Bless my mom forever for organizing a little sisters trip in the middle of February to Arizona. This is exactly what my cold caged up soul needed. Since Hazel does online school, and since she hadn’t seen her cousin Claire forever I decided to take her along with me. We had quite a time, though today, facing all this grimy snow seems like a little slap in the face. Spring will come, right?
Hazel was pretty darn excited about getting away. We debated on the plane whether we were more excited about being together, seeing our long lost sisters and cousins, or trading snow for sunshine. It was a pretty close race, but I think the sunshine won by a hair.
It was really pretty glorious to feel heat from the sky again. This winter in Boston makes you question whether the sun really does generate anything besides cold bright blinding light. I was starting to feel pretty stuck in a winter funk, so this really was what my soul needed.
But seeing my sisters and mother might have done even more good for my winter funk. They are just full of light and knowledge and wisdom and we could talk for eternity without running out of stimulating conversation. I recognize that loving your sister-friends so intensely is not always the case. I feel so lucky that I was born into the same family as some of my dearest most inspirational friends. Before everyone arrived Shawni and I had almost a whole day with our two girls. Shawni took Claire out of school to come and pick us up and we went to lunch and hung out by the pool at the hotel my mom got for my sisters and I to stay in that night. The girls played and swam while Shawni and I talked and then (being the oh so cool mothers that we are) we all got in the pool and made up a synchronized swimming routine together. I think Claire and Hazel were delighted that we actually got our hair wet (I remember always being so excited when my mom got her hair wet in the pool). It was so good to see Hazel so happy with Claire. She’s been needing to connect after so many hours at home doing school online. And Claire is the sweetest cousin you could ask for. She took great care of Hazel while I got to go off with my sisters and mom. I love cousin connections. They are so important to our family since we’re so far away from family out here in Boston.
And of course it was heaven to finally unite with these ladies. We grabbed some take out and ate it at the hotel that night while we caught up on each others lives and talked about all the deep things caged up in our minds. The next morning we went on a walk around the golf course (boy was I hot in all that navy). And then we had a delicious breakfast buffet. We get almost as excited about food as we do about sun and beauty and being together. (Don’t you love Shawni’s plate of doughnuts? I love that girl.) We spent the bulk of the day sitting by the pool and walking or swimming against the current on the lazy river. The whole time we were going against the flow we were trying to analyze why it is we are always going against the current. What part of our upbringing made us all want to take on so much all the time. We talked about how we all want to learn how to be more present, how to enjoy the moment a little more, how to build more margins and slack into our lives. It’s like a group therapy session when we’re together. So great to talk through your issues with people with the same upbringing and genes. After we got kicked out of our hotel we went on the most gorgeous hike/walk. Through acres and acres of cactus and sage greenery. It was a feast for my eyes to see green. This may be the only time of year where Arizona looks brilliantly green to a Bostonian. We couldn’t stop taking pictures, the light was so perfectly slanted. God’s art so meticulous and breathtaking. Eyre sisters together get drunk with all that beauty. I love being with people who let nature sink down into their souls and walk around incredulous at the astounding beauty around them. I think my sisters feel beauty the same way I do, and it’s so fun to drink it in together. On Sunday we got to go to church with the Pothiers. Wow, is that a different world! They had a recently returned missionary speak and announced that he was one of 6 missionaries who have returned to their ward since January. I think we’ve had 2 missionaries leave and come home in the history of our ward, ever. Their ward was bursting with families all sort of in the same stage as Shawni. I love where we are in Boston, but sometimes long for that kind of experience.
After church we had a little FHE with the Pothiers and then we cooked up a storm. I love cooking with my sisters, and I loved working in that gorgeous kitchen. All that space! My cooking style didn’t seem as much like an explosion as it does in my little kitchen.
