Preserving Slow, Simple, Good, and True


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I have always been a nostalgic person. I am drawn to all things that preserve that which is simple, good, slow, and true.

This is why we built a farmhouse with shiplap, barn doors and rough sawn floors. It’s why I framed all the black and white photos of ancestors I’ve never met before, and the reason I begged my Grandpa to let us buy the last 5 acres he had left.

I am determined to restore that which is inclined to deteriorate.

Last year we built our house at the foot of the driveway of my Grandparent’s farmhouse. The porch swing where I used to sit on my Grandparent’s lap is now framed by the window above my sink. When I drink coffee on my back deck, my eyes gaze toward the rolling hill that slides toward the pond where I used to scoop up frog eggs and put them in a fish tank in my bedroom. Sometimes I wake up to the purr of my Grandpa’s tractor and I can hear the faint songs of their wind chimes and it reminds me that even though time keeps moving, good things remain. Every day, my two little boys pull their rain boots up over their pajama pants and head out the door with their disheveled hair. Their legs seem to spin faster than their feet can steady themselves as they yell back at me,  “we’re going to get a cookie from Grama, MOM!”  As I watch their little silhouettes become smaller and smaller up the hill, my heart is full because it is all slow, simple, good, and true.

Sometimes they come right back with a cookie and sometimes they stay awhile. They get settled on the living room floor with their feet kicking behind them and chin in palm, while my Grandma crochets her 476th blanket in her 1970’s rocking chair.

My Grandpa has deep almost-black eyes but they sparkle as if reflecting a treasure chest of jewels hidden deep inside. Ever since I was a little girl, he would look straight into my eyes, into the part that was a little unsure if I was ok. Just as his eyes almost disappeared in his smile he would say, “you are so beautiful inside and out.” It wasn’t the language he used, but it was the love-fueled words that built the most sure footed parts of me.

Sometimes he walks down the hill to my house and knocks unannounced to return a piece of Tupperware or deliver his homemade Tomato soup, the secret is soda water so the milk doesn’t burn, he explains. Hours go by and we’ve covered politics, parenting struggles, stories from his past, and more often than not we end up with tears in our eyes. The unspoken truth is, I am hanging onto the moments as my kids grow and are slipping through my hands just as he is hanging on to the moments as he watches his wife age and as his own life is slipping too.

“I could have been a better husband to Ruth and a better Dad to my kids” he confessed at 12:45am as we were loading the last boat after a long 5 hours at the ER. My Grandma was staying over at the hospital with a severe case of pneumonia. I followed them to the ER behind my Aunt because I knew he would not agree to go unless he had a ride home that night. We were sitting side by side in the waiting room and behind the face mask he said “I cant stay here tonight. I have to get back to take care of my dog.” It was as if he was really asking for some reassurance that he wouldn’t have to stay, I muffled back through my mask, “Grampa, it’s your right to leave. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stay.”

On our way home, I looked at him underneath the bright neon ferry lights, he suddenly looked smaller and aged and not the way I remember him as a child. “You did what you knew how and the best you could with what you had. But…you did better when you knew better because you have been the best Grandpa to me.” I said.

So, today in the same way we know that winter is coming because of the chill in the air and how the light sits different between the trees, I know this time I cannot restore that which is inclined to deteriorate.

I am making an effort to prepare myself to carry forward what they have given me but honestly, I don’t know if I am deserving of the task. Can I be a resting place for the young, the wild and free? Can I allow my roots to stretch wide and deep and be a still tall tree where the unsure little ones shade themselves under my leaves? Can I blow life into underdeveloped lungs convincing them that someday they are capable of breathing without me? Most of all, am I skilled enough to keep all the things preserved when the place they came from… is nowhere to be found?

The truth is, we will all face the day when it is our time to take the torch from the marathoners before us. The transition is like a whisper and it happens slowly but we feel it coming like the quicken of a baby before it’s ready it to be born. The question is, whether it be passing on the stories passed to us, making the Thanksgiving Turkey, or being a safe resting place…what will we pass on that is slow, simple, good and true?


