02 November 2017

Half Dome

One of the goals that my husband had in Yosemite was to hike Half Dome--because it's so iconic and the hike is so unique. There are a limited number of permits given for the hike everyday. We were lucky enough to acquire one with our wilderness permit.

Half Dome

I knew it was going to be a difficult one for me. See, the thing is...I'm afraid of heights. I know we climb high mountains and to the edges of waterfalls all the time. I just pretend to be brave and it always seems to work out. I was nervous. I knew there was going to be a portion where it was very exposed and there were cables for hikers to hold on to. 

The day before we hiked Half Dome, we summitted another mountain called "Cloud's Rest." It was a bit exposed but nothing technical. When we saw half dome in the distance, I started panicking a little thinking "I can't do that!"

From Cloud's Rest
I asked Mr B if he thought I could do it. His response surprised me. He said "Physically, of course! You are definitely in good enough shape to do it. Your issue is can you face it mentally?"

That snapped me into reality--my fear was the only thing holding me back. I don't have control over many things in life, but one thing I could control was putting one foot in front of the other up that mountain. For the rest of the day I said out loud to myself "You can do it. You are going to do it. You can do it."

Then it was time to face my fear. And it was scary. And I was so afraid. In fact, when I looked up at the cables I thought, "This is so much worse than I was imagining."

Those little specs? Those are people
Up they go and disappear into oblivion

I was not about to let the mountain defeat me...so up I went. I had barely started going up before I started panicking. It was difficult. The cables running up the backside are a bit over 600 feet long. There are 68 pole sets from bottom to top. The poles are set in about 5 inch deep holes and have 2 x 4” boards spanning the width at 10 foot intervals. For over two football fields, I pulled myself up up up.

I still don't know if it was scarier looking behind me or looking up ahead of me/

Looking behind

Looking ahead
Of course, Mr B was there the whole time, encouraging, calming, and taking pictures (because there was NO way I was going to be able to).

Look at that drop off behind me!
It was terrifying. And going down was even worse. But I did it. What a surge of adrenaline to complete it. I sure did a happy dance at the top!

I am still scared of heights. I was scared the whole time I was on the cables. Contemplating climbing it again still makes me feel queasy. I did not get over my fear. But here is the thing, I did not let it hold me back. I am so glad for that.

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” —Henry Ford

It was so empowering to realize that even though I was afraid, I had CONTROL over myself. My emotions and brain were going haywire, but I still could tell my foot to climb one more step, one more step, one more step.

Here's to facing our fears.

This is where we ended up

08 May 2017


This weekend, Mr B and I went on our first camping adventure of the year. It was a very last minute decision--when we saw that they weather would be great and realized we wouldn't have another free weekend to camp until June. We got off work at 4pm. By 5pm we were packed and in the car. By 6:30p we were setting up camp.

Normally we don't car camp--we are more the type to hike out to the middle of backcountry-nowhere. But for such a quick and last minute trip our goal was to get out into nature, find a peaceful spot, build a fire and breath some fresh air. However, even car camping doesn't send us to a designated campground (I'm perfectly comfortable peeing behind a tree if it means being away from other people). We just went out to National Forest Land and looked for a good place to set up camp.

Our first choice of campsite I rejected on the grounds of giant flying ants (nope. nope. all the nopes). We found an acceptable space a couple miles up the road. It was just a hop skip and a jump off the forest service road. There were bunches of pine trees and clumps of aspen trees, with large amounts of flat open space easy to set up a tent, campfire and have a great view.

We could tell that we weren't the first to camp there because there was already a ring of rocks for a fire and there was a notice nailed to a tree about bear safety. After all of the backcountry miles (and miles and miles) we've done, we definitely know how to camp bear safe...and this time we wouldn't even have to string up our food because we could just leave it in the car.

Our dinner was delicious and easy--roasted hot dogs. For dessert we made woof'ems stuffed with nutella and berries. We sat around the campfire and reminisced about camping as kids and some of the camping adventures that we have had together. The weather was gorgeous. We listened to the forest sounds and especially all the birds we could hear. We saw swans fly over and could hear geese, ducks and cranes. We talked about how we hoped we would see some in the morning as we headed out since we mostly likely wouldn't see any other big animals at that campsite (not like when we have had white tailed deer walk right through our campsite in Glacier National Park! or the Elk when we were in Banff!)

