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The Lights: Year One

A year in marriage. The first year. Year one. Thousands upon thousands of little marriage-isms discovered that make me fall in love, make me quizzical, make me grateful, frustrated, challenged. Marriage-isms that better me. That’s what happens.

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A year of hearing “my wife” used in conversation and getting butterflies in my heart.

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A year of staring at the two rings on my left hand and wondering how any married lady ends up only wearing one or the other after awhile. A year of resolving to the fact that one day I too will probably wear just the band at times because the engagement ring is quite heavy and valuable and yes the band alone is more comfortable. One day. But for this year, I can’t imagine taking either off.

A year of wearing those rings in the ocean, hiking, camping, traveling, running. Because I will. Not. Take. Them. Off. See above.

A year of glancing at the ring on my husband’s finger and feeling pride and humility at what that simple gold band represents on his hand. That’s my promise. Right there on his hand. And he wears it with pride.

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A year of reprieve from regret because ever single thing I’ve done, right or wrong, has brought me here to you.

A year of replaying the ceremony in my mind. Letting the raindrops and the faces of our friends and our families and the music and the vows drift in and out of my brain theatre. The ritual was so powerful. Was it a dream? It was real, and it was perfect.

A year of discovering that rings and ceremonies and pieces of paper absolutely do matter. Those who say they don’t are kind of right but mostly totally wrong. See above.

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A year of dealing with the Social Security Administration and the DMV and the Passport agency and my banks because yes I am changing my name. I’d always wondered what women meant when they said changing your name was a pain in the ass. A year of understanding what they meant.

A year of becoming Mrs. Light. Like Laurie always knew he should be part of the March family I knew since I met him that I was born to be a Light. How can a name be so perfect?

A year of firsts. For the first time strangers reply to me after telling them my new last name “Oh, that’s a really cool name.” I’m a Sigl and always will be a Sigl. It will always be a part of my name, and sometimes I mourn it in my signature. I do not mourn the standard responses from strangers:

Stranger: S – I – G – E -…

Me: No no no, no E. Just S-I-G-L

Stranger: S-I-G-A-…

Me: Nope. Just four letters. S-I-G-L.

Stranger: S-I-G-L. Are you sure?

Me: Yep, I’m pretty sure.

Stranger: Okay. (writes on paper: “Sigal”).

Or this struggle:

Stranger: How do you say your name?

Me: Well the correct Austrian pronunciation is Siggle (like wiggle) but most of my friends and family pronounce it Seeegl like the bird.

Stranger: So which is it?

Me: I have no idea.

*quietly whimpers and suppresses ongoing identity crisis*

I won’t miss those. I was born to be a Light.

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I am the Seagull. No, that’s not it.

A year of trying to create a new signature which is a strange thing to do intentionally as my previous signature evolved organically over time.

A year of discovering that Light and Sigl share a lot of the same letters and so in rapid cursive don’t actually look very different. I can’t decide if this makes things easier, or if it disappoints me.

More firsts. Filing taxes with another person for the first time. (Who are we kidding we filed an extension and still haven’t done our taxes. Let’s get on that.)

Running a marathon for the first time.

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Climbing my first mountain.

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Finishing my first manuscript.

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Firsts, brought to you by the power and strength of life partnership. Brought to you by the magic of marriage which when done right, makes you superhuman in your zest for life and ambition to do better.

A year of talking about “my husband” in conversation and feeling the words in my mouth go from something foreign and new to something warm and comfortable. My husband. Have you met my husband? This is my husband. I’m meeting my husband in an hour. Before I decide I’ll have to discuss it with my husband. My husband and I. Husband. What a delightful word.

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A year of arguments. Yes there are arguments. Each argument teaching us things we need to know in order to navigate this new marriage. Each argument hard, painful, but necessary. Arguing with respect. Arguing with the safe feeling in my gut that knows we’ll be okay. Even though we’re mad, even though we’re disagreeing, even though we’re frustrated, there’s a way out and we’ll find it. We always do. We always have. In marriage our skill at arguing constructively is that much more necessary. We now stand on a common foundation and the wrong kind of fight can crack it. The right kind of fight can make it stronger. Let’s keep fighting right. But only every once in a while. Not fighting is in fact more fun.

