Mountains

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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Still Up?

When I was growing up I would often sneak into my parents’ bed on a Saturday morning. My dad would already be awake, and the sun would be streaming in the half moon window, warming my spot at the foot of the large four poster bed. I’d snuggle in and pull up the sheets and watch the world wake up as my family began our Saturday morning. My dad, after thirty years of marriage or so, would bring my mom tea in bed, just as she liked it. My brother would come bounding down the stairs and hop in to join us. I watched this weekend ritual (judgement of appropriate boundaries aside) and think to myself, “Hmm, I hope someday, when I’m old and married, my husband brings me tea on Saturday mornings.”

I haven’t been married yet a year. This Saturday, my husband did not bring me coffee in bed. I figure I’ve got twenty nine years of Saturdays for this to change. We did, however, have a slow wake up day reading and watching the sun on the lake, and sipping coffee I prepared. Slow wake up days are beautiful. As I was laying in bed scrolling through my Facebook feed I noticed plenty of people were out and about on early morning adventures. Dang! Maybe I should have jumped out of bed to go hiking, or brunch, or raft a river. I do not like early morning adventures. I like sleep in Saturdays with my white down comforter, and pillows, and maybe some biscotti as well. This week, slow rising was beautiful.

We also had the chance to get away to the mountains for an afternoon hike. I can do afternoon adventures. We haven’t had a very outdoorsy summer, and I was craving a mountain experience. It amazes me how often I forget that we are literally thirty minutes away from one of the biggest natural tourist destinations in the world.

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On our hike we encountered a European family.

After smiling and making eye contact on the trail the mother asked, “How much further?”

“Not far,” we responded like the lying Coloradoans we are. “Just around a few more curves.”

The father turned and asked in a European accent, “Still up?”

“Yes, still up,” we said.

“Perfect. More up. I love up,” the gentleman responded.

We laughed as yes the trail was straight up hill with plenty of stairs equating to a lunge workout. Many steps, many breath taking views along the way.

Sometimes life feels like a balance between rest and the challenging moments of “still up huh?” We face unknowns and questions and self doubt and then, every once in awhile, we have the option to stop and take in the view. To watch the world wake up from a window as the sun rises, to drink coffee in bed. I’m thankful for the beauty in both options this week, and in this season of life.

Essie – None

Biscotti – None – CHERRY POPSICLES! That’s my jam!

Little Luxuries

I’m having a bit of a fearful day today. But, progress has been made, because my little bit of fear seems to be floating on the surface of a lot of good things that are happening. I’m thinking about that paper marbling technique I used to do with my mom when I was little – you put the drops of paint that float on water, watch it swirl around, and dip paper into the pretty patterns to capture something more unique; the pattern is different every time.

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When I googled the term “marble painting” most of the hits came back with tips and techniques for pre-schoolers. Channel my inner child. Ok. I’ll take the term and turn it into an extended metaphor. My favorite exercise. In my life right now there seems to be quite a bit swirling around. If I’m creating a marble painting of myself I think these are the things that I would be dropping onto that watery surface.

Drop one – Wedding planning is a beast – no wonder people elope. There are so many decisions to be made, and I’m being taught again and again that my tendency to want to cross things off my list, and do it NOW, is maybe more of a character flaw than an asset.  This is a process, not something to check off my list.  Drop two – my job is pleasant, but days are always full, and I continue to balance a multitude of tasks and responsibilities. I am happy here, though, because I’d rather to have too much to do then sit at a desk twiddling my thumbs. We are preparing for the biggest fundraiser of the year and are pushing relationships and promoting ourselves in good ways. Drop three – I am continuing to trust in God’s promise of provision. This is a huge area of struggle for me – maybe this drop of color would be darker, black or grey, or something not so glamorous because trusting God is hard work. I don’t like spending money, and I don’t like asking for help, and I don’t like admitting imperfection or mess – but here I am doing all of those things as I walk towards this next chapter of my life. So, I imagine that all of those swirling things are in the process of creating some beauty – a unique pattern that reflects this time in my life.

In the meantime, as I reflected back about this week, nothing stood out to me as extremely beautiful. However, there were a few ordinary moments that I am thankful for. Here are my little luxuries of the week:

1) Gumballs

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I have a mason jar filled with gum balls on my desk. These little sugary bursts of color bring a lot to the interactions I have during my day. First of all, I love the way they look in that small little mason jar. Their presence is comforting aesthetically; the way those colors interact with each other bring some fun to my workspace. Too, when people come to my desk I offer one up to share – it’s a conversation starter, a reason to smile, and a little breather for those who I work with. Because let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love gum balls?

