December 27th, 2012
I hear-by dub 2012 as “the year of the nap”. Oh what wonderful times I have spent this year, laying on my back with a bolster under my knees, an eye pillow relaxing my peepers, and a warm and cozy blanket tucked around me–in pursuit of the perfect nap. It’s been a good year, and all the more so for having such fabulous clients and friends and family like you. I have learned so much this year, and I know that you all were an absolutely essential component. Each relationship in my life, each interaction with another, each connection with a fellow human being gives me the opportunity for growth and expansion, and for this I am so appreciative. I think it was June the last time I wrote, and I was soon to turn 30. My fantastic and joyful birthday celebration came and went, and I have realized that perhaps life really only gets going at 30.
In addition to the pursuit of the perfect nap (my mom now calls me the “napping queen”), the second half of 2012, for me, has been about finding balance. For the first time in my adult life, I really relaxed into the experience of summer on the Vineyard. I frequented more beaches, took more swims, cooked more yummy food than I can recall having done before. Don’t get me wrong, there were still a few insane stretches of working long days back to back, but what really showed me that I had changed my ways was that I arrived at the end of August feeling fabulous. Instead of a wrung-out wash cloth, I felt alive and vibrant and thriving. After spending so many years working as hard as possible to squeeze the most money as possible from the three months of summer, I changed tactics a bit. Joy was my goal for the summer of 2012, and I got me some for sure!
My dad recently brought home a book from the library called How Will You Measure Your Life? This question has been on my mind a whole lot lately. Two years ago, after being ill for a couple of months, it came to me that perhaps there were other ways to measure success besides my productivity level. I had just spent hours and hours on the couch or in bed with very little energy for accomplishing any task, and then it came to me–what if I were to measure my success, not by how much I got done each day, but by the amount of joy I cultivated and experienced. I saw people around me in the world working very hard and experiencing little joy, and I also saw the opposite: folks who didn’t seem to be accomplishing much, yet appeared supremely joyful. What if, I thought, the secret to a successful life was not, in fact, about how much I got done each day, but rather about how happy I was at the end of the day? This felt like an interesting idea to explore, and now a few years later, I find myself becoming more and more sure that measuring my life by the amount of joy I cultivate each day is the way to go–immensely satisfying and a whole lot more fun!
At the beginning of 2012, I read a book called Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, by Martha Beck. In this book I was introduced to another outlandish idea–the possibility that a really effective and successful way to do life, especially in a life where I am choosing to measure success in increments of joy, is to play until I feel like resting, and then rest until I fee like playing. This suggestion was something that I was already sort of exploring, but to have America’s favorite life coach tell me that it really works sort of sealed the deal for me. I discovered, though, that I must have done a whole lot of playing so far in my life, because for a bunch of months, it felt like all I wanted to do was rest. And in our culture obsessed with action and results and productivity, allowing oneself to do a whole lot of resting can be really a challenge. I persevered, though, and as I mentioned earlier, I have become an avid napper. Still an amateur (“lover of”) at this point, but who knows what lies ahead.
Speaking of what lies ahead, and not knowing about it, here are a few things that lie (lay?) behind me, from the year of 2012:
January: I started the year off by myself, staying warm and cozy in “the shack”, belonging to dear friends, Myles and Laura and baby Armen (not so much of a baby anymore – tonight he was turning the lights on and off and showing me his toy trucks). A week later I moved into my home for the winter, another cozy casa belonging to oldest friend Nisa and her family (Tim, Casey, Theo and Kyla Rose–who was still hanging out “in-belly” til June) while they spent some QT on the beach in Hawaii. This month was an awesome time of reflection, healing, connection and exploration. I took daily walks on the beach at Great Rock Bight, and experienced having a home of my own for really the first time ever. It is divine, that own-home-having experience. (I look forward to it again sometime soon!)
February: I found myself in sunny but rather chilly Florida, spending a restful, pleasant week with the Knight family–my mom’s brothers and sisters and their families. It felt like possibly the first “real” vacation I have ever had…no connecting flights, no big back-pack, no roughing it. So fun and fabulous. I also attended the Millionaire Mind Intensive, spending a weekend in a hotel outside of Boston, beginning to transform my relationship with money and wealth. Hmmm. Oh, and I decided not to move back to Portland, ME during one of my beach walks. All of a sudden it hit me, THIS IS MY HOME ( Martha’s Vineyard); this is where I belong. It felt wonderful to get clear about that. To finally really choose this island as the place where I want to establish my life.
March: I found myself a next sweet spot to call home, a wee apartment in a beautiful home in downtown Vineyard Haven. The kitchen was the size of a postage stamp, but it had lots of light and a wonderful claw foot tub, and it would be mine-all-mine. I had a week-long adventure out to Arizona where I visited with old friends, and attended an amazing craniosacral and polarity therapy workshop. I also had a massage from a current student at my massage school – it was almost five years to the day from when I graduated. The end of the month was all about moving – fitting myself into a new tiny apartment and back into my storage locker. It took me awhile to figure out what would fit in my apartment, and there was a bit more carrying of boxes up and down the stairs then I think my landlords expected.
