dear celine, this is how you made me feel

celine

This is Celine. She was one of my best friends, and on Monday I found out that she died in a car accident. I can’t quite believe I’m writing about her in the past tense. I’m having an extremely difficult time believing that she is gone. It all seems surreal and incomprehensible and just plain wrong. Her brother Cameron was in the car with her, and he is in critical condition — please send your prayers and love to him and their entire family. ❤

Celine was one of the most vibrant, joyful, loving and beautiful people I’ve ever known, and I want to tell you about her.

me and celine

She was the first friend I made in college, on move-in day in the dorms. Her dorm room was kitty-corner from mine. My parents had left and I was sitting on my new dorm-room bed, feeling a little bit sad and scared and alone in my new life, when Celine came in with a box of popsicles and asked if I wanted one. We started talking, and I learned she grew up in L.A. and had a younger brother around the same age as mine. I felt comfortable with her right away — she had a genuine smile and a contagious laugh, and she was so expressive you wanted to keep swapping stories with her forever. That day, she looked so sophisticated in a newsboy cap and colorful sunglasses, and I remember thinking, “This girl is waaaay too cool to want to be friends with me. I’ll just ride this wave as long as it lasts!” Later, once I realized she actually *did* want to be my friend, for reals, I told her about my first impression. 🙂 We would joke about that throughout our friendship.

me and celine milkshakes

It is probably not an exaggeration to say I spent as much time in Celine’s dorm room that first year as I did in my own. We ended up living together throughout college, and all of us shared so much more than just an apartment. Those girls were my second family. We shared meals and clothes and shoes and makeup; we celebrated holidays together; we threw the most fun themed parties of my life; we whiled away hours and hours discussing everything from crushes to politics to High School Musical, sharing stories from our pasts and daydreams for our future; and oh, boy we laughed. We laughed so, so much. I feel incredibly grateful that I found such special people to share college with.

roomie party

all the ladies soph year

Celine was a true original; a bright light; fearless and colorful and brave. She was goofy and funny and FUN. Celine’s authenticity brought people together in the best way. She taught me to be proud of the silly parts of myself; that I can be a serious and determined person yet also retain a childlike enthusiasm about the world. She taught me that often it’s the little things — the jotted notes, the inside jokes, the impromptu dance parties — that are really the big things. And she taught me that life isn’t just about being productive and “accomplishing” things and checking items off my daily to-do list. Sometimes — actually, most of the time — the most important thing to do today is to enjoy it, to have fun, to make ridiculous and beautiful and spontaneous memories with the people you love.

goofy roomie photo

Celine loved fashion, and she was such a talented designer. Our senior year, she sewed a whole ensemble of clothing for a fashion show benefit to combat malaria. I like to remember her sewing away on our living room floor as we all watched DVDs of The Office and did homework. I’ve never thought of myself as very fashionable, but she helped me feel confident in myself. She was always delighted to help pick out an outfit for a date, or a special event, or simply an ordinary Monday. We had many fashion shows in our apartment. Celine could pull off any outfit with pizazz. I think of her wearing an American flag sweater and colorful socks, and looking perfectly chic and perfectly her.

She *made* that dress!!

She *made* that dress!!

Yet along with her wonderfully zany side, Celine also had a quieter side. She was a terrific listener. She never judged. She made you feel safe and supported. Freshman year of college, when I broke up with my first real boyfriend, I remember fleeing to her room, sobbing, and she hugged me as I cried. Another time, when I was feeling down on myself because “no boys were ever going to like me EVER” she played me this song, “Somebody’s Baby” by Phantom Planet, saying it made her think of me because I was “so awesome that guys probably just assume you’re already taken.” I still smile and think of her when I hear that song.

Celine saw the very best in me, even when I didn’t see it in myself.

me and celine

Junior year, Celine and Holly studied abroad in Paris at the same time I studied abroad in England, and they came to visit me one weekend.

in london

Then I visited them for a week during my spring break. That week in Paris remains one of the happiest, best weeks of my life.

me holly celine in paris

Celine loved France — she was proud of her French-Canadian heritage and spoke fluent French — and she especially loved Paris. In college, she talked frequently about her dreams of moving to Paris and going to fashion school. And after we graduated, that is exactly what she did. She studied at the Parsons Paris School of Art & Design and ended up working for the Paris College of Art, a job that took her all around the world. I can’t begin to express how proud I was of her. So many people talk about their dreams, but never do anything to make them real. Celine was actually living her dream. She made it happen.

