August’s Lent: The “No Lent” Lent

When I started brainstorming ideas for August’s challenge, there were a lot of variables to consider. Besides it being Summer and just generally busier than most times of year, I have 2 pretty big things going on this month that I wasn’t sure how to work around lent-wise:

  1. I’m traveling for a week to Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland—partially for work, partially for fun. I was chosen to attend lululemon’s annual Leadership Conference in Vancouver and was able to extend my trip for a few days to visit some friends and family in the Pacific Northwest. I literally cannot wait, which luckily I don’t really have to because I leave a week from today, woohoo!
  2. We’re moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan at the end of the month (this is where my boyfriend’s family lives for anyone wondering why Michigan), and as we all know, moving (especially to a different state) can be all-consuming—not to mention a pretty big deal for a girl who’s never lived outside of the Northeast. Anyone have any words of encouragement on navigating this transition for me? I’m happily accepting submissions.

So yeah, since this month has a considerable amount of traveling, packing, goodbye-rounds-making, loose-end-tying, and long-distance driving, I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to commit to for a challenge—especially with this case of lazy summer brain haze I’ve got going on…

I went back and forth with a number of ideas before reminding myself that the whole point of this blog in the first place is to take on challenges that will improve my life in some way—not just to do them for the sake of doing them. Before the start of each month it’s always important to ask myself: What do I need right now? What would be the best thing for me? 

And honestly right now…it’s a break.

A month to enjoy myself and my homestate before things get a little hectic and unstable for a while. A month to make beach dates with friends, visit my family, be fully present for my trip out to the Pacific Northwest, thoroughly prepare for my move, and to center before my balance is tested. I’ve got a lot going on right now, and I honestly don’t think I have the room to add something to the mix. I mentally can’t afford something else to be accountable for. I need to just be and to get through this month stress free (or as close to it as possible).

So I hope you don’t think it’s a cop out, but this month my challenge is to have no challenge: the “no lent” lent. To take care of myself in preparation for a big life change, and to focus my efforts on soaking up these last few weeks of New England summer. 

Don’t worry though, I’ll still be writing—it just won’t be as specific to one topic as it’s traditionally been. And I’ve got September and October’s challenges all lined up so rest assured that lent is totally on for the fall.

 

 

Summer Dog Days = Danne Brain Haze

We’re officially in the dog days of summer (my absolute favorite time of year), and although I’m technically a December baby, I’m a summer girl at heart—and for the record, my mom was this close to naming me Summer. This close…

So, what I’m getting at here is that it’s about that time of year where I literally have to force myself to do anything besides go to the beach and drink Sam Summer on the back porch. I’m not really exaggerating either. Maybe I’m just too hot, maybe I’m just burnt out (literally), but by the time August rolls around I’m kind of out. Call me Italian, but can’t we all just take the whole month off?

Welcome to the current state of Danne affairs.

Because my hazy-summer brain has officially taken over, I have fallen behind with just about everything: emails, keeping up with my various social media accounts, returning phone calls—and even text messages (because it takes so much effort to send a text), following through with any request that anyone makes of me that isn’t going to the beach, trip planning (more on that later), packing (more on that too), and of course…ukulele playing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been practicing my little Uke…just not enough to reach my BHAG of the month. But then again—wasn’t it a pretty tall order for a total newbie to learn how to play an entire song and sing along to it in only a few weeks? I think so. But that could just be my hedonistic alter-ego “Summer” talking. She’s really good at letting me off the hook and rationalizing ditching responsibilities in favor of a good time. What a bad influence…

In any case, here’s what I can report: I did indeed learn to play the ukulele…and I actually caught on much quicker than I thought I would. I’m certainly no Don Ho, but I know a bunch of chords, I somehow have the drive to practice until I “get it” instead of being discouraged and giving up right away (the norm), and I ditched learning how to play Umbrella right off the bat when I rediscovered my favorite pop song ever: Adam Lamber’s “Whataya Want from Me”, and I’m actually pretty close to making it sound like a real song.

So…Whataya Want from Me? Video proof? I can work on that…right when I get back from the beach of course, because that’s where I’m headed the second this posts. 

Oh, and I’ll disclose the details on August’s lent tomorrow…probably…

Memory #9: Wanderlust, VT

Last June—through a magical chain of events that only the Universe could have lined up—lululemon decided to send me to Wanderlust Vermont, a 4-day yoga and music festival, to be their official blogger. Wait, you guys want to pay me to do yoga all day and write about it? Fine, twist my arm, I’ll go.

