deep thoughts

i have only completed 1/2 of leslie’s 2-part maternity shoot, and already i am overjoyed with the beautiful photos we are getting.  she and her family (and her big ole’ belly) are quite photogenic!

i recently read a short article online called, ‘9 signs you’re happier than you think’ by the editors of ‘prevention’ magazine.  one of the signs was ‘you hang out with happy people’ and it went on to say:

‘socializing with a cheerful person in your neighborhood increases the likelihood that you’ll be happy too, according to a new study.  how often you get together matters most, say the researchers: people who live within half a mile of a buoyant buddy increase their odds of being happy by 42%.’

so i say to leslie, my neighbor and friend:  THANKS!  you make me happy.



i have been in major hibernation mode lately.  all i want to do in those fragments of minutes when i’m not working or caring for the wee one (which sums up to about 45 minutes of each day) is either cook something, eat something, or lay completely still on a flat surface and just breathe in the silence for a second.  this is especially apparent if you have visited my blog lately and wondered, “is chloe alive?”  yezzir, my laziness has affected the upkeep of this here blog.  truly, i lied.  it’s not laziness.  i have just been swamped with personal and professional fun-ness non-stop for the last several months, and although it’s been a great ride, i’m ready for a slower winter compared to the fall i just spun through like the tazmanian devil. 

anyway, back to me being a slacker!  i apologize to my handful of dedicated readers, who, i know, must be on the verge of giving up on me.  i promise that i’m coming back soon, and there is lots to share in 2011, starting from way back in the summer of 2010 (yep, i am that far behind) and onward, including bundles of arden’s cuteness, several photo shoots (mamas, babies, my first wedding -woo!) and maybe even a recipe or two.  cuz , ya know, i’ve been doing all this cooking and eating.  so please stay tuned!!

p.s.  my new year’s resolution = to stop apologizing for being behind in my blogging.  it is what it is, people.  life is bus-Y.  and sometimes a girl just needs to lie down!

*photo above taken at the home of jason’s ‘grandmommy’ in snow-covered centralia, il, during our visit right before christmas.  notice the mardi gras beads, pink velvet purse and silver shoes over arden’s pajama-stockinged feet.  what a priss!

in light of the enormous amount of stress i have felt this week (and really it’s no more stress than usual, but probably has something to do with aunt flo making a surprise visit monday morning, for the first time in 17 months….sorry if that’s too much information for anyone!), i thought i’d share this quote from another blog i read regularly,

“Did you have a nice week? Was it a productive one or do you feel a bit behind? Let’s make a deal. Whether you had a good week or a not-so-good one let’s agree to make this weekend great, okay? Find some time to play with your children, mend a hem, watch a film, paint something pretty, doodle in your journal… but let’s all carve out some time to give something back to ourselves and to be kind and caring to those we love, maybe even a little extra.”

i need reminders every now and then, to carve time in my schedule to “be kind and caring” to myself and others….sad, but true.  i’m gonna try better today, and every day forward.  i guess i can thank the arrival of spring and the anticipation of the easter holiday for the motivation to be ‘reborn’ in my attitude and actions towards others.  and i guess i can thank my sore throat and oncoming cold that my husband and baby seemed to have passed along to me to remind me to be kinder to myself.  (i can’t really complain about the cold, cuz i know i got it from all that face-to-face snuggling and smooching that arden and i have done all week, so it was well-worth the sacrifice.)  all that being said, i hope you have a happy weekend!  i am going to take a nap.

this post is not to related to last night’s oscars.  (i haven’t watched it yet, although i did remember to record it, after forgetting and missing the golden globes AND the grammy’s!)  i felt the urge to mention a moving story that kept popping into my head over the weekend.  roger ebert was on oprah the other day with his wife.  he lost his lower jaw and his voice to cancer 4 years ago, but that hasn’t slowed him down one bit.  he still watches multiple movies every day, writing and blogging about them, and now he’s got a fancy new computer that speaks for him, in his own voice!  (where will technology take us next?)

