Random List of Happiness

One of my goals this year is to share my every day joys on Saturdays. I just pay attention to the things that make me happy, watch for some sort of photo op (I try to not have it be a selfie) and then post a list on Instagram at the end of the day. (You can follow me on Insta! amylsorensen )

But of course there are happy things that happen all the time, so just because, today I’m making a list of some random stuff that made me smile, laugh, or feel happiness in some form during the past week.

  • It rained! And rained some more! It’s actually been really chilly for last week, so no warm afternoons spent reading in sunlight, but I will always be happy when it rains here. It also snowed in the mountains and if I could I would be up there hiking in the last of the powder.
  • Speaking of rain. Yesterday it was raining, and slowly turning to snow, and I looked out my window when something caught my eye. (Had to lower my reading glasses to understand what I was seeing!) There was a guy on my neighbor’s roof. Washing windows—in the rain. “Like a man washing windows in a rainstorm” feels like a line from a poem to me.
  • Cooking with Jake. I made a roast on Tuesday and since I worked that afternoon, he peeled the potatoes for me. Then he hung out and made biscuits while I made the gravy. We listened to his playlist and talked a bit and it was just…nice.
  • On Sunday I was pondering what to make for dinner and I was like… “it’s going to cause an argument but I really want spaghetti with red sauce so that is what I am going to make.” (Kendell doesn’t like spaghetti, even though I make a scrumptious red sauce, but it is my favorite meal and yes, we have had several arguments during our marriage over spaghetti.) And just as I was finishing the sauce, Nathan walked in! He had his Guard weekend so I didn’t think I’d see him, but he surprised me. And then I surprised him with perfectly-timed spaghetti! (He does not share his dad’s spaghetti opinions.) After eating (kind of a late lunch because no one had eaten anything yet), he took a long nap in my bed and it just made me happy. Happy to have him home and to be able to take care of him.
  • Sharing poems on Facebook for National Poetry month. Almost no one responds with comments but I still like the thought that I'm putting poems out into the world. 
  • Nathan sending me pics of his drawings. And a good, long phone call with him.
  • The social media trend I’ve been seeing here and there (I don’t know if it’s even a trend) of writing a poem with the titles of the last books you read. I am totally working on mine!
  • A few days ago, the city I work for posted on Facebook the requirement to still wear a mask in all city buildings. Holy cow. I thought the anti-mask crazies had found some sanity, but apparently they’ve just been being quiet because there is a bunch of vitriol in that thread. I posted my thanks to the city for protecting its employees and things got ugly. But Haley waded in and started arguing in my defense. (I can’t really say much, as a city employee, even though I have some strong opinions.) My daughter kicking ass and counting names for me? Ummmm. So good.
  • I took Kaleb to get dinner one night at KFC. We had to wait a bit for his order and so we just hung out in the car and talked. He makes me laugh.
  • I drove! First time since January. It felt weird at first but muscle memory is a thing. SO NICE to have my independence back!
  • At PT this morning, the tech told me he used to play a game with his dad, trying to be the first to say who sang whatever song came on the radio. So for the rest of the appointment I called him out on songs. I was a bit disappointed he didn’t know Prince or Michael Jackson (and it made me feel old) but it was the first time I’ve really laughed during PT, so that was great.
  • Listening to Kendell’s story about his first trip back to the (newly remodeled) gym. There’s a slide and an uphill ramp and let’s just say neither of those were great for his 50-something body…
  • I finally got the quilts that have been waiting to be sandwiched pinned together. The pinning did not make me smile. (That is my least-favorite step of quilting. I actually detest that step.) But having them pinned did! And I started quilting one.
  • My audio book was making me so happy. I have been listening to N. K. Jemisin’s “Broken Earth” series because I never read the third one and I decided I want to, but I couldn’t remember enough details. So I’ve been listening and oh my. They are so good. I mean…a world with a community that lives in a giant geode? God, she’s brilliant. Sewing and listening to audio books is just a little piece of peaceful nirvana. BUT THEN. I have only about 90 minutes left in the second book, The Obelisk Gate, and my check out expired! NINTY MINUTES. And now I’m #13 on the hold list. I mean, I own the actual book. I could just finish it. But I was so enjoying listening to it!
  • I cooked dinner. I cleaned the kitchen. I did laundry. I vacuumed. None of which usually find themselves on my happiness lists…but having not been able to take care of anything much lately, it did make me really happy. To just walk around my house on my own two feet and do all of the normal things.

What made you happy this week?

2020 Goals: February Recap and March List

Trying to be more proactive with my goals this year, I’m breaking things down by the month instead of thinking bigger. My word this year is “commit” and while I am not 100% there yet (nor will I probably ever be), I’m feeling good about my progress. I am much more apt to work on my goals if I put them out into the world, so I’m going to attempt to do this each month, either on Instagram (I am @amylsorensen) or here: review the previous month’s work and list the current month’s goals.

February Goals:

  1. Exercise for 30 minutes every day. I didn’t accomplish this, mostly because of a strained hamstring I didn’t want to aggravate. But, I did exercise MUCH more in February than January. Almost 50 miles, two hikes (it’s been muddy here and Kendell can’t deal with mud), and seven ballet barre classes. I’m OK with not making the goal exactly because it still helped me to move more. Goal recap running feb mar
  2. Push ups and planks every day. Yeah…totally tanked on this one. I think I managed it for three or four days, and then random days here and there.
  3. Work on a writing project every Monday, something that is not my blog. Another miss. I am realizing that when I am deep into the quilting process, I put everything else on hold. (Even stuff like laundry and fixing dinner.) However, I did have some ideas that I put down on paper, and besides, see #4.
  4. Blog twice a week—posts that aren't book reviews. I wrote nine blog posts this month, one of which was a book review, so YES. I accomplished this goal! My favorite post was the one about raisin bread and while it is perhaps too personal, this post about my continuously developing relationship with my faith was cathartic and helped me to understand myself better. I feel like picking up a blogging habit again will contribute to my writing progress as well, even if no one reads my posts, because I am remembering how satisfying it is to spend an hour crafting something with words.
  5. Make my January family stories scrapbook layout and one other one from last year. Remember that all-encompassing thing I do with quilting? Yeah…my February quilt is pretty much the only crafting I did this month. BUT. I did get the photos printed for January 2020 and December 2019 for the family stories album, and I have the journaling formatted and ready to print. Plus I gathered up a bunch of photos I had already printed for other 2019 family pages and got them organized into the correct months. So, not fully completed, but progress!
    Goal recap scrapbooking feb mar
    I also managed to buy a few new supplies! These papers don't go with these photos but they are all new.

March Goals:

EXERCISE: 10 ballet barre classes and run 50 miles. I’ll take whatever hiking I can get but it’s so dependent on weather right now I don’t want to set any goals. PUSH UPS AND PLANKS! I know those are so good for me. Also, continue working on my year-long flexibility goals, which are getting my splits back and perfecting dancer pose.

WRITING: Continue blogging twice a week. Finish four poems and polish my pie-crust essay.

QUILTING: Finish the last straggly bits of quilting projects: the octagon flower blocks and bind Jake’s quilt. At the end of the month, sit down and figure out the process to follow for the quilt I want to make for Kaleb. I have the pattern, but the process and fabric requirements are for fat quarters and I’m making it out of yardage and scraps, so I need to create a process. (I’m not going to do this until the end of the month so as to give myself a few more chances at finding any other fabrics I need to include—the main fabric is sharks, and the accent fabric is white with wavy aqua stripes, so I’m just looking for bits of aqua or navy or ocean-themed (but not cutesy) to finish out the collecting phase.

SCRAPBOOKING: Make some layouts! I am going to focus on the family stories layouts but I also have pictures printed for some other layouts I’m excited to make. Also put together my 50 Hikes album—all of the photos are printed and the journaling is written, just need to put it all together. (This won’t really be a scrapbook, per se. A few little embellishments but it’s mostly just photos and journaling in a 6x8 album. I meant to finish this for Christmas for Kendell’s gift. Then for our anniversary. Guess I’ll just give it to him as a “happy Wednesday!” gift!)

