Today, I’m celebrating letting go. I woke up this morning smiling, for the first time in too long. I had finally unclenched my little monkey fist, from an outcome that I was overly attached to.

Versions of the “how to trap a monkey” story are ubiquitous (there’s a jar, there’s rice inside, the monkey grasps the rice, he’s trapped, but he still won’t let go of the rice), and I’ve personally been a very foolish monkey this year. For me, the rice is generally an idea of how things should be, how the world should work, of what I perceive as the best outcome.

For example, last month a job possibility came up for us in Washington state. At first I wasn’t completely sure about the timing, but then I was convinced it was the right move by a long list of pros and a short list of cons. And then I clung to that rice like you wouldn’t believe. I was checking out Port Angeles real estate listings, schools, book stores and coffee shops. Planning the monthly trips to visit my hometown. Weekly dinners with my mom and step-dad. Trips with the kids on the ferry, to the Seattle Art Museum and the Pacific Science Center! And maybe I’d join a rowing team again…

Yeah. You can certainly see where this is going. The rice dissolved in my hand, as I held on to my desired outcome so feverishly. When the job didn’t come through, I still couldn’t unclench my fist. The rice was no longer a possibility. But instead of removing my hand from the jar, I dug in my heels, determined that only moving to Washington would do. While I was staring at the jar, trying to break it on the ground and complaining over the unfairness of it all, real life was still going on around me. And it turns out I was sitting in a rice paddy all along, surrounded by beautiful abundance.

Someone I love very much reminded me of all I have to be grateful for. He also reminded me that my family will always love me unconditionally, no matter where I live. No matter how foolishly I behave.

So here’s to liberation, from our own monkey-minds and our own grasping monkey paws. I’m thankful that I’ve finally dropped the rice and the jar. I’m hopeful that I can continue to open my eyes to the present moment, and that I can appreciate what is. And when I get my hand stuck in a jar again (because I most certainly will; this is what all monkeys do), I hope I can remember how to let go, again and again and again.

So, let’s get back to the I Love Denver campaign! Since I missed a few days, involved as I was with that rice, you get some bonus Denver love tonight.

#1 Concerts at Red Rocks. Michael took me there to see a little band called The Shins last month. Why didn’t anybody tell me how great they are!?

I think I’ve cried at every concert I’ve seen at Red Rocks, just out of crazy adoration of the space and the sound. True to form, I cried an extra lot over Simple Song. I’d say it’s worth clicking over to the lyrics. Oh yes, there are water references!

#2 Denver Art Museum. Who needs to take a ferry to Seattle, when you can take a five minute drive down Speer Boulevard, to a very fine museum?  And parking is free on the fourth of July, in case you’d like to go next year. We always check out the interactive lights/bubbles on the second floor, as well as the Western collection. I try to sprint to the modern collection, for some wistful sighs, before the kids beg me to move along. I really could look at those Robert Motherwell prints for days. I have to figure out if I can make it to the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition before it ends on July 8, and Garry Winogrand is still calling my name.


The Inventor’s Lair meets the Best Mexican Restaurant in Denver

He cleans his room every few weeks, but scenes like this spring right back. He finds treasures where ever he goes: rusty nails, bottle caps, special rocks. The lint trap in our dryer doesn’t stand a chance, pushed to the limit with broken pencils and handfuls of pennies.

The grown-up instinct is strong, to just sweep the entire mass into the nearest trash can. But then I remember the exact same layouts in my own childhood bedroom. Not to mention the desk I’m currently sitting at, scattered with antique buttons, paint brushes, sketch books, and tiny scraps of paper that I really might need for my next painting.

So to kick off a fresh month, we’ll begin by celebrating beautiful messes that lead to new inventions.

In addition to our family celebrations, I’ve got a plan to add something celebratory about Denver each day. I’ve been having some city troubles, but it’s really not Denver’s fault. Maybe Denver is a beautiful mess that could lead to new inventions. That remains to be seen, but for now I give you the number one thing that I appreciate about our city today.

I recommend the Enchilada Plate, while Sam prefers a grilled cheese sandwich with a side of rice and beans.

What are you celebrating today?