Friday, December 30, 2011

winter wonderland::a place to be experienced.

There's nothing wrong with being happy. 
There's nothing wrong with enjoying something so much it strips away all that irony and cynicism.
And there is nothing wrong with loving anything so much that it feels it could pull your heart out of your chest and toss it on the floor. 
We build ourselves up to not do that, and then we build up the armor so thickly that we have trouble finding what's underneath. 
We use that as an excuse to lash out at people who do feel stuff, who do like things.
It's hard sometimes to remember that the world isn't a place to glide through, so nothing can touch you.
It's a place to be experienced.
--Todd VanDerWerff*

*Thank you, Carly, for this fabulous quote!

atop the eiffel ala {instagram}.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

the one where she went to europe + only took photos with instagram.

I'm {almost} ashamed to admit that all week I have been putting my actual camera away to take pictures with my iphone, more specifically instagram. {Follow me @joc_lense}. This continent is a pseudo-photographer's dream, with so much history written in to every brick, stone and statue. There is an incredible amount of culture hidden in each  window display, restaurant and city street... and a huge part of me feels like I am failing to capture it properly, immediately filtering it into a "Nashville" version of its real beauty. I've promised myself to remove the gum from the front of my camera to allow the lens to open properly tomorrow so I can take some actual photographs on our hop on, hop off tour of London but in the interim...
Location: Academie Nationale de Musique, Paris, France

perfect night in paris.

On Tuesday night, Grams + I met Kim near the Moulin Rouge at a tiny little hole-in-the-wall by the name of Refuge des Fondus.

The owner was rude in true French fashion. The cheese was average and you only get a basket of bread to dip in it but there is something that I absolutely love about the atmosphere that makes you feel like you are having the swirliest dining experience. Sitting family style, there are only two tables in the whole place and there is always a line outside to get one of the coveted seats. You sit squished next to a stranger, undoubtedly speaking in another language but don't worry because the wine comes served in baby bottles so when it inevitably gets knocked over, it won't spill. Carly and I ate here a few summers back and it was one of two things on my "must do in paris" list. 

I discovered this unassuming fondue restaurant in a Cosmopolitan magazine, presumably in an article about how Paris is the most romantic city in the world and if you came to France with your lover, this restaurant would be the perfect beginning to a perfect night that could end with a winding walk through the enchanting streets of Montmartre before the perfect proposal in front of the stunning Sacre-Coeur {that's french for sacred heart.}

Sans my future husband, Grams, Kim + I's night did not end here at Sacre-Coeur. We headed to the Arc de Triumphe for drinks at Sir Winston's before accidentally timing it perfectly and leaving right when the actual lights are turned off on the Eiffel Tower and just the twinkling lights sparkle on at 1 AM. 
It was the perfect night in Paris.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011: a year in review

In retrospect, the insane night that was N.Y.E. 2010 was an absolutely hilarious foreshadowing of the wild year that was ahead of me. When this photograph was taken, I had absolutely no idea where I was going with my life. I had not the smallest inkling that in two months time, I would get to live with Meggie again nearly three years after our college roommate days ended. Just in town for the night, I had no idea that the hospital I would soon work at on my first travel assignment is in the background of this photog. For all I knew when this picture was snapped as the fireworks lit up the sky over Tampa Bay at midnight, my carriage was about to turn back in to a pumpkin and I was about to lose a shoe frantically running down a staircase to return to Tennessee... but twentyeleven had other plans for me: to fill my life with every opportunity to be with the people who mean the absolute most... and when I reflect back on all the places this past year has taken me {it was a whimsical ride on one incredibly scenic route, all right!} I think most about the people it brought me near and how much their presence has meant the moon to me by helping my heart fully heal and pushing me perpetually forward...closer to making my hopes + dreams + fairytales a reality... less on the suburbs and more smack dab in the center of my utopia. 

Following suit of last year's radical review, I present to you... 

Twenty-Eleven: The year I grabbed life by its sapphire-encrusted horns... and seized every opportunity that came with each new day.

In January, I took on the best job in the world: full-time Auntie to the most beautiful baby girl. My heart grew bigger each day spent with reesey bird and we began celebrating the small things, like snow days and southern traditions... mostly on Mondays. I took full advantage of the close proximity to Jess and our weekly adventures in Nashville got a little more exciting when we learned there wasn't just two of us consuming all those pickles and ice cream... 

In February, Cupid delivered. The month started out with an unforgettable trip to D.C. to see Meg+Danny. And then I moved in to the Magic Kingdom for an entire week... it was definitely the happiest place on Earth with all of its copious amounts of Reese + sunshine. Valentine's Day was a lovely hybrid of sushi + old times... and the rest of the month was spent consuming vitamin d on the beach while preparing to go back to work on the twenty-eighth. 
March was the month that I discovered my love for mangoes. My heart smiled as pathological optimism manifested in super-giddy swoons on Sundays. I was falling in love with my new/old roommates + enjoying days off in South Tampa. I got to celebrate Kate's 6th birthday + attend my cousin's dessert reception with Grams as my date. Most memorable, March was the month full of madness when I learned I was going to become a master

In April, I was perpetually on spring break and I became Allegiant's Air most frequent flyerKara came down J. Buff + Megalina made me the best michelada. One fabu weekend in Seattle where I ate sushi next to the Olsen twins and my heart was officially set on the Pacific Northwest for the summer! April was awesome.  
May was full of Spanish celebrations as the final days as roommates came to an end. I found myself back in Tennessee in the middle of the month for Liz's dream wedding in Nashville with my beautiful date before I flew to Costa Rica for a fiesta di divorcio with Laurel to scratch a few things off my bucket list at the end of May. Before leaving Tampa, I found the perfect bar and Kate + I went to the zoo, too. 
I was lucky enough to have the entire month of June off where I spent every weekend in a different part of the country. San Diego was my favourite of the four: our annual roommate reunion {love these girls}. After a lovely ten-day Canadian vacation, Syd + I had the best road trip cross country. At the end, I was officially a grad student/seattle resident

Oh my, July! Possibly my favourite memories of the year occurred on a sports field... and getting to be a part of Christopher singing the national anthem at a Red Sox game in Fenway Field was one of my favourite moments in time. Meg + David got engaged. Carly + I mastered the art of summering in LaLaLand and on every sunny afternoon in Seattle, you could find me on my rooftop.

Summer was in full swing in the P.N.W. in August. I spent the mornings perusing farmers markets, afternoons kayaking and evenings rollerblading at sunset. I made an awesome friend of the bi-weekly bestie sorts. We went to Lake Shuswap. Baby Ella finally arrived! Kara + Creed came to visit.  And then I went to Las Vegas, where all memory {and dignity} was lost on the Strip

September was full of celebrating to the maximum. I celebrated good music at Bumbershoot with a little Ray LaMontagne. I celebrated Miss Reese turning one year old. I celebrated my own twenty-fifth birthday. I celebrated in Vancouver and I celebrated with my closest friend in Seattle at Mount Rainier. I celebrated the start of the first official quarter of my master's program and the first day of Fall.
In October, the paradigms shifted and the beginning of my quarter-life crisis began. I was swamped with working + school full-time and missed my friends and family immensely. Nursing felt like the last career I should be pursuing to a higher level... I dyed my hair brown but didn't celebrate one Monday in October. I did, however, attend my very first Canuck game, baked my very first pie, go on my first, second + last blind dates + had a super fun Halloweekend in LA.
November to me meant a homecoming that was much needed in both of my "hometowns". After moving in with my wonderful new roommate, I returned to Winnipeg to love on my baby cousins and attend Sammi+Ryan's fairytale wedding. I saw every single person in Manitoba that mean so very much to me before flying to Florida for Thanksgiving. It was a whirlwind weekend  with friends, family and a teenage dream that made the seventeen-year-old me feel alive inside. November was full of little scraps of magic, memories of something fine + strong. 
...and that brings me to today, December. The final days of the year when I spend most waking moments reflecting on the last year. The lessons I learned. The way in which my priorities change as I grow up. Everything I've accomplished but how far I need to go to get to exactly where I want to be. Twentyeleven was one hell of a year and a parisian Christmas with Grams is the perfect way to close one ahhmazing chapter. I survived the semester. I made it through {almost} a full year of travel nursing and good lawd, did I have fun.

