winter reflections

this has been a weird winter.

i stayed here in new hampshire, that's weird. i moved out of my parent's house, that's weird (and awesome). i got sick, a lot, that's super weird. it was painfully cold at points, that's not weird, just terrible. i left my scouty girl at my parent's house where she is happiest, that's weird and rips my heart out. 

it feels like a lot happened, and also nothing happened. i fell into a funk thinking about how stationary i felt. traveling in the winter was my thing, but this year i didn't go anywhere. i've had a hard time coming to terms with that, especially because everyone i seem to encounter asks "so where are you off to this winter?!"

i took a moment the other day to scroll through my photos and started to realize all the things i was able to do this winter. a lot did happen. good and bad and all that's in between.

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i started out the off-season with a photography show at the local gallery in town. 17 photographers (myself included) documented our region for an entire year, resulting in thousands of photos which were narrowed down to about 100 for the final show. quite a few photos of my family made it into the show, and i was overwhelmed at how many of them showed up to the opening. kaufholds always come through when you need them.

i also got to be a bridesmaid and wear a fancy dress in my friend beth's wedding! beth and i have been friends since high school, and it was so special to share that weekend with her and all the people that love her most. i drank about as much as i cried. love makes me emotional, give me a break!

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craft fairs! made out pretty well at the living local fair this year. i work best with a deadline, and this fair is always a great incentive to keep creating.

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colby-sawyer reunion! haven't had this whole group together in one place since graduation, which is now four years ago. *cries* these ladies are all wonderful, and i'm so glad we've kept in touch and continue to make time for each other. can't wait to take another photo like this every few years.

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christmas at home felt like the best present i could have asked for. being away last year wasn't something i wanted to repeat. the sky was incredible, the food was delicious, and the ladies in my family sure do love to puzzle.

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i moved! into an adorable old farmhouse! it's so exciting to have my own space, and have that space still be close by to family. we're slowly filling the house with plants and art and lights, and more plants.

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my sweet grandma peg passed away this winter. she passed peacefully at home, with family around, and 95 incredible years under her belt. it's hard to feel anything but grateful for all the time i got with her. i inherited a lot of her scarves and sweaters (like the one in this picture), and every time i wear one it's like a big hug from peg, perfume and all.

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i adopted a kitten! little miss penny lane is the sweetest snuggle bug, who sleeps about 85% of everyday. the rest of the time she's your typical wild kitten. it's adorable. i'm obsessed.

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penny seems to like her new home too, plants are the perfect kitten toys! it's a daily struggle. good thing she's cute.

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here's the part i didn't share with many people, and i really questioned whether or not i ever would. this has been an incredible year of women sharing their stories, and screw it, i'm feeling inspired.

i had surgery! it was a decision that took years to make, and one that i kept mostly to myself. i never felt like it was a secret, but it's a personal surgery, and not the type of thing you go posting all over facebook. (though here i go now..). my chest is now three whole pounds lighter (insane), and i've never felt more comfortable in my own body. it's like my inside me and my outside me are finally matching up. honestly, i'm just so proud i actually did it! and if you're reading this and have ever considered a similar surgery, please reach out, i'd be happy to help walk you through it. i was lucky enough to have an incredible friend who helped me every step of the way. her advice and honesty made this entire process infinitely easier, (thanks girl, you know who you are).  

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frequent trips to visit scouty have made that transition much easier, and of course penny has to meet her big sister! they get along so well, and watching them play around the house makes my cat lady heart explode. 

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house sitting and dog sitting, that seems to be how i spent the majority of the winter. who knew i had so many dog friends?! who am i?! honestly i'm so thankful i got to spend my time this way, and financially it was enough to float me into next season. not having to worry about taking time off for my surgery/recovery was amazing. maybe dogs aren't that bad, maybeeeee.

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but in reality, most days have looked like this. and i'm ok with that.

it's ok to be happy right where you are.

 

UPDATE:
In case you've missed it on the news, there has been terrible flooding on Kauai over the last week. The North Shore (which is where I've stayed the last three winters) is suffering from insane flood/landslide/mudslide damage. These pictures have been filling my social media, and it hurts my heart to see such a magical place struggling. Thankfully my friends on Kauai are all safe, but their local communities desperately need help. I've included two links below these photos if you are interested in helping out. Thank you.

Here are two ways you can help out directly:

Malama Kaua'i - Flood Relief

Hanalei-Haena Flooding Fund

11.26.17

getting to know a piece of land across all four seasons is so damn rewarding. 

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7.14.17

it's easy to miss changes when they happen a little bit every day. take a moment to stop and smell those roses (or elderberries). 

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5.21.17

have you ever not done something your whole life because you were so worried people would think it looked stupid? well it only took me 25 years to decide that's a silly reason. cheers to doing what i want with my body, because guess what? it's mine.

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2017

new year, same me. 

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12.23.16

Today I went snorkeling at a beach on Oahu. The fish, the coral, the sun, the water, all perfect. Do you ever have those moments when you need to pinch yourself? Yeah, it was one of those moments.

And then, just a moment later it all flipped upside down.

I watched a man being rushed to shore on a surf board and quickly transferred to one of those orange boards on the sand. The lifeguards swarmed and cleared a space around him. They strapped him down and quickly began CPR, taking turns, again, and again, and again....and again.

