Tuesday, August 27, 2013

wherever i go: saying goodbye at daddy's grave



this morning in the midst of dashing about
i found myself near daddy's cemetery
i knew i had to take a moment to say goodbye

i pulled up to the gates i had visited so often
a place i had found to bring solace
whether i could experience solitude in thought
or wrangling kids running between hedges
i have found joy and peace there time after time
especially in those moments of sorrow and yearning to hear his voice

as i walked into that cemetery this morning
tears streaming down my cheeks
something most important occurred
a truth was reconfirmed to me that i had experienced first hand over this past year
and it came again this morning
but in the voice of my father
as i stood over his grave

briana i am not here
i can be wherever you are
that peace and comfort you desire will be yours no matter where you go
you don't need to cry anymore
i know you have lots to do
so go and do them

oh my daddy, forever giving wise counsel
i felt a love fill my entire being
and i felt the truth of those words

i know from the depths of my soul that there is life beyond the grave
do i know all of the details of how and what
no, but i don't need to
i know my father lives
for i have felt his presence and i have heard his voice
families are eternal through the grace and power of Jesus Christ
and the sacred ordinances of His Holy Temple
this i know to be true
and this i will carry with me
or in fact, it will carry me
wherever i go

Friday, August 23, 2013

change in the air



i'm feeling it
i'm feeling a change
i'm feeling it in the air

i have had this song by morgan page on repeat this morning
got out of bed and have got to hit this day running

change you ask
what sort of change could be in store for us now
is anything really out of the realm of possibility for us

well for the sake of time
i'm just going to come out and say it
we are moving....
next week
to utah

that is move 14 in 15 years of marriage
you thought 13 in 13 was crazy
well we're always good for a new level of craziness

in all seriousness there is a huge wave of urgency that is fueling this move
hence the
'we decided yesterday morning and we're moving next week' time table

the urgency is the necessity for mike to receive the healthcare he needs
over the past three weeks mike's disease has produced the most devastating effects on my brilliant husband
that of cognitive decline
confusion, memory loss, inability to perform basic tasks, extended periods of unresponsiveness, and the breakdown of that seemingly inpenetrable will power that has kept him going for so long

i would love to share with you this process for how this came about
and more of a clear picture for why this move
and why now
but....
i've got an entire house to pack in a week
and my sister's wedding to attend tomorrow

i ask for your prayers on our behalf
as i wrap my mind and will around making this move
taking the remaining stability in my life and purposefully making it unstable
because i know that this is the best thing for our family
for mike
for the heart of our family
looking to create longstanding peace and renewal out of a temporary chaos

there's a change in the air
and i am moving forward to embrace it

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

{a world of good} your own reflection


what do you see when you look in the mirror
does your reflection match how you feel
do you ever gaze into a face that couldn’t be your own
that’s not me
you peer ahead expecting to see yourself in a younger light 
or perhaps at a time in your life you felt most productive, successful, or happy

the goal would be to look at our reflection and see us for good that we find in ourselves now 
that very day
in that very moment
relishing in what those past events have made us today

but i think we have all experienced that longer than typical stare at that face ahead
reminiscing on your past appearance
your past lives
wondering how you got to be here

as this disease continues to take its toll on my husband
and as i think of the young age at which my daddy left this life
it has caused great introspection on my life and what i am making out of it
time seems to have compressed for me
my future self doesn’t seem so far away
who am i becoming now?
no longer can i think of aging as just a passage of time
taking you further away from what we might consider our prime
aging is a gift
a gift some are not afforded


reflection of the elderly photo series soldier

the incredibly talented photographer tom hussey created a touching photography series called reflections
in which he portrays the elderly as they gaze upon their younger selves reflected in the mirror
after seeing these i knew i wanted to feature them as part of my
a world of good features
such beauty and grace portrayed in this photo series
truly no words needed


reflections of the elderly photo series journalist

the emotion they evoke may be different for everyone
some may experience happiness, gratitude, or fulfillment
others regret, longing, or failure
but reflect
take a moment to see these through the eyes of your parent, your grandparent, your ailing friend, your kind neighbor
or perhaps yourself

reflections of the elderly photo series actress
reflections of the elderly photo series fireman
reflections of the elderly photo series nurse
reflections of the elderly photo series pilot
reflections of the elderly photo series singer

what do you see when you gaze into that mirror?
what feelings are conjured up?
how do you view your past and what have you learned from it?
can we truly see the passage of time as a gift?
my hope would be yes

