Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: travel

Recently (February 2015)

finishing editing meeting minutes for a big deal meeting. this is much harder than I anticipated.

rolling with doing work when I have the energy, ignoring time and day of the week

going to so.many.places, starting with Austin next week.

updating the blog, moving it to a new home with a new look. Stay tuned!

watching Fargo (my Martin Freeman crush is deep). Walking Dead. Hockey. Can’t wait to binge-watch House of Cards.

reading Station 11. Just finished The Bone Clocks and Me Talk Pretty One Day.

remembering being read to as a kid, especially Charlotte’s Web at school and Little Women by my grandmother at home.

quitting alcohol, going on 3 weeks

thinking about creating a podcast

celebrating my birthday

loving H’s support, and how he’s obsessed with listening to a book on tape.

drinking hot chocolate with coffee

dreaming of babies #notpregnant

wearing a random assortment of pajama-like clothing

missing Stephanie

listening to Book Riot, Raise Your Hand Say Yes, Dabbles vs Doers and the Nerdist podcasts.

planning many, many trips

embracing the next few months are not what I thought they’d be, including 6 flights, but it should all still be pretty awesome.

spending less money, despite said trip planning travels.

wishing I could read in the bathtub all day, everyday. Actually, wishing for a better tub in general. (Birthday gift?)

feeling grateful this post-event season feels easier than other years

obsessed with Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (you’re welcome)

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2015 One Little Word: Adventure

2015 was off to a slow start on the personal end coupled with a roaring schedule for work. This required turning in, focusing my energy where it was needed – on myself and my job.

Now that the knot of work loosened, I am excited to shift focus to my own projects. What better way to get clear on my intentions than by sharing my One Little Word for 2015?

Adventure. Yes.

While most of the past 10 weeks are a blur of holidays, work and not-so-great events, my OLW came to me before that. In the midst of traveling to Denver, Joshua Tree and Boston – on flights, during road trips, while climbing rock faces – I started to feel an inkling of something new. A whisper of forward movement. A feeling of needing to shake things up.

I could already feel the Saturn shift happening, and the planet of hard work was moving right into adventure-loving Sagittarius.

Perfect timing.

 

Post-Travel Grounding

Back home.

Here is how I get grounded after returning from a (work) trip:

I do not schedule anything for my first full day back. Traveling is fun and exhausting. I usually need quiet, slowing down time to feel back at home. Like jumping off a merry-go-round – you hit the ground running before you can slow to a stop.

I unpack – putting things away, sorting dirty clothes and storing the suitcase (so it doesn’t live in front of my dresser, blocking drawers) really helps the travel feel done.

I return to my normal morning activities (aka rituals) – the dog and I go out for a walk or bike ride, I write morning pages, I make the bed and eat my favorite foods (H was wonderful to pick up eggs and milk so I’d have groceries to make my own breakfast my first day back at home #itsthelittlethings).

I take it slow – I don’t expect too much of myself, I don’t pressure myself to get “to dos” done, I listen to podcasts, straighten up around the apartment, and nap. Napping is important, especially if I’ve overloaded myself with information and conversations, like the return from a work trip.

I find quality time with my husband – so much of feeling untethered in our relationship for me comes from a lack of quality time. He picked me up from the airport, we slept in on Saturday, we went out to dinner Friday night. We spent time together and that makes me feel even more comforted and grounded.

I indulge – this time, I’m being even more self-indulgent and taking a 4 day weekend after traveling for work 4 days. But I’m learning more and more that my all-or-nothing personality functions well when I’ve rested enough. If I take an entire day to do what I want to do, or even more so, to do nothing productive at all, then I bounce back with tons of energy the next day. It’s a rubber-band sling-shot type of balance that seems to suit me.

How do you ground yourself after travel?

Busy, Simple Boston Trip

Another trip to Boston for work is in the books.

This trip was quick and dirty – flew in on Monday after the weekend in Joshua Tree and seeing Jimmy Eat World again – worked all the hours Tuesday through Thursday, and flew home Thursday night.