Building a Home


“We have a need for a place that is called home. Home provides security, control, belonging, identity, and privacy, among other things. But most of all, it’s a place that provides us with a centering—a place from which we leave each morning and to which we return each evening.” -Edith Sitwell

My dream to build a home began when Jason and I started dating in 2008. Instead of going out at night we often spent our evenings browsing through house plans. He would remark at the roof lines and the size of the windows while I made sure there was enough space in the dining room to host Thanksgiving dinner. I had the determination and vision, he had the skills and practical eye. It was a perfect match. My dream was to build a home on the same land that I grew up on as a kid. The same land that my memories reside in my mind growing up with my brother Colton. If I could build a home on that land, I could relive those days and keep my brother alive though watching my own kids play here, I thought. It seemed like a lofty dream but I made a firm decision to never let go of it.

To be honest, this has been an overwhelming subject to write about. I’ve been trying to find the words for almost 2 months. I wrote a post asking people the meaning of home to them. Some people had a concise definition while others had heart breaking stories of pain and redemption. I realized I had to break it down into parts and even still, I feel as though I am only skimming the surface and doing the subject little justice. I decided after much contemplation that there are three different seasons of home we experience in our lifetime.

The first season is being raised in our own home. This is the home we are born into, the place that shapes us for good or bad. This is where we are formed in all our vulnerability and unwavering trust. The second season is leaving the home we know to discover who we are despite our roots. Some of us may rebel against everything we have been taught to be true in order to sift through what to keep and what to throw away. In this season, we discover who we are despite and because of our roots. The third season is when that still small voice calls us home again and we decide it is time to create our own home. This is when we collect all the treasures from all the seasons and weave ourselves a unique and meaningful nest. When others visit this nest, if they look carefully enough they should be able to detect layers of all that has formed us. This nest we build represents what we believe in and who we are.

Growing up in my childhood home, my Mom was the ultimate homemaker. She sent me off to school every morning with a homemade mocha, I came home to hot chocolate chip cookies. Our floors were always sparkling. The Chickens laid their organic eggs in their craftsman coupe that my Dad built. At Christmas there were glowing villages settled in fake snow and lit up Christmas trees in every room. In my opinion, my Mom was an expert on turning a house into a home. Now that I am a Mom, I know what it takes to create that type of comfort and sense of belonging for a child. It doesn’t happen accidently. It is created through love and intention. I just lived in the experience without knowing what it actually was that created the feeling. And that is the beauty and the tragedy of the power of home. We grow up thinking that our experience of home is normal, accidental and the way things are, and we absorb it in our naivety no matter if it is good or bad for us.

I moved away from home when I was Eighteen. I couldn’t wait to get off my island where I had to take a ferry to get a decent pair of jeans. I thought it was a horribly boring place where my future was at most, bleak. I wanted to explore the world and get the hell outta’ there, and I did.
I went to the Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, Fiji, and California. I was wild and free. One time I found myself stuck on a tiny island named Ono during a cyclone in Fiji. I bathed in rivers and slept in a puddle of my own sweat on a beach. I helped a six foot five Fijian man who wore wet Levi jeans, spear an Eel and then I ate it. I tried to free a Turtle who was supposed to be our lunch the next day, in the middle of the night. I got caught and reprimanded by one of the villagers and was absolutely terrified of the consequence (although there was none except for the angry lecture). I hitchhiked through Hawaii, made lifelong friendships with beautiful souls, pet wild horses on black sand beaches, slept in homemade tents made of palm branches. I found God in Hawaii and experienced his unconditional love the first time in my life. I wrote a book all along the pacific coast highway and it ended up published in Barnes and Noble. I ran a non-profit for teenagers in Laguna Beach. I fell in and out of love. I wore high heels to the beach because I could. I struggled with my self image and then found my confidence again. I often drove as far as I could down the coast and stayed in a random hotels just for fun. I nannied for celebrities by day and danced in clubs in way too short of a skirts at night.

Then, suddenly I was 28 years old and as exciting as this life was, it was not home. I longed for the sound of the rain on a roof, the protection of the tall Fir trees, the familiar faces of the ones I love and that still small voice was calling me…home. It was time to gather all my treasures and begin the process of weaving my very own nest. I wanted a place that represented me and who I had become. A place I could create a similar feeling my own childhood home offered me, for my own kids.

