colorado

“Always,” said Snape.

I just got done watching the last Harry Potter movie. We spread out part one and two over the weekend and I sit here, on my big blue couch, letting big waves of sad wash all over me.

Pulse. Wave. Sad. Pulse. Wave. Breath. Sad.

My dad loved those books.

When Harry Potter was eleven, I was eleven. Those stories a staple in my childhood and my adolescence.

Rewind six hours today and I’m standing, for the first time, in the oddest bookstore in town. In a small closet my ankle boots anchor me in front of a tall set of shelves. Big, wooden ones tucked away from the other rows of scattered books. On one shelf, at eye level, sit stacks and stacks of the series. Copies of all seven stories are accounted for. Five or six of each part of the grand story.

Piles of red books with gold lettering on worn spines. They’re all there. The first one – purple spine. The Chamber of Secrets. And on the shelf below piles of blue spines with the same gold lettering. The Half Blood Prince. And the green spine. And the orange. All the stories there. On shelves.

Reminding me of pages once loved and frantic flipping of paper to figure out what would happen next to our epic heroes.

Whoosh.

I’m eighteen years old.

Dad driving me to the midnight showing of the newest film after my senior appreciation dinner. I was wearing a blue hoodie and my Varsity tennis sweatpants. I sat with friends against the wall in the theater, feeling on top of the world. Invincible. I had accomplished so much.

Woosh.

It’s summer vacation and the two of us are sitting in a small cabin, each holding a copy of The Deathly Hallows across from each other, racing to read faster. Both in flannel pajamas. Staying up too late, drinking cocoa out of blue speckled metal mugs.

We always bought two copies when the new books were released because we couldn’t wait for our own turn. We had to read together. Who could get through the cliffhanger faster? He usually won. And the next morning we’d sit on the tiny wooden porch in the sun, debriefing the story, gasping at who the last casualty was to fall to he-who-shall-not-be-named.

Memories in story as we flipped page together. That gangly Harry Potter and his heroic crew weaving his fictional life with mine. With Dad’s.

That’s what good books do – they become an inseparable part of your story.

Woosh.

And tonight, I miss him. And I miss Harry. And the beautiful gold lettering. And those worn, well-loved spines.

Now the books just sit beautifully, in stacks, on shelves in used-book stores and studies that he no longer enters.

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But both of their stories linger in my heart and my fingers and my memories. Touch the spines, finger the gold letters, breath.

Pulse. Wave. Breath. Sad.

In other news, I had fun writing this guest post for More Native Than the Natives. I like living in Colorado and am proud to be from this beautiful state. It ain’t all bad folks. Feel the wave. Breathe. Move again in the morning.

Oh, Christmas Tree

“What are you doing the rest of the afternoon?” asked the sweet guy working the counter at D.S.W.

“We’re going Urban Christmas Tree Hunting ” I replied.

“You mean like in a field?” he asked.

“No. Like at Home Depot.”

We exchanged a laugh and my mom and I walked out of the store setting out to meet Dylan. We had to go pick out her Christmas tree for the season. Urban tree hunt we did. It took about twenty minutes for the whole excursion. Traveled to the store, tree selected, he put that sucker on the roof and drove it back to her house.

Dylan and I took a different approach as two of our friends asked if we wanted to cut down a tree. Like in a forest. It’s Colorado ya’ll. We haven’t gone the fresh, outdoor route since before we got married.

As our friend drove us up the canyon, memories flooded back. Growing up I had years and years of hunting for the perfect tree in the woods with my cousins and particular mother. It was tradition. Four kids and two adults – sometimes more – would pack into the trusty Subaru the day after Thanksgiving. Shooting for a ten am departure time usually turned into leaving at one or two pm. Us kids would fight for the spots in the back of the car where we didn’t have to wear a seat belt. Our caravan bounced along dirt roads. Wearing our matching sweaters, we’d yell cheers and balance on top of each other as the driver rounded the canyon corners to avoid the axes and saws at our feet.

Safe. Yes, safe.

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Some years the sun would be setting by the time we got the darn tree to the ground. Other years we’d trek back to the car and retrace our steps because keys were lost. Cold and whining because we couldn’t find the damn car. On the dark drive home sometimes the tree would sway in the wind and scratch glass as it slowly slid down over the front windshield.

