Hello birth month! (hopefully!!)

Here I am, verging on the birth month of my first child.  Tomorrow will mark 37 weeks, meaning my baby is full term and could be expected pretty much any day now!  For most first time moms the actual birth date is 41 weeks 2 days of gestation, however.  So, I may have a while to wait but I am trying to be prepared for the possibility that he could come tomorrow.  It’s a strange dance we mammas do, of anxiously preparing ourselves, while trying to patiently wait, slow down our lifestyles, and listen to the rhythms of our bodies.  Each time I feel a Braxton hicks contraction I wonder if it’s the beginning, each time I feel crampy or achy I wonder if that is a sign that the birthing time is near.  I’m constantly scanning for evidence of a lost mucus plug.  I feel the baby lower himself deeper in to my pelvis with each step I take while I’m out walking.  It’s hard to extricate myself from thoughts of baby, but I realize that I must. Though it is tempting to devote much of my mental energy to thinking about birth, going over our plan, and reciting hypnobabies scripts to myself in my head, the reality is that I want to savor these last days of being just me.  Just Kat.  Not a mom.  Not solely responsible for the life and well-being of a small child,

I know it’s not uncommon for new moms to enter a bit of a depressive phase before the birth of their first child.  I can see how that happens.  There is certainly a mourning, in small ways, of a life pregnant with alternate endings and different scenarios that might not include being tied down by a new baby.  I scheduled a dentist appointment in January, and suddenly the other day I started to wonder, ” How does one go to the dentist with a newborn?”  Do I need a babysitter? Can I bring him with?  What if he cries and is fussy?  It’s a learning experience, I hear.  I have no doubt it will be all that, and more.

This past weekend Rick and I escaped to Leadville and stayed at my sister’s place, going for small hikes and enjoying the quaint mountain town vibe.   As we hiked I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia for my healthy, pre-pregnancy body.  My back felt achy and my feet (bearing the weight of 40 pregnancy pounds) get more sore when I walk.  My abdomen moves constantly, and the actions do not always make me smile with joy – more recently I wince and gently try to massage an errant foot back into a position that doesn’t stab my ribs or jut out of my belly at a dangerous looking angle.  Though by many accounts, my own included, I have had an incredibly healthy and easy pregnancy, the last month definitely is harder.

In hypnobabies we discuss a concept called the “bubble of peace” with which we as pregnant couples can fend off negative birth messages.  In one of our earliest classes we each visualize our own “bubble” that protects us from scary birth stories and other messages that present pregnancy and childbirth in ways we don’t feel comfortable with.  My bubble of peace, for example, resembles a zorbing ball that I walk around in, and which zaps away people who I come into contact with who are not supportive of my vision for my pregnancy and childbirth.  (Rick’s bubble is much more peaceful – it consists of a comfortable recliner, a sunny sky above him, me, Addie our dog, and a beer.  I think we took slightly different approaches to the exercise!)  Up until recently, the bubble of peace concept has carried little weight or meaning for me.  I am an information sponge and I honestly eat up every story I hear about birth.  I want to familiarize myself with the possibilities so that I feel well-prepared when I get there.  But recently, the third trimester has been getting me a bit down.  Occasionally I call people for work and their first response is “You’re still working!?” and I feel a bit sad that I am, when I’d love to be devoting my mental energy to being present and enjoying the process of change and discovery that is happening within me each day.  Or I have one particular coworker who loves to share her observations on my pregnancy with me; including but not limited to “I can tell you’re ready to have the baby because the whole shape of your face has changed!” or, “Wow!  Your belly has grown two inches since I saw you last (like a week before)!”, or the time she told me her entire birth story which ended in an emergency c-section and complaints about the post-labor recovery rooms at the hospital where I’m delivering. On the flip side, there are many people I work with who seem unsympathetic to the fatigue and mental fog that can descend in the third trimester and I struggle to try to do my job well while also acknowledging and respecting the changing space I’m in. My bubble of peace is becoming both necessary and critical to maintaining my self-image and sanity during the last few weeks. I have lamented the metamorphosis of my body in small ways throughout my pregnancy, but this last month has been the hardest for me because the physical changes have been more noticeable.  During the first trimester I felt fatigue as if I’d pulled several all nighters in a row, and now I feel that too (and let’s be honest – I’m sort of doing that with how little sleep I get), but my body ALSO sometimes feels like I was run over by a truck.  Which is lovely.

