#makedesmoines

This week I was honored to be a part of a neat photo series called Make Des Moines by the talented Justin Meyer. I met Justin about a year ago, and he's one of those local folks that everybody seems to know. He is clearly dedicated to both his family and his photography, and just an all-around nice, genuine guy. Justin said he started #makedesmoines to not only improve his own photography skills, but showcase the people who make Des Moines a vibrant, creative community. He particularly wanted to focus on individuals on the fringes -- the people who are perhaps a little more obscure, yet still doing their part to help Des Moines thrive while exploring their own passions and hobbies.

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The funny thing is, I wouldn't have considered myself someone who "makes" Des Moines. It actually took me a solid year and a half to like living here! I had moved in 2012 for a relationship and a job -- and both are fine reasons to relocate -- but I didn't realize how long it would take to make new friends and find my personal footing on a lot of levels. It eventually happened, but it took a while.

That's why I so enjoyed being a part of #makedesmoines. Over the past year, I dug much deeper roots here. The things I had slowly chosen to be a part of started to come full circle, started to flower, and it made me appreciate this community more than ever. That's how life works sometimes, right? You take one step down one path and it leads you to places you never imagined or intended. And usually, that's right where you need to be.

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I started this blog, and made writing much more of a priority. I joined the Art Noir board, and now I'm a co-chair for an awesome event fundraiser next year called Big Hair Ball. I discovered Power Life Yoga, and decided to embark upon the teacher training journey, and now teaching alongside practicing is a fundamental part of my life, of my happiness, of my sense of service. I threw my hat in the ring to teach composition at DMACC, and realized how much I enjoy helping other people learn how to put their viewpoints on paper. A meeting from my first month in Des Moines turned into an opportunity to freelance for Silicon Prairie News, where I get to share the stories of all sorts of people doing cool, important things in their own communities.

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But all of those things -- those relationships, connections, goals, opportunities -- took a lot of time to develop. There were many moments when I felt unsure about being on the right path, or I wanted to give up. So the biggest lesson I've learned in Des Moines thus far involves patience. The value of showing up, despite failure or unmet expectations, and dedicating yourself to the process. Trusting that the work matters whether the effects or outcomes are immediately visible or not.

During the shoot, Justin and I talked about how we witness so many people doing cool things in this city, and the striking thing is that nobody seems afraid to fail. People start a new project simply to see how it plays out, with the goal of bettering this community somehow or just because they're excited about it, and more often than not, it works or succeeds. And if not, on to the next thing. All the people I've met here are insanely committed to their creative endeavors, and they carve out time for those efforts, which is incredibly inspiring.

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That's why I value yoga and writing so much. I am certainly not the only yogi in this town, and there are many, many others with more experience and skill than myself. Likewise, there are plenty of writers producing quality work. But all these people inspire me to show up to the page or to my mat every single day, and do the work to discover the joy involved, and hopefully make a small difference in the lives of others. For that, I'm grateful.

See Justin's full post and check out the rest of the series here.

Meet Stanley

Meet Stanley. He's about four pounds, eight weeks old, and the cutest damn pug puppy of all time. (Even though any pug owner reading this will likely think theirs is equally adorable. I get it.) The fact that I find him so cute is ironic, because I'm a self-professed cat lady and never really ever even wanted a dog. 20140223-101845.jpg

But then we babysat a friend's pug, and fell in love with its temperament and personality.

Then I decided to look at nearby breeders, you know, just for fun slash just in case. Then there happened to be a breeder an hour away with two little puppies left. The woman was super nice and knowledgeable, and she mentioned that her 77-year-old grandma also knits a blanket for each puppy to take to their new home.

SOLD. It was fate, you guys. So we went just to look.

(As we all very well know, nobody ever goes just to look at a puppy or kitten and comes home empty-handed. I actually would like to meet somebody who has been able to emotionally detach from the cuteness of a small animal needing a home and not take it home. Heartless!)

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Full disclosure: It was a Saturday and we had no plans, so I told Jared we were going on an adventure because I knew he'd say no to just looking since he is all practical and stuff. We drove back roads in the snow for over an hour, he consequently got super annoyed with my bubbliness about this mystery trip, we pull into their driveway and he's like JULIA as I dart out of the car. The chain link fence displayed a cardboard sign that said "Puppies 4 Sale," and a man in blue jeans with a long grey ponytail glanced at us while smoking his cig, shoveling his steps.

"You must be Ron," I said. "Sure am." He replied, still shoveling. "Y'all go on in."

Jared's expression: We just drove over an hour and now we're going inside a stranger's house in the middle of nowhere to look at some supposed puppies? Me: Duh. This is legit, I swear.

We step inside to a small lobby-like area, where we met Ron's wife and subsequently fell in love with little Stanley. He nuzzled and cuddled us, and his wrinkly face melted our hearts.

His name is Stanley because he has an old man face, and it's fun to call him Stan the Man.

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He likes chewing on everything, attacking shoelaces and rug corners, barking in excitement for his food, chasing leaves, snuggling his auntie Olivia, meeting other dogs, and sleeping. I read that puppies sleep an average of 18 hours a day, and it's totally true.

He does not like his harness, loud noises, not being allowed on the couch, the snow, his kennel after lunch and sleeping past 7 a.m.

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As a puppy parent, I've met about 20 new people in the apartment building--it's incredible how a dog breaks down social barrier and promotes friendly hallway conversation.

I'm excited for when he is potty trained. And for when the weather clears up so that we can go on more walks. I love his little snore and the fact that he wiggles his arms and legs when sleeping (must be dreaming about running) and the way he hops like a bunny when he is excited.

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And his FUR ROLLS. Ugh. So cute.

Most of all, I understand now why people own dogs. With a cat, you come home and the cat is like yo, I see you but I'm not interested in moving. A dog is like OMG MOM HI CAN WE PLAY CAN WE GO OUTSIDE I MISSED YOU SO MUCH.

It's awesome.

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P.S. Pugs really do sleep with their tongues hanging out. I didn't believe this was true until Stanley did it. It's so weird and creepy and hilarious.