Monday, August 19, 2013

we've got a kleptomaniac in the family

after arriving home from my trip to Utah this past weekend
i dropped my purse and went upstairs to talk with Mike
big mistake
upon realizing that I had left my phone downstairs
i went to retrieve it, finding it missing
there was only one possible explanation
felicity

this little girl has become an absolute kleptomaniac
secure anything you want to stay in its place because if its out or in an unlocked drawer its free game for sticky fingers felicity
we have found crazy items stashed in her purse, behind her rocking chair or in her closet
computer mouse, my lipstick which made its way onto the mouths of her dollies and stuffies, foreign currency, marbles, toothbrushes, open jar of peanut butter
and the latest addition
mike’s debit card




i asked her if she took my phone
she remained silent
her little shoulder raising up to her chin as she tilted her head to the side
her big brown eyes looking guilty as charged
after a little more encouragement on my part
she confessed to the robbery

she had taken my phone, put it in her hello kitty backpack 
and huffed it up the ladder of owen’s backyard clubhouse and threw it on the roof

once again we needed to have an intervention with her

     me: felicity, don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you
     felicity: i don’t even know what that means
     me: you don’t take anything that is not felicity’s
     felicity: i want my own phone

i had to turn away because i was dying laughing
my three year old had just told me that she needed her own phone
and if you could see her face, you would know she was serious

this little girl keeps us laughing 
oh how we wish we could freeze her in time
preserving all the three year old felicityisms that we love
never ending stories and prayers
her photo-ready pose of hands on hips and tilt of her head
daddy’s little helper of handing him his spritz, spritz {cologne} and deode every single morning
who wants to be just like dad by putting on deode herself right onto her shirt



and even the her mischievous artist self that colors murals on her walls, ‘hair-fed’ {forehead}, and walls 
as seen below in her tale of the blue marker

video

and makes it snow in her room by pulverizing styrofoam all over her carpet



its never a dull moment with our baby girl
and as long as our phones and debit cards are recovered
we wouldn't have it any other way

Thursday, August 15, 2013

summer lovin happened so fast

summer lovin happened so fast

and with the the ring of a bell
summer is over for at least one of us
tate started school today
the lone Johnson man on campus
as both eyan and owen will be attending the charter school this year
to say he was ecstatic to start school would be putting it mildly
last night he slept with magic confetti under his pillow
given by his teacher beforehand to calm those 'back to school' jitters
and help him sleep through the night
and awake in the morning fresh and bright 

circumstances allowed for a beach trip to say goodbye to summer
for me the beach is always a good decision
outside of places of worship, the beach tops my list of favorite places to be
and places that feed my soul
i think the kids like the beach for different reasons
but its a consensus
we love the beach

last days of summer

i am honored to associate with such incredible teens
that are such a large part of of my children's lives
in this one moment 
felicity is jumping waves with her favorite person, 'kenna'
tate is getting a piggyback ride from the forever-a-big-kid joe
and owen is out there in the waves with cool jacob getting boogie board lessons
i love that they care
teens looking outside themselves to find joy in the little moments of fun and laughter with young children is simply amazing
they are making such an impact on my family
i am so grateful to be a part of a church family
truly another example of a village

jumping waves
out in the waves
jumping the waves
piggyback ride in the ocean

we would have stayed all day at the beach if we could have
but alas we had to come home
straight to the tub for this crew
while i turned my head, eyan poured half a bottle of bubble bath into the tub
they were in heaven

after beach bath

here is my little man tate
ready to electrify first grade
how i am grateful for children who love learning and enjoy being at school
to see my favorite back to school photo shoot, click here
the older boys now wearing uniforms to school, makes back to school photos, well, quite...boring
i'll need to find a way to spice things up a bit

back to school

how did you spend your final days of summer?
did you fit in most of your summer bucket list?
were you are the kids more ready for school to begin?