Fast forward eight years later, marrying Jason, selling his house, giving birth to two babies within 22 months of each other, and purchasing 5 acres right next to the land I grew up on. There we were…we were standing on our raw land, holding plans of my nostalgic farm house, measuring out where our house would sit. It took eight years but there we were, physically standing on our dream. It was a glorious whirlwind of planning, designing, visualizing, lots of paperwork, timelines and budgets and right now I am sitting at our budget friendly butcher block island (that I obsessively researched prices for) writing this blog.

If I look out my kitchen window I can see that the wind is swirling our tire swing around as if a playful ghost is taking a ride, the sky is low to the earth in a dull shade of gray. My four year old son is sick on the couch. I am currently fluttering around adjusting his pillow, making him lay back, stoking the fire by his feet, filling up the hot water bottle, and taste testing his honey lemon tea. I don’t do all these things just because I hope it will make his cold go away. I do them because I want his body, heart, and mind to know what home is. I want it to soak into him like the VapoRub I just massaged into his chest. You see, I am frighteningly aware that my four year old is in his first season of home. Jason and I are the sole conductors of the orchestra that will create his experience of home and more importantly, form his heart.

So, today is the last day of 2018, whether you realize it or not, the seasons you’ve experienced of home has formed who you are today and who you will become in the coming years. Here’s to the foundation that formed us, the journey away that enlightened us, and the nest we create that grounds us and nourishes others. Cheers to whatever season of home you’re in.

May you always find your way home.



The Price of Love

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They say that grief is the price for love. I agree with this statement but I would like to add that the price is not equal to it’s worth. The value of love continues to compound for eternity and more specifically, after the person we miss is gone.

Today marks the sixth year anniversary of my brother’s death. My husband let me sleep in this morning and when I woke up I saw that he had laid my brother’s socks at the end of my bed. As I pulled each of them on up to my knees, it comforted me. I imagined how he used to pull them on too. I can still see the shape of his feet in my mind. His wide, flat, sturdy, handsome feet. Wearing these socks tricked my heart into thinking I am physically closer to him-but my mind knows better. One would think there is no hope on this earth if we cannot have a physical connection to those we’ve lost but I am here to tell you that is simply not true. There is something that keeps us connected that is even closer to us than the socks on our feet.

Grief is a great teacher. One of the most profound lessons it has gifted me is the knowledge of the power, the depth, and the width of love. It has taught me that love is the one thing we have that transcends death. This love is a direct connection that death isn’t able to steal from us. This love is not just a feeling. It is active, living, moving, and it connected between us like an invisible umbilical cord.

Love has no knowledge of the boundaries between the Earth’s horizon and Heaven’s open road. It travels wherever it pleases at speeds that no scientist can record, and it contains the keys to all of the deadbolts in between. Love has an open invitation to the table where we gather together and feast on the memories from before. It is always in pursuit, it holds no prejudice between the open armed and the high-walled heart. It is always gentle with supernatural healing as its North star.
The Bible says, God is love and we are made in his image. I believe that and I believe we are made of flesh, bone, water, and love.

You see, because we are made up of flesh, bone, water and love our bodies will not let us forget the pain, even if our brain wants it to. So today my body is reminding me without my brain’s permission. Today, I was thinking if he was alive, I would make him a room in our home because then he would be close. I would make him homemade ice cream pie every night. I would savor every giggle, I would be his ladder to help him reach his dreams. I would study his face and memorize every expression. I imagine he would come upstairs and sit at my island, we would talk about how he’s falling in love. I would stand at his wedding and tell him everything I wish I could say to him now. I would be sitting in the waiting room when he entered with his first born son. I would help him and his wife swaddle their baby boy and I would reassure them they are doing an amazing job. We would sit around our fire pit while our kids played with sticks. We would throw our heads back and laugh under the stars. These things are memories that I make up in my mind and oh how I wish they could come true. The reality that it never will can feel overwhelming and like I am sinking beneath the waves of grief but that is when I remind myself that I have a place of refuge.

