A New Season ( & Hi! How’ve you been?)

 

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I haven’t blogged in so long, it’s insane. Where to begin? Summer came, and summer went.

It was good, it was full; it felt exhausting at times, exhilarating at others. Highlights ranged from a whirlwind NoVa July jaunt and a favorite friend’s fun-fun-FUN Denver wedding to a love-soaked reunion under Chicago’s sticky summer skies. August was chock-full of music and weekends spent in tents at campsites near and far (far, as in, at the tippy-top of a mountain goat-dotted glacier). The end of September felt tinged with a bit of magic—the pinnacle being an amazing visit with my parents in the PNW during its finest show-off days and then a near week of togetherness in easy-breezy Oceanside.

For a long stretch there, work felt really steady (and almost too flowing at times), and the Seattle sun consistently blazed down on us as she’s known to do—filling our souls and Vitamin D reserves to the brim. (We have to store up, ya know; that’s just how life here works.) At one point, I felt highly over-traveled, and then grateful to regain my footing during several stationary weeks at home. I’ve gotten so much better at saying “no,” which is a relief, and I’ve seen the empowerment that comes from turning down gigs, trips and invites, simply because that’s the direction my gut tends to lean.

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Recently, a slowing of assignments has me feeling a little nervous, though admittedly not nearly as panicked as I would’ve felt once upon a time. This ain’t my first freelance-work-lull rodeo, after all. And I know for certain that waiting, patience and faith are the biggest challenges of this alternative lifestyle I’ve chosen—and perhaps the most important necessities, too.

This is the reality of my work situation at present: I am sending out a ton of pitches, a lot of emails, a bunch of check-ins—many of which I know will never get a response. I am used to this by now, and I *usually* don’t take it personally, but still—it can grow super old, really fast. The past couple weeks, I have done more “pro bono”-esque work than I’ve done since early CV-building days, but my reasoning is that this keeps things moving, the juices flowing, the pendulum swinging…toward tangible things that will soon “catch”—if I allow the unfolding to happen at a pace beyond my control.

Yes, I am so grateful to receive invites to dinners, receptions and press events galore, and to find super-cool surprise deliveries on my doorstep (apples! Olive leaf-tea! Gourmet pizza pies!). This is all amazing, lucky, spoiled—undoubtedly a very privileged perk to my wacky line of work. But sadly, this isn’t the type of compensation accepted by the collectors of my bills or the cashiers of my stores. (Surely these are the less glamorous glimpses into freelance life that don’t often make the social media rounds.)

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Yet despite the slowing of the season, I am well-aware that life continually presents us with periods filled with “planting” versus “blooming”… and with years (or seasons) that “ask” versus those that “answer.” I take great comfort in complementary thoughts shared by peers like the lovely Meg Fee, in her post rooting for the bamboo farmer in us all.

I am trying to follow the advice of wise gurus I respect who suggest that, at times like these, we keep on keeping on, living, giving, gifting—putting messages out into the Universe that I have enough, I am enough, there is enough.

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I can’t know for sure whether or not it’s working, but today I got a couple small assignments in, heard from an old, old travel friend and found a $5 bill on the ground just minutes after my favorite Turkish restaurateur-chef randomly presented me with a beautiful ring, just because she doesn’t “feel like selling them anymore, and not everyone appreciates their beauty.”

So I’m inclined to trust there is some truth to this approach. We must believe in abundance—of wealth, of health, of love, of whatever we seek—even when, especially when, it is something we currently cannot see.

I’m thinking it’s worth convincing ourselves: There is somehow always enough.

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Will the garden grow, will the rivers flow…

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“I Worried”
by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well, hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism, lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning, and sang.

Happy Surprises & Big Girl Panties

Sometimes I learn really huge lessons that I desperately want to remember. I tend to quickly forget (don’t we all?), so I’m resorting to print. Some of these are very obvious…but tonight I want to remember that:

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~happy surprises can (and do) drop out of the sky.

~we must tune out the naysayers. surround yourself with supportive cheerleaders. go where you feel moved, where something “pings” inside. follow the spark, always.

~nothing is permanent.

~when it rains, it pours. (really, really try to remember this in the midst of a frustrating standstill, an agonizing drought.)

~often, the only thing to stop the stories, the ruminating, the festering, the dis-ease—is hoisting up one’s big girl panties, opening up lines of communication & practicing bravery and kindness rolled into one.

