Monday, June 30, 2008

I feel so loved...

It's amazing how when your little heart gets ripped out that you can feel such abundant love. I must say that I am so grateful for so many people:
  • Marni, who skipped class tonight to take me to get a pedicure (and for the very bright, deep red and the cutest Vietnamese woman who was so kind and sweet with my feet and told me all about her mother and her daughters), and then to walk to Shirlington for a delightful dinner. She knew exactly what to say and how to make me feel strong and good.
  • Ken, who completely accepted my emotion on the ride to work this morning, and who put his arm around me.
  • Jessica, who helps me get out of the house, and who feeds me and buys me ice cream and is the master communicator and is ok with me being me.
  • Janae, who makes me go to the pool with her in the middle of the day.
  • Jenn and Suzanne, who drive all over Virginia with me to find the ward campout--and who don't complain when I'm navigating and I don't get the drive 5.6 miles but turn first into the Prince William Park part. They dealt with the mosquitoes and humidity and were more than happy to buy dinner at Panera rather than be heroic and make tin foil dinners (do not tell my mother). Jenn who makes me get out of bed after my sacred Sunday nap, even when I want to stay in that little dark bedroom forever more, and Suzanne, who surprises me with a call to the Medicine Man, who helps me find light and feel strong.
  • Josh, who didn't even know he was getting me out of the house on Saturday afternoon by meeting me at the American Folklife festival. Even though it was ridiculously hot and humid, it was much better to be exploring the temple of Bhutan on the National Mall than the alternative (I don't know what the alternative is).
  • Michelle, who hugs me and tells me funny stories and sits by me.
  • Lindi, who distracts me with her darling daughter London during sacrament meeting.
  • Little Kim, who tells me "the h#($ with W.W.J.D." and that she wants me to be her sister-wife so we can be eternal companions (a little scary and in no way am I really considering polygamy, but it's all about the thought, people). She can always make me laugh, whether it's in Foggia, Italy, or Yuba City, California, or wherever.
  • Stace, who calls me and emails me several times a day, who validates my feelings and loves me and reminds me of who I am.
  • Ben, who calls me from the Grand Canyon because he wanted to know how I'm doing.
  • Julie, who knows how to talk smack and will be the most fiercely loyal visiting teaching companion that ever walked the earth.
  • Jen, who calls me from Chicago or Boise or wherever she was just to tell me she loves me.
  • Lee Ann, who has dreams about me.
  • Kyle, who kissed me on the cheek twice and told me how much he loves me.
  • Jen, who sent me a great email and wants to go to the pool sometime this week with me.
  • JBrink, who reminds me to take care of me.
  • Lisa, who wants me to run the Salt Lake marathon with her next spring.
The great thing is that this list could go on and on and on. How do you ever feel so inundated when you feel so empty? I don't know, but I'm so glad it works that way.

And the other great news: I'm thinking about running another marathon. I need something to fill me up right now and I am itching to hit the road. Let me get my feet moving, my muscles pounding, my heart beating in an entirely different way, and I'll find the strength to run the miles that stretch ahead of me. I'm thinking Baltimore or Richmond. Any ideas?

Friday, June 27, 2008

After a While

There's a random poem that I memorized while I was in high school, back in the day when hearts were young and susceptible to bruises and tears. For some reason it has kept coming back to me this week.

After a while you learn the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that loving doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't mean always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises.
You begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead,
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even the sunshine burns
if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every good-bye you learn.
-Veronica A. Shoffstall

So there's a lot there I agree with (I'm not afraid to buy my own flowers!), a lot that I still am not sold on yet (I WANT to believe in my future and have it not fail in mid-flight and still be strong), and a lot that I'm learning (what is the difference between holding hands, kissing, and true, genuine commitment?!?). I feel a surprising gift of grace--and I look forward to see where it takes me.

And yes, I do have a sunburn... that's what happens on days you work from home and can work at the pool...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shout Out to Deb

Celebrating our 30th birthday together in Idaho, followed by 30 hours of birthday fun

My good friend Debbie turned the big 3-4 about a month ago. I don't even know where I was on the big day--somewhere in Montana I think. At any rate, I want to give Miss Borland her due credit and celebrate her remarkable life with a few fun pictures (and anyone who knows Debbie knows that she's all about pictures). Unfortunately, most of my really really good pictures of Debbie are safe at my mom's house in Utah or committed to never ever see the light of day (don't worry, Deb, no pictures of that horrible Halloween).