Glad I went to sit in on a few important meetings, connect with colleagues and bounce ideas around. It was gray, dark and chilly – it poured the last day.

Highlight was getting to meet Lindsey of A Design So Vast in person – yay for meeting people from the Internet. She was just as engaging, kind and thoughtful as her writing portrays her to be. So thankful she made the time for me.

I broke out the puffy coat for the cold, did HIIT exercises in my hotel room, tramped around in my new maroon boots, and made sure I ate a bagel with lox. I consumed many chai lattes, didn’t drink too much this time and ate seared Ahi tuna steaks at more than one meal. I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for a glazed donut and hot tea, sipped french onion soup and spoke to 5 student groups. I had dinner with one of my best friends and heard about her wedding plans and hung out with her puppy for a few minutes. I got to hug my two favorite colleagues. I had deep conversations with people I consider mentors and friends.

My flights felt long, but were as easy as flying across the country can get.

I stayed up too late and didn’t get enough sleep.

Once student event had a small number of people show up and my presentation wasn’t working – so I decided to improvise. The the fire alarm went off, forcing us to change locations. Somehow, we all reconvened and the students who stuck around said they really enjoyed the entire event. Proud of myself for going with the flow.

And lastly, when I tried to catch a cab in the rain to the airport, there were no cabs to be found. A women, my age or younger, was also waiting. She said she was going to call an Uber and that I could tag along with her. I didn’t get her name or info but I’d like to send her a thank you for that ride – which was quick, warm and got me to the airport with plenty of time.

Life is so simple and easy at times, just going with the flow.

#30daysofdresses – day 14

I had Monday off and decided to take the afternoon and go on a little day trip alone.

The best kind.

I wore a dress my mom bought me for my honeymoon. It’s strapless, cotton, doesn’t require a bra and has pockets. It’s pretty awesome.

Read more about my day alone in Pasadena.

Day Alone In Pasadena

Monday I had the day off and decided to go to Pasadena alone.

I’m not sure why I wanted to visit Old Pasadena, but the idea popped into my head and off I went. Well, first I had to pick up and return tables from a work event. And I had to drive kind of far in mid-day traffic.

But once I found parking, I was off.

To lots of walking around.

I started near a park and wove my way up past Castle Green and then on to the main drag of shops. I’m always surprised how much of a place is generic – the same stores as anywhere else in the country.

It was hot out, the sun beating down on me as I walked with a fabric backpack on. I stopped at The Juice Farm. Sipped on this deliciousness while I walked around The Paper Source store and past a bunch of other places.

I love the old buildings – the brick and fired stone.

My original plan was to go to Intelligentsia (how cooooool does this place look??) and write and read in the cool darkness of a hipster coffee shop while sipping a fancy latte.

But the public restroom gods conspired against me. Or, I guess, the lack of public restroom gods… because it was hot out I drank a lot of water, then I had that smoothie, and then I needed to pee. Really badly, but there didn’t seem to be a public restroom anywhere. I even walked all the way down back down to the park to try some port-a-potties I saw and they were locked. LOCKED. Port-a-potties with big locks on them. WTF.

I wanted to spend my lunch money somewhere I’ve never been, but the need for a bathroom became the priority. When I did a loop through the coffee shop I didn’t see a restroom at all. I wasn’t that hungry yet so I felt frustrated – here I was trekking all over, trying to figure out where to eat lunch just to use a restroom.

Did I mention it was very, very hot?

With time running out, I stepped into Crepes de Paris, saw they had a restroom, and ordered food immediately. It was pretty much empty, so I had my pick of tables. Ate my egg and cheese crepe with a latte that was unbelievably strong and not worth drinking. I read a book and sat in the quiet.

It was magnificent.

I don’t know why people feel uncomfortable eating alone in restaurants. I find it relaxing and super enjoyable. I read more of The Highly Sensitive Person, stared into space, jotted some notes in my journal and enjoyed the a/c when the main door to the patio wasn’t open.

