Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

February Is The New January

Coming back, slowly.

When I powered-down for the holidays, I didn’t plan on it being for the entire month of January, but here we are, February 2nd. A whole month of 2015 gone, and almost 8 weeks since my last post.

A lot happened in that time, of course. We had quite the holiday season, the crazy huge annual work event passed (to great success), there’s dreams and schemes jotted down in my notebook, and there is a new incarnation of this site coming to soon.

2014 ended on a low, low note. I didn’t have any energy to make my bed, let alone make 2015 THE BEST YEAR YET as our culture encourages each January 1st (crazy to me, as it’s the dead of winter for most of the country).

The energy I did muster went straight into the 4 days of non-stop work for events, and now that I finally find myself with a clearer calendar (and head), a month has gone by.

Otherwise, I’m hibernating, holding space for myself, taking it slow, slow, slow. I’m reading books, exercising, eating salads again for the first time in months, and making the random friendship bracelet (as seen above).

February is my birthday month, and right now the sun is moving through Aquarius. As far as my astrological new year goes, that’s still a few weeks away, when the sun enters Pisces. So, I am still lying low.

It’s not an issue for me that I plan for 2015 in month #2, or finish up my Unravelling packet this week. Flow taught me that things take time, energy comes and goes, and it really is like catching a wave – paddling out over breakers, wading/waiting, paddling furiously, the water lifting you up, riding the energy, and coming back down for the next set.

I’m thinking of it like February is my new January. Thanks for sticking around.

Advertisements

Powering Down

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I haven’t been posting as much lately. I’m super grateful for this space and for you, dear reader. And I find the holiday season sweeps me up and carries me into it’s darker, festive days.

So, I’m going to power-down this space for the next few weeks in order to finish up work, enjoy time with my family and gear up for the new year.

Here are a few things I have going on:

– Moving this blog over to it’s own URL, hosting and tweaking a new layout. It’s going to be all sorts of revamped (I hope).

– Napping. A lot. Sometimes I just need more rest than other months.

– Hosting Christmas at our place, for my family, for the first time ever.

– Enjoying having my husband, parents and siblings all together on Christmas morning for the first time in the 12 years H and I have been together.

– Promoting a big work event (the one that usually steamrolls me in January) and trying not to lose my shit.

– Writing Christmas cards. Shopping for gifts online. Panicking ever so slightly we won’t have it all done in time.

– Celebrating my sister and good friend’s birthdays.

– Going to the movies! I’ve seen Gone Girl, Interstellar, Nightcrawler, Hunger Games and Exodus in the past 2 months.

– Scrapbooking, aka putting words and pictures together on paper.

– Savoring time with H, walks with Carter Cash and coffee dates with friends.

– Generally feeling great about life and the awesomeness of 2014.

– Working my way through the Unraveling 2015 workbook. Get yours here.

Cheers to your holiday and a happy new year to you! xo

Living For The Love

Life is moving at lightening speed, with work event hosting and planning, trying to get as much work done as possible in the few business days before the Christmas vacation.

And yet, days goes slowly. My energy is low again, the darker evenings bring on a sleepiness I can’t battle, and I feel like tucking in – to needlepoint, to books, to hockey on TV, to bed with flannel sheets and night walks with the dog.

This morning, I read Yes by Jillian at The Noisy Plume:

…life is short.  It becomes more and more apparent to me as I watch my grandparents in the twilight of their wonderful lives, as I watch my parents age, as I see our siblings and friends having babies and growing the next generation, as I see the lines of a life well lived begin to pepper my face.  I’m not going to live forever.  Neither are you.  I am concerned that when I lay in the quiet of a failing heartbeat on my deathbed that I will regret how much time I spent worrying, how much time I spent on my computer hitting a “like” button, how many days I sacrificed making memories with the people I love on the land I adore for a small job I didn’t pour my heart and soul into.  When I realized all of this, I decided to say yes as often as possible to the people closest to me, even if there were 100 unanswered and festering emails in my inbox, even if I was straddling a deadline in the studio, even if I was running late on photo submissions for freelance work — I started setting those things aside and doing a better job of living for love, living for the love of life, living for the love of experiences.

