Saturday, January 28, 2017

Silent No More



I was born to a middle class family in Ecuador, I chose to come to this country and I chose to stay in this country. I was afforded the luxury of lawyers, money, time, and patience that it takes to be a legal immigrant in this country. Yes, I am an immigrant by choice, and I have legally resided in this country for the last fifteen years. 

I chose Alaska as my home because I fell in love with its people, their warmth, their diversity, their love for nature, their innate adventurous, go getter spirits. Alaskans welcomed me, a South American foreigner, with open arms, and I have tried to give back to this community as much as it has given me. 

I used to work for the Office of Student Affairs as an undergrad at UAA. During Orientation we would tell the students how much pride we took in them, in their diversity. We told them that no matter where they came from, a village in Alaska, Germany, or Minnesota, they were welcomed and their culture was celebrated. Lately I long for those days, I am not trying to compare the world to the microcosm of a university, but today I find it hard to look at this community, this country, like the one I fell in love with.

Today after a week of insane executive orders, President Trump decided to ban people from seven countries from entering the United States, including refugees. His executive order to close America's borders caused chaos in major airports where travelers from these countries were stopped from boarding flights; students, workers, green card holders barred from entering the U.S.

A week ago my family and I came back from vacationing in Ecuador and today I wondered what would have happened if when we landed in Houston, immigration had detained me, a green card holder, because one man thought I was born in the wrong country, under the wrong religion. Would I have told my American husband to go ahead with our American toddler and leave me behind? Would I have called my employer of 6 years and told him that I didn't know what my fate was going to be, so I would not be at work on Tuesday as I said I would? Would I have cried in desperation and outrage not knowing if I would make it back to my home?

I am not a refugee. I do not know what it's like to leave my home, family, and possessions behind because of the atrocities of war. No one has ever persecuted me because of my religion or the country I was born in, but now I live in fear of being added to one of the President's lists, because if you haven't paid attention, today even people with the legal paperwork were put through hell.

 I have lived a good, small, ordinary, unremarkable life and that sometimes makes me feel powerless, like I cannot possibly do anything to stop this madness. But I have this platform, I have this voice, and by golly I will use it in hopes that people will stop looking at this like paperwork and start putting a face, mine if you want, when you think of an immigrant. After all, it was Martin Luther King Jr. who said "in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." 

I will be silent no more.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

A lesson learned on the back of a mule

 

Quilotoa is a water-filled caldera byproduct of a volcanic eruption 800 years ago in Zumbahua, Ecuador. It really is a sight to see from the very top, and to my delight I found that there is a well traveled very steep, dirt path that takes you to the bottom.

 

Being the seasoned hikers that we are, we ventured all the way down, my parents in tow. 

 

Here you can see a bit of the winding path that takes about 30 - 45 minutes to hike down, and 1-2 hours to hike up the 920ish feet vertical ascent, depending on your agility.

 

 

When we made it all the way down we explored the surroundings, Benjamin played in the water, and we even got to kayak in the lake for a while.

 

 

 

 

When it was time to climb up, Tim, Ben, and my dad took off while I stayed behind with my mom, taking it slow due to her blood pressure issues. We were doing well but around half way up her heart was getting worked up so I stopped a couple mules to take us the rest of the way.

Mules are a hybrid animal, the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. They are incredibly valuable animals that are stronger than a horse and smarter than donkeys. They are so cool that Charles Darwin said of them: "The mule appears to me a most surprising animal. That a hybrid should posses more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance, and length of life than either of its parents, seems to indicate that art has outdone nature."

 

Both, my mom and I, jumped each on a mule, and followed by their owner we headed uphill. I was a little bit uneasy bordering on nervous because the owner of the mules let go of their reins, and you probably had to be there to understand my discomfort, but that path was narrow, steep, and those mules walked dangerously close to the edge of the abyss. So close that I hinted the owner to please take their reins, but my request was met with a matter of fact: "No need. They know the way."

 

It was on that very edge, at that sign that so cleverly said follow the path, that God met me and told me to REST. 

If you read my previous post then you know that I left on vacation at odds with God after going through a ridiculously hard year. It was on the back of that mule, when I was thinking that the only reason I was on it was because I didn't want to leave my mom alone, telling myself that I could make it back up the hill on my own two legs and not risk death by mule, that I heard Him say: "I know you can but I would like you to rest on me, let me carry you the rest of the way for I know you are tired. Trust me and enjoy the view from the edge, because this is where we will do our best work.

Let me be clear, I am not comparing God to a mule, but it was on the back of that beautiful equine that I understood what He meant when He told me to rest - in Him, with Him, letting Him, trusting Him.

So here's to 2017, living life faithfully on the edge.

 

"Could it be true that you can be more of who you were meant to be without having to DO more? It doesn't seem mathematically possible when we give the numbers in and out the final say. But this time, we are going to let God have His way, and His way is the humble and little way." - Revelation Wellness

Thursday, January 5, 2017

One word for one year: Rest


When Tim and I got married 5 years ago, we honeymooned in the Galapagos Islands, when we returned to Quito the touring agency gave us a night in a midcentury modern, chic hotel as a wedding gift. Ever since then, we return to this hotel every time we visit, and this time is no exception.

