Cheers to 2018: Year of the Dog and Love

Oh, 2018: Words can do you no justice, and yet still I try!

What started as an astoundingly dismal, uncertain year quickly blossomed into the greatest love story (so beautiful that I frequently blink back the pinprick of happy tears) that I have ever known.

And I’ve read a lot of trashy romance novels.

I started 2018 freshly divorced and endeavoring to find my own space in this wide world, but content with myself, alone, peaceful in my own skin.

This January first, one year later, my life is unrecognizable in the best possible way.

January, 2018: Nesting in a little space all my own, Denver travels, and holding fast to my beliefs. The hard way and the right way were the same.

 

 

I began 2018 more certain than ever of who I was and what I believed in. I set standards for myself, how I would and would not allow myself to be treated. I reminded myself that what I wanted and what I deserved weren’t necessarily aligned, and held firm in the belief that the easy way and the right way rarely coincided. And so I picked what I deserved (and what was right), no matter how it hurt or how hazy the future seemed.

February: A New Hope – My dear friend and former colleague, Ash, recruited me to form a training program for an up-and-coming startup, ReCharge. I spent this month designing paper airplanes, conquering seven (7!?) phone interviews, traveling to Arizona, and landing the gig, combining my love of teaching with my love of support.

 

 

March: I bid a bittersweet farewell to my Automattic colleagues and began recharging ReCharge’s training.

 

 

Change is terrifying, but lovely in its promise. Progress only comes when chances are taken, when carpes are diemed, and you let go of all that you can lose in favor of joy you can gain.

April: Taking chances to begin my twenty-ninth year. How anyone can pick their ‘top nine’ pictures from 2018 is beyond me this year; when I tried to narrow down the joy that last year brought, I wound up with over one hundred photos.

 

 

May and Beyond – Trials and Tribulations: Every year has challenges, and yet mine this year barely made a dent in my joy.

In Sickness: A week after we adopted Nia, Jason left for a business trip just in time for me to come down with a nasty case of the flu. So, there I was; eight week old puppy so young she couldn’t possibly brave the stairs, waking several times a night to take her on midnight walks in the pouring rain (because of course it would rain the entire. time) while also juggling four birds, the big dog, and my full-time job. That was less than ideal.

Our puppy also learned a hard lesson with our older dog (and learned to mind her manners), but because of her delicate skin and various wrinkles, she swelled up like a balloon. That was a fun vet trip.

We also lost two parakeets, little Beau to a liver infection he’d had (unbeknownst to us) all his life, and later Winston to old age. These were the losses near and dear to our hearts. But the love our two littles shared and the joy they brought us are our ever-present companions, and I am so grateful they were ours for their brief sojourn to this world.

 

 

Perhaps the hardest trial of 2018 was our car accident at the end of May. We were three blocks from home, headed back from the Renaissance Festival, when another driver ran their red-light and T-boned Jason’s tiny Honda Fit at thirty miles an hour, then they fled the scene.

I distinctly remember time slowing down.

They’re not stopping, I thought as they came barreling down the steep hill to our right; Jason cranked the wheel to switch lanes, but it was too late. As they careened off the rain-slicked hill toward us, never even tapping their breaks, I thought, This is how I’ll die, just like my grandparents. In a single flash, I worried for my father, what this would do to him, about our babies at home, and who would love them if I were gone.

My hand held tight to Jason’s as I braced for impact, and in that moment I found the greatest beauty of the year: in that single, crystallized moment, I realized that there was nothing I would change about my life, that I had been living to the absolute fullest. There I was, deliriously in love, convinced that I was about to either pass away (or become grievously injured), and I had no regrets.

 

 

The car slammed into the rear passenger door (missing mine by seconds thanks to Jason’s quick maneuvering). My face met airbag instead of glass (for which I am eternally grateful), the Honda spun all the way around, then screeched to a stop. Dimly, I saw the headlights of oncoming traffic.

