Monday, March 23, 2015

What I'm Running From

8 miles. 

That's how far I ran on Saturday. 

62 minutes. 

That's how long it took me. 

A long distance to some. 

Short to others. 

Many will say I was fast.  

More will say it was average. 

I do it because I love it. 

I do it because I need it. 

When I got home, I mentioned something about it on "The Facebook" and received a variety of responses. 

The one that stood out to me most was written by my reliably funny friend, Oliver, wherein he asked, "What were you running from? Zat is ze real question."

And I've pondered this question. 

For 2 days now the answer has come immediately and clearly--

From Myself. 

Always from myself. 

Running from my fears

My insecurities

My grief

My pain

My mistakes


Nothing is as dangerous to me as myself

But for the past 2 minutes another answer crept into my conscious. 

I don't think I'm running FROM anything. 

I'm running TOWARD something. 


Mental stability




Love of self

For so many years I've looked at my runs and my walks and hikes and bike rides and dances and ski trips as running away from my life. 

Away from my troubles. 

Away from my worries. 

Away from myself. 

I've either turned a corner or put on new sunglasses, because I don't think I'm running away anymore. I'm running toward. 

And it feels good. 

It feels right. 

I'm not afraid. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sibling Love

The older my children get, the greater my desire to see them interact with their deceased older sister. I've mentioned before how I often find myself wondering things like, "Would Peter have better behavior if Lucy were here leading the way, setting an example?" I worry that Zoë isn't learning gentleness or other things that only an older sister can teach you...and it pains me deeply when I think of the relationship she is missing out on with her sister. I can only hope that as she grows up, she'll have beautiful friendships with other women and girls who will treat her like a sister.

But I have to say, the bond between these two clowns is pretty remarkable. Even my friend's notice and make comments about how sweet they are with each other. (Not 100% of the time, of course).

Just today, when Zoë got upset while we were out running errands, she cried to me that she just wanted her brother, Peter.

I could be wrong, and I'm sure there are studies out there somewhere, but it seems that living children of parent's who have lost a child have a unique relationship. I've received several emails and been told stories from several people about the love they have for and connection they have with their deceased sibling, even if they'd never met them. I'm so glad my children have a very personal and real frame of reference when it comes to death. I'm glad it is a subject we talk openly about in our home.

As they continue to grow and progress, it will be interesting to see how their relationship changes and develops. How much will they think about Lucy? How much will they wonder, just as I do, how their lives would be different with her here? Will Peter and Zoë remain best of friends? I don't know what it's like to have only one other sibling, as well as them to be of the opposite gender. But I have high hopes they'll continue to have a special bond.

Oh, how I love all three of my munchkins.

She was so worn out from skiing that she fell asleep at El Chubasco. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What Life Is Really About

Zoë is sick today. It's 11:30 a.m. and she's still sleeping.  Daddy and Peter are at church and I have been using my time working on a VERY exciting project that involves my blog. Getting this project going means reading through every single blog post I've ever written and copying and pasting a lot of the material. It has been an intense and wonderful experience for me. 

In doing so, I ran across a link to this beautiful story that my sister wrote, but that I never published on my blog. I do so now, with the hopes that you'll take time to read it. It has me in tears while also feeling so much peace. 

Spring is coming. Hope is returning. Flowers are peeking up through the ground and I'm reminded so clearly what life is truly about. 

Thank you, Amy, for writing this so beautifully almost 7 years ago. I love you. (scroll down to read her story)

Dear Lucy,

Wednesday was the day after your funeral. We'd been up late on Tuesday, after the beautiful service, watching videos of you. I tried to sleep that night, but I kept seeing you bouncing in that Johnny Jumper, eyes full of light, curls wrapping around your little head as you twisted and squealed. I kept hearing Molly, your mommy's, voice during those videos. Any mother knows the voice. It is the voice that can only come from a mother's mouth. The voice is gentle, but delighted--seeing something in her child that only she can see. No matter how much you love someone else's child, even your sister's child, your voice will never sound like that. In the end, I suppose, it is the voice of wonder and admiration, both at your child, and at yourself for creating her. 

