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.

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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.

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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

*connections*

“When connections are real, they simply never die. They can be buried, or ignored or walked away from, but never broken. If you’ve deeply resonated with another person or place, the connection remains despite any distance, time, situation, lack of presence, or circumstances. If you’re doubtful then just try it- go and revisit a person or place and see if there’s any sense at all of the space between now and then. If it was truly real, you’ll be instantly swept back into the moment it was before it left- during the same year and place with the same wonder and hope, comfort and heartbeat. Real connections live on forever.”

{This photo of me was taken by my friend Melissa. Doesn't the filter make it EXTRA amazing?}

{This photo of me was taken by my friend Melissa. Doesn’t the filter make it EXTRA amazing?}

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.

Gentle persistence

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Let the Journey Begin

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Come dress yourself in love, let the journey begin.
– Francesca da Rimini

To-do lists, of sorts

Adore this.

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This, today, was bliss.

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