beauty grief hearts hope life love

‘so much held in a heart’

I’ve had a rotten cold for days now and it kept me from sleeping last night. I’d been laying in bed for nearly two hours, breathing out of my mouth and one nostril, my head propped up on two pillows, and turning from one side to the other. I listened to Travis’ deep sleeping, tossed the covers around a little when I got too hot, and nothing helped. So, I stumbled out of bed, being careful not to step on the cat, and walked to the family room where our dog was sleeping and woke him up. He looked so confused. “Is it morning already?” he seemed to ask me. And then I turned on a lamp and he squinted his eyes as I sat on the couch and propped up my laptop. He figured it out that no, it wasn’t morning. I’m just crazy. So he laid on his pillow and started snoring again, and while I was partially envious that he could sleep when I couldn’t, I figured I’d write the thing I’ve been trying to write for days – the one that’s been sitting in the back of my mind, half handwritten in a journal, the rest in jumbled thoughts that come and go.

Last weekend, my friend visited me and read a beautiful passage about everything a heart holds in a lifetime. I think she read it in a book, and I asked her to email it to me. At this moment, I don’t know what book it came from or who penned it. But it inspired me to write a version of what my heart holds after 33 years in this world. Here goes:

When I think of my childhood, I still feel the stir of excitement in my chest the night before every first day of school, the nights hiding in backyards while playing Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids, and my first time riding in an airplane. That wild flutter at my center is still what I live for, though it comes and goes between feelings of emptiness, heaviness, loneliness, and anxiousness. In the course of a lifetime, I expect my heart to be tired at it’s end, so much happy beating like a hummingbird, so many times deflated like a balloon that was let go only to fly around in a nonsensical pattern and lie exhausted on the ground. The heart’s cycle is curious and switches rhythm as life changes, sometimes multiple times a day. One can hope more happiness than sadness comes its way.

I can’t fit everything my heart holds in this post, but I’ll try to sum up some of that tangled mess that thumps behind my ribs. There are happy moments like falling asleep in triple bunkbeds above my brothers, the three of us smelling like fireworks and fresh Wyoming air at the end of a long, hot 4th of July. My heart remembers waking up at 3 a.m. and sneaking down to the living room every Christmas morning to see if Santa came. It cherishes making membership cards with my mom for the Fun Club we made up, where all my friends would come over to play games. There is a bed full of stuffed animals, and a big pink Barbie house full of toys from McDonald’s. It sees a “zero” best friend because zero comes before one, and that makes the friendship even more special. And then there were other friends, and other bests, and they all remain inside my memory forever, taking up this huge perfect space.

My heart fell in love with the salty smell of the ocean, staying up past midnight, taking pictures of everything and gluing memories in albums. Part of my heart always lives in California, at a restaurant on the beach where we ate chocolate coffee cake and laughed our guts out all night, on Main Street in Disneyland.

And then part of my heart always lives in Utah, the smell of the lake, long summer evenings, my dad choosing the movie on Saturday nights, cracking walnuts in front of a roaring football game, my mom and I crossing finish lines. Mashed potatoes and gravy every Sunday, and holidays that tasted like cinnamon bears, Orange Sticks, and hot chocolate. Mountains, and college, and roommates, and Slurpees. Then newspapers, sandwiches on Center Street, The Owl, and growing up while never feeling grown up at all.

Pieces of my heart live all over the country, wherever my friends and family are – New York, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Washington state, Colorado, Idaho.

Then there are the cracked and bruised parts of my heart – the parts that have holes, scars, and cuts. Feeling guilty for half my life because I didn’t understand, feeling lied to and betrayed. Whispers, cunning smiles, and sneers. Insecurity and losing friends. Being told I was ugly and believing it. Hiding behind my hair and baggy clothes.

Boyfriends and breakups, getting in the way of love, and others doing the same. Being heartbroken over and over by the same men, and doing my own share of breaking. Calling one person 20 times in a row one night, tears streaming from my face, never getting an answer. Watching his garage door close one day, knowing it was over forever. Pain and relief at the same time.

