Hands clasped tight

21 October 2015

Ryan and I drove up to Salt Lake after work to meet with our realtor. His office is above one of the former yogurt shops we used to frequent a lot in downtown Sugarhouse. As we walked across the street to his office, I pulled Ryan's hand towards the yogurt shop:

"Wait, look at this sign on the window really quick. Oh my gosh look at that chocolate-topped yogurt!!!"

Ryan tugs my hand.

"Wait, oh look, Ryan!  Inside the window - a sign with all the new flavors!"

Ryan peels me away and then says, "I had to.  Otherwise you would have said,
'Let's go inside to just smell really fast.'
'Let me just give a quick little lick to the yogurt nozzles.'
'Actually, some sample cups please?'
'Nah, a regular bowl.'
'Perhaps, is there a bucket in the back I could use?' "

Laughing hysterically, we keep walking down the sidewalk to our intended office building. 

The unstinting, uncomplicated simplicities of a young marriage.

Upward and onward,

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The Beauty of Alaska!

17 October 2015

I arrived after three red-eye flights. 

Ryan had been away in Alaska for half a week.  And after several days, one of the men on the trip offered to use his sky miles to fly me up.  Of course Ryan and I eagerly accepted his offer, and within hours, Ryan had booked me a flight.

I finally arrived in the one-room Kodiak airport at 7:30 am, hardly oriented to my surroundings, let alone to my own fatigued mind.  I mazed my way through the room, stepping into the spaces between people, unsure of where the exit door even was as I couldn't see past the mob of people waiting to leave the island.  I only concluded that the way of exit would be opposite of the door of entry, so I pushed hopefully towards the opposite wall.

Suddenly I felt a hard tug on the handle of my backpack - the backpack that is my front-row company to every adventure I've had around the world.  I whiz around in total startle, and I see Ryan's smiling face.  His beard, his eyes - it has felt so long since I've seen him.  We embrace for a long time, and he feels so good.  He takes all my bags, and guides me out to the car that his possey has rented for the week.  A giant white 17- passenger van.  He opens the passenger door for me, as he unfailing always does, and helps me climb up inside.  "FISH!!" I shriek, "Oh my gosh this smells SO strongly of fish."  He laughs as he climbs in the drivers seat.  "It sure does."  And the fish smell only makes the moment more endearing.

We drive through the streets of Kodiak, chatting endlessly, and I'm trying to take everything in.  The forests, the rivers, the sunrise, the coastal houses, the boat docks, the fisherman's ports.  It's all so expected for a tiny fisher town in Alaska, and that makes it only more desirable.

I look over, and Ryan keeps looking back at me smiling.  "You are so beautiful," he says.  "I have missed you." I lean over and kiss his cheek, beaming back at him.  "I have missed you too!"

We arrive at the house they are renting, a perfect coastal house.  The fishy smells, the sandy humid air, the slats on the house, sitting right on the river with the fishing boats passing by.  Ryan takes me inside and begins showing me around.  The house is completely silent as everyone is out fishing, save one man and his wife who are upstairs - the one's who generously flew me here.  Ryan and I reacquaint ourselves after so many days apart with endless giggling, flirting, and touching.  After Ryan has made sure I'm fed and comfortable, he heads out fishing.  I spend the morning catching up on work, and then Ryan comes back with all the men to pick me and the other wife up for lunch.  Two wives, six men.

We eat at a dive diner, and I love being with Ryan and all these men as they share their passion.  I accompany them out to the lake for more fishing for the rest of the afternoon.  I watch Ryan fly fish, and I walk around the little trails, admiring the such beautiful scenery.

After hours of relaxing in this beautiful, secluded place, we begin the drive back to town for dinner.  Then Ryan and I are dropped off at a hotel on the side of town, where we will be able to share a bed and be more comfortable.

