oh, so randomly. there you are.

In a new place, a disarming week(end) hits twice as hard.

You look to so many things to find a bit of yourself again. And then you find yourself on the floor.

Sitting in front of the speakers.

Watching/listening to this again:

http://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=396379992&mediaId=396382139

And there you are.

I love love her voice. I love love the way she dances. The two of them make me want to be a bit more of me.

Then [oh, so randomly. oh, so beautifully.] I’m unwrapping music boxes — ten of them — and putting the keys in them. Turning them ever so carefully. Listening to the ting of their music throughout the night. An hour after it was turned, it will still randomly ping.

music_boxes_bw

Stopping half-way through to FaceTime the bearded fiancé and open the next five with him. Smiling. Listening. Laughing.

And there you are.

[Thank you, Ashely, for sending me the wondrous Tiny Desk. xxo.]

he is my yes.

The past few weeks have been in-sane. I left Adventure Cycling and Missoula and start working at MercuryCSC tomorrow in Bozeman… which meant I had to move from Missoula to Bozeman this last weekend.

Evan has to stick around in Missoula until mid-May to finish up school, so moving was especially emotional. I didn’t want to leave him. On Saturday morning, after a late night of cheers-ing and crying with dear friends, Evan and I packed up the rest of our apartment into a U-Haul. We had one last moment together in the apartment where we made a home together and I just lost it. Cried so hard. I am so happy for these next steps. For Bozeman. But leaving the apartment where Evan and I fell harder in love, where we found our passions for what we want to do with our lives, where we really became a team… it was so hard. So hard to leave.

But Evan comforted me and we moved on down the road to our new chapter. Evan drove the U-Haul and I followed in our [newish – woot!] Subaru. A little over an hour into the drive, Evan exited. I didn’t really question it. Then he turned around and got back on the highway, going the opposite direction. I figured I’d wait until he called me and told me what he was doing, but then he exited at the first exit we came to — a rest stop.

– I missed the last rest stop and so I turned around for this one.

– Okay. You just went to the bathroom like less than two hours ago.

– I know. Don’t you have to go?

– No, but I guess I’ll try.

When I came out of the bathroom, I started walking towards the car when Evan came around and said…

– Hey, let’s go for a walk.

– Okay.

He took me a dozen yards over to this nice little spot. I was very confused. Evan then told me a bit of a story [after taking some deep breaths and maybe tearing up a bit].

When I was in my accident and they air-flighted me from Bozeman to Missoula, Evan drove our car back. We didn’t know if I would be okay. If I would make it. If I would be the same person the next time that we saw each other.

Evan told me that he got a phone call from our friend Jen [who had met me at the Missoula hospital when I arrived] on the drive, telling him that I was going to be okay. Evan told me that he immediately pulled off the highway, pulled into this rest area, and lost it. Cried so hard. He was so happy that he hadn’t lost me.

Evan asked me to walk a little more with him, over to this tree. He had some flowers and his bag and whatnot and I was shaking.

– I thought I could have lost you and I’m so happy that I didn’t. I never want to lose you again.

Then he got down on one knee and pulled out a beautiful ring box and opened it and said…

– Rachel Lauren Marie Ste–

And I cry-collapsed on him, nodding, as he finished…

– –vens, will you marry me?

I have never cried like that. I have never sobbed out of complete love, complete happiness. Obviously, I said yes…

where I collapse-tackled evan and said yes, in between sobs.

where I collapse-tackled evan and said yes, in between sobs.

WE’RE ENGAGED!!!!!

And he totally, totally, surprised me. As is evidenced by the complete moving outfit I’m wearing! The lack of make-up, the puffy eyes, and the fact that I’m wearing TOMS in public [I never wear TOMS in public! They’re moving shoes!]… all evidence of my complete shock.

Evan told me so many amazing reasons why he wanted to propose to me now. Those sentiments are near and dear to me and make me so happy. One of them was because I’m such a Sneaky Sneakerson and he knew I would be too distracted by moving and wrapping up projects to have any idea this was coming. STRONG WORK, EVAN. Mission accomplished.

WE'RE ENGAGED!

every girl dreams of getting proposed to at a rest stop. [but seriously, it was the best.]

I still can’t believe it. The ring is incredible, too. Evan mined a Montana sapphire [you heard right… he MINED IT HIMSELF] out of the Sapphire Mountains. And then he had my dear friend Laurel make a setting for it. It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. Thank you, Evan. Thank you for perfectly knowing me. Knowing us.

the_ring_this_other_way the_ring_this_way
Oh, and he made the incredible ring box. [pictures coming soon.]

And so, after a quick stop on our moving extravaganza to get engaged, we were back on the road. In separate cars. I called my family and a couple friends [don’t worry, Evan had made sure he put a hands-free device in my car], but I mainly just kept calling Evan and saying…

– Lady Fiancé here, lookin’ for Boy Fiancé. Boy Fiancé, do you copy? Over and out.

I couldn’t believe that we had to get to Bozeman still and unpack. When we finally got there, we opened our apartment door and looked around a bit before I heard this banging from upstairs. My first thought was, “What the hell? Is this apartment really going to be this noisy??”