After that sleepless night I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to shower and get to the airport. I struggled with my feelings; pained that I had to leave your mom in her time of greatest need and elated that I would be reunited with Jack, who I hadn't seen in almost 10 days. I also had another feeling, the unmistakable symptoms of the flu. As Chad, myself, your uncle Nathan and his fiancee Marie loaded ourselves in the car in the darkness of the early morning, the birds in the mountains of Park City where your mom and dad live were already singing. It took one last look at their front porch, lovingly decorated with pink and purple bows and full to the brim with flowers of every kind, and we pulled away. 

Because Nana and I had to fly to Utah so unexpectedly after hearing about your accident, we flew standby, thanks to the generosity of a friend of Nana's. That meant I was flying standby on the way home to Michigan as well. I had great luck on the first leg. I got from Salt Lake to Phoenix on the first flight and I had an entire row to myself. I stretched out and slept, holding off my flu symptoms for the time being. I knew the next flight to Detroit was booked, but I prayed and prayed and prayed that I could get on. My flu was now in full swing, this flight would put me in Detroit within minutes of Chad's arrival, and it would give me time to try to sleep for the first time in three nights. My heart soared when the amplified voice of the U.S. Air desk agent called my name, the last of the standby passengers she called, and gave me a boarding pass. Sure, it was a middle seat, but I didn't care if they had put me in the bathroom, I had a seat! As soon as I'd settled in and called my mother-in-law who been watching Jack to tell her the good news, a flight attendant came toward me, looking straight in my eyes. "I"m sorry," she said. "We are going to have to ask you to leave the plane. Someone with a ticket but without a seat assignment arrived late." I started crying immediately. I tried to leave the plane, but people were still boarding, so I had to go to the back of the plane and wait for everyone to get on. I broke down. The flight attendants tried to console me with Diet Pepsi, but I was beyond consolation. 

I finally left the plane, my entire body aching to hold Jack, and my heart aching even more thinking of your mom's longing to hold you again. I felt sorry for myself, I'll admit it. I sat in a chair as the boarding area cleared, pulling myself together, but just barely. I saw a woman sitting in a wheelchair, alone, near the now closed boarding door. As I got up to make my way to the gate for the next flight to Detroit, I heard this woman in the wheelchair ask an airline employee if there was something to eat nearby. The employee, who was just getting off duty, basically dismissed her, explaining, "There may be something down this way, I'm not sure." I hesitated, I admit it. I think at another time in my life, before I felt weighed down with what I considered my own burdens, I would not have hesitated. I would have simply asked her what I could do to help. In fact, I distinctly remember helping a woman in airport once when I was flying alone as a minor. But that part of me, the part on a constant lookout for how to help others, even, or especially, strangers, has been buried. Your death, and the subsequent outpouring of love (which seems an inadequate word for what I saw and heard), unearthed this feeling again. I went to this woman, Joyce, introduced myself, and asked her if I could go and get her something to eat. She was thrilled and my heart soared seeing her response. 