#hellodreamlife

For 4 days, I stayed in an amazingly outdated Swiss-style chalet filled to the brim with ladies of luon®, practiced more yoga than I knew was possible from some of the best teachers in the country, went on morning meditation hikes where Garth Stevenson serenaded us with his upright bass, drank kombucha from the tap (might I add, the best kombucha I’ve ever had), hit up the free hair-braiding station (every single day), and spent my evenings writing recaps of the day while drinking Wanderlust branded wine before heading out for the night’s musical entertainment. Wow. And did I mention that the weather was absolutely perfect and that I was getting paid? Yeah, I’d be depressed writing this if I hadn’t already bought my ticket for this year’s festival. One month from today I’ll be in Wanderworld, one of my favorite places of Earth…

Wanna know all the details? You can read my blog posts for lululemon here:

wanderlust vermont…live!
you know you’re at wanderlust when…
my so-called wanderlife
another day in wanderland
there’s no place like wanderlust

 

Morning meditation hike with Garth Stevenson

Morning meditation hike with Garth Stevenson

Free hair braiding

If only I could ever recreate this myself

The best kind of yoga studio

The best kind of yoga studio

That time I saw Ziggy Marley

That time I saw Ziggy Marley

Readers’ Memories: Week 2

This week’s reader memory comes from Lee-Ann Dyke from Ontario, Canada: 

I am from a family with four children. Me being the oldest with two younger sisters and a younger brother. With four children, I’m sure my parents thought jet-setting family vacations were a little impractical, but they still made sure that we had something absolutely fun to look forward to every summer. We were from the city so cottaging was our thing! Every summer since the time I was about three or four, we would pick a cottage or resort and rent anywhere from one to four weeks at a time.

The first one we went to for a few years was called Elmhirst’s Resort in little Keene, Ontario. There was so much to do there! There was a dock, a fishing boat, the lake, and an indoor swimming pool with a sauna and hot tub. There was a petting zoo, a park, even a store where we were allowed to spend our allowance on treats!

It became a tradition for my sister and I to start planning our time there at least a week in advance. We would make lists and schedules just to make sure that we had every day planned and that we could fit it all in. On the first day, we’ll play on the teeter totter at 9am, swings at 10, fishing at 11—with hotdogs for bait. We planned every day like that and it was so exciting to finally get there and put our plans into place. It was a wonderful memory and I cherish those moments dearly.

The best part is that now my sister has two daughters of her own. They are 4 1/2 and 2 and had their first big family vacation this spring. My sister couldn’t wait to tell me how her oldest daughter was doing all the same things we did! She wanted to plan every day and rearrange the schedule over and over—just so excited to make sure—just like we did, that she fit it all in.

So the story is really about how two generations of memories can come together. My own that I cherish dearly, and my nieces’ as they are also wonderfully created, almost with the purpose of reminding us how special the moments are.

…Pool at 1:30?  🙂

Got a favorite memory you’d like to share? The offer still stands, send your memories to 12monthsoflent@gmail.com

Memory #6: Summers on the Great Point

My summer job all through college was tending bar in the first class lounge on a 900-passenger ferry called the Great Point. For 11 hours a day, I served cocktails and cheese platters to tourists on their way from Hyannis to Nantucket and it was totally amazing—the absolute best summer job ever. I basically spent 5 glorious summers sailing the beautiful waters of Nantucket Sound, flirting with hot European deckhands who were on Cape to work for the summer, reading as many books as possible during the slow trips (one summer I polished off 19), and going to wild parties that the Irish kids threw at their house—there was always an Irish house and they always had the best parties. It was awesome.

There are way too many individual memories to write about, but I’ll share a few photos to paint the picture for you (although sadly, I don’t have any photos from before the summer of ’04, I don’t think I had a digital camera before then haha). To all my GP friends who might be reading this: I’d love for you to comment and tell me your favorite memories from the boat (this especially means you Kim Cameron).

My beloved Great Point

My beloved Great Point

The door to the first class lounge, I may or may not have unscrewed that sign and taken it home with me on my last day working

The door to the first class lounge. I may or may not have unscrewed that sign and taken it home with me on my last day of work. 

My home away from homeMy home away from home

The GP crew in 2005

The GP crew in 2005

Irish party, summer of '04

Party at the Irish house, summer of ’04

A rough morning after followed this night. Being hungover on a boat is about as fun as it sounds.

A rough morning after followed this night: Being hungover on a boat is about as fun as it sounds.

"Irish Tea Parties" with Marek, Jenny, and Cathal. Read: Drinking Whiskey from tea cups

“Irish Tea Parties” with Marek, Jenny, and Cathal. Read: Drinking Whiskey from tea cups

Do I even need a caption?

Do this even need a caption?

Seriously, those were the days…

Readers’ Memories: Week 1

I’m very excited to share the first of my favorite memory posts from reader submissions, which I’ll be posting every Friday this month. The first 2 come from my 2 best friends from college: Jocelyn, my Italy buddy from Memory #2, and Amanda, my partner in karaoke crime. I love these 2 ladies to pieces and am so happy to still be close with them, and to have them share their favorite memories with me. I have to say too, I absolutely LOVED reading these stories (even the one that wasn’t about me, I swear), and it’s been amazing to have people share their favorite life memories with me. Keep ’em comin’ everyone!

