My Parents on 40 Years of Marriage

This October, my parents, John & Donna (O’Connell) Dzenawagis, celebrate 40 years of marriage. Since I’ve become the unofficial family historian, I thought it would be a good opportunity to document the story of how they met, their wedding, and get their thoughts on the highs (and lows) of the 40+ years they’ve spent together. A reminder to everyone, it is absolutely invaluable to have these stories recorded. And it was also just fun to interview my parents and ask questions I normally might not have. Happy Anniversary Mum & Dad. 💕

Danne: I've always loved the story of how you guys met, will you tell it to me again?

Dad: I believe we met at Maple Alleys which was a bowling alley in Brockton. 
 Yes, it was Maple Alleys. People used to drink beers and party in the woods out back and there was a big rock out there. One night a bunch of us were there and I was standing up on the rock. I looked down and saw Dad at the bottom, I had never seen him before—I had heard about him though, all the girls at school were talking about him. I looked down at him and said "Catch me" and jumped...and he caught me. I don't know what I was thinking! 
Dad: (laughing) That's probably when my back problems started.
Mum: (laughing) Probably! Anyways, after that, he'd come down to Maple Alleys looking for me and we started talking more and more. Then Dad's cousin Steve asked him to find someone to go on a double date with him and that ended up being our first date. 

Danne: And then you got married 8 years later on October 7, 1978—40 years ago this year. Where was the ceremony? The reception? How many guests did you have?

Mum: Eight and a half years! Dad took his time. We got engaged on Easter Sunday at Grammy's house. Our wedding was the following fall at St. Colman's Church and we had the reception at the Walk-Over Club in's not there anymore, they made it into condos. It was a cool old place that looked like a castle, that's why I liked it. 
Dad: I think we had around 120-125 guests? The wedding party was about 20 counting the little kids. 

Danne: What was your favorite memory from your wedding day?

Mum: I loved taking the photos because it was fall and the foliage was gorgeous that year, it was a really nice day. Fall is my favorite season so that's why we decided to get married then.
Dad: Dancing with Mum to "Color My World" by Chicago and our wedding song, "I Only Have Eyes for You"

Danne: Does 40 years feel like a long time or did it go by in the blink of an eye?

Mum: Yes. It feels like a long time. It didn't fly by...I can look back and think of all the things that have happened over those 40 years, I remember what it was like when we first got married, before we had kids, etc. A lot has happened since then. 
Dad: Sometimes it feels long, but we still get along, we still make each other laugh. She's an incredible human being, I'm blessed. 

Danne: What would you say the happiest time in your marriage was?

Mum: The first 20 years, the beginning. The empty nest has been a little tough, it's good in some ways too, you don't have to take care of anyone. You can just focus on yourself which you haven't done for so long. But you're healthier in the beginning. Once health issues enter in it's really hard. "In sickness and in health", people just say it, but you don't realize what those words actually mean until you get older. 
Dad: I think the beginning. And then when you and your brother were born. You kids are incredible, it's been a great ride.
Mum: Yes, Dad and I look at each other sometimes and can't believe how lucky we were with you kids. You're such great children. You always helped out, we never had to raise our voices. You always remembered everything, anniversaries, birthdays. We never got a phone call from the police or had to hire a lawyer!

*Sidenote: I absolutely did not put either of them up to saying that 😉

Danne: You've been married 40 years now, but together for almost 50. What do you think the secret to a long-lasting relationship is?

Mum: You can't be selfish, you have to be a giver, you have to share. You have to really like each other and be good friends too. With my personality, it's helpful that Dad is so easy going. 😉 
Dad: It's a two-way street. You have to share with your partner, make the best of it, take one day at a time. Just be yourself, that's what I try to do.

Danne: What do you love most about each other?

Mum: Probably his personality. His optimism, he's pure. You don't find many pure people in the world anymore. Dad's the kindest and nicest person I've ever met. 
Dad: Ditto. And I love that Mum makes me laugh all the time, it's great medicine. 



