parting ways with news


On Friday, I turned in my badge and walked for the last time out of the news station I’ve been working at for nearly two years. I then made my way to my car and started driving when I noticed the station’s sign in the rearview mirror and got out to take one last picture. It was a cloudless, sunny day as I drove past the building, made two left turns, then a right and passed a line of downtown adobe homes with their white-blossom trees.

As I got closer to the southbound freeway entrance, I ended up behind one of the station’s live trucks. I have no idea where the driver was headed; I missed the conversation as I gathered the items from my desk, got an extra slice of “Best Wishes” cake to take home and told my boss and coworkers goodbye. It no longer mattered if I knew where that truck was going, though, at least job-wise. If it had been a breaking news situation and I was on the clock, I would have wanted to know where it was going and who was driving so I could anticipate photos coming to my email. I would have added them to the story or created a gallery. If it wasn’t a breaking news situation (which it wasn’t), I would have been anticipating a web story from the reporter within a couple hours. But soon after the truck and I entered the freeway, we would part ways. The station would keep on going, and I’d start moving for the first time since high school away from working in journalism.

It was a strange feeling leaving that day. I’d been anticipating it for a while and knew months ago the news business was no longer for me. While I know there will be some aspects I will miss, and I’ll always be thankful for my experiences and all the people I met, I need to do something that doesn’t leave me wishing more for the human race every day in a way that is almost painful sometimes. I went into journalism because I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to make a difference, and I wanted to tell the good stories. I learned early on that I most enjoyed writing feature stories and designing newspaper pages, but since moving to TV and becoming a web producer I have written, edited and published more sad, scary and tragic stories than I can count and my heart was beginning to crack.

On the way home on my last day, I listened to the song “Time” by the Mowgli’s which I heard for the first time earlier this week. It seemed to fit all the things I’ve been feeling the last months.

“I can’t stand working all day
work is wearing out my soul
I think I’ll go out tonight
and I will call in sick tomorrow
I get so down about this world sometimes
I cannot understand people, no not at all
But, I hope to see a change in man
I hope to see us love one another
And I know we can”

This song stood out to me immediately the first time I heard it because it’s positive and negative which is how I’ve been feeling for a while now. I felt like I haven’t been the best “me.” I can’t blame this on the things I read and covered in news, and I can’t blame it on my job. There are too many reasons that make people who they are and there are things I struggle with that have nothing to do with either of those things. I do know, though, that working in hard news versus the features section in a city with higher crime than where I used to live changed my perspective about countless things. It forced me to see suffering in ways I’d ignored before. In order to remain positive, I can’t take in as many terrible stories anymore because I don’t know what to do with them. I tend to harbor and stew over them in a way that is probably unhealthy.

Last weekend, I went to a Garth Brooks concert with a friend in Denver which was extraordinary. We had so much fun seeing and singing with this fabulous country legend that made songs like “The Thunder Rolls,” “The Dance,” and “Standing Outside the Fire” famous. Before he sang one of his newer songs, “People Loving People,” he told the audience that he often watches the news and has to turn it off because it makes him so mad. Then he sang that song which is all about making the world a better place in the most basic of ways – people loving people.

As I leave the news industry, I want to remember that people are good. I want to see us love one another and I know we can. Just last week my station covered a local teacher who made such a wonderful difference in her students’ lives that she was featured on Ellen. The whole thing was so touching I had to fight back the tears. People really are good.

I worked in news professionally for eight years, but if I counted all the years my name appeared in magazines, newspapers and websites, it would add up to about 14. I started writing for a local teen section of a newspaper in high school and wrote for my school’s paper my senior year. Then college began and I quickly joined the features staff and finished as features editor in 2007. From there I wrote for a magazine and newspapers for six years before transitioning into digital content management for a news station. I’m young, but news has been a big part of my life for half my life and there were many, many good stories. Here are a few examples:

• I one got to talk to two women who became friends after one agreed to be the other’s surrogate. It was this amazing story of families coming together to bless one another’s lives for no other reason than compassion.

