Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pure Joy on Two Wheels

This morning I hit the trail. Literally. I dug out my super cool Volvo/Cannondale mountain bike racing team jersey and black spandex biking shorts (yes, they still fit, phew!) and finally went for the bike ride I have been meaning to do all summer. I am not sure why I put it off so long... but as soon as I got up to speed and felt the wind against my face, I felt great.

When my mind started to wonder, I ratcheted the gears down and focused on each spin of the pedals. I was reminded of why biking was once my sport of choice. I felt healthy, happy and invigorated. I was also reminded of why my cousin who just recovered from a critical bike/car accident is back on the saddle again. And why my husband feels so good after riding his cool new bike home from work on a sunny summer day. I regret that I only went on one short ride while we were in Tahoe, but that’s what next year is for. Right?!

The sights, sounds and smells when you are on a bike are so different and much more intense: up close and personal views of beautiful houseboats along the Fremont Canal. Seaplanes so close I could almost touch them. Heavy industry purring away near Fremont. Beer brewing at Hale’s. Crew shells gliding by. New students and parents orienting themselves on the UW campus. The gorgeous view of the city from atop the hill at Gasworks Park. And best of all, lots of happy, healthy, smiling people on the trail.

I still don't understand the obsession with the Tour de France, and I don't know if I ever will, but I do know that cycling is back up on top of my list of favorite things.

I know it sounds cliché in an eco conscious town like Seattle, but get out of your car and hit the trail as soon as you can. It's pure joy on two wheels!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

One year ago today, I found out that my great part-time PR job at Starbucks was becoming full-time. It was the day we were leaving for a two-week vacation in Tahoe, which was supposed to be relaxing but instead I was preoccupied with this decision I had to make -  if I wanted to ramp up to full-time or do something else. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make but ultimately I decided that flexibility and maintaining my work-life balance were my biggest priorities. Fortunately it was a decision I got to make... and it has been the right one for sure. The time with Sofia is flying by and I know I won’t get it back.  Plus, I have a lot of other passions I want to explore, so it ended up being a blessing in disguise. (Thank you Starbucks!)

It was a big adjustment for me after working at a "job" my whole adult life. I have found that being a mom is the hardest and most fulfilling job I have ever had. It has been a "learning year" for sure. I have learned to have more patience, to be more flexible, to go with the flow, to have more faith, to breathe when I’m stressed, and to cherish this special time with Sofia.

I have been doing a ton of soul-searching as well as I navigate this transition. Today I’ve been reflecting on the last year. Here are some of the highlights:

·        I launched this blog a month after leaving Starbucks as a creative outlet and a way to explore my passions. It’s brought me such joy to express myself in this way and to know that I’m inspiring others to explore what feeds their soul.
·        I’ve met many amazing new friends and business contacts and reconnected with old ones, including a woman I worked for in high school who is now my first consulting client.  My life has been greatly enriched by each of these relationships. After all, that’s what life’s all about, right?
·        I wrote my own personal mission statement – and I’m living by it.
·        I started studying color. Through a fortuitous connection made by branding guru Tim Girvin, I ended up taking an intensive four-day color/design workshop from the world’s leading color expert. It was an amazing experience, to say the least. A blog post is in the works about that experience.  
·        I’ve greatly benefited from the guidance of my career coach. Thank you Cindy!
·        I made monthly dinners with my mom a priority.
·        I walk as often as I can in the Washington Park Arboretum near our house. I call it my “free therapy.”
·        I led the rebranding of Sofia’s preschool and chaired the school’s 20th reunion celebration.
·        I started going to church again. It has provided a place of solace and guidance during this time of transition.
·        I’ve had more bandwidth to be there for friends and family who are going through challenging times.
·        I launched a product (Glove Box Greetings) and pitched it to a potential manufacturer. Stay tuned on that front.
·        I’ve started my own business: Fleurish Partners, a boutique marketing and communications firm that helps specialty brands thrive. (More on that in the fall when I officially launch it.)
·        I’ve spent a lot of quality time at my favorite “third place”: Volunteer Park CafĂ©.
·        I’ve taken up an old hobby (calligraphy) and started a couple of new ones (photography and water coloring).
·        I joined Twitter, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
·        I started planning my husband and my joint 40th birthday party for later this year.

Wow, it’s been a busy, wonderful year. It certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park (although I have had many of those) but I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself and life and that I’m living more fully. It takes a lot of energy to figure out what you want to do when you grow up.  I can hardly wait to see how much I grow, learn and change in the coming year.

In the meantime, I’m unplugging and heading to Tahoe for two weeks of bliss and tranquility. I leave you with this wonderful quote a friend shared with me yesterday:

"Don't push the river - it flows by itself."

It’s a great reminder that life flows and we’re not really in control. I find that the more I go with the flow, the more I get out of life and things seem to fall into place just as they should.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Garden Party

Yesterday my mom and I attended an Art Walk and Garden Party at Dunn Gardens. This little-known garden is 10 acres of beauty nestled in the Broadview neighborhood of North Seattle. I had never heard of the gardens (much less the neighborhood!) and was delighted when my mom invited me to this afternoon Garden Party. What a civilized, grown-up thing to do on a Sunday afternoon!

The plot was designed in the early 1900s by the famous Olmstead Brothers of Massachusetts who are well-known for Central Park and our own Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle.  There are three modest homes on the property nestled into the beautiful landscape that has views of Puget Sound. When the clouds finally disappeared yesterday, Dunn Gardens sparkled.

The first line on the homepage of the Dunn Gardens website sums up this treasured spot perfectly:

“As the narrow drive to Dunn Gardens winds through towering Douglas firs, suburban Seattle recedes, and the pace slows down.”

Indeed, our pace did slow down yesterday for a few hours while we sipped chilled Sauvignon Blanc and wandered through the garden paths and admired beautiful art from 26 local artists. Here I share some of my favorite art, flowers and vistas with you. Enjoy!

Dunn Gardens offers docent-led tours April through October (except August). Fall and spring are the best times to visit for color.  Visit their website for more information.