Authentic Self

I love waking up before the rest of the house. Except the cat, Sam is always the first to rise. It is quiet and still. A good time for coffee and reflection.

Yesterday I returned from my fitness spa trip to Utah. I would not say it was transformative, it did help re-ground me in what I want to find important in my life. Where to spend my time.

I love moving. That I can push my body to cardiovascular edges, pick up weights and watch my muscles flex and build in a mirror, that even after all this time I can still find things that challenge me both physically and mentally.

That I can reconnect with something like “guided imagery” and learn meditation practices that I lost 20 years ago. I told our meditation leader that I want to not be tense all the time. He asked if I ever was “not tense” and I said yes. I thought back to my 20’s before I had a responsible job, a child, a partner, a pet, a mortgage, etc, I could just go on…

I want to start writing again, mostly to help get shit out of my head. I am torn about doing this online versus paper. I know, I’ve heard, and do believe that writing physically with a pen is a different experience. I also can type faster than I can write (and my spelling is better, for some reason I consistently drop a letter from every word when I write with a pen, maybe that is important). So here I am back on my blog that I haven’t touched in at least a year (I’m not going to go check, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and I’ll leave it at that). I don’t know if I’ll keep writing here. If anything, this one post is me saying my intention is to start, practice and ingrain new ways to get out of my head and hopefully live more centered on a more regular basis (not 100%, that would just set me up for failure). A practice to reframe my thoughts when I’m feeling disconnected and floating away.

This morning I meditated, for 10 whole minutes. It’s a great start.

My 2012 story

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

  • I ran my first half marathon, I survived. I was physically prepared for it. What surprised me about the whole event was the emotional wall I hit at mile 9. I just wanted to give up! Sit down, cry and just stop. But I kept on, I was more than half way there and worse case I can just walk. After all, the goal was to finish, so walking would count
  • I upped my volunteerism by getting more involved in the PTA than I ever imagined in my life. I find it rewarding, but also so incredibly frustrating. Working in a different “system” than the one I’m used to has pushed my professionalism and skills in a way I never imagined
  • I’m coming to realize that the next wave of self-actualization is upon me, I’m scared, uncertain if I’m ready, and charging forward with eyes open…

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Instead of a resolution, I decided to pick a belief, a vision, to move forward. My word for 2012 was Grace. For the most part, I think I did a good job with it. Funny, that at the end of 2011, when I was in one of the deepest depressive experiences ever, I had enough clarity to choose Grace as my 2012 vision. I do have a word for 2013, that will come later.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I’ve had a few friends have children, no one in my immediate family. I saw more friends send their kid off to elementary school this year, I think this question will become…

3a. Did anyone close to you experience a child’s milestone?

Yes! A few entering school for the first time. A few getting their ears pierced (including mine), budding tween-ism and all the scariness that comes along with that.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

I stayed in the states this year. There were a few opportunities that never came to fruition. Which is just fine. I will be ready for our trip in April 2013 (Spring Break!) to London and Paris. And maybe I’ll see Brazil this year for work, who know.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Continued Grace, sacred time, and Vulnerability.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • March 9th – the evening of the PTA auction I co-chaired
  • April 25th – A’s 9th birthday
  • May 11th – my 10-year wedding anniversary (and revisiting the Herbfarm, where we got engaged!)
  • June 23rd – My first half-marathon, Rock & Roll Seattle
  • August 22nd – Trombone Shorty at Zoo Tunes
  • October 2nd – Norman’s birthday
  • October 3rd – Glen Hansard at the Moore
  • December 7th – my birthday celebration – Spa Day, dinner at Sitka & Spruce and a night at the Sheraton
  • December 10th – my birthday!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think it’s the first time in a few years I am not answering this question about work (that I get paid for). The successful event and results of our auction. How I worked through my pain and fear of the fall 2011 work trip. That I focused time (after the auction) to do what was most important to me and my family, nurturing friends and myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?

My self-pressured mind says that I’m still in the same job. That I had wanted to be exiting after review season. However, in the experience of figuring out what I want to do next, realizing that this time in my job search – I want to be intentional and find the right thing, even if it means working through it more slowly and challenging myself to find what is right, and not what is easy.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully no injury, a few bad colds, nothing chronic or debilitating.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The moonstone ring I had worn nearly every day since I bought it in high school got chipped. I was devastated! I was afraid if I kept wearing it the stone would crumble and I would lose it forever. I needed a replacement. I found a meditation ring at Fireworks that I now wear nearly every day. It was a relatively smooth transition and I do find the tiny sounds of the chimes to be soothing.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

As I watch A grow and develop her personality, I’m amazed how one minute she is running around with her friends being so Mature. Yet the second they are gone she can be a total little girl in the safety of her family. She makes my heart burst with joy, fear for the future and pine for her innocence, every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Appalled – politicians and the circus our election process has become. Depressed – no one or nothing comes to mind. I’m pretty fortunate in the people I choose to surround myself with (note – I do have a choice in who I spend my time with, which leads to the fabulous people in my life!)

