Friday, December 28, 2012

Summer lovin'

I've been a little under the weather while here in Utah so I've spent a fair amount of time watching movies and catching up on the internet.

And also creeping through my sister's photos from our Paris trip. It's blowing my brain a little bit that it was a year ago she and I were discussing whether or not we were really going to do it. It was such a beautiful trip but I've already determined I need to go again with better hair and cuter clothes. But I'll definitely take a tall dark and handsome boy again-makes the photos way more fun ; )

Anyway I found a couple of fun ones I hadn't seen. Got me daydreaming about what 2013 might bring…

Our guide made us do this at Versaille. I'm pretty glad we obeyed. 

Between this trip and our winter travels, Lance I actually spent a fair amount of time like this. 

I just love everything about this one. That neighborhood was magic, it's Amelie's restaurant, we look kind of awesome. Just love it. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Face it

This is pretty much all I am doing this week

Getting to see all these faces in the space of two weeks is really too much. (If you think the pressure is on to have cute kids, it's true. LOOK AT THESE GUYS!)

Good grief.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Auntie Em

A few months ago my brother called to ask if I would come up to Seattle to take care of my 11 month old nephew while he and my sister-in-law took their three year old to Canada to learn to ski. I jumped at the chance to get some concentrated Aunt time with Brady and thank you insane year of travel, I booked a ticket with my miles and took a few days off work.

It was only once I was actually airborne that I started thinking about how long it had been since I had been alone with a tiny human for longer than a few hours. At least ten years. I made a list in my head of things I didn't know-what do kids that age eat? How many naps do they take? Are they supposed to sleep through the night? Do you put them to sleep on their backs with a bottle? Or their tummies with a blankie?

These are question that most women my age can answer. Questions all the girls I used to babysit can answer.

I have gotten to a be a really, really good Aunt since Morgan appeared on the scene. I keep the boys in ridiculous tiny Nikes they will outgrow almost instantly, I chase them around the house and follow them up trees and put them on my shoulders and make silly faces, I take them to run an errand and let them eat an entire unauthorized cinnamon roll. I like to read bedtime stories and I can do all the voices, I make a lot of silly faces and I let them win at foot races. I tickle them but I stop before it's not fun anymore. I respect their space if they prefer it. I know you can't go wrong with Lightening McQueen. I'm good at whispering and telling jokes. I'm a pretty killer non-parent.

So as I'm watching the morning routine of "Garrett eat three more bites" and "please put those away" and the production it is for even my very skilled brother and sister-in-law to get two adults and a three year old out the door I was nervous.

I didn't take a shower. I didn't actually manage to ever put a bra on either but my friend Melissa was coming by with her 6 week old so I made Brady a deal that if he would play while I put on make-up I wouldn't even worry about still being in my pajamas. Melissa came. She looks fabulous. Like the same tiny waist she had when I met her in a Boston church lobby eight years ago. She has two kids and she manages Communications for a University but here she is all long glamorous hair and cute shoes six weeks after giving birth. We talk and giggle and gossip and when I put Brady down for a nap and he cries, she teaches me how to tell from his tone if he's tired crying or really sad crying. Once we determine it's the sad crying I bring him back downstairs and for once in my life I visit with another adult woman while trying to keep an unsteady baby out of trouble. I like the way it feels that I can manage to do both.

Melissa leaves to pick up her other little guy from school and Brady and I decide to brave the rain and go for a walk. I put a big coat over my pajamas and after what feels like a hundred years we have a stroller and socks and shoes and hats and we set off. They live close to a street full of shops and restaurants so we buy a present for Brady's soon-to-be girl cousin in Salt Lake. I take him to the famous music store where Pearl Jam has played. He is a good and patient baby while I check a few things out on the listening station that makes me wish there were more music stores and listening stations even though I know my own addictions to Shazam and mobile iTunes are the very reasons there are fewer music stores with listening stations.

We find a deli that can accommodate Brady's stroller. He drinks a bottle while I wait for my sandwich. I accidentally give him a chip that is lightly salted with jalepeno flavoring and feel grateful that no one can see the horrible face he makes before he spits it out. Rookie mistake. These are the kinds of mistakes I imagine new moms make and feel guilty about and veteran moms make and laugh about.

We go home and he is tired enough there is no crying when I put him to bed. I clean the house, finally take a shower and go to bed with a book and I'm passed out by 10:30. He needs a bottle at 3 and as I hold him in the dark house with my eyes drooping, calculating how much sleep I can get before he's wide awake for the day I think, I can't imagine doing this alone. How much better this probably is if there is someone you can nudge and tell "this one is yours". In the daylight you might have teachers and sitters and friends and people who can help but in the dark and quiet it's just you to figure out why he's crying and if you are doing this right and I bet those nights are just as scary as the ones where you stare at the ceiling and wonder if anyone will ever stare at that ceiling with you.

The next day my friend Jen is coming over. She has a four year old and a law practice but he is with his dad this weekend and so she's kidnapping us to go to a museum. Because Brady is 11 months so he can  look at art just as easily as he can not watch television. She breezes in and helps me deal with car seats and diaper bags and makes sure I don't forget to put his coat back on when we leave. We look at art. We catch up. We brave a pub across the street. When we walk in and I smile at a group of young men and I realize that the young men don't smile back at the lady with a baby the way I am used to young men smiling at me. I think about my St. George sister-in-law and the haircut she wanted to get when her third baby came and her stylist said, "there are plenty of things to make you feel like a mom, keep your glamorous hair so you can still feel like a woman." And she did and she's a mom, and you don't want young men to smile at you when you are a mom like they did when you were single but I think maybe you still want them to want to.