I’m not here to complain.  I know it’s easy to complain about the discomforts of a changing body and the challenges of preparing for a new, helpless, member of the family.  What’s less easy is embracing those changes with grace, gratitude for the experience and process, and acknowledgment of the strength that will come from those struggles. I think learning to embrace the challenges will make me a better mother, wife, and person.  Which is not to say I don’t feel the discomforts and stressors – I just try to reframe them in my mind to something that offers a positive outcome.

These are my thoughts today.  Though I sometimes lose perspective, it is important to remember what a gift it s to have a healthy body capable of building a new human. I am eager to meet our new addition, but trying to savor this valuable time where I am simply me.

Susie Homemaker

I feel a bit like a Susie Homemaker right now.  I’m seated at our (new!) dining room table in my apron.  I’ve been in the kitchen all evening.  Though I worked a full day (and in a perfect world that would entitle me to an evening of lying on the couch and watching the Daily Show), instead, I’m taking a break while my pomegranate chocolate tart bakes.  I’m preparing Thanksgiving dinner elements this evening so I can take it relatively easy tomorrow and make some time to go for a long walk with Adelaide and enjoy a day off work.  A. DAY. OFF.WORK.

I’m saving vacation days.  I am saving them so that I can take it easy next year and enjoy some time with the Frankster (oh, and that minor vacation we have planned to Iceland and London!).   I began working last April and I have taken no time off since that then.  Now granted, I have a flexible schedule and I work from home reasonably often.  But, those are still working days.  Tomorrow I’ve pledged to myself to DO NOTHING related to work.  This would be a simpler task if lists and tasks would stop flitting through my mind reminding me that in a short time I need to be prepared to hand over all my projects to the people who’ll be covering for me during my maternity leave – the prospect of which makes me anxious.  But, enough about work.  I have 4 days off and I will be enjoying them thoroughly.

Today was a special day.  I got a new engagement ring!  I wish I could say that it was entirely my choice – it wasn’t.  Unfortunately, the beautiful family ring that Rick gave me for our engagement lost not one, but two baguette diamonds in the last several months.  Were it not so old, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  But (and here is where I got an education on diamonds) baguette stones are incredibly challenging to work with!  These days they come in standard sizes, but with an old ring you need to have them custom cut, which can only happen in a few places in New York.  We did all this.  But, it was to no avail.  We even considered sending the ring to the jeweler in Australia who made our wedding bands, but in the end we determined the ring would become an ongoing challenge and elected to buy a new setting instead.  Though it was hard for me to part with the incredibly unique art deco design of my original ring, I have to say I’m THRILLED at my new one.  I think I must have inherited my mom’s penchant for jewels and it just took awhile to hit me – rings are fun!

As you can see, the topics of my posts are becoming increasingly insular.  Here I am talking about baking tarts, wearing aprons, and buying rings.  Just wait until I share all that I’ve learned about breastfeeding, childcare, and our pre-admission to our birthing center.  My life has taken a serious turn for the settled.  As we come closer and closer to the baby’s guess date, and as my pelvis becomes increasingly sore with baby bearing down on it, I sometimes reflect on this massive life shift.  In January of this year, Rick and I were gallivanting around Colombia.  Today, we are homeowners, pet owners, and pregnant.  I mean, seriously, WTF?

Sometimes the thought of being a mom terrifies me.  I look at my backcountry ski gear and wonder if I’ll ever use it again.  I think of the last time I went rafting and wonder how long it will be until I go again. I glance into our nursery and shake my head wondering when my life started to involve large towel hoods with monster faces on them.  I look at my maternity wardrobe and wonder if I’m doomed to a life of frumpiness.  I look at my career and truly wonder if it will still carry the weight it does in my life now.  Will I make time for another masters?  Will I write that piece for publication? Will I become one of those moms doing 800 different things at once  – none of which are for my own benefit?  I wonder if I’m too selfish for motherhood.  I wonder if I can be happy in a settled life.

Now, in fairness, my idea of a settled life basically means I now own furniture and am responsible for the well-being of a dog.  My standard isn’t THAT high.  But, soon it will bump up a notch.  And when I think of having a little man in my life, I oscillate between warm fuzzy feelings and terror.

