Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I'm going to try and keep this as simple as I can. 
Wish me luck.

I'm usually pretty positive here in this blog about my life full of "hopes, dreams, and dresses", and yes, I do try and make adventures out of my weekends whenever I can if for nothing but nostalgia's sake


I'm not that cut and dry. 
(and if you know me at all, you know that I am anything but simple)
It's not all Instagrammy goodness and chevron striped dresses.

I'm tired. {graveyard shift work is not friendly}

I'm on overload. {mostly self imposed a because "no" isn't in my vocabulary as much as it should be}

I don't feel particularly enlightened lately. {but I don't feel like completely giving up either}

What's gnawing at me?

Well a few things...

 I'm the queen of multi-tasking but even I get overwhelmed from time to time. 

First off...
I am not new to blogging or writing at all, but it was always just a solo-singularity catharsis for me.
The social circus that come along with this new round of blogging has proved to be a bit daunting for me - both for being new to it and trying to jump in with both feet.

Before I get ahead of myself, by circus, I don't mean that with one bit of insult. 
 Heck the circus is pretty damn entertaining, but imagine being a kid there for the first time not knowing what to expect...lions roaring, clowns, dancing bears, acrobats, majestic elephants, dancing ponies, cotton candy and bags full of popcorn. 

If you're in the Blogger world, you should totally get what I'm talking about.

There's so much incredible content out there, so many bloggers doing amazing things, 
so many niches, photography, DIY, how-to, link ups, coffee dates, Wordless Wednesdays, Meatless Mondays, Thoughtful Thursdays, Instagram Fridays. 
 I look at all these incredible blogs and I don't get green with envy,
but I get a little bit yellow with wonder. 
 How do you do it all?  How do you ladies (and gentlemen) manage to work, take care of your families, your spouses, your charities, your hobbies, go to church, exercise, run marathons, bake cookies, and write about it nearly every day. 
How do you, how do you...???

The bills...
because they're totally piled up, I'm just trying to keep afloat, and as much as I love (can I say LOVE) having my space all to myself and now that "my place" so much more of a reflection of me than it ever has been before, I think I'm going to have to take on a roommate to get things straightened out for awhile.

My heart is...
well, I'm not gonna keep going all Taylor Swift with that thing
 1) that's just not me and 2)  I've {mostly} resolved that I am not the keeper of my destiny, there's a plan out there, and like Steve Job's says, you cannot see the dots connecting in the future, only when you look back, but you have to believe in it, in the plan, in whatever you choose to call it.
 I call it my Faith in God.

In the meantime, I do what I can do.
I set new boundaries.
I pray. 
{this is a force of calm in my chaotic everyday}

My body is tired exhausted.
I put myself on blast last week about my lack of fitness goals and regimen, and while I've had the most amazing support from my friends, my body is in that initial shock phase where all my muscles and joints are doing the collective WTF?! every time I move or lift something heavier than Styrofoam cup. 
I'll get over it, muscle memory is an impressive thing, and I'm actually craving a workout now, but I'm safely tucked away at work and at 6am when I get off, sleep will come knocking again before the gym does.
I'll get there soon enough.  I'm on a mission now, it's not just a pit stop.

{one of my favorite new finds, abeautifulmessinside.com
if not for the name alone, I found her recently and love  her site and her daily Facebook pick me ups.}  

I'm not looking for sympathy, so please save that for someone else who actually might really need it.

I'm just venting. 

I'm just trying to leave it all on the proverbial floor here on this blog. 
 Like in yoga studio, where I find I think so clearly, not just on the surface, but down in the depths of the what's bothering me.  
The heart of the problem. 
I think & I stretch & I sweat.

{from abeautifulmessinside.com}
I find that I keep seeing the same messages coming at me just a word or two at at time.
So, I am going to type them out right here and right now.
Because just like my fitness confession, breathing life into these simple words here for my little part of the world to see, well, it places them on a platform.  
Exposes them to the light of understanding. 
It gives them life.


Be still.



Let it be.

{just breathe}

~ Lauren 

Monday, July 30, 2012

My new friend: The Jewelry Whisperer

I have a tale.
It is a story of kismet.

Once upon a time there was a girl {*ahem* me}
who decided to start upon a new adventure {*ahem* this blog}.
She moved into the land of Blogspot and laid claim to her part of the land.

