“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
I just finished reading cold tangerines by Shauna Niequist and, let me tell you, this book is an inspiration. I loved every word of it and her message seemed to fit flawlessly into my life. Let’s see if I can make these connections clear to you.
This past weekend I celebrated my twentieth birthday and it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had.
On Friday, I went out to dinner with some of my best friends at this teeny tiny pizza place that has the BEST pizza in town. Everyone knows that going there on a Friday is a crazy idea because they know it will be packed to the brim and the waiting list will be at least an hour-long. But they do it anyways. Every Friday and Saturday and probably Monday night too. Because the pizza is just that good.
We said yes to a table outside even though the forecast suggested a forty percent chance of rain. And we stayed calm and put up our hoods when a few drops of cool rain fell on our hot, cheesy pizza.
Then we walked down the street and waited in a long, twisty line for home-made ice ream even though we were already cold and our teeth were chattering. Mint chip with a brownie on the bottom babay.
We raced home to eat our creamy treats in our little kitchen, and eventually the small party cleared out and went their separate ways.
I wandered into the living room to find Tessa and Kathleen having a pillow fight in the living room with more energy and aggression then a pair of five-year old boys who ate ten ring pops and three gallons of Mountain Dew. This is typical.
So I wandred into Shelbi’s room with the intent to talk for five minutes or so and say goodnight. But, oop,s we spent the next hour chatting and laughing about
boys life, and then holy moly! It was 11:30 PM.
Shelbi: “Can I paint your nails??”
Me: “Uhm…It’s 11:30….yeah sure!”
When the clock struck midnight those crazies by the name of Tessa and Kathleen come thundering down the hall screaming, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!
And so they joined us and we chatted some more about
our menstrual cycles life.
When I went to bed on Friday night, it felt like my birthday was over. I drifted asleep while the smiles and laughter that I shared with my sorority sisters lingered in my heart.
I woke up on May 4, 2013 and all I really wanted to do was go to an Oula dance class and shake it. Because that is still (and quite possibly will always be) one of my absolute favorite way to spend an hour.
So I did! And I loved every second of it. Every woman (and one man, holla!) in the room was smiling their biggest smile. And booties of all sizes and colors were shaking it to Justin Bieber at 10:30 AM on a Saturday morning like there was no tomorrow.
Later in the day, my family and my brother from another mother, Kyle, rolled into Missoula. We kicked off the afternoon by helping a girl put her tires back on her car and then wandered around downtown Missoula in the windy, Spring air. My mom and I pursued the little boutiques while the men hit up second-hand stores and a sports bar.
After our adventures, we decided to take a break before meeting up for a late dinner down town. When I got home my hair was wind-blown, my feet were tired and I was considering a quick nap. Then Shelbi asked me to go to a fund-raising banquet. Let’s be honest, I didn’t really want to go but she ended up convincing me and I’m sure glad she did.
The banquet was at a beautiful house with big white pillars that made you feel like you were in the deep South. Once I got inside I tried to fit in and act sophisticated. But shoot, it was hard work balancing a wine glasses of fruit punch on your hip while snacking on Nepalese appetizers and chit chatting. How do people manage all these activities at once, honestly? I think I had crumbs on my face the whole time and I know I spilled white bean dip on my new white birthday tank. #class.
After the banquet I went to an Irish Pub with my family where I had a delicious meal of coconut curry tofu. The bar was soo crowded and loud because there were live bands playing really great music. We stayed until we felt like we might fall asleep at the table. And that brings us to today. This morning I played tennis with my bro, Kyle and Shelbi. We all broke tennis etiquette rules, laughed way to loud in the middle of points and had a great time!
So there you have it. That is a very detailed account of my weekend. And if I remember correctly, I started this post off by telling you about the book I just finished, no?
Well I promise these two events are connected.
Cold Tangerines is a book about “celebrating the extraordinary nature of every day life.”
And maybe you don’t see the extraordinary in my little birthday weekend but I do.
For me, the extraordinary was eating pizza outside with my best friends. It was saying no to going to sleep at a reasonable hour and saying yes to getting a manicure at a very inconvenient hour. It was laying my head in Kathleen’s lap while she played with my hair and us girls chit chatted into hours that are so far past my granny bed time.
It was laughing so hard at my mom mistaking the name of the Global grizzlies club for Global Grannies. And busting a gut on the tennis court when Kyle winded up to do a killer serve but instead popped up a floater with an underhand stroke. And, of course, the Oula class.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes when I’m dancing the morning away in Oula class, I get this thought in my head that says, “Who the heck do we think we are?’
Who are we to turn up Super Bass by Nicki Minaj so loud that anyone within twenty feet of the building is forced to jam out too?
Who are we to be shakin’ our groove things and smiling fools in the middle of broad daylight?
Sometimes Oula dance class seems silly because it’s like who are we to be so happy? And why are we engaging in this crazy nonsense when we could be doing more productive things like folding the laundry or finishing our projects for finals week?
And books like Cold Tangerines remind me that I don’t care if it is silly to drop it like it’s hot on a Monday morning. If the music is playing, I’m gonna dance.
Why shouldn’t we dance?
Why can’t we dance today? Right now?
And why can’t it be you who has the biggest smile on your face and is loving every minute of her day with no fears or worries?
This book inspires me to live life with the same intense, happy, vibrant energy that I exert in dance class.
It inspires me to say yes to those little moments that make my heart smile for hours after they are over because those moments make life worth loving.
I wanted to write that quote from the back of the book on my blog because I want those words to sink deep into my skin and my mind and my soul. I believe in Shauna’s vision of life as a celebration and a gift that is just waiting to be taken advantage of.
But I know that it can be easy to forget because it’s also true that there are parts of life we don’t feel like celebrating. We are all going to get old and wrinkly, the dirty dishes do pile up, and sometimes people do really evil things like setting off bombs at marathons.
And it’s easier to focus on what is tiresome and crappy because it seems like that’s what everyone else is doing. Maybe sometimes it seems like that’s what we have to do.
It takes a rebel to focus on the joy in life and to smile and to dance. But that’s the life that I want to live.
And I guess that my prayer tonight is that God would always open my eyes to the little diamonds scattered throughout every day life because they are there. He has blessed us with so much but it’s up to us to open our eyes, to open the curtains and let the sunshine in and to dance instead of sitting out.
God has given me the gift of life. And I want to get up, get out and live it with passion and gratitude.
If y’all liked reading this then get yourself a hot copy of Cold Tangerines ASAP because Shauna says it all a lot better than I! And maybe start reading it early so you don’t stay up past your bedtime like I am now hehe.