I am titanium…

It only takes half a bottle of Contadino and tamales to sing this song with Karaoke conviction.

I have amazing friends that create pretty dope memories. My friends encourage me to keep singing noises that sound like potential notes, even if I could use more than a few voice lesson. My friends take the time to build this amazing vegetable Christmas tree for a holiday party. My friends pour me a glass of Frank Cornelissen’s wine before I can order because they know that’s what I would have chosen. My friends love my sister as if she were their friend first. My friends can’t wait to hang out with me tomorrow. My friends plan to practice yoga with me. I can only describe life in one word: blessed.

This year has been nothing less than spectacular. I don’t say that to boast; rather, I want to bring to light how making time to nourish relationships and lifestyle resulted in a very happy me. Over the past year, I challenged myself to question everything I was told is “right” in life, and in doing so, I get to live a life that truly reflects and honors me.

On January 1, I will finally shave my legs. That experience is not for me. Armpit hair: a challenge that didn’t last more than a month. Natural Deodorant: still on. Not washing my hair: one month. How many times can a napkin be folded to expose a clean corner? Enough to last two weeks. Saving Topo Chico bottles for a future water glass making project: classic hoarder or upcycler, can’t tell. A glass of bad cider and a couple drops of dish soap catches all your fruit flies. I’m sure in 2017 I will find some other unconventional challenges to confirm my future lifestyle choices. I am open to suggestions. (Currently researching activated charcoal.)

Whatever it is, I am so glad that I have each one of you in my life. Without you, I couldn’t be as colorful as I am. I can’t wait to see what we all do in 2017.

Peace and blessings. 

Bread and my Friends

Today, I hosted a Bread Pop-up at Public Services with the help of Kelly Helgesen and my beyond amazing staff who volunteered to work on their day off after a long Saturday night. A truly special Sunday afternoon for the following reasons:

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I studied my first graphic design book to create this image, a collaboration between Ceci and I.

My parents came to my first pop-up. My mom saw the bar for the first time; she thinks alcohol is evil. Bread is my Siren. Dope.

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I am, even hours later, overwhelmed with gratitude to see friends, new and old, gathering to celebrate a part of me I love sharing. Friends that make changes to their travel plans to visit me in Gent, where I baked this summer; Friends who worked with me in a past career; Friends whose restaurants I frequent; Friends whose coffee shop I am well-familiar with their daily close-up song; Friends who know I love Beyoncè (where the playlist, on shuffle, with magical intention, knows to play their song when they arrive); Friends who end my evening with “Goodnight, Care Bear”; Friends that let me tell them about my even more natural than Tom’s of Maine deodorant experience; Friends that wear more plaid than I do; Friends that tell my parents they are fond of me.

At the end of the day, I felt like a host, inside her own world, doing what she loves—baking.

It’s amazing to see many people engaged in conversation with my sister today. Our lives so intertwined now that my friends are her friends. Was this event hosted by me or her? Perhaps it was the blue hair.

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She’s probably at home re-charging, like the rest of us introverts.

I slip into my covers this evening, feeling very grateful.

 

Offline

Did you see the moon last night? It wasn’t full, but its energy—auspicious. Today felt new, like a blank page, waiting for the ink to drop. It didn’t feel right to drive my car, to distance myself from the elements.Perhaps my green juice was too green. The wind felt more definitive as I ride my Vespa. The sun’s rays didn’t just provide warmth; they entered through the weave of my jacket. I tapped into my directional intuitions as I had no GPS to fall back on. What does it mean to be offline if we schedule when we turn back on our accessories that connect us to the world that’s bigger than what is around us?

As my iPhone sits in a bucket of silica gels, trying to define my definition of being present, I wonder if I even want it to turn back on. In my attempt to be uber productive this morning, I washed my bed sheets, wrapping my phone along with it.

I hope you are patient with me as I figure out what it means to be HERE. I’ve found that without a time-keeper, I get lost enjoying time. I’ve found that I put an unnecessary reliance on things that support me rather than me. In connecting with this new space, lying on my clean sheets, I feel content with just being me.

While I’m transitioning, if you need me, there is always Facebook Messenger and email. I am looking forward to finding new habits to make me a better me.

the quietness of friendship

I exhausted my limit about hearing about my past, my future, and stretched truths about me, spoken not by me. So, I bowed out and took my Vespa the longer way home to allow the wind to lift some of the heaviness.