{thanks, Shane!}

Seeing as the new land was a Land of Lovelies, a new friend came along quickly and said hello.
{the new friend!!}
The new friend, a red-haired madien, was a regular in the Land of Lovelies.
She was also the host of many gatherings {that's a lot of linkage!} with all the other lovelies in the land.

One day she set up a market, a place where all the lovelies could come and share their wares & trade their goods.  Something they called "bling".

The new girl wanted to play and so one day that she stumbled upon a brand new trinket in her little cottage that she knew she could share.

{this little guy needed a new home and someone to love him}
She told her new friend that she would come to the market but did not tell her what she was bringing. 

A few fortnights later, the new friend sent the new girl in the land a message saying she had a arranged for a fair market trade with another lovely in a far away place {New Jersey!!}
An owl?!  How did you know new friend? 
Did the jewelry Fairy Godmother come and tell you what I had to share?

And then it came upon her - the new girl realized that her new friend was actually: 

The Jewelry Whisperer
{everyone say "Ooooohhhhhhhhhh" with me.}


Ok, so I'm not gonna quit my day job anytime soon and get paid handsomely to write fairy tales, buuuuut, I do want to thank Melissa, my new {and oh, so close} blogger bud for being a sweetheart, saying hi after she found me on Coast-to-Coast, pimping out my audience with a July post sponsorship, and then making such a fabulous, fantastic, fatalistic (too many F words!) jewlelry swap arrangement and helping me find a new home for a long-neglected piece of bling.  *hoo, hoo!*

Sandra, my swap buddy {yo! way ova' thea'} at RedRoseVintage, I hope you like your little treasure and p.s. your baby is so, so stinking cute!!

And, to Rachel from lalalists for my new earring bling, thank you!!

lala Lists
They're super cute, I would have totally snagged them at the store if I saw them.

This was a super-fun swap.
Now can we do it with clothing, furniture, and scrapbook materials that have gathered dust? 
Can we, can we? 
No. *sigh*
Ok, I'll head over to Craigslists before I have to be featured on an episode of Hoarders. 
I'm seriously like one Old Navy bag full of clearance items away from an intervention. 

Hope you all had a great Swapportunity too.

XoXo ~ Lauren

Saturday, July 28, 2012

snippets & soundbytes {musical genius}

it's another non-stop weekend week reality of my life
still in the midst of craziness
burning up the miles and the candles on both ends
the baggage under my eyes starting to pile up like it's a girls' trip to Vegas
starting a new training regimen the same day I shop at Costco for a 1000 person BBQ = ow
but then...
somewhere in the far too early AM moments that insomnia & exhaustion create
I catch this on elephant journal 

the reality that romance is dead is lessened by my faith in musical genius is alive and well

I heart the Collective Cadenza and after you check them out I think you will to. 

Happy Weekend!

~ Lo

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's a Natural {Glow}

...and then totally at random, looking at new blogs from Tuesday's GFC Blog Hop, I stumbled across this gem of a video from the always sarcastically funny Jenna Marbles


and then...*facepalm* I thought of this one time in Vegas:
Who's gonna yell at you for having extra bronzer on your face?  No one.
Are you embarrassed?  No, I'm just excited to BE HERE. }
Don't you just hate when you're watching YouTube satire and you realize it might possibly, exactly, totally be something based on your real life? 


Viva Las Vegas!

Go big. Go bronzed. Or go home.

~ Lo 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

confessions {lies} & sweat stains

I have a confession.

I'm putting myself on notice...I have 18 (count em!!) eight-teen 30- minute personal training sessions that have been sitting on the books at Fitness 19 for like 3 years. I'm a card carrying member of not 1 but 2 local gyms and the downtown yoga studio.  I have 3 expired sessions at the pilates studio on Main St.  Four years ago (wtf?!), I won a Crossfit package for a month of membership and free training sessions,and NEVER cashed it in.  I have 4 brand new racquetballs still airtight fresh sitting in my passenger's seat and a racquet sharing the back seat of my car with a set of 5lb hand weights, a fitness mat, a yoga mat, and a pair of Brooks running shoes. 

I've been posing like someone who gives a rat's ass about being a gym rat.  I'm a poser.

