The Sunk Costs of Being Special

The Sunk Cost Fallacy describes our tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits…The sunk cost fallacy means that we are making irrational decisions because we are factoring in influences other than the current alternatives. The fallacy affects a number of different areas of our lives leading to suboptimal outcomes.” 

I was always told I could be special. I wanted to be special. I wanted to be seen and I was willing to do the work.

I will start with a confession.

Earlier this week, after the January 6, 2021 United States Capitol Insurrection, I messaged a friend, asking him to look at a couple of aggressively far right Facebook pages. The pages I was directing him to are riddled with mean-spirited memes sprinkled in between “our God is the right God” posts, “we are true patriots” posts, “pray for Trump our great and misunderstood leader” posts, “disparaging Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Obama,” posts (obviously),” “ANTIFA stormed the Capitol, not the peaceful rightwing patriots” posts, “the 2020 election is a fraud stolen by an evil cabal of child molesters” posts, and of course, “Mitt Romney has chosen the side of the devil,” posts. I asked my friend to look because I wanted someone else to validate the incongruous hate I saw. I wanted my friend to see. Then I wanted him to understand. 

He read. He laughed. He questioned. He understood. Then he “absolutely” agreed with me. And I felt special.

What I struggle to reconcile is that the beliefs conveyed within posts like these often come from people I love, respect and admire. The particular posts I directed my friend to come from the Facebook pages of the husband and wife who introduced my family to the Mormon Church. And you know what? I was always told they were special. To this day, if you were to ask one of our peers who was the most admired, most special member of our congregation, it would be them. It would not matter if they went to jail or if I cured cancer. I get it. They would always win. They were intoxicating. They were also the LDS (*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) people I believe we were raised to aspire to be. Consequently, we never dared to question their motives. We definitely believed in the vitamins they were selling and the end-of-the world prophecies they were preaching. I also believed if I could be like them, that if I could live like they did and believe in their God, I would be special too. 

I was a young child in Minnesota when I met this particular husband and wife (and their family). They were extraordinary pillars of our western-Minneapolis suburban community. They were glamorous. Their kids were good looking and super popular. They had an endless stream of money, beautiful clothes, cars, TVs in their cars, visits from famous people, and an Olympic-sized gym to play all their Mormon basketball. On several acres of land, high on a hill, their giant gym sat right next to their beautiful mansion. 

They were also the other Mormons who lived in our school district. In their shadow, it was obvious that we were not as wealthy. Our house did not come with a gym. We were certainly less popular. Considering how Mormons seem to equate wealth with righteousness, (prosperity gospel), then I imagine we were also never as worthy. When their family joined the current “jogging” fad so did my family. My family often ran in the early morning at our local high school track. It was always a happy day when we ran into them. 

“See. We are just like you.” I would excitedly think.

When my parents signed up on their MLM (multilevel marketing) downstream, they assured us we would also attain riches. (That did not happen.) 

What did happen is my adorable mom was assigned by our LDS church to visit the tall, glamorous MLM mom once a month and offer her a spiritual message. Another woman from our local congregation was also assigned, as her companion, but one week, that woman was sick so my mom brought me. We reached the mansion door. I was excited when my mom pushed a button that we heard a voice come out of a little white speaker box.

“How fancy.” I thought to myself.

For some reason, she would not let us inside the house. Maybe it was because my mom showed up without the other woman who was supposed to be there. 

 (I would not see the inside of the house until they needed a babysitter years later.)

“Give me a few minutes. I will meet you in our business office. It is to the right of the intercom.” She replied. 

There, surrounded by walls of various kinds of vitamins, I sat on my mother’s lap while my mom and the mansion mom spoke about Jesus. From the windows I saw the skies turn grey and knew a big midwestern thunderstorm was headed our way. As a result, we cut the visit short. The thunder clouds emitted their loud booms. I began to cry.

As my mom and I walked to the car, I jumped into her arms, sobbing. The dad, who was milling around in the driveway for some reason, saw my tears and asked why I was afraid.

“I will follow you home. I want to make sure you are safe.” He replied.

As we drove, giant hail balls struck our car, trees fell in our path. It was apocalyptic. Every time we stopped to catch our breath so did he. As we pulled into our driveway I turned around and looked. He stopped his car, waited and he waved. 

After that there was no doubt how close they were to God. 

When they told us they prayed every morning as a family. We did the same. And for good measure, each member of my family took a turn to say our own prayer. (True story.)

I really wanted acceptance. I invested and fervently believed in the God they were teaching. When they spoke of their “I am proud to be an American” patriotism, morality, Jesus and eternal life, I knew to listen and follow their example. I did. I believed. I committed. I was determined that if I devoted enough of myself, sang in their church choirs, attended church every week, and did not have premarital sex, I could be special just like they were. Throughout my entire adolescence I tried. Oh my god I tried. I was dedicated. I was gawky, a late bloomer, and not at all cool. Stridently, I believed and I just kept on trying.

The oldest daughter was always kind. Two of the sons were always nice-ish to me and that did help. Sure. They are also human. As a result, it was excused that some of their kids were totally awful. I had a best friend who was best friends with the other sister. I often knew I was being dumped (lied to) so my best friend could hang with her. Nevertheless, as an entire family unit, they were extremely generous. They always shared their home, their giant gym, their time, their self-authored religious music and the trappings of their MLM money with our super tight knight LDS community. Within this community, I quickly learned that the tighter you became with them, the higher your social currency rose. It was not easy. Everyone in my community wanted to be connected to them, even the non Mormons. In truth, I get it. They were the compass leading us to the extraordinary. I knew my place and knew to be grateful for their acquaintance.  

Of course I took it as a compliment when the mom told me, 

“Beth, your mom sews all of your clothes and you have all that canned food from your garden. You already know how to survive the last days. We don’t. See, we have so much money. We buy our clothes. We have people to do things for us. During the second coming we will need people just like you. You will help us survive.” (I am not making this up.)