Death Valley National Park (with a little bit of Las Vegas 🎲)

As someone who loves to travel, I'm fortunate that I get to travel for work from time to time for trade shows. While the typical trade show hot spots like Orlando and Las Vegas aren't necessarily my #1 choice of destination, I'm pretty good at doing a little research to see what's within a few hours of driving distance so I can extend my trip to visit someplace I actually do want to spend time. 

Back in June, I worked a show in Vegas and had my heart set on visiting Death Valley National Park afterward. Dan opted out of this trip so I asked my good friend Kim if she wanted to tag along—which, of course, she said yes to because we are both Sagittarius' who don't need to be talked into an adventure.

She flew in from New York City the night my trade show ended and we picked up our rental car the following morning and headed off into the desert. 


Before we left, we hemmed and hawed over where to stay and we finally settled on The Oasis at Death Valley, which was 100% the right decision. There aren't a ton of lodging options in the Death Valley area but this place turned out to be amazing—it truly felt like an oasis in the middle of such a dry and vast landscape.

The grounds were immaculate (and surprisingly lush), the room was perfect, the pool felt like it was straight out of Condé Nast Traveler, and the on-site restaurant and bar were both way better than we were expecting for desert dining.  


The day we arrived we kept it low key and sipped piña coladas by the pool, but by day two we were ready to get out an explore. It was mid-June and we knew it was going to be hot, but holy hell, it was HOT. Upwards of 114 degrees Fahrenheit, hot. So hot that there were warnings all over to not even walk around outside past 10am—and we even learned at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center that your body can lose 2 gallons of water a day just sitting in the SHADE in that kind of heat. Whoa.

While I love nothing more than taking a long hike in a National Park, hiking in extreme heat like that wasn't going to happen. Lucky for us, Death Valley is gorgeous to drive through, and we were happy to see most of the park by car, stopping off at various scenic points to (cautiously) explore. 

Death Valley In a Day: Must-Sees

  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: Kim and I are both from a beach town and at one point here we looked at each other and said: "But...where's the ocean?". Beach that goes on, and on, and on...with no water.
  • Badwater Basin: It's the lowest point in North America, cool! And the ground is literally covered in salt, that yes, you can actually eat. We did, it was wild. 
  • Artist Pallete: We were here at the wrong time of day for taking photos, but wow, it was one of the most beautiful natural wonders I've ever seen. The drive to and from is absolutely stunning. 
  • Dante's View: Truly breathtaking and the elevation is higher which means cooler temperatures for hiking around. We almost skipped this one and I'm so glad we didn't. 
  • Zabriskie Point: One of those sunsets I'll remember for the rest of my life. We brought some cans of cheap Trader Joe's rosé, camped out, and watched the colors transform the landscape before us. Not wanting the magic to end, we chased the sunset, driving through the park until after dark. After that we laid out on the deck of our hotel and looked at the stars—which are so much more vibrant in parts of the country without light pollution. They have a saying that "half of the park is after dark" in a lot of National Parks and it's so true. 💫

But eventually we did have to make our way back to Las Vegas to fly home, so we made a few fun pit-stops along the way to try to ease the transition back to reality. Sidenote: Taking a red-eye across the country after a crazy week/weekend and going directly to work from the airport is the opposite of easing back into reality. Lesson learned. That was rough. 

Now, I love Vegas, we got married there after-all, but somehow the few times I had been before this trip, I hadn't made it to Seven Magic Mountains or The Neon Museum? Being such a big fan of kitsch, Americana, and weird contemporary art, I knew it had to happen on this trip, and I'm glad Kim was game because both were amazing. 


And while I did a lot of traditional Vegas-ey things during the week of the trade show, I think what took the Vegas-Cake this time around was when I tagged along for a desert-drive to Mt. Charleston with a co-worker who rented a lime green Lamborghini. I never thought I cared much about exotic cars, but um, it was pretty awesome—and a Vegas-AF thing to do.

And speaking of cars, when we were planning this trip, Kim and I had a dreamy vision of renting a convertible and driving through the desert with the top down. You know, like Thelma with Louise but without the driving-off-a-cliff part. 