On Sunday night we sat by Shawni’s outdoor fire and discussed this talk about Grace by Sheri Dew. It was such a fantastic discussion. I’d like to write more about it on here sometime. My mom gave us all a copy of this print from the MOA at BYU. It was painted by Frans Schwartz, a contemporary of Carl Bloch. Isn’t it beautiful? I love it, and I love the feelings from that discussion that it brings back. On Monday we got to go with Shawni to her work out class. I am still sore, three days later. Wow, that’s good hard stuff. It was fun to see a little bit into her life. We also got to go and see my brother Josh in action in his school. He is such a great teacher. We asked those kids about him and they unanimously responded that he is the best teacher in the universe. They said he has a good heart and makes learning fun. Wish my kids could be in his class. After sending Saren and Charity and my mom off to their homes Hazel and I got to stay an extra day in that sunny wonderland. We had a great dinner on Monday night, a trip to Yogurtland for FHE and a great discussion with Dave. Those guys are just good people. I loved being there with them, feeling the feeling in their home, observing their life for a bit. I wish I lived closer, I would glean so much from watching them in action daily.
On Tuesday morning Shawni and I climbed Camelback mountain (well almost climbed it). It was cool and sunny and beautiful. We could see the top, were about 10 min away from the summit when we decided we really should be responsible and get back so that we could have lunch with Claire at school. Even though we didn’t make it to to the top, the views we got were pretty incredible and the feeling of climbing so high above life lead us to some great discussions. I love that about hiking. We got to bring this Claire girl some In n Out burgers and eat lunch in her cafeteria. It was great to see what her school was like and meet some of her friends. Hazel was a bit nervous about the whole thing, but she ended up feeling comfortable enough to tell Claire’s whole class about all the snow we have in Boston. These girls are the best. It was hard to say goodbye to all that light. Sunshine and warmth from the sky as well as from those brilliant women. Made us wish we could live in Arizona….but maybe just for the winter.
I want to remember all that wisdom we uncovered together as we talked about our lives, our struggles, our joys. Here are a few things we discussed:
- Life needs to be lived in the present. We are all trying this year to figure out how to enjoy life a little more. How to slow down and live a little more in the moment. Here are some ideas we brainstormed on how to do that:
- stop in the moment – figure out how to take yourself out of the picture in order to recognize how beautiful it is. See the moment from the outside in. It’s so much more beautiful with a little distance.
- Figure out ways to compartmentalize life. Focus on just one thing a few times during the day. Stop multitasking ALL THE TIME.
- gratitude. write about things you’re grateful for….keep a gratitude journal…..stop to point out the beauty of the moment
- we all find ourselves a little more present if we stop to take a picture…either with a real camera or with our hearts. seeing your life in a picture makes you see how beautiful it is, even the hard parts.
- turn off technology. leave your phone in one place. don’t invite it to dinner. turn it off.
-watch your kids sleeping at night. Another way to get above it all land recognize the real stuff in life.
- live in anticipation of the memory (need to write a whole post on this, i think I already have….great advice from my sister in law). When things feel grimy and gritty and not so fun, recognize that it will be a beautiful (or at least meaningful) memory one day.
- We talked a lot about our worries and joys. It’s always so great to process these things with wise and loving people who know you and are invested in your happiness.
- Parenting. I was able to run all my parenting worries by these wise souls. I love having sisters further down the road from me to help me know what’s passing, what I should and shouldn’t worry about. To give me ideas and inspiration from the trenches. They had such great advice. I especially love my mom’s perspective on mothering. She is always reminding me that the most important things to remember when parenting are giving ownership and responsibility and loving those little people to death.
- I got some great movie and book suggestions….I love knowing what my sisters are into and love.
- We discussed marriage and relationships and the importance of really trying to understand where our spouses are coming from, to really empathize even if their experience is vastly different than ours. It’s so fun to talk about this since I think all of our spouses are trying to make sense of a lot of the same issues that we sisters all have in common, namely, high expectations. I think all of our husbands are getting pretty good at ratcheting those down. Jeff is forever telling me the key to happiness is low expectations. It’s nice to commiserate with these girls and try to figure out what role high expectations play and when it’s better to lower them.
Ok, I've got to go. Maybe more about all we talked about later. I want to remember it all so much.
Coming back to Boston has felt a little like a slap in the face. Everything looks so bleak and messy here after all that sunshine and order in Arizona. But I’m also feeling renewed….inspired by all the ideas swirling in my head. Committed to enjoying this life, even with all the snow banks. And so grateful for a life full of sister-friends and a mom who has always cultivated our relationships and shown us the mark a strong woman can make on the world.