It started to get late and I was worried about traffic (was about 25m away from home, but in LA that could mean a 2hr drive). And I had one more stop to make…

Vroman’s Bookstore.

Come on, you didn’t think my day alone would include walking, eating alone, coffee, reading and writing and not include a stop in a bookstore??

I kind of wish I’d gone here first – I could’ve just eaten in their bakery and I found a little mall on my walk over that had public restrooms. At least now I know for the next time I visit where everything is.

The store was large and pretty noisy. People talking, telephones ringing and kids roaming around. I felt jittery and uncomfortable from the latte and the heat. I was pretty tired by this point and had a mile walk back to my car.

But I tried to enjoy wandering the stacks, reading the little tags that employees had written recommendations on, and basically satiating myself with books. I was overwhelmed and inspired – I wanted to go home and read and write forever. There were so many books, how could I even get to a small portion of them in my lifetime? I thought about taking notes on the ones that jumped out at me, creating a To Read Later list. I wanted to buy a few but also wanted to save money. It made me miss tangible, paper books in a really deep way.

On the walk back to the car, I enjoyed the late afternoon light, even though it was still hot out. I figured out where my car was and cranked the a/c while I drove home. I didn’t hit any traffic and the rest of the evening was relaxing.

After the chaos last week, I’m really glad I had a chance to travel alone for a day, even though I didn’t leave LA.

When I first read Mae Cheverette’s blog, and how she travels alone, I was so intrigued, her posts pulled at my heartstrings. Then there’s The Noisy Plume’s travels and my own day trip around SF 2 years ago now that I remember so fondly, and the deep pull Alaska had on me.

There is something about being in a new place, walking a lot, observing and experiencing without really having to talk to anyone, that opens my heart up. It feels so luxurious, so new, so silly that it can have that affect on me, but it does. It also feels selfish, but in a really indulgent, put-myself-first way. It’s exactly what Julia Cameron calls an artist date – “assigned play”.

I needed this break from routine, from my neighborhood and from the emotional turmoil I felt all last week. I’m so glad I went. xo

Animal Spirits

This weekend we were in Santa Margarita for our friends’ wedding (more on that later) and I kept encountering animals.

There were deer on the property. They came into the yard of the house we were staying in, nibbling on grasses, their tails and lips and ears twitching.

I went for a run with another girl staying in the house and we had a group of horses come right out of the field they were grazing in and trot over to us. They came within arms reach and stood there, their muscular bodies taunt but calm, watching us with liquid eyes.

Later on the run, a silhouette of a dog popped up on the horizon. I thought it was a coyote at first, but as it started to run directly towards us, I realized it was a cattle dog. He ran big, looping circles up a hill and back to us, where he joined two girls on horseback and followed them off down the path.

We saw a male deer, antlers flashing in the sun, running through a field of tall grass.

That afternoon, I visited Autry Cellars and while we were chatting with Steve Autry (the owner), his tasting room guy came in and pulled Steve to the front room. A falcon had landed on the deck outside and was perched there, not moving.

There was a very large picture window between all of the people in the tasting room and the falcon on his ledge outside.

Mr. Autry said this was unusual behavior for this type of bird. He sees falcons flying low over the outskirts of the property, but never landing on the main building, especially this close to people. He also pointed out that the bird didn’t have a tag.

Two different times the bird lifted his wings, caught the wind and let it carry him towards the window – testing the pane, knocking into it to see if it was really there. After the second time, he flew away, around the side of the building. Mr. Autry said the bird was outside on another spot, closer to the building than he’d ever seen them before.

When I look up falcons as animal totems, I read this:

When a falcon flies into your life: You are being asked to be vigilant. An opportunity for big positive changes in your life is close at hand and it will require good planning and strategy as well as action on your part. You are reminded that you have all the tools and knowledge to take advantage of this opportunity and that your success depends on your quick reactions. Stay focused and grateful for all that is coming your way. Know that you have the ability to soar high and see things with greater vision!

