what james taylor means to me

I.

I am eleven years old, dancing around the kitchen with my mom, listening to my parents’ old CDs. It is a Sunday afternoon and I am helping her make banana bread from scratch. My mom is a terrific baker, and I have inherited a love of baking from her. We have turned our giant three-CD stereo onto “shuffle” mode. There is one singer that I especially like. His voice is smooth and filled with emotion, and his lyrics sound like poetry, and the acoustic guitar makes me feel peaceful. “Who is that?” I ask my mom, as the man sings a lullaby about a sweet baby.

“That’s James Taylor,” she says.

“I like his music,” I declare. Up to this point, my musical tastes have existed on a decidedly separate plane from my parents’ music. My CD collection includes Mandy Moore, The Spice Girls, and N’SYNC. Now, I add James Taylor to the list.

The smell of banana bread baking in the oven mingles with the sound of James’ crooning. I come to associate his songs with the warm feelings of childhood and family and comfort. In a word: home.

II.

I am fifteen years old, on the bus to an away game with my basketball team. I always get supremely nervous before games, worried that I’m going to screw up, make a mistake, get yelled at by my coach. The entire day at school, I have been dreading this afternoon’s game. To calm myself down, I pull my portable CD player out of my backpack, slip on the headphones, and press PLAY.

James Taylor’s rich voice fills my ears, reminding me that I’ve got a friend, no matter what happens.

I don’t know anyone else at my school who likes James Taylor’s music. He feels like my own special secret. When I feel lost or self-conscious or alone, his music reminds me that this period of my life won’t last forever.¬†Listening to his music reminds me of the wider, richer world out there beyond the confines of high school—and certainly beyond high school basketball games.

My favorite part of away basketball games is listening to his CD on the bus ride there and back home again.

{source}

III.

I am sixteen years old. James Taylor releases a new album at the same time I am going through a tough time with some friends at school. New music from him feels like a gift from the universe. Even better, many of his songs are about autumn—my favorite season. The magic of autumn is amplified by the beauty of his voice. I listen to “September Grass” and “October Road” on repeat. I imagine one day meeting a boy who loves and appreciates James Taylor as much as I do—who, in turn, recognizes my beauty and uniqueness the way none of the boys at school seem to.

Dad surprises me with tickets to see James Taylor in concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. I am the youngest one there by at least a decade, maybe two. But I don’t care. I feel like James is singing directly to me. He plays for more than two hours and his voice sounds even better and richer than it does on the CDs I’ve memorized by heart.

It has been one of the hardest and saddest seasons of my life up to this point, but sitting at that concert next to my dad, feeling the breeze on my face and watching my favorite musician light up the night with his beautiful music, I feel hope burgeoning inside me. I am going to be okay. I am going to move on and find new friends. Life is going to expand and keep getting better. I feel sure of it.

IV.

I am a freshman in college, and life has expanded greatly. My world has gotten wider and fuller and more exciting. I have made many new friends and every day, I am soaking up new knowledge and new experiences.

Still, sometimes I feel lonely or stressed or homesick. So much newness can be overwhelming. Whenever that happens, I click over to my James Taylor iTunes playlist. His music makes me feel like I can close my eyes and be transported back to the kitchen with my mom, baking banana bread, dancing around with my silly dog Gar—like I can be my child-self again, even for just the span of a song.

 

V.

I am in graduate school now, living halfway across the country from everything I have known. Here in Indiana, the autumn is more beautiful than any I have experienced. The reds and oranges and yellows explode from the trees, and the sky is crisp and blue. My favorite season should feel more magical than ever.

But it doesn’t. I am lonelier than I have ever been. Most people in my program are married or coupled-up, and I am the youngest one. I feel so single and so naive. As hard as I try to make friends, the close bonds I forged easily in college seem elusive here. I try throwing a party, but it is only mildly successful. The weekends stretch out interminably; the highlight is going shopping at the grocery store.

I get a lot of writing and reading done. The leaves begin to fall from the trees. The weather turns grayer and colder.

I turn on the heater in my little apartment. I bake banana bread. I play James Taylor’s music and feel a teeny bit more at home, a teeny bit less alone. His songs are my touchstone.

VI.

