1.14.2015

gratitude

When I was a teenager, I received a blessing by a Patriarch in my church. It was one I was supposed to keep forever, to read and look back on. I wish all 15-years-old girls could hear the words I heard in that blessing. It told me I was special, and had an incredible path ahead of me, and that I was going to make a beautiful difference for good in the world. It told me I had a good mind, and to trust my inner promptings when making my life decisions … It told me I would be cherished.

In this time of change, I lean on it once again. It tells me that God knows me, and that He wants all the good things of life for me, and that I will become closer to Him if I share what I am grateful for, and what my desires are.

Last night, while in bed, I wrote some down …

A prayer of gratitude and desire:

Thank you for my warmth in this bed. For life experiences that have given me bigger and brighter eyes than I would have ever dreamt of having. 

Thank you for my adventurous spirit and happiness. Thank you for the gift of feeling deeply--even with the pain that comes with it. It allows me to taste life in its array of flavors, people, places, and most importantly: hearts.

Thank you for a job I love.  I am grateful that it is creative and different every day; that it is exciting, and chaotic.

Thank you for friends. Thanks you for the girlfriends I have found throughout my life. As a woman who loves deeply--my friendships carry me, and give me the energy to continue forward and feel safe. They always have. Thank you for the friends you have given me in this journey.

Thank you for love-- come and gone. For love that is difficult, too. Also, for love that shifts and evolves, but remains. Thank you for giving me the ability to love many, and for many who have loved me. Love can be messy and tricky, but without it --there isn’t life.

Thank you for my faith. Thank you for the examples, the stories, the lessons, the travels, and for my family and heritage that have helped me form a close relationship with you--Deity. Thank you for your empathy and love. Thank you for Christ’s greatest lesson: Loving our neighbors. Thank you for allowing me to be born in a time when the whole world is a neighbor--Where we can travel, and communicate, and learn about our world, and all our neighbors, like never before.  Help me to know, understand, and love every neighbor.

Thank you for freedom—for me and for others. With control, I’m only limited to my own vision, thoughts, and ideas … and I am so grateful I am free. Help me to allow all others to be free.

God, I desire to find a solid and continuous love and support system. I desire to create a beautiful family unit that acts as a haven from the world. Help me to feel adored, safe, and appreciated within. I desire relationships that I can put above everything else in my life.

I desire to continue my journalism career, and make a difference. ... maybe dab in acting, or writing a book.  I would love to start a non-profit.  Help me to always love my job; that it might be a creative outlet.

I desire a support system and lover who cherishes my creativity and spark. Who loves my emotion. Who loves my experiences--good and bad. Who will love my core: my heart, my soul, my mind—unconditionally.

I desire time. Time to write, to make a good living, to start that non profit, to consider grad school options. Time to be a good friend, to live in a big city. To begin family life. To teach my children about faith without fear. 
... and help me teach them how to love.

Allow me to be feminine, but strong. To be soft, but firm in what I know I want.

…and then I fell asleep.





12.30.2014

love you, Ruthanne.

I just picked myself up off the floor … told myself to go and write.  Or someone did.

Here I am. At my computer, in a tiny sunlight corner of my apartment—my haven in Boise, Idaho.  A place I call home, and have the past 8 months.

I told Sharon at the Christmas party that Ruthanne visited me in my dream.  She told me that for angels, that meant something. That it was an early visit. I trust Sharon when it comes to angels.

When Ruthanne visited, so clear and vivid in my dream, I said: “Are you here to tell me you’re okay?” She looked vibrant. She was done up in her fabulous clothing and makeup, looking ready for one of her formal dinners with important people, and she smiled her beautiful smile. She told me: “Yes, I am here to tell you I am okay.”  I asked if she was with me, and if she knew everything going on. She told me she did, and that she was with me, and has been with me. She told me she was watching me. I asked her what I needed to know. She told me to let things go. She told me that the tension in my life is building, because of things I won’t let go of ….I asked her: “What else?” She told me not spend time with people that put me down, because I was worth more, and that I am a remarkable woman.

Then I woke up.

That dream is sustaining me. It’s been an eye-opening year. And it’s coming to a close—rapidly. I read a saying somewhere, something like: There is pain that just hurts, and then there is pain that molds you into a stronger person; changing your direction for the better. I was feeling tough months ago; hanging on that cliché quote, feeling like that’s what the pain of this year would mean. But Ruthanne—the person who was helping me through it—why did she have to go? Why did she die? Two weeks after I visited her in October. My best friend. The person who said I would always have her, and that she’d always be there for me. Why did that happen? This pain doesn’t feel like growth. It feels cruel.

