Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Veil

As I get older, I realize how rare shared space is with the ones you love. I remember thinking to myself as a teenager, "God, I can't wait to get out of this house." Why was I in such a hurry to grow up, get out and move on? Hindsight is 20/20. I think it's impossible to appreciate the time you have under the same roof with your parents, near your family and friends, until it's gone. You can't truly appreciate it until those times are hard -- almost impossible to come by.

I'm getting married in 25 days - in Hawaii, with my family (and the girl of my dreams) by my side. We actually paid money to spend time together in the same house. Weird, right? People we love are flying there, just for us. I feel a flood of emotion just thinking about it. It's a big deal when people show up for you; overwhelming in the best way.

And as I'm getting caught up in wedding wonderland suddenly my grandma's song (Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Iz) comes on. It has no logical reason to play on my Otis Redding radio station, but there it is.  It / she has a way of doing that -- appearing in the most unlikely places as if to say "I'm not far away."
So I wonder - is the veil thin in moments like this? 
Moments where I'm celebrating a different type of veil (wedding veil)? 
Moments where I'm happy but wishing I could pick up the phone and call just to hear the sound of their voice one more time?
Do the people I love still surround me?   
Is it possible that the love they have for us reaches beyond the veil in ways that make us uncomfortable if we think about it too long -- like I'm getting freakishly cosmic?
I probably sound crazy for letting these thoughts escape my mind, but that's okay. The older I get, the less I care about what seems crazy to others; the more I want to be present.  I'm open to whatever the feeling is when it happens, and it happens, often in the most unexpected ways.  Like seeing my loved ones around me in different forms -- a song, a whisper, a stranger.  

The other day a woman got off at Amanda's bus stop carrying groceries, put down her bags and smiled at me. I felt my grandma so strongly that I had to circle the block, turn the car around (and risk seeming like a creeper) to ask if we could give her a ride. She gladly accepted the offer, doting on our small act of kindness by repeatedly calling us angels. She thanked us as she got out of the car and as we watched her walk safely to her apartment, the small fraction of time in her presence made me so happy that I almost burst into tears.

She was my grandma's spirit. And it doesn't matter if I'm the only one who felt that or actually believes it.

Death is so intriguing -- fascinating even. I've had more time to think about it than most. There once was a time in my life when I didn't think I would live to see my 20th birthday. I was diagnosed with chronic pneumonia at the age of 17, given a cystic fibrosis vest to wear at 18, team of doctors at 19 who finally found and removed the big T word (tumor), along with most of my right lung. My doctors said I shouldn't have lived through it, but I did. I'm 34 now and 2014 marks 17 years past what I thought would be my expiration date. By those terms, I've actually lived an entire second life and am staring down my third. Perhaps my experience has left me a bit more cosmic and open to angelic nudging, and I'm okay with that.
Hi, my name is Chris and I believe in angels and cosmic shit.
I'm extremely grateful for the life I have, my weird little family and the incredible amount of love that's surrounding my fiancé and I as we approach "I do." So whether I'm imagining these moments to be more than mere coincidence, or if they really are what I think they are, I'm thankful for a brush with the veil.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


She understands. 
She understands me.
She accepts my worst and loves me anyway.
She tells me my worst is still someone else's best.
She pushes me in every good way.
She holds my hand and makes my heart tingle.
She still kisses me gently.
She calms me.
She reads in bed and touches my arm without knowing that she's doing it.
She fake screams when she wants to be dramatic. 
She makes me giggle.
She is funny - like Kev Hart funny.
She is sexy.
She steals my T-shirts to sleep in.
She's beautiful. Period.
She's smart - wicked smaht (Boston accent).
She lets me in.
She loves to be wooed and to woo in return.
She shows me her most authentic self.
She lets me be me.
She gives -- oh, how she gives, to everyone.
She's a self-deprecating spin doctor when someone tries to pay her a compliment.
She talks tough but is actually a big softy.
She loves.
She loves me.
She loves me tender.
She is the girl.
She is the girl I waited for.
She is the one.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Love Note to My 14 Year Old Self...

Happy 14th birthday, Chris!

I'm sure this will be strange to hear but 20 years from now you will be grateful for these awkward teen years and the struggles you are facing...even the ones you don't want to talk to anyone about. Twenty years from now you'll have much different ideas about what is important because you don't live in Hawaii, you didn't go on a 2 year mission, you don't live next door to your childhood best friend, and you don't have the kids, car and job that you keep wishing for when you play MASH.
But hang on, because the twists and the turns that will smack you in your face over the next 20 years are the gifts that will fill your life with substance.  
Twenty years from now you won't be a beach volleyball star because your life is going to take a much different course. The air you breathe in and out every single day will have a much deeper meaning to you. It's easy to take for granted now, and that's okay. But this one minute detail won't be minute at all. You will feel grateful and value every single breath you take. 

