Tuesday, September 6, 2016

colorado life & identity struggles

 Summer's gone. It's difficult to accept. It felt incredibly short this year and I didn't make the most of it as I had hoped. Oh well, next year, right? There's a definite chill in the air and it makes me a little melancholy, but I'll survive another Colorado winter. ;) 

So, what did August bring? Mostly, routine. And, for that, I am grateful. As much as my free-spirited self loves spontaneity and fun, I really feel more grounded when there is routine in my life. I am living a blessed life here in Colorado and I do not take this season for granted at all.

My husband took me on a long back road drive through the mountains during one of the last warm weekends of the summer. We drove along Missionary Ridge and ended up at Henderson Lake, where we took our little boat out on the water. We ate our Jimmy John sandwiches and chocolate as we basked in the peaceful late morning glow. Finding private getaways is my husband's area of expertise and I have enjoyed many nice locations with him over the few years of our marriage. 

Photos on the boat had to be taken with my cell phone as there was no way I was risking my DSLR camera on the water! hehe!

The view on the drive down from Missionary Ridge!

On another weekend, we woke up early to savor the first delights of the Durango Farmer's Market. It was pure bliss! Live Celtic Irish music greeted us as we strolled through the market and I felt immense happiness. Then, the morning was topped off by purchasing a grain-free peach tart and local made kombucha. Best market experience ever!

Who is that handsome man strolling through the market? ^_^ hehe!

I had my first photo session with a former coworker and her daughter for a mommy and daughter shoot. It's something I have been wanting to do for awhile and, thus, I am pretty much offering a free photo session to anyone willing to be in front of my camera along with the edited photos. I have aspirations to do my own photography business one day, but anything business-related terrifies me. So, I'm not exactly sure it's for me. There are many roles that I would have learn to how to play and I should probably look into a photography business class at some point to see what it all entails. But for the moment I am just going to enjoy the artistic side of it and work on taking lifestyle/portrait sessions and Photoshop Lightroom editing. One step at a time.

Towards the end of the month, I was offered a weekend babysitting gig, which meant extra spending money...which meant...I had to splurge at Natural Grocers Vitamin Cottage - my favorite place to shop for food!

And I ended up baking some mouth-watering almond bread and a delicious raw cherry pie. I was in heaven! Whenever I find a recipe that turns out perfectly and tastes exactly the way I enjoy, I become incredibly giddy! I am filing these two in my recipe box for all time. 

