Four Pass Loop, CO

Because we are only a little bit insane, Rob and I decided a few months prior to our wedding that we might as well take advantage of our lag-time in Colorado and do a short backpacking trip before heading to France. I, of course, found immediate intellectual solace in the idea of experiencing literal peaks and valleys so soon after exchanging our wedding vows and Rob, well, he just thought it would be an adventure. So, we committed to the trip, upped our gear game, completed some light training, and mapped out our route. We got married on a Saturday, and by Sunday afternoon we had left Telluride in route to Aspen. Our goal was to complete the entire 26.6 mile Four Pass Loop, located in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, in three nights, four days. While I'd done some light backpacking, this was the longest and most physically demanding trip that I'd ever taken with a weightier pack, and Rob was really wonderful in helping to make sure we were both prepared in as many ways as we could be. 

However, as often happens, there were just a couple of things that we weren't prepared for. The list is as follows: 

1.) Hitting a deer on the way to the trailhead. 

2.) Getting a half-days late start because of said deer. 

3.) Getting off trail due to late-season snow. 

4.) Having to make some dangerous high water crossings due to said late-season snow.

5.) Me, careening 100 feet down the snowy side of a mountain, hoping to not die (I didn't die).

6.) Rob, following me 100 ft down the snowy side of a mountain, due to said almost death.

7.) Rob, breaking his tailbone because apparently, rocks are hard. 

8.) Having to double back on the trail, due to said broken tailbone.

9.) Also, did I mention that Rob broke his tailbone?

So, give or take a few injuries, things didn't really go according to plan.

But you know what? Even though we weren't able to finish the complete loop like we hoped, we sure as heck got an adventure filled with a few gorgeous peaks and a whole lot of character-cultivating valleys. Rob got to witness me at my very worst (there is a strong chance that I chucked my trekking poles at his head during a particularly poignant moment of frustration) and I got to see him at his very best, leading with confidence and extraordinary zen. We also witnessed some beautiful sunsets, woke up next to a few gorgeous mountain streams, and took in some truly breathtaking views. While we may have gained a few scrapes and bruises, and Rob may have had to carry around an inflatable donut for the next month, at least we endured it together. And, well, if that isn't a metaphor for marriage, I'm not sure what is. 


Our last stop was Nice, and while we could have spent days and days soaking up all of its bright colors and sunshine, we were only there one night before flying out. We worked tirelessly to make the most of it by splashing around in the ocean for a bit before going on the hunt for some delicious food. As you can imagine, it was a very difficult 24 hours.

My favorite thing about Nice (and the Riviera as a whole) was the wonderful people-watching. The yachts were many, the bikini tops were few, and the tans, ON POINT. However, in walking through the streets of Old Town, the Italian influence was also really prominent. The antipasti flowed, the flower markets were abundant, and time seemed to move just a little slower. Families on vacation waited in long, leisurely lines for gelato, and couples, young and old alike, leaned against the colorful broadsides of stucco buildings, stealing kisses and drinking wine. It was the nicest, that Nice, and I'm so glad that we were able to say hello before we said goodbye. 


From Vézelay, we headed south towards Provence, where we spent two nights in the small village of Gordes. While Gordes was really, really lovely, it also felt very much like a tourist-centric town filled with lots of (pretty) international vacationers. While this can make for great people watching, it also usually means less locals to meet and considerably higher prices. However, we were lucky enough to be in town on market day and we were pretty giddy to soak up some of that dreamy provincial goodness. The lavender was abundant, the olive oil was delicious, and the cheese and Rosé spilled forth from every corner. (See? Dreams really do come true.)

One of my favorite things about Provence was the light. It was as though a golden cloud was nestled throughout - seeping into the nooks and crannies and crevices- and, in turn, the entire earth seemed to glow from within. Time slowed down, the days felt longer, and we did our best to find the patios and chase the sun. It was the best kind of lesson in savoring the small joys. And savor we did.


While we were sad to leave Normandy, we couldn't wait to head towards the tiny, hilltop village of Vézelay. Famous for the 11th century Basilica of St. Magdalene, Vézelay has long been a pilgrimage site, as legend states that the Basilica holds relics of Mary Magdalene. We spent only one night here, but it provided a few perfect surprises. During our short stay, we stumbled upon a small choir practicing in the Abbey courtyard (divine!), ate some delicious ice cream (twice!), and spent dinner next to a precious French family of three - a single mother and her two teenage sons. We chatted for a long time, laughing at the sons' stories of studying abroad in the U.S. and taking in their insightful perspective about all things political. They were really wonderful, and I loved having the opportunity to hear their story and dreams for the future.

