Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Mediocre Stall

I've been an avid Everything-ist for a number of years. By this, I mean I have loved climbing and mountain biking and hiking and cooking and playing guitar and triathlons and skiing and yoga and road biking and scrapbooking. All of these things bring joy to my life in various ways. I feel a degree of accomplishment with each of these, too. Every one of these things I have delved into at various points in my life, forsaking all others to focus heavily on one or the other. But soon, my mind wanders to one of the other activities and I begin obsessing about the next wonderful thing.

Once I spend a couple months focusing on one, I feel confident and capable and above-average... and then this all goes away because I move on to something new. What has ended up happening is I am very mediocre at all of these. In fact, sometimes I feel like I downright suck at some of them. It makes me sad. I am beginning to think that I really want to be VERY good at something.

I like liking all these things. But I want to know everything about one of these and to have a high degree of skill in just one. It's just that... I don't know which one. I should probably choose one that I can do for the rest of my life. Yoga. And road biking. I will do those forever. But then in the winter, maybe I can focus on skiing. I don't know.

One of these days I will decide.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Very Happiest Day

The day, September 24th, was a remarkable day. It had snowed in Breckenridge the weekend before, but when we arrived, the weather was absolutely perfect. The temperature was in the low to mid-60's. The sun was out and the trees were beginning to change. Lots of people had come into town that weekend to see the beautiful weather and many strangers ended up being guests at our very special wedding.

The weekend had been so busy with so many loved ones around. Everyone worked so hard to make our wedding wishes come true. We had family preparing the rehearsal dinner, folks hanging paper lanterns in the reception room, and bridesmaids searching Breckenridge for the perfect wedding townie bike.

I shuffled from one event to the next and all of a sudden it was the afternoon of our wedding day. And I was alone. I walked down Main Street wearing a summery halter dress and trailing my veil from a bag I carried over my shoulder. The cool breeze and hot fall sun made me super happy. I stopped to get a sandwich at the patisserie, a bottle of wine at the the liquor store, and a toy for Wyatt at the pet store.

The people of Breckenridge made this day so
marvelous. The man at the liquor store added a little bonus to my bag. The tourists smiled and waved as we passed by in our wedding garb. The man in the rickshaw offered to pedal me to the ceremony site... right up to my dear grandfather who was waiting to walk me down the aisle. Their kindness was too much for me to take in that moment.

I walked across the bridge at the Riverwalk with my grandfather who handed me off to my father who walked me down to Adam. We got married right at the stone steps that overlook the Blue River. The sun was in its full glory, lighting up the trees and giving the perfect glow to my veil. The sunlight glistened off the water and I had never felt such a beautiful day before in all my life. Townspeople and tourists gathered at the opposite side of the bank to witness our ceremony. It was truly remarkable.
And this is what I said that day: "I, Stephanie, take you, Adam, to be my husband, God's precious gift to me. You are my constant friend, my faithful partner in our lifelong adventure, and my one true love. On this day, in the presence of God and all our family and friends, I give to you my pledge to stay by your side. To love you faithfully, to trust you and honor you through the best and worst of times. I promise to love you without reservation, to comfort you in times of distress, to encourage you to achieve all of your goals, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to always be open and honest with you. May we daily be prepared for God’s own divine purposes. I will love you today, tomorrow, and forever."

Eric, our pastor, gave a very touching closing remark at the end of the ceremony. One that I will always remember. And after a very joyous kiss and backwards dip, we left the ceremony site as man and wife. All of our completely wonderful friends and family followed through with our request to bring silly props: wax lips, feather boas, patriotic hats, funny sunglasses; and we headed around for a loop of Breckenridge. It was such a fun way to start off the party - we love-love-loved it.

Adam and I snuck away to a grassy hill and sat together for a wonderful moment before we came in to the reception. We ate and danced and toasted and I smashed cake in my love's face. And it was a wonderful, wonderful day. Many thanks to all the very, very special people who made our wedding such a delight. We love you and miss you every single day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain

Well, today we are on day four of rain. For the most part, the rain has come and gone, but I would be surprised if it has been any longer than 90 minutes without a steady rain. This is very strange to me. I am used to afternoon rains and evening rains. I am perfectly happy during those typical Colorado rains-while-the-sun's-out rains. This is a rain I am entirely not used to.