When it came down to it though, we ended up not getting the convertible and settled for whatever compact car Hertz had available (sometimes Kim and I make financially responsible decisions, sometimes). When we arrived to 114-degree weather and 40mph winds in Death Valley, we could not stop laughing at how stupid of an idea a convertible was. I think our skin literally would have melted to the seats and I would still have a sunburn 3 months later.

A word from the wise (read: the stupid): do not even consider renting a convertible if you're driving to Death Valley in the summertime. After baking in the sun at every stop, we were VERY happy to retreat back to our nondescript, air-conditioned Toyota sedan with a roof. Dear God...


p.s. One of my favorite stories from this trip happened right after this photo was taken. I wanted a pic of me in the Lamborghini (because how many times was that going to happen in my life?) so I took my sandals off to stand on the seat. I may or may not have been a little hungover that day (a common side effect of Las Vegas) and didn't realize until we got back to the car rental office that I had accidentally left my sandals on the side of the road...about an hour away from where we were. Oh. What followed was an epic walk of shame through the Hard Rock Hotel to get back to my room, barefoot and filthy with gnarley wind-blown hair. Holy, Las Vegas moment.

The best part though? The next day when Kim and I were driving out to Death Valley, we serendipitously passed by the Lambo photoshoot location and I decided that we might as well stop and see if my sandals were still there. After a little searching to find the exact spot, low and behold, I actually freaking found them. Untouched and right where I had left them the day before. Yes way.  

I'll thank Lady Luck for that one 🎲 ✨ 🎰

Recently Enjoyed Quotes: Summer 2018

From books, articles, podcasts, social media, and more, here are some recently enjoyed quotes:

Vastness expands our worldview and shrinks our ego and gives us a feeling of “small self”—in a good way. Awe stirs a greater sense of oneness with others and can open a greater identification with our divine and eternal Self for the spiritually minded. Awe reminds us that we are part of a much deeper intelligence and reminds us of the insignificance of our worries. Awe keeps our egos in check. Awe helps us to move through sadness with gratitude and acceptance.
— An excerpt on “Awe” from the Radiant Life Ayurveda newsletter

Here’s a mental shift that might help: when you’re feeling hurt, sad, angry, overburdened…think of it not as a problem, but as an experience. Fully feel whatever pain or sadness or anger you’re feeling. Stop avoiding it and just feel it. Truly allow yourself to feel it. And as you feel it, don’t think of the difficult feeling as a problem you need to solve. A thing you need to get rid of. Think of it as an experience you’re having. It’s not a problem, it’s an experience.
— Leo Babauta

Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly, it reminds us that we know we can do better.
— Kathryn Schulz 

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
— C. Northcote Parkinson

One of the great purposes of communication is to connect, not correct.
— Rich Roll Podcast, Episode 343

Go where peace is easy.
— Rachel Brathen

Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d like to see you in better living conditions
— Jack Kornfield on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday

The sea always has the last word.
— Agnes Varda

Glamping in Moab & Exploring Utah's National Parks

After we eloped in Las Vegas last year, we took what I called a "minimoon" to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah. March was a little early beach-weather-wise to do our full-fledged honeymoon to Croatia, but I wanted to do something after the "wedding" itself before heading back to the dreary Michigan weather we had left behind.

As it turns out, Vegas is actually a pretty good jumping off point to get to a bunch of amazing locations—including Utah's "Mighty Five" National Parks. Because we were only able to tackle 2 of the 5 on the minimoon, when it came time to plan our first-anniversary trip, I had my sights set on hitting the ones we missed the first time around.

As an "outdoorsy-ish" person, I do enjoy camping, but if I'm being honest..."glamping" is where it's at. Our first glamping experience was at Garden Village in Slovenia last year and it was so perfect for a couple of "nature bums" like ourselves that it's become our new thing. 

Once we decided that Moab would be our central location for this trip, a little Googling led us to Under Canvas Moab. For those who follow me on IG, let me just say that my posts weren't any sort of exaggerated version of reality: this place is legit.


