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Several days ago, driving through the hills of Mt. Tabor on my way home from an 8 hour work day at the shop, the sun was setting and through the trees I could see the the Portland skyline was a beautiful smoky orange. As I descended from the hills into the valley of the city with my windows down, letting the warm, late-summer breeze soothe my exhaustion from being on my feet all day, I was struck by my own contentedness for life in general, despite how drained I was and despite my recent career and money woes. It was a feeling I’ve felt before and would have quickly labeled as me feeling “happy,” but only until recently am I understanding the full extent of what I experienced. While weaving through the winding streets, sunlight intermittently beaming through the driver window and onto my cheek, I decided that this is what wholeness feels like.

The concept of “wholeness” was first brought to my attention upon discovering this brilliant quote. And ever since I’ve pondered my own expectation of “happiness” being a required emotion and about perhaps welcoming more struggle and less perfection in my life. Not that I didn’t have any struggle before, it’s just that I usually resisted anything remotely difficult with gritted teeth and a scowl-imprinted forehead. But this particular night I was feeling the damn daily struggle of life, specifically working retail, swollen feet and all, worrying how tight money is right now and wondering where my career path will take me and what I will make of it. Yet I felt okay, even good about things being less than ideal. It was quite a new thing for me to be under a lot of stress while simultaneously realizing that it was all contributing to the wholeness of my life and my life with Sam. That slight shift in my perspective pacified my hardships and made them a thousand percent easier to deal with. In that moment, driving with the wind whipping through my hair, I reveled in how marvelous it is to be in progress. To struggle, I’m finding, is a somewhat savory process of life. A difficult one at that, but nonetheless sweet. It’s a little hellish to finesse a human life, but the creating, the working towards, the not knowing and the becoming is quite exciting.

As I drove past Canteen and the Penny Market, as I have seemingly done hundreds of times before, and listened to the sweet croaks of tree frogs welcoming nightfall, I too welcomed the darkness of my perfectly flawed existence and suddenly the path I was on, both physically and metaphorically, felt fresh and impermanent. I understood that this specific drive home will not be one that I take forever, this specific phase of my life, working another retail job, will not last forever and I will fulfill the parts of me that want more in life. And just as the stoplight in front of me seamlessly glowed from red to green, prompting me to begin again picking up speed, I was struck with an entirely new version of feeling, dare I say it, happy and continued on my way home.

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Saturday is market day in Portland. The market day. Of course there are lots of great farmer’s markets on different days of the week, but Saturday holds the biggest and best farmer’s market in town over at the PSU campus downtown. It was wild. I was there for the first time a couple weeks ago (on my blissful Saturday off, might I add) and fell for the frenzied energy of people simply buying their fresh produce from local growers. It’s such a lively community and I loved being a part of the action as I snapped pictures left and right. It was an endless supply of inspiration for me. The color. Oh the color got me good. Watching people sample ripe peaches, a woman picking her favorite bunch of beets, the man smoking his pipe in the sunlight, the tiniest and bluest eyes looking at me and the couple buying the most vibrant bouquet of flowers were all favorite moments I experienced.  As for myself, I picked up the best gluten-free pancake mix (after a few failed attempts at making my own), snacked on an Alma Chocolate peanut butter cup and happily observed the bustle happening around me. It was a sweet way to spend my Saturday off work, in the heart of the city.

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He’s Back

9.9.14

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“It feels like breathing for the first time in a long time,” he said as he inhaled. Like he had done hundreds of times before, he effortlessly slipped the strap of his guitar over his head and laid its well-worn, cream-colored body in a bed of black velvet, where it has rested for nearly 2 years.

It was a scene I was familiar with. Bright lights lit up the relaxed yet focused expression on his face, as his fingertips floated with precision across the neck of his guitar, like a spider with his dexterous legs meticulously weaving a beautifully composed web.

But his stage for that night was not the packed Sunset Blvd club he last played 2 years ago, buzzing with a drunken hive of a crowd, peppered with celebrities. Instead he crooned his songs and finessed his fingers in our 650 sq ft apartment. A venue of sorts but no celebrities, just me, his girlfriend, watching the phoenix within his fingertips come alive again; muscle memory at its best.

I thought to myself, as he knelt over his guitar and gently touched the fret board, that soon I won’t be on the couch watching him play with the kitchen sink as his backup. Soon enough I will be lost in the swell of the audience and you will have your proper players behind you, lending their beat to your beat. Spotlights instead of track lights. And wild and free, your heart will pound, as you walk center stage and the mic scratches and begs for your voice to be sung and for the wailing sound of your talent.