the stunning part of the story, to me, was how unconditonally dedicated ebert’s wife is to him.  she attends all of his movie screenings and takes such incredible care of him, without showing pity or making him feel helpless.  she seems to translate his deepest feelings quite accurately….she gives him a voice, and perhaps the inspiration to live.  watching their loving interactions with each other put things in perspective for me. 

in the grand scheme of life, the important things really boil down to the relationships we make, most importantly with family.  there’s a reason we vow at weddings to keep each other ‘for better or worse.’  life relentlessly hands us challenges, some of them tougher than others.  the people with which we choose to spend our lives are the ones who will (hopefully) stand beside us when the biggest challenges jump up out of nowhere and slap us in the face!  luckily, jason and i haven’t yet been forced to face anything dramatically devastating.  but i have seen my grandmother go through a challenge recently after having a kitchen fire, and it touches me to see how many family members have stepped in to help her through the displacement, the redesign of an entire house, the daily questions with the insurance company and the occasional bump on her head if she falls.  how awesome that she and my grandfather created this beautiful family, and now we are standing beside her while she struggles.  hopefully, we’ve helped make some tangy lemonade with her handful of lemons!

the bottom line here is that i hope, when i’m at the end of my days, that i have earned two thumbs up from the people i love most in my life….this story has inspired me to try harder.  ebert’s wife read an excerpt from his journal that, since i couldn’t find it on the internet anywhere, i thought i’d share here: 

“i believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier- and something to make ourselves a little happier- that is about the best that we can do.  to make others less happy is a crime.  to make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts.  we must try to contribute joy to the world.  that is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances.  we must try.  i didn’t always know this, and i am happy that i lived long enough to find it out.”

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two years ago to this day, jason and i were arriving in bangkok to launch our 3-week journey thru thailand with jason’s uncle scott and his beautiful wife, nym.  what a trip!  not only did we see some of the most breathtakingly gorgeous sites and landscapes and eat some of the tastiest (and spiciest!) food on the globe, i also learned something that i will always cherish as one of my most important life lessons: that, contrary to the american way of life, we humans do NOT need to work ourselves to the bone in order to receive life’s blessings and moments of fulfillment. 

i remember during a long and very bumpy drive out of the jungle with scott and nym and three new thai friends, i had an epiphany that all of these people squeezed in tight next to me in this pickup truck each had many more years under their belt than i, but yet many fewer lines on their faces.  and i don’t just think it was their diet or their genes….they were all truly less stressed than i.  and after spending three consecutive nights in the jungle, i also realized i had experienced three separate work-related dreams (or nightmares) each morning before waking up to the sound of the village schoolchildren’s morning hymns echoing throughout the mountains.

something struck me as completely wrong about that situation, and it was then and there that my aspirations changed: i would no longer fret about the overly competitive nature of my co-workers; i would work out for my health and to feel more alive than to achieve that perfect bathing-suit body that i will probably never have; i would only run dreaded errands on weekends to provide us with necessary food or toilet paper, but maybe not those shoes that i saw are on sale at the mall….

basically, i decided to live a simpler, more meaningful life that day.  now, two years, one layoff and then an entirely new way of working, one perfect newborn baby and a whole lotta new gray hairs later, i am still working at perfecting this new attitude toward life.  it is not easy to do while living in america, with all the reality TV shows you could ever want to watch at your fingertips. (and i do love my TV!)  but i am enjoying each moment i have to spend with arden when most people i know are rushing off to work in an office each day, and i am even moreso appreciating every moment that jason spends with his nose to the grindstone, so that we can raise our daughter in a way that will hopefully teach her that life isn’t all about money and who has the most ‘stuff.’  it is also about ingesting the spiciest red chili you could ever imagine, riding on an elephant with your loved one, exploring the intricate details of palaces and temples, swimming over a sea of menacing urchins just feet below you, meeting people who speak an unwritten language and taking rides thru the jungle with friends squeezed in tight around you in a bumpy pickup truck.  you gotta just hang on and enjoy the ride!

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IMG_2311so to scott and nym:

KHAP KHUN KA… for providing us with the opportunity and encouragement to take an awesome life-changing journey, and for helping us add many wonderful memories to our memory banks, from which we can pull on those especially fast-paced days back here on american soil!  you both are delicious.