3 years...that's 36 months...1,095 days...26, 280 hours...
I"m 31, that's almost 10% of my life 
{Father, it has been 36 months, 1,095 days, and 26, 280 hours since my last confession}

I haven't cancelled my membership because even burning that fee every month is still like 1/6 of the cost of those session I bought with a tax return a few years back when I declared it the Year of Lauren.  It was the year of Bullshit and Lies I told my body.  The lies were intoxicating, they took over my mind and my will power too. 

I have THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE PINS labeled "Get Fit" on just one Pinterest board.  Go ahead, take a look.  That's just another thing I'm hoarding.  Good Lawd, someone call the Procrastination & Full of BS Police and tell them I need to assume the position.  

So, I am writing you, whoever you are reading this blog,  along with the the inner circle of folks  who I already sent this to on Facebook, the ones I know will ride my ass and my case about it...go ahead, feel free to remind me constantly 'bout this confessional. 


Even the guy on the phone at the gym scoffed when he looked up my account. Wow you have a lot of sessions he said... That shit ain't cheap...it's like an entire monthly mortgage payment full of sessions. If I could cash them out I would, but I can't so I'm gonna invest in some serious sweat equity. 

Martha Focker...don't let me get away with this shit again. I'm going in this Thursday at 12:30 to meet up with Dulon, his muscle shirt, the red clipboard, and that unwavering trainer's stare that makes my little excuses pee in their little pants.  He'll remember me and kick my ass again until I'm about damn ready to pass out. He'll have me running stairs and doing squats like I'm training for the Porta-potty squat Olympics. 

Skinny and flawless be damned...I'm not totally comfortable in my skin, I'm a chick with insecurities. I suck it when I take pictures, and I feel all the jigggly bits jiggling when I'd rather they not, but you better believe I've never been that girl who hides in her house cause she's afraid of a little muffin top.

  Confident is sexy.
I  know this.  I don't lack confidence, but I can always be a better, stronger, happier, healthier version of me.
We all can.  

Now, this isn't the first time I've written about this health & fitness struggle in a blog.  In fact, writing about my fitness battle has been one of the ligaments in the body of work that's been my private, personal blog for the last four years.  

But this is about accountability right?  
Ok, so here's to accountablity.  
Here they are, in all their self-deprecating, hopeful, full of sweat stains and self-loathing, spandex pants and sports bras glory. 

weight loss? boom!
yoga? bam!

Part of the glory of blogging is having it accessible at the refreshing of a web browser for some insta-motivation.  I joined a fitness bootcamp last September and I still have kept that weight off.  It was slow and oh so sweaty, but it worked. My inner Scarlet O'Hara took over and drove me to camp in the far too early morning hours before my brain was awake and then she grimaced through gritted teeth and blinked through salty sweat stained lashes one torturous squat and one breathless lap at at time.  

Bootcamp, those are the blogs I go back to when the voices in my head grow from a whisper to the thundering chants of a stadium roar telling me that I'm too tired, I have to much else to do, I can do it tomorrow, my feet hurt, my boobs hurt, I think I'm getting a cold, I have to be up early, snivel, whine, cry, pout...

That blog, it's unapologetic, guileless, and raw.  It is the sweat stain in my sports bra, the stretch in my workout pants, and the grimmace on my face everytime my muscles got ripped apart and grew back even stronger.  It's the aching, the pains, the frustration, and the gasping of my stagnant lungs.

and then in anthology form: 

Even if you just read day 1 and then the last week, you'll see the change. 

Bootcamp, now that was a big pick me up moment, or actually it was a series of weekly pick me ups.  One of the better decisions I made for myself in recent years.  The blogs I kept about them, I just read through some of them,and damn this girl can find a way to turn a phrase.  

You know what else? 
You better believe she can find herself again in the reflection in her own puddle of sweat as she eeeks out a few more laps and drops to her knees for a few more push-ups.

You see, I can make some great decisions for myself, it's just the consistency that's the issue.  

What finally spurred this after all the years of self-sabotage?

Today's themed picture of the day from my July Photo a Day Challenge: "Mirror" 

Well this is my mirror, the 3-year old reflection of lazy procrastination on my to-do list staring me down until I finally said ENOUGH!  

I loose sight of myself now and then.
We all do.  

But I just can't close my eyes and turn away from my own reflection any more. 
I know better.

You see this isn't about body image, sex appeal, the note's in my doctor's charts, this is all about me.

