One Year

One year.
Twelve months.
Three hundred and sixty-five days.
Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty hours.

On July 26, 2016 I received a short text message from my mom that changed my world forever.
"She's gone."
Such simple words that carried so much weight. So much finality.

I hadn't seen her since February that year - almost 5 months to the date. That was the longest I had gone without visiting since her diagnosis in 2011. She wanted it that way. She had taken a turn for the worse and wanted me to remember her stronger, and as my adventure buddy. She didn't want me to see what the cancer had done to her body in her final days. We pretended it wasn't the end, but we both knew deep down, and we both knew it was too hard to face straight on.

I thought it would be easier. I thought knowing she was no longer suffering would make the reality that cancer had taken my best friend less painful. But I was wrong. The finality of it hit like a ton of bricks, and has continued to hit multiple times over the past year.

Today though, I am choosing to focus on the good memories I carry with me. I am choosing to focus on the concerts we experienced together. I am choosing to focus on the concerts she saw without me, but would call to describe in full detail right after it ended so we could still create a memory around it. I am choosing to remember our visits to Disney during the holidays. Saleen's favorite place in the world. I am choosing to remember our visits to the coast. My favorite place in the world. I am choosing to remember our road trip from Portland to Palm Springs. My heart had been shattered by a boy, and she placed the pieces back together for me one mile at a time. I am choosing to remember the (many) conversations we had about embracing life. I was scared to step out on my own, and she was my biggest champion. My biggest support. So much of who I am today was forged by an unwavering love and a refusal to let me settle for anything less than what I deserved.

One year later and I still pick up my phone every couple of weeks to send her a text. I have these flashes of, "I haven't heard from Saleen in awhile, I wonder how she's doing?" Or see something online and think, "Saleen would get such a kick out of this!" Or see that a band or play is coming through town and want so badly to share that experience with her. It's so painful each time to remember that I can't. That she's not going to be on the other end of that communication. That I won't hear her laugh again. But part of me hopes I never stop thinking of her first. Part of me hopes that when I encounter large milestones in my life, I still think to reach out to her and ask her to share in my joy, or when necessary, my sorrow.

This past year has had many ups and many downs. There has been great struggle. There has been great joy. I am choosing to focus on the growth. I am choosing to hold her memory close. I am choosing to carry her in my heart, and when it's all over, I will tell her all about it in detail so it can be like we experienced it together.

I love you Saleen. Forever.

2016 | a month-by-month recap

Oy was 2016 a tough year with some pretty significant challenges. There were great losses, uncomfortable growth, and I won't get started on the national political landscape...

2017 is already looking up with some amazing travel plans (hello London, Paris and New York to name a few) and opportunities for career advancement, and I look forward to seeing what other opportunities and adventures the coming months will bring.

Here's a look back on what 2016 had to share with me month-by-month.

I moved back to Idaho just in time for New Years and spent most of the first month with friends and family. I explored the surrounding areas with snowshoeing and winter hikes in the hopes of reconnecting with Idaho and enjoying being here again.

In February I visited Saleen for the last time. I had no idea when I was down there that it would be my last time seeing her and wish I would have cherished it more. I loved all the time I got to spend with her and I wish I would have had more opportunities to visit this past year. 

The beginning of March was really tough for me. I had officially hit 4 months of unemployment and was starting to feel hopeless. I had interviewed for a marketing position with the local library district and each day that went by without an offer got that much more difficult. I made a decision to road trip west and visit family in the Tri Cities and push on to Portland. During my visit with family I received the offer I had been waiting for and the trip turned into one of celebration. Knowing I had a job to go back to brought so much joy and I enjoyed the trip so much more than I ever expected.

In April we had a girls trip to Walla Walla for a long weekend and it was so great! We tasted many delicious wines, explored gorgeous vineyards and cellars and laughed a TON. Hopefully we can make this trip a yearly tradition because it was so good for my soul.