READING: I’m almost done with the two novels I’ve been meandering through. Then I’ll start The Dark Tower series.

What are you working on these days?

2009-2019: A Summary of a Decade

I love how, on social media, so many people are using the end of the decade to look at how their lives have changed in ten years. Comparing changes over time is a thing I am fascinated by and I like the way a designated span of time—here, the construct of a decade, but really, it can be anything—helps you see experiences in a different light.

December 2009 family photo

But every time I thought about doing it for myself I felt a little bit frustrated. Here is the list I was making in my head about what has happened in the past ten years:

  • The litany of Kendell’s surgeries. At the end of 2009 he was starting to feel recuperated from his first heart surgery; after that he had two more heart surgeries, cardiac arrest, gall bladder removed, deviated septum repaired, a knee replacement.
  • All of our parents passed away.
  • Kendell graduated from college.
  • Haley, Jake, and Nathan all graduated from high school. Kaleb finished elementary school and started junior high.
  • Haley graduated from college.
  • Kaleb was diagnosed with his heart issue, a bicuspic aortic valve with an aortic bulge.
  • Each of my Bigs had their first significant romantic relationships.
  • I went to countless events for my kids. Soccer, basketball, and volleyball games. Choir concerts, orchestra concerts. Track meets.
  • Also countless: how much we used our health insurance. Kids’ broken bones, trips to the doctor or ER for stitches, and different illnesses. Nathan had shingles, Jake was treated for depression and anxiety, and all of us were in a long-term relationship with our dermatologist.
  • Jake, Haley, and Nathan all started wearing glasses. They also survived braces.
  • We had some family vacations: Disneyland more than once, Yellowstone, California beaches, Hawaii, Florida.

As I thought about my list, what hit me was how I was framing myself: in the context of everyone else. The big things feel like the ways I have helped and been involved with the people I love, and I do love them. Helping them and taking care of them and cheering them on is a huge part of my identity and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. But I was frustrated—and, frankly, startled—by how my first instinct was to think more of the experiences in other people’s lives than the experiences that I had. This train of thought at first took me to a sort of dark place. Sometimes it feels like, when you’re deep into your midlife years, the only exciting things left in your life are things that happen to other people. Things you are proud of them for accomplishing, or joyful for them being blessed in that way, but it is all other people’s experiences.

That left me feeling fairly…well, probably there is a German or Swedish word for “the feeling you have when you realize all of your big life experiences are past and all you have to look forward to is aging” but I don’t know what it is.

But then I took a deep breath and tried to think: wait. I also had experiences over the past decade that were MY experiences. That happened to me. Maybe they are smaller experiences, but they are still valuable. And even though there is this voice in my head saying it’s selfish of me to want to highlight my experiences over my family members’ (because isn’t that what a woman and a mother is supposed to do? Define herself in the context of the people she loves and not think about who she is outside of those relationships?), I’m still going to list them. It’s still valuable to celebrate the experiences the Universe brought ME over the past decade:

  • I got to visit Europe twice. Italy and then a whirlwind tour of England+Belgium+The Netherlands+Paris. It’s barely enough Europe but here’s a whole new decade that I hope includes much more travel.
  • I got to see so much art. I stood in front of Van Gogh’s paintings and wept because beauty can still come from darkness. I stood in front of Michelangelo's Slaves and felt understood by the world. I fell in love with obscure paintings for entirely personal reasons. I have always loved art but in this decade I got to experience it rather than only seeing it in books.
  • I went to New York City twice. For this person who is thoroughly From The West, New York was thrilling and exciting and enlightening and terrifying and like a whole different place.
  • I went running on beaches on both the Pacific and the Atlantic. I ran in Niagara Falls, Amsterdam, and Paris. I did a half marathon in New York and one in Denver. So long as I can run and travel I will always pack my running shoes.
  • I traveled to Mexico (Cabo San Lucas), Washington, Hawaii, California, Colorado, South and North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I am far from a world traveler but I got to see a lot this decade. San Francisco, Seattle, and Charleston are cities I got to walk around in and, as funny as it sounds, I can now say I can get around in a city if it has decent public transportation.
  • I hiked Half Dome in Yosemite. This was a significant turning point for my hiking confidence.
  • I got to be reunited with Elliot, the baby I placed for adoption in 1990.
  • I ran two full marathons and 8-10 half marathons, and many, many miles. I actually started running at the turn of a decade, in 2000, so this year marks my 20th year of running. I’m not always as consistent as I should be, but I am always in love with running.
  • I hiked. I hiked a lot. I fell in love with hiking and I found I have always loved the mountains but actually moving upon them has fulfilled me in so many ways. I’d hiked a little bit by the end of 2009, but 2010-2020 was a decade of hiking.
  • I healed from several running injuries. The two worst were my ankle sprain at the 2012 Ragnar and my torn femoral condyle which led to a cascade of knee issues. I also worked through a nagging hamstring strain (which was tied not to nothing physical but to the emotional struggles I was having at the time; once some situations with my kids got better, the hamstring pain stopped) and years of sacroiliac back pain. I also broke my finger, which wasn’t a running injury.
  • Both of my parents died. Yes, that happened to them, but it also happened to me. I’m an orphan and I’m also now the oldest generation. A co-matriarch with my two sisters.
  • I had a very few pieces of my writing published. (This is the thing I want to change the most over the next decade.)
  • I became a brand ambassador for Skirt Sports.
  • I taught the teenage Sunday School classes at church; I also taught Relief Society (the women’s organization) and doctrine classes. I’m grateful for those opportunities I had to teach.
  • My relationship with my church (I am a Mormon, if now far, far on the fringe) has changed utterly in the past decade. This has been painful; a time of mourning. But it has also freed my soul from some very unnecessary fetters of guilt. I am now trying to understand what my spirituality looks like. I think this will be a process I experience my whole life.
  • I fell in love with national parks. I got to visit Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Congaree, and all of the Utah parks. I hope 2020-2030 will include many more fridge magnets.
  • I have learned—am continuing to learn—what it means to be the mom of adult children. It is far different than I imagined, in both difficult and amazing ways. I am excited to see what their upcoming decade brings them, too.
  • I worked at the library. I became a librarian, in fact. This is the longest job I’ve held in my life. It is sometimes frustrating (working with the public can be exhausting) and my small salary makes me feel a great deal of guilt and anxiety, but I love my job. It has brought me some of my closest adult friends and given me some amazing opportunities to interact with and learn from people. And of course brought me to so many books. I never imagined myself as a librarian but it really is perfect.
  • I read books. I guess I could go back and count how many, but I'm not going to. I didn't write about every book I read, I didn't love every one. But so many of them have helped me in different ways.
  • I made a lot of things. I wrote hundreds of blog posts and made even more scrapbook layouts. I cooked meals and baked cookies and pies and cakes. I made quilts for my kids and my house and for other people’s babies. I wrote poems and journal entries and essays. I planted and nurtured my flowers. I hope I also made my relationships stronger and nurtured the people I love.

Making this list makes me wonder, of course: what will the next decade bring? In ten years, what will my list look like? I have many hopes. Maybe I should write that list down, too. The things I hope 2020-2030 will bring me. But I’ve also learned that life is always throwing unexpected things at you, and so there will be many things that happen in the next decade I can’t even imagine now. Right now, I am trying to reach back in time to that Amy at the end of 2009 and tell her…tell her what? That things will be harder than she knows but there will also be so many good things, maybe. And I am also trying to reach forward to the Amy I will be in December of 2029 to hear what she can tell me.

But I bet it’s the same advice. Things will be hard. Things will be wonderful. And all I can do is savor and experience and act and create and love.