“Pull over Dad” my brother and I would yell, “the tree is sliding again!”

And then some years, when we’d get home, the tree would rest on the ground in the doorway, boughs shaking as Dad frantically sawed off the extra six inches…. or extra feet… off the bottom grumbling as he went. Mom often underestimated the pine’s height out there under the big blue sky.

Wonderful memories. Floods of nostalgia and love with the realization that my memories of Dad are turning the corner from anguish and stomach aches to tickles inside my heart.

He did that with us. I remember.

We drove two hours to the National Forest land where we spent $10 for a tree permit and a refreshing hike in the snow.

Let me clarify – the barely two inches of snow and sixty degree weather made the experience pretty enjoyable. Much better than my snow suit days. We spent thirty minutes searching and sawing and threw our selection into the bed of a pick-up truck.

We brought our tree home, and only cut a few inches off the end of our little tannenbaum. Dylan strung the lights and I selected my favorite mis-matching ornaments and we decorated the house. It was cozy. And it was good.

And then, on Monday, we went to work.

And Olive went to work.

IMG_5796While we were away, she chewed a few ornaments and destroyed three strings of lights. We came home to the tree skirt fluff creating snow in our living room, and the water in the tree stand gone. Luckily, our Charlie Brown decoration was still standing.

So our idyllic tree hunting experience has become beautifully imperfect. A memory in the making as I built a child-like fort barricade to keep her from our lightless tree.

It’s pretty charming to have a tree in your living room without decorations. Well, we’ve got ornaments on the top half of the tree, and a new shining star gleams proudly in front of the coffee table that blocks the access from our ambitious puppy.

Maybe I’ll look back in a few years and say, “Remember when Olive destroyed the decorations on the tree?”

A ha ha – we will laugh – as she will have certainly outgrown her puppy phase by then.

Tonight, we are going to try again and string some more lights on the tree.

I’ll be sure to hide the plug and tighten up my makeshift fort. I sprayed the tree skirt with puppy safe citrus deterrent and put her water bowl back on the floor. I breath deeply at work remembering I’m thirty minutes away from our house and can’t do a single thing once I’ve left.

I’ll let you know how long Lights-Phase Two lasts. Say a silent prayer for our hopeful decoration.

No matter how you select your Christmas tree this year, may the memories you make be beautiful.

 

P.S. – The Give Light Giveaway is open. I’m accepting submissions from now until December 31st. Be sure to send me your light! Details on how to enter here.

 

Rest. Breathe. Observe. Reflect. Repeat. 

I just got back from a weekend away in the mountains.

Funny how when you say yes to rest, your body shows you just how tired you have been.

I have been tired.

Like watching your puppy stare up at you, eye lids heavy, trying to stay alert and awake and failing. Head droops. Heart rests on the floor.

I’ve been tired of the rushing from here to there and my self-propelled late nights working on dreams.

Tired of my wrists hurting from typing.

Tired of scrolling through angry posts, of crazy world news, of buckets of rain and high winds.

Tired of tuning in to CNN.

Tired of fear and inadequacy.

Tired of sadness and the gut ache of grief.

Tired of big sighs and big storms and big losses.

And when we are tired, the world says do more, but my God says, ‘do less’.

Tired of resisting this truth.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” – Jeremiah 31:25 

Why is it so hard to press pause, to release, to take not just one, but repetitive deep breaths.

Let go of the guilt you feel walking in the door upon returning from your escape.

Smile as you push the grocery lists and bills off the counter.

Watch the paper responsibilities, just paper, flutter to the floor.

For just for a few moments allow deep pulses of respite to seep into your bones. To massage out the tense aching in our ever fearful bodies.

Rest. Breathe. Observe. Reflect. Repeat. 

It’s ok. You can pick up the envelopes and organize the pile now. Think about food. Nourish your self. Rest.

Tomorrow will be for rising again.

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Home is Where the Heart Is

Forgive my tardiness. Yesterday seemed to get away from me. It is with great excitement that I post another guest contribution from reader Melody. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on love and responding to the “Where Your Heart is Challenge.”