Debbie and I were best friends in the fifth grade. The Borlands had moved to Provo from Midway and we were in Mrs. Cottam's class together. I loved playing at their house on Bannock Drive, where we could watch almost anything on TV (unlike the strict rules at my house) and her brothers made me laugh. That spring they moved to Mesa, but strangely enough, they moved back to Provo when we were in high school, right around the corner from our house. Deb is my running partner. She has seen me through countless races and training. Here I just ran the Moab marathon. Deb did the half, then waited for me and saw me through that last mile straight uphill. Then she thought it would be a good idea to go hike in Arches so our legs didn't get stiff before we drove home. It was a good idea, for about 20 minutes, when my legs started hurting like crazy. I wish I had pictures of our latest crazy run: the Hatfield-McCoy Family Feud marathon in West Virginia and Kentucky right before Debbie got married... this time she ran the whole darn thing with me so I wouldn't have to face the wilds of red-neck land by myself, even though she had only trained for the half.
Deb is all about the mountains and the outdoors. Here we are hiking Timpanogos one sunny Saturday. I have loved hiking and camping and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with her. So many good hiking stories (and I'm not saying anything about Y Mountain and a dirty sock). And yes, I'm wearing her mom's girls' camp visor and it says Denny on it. So many fun roadtrips with Deb. Here we were kidnapped by our friends for our 30th birthday. They told us we were going to either Wendover or the Lagoon campground, but we somehow ended up in Sun Valley. Deb and I also made our way across Europe, to visit our friend Clint in northern California, and we've partied it up in New York, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky & West Virginia, and of course all over Utah. So many good times.

One thing I love about Debbie is our church connection. She was my Relief Society counselor in the PV-7th ward years and years ago--when we had to seriously limit our presidency meetings to one hour and the agenda. Anytime anything funny or personal came up we had to write it down to talk about later so we could get the business done. And how many temples have we been to? Here we are at Manti, but we've also been to Madrid, Preston (how many train problems did we have going to both of those?), and countless others.

Here's to you, Deb, and the best year of your life yet!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Healing Power of Fire

I know, I know--a strange title for a post. I guess I've got it on my mind because I'm preparing a Sunday School lesson on Alma 5 tomorrow about spiritual cleanliness (which I do NOT want to make into a spiritual checklist). At any rate, the idea has been on my mind since my trip to Yellowstone last week.
I'm a tourist sucker--usually I don't take pictures of wildlife, but these baby buffalo were so tiny and so cute!

Yellowstone was distinctly different than Glacier: full of tourists who stopped at every bend in the road to take pictures of any wildlife (we saw bald eagles, buffalo, and antelope); schedules of Old Faithful eruptions and t-shirt sales filled the conversation of the people waiting outside the Lodge; and the rugged, harsh landscape marked decisively by the fires of 1988 triggered a lot of reflection.
You could see charred, blackened timber everywhere, blending in with the white alkaline areas of sulfur and steamy geysers. I loved seeing the fresh new growth, and reading about it in the handy National Park Service newsletter made all the difference. Did you know:
  • The fires didn't really stop until September brought rains and snow
  • Lodgepole pine and aspen adapt to fire
  • Following the 1988 fire, aspen reproduction actually increased because the fire stimulated the underground root system and left behind bare minimum soil, which provides good conditions for aspen seedlings
  • Ash is rich in minerals, and stimulated the growth of abundant wild flowers, especially because the mature overhead trees had prevented the sun from reaching the forest floor
  • Plants started growing back almost immediately--new lodgepole pines are everywhere
  • The new vegetation and growth has prevented erosion that was wearing away some of the water tables
  • Elk found more nutritious grass after the fire, and bears were not really affected by the fire
I love that. I learned an interesting lesson this morning from a wonderful man: often times the things that heal us are the things that we are the most afraid of and the things that have actually caused us the most hurt and damage. I'm on the hunt for the tools to figure out how to make it happen. Bring on the flames.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Right around the Corner

Yes, I was inspired for the title of this post from my dear friend Laurel's blog. But just to share a lesson from last week and some incredible photos, this really is the best way to describe it all.
Cousin Travis and I at McDonald Lake

