Isn’t Life Beautiful?

Isn’t life beautiful?  After all, you only get one!  I highly recommend watching this amazing video: http://www.wimp.com/survivorsay/

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How incredibly moving was that?!  I am lost for words.  It was just so inspiring.  Sometimes I feel like “time is running out” and I have to get my education moving and my career on the go etc., and women have more of a “biological clock” then men do, so what about trying to have children?  That is a lot to take on over the next decade, and sometimes I feel like I am sort of “behind schedule”.  But then I stop and think, behind what schedule?  Who made these schedules about the so called order of things….education, marriage, buy a house, have kids?  And who says I need to be doing any of these things even at all?  I have to stop and remind myself that this phenomenon of social pressure is what is making me feel like I am “running out of time”, and that I am “behind schedule”, that I should be developing in this quite normal of a pattern, which isn’t for everyone.  I am 24 years old and I have been married for going on 4 years this August, with no kids.  But that doesn’t mean I  don’t want children of my own someday!  It’s just that right now, in this very moment, what is important to both the Artist and myself is reaching our education and career goals, and enjoying each other to the maximum.

This can sometimes be a great source of stress for me, but after watching this video, it completely diminishes.  And I think this source of stress itself is going to completely vanish, because Alice makes such a good point: everything in life is beautiful.

It really is, isn’t it?  If we don’t stop and smell the roses, where is the enjoyment in life?  Finding passion, being interested in new things, and as one of the ladies in this video said, “putting as much into your head as possible, because no one can take that away from you”.  I really like this statement.  Because you may not have a lot of material things, or money in the bank, but if you have passion within, you will always have that inside, and you can experience it whenever you want.  This video was so inspiring, to empower myself, to inspire myself, and to see the beauty in life every day.  She talks about her love for music, and how Beethoven is a miracle, and how intensely she feels the music, is very similar to what I was trying to write about during my experience at the St. Louis Symphony: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/a-passionate-life-filled-with-love/

There is another video that I love, and highly recommend viewing: http://twentytwowords.com/sweet-old-lady-smiles-and-waves-at-passing-kids-every-day-they-finally-show-her-what-it-means-to-them/

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Amazing, eh?

What I love about this video, and how far a simple, friendly gesture goes to making life that much more beautiful.  One of my best friends in the world is a 70-something year old lady whom I carpool with to go volunteering at a domestic violence agency, and she is so full of love and life, it is contagious.  She is so sweet and kind and generous, that she always makes my day a little brighter. She has been travelling for the last few months, and I am finding myself craving her company!  What does that say about something as simple as being kind to others?

I always say that the Artist and I are contagious to one another.  He does something really nice for me, like make a nice dinner even though he is exhausted, and then I am really excited to return the favour and find my wheels spinning thinking of what I will do for him.  Then I grind him fresh coffee beans the next morning and bring him his hot coffee, and he is so happy and grateful that he starts thinking of the next thing he will do for me.  But the same goes for something as simple as a hug, or kind words.  The same cycle exists especially for kind words!

We are only the experts on our own lives, we have no idea what exactly another person’s life is like.  Especially strangers.  So if someone isn’t as friendly at the drive-thru window as you would like, instead, give them a smile, maybe a compliment, maybe wish them a nice evening or great weekend, maybe ask them how their day is, or thank them for their service.  Because we don’t know exactly what is going on in their life, maybe it is just one of those days, maybe they are grieving the loss of a loved one, maybe they got some bad news, but wouldn’t some kindness brighten all of those things?  And maybe that was the thing that just made their day, and they go home feeling a little better about whatever it is that is going on in their life.  Personally, if that happened to me and I was the one who had their day brightened (like this one bus driver who out a smile on everyone’s face, and made an effort to say hello to every passenger!), I would be grateful for that stranger’s kindness 🙂

Clearly, I am a big believer in the power of optimism and kindness 😉

These videos were so inspiring and uplifting, I watch them over and over, and get teary every time.  These women are just so beautiful, and convey such a powerful message:  ultimately, despite struggles and stresses, in the end, we are alive.  And if we aren’t alive, well, then what is it that we have?

