Being a human is weird. It’s fascinating, heartbreaking, and meaningless all at the same time. But mostly – it’s weird.
Rereading my 2020 reflection, I get the sense of peace and fragility. Knowing that so much was unknown, and I was just trying to see the light in it all. This year, with COVID vaccines distributed early on, it made for a much more “manageable” year. Nothing will ever be the same as before , and choosing the ways we could find joy in a life of seclusion took patience, flexibility, and a whole lot of change.
Resilience and Release = Empowerment. Creation. Grace.
Going into 2021, I knew I would face some major emotional challenges so I chose the words Resilience and Release for me. Luckily for me, the amount of effort put in this year, rewarded me with Empowerment, Creation, and Grace. For me, 2021 was all about power. The kind that comes from yourself, not from taking away from others. Even choosing that word makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m learning to acknowledge where I have made myself small, and learning to embrace in places I’ve never been. And stepping into my own power has been the highlight of the year.
See Yourself the Way Others See You
At the end of 2020, I scheduled a boudoir shoot with Chantel. There is a whole long story behind how and why, but the gist is, I had always wanted one and I wanted to do something that would celebrate my body. I don’t need a significant other as an excuse to get dolled up and feel glamorous for the day. I wanted to do this for ME. Little did I know, that was the least of what I would get out of it all. It would be the catalyst that would propel me the rest of the year.
Vintage pin-up, I can do that. Sexy, HAWT AF, and Bangin’? Questionable in my own eyes. But that’s the thing, Chantel has this magical gift of being able to show you how other people see you. I had no idea what she was cookin’ up behind the camera, but I trusted her vision. While the day of the shoot had me walkin’ away feeling like a movie-star, it wasn’t until my big reveal that everything came together for me. Seeing my photos on the big screen, I felt like my jaw could not hit the floor any lower. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. As a very self critical person, I couldn’t find a single thing to criticize my body for. Every photo was a piece of art. Wait, does that mean I’m a piece of art? I could actually see someone who didn’t even know me purchasing these photos. In that moment, I realized, not only am I worthy to love myself to treat myself, but I am worthy of being valued and deserving of great love.
I never knew that I needed to see myself in this way. I never knew that it would make me feel so brave, acknowledged, and powerful. And I realized, boudoir is not about looking sexy in photos. For me it was about giving yourself permission to invest in yourself, giving yourself as much love as you give yourself, celebrating how far I’ve come in this crazy life, and how grateful I am for for my health and my body at every size. I could finally see myself the way others saw me. And I am not letting the judgement of others get in the way of my expression of joy.
It took everything in me to push past all the reasons of why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do this for myself (no money, no one to share photos with, at my heaviest weight ever, etc), but my people knew even before I did, that I was about to release something special. Anyone else here find it easier to support others in your life, but it always seem so much harder to do it for yourself?
I hadn’t planned on sharing any of these photos with anyone originally, but when Chantel asks if you want to be a Blush Ambassador, you say: “FUCK YES”. I mean, never in a million years could I see myself being a boudoir ambassador, but it’s in these moments when we are challenged to show up with courage that I try my best to step in. It wasn’t so much about being nervous there would be naked pictures of me everywhere, it was more about “Would I be able to represent Chantel’s brand well? What could I offer to a group of women when it came to empowerment and boudoir?” I barely even know how to put on eyeliner, let alone anything else glam and I hardly considered myself someone that could be as badass as the ones before me. So many thoughts of doubt come to mind. Everything you’ve ever been told or learned in life that tells you you’re not good enough to do what you want.
I tried my best. Shared when things were hard, shared when things were good. I met so many women online sharing their bravest stories and sassiest sides in a private online group. I even took a step further and shared in another public women’s group. One post reached over 1,000 people and hundreds of women responded with their inspiring comments and shares. I’ve had so many women I don’t even know that well reach out asking me about my shoot and or have scheduled their own and I am so proud of all of them. I admire their strength and willingness to invest in themselves.
I never knew becoming a boudoir ambassador would teach me how important my impact can be on people, but when you share your vulnerability, your essence will radiate and you will change your community.
The Seattle Rollerskate Community is the Best Community
At the end of 2020, I told myself that all I wanted to do was to be able to jam out on my roller-skates by the end of the year. And I wouldn’t say I can quite jam out yet…but I did manage to get good enough to put on a cute outfit and not feel like I’m going to smash my face on the concrete. 😊 And it’s all about having fun anyway and I look forward to progressing even more. So enjoy this awkward progress video that doesn’t quite capture it all, but was an attempt to document my progress.