Returning with her meal, we conversed briefly about hoping to get on the next flight to Detroit. I left to take a nap and saw her again as I approached the new departure gate. I lifted my crossed fingers in a "I hope we both get on this flight" signal. We sat in stunned silence as a seemingly unending crowd boarded the flight. Not a single standby passenger was called. Now there was time for a real conversation--the next flight to Detroit wasn't scheduled to leave for over six hours. She told me what she would be missing if she didn't make this flight: a commemoration of the death of her son 13 years ago who died at age 13. He was born with spina bifidia, along with a host of other physical and mental disabilities. She spent 13 years of her life in the hospital caring for him. She was so excited to share all the details with me about his funeral 13 years ago--how doctors who had cared for him flew in from around the world, how many tears and laughs were shared, all the bouquets of balloons that decorated the church. He knew death was coming, so he had it all planned out, right down to what he would wear. He told his mom that he would "go out with a bang." She realized when he died, just after midnight, that it was Memorial Day and that many guns would be fired that day in honor of those who died. She said she laughed right out loud sitting there next to him. People thought she was crazy, but she found so much joy and comfort in that thought. And if she didn't make this flight she would miss this celebration of his life and commemoration of his passing! We talked more. She told me about what she called "a few other struggles" she'd had: two strokes, caring for her mother with cancer who was still alive, her husband leaving her recently with no warning but a text message, her sister being murdered and leaving Joyce to raise her three children, and more. I just listened and listened. There wasn't a note of self-pity in her voice, just an explanation of what her life had been like. At some point we stopped talking and I just looked at her and said, "Your life has been so full of grief. I hope you've had some joy." With no hesitation, none whatsoever, she replied, "Oh, Amy. I've had much more joy that I've had grief." She must find joy in every day, in every breath, in every tree, in every person's eyes to tip the scales to the side of happiness after having so many struggles, but it was apparent that this was exactly what she did. She took a few phone calls from her family in Detroit, desperate to know when she would arrive, and she told them about "the nice lady named Amy from Ann Arbor who is taking care of me." 

I visited the airline desk a couple of times during this six plus hours and I knew that I was much higher on the standby list than Joyce was. This final flight of the day, set to arrive at 1:30 a.m. Detroit time, was her only hope to be a part of this celebration. I made up my mind, though it wasn't easy, that I would give up my seat for her if it came to that. I was still sick, still tired, still full of strange mix of sorrow and happiness, but I felt so peaceful about it. When the flight began to board, they called my name. I told them that I would wait to board until I knew Joyce's status. I waited and waited. I didn't want to stay the night in Phoenix, don't get me wrong, but I knew that it was what I was suppose to do. What your accident had taught me. What the Lord would do. At the last minute they called her name and we yelled out in joy! We walked on the plane together (well, technically, I pushed her on the plane). I talked the flight attendant into upgrading her to first class since there was an empty seat there (the only one on the plane) and otherwise she'd have to hobble herself all the way to the back row without the help of her wheelchair. 

Thank you, Lucy. My life is changed because of you. It isn't this experience that is necessarily important, but the change in me that it represents. I have so far to go, but I'll get there. Thank you again, Lucy. I love you. 

Aunt Amy

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dreams of a different kind

I have been changed for good. I am composing this blog post entirely using talk to text on my new iPhone six. Is this the way of the future? Consider this a conversation between the two of us. I'm just jabbering away. (Thanks for being such a great listener).

I've noticed a trend that when I am home alone at night, (meaning without Vic), I get very sentimental and take time to think about my life. I know my last blog was about my birthday, but honestly, getting older has been on the forefront of my mind these days. So let's talk about it, shall we?

It's hard to see yourself age. It's hard to let go of life dreams you once had. I know I've blogged about this before, but the first few years after Lucy died, I was obsessed with getting older. I just wanted to be 85 and near the end of my life. I envied old people so much. With such a wonderful reunion to look forward to on the other side, I didn't fear getting older. "They've made it! They endured to the end and they get to go home soon. I'm so jealous." I saw aging in a whole new light and didn't fear it like I had before.

But things have changed. It's been almost SEVEN years since Lucy's passing. SEVEN. YEARS. I don't even know what to do with that fact. My mind doesn't even know where to begin processing that. For the most part, I have fallen back into my old ways of thinking about aging--that I don't want to. I don't want to look older, I don't want to lose my pizazz and zip for life. I still want to fulfill my dream of performing on Broadway, traveling the world, going to grad school, singing with a band, writing a book. So many dreams.

