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Featured Post, Travel

Kauai: Part Two

October 29, 2015

We were greeted at the North Shore by jagged, verdurous peaks not all unlike those we saw on the East, but I was still mesmerized. I half-expected to be used to the fairytale landscapes and wonder of it all after several days of travel, but as you might expect, a place that looks like FernGully, Jurassic Park, Pandora, and wherever the fairies dance during the nutcracker suite in Fantasia is endlessly surprising.

When we arrived at the resort, we rid ourselves of our belongings and headed straight outdoors. I shook out my road-weary bones as we walked in the grass, seeing what there was to see. Soon we found ourselves perched atop an overlook of the ocean when the winds picked up, and I wrestled to simultaneously keep my hair out of my face and my dress down as I snapped a photo, before ducking into the shelter of a cabana where I fell asleep, curled up on an enormous wicker chair, to the sound of rustling curtains.

I was out for about a half hour, and fought consciousness for several minutes after I awoke before I reluctantly opened my eyes with one thing on my mind: Lava Flows — again — and maybe some food. This same scenario played out in various iterations basically every day, sometimes with “food” being more specifically replaced with “brunch,” or done away with altogether in favor of even more delicious delights, like “waterfall views.” The Lava Flows, of course, remained a constant.

Either way, we had our cake and ate it, too.

Other afternoons were spent exploring, taking in the views, getting caught in rain storms wearing all cotton, or doing all three.

But the very best afternoon was spent on a catamaran off of the Na Pali coast, ducking in and out of sea caves, and getting dunked under waterfalls.

At least that is what we did in between drinking in a kaleidoscope of color on the open ocean, and swooning over the sprawling vistas of magnificent cliffs and valleys laid out before us.

I’ll never forget it.

We made a fast, and extremely wet trip back around the coast to Hanalei, and disembarked the boat covered in salt, with sunburn on our necks and noses, smiles on our faces, and full hearts. But our Kauaian adventure wasn’t over yet. There was still the business of drinking more lava flows, making time for actual relaxation, then driving back around the island, and up the mountain to the Waimea Canyon. And at an average speed of 22.8 miles per hour, we did just that. The views from the lookout? Oh, you know, ho-hum…

I’ll never forget that either.

In fact, I’ll never forget any of it.

Featured Post, Hard Stuff

Lessons From a Legend

August 27, 2015

Last Tuesday, on August 18th, the world lost a true legend: my hero, my grandfather, Irwin Lazar. He left this earth to join his wife of 63 years, Shirley Lazar, who departed just 13 days earlier. His passing marks the end of an era, the beginning of a new family structure, and undoubtedly means that I have lost a source of strength and encouragement in my life. My grandpa was the best man I ever knew, a man who helped me to realize my own potential, and understand that I was more than my perceived weaknesses. He taught me that I didn’t have to do anything in particular to earn basic kindness, to be beautiful, or to be a person worth talking to, and nor did anyone else. My grandpa treated everyone as important. He was kind, always stood up for what he believed in (especially his family), had a great sense of dignity, commanded respect, and respected the lives and opinions of others. My grandpa knew that everyone had something to offer this world, that everyone had something to teach, that everyone had great potential. He taught me to know as much, to recognize my own worth, to work hard, to be kind, to be courageous, to listen to my own head and my own heart, and a host of other important lessons I will never forget.

I’d like to share with you six of those lessons he taught me, lessons that have seen me through some of my hardest days, lessons which I know will carry me through the long and dark journey that lies ahead. Maybe all you’ll learn is a little bit about a man who had a great impact on my life, or maybe you’ll learn something that you, too, can take with you on your own journey.