Ruthanne was every person someone dreamt of having in their life. She was my best friend. She was a mother figure. A sister.  A supporter and cheerleader. She was calm—soft and collected; then strong and bold with opinions. She watched me make my own decisions and go through life with her bright smile, encouraging me, but never telling me what to do, (until I asked … then watch out). She loved me deeply. I know that. I really know she did. I loved her deeply.

Today, I can’t call her. I can’t fly to her. I can’t text her. I can’t hear her say that I’m going to be just fine, or give me some tough love, and say: “Well, what did you expect Lauren?”

I can read her old texts and imagine what she would say. It would likely be along the lines of some tough love, and then compassion—an offer to fly me down to Tucson for some R and R and future life planning. Or I can remember the dream—how vivid it was, and think that she is right here with me. right now.

I remembered the dream, and it got me up. Go write, Lauren.

Her words: “You’ll always have me” have changed. I read those words every day. They were in her last email to me, and it’s stuck to my fridge. I’m trying to process it. I will always have her by my side as my angel.  But her voice … I miss her voice.

I spoke at her memorial. Three weeks after her death. It was a cycling accident—unexpected. I wrote then—my talk—and it felt good. A couple months later, I’m still crying, still grieving … but I want you to know, and Ruthanne too, that I am grateful. I am so grateful I had Aunt Ruthanne in my life. I’m going to go shower now. She would tell me to. I am going to clean my apartment—my haven that she wanted to decorate. She made me 'facetime' with her, as I put my thrift furniture together, and watched it all come together. She loved my couch. I am going to get done up on my days off, today and tomorrow, and be grateful; SO grateful that I had an Aunt Ruthanne, and still have an aunt Ruthanne. So grateful that she visited me—early for an angel—to make me understand she is really here.  She is by my side. She’s giving me some tough love: What did you expect, Lauren? Really. Get up. Get going. You are strong. I am here. You know that. So go shed a few more tears in the shower, then go get to work, and maybe go get a manicure, too.  I am here.


Thank you Ruthanne. I love you.

................................................................................................................................................

My Talk given at her memorial: 

Ruthanne is my cousin … but she’s also a sister, my best friend, my closest confidant, and she was another mother … someone I was in touch with every day … so we settled on her being called “Aunt Ruthanne “ or “Aunt Beautiful”

Ruthanne claimed to hate shopping … I claim to not like shopping … yet, when the two of us got together –we sure knew how to shop …  I’m not sure how that happened …

But this wasn’t just any shopping … Ruthanne, with her entrepreneur spirit, loved the treasure hunt, and taught me to also love the treasure hunt.  Our shopping consisted of thrift stores and flea markets, and the fabric districts in the many different cities of our many travels.  … ( bill, who I call "step daddy", knows, because of the hours he’s spent sitting in the car waiting for us while we got our shopping on-- I’m so sorry, bill, she always admired your patience)…

Ruthanne taught me what to look for … what brands would sell on ebay, What fabrics were in vogue, How to get an extra 50% off the already extremely discounted Michael Kors purse … and how to google how much something would sell on ebay while on our smart phones in the store.

My dad described Ruthanne as a "singular unique light in this world". He would tell me that she had her mother Ruth’s southern grace, and her father Bobs sense of humor . …  To me, She was a woman of strength, richness, beauty and experience … that experience made her the woman she was. She had seen a lot, done a lot, been through a lot, learned a lot, and had a wisdom about life that I am so grateful she worked hard to bestow upon me. … She changed the direction of my life, and she changed how I think, work, and even play.
She passed her entrepreneur spirit onto me. She taught me to make my own way in the world … when I had no one … and told me I could do it.

Ruthanne taught me the power of family, and love. My dad said today, and I quote: “She loved the Simmons relatives that populated our family from granddad Homer to granny Bertha.” … Ruthanne shared with me many stories—many stories of her family I wish I had the time to share today. But when I was without direction in a future career, she’d share the stories of the Simmons Quail hunt, and of her family—her parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins who started the reunion in the 1960’s.  