me and celine in Paris

I was lucky to get to visit Celine in Paris once, a few years ago. It was exciting to get a taste of her life there. She was a terrific tour guide, excited to show the city she loved to the people she loved. One thing I always admired about Celine was that she was always herself, and our friendship remained a comforting touchstone even as so many other things about our lives changed. In a cafe in Paris, we giggled together the same way we had in our apartment living room in Los Angeles.

holly surprise party

Even though the miles and time zones between us made our communication less frequent, I always knew Celine loved me, and I hope she knew I loved her. She was there for me for the big things. Like when I broke up with my fiance, she Skyped with me for two hours, even though it was incredibly late Paris time and she had to work in the morning. She laughed and talked with me about random old memories until I felt better.

me and celine xmas

And those times that we *were* able to see each other, we picked up right where we left off. Celine came to visit me soon after I moved to the Bay Area, and we pretty much talk-talk-talked for three days straight. It felt like we were living together again. That visit was such a gift.

20131025_154036

The last time I saw her was in late May, right before my birthday. She was in San Francisco with a couple friends from France, and the two of us met up for brunch. I had a cold, and I remember wondering whether I should cancel; I didn’t want to spread my germs to Celine, or to anyone else my path would cross on my commute into the city. But we were able to see each other so rarely that I thought, “Screw the germs, I’m going!” And my God, I’m so grateful I did. We had a lovely visit, chatting in the sunshine over hot coffee and tea and scones, and before we hugged goodbye in the Bart station I remembered to snap a photo, this one:

me and celine bart station

We’d emailed some since then, and in the last email she sent me, Celine asked if I could resend her the link where I post my short stories online, because she wanted “some reading from my favorite writer!!” She was always so supportive of my writing, and in the wake of her passing I feel a renewed commitment to pursue my dreams with zeal and determination, in her honor.

Celine only graced this world for 26 years, yet she touched SO many people’s lives with the bright light of her spirit. Quite simply, she made others feel seen, and heard, and happy, and loved.

how you made them feel

Our friend Jess put it so well in these words to Celine: “It’s hard to explain how much fun we had and how much living the rest of us are going to have to do to make up for your absence.”

college football game

Holly did too: “Love knows no tense.”

me hol celine

Dear Celine, I miss you. I love you. I will forever be grateful for the spectacular gift of being your friend.

celine dogpile

grad caps and gowns

me and celine goofy

me and celine halloween

goals + recipes for the week of 8/24

Hi friends! Just wanted to pop in say hello 🙂 How is your weekend going?

Thank you for all of your prayers and good thoughts for my grandma and her hip-replacement surgery! She came through like a champ and is currently back at home, recovering very well. My grandpap has been very sweet taking care of her, and I have been trying to help out as best I can, however I can.

gparents gmas bday

My brother made it back safe from his summer internship in Washington, D.C. and is starting his second and final year of business school tomorrow. I love this photo of him and my mom that my dad snapped during Greg’s brief time at home before moving back down to Los Angeles. Have a great first week back at school, buddy!

greg and mom margarita villa

Other big news this week was that my sweetheart safely arrived back home, hooray! I have been soaking up time with him after being apart all summer. I also got to attend a couple fun events in San Francisco with him as part of his M.B.A. program at Presidio Graduate School. Presidio is really unique because of its emphasis on sustainability and environmental issues. I am so inspired by the amazing, world-bettering projects all the students are involved in. A really neat project is in the works right now that I will be letting you know about next week, with a chance for you to get involved — stay tuned!

This week I’m hoping to get a LOT of writing done! I have a handful of works-in-progress that I am really excited about and now, since I have a few weeks off from teaching, I have more time to devote to my writing. I’m ready and eager to get to work! #takingcareofbusiness

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– help take care of my Grandma as best I can
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 75 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through three back issues from my New Yorker stash

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
peanut butter avocado cookies via The Lean Green Bean
grilled zucchini, chickpea, tomato and goat cheese salad via Two Peas & Their Pod
– pesto, roasted red pepper & cheese crescent rolls via Two Peas & Their Pod
coconut curry popcorn via The Pajama Chef
– my own coconut strawberry chocolate cookies

Questions of the day:

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

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

goals + recipes for the week of 8/17

Happy Sunday, everyone! It feels like it’s been for.ev.er since I popped in to say hi… I guess it’s only been a few days since my mid-week meditation post, but it was one of those weeks where a lot happened!

