Thursday, December 31, 2009

December 31

December 31: Resolution you wish you'd stuck with (You know, there's always next year...)

Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. Quiero hablar espanol!

I vowed to keep learning Spanish, and for a while, I was a loyal member of a group that met at the Lucky Lab in NW Portland. I took a class at PCC, went to Nicaragua in July, and went to a couple of Spanish dinners, but for the last few months, felt like I haven't practiced much at all. And I really want to be able to speak it, to at least understand people when they're talking to me.

Another goal for 2010. Obvio.

December 30

December 30: Ad What advertisement made you think this year?

I saw this via my friend Dan Klyn who tweeted about it. And it's from South Africa. Kinda cool.

Best Ad of 2009

December 29

December 29: Laugh What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

I knew this immediately. I distinctly remember saying that I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time - like this was the can't breathe-I'm crying-I might pass out kind of laugh. Sigh, I loved this.

It was our friend (and my roommate) Molly's birthday and she insisted on not celebrating it - she was leaving for the Midwest the next day and she just wanted to go to the pub with our friends like a typical Wednesday night. So, naturally, we planned to kidnap her and take her to the Sapphire Hotel, a sweet little spot in SE Portland that makes some nice cocktails.

The plan was for a friendly kidnap, to throw her in the back of a car and maybe blindfold her, but as soon as we got talking about it, somehow I was asked to bring rope for her hands and feet, and, well, things changed a bit.

Molly made it to the pub alright, but we grabbed her as soon as she got her beer and dragged her outside. Then, on the curb, we tied her hands and her feet, and Joy had the great idea to throw a paper bag over her head (there may have been a belt). Yep. People were staring.

We popped the back of Joy's hatchback and first, had the brilliant idea of tipping Molly in face-first, but didn't realize until it was too late that her hands couldn't really support her when they were tied behind her, so she was basically laying on her face. I think this is when I was laughing the hardest.

Molly was a great sport - she laughed the whole time and didn't get mad at us for yelling at her to be quiet and lay down for the entire 20 minute drive. With a bag over her head. Thanks, Molls, for the best laugh of the year. Just wait until next year...

December 28

Best Stationery

My friend Joy is obsessed with unicorns, and I think she actually believes they exist. Yeah...

So I was home this summer, going through my old desk and all my little memories and found a pad of paper with the most beautiful unicorn on every page. I'm pretty sure it was from 6th grade (ahem...). Perfect for Joy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 26 and 27

December 26: Insight or Aha! Moment

There is something that sounds so cliche about having a different perspective when you turn 30. But I can tell you that there's truth to it. Something shifts; I don't know exactly what to call it. It's like I exhaled after a long time of waiting for something I couldn't put my finger on.

I'm not where I thought I would be at 30, but I'm okay with it. And maybe that's what it is - just accepting my life as it is. Less pressure, more confidence. It's good.

December 27: Social web moment

I remember my first social web moment, ever. It was 1995, I was 16 and working as a library aide at a small, local public library. We had just hooked up to the internet with these crappy monitors - the only thing I saw was a black screen and orange text, no pictures or fonts or formatting. But it was the world wide web, and it was cool. Somehow, I found a chatroom and signed on as Princess something and started talking to people across the country. I was hooked.

Twelve years later (!), I signed up for Twitter, but I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't follow anyone, and there for sure wasn't anyone following me. I tweeted a couple of times and promptly forgot about the whole thing. Then, I started back this year - I can't remember what prompted it. Maybe it was because more people were actually talking about it. Or that I realized that I could be connected to interesting people who could teach me something.

The past several months have been entertaining, eye-opening, and generally informative - I'm learning the ins and outs of social media, checking out inspiring design projects and keeping up with news and friends across the country. I used to work in PR, and this is the stuff we were wondering about when all of this started to take off. Who would connect with who? And more importantly, why? Not exactly a moment, but a definitive, positive change in my online habits.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 24 and 25

December 24: Learning Experience

I worked with some cool people back in Grand Rapids before I moved out to Portland, and have had the privilege of staying in touch with them, which is why it was so distressing to read on Twitter earlier this year that one of those friends suffered a freak accident that revealed a huge tumor in his brain. David is a talented communicator and devoted husband, and he's 28.