I've been in a bit of a rut lately. I'm not depressed, but I'm feeling awfully BLAH. I was able to perform and attend a reunion at BYU for the Music/Dance/Theatre department that I graduated from. It was so much fun to be a college kid again for two days. All of my burdens vanished and I had constant fun chatting with old friends, making new ones, singing my heart out on stage, staying up late at parties. It was almost too good to be true. Ever since then, I've had a hard time adjusting back to my real life.

This is not to say that I would prefer a carefree life of nothing but socializing and partying, but when you are given a chance to go back in time and taste that again, it is awfully hard to set those heart-racing, exciting times aside and get down in the trenches with dishes and diapers again.

All these thoughts about what I want, what I've always dreamed of, and how to accept my aging self and do so gracefully, lead me to a memory of standing in Susan Hale's kitchen. Susan is a dear friend of ours in Park City who is busy raising 5 kids of her own. I was watching her make homemade bread in her kitchen one day a few years ago. We were talking about the challenges of parenthood and life in general when she turned to me and said, "There finally came a point in my life where I realized that instead of focusing on making my dreams come true, my job was to help others make their dreams come true." Of course she was referring mainly to her kids, and that thought has always stuck with me.

I don't ever plan on giving up entirely on my dreams or on improving myself, but I absolutely know that there can be great (if not GREATER) satisfaction in seeing my children's dreams come true than in chasing my own. So though I'm aging (like every living thing does), and though time is speeding by like a subway train, I am trying to accept and embrace this turning point--that my new dream is to make others' dreams come true.

These are the times, the dreams I want to remember...

(the video is long. I won't be offended if you don't watch it. But I know the grandparent's will love it. Also--Zoë might be too cute for you to handle so carry on). 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On the Eve of My Birth

Hello internet land. It's been a while.

I don't have much to say and yet I have far too much to say. Thus, the blog drought of twenty 15. (Twenty 15? Why is she spelling out half the year like that? Why not do it all in numbers?). Welp, my children spilled a large quantity of milk all over and INSIDE my laptop. I took it the dodgiest of places to have it repaired. It looked like a Meth house. It was this random residence on Redwood Road, with a small sign out front, all the blinds drawn, and no parking to speak of. But hey, they "fixed it" for $150 as opposed to $700 at the Apple Store. The only downside to the work performed by this shady operation is that my number TWO on my keyboard does not work. The number Two key also happens to be the AT sign that's needed when typing an email addresses. It's beginning to be a problem.

But back to business here--It's my birthday tomorrow. (It's actually my birthday TODAY, Feb. 10th. I wrote this last night but didn't publish it/finish it until this morning). And I've had a very rare and lovely weekend to reflect and brace myself as I enter my 38th year of life. (Not to be interpreted as me TURNING 38. Nay, I'm turning the ripe age of 37). I was able to spend the entire day Saturday with several friends, both old and new, as we rehearsed and performed in a fundraising performance in Orem. It fed my soul a thousand times over. When I returned from my long day away, I found that Vic had cleaned the house from top to bottom. Every last stitch of laundry was done, every towel folded, the toilets and tubs and showers cleaned, fresh linens on the beds, all the dishes was a DREAM.

Yesterday, I wasn't feeling well (I've been fighting a cold for almost a week now) and stayed in bed most of the day while Vic cooked and played with the kids and baked and decorated a birthday cake with Peter for me. I read, took a long nap, and basked in the luxuriousness of doing NOTHING.

And thus we see what I mean by a rare weekend with time to reflect and prepare for the coming year. Zoë is in bed nice and early and I'm sitting here typing in bed while the boys work on a birthday present for me. Lucky am I? I absolutely think so.

So here's my list of things I've learned in my 37 years on this planet:

-Binge watching shows on Netflix is one of my true passions.
-If you watch too many episodes of "Parenthood" it will make you want another baby
-I love people
-I might not ever be as thin and strong and fast as I once was, but I need to write a sad poem in my journal about it and move on.
-Follow your passions
-Eat well and exercise
-Listen to your heart
-Be gentle with yourself
-EVERYONE has a story. Be kind. Learn their story. Open up and share. Make a new friend.
-Kindness matters more than anything. Really.
-Life is short.
-I'm short
-Things will work out
-I really don't have a list of profound lessons I've learned in my 37 years of life but felt like it would make a good blog post but now that I'm writing it I've got few things to work with.
-Oh, and family really is everything. Family and Kindness.

