2016 Year in Review

December 28th, 2016 — 11:07pm

This is my 12th annual year in review. To read past reviews, click here.

2016 in a nutshell: Exactly where we should be. Or the year we closed Tangle.

2016 was a year of joys and sorrows, life being equal parts normal, hard, and exciting. Many people on social media are lamenting that 2016 was the worst year ever, but there are enough bright, shining moments in this past year that I’ll have to respectfully disagree. Yes, there has been a lot that was hard and a lot that makes the future seem a little bleak, but there has also been so much good. Life is always good and bad, hard and easy (and hard again), bitter and sweet. I think this year proves that again and again.

For me this year has been about identity. I’ve had to take a good, hard look at myself and be honest about who I am and who I am not. I’m doing the slow, hard work to begin to trust my quiet, and timid, inner voice over the loud and screaming voices of others. Some of these lessons have been very, very hard, knocking the wind out of me in ways I never saw coming. I’ve spent too much time worrying about what other people think of me, feeling un-liked and unloved and left out for reasons I don’t understand. And I am learning imperfectly and too slowly that I have to fully embrace who I am, whether it’s liked or not, to both do my job and my life well. It’s slow work, but exactly what I need to be doing.

This fall, while driving up to the mountains to camp, we learned about the Enneagram personality test and it changed our family. While Honor’s still not quite ready to embrace the nerdiness that is the personality test, the rest of us learned so much about ourselves and each other. My results did not come as any surprise to me, but did force me to take a look at who I truly am and embrace rather than fight it.

Marriage to Josh has continued to be life’s sweetest surprise. I marvel that he loves me so deeply and that he is enduringly committed to making our life together work so well. It is the biggest joy to be on the same team. I never imagined I could find someone who would love both me and the kids like he does. It is not lost on me how beautiful redemption can be, in so many ways that you can’t even imagine.

• In February, we flew to Austin, TX to visit Josh’s mom and sister. We had a great time exploring the city and I have yet to perfect my recipe for authentic Austin BBQ beans. (But I’m getting closer!)
• Josh and I went over to Boulder with the Western Colorado teams that won our local Go Code competition while they worked on their pitches for the finals in Denver.
• We, along with Eden’s BFF, went with 40 of our closest friends to Green River, Utah to camp and raft along the Green River in our fourth annual Riverpalooza aka rPAL.
• My youngest cousin got married in Rapid City, South Dakota so we drove, via a quick trip in Wyoming to see my Grandma, to the wedding. We really enjoyed our time at Mt. Rushmore and Reptile Gardens, where we got to pet a baby alligator, and then popped over to Denver to see my sister on the way home. 1425 miles.
• A week later we traveled back to Denver so I could attend a very exciting Parking Conference.
• Took the kids to their first big concert. We were so fortunate to see Coldplay, up very close, in Salt Lake City. It was a memory we will all cherish forever.
• Josh and I travelled to my cousin’s wedding in Portland, OR. We decided to drive so we could really experience new parts of the country. We stayed in Boise along the way and were amazed by the Columbia River Gorge. We spent time along the coast and fell in love with Portland (especially the food). We got to tour our first Frank Lloyd Wright house as well as one of Oregon’s few working lighthouses. 2400 miles.
• We were back over to Denver before Thanksgiving to load up on Ikea furniture for FACTORY.

• Had the opportunity to walk the Governor around Main Street and talk to him about the things we’re doing in Downtown GJ.
• Decided, after 10 years in business, to move on to the next chapter and close Tangle. It was hard and many people were sad but it’s been the best decision. There’s a season for everything.
• Hiked the Ouray Perimeter trail with my workout buddies. It was gorgeous.
• Became the Executive Director for the Downtown Business Improvement District. A few of this year’s proud moments at my job include adding three new properties to our district and having my proposal to launch a pilot program for a parking app in the Downtown area accepted by the city. I really love my job.
• Turned 35.
• Found myself in some really sweet and special friendships that have been so meaningful to me.
• Really enjoyed making this house our own, scouring second-hand shops for midcentury modern pieces that we could afford and spending way too much time at Target.