As an adult I was attending a funeral of a mutual friend when I ran into some of the members of the family. The mom asked me how I was. When she said, 

“You only have two children? What about fulfilling the measure of your creation?”

Insecurely, I blurted, “I have had several miscarriages. I cannot seem to hold my pregnancies. I am very lucky to have these two boys.”

She shot back, 

“My daughter has five kids. She had to adopt one because she just couldn’t get pregnant. She had such a hard time having her children. It was so very hard for her. Her struggles were so very very hard…”

As I listened, I melted back into place. Now in line I knew that the correct response was to acknowledge that her daughter’s pain was greater than my own. So I did. And she thanked me.

Us, Louvre Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 2019

The world is interesting. The disparity between who I was taught I should look up to and who the people I was supposed to revere actually turned out to be is breaking my brain. As they now spout evil and dangerous nonsense online, I fight the urge to give these superstars from my upbringing a pass. I feel like I should show compassion. Sometimes I do. Ultimately, though, the people I really admired, looked up to and was raised to believe seem taken advantage of, misguided and lost. Sunk costs. I am guessing that I am not alone in my feelings. 

Seeing friends while visiting NYU Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Like the superstar Mormon family from my youth, there are so many people I wanted to emulate, especially their values, truths, critical thinking and understanding. I also recognize that I should have trusted my internal compass and innate ability. I should have trusted my own critical thinking mind. I should have found a way to believe I was special without intermediating it through people that my family and peers identified as praiseworthy. I know now that I was worthy of respect all along. I am enough. But back then, instead, I doubled down and earnestly chased an external validation that I would never receive.  

Ultimately, I think it is complicated that I empathize. I think the people who stormed the Capitol (or peacefully protested — depending on how you see it) are much like the family I grew up with. They are chasing a similar and reckless need for validation. They believe they are true patriots who are doing what is right. I think the irrational need to be seen are the sunk costs that we are all drowning in. Maybe the unity we seek is the ability to see each other and to find a way to work together. Maybe then we can swim. I really hope so. ❤️

Sitting At My Desk, Here Is What I See: Australia

Us, Ku-ring-gai National Park, New South Wales, Australia

There is a large monitor poised behind my laptop. A picture of the four of us is displayed as the monitor’s background. I stare at this image every time I sit at my computer. In the photo, I still had braces. Kyle is wearing a pink shirt. Dave and Eli are both wearing baseball caps. The picture was taken the day we drove from Nelson Bay, New South Wales to Sydney, Australia. We stopped to hike around Ku-ring-gai National Park. We stopped to hike off the road. The area where we stopped was a little inland. It was wet, a little muddy and there were little waterfalls everywhere. We climbed down a muddy trail, where we found a narrow bridge and an area covered in graffiti. I love graffiti. I suggested we take a family picture. Dave, Kyle and Eli obliged. It was a wonderful and magical day. It was April, 2019. It was a different time. It feels like we were different people.

Us, Ku-ring-gai National Park, New South Wales, Australia

I think I went to Australia on a dare. Many friends had told me they hated Sydney, that Melbourne was much better. But, if I was really going to the bottom of the world, I should stick with New Zealand. They were not wrong about New Zealand, It is also where we were when the pandemic began. And when quarantine is too much, New Zealand is where I travel in my dreams.  We visited New Zealand twice before traveling to Australia. New Zealand is amazing and tracks with the landscapes pictured in the Lord of the Rings movies. Kyle made friends with a curious octopus there. Eli proclaimed it is actually a place he wants to go back to and when Covid intruded on our planet, New Zealand is the place I wanted to hide. 

Us, Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia: The album cover

Dared to be there and determined to make it the very best experience, in April 2019, Australia was where we were. Kyle met us there on his spring break, flying direct from Abu Dhabi. Before we left Utah, I did oodles of research on Sydney and its surrounding areas. One thread on one travel blog recommended we use the Sydney Ferry system: 

“You must use the ferry system. It will change your world.”

Riding the Sydney Ferries
Riding the Sydney Ferries

They were right. Taking a ferry from destination to destination completely revolutionized our trip. Traveling by ferry was like traveling in a postcard, feeling the wet wind on our faces while looking to the left or to the right (depending on which direction you are traveling), blazing under the Sydney Harbor Bridge and seeing the spectacular Sydney Opera House. My mind was blown every single time. 

Riding the Sydney Ferries

Sydney was fantastic. More things were free than we expected. Food was fabulous and walking through the city was intriguing.

Kyle & I on our Birchgrove neighborhood walk

Near the end of our Australia stay, Kyle, Dave and I walked along the water near our AirBnB in the Birchgrove neighborhood. We knew Kyle had the opportunity to do a study abroad the following year. NYU has campuses all over the world. During the week we talked about the pros and cons of Sydney versus other campuses like Shanghai, Florence, or Buenos Aires.

“Mom, Dad, I think I want to do my Study Away in Sydney,” Kyle said.

I tried to tamp down my exuberant excitement and responded in such a low key way,

“Kyle, I think that is an excellent idea.” I blurted and (then probably jumped and high-fived Dave).

January, 2020: Kyle was home for 36 hours in between Abu Dhabi and Sydney

It is now January 2021. One year ago Kyle left for NYU Sydney, where he began his study away. Immediately he made an excellent circle of friends. (Kyle is great at meeting people.) On our video chats he told me how easily he connected with his fellow students.

“Mom, I feel more connected with my peers here than I did in Abu Dhabi. I love my Abu Dhabi friends. Sydney has just been so natural. I have friends. They are so easy. I really needed this experience. I feel good about myself. I am so glad I am here.” 

