Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Makeup Junkie

My makeup obsession is a direct result of my parent's divorce. I'm only sort of joking. 

How, you ask? 

I had begged and pleaded to wear makeup. I was 12. All the girls were wearing it. And so was Madonna. My parents were trying to ruin my life!! It was just mascara, eyeliner.....geesh! 

They turned me down. And turned me down again. Somehow in their crazy parent brains, makeup (and shaving legs but that's a different story) meant I'd be pregnant in high school. HAHAHA

Then my parents split. And my mom (I think in an effort to make dad mad) cut my hair and bought me makeup. Hallelujah! I would finally be pretty!! 

My mother (who still doesn't wear makeup) stood in the bathroom and told me to apply the light pink very very lightly to my eyelid and then swipe on some mascara. I was lucky a few weeks later when she allowed me to add some blue eyeshadow. No foundation, no eyeliner and DEFINITELY no lipstick. 

Yay, I was pretty! 

Then we moved to Oregon. I was 13. And I started hanging around Tracy, a friend I'd had for a while because of our moms but now we were friends because of us. Tracy taught me all kinds of great things like how to pick up boys, how to sneak out, and some other things that aren't suitable for a blog with no warning. She also taught me to sneak over to her house, use her makeup, make my hair big, and go out to pick up guys at the mall, pretending to be 16 or 17 so that the "older" boys would like us. (Oh god, I'm so glad I don't have girls!)

That was also the summer my dad told me he left my mom because she quit taking care of herself....she never fixed her hair or did her makeup. 

Voila'  - a makeup junkie was born! 

I think I'm pretty good at it. I've learned that it should generally be applied to enhance what you've already got, not cover it up in tacky crazy colors. I actually love it enough that in the perfect world, I'd be a makeup artist. So thinking about 2014, I decided to make that happen (or at least a version of it)....I've asked to help with the makeup for community productions at our local theater! 

So I thought I'd share some makeup tips in 2014. Just things that work for me. I'm not an expert - there's your warning.

To start with, I wanted to share this video on Youtube. I found her the other day when I was bored. In this video, she's showing how to get a 1920s look. My favorite thing about this video however is that she shares little pieces of history. Interesting facts (at least to someone like me). 

Then I spent my Sunday, in my pajamas, watching the Bears game (dang it, they lost) and did my makeup to sit around the house. 

Here's how it turned out. By the way, I should have made my eye makeup darker. Lesson learned. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Learning to Love Me

Stretch marks, flabby stomach, bat wings, cellulite, a weird belly button, ugly feet, gray hair, wrinkles that have suddenly appeared on my cheeks, weird bags under my eyes that no one else sees, sparse eyebrows, blonde short eyelashes, saggy boobs, hair that's turning gray, a flat butt, thick thighs.....

I'll just stop there. It's the short start of a long list of things I don't like about the way I look. I could keep going but I won't. 

On my annual bucket list, I always pick a challenge or two. This year, I've picked the challenge of all challenges. . .

to learn to love my body. 

To make the challenge even more daunting, I mean love it no matter my weight or my clothing size. I mean loving my body no matter what. 

I hate failure so I'm starting early. I have 352 days and I think I'm going to need every single one. 

I've spent a good amount of time the last few days reading a book, reading articles online, and basically researching how other's have learned to love their bodies. 

And I'm disappointed. 

I'm not saying there's a right way or a wrong way but for me, I can't learn to love my body by looking for acceptance from a man. No offense, but men are part of the reason I loathe my own skin. My first husband swore he cheated because I'd let myself go. Even my own dad told me when I was 15 that he cheated on mom because "she let herself go." My first boyfriend dictated how I look. Let's just say they haven't helped. 

I've read article after article that says that I should look at myself through "his" eyes.....the expert points out that most men are just excited to see you naked, that they don't care about your stretch marks or wrinkles or flabby butt. The experts seem to say accept yourself the way others see you. This seems just plain....


Accepting myself the way others see me is all well and good and fine if I'm looking through the eyes of someone who thinks I'm spectacular. But what about the person who doesn't? 

I want to learn to really love my body, not judge my own body based on someone else's opinion. The truth is there will always be someone who doesn't think I'm attractive or sexy or thinks my thighs are too jiggly, big, or whatever. Who cares? This is about me! 

I don't know how to make this happen but I'm trying. "How," you ask? 

