Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Patchwork of 2013

I began this year in my sweet, isolated beach town on the Central Coast. That experience was coming to an end and I was reaping the rewards of patience and searching for peace through some pretty lonely years. This year was full of necessary endings, new beginnings and transitions. My friend told me that 2013 was going to be my year, she apologized this week but I don't think that is necessary. I'm resilient and know myself better because of this year.

Grace and calm were my intentions for 2013. The hardest realization this year was letting go of my inner control freak. Grace and calm do not reside well with controlling tendencies. I fought hard against this for months and admitted my shortcoming right before my birthday. There was the sweet consolation of grace and calm waiting for me once I confronted my inner dictator. I learned in order to receive grace, I had to ask for it and the hardest part...receive it. Being fiercely independent makes it hard for me to ask for help and even harder, to receive it. Ever since I have opened myself up, blessings have flowed in. I am so grateful for this year.

Here is the patchwork that made up 2013:
-Moving back to San Diego (gorgeous sunsets, dear friends nearby and the Pacific still keeping me company)
-Saying goodbye to my vivacious, loving and hilarious grandma
-Soaking up Mediterranean sun in the Amalfi Coast
-Island hopping in Greece
-Floating effortlessly in the Aegean
-Running hundreds of miles (time to retire those shoes)
-Finding out one of my dearest friends is expecting after years of trying
-Meeting wonderful people who are new friends (Friendsgiving, dancing and laughter)
-Being honest with myself
-Returning to Seattle after 5 years and loving it
-Satisfying my inner oenophile in the Willamette Valley (holy love of Pinot!)

Cheers to another lovely year. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store.

"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us." -Anne Lamott

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Paris Journal

"As we were climbing, the lights started to twinkle, it was like we were in a glass of champagne"

I wrote this my first night in Paris back in 2006. I remember the butterflies in my stomach when I first saw the Eiffel Tower from afar. This was my first trip overseas and it was a whirlwind all over Western Europe, trying to see and do as much as possible in 16 days. Paris was the final stop and I wanted to savor the city. I had dreamt of Paris (Europe really) my entire life, and I had finally made it.

We only spent 2 days in Paris. It is amazing how much you can cram into 2 days, yet leave so much unseen. I must return. I got lost in the Louvre and passed "Winged Victory" at least 3 times before I realized I was walking in a very large, but art filled, circle. Notre Dame was enjoyed from the outside and when I return, I would like to go inside and be painted with the stained glass reflections. French onion soup, escargot, cheese, bread, chocolate and Bordeaux were consumed. A walk along the Seine and a ride in the metro were preferred modes of transport. A cabaret and dancing at a night club near the Moulin Rouge completed the visit. We sipped champagne and toasted to our friendship and adventure. We had no idea that this was the catapult of more international adventures.

When I look back on Paris, I remember my excitement and naiveté. It was my first big adventure out into the world and my wanderlust exploded upon my return. There isn't a day that has passed that I haven't thought about somewhere far away. It is so appropriate that the Eiffel Tower symbolized a glass of champagne to me. It was like the world was toasting my desire to explore it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

On Vulnerability

I watched Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability last year and it changed the way I approach my life. She eloquently speaks of what it means to be vulnerable and how it can change the way we interact with each other. Vulnerability can be one of the scariest things and also one of the most rewarding.

Ever since I decided to chip away at the walls I built around my heart and soul, I have experienced life in a more vibrant and satisfying manner. This doesn't mean that there aren't remnants of the walls or past hurts left, but I can be more open and forgiving with myself and others because of this. I have experienced new relationships form, old relationships healed and some removed from my life just from being open and honest.

I used to be such a hard, sarcastic and blunt person. When I look back just 5 years, I hardly recognize the person I became. I was working and playing hard, spending my time and money like they were invincible and not really showcasing love as it should be. During that time, I desperately wanted love and acceptance, but my walls just towered over my ability to soften.

This all began to change when I quit my high stress job and began letting go of so many things--physical and emotional. Selling everything, a broken heart, a couple years alone in a coastal town and unconditional love from family and friends can really chip away at a hard shell. The more I opened up, the more opportunities and love entered my life. I don't think it is a coincidence that I have been able to travel more, cultivate relationships and work on awareness during this time. By letting my guard down, blessings have flowed in and I am truly grateful. One of the hardest lessons of my life has proven to be the most rewarding.

"to let yourself soften into loving someone, to caring about something passionately--that's vulnerable" -Brene Brown

And just because this is lovely and relevant...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Memories with Grandma

This is my first holiday season without Grandma. I found this photo tonight and it made me really miss her. It has been months since she passed away but my heart is still healing from the loss. She was such a vibrant, sarcastic, funny and loving influence in my life. I adored holidays with her. She always made us feel special with stockings and dinners with pasta on the side--always. I remember the garland on her Christmas tree was comprised of plastic candies; it sparkled in the large colored bulbs she used to light the tree. Santa and Snoopy were favorite Christmas decorations and carols sung by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and friends crooned from her white tape deck. She filled her green candy dish with Swedish Fish and we snuck several pieces throughout the night. My favorite holiday memory of Grandma would be the light in her eyes as we opened the gifts she wrapped and stuffed into stockings for each grandchild. We would chime "Thank you Grandma" and she would graciously smile and nod. I always felt loved and so special around her. I am so blessed to have had a grandma like her and am grateful for all the years we had together.