On The Road

As I write this we are somewhere in Illinois and have driven 2,165 miles so far in our trip. We are headed to Nashville today where my aunt lives.  I will wait to give you a recap of our trip but a few things we’ve learned so far:

1. You can’t take a 16 foot box trailer across the Hoover Dam.

2. You can’t sneak a dog through an X-ray machine at a national monument.

3. Uploading photos through a car Wifi can easily eat up your entire phone plan in a matter of minutes.

And most of all:

Everyone should take the time to drive America, especially the back roads.

 

 

Trailers and Tornados

I’m finally back! After a few crazy weeks!  I’ve never gone that long without writing. It took me a few days to figure out how to log into my WordPress from the road, mostly because my passwords were buried underneath a ton of stuff in the back of the truck.

And now I’m typing this in the car connected to the Internet. Sending info to space and back from the truck from somewhere around Topeka, KS. Amazing.

We are on our 4th day cross country to the Hemlock Inn.  Brett has been driving mostly because I am a disaster with the trailer.  It starts swaying when I drive it.  The truck even flashed “sway alert” at me a few times.  I could drive it all by myself and I’d be fine but something about having people in the car causes stage fright:

 

I meant to write the past few days but the cell coverage has just been really spotty and then I couldn’t remember my password it had been so long.  Then yesterday as I was trying to wrap up a post: TORNADO.

What are the odds that we run into a Tornado?! I kept looking at the doppler and all the weather was way north until a small patch just appeared on the screen suddenly.  Like a bad dream. We had just gotten into Kansas and we were relieved that all the bad weather seemed to be north of us. We were in the middle of nowhere, and it was beautiful:

Then somewhere along the way….where there was literally no civilization for miles and miles…I was teaching Boo how to pee on the side of the road…and she burned her bum tailpipe. (of all the places to sit down she sat down against the tailpipe?!) Before we started out again I took a photo of the clouds and sunset behind us:

Slowly, for about an hour, the clouds were starting to rotate and form a wall:

YES I TOOK THIS PHOTO. IT LOOKS LIKE A MOVIE SCENE.

Brett: That looks circular to me.

Me: I think we might be okay. Anyway, if that was a tornado it would be about a category F100.  That thing is huge.

But then as I watched it I wasn’t so sure.  I crawled across the seats to get a better look of the clouds and what looked like little finger like funnels forming off of it.  It looked like we were in front of it and from the animated radar I pulled up on my phone it seemed like we were too.

As we pulled through the small town of Lakin and just as we did the radio started emitting the emergency broadcast signal.

“a tornado has touched down in Lakin”

Me: We are IN Lakin. That is the tornado!

We kept going because there was no place to take shelter but as the road turned north we soon found ourselves in the middle of it.  Everything was purple and just like the movie Twister farm debris was moving across the road. It was chaos as we tried to determine the best plan of action. Then suddenly we passed a gas station and it gave us an option. and Brett flipped a u-turn and we headed back.

We pulled into the parking lot with the trailer. The only sign of life was an 18 wheeler with its lights on.  I grabbed the dog and Brett grabbed Boo. Boo was so scared she began vomiting all over the pavement. That’s when I snapped this photo:

 

We left the truck and the trailer in the middle of the parking lot and ran to the door. The gas station had already been locked down…a woman came to the door and quickly unlocked it. Inside she directed us to a small janitor’s closet. The tornado alarms kept going off every few minutes.  The locked doors began to shake and hiss and squeal and we stayed there until it all quieted down. And my life flashed before my eyes and I pictures all of ouse being sucked up into a tornado as the building disappeared around us. And we just prayed that God would keep us safe.

And he did. Thank you God.

And today, except for some hail damage to the truck windshield, everything is back to normal again.

The crazy thing is a few days ago I had an eerie premonition of trying to outrun a tornado. In a matter of a few days we traded earthquake country for tornado country. The difference is that I know exactly what to do in an earthquake… but not in a tornado.

More tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Still Here

Yes I am still here.  Just trying to fit a few months of work into just 2 weeks.  Here is my progress:

Becoming Minimalist....literally

Oh and I took a day off to attend Elevate this year too.  It was nice change and I got to see some old friends and make some new ones.  I think this photo proves that I just can’t be serious…I sat next to Ashley Stock (Little Miss Momma) for most of the conference and we had a little too much fun. I so glad she posted this photo….even though I have sideburns from trying to grow my hair out a little:

 

I finally got a chance to meet Lisa Leonard too.  Love her inspirational message:

 

Desiree of 36th Avenue was so funny and inspirational too but I spaced out on photography for the 1st half of the conference.  I love that Elevate started at 10:30am and ended after dinner.  That’s my kind of conference.  Oh, and I sold my car so I had to hitch a ride with my in-laws to the beach where Brett was working so he could watch Boo. Just a little hectic…but I tend to thrive on chaos I guess.