A year of getting to Tahiti. A year of planning a honeymoon to Tahiti. What is more epic than a honeymoon? That’s what this is. A year of throwing up my hands because it’s too overwhelming. The flights from L.A. to Tahiti then the boat to Moorea and the inter-island airfare lined up with hotel stays and weather and the best time to take off work. It’s too much! I’m done! But the next day I wake up and I make it all work and I book our epic adventure in Tahiti. Because I’m good at planning things. You’re good at cooking, setting up campsites, taking care of our cats, and I’m good at travel planning. We bring things to the table.

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A year of pondering children. Weighing our trepidation against our desires. Weighing logistics and risk and societal pressure and personal goals and biological clocks. Still pondering.

A year of people asking when we’re going to have kids.

A year of fear. Fear of losing you, fear of not being able to have children, fear of losing our cats, fear of not having enough money, fear of not accomplishing my dreams, fear you won’t accomplish yours, fear of fear. Marriage, to me, is the highest form of love. It’s not given. It’s not born. You must choose it every day. I choose it. I devote myself to this love every day. The depth of my love for you, for our marriage… hot dog there’s a lot at stake. With high stakes comes fear. Breathe it in, breathe it out. Get back into love. Always facing and overcoming fear.

A year of pet challenges. We both know that Sharky is a genius and these past few months I can’t help but wonder if he’s testing us to see if we could handle a child. He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing. Our golden boy has become our problem child but I have to confess that every time I see you care for him my heart swoons. And Wizard is still Mr. Wizard. Sweeter and fatter every day.

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A year of newlywed bliss. They told us the first year would be the hardest but we must have gotten that hard part out of the way a long time ago because the first year was the best.

A year of faith, not in God, but in us. No givens in life. No givens in marriage. This train runs on a track of faith. Faith in each other, faith in ourselves. Train Tracks of Faith. I should have definitely been a country singer.

A year of laughter. We crack each other up in that special way that no one else would find funny, and that’s how I know it’s a special language written for us. We’re the only ones fluent.

A year of tears. The drama that creeps its way into my life again and again. Your shoulder is always there. Your arms always hold me.

A year of encouragement. Yes I had a breakdown getting into the ocean to snorkel. All that equipment! Yes I didn’t think I could climb up that mountain. Yes I didn’t know I could finish a marathon. I couldn’t have, not without you.

Here’s what I have to say about marriage to anyone who has found their favorite life partner but is on the fence about the piece of paper. Do it.

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Life is a field trip to a theme park with really crazy roller coasters. You want to go on those roller coasters. You don’t want to just ride the carousel all day. You know they’ll be fun but they’ll also be scary and some of them might make you sick. Will you be able to handle it? Yes you will, but you sure would like to have a buddy for the day. So you look around and you find someone who you like a whole lot and you want to sit as close as possible to that person on these big scary roller coasters. You ask that person:

“Will you be my roller coaster buddy for the WHOLE day? Like, not just the first one, but let’s stick together so we know we have a buddy all day.” And that person says:

“Yeah! I like you a lot and I definitely want to ride these roller coasters with you. And in between maybe we can sneak off behind the ferris wheel and make out.”

“Sure.”

“Awesome.”

And so you go over to your teacher and you announce to her and the whole class, “Hey everyone, we’re buddies for today, just so you know.” Your class respects the buddy code. And your teacher writes it down in her notebook. If she needs to speak to you she should just look for your buddy and she’ll find you, and vice versa. It’s in the book.

Maybe you’re on a field trip where you feel like riding coasters all by yourself. That’s totally fine. Or maybe you’re on that field trip where you definitely want a different buddy for every different ride. That’s cool too. But if you have found that person who you know you’d rather go on all the rides with, but you’re afraid of what it will be like to go on roller coasters with one person for the rest of your day at the theme park, I’ll tell you what it’s like. It’s awesome. The rides are way more fun. You share common memories of each scary roller coaster and you learn how to encourage each other to keep riding in a way that is so much more valuable than the thrill of riding with a new person every time.

You have to decide what you want your day at the park to be like, but if you’re like me and you feel instinctively that you would benefit from one single special buddy, say yes. Ask, and say yes.

And so here we are, Mr. and Mrs. Light, still hand in hand in our little theme park. We’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to do and see. Walking into year two together, what should our next ride be?

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Happy anniversary my love.

You ask me if there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you,
Never my love,
Never my love.