They did this for nearly 45 minutes.


I stood in the water and watched with horrified fascination, like a car crash you can't look away from. I didn't want to watch, but I also couldn't make myself keep swimming. I stood there shivering in the hot sun.


I cried for the man. I cried for his family. I cried for the lifeguards who maintained their strong faces as they tried and tried. I cried for the EMTs who eventually made the decision to stop trying. I cried as they loaded him into the ambulance. And I cried as the people dispersed, hiding any trace of what just happened on the beach.


I sat on that beach all afternoon. I couldn't go in the water, and yet I couldn't make myself leave. Do you ever feel paralyzed by your emotions? I do. I always need time to process things, analyze and over analyze. I think that's why I'm so quiet. I'm too busy thinking.


So what's the take away?


Life is so god damn fragile.

That's all I can come up with.

Bad things happen to good people, at any time of the year. You can plan and schedule and then life happens and none of it matters.


Please go hug your people extra tight for me today, ok? Holidays or not, spread some love.

solo travel

When people learn that I do most of my traveling alone, I’m always met with the same questions. Aren’t you scared? Don’t you get lonely?

The answer to both is absolutely yes, sometimes, but never enough to stop me. Traveling alone is such a unique type of experience, and one that I feel has helped me become a much more confident person. Confident to be outgoing, but also confident in my quietness. This article really hit the nail on the head.

Love this part:

“Being shy also makes me passive. Unable to stand up for myself or say what I want, I have a tendency to go along with a group. I’ll say yes, or “I don’t mind”, or “you choose” – even when I really do have a preference. Because of that, I’ve gone on some adventures that I never otherwise would have. Saying yes to things I wanted to say no to has led me to discover some amazing things, meet great people, or find myself in the kind of crazy situation that leads to a great story.

I used to think being passive was a bad thing. But it’s really not. It’s just a different way to travel, and one that comes with real freedom in a way. So don’t ever wish you were less shy or less passive. Own your shyness and be proud of who you are. It might take you places you’d never have made it to otherwise!”

Being shy isn’t something you need to change, it’s a special skill that you were gifted with. It makes us different and that’s a good thing!

Plus, I love the idea of using a patronus! Why hadn’t I ever thought of that! 

 

Thanks for the wonderful read Emily!

Click the image above or right here to read her wonderful article.

11.2.16

i overheard a conversation the other day, and i can’t stop thinking about it. maybe if i write it down i can make some sense of it.

i had gone into a fitting room with an armload of things, hoping to find a few last minute scores before i set off on my winter adventures. nothing was fitting right and i was feeling discouraged. my tan i worked at all summer long seemed to have vanished overnight, and the one dress i did like wasn't on clearance. i had struck out. oh well.

as i was gathering my things i heard a teenage sounding girl latch the door next to me and call out "i'll just be a sec, dad!" i put my boots on and sat down to tie them up, regretting the decision to wear shoes that needed lacing. i can hear the sighs from the girl next to me as she fiddles with hangers. her dad calls out, "any luck?"

she responds, "no, nothing fits! ugh! my body is terrible."

my body is terrible.

that's really what she said.

her dad said nothing.
i said nothing.

why didn't either of us say anything?!
that's really what's eating me up about this.

why didn't i call through the wall between us,

"your body is not terrible, not even a little bit. it's the cookie cutter department store clothing that's terrible. it's the media infecting young girls (and boys) that's terrible. it's labels like 'one size fits all,' or my personal favorite, 'one size fits most' that are terrible. it's XL women's clothes being S men's clothes. it's being a size 10 in one store and a size 18 in another. it's the plus size models that are hardly plus sized. it's movies and music and a whole culture focused on skinny. it's our self worth being so wrapped up in how well clothes fit us that is terrible. but not your body. your body is yours and it’s perfect for you."
 

i didn’t say any of that.

and i hate that she probably went home that day and didn’t hear anything to change her mind.

 

but i do get it. i so get it.

i can't speak for anyone but myself, and my own teenage brain probably thought the same things. in middle school and high school i was consumed by insecurities. i always felt like i was the biggest girl amongst my friends, my class, my team. it didn't matter the group, i always compared myself. gosh, i look back at photos now and realize how horribly skewed my thoughts were. stacy, you were just tall. why did you waste so much time thinking you were fat?

it wasn't until college that i began to realize how much better i felt when i stopped obsessing over my body. i stopped caring about the clothes i wore and just put on whatever felt comfortable. yeah, so what none of it matches and i may have slept in it last night, i feel like myself. and you know what? i like myself.

i've always hated those lofty blanket statements like "love yourself" or "love the skin you're in." everyone's relationship with their own body is completely unique, and who am i to tell you how you should feel or how you should act? my motto would be something more along the lines of "every day, try to make your body your own." just try. it's ok if you can't. and every day. because every day is different. some days i feel like a complete stranger in my body, and other days i feel so perfectly fused with it that a smile feels the most comfortable.

it still makes me sad that that girl in the fitting room felt so poorly about herself. i hope she had better luck elsewhere and found something that made her feel confident. i hope her dad told her she looked beautiful no matter what she wore.

i hope i say something next time.

but mostly, i hope there isn't a next time.

 

Andy Goldsworthy

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Hanging hole. Holbeck, Leeds. May 1986. 

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my own slice of magic, forever and always.