Dance It (Inside) Out

I love dancing.  I love music.  I love the deep, heavy, loud beats that make your feet start to stomp and shuffle, your hips sway and wiggle, and your arms wave hypnotically.  I love movement and the way that it gets me out of my head and into my body.  Making me feel fully present and connected.  When my head stops its nonstop chatter – or I stop listening – inspiration can come.  Answers to questions.  Ideas.

Dancing is as old as humanity and every culture has their version and reason.  Raghs-isfahanDances tell stories, worship gods and goddesses, act as prayers and blessings, and communicate attraction between two lovers.  It’s a way to burn up energy, express feelings, and get in touch with a deep inner self.  The ancients knew this.  And we still use it today.Terracotta_dancing_maenad_MET_12.232.13

I went to Ecstatic Dance.  This is not the dancing you see in the clubs – no one is dressed up, wearing impossibly tall heels, short skirts, or make-up.  Yoga pants, t-shirts, and bare feet are the “dress code” for the night.  It is held at Yoga Tree of Boise, a beautiful studio in Boise’s North End.  All the lights are shut off, candles are lit, there’s an altar set up with three sets of cards to help you find the answers you seek.  A light projector spins a dazzling array of green dots of light slowly and methodically around the room.  And the music is THUMPIN’.  Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.  But the best part is, in my opinion, the intention with which we come together.  The leader of Ecstatic Dance, Jodeen Revere, will gather us together in a circle where we all hold hands as she expresses her gratitude and the “rules” for the night.  There is only one rule – no talking.  You can make noise – whoop, holler, laugh, cry, scream – but all talking must be taken outside.  The dancing is meant to just reflect what you feel in your body.  So it can sometimes look odd, maybe a little off-beat.  Sometimes people will go through yoga poses, or lie on the floor, sit in meditation, move just their feet or just their arms.  It’s not about shaking your ass for attention.  I think most of us closed our eyes for a large portion of the night.  I know I did.  I only had them open when I was actually moving around the room and didn’t want to crash into someone.  Before we begin we bless and seal the space, making it a safe space for all.  And then the music begins.

Saturday, with the first song, Jodeen had us lie down on our backs in the shape of a giant X.  She gave us a visual – when we look at stationary maps that lead us on a trail, there will be an X that says “You Are Here”.  She encouraged us to feel that.  And to see where “here” is.  Where in our life, on our journey, are we?  And I also took it as being fully present in my body and in the moment – which is something I’ve struggled with in recent months.

I have a hard time not going into things without sometimes huge expectations.  It’s difficult for me not to go to a class like this and not hope for all my questions to be answered, my hopes realized, my Karma burned.  I’ve had amazing experiences like that, so why not expect them every single time?

natarajaShiva, The Lord of the Dance, is a beautiful symbol of what dancing can do for us.  He comes in as the destroyer in preparation for new creation.  One of my friends had a beautiful Shiva pendant on that night, which reminded me of this idea.  That before creation, there has to be destruction.  That I was truly there to dance it (inside) out.  To tear myself apart at the seams, and see what I found.

As the music started and I thought of myself as an X on a map, as I felt my total presence, I released the expectations I had come with and allowed the music to guide me.  I realized very quickly though that I did not want to come up.  I stayed on the floor for awhile moving in cat-like stretches feeling into each and every corner of my body.  And when I finally did place my feet on the ground, I still could not bring myself up to a full standing position.  My desire for grounding was so strong, so primal that I could only sway through my hips with my spine and head hanging down to the floor, fingers dragging from one side to the other, feet firmly rooted.  At one point, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to uncurl my spine and reach up, coming into a full standing position, feet still wide, knees bent.  And the powerful dislike of being upright hit me like a ton of bricks.  Now don’t misunderstand – I was not light-headed or woozy from being in a forward fold.  It was a feeling I had more on my skin coupled with a general feeling of unease.  So I folded over again.  Grounding, rooting, connecting first to my core, and then to the Earth.

At some point it felt right to move and so I did.  I came up to standing and began to dance.  But even then my feet wanted to stay planted so the dancing happened from the knees up. Knees, hips, spine, shoulders, arms and head all moving in their own unique way, with feet still firmly planted on the ground.

Eventually the need to wander around the room arose and my feet started moving of their own accord.  And gradually, as they did, an idea, an inspiration, an answer came to me – “Trust Yourself” it said.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  And I realized in that moment that I hadn’t trusted myself – maybe ever.  I always looked to others for approval and validation.  I needed others’ guidance to work through problems and make decisions.  I hadn’t done some of the things I thought I wanted to do because I just didn’t trust myself to first make the right decision, and second to actually execute it.  I could easily see in my mind’s eye this pattern I had built up of not trusting myself.  It became clear.  And with that clarity came the relief, the release, and the realization that I CAN trust myself. That I and only I have the answers that I seek.

About half way through the hour and a half long session I took a break to sit at the altar, pondering this new idea and searching for a bit more clarity.  How does one go about trusting themselves when they’ve never done it before?  What does that look like?  I drew a card from the deck in the center.  These cards are simply paintings.  Although they are of an obvious scene of some sort, there is a quality about them that leaves them open to interpretation.  A fuzziness around the edges.  The picture I drew was of a figure looking over the ocean at the full moon, holding a mask in their right hand.  I heard/felt “Take off the mask.  Be authentic.”  Ok, wow.  That resonated and I felt also provided an answer to my question.  The second deck is a different type.  I drew a card that said “Deliverance”.  And then explained it as “relief, release, a fresh start.”  Double wow.  And from the third deck I drew the Isis and Osiris card.  On the back it tells the story of Isis – the great Creator of everything –  and her deep love for Osiris.  The moral of her story?  That even the greatest goddess has and SHOWS her emotion as made evidence by her tear over Osiris’s death that flooded the Nile.  WOW does not even convey the depth of my reaction to that.