It's to me, for me, about me, from me.  
It's just about me.  
This is my time and it's about damn time.

Just for good measure and to expand my circle of accountability, I'm linking this little confessional of mine to the arena of the ladies (and gentlemen) of the GFC Blog Hop. Welcome strangers and new friends. Feel free to remind me that I have set a goal and I have nothing holding me back.

Monday, July 23, 2012

{+} 1

How was your weekend?
is what I heard as I sat down at the beginning of my shift last night. 

Uhhmmm....I had to think hard about what I did this weekend. 
I know I did stuff...but it's all kind of a blur.
Except for the wedding. 

I wore a new dress, I took a bunch of pictures, I had a good time.
{maxis, chevrons, bold stripes, oh my!}
I was the +1 for this wedding, the once removed guest, the friend of the friend.
{my date}
I cannot lie, I kind of went with the Wedding Crashers mentality. 
I sure didn't expect to find another date to take home with me, but I was definitely there for the food, the wine, and the entertainment.
{proof of curled hair that I knew would eventually just melt down my back outside}

I know, I know, it sounds terrible, being a wedding crasher, but I met my obligation as the +1, made nice with everyone at the table, and told the bride she looked beautiful, which she did, as all brides should look on their wedding day.
Even in the 100* wedding outdoors, sweet mother of industrial fans!
{Kelly's Mama bought us all electric fans for the heatwave, mine lit up, Kel's had Scooby, yup,that's how we roll}
{So you see, this is Kathy, she was my neighbor at table #9, I convinced her to have a "model" moment in the fan with me...ha! she said it looked like we were falling out of a plane.
Well, the fan was the size of a jet engine, so touche, Kathy, touche!}
{try as I may, and with the encouragement of the lady in the big,  black, floppy, Kentucky Derby hat sitting behind me (and maybe some wine), I just keep trying to work it!!! with the wind.  Look Ma, like this?!}
{I kept insisting that I was merely a brunette, but then this picture of my hair in the sunlight surfaced and it explained the  stained white table cloth, the wine soaked clutch, and the deceased wasp that tried to make friends with me at.table.number.nine. Apparently, you get a little unruly when you go red.  Mmmhmmm that's right.}

I refused to get up when All The Single Ladies started playing...and don't we all love that tradition where you are heckled to stand up and join in with every single woman in a 5 block radius, the younger ones under 18 being shot glances by their fathers, and the older ones, the aunts & the divorcees not getting eye contact at all.  Keep singing Beyonce, my unruly butt stayed right where it needed to be, in my seat, in front of the fan, and behind my champagne glass. 
{I just refuse to get into the bouquet hungry mosh pit}

Even if I refuse to play tackle for the bouquet, I am just a girl (and a photographer and a very creative soul),  so of course I noticed all the little wedding things that I'm sure took months to plan: the flowers, the table decor, all the pinteresty details, the accent colors, the way the light shone through the trees, the bridesmaids shoes, the up-do's, the delicately tied ribbons in pink and green, and finally a detail that was pointed out to me by my date: the name of the bride's late mother front row and center and then again in the brides bouquet a picture of the two of them when the bride was just a baby. 

There's always a moment during weddings that I just kind of love the most.  It's not the I-dos or the first kiss or the vows...it's the moment when the nervous, excited groom sees the bride for the first time.  It's the moment that the rest of the audience usually neglects because they're all turned around looking at the bride.  Yeah, she gets her dues, it's pretty much her day, but I always like to sneak a little glance at him and see his face light up when she first steps into view.  I know, I'm such a romantic, but you know they say it's not about the number of breaths you take but it's the moments that take your breath away.

{ Hey, just breathe, buddy, just breathe.}

Ironically, I was almost late to this shindig, solely for getting caught up on 1) sleep and 2) YouTube videos of the.one.  the.only.  my.cinematic.love-of-all-romance-movies: The Notebook.


I just have to share.

First I stumbled upon this (again):
(Girl crush alert!  She is so damn adorable!)

and then I landed on this (for the millionteenth time):

{one of my absolute favorite parts of this movie...the couple that's not afraid to tell it like it is...
"so it's not gonna be easy, it's gonna be really hard, and we're gonna have to work at this every day but I wanna do that, because I want you, I want all of you forever, you and me every day...picture your life...don't you take the easy way out...what do you want?"}

and finally cause I just love these two together and that Ryan Gosling swagger and mischievous smile and that look he gets in his eyes... (oh chil' I'm fanning myself just thinking about it! I'm all veclempt!)