Here's where I'm starting:
  • Permission - I am going to give myself permission to feel sexy, beautiful, and strong. Rarely (but occassionally), I'll have a moment where I look in the mirror and think, "Dang girl, not bad at all. In fact, you might be a little sexy Heather." Then just as quickly, I'm reminded by an inner voice that says I'm arrogant, superficial, and egotistical for thinking that so just as quickly I start pointing out the things that aren't so good. As of right now, I'm giving myself permission to feel sexy, beautiful, and strong. 
  • Banishing Negative Talk - Give a group of women five minutes and within 2 or 3, we'll be complaining about something related to how we look. Here's your warning friends...I will NOT participate in negative image talk. I will not complain about my thighs but I also won't listen to you complain about yours. Let's be each other's cheerleaders and avoid the body-bashing train wreck. 
  • Accept Compliments - It sounds and feels foreign but from now on, I'm going to just say thank you when someone compliments me. Gone are the days where I argue with you. When someone tells me I have great hair, I'm going to avoid telling them it's turning gray. When someone tells me I'm looking great, I'm not going to point out that I have 40 lbs left to go. I'm going to respond to compliments with Thank You. 
  • Marvel at the Magic - If I really think about it, my body is pretty magical. Oh, not like you think but last night, I was thinking of it like this....it's given birth to two amazing sons. Fed them even. My bones have been broken and healed. I had skin cancer removed and still my skin survived. I can walk, run even. It's been strong enough to carry an extra 80 lbs. I breathe, I live, I move...all with this body I'm quick to loathe. 
  • Dance - I'm going to admit something to you...the only time I really ever feel sexy is when I'm dancing like no one is watching. There's fluidity and grace and creativity and passion and a certain flowing quality. I usually think I lack grace and am more like a bull in a china shop, but when I dance, all that goes away. It's liberating to move your body to some awesome music. I don't even care if I'm a good dancer! 
Well, there's where I'm starting. I'd love other ideas. . . if you've got them, share them. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sleigh Bells Ring...

Imagine a field covered in pure white snow - not a single track save for an animal or two. Thousands of ice crystals blanket the ground, sparkling from the sunlight. The sun shining above and the deep blue sky contrasts with the white snow. All of this framed by majestic mountains and lots of trees.
Percheron horses stand in the snow

Big Percheron horses stand ready to pull a sled. The sled is filled with hay bales and a big fire glows, read to warm 20 to 30 people. It's a peaceful scene, save for the 10-15 kids ready to ride the sled around the field. The kids are bundled up, throwing snowballs, dunking each other in the snow. The adults stand around the fire, drinking hot chocolate and homemade peppermint schnapps or coffee with homemade Kahlua. Big pots of chili warming by the fire. The adults are visiting, the kids are laughing - when the family patriarch Joe steps up and grabs the reins. Kids pile on the sled, a few of the adults leave the fire to join the ride. 

The sled lunges forward as the horses take off. They find their groove and make the first cut into the snow. The kids are smiling, pushing each other off the back of the sled - running to catch up and get back on. The sled makes several passes through the field. The kids are frozen, the adults are happy.

This is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Growing up in beautiful southwestern Colorado, our family was lucky enough to call the Kolz family friends. They welcomed us as if we were family and every December, invited us to their place for sled rides and fun. Twenty to thirty of us would gather to ring in the holiday season.

Thinking about the Kolz family and these magical days always puts Christmas into perspective for me. It's easy to get stressed about whether I've bought enough, done enough, been perfect enough.

And then I smile and realize that my favorite Christmas memories have nothing to do with presents. It's about memories.

Let me share a few others:

  • My grandparents lived in Oregon and one year, we drove through the night (at least that's the way it seemed) to surprise them. We knocked on their door and I'll never forget the look on their faces. Mom swore we'd never surprise them again...she was afraid they'd have a heart attack. 
  • My other grandma lived in Tuscon. Grandma Carmen wasn't always the nicest and she didn't give the best gifts. But we'd drive for hours - my sister and I in the back seat, reading our Archie comic books, singing Christmas Carols, reading road signs, and eating a lot of junk food. The year my sister learned to read was also the year I got my first tape recorder. We made my grandma a tape for Christmas. From Colorado to Tuscon, I sang songs in my little 8 or 9 year old voice while my sister recorded herself reading every single road sign for miles and miles. A few years ago, my aunt gave me the tape and I smiled as I listened to it. A moment in time captured forever....my sis's little voice proud to be reading, my voice proudly singing before anyone took away my confidence. 
  • Stockings were always a big deal in our family. To this day, it's my favorite part of the present process. My mom would fill our huge stockings with goofy toys, nail polish, lip gloss, candy and other silly little trinkets. Our stockings would be over flowing while my mom's hung empty. One year when I was about 10, my sister and I talked about the injustice - mom never had anything in her stocking. With no money, we whipped up a plan to fill it up. We scoured the house for treasures. We found lighters mom had lost. Pens that had been lost in the couch cushions. We drew pictures, wrote her notes....and we proudly filled that stocking with our home's lost and found treasures. 
  • My first Christmas with Marcus - he was 8 months old. I remember his smiles and giggles as he played in the wrapping paper. Crawling around on the floor, sticking bows to his forehead and climbing up on my lap with the biggest grin. 
  • My second Christmas with Chad - I was in recovery from a tubal pregnancy that had ruptured, resulting in emergency surgery. I was depressed, lost inside myself, and focused more on the baby I lost than the family I had. Chad and Marcus went out one day, leaving me alone. They returned with the biggest Christmas tree I'd ever seen in my life. It literally filled half our living room. They turned on the Christmas music and set about to cheer me up. 

I know I'm forgetting some but every year, a few days before Christmas, I want to run out and buy more things. I want to spend the last few dollars I have to buy more. And then, I put everyone in bed, turn off all the lights except for the Christmas tree, sit on the couch with a cup of tea, and think back on my favorite Christmas memories. And I am reminded that Christmas doesn't come in a box. Merry Christmas everyone! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Last year on Pinterest, I saw a post for a "Our Favorite Things Party" and loved the idea. Over the years, I've had card exchange parties and cookie exchange parties but this sounded much more fun - boy was I right!

The invitation
To begin with, I picked a date and created an invitation.

Normally I would invite my close circle of friends but I decided to extend invitations to women I've met through the Chamber of Commerce that I thought I'd like to know a little better.

The rules were simple:

Pick your favorite thing under $6, purchase 5, wrap them up and bring them to the party. It could be a beauty item, a kitchen gadget, or something else. 

Then I had the fun of planning the menu and decorating the house. I scoured pinterest for recipes and decorating ideas.

And here's where I make an admission.....I'm not Martha Stewart and I cheated! 

Normally, I'd make everything from scratch and strive for perfection....making myself crazy with recipes filled with butter and cheese and bacon and deliciousness. I'd be worn out from baking, cooking, cleaning....this year, I focused on the one or two things I do really really well and then opted for some pre-made things to save me some stress.

The other 'cheat' I did was to allow my friends to bring something. I hate to throw a party and ask my guests to bring anything. It just doesn't feel right. I got over that this year. Everyone asked, "What can I bring?" My pride started to say nothing but truth is, money's a little tight and time's a little short so I started giving them ideas. It worked well and everyone thinks next year's party should be potluck!

The gifts pile up under the tree
Ok, on to the fun. The guests began to arrive and my little house was soon packed with amazing women and fun packages.

We started having a few drinks, eating some food, introducing eachother.

It was fun to have an eclectic group of ladies at my house and be able to introduce people who hadn't had a chance to meet yet.

At one point, someone decided to play "Six Degrees of Heather" and everyone talked about their connection to me.

I know how I feel about each of these women but it was really heartwarming to hear them talk about me (and a LOT embarassing haha).

There were women I'd met through my kids sporting events. Women I'd met through my ex-husband (he was a firefighter).
A woman I'd met when I purchased a black lab from her.
And of course, women I knew from work.

Me and Rachael  - she started as a volunteer
on my events and is now a good friend

They all had something in common.....beautiful, caring, kind, generous, and incredibly funny!!

Then the gift giving began.

Each of us grabbed our gifts, said a little something about our "favorite thing" and then drew five names to give the gift to. Each of us ended up with five gifts at the end. It was full of laughs and so interesting to see what our "favorite things" were.

We got socks, lotion, lip gloss, tea, candles, gift certificates for a book or a coffee, chocolates, champagne, kitchen hand towels, scarves, and rubber spatulas.

Laurie (in the middle) and her daughter Adrienne on the left- 
I know them through my ex-husband. Laurie and I fish together
each year. Cathy on the right - we met through our oldest
sons football careers:) 

But mostly we got a few laughs, lots of cheer, and the opportunity to celebrate friendship and the holiday season! I think this is a new tradition!