The next morning, Ryan leaves early to go fishing, while I sleep in and relax in the hotel room.  He comes back for me when the men are ready for breakfast, and then I walk back in the Alaskan sun to the hotel room.  I spend the day hunkered down in perfect solitude, completely tasks that are in my top queue - switching my email address in every online account, cleaning out my old email inbox to total emptiness, writing a heartfelt thank you card for all the wedding gifts from friends and family, and finishing up the documentation of my Philippines trip.  I spent the next couple days in this same pattern, focusing on my tasks, taking walks through the town when I desired fresh air.  And there, the air is the freshest.  Each evening, Ryan and I would go out with all the other men for a meal.  I loved listening them talk about their days and their passion of fishing.  I loved the other wife who was their who served as the mother and doer of the group.

Finally the morning arrived when we were dropped off at the airport with boxes and boxes of freshly caught fish.  Ryan and I flew home, filled with sweet rejuvenation.  It was the perfect tucked away half week for me.  Exactly what I needed.

I continually look forward to my life with Ryan, where each adventure with him is so restful to my soul, and each moment is so happy.

Upward and onward,

On the way out of the fishing spot, I was looking at Ryan's instagram, because he had just posted a picture.  And I found myself dead center:  It was so representative.  He lives with such passion and hobbies, but I am always the center of his life.  I LOVED this, so I screenshat it.  Makes me feel so surrounded and protected by this super talented and incredible man.

The hotel that I burrowed into, burrowed into the side of a mountain.
Finally home with BOXES of fish!!

I call back my serenity, my restfulness, my joy


Meditation was a slow awakening for me.  One that I had to fast about in order to get a foot in the door.  My mind was like a child who had gone undisciplined for so long, that willing him to spend some time in perfect serenity yielded a more exhausting outcome.  But I sought after the intense peace of so many enlightened thinkers that I've read about.  I completely believe in painfree, heightened living.  But it takes dedication and time.

As I kept up with my practice of meditation, it became easier and easier for me.  I began meditating daily while sitting in front of a sun lamp.  The effects became so distinct that I began meditating twice a day.  Sometimes up to an hour a day.

And one Monday night, I engaged in an extremely strong meditation before bed.  Then I drifted off to sleep, after targeting areas of my body that felt pain - or were perhaps, to my best guess, the areas of me that were holding pain - endless frets, haunting memories, the deeper cuts - and I chose a color so I could clearly see them in my body.  Then I was guided to remove all of the parts of my body in that color.  Then I was to think about words such as: appreciation, security, tranquility, acceptance, and I was to give one word a color.  Then fill all of those gaps of removal of myself with that new color.  Then the meditation ended, and I drifted off to sleep.

I will never forget that Tuesday morning.

I awoke in a rush, because of my early morning meeting, and I darted out the door.  But I noticed this intense and extremely radiating light and energy charged inside of me.  I felt no pain.  Only acceptance, resilience, inspiration.  I wanted to go and do.  My energy and power and desire felt limitless!  I remember thinking in my meeting that I needed to plan, really plan my life, because with this level of awakening and peace, I could kick up the capacities of my life and live even more richly.  I thought about how often so much of my life is the pursuit to soften or cope with the stresses and pains of life.  I run after my hobbies as an escape or intense recharge.  But what amount of time would I have if I wasn't constantly recalling pieces of myself?  If I wasn't spending so much time trying to be re-whole, re-healed- re-safe, re-calm.  If I just woke up with no ounce of pain or worry anywhere in my body and was fully recharged in every moment.  The entire day I lived within a force of such elevation and serenity that the joy within me was so exquisite.

Wednesday arrived and I was back to the life I'm used to.  Happiness, but sights of pain.  Peace, but sights of worry.  Hard work, but recoiling into exhaustion.

But now I know that level exists.  I've experienced it.  Life can be the most expansive and joyous thing, if our minds can be trained for such.

I continue on with my meditations.

As Chelsea taught me to begin each day:  I call back all parts of myself.  The whole, the healed, the inspired, the uplifted.

