"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mile High Fun

One of my favorite summer traditions is going to Colorado to visit family. When I was young we would always make an extended summertime visit to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Later, after my mom and younger siblings moved to Colorado I would spend several weeks each summer living at my mom's house. Colorado is my second home, and in many ways it's my emotional home - the place where my heart feels most content.

My most recent visit was more eagerly anticipated than most, as my brother Jon and sister-in-law Sam were going to be there from Pennsylvania along with my two nephews, including 12-week old Leon. I was thrilled at becoming an aunt again after a 14-year hiatus and couldn't wait to finally see baby Leon in person! Kelly was also along for the adventure, and I was excited to share with him the Colorado Springs stomping grounds of my younger days. 
Rest stop in Ft. Collins on our way to Colorado Springs
After a 10-hour drive across Wyoming, we made it to our hotel tired, road-weary and longing for a good night's sleep. We both quickly fell into very deep sleep. At 5 a.m. we were abruptly jolted awake by the sound of the hotel smoke alarms! Because we had somehow been put in an handicap accessible room, in addition to the overwhelmingly loud alarm there were also bright white strobe lights going off in the room. We stumbled outside in our pajamas to the front of the hotel, disoriented and still barely awake along with all of the other guests. Luckily, there wasn't a fire.  Apparently an employee had overcooked the morning's breakfast buffet hash browns and the smoke set off the alarms. We waited outside for over 20 minutes for the fire department to arrive and turn off the alarm. 

An unexpected bonus of being up early... 
seeing the gorgeous sunrise.
After going back to bed to catch a couple more hours of rest, we got up and ready to meet the family for breakfast. We were all happy to see each other, but baby Leon was definitely the man of the hour! Can you tell how thrilled his aunties were to be able to love on him at last?
Then it was off to Manitou and the penny arcade. Everyone quickly found their favorite classic arcade game and in a matter of minutes we were all playing like a bunch of kids!

Kelly was happy to discover Galaga, an old favorite.

Pinball Wizard

Jewett was shocked to win 750 tickets!

Jon - the undefeated air hockey champion.
Jewett's big win bought Amy a stuffed
 animal, a candy bar and a soda.

A morning hike to Pulpit Rock.
Gillian and Francisco marking Ogden on the map 
at Helen Hunt Falls.

I wasn't prepared for hiking, but I made it to
 the top of Helen Hunt Falls anyway!

At the top of Helen Hunt Falls.

With Kelly outside the Air Force Academy Chapel.

With the ones I love in a place filled with happy memories.
Another Colorado family vacation in the books!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

30 Years

On July 8, 1987 I reported for my first day of work at my first real job. Although I'd pursued a job there with single-minded determination, refusing to even apply elsewhere (much to the frustration of my dad!), I didn't imagine I was beginning a 30-year career there. Tomorrow I'll walk out the doors there for the last time. Sadly, I won't be officially retiring, although I do have the gift of a pension coming my way on my 65th birthday! 

In this day and age, it's a rare thing for someone to work at the same place for so long. Longevity and loyalty is good. Being too comfortable isn't. I do my best work when I'm challenged and learning new things. After three decades I decided it was time for a major change and new challenges. I needed to shake myself out of my comfort zone and move on. 

I'm excited, nervous, intimidated and honored to have been selected as the Executive Director of a local non-profit, Family Counseling Service of Northern Utah. After serving on their board of trustees for 3 1/2 years, I've come to know the organization and their work well. I'm thrilled about taking on a role that allows me to combine my professional and volunteer experience with my personal passion and commitment to access to affordable mental health services and mental health awareness. 

Looking back on the last 30 years I mostly marvel at how quickly the years have flown by. You know the Kenny Chesney song "Don't Blink"? It's true. One day you're a shy, quiet 17-year old. Then, you blink and you're 47-years old and leaving your job of 30 years. Mixed in with all those hours, days, weeks and years spent working, I graduated from high school, then college, got married, divorced (more than once!), had a child, volunteered on countless boards and committees, laughed, cried, loved, lost, struggled, triumphed, learned to juggle working full-time and single parenthood, and raised an amazing daughter! 

It feels a bit like I'm jumping from the nest. Several weeks ago I was talking to a friend about my apprehension over making the leap from comfort and security to risky and unknown. He gave me some good advice. "Go ahead and let go of the edge of the cliff and drop the inch you're going fall." He was right. I let go. The fall wasn't bad at all.

