Saturday, April 9, 2016

what spring brings

the desert sun through a desert tree, sweet glimpse of valley life in Mesa, AZ.

My heart swells as I reflect upon my recent trip to Phoenix, AZ. There is nothing I needed more than to be back in my old hometown of Mesa surrounded by familiar faces. It was the perfect way to end the month of March and the long winter season. I could unfold my deepest emotions on how it feels to be among family and friends again. The laughter, the personality quirks and clashes, the familiar conversations, and on and on. Some days, I just cannot even process the way my heart has been split into pieces across Arizona and Colorado. It hurts too much. I never envisioned a life without the nearness of those closest to me. So, I let my heart hurt and remind myself to maintain receptive hands to where I am now. 

The highlights of my March visit to Arizona: 

flying on a plane // I haven't done this since 2010 and it was inspiring to experience that excitement of take-off and landing, not to mention the gorgeous views. I am glad I don't fly often because I wouldn't want that experience to get old or boring. 

Waffles at Waffle Love // I have an obsession with waffles. I just can't deny it. So, for over a year now, it has been on my bucket list to visit this neat little shop in Gilbert, AZ where they make gluten-free waffles with an incredible array of toppings. It did not disappoint. Hands down, the BEST waffle I have ever eaten in my life! It was so perfect that I ended up at Waffle Love twice in one week (thanks to a friend who decided a spontaneous drive there sounded like the best way to spend the evening, haha!).

The Musical Instrument Museum // This place has also been on my bucket list even before I moved away from Phoenix. It was more grand than I expected! Endless exhibits of authentic instruments from every region and continent around the world. The museum was so vast that my family and I didn't even view the entire thing after 3 hours. We were too tired and hungry - haha! But it was still worth every moment to see as much as we did! As a musician, I have a deep appreciation for the craft of instrument making. I am fascinated by the varied mediums used and the detailed skills that go into assembling objects of sound. I took hundreds of photos while I was there (so many gorgeous instruments that I was oogling over!), but I'll just summarize my visit there with these photos.

Friends I haven't seen since 2013 // No words to describe seeing a handful of faces that I haven't seen in person since November 2013. My heart was overjoyed and so deeply grateful for the few that came to visit me during my stay in Mesa. I cannot say how much just seeing them meant to me. I have had many people drift out of my life since I moved away. Long distance is so, so hard. It's also revealing. It tests and tries. I am honest with myself and others that this has brought on a chronic struggle with bitterness (from feeling forgotten and unimportant) for me. I am learning the strenuous work of loving truly but also holding people loosely with no expectations. It's difficult and it hurts and I think I hear some pieces of my heart shatter every time I am confronted with the reality that some people are just drifting out of my life for good. This journey is not one I would have chosen and, yet, I want to live as if I had chosen this for myself. I want that freedom in all my relationships. To say hello and farewell with tenderness and surety. Then, I'll more graciously love and invest in the few friendships that have remained. 

My darling friend picking Chamomile in her garden.

family and friends, all ladies of light in my life.

 And this one goes without saying - special one-on-one time with family and friends // Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with mom, dad, sister, brother, cousin, friends. Each moment was treasured and filed into my 2016 memory bank of happy moments that this year has brought to me. We all have difficult realities in our lives, as well as some sweet blessings. To laugh together and to spend a moment where we forget the burdens we still face every day makes for some valuable memories. I simply cannot wait for the next time we get to enter into such moments together.

And just to highlight some of my favorite things right now:

Gungor's latest album, One Wild Life: Spirit // The second of 3 full length albums was released last month and I snatched it up right away! I'm lovin' it! It's so much fun to hear Gungor growing musically and trying out new sounds. They've got some 1980s grooves going on there! Fun stuff! Because I wasn't as impressed by their 2013 album, I Am Mountain, I have been savoring their latest releases. I Am Mountain just didn't resonate with me as much, but the One Wild Life series is so deeply personal and exploratory. It is meeting me right where I am at in terms of identity, the love of God, and the essence of our humanity and the glory of His Spirit-Life. Anthem, Love Is All, Hurricane are my top three fav tracks to put on repeat at the moment.

Outlander Season 2 // Episode 1, Through a Glass, Darkly, has premiered this week and it is everything crazed, obsessed fans (like me!) have been waiting for. The contrast and struggles of Claire's two lives in the 1940s and 1740s was so authentically portrayed. This season has already captured the essence of Dragonfly in Amber. The heartbreak, the turmoil, the excitement, the risk! Although I know what's coming, watching the book come to life on screen makes for such an amazing and fresh experience!

 Rocky Mountain Oils // So, many know that I've been a loyal fan of Young Living oils since December 2011. I have refused to purchase any "lesser" oils (haha I'm such a snobby perfectionist, I know!) because Young Living really is a world leader in essential oils. However, let's be honest. They are pricey. For the amount of oils I use each year, I've known for awhile now that my budget is simply never going to work with YL's prices. Recently, I was extremely grateful to learn about a company that is transparent about their oils and works hard to give their customers nothing but high quality oils. They have lots of information regarding their process of testing oils on their website. After much research, reading, and consideration, I decided to make my first purchase and I have been pleased with my first week using RM's oils. I really appreciate that they carry a line of oil singles and blends that meets my needs. I don't need anything super fancy with rare oils from the jungles of wherever. haha! I know what I like and what I need and use on a day to day basis. Also, their free U.S. shipping makes me extremely happy. ^_^ I think I found a reputable essential oil company that doesn't need to boast or compete with fuss or show. Pure quality, simple and straight-forward, great customer service, and affordable prices. Yay!

 Artifact Uprising // As I predicted I would be, I am obsessed with the prints over at Artifact Uprising. Love the quality, the texture, the clean and minimalist style! I ordered some prints of our wedding photos and snapshots I've taken from some of our travels. I displayed them above our living room couch for us to savor every day, which makes our space feel more home-y. I think I'll be ordering many more prints from them in the future.




  Spring is slowly beginning to touch Durango. It feels nice to not have to bundle up like an oompa-loompa every time I step outside my door. I am happily anticipating the warmth and beauty of summer here and spending more time in nature. I am trying to choose uplifting thoughts about the upcoming summer season even with my ongoing health battles. As of now, I have committed to a month of dry needling and muscle care at a reputable physical therapy place here in town. Dry needling is a lesser-known form of therapy for severe muscle tension and chronic pain. After much research and informed second opinions, I sense that I might be finally on the right specific path that I've been needing to be on for a long while now. Chronic pain has been a crippling force in my every day life. After months of confusion and fear, I have finally felt brave enough to commit my time, finances, and energy towards something that will help restore my body. In between work, class, domestic chores, and adulting, I rarely have time to truly do something restorative for my whole self. I am praying this is a step in the right direction. Along with this, I hope to try out different ways to be creative each week (through my photography and musical endeavors). I am learning how to incorporate these things into my scheduled adult life because I know I need a balance between work and creativity and rest. This will probably take years to master, but I might as well get started on it. Here's to a rewarding spring and summer!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

shall not want

Our anniversary passed with a fun trip to Pagosa Springs and documenting our third year with photos along Rim Drive near Fort Lewis College. It's a crazy beautiful view of the mountains surrounding Durango up there. 

Then, I turned 27 last week.
I am not too excited about my late twenties. Since my 25th year, life has been a series of hard realities. I am holding out hope for my 30s to be much more promising.

Over this past Christmas break, two parents of the toddlers that I care for at the preschool spoke really important words into my heart. One mother specifically affirmed me for my patience. The other mom noted my kindness. Both instances brought me to tears as I reflected upon them later. For anyone who has known me over the course of my life, patience and kindness are not attributes that come naturally to me. I have a difficult time thinking of myself in those terms and, yet, I want more than anything to be remembered for them. Working with toddlers is definitely a test of my patience and kindness; however, since they are only 2 years old, I really don't expect much from them so I find it much easier for my patience and kindness to endure around them. Perhaps that's the issue: expectations. When expectations are non-existent, I find myself capable of so much more. I thought that having my expectations smashed and beaten into a messy pulp over and over again these past several years would have rid them once and for all from my life! But it has not been so. I think expectations spring partly from dreams and longings and that's how they continue to find their way back into my day to day. Maybe expectations are the results of the way our minds perceive such longing and dreams to come about. The battlefield in the mind. Always fierce and strong. That's where I want to be free. In my mind. To experience thoughts that are no longer caged, small, and unformed. Then, I may live who I truly am.