  Working and getting practical daily matters completed doesn't leave me much time for creativity. It's frustrating some days, but I am settling into being at peace with it. Everything shall happen in its time. I do plan to commit more days these next two months to continuing my music endeavors. Also, by next month's post, I shall be able to share photos of some home projects I have been putting together. Yay! :)
  In the midst of all my doing, working, and keeping myself busy [too busy!], I have had moments to ruminate on this season of my life and the future goals that I am striving towards [creatively, domestically, health-wise, etc]. One of those "goals" (if it can even be labeled as such) is maturing into independence. I came into adulthood late. I would say it hit me flat in the face by my mid-twenties. Before then, I hadn't even a clue. As much as I resent the realities of adulthood, I would still really like to fully come into my own. There's a lot I can express about this, but more specifically, I have recently meditated upon the relational aspect to my independence. For most of my life I was a daughter and a sister and much of my identity was defined by family. As I grew, I sought to move this into the realm of friendship, but that repeatedly met in heartbreak as I realized my ideas of friendship were starkly different from others. Even in recent years, I have experienced that disappointment again, especially after I moved from my home state. But when Nolan came into my life, I found a friend and a lover and someone worthy of leading my heart. There is nothing quite so exhilarating and special as this! Naturally, he became my entire world. And, as comes so terribly natural to my way of being, I fell into defining my whole self by my marriage relationship. I've been all-in since we first started our relationship. In fact, in my mind, there is no other way of being for myself. However, as time and experience reveals to everyone, I cannot strictly define myself by my relationship to another. Relationships are deeply significant to many aspects of our personalities, characters, and way of being. But it easy to lose one's sense of self in another. I have seen it happen before. This realization struck me boldly in the heart and I found myself asking, how do I allow my self to be content in the self created by God and also be in such an intimate relationship with another? Before, those two were mutually exclusive to me. Not that I totally lost sense of my own identity apart from my husband, but more like I just couldn't be at rest in my aloneness apart from him. He had to be part of everything I was, every thought and feeling and action. That's how I roll. As I occasionally and teasingly sing to my husband, "All or nothing at all/half a love doesn't appeal to me..." Those are lines from a Diana Krall tune, for those of you who don't know. ;)
   I've reflected on all this in regards to my marriage, a gift which is so beyond precious to me and also the hardest experience of my life. The trials that we've endured together in the short 3.5 years of our marriage have inspired these thoughts that I am still searching out. I think it's strange that I am learning this in marriage. I think, shouldn't I have learned this as a single? But not necessarily. Perhaps, whether one is single or in a relationship, a healthy form of independence is needed to remain objective and to fall back on one's own sense of self. Not selfishly, I must emphasize. I run the risk of sounding like our awful me-centered American society. Ugh! Dear God, that's not how I want to sound! What I am trying to get at is a sense of being grounded in the identity one is given by God. It's the only lasting identity because anything else we regard ourselves by is just temporary. Personally, without my husband, my family, and anyone close to me, who am I? That is the question I am asking. When the ones I love disappoint me or, perhaps, cannot meet a need of mine, who am I? How do I stand without that flow of acknowledgement or affirmation so long needed or received by them? Can I enjoy an experience or seek out an activity without their presence? I am reaching for the fundamentals here. I want to not only know the practicalities of how this can be lived out, but also the emotional side to it. I am overcome by waves of longings for the nearness of family or my husband when I am experiencing certain places or hobbies. I also have experienced a heartache when I hear of or see photos of my loved ones doing something without me. I want us all partaking of life at one another's side. But that's not reality. It's a great struggle and I often wonder how there could ever be such balance or rest in it.  Yet, I am touched by the importance of wrestling with these things. Mostly, I desire peace in this. For me, there is only one option in relationships: forever. But relationships don't last forever. Whether they come and go in life as individuals part ways or the flesh breaths its last, relationships, simply put, don't last forever. This is a grand and obvious reality that I am thinking upon here. It's actually a very terrifying one for me. I have never, ever taken lightly to friends moving out of my life, even if it's on peaceful terms and our paths are simply just weaving two opposite directions. I wish I could give an accurate description of the overwhelming emotions that unleash in my being when this has happened in my life. It makes me ponder, whatever will I do when its time for my parents to depart from this life? Or, if my husband passes before me?! Or, one of my siblings?! Or friends?! Yeah, I am thinking about death. How awfully morbid of me. But hey, these are where my thoughts often lead. haha! Don't worry, I am not thinking of death so grimly. I am just dwelling upon it to gain perspective and wisdom about how I am to live my days now. Nevertheless, I have digressed from my original thoughts on how all this pertains to my marriage and family-life, which is my present focus.

I desire peace in my own being. To go about life, sometimes needing to experience or make choices alone, and to acknowledge my own emotions on the sadness of it and yet strengthening in my ability to be alone. It's important, I feel, to begin to learn this now. My hopes to one day enter motherhood are in the distance. I want to come into an understanding of these matters before I welcome a mini-me into this world. However, even if I never have a child of my own, I want to come into a state of restfulness in my relationships to others. I am sure this will be a lifelong journey. Most likely, there is no state of arrival, but I do hope for peace. Maybe this sounds like a cliche verse to quote at this moment, since it's typically Christian to head slam with this passage below. But instead of reading it through the rigid lens of "I should/I ought/I need to," I am thinking of this verse as God's gentle Fatherly reminder to come under His wings and rest in this truth. I don't have to know how this works. I don't have to be mature and have it all together already. I just have to accept that there is contentment even in a state of need and that the experience of it comes when it comes. All I do is trust.

 for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 
// Philippians 4:11-13 //
A wildflower field my husband brought me to along Missionary Ridge! Oh, Colorado!!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

goodbye july

Late summer is on our doorstep and that makes me a tad anxious. Winter will be here before I know it and that means less time outside. >_<  While locals complained of the dry heat that accompanied this past month, I was savoring it. It was wondrous and made me feel alive! July was non-stop busy and mostly involved working extra hours at my job. I didn't do as many fun summer activities as I had wanted to, but August is my second chance! Even still, July was semi-productive. I have been somewhat of a recluse lately due to some creative goals that I am working on. For those who don't know, I am in the process of copyrighting a collection of my songs so that I will be able to share them via the internet without fear of some weirdo laying claim to my originals. This goal has been slow going so I cannot say when I will have it completed. I am recording each of my songs for this and that takes me quite a bit of practice and time. I am halfway there, though! Woot! Also, in the creative department, I have been putting up some finishing decor touches in our master bedroom (which takes money and time, ugh!), but I hope to share photos of the results in a couple months or so. For now, here's a sneak peek of two adorable side tables I snagged at a consignment shop right across the street from us. These tiled tables are from Mexico!


