Monday, August 22, 2016

To Write Home About: A Mattress

Lately, it seems, I haven't much to write home about (or call home about more accurately).

Perhaps discontentment and looking for the next thing in previous years led me to call home more frequently than the seeming contentment and not looking for the next thing I have in my life currently.

I love my job. My roommates and I have learned to get along well. I bought a new fish friend. There is a new volleyball crew to play with every Tuesday. New interesting friends and relationships are popping up here and there. So, things are good. No major complaints to be made. No things to be worked through in deciding if I should stay or go.

But this week, in the contentment, something happened that is worthy to write home about.

A good something.

A kind something.

A generous something.

As I have said, I love my job. I get to help people help other people. Sometimes I get to be the actual helper, but mostly I coordinate the helpers.

This week we completed our 50th weatherization with Furman University Shi Center for Sustainability (their 100th). Weatherizations are a grant funded program where we go in and change out light bulbs and caulk seams and tighten up duct work and do many other things to create savings for the homeowner on the cost of their utility bills so they can stay in their home in a more energy efficient and affordable manner.

The weatherization we did this week had a lot of neat connections and stories tied to it. My favorite one, however, involved a mattress.

The homeowner's grown children were there helping with the project as well as a group from Mattress Firm. Eunice, the homeowner, was telling her children since all this work was getting done, the next step toward home improvement for her was to save up for a new mattress. She did not know where the other volunteers were from.

One of the Mattress Firm employees overheard her.

That employee took initiative and did something about what they heard.

By 3:00 that day a new mattress, box springs, fancy pillows and bed frame were delivered and setup in the home as the old ones were being hauled away. Though this seems small, to Eunice it was not. Her eyes teared up as they gave such a lovely kindness to her.

That's just one of the many stories I could tell as to why I love my job and why my life isn't much to complain about these days.

To get to work with people as they give their time, talents and resources without any pay or much recognition is a privilege I would not soon give up. Though a new mattress was easy to come by this day and may not seem like a huge deal in the scheme of things, stories like this are what give hope.

So, I may not have much to write home about in figuring out life right now, but I am glad to write home about stories like this.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Farewell to a Fish

He was a good fish.

He was my second fish.

His name was Franklin Numero Dos. (because Franklin the first only lasted 3 days)

He was my fish for 3 years.

And last week he swam no more.

He was a resilient fish. Many a day I forgot to feed him. Many a day I did not tell him hello. Many a day he went on swimming in his coffee pot home assuming I'd check in with him sooner than later and enjoying his colorful rock floor home.

He had personality. Yes. My fish had personality. (just ask those that doubted me and then came to agreement with the fact.)

He was interested in what was happening outside his coffee pot world. He liked to have sleepovers with friends when I went out of town.

And on my last trip out of town, I opted to leave him in the care of the roommates, who were not used to this and (very apologetically) forgot to feed him.

He could go a few days on no food, but a full week made him meet his limit.

Arriving home to swim no more Franklin hit me a little harder than anticipated.

When I left I said, "if he dies, it's ok, he's just a fish." As I said every time I left him with someone. And it is ok.

But apparently, to me, he was more than just a fish.

He was the most consistent thing in my life in the past 3 years.

I got him as part of my list of 28 things to do before turning 29...well, he was the replacement for the fish that I got to accomplish the task of getting a pet.

He has lived in 3 homes with me (surviving two moves). One family of 4 and 4 roommates got to know Franklin as a delightful household friend.

In the time of having Franklin, I have had 5 jobs and one slight season of unemployment.  I bought a new to me car with cash, tried internet dating (ugh), attempted to buy a house, welcomed a new niece to the world, bought a bike, ran three half marathons (and many more miles in between), traveled to places both familiar and new, married off beloved single girls, had adventures and mishaps all the same...

Some crazy terrible and wonderful life events have happened that he got to hear about in our morning chats. (He was a good listener)

And when I saw him swimming no more, late last Friday after returning home from a fantastic week of building houses, I shed a few tears that I didn't know I would shed over a fish.

