beauty hope life love

a prayer for the world

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky – up, up, up – into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. Well, I’m ready. What am I to say?”
– Anne of Green Gables

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For most of my life, my prayers have been pretty simple. As a child, I was taught to humbly call on God with my arms folded, my head bowed, and my eyes closed. I would thank Him for my blessings – my family, friends, home – and ask him for things I needed and wanted – safety for those I love, and the ability to deal with any troubles I was experiencing at that time. When things are good, my prayers are often repetitive and short unfortunately. Sometimes long periods go by where I don’t formally pray much at all except for in the silence of my mind during stressful moments of the day. I’ve always turned to prayer, and I feel that it works, but I’m not always the best at formally turning to God on a day-to-day basis.

When things get hard, however, I find myself pleading on my knees in the darkness, tears streaming down my cheeks. I might curl up on the floor in the middle of the day, the light flooding through the windows, and pray until the pain subsides a little. Or, like last year during heavy periods of grieving, I would often just try to get through each day with more frequent informal prayers here and there.

Recently, though, I’ve tried to take my prayers to a new level with the goal of reaching outside myself and really thinking about the whole world. I wanted to share this with you because it’s something that’s helping me feel connected to strangers and those who I can’t help in any other way.

When I pray now, I try to reach far beyond the people I know and love. While I still say that I’m thankful for those close to me and ask God to protect them, I want to send love to everyone who is troubled and hurting. I want to send love everywhere in the world no matter what. I truly believe that there is power in our thoughts and that somehow they can transfer from one heart to another. One of the beautiful things about experiencing tragedy and grief is that it opens your eyes to many more ways that others suffer, and it reminds you that every person deserves kindness and grace. I also try and thank God not only for the overall beauty and good things in my life, but their details. This reminds me of all the intricate ways this life is beautiful.

A prayer in which I really try to connect with God and the world goes something like this:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for all that you have given me. For my family and friends. I pray for them and for all those who are suffering in the world. I pray for their safety, for their hopes, dreams, and losses. I pray for those who are hungry, cold, sick, and for those who lack companionship. I pray for those who are lonely, lost, and broken. I pray for those who suffer from depression, anxiety, and any other mental illness. I pray for those who are held captive by others or addictions that they may find their way out of their struggles. I pray for those who are crying today in our city, our country, and in the world. I pray that you will comfort them.

I pray for our world leaders, and that somehow they can work together. I pray for more peace in this world, that wars can end, and that someday we will have no use for weapons. I pray for the candidates running for president in our country – that they will do what’s right for the people, and that collectively, we can choose the best one. I pray for my enemies, and our country’s enemies, that we can somehow find common ground. I pray that those who harm others will someday understand that they are wrong and confused, and that their hearts will be softened. I pray that those who harm themselves will seek help. I pray for those who are victims of violence, and for their family and friends, and that they will feel comfort and love from others.

I also pray for animals – for those that are surviving in terrible weather conditions – the cold, the heat, the wind, the storms. I pray for the animals who feel stressed because they are starving or in danger.

I also want to thank you for the beauty of this earth. For the sunrises and sunsets, for the mountains, tulips, sunflowers and roses. I’m thankful for the pinks and oranges in the sky, for rain, for snow, and for flowing water. I’m thankful for trails created by others that give me a place to hike, run, and ride my bike. I’m thankful for a home, and pray for those without homes that they might find shelter. I’m thankful for the sound of birds, the call of wild geese, and for moments in nature that remind me love is everywhere. I’m thankful for the sound of laughter, for the stars in the night sky, for the sun and signs of warmer weather.

Please help me that I might be more compassionate – that I can see where I can help – that I can worry less about the things I can’t change and focus on the things I can. Please help me where I am weak.

And I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Those are my longer prayers, but they still only take a few minutes. I’m trying to say them more often and continue adding to them so I don’t forget anyone in this world. I still say shorter prayers in my head throughout the day. I pray when things are tricky, if I’m feeling sad, or if someone I know is hoping for good news – a job offer, a promotion, or a positive outcome at the doctor.

In more recent months, I also learned a Buddhist mantra that calls for the help of Tara, a female Buddha who is a representation of compassion and action, a protector who comes to aid and relieve living beings of physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. After learning about Tara and getting advice from a Buddhist teacher, I try to whisper Tara’s mantra three times every whenever I hear police, ambulance and firetruck sirens in hopes those suffering in that situation can be comforted.

