An outro, a prelude

We had two plans to close out the end of summer. #1: camping. #2: visiting a lighthouse and basking in the sun on a sandy shore.

The first was easy, there are plenty of places to camp in the middle of the Midwest. The latter is a bit more difficult. However, there is a place in Indiana where both a lighthouse and a sandy shoreline co-exist: Indiana Dunes in Michigan City. 

Michigan City is the only point where Indiana touches Michigan Lake and contains real beaches that were, in my opinion, better than Florida beaches. So on Sunday morning we packed our car, stopped by Jack’s Donuts to get some dough for the road (and two coffee because what’s a road trip without coffee?), and by 9:30 am we started off on our grand adventure north. 

The drive really wasn’t that bad and felt way faster than three hours. Most of the drive was through cornfields with wide-open skies. At 12:00 pm, we made it. I couldn’t wait to get to the dunes and see the expanse of lake that seems for a split second like ocean. We only stayed at the beach for about two hours, but I could’ve sunbathed the entire day. As soon as you crossed over the sand hills and saw the lake, wind brushed up against my skin like a nice hug. Although it wasn’t too crowded, we definitely walked aways down the shoreline to get a good spot of the beach to claim as ours — laying down a turquoise blanket on the beige sand. Before we went to the beach, we stopped in town to get chicken wraps for lunch and more coffee-to-go. We ate on the blanket with seagulls inching close to see if we’d drop any chips (we did).  

The Chicago skyline could be seen from the shore, a gorgeous silhouette of the skyscrapers which held a bustling city in its grasp. We joked that we did what we called “The Full Chicagy.” This summer, we traveled to both the southern and northern edges of Indiana. In August, we visited a little riverfront town, Madison, Indiana, where the Ohio River is the border between our state and Kentucky. Then this past weekend we traveled as north as we could while staying in Indiana’s borders. Hence, “The Full Chicagy” being when you travel to both edges of the state in the same season. We’re very clever. 😉 

Another wonderful thing about Michigan city is the historic lighthouse on the pier. I’ve never seen a lighthouse in person before this trip, and even though it’s no longer a working lighthouse, only there for historic integrity, it lit inspiration inside me. When we walked out on the pier, waves lapping up onto the concrete, splashing us slightly. I couldn’t help but think that it was like a set for a rom-com movie. One where two lovers would be next to each other, walking hand-in-hand towards the lighthouse, sun setting in the distances. I mean that is basically what we did. And it was wonderful. This might seriously inspire me to write something along those lines… but we’ll see where that takes me. 

Nonetheless, I think we had a fairly good end-of-summer, hello-fall trip. Caleb told me that as we were walking away from the lighthouse, he felt that summer was wrapped up right then and there. An outro to what was probably the best summer we’ve lived through. A prelude to the rest of what this year has up its long sleeves, which are many more adventures and warm pumpkin spice lattes. That counts as a pretty good trip in our book. 

Staying Home, No. 1

Staying Home, No. 1

This world is full of uncertainties. I know this, I always have, but within this past week, it has become an abrupt reality to me how quickly things can change in a short timeline. Things that I thought I had control over and now I don’t. The past several days have been hard, honestly, and I’ve been struggling to find words.

So far, the hardest part has been realizing that some of the hugs I gave to the people I care about were going to be the last ones for a while. Also, navigating the uncertainties of where this is all going to lead, the confusing information that keeps changing day-to-day, and wondering how long will it be before society returns to “normal.” But I’m sure you feel the same way. And I hope whoever is reading this is doing their best to stay well and healthy, however possible.

Today marks one week for me that I haven’t left my house. Since last Thursday, I have worked from home (which I’m very thankful to have to that opportunity) and I haven’t been out except for a few walks around my neighborhood. For the following two weeks, my family has decided to stay self-quarantined in our house for the safety of everyone.

Some of my favorite blogs are writing posts multiple times a week about what they’re doing during these odd times. They inspired me to do the same. So for the next two weeks, I will try to write a post a few times a week, featuring the food that I’m cooking, uplifting articles/books I’m reading, music I’m listening to, silly things that I find my pup doing, resources I find, etc. Basically, I wan’t to capture what it means to stay home and settling into this one place.

I might just be talking into the abyss of the internet, getting lost in the noise of everything going on right now. But honestly, I’m always worried about that when I write on this blog. It’s a hurdle I have to jump over every time I start writing and hit the publish button. And since I’ll be in my house for quite a while though, I thought I might as well start up a conversation, offering you to comment and tell me how you’re doing as well. Now more than ever is a time where the internet can a source of connection while being distant.

