The world opened it’s doors again, and opportunities seemed endless. At least for those of us who are privileged enough to have access to free vaccines and live in a place where you can choose how to live your life (for the most part). It seems like everyone was trying to make up for lost time, and while it’s only been a year since my last reflection, it feels like years have already gone by. The years are beginning to feel long and too quick at the same time. I suppose I will always hold gratitude for time slowing down.
If you’re lazy like me and like pictures instead…here is 2022 one second a day.
But first, let’s start with the best thing I’ve ever asked Jamie to make for me. Irie saying my favorite affirmations. Warning: You will want to watch this everyday if you don’t die from the cuteness overload.
Progress is Not Linear and Sometimes Our Goals Can Change
It doesn’t feel good to start this reflection with basically talking about how I failed to meet one of my goals this year, but I like to just get the bad stuff out of the way sometimes. I chose the word endurance for one of my goals this year, with the intention of whipping myself into shape and climbing a volcano. I struggled with getting into the right mindset for most of the year. I didn’t really push myself as much as I needed to, and I didn’t set myself up with the right training plan. I failed to consistently meet hiking and and stair session goals during the summer, and I am a person that rarely doesn’t meet their goal if they try. So this felt especially disappointing to me.
Maybe another time. But when I thought about it, the real reason why I chose that goal, was because I wanted Josh and I to take something on together that I knew would really push me. I wanted us to have something to work towards together that we would both enjoy. And I didn’t know it until later in the year, that we met that goal in a whole different unpredictable way. But more on that later…
Treasured Moments in Time
Irie turned 2 early on in the year, and it’s crazy to think about how much she has changed even since her 2nd birthday in March. Her little rainbow flower dress fit so much better, and by the time it was my birthday, it was perfect on her!
This lil’ dumplin’ continues to impress me more and more. I feel so lucky to have been there with her for so much of her first 2.5 years. She is polite, funny, silly, and her singing and dancing gets more joyful and inspiring. I love how she hugs me, reaches for my hand when she wants some support, and how she wants to comfort me, even when I don’t need to be comforted. She is so empathetic and smart. She started using the word “flavorful” before her 2nd birthday, and had books memorized so she could read them to us, and the parts she didn’t know, she made up and it was so magical to watch her creativity fly. We foraged our first morels this year and she’s probably the only 2 year old walking around the grocery store pointing at mushrooms saying, “Those are not morels.” And the only 2 year old I know walking around saying, “I think that is a spotted towie.” I don’t even know what a spotted towie is other than it’s a type of bird.
For her second birthday I made her a little video of our time together, one second a day. Even now at the end of the year, she is a whole new person again.
Making time for people is important. I made a quick trip to Nashville with Brandon for a belated birthday celebration. We saw Jason Isbell at the historic Ryman theater. Cassi and Nathan came too and it was a great trip full of laughter, and apparently now that we’ve started these fall trips together, where shall we go next year?
Moisture Festival Came Back!
One of the long awaited moments this year, was the ever amazing Moisture Festival. This year, would be the last year the variety performances would be at Hale’s Palladium. The owners decided to sell the property, and close Hales forever after 39 years!
It was bitter sweet, but the MF crew and volunteers worked their asses off. They held strict COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe and still put on a great show.
It was heart warming to see so many performers reunite for the first time in years, and also heart wrenching to watch so many people struggle with the COVID protocols. We’re all just trying to provide a safe event for everyone, and everyone is also trying to hold onto their personal freedoms. It was not a dynamic I was envious of and I really felt for the production team. I could not imagine the stress of trying to get everything right, and needing to make volunteers, guests, performers, and staff feels safe and appreciated all at the same time.
Please be kind to your event planners. Planning any event is hard under normal circumstances. Planning any event post COVID is extremely difficult on so many levels. COVID has definitely taught me how to be more sympathetic and patient when things don’t go right, and it’s so important to be gentle with those who are working so hard to provide you with an experience.
Closing night was eerie and strange. Normally, an afterparty at Hale’s closing night would take place, but being that the building was closing, the afterparty was held off site across the street. With COVID, I’m not sure how many made the festivities after, I didn’t go as precaution, but also I was just plain tired. Can’t imagine how the crew felt.
Watching the Palladium doors close for the last time got me teary eyed. The audience had gone home, there was no music, just the quiet rolling wagon wheels and faint tearful goodbyes. As Sandy rolled in behind the last move piece and the doors closed, I took a deep inhale to take this moment in.
