Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 in Sunsets

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The year started with the most epic of sunsets, a West Coast sunset over the Pacific. Check off the list. There were sunsets over the water, from plane windows, those with mountain silhouettes or cityscapes, the ones where the sun turns the clouds into a canvas. They were all different, all unique, and each one was beautiful. 

Los Angeles
Sunsets are symbols for so many things. Every day the sun goes down, sometimes it's hidden by clouds or storms, sometimes it's more vibrant than others, but more days than not, there's beauty in the sky right before night settles in.

Amelia Island, Florida
Chateau Morrisette, Virginia
This year I've been reminded of the seasons of life, which are much like the stages of a day: light, warmth, vibrancy, darkness, then light trickles in all over again. The vibrant moments, like a sunset, might be short lived but it's intense and awe-inspiring. It gives you the courage to get through the dark and it wouldn't mean as much if it weren't ushering in the night. The light and the dark are in perfect balance.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Boston

From the sky 

We tend to notice them more or take the time to feel their beauty whenever we're on vacation. The sun goes down every day though. Those sunsets have been some of the best, whether on the drive home, while shopping, or on a walk. Even on an ordinary day life can be pretty spectacular, just look up.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harker's Island, North Carolina

Roanoke, Virginia
So all of this was to say that 2016 was full of some amazing sunsets.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2017, I can't wait to see the best sunset you have in store.














Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Most Christmassy of Days

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Am I the only one who has had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year? I know we always talk about how fast time flies but this year it seriously felt like I blinked, and it went from being July to December, with only a few weeks away from Christmas and the New Year. It wasn't so much that I was feeling the opposite of festive, I was just more resisting the fact that the season was here already and 2017 was coming along with it.
 
Traditions ground you though, and besides the regular holiday traditions my mom and I have made going to Philadelphia somewhat of a December tradition. This year was no different. We're always there on what seems to be the coldest weekend of the year. We changed it up slightly this time however, flying into Trenton, New Jersey instead and spending Friday and the first part of Saturday in Princeton.

Princeton really does Christmas well. It's a gorgeous and cozy town on its own, but even better with all the holiday trimmings. We started off Saturday morning at the Morven Museum and Garden. It's an 18th century estate that has guided house tours and a wonderful garden. We went on a day when they were having a special event with Santa that we were much too old for, so unfortunately we weren't able to see inside the house. If the outside was any indication of how the inside was decorated, we really missed out.





The town's main square was done up beautifully as well. We stopped by there after spending a few hours at Princeton University. Carolers set the mood as they performed by the storefronts. Garland and holly were everywhere. It was freezing, but even that was kind of nice. Christmastime is supposed to be cold.




The festiveness continued in Philly. We got there right after sunset and headed to Penn's Landing for Winterfest when we finished having dinner at our inn. They have ice skating and every form of winter joy imaginable. Fire pits can be used to warm up or roast marshmallows from the s'more packs you can purchase. Hot chocolate and cider are on sale as well. Everything looks like it belongs in a skiing lodge, and it's all decked out for Christmas. You can even rent little cabins by the hour in case all of that wasn't enough. So much spirit.






We stayed at the Morris House Hotel by Washington Square Park. Every inch of the hotel was done up perfectly for the holiday. Having breakfast by the fire on Sunday morning was the best way to end the weekend. The company was pretty stellar too.





Here's to traditions and to getting into the holiday spirit!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

IN THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS (ON BELONGING)

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Every fall, right around when the leaves begin to change. I take a trip west with my family to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. We do this several times a year but there's something about this trip that feels extra special, it feels like coming home. Those mountains are in my blood, so maybe that's why I feel a sense of belonging there.




Merriam Webster defines this type of belonging as a close or intimate relationship, having familiarity or an inseparability. Where we come from cannot be separated from the person that we are. It's always with us, even as we're running away from it.

"The hardest step she ever took was to blindly trust in who she was." -Atticus

A huge part of existence is centered around belonging. Where are our places? Who are our people? What do we have to give to this world that makes us belong?




It's interesting that the place I get this home sense from isn't actually where I grew up. The mountains were always a break from back home. It's where I could be a carefree child swimming in creeks. It was family reunions, picnics, and hiking. As I became older it was more about the landscape, the vistas and the waterfalls, the stunning colors of autumn. Also the people, it's always been the people. 4th of July with the family in the park and my grandparents' stories of their childhood here, that's what makes me belong.




Belonging is where you feel at peace, where you can show up exactly as you are and that's okay. These are our people. These are our places. Peace.




The mountains are my peace.