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

Home x2

I know I’ve written on this topic before, but I realize that, two-plus years in, I am still very much learning how to navigate the tango of having two places I whole-heartedly call “home.” I am the first to admit I am still figuring out how to gracefully move through the steps of this dance—of taking the now-me back to the place where the then-me lived for so much of her life.

Home home can be complicated. So much of it is cozy and comfortable and indulgent and love-filled (reunions galore!), and I am so grateful to have “problems” like not knowing how to fit in quality time with so many people there whom I love. Even so, it’s a (sometimes draining) juggling act, especially for someone who hates to ever feel as though they’re letting anyone down.

Home can also sneak-attack upon you a lot of old “stuff.” It’s frighteningly easy to fall back into old patterns, old roles. It’s all so familiar, sometimes I swear I could hop on the orange line back to my N Street apartment; for fleeting moments, I forget I have built an entire life out here waiting for my return. It’s odd. I see things with new eyes—a bit differently now, and I can relate to certain things/mentalities/customs/etc. even less than I could two years back.

Plus, with each visit, it is inevitable that I realize some people I love so much are thriving and doing wonderfully. Others are working through rocky patches, going through tough transitions, slightly floundering…. I know that this is normal. This is life. But I prefer when all is peachy-keen. (I am a Pisces, after all:)) And even though I know logically that my physical distance makes no-to-little difference on everyone’s current happiness, it is hard to feel removed from it…from them. At times, I feel guilty for being so dang far.

That said, parts of this past visit were really, really great, and I’ll try to post some of those photos soon!

But tonight, I’m cozily tucked into my apartment, which is warmly lit by the teeny-tiny, fake alpine tree I bought today at Fred Meyer and is making me very, very happy. (The little things!)

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I am really super excited to have my parents heading out here in only two weeks, and I am content after a day filled with some of my ideal neighborhood staples (a warm welcome back from my yoga community, pho with one of my Seattle BFFs, a stroll through the Sunday Fremont Fair). Today, I began to feel much more settled in.

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Last night I saw a concert in an amazing setting, St. Mark’s Cathedral perched on Capitol Hill high above the lake dotted with twinkling boats. It was chilly in the church, and at first, I was feeling a bit disoriented and jet-lagged and “off.” But overall, the night was really special; I heard some stunning voices echoing throughout this beautiful space, as I sat sandwiched between some of my most favorite Seattle people.

And I thought, “Yes. This is a good, good home.”

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Lake Street Dive

Do y’all know these guys? You should. I mean, really, you should.

I have seen and continue to see quite a bit of live music, and I can honestly say that this show was one for the record books—a concert I’ll never forget (along with that first time Langhorne/Sean spellbound me in teeny-tiny Iota and that evening the Fleet Foxes unexpectedly awed us all into collective silence with their harmonizing perfection on the Black Cat’s smaller stage, just before word got out, and they launched off into super-stardom).

In the presence of such genius, engulfed in such a special scene, when it all just falls into place, when it all works—I feel so lucky to share the space with these amazing artists who have decided to share their talent with us. I mean, with us!

Last night, too, there was magic in the air in the dimly-lit, sold-out room of the Tractor Tavern, the majority of surrounding Ballard businesses pitch black due to wild winds that had earlier knocked down power lines around town. But in the Tractor, we had light. And we had community. And we had soul. And we came together under those dangling cowboy boots to hear a voice that seems to come from otherworldly greatness. I won’t soon forget it. Thanks, Lake Street Dive. You were really something.

Stornoway

Last night, I saw these guys at The Croc. {They had me from the get-go…Stornoway is  a town on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, so how could I not be intrigued? I’m off to Scotland in a matter of weeks, by the way! Whoweeeeee}

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Thanks for the rec, my favorite music gurus!

This video makes be uber-dizzy, but I do love the song!