“I’m vulnerable yet safe, intelligent yet always learning, sensual yet happily awkward.

This is a quote from one year ago today, on a very different journey through rolling countryside and contemplating a life so very different than the one I lead. I am thankful, I am thankful, I am thankful. Repeat it again. Thankful. For what? For that path closing and new paths opening up over the past year, showing me more than I could ever imagine.

As a young woman I asked my family to go around the table at Thanksgiving and say what they were thankful for. Someone would invariably laugh at the idea, but the stubborn girl in me insisted, and was always intrigued at the answers, and how emotional I became as I tried to voice what my life meant to me, what I treasured, what inspired me.

So what am I thankful this November day?

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”Albert Schweitzer First and foremost I am thankful for everything, good and bad, that has led me to where I am today. By no means am I fully satisfied, but by all means I am looking at peace square in the eye. Angst interrupts and challenges, but I see the calm all around me. The choice is to let it in, open the heart to let life in, not internalize so much, get inspiration from everything and everyone around me. Yes, even those sons of bitches cutting too close when I’m blissin’ out on my bike or breathing hard going up a gnarly hill. It tells you how everyone is in their own world, and hopefully opens you to the idea that there is so much more to be understood.

And my life would not be the same without the close friends who have encircled me this past year more than my regular family ever has. Pushed me to be more, do more, live more. Given me love unconditionally, letting me fall apart and helping me put the pieces back together, teaching me that I’m not weak for exposing my pain every once in a while, that I’m okay ‘just as I am’ and worthy of everything this world has to offer. Finding new ways to enjoy each others company, whether it be chilling in the backyard sharing gardening tips, escaping to Rockaway, taking the dogs out to play, playing the SATC girls at a fashion show, sitting outside in the sunshine eating Cuban food, sharing soul food on Solstice with my fantastic variety of friends, biking with me out to St Johns for coffee and conversation under the bridge, urban hikes along the refuge, a multitude of breakfasts, and supporting me at my first art exhibit. These women constantly inspire me to be more of who I am with their ferocity and beauty and complexity.

And there is the loveliness of home in all its meanings. The castle I created three and a half years ago. The dog who reigns over it with all her sweetness and silliness. The areas surrounding it that have been my place to transform. Taking down the tradition and replacing it with me, always a work in progress. Picket fence say bye bye, blueberries and strawberries and mint and thyme and valerian and sage and ferns and hens & chicks and more roses, all say hello…and more bark than I’ll ever be comfortable with. Seeing the two trees go away and open up a new world in the back where sunlight will nurture a new, bigger garden not limited by galvanized steel and where I have a blank slate to create. Becoming more patient, becoming stronger, becoming more appreciative (and protective of) simplicity. Expand the perimeter and I see my neighborhood slowly beginning to blossom. Where once were abandoned buildings, now I walk around the corner to see them lovingly restored into a favorite restaurant, garden nursery, new yoga studio, and soon, a much needed coffeehouse. I know my neighbors, and love how the years have allowed me to see their own stories unfold, share my world with them, and feel the protective warmth of being surrounded by good people as unique as the day is long. And pull back even further and I see my hometown that I now, at thirty-five, treasure more than I ever could have imagined. Fiercely protective always, I breathe the air of the Northwest and bring it with me wherever I go. I adore the open road, exploring the corners of everywhere, and being able to come home to my little cozy slice of life makes few things impossible.

Self. Friends. Home. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. While I might have drawn things differently, I can’t say I regret, because I know that, as a friend told me Sunday, something amazing is about to happen.

Love to you all on this holiday – may it be about togetherness rather than turkey, conversation rather than cranberries, peace rather than pumpkin pie. Tell people how they have impacted you, how you value them, not just this holiday but whenever you can. Think about how you feel when someone gives you their love, their time, their friendship. Pay it forward.


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