And the final surprise? Well, it came early the next morning when we were abruptly pulled from sleep by the loudest church bells that have ever existed. Unbeknownst to us, our room sat directly beside the Basilica's bell tower, and so we awoke, very bright and very early, no alarm clock needed.

We get it Vézelay. You're fantastic.


From Paris, we hopped on a train to Caen. (Did you know that if you tell a lovely French women at a front desk that you want to go to Caen, she may hear your pronunciation and think that you want to go to Cannes and immediately work exasperatingly hard to book you a ticket? And then when finally understanding that you don't, in actuality, want to go Cannes, but instead to Caen, she may make fun of you with her eyes in the way that only a true Parisian woman can do? Hypothetically speaking, of course.) We weren't sure what to expect from our time in Normandy, but it truly was one of our very favorite stops. The landscape was lush and perfectly unkept, the villages were cozy, and the people were unbelievably kind.

We spent the first night in the charming village of Bayeux and headed to the D-Day Museum and Cemetery the following day. The museum was beautifully moving and an unexpected favorite of mine, and I don't think I'm being dramatic when I say that it shifted things just a bit for me. It was immensely special to observe Rob there as well, as his patriotism and love for military history runs deep, and I know how powerful it was for him to be able to put eyes on such an important part of history. After the museum and cemetery, we walked down to Omaha Beach. It was early in the afternoon and so there were only a few people there - a small family and their dog, and an older couple going for a swim- and it seemed the perfect way to honor the thousands of lives lost there. Those simple acts - a young boy and his dog, playing, and a retired couple sunbathing- well, those are the very simple joys and freedoms that those soldiers fought for. I'm so glad that, if even for a few hours, we were able to pay our respects to the many lost lives by being in the present, digging our toes in the sand, and enjoying the beautiful day we'd been given. 

From Omaha Beach, we drove into the country side of Lower Normandy and spent three days and nights at the absolutely perfect Hotel d'une ile. We explored several smaller villages in the surrounding area and I got to fulfill my life-long dream of going to a French flea market. We also tracked down some Brocantes (secondhand shops) and did our best to barter with the very little French we had picked up. In between the wandering and exploring, we drank some cider, ate lots of Camembert cheese, and I tried my first duck confit. All in all, Normandy was one of the true treasures of our trip. It somehow just felt like home.  


I could fill pages and pages and it still wouldn't be enough to describe how wonderful and soul-nourishing our time in France was. Rob and I have become a little obnoxious about it, really, daydreaming about a life filled with soft cheese and baguettes, small artisan shops, jaunty scarves, and cafe-laden streets. Two weeks there basically makes us French, right? Right.

We know how fortunate we are to have been able to go on such a fantastic honeymoon, and looking back, it truly feels like a fuzzy, wonderful, red wine-fueled dream. Paris was our first stop, and we spent three long days hunting down the perfect beef bourguignon (we found it at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet) taking lots of photographs with every camera we own, and ducking into cafes and shops to escape the rain. We walked miles and miles and did our best to not look like the over-excited American tourists that we were. It was just the loveliest. I believe with my whole heart that what they say is true: Paris is always a good idea.

In the next couple of weeks, I'm hoping to post a few more photos from our stops in Normandy, Vézelay, Provence, and Nice. Each part of our adventure was unique in its own way and I can't wait to look back and remember all of our favorite moments.  Follow along if you'd like to see. 

the one in which I ask for audience participation.

Months have passed, so many months, since I've written here, and I feel a bit like an intruder, red-cheeked and unabashedly ashamed for letting so many lovely days go by without putting down a word.  Life has been happening in the most humorous, terrifying, and beautiful kinds of ways, and yet here I am, whole and fully assembled. 

A few nights ago, as I was lying in bed and just about to slip into sleep, Rob nudged me unexpectedly and sweetly whispered, hey, I miss reading your blog posts and the words you write... and I just thought you should know.


(To be fair, his feet were very VERY cold.) 

But the truth is, I miss this place too. Earlier this week, on a whim, I started reading through previous things I've written and declared on the internet, and I landed on this.  And this. And this.  And I was simultaneously embarrassed, shaken, grateful, proud, and encouraged. Because what is sharing our thoughts with others if the words and stories we tell don't ultimately bring us straight back to ourselves? 

Since I've last written here, life has sprinted and puttered and spun around at least twice. I got married. (No one is more surprised than me.) I've traveled to some incredibly beautiful places. I've created a special home with a husband who is much too nice for me but who inexplicably loves me anyhow. I've gone up a pant size and in utter desperation have begun taking indoor cycling classes. I've started eating more fish, which has been truly frightening. I've joined a book club and have listened to approximately one million podcasts. I've made new friends and have said goodbye to precious family members. I've laughed and cried, and peed my pants at least twice. Guys. A lot has happened.