While I didn't "get out" as much as I had hoped this past month, I did enjoy some peaceful moments at Lemon Lake and along the Animas River. I have been taking lots of walks lately and it has done wonders for my mood. My time at physical therapy has really begun to pay off as I have had more days of no pain this past month than in previous months! Long days at my job are a challenge for me in this regard. Because my job is very physical, it is easy to feel "set back" in the progress I am making with my muscular health. However, as I have increased the number of exercises and weights that my physical therapist recommended to me, I have felt more consistent results in being able to recover sooner from long and exhausting days at work. This has been a wonderful breakthrough in my battle with chronic pain and I am incredibly grateful!

The harvest has slowly started to come in at the Rhodes' homestead. Nolan's parents' are so generous in regards to the amount of food they give us. It's difficult to come up with recipes with some of the vegetables they give us (particularly since I work and feel too lazy to cook complicated meals), but I made pretty good use of a large cabbage head by cooking some deliciously divine cabbage beef rolls. I am not a fan of cabbage, but I ate these three nights in a row and did not complain! I can't believe I was able to make something so good! Also, I threw together some nourishing quiche pies from the eggs from his parents' chickens.

Chocolate, almond butter, coconut milk popsicles!

Blueberry and coconut cream popsicles!

 Also, these two photos below are but a small glimpse of their peach tree harvest. This peach-obsessed fan is all jittery about it! We will be picking these for the next few weekends, but the load that was ripe towards the end of July were incredibly juicy and sweet. I was dreaming about peaches that whole weekend! *sigh*

My husband purchased himself a motorcyle in July and I am so glad for him. He first mentioned his desire for one when we were dating back in 2012. Over the years, he has continued to mention it in passing. Well, I was thankful that he was done talking about it and finally decided to just pursue buying one! haha! It's his perfect escape during the days that he needs to recharge and find solace along some back roads through the mountains. 

Near the end of the month, Nolan's family came to Durango to visit for some quality time. My brother-in-law's husband, Brian, and his family traveled from Ohio to join in. It was my first time meeting Brian's talented and spirited family! We had several days together to get to know one another and visit. Much time was spent enjoying fine dining at Durango eateries and we even got to take some of them on a hike along the Colorado Trail. It was a great way to end a long month!

My husband will kill me for sharing this, but it's not every day that I get to capture him and his siblings in their environment! hehe!

Also, I just cannot forget to mention...the Outlander season finale aired July 9th and my heart was a-flutter! While there was a certain, new, main character that grated upon my nerves as much as she does in the books (seriously! The trauma that await her in book 4 I feel absolutely no sorrow about! She's obnoxious!), it was still glorious to see the final events of book 2 on screen! It was exhilarating!! While there were two departures from the book this season that I wasn't entirely happy about it, everything was perfected in this scene....

It was more breathtaking and moving on screen than in the book! <insert a million heart/tear emjoi's here> Loved the tender changes they made to this scene as it captured their relationship powerfully.

Anyway, I haven't been *this* obsessed with a fandom in a long time. I must be allowed to squeal!

Oh yeah, in case one couldn't tell from my July photos, I chopped my hair off shorter a couple weeks ago. After watching Downton Abbey (just completed season 5), I was inspired to go with the bob, a style that I haven't worn for at least 10 years. My hair doesn't really know what it wants to be right now, so I am just having fun with different cuts this past year.

In other news, now thinking about August...this next week marks a full year that I have been working my job at the preschool! What an insanely busy year full of new experiences and learning! I am so full of gratitude towards my boss who has really opened the door of opportunities and education for me in the field of early childhood development. While I first began this job just as a means of money and experience, it really has grown into something more meaningful with the children, parents, and coworkers that have filled my weeks for the past year. It hasn't been without its share of downs, but I am thankful that I have been given a second chance at doing something for myself. It has been a good path of learning more independence and growing into my adulthood (for my homeschooled, sheltered, naive-self, haha! Okay, I over-exaggerate). I am continuing to pursue my teacher qualification in this field and look forward to what this next year will bring in my learning!

Well, there's food to be cooked, more photos to be edited, rooms to be cleaned, songs to be practiced, family to call....I am signing out for now! The weekends are never long enough!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Living Word

These are words that flowed from me last month. It's somewhat of a streams-of-consciousness type poem. I penned these words after an introspective moment of looking back on the past few years of my life. It's very much a peek into my relationship with the Living Word versus the Bible. I have struggled (mostly since 2014) with reading the Bible because of the lens through which I read it for so long. Even to this very day, I struggle with the words of Scripture, not because I don't believe they are truth but due to the myriad of interpretations and misuse of them that I endured without question for a long time. I felt sad as I reflected on where I am now in relation to the Bible. I don't read it very often and I don't find any passion welling up in me for it. I just want to know how such words meet me in this broken and meandering and frustrating and blessed life. Lord knows I have desired to read the Word as I once did! But I believe His patience covers me now. The reminder that He is the Living Word through the Holy Spirit in me calms my fears. All the systems, rituals, practices, rules, and regulations that once bound me whenever I opened Scripture (and even dictated how and when I should read it) have long since been broken. My faith rests in the reality that He is Living, present and near. Perhaps it is this unshakeable truth that He means to fully restore in me before guiding me along in the "practical application." Maybe all the "doing" and "being" wore down my natural love for this simply glory.