So June 1st is our departure date for moving to the Hemlock Inn! Still need to finalize our stops…and yes I might be emailing a few of you still.  Thank you for all the offers of hospitality. I can’t think of anything cooler than staying with readers along the way….even if it’s just parking in the driveway. So we’ll see what works out!

Brett and I drove to Beaumont today to look at a trailer to bring with us cross country.  We won’t be able to fill it anymore because we’ve gotten rid of so much stuff but with a few “renovations” it will serve as a great “writing” room if I need more quiet space at the Inn.

My friend Megan is coming over to help me tomorrow prepare for the moving sale on Saturday.  I’ve still got a “maybe” pile that I haven’t decided on yet.  I pulled some sentimental items out of the pile to help raise some funds for a few readers in need tonight and tomorrow.  You can view those items here. Wish I could help everyone that asks but we are running almost on empty over there. Maybe you need some artwork or a Tiffany bowl? Thank you!

 

Cleaning House

It’s official: I now have more plastic storage bins than actual possessions.  (although I guess plastic bins are possessions too?)

 

All those were once full. In the last two months I’ve gotten rid of over 5,000 pounds of belongings. Sorting, selling, weekly trips to charities. It’s quite embarrassing actually. And it’s been an extensive process because I just don’t want things to end up in a landfill….so I have to get creative. We built our house to have unlimited storage….and now all that storage is empty.  I can’t imagine anywhere close to that much stuff ever again.  I will write about this process soon….it’s been a very long one and I can tell you it’s changed me.  It’s changed our whole family.  Our closets are empty.  Our shelves and storage rooms are empty. Of course we still have work to do over the next 2 weeks still.  We’ve started to say goodbye to friends here in the desert and it’s becoming more real that we are making such a huge change.  I have more to tell you about all of this but there are still things falling into place and I will share very soon.  I’m off to the Elevate Conference this weekend in Newport.  Excited for a short weekend break before my last two weeks of wrapping up all loose ends.  And then I can get back on my regular blogging schedule!

We plan on being at the Hemlock Inn by Brett’s birthday, June 9th (his 40th).  We’ll be celebrating my birthday probably at the Grand Canyon on the 2nd (I’m envisioning a candle in a chocolate Ding Dong…that would be so awesome.)  Thank you for all the recommendations along the way…we will be making quick stops. (and maybe staying with a few of you who happen to be on the route…wayfarers on our way to a new life!)

 

What I Would Take to a Deserted Island

My family. My books and journals. Water?

We were going to go to church this morning but I have a horrendous cough.  We stayed home instead and made biscuits with apple butter.  Brett and Boo know me way too well because I got books from the two of them this morning:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller
and
Love Wins by Rob Bell


The Best Mommy in the World. That’s what my card says.

 

We spent the rest of the day packing up boxes and sorting more things for our move.  I did manage to get a photo of Boo and I yesterday at the Mother’s Day Tea at school:

 

It’s been a process getting rid of 30+ years of belongings and collections as we gear up for a simpler life. Last night we went to our usual pizza place and Boo took all of her 10K+ loose crayons for their almost empty bins. She even refilled them herself:

This has been good for us.  The more we get rid of the more we want to get rid of. It’s a domino effect.  I’ve made at least 2 thrift store runs a week and we plan to have a big moving sale for the remaining items right before we leave.  And the house we’ll hopefully still sell furnished (furniture, plates and silverware, pots, artwork…even the fish in the fish tank!)

Boo doesn’t want to really keep much at all….just her books and her dolls.  (Goodbye Barbie Dream House!)  Brett and I have narrowed our closets down to the bare necessities.  I’ve kept some craft supplies and tools so I can keep doing DIY on the blog but really we are only taking what we can haul with us.  No movers, no storage.  I feel like I’ve been playing that “what would you take on a deserted island” game for the past few weeks!