I go home feeling terribly satisfied with our adventures. I have good intentions to get us back out the door for dinner but then The Proposal is on so I order Thai food and I sit with a baby on my lap and it's far less stressful than trying to figure out how to have SO MUCH FUN every single Saturday night. Brady sleeps well. We both do.

We have a lazy Sunday and then his parents come home and he's forgotten all about me. My brother makes the spaghetti that has been our favorite since we were kids. We read Garrett books that used to be ours and then everyone is tired.

I leave the next day and when I land in Denver, I am met with that quiet I never really know what to do with. It was 1:30 in the afternoon on a Monday and I had nowhere to be so I rode on the moving sidewalk from one end of the terminal to the other and thought about quiet.

In a lot of ways these two days were like my summer. I was tired and not entirely sure if I was doing things right and I have this suspicion that parenting is like managing and event where 100 people would like to tell you how much better it would be if you did it THIS way and hardly anyone says thank you but then the kid stops crying when you walk into his room because he knows you are going to take care of whatever it is that made him cry and when he reaches up his little arms for you to pick him up it's fine that you have to clean up so much poop and you can't really go to shows on weeknights anymore and it takes so damn long to get out the door because that kid needs so much stuff. My friend's "16 hours of hell for one hour of glory" description of the Olympics felt apt.

And this is not a new concept and I am not the first one to come up with it but this weekend left me even more convinced that it's so important to be engaged in what your life is right now. Mourning the past or stressing about the future or being upset about the place you are in-it ruins everything. Where my life is right now, where I work long hours and take fun trips and sometimes skip church to go skiing-this is the life I'll be awfully glad I had if (when?) I'm feeding a baby at 3 in the morning. I don't want my friends in mommyland to wish they had my life and I don't want to feel like I'm supposed to wish I had theirs.

As usual, I'm going to cruise into Christmas vacation entirely on fumes. It's my yearly measure that I'm doing life right.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Christmas 2003. My dear dear friend Keith, who I had been spending nearly all my time with that year, and I drove from California to Utah together for the holidays. I had just met a guy a few weeks earlier that I was very excited about and I was going to be moving to Boston pretty much the instant I got back from the break. Needless to say, it was an emotional season.

Keith was the first person I knew with an iPod and we figured out how to make it work in my car. We set off super early in the morning and had about 10 hours of talking and laughing with someone who at the time probably knew me better than anyone else on earth. Keith was the boy who taught me that we probably have dozens of soulmates and that they aren't always romantic.

We listened to Death Cab for Cutie on the 405 and a fantastic This American Life segment on fiascos in the Gorge between Las Vegas and St. George. We took turns driving. At one point Keith fell asleep and I took goofy photos of him WITH MY FILM CAMERA. I still have one of those prints in a box somewhere and the sight his mop of red hair splayed out all over the pillow in the front seat always tugs at my heart just a little bit.

Keith used to make Christmas mixes and because of that iPod, we had tons of holiday tunes to keep us company as well. One of them was a song called "Just Like Christmas" by the band Low. It became one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. It's fun and upbeat and what could possible sound better than Christmas in Sweden?

So this February I was doing my hair in a hotel room in Amsterdam while Dr. Lance was out getting breakfast and a rogue holiday song started playing on my iPhone. I don't know who gave me a David Bazan cover of "Just Like Christmas" but instead of skipping it I let it go and pretty soon I was not really doing my hair anymore but trying to control my tears.

I got a chance to see David Bazan play a living room show earlier this year thanks to my pal Heather. Afterwards I went up and told him how much I loved his cover of this song. He got all excited and told me he had recorded that for an AV Club Undercover  special edition of Holiday songs and what a fun experience it has been. I am a huge fan of the Undercover series, Christmas music, nice musicians and extra nice memories so I'm certain this version of that song will be on every holiday playlist I make for the rest of forever.

So in the spirit of the time of year I love the very most-Here are just a couple more of my favorites.

Seryn-Go Tell it on the Mountain

I fell in love with Seryn in a tiny club in Colorado Springs last summer. This version of Go Tell it on the Mountain is so good it's actually lodged firmly in the top 25 list of most played songs on my iTunes.

The Band-Christmas Must Be Tonight

Should I even need to explain why a holiday song by The Band is awesome?

Amy Grant-Love Has Come

Thanks to my mother I believe I know every word to every song on every Amy Grant Christmas Album. I honestly can't tell anymore if they are even good but just hearing the first few bars of this song I am 12 years old belting it out in the living room while babysitting. My roommate Brenda and I got to see this live a few years ago and meet Amy afterwards. Holidays probably could have ended that year and I'd be fine.

Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Mclachlan-God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

I never, ever get tired of this version of this song. Ever. It's so fun and features the two artists that feature VERY prominently in the soundtrack of my college life.

Sufjan Stevens-Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

This isn't reall a Christmas song but Sufjan Stevens put it on his massive holiday collection years ago and it's actually probably my favorite one now. I have a BYU choir version of this song that is much more epic and I love that one too but there is something about this version that gets right into my bloodstream. The lyrics of this song are a fairly perfect description of my faith and I will never forget the hour I spent once upon a time listening to the director the MTC choir explain it to a bunch of homesick missionaries. No wonder everyone who goes on a mission ends up wishing this was in our hymn book.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Stomp it Clean

One of the reasons I had so much fun this summer was that I had a really, really outstanding staff working for me at Team Processing.

In an attempt to make Processing better for our teams, I had the coach of the US Halfpipe team join the staff. He has been coaching Olympic teams for a long time and has been on the other side of the fence a number of times so he gave me great insights on what we could do to improve things. He also worked his BUTT off for me. As you can imagine, a snowboard coach is probably the polar opposite of me in terms of personality and it was really nice to have his calm presence during all the intensity.

