Monday, December 27, 2010

A (Belated) Birthday Letter

Happy Birthday Nat.

You turned 28
a few weeks ago, I know you know, you were there. Now you’re an even age in a prime year and for some reason we both like the sound of that. It feels monumental. So it stands to reason that 28 in 2011 will be a good one. Make it happen!

This year has been a long one, longer than others in recent memory. Weeks were weeks and months were months. You finished the year the way you started—one routine day after another. One foot in front of another. One crested wave at a time. You worked a lot this year and it wasn’t always clean or easy—in fact it was rather grueling and uneasy at times as you dealt with some fairly abnormal and uncomfortable situations. But now you’re a rockstar at what you do and you wouldn’t trade what you learned professionally (both project and personnel wise) this year. You’ve graduated to the majors. Congrats!

This was the year you might have become a platinum flyer if you stuck to one airline instead of two or three. Salt Lake, New York (x3), Portland, Colorado Springs, Detroit, New York, Montreal, Kansas City, New Hampshire, Amsterdam, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Salt Lake, Portland, Detroit, Panama, New York, Portland, Salt Lake. You finally figured out the art of packing (Method: pick a color palette and then create a cohesive line), and more importantly, the art of unpacking. (Method: do it the second you walk in the door. No excuses.) And to think – you planned twice as many trips as this in your head.

You also learned the nerdy joy of saving. This, plus the fact you sometimes buy your cheese at the counter has certified you as an adult.

All kidding aside, you are an adult, and you’ve learned to serve like one this year. Serving God has become part of your daily routine and it’s been the greatest blessing of the year. It’s easier to keep perspective on what’s important and what’s not when you’re anxiously engaged in a good and righteous cause. The minutia of life’s tiny injustices become moot when you remember that myopic vision keeps your line of sight narrow.

This is the lesson you should remember from year twenty-seven. Keep expanding your peripheral vision and look out for others and you’ll be alright.

You have been, are, and will no doubt continue to be abnormally blessed. Keep focusing on the “haves” instead of the “have nots.” Drink a little more water. Wear heels more often. Go and do and then don’t regret. Be a better visiting teacher. Don’t feel anxious thinking you should feel guilty for enjoying spending time alone. Use 4 words when you’d rather use 13. Laugh more. Move your car on street sweeping day and avoid the $50 tickets. Keep listening (loudly) to Country music—it still makes you believe in love.

Above all else, know that I love you. The realization has been the greatest gift of this Late-20’s stage. Please regift to 29.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Free public wifi, security, and you

As the computer nerd among us, I feel it's my duty to pass along a very important fact concerning free public wifi internet and your personal account. When you login to something (gmail, facebook, anything that requires authentication, etc.) your username and password is typically encrypted, but little else is. It's very easy for people/hackers to assume your identity on accounts by pulling your unencrypted cookies from the public wifi you're using. (This article is technical but easily understood if you have interest in knowing more.)

One of my developers walked me through this process and I was shocked to see what I could do "as" someone else on facebook, or whose email I could browse through. The good news is that most of these accounts require you to type in your old password before changing to a NEW password, so you shouldn't ever be locked completely out of your account, but much harm can be done before you know it. So! Beware of what you're doing on free public wifi -- this includes the airport (where I now sit typing this email as I'm avoiding Facebook for this very reason.) The good news is that Gmail can be saved. Each of you (ALL of you) should take the following steps to secure your Gmail connection.

1. Sign in to Gmail.
2. Click on Settings in the upper right hand corner.
3. Under the "General" tab, "Browser Connection" area, make sure "Always use https" is selected.

That's it! This will make sure Gmail is encrypting every page you're on when you access it -- from any device, on any network, anywhere in the world. PROMISE ME YOU'LL DO THIS.

Okay! That's it for me. A pre-Christmas gift from me to you. Not as great as a tin 'o three flavored popcorns, but a heckuva lot more useful, right?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A new quest

I'm on the hunt for this outfit now. I think I shall begin tonight.

Anyone want to join me?

Image found here, a collection of incredibly gorgeous photography that has me inspired on all kinds of levels.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Argyle Christmas Craft

I have two cousins, Erica and Brittney, who are incredibly crafty. Crafty and with kids. I hardly find time to craft, and I'm only in charge of making sure food makes it from the table into my own mouth. But with seven days of Panamanian beachy nothing-ness stretched before me over Thanksgiving week, I decided to put my hands to use.

Felt is the staple fabric in the Wood/Williams Christmas decorations. The majority of our ornaments, stockings, tree skirts, etc. are laboriously cut, sequined and beaded together by needlepoint. Knowing that lugging a sewing machine to Panama (if I had one) was out, I designed a tree garland I could craft upon while on the plane, sitting on the deck during a rainstorm, or while catching sun at the pool. And I needed something that could be completed. (I have a tendency to leave half-completed crafts.)

