When I set out to write this post, I didn’t imagine I’d find myself on such a long and winding path of memories and reflection. I was naïve in my estimation that it’d take me a mere few hours to complete. What I didn’t count on was how much time I’d spend rediscovering and reconnecting with so many personal, national, and global moments that span the spectrum of highs and lows. The post that follows isn’t about the lows, though. Instead, it’s gratitude for the year’s personal highs, many of which were immense and singular. If I’d been more present with the blog this year, I’d have shared them sooner. The silver lining of their delay, for me at least, is that I am reminded of how many new and joyous experiences I had this year.
1. Galapagos Trip
For the past two years we’d saved for a trip to the Galápagos Islands and yet we very nearly missed our window. We booked this once-in-a-lifetime trip with just about a month to prepare. It was worth the scramble, though. It exceeded my dreams every day and every moment. There wasn’t a moment of excursion when we weren’t surrounded by wildlife – wildlife that captivated us but that showed little interest in return. At times we were just feet away from iguanas, blue-footed boobies, seals, many of Darwin’s finches, and the oh-so-famous tortoises. It was beautiful, magical, and fueled with me wonder for months to follow.
2. Otavalo Day Trip
On the last day of our trip to Ecuador, we booked a tour to Otavalo, a town made famous for its many handcrafted wares. In the market of Otavalo we spent less than 20 minutes. It was rather disappointing as much of the goods didn’t feel particularly unique. But the journey to and from Otavalo was worth the trip alone. We wound along the PanAmerican highway up and through the Andean mountains. We stopped at a rose plantation, where we were hosted for tea by a member of the family who owns and operates it. In Peguche, we were welcomed into the home of a master flutist who played a pan flute he had handcrafted just moments before. We had lunch at an hacienda and walked through private gardens overflowing with tillandsia. It was a full yet quiet day where we got to enjoy the beauty of another place and people.
3. 10th Anniversary in Maui
It hardly seems possible that 10 years have passed since my guy and I first started dating. It all started on a Thanksgiving in grad school when were both school-bound. We went to see Beowulf, an epically bad movie, and ate sweet potato casserole. For some reason that combo took us from friends to romance and we’ve never looked back. To celebrate our staying power, we decided, again on little notice, to spend our anniversary in Maui. We did a few activities including surfing for him, spa for me, and snorkeling for both, but the best parts were when we did nothing at all. Maui’s beauty invites you to slow down and enjoy the little things, like the sounds of ocean waves or the chattering of birds waking up, and we did just that.
4. Women’s March
Never in my life have I been a part of something so monumental as The Women’s March on January 21, 2017 in Washington, D.C. With two colleagues we took the train down from NYC for the day and joined the throngs of other women to celebrate, protect, and proclaim our rights, values, and voices. The crowds were so large and dense we didn’t get to hear or see much of the main stage (until later on YouTube) but being a part of that crowd – united, positive, and supporting – was profound. In a few short weeks I’ll be joining the March again, this time in Las Vegas, for the one year anniversary.
5. Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
On a whim, we decided to go to Disney World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in October. I was going to be in Orlando for work and so we decided to take the opportunity to stay a few extra days. Both of us had only been there once before during our childhood, nearly 30 years earlier. We had fun taking an obscene number of souvenir photos – more couples photos in five days than the past 10 years combined. The rides and food were an adventure, too, notably the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot where we sampled food from around the world. Quite possibly the best part, though, was retracing and comparing our spotty childhood memories, each one becoming slightly more clear with each park and each ride.
6. Craft Adventures
I started tinsel + trim more than five years ago in order to encourage more time to create and make. The blog hasn’t always reflected that goal with long spans of time in between posts. Offscreen, though, I’ve had many occasions to make, explore, and create. In April, I went to my second Sweet Paul Makerie with Krafty Kath. There I made abstract botanical art, a bound book, and a floating ship with Ann Wood. I learned the practice of Shibori, Japanese dying, with The Field Trip Society and Moo-Young in Seattle. Workshops with Mary Anne Moodie and Rose Pearlman taught me the basics of weaving and punch needle tapestries, respectively. Finally, while I have no aspirations of becoming a chef or baker, I have enjoyed classes at the Pantry at Delancey, where I get to hear great stories while eating heavenly food.
Select photos courtesy of The Makerie.
7. Los Angeles Trip
In July, I met my high school best friend on her turf in Los Angeles. The trip centered around the FYF Fest, where none other than Missy Elliott and Tribe Called Quest performed. We braved the throngs of millenials to see Missy’s first concert in a decade and what I would learn too late was TCQ’s last concert ever. They were both incredible, playing all their classics and being unabashed about their age and experience among so many younger artists and audiences. Missy casually dropped that Janet Jackson and Beyonce were backstage. It didn’t fully sink in that I was breathing the same air as them until the next day when I saw confirmation on Instagram! The time before and after the festival was filled with great food, including horchata doughnuts from Trejo’s. My friend also arranged for us to go to an event at The Church of Type where we heard first-hand from the letterpress master and got to make and take a souvenir print of our own.
8. Career and Self Development
This year was a marathon investment in my career and what would also turn out to be an investment in myself. I worked with a career coach for several months trying to uncover what qualities and values I need to feel fulfilled. At work, I started with a second coach who is more focused on my success within the company. I took multiple evaluations from personality to conflict dynamics to work preferences. Never before have I had so many external data points on who I am, how I work, and how others perceive me. I’ll continue to learn from all this but already I feel more confident than ever about who I am and what I need to having meaning in my 9 to 5 and beyond. On top of all this, I also had the great privilege of speaking at the Grace Hopper Conference in October. It’s a technology conference attended by 18,000 women. In an industry wrought with challenges and controversy around equity and inclusion, being among so many emerging and experienced women technologists is inspiring and encouraging, to say the least.
Select photos courtesy of the Anita Borg Institute.
9. Work hard, play hard
My job requires that I travel a fair amount. Most of the time its to the headquarters in New York but not always. These trips tend to mean long hours and different time zones which leaves me tired and deflated. To combat this, I would often spend my evenings in quiet respite at the hotel. This year, I tried something different. I filled my evenings and the times in between work with activities – little pockets of adventure – that would give me something for which to look forward. This shift in behavior and perspective led me to two broadway plays, museums, botanical gardens, holiday markets, and great meals. I even managed to squeeze in a trip with colleagues to the Everglades for a sunset ride among alligators. Most surprising – I was less tired than when I did nothing at all.
10. Everyday Wonder
In between the above adventures were the everyday moments that really shape the quality of one’s life. For me, spending time with my guy, snuggling on the couch with my cats, or having a good meal are the best ways to spend a day. Naps are also great ways to spend one’s day. Closer to home, I got to fulfill a years-long goal of attending the Antiques Roadshow in Portland. I even got to see all my favorite appraisers! I tried poke for the first time and I’m hooked! One Saturday, a colleague and I spent the day making 12 badass baby onesies for a gift. At other times, grilling on a warm summer day, seeing the Kusama exhibit, volunteering with animals, or listening to the wisdom of HRC made an otherwise ordinary day extraordinary.
This is quite possibly the longest post I’ve ever written. If you made it this far, I’m impressed. If not, it was still a worthy journey for me. It reminded me of all the moments and people for whom I am so thankful. If 2018 is half as good, it’ll still be a great year.