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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New Year, A Not-So-New Me

I’m trying to be gentle with myself as I transition from a beautiful, carefree, three-week holiday abroad to homebound, “back-to-reality mode” (which, admittedly, is actually pretty dang good). Overall, it feels nice to be back here in the PNW—amongst these trees, these mountains, these cozy venues and these fabulous friends (whom I’ve missed!)—but man, this jet lag is killer. While I’m feeling far from rested, I will admit there’s something awesome about rising long before the sun and, consequently, enjoying an especially extended and full morning routine.

I’m back into yoga, but definitely not back into eating healthfully. I’m back into working, but definitely not back into working efficiently/non-distractedly. I’m back into brainstorming on 2015 goals and hopes and wishes and dreams, but definitely not into putting anything into practice just yet. Oh well. All that will come. Slow ‘n’ steady…right?

In the meantime, I’m indulging in too-pricey caffeinated treats and buttery scones in a coffee shop that’s currently blasting 80s throwback tunes. Whatever works:)

What’s pulling you through this first week of 2015?

Caffe Ladro sweet potato & sage scone splurge-y decadence

Caffe Ladro sweet potato & sage scone splurge-y decadence

Hello, 2015 (from your jet-lagged friend)!

I’ve been up since 5. My body (and mind) are still over in Western Europe, and aside from my internal clock thinking it’s a gazillion time zones ahead of what it is here in the PNW, my swirling mind has entirely too much to process and replay and savor from the past three weeks to possibly quiet…And strangely, loads of Irish speak seems to be circulating around that busy noggin, too.”Gaff,” “craic,” ahhh how I love those folks!

[Also, sadly, my home/to-do-list-fueled/overstimulated brain has already begun to kick back on. Note to self: Fight that! Not welcomed here this year, thank you very much.]

So, for now, sleep can wait.

Alas…hours before the sun rose, as you do when in the disorien(ta)ted throes of jet lag, I made a delirious brekkie burrito by the light of the kitchen stove (the clean eating can wait a few days yet….) and relished some Christmas Minstrels (chocolate) around 7 am (it’s afternoon over there anyway, right?) while watching a so-so movie on Netflix to ease me into the day.

I don’t have the steam for a full recap in me just yet, but let me say this:
My trip was really fantastic. Just really special, sprinkled with moments of magic—the obvious, extraordinary ones and also the more mundane. In many ways it felt simple, comfortable, all about cosiness and connectedness. I felt that creative/adventurous spark reignited within me (one that I sometimes worry might be ever-so-slightly beginning to wane… But I know that it hasn’t, and it won’t…).

I lead such a blessed life, and traveling away from the routine seems to remind me of this time and again. In some ways, going abroad always feels like coming home.

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Perhaps it was in light of a year that came along with some really, really tough bits and loss, that this togetherness with my people felt extra weighted in goodness and bliss. Maybe this perspective comes with age…or the fact that I currently live thousands of miles from my most favorite people on the planet. I don’t know.

In any case, teas and tiffins and pints and pies shared with my incredible family (in England) and dear friends (in Ireland) made this holiday season one of the most wonderful and memorable of my 35 years. I am so grateful. (I don’t know how to state this all without sounding like a giant sap.) But it’s true. I feel so lucky, and often I marvel at how I get to walk this life with these amazing people—in these amazing places.

Delighting in a true Irish coffee on the final day of 2014. (Photo by Corinne Whiting)

Delighting in a true Irish coffee on the final day of 2014. (Photo by Corinne Whiting)

Something also felt so unexpectedly right about ringing in the New Year in one of my favorite cities on Earth (Dublin), under the care of the most gracious, welcoming hosts. I’m so glad I followed my gut on that one.

As I lifted off, up over these stunning verdant fields of Eire on the 2nd of January—exhausted and stuffed, full-hearted and homebound—I truly sensed the fullness of it all. The riches this holiday season brought and the promise of the year to come.

Happy 2015, friends.

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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.

Happy New Year!

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“I live not in dreams but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

What kind of future do you contemplate today, on this last day of the year? I am feeling quiet and reflective, as I relive some highlights of 2012 (oh, and there were many!) and as I look ahead to some projected/desired/believed realities for 2013.

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful New Year, bursting with the possibility of what’s to come!

HAPPY NEW YEAR:)!!!

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Hope you’re all easing your way back into the real world with cozy cuppas and soothing tunes today. Be gentle and kind to yourselves (and others!) this week, friends. Easy does it… Off to drink another mug of my new Scottish tea:) Thanks, Santa!

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Little Drummer Girl

I often think about the Happiness Project chapter where the writer forced herself each Monday to select, at random, three new  magazines to read in order to expand her horizons. It’s so easy to stick with the comfortable things that we already know, isn’t it? I love this simple reminder to take steps outside of our zone.

After debating whether or not this was a financially sound decision, I bit the bullet and bought a Living Social deal for unlimited hand drum classes at a school in Fremont. New year, new adventures, right? 🙂 It could be a total hand-hurting flop or a total fun-loving, foot-tapping score. We’ll see.

With any kind of luck, I’ll be joining the Meridian Hill drum circle next time I’m in town….Stay tuned!

What new things might you try this year?