We had the luxury of a large and spacious tent (since we didn't have to pack it anywhere). The frogs sang us to sleep. Then we woke up a million times because we didn't pack our really nice down mummy bags, thinking it would be fun to take the old flannel and fabric ones that zip together, and we froze. :)

In the morning, it was all about a fire to get us warm and a serious breakfast. Normally, on camping trips, we just do a cup of instant oatmeal for breakfast because we are packing and only have the ability to boil water. Plus, we are usually in a hurry to break camp and hit the trail. But Saturday our only plan was to eat breakfast and then head back to "real life" so we were in NO hurry. And we had the camp stove plus a dutch oven. So I had planned a full on, completely loaded, unhealthy and utterly delicious breakfast hash. As I fried up the bacon, onion and sausage, we noted that camping had never smelled so good before! Once the hash was completely done up and cheesed out, I said "Man, if I were a bear, this is what I would want for breakfast!"

As if it couldn't get any better, we decided to make a woof'em and stuff it with the hash. Yes, please! Out came the dough and the berries. Just as I was rolling some dough to start cooking, Mr B says (with shock in his voice) "Oh my gosh! It's a bear!" I looked up and didn't even have to look around or say "where?" because it was Right. There. Out in the open. Walking toward our campsite. Less than 100 yards away.

A grizzly bear. A HUGE live, grizzly bear.

I didn't pee myself.

But my heart did stop. And all the bear safety left my mind and all I could say was "what do we do???"

Mr B stayed calm and told me we needed to get to the car---he had left the bear spray in the tent. That's when I realized we were going to have to go TOWARD the bear to get to the car. But I trusted him, so we moved cautiously but determinedly to the car. When we got to the car, the bear was only about 30 yards away from the other side of the car. When I opened the car door, the bear looked at me. Looked right at me.

I still didn't pee myself. Surprisingly.

But man, I got a shot of adrenaline so large that my hands were shaking for a good 30 minutes after.

The bear kept on walking by. After a minute Mr B shoved the phone in my hands (I was in the front seat and the bear was walking away in front of the vehicle) and said "video it!" The video was pitiful. My hands were shaking and we were talking with all the terror in our voices and the bear was already a good distance away at this point. But here is a still from the video.

He just walked away. Never checked out our fire or breakfast or us (thank heaven!) more closely.

After all the miles that we walk in bear country, far far away from civilization and we have a grizzly wander through our camp when we are CAR camping.

I'm very glad we got to see such a majestic creature. And I am totally content NEVER seeing one in the wild that close again.

24 February 2017

Memories of Warmer Days

It's blizzarding outside. This has me reminiscing about the summer and as I was flipping through pictures, I landed on our wedding. I realized I haven't shared any reception pictures on here. Today is as good as any to share.

When Mr B and I started planning our wedding, we decided we wanted a "garden party" feel. My sisters and I got on Pinterest and starting pinning away. Amazingly enough, when I look through my reception pictures, it's like looking through my Pinterest page. I thought it would be fun to show you my inspiration, and how our version looked.

From Pinterest:

OUR Version
We did everything ourselves (with the help of family, of course). Mr B and I grew all of the succulents ourselves! We propagated them from plants that were growing in my backyard and then grew them for the couple months before our wedding. We spray painted and decorated the centerpieces, as well as arranging the succulents and flowers. I spent hours on the backdrop and Mr B's mom and aunts helped make the bunting. Mr B engineered and put together the posts to hang everything. My little sis was the general director. My mom put together the food tables and my older sister created the gorgeous labels on the sign in table and food tables. Mr B's sister designed our sign in book and helped pull last minute details together.

 We have asked ourselves "Looking back, what would we have done differently?" and both of us come up with the same answer every time. "Nothing."

09 February 2017

You're not a mess....You are brave for trying

This is a slight brain dump. But I have had these thoughts ping ponging around me since the beginning of the year and it's time to spew them out, even if it is word vomit.

People ask me all the time how I'm doing. Sometimes it's a stranger/acquaintance in passing or to be polite. Sometimes it's a coworker or friend that does care, but doesn't really want to get into anything in depth. Once in a while it's a family member or old friend who really wants to know. When it's more than a passing "hey, how are you?" I have always struggled with knowing how to share or how much to share.

Because, really, I am fine...I think. And I am happy...mostly. And things are great...almost. 

When I came across this quote by Joan Bauer, I related to it way more than I wanted to:

"Almost. It's a big word for me. I feel it everywhere. Almost home. Almost happy. Almost changed. Almost, but not quite. Not yet. Soon, maybe. I'm hoping for that."

THIS IS TRUE FOR ME! How sad is that? It's horrible! I have an amazing husband, but I'm still "almost happy." We own an amazing town-home and I'm all moved in but I still feel like I'm "almost home." It's not my circumstances keeping me from being happy or feeling like I'm not home. 