I'd like to get back to telling these small stories in the hopes that one day I can look back and remember exactly what it felt like to be myself, on this day, in this space. I'd like to keep the written record going, just so I can't forget about the wonderful things that fill up the hours between the sprinting and the puttering and spinning. 

But you'd know what I'd also like? I'd like to find more of a community in this place. I'd like to ponder and respond to prompts and thoughts from you all, my friends and family (and the three other strangers who read this- bless you.) What would you like to hear about? What would you like to read about? What kinds of stories can we share with one another? What kind of wonderful information can we embarrass one another with? How can we keep each other accountable for continuing to seek, create, share, and evolve? Call me crazy, but wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all put pen to paper and let the record show that though our days were ordinary, they were filled with extraordinary thoughts and big, rowdy, raucous dreams? If that sounds like your kind of jam, can we jam together? Comment here. Leave me your links to your blogs or to your portfolios. Jot down your questions and tell me your stories. Words are so powerful, and I'd love to give, share, and trade more of them, especially with all of you.













almost summer

Last week, I got to spend an evening watching some of my favorite little ones yuck it up in a sun-soaked backyard. It really doesn't get much better. And while ALL of these sweet faces are moving away from me very soon (WHY???), I stole what moments I could, stalking them with a camera until the sun drained from the sky. It's my favorite time of the year, this almost summer season, and these kiddos reminded me that the best way to enjoy it is with (mostly) shoeless, wild abandon.

dirty work.

There are lots of different kinds of hard work. There is dirty, work-your-hands-to-the-bone kinds of work. There is emotional, in-your-gut-kinds of work and can’t-fall-asleep-at-night kinds of work. There is hard work that makes you feel full and hard work that makes you feel empty and sometimes the work that falls somewhere in between. And then there is the personal hard work - the stuff that wrings your brain and heart out, and forces you to ask the challenging questions, even though the answers might be scary. For each of us, this work looks different. It is measured differently, felt differently, and experienced differently. But it’s difficult and dirty, nonetheless.

The past few months, I’ve found myself engaged in an all-too familiar kind of grind. And so here is the truth of it: I can’t stop comparing every aspect of my life to every aspect of everyone else’s. The comparison game has been beating me down, days at a time, and I don’t like the way it feels. I know the routine, this act of comparison, and it’s one that can happen so quickly, it’s as though the laces are tied before I’ve even decided what shoes to put on for the race.

I hope I don’t sound too ungrateful here, but growing up and existing as a millennial is its own kind of terribly bizarre gift. Unlimited access to the world and its details is, at best, overwhelming, and at worst, terribly disheartening. I’m paralyzed, almost daily, by the amount of opportunities, opinions, options, paths, roads, careers, failures, and successes that I consume via photos, tweets, websites, and social media. I know so much about so many things and yet, I can’t seem to make a decision that I won’t talk myself out of five minutes later. I want to be about a million different things at any given moment (a writer! a world-traveler! an entrepreneur! a photographer! an artist! an activist! a farmer! a graphic designer! a chef! a hip, skinny-jean-wearing mom with great hair and sponsored Instagram posts!) and it can be difficult work to cultivate contentment in the wholeness of my present life. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, because I hear it, almost daily, from my peers. The millennial mantra can be hard to live by. With a little help from our parents, we’ve embraced the idea that we can be anything we want to be! and that rules were meant to be broken!, and I’ve witnessed it time and time again. I’ve seen my vagabond friends travel the world, make art, pay their bills, and look good doing it. I’ve observed acquaintances build start-ups, work from home, promote the hell out of themselves, and walk away with full pockets. I’ve seen others start businesses via social media and make more money in a month than I see all year. The point is, my generation bares witness to all of this, all of the time. And this isn’t the exception. This is often the rule. There is an innate expectation, however false, that can come with this kind of exposure. We want to believe (I want to believe) that life can be ALL of the things, all of the time. I don’t want to play by the rules of working hard. I want the time, freedom, and opportunity to live a life that is curated by myself alone, one lovely and intellectually stimulating moment at a time. I DESERVE THIS, I tell myself. Social media tells me so. Who wants ordinary when you can be extraordinary?

And then I give myself a proverbial punch in the face.

There is so much danger in the belief that hard work can be bypassed. While yes, we can all generally create our own set of rules to live by, we cannot outsmart, outwit, or outshine hard work. I cannot outsmart, outwit, or outshine hard work. If I’m lucky, I will get to choose the kind of hard work I want to do, but, in the end, it will still difficult and it will still be dirty.  The choice is the privilege, not work in and of itself.