It's been so long
Change has shaped my days

It's been so long
I wonder if this is a life
And decay

I'd say I'm sorry
I'd beg again
Forgiveness to wash me clean

You you have me speechless
Because I'm already pure
Words, simply, will not do

To plead
For what already is mine
A laughable thing

It's been so long
Your words are the same
But I,

It's been so long
I wonder how such words
Find home
In me

My hands tremble
Hesitant to receive
Fearing that in them
I might seek life again
They are they
Which speak of You

It's been so long
I don't know how to do this
Never have I known

It's been so long
I want to name myself

I'm so far removed
From condemnation
It produces
In me now

I will
With Uncertainty
That will not fail

In the earth
Of Your

All of You
Upon flesh and blood.

Monday, July 4, 2016

at long last, summer!

It's difficult to comprehend that this past June marked one full year since Nolan and I moved to Durango, CO. Our first year here marked so many highs and lows, as well as new routines and transitions and people. Durango has been my second chance. Second chance at life, health, and pursuing goals and small dreams. Recently, I came across this post on transition, uncertainty, and empty spaces and found it so very well captures this season I have been in since we moved here. When we left Albuquerque, I found myself going through yet another transition, gobs and gobs of uncertainty, and empty spaces (I purged large amounts of our stuff before we moved, so we were traveling fairly light when we arrived in our current apartment). I really needed to hope again. I mean, really hope in something more than this ever-changing life. Now, reading these words below from the above blog post, I find the child in me really just wanted to hold onto something as good and wild and full as this kind of hope:

Hope invites us to linger in the empty spaces without rushing to fill them with something – anything – just to avoid the pain of loss or the discomfort of longing.
Hope asks us to leave our certainty behind us and to let our imaginations run wild, at the risk of being disappointed and feeling foolish.
Hope tells us there’s more goodness and beauty waiting to fill us, if we can bear to be emptied in order to make room for something new.
A hope-filled life is costly, but a life without hope is far more so. A hopeless life is a limited life – clutter-filled, cramped, and awe-less.

I know that only such a hope is offered in the person of Christ and my wandering heart is constantly in a cycle of fleeing and returning to Him. In letting the knowledge of the hope He offers sink into me, I hope that I will become more anchored to this Hope in time. In so many ways, I feel like I'm such a beginner at this whole "believer in Christ" thing. So many questions, doubts, and fears flood me all the time. I get sick and tired of my constant struggles with anxiety, the ups and downs of living with chronic pain (which is becoming much more manageable since continuing physical therapy, but still an everyday nuisance to me!), the uncertainty in the lives of those closest to me, as well the uncertainty of life in general. But He whispers to me with His steady, unwavering promise that He is my certainty. And when I hear the Spirit in me press in this truth, I remember that He is good and I wonder on how earth I doubt His goodness so often. Every new day, the prayer of my heart is, "Lord, let the Hope of You be real to me today. Let it transform my thoughts, the way I see, the way I hear, and how I perceive myself, others, and my day."

Berry & Beet popsicle - recipe courtesy of Pinterest!
My first popsicle attempt!

To intentionally choose hope in the midst of my every day, I am seeking to enjoy the "simple things" this summer. June was a full month of trying out new eateries in town (Earth Girls and Rice Monkeys! So much yummy!), our first camping trip of the year (during which, I learned that I simply cannot and will not camp again without an air mattress!), watching my husband's little garden bloom on our balcony, binge watching Downton Abbey for my first time, and taking long walks. Every time I am strolling out in the sun, I think on how good its warmth feels on me. Having grown up in a desert-valley, I still thrive best in warmer weather. I need some kind of heat. Not only because I get to wear skirts and dresses, but heat brings with it a sense of being at home. I think summer has always done that for me. So, while its warm outside, I am living it up! Below are a summary of photos I took during June.

Camping essentials! I did lots of coloring that day!

After an exhausting and difficult day at my job, I came home to these flowers from my husband. It was a precious blessing because I know it was his way of showing that he thought of me after I texted him how tired I was half-way through my shift.


The greens from our garden have already made their way into quinoa patties and salads and tacos. It pays to have married a guy with a lineage of farmers. ;) The green thumb comes naturally! 

And, now, I must depart and take my daily walk in that wonderful sunshine.