I am proud of you, Chris.  I know you don't hear that a lot.  I know you're frustrated and the things you do sometimes seem like background noise when you try to share something. But trust me, you're parents are proud of you, too. They're paying attention but they are raising SIX kids -- sometimes more than that with all of the friends they welcome into your home, which seems really annoying at times. But watching your siblings and their friends will teach you so much about life. You'll learn from their victories and their losses. 

Your siblings and your parents will be some of your biggest cheerleaders. You'll laugh about the things that made you cry, scream, kick and pull eachother's hair. Believe it or not, your siblings will actually apologize to you for playing games like Poltergeist, making you "run to the light" because they couldn't see you. Though sibling torture will make you wish you were an only child more often than not, you'll grow up and realize how great you had it. So suck it up because these things help build your character. 

As the youngest of six, you're already honing a major super power.  Listening.  Listening is an amazing skill that will serve you life, love and all things important.  One day you will use this skill to start your own business and be part of helping other people start their business.  Listening will take you places you can't imagine because through this simple act you will learn how to communicate, hear an idea and help someone transform that idea into something greater.  

Listening will also serve you well through the great losses in your life.  You're scared of having a photographic memory but if you embrace it, especially during the moments in life that you want to remember, you'll be able to play those as easily as popping in your favorite movie. And about that, it's okay to admit that you love The Last Dragon without shame. Embrace the things that make you different from your friends because, Chris, this is the good stuff

Your parents tell you that your grandparents won't be around forever and sometimes you roll your eyes.  But they're right.  I'm telling you this because I want you to enjoy the time you have with them. The stories.  The card games. The puzzles. Ask them questions about their life. Ask them WHY they can cook 50 different types of meals only using potatoes -- there's a reason.  Ask them everything you want to ask them because when you're older, you'll want to know these things. You'll want to know EVERYTHING about them.

Keep drawing and stop throwing away everything that isn't perfect. You don't have to be perfect. Life is messy and the messy is what makes it great. So keep giving your family the cards that you draw for them. One day, even though it doesn't seem like a big deal now, they'll each tell you how much it meant. 

And here's a big secret I'm going to share with you. Twenty years from now it won't be weird to love a girl. You won't feel like you have to choose between what you think God wants for you and being true to yourself, because you'll realize that you're living the life you were meant to live. Seriously. Twenty years from now you'll have met the girl of your dreams and you'll be planning a wedding in Hawaii. And guess what? Your family will be behind you 100%...even your parents -- especially your parents.

You will grow up to be exactly who you are meant to be. So buckle your seatbelt, Chris, and get ready for the bumps in the road ahead. Smile and laugh and hold on tight when you fly over the hills and your stomach drops. Because twenty years later, your life keeps getting better.

Much love,
You at 34

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Blondie and I made the trip to Mount Rainier recently -- the first of many trips to this beautiful place. We've seen it from a distance for more than a year to which Amanda always shakes her head in wonder and says "we live in a damn post card." She's right. Up close and personal, it gets even better. 

It was a great reminder of how easy it is to get bogged down, buried in routines day after day. We sometimes take the beauty that surrounds us for granted. Being in the mountains made me stop and appreciate where I am. It reminded me to pay attention and take notice of the things, ideas, people and places that wake something inside of me. I'm drawn to moments of silence in part because they are so rare -- and if I'm quiet enough, in the stillness, I get to a place of unbelievable peace. I am moved. I feel more connected to myself, my thoughts, and my dreams. Life's stresses seem to melt far away. I feel humble, happy, overwhelmed and even a touch fearful when faced with the sheer magnitude of how small I am. Nature has a way of putting you in your place and sometimes, that's exactly what you ( I ) need. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Finding A Church Is Like Going On A Blind Date

Amanda and I relocated to Seattle from Kansas City a little over a year ago. Throughout our relationship we've talked about spirituality versus religion. As two very liberal thinkers, the confines of religion can be a difficult concept to fully grasp, but the idea is something we've continued to pursue. Our goal is to find a place where we feel accepted, connected, and inspired.

Finding a congregation can sometimes feel like going on a blind date; walking into an unknown place full of strangers, sitting down, trying to feel a the people, to the person speaking (indirectly) to you at the front, the words being spoken, the environment. And then when you leave, being honest with yourself about whether you want to go on another date, or continue to see them.
I'll be perfectly honest -- it's intimidating.  So intimidating that here's a confession: sometimes we've made it all the way to the parking lot and just couldn't muster the will to go inside. 
Growing up, I was raised in the Mormon (LDS) church. NO, my parents weren't polygamists and my life reflected nothing similar to what you may have seen on Big Love or Sister Wives.
It's a fair question because there's so much misinformation about different sects of Mormonism...but the answer is no.
I've always been grateful for my upbringing -- something I can say without hesitation. I went to church every Sunday with my family where we usually took up a pew in the back. Just sitting in church, I can remember how close I felt to them. Maybe that's part of what I loved about it. It was the one day where no matter, we stopped what we were doing and did something as a family. People would even comment that we looked like a train of people with interlocked arms around the other. If someone crossed their legs and shifted the other way, the train of arms shifted too.