I got up and danced some more but I could never get the big fast movements that are typical for me.  That’s just not what my body wanted.  I wasn’t tired.  Physically I felt fine.  I finally went and sat against a wall and closed my eyes and let the music and the energy of the other dancers wash over me.  And that’s when I heard it, “Be still.”  Just that.  And I realized that most of my life is spent going, moving, and doing.  I never stop and just ALLOW things to come up.  Emotions get set aside, buried, not expressed.  I don’t trust myself and my own strength to handle them.  I’m fearful of being still and silent and must keep up the facade that I have created which has me running running running – from myself.  But all I need is to sit still, listen, and trust.  Myself.

I felt like I had started putting the pieces of me back together.  Creating something, or someone new.  Someone stronger, more real, more authentic, more compassionate, more full of LIFE and LOVE.  What was broken was coming back together, even more beautifully than before.

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Paige Bradley’s statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dive deep into the middle of your heart and dance yourself to the surface and see what you find.
This is your dance, your way.
Dance like no one is watching.
Dance your heart (inside) out.
~Jodeen Revere

If you’re in Boise and interested in experiencing an Ecstatic Dance session, contact Jodeen Revere of Creative Yogic Arts. They are held every second and fourth Saturday nights at Yoga Tree of Boise.  And they are truly a magical experience.

I’m Writing for Share Yoga! You should definitely check it out…

I’m writing at Share Yoga!!  Check it out – or read what I have to say here first…

The last couple of years have been rocky, but with great trial, comes great reward.  I believe that thanks to the trials I have endured and am still going through, I have opened up something inside myself – a door, a window, a portal to a magical place.  Or maybe just my own soul.  Whatever it is, as I’ve worked through some of my own shadows and demons, burned through some Karma, and really took a hard look in the mirror, I’ve had more opportunities come my way.  Where the shit was lying dormant, stagnant, collecting dust and cobwebs for years upon years, there is now fresh, clean, open space ready for creation – for all things NEW.  One of the blessings of these past two years is that it pushed me to finally start on my 500 Yoga Teacher Training Certification.  I have 200 hours, so adding 300 more isn’t necessary, but it’s been a goal of mine for a long time.  And when everything is falling apart, why not try to build something new?  Take on a new challenge to take the focus away from some of the shit and create something new.

With that decision has come so many crazy good experiences that have opened up my eyes, my world, my heart.  The Yoga I practice and teach has changed.  I have brought a whole world of Yogis into my life that I honestly don’t know how I lived without before now.  I have immersed myself deeply into that which I love, and it is loving me back.

One of the most incredible opportunities is that I am now writing for Share Yoga.  I am beyond thrilled that they are allowing me to write for them and wanted to share my first published article with you.  It follows the last article I wrote here about re-creating my life.  This one is about living your truth, which is of course what I’m working on.  Every. Single. Fucking. Day.  Give it a read.  Let me know what you think.  You’ll find it here.

I’ll have another piece coming out very soon at Share Yoga on Contentment.  That should be an easy one. ;) And there’s always juicy goodness in the works right here at Part Time Gypsy.  So stay tuned.

Thanks for joining me.

Rising From the Ashes

When my birthday approaches I inevitably write my list of goals and aspirations for the coming year.  I reflect on the previous year and note what I have done, what I have achieved, and am usually pretty pleased with what I see.  I look at each birthday as a chance to start over, recreate, re-do, remake.  It’s a blank slate, a RE-BIRTH.  All things new.

I turned 38 on Friday and I got to celebrate by starting my day with 27 beautiful yogis.  They sang happy birthday to me, which nearly brought me to tears.  And then they blessed me again by allowing me to lead their practice.  How did I get so lucky?

I had a theme for this class – Death.  WHAT?!  Actually, the theme was really Re-Birth, but before a re-birth can happen, something has to die.  As we approach our mat, we may have expectations, fears, judgements or beliefs.  We might feel tension, weakness and vulnerability.  By the end of the class, in Savasana or Corpse Pose, we hope that some or all of those might die – that we might be able to let go and create space for something new to grow.  Allow them to become fertilizer for the soil so to speak.  And then from the heart, our radiant, true Self can bloom.  I set the tone of the class with my playlist.   Alison Krauss’ “Down to the River to Pray”, for the warm up – helping us to connect to something bigger, something inside.  Madonna’s “Shanti/Ashtangi” is a really beautiful, very rockin’ version of a Sanskrit chant that helps to start building the heat, the fire as we start the process of burning through the layers.  First in the physical body – it gets warm and pliable.  We then tap into the breath to create a connection.  As we practice, we allow the breath to be the music to which the body moves to.  It is our guide and when we follow, we are fluid and graceful.  When the two connect, the fluctuations of the mind begin to quiet.  They take place somewhere in the background.  And then the heat can grow and spread.  At this point the Vinyasa is in full flow.  The sweat is dripping, the breath is fast.  With these words from Josh Garrels’ “The Resistance”
we are reminded of the importance of this work – that it’s not just about stretching our hamstrings, making washboard abs or tight tushies, it’s the inner transformation that is important.

Every mortal breath, is meant to bring forth fire
But only when the fear of death, gets consumed
On the funeral pyre
So let the flames rise higher

Throughout a class, I will continuously remind my students to check in, listen to their bodies and see what arises in their minds.  And then let it go.  I remind them of their intention – Friday’s was Re-Birth.  I asked them what was dying, and what was coming to life inside of them.  What is growing that wants to be expressed?

I got a new haircut a few weeks ago.  I absolutely love it.  It’s been calling to me for a long time now and I finally just did it.  I needed something new and fresh, something that started to reflect the changes I felt inside – asymmetrical, a little edgy and fun.  It’s totally me.

IMG_3895Then just a couple of days ago I came across this quote:

A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.

~ Coco Chanel

Yeah.  Definitely.  I feel that in my soul.

This has been a long, hard year (actually almost two) of growth, change, hardship, devastation, brutal honesty, secrecy, tears, heartbreak, forgiveness, and soul-searching.  And it’s not over.  There are days when I don’t think I can possibly take anymore, and then somehow I make it through that day, and on to the next.