Each time we talked, Kyle eagerly told me about how he was connecting to his new town. One call he told me how he was intent on taking different modes of transportation each day so he could learn the city. He bought a skateboard, learned the public transportation system and loved to walk. I felt like I was learning the city on a deeper level. Because we had been there the previous year, I felt like I could see the stories and experiences Kyle was telling me. As his mom, I loved that Kyle was having this moment. 

Kyle, Dave & Me, Queenstown, New Zealand

Then the pandemic hit. Even though the world was shutting down, Sydney seemed safe and less impacted. NYU Sydney assured us that the students would stay in school. We felt so confident that everything would be ok with Kyle that on March 13, 2020, Dave and I flew to Queenstown, New Zealand where Kyle would meet us for his spring break, and Eli would meet up with all of us the following week back in Sydney. Eli was excited to do his first international trip without us. Kyle made his first international trip alone at the same age. 

Until 7:00PM on Friday, March 13, 2020, that was our plan.

As we were packing to leave for the airport, the Salt Lake Schools shut down school. At the time they said school would only be shut down a week. We felt safe going and Eli was still planning on meeting us the following week in Sydney.

Dave and I were now in San Francisco on the long flight to Auckland, New Zealand. 

Kyle, Dave & Me, Queenstown, New Zealand

From the time we were in the air until the plane landed, the world changed. We landed and immediately told that we had landed a few hours before the enforced incoming-traveler quarantine would take effect. 

Things just got worse — for the entire world. 

Kyle & I, Queenstown, New Zealand

Now safely in the country, Dave and I flew from Auckland to Queenstown where we met up with Kyle. Within a few days his dreamy perfect study abroad was canceled. A few days after that he was abruptly told he could not get back into Australia, to leave his belongings in Australia and to go home. Of course we canceled Eli’s flight. Then it took some finagling to get Dave, Kyle and me out of New Zealand. We decided to spend our last few days hiking, healing and enjoying the amazing Queenstown area. Most travelers were already gone so we felt like we had Queenstown to ourselves. Again, it was magic. New Zealand was a gift, a respite from the pandemic storm. I will always be grateful. 

Us, Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

We made our way home. Kyle finished his semester online. It was painful. I am not sure he has recovered. I am not sure any of us have. And when I say any of us, I am speaking of everyone on the planet.

I still long for Australia. I still fantasize about finding our way back. Our time together feels unfinished and incomplete. 

For now, I will have the picture on my monitor screen.

Tagged :

Saving Our Memory: Keep Talking and Keep Walking.

Me on a walk today, Salt Lake City, Utah

Remember When Blogs Were Like Stream-of-Consciousness Confessionals?

Here is the deal: I think I live in my head. I do not understand how to use TikTok. I think I have an account. My boys were embarrassed when I SnapChatted. So I stopped. I have developed an outspoken Twitter persona. Forgive me now! I also confess that I really do not mind falling down a Reddit rabbit hole, when I remember to read Reddit. I am pretty active on Instagram. I would do one of their stories, yet after my recent eye surgery, I am too farsighted to read any posts. Instead I squint and admire a friend’s something-doodle dog daily Instagram posts and another friend’s daily here-is-my-booty shots. Sure, I could get my glasses so I could read the accompanying and very tiny text to these Instagram stories. Alas, I am in bed where I am warm and all snuggled all up to Dave. My glasses are sitting in the cold, crisp office. 

Me & Eli.

It is now hours later. I am out of my cozy bed, in my office, sitting at my desk and wearing my glasses. As I stare at my laptop, I start to think about memory, writing and the past. My mind drifts and I realize that I sort of still believe we live in the pre-social-media, blog world of yesteryear, when blogs were a little strange, people were still apprehensive about using their credit card online, and we were fascinated by some girl named Jenny. She, known as a “lifecaster,” aimed a camera at herself and we, the public, could watch 24/7.  It was really weird at the time. Ok. I still think blogs are also a little strange. I also think people are apprehensive of using their credit card online, because now we use credit cards for everything online and our information gets stolen. I do not know what ever happened to Jenny. 

I was no 24/7 Lifecaster. That is why long ago I let go of the notion that I could be a web-based voyeur-enabler, a social media influencer or top mommy blogger. Yet, as far as blogging, I still hold on. Then and now, I need to let the stuff out of my head. Blogging and writing help me do that. (You should see all existential my notes in my iPhone. They could fill a book.)  I also think journaling is important and a way to preserve our stories. Selfishly, I like an audience. Often that audience is just Dave and I am totally ok with that. These days, however, I am definitely a little lonely and feeling a little disconnected. Writing makes me feel like I am talking to you. If you are also reading, thank you. It actually means a lot, especially this year when we are all so isolated, or at least should be isolated, and should be wearing a mask in public. 

Hiking with Kyle, Mary, Me & Dave

So, this morning, after getting up at 6:30AM with Eli, I was laying in bed. Let me set the scene. See, I was up until 2:00AM texting with my college friend, Teb B. Eventually, Ted B. wanted to Facetime. He wanted to show me how he was “sharpening his knife.” I was like, “Ted B. this is my exit cue. I need to be up at 6:30AM for Eli.”

Then Ted B. sent me a picture of himself literally sharpening his knife.

Ted. B. sharpening his knife

At 6:30AM my alarm jolted me out of some really sweet sleep. Slowly I made my way to the bathroom and then down to check on Eli. I saw his light on and felt relieved. 

“How are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m tired, but good.” He replied.

Eli has a new job at a ski resort and I wanted to see him off. I am guessing you already know about that feeling of wanting to make sure your kids are settled, that they have calculated the travel time correctly, and that they did not forget all the forms they need. Well, that urge to make sure they are OK never goes away. This morning, I had that feeling. Soon Eli was upstairs packing up his things. After getting him some bandaids and then watching him place them over his painful-looking hand scrapes he received from the climbing gym, Eli was on his way. Later he called from the resort and told me how excited he was to have this wacky new job, about all the gear they gave him and about how he will shuttle with a group of guys to work. Then I asked him a bunch of questions. He answered them while sitting in his car in the resort parking lot. I know this because I asked him if he was driving. He said,

“No Mom. I am sitting in the parking lot talking to you.”

