Don’t forget the dream you had about you and your mom on a very large cruise ship, dark grey, sleek and shiny with glass on all sides. And the incredibly almost inconceivably high waves barreling towards you in the middle of the ocean. How the boat tilted all the way to the port side and you could see an entire ocean of sea life below the water as it dipped under. Then it flew back up and tilted starboard. At first you thought you were the only two people on the massive boat. You held your mother’s hands, silently nodding to each other, trusting what you knew she already knew: that it would right itself, which it did. Just then you understood there was a captain in the wheelhouse, you could feel the boat turning from his direction. The captain steered you directly into the monstrous waves and made the bow of that enormous cruise liner duck dive down below them like a surfer. You were in an observation deck surrounded by glass, staying dry as the waves crashed over. Never unsteady, the tossing and turning absorbed by the strength of your stance, all you could do was grasp your mother’s hands and take in the ride. Despite your fear you noticed the beautiful clarity of everything underwater. Even though you couldn’t see him, you trusted completely that the captain was steering and you were OK. It wasn’t even trust anymore, it was simple knowing. You felt his presence, pictured him perfectly even though you had never seen or met him. Then he parked it at a dock on a river and you got out and you were in Italy.

Bradley Cooper was falling in love with me, everyone could tell. Especially my mother standing across the room gossiping about it in real time with Billy Bob Thornton. They were leaning against the wall looking over at us on the couch, the same one I had seen earlier that day at Costco.

Or maybe they were swimming. In fact, yes, I believe Billy Bob and my mom were swimming and sort of leaning against the side of the pool, which was also the side of the room. She had no idea who she was talking to and it didn’t matter.

We were in the back parlor of an Old Victorian house where my dentist had his office. My mother had taken me there to sort out the business of my broken tooth – the injury sustained when someone accidentally kicked me in the mouth at my first attempt at kickboxing an hour or so before.

We waited a long time in that room, me kind of sprawled on the couch in pain, my mother quietly treading water. It was long enough for Bradley Cooper to come in, walk straight over to me and immediately profess his love. And how could he not? My face was bruised and purple, my lips swollen from the impact, blood swirling inside my mouth. And then there was the matter of the tooth.

The broken tooth extracted from the left side of my mouth was dreamlike in length – easily three feet long with a severe arc and ending in a hook with long bristled roots. For a minute I was sitting there on the couch next to Bradley holding it, staring wondrously at its size. The next, the room was empty but for me waiting alone for the angry nurse to return. I don’t recall how or why she was mean, I just felt it. I did not like her.

While I was waiting for her return another tooth, this one on the right side, came loose. It wasn’t painful and I moved it back and forth with my tongue for a while. Then I reached in with my fingers and jiggled it out. Nothing special there, just a normal sized unbroken tooth.

I woke up happy, very excited for the day to begin.

That’s right bitches, I said “my editor”! YEOW!

I figure you’ve all been sitting around wondering where the heck is Jennifer?! Har har… but seriously here’s the thing: my year of tiny goals project went off the rails before it even began so I scrapped it because I honestly was not into it. I like BIG goals, not little ones. A bit of soul searching illuminated what I really want to do – I want to write a book.

I’ve known this for a long time but I’ve been too scared to commit. Not anymore. So my 36th birthday present to myself was to hire a real bona fide professional editor to read through my drivel and help me set a course. So far it’s been fantastic!

I’m hunkering down and putting together a full-length memoir including some old writing and lots of new stuff too. Yeehaw!

Soon the blog will have a new name and focus and if my editing sage pesters me enough, eventually I’ll even have a Twitter account to go with it.

I hope you are all remarkably well and healthy and happy. Sending LOVE and LOVE and LOVE and LOVE!!

The other day I was sitting in the tiki hut in my front yard reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert again. Her follow up to Eat, Pray, Love is a fascinating history on marriage and what it has meant for women over the course of time. But of course, because she’s a fantastic writer, it is also much more. Ms. Gilbert dives in from numerous angles as she attempts to justify her upcoming forced nuptials to the love of her life. The two of them claiming to love each other too much to ever consider marriage find themselves facing deportation if they don’t make their union legal.