I then decided to make it a goal--to come with her every year to that Quail hunt reunion she dearly loved. … and then these stories she shared helped me choose my career path … I’m now a television reporter, who gets to share stories like hers. It was Ruthanne who told me I could do it.  ... I interviewed Ruthanne last year, I have the video … and in that 30 minute interview,  this is the point she drove home most: That it’s the women in families that keep families together—it’s the women in her Simmons family who hold the family strong. She believed she had a duty, as a Simmons woman—to care for and love every member of her family. Her life showed that passion. And I will try my hardest to carry that passion on.  
Ruthanne and I would keep in touch daily via phone calls, texts, or emails. We both loved writing, and would send occasional musings. Sometimes it would be a text photo of the gourmet meals step-daddy had made for her that night. Bill kept such good care of Ruthanne. … Other times, I enjoyed receiving snippets of her life, and who she was before I was born … She sent me this email earlier this year, after I confessed I was emailing her during church:

She writes: “Ahh...how nice to have mind-escapes at church. When I was young, I was busted by my mother: sneaking a novel between the pages of a hymn book; and the Bible; and pretending to get sick after the services had started and walking out (very dramatic and fun until 'the bust') … I’d be writing GMA's (Great American Novels) while looking up at the minister and nodding thoughtfully before going back to my creative work …Here’s to hoping your emailing goes un-busted.”
She loved her books and writing.
As a lady of strength, Ruthanne has left me just that—with strength I wouldn’t have otherwise. I carry her bravery and determination now and always. And I have reminders too. Our most recent business venture was called Ruthyz … after the name we shared.  We were making cross stitches … or, I should say: SHE was making cross stiches …hand stitching her favorite sayings on vintage fabric … I was making the website to sell them.

Three weeks ago, On our most wonderful last visit, I asked her to hand over her first batch of cross stitching’s, so I could start selling. Like the caring aunt she was-- She told me that the profit was all mine. Little did I know the priceless profit it would be. The day before her accident, I sent her the photos of all of her cross stitches that were about to go public … and then the next day I got the dreaded call from Step daddy. I thought about collapsing … my pillar of strength was laying in a hospital bed … but then I looked over and read her cross stiches … they’re here with me … they are some of her most favorite sayings. And they explain my Aunt Ruthanne perfectly …

[show audience the cross stitchings]


“She believed she could and so she did.”

“You are amazing. Remember that.”

“Wild roses are the fairest” –it was a Louisa May Alcott quote she loved ... She was truly a wild rose. 

"This one, I think describes Ruthanne perfectly: "Work hard, Eat well, travel much, be awesome."

And my favorite:

“I am stronger than this challenge” … that is what she told me was written on her bicycle, so she could look down at it and keep going…

I will not be selling these cross stitchings. They will hang on my wall—so I know that just like her, I am stronger than any challenge.

That same trip, just a few weeks ago, Ruthanne and I went to lunch and on an outing--to a few thrift stores. I made her buy a table she didn’t need. (I’m sorry about that Step daddy—it was my fault).

Then after I flew home to Boise: she sent me this email, our last musing …three days before her accident…  to her from me:

“I hope you know what a wonderful young woman you are. Good things are waiting for you...use your good strong legs and mind to find them. Some of us have to make our own way. … I know it's never, ever the same, but you have us.”

I know I have her. Who I am today, I owe to my beautiful aunt Ruthanne. (Including even my skin care regimen). Who I am tomorrow, and in ten years, I still will owe to her. I have her forever in my heart, and in my mind, and in the spirit of determination I carry every day. She has changed me for the better. I know I am stronger than this challenge, and  I plan to make her so proud."









hollywood goodwill 


Victoria, Canada

Maine









Alaska

Pocatello, ID Flea Market


Grand America


helicopter ride










Simmons family Arizona Quail Hunt



1.30.2014

Once upon a time in Australia

Throwback Thursday: My bestie Jenava and me, in high school. We were hanging out on my front lawn, skipping english, and taking photos for our photography class next period. This was a selfie, before #selfie's even existed. We were hip. Back then we even developed our own selfies in a dark room.

She's gonna hate this pic, but we both know there are worse photos out there, and she knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

The reason for my TBT is because someone just asked if we have a blog documenting the months we lived in Australia together, but that happened before online blogs even existed. I have an album, but no blog. Since my hormones are running a marathon, my sentimental self is feeling especially sad about this. It was a life changing time.  In Australia, Jenava made me stand in my skivvies, in front a mirror each night, and say 10 things nice about myself before I went to bed. Who does that? She then let me take off with a strange man I'd just met, and head down to Tasmania for a week. Who does that?  (luckily I made it back alive). And in March, 14 years after our Australian adventure, she flew in for my wedding 10 days in advance, did ALL of the flowers, and set up the entire venue, staying up into the wee hours of many mornings. Who does that?