School was cancelled today because of flooding, and while I thought that was strange, I am VERY glad about it. Wyatt and I walked down our normal route this morning and I was stunned to see what three days of rain and one torrential downpour did to our favorite morning walkway. The pathway leads down between some hills and leads to a long stretch of pathway called the Cross County Trail, which goes for 40 miles. I love this place. It is quiet and wooded. We've seen box turtles and snakes and little fish and deer back there. It's the best part of living where we live.

 Today it was different. Sediment has piled up on the upstream side of footbridges. Water no longer flows underneath, but over the footbridges. Last time we walked over these bridges, there was a two to three foot drop on either side. Normally, these footbridges just see a trickle of water flowing underneath just after a rain. I wish these pictures were better, but they were taken with my soggy wet phone.

Entire hillsides were washed downstream. Massive trees that grew along the banks now have sediment washed away around them and many have fallen. This fallen tree is gigantic. I would bet it is 40 feet tall. Wyatt and I crawled over and under branches to make our way to the other side.

The rain changed from a sprinkle to a steady rain and I got nervous about flash floods. We were moving downhill towards the river. I've not ever been exposed to this kind of impact from a storm.

It's very strange and yet, it's only a tiny example of the damage that happens in bigger storms. I am not sure I could ever fathom the damage from Hurricane Katrina or from the earthquakes in Haiti or Japan or the tornado that hit Joplin. It's amazing and terrifying all at once.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Virginia Life... AKA The New Normal

Having been in Virginia now for just over a month, I feel more established and ready to proceed with the things that are required for Virginia living. It is clear that living here requires me to expand my definition of living a bit. I suppose that's part of the essence of being human... adaptation. Part of this new definition involves living in a completely new area and some of it is based on my new life with Adam.

The New Normal still involves being me and loving the things that I love, but a few changes here and there have made it nice to be here.

* Across the street, we go each night to walk the dog and to see the three baby fawns that lost their mother earlier this week. They are small and quiet and they always stay together. They graze in the empty baseball field just above the wooded nature trail.

* We frequent our favorite restaurant (so far), conveniently 1/3 mile from our house. Kanjana Thai serves a to-die-for Tom Kha soup. A creamy, sweet, spicy, and sour soup with mushrooms, chicken, and coconut milk. Ignoring the fact that the signs for women's and men's bathrooms are slightly inappropriate, it is a beacon of happiness in our neighborhood.

* On Thursdays, a group of seemingly adult 20-somethings with sweat bands across their brow meet under the power lines near our house to engage in epic battles with shields and padded battery sticks. They are the sort that you could imagine engaging in a life of video game challenges. Some of them have the ultimate weapon... a sort of stick with a padded ball at the end of a rope. A medieval flail it is called. The ice cream man always stops by to watch and to pad his wallet. It's entertainment.

* A beautiful new television sits mostly off. It's nice, actually. We don't have cable and have been able to spend more time with fitness and making wedding preparations and just sharing our new life together.

* Starting a new life with Adam has encouraged me to bump up the responsibility I accept for my own life. I am staying on top of bills and have actually attended doctor's appointments for me and for Wyatt. Strange that I am almost 32 and it took moving here to accomplish that.

* I haven't rushed here. In Colorado, my life was full of responsibilities and commitments. I rushed from one thing to the next with barely any time to be intentional about my actions or words. My main concern was just getting everything done. Here, I can even take time to plan meals and to cook. The new normal involves having a shelf in my refrigerator which holds everything that we want to eat soon before it spoils. Some might call it Type A. I just call it a refreshing new way to organize. I've even bathed my dog twice this month.

* I was told when I moved here, I would spend time talking about the best way to get somewhere. Boy, is that true! I take one way to work and a different way home from work to try to avoid the ever-so-dreaded and frightfully common traffic backup.

* Checking the weather has never been so important to me as it is here. I change my plans based on the heat. Heat almost never prevented me from what I wanted to do in Colorado. Here, the new normal includes following the heat's advice of when to come outside and when to just hole up inside.

