Re-Defining Home

Most of our boxes are unpacked. We’re having our first visitors this weekend. The cats are no longer freaking out (much). I have a fully stocked pantry again. I suppose all of this means that we are settling in, finding our place. Making our home here.

“Home is where one starts from.”
-T. S. Eliot

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I’ve been in motion for most of the last two weeks; unpacking, running errands, seeing friends, going on Seattle adventures. Taking advantage of the good weather. When I have made time to sit down, it’s to zone out with chocolate and a romance novel – I haven’t had the mental energy for anything more substantial. I also haven’t made the space to reflect because I haven’t quite been ready. Moving felt big to me, too big to handle all at once. I’ve had to edge around it, inspect it, examine it in chunks.

I am finding that moving away has made home take on a different meaning.Home is Seattle, because I live here now, because Alex is here, because my life is here. Home is San Francisco, which I unexpectedly fell in love with and where I did a lot of growing up. Home is my parent’s house, where I always revert to a slightly-more-mature adolescent which is both charming and annoying. I am finding that home doesn’t have to be one place, and how lovely that is.

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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When I miss my now-faraway friends, I think about how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who care about me. When I visit with my Seattle friends, I am grateful to have connections here to ease into a new routine. For some reason, this particular transition has reminded me in a new way about my priorities and values – experiences, giving, relationships – an important reality check that was probably a long time coming.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”
-Maya Angelou

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And even as I miss my SF life and create a new and exciting Seattle one, I’m mostly aware of the privilege I have in getting to choose these things. Choose where to live and where to grocery shop and where to go to school. I think about how many people don’t have choices, or who are told they don’t have choices, and it fires me up. While I’m trying to figure out where to put all my shit, so many people are figuring out how to live in a world where home isn’t safe for a variety of reasons. It makes me want to work hard to create a world where everyone’s biggest concern is how to not lose their minds in Ikea. Where people don’t have to worry about where their food comes from, or whether that copy is an ally or an enemy, or whether they have access to healthcare, or whether they can walk down the street safely, or a whole host of other threats to fundamental needs. I want to build a community where we can tackle those questions together.

Links Worth Sharing: Racism in Healthcare, Population Growth & Economics, and The Reality Behind Fair Trade

To End Population Growth, Spread the Wealth via Grist

“‘If you want parents to make the choice to reduce their number of offspring, there’s no better way than making sure those offspring survive,’ he said. ‘There’s no example of decline in fertility that has not been preceded by a decline in child mortality that I know of.'”

Fair Trade: Using Poverty to Sell…More via Casual Kitchen

“‘…for each dollar paid by an American consumer for a fair-trade product, only three cents more are transferred to the country it came from than for the unlabeled alternative.'”

12 Ways to Be a White Ally To Black People via The Root

“So let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism, because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. White people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color.”

How Racism Creeps into Medicine via The Atlantic 

“Today, doctors examine our lungs using spirometers that are “race corrected.” Normal values for lung health are reduced for patients that doctors identify as black. Not only might this practice mask economic or environmental explanations for lower lung capacity, but the logic of innate, racial difference is built into things like disability estimates, pre-employment physicals, and clinical diagnoses that rely on the spirometer. Race has become a biologically distinct, scientifically valid category despite the unnatural and social process of its creation.”

Goodbye SF, Hello Seattle!

So we’re officially Seattlites! We had a big, glitter-filled send-off in San Francisco, complete with cupcakes and champagne and most of our awesome friends from the Bay Area. It was bittersweet, and I wish I could bring them all with me on this adventure, but Alex and I finished the weekend feeling so loved and cared for. And thanks to technology, and planes, we’ll be staying in touch with folks and having visits often! We also managed to squeeze in a good-bye beach trip, a run to the Ferry Building, and coffee and toast at The Mill – all SF essentials for us. 

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On Sunday we packed up the cats and the car and hit the road. We drove to Ashland on Sunday night and on to Seattle on Monday. Many people have asked how the cats did. Sunday’s drive was a little rough; cats unfortunately can’t communicate the way people can, at least verbally. We certainly understood what happened when Runty started flinging pee at us through the front of her carrier. We cleaned her up as best we could in a questionably-clean gas station bathroom and got on our way. They did fine at the hotel, and Monday’s drive went smoothly without any accidents and minimal meowing.