~we never ever know the whole story (and often, when we learn at least some of it, we soften.) everyone is human, and we are all just doing the best we can.

It’s been a mostly good (busy) couple weeks here in the (sunny!) PNW, but tomorrow I’m heading east to my people on that (snowy!) coast, and I couldn’t be happier. Hope your weeks have been filled with some happy surprises and refreshing revelations, too.

*we are the lucky ones*

You know when you come back from a foreign land, and you have that country’s language swirling around in your head for a couple days (even if you don’t happen to speak their tongue or understand one lick)? Well, right now I have the little voices of wee ones (my cousin’s four adorable kiddos, to be exact) echoing in my head, and I miss them so—their sticky fingers and high-pitched, silly cadences and innocent questions and infuriating, illogical tantrums and soft hands that curl around yours in those tender, break-through moments when they decide that, even though you’re not mom or dad or nanny Laura, you’re worthy of their love, too. (I will choose to set aside the comically ridiculous comments like “You’re never gonna be my best friend” and “Just go back at your home; I don’t even care!” in lieu of the precious times they care to ask, “Mommy, how much longer is your cousin staying with us?”)

There’s something really tough going on in these sweet little ones’ lives right now, and you wonder how much of it they grasp. You want to shield those innocent, big brown eyes from all the world’s bad, to protect them from ever understanding the cruelties life sometimes throws our way. But the thing is, at times like this, you can’t even protect yourself from the unfairness of it all. And so for their sake—and for yours—you trust it will all be fine. Because it has to be. There is no alternative.

These are the precious, exhausting, wonderful little dudes I spent the last week with:)

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Spring Day Musings

I am forever saying I need to break my addiction to/reliance on my phone, and I am feeling renewed inspiration to curb this bad habit after reading Rachel’s recent post. It’s not rocket science; I just highly suspect that my attachment to that lil machine, as well as to social media and my computer in general, doesn’t serve me well. It makes me more anxious, and it takes me out of the present. Big-time.

For example, on a day like today, a BEAUTIFUL, blue-skied Seattle day (welcome, Spring!), I was out on a wander (I took the longgggg route to the post office to mail some packages). But instead of enjoying it, I realized I was constantly checking my phone and feeling annoyed at the empty inbox and feeling guilty for this freedom, for all this time on my hands. But what am I doing with my life? kept rolling around up in that noggin. Stories. Ahh, the stories!

I am in a bit of a holding pattern at present (yep, again), one of those pesky, recurring freelance freeze-frames that test my patience and my ability to trust. But then today I started thinking: why am I not allowing myself to just relish this downtime and this beautiful place and all the simple pleasures that surround me? I would if I were on vacation or off on a global walkabout (like several of my friends are doing right now….). So why not now? What’s the difference?

So I forced myself to shut off my phone for a couple hours (okay, maybe only an hour-and-a-half…baby steps, people:)). I made myself really take it all in, to really SEE, to really listen. So much beauty!

The wind chimes, the dancing prayer flags, the seaplane engines, the gardening neighbors, the sunbathing black cat, the bike bells, the splash of ducks’ feet skating across the surface of the canal to secure safe landing. (And, I kid you not, a disintegrating tag (label?) floating in the water that read “CHILL.”)

Here are a few captures of the gorgeous day, taken before my phone went into glorious, peaceful OFF mode. This needs to be my new habit.

Happy Spring, y’all!

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New Year Goodness

Dawn of a New Year

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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.

Sechelt Surprise

Few people are more surprised than me that I live in the Pacific Northwest. Some days I look around in amazement, barely able to retrace the winding path that brought me here to this green, damp land of friendly, easygoing people who thrive on all things local and outdoorsy and coffee-fueled and casual.

And I certainly never suspected I’d “vacation” so often in Canada—that I’d get to know North American border-crossing and ferry-travel protocol so well, that I’d be so familiar with the cadence and verbiage of the distinctive way our neighbors to the north speak, that I’d get to have interesting, educational conversations about totem poles and reservations and elementary schools that teach  youngsters the languages of their local tribes of American Indian (or First Nation) residents.

I mean, who knew Canada even HAD a Sunshine Coast? I sure didn’t. I do now, though, since that’s where I spent this past weekend  with three wonderful chicas.

All of this is a good reminder that we. just. never. know.
Things I’ve learned (and continue to learn): Stay open. Keep moving. See what evolves. Trust.

On a regular basis, I am awed by the beauty out here.

See below for Exhibits A, B, C, etc….

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