These are the thoughts of Susie Homemaker tonight.  I’m off to go read a book about how to soothe crying babies, that is, after I put the finishing touches on my tart.  My blog (and life) have become sedate.  Wish me luck at ever being cool again.  🙂

 

Missing my practice

 The third trimester of pregnancy is now where I am beginning to notice some limitations.  I can’t reach dishes that I once could with my belly now protruding outward.  Bending over is incredibly awkward.  Shaving presents new challenges.  I wake up with a stomach that growls so loud it wakes up the baby and then I get kicked in the ribs.  These are some of the newest developments in my life.

Yes, it’s an adventure all right.  I miss the body I had, which I didn’t fully appreciate in the moment.  I miss being able to button my pants, or fit into them at all.  I miss not having to wear a bra.   I miss my old stomach.

My body now is a foreign thing, which I am doing my best to embrace.

Traditionally, I find yoga to soothe and rebalance my body when it feels a bit out of whack (like now), but yoga is beginning to present its own challenges to me. A few chaturangas into a practice I observe that my belly seems to be hitting the ground much earlier than expected. Also, the 25 extra pounds I’m carrying makes lowering my body a new challenge for my shoulders and back.  Twists – not happening, really.  Inversions I can still do, and some easier arm balances, but I definitely feel the difference from where  once was.  Also, if there was ever a time I wanted to do backbends, this is it.  But, camel and bridge seem to be my limit – even early in the pregnancy, wheel felt like it might tear my stomach open.<

So, I am missing my more vigorous yoga practice these days.

On the flip side, my hips are doing things never before seen, and suddenly I find  myself comfortably in malasana more often than is really necessary – like anytime I need to pick something up off the floor. So, there's that.

Below is a link to a video post from the studio where I did my teacher training in Bogota.  It's a video of my rising one-legged into wheel.  I am proud of my ability to do that – it's a challenge!  I'm now using the video as inspiration to recall my more practiced self and hope that soon enough I will be back to this place physically.  Namaste!

Smelly Feet and other Love Symbols

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Calgary reflecting on an email I got this morning from my husband.  It was titled “Come Home.”  As I read the email I laughed aloud as he recounted how our puppy ate my Birkenstocks while he was in the shower this morning.  Yesterday, it was one of my pairs of Danskos.  She’s not typically a shoe-destroyer, so one can only assume she misses the smell of my feet, and me, by extension.  He says that he, too, misses me.  Thankfully he doesn’t show it by eating my shoes.

Being away from home for a week by myself is a good reminder of the blessings I have in my life.  There are so many – and prep yourself because I am going to talk about them.

For one thing, my job, which brought me to Calgary is a blessing.  I work in the exact intersection of things that I love – communications, writing, media, working with people, and environmental issues.  It is not always a fun job, thankless at times, but it is rewarding and full of opportunities to learn and grow.  I love it.  The past week in Calgary for the International Pipelines Conference has re-shaped my perception of pipeline folks entirely. There were amazing sessions on working through environmental challenges, improving safety, learning about ways that pipeline infrastructure actually changes ecosystems to cause certain animals to thrive – and so many more!  The ones that appealed to me most directly dealt with utilizing social media and the internet to include the public in routing decisions and educate them on issues that they care about.  I also LOVED learning about the ways that companies work with First Nations communities to share ownership of infrastructure, accommodate cultural and lifestyle differences, and achieve social license to operate.  This is cool stuff, people.  And for those who might question how a self-described environmentalist can work in this space, I will remind you again that THIS is where change happens and that our voices are often strongest on the inside of an organization as we strive to achieve best practices.  Moreover, unless you can say you don’t use metals, electricity, gasoline, and the myriad other fuels and materials derived from natural resource development – then you are a silent accomplice to the means that brings your iPad to your lap while you watch Hulu.  So, in my opinion it’s best to be a part of the conversation.

After a rough few weeks in the office, that at times made me questions how I would be able to continue to work effectively once Baby Frankie is born, I feel refreshed and renewed by my week here.  I was dreading it, but instead I came away inspired.

In other blessings, it now occurs to me that in just over a week my sisters and another friend will be hosting my BABY SHOWER! My sister has been calling it the Frank and Beans baby shower, since we are doing it outdoors, with a fire, barbecue,  lawn games, and warm fall drinks – and we are referring to the baby using the moniker, Baby Frankie.