Like many millennials, I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m fairly confident I won’t come to a full conclusion until I’m on the downside of 70. And that’s ok with me. It’s a luxury, to be sure, and one that I don’t take lightly. I live in a world where there a million and one ways to learn, grow, change, connect, and evolve. But here is what I know for sure:  Freedom takes work. Time takes work. Opportunity takes work. My vagabond, entrepreneur, creative, beautiful-people friends all have to put in the work, even if social media would have me believe otherwise. Nothing worth experiencing occurs in and of itself. Hard work makes the good stuff happen.

I’m tired of comparison. It steals joy, as they say, but I believe it also diminishes the value we place on the process and on the hard-fought journey that so many of our lives represent. I want to love, support, and encourage the imperfect lives that my friends and peers lead, and I want them to do the same for me. I want to strive to embrace the process, the dirty work, and the imperfections as much as I embrace the shiny and beautiful filtered Instagram photo. Because, as much as I love a good photograph, I love the simple, ordinary, hard-working story behind it even more. 

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm going to work on ceasing comparing my thighs, meals, clothes, trips, and days to yours, if you remind me every once in a while that you work hard to earn those European excursions and that you, too, in fact, wake up with pimples the size of Argentina on your forehead. In exchange, I'll try to stop bragging about how awesome my dog is and will work on posting more cellulite-heavy pics (yum!). I think sometimes it takes a lot of hard work and extraordinary courage to be perfectly ordinary. But for the sake of millennials everywhere, I'm willing to try.

walking it out.

Most days, Marlo and I take a short walk around the neighborhood. We head out just about the time the sun rests in that special slot in the sky- the place where the trees light up and the world seems to shimmer just a little more than it did before. I pull on a fleece, shield my eyes, and let that lovely, stubborn dog pull me down the street. She will pull and tug until she understands that our collaboration is far better (and less exhausting) than our struggle. (A metaphor for life, perhaps?) We generally walk one of three routes and, some days, I even let her choose which one it will be. Yesterday we walked my favorite, if only because it takes us past the most wonderfully lived-in home where jazz music is always playing and the neighborhood kids are always laughing. 

I’m a big believer in taking walks, and not just the put-on-your-running-tights-and-tennis-shoes-and-pretend-to-run kind of walks. I’m a believer in the daily stroll – the kind that allows you to intentionally explore the world around you.  I believe in taking the time to notice the slightest changes in the leaves or the cosmetic shifts happening to the home being restored down the street.  I believe in waving to the older gentleman who always walks his dog at the same time of day as you and stopping to wish him a very good evening. I believe in not having anywhere to be – at least for a little while - and in stopping to take a picture or two. You’d be surprised by how much life happens in the amount of time it takes to huff it a few blocks.

I grew up taking walks. My family went on frequent walks together. My friends and I would go on "hikes" and try to see what new things we could discover in the same old trees and same old sidewalk cracks that we were accustomed to. Depending on where my family lived, I often walked to school, and have distinct memories of formulating elaborate schemes and stories in my head in the amount of time it took for me to reach my destination.  In college, my friends and I would roam around campus for hours, often times in the middle of the night, just for the adventure of it. When I adopted Marlo, daily walks became part of the deal. And I loved it. I loved the excuse to stroll around the neighborhood in the early evening and let my imagination run wild.

Someone once told me, “If life begins to feel difficult, go take a walk. You’ll feel better by the time you’ve rounded the corner towards home.” The exercise is helpful, of course. But more than that, I believe it’s the vantage point.  These daily walks act as medicine, a meditation of sorts, and they allow me to create my own kind of therapeutic time-lapse. I’m only able to take in the world as slowly or quickly as my body (and Marlo) allows. There is more time for the details and even more space for my thoughts and creativity. I’m allowed to take note of all that has changed and all that has stayed the same, and rest in how much beauty resides in all that is ordinary.  For many of us, it takes a whole lot of effort to do that kind of simple work. But I’m willing to try. 

So, tonight, when I get home, I’ll put on my fleece and grab the leash. Marlo will get excited because she knows an adventure is about to be had.  She’ll pull me down the street and I’ll do my best to take note of how the sunlight hits the cement and how the smell of fresh laundry, most likely from the neighbors’ house, is still hanging heavy in the air. I’ll take a deep breath, push aside the stress from the day, and do the simple work of focusing on the present. I'll wave to the older gentleman, dodge the bicycle commuters, and enjoy the journey. And then we’ll probably take the long route, just because we can.  




