Tuesday, November 28, 2017

end one way

I looked up, a new habit that I am working on. Through the paned glass, orange and crimson leaves held fast to their branches, carried by the wind without being carried away, at least not quite yet. The sky was bright and blue outside and I was cozy inside, nested away within the warmth of the Fox in the Snow cafe. Content with the moment, and with myself for looking up from the article I was reading, I noticed it - an actual sign. End One Way. I laughed out loud, delighted by the freedom in those words. There is more than one way ahead of me.

How do we let go of the path that we once imagined? There are expectations that we will reach our originally-intended destination, despite (or even because of) the detours and road blocks we encounter along the way. I had an old GPS that would announce “recalculating” whenever I made a turn too soon or missed my exit. The assumption was that I still wanted to get to wherever I had decided upon when I first left home. 

I might be ready for a new way.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

steadfast: a look back at 2016

There are certain things in life that forgive good intentions, when tomorrow becomes someday and running shoes aren't tied and words remain tucked away, unwritten. The inertia of inaction becomes more arduous than the task itself until I simply start, again. The pace is slower than before, in writing and running, and yet the words come and the miles pass, always ready to forgive, to welcome me back.

In 2016, I kept my head down, seeking respite from the "what's next?"-ness of my life. I focused on morning coffee and to-do lists, a year of treading water. I'd like to think that I've simply been "letting my land lie fallow," an idea inspired by an episode of Rob Bell's podcast. My word for 2016 was steady / steadfast, inspired by 1 Corinthians 15:58: "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that in the LORD your labor is not in vain." There is a sacredness in the stillness, but looking back, I may have held back more out of fear than contentedness. I'm ready to be free - to cultivate this moment instead of pining for what might be.

Forever - is composed of Nows -
'Tis not a different time -
Except for Infiniteness -
And Latitude of Home.
Emily Dickinson

Even in this year of lying fallow, there has been life, shared. Love, celebrated.

It all started with a run on January 1, on a new trail in a city that didn't quite feel like home yet.

In March, I traveled to Lewisburg to celebrate my sister's acceptance into the Catholic faith.

I hosted my sister's bridal shower in April, a cozy gathering with friends and family, all nestled together around one large table.

In May, I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I was unprepared for the hills, having trained in Ohio, but gritted my teeth and finished, anyways. Spotting my mama at the finish line might be my favorite part of race day. I also traveled to Toronto and New Orleans for conferences in May, and caught up with an old friend over beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde.

At the end of June, my mama and I spent a few days lakeside. We rented a golf cart and drove around Kelly's Island, and I felt like a kid again, unencumbered and carefree as the wind whipped our hair and we laughed and laughed.

My sister's bachelorette was in July, a weekend in Cleveland, complete with outdoor yoga, paddle boarding, painting, and a fancy dinner.

In September, my sister and I ran The Great Race together. Sole sisters reunited!

On October 8, my sister got married. Every detail was exquisite. There was a completeness to the day, even without our dad there, knowing his spirit was with us. We cried and smiled and danced, fully aware that those moments would become some of our most precious memories.

I voted in November, full of hope and a deep sense of awe and wonder - that I would be a part of history, electing our first female president. The story unfolded in a way I never imagined possible and yet now, I believe the story is still unfolding. How we respond is simply the next chapter. What my role will be is yet to be written.

Our Christmas Eve was cozy, complete with a trip downtown for cheese and biscotti and coffee. The Steelers' victory on Christmas Day? Our own Christmas miracle.

Peppered between these milestones were moments: when my family visited me in Columbus and we spent our mornings at the Fox in the Snow cafe. Steelers games with my uncle. I read books, such good books, and finally hung art in my apartment.

Here's to being free in 2017, to explore and grow and find my voice.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

that moment

Maybe it's because my mama read Goodnight, Moon to me so often as a child, but I love that moment when I tuck my apartment into bed. There are no more expectations - whatever dishes remain in the sink will become tomorrow's business.