And then a year went by and things changed and one day I drove down an unsuspecting road and got chills thinking of the love interest who would eventually become my husband. Feeling, for the first time, that this seemed right from the beginning.

My friend sitting across the room from me, telling me one of my ex-boyfriends committed suicide two weeks earlier and that she found out through the grapevine after someone read a column his step-mom wrote. Wondering how one day someone can disappear from this world. Knowing that life is so hard for some people. Realizing there were only two people I could talk to about it. Ripping up, throwing away, and deleting almost everything I had to remind me of him.

Making a new home in New Mexico that looked like hiking whenever possible, felt like trying to find the right path, and tasted like green chile. Getting engaged on top of a mountain at sunset, walking down the aisle. The light days, anxious days, adventure days, and sick days.

Choosing a pair of earrings from my grandma’s collection at a lunch with all my cousins that I knew would never happen again now that she was in the ground. Missing her voice and our long drives and phone calls. Later releasing balloons into the air following a service for my grandpa – the orange rocks in the background and wondering why there was so much more peace in this loss.

The death of a parent, something no one understands until it happens. Kneeling by my dad’s body and sobbing in that long maroon room, everyone telling me he looked better two days earlier when I couldn’t be there. Telling him I was sorry. Running my fingers through his hair. Geese flying by and hearts appearing in rocks and trees, on trails, and in clouds, and I feeling like my dad would never forget.

I didn’t feel like myself for more than a year, and then one day, like magic, I wanted to listen to the happy songs again. But the happy songs don’t solve everything – nothing ever will.

The intensity of my heart has multiplied by 1,000 in every way.

I dance now even though I’ll never know how, and I surround myself with people who don’t mind. My heart holds the loud nights, the piano nights, and Halloween. Sunsets glow brighter than ever, and I love the rain. Sometimes I shake when I read the news and see videos of people running from violence in pictures on my phone. It all feels so close.

My heart holds dog smiles and sneezes, slow cat blinks, and Harry Potter nights. Bike rides, trails, and wine. Summer in the backyard and the way Travis tries to save all the bees and spiders. Rose bushes surrounding our brick house.

Life always goes on as it will, and time will move too fast. We’ll experience as many far away places as possible, I’ll write memories inside airplanes, and scale mountains until we are old and broken. Life will break me many times more – I don’t even know how to imagine the ways it will. And my warm, wrenched heart will hold it all.

beauty life

la vie en rose

La vie en rose means “life in pink” in French and is another way to say life through rose glasses. I’ve loved the phrase ever since I heard it played as a song on ukulele by “the mother” in the final season of “How I Met Your Mother.”

I bought the sheet music soon after we purchased our piano, but I could never quite learn it very well. Playing here and there without focus only got me halfway there. So when I signed up for piano lessons a month ago (somewhat on a whim), that was one of the songs I told my teacher I wanted to play. It was supposed to be my fun piece, but it turned out to be a challenge. I disappointedly told my teacher that last week and she laughed. “Just because something is challenging, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.” She told me how her daughter is learning “Star Wars” music on the piano and that it’s hard, but she’s committed because it’s also fun.

I’m writing this post as a recap of the 2018’s first quarter, and it can be sort of summed up like that piano piece – slow, melodic, a bit challenging, but also rosy. When daylight savings hit, I felt an immediate change in me – like I was coming out of winter’s slumber. Following the holidays I’d been a bear who found a cave for the winter and enjoyed months of hibernation. I savored many weekends that involved plans such as “watching lots of TV,” and “changing from one pair of yoga pants to the other pair of yoga pants.”

I think we all have times in our lives when our bodies and minds decide we need certain things. This winter, I needed life to slow down. I needed to hide from the cold, and plans, and busyness. I needed freshly brewed coffee mornings with Travis, Saturdays and Sundays without alarm clocks, fuzzy blankets, every episode of “The Fosters,” and less phone time. I needed to rewatch some favorite movies with Travis, put together a puzzle, sip wine, and notice the moon.

I wasn’t anti-social, just less social. I didn’t plan too far ahead. I embraced some quiet and tried to be kind to myself and others.