It was really nice talking to him. I bathed in his excitement and felt very proud. 

Walking in Salt Lake City, Utah

Still sort of half asleep, but not asleep enough to go back to sleep, I reached for my iPhone. I started scrolling through all of it when I came upon an article from my online crush: CNN’s own Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Don’t judge. He’s hot. The article: “Memory Fades When We Age, But We Don’t Have To.” Thinking first about the internet’s hotty-McHotterson, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, then thinking about how many times Kyle and Eli have called Dave and me “boomers,” and finally thinking about how many times the boys proclaim, “you don’t remember anything,” I eagerly devoured the article. 

To my great surprise, I found that I am already doing one of the best things to keep my memory intact:

“If you put it all together, one of the best things you can do for your brain: Take a brisk walk with a close friend and discuss all your problems.”

Quickly, I sent the quote to Dave, hoping he would connect the dots, the dots which imply,

“Your wife is the most enlightened human ever. She knew the secret, even before Dr. Gupta did.”

[insert all long enough pause here for Dave to absorb all of my inspired wisdom]

My text continues: “All of those long walks, with accompanying fights are saving your memory. You are welcome!” 

Dave’s Response: “Oh no! Now you have science to back you up!”
My response: “So, screw Sudoku!”

Science and very attractive Dr. Sanjay Gupta happily validated my need to analyze, reanalyze and analyze a few more times. They also recognize that we need to process with another human and while going on a walk. Genius! And walking and talking is a silver bullet to keeping our memories. Woot! 

Me and Dave, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I have been a walk-talk person since the beginning of my time. Who would have thought my great love is also the holy grail to preserving our memory? All I was trying to do is relieve my angsty brain cycles. As such, I needed to move and I needed to talk out all the stuff. MORE IMPORTANTLY, thank goodness for all the willing victims who agreed to walk with me regularly and in an attempt to save my mental health (and apparently also our memory):

Me, Kyle & Dave, walking in the foothills about Salt Lake City, Utah

I am grateful for all of you. I am grateful for the years of talking through all our existential crisis and exposing our vulnerability, discussing topics such as, but not limited to, deconstructing relationships, marriages, family trauma, parenting mishaps, and financial blunders. Then filtering through sex talk to sex questions and advice on vagina issues and waxing blunders. I am always game for discussions where we  navigate our political philosophies, belief structure and making peace with God, or no that there is no God. Finally, most walks also include a little circle-of-trust talk, or better, straight up gossip, which I like to call, “processing.” 

Let me end where I began. I am grateful for you online folks who listen to me ramble (like you are doing now). 

Trying to Vote: My Son’s 2020 Election Ballot Odyssey

Yes. I know that signing someone else’s ballot is voter fraud. I am aware of the current accusations flying around. I am also aware of all that has been done to resolve and validate our 2020 election. Regardless, I was tempted. I was tempted to sign my son Eli’s ballot. He was eighteen. This was the first presidential election he could vote in. I knew he really wanted to vote. Before he left, he told me — many times: 

“Mom, I really want to vote. I am excited to vote. I think it is important that I vote.”

I am also really good at forging signatures. Ask my mom. I remember the day she said,

“Beth, I will admit. I often cannot tell your ‘forged’ signature or if it was me who signed my own. Nevertheless, if you are going to skip class so you can literally suntan on your school’s sidewalk, please stop writing excuse notes for you and your sister and signing my name.” [quote embellished for impact and clarity]

Packing for NOLS

During the summer Eli made sure he was registered to vote and that the voting folks had his correct address. We tried to get him an absentee ballot, but there was some confusion. Utah has been voting by mail since 2013, and our ballots traditionally arrive early. We felt confident that Eli would have his ballot in time. Eli, left in mid September to participate in the National Outdoor Leadership School’s (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine and Rescue semester. This is something Eli was slated to do even before the pandemic began. Thankfully, the NOLS group was small and they were effectively and safely able to quarantine, (*which would ultimately factor into Eli’s voting journey). Eli told me how everyone wore masks for the first fourteen days. Then every time a new person was introduced to the group, which was not often, they would begin the fourteen days mask quarantine again. 

Leaving-For-NOLS Day

With a small group of isolated students in Wyoming, Eli would spend the month learning emergency medicine skills. On October 11, the group would leave for the backcountry near Escalante, Utah. Several times during that first month, Eli asked me if his ballot had arrived. My answer was always,

“No, but I will keep you posted.”

October 11, 2020, was also the day Eli’s ballot arrived. I texted him. He was packing and preparing to head to southern Utah. 

“If only it had come yesterday. I would have overnighted it to you.” I said.

NOLS first day

Something I did not mention about NOLS. NOLS is a leadership school. Ok. I did mention that. They literally want to teach their students to lead. As such, they make civic engagement a priority. Before Eli left for NOLS, we were sent nonpartisan  information of the importance of voting. Here is what they said:

VOTING: Please register to vote (or make sure you are registered) and request an absentee ballot before you arrive. This allows for the most opportunities to deliver it to you during your course, as well as postal travel time between you and your voting site. (And depending on your state, you may need up to two Forever stamps to return it so pack accordingly). Ballots, whether forwarded to you from home or sent from your Board of Elections, can be mailed to: [insert NOLS address here]

With NOLS’ commitment to help their students vote in mind I assured Eli that I would see what I could do. And this is where the journey of Eli’s 2020 ballot begins. The following is the correspondence I had with the lovely Jessica at NOLS:

The Ballot before it left our care.

Hi Jessica.

I hope you are well. Thank you for all of your help along the way. Eli still seems very happy. As you know, they just started  their next phase. Eli seems so excited to be heading to Southern Utah. 

