friday inspiration

Before they're ready

This speaks to me. Does it speak to you?

What are you afraid to try? What makes you brave? What will pull you out of your comfort zone?

I have a few things going in my head I want to accomplish this year and I know it’s about time to just fully put myself out there. Whatever you dream of doing, I hope you get there soon, too.

Happy Friday, everyone! And happy end of February! I’m floored it’s already March. I will never understand how time goes so fast.

life love stars

when loved ones return to the stars


For the last three months, I’ve been visiting a woman with Alzheimer’s. Every Wednesday, we’d sit at her table, watch Today, drink coffee, and talk about the same things over and over – where she grew up, her kids, her grandkids, her sparkly purple sweater, the garden, the white car across the street, going to school. I’d ask her how old she was and she’d say, “old enough,” and we’d laugh.

My job as a hospice volunteer is just to provide company and friendship to patients. I don’t take care of them, feed them or give them medicine. I don’t have any sort of medical certificate. I’m just supposed to provide company for those who may leave this life soon.

This morning, I found out this cute woman I’ve visited for the last little while has moved on to join the stars, to hopefully shine her light on her family and friends she’s left behind. Over the last few months, I’ve gotten to know her sweet husband who walked her down the aisle 60 years ago. They were two kids in love – she was young enough at 19 or 20 that state law required her to get her parents’ permission to marry. And they’ve been together ever since, living in different states out east, volunteering at their church and raising their family.

Her husband told me he asks God why he’s still here, living in his 80s. Then he’d point to his wife and say, “I’m here for her.”

It breaks my heart to think of this man alone now – a man who told me just last week his house felt too empty when his wife moved into an assisted living facility a few days before. She didn’t have the highest quality of life anymore and would sometimes do things that confuse those of us who have more control over our minds. But I wonder what it must feel like to have the love of your life – 60 years of your life – gone overnight.

The last few years, death has started to enter my life. I realize the longer I live, the more I’ll experience it, but it’s not easy. Losing my hospice patients affects me differently than losing other people in my life, or learning the tragic stories of lives ended too short. But with every death, there is a little heart ache, a little confusion, and wonder at how someone can be here one day and not the next.

If I get to be with my husband for 60 years, I’ll consider myself one of the luckiest women in the world. But as I’ve seen with hospice patients and my grandparents – it doesn’t matter how long you live; it always seems too short.

A little over a month ago, a friend and I were emailing each other about how hard death can be after we learned our college professor’s wife died at age 58, after battling an illness that took her away. We both said death is so hard and surprising and shocking every time.

Life is so strange. It’s long and it’s short. And it’s hard when you’re the one living. It’s like in the last Harry Potter movie when Dumblerdore says, “Do not pity the dead, Harry, pity the living. Above all, pity those who live without love.”

I think the only good thing about acknowledging death is that is makes you live life more fully because you realize nothing is for certain, not even tomorrow. And some days that helps me put things in better perspective. But most days, I’m not to the point of feeling that comfortable with it. Mostly I just fear it. And instead of worrying about me dying, which would probably be the most beneficial because then I’d really make sure to take advantage of every moment, I worry about losing the ones I love.

I also wonder if it’s hard for the one who dies. Wouldn’t that person miss the same things? Wouldn’t that person hate leaving families and friends behind knowing they are suffering? 

And when I think of my problems, I think they are so small. Really, people are dying everywhere, every moment, and people are crying over them. Since I work in news, I read all these stories of children and young people dying. I read about those who die in the most horrific ways. And then there are wars and there’s sickness and it’s all over the world and if I think about it too long, it’s too overwhelming.

I do believe there is a God and that he watches over everyone before, during and after this life. I do believe there is something wonderful after this life, too. I’ve never blamed God for anything, but that doesn’t mean I understand why some people leave the earth early, either. And I really do believe death can teach us how to live. But all the other parts in between can be very agonizing and painful. I think maybe death helps us look out for each other, which is a silver lining.

When my friend and I were emailing, I stumbled across this quote from the book “Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid,” by Lemony Snicket. I think it’s fitting.

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”

I’m so thankful for this life – for its twists and turns, and mostly for the love within it. The beautiful thing about love is it lasts beyond life. It can live anywhere – in  the sun, in warm summer breezes, in those moments when our hearts are so full they feel like they are going to explode. Love is in the sky and in the stars that remind us of heaven. It’s in the faces of our family members, friends and even strangers. It’s in life and in death.