These are just some of the wonderful things involved in our new life in Virginia. I am excited to add to it. It's a beautiful life.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I've always been enamored by the thought of "home".

You know how musicians create moments of tension... dissonance? It's that moment that harmonies clash. The balance between this dissonance and a more stable consonance is one of the things that makes music so intriguing. The resolution of that conflict is gorgeous. This is how I feel about home. All the challenges of the day have been fought - the unchosen strife or self-imposed contests, and home is the place where all is resolved. You are comfortable and nourished. You have a cozy place to rest and loved ones close by.

I have been in Virginia now for a week. The food is exceptional. I love it that chain restaurants are in the minority. I love the rivers and bays that are so close by. I love the history of the area and the wonderful patriotism. There are good things and so many more to discover. I remember the first time Adam I took the metro to King Street. It was wonderful... drizzly with the streets lit up so beautifully. Delicious crab cakes and brews at a local tavern with live bluegrass. Lovely.

Now, Colorado. It's hard not to be sad about having left. In Colorado, there is something called fresh air that I miss very much. I can't quite figure it out, but Virginia smells different. Maybe it is the humidity or the lush trees. All I can say is that I would pay money every day to breathe the cool, dry, piney air of Colorado.

The roads here are different, too. Very few roads run just two cardinal directions. Most go north and south in certain places and east and west in others. Many change names multiple times and when you think a road might have ended, you just take a left and pick it back up a quarter mile or so down the road. Often, you will turn off of a road to stay on it. In Colorado, for the most part, there is one main way that you would take to get somewhere. Here, there are three or four main ways you could get somewhere and another five alternate routes you could take and all of those will be congested. I do love the trees here. They are everywhere. But this also means that most of the roadways look the same. Unless there is a building right up along the road, you can pretty much guarantee that trees will obscure it all. It makes it that much harder to navigate.

Last, the Colorado music scene is incredible. I don't think I realized this until I left. Especially summer. You can guarantee Colorado will be packed with amazing artists all summer long. Here, there are lots of venues, but a different type of musician comes here. I miss it. Lots.

It doesn't feel like home yet. I don't think it ever will. Regardless, I will eat up every minute of this place, loving it as much as I can until I leave.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lucky Lady!

Since mid-March, life has flown by and I've neglected to mention the most exciting news of all. Adam and I are engaged! My love asked me to marry him on March 24 while we were walking along the National Mall, right at the foot of the Washington Monument. Adam had the ring sent to the hotel. He suggested we go to see the monuments lit up, so we took the Metro to DC and ran between the monuments. We only had a short time until the Metro stopped running, so we had to move it. It was a wonderful evening. We celebrated our engagement at the Hard Times Cafe near our house. It was the only place open and the name made us laugh.

I really should be more eloquent about the whole event, but what I really want to say is how wonderful Adam is. I am far too blessed for words. Adam is an incredible man... consistent, dedicated, wise, loving, gentle, encouraging. He has strong morals. He is patriotic and adventurous. He is athletic and positive. I am excited for the life ahead and incredibly thrilled to be spending it with Adam.

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Leaving It Behind

I walked out the door today, arms filled with a box of assorted office what-cha-ma-call-its, a treasured book, a picture of me and my dear Adam, and a little vase filled with three beautiful fake flowers that has kept my desk cheerful and maintenance-free for the last six years. It really just seems like any other day today. But it's not. Today is tearfully different. Today is the day I say goodbye to the school that lead to my growth as a teacher. It's the school that saw me through a rough patch and watched me meet my soon-to-be husband. It's the school that I poured heart and soul into for six wonderful years.

I couldn't let go of the feeling that I was leaving something behind. I looked up and down the hallways and although I could see nothing that I was forgetting to take with me, the weighted feeling that I was missing something important remained. I went to complete my last task - boxing up some paperwork that was to be shredded. And I realized it was the final mission I would take on for this school.

I've taken on a number of missions, miniscule and monumental, for this organization. Some I couldn't wait to have off my plate and some I heartfully struggled to step away from. It is important to me that my efforts make a positive impact on a school and not just a little impact, but a huge, lasting, magnificent crater.

