THANK YOU!

This season is a juxtaposition for me. The days are growing short, the evenings long and cold and many times I feel the calling to slow down. In the midst of this is the wildness of holidays. Friends, warmth, rich foods and festive gatherings pop up around each corner. The ability to enjoy the moments before me while planning the details so as not to forget anything is a familiar walk on the tightrope. I thrive in this time.

I recently moved to Eastern Washington to help a dear friend with his cafe. While learning the complicated timing of a perfectly frothed cappuccino, i was forced to slow down. I had the blessings of living in a tiny town where I had a great deal of time on my own. Alone time can mean fostering creativity or battling demons. I did a little of both.

November for many people is a time of counting blessings. I decided to write up one thing i am thankful for each day until I returned home to Portland.

I look now at my list and am in wonder of my own strength and delight in the details. November has been a very good time.

Gratitude:
1- grateful that i was taught to speak my mind fearlessly, even when i know it might hurt
2-a borrowed bicycle and a beautiful ride to the lakeIMG_1788
3-wonderful co-workers who make me laugh
4-my dear dear friend Nina, on her birthday
5-snow, hot chocolate and bad hallmark xmas movies on my day off, pay day, tips and the local library having the book i want to read!IMG_1833
6- wonderful 60 minute massage for $50 and a block from my house!
7- my mother’s ring was found!IMG_1846
8- waking up with a smile on my face
9- knitting projects building up
10- paperwhites!paperwhites
11- clarity
12-soft red woolwool
13-sleep in a warm bed, on a cold night
14-unexpected joy of a great live bandIMG_1727
15-the smell of snow in the air
16-warm oatmeal, a good movie and snow falling
17-watching things grow, even in the darkest coldest monthsIMG_1849
18-waking up early enough to see spectacular sunrisesIMG_1850
19-cold days with sunshine
20- time
21-seeing progress
22- road trips to different countriesIMG_1910
23- too many options
24- sunrises over the mountains and water
25-a stunningly beautiful detour homeIMG_1899
26-anticipation of good things to come
27-coming homeIMG_1925
28-warm furry critters curled upIMG_2082
29-wonderful family, friends and a sated bellyIMG_2003
30- my beautiful friend Nicole on her birthday, of whom i am always grateful.

more thing to be grateful.

Gratitude in Details

photo-16This summer I unceremoniously lost my job while tending to a grieving friend’s heart. It was for the best. I would not lose my humanity for an employer who seems to have sold her own to a higher bidder. It its steed, i decided to embrace those last days of summer, as well as the end of my thirties, with an open-ended adventure. I traversed four states;Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, adored and well-traveled in my 39 years.

photo-15photo-10photo-17I hadn’t spent so much time in Washington since I grew up there. I zigzagged across the state of my childhood, exploring seasides and high desert canyons. I swam in lakes and camped beneath mountains.  It is impossible for me to revisit such places without a bit of nostalgia. The difference now seems to be my own place in its landscape. photo-9photo-11

photo-12After such a whirlwind year, this was a time to recapture some of my youthful delight and remind me of what is important. Although I am still slogging my way through the details, I could not imagine a more mentally productive way to spend a few days. I must never forget to be grateful for the details. photo-13Here we go..number forty.

 

woolie goodness

yellowOn my last day off i headed up to Adna Washington to spend a few hours at Black Sheep Creamery. Meg and Brad are two if my favorite people and they make the most wonderful sheep cheese!!IMG_0679

IMG_0680This visit up, i was going to work with Meg in her Dye Garden..yep..you heard me. She has a garden full of plants she uses to dye her wool! It is a constant evolution of experimentation. This day we plucked her black hollyhock blossoms to make what we hoped would be a deep purple or teal blue. We also experimented with Dyers Chamomile, which is different from the type we drink in teas. These blossoms are the deepest gold yellow. They still smell wonderful, especially when steeping in warm wool.

IMG_0697 IMG_0698As we poured over beautifully illustrated books to identify which plants we had access to, i savored the sunshine, fat lambs in the adjoining pasture and Meg’s gentle enthusiasm. I felt very fortunate. IMG_0684 IMG_0700In the end, we had to dry the hollyhocks for another time (always good to read the recipe. Especially when it demands a 24 hour soak to loosen the dyes) and dyed with Chamomile and Blue Hopi Sunflowers. I love the yellow! IMG_0691 IMG_0689I  also went home with an abundance of good cheese!IMG_0702

Grounded

IMG_0544This summer i started a new job. For minimal pay, I am happily working at several farmers markets selling a local product that i truly believe is worth its price. That being said, I am exhausted!!  i am working 10 hour days in a position that is always “on”with rarely a moment to stop and regroup. i am not used to this schedule and I am not adapting quickly. I get home from work and can barely think about doing anything besides crawling into bed to begin again the next day. Of course being stubborn, I still attend a smattering of concerts, events and friend’s gatherings into the wee hours..I pay for this the following day ten fold. i have also missed weddings, funerals, celebrations and camp-outs. I am feeling old and that these summer days are flying past me to quickly.

That all being said, last week, i had a few days off! i hadn’t had any weekends off since I started my new job but i needed this time to see family and friends. It was also 4th of July and I was ready to have some FUN!

IMG_0572IMG_0581My wonderful friend Douglas just happened to be here for a visit and we went on the best little hike in the Columbia Gorge. We dropped under a bridge, summitted a massive log jam, the size of my house, and waded up a creek bed for about 1/2 mile to a 100 foot waterfall. The day was hot, the water was cold and the scenery was spectacular! I have seen some wonderful things over the years but the Northwest still rates at #1 for me! I felt so fortunate to be here and really felt as if summer began that day. I didnt feel so old anymore.

