Closing your eyes.

Seems like an easy thing, right?

Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Just breathe.

Forget about what you did yesterday, what you forgot to do. What you need to do later. Think about this:

Feel the air moving in through your nose, filling you from head to toe. Exhale. Feel it rise from your toes all the way up and out of your mouth.

Which each breath, focus on the parts of your body that are the most tense. Which each exhale, release that tension.

Go.

Happy Things

Know what’s happy?

A good cup of coffee.

Cuddling on the couch with a plate of frybread and a movie on a Sunday morning before church.

Friends singing along to songs that you wrote.

Making mothers smile.

Knowing that you don’t have to make the world turn, it just does.

Knowing that with all the terrible music out there, there are tons of beautiful songs.

Knowing that you are right where you need to be, even if you don’t know why.

Trusting things will always work out for the best.

God.

“Ladies! The word for this evening is ‘counter-intuitive’!”

…says the enthusiastic man who, with his group of friends, merged with my friend, my sister, and me, as we headed to our car at about 1:30am last night (this morning?).

Warning: What follows is an unacceptably long, terribly edited, and grammatical-error filled marathon blog post attempting to re-cap my entire weekend. Thank you for reading (or attempting to read) my blog.

Today is Sunday of Pentecost.  I told myself as I lay my head down on the pillow at 4am this morning that I wasn’t going to set my alarm and if God wanted me to get to church, He’ll wake me up in time. Guess who woke up at 9:15 am? THIS girrrrrl… And apparently my power had flickered off and on because my clock wasn’t even set.  It’s as if God was saying “I don’t need no stinkin’ alarm clock!”

And how could I argue with God?  Or my cat? Who had also decided that it was time for me to get up and that it was time to feed him. So I roused from my slumber, threw on a dress, brushed my teeth, grabbed some coffee and made for the church.  The service was beautiful as we thanked God for sending the Holy Spirit down upon us, asked for continued blessings, and praised, and worshiped, and glorified. It felt good and now I’m home, sitting on my porch with some hummus, bread, olives, and a fruit smoothie, enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze with my mutt by my side and typing this here extremely long run-on sentence that would probably make my English prof cringe and say, “Great content, but it’s definitely not APA.”  (Prof.Potter = Best English prof ever, by the way.)

I had one of the best weekends ever. The only thing that could improve it is if my son was here with me.  I don’t really like saying “best weekend ever” or “best day” or “best experience” blah blah blah, mainly because there are SOOO many wonderful experiences in a lifetime that I feel like classifying just one of them as “the best” discounts the others.  Of COURSE the BEST day of my life was when Ethan came into it, but what if I have another child in the future? Would THAT birth be the best day ever, what happens to ETHAN’s day??? It’s so confusing….Anyway…

This is me tuning my guitar in the ladies room. Only place I could hear myself!

It started off with an exhausted me leaving work and going STRAIGHT to Brandywine Hundred Fire Hall. I was supposed to open the show at 6:10pm, but I didn’t arrive until 6:10pm.  But thankfully neither did half of the other people involved due to seriously bad traffic and an impending storm. So that worked out. Then I had an encore performance at 9pm. This was for the Homeless Children Backpack Drive , which is sponsored by Faith Victory Christian Center. Their goal is to raise enough money to provide 1k backpacks for homeless children and children in need for the new school year. It’s a pretty awesome cause. Even just as a single parent, I feel the financial stress over the back to school season approaching. I can’t imagine having to deal with that in a more stressful environment. A few friends came to the show and by the end of the night I’d made new friends as well, including the beautiful and OH so talented TLisa. We ended the night sharing the mic and singing worship music until everyone had left.

Afterwards, my friend Kristin and I went back to my apartment and giggled like schoolgirls over video clips of Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans.  You can only do this sort of thing with people you truly love and trust (and hope that they don’t post it on the internet… oh wait..).

SO SATURDAY… came along, and like most Saturday mornings I was teaching classes.  Though stretching turned into a one on one gabfest (we stretched while we talked, I SWEAR) with one of our best students and kind of just molded into meditation and tai chi.  Those are great mornings, though.  We talked for a good hour about spirituality, how negative and positive energies influence your life and how much power we have over all of it.  We talked about healing energy and forgiveness and how the lack of those two things affects the world around us.. and I got an idea… An idea that I hope to bring to fruition, but that’s all I’ll say about that for now. Just trust me, it’s a good idea and I hope we can make it happen!

