Flicker

I’ve always been an early riser. Not a 6AM early riser, or even a 5:30AM early riser — I’m a 4AM kind of girl. Maybe I’m a masochist, but really I just have a love affair with early mornings; each is reminiscent of my favorite Robert Frost poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay. I’m in love with the crispness of the air, the faint rustle of leaves as they eagerly await their brief chance to be golden with the rise of the sun. I feel peace on the empty roads and abandoned beaches, as the vestiges of natural landscape glimmer with whispering critters, most of which I long to cuddle and have as pets. I’m in love with early mornings because they’re not insistent; they don’t demand that I accomplish tasks, solve problems or make plans. Early mornings don’t expect me to look presentable, speak logically or even act accordingly. Early mornings allow me to just be. I’m in love with early mornings because they bring me as close as I’ll ever be to experiencing the world before life was so…busy, so crowded, so hurried and so complicated.

Early mornings offer me the opportunity to witness what I would otherwise overlook in the post-morning bustle. Like this morning; I saw a flickering street light — not the usual flicker of a bulb making its final stand before eternally burning out. This was a flickering that appeared as a deliberate, even strategic, dimming and brightening. As I drove by, I glanced in my rearview mirror, only to see it resume its ordinary glow alongside its streetlight companions. To anybody else this might have  been something explained away by the nuances of modern electricity. To me, however, it was a wink, a wave…a nod from beyond.

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a skeptic when it comes to just about everything. I have a hard time believing in anything I can’t see, anything that hasn’t met my burden of proof, and anything that isn’t justifiably explained in a textbook from a highly verifiable source. With that being said…I see Hawks. Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, seahawks, Red-shouldered Hawks. Hawks. Everywhere. Hawks on lampposts, Hawks adorning trees, Hawks circling overhead, and Hawks seeming to barrel  directly at me. This is a daily occurrence. The skeptic in me sometimes wonders if I just have a keen eye for spotting them, habituated by years of my dad’s conditioning. Other times, the Hawks are undeniably there for me. A Hawk will screech and swoop ceaselessly until I acknowledge it, speak to it — then it will appear to vanish. And just like the flickering streetlight, I know it’s my dad. I just know it.
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Admittedly, instead of being comforted by these visits, I mostly feel frustrated and anxious; “I SEE YOU! I HEAR YOU! WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME?!”
Recently, after again being accosted by a Hawk, I told my frustrations to my friend, Elyse. Without hesitation she said “maybe your dad is just trying to let you know he’s with you.”
Aha. How could something so simple (and seemingly, so obvious) have escaped me?
I had been so fearful and worried that he’s been here to warn me, it had never crossed my anxiety-ridden, skeptical mind that, of course, he’s here to love and comfort me, he’s here to watch over me, he’s here to swoop, screech, flicker, glow and to light my path. Most importantly, my dad is “here”, so simply and so beautifully, to remind me that he’s here.
And even when the Hawk flies away, the flickering streetlight returns to uninterrupted illumination, and morning gives way to day — my dad will still be here. And though Nothing Gold Can Stay, I know now that my dad’s love and presence will forever remain.

Nothing Gold Can Stay   {Robert Frost, 1923}

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

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We are the Phoenix

In Greek mythology, the legend of the Phoenix tells of a bird that is cyclically destroyed by fire, only to be born again, more powerful and vibrant than before.  As wildfires burn violently in the hills, valleys, riverbeds and neighborhoods of San Diego, I envision the silhouette of the Phoenix, rising above the ash and ember, as a beacon of hope. We are the Phoenix.

We are the Phoenix, not only in that we will undoubtedly emerge from this fiery tribulation, but also in that we will emerge with a renewed sense of hope, gratitude, love, understanding, and strength. We are the Phoenix in that each time we go up in flames, amidst the sadness, terror, and ruin — together we are reborn.

Although the fires continue to burn, the Phoenix has already begun to rise from the flames. The Phoenix rises as dauntless emergency crews give themselves to protect and serve our community. The Phoenix rises as volunteers, journalists and local leaders ceaselessly and strategically advise and inform. The Phoenix rises as neighbors offer aid to neighbors. The Phoenix rises as friends and strangers alike open their hearts and homes. The Phoenix rises as animals are fostered and pets are reunited with their families. The Phoenix rises as parents hug their children a little tighter. The Phoenix rises as loved ones take an extra moment to say “I love you” before hanging up the phone. The Phoenix rises with each prayer and kind thought sent from across town, across the nation and across the world. The Phoenix rises as we give thanks for one another. And if you look closely, you can see the Phoenix rising at this very moment.