This was a low key month with the focus on family and work. I enjoyed a road trip with my niece to see my parents for the weekend and took advantage of one-on-one time with Joie to show her around some of the highlights of where her dad and I grew up. It was so fun to see her adventurous heart so excited to hike, discover waterfalls, and meet base jumpers parachuting into the canyon. She and I often talk travel and adventures and I love her excitement for it.

June took me on a much needed trip back to Portland to see my tribe. Jenni and Brian were celebrating their 10 year wedding anniversary and we partied, caught up, and toasted to the happy couple. It was a wonderful trip full of friends.

July was a mixed bag. 
It started with an amazing long weekend in Seattle for the 4th of July holiday. The weather could not have been more perfect and I loved every minute of it.

I also took a WONDERFUL trip to northern Idaho with some of my favorite people and enjoyed a long weekend of cabin living on the lake. We played on the paddle boards and kayaks, ate great BBQ, and enjoyed long days of laughter and sunshine. My soul was completely recharged. On the last morning though I received news that Saleen had taken a turn for the worse and was told that I needed to fly down that day if I hoped to say goodbye. That was, by far, the worst text I have ever received.

I decided not to fly down based on wishes Saleen had expressed to me earlier and made arrangements for my mom to fly there. Just 2 days later I got the phone call that she was gone. The following weeks were the most difficult I've ever experienced. We'd known for months the inevitable, but I realized too late that nothing can prepare you for the absolute.

In August I got a wonderful visit from friends in Washington on their way to camp in Yellowstone. I hadn't seen them for about a year and it was so good to catch up, laugh, and talk travel adventures. I have come to absolutely adore those kids and their mom and hope we get to cross paths again soon.

I think I say this every year, but September is my absolute favorite month. Sure it contains my birthday and that's awesome, but there's also something about the changing of seasons and crisp added to the air after a long summer that just feels magical. September 2016 was no different. 

The month included a trip with a good friend and her little to SoCal. We explored Venice Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, etc. introduced her little to In and Out, and spent a very full and fun day at Disneyland and California Adventure. It was a great trip and a little cathartic to stand in front of Saleen's favorite ride at Disneyland in her sweatshirt.

The month also included a road trip back to Portland for my birthday weekend. It was so great and filled with laughter with some of my favorite people. 

I finally started to feel like I hit my groove in Idaho. I had many opportunities to spend time with Boise-based friends in October and it was good to realize I'd finally began building my tribe here. I don't feel pulled to return to Portland, but not having close friendships in Boise outside of my family was starting to take a toll on me emotionally. October felt like the beginning of the healing phase.

I'm not going to lie, I was dreading Thanksgiving this year. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I look forward each year to spending it with my extended family. This year though my immediate family was heading to Hawaii to spend the holiday in the sunshine and spread Saleen's ashes. I know, I know, Hawaii - what a rough way to spend the holiday. But really, there are more than a few reasons I wasn't too keen on the idea. However, I sucked it up and stuck with the plan and do not regret it one bit. This trip was so much more cathartic than I ever could have imagined. 
Click here for the full recap on this trip.

It's been many years since I've really been in the Christmas spirit. Between travel (not complaining) and living in Portland in various apartments (also not complaining) I haven't really felt "homey" around the holidays. This year was different though and I loved it! I actually bought a tree, decorated it, and really enjoyed all the holiday activities the surrounding areas had to offer. Having my niece excited about the magic of Christmas was really fun too. I haven't spent a Christmas morning with her since she was 3, so getting to wake up with her this year was the best Christmas present I could have asked for.

Officially Saying Goodbye in Hawaii

Over Thanksgiving week, the whole family traveled to the Big Island to spend the week in paradise, celebrate Saleen's life, and lay her to rest among the waves in her favorite bay.

I won't lie, I was not looking forward to this trip. Up until the day before I flew out I questioned not getting on that plane. Ultimately though, I couldn't do that to Saleen's memory. I owed it to her to be a part of her final goodbye.