Family photo 2019
Family photo 2019

August 2019 Goals

My August goals:

Family and House:

  • Do something every week with just me and Kaleb before school starts. This week we have already gone school shopping twice and it’s been so much fun!
  • Be brave and have the conversation I need to have with one of my kids. I don’t want to reopen wounds but I also feel like there is some festering going on…
  • Go on another actual date with Kendell.
  • Get all of the lingering stuff from my mom’s house organized, boxed, and put away. (I inherited so many beautiful things from her. I just don’t have a place to put them right now.)
  • Get the kitchen painted. (I HATE PAINTING)
  • Continue working on finding somewhere new to move. This experience has been so frustrating. It is mind boggling how expensive houses have gotten here. It makes me worry about what my kids will do in the future (I mean…how can they even get started when a small starter home is $600,000??????) and it makes me feel like a failure (if I had made different choices perhaps I would’ve attained some measure of financial security) and it is emotionally draining. We found some lots a few weeks ago that would’ve been perfect, not too expensive, the right size, a view of the mountain, but they all sold in five or six days.

Health and Exercise:

  • Continue with my solstice to equinox streak: At least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
  • As the uptick in cardio has done absolutely NOTHING to help my weight, I’m going to tweak my goal a little bit: I’ll still do cardio on most days but not every day. But I am adding a muscle-strengthening goal to do some sort of muscle strength exercises every single day.
  • I’m not sure I’ll get 100 miles again this month, because we are going on our summer vacation and two of the days will be harder to run. (Walking around an amusement park would totally add to my mileage, I know, but does that really count as “exercise”?) So, I’m not going to worry about total mileage; instead I am setting the goal of lengthening my longest run to 8 miles. We’ll see how the knees do!
  • At least three hikes this month with Kendell. Four might be hard because of that vacation.
  • Have a good, long discussion with my gynecologist about hormone levels to see if she has any advice about my weight issues. If not, make an appointment with my GP.
  • Get my mammogram done.


  • Most importantly: Finish my poem and submit it.
  • WRITE MORE. On my blog but also with the goal of writing something I could submit.
  • I want to start scrapbooking again, but I don’t think I actually will this month. I want to achieve my other goals first, so for scrapbooking my goal is to do a deep, brutal purge after we get home from our vacation. If you know anyone—individuals or groups—who need scrapbooking supplies, please let me know. I want to send it off to good homes.
  • Before we leave on vacation, I want to finish Jake’s quilt and get it to the quilter. Make a good start on Kaleb’s quilt (I realized this week that I don’t have enough of the main neutral fabric, so I had to dig into the dusty corners of the interwebs to find a few more yards, and now I’m waiting for it to show up!) and keep putting together my pink & black squares.
  • Finish the book I am reading right now and then finish two others. (Stop getting distracted by my phone when I have time to read, in other words.)


What are your goals for August?

Goodbye July!

I can’t believe July is already over. We are still in the heat of deep summer here, and honestly, July isn’t my favorite month. It’s hot and almost no flowers are blooming and even the grass just seems drained.

But if July ends, then it’s August. And if it’s August, can autumn be far behind?

Time, though, moves too swiftly, so I’m trying to savor summer before it ends. I’ve tried since Kaleb got out of school, in fact, to just enjoy the days, even though they’re hot. One thing that’s helped is that this year I’ve mostly abandoned trying to wear shorts. I just never feel comfortable in them. I’ve worn a lot of dresses and a LOT of running skirts and yeah, my elephant knees are exposed but I’m just so much more comfortable this summer. I didn’t post on Instagram every day for 31 Days of Skirt, but I did actually wear Skirt Sports every day!

Heat aside, July was a pretty good month. And before I turn my calendar over to August, I wanted to write a recap.

Solstice to Equinox Streak:
I exercised every day this month, except for the Saturday I was sick. I didn’t do cardio every day; on some days I lifted weights or did resistance training for a half hour. I had a little exercise epiphany: there is almost always time. One day I went for a walk at 1:00 in the afternoon, when it was blazing hot, but I wanted to get it in. So I went to the shadiest part of a path by the river and I got it in. Several nights I did my resistance/weights at 9:00 p.m. But committing to the streak has helped so much, not just with my consistency but with my mindset about exercise. I can really do it every day. And while I have yet to see any weight come off (it actually is continuing to bulge around my belly…I have an appointment with my doctor next month because I’m so frustrated by this!), I feel like I am stronger.

I added cartwheels to my workout strategies. I know: that sounds totally weird, and is a cartwheel really a workout? Surprisingly, yes. More of a plyometric thing, but a simple cartwheel asks a lot of your upper body, your core, and your flexibility. Plus it’s just so fun! I visited for a little while one night with my niece and her daughter, who was trying to do ariels in the grass. My body totally remembers how to do them, how it’s not really about the speed you put into it but learning how to swing your arms correctly. I gave her some pointers, and she said “but you can’t do ariels Aunt Amy!” and I said “not anymore, but I can still do a pretty good cartwheel,” and she said “NO WAY! Show me! I think you’re too old!” and so when I was done holding her new baby brother I did a cartwheel for her. Never too old!


I also achieved a milestone this month that I haven’t done in two years: I had a 100-mile month. 103.7, to be exact. (To compare, I ran 90.5 in June and 75-ish in May.) And, I know: that’s not a lot to many people. Lots of runners have 100 mile weeks! But for me, it is a little reward to see my count for the month go over 100. Even last summer when I was in marathon training I never had a 100-mile month (whooping cough!). It feels like I accomplished something. Not all of those miles were running, but that’s just fine, because I also hiked a lot!

I ran a total of 50 miles (it’s actually 49.98 but I think I can round up). I had my longest run since my marathon, 6.5 miles around where I live. I had the fastest mile I’ve had in a long time, 8:48. (Again…I know that’s not fast in comparison to many runners. But it’s fast for me.) And, guess what?


Trail running

Well, maybe “took up” is too intense. I started trail running. I didn’t buy any trail running shoes so I don’t feel like I can call myself a “trail runner” yet. I was cautious and I went on very safe trails. But I just decided one day: I want to run trails too. (A longer blog post is coming on this topic.) I did two trail runs and I’m really itching to do more.

Big Springs with friends twice
My friend Wendy and I got out three times for hikes in the foothills.
Kendell and I together: Great Western Trail, Scout Falls and part of the TImponooke Trail (until the snow got too risky), Buffalo Peak, Rock Canyon, and Silver Glance Lake. We are up to 28 hikes together this year. I’m hoping we can make it to 50 but we’ll see.

I am more in love with hiking than ever. The best thing this year is the wildflowers. They’ve been amazing from all the snow we’ve had! I just wish that I were a better photographer and could capture images that communicate how beautiful they are. But instead of carrying my big camera to photograph the flowers, I have tried to focus on being present and fully admiring the meadows.

20190719_200502 wildflowers buffalo peak 4x6

I had a couple of conversations with my kids this month that helped me get rid of some unnecessary guilt I’ve been carrying for a long, long time. Well, maybe the guilt wasn’t exactly “unnecessary,” but these two conversations just helped me to see my choices in a different light. My heart feels so much lighter.

I took Kaleb to swim in a little local pond this month, with some of his friends. He loved it. I had taken him there five years ago, when he was only 9, and I had to pull up my pictures of that day. It was amazing to see how much he has changed. (Sometimes I just have to stop thinking about how utterly strange it is that Kaleb, who was the baby I waited the longest for, is becoming a person. Even though he’s been a person (by which I mean, not a baby) for a long time, it still just sometimes hits me hard. I waited and prayed for him for so long, and then, BAM, all of a sudden he’s grown up. I had a lovely time relaxing on the grass by the pond, reading, but I got so fried on my legs. Three weeks later, they are still so tender and itchy.

Kendell and I had a fun date night when we had to drive north to pick Kaleb up from Lagoon, an amusement park about 90 minutes away from us. We brought Kaleb and his friend some pizza for dinner, and then he and I went out to eat, went shopping, and then saw The Lion King. We haven’t done enough dating in the past little while. We hike together a lot but it was nice to get out and do something a little bit different.

I got to meet my two newest great nephews. I just love babies and am so happy they are here safely. I love that both sides of our family continue to grow.

