30 Days.

At the beginning of November I threw a challenge out into the Universe. A challenge to document the tiny things you are grateful for each day in an attempt to cultivate a life filled with gratitude. My point being, that joy stems from our gratitude and practicing thankfulness might – ahem, will –  just lead to happiness.

When I first started this challenge my jar seemed impossibly large. I kept thinking to myself, “how could I possibly have something different to be grateful for each day?” Yet, each day something small came to mind that made me smile, or remember what was good. Even better were the days when I would experience a moment and immediately think to myself, “Wow, that was fantastic. That is what’s going in the jar tonight.” So, with each day, my pile of paper got a little bit bigger and I felt my heart grow more joyful [less frustrated] with where I’m at in this crazy life.

Listed below are just a few of the [unedited] things I found myself feeling lucky to have experienced within the last 30 days —

  1. I’m thankful for good hairstylists. FINALLY.
  2. I’m thankful for my crockpot + quick + tasty dinner!
  3. I’m thankful for old friends and talking on the phone for hours.
  4. I’m thankful for packages in the mail @ the end of a long day.
  5. Today I’m thankful for doing a workout @ a weight I wasn’t sure I could do. Pushing myself to be better.
  6. I’m thankful for chocolate when I’m feeling bloated.
  7. I’m thankful for falling leaves. With all of the trees here in ATL a strong breeze makes the leaves dance and fall like snowflakes.
  8. I’m thankful for MARTA.
  9. I’m thankful for a house full of people.
  10. I’m thankful for the ability to write + for the courage to share my heart with others.
  11. Facetiming with my crazy family today!
  12. I’m thankful for my finances, but also cheap/quality clothes on a budget.

What were you thankful for this month? Let’s celebrate gratitude together!

 

Utah

We went to Utah for the mountains. Well, we got em’.

Mountains were something that I could behold on a daily basis, they seemed incredibly normal and comforting to me, so it was cool to hear Madi and Haley comment on the magnificent glory of these silent giants. The way they seem to come up suddenly out from the flat valley and climb towards the stars is truly a site worth seeing and I’m so glad I was able to be with them for their first time.

[As we hiked around parts of Utah I was reminded me of this time I took the girls I babysat hiking with me. We went to Chautauqua in Boulder, CO and did the well-trodden Bluebell-Baird trail. As we walked up the initial rise from city -> forest the girls kept turning around every 50 ft to exclaim “WOW, we are SO high up! This is SO cool!”. Every time they would turn to see the view their faces would light up with wonder. I became acutely aware of what the mountains looked like through their eyes and I was also taken aback by their beauty]

Just like that day in Boulder I got to see the mountains through a different lens. My views have been challenged this last year on how I approach each day and I have grown to see the world through a different lens; one that includes Christ and his unending love for us. It’s a lot a bit scary when you surrender your trust, but I rest easier knowing I will be taken care of.

I wrote a blog this week for Enjoy the Journey. This page is a glimpse into different people’s lives and what enjoying the journey means to them. For some, it means dropping everything and traveling the world, while for others it means staying and intentionally seeking connection. When I started to think of how I enjoy the journey I was on MARTA riding home from work, thinking to myself how that was a journey in and of itself – you never know what you’re gonna get. I realized that how we choose to live our simple lives in the mundane moments is where we choose if we are going to enjoy our journey or not. And if you haven’t gotten the point of this blog yet let me spell it out – I want to celebrate the every day. I want to be grateful for what I have. I want to expose the beauty and grace right under our noses.

Anyways, check out my ETJ post – let me know what you think [or don’t], but I hope you are encouraged to choose to enjoy your journey in whatever capacity you know how. Also…Utah.

 

Gratitude//Joy

2 weekends, 2 trips. With a lot of hustle in between. Wow, I’m tired.

I went to the beach at Cape San Blas [Florida] and Eden [Utah]. I saw sand dunes and mountains, changing leaves, and stars. Oh my stars.

There are few things in this world that make me gasp in wonder other than the night sky. Living in the city I don’t get the opportunity to see the stars that often. Not only is there too much light pollution, but I also don’t tend to look up. My focus concentrated on the road ahead. Stepping out of the car in both locations I couldn’t help but whisper in amazement. The stars were so clear while the milky way stretched from north – south.