Here is my totally strange, long shot question (with a little background first): Eli’s ballot just arrived. We were hoping it would be here sooner. We messed up getting his absentee ballot. (Thank you all for all you did to help the NOLS student’s vote.) 

Ok. We know Eli’s next contact day is November 3rd (as you know, also Election Day). We also know he is currently in Utah, his home state. We are not sure the actual date his expedition is finished. And we also wondered if there is a way we can get his ballot to him? We could drop it at someone’s car? We actually know them quite well. We are also willing to mail it to NOLS today. We are also willing to get it to him in Escalante. If his ballot is postmarked by November 2, his vote will count. (There is also a post office in Escalante.) YET, if he is in Utah on November 3rd, he can drop his ballot off at any drop box location until 8PM Election Day.

I am sure we might sound a little (or a lot) crazy. This election is very important. If our request is an impossibility, we understand. Nevertheless, we think it is worth a try.

At the very least, thank you for considering our harebrained scheme. Utah  has been voting by mail for years. Typically the ballots arrive much sooner. Oh well.

Best to you.
Beth Adams


First of all, we are doing all we can to help support students voting – we both see this as an important election, and we feel we would be remiss if we talked about leadership and didn’t include action in this part we all have a right and opportunity to do as citizens!

We have been watching our mail diligently for ballots, and have been doing our best to bring them to students who are out in the field now while they are getting re-rationed with food and fuel, which will happen twice on Eli’s course before the end of October. The most direct way is to send it directly to me at my office, and I will get it to one of our drivers heading down to Utah to meet with groups. 

I hope this helps and, again, we will do everything we can to get folks their ballots – thanks for checking!




Yes. Your information and email totally helps. In fact, you made our night. Thank you. We sincerely appreciate how you support the NOLS students voting, and all of their leadership enhancing experiences, really. 

I will mail Eli’s ballot to you in the morning. Utah requires ballots to be postmarked no later than November 2. Is there a way Eli can give his completed ballot back to one of the drivers to mail? Or will he be out of the canyon by November 2, so he can mail it himself?

Honestly, I am excited and grateful that we are one step closer to making this work. Thank you for your enthusiasm, support, and all you are doing to help people get their ballots. It really means a lot.


Beth Adams


Yes! He’ll be able to fill it out there and return it to the driver who can drop it in the mail, usually within the day or two. If Utah requires stamps for returning a ballot (I know it varies state to state), it would be helpful to include those (we’ve been sponsoring students with stamps if need be, but just in case the driver doesn’t have them, it could help streamline it to a post office drop!)



Hey Jessica. That is awesome. Utah does not require stamps, but I am happy to send some extra. Thank you for sponsoring student stamps. And again, thank you for facilitating Eli’s civic responsibility. We are grateful.

Beth & Dave

By October 21, 2020, NOLS received Eli’s ballot. The plot thickens:



I just wanted to give you an update on things re: Eli’s ballot. We have received it here, however, our re-ration outfitter has already picked up their re-ration from our storage facility in Utah… I am looking into seeing if we can overnight the ballot to the rerationer’s home and having him be able to get it to Eli and if that is a realistic option, but wanted to check in with you all. I will keep you updated from what I hear from our re-rationers – they sometimes go chunks of time between proper reception to get messages as they are driving around the BLM lands out there.




Thank you for your email. USPS said it would arrive by last Saturday or Monday, 10/19. Even though I am frustrated, I have tons of compassion for the USPS. They are dealing with a lot right now. 

Funny story: As we were preparing to mail Eli’s ballot, we suggested we make a documentary about the  process of delivering Eli’s ballot to him. At this point, I think it would have been a great idea.

I am happy to pay to send Eli’s ballot to your re-rationer’s home, if you think that would work. If it helps, Eli’s ballot has to be postmarked by November 2. 

Let me know what I can do. Thank you so much for all of your help.


[Insert “Dah, Dah, Dah” sound here]


We got it on the USPS delivery day and I sent it down with our next driver to our re-supply storage area. He came back yesterday and told me that the re-rations had already been picked up (these outside outfitters pick them up at different times depending on their routes and the groups, NOLS and otherwise, that they are serving)… I have called the outfitter this morning – if I do not hear from him tonight definitively, does it feel okay to just take a gamble and send it to him and see what happens? I think that is our best option right now.


MY FINAL RESPONSE, October 21, 2020:


Thank you for everything! I totally agree. It totally feels ok to send it.  Hopefully it gets to Eli. Either way, we are incredibly grateful for your effort.

If you hear anything, please let me know. 


After nearly dying twice (his words) of dehydration, Eli emerged from the Southern Utah back country on Tuesday, November 3: Election day, 2020. 

(He left looking 18. He came home looking 25.) Eli, his first hour home from NOLS, December 2020

Here is the text exchange we had. (My texts are in green. Eli’s are in grey):

Eli received his ballot on November 3, 2020. It was covered with several notes starting with me, the Wyoming NOLS people, the food suppliers and the backcountry folks. The focus of every message was:

“Let’s work together to get this student his ballot!”

Everyone earnestly tried to ensure that Eli could legally exercise his right to vote. By early November, 2020, Uttah’s Covid numbers had tripled since Eli first left. Because of Covid19 rules, the NOLS students were not allowed to make unscheduled stops, or really leave the bus. I asked Eli if he could find a way to drop his ballot off in a mailbox. 

“They won’t let us make any stops for Covid reasons.” He said.

Eli held onto his ballot. He did not vote. I did not vote for him.

Us, Christmas Day, 2020

In the end, I want thank NOLS for caring about the world around you. Thank you Eli for being wonderfully awesome, for surviving death — twice, for caring about the world around you and for wanting to vote. I know this road has not been easy. Yet, somehow during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, over 150 million Americans voted and Eli was determined to vote (legally). Thank goodness for all the people who did vote, and thank goodness for those who certified it! 

