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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Even Pest Control

I always expected to miss my Dad. I expected to miss his “dad jokes” and his subsequent full-bellied laughs. I expected to miss seeing his name pop up on my phone and hearing his voice on the other end. I expected to miss his gourmet cooking and the contented look he got as he sang along to Bob Dylan. I expected to miss how I felt when he’d put his arms around me, kiss my head and whisper “I love you, Kiddo.” And I really expected to miss his incomparable way with words, paired with his hearty, rhythmic voice. Somehow, amid all my other expectations, there are some things I never expected to miss; things like…pest control. Yes, I really miss my Dad’s ability to control pests.

This new way of missing my dad came to me just as I drifted off to sleep last night. I heard a faint, but unmistakeable, high-pitched buzzing. I flipped on the lights and set out on an extremely serious 30-minute mission to find the perpetrating mosquito — but my efforts were in vain. When I’d finally fallen back to sleep, I was more than a little annoyed to hear scratching and gnawing from every pet within in 10-foot radius (which was approximately 6 pets). Again, lights on, in fully-agitated-inspection-mode. FLEAS. Visible, numerous, hateful hoards of fleas. So, naturally, I began an immediate round of militant-style flea baths. 90-minutes and a mild-to-moderate case of scoliosis later, the sun was just peaking up in the East and I instinctively went to the kitchen to make some coffee. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I began to tear up a little when I saw a small army of ants marching single-file along the kitchen counter.

At the very moment I began making drastic considerations (such as shaving each pet bald and burning the house to the ground…just to name a few), a familiar, colorful paper-back book caught my attention. There it was. As if it was a sign from above, my dad’s book — Dead Snails Leave No Trails.

I opened it up. Page 63: Mosquitoes. Page 82: Fleas. Page 10: Ants. And just like that — problems solved.

I miss my dad. I miss him for who he was. I miss him for what he did  — and I certainly miss him for how he did it. In fact, each day I find new ways to miss him. But, just as he did in life, my dad continues to teach me how to solve all of life’s problems, both big and (in this case) very very small.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is…here are some helpful organic remedies from the late, great Loren Nancarrow, a man who sure knew a lot about a lot — yes, even pest control.

xoxo

hjn

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Loren Nancarrow Fleas Remedy from 10News

From a Father to His Daughter

An array of e-mails, a smorgasbord of commercials on every TV channel and radio station, a plethora of fancy cards and decorative balloons haunting each checkout line at the grocery store — all reminding me of a day I could never forget: Father’s Day.

I’d usually spend a full hour picking the perfect card, and several more hours hand-selecting songs for my annual Father’s Day CD (which he always kept in the CD changer of his car for the entire year or more). This year will be different. It will be my first Father’s Day without my dad — and it aches more than I anticipated.

Feeling nostalgic and a little lost in all the Father’s Day bustle, I thumbed through some old photo albums and boxes of keepsakes. Then I found it, tucked in the back of an old shoebox. A note from a father to his daughter, handwritten on a scrap envelope addressed to weathercaster. It was from my dad — and it was written for me.

“Boy is that a pretty purse. It’s packed so full. What did you bring today? Lipstick, blanket & the dress of a princess. The objects so important to a young lady. Lipstick for the confidence that comes with presentation — looking your best helps you do your best. A blanket for warmth & security — so necessary to feel your feet adorned on this planet. When you wrap yourself in its grip — think of mom & dad’s arms holding you, laughing with you, loving you for the wonderful force you are.

Oh that dress… when you slip it on, your dreams play panovision in your head. That knight on a horse like Picasso — the vision of what you will become, an artist, a thinker, a leader, a strong individual as loving and trustful as we all wish we could be.

It’s only been 3 years since you were that squishy faced little mystery that so puzzled mom & me. You’ve always made me wonder. Who are you? How’d you get so special? How’d I get this far without you & most of all, will you always make me feel as important as you make me feel today?”

His note made me wonder —  how’d I get this far without him?

I think I will put together that Father’s Day playlist (with all of his favorites, like Petty and Dylan and the Stones) — and I’ll turn it up as loud as it will go, so I know for sure, that he can hear it all the way up there.

xoxo

Hannah

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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 Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden

Hi Friends and Family,

Please join us in our support of a rooftop healing garden at the Scripps Radiation Treatment Center. With your help, we’ll be able to raise enough funds to name the garden “The Loren Nancarrow Healing Garden” and ensure a space for cancer patients and their families to find peace for years to come.

Thank you so much for your unwavering support, we are so very lucky to have each and every one of you in our lives.