Last week I went to Glacier National Park with my family. It was my first foray into this mountainous bit of heaven, and I absolutely loved it. Only 1/3 of the park was open because the snow hadn't melted yet, but the third that we experienced was incredible. My favorite part was how we stopped at almost every corner, whether that was in the car or on our feet, simply because the view was so beautiful. Waterfalls, rushing water, rugged mountains, pines, mountain goats, avalanche lakes--it was all breathtaking.Barbara, Mom, and me

I loved the hike. Ironically enough, there was a lot of mud. A LOT. I had to keep my eyes open and find creative ways to stick to the edges of the trail. Often I found myself off the trail just to avoid the mud pits. Then of course my environmentalist brother chided me for wreaking havoc off trail. It felt great after sitting in the car for a long time to move and stretch and push myself.Rushing water along the trail
And I can't explain how it was to literally walk around a bend in the trail to come upon this lake. The view at the top was incredible. The pictures don't do it justice. It was overcast, and the shades of new green and pine contrasted sharply with the rugged rock and white snow--all reflected in Avalanche Lake. The air was crisp and clear and invigorating. Ben and Travis

Makes me wonder what is around this next corner in my life...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Rise Above It

After a long 2 1/2 weeks on the road, I was so excited to come home for many different reasons. One of them was the thought of sleeping in my own bed, in my own bedroom, in the quiet darkness. This was especially appealing after one night in particular in the last available hotel room in West Yellowstone, where we fit yes six adults. Much to my chagrin, after arriving home late last Thursday night, I realized my plans had been foiled due to yet another flooding mishap. I was warmly welcomed, however, to all her sweet credit, to the floor of dear Jessica.

As I lay there, trying to be brave but feeling rather miserable, the famous words of my grandfather came to my mind: "Rise above it." Bless his heart--over the past few days I've needed that phrase over and over again. The extreme heat and humidity, the burden of judging a whole bunch of National History day websites on the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Versaille Treaty, And I've tried and tried to put a smile on my face and move on amidst the strangeness that has become my life. I've learned to go to my center peace place.

But this morning as I realized yet another flood in my bathroom and bedroom--this one much more pungent and dirty than any in the past three weeks--I just didn't know if I could do it. Needless to say, my inner peace seems to have shattered and a couple of weeks of not very good sleep have taken their toll. Not much rise left in me.

The best thing I could think of was to put things in order and buy a new bathmat--a beautiful cobalt blue, the softest these tired feet have felt in a long time. That and a chocolate milkshake put me in much better spirits. Then, as I got out of my car, when what to my tired, despondent eyes should appear, but the first firefly of the season.
That was all I needed--that little tiny glimmer of light. It is amazing how that spark has refueled me to rise above it. Here I come, Grandad! Bring it on...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's official... Josh and Jill are married...

They made it. It was a beautiful day (despite all the last-minute snafus, and there were plenty, believe me. To protect the innocent AND the guilty, I will leave them all undescribed. One day it will all be very laughable, but for now, enjoy the pictures.). I'm so happy for them!

And so happy that I NEVER have to wear the purple dress again... a great tender mercy...

A River Runs Through It, or, I Heart Montana

I always forget how much I love and miss the mountains until I see them again. Don't get me wrong... I love the trees and gently rolling hills of the East Coast, but when I'm in the West, I love the mountains. On Wednesday, Deana met me after work and we rode bikes up Provo Canyon. It was the perfect way to spend a beautiful summer Utah evening... and the perfect push into the mountains of Montana.
On Thursday we drove to Montana for Josh's wedding. We stopped for a picnic at the gas station in Tremonton (my family is a picnicking family--always a picnic wherever we go--it's in the genes), where it must always be super windy. What a drive--through Idaho, past West Yellowstone, up the Gallatin River Valley, with mountains, the perfect river for rafting, incredible pines and aspens, and of course, wildlife. We saw a moose, antelope, deer, all kinds of birds. The sights and smells were invigorating.
Cousin Travis and me along the Gallatin River

We're staying in Bozeman, with a two-hour drive to Billings for the wedding on Friday and another two-hour drive on Saturday in the other direction to Helena for the reception. I think we've gotten a good feel for the state, from the plains to the mountains. We've seen rainbows and incredible sunlight streaming through the clouds. It's all very green right now. And breathtaking. I loved running yesterday morning through the fields with the mountains framing each end of the Bozeman valley. The fresh air and my pounding legs remind me that I'm alive and fills my core. Today we're headed to Glacier National Park for more Montana adventures.
The fresh air, the breathtaking vistas, the clean rain, the open space--I really think they make this God's country for me right now. And I have needed a piece of that.