Though I don’t know if there’s anything more difficult to handle or understand than losing those we care for, maybe love is the point of all of it.


little lovely february

collage copy

Here are a few of my little lovely stars for February. What are yours?

  • The Super Bowl was spent with good friends and food.
  • The Southwest Dharma Celebration took place in Albuquerque for Travis’ tradition (New Kadampa). I learned more about Tara, who is one of the female Buddhas. I love the female Buddhas!
  • It’s been a month full of sun and 50- to 70-degree weather. Can you believe it?! Seventy degrees in February!
  • Valentine’s Day turned into a whole weekend full of hiking, ice skating, a tram ride, dinner on top of the mountain and a good, new movie at home.
  • I went to a Galentine’s Day brunch with some lovely ladies.
  • A new hairdo for me finally happened.
  • Graphic design classes have been filling my extra time.
  • I’m exercising six days a week!
  • We saw the “Lego Movie” and I laughed my guts out.
  • February meant trying three new restaurants! This Mediterranean place called Cafe Istanbul that my friend showed me is to die for. The coffee and huevos rancheros at The Shop are lovely. And the blackberry French toast with delicious creamy stuff on top was divine at The Grove.
  • I loved hanging out with a friend from Utah who came down to cover the UNM/USU basketball game. We went hiking, out to eat and talked for hours.
  • One item on my bucket list is completed!
beauty clouds life love

i see her in the clouds


The morning after my grandma died last October, the sun turned the clouds the most brilliant orange I’ve ever seen. There was also lavender and grayish blues and golden yellows. I’d never seen a sunrise like it. It was like God and my grandma were telling me everything was going to be OK – that even though I’d lost one of the best people I’ll ever know, there was more beauty to come, and someone was watching over me.

I wouldn’t have seen that sunrise had I not asked the pilot who flies our station’s helicopter if I could have a ride that day. It was during the week of Albuquerque’s annual Balloon Fiesta and our station was taking aerial video of the launches every day that week. I wouldn’t be flying to Utah for the funeral for a couple more days and decided I couldn’t miss this opportunity.

I had to get up crazy early, when the night was still in charge, and drive to the airport in the dark. The pilot would take three of us up that morning and as we waited for him to get everything ready, we walked outside the garage where the helicopter was parked and began to see amazing views of the sun rising behind the mountains. I felt so thankful to be there, to have this incredible moment the day after I fell apart making pumpkin pie in an effort to keep it together.

We got to ride in the helicopter for a couple hours and the views were incredible – hundreds of balloons in 1,000 colors rising and falling near the Rio Grande, green trees covering the ground to the west, the Sandia mountains in shades of purple to the east. I kept thinking through it all that this ride was for my grandma – I only wished she could see it.


About a month ago, my husband and I drove to the airport in the early hours of the morning so he could fly out east for a work conference. The sky was similar to that day in October and I kept looking behind us as Travis steered us to the freeway. Once we were on I-25, I had a good view to my left and some of the same thankful feelings I had in October returned.

I see my grandma in the clouds now. Sometimes I miss her so much it hurts. There have been days lately where I long to call her and catch up – to hear her say, “Well, hello sweetheart, how are you?” I wish I could hear her wit, get her to tell me all the family secrets and just talk about the day.

But sometimes, I see her in the clouds – in sunrises and sunsets. In the oranges and pinks and yellows. And I know she’s there. Somewhere.




bucket lists

bucket list copy2

When I was 19 years old, my friend inspired me to make a bucket list. We stayed up late one night decorating yellow pieces of paper with markers and glitter and writing down all our dreams. Go on an African Safari. Put my feet in the Atlantic Ocean. See New York. Eat a large pizza by myself.

That last goal was inspired by my friend … and we did it … miserably.

I had that bucket list for a long time, but I have no idea where it is now. Since then, I’m not sure I’ve made another official life-long list, but I’ve definitely made lists – usually in the summers, when I wanted to make sure I attended concerts and fairs, went to lakes and climbed mountains. Before I moved a year and a half ago, I had a whole list of things I needed to do. Among a bunch of other things, I needed to hike the Wellsvilles, see the play “Big River” at a local theater, float the Oneida Narrows in Idaho, go the The Famous Preston Night Rodeo, run the Logan Half Marathon one more time and plan a going-away fiesta for myself.