Under Canvas Moab

If you haven't glamped before, the basic gist of it is that you're at a campground, in a tent, but it's a fancy tent...with a bed...and if you're lucky...a bathroom. At Under Canvas Moab our tent even had a wood-burning stove, which was amazing because in early-March the temperature dropped down to the mid-30s at night and we would have been freezing without it.

Our tent also featured a little platform porch with deck chairs that faced out to the desert and gave us a perfect view of the sunrise—which we were actually up for one morning, a first for two people who often sleep until 10 or 11 on the weekend. 😬


Under Canvas has some great amenities too: an outdoor fire pit with s'more-making materials, a community tent with couches, complimentary coffee, tea, and water, the option to order healthy breakfasts and lunches to have delivered, and on-site staff 24/7 to help with anything that might come up. Oh, and there's also daily housekeeping (I know what you're thinking hardcore campers, don't judge). I love that they're located a little bit outside of town too so we were able to feel immersed in nature but still only have to drive 15 minutes to get to Arches. 

All in all, it was pretty awesome and we would 100% stay there again. I recommend glamping and Under Canvas in particular to anyone who likes to moderately rough-it (ha!) and experience something a little cooler than run-of-the-mill hotel chains.

They have a few locations aside from the one in Moab too (I'm coming for you Glacier and Great Smokey Mountains), check it out on their main site: Under Canvas


Canyonlands National Park & Dead Horse Point State Park

  • About 45 minutes from Moab, I looooved Canyonlands National Park. The crowds were minimal and we were able to hike far enough in that we could actually be alone in nature in complete silence. Ahhh, the NP dream...
  • We explored the Island in the Sky area of the park (which I found to be aptly named) and my favorite trails were Grand View Point (stunning panoramic views the entire time with perfect rocks to picnic on) and Upheaval Dome (totally worth it to hike past the first overlook and onto the second. We parked it on a rock in the middle and took a nap in the sun, it was perfect).
  • Dead Horse Point State Park is right on the drive back to Moab from Canyonlands so it's definitely worth a stop. You'll probably recognize the view from Dead Horse Point Overlook, apparently it's one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world. 
  • Sidenote: The Visitor Center and facilities are way nicer at Dead Horse than at Canyonlands. The more you know 😉

Arches National Park & Corona Arch

  • If Arches was as crowded as it was in March, I can't imagine what it's like in the summertime. There was definitely much less "alone in nature" time here, but it was stunning nonetheless. I truthfully loved driving through almost as much as hiking too, so if it's a billion degrees when you go, it's worth the entrance fee just for the scenic drive.  
  • We did a few hikes in Arches and Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were the most memorable to me. The Delicate Arch hike was tougher than I was anticipating (uphill in direct sunlight for the majority of it) but it's pretty special when you get to the end and round the bend to see that iconic arch (it's the one on Utah's license plate) all by its lonesome with the La Sal Mountains behind it. 
  • We had wanted to hit Capitol Reef National Park on this trip too but the timing was going to be a little tight. We had time for one more quick hike though so we drove out to Corona Arch in Moab and it was great. Barely anyone else was on the trail and there were arches galore. 
  • If you're looking to take home a souvenir, the Arches NP gift shop actually has some really cool stuff. We got a t-shirt and a hat with an awesome woodblock design by a local artist.
  • Sidenote: I found out the hard way that there is indeed poison ivy in the desert. Don't touch the plants! And Google it before you go so you can identify it, they look a little different than the plants we're used to up north. 

And if glamping isn't for you and neither are strip-mall hotels in seedy towns (sorry Moab), we spent the night of our anniversary at the Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab (view from our room pictured below) and it was lovely. It's far enough out of town that it feels remote, the restaurant was actually surprisingly good with red rock views from every table and Cactustinis (🌵🍸) on the menu, and there's a winery on-site, bonus! The hot tub under the stars was necessary too after a few long days of hiking.  