I grew up in the Blue Springs First Ward and stayed in the same congregation until I moved out of state at 17. Part of me will always consider that to be home -- the people, the experience, it has a special place in my heart. It's hard to explain or put it into words but it was different. We were a tight knit community and saw each other through toddler years, awkward kid phases, teen angst. That's the good stuff.

For Mormons, going to church on Sunday is a 3 hour commitment (sometimes longer). 1 hour = Sacrament, 1 hour = Sunday School, 1 hour = dividing into Women/Men groups. I also spent much of my adolescence in seminary aka bible study before school. That's a large portion of your upbringing devoted to building a relationship with God and diving into your belief system. My dream growing up was to serve a mission for my church. My brother served in the Dominican Republic, my sister at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and I wanted to be just like them. But when I was in high school, I was beginning to discover / admit things about myself.  I knew that the one way my church wouldn't embrace me (being gay) would ultimately mean that I couldn't serve a mission for them. It took me years to figure out how to deal with that disappointment. How could being gay (my sexual preference) have such a negative effect on the good that I wanted to do (devote 2 years of my life to my relationship with God)?

Being a religious person eventually morphed into being a spiritual one, building a relationship with God outside of the walls that I was once comfortable sitting within. Looking back, I'm not sure if it was that I truly didn't belong to the places that I tried on, or if I felt that way because I carried a different truth and was fearful of how others would react to it.  I hid the truth about who I was for roughly 30 years. The pronoun game consumed how I talked about my life. I was the person who was more willing to talk about what everyone else was doing, which in some ways made me a good friend. But I did my friends and family a disservice because I was only willing to meet them part way.
I'm now 100% open about my life because I love every single part of it and who I am.  
I'm not ashamed of who I love and I no longer feel like I have to hide it; quite the opposite, actually.  It's something I celebrate because I'm one of those crazy people who actually found the girl I always dreamt about. Now that I have her, I have an overwhelming desire to continue to expand my beliefs on love and life. She challenges me to be a better person, in every way.

Perhaps this is the reason that finding that connection -- whether it's spiritual or religious -- has become even more important to me. I'm not sure that I'll find what I'm looking for through organized religion, but it's exciting to share that journey together.
It's about taking a moment to stop the chaos that surrounds daily life and breathe in the reality that we're just tiny pieces in a great big world trying to make the most of our time here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Birthday Sonny

Yesterday was my Son's 7th birthday.  Emerson (aka Sonny, aka Henry, aka Bubba, aka Boogie) was a rescue who, like most rescues, had a tough beginning.  At the time, I didn't plan on getting a dog.  I was in the middle of grad school, at the end of a really bad relationship, and timing was anything but right.  I was making the routine Target run when I saw him out of the corner of my eye.  That's where adoption shelters are smart.  Even as a marketer, it's hard for me to resist interacting.  I walked over to his kennel and we stared at each other for awhile.  A young girl took him out and handed him to me like a baby.  He looked up at me, put his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms around my neck (no joke).

"I'll take him!" I said without thinking. It was love at first sight.

That was the day my Son rescued me.  Six years later, we've lived in 5 houses together, met the girls of our dreams, and traveled cross country as a family to start a new adventure.  It's hard to believe he's already 7. So happy, happy birthday, Emerson! I'm thankful for you (and our girls) every single second of every single day.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Be Who You Want To Be

There's something rejuvenating about a fresh start.  Even if you don't make new year resolutions, there's something about turning the calendar to January, or February, or the next month.  Personally, I don't make traditional resolutions.  I focus instead on setting goals and continuously adding things to my Bucket List, no matter how much time it takes me to reach them.

2013 was a great year for crossing some pretty big items off my list.  It was the year that I made moves toward becoming the boss of my own happiness.  I read a lot--a lot of books, magazines, blogs, case studies.  I marinated on an overwhelming amount of expertise from people I respect.
(Need a little help?  Check out some of my favorite blogs: Seth, Chris, Scott, Simon, BreneAndrea. Have a suggestion? Message me.)
I committed to my ideas; even the ideas that seemed completely out of meeting my design hero.  I fired off an email last February, sent it out into the universe expecting nothing in return, and a few days later my phone rang (thanks for that, Aaron).  Nothing prepares you for answering that call and NOT sounding like a school girl.  And that's okay.  Being vulnerable is authentic.

Life is too short to not go after the things you want and be who you want to be.  This year, I'm focusing on committing more to my ideas and building a path to make it happen.  Some are small steps, others are big strides.  Some goals will be reached in a short time and others may take a year or longer.  I'm okay with that.  For me, it's about enjoying the journey, sharing the road, leaning in, and learning how to be a better me.