So now, my TBT has turned into a hormone-blamed "thank you" note.  The reason for this post: To say hey! The two of us lived in Australia together!! We lived in Bendigo, in a home her father owns. It was amazing! At my wedding dinner, she spoke of the time she made me capture a humungous Hunstman spider off my bedroom wall. She felt it was time I got over the spider fears. I stood on a chair and she handed me the vase. (A glass was too small). I held her hand, and I went for it. The tears started streaming down my face. She felt horrible.  I felt like I had conquered the enemy. Thank you, Jenava.

Here is the only scanned photo I have of us in Australia. It was near Christmas.  This was back when photos were still taken by film. The cool thing is that Jenava still takes photographs with film. check it out: www.jenavatait.com  (she's still building the site. More to come!) I love her.

jenava. lauren. Melbourne.



1.23.2014

1.22.2014

Thoughts on a Wednesday, while taking a break from writing news releases


I have to take issue with something.

Yoga pants and leggings. And I don’t mean that they aren’t great. I mean, they’re great.  They’re so great, that I take issue with all of the people who don’t think we should be wearing them out all of the time. (For those that didn’t know this was an issue, go ask Google, or a BYU student, and be informed).

When living in Santa Monica this summer (also known as the Land of Lulu Lemon) I heard not one, not two, and not just three people (I’m serious, there were at least 4) say that they didn’t understand why women so often wore leggings/yoga pants (now known officially as the power-couple: yeggings).  I, being crazy surprised by this trending opinion, took to asking lots of questions. One particular gentleman, who is single and ready-to-mingle nonetheless, said: “Don’t get me wrong, I mean, I really like it when girls wear them, I just don’t know why they’d want to show so much. They’re pretty immodest.”  

First off, stop saying it's the woman’s responsibility to make sure that she doesn't dress to turn you on, and that if a woman was dressed in something you considered immodest, (or “hot”, depending on the definition) she's doing this purposefully to get your attention. This blog post says it well. 

Why modesty is even in the conversation when it comes to yeggings is beyond me.  Daisy dukes, hot pants, string bikinis … now yeggings join the ranks? Really? I feel modesty used to be a great word, but that it's become tainted by its focus on the female wardrobe.  I'm all for teaching our youth (boys and girls) to dress with respect for oneself, but  I feel it should focus on the the individual, and not anyone else's possible reaction. 

With that out of the way, here are the REAL reasons women who wear yeggings wear yeggings.

They are comfortable. Hands-down, (or hands in the air to celebrate!) they are the most comfortable piece of clothing in a woman’s wardrobe. If it were between sweats, or yeggings, I’d pick yeggings. The tightness helps soothe my varicose veins. Have you ever tried on a pair of women’s jeans? They might look good, but no one is calling skin-tight demin cozy.  Yeggings, on the other hand—they’re like butter.

They are flattering. Combining “comfortable” and “flattering” in a piece of clothing made for women is nothing less than miraculous. Across America, (thanks to China), women are pulling on a ridiculously comfortable piece of fabric, while also losing 10 pounds, and gaining an hourglass figure.   With yeggings, we’ve discovered that the muffin top we’ve been dealing with for years wasn’t actually necessary. We’ve learned that crack doesn’t have to show when we sit or bend over. We’ve learned that being bloated doesn’t mean we can’t fit in our pants—talk about freedom!

Some shared the opinion: skinny girls look good, but I don’t think overweight women should wear them.  I say: You try being an overweight woman, and see what you would want to wear. A pair of high-quality black yeggings can be much more flattering for a women who is carrying some extra weight, than a pair of skinny jeans. I promise. Not to mention, she’ll be comfortable, and stylish. When I’m at my heaviest, yeggings are my go-to. A woman should wear what she feels good in. 

They’re functional. It’s not every day that you find something you can wear to the office with black boots and a dressy tunic, then switch to running shoes for your lunch break at the gym, and then put on a pair of heels for a night out, and call it good.  (Depending on your schedule, showering in-between is optional). There is never an easier way to pack a carry-on bag then by rolling up a pair of leggings as your essential piece. They work in all four seasons. A good pair lasts forever, and they fit as you gain or lose weight. 

Consider the scenario of a mom bending over 264 times a day to pick up her baby, and helping her toddler, all while getting spit up on, and having food thrown at her. Ten years ago she might have submitted herself to a pair of Hanes sweatpants, but no longer! Now, she can actually feel comfortable, and cute. June Cleaver, your pearls don’t mask your jealousy.  I’m not a mom, but I’ve had enough years of nanny experience to know that you can’t leap over a kiddie gate without the help of spandex.

