28 October 2015

Little Things

In the last few weeks:

*i woke up in the morning to a roomful of clean, cold, rain drenched air. It smelled like leaves and coming icicles and Autumn.

*While driving through rolling farmland, the fluffy white clouds in the sky left beautiful patterns of shadows all across the fields.

*A little sparrow sat on the outside windowsill of my kitchen window. It was sleeping in the sunlight, all fluffed up on the warm bricks.

*The trees lining my work parking lot changed from vivid green to a brilliant yellow. The leaves started changing at the very top of the tree and have progressively worked their way down.

*A tiny spider crawled across my porch railing, laid down a thin thread and then let go from the railing. i watched it drift away from the porch, catching a breeze i couldn't sense, with its glistening gossamer thread trailing behind it.

Magical. i love this world. i love this season.

"The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
-W.B. Yeats

15 October 2015

A letter

Letter to Myself
Please deliver Sunday July 29, 2012
At Sunset

Dear Self,

Right at this moment you are sitting on your raised garden beds, up on the hillside, looking down at the home you thought that you would be in for a long time, where your husband, that you thought you would be with for eternity, is probably still pacing around the living room. Your life has just imploded.

Divorce. Divorce. Divorce. The word burns your tongue like acid. How could he really have just asked for a divorce?

You don’t know how you could feel so angry and numb and sad and confused and bitter and scared and and and...all at once. You want to scream. You want to curl up in a ball and cry. You want to drive away. You want to disappear. You want to throw up. You want to die. You want to be with your family. You want to be all alone. You hate him. You love him so badly you can’t imagine how you are going to live without him. You don’t know where to go or what to do.

Somehow, in the midst of all this, you realize that you are even heartbroken knowing that you will leave these garden beds before you can harvest the vegetables. Such a little thing in comparison to your crumbling marriage, and yet.... It all seems equally overwhelming and devastating. So many feelings and details and worries and fears. You don't even know how to start processing.

I want you to know that whatever you are feeling--it is ok. You don’t have to be ashamed about wanting to crawl into the spare bed with him. You don’t need to muffle your sobs in your pillows. If you need to yell at God, He will understand. Let yourself spend three days numbing out with ice cream and crying while watching every season of Say Yes to the Dress. And it is alright to take pleasure in smashing the computer with a baseball bat.

I know that you wonder why you went through the last seven months of hell--not telling anyone about how much you were hurting, giving every particle of your being trying to make your marriage work, begging and pleading with God and with your husband for a chance at happiness--if it was all just going to shatter anyway. You feel like you have hit rock bottom.

It’s going to get harder, my friend.

The trauma will come back and kick you over and over. The shame will attack and tell you that it was all your fault. You will feel worthless. You will regret things that you said and did. You will feel like you deserved the way he treated you. Many nights will see you lying in bed, shaking with fear, shame, pain, loneliness and despair. When sleep finds you, the nightmares will attack. You will think that if you had been sexier, funnier, skinnier, happier, better---just MORE--you could have made it work. The question “Is it always going to be like this? It get’s easier, right?” will flash across your mind almost every hour.

It is not your fault. Nothing you could have done would have made any difference. It WILL get easier. But it’s up to you to find happiness again. So buckle up, sister.

Be kind to yourself and know that it will take time. But, it is also going to take work--so much work. Inside yourself is a strength that you could never before imagine. Tap into it. Embrace it. Let its fire flow through you. This strength will propel you forward to grow and improve. You can do this.

However, you can’t do this alone. Let your strength bring you to the One who can truly heal. Trust in Him. Let go and let God. You will find that as you focus your life on the Savior, you will stop surviving and start living again.

One day, you will hear yourself laugh and realize that you are genuinely happy in that moment. There is the evening you will discover that you haven’t thought of your divorce all day. And then all week. And then all month. And then he-who-you-thought-you-would-die-without will become just somebody that you used to know.

You will find love. Friends and family will rally around you. People will be placed in your path to help guide you through your recovery. Your Heavenly Father’s arms will surround you. Hatred, hurt and bitterness will be replaced with forgiveness, charity and peace.

Someday, you will look back and you will see yourself just as you are right now--right in the thick of drowning, full of pain and confusion and fear. You will think “Is that me? Was that MY life?” and all of the feelings will be there in your memory--but they will be worn down by time and forgiveness and healing. You will look back at yourself with an understanding for that girl and you will hurt for the pain that she had right then. And you will wish so badly that you could give her a hug and whisper, “Oh, Jennifer! It’s ok! I promise. Everything will be ok.”

I know it will be ok because I am here--your future self in your future life. And it is ok here. It is MORE than ok. This is my hug and my whisper to you. I promise. You are so disconnected from what you once were. You rose from the ashes of your life. You are braver, stronger, fiercer. You are softer, calmer, and smarter. You radiate light. Somehow, you will find that your life is beautiful. You will have serenity.

Hang in there. You are enough.


13 October 2015

Defining "Good"

One of my favorite bloggers posted today with the title 'Defining Good.' Her post is neither here nor there with mine...except for the title.