Except I do have that one issue: books. I haven’t really been able to get rid of any.  Actually not true…I did remove 2 from the pile, but only because they were duplicates. And I sorted my piles by memoir, fiction, self help, etc.  OCD. And when I try to pack them I end up rearranging piles: might want to read before I leave. pack last. leave out of boxes. hide in suitcase. hide in camera bag.

I did hand pick some items for the blue label page to help fund our move and the next few months as we figure things out.  Thank you for all the support. What’s on the page is just about the last of everything.  I can’t wait to get through all of this craziness so I can focus full time on writing finally.  We are leaving June 1st regardless of whether the house sells. We’ll just leave it. And rely on faith that it will sell in its right time.

(Note: Need to figure out the best way to get Internet in the car on the way cross country: hot spot phone or just stand alone hot spot?)

Hope you had a wonderful day!

 

Planning a Roadtrip

How to plan a roadtrip via lilblueboo.com #quote

22 days until we move cross country to the Hemlock Inn! I’ve been plotting out our route using Roadtrippers. I added our start and finish points and then a few crucial stops in between. It’s still moving around but the whole trip is planned around visiting Lindsborgh, Kansas where my grandfather’s old farmhouse still stands and 2 of the presidential libraries on the trajectory back down to North Carolina.You can click here to see the itinerary.  Let me know if there’s any place you think we should stop (as long as it’s not too far out of the way….northern states will be another summer!).

Cross country roadtrip from California to North Carolina

 

A few cool things about Roadtrippers:

1. It plots the most efficient route and when you add new destinations along the way it’s easy to drag them into chronological order and everything recalculates.

2. You can zoom in and see what sites are nearby and click through for more info.  It’s easy to click and add to your trip or to your bucket list:

3. Each site even has a “rad-o-meter” that tells you if it’s worth stopping:

4. The blogs. That’s how I found this amazing timelapse of the Albuguerque Balloon Festival:

 

I also like Roadside America. Mostly because I am a huge fan of offbeat tourist attractions.  I also just love wandering and exploring abandoned places.

Oh, and I still have to have a BIG paper map or over-sized atlas.

What was your favorite road trip or one you can’t wait to take one day?

 

The Prayer that Changes Everything

-From God is in the Tough Stuff

 

Yesterday morning, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt a profound sadness. I walked past Boo’s room and she was still asleep. I walked slowly out into the living room and past the spot on the top of the couch that Diesel is usually on. Usually I would say “good morning my little D!” and he would strrreeeettttchhhh out and yawn and roll over on his back. Only this morning he wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere. He was lost.

The night before the smoke detector in the hallway had been going off from a low battery. Brett was out of town so I had to drag in a heavy ladder myself to try and reach it. I finally was able to change the battery and put the heavy 16’ ladder back outside. And then….it started beeping again. I was so flustered and frustrated…the ladder had scratched the wall…a bird outside was perfectly mimicking the detector’s screech….and now I had to drag the ladder back in. While I was propping the back gate open to bring the ladder back in I let Diesel into the driveway. I didn’t think much of it because I figured it would only be a few minutes and the driveway is gated too. Only a few minutes turned into much longer….and when I finally realized that he was still out there I ran out and he was no where to be found. Boo and I ran out to the front of the house and looked for him. No sign. We checked everywhere. All the sudden the panic set in. We live on busy street where people might not be paying attention to a little dog. Diesel is so tiny that he is not much taller than the curb.

As the sun set and reality set in that Diesel really WAS missing, I called Brett. There wasn’t anything he could do but I was trying to make sure we had covered all of Diesel’s hiding places. I checked the pool. We walked up and down the street with our flashlights yelling “Diesel! Daddy’s home!” because that’s usually what will bring him running from any hiding place. My father-in-law showed up and he re-searched the front yard and some nearby streets. I made some flyers and started putting them on every sign I could think of. It was cold and windy and the large bark from the palm trees was all over the road. Every time I saw a bark piece I would stop breathing and my heart started racing because I thought it was for sure a crumpled Diesel. We had pretty much exhausted our search. I put Boo to bed and I walked the streets a few more times. No Diesel. As I locked the doors for the night I put his bed out back and put some towels at the front door in case he made his way back. And I prayed. And somehow fell asleep.