Step 1: Cut felt into squares. I did some 2" x 2" and some 3" x 3". It depends how big you want your garland and how much time you want it to take. (Larger size = faster to complete. Is this the best craft ever or what?) I'm lazy and didn't measure my cutting at all (isn't cutting always the worst part of crafting?) -- eyeballing it worked for the most part, but I'm not a true perfectionist when it comes to crafting. If you are, you may want to create a pattern.

Step 2: Thread your needle with three threads of embroidery floss. I used quite a large needle -- one with enough of a point on the needle to stick through the felt, but wanted an easy eye to thread. I used a #18 needle for Chenille. (This is me pretending I know what I'm talking about.)

Step 3: Stitch together. I used three colors--red, white, and cream in a bit of an argyle pattern. I created a star on the white squares, but any kind of pattern would be cute. (A green/orange/purple/black woudl be cute for Halloween too!)And thaaaaaaat's about it. Easy? Yes. I'm beyond pleased with the way it turned out and it'll be nice to have for the next few decades. Happy to answer questions if you've got them!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Celebrate good times

28 is hardly an extraordinary age to be turning, right? I mean, it's just kind of a filler year on the everclosermarchto30. Nonetheless, how thrilled and outright surprised I was that the casual celebrating of 28 are some of my favorite yet.

NatAttack's 28th Birthday

Lunch with my girlfriends. Dinner and trivia with some boyfriends and the world's-best-roommate. A lot of smiles and laughter and yellow-and-black checked-shirt-wearing.

Last year, I wrote a capstone letter to myself on 27th eve. I may be two days late, but I think I'd like a follow-up. But first I'm still working on my Christmas card. Thanks for the addresses if you've sent them. Prepare to receive them next week.

I made the following comment on Facebook yesterday, and I stand firmly behind it.
I know the greatest people in the world. Thanks for making an insignificant birthday year significant!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Well, I guess this is the year.

10 years out of the house on my own and I guess I'm going to send a Christmas card. It's been on the list for a few years now but I've never committed to it. Now that I'm celebrating an anniversary(!) I guess I'll buckle down and do it.

So. If you want in on this festive jazz, shoot me an email/text/facebookmsg/IM/owl with your address. I don't even have to know you! Because nothing says "Merry Christmas" like hanging the photo of someone you don't know on your fridge or mantel or in the trash.

Also? Each day of December has blown me away. This month might be the best in the history of the world.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Six glorious days in Panama doing a whole lotta this.
life is good

And this:
And this:
And this is how many swimsuits TWO of us went through in a week. TWO.

I'm back. I'm protesting our return by ignoring my winter coat and continuing to wear shoes without socks. (My coworkers are amused.) The weather is cooperating by keeping the weather in the mid-40's. In fact, it's supposed to hit SIXTY on Wednesday, December 1st. The first day back at work is always the hardest. But no worries -- I'm keeping my sanity by working on plans for my late Spring trip. Croatia anyone?

I like to think I'll blog more stories, photos and memories from the trip. Given my follow-through of late, I'm not holding my breath. But everyone loves a surprise--including me--so it's possible (things are happening evvvvvveryyyyyydaaaaaay.[end musical reference]).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DML: A new acronym for you

The references to my new church service calling have piqued the interest of several of you--I've been getting out-of-blog questions about what on earth I'm doing. So, since the cat's out of the bag with my calling and setting apart and sustaining, here we go. Prepare yourself, it's a mouthful.

Stake Digital Mission Leader

(And when you hesitate saying it out loud because you can't remember all the words, don't feel bad. It happens to the best of us.)

It's not a familiar sounding calling because it's not a familiar calling. In fact, it's one of the very first (if not the first) of its kind. (Or my co-DML and I make two.) We've been tasked with organizing and creating a model for a Digital Mission in the Stake that's not only well functioning and productive but also potentially replicable throughout the Church. No pressure, right?

The short of the issue is that there isn't a whole lot of positive Mormon content online. Sure, it exists, but anti-Mormon websites greatly outrank positive--or even neutral!--thoughts, reactions, or description of Mormon beliefs. There's a bit of a race to catch up in some areas but there are plenty of low-hanging fruit tasks and projects that can be accomplished. (I won't start in on them, I could talk for longer than anyone has interest.)

So the last six weeks have been meetings, meetings, meetings, and praying, praying, praying, and talking and thinking and discussing and teaching and writing and coding and calling and really just feeling like miracles are coming to pass. (I shared some more of the personal, spiritual side over here.) Right now I have a testimony of Google Docs and shared spreadsheets and my two-hour weekly meetings with my Co-DML in which we accomplish more in a two-hour meeting than most meetings accomplish in eight (I know, I do meetings for a living).

Question: What's better than checking things off a To Do list?
Answer: Checking things off a church service To Do list. Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiink.

To those of you who've known by big news, boy do I appreciate your support and encouragement. I should feel in over my head but instead I'm finding us able to attack things in small, bite sized pieces. We figure out one line before we move to the next. I hear the precepts are next!