Crafting and Siblings

To say again, I love to knit.  Especially using great colours.  It is very calming and meditative, and I feel such satisfaction finishing one of my projects.  My latest ventures have included a scarf for the Artist, 2 ear warmer/head bands and a hat.  My current undertaking is moving things up a notch on the difficulty level; leg warmers.  Ha!  All the hard core knitters out there are probably laughing at me right now.  It isn’t overly difficult to be honest, but I like to stick with fairly simple tasks.

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The Artist's scarf!

The Artist’s scarf!

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And while the Artist was in Chicago, I made myself this dress, with a zipper and everything 🙂

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The Artist and I were talking about our unique quirks and weird habits, and I got to thinking back to childhood quirks and fun times with my brothers.

– eating chocolate covered granola bars while watching 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain

– melting chocolate chips and eating them with a spoon, and mom always trying to bake, only to find she has no chocolate chips….ever

– watching the episode of Mr. Bean where he is at the theatre watching a horror movie, while eating fresh popcorn and copying all the weird things he does with it….I am surprised we never got it stuck up our noses!

– having trading sessions teddy bear and other stuffed animal toys, pogs, and crazy bones

– Sean having a yard sale in the living room trying to raise money to buy a toy or a movie (or maybe a pet of some sort?) and selling things for a few cents each to all of us…..how adorable is that?!

– making things out of popsicle sticks, especially boats, and then filling the bath tub with water and using hair dryers to race them

– bouncing on the trampoline, may it rest in peace!

– snow forts and adventures in the waist-high snow during snow days off school, always followed immediately by hot chocolate and a movie

– TVO kids shows…..Cliffford, Arthur, Dragon Tales, Peep in the Big Wide World, Little Bear, Reading Rangers, Zoboomafoo, George Shrinks, Fun Food Frenzy, Sharon Lois and Bram, Tiny Planets, and so many more!

– drinking Tang like crazy

– little glass bottle of fruit punch

– all the flavours of Chubbie pop drinks

– 2 cracker packets of soda crackers

– mom’s homemade pizza buns for school lunches

– Michael and Sean playing mini stick hockey in the hallway, all day, every day

– Mega Bloks

– Power Rangers and Beatle Borgs

– the treasure box at the dentist’s office

– The Golden Apple restaurant

– Breakfast with Santa in Creemore

– the extent of my cooking abilities when we were home alone: KD, grilled cheese, hash browns, scrambled eggs, fried bolgna, mini pizzas, chicken fingers and fries, and Alphaghetti

– making forts indoors with that round table and watching TV/movies from inside it

– Creemore Children’s Farmer’s Market

– book fairs and book orders at school

– creating “clubs” in the summer time and making membership cards

– camping

– chewy Chips Ahoy cookies

– Guitar Hero marathons

Despite all of our arguments and such, we had good times together.  It is kind of sad that we are no longer kids just playing and hanging out at home, spending so much time together.  But I do have fond memories I can look back on, and when we get together as adults, we have just as much fun.  After all, our siblings are our very first friendships ❤

Congratulations to my sister, Dr. Sherilee <3

***I began to draft this yesterday, but didn’t post until today.  So when I say “today my sister…”, it is actually yesterday, Feb. 20!***

Today, my sister had her PhD convocation.  She has been studying public health and epidemiology for several years now……wow, what an accomplishment.  I love bragging about my sister, telling others how much of a big deal she is ;)  Her list of awards, scholarships, research, traveling for research, published papers, presentations, etc., etc., etc., is a pretty extensive one.  She landed a job at the University of Guelph as a professor, and continuing her research, before she was even officially a graduate.  When she told me about the intensive interview process for this job, and about the competition, it was pretty clear to me that she would get it- no doubts.  And she did- obviously, I mean, come on, look at her impressive accomplishments: http://sherileeharper.com/ 😉  Did I mention she is married to her high school sweetheart, so is getting his master’s in engineering?!  Ya, that’s right, they are a powerhouse those two.  They are both insanely busy, engulfed with their passions, yet somehow find the time to assist me with all my struggles in life.  Sherilee had me working for her as a research assistant transcribing interviews (which has been extremely valuable experience), she gives me advice on how go about looking at grad schools and scholarships, and Allan has been constantly giving me feedback on my various resumes and cover letters for potential jobs, grad school applications, etc.  They even used their own air miles to buy the Artist and I plane tickets to attend their wedding!  They share our love for learning, thirst for knowledge, and sense of humour.  I can’t think of a better example, other then my own marriage, of being married to your best friend.