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Happy 2021: Resolutions

Happy New Year!

Me, Salt Lake City, Utah

I know myself. What I know is that I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. 

I know if I say resolve to lose weight that before the end of January, I will eat my way into gaining ten pounds. If I resolve not to swear, I will develop some sort of psychological compulsion to explicate every other word, thus filling the damn-hell swear jar before the end of the week. Then there are the relationship goals. They are the worst! If I set  an intention to be a better friend, sister, mother, or wife, for instance, I will certainly self sabotage, thus alienating myself from the entire world, being blocked from social media, removed from group texts and chastised by a relative. Oh, oh and if I rededicate myself to doing more than going for a walk each day, I will most certainly be forced into an online-streaming binge, unable to shower, brush my teeth and get off my couch. 

Us, Salt Lake City, Utah

The truth is when setting any sort of resolution or goal, I am filled with crazy performance anxiety and a shuddersome dread (obviously). This fear would most definitely lead me right back into therapy, a place where I can safely unpack the root of my goal setting angst.

Maybe my goal-avoidance-performance-anxiety is genetics. I really and sincerely know that if I diet, I gain weight. I am so freaked out with failure that I make myself fail to prove I cannot succeed. You know what’s weird? My self sabotage response is like a reflex? It takes me until I go up a few pants sizes until I am like, 

“Woah, Beth, diets really stress you out.” 

So if I said something to myself like, 

“Hey, Beth, you cannot eat sugar,” 

I will fill my dream board with the message: You must devour all the sugar!

I have — devoured all the sugar, that is.

Kyle & I, Salt Lake City, Utah

What I am getting at is why goals freak me out. I am not sure why. Ok. Sure, I could argue that goals freak me out because I am afraid of failure. Then again, I do not think I am really afraid of failure, but I am afraid of letting people down. What I think I have is more like a twitch/reflex. And here and now the twitch is my ability to set  goals. And the letting people down part is the completing goals part. Consequently, when I am focused on the twitch, all I think about is that I will let someone down. 

Ok. All of you who want to diagnose me, enjoy. For me, however, I think my twitch really is probably more about my baggage combined with what my brain does when I think I am going to fail. 

I remember when I decided to finish my last semester of college. Because my initial grades were less than stellar, Dave and I realized it was best to finish this semester at the college where I began: Brigham Young University. Determinedly, I jumped through several hoops, including having to meet weekly with an academic probation counselor, convincing BYU admissions that I was serious about graduating (they asked). Then convincing people to write letters of recommendation on my behalf. Then tracking down my Mormon bishop, (I was no longer attending the LDS church), assuring him that I was not going to go rogue and obtaining an ecclesiastical endorsement. 

Me & Easy E, Salt Lake City, Utah

At the time, We were living in Park City and trying to sell our house. Dave was working full time in San Francisco. On the weekends, he flew back to Utah. Kyle and Eli were enrolled in different Salt Lake City schools. Each day we were out the door around 7:45 am. We drove a half and hour through Parley’s Canyon from Park City to Salt Lake City. I dropped Kyle off first. Then Eli. Each drop off was met with eye contact, an, “I love you,” and a “hand hug.” Then I drove another hour to the BYU campus in Provo.

It was my first day of classes. There I was, sitting in my car. Because I did not have  a parking pass, I was parked about a half a mile from my class. Sitting there, my heart began beating so hard, I could feel the pulse, pulse, pulse exploding in my ears. I was sweaty. I sat paralyzed. I knew I was going to fail. 

“Beth, you should have stayed in Salt Lake City.” I thought to myself.

Panicked, I called Dave. I struggled conveying my fear. 

“Dave, I can’t do this. I am not worthy.”

I am certain he was like,

“You did all this work to get here, why on earth do you think you are going to fail? You are worthy! You are amazing.” 

Me & Big Daddy, Brighton, Utah

I was not buying what he was saying. (Bless him for trying.) Now officially late to my first class still in the car, and convinced that I suck, I called my friend, Beth. (Yes. She is  a real person and shares my same name.) I heard her voice and burst into tears. Quickly, I vomited out all my doubt:

“I am too old! I am too agnostic! I am definitely too dumb to be back in college. I am not worthy! I cannot do this.”

 Here is what she said:

“Beth Adams, I believe in you. Catch your breath. I will stay on the phone with you until you are in your classroom.” 

For some reason while we were talking, I moved the car. She urged me just to park. Finally I parked and got out. I grabbed my backpack and locked the car, all while telling her why I completely suck.

Beth stayed on the phone. Calmly she continued,

“Put one foot in front of the other. Keep walking. Just keep walking. I am here. You don’t even have to talk. I will stay on the phone. Just keep walking.”

I made it to class. My face was covered in tears. I took in a deep breath:


I sat there smiling. I looked around. I was ok. For the next few weeks, each time I took the Provo exit, I called Beth. Each time she stayed on the phone with me and talked me out of the car, up the street, up the stairs and into class. Each time she told believed in me. Each time she told me I was good. Each time she told me I would be ok. 

Us, Brighton, Utah

Eventually I made it out of the car on my own. I cried through all of my papers. I continued meeting with my academic probation counselor. Eventually he said, I did not need to come anymore. I finished the semester I finished the semester with a 4.0.

Recently, and in front of me, a friend told Kyle that Kyle is lucky he has Dave’s genes.

“Your dad is so smart. Thank goodness you got his genes.”

My friend also reminded Kyle how poorly “your mom” performed the first time “she” was at college. He was not wrong. That being said, he was not right. In that moment I realized I need to hold space for the fact that I am also the badass who got herself back into college, received really good grades (all A’s except for one B+), and graduated. 