I look to these natural wonders and I can’t help but be thankful for everything that’s been given to me. The majestic power of mountains and the mystery of the stars remind me to say thanks. We live extraordinary lives and most days we don’t slow down enough to express gratitude.

Brené Brown shared a powerful excerpt from Gratefullness, The Heart of Prayer by Brother David Steindl-Rast that describes the roots of joy as gratitude — “We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands. For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

With that, I want to challenge myself and others in practicing gratitude as we enter into the holiday season. I’ve collected a mason jar and slips of paper that I plan to write my thanks on throughout the month. [Here is the inspiration to my challenge – Perfect Bar’s 4 Week Guide to Gratitude] My intention is to notice the small things that make me feel grateful each day and to highlight them, because yes, I am extremely thankful for my family or the fact that I have a job, but perhaps there’s something else within the day that deserves equal appreciation.

Today is November 1st – what are you thankful for today?

 

It Was More Like an Apple Crumble

I think I’m just beginning to admit to myself that I enjoy the quiet moments on my porch with a cup of coffee as much as I enjoy taking off down the trail on the next hiking adventure. This is a new revelation for me because sitting still is really hard.

I love getting out of town and going somewhere new makes me come alive and conscious of the great world around me. It helps take my mind off the one million things going on in the city – the experiments that maybe worked or didn’t work this week, the fact that I miss my family in CO like crazy, or even the loneliness I feel. Going fills my time with planning, seeing, doing. It occupies the space in my mind that would otherwise be devoted to my worries. Rather, staying forces me to face these realities, and a weekend in the city leaves me feeling anxious.

This weekend I stayed home and made an apple pie with an almond flour crust. I was inspired by the recipe I found by a friend from high school. She has a paleo/grain free blog with lots of adorable and tasty looking dishes so I thought I would give it a shot.

On Friday I prepped the crust using my handy-dandy mixer and put it in the fridge overnight. Then on Saturday morning I sat and peeled the apples I picked up at a farm stand last weekend in North Georgia (Also, one of the only places in the world where you can get fried corn on the cob – YIKES). I thought the recipe was actually pretty easy – just peel the apples, cut, and mix with coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice. The trickiest part was getting the crust to work because when I tried to shape the crust into the pan it completely fell apart.

All week I imagined a perfect pie with an adorable lattice crust on top. However, my real pie was far from perfect, it was square and there was no lattice crust. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream though…. near perfection.

So this is where I’m at – definitely nowhere near perfection. Part of me enjoyed this weekend, and part of me is bummed that I didn’t do more to make the most of it. It’s really pressure I put on myself, but it can be suffocating at times. Why is there this notion that if we aren’t constantly on the go then we aren’t truly living?

Jacks River & Other Labors

Labor Day weekend was filled all of the good kinds of labor.

  1. Hiking
  2. Cooking/Eating
  3. Relaxing
  4. Laughing x1000000000

It was the last hoorah for Leah in the city and we were lucky enough to get a visit from Anna and her boyfriend Matt on their way to the Outer Banks. A&M flew in late Friday night and flew out early Monday morning so we had 2 short days to pack all the activities in. Because I came to Atlanta with such lack-luster expectations I always feel this pressure to make sure first impressions of the city are top notch. There are so many special things about Georgia that I believe are overshadowed by other big cities. Growing up in Denver I would day dream of one day moving to Chicago, San Francisco, or New York City. I never thought in a million years that I would end up for a short time in this southern metropolis, but now that I have I’m in love. So whenever I have visitors I feel like an un-official ambassador for the city sharing the sweetness and wonder of Georgia with the world.

All that to say, we did all of the most perfect, non-touristy things. Saturday was filled with hiking in the North Georgia mountains along Jacks River. Our intention was to hike to Jacks River Falls, a waterfall just south of the Tennessee-Georgia border. From what we read online there were 2 approaches to the falls, one from Dally Gap and another from Beech Bottom. With both trails clocking in a 4.5 mile hike each way we decided to choose to start at Dally Gap since it was closer to Atlanta. This turned out to be a poor choice, we also severely misread the trail information.

