Control

It was a Monday; I buried dad in his light blue coffin – with full military honors – two weeks prior.

I thought I was ready to do life.


As I was driving my daughter to school, I pressed the gas pedal to go on a green light and the next thing I knew I was screaming, “What the fuuuuuuuuck?!” at the top of my lungs as my daughter and I spun in an intersection like we were on the Tilt-A-Whirl ride at the State Fair.

I officially became a person who was hit by another person running a red light.

(My daughter and I were pretty much ok – thank you, God, star particles and whatever holds this galaxy together!)
 


What started out as pure gratitude for being alive from that accident, turned to some sort of bitterness because I found my grieving process derailed.

The headache and poor communication from an insurance company.
The in-between of car repairs.
And don’t get me started on the rental car situation.
 


I wondered though – why was I bitter? Shouldn’t I be over-the-moon to be alive and not mangled or completely broken?

I was bitter as hell because I wasn’t in control.

I was ready to grieve, damnit, and then I get in an accident.

That wasn’t in my plans.
That. Wasn’t. In. MY. Plans. 
Do you hear that? 
 


I’ve been the controlling type my whole life.
Even as I say that about myself, I want to delete it.


As long as I can recall I tried to have a constant grip on anything I could regulate in life.
 
Don’t worry, though, I know it stems from my dysfunctional childhood where I had ZERO control (#WorkingThroughIt).
 


It’s an odd dichotomy though – the “big” stuff (death, marriage, kids, friendships, people stuff) I’m super hands-off and all, “I can’t control people!”.
 
The day-to-day stuff, whoa, mama can’t help herself! I try to be 10 steps ahead at all times when it comes to my house, car, cleaning, planning, travel, etc.

Details give me pleasure.
 


And that can actually be helpful in a lot of ways. Take my career and business in digital marketing – that’s literally my business: Digital Details. People pay me to figure out and execute their business’s digital details. And I love every second of it.
 
On the other hand, obsessing over how my husband doesn’t place the dish towel the proper way in the kitchen, or fold the towels a certain way or being thrown off by a last-minute schedule change – not helpful.  
 
Not helpful at all.
 


I don’t know why it took my father’s death and a dude to slam my car in an intersection to wake me up to the fact that trying to figure out every detail in life blows.


It’s exhausting and when you’re in the throes of grief – controlling anything beyond your own mental health is utterly draining.
 


I’m not saying I’m “cured” from trying to control the details, but I’m more aware.

More aware that control is an illusion and I can spot a spin-out a mile ahead now.

More aware that it actually feels better – not worse – to loosen the grip in life.

More aware that kitchen towels don’t care how they’re folded, so neither should I.

And more aware that tending to my mental health and grief is the first and only step I need to be ahead of.
 


Love + Tilt-A-Whirl Lessons,
Keli

 

 

PS — No, I will not give up my obsession with packing light and rolling my clothes to save space. Take the oddly folded towels, Control — but you will not take my packing superpower! 

It’s Never Goodbye, It’s Only So Long…

The Vic

My pops…

The guy I talk (write) about all the time. 

The dude who I said has the number one spot in my heart (even my hubs knew his ranking). 

The man whose humor surpasses any comedian I’ve ever watched.

And who rocked a raging case of CRS/Alzheimer’s like no other…

Went tits up recently (Vic’s words for anyone who died was “tits up!”).

 

I had the privilege of honoring who he was in life and writing his obituary, which I knew could have absolutely NO pretense in or around it! 

 

Here’s to The Vic, my pops, for showing me how to live a life with just enough grace, heaping compassion and a fuck-ton of laughter. 

 

 

Please enjoy an obituary fit for a man who lived life mostly on the edge and rarely did he overthink much. 

 

The Vic Obit

 

Victor Michael Conci, Sr. – more appropriately known as “The Vic” – completed the family round table and joined his mom Rose, father Vittorio, brothers Charlie, Joseph, Hank, sister Mary (Reno) and nephew Chuck on August 23rd, 2019. He’s now singing opera with Pavarotti at the top of his lungs and keeping whoever is in charge up there on their toes.

 

The Vic came screamin’ into this world on December 10th, 1932 in the mining town of Rugby, Colorado. We don’t know if that town still exists, but he sure loved spouting off that he was born in Rugby as if it was a legendary town nobody knew about.

 

Vic was the youngest crumb-cruncher born to Rosalia (Rose) and Vittorio Conci – both whom left the old country of Italy and set sail to America – for what (we hope) was a better life. We’re sure, however, both Rose and Vittorio questioned that decision after Vic was born.

 

By the time Vic came along, he joined his siblings Charlie, Mary and Hank to give his mom Rose hell – and not many years later – officially sent his father Vittorio packing his bags.

 

After brother Charlie made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II, when it was time, Vic joined the Marine’s (“Semper Fi Mother F***er” he loved shouting). He served in the Korean War and never let us forget that he endured Major Payne’s (yes, that was his real name) slaps upside his head and he finally overcame his fear of swimming because they threw his ass in the water and told him to swim. He never did like water much after that – including showers.