The hotel, nestled in the modern part of town, is part of a sea of brick and steel high rises that normally give me claustrophobia, but sitting by the giant windows, watching ant-like people walk the streets, listening to the afternoon rain fall on the pavement, actually brings me peace.

When we left Anchorage last year (oh hi 2017!) we were weary, tired from a year that took a lot from us. Out of everyone I know, only one person told me that 2016 was a good year, so forgive me if you find this cliché, but 2016 sucked hard.

If you have been reading this blog a while, you know I don't do new year's resolutions. I usually have a word for the year as a guide for what is to come. 2016's word, Selah, turned out to be transforming in many good ways, and a lot of fruit came from it. Remaining in the promises and the love of our father has proven worth the effort, but I am exhausted. Early last December I was on my knees telling God just that, when the word for 2017 came. 

He said: Then REST. Then I laughed at God because is he kidding me? I have jobs, a toddler, a husband, a house to maintain, responsibilities for heaven's sake, and he tells me to rest?
Yes. Loud and clear. So I got mad and went all literal on God, packed my bags and went on vacation, and guess what? That is not what he meant. But He is faithful, and even when I hide in jungles He finds me and tells me that what he really means is that He knows that it it's been hard, but he is proud of me for abiding in Him, and He knows that I am weary, but He is here to carry the burdens and give me rest because we still have work to do and I must learn to rest so I don't quit.

So I'm unpacking and I giving him the things that I cannot carry: the worries that consume me, the relationships that must end, the future that isn't mine, and as I let go He gives, as I finally sit on His lap and let Him hold me, I find rest.
 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28.

Monday, December 19, 2016

For Edible Alaska: Three Easy Holiday Outfits


I look forward to many things during the holidays. Caroling, spiked eggnog, candles that smell like pine, sugar cookies, and of course, a good Christmas party. It has come to my attention that not everyone feels like I do because they feel stumped as to how to dress. Here are three fool-proof party looks that you can put together with things you might already own.

Find three easy outfits in the most recent issue of {{Edible Alaska}}.



Sunday, December 18, 2016

Birds of a feather

 

I walked into Second Run to drop off  a few clothes when I spotted this beauty. J Crew Collection dress, playful feathers and sequins, and the best part, in my size. 

Now get this. The dress was originally $1,500 and I kid you not, Second Run had it marked at $140, but I had some credit so I paid less than $100. Can I get a high-five?

I paired that bad boy with a velvety pair of Sam Edelmans, a fur coat, some Shirley Temple curls, and boom, Christmas party outfit done!

 

If you ask me, the best part of the whole night was dancing to bluegrass at the Sitzmark. My love for the banjo runs deep. 

 

So how about you take the high road. I'll take the high heels. Hashtag after party. 
Wink. 

 
dress: J Crew, shoes: Sam Edelman in sangria velvet, fur coat: old

Friday, December 16, 2016

Before and After: I dream of teal




This project is very dear to me, not just because this house has been in my client's family for generations, but because it is one of those homes that gives Anchorage character, and it was important to me to maintain that character while providing a fresh approach, a comfortable living space, and a beautiful design. 

 
From the before picture you can see that the space was divided into two rooms connected by a pass through that we made into one room. This allowed us to relocate the appliances to give the kitchen a spacious working triangle. 

 
Since we kept the wall cabinetry minimal, it was important to capture every inch of space for the base cabinetry, pantry, and appliance garage. 
The windows have a wood frame stained the same color as the rest of the wood paneling in the home, and the window sills and countertop are made of quartz. 

 
We worked with three colors: white, gray, and teal (the client's favorite). The floors are natural oak to match the rest of the house. 

 
So much sparkle!

 
We are move in ready, just in time to celebrate the new year!

Design and materials: {{K&W Interiors}}
Installation: Allright Remodel
All after pictures by {{DMD Real Estate Photography}}

P.S. A big note of thanks to: Dave Davis, Metro Home, Dallas Wildeve, your flowers are incredible! and Michael Kessler, working with you was my pleasure. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dear winter - A tale of love and forgiveness



Dear winter,

We need to apologize, we took you for granted, and the last few years with a half-assed you have sucked. We reeeeeaaaally miss those years when you used to dump 3 feet of snow overnight. I mean, it was not so fun to drive in, but we loved playing in it! Those were the good ol' days.


This year all Tim wanted for his birthday was to see you again, so we had to drive out of town to find you. Look at that smile of contentment on his birthday face once we finally stood on your beautiful whiteness. 


I had a kid since the last time I saw you and I've been telling him about you and how fun you are. He only started to believe me once we dressed him up in a snow suit to hike to our yurt.


I'd really like for Ben to get to know you. He and his buddy Corden LOVED sledding. We cannot possibly sled without you, and what kind of childhood would that be?
Think about it.






Even I went sledding! And you know that I am one hundred percent against it since breaking my tailbone that one time we won't speak of. But I sled anyway, because I miss you.








Look at these faces, winter! See how happy you make us?

(picture credit: Leslie Stickland)
The warmth of a cabin is only good when you're around.









This is me toasting to you, and the truckloads of snow we found, wishing really hard that you consider coming back for good.


Please winter, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!



(picture credit: Leslie Stickland)
We get it, we have been jerks with all our contamination and our trashy behavior and you got tired of it, and you are right, you deserve better. But if we pinky promise to do well and make amends where we can, will you consider coming back?
We will not take you for granted again.


Love,
The Conrads.


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