The trek started along a gentle trail flanked by large green trees, green vines, and green wild rhododendrons. I’m telling you there were some large trees along the trail and the mystery has officially be solved – when a tree falls in the forest and there are four people are around to see, it makes a VERY LOUD NOISE.

Let me explain…As we were walking along, minding our own business, we heard a loud cracking sound and glanced across the valley. There, ~ 100 feet in front of us a huge tree was crashing down across the trail like a domino falling after someone gave it a light tap. Other small trees were taken down as collateral and branches and debris littered the site. All I can say is, thank the lord we weren’t standing 100 feet further up or we would have been squished like pancakes.

So, Jacks River and the namesake trail winds through the valley following each other and frequently crossing paths. At the beginning we were doing really well with staying dry. Whenever we approached a river crossing we would strategize and then leap faithfully from one balanced rock to the next until we reached the opposite bank. We hiked for 2.5 hours before beginning to question the trail information. At this point we should have reached the falls and so far we had only encountered small ripples in the river. With the afternoon passing and dinner plans in Atlanta we made the decision to stop, turn around, and head back to the car. Turns out it was actually 9 miles to Jacks River Falls from Dally gap, with 42 river crossings! Holy river crossings!

For future reference, this trail would be a fantastic overnight-er. Overall, it was more like a saga of never ending occurrences. Aside from the tree falling and river crossings:

  • We saw a giant, black snake
  • EVERYONE FELL IN THE WATER
  • I was stung by a bee
  • Anna tripped over a tree
  • Matt swung from a vine
  • Leah, Anna, and Matt went swimming
  • A threat of 30 pushups if we didn’t make it back to the car by 5 PM made us basically run the last mile
  • Google maps takes some very interesting back roads
  • No, panthers are not part of the wildlife in Georgia

The rest of the weekend we spent in the city – gorging on brunch, swinging in hammocks on my front porch, cannonballing at the pool, and feasting with a home cooked salmon dinner. My heart felt so full after my house emptied of guests on Tuesday. Even though I feel pressure to put together the perfect trip for whoever comes visit me I love the way it allows me to share my life with the people that mean the most to me. I love that Georgia has the outdoor escapes that define what Colorado is for so many people. By no means have I explored the entirety of what this peachy state has to offer, but with less than a year here I’m saying anything’s possible.

I’m ready for my next visitors.


 

Knit Together

I’m hanging on tight to this summer.

To this weekend and past weekends.

To the way I’m feeling in this exact moment – blissfully content.

I think the perfect word for this season of life I’m finding myself in is connection, and honestly, if I look back it’s certainly a common theme threaded through my past posts. The desire to pull the beauty and grace from the everyday; to slow down and enjoy what life is throwing at me rather than rushing from one thing to the next. But it’s also more than that, I’m not only craving deep connection with the world around me but with the people that I get to share it with. I don’t want to miss out on the richness of life.

Connection is vulnerable. It’s scary; it’s also exhilarating. The fear of being known and accepted is so very real. Building memories with new people is hard. I have girlfriends from college that know everything about me. They’ve seen me at my best – and my worst – but somehow they still decide to connect with me. At first I was afraid that if I shared too much with my new friends they wouldn’t want to hang out with me anymore, but that is so far from the truth. Life is messy and what good is it having friends that you can’t be real with?

I’ve only tasted the frosting on what it means to be connected, to be present, and to be vulnerable, but I’m coming back for more. In an attempt to run after connection, my friends and I have started our own Cooking Club. Once every 3 weeks someone in our group hosts a dinner where they prepare a meal and everyone else comes and receives. It’s time set aside to be present; to intentionally connect with others over good food and wine – obviously wine.


When thinking about our journey through life Shauna Niequist says it best – “It was not about to-do lists or scheduling or minutes and hours. This journey has been about love, about worth, about God, about what it means to know him and be loved by him in a way that grounds and reorders everything”. God has been telling me to slow down, and to connect – with him and with the people he loves. I’m fighting to be present and to allow the fabric of my life to be connected to that of those around me.

So, I’m hanging on tight to these moments of connection because they are too sweet to let go.

 

 

Cocoa

I have to admit, I have a bit of an obsession with hot chocolate. I don’t usually indulge in treats at the store because I know myself, and I know I have practically zero self-control when it comes to sweets.

This week however, I decided to listen to the craving and bought some.

It was also an average of 90 degrees all week so I must be crazy.

Either way, I had a cup of hot chocolate tonight and every sip was worth it.


Since I also have an obsession with dogs, and I am currently deprived of having my own, I have been watching a lot of other people’s. It’s great because I can cuddle with the pups without all of the long term responsibility. I’m like the cool aunt that gives them all the treats and takes them on all the outings.

Anyways, here’s some pictures of all my friends’ dogs –

 

A Tuesday Morning Disaster

Over the weekend I moved to a new house. Don’t worry – its still near two of my favorite places, the ATL Beltline and Trader Joe’s Piedmont Park. It’s a fabulous place with high ceilings and little bit of character. No place is truly good until it has its funky quirks and this house certainly does. For one, the washer and dryer aren’t housed side-by-side, but rather the dryer is across the room from the washer! Someday I may give you photographic evidence but for now my Tuesday morning disaster will have to suffice.

It started out just like any other day, I woke up and drank a big cup o’ coffee, cooked up some eggs over medium, and went to catch the MARTA. I live a LOT closer to the stop, but I still managed to leave with not-enough time. I was running to the stop when I watched the bus drive past, unknowing of my presence. Defeated, I turned around to go back home and wait, this time determined to make it with enough time.

My second attempt was successful until at 8th and Monroe the bus took a hard right – instead of a slight left. UH OH.

  • Lesson #1 – Apparently the stop outside my house is served by multiple bus routes and I had jumped on the wrong bus.
  • Lesson #2 – Uber is an excellent alternative to MARTA.

Wish me luck – here I go catching the MARTA this morning. It’s a new day, new disasters to keep me on my toes.

Flutter

I have no excuse for my lack of posts other than that I’ve been trying to find words for many of the events that have happened in my life during the last few weeks. Apparently it has been an unsuccessful endeavor…. Every time I sit down to write I come up with a blank. This is not for lack of material – I’ve got more than enough of that – but rather I’m attributing it to a lack of belief. Three weeks ago I got the phone call that I’ve been waiting to get since February. I got the phone call that I was accepted to the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

It really went down like this –

I was in the midst of a normal work day, running in and out of tissue culture and attending meetings, when I received a missed call and a voicemail. The number was 303-724… Those numbers caused my heart to skip a beat because I immediately knew. 303 is the area code for Colorado and 724 is the first three digits for the UC Denver Medical Campus. With trembling hands and a flutter in my stomach I returned the call from the admissions office. They very nonchalantly informed me of my acceptance to the class of 2020.

*imagine me freaking out on the other side*

The next week & a 1/2 was a whirlwind as I quickly drafted a letter requesting to defer entrance for one year and then wait (again) for a response. You’re probably thinking that I must be crazy. All of the choices I’ve made over the last several years have been decided while also considering my long term goal – becoming a doctor. I would think about it more than necessary, and especially this last year, stress over it even when I had no control. As much as I tried to continue on with life in the midst of waiting, my application was all consuming. I agonized over my future and possible outcomes. Where I would be living and how my life would look. So, in an attempt to live in the present I decided that regardless of the decision from CU I would stay in Atlanta for another year.

– I became free –

This decision was a huge step for me, but I felt so fantastically unhindered and happy with my choice. My relationships with my friends in A|T|L grew deeper, I embraced my responsibility at work with a fire, and I’ve settled into living in a city in a forest. I also accepted the possibility that I wasn’t going to be accepted this year and began preparing to reapply – writing a brand new personal essay and requesting additional letters of support. I submitted these applications exactly one week before learning of my acceptance. I guess then that answer is yes – I am a little crazy, but not insane because when I requested to delay my entry for a year I was granted this appeal.

I am beyond thankful for the opportunities this provides – not only in my research but in all aspects of my life. I know this absolutely did not just happen out of coincidence but that God has some bigger plan for me. I’m thrilled to find out what the next year holds. Excuse me while I squeal with glee.


*words are hard, dancing and jumping up and down is an easier way to celebrate.