Death resides inside the walls of the embassy of Love. Sometimes when the grief is too much to bare, I pack my bag, I step out my front door, and I run with hair flying wild behind me, tears evaporating in footprints beneath me. After the doors of the embassy shut behind me, I announce just like the movies, “I am a citizen of the Earth but I need access to the great love that connects me to the other side” Then the grief which is contained inside the four walls there, it throws me around in its untamed waves. I just lay on my back and let it do what it may. Amidst the chaos, I feel peace because I know I am safe. Soon, it slows and subsides and there I float in the silence and I know I will be ok.

So, all the flesh, bones, and water will return to the soil in which it came from but because we are made in God’s image and God is love, love cannot be returned. And even though I dearly wish I had more to hang on to than his socks, I will take comfort that no one can ever steal our love.

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)


Choosing Joy




  1. A feeling of great pleasure and happiness. delight. jubilation. exultation. rejoicing. happiness. gladness. glee. exhilaration. exuberance. elation. euphoria. bliss. ecstasy.

The house was finally quiet, we climbed under the covers and our hands found each other like slow heat seeking missiles. I’ve always felt comforted by his hands. They are strong, worn, they built us a house, but the best thing about them is they are always warm.

I could tell he was drifting off to sleep but I broke the silence and asked him, what is your dream life? I mean, if you could have any life you wanted, what would it look like?

He was quiet for a long time and to any stranger who doesn’t know how my husband communicates, would likely define it as an awkward silence. When we were first married I would anxiously ask a question again and again like a rapid fire machine gun until he answered me. More often than not, it backfired on me. Now, after 8 years of marriage, I know that he processes differently than me. He does not have a million words. He has a few words and they are always truthful and they are what he means to say. I have learned that standing still and waiting in the silence is a means to love him better.

Right before I fell asleep he answered me, I am living my dream life.

His response caught me off guard for two reasons. First, it was true.  Second, I couldn’t add my usual devils-advocate glass-is-half-empty comments. Now, of course our life isn’t perfect but in that moment I realized there is nothing I could add to it that would equal more fulfillment.

Me too, I added.

This conversation really stuck with me the whole next day. If I am living my “dream life” why don’t I experience more joy? 

I have a confession to make: I used to judge people who were positive because I thought they were fake. How shallow to pretend everything is fine when the whole world is falling apart around you. I used to spend half my time philosophizing about all the disasters, and the other half worrying about them. I believed that people who didn’t do this too, were just simply not as deep as me.

What I have come to see is that these people are not shallow, they are actually very strong. They are like the warrior Salmon who made their way from the Ocean and are fighting the river upstream. They are made of pure self discipline and grit. They are pushing against this powerful force for a reason and it is so easy to flow with the river of worry, negativity, and ungratefulness. All you have to do is lay back and let the current push you.

It takes huge amount of ambition to choose joy amidst all the pain.

There I was walking around in my dream life and I didn’t even know I was there. When we’re so focused on what is wrong in our life, we aren’t really living because we aren’t experiencing the moments that make it worth living. I think it is important to try to ask ourselves, “is the price I am paying for worry and fear worth the cost of contentment and peace?”

Sometimes the answer is yes, absolutely. I write about this subject with authority. I have experienced great loss, trauma, cancer of a loved one, broken relationships, personal struggles, fear and worry. These things are important and should be acknowledged as so. I am not belittling the true difficulties in life or the seasons of grief that demand our full attention.

I am simply stating that there will be pain. However, joy is not guaranteed unless you fight for it.

When I married Jason I was solely focused on his strengths. As the years went on, as most marriages experience, I began to notice his weaknesses too. Author Pamela Druckerman explained in her latest book that French couples go into relationships searching for their partners strengths and weaknesses. They do this with the goal of committing to accept and love both equally.

Jason is a fiercely loyal father and husband but he also struggles to put up boundaries with a toxic person. He leaves his underwear on the floor next to the laundry hamper but he has never come home and commented that the house is a mess. As I have matured in our relationship, when I see a pile of his work clothes on the floor, I try really hard (and I fail often) to remember that he wouldn’t nag me about being a slob. As the years have gone on, we have adjusted in un-familiar ways in our interactions with each other with a greater goal in mind: a more fulfilling and peaceful relationship.