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Dear Tinker Bell, I’m Just Not Feeling It

Last month I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon to kick off the 2014 race schedule. I pretty much had a terrible time. I mean it’s Disneyland and Neverland and family fun times so all of the elements of fun were there but when it comes to the running, I had a terrible time. Due to circumstances sort of beyond my control I got a total of 6 hours of sleep in the two nights leading up to the race. That’s 3 hours of sleep the night before a half marathon. I don’t recommend it.

I love waking up with Brad on a race day. While making coffee, Brad makes jokes about how painfully early it is and I flit around the hotel room like a demented fairy, getting nervous for the impending 13 miles ahead. But this morning I just felt tired. SO tired. Deliriously tired. It was difficult to flit around. Pixie dust meter on empty. The thing about waking up at 3:30 am to run a half marathon is that no matter what time you went to bed the night before, you’re always going to be tired. Looking at your alarm clock at 3:30 am will always make you very very sleepy. So on this particular morning I didn’t register that I was more tired than usual. I just felt a malaise. The thought that entered my head was “I’m not really feeling it.” That thought is kryptonite to someone who’s about to run a half marathon. You have to, at the very least, feel it.

We got dressed. I decked out as Smee and Brad my Crocodile (the hat for the Croc being the culprit for my staying up until midnight. Stupid Krazy Glue!)

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Stumbling out of our hotel room at approximately 4:15 we make our way to the starting line. The energy surrounding me is as per usual for a runDisney event. Electric. Thousands of runners surround me, many seemingly first time half marathoners. I’m excited. I am. A detached sort of excited. I register my detachment and try to brush it off. This is exciting! It is! Next to us I see a runner dressed as Rufio from Hook. How awesome is that?

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The coolest!

5:00 am approaches. The national anthem is sung. The singing of the national anthem usually brings a tear to my eye. This morning it does not. Fireworks ignite the air. The announcers inspire. All of the elements of a fantastic runDisney morning are there and all I can do is continue to suppress the little minion in my head repeating the mantra “I’m just not feeling it.”

Ever feel like you’re in a fog? Like you’re going through the motions of your life, surrounded by things that should make you happy yet they fall upon numbness? Like you have a front row seat to observe your life from the outside? Inside you feel, just, nothing? I’m fortunate that I’ve never been seriously or clinically depressed, but I’m told the sensation is similar. If that is in fact the case then I can tell you that running 13 miles through Disneyland at 5:00 in the morning on 3 hours of sleep is much the same as being clinically depressed. Add to the mix some guilt. Guilt for not being happy at a runDisney race (it feels like sacrilege). Guilt that I paid so much money to run an event that “I’m just not feeling.” Guilt that I coerced Brad into running the same event. Though luckily Brad looks pretty happy. Brad appears to be having a good run. Phew!

Around mile 6, about the time when I’m just wishing the whole damn thing would be over, I start to panic. Am I falling out of love with running? Am I falling out of love with Disney? Are runDisney and I going to have to break up??? No!! Sheer panic. Why do I feel so terrible? Why isn’t Tinker Bell making me happy? What is this malaise? Why am I not feeling it? I still had not put 2 and 2 together that 3 hours of sleep the night before miiiiight contribute to my lack of excitement.

Brad runs with gusto. He is, as I said, having a great race and clips along at a good pace. I can’t hold him back in my fog. He takes off around mile 9 and continues on to have a fantastic final 4 miles. I just try to make it through.

There is one characteristic emotion of mine that can’t seem to be anesthetized, no matter my state of exhaustion or malaise, and that is my lovely stubbornness. Even though I’m tired and struggling and should really just take it easy if I ever want to enjoy running again, for some reason I decide that I want to finish in under 3 hours. I push it hard the last few miles to ensure that will happen and I cross the finish line feeling, for the first time, pretty damn good. What I soon discover is that since I hadn’t really been feeling anything the entire race, not excitement or joy or determination, I mistook these final emotions (extreme pain) as “pretty damn good.” I suppose I was just relieved to be feeling anything. Since a popular runner’s motto is “my sport is your sport’s punishment” let’s just say it’s not uncommon for a runner to mistake pain for pleasure.

I cross the finish line, find Brad, take our picture, get some water, and feel relieved the race is done. About 10 minutes later I feel everything a runner dreads. Nausea, extreme exhaustion, dizziness, chills, irritability. Damnit. My stubbornness caught up with me. Lactic acid comes rushing in.