I used to need to express my thoughts and my heart to the world after Lucy died. It was far too big a burden to bear alone. I needed constant expression and analyzing and support and therapy. And my soul was so torn that my words were so raw and beautiful. Now I feel like I'm just in the trenches of motherhood, I've healed SIGNIFICANTLY and my constant need to emote and process has greatly diminished. What's left is my day to day dealings with my adorable kids and my occasional adventures.

Which I guess does lead me to one very significant lesson I've learned (am learning)--to embrace the everyday mundane. It's beautiful. You are here. You have a body. You have loved ones around you ( I hope). You are breathing and learning and alive. Your life doesn't have to be grand. You don't have to be famous or rich or popular to be "successful". You are you and you influence in small but significant ways. You are important to a small circle, needed by just a few, and that small circle is a strong and steady force. It's a force for good. A force of love. Nurture those relationships closest to you and don't waste too much time and energy seeking praise and adoration from the outside world.

You are enough. Improve yourself, make good choices, but love yourself. And every time you are kind, people are changed. Always be kind.

Now that I'm done lecturing myself, it's time to celebrate ME and all the beauty and love in my life. (That means responding to each individual birthday wish on Facebook, text, email...because people and friendships are the beauty in my life that I speak of.) Thanks for listening to me give myself a pep talk for my birthday. xoxo

Monday, January 12, 2015

Broken Branches

Yesterday was a typical Sunday. Fight with the kids to get them dressed and out the door on time, hope that one of the teenagers in my Sunday school class got something out of the lesson, try my best not to feel guilty letting Peter watch cartoons on Netflix while Vic and I take a nap, then finally get the blasted Marble Mania Mine Shaft 2.0 up and running. (It's a huge hit!)

After naps, marble fun, and heaping bowls of Chinese chicken salad, we decided it was a good time to finally take some extremely belated Christmas gifts over to Florence and her family. Vic had a winter coat to give her husband, a Target gift card, some chocolates, and a few other items. Before pulling out of the driveway, Peter realized we didn't have gifts for their two young boys (same ages as my kids). He ran into the house, got 2 Hotwheels cars (they were still in boxes as part of our "Family Store"--a behavior/reward system we do) for Glory (the 6 yr. old) and found 2 chunkier car toys for Glory's little brother. (I can't remember how to spell his name).

As Peter and I walked to their apartment in the rain, he told me his tummy felt tickley. He was nervous, as he'd only met these boys one time and heard stories about how difficult their life in Congo and Botswana were. But he marched right in, handed the toys to Glory and his brother, then proceeded to demonstrate how to "make them go fast!"

We had a short visit and ran back to the car to join Zoë and Daddy. None of this was particularly a big deal. But on the drive home, while listening to the radio, Cherie Call's song, "Family Tree" began playing. It was dark out, the rain was falling steadily, and the kids quieted in the backseat for the first time all day.

Vic and I sat in silence while we listened to the lyrics. Cherie is a brilliant song writer and lyricist. And this song happens to be my very favorite. My dad shared it with me (because Cherie's husband had shared it with him) during a time when my parents were separated. It not only applies to couples and families of divorce, but I found great meaning in it for me, having lost my Lucy. In it, Cherie sings about the broken branches of a family tree. The imagery is presented so perfectly.