14. Where did most of your money go?

Typical monthly expenses, a new car, deposits towards our Spring 2013 Europe trip. I am trying to spend less on “things” and more on “experiences” – so I guess you can say my money went towards friends, good meals and drinks!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The time I spent this summer enjoying the weather and all the activities we have in the Seattle area. And my birthday (complete contrast to last year when I just wanted December to go away)

16. What song (I’m saying artists) will always remind you of 2010?

Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups, The Civil Wars, Glen Hansard, Storm Large, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier (in spades), about the same in physical stature and finances.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Creative pursuits, I want to find more of that in 2013. Whether it be refining my chocolate work, crafts, home projects – I wish to produce more that enhance the life and world around me than in years past.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Wasting time at work, taking on too much during the auction planning rather than relying on the help and support of others.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Spent the morning at home with Norman and A. Then over to my brother’s house with my dad, SIL,  niece and nephew for a pretty laid back day, good food and company. A nice balance of our family and those around me.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?


22. What was your favorite TV program?

30 Rock, Elementary, Episodes, Game of Thrones, Girls, Great Food Truck Race, New Girl, Next Iron Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, True Blood

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I say this every year, I don’t really hate anyone. If I even start to really dislike someone, I think about why, what lesson might there be in this relationship for me. If I find the person is just not healthy to have around, I just don’t have them around. Nice result of being accountable for my choices.

24. What was the best book you read?

There were SO many….I’ll narrow it down to these two. Mostly because they both made my laugh out loud and also spoke to some of the more difficult aspects of life. Around family and mental illness, not easy topics in general, and not easy to write about in a way both funny and building community.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

My top three….Of Monsters & Men, Silversun Pickups and The Civil Wars

26. What did you want and get?

Resolution on my 2011 Asia trip. Self preservation.

27. What did you want and not get?

A Single Girl trip somewhere warm and sunny. I don’t think I did any Single Girl trip this year…must rectify in 2013!!

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Hm…Comedy, Pitch Perfect. Drama, Les Miserables and The Hunger Games

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 42 this year. 40-freaking-two! For some reason, more troublesome than turning 40, which didn’t bother me at all. Norman took me to Sitka & Spruce for dinner and then left me in a hotel room for a night all by myself!  Had dinner and cake with my family. And on my actual birthday, spent it with my family for a quiet evening in. I did drag out the festivities a few days before and about a week after the actual day. As it should be!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Uh…I suppose saying not co-chairing the auction would be awkward and cheating, since I cannot really erase it from time. Reframe that to – taking a volunteer job on that will require full-time commitment, when already working a full-time job.

I also would have liked that Single Girl trip somewhere warm. My self-charging experience.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

On the casual side – work out wear, jeans or PJs.  From a professional or going out/lookin’ good aspect – more dresses, sassy shoes, fancy stockings, coordinated purses!

32. What kept you sane?

Music. My husband. My friends. My kid.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

While I do have celebrity crushes…none seem to pop in my head now for a 2012 illustration.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Being an election year, and re-election, AND so many critical ballots in WA state this year, it was quite the charged discussion (in all media venues). Besides the people I wanted to keep in, or more importantly, keep out of office…the issue that stirred me the most this year was the Marriage Equality initiative in WA State. Not really a charged discussion amongst the people I hang out with, to hear the believes and impressions from those that opposed baffled me. I don’t mean opposed and in the middle, I mean opposed on the far side. It is more frightening to hear that people actually believe how laws in our state or country can “dictate” the reality of the world. “Legitimate rape” being one prime example in opposition to a woman’s right to choose. I will pause to step off my soap box and just say – I am extremely happy with the results of this past November election and that I could be an active participant in our government.

35. Who did you miss?

I keep having more family move into the area, so it’s harder to “miss” people than it was before. Instead, I cherish that my brother, SIL, niece and nephew live so close I can see them every week!

