A Little Place Called London

I had the opportunity of a lifetime in October to spend 10 days in London. KUER has a "Citizens of the World" travel program. A portion of the cost of the travel is a donation for the station. We typically have 2 trips a year and send a different staff member to serve as the host. I don't know how the stars aligned so well for me, but I was fortunate enough to be selected for the London On-Stage Theatre tour. Not only has London been at the top of my bucket list for years now - but add in a theatre component and it officially became my dream vacation. Seth stayed home to take care of the girls (what a saint) and I convinced my friend Anne to join me. I'm so glad she came. We had a blast!
Whenever someone asks me how London was I have two responses.  First, "It was the best trip of my life." Second, "It was life-changing." I have been meaning to write this blog for quite some time now but I couldn't begin to wrap my head fully around what I had just experienced. I am not sure I can really articulate it in a way it deserves, but I am going to try. 

Go Learn is a relatively new travel program at the University of Utah. The goal is to combine educational with travel, in order to enrich the travel experience. They were the coordinators of this trip. Two U of U Theatre Department instructors (Tim Slover and Jane England) led the trip. I wasn't sure I would love traveling in such a large group (25 total). I certainly wasn't sure I wanted to go on a trip where the majority of the time was spelled out for you. Turns out I was wrong on both accounts. Visiting a massive city like London for the first time is overwhelming. Tim and Jane made it seamless. They arranged EVERYTHING. And I really do mean everything. I often think about all of the time I have wasted in other cities, trying to plan out my day, navigate the transportation system, find a place to eat, etc. Tim and Jane made it so easy. They booked a beautiful boutique hotel, made reservations at incredible restaurants throughout the 10 days (they could also have called this trip the London Foodie trip), we had tickets for 9 plays - and not just tickets but the best seats! When we had free time they were ready to give us suggestions of what to do. But, the best part of Tim and Jane was having their knowledge of London. Each tourist site was a university mini-lesson. We didn't just walk through Westminster Abbey, we engulfed it. We learned why it was first built, we not only saw the coronation chair but we learned the history of the chair. We even got special behind-the-scenes opportunities (we actually saw Edward the Confessors tomb - which the general public does not see). We went to a Sunday morning church service at the Tower of London. Seriously, in the same chapel that Anne Boleyn is buried! Who does that!? 
We walked through the British National Gallery where we didn't just look at art, we would stop at certain pieces and discuss the symbolism/background of those pieces for 10-15 minutes. One of the best parts of the trip was the passion and excitement that Jane and Tim radiated. The first evening we were there, we went on a walking tour. We took the tube and before we walked up the stairs to exit the station Time said, "Humor me. Keep your eyes down. We are going to walk up the subway stairs, turns to the left and gather as a group. Don't look up. Just keep your head down until I say so." We all chuckled but went along. When we finally got to look up - there was Big Ben towering over us in a breathtaking manner. 

We spent a day at Oxford, where we had "very high-tea."

We also had a private viewing of one of Shakespeare's first folios. Seriously. Again, who does that!? Every experience was perfectly thought-out, thought provoking and delightful. I found myself just giggling with excitement. 

We began each day by about 8 or 9am and wouldn't return to the hotel until nearly midnight. We walked an average of 3-7 miles a day. It was exhausting and exhilarating! Of course, because I was traveling with Anne, we spent the majority of our free time shopping. OMG. Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Portabello Road, Fortnam & Mason, and my favorite Cath Kidston (spirit store). Oh I loved it all.

Now, this was a theatre tour and we did see a TON of plays. Each was wonderful and different. We saw a play called, "A Man of Good Hope" from a South African troupe. We spent all-day Saturday at the National Theatre seeing 3 (yes 3) Chekhov plays. That was an experience, a nearly 8-hour experience but the acting was unreal.While I would likely never choose to sit through 3 Chekhov plays again, it was an experience and I don't regret it one bit!
I saw Sir Patrick Stewart, and Sir Ian McKellen in "No Man's Land" and got their autographs after! Can you believe it? 4th row watching these two giants of acting! 
We also had the honor of seeing "The Merchant of Venice" at the Globe Theatre. This may have been my favorite day of the entire trip. There is something just so magical about seeing a Shakespeare play in that theatre. A large portion of the audience stands. The acting was perfection, Jonathan Pryce played Shylock! I just cried over the entire thing.

For me the real highlight of the plays was seeing "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." 