Monday, August 12, 2013

non-sensical sense: why my clutter is treasure to me




i am confident in saying that no one will agree one hundred percent with what i am going to say 
maybe a percentage of you will agree with some of what i say
but probably most of you will think i’m crazy
i am okay with that, just please be kind

after posting my husbands post, clutter or treasure
it was clear that i needed to write a rebuttal
so maybe this isn’t really a rebuttal so much as a non-sensical attempt to explain the reasons behind what he would deem, and probably most of you, madness
madness that he lives with and puts up with graciously because he loves me
and somehow thinks i’m the best person he’s ever met in his life
despite the wake of treasures that come along with keeping me around

you must realize that he is leaning heavily towards the label of exaggeration by saying i have kept everything since birth
yes i may have had a personal ‘dewey-decimal’ like system coded by color for my childhood books, i have only kept a few which have now made their home in Felicity’s room
and yes i may still have Humanities textbooks from college, but i have gotten rid of most of them and have even given away most of my student teaching materials recognizing that if i ever taught film or art history or spanish
there would be an entirely new world of information available
see, i have some sense in me

but his claim of fifteen years of moving innumerable unopened boxes from house to house
unfounded i tell you

what about my need to keep things makes real sense?
hmmm, probably not a whole lot

i inherited a love for keeping things ‘just in case’ from my daddy
it was a well known fact that you did not remove anything from daddy’s closet
there was a reason for him keeping that stiff baseball glove, dusty magic show kit, or heavily lined parka that a polar bear would be jealous of
in his eyes they were still perfectly good and still had lots of life left in them to give
just in case you ever wanted to play catch, see a magic show, or moved back to Alaska
we were raised to be recyclers and reusers way before the wave of green came
for that was part of my daddy’s industry

in my attempt to keep mike’s ‘use by date’ stamped fluorescent stickers at bay
i will seek to reveal some random reasons i feel compelled to keep so many different categories of things
warning:
i am trying to put a linear cause and effect pattern on what more likely resembles an old skool jungle gym of sharp twists forward, to the side, and back
so please remember...
be kind

*i had an incredible childhood full to the absolute tippy top with magical moments that i don’t ever want to forget.  physically seeing random objects and papers conjure up memories the moment i lay my eyes on them.  holding them brings an added dose of reality...those things really happened

*i love learning.  i fear forgetting.  i have spent my entire life learning: studying my passions, traveling, world cultures, pursuing hobbies, teaching myself how to accomplish tasks, spiritual knowledge, personal goal setting, relationships.  i have the deepest fear of forgetting what i have learned

*the fear of wanting/needing something in the future and not knowing where to find it. this feeds into the ‘i bet i’m going to need that’ and the ‘i’ll have time to do that in the future’ categories of treasures.  

*i do not like spending money.  i am horrible at it and i know its annoying to go shopping with me.  i humph and haw over if i should buy something, get to the checkout and more likely than not, i put it back and leave.  we have struggled financially most of our married life and so if something is given to us or we have invested money in purchasing it, it is difficult to get rid of it, knowing that someday we might need it again and i don’t know if i could breakdown to buy it

*projects are my lifeline.  i feel like myself the most when i am creating and especially when i can take something that i see potential in its current less than luster state and transform it into something unique and beautiful.  as mike would say: one person’s junk is another persons treasure...so we have a ton of treasure for ‘another person’.  can i help it if i see potential in so many things around me?  it excites me to envision what a drab piece of furniture can become with the touch of my hands.