And because this is a recap, here are some rosy highlights in no particular order:

The day I started taking piano lessons after a 15-year hiatus. I found my teacher through a friend. I can walk to her house in three minutes.
I marched a couple of times. March for Our Lives was especially impactful to me.
Good things happen when my phone is far away from me. I wrote this poem in February. The finished version is on Instagram.
We had our first visitors of 2018!
Came upon this vintage train and had to buy it.
Super Blue Blood Moon. One of about 2 times I was interested in getting up early this year.
I love dates with Travis.
I love this photo because it shows a true version of a slow weekend. Puzzle box and wine glass in the background, no makeup, definitely wearing yoga pants under the blanket, and Neville snuggled up to me.
beauty life

2017 recap

I know this is late, but I’m an extremely nostalgic person and need to document certain things. For several years, I have written a year-end review and even though it’s Feb. 3, 2018, I’m still going to share one for 2017.

Before writing this, I spent a half hour or so looking through my journals and pictures from last year. Here are my takeaways:

  • I need to write. It’s in my DNA. Many journal entries begin with something along the lines of, “How has it been this long? I need to write more.” I was born with a need to write so that I remember, process, and capture the things I don’t say. At some point last year, I remember talking to Travis about what I want to do with my life and work. For a moment I hesitated on whether or not I am still a writer. To his credit he said something like, “If there is one thing that you always have to be it’s a writer.” I believe him.
  • I care a lot more about making memories than things. This was evident in 2017. More than anything else, I would rather spend my time and money on people I love, trying new things, and seeing new places. And for better or worse (depending on who you ask), I take pictures of it all.
  • No matter what changes in life – marriage, divorce, work, babies, distance – I will always try my best to keep in touch with friends. I will travel, I will invite them to visit, I will send emails, and birthday gifts, and cards, and ridiculous text messages. I will plan reunions and invite everyone over for breakfast if I’m in town. I will keep inside jokes alive. I believe in lifelong friendships.
  • I am in love with the number 33 and this age and all this year is teaching me.
  • One of my favorite quotes I heard last year is “I am not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world,” by Glennon Doyle. I relate sooooo much. Suffering in my life and the world makes me cry, but it doesn’t mean I am broken.
  • I crave truth and honesty in writing, in my family, in my friends, in myself. I mean the kind of honesty that reveals vulnerability and sheds light on the things we all feel, but have a hard time sharing. I crave the moments when the invisible armor we wear each day is left on the floor and we get to be ourselves. I believe when we share fears, and tears, and belly laughs we create a more connected world.
  • Gossip doesn’t have to exist between women. I want to write more about this someday, but it was something I discovered at a work conference that has stayed with me. It’s possible for women with entirely different personalities, ages, backgrounds, and interests to come together and discuss the past, future, big ideas, insecurities and dreams – like really get to know each other – and not gossip about each other afterward. It’s sad that this felt rare to me, but it also felt very exciting and hopeful. I have drowned in gossip many times and it’s something I’m fiercely working on. Women – and people in general – are stronger when we build each other up.
  • And lastly, I have the best family, friends, husband, doggie, and kitty for me. The end.
hearts hope life love

800 hearts

This photo was taken in Urubamba, Peru, on Thanksgiving. It is my 800th post on Hunting for Hearts.

I am posting for the 800th time on my Hunting for Hearts Instagram feed tonight. I could have done this weeks ago, but I over-thought it like I sometimes do. I wanted to write something to go with it, but whenever I tried, I didn’t feel like my words were enough.

So, I’m using someone else’s. I recently read “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle and this spoke to me:

“You can be shattered and then you can put yourself back together piece by piece.

But what can happen over time is this: You wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself back together completely differently. That you are whole, finally, and strong – but you are now a different shape, a different size. This sort of change — the change that occurs when you sit inside your own pain — it’s revolutionary. When you let yourself die, there is suddenly one day: new life. You are Different. New. And no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore. You are like a snake trying to fit into old, dead skin, or a butterfly trying to crawl back into the cocoon, or new wine trying to pour itself back into an old wineskin. This new you is equal parts undeniable and terrifying.