Lesson 1: Never turn your back on the ocean
I was playing near the breaking surf on the shores of NJ with my cousins, digging my feet into the wet sand until I was sunken in past my ankles. I liked the way the water rushed in quickly, surrounding me in a cold, white foam,and the way it tugged against my legs as it quickly receded from the shore. It was disorienting — looking down at my feet, stationary, as the water violently ebbed outward, giving me the distinct impression that I was moving with it. When the waves began to crash more violently and more frequently, that impression became reality. Unable to dislodge myself from the sand, and scared now, I was knocked off balance with each surge of the water. I let out a scream as my feet came free from the packed, wet sand, and I began to fall into a crashing wave. My grandpa, the only person who noticed my struggling, scooped me up in one arm, and set me down on the hot yellow sand near the dunes. “Never turn your back on a wave!” he exclaimed. Then, more gently, said, “Never turn your back on the ocean.”

In that moment, he taught me something incredibly valuable, maybe the most valuable lesson I have ever learned: to give every force in this world — a loved one, a mountain peak, a teacher, a vehicle, a child, the ocean — its due respect or be prepared to face the consequences for failing to do so. (And there is always a consequence.)

Lesson 2: You’re as good as the best 
As a child I internalized many narratives about myself that conveyed one particular message: no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, that I was not good enough, or smart enough, or anything enough. I was, to myself, a bonafide failure, and a person able to be described by any negative word ever uttered. It was quite a sad feeling, and as such, I behaved like quite a sad little girl. My grandpa seemed to recognize this more than anyone, and went to great lengths to reverse these negative ideas I had about myself and cheer me up. Aside from complimenting my strengths and drawing attention to the many ways in which I was important to the world, to my family, and to him, he took to reminding me over and over that my abilities, and every quality I possessed within me was “as good as the best, and better than the rest.” He said this so often that he replaced all the negative thoughts I had about myself with a completely new concept: that I was good enough, thank you very much, and in fact, I ranked right up there with the best of all who were. Whenever I became paralyzed by fears of failure or by fears that I was inadequate — whether it was during a college final, or doing something as simple as a pull-up — my grandpa’s voice rang through my head telling me what he always knew was true, that I was “as good as the best,” and it gave me the strength I needed to make it so. It still does.

Lesson 3: Eff beauty standards
When, as a fourteen year old girl, I dared to mention to my cousin that I was fat while sitting mere inches away from my grandpa in the back seat of his car, he immediately whirled around and declared, “I’m tired of this fat bullshit!” He spoke at length about how this opinion I held of myself was ridiculous, and how I said such self-defeating things about myself with such frequency that he worried about me. Eff anyone who dared to comment on my weight, eff the media that I consumed, and the society that I participated in which made me question my looks and my worth. I was Deena Lazar, untouchable, “better than all that horseshit,” he said. I ate a hamburger and fries for dinner that day, and finished the whole damn plate sans shame, my grandpa beaming at me, his granddaughter — still beautiful, still not fat, just a lot happier. When my teen society’s need for thinness was replaced with a greater need to conceal the fact that you were either OMGPALE or imperfect in some way, my grandpa caught me fussing over my appearance in the full-length door mirror in the guest bedroom of his Florida residence, and promptly put a stop to it. I was putting orange-looking crap all over my fair, sun damage-less face, and thankfully he caught me in time to remind me again that I was being truly ridiculous. He told me my fair skin was just fine, that orange wasn’t a good look on anyone, and that no one needed products to make them more beautiful. “I never wore any face coloring,” he said as he touched his cheek. “I never needed to wear any face coloring to look different, and you don’t need it either.” He left the room after he said this, and I immediately went to the bathroom to fix my face by taking off the orange and going without.

In both of these instances he helped me to realize that I didn’t have to play society’s game, that I didn’t need to change myself or feel bad for being who I was even if something else was trendier. He taught me to be unashamed, to be unintimidated, and to rise above it all. He taught me to be proud of myself, and to walk to the beat of my own drum: the only drum that matters. Eff everyone else.