36. Who was the best new person you met?

A few people at work, one or two out of work – I just keep meeting more amazing people as the days go by!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

I’ll tell you two:

  1. As traumatic as live events may be in the moment, to come out the other side, physically unharmed and willing to work through it, means more than anyone (including myself) could ever imagine!
  2. With every discovery about my family, it sheds new light on my past and how it has shaped the person I am today.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Little Talks (excerpt from…) – Of Monsters & Men

Hey! Hey! Hey!
I don’t like walking around this old and empty house
So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you, my dear
The stairs creak as you sleep, it’s keeping me awake
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes
Some days I can’t even trust myself
It’s killing me to see you this way
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore
Hey! Hey! Hey!
There’s an old voice in my head that’s holding me back
Well tell her that I miss our little talks
Soon it will be over and buried with our past
We used to play outside when we were young
And full of life and full of love.
Some days I don’t know if I am wrong or right
Your mind is playing tricks on you, my dear
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore

This entire song sums up how I feel about “support”, it’s incredibly hard for me to ask for (or even how to do it in the first place) and then on the other side to actually accept the offer is more difficult than asking to begin with!

And there it is….my 2012 story.

It may sound cheesy, but if you have any question or wish to wax poetic with me further, send me a message. I would love to get a cup of coffee and talk some more. After all, I am on the verge of something for 2013, and if you can help me get there….well….all the better for me. Right?!

Happy 2013 everyone!

Jennifer Leigh (Gorman) Guadagno

Damn right it’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday!! I turned 37 today. Or may I didn’t or maybe I did, isn’t it true that a woman isn’t supposed to reveal her age? Have I reached that point of my birthday celebrations? I honestly don’t care, I just want to keep acting like a princess and ensure it’s all about ME! 

This month’s quotable calendar is quite fitting:

Your journey has molded

you for your greater good,

and it was exactly what it needed to be.

Don’t think that you’ve lost time.

It took each and every

situation you have encountered

to bring you to the now.

And now is right on time.

— Asha Tyson —

Norman took me out for my birthday on Friday. We started with wine and cheese and friends at Melrose Market, then to Sitka & Spruce for dinner. Then he left me in a hotel room so I could sleep ALL by myself, in the middle of the bed, and order room service for breakfast (although I didn’t actually order room service). It was a fabulous birthday experience (which I asked for this year, not a “thing”).

Yesterday my family came over for dinner and cake and a few presents. It was lovely!

Tonight, there is leftover cake! And wine! And I get to hang out with Norman and my kidlet! I don’t know what we are having for dinner yet, but I might be able to influence that. Maybe we’ll watch one of my favorite movies tonight, who knows.

So far, this birthday has been pretty awesome…

September 11th, my story

Hearing recent stories, seeing magazines and books about September 11th has many of us thinking about where we were 10 years ago. What images and feelings are burned into our minds. 

I recently read Dooce’s entry on her 9/11 memories. I found it powerful to share her experience and thoughts. As tragic and paralyzing the memories are for people – some more than others – I think it’s important to remember. We need to keep in touch with horror in the world to combat it – the Holocaust, the Sudan, or anywhere on the globe, any of the other numerous terrorist attacks that have happened. If it makes us that much more compassionate, helps us to teach our children to make different choices, impacts one other person’s world – I think as humans we should feel obligated to carry that through.

So here is my memory…

I remember being in our house in Woodinville getting ready for work.  It was any other typical morning that I’m trying to rush out the door to beat traffic and get in to my desk on time.  I came out of the bathroom and Norman is on the bed, staring at the TV. I remember thinking how odd, we don’t turn the TV on in the morning. I turn to face the television and see one of the towers being hit. I plopped onto the bed next to him stunned.  I thought, what is this? It cannot be real!

I sat on the bed with him a little bit longer. Watching the video, hearing a different kind of emotion from the reporters. The kind where professionalism is out the window and their real emotion and personalities show up. That is so very rare.

Eventually I got up, into my car and drove to work. I turned on NPR. I remember hearing Bob Edwards giving a moment by moment account of what was happening. I remember him choking out, sharing with all the listeners, that the 2nd tower was hit. I remember crying.

I remember arriving at the office and no one was working. It was terribly somber. We were together in a way that felt like a community trying to grasp the enormity of what was unfolding before us. Our VP left to go buy a TV. That was set up in an empty office and we all funneled in and out to watch as long as we could stand before returning to our desks. I wasn’t working at all. I was on my computer looking around news sites and absorbing every detail and update. I remember hitting the F5 key over and over and over and over and over…

I don’t remember when I left. Our VP sent us all home. There wasn’t any work being done. People certainly didn’t want to be at the office. I met Norman at home, being together and dealing with everything that was unfolding before us.  It was before we were married, a girlfriend of mine was pregnant. I wondered how could she cope with bringing a child into this kind of world?  How could I? How do you explain to a kid something like this?

Just even typing this out, my eyes are welling up. The other night at dinner my Dad and I were explaining 9/11 to A. She knows what it is, she doesn’t know the feeling, the experience of what happened that day. I told her there will be many TV shows on in memorial, and it will be a hard day for Mommy, Daddy and Papa to see any of it. I was telling my dad about Portraits of Resilience, which started at 8:46am ET. A asked if she could watch it. I was somewhere between stunned and understanding towards her request. I told her yes, that she can watch it. I also explained that it is a very sad story, and could be hard to watch, so we should talk about it. She should ask us any question she has. And to tell us if she needs to stop watching.

This morning A and I ran the Iron Girl 5k in Seattle. It was an event full of positive energy. Many mom/daughter teams (we were the Glisten Girls) and it was great to see Moms work with their girls, pushing them forward. I am so proud of A, she did so fabulous, beyond my expectations. It was a very happy morning.

We should continue to experience joy.

We need to bring community to those around us.

We should always remember.

2010 (in a nutshell)

Does doing this February 1st still count?  I never got around to doing one for 2009 – January became February, then March and then who the hell am I kidding it won’t get done?!  There is one for 2008.  I did one for 2007 and 2006 but now I don’t know where that blog is – hahaha.  So here it is, late, but DONE!

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
I had my first visit to Asia, I traveled to Hong Kong (on business).  Incorporated “running” into my regular exercise routine. Volunteered to co-chair my daughter’s 2012 auction (with Norman)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
In a very one-tenth-assed kind of way – I made more progress on organization in 2010 than any other year prior to that.  This year I’m planning to (1) send 2 hand-written notes a month to friends in far off places (truth be told I’ve already missed January), (2) took on the “pay it forward” Facebook challenge so 5 lucky people will receive handmade gifts from me before the end of the year and (3) still do some work on that organizing thing

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My brother and SIL – my 3rd nephew, a few girlfriends around and out of town

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Oh boy – if there was I cannot remember it

5. What countries did you visit?
Hong Kong – wow – didn’t even make it to Canada last year!

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Sacred time, more community

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 2010 – visited new nephews (and in-laws) in Florida
April 25th – A’s 7th birthday
May 11th – my 8th wedding anniversary
July 25th – app release to support my project, it was ALL about the “July Release”
August 27th – when my phase of the project launched and I could take some needed time off
November 3rd – my incredibly short trip to Hong Kong
December 10th – the day I (gulp) turned 40!!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
It was a very work-intensive year, it was somewhat short-lived, planned for, family alerted and still – felt like the most monumental thing I did in 2010.  And that kinda makes me sad….

9. What was your biggest failure?
See above!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing significant – usual colds and such

11. What was the best thing you bought?
40th birthday bracelet

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My family. My husband continues to be great support when I can be a royal bitch. My kid has a heart of gold, even when she pushed every possible boundary known to a parent!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I’m pretty fortunate in the friend & family department

14. Where did most of your money go?
The usual – mortgage, childcare, good food, good wine, chocolate

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My brother and family moved to Washington!  Yay – family close by!!

16. What song (I’m saying artists) will always remind you of 2010?
Sarah McLachlan, Mumford & Sons, Seeing Swell Season live just before they broke up, The Decemberists, 80s mix (given the 80s themed birthday party)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Mostly happier, thinner, about the same – it’s all good!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Find a way to focus, so I’m not wasting time – like, what are my high producing periods?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being inside during the summer, when that’s the time of year to be outside in this part of the country

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Home with kidlet and husband.  My SIL, niece & nephew came for brunch since my brother was working.  Pretty mellow day.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Bones, Glee, True Blood, Weeds, 30 Rock, Hoarders

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
That is such an ugly thought, I don’t really hate people.  I may not like to be around them at times, but hate….

24. What was the best book you read?
The Passage by Justin Cronin – and beginning the Millennium series (which is bleeding over to 2011)

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Decemberists (although this may have been in 2009)
Sugarland (at Lilith Fair)

26. What did you want and get?
See #11

27. What did you want and not get?
Kindle?  iPad?  Is that shallow?  How about time for myself and family

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Harry Potter, Black Swan, Easy A, Whip It, A Single Man – there are Oscar nominated I haven’t seen yet that could make the list too….

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
On my actual birthday I took the day off of work.  Went to the gym, had lunch with Norman and then went shopping with my SIL.  Had dinner with the family and cupcakes.  It was a pretty stellar birthday

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Memories of being in warm weather – like, my week in Florida was fabulous!

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Chic comfort, with killer heels and accessories

32. What kept you sane?
Music. And absolute quiet.  And being alone in my house (once in a while).

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Colin Firth – did you see him in A Single Man?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
All those election commercials and mailers – I am NOT interested in your slam campaigns and taking over so much time on the airwaves and mail waste.  It’s disgusting and distracting and just let the voters do their job to read up and make their own decision. Realizing that not all voters actually take that initiative and sometimes use those commercials to make choices – which is a whole other problem in this country!

35. Who did you miss?
Hm….did I miss anyone?  Besides family that live a plane ride away?

36. Who was the best new person you met?
New book club gals

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
No matter how much therapy you have done in the past, there is always room for more.  Sometimes repeating conversations and shit I thought I had already learned and moved past.  It’s a process…

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Sarah McLachlan – Rivers of Love

There’s a tunnel that leads to the rivers of love
The sides make you bleed ‘til your white as a dove
Don’t bother to bring all the baggage you cling to
The porter will free you before you come through
The doorway that cleanses the darkness that mends
It’s easy to smile in the end…

And it all comes down to leaving it all behind and moving on
To the rivers of love
And never be lonely again
How long have you waited? How long ‘til you drown?

The rules and directions the twists and corrections
Take tolls on the highs we still strive ‘til we die
To seek out the one love-the one that we dream of
The one may be there with you everyday
Alone and untethered and free of all ties
Free since the day you first cried

And it all comes down to leaving it all behind and moving on
To the rivers of love
And never be lonely again
How long have you waited? How long ‘til you drown?
How long have you waited? How long ‘til you drown?

White Space – Experiment 1

So.  Norman is out of town.  A is at Sunday School.  I’m home alone in a quiet house thinking hard about what my “white space” time should be.  So far, the only appealing option is a bath.  And at the same time, I’m not really in the mood to get all hot and wrinkly and then get dressed to pick up the kidlet.  Maybe tonight.

I’m mentally walking through the house wondering what I could engage in.  No Xbox (since we got the red circle of death about an hour ago), no Wii, no movies, no TV, no cleaning up.  No cooking, no baking, no cook book reading, no cleaning up.  There isn’t anything to do in the dining room but eat or do work.  Lay on the couch and listen to music … maybe, but no cleaning up.  My office is a more organized disarray than last week, but no desire to sit in there for anything, no cleaning up.  So here I am in the bedroom writing a blog entry because I don’t want to sleep, read or clean up.

I have a lot of trouble sitting still to do nothing.  I can sit still.  As long as I’m engaged in some activity or brain function.  I’m not good at sitting still in silence.  But – who the hell would be?!  My mind races and my body feels guilty for not doing.  Doesn’t help that I feel lousy and doing my best to fight off a cold. 

My original plan was to go to the gym while A was at school.  Perhaps sit in the hot tub for as long as I could stand it.  Feeling crummy, didn’t see that as a wise move.  Not with holidays and pending trip back East. 

So I’m here.  At my writing desk.  Wondering what the hell to do.  I started writing this up thinking I could find the inspiration to fill up that white space.  My brain keeps coming back to laying on the bed.  Let’s see, I’ll try some reading, maybe an episode of Bones.  I do promise not to clean up.

Black & Blue All Over

Today marks 2 weeks from my surgery

A week ago I was 50 different shade of bruising.  Really sore.  Trying to get my head around the reality of my health, the continuing pain and soreness.  Let alone functioning like a human after a week of pain meds and recovery.  Lots to weigh on my mind.  Also had my follow up appointment to remove the stitches and have a final check up.  That went well, healing was going as it should.  New bandage, final recommendations.  Lastly, direction to have another ultrasound in 3-4 months to make sure it’s all gone.

Today, the bruising is mostly gone.  Still there and visible.  Even my kid is commenting about how I look better – but “still all bruisy mommy”.  Feeling better each day.  Working out again – even running!  It’s still weird.  Surreal. 

As I look in the mirror, inspect in my typical OCD fashion, I’m having a panic that something was missed.  It’s very likely the scar that is forming and will remain a “lump” to the touch.  There is that lingering fear that I’ll go into surgery again.  Perhaps I’m just too close to recent events to think rationally on it.  Maybe I should just shut down this computer, go to the grocery store, and have a glass of wine with dinner.

Maybe it’s just a wake up call to start regularly engaging in all those maintenance-type activities like flossing and nasal washes and vitamins.  More so – to chill the F-out!