I have never really understood the attachment of people to their pets and animals or how upset they are when they die, but now I do.

They become your friend. A little comfort in an uncomfortable world.

Some consistency in a world of what if and maybe and perhaps.

I will miss my fishy friend.

And perhaps I will get another.

But I doubt that any fish will be as meaningful to me as Franklin Numero Dos, the French Roast Fish, who saw me through one of the most transitional and up in the air seasons of my life.

Swim in peace my friend, Franklin.

You were a good fish.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why I Blog

Sometimes I think blogging is silly and a little narcissistic. Why would people want to know my thoughts or experiences? Maybe I shouldn't waste the time or space on the World Wide Web.
But then the Facebook On This Day app shows me a blog I wrote 2 or 3 or 4 years ago. 
(It doesn't show much from a year ago because I wasn't blogging. Because I didn't have much positive or thoughtful to say at the time or energy to sit and write)
The blogs that pop up remind me of things. Of places I've traveled. Of feelings I've felt. Of thoughts I've dwelt on and worked through. Of the many wonderful and adventurous and everyday experiences I've had.
Most recently they remind me that the feelings of late are feelings I've had before.
When there was a major relational shift because the single girls dear to me have gotten married and are now wives and I am still here hoping to someday have that for myself. And while being exceedingly happy for them, knowing it's never going to be the same as when we were roommates and valentine dates. (ref: Seasonal Shifts)

Lindsey (beloved roommate of 2012-13), Ashley (longest lasting adult friendship I have),
and Aly (my go to dancing and dinner gal)

The ones about job shifts and leaving and changing and looking. And though I love my job now, being reminded it's still not the thing in life that will fulfill. (ref: Commitment, Transitions and Satisfaction; Already, but Not Yet)

And the travels and adventures. The longing to do more and see more. But remembering I have done lots and have seen lots. (ref: We Went to the UK: Edinburgh; Why Israel?; To Maine and Back in a Day; I think I'll go to Boston; Up, Up and Away)

Edinburgh, Scotland; Jerusalem, Israel; Portland, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts;Eleuthera, Bahamas
I blog to remember.
To know on the days I'm questioning and longing and occasionally sinking that I have hope and experiences and memories that are worth having and never worth trading.
On days I wake up and I'm 32 and realize I have not put much (or any) intentionality into finding a forever companion and wonder, am I too late, have I missed my chance? It reminds me I was taking other chances, I was making my own way. I was (and am) growing and becoming a better version of myself. And can still hope that, just maybe, my forever travel buddy and adventure friend and struggle through things with person is out there somewhere adventuring and becoming a better version too.
And sometimes I write in hopes of encouraging and inspiring. Hoping someone might read and feel not as alone or have a laugh at my silly meanderings or that they can take a risk like flying to the UK with someone they have only met twice!
To remember, to not forget, to encourage, to hope.
That's why I blog.

And, really, I blog because my mom and Aunt Kris encouraged and asked me to : )

Friday, April 22, 2016

Why the H?

Recently, a new friend asked why I capitalize the H at the end of my name and not the beginning.

To which I responded with thanks for noticing, an explanation and moved him into the category of people I like more than others because he noticed and cared to know why. (If you have asked or noticed or taken to writing my name that way as well, know that you are in that group too!)

But really, why do you write your name that way, you ask?

Art by London as a birthday gift years ago before she was an almost 13 year old.
Honestly, I don't completely remember when it started or why. Like an old family nickname or something, it just is now. The was and how are a little hazy.

One friend inspired the shortening of it to a signature of just hH, somewhere along the way.

But I think it mostly comes from being left handed, a little bit (ok, a lot) sassy and some quirky mixed with creativity.