Headed out to Utah and want even more tips then I put in this blog post? Hit me up! I love nothing more than traveling...and talking about I'm more than happy to chat 😀

On St. Patrick’s Day, A Toast to My Grandfather, “The Wild Irishman”

I posted this article a few years ago on my old blog, 12 Months of Lent, but I thought I'd re-post it here on St. Patrick’s Day in honor of my Irish grandfather, Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell. A World War II hero who fought in the infamous Battle of the Bulge, liberated 2 concentration camps, and was awarded 2 Purple Hearts, Frank, also known as “The Wild Irishman”, amassed quite the reputation while he was off fighting abroad. So much so that the Boston Traveler (what is now the Boston Herald), sent famed war correspondent Andrew Tully to Europe just to track him down for an interview, which is transcribed below.

Frank's famous quote from the article: “There are two kinds of people in the world—the Irish and those who wish to hell they were Irish”.

Happy St. Patrick's Day 🍀 


Tully Meets Wild Irishman From Brockton
By Andrew Tully, Boston Traveler Staff Correspondent

A RIFLE OUTPOST ON THE EDGE OF NO MAN’S LAND, Feb. 12—I don’t know what the hell a timid civilian like me is doing here!

With a wild Irishman from Brockton named O’Connell and a couple of other infantrymen, I am in an attic room of a partially demolished house in Saarlautern, Germany, looking through a shell hole in the wall at the German lines, only 800 yards away. I don’t like it.

Outside is a partially flooded meadow as flat and unprotected as the top of a kitchen table. At the far edge of the meadow is the Saar River, which at this point is a little more than an oversized brook. And fronting on the far bank of the pipsqueak of a river is the part of the city of Saarlautern still held by the Germans.

We can see an occasional Jerry puttering about on some military odd job across that wide open space. Staff Sergeant Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell of 124 Lawrence Street, Brockton, just told me: “Don’t think he can’t see you”. Good old Francis Stevens Joseph.

The staccato rattle of machine-gun fire can be heard plainly off to our left, where some of our men are harassing a couple of Kraut outposts. Occasionally, the Jerries return the fire from their Siegfried line forts which line the far bank of the river, and almost all afternoon enemy artillery has been drooping shells in and around our positions on this west bank. The noise is not deafening, but there are a few moments when there is not a shell exploding somewhere.

Tall Chimney
The view across the field is one of an assortment of dwellings and manufacturing buildings clustered at the foot of the high ridge. Standing out in the cluster is a tall powerhouse chimney and on guard before and between the buildings are the ponderous forts of the Siegfried line. Our 105 howitzers have been banging away and now you can’t see the puffs of dirty gray smoke practically within spitting distance where the shells have scored hits on the Jerry real estate. Two more shells bounce off the ridge behind the town and we fancy we can hear the thud of the shells falling.

We are, of course, well within both rifle and machine gun range and Lt. Phil Stanchfield of Milo, ME., cautions us to stay away from the windows on the left. “Look out the shell hole,” he counsels, “Jerry hasn’t put a bullet through that place yet.”

O’Connell is studying the tall chimney with a look of dissatisfaction. “You can’t tell me there ain’t something in that chimney,” he says. “Betcha they got an observation post there where they can see as far as Paris.” His pals are in sober agreement. “I should like to see a beautiful 105 cut that chimney in half, right in half,” says Staunchfield as he licks his chops in contemplating such a beautiful thing.

“What he needs is an all-Irish gun crew to do that job,” says O’Connell. “Now take my squad—”

Colorful Character
I’ll take O’Connell’s squad any day. Every outfit has its colorful character and in this one, O’Connell just about fills the bill. The Brockton boy is leader of a squad of 12 men, all of them of Irish descent. Since the outfit went into the line last October this squad has killed an estimated 300 Germans! All of them—Rourke and O’Ryan and Duffy and Reynolds—are top fighting men. But O’Connell has that wonderful intangible thing called color, which made Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean and Shipwreck Kelly stand out in the sports picture.

Sgt. O’Connell was a molder of iron, steel, brass and copper back in civilian life. He carries a genuine shamrock and he says, “There are two kinds of people in the world—the Irish and those who wish to hell they were Irish”.