While I managed to buy a lot of new supplies, I didn’t ever get around to making any scrapbook layouts this month. I haven’t, in fact, made a scrapbook layout since February or March. I’m not really sure I can explain why, but this is the longest I’ve gone without scrapbooking since I picked up the hobby in 1996. I scrapbooked as a mom with young kids, as a mom with young kids working on her degree, as a mom with young kids doing student teaching and then being a teacher. I scrapped around Kendell’s many surgeries. I scrapbooked while I stayed up late waiting for teenagers to come home from dances and jobs and dates. It’s been a central part of my identity for as long as I’ve been an adult. Kendell working from home has something to do with it, as does the process of cleaning out my mom’s house. (By scrapbooking am I just creating a huge burden for my kids to deal with when I’M dead?) Some of it is that I feel like all the pictures of my mom’s that I need to scan are hanging over me, a project that is zapping all of my creative energy. Some of it I don’t understand. I still want to make scrapbook layouts. I still shop for supplies. I just…haven’t done it.

But! I have quilted a ton. I’ve got all my scraps managed and organized. I am almost done with the quilt I’m making for Jake and then I can start the one I’m making for Kaleb. I am actually, finally sewing together all the billion half-square pink and black triangles I’ve made over the past 7 or 8 years. (I’m trying to decide…is 90x90 too big for a quilt that won’t be used on a bed? I just have so many squares I love. And I live with tall people. But on the other hand: How much will a 90x90 quilt weigh once I back it (with minky!) and add batting? Will it even be useful or just a big pain in the butt?

July has not been a great reading month for me. I’m stuck in a book with characters I like and am interested in…but the story is moving so slowly I keep putting it down for other things. But I don’t want to not finish it because I want to know what happens to them all! Maybe I need another sick day just to get through it. I am also re-reading the novel Contact, which I read about 18 times as a teenager. I was a little bit nervous about the re-read because what if my adult tastes found it lame or inane or narrow minded? But what I am discovering is just how much of my beliefs about the universe/religion/is-there-anything-after-this-life was shaped by this book. Which is really strange, but also fairly liberating.

Finally, writing. I’m continuing to work on the poem I started. There is a deadline and a place to submit so that is pushing me. I still haven’t written the perfect transition I need, but I DID dream I wrote it, and then in the dream repeated it over and over so I wouldn’t forget it when I woke up. But I don’t remember it. I want to write more—I have an essay about pie crust that’s partly formed, too.

Tomorrow I am going to write my goals for August, but right now I am going to go sit out on my back porch. I’m going to listen to the crickets and admire the scent of the summer air, which is especially delicious tonight because it rained today. I’m going to breath in this deep-summer night and try to store it up as a hedge against winter darkness.

How was your July?

April in Review

Next to October, April is my favorite month. Not just because it’s my birthday month, and my daughter’s, and my best friend’s (also one of my grandmother’s and two of my great nieces’), but because it is beautiful. I love spring flowers so much. Especially hyacinths! We’ve had a cold, slow, Spring hyacinths
rainy spring here in Utah this year, so everything has bloomed later than usual (which is fine by me because there’s less chance of flowers being withered by late snows), the grass and trees are bright green, and even the foothills are verdant (I love my mountains but they’re in a desert; temperate, yes, but often and usually brown and dry). The valley is full of color in April, flowering plum and almond trees in shades of pink, yellow forsythia, sometimes even a few early lilacs. Daffodils in every shade dot yards and even the dandelions seem beautiful, it’s just so lovely to see color again after the grey, dun shades of winter.

I’m always sad when April comes to an end.

So here’s a list to help me remember this beautiful April before May starts in with its certain lilacs and vibrant iris.

  • My sisters and I finished emptying my mom’s house. We spackled and painted and got it up for sale. While I am glad this is finished, I am also really sad this is finished. There are no more treasures left to find and I don’t get to see them every week.
  • Kaleb spent a Saturday afternoon straightening up my mom’s yard. It looked so much better when he was finished.
  • After a rough start, Kaleb started enjoying his soccer games again. The start was rough Kaleb soccerbecause he has really fallen in love with basketball, and the rhythms of a soccer game are definitely different. Once he remembered he loves it, though, he loved playing again.
  • Haley went to Mexico to celebrate her birthday. I loved seeing her pictures come up on Instagram and now I really want to take a trip to Cozumel, too!
  • Whenever my schedule and the weather let me, I went outside to work in my yard. Last year I let it get ahead of me, but not this year. (I think I will always be grateful now for springs without whooping cough!) I’ve weeded and planted a few new things. All of the rain has made it more difficult, though, so I still have some seeds to plant.
  • Nathan settled in to his training at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. He struggled with shin splints and with knowing how to negotiate getting medical care. This military experience is new to us. He didn’t want to seem like a wimp. But eventually he had to take some time off of running (which really is the only way to conquer shin splints) to let them heal. I hope his fellow soldiers didn’t give him too much grief. To help, I sent him a bunch of different things: another tube of Deep Blue, some compression socks, two new pairs of running shoes, new combat boots. He has just started running again and I am hoping the time off will have helped.

  • Spring hiking desolation pointKendell and I hiked four trails: Desolation, Johnson’s Bowl (new to both of us!), Battlecreek Overlook, and Grove Creek. I loved the winter hiking but it is pretty nice to not need so many layers anymore, and to see colors in the mountains again. Our last two hikes even had a few wildflowers! 75 miles of hiking, 7000+ feet of combined elevation gain.
  • Spring runningI ran just over 40 miles in April. As my March total of hiking and running was just under 40, I’m happy with that. I ran longer than I have since my marathon in July; when I told Kendell that he pointed out that running 5.5 miles isn’t as impressive as running a marathon and then I had to remind him that I’ve been fighting an injury, duh! I am grateful every time I go out for a run that I’m still running.
  • We tried a couple of new restaurants. Bam Bam’s BBQ is a place my sister recommended for their nachos. We didn’t love them and will continue looking for a good place for take-out nachos. (Our favorite place, El Azteca, closed over a year ago and we’re still sad about it!) We also tried Bajio’s, again for nachos, which were better but still not fantastic. We went to Rubios on National Burrito Day. My burrito was delicious but they were out of almost everything (even though we got there at barely 5 pm) so I was disappointed not to have the steak burrito I first wanted. (While we were there they also ran out of chips, guacamole, and sour cream; seems like someone forgot to check inventory!)
  • Some meals I made: chicken alfredo, chicken with cream sauce (I made this with ricotta and romano, so the flavor was different from alfredo), cream of broccoli soup, chili with savory corn cakes. Also, of course, tacos, which are Kendell’s favorite. And red bean burritos, which I usually only make when Haley’s home. I am trying to cook more, not always successfully, as sometimes it’s just me and Kendell eating dinner and it seems like a waste of time to cook just for us. One thing that’s helped me a bit is trying to prep a few things on Sunday. A recent favorite is to dice a whole package of chicken breasts (the big package from Costco) into bite-sized pieces, toss it in olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes, and basil, and then bake it. I like this so much better than cutting the chicken after it’s cooked, because then all the edges are a little bit crispy. I make a meal with some of the pieces, save some for another meal, and then freeze the rest.
  • Kendell and I finished up watching The Walking Dead and started watching Game of Thrones. My favorite thing about this season so far: the song in the second episode, and talking about each episode with Jake. He watches them with friends and we’re sometimes watching a day or two later, but he’s careful to not give any spoilers.
  • I did pretty well with my goals: I ate more veggies (not every day, but way more), I only had two days when I didn’t reach my water goal, and I think I rocked it on my blog-every-day goal—I only missed three days.
  • Things I bought: A new Hydroflask (the watermelon color!), new regular shoes for Kaleb, new basketball shoes for Kaleb, new soccer shoes for Kaleb. New bras, yay! A few Skirts. A red dress that I’m not sure I’m going to keep. Sprinkler parts for the sprinkling system. A new blade for my rotary cutter. A bunch of storage containers.
  • I used my DSLR. I haven't done that since November! I took it to Kaleb's Alpine Days track meet. He won fourth in the high jump and I got some great pics. I think I'm going to add "use DSLR" to my goal list! Kaleb alpine days
  • I read two books: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith and The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.
  • I only read two books because I spent all of my free time doing stuff with fabric. I shopped, I bought, I cut, I pieced. I made it more complicated than it needed to be but I think I just needed the process of a more intricate quilt (two, actually). I think it was my way of dealing with my mom’s death. She didn’t teach me everything I know about quilting, but she taught me to love fabric and to give pretty gifts. I can’t say I gained any resolution or much peace…but some. A bit. (I will share more of these two quilts once I finish them and give them to the moms of the babies they are for.)
  • Actually, that’s not true: I worked on three quilts. And I shopped for four. I started a new quilt for Jake, as the one I made him oh…four years ago, I think, or maybe five, was totally worn out. I’m doing it in shades of blue and grey, all flannel except for a little bit of minky. And I’m still picking up pieces for Kaleb’s quilt, which he needs because he’s now sleeping in a queen-sized bed. I’m excited to see both of these quilts come together!
  • Kendell had a heart check-up in April, and everything is looking good. This will of course never not be scary for me, AND to make it more difficult I also talked to his surgeon about Kaleb’s heart issues. I managed to not start sobbing, but only just. Every single one of you reading this right now, stop and give thanks for your healthy heart to whatever deity or spirit you believe in. Hearts are scary and the fear is pervasive.