Lesson 4:  Make an effort, give many craps
He taught me that formal language is just as easy to use as informal language. “Hay is for horses, not for men,” he said. It’s just as easy to say “hello” as it is to say “hey,” and it’s just as easy to say “thank you” as it is to say “thanks.” He taught me to speak in such a way that will be received well when it matters the most, like at a job interview, or giving a presentation. He taught me to look people in the eye when they speak to you to give them the respect they deserve (this action also conveys confidence, an added bonus). He taught me that it was important to stay up-to-date on politics and current events, and insisted on at least some knowledge about the stock market and its current state, and to have something to say about it or add to a conversation. He taught me to exceed minimum standards in all things: if being on time was good, then being early was my goal; if a paper requires that you use 3 sources, then my goal was to us 10. He taught me that I needed to really make an effort and give 110% in everything I do, because nothing good happens to people who don’t try, to people who don’t give a crap.

Lesson 5: Be kind, be generous, be thoughtful.
My grandpa was about equity over equality. He knew that to have the best impact on people, that we should meet them where they need to be met to get the biggest boost, and to him, this was basic kindness. He went to great lengths to make everyone around him feel important and included, and this wasn’t lost on me: from the way he would tailor his speech so that he didn’t bend or break his fragile granddaughter’s spirit, the way he had a pet name just for me (sweet girl), the way he gave every single one of his grandkids a crisp $100 bill when one of us found the year’s afikomen, and even the way he offered Alex a beer within a minute of meeting him while everyone else was busy sizing him up. He was quick to do a good deed, quick to give a person the shirt off his back or the hat off his head or the shoes off his feet (literally!), and quick to do anything to elicit a smile from his loved ones, which, when observed consistently, taught me was the correct way to conduct oneself. He was never stingy with thoughtful comments — whether it was to say I was beautiful, or that I had interesting things to talk about, or that he respected my opinions, or about how proud he was of me. I know he knew that I, specifically, needed those things to help me along my way, but he also knew that everyone else did, too: everyone flourishes when treated well.

Lesson 6:  You are loved (despite the voice in your head the constantly tells you otherwise)
The greatest lesson my grandpa ever taught me was that I am loved, even when my mind only seeks to find evidence to the contrary. When my brain told me I no longer had a family when my parents divorced, my grandpa cried with me as he told me that he, too, felt that way when his parents divorced but that no one can divorce their kids, or grandkids, or cousins, and I would not be alone. When my brain told me that I had to meet special criteria to earn his love, like having a bat mitzvah, for example, my grandpa told me that the only thing I ever had to do to be loved by him was to just exist. When my brain told me that the person who treated me badly must have had a good reason to do so and that I deserved it, my grandpa told me that person was just an asshole, and I deserved respect. When my brain told me that I was dumb, or unimportant, or unlovable, or hated, or forgotten, or a bad person, my grandpa was always there to hug me, to remind me of all the evidence that said differently. His love for me was the only evidence that really mattered.

I am who I am today in large part because of my grandpa. He taught me more than I could possibly write in a blog post, and meant more to me than all of my words or tears can convey. I don’t, at this point, really know how I am going to live the rest of my life when it has been so irrevocably changed and rendered unrecognizable. Absolutely nothing is the same, and nothing will ever be the same. I lost one of the only people who ever loved me and showed it, and a person I loved and respected so very much.

He was my last remaining grandparent, a true hero in my life, a person whose name I will utter whenever I am asked about who I aspire to be like. I am going to work as hard as I can to be half the person that my grandpa was.

I love you, grandpa. To be your granddaughter was an honor, and I will try to live in such a way that would make you proud.


You may click here to view his obituary.

Everyday Life, Featured Post

Emmy Fort and the Prisoners of Adolescence

July 5, 2015
It was some time in February when things started to really settle down after bringing Em home. She was fully housebroken, crate-trained, walking slack-leashed on the city streets (and down the freaking hallway, thank god), understood basic commands like “sit”, “down”, “stay”, and “give,” and did cute things like let us know when she needed to relieve herself, not completely lose her mind when I left the room, and actually sit or lay down at any point during the day.

