Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mad over the Madding Crowd

This movie.
Yeah I need to just buy it already. It's gotten to that point.
Like I think this past week I've watched it at least once a day... sometimes twice. I've already paid for half of it in Redbox rental fees. But I seriously can't help myself.

I'm completely and utterly obsessed Far From the Madding Crowd.
ALL of it.

The music. The setting. The characters. The story. I'll go in to that in a second post - don't want you to O.D. on it just yet.

But oh the clothes!
With fall already here, I'm almost excited to exchange my flip-flops for boots and my tank tops for oversized nubby sweaters.
The costume designer for this film was/is a genius! The colors, textures, and natural fibers she used to outfit the cast are in a word, yummy. If clothes can be described as yummy...?
Even Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the strong and meek Gabriel Oak, has an enviable wardrobe. Makes me want to pull out Ryan's big vintage Pendleton sweater and pair it with some jeans & a huge scarf.

Below I've included some potential current day outfits, curtesy of Anthropologie, J-Crew and a few of my favorite Etsy finds, inspired by this gorgeous film.
And if you haven't seen this film yet, take a look at the trailer posted below and see if you're not inspired too! More to come I promise!

*You can find the link to each sartorial item by clicking their image. 
**All other productions stills from Far From the Madding Crowd were found via Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts' fan sites, linked here by clicking their names.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Eternity to go

So today is a special day.

But it didn't feel like it would be last night.
To me it felt like a normal Monday leading to a regular Tuesday. Okay, normal-ish...

I got home after a good day of working out and battling the horrendous Seattle traffic, which, miraculously didn't seem so bad considering the wet rainy weather.
I took the recycling out and made myself a mezze plate for dinner. Okay that description might be puffing it up a bit... I made some tuna salad, sliced some cucumber and grabbed some leftover baba ghannouj, carrots and olives and threw it on a plate. Fancy.
I watched a chick-flick on Netflix and then FaceTimed with Ryan, my husband before heading to bed. Alone.
He's in Kazakhstan.
For 5 weeks.

He usually calls me at 9:30am. It's a 12-hour time difference.
And it was 9am.
I laid in bed, still in a dreamy daze. There's a plaster on the ceiling from a crack that once rained inside. And like a little kid looking at clouds I imagined all kinds of animals and figures.

Buzz buzzzzz.

I looked over at my phone. No emails. No texts. No calls.

Buzz, buzz, BUZZZZZZZ.

What? Where? Could this actually be my doorbell ringing? At 9am? I don't think I've ever heard my dinky doorbell ring. Ever 

In my boxers and tank top I glanced through the peep hole expecting, I don't know... my neighbors, or landlord or maybe UPS... Instead I saw a flurry of pinks & petals.

You see it wasn't any plain 'ol Tuesday after all.

Two years ago today I made the best decision of my life.
I said "yes" to a life of adventure. To letting go of firmly fixed plans and just "playing it by ear." To diving in head first, versus wading slowly in. To travel, distance and separation rather than slow Saturdays snuggling. To campers and surfing, backpacking and REI wish-lists.

I said yes to Mr. Ryan Michael McEliece.
And my life has never been the same.

It's amazing that it's only been two years. In part it seems like yesterday, and yet so much has happened. The Honeymoon years are supposedly now over. But in truth I felt like the honeymoon years never really began. If I'm gonna be completely honest life's been a little rough for us. From endless illness, to mono, to weeks and miles apart, to knee surgery and recovery we've had our fair share of bumps in the road.
This is what Ryan said "yes" to, poor guy!

But through it all I've had a hand to hold. A strong one. A brave one. One that lifts me up and leads me onward. One that clasps mine in his and covers me in prayer. One that encourages and provides. One that's not afraid of the unknown but trusts in Jesus and His good plan for our life. Because it is now OUR life. We live it together.
And every joy now is that much sweeter. Every challenge is that much easier. And life is so much richer because I share it with him. I'm thankful for how he encourages, strengthens and stretches me - in the best possible way. And most importantly I'm so grateful for how he loves me with the love of Christ. And through him I'm better able to understand the depths of that glorious mystery.
It's the biggest privilege of my life to stand next to him, to serve him and to love him.

Yes, we've had a rough road... a challenging two years. But with each step it gets better. With every day more beautiful. And I didn't think it was possible to love him more than I had the day before. But I do.

He sent me flowers. The most beautiful flowers I've ever beheld. Dreamy.
He sent me flowers from half-way across the world. So much glory to drink in and it's overwhelming. I'm drunk with their scent; drunk with love. At 9am.

I wish that I hadn't expected it to be a regular Tuesday, wished that I hadn't made appointments galore. All I wanted to do was just sit and look at them. All day.
He knows me. Knows what I like.
And God does too. He gave me the best gift I've ever been given.

Two years down. Eternity to go.

P.S.  HUGE shout out goes to Nicorah Floral for the exquisite blooms both now and then, and to Kristen Parker of Kristen Marie Photography for the lovely photos. Thank you guys for making my day so very very special!!! Marriage is worth celebrating!!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Best-Laid Plans Part II

Well so much for this "writing once a week" business...