I am twenty-six years old, living back in California. Northern California this time, the Bay Area. I am living with my grandparents and I make friends and I am not lonely. But I am still searching for a partner to share my life with. I listen to James Taylor’s songs—“Something in the Way She Moves” and “Your Smiling Face“—and I feel hopeful that I will find the person I am meant to be with. I think back to high school, when I felt like the only person my age who liked James Taylor. Now, I’ve met quite a few people from my generation who enjoy his music—Taylor Swift {who, I’ve learned, was named for James Taylor} even has a line about his records in one of her songs!

I join an online dating website. On a blustery February evening, I meet up with “Oaktown A’s Fan” at an ice cream shop. He is even more handsome in person than in his profile picture. He has kind eyes and listens to me intently, asks questions and makes me laugh. Quite suddenly, and easily, and wonderfully, we fall in love. Before long, I know that he is the one I want to spend my life with.

Allyn is a very agreeable and open person. When it comes to food or movies or music, he likes pretty much anything.

Almost anything.

“James Taylor?” he says. “I’m not a fan.”

I think at first that he’s joking—teasing me, pulling my leg. But he is completely serious. James Taylor’s music… annoys him.

“I don’t know, something about his voice gets on my nerves,” Allyn explains when I ask, in wide-mouthed astonishment, how he possibly can dislike my favorite musician of all time. “His music puts me to sleep.”

I guess nobody—not even my perfect guy—is perfect. ūüėČ

When Allyn lets me listen to James Taylor on our road trips, I know he truly loves me.

 

VII.

C√©line, one of my best friends, dies in a car accident. I never really understood “Fire and Rain” until now.

Even two and a half years later, I still can’t believe I’m not going to see her again.

VIII.

Dad flies into Oakland and we take BART together into San Francisco. James Taylor is playing a concert at AT&T Park and we bought tickets for our birthday presents to each other. I can’t think of a better way to ring in my third decade on this planet.

We spend the day wandering around the city: exploring the market at the Ferry Building, taking the trolley down to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch, finding a hole-in-the-wall Irish pub for drinks. As the sun begins to set, we walk down to the concert. My whole being is filled with anticipation.

The stadium is packed, yet somehow his music makes it feel intimate. He tells stories between the songs and plays video footage of his adorable dog. He plays many of his old classics, and some of his new songs, including my favorite off his latest album: “Montana.” Tears come to my eyes when he plays “Fire and Rain.” He saves my favorite, “You’ve Got a Friend,” for the encore.

After the concert, walking back to our hotel, Dad and I are still reveling in the joy and grace of James Taylor’s music. I think about the last time I saw James Taylor play, when I was sixteen. How much has changed since then. And also how much has remained the same.

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” — James Taylor, “Secret O’Life

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a new document on your computer and “free-write” about the following questions:

  • Who is a musician that has impacted your life? How so?
  • Turn on one of your favorite albums. Write about various memories each song brings up.
  • What is the last concert you went to? Write about the experience.
  • What musicians or songs have been a comfort to you during hard times?

dear amber rubarth

Hi. I’m one of the people who came up to you after your concert in San Francisco this past Saturday night and asked you to sign my copy of your CD. I was nervous, and I don’t think I even remembered to tell you my name. I did tell you that I first saw you play at Zoey’s in Ventura years and years ago, and that your music has meant a lot to me. But it is impossible in a one-minute conversation to feel like one is¬†able to say anything that really goes below the surface. I just felt like any other fan, asking to get a picture with you. You were so kind. And then it was the next person in line’s turn and I said goodbye and Allyn and I walked out into the night. And I felt buzzing with happiness at what a wonderful evening it had been, but I also felt a keen layer of frustration beneath my skin. Because I didn’t feel like I expressed myself clearly to you in that one-minute conversation as you signed my CD.

amber rubarth concert sign

Here is what I wanted to tell you.

When I first saw you play, at Zoey’s Cafe in Ventura, I was feeling a little lost and uncertain. I had just graduated college and moved back in with my parents after my grad school and fellowship plans had ended in nothing but rejections. For my entire life up until that period, my identity had been built on structure and over-achievement. Suddenly, I was floundering. I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know how to build a career out of it. I felt like everyone else I knew had “real jobs” and paychecks and responsibilities and exciting lives in new cities. Meanwhile, I was¬†back in time, living once again in my childhood bedroom, unsure what the future held. And I had broken up with my college boyfriend, someone I had loved very much but had realized was not the love of my life. I felt confident it was the right decision, but I missed him. And part of me worried no one else would ever love me again.

