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

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Life, Here + Now

I keep talking about it “being summer,” which is a bit bonkers considering it’s still early May. (The wee panting kiddo we passed on yesterday’s trail wearing a “Happy 4th of July” tee certainly did not help my confusion either…)

But we’ve been blessed with some brilliant sunshine and warmth here in the PNW this May (after a sog-gy winter), so I’m embracing the seasonal preview as best I can.

This spring has felt a bit tough in several ways…
So many people I know are going through periods of transition and stretches of unknown. And me? I’ve been on the move a lot…often feeling unsteady, ungrounded. Yes, some great things/trips/events have happened, but throughout it all, I’ve been unable to shake this sporadic sense of malaise, no doubt triggered by the revisitation of resurfacing *muck* that clearly seeks my attention. (Hi there…yes, I see you…)

While coming up with gratitude lists hasn’t felt tempting or fun as of late (though believe me, I KNOW I’m so lucky in so many ways, of course I do…), it feels better right now to look ahead to things that make me feel hopeful about what lies ahead.

This summer, I want to:

~Spend a lot of time in nature. Hiking, camping, biking, kayking, stargazing. Picnics on beaches, beers + guitar strums by campfires.

~Secure story assignments that inspire me. Find work that fulfills me creatively and points me toward interesting topics and passionate people.

~Spend as much time possible with bare feet, lake hair, toned arms, a strong core, a carefree ‘tude.

~Reconnect with family and friends near and far. More FaceTime, more hand-written notes, more visitors (hint:))

~Drop. The. FOMO. Be happy with where I am, here + now.

~Practice self-care. Mountains, oodles, mounds of self-care.

~Music music music. Listen to it. See it. Feel it.

~Try new things. Get out of my routine. Challenge myself. Push beyond the comfortable. Seek new connections.

~Only devote time and energy to those who reciprocate. Full stop. No exceptions. {To those willing to practice honest, open, raw vulnerability, too.}

~Heed the whisperings. Listen to my gut, listen to my gut, listen to my gut.

~Ban the pity party. I can drop in for a quick hello (maybe, if the moment warrants), but I cannot/will not accept the invitation to stay.

~Release the “stories.” Laugh more. Find the lightness.

~Trust the journey. Even when it feels hard.

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Welcome, Year!

I love when my birthday falls in the calendar year.
I love its ring: 3/3.
I love that it lands in the midst of a blah-ish stretch, yet on the cusp of a new, hopeful season.
I love that it arrives when winter’s felt long, and the blossoming of spring finally feels within reach.

I love that it comes just when I (and others) seem to need a bit of a boost, and this year—even more than usual—I felt absolutely showered by and immersed in love.

I am so lucky, I am so thankful, and I can’t wait to see what goodness this year has in store.

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Hello/Goodbye 2015/2016

I absolutely love end-of-the-year recaps. I enjoy reading what people learned, what they listened to, what they loathed, what they loved.

I always feel great pressure to create my own Year in Review, not because it’s a pesky “should” I feel obligated to complete, but because I think it’s a valuable exercise—a great (and rather fun) excuse for pausing, assessing and celebrating, too.

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This year for me was CHOCK-full of travel. My freelance career took off in newfound directions, for the first time (in a long time) making me feel blessedly unworried about money. I met wonderful people, reaffirmed exquisite, can’t-be-captured-in words bonds with family members and lifelong friends, went to two of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been to, delved even deeper into my yoga practice, got really good use at using Viber and FaceTime audio (hi, fam!), had sweet reunions galore in sun-kissed climates and carefree settings, welcomed fun, go-with-the-flow visitors to my welcoming PNW city, consoled friends in moments of heartache and loss and then this spring said goodbye to my sweet, funny, wonderful grandfather (my last living grandparent).

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I met friends’ cuddlebug babies and bonded with new favorite wee ones and watched some relationships quietly soar to exhilarating heights, while others quietly slipped into the backdrop. I dealt with great disappointments—the pendulum eventually swinging back (as it always does), launching me into smooth periods where it all seemed to perfectly click into place like a well-oiled machine–moments where I wanted to confidently shout, “I’ve got this!” I let out huge gasps of relief when hearing others’ positive health reports; I prayed (and continue to pray) for those still waiting for the tides to turn and for that good news to (please, please, please) roll in.

I used my passport several times (yeeha!), and packed/unpacked my suitcase more times than I care to count. I dipped into the world of glamping by sleeping in a fancy fabric tent and a cozy vintage trailer, I propelled myself down ziplines, and I hovered in a helicopter high above the rainbow-dotted cliffs of the Napali Coast, a couple-minute stretch of magic emblazoned in my memory bank forever. I went on my first international press trip (a huge personal goal) and had several inspirational travel moments—*those* moments, you know the type—that remind me why it is exactly that I continue to do what I do.

Many times, but especially this November, I felt terrified by our world…petrified by the potential evil lurking within the human race.
Then, I felt in absolute awe of our world…uplifted by the potential for love and kindness and triumphal goodness, plus the resiliency of the human spirit.

I had high highs and low lows, euphoric epiphanies and epic meltdowns. I felt utterly alone; I felt fantastically loved and supported. I leaned on the loyal pillars who hold me up when I falter; I listened more intently to that inner voice that alway seems to *know* when I allow it be heard.

For the first time, I went to Memphis, Nashville and Oxford, Mississippi, Hawaii (incredible Kauai), Spain (delicious San Sebastian!) and Costa Rica (Pura Vida). I returned to Austin, San Diego, Whistler and lovely London (seen through a brand-new, local-living lens). I saw new parts of awesome Oregon and the stunning Olympic National Park, and I watched concerts beside beach bonfires and under Happy Valley’s tranquil forest canopy — mystical musical moments that feed my soul in a way I cannot sufficiently record on this page.

I learned a lot and also remembered a lot that I already knew. I am still navigating my way through some decades-old patterns and “stuff,” as we always will/should be I’m finding, and it’s abundantly clear that the journey continues. I am staying curious and non-judgmental, and old stories are slowly chipping away.

For now, though, here are some pearls I know to be true. (More than anything, I write these down as a future reminder to myself.)

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~The bad doesn’t last. Neither does the good. It’s all fleeting. Savor, relish, but don’t cling. It’s all fluid, ever-changing.

That is the bad news. But this happens to be the very, very good news, too.

~Gratitude changes everything.

~ “You can never go wrong doing something nice for someone.” Mom knows best:)

~There are few places more magical on the planet then a Pacific Northwest beach or lake on a radiant, pastel-tinged summer evening.

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~Music makes life better, always.

~As a dear Seattle friend says, you have to follow the “POP.” If it makes you smile, if it puts that pitter-patter in your chest, if it feels right, do it. There doesn’t have to be a logical “why.” If your gut moves you in that direction, by all means, FOLLOW.

~If you’re not sure, sit on it. Silence and space are wondrous tools. Don’t react rashly; step away, wait, view it from a new angle in the morning.

~It’s not personal. Don’t make it about you.

~As humans, we are often terrible predictors of our own emotions. It is silly to preemptively dread a feeling or reaction I am convinced I will have. My emotions are not always logical, and they are certainly not always predictable, but they are what they are. So why waste the time assuming I know? Why not just wait and see? (Heck, perhaps I’ll even surprise myself. In fact, I find that I often do.)

~I am brave. (We are all brave, in ways we forget to acknowledge.) I may be an absolute baby when it comes to doing certain “adult” tasks (ahem car maintenance and calling Comcast), but I am stronger than I often give myself credit for. I went to Pickathon alone (again). I drove with my cousin and her four kids from Chicago to Virginia (again). I spoke some public words at my grandfather’s memorial service. I’ve been self-employed for 4+ years. (Perhaps bravery meets naivety with this one…but I’m going with it:)) I’ve traveled alone to locations near and far (nothing new for me by any means, but a nice reminder that that—a defining characteristic of who I am and who I want to be—is still embedded within me. The adventurous spirit of curiosity burns bright).

~The only constant thing in life is change. I am slowly processing some Seattle goodbye(s?) I’ll have to say in 2016, and while it guts me to the core to even admit of their imminent arrival, it soothes me to know that I’ve done it before, and that—in time— I/we will adjust, adapt, recalibrate. No, it won’t ever be exactly the same, and yes, that makes me really sad. But it is what it is, and when we fight it, we suffer. We must flow with the currents, ride the waves, trust trust trust & simply carry on.

~I can be my own worst enemy. But I can also be my own best champion. In 2016, I want to (continue to) work on championing myself—being big and bold and getting out of my own way a whole heckofalot more.

What do you wish for your 2016?

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Thank you, 2015, for your ups and downs. For your predictabilities, your consistencies and your wild surprises, too. For your many miles, scattered longitudes and latitudes, your countless planes, trains and automobiles that led me to stunning landscapes around our beautiful world. For the people who continuously enrich my life and so often make me feel like the luckiest lass alive.

Bring it on, 2016. I am so excited to see what you have in store.

Big June

My June? It was a LOT. (How was yours?)

It was a lot of everything, I don’t know how else to describe it—emotions, events, reunions, deadlines. Sometimes, life just can be a lot to take in, can’t it? This past month, I was constantly in motion…routine was not a thing.

I went to a beautiful memorial service for my sweet grandfather who I will miss so much. I went to an anniversary BBQ/celebration in memory of my cousin’s husband who has somehow now been gone a year (how can that possibly be?), and that stirred up quite a few things from last summer.

I had special, special reunions with my family (LOVE), my best and oldest gfs, long-lost relatives, super-fun visiting guests and then, in the interim, sweet reunions with my Seattle people, which has felt extra-special when we’re all spinning around one another in crazy summer-schedule travel mode.

In June, I took so many trips down memory lane (a couple literally), I pored over ancient, dog-eared photos, I heard old stories for the first time, I got closer to understanding where I come from and who those people were and are—the long lineage of genetics and events that have fused together to collectively make me me. (The older I get, the more this piques my interest…the more tales I want to hear.)

I have been craving rootedness and schedules and full nights of sleep.
And now it is July, and I am home. Yes, I am still busy, and I still have looming deadlines and umpteen events penciled in, but I am so, so happy to be here. I love the PNW so much, and I especially love it in the summer.

Life is full, but life is good. I am in a grateful place these days (and so grateful to be there), constantly astonished by how this beautiful life continues to unfold.

Wishing you summer days full of browned skin and tangled pool/beach-hair and deep breaths that feel easy and free, the way it should always be.

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School of Life

Life has felt like a bit ole’ lesson book these past few weeks/months. Recent discoveries/re-discoveries:

~I adore Josh Garrels.

~I adore road trips and spontaneous adventures and saying “yes” when I coulda-shoulda-woulda maybe said “no.”

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Dead Lamb Jam 2015 AKA Exploring Yakima

~I adore hiking and nature and tech detoxing, but I adore the post-burn brewpub lunch reward even a wee bit more.

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~I adore live music. I am forever healed/inspired/moved/uplifted by talented performers who share their gifts with us lucky listeners.

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~I adore the PNW and the pre-summer buzz that promises so much sunshine-y, alfresco goodness to come.

~In light of my grandfather’s recent passing (and always reflecting on last summer, too), I am reminded of the following: The most empathetic people are typically those who have grieved themselves. Through their own journey of loss, they have gained beautiful compassion. They understand that, even if you don’t know what to say, something—anything—is always a good bet. This knowledge is a gift. (I want to be one of those ever-compassionate people.)

~For the most part, people are who they are. Different friends play different roles in our lives, and we can count on different folks in very different capacities. There’s no use in wasting time feeling let down by those who simply continue old patterns/ways of being. Instead, it’s best to focus on those who come through in the least expected and most appreciated ways. (That said, in my Seattle “tribe,” there are some rockstars. Friends who challenge me and unconditionally support me and hold me accountable—in the most gentle, loving ways. I am so grateful. From them, I am learning so, so much.)

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Happy Thursdays, friends!

Happy to Report, WANDERLUST Alive & Well Around These Parts!

I loved our Memphis-Oxford, Miss.-Nashville road trip so, so much.

I have oodles more to say—and a million jumbled words drafted—but, for now….photos!

Feeling emotionally grateful for these experiences, these adventures, these friends, this life I get to lead. Sometimes things feel like they’re moving a million miles an hour as of late, and I’m trying to take moments to pause, process and savor it all. I feel in the midst of big things, and I want to remember to be here—truly here—for every step of this unfolding journey.

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Thanks, South, for your warm hospitality! “Y’all come back now” shouldn’t be a problem for this traveler:)

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