Get back up.

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I was feeling limber, flexible, confident. I had moved through the class with strength; I was holding each pose we flowed through. And then my teacher called out the instructions for an addition I had never tried. I felt like I could do it, so up and over I went, into a Wheel, and then my feet started moving up the wall, ready to walk all the way over and land standing facing the very wall I was walking up.

Except it didn’t work like that at all. I slipped and fell flat on my head, crumpling loudly onto the ground, cutting my wrist in the process and bleeding onto my yoga mat.

We’re programmed to protect our heads, and we’re socially conditioned to avoid failure and embarrassment. I nailed my head, failed at the pose and embarrassed myself (though in a class of yogis, everyone was gracious enough to pretend not to notice). My earlier confidence had also taken a tumble, and I slunk out of class and onto my bus, nursing a bruised ego and skull.

This was on Friday, and ordinarily, I would have taken the weekend off to let my wounds heal and separate myself mentally from that last class. However, I had already signed up weeks ago for a special Inversion workshop held on Sunday. It’s one thing to get back up after a fall, but it’s a step further to go back to a class completely focused on being upside down.

That’s the tough thing about life. Unless you never do anything, failure in some way is a guarantee. It’s what we do after we fail that defines us. Do we give up? Convince ourselves whatever we were trying was never worth it? I admit, I’ve done that before. But it doesn’t lead anywhere. When you give up, you just shrink. Refusing to learn and overcome renders you less than the sum of your experience.

So I went to my Sunday class. I did set up on the opposite side of the room, so I wouldn’t remind myself of my fall, but once I got going, it didn’t even matter. Instead of remembering my failure, my body remembered its strength, and my confidence returned as I went upside down and learned more about headstands and myself. By the end of 90 minutes, I was exhilarated.

There are so many places in life where it feels like you’re down for the count, and you’re tired and hurt and want to stop. But stopping only brings you down further, whereas perseverance is what makes that pain worth going through.

So let’s take a lesson from the under appreciated band Chumbawamba and let life know, “You’re never going to keep me down!”

A very happy weekend.

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Hands down, the most difficult thing about moving was leaving behind my best friends.  I’m lucky to have a handful of people who have been by my side through everything. I knew that moving wouldn’t affect my friendships–I’ve lived all over, and my people are my people no matter what or where. But it’s been undeniably difficult to adjust to a friendship lived in texts and Drive Home Phone Calls, pictures sent and stories re-told, instead of that in-person relationship. So I was undeniably thrilled when my best friend from high school and her husband (another of my closest high school friends) came out for the weekend. What joy to be close again! To explore my new city with some of my oldest friends!

And explore we did. It was a bustling trip, full of a taste of all that makes Seattle great. It was so wonderful to hear, at the end of the weekend, my friend say that she got it. Seattle was my place. I think it’s a true kind of love that says to someone you’d like in your life on the day-to-day level that you understand and support their choice to go off far away and do things differently.

So here are some of the things we did, letting them get to know the city, and creating another layer of our friendship to look back on when we’re old (or maybe even next week when we’re back in the ho-hum routine).

Day 1: Waterfront seafood lunch, followed by the (HUGE!) EMP Museum and then dinner out. This museum was made for my friend’s husband, so it was a delight to go through and see him so thoroughly enjoying each and every exhibit.

The actual Cowardly Lion, “If I were king of the fore-e-e-est…”

A few guitars.

Chewie and friends.

The next day, we went to Pike Place for breakfast and shopped for dinner ingredients. Then we went to the Chihuly Garden, up to Fremont to see the troll, after which we frittered an afternoon away drinking cider and playing Cards Against Humanity. Our dinner was a seafood pasta with mussels, shrimp, scallops and crab, and it was delicious. The girls cooked while the guys played computer games (but husband cleaned the dishes, so it was fair).

Chihuly glass ceiling. That’s one I wouldn’t want to break…

Love the black & white graphic glass mixed into the garden.

Obvious caption is obvious: Space Needle.

Cider tasting! The third one down is a Sriracha-lime cider, and it blew me away.

Finally reunited with my love, Schilling Dry Cider.

The next morning started with brioche French toast, homemade whipped cream and berries and was followed by a sail on Elliot Bay. We got some of that famous Seattle rain, and the girls went out on the town while the guys stayed in with whisky and pizza. It’s funny how certain things seem to repeat themselves with different relationships, and we, as usual, attracted a lively and weird subset of people who turned a conversation about a delicious chocolate dessert into a heated political debate.

Glassy day on the bay.

Nothing beats best friends and sailing.

Our last day started with brunch, followed by some PNW nature. We found ourselves back in the Market for lunch. Instead of the place with 80 people in line, we got soup next door, and sat at the window people watching and listening to a truly delightful man perform with his guitar.

Forest life.

