Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How The Bachelor Unites Us

I swear I am not sinking to a new low; or maybe I am, but I have decided that having common ground with women from all walks of life is very powerful and I recently found some common ground through the ridiculousness that is The Bachelor.

I was recently at a gathering at a friend’s house who was hosting a Noonday Jewelry party {AWESOME jewelry and an AWESOME company!!!}. I found it fascinating to watch and interact with women who all have a million layers to their unique stories: Moms, non-moms, non-moms by choice, non-moms not by choice, single, married, dating, divorced, outside of the home professionals, inside of the home professionals, religious, non-religious
 etc. etc. etc.
I got home and said to Brian, “It’s exhausting being a woman.” I said this because I experienced the pressure I put on myself {do we all do this?} when I am in this sort of setting. I think we are getting better, but for some reason it seems like, as a woman, it is an instinct to “size up” the “competition”. I picture the scene from “Mean Girls” where any given setting filled with women has the potential to become an animalistic war zone.
Image result for mean girls animal
At this party, I was definitely comparing myself to the women in front of me. I kept noting things about myself that felt different:  I was the oldest, least in shape, non-mom by choice, etc.etc. I found myself stopping and starting conversations abruptly because I felt the “comparison monster” creep in.

And then I started talking about The Bachelor and it hit me. All we really need is a few places of common ground to lessen the competitive monster’s voice. When the group of women I was talking to all agreed that Clare is a train wreck, and that Arie is dud, and that we shouldn’t watch ALL of The Bachelor spin-offs {yet we do…}, I found strength in crazy and all the other stuff sort of faded away.
I found common ground in the Instagram world too. Lord help me.

Even if all of your brain cells and soul molecules are intact because you don’t watch The Bachelor, the point of this post is that as women, there are more places of common ground than we think and we need to find them quicker. As I have reflected on this night and owning the ease to which I let the comparison monster creep in, I realized that the magnificent layers to our unique stories need to be heard and embraced by each other--not held in competition with each other--and that should be our instinct.

So, thank you, fellow Bachelor watchers, especially those at this party, for giving me the realization that finding, embracing and celebrating common ground is what it’s all about...even if it is the most dramatic conversation ever.
Image result for most dramatic season ever
I want this.

Friday, February 9, 2018

We're not alone.

Grief is a bitch.
There’s really no way to sugar coat this.
Every single day in the news I hear a heartbreaking story where I imagine the ripple effect the death of someone will have on hundreds and hundreds of people.
Grief is a stark reality of the human experience that truly affects us all.

This week I found myself recognizing a new layer of my own grief process and as I was talking to a friend about this, she encouraged me to "blog it out". It's a vulnerable process to write about grief but I want to share this post today in hopes that some of my layers connect with or encourage others that they are not alone. That has been one of the greatest gifts I could have ever received from this almost 15 year journey; knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am not alone.

Below is a letter I wrote to a dear friend that I have been connected to since grade school, but the Universe brought us together on a regular basis about 10 years ago through the journey of grief. We write letters and emails to each other often and we send each other mementos of our respective “signs” from our loved ones
(butterflies for me, dragonflies for her).
I thought I would share the letter because sometimes it's difficult to put into words what we're feeling--especially if it surprises us. Just when I thought I had all the language I needed for what I have felt and experienced, I found myself feeling and writing this. Maybe there will be a connection for you within this, or maybe it will help you understand where someone is coming from, or maybe you need to reach out to someone who is in the throes of grief and just tell them you're there with them.
Hi, sweet friend!
I have been thinking a lot about you this week because I know you are with me on this journey and I know I can count on you to get what this email is about...
So, I had a REALLY vivid dream about Matt the other night and I feel like you are one of the very few people who would get what that means. The way the dream played out isn’t as significant as the reason I had the dream. His essence  was WITH me. It felt more like a visit than just a dream. I FELT him say he missed me. I HEARD him talking to me. I swear I FELT him hug me. It was all SO real!!!

When I woke up I knew I had interacted with him, but it was fuzzy. But then, on the way to work, out of the blue, I remembered the dream fully and I promptly started crying. I was crying cartoon-like tears; big, rolling, wet tears. They were pained tears, but also reassuring in a way. I think they were the physical release of what happened in my dream. I haven't ever responded this way and I couldn't stop crying! I was trying to get it together so I could drive and not be a total wreck when I got to work, but that was not easy!

I have never really thought about this before, but I am now convinced that tears have different personalities. Some are angry, some are wistful, some are downright sad, and some are happy!  This set of tears was the connection kind and those hold a super special place in the grief process. These are the ones that only I understand and feel. These are the ones that mark that space in my soul that is sacred and belongs only to me. These are the rare ones that surprise me the most. They can't be predicted and they can't be explained, but they're a part of this--and me.

I'm not sure if all of this makes sense, but I know that's okay because I know you carry this with me and I am so very grateful. I know our grief is very different, but I also know that it doesn't really matter because for some wonderful reason the Universe has linked our stories together in a very unique and sacred way and I know that we can share our grief process with each other. I absolutely do not take this for granted--thank you for being with me!

I think about you quite often and I hope you know you are never alone. I know I am never alone because of you in my life and I am forever grateful.

I love you, dear, sweet friend. May light and hope find you today.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

This is our 2017 Holiday card! Cheers!

Happy Holidays From The Laniel Family!
Our year at a glance:
When you're in your mid 40's developing new habits and making new friends isn't easy. 
But we dominated this in 2017.  
Brian went back to school in January to finish his business degree. Being a student again has challenged him in many ways and he has crushed it. I'm super proud of him for putting himself out there and for putting up with my cooking on days that he had a late class.
I have been lucky enough to add regular reading to my life because of a book club I was invited to join. We meet every month and while drinking wine is a big part of our get togethers, we actually read the books and discuss them! These new friends are wonderful and I am so glad that I get to interact with them and their stories.