 A few photos from the evening:
Valerie (on the left) and I met through the Ford Family Program.
She's truly one of the most beautiful women I know. I'll write
about her sometime.
Angee (on the right) and I have a funny history. I dated her ex-husband and
when we parted ways, her and I have remained

Tashia (on the left) owns Tashi Soap Company - maker of the best lotion
on the planet. I don't know her well but I really like her.
Kristi (on the right) is one of my best friends.
I've known her the longest here in Klamath. Our boys are friends. 

Judi (on the left) is a new friend. I met her during a football game
when I realized she was the only mom in the stands louder than me.
Amber (on the right) has a son who's friends with Nate. 
Shannon (standing) sold me a black lab.  Melinda
(sitting in the middle) owns several wonderful stores and has
become a good friend. 

Amanda (middle) left her job at the Chamber, creating an
opening for me to attempt to take her place. Shari (right) and
I first met when her ex-husband coached Nate's
tee-ball team five years ago. 

My new favorite Christmas drink -
Peppermint White Russian yum!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2014 List - 39 by 39

Yesterday, I turned 38. I celebrated with friends and family. I got a few gifts, enjoyed a few laughs, and had a bit too much to drink. 

All last week, I thought about my 39 by 39 list. What would make the list? What's important to me? What types of things could I add that don't cost a lot of money? I did pretty well with last year's list.

Without further adieu, here's my 39 by 39 list:

39 by 39

  1. Receive my certificate in web design
  2. Try standup paddleboarding
  3. Climb Mt. McLoughlin
  4. Create a website
  5. Be on stage
  6. Sew a skirt of dress with fabric I love
  7. Save $2000
  8. Visit Cheya
  9. Cross a finish line
  10. Get a tattoo
  11. Dance (outside my house, somewhere besides my kitchen)
  12. Conquer a fear
  13. Start my memoir
  14. Hike Stuart Falls trail
  15. Be able to hold plank for 2 minutes
  16. Learn to love my body (oh this one's going to be HARD)
  17. Be able to do 20 proper pushups
  18. Be a bridesmaid in a beautiful wedding
  19. Sleep under the stars
  20. Complete six passport nights
  21. Master three yoga poses (mountain, Warrior 1, and bridge)
  22. Ride my bike to work
  23. Start a regular weight training regime
  24. go camping
  25. take a fashion risk
  26. get my passport
  27. take the kids on a vacation
  28. Visit Lassen Park
  29. Go to a play in Ashland
  30. Decorate my bedroom
  31. Teach my kids to cook
  32. Take a weekend trip without the kids and cut loose
  33. Kiss in the rain
  34. Plan and save for Marc's graduation trip
  35. Buy a swimsuit and wear it
  36. Do something awesome for Marc's 18th bday
  37. Go to Reno for the Santa Pub Crawl in December
  38. Go to my 20 year class reunion
  39. Go to Chozu Gardens in Ashland
And there it is. Looks like a lofty list of goals. I'm a little terrified of failure. Fingers crossed!! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

38 x 38 - Best Shape in 10 Years

Every year on my bucket list, I end up with "lose xx pounds." One year it was 50 lbs. One year it was 30 lbs.

This year, I changed it up and didn't add an amount. I just wanted to "get in the best shape I've been in in 10 years." I figured that way even if I only lost 10 lbs, I had won.

So in May, as you know, I started Take Shape for Life. My health coach worked with me, I started reading Dr. A's Habits of Health (highly recommend) and I started losing weight. I lost 10, then 20, and before I knew it, I had lost 50 lbs. And I kept going.

I now weigh less than I have in 17 years. And I'm only 15 lbs away from my weight when I got pregnant with my oldest son eighteen years ago. That is significant because it's also the last time I remember liking my body.

So without further adieu, let's mark that one off the list and show some pictures:

So, the stats are....I've lost 80 lbs and many many many inches!! I think I can call that a success. I have about 40 more to go. Sweet!!

As we head into resolution season, I'm happy to help you reach your goals. Let me know if you want to know more!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

38 x 38 - Take a Class on Photoshop

I've always wanted to learn how to use photoshop. Admittedly, I really wanted to know 80 lbs ago so that I could make myself look thinner. hahahahahah

Photoshop classes aren't offered often here in Klamath so I took some down time to try a few online tutorials. Of course, I started with beauty retouching tutorials. The key here is to not change them drastically. I thought this was a good resource (although one or two of the links didn't work).