Because you just do not fit. And suddenly you know that. And you have become a woman who doesn’t ignore her knowing. Who doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know. Because pretending makes you sick. And because you never promised yourself an easy life, but you did promise yourself a true one. You did promise – back when you were putting yourself back together – that you’d never betray you again.”

After my dad passed away, I wrote that sometimes your heart break into 1,000 pieces. It’s something I’ve thought about many times since that December day when I broke. For me, this heart journey has been a lot of things, but perhaps the main purpose has been putting myself back together again. Maybe 800 of my heart’s pieces are intact, but they’ve been melted, and ground, and plastered together completely differently. I don’t regret the way those jagged pieces have been sorted, misplaced, and glued, sometimes haphazardly I’m sure. I am not a perfect puzzle, but I’m my own kind of masterpiece in the making and I’m going to keep being true to that person – truer than maybe I’ve ever been.



I woke up Monday morning on my friend’s couch in New York City and she told me the news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas at a music festival. She said it was the worst mass shooting yet. I laid there, groggy and blinking, trying to decide if I should look at my phone and see the news. How much did I want to see?

I did look. And the story was still in bullet points. Bullet points – the horrible truth of that sentence. I learned the basic details and in some way, my heart broke again, like it has many times before, like it did for millions of other people on Monday. When lives are lost so senselessly it affects all of us; we all crack, even a little bit, and shatter.

It’s like glass – the sound when it hits the floor and shatters into tiny pieces all over the ground. You know that sound? It’s the sound that stops everything. That’s how I feel every time I hear about another mass shooting in our country – it’s how I feel when I hear about tragedy. The world stops and it sounds like shattered glass.

I’ve been trying to put feelings into words all week and had a really hard time doing it. But one thing always remained the same – the way I wanted to describe the pain – the way I imagined it – always came back to something that was broken into tiny pieces. Was it burnt ash? Was it rocks crushed into sand? I think in the end it was always glass.

The thing about something breaking is it can be put back together, but it will never be the same. The cracks will remain and whatever the object was to begin with will remain more fragile than before. And the big question is, what if it shatters again? What if it shatters so many times the pieces are too small to fix? That’s what makes me worry.

I tried to go on with my day with friends in New York City – I tried to remind myself that maybe the best thing I could do was continue to do the most basic of human things – to surround myself with strangers, to smile, and be kind. In the back of my head, however, was fear. What if the next place I went was the next place someone decided to strike? I tried to push it away, and the day was still lovely, but that fear was always there.

On vacations, I tend to over-post on Instagram because I like sharing with my friends, and I like the space to be my picture journal/scrapbook. On Monday and Tuesday, however, I couldn’t bring myself to post happy things knowing there was so much suffering out there. I also suppose I wanted to share something meaningful if I were to share anything at all, and I didn’t have the words. I’m still not sure I have the right ones.

I did think about how much pure humanity I saw during my time in New York though, and I wrote it down on my plane ride home. Since I still feel like I don’t have correct answers – none of us do or ever will – sharing this is the best I can do, so here goes:

  • One day, a man got on one of the train cars with us and played the drums. He wished everyone well and afterward said something like, “Anything helps. Even smiles and peace signs go a long way.” I saw a couple of people who never looked up or made eye contact while he played lift their heads, give him $1 and smiles.
  • One day in Central Park, a group of elementary school-aged kids played violins, cellos, and a clarinet to raise money for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands following the hurricanes there.
  • At a Yankees game, the crowd stood together after a home run and sang together. My friend Jenn and I talked about how much we love people and moments like that. The crowd couldn’t resist singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York” as well.
  • I saw people give up their seats for others on the subway.
  • There was a young woman on one of the trains smiling as she sent text messages. This went on for several stops and my friend Brittny and I had to wonder, “Who is she texting?” It was so happy.
  • There was the ice cream truck guy who stayed just a little longer so Brittny and I could get twist cones with sprinkles.
  • A guy selling falafel sandwiches out of a truck talked to us for a little bit. His name is Boris and he makes 150 sandwiches a day and wants to eat them all, he said. He also likes women who like a little spice (me!).
  • Our cab driver Amil was so nice when we were so drunk.
  • Jenn, Brittny, and I laughed so much which is one of the most pure, human things.
  • At the Imagine circle in Central Park, a man sat on a bench and played Beatles songs, most of them about love. Thirty or so people surrounded the area and it felt like community.
  • I saw signs of love everywhere – in grafitti, in nature, and I even ran into the iconic red love sign and there was a huge line to take pictures with it. People love love.
  • There was an inclusive sign on the Highline which welcomed everyone there.
  • The Met had such beautiful art; I think humans are sometimes their best when they are creating and sharing art.
  • I heard people playing live music everywhere. I think I heard “As Time Goes By” three times on my last day in New York City. There were so many love songs.