Seeing her convocation photos was exactly the reminder I needed today, that there IS light at the end of the tunnel.  And even when neither the Artist nor myself can see that light with all the road blocks we experience, and basically every day is full of them, having someone close to me make it out alive (haha!) with great success makes it a reality.  A reality that with loads of hard work and dedication, the almighty dream goals CAN be achieved.  Because today, I was having a hard time with the difficulty of every, single, little, thing.  I couldn’t even get to campus without some ridiculous mess happening, let alone anything else.  And sometimes, the weight on my shoulders of always striving for the seemingly impossible, gets to me- even though I feel that I am an abnormally positive and happy person.  And hearing Allan tell stories of school, work, etc. and how he handles stressful situations with ease and humour, seemingly hardly even flinching, it reinforces the Artist and I’s humour, as it can be a useful coping strategy.  The ability to find humour in life, even under the most stressful of circumstances, is something I am grateful for.  The Artist and I can usually laugh about our crazy “adventures” afterwards, sometimes hysterically 😉
Having said that, I feel much better right now.  The Artist made a good point when I was upset about the whole can’t-afford-tuition thing as mentioned in my previous post; our best, most fun, most adventurous times were when?  Living in Toronto, and living here.  Both of these were never our first choices in reaching our ultimate goals.  In fact, they were last minute “Plan B” spur-of-the-moment decisions.  So even if I have to decline this acceptance offer-GULP!- I have faith that our last minute Plan B will be just as amazing, if not better.  It doesn’t mean our ultimate goals will change, but rather, we will have to take a different route to get there.
The Artist and I are not ones to settle for anything less then exactly what we want.  Every step we take is in the right direction, no matter how insane or crazy!  And every step, usually with the help of Sherilee and Allan ;), brings us one step closer to that forever chased, light at the end of the tunnel.  And every step is a journey, and an adventure.  And I can’t think of anyone better to share it with- I love my Artist ❤

Bittersweet.

So the Artist graduates this spring, with a Master’s of Fine Art degree.  How incredibly amazing is that?!  But the million dollar question I get asked over and over again, is “what are you guys going to do after he graduates?”  Usually we say that we aren’t sure, that we are looking into options, etc.  But the truth is, we know exactly what we want.  Making it work however, is a whole new ballgame.

We are really good at figuring out any obstacle presented to us.  We have never let ANYTHING get in the way of what we want.  After all, we are in St. Louis, and the Artist is a rockstar in this program right now, which is all the proof in the world that we CAN make anything happen, no matter how few resources we have.  So to answer this big question; I want to get a Master’s of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis which is ranked the top school of social work in the entire United States, the Artist wants to teach at the same school part time and work on his practice, and we have our eyes on some pretty awesome lofts for rent downtown.

The first hurdle?  Me getting accepted into the MSW program or the Artist getting a job, or both would be even better 😉  Then we can file for the appropriate documentation, and look at those lofts we like, and everything will be all hunky-dory.  First hurdle- PASSED!  I got accepted to Wash U with a scholarship of $10,000.  I am thrilled to be accepted, but also kind of sad when I realize the reality.  $10,000 doesn’t even begin to make a dent in the total cost of tuition.  I am not eligible for loans here, as I am Canadian, nor do we have loads of money in the bank to just write a cheque.  As it stands right now, I have no way to pay this, which means I will have to decline the offer.  Well, “decline” does not exist in my vocabulary, so I have been looking at ways to pay for this, researching possible scholarships, etc. but the problem is, scholarship winners are announced after the decision deadline.  Well, now what?

To my utmost despair, there is nothing left.  I have reached out to friends and colleagues to see if they know of any other resources to help me get funding, but so far, no avail.  It really, really, breaks my heart to say this, but I think this will be the first time that we just cannot figure it out, despite our endless efforts.  Social work agencies are so underfunded, and the funding available for graduate level social work education and training is no where near the level of its counterparts in the sciences.  I am not saying that science or medicine is any less important, because all fields of study are important!  But it seems that social work, the field looking out for the greater good of society, always falls short.  I have done volunteer work in the field of domestic violence, doing things like crisis intervention, helping women make a safety plan so she doesn’t get stabbed or beaten or strangled- yet again, by her abusive partner.  I connect women with resources so she can get legal assistance and medical care possibly for free, due to the effects of an abusive relationship.  I listen, I support, and I empower women through the healing process.  And yes, as a volunteer.  I hope there comes a day, where social work education, careers, and agencies, get the funding they need and deserve, to make great changes happen in society.