So that was the highlight of my weekend. 
The hot, sweaty, coral colored, wine-stained, romantical, wind-swept, unruly highlight.

Congratulations to Mike & Jourdan, forever each other's +1. 
{and be still my Ryan Gosling beating heart}

~ Lauren 

a {beacon} in a storm

If you know me on Facebook, you've probably already seen this. 

I don't keep up with TV much these days, so other than the headlines that I see when I am online, I haven't been immersed in the nonstop news coverage lately. However, I want to share this audio clip of the radio traffic from the horrific Aurora, CO shooting last week.  Ironically, I sat in a movie theatre for nearly three hours on Wednesday morning, a sneak preview before the sneak preview for our local law enforcment community.  I sat there in the dark with a dozen armed off-duty officers while we watched a movie about a masked man who was a misunderstood hero who refused to give up. 

A quote from the movie "A hero can be anyone."

Listen to (this) at your discretion.  I have been a 911 operator and Police & Fire Dispatcher for 10 years, a police cadet and intern for 5 years prior to that.  Fifteen years of "exposure" and this audio was very stressful for me to listen to.  Ten years of taking a gamut of calls and being on the other end of pursuits, fires, shots fired, and fights by no means makes me immune to any of the emotion that comes along with witnessing, in audio or in text, the absolute terror of what happened in that theatre and in the very long minutes afterwards.  My thoughts:

I have so much to say about this...not sure where to start...this is all of us, could be any of us, any dispatcher, any cop, any paramedic, anyone who handles this kind of chaos on a regular basis...it's all of our nightmares...that was my first thought when I heard about it, how the rescuers handled it? How did they possibly do it? For us in dispatch, its not just about saving citizens and the innocent, it's listening to it all go to absolute shit in the background and not being able to throw enough resources at at a situation fast enough, listening to the body count stack up, not knowing if all the suspects are accounted for, and always doing all we can to keep all of our responders safe...it is nothing but fight or flight, the collective holding of our breath, but moving as quickly as you can. It's counting down the seconds, the minutes, knowing how quickly the loss of life is permanent if you don't get EMS to a dying patient. This is what I do, this is what so many of you reading this do, but it doesn't make it any easier to listen to. I hear the stress and the anxiety from the officers, and yes, the horror of finding a child shot in a theater full of other bodies. I hear them asking and asking and asking for more help, I hear their voices quicken, and the pleading in their words as they watch people bleed and suffer.  This dispatcher did an amazing job, I don't doubt for a second that she had incredible backup in her dispatch center with her.  She was a beacon in a storm...a constant reassurance, the voice that said "I heard you, we're sending more, you're not alone".  This is the recorded section of one very tragic, disastrous event that has the world's attention now, but this is the taste of the worst case scenario we are all trained to handle. For all those who responded to this tragedy in Colorado, may God be with you...job well done, may you never have to face anything like this again. For the families of the victims, I can only listen and watch from here and pray for you. We cannot keep senseless acts like this from happening, there will always be madmen, but there will always be the good guys, the officers, the firefighters, the dispatchers that will come along and fight the good fight, run towards the danger, and be willing to lay down their lives for another. 


I've been participating in SheReadsTruth and the Daily Prayer Devotional - Day #8 was this verse which I read and journaled about just the other night, just before I started seeing the early morning headlines:

Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

My personal prayer after reading that verse: God, grant the wisdom & discernment to those who lead this Nation.  Guide them, protect them, honor their sacrifice.  Let them serve you & protect us and our rights to believe, speak, and preach your name freely.  God, Bless America.

One constant I was taught as a child was to respect authority, even not so much as the man and politically my father was very vocal about who he thought should hold office, but we were always taught to honor the postion of authority that is how we learned to pray.  Now I extend this prayer beyond our just our leaders and decision makers and make it for all of the dispatchers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, and our Military servicemen and woman who keep us safe every single day and every single night.   I thank you, I stand next to you proudly, I honor your sacrifice.  I know that no amount of gun-control or counter-intelligence will keep all the madmen at bay.  Always and never simply do not exist in this world, but that will not keep us from fighting the good fight and continuing to sacrifice ourselves, in part and in whole, to keep others safe. 