All was finally calm in our household — it was how I imagined life with a full grown dog to be. When a fellow five-month-old puppy owner asked if our Alex and I were having just as hard of a time with our puppy as she was with hers, I was all “Well, it was hard, but now…”

To say the least, I was confident, because it wasn’t lost on me — AT ALL — that the behavior I was seeing from our puppy didn’t just magic itself into existence, but was actively created each day with persistence, consistency, and a ton of patience. A schedule that we wrote prior to bringing her home, which we followed religiously from the second she walked in the door, was the real champion, however. It set the course for our lives, which saved the sanity of my pitiful, systematic brain. Our sheer dedication to all of these things are what allowed us to build and cross some kind of bridge of puppyhood, over to an ethereal land where ALL OF THE STUFF was not hitting the fan ALL OF THE TIME.

For the first time since Em came along, I had real hope that one day life could once again resemble the way it was (e.g., not cleaning up pee every 20 minutes), and that one day, our story of raising a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog would be one of success.

But that was before I met a couple five-year-old Bostons, and BT owners in Seattle started coming out of the woodwork saying totally non-frightening things like “the energy doesn’t stop,” and Em got spayed and came home like, “IDGAF,”  which is when I realized:

By the third week after her surgery, some time in April, all hope was lost. Seven months old, and now she was ignoring her name and all commands, had regressed a little in the housebreaking arena (which we expected, but it still sucked), entirely stopped napping (naps = the only periods of relaxation you have with a Boston), began to freak out when we worked from home — at our desk — two feet away from her, was pulling on her leash again, and unremittingly jumping on the coffee table. It was unpleasant — especially the not listening and peeing everywhere (again) part — and my patience with such high levels of BS extended about a fortnight, which I think is pretty freaking reasonable for a silence-craving introvert and perfectionist, before I was like:

But I’m stubborn as hell, and I would endure virtually anything if it means that I am successful in the end, so after a day or two of exasperation, I set out to be the very calmest, determined leader that I could be. My inner Beyonce…

was successfully masking my inner Mona-Lisa Saperstein…

and I was going to be the champion of adolescence, come hell or high water.

But Em is the hell and the high water, and in May, things escalated. But only after I was led down another path of false hope when she began to relieve herself outside and nap once more, which, of course, lifted my spirits, and made the following exponential growth of adolescent BALONEY disheartening to say the least.

She started to jump on the baby gate (which quarantined her and her pee to only one area of the house) when she was frustrated, or wanted more attention, or wanted a toy/anything that was blocked by the evil contraption. Then she started doing the same thing to me — jumping on me every time she wanted something — which made for some super-fun times. Everything got extra fun when she began to chase the cat and jump on her, too.

It was endless — absolutely endless. Almost every waking hour while in the house became a fight. A fight for getting the dog to actually listen, a fight for keeping the dog (and especially her eyes) injury free, a fight for keeping the dog happy and calm, a fight for silence, a fight for ANYTHING. NORMAL.

Nothing helped. No amount of walks or play sessions, which is basically the most suggested remedy on the internet for such craziness, ever did the trick. A cure-all it is not when you have a high energy breed who laughs in the face of a 4 mile walk, and then proceeds to run around — on an empty stomach — until she throws up.

Now every time I read about a high energy dog or someone says they have one, my brain interprets it as “large dog unsuited to my lifestyle” and think:

If a 20 minute walk tires out your dog: high energy my ass. Heck, if a mile or two does them in, I’m still calling BS. Random internet resources that only tell me to do just that to somehow make my puppy behave better:

It stayed that exact same way until we moved back downtown in early June, when things got just a little worse.