*****

So I woke up the yesterday morning and felt that profound sadness. I woke Boo and started to make her breakfast and I couldn’t stop crying. Boo walked up several times and hugged me “don’t worry Mommy, it will all be okay.” I told her I knew it would but I didn’t want to think about the next few days if we didn’t find him. We prayed and ate our breakfast. We hurried to get ready and I printed out 100 more “LOST” flyers:

Lost Diesel Sign

I knew I needed to exhaust every option but it seemed so daunting to do on my own. My friend Katie told me about Lost My Doggie, a service that helps with the administrative side. I paid the fee and they sent flyers to all the local vets and shelters. They called 500 of my neighbors within a few mile radius.

Boo took flyers to school and handed them out to her teachers. I was supposed to be at preview presentation for the Global Leadership Summit. I went and checked in but then snuck out to drive around and tape up a few flyers. My friend Shari had emailed a bunch of people she knew and someone said they’d seen a sign at Circle K for a lost dog. I drove anxiously to Circle K and the sign was for a small white dog…not Diesel. I talked to the cashier and asked her if I could hang up my own sign. She said of course and then said she’d seen some large neon signs on her way to work that said a small black and tan dog had been found. I drove quickly to that location, only about a half mile away, and called the number. The woman was excited that I might be the owner but when she used the word “she” my heart sank. I drove back to the presentation I was supposed to be at….a few minutes late. I snuck in and my phone started ringing. I walked out each time to answer. Someone said “they’ll leave a message you know” and I wanted to say “if your child was kidnapped would you risk someone leaving a voicemail?” I felt physically ill sitting there trying to concentrate and decided to leave a little early. I handed a guy a flyer on the way home and he said “I hope a coyote didn’t get him.” An email in my inbox told me to check Craig’s list repeatedly because sometimes people try to sell dogs they steal. My mind was on overdrive: Coyote? Doggy trafficking? Poor, poor Diesel….

*****

At home the house seemed so quiet and empty. Every time I walked past his bed, or his little cave in the pantry or where he sat in the sun every morning it was too much. I couldn’t work or eat. We are moving in almost 3 weeks, what if we didn’t find him by then? It’s not like he could trek cross country. And if someone found him we’d never see the signs once we moved. And I felt horrible because Diesel had been pawing at my leg earlier in the day wanting to be held and I’d brushed him off.  I noticed he hadn’t even eaten his breakfast and his blood sugar would be low. He hadn’t had his medicine he needs daily.  It could not have experienced an ounce of joy in that moment. I walked back to my bedroom and saw Diesel’s beloved dodo bird squeaky toy. And I lost it.

Why?

 

And the only thing I could do was pray:

God, please keep Diesel safe. Watch over him. I know he’s old and we won’t have him forever but this is not the way it’s supposed to happen. Please give me guidance on how to find him. If he’s alive or with you.  Our hearts are broken. I’m listening. I’m know I’ve been off track the last few weeks…sidetracked with minutia. Not able to let go of things. Okay I’ll let go of it all. I think that’s the message here right? That I was neglecting my poor doggy and probably everyone else in my life? Did you know yesterday was our wedding anniversary? I can’t bear to think that it might also forever mark the day that Diesel disappeared. If this is your will then help us see that too.  Please bring good out of this.  I know you will, I don’t know why I said that. Just show us the good. please. please. …..please. I don’t know what to do. Please show me what to do.

And I was on my knees praying. Face up to ceiling. Tears streaming. Pleading. Partially hysterical. It was not pretty. I can honestly tell you I have never prayed like this before. And honestly I didn’t expect it to turn out the way I wanted it to. That would be too easy right?

Me: God, please bring Diesel back to me.

God: Oh, ok. Shazaam.

 

After a few minutes I got up and grabbed my phone off the bed.

And I saw a notification. I’d been tagged on Facebook by Lisa: ASHLEY HACKSHAW!!!

And then she was calling me on the phone. I picked up:

Lisa: Is that Diesel in the picture? It looks like him but I can’t be 100% sure.

I clicked on the comment and it took me to this:

Diesel found on Facebook

 

THAT IS DIESEL.


*****


The woman on the phone was named Shannon. After I stopped crying tears of joy she told me the story. She said she and a friend had been driving home late the night before and saw Diesel on the road. They picked him up. He was stressed out and scared. She bought him some food and he ate hungrily. He peed on her floor mat.  She held him in towel.

She gave me her address and I drove that way.

When I pulled up I couldn’t believe it. A few hours earlier, on my way back from Circle K, I had passed a postal truck and had this overwhelming feeling I needed to stop and give him a flyer. I got out of my car and gave the flyer to the mail carrier and asked if he would keep his eyes peeled for any “FOUND” signs.