• I met a woman whose house had burned down and was so inspired by how the community came together to help her family out. They donated clothes, toys and food for months so she and her family didn’t have to feel like they were left with nothing.

• A guide dog once led me around town with his owner so I could see and learn about how he was trained to keep her safe. Seeing teamwork between animals and humans is amazing.

• I sat in a local diner for more than an hour one day and talked with the manager who came from Afghanistan as a college student and worked his way up in the restaurant until he eventually bought it. It had survived for more than 25 years at that time and had become a really special place for some people. He would call the regulars when he knew they were sick and didn’t show up for a few days. He provided a free Thanksgiving dinner for the community every year. He reminded himself that everything in life is temporary so he always tried to remain thankful.

• I met a woman who started the first gay/straight alliance at the college I went to. Her story was not only incredible, but she helped so many students, faculty and families who didn’t have a place to turn to talk about these issues before.

• The woman who was in charge a 24-hour family crisis center told me about how sometimes she didn’t know how she’d get all the bills paid, but that miracles always seemed to happen to keep them afloat. At that time, the center been around for 25 years and every April, they decorated the yards of donors’ homes and businesses with pink flamingoes to remind the community to help end child abuse. Who doesn’t love pink flamingoes?

• Rape victims and their advocates spoke to me when I wanted to do a series on services available to them and the community. I consider everyone who is willing to speak out about this topic – especially the victims – brave beyond measure.

• A nonprofit director told me about how the organization teamed up with a nursery to offer low-income families year-round gardens to help them become a little more self-sufficient. The stories I was told from the families who benefitted were inspiring. Parents were teaching 2-year-olds how to garden and they were so happy with their work.

• I heard the long distance love story of a woman from Norway who fell in love with an American and they made it work and eventually were able to get married and live in the same place. Stories like this later helped me when I was in a long-distance relationship. It really can work, I promise!

• There were the fun and unusual stories. I got to visit graveyards, cabins, fraternities and an old mental health facility that were all known for their alleged hauntings. I got to see how local places made chocolate and ice cream (and the samples weren’t too shabby either). I got to hear the story of how a local coffee shop began and stayed around for decades using the best beans and machines.

The news business treated me well. We are a culture of people who love to hear stories, and for a while, I got to be one of the storytellers. I really learned so much in unexpected ways from unexpected sources. I learned that incredible things happen to ordinary people. I learned that we’re all in this – the good and the bad – together, and we’re all affected by others’ stories.

I’m not going to quit writing. I plan to have my name published again someday. Until then, I’ll contribute to the world in a different way and I’ll be looking for the good.

“When life gets hard
you’ve got to remember who you are
And forget about what people think
just be who you want to be
Don’t you want to see how good life can be?
Let’s make a harmony and life will sing”


beauty life

pink popcorn spring


“… Winter was over and gone with the thrill of delight that spring never fails to bring to the oldest and saddest as well as to the youngest and merriest.”

– Lucy Maud Montgomery

Get ready for a pink explosion.

For weeks now it seems like there is something to take a picture of almost every day because the days leading up to spring were just too beautiful not to save. One day our plum tree decided to bloom with these perfect blush-colored flowers that I couldn’t help but admire against the blue sky. Then two bushes started blooming in our backyard in shades of Barbie pink and lemon yellow, and now we’ve got a small peach tree that decided to burst with cotton candy-like, fluffy petals.

Our tulips in the backyard that my mom sent us last fall for a house warming gift began to make their way through the rocks weeks ago and finally decided to bloom the last couple days. Every time I see them I think of her and my mother-in-law who helped me plant them. Both our mothers are represented in those tulips which is such a lovely thing.

Sometimes when I’m driving home from work, I’m taken away by all those trees that really do look like popcorn has popped on them. When I was really little I learned a song about that in church, but I never knew what the lyrics meant. I mostly just liked the tune and how our leaders taught us to burst our hands open like fireworks while singing “popcorn popping on the apricot tree!”