I am left handed. I do things backwards. When I was learning to contra dance I always twirled the wrong direction (and still do sometimes). We [the left handed society] tie our shoes backwards and push rather than pull pens across paper. I think differently than other people often and I believe this partially comes from being left handed, a slightly tilted perspective on the world. So if doing things backwards is my lot, why not write my name backwards?

Sassy, sarcastic, quick witted, etc. might also be words that describe me, but of course in the kindest and most uplifting kind way to be sassy and sarcastic. People ask me regularly if I know that my name can be spelled the same backwards and forwards. They don't state it as a neat fact like "hey, your name is spelled the same backwards and forwards, that's neat" they ask "did you know your name..." and I do appreciate them noticing. However, this has been my name my whole life. So yes, clearly, I know (and like) that my name is a palindrome and I notice other palindromic things as well. Some favorites are 'madam I'm Adam' and race-car. So perhaps I spell my name that way a little out of sass in response to a question I have oft been asked.

Quirky, creative, weird...however you want to label it. I have always been a misfit, fitting in enough to get by but never entirely, maybe not at all at times. At an early age I learned that I wasn't quite like the others. In order to live a life not of frustration and trying to hard, I owned my quirk, flew my freak flag if you will (ref: the Family Stone). I became ok with being a little outside the circle and often not fitting in.  So writing my name in a way that is unique of the other Hannahs out there seemed to be a good idea at the time (I guess, like I said, I don't remember when this started).

So why do I write my name backwards? I think all the above are true...

but mostly,

I like to write it that way and it seems other people like it too : )

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Feelin (loved) 32

This and other birthdays in recent years have left me with a bittersweet feeling. The feeling of having such wonderful friends and being so loved but still feeling a void in not having a person that is 'my' person. Although I do not have that one person, I do have people that are 'my' people. People who have brought me into their homes, their tribes, their dinner tables, their good and bad, their special moments.

This year, many of those people showed up during birthday month so much that I was overwhelmed beyond words by a feeling of gratitude and great love. Some of those ways were:

Pizza and generosity with my longest local adult friends.

Brick Street Sweet Potato Cake in the park with Lacey!

Birthday month weekly treats arriving from Amazon (via a special aunt)
Who doesn't need a pasta-saurus or a Loch Ness ladle?!

Treats on treats from friends near and far.

An adventure to find a new waterfall and hammock!

A new book from mom and a lovely afternoon in the park.

Passover and Good Friday reflection and sweet memories.

Flowers on my doorstep! (twice)

Cards and notes from my friend's kids telling me why they like me : )

The birthday turtles. Arriving every year. 

A few other things like hikes and walks and best friend weddings and dancing and possibilities that I missed gathering photographic evidence of.


The best this year, my very own song, tune written by our best friend Taylor Swift, lyrics inspired by my life and written by none other than the amazing Abby Moore Keith

No longer 30-fun. Here's to 32!
Full lyrics available here.

View video here! (picture above is a hoax)

Thanks to all who have loved and been there and bring me into your lives. 

Feelin 32 Lyrics and Video

It feels like a perfect night to put on our sweatpants
Watch some Netflix, uh uh uh uh
It feels like a perfect night to go to bed early
Fall asleep at seven uh uh uh uh
We're paying bills and eating spinach at the same time
It's miserable and miserable oh yeah
Tonight's the night when we forget about receding hairlines, it's time uh oh

I don't know about you but I'm feeling 32
Everything will be alright, if I’m in my comfy shoes
I don't want a bud light, but I’ll take a home-brew
Everything will be alright, if we just keep dancing like we're 32, 32

It’s gonna be one of those nights
For ibuprofen, my joints are achin’ uh uh, uh uh
It’s gonna be one of those nights
You ditch the party scene, and end up sleeping, instead of drinking
We can laugh and pull a muscle at the same time
It hurts but it’s hysterical oh yeah
We fall asleep after one glass of red wine, it’s time uh oh