It has taken many months for my coming role as a mother to really settle in for me.  Perhaps it is the constant kicking in my belly, or the fact that the shower we plotted out months ago is finally here, or the fact that my maternity clothes are actually a NECESSITY now, but the reality of our coming baby is beginning to hit me in the most pleasant way!  Rather than fretting over how to manage this new variable in our lives, I am softening into daydreams of snuggling with a little newborn, breastfeeding, and sharing all the special moments that happen when a new life is created.  (As I typed that, I thought to myself that the me from a few years ago would have gagged a bit at the mushiness of that sentence, but that was before the influx of hormones that makes me gaze adoringly at babies and want to stroke their soft little baby skin.)  I’ll just go ahead and admit it now: I am going to be an obnoxious mom.  My poor child, like everything I love, will have the scars to prove my attachment.  Of that, I’m sure.  I love hard, and leave marks – physical and otherwise.  Just ask my stuffed animals, my husband, any former love, and my family.  But, loving hard can’t be all bad.  My puppy misses the smell of my feet, so I can only assume she loves me hard right back!

The last blessing I want to talk about today is the blessing of health.  I have watched with alternating fascination and horror as my body has changed with pregnancy.  I’ve talked about it plenty here.  My thighs, oh my thighs!  What are these things I once knew as my muscular legs?  Hah.  I remind myself that they are blessings too.  I have health, wellness, and a body that is supporting me well as I grow a tiny hew human.  Sure, I occasionally feel tired, or my feet hurt, but overall I have been blessed with health through this pregnancy (with the exception of a wildly under active thyroid for a bit there…).  I have read several books on pregnancy and birth, all of which encourage a certain reverence for the wonders of the female body’s ability to create and support life.  On an intellectual level I completely get that, but I am working to understand that in my day-to-day reality as I see myself in the mirror and feel shocked by the belly that juts out in front of me.  I reflect daily on the challenge of labor and what will be required of my body to birth and support a child.  Then I look at my hips and thighs with a new admiration.  These  “maternal stores” come with the territory as my body becomes a life-giving machine.  I am beginning to recognize that the hips, which I have often joked would never be able to birth a child unless I starved the thing, are now preparing to do that.  My frame is small, and it is entirely focused on a single purpose now – allowing the growth, support, and passage of a baby. Wow.  That is wild stuff.

Anyway, if you have made it to this point in my very long blog post, I am impressed with your curiosity and perseverance.  I have many other blessings, which I suppose I should reserve for another post.  I will close by acknowledging the many sources of love and support in my life that give me the confidence and security to embrace this new direction in my life.  Thank you!

Banff

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Beautiful Banff, AB!!!

My job is pretty cool.  I may have grey hair earlier in life than most as a result of it, but it’s cool.  I think it is worth it, and important, to do work that matters.

As I stare down a future filled with decisions about maintaining a balance between raising a family and working, I know that work will have a place in my life.  Why?  Because I love working.  I love interacting with adults over things that require I use my brain.  I like thinking strategically and considering ways to work smarter, better, and more effectively.  I like being around smart people who are trying to make the world around us work.

And, I like going to places like Banff.

This week my work has taken me to Canada, one of my ultimate favorite places in the world.  It’s exciting and I’m having a great time, plus it affords me a chance to slip away to scenic spots like you will see in the pictures below (all of which came from my cracked and touch-screen challenged droid.  It’s so pretty that even that obnoxious piece of technology couldn’t obscure it.)

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My traveling companion, Baby Frankie.

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Moraine Lake, near Lake Louise. Amazing glacial lakes!

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Another great view of Moraine Lake.

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From the rock pile (moraine) at the end of Moraine Lake, looking down the lake.

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On the drive from Banff to Lake Louise – this is where I began plotting my next bike tour!

Max and Eitan – A Love Story in a Converted School Bus Down by the River

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Antonias Gaze – Max and Eitan

So, let’s talk about engagement photo sessions.  When did they become a thing?  Or have people always roped their significant others into finding complimentary outfits, wrapping themselves in homemade quilts, and gleefully embracing at sunset and I somehow missed it?