We went around the corner and my amazing friends Anna, Dan, and their baby Jack [who I hadn’t met yet!] yelled “SURPRISE!” or “CONGRATULATIONS!” or something as they popped a champagne bottle! I don’t exactly remember, because I think I blacked out for a hot-second from joy-excitement. I made a cry face and thought I was crying, but no tears came… I think my body was like, “What are you doing to us here?! We’re out of tears! Go drink some water!”

It was just. the. best.

lovely jack.

jack’s like, “you two are engaged?! no way!”

They helped us move in [which, I mean, c’mon, how nice!] and then we went out to a celebration dinner.

trying to drink champagne AND show off the ring at the same time. I'm not too proud. WE'RE ENGAGED.

trying to drink champagne AND show off the ring at the same time. I’m not too proud. WE’RE ENGAGED.

The next day was filled with sunshine and hiking and laughing and so. much. love.

the_boys

the boys.

anna_Im_en_gaged

anna, I’m en-gaged!

the_walk

I love that they’re friends. I love love.

the_davishams

I can’t get over how much I love this family photo.

anna_and_ray

FRIENDS!

dannajack

amazing people. amazing family.

this_is_happening

we’re engaged!

what_is_happening

what is happening?!

knuckles

bam! the future mrs. and mr. smeethens.

It was the perfect engagement. It was the perfect weekend. I told Evan…

– We should get engaged every time we move! It really takes the edge off.

A huge weekend for the Smeethens. What a way to start a new chapter.

I could not be more thankful for the people in my life. I could not be more thankful for my one, my fiancé. I love you, Evan.

Thank you for being my yes.

lovely little things.

these days, I have to remind myself to stop and breathe in life. love the little lovely things.

like the awesome card from your bff:
bees_knees
or the valentine from your dear friends and their BABY… their beautiful, wonderful babe:
jack_valentine

or remembering to watch your all-time favorite movie near enough to valentine’s:

I swear I interpret this film differently every time I watch it. I love it.
and I’m determined to drink a blue ruin someday.

or giggling throughout the day at the misfortunes of your partner in crime.
[which might make me horrid.]

or the full-on incredible valentine’s present from your mom:
crystal_and_hef mom_note

the little lovely things.

pinging joy within.

xxo.

TWO.

Today has quietly come.

Last year, on January 21st, I finally exhaled. I had survived one year. I had made it a year since my huge — life threatening/changingaccident.

It’s been two years. Two years.

In 2013, I survived. It was a whole year in survival mode. A painful and fragile existence.

And then a year ago today, I promised myself I would go beyond surviving and start thriving. I would let myself live. I would start grabbing life by the balls… and mean it.

It was a promise.

And I did it. I thrived.

What a year.

There were many painful times. There were hard decisions and sleepless nights.

But I cannot let 2014 slip away without acknowledging just how incredible it was.

There was my first film festival.

And then a bike tour with an amazing friend.

bluebonnetsforfacebook[oh, that ended with us winning tickets to see my favorite band of all time and then us getting front-row passes for being awesome and wearing masks… NBD.]

Then having a story published about one of the best experiences I’ve ever had — bike touring with my mom.

the hug_rgb
And then another film festival. A big one. My first time in Canada.

Where we won an award that led to our debut on PBS. PBS.

10012770_824297047600329_4766137471563233147_o[I still feel like this every time I think about it.]

And then there were Texas times with my whole family and my best friend.

There was SCHLITTERBAHN.

Oh, and then another bike tour!

There was a 20 In Their 20s Award. [just in time.]

There was some of the most fun work I’ve ever done.

Oh, and yesterday I submitted two films for the 2015 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. [celebrate!]

And there was so much more. So many times and travels with loved ones.

July5
Love an joy in friends and family.

A deeper love for my one.

July20

A confidence in this beautiful life I’m leading.

Thriving.

my_one

Thank you, 2014 [and few parts of 2015, though, mainly you’ve been kind of a shit-show of horribleness… pull it together, 2015].

It’s been a real pleasure, 2014. Thank you for being so good to me.

Tonight, we’ll make a toast to 2014 and look forward to 2015.

For the two year anniversary, there is nothing but reflection. Nothing but absolute joy and gratefulness for this life.

I’m just so happy to be here. Beyond grateful for the goodness that goes beyond just being here.

Thank you for being a part of all of the beauty, the thriving.

And I got to see one of my favorites this year in a beautiful historic theater, from the balcony, with dearest friends:

[so much love.]

well, now I just want to ride my bike across the country on the northern tier.

This year has brought an abundance of exciting things. One of those exciting things was working with Epic Montana via Adventure Cycling to make the first episode in a series called, “Adventure Cycling Montana.”

I’ve plastered this short video all over the rest of my social media venues, but if you haven’t watched yet, I do think you’ll enjoy…


I also wrote a little behind-the-scenes blahg post about the whole experience over here. It was such an amazing experience. I still can’t get over that this was part of my job this year.

[exciting things.]