IMG_0612Following this visit, I spent my fourth of July on a boat (first time in Portland) grilling burgers, napping in the sun and watching the fireworks..I love the 4th! I love blowing things up..Yes, i am American and it was fun to be back in the states for a little insanity.

IMG_0624The next day, i rolled out of bed completely rejuvenated, and had a great visit with my god-parents. My god-mother, Peggy made me the most beautiful quilt. I am still rather speechless and know it will brighten my room on those cold grey winter days. Later that evening, i headed north into Washington to meet my new niece/god-daughter Josephine Sarah. i fell hopelessly in love. For the next 24 hours, i was surrounded by my family and catching up with details and life.

IMG_0629I only had three days off but i feel grounded in a way i had been struggling to relocate for months. Nothing like a lot of love to refocus the mind.

Back to WORK!

Summer Charms of the Elderflower

IMG_0448Yesterday marked the the tenth anniversary of my mom’s death. I always feel it looming but i had forgotten the date until I was sitting outside with a wonderful book and my morning tea. A friend had given me “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed while i was in Italy but i just wasn’t ready for it yet. I knew it was going to be a tough read about loss and strength and personal growth. I was doing enough of that on my own, on the other side of the planet. But i packed the large hardback in my precious small space and carried it home. This week i cracked the spine and haven’t been able to do anything else. Listening to that inner voice sure can be powerful. I was so ready to read this book! So sitting in my backyard, feeling somewhat at a loss, I remembered that it was June 17th. And without a second thought, burst into tears. It actually felt good and clean.IMG_0444 I’ve been home officially three months now. I have an intense but good job and am so happy to be back in my house. I have an awesome housemate, 2 cats, a dog, 5 hens and lots of little things popping up in the garden, many of which are also weeds. So barely noticable bit by bit, I am feeling settled. I am trying really hard this summer to pay more attentions to details and moments and less about planning the next moment. I want to relish being home this summer and the weather has been truly perfectly wonderful!IMG_0252IMG_0451IMG_0330My recent projects have included many hours clocked into the farmers markets, with my local Slow Food office and at home nesting and rebuilding. So far i have planted the essentials and enough tomatoes to make paste for the winter months but my biggest score was my elderflower tree. After traveling to Ireland a few years ago, i could not get enough elderflower and I wanted it all the time in everything i ate. Coming home I researched and planted 2 trees. This spring i was graced with the most beautiful flowers. Every morning I walked outside to inspect their progression. I knew they needed to be picked at just the right moment for the best sweetest flavor. Elderflower syrup all summer long.IMG_0370

So here it is my jar of golden goodness. And HERE is a great step by step if you want to do it as well. I left enough blossoms on the tree to make elderberry cordial in the fall. IMG_0398

It was either this or polygamy…

candleI have been home for six weeks. In this time I have lived in three homes, recovered from jet lag, been on seven dates, submitted countless resumes, hearing back from three with two interviews. I got my dream job without resume or interview.  I have bought a bike, a car, a bed,  eaten hundreds of tacos, found a roommate, got a new phone number and started running. I recently heard back from date number five, being told rather casually that he is now exploring poly relationships and although i didn’t seem like the type of girl who would be interested, give him a call if i was. I’m not.

So I woke up this morning and had a somewhat startling epiphany. I have been home for only six weeks (!!) and in that time i have not stopped moving, pushing, pressing forward, afraid to slow down and afraid to be alone. I am on a quest, searching for something but not know what that is exactly. God forbid i slow down long enough to find out.. I need to slow – the – hell – down. Trust my instincts. I need to start work inwardly. I need to stop looking for something to calm my rattles that is outside my own self. I need to put down the phone and pick up my running shoes more often. I need to learn how to ride my bicycle in the city without terror.

Not able to sleep, the 6am sunshine pulled me outside, doing something active, something to celebrate the weather. I was also curbing a bit of a panic attack. Full moon anxiety? I had made a very definite decision to move forward, on my own at my own pace..alone.  I went to breakfast with a friend and realized that I am okay with this hiatus. I have earned it. All of these needs listed, the one glaring pattern I am seeing, is time. All of these wonderful needs will only take time. These are not things that will be easy nor quick. They will take time and patience and strong will. They are also things that will quiet my head.

As i am moving back into my green bean, I stopped by my favorite shop and bought a new candle that smells like other worldly things; beets, and moss and pine needles. Polygamy is not for me. I don’t need to share that much.

Too much good?

IMG_5944I have had a very difficult time writing since I returned. Emotions are running high and intent on testing my limits. I have too much time on my hands.  I am meeting people and making connections that actually leave my body humming and exhausted. After a very successful meeting and the possibilities of a promising date, I was concerned that my body could not take any more good…strange to feel, I know, but doors are opening and light is flooding in.  I have grown mistrustful of too much good. I know that with those highs come their yang…Is it possible to have only good things happen? There must be balance and with so much wonderful,  I have experienced such disappointment and spent innumerable wakeful nights restless with my own doubts.

I often laugh out loud. I argue with myself about the musings of my juxtaposed life. By day, I am moving forward like I’ve been shot from a canon. I am limitless. By night, I am alone with my thoughts and the ever-present danger of too much access.

So here I am, restless, confused but full of much gratitude and humility. I suppose this is life. This is being part of life and not just an observer of its goings-on. More than one friend recently told me that I am too open. I allow myself to be too vulnerable and available. I need to learn to be present yet less available emotionally. I struggle with this idea. Yet I doubt I can be anything less, or is it more? I am this self, aware of my faults and unaware of my limits. I have been back for a short time and have not stopped running. I can only hope that I am moving toward the good. I will remain vulnerable and open.