*we have moved 14 times in 15 years of marriage.  it has been rare to have felt like i am living in my own home enough to unpack everything.  not to say that i don’t feel the love and warmth of being in a home surrounded by my family.   i keep things, longing to find that place where i will feel settled, where i can unpack everything and then decide if i want it to be a part of my home.  it seems unnecessary to make the cut before i get there.  maybe in our next place, that thing will find its perfect spot right there.

at this point you are all thinking i am crazy
wondering how i’ve made it this far in my life

i have felt the freedom that comes with a clutter free mind and a clutter free space
and it is a beautiful feeling
but i also have anxiety attached to saying goodbye to things
for all the fears and struggles i have mentioned above
on my recent trip to Dallas
Mike in his sincere desire to lift my burdens
decided to clean out our master bedroom
what had become the storing place of the misfit items
he texted me a photo and it looked incredibly clean and lovely
but my first gut feeling was 
where did everything go
by now, you’ve diagnosed me with some sickness
and i’m sure there’s a name for it

do i want to stay one hundred percent like this for the rest of my life
absolutely not
it is definitely a goal of mine to remove unneeded items
which by my standard is difficult to do
but i’m ready to do it
what i will always place value will be frugality, reusability, creativity, and reminiscing
just i hope in a more sensical way
that doesn’t involve me needing to fill up our 3rd car garage as our non-digital cloud


epilogue:
after posting this my husband posted the following on facebook in response to my top photo:
I think it's important to note that the clutter/treasure in our garage and throughout our home does NOT look like the picture!
This picture is simply an attempt to put lipstick on a pig and I am incensed! Why not take a picture of our actual garage???
so in fairness i took an actual photo of our non-digital cloud
look how organized it is people
i could tell you what is in each of those bins and boxes
because i've OPENED all of them

tell me there’s someone out there who aligns some of their thoughts with what i just confessed.
and for those of you who are less attachment oriented than myself, how do i get started?

Friday, August 09, 2013

clutter or treasure?


clutter or treasure


I am fond of saying that my wife has kept everything since birth.  And it’s pretty close to the truth.  She still has stuffed animals from her childhood.  She has a personal ‘dewey-decimal’-like system for her childhood books.  She has kept all of her college textbooks, notes, and paperwork - “just in case”.  

“Just in case what?”, I ask! Just in case we are teleported back in time to the late 90‘s and your materials are still relevant and timely?  Just in case someone comes by the house and asks, “Hey do you have that Humanities textbook from 1998, cause my daughter is headed off to college and I think it could come in handy!”

We have an innumerable number of boxes in our garage that are “Just in Case” boxes.  Boxes that I have moved - unopened - for 15 years from house to house.  

There are other categories of clutter in our home as well.

Of course, we also have the boxes of ‘before-we-moved-into-the-digital-age’ stuff like photo prints, cds, movies, and similar items.  These boxes are just begging to be digitized and then vanish.  (In fact, I dream about having a ‘cloud’ for all non-digital stuff.  Now that would be cool.  Let’s just put these unfinished dining chairs into the cloud until we need them...unfortunately, the ‘cloud’ is our 3rd car garage at the moment.

Which leads me to the ‘i’m-gonna-get-to-this-project-soon’ category of stuff.  This takes up quite a bit of square footage in the household.  Armoires, old dining chairs, tables, wooden things, desks, pictures frames, old junk, and ‘I don’t even know what it’s called’ stuff take up space collecting dust, spiders, and who knows what else.

In 15 years, I have yet to start a sentence with, “I am so glad we kept...”

I’m a proponent of a system that allows for the disposal of stuff after a defined period of time has elapsed.  Say a year.  If this project/just in case box hasn’t been used in the year then out it goes!

I want to get a big bunch of fluorescent stickers and mark each item/box with an expiration time stamp.  If the item/box hasn’t been touched - meaningfully used - then it has passed its use-by date and it can be donated/discarded.

I know what they say: One persons junk is another persons treasure.  Well, excellent, we have a TON of treasure for ‘another person’.