The best thing about roller skating is the community of skaters in Seattle. At the beginning of this year, I didn’t realize how much I craved meeting new people until I went to my first Roll Around Seatown meet up at Judkins Park. I’d been following the skate group for a while now, and all I wanted to do was get outside and dance skate with everyone! I told myself I should probably learn how to actually stop before I show up to a bumpin’ social skate, but after my first boudoir shoot, I was feelin’ like I could take it all on! So you do it!
I met so many amazing members of the skate community, and amazingly enough, I even got to have my own outdoor birthday skate party complete with a roller skating DJ! It was such an amazing event I never knew was possible, and I am so grateful to everyone especially DJ Waylon for making it all happen! I didn’t advance as far as I hoped I would be, and that’s ok. So many opportunities came up for me this year, and I wouldn’t trade any of them for more skate time.
First Mommy/Daughter Trip
With vaccines on the way early in the year, I was anxious to get out and travel. However, planning anything international seemed too risky and unpredictable, and I was focused on making sure I got some quality time in with the important people.
Alaska seemed like a pretty safe bet as far as being able to enjoy most things outside, ease of flights from Seattle, and the fact I would have a great home base in Haines with Travis. Since this would be a relatively easy trip, and the fact that Travis adores my mom so much, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have a first mommy/daughter trip.
Traveling with my mom was a great adventure that I didn’t knew I needed. It was so fun to share something that would be special to me with her. It was a great way to bring her into “my world” and for me to practice patience and being more accommodating. Memories I know I will keep forever in my heart.
Two weeks in the kitchen with one of my favorite people and foraging the woods of Alaska, was perfect. We even saw some bears (from a distance!) and my mom got to drive a boat (THAT was hilarious).
Bonding with my mom was great, but my favorite part was getting to get a taste of the Inside Passage.
Well before I even set foot on a sailboat in my life, I knew I always wanted to travel by boat. Back in college I learned about the ferry that goes between Bellingham and Alaska that you could camp out on. 14 years later, it only took a pandemic to get me to make it happen. Seeing video and hearing stories, doesn’t do it justice. The whole experience is so spectacular, but the BC islands are something incredibly magical. Endless exploration. While I longed to be on a boat without an engine with just the wind and the water exploring all of the inlets and mountains as far as I could see…I stayed incredibly grateful for the beauty I got to fall asleep and wake up to over 3 days. A window into this beautiful part of the world.
I could spend the rest of my life exploring the Inside Passage via a sailboat. Hopefully in the future, someday I will.
In March I was back on Elusive for an STYC race (benefitting The Center for Wooden Boats), overwhelmed with gratitude with how my sailing and career was coming full circle that day. I helped organize a race that benefited CWB and was so near and dear to my heart and race on the very same boat I first learned how to race on. It felt like my life had come full circle.
Kate Hearsey and I were talking about what my next move should be in racing. And she said “We should find you a J-105 to race on. They have an awesome fleet and are great boats to really hone in your skills.” I thought, “Hmm yes I should.” Later that night, I got a message from Elise saying, “Hey, are you interested in racing a J-105? I know a boat looking for crew.” I give Kate Hearsey full credit for manifesting my awesome year in sailing this year.
If that was serendipitous, I don’t know what is. The typical thoughts of doubt came flooding into my mind…not being good enough, not sure if I would fit in with the crew, etc. But after one Monday night race with them, and I knew I found my next opportunity.
Creative, a J-105 owned by Al Hughes (incredibly badass sailor), shared skippering with Shauna Walgreen, an amazing woman who had been developing an all-women racing crew. I was stoked. In a highly competitive fleet, one design racing is simply the most fun. And this year we were #1 of the top 25 Pacific Northwest race boats! An incredible accomplishment that recognizes the hard work Shauna and Al have done for Creative and the racing community. For the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to race on many boats featured in the rankings, but this is a first time to be first!
Even though I came onto the boat in the middle of the year and only been sailing a few months with them, I have grown leaps and bounds. The training and learning we get as a crew has been amazing. We’ve also had a great season, coming in 1st in some really competitive races, but most of all, enjoy the experience of it above all else.