Moral of the story: Go watch a Mormon Message and feel good feelings. Still my favorite.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

quick! give me a fake number.

So that Daylight Savings thing happened. And it feels like it's 8 at night for 5 hours of the day which is mathematically impossible but the first week is always the worst, yes? Linda and I had the early bird special at the Texas Roadhouse by eating at 5:00pm, but it might as well have been 8:00.

8's and 5's. 8's and 5's. There are probably more numbers I could choose from, but if I dared you to spit out a fake phone or social security number, I guarantee it would contain only three maybe four digits. It's like playing Scrabble. My vast vocabulary is suddenly depleted to 40 words that are each only 4-letters long. 5 if I can add an -s. Formal word games and I don't get along so well.

I found myself whistling a Christmas tune tonight at TJ Maxx Home Goods. (I only whistle Sleigh Ride. It's so catchy.) Could be that we surrounded by four aisles worth of Christmas stuff, or it could be that I only ever whistle two songs and Sleigh Ride is one (the riff from the Robin Hood cartoon is the other, thanks for asking). I didn't mind the early Christmas though--in fact I nearly bought 3.5 foot tree for our counter. But then I remembered all my ornaments are in Portland and it's only November 9th.

I got kind of crazy last week and cut bangs. Like real bangs. After not having any for 3 years. And when you're standing there in front of the mirror and are about to cut off 11 inches of hair from the very front, you sort of see your life flash before your eyes. But not really, because it's just hair and it will grow back. AND STRAIGHT BANGS ARE A GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE CARD FOR YOUR EYEBROWS. I could be alright with this for awhile.

I can't can't can't wait for the holidays. Anxiously awaiting a week for Thanksgiving on the Panamanian beach with some of my best girl friends and then another 3 weeks out west split between Portland and Salt Lake. Plus my 43rd birthday in the mix and it's a cornucopia of holiday delight. I need to find myself a pumpkin pie (or better yet a pumpkin cake roll) and life will be A++++.

On the work front, a project I've been working on for 23-months went live this week! It's been a lot of work over the last two years, particularly the last 5 months, and particularly in particular the last two weeks. Good job everyone.

And with that, it really finally IS 8:00. Time to go find some Say Yes to the Dress. Happy November folks!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

homemade halloween pop art

For a number of reasons having to do with an evening Stake Conference church meeting and our non-celebratory Sundays, today, October 29th, was our Halloween.

I do love a heavy makeup costume. It's late and a picture is worth a thousand words, yes?

People I knew had a hard time recognizing me--it was the first time I've ever felt incognito!

Happy Halls yall.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

brain dump that starts with a miracle

Both my Mom and Alicia have instructed me to quit feeling the pressure of "a first blog back" and just start. (That's been one of the major road blocks I'll confess -- where to dive back in after so much time and so many crazy events?)

Tonight, I give you a secular miracle. Spiritual miracles over yonder.

An orange Starburst to me is worthless. So check out this miracle bag I drew yesterday. Target really is a holy house.

Can you believe it's nearly November? I sure can't, but this Halloween-New Year's stretch is my favorite time of the year, so who am I to complain? We leave for Panama four weeks from today--marking the third time in three years I'll be in a foreign country for Thanksgiving. Nothing like saying thanks to those early pilgrims by evacuating the country that gave them freedom and cornbread.

I have church at 11:00. There's something about the 11AM block that sucks the entire day away. Today, I left for church at 10:30 and didn't leave the building until 4:30. Sure extended meetings kept me at church longer than normal, but what happened to the in and out in just over 3 hours? 11AM church is a time vortex, I'm telling you what.

I finally caught up on my last DVR'd episodes of the shows I've been missing since I went on the road the first week of September. Today, I enjoyed four episodes of The Vampire Diaries and didn't feel one bit of bad about it. Sure, the town of Mystic Falls might be a titch dangerous, but if the menfolk all looked like they do on that show, it might just be worth the risk.

I did a three week tour out west for work and a bit of play. 10 days Utah, 7 days Portland, 4 days Detroit. It was exhausting and exhausting. While there, I spoke at a work conference on the parallels between catering cupcakes and managing successful web projects (the playback audio also confirms I speak with a lisp. >). High profile, high stress. Somehow I also thought it wise for cupcakes to accompany my presentation, so I found my self baking 180 cupcakes the same week I was freaking out about a host of other things that needed to be done allwithin24hours.

I learned some new stuffs this go round -- chocolate raspberry is the new black, bacon cooked in a microwave cooks flat and beautifully, and lemon cupcake with cream cheese frosting and coconut on top might still be my all time favorite.

Annnnnnnnnnnd now I want a cupcake.
The good news is this is the view I got to watch from my parents' kitchen while also baking, frosting, cleaning up, practicing my talk, or trying not to dry heave from nerves.
This will be my eleventh winter with snow and I've still yet to figure out the whole winter shoe issue. Please someone, anyone, anyone, give me some pointers?