Her words wrap around the feelings I have about the panic that sets in about events, unanswered emails, the general piles of stuff that spring up around the house and the to-do lists. In the end, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the time I’ve spent with people “living for the love of experiences”.

———

Rest keeps coming up for me too, from tweets, to blog posts, to friend’s emails. Like, OK Universe, I hear you.

November saw me travel to Boston, to Denver, to Joshua Tree. I haven’t blogged about any of it yet, and I’m not sure why. I know there is some type of flow that happens between living / experiencing life the writing / reflecting I do… and I think I may need to do even more of that to really grasp what that flow is. To articulate it to you in words.

It’s so hard to revel in this season when everything seems to be so busy busy busy. I am taking time out each day to post a photo for December Reflections. I turn the Christmas lights on at night. I’m sipping a lot of hot chocolate and letting the holiday music blast through speakers while I work. The to-do list is focused, albeit shorter and shorter to cope with my lack of energy, but even in my weariness, things are getting done.

And then this by David Whyte:

To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner bulls eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange.

Again – to move from a place of outward productivity to a place of inward enjoyment. Reflection. A different type of giving and receiving. Especially being open to receiving.

If that’s what I focus on in the the next few weeks – receiving – I should be able to sing sink* right into the holiday spirit.

*Originally I wrote sing which I thought was a wonderful slip as music seems to move me much more lately, and singing is an excellent way to move into the holiday spirit. xo

Welcoming December

November was a month full of travel – leaving home for work once and fun twice.

December is home-bound all the way.

We got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Joshua Tree yesterday afternoon – driving home in the rain that visited SoCal (gosh, we need it). We spent the later afternoon reading (me) and napping (H & Carter Cash). It was a very active, fun, adventurous weekend. I plan on writing more about it this week.

This morning I welcomed in December with a quick trip to Starbucks to write out all of the swirling ToDos in my head. Getting things down on paper is not only a relief, but also gives me a solid way to keep track of the next thing I want to / need to work on.

The season of red cups, Christmas music and gift-list making is upon us. We have family visiting in T-2.5 weeks and we’re hosting everyone for Christmas, officially, for the first time this year.

After work I am going to pack up the Thanksgiving decorations and pull out the Christmas ones. The weather plus end of daylight savings time has made the evenings dark and long. I think it’s 6pm when it’s only 4pm. I think it’s time for bed around 7pm. We’re asleep most night by 9:30pm, and sleep 8hrs straight. We wake before the sunrise, moving through the dark apartment by 5:30am.

But it’s part of the season, part of the change, part of the flow. I can’t believe we’re in the last month of 2014, I’m holding on to every last bit of it as the days go by.

The photo above is for day 1 of December Reflections, hosted by Susannah Conway. I don’t plan on sharing the photos here in that exact capacity, but feel free to follow / join over on Instagram.

And lastly, a happy 50th birthday to my awesome MIL who embodies the spirit of the (Sagittarius) with her enthusiasm for life. xo

Grateful Season 2014

Thankful for healthy family, a great husband, a smart dog, a good job, flexibility, love, peace, dreams. Trips to Boston and Denver and Joshua Tree. Rock climbing, hiking and the ocean. Time outside. Alaska. Really good sleep. Good coffee, and tea, and chai. Good books. Really good books. Cooking, biking and running. Podcasts and comfortable boots and snail mail. Internet friends, long distance friends, best friends. Laughing till I cry and clear, starry nights. Awesome coworkers and working from home. Movies in the theater and vinyl floors and green juice. Visits from friends and family, bright orange sunsets and paper crafts. Blogs, social media and sharing ideas. Deep conversations and time alone.