I’ve come through the past year and realized many things about myself.  I am incredibly strong.  I am loyal.  I can work harder than I ever thought possible.  I can also hurt and  – more importantly – LOVE more than I ever thought possible.  I carry years of hurt, anger, regret, fear, and resentment inside of me, and they find ways to sneak out.  I am open and vulnerable.  Even now.  Even after being hurt.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  There are no secrets with me.  But I’m a Gemini, so my heart can change very quickly.  I can be lighthearted and happy one moment and angry and bitter the next.  Sarcasm is my greatest weapon, and I aim to kill.  I can wither another’s spirit with a simple word.  I’m not proud of that.  It’s my defense mechanism.  The wall I put up to make sure you don’t hurt me first.

On my running playlist is Amazing Grace – the version by the Dropkick Murphys.  It’s rock-n-roll meets bagpipes and I love it.  Morbid?  Maybe.  But for some reason contemplating an ending, makes it so much easier to run a little faster.  The pain in my legs and my lungs seems so much more tolerable when I consider the other option and a screaming quadriceps is better than a broken heart any day.

With the idea of rebirth, comes death.  Something has to die to be reborn.  Can pieces of us die?  The parts that no longer serve us? The beliefs that once kept us aloft, that are no longer true?  Can we let those go so that something new, something wonderful, something true can take its place?  I think so.

So on this, my 38th birthday, I choose to let die the fears, the regrets, the anger, the resentments.  And in their place I choose to make space for love, forgiveness, kindness, hope, and courage.  All things new.  All recreated.  A life rewritten by me, for me.  Like the Phoenix, from the ashes that was my life, I will rise.  I will become all that I was meant to be.  Nothing holding me back.  REBORN.

phoenix-hi

How does one go about making such HUGE changes?  The only clue I’ve been given so far is Yoga.  And that was given to me loud and clear from two sources.  So I will continue to dive deeper into my personal practice.  I will read, learn, meditate and teach.  Because the more I teach, the more I learn.  And because when I open my hips, somehow I also open my heart.  I hear a voice inside, sometimes it’s just a whisper, but lately it’s gotten a little louder.  Yoga helps me to get quiet, get still, be present and connect.  And then I can truly listen.

What does this transformation look like?  I’m not sure yet.  I have the usual goals and “things I want to DO” list… but this is a deeper inner change, that may not look like very much at all on the outside.  And then again my life may be completely unrecognizable as I navigate this new road I’m on.  It’s hard to say just yet.

I do know that part of this is being open and vulnerable.  In the last two years, one thing that I have learned is EVERYONE carries around something – some SHIT.  They’re all fighting a battle.  Their life may look perfect and amazing and easy on the outside, and then you find out that they are struggling in some way, just like you are.  But I didn’t find these things out until I started sharing.  I found I could not hold in my pain and sorrow.  They would just come out.  I would feel bad, silly, and oh my God so vulnerable when opening up in this way, but there was usually a palpable relief as the other person realized it was then safe for them to share their struggles.  I’ve created deeper, more meaningful friendships than I’ve ever had, in a mutually beneficial circle of support, trust, and vulnerability.  I’m so grateful for this.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  And I think if everyone had this sort of connection, many of our more mundane human problems would end.  Human connection is all we ever want.  It is our deepest desire.  It’s the easiest and hardest thing to have.  It requires being completely open to others, allowing them to see the crazy, the dark, the nasty inside of us.  And trusting them to love us anyway.  And in return, they’ll show us their dark and dirty self, and we look and listen with only love, no judgement.  Only through our vulnerability can we be completely authentic.  Otherwise we are just a shadow of our Selves, not living to our full potential, not letting our light shine brightly.

But being vulnerable can be scary.  There is the chance of being hurt.  But here is what I have found – No one can hurt you unless you aren’t speaking honestly.  If there is a falsehood anywhere in your story, then yes, they can hurt you with that.  But truth can’t hurt.  Only secrets and lies can hold you hostage.  The truth, as they say, will set you free.

I finished Friday’s class with everyone lying in Savasana, Corpse Pose, listening to Amazing Grace.  A soft, beautiful, piano version.  I gave them the chance to let go of all they held onto, all the burdens they carried, all things that no longer served them.  To let them die.  And when it ended, and I rang the bells, I asked them to rise.  To rise up from the ashes, to feel renewed, reborn.

Happy Re-Birth Day to me.

Tell me, what is it

you plan to do

with your one

WILD and PRECIOUS

life?

~ Mary Oliver

the trip from kansas to boise – by ivy

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Hi my name is Ivy and i am 8 years old and  this is the story about how me and my uncle marc and my dad  Johnny flew from ellsworth Kansas to boise Idaho.

And now the story begins.  We had a long goodbye and then we loaded up my uncles Cessna 180 and took off then we flew

out of  kansas and into nebraska and then we flew out of nebraska and into south dakota.  This is a picture of us while we were flying.  I’m sitting in the front right seat.

 

 

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On the flight, we saw lots of grass and farms.  Everything looked very small from way up in the air.  It took us about 3 hours to get from Ellsworth to Custer South Dakota where we landed at the airport.  When we landed we unloaded some of our things, we talked to the aiport people, and we picked up our rental car.  We were kind of tired and hungry from the flight so we drove into town to look for food.  We went to a place that had Buffalo burgers and I had Buffalo stuffed mushrooms and a peach slushie.  After lunch, we drove out of town to find mt rushmore and on the way we saw crazy horse and then we got to mt rushmore.  It was a really good slushie and it came with a second one, but that was all watered down.

IMG_0311Once we got to Mt. Rushmore, we parked and walked into the gate where they had the american flag and all of the state flags on big rock posts.  After that, we went out on the balcony where everyone goes to take pictures.  After that, we walked on the trail that goes up by the mountain and walked around to the museum where they had a presentation about Mt Rushmore.  In the museum there was also a model of a building they started building behind Mt Rushmore so they could store things behind the mountain.  But they never finished the building.
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here is me and my uncle Marc with the kansas state flag.