They’re stylish. If comfortable and flattering wasn’t enough, add to it that they are in fashion.  Did I just kill three birds with one stone? I think Duck Dynasty just called.  

They’re affordable. When I talk high-quality, my favorite pair of yeggings is 50 bucks. Fifty dollars, you gasp! Whoa, hold on. How much was your last pair of jeans? I thought so. For 50 bucks I know my yeggings are slimming, comfortable, quality, washable, won’t wear out, won’t be see-thru, and will go with everything in my wardrobe. For the past 7 months, I’ve been wearing something from a thrift store every day, and I won’t buy clothing unless it’s 2nd hand.  I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for the reliability of my leggings, most thrift store finds wouldn’t work as well. The 50 bucks I spent on my great pair make thrift shopping for everything else possible.   And if 50 bucks isn’t your cup of tea, my cheaper pair (15 bucks) works great with a longer shirt.

They go with everything. EVERYTHING. (EOM)

There ya go. Those are the reasons. So where is all the yeggings backlash coming from then? I think I know. I’ll be the first to admit that yeggings have been a part of many wardrobe malfunctions. There was the Lulu Lemon scandal (the recall of see-thru pants made national news), metallic yeggings have made an appearance on www.thepeopleofwalmart.com more than once, and I too have my limits on what I want to see in public, and seeing ones underwear print through their pants makes me uncomfortable. But let’s not make someone’s mistake of wearing tights as trousers, a comparison to another woman’s choice of wearing a well-made, flattering pair of yeggings that she feels terrific in, and allows her to live the way she wants to live.

In Conclusion: To all those blog posts bashing the leggings/yoga pant trend: you’re the reason this unnecessary post just became necessary. For all those bashing the mini-van driving moms in their zella gear: Don’t knock it ‘till you try it. For all those women who say, well, I can’t wear them: Think again. For the ladies who say they’re only for the gym and house cleaning: Who told you that?  For all those who think they’re immodest:  I know you are, but what am I?

Next week, we’ll discuss the ahhh-bra. Okay, not really. But really though, have you tried it? Ah-maze-ing. And then next month: Bringing back the female community bath.

Until then: #yeggings

1.20.2014

bring it, 2014

On New Years Eve, we invited our friends to join in our tradition: putting the past behind us by burning a list of 2013's sorrows.




We became official Cambridge residents! We were so excited, the lady behind the counter asked if she could take our photo.


and this weekend, I celebrated my birthday.

January 16, 2014, Cambridge

 ... I originally wrote this January 16th. They're still my thoughts. I had a wonderful birthday--truly memorable.

"Tomorrow I’m 34.  It feels very different than 20, or even 28. Instead of a full set of dreams before me, I have to start wondering if there is time left for some of them. I have to realize what my 20-year-old self didn’t fully understand: Years fly. It’s going quickly. Even if I want to keep treating life like one of those  “choose your own adventure” novels I loved as a kid, I no longer get to keep my fingers stuffed in the pages of other options; just in case, the way I like it.

Tonight, I realize I’m still young—young enough still for some big dreams, but old enough to know I might have missed a chance or two. At 34, I’ve learned about regrets. That’s me tonight—thinking about my regrets.  As Frank Mackey said in the movie Magnolia: “Don't ever let anyone ever say to you, 'You shouldn't regret anything.' Don't do that, don't! You regret what you want! And use that, use that, use that regret for anything, any way you want. You can use it, okay?”

In my 34th year, I’m gonna use my regrets. I’m holding them close, trusting what they’ve taught me, and listening to their lessons. To use another Frank Mackey quote, one that seems fitting for the 34-year-old that I am: “In this life, it's not what you hope for, it's not what you deserve — it's what you take.” I believe that. Here’s to “taking” it all—every bit—including my regret. Here’s to another 34 years complete with even more regrets, dreams with an added time crunch, and being grateful I know more than I did when I was 20."


loved spending the day with Vanessa. We even went and saw Brian speak in his persuasion class--he was awarded as best persuader! 



... later in the evening Lucia planned a birthday dinner with our many Boston friends. 
Hosanna Norphy Lucia Lauren Clara Lily
Dave, Vanessa, Lauren, Brian


  

 
Saturday, also known as yesterday, Brian and I made the trek to the Peabody Essex museum in Salem:


The French Impressionist and Asian Fashion exhibits were my fave's--(I was alone in loving that last one). And here we are today. It's Monday morning now, Martin Luther King day. I have wet hair, and it's freezing outside. not a good combo to walk to work, and so I stop. blogging. now.

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