The weight of the world is so heavy and I understand why people get angry after tragedies, although the more I learn, the less I feel it’s the best response. Fighting doesn’t make things better, and neither does fear. Anger and fear got us here in the first place.

I have to believe things can get better and that not all is lost. The realistic part of me says that glass will shatter again, and that this is only the worst shooting until the next worst shooting. But the other realistic part of me also knows that people are still good, and that the kind, collective things we do for each other matter. Maybe we will keep shattering all over the ground, but maybe we’ll also continue to piece the fragile pieces of ourselves back together. If not, what else is there?

beauty friendship hope laughter life


Thirty-three sounds much better to me than thirty-two. I don’t know why – there’s no logical reason, but I like the look of it – two threes. Thirty-two was a good year though. I am grateful for the ups and downs (well, not all the downs), the travels, the discoveries, the friendships, my family.

Last year I made the goal to “let go” and sometimes I did. There was dancing (no matter how terrible), balloons for my grandpa, mountain tops, running away from Christmas, genuinely feeling good in my skin, letting my face scrunch up and a few tears fall during concerts, and laughing (oh, there was so much laughter).

Sometimes held on too tightly. So many things about the election broke my heart, I was hard on myself, I got stuck on whatever was going on in the news, I felt anxiety and sadness about a variety of things.

But as one of my friends told me, sometimes change takes longer than we want or expect. Maybe the important thing is giving yourself credit for the things you did right – for the moments you moved in the right direction.

A lot can change in one year, and from the outside, my life might not look too different from the day I turned thirty-two. But I think on the inside, there is movement in ways that I want. I put my phone down more often, I’m writing again, I have some big ideas, and I crave the outdoors maybe more than ever.

So if there is a theme, or motto, or mantra that I want for year thirty-three, it’s slow down. Because I think if there is anything that will help me on the let go path, it’s to be more in the moment, to spend more time on the trails, to enjoy the good food, to pay attention to the details, to truly listen to my family and friends, to write more, and read more (books! not my phone), and have a few more quiet weekends than I did last year. I don’t want my whole life to feel like a blur. I want to create it, remember it, and love it, and those things take time.

Goodbye 32.



it’s like riding a bike

I’ve been mountain biking for a few years now, but I always feel like a beginner. I struggle on the uphills, I am too cautious on the downhills, rocks intimidate me, and I breathe like I’m going to die. Near the beginning of our ride today, I told Travis I felt more like a mountain bike walker than a mountain biker. But then I got going and by the end, I had some decent moments, braved a few bumps and hills, and even felt like I went “fast” a few times … whatever that means for me. And somewhere in there, I thought up this blog post that sounds a lot like those cheesy “Everything I Learned about Life” lists. But I can be pretty cheesy so I’m going with it. Enjoy!