 

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we were all out on the balcony taking pictures .
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heres me and my dad with mt rushmore .

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heres a picture of mt rushmore with the trees.

 

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we saw two woodchucks.

 

 

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after we went to mt rushmore we drove the animal loop and saw buflo.
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there were a lot blockking the way  .


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we drove out to a lake and hiked a trail but first we had to cross some rocks.

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when we got back to where we  started we walked around the rest of the lake.

 

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when we drove back to the airport  on the way we went through a tunnel.

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That night, we camped at the airport.  We came back from our drive to the airport and set up our tents and we ate freeze dried beef stroganoff and easy mac.  We made a fire and I talked to mommy on the phone while daddy and uncle Marc finished setting up camp.  After dinner we got ready for bed and then crawled into our sleeping bags.  During the night we were woken up by the sound of the wind blowing, then the thunder started.  It rained really really hard and there was thunder and lightning and wind.  It sounded really scary, but Daddy and I cuddled up and stayed dry and warm in the tent through the storm.  We fell back asleep after the storm passed, but everything was really wet in the morning outside the tent.  We woke up in the morning, we packed up our tents and got some snacks for the trip, then we loaded up and took off from Custer, SD.

 

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On the way, I took pictures of the mountains.

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I also ate lots of beef jerky and trail mix, and drank lots of water.

 

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We flew from Custer, to West Yellowstone, MT.  On the way we flew over Yellowstone National Park.  We saw lots of things, but the only good pictures were of the paint pots!

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We landed in West Yellowstone right after flying over the park.  We went to a little restaurant that had really really good food and a Very good milkshake!!

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We took off from West Yellowstone and headed for Boise.  Right after we took off, it got pretty bumpy and very windy.  During the flight, I had to move from the front seat to the back seat because I didn’t feel good.  It was hot and I felt really sick.  I was really glad when we finally landed in Caldwell, ID.  Even though I got sick on the last part of the flight, I told my Dad that I would do it all over again because it was so much fun!

I had a great trip and Uncle Marc didn’t have to go home for an entire week!  I will remember this trip for my whole life.

 

**Mom’s note**

This blog is a bit delayed (it took place in July, 2014.) as I forgot that typing is a very slow and frustrating process when you don’t know how to type.  I had to reel in my desire to proof-read for capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.  Since this was Ivy’s story I decided to leave it as is, a wonderful memento of her trip and also of her abilities at this time in her life.  She had such a wonderful time on the trip and a good time recounting the trip with us as she told this story.  I’m so grateful to my brother and husband for sharing such a fun and unique experience with her.

Dena

 

 

 

 

Kansas – Truly our HEARTland

We all have that place we go to recharge and reconnect to our core.  For our family, that is Kansas.  I was born and raised there so it’s really no surprise that I have that deep connection.  Ivy was also born there and still tells me she will move back there someday.  Johnny lived there for eight years which is nearly as long as he lived in Colorado when he was growing up.  But for him it has also become homebase.  The place where he put down his roots, built a business, had his children, and created many of his most important friendships.  The place he goes back to.  The place that has family and friends.  So back to Kansas we go, as often as possible.

This summer we have already made the sojourn to the heartland.  The girls left first with my mom and flew out for their week of unbridled fun and excitement. There are few rules at Gram and Poppy’s house except for maybe “be careful”.  They get up earlier, stay up later.  Eat more ice cream.  And love every minute of it.  The list of adventures is long.  The memories will last a lifetime.

My brother has taken over the piece of land that has been in our family for a century or so and turned it into a goat farm.  He has also built a pond and a grass runway.  So heading out to the farm is one of our favorite things to do.

 

A little goat cuddle.

A little goat cuddle.

Wrangling the goats.

Wrangling the goats.

Johnny, mom and me.

Johnny, mom and me.

Catching frogs.

Catching frogs.

Catching frogs.

Catching frogs.

Johnny’s sister Emily only lives 6 hours from my parents (only because that is better than the 12 she lives from us!) so she drove out to spend a few days with us.

Swimming in the pond with Aunt Emily.

Swimming in the pond with Aunt Emily.

My brother also has a Cessna 180 that we like to take flying.  Some believe Kansas to be flat and boring.  I suggest you take to the air and check it out from a different perspective.

Lucy takes the controls!

Lucy takes the controls!

Flying Marc's plane to the farm.

Flying Marc’s plane to the farm.

My dad and brother have always hunted – with bows or guns or slingshots or…whatever weaponry was available.  So target practice was always happening when I was young.  We decided to get in on the fun this time.  I’ve even got a bow of my own now thanks to my overly generous brother!!

Ivy's turn with a bow.

Ivy’s turn with a bow.

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We spent a day at the Hutchinson Salt Mine which was incredibly cool.  To be 650 feet underground and walking/riding through the earth, knowing that there are HUNDREDS of miles of mine… It is truly awe-inspiring.  We got to mine for a few pieces of our own to take home.

Mining for salt.

Mining for salt.

A visit to the Hutchinson Salt Mine.

A visit to the Hutchinson Salt Mine.

Visiting with friends is of course a highlight of our trip.  Here are the girls with our dear friend Nora in what they refer to as the “cold tub” (it’s turned off for summer) making “soup”.

Swimming with Nora in the "cold tub".

Swimming with Nora in the “cold tub”.

Drinking margaritas.  At lunch.  On a Tuesday.

Drinking margaritas. At lunch. On a Tuesday.

My dad.

My dad.

Johnny.

Johnny.

My brother Marc.

My brother Marc.

Ivy and my brother's friend Jessie.

Ivy and my brother’s friend Jessie.

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Me. Target practice.

Me. Target practice.

Swimming in the pond.

Swimming in the pond.

Climbing with the goats.

Climbing with the goats.

Train ride!

Train ride!

Train ride!

Train ride!

Working dirt at the zoo.

Working dirt at the zoo.

Zipline!

Zipline!

Hunting for tadpoles at my brother's pond on the farm.

