friendship laughter life love

girlfriends are the greatest

During good times and bad my girlfriends have always seen me through and helped me along the way – so this post is for them. It’s impossible for me to share every memory because there are millions and I know I’m bound to leave some girls out on accident. Some pictures of my friends aren’t easily accessible either, so just know I’m thankful for every childhood, teenage, college and grown up (whatever that means) friend who made me laugh until I cried, dressed up with me, sang with me in the car, planned parties and trips with me, shared sorrows and big dreams with me under the stars, worked with me, had sleepovers with me, got in trouble with me, saw me sloppy, danced through the night, and so much more.

Thank you.

With all my heart, thank you.

You are some of the main people making this journey through life fun, exciting, bearable, interesting and inspiring. Tonight I want to share why I love you.

You view the world as something beautiful and you want to see it with me.


You know all we need is a cotton candy maker to ensure a day we’ll never forget.


You were there during the months and moments that changed our lives.


You sat with me when I was the only person older than 4 who wanted to hold a bunny.


You partied hard with me on my 21st birthday.


You dressed to match on accident.


Or on purpose.


You laugh with me until our guts hurt.


You show up on the big days and bad days – and often in a group.


You think wandering around New York City with the sole purpose of eating can be the greatest thing.


You did’t even have to be human to make me happy.


You have dress-like-a-wizard parties with me.


And wear-your-biggest-sleeves parties with me.


And see-who-looks-the-funniest-in-a-Christmas-sweater parties with me.


You taught me that life is an adventure and I still believe it 9 years later.


You saved our umbrella at a baseball game.


You visited me in the desert.


You traveled to one of the most exotic places with me.


You’ve been in my life since the 4th grade (or younger!)


You made sure my dress laid right on my wedding day.


You’ve been happy for me.


You danced to “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” with me – in fancy clothes.


You dressed up in ’80s attire because that’s what I wanted for my 30th birthday.


You inspired me to try new things, whether it be ice skating lessons or something else just as fun.


You know I’m ridiculous and often reciprocate that.


You agreed to make a pyramid for me because I was moving away, even though you probably thought I was crazy.


You take feet pictures with me in all the places we go.


You’ve been to the most epic of concerts with me.


You put on mustaches because, who knows why?


You agree to a hug even when you don’t want to (or you just hold your arms out until it’s over).


You get really into karaoke.


You’ve listened to every thought in my brain for years.


You stayed with me on the green runs when everyone else skied better.


You make biking and “Bachelor” plans with me every week.


You text me pictures that make me smile.


You do girly things when my husband won’t want to – like going to the ballet.


And when tragedy struck, you licked the tears off my face while I laid in bed wondering what happened.


You gathered around me during that tragedy, too, in many different ways both near and far. A couple of you came over that night to hold my hand, cry, and agree to watch our cat because we had to leave town. We barely knew you and you did it anyway.


Some of you who I hadn’t seen in years offered to do anything – including picking me from the airport if I needed it. You came to the viewing or funeral (or both), and sent cards, flowers and text messages from states away.



You send me cards and necklaces in the mail that lift my heart.


You’ve remained by my side while life is blurry.


And you know the next time I see you, it’s possible we’ll look like this again no matter what is going on in our lives.


beauty hearts life love

the heart hunt

It was Thanksgiving 2012 and Travis, my mother-in-law and I were in the kitchen slicing mushrooms, mixing up green bean casserole and peeling potatoes when we came across this:

Heart potato

A heart potato.

My mother-in-law started telling us how my sister-in-law, Nikki, loves natural objects shaped as hearts, so we took a picture and sent it her way. After that, Nikki got me looking for hearts and whenever I come across them while walking down the street, driving in my car, or in photos people share, I always think of her. I even think of her when the heart is un-natural, such as in the shape of a cookie. I’ve come to love hearts, not just for my sister-in-law, but for myself. It’s a game I like to play.

A while ago, Nikki sent Travis and me a wooden plate where we could collect rock hearts we find on trips and trails. Her family loves to find and keep them, each with memories attached. I love this idea, and I try to find them every time we’re hiking. What I’ve found, however, is often times the hearts I see are much too big for my pockets, so I take pictures. I’m starting to see them a lot more often now, not only in rocks, but in cactuses, shadows and other unexpected places.

Since it’s valentine’s weekend, I want to share a few with you and their stories.