He did a couple of videos for our Team USA YouTube channel to teach folks how to do some tricks this winter. It's my fondest wish to land a jump this season so I've been watching his clips like a fiend. So if you would like to learn how to jump as well, you can't do better than learning it from this guy. His advice to me?

"All you gotta do is let it fly and enjoy the ride... just make sure you STOMP IT CLEAN!!! ;-)"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Better things

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could've, would've happened... or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the f**k on.” 

Tupac Shakur 

Tis the season for the floor being a mess. In the best possible way. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Rocky Mountain HI!

Safe to say ski season is off to a stellar start.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Now that my crazy year is over and life is feeling back to whatever normal is for me, the "Summer of Endless Flirtation" is transitioning into "The Winter of Our Discontent Because Real Dating is Totally the Worst".

I often feel like I am just as bad at dating as I was when I was 15 and spent so much time trying to stay aloof around the boy I had a giant crush on that as adults he told me he was convinced I wasn't interested. But realistically, although it hasn't gotten any more fun to get your heart broken, or to put yourself out there when you'd like to be home watching Cougartown in your fleece pants, I actually HAVE progressed in the way I approach this aspect of my life. More importantly, I have assembled a very excellent team of coaches and mentors I like to call my "Dating Board of Directors". This might sound really silly and like the chapter heading in some self-help book but I'm telling you, this team may not help me avoid getting my heart broken, but they sure do make post break up blues go away faster, get me back in the game with less baggage, and help me to actually learn something from each relationship.

Just like at work, I can't be expected to be an expert at every part of my big projects, so I present to you the core members of a solid Dating Board of Directors. Names withheld so you don't steal my board members!

The Sympathizer
This is the person you call RIGHT after things go south. She's the person who is going to do all the things "He's Just Not Into You" will tell you NOT to do. She'll tell you he doesn't deserve you and that you are too good for him and that he will regret it and blah blah blah. This friend should never say anything about needing to see both sides or asking you what you learned or any of that bull you don't want to hear when the wound is fresh.  This person is usually a girl but can also be a male friend you have never been involved with. She's important because she will probably also help you justify buying something nice for yourself, getting a massage, or eating a bunch of ice cream. All of which is totally fine for about 48 hours after a heart gets broken. This role can be filled by a boy but I am more comfortable with girls because we can say "boys are dumb!" which we don't really mean but feels a little bit nice after one has in fact been dumb.

The Gay BFF
A close gay friend is a really useful position on the board. Gay men tend to be 50% more effusive with praise and love than any straight person of either gender. So they will say wonderfully nice things about you that will make your ego feel good, but they are still guys, so they can offer perspective that your girlfriends just can't. And it will come cushioned with the assurance that "if I was straight-daaaamn girl, I would be ALL over YOU." Which is something no girl ever has grown tired of hearing.

The Reformed Player
This is a guy you need around from pretty much the second you start crushing on someone. A guy who has been a player in his past can give you insights that a life long gentleman either can't or won't.  You say "why would he do that??" and Reformed Player will say, "oh I'll tell you exactly why...". It's like having a cheat sheet to sketchy male behavior. This is a tricky position though-you have to make sure he is truly reformed. I got myself into a situation where I got some terrific advice from what I thought was an RP, then I accidently started dating him and was pretty upset when I got-duh-played.  My current RP coached me through a miserable situation earlier this year complete with encouraging texts about just how bad the fella in question was probably feeling as I followed his tips. I can't overstate the value of this guy. Also, players tend to be pretty handsome and charming so it doesn't hurt your feelings to have one who adores you around.

The Play-by-Play Expert
This one can be a boy or a girl although you will likely get more reliable insight if it's a guy. This is the person willing to listen to a long, boring dating story and then tear apart all the details and try to figure out where you went wrong and what it all means. I must emphasize that this needs to be ONE DESIGNATED PERSON. Your whole social network does not want to hear your story in exruciating detail. And you don't want to be the girl who spills the long version to anyone who sits still for five minutes. The key to this position is that this person actually enjoys the process of talking your situation to death. It is incredibly helpful if you can fill the same role for this person so you can return the favor when he/she is memorizing Taylor Swift songs. Mine has spent 45 minutes on the phone with me analyzing a text exchange so, you know, lucky me.

The Old Married Lady
I love this one. I have dozens of these. You call them to tell a dating story and it doesn't matter if it's funny or sad-they love to live vicariously through you. They will often give terrible advice because they have been out of the game so long, or they are hoping they won't lose their endless supply of stories about getting hit on by 24 year olds. You always know that these friends love their kids and love their husbands but it makes all your experiences just a baby bit sweeter when someone else thinks they sound pretty glamorous.

The Straight Talker
A skilled friend can be both The Sympathizer and the Straight Talker but she or he needs to be really good at sensing which one you need. The Straight Talker kicks in riiiight about the time no one wants to hear you speak this boy's name ever again. As a good friend once said, "even when my mother DIED my friends were tired of comforting me after a month so breakups get 30 days and not one second longer." The Straight Talker is the one that will remind you that you have flaws too, it takes two to kill a relationship and that maybe just maybe this is a pattern or you held on too long or you have been talking about this too much and everyone is tired of it. That friend. I love/hate that friend but she's the key to moving on. She's often the one that will push you over the edge to finally break up or stop pining or get back out there or whatever. She's kind with her honestly because she loves you, but she doesn't want to have to hear this again because really, it's time to put on your big girl pants and move. on.