After that it was adults, then kids kung fu classes. I taught the adults to be more flexible and relax and I taught the kids to pretend they’re superheroes. Both techniques resulted in the desired outcome (adults with less injuries, kids with more confidence and more interest in their martial art), and even though I entered the office to grab my things,  all sweaty and gross after working out, and ran into a room full of good looking men all dressed up for a wedding, I left feeling pretty good and also pretty tired.

I was supposed to go out that evening. I was supposed to meet up with my sister and some of the Boondock Betties Brigade after Comic Con in Philly (because my stupid self decided not to go **BEFORE** I found out Chris Hemsworth and Stan Lee were going to be there) … but I was getting SLEEPY… and plans were kind of shady, so my couch was looking all the more inviting.  But then Paige texted me and told me she was going anyway and considering I haven’t seen her in a year and she was driving up from Baltimore, I figured what the heck. I can make an effort. Thank God I did because we had a BLAST.

First: A little background.

The Boondock Betties (if you hadn’t checked out the link previously mentioned) formed in 2010 after a group of my friends, myself included, were harrassed by an obsessed fan of Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints, The Walking Dead).  We had all become friendly with Reedus via Twitter (and thanks to the awesome people at WMMR for letting us hang out back in 2009) and this girl decided to target us because she was jealous. I know, crazy, right? So anyway, it lead us down a fun journey of adventures, new friends, new songs (*ahem* to which Reedus proclaimed: I am a truck load of bad ass. Yep. And yes, I saved that DM because how often does one get a kick ass song review like that from a FRIGGIN BOONDOCK SAINT (and now a bad ass zombie killer (and I just want to add one more parenthesis))) and damn good times. Fast forward to last night:

I met up with Paige around 9:30 and we were waiting for everyone else to arrive so we wandered around the city. I only know Paige via twitter and she’d come up for the Comic Con last year where we met briefly, so it was nice to wander around the city and have some girltalk time before the evening began. We talked about douchebags, hot guys, hot douchebags, catty females, what we want to be when we grow up, and much more. Eventually our feet took us to Love Park after we had been walking for about a half an hour.

Love Park

Paige likey.

I got a text from my sister and she said she was drunk, as was her friend, but they were going to take the subway and meet us there in ten minutes, so we opted to wait. Makes sense, right? Ten minutes. Good.  We sat and watched the skaters and the random people taking pictures around the fountain and the LOVE statue and talked and talked and… 45 minutes go by. “…Where the heck is my sister?” I continue to wonder and I text and call with no response. Finally a few more minutes pass and she texts me back.

Mary: “We got off at City Hall” (City Hall is across the street from Love Park)
Me: “…Where are you? If I yell Marko, will you yell Polo?”
Mary: “Yes”

So I did, and we found each other. Gotta love Philly!

We made our way back to the hotel where our friends who had volunteered at the convention were relaxing on the restaurant patio and joined them and made merry for a little while longer.  A beautiful evening with plenty of people walking by still in their costumes and lots of conversation pieces. Even George came out to say hello.

Sean and Norman eventually joined us for a little while, which was a welcomed surprise. I didn’t realize Norman was even in town! I asked him why and he said he was supposed to go to the Spike awards for a cast award, but he didn’t want to go if the rest of the cast didn’t. “Fuck that, we’re a team!” he said.  Good answer!  So I got to show him some of my brother’s artwork, which he thought was awesome. Which I thought was awesome. Which my brother thought was AMAZING when I called him to tell him that Norman Reedus thinks his artwork is awesome and would love for him to do a sculpture of Daryl Dixon. That was the first thing that made my night.  THEN I got on Twitter and the drummer for one of my all time favorite bands, Silverchair, was blowing up Twitter with some game he was playing. I sent him a tweet asking what the game was about and… and… and… he RESPONDED!

—This is me geeking out—

BEN GILLIES RESPONDED TO MY TWEET!!!!

BEN GILLIES RETWEETED MY RESPONSE TO HIS TWEET!!!