This spring has made everything feel lighter. I think it’s the warmer weather, sunshine and all those flowers and signs of new life. It does seem strange to move into a new season without my dad here, but in a way, it’s like the world is telling me it’s going to be OK. There is hope in new life springing out of the ground like our tulips out of rocks. There is a happy feeling in the lemon and Barbie blossoms.

Then there have been the clouds. Remember all the hearts I saw in the sky one day? I felt very much like it was an Anne of Green Gables moment. I could imagine her looking for them just as I did, but she would have been talking aloud, imagining and renaming the open space to something like Paths to Divine White Hearts of Hope.

I’ve been watching for heart clouds ever since, but they are much more scarce than I thought. I did see a few on a long drive home from Denver last weekend, but other than that, there haven’t been any when I’ve been watching. It makes me think I witnessed a small miracle that day when they kept appearing over and over.

I’ve been looking for hearts more lately in general, and it seems when they don’t appear for me, they appear for someone else who will take a photo and send it to me. I’ve loved this so much. Those photos brighten my day every time and it makes me think we’re all on this heart hunt together.

I think I’m ready for this spring. It was a long, strange, sad winter. While I don’t know for sure what’s next, I see really hopeful signs that things will be good. I sense that “thrill of delight that spring never fails to bring the oldest and saddest as well as the youngest and merriest.”

Now without further adieu, here are pieces of this beautiful world I’ve been seeing lately.

IMG_20150312_160637 IMG_20150307_103956 20150312_180020 20150312_130411 20150311_111425 20150309_181559SONY DSC SONY DSC20150316_15562120150324_16304920150324_163109

beauty clouds hearts life love

love is in the air

Heart Cloud

There’s just something about Albuquerque clouds. I have never seen them gather the way they do here. Some days they sit on top of the Sandia Mountains for hours creating dramatic views of fluffy gray against the brown and gold desert mountains. On the west side, sometimes they look just like clouds from the “Simpsons” – all puffy and white. I’ve seen them in real life the way they look in a few Georgia O’Keefe paintings, and I’ve witnessed them turn every shade of sunflower, tangerine, grapefruit and lilac, and a few times lately they looked just like pink cotton candy hovering above the city.

I knew yesterday would be a day to spend some time admiring the clouds. They’d been gathering over the mountains for hours, and by the time I got out of work, they were everywhere – white, puffy and moving with the wind. I’d planned to head to a trail near my house and go for a walk, and while driving there I turned to my left and saw a perfect heart-shaped cloud turned on its side. I wanted to take a picture so badly, but my car was in motion and by the time I could have pulled over to stop, that cloud had morphed into a blob. It only took two stoplights for it to change – two stoplights that decided to stay green for me, even though I wanted so bad for them to turn red.

This gave me some hope and an idea, though, that maybe once I got to the trail I’d be able to see other clouds shaped as hearts because they were moving and changing so quickly, and there were so many of them.

I parked my car and started searching immediately. I took a few pictures of the clouds before I saw any more hearts, then started on the path, walking slowly to take them all in. I kept looking behind me and to my sides because that’s where the best clouds were. Directly in front of me they were beginning to gather too closely and they were getting dark like they could rain.

I thought of my dad of course, and as the hearts began to appear for me, I had to wonder if he was messing with the clouds just for me. Can angels do that, I wondered? Could he read my mind? Was he learning the sciences of the sky, the earth, the clouds? It was definitely a nice thought.

I must have seen at least eight hearts within a half hour. I may have stretched my imagination for a few of them, but they were there for me. I decided that afternoon that we see what we want to see. If I hadn’t been looking, I would have missed all the hearts in the sky. For someone else, they wouldn’t have mattered at all. It’s all about perspective, and it’s all about choice. We choose if we see the good, the bad or the lovely. We choose whether or not we see something beyond what is presented to us, and we can choose to believe something bigger than this world is watching out for and making the world a beautiful place. Love is really in the air, we just have to seek it. The best part is when we do, it appears everywhere.