David had been blogging before about life, but started writing about this from the first hospital bed. And he writes straight from his heart about how he is choosing to respond to this - what he's found is that finding a tumor in his brain is something he's entirely grateful for. Grateful. For a tumor. He's taking leaps like never before, pursuing his dreams and genuinely loving the people around him. No regrets. Most importantly, he is trusting in God and discovering what his faith really looks (and sounds) like.

I'm learning a lot from David. And I'm not the only one. You can follow his blog here: Jump David Jump.

December 25 Gift What's a gift you gave yourself this year that has kept on giving?

Netflix. I love it. I've seen Mad Men, so many amazing episodes of Friday Night Lights and rented old classics like Breakin'. Yes, Breakin'.

This week: Veronica Mars, Season 1. Sigh. This was such a good show.

Monday, December 28, 2009

December 22 and 23

December 22: Startup/Business

I know of a cool little production company that's been doing some good work with a guy named Josh Shipp, and I like what he has to say. His advice videos to teenagers crack me up - not sure what that says about me, but trust me, his stuff is good. He was also nominated as one of Inc. magazine's top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs of 2009.

Josh is quirky, a little silly and gives smart answers to tough questions. If you have teenagers, check him out. And if you don't, well, you should still check him out.

December 23: Web Tool

My brother-in-law introduced me to when I was home for Christmas last year, and I've used it ever since. I actually like the reminders, and I love being able to see everything - my credit cards, investments, accounts - in one glance. I could have used this a long time ago.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December 18-21

I was in Michigan last weekend, and had been dying to write about it, but it was a major surprise trip, especially for my dear sister who had no idea I was coming into town. Crashing her party last week was definitely a highlight of the trip. And so were my niece, nephews and Christmas time!

All that to say, you get a few days' posts in one. Giddyup.

December 18: Shop

I am nominating Art of the Table in Grand Rapids, Michigan for my shop of the year. They helped me in a pinch for my sister's birthday - she wanted a neoprene six-pack holder, which they carry and they also have a lovely stocked fridge in the back of the store full of hard-to-find beers. So, Amy put together a little bag for Lynn, I called her on her birthday, told her to stop in for a birthday surprise, and she picked up her holder and the beers she wanted. It was perfect.

December 19: Car ride

My favorite car ride of the year: the bus ride to the markets in Masaya with Beth in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is the old schoolbus heaven and every bus is named (ours was "Siempre mi nino"/"Always my child") and decorated - with bright colors and interesting drivers. We sang Mambo No. 5 with the locals and passed by cows and pigs, and families on bikes.

December 20: New person

So, technically, I met Margaret last year at work, but I don't think we actually became friends until this year. She works at an architectural firm here in Portland and we've been coworkers since last September - she's a talented architect. Margaret and her husband love to cook (he's a chef) and they invited me to a tasty Brunch-B-Q earlier this year at their house. They also brew their own beer, which I have tried and will tell you that it is GOOD. Margaret gives me good advice and laughs at my jokes even when they're kind of lame.(Wut? Wut?)

I'm not going to be working with Margaret much longer, which stinks. But there are happy hour plans in the works. And hopefully another Brunch-B-Q. Seriously.

(This is Caitlyn, Margaret, me and Shane (all coworkers) at the Oregon Brew Fest last year.)

December 21: Project

I haven't gotten very far in two months, but this chair is going to be amazing when it's done. I've got next week off and some good ideas. More pictures to come.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17: New word/phrase

I can't take credit for this (Joy), but the best new word use I heard this year was "trick" as in, "I love my new cowboy boots - they are so trick!"

Think it will catch on?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16: Best Tea

Best tea this year: Egyptian Licorice from Yogi. And a short story: (apologies in advance for trying to cover something so special in just a few short paragraphs)

A few years ago, I went to Haiti for a week to hold babies, and had one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

I met up with Sarah and Sarah - two amazing women who live in LA - who led the trip, and encouraged me to really embrace every part of our time there - finding hope in what seems utterly lost. We loved on babies at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince and I saw poverty like I've never seen before. I also encountered love like never before - from the sisters who work full-time at the orphanage, the grateful room moms and of course, those beautiful babies.

It was also a chance to become friends with some lovely people, especially Sarah and Sarah, who I've been able to stay in touch with over the last few years. And when I visit LA, they generously offer their couch and their time to me, which I appreciate more than they know.

These ladies are also tea-lovers, and Sarah O introduced me to Egyptian Licorice tea from Yogi the last time I was there in October (part of the reason she loves it is because it's from Oregon, of course). But also because it's just a little sweet and spicy. She's sweet herself, and packed a couple of teabags in my suitcase before I left. Definitely my best tea find of the year.

P.S. Sarah and Sarah and Nikki G and others are headed back to Port-au-Prince in a few days to continue working at the orphanage - please pray for their safety and health and time with the sisters and babies. I wanted to go so badly, but for certain reasons, I'll have to wait until next time. Prayers and thoughts for them in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15: Best packaging

Howdy. We're about halfway now, and I have to say, it's been a struggle to post every day. Way to go, daily bloggers.

It's been a good day - I just got my hair cut, I'm having one of my favorite Breakfast Wrap burritos and I just put some champagne in the freezer before I head out in a bit. Last night, Erica and I caught up on Glee and watched an episode of Friday Night Lights. We're not crazy TV people, but we might be just a teensy bit obsessed with those shows. Watch them if you can. Especially FNL.

December 15: Best packaging

We started buying milk in the old-fashioned glass containers earlier this year, and while it's freakin' expensive, I love the fact that I'm buying milk from a farm and not wasting anything. Kind of makes me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Well, probably more like Nellie, since she would get hers from the store.

Monday, December 14, 2009

tres posts for you

Three days to catch up on - please don't judge. I've just been, shall we say, preoccupied - with good things, of course. But I'll try not to make a habit of this...

December 12: New Food

This is kind of ridiculous, but I have to say that the food highlight of my year has been the Breakfast Wrap by Higher Taste. It's an Oregon thing, and Erica introduced me to it, and I have one at least once a week. I may be their most loyal customer.

December 13: What's the best change you made to the place you live?

This has been a year of settling in for our house. My lovely roommates and I moved in last December and it's just started really feeling like home. The biggest change for me was probably unpacking everything.

We were just talking tonight over dinner about how great this last year has been for us as roommates. We are three girls living together, so there are bound to be little tiffs here and there, but overall, we really do love each other. Our house has become a place we're excited to come home to. And that's something I don't want to change.

December 14: Rush

Hmm. A rush. I had to think about this for a bit. I've done a few adrenaline-rush activities in my life (skydiving, anyone?), but this year, I would say my biggest rush has been boxing.

Now, I don't actually fight. It's just not in me to do that. But I do train like I'm going to fight. And I love it. I started classes a few years ago at Frank's Sun City Fitness - now Frank's Knockout Fitness - and couldn't figure out why I actually liked going to a class where someone yelled at me for 45 minutes to do more sit-ups and punch harder.

But it's the rush I get when I hit the bag, when my glove smacks it so hard and I know that if it were a person, he'd be in the hurt box. Or maybe it's just a chance to get rid of some underlying aggression issues. Either way, it's one of my favorite things to do, so I was really happy to find Erik's Extending Fitness here in Portland. It's my Wednesday night workout.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11: Best Place

Oh, how I love love love my parents' house. Yes, it's in West Michigan where it's currently 12 degrees with a forecast of snow for the next six months, I know. But it's home. My parents bought it from a couple whose daughter is a Broadway star (I inherited her bedroom, which I always thought was cool) - she visited one summer and told me and my sister that she used to throw great parties with the guys from Dukes of Hazzard. Awesome.

The house has this super old intercom system with these weird-looking plastic white phones on the wall of most rooms, and the rec room has a cool old stereo, which we used to turn up while we rollerskated for hours. In the back, there's a pool and a deep ravine filled with trees that runs through the neighborhood and in the summer, it looks like a jungle down there.

Every summer was filled with pool parties and diving board games and popsicles and hot dogs on the grill. And in the winter, we would watch the snow come down, filling up the patio until it covered the diving board.

I used to tell them that they could never sell it. But I think I've made peace with that - maybe it's time for someone else to find out how great it is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 9 & 10

December 9: Best Challenge

The Annual Review

This was the first year I did an Annual Review, or basically a year-long plan with measurable, reachable goals for all the things I wanted to do in 2009 - learning Spanish, running, writing, etc. Thanks to Chris Guillebeau, I had a lovely spreadsheet (nerdy, I know, but I love them) to start with and track throughout the year. And it's not easy! It required really thinking through things that I wanted to do, setting goals and then evaluating whether or not I was actually working toward them, and ultimately deciding what was priority and what wasn't.