Here is her response.

Home is where the heart is.  It’s cliche, but it’s so true.  Today is Valentine’s Day and I love Valentine’s Day.  As a little girl Dad always made sure that Mom had roses and a big box of chocolates, while my sister and I were gifted a single red rose and a tiny heart box of chocolates,  It wasn’t the flowers and candy that made me love Valentine’s Day though.  It was the town I grew up in.

Loveland, CO is the Sweetheart City, and it lives up to it’s name. I’ve lived all over the United States and small towns everywhere put up Christmas decor on their streetlights; declaring to the community there is a reason to celebrate. And while that happens in Loveland at Christmas, what truly made it special to me were the February streetlights, happily decked out with giant red hearts. You could pay to have a special Valentine’s message placed on one for all the world to see.   My memories are crowded with images from childhood.  Sitting in the back seat of the car driving down Eisenhower next to Lake Loveland, I would dream of the day I’d see my name on one of those beautiful ruby hearts.
I haven’t lived in Loveland for 18 years now. My parents moved to Oregon 11 years ago.  And every February my heart grows a little bit heavy with the missing of my hometown.  Last March I returned to Loveland for a funeral.  I stayed with family friends and saw lots of friends and I was reminded that there is no place on earth my heart feels more at home than in my beloved sweetheart city.  The friends I have there are extensions of my family, the mountains sing to my soul of freedom and peace, and the streetlights proclaim loudly that love is here and love is good.
With memories and relationships rekindled this has been as year filled with Loveland stories for my friends here in NM and my husband.  And so as this Valentine’s Day approached I was excited to once again try to make my kid’s memories as special as my childhood ones but also filled with wistful dreams of streetlight hearts.  We gave the kids their gifts and cards this morning and faced the usual morning rush to get to school.  I left 15 minutes later than I wanted to but that was ok.  As I rounded a corner a couple blocks from my home I did a double take.  There on the streetlight was a red, hand painted, cardboard heart reading “Moose loves Moosette”  I took a deep breath and choked back the tears.  My Valentine fulfilled my childhood dream.  And it doesn’t matter that I’m not in Loveland this Valentine’s Day.  Home is where the heart is; and today I found that my heart could be home wherever I am because the love I carry from the people and places I have loved is always with me.
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Happy Valentine’s Day from New Mexico!

When Your Heart is in Loveland

My good friend Beth chose to share her response to the “Where Your Heart Is Challengeand I’m so tickled. Thanks for sharing the love!

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“Loveland, Colorado sure knows how to celebrate Valentine’s Day! I moved to Loveland just over a year ago and I’ve enjoyed experiencing all of the unique traditions the city has related to the holiday, including the ubiquitous hearts posted on street signs across town and of course all of the “love-themed” beers on tap at the breweries. But my favorite tradition is sending hand-written Valentines to my family through Loveland’s Valentine re-mailing program. I’ve made it a tradition to personally deliver my letters to the special red mailbox located at the downtown post office branch (appropriately called the “Valentine” branch!) where the letters are stamped with a special message from the Sweetheart City before being mailed.

The part that I find most beautiful about this tradition is the process and the time it requires. As I wrote each Valentine, I took a moment to think about the recipient and to appreciate how much joy and love they give me! Even as I walked over to the post office, my heart was full of love as I took the time to reflect on the various ways these people have shown me so much love over the past year. Life moves so fast and it’s easy to let “love” be just a passing thought or a common phrase that we add to our daily speech. For me, “love” becomes truly special when I slow down to appreciate, reflect on and share in sending the love.”

 

 

If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on love, or responding to the “Where Your Heart is Challenge”, send me an email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com. Accepting entries until 2.14.17

Giving Light – Alice M.

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Hi!  My name is Alice. When we were a family of 2, 5 years ago, we moved to Colorado so my husband could attend school at CSU. And I was lucky enough to meet Katie!  While in Colorado we grew to a family of 3, and have since moved to Rhode Island and become a family of 4!