Also? It's good to be back. It was stressing me out missing so much of my personal history.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

sink or swim

Dear Nat,

You're in the eye of the stormy summer that's changing your life. Of the past 40 nights, you've slept 10 of them in your own bed. It will be 10 more sleeps before you're back home.

You're overwhelmed with what's being asked of you both professionally and personally. Not battered nor broken, but endlessly swimming swimming swimming. You're not unhappy, you're just a step behind the deadlines you've set. (Good thing you're a decent project manager who knows how to pad due dates.) This week you present at a conference to a host of very smart strangers for work. You're also catering cupcakes. 72 hours and you'll have sunk or swam. My betting money is on swimming, so relax. (But don't forget to buy enough powdered sugar.) Your 4 days of nonstop meetings in Detroit will seem like a treat once this is done.

Being home will be nice, but make sure you've set aside adequate time for the church calling that's going to consume and ever change your life. Once you get it all sorted out, organized and planned (my, aren't we good at that?), it's going to be 0ne of the defining times of your life. It's been promised to you.

You're behind on blogging. Funny enough, you started this post with the purpose of ignoring all of the above to make a point. So here it is. Two paragraphs later -- you're good at being long-winded.

The pace of your life is rather insane at the moment. Despite, and perhaps a bit in spite of it, you've managed to keep--and even draw--your Tier 1 friends closer to you. The relationships you have with each of your sisters, your parents, your grandparents and your girlfriends made in both Utah and Boston have never been stronger. You've had visitors from and visited these besties of yours in cities across the nation. You are a really, really great friend, and I don't ever want you to forget that. Loyalty is one of your key strengths and it draws people to you. You're not alone, so don't feel it. Hear me?

Chin up Nat Pat. You're on the cusp of really great things. Sink or swim.


Monday, September 13, 2010

All around the world, statues crumble for me

Best. Trip. Ever.

Seriously, it might have been. And one I'd like to document, so saddle up, because I think there's going to be an outpouring of words here pretty shortly. Basically, I just spent 10 days laughing--and it didn't help the sights were great, the food superb, and the language barrier funny. Ironically, the Spanish we did know earned us kisses and perks from all kinds of strangers. I'm not going to lie, we were kind of celebrities on board.

I got home last night and forced myself to unpack and do laundry before I even sat down. Wise, because I would have fallen asleep for the night at 3pm instead of the 5:30pm I held out for. When I woke at 6 this morning fully awake. I stayed in bed only because I had nothing else to do. Wowza. That's a first.

While I attempt to get some work caught up and my words organized, I'll leave you with a little sneak peek at the last ten days of adventure:


ladies of lisbon

gibraltar: barbary monkey

ping pong on board

church in france

the perfect spot

Until then, au revoir!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

the closest cut

Growing up, I was the one who packed a bag for vacation weeks in advance. (I'm looking at you Girl's Camp 1996 and '97.) Now, my life is unpredictable enough that despite my best efforts--and nerdy To Do lists--I'm sitting on my bed, working from home, on a conference call, surrounded by stacks of clothing not in a suitcase, and headed out of the country for ten days in less than two hours. And I need a shower. And have another hour conference call. BUT NO STRESS GUYS.

I went to Kansas last weekend to visit Alicia and it was one of my funnest weekend trips in years and years. How quickly five years melted away and I remembered why we consider ourselves sisterly. Sure, we've each got our own--but boy howdy do we get along well. We talked nonstop for three days and I refound some center before being thrown back into the storm of wild work projects. We shopped baby clothes (she's having a girl and I'm getting a nephew(!!?!) and talked baby names. The greatest lesson I learned this week is HOW GLAD I AM NOT TO BE NAMING ANOTHER HUMAN. Good luck ladies.

So I'm headed on a little trip tonight. Flying to Amsterdam and cruising to Barcelona. That means ports in Brugge, Belgium; Normandy, France, Vigo, Spain and a ferry to Isla Cies; Lisbon, Portugal; THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR; and then into Barcelona. I told you I love a cruise. The biggest stresser is making contingency plans with my gal pal Laura to meet in the Amsterdam airport, or at the port, or in Brugge should one of us get displaced by flights. Hurricane Earl, I shake my fist at you!

So, I guess I might have a photo or two to share when I come back. If I ever get there in the first place.

Monday, August 23, 2010

welcome back?

I'd like to say that I have day after day of silent entry in a journal not recorded here.

I don't.

The silver lining is that the silence written in the last month of non-blogging will long serve as ample reminder to the events occurring in my offline life. You wouldn't believe the sum of the parts. When the best of the worst is literally getting a needle-full of steroids shot into the face nine times I'm best to leave it alone. Sad (and somewhat lame) to say, but ignoring my blog was one of the only things I could control.

(sad trombone, right?)