And at night:  I leave the pieces within me that I have picked up throughout the day.  The things that are not mine or do not serve me.  I call back my serenity, my restfulness, my joy.

Upward and onward,

We see as we are

 We don't see things as they are.
We see them as we are.

The yellow crumpled post-it note, with those word written clearly across the top, floats around my car.  Sometimes in a place I can readily see it; sometimes tucked away if I've cleaned out the console cup holders for guests.  But the yellow never goes far against the dark grey interior, like a starkly lit reminder of the real reality.

And then this truth hit me again.  In a new way, causing more understanding and a jolt.  I was showering in a condo in Vegas, an airbnb trip that Ryan and I were really enjoying.

Everything is only a perception of our own identity.

The people around me, the experiences I encounter.  The way certain situations or ways people ground me, or the way they really repel and exhaust me.  I enjoy some people so greatly because they reflected magnificent pieces of myself.  And I find others to stir me up because of they they reflect my traumas back to me.  And once I identify the piece of me that is reflected, it becomes a moment of very clear awakening and gratitude, or a moment of learning what thorns within me need some unraveling.

So instead of living as though life and people are just happening TO me; I am living as though life is happening within me.

Upward and onward,

Silly happy goons

07 October 2015

Let's start here:  I don't really have full permission to share this story.

But, this story isn't very long so if sins are counted in duration, then I'll take a risk on quickly sharing this one.

Next, it must be noted that all participants in the story stay fully clothed the whole time.  Well, except for a small change in costuming.

And with that, we shall begin.

I have been one happy gal since this marriage began.  The joy I have over Ryan is borderline obsessive.  Most witnessed in the way I follow him around everywhere.  Doesn't matter if he's headed for the closet to get his shoes, I'm dead on his heels.  Granted, I used to do that to my roommates who I really liked as well (Leslie, Krystal...ha!) ... I love being around the people that I love!  I probably have a bigger obsessive harassment issue than I thought.  

With that, another part of me that has flared is my laughter.  I laugh all the time these days.  And I would have it be known for my own proof of sanity that Ryan is a very funny gentleman; he has astonishing wit, so he makes me laugh all the time.  But Ryan would also have it be known that I have a giggling problem all my own that is borderline disturbing.  Which started in the beginning of our courtship, so he can't say he didn't know.  But sometimes, I just giggle for no reason for nearly 20 minutes, and Ryan just has to sit and wait, usually patting my knee and saying, "It's okay.  Just let it out."  I'm the silliest person he's ever known, he tells me.

So marriage has intensified these problems for me.  I'm jolly and giddy like a fool.  (And I can say that Ryan is plagued similarly as well... ;) )  This insanity slightly sets the stage.

Okay, so this story starts with no giggles.

Ryan and I were sitting on the couch together after eating our dinner.  After awhile, I go to clean-up the kitchen, and he disappears into the bedroom.  Noting he is gone, I give up on the dishes and go to find him.  Even our one bedroom apartment doesn't keep us in tight enough proximity for my liking. 

I find him lying on his back on the bed, just relaxing in his underclothes.

Oh fun!   So I slip into some more comfortable bottoms, and I crawl across the bed towards him.  He's watching me and smiling cooly, and I'm smiling back at him.  We're both keen on the setting mood.  As soon as I'm up next to him, I pause for momentThen I lean slowly down to kiss him.  Just as I do, he looks slightly away from me and says, "Is that what I think it is?"

I look down just as he pulls a withery, soggy full strip of lettuce from my left boob - a remnant from our dinner a couple hours earlier.

I fall onto my back next to him, and we howl for eons, repeatedly glancing at each other and breaking into hysterics all over again.

You know it's a worthy laugh when your legs are kicking up in the air, and you sound like animals.

That's about how our marriage goes.