• Moved from a shared office to his own office on Main Street. With his expanded space he was able to hire two new employees and an intern.
• Along with his partner Brian, did a fantastic job hosting the second Go Code competition for Western Colorado. (You should really watch the video, it’s fantastic.)
• Joined the Food Bank board.
• Created and launched an app called Wild Colorado that our local library commissioned.
• Discussed tech entrepreneurship in western Colorado with Governor Hickenlooper.
• Flew a plane.
• Turned 35.
• After years of working, saw his goals achieved by opening Grand Junction’s first coworking space, FACTORY.
• Got to ride up on the ladder of a fire truck to take photos during Downtown’s Tree Lighting.

• As part of her extensive orthodontic work, had surgery on her mouth.
• Turned 14.
• Had blonde then purple then blonde then blue then blonde then magenta hair.
• Had her first boyfriend.
• Won the directors award in choir (again).
• Graduated 8th Grade and started HIGH SCHOOL.
• Became a vegetarian.
• Went to her first homecoming.
• Was accepted into the Women’s audition-choir in High School.

• Stopped being a vegetarian. (Coincidentally grew several inches when he started eating meat again.)
• Celebrated the beginning of Summer by having his second annual All-Nighter with his sister.
• Along with his sister, celebrated their dad’s wedding in June.
• Got really into gaming, learning how to play D&D, Magic and all kinds of other games that his mother doesn’t understand. His favorite thing to do is meet his friends at our Downtown gaming shop to play games for hours and hours.
• Graduated 6th Grade and started 7th.
• Turned 13.
• Became a yo-yo expert.
• Started shaving.

• Participated in our first presidential caucus. I was an alternate delegate and we enjoyed learning about the whole process during the local democratic convention. The kids came along with us to the caucus and enjoyed it far less than we did.
• Bought a raft.
• Celebrated Mothers Day on the river, in the rain (again).
• Celebrated our 2nd anniversary during a lovely, quick trip to Aspen.
• Successfully grew a small vegetable garden. All credit going to our automatic sprinkler system.
• Had our hearts broken over the election results.
• Celebrated birthdays, Fourth of July, Pumpkin Carving, Pie for Breakfast, Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house. We love that it’s a party house. We love filling it with our people (and good food!).

We go into this next year of double mind. Hopeful for what’s to come in our personal lives and cautious for what’s in store for our country. We’ll be focusing in on fewer things so we can do each of them better. And we will be resting more too. We will be working on ways to help our local community, looking for common ground and practicing radical love. Peace is a word that resonates deeply with me for the next year. We will continue to pray for it and do our part to bring it, in all aspects of life.

And finally, to sum it all up:
Life is sweet. And hard. And love always, always wins.

Every Instagram photo from 2016:

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Uncle David

December 24th, 2016 — 9:22am

I woke up early this morning thinking about my uncle. Uncle David died very unexpectedly last Christmas. It’s been so hard on my family, missing their dad, husband, brother and uncle. What a day to lose someone.

I’ve been thinking about what is probably my favorite memory of him: When my marriage fell apart I kept it to myself for several months. We were still living together in the same house and I could keep up appearances pretty well. I think I was disillusioned enough to think there was something I could do to fix it. It was not my proudest season of life.

When I decided to tell my family about what was going on, I went over to my aunt and uncle’s house to talk with them. I remember sitting in their living room on the couch, anxious to drop the news that my marriage had fallen apart, that I had been betrayed. Every time I told someone, it made it more real.

Upon hearing the news, my uncle put his head in his hand and sobbed huge, heaving sobs, so sad for me and the kids. And when he was able to speak again, he, along with my aunt, prayed earnestly for my little family. I knew they would be there (and they were) for anything I needed in that heartbreaking season.

This is the kind of man that he was. One who loved us all so deeply. He was there for nearly every significant moment in my life and many, many insignificant ones too.

He taught me to love my people deeply and that showing up and being present counts for everything. I know that we’re all missing him so much right now. But more than anything, I am so, incredibly thankful for the mark he made on my life and the legacy he left in the people he loved.

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Happy Everything! 2016

December 4th, 2016 — 7:49pm

Happy Everything! 2016 #tradition

A video posted by Allison Blevins (@pretendingsanity) on


Happy holidays, 2015 version.

A video posted by Allison Blevins (@pretendingsanity) on


Happy holidays, ya'll!

