Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let's see where this goes....

Ok- so I am officially a bad blogger. And a bad mommy. And a terrible wife. Not only have I not been writing about random boring crap that I somehow convince myself is funny- but I'm also not writing about things that matter- like Tyson's First Day of School, Tyson's first 6th Brithday, and Riley's first F-Bomb. These are things I need to remember- for the memories, the prosterity and the blackmail. Instead, I've been catapulted into an entirely new realm of motherhood. One that includes dropping Tyson off at school still in my pajamas, trying to convince myself that consuming a glass of wine at 3:20 is normal (though never succeeding- and by never, I mean mostly never) and training for my Oylmpic debut in Chocolate Chip Cookie consumption. So- you know; at least I have goals.

I don't know what's going on with me, faithful reader(s)... Where is my creative energy? Where is the passion for writing? Where is my lonely stranger? Where have all the cowboys gone? Do-do Da-do-do Da do-do Da do-do.....

I have no agenda- no real topic. Just randomness- from a brain that just can't seem to get it's ducks in a row and apparantly-as I stare at the clock beside me reading 11:53pm- a strange desire to be really freakin tired tomorrow.

Random thoughts:
  • There was another earthquake today- in the Gulf of California. Earthquakes are so common now- that I skipped reading about that to google "Gulf of California" Who knew California had a gulf? Does the Gulf of Mexico know about this? Is there a sibling rivarly?
  • I enjoy flossing my teeth, cleaning my ears and tweezing my eyebrows probably a little more than the average human being.
  • I like to list things in three.
  • If I am walking more than 10 steps to a desired location, I automatically go into the butt cheek squeeze walk. It makes me look like I have something physically wrong with me- but you wait, in 15 years, I'll have a nice shelf of an ass that will be a great place to lay my boobs across.
  • In the past two months, my taste in music has shifted drastically. I'm still not sure what to make of it. But it's fun to listen to something a little more refined than the Backstreet Boys.
Random videos:

Riley's Cuteness:

The Double Rainbow Guy:

And the best- THE BEST Wedding Video EVER! Congrats to my friend, April and her new husband Jeremy- for finding they way it was always meant to be....

we said vows. from Jeremy on Vimeo.

ok that's all I got people. More to come... in another year or so.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dear World,

My young son starts to school today...It's going to be sort of strange and new to him for awhile, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently. You see, up to now he's been king of the roost...He's been boss of the backyard...His mother has always been near to soothe his wounds and repair his feelings.

But now things are going to be different.

This morning he's going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand, and start out on the great adventure...It is an adventure that might take him across continents, across oceans...It's an adventure that will probably include wars and tragedy and sorrow...To live his life in the world he will have to live in, will require faith and love and courage.

So, World, I wish you would sort of look after him...Take him by the hand and teach him things he will have to know. But do it gently, if you can.

He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true.

But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero...that for every crooked politician there is a great and dedicated leader...Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend.

Steer him away from envy, if you can...and teach him the secret of quiet laughter.

In school, World, teach him it is far more honorable to fail that to cheat...Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if everyone says they are wrong...Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough people.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon...Teach him to listen to all men - but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take just the good that siphons through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he's sad...Teach him there is no shame in tears...Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success.

Treat him gently, World, if you can, but don't coddle him...Because only the test of fire makes fine steel...Let him have the courage to be impatient...Let him have the patience to be brave.

Let him be no other man's man...Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself. Because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind.

This is quite an order, World, but see what you can do...He's such a nice little fellow, my son!
-Dan Valentine

(Thanks Mom!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bright Spaces

I am so proud that the organization I work for is able to not only change lives but that in the prcoess, this kind of happiness happens along the way....

Great job, April!

Bright Horizons from Kent Creative on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I have moved to a new office that unfortunately for me, is within panting distance of a PEI WEI. Which- by the way- is pronounced, pay-way. Like "I'm broke, yo!- whydontchoo you pay my way, homie?". It is not Pee Wee, as in 'flogshislog' Herman. If ever someone says, "Hey, let's go eat at Pee Wee", I honestly want to point and laugh hysterically like a 7 year old boy.

So we lasted all of a day and a half before we christened our Pei Wei relationship and brought in lunch to say goodbye to our co-worker, Rebecca, who is off to explore other journeys (I am genuinely very sad about this- I think she is one of the most interesting people I have ever encountered, and I feel smarter just for knowing her). We had Pei Wei on her last day. Nothing says "We'll miss you" like lettuce wraps and fortune cookies *sniff sniff*......

I love fortune cookies- not so much for the slightly superstitious and overly romanticized piece of paper, but mostly because when you prefer your cardboard with just enough sugar to piss you off- then Fortune Cookies are really great to have around.

