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

Big June

My June? It was a LOT. (How was yours?)

It was a lot of everything, I don’t know how else to describe it—emotions, events, reunions, deadlines. Sometimes, life just can be a lot to take in, can’t it? This past month, I was constantly in motion…routine was not a thing.

I went to a beautiful memorial service for my sweet grandfather who I will miss so much. I went to an anniversary BBQ/celebration in memory of my cousin’s husband who has somehow now been gone a year (how can that possibly be?), and that stirred up quite a few things from last summer.

I had special, special reunions with my family (LOVE), my best and oldest gfs, long-lost relatives, super-fun visiting guests and then, in the interim, sweet reunions with my Seattle people, which has felt extra-special when we’re all spinning around one another in crazy summer-schedule travel mode.

In June, I took so many trips down memory lane (a couple literally), I pored over ancient, dog-eared photos, I heard old stories for the first time, I got closer to understanding where I come from and who those people were and are—the long lineage of genetics and events that have fused together to collectively make me me. (The older I get, the more this piques my interest…the more tales I want to hear.)

I have been craving rootedness and schedules and full nights of sleep.
And now it is July, and I am home. Yes, I am still busy, and I still have looming deadlines and umpteen events penciled in, but I am so, so happy to be here. I love the PNW so much, and I especially love it in the summer.

Life is full, but life is good. I am in a grateful place these days (and so grateful to be there), constantly astonished by how this beautiful life continues to unfold.

Wishing you summer days full of browned skin and tangled pool/beach-hair and deep breaths that feel easy and free, the way it should always be.

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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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Thankful November: Day 12

Day 12 * I’m thankful for: Blue skies. Hot tea. Steaming pho. Cold medicine. Almost-didn’t-happen runs. The magical glow that splashes the city before dusk. Imminent reunions with friends + family. Late-night writing inspiration. (Gratitude lists that are supposed to contain one item but grow + grow + grow…)

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Mates, Marfa, Magic

When you make friends abroad, from the get-go, your connections are accelerated, your bonds  fortified, your interactions family-like. This past weekend, I reunited with two such friends, two of my very best—wonderful chicas who I met while living and studying in bonnie Edinburgh, Scotland. These two are unexpected forever souvenirs from an overseas chapter written nearly a decade ago.

We’ve shared hilarious, beautiful and a few never-again-please adventures in DC and Philly, NOLA and Glasgow, Shanghai and Phnom Penh, Athens and Cairo. In some ways, we are drastically different; in many, we are perfectly the same. With these girls, I feel at utmost ease, loved, truly seen. “Thankful” doesn’t seem to quite cut it. (And, besides, I cannae risk getting too sappy on here, or one sister-friend might get to some serious eye-rollin ;).)

This most recent reunion in Austin (our 4th, in fact!), we journeyed west to a desert town marked by real-live details rich in Hollywood-esque charm—tumbleweed, cowboys and one unhurried traffic light that blinks with purpose and ease. Here in the west of Texas, there is a quiet that envelopes the never-ending expanse of yellows and browns (except when a train whizzes through town, momentarily exciting the stillness). At dusk, a warm evening light drenches stucco buildings—blank canvases willing to take part—in hues so delicious you yearn to freeze-frame this canvas in your mind. In a space this open, breathing comes without thought.

There is a quirky magic to this place, Marfa. And to share it with two of my favorite world explorers? Simply: Wow.

Thanks, lassies, for this newest gem to add to our memory list. What a beautiful ride it’s been so far.

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*f-a-m-i-l-y*

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I love these guys something fierce.

(Sometimes I love them so much it hurts a little.)

Sure, on occasion we may make each other a wee bit sad or mad or even batty, but in the end, we are family. They are everything.

They are my heart.

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LOVE

{Mom looking out over Elliott Bay. I LOVE love love having my parents here in my new city:)}

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“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”—Erich Fromm

It’s a big week over here (My “baby” brother is getting married! My family is here! My relatives are en route! My friends are coming!), and in order to fully soak in the enormity of it all, I’m trying my best to stay present & grateful & grounded & calm (without stressing that I’m not present enough or grateful enough or calm enough….make sense?). Just breathe. Savor. Enjoy.

I think/hope we’ve reached the really fun part of the week, where it’s all about picking people up and showing newcomers our town and gathering for big, waterside reunions—an eclectic melange  of people from our past (our entire lives, really) who mean so much to us and have flown so far to join in on the celebrations. It’s utterly surreal. It’s great. Life is good.

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