The Air Up There: Boston->Seattle edition

The thing about travel, is that it reminds me that people are good. The tattooed Bostonian seatmate with the accent as thick as chowda who offers to take down my bulky baggage from the overhead bin. The Cape Cod grandma who excitedly chats my ear off, en route to Madrona to see her son, his partner and their two brand-new twins. My kind Uber driver from Morocco who openly admits his family has been so worried about his safety after learning of the mosque shooting from far across the miles.

It gets me away from the headlines and the dizzying social media swirl that is desperately trying (and failing) to keep up accurately with these scary and infuriating times in which we find ourselves flailing.

img_8789

This movement across various landscapes—so different and yet so much the same—reminds me that America is suited business people from around the globe gathering for a mid-workday meal of creamy curry. It’s still-bright-eyed 20-somethings, bellied up alongside run-down 40-somethings, grabbing post-office cocktails to unload the weight of the day (or week or month or year…). It’s a sleepy seaside village in the country’s Northeast corner, lit up with the warm glow of a setting winter sun.

The world, you see—it keeps on spinning.

It’s people like me, like you, living real, everyday lives in the midst of this madness. A comforting glimpse of the minutiae, the mundane routine that I must remember, in spite of the big picture that currently carries a darkness so heavy it’s often hard to know where to look.

(*and as I type this, I whole-heartedly acknowledge the incredible, fortunate luxury I have of simply choosing to look away when I need a break from it all.)

———————————————————————

I’m on a flight from Boston to Seattle, ironically reading Pico Iyer—a personal hero’s—short book “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere.” My five (yes, five) trips of January were distinctively different, social, active, productive, invigorating, tedious, tiring, delicious and fun. It’s been a multitasking whirlwind, and I’ve seen so many people I hold dear. And for that I’m always, always so grateful.

And now, I’m craving a little quiet.

A little stillness.

A little PNW Zen.

Happy February, friends.

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

A New Season ( & Hi! How’ve you been?)

 

img_6491

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.

img_6489

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.)

img_6485

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.

img_6510

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Routine (Thoughts on Scandi Vacay, Part I)

IMG_3162
In Katrin’s garden, there is time and space to ease into the day, as it should be done.

Bare toes on soft earth. Gentle yogic stretching on fleece blanket bathed in morning rays. Birds chirping, butterflies bopping, cats prowling.
There is time to journal and think and zone and thank before dipping into endless scrolling through texts, emails, memes, distractions, photos & recordings of lives that are not my own.

Gradually we rise, convene, assemble—filling pitchers, gathering dishes, laying out a hodgepodge spread on the alfresco tablecloth of nutty breads, bowls of fruit and packets of meat, plus smooth toppings (butter, Nutella and that delightfully thick local honey that slowlllly cascades over the edge of your spoon).

The day starts with intention and presence, gently reinforcing just how good this life can be—how really, really, really good it already is.

This trip reminded me there is magic all around. (I always know, but I tend to forget more often than I’d care to admit…) I’m tuned back into the *awe* at the moment (thank you, Travel!), and I’m not stopping the search now.

*******

IMG_3231

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

Goodnight Moon

I’m working on my patio by the light of a fuzzy moon and a neon laptop, and I hear signs of life swirling around my little apartment cocoon. They provide a sense of community and comfort on this mid-week April night. (A toddler puffs into a harmonica on the balcony across the way, and the far-off stream of I-5 traffic mingles with the overhead noises of coasting planes.) These familiar noises soothe.

I’ve been anything but light these recent weeks, and a return from Hawaii has (ironically) brought some levity. (And sure, the week’s sensational Seattle sunshine and feel-good vibes pulsating throughout the manic city’s streets haven’t hurt either.)

When the quiet finally comes after stretches of such clenched-up grasping, I feel grateful. Relieved. Clearer. Lighter.

It’s strange to think that that’s the same moon I ogled so recently through a high-elevation telescope way up on a Hawaiian volcano. It’s as peaceful to watch the evening breezes rustle these Northwest pines as it was the island palms.

For a moment, in this moment, it’s all tranquil. It’s all good. I’ll hold onto it while it’s here. Goodnight, moon. Goodnight, world.

IMG_1996

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries