Moving In 101

Earlier this year, in June, after over half a year together, Chelsea and I decided to move in together.

This was a relatively easy choice; it made sense for us financially, it made sense for where we were in our relationship, and also, as mature, young adults, it would allow us to keep growing in our relationship and sharing our lives together.

When you are not living with your partner, there is a limitation for what you can share.

How long do they brush their teeth?

How much do they snore?

How many times does their alarm clock go off in the morning?

How do they fold their laundry?

How do they plan for the week?

Do they sing in the shower?

Do they clean up after themselves?

Do they have a routine for paying the bills?

Do they cook dinner or eat out?

There is so much that co-habitation can teach you. And, when the time is right, it is a stretching, meaningful, and frankly, incredibly important experience.

Knowing that Chelsea was the person I wanted to fully, 100% commit to, I knew that moving in was the next step in the long journey of a relationship. It certainly was not something we decided overnight. We discussed what that would mean over the course of weeks and months – even while I was away in Rwanda earlier in the year. When I came back, and we got more serious, we began to openly discuss what a shared, co-habituating life would mean for us. One day, after church, we sipped coffee at a trendy coffeehouse in Uptown for several hours as we talked about the different ins and outs of living together. We even wrote up notes on this conversation.

We talked about our expectations, our hopes, and our dreams. We talked about chores, about work-life balance, and about taking Sabbath. We discussed how we would pay for groceries and also, who would cook, when. We brainstormed how we could differentiate for what this season would be in our lives, versus when we get engaged, get married, and the like. From the beginning of our relationship, it has been important for us to take every season in stride, for what it is, and for why it has meaning. For example, when we were dating, we tried visiting new places, often and frequently, so we could learn more about one another. Once we got promise rings for each other, the conversations intensified, and we began to share our dreams for the future and what those could look like if they were fused together.

On our move-in day, I was jubilant. It was happening!

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In seven (long) hours we consolidated our stuff from each of our homes into the new one that we were starting together. We ate Qdoba on our first night in our new place, and I was so happy that “home” was inclusive of a place we shared together. In the months that followed, we learned a lot about each other. For example, Chelsea is a diligent rice cooker (who knew?). That’s her domain, without any question. However, if we need to experiment or change something up in a recipe, I’m your girl. Quickly, we learned our strengths (and weaknesses) and played to them.

Moving in together is a big deal. Moving in together is a huge step and should be taken when the relationship has two, committed people, in it for the long haul. Living together should be an intentional step too, ensuring that both people are on the same page for what responsibilities they have and how it will affect the relationship.

Of course, when we made the decision to move forward in it, old memories of “wait until you get married” and “whatever you do, dont live in sin” came flooding back. These old, traditional mantras always do. There is so much fear-loaded rhetoric for young people to move in with their significant others.

Like the plethora of pumpkin flavors at Trader Joe’s in the fall, unspoken and spoken moral codes are often the most pervasive when it comes to thinking about the “right way” to live your life. And, I get it. Moving in with your partner should be an informed, thoughtful decision. Yet, I think we can do more to educate youth on what that means and the kinds of conversations we can have around those choices.

If we are so busy telling people not to live together, we miss the opportunity to have the conversation about what happens when it happens. Because, that’s the thing. It will happen.

What I have so loved about living with Chelsea has been that we have been able to build a strong foundation for our lives. We, literally, are getting practice for sharing the load of adulthood, and still making space for ourselves, each other, our faiths, and the many other things that we love. Like sports, living together has taught me about teamwork and partnership. It has also taught me how to be present in the best (and worst) times of another person (and vice versa). Living with another human brings down the walls of facades; no longer will you be the public persona of yourself.

In the end, you will just be, you.

You have to be ready to show the “real” you if you’re willing to move in with someone. You have to be ready to be vulnerable, honest, and humble.
You have to be ready to be an active participant in someone else’s life – not just your own.

These are real measures of maturity in a relationship. I am beyond grateful to be experiencing – and learning from them. We have not had a perfect ride, by any means, but we have been open. It has made all the difference.

Relationship education is a growing need our world desires. I wonder what it would be like to emphasize the opportunity for conversation around growing up, adulthood, and partnership. These are the real conversations. I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t had them and for future generations, I hope we can start having them too.