Please, please stop. Don’t be looking at your phones. Notice us, I prayed. And they did. Had anyone been texting, they would have hit us head-on, going between 40 and 50 miles an hour.

Ya’ll, don’t text and drive. They didn’t, and they saved our lives.

We managed to move the car to the tattoo parlor parking lot across the remaining lane of traffic while the other car rumbled to the gas station across the street. Jason crawled out first and pulled me to safety after him, as my door wouldn’t open.

This is who they saw crawl out of the car:

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William Wallace face-paint, a kilt, and a chick in a corset. No wonder they ran off.

As we crawled out of our mangled vehicle, the other drivers took the hell off – they hit and run.

But we were ALIVE!

Bystanders were staring, wide-eyed with horror and hands clamped over gaping mouths. All told, we escaped with bumps and bruises, but no worse for the wear. We hold no anger, no resentment, only gratitude.

We have so, so much to be grateful for.

Around August, I found the answer to my endless fatigue, for which I am infinitely grateful. Jason has been healthy and hale in the best possible way (a change from the last several years of his life), and we are embarking on a lifetime of fitness together. Our home is filled with love, laughter, sweet creatures, and treasures from our frequent travels. We have the means to indulge in our wanderlust, but have a cozy home to return to. We are living our authentic lives, being exactly who we are, and loving each other fiercely all the while.

I cannot believe my luck, and yet I am thankful for it with every breath. Captions on each photo tell more of the story:

 

 

Cheers to 2018, the happiest of my life (*so far.) May 2019 bring even more love, joy, adventures, cuddles, and family. Carpe diem, carpe noctem; I resolve to continue living every day with the fullest love and appreciation I discovered last year.

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How Jason started off my 2019 today. It’s happy to see me!

Spicy Chickpea & Quinoa Bowl

This has been the busiest. Month. Ever. We spent August gearing up for the wedding of the century (it did not disappoint–holy WOW, Kitty and Jim!) and have barely had time enough to breathe, let alone cook things we aren’t sure we’ll like.

During the wedding prep (it was a masquerade ball, so we didn’t want to stick out for the wrong reasons), Jason went to Montreal for his all-staff retreat, then my brother came to visit. We then went to Denver where Jas met all my various and sundry friends, and I then immediately headed to Chicago for my work retreat, and finally Jas just got back from New York.

We. are. tired.

xD Still, we’re back at it until the next travel bug bites us!

THIS IS SO GOOD! Spicy and filling and protein packed!

Deliciously spicy, satisfying, and filling chickpea dish. I’m actually not missing chicken (to which my beau is allergic, as he has recently discovered) much today!

Spicy Chickpea and Quinoa Bowls
Serves: 6 Servings
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeños (seeded unless you’re crazy like us)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes (save like half the juice)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or more if you like a lot of heat!) We used a tablespoon. Will probably use two next time.
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • Spinach/kale/green of choice
  • Fresh cilantro, garnish (optional)
  • Hard boiled egg, garnish (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To make quinoa, rinse and soak for about 10 minutes in warm water. Bring 2 cups of beef broth (we used two cups of water and two bouillon cubes) to a boil in a small saucepan, drain quinoa and add to boiling broth. Add 1/3rd to half the can of juice from tomatoes. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow quinoa to sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle olive oil and sauté onion and garlic  and jalapeños until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients (minus the cilantro), stirring to combine. Towards the end, add the cilantro.
  3. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. To assemble the bowls, lay down a bed of greens, place ½ cup quinoa in each bowl and top with a heaping ½ cup of the chickpea mixture.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (Ish. We added things.)
Serving Size: ½ cup quinoa + ½ cup chickpea mixture • Calories: 342 • Fat: 5.8 g • Saturated Fat: 0.5 g • Carbs: 62 g • Fiber: 10.2 g • Protein: 12.4 g • Sugars: 2.2 g • WW Freestyle Points: 4
Recipe adapted from EatYourselfSkinny.com. If you want a less spicy or all-vegetarian option, use their recipe instead of our modified one! IT IS SO GOOD!