Heart Cloud Heart Cloud

Heart Cloud Heart Cloud Heart Cloud Heart Cloud Heart CloudHeart Cloud

beauty life love

the beauty of grief


The last little while has felt less heavy. While most people would think that is a good thing, it scares me a little. It’s like I don’t want to step farther away from the days when my dad was here, even if that means things will get easier.

I’ve been writing more on my own lately because I want to remember those first days and weeks. It was really hard for me to process on paper or in documents then, and some of the most difficult moments still haven’t found their way out of me yet. I realized the other day that some parts were so heartbreaking that I lived them once and they never came back to my memory until recently. For all I know, some of those moments may never return. Then there are other parts equally as heartbreaking that live in my mind over and over for some reason. I don’t want to forget them because it’s like if I forget the pain, then I’ve forgotten part of my dad, or part of my family. It was the worst time of my life, but I want to remember it anyway. I want to remember both the good and bad things so that I can remind myself what it feels like to be deeply lost, scared and loved.

At the same time, I want to live presently. I don’t think I’ve ever been in denial since this all happened. I always knew the truth of it, even right after my mom spoke those tragic words. I knew there was no going back no matter how hard we wished for it. I knew it was a nightmare I’d never wake up from because I never fell asleep.

For weeks I listened to the same songs over and over – “View from Heaven,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Lullaby,” “Take it Easy,” and “It is Well.” Those songs help me focus for moments at a time on what my loss really is. I’ve taken more pictures of sunrises, sunsets and the moon than ever before. When biking or skiing, I’ve asked for my dad’s help, or I tell myself I am doing those things for him. So far, I don’t think it’s improved my performance, but it helps me stay focused on goals that will help me get better.

I’m slowly reading a book my friend gave me at my dad’s funeral. It’s called “Heartbroken Open” by Kristene Carlson, a woman who lost her husband in a very random, unexpected way. Her book has resonated with me so many times and explained in perfect words exactly how I’ve felt. The following passage stuck with me since I’ve noticed myself looking at nature and situations in ways I never did before:

“The beauty of grief is presence. Grieving is a very individual and layered process. On my better days, I experienced a calm wellbeing. I noticed the skies never looked so beautiful. I could feel Richard’s love all around me. I missed him deeply and the full life together I always thought we would continue to live and share. Yet each step I took, I felt somehow I was stepping more into me. …

It is so ironic how grief has a way of thrusting you into the present. When you are early into it and just surviving the loss of your loved one, it is natural to go into memory where you are most comfortable, just as it is natural to be terrified of your future. I was in such deep pain at the beginning that I found I could only handle the past and the future in small doses. I learned to acclimate to the present moment because that was the only place where I could live with a sense of equilibrium. When the person who is gone was with you so recently, the whiff of physical need is overpowering. I wasn’t ready to factor in a future without Richard.

“So I learned to live in the midline of my life – in the present, just where I was – with my past to my left and my future to my right.

“When you live in the present your mind is not busy. It is a quiet yet brilliantly clear space because it is uncluttered. You’re not thinking of anything you have to do, or distracted by anywhere you have to go; you are not allowing Thought to drift into the past you miss or the future you fear. You are living in alignment with the moment. When grief catches you, you feel the wave as you roll into it. It is a space where you exist, right now, where life finds you, wherever you are. It is a place of safety that is also shared by the adventurous. It is a concentrated state that is known by rock climbers and rafters and skiers and anyone else who puts themselves in dangerous situations. There is a heightened state of awareness when you live presently; you see every crevice, you feel the fold of rock, the iron-gray air, the numinous texture of the physical world. …

For now I would ride the river, understanding that it is a series of flow, of currents, rapids, and calm … Grief was a current I would not fight by trying to swim upstream. I would let it take me wherever it went. I determined to let each moment present itself, and just be with that.”

The present is what I want to feel and see, even though I don’t want to forget the past.  I want my body and mind to feel everything they need to feel. I want to view the world in ways I never have. I want to recognize its beauty in the center of the world’s struggles. I want it to all unfold slowly so I can truly grasp it.