It's ME. I want to be better or at least striving to be better. I want to be growing and improving. But I'm not. I'm "almost changed" into that better person I want to be, but not quite. And I haven't been trying to get there either!

I don't want to be almost...I want to be THERE! But apparently, I didn't want it bad enough for a long while-- because even though I have had thoughts about goals lurking in my brain, I haven't done anything about them. WHY??

Well, I think it's because I am afraid to fail. Because I feel like I'm just a mess. Part of me worries that I will attempt to change and attempt to improve and not attain my goal and then I will feel worse off. Like I'm still "almost" and this time it will just be because I'm "not enough."

It's time for action. No more letting fear hold me back. I came across two things that pushed me to move forward. This:

And This:

So I decided to step forward, to go after what I want, to CHANGE SOMETHING. I sat down and started writing down where I want to be and brainstorming the goals that will get me there. It's still in diagram form, but over the next few days, they will turn into S.M.A.R.T. goals--steps building me up to where and who I want to be.

I might feel like a mess along the way, but I'm not a mess. I'm brave for trying. 

Will I fail? Probably in many ways. And if that happens, I will get up and try again. Either way, I will be better off than I am right now. Enough with "almost." It's time to "Be."

Credit to my dear friend Laural for this one

02 February 2017

In the bleak mid-winter

Today is the exact middle of winter--half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

Winter is a harder season for me because of the following:
1- Since I work transportation, winter brings massive amount of people moving during the holidays. It's also when all of my employees want time off. So in the busiest time of the year, I am working with the least amount of support.
2- With the snow comes bad roads. With bad roads come delayed buses. Also stressful at work.
3- I can't run outside in the winter. Which puts me in circles on the track.
4- Mr B and I can't camp or hike mountains this time of year.
5- I don't get my fix of vitamin D.

My list of what's "killing me" right now could go on and on. This winter has been the hardest one I have lived through in a long time.

But I will instead take inspiration from my favorite blogger and focus on the list of what is saving me right now. These are the little things that keep me going through the cold days.

What is saving me right now:
1- My Erin Condren Lifeplanner. Maybe it shows the geekiness in me, but the bright happy colors, my name on the front, fun stickers and even a meal planner dashboard get me super excited. I take it with me wherever I go. I write everything down. I check things off. I actually remember birthdays. I love it.

2- Trying new recipes with Mr B. I love my "Our Best Bites" cookbooks and have used them for quite a few years. But, like most people, I go back to the recipes that I love over and over. Mr B and I decided to go through them and make a list of the ones we wanted to try. Every week we've been making a new-to-us meal together. It makes meal planning and prepping much more fun. Especially because we are doing it together. And the food is delicious.

3- Winterish Essential Oils. I have been diffusing pine, sandalwood, fir, cinnamon, grapefruit, clove, vanilla, peppermint, orange and all sorts of combinations of these scents throughout my house. It helps me appreciate those winter smells.

4- Books. Books always save me. I read constantly. But especially in the winter, curling up with a good books makes me feel better about not being outside. And lately Mr B has picked up a series (Harry Potter...again) that he can't put down. This had led to some lovely evenings curled up together with tea, cookies, blankets and books.

5- Cross Country Skiing. We have tried to go at least every other week. It gets us outside and moving. We can work up a sweat in negative 0 degree weather. It makes me appreciate the snow. It helps me soak in the little sun we have had. And we have seen some beautiful landscapes and fun animals on our adventures. We head out again on Saturday.

6- Deleting Instagram from my phone. I still have an instagram account...but when I have to access it from a computer, I am on it A LOT less. I already knew that social media was hard for me. That's why I don't have Facebook and was off of insta for over a year. I realized in the last 6 months of using it again that I was getting sucked down into comparison and time wasting. Not mindlessly checking it all the time helps.

7- Fresh Citrus. We have kept our fridge stocked with oranges and grapefruits while they are in season and on sale and tasting amazing. A grapefruit a day keeps the grouchiness away.

8- Cuddling. One of my two top "love languages" is touch (unusual for a girl, but true for me). We've discovered that I am much happier in the morning if before anything else, I get a little cuddle. So we set the alarm 10 mins before we have to get up and I get at least one blissful "snooze rotation" to curl up with Mr B before attacking the day.

9- "Do Not Disturb" on my phone. After the insanity that was my holiday season (in which I was working graveyard shifts and then taking calls all day long) I was completely burnt out with work. I had been on call 24/7 for 6 years and haven't had a Christmas in 9 years where I didn't have to deal with a work issue. After a conversation with my boss (that I honestly was going to result in me job searching) he actually agreed to pull me off call! Now, for the fist time in 6 years, I can ignore my phone. I find myself delighting in putting my phone on "Do Not Disturb" during movies, concerts, ski trips, date night, when I take a bubble bath, or when I go to bed.