XOXO

Hannah

Please click here for more information:

https://scrippshf.ejoinme.org/?tabid=504643

Ode to Discomfort

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m in love with being comfortable — almost to a fault. Yoga pants, any kind of carb, a year-round space heater, a big comfy couch and did I mention yoga pants? I guess I could be compared to a Hobbit in the Shire. Why leave my comfort zone when it’s just so….comfy? (And the alternative is just so…not).

Well, (despite all my best efforts ) I’ve been uncomfortable a lot lately; training for the California 10/20 Run and learning the ins-and-outs of cancer care, while trying still to navigate my own life’s plan. But while spending all this time away from my comfort zone, I’m starting to understand what discomfort really means.

I’ve learned that discomfort is both voluntary and involuntary. It’s mental, emotional and physical. Discomfort is sickness and health. Discomfort is fear, sadness and uncertainty. It’s shock, surprise and anticipation. Discomfort is failure and success.

I’ve actually begun to sort of enjoy all this discomfort (not in like a masochistic, chains and whips sort of way). It’s just, I now understand that discomfort is fleeting — but it’s effects are lasting. Discomfort builds strength and power. Discomfort is a teacher, a guide. Discomfort breeds warriors, survivors and heroes. Discomfort is a challenge and it’s a life lesson. Discomfort is a mentor, a coach and a trainer preparing me for the road ahead — because greatness is not achieved by being comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always love being comfy.  In fact, discomfort has actually deepened my love affair with comfort. By feeling uncomfortable, I’m expanding my comfort zone (adding acreage to my Shire, so to speak) and giving myself the gift of contentment under any circumstance.

So, while I’m counting out cancer meds or running my way up a big ol’ hill, I know I’m in training. I know my discomfort is coaching me along as I build the strength and endurance to take on all the tough stuff that lies ahead.

So, here’s to you, discomfort. I owe all my comfort to you.

(And a special shout out to yoga pants — I couldn’t do it without you.)

xoxo

hjn

Discomfort is very much part of my master plan.

— Jonathan Lethem

Billy Joel

My dad and I have always shared similar opinions on just about everything. We love the same Billy Joel songs. We like to eat at the same restaurants. We‘re intrigued by the same journalists and inspired by the same writers. We share a love of music and a lack of rhythm. And we laugh at the same bizarre jokes. We’ve even come to an agreement that there are two types of people in the world: people who like Family Guy (him) and people who like South Park (me). So even when we disagree, we somehow manage to still agree.

Lately, the chemo and other cancer meds have changed him. And I can only assume the sadness and stress have changed me too. Our similarities seem to dwindle and things we agree on are fewer and farther between. Recently, it seems that stubbornness is all we share. We disagree on big stuff, like what to write and how to write it. And we disagree on the littlest things, like the best route to take to the store.

Then, last Wednesday we came to an easy agreement to have lunch at our favorite Italian restaurant. Over a couple plates of spaghetti, I made a South Park reference (which you would’ve thought brilliant and hilarious if I could remember it). Without skipping a beat or looking up from his noodles, my dad said “Man, Family Guy is just so much better than South Park.” And on the drive home, by way of some divine signal, Billy Joel started playing on the radio, and we both sang along at the top of our lungs…

You may be right

I may be crazy

Oh, but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for

It’s too late to fight

It’s too late to change me

You may be wrong for all I know

But you may be right

So, there amidst all the disparity, I learned that in a world of change, transformation and adjustment, some of the best things stay the same. I learned that no cancer, chemo or any other crap could ever break the fundamental bonds my dad and I share (as silly as they may seem).

There on that beautiful, imperfect Wednesday, a father and daughter found the lunatic they’d each been looking for – in one another.

xoxo

hjn

HannahImage

Nail Polish

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Painting and repainting. That’s what I’ve been doing. Painting my nails, wiping them clean and painting them again. One by one. Coat by glossy coat. Blue, pink, orange, gold and crimson red lacquer. There are plenty of days when I do more than just painting and repainting…but not today. Today it’s just me, some nail polish and a bottle of acetone. Painting and repainting.

There’s something therapeutic about nail polish. Painting takes concentration, patience, a steady hand and a steady mind — stuff I’ve struggled with recently. But it’s said that practice makes perfect, so I just keep painting and repainting.

It doesn’t matter the color or brand of polish. It doesn’t matter if it’s chipped, dented or entirely smudged. Each nail will inevitably be wiped clean again. All that matters is painting. I just keep hoping I’ll find that lucky hue. I just keep hoping that maybe a fresh coat will cure my writer’s block — or better yet, cure my dad’s cancer. So I just keep painting and repainting.

xoxo

Hannah Jane

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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