Where my life as an individual has spun out in the last 5 weeks, I've been surrounded by a support system that's kept me afloat. It's true that blood is thicker than water, but there is no blood in this East Coast water. It's been heartening to watch the people I share space with help me rally--providing kind words, check-ins or emails of encouragement. I've grown closer to my roommate, to my home teachers, to those I serve on committee with. I've been privy to a sense of community with the LDS members in Boston as I've helped clean both the Temple and our Stake Center and committed myself to more frequently attending and serving in the Temple. I was able to attend the sealing of a dear friend and enjoy reuniting with so many good friends. The culture of my office is shifting to one I genuinely look forward to entering each day even with major changes afoot. Weekends have been spent with friends at Martha's Vineyard, at the beach, attending concerts, going dancing, and playing games. To put it mildly, I've been busy.

You may not know this, but I spend a lot of time alone. I don't mind it one bit--in fact I probably enjoy it too much. That's the truth and I've copped to always being honest. It's not that I'm out to prove my independence, I just don't mind being by myself. As cliched as it sounds, I've learned so very much about myself this last month. It hasn't been easy or kind but who doesn't have patches of black ice surprise them every now and then? However, looking at my interactions with the people around me this month, I find them extraordinary. Individually, I would have failed. Collectively, I'm more than treading water--I'm making my way upstream again.

There are innumerable lessons to draw from the experience I'm dancing around writing about--both good and bad--but I still feel 100 percent confident in my decision to stay in Boston. I have no where else to go nor do I want to go any where else.

And that's a good life indeed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

in short

The moral of the story is you'd have a post to read if I hadn't just spent 42 minutes reading my own blog.

I reread the 30-posts in 36 30-days I did back in April. It seemed to stretch on forever, but I think that was some of the best writing I've done to date. Perhaps having a topic to rally around helps me focus my thoughts better. I'm considering another list but lack the topics. Start spinning your wheels for me.

Then go over to my Formspring account and shoot a question or a phrase/comment/topic you'd like addressed. Now I'll quit being bossy and go back to being good-intentions-to-write-but-with-limited-follow-through.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Using a pool hall to explain my life

One of you sasspot readers asked me if I'd quit answering questions after promising to do so. Well played sasspot, well played. However, the question is a valid one as I have an inbox of questions nearly two months old. (Including one about kissing! But I haven't formed an appropriate response yet, but it's hilarious, so stay tuned.) Tonight, I roll forward and answer the following question:

If you were to take a paid sabbatical, and could spend 6 months anywhere, where would you go?

My answer begins at a pool hall on Friday night. I do not profess to be great at pool. Decent perhaps, but I'm not about the fleece anyone $20. I attribute my ability to pocket balls to the Wms. Family Reunion of 1999 where our lodge had a pool table and I didn't have much else to do. (I attribute my ability to appropriately pen pool references to all the books I read about the seedy under belly of urban cities.) During any game of pool, I have within me the ability to sink balls two at a time or make a run of the table. Sure, I can make people sweat--but I'm no true threat.

So it was Friday night. Playing well enough to arch an eyebrow every now and then and keeping myself from soul numbing embarrassment, I still lost the six games we played. (Besides the point. And yessssss, there is one.) However, during the course of our time at the pool hall, I explained that I was not super great at anything, but decently good at most everything. (Don't let the fact that I lost six games skew your opinion, I got sharked by a rich kid who grew up with a table in the house.)

So it is with my travel. (Finally, we've turned the corner.)

I'm just interested in GOING. I don't care to where, I don't care for how long, I just like to go.

When you travel, there are two kinds--invest and discover or hit it and quit it. I'm not a scholar well versed in Italian art. Nor am I endlessly fascinated by the religious uprising of the twelfth-century peasants in the region. This doesn't mean I haven't any interest in these things, it just means I have limited focus. I'd rather keep going and see more. Breadth over depth is my passion. It's not important to me to know the minutia of any one topic or place, but rather expose myself to the world in all it's vastness. (Does this make me shallow?!)

This all starts to make sense when you see my travel patterns; my love of cramming in as many cities, regions, and countries as possible. I have minimal plans to repeat vacation destinations. (It doesn't mean I won't, I just relish the thought of exploring something new.)

What would I do with a six month paid sabbatical cruise? (Found another corner!) Easy breezy. I'd go on a six month cruise of the world. All you could see, all you could take in, a cornucopia of visual and intellectual delights.

AND I LOVE A CRUISE. (more to come)

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm Natalie, I'm a Project Manager

Nothing in my life but work these days. Why? Well the other project manager in my office is out getting married and my boss' wife's baby unexpectedly came early so they're both crazily out having Life Change Summer 2010 while I'm trying to keep it all together. (And mostly failing to be honest.)

In that work-y vein, I think you should please go read this post I wrote about what it means to be a Project Manager at an interactive agency (jigga-what?) and how it relates to the redesign of a very important website. I think you'll find it enlightening on how I spend my 50+ hours a week when I'm not entertaining (ha!) you here.

So I wish you all a happy weekend with maximum sun and limited bummer news.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

O Canada

Back to the Real World is the name of today's game. In more crybaby ways than you can imagine, but none so important as the fact it's a 95-degree Boston summer day, and the AC is out on our floor. The 11th floor. And only our floor. We're insulated to some degree, but it's still a harsh reminder of how vacation is over.

