Things Currently Speaking to Me

This post.

This podcast (still).

This song.

This song, too (thanks, Big Little Lies + your absolutely awesome soundtrack).

This book.

This moody, broody, beautiful sky last night (wow!).

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What’s filling your waking hours these days? Always on the hunt for new recs, especially in the music/podcast/movie/show/inspiration department:) Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

38 y/o Me, Listen Close

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p.s. Sun, please grace us with your presence again.

The 37-year-old me has done a few things this past week that she’s pretty darn proud of. And she really hopes that 38-year-old me (Friday, in fact) has been taking note & plans to follow suit. I:

~Went to the DMV to fix an expiring license situation a full week (week!) before D-day

~Picked up an Rx way before it actually ran out

~Attended to a few belated gifts and notes that have been forevvvver hanging over my head on that perpetual, rarely-touched-but-always-there “Life To-Do List”

These may sound minor, petty, silly, fundamental. Yet, to me, they’re kind of a big deal.

(Both #1 & 2 avoided last-minute panic events that have happened throughout my life umpteen times, and #3 quickly lifted weight off my shoulders that had been unnecessarily lingering for months, even years.)

New Year (to Me) goals: Don’t procrastinate, stall, hesitate, deliberate.

JUST DO IT.

Happy March, y’all.

Detox, Digital

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This weekend, my first full weekend home of 2017 (!), I forced myself to stay in most of the time and lay really, really low. I also challenged myself to stay off social media and email from Friday night till Monday. It’s not a novel idea—and one so many I know do on a regular basis (such wise people!).

Here are some things I got from my 48 hours away from social media + email:

~Much more brain space. My mind is able to focus so much more on my own life (and those of my loved ones) rather than the lives of strangers, acquaintances, celebrities (embarrassing!), people I feel I know but really barely do

~Slightly less anxiety about the state of our country/world/mentally unhinged POTUS (although I admit I did sneak onto news stories a few times, that wasn’t forbidden within my self-appointed “rules)”

~The allowance to let myself watch a million shows/movies, read a ton of books/magazines, even take wee siestas on my couch BOTH days (something I almost never do!)

~The opportunity to take care of tasks/think about things I often put off, finding easy distractions that encourage me to “just wait” till tomorrow. I wrote that pesky belated Thank You note, cleaned out under my bano sink, dreamt up travel destinations I’d love to visit this year, wrote a clear to-do list for the week, etc. etc.

~The ability (to most times) sit through an entire film or show without mindlessly scrolling and only being half-present in both worlds

~The realization of just how much we use our phones anyway, even when NOT on social! I used it this weekend to look up weather, directions, exercise class signup, a Viber call with my brother, texting with family and friends near and far

I thought I’d wake up today so excited to dive back in, but I admit I feel a little apprehensive. Almost like I don’t even want to slide back into that world. (I also see that there’s something kind of nice about keeping your eye on the email inbox from time to time, so you don’t fear being drowned in a deluge all at once Monday morn…Thankfully, though, today is a holiday for many.)

That said, I am going to think of ways to do these detoxes on a regular basis and/or to be more mindful about my phone/screen usage each and every day. I’ve been saying this for forever, and I think it’s truly time to regain control.

This little weekend experiment wasn’t huge, but it’s a start. (And I’m proud of myself for sticking to it. Thanks to my supporters who kept me in check…y’all know who you are:))

I’m ready to break this addiction. This mind-numbing habit, to which so many of us have fallen victim. This incessant need to swipe. To scroll. To like. To comment. An urge that may feel fulfilling in the moment, but—in reality—often leaves me/us feeling emptier than when we began.

*Thanks to my dear amiga, Irish Kate, who alerted me to her friends’ insightful podcast exploring mindfulness, which served as great inspiration. (Added perk to their musings: Irish accents!!)

Have a great week, everyone.

The Air Up There: Boston->Seattle edition

The thing about travel, is that it reminds me that people are good. The tattooed Bostonian seatmate with the accent as thick as chowda who offers to take down my bulky baggage from the overhead bin. The Cape Cod grandma who excitedly chats my ear off, en route to Madrona to see her son, his partner and their two brand-new twins. My kind Uber driver from Morocco who openly admits his family has been so worried about his safety after learning of the mosque shooting from far across the miles.

It gets me away from the headlines and the dizzying social media swirl that is desperately trying (and failing) to keep up accurately with these scary and infuriating times in which we find ourselves flailing.

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This movement across various landscapes—so different and yet so much the same—reminds me that America is suited business people from around the globe gathering for a mid-workday meal of creamy curry. It’s still-bright-eyed 20-somethings, bellied up alongside run-down 40-somethings, grabbing post-office cocktails to unload the weight of the day (or week or month or year…). It’s a sleepy seaside village in the country’s Northeast corner, lit up with the warm glow of a setting winter sun.

The world, you see—it keeps on spinning.

It’s people like me, like you, living real, everyday lives in the midst of this madness. A comforting glimpse of the minutiae, the mundane routine that I must remember, in spite of the big picture that currently carries a darkness so heavy it’s often hard to know where to look.

(*and as I type this, I whole-heartedly acknowledge the incredible, fortunate luxury I have of simply choosing to look away when I need a break from it all.)

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I’m on a flight from Boston to Seattle, ironically reading Pico Iyer—a personal hero’s—short book “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere.” My five (yes, five) trips of January were distinctively different, social, active, productive, invigorating, tedious, tiring, delicious and fun. It’s been a multitasking whirlwind, and I’ve seen so many people I hold dear. And for that I’m always, always so grateful.

And now, I’m craving a little quiet.

A little stillness.

A little PNW Zen.

Happy February, friends.

Reflections // Welcome, New Year

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Sometimes, if I’m honest, all the movement makes me dizzy. The on-the-go aspects of my lifestyle lead me to feel frazzled, unsettled, disconnected and wondering what I’m missing, having not pursued a more rooted, stationary path.

But then, other times—most of the time, thankfully—it makes me feel lucky, wowed, inspired, alive.

This year followed a few unexpected themes like Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland…I love them all!) and glaciers (climbing around inside of one and sleeping at the base of one—alongside frolicking mountain goats—in the awesome Cascade Mountains).

My work peaked, then plateaued, freaking me out and making me question. (Five years in, it’s a cycle that’s prone to repeat, this I should know.) Then, again, toward the end of the year—it picked up yet again with exciting opportunities on the horizon for 2017, reminding me to have faith in this unconventional route I’ve chosen to somewhat blindly, yet intuitively, walk along.

I saw my family tons, which makes me exuberantly happy and fortunate-feeling, and I reunited with friends in all corners of our country (and European hot spots, too). My travel roundup is nearly embarrassing to list, but something I am working on simply appreciating and taking credit for, instead of feeling the need to justify or excuse away… (In North America alone, there were trips to: Chicago, DC, Hawaii’s Big Island, Vancouver Island, Wenatchee, the Tri-Cities, Austin, Denver, San Diego, Osoyoos, British Colombia and so on.)

I saw some live music that moved me to the core—most recently, a broody Gill Landry on a local neighborhood stage … this summer, a gracious and genius Swede named Daniel Norgren, who poured every ounce of his soul and voice into the magical canopy of trees towering above my favorite Pickathon stage. Some other surprisingly special 2016 concert experiences included Joseph, I Draw Slow, Good Old War, Half Moon Run, Cobi, Blind Pilot, The Augustines, Third Eye Blind, Death Cab for Cutie, The Head and the Heart and—the biggest shocker of all—STYX.

Things changed, relationships shifted. Some remained as steadfastly solid as always, others strengthened in beautiful ways, and a few petered out in natural evolution. I feared some changes that never came; I felt the effects of other transitions more deeply than I may have expected. I worked hard to cultivate a stronger sense of “home,” I discovered the cleansing practice of hot yoga (which I always assumed I’d hate), and I tried to delve deeper into inflammatory flareups my body tends to suffer from more often than I’d like.

I celebrated several friends’ amazing accomplishments and exciting milestones, dancing and dining and wining the nights away, as we remembered what life’s really, truly all about. (When the comparison game snuck in, as it’s wont to do, I assessed ways I moved along with them and worried about parts of my life that make me feel “stuck.”) I continued to love the city I call home, and I challenged myself on a couple nature adventures that were hard, dirty and really, really cool.

I saw bears, marmots, sea lions, orcas and a nasty brown house spider I won’t soon forget. I failed miserably at squashing certain patterns etched in my psyche, while I made strides with other habits, reflex reactions and communication modes that I simply feel it’s time to drop.

In November, in light of the election I cannot yet discuss, I felt despair like I’ve rarely known—flattened by such deep-seated shame, embarrassment, confusion and sadness over a catastrophic decision that somehow (HOW? WHY?) sends the message that racism, sexism and disrespect of our fellow humans is blatantly OK.

I still don’t understand it, and I’ve had to work very hard to quiet the anxiety of what this all means … to believe that good and light can still triumph over an undercurrent of evil we’ve somehow given the go-ahead to surface and seep. During this disheartening, regressive period of history, I have felt so grateful to live in an evergreen-dotted bubble, where I’m surrounded by like-minded people, and I continue to seek out folks who champion the causes, mentalities and ways of life that I, too, admire and hold close.

All in all, it’s been a really, really good and blessed year, capped off by one of my most favorite Christmases on record. It took place in my parents’ cozy house on a hygge-tinged suburban street. We flew, trained and drove in from London, Seattle and Ohio, filling that welcoming home to the brim with laughter, cookies, games, movies, twinkly lights and easy conversations decidedly more adult and reciprocal than ones we might have had just a few years back. We downed mug after mug of daytime tea, and sipped on cider and wine as we gathered in the family room each evening, smashing together on a chock-a-block couch, to bask in the glow of a festive tree.

On my last night in the house before flying back to Seattle, I couldn’t sleep. I replayed the events of the visit over and over in my mind, feeling positively overwhelmed by the friends and family I get to call my own (and feeling that aching twinge I experience every single time we have to part ways). I full-well know that these highs don’t last forever—and that life ebbs and flows in ways we cannot control—so I increasingly take care to sit in the waves of gratitude when I feel them rushing in at speeds I cannot slow.