BEN GILLIES! THE DRUMMER FROM SILVERCHAIR! THE BAND THAT I’VE BEEN IN LOVE WITH SINCE I WAS A KID! WHOSE FRONTMAN I WANTED TO MARRY! *****HAS ACKNOWLEDGED MY EXISTENCE****.

hahahahaha… Okay. —-Geek out over—

…I need a break after that. Enjoy this song. By Silverchair.

(jsyk, I have since grown up and realized that hoping to marry a complete stranger is a bad idea (I was joking, too!).  I will say, however, that I would seriously and most definitely LOVE to work with him. He’s an amazing songwriter, musician, and producer. )

And that concludes our intermission. Shall we continue?

SO… After my outburst of “OMG Ben Gillies RT’d my tweet!” and everyone looking at me like “who TF is Ben Gillies?” I was convinced that God was certainly smiling on this very evening. Here I am, sitting with my best friend/sister, friends, Boondock Saints, and more, getting tweeted at by Ben Gillies, and it was only midnight. Or somewhere around there.

My sister’s friend who is very sweet and my co-maid of honor for her wedding had absolutely no idea what was going on, which was amusing to me.  She didn’t realize that she was talking to “the guy from Walking Dead” until he’d left, which was adorable. And she kept calling him the wrong name. Which was even cuter. She was also too shy to ask Sean Patrick Flanery for a photo, so she asked me to take a photo of her with him in the background. See?

Rachel saying hello while Sean texts in the background.

Moment after, I said something about boobs and that caught his attention. Ha!

After another hour of good conversation and good company we decided it was time to go. Walking to the car, we crossed paths with a group of guys, when one of them turns to us and says “Ladies! Where ya going?!”

“Home!” I say, happily.
“What?! The night is young! Don’t go home! Come with us!” says the tall guy with dark hair and glasses.
I laughed and just kept walking. We were all walking in the same direction, so he continued.
“Chris Helmsworth is there! C’mon it’s a geek party!”
To which I replied, laughing. “Chris HEMSworth? No he’s not!”
And his friend points at me, “SEE! SHE knows!”
“Of COURSE I know who THOR is!” I laughed. Mary and Rachel were giggling, still a lil’ tipsy.
Then he says, “Ladies! The word for this evening is ‘COUNTER-INTUITIVE’!  Throw caution to the wind! Come with us! There are adventures to be had!……..I’ll buy you ALL a drink!”
To which Rachel responds with, “SOLD!”
And they all shouted “SOLD!” in celebration.

And that’s how we ended up here:

And this was our new friend (for the half hour or so) photo-bombing us:

I asked what his name was and he said Dennis, and since he had a drink in hand, we shook pinkies instead of hands.  I asked him what he did, and he said he was a comic book artist.  A google search later and I found out it was this guy —-> Dennis Calero. Which is pretty awesome. He was definitely entertaining!

And Rachel was so excited, she thought she met a *real* ghostbuster (needless to say it was not a real ghostbuster)…but again was too shy to ask him for a photo, so she just had me snap a picture while he was behind her.

Did I not mention she is adorable?  After dancing around all silly and having another drink (for them, not for me) we finally headed home. Devouring 9 delicious vegan banana nut muffins I had made earlier that day on the way.

It took an extra half hour or so to get them home, because taking directions from drunk people is not exactly a reliable means of getting around, but it was worth it. We had a great time and I rolled up at home around 4….. at which point I heard a rooster crowing.

You see, I live in the city.

There are no chicken farms here.

WHERE the HELL would that rooster be crowing from? Do…I want to know?

This is probably the longest blog post I’ve ever written. Here are some more pictures. Enjoy.

Me at 4am. My hair is getting so long it cant fit in the lens.

George pwns.

What *does* an Avenger smell like? I think Tony Stark would be the best smelling one because I think he’d care more about how he smells then the rest. Cpt. America second. But Thor might smell like dirt, blood, and metal. God knows what Hulk would smell like. And I can’t imagine the Black Widow putting on perfume. Unless she was doing her spy thing.

George is a lush. And a ladies man.

Just a little note:
I did this all sober, kids. I don’t drink. You shouldn’t drink! Or you might end up in some sober person’s blog! 😉

This is what Saturday looks like!