Hunting for tadpoles at my brother’s pond on the farm.

I think we all agreed this was one of the best trips yet.  The friends and family, the outdoor fun at the farm, a wedding, a baptism, cuddling a baby, and cuddling goats.  We did it all.  As always we are grateful for everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to spend time with us.  The heartland will always have a special place in our hearts.

From off the beaten path,

Dena

 

 

 

Balance – The Key to Happiness

“A balanced and skillful approach to life, taking care to avoid extremes, becomes a very important factor in conducting one’s every day experiences.  It is important in all aspects of life. “

~ The Dalai Lama

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For the past six months or so, I have been slowly reading my way through the book “The Art of Happiness”, by HH Dalai Lama & American Psychiatrist Howard C. Cutler.  The book begins with this astounding statement, made by the Dalai Lama in front of an audience of thousands in Arizona:

“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.  That is clear.  Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life.  So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…”

I absolutely LOVE this.  Why else would we be here?  Through finding our own happiness, we can live out our dreams, purposes, and build our strengths.  When we are happy, we care more about others, are less self-centered, look for ways to share our joy.  A happy person is one everyone wants to be around.  Happiness allows us to be in any situation and see the good, or at least not be sucked into the bad.  To understand that tomorrow is another day and that this too shall pass.

The part of the book that spoke loudest to me was the chapter on balance.  For many reasons, I see this as a core issue among Americans.  Listen to your friends and family when you ask the questions “How are you?”  “What have you been up to?”  The answers often sound something like: “Oh, good, everything’s good.  Just busy you know!”  Busy.  Busy.  Busy.  The mantra of our country.  If we arent’ busy, we aren’t important.  If we actually have a day with nothing to do, we must be worthless, lazy, incompetent, or at the very least, boring.  This constant striving for busy-ness for the sake of looking important has driven us to a new level of ego-centric, disconnected, tired, social media addicted individuals who run around constantly shouting “BUSY! BUSY! BUSY!”  Too busy for friends.  Too busy for family.  Too busy to take care of ourselves.

How do we address this phenomenon that has captured our society?  How do we arrest the rat race of our lives and tune in to the people and events happening in front of our faces (we’ll call this LIFE )?  By finding BALANCE.  In everything.  In our work and home life.  In our duties as spouse, parent, friend.  In our time taking care of home and self.  Balance.  But like physical balance, it’s always shifting and moving, changing and adapting.  We must be able to move with it, to be strong and steady, AND soft and receptive.  Through all of this, we must also be able to BREATHE.

In Yoga when we attempt a balance pose, our muscles are constantly firing, shifting, fine-tuning, adjusting.  A balance pose is not static.  If it was you would fall.  You respond to every input with an output.  If it’s equal, you stay up.  If not, you fall.  It takes focus and work.  It also requires a letting go and allowing of what is around you.  That is life.  We respond.  We find balance.  Or we fall down.

In life this balance is harder to find.  Some days it may seem like choosing which fire to put out first.  But if we can learn to work toward this fine balance in our daily life, gradually there will be fewer and fewer fires.

Here are my guidelines to living a balanced life: (These are geared mostly for parents.  But for those of you without kids or kids who have left the nest, you can make alterations to make them fit you.)

  1. Except for emergencies, put your needs first.  Everyone will be happier.
  2. Don’t over commit.  Learn to say NO.  PRIORITIZE your time.
  3. You’ll never get it done and never get it right so learn to accept “good enough for NOW” and understand that for now, it IS right and done.
  4. A happy you (mom, dad, friend, whoever is reading this) is way more important than a clean house, a written blog, or a mowed lawn.  That stuff will wait until you are ready to tackle it.  And by tackling it when you’re ready, you’ll ENJOY it, bringing – <gasp!> HAPPINESS!!
  5. You are not your child’s sole source of entertainment or education.  Let them be alone.  You’ll both be grateful.
  6. Date nights.  Have date nights.  Often.  Dress up.  Make it special.  (Single?  Then date youreself!  YOU are special and worth it!)
  7. Expect change.  Because it’s coming.  And then be prepared to change, move, respond, and find balance.
  8. Do Yoga.  Because it’s good for you and because it teaches balance. ;)

In our house, I know that our life is balanced when things are peaceful.  Johnny and I are not feeling stressed.  There isn’t this feeling of “not enough time”.  Our girls play happily for hours without any real intervention from us.  When friends call to invite us for something fun, we say “Yes” because our time is free and we are open to fun opportunities.  We are both taking care of ourselves.  That’s the balance I seek.

In every choice you make, every thing you do, find happiness.  If that means getting up a little earlier to have a quiet cup of coffee before the kids rise, or sleeping in and not cleaning before they’re up, reading a few pages of a favorite book while they play, going for a bike ride instead of scrubbing the bathrooms… whatever it is today, choose the one that makes you HAPPY.  That fills up your love tank.  That sets your heart on fire and your soul free.

Where do you need to find balance in YOUR life?  How do you balance the demands of home, work, family, and friends.  Please share.

Namasté

Dena

 

 

 

For My Dad

Today is Father’s Day.  That day once every year that we remember the men who raised us.  When I think back to my earliest years, I see my dad as the strong and silent one.  He was always there.  He never missed dinner with the family, a concert or recital, sporting event, birthday, or weekend campout.  And sometimes I can’t figure out how he managed that.  He worked A LOT.  I never realized it at the time but have heard stories over the years.  For most of my life he has owned his own business and he would get up and work for hours before the sun came up.  Sometimes he would come in for a break about the time we were rolling out of bed and having cereal.  He’d work all day in his shop – building, inventing, welding, painting – come in for dinner with the family, fall asleep for a bit in his chair, and then after we went to bed he’d head out to the shop again.  Of course life wasn’t always this way and it’s fuzzy in my mind how much of his working life was like this.  But I do know that for most of my years he was working.  He was the provider.  And he did it without any complaints.