When I tell people that I got accepted, the only person who was ecstatically excited for me was the Artist.  I was in tears because I knew the reality of it, but he saw it as a positive thing.  I got accepted against loads of other applicants to the top school of social work in the country!  Yet another reason, why I love him so much ❤  As soon as I tell people I got in, and got a $10,000 scholarship, the conversation usually follows the general formula of: how much is tuition-oh wow that’s a lot-well at least you tried-so when are you coming home?  This kind of threw me for a loop, I was quite confused.  What do you mean, “when am I coming home?”  As if to say that applying was kind of a waste if it was too expensive in the first place.  I KNOW this is what I want, so why would I just call its quits?  Why should I give up on something that I want?

As I said, I know there is a good chance I am not going to be able to make this work, but I absolutely REFUSE to go down without a fight.  Look out world- Emily is on a mission.  A mission to become trained and educated and have a successful career striving for social change in society, for the sake of every 1 in 4 women who will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime*.

And with support of my dearest, loving, amazing Artist: anything is possible.  One way, or another.

 

 

 

*Source of statistic: http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

My Artist <3

Reasons why the Artist is the best husband, most respectful man, and such a great human being:

1. He makes it clear that we both equally share the responsibilities of keeping up a household with cleaning and cooking and maintaining it.  I never feel like it is my “duty”, and I never “feel expected” to do these tasks.  Even when he is writing his thesis from morning until night, and I choose to have a movie marathon in bed, and I say “I should have done those dishes today instead of watching movies”, clearly I had more availability then he did, he still indicates to me that it is equally our responsibility, and that he will do them tomorrow.  He never even makes jokes about “women belonging in the kitchen” and what not.

2. Piggybacking on the above, he is extremely grateful.  For everything.  Every day.  All the time.  If I cook him breakfast, his face lights up as if I have never done something so nice before, he thanks me, and shows some affection.  Thank-yous never become implied, he is always full of gratitude and expresses it.

3. He surprises me.  Whether it is coming home with some chocolate, choosing the most perfect gift, or making me laugh in some strange way.

4. He supports me.  He truly believes that I can do anything, he is my biggest fan and cheerleader in life.

5. He gets me.  Not only does he understand all my weird quirks as much as another person possibly can, he likes them.

6. He loves me, and tells me every day, several times.

7. He respects me.  He never yells or shouts or plays mind games.  He is never sarcastic or negative towards me.

8. He compliments me.  Whether I am at my best or at my worst, and not just on my appearance, but with regards to my inner self.  Recently he paused and looked at me and smiled.  Then he moved in for a hug and told me how good I looked.  And just so you know, I was wearing jeans, a plain tank top and cardigan, no make-up, not showered, and was putting on my new scarf.

9. He is so generous.  He gives me most of his dessert, the last chip out of the bowl, his McDonald’s fries (which are my most favourite fries EVER), his ice cream, he adjusts the volume on the TV which has to be done manually, he serves me dinner right to my lap on the couch, and he is generous with all of the above points.

10. He is very sensitive and affectionate.  He has so much empathy, passion, and love. He is caring and sweet.  He loves to snuggle with me, hold me hand, kiss my forehead, and stroke my cheeks.

11. He inspires me.  To be the best me that I can be, to enjoy life to the fullest, to love hard, to live hard, and embrace the present moment.  He inspires me to follow my dreams, and never give up.

He is my Artist, and I love him with all my heart ❤

My favourite time of day? Bed time- and not just because sleeping is one of my favourite things to do. It is that moment when the Artist and I get under the covers, snuggle up together, and have our nightly chit-chat as we fall asleep. The world is quiet, stresses melt away, we share a laugh or two, and I feel so safe, secure, and comforted with Steve’s big arms wrapped around me. It is that moment every night that reassures me, that no matter what happens, all we really need is one another.

And that, my friends, despite what my bank account says, is what makes me truly rich.

 

My Latest Project, and so much more….