The Old Flame
This is another tricky position but it's one I have found to be profoundly useful after someone really hurts you. Especially when you feel like it's just never going to work out for you. This is someone you used to be crazy about but are COMPLETELY OVER and someone who was nuts about you but has DEFINITELY moved on. If you been able to be genuinely friendly with this guy, he will become invaluable. He knows you very well, he knows the things that are great about you but he also knows the things that are tough. He knows that you are dramatic and bossy and strong-willed. But if you are lucky, he still thinks you are pretty great and is convinced that you are going to end up with someone great. Because when you are dating in the grownup world, most of the people in your past are not crazy or jerks or whatever, they are just good people that weren't quite right. My Old Flame pep talker gives the most fantastic "You are awesome and we both know this so snap out of it will ya" talks ever. I use him sparingly, he often gets exasperated by the situations I find myself in, but he's one of my favorite post-heartbreak conversations. I can't stress enough that this cannot be someone on your backburner or someone who still harbors a secret crush on you. This needs to be a "his girlfriend knows there is no threat, he's practically a brother" type person or this will actually cause more harm than good.

The Encourager
I have several of these but one of my current favorites is a friend who has heard way too many stories of guys I'm crushing on that end in me saying, "but I have no idea how to tell him I like him." So recently he took to signing all his emails "MTFM" or "Make The First Move." He will give me juuuust enough of an ego stroke like "he'll be hard pressed to resist that laugh of yours" that it has actually inspired me to put myself out there in ways that completely terrify me. The Encourager can get you in trouble and make you vulnerable but apparently that's how you meet people so, I keep a few around.

So there they are, the team that keeps me from turning into a mean old spinster. I would put them all on salary if I could and will probably send THEM wedding presents if that time ever comes.

And if you think I am kidding about any of these, I'm not. This is a 100% serious list and I'm 100% seriously thankful that anytime I start to freak out, this panel is here to turn me back into a human. I also have an all female Being An Awesome Woman Board of Directors that I will have to tell you about. Tapping into the experts people, that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


To quote a kind of terrible band, "sometime the hard thing and the right thing are the same."


Saturday, November 10, 2012


I haven't posted any music lately even though I have been downloading it like a FIEND. I went to two shows in two nights this weekend though and I feel incredibly spoiled.

Last night I went to The Be Good Tanyas. All girl harmonies and mandolins and banjos. And the lead singer's name is Frazey. It's hard to pick just one their songs but I love the lyrics and the melody of this one so very much.

Light Enough to Travel

Then tonight a friend from Salt Lake was in town who I never get to see and she and her boyfriend and I went to see Lost Lander and Typhoon. There were a lot of C Springs music fans there so it was also fun to run into a bunch of people I haven't seen in awhile.

I didn't know Lost Lander but they were right up my alley-and even more awesome when I came home and downloaded their album. I am a sucker for a well-produced track and man, these guys nail it.

Cold Feet

And then there was Typhoon. Another thing I am a sucker for is a BIG band that FILLS the stage and makes EPIC sounding music. It's why Broken Social Scene remains one of my all time favorite bands. I also think it's impossible to be too snarky and caustic when you are in a band with ten other people so these big bands just seems so earnest. These guys can right a song that builds and builds and then pauses and then when you can't stand it, crashes all around you with strings and horns and voices shattering into pieces all over the venue.

Summer Home

And because you kind of need to see all of them to get the full more for good measure.

Mouth of the Cave + White Liars

Friday, November 09, 2012


Being LDS and voting for Obama I have had quite a few friends ask me over the last week why I choose not to vote for Mitt Romney. I wrote it out enough times I decided to post it here. I edited out some of the more personal things I didn't want to share publicly but this still reads as though writing to a friend. I hope this doesn't make you stop reading my blog : ) I swear I will go right back to boys and music.

So here goes...we all have to vote according to our own personal experiences. And my life experience is overwhelmingly colored by growing up in a family that always struggled financially.  We didn't have insurance most of the time. My dad's veterans benefits were the only way he could get the kidney transplant that means I still have a dad. I watched my brother pay soul crushing private premiums to make sure his kids could go to the doctor when his employer in california declined to provide full coverage to the utah office. They finally decided to give in and take some government help because it was tough paying for both shelter, food AND insurance. My brother is a college educated professional who LOVES TO WORK-not some lazy guy looking for a handout. So affordable and available healthcare is something that is near and dear to me.

I went to SUU on Pell Grants. I worked every summer, every christmas break and on campus every semester. I got scholarships to make up the differences. I wasn't a lazy kid letting the government fund four years of goofing around-I was careful with money and worked hard to get good grades and graduate on time. But neither I, nor any of my fully employed tax paying responsible citizen siblings could have managed college without major help-my parents just couldn't help very much. I feel an enormous sense of responsibility to the other Katie Clifford's of this world to make sure the ability to go to college remains available to kids like her.

Now that I AM a college educated professional and I make sort of a silly amount of money to pick polo shirts and watch swimmers try on clothes, I'm perfectly happy-heck, grateful-to pay my share and frankly even more than my share than say my dear teacher friend who makes peanuts to teach little first grade minds-to make sure we get roads and schools and fire departments and snow removal. (This sentence is terribly punctuated, I guess it shows that I quit being an English major.)

And lastly-and to me very most importantly-is the right of everyone to marry as they choose. The fact that any douchebag straight guy can go out and get married and have a few kids he may abuse or neglect and that's legal, but my kind, sweet, wonderful best friend Jed who is a good good man, cannot marry the guy he loves and adopt some kids who will be so loved and well cared for makes me so angry I could spit nails. I cannot, and I will not, support a party who continues to be so obstinate when it comes to this issue.