Behind these magical doors have been 17 years of laughter, imagination, hard work, and chosen families. Tucked away behind Hale’s Ales, it had become a mysterious icon in a bustling city, but for those who knew – it held more than the wooden doors could hold. Countless lives well lived, fully expressed, and for the joy of it’s patrons.
It’s a place that inspired me in ways I never knew I could be inspired, and it welcomed me with open arms. As this chapter closes, a new one opens, but I am surely grateful to have been part of this one. What a moment to remember the first time I got to go backstage.
They just made their announcement a few weeks ago that the 2023 Moisture Festival will take place at the Broadway Performance Hall in Capitol Hill, so I look forward to seeing what magic is created there!
Perhaps the best thing to come out of their move, is that I inherited their DISCO DISC! It was quite the saga getting it moved, but it now resides at Casa Sheriff…and I am so grateful! Here is a dumb video of me trying to skate dance but obviously have not been practicing much this year…but when Lizzo’s new hit is disco you GOTTA try!
Speaking of Lizzo, I FINALLY got to see the queen live and in person in November at Climate Pledge Arena. It was my first real stadium style type of show (festivals not included). I cried when she sang Soulmate, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it was a religious experience. If the Church of Lizzo hasn’t been founded yet, it should and I will pledge my heart to her. WHAT A QUEEN!
It was a Summer Meltdown that truly MELTED DOWN
We waited 3 years to melt together, and to be completely honest, I wasn’t even ready when the day arrived. I had been to a few shows, but had worn masks the whole time, and this was the first time we were going to really be around a lot of people we didn’t know. Our small little group did what we could and felt right at the time, which was we all took covid tests before, and agreed not to share food or drinks with people outside our group.
I longed to dance with strangers, feel the bass of the music, and laugh till tears were in my eyes with my closest friends…and yet it surprised me how anxious the idea of going to a music festival made me. And yet not at all at the same time. It felt normal and we all craved for a bit of normalcy after the last couple of years.
The festival had been moved to a new location for the first time in years, so it was a learning curve for everyone. I have never seen a crowd quite as unprepared as we all were, but thankfully, we were able to pivot our camping plans to stay with Kevin and Jamie and built our own little burning man tent crew. That weekend reached record temperatures close to the 100’s so everyone was struggling to cope. But overall, I’d say our crew had a great time, the music was great, the people were amazing, and we shared memories and laughter to fill our hearts for the year.
Inspired by the flower mirror Jamie and I had seen at Oregon Country Fair and the affirmation work I’d been doing the last couple of years, I created something new called the Affirmation Station! Thanks to Shawna for helping me brainstorm the perfect name for it.
It’s basically a mirror with flowers around it, and I placed affirmations all around (some came from the boudoir group!). You walk up to the mirror, pick an affirmation or come up with your own, and repeat it to yourself in the mirror. It was such a delight to see my friends use it and shower themselves with self-love.
Casa Sheriff is my Happy Place
Every year I am so delightfully surprised with what comes out of Casa Sheriff. This year, Tracy found an abandoned mini golf piece on the side of the road, and and Robin’s task for me was to turn it into a Japanese Teahouse. No big deal. And of course they already had all the materials on site for me when I got there. But a teahouse she got!
Grandma Sue got something a little special this year. We created a standing bar to heckle folks on the course and I painted it rainbow and included artwork from her favorite sweatshirt. She told me she always wanted me to paint something for her, so what better way to honor her than her favorite sweatshirt she loves. It’s a little lamb with a speech bubble that says “Mom?” looking up at the clouds.
Next year is the 10 year anniversary for mini golf and I can’t believe it. I am SO honored that Robin has asked me to design a hole all on my own! Ideas are brewing for “A Few of My Favorite Things” theme. I see water, elevated putting green, and a disco ball (obviously).
Robin and Tracy were the only people I felt would appreciate the Disco Disc as much as me and gave the piece an incredible home in their garage next to the half pipe. And lucky for me I got to celebrate my birthday with my closest friends at Casa Sheriff and it filled my heart to share this magical place with everyone. They finally “got it” after finally seeing it all in person for the first time.
Not only did they give it a home, they made sure it was ready for our disco dance party! We had a mini golf tournament and happy hour at my dream yurt followed by the best costume closet runway show ever. I never realized they made tiny wigs for kids and seeing Irie in a mermaid costume made my heart burst in a way I never knew could. She completely transformed and just layed down in the gravel pretending to be a mermaid and I was crying laughing.