I went to your concert at Zoey’s as part of my attempt to get out more and meet people. Zoey’s owners, Polly and Steve, had always been kind to me — they had even hosted a book signing for me back when I was in high school and released a collection of short stories — and I would check their website often for live music shows. Usually, I would go by myself. I went by myself to your show, and sat at the bar because there were no other seats available, and tried not to feel like a loser amidst the crowd of couples and families. Was I the only one there alone? But as soon as you started singing, I forgot to feel self-conscious. I felt myself in your songs. I felt understood. I listened to your beautiful, fragile, strong voice sing bravely and vulnerably about love and hope and healing, and for the first time in quite some time I felt excited to fall in love again. I felt like the world was indeed a wondrous place and that there was magic out in the future waiting for me.

That night, I went up to you after your show and bought both of your CDs and listened to them on repeat for months, driving around in my car, trying to find myself again. I particularly remember listening to You Will Love This Song on repeat and repeat and repeat. The details felt so true. Your song helped me get over my ex, while still remembering with bittersweet fondness the love we had shared, and taking in what it had taught me, and what I was looking for in a future love.

I got into grad school for fiction writing and moved halfway across the country, from my native California to a small college town in Indiana. If I thought I had felt lonely and uncertain before, I was on a whole new barometer of loneliness now. For the first time, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment by myself. I missed my family with aching fierceness. I felt overwhelmed with my new responsibilities and making friends had never seemed more difficult. I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I dreaded Fridays because it meant an endless weekend stretched before me; sometimes, a trip to the grocery store was my entire social interaction. It snowed and snowed. I wrote epically long emails to my friend Holly. I read and read and tried to write, authentically, for myself, even though criticism from my peers in workshop resounded loudly in my head. I went on a couple of unsuccessful blind dates and developed one or two hopeless crushes and listened to your song 23. I learned to cook for one. I listened to your CDs as I drove around in my same old car in this unfamiliar new town. Your songs made me feel a little bit less alone, a little bit braver. Especially Chrysanthemum Song.

I eventually met a guy, and we were together for a little while, and I was so grateful to have someone that I lost a lot of myself in the relationship. When everything fell apart, suddenly and irrevocably, I found myself again in the rubble. My brother came out to Indiana to help me regain my footing that first week, and he is also a fan of yours and he would put on your music. When I was sad, I listened to In The Creases and cried. But I simultaneously felt washed anew in a bright, sure happiness. That summer, I listened to your song The Edge and felt like you were speaking directly to me, to what I was feeling, to this new life that I was standing on the crest of, looking out across the landscape.

I moved back to California, this time to the Bay Area. I fit the pieces of myself back together again, trying on some new pieces too: zumba, yoga, green smoothies, long hikes, online dating. I met my sweetie in late January and falling in love with him was like nothing I had ever felt before: swift and yet not rushed at all; patient and trusting yet filled with surprises; gentle and passionate and balanced and consuming, all at once. As you sing in When It Fits, when it fits just right, it takes no time to know.

We spent that¬†summer apart because he moved to New Orleans for three months for an internship. I went out to visit him and we spent three glorious weeks together, eating beignets and walking around the French Quarter and snapping photos of alligators during a swamp tour. The morning I left, I gave him a mix CD I had made for him. We listened to it as he drove me to the airport. I remember rolling down the window and breathing in the cool morning air — it was still dark out and the streets were deserted — as your Song to Thank the Stars played from his car stereo. The rest of the summer, whenever I was missing him too much, I would listen to that song and the ache inside me would ease a little into gratitude.

When one of my best friends died in a car accident, music and books were two of the only things that brought me any sort of comfort. The first six months, I was in a daze. I felt like I was living underwater. I remember listening to your song Pilot. The lyrics from that song run still through my head sometimes, on days when I feel in need of a spark.

Five months ago, my love¬†proposed by serenading me with a Jason Mraz song on the guitar: Quiet. It seems fitting that one of my favorite duets is a song by Jason Mraz and you, which¬†also makes me think of my sweetheart; I’ve been listening to it on repeat lately, as I plan our wedding.