And I had been standing right in front of the apartment that Diesel was in. I didn’t think it was coincidence.

The Prayer that Changes Everything Stormie Omartian via Lil Blue Boo / Ashley Hackshaw #quote

 

My mother used to send me so many photocopies of pages out of The Prayer that Changes Everything that she finally just bought me the whole book. Chapter 29 has so much great wisdom in it. When I read this quote by Jim May I realized it summed me up pretty quickly. I have daily experiences with God, but I’m not always so clearly devoted to him.

In the darkness Jim May quote via Lil Blue Boo / Ashley Hackshaw #quote

 

I don’t know why Diesel was lost and and then found. But I do know that it reset me yesterday. In a jarring way. Sometimes I need to be freed from myself and all of life’s distractions.  To give thanks.

“Praise becomes the very means by which God pours himself into our lives.”  -S.O.

Today I’m thankful Diesel is home and we have more time with him. I’m thankful that our prayers were answered. So many people were praying. So many people were helping.  In any way you could. Lisa found the post of Diesel by searching Google over and over “lost pet Palm Desert” and that’s how she stumbled across the photo of Diesel.  What are the odds of that?  Our real estate agent Lori  announced it at her meetings.  She said there was loud applause when the good news came through. Neighbors I’d never even met before called to see how they could help. A few called just to see if he’d been found after getting the “doggie alert” on their voicemails. My friend Juliet stopped by with neon signs and after hearing the good news went and removed all the “lost dog” signs around the neighborhood. Thank you. Thank you.

And a huge thank you to Shannon who saw Diesel and took the time and effort to scoop him up to provide him refuge for the night.  I can’t imagine he would have made it through the night otherwise. She even fed him organic food.  And let him pee freely in her home.  We are so grateful.

Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies. – Mother Teresa

 

Diesel seems back to normal today. Last night Boo and I asked him if he wanted to go on a walk and he ran and hid in my closet for a few hours.  I think he had enough of the outside world for a while.

Oh, and the smoke detector is still beeping. But who really cares about that now….

 

P.S. You can see Diesel in real life in the short we made below.  Yes he’s shorter than the curb.

 

 

Fighter Fires

On my wall this week:

Nothing in Life is to be Feared #quote #chalkboard

At dinner tonight we sat next to a table of Cal Fire Firefighters (or fighter fires as Boo calls them). As they got their food their alarms started going off and half the group darted out to the ladder truck. Boo walked over and asked the remaining group of firemen why they didn’t have to go too. I guess only one of the trucks was called but it turned out to be a false alarm and they returned a few minutes later. Boo chatted with them for a few minutes.  The firemen learned that becoming a firefighter is probably the last choice on Boo’s list of careers.  Her fear of fire on a scale of 1 to 10 is probably 12,535,105.  They gave her a badge anyways. She wasn’t born with a fear of fire, it’s grown over time.  The fire atop the mountains last year, that threatened friends homes and covered our home in ash didn’t help.  And then there was the house that burned down across the street.  Oh and the Fairfield Inn that burned last week right down the street. I don’t blame her one bit.  Fire scares me too.

She idolizes those firemen….because “they are brave of the fire.”

(i.e. they understand it)

Thank you God for first responders.

I love this GoPro video of a fighter fire saving a kitten:

 

 

 

Where You Look is Where You Go

I was asked a few months ago to teach a class at the SNAP Conference in Utah.  I was humbled, honored, and mostly nervous.  I’d never taught a sewing class before. The sewing class went great and I’ll share more about that project another day because that would be a huge tangent from this post.

So I went to the conference.  It’s my third year attending (even though I missed last year).  Dana had asked me a while back if I would share a room with her.  I was like YES immediately.  Then a few days later Dana asked if I’d mind if Katy and Delia stayed with us too in the room.  I started to have some anxiety….staying with three girls I really didn’t know that well when usually I stay by myself?!  This is one of those instances where you should always say YES.  Even though it’s crazy and outside of your comfort zone.  And I said yes.

The first night it was just Dana and I. We stayed up until 3am catching up and talking about what we’d been working on.  The next day Katy and Delia showed up. I’d never met them in person before.  And I had reservations about sharing the tiniest bed ever with someone I’d just met, and a bathroom with three others, and what kind of pajamas do grown women wear because I just wear an old t-shirt and yoga pants to bed?! Katy and I ended up sharing a bed and I think the funniest part of that first night was realizing we had identical gray t-shirt and black yoga pants pajamas.  It’s funny how you think you know someone from reading their stories online…but you truly don’t know someone until you’ve met them in person. Even then, you might not really get to know them. What I loved about getting to know these women is that it was so effortless to hang with them…and I learned so much in just a few short days.