Upward and onward,

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Grounding priorities with discipline

This morning I woke up and really missed all of you friends that I interact with here through my blog.  I thought of all of you that read and then contact me in some way and share your own feelings and thoughts.  And I thought about the irony that I feel like you are some of my closest circle of connection, despite that I'm posting in a public forum, compared to the connections that I have when I'm in more private settings with other people.  Needless to say, I value all of you, and I picture you in my mind's eye at my Board of Director's table (written about here).


Last week, Ryan and I decided to slot a specific time for scripture study.  It seems that without a proper holding place for it, scripture study becomes like the last person running for the closing elevator doors of the day.  Just as the day's doors are about to close, he wedges between them and smooshes into the other crowded elements of the day.  All of the days' other thoughts and feelings and experiences are already top-offed and show only a mild interest for the newcomer.  There's no more room and no one cares.

"How about 7:30 am?"  Ryan says, after we silently think about our own schedules for a moment and determine when a time to study the scriptures together would best suit us.  I'm in the bathroom brushing my teeth, and he's in the kitchen putting away dinner supplies.

"Mmm.." I respond, "That's my workout time.  That means I'd have to bump that up even earlier."

"Then we'll get up earlier and both work-out before we sit down to study."

"Okay, that sounds... like something I never want to do."  But I pause the conversation, and we silently complete our tasks while I think about it.  I have to mentally commit beforehand.  I can't just say the words, "yeah I'll do it" because on a well-rested Sunday evening I feel like I can do anything.  But then once the time arrives, weakness and fatigue are so powerful that it overpowers dedication and I'd pull out.  Commitment to me means you recognize there will be massive resistance at times, and you dedicate to being undaunting in your actions regardless.  Puuushing through the pain, even if you have no strength to muster in the moment.  And getting up at 6:45 every day, for weeks, months, years is going to take a toll on me.  I DO NOT handle sleep deprivation with any degree of grace.  I hate being tired, more than I find discomfort with any other weathering of my physical senses.  And the first couple days are okay with residual rest, but dang it, by the third day of a heightened effort, I feel like I belong in a morgue.  

"Okay, I'll do it."  I say.

Ryan looks over at me.  "Great, then we'll give it a shot.  Tomorrow morning."

And then I basically grab him and run for bed to salvage my impending approach of depression-by-exhaustion.

The next morning, the alarm clock goes off.  Ryan heads out for a run, and I go to the living room where I usually greatly enjoy Jillian Michael yelling at me as my first encounter for the day.  My morning work-outs with her were an easy habit to set up long ago.  Oxytocin and I pair really well together.  But on this day, I'm already SO exhausted that I just lay back down on the floor and moan about how horrible my life is.  And this is it now!  This is how the rest of my life is going to feel.  Just TIRED ALL THE TIME!!  Because I always think life is permanent when in it's hard.  But I get up and give my work-out a solid go.  Punching out my anger with heavier hand weights.

Ryan comes back from his run, and I say over the top of my heavy breathing.  "I HATE THIS!!!!!"  And suddenly the actions of the people on the evening news make sense to me.   

We sit down to read scriptures. We had decided to read separately for 15 minutes, and then pick a topic to study together for the next 15 minutes.  While I was up working out and expending all that energy, I was doing okay, but now that I'm just sitting in a camp chair, that we accidentally stole from Julie when I moved out, and that's the only sitting arrangements we have, the fatigue sets in heavy.  As I read the Doctrine and Covenants - my current committed study -  I'm growing more and more frustrated that my life is going to suck from now on. 

After our personal study ends, Ryan comes over to sit with me, and I'm like:

I whine again, "I REALLY hate this," and softly fake whimper.

Ryan is THE MOST patient and even-killed person I've ever known.  He is never irritable or moody.  ONE TIME, he was having trouble connecting to the internet on his laptop, and he said something with a slight tone of impatience.  I immediately threw my book across the room and jumped up, landing right in front of his face, and shrieked, "OH MY GOSH!!!  Are you a little bit annoyed right now!????  THIS IS AWESOME!!" And I gloated about it.

