Category Archives: Life

The Night Is Dark And Full Of Sparkles: Overwhelmed

Tyler Knott Gregson poem

It’s the end of the school year and I’m burnt out, overwhelmed, tired, and emotionally exhausted. This school year has been so hard. When I walked into class on the first day of school, I was excited for my husband to come home, excited to build a life in Ridgway, and excited to learn how to teach. When I walked into class on the second day of school, I was exhausted, sad, heartbroken, confused, and unsure of what would happen next. Being single again, suddenly, was not how I’d expected to start the year.

I hiked my way to sanity in the fall, perhaps at the expense of really learning to teach although I think teaching was the only job that I could have made myself really show up for each day. My students made me laugh when all I wanted to do (if I couldn’t be on the trail) was go home, crawl in bed, cuddle Sprocket and cry.

As winter set in, I didn’t do a very good job of getting outside. I didn’t do a good job of exercising. In fact, a lot of the time, I didn’t do a very good job of feeding myself. It meant long gaps with nothing to blog about because how many times could I tell the story of how I spent my weekend watching bad TV in bed working on a quilt because anything else just sounded like too much. I didn’t want to write about how I fretted about how my one year teaching contract ending and where I was going to be for the 2015-2016 school year.
And ultimately, I was just sad. A lot. I was also angry: a little bit at my ex and a lot at myself.


I’d written back in January about being so hopeful for 2015, proclaiming #thenightisdarkandfullofsparkles to be my mantra. It’s still true: the night is still continuing a bit, even if the dark of winter is fading (and hopefully the metaphorical dark is fading too). But you know what? It’s still full of sparkles. And I’m ready to start bringing the light.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Plus, in just over two weeks, it’s summer. My calendar is filling up with awesome fun events—many of which involve hiking and being outside. There are lots of things I have planned with just Sprocket and I but a lot where I get to meet up with some awesome people. I’m not going to be in Ridgway next year and that breaks my heart. But. I do have another teaching job lined up here in Western Colorado and I’ll just keep moving forward.

(I wrote this post during lunch. And then I realized there was no time like the present to start bringing the light so I took myself, and Sprocket, out for a hike after school. It was the best.)

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English Paper Piecing Quilt, Part 3

This winter I’ve been working on assembling the top of my hand quilting project. It is not a fast process! The batting for a queen sized quilt measures 90 x 108″ which means that my quilt top needs to be about 86 x 104″ before it can be assembled into a “quilt sandwich.” My quilt currently measures about 47 x 40″ which means in terms of area, I’m about a quarter of the way done!

Here it is, looking bigger than it is because it’s laid out on a full size bed, on Saturday, February 22:

Quilt, February 2015

I’m so glad I stopped to measure it. To look at my box of unassembled quilt pieces is really quite depressing and makes me feel like I have even further to go!

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Snow! Finally!

I know this winter has been a weird or bad one for a lot of the country. Boston and a good chunk of the North East is buried. California’s wildfire season may start tomorrow considering their very low snowpack (with the Northwest not far behind). Even the south is getting hit with a winter storm right now.

Here in Colorado, we had no snow in town at 7,000′ and most of our south facing slopes up to almost 12,000′ were getting patchy. They were calling for some snow and although during my hike with Sprocket Saturday it looked like the snow might actually be coming it didn’t materialize before I went to bed that night.

I woke up Sunday morning to some wet, heavy snow falling. I had to go up to Ouray and when I returned, I shoveled about 3″ from my driveway and headed inside. It never seemed to snow hard but it snowed pretty constantly the rest of the day. I got a phone call as I was getting in bed that school would be delayed 2 hours the next morning. I shut off my alarm (Sprocket would be alarm enough with a delay!) and went to bed.

In the morning, I learned school was canceled. There were about 16″ of snow on the ground and it was time to get shoveling.

FSJ in the snow. February 2015

Shoveled driveway

Sprocket with snow on nose

Clinton Street

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The (Few) Happy Valentine’s Days

Valentine’s Day.

I honestly have had, in my 29 Valentine’s Days, two, and perhaps a third, that made me feel like this day of love really is okay.


I was about eight. My family went “camping” (we were in our motorhome) at the ocean. I took my pink Minnie Mouse suitcase and packed it with “books and my stuff” but really, I squirreled away the last few heart shaped sugar cookies my mom had made (no one questioned whether I’d actually eaten them all), made Valentines for my mom, my dad, and my sister (I might have even made one for the dog…). I stole some of the Valentines decorations out of my room (yes, our rooms were always decorated for holidays) so I could decorate the motorhome on Valentines day, and not before.

My family was so delighted that I’d taken the time to make them feel special. I still remember my mom and dad just kind of tilting their heads and laughing a bit at the holiday exuberance of their oldest daughter.


I was a sophomore in high school. Neither my friend or I had Valentines but we had planned an evening to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary and eat pizza. I had already established to my friends and family that I hated Valentine’s Day and that it was a stupid holiday designed to make single people feel dumb. (The prior year I’d wore a Maleficent t-shirt to my friends red-pink-and-white party.) We’d both read the books and in our own sixteen year old way, identified with the thirty-something “singleton” Bridget.

That morning, flowers had been delivered to my house from a “Bellarmine freind” (Bellarmine was my high school and, yes, it was spelled “freind.”) We spent a good chunk of our evening speculating who the “freind” was and giggling. Her mom had bought us pizza and had brought us a Papa Murphy’s heart shaped special. We gleefully tore into it with kitchen shears, ripping the heart apart into pieces we felt symbolized our young, tortured, lonely hearts.

When I got back to my house that evening, my parents had Valentines Day gifts for me. I had gotten a small potted rose, but the part that really made my day was the “necklace” of pickle balls on red curling ribbon. (My dad used to spend hours on spring and summer evenings “pitching” to me in the backyard. I was one lucky kid.)

I went to bed that Valentine’s Day feeling lucky to have a friend I could talk to about anything and a family that loved me and was able to poke fun at a holiday that had made me feel sad.


It was my first Valentine’s Day with F. It was my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend ever.

He planned a trip for us to a friend’s beach cabin for the weekend. Weeks before Valentines Day I started shopping for a card and couldn’t find anything that I liked. I ended up making The Best Card Ever and having it printed online. It was the front page of Craigslist on the cover and the text of the personal ad that brought us together inside. I think I bought him a book I thought he’d like to go with it but I’m not really sure.

We spent the weekend hanging out in the Northwest winter damp. I didn’t feel the sense of romance I thought I’d feel but it was mostly nice. We’d get the hang of this, I thought.

We never did have an excellent Valentines Day.



This year, I’ll be out, hiking, alone for Valentines Day.

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