Short But Sweet
You can’t pin the Brockton boy down on how many Jerries he’s killed but his pals say “about 40”. Lt. Stanchfield, who does not go out on limbs, says that figure is not extravagant. Then he tells us about the time recently when O’Connell and his crew were out looking for trouble and picked up a couple of stray Germans. “They told the boys they’d just come from around the bend,” Staunchfield recalls, “So, O’Connell says ‘to hell with going to bed,’ and the Irish headed around the bend”.

Around the bend they found two tanks and perhaps 20 infantrymen. A few bazooka shots sent the tanks speeding into retreat but the infantrymen elected to fight. The Irish obliged. When it was over, there were 16 dead Krauts on the white snow and the other four men had fled.

The Irish squad takes all this excitement calmly. Being men of simple tastes who want of the world only a little bodily comfort. When Stanchfield ushered me into O’Connell’s grinning presence today the Brockton bushwhacker was lying on one of two beds in one of the houses four bedrooms, his stockinged feet resting on a cerise quilt and a radio giving forth swing on the bedside table. He’s a solidly built citizen with short but not clipped brown hair and seems perpetually abashed.

A Little Mistake
The rest of the squad was having around smoking and talking with the exception of one man, who was upstairs keeping watch. “We don’t work too hard,” O’Connell told me. “Makes you old before your time”. Frankly, the thing I’m interested in today more than Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell is GROWING OLD. Back at the company command post, Stanchfield has offered to have O’Connell brought to me there but I said I’d go to him. Everybody makes mistakes, I suppose. Anyway, the brief trip to O’Connell’s bailiwick had me on the ropes.

You can’t go to this output in a jeep because you draw fire. So, we had to walk and as we started out, one of the boys in the CP gave me an owlish look and told me “Hope to see you again.” You know that tone of voice.

We had to walk only a few blocks but the last part of it brought us onto a street within plain view of Jerry across the river. We had to hug the buildings all the way down the street for a distance of perhaps two blocks to get to the outpost. I could see some Germans across that field on the other side of the river and if they can’t see me, Hitler is fighting this war with a fine bunch of myopic militarists. I scuttled along that sidewalk with my ribs scraping against solid brick and thought to myself, “When you are going to get that job selling vacuum cleaners?”

But you don’t get to meet guys like Francis Stevens Joseph O’Connell selling vacuum cleaners.


The Late-Winter Blues

If I'm being honest, as of today, March 3rd, 2018, I am currently at the end of my winter rope. The late-winter funk is in FULL effect, and dear God, the first signs of spring cannot come soon enough. I think there's a tulip coming up in my yard under the half foot of sloppy snow we got on the first of the month...maybe? 🌷

In like a lion, out like a lamb, in like a lion, out like a lamb...

This winter has been decent, tolerable weather, a trip to the PNW, 17 days of Olympics to keep me entertained, but man, by the time March finally made its debut the other day, I felt done. So done. All of my coping mechanisms have long gone out the window, I may or may not have Googled symptoms of SAD, and basically, I am just insufferably cranky. To everyone in my life: I'm sorry. Winter Danne is kind of a B.  

But, this is how it goes every year when you live in the northernmost states. I always think that maybe if I self-care to the max that I'll make it through unscathed, but I don't. I never do. Eventually, winter takes its toll, and in the latter half of it, you just sort of check out, resolving to check back in when it's time for light jackets and open-toed shoes.

The good news? It's almost that time! As awful of a month as March is, the saving grace is that it's when the light at the end of the tunnel becomes visible. It's when you get that glimmer of hope that you've been waiting for, and when you know that the end is finally near. Can you tell that summer is my favorite season? 😉

Just to remind myself that winter wasn't all that bad this year though:

Things That Didn't Suck About Winter:

  1. I nailed my annoying to-do list full of "Those things I've been putting off forever".
  2. I finished the 7 unfinished books I had started.
  3. I blew through a bunch of Podcast series, including A Killing on the Cape, Dirty John, and Heaven's Gate (in addition to my regularly scheduled programming). 
  4. I snuck in a trip to Portland, OR visit my brother and good friend Jess.
  5. I finally gave my website and blog (Dan made me a logo, did you see? Isn't it beautiful?) the refresh that it needed.