A video posted by Allison Blevins (@pretendingsanity) on

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happy thanksgiving

November 24th, 2016 — 10:41pm

Over the past few months I’ve watched several marriages fall apart and others go through some very hard things. I’ve been thinking so much about those three years of sheer suffering I went through while I fought to keep mine together, pleading and fighting and trying everything I could to keep a ship from sinking that had long been sunk. It was hard. It was terrible. And it was terrifying.

It’s hard to watch now in someone else’s life because I know just how it feels and I wouldn’t wish that brand of pain on anyone.
I get to observe these broken marriages with a clarity that only comes from hindsight. It’s easy to see the path through when you’re not the one hurting. And it’s hard to tell someone what to do with their life because the only person who has to live with the consequences of their choices is not me, but them. Life can be so messy. And so, so hard.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving.

Today I am thankful for pain. Pain is life’s great transformer, it changes hearts that are smashed into pieces into something new and beautiful. It’s never what we want, but oftentimes the only thing we need. Pain often does God’s work.

I learned to make pain my teacher, learn what I could from it, let it wash over me and embrace it. I was determined to learn every lesson I could from my tragedy and let it make me better. Pain was my healer.

Four years ago, our relationship budding and new, I ate pie for breakfast with Josh, hiked devil’s kitchen with Josh, cooked Thanksgiving dinner with Josh, realized I was falling in love with Josh. I didn’t know then that life would look like it does now, that he was the incredible man, father and husband that he is. I barely had a glimpse of the gift I was being given.

But Josh isn’t the hero of this story, he’s just part of it. He wasn’t what saved me, I was saved before we met.

It was the pain. I allowed it to open up my eyes, to burn everything to the ground so I could rise from the ashes. I did the long and hard work that it took to become a whole person. I cried a river of tears, looked deep within myself, and I healed, at first inch by inch and finally in leaps and bounds.

And because I healed I was given this full and wonderful life for which, today, and every day, I am so incredibly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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post post election

November 9th, 2016 — 10:38pm

Today I cried on the bathroom floor, back up against the cabinet, hands clutching the rug. I had to ask more than one family member today to not talk to me about politics, for the sake of our relationship.
Today one of my downtown business owners, and friend, drove to my office just to give me a hug. I’m pretty sure we voted for different candidates.
Today I had to show myself (and those around me) a mercy and unfollowed a handful of friends who were rejoicing in their newly-voted-for good fortune. It’s just too much right now.
Today I signed my family up to buy groceries for a single mom who’s only holiday wish was to give her four children a meal in which she didn’t have to restrict their portions, a meal where there would be more than enough.
Today I thought about the last 8 years and how the Republicans vowed to obstruct every action Obama took, just because he was a Democrat. And I knew that us progressives couldn’t stand for a reciprocation of those actions. I knew that it was time for us to lead by example, being the bigger people, because someone has to choose love first and we can’t afford to stand deadlocked.
Today I heard Hillary Clinton say, “Scripture tells us: Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”
Today there are threads of hope, silvery and strong.

click for Josh’s version of our 24 hours post-election

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Post election

November 9th, 2016 — 8:37am

Hate won.
How long will it keep on winning? How far and wide and deep will the aftermath be?
Who is left to stand up for what is good and true? Who fights for the marginalized, the minority, the abused, the broken? And for those of us who do, how futile will our efforts be?
How do we stand in the way of hate, abuse, discrimination, when we no longer have our government backing us?
I am afraid.
All around me I see darkness, growing ever darker. I don’t see the small, shining beacon of hope in the distance. I’m trying so hard to find it.

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September 27th, 2016 — 6:23am

I went to private Christian schools until I was in high school so every time I watch my children perform at one of their school musical concerts I’m struck with overwhelming thankfulness for the opportunities they have. It’s startling to me how well-rounded the education they are receiving is compared to the one I received.

While many people complain that we have terrible schools*, I am continually grateful for the schools my kids get to attend. I marvel at the work that middle school music teachers undertake. Many kids don’t get introduced to music until 6th grade and it makes me teary eyed to see how far these kiddos come and learn in their first year of middle school. I always feel so lucky and so, very thankful when I watch them perform. I can see on their faces the pride they take in what they’ve learned. These teachers are nothing short of miracle workers.

So let me extend this, my heartfelt gratitude, to each of you out there who give your lives to our children. You are heroes.