Here are 5 things that bring light to my life…

1. My Family!

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My family is my heart and my soul; my guts my breath, my everything. There really are just no words…

2. The Time We Spent in Colorado 

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I had previously only lived in Virginia and living in Fort Collins opened my life up to how wonderful it can be to explore and live in a new place. Our time there was beautiful and forever changed me.

3. Down time!  Who knew!? 

Few things rejuvenate me more than just having down time…either sitting on my couch in my cozy clothes watching something or relaxing with a book in a coffee shop.  It doesn’t happen much, but when it does, it’s a beautiful thing!

4. Making new friends, and my beautiful friends I have known forever and met along the way. 

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I’ve been very lucky to have great friends;  I am beyond fortunate for the friends we have made as the result of our moves who I know are now life long friends.  Also for the wonderful people who love my children.

5. Christmas Lights!

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Okay, maybe I’m being influenced by the time of year, but nonetheless, Christmas lights make me silly happy!  And so far no where we have lived does Christmas lights like Richmond VA!

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway.

Giving Light – Dylan. H

*Disclaimer – Dylan is my husband. He more than willingly contributed, and I am thrilled, but I told him he can’t win the box of goodies. No nepotism here. *

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Hello everyone I’m Dylan Huey and yes you guessed it the husband to the amazing woman that created this blog. I’m a graphic designer from Boulder, CO with a love for the outdoors, my wife, our dog, things that go fast and good music of any sort – minus country Ew!

You can find me on Instagram @drummerhuey.

Here are my five – cough cough- seven things.

1. My beautiful wife Katie

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You all already know so much of her beauty and love for this world. I am the luckiest guy that I get to be her husband. She brightens my day everyday. I love spending time with her no matter what we are doing. We have been together for around 10 years now and being with her never gets old. I enjoy hearing her views, beliefs, and stories everyday.  I can’t imagine my life without her and I hope we get to spend so many more years together on all sorts of adventures.

2. My dog Olive

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This little creature is the newest addition to the house and she is great. She is a constant ball of energy and joy. I love the way she is always happy and has a smile on her face. She is always ready to play ball or wrestle and go hiking with us.

3. Projects with Dad 

My dad owns a 1970 MGB and recently the two of us have been working on it to get it back into driving condition. It sat for quite a few years and now is getting the love it needs. I hope to someday do a full restore on it but that will be some time from now. Other than the car he has been helping me do some projects to our house such as the wainscoting, painting, and the banisters. I love working with him on anything. We are a lot a like so being around him is like hanging with one of the guys.

4. Colorado

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So I have to admit that Colorado looks nothing like this photo right now. Yesterday we received our first decent snow storm so we are in a winter wonderland today. That being said I truly love where I live and feel so lucky to have the mountains so close. I have visited a lot of places and couldn’t call any of them home. I love exploring this state and taking advantage of where we live.

5. My WRX

So it might be a little weird to think one’s car is beautiful but I really love my car. I really enjoy going for drives in it and doing things to it to make it better looking and faster. I had wanted a WRX for a long time and the wide body GR version is by far my favorite. If there are any car people out there you can follow what I do to the car on Instagram @lexthewrx.

Ok so I’m cheating some but here are two more things in my life that I couldn’t leave off the list.

6. My Drums

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I have played drums for around 15 years now and love them. I had an amazing middle school music teacher show me how and have been learning and getting better ever since. I truly love music and love what it can do to people and the world. I was given a great gift of having an eclectic music taste and love sharing that with anyone.  

7. Blastoff Branding

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Finally is my business. My goal is to grow my small freelance business into an agency of 15 or so designers that does work for large scale clients. I have been working in graphic design for 5 years now and love every minute of it.  I believe that great design can change the world. For more information about Blastoff Branding follow me on Instagram @blastoffbranding or visit http://www.blastoffbranding.com

 

If you are interested in giving your own light, click here to learn more about how you can enter the Give Light Giveaway.

Give Light Giveaway

Things have been rather bleak the last few weeks. I don’t want to get into a political debate, and I don’t want to argue.

Instead, I have been asking myself over and over again how can I, one little person, make a difference in this heated political climate? How can I choose to influence my small portion of the world? How can I choose to continue seeking positivity when the world feels uncertain and hesitant?

My idea requires a bit of participation and I would like to invite you to participate in my….. drum roll please…… Give Light Giveaway! Let’s join together in an effort to share our small beautiful portions of the world and bring some positivity to our spaces.

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Here is how you can play.

Compile the following and email me at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com between November 16th and December 15th.

  1. Email me 5 things you find to be beautiful in your world right now. They can be in list format, or if you prefer to write more, you can expand on your thoughts. Your top 5 beautiful things will then be shared as a post on my blog between now and the end of the year.  If I receive an overwhelming amount of responses, I will continue to share the content I collect past the deadline of December 15th.
  2. Include pictures of your items, quotes, and links that are appropriate to your content. (Please keep your photos and links appropriate – I will censor if necessary)
  3. Include a small bio about yourself and a fun photo of you. Optional –  include links for how you can be contacted – ie. email, Instagram, or Twitter feed.
  4. Be willing to share the post I create with your content with your network – share on your Facebook, send an email blast, work with others to promote sharing positivity for the rest of the year.

By submitting your materials you will be entered into a drawing to win a basket of local Colorado goodies – some of my favorite things. So far I’m thinking coffee from Bindle, beer goodies from Odell Brewing Company, and treats from The Cupboard to start. On December 15th, I will put all the names in a hat, and draw one winner who will later be contacted. You need not live in Colorado to win.

So there it is! Will you join me in creating beautiful content that can generate and spark a wave of beauty as we close out 2016.

Email me with questions. I can’t wait to Give Light!

“Give Light and People Will Find the Way” – Ella Baker 

Stop Pulling

We took the dog on a walk this weekend. A glorious, Colorado blue sky, 70 degree weather kind of a walk. As we passed by the hidden ponds that are close to our house, I found myself paying more attention to the dog tugging on the leash than the environment we were in. Every few seconds Dylan would reprimand Olive with a strong “No!” and a tug on the leash. We are trying to teach her how to heel.

“Do you think God ever feels this way about us?” I asked Dylan as our footsteps crunched on the gravel path.

“What do you mean?” he responded. Dylan is used to me sharing my thoughts, not yet fully formulated. He is patient in waiting for my explanations.

“You know, as we walk along through life we are tugging at the end of the leash. Wanting to see, explore, smell, and arrive faster than the one who is leading us. Like we are going to miss out on something if we just chill out. Do you think God is sick of us pulling on our leashes?”

“Huh,” he responded, with a few moments of silence. “Yes, I guess. I wish he would hurry up and help us get there though.”

“Me too” I murmured in agreement.

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This year has been one of waiting, of not understanding, of redirection.

I’ve often found myself tugging, hoping, aching, running towards the destination that I’m not yet even sure of. No, I do not think God has on metaphorical leashes, but yes, I think we can pull and tug, and plan and stress ourselves out. If we walked a little slower, had a bit more slack, then the journey may be a bit more enjoyable.

I’m sticking to this metaphor this week and reminding myself not to pull so hard. We will get there when we get there.

I also have a nasty head cold and am thankful for the ability to rest. To give myself some slack and read a few books. I’ve avoided the grocery store and instead am heating up leftover chicken noodle soup. There is beauty in giving yourself permission to rest, in weekend walks, vitamin C. More beauty, perhaps, in learning, or rather being reminded of life lessons from your pup.

 

 

Slow Moving Smiles – Guest Post by Dean Miller

I am thrilled that I have been contacted by several people who are wanting to contribute to 52 Beautiful Things over the past few weeks. I actually am starting a queue of contributors! If you are interested in sharing your journey in finding a piece of the beauty the world has to offer, send me an email at 52beautifulthings@gmail.com

This week’s post comes to you from Mr. Dean Miller, a writer working in Northern Colorado. Connections through the Northern Colorado Writer’s Group brought us together. Thanks for sharing your work and pursuit of beauty Dean! Read below for his experience with something beautiful this week.

Author: Dean Miller

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The drive across the Continental Divide along I-70 in Colorado is one of the most beautiful journeys one can make by car. Towering mountain peaks pocketed by patches of snow, even in late summer months, remind me that all things endure even when they change. However, the stretch through the Eisenhower Tunnel leading to the Denver can also be of the most frustrating stretches of highway to drive.