When we removed the baby gate from our lives to start integrating the dog into her permanent, adult living situation, the cat chasing escalated, but this was anxiety-inducing, not irritating. What was irritating to me was when she started to add barking to the mix whenever she jumped on me, and would jump up next to me and bark if she wanted attention or for me to throw a ball, and was all around, in my face, barking and jumping constantly. That was awesome.

All I could do was ignore the behavior, ignore her, and leave the room if she did it, and praise any calmness when I came back. If I was home, I was getting up from wherever I was or stopping whatever I was doing, and leaving the room quite literally every two or so minutes. We went on like this for another few weeks before any of it paid off. But it did, finally, pay off.

Now here we are in July, the jumping has stopped, and so has most of the barking. We’re still working on the cat thing, but she has progressed by leaps and bounds in her ability to leave it alone.

Persistence, consistency, and a ton of patience wins again.

For as hellish adolescence is,  I know that all of her behavior is developmentally appropriate, and is not indicative of her overall character. It also could never sway the unconditional positive regard and love we have for her. She is absolutely the sweetest dog I have ever laid eyes on, tries so hard in all she does, is incredibly obedient when she is not rambunctious, and is the most loyal, loving friend I have ever had.  But the things is: everyone talks about this kind of stuff. The good stuff is always in the spotlight. It’s not hard to imagine that raising a puppy is fun, and fulfilling, and filled with sweet moments, but it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. To ignore that would be to perpetuate an image of a life or a situation that is unrealistic. It is hard, it is frustrating, it is, like happiness and fun, an integral part of raising a puppy. In a society where stigma about feelings other than total happiness is rampant, I want to be a person who focuses on the feelings that garner that stigma, and talk about those. The more we talk about about the hard stuff, the more we normalize it, and the more we break down defense mechanisms and barriers that keep us in this same, antiquated place that tells us that those feelings are negative, maladaptive, or wrong.

Frustration, confusing, desperation, anger, hurt, depression, anxiety, anything….they are not wrong. Even if you feel it when you have a bouncing little puppy, even if you feel it on your wedding day, even if you feel it when you bring home your new baby, even if you feel it and you’re the richest person in the world, even if you feel it when you are randomly driving in the car one day: you are allowed to feel it. It is not wrong to not to be happy with everything all of the time, and it is not wrong to say so.

I’ll never stop trying in what little way I can to change the narrative of this society.

I hope that if you, too, are raising a puppy, and you, too, don’t enjoy every single aspect, that you know that you aren’t alone. I’m right here on this crazy ride with you. I probably will be for a while.


Everyday Life, Featured Post

Meet Em

November 14, 2014

At long last, we’d like to formally introduce you to the newest addition of the Fort family!

Born 9-11-2014
Currently 9 weeks old
Weighs a bit over 6 lbs
Loves her stuffless raccoon, rope dinosaur, rope octopus, kong, and antler
Doesn’t exactly enjoy her collar
Sleeps through the night (knock wood)
Mostly goes potty where she is supposed to 😉
Incredibly energetic

She has been home with us for a week now, and it has been quite an adventure so far!

We are all adjusting well, I’d say. Aries has been so patient, and simply walks away when Em starts to chase her, nip at her tail, or become overly rambunctious in her presence. As for Alex and me, we’re still kind of getting over the shock of how much work it takes to raise a puppy — no amount of researching can ever prepare you for the feeling —  but we absolutely adore her. She is such a good girl, is learning quickly, and is endlessly entertaining. We’ve gotten a kick out of watching her bunny-hop furiously across the room, and fall off of our laps and onto the couch because she is so tiny. She is the best dog in the world to us, and if you met her, you may be hard-pressed to call us biased. 😉 We can’t wait to to watch her grow up, and are so glad she is ours.

Everyday Life, Featured Post

two big years

November 5, 2014






Two years ago, on a bright, 80-degree November morning, we sat quietly next to our bedroom door as two men loaded up a truck with all of our possessions headed on a several thousand mile journey across the country. We made a 1 and ½ hour drive on a lonely, straight stretch of highway from Athens to Atlanta, and boarded a plane with one-way tickets to Seattle tucked into our bags.