We also ate some great food on the road. In Ashland, we had breakfast at NW Raw; it’s pricey for the portion size, but it was healthy, tasty, and filling. In Portland, we had lunch at Blossoming Lotus. Well, we got food at Blossoming Lotus and ate in the car because it was super hot and I did not want to leave the cats alone. We had a vegan Brie and Fig sandwich and a vegan BBQ bowl and both of them were amazing. I definitely want to try and recreate the sandwich at home.

And then we were in Seattle! We ate pizza on the floor of our new apartment, with my college roommate who live close by! – and promptly passed out onto our air mattress. We’ve been exploring our neighborhood, checking out restaurants, coffee shops, running routes, gyms, and grocery stores and just giving ourselves a little time to settle. I start school in a few weeks, so I’m looking forward to having some time to get our stuff organized and put away before classes begin…it just has to get here first. 

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Our stuff is due to arrive Monday, so we’ve been living out of a few boxes and with limited kitchen supplies – it’s basically Burning Man without the dust and wind. I’m really excited to have all of our cooking tools back and get everything cleaned and organized! I’ll feel a lot more settled.

In addition to the obvious logistical issues at hand that come with moving, there are a lot of feelings. I mean, I have a lot of feelings on a normal day and if you toss moving into the mix, it’s like a feelings explosion. But my mantra for this transition period is, “the only way out is through.” Pretending my feelings aren’t there isn’t going to work. Trying to force them away isn’t going to work. But acknowledging them, embracing them, and then moving on from them probably will work so that’s the approach I’m taking.

I also plan to be here more, despite the fact that I’ll be busier with school. I’ve actually found that the busier I am, the more productive I am. A few years ago, I was blogging, creating new recipes, and marathon training WHILE working full time and commuting 2 hours a day. This summer, I was mostly packing and hanging out with family and friends, and I managed to write a paltry amount. Some of the things I plan to write about…

  • Transitioning to a new city
  • Cooking adventures in a new kitchen environment (I’m going from a full size gas range to a half size electric one!)
  • Seattle outdoor adventures (I’m eager to hike, stand up paddle board, kayak, cross country ski, snowshoe, rock climb, and all the other awesome things out there!)
  • Graduate school learnings
  • Building an at home yoga practice (From a financial and scheduling perspective, I don’t think regular studio classes are in the cards for me, but I’d love to explore a dedicated at home practice)
  • Explorations about the overlap of food and social justice

I’m feeling energized and motivated around writing in a way that I haven’t in a long time. In addition to “the only way out is through” I’ve also learned that “things get done when you do them.” Things don’t get done when you think about doing them. Or plan to do them. Or talk about doing them. As satisfying as all those things are, things actually get done by doing. And sometimes that’s scary because who knows how it will turn out when you actually start doing? There’s little risk of failure in talking about something; there’s a much larger one in actually doing. But one of my new mottos is “fail upwards!” so I better be pushing myself pretty hard. 

Hills and Humility

Alex and I have a 10K coming up in September. Given that we’re moving to a new state between now and then, we’re not taking training too seriously. We picked the 10K distance instead of the half marathon for this very reason – we’re realistic about how much we’re willing to do when we have a lot of stress on our plates. 

With limited time in mind, I’ve decided that incorporating hill workouts into our routine will give us the most bang for our buck. We did our first one this week, and what a dose of humility! Five hill repeats totally kicked my butt, even with significant rest time between them.

We did five repeats of a 0.16 mile hill, with a walk down for recovery. The steepness ranges from 3% to 25%, with the majority of it falling between 11% and 15%. It’s a steep hill. And running up it fast (“fast”) made my lungs feel like they were going to explode. But they didn’t, and here I am to tell the tale. 

In addition to pushing through the physical challenge, I could feel the mental resistance creep up.

“This is too hard.”

“You’re never going to be better at this.”

“What’s the point?” 

Those voices were louder than I’d like them to be. And at the top of the fourth repeat, I told Alex I was done. But as we walked back to the bottom I thought, “I have one more in me and I can do this.” So one more we did. It was hard. The mental critic didn’t exactly get quieter. 

But then I reminded myself that I haven’t done that kind of workout before. And that I’m not going to get better at it by quitting. So next week, we’ll hit the hills again. And the week after that. And hopefully continue the trend when we move to Seattle. At some point, I’ll be able to go faster or further or not feel as much like I’m going to collapse afterwards. When that happens, I’ll push a little harder to find the next edge because the only way to quiet those voices is to keep at something. Eventually, I’ll be the one kicking the hill’s butt! 

