Basking in the Glow

I am drinking my morning smoothie by the light of a freshly-lit candle and my ultra-wee fake tree (a Fred Meyer purchase many years old that brings me more joy than I could have ever foreseen). I am remembering all the mornings Mom would turn on the tree before school so we could eat our Cream of Wheat under its magical glow—such a cozy start to each day during one of my favorite seasons.

IMG_5997

Often I think about how special it was when all four of us lived together under one roof—our reality for so many years, when we simply knew no other way. I deeply miss those days when we were one solitary unit, when we hadn’t yet learned to spread our wings and fly. Now, on the rare occasions it happens again (like this December!!), I soak up every second, grateful to hear their oh-so-familiar footsteps and voices—ingrained in the core of my being—once again sharing my space.

I feel very excited for this December. My calendar is piled high with festive events and joyous reunions with so many friends at once—another rarity I appreciate now more than ever before. This season makes me hopeful. (It also makes me nervous when I see how much I’ve committed to, so I’ve tried to offset the “busy” with a slew of new self-care techniques and appointments that I can’t wait to try…)

Sometimes, often, I really love the quiet of my little apartment—a sacred space I attempt to fill with hygge and happy. On this gray morning, I hear: the rhythmic patter of rain, the squawk of a cranky bird (seagull?), tunes from the “Wild” soundtrack I downloaded last night. Sometimes, though, I also can’t wait to once again live in a home filled with other voices and footsteps—music and laughter and life and love. And I really do trust it’s coming soon.

Happy almost December, all. Here’s to basking in the promising light of the season.

Advertisements

Reflections // Welcome, New Year

fullsizerender-22

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.

IMG_2691

IMG_2757

IMG_3180

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_2421

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.

IMG_6525 (1)

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).

IMG_6195

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.)

*************************************************

~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.

IMG_1559

~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?

Lake Quinault Lodge

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.

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.

IMG_2060

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

*************************************************************************

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!

ISO a Stronger Connection

{*Published after the fact, back in the big city. I miss the quiet; my brain feels rattled already on a particularly noisy night in my ‘hood.}

I say all the time that I need to unplug more. All. The. Time. What does it take for me take to actually do this at this point in the frightfully embarrassing addiction/dependency game? Sad as it is, the physical absence of a strong WiFi signal, allowing me to power down and attention up. Tune in. Reconnect. Reboot. Re-root.

To listen. Really listen.

IMG_1568

The wind is the loudest thing I hear—and, now, also the glug glug glugging of paddles powering by on the nearby lake. I tune in more, and I notice that’s not all…more instruments contribute to this background playlist; there is a bird’s stuttering whistle, a neighbor’s faint sneeze, a cloth cabin strap’s boomeranging zinnngggg, a dog’s high-pitched yelp. I kick off my flops, cos I want to feel the pine needles under my toes, the Earth under the soles of my city feet.

The breeze blows, and I am cold, but I am happy. I am alone under this verdant canopy—just me and the trees and the slowly-lowering afternoon sun. (Oh, and that robin over there popping, hopping through a pine cone obstacle course of sorts.)

I try to read or journal or write or anything, but I get stuck watching the light dapples dance on the cabin “roof” next door. There is everything to see, everything to do—but nothing all at once.

This attentiveness, it is rare. It is needed. I vow (yet again) to get it back.

IMG_1581

IMG_1600

Previous Older Entries