Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Love

My new love in decorating is Barclay Butera.  I came across one of his books at a bookstore in Yardley last spring and I keep looking his stuff up on Pinterest.  I may need a twelve step program to get me off there.  It's really bad.   Anyway, Barclay's signature designs include lots of blue, lots of beach, lots of burlap, and he's not afraid to mix everything together.  Also lots of pillows that are plumpily fluffed, or fluffily plumped. 

I just love this room!  I wish!  So simple, so lived in, yet so elegant.  I'm not spending any money, but he gave me lots of ideas.  (It makes it sound like I had lunch with him, which I didn't.  But if I'd known he was there when we were in California, I would've made my husband take me to his store!)  What I did learn is that I want to accentuate with pillows a bit more.
Here is what I did on my bed:
Plain old pillow...

Two ribbons...

(I learned how to tie this from Runner's World...)
Make an N

Cross over like a pretzel...

Pull pretzel legs through...
(Have to trim the ends in this picture)

It works perfectly everytime!
And I have a new look to the bed for the Fall!
Thanks, Barclay!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bartender Life

Imagine that you entered every relationship as if your life depended on it.  As if what you put in and took away from that relationship would keep you alive. 

I am continuing to learn how special my brother was. I met friends of his the other night down the shore and it made me realize what it was that made him so special. Austin lived as if his life depended on other people. And it did. What if we all lived that way - as if our lives depended on the love we had for other people everyday.   Two stories:

The other night I visited the bar where Austin used to work.  His picture hangs over the bar with a quote that he is now famous for:  "Dude, you've been waving me down for ten minutes, and now you don't even know what you want to drink and you're making this beautiful girl next to you wait - at least buy her a drink!"   We've analyzed this story so many ways.  On one hand, it seemed it was his temper coming through on a busy weekend bar shift.  But if you look at it a different way, he was setting the guy up, he was building relationships.  I don't know who went home with the beautiful girl, but I'm sure she thanked Austin for the drink!  He was a good bartender.  He knew that his livelihood depended on it - on how he flirted and entertained and enticed his customers, on how he could draw them in with a story and on how well he could listen to theirs.  If he wasn't listening, he would go home with empty pockets that night.  He gave and people gave back.  He met so many friends this way - really good friends.  He entered every relationship with the attitude that his life depended on their being a part of it. 

When a friend of his called the girls from their old high school class to give them the news of Austin's death, every girl had nearly the same response.  This is what they said:  "You know, when we were young, he told me he loved me."  One after another they each said the same thing, "He loved me."  At first glance, he may appear to just be a ladies' man, a flirt, a cocky little jerk.  But the thing is, his love was true.  He loved them.  For however long, or however much, he made them feel special.   He loved whole-heartedly, as if his life depended on it.

This didn't start when he was an adult or even a young adult.  Austin, at the young age of two, had to depend on the adults and caregivers around him to survive.  He needed such intensive care and such medical expertise that he had to surrender to those adults in whose care he was placed.  Imagine knowing that your life depended on everyone around you.  What would you do?  What would you do if you knew that the shot might hurt a little less if you joked with the nurses first?  That the test might not be as bad if you thought about the time you went fishing down the shore and told the story to the technician before they began.  He built relationships the way some of us build our houses, decorating each room with special care.  Or the way we build careers, determined to reach the goal and have success.   Austin didn't have a house or a career the way most of us do, but he built a network of friendships that are the strongest of any I know.

I asked my mother once why he didn't listen to music.  We all had suggestions for playlists he might listen to that would help him relax during dialysis.  He never would, so I asked my mother if there was some reason.  You know what she told me?  "It wasn't about that with Austin.  It was about the relationships.  He didn't need to be distracted by music, he wanted to talk to you.  He wanted to know you."  That's it.  He wanted deeply to know the people in his life, however fleeting the time with that person might be. 

Imagine if we all lived that way, as if our lives depended on the people around us, really depended on them - everyone around you right now wherever you are.  And our relationship, our listening, our talking, our caring, our understanding of them and who they are,  that is what will determine our life.  For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, he took his relationships seriously, befriending everyone no matter what.   He loved because his life depended on it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Leaning In

An old boyfriend of mine way back in college once said to me, "I never want to feel that way again," after an argument we had.  The problem was that after that, we, or at least he, didn't feel much of anything.  Trying not to feel masks everything.  Later that same summer after the heart-breaking breakup, I went on a business trip with a friend and she had sage Jewish wisdom.  She said, "Aren't you glad you're feeling something!  That means you are human, you are alive!  Imagine life without feelings!"  And of course we can't.

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago and they offered to prescribe something, but I think I'm okay.  I mean this is like, um, depressing.  So it's okay to feel a little depressed.   I'm glad I had my brother.  I wouldn't trade one minute with him to not have these feelings.   It's just hard.  It's painful.  But it's real.  I'm feeling something.  Not to feel would mean that I couldn't feel the joy in my kids faces - and that's just when they are eating ice cream.  Or watching Matt swinging on the tire swing. . . Remember that feeling?  I think I'm okay feeling that.

There are a few different ways I've noticed that runners start their runs.  One is, of course, from the blocks.  The blocks allow the runner to push away, to launch off from the angled block without even touching the ground.  Another that I try to do is a kind of jump.  I hop for my first step and I can get into a good rhythm for the rest of my run.  The third way I've noticed is slow, ever-quickening steps that gradually gather momentum and end up in a good run.  But each way, no matter how you get started with your feet, you also have to Lean In.  When we were paddle-boarding in Lake Tahoe this summer the instructor told us to build up that good momentum and then don't let it go.  On a paddle board you have to lean in to maintain balance and speed.  You will be able to ride farther and faster once you have gathered that speed.  If you stop, you'll likely fall.   If you don't lean towards the hill you are climbing, you won't make it up very quickly.  If you are running you have to lean in to the wind to make it through.  If you don't lean in to the relationships you are having, you likely won't be feeling anything.  

Tomorrow is Austin's birthday.  We are all gathering at the shore to celebrate and share our grief.  I don't want to go.  I want to stay home and distract myself with Halloween pumpkins and yard sales.  I don't want to be reminded of what's happened.  I don't want to watch my family falling apart around me, remembering and wishing for the days when Austin would pull up out front in his white Jeep and yell to everyone on the porch, "Yo, dude!" grabbing his nephews and throwing them in the air.   But of course I'm going.  I'm leaning in.  I'm going and I'm going to feel the pain and the remorse we all feel.  But I'll also get to see my baby niece.  And we'll also drink some wine.  And we'll also cook and laugh and walk on the beach.   We'll eat a piece of candy everytime we pass the sideboard in the dining room.   We'll make french toast at 11 and forget we already had breakfast earlier.  We'll make nachos at four and try everyone's version of guacamole and compare it to the best we've ever had.   There will be baseball games on tv and probably football too.  People will smile. 

For some part of the summer my friend and I often discussed why 50 Shades became such a popular book among so many different people.  I think its because we all wonder how much pain we can actually tolerate.  How much do we hurt sometimes because there is also love?   We lean in and we feel and sometimes it hurts, but mostly there is love.

Austin's death hurts, but there is also love there.  If we stop hurting, if we stop leaning in, we also stop feeling the love.