It’s our fourteenth wedding anniversary today. It feels good. Really good.

As I mentioned last week, to celebrate, Ben Blair and I climbed a 14er. 14,270 feet in elevation to be exact. I was warned how hard it would be, but I guess I didn’t really believe it, because the difficulty kept surprising me. The higher you get, the harder it is to breath. Headaches begin. Nausea visits. Dizzyness warns. During the last thousand feet of elevation, I had to fight my instinct to lie down and take a little nap on the freezing cold mountain.

Ben Blair, who is in much better shape than I, coached me gently to the top. The hike from beginning to end took us 3 hours and 15 minutes. I can’t remember ever pushing my heart that hard for that long.
I found when it was really difficult, if I would just focus on progressing a few feet in front of me, I was fine. And when I needed to stop and rest and let my heart rate try to reach some sort of normal, I was greeted by tremendous views every where I looked.

As luck would have it, at the top, views were completely obstructed by thick fog. But it didn’t matter a bit. The high was still a high. And happily, my iphone had perfect reception (possibly the one spot on earth with good AT&T; coverage) and I could tweet that we had made the summit. Tweet until my fingers were threatening frostbite and we headed back down on rubbery legs.

On our hike (when I still had breath enough to carry on a conversation) Ben Blair and I talked about some of the milestones of our marriage so far. Fourteen years ago we hadn’t even graduated from college. (I laugh when I remember how young we married.) Some of the highlights in no particular order: We graduated from college. We bought a house, then gutted it and refinished it. We moved to Greece. We moved to New York. We moved to Colorado. We went through several job hunts and landed great jobs. Ben Blair finished a masters and doctorate degree. We started several businesses. We closed several businesses. We sold our house. We built a ginormous table.
We had 5 children.

It is a wonderful thing to take part in a happy marriage. My relationship with Ben Blair is the very best thing in my life. Period.

On Sunday night, I was wandering through the blogosphere and was reminded of another anniversary — a miraculous one. Sunday was the one-year mark of Stephanie Nielson’s plane crash. To celebrate, Nie and Christian also climbed a mountain — a tougher climb than I could ever hope to attempt. Because they are total rock stars.

I was thinking about last year. About the auctions and fundraising. About seeing the blogging world come together in a mind-blowing way. And I had myself a little daydream. At the BlogHer conference each July, there is a Community Keynote. At the keynote, a group of bloggers gleaned by Eden Kennedy, each reads one of their significant blog posts. It is, without hesitation, the best part of the conference. How wonderful would it be to see Stephanie and her wonderful sister Courtney (who chronicled Stephanie’s journey when Nie couldn’t do it for herself) speak at the next BlogHer Community Keynote?

The conference is far away from their home. And of course, Stepanie can’t fly to New York. In my little daydream, a sponsor provided a retro styled Airstream Camper (wouldn’t that be perfect for Stephanie’s super-hip style?), and the whole family made their way leisurely across the country. Stopping at vintage diners along the way. Shopping for souvenirs. With Stephanie’s fans coming out to meet her, cheer her on, and thank her for living a inspiring life.

Of course, it was only a daydream. I have no idea if Stephanie and Courtney would even be interested. I don’t even know if Nie’s treatment regimen would allow it. (And really, as big as the BlogHer conference is, I know there are still thousands of bloggers out there who aren’t really aware of it — I believe Cjane and Nie fall in that category.) But I think the blogging community would love to hear from them in that sort of setting. To hear in person what it was like to wake up and find out you’d missed a few months of your life. To look in the mirror and see a face you don’t recognize. To find out thousands of people you’ve never met have rallied on your behalf and are hanging on your every word.

Dear Stephanie, congratulations on reaching your significant and magnificent goal. You did it! You climbed the mountain. I tear up just thinking how hard you worked to get there. I think you’re amazing.

48 thoughts on “Anniversaries”

  1. Thank you for writing about Nie's anniversary. Her milestone has haunted me for the last couple days as I try to process what she's gone through and how it felt for her to be on top of that mountain after this last year. I love your BlogHer idea, that would be enough incentive to get me to attend.

    Congratulations on your own milestone as well. 14 years is nothing to sneeze at, how wonderful to see a happy and strong marriage at work.

  2. Congratulations on 14 years! Just think of all the amazing milestones yet to come!

    I'm truly inspired by Nie NIe and her family. I think they have shown so many of us what a true, brave heart really is. I've followed her story and am still in awe how she has handled the past year with Grace, love and appreciation.

  3. Beautiful post. I have had Nie's year anniversary on my mind every minute the last few days and am continually humbled by the way she endures and perseveres through her hard times in such a celebratory and grateful way. I love her, even though I've never met her. And congratulations on the big 14:)

  4. Congrats on 14 years! I paused for thought when you typed that your relationship with Ben is the most important thing in your life. Just wonderful. It's the way it should be!
    And I for one would definitely help bring your daydream to fruition if Nie was interested. I think we could easily make it happen!