So Ryan seemingly ignores my mulling and grabs Preach My Gospel off the shelf to study.  By the time he begins reading, my forehead is on the desk and I'm moaning again.  "This is MY LIFE!  TIREDDDDDDD.  And I'm going to have a terrible day every day, and I'm going to binge eat on chocolate and salt, and I'm going to scratch things."

Ryan patiently keeps reading.  "RYAN!  What about CHILDREN??  Can you imagine doing this while we have little things all around us, hovering over our beds at night, and jabbering away while we try to sleep?  I will never have a full nights rest again.  Ever in my life."  And I'm willing myself to cry.

Ryan nods sympathetically and keeps reading.

I'm sobbing inside my brain.

Finally, our 30 minute study is up, and Ryan kisses me and says his goodbyes before he heads off to work.  Shortly after, I take off for my day as well, still convinced that everything is horrible and I will never have happiness in this life again.

My work day is halfway through, and I notice something.  My ability for patience with clients is endless.  I feel so blessed with my work, and I have to temper my upbeat attitude to not be freaky for people.  I take silent note of it, but I don't let it trump my conviction that I will suffer in exhaustion until I die.

The next day, (Tuesdays are modified because I have a 7:30 meeting up north so I have to leave really early), Ryan and I arrive home from work, and I'm still feeling the trauma of the morning before.  "We can't do this."  I tell him. "I will need heavy medication, caffeine, and a therapist if we continue.  And we'll probably never be intimate again.  Just so you know upfront how this will affect you."

He hugs me tight, and says, "Sure.  I know that sleep deprivation is so taxing on you.  We can decide on a new plan, and I am here to make this better for you."  Then we busy ourselves the way newlyweds do, and we fall asleep early.

So because a new plan wasn't yet decided, next morning at 6:45, I feel Ryan come over and wrap his arms around me and kiss my forehead.  His tender love sure makes it really hard to rage.  But, as I roll out of bed, I notice my steps aren't drudging.  My energy is awake.  Jilian Michaels is my best friend again.  And I'm laughing and smiling and poppies are sprouting in the grass outside.

We sit down for scripture study, and I LOVE what I'm reading.  The strength and testimonies of the early saints - all their sacrifices so clear and striking to me.  Then I join Ryan on the couch to our chosen book - Teaching by the Spirit by Gene R. Cook.  We take turns reading aloud, and I'm loving it.  How settings of conversation can change with the presence of the Spirit, and how our insides shift so deeply through a Spirit speaking to Spirit - I really dig those concepts.  This book is powerful to me.

Ryan and I head off to work, and I notice how I still feel an element of patience and stillness that is different from before.  I don't feel tired at all.  Rather awakened from the inside.  I feel a deep joy.  I feel like I just want to looooove people.  What can I do to make people just feel happy?  And usually, 40 hours of work makes me feel like that's all I do with my life, but after studying scriptures, I feel far more balanced with the other pillars of life.

So I tell Ryan that evening, after rock-climbing with Sharla and her husband, "Actually, this is good.  I can do this."  And we climb in bed at 9 pm.  That is our bedtime now to make this work, and also because we need some time together before sleep, ya know.

And so it has been, every day since.  Except Sundays.  (And Saturdays Ryan sleeps in, but my body is like 6:45 PARTY!!  But because I hold a personal Saturday Morning Miracle Hours tradition - like here - I'm okay with it).  But really, the Spirit I can feel in my life is abundant.  I am loving it.  I LOVE the time with Ryan in the morning, each reading our scriptures separately, but near each other.  I LOVE getting to the bedroom with Ryan so early.  There's no "oops we stayed up too late being hyper" - okay that's just me, and then overcompensating with work-out drinks in the mornings.  We are calm, loving, connected, rested, alert, happy, and feeling really connected spiritually.  

And, I bought an beautiful office chair on KSL to replace the camp chair.  That has made me happy too.

Here's to making scripture study one of the prominent stones of the day, and letting the sand of everything else fill in the cracks with more light and happiness.

Upward and onward,

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