beauty clouds hearts life love

one year


One of my friends asked me whether this year has been long or short. I decided it’s been long. Last December and January seem like forever ago.

When I look back, I always think of pink sunrises in those first few weeks after the funeral. I would drive to work in the dark, and a few times a week, I’d try to find a few minutes to go stand on the roof and look at those pink clouds. The moon would be setting through the haziness out west, and the clouds would be hovering in grays and blues along the Sandia mountains to the east. Everything felt hazy, blue and gray then. However, some mornings were so stunning they took my breath away. I always felt my dad close in those moments.

There have been so many beautiful things that happened this year – and so many adventures. I’m thankful for that. But there’s also been a layer of sadness beneath everything I’ve done and experienced. The trip to Disneyland in January – getting a new job – the train ride in Durango – a Tim McGraw concert with my mom – seeing San Francisco – Balloon Fiesta. I wish my dad would have been there for those days, or that I could have told him about them. Those days and so many others.

A week ago, my family and I went to the place where my dad passed away. I have come to realize that in every place where someone leaves this world, there are angels who attend and leave that space more holy than before. When we visited, the sun was shining, there was snow on the ground and heart clouds appeared. It was peaceful and gorgeous, and even though I wish things were different a year ago, I know my dad wasn’t alone when he left this world, and my family will never be left alone either.

One year came and went on Wednesday. I took the day off and slept in. I cried in the shower. Then I tried to do a mix of reflective things, and fun things my dad would have liked. I saw a movie, ordered a medium popcorn, then went to See’s Candies (they have a chocolate named Normandie after all). I drove to the foothills and went for a long walk while looking for hearts. I came across four, and I took one of them home.

I prayed and cried in the open space and thanked God for the good things in my life. I told him I want to use the next year to be more in the moment – to remember that people can be taken away at any time, and to cherish those relationships always. I thanked God for my parents and told him I felt lucky to have my dad in my life for 30 years. I said thank you for the beauty of the world. There really is so much of it.

Before we went to bed that night, we lit luminarias in our driveway in the shape of a heart. The candles lit up the night in this gorgeous way – the way only candles can.

It’s been a long year. A long, beautiful, sad, hazy year. I’ve learned a lot about life, death, tragedy and myself. I’m going to light a candle in my heart – one that was blown out a year ago – and will let it grow brighter this next year.

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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

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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.