 A Career (and hairstyle) Retrospective

1st Day of Work
My Project Coordinator days

Riverdale City flood clean-up
New branch ribbon cutting 
Holiday Buffet
2 weeks before giving birth!
Management Seminar 60's Night fun.
Hangin' with Donny Osmond, Orrin Hatch and Michael
Bolton. Umm...weird.
USU Ladies Football Clinic  
I was paid to attend hundreds of banquets and eat
lots of food over my 30 year career!
John Walsh, my bestie, Dennis Haysbert and me!
Annual Food Drive
Another year, another Ladies Football Clinic
Only one of us could kick a field goal like a
champ, and it wasn't me!
Lakeview Elementary Warm the Soles party
Warm the Soles
Just another day at work.
Halloween 2016, which is the ONLY time I ever
wore a Halloween costume to work.
Dropping off Backpack Bonanza donations
to Catholic Community Services.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


14 years ago this week I happily signed a thick stack of paperwork making me the proud owner of my current home. I remember clearly the first time I saw my house. After months of looking, two offers that had fallen through, and the end of a 6-month lease looming on the horizon, I was discouraged and worried about finding a place that met my criteria and timeline. 

6 1/2  months earlier I'd finally found the courage to walk out on an unhealthy, unhappy marriage. Soon after, I signed a 6-month lease on a small apartment in the basement of a house. Wracked with guilt about the major upheaval and turmoil I was causing in my 4-year old daughter's life, I was determined to find a new home for us to live in by the time my lease was up. My criteria was pretty narrow. I had a limited price range and needed to remain close to my former home and ex-husband, as we would be sharing joint physical custody of Gillian. My ever-patient realtor spent months looking at houses with me. He always took my calls when I would bother him with a request to see yet another house on the market. He would sometimes tell me "You don't want that house. It isn't what you're looking for." Still, he would show it to me. And then I would agree with him and the search would continue. I'm not sure how he tolerated me as a client! 

Time was running out and I was feeling a little desperate. One Sunday I was driving around the neighborhood where I wanted to live and turned onto a street I didn't remember going down before. I spotted a For Sale sign and stopped to grab a flyer. This was my house! Everything about it was perfect. Except the price. I couldn't afford it. I remember driving away wanting so much to live on that street - in that house - and feeling so sad that it was just out of my reach. Several weeks later my realtor called. He said he'd found the perfect house for me and the price was about to drop. A lot--down into the upper end of my price range. He'd set up an appointment for me to see it and said I should be ready to make an offer if I wanted it. Then he sent me the listing information for it. It was my house! 

Yes. The house was perfect. It was just what I wanted. Somehow, every little thing worked out. There were plenty of bumps in the road, and yet, in the end, here I am. To this day I marvel at how it all somehow worked out so perfectly. Six months after doing the unimaginable, I'd managed to find and purchase a home for me and my daughter. Finding a home for the two of us mattered so much to me. I wanted a permanent place for her, not an apartment or a series of rental homes. I wanted to give her roots, and hopefully, some sense of security. I don't know if I succeeded. I hope in some small way I did. 
Gillian, back in the days when she would put on impromptu
concerts while unloading the dishwasher.
When I was first handed the keys to my home I had no idea what the next 14 years would bring. Things haven't turned out even close to the way I imagined they might back then. There have been plenty of sad, unhappy moments under this roof. Mostly though, this has been a place of happiness, healing and peace for me. I moved into this home as a newly divorced single mom, more than a little scared about taking on such a big responsibility alone. I've grown up in this house, and discovered that I'm stronger and more capable than I ever imagined I was back then. Many happy memories and cherished moments with loved ones have happened here. 

There was a time when I couldn't imagine my future anywhere but here. My world has opened up now. I doubt that I'll grow old living in this house. Right now, I have no idea where I'll be living or what I'll be doing in 14 years, which is just fine. For now, I'm content knowing long, sunny summer days and warm nights are on the horizon. I'm happy here and now and looking forward to what the future may bring. Whenever I sit on my back patio gazing east at the mountains that are so close they seem like part of my back yard, I say a silent little thank you to the universe for making my long ago dream come true.