Oh wow. And a vacation it was. Sixty-six hours door to door, and you won't believe all we did and everywhere we went in those 66 hours. I'm still processing all of it and will surely have more to say. How could I not? I basically spent 3 days in France by way of Canada.

Everything was supreme about our trip to Montreal, including the following:


We hiked, we ate, we danced, we told stories, we read, we made food, we drove (and drove [and drove]), we rode gondolas, we tried to learn French, we fell in love with the front desk reception girls, we photoed, we rode bikes, we lit sparklers on the deck, we talked about why we loved America, we swam, we played games... and more!

Now if it could just hurry up and long weekend again soon, that'd be great, thanks.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Where there's a will there's a wall

It always catches me by surprise when someone everyone makes reference to the fact I travel a lot. I mean, I wasn't always this way. A few years ago, I decided I was going to make it happen and, well... look where it got me. A few stamps in my passport and a lot of miles on my wheels. (I know, what? Sorry, it's 11:58pm on a Friday night. My ability to make correct metaphors is impaired.) When I booked a trip to Kansas City(!) in August(!!) to see Alicia(!!!) on the spur of the moment, I think I finally realized that it isn't all in people's heads.

My love of travel, my love of photos, and my tendency to start planning extravagant vacations when I'm feeling super stressed (true story) joined forces in decorating my bathroom. Not the greatest execution, but it gives me something to look at when I'm forever blow-drying my hair. I'm clearly behind in updating my photos (Buenos Aires y Mexico City, my loving apologies) but this is what I look at every day:

Bathroom Travel Wall

Rome, Barcelona, Ireland, London, Monaco, Paris, Mexico, Prague. It's a pretty fun where's where. But seeing this collage every day isn't really seeing it. In fact, I'd completely forgotten Montreal was on the list of "Wants" in the upper left.

Subliminally though, my brain knew what my eyes see multiple times a day. This is an alert to let you know I'm going off the grid for a few days, and the title of this coming long weekend trip shall be "Patriotic Party in America's Top Hat."

The Fourth of July is upon us. While I'm severely (and at times handicappingly) patriotic, the 4th also presents a long weekend for those of us not used to having a rigorous 4-day-a-week school schedule. Free time off! Warm weather! 3-day weekend! Good exchange rate!

That's right. I'm talking Canada. Nothing smacks of patriotism like taking our BBQ habits to the French Canadians.

I found a deal on a "200-acre mountain top domain with luxury mountain residences that offer breathtaking panoramic views with spacious balconies for your outdoor relaxation." (Do you think their copywriter gets paid by the syllable?) Condos with full kitchens!, wood-burning fireplaces!, outdoor BBQs!, heated pools!, hot tubs!, tennis!, surrounded by hiking, biking, outdoor curling and other natural Canadian forestry. Including Sasquatch. We play outside, we cook our own food, we light sparklers on the deck. Sounds like a win to me.

But who knows, maybe it'll be a giant bust and I should get more exclusive with the classy post-it notes. Maybe I'll learn my lesson and stay home for a change.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Quakers, Amish, and Mormons

I'm not sure why each of you come here to read my mind's wanderings. But I'll continue to spew content as my brain thinks it worthy enough to share. And as can clearly be evidenced below (Benji! Travis! Jacob! Edward!), the dumbest randomest thinks strike my brain every 2.8 seconds.

Awhile back, I wrote the first of several "Why I Believe" blogs about being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (A Mormon.) A goodly number of you know all about Mormons (because you are one or know many who are), but I imagine there's a chunk of you who are a bit lost.

I'm happy to announce a side project of mine that I'm oh so very excited about:

There's so much garbage online about the LDS church. And not the kind that's nicely bagged each week and left on the curb for the garbageman, but an actual landfill of filth bursting at the proverbial internet seams. Where we're all allowed to believe what we want (God bless America!), you'll not find me engaging in any kind of rants or conversation written to incite conflict with people who don't believe similarly as I do.

There are so few places online to read what it's like to live, act, and worship as a Mormon. Feel free to join me and help open conversation to those who are genuinely seeking what being a Mormon is all about. Because if four years of this blog has proven, we're not Quakers, Amish, or people who lack personality, right?

.... RIGHT?!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When life isn't rah! rah! rah!

I've felt somewhat adrift in the last year. A line item list could be provided as to the who, whats, and whys but that's a downer post and man, if you want that, believe me--you're bored already.

So life hasn't been nonstop rah! rah! rahs! the last year; but I also haven't been on the brink of epic meltdown either. Having flirted with periods of both, I'll staunchly endorse a plateau of steady, even days than the spikes of living in the extremes.

To lay it all out there in the name of honesty and transparency, I've been living selfishly. True, I wasn't actively making everything about me--but with so much time, talent, and resources--isn't doing nothing a passive form of selfishness? The parable in the Bible (someone want to help me out with a reference?) where three servants are given money and asked to use it, I've always wondered why the servant who held his money was punished. I'm learning.