I don’t often write about my work here in this space.  Besides passing references, I try to keep the scope of what I share thoughtful and non-invasive.  I want to be respectful of the population of students that I work with and certainly don’t want to paint them in any kind of light that isn’t true or encouraging. However, it seems that the longer I do the work that I do, the deeper its reach becomes. It’s difficult to not mention it here, because it has become so much of who I am. By default, it's bound to leak into this space, if only a little bit at a time.

I suppose the first thing I should tell you is this: inevitably, whenever I meet someone new and participate in the reciprocal exchange of niceties- name (Courtney), interests (cheese), social connections (I went to college with her cousin's ex-husband's new boyfriend), place of employment (school psychologist who works with blind and visually impaired students) – I always get a few follow-up questions or statements that usually sounds a little something like this:

“You work with blind kids? Geeeez. You win.”

Or: “Wow, what an interesting job. So, do just listen to blind kid’s problems all day?”

Or: “Wait. What does that even mean?”

Or, my personal favorite: “Whoa! So, do you speak sign language?”

I generally just smile and answer the questions as briefly as I can, because the truth is, it would take hours to truly explain what my role is in such a unique environment, and nobody has the time or attention span for that. But I get it. It's one of those jobs that just sounds different than most. And I suppose it is. But some days are really hard. And some days the to-do list feels too long to truly make a difference.  Often, I feel bogged down with paperwork. I wish, almost all of the time, that I had more hours in the day to do counseling with my students. I get frustrated with all of the rules and regulations that Special Education requires and often wish for simple, concrete procedures that would just STAY THE SAME ALREADY.

But then, sometimes, I feel as though I’m bursting at the seams with stories. I want to shout from the rooftops that I am basically the luckiest woman alive to get to work with such courageous, beautiful, challenging students. I’m continually amazed by the attitude and spirit of these kids.  The things they accomplish and navigate put me to shame.  While I struggle to get out of bed every morning, they are also struggling to get out of bed every morning, but are generally doing it with the BEST ATTITUDES EVER. While I’m praying to switch places with my dog just so I can sleep an extra hour, they are fully embracing who they are and who they want be. They are determined, almost all of the time, to be the best versions of themselves. They are tech savvy, fearless, and amazingly fashionable. They are committed to learning scary and daunting new things because they want the freedom to pursue their wildest dreams. I can’t even begin to tell you how life-giving it is to bear witness to such a thing. 

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live your life without the gift of sight? Take a moment and just imagine it. Imagine what it would be like to cook a meal, clean your desk, or go to the grocery store. Imagine the skills and tools you would need to simply get dressed in the morning. Imagine introducing yourself to new people, trusting them to help you rather than take advantage. Imagine learning a new neighborhood, a new city, a new job. Think about the challenges that would arise in even the simplest, everyday tasks. I believe most of us would not only lack sight, but also the vision needed to see beyond our physical limitations.

Even more, imagine what it would be like to be a TEENAGER and to be visually impaired. Imagine trying to navigate social situations and crushes and cliques and plans for your future. Imagine trying to learn how to study and take tests and apply for colleges. Imagine the courage it takes to go out and let the world see you try and learn and make mistakes. Imagine wanting to drive, and figuring out that you never will be able to do so. Imagine taking a sex education class as a blind or visually impaired teenager. No. Seriously. Imagine it. There would be SO MANY QUESTIONS, right? Now imagine having additional disabilities to consider – orthopedic impairment, auditory impairment, speech impairment, cognitive impairment, autism – as visual impairment generally has a very high co-morbidity rate with other physical and mental disabilities.  Do you have a good sense of what I am trying to convey? These, THESE, are the students that I get to spend time with every day. These are the funny, frustrating, smelly, lovely, courageous teenagers that I get to sit in meetings about, write reports for, design behavior plans for, and provide tissues for. These are the teenagers that I get to help discover who they want to be when they grow up.

I don’t want to romanticize things too much, because teenagers are still teenagers, regardless of the sum of their parts. Some days they make stupid choices. Some days they do hurtful things. Other days they say the wrong thing or don’t say the right thing or lie or cheat or frustrate me beyond words. But they are teenagers. And this is what they do.

Yes, I’m a school psychologist.  You picture Freud, but instead, the reality is hours of meetings, and hours of paperwork, and even more hours of navigating a special education system in order to ensure that all parties are happy – student, family, and school. With the time that’s left over, I sometimes get to sit with teachers and students and try to help solve the world’s problems. Sometimes, it's terrible. Sometimes, I laugh until my insides hurt. Other times, I feel helpless and awful and like the world’s worst adult. But whatever the season, I have the opportunity to sit down and learn from the tremendous staff and students that surround me. If I'm honest, there are moments where I'm still not sure how I ended up in such a ridiculously unique place. I didn't plan on it.  But I'm thankful for it, even when the days are rough. So, yeah, I guess what they say is true.