So I went.
And I'm so glad I did!
I don't think I've had such a good time with my brothers since we kids, and, you guys, Hawaii is BEAUTIFUL!

My family all arrived a day or two ahead of me, so when I flew in Monday afternoon, most were already in vacation mode and ready to chill. I spent that first evening poolside with my mom and enjoyed this view:

Day 2
Danielle, Brandie, and I explored Waipio Valley and the black sand beach. We had so much fun off-roading in our rented Jeep and exploring the beach and waves. It's amazing how much warmer the water is in Hawaii compared to the Oregon Coast.

Day 3
We all headed out with the intention of exploring the Hilo side of the island, starting with Akaka Falls. After the falls though, the 2 cars split up and just Jed, Danielle, Joie and I continued on to Hilo for lunch and then Volcano National Park so Joie could see her volcano (which was at the top of her Hawaii list).

Day 4
The fourth day was Thanksgiving. The day started off with time on the beach to myself. I FaceTimed with the family I normally spend the holiday with who were back in Seattle. It was fun to "see" them and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving while sitting next to the ocean with my toes in the sand. Later that day Danielle's aunt, who lives on the island, took us to a local spot for snorkeling. It was so fun! After hours of playing in the ocean, we had our Thanksgiving dinner at Lava Lava Beach Club and it was soooo good! It was weird to eat Thanksgiving dinner out (and I had a hamburger, ha!) but it was nice and laid back too. We ate out on the beach and listened to live music along with the waves. It's not what I want to do every Thanksgiving, but it was definitely a great experience.

Day 5
We spent most of the day at Hapuna Beach, a state beach that is so unbelievably gorgeous. We snorkeled, swam, built sand castles, and just generally enjoyed a relaxing day in the sun and surf. 

Day 6
This was the day we said goodbye to Saleen. We started out early in the morning with a hike through lava that led us to the most gorgeous bay I've ever seen. Saleen had told me about this spot a few times and she described it really well, but nothing could have prepared me for how amazing it was. The sand was like silt and the surf was unbelievably warm. It was a sobering morning, but much more cathartic than I anticipated. There were tears, there were hugs, and there sweet memories shared and made. It was difficult to have everything feel so final, but at the same time, it's exactly what I needed to move on. All of us were saying we wished we had done it earlier in the week because it seemed to help find some closure.

That afternoon and evening was the most fun I'd had in a long time. We played in the pool, drank, toasted to Saleen in the sunset, and just in general had a good time celebrating life. 

Day 7
Our final day. We were flying out at midnight, so we had one last, full day in paradise and none of us were ready to leave. We spent the day with a mix of pool, picking up a few souvenirs, and cleaning the condo we'd rented. We also made sure to get in one last happy hour at Lava Lava. I understand why Saleen always sent me texts of her evenings there. That place is magical at sunset. 

Danielle and I did not want to leave, but Jed (the level headed one) drug us away to get ready to head to the airport. It was such a lovely evening enjoying the atmosphere and conversation with one another. I began my trip not wanting to go to Hawaii, and I ended it looking forward to visiting again.

Three Months

Three months.

It's been three months.

3 months since you died.

How has it been three months already? How am I not ready to write about it yet? How am I not ready to accept it yet? Why do I still find myself moving to text you, only to remember too late. After I started the first sentence, then have to slowly delete what I wrote and put the phone down again. Feel the pain again. Remember that you're not on the other side, ready to laugh with me, share the joke, and make my day brighter. Why do I get excited when I read something online that I know you'll love as much as me, only to be crushed once again when I realize I can't send it to you and wait to hear your excitement match mine. Why do I get excited when I see our favorite band is touring again and think we should totally get tickets and see them together, only to accept the pain that I'll never be able to see them again, because how do I do that without you?