This could not be more perfect for how I’m feeling since returning from Alaska. It’s as if, all of a sudden, my life is shifting – moving from one level to another – that I am growing or have grown in ways I didn’t realize until this very weekend.

To add to this layer of knowing I have all the tools and knowledge I need to move forward, I read that falcons and hawks serve the same symbolic purpose.

Ever since feathers became a symbol for me, I’ve wished for a hawk feather. In true intuitive fashion, I have no idea what a hawk feather actually looks like, but I thought surely one different enough from the black crow and white seagull feathers in my collection.

Amazingly, hawks represent both focus / day-to-day and big picture / higher-level perspective. Which is exactly where my strengths align for my INFJ Meyers-Briggs type.

A specific way the hawk guidance works is to use a high level and yet clear and focused vision to guide your action. Hawk Spirit Animal

Adding to that, I feel many women in the blogging community who identify as INFJs also see their spirit animal as a wolf. While wolves are incredible animals, I wasn’t feeling them for me. But falcons…

If falcons are your animal totem: You are independent and need to have alone time in order to be happy. You have a sharp mind and are very agile. You know how to mentally work out problems and are always three steps ahead of your peers and workmates. You have the patience to wait in order to get the most out of any opportunity that comes your way. You have impeccable timing and know exactly when to strike for the greatest benefit to yourself.

It seems that I’ve been secretly wishing for hawks / falcons this entire time.

And after that falcon knocked into that window trying to get our attention, I just knew he was there for me.

Dreamed Into Existence

I admit, I’m having trouble figuring out what to do with myself after the epic trip that was Alaska.

I feel dumbfounded that it happened and that it’s already over. Even though our days felt perfectly planned – I never felt rushed or anxious on the trip – it’s a blur in my memory. Which port did we stop in first? What was the name of our guide for the hike? Where were we when we spotted whales? Which days did we cruise the open sea?

I have a friend named Steve who gets that there’s a lot more to me under the surface of my witty and organized approach to life… he commented on Sunday’s post:

Good to have you back and feeling your feelings and sharing all those seemingly mundane details (chili, reading, roller-hockey and photos) that somehow add up to a satisfying life. Maybe not Alaska, but if you lived in Alaska everyday maybe Alaska wouldn’t be Alaska, either haha. Still great journeys are to be cherished, whether external or internal, and Alaska for you sounds like it was both. Congratulations and welcome back and I’m glad you have your freshly-grown nostalgia to keep you sad and craving. Where would we be without our cravings?

And isn’t he right?

I wrote that post because it is the mundane details that make my life. And it is the details that throw us off when we’re traveling, when we encounter a new place. Like how people in Alaska leave their windshield wipers propped up during a winter day so they don’t freeze onto the window. Or how an older man on the boat told his wife he was ordering “tape-ahs” instead of “tah-pahs”. Or how, even though there was a ridiculous amount of food at the buffet, I was dying for fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and some scrambled egg whites.

This trip was something I dreamed into existence – that I could marry into a family where in-laws would invite me not only on crazy family trips, but to the one place on earth I wanted to visit before I died. To a place where, for no specific reason that I can recall, I’ve been interested obsessed with for 5+ years. Serendipity.

It was a trip 2 years in the making and in a snap of a finger two-weeks time, it’s over.

Maybe Alaska wouldn’t be Alaska if I lived there (though I am romantically consumed by my experience enough to challenge that), I can agree with Steve on this point “Still great journeys are to be cherished, whether external or internal, and Alaska for you sounds like it was both”.

And that’s all I can say right now about how large this whole experience feels – both an external and internal journey – still too much for exact words, as large and vast as the state of Alaska.

And we’re off!

For some reason I can’t recall, I’ve felt a serious kinship and obsession with Alaska (see also Maine, Italy, and Everest). So I was flabbergasted when H told me that his family’s next vacation would be to this vast state. I mean, did his step-mom really understand how I pined for Alaska, that it’s on my Top 5 place to visit list, and that I consume all Alaska-based shows on Netflix? No, she probably didn’t. It was a perfect coincidence, but H was pretty stoked to watch my face when he broke the news.

