"As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love."
           - Anne Sexton



on grief

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
                                                                        - Kurt Vonnegut 

There have been so many sad things lately. The Connecticut school shooting that brought the nation to its knees. A good friend of mine lost her baby, just minutes after giving birth. Another had a miscarriage. I have a close friend who lost his job, just weeks before Christmas. I have a family member who is struggling with an illness, and other close friends and relatives struggling with emotional or other physical issues.

It has been difficult for me to embrace the Christmas season this year, and I think all around me I feel this collective sigh - this breath escaping from all of our lips. No matter who or where we are, we experience this disbelief, this grief that is shared. We send flowers, we send well-wishes, we send prayers. But we never really know. We can never know.

I've struggled to feel happy with so much pervasive sadness. I've felt that I didn't deserve happiness - not when so many had deep struggles. In some ways, it felt like I was selfishly betraying them with my own happiness. My birthday was the day of the shooting. I was miserable for most of the day. My heart sunk at the news, then I would remember it was my birthday, then I would punish myself for the grief and pain so many were experiencing. It was a difficult thing, a constant tear at my heart strings.

I don't know what the answer is, because we cannot suffer the grief of others, nor can our efforts wholly alleviate it. We can't fix everything. But I do know this one, simple thing. That we need to allow ourselves to experience joy. Not just because it makes us feel good, but because it is necessary. We were not made for constant depression and anxiety, which is not to say that we should not allow ourselves to experience it. But to dwell on it for too long, and to punish ourselves is futile. There is too much good left. There are too many happy things ahead. 


Day One

I have this app called Day One. It's like a journal - it has a password and everything (yes, my 8 year old inner self loves that part.) It reminds me every day at 9:24 to write something down or type, rather.

I realize it is a little pathetic that I do this. I mean, I could set a timer to write in my journal, but I feel like you have to document in a way that works for you and for now, this works. Also, it is easy to include pictures.

Here are a few excerpts from it - nothing too juicy, so don't get excited. Just small things I want to remember, small experiences in my life.

September 19: I am in Nashville with Lacey and the girls. We played outside and made Halloween cards with the stickers I gave them. Seeing Lacey being a mom makes me want to be one. She's good at it.

September 21: We arrived in Fontana, North Carolina today. My favorite thing was Emmy shrieking for us to come outside at night. She was so excited for us to come out so she could show us the stars.

September 24: We threw a birthday party for Harrison today. He was teething so I'm not sure if he loved it, but we sure love him. 

September 28:
     Kevin: "Sorry I picked medical school.
     Me: "Yup."
     Kevin: "Well? Better luck next life."

October 2: We said goodbye to Brad today. We're pretty proud of him for going on a mission and made sure he knows that. He's so ready to serve the people of Bolivia.

October 29: Tonight I told Kevin I wouldn't let him go to sleep until he wrote me a haiku. Here is what he came up with. Poor sleep-deprived medical student.

"Sleep is a good thing.
I awake, though not by choice.
To sleep in is bliss."

October 31: "When nobody else celebrates you, learn to celebrate yourself. When nobody else compliments you, then compliment yourself. It's not up to other people to keep you encouraged. It is up to you. Encouragement should come from the inside." - Joel Osteen

November 5: Great yoga session tonight with my friend Tish. In the middle of our wind down, the lights are off, and we are focusing on our breathing. We are almost asleep, when the instructor tries to turn off the music and the speakers crackle. My heart jumped out of my chest and the look on Tish's face was priceless. Great way to end the practice. Namaste.

November 11: "It will not be easy. It will never be easy. But the optimist will persist in faith." - A quote from Henry B. Eyring at my church's Regional conference.

November 17: Tonight or should I say this morning? We landed in El Salvador for our layover. It is such a beautiful country from above. I can see how someone would be homesick for this place.

And today, December 8: "There are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground." - Rumi


post-peru thoughts

I wrote about Peru - but an entire week can never be summed up in one post. So much happened there - so many different feelings, and individuals experiences and thoughts. But every time I look back I think of the same one. And it just sits there in my mind, and I think if I wrote it down it would feel more real. So here it is.