I watched some ambitions drop like flies and other interests bloom, and I loved writing "done and done" when I completed things like my first (and maybe only) 5k and listing the books I'd read and trips taken. It was kind of like breaking down my life into pieces and chasing them down, making them happen. Or kind of like a good kick in the pants. Yup.

December 10: Album of the Year

Imogen Heap | Ellipse

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First up:

Some quotes:

I like this one today:

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want."

Margaret Young

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 8: A Moment of Peace

Stepping off the plane in PDX after a good visit home this summer, and knowing this is the place to be. After almost a year and a half, I needed that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blog Challenge 09 - December 6 & 7

Yesterday was a busy day - in the way you wish all days could be busy - and I didn't have time or energy to post. So today's a two-fer!

December 6: Workshop or Conference

I didn't spend much time in workshops or conferences this year; however, I did go to a women's retreat for my church and, though it was a pretty low-key weekend, I took a lot away from the time spent with the ladies from The Well and the speaker. She covered a few interesting, influential women in the Bible, and by far, my favorite was the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus was a little cryptic, talking about living water and telling her about herself. But despite her story (and his mysterious words), this woman was not afraid to be herself, ask him questions and, ultimately, believe. (John 4:1-42)

December 7: Blog Find of the Year

It's a tie. Design*Sponge (thanks, Amber!) and What I Wore. Love them both!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December 5: Best Night Out

So glad my friends here like to salsa. I spent more than a few nights at a great little salsa club in Santiago, Chile and love it, so I usually go when I have the chance. But this particular night was feeling really low-key, I didn't want to pay the $10 cover and it kept getting later and later. But my roommate Erica really wanted to go, even though it was past 10, so I reluctantly put on my heels and away we went to Mambo Lounge.

Back story: the last time we went to Mambo Lounge - which I love - I danced with a shorter, cologne-happy guy who tried all kinds of crazy moves with me. He was a very good dancer; I was not. I'm not bad, but I was not at his level, and at one point, he had me sitting on his bent legs and tipped back almost entirely upside down. Mambo Lounge is a big open room, and usually there is a crowd of people watching everyone. But I was more worried about falling on my head, flashing everyone or kicking someone else than looking like I knew what I was doing - it wasn't pretty. I had words with him when the song was over.

When we arrived on this particular Saturday night, I danced with a few different guys, and then I saw him. The crazy-dip guy. Actually, I smelled him first. When he asked me to dance, I said, "Hey, I know you!" And he started laughing and said, "Oh yeah, I remember you!"


This time, I was very clear with him about not doing the dip (or any other "So You Think You Can Dance" moves), and to his credit, he completely respected my wishes. He actually made me feel like a good dancer. So good that I forgot what time it was and my friends had to drag me home. It was an unexpectedly great night.

Runner-up: NW PDX Progressive Dinner - Todd's, the Price's (impromptu dance party!), our house, and Amber's for a splash of champagne. So. Much. Fun.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best Book

So, I know I picked an article for yesterday, but that was before I read this one. I really like what this man has to say.

Today's topic: Best Book. I read - a lot - so this is sad that I can't choose more than one. But since I have to pick, I'm picking Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

It has a piano, South America, love and suspense. This was the kind of book that I read during lunch at work, the kind that I didn't want to tell anyone about right away, so I could just let it replay in my mind. And the quote I put in my planner:

"All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3: Best Article

I read a lot, so it was hard to remember and pick just one, but I've referred to this article in conversation multiple times, and wondered about the idea as I've been using a lot of free services this year, like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Anyway, Malcolm Gladwell reviews a book called Free which suggests that "all information wants to be free," as in you don't have to pay for it. (Not like twirling around in a open field... ahem.)

The idea of what's free, what isn't and what should be is one of those ideas that goes round and round in my mind.

It reminds me of working for NOOMA - talking about why we charged what we did for the films (especially as a nonprofit), and the idea of value and perceived value. They were $10 for a reason. Our designers were also very protective of the brand - the logo, the intro to the films, everything. There is value to the time, energy and creativity that goes into creating a brand, maintaining an image - the intellectual property. And part of what our customers paid for was the image, whether they realized it or not.

It also reminds me of a conversation with a friend of a friend who argued that information (music, design - use of logos, etc.) should be free, but that the business model should change. He told me about Mos Def's strategy earlier this year (summary here), which I hadn't heard about. I don't know if this is where music is headed, but it's interesting nonetheless.

