As it Seems

It’s been a year. 365 days since you died.

We mark the annuals in interesting ways. News Year Day. Birthdays. Now Sept 22nd.

So much has changed.

I see the little things, like the new lamp on my desk that’s lighting up my office tonight as I write, the same Facebook cover picture you’ve had for the last year, your truck parked in front of your dad’s house. I see the big things, such as a new war on the horizon, not going to visit Aldersons since Grandpa died in February, your grave.


Tonight, as I’ve done many nights in the last year, I’m listening to a song on repeat. One I heard first a few weeks after you died. Normally I have no patience for endless repetition but maybe that’s something else that’s changed a little.

“And I’ll let my stories be whispered
When I’m gone…

When I’m gone
When I’m gone
When I’m gone

Well in this life you must find something to live for
Cause when the darkness comes a callin’
You’ll go back to where you were before
Cause this life is as
Fragile as a dream, and
Nothing’s ever really
As it seems…”

I could listen to that for hours, thinking of your life, the stories you experienced in 26 years.

But in the past year there were none. We all continued to live, grow and experience our lives, missing you.


I know I’ve changed. For the past few months I’ve been working with a personal trainer. He works with kids in high school football and I can’t help but think you’d be friends if you’d met. Maybe for the first time ever I’m enjoying time at the gym, even laughing (not at other people either!).

I still find myself driving east, away from the “bright lights” of Woodland and into the country where the stars are brightest, remembering that time we sat on Grandma’s front yard until 10pm waiting for a meteor shower that was happening at 2am. You pointing to the North Star and telling me that it was Jamie’s star, where your oldest sister was looking over you.

At the house even more of those baseboards you helped me haul home (what 4 years ago now?) are getting installed. Just 3 more closets and the whole house will be done. When we demoed the bathroom this summer I couldn’t help but think you would have enjoyed that. I can’t decide if you would have liked hearing about my backyard projects having inherited your dad’s green thumb or wanted to relax on the porch swing with a drink, like our grandparents did.

Losing Grandpa felt like the sharp sting of a slap, it hurt, it still hurts but nothing like a year ago (that was more of a punch upside the head, to the gut and then a kick in the face). Grandpa had experienced so much in life – remember the stripper pole he got for help getting out of bed? He loved when the nurses joked about that. I think you would have been a funny, dirty old man if given the chance.


My business has changed a lot this last year. I think you would have liked hearing about clients all over the world, the book I’m writing, or made fun of my videos. I talk more about leaving a legacy now, seeing how fragile life can be.

A few weeks ago I was able to help some guys who are working to get fire academy grads hired. I wish I’d known them a few years ago after you graduated from the academy. Helping them with strategies to reach fire cadets like you was so sweet and I think I met them at the most perfect time.


How do you cover a year in life? How could I even express all the things I’ve felt or seen or experienced? It’s impossible.

A German guy made me laugh and cry a few days after our birthday. He meowed like a cat and it reminded me of you.

The Giants won the World Series again last year, but this season has been so pathetic we try not to talk about it.

Your dad is doing better after his stroke, I know he wishes you were here every day.

Jaidyn is growing up so fast, she’s so smart and sweet. Thankfully she’s no longer biting her cousins.

Your nephew Jake has your initials and looks so much like you did as a baby. Chubby cheeks and all. Dylan turns 3 tomorrow, a day that’s both a celebration for him and mourning for you.

It’s hard to think of the kids not knowing you as they grow up. We won’t let them forget Uncle Justin.


“Well I knew
What I didn’t want to know
And I saw
Where I didn’t want to go
So I took the path less traveled on
And I’ll let my stories be whispered
When I’m gone…”

Selfishly I wish that I didn’t have to know what it was like to lose you. That your daughter and family and friends all were spared that experience. I wish you were here to continue living your story.

But your stories will be whispered, shared, shouted, meowed, and passed on.

Year after year.

Even when it seems like just yesterday you were here.

As it seems.


New table design

So this project comes with a story and pictures.

The year was 2005 and I was driving cross country in my dad’s Jeep for college. I had, like any good OCD college student, planned down to the item number what furniture I would be buying at Ikea to outfit my off campus apartment.

Of course, life intervened.

Instead of the chic couch to bed I’d picked out… a horrid futon that fell apart in 6 months.

Instead of the cute table and chairs… a set of 2 pop up tables and some plastic chairs.

While the bed decision was a horrible one that was less comfortable than a hammock would have been strung up in the corner, over time I have used those 2 pop up tables frequently that they were well worth the $30 investment.

But recently, they’ve been looking a bit… used. I guess after 8 years, 4 moves, 3 cities and 3,000 miles that’s to be expected. Probably because I used them for staining the wood for my outdoor garden beds, they were getting a big sticky and gross.