I've been privy to some pretty incredible personal revelation in the last few weeks. Some of it I'll begin to share in the next little bit as the details are sorted out. For now, know that if you're wanting to make a change in your life--or realize you have rough corners that need sanding--I promise, promise, promise God will change your life and provide the sandpaper if you're willing to actually do the work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ebony and Ivory

Once upon a time, we all went to BYU. Now the first of us turned 30 and we celebrated at an all-out all-white (hold the irony) party in NYC.
Happy Birthday Jam. I think 30 is going to be a banner year for you.

Also? The growth spurt that left me nearly six feet tall has ended everywhere except my arms. They're now dragging on the floor when I walk. But the silver lining? I am one excellent dancer.

And I always raise the roof.

Monday, June 21, 2010

these are a few of my favorite things

So I took this photo when one of my girls wanted to know what I was wearing to the NBA Finals a few weeks ago. While posting a straight-up self-portrait that hasn't been seen since MySpace is definitely not one of my favorite things, I noticed something in looking at this photo. In a 500 by 500 pixel photo, I bet there are at least 50 of my favorite things to be seen.

So let's play a game. Sure, I could list all of them (and maybe have to start getting creative, but I really think there are 50 here), but I thought I'd crowd-source this post. You lurk on my life, so let's see what you really know about me.

these are a few of my favorite things

I'll start. Feel free to continue in the comments section. (Bonus points to he or she who spots the most, ((quadruple points for any male who spots any)) or who gives the most creative response.)

1. See that necklace in the top right corner? My dad gave it to my mom in the 80's after they were married. I received it for Christmas two years ago. I looooooooove statement jewelery and old timey things.
2. That full length mirror is a skinny one. (Objects are actually larger than they appear.) Who doesn't love a skinny mirror?

Ready... set.... go....!

PS -- I'm working on some real content, I promise. Humor me (and yourselves) for the time being. Yes this feels self indulgent and I've considered (six times now) taking it down, but I'm the sheriff of these parts. And your readers have already picked this up so the train left the station.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mormons in Business (CNBC)

Hi. Yes, I'm alive. Gathering the strength to return creating remarkable content to both stave off boredom from your work day and also to keep my personal history. Now isn't the moment to tackle the latter half of that quest, but rather to post an interesting news segment from CNBC about how serving a 2-year Mormon mission prepares missionaries to be successful international business leaders.

More than anything, I think it's a fascinating juxtaposition of two ideas. And it isn't often you see a neutral video. Take a look, it's worth it.

Believing n Mormon doctrine isn't a prerequisite to thinking what about this video?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Death March

I went to Colorado last week and climbed 550 stories straight up a mountain. No switchbacks, no lazing about hiking -- just a steady incline that didn't quit. Already at 6500 feet above sea level, you must climb another 2000 before you can quit. Air. Thin. Can't. Breathe. Heart. Explode.

This, from a girl who can't stand the stair stepper.

In the old days, the Manitou Incline was used to support construction and then turned into a touristy scenic ride.
Today, the incline is used to train Olympians. Which makes sense, because you have to be fit to do this hike. If my stamina was any indication, it's like I never exercised in my whole life. To my credit, my legs never hurt--it was just my lungs that burned and wheezed. Katie was a dear and a good motivator; she was probably happy to have a leisurely stroll. The good news was that my recovery times were good; a quick break, some deep gulping breaths of air to recenter my lungs, and off we went again.

The trail is tended well with railroad cross beams you have no choice but to climb. One step, then another, then another. 2800 times. Two thousand, eight-hundred times. I worked with varying rhythms to see what worked best. Answer = anything that put me closer to the top. There were middle sections so steep I had to use my hands and half crawl -- and I'm quite tall! (Again, major ups to shorty Katie.)

Everyone on the trail was chatty and kind--we ran into several of Katie's coworkers from the Olympic Committee. I had to remind myself I work a desk job and to quit getting anxious for being slow. I FINISHED AND THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS, RIGHT?!

Someone wisely didn't forewarn that the run down the mile was 3.5 miles. I only would have stressed about having energy storage, but all the run entailed was picking up your feet and keeping your balance. Quite exhilarating actually! Check out this sweet elevation map I found. It kind of hurts to look at, but it's a good hurt.

Oh right, it's also illegal. So don't get hurt on your 550 story climb to the top. I won't lie when I tell you the biggest motivation to finishing was the Diet Coke promised post-hike. You know me, I'm an easy sell.

I guess I can see why Katie keeps going back. In hindsight, it seems pretty cool and I feel pretty freaking tough for doing something so insanely strenuous on ill-prepared lungs. Then I remember what it feels like to feel your heart beating in your brain and imploring Katie to tell my family I was thrilled to be on the other side should it be my turn to up and die.