Favorite Memory from Jocelyn Gomes, Boston, MA: Oliver

Growing up, my family (along with much of our extended family) spent our summers at Camp Dennen, on Hedges Pond in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I have so many wonderful memories of summers spent swimming in the pond, hiking and collecting blueberries for pancakes, 4th of July field games, going to the Snack Bar at the “Rec” Center, camp-wide Pig Roasts, and rainbow campfires—my Ti Pat would throw a copper pipe covered with a piece of garden hose into the fire, and the flames would change color as the hose-covered pipe burned.

Two of the people that you would see every summer at Camp Dennen were Rick and Penny, along with their dog, Muffy. She was a white Shih Tzu, and one summer, when I was about 11, I found out that Muffy was expecting puppies. Unbeknownst to my parents, and being the precocious child I was, I asked Penny point-blank if I could have one of Muffy’s puppies. I remember being told that Shih Tzu litters are usually very small, maybe 2 or 3 puppies at most, and that Muffy’s puppies had already been promised to other people. But, if Muffy had more than 3 puppies, I could have one! As summer wound to a close, my family packed up, and headed back home. A new school year began, months went by, and my dream of having a dog began to fade.

I was not privy to what happened next; but, as my parents tell it, they received an out-of-the-blue phone call from Penny. Apparently, Muffy had a litter of 6 puppies (!) and she was calling to let my parents know that we could come pick one out! My parents were surprised (no doubt, as I had not told them of my previous conversation with Penny) but decided that maybe the time was right for us to get a dog. After all, I had gone to an awful lot of trouble to arrange this. However, what they told my brother and sisters and I was that we were only driving to Rick and Penny’s to visit Muffy and her puppies. One of my favorite memories, and probably one of the Top 5 Greatest Moments of My Life, is the moment my Dad turned to us, as we sat in Rick and Penny’s living room, each cuddling or playing with a puppy, and casually asked, “Which one are we going to take home?” I distinctly remember burrowing my face into the fur of the puppy that had cuddled itself around my neck, and bursting into tears. Not dainty childlike tears of joy. Sobs. I am tearing up now, just thinking about it! It was a completely perfect moment of childhood wish fulfillment.

The puppy I had been cuddling (and using to mop up my tears) came home with us that day. We named him Oliver, and we had 6 wonderful years with him.

This memory, in particular, is one of my favorites, because it’s not only the (awesome) story of the day my family got a dog. It is one example, among many, of how incredibly loving my parents were and are, every single day, and what a lucky kid I was.

Oliver

Favorite Memory from Amanda Eckhardt, Providence, RI: Karaoke at Flann O’Briens

There are so many incredible memories that we’ve shared together—so many that it’s really, truly, incredibly difficult for me to choose just one! After all, we did spend our college years together…In the dorms we first lived down the hall from one another, then next door to each other, and then later, when we moved off campus we lived practically across the street from each other. Everyone knows that your friends during your college years become like your family away from home. Through mixed feelings of intense stress from school, maybe a little homesickness, and excitement you end up cementing really strong bonds with this new little family. With that said, not everyone goes to art school. You’d think that with the crazy mixed bag of friendly, awkward, art kid weirdos, that surely there would be plenty of potential kindred spirits hidden in the mix. And believe me, I love eccentricity. Truth be told, I’ve been magnetically drawn to characters my entire life. But after finding the twelfth Polaroid self portrait of your roommate with a fake bloody nose taped to your bathroom mirror after excusing yourself from yet another viewing of Hedwig and the Angry Inch next door, you find yourself nearly knocking that kid off his unicycle in the hallway as you run…Cue Danne Dzenawagis.

I think I probably knew from the moment I accidentally barged into your room that first semester, finding you blasting “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin and drinking tea on your couch at midnight on a Friday. If not then, I DEFINITELY knew by the time we were begging our way into DDD’s under age just to watch karaoke (OK and maybe sneak a beer or two in the bathroom)…We both shared an appreciation for cheesy, simple, comforting, and nostalgic hits from our parents’ youth. By the time we found ourselves at Flann O’Brien’s together for karaoke for the first time, you were already a pro. I, on the other hand, was terrified. I had never sung in front of people that way before. Lets be clear. I LOVE to sing. But. I’m paralyzingly shy.

That night we decided to sing a favorite: “Silver Springs” by Fleetwood Mac. We chose to do it as a duet and switch off parts. All of our friends were there in the crowd (and tending bar) plus tons of people we didn’t know. Maybe it was the high we were feeling from performing, or maybe it was the gin and tonics, whatever it was, in that moment it was like we were magic and we sounded so incredible together! When we reached the chorus I chose the harmony and something crazy happened. The whole room lost control. It was like an out of body experience. I think at one point both of us dropped to our knees. When we finished people we didn’t know we’re coming up to us and congratulating us. It was truly a moment out of a movie and something I’ll always remember. Only maybe in my memory there is confetti raining down on us as we’re lifted onto shoulders and paraded down Tremont Street. We felt invincible.

Damanda livin it up