But I opened mine. And it just says "Plenty".
Content in what I have.
No longer feeling the void of not-enough.

This resonated with me for a number of reasons I suppose. But mostly, it's the connectivity to that other word. Content.

Isn't that really what we're all after? Just a chance to look around at your life- at the people, the memories, the home you've built for your family, the way you live your life and treat others, your soul, your skin, your heart- and say... "I am happy. I feel content. I have plenty."
Well isn't it?

So I can't get this out of my head... about the idea that maybe, just maybe, I have always had plenty. That the shadow of my constant needs and wants have always blinded me to everything and everyone I've ever been surrounded with. And sometimes, admittedly more often than I would like, I still think that way. I don't want to see my life like that anymore. So I'm not going to. Hmph.

My life may have forever been altered by lettuce wraps and that overly romanticized damn piece of paper. But I'm only slightly superstitious...
And may I add-
plenty grateful.

Friday, July 23, 2010

i love this. so wanted to share. you can learn more here .           


Written in 1998, the Incomplete Manifesto is an articulation of statements exemplifying Bruce Mau’s beliefs, strategies and motivations. Collectively, they are how we approach every project.

1. Allow events to change you.

You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good.

Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you'll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome.

When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we've already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).

Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep.

The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents.

The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study.

A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift.

Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere.

John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader.

Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas.

Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving.

The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down.

Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool.

Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions.

Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate.

The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ____________________.

Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late.

Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you're separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor.

Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks.

Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself.

If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools.

Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.

You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software.

The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk.

You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions.

Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages.

Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our "noodle."

28. Make new words.

Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind.

Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty.

Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between "creatives" and "suits" is what Leonard Cohen calls a 'charming artifact of the past.'

31. Don’t borrow money.

Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully.

Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips.

The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster.

This isn’t my idea – I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate.

Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You'll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat.

When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else ... but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge.

Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.

Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals – but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields.

Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh.

People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I've become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember.

Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people.

Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can't be free agents if we’re not free.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Tonight- I am short on three things. Wine- Time- and Energy. Riley Beth has been sick and none of us have been sleeping very well. But I wanted to show off a few picks from the last few weeks and our visit to the Edwin Warner Nature Center today.

Our days are getting better and our spirits continue to rise. Beauty is all around us. And we are breathing it in as much as we possibly can.

It is there in friends....

who drop plans at the last minute when I score tickets to see these guys at the Opry...

It is there in fudge pops- enjoyed by the first time by the sweetest little creature I've ever known...

I found it in this baby bird- who, for weeks, became our own little nature show, as we watched her eat and grow and then fall... down to the shrubs below; waiting patiently for her wings to catch up with her will. I grew quite attached. And named her Rosalinda.

We found it in celebrating Gary- Kyle's Dad- on Father's Day. With pizza, beer, and some of the finest people this side of South Carolina.

It is there in watching the kids enjoy nature.
And of course it is simply there... in nature.

It is there in a little boy letting it be known that he is totally over the photography session

In the wonderment gleaming from the young sapphire eyes of a princess...

It is there in a father and son ridin' in a truck.

It is there in everything. And that's all that matters.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Reasons Why

Well, hello there. I guess if you are reading this than that means you haven’t given up on me yet. And I thank you for that.

Obviously- it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything and I do have my reasons. It’s so easy to share the good things- To plaster photos of family and friends with carefree grins along with stories of trips, evenings out and random musings from my painfully and only slightly quirky brain. Those stories are fun to write about. And while I haven’t been completely without those events or moments- mostly they’ve been overshadowed by circumstances that can only be described as less than peachy.

I don’t recall who I had this conversation with but I remember talking with a friend one time about everyday pleasantries that we (as in human beings) engage in with one another. Someone asks how you are- you say good- ask them the same- they say good. Great- then that’s been established. Everyone is good. Good. What if you were asked that and you actually told the truth??

Well- No- I have not been good. There- I said it. Things have been pretty effin stressful and tough. I do feel like I’ve been able to maintain my auto-pilot status fairly well. Along with wiping out an entire sleeve of Ritz crackers and two glasses of red wine in one sitting- it’s one of the things that I’ve gotten very good at over the last several years. Not to say that I’m particularly proud of either though considering both actions reek of repressing large amounts of emotions I’m too chicken shit to face head on. But that’s a therapy session of a different color.

My baby brother is in jail. He will be there long enough for it to really matter. I think it will be good for him but mostly I think about him sitting there- wondering where it all went so wrong. And what kills me is that I know where it went wrong. But the issues weren’t given the attention they deserved. And so there he is- learning the hardest lesson of his life. I wish so desperately that things could have been different. And I hang on to the hope that one day they will be.