Some Things I’m Learning About Life Can Be Summed Up In a Bike Ride

  1. You have to go at your own pace, but try to challenge that pace.
  2. Scars prove you did something, even if it was something really stupid.
  3. The mountain views are always worth it. Look up, look around, look out.
  4. Life is up and down, fast and slow, hard and fun. Just keep going.
  5. Some people will always be better and faster than you. Some are naturals; others are more experienced. That is OK. Besides, maybe your job is to make everyone else in the world feel good about themselves based on your abilities (at least it will feel like that sometimes).
  6. You will probably throw up here and there, and maybe that is your body telling you “good job for trying, but maybe don’t try so hard today.”
  7. You’re going to fall sometimes, but not every time. Try not to be too hard on yourself.
  8. Take pictures of butterflies – unless that butterfly is at the bottom of a hill and you don’t have enough momentum to get going again. Nobody wants to say they couldn’t make it up a hill because of a butterfly – well, unless that butterfly is really amazing. Then always take a picture of the butterfly! I guess this could go on forever.
  9. You have to be in the moment to have the most control and the most enjoyment – always a good thing.
  10. Try to look beyond the next rock. Picture your finish lines instead of your falls.
  11. Like the Eagles song: “Take it easy, don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.”
  12. It might feel like you’re always starting over. But if you love it, you can start over a zillion times and it will (almost) always feel worth it.
  13. Be with people who challenge you, but who also respect your limits and don’t make you feel stupid for them.
  14. You will get lost sometimes. You’ll find yourself, too. Or your loved ones will find you. Either way, you’ll be alright.

beauty friendship hope life love

my religion

“I see God most in my relationships with other people. Victor Hugo said that ‘to love another person is to see the face of God.’ I think our capacity to love is uniquely human and naturally connects us to something higher than ourselves. I even think that loving a baseball team can be a religious experience. I was here in 2012 when Santana pitched his no hitter. Everyone in this stadium was holding their breath at the exact same time. And when the game ended, everyone screamed with the same joy. We all felt so connected at that moment. And I think that was holy. That’s the feeling I want to create in my synagogue.” – Humans of New York

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

When I picture that night, I see it in red.

Red lights shining from the stage onto our table, beer glasses, cheesecake, and faces. I see two piano guys winking at us from the stage and playing the songs we requested: “Old Time Rock n Roll,” “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places,” and “Bye Bye Bye.”

Shortly after the NSync song, I turned to one of my glowing red friends and, with a big smile on my face, said, “I decided music is my religion.” And she nodded and smiled like a good friend, and then we continued on with the night – singing, clapping, and dancing in our seats until the piano guys eventually called us on stage to dance to “Baby Got Back.” And if that’s not religious then, well … OK, maybe that’s not religious.

I’m sure saying “music is my religion” sounded like another Joe Drunk statement after I’d downed a Rocket Man margarita and a few beers, but as is the case with some Joe Drunk statements, this was something that had been following me around but hadn’t been said out loud yet.

In an effort to continue seeking some kind of spirituality, the Humans of New York quote above jumped into my mind after a recent Lady Antebellum concert where this same friend and I sat in the grass with a bunch of strangers singing country songs while watching the sunset. It was a good sunset that night, too, and I thought about how every musical event I attend feels a lot like that Humans of New York baseball game – everyone screaming with the same joy. Feeling so connected in the moment.

When I think of being religious growing up, I feel like many of the times I connected with it most involved music. And when I’ve attended a Christian church in Albuquerque here and there, it’s still always about the music. I love the guitars and piano, the drums, and the lead singers’ voices. I love the occasional accordion and flute, and the way that the energy brings people to their feet with their hands in the air. This is new to me. Singing on our feet to a band is nothing like the church I grew up in.

But outside of church, I feel just as strong of a connection – if not more – with people and God through beats, melodies, harmonies, and instruments. Nothing else gives me the chills like big talent on a stage and people cheering all around me. It’s completely inclusive. It brings strangers together in places where no one asks about your past or future because it’s all about being in the moment. Music accepts. It loves. It challenges, grieves, and spreads joy.

I always needed music – I craved it all the time growing up in the kitchen, in the car, and in my bedroom. I’ve also always needed people – family, close friends, and crowds. I needed places where everyone could be themselves and sometimes that’s where religion failed for me. Music never has.