Writing here and you out there, reading.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

xo

Piqued

Had a super productive week both at work and home because I am traveling a bunch in the next 2 weeks. By the time you read this, I’ll be in Denver visiting my friend Chelsea, where apparently it’s going to be a low of 14*. I’ve packed 3 sweaters and my puffy down “sleeping-bag” coat to keep me warm while we bike, eat, drink tea, and spend mucho quality time together.

Ah, the dark, dark nostalgia. Hey Arnold! characters all grown up.

This tweet.

And also my Twitter conversation with Yvette Nicole Brown where we chatted about the Serial podcast. She is my favorite guest on the Talking Dead (she has pages of notes about each episode).

OMG the Serial podcast. Hoping to write a longer post on this eventually, but I am loving the narrative form, the voices, the music. I don’t care so much about the who-done-it as much as the storytelling process in the series. The Slate Serial Spoiler Special is the podcast-about-the-podcast and a critical discussion about both the unfolding of the reporting and the way it’s being reported. So meta.

New moon in Sagittarius today – the questing sign.

I share Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook statuses (stati?) a few times a week. I love her updates, her words, her take on life.

We saw Interstellar last weekend (I liked it, was glad we saw it in the theater too) so of course I am drawn to stories about people’s experiences in space – An Astronaut Reveals What Life In Space Is Really Like.

On the last two nights of my final flight, I slept on the flight deck, my sleeping bag strapped beneath the overhead windows. The position of the shuttle put Earth in those windows, so when I woke up the whole world was out there in front of me—in that moment, just for me alone.

And cuz I’m not one to miss a list: The Top 10 Mistakes in Behaviour Change (and How to Avoid Them). My favorite is mistake #4 “Trying to Stop Old Behaviors Instead of Creating New Ones”. This def works for me. I like how he included further reading links.

And on that note – Can Absence Make The Mind Grow Fonder. I’ve found when I stop consuming something (purchasing clothes, drinking alcohol, eating Oreos, posting on Twitter etc) I don’t miss it. Yes, there’s the initial moment of going for the thing and realizing it’s not there (or I made a choice to avoid it) but then after even a few short days, it’s like, whatever. I do agree on the substitution part, which supports what I liked about mistake #4 in the above paragraph.

Have a great weekend xo

Malibu Creek – Hike and Climb

Last week, we had Tuesday off, and decided to head out to Malibu Creek State Park to climb the Planet of the Apes wall. After taking care of the dog and eating breakfast, we headed out. The park was simple to find and we didn’t hit too much traffic.

It was overcast which made the feeling of autumn and vacation sink in even more. I’ve had the camping / hiking bug for a while now, and it was intensified by our trip to Joshua Tree a few weeks ago.

We parked, paying $20 to the envelop system because we didn’t have any change, and headed down the Crags Road trail. After about 1.5 miles we came to the Planet of the Apes wall.

Another group was setting up a few climbs, but the bolts for the easiest climb were still open. We hiked to the top of the wall, the view was awesome. H set up our top rope anchor. (You can see him in the picture above – and the tiny people near his left elbow that show how high up we were).

The climb we set up, a 5.9, ended up being tougher than I’d hoped. Even though there are huge pockets for your hands the wall comes back at you, and it takes a lot of energy just to stay on the wall and not swing off. This was a type of climb I don’t normally work on. Plus, it is filthy. There is tons of dust and dirt in the holds, so it felt like reaching around in a cellar.

We didn’t last long. H melted out before the top of the 5.9 – I made it 1/2 way. We switched ropes with the group next to us so we could try the next route over. That felt more fun, but was tough as well. Then there was already another group of people waiting to set up their ropes. H felt pressured and I agreed. We decided to pack up the climbing gear, eat lunch and continue on a hike into the canyon.

We came up and around to the rock pool, which was prettier than it was clean. There were a lot of people there, including what felt like a bus load of high school kids.

The people were were originally climbing next to at the Apes wall had also packed up and made their way to traverse the rock pool to an additional set of climbs on the other side. You can see them in the two pictures above making their way across the rock wall of the pool.