A couple months ago, Amber, when I saw you were going to play a concert in San Francisco, I was so excited. I told Allyn that was all I wanted for my birthday: to go to your concert. So he bought tickets, and I circled the date on my calendar, and we went. When you came out onstage and began to sing, I felt transported back to that night six years ago at Zoey’s cafe. So much was different then. So much has changed. I think back to that shy, nervous, uncertain girl I was, and she seems so young and far away. And yet — hearing you sing your older songs made me feel connected to my previous selves. Sitting in that concert beside¬†Allyn made me feel like I got to share those memories with him, in some osmosis¬†sort of way.

Your concert was beautiful. Your joy was contagious. The audience adored you and we cheered and cheered until you came back out and played us an encore. My breath caught in my throat when your final song was A Song To Thank The Stars. I held Allyn’s hand and felt filled to the brim with grace and love.¬†When you signed my CD, I told you how happy I was that you played that song. You confided that it was the only song you performed¬†that was not on your set list, that you felt compelled to play it at the end of the night for some reason. “You must have been sending¬†lots of¬†mental vibes for me to play it!” you said, laughing. The song felt even more like a gift after hearing that.

me and amber rubarth 2

I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this, Amber, is that your music matters. You don’t even know my name, but your music has mattered immensely in my life. It has helped me feel less alone in my lonely times, and more grateful in my joyful¬†times, and it has made me think and made me feel and helped me to be braver and kinder and more attuned to the tiny details of the world around me.

Thank you for your music. I hope you always keep making music. I am so excited to hear what you create next.

Love,
Dallas

goals + recipes for the week of 3/22

Hi, everyone! Hope your weekend is winding up great.

I had a busy day at church serving as Worship Associate with a special guest minister, Jason Shelton, who just so happens to be a minister at Holly’s church in Nashville! I actually saw him leading the choir when I went to a church service with Holly during my last visit. It was such a nice coincidence to have him visiting my church and it made me feel closer to Holly in a small way. I miss her a lot!

Jason Shelton is a super talented composer and musician, and there was lots of¬†fantastic music during both services today. The theme of today’s worship was “music, change, the old and the new” and I maaaaay have written my Call to Worship about Taylor Swift. I was a little nervous about it, but the writing came straight from my heart and felt so appropriate to the theme. Happily, I discovered there are other T.Swift fans in the congregation {including a very sweet group of seventy-year-old women who came up to me afterwards} and everyone applauded at the end of my Call to Worship! #mychurchrocks

with allyson pirates

Backing up to Saturday, we celebrated Allyn’s sister Allyson’s birthday last night with a pirate-themed murder-mystery party! My guess about the murderer was completely off, as was most everyone else’s, but Allyson used her excellent sleuthing skills and solved the case. I could tell she really enjoyed her party, which made me happy because she is such an amazing person. I hope the party was a small way to show her¬†how very loved she is! Also, check out the red beard on Allyn {aka Captain Redbeard}… it totally stole the show, haha.

allyn redbeard

Now… time for¬†goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last time:
–¬†copyedit through Chapter 8 of client’s manuscript
– finish editing manuscript for a friend
–¬†participate in The Minimalist Challenge
connect with two friends
finish reading The Autograph Man

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish final read-through¬†of client’s manuscript
– finish editing manuscript for a friend {this got pushed to the back-burner with other projects, but I really want to finish it this week!}
– do yoga two times & PT exercises daily
– connect with two friends
– finish reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
green goddess hummus via Cookie + Kate
spring panzanella salad via Two Peas and Their Pod
orange chicken tofu via Detoxinista & The Pajama Chef
easy chickpea salad via Food Friends
bunny bait via The Pajama Chef
Рmy own potato, sausage & veggie bake

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over this week?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

fabulous friday #44

Happy Friday, everyone!¬†It’s been a while since I’ve done a fabulous friday post around here… excited to get back to it!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being home and soaking up time with my sweet family. Greg heads back to USC tomorrow {for his final semester of business school… craziness!} and we are going out to dinner as a family tonight. We’re going to try out an Indian restaurant downtown that Greg has been eying for awhile. I haven’t had Indian food for a looooong time, and I’m looking forward to some quality time with three of my very favorite people!