I never knew things would be ok, (no matter what the outcome.) Maybe you understand that feeling too. Maybe my anxiety really is genetics. Maybe it is baggage. Maybe it is both. All this to say, maybe goal setting, or finishing something you start, freaks you out too. Maybe like me, you have history and brain full of self-defeating messages, messages that get in the way.

Me & Dave, Salt Lake City, Utah — what a year!

In the end, or really the beginning of 2021, I want to set some easy goals. I want to be happy. I also want to post every week day. I might not make these goals. I also believe I can. I also believe you can too.

Happy 2021!

False Negatives: Covid19

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a person who does not sit still. I am tenacious. I am busy. I walk or hike every single day. I find things to keep me moving. I think that is why I love to clean. In fact, Dave and I have a joke about what will be written on my tombstone:

“Before she left this world, she had to wipe down the countertop one last time.”

On July 22, all that stopped. Since then, I have been in the throes of what I can only describe as the worst and weirdest flu I have ever experienced. I have been completely bedridden, in pain and unable to speak. At times I felt like I was possessed by demons. At other times, I thought I was experiencing an exorcism. Thanks to the tender mercies a fever can bring, much of it feels like a dream.

My story is one of many.

It started with a comically runny nose, not mine, but Dave’s. I remember looking at him and thinking, “he has Covid. I am next.” A few days later, I was painfully exhausted. My bones ached like I had done a very steep mountain climb. The next day my body ached even more. My head throbbed. I thought it was just PMS. I was wrong. Anyone who knows me, knows how neurotic I am about washing hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask in public. So is Dave. We have not let visitors in our house for some time. As a result, I have only been around a few people, outside and socially distant. (Listen when people tell you how contagious this virus is.) Ultimately, I feel very grateful they did not get sick. Thankfully the boys were also spared.

Eli & I before the hell began

The runny nose came. Then the sore throat.

A few days in, I experienced excruciatingly painful chills, where my only relief was texting Dave, pleading with him to put socks on my feet and a hoodie over my head. I would manage to get myself under a few blankets. As he entered the room, and as I huddled under the blankets, I would beg him to cover me in another blanket, then urge him not to lift the blanket as he put my socks and hoodie on. 

“The air on my back hurts. I am so cold. Please please be careful.”

Here I am in the quarantine room we set up, somewhere under all the blankets.

(Keep in mind, it is July and our AC is doing over time to keep up with the 100 degree outside temperatures.) Those painful chills were always followed by clothes-soaking fevers. Up to five times a night I would have to change my sopping wet pajamas. My pajamas were soaked. My underwear was soaked. My hair was soaked. My sheets were soaked. I wept. Eventually and just to keep up, Dave bought me more pajamas. As far as the chills, I still cannot comprehend that chills can cause so much pain. I cannot process that uber-self-sufficient-me needed Dave to put my socks on. I remember days of laying in bed. My bladder would be full. I would be in the throes of crazy chills and terrified to get out of bed. I would lay there until an hour or so later, they would pass. I would ask Dave for help to get up or will myself out of bed just so I could pee.

Quickly, we learned to keep a dose of cough medicine and Advil within my reach by my bedside. (It was often too painful for me to get out of bed.). On the floor for when the chills came, I kept at least one extra blanket, a hoodie and a pair of socks. We also littered the nightstand with Gatorade, Coke, water, cough drops, an inhaler and tissues. After being drenched in sweat, I would be so dehydrated that I found Coke, even flat day-old Coke, offered me some immediate comfort. 

During this time, I often slept until the early afternoon, only to fall back to sleep a few short hours later. It was painful to speak and holding a conversation took too much energy. My mom, who had been in the hospital for something unrelated (twice) right before became ill, began texting me a few times a day.

On July 25th I texted her:

“Oh Mom. I feel awful. I am so frustrated with all of this. Thanks for thinking of me. I am not telling people what I am going through. I also know so many people have it so much worse. I can’t imagine and I hope I don’t get worse because this just sucks. I love you. I’m so glad I didn’t drive you to the doctor last week.” (My mom is 79 and has asthma. We dodged a bullet. I could not imagine how she would pull through this.)

Consequently on July 25, I also decided to get a Covid test. It was negative.

On July 26, I responded to another of my mom’s texts:

“I’m not good. These chills/sweat cycles are driving me crazy. I soak my clothes all day and all night. My ear hurts. I’m congested. My head aches. I’m crabby. I’m really tired of feeling this way. I bet you are sorry you asked.”

I seemed to sort of rally over the next few days.

On July 28, under the assumption that I was on the road to recovery, I wrote the following:

“In all seriousness, I have been super-duper beyond sick. I think it is possible I’m finally coming up for air. I am heartbroken that false claims are being peddled instead of pushing leaders to unify a pandemic-ridden country.

As far as me being sick goes… what I do know is I have tested negative for Covid, but if my symptoms persist, then I test again.

Whatever I am sick with seems an awful lot like Covid and an awful lot like a non sexual, painful demon possession. Really. The all night every night cycles of excruciating chills followed by clothes-drenching sweat feels like an exorcism. The headaches. The sore throat. The dry cough. Ay-yi-yi. FYI,  hydroxyWhatverYouCalliIt will NOT fix it. Honestly, it sucks so much that I felt compelled to tell people and their disinformation spreading to also suck it. And please please wear a mask.

Stop fighting what we as a society need to do to get this pandemic under control. It isn’t supposed to be fun. And instead of going crazy conspiracy, or selfishly politicizing a virus that is killing people and making millions sick, wash your hands for two rounds of happy birthday (20 seconds) and stop gathering in large groups. You can’t pray this away or throw snake oil at it. What you can do is work as a community to slow the spread so our hospitals do not become overrun, so we can eventually safely open things like schools and until there is a vaccine.”

[exit soapbox]
A good moment through all of this.

I must have used all my energy on preaching because about thinking I had turned a corner, I WAS WRONG! The virus was only getting started. I heard it came in waves. I really could not comprehend how my “mild” case could get any worse. By July 29, my dry cough and my breathing became persistent and labored.