We're flying to London today to ring in the New Year with Big Ben. Here's to hoping 2012 adequately prepares me to be a nurse practitioner, adds more stamps to my passport, makes me a real photographer, allows me to optimize my prime and perhaps find the answers to my least favourite question of 2011: Where/when are you going to settle down? 

Have a Happy New Year, my lovelies!! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

my favorite photog, perhaps.

My aspirations of being a super chic fashionista in Paris quickly left me when I spent the first three days in my grandma's spandex and the shirt Delta gave me for losing my luggage but this shoe, ohmyword. Found on the -1 level of a magnificent department store somewhere close to the opera house, I'm lucky it didn't fit so I wasn't forced to buy it. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

oh, happy christmas!!

Today was the loveliest French-infused Christmas Day. I watched Elf in bed until noon before Grams and I bundled up and walked through the neighbourhood, salted caramel latte in hand. The streets were bustling with Parisians, grabbing fresh baguettes for their feast. We window shopped drooling over the cheese in the fromagerie, smelling the fresh flowers that lined the streets and eyeing a dessert roll that we would consume later that evening. We had brunch at Auntie Paul's apartment {pancakes and candied rose-petal infused champagne} and opened our stocking stuffers before strolling over to Kim's apartment later this evening. The Eiffel Tower lit up the night's sky on our entire walk across the river. We made one final stop at a bakery to pick up our own fresh baguette to compliment our fish & curried prawns dinner. We exchanged small gifts + laughed until it was no longer officially Christmas before we made the walk back over the bridge and played four rounds of skip-bo... in which I was declared the winner!! Oh, Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

t'was the night before christmas...

and just as I climbed in to bed at 10:30 with a wicked case of jet lag and a cup of tea, Grams proclaimed, "It was tradition growing up. The only service we attended all year was midnight mass on Christmas Eve." Next thing I know I'm donning my boots + beret, racing through metro stations and running through the cobblestone streets of Paris. Just as we crossed over the Seine, you could hear the bells chiming from a few blocks away and as we rounded the corner, the night lit up by the Notre Dame Cathedral and all it's Christmas Eve glory. 
It was never on my bucket list to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve in the Notre Dame cathedral but I'm telling you, you should add it to yours. The choir. The incense. The candlelight. The organ. 

The entire service was in French but I swear I could feel the meaning of every word. After the lovely mass, we grabbed a chocolat chaud and hailed a cab back to our quaint little apartment in hopes that Saint Nick soon would be here. 

Happy Christmas to all and to all a bonne nuit.

Friday, December 23, 2011


I think it finally hit me some time around 10PM last night when I was trying to fall asleep to get up at o'darkhundred to make my 6:00AM flight that I was actually going to Paris today! I poured myself a bottle a wine, cracked open the cookie dough and rocked around the {make-belief} Christmas tree to Michael Buble's christmas album to the wee hours of this morning... I never actually fell asleep last night but I did clean the house spotless, build a bookshelf, unpack a few boxes, do three loads of laundry, watch Midnight in Paris (awful movie), pack my 52lb suitcase and take a bath... {Productivity is a matter of perception.} 
I did fall asleep before take-off on the short 1.5 hour flight to Salt Lake City where I woke up when we slammed touched down. I proceeded to groggily cab in to the city's center to explore the Temple. I {obvi} wasn't allowed in to the real one but the replica in the visitor's center looks magnifique! 
It's rather cold here in Salt Lake City but in just one more hour, I will be en route to Paris! bon voyage, beetches! joyeux noel, mon amours!! =) 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

bonne anniversaire.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful mama! And to Mr. Rick and Barb, Auntie Dona-Leigh, Auntie Linda, Jenn, Sammi and sweet baby Jesus... a very happy {and very belated!!} birthday to all of you wonderful people born in December, too! =) 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

all he does is win.