My dad can build anything.  Seriously.  He helped me make a tree skirt.  I wanted it to be round with pie-shaped pieces which turned out to be mathematically a bit more complicated than I had planned on.  So dad sat at the breakfast bar with me and helped me figure it out.  It turned out beautifully.  I still have it of course.

He helped me build a heart shaped shelf.  He’s fixed every car he’s ever owned.  He built the house he and my mom still live in.  He built an airplane.  For real. An airplane.  How frickin’ cool is that?!

I’ve told him before he’s some sort of genius but he denies it and says that anyone could do it.

Here’s dad and me.  Takin’ it waaaaay back. :)

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Is there anything cuter than a kid cuddled up on daddy’s chest for a nap?  Dad and I liked our naps.  Still do.  I think I have my hand stuck in a cracker jack box here?  Well, wouldn’t surprise me.

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Dad’s form of discipline was of course the exact opposite of mom’s.  That’s why it worked.  Where mom could get mad, I mean M-A-D, Dad would get exasperated.  The sigh. The shake of the head.  The walk away to go fix whatever I broke.  I don’t think I broke as much as my brother did, but there were a few things.  You could tell he really wondered how any of his kids could be so…. well, dumb.  Luckily we all grew out of it.  Well, I did anyway.  I can’t speak for my siblings. ;)

You can tell when my dad’s thinking just by watching him.  He’ll be sitting in his chair but it’s like he’s already working on something.  His foot is tapping and his hands are moving.  He’s always teased me for twirling my hair with that far off look in my eyes when I start daydreaming.  But I think I get it from him.

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My dad always seems happy.  Content.  Whatever is happening is good.  He’s not emotionally volatile, but steady and present.  Qualities I’ve always wished I had a bit more of.  Unless of course you mention Obama to him.  Then stand back because he’s going to get suddenly volatile. :)  I may do this on occasion just to watch it happen.

One of our many fun silly moments. :)  I think I have his shit-eating grin don’t you?

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And of course my wedding.  Dad walking me down the aisle.  Makes me just a little teary-eyed.  We were both so nervous. Isn’t he handsome?

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I love that over the years I feel I’ve gotten to know him better.  The time we’ve spent together has been fun.  He’s like a dad to my husband, and he is the most amazing grandfather to my girls.  We’ve gone kayaking and flying.  Camping and skiing.  He took me to the hospital after Lucy was born and things didn’t feel right.  And sat there keeping me company all night long.

 

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I read in a parenting book several years ago that it is the father’s job to make his daughter feel valuable.  His love and adoration are what build her self-esteem, self-worth.  My dad did well.  Because I’ve always felt like his greatest treasure.  And so does all the rest of his family.

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I love you dad.  Thank you for all you’ve done.

Love,

Dena

Mother’s Day – 100 Years of Celebrating Mom

I used to joke that Mother’s Day is a holiday made up by Hallmark, to sell millions (about 133 million to be precise) of cheesy, flowery, mushy cards to people.  The influx of cash gets them through that slow time of year that is so far from Christmas.  I have of course always bought into this holiday because I love my mom and it seems like a nice thing to do for the woman that gave birth to you.

I found an interesting article at National Geographic’s website about the origin of Mother’s Day.  It wasn’t created by Hallmark, but by Ann Reeves Jarvis for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace in the 1850’s. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made it an official holiday making this the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day.  From there it became the more commercial holiday we know today.  However, Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis fought the growing commercialization of Mother’s Day with everything she had.  Literally.  She spent the remainder of her life, her entire inheritance, and her sanity trying to keep Mother’s Day private, simple, and focused on the “best mother you’ve ever known – your mother.”  She failed.  She died alone and penniless in a sanitorium, and Mother’s Day is now celebrated world wide with flowers, brunches, cards and gifts.  And you know what?  I think that’s a good thing.

Most of us take the time to celebrate the people we love in some way or another.  We call, write, visit.  We say “I love you”, “Thank you”, “You’re Awesome”.  Having a day set aside specifically for that, especially in this day and age of “busy, busy, busy” is a nice reminder though.  To stop.  To reflect.  To feel and share that gratitude and love.

In May of 1977, my mom became Mom.  Her life changed forever and mine got started.  Of course I remember nothing of those first few years, little of the next few and some highlights of the rest.  That’s how memory is.  However, I have pictures that help, and have heard stories over the years.

We lived on four acres outside of a small midwest town in a house built by my parents and where they still live to this day.

Here is mom and me on a nice day.  How do I know it’s nice?  You see that mom’s hair is not standing straight out to one side?  No wind.  That’s a pretty nice day in the midwest.
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My mom sacrificed a lot for the three of us.  We didn’t have much money.  She didn’t buy new clothes.  For her.  My sister, brother, and I always had new duds, backpacks, and lunchboxes for each school year.  The Christmas tree and stockings were always overflowing with gifts.  We had homemade hot meals for every dinner, which we always ate together.  She worked hard.  My dad worked hard.  But they made life easy and fun for us.

Life in the country.  I’m sure there’s a reason for this picture – maybe it was a new tractor.  Maybe we just wanted to take a picture.  Regardless, another beautiful day.

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We always had a dog growing up.  When I was little, it was a Saint Bernard named Rocky.  He would find a rabbit’s nest, chase out the mama, and get the babies.  Some died but there was always one or two that survived.  And of course as kids we HAD to save them.  Meaning Mom had to feed them, care for them, keep them in a box, clean the box, chase them when they got out of the box, and put them back in.  We had a few bunnies over the years and they all had names.  Nosy, Flash, Roger, Binky-co-lala, and Pinky-co-lala.  All except for Pinky were nursed back to health and released.  And Binky was seen several times after his successful release, recognizable because of a notch the dog took out of his ear.

We spent a lot of time playing outside, but sometimes the weather would chase us inside.  I have memories of playing in the kitchen, on the floor, with my Playmobile camping set.  I’m sure I was in the way, but mom never complained.  Well, not too much.  When I was bored and wanted some attention, she had a game she played with me while she cooked.  She’d make a bunch of random dots on a piece of paper and then I would connect the dots and see what it turned into.