Apparently there is some sort of emotional attachment to some of this stuff.  Briana has told me before that she keeps things as memories and if she gets rid of said memory she will forget about it.  My response: Take a (digital) photo of whatever it is and you can always have that to look at.  Bam!
And that is my side of the story!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

10,000+ thank yous


sending out 10, 264 thank yous
to all you beautiful people
for helping me cross over the 10,000 page views for my blog this past month
this is a huge milestone for me

thank you to each of you who have
come and stayed
learned about who i am
who my hubby is
and who we are together with our four kids
and have come back again and again

who have commented
whether on facebook, instagram, or on here
pinned something that you liked
shared my blog with others via facebook
entered a giveaway
encouraged me about my writing

pinterest and facebook continue to be my leading traffic sources
and i am elated and humbled when i see you sharing my blog with others
you are all helping to make my dream come true of having a sustainable blog to help provide for my family
i have invested my soul in this space for seven years
and my heart is here with you
here in this place i have come to share and grow as my mind becomes clear as i write through those things that weigh me down so deeply
and through moments of epiphany realizing that what i already know
and what i already have is what brings me the greatest joy
faith, family, friends, creativity, opportunities to grow

so lets link arms and keep walking down this path further and further
there are so many places i would like to take you to
i think you'll continue to find me a happy companion
and i just might share my push pop and little debbie star crunch with you along the way

lets keep climbing
you
and
me
together

welcome to the jungle: baby shower games and decor

jungle baby shower

hello
welcome to the jungle
hear me roar

i was delighted to be able to throw a baby shower for my friend ashley
in my opinion the best kind of baby shower
the one in which you get to meet the little mister or miss 
ashley lives in hawaii and had her darling arlen nearly two months ago
and as circumstances lined up, she was headed to the mainland for two family reunions
so we got to snag them up and shower them with love

i carried her love for the jungle theme for her nursery into the decor for the shower
i had so much fun collecting things from around my house, out of boxes, and the garage
sprinkle in a few exotic looking plants and some animal crackers
and bam...we're on a safari
one in which you get to take those cute red boxes of animal crackers with that string handle with you 
my mom would buy those at the grocery store as a treat

jungle baby shower decor

throughout the shower we played a little 'i spy' game
found over at bumpsmitten
grab your phone camera and start your hunt
friends laughing
delicious sweets
a beautiful bump
or in this case a beautiful baby

i spy game for baby shower
i spy game for baby shower

it was surreal watching ashley open her gifts knowing i probably will never be in that place again
my newborn wrapped in plush hooded towels
fitting in little clothes that snap at the bottom
bibs adorning their little necks

one of ashley's friends sweetly asked me if she could borrow a baby spoon
it sort of took my breath away that i had to answer that i didn't have one
is this white plastic one ok, i answered
feeling sad that i didn't have one of those plastic coated metal spoons just perfect size to feed a little gummy mouth

if you follow me on instagram
you have seen lately that there are no shortage of babies in my extended family
so i will still be able to soak up their sweetness and smell their skin

ashley opening presents at her baby shower

minutes before the shower i realized that i never selected a second game to play
seeing the leftover pile of tags from my 'keys to marriage' simple bridal shower game i created recently for my sister's bridal shower 
it inspired me to create a baby shower activity that follows the same premise
of eliciting comments from those who love you most and therefore loves your child most as well
your friends and family

i created the dream maker
an opportunity for your loved ones to share their hopes and dreams for you child
it turned out so sweet
with lots of positive feedback from ashley and her guests
i will be sure to do a tutorial to share this idea with you very soon


dream maker
dream maker baby shower game

for those of you mamas with newborns in your arms tonight
cradle them for me
kiss their forehead
and hum them a lullaby

what do you love most about having a newborn baby?  how did you know if / when your family was complete?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

winner of the picpack instagram photo magnets giveaway

picpack instagram photo magnets

as a lover of all things instagram
i was thrilled to partner with 
to bring our Sweet Dreams are Made of These followers
a set of 12 picpack instagram photo magnets
thank you to everyone for entering picpack instagram photo magnets giveaway

picpack set of 12 instagram photo magnets

thank you to our newest Sweet Dreams are Made of These followers
bienvenidos, hola, bonjour, word
i hope you come back to visit real soon

and the moment you have all been waiting for


winner of picpack instagram photo magnets
lynita i have contacted you via instagram
so look for the message coming your way
i can't wait to see which photos you choose
be sure to tag me @briana6

for those of you so came so close,
i would heartily recommend you following
they offer free and discounted sets to their followers

still not sure you are an instagram fan
what's the big deal you say?
well let me be your guide

what other things would you like to see giveaways for here on the blog?