When Rick and I got engaged we were, let’s call it “frugal.”  We needed something for a Save the Date, so we roped in our talented friend, Bec, at Miss Bakes into taking some incredible photos for us down in Byron Bay.  It was ideal because Bec wouldn’t have dreamed of making us pay her for her incredible skills (though we did shell what we could at her), there was beer, there were surfboards, there were dolphins, and Bec and I outnumbered Rick and forcibly made him hold a string of origami hearts.  Had this last part never happened, I would not be entirely convinced of his love and we might not be where we are today.  It was demoralizing and demeaning to Rick.  I rolled up his pant legs and forced him to be photographed with calves exposed while gallivanting in the surf.  I am a horrible woman who enjoyed myself thoroughly at his expense.  So in many ways it was a typical engagement photo shoot. But yet, I am not convinced it was the normal deal.  I left with too much of a buzz.  And I think they should all go like this.  So, I offered to help a sister (mine) out for the day and aided in the torture and abuse of her fiancé for the sake of some adorable photos.  So, without further ado, I present to you: Max and Eitan – A Love Story in a Converted School Bus by the River.

As a prelude, I have been without camera for a few months recently.  I cracked the LCD display on my DSLR and it petered along for awhile before going belly-up on me.  I was planning to replace or repair it, but hadn’t sufficient motivation.  Then two things changed: 1) I got pregnant, and 2) my sister needed engagement photos for a Save the Date — a match made in consumerist heaven.  I bought myself a new (refurbished) upgrade Nikon D5200 and was back in happy photo land.  Now I can happily document mild photographic spousal abuse and what will soon be my cherubic fetus/infant/toddler/terrible two-year-old.  It will be glorious.

So, back to Max and Eitan.  I love this couple, mostly because I have to by some sort of familial rules, but also because they  manage to keep me interested with their antics. They went to high school together.  Back then, Eitan had a big mop of curly blond hair, which my sister was drawn to in the way that sophomore girls are drawn to exciting senior boys with wild, untamed locks.  She pined over him from afar back then, and it wasn’t until much later that they were able to connect and learn that Eitan had a serious weakness for freckles, and that they both really, really, really like dogs.  So they went rafting together.  It was a fateful trip.  Max dislocated her shoulder and Eitan lost his keys and his dog got attacked.  Then Max missed her flight home.  So they hung out some more.  And so it began…

They have rafted the Grand Canyon, lived in a converted school bus, and been ski bums.  Now they embark on an entirely more adult journey… marriage!

Let’s see whether they can pull of looking adult and in love for 45 minutes in their back yard:

Max and Eitan

Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

So far, so good!

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Antonia’s Gaze- Max and Eitan

Questionable amounts of tongue.

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Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

Looking fairly presentable for a couple that sleeps in a school bus by the river.

Silverthorne Engagement Session

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Cute!  

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Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

Ok.  This is pretty stellar.

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Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

Some pretty good stuff from these two.  They may transition to a career in modeling PFDs or paco pads.

But wait…

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Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

 Did someone mention sandwiches?  Eitan is so hungry!

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Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

 Help!  Max is trapped in this tree.  Eitan offers her flowers, but no help getting down.

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Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

She finds her way down and into a forest-themed re-creation of “American Gothic”.

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Antonia’s Gaze- Max and Eitan

The session slowly unravels. Eitan uses local hardware to open a bottle of cider.  Max finds protective glasses to match her vest.  She looks meaningfully into the camera.

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Antonia’s Gaze – Max and Eitan

The session ends abruptly as Eitan and Max walk off into the sunset to get sandwiches.  Eitan tips me for my time and effort in his own unique way.  We all live happily ever after.

Can’t wait for the wedding!

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes…

Check. Check. Check. And, check.

I don’t normally take the time to post two days in a row, but today was pretty fun and I wanted to share just a few bits of it.  Frankie made an appearance during our ultrasound visit and was very cooperative with the doctor and technician so we got to see all the goods – except the ones we didn’t want to see!

He/she has all the standard parts, which was great news.  He/she was moving around and showing off too.  We were fascinated to see the way his/her skeletal little frame moved and operated of its own accord.  Honestly, as my friend Jess was just saying to me this weekend, people think that as a woman you should be more prepared for the feelings that come with pregnancy – but my thought the whole time was “Holy shit!  That thing is inside me!”