2) The Mountains

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Again, I am a Colorado girl, so forgive the gushing mountain comments – but can you please appreciate that view?? It is really an amazing privilege that I can drive two hours and sit on a little chair and be at the top of a mountain with two pieces of wood strapped to my feet. It was a windy day, but I was in awe by the view at the top of A-Basin where you can see all three ski resorts in the area, and really felt “On Top of The World” – even if it was just for a minute.

3) Comforting Quotes

I surround myself with phrases and quotes and inspirational sayings. These were a few I came across this week that made me feel more grounded, and reminded myself that I am my own biggest critic.

  • “Always remember YOU are NOT what you DO, you are YOU….”
  • “The option to leap into the unknown is always present. We are never at a lack of options. It is courage we sometimes lack…. It is a battle cry before I ride into the siege of possibility, the storm of uncertainty and the dark night of transformation. I write knowing that on the other side, beyond the struggle and the stomach churning fear is everything that every one of us has been waiting for–miraculous Truth, peace, contentment, freedom. Who wants to ride with me?”  – Katrina Nilsson – Gorman
  • Matthew 6:34 – my daily mantra because I’m a pretty good worrier.
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What would the drops be that contribute to your swirling beautiful marble painting this week? What little luxuries crossed your path?

You Can’t Count That

Have you noticed how goal oriented we are as a society? Or maybe I should ask, as my friends, have you noticed how goal oriented I am? I get so excited about checking things off my list, about saying whew… that project is done, or I’ve finally accomplished that! I have, for YEARS, been trying to read 20,000 pages in one year – a new years resolution that has rolled over for the 7th year now. (Two years ago I got close with 18,500 pages- last year was a dismal attempt at 7,500 pages). I love a good grading rubric (Thank you IB Program), my “FitBit @fitbit” that counts my daily steps, and anything else that helps me to quantify the things I am doing in my life.  It feels good and secure to check things off and say to who ever “they” are – ha! see I did it! Aren’t you going to applaud? Sometimes “they” do, and sometimes, “they” don’t.

But I have been thinking so much about how as I enter my mid twenties it is becoming more difficult for me to quantify my success. I suppose I know the right things to do that I’m not and it’s driving me crazy- the applying to grad school, the “career track”, the happy wedding planning, the saving to buy a house. I know, some day, I will accomplish all that but I am afraid I may look back and the applause won’t be there. I’m pretty sure when those things are under my belt I may feel a significant tug for ok, what now! I even feel that way about this project – how many ‘likes’ am I getting, and why is no one new following me! Am I performing too much for the invisible “they?”

Dylan and I often talk about how we measure success, and what it means to be living a happy life. Isn’t it rather ironic how difficult it is to put a number on such a thing? Sociologists, psychologists, researchers – they dedicate years of their lives to try and put a number on such an illusive concept. Success – what does that mean for me? Especially now when I’m not getting a grade, or a daily pat on the back from someone other than myself, or finishing a program and filling out an evaluation or a really wonderful rubric. I guess that’s what it boils down to – what does it mean to me? Well, I am not quite sure most days, but I am working on stepping away from the counting, the calculating, the trying to find an answer, and that standing on top of the mountain moment where I turn around and expect applause. I want my applause to come from my heart more than from others on a daily basis. This is a huge shift in attitude for me. Can you help keep me on track – because let’s be honest, the atta’ girls from society’s expectations feel so good. They make me feel on track, not off center. Other’s approval makes me feel secure. That’s ridiculous.

Maybe being ‘successful’ is more about bending in the wind, the side steps, and the ability to adapt to the world around me and the changes moving within me. Within ME.  Does anyone else ever wonder how hard it is to be an individual in such an individualist culture that is pulling us to all be the same thing? Yuck. I don’t want to be the same.

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This weekend we had the privilege of spending some time in Breckenridge at Dylan’s uncle’s cabin. It was a beautiful breather where I got to go skiing, and try snowshoeing for the first time, and sleep in, and watch the sun come up over Mount Quandry while drinking too many cups of coffee. So this week, I am thankful for the beauty that the mountains offer and for quiet at night. Do you know how quiet it gets at night when its just the stars and the beautiful whisper of the pines in the wind?

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I am thankful that I live in a destination state where people come from hundreds of miles to see. I am thankful for the beauty of a relationship where I can spend a weekend with a guy I love, whom I’ve spent six  years learning about, and learning with, and loving, and laughing. And I’m thankful that I can keep climbing mountains, when I’m not sure what’s behind that next bend. I am thankful for the beauty in knowing that I can work on expecting less applause at the top, but rather change my focus to appreciating where I’m at on the trail.  And I am finding beauty in the things that I am doing – the working for a non-profit, this project, the learning to love my parents as adults and friends, and the finding my way in the world – one day at a time, with patience and grace and a little bit of applause within my own heart.