I can't really put into words how remarkable this play was. First, to be thrown back into the world of Harry Potter, something I have missed terribly the last 5+ years, was like coming home. I loved being reunited with my old friends. Yet, the story was fresh and interesting. The effects were really the highlight for me. Polyjuice potion, duels, time-turners, transfiguration! My friend Tasha sat next to me and we kept gasping and clutching at each other through the entire play. We laughed, we sobbed, we awed. It was incredible. 

Finally we saw, "Father Comes Home from the Wars", a Civil War era play. Also amazing.

Honestly they were all incredible. So different and wonderful. But again, the thing that really added to the experience were the theater chats that we would have before each play. So when we sit through an existentialist play written by Harold Pinter we can say, "we aren't supposed to understand everything that is happening. Just listen in on their conversation, like you would listening in on the couple at the next table at a restaurant." Plus, after you see this level of art, you want to talk about it after. I didn't think I would love this part of the trip, but I did. I loved every stimulating conversation. 
Now I only want to travel with Go Learn! Honestly if I had more expendable income I would go somewhere once a year with them. It was truly a life-changing experience. I've thought a lot about why I felt it was so powerful to me. I think a large part of it was just completely immersing myself in the world of London for 10 days. For the first time in nearly 5-years I was able to let my hair down. I was able to sleep uninterrupted. For 10 days I didn't cook a meal, wash a dish, change a diaper, argue with Millie or hold a fussy Matilda. For 10 days I was swimming in history, art, shopping, food, adult conversations. I was so worried about leaving my girls for such a long time. I thought after 3-4 days that I would miss them painfully. But I didn't! I really feel like I found a lost piece of myself again. I am more than just a wife and mother. I'm passionate and curious. I am wild and unruly. 

I often joke with my mom that she would rather replace her carpet, or build a new deck and I would rather travel for that same cost. I feel like travel isn't just a 10-day experience. It shapes you. It changes you. It opens your eyes to other cultures and experiences. I would spend all of my money traveling if I could.
Samuel Johnson said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." London is spectacular! I am counting the days to when I can go back, and take my husband and daughters with me. My heart belongs in this city. So rich in history, so vibrant with people. Just lovely. 

Til' we meet again. 

Welcome Home

It's an odd feeling saying goodbye to a home. For over 10 years the house on Evergreen was a part of my life. I feel as if I didn't have time to say a proper goodbye to the house. The day we moved, I left to take a load over and never returned. There was not a moment of wandering through the empty house, running my fingers slowly across the kitchen counter, gazing idly outside our bedroom window. I would have spoken to the house. I would have told the house how much I loved my time in it. I would have thanked the house for all it had offered me and my family. Instead I didn't have that chance. I was unpacked and settled in our new house, just 2 blocks away. I am so enamored by our new home that I haven't had much time to think about our old house. I haven't given it a proper goodbye and a proper thank you. So instead, I'll do it here.

Thank you Evergreen house. I have so many memories. I fell in love with Seth in this house. I remember one of the first times we hung out, I drove around and looked at properties with Seth. I wasn't that impressed with the house and it's all-pink tones. I tried to convince him to move to the house on Sunnyside instead. But he saw past the pink. And I am so glad he did. I fell in love with Seth in this house. I had a video of Seth playing his newly acquired baby grand piano in the sunroom. I kept that video on my flip phone and played it often, swooning each time. Many of my early memories of the house were spent helping Seth as he remodel. I helped paint, install the tile floor, I rallied the troops as Seth was heading to PA school so the kitchen would be completed before I moved in. I loved seeing Seth transform this house.

It was in the Evergreen house where I first started really drinking. In fact, it was the first (and only) time that I drank so much that I threw up. Poor Timms. I'll never forget her telling me, "Beck, I'm just going to go downstairs to get ready for bed." While I sat on the floor, slumped over the bathtub, absolutely sick as a dog. I replied, "Just come in here. I'm not going to see. I can't even lift up my head."

I broke up with Seth while living in this house. He was in Seattle for a PA school rotation. I was living there with my cousin Emily. I was at an U of U football game one afternoon. When I came home I found a huge bouquet of flowers with an engagement ring tied around them. I demanded a real proposal...which also happened in this house a few months later.