Somewhere over Lake Washington, after nearly 5 hours of contemplative silence, a woman draped in white silk and pearls  — my seat neighbor — diverted her gaze from the window, turned to me, and asked if I was going home or on vacation. I almost tell her that we’re moving, right at that very moment, to go live somewhere down there, but realize that I’m a little too overwhelmed to launch into being The New Girl in Town at that very moment, and reply with a simple, if somewhat dismissive, “Home, I guess.”

I was staring out the window trying desperately to make sense of direction, and where amongst all of the trees, water, houses, buildings, and general confusion that I would actually be living. Home was a place I didn’t even know.

But at least it was a feeling I was somewhat familiar with.

Five years earlier Alex and I were walking down the streets of Oak Harbor, and somehow, though I was technically on vacation, I felt like I had just come back from somewhere to the place that I was from. It was the weirdest, most content feeling I’ve ever had come over me, and I was overwhelmed by a peace and a happiness I had never known before.  I knew Alex must have felt the same way when he looked at me as we stood in front of a monkey-puzzle tree and he said, “We need to move to Washington.” After several more happy trips out here over the next few years, and feeling broken-hearted, disappointed, and discouraged with every departure, we made the decision around Christmas of 2011 to move here by the Fall of 2013.

It was October of 2012, on a Friday, seconds after entering the car at the end of a long day at work when Alex got that unexpected phone call offering him a job out west. We had an inkling, but didn’t truly know just how much our lives were changing. We certainly didn’t know what kind of  wonderful adventure we had ahead of us.

It’s hard to know what to say about Seattle, even two years after moving here. It is so much to us, this city.

It’s the place that captured our souls when we first laid eyes on it, the place that filled us with wonder, and hope, and washed away all of our uncertainty with it’s ever-present rain. It’s the place that gave us a life we are truly excited to live, the place that elevated us, and made us feel even stronger and more capable than we ever were. It is the place that singlehandedly shifted our definition of “home” from merely a location to lay one’s head to somewhere that makes us feel excited, content, lost in the best way, yet so grounded and safe that we know we can go anywhere and do anything, and still have a place to welcome us with open arms, a place where our hearts feel happy, a place where we belong. This place.

Being in Seattle makes us feel that life is simultaneously challenging and easy, and I don’t know if I can think of a better feeling. Life isn’t perfect for us here by any means – we’re humans, I mean, we’ll always find something to be dissatisfied about – but life sure is very, very happy.

As for Georgia, it was real. For four years, it wasn’t exactly home — but it was a lot like it — and we couldn’t be more thankful for that little town that housed, entertained, fed, and educated us on our way to where we are, to Seattle, the best thing that has happened to us, the place that we are so grateful to call our home.


Everyday Life, Featured Post

it’s the return of the…ah, wait, no way, you’re kidding…

September 12, 2014

It legitimately rained last week.  It drizzled a bit, too, which is the usual type of rain we deal with, but real rain that comes down hard and fast in big droplets? A super rare occurrence. We also heard thunder for the third time in 2 years. It was kind of a big deal. It was that rain and thunder that marked the end of the sunshine coma I’ve been in for a few weeks now, and reminded me that fall is, in fact, a thing. A thing that brought pumpkin spice lattes back to Starbucks in AUGUST, and will, with my luck, blanket the entire sky in perma-clouds by the end of the month. Pretty soon we’ll be so suffocated by fall and the accompanying Vitamin D deprivation that by the time spring makes its reappearance we’ll need it as badly as we need to breathe. But that might just be the memory of Hawaii talking.

I can’t completely deny that I love fall – I do — when I’m ready for it. It’s just that right now, in early September, I’m not, and I don’t want to leave behind bright blue skies, sun-drenched picnic lunches with friends, and sunset walks on the beach.