 

A career in the Marine’s wasn’t for rebellious Vic and so post-Korean War threw him into adventures in California, Wyoming and eventually settling back in Colorado.

 

Eventually, he did land in what would be his career at the CF&I as a steelworker. Now, truth be told, he spent as much time at the bars doing shots of Crown Royal, sucking back 7 and 7 drinks while smooth-talking the ladies as he did slinging steel.

 

The Vic was an equal opportunity lover (especially if you were at least 10 years younger than him) and so began his string of three marriages and kids we ponder are still unaccounted for. (We’re waiting for a Maury Povich moment where we see if Vic is truly the father!).

 

Fortunately – throughout the three marriages – we can account for Kim, Marijean, Mike, Keli (Josh) and Codi Conci as his offspring. And he even welcomed being a father at 50-years old when most people that age were reveling in their empty nest.

 

Mike and Keli especially gravitated towards Vic’s larger than life personality, unmatched wit, sarcasm and most of all unconditional love and the unique ability to not take life that serious.

 

When Vic wasn’t rebel-rousing, you could usually find him with his family cooking (especially a spaghetti sauce or chicken soup), cutting a rug on the dancefloor, singing Pavarotti or Bocelli at the top of his lungs with absolutely no shame, and watching his favorite sports on TV. You could even find him yelling at the television screen when Jerry Springer was on.

 

When life threw him a raging case of CRS (Can’t Remember Sh*t/Alzheimer’s) you better believe he made the best of it. His easy-going nature, light-hearted disposition, and infectious laugh made those 10+ years some of the hardest, yet fondest that Vic and his family had the honor and privilege to be a part of.

 

Vic never lost his ability to laugh at the slightest joke, make fun of himself and know that at the end of it all – we’re only here a short stay.

 

He packed his life and those around him full of humor, levity, kindness, compassion and wholehearted love.

 

After 86 years of raising hell on Earth, he flew out of this world like he lived: easy and his way, surrounded by so much tenderness and devotion you’d think it was Mother Teresa on her death bed…but it was The Vic.

 

(A special shout-out to the living and breathing Earth Angels at the Bruce McCandless State Veteran’s Home and Frontier Hospice. You ALL made his last two years [and final week] there like the party that he thought life should be. Your grace and care for Vic and the entire Conci family will never be forgotten!)

 

Cheers to a long life well-lived, and in honor of The Vic and his life – go worry less, live more and hug your people!

 

What I Want My Daughter to Know About Life

Every year that I place another candle on my birthday cake I find myself pondering even more about death.

I mean, I’ve always thought about death a lot. I suppose that happens when your mom flings up to the heavens in your 20’s. Or your dad is rockin’ that old age and dementia. Or maybe I was just born with some weird gene that makes me think about death and dying more than others.

I don’t really know.

What I do know is because I think about how I’m going to live my life through the lens of truly understanding and taking in that any moment can be my last – I’m motivated differently.

And with that motivation comes a deep yearning to pass any knowledge or wisdom I have up in ma’brain to my daughter – before I go tits up (that’s The Vic’s way of saying dead).

It’s so funny to be soaking up my daughter at her age right now, especially when we have random conversations about life while I’m sitting on the pot and she’s taking a shower.

Who knew an 8-year-old could be so deep?

After our chat sessions I’m usually left thinking, “Damn I need to write this down!”

So here I am writing this stuff down.

Here’s a few nuggets for my daughter and anyone else really.

What I Want My Daughter to Know About Life

You don’t have to be strong all the time. Fierce + flexible has become my mantra.

• However, choose wisely who you’re vulnerable with – make damn sure that person(s) can hold a safe space for you.

• Friends can be your family, too. And when you have that – nurture the hell out of it because not everyone experiences that in their life or even lifetime.

• Take full responsibility for YOU. Examine everything in your life – all decisions and actions taken on your end. Never start with blaming someone else; see yourself first and then unravel what could have been done differently so not to repeat that in the future.

• Forgive yourself – and others – often. 

• Be vigilant of your surroundings. Take your darn headphones out of your ears when walking alone somewhere – especially at night. Look around and in your car before getting in it and then lock the doors as soon as your ass is in the vehicle. Park in a well-lit area at night. Walk with a purpose when alone – almost like you have the strength to take on a pack of wolves if it came down to it.

• Don’t watch crime shows before bed; only when the sun is out and not every noise will send you wanting to call the police.

• Stay off social media as long as possible. And if you do join that digital space, don’t let it define who you are. Remember how you feel after you leave an app – if you feel worse after scrolling or conversing on the Interwebs, stay the hell away. You get to control your thumb and what you click on.

• Listen to your body. Eat real food. And give your liver a break in your 20’s, ok?

• Any person you’re in a relationship with will never fulfill your every need/desire, etc. and they shouldn’t. That’s why you have friends, family, work, travel and yourself to nurture so many aspects of your soul. And a good margarita.  

