew to Mexico by myself to start this adventure. But I’ve come to appreciate spending quality time with myself and I do enjoy the freedom. That’s not to say I haven’t wished I had a friend with me for an amazing sunrise or hilarious incident but to either be with someone who isn’t a good travel partner or to miss the experience altogether would be far worse. Like Kendrick says, “You ever been a victim of being a prisoner inside your own mind?” At a certain point, the suffering of being alone looks incredibly peaceful. You just have to get out and explore even if it’s not perfect. That’s what’s perfect.


Birth Day Musings: A Short Story

April 21, 2016

Victoria BC 2016

Me: A short story.

This isn’t a birth story unless you really want to read about that. Let me know. It is about mine since I have no idea what your birth day was like. I’d have to ask your mom and that’s awkward because we haven’t even had coffee yet.

Growing up, I remembered birth days being about family time and maybe some presents if I got good grades, read: Straight A’s. It never bothered me that my birth days weren’t like A-list parties that Josh Groban was going to attend. It never even bothered me that I didn’t get crazy, fancy gifts because I always felt my parents really loved me. Even as a kid, that was pretty much enough. My husband doesn’t even get me presents and even though I sorta hope for it each year, I know that he loves me kind of a lot. I guess I can almost say I’m kind of a big deal to him 300 days a year. The other 52 days are for football and other stuff more important than me.

Every birth day, I try to think about something I’ve learned, good and bad. It’s probably the most zen I get because thinking too much gives me white hairs. So if you want to read for your night cap, morning poop (I already know so don’t try to act like you don’t do this), or because you’re bored and waiting for kids to nap… come join me in my mind dump.

1. Stuff You Write in Cards to Your Parents:
Situation A. For those in the 32-40 age box, sans children, still like your parents- you write stuff like this:“Hey Mom & Dad- I love you, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I hope you enjoy your birthday/xmas/valentines/easter/monday. Call you soon.” So cute, so sweet, I’m sure parents appreciate it. You send it off, they get it, sometimes maybe even hope for a $20 bill, and go on drinking tea. You feel like a great kid, which you are by the way because card writing is basically prehistoric activity.

Situation B: For those in the 28-42 age box, with little kids, still like your parents- you write stuff like “Dear Mommy & Daddy, I am so sorry for everything I’ve ever done to make your life a living hell. I know you still love me but I understand those times you didn’t but still had to say to our neighbor that you did. I’m sorry for keeping you awake for like, 29.75 years until I got my sh*t together, and for not calling you when I was out. I am sorry for being the satan child and I hope you can forgive me. You made so many sacrifices like the kind where you left your family to come to the Land of Dreams, where you had no help. Then, had to try really, really hard to build a life for us. My sacrifices pale in comparison. You actually suffered and persevered, unlike my generation’s suffering which is more like –I can’t decide what kind of computer to get, what phone to upgrade to, and what should I post on stupid Instagram today. I am a disgrace. Why do you keep talking to me? Ugh, here’s a card and here’s some scribbles from the kids. Oh yeah, Merry Christmas.” Once you become a parent, you are so damn sorry for every sh*tty tantrum and situation you put your parents through. Then you look at them and understand why they had MORE kind of see if the next would better than the previous. Luckily, my sister is a good Dr type person helping people do stuff and my brother is really good at being a good kid. Meanwhile, me, I send many I am sorry cards and my parents are like “WTF, Stop.” OK, they don’t say WTF, but they just laugh manically and text me, “Now you know. You are welcome.”

2. My Kids Are Here to Avenge My Parents: I talked about being a professional child and nagging my dad for coffee. Well, my kids actually are like supremely professional. While my dad lasted MONTHS, I last maybe 8 hours. I can say no until 5:56pm and then I stop caring. Just go, you win, here’s your organic lollipop. I don’t even know why I get organic lollipops, does it even make a difference? I felt like an @$$ just now in saying that I get organic lollipops. Like I need to add a *neener neener my lollipops are better than yours!*. I am sorry.