The Phoenix is an emblem of hope, endurance and revival. We are the Phoenix, ascending from the smoldering remains of catastrophe to regenerate — now stronger, wiser, more grateful, and more magnificent than ever before.

We are the Phoenix — and we will rise.

 

xoxo

Hannah Jane 

Photo Credit: K.C. Alfred Photography - San Diego

Photo Credit: K.C. Alfred Photography – San Diego

The Struggle

I’ve had two great struggles in my life; The first was growing up feeling “un-beautiful”. From elementary school through college I struggled with my weight — I’d even go as far as to say I was the fat girl. I also had acne early on and it’s something I battle to this day. I don’t have to tell you that girls are mean —– and I admit, until recently, I was no exception. Girls are especially cruel to one another, which can make high school a brutal time for anyone,  but I know it’s particularly brutal for a girl who’s ashamed of her body. I’ve worked hard to shed 60+ pounds since college and have outgrown the worst of my teenage skin troubles, but weight and self-esteem issues will always be part of my journey.

When I lost the weight I felt like I had won my battle, overcome my odds, passed my test. At 22, I felt like my struggle was finally over. But then it happened…my second great struggle came along and made me dream of days when weight was utmost concern. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and the struggle became more real and more terrifying than I ever knew possible.

Since my dad passed, the struggle hasn’t even begun to fade, but from here I can see the good in the struggle. From here, I can see the struggle has given me a sense of purpose. Watching my dad’s vibrant life slip away gave me an appreciation for the short time we are given.

The struggle has enlightened me and encouraged me to pursue what is new, exciting and even downright terrifying. This year has already been incredible! I was a keynote speaker at San Diego Women’s Week, ran my very first half marathon and had the privilege of mentoring a teen girl. This year I’ll also climb Mt. Whitney, and rappel a skyscraper to raise money for cancer research. All of this is far beyond my comfort zone, but I’ve found that outside of my comfort zone is where the struggle is —  and that’s where I flourish.

While I’m not doing this for my dad, I am doing this because of him. My dad taught me to embrace the struggle — and losing him is has been the greatest struggle I’ve ever known.

Above all, I’m doing this for girls of all ages who have struggled and who are struggling. I’m doing this for those that have struggled financially, physically, emotionally or spiritually. I’m doing this for who have lost someone they love; For those who struggle to pay the bills or lose the weight. I’m doing this for those who have felt rejection and loneliness. I’m doing this for all of us who just want to feel happy and beautiful in our own skin. I’m living outside my comfort zone to help all girls realize that beauty comes from the struggle.

The struggle strengthens us for the journey. The struggle makes us powerful, brave and bold. The struggle is what gives us purpose.

xoxo

Hannah Jane

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?”

-Rumi

Hannah Jane Nancarrow

Rejoice!

“If I could tell the world just one thing it would be —  we’re all okay,

And not to worry, ’cause worry is wasteful and useless in times like these.

I won’t be made useless.

I won’t be idle with despair.

I will gather myself around my faith,

For light does the darkness most fear.”

You know those days that you awaken to a sharp pain, an awful wrenching in your stomach, a sudden realization that, today, something is barring you from your happiness?  Sometimes the discomfort is physical. Other times it’s emotional or spiritual. Sometimes it’s worry, sometimes grief or loss or injury. It’s those days that make you want to stay in bed, to hide away from the existing pain and protect yourself from the plethora of other things that threaten to steal your joy — and it’s those days that it’s more important than ever to rise and rejoice.

In the past 10 months, I’ve had A LOT of those days. I’ve had a lot of moments where continuing on seems too painful and too difficult to even fathom. It starts each morning as my alarm goes off and I have about 6-8 seconds before I remember. I remember how cold it is outside. I remember that I’ve been out of work for months. I remember that my puppy chewed the inside of my car. I remember that I have a huge zit on my face. I remember that my pants are too tight. I remember that my boyfriend is now my ex. I remember that I still haven’t done my laundry. I remember that I had “one too many” the night before. I remember that I have a ton of sh*t to do. And I remember that my dad has terminal cancer.