He proposed to me the night before Christmas Eve. A trail of gifts, a fire roaring in the fireplace and the room magically aglow with the lights of the Christmas tree. The ring, hidden in plain sight, in an ornament on the tree. Britney and Sean taping the entire proposal from under the piano.

I found out I was pregnant, both times, in this home. The first pregnancy, I sat shaking on the bathroom tub when I shockingly discovered two very-special lines.

We we brought both of our babies home to this house. We experiences first steps, first words and sleepless nights in this home. We built our family here.


And of course, we put a lot of elbow grease into the house. Remodeled it nearly fully. We made it into "our home" and yet, it really just stopped suiting our needs. No matter how much we loved it, we realized it just wasn't what we wanted anymore. And so we sold it and watched as the new owner started transforming it into "her" home.

The morning of the move, I had about an hour at the house by myself. I walked into the baby's room and started sobbing. I was able to let go of the house for the most part. But this room held so many special memories.

Memories of nursing my babies in the quiet hours of night. Memories of lying on the floor and watching Millie crawl for the first time, and then walk for the first time. Memories of rocking Millie to sleep for the last time, the night before she would move into her "big-girl" room in the basement. Memories of Matilda laughing on her changing table.


I would never have that again and it broke my heart. I closed the door, wiped my tears and moved on.

And here we are a few weeks later, and I admit, I don't miss the house at all. The moment we first walked into our new house, we knew it was ours. The yard, the layout, the overall feeling of the house is perfect. It feels so quiet, secluded and peaceful. It's not on a busy street, it's not bright-yellow. It's private and wonderful. It's our new home.

The home that we will take into the next phase of our lives. The home where our girls will grow into teenagers. The home where we will spend hours on homework and school projects. The home where we will practice sports and have campouts in the back-yard. The home where the girls will have sleepovers and birthday parties. The home where we send them off to kindergarten, first dates and even away to college. And it's the perfect home for that. It's the perfect home for the next 20 years.

So thank you Evergreen. Thank you for the memories, the lessons and the love. We'll miss you.

Taking Stock Again

Thanks to TimeHop I realized that I wrote a simple "taking stock" blog 2 years ago this June.  Read it here.  I'm noticing that my depression peaks in June every year. Such an odd time. But I do think I'm coping better. I thought it would be fun to write this again.

Taking stock 2016

Making:  Preparations to move in one month. OMG. I can't wait and I'm terrified.

Cooking:  Constantly. Why do we have to feed our children!? Ha!

Drinking:  A glass of wine, or a beer, every night. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

Reading:   "The Shoemakers Wife" - again. It's so good. Read it.

Wanting:   To be back in shape. Peace. To get settled in my new house. Healing for those I love. A vacation with Seth. Fall! London. 

Looking:   At possible big changes in my life.

Playing:    Go Fish. Every day with Millie.

Wasting:   Energy on things I can't control.

Wishing:   That Matilda would stay this age. She's perfect right now. Just perfect.

Missing:    Romance.

Enjoying:  My amazing daughters and how delightful and unique they are.

Waiting:   For life to feel a bit easier again. But I keep waiting for this, maybe it's time to stop.

Liking:    Summer dresses, Louie, the feeling of butterflies I get when thinking about London this fall, sweet potatoes, Hamilton.

Wondering:  What other major changes could come this year?

Loving:  That Matilda is SUCH a momma's girl. She's clingy. She only wants me. But she snuggles and kisses me and I LOVE it.

Hoping:  I can get my act together and run the 1/2 marathon in September.

Marveling:  At the amount of love I can feel for my family. It's consuming and wonderful. 

Needing:   A night away with Seth. 

Smelling:  The stale smell of air-conditioned air.

Wearing:  Clothes that feel a bit too snug.

Following:  A lot less. No Facebook has done wonders for my mood.

Noticing:    That I control my happiness. It's all me.
Knowing:   Everything is going to be ok. 

Thinking:   Of all of the things I need to do. And wonderful how in the hell we are going to pull this off.

Giggling:   With my coworkers over our verbal abuse and Michael McDonald impressions.
Feeling:  Good, in spite of all of the shit that has been taking place around me.  

She Used to be Mine

It's not simple to say, that most days, I don't recognize me.

It's not easy to know, I'm not anything like I used to be.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and think, "Who are you?" You don't seem to resemble the old you. Neither in appearance or in personality. You've become a shadowed version of yourself. It happens so gradually that you don't even notice it at first. But one day, bam! You start self reflecting and realize how much you have changed. Sometimes for the better, but lately for me, its been for the worse.