“Om tare tuttare ture soha
Om tare tuttare ture soha
Om tare tuttare ture soha”

I often follow up with a short prayer to God as well. I figure it’s not a bad idea to be double-covered by Buddhas and God.

I hope by attempting to pray for everyone and everything more often, there will be a tiny bit more peace in the world and a lot more compassion and gratitude in my soul. As I’ve said many times on this blog before, we’re all in this together after all.

This statue of Tara is about half the size of my thumb and is taped near the clock in my car. She helps remind me to say her mantra or pray when I hear sirens. Tara is known as “the swift one.” On the statue, you’ll notice her right leg is not quite crossed. She is ready to jump up and help when needed.
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deep thoughts and spanish moss


This was my view during our last afternoon in Florida a couple weeks ago. Travis and I were sitting on a bench and I kept staring ahead at these trees, the Spanish Moss dangling from their branches, the pink flowers nestled peacefully in the shade. We were having a pretty deep discussion that began with evolution. I can get on the most random of subjects sometimes. This one started in a garden and continued as we meandered up and down a quaint little street in Winter Park, where people were sipping happy hour wine and cocktails, and snacking on bruschetta, chips and salsa. It was such an unassuming place for such an involved conversation. I tend to process things out loud and Travis is a really good sounding board. He also has really good perspective on things and will offer a lot of good ideas and insight. And he doesn’t judge when these topics seemingly arise out of no where like they did that day in a beautiful garden in Florida. The conversation twisted and turned and included thoughts on where we came from and where, as humans, we are going, until finally it turned into the current state of the world and all its problems, and then somewhat suddenly, I was nearly in tears.

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one in the entire world who believes there is still good in it? That good wins? That love is the answer? That many things are actually better than they used to be despite what we see on the news and hear from many people around us? This is how I felt in that moment, in this garden, while staring at this Spanish Moss. I felt like I needed to be at least one voice in a very loud sea of voices that still believed things could get better.

Of course I am not the only person who believes there is good, love, and beauty in the world. Most people still believe in fairy tales, superheroes, happily ever afters, and that good can overcome evil. If we didn’t believe this, we wouldn’t be flocking to “Star Wars” films, and movies like “Bridge of Spies” wouldn’t be nominated for Best Picture. (Have you seen “Bridge of Spies” by the way? If not, you should. It’s marvelous storytelling about how every life matters, even if that life may be considered a so-called enemy). I would guess that more than 90 percent of the fictional stories we turn to have positive endings. Voldemort loses. The Force continues. Po’s clumsy battles overtake evil (OK, I love “Kung Fu Panda” too). Doesn’t the stories we read and watch, and the endings we hope for, say something about humanity?

However, even if we seek happy endings, I bet you’ve heard the same doom-and-gloom phrases I have throughout my life. Things like, “It’s a sign of the times,” and “The world is going to hell in a hand basket,” and “Back in the good ol’ days.” I used to believe those phrases, and unfortunately, I often still do. But in that Florida garden I couldn’t because believing all of those phrases made me feel like I was giving up on the universe even though it has proven again, and again, and again, that people can forgive, forget, become stronger, love more, create change and present opportunity. If there is no hope, then what is the alternative?

People have been saying the end of the world has been coming for a long, long time – thousands of years probably. And has the world ended yet? The truth is, women in many parts of the world actually have more freedom than they’ve ever had. There is dialogue about some of the toughest subjects concerning all life – even animals. People of various races, religions, backgrounds, and cultures are accepted in ways that they weren’t 10, 20, 30, 100 years ago. Gay people can get married in the U.S. The topic of transgender people and how to support them is actually on the table. These are all really wonderful ways we are coming together in a world that feels incredibly broken and fragile sometimes.

Five or so years ago, I decided to believe that God made us all different for the reason that we have to learn to love. People weren’t meant to grow apart, but they were also meant to be challenged. It would be too easy to love if we were all made the same, and we wouldn’t know our full potential that way. There is something a lot more beautiful in creating truthful, positive, generous, everlasting relationships with others who are not the same as us. There is grace in the way we learn to protect each other, especially those who are more vulnerable. Every single day there are people everywhere who are working to help the underprivileged, the grieving, the lost, the broken.