• As The Vic (your nonno) says, “Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear.” Keep that zinger in mind.

• Make truth your default setting. Tell the truth as often as possible. The more you do it, the easier it’ll become.

• Trying to figure people out is exhausting. Read a book instead. Or figure your own self out.

• Learn the Serenity Prayer and refer to it often.

• Show up. Moment by moment. That’s where the magic is, Baby Girl. Trust me on that one.

• Get your teeth cleaned every six months.

• Don’t try to win an argument with someone who thinks they’re right.

• Drink a shit-ton of water every day. I love mine with a squeeze of Meyer lemon.

• Get lost in a bookstore.

• Travel frequently – even if it’s just getting out of town for a night – that can do wonders for the head and heart.

Most of all, Baby Girl, say “I love you” and give those smooches and squeezes to the ones you love every time you greet or leave them.

You truly don’t know if that’s the last time you’ll see them, but I always tell myself it is…

So, I squeeze tight, express gratitude and say “I love you” a million times – because why not?  

Love + Living,

Keli (yo mama)

Show Up. Tell Your Story.

I can’t say I recall ever wanting to be a writer.

Even when I was little and kept a journal (you know the ones with the lock and key) + wrote silly stories — I didn’t think of being a full-on writer one day.

But in 5th-grade that changed; I found a hunger in myself around writing. But it definitely didn’t look like a hunger at first, it looked like jealousy.

I mostly remember our teacher telling the class to write a creative story. There was a timed aspect to it, and damn did I feel in the flow when I was scribbling away on that paper.

When the timer went off, I actually felt proud of what I just wrote.

My innards felt all warm and fuzzy proud, but not proud enough to share it with the whole 5th-grade class. Baby steps, people.

The teacher starts asking for volunteers to read their story. And while I was super happy with what I just wrote (especially the ending), there was no way in classroom heaven I was going to read it aloud.

A couple brave souls read their cute stories and I thought, “Look at them go, but my story is better.”

And then a girl – known for her smarts, brass + front row seat in the classroom – stood up and read her story without missing a beat; she shared her story with full confidence.

The next thing I knew I thought I was listening to my own story because it was quite identical. But I had the ace in the hole I thought – her ending couldn’t top my ending.

Oh, but Keli, it did.

Because it was the same ending.

We both did the “And then little Johnny woke up from his dream.”

I was shocked + pissed at the same time. And it didn’t help that the teacher couldn’t stop gushing about her story, “So creative! I love the ending! Really good story!”

I wanted to grab my paper right there, stand up and show MY creativity gosh darn it.

Too late.

I stewed for a bit over that experience, but it made me realize if I care that much about my writing maybe I should show up and stand up more in my writing.

After that day, I wasn’t so afraid to put my writing out there – even though I still didn’t have dreams of being a writer. I just knew I never wanted to feel like I didn’t show up fully for something I actually was pretty decent at.

I did a lot of showing up for my writing in high school. I joined the school newspaper, took creative writing classes, wrote an essay for a scholarship (and won) and my senior year I was editor of the school newspaper.

I kept showing up even though I couldn’t connect the dots.

My dreams at that time were to move to California and get into acting (even though my only acting credit was reciting Steel Magnolias in my bathroom mirror while fake crying). I think my bigger dream was to just move to California + pursue a career as a talk show host, but who really knows.

Writing was never on my radar of how I was going to show up in the world. It was just something I was good at.

I wrote my way through every certification and degree I got in my 20’s. And once social media entered the picture, I wrote there, too.

When I launched my Health Coaching practice in 2012, I officially started a blog. Just because it came with my website.

I love expressing myself through words, but again, never thought of it as a career.

Except that is exactly what it has become: my writing has become my career.

I write articles on my website, I help small businesses and creatives write their websites and blogs and newsletter and social media content: I write for a living.

I get paid to write.

But that’s not how I always saw it because I’m not a published author (yet), or my articles don’t go viral and spread like wildfire through the Interwebs.

I just simply show up every day and write —

Write blogs.

Write content for clients.

Write emails.

I write my ass off and get paid to do it even though this was never my dream, but now, it feels like it’s always been a whisper of a dream I just didn’t take the time to listen to.

Maybe you’re wondering what the actual fuck you want to do with your life.

Maybe you’re criticizing yourself for not knowing your “purpose” (whatever that means).

Maybe you’re unsure of yourself because you thought you loved one thing but realized you actually really don’t love that one thing.

I’ve been there – and on days when I can’t get a decent sentence out to save my life – I’m very much still there.

I’m not sure of easy answers in life, but the one thing that’s usually worked for me is continuing to show up until something does make sense – until you can definitely say something is up your alley, or hell-to-the-no that’s not for you.

Show up.

Go first and share your story.  

Because if you don’t, you may never know what does or does not make your soul move in ways you didn’t know it could.

Love + Still Learning To Tell My Story,

Keli