Tonight I was leaving a get together with some girlfriends. For the first time in days I felt relaxed and content. I didn't feel like a pile of stress, anxiety, anger and nerves. I was alone in my car, driving on the freeway during the pinking hour. Marveling at the view of the mountains that I see every day, but rarely see at this time of night. I was listening to my music for a change, and not KUER. "She Used to be Mine" is my current favorite song. I sang along, as usual, and realized how applicable the song is to the way I feel. Life has swept in through the backdoor and carved out a person that I no longer recognize.

Life, as of late has made me angry. Jaded. Sad. Both just the world and current events (Orlando shooting, a possible Trump presidency, etc.) but mainly my personal life has made me angry. I don't need to go into everything that has been happening in my life, and in my family's life but it has hurt us all. It has pitted sibling against sibling. Parent against parent. I've felt and experienced moments of fear, anger, sadness and despondency. All of these emotions have turned me into a person that I don't like.

When I think back to what the "old Becky" was like I think the most descriptive words would be: happy, positive, empathetic, social, loving, kind, silly.

I miss that girl. This girl isn't any of those things right now. This girl feels more: depressed, caged, angry, tired, ugly, negative. This girl writes blogs about how much she despises summer and then gets upset when people call her out for being angry. Old Becky would never have written something so ridiculous. And her dear friends would never have to call her out for her shitty attitude. This version of me has become so enraged by people's comments and opinions on Facebook that she wanted to jump through the screen and clock neighbors, friends and family in the nose. This Becky is not me. I have allowed largely external events in my life carve me into a person that is largely unrecognizable. And I'm tired of it. I'm ready to start the transformation ... to rise from the ashes ... and become "me" again.

This has been and will continue to be a difficult year and I can decide to let it pull me even further away from myself, or I can do better to rise above it. I'm not sure what to do about my family situation. I'm looking for a reasonable way to deal with the pain and the fear. There are no clear answers.

Today I was lucky enough to see the Dalai Lama speak. Hearing him couldn't have come on a more perfect day. I felt so burdened as I walked to the event. I just needed to feel... light again. His message was simple, we need to be more compassionate. We can't simply pray for peace, we must be active in achieving peace in this world. We are all the same. We all deserve love and happiness.

As I contemplated his message I realized that I can't bring peace to the world. But I can bring peace within myself. I can't just sit around and expect life to calm down and for peace to once again settle upon my life. I need to actively search it out. In the past I have found peace in yoga. I have found peace in running. I have found peace in my beautiful daughters. I have found peace in letting go of control. I have found peace in forgiveness. I have found peace by offering love to another. I have found peace by consciously making an effort to control my negative thoughts and expressions.

This current Becky is crap. I'm ready to disassemble her piece by piece until I find the old Becky again. Because under the layers of bitterness, negativity, self-consciousness, and anger is that happy and positive girl that I once knew.

So here's to finding her again.

Making Peace with Summer

It's June 15th today. It's a hot and windy evening. I'm sitting in my air-conditioned house thinking about summer. I have began my early morning runs that I usually start regularly in May and the mornings are already warm. The sun starts to rise around 5:15am, and my girls wake early with it. I grudgingly remove my summer clothes bin from the garage and put away my cute sweaters, boots, coats and scarves. Our backyard neighbors begin having weekend parties on their back deck until the wee hours of morning. The girls go to bed at 7:30-8:00 and our street fills with people walking up to the park for the summer night movies in the park just as I start making my way downstairs to enjoy some TV. And just as I start to drift off to sleep, someone lights off fireworks...in June.

I hate summer.

I know people think I'm crazy but I just don't love summer. As a kid it was awesome. No school. No responsibilities. Hanging out with friends all day. Spending so much time at the pool that my hair turned green. Night games. Sleepovers. Camping and vacations. Summer as a kid was awesome.

Summer as an adult without kids, still pretty great. Festivals. Vacations. Hanging out in the canyons. Rock climbing. Staying up late with friends. Fourth of July in Boise.

Outdoor concerts. Long bike rides.

Summer with young kids...not fun. I think eventually I'll love the summer again. Maybe when my kids are older and going to the pool means "taking the kids swimming while I relax and read a book". Right now going to the pool means making sure the girls aren't burning, drowning or getting splashed by the big kids. Most summer activities require an insane amount of planning and packing for an activity that lasts maybe 1-2 hours tops and is just a lot of damn work.

