Glacier National Park August 2015

OHMYGOSH what a gorgeous place!  I have been busy shooting people lately and I haven’t had a chance to work on my vacation pics until now.  This place!  I can’t even…  There were wildfires in part of the park when we were there, so the photos aren’t as magically delicious as they could’ve been without the smoke in the air, but it was still a magnificent place.

610_2381

More to come…

The Wet and Smelly Side of Friendship

Friendship doesn’t always mean thoughtfulness or gifts or making plans to spend time together.  Sometimes being a friend involves nothing more than water and deodorant.

I was driving home yesterday with the prospect of having unexpected free time on my hands, and I was thinking of all the things I would do with my time.  I COVET free time, probably because I don’t have much of it.  I daydreamed things like: I have photos from two trips I took this summer that are still sitting on my camera’s memory card that I could finally get off and edit and blog about, I have a book project that I need to work on, I have a dirty house that I could clean, and OH MY GOSH A NAP SOUNDS AWESOME.

I wasn’t able to do any of those things yesterday because as I was thinking about all the wonderful things *I* could do with *MY* time, I felt a tugging on my heart that brought to mind a friend that I hadn’t talked to in a couple of weeks.  So I called her just to say hi, which turned into asking her to lunch because I could tell by her voice that she was having a bad day.

Long story short, she was having an EPICALLY bad day.  She was at work, but she needed to cry and talk, so I picked her up and drove her to the bank so she could make a deposit for work.  Then we parked in the shade (big YAY! since it was in the 90’s) and just sat in the car and…cried and talked.

One of the things she was lamenting was that her back was hurting her too bad to carry bottled water up three flights of stairs to her apartment.  STOP RIGHT THERE.  Some of you may scoff at bottled water being something to cry over, but living in the DFW metroplex, I assure you that bottled (or filtered) water is a necessity of life.  If you want to drink water, that is.  DFW water tastes bad in the winter months, but in the summery, HOT DROUGHT-Y months it tastes like wet soil. Literal dirt.  It’s awful. ANYWAY – another thing she was upset about was being too depressed to take good care of herself and she was out of deodorant, and sorry if she was stinky.  (She wasn’t. Nor was her house as dirty as she felt like it was.)

My friend has a touch of OCD, coupled with not-so-ideal life circumstances, financial stresses, and PMS – she was a hurricane of emotions.  I didn’t know what to do for her or how to help her, so I didn’t do anything.  Turns out, she just needed someone to talk to, who would listen without judgment or without telling her to “stop having a pity party” (like another “friend” had done to her earlier).  ((eye-roll))  She just needed to BE with me.

So that is what I did.  I listened, I hugged her, I cried with her, and I prayed for her.  And even though she didn’t ask me to, I bought deodorant and water (and took it up to her third floor apartment) for her.  Sometimes the things we think are no big deal can mean the world to someone else.

I was glad I was able to respond to what I believe was God’s nudging on my heart.  Turns out, that ‘nudge” happened at the exact time she was taking the trash out for work, in the back of her building, where she had taken the opportunity to cry and pray and ask God for something, anything to let her know she was cared for.

I was honored that God chose to use me in that way.  I hope that you can be as blessed by friendship as I was yesterday.  Don’t ever disregard opportunities that come your way to be a friend to someone in need.  Don’t ignore the quiet urgings or gentle nudgings in your heart that are trying to move you this way or that – just do it.  You never know what effect your seemingly insignificant action can have on the world around you.

Go be someone’s blessing today!

Confessions of a Recovering Crazy Bitch

IMG_0080

 

This is what I saw when I opened my refrigerator this morning to get the creamer out for my coffee.  Whole milk for the kids, Schweppes for mixed drinks, Bloody Mary mix for…a roasted chicken dish I made the other night (no lie!), and right in front of all that is a glass of wine.  Let me just pause here for a second.

A glass of wine.  In my refrigerator.  Leftover from last night.

It struck me so profoundly that I took a photo of it.  And the reason why is what prompted me to write this post.

I was diagnosed with PMDD 12 years ago.  You can google it if you want, but what it means to me, and the reason I went to the doctor all those years ago, is because I found myself waking up each morning at a 9.75 on the Nikki’s Gonna Blow Scale (with 10 being “I will bite your head off if you look at me”).  Yeah…not a great way to start each day.

The doctor told me that sometimes with the massive hormonal upheaval that occurs with being pregnant and having a baby twice in two years (which I had just done), things can go awry.  She checked the usual suspects (thyroid, heart, thorn in my paw, stick up my ass).  All negative.  She prescribed Zoloft to kind of reset things.  It took a little while for it to start working, and it was more of a subtle calming over time rather than a “happy pill” that many people mislabel it as.

{lots of other elements to the story that I don’t have time to get into here}

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago – I went to the doctor to talk about why I felt like I had all these stirrings and ideas floating around in my head but lacked the motivation to execute any of them.  She suggested lowering my dose of Zoloft.

(cue harps and angels singing)

It was like a veil had been lifted and I came out of my fog-like state almost immediately.  (This is where the “reformed” part of my story begins)  I’ve been exercising, sleeping less, and writing more.  I feel like I’m actually living rather than just existing.

(Enter the wine glass in the refrigerator)

I have cut back on the amount of alcohol I drink.  The Nikki of 3 weeks ago would never have left undrunk wine on the proverbial table.  Now I view wine as the Nectar of the Gods that it is meant to be (I now enjoy rather than ingest) and also full of empty calories I don’t need.  Nikki 3.0 would rather go for a walk than finish a glass of wine.

This new development is blowing my mind, and I had to share.  Maybe this post will resonate with someone.  I have LOTS more to say on the subject of brain chemistry and my own journey with their ups and downs, but not here, not now.

Today is a good day.

Rock on!  (But don’t rock out with your cock out, à la Lenny K.) (Unless you wear junk jewelry, then by all means, feel free)

The Muse

IMG_0037

I read an article in Medium the other day and this quote from it stuck with me. The photo is of me sitting and waiting on the sunset, with my camera that hadn’t been used in months. (I didn’t know my friend snapped the pic until the next day)

I was in LA about a month ago, and one of the things I wanted to do while I was there was get some sunset pics at the beach.   I had no doubt that it would be spectacular, but waiting for it to occur took longer than I thought it would. (I had dinner reservations to make, people!)  I quickly realized that missing dinner would be a fair trade for what I was about to witness. And if I changed my perspective slightly, I would know that sunset took the exact right amount of time that it was supposed to take.

That waiting period gave me plenty of time to be alone with my thoughts; in fact, I had more uninterrupted time than I’d had in a very long time. I was able to just BE.  It was nothing short of transcendent.

Looking back, that time of reflection marked the start of an adventure – one that I knew deep down in my soul I needed to embark on for a long time, but I had just (for many reasons) not had the motivation to do.  (I may touch on those reasons at a later date, but not any time soon).

Long story short, I’m writing again.

I had no specific goal in mind when I [brushed the dust off and] opened up my laptop.  I just started a blank document and let the avalanche of things inside my mind tumble out.  Basically, I showed up for the Muse and she showed up for me.  She took me by the fingers and we worked the keyboard together.

It’s too exciting to keep it to myself.  I’m sooooo glad to be feeling like Me again.

((waves hand)) Hi! I’ve missed you!

Thank You For Bleeding: A Love Letter To Writers

Wonderful, thought-provoking words!

john pavlovitz

Bleeding pen

There’s something all writers know, something that those who don’t write will never truly understand:

To write, is to bleed.

The act of regularly opening yourself up in full view of an army of strangers is choosing to be exposed; to consent to have one’s unprotected innards trespassed upon and rooted through. This vulnerability comes at a great personal price, one that is never really ever repaid. The writer is always in the red.

Though the discipline of writing is one that usually begins in solitude, its evolution is quite the opposite. In the quiet places one bravely breaks open the contents of his or her heart and chooses to share them publicly, not knowing the reception they will receive after they leave the safety of secret. Once outside of the protected confines of one’s head, their every syllable is scrutinized and dissected, parsed and poured over.

Most writers tend to be a confounding collection of paradoxes, having…

View original post 467 more words

Sympathy for the [hike to] Devil [‘s Bridge]

Please allow me to introduce myself…

{{Sorry if this causes you an unwanted ear worm, but I couldn’t resist. The hike to Devil’s Bridge in Sedona was not easy.  Lend a sympathetic ear and I will tell you all about it. (groan/eye roll/cheesy grin)}}

It started out pleasant enough.

_NLG3579

Interesting looking flora…_NLG3575

Beautiful scenery…

_NLG3599

Beautiful, yes, but not much shade… OH LOOK!  Mountain-shaped shade!

_NLG3594
cool cloud, huh?

The problemS began when we realized where we parked was nowhere near the trailhead.  We started out on a primitive trail.

_NLG3578
my people

About 2 miles in, we saw a sign that the trailhead was “that way” (arrow pointing farther down the road)

is that it? please tell me that's it
is that it? please tell me that’s it

About a mile after that, we saw the trail head.  The actual hike up to the bridge from that point is only 0.7 mi, but by that time, the joy of “let’s go hiking!” was gone.  It was replaced by “we came all this way and *now* we have to climb up to the top of that rock?!”  We were hot and tired (we had Camelbaks because none of us had a deliberate death wish when we started out) and the youngest in our group was just d-o-n-e-done.  Since I’m the momma, I had to surrender as well.

Long story short, the only view I got was OF Devil’s Bridge rather than FROM Devil’s Bridge.

_NLG3596

I was disappointed since I didn’t get the shot I had hoped to get (from the top), so I played with sun flare to make myself feel better.

_NLG3593
this ended up being my favorite shot

It’s funny how the little things can brighten your day.  Literally.

Love Letter to Sedona

Sedona…you have bewitched me.

_NLG3495

First, with your red rocks that seemingly popped up out of nowhere as we turned a corner of Hwy 179.  The drive up I-17 from Phoenix was beautiful, but nothing like seeing you in the distance.  Va-va-va-voom!

After our first meeting, I knew you were special and I was drawn to more than your just physical beauty.  I breathed better when I was surrounded by you.  I felt better when I was ensconced in you.  And your climate?  Is Just. My. Type.  Warm (not hot!) during the day with little humidity, cool in the shade, and even cooler at night.  Hubba-hubba.

I took so many pictures of you that I felt stalker-ish.  I’ll never forget the first sunset we shared.  It was magical.

_NLG3479

_NLG3486

After the sun dipped below the horizon, you turned colors that took my breath away.

_NLG3489

There is a haze that settles down in your nooks and crannies and lends a softness to your landscape.

_NLG3511

Towards the end of our first meeting, you were a bit of diva, insisting the spotlight be turned on you.

_NLG3533I didn’t mind at all.  You deserve it.