Of course it reminded me of the night Cherie sang it at my benefit concert for A Good Grief. It brought to mind so many things. 1) How happy it made me to see Peter voluntarily give some of his toys to these boys in need and how beautiful it is to see the way this family has triumphed over extreme difficulty and are finally together in a safe place, learning and growing together. 2) How happy I am that my parents are back together, thriving on their mission in Russia/Eastern Europe and how much I learned and grew closer to my family during their separation. 3) How many people, some just Facebook acquaintances, but others dear friends, are going through, or recently went through a divorce. How much I wish they could hear this song and feel of my love for them. 4) Lucy. My kids. How thankful I am that they talk of her, recognize her in photos, include her in prayers...but how I wish and wonder about her still being here with us.  5) That it's time for me to do another benefit concert.

I squeezed Vic's hand and said a little prayer of thanks as well as asking for strength and guidance as I continue raising my family. I thought of so many, many things. So many people I love, so much abundance, as well as fear. But what made it all the sweeter, was that these thoughts, this moment in the winter rain, was underscored by this beautiful piece of music.

"And in the end I don't know how it will all be sorted out. All I know is that the circle won't be broken. There will be hands to hold. And there will be love unfeigned. And it will bridge the gaps between all things we can't explain."

I hope you'll come to my next concert. And I hope you'll find the comfort this song has to offer. God will mend the broken branches of His family tree. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Go Ahead and Pin This

We had a wonderful, exhausting, fun-filled Christmas vacation. Vic wasn't able to take as much time off of work as we would have liked, but we still managed to get a lot of quality time in with the kiddos, Vic's family (all but one of his siblings came to Utah), and then my parents who came from Russia for a visit!

We held our famous annual gingerbread competition (more on that later), ate far too much food, and had a great time watching the cousins play (and fight). But the highlight, for me, was one of the gifts Vic gave me.

Amongst the wrapping paper chaos, Zoë lying sickly and out of energy on the couch (the poor girl has an abscessed tooth and has to have surgery this week!) he waited until the end of the unwrapping fanfare and handed me this folder but told me I couldn't flip through it yet. He then got out a little brown scroll (we wrap all of our presents in brown paper) and read/sang a poem to the tune, "The 12 Days of Christmas" that he had written, that coincided with each date he had planned.

He might kill me for telling you this, but he cried as he reached the end of the poem. I was so touched and excited by this gift, I brought it to his parent's home later Christmas Day so I could show them. I admit I also choked up while reading it. And again when I read it to my parents. If you're lucky, I'll read/cry it to you someday. 

The work of marriage can feel awfully heavy at times. I've said it before, that Vic and I have some pretty major differences, yet, we really do enjoy being together and having adventures. The mutual love we have for our children is limitless. Personally, I think we are a pretty fantastic couple. Yet, he has to forgive me for my mistakes and shortcomings over and over and deal with my general insanity.  To me, this gift was telling me, "I'm still trying. I'm still in this. I still want to have fun with you and make you happy and enjoy our time together. I love you." And no one can ever hear or feel those words too much. I mean...the little drawings! The Groupons and coupons and classes. It's perfect. 

You can go ahead and pin it now. --Ahhh, crap. I just realized that no man or husband is ever going to see it if it's on Pinterest. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Catch Me

It's been 3 weeks since "Catch Me if You Can" closed. It was such a great experience. For those of you who missed it, here are a few photos from the wonderful mayhem.

As always, a huge thank you to Vic for holding down the fort with the kids so I could do another show. I made new friends, danced my butt off, and just felt the absolute joy that I always do when I'm on stage with fellow crazies. I wish I had the time and energy to share all the details of my experience...the letter we got from Frank Abignale, himself!, the unexpected wedding proposal closing night (no one proposed to was Keith, our lead actor, who proposed to my sweet and wonderful friend, Adrianne--a fellow dancer), the kindness, the friendships, the hard work, sweat, and tears. It all added up to an unforgettable show.

More photos below--

(the entire story behind this couple is beautiful and unique...I'm so happy for them!)

Up next: It's time to sign up for a triathlon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

$100 Target Gift Card Giveaway!

Listen up! You may have seen this same giveaway two weeks ago on my Facebook page (the winner from the Facebook contest was already chosen and notified), but now we are doing the same giveaway on ye old blog.