I work with blind kids. And I TOTALLY win.



Yesterday, I came home from work, sat on my bed, and felt the room go whoosh around me. I think maybe it’s this time of year, when time seems to get sucked through a kind of continuum that forcibly makes the hours seem shorter and the to-do list appear longer than humanly possible. Or I suppose it could just be me. I’m working on my stress/anxiety/worry/catastrophizing management. Winter just doesn’t lend itself well to the part of my brain that craves sunshine after 5 pm. However, it does lend itself well to the part of my brain that likes to drink red wine after 5 pm (because what else do you do when the sun goes down?)

Marlo has been sick all week. I understand that having a sick dog is entirely different from having a sick child, but since a sick dog is all I’ve ever really known, it’s been enough to turn me into a pacing and slightly irritable mother (of sorts). What began as terrible hacking evolved into full-fledged kennel cough and the sound of Marlo’s dry-heaving does not the magical holiday soundtrack make.  She’s on the mend and will be perfectly fine but I have reason to believe that my ears will be bleeding for at least 4 to 6 weeks.

I tell you these things so you can understand the context in which I am sharing some pretty important information. You see, I'm not always a very lovely and patient person to be in a relationship with. Yet somehow, even with my incessant grumbling and penchant to seek wine for companionship, I managed to convince the world's most wonderful man that he should spend time with me. And I thought you should know that today is this wonderful man's birthday. Thirty-three years ago today, he was born and I think this a fact worth sharing/shouting/obnoxiously blogging about. While I’m probably a bit biased, I have to tell you that this guy has one of the most sincere hearts you will ever encounter. He is fiercely loyal, kind beyond measure, and a gift to me in ways that I am continually discovering. He has loved me wholly and consistently from the very beginning and has never wavered (even though he really, really should have because have you seen me hangry?) and he has done so with such faithfulness and integrity. He requires that I be the best version of myself and has no tolerance for gossip or unnecessary criticism. He is humble and honest and has annoyingly good hair. He is ridiculously patient, deceivingly creative, and has the metabolism of a 17-year-old boy. Also, he genuinely loves Marlo and helped me google her disturbing symptoms at 1:30 AM last weekend when my internet was refusing to cooperate. Both of these things are worthy of very shiny medals.

So, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m thinking my boyfriend is probably at least a little bit better than yours. Also? We already have the same last name (plus or minus that extra "L"), so there’s that.

Happy Birthday Rob. I hope you read this, turn nine shades of red, and then think about how much fun we are going to have celebrating your awesomeness today. Thanks for being exactly who you are. Thank you for allowing me to be exactly who I am. I'm so very glad you were born. 



Being thankful is difficult for me almost all of the time. It's difficult because I'm often focused on the greener grass across the way. It's difficult because I'm distracted by all of the noise to my left and to my right. It's difficult because most days I have to take a little blue pill to help me see the good, rather than the bad. It's difficult because I exist in a world that is generally small, safe, and filled with people that look like me, speak like me, and own lots of things that they probably don't need, just like me. I forget to take the time to say thank you and instead catch myself grumbling about, in no particular order: Work! Broken cars! Jiggly thighs! Bills! Dog hair! I accidentally bought the wrong kind of almond milk! And, ugh, no one understands me! Soon, the gratitude gets buried under layers of minor inconvenience, discomfort, and stress. Excavation has to be initiated and shovels have to be located. And then sometimes I skip the shovel altogether and find myself on my hands and knees, desperately seeking out even the smallest corner of gratitude, of thanksgiving, of acknowledgement. I call loved ones. I talk with friends. I write. I pray. I take walks. I make out with my dog. You get the picture. It can get tough around here.

But then something happens- something like what happened this past week in Paris. And suddenly, the previous layers of ridiculous problems are obliterated in one swift glance at CNN, and gratitude aggressively erupts. We see images of a world beyond our own - people in pain, people immersed in fear, people desperately trying to make it to the next moment, hour, meal- and we realize how unbelievably good our inconvenience, discomfort, and stress really is. We are no longer distracted by the noise. The new things don't seem so shiny and pretty. We tell those we love how thankful we are for them. We gladly pay our bills, fix our cars, buy our almond milk, and go to our jobs. We look for ways to help. We gain perspective, quickly, and wave a large, significant flag of gratitude. We are thankful, sincerely, and vow to hold on to this flag for as long as we can. Sometimes we do, but more often, we don't.