I am so thankful for all I’ve experienced, learned and felt this past year—even the times I’ve picked myself up when feeling low, combatted a loneliness that threatened to drown and trudged on through periods of scary unknown, working hard to maintain a blind faith that it’s all unfolding as it absolutely should.

I hope to write more in the New Year—a passion I’ve let somewhat slip into the cracks—and in the meantime, I wish you and yours the peace of letting go of the past, looking forward to the future and sinking whole-heartedly, attentively and appreciatively into the delicious, awe-inspiring present.

Happy 2017, friends. Let’s make it a great one. xo

A New Season ( & Hi! How’ve you been?)

 

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I haven’t blogged in so long, it’s insane. Where to begin? Summer came, and summer went.

It was good, it was full; it felt exhausting at times, exhilarating at others. Highlights ranged from a whirlwind NoVa July jaunt and a favorite friend’s fun-fun-FUN Denver wedding to a love-soaked reunion under Chicago’s sticky summer skies. August was chock-full of music and weekends spent in tents at campsites near and far (far, as in, at the tippy-top of a mountain goat-dotted glacier). The end of September felt tinged with a bit of magic—the pinnacle being an amazing visit with my parents in the PNW during its finest show-off days and then a near week of togetherness in easy-breezy Oceanside.

For a long stretch there, work felt really steady (and almost too flowing at times), and the Seattle sun consistently blazed down on us as she’s known to do—filling our souls and Vitamin D reserves to the brim. (We have to store up, ya know; that’s just how life here works.) At one point, I felt highly over-traveled, and then grateful to regain my footing during several stationary weeks at home. I’ve gotten so much better at saying “no,” which is a relief, and I’ve seen the empowerment that comes from turning down gigs, trips and invites, simply because that’s the direction my gut tends to lean.

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Recently, a slowing of assignments has me feeling a little nervous, though admittedly not nearly as panicked as I would’ve felt once upon a time. This ain’t my first freelance-work-lull rodeo, after all. And I know for certain that waiting, patience and faith are the biggest challenges of this alternative lifestyle I’ve chosen—and perhaps the most important necessities, too.

This is the reality of my work situation at present: I am sending out a ton of pitches, a lot of emails, a bunch of check-ins—many of which I know will never get a response. I am used to this by now, and I *usually* don’t take it personally, but still—it can grow super old, really fast. The past couple weeks, I have done more “pro bono”-esque work than I’ve done since early CV-building days, but my reasoning is that this keeps things moving, the juices flowing, the pendulum swinging…toward tangible things that will soon “catch”—if I allow the unfolding to happen at a pace beyond my control.

Yes, I am so grateful to receive invites to dinners, receptions and press events galore, and to find super-cool surprise deliveries on my doorstep (apples! Olive leaf-tea! Gourmet pizza pies!). This is all amazing, lucky, spoiled—undoubtedly a very privileged perk to my wacky line of work. But sadly, this isn’t the type of compensation accepted by the collectors of my bills or the cashiers of my stores. (Surely these are the less glamorous glimpses into freelance life that don’t often make the social media rounds.)

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Yet despite the slowing of the season, I am well-aware that life continually presents us with periods filled with “planting” versus “blooming”… and with years (or seasons) that “ask” versus those that “answer.” I take great comfort in complementary thoughts shared by peers like the lovely Meg Fee, in her post rooting for the bamboo farmer in us all.

I am trying to follow the advice of wise gurus I respect who suggest that, at times like these, we keep on keeping on, living, giving, gifting—putting messages out into the Universe that I have enough, I am enough, there is enough.

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I can’t know for sure whether or not it’s working, but today I got a couple small assignments in, heard from an old, old travel friend and found a $5 bill on the ground just minutes after my favorite Turkish restaurateur-chef randomly presented me with a beautiful ring, just because she doesn’t “feel like selling them anymore, and not everyone appreciates their beauty.”

So I’m inclined to trust there is some truth to this approach. We must believe in abundance—of wealth, of health, of love, of whatever we seek—even when, especially when, it is something we currently cannot see.

I’m thinking it’s worth convincing ourselves: There is somehow always enough.

Sleep (Thoughts on Scandi Vacay, Part 2)

Here—even when I’m not plagued by the red-level jet lag I’m currently stuck with—my sleep goes through cycles of consistent bliss and then spells of choppy, mind-racing purgatory.

On my trip, sleep came any time I would allow. I dozed while sprawled out in grassy parks and on lilting trains, fading off to the comforting surround-sound buzz of languages I do not speak. I somehow fell into deep slumbers in corner-nook “family room” cots and curled up (since the length of my body wouldn’t physically fit) in a Copenhagen shed-cum-“bedroom” where many-legged creatures often visited me during the night without welcome. I didn’t seem to mind.

My brain was clear, and my days were full (not to mention gloriously drenched in sun and fresh air), and the sleep came & came, naturally refueling me in the most wonderful ways it should. And it felt great.

So how to achieve that rested clarity now that I’m home? Mission still in progress….Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’m off to brew myself a caffeine pick-me-up. STAT.

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