Ever since I came home from my 10-week trip to Europe, every so often, anxiety about living an American life overcomes me. I miss the quietness of friendship, the ones can simply introduce you as a friend. I can’t think of a time where friendship was defined by the other person’s job, future networking opportunities, or some societal measurement.

I hope my friends know it is simply enough to be them. Simply enough to make me laugh. Simply enough to let me cry. Simply enough to entertain my silly drawings. Simply enough as a hug. Simply enough to be in class with me on Yoga Mondays. Simply enough to swing on my porch swing even when I am not home. Simply enough to lay beside me. Simply enough to let me drive them to the airport. Simply enough to say nothing at all.

Friendship is simply present.

Rihanna’s golden circle.

I had been planning this summer for a year now, planning to be in Europe for ten weeks and to be a minimum of 10 degrees cooler than the coldest summer day in Houston. I bought one round trip ticket six weeks before I left and figured the rest of the details as I encountered them. My intention was to stage at Mirabelle (Copenhagen, Denmark) and De Superette (Gent, Belgium). In the end, I breathed the air of six different countries and eleven villages/cities and laughed a hell of a lot.

In preparation for this trip, I had been trying to undo some of the things I have been far too comfortable with, things that could lead to unpliability: being OCD about frivolous things, being too type A, showering daily, exercising like I was still an athlete, using exhaustion as a measure of success, having an opinion about things I know far too little about, traveling only to cross things off a list. I began to question why I did things, if my habits were good for me, why some things were necessary habits–basically everything. I tried to break any cycle I could visibly discover so that I could free myself to be perfectly irregular.

I still brush my teeth, wash my face, and drink out of my water bottle daily. In the quest of finding who I am and who I want to be, I could only hold onto these three habits.

My decisions in travel were based more on making memories and less about bragging about where I ate or saw. I slowed down a lot, sat in parks, took naps, and ate falafel or pizza multiple meals in a row. I read many books, went to the same places to get coffee or wine, became a regular, and tried to live like everywhere was my second home. This summer was strictly for me and no one else. It was a journey in finding me. 

When you leave life up to possibilities, sometimes you end up in Paris, in Rihanna’s Golden Circle.

aside 17/08/16

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Sunset at Nordfjordeid

When I sit in your vastness, I am wrapped in your unending arms, cradling me into a meditation I have not experienced as an adult. There is no one nearby for miles. The only thing I can hear is the rustling of the keepers of our land, dispersing nutrition for our soils. In the stillness, my chest rises and falls, each time clearing out any remnants of the past.

Just another rise and fall of the chest, making this one last.

I am ready.

On finding love, in a cookie

To describe my summer is to find love, in a cookie.

I ordered a cortado, needing a sweet to crash from the high of the two shots of espresso already flowing through my system. The brownies would not have done the trick, as they were a bit too thin for my taste. You offered me a cookie your baker was testing. The cookie had no cost attached to it, unable to lighten the already light wallet I grasped in my hand.

As I sit in this wall-less room, the Norwegian breeze flows in the same direction–towards me. With a simple cookie, you have evoked the feeling of exactly what I have been trying to capture in my 18 pages of my business plan.

Perhaps it was this moment I was traveling for.

Aside 31/07/16

Lying here at the canal in Paris, I think about what is most important in life. I get lost in my thoughts, which eventually blend into the reflections of the canal. When I am forced to stimulate the sense again, I realize that perhaps this is what is most important—to learn to not to be. 

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Traveling alone this summer evokes feelings I would have never felt when I was younger. How will I handle being away from my friends for ten weeks? Even being out of town for 12 days was hard. We had our “Peden Pack” gathering last night and it felt like families who like each other, who get together for reunions, full of energy and stories. I have made sure that I feel every hug, every kiss, every bit of their amazing energy. As I am embraced in their arms, I wonder if FaceTime will be enough to bridge that gap when I am multiple time zones away. My adventure is not just mine. It is so much theirs as well. Houston is my home. I cannot wait to come home again. 

Aside 05/06/16

I don’t want you to be on the same path as me. I want us to be on a parallel path: where I can see you or sense you, where sometimes I will have some catching up to do, where sometimes you will catch up to me, where sometimes we will walk side-by-side, perhaps I’ll even twirl by your side.

What you’ve taught me or will teach me will never leave me. If you’ve found my core, warm your hands on it, for I may need that warmth along the way.