Now on to May!

Life Right Now


Here I am, just past three weeks into my 100-day project of blogging every day. I’ve missed a few days, but not many. As I’ve continued to write my posts, I have begun asking myself: Why am I doing this? Not in an existential “why” sense. But, what do I hope to gain? What can I learn from this process?

One thing I wanted to do was re-establish a writing habit. In a sense I have done that, as I’ve blogged nearly every day. But it hasn’t been at the same time or with any predictability. I’ve written some of my blog posts while watching TV at night with Kendell, which really is just fulfilling my self-imposed requirement rather than dedicating myself more fully to writing. I started out doing this project with the hopes that I would find my writing personality, my writing identity, again. I’m not sure I’ve done that. I think I need to find ways to explore other topics and look at things in different lights. Not because I’m trying to capture more readers or followers, but because of that search for my writerly self.

But this post is not going to be one of those kinds of posts.

Today while I was gardening, I was listening to a podcast about scrapbooking. (The Scrap Gals podcast.) In this episode they were talking about telling our stories (as opposed to feeling like everything you make has to be about someone else, an idea I am thoroughly a fan of), and one of the ways to do that was to make a layout about who you are right now. I used to do this with some regularity, mainly about my kids but sometimes about myself. Often enough that has an abbreviation in my scrapbooking spreadsheet (YES! I do have a spreadsheet about scrapbooking; two, in fact): LRN (for Life Right Now). Sometimes I did this on my blog, sometimes in my journal, sometimes on scrapbook layouts. I really do love looking back on those past ways of being and thinking, and while yes: it isn’t really fantastic writing, I do think there is also merit in it, simply because my own story matters, too. So here it is, the long-awaited and very popular post about my life right now.

My biggest complaint about my body right is my unreliable knees. (Ten years ago, when I was in my 30s, I’m not sure I had any complaints about my body, except the usual my-boobs-are-small-my-thighs-are-big vexes.) They aren’t really painful, per se, except for occasional stabby pains and right at the start of a run or a hike. More, it’s just that they don’t work like they’re supposed to. They just don’t bend normally, and the right one (the one that suffered from a crackled femoral condyle) won’t straighten all the way. But still: I am running and hiking. I am trying to find exercises to strengthen my quads that don’t require lunges or squats (harder to find than you might imagine). And I’m just going to keep on keeping on for as long as I can.

I am pondering going back to physical therapy though. Maybe once a week e-stim and stem would be good for me.

While my identity is not only tied to my kids, no life-right-now list would be complete without them. Haley is living in Colorado with her boyfriend, Austin. She is working at a pharmacy at a hospital. She recently figured out that she applied to med schools too late last year and so will have to reapply this spring. So, one more year of working, saving money, and (I hope) resting and building up her energy for med school. Jake is living at home and sorting out his life. So much of his story right now is just that, his story, not mine to tell. But he is doing so much better than he was a year ago. I have every faith in him that he will figure it out. Nathan is at his AIT in Arizona. It is so nice to be able to communicate with him so much faster now; when he was at Basic we could only send letters. Now, in the evenings he can call or text. He is struggling with shin splints and has discovered the magical inefficiencies of military health care. Kaleb is enjoying his soccer season finally. He wasn’t thrilled when it started again, as he has a new love: basketball. He loves basketball. He even watches basketball games on TV. His track season ended yesterday with the regional meet, called Alpine Days. He got 4th in the state on high jump, matching his PR of 5’2”.

Stuff I really like right now: half square triangles, dark chocolate toffees from Trader Joe’s, hazelnut-flavored beverages, my new big pink mug, being outside doing almost anything but especially working in my garden, the last Game of Thrones season, talking about the last Game of Thrones season with Jake.

Things I am grappling with: My faith. (Right now I don’t have any callings and am not going to church very often. Am I happier this way? I’m not sure yet.) Whether or not we should move. (I know exactly what I want my new, imaginary house to look like. In my head it is designed to accommodate the next 25 years of my life, which I’m hoping will eventually include sons and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, family parties, as well as Kendell’s OCD issues. But…I love this house, too. I love my memories here. I love my trees and my yard and my view of Timp. But I want to live somewhere I feel like I fit in. But that’s a lot of effort and expense considering the very large possibility that maybe I don’t fit in anywhere. But that vision in my head of my beautiful new house!) How to fulfill my goals. What will happen if I really do need knee surgery. Selling my mom’s house. Coming to terms with the reality of my relationship with one of my sisters. (Despite what alcoholics and addicts think, their actions, words, and decisions don’t only influence them.) How to help my adult kids in their adult lives. Whether or not I should let Kaleb play ninth grade basketball. (He is really good at basketball but his pediatric cardiologist doesn’t want him to play and that’s all I can write about it for now because I am filling up with terror and despair.)

What I am wearing right now: (I don’t mean literally right now as I write this, but if you’re curious: a black running shirt and the long sleeve from the half marathon I ran in Brooklyn; Kendell just walked by and said “you stink!” which is true as I just finished running and haven’t showered yet.) My knees feel so much better if I wear compression. So lately I wear a loose dress (almost all of them are like this one by Karen Kane) with black running tights or capris. Do I look weird in these outfits? I don’t know. I think I’m old enough that I don’t care. I also wear my workout clothes when I work in the yard. Or do housework. Sometimes I make myself put on actual jeans or pants, but honestly I just want some compression.

The story of my shoes: I have to wear orthotics because of my bunions and capsulitis. So I’m still wearing my Dr. Martens a lot. I know, summer is coming. (I dread the coming of summer because I look so awful in shorts.) But my feet are happier in shoes with tons of support. BUT I’ve got my Chacos out of the summer-shoe storage and my feet are also happy in those. Don’t tell anyone, but because of an awesome deal at the Rack, I currently own five pair of Brooks running shoes. And, because Kendell is slightly obsessed, I have three pair of Keen hiking boots. But one has purple laces so how could I resist?

Hormone status: I’m forty-freaking-seven. I am starting to have…I don’t think they are actual hot flashes. They are hot sleeping. My circadian rhythms are a freaking Katie Perry song. Also, losing weight: that’s a myth, right? From here on out it’s just gain, gain, gain, no matter what I do???

Stuff I do: work (poetry & essay collections, book group everything, reference desk hours), laundry (it is so weird how easy it is to do laundry for just three people—Jake does his own. Sometimes the easiness gets me behind, though, because I’ve started thinking, ehhhh, there’s almost nothing in the baskets, I’ll wait until tomorrow and then I wait too long.), running, hiking, gardening (OH how I love spring gardening!), cooking (but only sometimes, see note about 3 people’s laundry; it’s the same with food and, actually, I need to be better about cooking). Every morning I drive Kaleb to school, which is kind of a pain because it means I have to haul my butt out of bed, now that he’s at a different junior high and can’t walk. But once I’m awake I actually really love it because it gives us some one-on-one time to talk or tell stories or fight over the radio station. I’ve been sewing a lot and honestly, I think it is my way of coping with my mom’s death. A little bit of scrapbooking, but not much.