Reflecting on my 27th Birthday

I turned 27 this week and as much as I’d like to be a cool cat that doesn’t care about birthdays, I really care about them! And like to celebrate them! 

Over the weekend, I celebrated with (most of) my very best friends where we did a chocolate tasting with Dandelion Chocolate. I recommend a visit if you are ever in the area! We learned about Dandelion a few years ago when we went to a beer and chocolate pairing event; they were making chocolate in a garage at the time! When they first opened their current storefront, I remember them selling out within the hour. It’s been really great to watch them grow as a business and it was a particularly delicious way to celebrate my birthday. 

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Despite all of us being huge chocolate fans, it was tough to finish the dessert PLUS the drink PLUS the chocolate from the tasting. But don’t worry, I packed it up and took it home for after dinner. 

On my actual birthday, I hung out with a friend all day and we worked on vision/inspiration/intention boards. I’m about to go through/am going through a big transition away from my comfort zone into a new city, very different living space, and graduate school. I’d like to go through the transition with intention and a vision, because it’s easy for me to get swept up in changes without really paying attention to how/who I want to be in that space. So I created four boards focusing on self-care, fitness/health, career, and Seattle/relationships. I am going to put them in my meditation space as a reminder for moments that feel overwhelming. 

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All that visioning made me work up an appetite, so Alex and I visited The Mill for pizza. We’re regulars there for toast and coffee in the mornings, and really wanted to check out the pizza before we moved to Seattle so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. The crust was probably the best I’ve ever had – crispy, chewy, cornmeal-y, and so freaking delicious. It was topped with summer squash and baby kale. Then we checked out the view at the top of Twin Peaks and of course, finished with ice cream. We went to Holy Gelato, which had 12 non-dairy flavors! Although I enjoy regular ice cream with some frequency, I’m always intrigued by non-dairy versions and these did not disappoint. 

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It was the perfect birthday weekend – good friends, good food, and good reflection and introspection. And now, it’s back to packing! Less than three weeks left!  

Summer Reading List

Summer is for lazy weekend mornings in bed with good coffee. Or afternoons in the park with a picnic. Or poolside with a cocktail. Wherever you are, you should have a good book with you. Here’s what I’ve been reading and loving lately:

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

This book explores the paths we see for ourselves when we’re young, and how the reality that unfolds doesn’t always match up. There’s also a fascinating exploration of the impact of economic class on friendships.

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This is Where I Leave You by Johnathan Trooper

This book was fun and real and moving, which isn’t always an easy combination to achieve. The author’s portrayal of family dynamics was hilariously spot on.

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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This book surprised me, which I always enjoy. I guess I didn’t read the description because I had no idea what it was about and it turns out it was about some pretty crazy stuff! I’m not going to ruin it for you in case you also want to be surprised, but it’s worth a read!

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Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

This book broke me open. I’m sad I got it from the library because I want to read it again and again and again. I recently had a moment with a stranger where she said, “I love Cheryl Strayed.” And I said, “She’s the best.” There was a pause and then the stranger said, “Yup, she really is. There’s no other way to describe her.”

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Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

This book has a surreal quality that I really enjoyed, particularly as it tackles big subjects like racial identity, family dynamics, and what it means to be honest.

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What are you reading this summer? 

3 Breaths

We are moving at the end of this month. Three weeks and change, to be exact. That’s pretty soon. I’ve started packing. I’ve started crying and packing, at the same time actually. I’m a pretty good multitasker. I learned how to cry and run during the Nike Women’s Marathon and now I know how to cry and pack. I’m really getting a resume boost from my emotions here. 

During this month of transition, it seemed fitting that my yoga teacher would issue a challenge to do one yoga pose a day for the entire month of August. Just one pose. For three breaths. She said it could be used as a launching pad for a home practice. 

I’m going to be developing my home practice considerably in Seattle; both my schedule and finances will likely not allow for classes multiple times per week. One pose a day for three breaths also seems like a good touchstone in this month that will likely have me revving high with excitement and nerves and stress (packing for an out of state move seems infinitely more daunting.) 

Then the question is, which pose? I felt moved to choose forward bend, uttanasana. And handily enough, it’s apparently indicated for anxiety and sinusitis, which has been rearing its ugly head lately. It’s not commonly one of my favorite poses, but it feels right so I’m going with it. 

I’m also looking for any moving tips – both practical and emotional – so if you have them, please feel free to leave them in the comments!