So I took a decent picture of myself (instead of trying to start with something horrible):

And then I lightened it, got rid of a few stray hairs (look at the top of my head), gave myself a nip/tuck in the chin area and whitened my eyes to make them stand out a little more behind my glasses. I think for having never done it before it's not too bad.

Then I messed with a landscape photo.



Mark it off my list!! I'm not an expert but it's a start.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Story of Faith

If I had to choose a defining moment in my life, it would be April 17, 1996 around 6 a.m.

The moment I held proof in my arms that God exists. 

This is what's on my mind today as we celebrate the Christmas season - the birth of Jesus Christ. You may have heard this story - I've told it on occasion but I wanted to share it again. (and yes, I know I have very close friends who don't believe but read along anyway:) 

The backstory:

Until that moment on a cold April day, I didn't believe in God.

Oh but I believed in Hell. 

I was about 10 or 11 the first time I went to church. A friend invited me to Sunday school and promised they'd have ice cream. Well then....count me in! We went and played games and the guy talked about a man named Abraham, a woman named Ruth, blah blah blah.....just get me to the ice cream. 

I went several times over the years to that Baptist Church (half my friends went there). I went just enough times to scare me into believing that I was surely going to hell. I listened to rock music, wanted to kiss a boy, and had thought mean things about my little sister. I didn't believe in God but thanks to that church, I certainly believed in Hell. 

And then there was the Catholic Church in town. It was beautiful, majestic, and seemed to hold powers inside its walls. The other half of my friends went there. I was jealous of the blessed palm fronds that they hung above their bed. I wanted palm fronds. I wanted the ash mark on my forehead. So I went. I listened to him talk about crucifixion and resurrection and being saved. 

And I smiled and trembled with excitement as I broke the rules and walked up to take communion. It was against all the rules and it felt really good. As I stood in line, I wondered if the priest would know. If he could detect that I hadn't been through the secret ceremony that would make me worthy of receiving the little cracker and the drop of wine. I wondered if I'd burst into flames. Again, I didn't really believe in God but I definitely believed something greater would punish me. 

And then, my friends explained confession to me. And it seemed silly. Unbelievable. I have parents and I could tell you that simply "confessing" your wrong-doings would certainly NOT just wash your sins away. And while I'd only been to church periodically, I was definitely learning that there were a LONG list of sins and even at 12, I was a sinner!!

Then I'd lay awake at night wondering how if there was nothing, there could be something and that something would create everything. Yeah, right. Nope, not a believer. 

And then I lost a few friends. And watched a few friends go through horrific things. And then felt the pain as I went through some terrible things. And I watched good people die and bad people live. And I'd wonder if there was a God why he didn't answer the three or four prayers I'd said in my lifetime. 

I rarely gave God another thought unless I was arguing with my religious friends...making fun of them. 

The rest of the story:
After hours of labor, the moment had come. It was April 17th in the early morning when the doctor told me I had a boy. They placed Marcus in my arms and I looked down into the eyes of this little being that had just come from me. I made some kind of motherly noise from deep within as I marveled at it and I remember his little blue eyes meeting mine. 

And my very first thought I remember with perfect clarity was....

"There really is a God!!" 

And for days, weeks, even now, I marvel at His magic. There's no way it could be explained by science alone. There's magic in the world and while I know the science behind it, there are some things that must have just a little piece of magic. 

Now I've never embraced "religion" or church. I despise the rules that seem to have no basis. I dislike the "ceremony" that doesn't seem rooted in anything that matters. And I really don't like the judgmental attitudes.

And I'm glad I finally know God without the fear of Hell.

So I celebrate Jesus' birth this holiday season. And the joy, magic, and hope that He brings to my life. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vision 2014

Have you ever created a vision board for your goals? Me either. But I have 40 more lbs to lose and a good friend suggested making one, hanging it in a few places, and using it for some extra motivation. I thought it'd be a good idea. 

I'm not really lacking motivation. But when you go from nearly 300 lbs to under 200, it's easy to think you've made it. It's easy to get complacent, happy with the way you look. In other words, it'd be really easy for me right now to say I'm done and I'd probably be satisfied. I could keep it off even. I look at my old pictures and think "Dang girl, you look great now." 

But I'm not done. 40 more (I think) to go. Plus I need to add some fitness goals in there. So I took my friend's advice and made a vision board. 

As usual, I nearly overthought it. I sometimes think I should have more noble goals....but the truth is most of it's pretty shallow.