Well…there goes my day. It’s funny how the weight of the world can do that…make you forget the things that bring you joy by reminding you of the things that make life tough. But throughout all this, it has become increasingly clear that it’s joy that is the antidote for all of that tough stuff, and life can be so made so much more wonderful by simply reframing your mindset and rejoicing in all of the things that make life…life.

So, here it goes…

I rejoice in sweatshirts and heaters and relatively warm San Diego winters! I rejoice in all my extra free time that has allowed me so many special days with my dad! I rejoice in owning a car…and a puppy…and a new menagerie of chew toys! I rejoice in knowing that most acne isn’t life-threatening! I rejoice in stretchy pants (and I’m literally rejoicing while wearing them at this very moment)! I rejoice in having experienced romance and love! I rejoice in laundromats! I rejoice in tequila…and Advil! I rejoice in being alive to do all that sh*t I have to do! And most of all, I rejoice in the love and warmth and knowledge (and awesome genes) bestowed upon me by my incredible dad.

Suddenly, I’m able to rise up out of my bed (and I totally rejoice in having a bed), excited for a day chock-full of both the good and the bad — throughout all of which I can find reasons to rejoice.

XOXO

Hannah

“Rejoice! Rejoice!

We have no choice but to carry on.”

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The Good Stuff

Life can be rough. We sit in traffic, get ingrown hairs, stuffy noses, wrinkles and parking tickets. We step in dog poop, chewed gum and muddy puddles. We track it into the car and through the house. We breakdown, stress out and mess up. {Sh}it happens. But I’m tired of focusing on the sad stuff, the bad stuff and the downright crappy stuff. I want to pay tribute to the stuff that makes us smile, the stuff that makes us grateful, the stuff that makes us LAUGH. Here’s to the good stuff…

Here’s to nitrous at the dentist, ‘that’s what she said’ punchlines and arriving on time. To Facebook birthday wishes, A/C on a hot day and freshly shaved…legs. To brand new love, lifelong love, following the rules and breaking the rules shortly thereafter. To horoscopes, cold beer and authentic Mexican food. To inspirational quotes, rediscovered gift cards and fresh, clean sheets. To thongs…both kinds. To productive Saturdays, lazy Sundays and actually completing a Pinterest project. To good neighbors, easygoing landlords and a roof over your head. To inebriation and sobriety. To public libraries, laundromats and people watching. To sugar highs, carbohydrates and raw, organic food. To televised sports, higher education, dogs that look like their owners and family around the dinner table.

Here’s to community pools, the sound of children’s laughter and taking pictures. To waking up naturally, your favorite coffee mug and your morning pee. To green lights, a good sneeze and popping bubble wrap. To low tide, a great fortune in a cookie and home videos. To good hair days, witty banter and happy hours. To full tanks of gas, old CDs and road trips. To ripe bananas, the first beads of sweat during a workout and perfect playlists. To that cop who finally passes you, after driving behind you for what seems like forever. To sand dollars, rainbows and shooting stars.

Here’s to mermaids, palm trees and the smell of sunscreen. To hiking, driving and cuddling on the couch. To the carpool lane and clean underwear, co-ed softball leagues and bikes. To seat belts, sunshine and windows rolled down. To the snooze button, hugs, good news and free samples. To fully charged batteries, sticky notes and email. To animal videos on YouTube, tasteful tattoos…and not-so-tasteful tattoos. To the sound of waves crashing on the shore, warm sand between your toes, salty skin and the first few seconds of a hot shower. To greetings from a friendly dog, wind chimes, foreign accents and kids’ perspectives on life. To free time, concerts, ball games and the smell of a BBQ. To Wi-Fi, sweat pants and the taste of food after you’ve rolled one up. To farmer’s markets, purring cats and the ocean. To spontaneous kisses, holding hands and date nights.

Here’s to sweet text messages, friends you know outside of Facebook and weekend plans so exciting, they get you through the week. To 18 holes of golf, a home cooked meal and feeling that good-kind-of-sore. To cell phones, front row parking, online dating and paychecks. To the Eagles, Tom Petty and Bob Marley. To Patsy Cline, Stevie Nicks and Beyonce. To blue jeans, bidets and Netflix. To the smell of rain, modern medicine, finding the remote in the first place you look and coffee of any kind. To back cracking, Chapstick and Craigslist. To a fresh coat of nail polish, the sound a vacuum makes when it catches something and the day after laundry day. To gardening, wildlife and California. To the good ‘ol U.S.A.