I love the way cellphone lights make arenas sparkle and sway. I love when thousands of hands reach up and clap to the beat, and when the lead singer stops to let the audience finish the chorus on its own. I’ve been at a concert surrounded by lightning and saw it rain at just the right time. I’ve seen a crowd go nuts over the sound of one chord because they knew what was coming. I’ve stood on the floor jumping in unison with everyone around me and danced when a certain song had mandatory moves. I love when lights stay dim and everyone screams for an encore, then erupts when the musicians comes back on stage to belt a few more songs. I love piano bars and karaoke and how everybody cheers each other on, no matter how horrible the sound and ridiculous the dance.

So, when I look back on that recent night with the red lights and my nice friends, I mostly remember how fun and hilarious it was, and how I was driving everyone nuts taking pictures and videos. And I also remember that I meant what I said in that drunken Manette moment – that music is my religion. Because right now, nothing else seems to compete with that feeling.

Tim McGraw, June 2015
Elton John, March 2017
Garth Brooks, April 2017


grief hope life

Like Punky Brewster

This is me on the first day of kindergarten, around age 6. Don’t let this innocent face fool you; at times I was too stubborn for my own good, and even now I still am.

I’ve always been a bit, shall we say, independent.

When I was around 6 years old, my parents threatened to leave me someplace because I refused to get in the car or some other nonsense. When they packed up, buckled in, and drove away, I sat on a curb, folded my arms and decided I was going to make it on my own – just like Punky Brewster, whose parents left her at a grocery store. Punky Brewster was my favorite television show at the time and was possibly one of the reasons I played “orphans” instead of “house” with my cousins until I was at least 12. Characters like Punky Brewster and Anne-Marie from the cartoon movie “All Dogs go to Heaven,” were my inspirations. Who wants to pretend to be a mom or dad when you can pretend to be a kid on your own, who knows how to make it on the streets, and who lives in boxcars and abandoned buildings? We could pretend to be kids who never had to hear the words no.

As I sat there on the curb that day telling myself I’d figure life out like Punky Brewster, my parents drove about one block away, far enough that I couldn’t see them, but close enough that they could see me. They were surprised I didn’t cry when pretty much every other 6-year-old in the world would have run after the car sobbing her eyes out. After they realized I wouldn’t chase them, they pulled back up and MADE me get in the car where I continued to cause a ruckus until they literally turned the car around. By the time we got home, I was carsick and threw up all over the driveway. What a rotten child I was at times.

But the point is, I was independent from the start, and while I’m sure it’s given my family their share of headaches, there are good things about this too. Good things like the day I called my folks at age 19 and told them I was going to China to teach English – No. Matter. What. Following that conversation, I worked really hard to make the adventure happen. I wanted to pay for it on my own, so I got two unclassy summer jobs at Walmart and Maverik, clocked 12-16 hour days sometimes and worked a couple 20-day stretches. It was one of the summers I am most proud of. I saved most of that money, slept very little, hung out with friends as much as possible, then boarded a plane to Shanghai and lived in a small town five hours south for four glorious months.

It was during that stretch of my life where one of my mottos was, “you can do anything you want if you plan for it.” If I could make it to China working two cashier jobs, then I could go anywhere, right? Do anything? Fulfill every dream? I really thought so. Oh, to be 19 again.

Fast forward 13 years to last night when I had a huge moment of self-doubt that has been lingering for a while now but maybe hasn’t been put into words so plainly. Travis and I were talking about the adult stuff – budgets and house work mostly. After we’d gone over the to-do lists, I asked him what he wanted his life too look like? What did he imagine? And then he asked me. It’s hard for me to put exactly what I want into words, so I told him I want simplicity, and to be more grateful. But a lot of the other stuff, like what my dream job is, I just don’t know.

For a while now, I have felt like a failed business owner, a failed writer, a failed dreamer. And I started to cry, saying I’ve been asked what my career goals are and I have no idea. For now, I want a job. I want to be very good at a job. But being good at a job doesn’t necessarily equal passion. I said between tears that I used to have passion and it didn’t work out. I worked for a small paper, moved, and bounced around from three jobs in five years. I started writing a book six years ago and never finished. I opened a small business two years ago and haven’t broken even. I used to run marathons and make bucket lists and check things off. Now that old bucket list collects digital dust on this blog that survives solely because this space means too much to me to delete – not because I write often. I can’t seem to get organized enough to do any of the things I used to call dreams – such as my business, and book, running, and creating a home that feels quaint, and quiet, and warm.