One last thing: I got a new curling iron from my friends the McAlisters and it is the best thing ever. Smooth curls, not too tight or loose. Swoon!

Weekend Summary

A weekend summary:

On Friday night, I came home from work, had an argument with Kendell about a medical bill (I have no patience or kindness or ability to put up with other people’s issues right now), left home in a huff and spent an hour wandering around Target. (The fact that I only spent $30 is a miracle I think.) Then Jake and I went to pick up food. We had the best conversation while we waited in line at the barbeque place. Nothing really earth-shattering or important, but somehow he helped me feel a little bit better. I’m so grateful he is back home and we are involved in his life again. I’m not complete without him.

This was Nathan’s first drill weekend after joining the National Guard. I got up early to make him protein pancakes both mornings. I can’t express what it felt like when he came home on Saturday night, wearing his uniform. I am proud of him. I am terrified that this experience will damage him in ways I can’t imagine (and ways that I can), that he will be out in the world doing dangerous stuff. But despite that fear, I am also excited for him. I think it will also change him in positive ways.

But I worried about him all weekend. He came home both days exhausted and sore.

I just want to throw this out into the universe: I hope he stays whole and himself. I hope he doesn’t lose his kindness and gentleness. I hope he does acts of service that help people. I hope he makes friends who support him for the rest of his life. I hope this experience makes him an even better person.

Saturday morning was awful for me. I know I sound whiny and miserable and lame, but damn. My depression right now is crippling. I am functioning in the sense of getting up and going to work. But otherwise I am just down here in the dark. Kendell said something that upset me (I don’t even remember now what it was) so we went back and forth for an hour, discussing some things, fighting about other things. He is trying. He doesn’t really know how to help me, but I am glad he is trying. I’m trying too, or at least, sort of. I went back on meds, I started talking to a therapist.

But I also know me. I’ve wrestled with depression since I was 16. It has been better and worse in the past three decades, but never really gone away. I have created coping mechanisms. (Sometimes I wonder…what would my life be like if I didn’t have to fill it with coping mechanisms? What if I could just live and be present and enjoy my experiences?) Right now, I don’t have access to any of those coping mechanisms. But what is affecting me most profoundly is not being able to run. I don’t think I will improve until I can run again.

(And if I can never run again? I don’t even know.)

But, there’s depression but there’s also life, and we needed groceries and we had to go to a funeral. So I took a shower and pretended I was OK and I did what I needed to.

I meant to do some yardwork on Saturday afternoon, but my knees were bothering me so instead, Kendell, Kaleb and I worked on cleaning out the storage room. I finally, after more than 13 years, was able to get rid of all of my books that I’d had in my classroom when I was a teacher. I’d kept boxes of them, with the fear that one day I would have to go back to teaching. But they were taking up so much space, and maybe it was my depression driving me (I’ve also been getting rid of a lot of my clothes, and scrapbook supplies, and running clothes), but I decided: enough. If I DO teach again, I will deal with it then. This felt like shedding some of the weight I have been carrying, which is crazy. I haven’t been in a classroom since Kaleb was born. And despite the fact that I loved many aspects of teaching, the idea of having to go back to teaching is a literal FEAR. It gives me nightmares, and not only because it was difficult, but because teaching was wrapped up in so many other things. My perspective on myself and my place in the world changed drastically during those years, and there were some soul-crushing experiences that happened. So letting go of all of my classroom books was perhaps a thing my psyche needed. Unnecessary weight.

On Sunday, I desperately wanted to go hiking.  But my knees have been bothering me, so I decided not to. Kendell and Jake went, though (I was both miserable about not going and happy they could have some time to themselves), and Kaleb slept in late (Nathan was at his drill). So I just stayed in bed. I had a hot beverage and read my book (I’m reading Fledgling by Octavia Butler) and I didn’t do the laundry or clean the kitchen.

It was my Sunday to teach. My lesson came from Isaiah 50-53, and I focus on learning how to be empathetic from Jesus. I have such complicated feelings about my church and my faith right now. I’m not sure that the Kavanaugh confirmation, and every single Mormon senator supporting him, isn’t the turning point for me. I don’t know how to be in a congregation that is full of men who care more for power and wealth than for doing the right thing. Of course, none of those senators were at my class. I don’t know if I managed to convey this, but what I hope I communicated was this: almost all of the religious stuff we care about is just stuff that doesn’t matter. What matters is loving each other, and mourning for each other, and trying to take care of each other. If Jesus existed, that is what he wants from us, I am convinced. Everything else is dross.

After church, one of the best parts of the weekend: we had dinner with our friends. They live in South Carolina but they were here for Saturday’s funeral. We had some great conversations, our kids reconnected, and we laughed. I laughed. I am not laughing much these days so just that buoyed me. But one conversation in particular, which has too much back story for me to even start to explain it, left me…wow, it left me feeling peaceful, and like I had a little of my light back. It made me feel like I was heard even when I didn’t know anyone was listening. I need that, too.

How was your weekend?

Summary Summary: 14 Adventures

As the autumn equinox is today, I want to squeeze in some summer details before I forget. . It was a strange summer…I was busy recuperating from whooping cough, so I didn’t feel awesome, but I still took several trips, did a bunch of running, went hiking almost every Sunday morning with Kendell, tried and failed to plan a trip to California with my boys. Ate a lot of watermelon, grilled quite a few burgers, totally ignored my yard. So here is my list of my 14 favorite action and adventure (ish) experiences this summer:

  1. My first trip to Colorado.
    Flatirons 3x2
    One of the fun things about the retreat was being surrounded by other women who also get my Skirt Sports obsession. I wore this purple tank and the Sidewinder skirt because it is one of my favorite combos and because I knew I'd feel a bit intimidated and the purple would help me cope. (Silly but true!)
    It’s crazy that I only live one state to the west but have never been to Colorado. I fell in love a little bit, especially with Boulder. This trip was for the Skirt Sports ambassador retreat. I met and traveled with a new friend, had some pretty cool experiences on the retreat day, hiked in the Flatirons, and ran a half marathon. (My very, very slowest half I’ve ever done, because I was still really just recuperating from that damn whooping cough!)
  2. Marathon training. When my doctor told me I had whooping cough and would be sick for at least three months, I said “but I’m training for a marathon” and he said, very gently, “I’m sorry, but you won’t be able to run a marathon.” But, you know how runners are, yes? Tell us we can’t do it and we’ll do it just to prove you wrong. My training was absolutely nowhere near enough miles; I didn’t do many of the mid-distance runs, and several of my long runs ended in me feeling awful, and my longest run was 18 miles, not 20. But that 18 miler? It was my favorite long run. I did it in a 1/3+2/3 division; I parked my car and ran 6 miles, stopped at the car for water, and then ran 12 more miles. The last miles were slower than the first ones, but I never felt awful. In fact, I felt that happy running feeling for all 18 miles. That one positive training run helped me conquer my marathon jitters; every time I started feeling a bit anxious during the race, I’d think about it and know I’d be OK.
    18 miles 3x4
    I realized as I put this blog post together that I wore my Holiday print Lotta Breeze skirt a LOTTA times this summer. I love it because it doesn't move at all. And pockets!
  3. Chacos. On Memorial Day I stopped by a sale at one of our local sporting goods stores (Al’s), and they had both Chacos and Keen sandals on sale. I’d been looking for a summer shoe that would be supportive for my toe issues. I really, really wanted the Keen sandals, but they just didn’t work with my bunions. So I reluctantly bought the Chacos. I didn’t think I’d love them or wear them very often. Boy was I wrong! I have worn them literally ALL SUMMER. Which means I’ve only worn my inserts for running and hiking, and my toes have been OK. I have a beautiful Chaco tan line on my feet now. I love them!
  4. Girls’ weekend in southern Utah. My friend Jamie’s parents have a cabin in southern Utah, and she proposed that she and I and our friend Wendy have a weekend away. It ended up not being as long as I wanted (life makes everything complicated, doesn’t it?), but it was so lovely. The cabin is tucked into the woods, and the first night we got there it rained, so I fell asleep with the loft window open, listening to rain on a tin roof. We hiked in Bryce Canyon, on my favorite trail (the Fairyland Loop) and then…the next day we went to some rock shops! I fell in love with rock shops when I was in seventh grade and I got to be in an advanced geology class. We took tons of field trips, and we’d almost always stop at a rock shop on the way home. Our teacher would teach us some more random rock stuff and then we’d just look for awhile. But, alas, my husband is not so enamored of rock shops, so it’s been years since I’ve stopped at one. So I was delighted to discover that my friends also love rock shops. It was blissful! (I might’ve bought some stone jewelry…)
    20180803_150400 amy wendy jamie bryce canyon 4x6
    Purple tank again! This is the Free Me tank and I wear it almost every time I hike, because it's a tank top but the back is covered so my pack can't chafe. The stranger who took this photo for us talked to us for about 15 minutes about his adventures around the world and how much he loves Bryce despite seeing so many other cool places. My thoughts exactly!
  5. The drive to San Francisco. The drive home from San Fran was a nightmare about which I do not like to speak. But the drive there was so much fun. Even though it took most of a day, it didn’t ever feel long, and the desert was greener than I expected, and we stopped at several interesting rest stops and scenic views along the way. We laughed and talked and listened to music. It was just…a perfect road-trip kind of day.
    20180724_145535 emigrant gap scenic view 4x6
    I bought these capris at the Ambassador retreat. I'd admired them for awhile but wasn't sure if they would work with my thighs. But they do, and I love them, and I wore them ALL SUMMER. (Kendell, on the other hand, thinks they're obnoxious.) Purple+aqua is my current obsession so I couldn't love these any more than I do.
  6. Pine Hollow Overlook hike. This was one of our Sunday morning hikes. Kendell and I hiked a ton this summer (to make up for last summer, when he was still recovering from heart surgery and was starting to have some pretty intense knee pain and so we didn’t hike much), but this one was my favorite. (I already wrote about it here.) When I am stressed I find myself thinking about that hike, the wild beauty of the meadows overlooking the craggy mountains, the wildflowers, the hawk that circled high overhead when we were at the peak. Last week, Kendell and Nathan went to hike it, and I literally cried when they left, because I want to see it in its autumn colors, too. And isn’t it crazy that I’ve lived here my whole life and there are still so many trails I haven’t hiked?
    Pine hollow overlook 4x6
    Holiday Lotta Breeze again! Becky pointed out that I post a lot of pics like this one in Instagram...me from the back, looking at a mountain. Perhaps it is my signature style?
  7. Buffalo Peak Hike with Nathan. Nathan decided he wanted to join Kendell and me, so one August Sunday morning, we hiked Buffalo Peak together. Kendell and I had hiked this trail earlier in the summer, when the wildflowers were perfect. This time with Nathan, the flowers were mostly gone, but it was so much fun to hike with him. I decided his trail name is definitely Legolas, because those long legs make him move so quickly and gracefully! This gave us a chance to talk together about some of his recent experiences. And to laugh. And to admire the mountains. It was a beautiful experience, one I am even more grateful to have now, since I’m injured and can’t hike at all.
    20180819_123943 hiking with nathan
    And...Holiday AGAIN! Plus a different color of Free Flow tank. The mountains behind us are clearly showing how hazy and smoky the air has been here all summer.
  8. The San Francisco Marathon. Despite my doctor’s dire warning, I did run the marathon. I even accomplished the two goals I set for myself: finish, and finish before the sweep trucks. (I finished in 5 hours 47 minutes, which is 13 minutes in front of the sweeps!) I learned so much about myself from this race, both during the training and the race itself. I think one thing that will stick with me is how doing difficult things helps prepare you for other difficult things. And how being patient and kind with your body when it is experiencing weakness requires a sort of strength of character I need to continue to develop. Also how delicious a Frappuccino can taste after 26.2 miles!
    Sf marathon finish line
    I wore my FAVORITE new skirt for my race, the Jaguar skirt (which is a little bit longer and has ruffles on the side and perfectly compressive shorties) in the Temper Tantrum print. But, alas, I have NO GOOD RACE PHOTOS. If there's not a photo of it, did I really wear it? (Well...yes. I didn't run naked.)
  9. A second trip to Colorado. Isn’t that strange…I haven’t been to Colorado ever in my life, and then I went twice in a summer? The second trip was because Kendell had to go to some work training, so I decided to come out at the end of the week. I brought Kaleb with me, and he stayed with Haley. Which means I got to see Haley! We visited her at her work and when I saw her in a hospital setting, in her scrubs and her booties, I totally lost it. Like, ugly cry when I hugged her, because really…she’s grown up. Anyway. Another trip to Colorado meant another chance to run in Colorado! It was a little bit smoky, but not bad enough to stop me. This run confirmed what I had sort-of guessed during my first trip: Colorado seems designed to make it easy to be a runner. There are paved paths and flower-lined sidewalks everywhere!
  10. A weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park. During our weekend in Colorado, Kendell and I drove to the top of Mount Evans and hiked to the St. Mary glacier.
     mount evans chicago lakes
    This is a spot on the Mount Evans highway. There's a lake behind us and one in front of us, too. And a trail! I soooo wanted to go on the trail, but we only came prepared for a drive. This was my first experience of being above the treeline. I was glad I had my Wonder Wool jacket because it was chilly up there!

    But we spent most of the time in Rocky Mountain National Park. This was our first time there and we loved it. We drove the entire length (and back) of Trail Ridge Road, stopping here and there for short hikes along the way. The next day, we hiked to Sky Pond and Miller Pond. This is the day my knee injury happened, but I feel like it was worth it. The mountains are both similar and entirely different to my little bit of the Rockies (the Wasatch front is the most western edge of the Rockies). I haven’t ever been to that high of elevation nor really understood how striking the alpine tundra is. I am still having dreams about these mountains and I want to go back.
    20180826_123515 (1) sky pond 4x6
    Literally two seconds after Kendell took this photo, the sky was BLACK and it was hailing. I couldn't believe how fast the weather changed. The last photo of me before I messed up my knee! And yeah, I DID wear my purple tank again. I told you...it makes me happy!
  11. My favorite run this summer: down South Fork canyon. This spring I joined the local chapter of Moms Run This Town on Facebook. I was hoping to perhaps find a few running buddies, but I immediately felt like I didn’t really fit in. Most of them are from the Lehi/Highland/Cedar Hills/Alpine areas, so they seem both younger than me and wealthier. (This triggers my insecurities, deeply.) Plus, all the runs they scheduled were on the north side of the valley. So I hadn’t really tried running with them, until someone posted about wanting to run down South Fork canyon and then to the bottom of Provo Canyon. I didn’t need that many miles that day, and I needed to work on both uphill and downhill, so I went knowing I would just run down South Fork with them, and then turn around. But I was excited to at least try to make some new running friends.

It didn’t really work out that way. At the start of the run, I stood still for a bit to start my watch and my Strava app, and when I looked up from this I realized they’d already started running. They were faster than me (whooping cough makes you so slow) so I never caught up. This really bugged me, as on the group messages they are ALWAYS writing about how Provo Canyon seems like a scary place to run and they would never run there alone…but they left me to run alone without a second backward glance.

Which is a weird way to start writing about my favorite run. But the point is that the group got me out and running early in the morning, in a spot I haven’t run in for awhile. In fact, as I was running down the canyon I remembered that my very first long race started in this canyon, a ten-mile run in 2003, and I think that’s the last time I’ve run there. It was so beautiful that morning! Right in the middle of July but the elevation was high enough that it was literally chilly when I started—goosebump-raising chilliness. The flowers were blooming and the light was perfect. I loved the downhill and I loved the uphill as well, and I finished with just enough energy left to push myself at the end. Starting the way I did reminded me that I will likely always be a solitary runner, because really: I was so happy that morning on my own in the canyon.