*While I think we have wonderful teachers (and therefore schools) here in d51, I do agree that something has to be done about our buildings, which are crumbling. We are one of the least funded districts in the state and that has to change. Our teachers, and kids, deserve better.


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September 14th, 2016 — 6:17am


We’ve been exploring our way through Portland as only we know how, by tasting it. In the mornings we make our way in to downtown on the train, Starbucks in hand, waiting until we can trade our white and green cups in for something truly hipster. We wander to coffee shops where there are only three things on the menu and it makes me wonder if it’s ok to ask for cream. It always is because people are so nice in Portland. So much more than in other big cities I’ve been to and even more so than in Western Colorado.

That’s the part that we keep being so surprised about, sure, we are finding all the hipster things that you’d expect from Portland (except I’ve yet to see anything with a bird on it) but no one is snobby about it. It’s just the way they happily choose to live their lives and it just seems so normal, it makes so much sense. And maybe they have something figured out because their kindness radiates in a way that’s startling.

But back to the food. We ate our first meal in Portland at a place called Lardo. Think about the best pork sandwiches you can imagine. God, everything was perfect. French fries with chunks of bacon and deep fried pork, flash fried sage and rosemary, topped with spicy, pickled peppers. We left off the Parmesan but I’m sure had I been able to eat it, it would have been amazing. And that was just the fries.

Dinner was at a farm-to-fork Mexican restaurant called Verde Cosina and it was fresh and flavorful with each ingredient working exactly as it should with the next. Who knew all I ever wanted with my carne asada was kale? My cousin picked it as her top choice in all of Portland and she was not wrong.

Today we explored the food trucks. There are food truck pods all over the city. I know this because Josh has mapped out every single one. We went to the largest pod. A whole city block lined on all four sides with food trucks facing out. How does one even choose?

We finished today with dinner at a James Beard Award winner. Pok Pok lives up to its hype with the most amazing blends of Thai flavors. It was hot, sour, salty and sweet. I’m still not sure what my favorite was between the three dishes we shared but they were nothing short of perfect. It was definitely a meal that we will be talking about for awhile.

And then even though we were so full we couldn’t even think of dessert, we managed to hit Salt and Straw when the line was barely there and it was seriously the best ice cream of my life. I had half a scoop each of bone marrow with smoked cherries and olive oil and they were so, so good.

Tomorrow we will eat our way through the northeast side of Portland and I’m sure it will be equally delicious. I can’t wait.


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Pacific North West

September 11th, 2016 — 6:15am


I’m laying in a tent on the Oregon coast. I can hear the crashing of the ocean, the fog horn from the Yaquina Bay Light House. Every once in awhile something will rile up the seals on the beach and they start barking, reminding me how very badly I just want to pet one.

Tonight we walked along the harbor, photographing the boats as the sun went down. We ate dinner at an amazing seafood place overlooking the harbor. Everything was so fresh, directly from the boats we looked down on as we ate.

We drove through the forest to get here, soaring trees so tall, that all I can do is stare at them. They have so much presence. We drove immediately to the beach. I’ve needed the ocean so badly. There is something so healing about the never ending crash of the waves, the way you never quite know how high or low the next one is going to be, the way the wind whips the clean smell of sea salt through my hair. This Colorado girl is never more thankful than when I get to eat seafood so fresh I can see exactly where it came from and walk, holding Josh’s hand, along the Pacific.


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Double taps

April 10th, 2016 — 5:20pm

Well, here’s a thing I know: I’ve been using social media to try to communicate and connect with the people around me.

It’s not working very well. 

Big life changes are getting brushed aside, lost in shuffle of Donald Trump articles and recipe videos. 

Or maybe no one cares? It’s hard to tell. 

What I’m feeling so acutely is that likes, emoji, double taps are all a counterfeit for real human connection. 

Nothing beats real words from a person to another person. And I think that’s what we all actually need. Connection. To feel like some really cares. To see a human make some effort to reach out to another human. 

Social media is my job and I like my job. But I don’t want it to infiltrate my life in the way that it is. It doesn’t feel very healthy. And it certainly doesn’t feel very authentic. It’s like watching a sunset on tv when you could just go outside and see the real thing. 

I don’t want to keep doing this, stuck in this artificial world we all experience through the screens on our phones. I want more. I want real. And I don’t want to keep feeling lost in the shuffle. 

1 comment » | daily, heart, ouch

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