Kyle and I have been dealing with our own choppy waters: Financial stress and health issues. But as I write this (and probably the reason I AM writing)- both those seas seem to be calming and we are breathing again. I think if I felt so inclined to share the severity of the situations, one might ask how we got through it. (yeah- it’s been pretty bad). Is there any other option?? I didn’t see that on the sign-in sheet. Did someone forget to inform us that we could opt out and just NOT get through it? Nope- there are babies to feed, five year olds to reprimand, Subway’s to run and homeless kids to help. So this is OUR LIFE. And we just do the best we can.

I think the biggest thing in coming out of our little stay in SUCKSville is the realization that our families are pretty awesome. Kyle’s dad and Ruth. His mom and Ken. My mom and Dean- they’ve prayed and encouraged and sometimes- they said nothing at all; which I learn more and more everyday is an art worth mastering. Sometimes, not saying anything speaks the loudest. And for those that I just mentioned- this is my official public Thank You! Not only do you just get older the older I get. You get smarter. And wiser. And awesomer. We are very thankful to have you on our side.

So stay tuned, dear blog followers. More posts are on their way… The Brown’s are back in business, baby!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

just beautiful

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One more look

Dear Friends and Family-

If you live here with us in Nashville- this will just solidify what you've already known or possibly just discovered about the city we call home. If you live somewhere else, please take a moment to take this in. It will give you a feel for what has been going on in the past week and a half.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Recently, I taught Tyson how to tie a knot. The next thing I knew- chaos ensued around the house and he took it upon himself to put his new skill to good use.

First- there's part of his Thomas the Train "Action Canyon" set; which hasn't been put together correctly since it was sitting under the Christmas tree 2 years ago. He finds other things to do with it. Like tying it to Riley's highchair, which looks like loads of fun, I must say.

Then there's this guy:

And apparently, our men in uniform get no respect around here... this poor man's been hanging around for quite sometime.

I don't think Tyson is an angry child but we're hiding all dental floss, shoestrings and industrial strength rope just in case...

Friday, May 7, 2010

We Are Nashville

I, like many Nashvillians, just cannot find the words. Or perhaps it’s more that I have so many words crowding my head that I don’t know where to start. I am heartbroken. Simply heartbroken and overwhelmed at the devastation that has crippled our beautiful city and so many that call it home.

So I want to write this down, to get it out, to have something to remember it by and to give others who don’t live here, a chance to experience it second hand- from someone who was not directly affected this natural disaster but who will certainly never be the same because of it.

On Friday, April 30, I remember telling Tyson that it was supposed to rain all weekend, and that we should try to come up with project that we could work on inside. As expected, we woke up the next day to a heavy downpour but decided to go ahead and attend a family member’s baby shower as planned. Kyle left about the same time I did to go with his dad and stepmom to help his brother move into a new home. As we drove to Donelson around 10:00am, my first twinge of worry came when several times; I had to swerve to avoid deep standing water on Lebanon Road. And there was a lot of it. I remember thinking, “It’s supposed to rain all weekend, and it already looks like this?” I tend to be a weather-watcher any other day so the fact that I was glued to the television the rest of the afternoon was not an uncommon occurrence. I kept telling myself to not blow things out of proportion (I’m a “expect and prepare for the worst” kind of gal) but then the meteorologist said one simple sentence that I will never forget. “The viewers should know that very quickly, this is turning out to be an event that you will tell your grandchildren about.” I called Kyle and begged him to come home.

Later into the afternoon, the rain just wasn’t letting up. I kept in constant contact with Kyle, his dad, Gary and stepmom, Ruth. There they were, all huddled up in the cab of a truck slowly making the 30 minute interstate drive back from Murfreesboro. At one point in our conversation, I learned that they were sitting on the interstate- and making the decision on whether or not to get off at the Old Hickory Blvd exit on I-24W. “We’re not moving at all” Kyle said. “I think we’re going to try and get off now.”

Not two minutes later, this is the image I saw on my TV- which was one exit down from where Kyle, Ruth and Gary were sitting.

Once they got off the interstate, the normal 10 minute drive back into the city took them almost 3 hours. Ruth and Gary still had to drive to their home, 45 minutes away in Fairview. It took them another 2 ½ hours.

Sunday morning, we woke up and the water had risen to about 3 feet around us on 10 Ave N and was surrounding the brand new, not even opened Goodwill Training Center that sits directly in front of our house. (Fortunately, our condo sits on a rather steep hill and we were unscathed). For over a year, we watched this beautiful new structure being built. Aesthetically, it was the crown jewel amidst all the industrial relics in our downtown neighborhood. They had just put the furniture in the first floor. We watched the water rise to 4 feet- now it was almost halfway up the doors. It was just a building- but watching it being engulfed by that murky water was hard to watch.