We had one revealing moment where the baby put it’s hand against the wall of my uterus, so we could see its whole bone structure and there was no doubt that the hand was Rick’s.  He has engineer hands – square and straight across the fingers.  I have very differently shaped hands, and the hands we saw looked nothing like mine.  I smiled a bit, thinking of the saying “never marry a man unless you would like to have a son (or daughter) just like him.”  I was happy to see Rick’s hands come through loud and clear.  Hopefully Baby Frankie will take on some of his other qualities too.

We also had a chance to finally see the birthing units at the hospital we are probably going to use.  I had to say that I was not particularly excited.  The nurses were awesome and so helpful and friendly, but the bottom line is that I hate the feel of hospitals and this was hardly different, even though they try to make the rooms comfortable and cozy and do a lot to accommodate those who don’t want to feel like they are in a hospital.  I like that there are jacuzzi baths, squat bars, birth balls, and all sorts of other helpful tools, but I don’t know…  it’s not quite the birth experience I am envisioning in my head. I think for me, perhaps a lot of reading about home birth early on has shaped my judgments. There was not a lot of natural light, and all the machinery felt stifling. Birth seems like something that is so sacred and should happen in a place that feels comfortable and safe and peaceful. I think I will have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to feel that way about the birthing units at Rose – though they really are nice.  While I think home birth is something I would love and may want at some point, I think for the first time around I might want to go a more traditional route.  It’s hard to say and based on today’s visit I will have some real thinking to do on the matter.

The Remains of the Day

I sit here late in the evening wondering at where my day went. I listen to the intermittent buzz of my phone as I exchange text messages from Rick. He is camping in the mountains of Washington with our puppy, Adelaide.  It makes for a quiet night at home in Denver with the two of them gone.  But, a quiet night is sometimes just what one needs.  I met my coworkers for a quick drink, came home and made granola, talked for hours with my Grandpa and my sister, and now after weeks of not writing I’m sitting here making an entry in my blog.

Some changes are afoot for me now.  Many are quite apparent – settling into a new city and a new job, finding the balance in life as a married couple, navigating the working world after several months away.  Others manifest in more subtle ways, leaving me re-envisioning my life and considering my future.  Some are existential, and cause mostly a change in outlook.  Some are physical too. There is much on my mind, and though I’m being elusive in my writing, the matters will almost certainly come into clearer view here in the coming weeks.  Til then, I will couch my meanings in vagueries.

Last week marked a year since I lost my Grandma.  It made for a lot of tears.  In many ways the year went quickly.  We have all been so busy and life moves fast. Many important changes have occurred in my life.  My Grandma’s absence has become all the more noticeable and poignant in light of them.  I married the love of my life and the person who makes me feel whole and complete.  We settled down, and we are taking important steps forward in our lives together.  I wish she could witness that. I wish she could see my sister and her fiancé building and planning their lives together.  I wish she could see the resilience of my other sister as she navigates some difficult challenges in her professional world.  I wish she could be here as  a sounding board, a source of humor, and the vessel for the wonderful and playful spirit she was. I miss her so much.  I recognized that I have been treating her absence in my mind as a temporary condition.   I’m sure it was a coping mechanism.  However, when the one-year mark arrived, the permanence of her absence really hit me deep in my heart. I was so blessed to have her for as long as I did.  I know that. But, I wish I had just a bit more of her.

As I look forward, I try hard to channel some of her strength and her toughness to help me plot a course for the next few months of my life.  I know I’ll need strength and tenacity. I like to think that I have a secret weapon on my side to help me garner those things. Mostly, though, I try to channel the really unconditional love she had for her family and know that it’s out there for me to tap into when I need it most.  I have needed a lot of it lately and I am certain I will need it going forward.

I know this is a bit of a sad post. Though there are many happy things to write about, I hope to focus on them in my next post.  For today, however, I want to recognize the hole left by my Grandma’s loss and to make it known that time and distance from the moment we lost her have not dulled my heartache.  I miss her and I love her.