After almost a lifetime of focusing on what is wrong in my life or what hypothetical disaster I could prevent from happening I have come to believe that the dream life is not a perfect life. A dream life is accepting that life is full of tragedy as much as it is beauty. And I’ve decided to fight as if my life depends on it, (because it does) for a “half-full” perspective on the whole package.



My Song


img_3397-1.jpgI realized something about myself and I am still not sure if it’s normal. However, I have the inkling that is not only because I have been nonchalantly spying on my friend’s…accessories.

I never ever buy new purses, or bras, and I usually have chipped nail polish on my hands. These are all things that I wish to change because I am turning the corner toward 40. I have been using the same Coach wrist-let that my fashion forward cousin bought me on my 30th birthday in 2012. My designer friend bought me a cute make-up bag at least 8 years ago that holds all my make-up, including my blush brush from my wedding day in 2010. I am still wearing a nursing bra and I stopped nursing last June. I even went to Nordstrom and was fitted for a “real” bra but couldn’t bring myself to spend the sixty dollars. I carry a knock-off Hermes’ bowling bag purse with a broken strap that I fished out of someone’s ‘Good-will’ garbage bag. I don’t even like the purse but I keep it because it’s sensible. It is able to hold my dirty wrist-let, two diapers, a pack of wipes, a couple pairs of mismatched toddler socks, and Chapstick.

I am looking at my nails as I type and it makes me feel like… I am 12. Something about this chipped hot pink nail polish symbolizes that I am not where I imagine I should be at 36 years old.
I believe these superficial things are subtle clues pointing to a deeper issue that I need to examine to become the person I am striving toward.

This morning I sat under my covered porch with my coffee and fuzzy blanket. I left my phone and all distractions inside. I forced myself to be still and listen. It is amazing how loud the birds are when you are focused on them. At first, I was sitting in an Adirondack chair drowning in my busy thoughts, “I need to pay Colton’s gymnastics bill, the toilets need to be cleaned, what kind of paint should I use on the dining table so it doesn’t chip?” Then I quiet my thoughts and suddenly I find myself immersed inside a magical symphony of a thousand small harmonious composers.

Suddenly, it is all I can hear.

Isn’t this true with anything in life? Whatever we focus our energy on becomes louder, brighter and BIGGER. The opposite is also true, whatever we ignore becomes quiet, tired, out of focus, and even sick.

You might be wondering where this is going. I gave birth to two babies in the span of 22 months. I was just recovering from Post Partum depression and then got pregnant with my second. My only focus was outward; Diapers. Nursing. Nap time. Dishes. Dinner… on and on it goes. I completely neglected myself. In fact, I may not remember much but I will never forget the feeling of having to pee, being hungry, and so tired that my eyes stung, simultaneously, for months at a time.

It is so easy to ignore ourselves but sometimes it’s not a choice, it’s a matter of survival.
By the time I came up for air, I realized I hadn’t actually taken a substantial lung filled breath in so long that I forgot how to breathe.

I’ll admit that I have never been into purses, nails, and fancy bras but I know that is not the reason I haven’t updated them. It is because it is more comfortable for me to buy a cute wool sweater for my two year old. It is because my focus is mostly on the chatter of the needs of everyone else. I have not chosen to cozy up in a blanket and listen to the song of my own heart. I have not completely bought into the idea that if I am empty, I am not able to pour anything out and if I do not make myself a priority, who will? If I do not teach my kids by example to love themselves, who will? The truth is that making ourselves a priority benefits everyone. However, it does not come naturally. It is a conscious choice and it must be fought for. Sometimes it means saying no to something and rearranging plans or sacrificing financially. It doesn’t just happen. We have to make it happen.

My kids are now able to play outside without my constant supervision. I no longer have tiny humans relying on my body for their sustenance, and I am actually getting more than 4 hours of sleep at night!
Without warning, I am beginning to hear that familiar song again…and I am listening closely. Whatever stage you are in, love yourself enough to stop and listen to your song. There is a magical symphony singing of a thousand stories that make you, you. There is a melody inside you that is asking to be the beat to your future steps.

