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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Easter Coastal Getaway

Seabrook is an odd little place, a “new town,” established on the Washington coast in 2004. It’s very picket-fence-Americana with a beachy twist (and currently, lots of construction in the works). I kept saying I felt like we were on a production set, ‘Gilmore Girls’ to be exact. Our beach house was airy and spacious, though, and the perks ranged from a private hot tub to an awesome front porch con rocking chairs, perfect for a morning cup of joe or an evening cocktail. Our weather was glorious Friday and so-so the other days, but I think the ocean is pretty darn spectacular, rain or shine.

An absolute highlight was a spontaneous pitstop on the drive home at a roadside BBQ joint that was friendly, delicious and FULL o’swines. Pig heaven. There was a group of local ladies in the corner singing happy birthday to 80-something-year-old Judy, and one of the young servers delicately polished the restaurant’s cook-off trophies up front in between delivering piles of brisket. Matt and KL treated (they are so generous!), and we shared a huge hunking slice of pecan pie, which, in my mind, made it feel like a real holiday. Hope you all had nice Easters, too!

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It was a darn good birthday!

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New Year Goodness

Dawn of a New Year

Dawn of a New Year

Usually, even when it shouldn’t, New Year’s Eve carries with it a lot of pressure, a lot of build-up, a lot of expectations. (I know I am not alone in feeling this way.) It feels like a stressful deadline to have fully processed the year that’s about to come to a close and to have neatly laid out all of one’s goals and intentions for the year to come.

Sometimes, I honestly feel relief when it’s over. For me, everything on this holiday feels a bit too crowded, a bit too sloppy, a bit too forced. (Next year, I repeat, all I crave is a cozy fireside dinner party with all my nearest and dearest in a remote cabin in the woods. Oh, and snow falling softly outside our window and a late-night acoustic jam by the flickering flames would be great, too, thanks:))

Party @ a home

Party @ a home

Party @ a bar

Party @ a bar

My NYE was fine, filled with moments that were good, but when the first morning of 2014 arrived, I also sighed a huge sigh of relief. My January 1st, in contrast, was FANTASTIC. One of my Seattle BFFs, who happens to live about three blocks from me, invited me over for a day of total vegging, and I loved it. She cooked (health-conscious but delicious food), we watched movies, we sipped some wine, we rehashed the night before and looked forward to the year ahead. We allowed ourselves that rare chance to be total yoga pants-wearing-sloths for an entire day without feeling one iota of guilt. It was divine.

The simple day reminded me of a few wishes I hope to hold close for the year ahead. Drop the “shoulds.” Do what feels good. Indulge. Maintain moderation. Surround yourself with those with whom it’s zero effort, who get you, who listen, who build you up,  who make you laugh. Be present. Appreciate the now.

Laugh easily. Dream hopefully. Trust steadfastly. Allow joy. Live with ease. Be grateful for it all.

New Year's Day bliss: zucchini-shiitake bruschetta, a wee bit of vino and Sweet Home Alabama on the tube

New Year’s Day bliss: zucchini-shiitake bruschetta, a wee bit of vino and Sweet Home Alabama on the tube

Happy New Year, friends.

*f-a-m-i-l-y*

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I love these guys something fierce.

(Sometimes I love them so much it hurts a little.)

Sure, on occasion we may make each other a wee bit sad or mad or even batty, but in the end, we are family. They are everything.

They are my heart.

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Office-less

[Christmasing up my kitchen]
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It’s strange, but this seems to be the time of year I most miss having an office (one of the few occasions, I will add). Yep, even the awkward holiday parties with co-workers and dreaded name-pulling for the office gift draw have an allure when viewed from afar. Indeed, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

At festive times of year, it’s nice to be part of a community (even if it’s not one you love every day). So go sneak an extra cookie from the office kitchen tin for me, will you worker bees?

Home x2

I know I’ve written on this topic before, but I realize that, two-plus years in, I am still very much learning how to navigate the tango of having two places I whole-heartedly call “home.” I am the first to admit I am still figuring out how to gracefully move through the steps of this dance—of taking the now-me back to the place where the then-me lived for so much of her life.

Home home can be complicated. So much of it is cozy and comfortable and indulgent and love-filled (reunions galore!), and I am so grateful to have “problems” like not knowing how to fit in quality time with so many people there whom I love. Even so, it’s a (sometimes draining) juggling act, especially for someone who hates to ever feel as though they’re letting anyone down.

Home can also sneak-attack upon you a lot of old “stuff.” It’s frighteningly easy to fall back into old patterns, old roles. It’s all so familiar, sometimes I swear I could hop on the orange line back to my N Street apartment; for fleeting moments, I forget I have built an entire life out here waiting for my return. It’s odd. I see things with new eyes—a bit differently now, and I can relate to certain things/mentalities/customs/etc. even less than I could two years back.

Plus, with each visit, it is inevitable that I realize some people I love so much are thriving and doing wonderfully. Others are working through rocky patches, going through tough transitions, slightly floundering…. I know that this is normal. This is life. But I prefer when all is peachy-keen. (I am a Pisces, after all:)) And even though I know logically that my physical distance makes no-to-little difference on everyone’s current happiness, it is hard to feel removed from it…from them. At times, I feel guilty for being so dang far.

That said, parts of this past visit were really, really great, and I’ll try to post some of those photos soon!

But tonight, I’m cozily tucked into my apartment, which is warmly lit by the teeny-tiny, fake alpine tree I bought today at Fred Meyer and is making me very, very happy. (The little things!)

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I am really super excited to have my parents heading out here in only two weeks, and I am content after a day filled with some of my ideal neighborhood staples (a warm welcome back from my yoga community, pho with one of my Seattle BFFs, a stroll through the Sunday Fremont Fair). Today, I began to feel much more settled in.

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Last night I saw a concert in an amazing setting, St. Mark’s Cathedral perched on Capitol Hill high above the lake dotted with twinkling boats. It was chilly in the church, and at first, I was feeling a bit disoriented and jet-lagged and “off.” But overall, the night was really special; I heard some stunning voices echoing throughout this beautiful space, as I sat sandwiched between some of my most favorite Seattle people.

And I thought, “Yes. This is a good, good home.”

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