I knit.  I sew.  I bake.  I cook.  I clean.  I walk to get my exhausted husband a Diet Coke when it is minus a million degrees outside.  You can just mail me my Wife Of The Year Award 😉

I love crafting and doing little projects.  There is something really satisfying about finishing a project, and that feeling is what feeds my mini-addiction.  I am working on a yellow scarf for my Artist, just a simple knit stitch.  He wants it super long, so it is taking me awhile.  But in the meantime, I wanted to switch things up.  I made this super soft and fluffy scarf in just one short sitting, with no tools- just my arms and hands!  I don’t know what to call it, maybe “arm-knitting”?  And I made it pretty long so I can wear it many ways.

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I just tucked the ends in my coat a little for an infinity scarf look. I didn’t want to attach the ends so that I can wear it both ways, also like in the pictures below.

 

 

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I am looking forward to making more of these!  They come together so quickly and easily, and if you buy yarn that is a good deal, it costs very little and are so comfy and warm to wear.  Next up?  Crochet.  I want to get a crochet hook and learn how.

I am the type of person with many interests.  I really love music, and art, and of course, crafting.  I like geography, and film, and dance, not to mention the theatre, and literature.  I enjoy learning a new language, travelling, culture, and history.  And while I am engaging in any of my interests, I am enthralled and fascinated by it.  But how can I not be?  People, and culture, and those with amazing abilities and talents are captivating and enchanting.  Life is full of so many beautiful wonders, I want to experience as many of them as I can.  So how does knitting relate?  Well, I just made a scarf with nothing but my hands, in very little time and for really cheap.  And that, is something I find fascinating.  I find that knitting and sewing and crafting in general is a lost art of sorts.  How many people do you know who can do one of these?  Two of these?  More?  I know my list is pretty short.  We humans often get caught up in technology and work and the hustle and bustle of the exhausting ways that is adult life.  I know that I have to really make a conscious effort to turn off the TV sometimes, or close the computer, and pick up a book, go outside, or start a new project.  Over time, it gets easier and easier to do so, or so I have found, as our imaginations love to work hard.  I am proud to say I do not have a cell phone and neither does the Artist.  We have in the past, and probably will in the future, but for right now it doesn’t make sense for us economically.  We also don’t have cable or any sort of TV provider, Netflix or other internet streaming subscription, no iPads or tablets, and no music playing devices like iPods or whatever the newest trend is.  We have an old cube, non-flatscreen TV, a radio, a working record player that we use often, and in addition to a regular DVD player (nothing fancy like Blu-ray), we have 2 working VCRs and a large collection of VHS tapes.  And I love it.  Our TV is starting to flicker a bit, and sometimes the top inch or two isn’t visible, but it is still working. The Artist and I were talking about getting a new one.  I told him that my TV needs include: not gigantic, not necessarily flatscreen, not mounted on a wall and not up high- at sitting eye level, not that better-then-real-life quality, and not worth more then our car.  Because really, why?  We have a flat screen that we got given to us, and a line of pixels went out after only a short time, yet the cube TV has been around and working since my childhood.  And to be honest, I prefer our older one for reasons unbeknownst to me.  It is just my taste I suppose.  And the best part?  The Artist agrees with me on the new TV buying guidelines.  And when I became a little sad that we might not find something quite like what we have now that works any better, he didn’t tell me I was crazy, to get with the times, to be more modern, or to just simply get over it- he told me that he appreciates the romanticism I associate with it.  Because of all people, my Artist can relate to the romanticism and poetry of life.  This quality in him has enriched my life so much, and has given me a perspective of the world, and of our lives together, that makes me so insanely, ridiculously, indescribably happy, right to my bones ❤

 

 

A Passionate Life, Filled With Love.

This morning, I grab the computer, and see all of these new photos saved on the desktop titled: beard, long beard, long blended beard, realistic beard, huge beard, huge beard blend, etc.  I new exactly what it was.  The Artist was photoshopping old pictures of himself and creating different looks for his beard to see what he liked the best.  Clearly, a very Artist thing to do.  I laughed for a good couple of minutes straight, because I was wondering what he was so focused on last night and why he was asking me so many beard-related questions.  This is the type of thing, that just warms my heart.  Then the Artist got out of bed, wasn’t even awake for 5 seconds, his eyes weren’t even opened all the way yet, and he had his gloves on and a paintbrush in his hand.  This passion and obsession with art and the romance and poetry associated with it, makes me so happy.  It is definitely a quality that we both share.  I experience similar feelings with art, but not to the extent that he does, or like any of the millions of examples I have previously described about him.  But here is a good example of how I too, am also a passionate person.