For half a dozen years or so, I also made a list at the end of each year of five things I needed to do that I hadn’t done before in lieu of New Year’s resolutions. I learned to sew blankets and purses, I went to Oregon, Hawaii and Florida, I took my first Illustrator class, got my first professional massage and bought my first pair of stilettos.

What I’ve learned about making these lists is they make my life more fun. They give me goals to buy plane tickets, to see new places, to experience new things, to read new books.

When we make lists such as these, we’re also giving ourselves hope. There’s hope that we will have at least one more day to look forward to. When we make life-long bucket lists, we’re hoping we have years ahead of us filled with happiness, love and adventure. We’re hoping amazing things will happen to us, and maybe if we’re really lucky, we’ll create amazing things.

I started a new bucket list a while ago. I put it in a place I can add to it easily when I think of more things, because a bucket list should never really be completed. And now I’m going to share it with you in its current state, but I’m also going to make a page for it on this blog where I can cross adventures off as I go, and add more as I think of them.

And my idea for you? Make your own bucket list if you don’t have one! And share it with me! I’d love to see it. Maybe we can inspire each other and share the same dreams and hope. For now, here’s mine:

  • Travel to France, Germany, Spain, England, Iceland, Peru, Italy, Ireland … and more!
  • Go skydiving
  • Complete a P90X program
  • Write and publish a book
  • Start my own business
  • Learn web design
  • Go ice skating in New York
  • Tour the National Cathedral
  • See Mount Vernon
  • Pick a pumpkin from a pumpkin patch
  • Hike or bike a volcano
  • Get a Brazilian wax
  • Run the Bear Gutsman in Utah with my family
  • Travel someplace exotic for Christmas
  • Do service on Christmas (soup kitchen, travel and give toys, visit hospital)
  • Hike to Havasupai Falls
  • See “Wicked” on stage
  • Live in a place where I can have a dog
  • Have a baby (or two, or three)
  • Go to Glacier National Park
  • Read “Les Miserables”
  • Get on the Ellen show with Linda
  • Take guitar lessons
  • Do the splits
  • Run another marathon
  • Buy a cocktail dress and have a reason (or 10 reasons) to wear it
  • Have a party with those flying paper lanterns
  • Take ice skating lessons
  • Go rock climbing outside
  • Go to The Wave in Southern Utah/Arizona
  • Hike Angels Landing and the Narrows in Zion’s National Park
  • Do some hiking in the Tetons

New Mexico Bucket List

  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • White Sands National Monument
  • Roswell UFO Museum
  • River Rafting in Taos area
  • Skiing
  • Hot springs in Jemez Mountains
  • Camping
  • Go to a Lobos basketball game
  • Ride in a hot air balloon with Travis
love stars

love from mars and stars

A friend at work showed me these Valentine’s Day images from NASA’s Instagram page today and I couldn’t help but sharing. After all, this is my stars blog, right?

These photos are so fun and beautiful. It’s amazing how we can see love all around us, sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident, sometimes in nature, and sometimes written in the stars or on another planet. It’s everywhere!

Enjoy! The captions are from the Instagram page as well.

NASA Mars Hearts

#NASALove from the Red Planet: Mars is red, so don’t be blue. Hearts abound from us to you! From the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) team, this collection of images acquired over 3 Mars years shows some of the heart-shaped features found on Mars by the team.

NASA Cosmic Rose

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s #NASALove to celebrate – like this cosmic rose from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer captured in 2004 with its infrared eyes a pink and green rose-like picture of a cluster of newborn stars known as a nebula. “The picture is more than just pretty,” said Dr. Thomas Megeath, principal investigator for the latest observations and an astronomer at the HarvardSmithsonianCenter for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. “It helps us understand how stars form in the crowded environments of stellar nurseries.” Located 3,330 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus and spanning 10 light-years across, the rosebud-shaped nebula, numbered NGC 7129, is home to some 130 young stars. Our own Sun is believed to have grown up in a similar family setting.