Sometimes I feel there is very little I can do to help this world. Maybe you feel that way, too. I felt that way in the garden, and I decided I wouldn’t forget that conversation for a long time. I wouldn’t forget that I still have faith in humanity. To counter my feeling of helplessness, I’m challenging myself from here on out to be one hopeful voice.

What if I was one of the stars in that deep, black sky? What if I was one of the little lovely stars, after all? What if my hope was like a tiny speck of light shining with all the other twinkling diamonds of hope in the night? What if your hope shimmered, too? Maybe then more people wouldn’t lose their way. People look to the stars for directions, you know. And people look to hope when all seems lost.

beauty grief laughter life love

disney world for dad


Let’s start out with this fabulous photo of me wearing flamingo socks and bright blue shoes. I have become obsessed with Woven Pear socks, and much to Travis’ dismay, I will wear them with any outfit, no matter the color. I have socks with cats, roosters, cassette tapes, hearts (of course), and bikes. I brought all the fun socks to Florida and decidedly wore these flamingos the day I thought we were going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom because, you know, animals. Usually these socks are hidden under pants and boots, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to wear shorts in February, so there was no covering these babies that day. The shoes, well, I needed my good tennis shoes of course! Travis was not excited about my outfit that day but said he’d walk with me anyway. Due to it being a rainy day, we ended up going to Epcot though so the whole animal theme didn’t really work. Oh well! I just looked like this all day:


It wasn’t until last night when my cousin commented on Facebook, “That is quite the sock/shoe combo,” that I realized I’d really pulled a Norm Newbold with this outfit. This made Travis and me laugh out loud, and reminded me that I’m channeling my dad without even knowing it. He was known for his wild, bright-colored clothes, and one of my favorite stories that was told in the first few days after we lost him was one that involved him, my uncle and a bright yellow pair of Crocs. I believe he bought them in a sporting goods store while on a fishing trip. They were shoes that most people in their right minds would never purchase, but “They were a good deal and Bob would have bought them too but they didn’t have them in his size!” He loved those silly Crocs.

In the same way that he was so proud of that purchase, I am proud of my fun socks. I could honestly be Woven Pear’s spokesperson. I have given socks for Christmas and Valentine’s gifts, posted photos on Instagram, and got my sister-in-law Melissa and friend Stacey just as obsessed with them. But I’m not here to tell you how soft they are, how comfy they make my toes, or how I model them for Travis every time I put them on. I digress …

What I’ve been noticing lately is that memories of my dad have been making me more happy than sad. The first time I noticed this was when I saw a picture on Timehop of the Billy Joel/Elton John concert we went to in 2010. Seeing that photo brought a genuine smile to my face as I laid in bed that morning remembering how happy we all were that night, and how thoughtful my dad had been in buying an extra ticket so I could bring a friend. And then yesterday, as I looked at the flamingo socks photo and laughed, thinking of my dad and his crazy outfits once again made me happy.

In Disney World, I thought of my dad all the time. He was a huge Disney fan as I wrote about last year just two weeks after he passed away. I can’t go to Disney parks without him being with me in spirit. He never made it to Disney World, so during this trip I often thought about what he would have loved. In a way, I was seeing all of these things for him. There is an attraction in Epcot called Test Track that lets you build a car. You choose the model, shape, tires, design and more. Then you ride in a car that seemingly tests different conditions such as weather, slick roads, power, and efficiency, then you find out how your car would handle these situations. At the end, the ride speeds up to more than 60 MPH and you can ride with your hands in the air and scream around the track. Travis and I went on Test Track twice because it was my favorite, and the second time was at night. As our car sped up and curved around one of the last bends, a firework from one of the other parks went off and it felt like we were in this perfect, magical Disney moment. It was like my dad was saying hello with that firework, and telling me he was right there loving that ride, too.

I had a few of those moments where I was so amazed I got to see something that always seemed far away and unimaginable. I didn’t know when I’d ever see Spaceship Earth in person, and as the monorail took us around Epcot and it appeared to my left through the window, I literally gasped. The same thing happened the first time I saw the Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom. These were two things I’d seen on TV and ads since I was a kid and to see them in person was, as cheesy as it sounds, magic. I wonder what my dad’s reaction would have been to these places and the sheer size of Disney World in general.