Things I'm looking Forward to in March:

  1. Our first wedding anniversary (March 11th to be exact)! I think I've mentioned it before, but I intentionally wanted to get married in March because it's my least favorite month of the year. I figured it would always give me something to look forward to—and let's be real, an excuse to take a trip. 
  2. That being said...we're going to Utah next week to celebrate. Having this trip to look forward to is saving my life right now. Salt Lake City, 3 National Parks, and glamping in Moab. I cannot wait. 
  3. The actual first day of spring is March 20th which is less than 3 weeks away—it's really happening!
  4. Daylight savings time is also this month (on our anniversary actually) which means a whole extra hour of daylight is coming our way. YES. 
  5. The online book club that I'm a part of is reading an illustrated book of poetry, The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur and I'm really excited to dive in, it looks absolutely beautiful. 

Happy Almost Spring! 

p.s. I thought this list of the months ranked from worst to best was funny (and mostly accurate, although July, August, and September are my top 3, sorry October). 

A Love Letter to the Olympics

In February of 1994, I was a 10-year-old little girl about to discover something that would mesmerize me for the rest of my life: the Olympics.

That year, the Winter Olympics were in Lillehammer, Norway, and as a kid watching them for the first time, I was instantly obsessed. Quickly I became familiar with a whole host of sports I had never seen before, learned the names of athletes who became my new heroes, and was fascinated being exposed to so many different cultures for the first time. I specifically remember spending hours working on a drawing of the Olympic rings surrounded by all of the star athlete's names from that year. You know the ones: Nancy Kerrigan & Tonya Harding (p.s. go see I, Tonya if you haven't yet, it's amazing), Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov (my heart!), Oksana Baiul, Bonnie Blair, Dan Jansen, Picabo Street—all the legends. 


While the '94 Olympics were particularly magical for me, I'm honestly still just as enamored. Since the games kicked off in Pyeongchang two weeks ago, I have tuned in every single night (ok fine, except for one) from 8pm–midnight. Like the rest of the world, I loved seeing North and South Korea march in together during the opening ceremony—and of course, I was happy to see Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless flag bearer from Tonga back again. I watched the Shib Sibs nail their twizzles, was absolutely moved by Virtue and Moir's passionate gold medal ice dancing performance, had tears in my eyes during the feature NBC did with Lindsey Vonn and her late grandfather, loved seeing Shaun White make his emotional comeback, and was glued to the screen during the Russian showdown that was women's figure skating. 

But aside from the actual games themselves, what I love the most about the Olympics is seeing the world come together for something positive—if only for a few short weeks. It's a little mind-blowing to me when I talk to someone who says they aren't really "into" the Olympics. From what I can tell, it seems to be the only time that the entire world unites, coming together to celebrate the best of humanity rather than magnifying the worst of it. People from all walks of life, from different countries and cultures, all put their differences aside and share in one beautiful and triumphant experience. How can you not be "into" that?

So, Dear Olympics, I love you. Thank you for giving us all a much needed break from the regularly scheduled stream of disheartening news that we're constantly bombarded with. I can always count on you to restore my faith in humanity, and to remind me that hope is not lost, and that the beauty of the human spirit is still as strong and vibrant as ever. 

🌎 🏅 ✌️ ❄️

p.s. I have a funny tradition of intentionally not tuning into the closing ceremony because I don't want to accept that the Olympics are actually over, but I might have to break my vow tonight. I need one more night!

p.p.s. And although China isn't on top of my travel list, it's always been a dream of mine to go to the Olympics (specifically the winter games), so I'm feeling like Beijing 2022 might be in the cards for me. Who's in?


Recently From My Camera

Winter is always the time of year when I end up taking the least photographs (my Instagram feed is proof of this), but I carry the camera around with me anyways, knowing that something will pop up that's worth capturing.

After my Oregon trip a few weeks ago I was scrolling through all the photos in the camera and found these few pictures that I took while home on Cape Cod over Christmas that I had completely forgotten about. I love the Cape in the wintertime and the little still lifes that I find in my parents house. ✨

2018 Goal = Take More Photos