 

Windshield Time

I spent four hours today staring through a windshield.  I have a friend who travels a lot for work who calls this “windshield time” and I like the phrase.  It’s a contemplative time, but one that allows for multitasking  – namely moving from one point to another while thinking or talking.  Today our point A was Fruita, Colorado – an adorable town on the western edge of the state.  Our point B was Denver.  So our morning was spent traversing the state, quietly, together with Adelaide in the back seat – her eyes fluttering in and out of sleep.  We were all contemplative – Rick was doing some reading for school, Adelaide was dreaming (I imagine)  about the pasture she in which she woke this morning, with purple wildflowers and heavy dew shimmering in the early light of morning.  I was listening to “Going Driftless: An Artist’s Tribute to Greg Brown” and staring out at the buttes and mesas of Western Colorado, to the twang of a slide guitar, contemplating the trajectory of our lives.

Tomorrow I start a job that I am thrilled about.  It is a unique and special opportunity and I’m very thankful that the stars aligned for my resume to fall into the hands of the right person who could offer me a chance to combine my background in natural resources with a stronger communications role and an opportunity to be at the cutting edge of natural resource conflicts.  I am thrilled to begin a new chapter, and to take a slightly different angle to the natural resources issues I have been working on for several years now.  I cannot wait.

That said, it is sad in many ways to bring this past six months of transition to a close.  Since we left our jobs in Brisbane, Rick and I have travelled throughout much of Australia, moved back home to the United States, travelled the country searching for the right place for us to settle long-term, spent time abroad, and after much deliberation, some drama, and a bit of soul-searching we found ourselves right back where our story began in Denver.

After much contemplation, our perfect path was the one of least resistance and the one that led us to unpack our boxes in a peach stucco home flanked by flowering cherry trees in Lincoln Park.  And in settling here, we opened so many new doors – jobs, a home to expand in, and an opportunity to look at each other and be thankful for our many blessings.

So, this morning I was reflecting on everything that brought us to this point, and I won’t lie, I did a bit of happy crying.  As I steered our way back and forth over the frothy brown Colorado River, under the watchful sentinels of the rust-colored buttes, through Glenwood Canyon and on I-70 into the snowcapped peaks of Summit County, the light from the east cast shadows over the dusty slabs of mesa and snowcapped mountains in the distance.  Rick and I reminded ourselves to never become immune to the beauty of this place we live.

So often as I drive I listen to music, really listen, and try to take in a timely message and there were so many today – Greg Brown’s songs are raw and raw was in perfect tune with my heart today.  Raw and joyful.  We are burgeoning into a new phase of life together and so many small changes are happening daily that indicate we are in the right place and doing the right things for ourselves.  This morning we woke in a three person tent in a dewy field with our puppy snuggling between us. We all grinned and murmured in the orange light of sunrise knowing our first night camping back in Colorado (with puppy) was a success. Tomorrow I begin a new job and Rick begins the hunt for teaching roles – a whole new ballgame for him.  Our lives which have felt so in flux are finally setting down roots.

If gratitude ever gets old on this blog I am sorry, but I have never felt more blessed than over the last week.  Thank you for sharing it with me.

 

Home

We have a home!  I am sure you’re all aware that this has been a difficult slog of rootlessness for me.  But, after a bit of deliberation, and a LOT of work, Rick and I decided to make his old bachelor pad into OUR home in Denver.  

I think it was hard for him to re-envision the home he’s owned for seven years and lived in with all of his friends as OUR place.  But, I am honestly thrilled he came around to this idea.  The house is huge, beautiful and historic, within walking distance of downtown Denver where I’ll be working, within walking distance of a grocery store and a park, there’s a dog friendly brewery down the road, we have other friends in the neighborhood, it has a fenced yard for Adelaide, and we can walk a couple minutes to the light rail.  In many ways this is our ideal place.  It has hardwood floors, exposed brick, a huge back patio, and a fireplace.  The chances of us finding all these things in a new house or a rental were slim – and with a little time and a lot of energy the house has begun to look like ours.  Rick’s mom helped us a LOT by painting almost the entire inside of the house, we just got new carpeting, and now that we have unpacked our furniture, and (finally) opened up our wedding presents the place is beginning to feel like home.

I am so beyond thrilled to be back in Denver, but also to be settling into a home with Rick that we know will be ours for some time.  As I sit writing this in our bedroom I’m awash in sunlight from the afternoon sun, which warms up the room and casts a pinkish light across the cherrywood floors and brick walls.  I am looking at the cherry tree outside our window and counting the days until it blooms in a delicate pink like it did when we were first dating in his city, four years ago.  I am so in love with life right now.  🙂

Off to a bachelorette party weekend in Breckenridge – another perk of living here!