There is no list to follow, there is no how-to-guide. Instead, moving in with another person is about knowing yourself, knowing your partner, and knowing where you are headed. This takes a lot of self-awareness, faith, and gusto – not just for the first few months, but for the long haul. Sharing your life is a big deal. Let’s not forget that.

I have never been happier in a home than I have with Chelsea. Perhaps, ironically, it is because moving in was not only about creating a real, physical, and tangible home together but also, starting (and growing) a home between us. This takes work. Every. Single. Day. However, it is a gift and I hold that close and dear to my heart.

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street signs.

Summer seasons are often full of long, lazy days in the parks, taking in the sun, and the people, with friends. I love these days; they are full, but they are restful. Another part of summer, at least twice in the last two years, has been moving and changing locations.

Last year, I moved from the outer suburbs of Denver into prime real estate: Washington Park. I packed my bags and hunkered down in a 1-bedroom, sharing the house with three other young female professionals. It was exactly what I needed at the time – urban living, a fun neighborhood, and a bit more walkability to the places around me. I was close to Pearl Street and DU, so there were always exciting things happening.

Of course, in the last year, a lot has changed. And with those changes, I took another dive into a big move this summer, moving in with Chelsea. We had discussed it at length, even from the beginning of our relationship, understanding that things were, in fact, serious. We decided that as our leases eased closer to finishing (both ending on the exact same day) we would evaluate if living together was the next best thing.

And, in the end, it was. Living together isn’t a decision to be taken lightly; a lot can change, and more responsibility looms – to the relationship, and for your partner. However, I wouldn’t move in with just anyone; and knowing that Chelsea and I are a forever-kind-of-thing made this decision quite easy.

Let’s do it, we said.

We relocated to East-Central Denver, on the edge Hilltop, in the budding neighborhood of Lowry. Lowry, or Lowry Field as the neighborhood is also called, is on the site of the former Lowry Air Force Base. The Air Force Base trained military members, of all branches, for 57 total years, with a focus being air and space technology in the late 1950s. Interestingly, during this time, Dwight D. Eisenhower kept his summer home in Denver, in Lowry, with frequent stops on his plane, “the Columbine” on the base. The base closed in 1994 after it graduated 1.1 million Armed Forces. Since then, the city has initiated redevelopment efforts for the community, creating a space that is mixed-use, mixed-age, and mixed-race. Better yet, it’s home to over 800 parks and open space – about 20% of all Denver park acreage in Denver!

Our home is spacious and comfortable, with a gym on the first floor of the apartment (lifting weights just got easier). Most mornings, I write or read on our large patio, listening to the humming of the water foundation below. We’ve scoped out the nearby ice cream parlors, Rocket and High Point Creamery, and we’re game for walks at the park nearby, Crestmoor.

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Most of my life in Denver has been spent on the Southside (do people even say that here? Maybe?) so it is nice to mix it up, and enter a new community. Ironic, because now, we’re only blocks away from the first home I ever lived in – my parents’ home on Poplar, not far from Fairmount Cemetery. Life’s wonderfully ironic sometimes.

My favorite part of living together has been sharing meals, coming home to someone, and having easy access to my rollerblading buddy on the weekends. There’s a lot of small reasons why living together is great, but mostly, it’s just nice to share life with someone.

My drive to work from our new place is relatively straightforward; I head north on Monaco and then due west on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The drive is both tranquil and picturesque, lined with large, old, overhanging oak trees in the median and outer edges of the traffic lanes. Historic homes are everywhere in this part of town, complete with old bricks and ominous, circular pillars.

However, as I’ve adjusted to my commute, I have started noticing more and more of what’s around me. What I’ve seen, a lot more than what I used to see in the Washington Park community, is the prevalence of homelessness.

As I get closer to Northeast Park Hill (which has a median income of $37,468.06, as opposed to the median income of $88,479 in South Park Hill), I traverse through different socio-economic classes and a variance of make-ups in Denver’s community.

Intentionally, I started reading and keeping note of the some of the signs I would pass on these short drives. Some said:

“Family in need.”

“Veteran & hungry.”

“Anything helps.”

These are street signs of course, but it made me wonder, why do people write what they do on a sign that can fit 10 words – max? More than that, though, I’ve been contemplating what is happening in Denver’s migration (in and out) and how it’s affecting people who have lived here a very long time.