I worked for Mitt at the organizing committee in Salt Lake. He's super smart and capable and we were always mesmorized by his press conferences and organization addresses. However, I don't feel like I ever saw that guy again. I saw a man who bowed to the pressures of the far right and sounded like an old, out of touch, relic of a different age every time he opened his mouth. I don't believe that was the real Mitt, but I also wasn't willing to take the chance that he would feel beholden to the overly vocal extreme side of his party. Someone said today the GOP is "a Mad Men party in a Modern Family world" and I couldn't agree more.

The economy was in in bad bad shape when Obama took office-I feel like maybe people have forgotten the hysteria of four short years ago when entire neighborhoods were going into foreclosure and life savings were being wiped out. We are not where we need to be but we are so much better. A friend sent me an article back in January and it really explains why from a fiscal point of view, I voted to keep the guy who has a long-term strategy to truly fix things in place, rather than shake it all up again with a newbie who will inevitably discover that being the President of the US is not the same as being the president of Bain Capitol. Or the Olympics. You can read it if you would like, many of my fellow Obama supporters will cite it as a reason they feel good about his second term.

I am certain that as a business owner and with a different upbringing, you have a different lens you used to filter these two. We came up with different guys but it doesn't make either of us wrong-we just have different priorities in a leader. But I will say this-I've got gays in my life and I have minorities in my family and I have spent my whole Mormon girl life fighting the idea that my whole worth is tied to someone wanting to marry me and when the Obama family walked out on stage last night, they looked like progress. They looked young and fresh and they didn't look like me. I think we needed this election to shake loose the cobwebs of an America that only looks good if you are white and straight and rich.

I have gone on and on here but this stuff is important to me and I did a LOT of soul searching to get to what I think. I know my Republican friends did too. Mitt is a good man, he'll make a hell of a mission president for some lucky kids. And hopefully Obama will keep his victory speech promise to sit down with Romney. I also hope Ann gets a nap-she was a champ : ) Being a political wife looks like the suckiest job ever ; )


Monday, October 29, 2012

Mother Nature

So here is a thing that is sort of surreal....Saturday night I started seeing all kinds of tweets and Facebook postings from friends in Hawaii obeying an island-wide evacuation order due to an approaching tsunami. As I was reading up on the news they kept mentioning that the last such order was March of 2011 on the heels of the earthquake in Japan.

That's right, the same tsunami warning that sent my pals and I to spend the night in our rental car in the parking lot of the Honolulu Temple. It was crazy to be watching all the reports and seeing their updates and remembering the backseat of that Ford Focus lighting up with all kinds of messages and updates from our friends and families making sure we were OK.

Flash forward to today and the constant checking of the internet to see what was happening on the East Coast and thinking back just a few months to my coworker Julie and I sobbing in a hotel room in Eugene because our houses were being evacuated in the face of an unpredictable fire.

It is a bizarre thing when the place you are, or the place you aren't but your house IS, takes up the 24 hour news cycle. When your phone explodes because people know where you are and want to check on you. It's not like you WANT to have those experiences and heaven knows I was pretty freaked out both times, but there is something to be said for the reminders of how much we are loved.

One of my all-time favorite movies is Lars and the Real Girl and there is a point where one of the characters asks the doctor Lars is seeing if she misses the husband she lost. She responds with, "sometimes I get so lonely I forget what day it is and how to spell my name." It may sound strange if you read this blog or follow me elsewhere on the internet but I find myself feeling that way more often the older and singler (I know that is not a word, sorry mom.) I get. I am lucky lucky to have a big wide net of people to love but when you live far away from most of them, and when you go to bed alone, it's easy for the daily grind to make you forget.

This big wide net of a life means that if something bad happens in a big place, I probably have a bestie who is in the thick of it. So this weekend and today, I made sure to reach out to all of those people I adore in Hawaii and New York to make sure their phones were blowing up too.

And then maybe I'll just try to be better in general about staying in touch. The last few months I have laid low while I try to get back into a normal life and I'm starting to feel like connecting again. It probably shouldn't take a hurricane to get me to check in eh?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Come Clean

I do this thing-and maybe you do it too-where I have unrealistic expectation for myself that I would never demand from someone else. OK I might demand it just a liiiiitle bit from someone else.

I expect that I can recover from 5 Games in 11 months with a couple of weekends of sleeping in.
I expect that I should be able to go for a few long runs and a hot yoga class and I won't think about a boy who broke my heart anymore.
I expect that I shouldn't feel disappointed. Ever. Disappointment is for complainers.

If you think this is an exhausting way to live you are right. I don't have an answer for this yet except to note that 3.5 days of nephews was not enough. And sometimes even years later something dumb can rip open a wound you thought was closed and you cry your way through an episode of Glee. And I think maybe it's OK to admit that on both counts. It's OK if I'm still worn down after this wacko year. It's OK if maybe an old breakup still stings now and then.

In the meantime, here are some pretty great photos of a pretty perfect weekend.

Luke. His eyes will melt you. 

Best way to carry a kid. Hands down. 

Bonus grandpa visit

Kids on a pole

St. George's cutest family

I can beat Wyatt

But Morgan cheats

I didn't know Christopher was taking pictures but this one kills me.  I love this kid so much. 

Birthday bike ride with brother. So perfect. 

Was THAT Aunt and gave Wyo an entire cinnamon roll of his own. 

Training up little future climbers
Good trip. Not nearly long enough. Slept 12 hours today. Still figuring this all out.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Cooking Class

Thirty-six is probably a meaningless birthday to most people but it's had a little circle around it on my calendar for a very long time.  I discovered somewhere in my mid-twenties that Julia Child didn't go to culinary school until she was 36. Julia. Child. Julia Child who basically brought french cooking to America, revolutionized cook books and pioneered televised cooking shows, did not discover what she really wanted to do with her life until she was 36! That knowledge has simmered in the back of my head as a comfort and an inspiration whenever I feel panicked about the state of my own life's purpose. One Christmas visit to Washington D.C. I even dragged my sister-in-law to the Smithsonian so we could go look at Julia's kitchen. 