My summer schedule was now perfect with racing with Creative on Mondays, Selchie on Wednesdays, and roller skating on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work. Camping or sailing on the weekends. Can life get any better than that?
It was a summer with tragedy at Raceweek , a reminder for us all how dangerous sailing can be no matter what your experience level is. Safety, clear communication, and preparation was something we were all took extra care in. And I have a lot of gratitude for the skippers that I’ve sailed with who have always kept us safe as possible.
While I wasn’t able to attend Round the County this year since I was in Hawaii, Melanie wrote a great article that showcases what it’s like to be with the crew.
Quiet the Mind, Open the Heart
It’s hard to know how to begin to talk about the gravity of the amount of self-work I had to do this year. But it was HARD. Diving deep into chaos and shadows, trying to push down heartache, and doing anything I could and yet nothing at all to bring myself back to the light. I often try to fix things as quickly as possible, but when it takes longer than you think it will….it makes it harder. I was called to do what I knew needed to be done to move on, despite my emotions not being ready to be there. But I called upon Resilience and Release – and worked so hard, I didn’t know I could create the impossible.
And thank the lord for Adrian Michael Green, who has been the best writer I’ve discovered over the pandemic. His words are what everyone needs to hear, words they need to say to themselves. No matter where you are in life. We all could use more self-love. I have nearly all of his books and if anything ya’ll should follow him on Instagram @adrianmichaelgreen.
In the end, it took a lot of solo dance parties, humility, journaling and leaning into Kevin and Jamie. I recreated myself to the be possibility of balance, inspiration, and grace. I know growing is a long term project but those moments of breakthrough bliss – I savored every last drop of it. And it’s funny because in that clarity, you feel born again, but the reality is that this was you the whole time, you just couldn’t see yourself.
300+ Modo Yoga Classes and Counting
All that you need, lives within you. All you have to do is show up. Just as you are. Remember and share gratitude for the people in your life that show up for you, even when you can’t show up for yourself.
In October this year, I reached my 300th class at Modo Yoga! Of the 26 teachers I’ve had the honor to practice with over the years, Kevin gets the most love of all because I never would’ve started practicing in this amazing and sacred space if it weren’t for him. It was only fitting I got to celebrate my 300th class practicing with him since I first stepped into Modo at the end of 2017.
Now hundreds of practices later on and off the mat and from around the world and during a pandemic, I find myself so in love with such a beautiful practice that has helped my body, soul, and mind grow in countless ways. I was so excited about my 300th class, when I rushed in for a 6am practice that morning, I realized I left my yoga bag with all my things at home! I thought it was a very serendipitous moment to remind me that I don’t need “things” to do things “right” – all that I need is already within me. All I have to do is show up. And one of the best lessons I’ve learned is you don’t ever have to show up a certain way other then as your authentic self.
Transitioning from fall to winter with a 30-day challenge had me feeling strong, knowing that I am capable of trying hard things, and falling over is all apart of it.
The Days Can be Long, but the Years are Short
Nothing makes time feel more fleeting that watching a child grow. It’s INCREDIBLE how much has changed with Irie in just a year. I feel like this year I’ve seen so many different versions of her as my lil’ dumpling becomes her own person. This year we celebrated Irie’s first birthday, and it was such a gift to be able to have a small gathering of her family and watch her play and explore everything in life. Jamie had a rainbow themed party for her, so naturally, I made her a rainbow flower dress. I made it a little big so that we could see her grow into it…(hopeful for a Summer Meltdown appearance).
It seems like all of a sudden she went from barely being able to walk, to a non stop babbler, telling me stories about what she’s seen in her toddler language. I’m fascinated by the rate in which she is learning and how much new information she absorbs everyday. It is clear what a difference it makes when you have a stay at home mom who teaches kindergarten and first grade! I’ve stood by Jamie and Kevin this year, overwhelmed with admiration and love because of the amount of work they both do to create the life they live, growing as individuals, and now nurturing a human being. It is a testament to presence, patience, and commitment. I can’t imagine what it is like to be a parent, but it has been a window into my appreciation for anyone who is, including my own!
I had the great honor this year of joining Kevin and Jamie for a long weekend on Whidbey Island to photograph the Hood family reunion. It was a special week, SO many people coming from all over the world to share this special time with each other. It spoke to how dedicated everyone was and how much love was in that space. It was humbling to be a part of such an intimate part of not just Kevin and Jamie’s lives, but the rest of the family! Some I got to meet for the very first time, others I hadn’t seen since their wedding 10 years ago. I think most people might feel weird intruding on another family’s reunion, but when I walked into the forest, I was greeted with everyone singing me happy birthday, complete with a portable piano, hugs from children I didn’t know, and a bottle of whiskey. This family sure knows how to make a gal feel special, and I am so grateful to be a part of their lives.