  • I got back to the Bay Area on Sunday night, and there were all sorts of little errands and such I had to squeeze in to get back into my everyday routine. You know how it is, getting back to real life after “vacation mode” 🙂
  • I taught a wonderful week of journalism and public speaking camp to a group of super awesome fifth graders. I was so proud of all of them!
  • I’m housesitting/dog-sitting for my aunt and uncle right now, so there was a bit of schedule juggling involved to make sure the doggies were comfortable and cared for throughout the day when I was at work. Everything worked out fine in the end!

poodles

There were also lots of fun events:

  • I got together with Dana for dinner at Pizza Antica — yum!
  • I got my first-ever professional massage {more on that coming soon!}
  • We celebrated Makena’s birthday on Tuesday and Bianca’s birthday on Friday! We had a joint party for them both on Wednesday evening, and it was so much fun. They are such kind-hearted and beautiful young ladies, inside and out!

m and b bday

This week is looking to be even busier! Tomorrow my grandma is getting much-needed hip-replacement surgery; she’s in a lot of pain, so we are all excited that this procedure will hopefully provide a lot of relief. Still, getting an operation is always a little scary, so we would be so grateful for your good thoughts & prayers! I will be sure to keep y’all posted on her recovery.

me and gma

Then on Tuesday, my sweetheart comes home!! He is currently driving back to the Bay Area from New Orleans… I think he’s somewhere in the middle of New Mexico right now. Your safe thoughts for his travels would also be very appreciated 🙂 I am over-the-moon excited to see him!

me and al bday creamery

This week is the last week of summer camps for Communication Academy. I’m teaching a public speaking class for teenagers and I’m really looking forward to it. Gonna be a great week!

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: {I bit off a little more than I could chew, as I am so prone to doing!}
– revise 25 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– connect with three friends
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
drop off donation to Goodwill

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– help take care of my Grandma as best I can
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
salted caramel apple crisp via Panera Bread Co.
grilled zucchini and corn tostadas via Two Peas & Their Pod
– chunky sausage and veggie pasta sauce via Chew Out Loud
dark chocolate chunk peanut butter blondies via The Pajama Chef
– my own coconut zucchini muffins

Questions of the day:

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

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

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?

a year of Wooden: week 3

My thoughts & prayers are with the Purdue community… there was a shooting at the university early today. Crazy to think that this time last year I would have been right there on campus. And I do have many friends who are still there. Please send your good thoughts.

Coach Wooden was also a Purdue alum, graduating in 1932 with a degree in English. He helped lead the Boilermakers to the National Championship and was the first player ever to be named a three-time consensus All-American. While at Purdue he was nicknamed “The Indiana Rubber Man” because he was always diving onto the hard court after the ball. The West Lafayette community treasures Coach Wooden — I spotted photos of him and framed Pyramids of Success in countless restaurants and businesses there.

a year of wooden

This year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed. I’m beginning the year with the Creed’s first item:

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.

This past week I read Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, written by Coach Wooden with Steve Jamison. I have read this book many times, and each time I learn something new. I love how it is written in brief sections so you can pick it up and read one in a few short minutes. Each section feels like a meditation or prayer or poem — a great way to begin or end your day with a little thought and reflection. When I read this book, I feel like Coach is speaking personally to me, sharing anecdotes and philosophies from his life. This is a book that grows with you. Whenever I read it, I always come away feeling refreshed and inspired.

For this week, I’ll be reading Coach Wooden’s children’s book, Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success. I think grown-ups will enjoy this easy and fun read, too! It’s perfect for the child in all of us. Better yet, read this book to a child in your life and have a conversation with him or her about the true meaning of success. Here’s a little about the book:

Inch and Miles have one last assignment before summer vacation begins. Their wise teacher, Mr. Wooden, has asked them the meaning of success. Using a magic silver whistle, Inch and Miles set out on a journey to discover the blocks of the Pyramid of Success and learn how to try 100 percent to be their personal best.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Harper For Kids, a really neat nonprofit organization that uses Inch and Miles as a teaching tool to change young kids’ lives! Learn more about their programs here.

Looking forward to hearing your comments about the book next week!

Question of the day:

  • What were your favorite books as a child?