It makes me wonder what my kids will be paying for some day or getting for free - if they'll think it's crazy that I paid 99 cents for a song on iTunes. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

I just thought this was funny.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2: Best Restaurant Moment

Dinner party guests arriving in a few, and I just got home from boxing. Good thing I drafted this earlier today...

Best Restaurant Moment 2009: Navarre. April 3. One of those spontaneous "Hey let's grab dinner" nights. My roommate Erica and I had been to a book reading by Susan Isaacs - she is funny, and so is the book (Angry Conversations with God). Afterwards, we were all sort of milling around talking about dinner and two friends decided to join us and then we were outside walking to Navarre: me, Erica, Ben and Justin.

So, Portland has a bajillion amazing restaurants. All over the city. Basically, wherever you are in town, you can find a place to eat, and eat well. Justin recommended Navarre - I had never been - and its theme is local food, family style. They prepare whatever they get from local farms, so basically it's a CSA restaurant. I like that.

The food was tasty. There were greens, mushrooms (Erica tried them!), fish, duck, bread and really good red wine. And good conversation about everything - work, families, art, art communities in Texas, fishing in Alaska, being 30 (I was close enough).

Later we went to Horse Brass for beers, and at the end of the night, the boys walked us back out to my car and we giggled like we were 14 again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 1: Best Trip

December 1: Best Trip

I told myself at the beginning of the year that I would have to cut back on travel - I had just moved to Portland six months before, and had come basically from Chile by way of Michigan. It was going to be a "save" year.

But I can't sit still, especially not when lovely friends are beckoning from all over. So just days after the Honduran coup, I headed down to Nicaragua to visit my friend Beth for a long weekend. Not the most stable country ever, but safer than Honduras.

It was the best trip of the year because:

1. It was the real deal. The accommodations were comfortable and safe, but this was no resort. Beth knew enough about the city of Managua to get us around via public transportation or cabs at night. And I met so people who actually live there. That is my kind of vacation.

2. I made a great connection with a friend of a friend which kind of happened through Facebook. Beth and I met up with Jane, George and their family - in Nicaragua for a month to serve and travel. The kids were fantastic - 7, 5, and 3 - speaking Spanish, playing with Nica kids and totally embracing a very foreign summer vacation. They let us tag along one morning to volunteer at a home for abused women and children - we played games, sang songs, fake-tattooed their arms, and loved on some kids for a morning.

3. This trip reminded me of Chile, my precious Chile. The Spanish, the culture, the volunteering. I vow to go back.

All that to say: Visit Nicaragua - for the year-round black curtain, the fantastic coffee, the gorgeous landscape, the friendly people and just to grow your heart and mind a little bit. And there's more here. (And FYI: this trip beat out 10 days home with my family, whom I love dearly, and a long, warm weekend in SoCal with great friends and a U2 concert.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

blog challenge 2009

I thought I had time for blogging. Apparently I don't. But that's about to change. And the reason is because I'm accepting a challenge. A challenge to blog once a day for the next 30 days about the highlights of 2009. The list is here. And so it begins.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

can't wait!!

It's almost time. I leave for Michigan on Thursday night for a lovely red-eye to New Jersey (no, I am not kidding - I love Continental!) then on to the most cool Grand Rapids. I'm very excited - could you tell by my double exclamation points? I rarely do that.

My top five things I want to do:

1. Go to the beach! I'm tired of West Coasters making fun of Michigan's beaches. I miss fresh water that's warm enough to swim in. The Pacific is a huge ocean, yeah yeah yeah - but I can't lay out next to it or jump off a pier into it.

2. Spend some quality time with my niece and nephews. Seriously, Skype is amazing and I'm grateful for it. But I can't give Zach a zerbert, or color with Lauren, or march around with Max unless I'm there in person. Get ready guys!

3. Drive down to Chicago with my sister! I miss that city - it's always been one of my favorite places. I talked about moving there so much that people actually thought I did live there. Oops. Well, maybe someday. If we can, we're going to try to go to Webster's Wine Bar - one of my favorite places of all time. Seriously.

4. Enjoy the drive from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids and back. Do you have any idea how many times I've made that drive? I love that I know every exit, gas station and where all the cops like to wait.

5. Go swimming in my parents' pool. Holy smokes - it has been in the upper 90s here twice this summer - no one has AC and I have literally almost melted. Well, maybe not. But I did have dreams/mirage-like visions of my parents pool. And I think I will do a cannon ball.