South fork stretch 4x6
I took a whole series of photos this summer like this...half moon yoga pose. I think I will put them all on a scrapbook layout. I'm still sad I forgot to do one in RMNP!


  1. Hike to Bells Canyon waterfall with my friend Lucy. Lucy and I became friends because of blogging, but she was also Becky’s friend through other people. So maybe I would’ve been friends with her even without blogging. She and I have very different opinions about the church and our life philosophies, but we get along so well and have the best discussions. When she was visiting this June, we went on a hike together and it was fantastic. I had never hiked to this waterfall, and I was still pretty iffy with my lungs; it was a steep hike, and while I didn’t tell her this, I struggled to hike the steepness and to talk at the same time. But we made it to the fall and back again, talking the whole time. Amy and lucy 4x4We stopped in a meadow on the way down for a selfie and disturbed a rattlesnake; it rattled its rattle at us and we jumped up on a rock to get away from it! Unlike running, hiking is something I usually do with someone else, and it was great to be with an old friend on a beautiful trail. (She thought I was insane to be excited about the rattlesnake, but as it’s supposed to be there, I was, yes, really excited to see a rattlesnake.)
  2. Hiking in Big Basin State Park. I had so many people tell me that when we were in San Francisco we should go to Muir Woods. But every time I read about it, I just didn’t want to. A “nature” experience with that many people just isn’t my thing. (I’m sure if I could have Muir Woods mostly to myself I’d love it.) But you can’t go to northern California without seeing redwoods, right? So instead we hiked the Berry Falls loop in Big Basin. The drive there was beautiful. The hike was beautiful. The parking lot was beautiful! I loved it, Kendell loved it, and while yes, we’d still like to see Muir Woods one day…this hike was perfect for us. I think we saw about 10 other people on the trail (and it was a 10+ mile loop, including me taking a wrong turn), so the solitude and the trees and the running water? Amazing.
    Big basin hike
    Kind of blurry...but the blur makes me smile because it reminds me we were moving! Pink Jaguar skirt and one of my first hikes with my new Camelback
  3. Miscellaneous summer 2018 memories: Running with Becky on the Jordan River trail before we took the boys to the trampoline park. Those wildfires everywhere and how unbearably smoky it was, and how sad it made me to see our mountains burning. A family party in July that almost everyone came to, even the family that lives in Texas now. Jake moved back home. Haley moved to Fort Collins. Nathan got back together with his girlfriend and then they broke up again (while we were in San Francisco). Kaleb fell in love with fish (fish as pets, not food) over the summer. A totally unremarkable 4th of July (like, really, I don’t even know what we did) that made me realize I need to actively create some new traditions for our family. Several Saturdays spent looking at different model homes before we decided that nowhere right now is the right place for us to move. Suzette got to meet Elliott and I got to have breakfast with him while he was visiting Utah.

I confess: I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself with my current injury. I want to be OUT THERE experiencing the world! But writing this blog post helped me to remember that I did a lot of cool stuff this summer, and one day I'll be out there again. In cute clothes!

If you want something cute to wear on your fall and winter adventures, the new lines are starting to come out at skirtsports.com. Use my discount code, 842Sore, for 15% off! 


What I've Learned About Being Intrepid: 2017 So Far

Back in the early days of last December, I gave some serious thought to picking a word for 2017. I don’t do this religiously, every year, as some people do. But with all that happened in 2016—Kendell’s near-death experience, and a nose surgery, and then another heart surgery, and my short trip to Europe which was fun but also incredibly stressful, and finding out that Kaleb’s heart is getting worse (and the accompanying extra cardiologist appointments and non-stress tests and worrying every single day that today could be the day), and Nathan’s basketball injuries and rock-climbing concussion, and Haley’s Hood Incident, and Jake moving out, and my two ankle sprains, and the stabbing at Nathan’s school, and the damned election, and holy cow am I forgetting any other calamity?—I thought to myself, you know. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff in 2016. Surely the universe is done with me for a while.

Surely I deserve a break.

But the universe and I go way back. And I never quite trust that it’s finished chewing me up. So I wanted to find a word for 2017 that would encapsulate that idea: hope that things would be better but acknowledgement that I just probably couldn’t imagine yet what shape the universe’s teeth would take. I chose the word intrepid: fearless; undaunted; daring; brave. 20170701_225658I like the word for its structure, in meaning not, + trepid from the French trepidus which suggests “alarmed.” So, as I read some dictionary and word histories, intrepid started to suggest to me the concept of being “not alarmed.” Able to calmly deal with whatever. Which seemed like exactly what I needed to be. Not really brave or daring, and not dauntless, definitely not dauntless. But brave in a non-alarmed kind of way.

So I chose my word. And then the universe started shaping its teeth. Let’s see how undaunted you can be, the universe laughed.  Let’s see if you are brave.

One of the things that has made the first half of this year so difficult is that the difficulties aren’t really mine. The choices and stories belong to someone else, someone who I love, and this person’s difficulties are making me mourn and choices are making me grieve. But I can only write about the experience in private ways (which has taught me that blogging itself is a unique form of therapy; not just writing, but publishing what I wrote; it gives me both the catharsis of having written and the relief of having been heard in some way). And there is a duality in the experience: feeling sorrow for this person who I love, but also feeling pain as a result of this person’s actions.

All of which is to say: I have not been intrepid. Neither in the dictionary sense of being fearless and undaunted, and not in the more personal connotation I’ve developed. Not calmly unalarmed. I have wept. I have tossed and turned, sleepless for hours after midnight. I have slept too much, that nearly-frenzied exhaustion that comes when you cannot think of a single possible way that any of this can turn out right and the only way you can cope is to escape. I have anguished in ways and methods I have not for decades.

I have felt all the tools I use for coping fall, one after the other, out of my hands; I have been unable to cope.

I’ve been down in the blackness of my black place.

But I have also started to heal. I have started to learn some truths that are sharp and painful but true, nevertheless. I have started to wonder: what if I didn’t have to use my tools to cope but to build? What if I could make instead of repairing? What if I could put down hoping for the life I imagined and pick up (and embrace) the life I have?

They are large lessons, mostly submerged and unknown, an Artic ocean’s worth of icebergs with surfaces I have only begun to explore.

But I am exploring.

Am I an intrepid explorer? I’m not really sure anymore. This is an internal journey, an intimate one in which I can only succeed if I look at my failures, mistakes, and stumbles with both honesty (acknowledging them not in a spirit of self-flagellation) and compassion (somehow realizing that while I have made many mistakes I have also only been able to make the choices I made using the knowledge I had). In my favorite thesaurus, Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, there is this sentence: “An audacious individual is bold to the point of recklessness, which brings it very close in meaning to intrepid, suggesting fearlessness in the face of the unknown.”

I am very much facing the unknown. I’m not doing it without fear, but I am trying to continue to explore, to understand myself better, to know the things that I can do to help the people who I love (and also what I cannot do). But maybe the intrepid explorers of the past—Amelia Earhart, Captain Cook, Louise Arner Boyd, Amerigo Vespucci, Sacagawea, Ernest Shackleton—maybe they were only intrepid because they kept going. The fact that they didn’t turn around, didn’t give up, doesn’t prove that they weren’t afraid but that they were determined.

And maybe that is what I am learning about being intrepid: that it is about not giving up. That holding on to loving someone is sometimes painful and difficult and cold and very lonely—but that I have to hold on to loving them anyway. I am learning that traversing this rough terrain isn’t always about calmness, or about courage, but about continuing to move forward in the landscape. It’s about being prepared to accept that I have no idea what lurks around the next curve—maybe a meadow, maybe a desert—and so all I can do is set my feet on the trail in front of me. Being intrepid means not giving up on the people who are traveling with me, even if we don’t always follow the same path. Not giving up on myself, either (which is much, much harder).

Maybe I did pick the right word.

2017 05 21 amy volcano national park 1 4x6