Just the other morning, I passed these same streets and saw a woman with a walker standing on the curb, again, with a sign. How did this happen? What brought her to this place? I felt not pity, but a helplessness that I have not felt for quite some time. I didn’t know what to say, and more obviously, I didn’t know where to look. It hurts, sometimes, to look someone with that kind of pain in the eyes. It’s important, though, I think to regard someone’s humanity in the moment. So, I looked, and the light turned green, and I drove by.

Another morning, another day.

Denver is not what it used to be. Old neighborhoods are gentrified; gangs are becoming pushed to smaller parts of historic neighborhoods and we are left with something of a huge problem. This city can only fit so much.

What will happen with the people on the margins?

I have found a new home, but I can’t help but wonder and ask what will happen with others. I see these street signs popping up and I don’t know what to do. The signs point to something larger, and perhaps, like old prophecy, we are left to decipher and await new meaning for what’s happening to our city, and hence, what’s happening to our people.

We assume people on the side of the road are after drugs or haven’t tried a shelter. That could be true, but I am left with a stronger sense of I don’t know. I don’t know what their stories are. We, if we are to be honest, don’t know as much as we think we do.

Our city is changing, and changing fast. The average rent, for a one-bedroom is $1,413, monthly[1]. There are a lot of reasons to come here, to be sure, but I hope that the swiftly changing demographics of our city doesn’t to continue to harm only certain groups of people.

I’m a beneficiary of these changes, I can afford rent here – at least for now.

However, it’s still difficult to see individuals (and families), stuck in the middle of somewhere in between, unable to make ends meet. Moving has opened my eyes up to this, and I will continue to keep my eyes open, waiting, watching, and looking for a way to find the answer for what we do amid all these tensions.

[1] https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-denver-rent-trends/

the valley of ukwezi

Poplar Street; Norfolk Street; 44th Avenue; Rifle Street; Iran Street; Veasey Hall; Umubuga Village; Gacuriro Sector; Otero Place.

Just to name a few.

I’ve lived in all sorts of different kinds of places; the American Suburbs, early 90’s neighborhoods in Denver, vintage college dormitories, newly furnished campus apartments, tin-roofed homes in Rwanda’s countryside, and castle-esque mansions in Kigali’s tucked away urban hills.

I didn’t even really know the name of my Kigali neighborhood until, like, two days ago. Kind of pathetic, honestly, when you’ve been staying there for over two months. In Rwanda, community names are structured in a relatively orderly fashion. From the most localized level to the broadest, the breakdown is as follows: village (umudugudu), cell (akagali), sector (umurenge), district (akarere), and province (itara).

The Women’s Bakery is in the process of organizing a bread demonstration event for Rwanda’s Global Entrepreneurship Week; we are planning to showcase our baking process with local women in our nearby market so we have a solidified relationship with where our office is located.

Confession: I put the wrong community names on the initial registration form. Oops? That’s a hard sign that you should probably dig a bit deeper into where you are. And so, I finally have the cell name memorized. Phew. And even better, I can give motorcycle drivers a better sense of where I live when getting rides home. Excellent.

With this new information in mind, I went on what I would call an “exploratory run” several evenings ago. At just around 5, right when the sun was finally cooling from the day, I began my ascent up the hill to our nearby “black road.” Important fact: 5pm is the pedestrian rush hour of Rwanda. I ran into men, women, children, all coming home from long days at school and work. As per usual, I listened to occasional hissing noises (common to appeal for attention), calls for “umuzungu,” and general surprise as they watched a white girl with heavy breaths, sweat, and black nike shorts run past them.

All this just made me tired. No, not the running, but the ever-present commentary on my existence. It’s to be expected, of course, but I could feel myself slipping into honestly, a whiney attitude, as I turned further down the road. Man, I really am tired of having to listen to this. I really wish I could turn up the music on my IPOD…

Right in that moment, as I prayed for some sense of peace to relax on my run, a neighborhood shop-keeper from my village greeted me. A dearly sweet man, I smiled and greeted him enthusiastically. Okay, I can do this. Keep your head up, girl.

So I did. And then, because of the exploratory nature of this jog, decided to head into the valley below our home upon a hill. I left the crowded black roads and opted for a light, dusty road that guides walkers with wood-bridges over swampy grasslands. The valley crept upon me, and in just a matter of minutes, I was seeing a Kigali I had never seen before.