Somehow I make it through to the other side of this episode. We find Mom and Dennis and head to Denny’s for breakfast. The thought of food makes me feel like I want to die whilst vomiting, but Mom insists that it will make me feel better. I suspect she’s right so I go with them to Denny’s even though all I really want to do is collapse. Mom orders me a chocolate milkshake and you know what, it was like magic. That magic guilt-free chocolate milkshake I downed at 8:00 in the morning perked me up and settled my tummy. Ice Cream really is the answer to everything. Best chocolate milkshake ever.

After breakfast we walk back to the hotel for a much needed nap, and now that my brain feels a bit more attached to my head I can start to think clearly again. I start to ask questions. Why does this happen to me? Why is it that sometimes I have a great race and sometimes I feel like shit? It can’t just be training. I’m actually pretty well trained for this race. Why does lactic acid seem to attack me only on some runs, and takes pity on me others?

By this point I’d gotten smart and realized that sleep deprivation no doubt played a major role in my malaise. After the milkshake cleared my head I had a light bulb moment and said “Ooohhh. THAT’S why I wasn’t feeling it.” Amazing it took me that long to figure out. I took this as a comfort, knowing that it’s something I can control. Next time I’ll just get more sleep. But this lactic acid question lingered and bothered me. I don’t feel as though I have control over its presence in my running. It seems to rear its ugly head when it wants to, other times a sleeping dragon. After our nap I set out to do some research on this evil foe. I want to understand how lactic acid really works in the body. Why in the world does our body produce anything that would make us feel so terrible right at the time when we need our body to work FOR us, not against us? The answers I found astounded me.

I discovered that lactic acid is actually meant to work for you, you just have to know how to use it. Mind blown. Suddenly I feel like if I can understand this villain of mine, perhaps we can be allies. It’s just as Honest Abe Lincoln once said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Lactic acid and I are about to become bffs.

I’ll impart my research on lactic acid at a later date. Before you roll your eyes, I promise that it’s interesting! I’ve got more studying to do however before I can write a worthy article. As far as Tinker Bell Half Marathon 2014 goes, I found myself in a foggy runner’s malaise and turned it into a teachable moment. And that’s why I run. Because although I briefly panicked that running and I were falling out of love, the great thing about a healthy relationship is that you can always work it out. Running and I, we’re working it out. We’re learning about each other.

Sunday afternoon I went for a breathtaking 5 mile run on the beach. I pushed myself. I philosophized. I worked through some mental cobwebs that had been bugging me. I felt centered. I felt grateful for my feet.

Running and I. We’re rekindling the flame.

Happy moments on the course

Happy moments on the course. A couple of people thought Brad was a dinosaur or an alien shark. This amused me.

If 14,000 excited runners can't get you in the mood, you're in for a long run.

If 14,000 excited runners can’t get you in the mood, you’re in for a long run.

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a long walk run on the beach is just the ticket for rekindling the romance

Happy Places

I recently had a revelation while pondering what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve spent countless hours pondering that question when in fact I believe the answer has been staring me in the face.

Do you have places in the world that you would describe as your happy places? I do. And I don’t mean a metaphorical happy place wherein you imagine yourself surrounded by bluebirds as a warm light washes over you. No. I mean a real, tangible, physical, happy place. Places you go where, no matter what, you feel instant glee. Not just cool places. Not just places you enjoy or find fun or pleasant. Places that have something special. Places with a magical power to transplant you from the dullest of dolddrums to the utmost place of hope and contentment. I have some.

Libraries/Book stores

Sports supplies stores (especially running stores)

Craft and art supplies stores (Michael’s, Utrecht, even Home Depot fits into this category. Places where you can get stuff to build other stuff)

Disneyland

Museums/Observatories

The woods

Office supplies stores

The ocean

On my couch with my fiance and my cats

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I would say that pretty much covers my happy places. I could get more specific (The Griffith Observatory, The American Museum of Natural History, Northern California redwoods, etc.), but these are the main categories. Kind of a weird hodge-podge wouldn’t you say? I’m kind of weird.

As I’ve been mulling over what I should do with the rest of my life, I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that my happy places might be providing me with an answer.