Hush, candle - let your wick rest. The day is done.

This moment is gentle, and not just because I'm burrowing under my quilt. Quiet arrives and I gratefully welcome her home.

It's in this moment that there is space to read. I need not be waiting in line or avoiding the gym in order to justify turning a few pages. There is no multi-tasking.

How I love this moment.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

a lesson from Project Runway

I'm still unpacking boxes. Actually, I was worrying whether it will be possible for me to unpack these boxes. I'm tired after work, and I still don't have much furniture. It's hard to organize office supplies without a desk in which to store them. I had spent a good portion of tonight considering all that needed to be accomplished. The anticipation created a lake of molasses between me and action.

And then my sister texted and asked for a progress update.

I hadn't made any progress.

I got up and emptied a box, and then another. (The thought of disappointing my sister infuriated me.)The progress isn't noticeable and the books I did put away aren't organized chromatically on the shelves. But I have to trust that it mattered -- that I'll start someplace new tomorrow because of what I finished tonight.

What is possible may not be the most appropriate metric to gauge progress. There is a kind of implicit accounting that takes place when we invest in the possible but our returns fall short. I become wary, reluctant to try again.

I may have too many books (clarification: too many books for my bookcases at the moment) but putting one away now doesn't have to mean one less spot for another book later. I must trust that I can "make it work" - - thanks, Tim Gunn.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Time out

Growing up, I shared a cul-de-sac with four families' worth of kids, our own version of The Little Rascals. We played fiercely. Our competitive games were fueled by a na├»ve sense of idealism, in which every soccer goal counted and you risked your own capture to "release" your teammates from the big oak tree, where they were guarded by someone from the other team. We followed the rules, often brokered amongst ourselves minutes before starting. More than a handful of us grew up to be doctors and lawyers, but our fastidious adherence to the rules ran deeper than our natural predilections.

The rules made sure we stayed in bounds, forcing us to find creative ways to run / pass / tag / hide, depending on the game. And the rules granted us permission to yell time out. We didn't abuse that privilege, implicitly recognizing that - like in the "boy who cried wolf" fable - it was up to us to preserve the sanctity of those magic words.

Whatever happened to time out in this place called adulthood? Perhaps it was less the actual pause and more the possibility - a chance to say, "hold on" and "let's re-group" - that allowed us to invest so fully in the game as children.

I know that calling time out won't unpack the boxes at home or wash the dishes in the sink; time out was never allowed as an avoidance strategy, even back in the cul-de-sac. And yet I can't seem to figure out the grown-up version of this childhood tool, a way to say "we need to figure this out together" with dogged optimism.

I say we bring it back.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

a Sunday night whisper for the week

Embrace the unexpected
and cherish imperfections.
The way we adapt
is a testament of character.
Surrender to big changes
and take small steps.
Try a little harder
with grace and grit.
Live to be whole, not perfect. -Oprah

Saturday, October 3, 2015

sisters in the city

When I lived in Philadelphia, "sisters in the city" meant a day trip to NYC - Central Park, Laduree, The New York Public Library. We are expert tourists, having perfected the art during our times abroad when we armed ourselves with a guidebook and camera, not trusting ourselves to remember without capturing the memory.

Sometimes, though, it's the stories - the candid recollections of unexpected moments that caught us by surprise, becoming more valuable in their  repeated retelling - that hold more truth.
I want to capture them as much as those recommended in guide books.
- - - -
The post-Orange Theory coffee at the North Market, when my Sister - knowing that I'm braver with her by my side - helped me create a new Saturday morning routine.
Picking out wedding fonts on Pinterest after unpacking some boxes in my apartment. Laughing until our sides hurt (or is that the post-workout burn?) while watching Matt Ballassai's Whine about it.
Here's to capturing the essence of this weekend's edition of "sisters in the city" - Columbus edition.
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