Tim Tebow: Everything in Between Interview & Production Outtakes from FCTN on Vimeo.
I have expressed my love for Tebow on several occasions on this blog {like here and here}... and when searching my blogger for past posts about said superhero, I found the video below in a draft I had written in May about Timmy's muscles... accompanied by a clever tag line something along the lines of "T.T.'s triceps fuel me."
Anyways, for the first time in my life, I am following pro football... well actually just Tebow... and Prater, too (he was the kicker for my high school football team! Go Wildcats!) I still don't really understand the sport. I know there's four quarters. Four downs... and recently, I've been loving all the ways the number four has crept in to my life... I know there's a field, particularly a fifty yard line, where the grass is freshly cut and probably damp with dew? And I know the object of the game is to score. And that's really the extent of my knowledge... but knowing zilch about football, I can still watch a Broncos game and know there is something supernatural about it! Its like there are angels strategically placing fumbles in almost field goal range and invisible unicorns that carry Prater's perfectly kicked ball through the posts. 
Watching Tebow play in the Swamp on Saturdays for three years was incredible. The way he carried the team... he was virtually unstoppable {May I remind you of the jump pass? And Superman strikes again...} It's unbelievable the way he scores {touchdowns} and good lawd, do I love the contours of his body. I've seen them IRL up close and personal at a pool party senior year of college. Yup, god's gift to women. 

I was told yesterday that Tebow had a 1 in 860,000 chance of winning the last six games... and he did it. The way he wins against all odds makes me want to put on a Tebow jersey and go hop a fence.

God Bless and Go Broncos! GB{squared}

boyce avenue.

My favourite band to rock out to while I stuff my brain full with pathophysiology...
Every one of Boyce Avenue's covers is absolutely amazing. Like this one and this one and this one and this one. Aaaand this one and this one and this one.

And this one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

much-to-celebrate-monday: scraps of magic.

I seriously love Mondays. I know I say this every Monday but I really do. I have this obsession with milestones and cornerstones and family stones... all those subtle markers that make you aware of passage of time, making certain that life doesn't fly by without you stopping to reflect on where you've been and where you're headed...that amidst the uncertainty, your life is exactly where it is supposed to be... even if it feels like a wild ride. Mondays to me are that calm before the rollercoaster makes that last creak over the top that sends you spinning in to a weeklong oblivion, that perfect view of every loop-di-loo you'll have to get through before the winds of life whip through your hair...
Celebrations are only complete when cupcakes are consumed.
This week I am celebrating little scraps of magic. I am celebrating that I got an A on my case study, an A on my final presentation, two papers written (that do not have grades yet) and a 100% on my neonatal final last night! I am celebrating that I only have two more finals to go. I am celebrating that I have 6 shifts left and then an unknown employment situation come January. It must be celebrated that I'm so stressed about school,  I don't have enough cortisol to stress about the fact that I won't have a job in the new year, as of yet. {Eeeek.} I am celebrating that I'm slowly piecing my room together, framing pictures, lighting candles, building bookshelves and what not. Enjoying those small things. I'm celebrating that it's less than two weeks 'til Christmas and my heart is filled with so much holiday cheer as everything tastes like peppermint, everything smells like Christmas cookies and our halls are decked with real, live mistletoe. & to all those European Christmas villages, I am coming for you! I am celebrating sweet Gideon and the miracle he is. He touched my heart, that angel baby.

Let go of the handlebars and celebrate!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

awkward & awesome.