What a beautiful home they have created and it’s been such a gift to witness their growth and memories. May we all be so lucky to create a family as special as the Sheriffs.
First Camp Cruise in Lil’ Bucket! + Welcome Big Dipper!
I know it’s nothing crazy, but I am so proud of accomplishing this year was finally getting Lil’ Bucket on her first camp cruise. Naturally, we chose Banks Lake, for the annual canoe trip, and boy am I beyond grateful to have a partner like Josh.
Giving her a face lift took longer than expected, my patience and tolerability was tested, and at times it wasn’t pretty but we did it. And she looks WAY BETTER than if I had just slapped some paint on her and called it good. Josh made sure the leak was sealed perfectly and got the rest of the hull prepped and ready for me. I was able to spend more time and energy making her look good and dang she is the best she has probably ever looked! It took longer than we wanted, but we took her out for a sunset sail on my birthday and I couldn’t have been happier.
This year, for Banks Lake Josh decided to buy our first boat together. Everyone welcome, Big Dipper! The big old green canoe that could. Once again Josh won partner of the year by helping me get Bucket on a trailer and driving Big Dipper on top all the way cross state and then he paddled ALL THE THINGS in his canoe, and I put whatever I could in Bucket. The way out had no wind and was glass…rowing an El Toro a long distance…not recommended for an armature like me.
But we did it! The wind came in the next few days and we all got to go sailing. Josh and I climbed in for our first sail together, and while it’s not recommended to have the two of us in there, it is possible, and we made it work! When I got to take her sailing on the breeziest day, the joy of being out on the water together, with just my own thoughts, the wind, and the sound of water against the hull was just as it is: Simplicity Afloat Will Set You Free (coined by Steve as the new OCH tagline). I felt joy, contemplation, freedom, and a sense of accomplishment.
I found a way to get this tiny boat that found it’s way to me some years ago when I started my wooden boat journey, and now I get to take her on all the adventures and share her with my people. Little did I know how much my story was about to expand just another week later.
When Your Path Crosses Another: Be Present
Perhaps the best thing to come out of the world reopening, is finally making the human connections we couldn’t make before. The one that stands out above all else this year, is my connection with Kaci Cronkhite. I officially met Kaci when I crewed with Team Sail Like a Girl and we escorted Maiden to Port Townsend in 2019. I had invited her to speak at the Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival, and fell in love with her story of Pax. As the former Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival director, and before that a woman that lived in the wild waves of the ocean around the world, I had much to admire about her. We kept in touch via social media, and I think we created a mutual admiration for each other over COVID. I’m still not sure what would be that interesting about me, but if one of your sailing idols wanted to be friends with you just go with it!
We finally got to spend some quality time together this summer in person and never would I have imagined how that friendship would blossom in just one day. We commiserated, celebrated, and shared stories from our lives, with so many surprising similarities, I almost felt like I was talking to a future version of myself. I don’t know if it was the longing for real new human connections or the oversharing side of my personality, but we talked about things I had never even said out loud to anyone. And that kind of space is something I treasure dearly. Pax became my little getaway this summer as I got to spend more and more time in Port Townsend. Each night I fell asleep inside her beautiful hull, I was filled with so much gratitude I didn’t know what to do with myself. I could hardly believe I got to even for a fraction of a moment, cross paths with this beautiful spidsgatter. When we parted ways that first afternoon we met, she said, “Please come back anytime and consider yourself, one of us. You are one of the women in maritime here.” I don’t know if she even knows how much that touched my heart.
For years I have admired the women in Port Townsend. I have always thought, the women I am in total awe with, are always sailors, and they all live in Port Townsend. The best of the best, they all go to Port Townsend. But I never really felt like I quite belonged. I was not a tradesperson, or merchant mariner, or anything related to that really. I have always felt so far behind from all the others around me, lost and unsure where I belonged in the maritime world other than in the category of “Boat enthusiast. Knows very little, but will bring lots of positive energy.” And it’s been the same feeling for quite some time.
Then one day, it just clicked. And man does life happen FAST when you’re on the right track.
Women in the Trades
If I wasn’t already lucky enough to be friends with Kaci, I counted myself the luckiest of all when she introduced me to Diana Talley. Diana, is a self-taught shipwright…long retired now, but was the first woman who have her own shop in the Port of Port Townsend back in the day. And she is a RIOT. I absolutely fucking love her. She’s witty, crass, sweet and carries such a breadth of knowledge of life, boats, and that includes boat life with boobs. Her stories capture moments, big and small, with the lessons learned. Her heart, just like mine, is on her sleeve for all to see. And us bleeding hearts need to stick together right?