10- My conure. I've always loved my bird. But lately I have found her to be so delightful. Maybe it's because Mr B has never lived with a bird before, so I'm watching him see all of her eccentricities and remember the joy of when I discovered them the first time.

30 December 2016

My 2016 Letter: With a few updates and way more pictures

This year: I read 55 books. I took 8 business trips to St George. I ran my fourth, fifth and sixth marathons.

I started obsessively using essential oils. I spent massive amounts of time FaceTiming with my long distance family.

I did a meditation exercise for 38 days in a row before missing a day (it was a 40 day challenge and I decided not to restart it). I went to Canada for the first time.

I started using Instagram again. I became the Regional Manager for the customer service centers at work. I celebrated my bird's 8th hatch day.

I expanded my reservation center and subsequently moved into a new office. I saw fireflies for the first time. I applied for a new job and cried when it didn’t work out.  I went to an Ingrid Michaelson concert with my dad.

I ran through 8 miles of sand in the middle of a marathon.

I hired and trained 40 employees (more than double the amount I trained last year). I did work in the St George, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Rexburg temples. I ran over 1,000 miles.

I ate massive amounts of tacos. I saw a couple of my closest friends have babies. I ran a marathon 20 days before getting married (that may have been a mistake).

I didn’t slip on the ice once. I explored Mt Vernon in Virginia. I geeked out over the Summer Olympics. I attended my 9th Salt Lake Express Christmas party. I ran 1,256 laps on the indoor track--which is equivalent to around 220 miles (which is from Rexburg all the way to Salt Lake City!)

I competed in a trail relay race, in which I ran up a mountain in the Tetons.

I opened and staffed a new call center in St George.

The biggest thing this year? “I” became part of a “we.”

WE got married.
We got the worse case of food poisoning ever. We swam at Lava Hot Springs. We got called to be Gospel Doctrine teachers. We hiked along a portion of the Appalachian trail. We got handed medals from Storm Troopers at the end of one of our half marathons.

We voted. We traveled through 16 states. We ate two pounds of blueberries in two days that we picked ourselves in New Hampshire.

We counted glaciers through both Jasper and Banff National Parks in Canada. We made peach and apple fruit leather.
We hiked Angel’s landing in Zion National Park. 

We went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in Boston. 

We saw a great production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Peter and the Starcatchers.” We went covered bridge hunting in Amish country in Lancaster County, PA. We soaked in hot springs at the base of a waterfall. 

We dealt with car problems in the middle of nowhere Southern Utah. We went snowmobiling through Yellowstone National Park in the winter.

We made and canned pickles, pickled beets, chokecherry syrup, strawberry jam, peach jam, and chokecherry jelly.

We hiked around the turquoise waters of Lake Louise in Canada.

e bought maple syrup from a sugar house in Vermont. We hiked Table Mountain in the Tetons.

We did either a major hike or a race every Saturday for 7 weeks in a row in the summer. 

We cut down our own Christmas tree.

We ran a race through Monument Valley, Arizona in the middle of the Navajo Nation.

We didn’t dress up for Halloween. We read Shel Silverstein and A. A. Milne together. 
We canoed down Big Springs with our niece and nephew.

We explored the National Mall in Washington DC.

We went waterfall chasing in Yellowstone.

We watched the sunset on Cape Cod.
We did a two night, three day backpacking trip through Glacier National Park (in which we dealt with mud, snow, rain, wind, cold and the stomach flu and still made it over the mountain).
We got two flat tires. We ate Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. We went cross country skiing.

Behind all of the adventuring, the backside is good too. It’s not as exciting and it’s not as scenic. Instead of stellar views, there are peaceful evenings reading. There are mountains of laundry and dishes in place of real peaks to scale. Instead of sore muscles, there are the bruises of combining the lives of two very stubborn and very different people. But the payoff of a happy home exceeds that of even the most gorgeous waterfall--even if it takes just as much or more effort to get there.

I consider us insanely blessed on so many levels. We are blessed to have good, steady jobs, we have a lovely home, we have good health and the chance to serve in our ward. Most of all, we are blessed in our relationship. I am blessed to have a strong, selfless, pure, gentle and good husband. Of all the stunningly beautiful sites throughout this past year, our favorite is seeing the start of our own little family of two.

Aaron Jennifer Wedding-Wedding-0089.jpg
“That’s the most beautiful thing in the world: when two people become fluent in choosing one another.” - Hannah Brencher