Once again, my husband and I find ourselves on the edge of another change and transition in our lives. A part of me may always be waiting for the year where life becomes really slow and uneventful, but I think I'm just teasing myself to think that will happen anytime soon. While uncertainty and hot emotions have clouded our vision, we both came to a point on our own time where we decided to take the other's hand and greet the days ahead together. Now, on the dawn of my 28th year of life and our 4th year of marriage, I have one plea which I have found in a song by the lovely Audrey Assad:

I Shall Not Want

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

// Mary Oliver //

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

3 Years

Today is our 3rd wedding anniversary. 

In 3 years, we have lived in 3 different states. Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado. We have a thing for the southwest, I think.

Nolan graduated college and found a new job after spending years at a dead-end job.

After spending 2.5 years as a stay-at-home wife, I entered a new chapter as a caregiver for toddlers and preschool teacher aide (both of which I am now on the path to becoming teacher qualified).

We have experienced some of the most harsh disappointments in these years. We have also experienced immense financial blessings and support. We have explored the southwest together. And we have grown leaps and bounds in learning ourselves, our weaknesses, strengths, likes/dislikes, and what we want to pursue in this life.

We both agree that we're becoming increasingly more honest as time moves on. We have seen each other hit rock bottom in our personal lives more times than we can count. Three years can throw more at you than you are capable of balancing on your own, or even with an extra pair of shoulders. So, now, we know...marriage isn't for the faint of heart. If someone would have told my 23 year old engaged self that even with all my head-knowledge how utterly unprepared I was for this wild ride, I would have chosen to marry anyway. I would have chosen this path regardless. And, today, I still choose this path even though I haven't fully processed all that I have experienced on my own, as a young wife, living out of state away from my family, friends, and all the comforts of my 23 years of life in Arizona, sheltered and protected. Honestly, I feel like I have been wandering the wilds with this man I have always referred to as "my ranger." Pardon my frankness, but there is no way in hell I was ever prepared for this! Yet, here I am and here we are. Together. These three years have changed us, are changing us.

How many times have we washed one another's feet since that February afternoon we said "I do", I wonder? 

A number that I stopped counting long ago in the way one loses count in the number of breaths since birth. It's easy to keep the muscle exercised out of necessity, but keeping it exercised for mere wonder's sake is the real gift. That is what we are humbled in each passing day.

We hurt and disappoint each other. There are days we grow apart, feeling lost. Then, days we drift into each other's arms, found again. We work to delight each other, to be the one to make the other smile so sincerely.

How can one person bring out all the best and the worst in you simultaneously? 

This a mystery I am living. 

The Apostle Paul's words on marriage really are profound.

My latest marriage revelation is that the "best" that I want for my husband is not always the "best" that God intends for him. Becoming open-hearted to the evolution of changes in your other half is not easy. Sometimes, it feels like you get to be a part in steering them towards their destiny, but in reality, you're not. You just get to walk with them towards Glory, whatever highs and lows that entails along the way. When it was written that Love is patient, I like to think there was an assumed footnote in there that reads: "especially and particularly for the married." Pretty sure that's what Paul wanted to get across to us married folk. ;) Because this is marriage: a long walk to Glory. We don't get to control or call the shots for any portion of it. But we get to build trust...if we want to. We get to enter into a level of vulnerability that would scare even emotionally well-balanced individuals...if we want to. We get to treat each other in all gentleness, compassion, kindness, and grace. If one wants to. And I say if because, let's be honest, humans don't always want to. And that is completely understandable. Living in the mystery of marriage is beyond the best of our human abilities.

But we want to. 

I want to.
And, some days, I laugh and cry at the same time because...gosh darn it, this is SO hard and I want to!

I find that kind of hilarious.

I have and will always say that on February 10, 2013 I made the best and hardest decision of my entire life. Nolan and I chose to walk each other to Glory, come what may. 3 years sounds like a minuscule amount of time and, yet, everything about these few years have been of paramount importance.

Holding his hand, being a receiver of his glances, and having his familiar presence accompany me through the days is what I enjoy about my husband. I love him as Christ loves me and this is all that matters.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

winter contemplations

A January sunset, beautiful and bitterly cold.

January was a dreary month. Can I confess that I miss mild and warmer weather? I am anxious for summer again!

Coming into the new year, I am aware I need to balance work and play better than I have been. I work at my day-care/preschool job and, then, I come home to do more work....meals, cleaning, and maintenance of the home. I do not allow myself to rest often and that, I believe, has contributed to my decline of health. I think this will be a year of learning to balance these life routines. 