A bunch of us decided to go late one night to meet a few other local bloggers at a restaurant for dessert (women who also blog but hadn’t attended the conference.) Anneliese had the idea to come up with questions and we would go around the table one by one and answer them. We went around the table one by one and answered the same question. First: How did you meet your husband? then What did you do before you started a blog? The answers were very diverse but there was one trend….every woman at the table was Mormon. Except for me.  I joked that somehow I had infiltrated their group.

I told them how years ago two young men had come to my door and had tried to tell me about the Book of Mormon….but I must have been their first door….because the pitch was horrible.  I made them come in the house and try again.  After they’d had some water and cooled off, I interrogated them: Who would send you here in the middle of summer to knock on doors?  Don’t they know it’s 115 degrees?  You look nice in your suit but it’s just too hot for that kind of clothing this time of year. Did anyone in this neighborhood even open their door for you? Half the neighbors leave for the summer…for good reason..it’s TOO HOT to be outside. We need to get your introduction nailed down or no one is going to even hear you out. You won’t make it a week out here!  Here’s my number you call me if anyone give you a hard time okay? And they were the nicest kids.  For the longest time I thought about them and that I should have just asked them to come by a few more times while they were in the desert to hear them out…even if I was just practice for their mission. I always wonder where they are now.

Anyway, as we went around the table telling all of our stories, everyone’s stories (except mine) involved something Mormon-specific.  It got to be funny because someone would mention BYU and I would just feign surprise.  You went to BYU? You met your husband at BYU? You are Mormon? I’m shocked! But there was so much I didn’t know about the Mormon/LDS church and each person would consciously stop and explain some name or term they used, before I even asked. It was like they didn’t want me to feel left out. I didn’t expect it…but hope they know how much I appreciated it. (Christie, Jessica, Danielle, and Cheri too!)

*****

So on the last day of the conference I sat in the afternoon pondering which afternoon class I should go to, but all I could think about was the temple. I wanted to see it, and maybe pick up another Book of Mormon (because somehow I lost the one the two young men had brought me.) At some point I just stopped pondering….and walked straight out the side door of the hotel.

It was cold and rainy and I had little more than a thin hoodie to keep me warm.  I literally froze solid waiting for the train to arrive. Once on the train car I asked a woman if I was headed the right direction. She said yes.  She told me she was going to the homeless shelter for the night.  I saw her eyeing my hot pink “SPEAKER” badge.  ”This is your stop,” she said a few moments later.  The door didn’t open and I stood there like an idiot.  She got up from her seat and pressed some magic button that opens the door.  “I’m a train newbie,” I said to her.  She just smiled and said “You’ll be an expert soon.”

Getting off the train it was windy and my umbrella began to come apart….literally in pieces. I wasn’t sure where I was going so I ventured into the building labeled “Church Museum.” (if you get to Salt Lake go through the museum, the history of the church is fascinating and the artifacts in the museum blew me away). I told the lady at the front desk that I only had about a half hour to see everything, so maybe she could plot out the must-sees.  She motioned for a man named David to come over and asked him to give me a quick tour.  I’d walked in with another family and the husband said to me “It’s all true.”  I didn’t know how I felt about someone trying to warn me that “it was all true” before I’d even had a chance to doubt…but I liked his enthusiasm. I think I really walked into the tour like I’d won the lottery.

I got the VIP tour and I began wishing I had more time.  I asked David, my tour guide, question after question.  I was literally glued to every detail. So much of the Mormon religion I already believed for myself without even knowing.  And I was truly, deeply interested in this common thread that all my new friends had.

 

 

After the tour I thanked David and went on my way with my map of the church campus. I ran across the street (I think I jaywalked…I’m bad at navigating city-life) through the iron gates of Temple Square.