NASA Heart Cloud

A Valentine’s Day Mystery! Our Chandra Observatory sees a heart in the darkness – This young star cluster NGC 346 highlights a heart-shaped cloud of 8 million-degree Celsius gas in the central region. Evidence from radio, optical and ultraviolet telescopes suggests that the hot cloud, which is about 100 light years across, is the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred thousands of years ago.

friendship love

valentine’s day

valentine's day

I wrote the following post two years ago. I still feel the same.

In 2011, I went through a breakup two weeks before Valentine’s Day and while I wasn’t concerned about being single on the holiday (in fact, I was really into doing things alone around that time), my friend made sure I was going to have a good night. She told me for at least a week that she had a big surprise for me, and it wouldn’t be a blind date. At work she would come up to my desk every morning and tell me how excited she was to give me my gift. That night, I went to her house to watch “The Bachelor” and after I was there for a half hour or so, a girl came to the door with a massage table in hand. My friend had set up a private, hour-long massage for me at her house. The girl took the table into the dining room where everything was closed off, dimmed the lights and turned on music. It was so relaxing during a stressful time in my life. My friend was so kind to do that for me and at that point in my life, I honestly think it was the most thoughtful thing anyone had ever done for me on Valentine’s Day.

I’ve always had a little bit of a thing for Valentine’s Day. It probably stems from my childhood when my parents and teachers made the holiday fun. It wasn’t about being in a relationship then; it was about friendship and family and making boxes at school for valentines and candy. In junior high, Valentine’s Day became about getting balloons from secret admirers at school. I know I got one in seventh grade (which was also the same day I broke up with my first little “boyfriend,” but I don’t think the balloon was from him).

In high school, I made fudge for my friends one year, but it didn’t set up right. For some reason I packaged little bits of it in cellophane anyway and handed them out with a spoken disclaimer. I knew the fudge looked like poop, but I promised the gooey, chocolatey mixture still tasted good. Um … I hope they agreed. I remember one kid literally licking it off the plastic and getting chocolate all over his face. That’s how messy it was.

I had a friend back then who wrote me a whole Valentine’s Day story one year on 3X5 cards during one of her classes. It was so funny with illustrations and all.

My freshman year of college my roommates and I went to dinner together. The following few years I had a boyfriend who made the holiday fun.

I’ve never thought Valentine’s Day had to revolve around a relationship. I think it can be all about celebrating friendship, too. That’s a kind of love, right? My cousin wrote on Facebook the other day that she’d just finished making her valentines. She followed with, “Celebrating love and friendship just makes me happy!” I love that.

I once had a friend who told me his sister, who was single, bought a Valentine’s present for her dog and I think that’s cute. If no one is going to make the holiday about you, it can be just as fun to make it about someone else, including your pet.

A couple years ago, my friend hosted a party called “Violent Times” right around Valentine’s Day. It was possibly one of the most awesome parties I’ve been to because it was creative and everyone there was super funny. We played Pin the Weapon on the Broken Heart (making weapons out of construction paper), Spin the Broken Bottle (where you had to either physically or verbally assault people instead of kissing them) and read emo poetry over candlelight. Believe me, it really was awesome.

I guess I’m writing this because I know a lot of people don’t like the holiday. They see it as a mandatory day to show love and spend money, they think it’s meaningless, or they feel like the universe is shouting “You’re single!” one day a year. But I think if people look around, many of them will see they’re really not alone, that friendship can mean just as much or more than any relationship, and we all have the opportunity to give, even if no one gives back to us. I’m not writing this to change anyone’s mind or to say everyone has to celebrate the February day of love. More so, I wanted to point out celebrating love and friendship is always a good idea and there are many ways to do that, even without a significant other.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours, whoever they may be.


a happy song list for wednesday


It’s Wednesday, which is pretty much the longest day of the week if you ask me. My scheduled changed from Sunday through Thursday to Monday through Friday and for some reason, the week seems longer now. Don’t get me wrong, I do like having Saturdays and Sundays off with my husband, and I really liked that I didn’t have to miss this year’s Super Bowl party. But Wednesdays used to feel like the end of the week and now they feel very, very much in the middle of the five-day stretch and they no longer make me as happy as they used to.

So, in case your Wednesday is going about like mine, I’m going to fill you in on my happy song list. On my lunch break tonight, I went outside to move my car into our gated parking lot, and when I turned on the ignition, the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” song came on. It made my day. It always, always does. I belted it all the way around the block. If I’m not currently listening to a book, I’m usually listening to our wedding mix which, yes, has Spice Girls on it. On drives with the wedding mix, I may just listen to that song 10 times in a row some days. Ridiculous, I know.