During the summers we would camp every weekend.  Mom would pre-make most of the food.  I’m sure she started prepping on Wednesday or Thursday.  She packed the clothes and towels.  Got the camper ready for the weekend.  Then dad would take it and the boat out Thursday night to save the good spot.  We’d play and play and play all weekend.  And then we would come back home Sunday evening, the three of us dirty and exhausted.  Mom and dad would unpack, clean, and then by Wednesday they would start the process over again.

When I was a teenager, I would climb out of the depths of my dark basement bedroom on Sunday mornings to find Mom and Dad sitting at the table drinking coffee and chatting.  I loved to sit with them for awhile and join in the conversation.  Being a teenager though, at some point I tired of the conversation and it would turn into a bit of a one-sided lecture.  And man could my mom lecture. The hands would start going.  She’d get louder and more excitable.  I always let her go for a little while and then get up and leave.  She always laughed and said something about “Had enough of the lecturing for today?”  We still laugh about it today.  And she can still get a good lecture going.

After moving back to Kansas 10 or so years ago, Mom and I started going to Yoga classes.  Then when I started teaching she was my first student.  We started a book club together.  We traveled to the Yoga Journal Conference and the Sedona Yoga Festival.  We would go for walks.  We worked together at their business and at the Antique Mall.  We became friends over the years.  Friends that could hang out, go do fun things together, laugh, talk, or just do nothing together.

Then in 2006 I became a mom.  I joined the club, and started to understand my mom a little more.  I understood what it means to sacrifice.  What you would actually be willing to give up to make their lives better (everything).  And what she had done for me, my sister and brother.  And now she gets to be a grandma.  She gets to have the fun without all of the work.  She gets to avoid the discipline and just laugh and cuddle, hug and kiss.  My girls look at their grandma as one of their best friends.  They enjoy every moment they spend together and they know they are the center of her Universe.

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Mother’s Day is a special day for me. A day to celebrate my mom and all she’s done for me.  A day to reflect on being a mom – on how amazing my children are, how much I love them, how much I love this “job” of being mom.  And yes, a time for cards, gifts, and flowers. :)

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 There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.   ~ Jill Churchill

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day mom.  Thank you for all you’ve done.  For all that you do.  I love you!

Dena

Learning to Fly

The sun has come back to us.  The long, dark, grey, cold, damp winter is gone.  The grass is turning that perfect shade of green.  The buds are popping out on the trees.  Flowers are tentatively poking their heads out of the ground.  The breezes are blowing.  The birds are stretching out their wings.  And the kids have those dirty little feet that show up in spring, and don’t seem to get properly clean again until November.

We got out for a stroll down the Greenbelt to look at the birds, the flowers, and the river.  Just to breathe in the fresh air and feel the sunshine on our faces.

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My driveway and back patio look like a pastel warzone.  Our grill is usually smoking with something delicious inside.  It’s that perfect temperature when Johnny is comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, and I’m cozy in my sweatshirt.

Did I mention I love Spring?

To add to my delight, we had a beautiful day with no plans, no agendas, and no to-do lists.  And I have a husband that has access to helicopters and pilots.  So we put together the two and I had my first Discovery Flight. Meaning – I GOT TO RUN THE CONTROLS.  YIKES!

My dear friend Sean Summers was my instructor.  Our other friend Jeff Hill was the videographer.  Yes, this was all documented.  Both inside and outside the helicopter.

This at first made me a bit nervous. You know how watching yourself on camera can be.  You never look or sound quite like you think you do in real life.  And then there’s the fact that I was going to be doing something so new, scary, exciting… there was a really good chance I could make a complete ass of myself.  But hey, I’m always game for that. ;)

Sean and I did the required pre-flight and SFAR 73 awareness training.  So I could know everything that could possibly go wrong during our flight.  There’s kind of a lot of things. <gulp>.  Deep breath.  Ok.  Still going.

While Sean and I headed out to fly, Johnny and the girls hung out at the shop. Which he loves and so do they.  Going to work with daddy is like the coolest thing ever for them.  They moved stuff around, swept up some dirt, ate lunch on the work platform, played loud music.  There may have been some motorcycle riding as well, but I think that was supposed to be a secret.

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After the final checks had been made, Sean taxied us out to the runway for takeoff.  He’s a very calm, easy person to be around.  His instructions are clear and he has a way of telling you to do things that make it seem like it’s going to be so easy.  Well, it’s not.  But he still just encourages and corrects, always making you feel like you’re doing really wonderfully and that you’re not a complete idiot.  It makes for a nice experience.

When he let me take the controls I think I laughed at him.  REALLY?!  You’re kidding.  Uh, ok.  So I took them.  I’ll be honest.  My memory of the next hour or so that we flew is a little fuzzy.  I was so TENSE.  My hand cramped up.  My shoulder hurt.  He was giving me so much information my head was spinning.

We flew along the Boise river (sort of) following the curves.  As well as I could anyway.  All this while trying to maintain a steady speed of 70 knots and some elevation that I now can’t recall.  Seriously – I told you it’s a little fuzzy.  Well, I did manage that part pretty well and was feeling mighty confident about my skills.  When you fly a helicopter you use your feet to control the tail – creating the turn.  You use your left hand to run the collective – the up and down movement.  And your right hand is on the cyclic.  And I’ll be honest – that thing I still don’t get.  It will propel you forward or backward, or side to side.  It’s amazingly complicated and terrifying, at least for those of us who haven’t figured out how it works.  It’s all done with small gentle adjustments.  No big movements.  All finesse.  Relax and breathe.  It takes incredible concentration and hand-eye coordination.  But I did it.  I was flying.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years.  When I really started wanting to fly I was in junior high.  It was when Top Gun came out.  I was going to be a fighter pilot.  Actually I wrote about that in a previous blog if you’d like to read about it.

Back to my first flight…

After cruising along the river, we decided to head back in for some hovering.  Hovering is, according to all of my pilot friends, one of the most difficult things I’ll EVER learn.  Like in my whole life.  I’ll go ahead and agree with that.  Every pilot I know – Johnny included – thought they really would never, ever learn.  It’s really that hard.  But, they all learned it eventually, so I might as well try!