I was afraid.

On July 30,  I went on oral Prednisone for wretched cough & shortness of breath, (which I am sure saved me from pneumonia). I really believe my experience with asthma is what led me to act & seek medical attention before things were more dire/critical. (*Please do the same.) I have also learned that when given before things spiral out of control that steroids are really effective in treating Covid. I feel totally blessed that I acted on my instinct. Of course, the demon-chills and sweats persisted.

During this time my best friend Marianne’s brother, Jay, was in a terrible accident and is now paralyzed from the armpits down and struggling to breathe on his own. I cannot imagine what he and his family are going through. I am blown away by their courage and their strength❤️ . At this same time, I was also learning about friends of friends dying of Covid and others being put on a ventilator.

I felt so sad for everyone.

I also kept thinking: “Even a mild case of Coronavirus, which seemed to be the lane I landed in, is terrible and terrifying. I would not wish this experience on anyone.”

Marianne & I before the word, “pandemic,” entered our radar & when my eyebrows were much darker

On July 30 here is what I texted my mom:

“I’m so sick. My doctor prescribed steroids this evening. My cough is worse and I am wiped.”

For the next few days I felt some relief and once again assumed I was getting better. Then again, I was still experiencing round-the-clock fever/chills, which caused me some anxiety. 

Maybe the steroids were wearing off. Maybe it was just another wave of this miserable illness. 

When I started feeling better (Dinner courtesy of Kristina — a godsend)

On August 3 things took a dark turn.

Here is what I texted my mom. (Thank God for her.)

“I’m so sick. 
I’m very worried.
I have a fever.
I can’t take a deep breath without coughing. 
Yes on the chills.”

Dave found me in our dark room passed out in a pool of sweat. He quietly brushed his hand across my forehead and took my temperature. I was burning up. I was also experiencing numbness in my left hand. Because I did not have an absolute Covid confirmation, we were worried something else could be going on. Dave took me to the hospital. They immediately whisked Dave away and ushered me into the special Covid unit. (Hmmm.) Covered in his safety protection, the doctor did not take a Covid test and said I could take one if I really really wanted confirmation. (He already knew I was very sick.) He also said the only reason to take one was to add me to the Covid stats. He listened to my lungs and heard a rattle-y wheeze and asked if I wanted a breathing treatment. They confirmed with an x-ray that I did not have pneumonia. They prescribed more cough medicine, urged me to continue taking Advil and cough medicine 24/7 and urged me to use my inhaler around the clock. Then he said the prednisone most likely protected my lungs from a worse outcome. He said I could take another round. He also said to watch out for my lungs getting worse. They also confirmed that this virus needed to work its course. Because I could breathe on my own, the safest place for me was at home. He said I am very lucky to be in good health. He was like, “Even though you are terribly ill, your  body is doing an excellent job of fighting this thing, (another tender mercy).” I immediately felt grateful for the advice my friend MB gave me all those years ago: “take 10 deep breaths every hour, or as often as you can, even if they make you cough.

I felt really crappy for the next few days.

Then, by some miracle, on August 6, my brain fog seemed to be lifting. My energy was still non-existent. (It is still low.) I still had a cough and was still spiking fevers. My throat was still sore (still is). My voice was hoarse (still is.) Somehow I actually felt like I might be finally coming out on the other side of this. It is kind of interesting. Because I have asthma, I have a little pulse oximeter at home. Between July 22 – August 3, my oxygen saturation hovered between 94 – 95%, which is in the normal range for sure. That being said, since August 7, my O2 saturation has been consistently 98 – 99%. Anyway, it might be nothing, but then again…

On Saturday, August 8, I followed up with another doctor. (I had been seeing them or speaking with doctors all along the way.) As we spoke, he heard the rasp in my voice. I reviewed with him all of my symptoms I have experienced:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Initial runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dulled senses

Here is what he said:

“Beth, if you came in to see me or one of my colleagues, we would confirm you with Covid-19. And because we are consulting now, I actually confirm your with Covid. Stop second guessing. Other flus going around in July are extremely rare. New research suggests that there is up to a 30 – 40% false negative test rate.”

You tell me. Maybe I had some rarest of rare virus or… I will take a Covid antibody test. Since July 21, I have remained actively isolated at home. I am grateful that Dave only experienced a runny nose. I am grateful that Kyle and Eli did not get sick. They have both passed  the incubation period. I plead with you to wear a mask and wash your hands. The doctor also told me the other day that for some Covid’s long term effects and impacts can be devastating: (kidney damage, lung damage, heart damage for starters). I am grateful I am feeling better. 

Us masked up before it all began

Ironically at this point, after the cleaning, the quarantining, the isolation, I recognize as my symptoms dissipate, it is my understanding (which is supported by science) is that our house is probably one of the safest places to be.

What a strange world this is.

Roll credits.

OH WAIT: I keep forgetting to mention my sense of taste and smell. I was totally convinced my senses were not being impacted. I think the sensory disconnect was the fever distorting my view. I did not think twice that the only way I could smell my strong-smelling perfume was if I held my wrist close to my nose. And then there was food. I did not blink when the cheese I was eating tasted like rubber. In fact, the other day we were eating bacon when Kyle said, 

“I don’t like this bacon because it has jalapeno in it.” 

I am not a fan of jalapenos or spicy food. I was surprised to hear him announce that the bacon was spicy. To me, the bacon seemed super mild. Nor did I know there were jalapenos in it. I will leave you with that. 

Best soup ever from Jane & David

Finally (for real), I want to thank Dave, my mom, my friends, Beth, Marianne, Kristina, Emily, Nate, Jane, David, Dr. Bitner (my allergy/asthma doctor) and his staff for caring and checking to make sure I was ok. I love you people!❤️

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