Diana received a Lifetime Achievement Award this year at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. This year they combined the last two years of awards due to COVID. She was the first to receive a standing ovation that night and I was so proud of her. I know I’ve only known her a short time, but the connection I feel for her kindred spirit runs deeper than some friendships that never dig deep. Seeing her recognized by her peers and community, honored for all her hard work and being someone who has mentored many women in the community…just…so special. I can’t find better words for it. I cried and laughed all at the same time during her speech.
The next day, Diana was hosting a forum about Women in the Trades. I was so excited to watch and also so dismayed that they were placed on a stage between the bar and the volunteer tent. It seemed almost insulting, like an after thought to have the presentation at all. But I digress…It was a moment I will remember forever. For years the few women I’ve seen in the trades have been older, but rarely have I seen women who are somewhere around my age. The next generation. This forum featured women from different aspects including sailing, rigging, boat building, and finishing. They all had FASCINATING stories and they were all so amazing. I was in complete awe! In the middle of their presentation I just had this epiphany of “I NEED TO MOVE HERE. These are the women I want to be friends with.” I also had this actualization, that while many of these women worked in the same industry, they didn’t know each other or they had some interest in getting involved in another trade. I found this interesting, I just assumed they all knew eachother. As everyone in Port Townsend seems to know each other. The boat world is small so it seems only natural that everyone would know everyone.
Another light bulb went off in my head of what I could actually see my role as. A connector! 10 years ago or so, my friend Tyler told me, “One of the greatest things about you is that you are a connector. You love to connect people. I’m so grateful for the people and experiences you’ve introduced me to.” I’ll never forget it. It made so much sense it was almost too obvious, but then again, it was never said out loud as an acknowledgement. What has always brought me great joy is introducing my friends to other friends. For us to all share this amazing human experience together. My birthday has always been a catalyst to bring all my favorite people together from different areas of my life. And new connections and relationships and friendships have been born from it. So in this moment, I could see myself as someone who could help get women in the trades connected to other women in the trades. Surprisingly, there wasn’t an exisiting group on Facebook so I made one. Women in Maritime Trades. I highly HIGHLY recommend this amazing issue of the Port Report about women in maritime in Port Townsend. Orchestrated by Kaci and Diana of course. But to me this front page photo is everything.
That same weekend, I walked away with a new boat project and began looking for places to live in Port Townsend. Let’s back it up a little…
Introducing: Big Bucket of Dreams
Earlier this year, I had a couple people talk to me about potentially doing the Race to Alaska. Yeah that crazy 750 mile engineless race from Port Townsend to Alaska. If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, DO IT. Ever since I vicariously lived through Kate and Team Sail Like a Girl in 2018, it’s been something in the corners of my mind. Something I’d love to do, but it would have to be the right crew.
Well, enter Ginny Wilson, the shipwright babe who has been inspiring me since we met in 2019. I remember meeting Ginny for the first time at The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding annual gala. She was they keynote speaker and I was ENTHRALLED. I knew women built boats but I’d never seen one in person! And not only was she a badass who built boats, she also loved karaoke and sparkly things. My heart emoji eyes couldn’t have been bigger. This was one of those friendships that couldn’t really bossom during COVID but the moment we made in person connections, everything happened like rapid fire.
ANYWAY, during the R2AK rukus, Ginny and I just came up with this idea that we should put together an all female crew for R2AK. Heck yes I trust my life with this babe. Our only goal was to finish the race in one piece, and have fun the entire way. I mean really, we just wanted to cruise the Inside Passage together, and why not have R2AK be the catalyst to make it happen?
I had always wondered about doing the Inside Passage with a Thunderbird. It seemed like a quintessential PNW boat that was meant for racing and cruising. And I love Selchie, the little blue boat that could. So off we went to find a Thunderbird.
Magically, and as if it had always been meant to be, a Thunderbird found me. The details of how that was discovered should be shared in person sometime, writing it all down doesn’t seem to do it justice. Just – pure boat magic. Just ask me, I love retelling the story!
When Ginny and I went to inspect the boat during the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, we couldn’t believe the amazing condition of the boat. With a brand new mast, boom, rigging and sails, an immaculate mahogany cold-molded hull (WHAT?), a shop to do the work in, with a SPARKLY bathroom? how could I say no? I called Josh after viewing the boat and told him with stunned excitement the real opportunity that was there. Without skipping a beat, Josh replied, “Well it sounds like we’re moving to Port Townsend!” I couldn’t believe my luck. I have NO idea how I am going to make this happen, but when the universe just hands you a platter with all the pieces to make your dream come true, just say yes.