Of course, I can't wait to see so many people (and their new babies!) and drive past my old house and just do life with people I love and miss. See you in four days!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


And I'm in the backyard, enjoying a fantastic summer night.

I'm exhausted - last week I got in from Nicaragua at 2 AM on Tuesday night. Fortunately, I have amazing roommates and one of them got out of bed to pick me up from the airport. Seriously - I owe that girl. I didn't feel great last weekend (I think it was the pupusas) and this week has been midnight to bed every night. I'm on my way to a little concert in a few, and will try to be in bed before 11. We'll see how that goes...

I went to Spanish conversation group last night, which I love. I get to practice listening, speaking and we have pretty interesting conversation. Last night, we discussed the coup in Honduras - if you think it's difficult to discuss in English, try Spanish. But I loved hearing the different perspectives. I'm not sure yet if I totally oppose it - but would love to hear your thoughts...

My next trip is to Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo from August 28 through Labor Day. I cannot wait. I'm planning on a real beach (yeah, that's what I said), pool time, a little humidity and some serious family time. And I'm thinking about a little jaunt to SoCal this fall. We will see.

A few extras: Just bought and read A Praying Life by Paul Miller - excellent book, I recommend it. Also just bought (and I mean like 4 minutes ago) Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus album from iTunes. Another good find. Recently read Relentless Pursuit - about life with Teach for America. I think I'm ready for some fiction. Suggestions?

Saturday, July 4, 2009


It's warm - maybe 84 and I'm waiting for dinner. Beth is taking a shower after a day at the markets in Masaya and an amazing swim in Laguna de Apoyo - a lake created by a volcanic implosion about 23,000 years ago. I did a handstand, so I guess I can say that I touched a volcano with my hand. Boo-ya.

Nicaragua is beautiful. It's hot, tropical and Latin and I love it. I am practicing my Spanish with Beth which has been awesome and in the market today too. Some things remind me so much of Chile!

Beth and I just got upgraded to private rooms - instead of the dorm - at our hostel. Last night we were in an open air dorm with three other girls - it is the closest to the water, so we basically fell asleep listening to the waves.

So why Nicaragua? My friend Beth is working with an organization in Managua that provides community health services. She specifically coordinates trips for groups that come down to travel around and provide various medical, dental or construction services. And she'll be here for three years - so I thought I should come see what she's up to!

I can't say enough how fortunate I feel to be able to travel, and especially to be able to visit someone I know. God is providing for her in so many ways and it's humbling to see that. Even the people we've been talking to here at the hostel share their stories about the work they're doing and I see that God is moving here. Gracias a Dios!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the underdogs

Today was a fantastic day for US soccer - the men's team upset Spain, beating them 2-0 in a game they were largely expected to lose. I don't know what happens when I watch those games, but I get all antsy and my heart beats really fast and I "say" things like my dad - Switch fields! Outside, outside!! Be there!!!

Fortunately, we have a big TV in our office, so we watched during lunch and I am not lying when I say that I literally jumped out of my chair when we scored the second goal. Here are some highlights: Footytube (just click on it). I don't know what language it is, but all you need to know is that US's goalie had a phenomenal game and the foul at the end was a ridiculous call.

I leave for Nicaragua in exactly one week and I cannot wait - to see Beth, to meet Nicaragua, to speak Spanish and to relax. The plan is to head to Laguna de Apoyo and stay for a couple of nights at Crater's Edge and it looks amazing. Hopefully we don't get rained out.

Two last things: FutureMe - a website that allows you to write emails to yourself in the future, provided that you keep the same email address. I think I might do it. And the verse I've been looking at all week on our new kitchen message board:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

oh the irony

I don't think my roommates found this as funny as I did. Maybe it was because I was trying to talk to them while they were on their computers.

You know you do it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

please excues the typos

I think I was an English teacher in my last life. Or at least an editor. I have a thing for words - I'm kind of spelling spaz, I'm always fake-typing when I'm bored and it drives me crazy to see typos and easy grammatical errors - especially in public places. Maybe I need to define "public place" but recently I came across a blog where the author excuses her spelling errors because it's just a blog. Granted, she writes every day, but it's not like it's a blog about her dog or the pie she made last weekend. It's more like professional career advice, writing about jobs and work - where a typo can cost someone an interview or a new client.

Some might argue that if one's point is made, if the idea is conveyed, then the minor details are a moot point. But quality is quality - from the tiniest of details to the grandest of ideas. And I'm worried that we're increasingly satisfied with decreasing standards.