So I grabbed my spatula and began cleaning, taking off the caulk, liquid nails, and junk. Once clean, I decided to cover the somewhat dingy tables with furniture.

First up, gather all the supplies (brush, scissors, modge podge and fabric)


Second, cut to shape (roughly). I was happy that this piece would fit both tables so they’d still match. Then iron the fabric. I hate this part.

Third, apply modge podge to the tables and then smooth on the fabric:

new table 1

Fourth, wrap the fabric down the sides and under, trimming as you go:

New Table 2

Fifth and finally, cover the top with a coat of modge podge to keep it protected!

The finished product is something that’s both cute and durable, I can put a drink on it and not worry about a coaster and they’re hearty enough to haul outside.

The fabric for this project was $4 on clearance as a remnant at Jo-Anns and I already had the modge podge and cleaning supplies. Not bad for a $4 makeover!

So much crap to do

It’s honestly never ending. Jeeze. I just want one of those fairy or wizard wands so that with a swish and flick everything goes back into the place its supposed to be.

Since that’s not likely to happen before Friday here’s what I’m working on tonight (steam of consciousness fashion):

Throwing out the disgusting box of strawberries that went bad in 48 hours. Damn 102 heat wave.

Blowing up the beach ball I got in the mail. Why? Because I can. Trying to keep the dogs from biting it is much harder.

Just finished the second coat of paint on the hall closet (which was a fun project) and now I need to change I’m sweating so much. Note to self: don’t paint when it’s 90 degrees at 10pm.

But the paint is actually done, drying and looks fab. I re-hung all my purses (the ones I’m keeping) and now to move in the crate of computer bags….

Also, taking breaks sucks because everything takes longer to do! But the clothes have finally been folded and put away, I moved some tables and restocked the hallway closet.

Tomorrow when the paint is 100% dry I can rehang the coats. Maybe, just maybe, I can find a few jackets to donate.

It’s still entirely too hot and the dogs are panting. It’s that time of night when the little guys get some energy and start chasing each other around. It’s like they got into my sugar jar and then, just like that, they crash.

I still have too many bags, but at least the ones I use most often are put away nicely.

I wonder where I hid those ugly outdoor pillows I bought at the beginning of summer. The covers are finally done and now I can’t find the pillows. Typical.

Maybe if it cools down this week I can open up the garage and do some cleaning. That’s a big maybe.

The dogs are finally calmed down, just in time to get them into bed.

Now I need to crash too – 7am wake up call and loading up on protein before meeting my trainer at the gym by 8am.

Project posts for the hall closet, cute new table topics, outdoor pillows and Ikea organizers coming… soon. When I feel like it. Maybe by November. Don’t hold your breath.

September Challenges

My friend Sheila used to do these challenges with her family and I was reminded of them earlier this week when I decided that, for the month of September at least, I needed to give up 2 websites that end up being total time sucks: Pinterest and Reddit.

I know, what will I do with all that free time?! Well, here’s my full list of challenges for the next 28 days* and some background:

1. Do not go out to eat. Or drink. Goal 25 days. This one may be difficult without Pinterest recipes! I have already planned a frozen yogurt or coffee meetup with a new contact so that’s going to count for one of the days, and a welcome dinner for my house sitter.

2. No spend for decor/hobbies. Goal 27 days. This one is going to hurt the most I think, the real goal is to stay home and work on the stuff I already have. Trim the flowers back, rake up leaves, paint stuff, maybe sew. I’m giving myself one day for fluff stuff shopping because I will probably want to buy flowers at some point. I’ll try to keep a good list too of things to buy as I work on projects, already on that (mental) list is lighting for the hall closet.

3. Workout 5 times a week. Goal 20 days. I scheduled my time with the trainer yesterday so I already have 16 days on the calendar over the next 4 weeks (ow, this is going to hurt) so I just need to add a day once on the weekend.

4. Walk the dogs. Goal 28 days. I want to get them behaving better on the leash so at least once a day I’ll take one of the dogs to the park which is a nice little 20 min stroll. Most days I’m hoping to have 2 or even all 3 dogs on a little walk – the little guys can walk together but Jackson must go alone.

20120321_1355575. Spend 15 minutes outside in the sun. Goal 28 days. Mostly because I don’t want to be so pale and burn easily in Florida, but also because this is the only time of day I get to fully relax. Walking the dogs doesn’t count. Plus, it has a domino effect because I go to the backyard which means first I have to pick up the dog poop, then I end up watering the flowers, and it’s a nice break.

To track all these Goals I’m making a simple checklist that I can review every day.

*yes, I know September has 30 days but I’m heading to Florida so instead of finishing the month strong, I’ll be finishing the month on the beach and eating airport and conference food.