Thanksgiving is days away. I will drive to see my loving, healthy, appropriately dysfunctional family and we will laugh, tease, analyze, and love with the best of them. We will tell each other what we are thankful for. And then I will return to a warm home, filled with well-worn and special things, and I will prepare to go to a job that challenges me, inspires me, and allows me to practically help a population of students that I would otherwise not have access to. I will open my fridge and see fresh, delicious food. I will use my phone to connect with friends. I will pull my healthy body out of bed and walk, run, jump, and dance- because I can. I will move through a life that is rich, safe, and good. I won't be concerned about my safety or my freedom or where my next night of sleep will occur. I will have the support I need to make it to the next day, and the day after that. Most likely you will too. 

But here's a question: Do you ever wonder what would happen if we became a community that was instinctive and consistent in our ability to be thankful? Have you ever considered the magnitude of reach that such a community could have? I do. And I have. I so want to be a woman of frequent gratitude. I'd like thank you to be a more common part of my vocabulary. I'd like to hold on to my flag, so to speak, and wave it an obnoxious amount. I don't want tragedy to always be the most powerful catalyst for my gratitude, or for yours. I'd like for thanksgiving to occur outside of the impending turkey dinner or annual Friendsgiving brunch. I'd like my heart to remind my brain of what it so often forgets - that there is such power and generosity in gratitude, and that acknowledging the good, regardless of the bad, is simultaneously beautiful, difficult, and miraculous. I'd like to not have to excavate so deeply or so often. But I need your help. And you need mine. Let's remind each other of the good when we can't see it for ourselves. Let's point out the ways we are unbelievably blessed and not wait for CNN to do it for us. Let's practice saying thank you as much as we say THIS SUCKS and see what happens.  Small changes give way to crazy evolution. And what you cultivate in your heart gives way to how you interact with your world. This week has continued to demonstrate just how much our world is hurting. And I don't know about you, but I'd like to be better within it so that I can give more generously to it.  Taking the time to sincerely and lovingly say merci seems like a pretty logical place to start. 

Happy Thanksgiving, all.









Guys. This family is one of my favorites. Chasing these kids around in the sunshine is the best kind of medicine, and I'm so thankful that we get to share the same city for this season of life.

Rob and I took far too many photos, because how can you not when you are surrounded by such enthusiasm for, well, everything? Here are a few, just because I couldn't help myself. I WANT TO SQUEEZE ALL OF THE CHEEKS.

fluffy robe.

Last week was a week that wasn't one of my favorites. I thought about quitting my job exactly 347 times and tried my best to will my brain to a place that was free from responsibility, paperwork, and people asking me questions in the hopes that I might provide an answer. I thought about feigning illness, but karma is too scary, so instead I cried at least three times and only contemplated running away to become a starving writer twice. All in all, I've had better sequences of days.

(For the record, I have a really lovely job wherein I'm surrounded by wonderful people and get to help the most dashing and courageous students you ever did meet. But sometimes it sucks. A lot.)

So, this week, I'm committed to taking better care of my brain. I'm hoping to give it the full spa treatment- I'm talking deep massage, exfoliation, seaweed wrap, steam room kind of stuff- and then I'm going to tell it how pretty it is, and encourage it to book again for next week, and the next week, and the week after that. My brain needs a fluffy robe, you guys. And a mug of herbal tea. I think sometimes we forget to go gentle on our brains - to extend to them the same courtesy we extend to others.  I spend a lot of energy every day putting together plans to support other people's psyches and sometimes I forget to do the same for mine. This week I was reminded that it really is extraordinarily difficult to be good to other people if I'm not being good to myself. 

For me, this means seeking the quiet pockets of time and acknowledging them. It means writing more but not feeling guilty if I don't. It means telling the people in my life that I love them and reminding myself that they love me too. It means saying/praying thank you more than is reasonable and noticing the joy more than I do. It means turning off the T.V. and cutting down on the cheese and putting fresh sheets on my bed. It means taking more pictures. It means child-posing the hell out of Monday afternoon and then smiling about it on the way home. It means saying yes to new things and no to negative things and I don't know if I really don't know. Because, sometimes, I REALLY DO NOT KNOW. 

You know?

So I'm curious: what kinds of spa-treatments do you give your brain? How do you take care of yourself so that you can provide the necessary affection for others? How do you rest and find the space to say thank you when your day has been uprooting and discouraging? 

For now, I'm resting in the knowledge that my days have value, regardless of their weight, and that each morning is a new opportunity to love others fiercely and then tell them that I probably don't have the answer, unless it involves cheese. And, if that's the case, then the answer is always Brie or Sharp Cheddar. 