Smoky, grey, smelly, and full of stench – this is not the Kigali people usually visit. I could feel the culture shock seeping deeply and rapidly into my veins. This was not in the intensity of seeing the rural village areas for the first time; this was different. Perhaps because it was so close to my home, but also because these kinds of places in Kigali are truly tucked away from the general public eye. Homes are stacked upon each other – 1,2 room plots holding who knows how many people. Charcoal stoves are everywhere. Rags. Litter. Pollution. It was overwhelming. I kept running. Mostly because I didn’t know what else to do. I realized quickly that the wooden path ahead led back to an intersection near my home. Perfect Couldn’t have planned that any better.

I maintained my 10:00 mile pace through the valley and encroached a football field. Almost there.

With just a few minutes left to reach my goal of 4 miles, I ran faster. As I sped up, I passed by a middle-aged woman carrying a bulky, burdensome black bag. I heard a small nudge. After your run, go back. Help here.

What. Realllllllyy?

I just wanted to go back home. Back to my comforts of water filters, couches, and 4,000 square feet of freedom. Go back.

So, obediently, I did. I introduced myself.

Mwiriwe, ndashobora gufasha….” (Hello, I can help you…)

She hesitantly passed her bag over, uncertain of my end-game. I told her I just wanted to help her because while running, I saw her struggling, and knew I had a few minutes I could offer. God told me to, I said. She flickered a look of relief, and the conversation continued.

Nitwa Bernadette,” she muttered. She told me she worked for one of the government’s ministries as a cleaner. Her back hurt. She was tired. Worn down. She needed to get home. She had 4 grown children, but she still had obligations in her household so they could continue to study and maintain a functional life. She escorted me through the over-populated village. We stepped to the side and worked through a maze of doors, apartments, sewage, and people. What was this place?

When we finally reached her home, we set that dang black bag down. I was exhausted. I was….well, I just couldn’t believe there were people living like this just 4 minutes away from the home in which I was staying. Life is weird.

We prayed together. I prayed that God would protect her home; bringing comfort and security in Him, no matter what the physical structure of the walls were made of. When she was showing me the way out, so I could get back home, she told me the name of the village proudly.

Ukwezi.

Over the corner and to the side, the parallel village name was Izuba. Moon (ukwezi) and Sun (izuba). I found this ironically perfect. It might just be the name of the place, but for many, these are the names of home.

That’s why it’s important, I see now. Because these structures, community naming systems, and identifications provide a way for people to share a piece of their life.

I can’t reconcile all of the complications of this feeling. I can’t explain what it feels like to be so obviously blessed in the midst of such hidden and obvious poverty. I do know, however, that guilt is not what God is calling us to live into, and so just because we don’t have answers, doesn’t mean we can’t exist in these kinds of tensions. It’s evil in the world. But we exist as light; therefore, we don’t have to run just away from these complexities just because we don’t understand. That’s freedom, and I thank God for that. We actually are able to live in accordance with His will, if we are willing to try. Moreover, something God has been teaching me in a variety of ways is understanding that His blessings are not without purpose. So, instead of feeling guilty that you have blessings – financially, intellectually, physically, etc. – you can actually steward and share them. Bam! That’s called freedom, y’all.

So, I know that I can humble myself – even in a lack of comfortability – and walk or run that direction, knowing that I might just encounter someone who could use a bit of help. Heck, that person in need of help could very well be me.

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looking down into the valley.

the walls of our house; adjacent to the valley.

that colorado magic

If you want battleship on a Friday night over a craft beer, visit Jake’s. A lemon-ginger light ale will bring joy even to the more heartier beer types. Myself included.

For mythological creatures on a cold afternoon (because it’s Colorado and it can snow in May), try the Denver Museum for Nature & Science. If you need coffee, you can find Pablo’s just a few miles South. Pablo’s is organic, “green” coffee (whatever that means, honestly, other than the fact that it tastes as smooth as a freshly opened bottle of Red wine) that was one of Denver’s first coffee roasters. It’s tasty.

The Alamo in Littleton combines the classic drive-ins with a modern, sleek edges (healthy food, too!); the Tattered Cover satisfies the literary types with comfortable chairs that allow for imaginations to run wild in politics, creative non-fiction, and travel books. Just to name a few.