For all the responders from last Friday morning's tragedy, mostly nameless and faceless to those of us watching from afar, but unknown and unseen, you each rose above and beyond, unwavering.  A hero that day was not just anyone, it was everyone.  It was everyone of you who gave their all and will continue to bear the emotional brunt of what you saw and heard.  Be proud, stand tall, and know that you did everything you could have done despite the circumstances.  Peace may not come easily or consistenly over the next days, weeks, and months, but I pray that it will come eventually for each and everyone of you.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

snippets & soundbytes: {wasting time)

I had full well intended to stay in last night. 
It was hot and there was nothing pressing on my to-do list besides catch up on all my blogs and edit some pictures.  Instead, I found myself out at a friend's house in the country out back on the patio hanging out under the stars 

Managing to make it home before the crack of midnight, came home to the lone dog in the house, and did what I always do in this quiet museum of mine...turned the music on.  

Somewhere on random select, I was graced with this song and yes, again my "new" favorite who I've always heard a single at a time, but never really listened to.  

I listened to this rendition of Otis Redding's classic at least a half a dozen times while the dog ran around chasing down flies. 

I remembered the time I broke my toe a few years back at the Fillmore in San Francisco and rolled my eyes at myself. Logic failed me that night as I wore open toed shoes to a rock concert.
Oh well, what's a toe to sacrifice for a great concert and a good memory?

If you ever get a chance to go to a concert there, make sure you take advantage. 
It's a legendary place and the walls are graced with some of the most colorful poster art you can find.
Art you'll find in museums and in private collections these days. 
 If those walls could talk, they'd tell you they've played host to the musicians of the ages:
 the rock gods, the rebels, and the lyrical game changers.  

I leave you with another soundbyte in this soundtrack that is my life & a snippet from the photo journal of my misadventures I've been making one picture at a time for many years now.

{I've got to pay homage to the original, a classic feel good song you just can't help but sing along with.}

{3 Doors Down concert, 2008, don't let the smile distract from the broken, swelling toe that now points slightly to the left. It can tell you when the rain is gonna come}

~ Lauren 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

{Survived}: my weekend in pictures

I saw this weekend coming for weeks...
on paper, in my calendar, it looked manageable. 
 It would prove to test my limits, but it was so worth it. 

It was jam-packed full of: family, friends, food, 5Ks, personal achievements, music, mishaps and detours, many, many miles and oh so many memories.

Earlier this week, I announced that I had some craziness coming at me like a runaway train,
some of you wished me well,
maybe a few of you prayed that I'd make it through in once piece. 

Thank you, thank you. 
I survived, barely any worse for the wear {ok, maybe a few lbs extra, but I'll work those off in due time}.
If I didn't get a chance to see you in the last few days, here's the storyboard:

My official weekend began on Wednesday, the only day without out of town plans, I was overdue for a visit to my Grandparents.
It's tradition to grab tacos from our local taqueria and sit and catch up for a couple of hours. 
This time, we each had unexpected, belated gifts to exchange. 
Really though, just hanging out with Grams & Gramps is a treat in itself. 

Thursday was left to appointments, bills, some time with my Uncle Mick, and a 10 hour shift-trade that lasted well into the AM hours.  Enough to keep a girl plenty busy.  I just drove around town and gave my money away, but there's this thing called ownership and that other thing called functioning utilities.  Meh. 

{bills, bills, bills...but then I got to go to lunch with this sweet ol' guy!}
Friday, the day that pushed the limits. 

{cousins are as cousins do, my younger crazy bro, my cousin, and me}
{we wait, we make faces, we stand, we make faces, we take pictures, we make faces}

After about 2.5 hours of sleep coming off of my Thursday night trade, I was up at 6am and getting ready to be in Sacramento for 2012's first graduating class of the California Highway Patrol (hoo-rah!), my cousin, Mike, being one of those proud, new officers.
{The Class Motto: "Blessed are the Peacekeepers"...for they shall be called the Sons of God. It is and has been one of my favorite Cop verses/sayings for years now. 
It made me happy to know that this graduating class of 67 men and women began their careers with that as their motto and their direction for their future. 
God Bless the Peacekeepers}

I've been the law enforcement black sheep in my family for about 15 years, to know that there would be someone else in this profession with me in our family now -  knowing the climate of these political and criminal days lately, knowing what it was to take that oath, and put on that badge, knowing the stress of training, shift work, not just the physical stress, but the emotional one, knowing that it's a sacrifice of the entire family when you have someone in a uniform, in a vest, on the side of the highway, behind a gun and a shield, in the service of others and willing to sacrifice everything that comes with that...to know these things is bittersweet.  It is humbling and proud all at once.