How did I come to this realization? I thought about the things I’m currently doing that I don’t make a living off of, but that I love doing, and I realized there is potential to make a living off of them if I put my mind to it. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I write this blog. I run. I go to Disneyland (ok so maybe there’s not potential to make a living off of going to Disneyland but I have a point, which I’ll get to shortly). A light bulb went off as I realized that these things directly correlated to my top happy places.

  1. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I’m instantly happy in art and/or craft supplies stores a la Utrecht or Michael’s.
  2. I write. I write this blog and I write stories. I’m instantly happy in a book store or library.
  3. I run. I’m instantly happy in a running store and on the running trail. My blog is also a running blog so 2 and 3 tie in together.

I’m creating, writing, running; but I’m not currently making a living off of any of these things. I could though. I could invest more time and energy into Whimsy Do. I could actually get my stories published. I could turn this blog into a source of income with the right strategy and determination. And here is how Disneyland ties in. Disneyland Half Marathon weekend is one of my ultimate happy places (and training starts this week!). I could work for runDisney. Running and Disneyland, two happy places combined. If runDisney ever starts up a California office, I’m there. I could, and I should, and I would. Somehow.

I know what you’re thinking. If you make what you love your job, you run the risk of not loving it as much. You might ruin it. What a sad thought. Think about what that means for a moment. That means we are not only willing to, but deliberately choose to do things we dislike for the majority of our waking lives (8+ hrs of every day!) because we’ve somehow bought into the notion that work = something to be tolerated. I say we change that presumption. I say it’s time for a paradigm shift. It’s time we spend the majority of our lives doing things that feel right in our bones. That feel meaningful and make us, yes, happy. And will we feel happy all of the time? Of course not. Will it sometimes feel like work, even though we supposedly love it? Of course. Anything worth doing is hard. Marriage, parenthood, career aspirations. All challenging. All worth it. Because there is meaning in the challenge. You think it’s easy to climb Mt. Everest? I guarantee you the people who do it aren’t doing it for the paycheck. Passion is hard, but there is a payoff that directly feeds into our core, our selfness, our most precious part of ourselves that generates love and spirit and hope and life. It’s the right kind of hard work. Most of us spend our lives doing the wrong kind of work. The kind that makes us stare at the clock until 5:00. The kind that makes us steal as many Facebook minutes as possible throughout the day. Anything to distract us from that paperwork, right? The kind that makes us live for the weekend. As if two days make up for the other lost 5.

So idealistic right? I know. It’s easy to talk about. It’s hard to do. There are bills. There are mortgages. There are children to send to college. There are debts to pay off. I hear ya. I’m in a version of that boat myself. But it doesn’t stop me from believing that it’s possible. It must be possible to honor our fiscal responsibilities while the work we do gives our life meaning. We just spend too much of our lives at work for that not to be possible. 33.33% of my life is spent sleeping, 33.33% of my life is spent working, and 33.33% of my life is mine to do with as I please. That tiny third also has to include laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill pay, errands, etc. It’s not enough. Life is too precious. I want more than a third of it with which to make a difference. I want more than a third of it with which to accomplish something magical and more importantly something meaningful. I want to love and not to regret more than a third of my life. I know it’s possible. Because I feel it happening. 4 years ago I left an office job I didn’t like and I turned my back on the restaurant business because they were sucking my soul. I took a leap of faith, and a week later I got a call to work for a non-profit that is changing lives. I have a great job. I don’t love it every day, and I don’t believe it’s where I’m meant to end up, but my days aren’t wasted. I’m grateful for that. And because I took that leap, the next stepping stones are becoming clearer and clearer.

If you’re lost, floating, drifting, unsure of what move to make next, first of all you’re not alone. Maybe think about a happy place. They really are quite neat. As if the universe gave them to us, as to whisper in our ear “This. Do more of this. You were born to do this.”

I’m genuinely curious. What are your happy places? Universities? Science labs? Boardrooms? Churches? Kitchens? Let Tahiti readers know by leaving your happy place in the comments below. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else!

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

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On our beach. Happy.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

Michael's (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Michael’s (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can't you tell by our faces? Happy places.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can’t you tell by our faces? Happy places.

A Friday night with my boys. Completely perfect happy place.

A Friday night with my guys. Completely perfect happy place. Although Sharky doesn’t look too happy 🙂

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that's going to be one helluva happy place.

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that’s going to be one helluva happy place.