Here’s to sunrises, sunsets and every breath between. Here’s to the good stuff.

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No Mud, No Lotus

I got an overdraft notice from the bank this morning, accompanying a $35 fee and bounced rent check. I washed all my black clothes—in bleach. I dropped my iPhone and stared helplessly as it shattered on the ground. My cat pooped in the kitchen sink. I repeat: he pooped in the kitchen sink. I’m breaking out in a way I can only imagine will leave me looking like “Craterface” from Grease. I spent $50 on a tanning membership the day before my brother found skin cancer on his toe. I crashed my car on the way to the hospital—where my dad was having emergency brain surgery related to his terminal cancer diagnosis. And I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

I’ve heard that life is a journey, to enjoy the ride. I’ve been reminded to count my blessings, to be thankful for what I have and to live each day as my last. But in reality—only when sh*t hits the fan are things truly forced into perspective. And I’m learning that it’s not such a bad thing.

I won’t always be po’ (not poor…po’). And even if I am, at least I’ll be po’ while doing what I love. It’s summer in sunny San Diego and time to trade my black clothes for some color anyway. My iPhone still functions. In the battle between bleach and cat poop — bleach wins every time. Acne treatments have made leaps and bounds in recent years. Graham’s melanoma was successfully removed and he’s now a sunscreen poster boy/skin cancer awareness activist. My mom loaned me her much nicer car until I get the Prius back from the body shop. And my dad—-he’s a warrior. He’s a gardener, journalist, activist and road trippin’ son of a gun . He’s a lotus.

There’s a Buddhist saying: No mud, no lotus. Lotus flowers grow in muddy, swampy water. Still, they bloom above their murky conditions unscathed and incredibly beautiful.

We are all lotus flowers.

xoxo

Hannah

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Spinning as a metaphor for life

I love Spinning. Not the kind of spinning you may have experienced in college, lying on the bathroom floor, bargaining with a higher power to see you through. Rather, the kind of Spinning where you ride a bike…that doesn’t move…indoors.

Some Spin instructors are better qualified to kick your butt than others, but I have two favorites in particular: one is an ever-positive, girl power, cheerleader type that uses her microphone headset for good—making a point to encourage everyone putting forth any kind of effort whatsoever. The other is…well…militant—the kind of instructor I feel a Stockholm syndrome type love for. One who has beaten me into submission and given me the gift of steel buns. What I love most about her class is that it’s a reflection of life: hard as hell yet there’s a certain ecstasy to being part of it.

This endearing Spin sadist is always chanting “THIS IS NOT A BREAK! THIS IS ACTIVE RECOVERY!” Like her Spin class, life doesn’t offer breaks; it doesn’t allow you the luxury of stopping to rest your weary body. Life only allows for active recovery…if you’re lucky.

And, similar to life, each day in Spin finds me in a different condition. Some days (although never often enough) I feel invincible. My endurance is seemingly limitless and I possess the energy to vanquish any and all hypothetical hills that inevitably lie ahead. Other days find me struggling for breath, suffering with every pedal stroke, sweating like an animal and feeling like Andre the Giant and his equally behemoth-esque girlfriend have affixed themselves to each of my feet. Sometimes we go fast with little resistance to slow our pace. Sometimes the resistance is devastating and we must delve deep within for the strength to power through. But we do. No matter how daunting the climb, how heavy the load—we always keep moving.

Rock Bottom

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
— J.K. Rowling

Rock bottom. It means something different to everyone. For me, rock bottom was at the very top of the scale. It was the plus size section at Nordstrom. It was the Mcdonalds drive-thru window. It was constant headaches. It was the untagged pictures on Facebook. To me, rock bottom was 215 pounds.

Now, two years and 75 pounds later, rock bottom exists only in old photos and a pile of size 14 clothes waiting to be donated. Rock bottom isn’t shameful or embarrassing. Rock bottom is motivating, empowering and the strongest foundation of all.

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May 2010 (Above), May 2012 (Below)

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xoxo

hjn