Bring on the fluffy robe. Spa week, here i come.


I'm a self-admitted "pusher" of sorts, and it doesn't take much for me to tell anyone or everyone all about my new favorite things. While you may not be interested in hearing about my new favorite things, I'm going to tell you anyhow (and if that doesn't convince you of my pusher status, I don't know what will).

Let's start with this book. Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans sunk me in the best kind of ways. It's wise and beautiful and challenging, and allowed me a really pervasive space to sink deep into my thoughts, experiences, frustrations, and celebrations regarding church, Christianity, and culture. I'm inconsistent in my appreciation for "faith-based" literature, but this one stuck with me. Maybe it will stick with you too.

Next up is this podcast. Guys, I'm pretty into it. Maybe it's because I've recently been in a creative revival of sorts, but Elizabeth Gilbert's approach to discussing the topic of creativity and "making things" is honest and refreshing. Each episode is perfectly short, really insightful, and wonderfully digestible. Soak it up, let it sit, and then get to work putting out your creative stuff.

In the beauty department,  I can't say enough about RMS Beauty. Maybe I'm the last to jump on this bandwagon (my mom introduced me, because she is cool like that) but this product line is the loveliest kind of natural, beauty magic. I use this, this, and this on a daily basis and pretty much love everything about them. Even the packaging is simple, functional and wonderful. I dare you to use them and not do a double-take when you find yourself glowing in the mirror.

Finally, THESE CANDLES. I love being able to tote the merits of some hometown products (Lincoln, NE y'all) and Wax Buffalo does it up right. I'm burning the Sweet Tobacco scent right now and I wish you could be here to smell how PERFECT it is. I'm a big believer that it's the small things that make a home feel safe and warm, and these candles are very good at doing just that. 

Hopefully I haven't been too pushy. Or, maybe I hope I have. Go! Use! Listen! Read! And then come back and tell me how right I was about the life-changing aftermath.



It's that time of year again, where pumpkins crowd corners and fake cobwebs hang loosely from doors. Children anticipate the acquisition of gallons of candy and adults prepare for the sugar crashes that will almost certainly follow. Costumes are prepped. Witch hats are aplenty. And mummies stand rigid in window displays. 

But that's just in your average elementary school hallway.

Everywhere else I look, fake blood drips down walls and severed heads hang from trees. "Festive" bloody hands hang out of car trunks and fake intestines are slung about as though they are the trendy new garlands that the average american hipster can't live without. Murder is glorified, gore is personified and, for this short, lovely, holiday season, gruesome events are the thing. And, can I just be honest for a minute? I TOTALLY DON'T GET IT. LIKE, I REALLY, REALLY DON'T GET IT. Am I alone? Am I unhip? Am I too old and cranky and squeamish to appreciate a good crime scene recreation? 

Here's the thing: I love Autumn. I love this time of year. I love the costumes and the candy and communal aspect that comes from trick-or-treating and Halloween parties. I love a pumpkin patch as much as the next girl.  I appreciate a witty Halloween ensemble and a festive, spiked punch.  

But you know what I don't love? Violence. Brutality. Gore. Torture.  Or, you know, ax- murderers. So I guess I have a difficult time understanding why it is P.C. for us to celebrate and elevate these things simply because tis' the season.  In March, we say "Murder is terrible!" but in October, we say "Just kidding! Now it's festive and fun!" and really, it's all just very confusing. I know I shouldn't be surprised, based on the sheer number of crime-based shows and "Saw" movies that have been financially backed and produced (what are we on now? Saw XXII?). It's obvious that our society loves it some fantastic forensics. And maybe it's because I work with young adults or because I am a person of faith or because I can't get my blood drawn without passing clean out, but regardless the reason, I hope you understand how serious I am when I say that it all hurts my soul a little bit. 

Yesterday afternoon, I drove past the ol' "fake set of legs protruding from the lawnmower" decoration. This morning, it was a mailbox with toddler-sized bloody hand prints. I think this recent news story is a horrifying reality check on how far over the line we have crossed.

I know Halloween is probably your favorite holiday (because it seems to be everyone's favorite holiday these days). And, if so, I ask that you wear your socially/culturally/politically ironic costume of choice proudly. Drink the spiked punch. Eat all of the candy. Dance with every mummy you can find. But, before you squeeze on the fake blood or purchase a few more severed limbs, just for "fun",  consider what you are celebrating and, thus, what you are communicating. Spooky is different from atrocity. Scary is different than brutality. Children are noticing. New generations are observing. Culture is being shaped. 

Call me close-minded. Call me ridiculous. But I'm not the one with a bloody chainsaw propped by my door as I greet the neighborhood children.