First brushstrokes of fall in the Japanese Gardens.

Husband. Kinda love him.

And then off they went, back East, into the night and back into the land of text-message friendship. And I’m sad they’re gone but more than delighted to have had them here and to have them here always, in my life.

There is a season.

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Today feels like the last day of summer. Autumn has been creeping in slowly, a whisper on the morning breeze and a sudden chill off the water, but then the days break wide open into exuberant sunshine and heat, late sunsets turning my living room orange and red after dinner.

I know today is different though. It’s supposed to rain for several days in a row, bringing the temperature way down (for which I am grateful), and then I have guests, and then it’s Labor Day, and as we all know, everything becomes different once that long weekend is over.

After the unusually scorching days of June and July, coolness has been pressing in, giving the heat a smaller and smaller grasp. I want a hot drink more often than iced coffee in the morning, and as I head to yoga, I have to throw a sweatshirt on.

My days involve the same lackadaisical routines, habits formed in the bright hot, but I sense a change just around the corner. I’ve been moving things into place to create a more substantial life for myself here, and just as children go back to school and build their knowledge and their small social spheres and (hopefully) their character, I too stand poised to expand my world.

So I will sit back today and let the hot rays glance off the water, as I look down to the Bay. I will sip rosé, knowing its sweet days are numbered, and I will exhale, knowing the next inhale I pull may be a little cooler, a little heavier but with some clarity outlined in a crisp breeze.

On Wisconsin.

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The first week of August, like so many other years, I boarded a plane for Wisconsin, set for a trip to Green Lake. One thing was different though. This was our last year.

My grandparents bought the house when my mom was only four years old, and the family spent each summer there as she grew up. In the winter, they’d go for New Years and ski down the sloping lawn and huddle on the frozen lake, ice fishing. When she was in her early 20s, my mom lived on the lake for a fall, relishing in the quiet and natural beauty. She and my dad visited before I was born, and after I was born, we spent a week nearly every summer on the lake, boating, playing tennis, swimming and sleeping soundly with the windows wide open. We brought friends, our boyfriends who became our husbands, and I saw my cousin’s children enjoying the same summers we all had gotten a taste of. 

22128_860532245043_1972229898_nBut my grandparents passed away a few years ago, and it was time to pack away the decades of objects and memories, to sit on the porch and stare out at the water for the last time. The house was quiet, and the boats were already gone. It felt like we were already in the past, staying there. But my sister and I shared a room, sleeping on twin beds again like we were kids, and we kept the windows wide open, listening to the stillness settle in as we drifted to sleep.

In the mornings, we loitered over breakfast, read magazines in the sun, soaked in the last bits of our time at the lake. My mom went through Granny’s desk and found her and all her siblings’ old letters from camp. Notes saved for 50 years, “Mom, please send my orange sweater. I’m doing really good at riflery. Don’t forget to send presents for my birthday. I miss you.” Precious mementos from a mother who loved her kids, for another mother to read with her kids. We found old photo albums, my grandparents’ wedding, my mom and aunts and uncle as tiny kids, parties set solidly in the colors of the 60s and 70s, memories forgotten and re-remembered, happily.

And even though we were saying goodbye, we were still getting to know our family and ourselves a little better, collecting more threads to weave into our story, one bigger than each individual. The morning we left, it rained, and the house was blurry through a wet rear window as we slowly drove out the long, winding drive for the last time, my mom choking back tears as she navigated the familiar forest road.

We said goodbye to a place, to the presence of people we loved dearly. But it isn’t the end. We have new memories, treasured mementos and each other, still a family, preparing for the next generation and new traditions to be looked back on decades from now with the same love we have for Green Lake.

The Way-Back Machine

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I have recently acquired a whole bunch of old photos, and I enjoy them all so tremendously that I’ve decided to post some. No, it’s not #tbt, but there is certainly more than one that I want to share, so I’m doing it here. You get to make your own blog’s rules after all. 🙂 Without further ado:

Beach babe, Florida 1987. Working the bonnet and some baby cleavage.

Pool time with Granny. I think it’s critical to get kids swimming as early as possible. Glad the grownups in my babyhood agreed.

Super baby! First Halloween as a superhero, a classic choice. Dad seems pretty into it.

Turning 6 here, with all the hallmarks of the early 90s intact. As an aside, I wish I was that tan this summer.

Easter Sunday finery. I think this one really speaks for itself, and for the glory of 1991.

Another year, another Halloween. Note our gloves and my friend’s turtleneck, as is the custom of Colorado trick-or-treaters.

I remember that hat, and I remember how cool I thought it was. Not sure if the coolness holds up.

A little dad-daught time, and some overalls.

My baby sister and The Lion King made their debuts around the same time. I was pretty thrilled about both.

Just hanging out, in my loafers.

Weekend away.