He clenched his hands and examined the torn tips of his fingers, the ends of his being that had long ached for the roughness of steel strings, for the music, the performance and for the mastery of it all.

He exhaled with a smile.

He’s back.

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Oh how I wish I was back in Silver Lake, laughing beneath the pines with these three. As the summer begins to wind down here in Oregon, I’m savoring the last bits of the season via these photos I took of our annual Eastern Sierra vacation in June, when all our time was spent fishing, drinking, laughing and crying as we unabashedly pour our hearts out to each, as we always do when we’re together. As for me, my favorites of the trip were eating breakfast at the lodge cafe, experiencing another beautiful, pink sunset, rummaging through a few Mammoth bookstores with Connie and waking up early and experiencing a serenely still lake out on the boat. I think my absolute favorite though was my time alone on the shore as I looked for pieces of driftwood I could bring back to Oregon. It was a simple moment when I felt free and giddy–giddy over driftwood. Giddy over having a home where I could bring back a piece of nature from a place I cherish. Ah, this trip oozes summer to me. Until next time Silver Lake. More photos of our getaway to come. And a possibly a video too!

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Good Morning

7.30.14

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Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes for a good morning. Whether I’m off to work in a couple of hours from the time I open my rested eyes or I have the entire day to do nothing, there are particular parts of my mornings that make me feel so good. Like I-feel-so-relaxed-even-though-I-have-a-million-things-to-do kind of good. That, to me, is an important feeling in the morning because without it I’m kind of mindless and mean to myself all day and that’s no good. So, here are the things that help give me a peaceful confidence to go about the rest of my day:

Wake Up Softly

There’s something a little unsettling in worrying about everything there is to worry about the moment you come out of your sweet slumber. Sweet dreams turn into bitter realities quickly if you don’t give yourself time and love before you roll out of bed. Go slow and be patient with yourself. Take in a couple of deep breaths, gently wiggle the sleep out of your fingers and toes, stretch your arms overhead and have mercy in the fact that you just woke up. You deserve that extra bit of relaxation as you transition from your bed to your day. And the same goes for the time you hit the hay the night before. If you went to bed stressed-out and rushed, you most likely will wake up the same way. Give yourself that quiet time before you go to bed as well. The next tip will help with both your evenings and mornings.

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Distancing Distractions

Give yourself at least an hour without looking at your phone, computer, laptop, ipad or any other technological device that has a screen. And the same goes for any sort of documents, bills or to-do lists. Anything that will stress you out, leave it alone and literally put it in the other room or where you can’t see it. It’s amazing how much time you’ll find you have when those things are out of sight and out of mind. A calmness will melt over you like butter on a hot biscuit once you free yourself from those distractions. And you’ll have loads of mental space to think, do and feel what you want at a pace you like. That is the key to this tip, without the distractions, you get to dictate your mood, not your phone. And the more you practice this the more you’ll crave distraction-free time in the mornings and evenings. Oh, it’s so good.

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Let the Light In

Opening the blinds or door and seeing the world around you is such a simple thing to do in the morning that serves as the perfect moment to literally and figuratively greet the day. An audible “hello sun” never hurt anybody. It’s a time when you can assess what your day will look like as far as your natural environment goes; it’s a sort of getting familiar with what’s going on in the actual world, not the virtual world of your phone. Peering out your window in the mornings not only allows you to feel connected to the flow of the weather, but ultimately the flow of your day.

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Savor

Putting thought into preparing your breakfast in the morning is super soul-soothing (say that three times fast). There’s a sense of taking care of yourself when thoughtfully chopping up fruit or nuts to go into a comforting bowl of oatmeal, yogurt or whatever your choice of breakfast may be. Smelling the warming scent of crushed coffee beans or savoring the sound of the kettle water starting to boil are all the little sensory moments that go easily unnoticed in the mornings. But when we are keenly aware of these little snippets of time it fosters a sense of gratitude for the food and pleasures you have in your life. And this gratitude will stick with you for the rest of your day. And when it comes time to eat what you’ve prepared, go slow, thank yourself for the thought that went into it and actually feel what it tastes like to eat your food. You’ll find it tastes more incredible than usual just because you slowed down and savored.

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Do What You Like

Exercising, doing a half an hour of yoga, lighting a nice candle, putting your favorite record on, or even curling up on the couch with a blanket and reading a good book are all things that will make you feel great while giving you time to settle into your day. And for those of us still dreaming of owning a record player you can make your own music and sing a happy, little tune as you transition from the awesome morning you had into the start of your awesome day.

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