Monday, August 05, 2013

it takes a village

backyard thank you dinner

this backyard has fed hundreds of people over the past four years
food being their love language
my dear friend leslie and her sweet worker bee husband nick
have a revolving door at their home
they have created something i dream of having
a home where you are drawn to just sit and linger and chat and laugh
a home where you know you are welcome and you just want to stay and come back again and again

it takes a village

yesterday we were invited to join them for a night of being fed in every way
good company
good sights
good food
good music
good for the soul indeed
for we were apart of their village

wooden utensils
orange and avocado salad

leslie and i have been friends since i knocked on her door and she answered in her hubby's sweats holding a faceless but newly sewn black apple doll
{that doll has never been graced with a face}
we were instantly friends
that just happens with some people
we have shared our life together
the joyous bits 
and the down right icky bits
i feel privileged to be counted among her village
those people who have been by her side this past year
as she and her incredible family have traveled on the journey of foster care
if you have ever wondered if that could be the path for you
i would encourage you to read her beautiful blog
she holds nothing back
sharing the heartfuls as well as the heartbreaks


leslie autumn from my happily ever after and me

video

it was a magical evening
spent with beautiful people
the kind that make you want to be better
live a more generous life giving

we were delighted by the soothingly cool voice of nick's cousin daniel
i'd love to see his name in lights one day

pallet backdrop for stage
backyard lights
the dynamic duo
backyard dinner party
backyard dinner party with serenade
army of valiant women

i feel honored to be among this army of valiant women
bearers of burdens
and lifters of spirits
collective souls all apart of this village

Friday, August 02, 2013

on the count of three: a photo essay of our day remembering daddy


this past weekend marked the one year anniversary of my daddy's passing
as you can imagine the thought of this day arriving lay heavy on my heart
the feelings of loss i had experienced over the year compounded into one single day
we decided as a family, on the recommendation of those who have also experienced great loss in their lives, to create traditions that we could do together to celebrate our love for him
husband, father, and grandpa

our day was full
full of tears
full of laughter
full of memories
full of longing
full of gratitude

details of the day one year ago have been burned in my mind forever
imagining as if i was there again
as i fought and sobbed not wanting to step out of that ICU door,
not wanting to leave my Daddy there
not knowing what to do, how to live by taking one step out of that door
how do i greet people
how do i go to the store
how do i tell my children

Mike took me by the hands and told me to look at his face
oh his sweet and tender face with power in strength and faith behind those gentle blue eyes
and he said, 'one step'

and then together arm in arm with my sisters and mom
took that one step
and then another and another
and that is how i have lived this year
one step at a time
day after day
month after month

this day was a day to share our love for my daddy
and remember what we cherished most about having him here with us
we started off with a saus-cake breakfast 
pancakes grandpa style
we then took time to write letters to grandpa that we would attach to white balloons
i loved the kids sweet messages
"i miss you so much that i wish i was with  you" tate
"i love and miss you so much! i just want to give you a big hug" owen
when we arrived at the cemetery someone had been there already and decorated his gravesite with flowers and lollipops
at the cemetery we passed out all the messaged attached balloons
and on the count of three
1-2-3
we let them go
up
up
up toward heaven
i was not prepared for the rush of emotion that would accompany letting that balloon go
sending my love and my heart up into that vast blue sky
watching it climb
wishing in my childhood desire that somehow that balloon would find my daddy
and he would read my words and feel my love
i am grateful for my knowledge of God's plan that will enable me to be in my daddy's embrace once again

i have put together a photo essay for you capturing the beauty of our day
to experience firsthand the love, the longing, and the triumph of hope


if you have a memory of my father you would like to share
we would love to hear it
thank you all so much for your outreach of support and care over this past year

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