Around 1:00pm Sunday afternoon, there was a break in the torrential downpour and it seemed the entire neighborhood scurried outside to check things out. The most shocking scene was on the other end of our street where we saw the Farmer’s Market, an entire half mile of Rosa Parks Blvd and the Dollar General parking lot all but completely submerged. The Dollar General’s doors and windows had busted and merchandise spilled out into the newly formed lake. I thought of a new ‘Used Furniture’ store that had just opened a few doors down. I thought of the owner and wondered if he knew. How devastating this would be for him and his family.

The rain subsided for about an hour and then it decided we had not had enough. It continued to fall well into the later part of the evening. And it was then that the enormity of the situation began to sink in for me. The news had already reported flood related deaths, massive loss of personal property and the threat of the Cumberland River spilling over its banks was at this point, not a matter of if, but when.

Monday morning, as I reluctantly saw Kyle off to work, the kids and I headed back out to survey the neighborhood. I stepped out of the garage into a web of blinding sun, dense humidity and an offensive stench of putrid water. We headed down 9th Ave where we saw that a neighboring condo complex- Row 8.9; which sits on Rosa Parks- was hit hard. I learned later that they had no power, and no way to get out. Most of the resident’s cars were under water. We walked through the KFC parking lot and looked down the now hidden street towards our beautiful city. I began to feel sick.

We crossed the street over beside the Farmer’s Market and into the Bicentennial Mall. I saw vendors carrying out their merchandise in sopping, wet bags. They looked lost and completely stunned. I hurt for them like they were my own family.

After our outing, we headed home where I was greeted by the news that the Cumberland River was now spilling into the city. Just a few miles down, it was taking over the Opryland Hotel, Opry Mills, The Opry House and most of the homes around it. I watched in horror. About an hour later, I received a message from a neighbor who helps organize events for Hope Gardens. She suggested we knock on the doors of the residents who live in Row 8.9. We would offer resources such as a phone, food, internet access, a cool place to rest or a hot shower. I met up with Rebecca and away we went. We found that most were not home and the ones that were, had made arrangements to stay with friends or family. We stopped again to stare out into the black lake that used to be a road. I swallowed hard and choked back the tears.

As we walked back to our dry, comfortable and cool homes, we began to discuss other ways that the flood was affecting our area and what we could do to help. She pointed out a fact that I had known, but didn’t even think about until that moment. While we are fortunate enough to live in a nice home, the majority of our neighborhood is considered “economically underprivileged.” Many of the children who live in the area are on a program that gives them free breakfast and lunch while at school. The sad truth is that for a lot of them- when they’re not in school- they don’t eat well. And in some cases, they don’t eat at all. We enlisted the help of two neighborhood girls that were hanging out with us to help spread the word; a picnic lunch for our Hope Gardens kids would be provided the next day. Kyle and I covered the sandwiches (bet you can’t guess from where) and the brownies (because I’ll take any excuse to consume massive globs of brownie batter) and Rebecca handled the rest. I love it when a plan comes together. Rebecca reported this morning that many kids, a few adult residents and several police officers enjoyed the food and really seemed to appreciate the gesture. Finally, I felt like I had done something to help.

Now it’s Thursday, May 6. We are five days out from when this all began. The national media is slowly picking up on the fact that this is a big deal. That people lost their lives. They lost their homes. There are reports of suicides. 11 counties have been declared disaster areas with many more expected to make that list. Mayor Karl Dean is estimating the cost of this flood to top the 1 billion dollar mark; billion- as in million- but with a “B”. Most possessions can be replaced- still some cannot. I see pictures like these:

A woman who lost her grandmother’s 100 year old bible:

A mother salvaging pictures of her kids:

The Grand Old Opry- where hundreds of items- irreplaceable country music memorabilia have been destroyed:
A family walking away from their home- not knowing what will be left when they return:

And so now- the recovery begins. And begun it has. I have taken it upon myself to be a bit of a watchdog for new information on recovery efforts and pass them along the best way I know how- Facebook. My love/hate relationship with this social networking oasis has certainly proved to be a valuable communication tool in a time like this. I am astounded by all that has been organized thus far. Astounded and touched beyond anything I’ve ever experienced so personally. I've fallen in love with this city all over again. So glad to call it home.

So that’s it, for now at least. I simply needed to say a few things out loud. I’m drained but so looking forward to helping clean the Farmer’s Market tomorrow. I’ll be sure to take pics and keep you guys updated. Meanwhile- here are a few other memorable pics from the last few days.

Please keep Nashville and the entire state of Tennessee in your prayers. We need them all....

Life is funny. Sometimes it's the complete opposite. This is my best attempt at trying to capture it all...