For Valentine’s Day last year, the Artist and I celebrated 2 weeks after the actual day.  He was traveling for school, and when he got back we were both just really busy and didn’t want to have to squeeze something in, we wanted a nice relaxing celebration.  Besides, we spend a lot of quality time together on a regular basis, and show our thoughtfulness often.  So really, Valentine’s Day is every day for us ❤

This year, we decided to celebrate 2 weeks early.  I got a coupon in the mail for the St. Louis symphony for 2 for 1 priced tickets, 2 free drinks from the bar, and free parking to a concert of our choice!  This was too amazing to pass up, so we checked out the ticket prices and concert calendar.  To our excitement, Beethoven Symphony No.5 and Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 were playing, and if we went to the Sunday afternoon concert versus the more popular Friday and Saturday nighttime concerts, the tickets were cheaper.  So we reserved 2 seats on the balcony and got out our Beethoven Symphony No. 5 record to listen to.  The concert was less then 10 minutes away from our favourite Thai restaurant, so we decided to make an evening out of it and get Pad Thai for dinner afterwards, and then head home for some movies, snacks, and snuggles.

The morning of the concert, we could hardly contain our excitement.  This is something we have been wanting to do for years now, but could never find an affordable concert to attend.  First thing in the morning, the Artist had to go out to pick up the last piece of my Valentine’s Day present, because he said it had to be timed right.  He came back with a bag from Trader Joe’s with my favourite “healthy” bacon, orange juice, and Champagne.  Well, not real Champagne, but still- mimosas with breakfast in our newly acquired Crystal wine glasses was very elegant.  And surprisingly, I didn’t break one.  We usually just have cheap glasses because I am notoriously clumsy and drop things a lot.  The last item I saw in the bag was Roasted Seaweed Snack.  I laughed, and asked the Artist what this was all about.  He said they were only 99 cents and everyone was buying them, so he thought he would give them a whirl.  What a guy 🙂  The Artist made the chocolate chip pancakes, I made the bacon, we sipped mimosas, and exchanged gifts.  We both really like the sweet and salty marriage of flavours in this breakfast combination.

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As it turns out, Sandra Bullock playing the water glasses in Miss Congeniality, is a real thing! We have been having fun making that sound with these 🙂

The Artist had something behind his back, and I couldn’t wait to see what it was.  He is so thoughtful, and can find the perfect gift for me on any budget.  First was a homemade card, made with so much love and they always make me laugh.  Next was a beautiful bouquet of yellow tulips, and then a heart shaped box of chocolates.  Sounds pretty generic, right?  Flowers and chocolates for the lady on Valentine’s Day, easy.  To the untrained eye, maybe 😉  We both share a love for all flowers and plants and any plant life, really.  I have Dutch in me, and I love the colour yellow (and green for that matter).  The Artist always says that those are my colours.  Now do you see how thoughtful this truly is?  And when he gave them to me, he said that they were to remind me of him while he is traveling, and to keep me smiling while we are apart.  I had made some tissue paper flowers as a festive decoration, but these are so much more lovely.  Now the chocolates.  In a previous post, https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/inspired-by-a-facebook-trend/ I had mentioned that for my entire life, up to and including the present, I have been infatuated with tiny things.  He said that he looked at the larger boxes so I would have more chocolates to eat, but knew that I would love the small box, because of the cuteness of the size.  He knows me so well!  And the chocolates inside, although they were a bargain, were DELCIOUS!  Better then most chocolates actually.  They were ooey and gooey inside, with a variety of flavours and textures.  I just loved the chewy textures of the creamy middles, and the gooey caramels.  I am a texture girl.  I love the thick texture of fudge, I prefer my brownies super chewy and fudgy- almost still a little wet, I love gummy candies and sour keys, and sticky caramel desserts, among many others.  And we always do homemade cards, and the Artist always includes something silly, usually by accident.  Sometimes he spells a word wrong, or runs out of room to write and starts to write sideways up the page, or his pen or marker dies, and it always makes me laugh.  He always writes such nice things, and when I go back later and read them, his words are like a snippet from that day, and I am instantly transported back in time.  I have saved all of our homemade cards, and read them often ❤

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Now do you see how this is the opposite of a generic Valentine’s Day gift?  He gets me, and who I am.  I created a travel survival kit for him since we can’t travel together.  I included little love notes on each item, with inside jokes that made him laugh.  The main gift was a small picture of us that I put in a tiny frame, that he could take with him so we can always be together even when we are not.  And on the flip side of the photo was a secret “kiss for the road, to take with him everywhere”, where I put I lipstick and kissed the back of the photo.  The other main gift- brownies!  His classic favourite.