Our towering rocks with a sandy, burnt dust color were once used by the Ute tribes and now find themselves home to ambitious Denver runners, the Fray, the Eagles, and Tracy Chapman. Anyone, really, who’s “made it,” At Red Rocks, anyone can sound good.

There are other things, things in between county lines, homes, and mountain ranges that are a bit harder to capture. You know, that thing of home. How can you really describe the moments that comprise a vacation that includes a shared meal with family for Mother’s Day? A wine-tasting party that has grandma sitting next to her daughter sitting next to her daughter. Or maybe, it’s the long walk you took, to nowhere in particular, losing track of time (even with the rubbing sole of your boot digging into your heel) because just being together is enough. These are the parts of vacation magic that don’t have a ‘yelp’ rating, a review, or an easy way of promoting. They’re good enough, just as they are. Sharing this life is sweet, like molasses on top of a ginger snap cookie. Sweet, because mostly it doesn’t have to make sense. It’s good enough, even as a standalone.

Colorado – home – always has been.

Lauren and I couldn’t stop saying #butforreal, discussed the metaphorical meanings of the Avengers, looked at old photos, watched Land Before Time, and went hiking. We did a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Colorado makes it easy in this way; with so many hidden gems, there is always something to do, something to see, something to explore. A year ago, I was recently coming home from a journey that I had hardly begun to process.

This time, I’m headed on another journey, having had processed more, finally realizing that processing our past events takes a really, really, uncomfortably long time do so. I’m leaving, but I’ll be back.

I was lucky that in between I could be filled up by someone who knows me well. Someone who knows my rambunctious spirit, someone who hears the details I hang on to, and who has been there for so much of the previous transitions in my life – college, hockey, post-graduate life, etc. Our talks, whether in a duct-taped car, along the treacherous dirt paths (none of which we are sure we are walking correctly on), or in my cozy living room, make for comfort and the sense that hey, I’m right where I need to be.

Colorado is, always will be, and couldn’t not be home. I don’t need to make a hard sell. I think it speaks for itself. And yes, Casa Bonita is involved. Guilty as charged.

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Aurora: the natural light

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky (from the Latin word aurora, “sunrise” or the Roman goddess of dawn), predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions.

Aurora, Colorado, 2009

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I have been reading through my old angsty college-aged journal entries and I have found frequent musings regarding the concept of place.

It was an important topic to me at the time. Especially as I was traveling, engaging with other places in the country and the world, I couldn’t help but consider the place I had come from.

I loaded up in buses with my hockey teammates all over the South and Midwest; took mission trips to the Delta; traveled globally; and even wrote my senior thesis about the idea of “place” in urban areas (focusing in New Orleans) and how poverty affected geographic boundaries and youth development.

It was fascinating to me.

However, I can’t help but think, girl. How little you actually knew.

While I appreciated my place of origin – beautiful Colorado – I wrote about how my neighborhoods, high school, and community as if it lacked any form of diversity or difference. I acted as if I had grown up in a suburban-snooze, with no sense of culture.

Aurora, I would write, as if I was lamenting about some pre-described, orderly white-picketed fence safe haven.

In a way, I might have been right. Yet, mostly, I just didn’t know. I didn’t have the eyes to see. I didn’t have the experience or the tools or even the resources to know where I could find the very thing I yearned for: difference.

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John Lewis writes,

We must not turn away from one another. We must not retreat into separate tribes of like-minded, like-looking people who worship the same God, wear the same clothes, read the same books and eat the same food as one another. This is the way of exclusion, not inclusion. We cannot afford going this way. If we are to survive as a society, as a nation, we must turn toward one another and reach out in every way we can. It is not a choice; it is a necessity. We need to listen to one another, to look, to open our minds as well as our hearts.  (Walking with the Wind, 1998)

John Lewis is a Congressman in Georgia and a major leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. His call for unity – especially as I heard him speak at a conference in North Carolina my sophomore year of college – pushed me to think, what can I do to SEEK and ENGAGE that which is different?

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This planted a seed that grew into a journey that has become a passion. And now, it’s brought me back home.

So, when I read those old journal entries, frustrated that I couldn’t find what was “different” in Aurora, I literally LAUGH.

On paper, Aurora has demographics that are sometimes surprising for typical suburban areas. The latest census reports that over 61% of the population is white, 15.7% is African-American, nearly 5% is Asian, almost 29% of any listed race is Hispanic or Latino, and a great deal of other racial categories are listed as well. It’s quite diverse.

