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

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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Happy Birthday, Grandpa Buggs

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Today is my grandpa’s birthday, the first one since he passed on in June. It’s so odd, such an ache, to not have that phone call to make to Binghamton today, and I know my dad is feeling that void most of all:( I feel as though I should be honoring the day in some special way, and yet I don’t quite know how. (What would even feel close to sufficient?)

So for now I want to share this precious photo of my grandpa (with my dad), a man who taught me so much about what it means to be gentle and kind, hard-working and humble. He always knew how to share a good belly laugh, and he often had an alluring twinkle in those electric blue eyes. He didn’t need much; he seemed to enjoy the simple things (his morning coffee with his neighbors, his afternoon sits under his beloved front-yard tree). There is so much to be learned from him and the way he lived. In some ways, we could relate on so few things (we led very different lives), and yet we shared a bond so very special. I am so grateful to have had a grandparent well into adulthood. I suppose this is the true gift to focus on.

Happy birthday, Grandpa. We miss and love you so much!

Family & “Family,” Holidays & *Signs*

This past holiday weekend, I was feeling soooo homesick. Sure, I have a boatload of amazing friends here who now feel like family, plus I am SO lucky to have a surrogate “West Coast family” (my brother’s in-laws), who could NOT be more welcoming or warm to be around. (I spent a super fun and relaxed day with them on Saturday.)

And yet, this weekend I felt this deep aching for my family, our traditions, the familiarity and predictability of our holidays spent together—kooky quirks ‘n’ all. (I’ve also been feeling a bit disconnected recently from some of my home friends and craving their company and conversation, too.) Life feels so full as of late, and I am forever feeling I am dropping the ball on communication with someone who I care deeply about. It’s hard to keep up. And sometimes I worry the distance is actually taking a wee toll—yet I am determined to not let it win. It’s a balance, for sure.

Anyway, I didn’t quite know how I’d spend Easter Sunday, and since this is a veryyyyyy last-minute town, the invites started rolling in around Saturday afternoon/evening (!). Why do I worry? I should always remember that things will unfold as they should (sometimes just a bit later in this non-committal NW land!).

So in an unexpected, random outcome of events, I ended up going to a friend’s friend’s lovely brunch in a LOVELY West Seattle home, and the meal was exactly what I had been craving. Egg casserole just like my mom’s, banana bread, mimosas, overflowing spinach salad, pesto deviled eggs (um yum!), a beautiful, long table set with fresh flowers (just like my mom’s or aunt’s). It was a full house of adults and cute kids and a really mellow, easy vibe that just permeated the light-filled home. (I so crave to be this kind of host!)

When I walked in, I learned the happy news that this chica I really like was coming (who looks sooo much like my cousin Jen—Sunday was Jen’s birthday, and who has the name “Besty,” like my mom’s wonderful aunt), as was Betsy’s son Elliott (the same name as my D.C. cousin Pat’s son).

I suddenly released a massive sigh; the sadness lifted…I can’t fully explain it, but I no longer felt that my family was so far away.

Okay, Universe, I said. I get it. It’s all good.

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I’m more and a more a believer in tuning in to these “signs,” these little lil’ zany love taps. Sure, you could write them off as silly “coincidences,” but I’m keen to draw more from it all.

Hoping you had a lovely weekend, surrounded by love & light, family & friends.

Another Year *Wiser*

The thing about birthdays, is they make you wonder…how are there days when we—when I—could ever possibly forget that I am so, so surrounded by love?

What a brilliant reminder.

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“You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” ~RUMI

Like No One’s Watching

“Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.”~ OSHO

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I just LOVED this little guy at last weekend’s bluegrass extravaganza (inside a Hyatt Regency, of all places), who was dancing his wee heart out—stationed front and center—in jig-ready wellies/boots. He paid no attention whatsoever to who else might be watching (and believe me, I was not the only one captivated by his enthusiastically-executed freestyle moves). His lack of inhibition was so refreshing and inspiring.

At what age do we lose that freedom, and when is it time to get it back?

I turn 36 tomorrow, and, if I’m being totally honest, that number catches me a bit by surprise. It’s been mostly a really good year, sprinkled with some moments that were tougher than I could have ever foreseen as well as many moments that were far more magnificent than I ever could have possibly dreamed up. I will find myself celebrating sans family for the first time in forever, which makes me sad, but I also relish the fact that I will be surrounded by a loving, supportive, fun, funny, soulful “family” of Seattle-based folks who are more amazing than I could have envisioned before I surprisingly dropped my finger on this place on the map.

Here’s to a new year of possibility and moving in joy…..like this lil’ lad reminded me, the beauty of dancing—wild & free—like no one else is watching at all.

Hello, 2015 (from your jet-lagged friend)!

I’ve been up since 5. My body (and mind) are still over in Western Europe, and aside from my internal clock thinking it’s a gazillion time zones ahead of what it is here in the PNW, my swirling mind has entirely too much to process and replay and savor from the past three weeks to possibly quiet…And strangely, loads of Irish speak seems to be circulating around that busy noggin, too.”Gaff,” “craic,” ahhh how I love those folks!

[Also, sadly, my home/to-do-list-fueled/overstimulated brain has already begun to kick back on. Note to self: Fight that! Not welcomed here this year, thank you very much.]

So, for now, sleep can wait.

Alas…hours before the sun rose, as you do when in the disorien(ta)ted throes of jet lag, I made a delirious brekkie burrito by the light of the kitchen stove (the clean eating can wait a few days yet….) and relished some Christmas Minstrels (chocolate) around 7 am (it’s afternoon over there anyway, right?) while watching a so-so movie on Netflix to ease me into the day.

I don’t have the steam for a full recap in me just yet, but let me say this:
My trip was really fantastic. Just really special, sprinkled with moments of magic—the obvious, extraordinary ones and also the more mundane. In many ways it felt simple, comfortable, all about cosiness and connectedness. I felt that creative/adventurous spark reignited within me (one that I sometimes worry might be ever-so-slightly beginning to wane… But I know that it hasn’t, and it won’t…).

I lead such a blessed life, and traveling away from the routine seems to remind me of this time and again. In some ways, going abroad always feels like coming home.

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Perhaps it was in light of a year that came along with some really, really tough bits and loss, that this togetherness with my people felt extra weighted in goodness and bliss. Maybe this perspective comes with age…or the fact that I currently live thousands of miles from my most favorite people on the planet. I don’t know.

In any case, teas and tiffins and pints and pies shared with my incredible family (in England) and dear friends (in Ireland) made this holiday season one of the most wonderful and memorable of my 35 years. I am so grateful. (I don’t know how to state this all without sounding like a giant sap.) But it’s true. I feel so lucky, and often I marvel at how I get to walk this life with these amazing people—in these amazing places.

Delighting in a true Irish coffee on the final day of 2014. (Photo by Corinne Whiting)

Delighting in a true Irish coffee on the final day of 2014. (Photo by Corinne Whiting)

Something also felt so unexpectedly right about ringing in the New Year in one of my favorite cities on Earth (Dublin), under the care of the most gracious, welcoming hosts. I’m so glad I followed my gut on that one.

As I lifted off, up over these stunning verdant fields of Eire on the 2nd of January—exhausted and stuffed, full-hearted and homebound—I truly sensed the fullness of it all. The riches this holiday season brought and the promise of the year to come.

Happy 2015, friends.

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