So the next time you find yourself in Colorado Springs, try being as tough as me huh? That means no Diet Coke at the finish line.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I can see Canada from my house

Surprise! I'm in Detroit.

I travel so rarely for work so this last minute trip for a client pitch was somewhat unexpected, but I all but volunteered to go. I love traveling for work. Why? Let me count the reasons.

1. I love staying in hotel rooms by myself. It feels glamorous. I let the maid have a break and didn't even have my room cleaned today.
2. Chocolate cake via room service last night. Chocolate cake via PF Changs today. (Filled my yearly quota now thanks.)
3. I can see Canada from my hotel window. Apparently my Midwestern geography is crummy because I had no idea the border was so close. The next time I'm here, I'm definitely getting a car so I can drive to Canada.
4. Um, look who's staying at my hotel?
Well, I'm headed to Colorado Springs tomorrow for the long holiday weekend. I haven't had a camera for several months, but I'm sure Katie will take enough photos to share. Happy Memorial Day everyone.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It hasn't even rained that much this month

But somehow, I keep finding myself outside for 3+ hours at a time--hunkered down in pouring rain--visible breath, hair getting curly, undergarments growing damp.

visiting coworkers + crazy expensive seats supplied by work + fenway park = staying longer than would otherwise be considered sane. Still a wicked fun time.

Of course this morning shone sunny and bright. Projected 80 degrees.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

do two halves make a whole?

Well now. I've officially run my second and final half marathon. Where last year was sunny skies and perfect weather, Mother Nature decided she'd compensate for last year's loveliness by testing the stamina and our will-to-live-ness with 45-degree weather and pouring rain.

The weather in the days leading up to the race was picturesque--both Mallory and I were planning to run in tank tops and shorts. But sometimes 'man plans and God laughs', so we found ourselves at Target the night before the race, trying to buy cold weather running gear. If I had a gratitude journal, I'd have a big ole star next to my $13-clearanced men's long-sleeve winter wicking shirt.

We set off at the crack of down and it rained the whole drive to New Hampshire. We fueled up on bagels and the rationalization that the sooner the race started, the sooner it would end, and the sooner we could see Iron Man 2 (in IMAX!).

Wonder of wonders, the rain stopped right as we parked to register for the race. We got our numbers, stood in a very long line to use the bathroom, and eventually made our way to the starting line.

In a cruel and appropriate twist of ironic fate, the rain started coming down 30 seconds before the race began. It would only get heavier as the minutes ticked and the miles dragged on. To pass time (no ipods for these Wms runners!) I alternated watching the water my shoes kicked up with each step and the cloud of steam each exhalation created.

The course is somewhat hilly--shockingly, our best miles were the rolling hills of miles 6-10. Go us! I'm pretty sure the man standing on top of his car, playing a ukulele and hula-hooping put a little pep in our step.

I won't lie, the last few miles were pretty rough. I'm sure a combination of cold joints, uneven pavement, and hypothermic onset due to wind chill played a part in our slower last few miles, but it's nothing I'll complain about. We set out to finish, and we did. I may have had to have someone else re-tie my shoe as my hands were blue and frozen, but by george--we finished!

Death by Half Marathon

If you do the math based on our finish time, you'll see that we clearly weren't in it to win it. And I know our time looks and seems slow--I've had to fight the urge from Day 1 of training to apologize for being slow. But here's the thing: I just don't care. If you've followed my journey (if we were watching Biggest Loser, I'd make you take a shot) at all, you know that my training two-years running has been somewhat of a reluctant one. I don't find joy in the running. I didn't last year, and I haven't discovered it this year. I think we can all agree now that I've given it an honest go.

Training for these halves has been somewhat of a metaphor for my life. In some kind of masochistic way, I've run these races to prove I can do anything I set my mind to. And what seems batship crazy and improbable eventually can become a reality. And you can still hate it, but you got to the finish line eventually.

And before this post veers off into Oprah levels of philosophic hoo-ha, I shall finish with the wise wisdom, that sometimes, all it takes is a great reward at the finish:

Mallory is a rockstar (and already planning for her next Half).

Also? I quit long distance running. Time to find somewhere else to bring the pain.

Monday, May 10, 2010

trust me, the ugly will be coming...

... because it poured freezing rain for 13.1 straight miles. Honest to goodness--it didn't rain one minute of time Mallory was here other than the few hours of the race.

More write-up will be coming about the race from hell once the official race photos come online. Because who doesn't want to see photos of us soaking wet, drenched to the bone, and puffing clouds of visible frosty breath?

For now, enjoy the pretty.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I often go walking through meadows of clover

To my beautiful mother, grandmothers, aunt-mothers, cousin-mothers, and the friend-mothers in my life--

You give me something to aspire to be. Because frankly, I don't know how to be anything but selfish. Maybe one day.

The pictures that follow are the most influential mothers in my life -- my own mom, her mom, my aunt, my dad's mom, and my sister-mom.

Maybe this year I'll get a house plant and take it for a test drive. Any one have suggestions on a plant that won't break my heart?

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!