Well. I turn 36 on Sunday. And I think I have as many questions about "what I want to be when I grow up" as I did when I was 26. I turned 30 with a big party, a whirlwind work trip to New York, a college girlfriend reunion in San Francisco and a half marathon that ended in fire fighters in tuxedos giving us Tiffany necklaces. And guys-it's been uphill since then. But to be perfectly candid, I'm struggling a bit with this particular birthday. 

Some of it is science. The baby years are closing. And I know-I have heard ALLLLLL the stories about your aunt or cousin or lady in your ward who managed to have a baby IN HER FORTIES. I know. It can be done. Old maids get married. Elderly women have kids. And I know that people tell you those things to make you feel better. They are great stories. They do not make single women feel better. 

Some of it is career. And again-I know. The Olympics. Remember how they were insane and amazing? Nobody wants to peak at 35. It's way, way exciting to think that I have to come up with some entirely new dreams but it's also way, way scary. "Summer Games" have been on the list for just about as long as "Eiffel Tower with sister" and I knocked them both out in a six week span this year. The problem with big goals is that as you meet them, you discover you have developed something of an appetite for crossing things off. I don't want to get stuck, I don't want to stop growing, I don't want to get left behind. 

All of that said-I can't let this birthday kill the nice "2012 is awesome" buzz I have going and I owe it to the 27 and 32 and 34 year old versions of me who were so comforted not to freak out just because we hit the Julia year and we don't have the Cordon Bleu lined up. So for the first time in my whole life, I'm swallowing my discomfort about making a big deal over my birthday and I'm kind of not shutting up about it. I decided to celebrate Birthday Week this year. I even started a hashtag on Twitter so I can be annoying about it there too. 

Last night I went to a concert. On a Monday. Today I ate ice cream THREE TIMES and donated money to a charity. Tomorrow I have a date with a hot 27 year old who is likely not marriage material but he's got beautiful eyes and has a way of calling me "woman" that makes me forget I'm a feminist. And thursday I fly to Utah to spend the rest of birthday week chasing nephews, riding bikes with my brother, going to hot yoga and drinking gigantic sodas with my sister-in-law, and eating a lot of things I will have to sweat way too hard to work off because I am getting old. 

And then. Thirty-six. I'm going to channel Julia every day and let this be a year of trying new things and hanging onto the right old things and being brave and being generous and remembering the advice I gave an anxious friend tonight which is this...Find your happy right now, whatever your circumstance and life will be hard pressed to take it from you.

Monday, October 01, 2012

She's a Libra

Today is October 1-the beginning of Q4 and the day I restart all those good healthy habits that the summer shot to hell.

September was ridiculous-Washington DC, Portland, and a whirlwind trip to Munich to look at spots for Sochi Team Processing. I'm in love with Germany (more on that later) and fired up about the next Games but I'm more fired up about the rest of 2012. I have a trip to St. George to celebrate my birthday with brother bike rides, sister-in-law hot yoga classes and plenty of chasing my nephews around the yard. It looks like Thanksgiving might see all the Clifflets in once place and our magnificently awesome CEO is shutting us down between Christmas and New Year's so I will spending a few glorious weeks relaxing in the SLC which is pretty much my favorite way to wrap up any year, but especially this totally off the wall one.

I want to finish 2012 strong so I'm back to my Insanity workout regimen and trying to see if I can bring some balance back into my life. We'll see how it goes but I'm turning 36 in two weeks and I'm pretty determined that if I have to get older, I'm going to take advantage of the wiser too.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Behold, my best purchase all year.

I have spent the last year looking for a cute version of Coach Taylor's motto from Friday Night Lights and never quite found one I liked. Then I ran across the woman at Spunky Fluff who agreed to do a custom version and I could not be more thrilled with it. She is open to making more of them so if you are interested let me know.

Obviously I love the show so that's fun, but beyond that, these six words pretty much sum up the way I would like to live. So this is a great reminder that I get to see every day.

In other sort of silly FNL purchase news, I might have done this too

Adam, me, and Adam's dog Cooper
My good friend Adam loves the show too and when I posted a link to the tees one late night in London he left the following comment on Facebook:

"Buy me one too and I'll be your Eric Taylor and you can be my Tami."

Much internet swooning on the part of my lady friends ensued and obviously I had to buy him the shirt.

(We did NOT leave the house this way. I have not gone that far around the bend yet. )

In other awesome shirt news, my pal Jimmy was in town yesterday wearing perhaps the greatest tee of all time

And yes internet, all my friends really are tall and handsome. I swear it just happens this way ; )

Monday, September 17, 2012

Golden Summer

Olympic Stadium-one perfect night in August

Once upon a time some dumb kid from Utah went to London for six weeks and magically made sure 1700+ people all looked super sharp as they went to press conferences and met with sponsors and won gold medals and marched in some ceremonies that a billion people watched on TV.

I have been back for a week and I still don't know how to describe exactly what happened this summer.  Within 48 hours of leaving home in July I was giggling my way through helping Ryan Lochte try on his silver medals stand jacket. For the record, I am terribly professional when it comes to working with athletes but Mr. Lochte makes it nearly impossible not to giggle just a little.

So when the adventure STARTS by seeing every ab muscle of every human on the US Olympic Swim Team and by a week later you've actually forgotten all about it because so much other stuff has happened, well, you see why I'm having a hard time figuring out to answer the "how was London?" question.