So, in a small act of quality control, I urge you to be conscious of what you are sharing with the world - whether it's an email to your friend, a birthday card for your daughter or a blog post about how cool it is to be Dutch. If we don't insist on the best, who will?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

a few things:

1. I promise to write more - if not for your enjoyment, for my much-needed practice.
2. God is good. He has given me so much in Portland, and though I miss my family like crazy, I am here, and present.
3. Some of the craziness that I call my life lately:
  • my girl Steph visited last weekend, and even though the weather was not great, we went to the coast, hiked in the Gorge, got a tour of a brewery and ate out SO GOOD. She and I are kindergarten buddies, and she will always be a close, close friend.
  • My car is on clutch #2 - in nine months!
  • Nina Simone rocks my world.
  • I am headed to Nicaragua in 3 weeks to visit my friend Beth!
  • I had a visit from my volunteer bud Christy on Sunday - I miss that girl (and her hilarious laugh!)

On a more serious note, I know a lovely couple in Grand Rapids who recently found out that one of them has a brain tumor. David and Amy are two amazing people, and David's courage and faith is reminding me about who God is and who he calls us to be.

I've also been thinking about purpose, drive, passion and reality lately. After I graduated from college (8 years ago!), I worked in marketing and it was an interesting experience. But I chose to quit my job and move to Chile for four months - now I'm not sure where I stand. I'm not sure what I truly want to pursue, although I know that there is something that I am passionate about. It's just escaping me, or I'm afraid to go after whatever it is. I'm needing courage right now, determination, and a healthy dose of reality...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


i'm writing on a deliciously portland evening - finally, it's rainy and gray and it feels very northwest. my roommates are out of the house - and i'm resisting the urge to turn on anything with noise. so it's me, the ticking clocks and the rain.

i say delicious because i have been consumed with food lately. or maybe i've been consuming a lot of food? either way, all of my reading lately has inspired a compost bin, a csa (community supported agriculture) membership with my roommate, and some tasty treats like tomato jam with goat cheese, lynnie's roasted red pepper dip and valentine's day eggs in a nest :)

i have a few books in the hopper - exposed, about chemicals, our health and politics (scary!), the omnivore's dilemma (the prequel to "in defense of food" which was fantastic) and orthodoxy by g.k. chesterton. the last is one that i've been struggling to read (confession: i read it when i need to fall asleep). but i have faith that it will eventually get rolling and i will be as impressed as everyone else.

what else? i just watched "king corn" this weekend, an interesting documentary about how much corn we grow and eat and process here in the states. i am grimacing right now, partly because of how ubiquitous corn is and we don't even know it, and partly because i had greasy, butter popcorn this afternoon and loved it. anyway, it's a good film - rent it.

so, tomorrow is ash wednesday... and i'm debating whether or not to give up anything. two years ago i gave up coffee, then ended up visiting seattle for the first time (coffee capital!) in the middle of lent. i was there with a pastor, so i asked his professional opinion on whether or not i could break the fast. i mean, come on - i was in seattle. he kind of rolled his eyes, sighed, and asked me why i was fasting in the first place. and i really had no other answer than that i was doing what you're supposed to do at lent. two hours later, i was drinking coffee, strolling down the street towards pike place market - and then spilled all over my shirt. it was like getting the stink-eye from god. moral of the story? don't give up something unless you really mean it...

happy lent!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

it's spring and it's february

This is my second non-Michigan winter, and I have to say, it is fantastic. I can't boast temps in the 70s like my friends in California, but there is no snow, no biting cold winds and I don't have to wear boots every day to work. I hear the rainy season may be starting up soon, so I'm mentally preparing for that, but otherwise, this is great.

I'm reading a fascinating book right now called Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough. I first heard this story on This American Life (listen to this show, please) and immediately put a hold on this book - back in October. I finally got it last week and have been devouring it for the last few days. Oddly enough, the author interviews a teacher whose name I recognize from Grand Rapids - it is a small, small world.

Anyway, the book has been inspiring to say the least, and is one of the many things over the last several months (years, maybe?) that is making me think about what I'm going to do with my life. And I want to send a little shout-out here to all the people who don't have their career path figured out - I am one of you. I am forever changing my mind, searching for the thing that I'm passionate about, the thing that makes me angry so I'll want to do something to make it better, however you want to put it. It's out there, somewhere. Some of us just take the scenic route.