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What better way to celebrate a new job (husband’s) and a new passport (mine) than with an impromptu weekend trip to Canada? Obviously we love to travel, so we set off to Victoria, BC to get the first stamp in my married-name passport and to spend some quality time together before our routine shifts with the necessary time constraints that come with full-time gainful employment.

From Seattle, it was an easy three hour boat ride up to Vancouver Island, where we disembarked, hit customs for that stamp and headed for Butchart Garden. I have been to many beautiful places in the world, and this was easily in the top five. Maybe even the top three. It was a cool, misty day, ideal for looking at flowers, and look we did.

View from above the Sunken Garden. This whole area was originally a limestone quarry in service of a cement operation.

This area is where the quarry and natural forest meet.

The Rose Garden was incredible. I couldn’t stop taking photos!

  

Even the trashcans were gorgeous!

  

After our tour of the gardens, we wandered around Victoria for awhile. We found the narrowest street in town, and we stumbled into a great restaurant with an ivy covered back garden patio for some oysters, mussels and drinks.

The next day, we went out on a whale watching tour and saw a mother and calf humpback, and we saw a different humpback breech (aka leap out of the water). We also saw lots of seals and some porpoises, and it was a beautiful day on the water. No pictures of the whales, because I was too busy being in awe of them!
After our boat ride, we walked around a different area of Victoria, to the houseboat neighborhood, complete with a little floating Mexican restaurant where we had delicious fish tacos. We took a big loop around a beautiful beach/city park and then got back on the Clipper to come home.    
Our weekend ends today, with a trip to our favorite spot, Cafe Flora for a delicious breakfast followed by a visit to the garden center to pick up a container for our new Dwarf Variegated Pink Lemon tree (and some basil, because why not?). I did manage to injure myself en route, but now we’re home, and I’m laid out on the couch, elevating my leg, reading and blogging while husband prepares for his first day of work tomorrow. Despite the injury, I’m giving the weekend an A for outstanding beauty and fantastic food.

The sound of silence.

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For a long while, life felt very much like being jostled in a tiny boat down a winding, bumpy river. I had no time to think or breathe; I had to focus on just making it around the next bend. Now my little vessel has found itself drifting atop a large, smooth lake. Easy to navigate across, but full of unexplored depth below.

At my last job, I had to literally think on my feet all day. I stood and talked with client after client, sometimes pleasantly, a lot of times doing some sort of crisis management. When there weren’t clients in front of me, I was on the phone or sending emails or talking with my co-workers. On my breaks, I was on my phone, reading articles, checking Facebook, making sure nothing had happened while I wasn’t paying attention. I’d drive home listening to podcasts, get on the phone when I arrived, fall asleep watching TV on my laptop. I would often have stress dreams about work, waking myself up in the middle of the night. I only had a few hours of peace each week, during my yoga classes, but even in those, I would lay in savasana, mind racing to the next item on my to-do list.

And then we moved, and the river took a sharp turn and widened considerably, but there were still some big bumps that shook me up. When I finally made it out of the river and onto the lake, it was all I could do to exhale and lay down, content to just float awhile. I’m not yet working, taking my time to find something I’ll be passionate about. I went off Facebook for a few months, choosing to focus on one-on-one, intentional interactions. I have friends here, but see them infrequently enough that it’s always a treat, never another line-item in my harried schedule. I have time to take naps, to stop and smell all the roses I could ever want. The cloud in my head has cleared enough that I can sit here typing out the things I was too exhausted to think about.


I’m still floating. I needed time to decompress from a life that far too many of us think of as normal. We move quickly, enduring lots of bumps, rarely planning, barely thinking and often allowing circumstances to dictate our lives, rather than the opposite. Our lives can be shallow; it’s hard to go deep when there are just so many things competing for our attention. I believe rest is a good thing, but I think it’s even more important to keep moving and growing and never stagnating. So now it’s time for me to stretch deep and dive out of my little boat, into the deep waters, to see where it is I can go, when I’m the one choosing my course.

The morning of 29.

Each year for the last several years, one of my closest friends and I, for our birthdays, pick a little slogan for what the coming year will represent. That’s how this blog got its original title: The Year of Jeans & Pearls. Then it was A Hepburn Kind of Year, Style & Spirit (a title which is, admittedly, a bit longwinded). Last year began, and remained, Wild // Zen. As I woke up today, on my 29th birthday, I wondered what this year will hold.

I’m in a new city, meeting new people, turning my career another direction and trying, generally, to get to know myself better. This year I aspire to cook more, do more yoga, explore a lot, be unafraid, experiment with nail polish but let my hair be more natural. I want to keep writing, keep appreciating the sunset, tackle that elusive and desirable air of French sophistication.