So now I’ve started a project called “Big Bucket of Dreams” which you can follow on Facebook or Instagram. I’m now on a journey of trying to piece together the history of the boat in addition to finish building her out! With the help of some amazing women I’m just becoming friends with, I am honored beyond words to have this opportunity. It’s scary as shit, but mostly exciting and for now I will focus on that. I certainly know that it will not be all smiles and sparkles along the way, but I know I have a community that will help me along the way.
I feel like my journey as a sailor has kind of been like the mad hatter tea party ride at Disneyland. I jump into whichever cup looks amazing, spin around until I find another cup, and keep swirling. For the first time, I am stepping off to try and find my own way of writing my sailing story.
I haven’t come up with the term yet, but I am trying to think of something that explains the process of all the small little things that come together to present you with an opportunity you can’t refuse….so far I’ve come up with Self-Actualization. And 2023 if going to be the year of Self-Actualization. I know I am on the brink of something that will mark a big chapter in my life, bringing all of the challenges and joy that will come. I’m scared AF because this feels like more than about just me and a boat. It will require everything I’ve got, emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. But if we’re not chasing our dreams, what are we living for?
I’ve already been dealing with a lot of the mental and emotional aspects this type of project brings and I haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but I’m grateful for the journey.
For all the ways we show up, I choose us.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve been learning this year is how I want to show up as a partner. Josh and I have been learning how we want to grow as individuals and as partners and with every challenge, I am learning how to dive deep into myself instead of reacting to my emotions. I’m learning how to communicate and listen without my own input. I am most grateful for this opportunity because continually choosing us allows me to grow so much more as a person. I am learning how to unlearn unwanted reactions, and how to create the possibilities we want to create.
We celebrated our one year anniversary with our favorite people, The Hoods, for our first real double date in quite some time. For all the ways Kevin and Jamie have shared their life with me, I can’t even begin to describe the gratitude I share for them and all the ways our lives have come together. I made a little video of our time together since we’ve met in spring 2018 until our one year anniversary in July 2022 to remind me that our chapters are always evolving, and that every part brings us closer to who we are meant to be.
My gratitude for Josh is unlike any I’ve ever had before. He continuously shows up for us, no questions asked. His deep love for his people is admirable and something I strive for as well. I feel safe, loved, and celebrated. What more could I ask for? I’m learning how to be a better partner and I hope that we will always continue to hold space for each other in all the ways we grow.
Miraculously we found the perfect place to call home in Port Townsend and moved less than 2 months after we made the decision to go. The space is magic with history and energy that you feel the moment you step through the door.
This next chapter for us is a big step. Josh is working to reestablish his life in Port Townsend with work and community. Luckily we’ve found a hot yoga studio just blocks from our house so we’ve already started a regular practice there. We are learning what is is like to exist as a couple in an era post COVID. Josh calls it “unbraiding”. Unbraiding sounded scary to me, because while I am a person that loves my personal space, it’s different than how it’s been the entire time we’ve been together. I’m practicing how to acknowledge my fears, and choose a path of love. And there is no one I would rather choose than this handsome man of mine.
We’re wrapping up the new year in beautiful Kauai, spending some good quality time with Josh’s family. I’m sad to away from mine for the first time in years, but I am beyond grateful to create new memories around my favorite time of year with a new family. We’re soaking up the sun, reflecting and creating some intentions for the new year. Every sunrise and sunset reminds us of the deep gratitude we have for our lives.
I am grateful for the path that has brought me here. I am grateful for my health, the health of my family, the best partner I could ever ask for, and for all the people who have helped me build my life of memories, experiences, and lessons. I have the deepest gratitude for the opportunity to live out my dreams and for all the people who have helped make it possible.
This next year is a year for expansion, to move beyond the horizon, and be the best version of myself I have ever been. While I normally choose three words for the year, I am choosing Self-Actualization. I actually had to look up the definition even when I had an idea in my head of what it meant.
Self-actualization: Self-actualization, in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is the highest level of psychological development, where personal potential is fully realized after basic bodily and ego needs have been fulfilled. (thanks wikipedia)
I believe the last few years have been a catalyst for me in my transformation. And I may not feel ready for what is ahead, but I sure as hell am going to try my best and see where I land.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far…What better way to end the year with a Lizzo anthem?