Saturday morning began like this….

CMAC Kids warming up for kung fu class.

Then, after a few hours of classes, I got to see a beautiful little girl enjoy her 2nd birthday party. This beautiful little girl also happens to be my best friend’s babygirl, Rowan. Isn’t she precious?

Rowan and her cute cake!

And here’s another, because you need more cuteness in your life.

Rowan loves Elmo!

THEN… If you thought Saturday was over? Oh no! You were wrong.
THEN I got to sing the national anthem HERE:

(Click the link for details on the school) MVJ Athletics Boxing Event


It was so fun to get up and sing in front of my martial arts family 🙂

Oh… but the fun isn’t over yet! After I stayed for the first match I headed on over to the Grand Opera House in Wilmington to see these fine musicians play a few wonderful tunes.

Gayle (Gable Music Ventures) with The Paper Janes


Well, Gayle didn’t play any music, I just thought this picture was cute.

But did you think Saturday was over? Because it’s not! By far!
Next, I got to hang out with some pretty rad folks (which happened to be the same people at the Grand, amazing how that works,right?)

Taking pictures of them taking pictures outside the Grand.

Well, Sarah wasn’t at the Grand, but I made sure she came out and spent some time with us!

L/R: Sarah Czechowski, Me, Jessica Latshaw.
Hanging out at Chelsea Tavern with Jeremy Hebbel, Gayle Dillman (Gable Music Ventures), Rod Kim, and Vince Cirino.

And…THAT… is what Saturday looks like. 🙂

OH, but before you go. Here’s a little diddy put forth by Em McKeever. Yep, she played the Grand that night as well.

Goodnight!

Thankful for Fleas.

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–‘

The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’

‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.

“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”

“They started arriving soon after 6:00 o’clock, the women of Barracks 28, tired, sweat-stained, and dirty from the long forced-labor details. The building, we learned from one of our platform mates, had been designed to hold four hundred. There were now fourteen hundred quartered here with more arriving weekly as concentration camps in Poland, France, Belgium, Austria, as well as Holland were evacuated toward the center of Germany.

There were nine of us sharing our particular square, designed for four, and some grumbling as the others discovered they would have to make room for Betsie and me. Eight acrid and overflowing toilets served the entire room; to reach them we had to crawl not only over our own bedmates but over those on the other platforms between us and the closest aisle, always at the risk of adding too much weight to the already sagging slats and crashing down on the people beneath.

Even when the slats held, the least movement on the upper platforms sent a shower of dust and straw over the sleepers below–followed by a volley of curses. In Barracks 8 most of us had been Dutch. Here there was not even a common language and among exhausted, ill-fed people quarrels erupted constantly.

There was one raging now as the women sleeping nearest the windows slammed them shut against the cold. At once scores of voices demanded that they be raised again. Brawls were starting all up and down that side of the room; we heard scuffling, slaps, sobs.

In the dark, I felt Betsie’s hand clasp mine. ‘Lord Jesus,’ she said aloud, ‘send Your peace into this room. There has been too little praying here. The very walls know it. But where You come, Lord, the spirit of strife cannot exist…’

The change was gradual, but distinct. One by one the angry sounds let up.

‘I’ll make you a deal!’ The voice spoke German with a strong Scandinavian accent. ‘You can sleep in here where its warmer and I’ll take your place by the window!’

‘And add your lice to my own!’ But there was a chuckle in the answer. ‘No thanks.’

‘I’ll tell you what!’ The third voice had a French burr. ‘We’ll open them halfway. That way we’ll be only half-frozen and you’ll be only half-smothered.’

A ripple of laughter widened around the room at this. I lay back on the sour straw and knew there was one more circumstance for which I could give thanks. Betsie had come to Barracks 28.

…..There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.

One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,’ I told her.

‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’

That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.

‘But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?’

Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!'”

“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books, “The Hiding Place”. The Ten Booms were Christians who were arrested by nazis for hiding Jews and sent to concentration camps during the holocaust. Whenever things get difficult… or I’m in an unfavorable circumstance… I think of Betsie’s steadfast faith. That woman was amazing. Absolutely amazing. If you’re interested, please do check out http://www.corrietenboom.com.