It's super fast and easy AND it is helping children. How is taking a survey (9 questions) helping children? Let me explain: There is a fantastic woman named Karla Jay who specializes in children with learning disabilities. Karla runs a school, has written books, and is now launching a new computer program/website where children can play games online to enhance their reading comprehension, sight words, and overall learning abilities.

By leaving your email address at the end of the survey, you are entered into the drawing for a $100 gift card AND you will receive one month free access to her site, "U Can Connect". This program is on the ground level and they need your feedback! Take 2 minutes and answer these questions and you could have an extra $100 to spend at Target. Easy peasy, Lemon squeezy (as Peter says).

Winner will be notified, Sunday, December 21st!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I Totally Forgot

You guys. I've gone weeks and weeks where I have forgotten to blog. Or I've just not wanted to. But this time? I forgot that I even HAVE a blog. Instagram killed the blog star. Amiright?

You want to know what made me remember that I still have this thing? We went to Festival of Trees two nights ago, and among all the amazing gingerbread houses and trees and generous donations to help the families at Primary Children's Medical Center (and the tears), two different darling women stopped me to say hello and that they read my blog. Oh! That's right. I have a blog. I used to write. (Hi, ladies).

It still amazes me/is crazy to me that people read this. I am "that lady who lost her daughter when she choked on an apple." I am that lady who performs and deals with the madness of motherhood and "isn't as profound in real life as you are on your blog". (One of my all-time favorite comments).

My blog isn't fancy or trendy. I don't have the time, energy, or know-how to do cool things with my photos or make things look hip and alluring. I just...enjoy sharing my life. For posterity's sake, for gratitude's sake, for the sake of connecting with my fellow humans and trying to understand myself.

So here I am. Where do I even begin? How about New Mexico? That seems like a reasonable place to start.

We drove 9.5 hours to visit Vic's sister, Joy, in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Thanksgiving. The drive was much less painful than we were anticipating. It was so nice to all be together, singing songs, coloring, talking, eating. Peter was SO excited to see his cousins! Joy has 5 adorable kids and was an incredible hostess. Her cooking was DELICIOUS. We had such a great time.

We took more of the scenic route home, by way of Durango, Colorado, and it was absolutely worth it. I had never been to Durango and it utterly charmed me. The photo above of Zoë looking down at her feet was taken on Durango's main drag. I could have spent the entire day there exploring but we had to get home for my final two shows. I want to go back!

As we drove out of Durango, the sun began to set and I felt so much peace. I thought back on the last time we visited Joy's family in New Mexico. Peter was 8 months old and I was still grieving HEAVILY. I wasn't sleeping. I was so stressed and overwhelmed. It was amazing to me, as I looked out the window, the sun setting over the lake, to realize how far I've come. I talk about this a lot, but it has reason to amaze me. I was truly on the brink of disaster--mental and emotional.

On this vacation I went on several runs, had a great time road biking with Vic and Jason (Joy's husband), ate wonderful food, slept (!), played with my kids at the Explora museum, and didn't experience anxiety. This is a HUGE thing for me. That sunset was the perfect ending to our trip. The kids were playing quietly in the back and Vic and I marveled out loud, again and again, at the beauty we beheld. It was such a simple moment, but the feelings in my heart were so profound and clear. Nothing earth-shattering. Just peace and gratitude and happiness.

My life is an embarrassment of riches. My family. My friends. My opportunities. My health. It is truly humbling and overwhelming at times. I have my daily battles (besides motherhood, my daily internal struggles lately are mostly centered around "what to do with my life" and making money), but I am managing at a level I never thought possible. I ache for my Lucy sweet like my body needs water. But as many people have commented to me lately, "Wow, you are like...alive. And living! And doing things!" Yes. Yes, I am.

And with that, I will crawl into bed and wait for Vic to get home from his boys night out. Welcome back, blog. It felt great to reconnect with you tonight.