I don't know about you but I'm feeling 32
Everything will be alright if I stay near the bathroom
I shouldn’t have another piece, but I really want to
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we're 32 uh uh ah ah ah 32 uh uh uh

I don't know about you, 32 uh uh 32 uh uh

It feels like one of those nights
We do our taxes
It feels like one of those nights
We don’t know teen slang
It feels like one of those nights
Fries look like bad news but I can't have you, I can’t have you ohh, uh, yeah

I don't know about you but I'm feeling 32
Everything will be alright, I got a deal on shampoo
I’d watch Boy Meets World, but it’s not on Hulu
Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we're 32 uh uh, 32 uh uoh,

32 uh uh, yeah, 32 uh uhoo, yeah yeah
It feels like one of those nights uh uh
We ditch the home scene
It feels like one of those nights uh uh
We fly to Iceland
It feels like one of those nights uh uh
Hannah turns 32, she’s turning 32
Welcome to thirty-two

Abby Moore Keith
freelance writer

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

a list: Feeling (Thankful) 32

Some years for birthdays I make lists.

A few years ago I made these lists:

a list: 28 by 29

a list: 30 by 30

Both of which proved to be full of fun and adventure. Things to accomplish.

This year I turn 32 In two days to be exact. Doesn't seem like a big milestone year numerically. But seeings how 31 is coming to an end on a much higher upswing than it started, I am hopeful for 32. Perhaps it will go in to the best year ever categories like 24 and 29, we shall see.

I don't have any lists of fun things I must do concocted yet for the year, but I am thinking about making some. I function better when I have plans and goals and things to look forward to.

But for now I will write a list of 32 things I am currently thankful for:

1. JESUS. It's Holy Week. The dark and light of the week always gives me chills. It may look dreary and doubtful, but just wait. Sunday is coming!

2. A job that I love. Perhaps I only get to keep it for a season, perhaps I will retire from here, but for now I am thankful to be in a position that allows me to truly feel my gifting being utilized.

3. Dancing.

4. The past two (partly bittersweet) weekends spent marrying off two of my dearest friends.

5. A home in a proximity to work that allows me to not experience road rage ever.

6. Anticipation of the amazingness that will be the re-write of T Swift's Feeling 22 into Abby Moore Keith's Feeling 32 in honor of my 32nd birthday!

7. The spring and the blooms and the leaves and flowers and the birds chirping.

8. The cutest nieces and nephews.

9. My small group at church.

10. Getting a drop in visit with both Amanda and Lacey this week.

11. A heel that seems to be healing
*taking a break from running right when spring starts to try and heal my heel is not very ideal

12. A new book arriving in the mail today! Good job, mom : )

13. Birthday month goodies arriving each week from a pretty special aunt!

14. The anxious anticipation of things that may or may not ever happen.

15. Knowing things about myself that I didn't 7 years ago.

16. Family. (I need to plan a trip home soon!)

17. My fish Franklin. Still alive 3 years and 3 moves later! He's a champ!

18. My car. So practical and efficient. Is it bad to love my car that much?

19. Opportunities to serve.

20. The time to sit and write this.

21. An upcoming long weekend.

22. The month of April and it's lack of crazy.

23. Trying to buy a house and not buying a house but learning a lot about what level of adulting buying a house really is.

24. The number 24. I just like it a lot.

25. Volunteers and family partners at Habitat that make work a joy and delight to be a part of.

26. A dad who sends cute cards and notes and who has sent them for as long as I can remember.

27. Ice cream.

28. No longer having  a leak in my ceiling. It's been months since we fixed it, but I am certainly still very glad that it is no more.

29. Friends that are like family.

30. Lists.

31. The Gilmore Girls Reunion that is happening on Netflix.

32. Birthdays. Not just mine.

...and that's 32 with many more things I could list. I'm also thankful that stopping at 32 things I am thankful for is harder than thinking up 32 things...

Coming soon....the lyrics to Feeling 32, inspired my life and birthday and written by the one and only Abby Moore Keith!