Irish pub fam

murray

{And Murray knows he is my favorite pup!}

2. My sweetheart made it safely to Kenya, and he and his group successfully summited Mt. Kenya! They only have sporadic Internet access, so I haven’t been able to communicate with him very much, but one of his group-mates posted this photo on Facebook of them all at the peak of Mt. Kenya. {There he is, second from the right!} I’m really proud of him, and excited to hear about all his adventures when he returns home in about a week!

mt kenya

3. Allison Williams. We watched her interview with Jon Stewart last night and I was completely charmed. I only knew her from the Peter Pan Live special, but now I’m seeing her everywhere — including on the cover of the Glamour magazine!

glamour allison williams

I loved what she said about the importance of knowing yourself before looking to others for outside validation:

“I’ve just figured out who I am. I am now rarely confronted with a feeling, physical or emotional, that I can’t place. … Part of getting to know yourself better means that all the relationships in your life improve: friendships, family, fiance, all of it.”

Also, while watching the Jon Stewart interview last night, my dad said, “Hey Dal, she kind of looks like you!” Maybe I’ve finally found my celebrity doppelganger?

4.¬†Alexandra Franzen included a link to this amazing singer-songwriter, James Bay, in her latest newsletter. I can’t get enough of his soulful voice and lyrics!

5.¬†This past Wednesday, I went to the book launch party for Jennifer Niven’s new YA release, All The Bright Places. It is a really wonderful book — like The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower — and Jennifer could not be nicer or more gracious. It was so exciting to meet her!

all the bright places

BONUS: I have some writing-related news to share with you!

  • My YA romance ebook, “How I Became a Coffee Addict,” is available for FREE through January 10th on Amazon! Grab your copy here.
  • My short story “Receiptless” was recently published in the literary journal The Literati Review; you can read it online here. Hope you enjoy! ūüôā

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

fabulous friday #42

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’re having a good one!

It’s a typical Friday for me… this morning I headed to one of my fave yoga classes, now I’m getting some work done on the computer, and later this afternoon I’m tutoring a few great kiddos.

We have been getting LOTS of rain here the past couple days… they say it’s one of the biggest storms we’ve had here in five years! Fortunately we are all safe and sound here. If it’s stormy and bad-weathered where you are, please be safe!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The Lucy Hale song “Mistletoe.” It’s been bopping around in my head off and on since I heard her sing it on the “CMA Country Christmas” TV program, and this week I finally went and ordered it on iTunes. Love it!

2. This interesting and thorough article Allyn sent me with tips for staying calm and managing stress {especially useful in this often-stressful holiday season}: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140805002649-50578967-how-successful-people-stay-calm

3. Speaking of the holidays, here are two socially impactful, beautiful gift ideas if you are doing some holiday shopping:

4. I’ve been craving veggies — carrots, celery, bell peppers, kale — even more than usual lately. For example: last night, I sliced up half a bell pepper as part of my dinner, and ended up going back to the fridge and polishing off the rest of the pepper later that night as a snack! I’ve never craved bell pepper before, but there you have it! I believe our bodies tell us what they need, so I’ve been riding the veg-tastic train all week. This is an interesting NPR article about how what you eat affects your mood:¬†http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/14/329529110/food-mood-connection-how-you-eat-can-amp-up-or-tamp-down-stress?

5. This quinoa veggie salad from Costco. Tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lentils, beans, quinoa — healthy, light and filling. It’s made a great quick lunch on a couple days this week when time got away from me and I was a little rushed to get out the door.

quinoa salad

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I’m gonna leave you with this beautiful John Gardner quote my brother sent me:

greg quote

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

fabulous friday #22

Happy TGIF, friends! I have¬†one of those jam-packed, busy weekends on the agenda … I’m excited about all the fun things on my calendar these next two days, but maybe all that looming activity explains why I’ve felt so sluggish today. I’m just having a hard time getting up and moving, which is unusual for me. I’m taking it as my body’s cue that I need a little rest. Could also be this heat wave we are having … I’ve been chugging water and Gatorade like nobody’s business, but it can still be difficult to stay adequately hydrated!

Moving right along…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. Omg you guys, I don’t know why I’m so late to jump on the bandwagon, but I can’t get enough of this stuff. I love it on toast, on celery, on apples, on carrots, by itself on a spoon…

justin's maple almond butter

2. This inspiring and honest post by one of my favorite bloggers, Nicole @ A Life Less Bullsh*t, about fear & procrastination.