I just sat there in that gymnasium and listened with pride and tears in my eyes as I heard these words said over and over again from various speakers: 

you are all public servants, we are the muscle & bone of government
you are warriors, peacemakers, and now you know that you are more than the sum of yourselves
know that you have the authority but now the responsibility
stand proud, noble, upright, humble
remember you are and remember who stands next to you
May God be with you all

Leaving the gradation after the badge pinning, I headed straight over to this Capitol adjacent office to talk politics and political strategy game plan for the upcoming local election campaigns. 
Yes, this is what I do in my "free" time as the 8-year+ Secretary of the Police Officers Association.
I wear a lot of hats and crack a lot of whips.

Back in high school, there were two things I said I knew (I was 17, I knew tons of s#!% yo!) that I just didn't want to "sit in front of a computer screen all day" or "work in politics".
Adult Lauren, meet 17-y/o Lauren, she jinxed you. 

{Friday the 13th, the day when Scratchers, nude peep toe pumps, and purses ride shotgun}

No rest for the wicked, the rest of my day was tied up in traffic, errands, and trying to figure out how to intravenously inject caffeine into my system and wondering if I just poured it directly into my eyeballs would it be more effective? 

{Gallery showing/fundraiser for Rwanda for Justice, an NPO operating to educate Rwandan law enforcement and medical professionals to treat and counsel childhood victims of sexual abuse}

Home with just an hour to nap and change again, I headed off to an art showing for my good friend, and well she might as well be a little sister, Kerri, who had her first art showing.  She said "yeah, it'll just be a few pictures up on a wall. Oh ye of little self-confidence.  This was a showing of beauty, compassion, grace, talent, and pure God-given talent.  So young, so nervous, this girl is incredible, humble, and talented beyond her years.  This is just her beginning.  Someday I'll say "I knew her in her infancy, she was my second shooter at a wedding one time and now her portraits are in international art galleries."

Between the graduation in the morning and the gallery showing at night, it was just a day to celebrate personal achievement and applaud the compassion and dedication of the human spirit.

{my always-ready passenger, Uncle Mick, came with me - he just likes to get out and have a good time, and it comes easy for him because he is truly one of the friendliest men you will ever meet - we shall mark this photo "pre-incident"}

The actual "incident" involved a high curb and some gravel.  Let's just say it as a big monkey wrench in the long day that was Friday, but we literally rolled with the punches.
{we are 1 more incident away from an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) issued by Adult Protective Services (APS), me being the "restrained party" (R/O)...
I swear, it's just a coincidence that I'm always there for the falls.}

I busted out the EMD assessment with the quickness, gathered some first aid supplies, applied a few rusty, old  EMT skills and had this guy all patched up in no time. 
 Our cover story: teaching some local kids at the community center  what it was like to box back in the days of Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier, things just got a little too real, yo!

Friday still incomplete without making pasta for 50 people, a night of cooking was still in store.  Let's say that tired cooks, sundresses, and boiling water do not mix.  Pasta is pretty forgiving, the cooking gods smiled down upon me and I prevailed just before the stroke of 2am.
{Childhood memory: my mom used to spank me with these wooden spoons when I was a kid...a few years later, she was talking to the neighbor over the back fence.  He told her that he found half a dozen wooden spoons thrown over the fence and was she missing any?  Uhhh...so slick us younguns thought we were.  So slick.}

Saturday ushered in yet another celebration with the entire family to celebrate our new Officer's accomplishments.  I just watched their faces, their reactions at the training video, the questions they had filled with wonder about what they had seen on COPS, how bad the new "beat" was going to be...perception vs. reality.  I just smiled at my cousin with the look that said "I've got your back."  He's part of the Police family now, a different breed, the one that bleeds blue and runs into danger while everyone else is running out.