We don't really go to festivals. Festivals mean crowds. Crowds and strollers don't mix. Festivals mean heat...which I hate. I don't even stay up late anymore because the blasted sun wakes my kids up at 6am or earlier. And my kids really just need to go to bed at a decent hour. Last night we were late getting the girls to bed. They both went to bed about an hour later than normal. They were both a mess today. It's just not worth it. So we bring them home. We leave the barbecues early because it's just not worth a full day of fussy kids because they are tired.

Vacations? Ya, vacations with little ones are not fun. They are trips. They are exhausting. I can't wait until my kids are about 7 and 10. Road trips will be a blast. Right now, Matilda just screams in her carseat. Right now I see people posting pictures of their vacations and I practically cry with envy. Seth and I haven't had a night away together in 16 months. 16 freaking months. The need I have for a vacation is intense. The jealousy is palpable. I seriously can't stop thinking about this trip with my friends...and wanting to be there so much that I almost can't stand it.

My biggest gripe about summer though is the heat. I hate that I can't take my girls to the park in the middle of the day because it's too hot and the slides could potentially scald their legs. I love the idea of barbecues with family and friends, but it's often to hot to enjoy being outside until the sun goes down.

Sleeping in the summer is tough because it doesn't cool off enough at night to sleep with the windows open. Trying to run any later than 8am usually is impossible because it's too hot. Boo for heat!

And can I talk about something that I absolutely hate that goes hand-in-hand with this awful season? Fireworks. Now, let me be clear, I don't mind them on the 4th and the 24th. I get it. Have fun. Light them. Go to overly crowded parks and witness the shows. That is fun (again my kids are too little to take there) But why, oh why do we have to have them all damn summer? I don't know if it's just my neighborhood but I start hearing them at the end of June and they last through Labor Day. Late at night, in the middle of the night, those huge ariel ones keep me awake and pisses me right off. I want to punch fireworks in the face because people are so inconsiderate. I can't put in earplugs so it just interrupts my sleep. Stupid fireworks make me irrationally angry.

So yes. I hate summer. You know the best part about summer? The anticipation of autumn.  Seriously, I'm already excited for fall. I get butterflies thinking about fall. The crisp days, the brilliant colors, the smells, the baking, the fashion, pumpkins, football, Halloween, etc. Autumn is the best season. It comes too late and leaves too soon but I love it so damn much.

Ok now that I have my hatred of summer off my chest (holy cow I really just went off there didn't I?), I really need to start thinking of ways to make peace with it. I can't change summer. So how do I embrace it? I see so many friends that just dread the coming of school every August. They hate the schedules and routine...and I crave that. How do you teach a type A, OCD personality to enjoy the carefree days of summer?

Summer, I desperately want to love you. I want to look forward to you. I want to enjoy the heat and get a nice tan. I want to stay up late with my kids watching movies in the park. I want to go camping and to the firework shows.

But I ... just...can't.

So do I just come to terms with the reality of my summers for now? Do I just bask in the glory of Netflix binging? Do I blow up inflatable pools, put my baby in a cute swimming suit and sit in a lawn chair while drinking a beer and call it good?

That's my reality right now. Summers aren't relaxing. Summers are just seasons that make me insanely jealous of people with more freedom than I have. But summer won't always suck for me. In about 3-4 years I will probably love summer and despise fall. I may discover what the big fuss is about. But for now, I have to simply make peace with this blasted season.

This year I vow to buy fireworks to shoot off in my driveway. And invite a whole group of family and friends to come and enjoy with us.

Our new house has a covered patio, so I will have barbecues often, and at 6pm and won't die of heat. I'll take the girls swimming and be completely ok with leaving after 45 minutes. I'll plan a couple of small weekend trips with my little family because that's what you do in the summer. You go on vacation. Boise, here we come! I vow to put the girls to bed and to spend some evenings sitting outside with Seth, enjoying summer nights (which are pretty spectacular - and the only redeeming part of summer here) while we drink wine.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get a babysitter a couple of summer nights so that Seth and I can walk up to the park and enjoy watching Goonies with 400 other people.

Summer. I'm here to embrace you. I can't change this situation. Rather than hate you, i'm going to try so hard to find ways to love you.

Maybe that simply means eating more tomatoes? Challenge accepted.