It’s undoubtedly a love story and not exactly anti-marriage. (And to be clear, neither am I.) However in summary, she makes a strong argument for why women should pretty much never ever succumb to the institution, or at the very least they should wait until they obtain complete autonomy and pass thirty.

It is my go-to comfort book for reassurance and acknowledgement that I am doing JUST FINE with my current life choice of singlehood on the most remote landmass on the planet.

While I was out there in the hut, the kids I live with were playing around me as they often do and the four year old threw himself onto the cushion next to me. I love how kids have no physical boundaries and think nothing of leaning in on you and climbing over you as if you’re simply an extension of the furniture. He took a look at the author picture on the back of the book and asked if it was me.

I was so instantly pleased to be compared in anyway to someone I admire so greatly, even if only from a four year old who kinda thinks I look like her. And to think someone (anyone!) in this world would think my face belongs on the back of a published book, what joy!

Ha ha. Anyway, this is all just to introduce one of Liz’s latest essays, which I consider to be an important read. I would highly recommend everyone read Committed, but if you’re not in the mood for an entire book, please at the very least check out this nugget of golden bliss:

ElizabethGilbert.com

Thank you to everyone who made suggestions of their favorite charities for me to consider giving to this year. As one of my tiny goals, I’m attempting to donate $600 this year in $50 increments to a different charity each month.

January’s 50 bucks is going to my personal favorite: Best Friends Animal Society

Their mission is clear and concise: SAVE THEM ALL. Can’t possibly argue with that!

Nearly 30 years ago, when Best Friends helped pioneer the no-kill movement, more than 17 million homeless pets were dying each year in our nation’s shelters. Today, that number is around four million unnecessary deaths annually – that is tremendous progress, but Best Friends is committed to reducing that number to zero. By implementing targeted spay/neuter and TNR programs to reduce the number of animals who enter shelters, and by increasing the number of people who adopt pets, we know we can end the killing. We know we can Save Them All.

Sound like the best thing anyone could possibly be working toward? There are many ways to get involved including tax deductible donations, volunteer vacations and pet adoptions. One of my best friends did a volunteer vacation there a few years ago and it was a truly transformative mission for her. In fact she is now a certified veterinary technician saving animals lives on a daily basis. Need a new buddy? Maybe your next pet is hanging out in the Utah sun just waiting for you to find her!

Check out their website to learn more. They are truly an awesome, inspiring and change making organization.

P.S. If you’ve never adopted a shelter dog, please go do so right now. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make. For realz yo. Need proof?

Meet Banjo Lynch, the most handsome and well behaved best friend/protector a girl could ever hope to have in her corner. Adopted at age 4 months, just two days before he was scheduled for completely senseless and unnecessary euthanasia, he has brought more joy and unconditional love to my life these past 8 years than most of the humans I’ve met so far:KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunday afternoon the idea came to me to go to the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple in Kaneohe on the windward side. It was a spectacular day, sunny but not too hot. I rang the enormous Bon-sho bell, lit incense at the base of the golden Amida Buddha statue towering 9′ high and apologized for getting stuck in my head, for swirling downwards into useless self pity.

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After walking the grounds I sat down on a bench under a little tree, crossed my legs, leaned back against the trunk and read through my copy of the Tao Te Ching.

It wasn’t really my intention to meditate but it just sort of happened that way. An hour later as I closed the book, my eyes closed with it and I sat perfectly still for quite a few minutes. It felt so good. So good to have my mouth shut, so good to not be complaining or worrying, so good to be at peace with exactly the way things are. Grateful even.

There really is nothing quite like just breathing.

Life ebbs and flows and it’s never going to stop doing that. For a while we do really well and then we slip a bit as the undertow pulls us out to sea. Friends and family show up at the water’s edge to help us back to shore. We remember to remember. We get to say we’re sorry.