  5. I've always thought it would be fun to do a mini-blogher-type event here in Utah. Maybe we could have them speak at that!

    Congrats on 14 years. You guys are awesome.

  6. Congratulations to you both and the Nielsons, really.

    Now, PLEASE forgive me for wiggling an electronic finger at you, but you had classic symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. You came back from it OK, but you also had a classic case of what we outdoorsy folk call "summit fever." AMS can escalate into more serious problems and no summit is worth making yourself sick (or worse). Sorry to be a wet blanket, but if the altitude is making you sick the best thing to do is go back down. Next time you try a high-altitude hike take ginkgo biloba for a week or so in advance – it works for some people in preventing or ameliorating AMS, (although there is of course conflicting scientific data). Spending at least one night at higher altitude right before your hike is the only proven way to lessen or prevent AMS.

    Oh, and I've had summit fever and totally disregarded my AMS symptoms too – I learned the hard way!

  7. gabrielle! lovely. you and ben blair are lovely.
    i love your posts, your photos, your insights, design-related and otherwise.

    but this i love the most.
    here's to many more fourteens.


  8. Thank you for mentioning Nie…I had heard of her before but never followed her blog. I sure will now…wow. What an amazing journey. I am humbled by her strength, faith, and determination.

  9. Congrats on 14. Today we reached 11!

    And YES I third and fourth and fifth Nie and CJane at the next Blog Her. I've never been. But it sounds great. and even if I can't attend… I know it will be BLOGGED ABOUT!

    xoxo MMW

  10. Congratulations on 14 years of marriage and climbing that mountain.

    I have tears streaming down my face as I read about Nie. Your idea would be awesome!

  11. Yay for 14 years, and I couldn't agree with you more on the Nielson's hike up the Y–I've never been more inspired in all my life.

  12. It was my anniversary yesterday too! 5 years actually. I got all teary eyed when I read the things ya'll (yes i'm from the south) have been through over the years, right now we're looking for a job, trying to get through a masters, we have 2 children, (I want 5). So anyways as I was reading, I was thinking Wow, that could be us in 10 years, can't wait, but then I thought, I need to cherish the now. Its hard but I love it! Congrats on 14 years, and all your accomplishments!!!

  13. This post brought tears to my eyes. I think you and Ben are an inspiration on family and marriage.

    And, your daydream about Nie. That would be absolutely wonderful! I hope this idea comes into reality.

  14. Fab idea….I love NieNie and Cjane, they are such lovely voices and inspiring women….I would love to see and hear them and I bet there are sponsors out there who might fund their trip to Blogher. Worth a try, wow! They are stars…and so are you! Many happy returns of your anniversary day. My sweet hubby and I celebrate 39 years in Nov. A good marriage is the finest blessing.

  15. Many congratulations on both your anniversary and your first fourteener. I believe that you're not a real Colorado resident until you've summited a peak here.

    There are many life lessons to be learned from climbing a mountain and you've pointed out many of them in your beautifully-written post.

    Here's to another 14 and another peak!

  16. It will just get better and better.
    Thanks for your positive nature and for helping us all to know Stephanie and Christian as well. I got to give her a hug one Sunday. She is a marvel. Hugs…

  17. thanks for posting this. Happy anniversary and lets pull our strings together and try to get C Jane and Nie Nie out to BlogHer. Those blogs inspire me daily

  18. I follow both of those blogs and am continually amazed at both of these sisters. I love your idea…. if only you needed to run through Seattle on your way to NY:)

  19. Gabby, it would only be appropriate if you joined us in the airstream. After all, it was Design Mom who brought to the world the story of our family. Meet you in Denver?

    p.s. I am glad you married Ben Blair 14 years ago, however, had you not I would've at least tried to marry him myself. Jokes for eternity? How could you not?


  20. 14 years is awesome! congrats! i'm kindof new to your fabulous blog, and it is always so thrilling to hear about major milestones! (to me, married for 14 years is a major milestone in this world.)

    i'll sign any list/petition WHATEVER to get nie nie to blogher. surely, there are some smart & rich sponsors out there that can read your incredible dream and start the journey plans for the entire family! what a moment that would be! although, her moment on top of the mountain…moved me in soooo many ways. sniff sniff. what an incredible vision you have.

  21. So Courtney has seen this post. Excellent. ….We'll see what happens next year?!

    Congratulations on the anniversary. I'm 11 1/2 years away from that marker.

    love the blog. I'm sure New York misses you.

  22. Thank you. Congratulations. I'm so proud of you, too.

    The support for Nie and their family was so cool to see. It's one of the reasons why I blog. To see such greatness come from average folks. (or who are perceived as average – we all know the average is full of fabulousness!)

  23. Don’t know how I missed this beautiful Mountain Climbinb Essay!
    It really brought joy and peace into my life today as I read it.
    Gabby and Ben are amazing and wonderful and beloved!
    julia b

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