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pic2 pic3 pic4The Year of Oui, perhaps. Saying yes to myself and opportunity. Or maybe Nature & Nurture: a year of cultivating a free spirit and sense of home. The Year of Juxtaposition: where everything means something or perhaps nothing.

I don’t yet know what 29 will be the year of. I haven’t chatted with that dear friend yet to get my catchphrase. What I do know is that I woke up peaceful, albeit extra early, and I know that I will be looking for the joy & beauty in each of the next 365 days. So I guess that’s a good start.

Scenes from home.

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I’ve been writing a lot about home lately, so I thought I would share some little glimpses of what my home is like. That way, you can picture where I am as you read.

Vignette on our bookshelf. A few of my favorite things all gathered together.

Beside my bed. A few little treasures and a great painting I found in Santa Fe make going to sleep and waking up each morning a pleasure.

The bed aka the most glorious spot of all. Featuring our very WASPy monogrammed seersucker bedspread and also Cubby, the second most important man in my life.   

Milo! My happy little fish in his happy little home. 🙂

The kitchen: a place for everything and everything in its place. I’m so, so happy to have a place to cook again, and the cute little display shelf for my cookbooks is a great bonus.

Mimosas with a view. I love that we finally get to take advantage of all the beautiful wedding gifts we received!

Pike Place flora, cloudy Seattle skies and the Smith tower. Also pictured, the windowsill in which I sat for two weeks until we had furniture. If we’re on the phone, there’s a good chance I’m still sitting there.

And there you have it. Pieces of my home, to yours. Or wherever you are when you read blogs.

Alphabet Soup

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Some days just aren’t really worth blogging about. I haven’t been seized with an insight, nor has anything exciting happened in my life. Some summertime days just pass us by in a haze of hot weather, cool drinks and not too much else. And that’s fine. I’m a firm believer that summer is a time to reset life, hit pause and figure out a focus for what’s ahead. But these drifting days don’t make for the most compelling posts. So that’s what lists are for! Everyone on the Internet enjoys a good list, so here’s mine. A favorite for each letter of the alphabet. 🙂

A- Adam, obviously. That’s husband to those of you who may be reading this and not actually know me personally.

B- books. My favorite way to explore other worlds. I can lose myself in a book, anytime, anywhere.

C- coloring. A pretty and productive mindless stress-reliever. I enjoy the precision required to stay within the lines, when I spend so much of my life figuratively outside them.

D- stands for itself. Such a simple letter belonging to such a wonderful friend. Thanks for saving me in gym class at age 13 and for so many things for so many years after. 

E- emerald. I am obsessed with my engagement ring and its emerald center stone.

F- food. I can find a food for any situation. I’m definitely an “eat my feelings” type of girl, and I love it.

G- growth. That feeling of looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. Also includes bad haircuts, my wheatgrass & basil plants and my sister’s pregnant belly.

H- home. I’ve written before about the imporatance of having a place of one’s own, and I love mine. Even when the world goes to shit, you can always come home.

I- independence. I’m grateful that I’m  not afraid to strike out on my own. 

J- Julia, my sweet sister; how much more boring would my childhood have been without you pesetering me.

K- kitten videos on YouTube. I feel this needs no explanation.

L- lilacs. My favorite, best-smelling flower.

M- mom. Really, what would any of us do without our mothers?

N- naps. Husband is not a fan, but any day where I can hit pause in the middle and drift off for 20 minutes to 2 hours (sometimes I get really tired, ok…) is a good day by me.

O- ovaltine. More Ovaltine, please! As a kid, my mom was very strict about what I could eat, so no regular chocolate milk for me. Thus began a lifelong love affair with Ovaltine.

P- pasta. It has come alive for me in new ways since discovering the flavored pasta booth at Pike Place (anothe P favorite!). Seriously, lemon chive angel hair will change your life, but I’ve always been a sucker for carbs by the noodleful.

Q- would it be weird to say Q-tips? I legit really like Q-tips…

R- reading. This may seem to be the same as books, but it isn’t. I’ll read anything. When I was a kid, I got grounded from books and read the back of boxes of ceral out of desperation.

S- swimming. There’s nothing quite like being in the water for me. Nevermind the outstanding physical benefits; what it does for my soul is incomparable.

T- texting. This is lame and very of-the-moment of me, but I would feel a lot less connected to people I love who are nowhere near me without this gloriously simple way of communicating.

U- undies, lacy. Frilly panties are one of life’s greatest small pleasures.

V- vinyasa. Discovering vinyasa yoga literally changed my life. Namaste, people.

W- wine. Rose, white, red, sparkling. It’s in a glass, I’ll drink it, gladly.

X- XX chromosomes. I love being a girl and everything that goes along with it.

Y- yoga. Yes, I just mentioned yoga, but this summer I’ve discovered other forms, and I am learning so much about my body and becoming stronger and more grounded with each flow.

Z- zest. For life and for flavoring.