1. Awkward - Auntie Awesome's scary face!
   Awesome - Reesey Bird's oh-so-scary face! 

2. Awkward - Occupying Starbucks for 2 days straight to write a ten-page research paper. When returning to the counter for my third venti caramel brulee latte with light whip in six hours, the barista politely asking, "Have you tried any of our skinny drinks?" 
   Awesome - Staying at Starbucks from 2:00 til 2:00 two days in a row and eavesdropping on the all the conversations happening around me... which sent me in to a perpetual daydream of the days when me and the roommates were four of those Abercrombie-clad, giggly pseudo-adult-ish undergrads whose edges of our world didn't extend past classes, love lives, Friday nights and the perfect combination of four closets, either. Such lovely little daydreams of the best days of my life that penetrated my paper-writing-marathon... 

3. Awkward- Accidentally downloading N*SYNC's Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays music video circa 1998 instead of the single on iTunes.
   Awesome- Accidentally downloading N*SYNC's Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays music video circa 1998 instead of the single on iTunes. You're welcome. 

4. Awkward- Having my patient's sterile bedside decorated from the floor to the ceiling with presents and enough tinsel to send my incubator to space by an unstable mother who believes she went straight to North Pole and sat on Santa's lap.  
   Awesome - Running to Trophy, a cupcakery around the corner from my hospital, on my break to get out of the psych ward NICU and indulge in a hazelnut chocolate cupcake! 

5. Awkward - Ugly crying in the small cabin of a plane for four and a half hours writing a good-bye letter, ignoring the quizzical looks from the unfortunate passenger assigned to the seat next to me. 
   Awesome - Pressing send, setting my heart free and giving a much needed update to my modern day fairytale. Oh, it's a happy ending, all right! 

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

dates with kates.

Although these two lovely gatherings deserve two special posts of their own, this is my EIGHT HUNDREDTH blog post and it needed to be extra spectacular so I'm combining two very awesome play dates I went on last week with incredible people both named Kate! {And besides, the title rhymes and the poet in me is tickled pink about it.}

When Rhonda told me that her, Kevin and my little angel Kate were going to be on a tiny island off the coast of Fort Myers for Thanksgiving, I squealed with delight! Last Saturday, I was able to spend all afternoon on little adventures guided by the wild imagination of the six-year-old Miss Kate, just her and I! I met her collection of stuffed animals including a lone beaver in a herd of puppies + kitties. "I want to be a dog shampooer when I grow up!" I learned about all her friends in her first grade class. When I asked how many she had, she humbly replied, "Ummm... like a baker's dozen!" She reluctantly showed me her very advanced reading skills + has a vernacular that consists of more three syllable words than I even know.
We fished on the dock, her and I. We went out for a delicious seafood dinner {thank you, Nona!} + then we hunted for shells down the beach as the light of the moon danced on the Gulf. "That's a planet, you know!" Her memory of our days together is even more vivid than mine and much of our conversations now begin with Kate saying, "Remember when..." and that just makes my heart smile because perhaps my favourite three years of my life were making memories with Miss Kate... and my heart will carry on smiling knowing they'll never be forgotten and there will be many more days, just her and I.  =)

As if my awesome Sunday in Sanibel wasn't enough Kate to fill my heart eight hundred times over, Monday I met Katie Bug and Kate + her girl tribe for lunch at Olive Garden just down the street from our high school, to pay homage to the old times and reminisce about life when we all lived in the same city and saw each other every single day. Although I absolutely adore reading her silly antics every morning with my caramel brulee latte to start my day off laughing, it's a little surreal getting to interact with Kylie and love on Piper in person. They are the two sweetest babies and I'm so happy we've kept in touch the last 7+ years! As magnificent as it is to have a friend like Kate in my life, its pretty special to get to be a part of her girls' lives too!

life is funny.

Life isn't just funny, it's an absolutely hilarious continuum of guffaws... in that laugh out loud walking through the produce aisle, burst in to a fit of giggles standing in line at Starbucks, snicker to myself in the shower, chortle in the middle of yoga until you snort, kind-of-way. Love this life.