Or I may listen to these songs over and over:

  • “I’ve Got the Magic in Me,” by B.O.B.
  • “San Francisco” by the Mowgli’s
  • “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy,” by Big & Rich
  • “Goodbye Earl,” by the Dixie Chicks
  • “More Today Than Yesterday,” by Spiral Staircase
  • “Wonderful Day,” by O.A.R.
  • “To Be With You,” by Mr. Big
  • “Call Me Maybe,” by Carly Ray Jepsen
  • “Something Like That,” by Tim McGraw
  • “Suds in a Bucket,” by Sara Evans

So, in case you needed a new mix today, or on some other long day, those songs are my suggestions.

Happy Wednesday, all! Let’s all make it to Friday!


my thoughts on 30


In seven months from today, I’m going to reach the age every 20-something is supposed to dread … 30. But you know what? I don’t want to dread it. Thirty is way too young to start thinking our lives are over. I want to celebrate! I want to go skydiving, have a party and maybe go to the Blake Shelton concert that will be in town a couple days before the big day.

A while ago, while watching the Today Show, I heard about the book “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.” And even though I knew it might be fluffy, I vowed to read it. Months went by and maybe even a year, until a couple days ago when I figured now was better than ever in case there was anything on that list I needed to accomplish by Sept. 6 … before it was too late.

But you know what I loved about this book? It didn’t make 30 seem like the ultimate deadline. In fact, Katie Couric mentions in one of the chapters that if you don’t have everything you imagined by age 30, don’t sweat it. She didn’t get her dream job, meet her husband or have kids until a few years after that. The book was overall very positive about women of all ages and it made me think of life as more of an entire journey that shouldn’t be limited to age deadlines. I would recommend this book to any woman, no matter her age.

I know there were certain birthdays where the number sounded old to my young, immature mind, but I’ve never actually felt old (and why should I, right?). Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been too concerned with numbers for the most part. Yes, it seems a little crazy I’m entering my fourth decade soon, but mostly because time goes so quickly, not because I don’t want to reach it.

I worry about those silly things many of us worry about … wrinkles, gaining weight, graying hair, slowing down … but deep down inside me, I know that I shouldn’t. And those things should not be attached to one number like 30, which is an extremely vibrant age in the grand scheme of things.

A while ago, my friend shared this image on Facebook:

Do Not Regret Growing Older


I fell in love with it. What greater blessing do we have than to grow old and experience life?

In the “Thirty Things” book,  the list contains all kinds of things to have and know from what it’s like to live by yourself, to owning tools and a black lace bra. The book suggests knowing how to fall in love without losing yourself, when to try harder and when to walk away, and to own at least one piece of furniture that never belonged to a member of your family.

But the book also says you should find out why they say life begins at 30.

I’ve had a wonderful time “growing up,” whatever that means, but there is so much to look forward to. Once upon a time when I was 19, I really dreamed I’d publish a book by the time I turned 30. Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but I guess that’s one more thing I have to look forward to! That, along with establishing my new little family, maybe buying a house, maybe having a kid or three and a dog. I’ve got places to see – like Peru and Iceland and Germany and … Montana! I’ve got so much more living and laughing and loving to do!

So, here’s to the last seven months of my 20s. I think they’re going to be pretty great. And here’s to the years after which will hopefully only get better and better.


desert snow

There’s a certain excitement during the first few storms of the season. It’s beautiful untouched at night and on early mornings. I love the way it can glow at night and shine during the day.

We hadn’t seen snow in Albuquerque for more than a month, but it finally decided to give us a little show this week. I don’t love snow and I don’t miss Utah winters, but I had to admit to myself yesterday that it sure was beautiful the way it covered the mountains and draped some cacti a short drive away from our apartment. It looked lovely on the bare trees against the sky. And though I don’t love snow as a whole, I do love moments with snow, and this was one of those moments.

I’d actually just had a pretty frustrating encounter during a morning errand before I shot these photos. But I suppose if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have went on this drive. I just couldn’t resist after seeing how gorgeous it looked. I probably would have been in bed! And since snow doesn’t last long here, I would have missed such a beautiful morning. So, you know. It’s the little things in life that make it wonderful.