I think I have the same answer you would get from anyone who has worked behind the scenes on a giant project-London was sometimes the worst experience of my life, sometimes the most amazing thing I have ever done and all around something I feel extraordinarily blessed to have been part of. The Summer Olympics in a city like London where Team USA wins both the total medal AND gold medal count feels like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of occurrence. I'm still pinching myself that I was not just there but actively involved. 40 million Americans watched Team USA march into the Opening Ceremony. 40. Million. Americans. Saw the project I have been working on for three years.

When Ralph Lauren decided they would like to try doing skirts for the women, it was me pulling together a little focus group here at the Colorado Springs Training Center so see how our female athletes felt about it. I tried to get a good cross section of women, Illeana here was one of those girls. I was practically delirious with joy when I got to tie her scarf and straighten her beret before the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

In the months leading up to the Games everyone kept telling me how much BIGGER the Summer Games were going to be than Winter. And I thought-sure sure, more people, more clothes, fine, I got it.
This isn't my first rodeo guys.

Did you know there are 44 rowers on the US Team? Just rowers. One team.  There aren't 44 of ANYTHING at the Winter Games. The Summer Games aren't just double the size-they are Winter when Winter starts doping. In the Winter, you have ice and you have snow. Half the Team Leaders work for one national governing body. Winter has Shaun White and Apolo Ohno who come through Processing with their teams and blend right in. This time I had Andy Roddick and Venus and Serena in the building at the same time as Kerri Walsh and Misty May. There is a different kind of stress trying to make sure the paparazzi don't approach Lindsay Vonn on her way in than the way you feel when you look out the window and 12 NBA superstars are eating chicken on the lawn in one of London's roughest neighborhoods. I didn't sleep a full night for 17 days.

My time in Eugene and Knoxville had lulled me into this false sense of security. Both events went really well, the Team Leaders for both Track and Swimming are people I love working with, the athletes were lovely. I had dear friends come help me out at both events which was fun and filled me up personally. We had already had a family funeral and my house almost burned down so it seemed like I had pretty some solid perspective on where the Olympics fell in the grand scheme of life priorities. I knew I had a fantastic team of people on the ground in London-I felt really prepared getting on that plane in Knoxville.

And then.

I didn't sleep a wink on the 9 hour flight and it was raining when we landed and had to go straight to the venue. I will spare you a blow by blow of the next six days but honestly, if there was a way for something to go differently than I had planned it during our set-up, it did.

I had a pretty get it done no matter what kind of team though and we worked together to solve things and suddenly it was the 16th and the first wave of Rowers showed up. They tried on clothes and ordered rings and got their photos taken and then it was groundhog day until the 27th. Groundhog day where all the groundhogs are insane.

An athlete getting fitting for his Opening Ceremony Uniform

I couldn't possibly tell all my stories here and you really don't want to hear them all. But here are my highlights.

*You want to see what a warehouse of 96,000 items looks like? I took my CEO up to the observation deck to get a bird's eye view of what it takes to get a US Olympic Team ready. His eyes almost popped out of his head. It was endlessly entertaining to show this to people. This is 14 semi trucks and at some point, every one of those boxes had MY name on it. I get PTSD just looking at this photo.

*I had loads of friends who wanted to volunteer for the Games so I ended up with 15-20 people I just love on the team. When you are having a stressful day there is almost nothing as awesome as your darling friend Natalie walking in wearing her Salt Lake Olympic shoulder bag. My friend Ian who was my intern in Vancouver came with his parents and his girlfriend and they worked their tails off the entire time. The few times when I felt like I was going to fail it was awfully nice to have him there to say, "I have SEEN you rock this Katie Clifford, you can do it."

*We had borrowed a staff member from US Ski and Snowboard to be the logistics manager for Team Processing. We thought it would be good for us to have someone who had been on the other side of the  process and good for one of our biggest winter governing bodies to see our operation from the inside. So for three weeks the guy whose day job it is to be the Head Coach of the US Halfpipe Team was scurrying around East London doing whatever crazy thing I needed. I lucked into two Opening Ceremony tickets so I took him as a thank you for going way above and beyond AND being totally fun. We were like two little kids on Christmas morning when the US Team finally came out. I don't actually care what people thought of the berets or the socks or anything else-our athletes looked absolutely spectacular and the thousands and thousands of blood, sweat and tears were worth it.
Eyes full of tired relief.

Heart stopping moment.
*After Processing was over I went and worked at the USA House store. It was bonkers. I would work an 8 hour shift and the line at all four registers would never be less than 10 people deep. I rang up dozens of Olympian's moms. They are always so cute and excited to tell you who their kid is. It was extra fun when Sam Mikulak's parents came in and I actually had a photo of the men's gymnastics team from Processing on my phone. Mom got all choked up, Dad had me send it to them. It was adorable. I also rang up Jorge Posada one day and the register got a glitch and charged him $13,000,000,000,000. That's what he gets for having been a Yankee I guess.

*I had been seeing someone just prior to leaving for London but we decided it likely wasn't going to work. So to say it was the summer of boys is sort of an understatement. A lady never tells but suffice it to say, after a series of ego-deflating experiences over the last year, Stella has her groove back.

*A couple of nights after Opening Ceremony I met up with my friend Aron, Lenny and William to grab a drink. It was midnight. We were all exhausted and our bloodshot eyes looked we had been doing drugs. We sat in silence for a full five minutes before Lenny said, "are we all stupid? Why are we doing this?" A week later the four of us were together again in a crowded restaurant after Aron's team won seven medals in one night in Olympic Stadium. Still exhausted for sure but those nights are why we do it.