 

I stood in front of the temple (now drenched from the rain) in awe, with my half broken umbrella. The tabernacle was closed due to rehearsal but I could hear the muffled singing of the choir and suddenly it dawned on me that I’d actually left a conference, traveled by train and trekked through the freezing rain to see a temple I couldn’t even go into.  And when normally I would have felt anxiety about missing something or the appearance of having bailed…I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be.  I just stood there for a few moments. I thought about the woman who was on the bus headed to a homeless shelter for the night, who had helped me find my way. I thought about the effort that went into this temple and the trek to Utah and Salt Lake City by this group of people over a 100 years ago. And I thought about the persecution. And I thought about my new friends and how they had embraced me as a non-Mormon. And my soul took a huge picture of it all:

True spiritual experience often begins in those instants when your soul takes a picture of things. -Rob Bell

 

*****

This is definitely not the conference recap post I ever expected to write.  I could post a gazillion photos of the fancy decor and the sponsor booths and myself standing with famous people….but I didn’t really take any photos. I could sit here and tell you what an amazing time I had at the conference, how many amazing people I met, how much I learned from the classes etc…but I won’t do that because I skipped some of them and I don’t want anyone to know whose I skipped.  Honestly, I think I somewhat checked out for some of the time because it was as if I was going through this identity crisis: who am I? what am I? where do I want to go with all of this?

I think conferences can be intimidating if you let them be.  It’s easy to start wondering where you stack up against other blogs.  And at blogging conferences people don’t naturally ask you your name…they ask what your website is, as if that’s who you are.  It’s a strange phenomenon. The other thing is that people gravitate toward small groups….because that’s just human nature.  We are looking to connect.  It starts to seem cliquish but I don’t think anyone means to be that way…you look for where you are comfortable.  I do try to wander but it just starts to look like I’m walking around aimless and lost.

Another reason blog conferences can be intimidating: there is a lot going on in the blog world. And you start to look at the class list and attend classes and you realize you aren’t doing anything right.  Your page views are low, you should be monetizing things to bring in income, you aren’t utilizing social media, your photos stink, you need sponsors, sponsors etc etc….it’s all overwhelming if you look at it like that.  But I think that’s why I checked out a little….I had an epiphany:

I create my own path.

Ok maybe it’s not a huge epiphany for most people….but it was for me.  It’s way too easy to compare myself to others and start feeling like I need to be doing what everyone else is doing.  I always feel like I’m so behind on the trends and the social media and it all just makes my head hurt. And all I really want to do is write and share and support others.  This quote is written on an 8 foot tall chalkboard in my office….this is my vision for each day….and when I’m focused on so many other peripheral things I probably accomplish this 10% of the time, or maybe that’s generous:

Stretch to others (where you look is where you go) via lilblueboo.com #quote Sylvia Plath Quote from my journal

Noelle Pikus-Pace spoke at dinner one night at the conference.  She told some great stories about the Olympics….one ending with the moral:

Where you look is where you go.

It stuck with me.  I couldn’t stop thinking about all the minutia I kept getting bogged down in.

Even though I didn’t take any photos, I did happen to be in a few photos…like this one of  my conference roommates and my friend Anneleise. Anneleise offered to take me on a tour of temple square…which is what planted the seed. (She was going to a funeral beforehand and I wasn’t quite ready for a Mormon funeral.) I think I met my match in Dana for asking questions….she’s really inquisitive and I love that. I threw just as many questions back at her because she used to work in the film industry and, well, I’ve seen every movie ever made (or at least 92% of them).  Our best discussions were about opportunities we’d walked away from recently because our hearts weren’t in them.  It was so refreshing to hear someone else’s perspective on choosing what is right for you personally, despite what the industry thinks is the trend.  I learned how Katy grew up with artist parents and it really opened my eyes to what Boo might be experiencing.  And I loved hearing her talk about her children (I secretly wish I’d been named Olive or Divine)…and I think she just makes me want to be a better mother all around.  Katy brought us all honey in a hand engraved jar she made…she’s embarking on a beekeeping journey (I think that’s what you call it).  We talked a lot about zero waste lifestyles and I’m inspired to focus on treating the planet better. (so inspired that I bought the book Zero Waste Home on my phone while we were talking) And Delia…just the sweetest. Over lunch one day she told Dana and I that both of her parents are deaf, something she really hasn’t ever shared publicly.*  It really uprooted me.  I think I said “that’s amazing” a few times which wasn’t what I meant. It’s just that I can’t imagine a childhood with two parents who live in a world of silence. I still can’t. Hearing her talk about her experiences growing up put me through this range of emotions I can’t even begin to describe except that I felt awe, grief, curiosity and reverence all at the same time.

*I talked with Delia about sharing this multiple times and she was okay with it.  I wouldn’t just share a detail like this.