We ate lunch at a picnic table under some coniferous trees, brown needles blanketing the ground. It felt isolated, quiet and just what I needed. The overcast made climbing feel really hot, but otherwise I was wearing my jacket and long-sleeved shirt.

Sitting there at lunch, eating a random assortment of food I packed, I told H I could sit there for hours. That I wish I’d brought a book and we had more time – I wanted to just relax there for hours. But we needed to get hiking to beat the daylight and we didn’t have all night to burn.

Down the path, H slowed. H was tired and probably not as into the hike as I was. We were headed to the M.A.S.H. site – I was using that destination as a reason to get him going. I’m all for hikes for the sake of hiking, but H likes a purpose to all the walking (this is pretty much the only instance where this type of “productive” role reversal happens haha).

 

After about an hour of walking, we made it. It’s not much, but it’s cute. I hadn’t been to this site since I first moved to LA. I don’t remember being that impressed with it then either, but it does make for a “destination” on the hike.

We took a few pictures, ate some snacks at the tables and then both took an Awake energy shot. That perked H right up. He was zooming along the trail on the way back and we were chatty as we kept up this faster pace.

We talked about camping, our Thanksgiving trip plans, the future of our homelife, the idea of kids and a bit of what we’d like 2015 to hold (travel, for sure). This is the kind of quality time I really love – being outdoors by ourselves, doing something interesting with H, and a good swatch of time to enjoy.

This whole day felt perfect. I’m so glad we headed out on this little adventure. Clearly both my day off alone and this day made for a super spoiled introverted me. Yay.

Futures x10 x2

On November 2nd we went to see the closing show of the Jimmy Eat World’s Futures x10 tour at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. This is the same venue we saw them play Clarity x10, though for that show we had seats in the balcony. This time, we were committed to GA floor – and it was awesome.

We saw the opening show of the Futures x10 tour exactly one month before – if you remember, this is when I saw the band on the street and almost threw up from panic. It was really great to see them play the opening and closing shows of the same tour, especially since this involved the first 13 songs of the set list being the same. I could tell they’d gotten into a groove over the month-long tour. The songs, the time in between songs and the whole band just hummed.

This show, we were in Joshua Tree the day before and the morning of, so I knew we didn’t have the energy to do anything but stand and watch the set. Even in my exhausted state, knowing I had to travel to Boston the next day, I still loved every minute.

During the sound-check, the tech came out with a gorgeous blue bass on. “The bass player’s bass is so blue,” I said to H. “Yeah, that’s the one he always plays,” H said. “Oh – I never noticed before,” I replied.

It got me thinking – I’ve seen this band live almost 10 times, they’re my favorite, hands down, and I’ve never really watched the BAND play. I’m so fixated on Jim Adkins that the rest of the band blurs into the background.

Whoops.

A few weeks ago, my friend Joanna got to meet Jim Adkins after the show in Virginia. She made sure to take a selfie with him to send me. She said he is the nicest guy ever and that they really do just hang around the venue after the show, getting dinner and talking to fans.

Again, with the Jtree trip and the flight to Boston the next day, I knew we couldn’t hang around to meet them – but I feel like we’re getting closer. One day we’ll hit up a show and make time and get to meet them. For sure. In the meantime, I’ll wait patiently for their next album and tour.

Bonus – the band takes a pic of the audience each night and we made the cut. You can see H’s hands as the highest ones on the bottom left side of the pic below – he’s wearing a black t-shirt. I’m somewhere to the right of him and our friend is also standing there with us.

So it was a low key concert for us but totally worth the experience. Seeing the band 2x in one month did nothing but turn up the volume on my love for them. :sigh:

Check out the set list from the show. I was thrilled they played Dizzy (my other favorite besides Polaris and 23) and Jim talked a bunch during this show. He said he appreciates people still coming out to see their shows. It’s the “hugest compliment”.

I’m lucky I live in LA – a city they play in often. Their songs have impacted so much of the past 10 years of my life. Thank you to them for keeping on.