My journey towards health and emotional wholeness has been rocky and haphazard. I am still trying to listening to my body, to learn what it needs and when. I am seeing a gentle herbalist at my favorite local Durango herb shop. She is helping me focus on key plants and nutrients to feed my body. It will take time to reap long term benefits on this path, but I sense that I am more stabilized since beginning my routine of herb tinctures and homeopathy.  I am giving my adrenals lots of Vitamin C, B complex, and magnesium...building blocks for energy, immunity, and stress management. I love the way my medicine bottles look together, so I had to snap a photo to remember...


One piece at a time, our cozy two bedroom apartment is becoming a place of personality and rest. These are just a couple of the many new items that have found a place in our home. I admit that I have been feeling rather materialistic lately. I am pondering why I feel guilty about spending money on house decor and kitchen items. It's not as if I am blowing money without any forethought. I have spent long hours carefully selecting which items I plan to buy, each of their purpose in our space, and finding the best deal for the style I am looking for. Yet, even with all my wise planning, I still feel tinges of guilt. You see, I grew up in a very privileged family. We always had money. We never wanted for anything. We were a thriving and well-to-do middle class family. As much as I loved being comfortable, I began to slowly, over time, resent our comfy lifestyle because I sensed the relational factor in my family was becoming rather dull and shallow (for many reasons that I knew nothing about at the time!) and that much of our emphasis was placed on money and stuff. Ever since then, I have pushed away from wanting a typical modern American lifestyle of comfort because I sensed that it distracts from the things in life that are most valuable. It certainly can and does, but obviously that doesn't make a comfortable lifestyle in and of itself a sin. Yet, in my heart, it is hard to separate the two. I still equate materialism (even a healthy and wise approach to spending) to a shallow, dull, and distracted life. That's why I feel guilt mingling with my excitement as I purchase items for our place. I haven't been able to shake myself free from it. I truly believe it is important to create beautiful spaces at home. It's important to come home to an inviting space at the end of the day instead of just bare white walls and empty rooms. Perhaps I just haven't reconciled certain things from my past life with my present life. As I find time and again, my past continues to echo loudly into my present in the most unexpected places. It's as if I keep referencing the past as a guide on how to live my new life as an adult, married, living away from my family and all that was once familiar. However, as I am learning, the past is not the best reference for such matters, especially when drastic changes have taken place in such a short amount of time. That was then, this is now. Two different lives, two different seasons. My only guide can be Jesus. In Him, there is no shame, no guilt, no regret. I want to bold with Him, to have courage to face and accept my present life with gratitude.

 As always, the most important part of my life is my husband and our marriage. In just a few days we will celebrate three full married years together. I cannot grasp that we have lived in three different states in just three years! We were both thinking on this wild journey recently and kind of laughing at ourselves. From day one, we threw ourselves intensely into our marriage and our life goals together. After three years of burning hot, we are aware of how much we have worn ourselves down by making it such an upward climb. Sometimes, I observe and try to understand married couples who are super laid-back and know how to play and have fun and take everything in stride. How do they do that, I wonder? My husband and I, although vastly different in our hobbies and interests, are very much alike in temperament. Introverted, intense, idealistic, and we pour our heart and soul into whatever pursuit we feel strongly about. We do both take different approaches (my husband being the more pragmatic, money-savvy one! haha), but everything we do has to be done with a full, invested heart or not at all. Because of this, we suffer from strong emotional highs and lows. Let me just say, married life with someone of the same temperament is pretty intense, particularly when experiencing dramatic life changes and transitions. Somewhere along the way, we became very drained and forgot how to simply have fun. I think adulthood does this to almost everyone, unfortunately. And, sadly, I recognize that this intensity factor of my personality/temperament is part of the reason why I have never had many close friends (haha, my idea of "fun" has always been about being fiercely introspective and contemplative about ALL the deep things of life - one of the many reasons Nolan and I connected from the first time we met). I am starting to create a self-dialogue in my mind to ease myself away from always turning on the burner about every little thing. It's hard, but I think I need to give myself some slack and learn how to "just have fun" for once in my life - in small, doable, and enjoyable ways. I think as we enter into our fourth married year, I want to try to just smile and play more. I want to give my husband those opportunities to enjoy life and laugh again. Sometimes, it's the very, very simple things that nurture a marriage relationship. Marriage is a field in which you are constantly learning and having to adapt and take up new skills....skills that can be as simple as laughing and playing. And those are some memories I want to make with this love of mine.

Christmas with my man, 2015.