*My friends Bev and Tom have now worked every single Games since we all met in Salt Lake. I got to go to a USA Basketball game with Tom and a crazy Oakley party with Bev. Bev and I also did high tea one day with our other friend-and funny enough one of my sorority sisters from SUU-Jamie one afternoon. She's now working on the Istanbul bid and it was just so fun to get to spend real time with all these people who were there from the beginning of my Olympic dreams.

*Speaking of people I have known buddy Paul and I went to JUNIOR HIGH TOGETHER. He used to tease me MERCILESSLY right up until senior year I think. We both ended up working on the Organizing Committee in Salt Lake and got to be real friends. We have both kept ourselves involves in the Olympic world and now he and his wife are on my list of favorite couples ever. This particular night at USA House he was running around accompanying the President of the IOC (yep) but seeing him even for a bit is always a treat. We like to laugh about how the two little mormon kids from Holladay are totally running amok at the Games.

*You get home and realize you didn't take enough photos but here are some highlights 
We might have taken these out for a spin one night

Our crew was pretty fun. Obvi. 

Some of my very favorite boys on earth

Ingrid and I met when we both worked at PUMA. Oops. 

Water Polo day turns everyone into a lunatic shutterbug. (They are SO HANDSOME!)

My Nike friends packing a whole bunch of medals stand outfits


My friends Al and Lexi came all the way from the USA to help out. Love them. 

Loved getting to work with our Chef de Mission Teresa Edwards. This woman has five gold medals. And a whole bunch of swagger.

Got this from my coach friend. Some of you know I earned this damn pin. 

Anyone recognize these guys? 

Big poster of Opening Ceremony at USA House. 

Olympic Park

Dr. Lance met me one morning for breakfast. We didn't talk about the Olympics. It was awesome. 

Gold Medal soccer day. Also, my coworkers are awesome day. 

Team Processing does a LOT of recycling.

You know I did this again for the Paralympics right?
Cutest ever?
Nike re-shot the posters with Paralympians which I loved

We got to go into the Village and make sure everyone looked perfect for Opening Ceremony. So rad.
This was how my heart felt at the end. 
I have a million great stories but lest this turn into a bragathon, I read an article halfway through the Paralympics that absolutely nailed the way I felt about this whole experience. Not just the ten weeks I was on the road but my entire life since I took this job three years ago.

Diana Nyad is a long distance swimmer who was attempting to set an open water swimming record this summer by swimming from Havana, Cuba to the Florida Keys without a shark cage. She didn't make it. But she wrote this beautiful article about the attempt and one of the passages jumped right out at me.

When we came to shore yesterday, every single crew member, 53 of them, came to me to say the mission changed their lives. We lived large out there. We lived large getting ready for it. No stone unturned. We were our best selves every waking minute of every day for three years. You just can't look back at a period of unwavering commitment like this one with any regrets.

This. This is exactly how I feel about the last three years of my life. It's a pretty well documented fact that I did not love my last go around in Boston. Professionally it was brutal and that spilled over into everything else. I think I went on two dates the entire two years. The switch to working for Golf was turning things around but even as we were doing some cool things and I was getting my professional confidence back I would sit in church and think, "what am I doing in a city I don't love, far away from most of the people I care about, in a job I'm not passionate about, feeling like a 32 year old spinster?"  I was excited about the prospect of this job but I did worry that I was taking a big backward step. "Global Marketing Manager" for a giant brand seemed a bit more impressive than Head polo shirt chooser. But I took the pay cut and the move to a town that doesn't even have a J. Crew because I wanted to feel something at work again. 

We lived large out there. We lived large getting ready for it. No stone unturned. 

I have never been as tired as I am right now. But I feel complete in the knowledge that I have nothing left. Just like those athletes, I left everything on the field. I have spent years working and fixing and tweaking and enlisting experts and learning from incredibly talented people, all so that this summer would be smooth. We didn't do everything perfectly and there is so much more to do, but Team Processing is a much different animal now than it was when I got it. I have been living a big life for the past few years and while that can bring it's own set of issues, it has also been enormously satisfying. 

We were our best selves every waking minute of every day for three years.

Almost everyone I work with could be making more money somewhere else. They are bright and talented people and they don't have to work for a non-profit. But they choose to. And it comes across in their dedication and passion for what we do. And especially when we are working long, hard, physical hours shoulder to shoulder at an event and you see your coworkers when they are tired and homesick and under-fed but still getting it done no matter what, you develop a healthy respect for the sacrifices they make to help other people achieve their dreams. 

You just can't look back at a period of unwavering commitment like this one with any regrets.

No regrets. Things to do better for sure. But no regrets. 

I left out of a different terminal than the rest of the team so I was alone at Heathrow for a few hours. I ate a leisurely lunch and delighted in not having to answer a phone every five minutes. I bought some over the top bright lipstick at the MAC store because I was practically giddy at the prospect of getting out of spandex and tees and into some heels and skirts. I read a magazine not my blackberry.

And then as I was walking to the gate I started crying and I couldn't stop. I was so relieved, and so ready to go home, and so, so happy with everything we accomplished that the reaction just had to be physical. 

Oddly this week is my third anniversary of making this move. So much has changed in those three years. I feel like I am finally becoming the person I hoped I would be. I am still so grateful that I made the decision at the beginning of all of this to go to Idaho and be with my dad even though it was not remotely an easy thing to do. I'm glad I love this job so much but I'm also glad this job doesn't define me. 

That said, this summer will go down as one of the most incredible and life-changing seasons of my life. I remember wondering after the Salt Lake Games if I would ever make the kind of friends, have the kind of growth or see the kind of things I saw there. I was afraid nothing was ever going to feel that great again. Well good news 25 year old KC, apparently there is some truth to things getting better with time. Life sure does.