Johnny, the girls and Jeff drove out to the end we were practicing on to take some video.  Here’s a shot from that.

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We’re in a nice pendulum swing here.  Sean recovered us very nicely.  And I wondered if I was going to need a change of pants when this was all over.

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This was a little better but I’m only on the collective, not the foot pedals or cyclic.  Controlling one or two directions is almost doable.  All three is kind of a nightmare.

Before we came in, Sean wanted to let me experience a practice autorotation.  This is a simulation of an engine failure.  As you’re coming in toward the ground (really fast!) he cut the throttle so we started falling.  My stomach jumped up a little.  I think I made a weird little noise.  And then we were there at the ground and Sean throttled back up and took us to the hangar.  Easy peasy.

And then it was all over.  I shook my head in disbelief.  Sean and I laughed and took a selfie.  He told me I was awesome.  And frankly, I really felt like it.

That night when we watched the video, I cringed as I waited for that sound of my voice that isn’t my voice, or that feeling of embarrassment that comes when I usually watch myself.  And it never came.  I watched with amazement as this woman smiled, laughed, looked confident and excited, shared her joy and fear, awe and confusion, success and failure.  And then I realized she was ME.

Here I am, terrified – and SMILING.  I’ve got all three controls in this picture.  And look – we’re LEVEL!

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I hope that everyone gets to step so far out of their comfort zone.  That you get to try something so daring and be scared – and joyful all at once.  That you get to know the feeling of testing all of your limits.  And I hope you smile all the way through.

Sean and me.  My oh-so-dapper instructor.  Thank you for making my first flight so AWESOME!

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And to make it all official, I have my own logbook now.  1.0 hours.  Yesssss…..

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That was all on Sunday.  Today is Thursday.  I had a rare day of no children as both had been invited for playdates.  What’s a girl to do with herself?  Johnny invited me to come out and join him for lunch and a flight.  This time with him.  Of course I said yes.

For this flight we stayed close to the hangar and to the ground.  Hovering, gliding, sliding (did you know you can just slide the skids along the ground?!?  I didn’t. )  We flew for almost an hour and by the end of it I was absolutely spent.  Again my body ached from the tension and my brain was overloaded.  I had to ask him to go in and quit for the day.  I was nearly in tears from fatigue and hunger.  But I was happy.  I felt I had done ok.  Believe me, it still wasn’t “anything to write home about” ;) but for me just getting out there and DOING it is 90% of the battle.  I’m actaully not that concerned about being good.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to be good so I don’t crash, but I’ve left behind that fear of not being the best.  Or of not passing the test.  Or of not finishing.  I feel like I’m finally just here.  Right now.  Enjoying the ride.  Spending a rainy spring day cozied up in a tiny little helicopter cockpit with my best friend.  Spreading my wings.  Learning to fly.

Searching for the Next Great Adventure

I recently posted a blog on our intention to use Boise Public Radio’s Idaho Bucketlist as inspriration for travel and adventure, and of course blogging.  I printed out the list, bought a map, and have been pinning and planning fun adventures for the coming weeks, months, and years.  There are over a hundred items, so yes, YEARS. ;)

My trusty helper in all things, helping me find our soon-to-be-adventures…

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The Idaho Bucket List:

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In going through the list, we found several things we’ve already done.  It was fun to reminisce and look through pictures.

#49. Sample local foods at Boise’s Farmer’s Market.  This was taken on our exploratory trip to Boise, August 2010.  One bunch of carrots, one bunch of gladiolas, and one little baby! Oh my!

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#70. Visit Boise’s Botanical Gardens.  We’ve been many, many times.  For pumpkin decorating, live music and beer drinking, and even a wedding.  I really like this picture from Christmas Eve 2010.  It’s absolutely magical to walk through.

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#10.  Attend the McCall Winter Carnival.  Such a fun day in the snow and sunshine!

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#8.  Slide down the Bruneau Sand Dunes or stay the night and watch the stars come out at the Bruneau Dunes Observatory.  We did both and it was AWESOME!  It’s been a looong time since I’ve seen such a full night sky.  And with their powerful telescope we were able to see a star cluster that was completely invisible to the naked eye.  The girls (especially Ivy) were in awe.  Waiting the thirty minutes in line to climb the stairs to the giant telescope an hour past their normal bedtime didn’t even phase them.  And the sand dunes were the ultimate kid play place.

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#9.  Enjoy a performance under the stars at the Idaho Shakespeare festival.  Our dear friends from Kansas, the Rice’s were able to join us on our inaugural visit.  Here’s a few selfies from before the show.

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#67.  Catch an idaho trout.  Johnny’s Uncle Ken took Johnny and the girls fishing just outside of Ketchum last summer.  The girls loved the fishing, but not touching the actual fish so much.

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#107.  See the City of Rocks in Cassia County.  This was one of my favorite trips last year.  The City of Rocks is about a three hour drive from Boise.  Almost exactly inbetween here and Salt Lake City.  Which was handy as we were meeting some of our bestest friends the Herberts from SLC there.  It’s a perfect mix of big granite walls, evergreen trees, mountain meadows, and desert brush.  The weather was warm during the day, cool at night.  The sky was a bright blue.  We hiked.  We caught bugs.  We sat in the shade and told stories.  We sat around the fire and listened to music.

The annual “family” picture of us and the Herbert family.

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And one of just the kids.  In a mountain meadow.  Holding hands.  Ahhhhhh…. :)

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There were a few others on the list that we have checked off, but I wasn’t able to find any more pictures.  Now we begin planning our year full of adventures!  Who wants to join us?

Our map, full of pins and potential.  The trips to be taken, roads to be traveled, and mountains to be climbed.  Both close to home…

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And far away.

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Wherever the road may take us, sometimes it’s good to remember that there is great beauty right outside our own back door.

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From off the beaten  path,

Dena