I hope these little posts can serve a purpose, to offer a small space of distraction and connectedness between ourselves while staying inside. As a writer with this little platform, it’s all that I can think of to do. Comment and share the things you’re doing too, I’d love to hear from you!

A note on wellness

I love essentail oils, so I thought that I would share a few that I’ve been useing these last few days.

Lemongrass — this essential oil has been my favorite for the past week. It’s bright, uplifting, and when diffused it makes my room smell fresh. Plus, it’s benefits are numerous: it’s detoxifying, reduces stress and inflammation, has antioxidant effects, fights the flu or colds, among so many other things.

Thieves — This is a blend of essential oils, consisting of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary. We made this concoction in a spray bottle so we can mist it into the air and spray it on our couch and beds. Not only is does this blend have such a comfoting and warm aroma, but it has so many benifits. Some of which are: boosting the immune system, having antimicrobial activity, fighting nasel and sinus congestion, promoting respiratory and cardiovascular health, energizing or uplifting mood

What’s on my plate

Being at home has been given me some opportunity to cook and be a little creative with what I put on my plate.

This morning was simple, I made myself eggs, clementines, and blueberries (for which my dog sat and begged from me the whole time I was eating.)

I’ve also been working on my latte art skills, where I’ve seen little to no improvement.

A little something related to the news

There has been so much misinformation going around on social media concerning the virus. Every morning, I’ve been trying to listen to the press conferences with the government officials to get my information and updates about where this whole world is going. This morning, I was listening to the Governor of New York’s press conference. Honestly, I was shocked how uplifting and relatively positive he was throughout the whole conference. Also, he took the initiative to say something I think is so relative: “Words Matter, at this point. Words matter.” (49:20)

As a writer, I closely connected with this, but it is so true for everyone at any time. In a time where there is information overload, a lot of us are quantized at home with the internet being our only source connection, the words we use are vital. “I believe communication is important and words are important. Say what you mean…” Along with this statement, he went through and started to define what the words “quarantine,” “isolation,” “shelter-in-place,”‘ and “modified shelter-in-place” (44:03) and how we need to watch the language that we use. I don’t live in New York, but the midwest has closely followed behind some of what the bigger cities are doing. Not only did this ease some of my worries I’ve had lately, but it made me hopeful for the coming weeks. 

Something to listen to

To end today’s little post, here is a playlist I made for the next couple of weeks. I’ll be adding to it every so often when I find songs that are fitting.

I hope throughout these few next days we can all find peace and wellness in our homes. If you have to go out, take safe precaustions and wash your hands. If you are sick, stay strong. We will all get through this together.

What gives you hope?

What gives you hope?

January has stretched its days out far and wide. The new year feels like ages ago. None the less, when I look over the last few weeks, I have been been able to find hope in goodness. Here are just a few good things that have graced this month for me: Gloriously painted skies, coffee get-togethers with friends despite busy schedules, late nights baking even when the following morning is an early one, books that hold sacred words, museum visits, a Friday night swing dancing, picking up family who arrived safely from the airport. 

“What gives you hope?” A new friend asked me this over lattes and it’s been hovering in my mind since. I’ve been asking myself, what does give me hope? Growing up is not always a straight line.  What holds our hearts close to truth and joy? What holds us up when everything seems to be drowning around us? What keeps us alive when we are the ones who are drowning? I think every person, at every corner of the world, no matter what they are going through, is deserving of a little hope, even when all is lost. 

For me, the inevitable place where I find hope is Christ. When I look at this world, even though the tragedy (that I am blessed to not be directly affected by currently), I see his figure prints on everything. It gives me hope to live fully, embracing even pain knocks on the door because there is hope in eternity. But regardless of whether or not you are religious, there are many things around to find hope in.

My friend, the same one who to asked me the question, said she “finds hope when people love each other well”. I totally agree with this. It’s uplifting and wholesome when you see people care for each other, to show up for one another when life can just be so busy and demanding of our attention 

My boss told me once, “when something good happens, celebrate. Celebrate well. The good times will help you get through the hard times.” She told me this after a weekend when she celebrated her nephew’s engagement, but while she was also in a period of extreme challenge for her and her family. 

There is also hope to find in creation. In her book, Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle said, “We can either fall apart in terror of chaos or rejoice in the unity of the created universe.” There is so much chaos around us, but looking deeper into the chaos to discover the cosmos, where beauty is, that what makes life worth living. L’Engle says, “but unless we are creators, we are not fully alive.” 

Although each person finds hope in their own way and in their own time, it’s always there, waiting to be found. It is hanging in the air like a star, its hiding around the corner. Keep a lookout for it’s glistening and shimmer. Even among some of the heavy events that have happened within this past month, hope is still there to have and to hold. 