Anyway, after almost 4 years of being a mom, I’m still Jon Snow, stuck in the cold north who’s about to get killed anyway by the white walkers. Anyone watch Game of Thrones? So, Jon Snow is basically this hot idiot and he dies. So, being a mom is all the feels. So much love that it makes you feel like might throw up. So much frustration that you actually do throw up. The roller coaster of mom life is one that I’m definitely honored to ride. It’s no joke and it actually in some ways, makes you a better person. Kids will break you down worse than any bully on the street or social media antics but then build you back up into a whole new, better, stronger person. Why? Because they do it out of love, not malice. Kids will make you reach deep into your soul to find that last ounce of energy to keep on keeping on and then they’ll say something like “Kate? I love you, mama”. Then, you’ll feel like you can rule the world. Kids will test your limits. They’ll test whether or not you will end up on the nightly news or fight the battle. Then, they’ll give you a half eaten banana as a olive branch and say “Well played, mama, well played.” So, I conclude they are out to avenge my parents- but it’s out of love. Only out to break me into a million pieces so that I can one day be the best version of myself. Kind of like how I broke my parents and they are the best humans on earth. *winks. Yes, right? ok, I’m still sorry*

3. Family: The family you grew up with and the family you made, they are everything. Don’t treat a stranger better than you treat your family. Seriously, no one else is going to love you and keep on loving you even though you’re a total moody jerk all the time. These are the people who well say,”Eh, just being Kate.” With strangers you have to be all pleasant all the time and sometimes you just want to punch them in the throat. Granted you have a family you like- then keep them close and write them “I’m sorry” cards frequently.

4. Actual Friends: I have like 5.5 friends. When I was younger, I had like 17. I’ve always been about quality over quantity. I’m that happy person who has 5.5 people at her birthday dinner. These 5.5 friends include my husband so that leaves 4.5. When I was a kid, I’d cry to my parents about not having any friends and they weren’t easy on me. I remember them telling me something along the lines of, “Why do you care about this person? Are they feeding you? Focus on your studies, your life goals. Are they going to give you a kidney? You are 8, you have the rest of your life for this.” Now, I’ve made friends who HELPED me focus on my life goals, achieve them, and I’m certain they’d give me a kidney should mine fail. They are the friends my parents will ask about and say,“Kate, don’t mess it up, this is a good friend.. like the kind you never had.” I’m really happy to have these 4.5 people in my world.

5. Just People: People walk through your life all the time unless you live in a cave, then it’s just squirrels and rabbits. You might meet some great ones and they get moved onto the kidney donor list. But, you’re going to meet some people who are great in their own way, but it just doesn’t work out. This is ok, too. They aren’t Satan spawn or anything unless they kill stuff. Differences either bring us together or keep us apart. It’s a natural way of life. Some may feel like that was a waste of time or even experience real betrayal. I know it’s easier said than done, but let it go because when you’re 89, they’ll be a distant memory. And if you have dementia, I say this really seriously, they’ll be a dead memory. Unless they are paying your bills, watching your kids, giving you a salary, or about to give you a kidney– let it all go. If they are going to black mail you, that’s illegal and so call the cops. Posting to social media about isn’t actually going to do anything… like actually dial 911 or contact the FBI. So, take it as a life lesson learned. If something doesn’t feel right in your gut, back away graciously, kindly. Agree to disagree. No malice, no hatred, no voodoo stuff people! Just let it go. If someone’s style isn’t making you happy, leave. If someone’s humor doesn’t ring with yours, leave. Save yourself trouble and go be with people who truly appreciate you.

You find the people who you can connect and slowly grow the friendship. Grow things at a normal, healthy pace and usually, it’ll work out. Because look at the chickens on growth hormones, yeah that’s why some of you don’t eat meat. It’s not natural. And growing human relationships on steroids is also not natural. Long tern human relationships can’t be based on fake romantics where you fall in love in 2 days and get married in 4 weeks. Haven’t we learned from celebrities that this kind of stuff doesn’t last?