And with this thought, I realized what I was leaving behind. I was leaving behind myself. It was nothing that I could wrap in tissue paper or package in bubble wrap. It was nothing that I could take away from this school at all. It was the contribution left by hours of dedication and love for the students of this place. Through my bleary eyes, I realized that the magnificent moments that changed my heart and the hearts of my students... the beautiful moments in which a student believed that maybe something difficult was actually possible and that it was within them to achieve it... were what I left. These moments travel on in my mind, in my heart, and in the hearts and minds of my incredible students. I'm grateful that these moments live on and I can only hope that they will be magnified by the choices of my kids.

The next chapter is vague and unknown. But this is one thing that will continue no matter where I go. I want my life to publish hope. Always.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sweet Satisfaction

They say that satisfaction comes from a hard day's work. True. That's a pounding and thrilling feeling. That's an entirely unique form of satisfaction.

But, there is no satisfaction quite like the satisfaction that comes from a crispy, steamy-hot plate of fries and a refreshing, creamy-cool shake. Salty all along the edges and warm starchy deliciousness of seasoned potatoes bursting from inside. And JUST before it tips over to dry or too salty... the heavenly chill of sugary, smooth creaminess. It's envigorating!

Satisfaction. What is it anyway? Contentment. The little "aahhhhh" after whatever grumble existed. But you can't forget that little grumble, right? If you forget it, then the satisfaction isn't quite what it could be. It's like knowing the breath of winter after the burn of summer or the touch of silence after the brutal scratch of a turbulent room. You have to remember the burn.

When things get really wonderful, and satisfaction sets in, forgetting the burn makes you lose the full wonder of the wonderful. Perspective. The adventure is so much more rich with all of it wrapped up in one exquisite box.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DC Adventure Begins

Well, we made it 1,691 miles across the country driving a 16-foot moving van and pulling our very Colorado blue Subaru behind. There was no mistaking us for any mid-western city folk. We had three pairs of skis in the ski rack and two pretty rocking mountain bikes hanging off the back. There was no doubt. We are from Colorado.

This has been a huge mix of emotion for me. I am leaving everything. Everything except Adam. Because of this, there is a pile of excitement, a bushel of sadness, and a boatload of nervous expectation. It's hard to anticipate what any new experience will do with my psyche. I jumped in the Subaru as we pulled into Virginia - Adam driving the van as we left the car trailer behind in Frederick, MD.
I was super excited to change the clock in the Soob to eastern time and I scrolled through the radio stations to program the very best of 80's hits and bluegrass and classic rock. I didn't find a suitable KBCO substitute... yet. Nor will I, I imagine. This whole suiting-the-car-up-for-Virginia-living had a positive vibe to it.

Adam and I pulled into town, drove through the new neighborhood, met with our landlord, and headed out to find what we may decide to call our little corner of town. We jumped on the Metro (I say that cautiously... everything new takes precision and thoughtfulness)and decided to get off at King Street. The delicate white lights adorning the trees called us off the train. In fact, we passed the stop and came back to it because it was so appealing. We wandered down the puddle-patterned streets until we hit Tiffany Tavern. We'd read about it in the Lonely Planet guide to Washington, DC and decided to duck inside to have fish and chips and a crabcake sandwich. We were not let down. A small six-piece bluegrass band was set up at the front. The bar was filled with lone business travelers and east coast locals. The bricks and dark wooden beams showed all of the building's 120 years.
I ordered a Smithwick's, which I found out later at seedy little O'Shaugnessy's is correctly prounounced Smiddick's. It truly was a delightful way to spend our first night in DC. But for whatever reason, perhaps it was the familiar hum of bluegrass or the feeling of miles between me and my home, I got choked up. That's the polite way to say I pretty much bawled. It wasn't anything in particular I was thinking of... other than that I'm leaving my Colorado home. My quirky family, my unforgettable friends, my altitude, my microbrews, my raindrops on sunny days, my piles of snow, my abrupt Spring and Fall, my job, my students, my ski seasons, my mountain towns, my simple transit. Everything. Of course I will miss the Colorado people I love the most... my pillars of strength and my blankets of comfort.