Life is so fragile, so precious. I’m thankful to be here writing this today. I was looking through my camera roll today to ground me in what is good, what is whole. These photos are some of the ones I found. They make me smile and feel grateful for this life. Sunsets are painted in the sky despite whether or not I take the time to look at them, despite what I did or did not do during the day. Just that fact makes me feel my own aliveness and makes me feel grateful for every breath I am taking. Everything is such a gift. 

Let us love each other well, let us celebrate when good times come, let us create cosmos from chaos. 

Where do you find hope? 

August’s Last Note

The last note to August: a collage containing a handful of my favorite photos from the end of summer. August was a full 31 days, brimming with books and soft pretzels at the state fair, warm letters and coffee, a wonderful boyfriend and puppy lovings. August was a month to discover that my closet is half full of clothes from Target and that I have a knack for playing duckpin bowling. August was a month to say yes to taking the scenic route, to devouring pizza after midnight, to meeting up with old friends, and to eating ramen after yoga class. August was a month for remembering the old, and remembering all that we’ve been given while being thankful for it, both in the past and in the now. August was a month that ended with a sigh of relief, followed by a cheer when the Hoosier’s won the first football game of the season.

Autumn and Coffee and Books

Autumn and Coffee and Books

When I woke up early this morning, there was something different in the air. Maybe it was the fact that over the past week the temperature has dropped several degrees outside and the crips nature of autumn is starting to caress my windows, or maybe it is the strong pumpkin rum candle, the one that I can smell the heavenly scent of throughout the house, even if it’s not lit. 

No matter what it is, I can definitely tell that summer is coming to a close and fall is slipping around the corner.

The other day when I was heading out to my car, I looked down and there were a few leaves, dried and a brittle yellow. Although the majority of the leaves are still clinging to the branches, a vibrant green, within the next month they will be fading as they shout their last hoorah for the end of this decade.

The tree that is out in my front yard is huge and every year I get excited for its change from green to gold. The first year we spent fall here, I had my mom’s orignial Polaroid Spirit 600 that we found film for. I took it everywhere, including down the street where I catpured a picture of the tree in it’s radiant bloom. This little memory is kept forever in the squared-off corners of a piece of film. Although the same phenomenon is bound to return year after year, I have the picture to look at whenever I want to be reminded of it.

Even though fall is almost here, I’ve been trying to pay respects to the last of summer that’s not quite done yet. I picked seven tomatoes off my overly large tomato plant yesterday. I’m excited to get to try out a recipe where I’ll get to use them. Most of the time I just throw whatever I have in the pantry together–pasta, spinach, the garden tomatoes, cheese, and maybe a tad of salt and paper– and eat it like a smorgasbord of whatever sounds good at the time.

Lately, I’ve been working on an article for a magazine I’m freelancing for about specialty fall coffee in my neighborhood. Just on the Southside of Indianapolis alone, there are over ten local coffee shops. Tuesday, I went to six coffee shops in the Greenwood area. Each had it’s own aesthetic, distinguishing itself with key features, even though they all serve a similar purpose: to proved caffeine, drinks, and a place to cultivate community, even if it’s only a handful of strangers.

I love the spirit of coffee shops for this reason, not because they’re hip and cool nowadays, but because they’re spaces for communal existence, work, and to get to know people you otherwise wouldn’t have met.

I’ve met so many of the people in my life, that I wouldn’t have met in any other way, through coffee shops. Bookstores, too. I’ll have to write a whole essay about that sometime. Neadless to say, I’ve been enjoying my work lately, finding real fulfillment in it.

Another new thing: It’s the first of September and I’m taking a detox from social media. Namely, Instagram. September is the start of fall, my favorite season. And in honor of new seasons, I thought that taking a break from the scrolling and liking and constant connection would give me a nice breather. Instead, I’ll take stock of the what this year has so far gifted me. What the rest of this chapter, and the next, will hold. This year is the end of a decade, and next year is the start of a new one.

I deleted the app this morning, and so far I have picked up my phone about ten times and slid past pages of apps until I reached where Instagram used to be. When I don’t find it, it feels refreshing. I can regain control and focus on what I’m dedicating this month too.

While I’m taking this next month off of social media. I hope it’ll give me more time to finish a few books I’ve been flipping through but haven’t finished yet. The first one is When in French, by Lauren Collins and the second one is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. Fiction is definietly a love of mine, but I’ve been attracted to narrative non-fiction lately, it’s what I’ve been craving to write, too.

How about you? What are you planning for the start of fall? Are you reading anything interesting?

P.S. more thoughts about redefining my relationship with social media.