Not everyone is like you nor will everyone like you. Look at God, he is like the greatest human that ever lived from what I’ve learned at mass, and not everyone likes him. And, he has super powers to make puppies and flowers! Humans are so hard to please that even the Lord can’t. So, what makes you think you need to, too? The problem with knowing more people is that you end up liking dogs so much more. The problem with shutting yourself out to people is that you miss out on the very few diamonds you find in the sea of rocks. Get past the rocks, find your diamonds, and move on.

6. Being Healthy: Being healthy is the epitome of all the gifts. Do what you can to keep this health. Whether it be something simple like give up soda or walking 10 minutes a day. Just try because once you lose this health, everything follows. Your mental health, emotional well being, and your quality of life. Baby steps, take baby steps. Look at real human beings among your peers or coworkers or someone at the grocery store who is taking baby steps. People who are actually dealing with something similar to you will always be more empathetic than someone who thinks they’ve been through something similar. Protect your health like your protect your social security cards.

7. Being Happy: Next to good health, being happy is gift not everyone has but will want to take from you. When you are happy, people who hate you hate it. When you are happy, people who love you are happy for you. Amirite? Work hard towards being happy even though it’s really not easy to achieve with every day pressures. I don’t know how quite to do this that well yet. I am trying. I do know when I am happy, it makes 4.5 people really happy. Everything around me flourishes and isn’t life about flourishing?

What makes you happy? Do that. Who makes you happy? Be with them. If you can’t avoid people, ignore and go drink coffee. Cut out everything that makes you stress or causes you grief. It doesn’t matter in the long run when you are 89 and can’t control your poops anyway. Anyone who isn’t going to be there to give you a kidney or change your diaper, let them go. Take steps to eliminate what you can and focus your heart on what brings you joy. This is actually really hard because humans try hard to please one another. We want to belong. We want to be liked. Well give no sh*ts unless it’s with someone who gives three sh*ts about you. Because hey, even the Lord can’t make everyone happy and he MAKES PUPPIES! That is all.

What are your musings? Seriously, I owe you coffee & your choice of pain medication after this read. Share with me what your wisdom in life is. Tell me what keeps you happy. Thank you.

Tulip Festival 2016


Why I love Coffee

April 4, 2016

Why I love coffee. It’s like asking why do you love your dog. It’s basically like that.


I’ve been asked, “Um, how much coffee do you drink?” or “What’s a good coffee?”. I like these types of questions, so don’t ever hesitate to ask me! The more unflattering comments are, “Are you dependent, like crack dependent?” or “I don’t drink coffee, it’s gross, but tea is better for you anyway.” *insert side eye*

Anyway, I remember so vividly my dad drinking coffee. He would dip his toast in it and I would wonder what was so good about it. So, I remember asking, then begging, then pestering as professional children do so well, for a sip. The following discussion ensued and slowly but surely, I broke the man down and he let me have some coffee.

*Everyday for 4 months in like 1987*
Me: Can I try?
Dad: This is medicine, it’s not for kids.
Me: But, I’m sick, can I try?
Dad: Ask your mom.
Me: I did already, she said ask you.
Dad: NO.
Me: WHY?
Me: But, I’m 7, I’m not a kid. I’m a big kid.
Dad: Go do your algebra.
Me: But, let me have that medicine first.
Dad: $%@#$%#&* HERE!
Me: *takes a sip and almost dies instantly*
Dad: *silently does a parental “I win” dance*

This poop water then made me sick every time I saw him drink it. Then, I wondered why people drank it and drank so much of it. I went through college and grad school without so much drinking more than a cup total. I remember some professors with that stale coffee smell that wafted across the room. *Gag* I would try to drink it. I even got a coffee machine and tried to be cool by bringing a cup to class. But, I never drank it. It just tasted like burnt onions. I would meet up with friends to do work at Panera Bread, order coffee, and just stare at it. One day, I met my demise. We were working on Multilevel Modeling, some fancy stats stuff, so I thought I needed to drink coffee to understand the material. I drank it, went home, and ended up lying on my bathroom floor, dizzy and unable to move for about an hour. *Curse the poop water!*

Side story: I sat next to a girl who brought 2 VENTI sized Starbucks coffee for our 9am stats class. She’d sit there next to me, legs shaking, spazzing out, sweating, and then saying over and over: “I’m so tired”. I would just quietly smile and then text my BFF under my desk, “OMG, this girl is going to explode! She’s drinking so much poop water!”