We're getting ready to go to Hawaii to celebrate your life. How do I enjoy that trip without you? How do I walk the paths you told me about so many times and not have you there with me?


I miss you.

Trust In You

It's been a tough year.

I moved, got behind on my finances, was unemployed for 4 months, fell further behind in debt, experienced a rift in close relationships, had family drama. And most recently, lost one of my best friends to her battle with cancer.


I sat listening to Pandora this morning while sipping my coffee and a song by Lauren Daigle came on that spoke to my heart. The title is "Trust in You," and I've heard it many, many times. Today though, something seeped in a little deeper.

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I don't understand the purpose of this year in my life, and luckily I don't have to. God is in control and I'm done fighting for a control I will never have. I turn it over to Him and trust fully it will all be ok in the end.

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings 
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

Life Lately: The Past 4 Months (part 1)

I don't even know where to begin, so I guess I'll just start.

A little over 4 months ago (just before the first of the year) I packed up all my belongings, loaded them into a trailer, and drove them east to Idaho. I had made the decision to move back after 4 glorious years living in Portland.

When I first moved to Portland it was a leap of faith, and ironically, so was moving back.

I don't think anyone was more shocked at my decision than myself. Right up until I was pulling into the driveway in Boise, Idaho, I was questioning what I was doing. I felt at peace with everything, but part of me expected to wake up again in SE Portland - just down the road from some of my best friends, and an hour from the coast.

Reality settled in hard over the first few months of the year. Job searching was tough. I've never had trouble finding work before, but the job market had changed drastically in the 4 years I was gone. Not only were jobs hard to come by, but the pay was abysmal. After a few weeks it seemed I would have to figure out how to survive on 50% of the income I was used to.

And before you assume, no, the cost of living is not less in Boise than it was in Portland.

It seems that it should be, but it's not. In fact, in some ways my budget was impacted even more due to sales tax in Idaho. Groceries and gas were hitting me harder than they ever had in Portland.

Luckily my little brother and I were able to help each other out. He and his wife were purchasing their first home at the end of January, but they still had their lease to fulfill for a few months. I was able to move in and keep his landlord happy since someone would be there to watch the property and take care of the utilities, etc. and my brother was able to continue paying the rent - saving my $$ each month while I continued looking for work.

There were a few jobs here and there that I was interested in, but nothing seemed like the right next step.

During all of this I was stressed, but still felt solidly like Boise was where I needed to be. Friends reached out here and there wondering if I was going to move back to Portland, or venture on and try the job market somewhere new altogether. As exciting as a new city seemed though, my heart told me to be patient. That the right job was just around the corner, and that everything would work out.

"Trust God," was what I heard my heart say over and over.

I worked on letting go of the control I thought I had over the situation. I was embarrassed to be in the situation and my ego took a hard hit. I was humbled over a period of 12 weeks and felt, to my core, that the only thing to do was let go.

I had to let go and let God.

More soon...

Five Things That Will Always Bring A Smile To My Face

This face:

And this face:

And, of course, this face:

I seriously have the world's cutest nieces and nephew. I love watching them grow into their own as their personalities and passions develop. I never knew it was possible to love someone this much, let alone three of them! I can't wait to have my own kids someday and add to chaos at family events.

Something else that always brings a smile to my face is a rainy day at the coast:

I had the opportunity to visit the coast (and Portland) a couple weeks ago for a short trip (I promise I'll blog about the entire visit soon) and my day at Cannon Beach with the rain falling was perfect. I enjoyed coastal views, my favorite coffee shop, and wandering around the town I'm so sad is no longer just an hour drive away.

And the fifth thing on my list of things that make me smile is the sunset:

Nothing makes me feel more alive than catching an amazing sunset. One of the best things about living in Idaho again is the amazing sunsets that happen almost every night. I've been loving catching them on my drive home from my new job (another thing I promise to update the blog on soon)!

What are five things that will always bring a smile to your face?