Slush.

This town is covered in slush.  And I realized that this weekend marks about a year since we departed for our honeymoon on Maui.  A trip to the sweet land of Hawaii would really heal the ails of wet boots and muddy yards and snowy rain.  But alas, we can’t all be so lucky to flit off to those heavenly islands on a whim, so we are making do with our new northern location.  B and I are planning a road trip to Vancouver, B.C. next week to cure those wanderlust pangs and get in some fun while we are still unemployed and free to roam.

Until then, some manual pictures taken by a waterproof disposable while we were honeymooning.

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Sea of love.

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Hotel pools and waterfalls and ocean and pina coladas.

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I’m convinced we are the cutest.

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Someday, I’ll collect every picture I have of B making this face and it will be a glorious day.

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My fair skin loved this dark alcove to hide from the sun.

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He sinks like a stone.

xo

 

 

Party on.

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Long, long ago, I took these photos and planned to share this special party planner book with you.  But alas, they are just now seeing the light of day.  Call it a welcome distraction, but I’m feeling motivated to write and write and write and write instead of thinking and fretting and thinking and fretting.

When B and I were first dating, I went to Sandpoint with him and his dad.  While they wandered the small downtown, I popped into a secondhand bookstore.  Tucked in the back was this gem – the floral fabric caught my eye against the dusty old grey and green and brown book covers.

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I assumed at first that it was a journal.  Instead, I found a barely used party planning book from decades ago.  I’ve used this thing to plan barbecues, birthday parties, even Christmases and Thanksgivings.

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As an aspiring professional party planner, I laugh at the idea that it was once standard to dictate what your guests should wear.  Now, it simply falls into categories – black tie, cocktail, business, business casual, casual, summer casual – that guests are left to determine on their own.  If I’m inviting you to a barbecue, you can probably guess it’s not black tie.  But even when I was planning my wedding, I ran across forums where brides professed their desire to say on the invitation what guests should wear.  In this new world of ours, though, people just don’t like being told what to do.

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I just adore every day objects that are so very dated, like this reminder list with cigarettes and ashtrays on it.  Now, if you bought any event planning journal, the reminder list would certainly not include any vices.

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Sometimes I wish B was a diplomat so that my wifely duties included hosting meals and cocktail hours constantly.

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Courage.

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Barely over a month after learning about our friend Jon Wight’s aggressive, rare abdomen cancer, he has passed away.  Hours before a giant benefit for him was taking place in Moscow, Idaho, on the same day as a psychotic murder spree in that old quiet town of ours.  If I was a believer in God, I’d say he was on vacation this past Saturday.

I started to post last night, but found myself so full of fear and emotion, I abandoned the whole idea.  But today, I feel clearer in the head.  I dreamt of Jon last night, singing on the deck of the manor, dangling his dirty feet and smiling his crooked smile.  Instead of making me sad, it made me feel strength.  There are so many people that loved him, and he really will live on forever in those rich memories.

Writing in memoriam can be tricky, because my pain from losing Jon is an amalgamation of every emotion Jon has ever made me feel paired with intense empathy.  I imagine losing those who shape my life every day, and how frightening it is to face every primal instinct we have in order to survive such a loss.  We go back to basics, we rebuild and relearn how to wake up every day.  And there aren’t enough words in every language’s lexicon to really honor a person like Jon.

So instead, I’m healing by remembering every lesson I ever learned from him.  Kindness and courage.  He was the best of us, and he left a lot of love in his wake.

 

Why New Years is the best holiday…

…and it has absolutely nothing to do with new beginnings, change or a look back at a year gone by.

New Years Eve is my favorite holiday because it marks the end of the Christmas season.  I like Christmas just fine, but the mayhem, the crazy nonsense that it has all become – I am always ready for it to be over.

Yesterday, my husband asked me what was my favorite thing that happened in 2014.  As a side note, I absolutely adore that he asks me those types of questions.  My first response was our trip to Beijing.  But then I remembered we started our year out with a honeymoon to Maui and I obviously had to go with that.

But with those great memories, in our first year of marriage, we experienced a lot of loss, sudden changes, and bad news.  We lost Jay, one of Bryan’s best friends, unexpectedly.  One moment he was eating dinner with his best friend and girlfriend, the next moment he’s gone forever.  I lost my Grandpa Mickey, Bryan lost his Grandpa Pat and Grandma Wayv.  And then we capped it off with Jon’s terrible diagnosis at the end of November.

All of these things serve as a reminder to us that it doesn’t matter what resolutions you make, or how hard you work, or how good you try to be.  Bad things will happen, and it’s our ability to weather those storms that give us character and integrity.

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(This picture of Jay hangs in our room, big and framed and beautiful.  The best present ever from Bryan’s BFF Jon)

Good happens, bad happens, it’s all a crapshoot.  I take comfort in that.

Back with Jingle Bells On

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(Bryan at one of the watchtowers on the Great Wall – my girl Emily took such beautiful pictures on her manual camera)

I am back to this space of mine, settled in a new home (somewhat) and at ease (somewhat) in my mind.  Moving during the Christmas season made everything holiday related seem superfluous and not important.  I’d rather not fret over a holiday that comes and goes every year with more fervor and less meaning each time.  It felt good to be unconcerned with Christmas and I’m looking forward to New Years Eve, as always, my favorite holiday.

I am preparing more content for this place, and I’m excited to share with everyone throughout the year.  It seems to be a year of change coming, and I couldn’t be happier.

 

 

Rally

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We are back from China.  And moving towns next week.  And this is my last week of work.  And one of my close friends, Jon, has aggressive, rare cancer.

I feel like I’ve been choking on my words, so it’s been hard to fill this space with much.  I have things to say, just not quite ready to say them.

I do know we step up when we’re needed, and we rally as long as we have to.  I’m glad to be back home, and grateful, as always, for the opportunity to travel with the people I love.

*If you are looking to give back this holiday season, any little amount helps Jon and his family with the excessive costs of medical care, transportation, and lost wages from missed work.  There is a GoFundMe site set up for him – even if you can’t give anything, share the link everywhere you can.

First Anniversary

Today marks a year since our wedding.  It went quick, and was marked by so many life changing moments and losses and gains that we now see how each year will bring a stronger foundation to our marriage.

View More: http://alejandramariaphotography.pass.us/jill-and-bryan-wedding

We didn’t do anything special today, except spend good quality time together, enjoying a rainy, dreary day watching our favorite shows.  He made me breakfast, and I’m about to make him some chocolate chip cookies.  Nothing special, and everything perfect.