April: More moving, and some more great walks at Great Rock Bight. There is something entirely magical about that place. I think I may have also graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition at the end of April–slightly anti-climactic, but fun to be a certified health coach! I started working with a few coaching clients, held a couple of “Sugar Blues” workshops and launched my practice as BodySong Wellness. I wonder what else happened that month… Probably a whole bunch more carrying stuff back down the stairs that wouldn’t fit in my apartment.
May: The month started off joyfully when dear friend, sailing buddy, mother of my god daughter and roommate from Portland, Charity, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy–Quinn. It was such fun to see my five year old goddaughter, Stella, get to take on the role of big sister! When I got back from visiting the new babe, I completed a splicing job for an interior decorator friend and installed a lovely rope handrail for a stairway in her client’s home. This was the kind of job that sounds like the possibility for a new business venture– “yeah, I know how to do that. Sure, that would be fun”–and instead made it clear to me that I do NOT, in fact, need another business venture; I have my hands quite full already. The end of the month found me sailing as captain of the 28′ Noman’s Land boat, Mabel, for the seventh annual Vineyard Vision Fellow’s orientation – an exciting sail from Vineyard Haven to Cape Pogue, arriving by moonlight, and a similarly exciting sail home with quite a bit of wind and fog to start, but some really fabulous sailing over all.
June: June began with a lovely walk at Cedar Tree Neck, a sanctuary I used to frequent as a child, but haven’t been to lately. What an amazingly beautiful Island I live on! I spent a bunch of the month preparing to turn 30, and then at the end of the month I did just that! I had a wonderful week of celebrations, made even more special by the arrival of friend Nisa’s third child, the affore-mentioned Kyla Rose, born on June 25th, just two days before I turned 30! It was definitely one of my best birthdays, and I was thrilled to have some dear friends from off the island come visit and join in the festivities. There was lots of dancing, good food cooking and eating, swimming and even a little sailing in the mix. I also started bartering with a new farmer friend, and began receiving weekly bags of fresh, delicious, beautiful veggies, and she got massage for her hard-working body. What a fabulous trade!
July: A busy month! Summer on the Vineyard had begun with massage therapy in full swing. I also had the pleasure of attending weddings of a couple of dear friends, AND my family and I took on the delightfully tiring task of giving Ms. Mabel a new coat of paint. She turned 10 years old this year, and I wanted to give her the gift of a beautiful new birthday suit. “Haul out” as it’s often called in the boat business is one of those times when self-care and common sense sort of get thrown out the window; with an eye on the ticking clock, a hand on a paint brush, and the “splash” date imminent, it is a race for sure. Mabel, built by my friend Myles when he was 19, has been like a sister to me in some ways (the “brain child” of my dad, built for the non-profit Vineyard Voyagers, to give island kids an opportunity to have significant encounters with the sea). I feel a very close connection with this dear boat, and often wish I had more time and attention to devote to her care, operation and promotion. Maybe someday this will shift, and in the meantime, I gaze at her with love and admiration each time I pass her by.
August: The bounty of good food was overflowing!!! We had a fun visit from my Swiss cousin and her boyfriend, and got to share a few meals around the table on the back porch – one of my absolute favorite parts of summer. It was another full summer month, but with some great adventuring off the island. I spent a few days in Provincetown by myself, and then joined my parents and brother to head up to Barnard, Vermont to visit with family from my dad’s side. It was so wonderful to spend time with all those cousins, many of whom live in California and we don’t often get to see. On my return to the Island, I decided to re-commit to my self-care, and for a couple of weeks, I received massage and other bodywork as often as possible. This was an amazing gift to give myself, and left me feeling nourished and balanced and healthy. I attended the Oak Bluffs fireworks for the first time in a bunch of years and had a blast dancing to big band music on the grass afterwards. Dancing was a somewhat sporadic and absolutely essential part of summer…
September: The month of the infamous double rainbow, and my last month of downtown living…. It was such a gift to spend the summer living TWO BLOCKS from my office. To be able to jaunt home for lunch or a quick snooze. And at the same time, I am a country girl at heart, and living in the “big city” (of Vineyard Haven) just wasn’t for me. September was gorgeous month. I had lovely meals on my stately porch, and that was also where I read a small book on photography that I picked up at the library. It inspired me to put some time and attention back on this art form that I love so much. I finally acknowledged that I have dreams of showing my photos, not just on the note cards that I sell, but in large format, where they can really express themselves. I took the first step in that direction and ordered a number of enlarged prints of my photos. When they arrived, I felt almost giddy; finally I had taken the first step towards my dream of sharing my photography with the world. At the end of the month, I packed up and moved out of my apartment, attended my dear friend Amanda’s wedding (I had the special privilege of living with her and her fiancé last summer, and I’m pretty sure they are gonna live happily ever after) and once again moved my stuff into storage.