So today, both my kids are in school and instead of going home to put away  four loads of clean laundry, I am headed out to buy myself a new purse…and it may not be a sensible one.










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In our culture it is considered the bravest thing in life to travel, follow after your dreams and fall recklessly in love.

I will tell you I’ve done all those things and by far, the bravest thing I’ve ever done is to choose to stay put, to put my own dreams on hold and show up everyday for these two amidst the beautiful chaos.

I’ve realized that it is brave to follow your dreams but it is braver to choose to sacrifice them.

The Greatest Super Power

levicoltonEveryone tells me that I ‘’should soak up this time” because they “grow so fast.” I am going to be honest and tell you that soaking up the moments has been one of my greatest struggles.

I feel more comfortable on a mission, checking off my checklists, and I feel accomplished if I am moving toward the “next thing” in my day.

I don’t know what happened in the last few weeks but my ability to soak in the moments has been heightened to super power status.
Yesterday we were leaving Old Navy, late for my Grandma’s 80th birthday party when my three year old discovered a tiny tornado of leafs spinning into the air in an outside alley. He was so mesmerized that he let go of my hand and ran into the center of the flying leaves. I just stopped and watched the scene through my little boy’s eyes. He raised up his hands and began to twirl in sync with the leaves. Yes, I was in a hurry but my recent unexpected super power took over.I sat in the moment and soaked it into my soul. My heart took a snapshot of it and then I filed it only where the most precious treasures of life are stored.

Last weekend we went to the beach as a family. I sat on a sandy hill and watched the sun glisten off my handsome husband as he dug holes with my two boys. Levi’s wild white hair was tamed by his sideways hat, he was bent over looking intently for shells. Colton was running around them with his platypus feet and squealing at the possibility of arriving to China.

It was one of those moments that you cannot, not live in. The power of how good this moment was took over, it rose up like a wave under me, pushing me higher and higher until the threshold was too much and to my surprise all I felt was…pain. It felt like a dull achy white knuckled grip on my heart.

My good friend told me a long time ago that she loves massages so much that she can’t stand to get them because all she thinks about the whole time was the fact that it will end.

As I dug my feet deeper into the warm sand, my heart was shrinking deeper into the cavern of my chest. In an attempt to make sense of this unexpected pain, I remembered my friend who loves massages but hates to get them.
I realized, I struggle to live in the good moments because I knew that they all come to an end. The thought of losing all the good in my life can be too much to bare that it’s safer not to recognize it.

So, yes what they say is true…the dishes can wait and the laundry will always be there. The moments though, they will be gone so don’t ignore them.
Take some time to do some spring cleaning, clear out a room in your heart where only the treasured snapshots of life are stored. If you practice it enough, it will become your greatest super power.

Unexpected Answers


I recently had a conversation with my husband where he told me that it’s my time to do something for myself. “Anything” he said…”something to make you happy”

I went through the list…a job? School? Art class?
Every option I came up with just didn’t really fit. I started to panic because I have always been a person who knows exactly what I want. I went to some advising appointments at colleges, I looked into art classes, I researched Jobs.

Still nothing. No fire. No excitement.

My wise friend asked me, “if there was no limits and no pressure on yourself right now, what would you do?”
My answer surprised me. It came quickly and clearly. “I would be with myself. I would make my home a sanctuary for those I love. I would nurture my friends and family and my body and soul with good food and big love. I would get chickens and collect their eggs everyday. I would have Jason build me a green house. I would have wine with my best people. I would write.”

I realized I had been stuck because I was trying to access the “before-kids me” who wanted to save the world and shake the Earth. The old me who wanted to stand on the mountain tops and proclaim a message for all to hear. The one with a fire that couldn’t be tamed.
I assumed that Motherhood just put a freeze on that me and as soon as possible, she would resume.
What I didn’t know is that Motherhood would birth a new me with different priorities and a whole different lens.

The lesson here for me …and maybe for you, is that we are in an evolving relationship with ourselves just as we are with those we love. It’s important to give ourselves the respect and care to ask ourselves hard questions and be open to unexpected answers.