Self Work is Practice and Practice is Progress
I have learned that as we continue to evolve and become more self aware, that not everything is as clear as we would like it to be. It would be great if growth was on linear, but it kind of looks like the stock market, and complete chaos at times. I could write forever about this, but I think this heading captures it all. Self work is practice and practice is progress.
Wherever You Are, Be All There. Nowhere You Need to Be But Here.
It seems like once a year, one song gets stuck in my head. As someone who has never written music, when I find a song that seems to sing out of my heart, I get stuck. And I’m not satisfied until I’ve managed to get it out somehow on my uke. Even if it’s not perfect, there is the relentless call to sing out some feelings…I can only imagine feels about 1000% more for actually musicians. But here you go, one not so perfect song that captured my heart. Played in Kevin and Jamie’s backyard as I was waiting for them. 🙂 It’s really cheezy I know…but sometimes, life just feels like it’s out of a movie you know?
A Bitter Farewell to The Center for Wooden Boats and New Horizons with Off Center Harbor
It feels like every time I make a shift from my job to the next, it keeps getting harder and harder in the sense that I love the people I work with and what I do so much, it feels guilty to leave. It feels guilty to choose to leave a place you poured your heart and soul into. But we all must do what is in our hearts, and CWB was the only thing really keeping me in Seattle. It has such a special place in my heart and has helped me grow in ways I never knew I would.
I have always known however, that I am not a city girl. Even Seattle feels like too big of a city for me. I love the food and music, but during COVID when all of that greatly reduced, the city felt lonelier than ever. I thrive on relationships and it felt harder than ever to connect with people.
I wasn’t looking for a new job, but the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. Working for Off Center Harbor meant I could basically live wherever I wanted (maybe a boat?). It meant I could finally leave the city, and also focus on what I actually love to do most. Meet people and share their stories. I would finally have the opportunity to slow down, and take care of me, my family, and my friends.
First Trip to Mexico! First trip B.C. (Before COVID)
I had only been working for Off Center Harbor a few weeks before I already had my first work/travel experience. Brandon and his family were going on their first international trip together (Mexico), and Nathan and I decided to accompany them to celebrate being together and sharing memories. I spent my days working, and evenings meeting up with the crew, it was a different way to travel, but I was grateful for the opportunity. I saw baby sea turtles for the first time and I was ecstatic. I was however not excited about the jumping spider crabs that mass hung out on the rocks.
So This is Love?
Perhaps what is the biggest underlying new experience I’ve had this year, is that Josh and I decided to give being partners a try. It took 3 years of being friends, many challenging experiences, but also blissful ones, to get us to where we are now. And although we’ve only been together officially for 5 months now, it feels like it’s been years. Having known each other so well before we started dating, I want to say it felt effortless, but it in fact took a lot of effort and continues to take effort from both of us.
The thing that inspires me the most about being with Josh is that I know we can both work through really hard things together and come out on the other side. It’s hard to find people willing to do the work, show up for you when you’re not showing up for yourself, and vice versa. I’m trying to get used to have someone care for me, trying to allow someone to be my mirror, and knowing when I need to be an example of love and what I want.
We got to return to Banks Lake together, 3 years after we first met canoeing together with The Hoods. Wow how much has changed since then! It felt special to create new memories together in a place that is so special to our story.
We spent Thanksgiving in Hawaii with his parents and while I don’t know what the next year has in store for us, I know that we’ll work on it together.
We are the possibility of: Adventure – Abundance – Patience – Creativity – Personal Growth
2022: What Will We Do?
This next year, I hope to propel myself forward, and really challenging myself. My words for 2022 are:
Endurance – Growth – Synergy
Josh plans on climbing all the WA volcanoes next year, and my goal is to be able to do one with him. It will probably be Mt. Adams or Mt. St. Helens since they are the least technical ones.
I also want to start thinking about next steps for getting out of the city. Things are certainly more complicated now that I have a partner, but then again, hopefully it is something we will do together that will be the best thing for us. I want this next year to be something I will be proud of. I am ready to get out of this COVID shell!
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