I know there will be more adventures to have and more places to love and more friends to laugh with. But it's not that easy. You got to let go of allllllll of that awesomeness and bankrupt yourself for a little bit until you've got a little start to a foundation in a new place. I am not excited about that. I am excited, however, to start a life with the man I love. I am excited to learn a new place with him and to dream up new dreams and find ourselves in wonderful new places. We are lucky to have found each other and I can't wait to spend my days with him.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pet Peeve #2

Dear Long Hair Football Players:

You are totally disgusting. Your gross hair repulses me. I don't understand why you can't take your job seriously enough to keep a normal length of hair. Clay Matthews, I am talking to you. You were just on Leno and I wanted to rip your hair out of your scalp. You twirled it all around and when you whipped it back over your face, I saw your gross manly face peering out from long luxurious locks and I threw up in my mouth. Troy Polamalu, I am talking to you. I can't even imagine what foul creatures must be lurking behind those curls. You are repugnant and I wish some hoodlums would jump you and remove your hair with scissors.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I used to lick the ice cream out of the bottom of my bowl. I wanted all the goodness. The yummy sweet delicious drops of melty, melty lllmmmmmuuhhh.

Therefore, it's hard for me to admit that I believe that really, really crappy things are bound to happen. Why do I think this? It's all these underlying ideas that linger around unpondered. Every now and then, this undetected anxiety pops up. It's like watching a scary movie. The music turns dark, someone wanders around ignorant of looming danger, and BOOM! Something terrible happens.

Of course, it's the hard times that make the sweet times that much sweeter. And I know what hard times are like. I know that they broaden your perspective. I know that your life becomes richer. I just don't want any more. And I don't want to feel like something is right around the corner.

I guess you take the good with the bad. Isn't that from The Facts of Life? I am in what I consider to be a good long stretch of good and I don't want anything to mess it up.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Being a teacher is interesting. I had begun getting frustrated with how poorly we pay teachers - especially good teachers. Good teachers are worth at least double their salary, and poor teachers about half. But Adam says we are public servants. What that means to me is that less of our reward is in the paycheck and more of it lies in seeing others meet challenges, seeing them succeed. And that's true.

I've never gotten emotional over a paycheck.

But I HAVE gotten emotional over seeing my students rise to the occasion. In my seven years of teaching, I have seen a number of students hit a wall. Frustration mounting. And suddenly, they pop up over the top of the wall. That feeling of success does not go away. That is lasting. I would hope that those experiences stick with my students in a way that it begins to define them. I want them to know that a challenge is a regular, expected life event and that each time they come up against a challenge, hard work and perseverance will win. And that they would begin to define their lives as successful, growing people.

I began storing these tales of success in my memory. Stacking each story next to the one before. But they are beginning to moosh together. So here is success story number one:

I have a student who struggles in reading. She was scoring about a year and a half behind her grade level. Sometimes there is a quick fix for academic issues. But sometimes these issues respond to obscure solutions... and finding that solution is like finding a needle in a haystack. I hoped that something would click with her, and it appeared like it had. So, I gave her an assessment. Her assessment showed no growth from the previous year. How could this be? NO growth? We had been working so hard. I began to feel ineffective and hopeless. I can only imagine what she must have been feeling. I didn't want to believe that no growth had taken place, so I administered the tests again, this time having her use the strategies we used in our reading group. She FLEW through it. Not just with partial success but with full, bold, torrential success. I took the assessments to her classroom teacher and I could barely manage to show the results without getting choked up. Something WORKED. And it isn't just working on assessments, it's working in her LIFE. And that is what matters. A shining beam of success to motivate her to not give up. Glorious.

And that's why I love my job.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On the Brink

Well, here it is 2011. Insane, right? You know what this means? 2022 is just around the corner. 2011 is here and it's bringing with it all sorts of crazy action. I am right on the brink of so many changes. I am poised to get my administrators license so I'm thinking about jobs and whether I think I'm capable or not. I used to be so confident and now I don't know for sure. I'm looking forward to the changes of 2011. They're all scary. And they're all exciting. It's the not-knowing that's so scary, but the fright I have is worth all the possibilities that might be.

I'm very excited. I'm inches from getting my Master's. I have a great job and a fantastic family. And I'm in love. It's all quite good.