The jungle was hard for me. It was adventurous, sure. It was exciting. But it wasn't enjoyable. There were no doors to protect us from the jungle I could see right from my bed. Tarantula's skittered across those floors, snakes creeped mere feet from us. The heat and humidity was suffocating. We took icy cold showers multiple times a day, but as soon as we got out, the feeling came back. It was suffocating. I realize an "Amazon Jungle Tour" might sound phony but the truth is, it wasn't. It was so real.

Kevin tucked in the mosquito netting to my bed every night, super tight so no bugs or other creatures could get in. Then he doused the outside with insect repellent - a real health hazard. But then he kissed me goodnight through the mosquito net. It was the most romantic thing of my life.

The first morning I woke up, I was drenched in my own sweat. Disgusting, very. I live in Arizona - I am no stranger to sweat, or hot nights. But this was different. I woke up at 4:30 that first morning for our tramp through the jungle and sobbed. I wasn't sure why - I think the whole experience was hard, and a little scary. I was jet-lagged, I was hungry because the food there was terrible, but more than anything I felt so small. Almost lost in this engulfing forest that had a living, breathing soul.

And then Kevin knelt down next to my bed, and pulled my disgusting, sweaty body to his equally disgusting and sweaty body and hugged me so tight. The jungle sounds carried on behind us, and I think a cockroach skittered across the floor, but he told me it was okay to cry, and it was okay to feel these things. He didn't lecture me on enjoying the moment, or accuse me of ruining his experience (which, by the way, he loved every second of it.) He just pulled me closer to him, and fanned out the mosquito net and told me I was brave.

I realized right then, as I do every so often that I got really lucky 2.5 years ago when I married him. We're both pretty far from perfect, but he loves me a lot, and makes sure I don't forget that. I'd get lost in the jungle with him any day. 


That time we went to Peru

I'm not sure where to begin with our trip to Peru. We found super cheap flights in June, and booked our trip less than an hour later. Machu Picchu is on our bucket list, so we figured YOLO. No literally, we said YOLO like the whole time. We just brought backpacks which was tough for me, but it turns out we didn't need much. We spent 2 days in Lima, 4 in the Amazon rainforest and 3 in Cusco/Machu Picchu. It was the trip of a lifetime, and made me so grateful for the blessing it is to live in the USA. We have it pretty good over here with clean water, a strong(ish) economy and wi-fi everywhere we go :)

Here are some pictures of our trip, if you'd like to see. Pretty sure this is the longest post I've ever done, but I'm not into dragging out the details of the trip, so I apologize in advance.

First - Lima. 

 Dj and Julie - best travel companions ever!

 This guy's hair killed me the whole time. I loved it so much.

Next - the jungle. Yikes - it was intense. So sticky and hot, insects too large to be real, and crazy tour guides. We fished for piranha's, (yes, I caught one!) went hunting for alligators at night on our rickety boat, tramped through the jungle all day and night (seriously it was so tiring,) and spotted all sorts of animals. Oh - and we ate crazy things, like catfish wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked over the fire, as well as wild tomato juice for breakfast. I'm pretty sure we were served rodent meat more than once, though they claimed it was "beef." 

 The Lodge. No doors or windows so all jungle animals were welcome. Neat.
 Fishing for Piranha's.
 I caught one! 

 He tried so hard, and only caught this little sardine. Poor guy. (Kevin, not the sardine.)

By this point, my camera battery died - so lame. So the rest of the photos I had to snag from Julie.  After the Amazon we ventured to Cusco, and then took a bus ride to Ollantaytambo where we met Anna and Reto Fischer - the coolest Swiss couple ever. (Switzerland Summer 2013, right guys?) We played cards in that city, before taking the train to Machu Picchu - home of beauty and unruly wild dogs. I'm feeling lucky we didn't get rabies. Machu Picchu is too amazing too describe in words. I think everyone should make the trek at least once in their life. Those who have been there know what I mean! We loved it, every second of it.

Yes, I recognize I am wearing the exact same outfit in every picture. I was dumb and only brought one jacket and, it has since been burned because that thing was gross by the end of the trip. 

Big thanks to Dj and Julie for putting up with me in the early mornings (I'm not a morning person, turns out.) Also, thanks to Kev for pretty much carrying me after our Cusco bus ride. That Dramamine did a number on me. 

So where do we go next? I'm thinking Europe, although we're dying to see Australia and New Zealand. Oh - and China. All recommendations welcome!