Way back in September 2013, Travis and I were on our way home from our wedding weekend in Utah. We’d spent a few days hiking around the orange arches in Moab, then drove back to Albuquerque. At some point, clouds began to gather and we ended up in a rainstorm. But before that happened, some of those clouds cast this shadow:

Heart shadow

Travis noticed it first, and said it looked like a heart with an arrow going through it. It’s the biggest heart I’ve captured these last few years, and it’s so fitting we saw it right after our wedding.

During our honeymoon in Portugal a couple months later, we loved walking down the cobblestone roads in Cascais. It was a beautiful city with beaches, ocean views and quaint little restaurants. On one of those walks, we came across some broken cobblestone, perfectly shaped as a heart.

Heart cobblestone

On that same trip, I tried desserts at every bakery I could, and wouldn’t you know that one my favorite purchases was a simple black-and-white heart cookie.

Heart cookie

Heart cookie

Now we’ll skip ahead to last summer when Travis was in Utah for a week for work. He was able to watch an air show with his mom and snapped a photo of the smoke one of the planes left behind while twisting and turning through the sky. I loved this so much.

Heart clouds

In July of last year, my parents came to visit and we took them on a day-trip drive through the Jemez Mountains and Los Alamos. We did a short hike to a waterfall, and a long walk around White Rock Canyon Rim where I told everyone to be on the lookout for heart rocks. Well, look who found one:

White Rock Canyon Rim rock

A little more than a month later during our first wedding anniversary weekend, Travis and I hiked La Luz, which is our favorite trail in Albuquerque. We were on the trail for 16 miles that day and it was hard, but fun, and we came across this:

La Luz Heart

A week or so after that, Travis and I made our way to Montana to see Glacier National Park. It was one of the most amazing and beautiful places I’ve seen, and during that trip, we came across a couple more lovely hearts. I couldn’t believe the one we saw in the water. It was absolutely perfect.

Glacier National Monument Heart

Glacier National Monument Heart

Then in November, we spent an early Thanksgiving with Travis’ parents in Arizona and during that weekend, we went to the Desert Botanic gardens where they have cactus after cactus after cactus. Lucky for us, my mother-in-law spotted this prickly gem:

Heart cactus

Most recently, I had a friend from Utah who was in Albuquerque for work and I took him to the Sandia Crest so he could see the view. We went on a short hike on the top of the mountain and found a couple more hearts in the middle of the trees and snow.

Crest Heart

Crest Heart

The last two hearts were especially meaningful to me because I try to see my dad everywhere. I had to wonder if he’d remembered that day last July when he and my mom went heart rock hunting for me. Maybe he left a sign for me last weekend in the snow that also kind of looks like Mickey Mouse. I have to believe my dad is looking out for me and that he’s somewhere his spirit can see us. If I don’t believe that, I have nothing.

Love is everywhere. I know that. Sometimes it’s small enough to fit in our pockets and sometimes it’s too big for us to handle. Usually it’s in places that aren’t tangible, like when it’s more of a feeling than anything else. Sometimes it’s a shadow or a rainbow or a song – all things we can never physically feel, but we can see or hear. Sometimes it’s in things we can touch, like our friends, our family and even food, rocks, cactuses and clouds. Even when it’s far away – like in a shooting star my mom saw the other day – it can still feel close because we can see it and feel it make its way inside us. Perhaps that’s the most magical thing about love. It has countless forms and it’s in infinite places. It’s common ground, and it brings us together.

life love

christmas and lucky boots


This past Christmas, my dad did a lot of the shopping, and he did it early. This was pretty amazing because my parents were always a bit last minute with at least a few things for the holiday, but this year, everything was taken care of, and much of it was done my my dad himself.

He’d picked out two toys for every grandchild and had them wrapped and under a Candyland-themed tree he and my mom picked out this year. That was one of the best Christmas presents he shared with the family, and it was chosen specifically for the kids. It’s really such a beautiful tree all covered in white with bright-colored lights and candy-shaped ornaments. Sometimes we could hear all five of the grandkids gathered around the tree feeling and looking at the gifts, and wondering what they were. On Christmas Eve, Macie and Madison fell asleep in its light on the floor, visions of sugarplums literally dancing above their heads.




My dad had also purchased surprises for my mom and placed them under the tree the morning he left this world. There was a note on one of the gifts we’d find a few days later that was so kind and fun it made us all cry. He’d also surfed through Amazon and chose most of his own presents because he was probably so excited about many things like usual. All of the gifts for me and Travis had been purchased, wrapped and sent to us, so when we left for Utah unexpectedly on Dec. 17, we put them in our suitcases so we could open them there. We took everything with us except for a present for Stella which we opened early. We found out my dad picked that one out, too.