BTW-here are my top five favorite books we read this year:
Image result for my grandmother told me she's sorry

The hightlight of our spring was embracing our Aunt-ness and Uncle-ness with our non-blood relatives. We had  the distinct privilege to attend one of our niece's graduations in Kansas City, MO and one of our nephew's graduations in Sheridan, WY.

We were bursting with pride to be a part of Elly's special day where she was the valedictorian (!!!!!!!!). Her speech was incredible and I may have cried through the entire thing. Elly is incredibly bright, funny, driven and beautiful. She is bound to change the world, she already is!  Spending time with the Puckett family is pure joy for us. I am not able to capture in words the place that the Puckett family has in our lives. To be Aunt Kari and Uncle Brian to their kids and to have the soul connection that we have with Shana and Cory is truly priceless. 

Liam will always, always hold a special place in my life. When I met him he was a one month old premie. He has grown up to be the kindest human I know. He is creative, confident, and opinionated. He's a truly talented writer and I am excited to see where his path leads him. Brian and I started "Aunt Kari and Uncle Brian camp" with the Jones boys where we hosted the boys for a few days during the summer and explored all things Denver. We look forward to continuing this tradition as they both live in Laramie, WY right now. The Jones family just "gets it" and we are so very grateful for them. 

Of course being Aunt Kari and Uncle Brian to these two darlings obviously brings us joy beyond words. Nora and Georgia, you light up my life. :)
^^^ This was taken in January^^^
And this was November!
They grow so fast!

We got to extend our blood relative Aunt-ness and Uncle-ness with the pure joy that is Maddox Stewart von Jacobsen. He's perfect. Our family got to meet him in September and I wrote a whole blog post about it here. 

We are truly lucky to have wonderful nephews in our lives. Brian's brother's kids, Khai and Finn are hilarious and wonderful. We are excited to get to know them more this year!
Teddy, Tucker and Maddox are remarkable humans and I am so lucky to be related to them. The world is a better place because of these boys. 

When thinking about our autumn season, what truly stands out is the unapologetic embrace around the "Routine of Us". I don't know what else to call it or how to fully explain it but it simply boils down to I love our life. 
Our family makes me so happy. Brian is absolutely the most incredible human being I know and I love him with my whole heart. Baxter and Birney bring me so much comfort and joy daily and I am super grateful for them! We get to see both sets of parents on a semi-regular basis and we feel lucky to have them all so close. My parents get to be Grandma and Grandpa to Baxter almost every week. He LOVES them!

We had a great year filled with tons of other memories and treasures-- 
our hearts are truly full. 

Happy Holidays!
May you and yours have a truly wonderful 2018. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dear Sweet, Sweet Maddox

Dear Sweet, Sweet Maddox,
When I told you for the first time in person how much I love you, I knew I would never be the same. 
  One of the reasons that you've stolen my heart is that I didn't expect to have you in my life. Your parents surprised us all with the news of you and I think we sort of forgot what it's like to have a little Jacobsen around. Your cousins are young men! They are incredible people that you will learn a lot from. Their kindness, purity of heart and dedication to be their best will inspire you.
 But now, here YOU are ready to make a mark on the world, inspiring them and the rest of us to be awesome.
 As your Aunt Kari, I have the honor and the privilege of loving you, spoiling you, and giving you the hope that you are NEVER alone. I also have the "Auntness" to  buy cute outfits like this to dress you up in! (To your 20 year old self, I am sorry!)
I'm also the Aunt that will think creating a Lion King moment with the whole family is hilarious and inspirational.

Speaking of family, your parents are incredible. They want the very, very best for you and will stop at nothing to make sure you know how loved you are. They are some of my best friends and my life is so much richer because of them. We are all going to have a lot of fun together over the next several years. 
 The time I spent with you in Colorado is a SMALL taste of how much love I have for you. I want you to know that I am ALWAYS going to be here for you. 
There will be miles between us, probably our whole lives, but no matter what happens or how much distance is between us, know that we are under the same moon, and know I love you more than I can promise.

Because of you, sweet Maddox, I am already a better person and I can't thank you enough for making my heart full and my life better. 

*A special thank you to Hannah Lesley Photography for the amazing pictures.
{Hers are the ones that don't look like they were from my phone. :)} 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Space of Life

It's super vulnerable to publically process through my experience with grief, but since I chose to make it public through this little blog of mine, and because so many of you have been on this journey with me, I am continuing to process with you. Thank you for your continued Grace and support of me.

About 3 years ago I wrote this post about being in the space where some of Matt's ashes are. The poem emerged through a very ethereal experience and is one I value as a part of my journey.
I returned there this week and another poem emerged about my process with grief now and the wrestling I have done over the last several days because of it. It's a bit wobbly, but I want it documented here, with you.

The Space of Life

I am at The Sacred
where life and death
Where the majestic and
the broken
lays its head.
Where growth, change, and Life
emerge despite doubt and fear.
I’ve suffered this week--holding the
weight of what could have been--holding the
should be--
trying to recognize this weight and still
trying to see that life can be
 And here I am in the space of Life
hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, touching,

I see the pictures of you.
I cherish.
I wrestle.
I release. 
You see what I can’t;
what I shouldn’t.
You release.
You give.
You honor.   
I am free.
You were the Was.
It does not imprison me.
I am in the Is.

There is Life and Hope
and There,
in me.

If you are new to the blog or you don't know my story, I invite you to read this post or this post