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I got all done up with hair and make up and we headed to the concert.  It was so nice to park in a lot right beside the building for free instead of circling forever to find something free that’s half way across the city.  It was definitely a treat.  The building was just breathtakingly beautiful inside.  Gorgeous architecture.  I love this old fashioned style, it feels so luxurious.  We took our seats, and listened to the musicians warm up.  The lights dimmed.  The conductor, the very renowned and talented Jaap van Zweden, came on stage, and they begun.  Beethoven Symphony No. 5- it sounded exactly like our record.  It was flawless.  It was smooth.  It so impeccably perfect.  And to some, I am sure that the conductor looks like a sort-of-dancing-sort-of-convulsing lunatic.  But, really, they are leading the show.  They keep the pace, they que speed and volume changes, they que different sections to begin playing at certain parts, and influence the musicians for an aesthetically pleasing performance.  And this was extraordinarily apparent in Jaap van Zweden.  My eyes filled with tears instantly, a soon as that first note was played.  It was stunning.  A 2 hour long concert of classical music seemed a bit long, but it flew by in what felt like an instant.  As tears streamed down my cheeks, my brain was hyperaware of all the sounds and movements, but at the same time, it was relaxed, in a state of sublime.  It was very meditative.  I wasn’t thinking about anything else, other then the beauty of what I was experiencing.  I could feel it in my bones, to my very soul.  This gut-wrenching visceral feeling in my stomach, and my chest, consumed my entire being.  Tension in the music would build, and then the orchestra would explode, and the Artist knows my favourite parts, and was squeezing my hand throughout, as if to say “I can feel it too”.  What a wonderful feeling to share together.

I used to play the flute and piano as a child and teenager, and performed as part of a larger band, or orchestra, if you will.  Nothing compared to this, though.  I loved it.  I loved the sound of our band as a whole, rather just myself playing solo.  I could never have articulated it at that point in my life, but I felt the love for playing an instrument in this group, deep within my veins. But come on, what does a young teenager know about passion in life?  Well, all I can tell you is, that the feelings I felt during the performance, the tears on my cheeks, and my heart being touched, were the same feelings that I felt back then.  Music moves me, in a way that I cannot do justice with words because it is a feeling, and an experience, it’s not a tangible object that I can show you.

The musicians ranged from quite young looking, to much older looking, and they were all extremely gifted- the type of gift that cannot be learned, acquired, or taught, but that just is.  It is exists, and others who have honed in on their gift can help to guide the new, but there is no secret to unleashing it.  It is something that just exists.  Something that I see in my Artist every day ❤

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I must say, it was quite amazing, and refreshing to see the older musicians showing such great levels of passion while they played, as if they were wearing their heart on their sleeve and showed the audience something very intimate about themselves.  What is amazing to me is that although they are much older then some of the other members, they haven’t forgotten or lost the ability to unleash the passion for they do, something I think a lot of us are guilty for.  How easy it is to get caught up in the busy lifestyle of family and day to day life, that we forget what it is we are passionate about?  These folks reminded me that I need to be more conscious about making time for the things that I am interested in, things that I do just for me, the things that get my heart beating a little faster.  I am a very passionate person, I can feel a lot of things that are not tangible, I experience emotions very strongly, and have a lot of interests.  So taking the time to listen to my favourite songs, symponies, and radio shows.  Taking the time to lace up my skates and hit the ice.  Taking the time to lose myself in a book, cook dinner with my husband, and spend time laughing with my family.  Spending as much time as I can volunteering at Woman’s Place and the St. Louis County Domestic Violence Court, helping, and empowering others.  But most of all, I am passionate about my marriage.  Spending time together, laying in bed having heart to heart conversations until all hours of the night when really, we should be sleeping, giggling and goofing around instead of taking a shower and getting ready to go out, experiencing what the city and community has to offer, and most of all, experiencing a happy life, in love, with one another ❤

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