I tell ya, my dad loved Christmas, and he really loved surprises.

On Christmas morning, my sisters-in-law and I all got a pair of boots – picked out specifically for each of us by him. My mom said when they went shopping for those, my dad had her sit down and he’d go around and choose the boots and have her try them on. The pair he picked for me was perfect – I loved them right away, but they were just a half size too big. Before Travis and I left Utah, we went with my mom to exchange them, but since Macy’s didn’t have any in stock that day, the cashier said they could be shipped to our home. That seemed like the easiest thing anyway, so we made the exchange and I think Travis and I flew back to New Mexico that night.

The boots arrived a couple days after we got back from Disneyland, and for some reason, I didn’t open them for days. I had a hard time doing a lot of things that week. I think a part of me felt sad about opening my last Christmas present from my dad, even though I already knew what it was. I think another part of me was just lazy, and it was hard to do normal things, even when it came to opening packages in the mail.

Over the last few weeks, there have been frequent reminders that my dad left a lot of fun lasts for us. For me, there are those boots and I wear them regularly now. They were on my feet the morning “Take it Easy” came on the radio, which I remember being a really good day. I also wore them last Wednesday when I was hoping for some good luck.

While biking, I’ve put on the outfit I got for Christmas that he and my mom picked out together for me, and pretty soon, we’re going to put a ride tracker on Travis’ bike – also chosen by my dad.

Just yesterday, we also had a dining room table delivered. We purchased it using money my parents gave us for our wedding. We’d saved that money for more than a year, always with the intention of getting a real dining room set once we bought a house. I’m sure my dad would love hearing that we’ll no longer have to use a card table and folding chairs for every meal, even though it didn’t ever seem like he minded when he came to visit in October.

From here, I don’t know if there will be any more tangible gifts from him, but maybe I’ll be surprised. It’s possible we might come across things here and there for a while, and I’m pretty sure he sent the missionaries to my house last week.

Now I watch for my dad in the sky. I look for him in the moments I get to see sunsets and the moon. I feel watched over when something lucky happens. The last few days have been hopeful, and I’m happy for that.



life love

take it easy


My coworker told me the other day she’d give me a reason not to hate pennies. She’d just tried to trade me a bunch for a dime, and I told her to keep them because they’d just clog up my wallet. Then she told me about her sweet sister-in law who died a year and a half ago and how lately her daughters have been finding pennies all over the place, and they’ve been wondering if they’re from their aunt. Now every time they find one, they think of her and wonder if maybe it’s on purpose. My coworker had five lined up on her desk and found another one over this last weekend.

I love things like that. It’s nice thinking some of the little things, big things and unexpected things happen on purpose, and that maybe there’s an angel you know who’s making them happen.

A few weeks ago, my friend pointed me to the blog Baby Boy Bakery, written by a woman who lost her 3-year-old in some kind of accident last May. Even though our losses are different, when she writes about them, they seem similar to me. Her son loved Disney and Mickey, and some of the ways she explains grief are just exactly how I feel. She also has a beautiful Instagram account that I started following, and I love how she finds ways to see and feel her son in ordinary things – in pancakes, in red shoes, in Mickey stickers found randomly on the ground, in the sun that sometimes leaves rays in her photographs.

She wrote a post about going to an Angels game after her son died and how it was fun, but painful – then she wrote something that’s stuck with me. “We enjoyed taking Ryan last year and we enjoyed taking him now. We carry our son in our hearts everywhere we go…with and with out Ryan.”

I guess it hadn’t quite clicked with me at that point that I could carry my dad with me everywhere I go. I had looked for him in external ways – in nature and moments where I thought he’d think something was funny. I wondered if I’d somehow actually feel him, but that hasn’t happened in a way I imagined. But when I read her post, I realized taking him with me could be my choice – he could be right in my heart and then I wouldn’t have too look for him anywhere else.

Then last Thursday happened, and this little miracle occurred on my way to work one morning. I had a lot on my mind during that early hour, and I drove to work in the dark as always, but without music on which rarely ever happens. I said some prayers while I drove, then sat in the silence for a few minutes before turning on the radio which happened to be playing “Take it Easy,” a song that reminds me of my dad because he liked the Eagles, and one that we used in his video at the viewing.

It was unexpected, and it put a big smile on my face. It felt like it was on purpose, and I don’t always feel that way. It was perfect for my troubled soul in that moment. Ironically enough it came on while I was driving home from work the next day, too. I’m pretty sure my dad really wants me to take it easy. I’m pretty sure he’s with me more than I think sometimes.

Take It easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy