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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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.

On the Road Again: Costa Rica

On night one, I sat in the sterile-meets-snazzy hotel restaurant, knowing it was entirely too posh and AC’ed and buttoned-up for the country I was about to see, but feeling perfectly OK to hover in that comfortable safety zone before launching into the week ahead. I peered around expectantly (and excitedly!) in the restaurant and lobby, hoping to find someone..anyone..from my group, but alas, I navigated that first night alone (probably just fine, considering the exhaustion headache pressing on my temples).

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So instead I dove into my smartphone’s WiFi, ordered the grilled veggie panini—all in English (cringeworthy, in hindsight)—acutely aware of and nearly embarrassed by how “American” (North American, I should say) I knew I appeared during that first evening of the trip.

But I cut myself slack, easing back into what it means and what it feels like to be alone far from home, in a land that is so foreign (and so not Europe, which practically doesn’t feel foreign to me much of the time). And I gave myself permission to enjoy the cookie-cutter accommodations—removed from the humid buzz of real Costa Rican life outside—tiredly, deliriously, disoriented-ly indulging in the comfy bed, real water pressure, cable TV and properly flushing toilet. Even a slice of (something?) cake greeting me on my desk.

Sometimes it’s OK to hover in that familiar zone, I think, before we take the step out into the unknown. Steadying ourselves for the rich, full, multi-tired, multi-emotional experiences that are to come.

Places change us, thank goodness, and before long we become temporarily immersed in their tapestry, their rhythms, their unique cadences. (As I type this, I hear the accented English of Freddy and Diego swirling in my head.) And we come to realize that we can never get back to those night #1s in which we felt tentative and vulnerable and unsure—which really, looking back, is a very sweet and beautiful place to be.

We returned to this same San Jose hotel on our last night, and it looked entirely different to me after a week of experiencing this land of friendly “ticos,” a week I am still processing, because—like all travel—it had many highs and a couple lows.

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Yet I know for sure that the following are key buzzwords from the cumulative experience:

*COLORS, zip line, crocodile safari, sweat, butterflies, monkeys, clouds, city traffic, beach sunsets, rice and beans, fresh fruit juices, surfer man buns, patience, impatience, WiFi, anxiety, tranquility, car time, motion sickness, potholes, flora, bugs, vultures, language lessons, “mai,” tile floors, open walls, lazy fans, roaming chickens, plastic furniture, scamping iguanas, plantains, brilliantly-hued birds, macaws, dodgy AC units, spitting shower faucets, heavy humidity, “sodas,” cumbia, laughter, “cafecitos,” Paris terrorist attack {fear, horror, sadness, heavy-hearted, gut-punched, surreal}, futbol match, garlic “shrimps,” note-taking, “pipa,” Pilsen, miscommunications, camaraderie, “Ole, ole, ole…ticos, ticos!,”storytelling, community,“muchas gracias,” goodbyes, “Pura Vida!”*

Costa Rica reminded me so much of Kauai, Cambodia and countless other destinations, plus allll my time spent in incredible, alive SudAmerica, an era that sometimes slips from my consciousness as time marches on. I am so grateful for explorations that remind me of long-forgotten journeys and inspire me for adventures to come. It is a vast and wondrous world indeed, and I feel forever fortunate to venture beyond my own little corner.

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Rags to Riches, Ramen to Royalty

Sometimes being a freelance writer is a string of sleepless nights fretting about money & bills & an uncertain future. (And oh yeah, 401Ks, what’re those again? Eeps.)

And, other times, it’s a frantic call from a PR friend who’s had a last-minute cancellation on a press trip, so she wants to know if you’d pretty, pretty please come stay in one of your favorite downtown hotels and eat dinner with them and then eat brekkie the next day (among other amazing proposals)? Um, yeah, sure, OK. Twist my arm! It’s a funny world, my friends, I tell ya:)

When I began this journey as a green, naive, little writer-wannabe, I had no clue what I was signing up for. But boy am I glad I keep trekking down this winding trail.

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On the Go

Sometimes I have {internal} freak-outs—even if subtle ones—when I feel things are going really well. I overload easily, and I realize it doesn’t always have to be over bad/sad/stressful situations—sometimes it happens when there is also a surplus of good, of excitement, of movement in general.

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Does this make sense? Does this happen to anyone else?

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Recently, there’s a lot going on, and a lot of it is really fricking amazing. (I mean, like certain things just seem to have dropped into place super-duper flawlessly. I am amazed!) And I am so grateful.

But why do I always feel the need to simultaneously find some wood to knock on as I marinate in the delivery of such goodness? What do I need to do to just trust, to simply believe that it’s possible and deserved and true?

I’ve recently been having to work really hard to remain even-keeled and grounded in the midst of this swirl of activity—wisely gearing up (mentally and physically) for a travel-heavy next couple months, while at the same time trying my best to balance deadlines, relationships, quiet time here. Staying in the moment while wisely prepping and planning for what’s to come.

If you have any tips on how to stay in the HERE (in the midst of the promise of the later and the holding on to/honoring of the then), I’d love to hear ’em.
Thanks, friends.

Welcome, September. I have a good feeling about you!

What We Hear

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“If we follow our desire, our instincts, what we hear, what we’re hungry for, our whole earthly vibration rises. We might actually hear ourselves humming. That’s the music inside of us getting louder. That’s us tuning into our own unique and glorious frequency. The only thing we have to do is start listening and be brave enough to act on what we hear.” -Laurie Wagner, 27 Powers

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Dance On

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?”
~ Gabrielle Roth

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