3. My new haircut! I don’t know if any of you could tell from the photos I posted earlier from Julie’s wedding, but I got a couple inches trimmed off the ends. Not a big change, but it feels so much healthier. I love the light, summertime feel of a new haircut. {Cute side note: one of my 8-year-old students even noticed and complimented me on it. So sweet! Made my day.}

haircut.jpg

4. Lee Brice’s new song “I Don’t Dance.” Makes me tear up every time it comes on the radio.

5. The sweet and thoughtful card I received from my brother, who is currently on a plane to Vietnam as part of a two-and-a-half week trip he’s taking through his MBA program. He’ll be traveling to Vietnam, Thailand, and China, and I can’t wait to see him when he returns home and hear all about this adventures! Please send your thoughts and prayers for a safe trip.

Here he is riding an elephant in Sri Lanka last year.

Here he is riding an elephant in Sri Lanka last year!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for the weekend?

fabulous friday #15

Happy Friday, friends! You know what TGIF means around here…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My dad and brother are in town visiting!! I love these two guys so much. They crack me up and we always have so much fun when we’re together. The only thing is I’m missing my mama — it’s weird for the three of us to be together without her — but she’ll be coming up to see me in just over a week!

boys

2. This quote that Danica shared last week on her blog — so, so true.

And it reminds me of something my dad always says: “T.G.I.M.!¬†Because if you don’t embrace Mondays you will wind up dreading 1/7th of your life. That’s not something I’m willing to do, how about you?”

3. The new Sara Evans album, Slow Me Down. My sweet dad got it for me as a little random, surprise gift because I love Sara Evans. This latest album of hers is no exception! I’ve been listening to it on repeat and dancing in my car as I drive around. The perfect anthem to springtime! Currently, I think my favorite songs on the album are “Sweet Spot“; “If I Run“; and her cover of/duet with Gavin DeGraw’s “Not Over You.”

sara evans cd

4. A company I just learned about, Warby Parker — like TOMS shoes but with eyeglasses! For every pair of eyeglasses they sell, they distribute a pair to someone in need. They emailed me about their¬†Home Try-On program, which allows¬†you to pick out your five favorite frames for five days, with no expense {they even pay for shipping.} This gives you the opportunity to try out multiple looks before you commit to anything, and all from the comfort of your home! I think it’s a cool idea and I love the social mission of their company. I’m looking forward to exploring their sunwear collection¬†in time for the summer!

5. I’ve been thinking and praying for the Holmstrom family, whose precious baby girl Brinley needs all our love and healing thoughts. I went to school with both Eric and Sarah, and they are such kindhearted, generous, loving people. Sarah blogs over at how is your heart? if you want to drop her a note or a prayer.

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans in store for the weekend?

fabulous friday #13

Aaaand just like that, it’s Friday again! Where did this week go? I can’t believe how quickly it flew by.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1.¬†My friend Janet is visiting!¬†We’re both going to a writer’s conference in Seattle and she was able to book a flight to San Francisco to spend a couple days with me before we head to the conference together. She gets in tomorrow morning. We email and talk on the phone, but I haven’t seen her in over a year and I can’t wait to give her the biggest hug. We met in college while studying abroad in England {along with our dear friend Lauren, who lives in New York} and whenever I get together with these ladies it feels like zero time has passed at all. Lots of laughter and too much chocolate will invariably be happening in my life this weekend.

jan laur and me

{Janet, me, and Lauren on a bus in Norwich, England. This was during my headband phase ūüôā Hard to believe it’s been six years since this was taken!}

2.¬†This song: “Happy” by Pharrell.¬†It’s impossible for me to restrain my happy-dancing when this song comes on. So dang catchy! I think this could be the theme song for TGIF!

3. These flourless chocolate cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod. Nom nom! These babies are definitely on my baking agenda.