I’ll slip again but for now I can be thankful that even though it still takes me longer than I’d like to recognize the fact that my thoughts are moving in a negative direction, at least I have the tools to get myself on track pretty quickly.

Here’s to inching back towards clarity and contentment. Here’s to remembering to breathe.

So now I have my first tiny goal for the year: travel to the Byodo-In Temple at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains, sit on the bench under the little tree and read through the Tao Te Ching six times before the end of January.

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Yes. Please. And thank you.

My first mistake was leaving the hotel to go take a shower in the subway. There was simply no chance of getting back on track after such an absurd decision.

It was cold, morning time somewhere in New York City. Even though I knew these were the streets of Manhattan I also knew I was in Brooklyn, but such are the oddities of our subconscious.

I came up out of the subway into the crisp fall air with wet hair and a confused feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was early and I was immediately lost even though I knew exactly where I was. I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the hotel. My parents were there and I was desperate to return, certain it was only a few blocks away.

So I wandered this way and that, not knowing what else to do. I entered and exited building after building, getting turned around and lost in various stairwells. Nothing was straightforward and the panic started rising. Lots of different buildings, lots of different stairwells. There were impossible circles like I was in a life-size M.C. Escher painting – everything cramped and dimly lit. An intense knowing that I was so close and yet helpless to get back, hovering over me like a fog.

I was completely lost in a place I knew very well and no matter what I did I kept making wrong turns. I couldn’t get back to the hotel because I couldn’t remember how to get there. I tried to use the GPS on my phone but didn’t know what address or name to put in.

There were lots of people – in rooms, in stores, on the street – but no one could help me because I refused to look lost to any of them. This went on for many hours, from sunrise to well past nightfall.

Finally I came upon a big room that opened up to a loading dock. There were children playing. A large motorized gate was open but starting to close. I ran to squeeze under it. And then I was outside at the end of a cul de sac very far away from the buzz of downtown. It was nighttime, dark, freezing cold. There was snow on the ground and the silence that comes with it.

A taxi a few hundred feet away had just dropped someone off and was making a circle to turn around. I flagged the cabbie down and ran over to jump in. In the backseat all of a sudden I was warm, all faith surrendered to the driver, the car turning back towards the city.

It was pitch-black midnight in my head when I awoke to a Thursday morning I wanted nothing to do with. Groggy and agitated, fixated on where that taxi was heading, I proceeded about my day as best I could, piecing together the clues of a dream that shook me more than any other.

I needed to go to bed early last night so at 6:30 PM I popped a couple melatonin, unwrapped my mala beads setting my intention on kind hearted clarity, and recited the Om Namo Bhagavate 108 times. I placed the beads under my pillow and was blissfully asleep by 7:00 PM.

Three hours later I awoke to my truth when my phone rang and a voicemail was left that sounded exactly as I expected it would but also exactly as I hoped it wouldn’t. It was 13 seconds of yah I’m back in town and I’m sorry I haven’t called for two weeks, I certainly owe you an explanation on that so give me a call and we’ll talk.

There was no sweetness in his apology, no hope of seeing me soon, just the shallowness of another guy who got caught being a jackass and had nothing good to report.

And since I have this new policy against jackasses who can’t be bothered to stay in touch or respect my time and be grateful for my attention… well, I had no choice but to say thanks but I think I’ll pass.

I got up at 4:30 AM not nearly as rested as I should have been but still feeling ready for the task at hand: The Honolulu Century, a 100 mile bike ride starting at Kapiolani Park, heading 50 miles up the windward side of Oahu and back. And I gotta tell you, these rides never disappoint. Every single time I push myself a little farther than I think I can, I gain a clearer more peaceful perspective on life and how I really want it to go for me.

