As last year came to an end, I didn't reflect on my trip the way I wanted to, at least not here. I think I was grateful it was finally over and I wanted to forget about it. 2014 was my toughest year. Of all the heartbreak I've experienced, the deepest was felt last year. But the last two weeks of the year were a blessing. I visited my parents, giving me time to digest everything that happened, breathe, feel safe and--in the words of T-Swizzle--shake it off.

I love everything about my visits to Tennessee. As much as I hate the flight delays that I inevitably experience flying to and from Nashville, I sorta love them just as much. I enjoy sitting at the busy terminal and people watching (some people choose to travel in the craziest things!) and reading on the plane with the cabin lights dimmed, anticipating getting there.

There, a place vastly different from the desert Southwest. Where mom and dad greet their baby girl (that's me) with hugs and pure giddiness. Where cold air smacks you the moment you walk out of the sliding airport door, as if to say, "Oh hey Arizonian, this is what winter's supposed to feel like." Where you hurry to the car with your two suitcases full of presents and too many clothes. There, where worry and fear escapes from your body and is replaced with joy and love and you feel this perfect balance of feeling like a child and being an adult. There is a happy place.

The drive to my parents home--a small, white two-story house + big front porch that sites on 20 acres of land, with five dogs and one horse that keep the place company--takes about two hours. That's two hours where mom attempts to sleep in the back seat while dad and I sing (loudly + annoyingly) and dance (ridiculously + interpretively) to whatever's on the radio. After miles of curvy roads, dozens of turns, and feeling completely lost, we take the last turn down the gravel road to the happiest place I know, where the dogs greet me with muddy paws and slobbery kisses.

The days that followed on this last trip were full of laziness and rain and playing card games and board games and spending time with my brother and nephew. We went on walks and rode four wheelers and swung from the big oak tree in the front yard.  Mom, dad and I took the day after Christmas to wander around Leiper's Fork where we discovered the charming town for the first time. The drive was beautiful. On each side of the road was field after field and gigantic house + barn after gigantic house + barn (where people who don't ever worry about money undoubtedly live). I'm always amazed to discover the most beautiful places hidden in the middle of nowhere. I feel lucky to see such places and I'm grateful when I discover them.

Those two weeks were full of many moments and things that couldn't be any more perfect: resting on a bench nestled on the hillside at the park, the wind singing through the trees; endless cups of coffee that energized my soul; a home full of love and warmth and fun and play and laughter; getting lost on backroads in the rain; trips to town; watching Gilmore Girls while Molly Sue, my parent's yellow lab, snuggled beside me; and the beauty of simple ordinary things that surrounded me each day.

Everything that happened in the months before those last two weeks slowly started to escape into the shadows. And, as time carried us into the new year, I finally started to heal.

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