October: ROAD TRIP! It took me about five days of laying around at my family’s house on chappy to recover from my very full week of moving, etc. and finally I was packed and ready to go… to CANADA! I had always wanted to visit Cape Breton, and it turned out that my Aunt Ginio was going to be staying up there for a few month. I was really feeling the need to get off the island of MV, so I headed north… Nova Scotia is one of my favorite places and it had been awhile since I’d been there. I spent a fun week in Cape Breton, visiting with Ginio and being introduced to everyone in the small town where she was staying. Then I drove across to the other side of Cape Breton and spent a couple of nights with an old friend of my dad’s from one of his sailing adventures–even got to ride a norwegian fjord pony bareback and remembered why I used to love riding horses so much. I headed south through the lower part of Nova Scotia, visiting sailing buddy Steve MacKay in Halifax, and then meeting (finally) and staying with his mom before taking the ferry across the Bay of Fundy, and heading south back down through Maine. Stopped in Brooklin, ME and spent a few magical days at friends Nat and Pam Benjamin’s cabin…magical even after I ran over a nail and ruined my tire and had to organize getting a whole new set of tires. NOTE to all-wheel-drive car owners: In order not to ruin your car, you must replace all four tires at once – OUCH. In the process of figuring this out, I stopped at the local winter farmers market and happened to connect with the sister of a friend from the island who invited me to come and stay with her and family at their home on Deer Isle for the night. What a generous offer, and a beautiful surprise connection. There is definitely something magic about Maine! After a fun visit in Portland, and a spontaneous boating adventure in Amesbury, MA, I finally made it home to MV!
November: I left for my road trip thinking, “there is no WAY I could live with my parents!”, and when I got home, I realized it was the only place I could imagine living. My desire for a home, a real home of my own has gotten rather strong this year, and this house on chappy where I grew up is one place that really feels like home for me. I love it here. I love my huge room with lots of windows that looks out over the garden, through the sassafras threes to the swamp. I love being able to pick kale and spinach fresh from the greenhouse for a morning smoothie. I don’t always love the goat girls when they are moaning about being in heat, but I do love having them and the chickens around. So, here I am. Back where I began. It is fun living with my family now that we are all “grown up”. It is an amazing gift to have a bit of financial pressure lifted by sharing this home, and being able to spend more time exploring how I want to be showing up in the world. My massage practice feels healthy and strong and I am enjoying that work. I haven’t had a super busy schedule, so I have had time to play with my photos and explore that avenue as a business venture. I have settled on the name, Fleur de Lis Studios, for my artistic endeavors and have really been having a blast experimenting with how my photos want to show up in the world. With my light massage schedule, I was able to convert my office into a temporary studio/gallery and it has been a new adventure to have a place to share my photographs.
December: After much back and forth, I finally settled on a collection of MV images for next year’s calendar, and it has been a fun way to be able to share my work with people. I participated in a Ladies’ Trunk Show with some other entrepreneurs and found it to be a good way to let people know that I am a photographer, and at the same time, not the venue that I feel most comfortable in. I tried out a different venue, and found that I felt more at home sharing my work at the LovingKindness Holiday Show at my friend Patricia’s home. She cooks food for Hospice families, and this December she invited a group of island artisans and craftspeople to show and sell their work at her home, with a portion of the proceeds going to fund her Hospice cooking ventures. What a wonderful thing to be a part of. I set out to go gift shopping a few days before Christmas, and I found that her show was really the only place I wanted to show my appreciation for goods (in the form of money :-). Christmas has come and gone, now, and I got to spend a lovely, mellow day with my family. It is such a joy to have finally reached a part of my family’s evolution where holidays are actually pleasant instead of the traumatic roller-coaster ride of emotions that they were previously. Thank goodness for the passage of time. It is so much fun to be living over here on Chappy, taking photos, cooking yummy food, spending time with family, and wondering if the ferry will be running. I am excited to have a fresh crop of twenty-somethings here on the wee island, with new friends at the Slip Away farm just a walk through the woods, and I look forward to connecting with this community again.
As I look ahead to the quickly approaching new year, I feel excited about what is yet to come. I am realizing that the usefulness of making plans these days is not so great, and I am thrilled, most of the time, to just let life roll on in–breakers crashing over me with joy and sorrow and the glorious experience of life. I am finally getting clear that this journey called life is probably not something that I will ever figure out. I will never learn how to “do it right”, and I could waste my time and die trying… So, instead, I will do my best to take each day as it comes, feeling around for the things I have yet to experience, and not letting myself get too down when I forget that it’s just a game, and I find myself crying over spilled milk. (Am I having deja vu, or did I write that line in some previous holiday letter?) I love taking this time to sit down and share about the past year, imagining all of you wonderful people out there who I know, but don’t often connect with. What are you up to?? Wherever you are, I wish for you the experience of peace, freedom and joy in 2013.