Fast forward to 2014, my husband noticed I would hide my k-cups because I didn’t want to share and was like “Kate, really?” So, he signed me up for a coffee tasting class in Seattle at Cafe Vita and my whole life changed. I tasted bad coffee and really, really good coffee. The difference was night and day. Let me tell you right now that GOOD coffee does NOT need sugar, random flavoring, whip cream, cream, or milk. Good coffee can be enjoyed black as it could be as delicate as your black or oolong tea.

I realized I never had good coffee. This whole time I was drinking k-cups and Starbucks! Sorry Starbucks fans, I cannot. I will drink it if I’m in a questionable town. But with choices like Matchstick, Slate, and Blue Bottle, I just can’t. SB is just too strong, too bitter, too burnt, and I just think you can do better! I still gave SB a chance and went to their grand opening of the Starbucks Roastery. I waited in the rain with my kids, I was dedicated, and I’ll say the coffee there is much, much better!

Anyway, what coffee means to me? Besides keeping me awake, helping me LIVE when I’ve had only a few hours of sleep, and basically being my life line- I love coffee because it brings good people together!!

With all people: Drinking coffee is a way to catch up or talk about hard stuff, like if you want to break up or something. Coffee is such a mediator. You can stare at your coffee when you don’t have much to say and it isn’t as awkward as staring at your hands. Coffee is a way to connect and it helps people to open up. Coffee helps you talk about your family or share your passions. Coffee helps you get to know the person and see if you want them in your life. Coffee also has a way of helping you linger with that hot date if you want to linger. *Would like to linger with you Josh Groban*

Another side story: I have a thing for Josh Groban. This thing is widely known and happily accepted for anyone who knows me. My husband is strangely ok with this. I have Josh Groban mugs from his concerts that are not allowed to be used-they are only for show. But, sometimes he gets used and I’m sweating watching the person use this mug. How dare your lips touch the Groban mug! My dad visited recently and was looking through my cupboard and said “Oh it’s Josh, guess I’m not supposed to use this one. How about Harry Potter?” See, even my dad knows.


With family: I’m that big kid who gets to make coffee for her dad now and drink it with him. My mom only sort of drinks coffee only because it keeps her awake for days like my husband. I think those two are like weird unicorns. It is special to me to make my dad coffee because the thing is, I am not the best dutiful Asian daughter. I can’t be the good kid who repays their parents back for all the years of sacrifice like most good, Asian kids do. I also don’t cook very well, he gets scared if I make him a meal. So, I make him good coffee. He watches me use the Aeropress and wonders why I am doing it versus a coffee brewer to make 8 cups in one fell swoop. My dad hates inefficiency. I do, too. For him, it must be like me watching my kid eat his dinner…takes 350 years But, being a good dad, he’ll happily wait 350 years because he sees my literal joy at making coffee in the slowest possible manner on earth.

With friends who I’ve forced into my family: This is the only way I get them to come over. Otherwise, they’re too busy and no one wants to hang out with someone who has a family because they think they’re getting in the way. No guys! So, I have to lure them like a creeper and say like “I have new coffee, wanna come by??” And it always works!! *Fist pump!* This is my time to catch up with the special friends and it’s exciting to share my good coffee with them. I generally am unwilling to share my good coffee with just anyone. My husband finds this absurd but coffee is a precious commodity!

I’d love to hear why you love coffee and what brings you joy from drinking it. Is it the warmth that drizzles down your throat in the morning…or that scalding hot burn when you drink too fast? Or the promise of a good caffeine fueled level of happiness that awaits you? Is it the time with friends, family, or the thank-you-baby-Jesus-for-coffee when you’re in an awkward place? Or, is it just purely a ritual all your own- your personal me time where you can indulge in this life’s pleasure? If you don’t drink coffee, then I’m sure it’s because you’re sensitive to it. I accept that. My mom, husband, and BFF Darth Vadar are like this and I love them a lot still. Share with me anyway what brings you joy!

Thanks for reading!