When i saw those two words, i thought of all the times a day that i am asked "How are you?" and the automatic reply is "i'm fine" or "i'm good." But how i am is so much deeper than "good." In different times in my life, that "good" has meant:

*i'm barely hanging on
*i'm exhausted
*i'm a nervous wreck
*i'm so excited i can barely contain myself
*i'm struggling
*i'm loving life
*i'm overwhelmed
*i'm content

i thought that today i would define what "good" for me is right now. It's October. It's one of my favorite times of the year. This is how i am doing:

*i'm mourning the end of summer. Usually all i do is revel in the Autumn. And i do still love it (more on that to come) but this summer has been absolutely golden. The reality of it ending is hitting hard. On our way home from southern Utah, we drove up to a National Monument called "Cedar Breaks."

When i mentioned that it reminded me of Bryce Canyon, Mr B told me that he had never been there! i knew he would love it and we started talking about taking a trip to see it. Then we both realized that the holidays were almost upon us and then it would be snowy winter. Even at the beginning of early October, i found myself freezing as we visited that over look.

That sun in the distance! ::gorgeous::
Although i'm sure we will have plenty of amazing winter adventures together (especially since Mr B cross country skies!!) i am truly sad to have the summer end.

* That being said, i am honestly enjoying my October. i love when the trees change colors and have been leaf collecting.

Ian was up visiting this weekend and we spent Saturday morning picking apples (Sidenote: for a couple of weeks Mr B and i have been drying apples and making juice and applesauce). Saturday afternoon i got to sit on the bank of the river and watch Ian and Mr B fly fishing.

Mr B's mad fishing skills
Then we huddled by a fire while roasting dinner and dessert under a sky full of stars. Sunday morning, we enjoyed a breakfast of warm applesauce and hot chocolate, still bundled up in slippers and pjs while the cold Autumn air blew in through all of the open windows. i really do love this season.

* i'm not running very much. This is slightly discouraging since i love the fall weather and know that all too soon i will be confined to an indoor track. Ever since my last half marathon, i have had a pretty major pain in my right leg. i only ran about 20 miles total between that half and the St George marathon. And i honestly didn't even know the night before if i should run in the full. Since then i haven't run again (i know...it's only been just over a week, but it seems like an eternity for me). i don't know if i am struggling with shin splints, a stress fracture or just over exertion. Either way, it's a nagging worry in the back of my mind (and pain in my leg!) that won't go away. And i miss the therapy that running provides for me.

* i'm working very hard on my spiritual development and with my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. i was able to attend a session of the General Conference of my church for the first time ever. It's broadcast across the world every 6 months, but this time i was able to go to Salt Lake City and sit among the lucky 22,000 members who were in the conference center at Temple Square.

Nosebleed, but that's ok!
There were so many talks that stuck out to me (thank you President Nelson for encouraging STRONG women who aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe). Along with my older sister, and now Mr B as well, i have taken the challenge suggested in conference to ponder a different scripture each week--to put it in a visible place, read it, memorize it and talk about it for the duration of the week. i have stuck the scripture to my computer at work, my mirror and home and made it the homescreen on my phone. It's only been 2 weeks and i already feel my spirit being strengthened for having a continual focus on the things of God.

* i am getting ready for Halloween! My house is all decorated, the Edward Scissorhand soundtrack is playing on Spotify, Mr B is growing a mustache for costume purposes and we did some pumpkin carving.

 * i am processing through anxiety about the future. Developing a relationship with Mr B is very vulnerable. As our lives get ever more intertwined, i have to face my shame messages, my trauma and my fears. (What if we don't work out? i'm probably not good enough for him. What if he hurts me like i have been hurt so many times in the past?)

It is requiring me to constantly reground myself. My deep truths are on repeat to replace the faulty core beliefs. My mantras include-- i AM enough. My happiness does not depend on Mr B or anyone else. My self worth does not depend on my relationship status.

i am working toward mindfulness. Every day i focus on leaning into the uncomfortable, embracing the joy of the moment and finding gratitude in the connection that comes from vulnerability.

It's thrilling and scary and exciting and nerve wracking and comfortable and uncomfortable and all sorts of delicious to be with him.

 So how am i?

i'm good! Really and truly good.

12 October 2015


On our way to Southern Utah last weekend, my girlfriend shared a meme with me that asked: "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" and then said "I don't know. Is there a medal and finisher shirt?"

We laughed for a long time over it because that is pretty much what happened with her. i straight up talked her into running the St George Marathon with me. Since entry for the race is a lottery system, when we signed up back in April i convinced her by saying, "We don't even know if we will get in!" And then we did and she was committed!

A year ago, she didn't think that she could ever run more than 6 miles. Impossible, she told me. i told her that she was wrong and if she started training she could run much much further. We trained together all through last winter and by the end of the summer she was doing runs as long as mine.

i was so excited to have her experience the same pain and joy that i had in my marathons. We decided to run the thing together.