This trip has been 2 years in the making. I am beyond grateful to be part of such a giving and adventurous family. We’ve jokingly used the hashtag #myfamilyvacationsharderthanyours if that’s an indication for what I’m in for haha.

We fly today and our adventure begins in Anchorage. After that, it’s a whirlwind, dream itinerary trip. I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting but watch my SIL’s blog Attention to Balance (where she’s already posted the agenda) and my Instagram for when I feel like sharing… but really, I just want to be in the moment, soaking in this magical time in a magical place.

Climbing A Quarry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of my 30 at 30 list (which I titled My Big Three Oh List) I put “rock climb outdoors”. I haven’t written about it a ton here, but since H and I took a rock climbing class in February, I’m hooked. He bought me a harness for my birthday and I picked up a pair of shoes on discount. Besides the craziness that was April, we’ve gone to the rock climbing gym about 2x per week.

We only know a few people who rock climb outdoors here in LA, and most are men. I have no problems climbing with men (H is a fantastic person to climb with for me personally b/c I trust him, obvi) but there are certain ways of approaching a route that I go after that a guy may not understand. For example, I am only 5 ft tall and therefore have to rely on my flexibility over my actual wing-span to reach certain holds.

It’s important to me that I climb right – I don’t want to pick up bad habits that will prevent growth in skill as I progress. I focus on balance, flexibility and core strength. On routes, technique and intuition guide me.

And now that I’m learning how I learn, instead of just expecting to be good at something immediately, I attention to the skills I want to acquire and mak sure I don’t try to climb routes that are so hard, I feel frustrated and want to quit.

Luckily for me, my colleague Arielle LOVES to climb outdoors and she totally relates. She assured me that my gut-feeling about climbing with men was pretty spot on (again, they’re not being mean, they just don’t have the same body types) and that she would be more than happy to take me out some day.

It just so happened that I flew to Boston for work in April and could come in a day early to go climbing with her!

We went to Quincy Quarries on a gorgeous almost-spring Sunday afternoon. Now an LA native, I was surprised by how bare the trees were still, and a lot of the ground was muddy from recent rain and thaw. There were lots of groups out, clustered around ropes and routes, enjoying the sun and park.

Arielle had all of the gear we needed (including a helmet with a pony-tail space – how cool?) and was confident I could climb a route or two on a wall near the water. She hiked up a wall of boulders, set our anchor and ropes, and we were ready to climb.

Everyone said I would be addicted to outdoor climbing as soon as I tried it – but to be honest, that didn’t happen. It felt like such a different experience that I couldn’t really compare it to climbing at a gym. It felt more relax / less competitive than at the gym. People were laughing, sitting around, a little pup (pictured above) was in and out of the water with a tennis ball. Arielle would try a route and be up there much longer than H & I would be on the wall at the gym, but it was cool – all fun and no stress.

She climbed a route first so I could copy her – and it was awesome to see her climb. There is nothing short of exuberance on this girl’s face when she is outdoors. And she’s super encouraging. When I was climbing, she would suggest good next moves, encourage me to keep going, and just seemed super joyful to be sharing the afternoon with me.

I completed one route and attempted another. We ended up running out of daylight, which was a bummer, because I felt I could’ve stayed there all day. I hope to climb outdoors here in LA soon and to go out with Arielle again on my next trip east.

The whole afternoon felt pretty magical, even surreal, as I was outside in chilly weather, with a colleague (we don’t normally get time as friends, even tho we totally are), CLIMBING a QUARRY WALL. Pretty rad. Can’t wait to do it again.


Special thanks to Arielle who, by the way, just returned from a ladies climbing trip to Moab (!!), which just seems insane to me – she’s pretty bad-ass. She recommends you check out her hero, Steph Davis.