Such was the case on this day. I enjoyed the non-stop travel from Grand Junction, cruising along the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon, over Vail Pass and through the tunnel. All of us came to an abrupt stop four miles down the hill on the eastern slopes for the Front Range. Who knew why and that didn’t really matter. What was in front, and now stretching behind me, were cars nose-to-tail, sitting still; a 65 mph highway turned parking lot. To make matters more annoying, this was the fourth time in six trips that I had encountered these conditions.

There was no place to go, save the occasional 20 foot roll downhill every few minutes or so, progress like that of a distracted toddler. I only wanted to get home, not unlike everyone else stuck on the mountainside. Cars jockeyed for the best lane, sometimes stopping those behind, but opening a small portal for those in the lane they vacated. Another roll downhill here; a long pause there. After a while, I found a bit of happiness with each incremental move forward. Yes, that was it! Take in the small pleasure of knowing that no matter how slow I am going, I am moving forward, closer to my goal. The pauses in momentum only fortified the moments of progress.

The line of cars snaked ahead far enough to reach an exit that led to a frontage road leading through the sleeping mountain town of Idaho Springs. Taking a chance, I took the exit and headed down the pavement at nearly 35 mph, a pace which felt NASCAR-fast after crawling along for nearly 30 minutes. All went well until every other driver who shared my same great idea backed up in Idaho Springs.

My progress was again, snail-like slow, but I eased through town at a pace faster than on the Interstate. Looking around I saw the locals and others out enjoying the warm summer evening, filling the several small shops, pizzerias, and restaurants, or relaxing in the park. Near the south end of town, less than a mile from rejoining the freeway (and possibly another 30 minutes of “driving,”) a familiar site caught my attention. Sitting on the porch of a small home was a large painted ceramic pig, one exactly like I had painted for my mother over thirty years ago. Back then, mom collected everything “pig.” My girlfriend and I painted the set, a girl in a flowered dress and a boy pig in overalls and given it to her for Christmas. Nearly two feet tall, the pair sat sentry along the dining room wall of her house.

Behind me a horn honked, stealing me back from my memory and a smile. I hadn’t thought of those handcrafted pigs in decades. Rolling forward for 300 feet traffic stopped again. A busy restaurant was on the left and sitting by the entrance was an even larger hog statue, this one adorned with a chef’s hat. I laughed at the site and decided to call my mom. We talked about the pigs, both those I saw and the ones we had painted. We shared a laugh that stretched across the mountains and over one thousand miles.

Eventually traffic merged back on to I-70. A few stop and go miles later, I took a second, compulsive exit to escape the log jam of cars. Driving along Clear Creek, I meandered through the canyon at dusk, enjoying the “backroad” scenery for the first time. Spotting potential fishing spots, I wondered if I could come back some day to check them out.

As evening sighed into night, I headed north along the pastures and plateaus of the Flatirons, passing a sports stadium where I watched my daughter play her last college soccer game. Another memory brought another smile.

I arrived home after more than six hours of road weary travel, happier than when I left, thanks to a traffic jam that could have ruined a Saturday’s journey through life. After settling in at home I wrote the following, if only to remind myself that it isn’t the pace at which we move through life, but rather, that we take advantage of those times when we do slow down.

It starts today: here, right where you are. You don’t have to accept where you are, though that adds more challenge than is necessary. Yesterday’s journey no longer matters, except in recognizing that it got you where you are now, right here. Tomorrow’s destination (and your next starting point) is unknown. Therein lays the beauty of this voyage. Today you begin fresh, energized by the knowledge that all you have to do is choose and then move forward. Think about that, moving forward; if you are walking in the direction of which you face, you are making progress. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

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Dean is a freelance writer, author, poet, and professional member of Northern Colorado Writers. He has published two books (essays, poetry, and creative nonfiction) along with one ebook short through Hot Chocolate Press. He is the creator of The Haiku For You Project and is the editor of the upcoming Anthology The Water Holds No Scars: Fly Fishing Stories of Rivers and Rejuvenation. His work has been published in nearly two dozen literature journals and online ezines. He lives in northern Colorado and works as an FAA air traffic controller.