The St George Marathon is a pretty big one. They cap it off at 7,800 marathoners. There is no half or 10k that same weekend. It is rated by Runner's World as one of the four "Marathons to Build a Vacation Around" in the World. It is included in Runner's World 10 Most Scenic Marathons and Top 20 Marathons in the USA.

At the start line there were massive bonfires to keep all the runners warm.

Since there are so many people, the roads are completely closed for the runners. There were certain places along the course for supporters to cheer us on. Our boyfriends were able to see us at mile 7, mile 17 and the finish line.

Mr B said that the St George Marathon looked like Skittles on a slide---hundreds of brightly colored dots slowly and steadily winding down the roads.

We sure wound by some GORGEOUS places!

Although there weren't a ton of places for people to support, the aid stations were amazing and there were loads of signs that people had placed along the course. Since Mr B is growing out his mustache (for Halloween purposes) i had to take a picture of this sign:

I'd love to walk but I "mustache" to the finish line

We were lucky to have cloud cover through the last 10 miles of the race which made the 70 degree weather much more bearable for us Idaho ladies. It was a physical and mental battle as it always is. 

i'm so glad that i could be there for my friend and that she could be there for me. Crossing the finish line is an overwhelming feeling. Crossing it with someone that i love? Inexplicable. i am so proud of her for achieving her "impossible."

We made it!
(Wouldn't have made it without the KT tape!)
At the finish line both of my parents were there waiting to see us cross, along with our boyfriends. i am consistently blown away by the support of my family and friends who drive such long distances and sit around for 4 and a half hours in order to be there for me as i finish my races.

So good to see them at the end
 This was my last full marathon of the year. i am equal parts relieved and sad to see the season winding down. My body is tired. Actually, let's face it, my legs are completely trashed. But i am so grateful to them for getting me through so much.

09 October 2015

Yellowstone--a Driving Tour

While Mr B and i had done so much hiking in Yellowstone National Park and seen things that most of the thousands of people who pass through the park every year never see, we also recognized that there are some amazing sights right on the figure 8 road that loops through the park.

So on the last weekend of September we loaded up my mini with snacks and sandwiches, found the Sirius XM channels that would broadcast the BYU Football game in the morning and the LDS women's conference in the evening, grabbed a map of the park and took off.

Since both of us had done Old Faithful and the geyser basins in that area quite often, we focused mostly on the upper loop. i had a notepad ready to record all animal sightings.We went in the west entrance (through West Yellowstone) and headed north. We stopped at (you guessed it) the first waterfall that we drove past. We wandered the Norris Geyser Basin, stopping at the museum and to read up all about geysers, mud pots, springs and fumaroles.

Next was wandering around Mammoth Hot Springs. We were fascinated at all the little details.

After Mammoth, we cut across the top of the park (stopping at Undine Falls to eat lunch), visited Tower Falls and drove up into the Lamar Valley toward the NE entrance to the park.

Undine Falls
Mr B had never stopped at my favorite geothermal area, the Mud Volcano area, so we spent a large chunk of time there. i love the mud pots, the churning springs and the lakes that are as acidic as battery acid. Plus, Dragon's Mouth Spring never disappoints me.

The wildlife was wonderful throughout the entire trip. We spotted elk, antelope, deer and, of course, plenty of bison.

Pretty much as big as my car
Both of us wanted to spend some time at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Although we didn't take the staircase down to the bottom of the waterfalls, we enjoyed the Lower Falls from a spectacular look out point.
Mr B admiring the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone
Lower Falls
Oh those colors!
The background looks fake to me...but we were really there!
The last place on our list to spend some time was at Yellowstone Lake. Both of us had driven by it before, but neither of us had ever gone down to water's edge. Without advance planning, we ended up at the lake at exactly the perfect time. We were hungry and ready for dinner and decided to picnic at Sandy point, on the west side of the lake. Although the name should have clued us in, we had no idea that there was a gorgeous black sandy beach!

The best part is that there was ABSOLUTELY NO ONE else there. We couldn't believe that there in Yellowstone Park in September, right off of the Grand Loop Road, we found this heavenly place all to ourselves.

 We plopped down and enjoyed our picnic. Then it got even better! The sun started to set and the colors were pale and cotton candy like. And to top it all off, the full moon had risen and was reflecting across the glassy lake. Incoming picture explosion (because i just couldn't decide which was my favorite).

It was breathtaking. To the point that i got goosebumps all over. 

Standing there, with Mr B's arms around me, basking in the glorious earth on which we live, i felt the tears fall down my cheeks. i was overcome with gratitude--for Yellowstone, for where i live, for this world, for the chance that i had to share that moment with Mr B, for the love of my Heavenly Father.

Thank you, Yellowstone National Park, for an unbelievable summer.

06 October 2015

A Reminder

Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem.
Our divine nature comes from God. It was established in an existence that preceded our birth and will continue on into eternity.

-Rosemary M. Wixom
LDS Primary General President

Picture taken by me at Lake Yellowstone right after listening to this talk