Today those thoughts stayed with me. I walked from my car to my office nearly in tears, and started to cry at my desk before I was thankfully interrupted by a coworker who wanted me to sign a get well card for someone whose problems are more immediate than mine.

But I think maybe this could be a turning point, too. Because this morning, before the walk from my car to my office, I woke up and ran through my neighborhood with my dog and the moon and a small glimmer of hope that today is a new day and those dreams and passions are still somewhere inside me. Buried perhaps, but somewhere nonetheless. And after that run, and the almost cry, I signed up for a half marathon. Because although I don’t think my dreams and passions need to stay the same, I think I’ll repeat old ones until I find the new.

And maybe that is exciting. And maybe I’ll fail again. Maybe I’ll fail again 1,000 times like many of us with passion do. Maybe that 19-year-old isn’t wiser than my 32-year-old self; maybe that 19-year-old just hadn’t failed yet. And maybe there is a part of me that still believes I can make big things happen No. Matter. What. Even if that means some of my plans take longer than expected, or don’t happen at all. Maybe that 6-year-old inside me is still sure enough that I’ll figure out life … just like Punky Brewster.

-Written July 10, 2017

beauty grief hope life love


I wrote this March 10 in a document that doubles as one of my journals. I made some edits, but thought it was worth sharing.

I’ve been writing here and there in a few different places, but it’s obviously been a long time since I came here, to this space, to write my heart out. Today something made me think of my dad, and for the first time in a long time I looked up his obituary. And that led me to my blog, and that led me to here. I wanted to write. For a long time it seems I’ve just been putting off writing about pretty much anything and I miss it so much it’s starting to eat at me.

I bought a journal called “I Gotta Be Me.” I’m loving it so far because I’m exploring the things I like about myself and the things I’m unsure of. But no matter what, it seems I always wish I’d written more – more of the day-to-day stuff. More of the funny moments, more of my explorative thoughts. Writing helps me release something inside myself, and it’s something I’m good at, and I never want to lose that.

I was in a training class last week where the teacher suggested doing mind sweeps every day, sometimes more than once, so you can get all the things out of your head and relax into work easier. The mind sweep they talked about was more about writing to-do lists, but I think it’s important to get the running sentences out of your head too – all the stuff that’s just stuck there on repeat. The way you analyze the world, and spirituality, and relationships. That stuff all needs a place outside your head sometimes. So here I am, releasing at least a little of that.

I want to let you know that I’m happy after two years of being sad.

For two years, I was so very sad. And I don’t know what did it, whether it was that trip to Hawaii, or the clock changing from 2016 to 2017, but something gave way in January that gave me some kind of peace. I will never be the same, and losing my dad will always be painful, but I’ve come to a place now where I can process things better and don’t feel so much anxiety about each day. I don’t get that feeling in my chest all the time that made me think something bad was very close on the horizon. I still think about death and accidents and the unknown, yes, and I know anything could happen, but I’m not so scared right now.

It’s kind of strange because politically, I am not happy and the news still has the potential to upset me. I’m very much more in tune with the world than I was years ago and sometimes all of that definitely takes away my peace. I suppose my overall sadness, however, is less obsessive. It’s less present.

In January, I did a clean eating challenge and I’m continuing with it most of the time now. This has been a very positive thing in my life. I’m becoming a better cook and I feel better mentally and physically. I’ve also been climbing more than last year and I’m dipping into the 5.10s which is very exciting for me. I’m also working on my business more than I have in a long time and might have three client projects coming up this month. I’m giving a portion of my proceeds to different organizations that help homelessness each month. Last month, I donated to The White Helmets in Syria. This month, I’m going to donate to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. I think my dad would be proud of this.

I guess this is most of what I wanted to say. I have other goals and other fun things have been going on, but mostly things are at least better than last year. Things continue to look up and hopeful. And that, of course, is a wonderful thing.