In Epcot, my dad would have loved seeing the gardens with my mom and exploring each country pavilion. I can imagine him talking about all the countries he’d really been to … Italy, Canada, England, Mexico, France. Maybe he would have asked me questions about China. He would have loved Dinosaur, Expedition Everest and the safari in Animal Kingdom. He would have succumbed to the popcorn smell just as we did in the Magic Kingdom. I thought of him as we passed a corn dog place on Main Street and I looked for hearts and found them here and there. I hope he got to see it all with us.

The last thing we did in Disney was the Fantasmic show in Hollywood Studios. We’d attempted to see it last year in Disneyland but there was a technical issue and the show stopped part way through. I had to laugh when this happened again at the beginning of the show in Disney World. Travis said maybe he just wasn’t meant to ever see it. Out loud and jokingly, I said, “Come on, Dad, fix it!” And right after that, an announcement was made that the show would go on! And it did, and it was fabulous.

Right now, I’m holding onto the happy feelings when thinking of my dad. I that’s what he would want.

I love the light in this photo. It’s like my dad is shining down on us.
Spotted in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This was normal sock day.
Do you see the sideways heart on this tree? I didn’t notice it until after we got home and I put the photos on my computer. So cool! This was spotted on the safari ride in the Animal Kingdom.


I found this heart near Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom.

Just for fun, here are a few examples of my dad’s awesome style for you:


Scan 38

And here’s one where we all apparently took after my dad … and at Disney, too!

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beauty life love

new life


I feel myself becoming a morning person now more than ever. Even though it’s still hard for me to get out of bed, when I do, I am happy, energetic and mostly annoying to Travis. Waking up at 5 a.m. and forcing myself from beneath our covers is a struggle, but once I’m up, I’m often pestering Travis with pokes and jokes until he gets up too. I flex my non-muscles in all sorts of poses to make him laugh, then we head out to the living room for P90X3.

I feel like I have more energy for everything these days. I went to bed last night excited for this morning. This is my Friday off and I have zero solid plans. While I didn’t bound out of bed at 5 a.m., I did get up before 8 a.m., which is a miracle if you ask my mom and previous roommates who saw me sleep in past 10 a.m. for much of my weekend life. This morning, though. This morning, I’m happy about cinnamon coffee brewing in the kitchen and the idea that I can make today however I want it to be. I can do my favorite things – write, take pictures and spend time outside.

Last week we were in Florida where everything was lush and green, where the Spanish Moss danced slowing with the wind and the sun sparkled through tree branches. The salty, cerulean ocean was only an hour away, and oh how I long for water sometimes. I laid on a rainbow-colored beach towel in the sand and let the sun soak into my skin and tried to let my mind wander as freely as the wind – thoughts coming and going until all felt still for a moment. Everything in Florida made me feel lucky to be there, and it was enough to make a desert girl like myself a little jealous. However, upon our return to Albuquerque, there were blossoms and buds forming on our trees and bushes. It was a wonderful surprise that made me feel lucky to be here, too. Right now, we have a bush flaming in lemon yellow, and another blooming in bubblegum pink. Soon, red flowers will burst from our backyard cactus, another bush will turn purple, and our peach tree will transform into, well, peach flowers. This will be the second year experiencing spring in this house and while I know better what to expect from our foliage, I’m still amazed by nature’s gifts and wonder.

I noticed my tulips are coming out of our rock beds and these flowers have the power to put a smile on my face and make me think of my mother, who bought them for us as a housewarming gift, and my mother-in-law, who helped me plant them. There is something very beautiful about that.

There is something beautiful about new life in general. Last spring, I was incredibly sad and spring helped lift my soul. This year, I am still nostalgic but I’m doing better and spring is a perfect reminder that things can keep moving in a fulfilling, lovely way. The world is brimming with miracles after long, harsh winters. I’m trying to make life bloom before me a little more slowly. I’m trying to breathe it all in and capture the color with eyes that have seen heartache and grace. I want to let this spring be new and free, and in the same way I noticed the blossoms, I hope to pay attention to more of this season’s gentle, bright surprises.