4. All the sweet and thoughtful people in my life. I am so blessed. Just a few examples lately: Melissa at church sent me an incredibly kind Facebook message. Kathleen invited me a comedy show and offered that I could stay with her overnight if needed. Holly texted me a happy note that got my week off to a great start. Ben left me a nice voicemail. {Ben, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I haven’t called you back yet! This weekend!} Allyn took time out of his super busy schedule to send me recommendations for places to check out in Seattle, since he used to live there. Dana, a Bay Area native, took time out of her day to compile a list of fun places Janet and I can check out while she’s visiting. And I could go on and on… I am surrounded by amazing people who make me feel very loved and grateful.

me and dana

5. These wise words from the always-wise Whitney: “A Letter to Myself at 22.” And this inspiring post from another one of my favorite bloggers, the always-inspiring Robyn: “nobody cares about your pant size.”

Now I’m off to finish a couple projects before heading into the city for dinner tonight. Happy Friday, everyone! Treat yourself to something fun today!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans for the weekend?

fabulous friday #10

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you have some fun plans on the horizon! I am pretty dang excited for the weekend. Tonight I’m going to see best-selling YA author Veronica Rossi give a talk at a local bookstore. On Saturday I’m reuniting with my lovely friend Dana for a walk at the reservoir & lunch afterwards — we haven’t seen each other for a few weeks and I can’t wait to catch up! And Sunday I’m going to church, meeting up with a friend for coffee … and of course watching the Super Bowl! The one time all year where the commercials are actually my favorite part ūüôā My aunt is having a big party at her house which will undoubtedly be a good time.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Spontaneous trips to the park. It’s been gorgeous weather here this week, and when I spent the day with my cousins Makena & Bianca earlier this week we went over to the neighborhood park to take advantage of the sunshine. I love swinging on swings! And isn’t this tree beautiful?

swings

2. Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creativity. A friend first shared this link with me a couple years ago, and after someone mentioned it at church this week I watched it again. So inspiring! I especially love this quote:

elizabeth gilbert quote

3. Trader Joe’s! I can’t get enough of this store. I have lately been addicted to their kale & shredded broccoli chicken salad, edamame hummus, and butter shortbread cookies with chocolate in the middle. {No, I did not take home this entire stash, but I wanted to!}

shortbread cookies

4. This song, “Giddy Up” by Dragonette. My brother posted it on my Facebook wall and it is my new morning jam! Such a rousing way to start the day.

5. Soaking up time with my super-fun cousins. This week I’ve gotten to spend lots of time with these beautiful girls and it’s been so great! Last night Arianna and I had a total girly night: pizza, watching 17 Again, doing face masks, talking about boys. It was wonderful! I feel so blessed that my cousins are not just cousins, they are truly my friends, too ūüôā

arianna and rocca

makena bianca

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Do you have fun plans for the weekend?
  • Are you going to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday?

fabulous friday #9

Happy Friday, friends!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Caramel turtle brownies. I made these a couple nights ago, improvising a little on the recipe directions by placing a Rolo caramel candy in the center of each one. {I was inspired by my peanut butter cup brownies!} They turned out delicious, though quite caramel-y… my grandparents teased me about having to drink lots of hot coffee while eating these babies in order to get the caramel off their teeth! So you have been warned.

caramel brownies

2. Artsy movie theaters. This week, I had my first experience going to a movie theater where they serve dinner and drinks during the movie. It was so neat! I felt way classy sipping on my glass of wine, reclining in my comfy movie theater seat. We saw “Nebraska” and I would highly recommend it — one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It is a brilliantly told story about flawed, relatable characters who are recognizable and human, just doing the best they can for each other. I laughed, I cried and I was sad when it was over!

3. The Plain White T’s.¬†I was really into the Plain White T’s back in college {ahh, the “Hey There Delilah” days …} but I’d sort of forgotten about their music these past couple years. However I love their new song “The Giving Tree” and this week I’ve been listening to a bunch of their stuff, old and new, on youtube. Here’s one of my faves of the moment:¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYg3g6LX0DE

4. Long phone chats with friends. My far-flung friends and I have gotten into the habit of scheduling “phone dates” at least once a month, and I’m so glad that we do. It helps me stay close to wonderful friends and keep up-to-date on their lives even when we don’t get to see each other in person very often. I also love that my brother makes time to talk to me on the phone, pretty much every day. We have so many inside jokes and nobody else on the planet makes me laugh like he does!

me and gb goofy

5. My beautiful cousin Arianna is turning Sweet Sixteen on Sunday! I’m so excited to celebrate with her all weekend long. Happy birthday, sweetheart!

me and arianna

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving on this fine Friday?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?