My dad moved to a neighborhood on the border between North Aurora and Denver that has Russians, Burmese, Somali, and Mexicans in a variety of neighborhoods. Immigrants and refugees don’t only exist within his community lines, he teaches these very students at the academically successful Overland High School. He’s been doing this for nearly 27 years.

More than just race, Aurora was actually the first city in the United States to have a female mayor when Norma Walker took over in 1965.

Someone reminded me that it was Cherry Creek Park, back in the early 90’s that World Youth Day was hosted. I was too young to remember, but apparently hundreds of thousands of people went, including Pope John Paul II.

The Broncos Practice Facility is arguably located in Aurora too. Well, okay, it’s not. It’s technically located in Englewood, but I would like to note that it’s only a hop-skip away from the Aurora border-line.

Since I’ve come back to the Aurora area it’s been freakishly easy to appreciate.

I have started attending church at Colorado Community Church in the heart of Aurora; this is a place of worship and friendship and fellowship that’s allowed me to make friends 10, 20, or 30 years older than me. I have discovered kinship in a Ugandan friend here, I have been honored to take part in a community group every Sunday that has people from all walks of life. My Sunday family breaks bread together just as we are; whether we have Cerebral Palsy, struggle with finances, or have started a new family.

Along Colfax Avenue, I have visited Rwandans, eaten at legitimate Moroccan eateries, and have seen construction of the planned unveiling of “the African Mall” – an urban development for a one-stop shop for African food, markets, shopping, and culture. NPR ran an interesting story about these cultural developments that can be read and listened to by clicking the link below:

Aurora’s Ethnic Richess

I have ran on the nature trails out by my mom’s new home in South Aurora, near “Southlands”. Even in the midst of suburban sprawl, it’s immensely beautiful. There’s a bit of country left out by their home – adjacent to a super-mall, believe it or not – and I remember thinking, what a wonderful place to live.

There’s all kinds of food, frozen yogurt shops, malls, and coffee shops. A new one that I tried last week – where I happened to meet a new Cameroonian friend for coffee – was established by an Israeli.

It’s not like diversity can only be fueled by color, race, or place of origin. I’m seeing diversity in other things too. There’s a lot to do; you can run, swim, climb mountains, join a fitness club, start cross-fit, go to museums, peruse libraries, shop in local boutiques or massive chain stores, and learn how to paint, or attend your choice of wine tastings & bars. People got stories here. It’s just about finding them.

Aurora has both Democrats & Republicans.

Aurora has a mix of schools, churches, and organizations to boot. On the way to my high school alma mater I can pass the booming cross of the Catholic house of worship and a few miles North would see several buildings for the Korean Christian Church. The Adventists once built a church in just under a week right by Parker & Arapahoe. Impressive.

Aurora is very, very different. When I thought otherwise, I had the classic case of “blinders”. More than that, I simply did not know how to look for that kind of thing.

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Apparently, I needed to leave, see the world, and come back to see all that’s happening in my little hometown.

And “little” ain’t the case; the town is its own rightful entity outside of Denver – having nearly half the number of the major city’s residents (over 300,000).

Besides the “All-America City” signs I see around town, my grandma – who has worked for the city for over 10 years in the municipal court – tells me that Aurora is also considered the “gateway to the Rockies” or the “sunshine of Colorado”.

What a completely appropriate name for what Aurora means anyway.

It’s been the light showing me the right direction all of these years and I just couldn’t see it most of the time. Aurora is a great city. Never more have I appreciated this place. It’s ironic now that I’m a Centennial resident, but let’s be real, a large chunk of my time is back in what is lovingly called “A-Town.”

As the world is in up in arms over cyber war-fare, and our country is exposing areas of existing racial tension, it’s more and more clear to me that we must heed to what John Lewis advises in his wisdom above. Inclusion.

If Aurora can do this, it will continue to be that light that it has its namesake from. I encourage you, whether you live in Aurora, in Denver, in Texas, in New York, or somewhere entirely outside the country, to purposefully seek what you do no know. Find what is unfamiliar. When you do, you’ll be surprised at the things you will learn. The process has proved true for me – and it’s been about the very place I was raised and grew up as a young girl. The world really can surprise us.

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