It kind of feels that I am leaving forever, like I’ll never again see a blue sky, or picnic with friends, or walk on the beach at sunset. Like I’ll never again have what it all represented to me: happiness. I’ve never been more happy in my entire life than I was in the year 2014 or than I was this summer, and as silly as it may sound, I’m truly scared that this was my one chance to experience it, and that my time has run out.

At least that is what one of my beasts told me this morning.

Oh! Have I ever told you about them? If you know me well, then I’m sure you’ve seen me interacting with them or heard me talking about them, but for those who are uninformed: I live with a menagerie of beasts. It’s true. They’ve been with me since I was about nine years old, and they follow me wherever I go — my faithful companions. They have been present for all of my milestones, they’ve accompanied me to each state I’ve lived in, climbed up mountains with me, and they even stood beside me at my wedding — my bridesmaids, my closest friends. They’ve followed me, directed me, talked to me for so long that sometimes I’m convinced that I am their remote-controlled human. Sometimes the beasts are unobtrusive — their rhythmic breathing providing a sort of background music for my life — but most of the time, they stay by my side, in the very way a true friend would not: with the purpose, it seems, to antagonize, shame, and berate, sayings things like “you’re not smart enough” or something equally unkind. They are kind of like the cat, actually. After something goes particularly well for me — like this year and this summer  — they tend to come out in greater numbers to chastise and scare me. My hippopotamus will bumble up beside me and cheerfully chuckle, “Look at you, little miss privilege. Could you be any stupider, any more ungrateful?” Without fail my lion comes roaring in about how I never deserved to find a place to call home, I never deserved to find Alex, let alone actually marry him, and I most certainly never deserved to be anything but miserable. My elephant usually comes in last to deliver a variation of the same old crushing words that somehow, without me knowing, I have now internalized as truth: “You’re not the person who gets what they want, Deena. Want in one hand, spit in the other, and see which one fills up the fastest. You will never, ever touch the happiness you seek.”

These are just a few of my beasts, and I am afraid of them.

This is just one of the reasons why I am truly lucky to live with a person who is not intimidated at all, and can even scare the beasts away: Alex, otherwise known as best person ever. Saying his name is like coming across an oasis in the Sahara desert, or, in my case, coming across an elephant gun in my living room. He makes me feel brave. You know what he told me this morning? He told me that he loved me, and that I was a good person, that I deserve to work towards and have anything that I want, and I deserve to be happy. So you know what I have to say to my elephant? Challenge accepted.

This year, I have tried actively to rid the beasts from my life, and to just be happy.  While I still have some work to do, I think that I have, to some degree, accomplished that goal…and it’s by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I can honestly say that nowadays, there are many days where my beasts are nowhere to be found. Some days I see them out in the distance, and then some days, they return. We’ve been together for 18 years, so, as you can imagine, it takes some adjustment to be apart. On both of our ends.

I have come a long way, I know, but as it stands, I’m still nervous about the new season. I’m nervous that my beast was right. I’m nervous that happiness is unsustainable, but I am more determined than ever to try, like I’ve been trying, to take it with me. You can never have too much. If this year has taught me anything, it is that. For sure.

Maybe, this fall, we can plan to walk through leaves together and talk. We can grip hot teas in our mittened hands, and look over Puget Sound as we talk about the best days of our life, our hopes, our wants, what makes us feel good. Maybe instead we’ll pack up some hot cocoa, and we’ll go climb a mountain together. In the process, maybe somewhere around mile two and a half, my beasts will become dehydrated and die — or at the very least — stranded at the bottom of an entirely too steep switchback. Maybe, if you have some beasts you’ve bought along, too, they’ll suffer the same fate. We’ll scramble up to the top several tons lighter, and we’ll whip out our cocoa and toast to another year, another season of adventures, to making new memories, to leaving behind our beasts, and to happiness — always.