{20 minutes in the sunshine on the edge of the pool watching the youngest generation of my family float all their childhood troubles away - remembering when a bathing suit, a pair of goggles and the awe of being able to do a headstand underwater was all it took to create bliss}

Earlier this year, I made it a goal to walk/run/participate in an organized run once a month for a year.  I started in March and haven't missed a month yet...this month made 5 for 5.  Of course an epic weekend wouldn't be epic without some kind of physical challenge.  Just the sheer distance between the Bay Area and Davis, CA in a jam packed weekend was enough to count as a physical challenge, but nonetheless, I got myself home, in my house for a quick change and off to the Moo-nlight Race along with what could have been half of the population of Northern California.

{these are the real runners...the marathoners, they came at us like hoards of zombies...we were walking, but I felt like we were slowly going to be overtaken by "walkers"...note to self: couch to 5-k, get on it so next time you won't become a speed bump for people in lycra and duty belts full of hydration bottles}
I could stop here and tell you that after the "run" I went home and went to be early, but I'd be lying. 
There was a post-party for the retirement party I missed while stuck in Davis traffic, so I ended up out on a ranch just east west of town and caught up with old friends in loooooow places {channel your inner Garth Brooks, go ahead, I know you just sang that lyric}. 

And then...Sunday came. 
I had been counting down the days to Sunday for months. 
Named The BEST Day Ever (part duex) 2012 edition, Sunday belonged to two of our favorite guys:
Kenny & Tim
You see, I am just a little bit more country than rock and roll.

{supplies .99 at a time, we got some looks standing in line...proof that our crazy day plans were already working}

{party supplies...we were prepared to make friends and have fun, this was round 2, we tried this technique 4 years ago with great success, people will do just about anything for free booze lemme tell you!!!}

{What Would You Do For A Jello Shot?!  Would you hula-hoop?  Would you limbo?  Would you strip down into a bikini top and grass skirt and do a little dance?}
{2008...who could say no to this band of merry Jello shot do-gooders?  No one, that's who.  No one.}
{girls, horns, and camera phones...we be making memories all day long}
{I call this an oasis...you call it what you want, this is a County Music fans Mecca}

{just happy}

{Kodak moment meets the tour bus}

{The clear day rolled out with the sunset and the Bay Area fog bank rolled in, just in time for a light show to put on a dance over our heads.  As I looked up singing along, I whispered  wishes and hellos to loved ones far and wide, the people that I thought of as my favorite songs floated out across the Coliseum.  Music always takes me to my favorite places, my favorite people, and my favorite times.  Music makes my world go 'round.}
Oh, how was the concert?  It was awesome!!!  I have a not-so-secret love affair with all musical things Kenny Chesney.  He loves what he does and it shows.  He's not singing to throngs of fans, he's putting on a show for all of his friends.  I'm a regular concert goer, and my musical taste runs the gamut.  There is nothing more disappointing than paying good, hard-earned money to watch someone put on the light and smoke show and a half-assed lip-synced show.  You'll never get that here. 

In the words of Kenny Chesney himself  "Music is one of the most powerful forces.  It speaks to our hearts, our minds, our souls...it takes us back to places we've forgotten and memories that have faded."
{We danced.  We sang.  We drank.  We smiled into the night...
We took pictures,  we made new friends, but above all else, we had fun, we made new memories, and we didn't worry about the to-do lists, family concerns, and job responsibilities, even if just for a few hours.}

I leave my weekend with a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, an empty gas tank, an iPhone full to capacity with videos and pictures, an always increasing appreciation for my friends & family, a letting go of feeling like this place I call home is suffocating me, and a heart full of memories. 

I could tell you that it's easy for me to remember to be grateful and thankful all the time, but I'm not. 
I slip into wondering if the things I really want will ever happen for me.
Yeah, it's not all concert-stubs, sappy blogs, and photo challenges.

I can tell you that I sometimes think I'm addicted to staying busy, that when things slow down, I don't know what to do with myself because I've programmed myself to fill my days with meaning and purpose, or entertainment and hobbies.

I can make all kinds of comparisons about what it isn't, but what I will tell you it is
is that I am always making an effort to take advantage of the days and find time
for the people who I hold dear to me. 

I will tell you that the effort is worth it and you can always get some sleep tomorrow.

I will tell you that it's not the days we remember but the moments. 

If you were part of any of these moments of mine in these last five days, thank you for being part of my life.

~ Lauren