Part I was an uneventful post. Part II nearly didn't happen.
"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
I actually had to look this one up. It's a phrase (or half phrase) that's often used, but like most common idioms I had no idea where it came from or what it's context was. Obviously the "Of Mice and Men," rang familiar transporting me back to Mr. Sigmar's freshman English class. Lennie. Gary Senise, not as legless Colonel Dan but George. Whoa! Rabbit trail...
The original comes not from John Steinbeck's classic novel, but a Scot poem titled, "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough," written by Robert Burns. Try and read it. It's pretty funny.
Needless to say the phrase is pretty self-explanatory:
Even with all our good intentions, crazy dreaming, and careful planning things can go amiss.
"[Poo] happens." 
 Another common phrase but I don't know if anyone can be (or would want to be) attributed to it.

We finished our season at Pacific Northwest Ballet the beginning of June and it was a rush to the finish line.
Between our final Rep of Carmina Burana and Concerto DSCH and our Encore Show that was live-streamed for all the world to see, we had our hands and schedules FULL. And if that weren't enough, for the 2nd half of our Encore show we re-staged all of Balanchine's Serenade- a ballet we hadn't performed in nearly 2 years.

© Angela Sterling Photography

By this time (as per usual) the number of names scribbled on Boyd Bender, our physical therapist's sign-up whiteboard had reached an all-time high. I actually don't know how accurate that last statement was, but it seemed like the list of walking (or dancing) wounded kept rising with every passing day. I was no exception to this - my right knee was weirdly swollen and no amount of Advil or icing seemed to help... it only got, well, worse.

© Angela Sterling Photography

But the point is that everyone was hurting in some way or other - we all were just trying to finish the race and claim our prize: 8 weeks off, and during the best summer Seattle's seen in decades!
Plenty of time to rest those aches and pains, get out of shape and then get back into shape before the season resumed in August.  At least that was my plan.

While I'm neither a mouse nor a man, my plans most certainly went awry.

MRI image of my right meniscus.
It should be solid black like the right most portion...
To make a long story short, I injured my knee Friday, May 15th. I finally received an MRI Thursday, June 25th. And the diagnosis was confirmed Monday, July 6th that I indeed would need arthroscopic surgery to repair and/or clean up my "macerated" meniscus.
The surgeon's words, not mine.
So much for this "getting back into shape" part - at least with regards to anything that required my knee to twist, torque or turn-out. Yep. That's basically all ballet.

Miraculously, my surgery was approved by Labor & Industries within a week and there was an opening in my surgeon's schedule for Monday, July 20th.
And I hadn't danced for 6 weeks.
I wouldn't dance for many more...

It's been three weeks since my surgery, and while by all other standards I'm doing amazingly well - walking, swimming, climbing stairs, riding stationary bikes, all without a brace or much pain - I can't help but struggle with feelings of frustration, of fear and of doubt.

40 days of Mono was nothing compared to this.
I find myself walking. Constantly walking. And while I convince myself that it's good for me, good for my knee, I feel the gnawing, the grinding of my soul.
If I'm honest, I can barely even sit still to write this post. The anxiety builds and I need to do something, anything to soothe the burning itch.

They say for every day of dancing you're off it takes two to come back. And I keep counting the days. 42. 84. 63. 126... mosquito bites to my heart-itch.
Both surgeon and physical therapist have said it'll take me 3 months to be fully back, but what exactly does that mean? And are they accounting for the month and a half that I was already off prior to having a portion of my meniscus cut out?

Plan? I feel paralyzed to plan for anything. The first question I'm asked by pretty much anyone these days is, "When will you be able to dance again?" But I have no clue.
And yet in this restless state I keep groping for any sort of plan that I can devise. Workout and therapy schedules. Exercise regimes. Anti-inflammatory diets. Striving. Controlling. All-consuming fire of Fear.
Can you relate?

But He asks me to trust. To rest. To recover. 

To remember His promises. That He will bring me back. He will!
That He has plan for my life. A good one. A great one! To prosper and not to harm; to give hope and a future.
Not cliché. But real. True. For me, right now. For everyone who calls, who prays and who seeks with all their heart.

So I call. I pray. I seek. With all my heart. Because this is no way to heal. No way to live. Endlessly wandering. Striving. Pushing too fast, too hard. Held captive by anxiety. Paralyzed by fear.
I remember what I've learned before (because I've had this lesson oh-so many times!). I remember what I've experienced before. His mighty miracles worked out in the world, worked out in me. How can I forget?!!! How utterly shortsighted I am!

Nothing is impossible for HIM! 
Jessika just rest!

So I stop counting days and a I start counting blessings. I let go of control. Of plans. And I make a conscious and concerted choice to relax the white knuckles of my heart and commit to Him these struggles that have consumed me. I lay them down and ask Him to establish my steps. One at a time. And with my now empty hands I grab His strong ones, and ask Him to lead me in the way everlasting. I want to walk by faith, and one day dance by it too. Whenever that may be. No pressure. Just patience.

So for now I rest in and enjoy the Now, receiving the gifts He's giving me Today. Thankful for what I can do. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Because if I'm following Him I have nothing to fear.
After all, He is the Master and He's got the best plan!