 

Before my phone starts ringing off the hook I should clarify that I’m not converting to Mormonism (at least not today).  I don’t like putting labels onto things.  I’ve been non-denominational pretty much my whole life until I became a member of our local Presbyterian church last year.  I love the people I’ve met there but I’ve had kind of a hard time with the direction they seem to be heading.  I think I feel most comfortable just being on my own, feeling like I can attend any church and any denomination at any time.  Most importantly: I remain committed to Christ. I think that’s all that matters. My friend Shivaun bought me a subscription of Give Us this Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic.  She visited a few weeks ago and picked up the March magazine off my desk. Well, I can see you’ve enjoyed the March readings. It was STILL in the plastic mailing sleeve.  Embarrassing. But, I DID open the April Magazine.  I read it today and the reflection is on the Way of the Wind:

In the face of uncertainty, it takes honestly and courage to acknowledge our dependence on God. [...] We never fully know where that life comes from or where it will take us. The scene from the Acts of Apostles is a beautiful example of what happens when a community dedicates itself to this gift of hope. The disciples of Christ sold their property and laid it at the feet of the apostles. They gave their possessions, their land, and their lives so that they could be utilized in whatever way the Wind wanted. They allowed themselves to be swept up into the turbulent and hopeful life of the Spirit. They were born again from above. -David Farina Turnbloom, April 29th Give Us This Day**

Oh my gosh. YES. That’s what I want. I want to allow myself to be swept up in the turbulent and hopeful life of the Spirit. And let my soul just take picture after picture.Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  I’m going at my own pace (which is sometimes BACKWARDS….yes).  In just a few shorts weeks (literally ONE MONTH) I’m leaving everything I know behind and moving to the Hemlock Inn for our year’s adventure…and I’m excited to just be experiencing, writing and sharing about it all.  I want to spend more time engaged with readers and supporting the other bloggers and writers I’ve met along the way that have always supported me.  I decided to start Storyline this week.   It’s all about creating a life plan.  I’ll let you know how it goes but I already feel back on track.  One day I’ll figure out what I’m going to be when I grow up.

For now, when I focus on what I feel is true and real….I am doing what is right. And where I look…is where I go.

**I should also note that I am not converting to Catholicism either (at least not today).

P.S. I realize I skipped my weekly letter last week.  I’ll resume this Friday. You can sign up for the weekly letter here. That’s all it is…a weekly letter from a friend to a friend.  I don’t send out anything else.  You can read a sample here.

P.P.S. If you get a chance today just go and meet a few of the women I am so thankful to call my friends. I’ll share more links later. Just don’t want to overwhelm you today. Thank you!

Dana

Katy

Delia

Anneliese

 

P.P.P.S.  I haven’t had a chance to write about American Blogger yet because I wanted Brett to see the whole thing first.  I had a chance to talk about that a lot over the last week with women at the conference.  The movie is now available and the Lettered Cottage has a great post up today….much better than I could ever do…so I thought I’d just link to Layla for now. Yay for linking ability : )

Days Go By

I flew in late last night from the SNAP, the conference that I was teaching at. Brett picked me up and Boo was already asleep in the back seat of the car. We woke up early this morning and went to church, then we decided to go on a road trip to Yucca Valley for lunch:

Yucca Valley and Pioneertown in California

 

Pioneertown was our destination.   It was built in the 1940′s and was a live-in movie set for films like The Cisco Kid. We ate lunch at Pappy & Harriet’s and then watched a re-enactment group called Gunfighter’s For Hire.  They deputized Boo.

Pioneertown and Pappy & Harriet's

 

Boo’s favorite part of Pioneertown were the baby Pygora goats. The couple that own the little sweeties raise Pygora goats and use their fleece and milk for all kinds of handcrafted items like soap. yarn and accessories.  This little goat is Dixie. Dixie loves to eat hair and thought Boo’s was extra tasty:

Pygora Goats at Pioneertown

 

On the way home we stopped on the highway to take a photo of a billboard that Boo is on for her school. (on a billboard…..cool) After snapping the photo I ran along the ditch beside the train tracks to get back to the car and just my luck….a train came:

The Train off i-10

 

And now I’m just plain worn out.

I have so much to tell you but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write for the past few days.  It was good for me to take a few days off and spend some time meeting, talking and wandering.  This will be the week of getting back on track I hope…..otherwise words will start leaking out my eyes and ears….also I wanted to share my road trip plans soon. Maybe you can help me with sights along the way when you can see where we are headed.

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