Joshua Tree Overnight (Part 2)

You can read part 1 here.

After a full day of climbing, we ate pizza, drove to a lot in Joshua Tree park and piled all of our gear on. We took the students and hiked out into the back country. H’s colleague, who runs the trip every year, had a choice spot he was seeking.

Amazingly, the site was open. We all staked out spots and set up tents. Then we roasted marshmallows over the camp stove burner and sipped hot chocolate.

H and I set up our tent so we could lay with our heads out of the door and stare up at the sky. We love looking at a starry sky, far from light pollution.

We slept in the tent, bundled in lots of clothes and our sleeping bags. It probably went down to the 40s that night. I was so cold, I hardly slept. My breath condensed on my sleeping bag making my sleeping area all wet. Ugh.

We both got up to go to the bathroom around 6am. H found the hand warmers we’d packed and gave me two. He got up to hang out with the students, and with the hand warmers doing their job, I slept another  45min or so.

We packed up the tents and sleeping bags and packed up our packs for the hike out to the car. From there we drove to another spot with picnic tables and ate oatmeal, Pop Tarts, trail mix, left over Halloween candy and sipped more hot chocolate.

Then we were off to another site to do a 7 mile hike.

At first, the elevation change of the hike was tough. H’s colleague is a serious outdoors guy and his pace is much faster than I am used to. I was dragging for the first hour or so. When we stopped for the view above, where H and I took our traditional vacation photo, the break helped. I fueled up on an Awake energy shot and trailmix and finally got going.

The hike gave me plenty of time to chat with H’s coworker and listen to the stories the high school students were sharing. I had such a mama bear moment of getting to be a part of these kids’ senior year trip to the desert.

It made me think a lot about how I was at that age, and the things I wish I did differently. I can’t believe I was there age over 10 years ago. It seems like just last year but also like the memories get fuzzier and dimmer each day.

On the drive home, we stopped at a Sonic. It felt crazy that we’d camped and hiked all before noon. The female students opted to ride in our car over the two days, and I loved that. One girl was sitting in the back seat and I asked, “Having a zen moment?” and she said, “It’s just so much quieter in here than the van”.

I had a flash forward of the type of parents or family life H and I may create for our kids and their friends. It only made sense that the quieter students would want to ride in our car – hopefully we can always create that calmer, quieter vibe for people. I know I cherish it.

I was sad to go home too. I love being outside – I could’ve stayed another 2 or 3 days. We have plans to be in Joshua Tree for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait.

Joshua Tree Overnight (Part 1)

A few weeks ago we took a few of H’s students out to Joshua Tree for an overnight trip: camping, rock climbing and hiking. The night before was Halloween, where it poured rain and we slept maybe 4 hours. The lack of sleep was no fun, but I knew the rain was going to make the drive to the desert a gorgeous sight.

I was right.

The guides we hired decided we would climb the solarium at Joshua Tree. Most of the kids had never rock climbed before and the weather report that morning was saying cold winds – the solarium is one of the warmer areas to climb at JTree.

The guides spent a lot of time talking about the mechanics of climbing, even demoing a climb, and then got the students up and going.

The routes they set were easy so the kids were having a good time. If they weren’t climbing they were talking, taking photos and eating snacks.

I was able to get on a 5.9+ / 5.10 route later that afternoon. It was really difficult. It took me quite a while, and while the guide belaying me wasn’t the best coach, another guide encouraged me from below, and I made it. There is nothing more thrilling than reaching the top a climb you’ve never done before – and this was a difficulty I’d never climbed outside. Woo.

After climbing all day, we all piled into the 12-person van and H’s car and drove out of the park into town. We went to Pie for the People where H and I split a Caesar salad and sausage, mushroom and ricotta calzone. (This is the same place we ate after our climbing day Memorial Day weekend, which I still have to blog about…) The students all sat at a table together, eating and talking, and being the purely young and self-sustaining people teenagers are. And from the pizza place we were given this awesome sunset.

And that’s just part 1.