I could have called him back and listened to his bullshit story like I’ve done with way too many douchebags before him, just like I could have given up 70 miles into the ride coming out of Kailua when we got hit with a downpour of monsoon proportions, or 80 miles in at Hawaii Kai when my quads seized and literally stopped working. I could have turned right off of Kalanianaole at East Hind, 91 miles into my journey, and gone home and back to bed instead of crossing the finish line.

But I didn’t do any of those things because these odysseys remind me again and again to never give up on myself. The pay off always comes and for all we know it’ll be as good as free donuts on the far side of the finish line and a big field of grass to sprawl out on as we sink into the bliss of satisfaction and contentment.

These are the things that are truly priceless.

Finding someone who means what he says, someone who actively stays in touch because he wants to be with me, someone who will pursue me and see me fully, someone who will think “Holy shit this girl is a frickin’ catch and I AM NOT GOING TO MESS THIS UP!”… this is what my relationship goal has become and I’m gonna reach that finish line just like I’ve reached all the other ones. It might take what feels like forever but in the end I’ll be so glad I did it.

For now I’m sad. I took a risk reaching out to this person and once again fell flat on my face. But this feeling will pass quickly, rightfully pushed aside by the satisfaction I got from the awesome people I met on the road today and the accomplishment of cutting almost 2 hours off my ride time from my last attempt at 100 miles a few months ago.

Thanks for all the messages of love and support! It means the world to me when you guys cheer me on!

Thank you thank you thank you a million times over to everyone who has sent well wishes and love for Tobi’s speedy recovery. I am so happy to report that he is on the mend and looking good!

His wounds took 5 days to stop bleeding and his shoulder is still a swollen mess, but overall he’s doing great. From his attitude you would never know anything ever happened to him. Such an inspiration and a sweet amazing little dude who I am so grateful to have in my life!

pup

My house smells like blood. That’s a weird thing to say but it’s true. Two and a half days ago my pup, my dear sweet amazing scrapper doo extraordinaire, got mistaken for a pig and attacked by a pack of four hunting dogs in the woods behind my house. So far he’s in good spirits and putting on a very tough face through the pain, which I am certain is excruciating.

The flesh of his shoulder was pulled away from the bone when one of the dogs grabbed hold and shook him. Fluid has filled the area from his neck down to his elbow. He is swollen and bruised. When I got to the scene all four dogs had their mouths on him holding him down. His little body is covered from head to toe with more scratches and bite marks than I can count including three deep punctures that have yet to stop bleeding.

They’re not really supposed to stop bleeding; his system needs to continually flush itself out to rid him of infectious bacteria. He spends most of his time lying down generating a pool of blood below his abdomen and anytime he gets up to stretch his legs he leaves a trail of bright red droplets. My carpet is suffering right alongside my heart and his ravaged body.

Of course I wish this didn’t happen, but it did so I’m searching for the life lessons as best I can between crying bouts, wound washing and loads of blood-soaked laundry.

Two things stand out the most:

#1 Trust your dog’s instincts even if you’re in a crappy mood and you don’t feel like it. If he doesn’t want to go into the woods and run around off leash like he always does it’s because he knows at this moment in time it’s a very bad idea. He can smell danger in a way you cannot so don’t force your will on him even though you’ve been in a bad state for weeks and have temporarily lost all signs of patience and/or faith.

#2 Take whatever steps are necessary to move towards creating a family. Open your heart, ask for and accept help, allow yourself to be needy, recognize that you can’t do it alone besides the fact that you shouldn’t even want to do it all alone, forgive, forget, move on.

I wish more than anything that my dog did not get attacked and was instead frolicking around the yard as his normal happy healthy self. But taking time off of work to stay with him, gently positioning him so his punctures can drain, spoon feeding him yogurt for his upset stomach, ice packing his shoulder to reduce the swelling and constantly washing the blood from his chest with wash cloth after wash cloth soaked in hydrogen peroxide… these things are making it abundantly clear to me that I can be good at family and caretaking. They are undoubtedly what’s on my horizon, undoubtedly what will fulfill my heart and soul.

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I Can Feel The Love

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