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

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.

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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.

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*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?}

Thankful November: Days 7, 8 & 9

Day 7 * I am thankful for: Saying yes to unexpected adventures.

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Day 8 * Simple beauty.

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Day 9 * Live music. Always, live music.

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Mountain Medicine

I’ve been on (an unintentional) blogging hiatus these past weeks, and to be honest, I wouldn’t even know quite where to begin. Oh, the places I’ve been…my family has been (high, low, everywhere in between).

My words seem extraordinarily inadequate to capture the grief, the sorrow, the mourning, the suck-air-from-lungs sting—and equally insufficient to do justice to the in-between beauty, the all-encompassing love, the inexplicable wonder of it all.

So I will keep it simple for now. These are the dappled skies and blazing sunsets that worked to soothe my soul after one of the saddest weeks I’ve experienced—one in which we said goodbye to a man—a good man—gone far, far, far too soon.

These clouds, these rays—reminders that life goes on, and we must do our best to take it in with appropriate, absolute awe.

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“The goal of life is
to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.”
– Joseph Campbell

Marvelous

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Some days, gratitude flows easier than others. Today, I was very *grateful* to be in that space, open to the beauty of it all.

“What I want is to open up. I want to know what’s inside me. I want everybody to open up. I’m like an imbecile with a can-opener in his hand, wondering where to begin – to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I’m sure of it.

I know it because I feel so marvelous myself most of the time. And when I feel that way everybody seems marvelous… everybody and everything… even pebbles and pieces of cardboard… a match stick lying in the gutter… anything… a goat’s beard, if you like. That’s what I want to write about… and then we’re all going to see clearly, see what a staggering, wonderful, beautiful world it is.”~Henry Miller

Watch

Taken during mom and dad's fab December visit. Can you even believe these clouds are real??

Taken during mom and dad’s fab December visit. Can you even believe these clouds are real??

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
– Anonymous

p.s. Austin bound tomorrow, YEEEEEE-HA! Cannae wait. Hope the weeks have been good so far!

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