I could tell you that I want to live a long time (and that's true) but honestly, it's a lot about looks. 
And clothes. 
The ability to wear the clothes I want. 
To feel sexy. 
To dance and move more gracefully. 
To be comfortable in my skin. 

There's a few others. I need more hiking time. More mountain climbing. More physical activity. 

to be a role model. An example. 

to be tattooed. (ok, I already am, but I want more)

to be a hot 40 year old. Don't judge - it's my vision:) 

Monday, December 2, 2013

38 x 38 - A Handwritten Letter

In my treasures, some of those that I hold most dear are handwritten letters. It began when I was young and I'd look forward to receiving mail from my Great Grandma. Her handwriting was beautiful - loopy and graceful. Her letter written on a piece of stationary she'd handpicked. My name written clearly on the envelope. I rarely wrote her back.

Later, I had a pen pal here and there as part of a school program. I always looked forward to the letters in the mail filled with stories from other parts of the world. I'd write back about what happens in our school, descriptions of our little town in Colorado, and lament about this or that.

When my parents divorced, my dad would send letters to me often. He'd send me a note in his awful chicken scratch handwriting and share with me his thoughts. It was not uncommon for him to include a piece of poetry he'd written. I'd write back and I found it was sometimes easier to say what was on my mind in a letter versus over the phone. I'd send back a piece of my own poetry and then later, we'd talk about it on the phone.

When my grandma passed the family bible on to me, I was thrilled to find letters neatly tucked inside. Many dated to the 1920s to family members I never knew. These letters tell of a different time. Back to a time when we couldn't log on to facebook and be accosted by details of every minute of every day for each of our friends. These letters share news on the weather, updates on the kids, and my favorite ones...the love letters expressing undying devotion and fondness.

As an adult, I write little notes to the kids all the time. I slip the notes in their lunch box, under their pillows, or even write notes on the bathroom mirror. Nate and I have a notebook we pass back and forth. He writes something to me whenever he feels like it, passes it to me, and then when I feel like it, I write back.

But I don't normally write letters. It's so much easier to type an email, send a text, or pick up the phone to call. And I don't receive letters either which bums me out.

So this year, I added "Write a handwritten letter once a month" to my annual bucket list.

It was harder than you'd think. We are all so connected via internet and cell phones that sometimes it feels as if I have nothing to share. I also believe we've lost our ability to story tell. We're so used to the "status" update on Facebook that we write the same way - "Kids are good. I'm well. Work's going good."

It takes work to write an interesting letter.

And then there's the "who" - who the heck are you going to send a letter to that you don't communicate with on a regular basis. Unfortunately for me, I had two people in my life in situations that made regular communication difficult so I chose to write to them.

Alex joined the military and while he was at boot camp, regular communication was impossible. Then he left
A surprise visitor this weekend -
Alex stopped in to see Nate!
for pre-deployment training and again, was incommunicado. He never wrote back but occassionally called on the phone and let me know he appreciated the notes from Klamath. I shared news of our lives, what Nate and Marc were up to, and just general Klamath happenings.

He was away from home and just wanted to feel connected.

(A holiday note: when we returned from Burns this weekend, Alex was in town unexpectedly. He stopped by to give Nate a hug, stuck around for some xbox for a minute, and then left to return to more pre-deployment training).

And then there was another good friend of mine who will go unnamed. My beautiful friend had made a mistake that snowballed to another mistake and so on and so forth. Long story short, she ended up in jail for six months. She was so embarassed that she hadn't even told me. I remember her being stressed, I remember wondering why I hadn't heard from her in a month or two. And then I discovered why. I called the jail and got her address. Sent her a letter. It was short and sweet and let her know she was on my mind. It took a month for her to write back and in it, she told me most of the story.

As I had guessed, she was embarassed to tell me so she didn't. Letter writing made it easier to open up. I wrote to her regularly. I didn't share everything in my day-to-day like I did with Alex. We shared thoughts, fears, and worries. Our letters were "deeper" if you will. I didn't feel right lamenting the big shoe sale I missed out on or how bad I disliked this or that....she was in jail and it all seemed insignificant. Instead, I told her my worries about the kids and she shared her fears about her own kids. We talked about our shortfalls but also our strengths. My letters were filled with encouragement and well-wishes but also some of my innermost thoughts.

She was away from home and just wanted to feel loved.

I wrote two letters every single month this year. And I have a feeling I'll continue on. Now if someone would just write back.......:)