Tag Archives: Adventures

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie.

free people miss american pie 1There have been three or four times since I turned eighteen when my life came to a major crossroads and every single time, before I hit that crossroad, before I even saw that fork in the road coming, a certain song followed me everywhere. It haunted me in the way that good songs do but also in a way that was impossible to ignore. The song was Don McLeans’s American Pie.

I am not a person who believes in “signs” like this but maybe I have started to believe that God makes sure I hear it, a gentle early warning device. Let me explain.

The first time it happened I had just turned eighteen. Back then, a clock radio woke me up each morning and in one week I heard crackle and static and the words: “A long, long time ago/I can still remember how that music used to make me smile/And I knew if I had my chance/That I could make those people dance/And maybe they’d be happy for a while.” Each morning I blinked my eyes open like a struggling baby owl, the song starting in a different place, and thought only: how weird, but at least it’s a good song to start the day.

The next week it continued to wake me up and followed me on the car radio when I drove to and from school and friends’ houses. I could not get away from it. “Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry and good ole boys were drinking whiskey n’ rye singing this’ll be the day that die…”

It got to the point where I honestly wondered if it did mean something. Was I going to die? That sounds dire but if you know the background of the song it wasn’t that farfetched (except that this whole story is farfetched) and this song was following me everywhere I went.

Slowly, though, it faded away and all of a sudden some major decisions that would affect the trajectory of my life came into view. I forgot about the song. There were bigger things to worry about. I made good choices and I made bad choices. But there can be no regrets because they led me here and God was and still is good. I put the song out of my mind because I simply forgot about the way it followed me around.

Until several years later when I heard it two days in a row and I remembered that brief time in my life and a buzz started inside of me. “No,” I thought. “This can’t mean anything.”

Did you write the book of love/And do you have faith in God above/If the Bible tells you so?/Now do you believe in rock and roll?/Can music save your mortal soul?/And can you teach me how to dance real slow?”

Again, the song haunted me. It’s a song that makes me both happy and sad. It makes me want to sing along, and to dance, and feel nostalgic all at the same time. It has no particular personal meaning except for what I am explaining here. And yet, again after a few weeks of hearing it everywhere I turned, it faded away abruptly. In its wake, I was left with big career questions, and I ended up across the country in San Francisco.

There have been other, smaller times where it’s followed me that have been precursors to something. But to be honest, it has gotten to the point that when I do hear it, my ears perk up and my soul feels like an antenna. I wonder: is something about to happen?

I was talking to one of my best friends this weekend as she celebrated her Bridal Shower and she was a mix of emotions. At one point, I said, “In simple terms, a new part of your life is beginning and an old part of your life is ending. It has to end in order for the new to be born and so, of course, your emotions are all over the place.” On the way home from the Bridal Shower weekend in the country, guess what song I heard?

I happened to be caravanning with her younger sister for part of the long ride home, who would shortly after the song ended, take the fork opposite me to go back down to school where she will graduate in a week–a part of her life has to end in order for the new part to be born–and as I sang along with the words I wanted to cry.

Here are two of the Miss American Pies in question aka Free People models:free people miss american pie

“I met a girl who sang the blues/And I asked her for some happy news/But she just smiled and turned away/I went down to the sacred store/Where I’d heard the music years before/But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.”

Because being at a crossroads is the same thing as something ending in order for something new to be born. I was tenderhearted to leave my good friend, only to see her in a month at her wedding, and to say goodbye to her sister, who is at a particular crossroads I remember well. I wondered what was to come for all of us, not in scary way and not an exciting way. But where would be in a year? In two? In ten?

At the same time, I was reminded that some things don’t change but evolve into something rooted so firmly and completely that despite endings and beginnings, that one thing remains perfect with all its imperfections–like the love and devotion between sisters like these. So very many things will change in our lives and if we want to grow, we will change with them. And yet what remains is something altogether marvelous in its simplicity like a spring sunset and strong like the heaviest of anchors.

But then I started singing Bye, bye Miss American Pie…

Love,

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P.S. The part that is strange this time is that I don’t have a car because I live in the city and therefore don’t listen to the radio. I choose the music I listen to and so the one time I drive for an extended period of time, the song came on. Life is a mixture of the bitter and sweet which is perhaps why the song itself is such a catchy tune and yet tells the story or allegory of the death of three musicians in a plane crash.

P.P.S. I could take pictures of these two gorgeous gals any day of the week. In fact, I just want them to play dress up and let me take photos of them.

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Things To Do in Portland.

portlandpinEver since I moved to San Francisco for two years, there has been a desire to experience parts of this country I never considered before. Sure, I have a deep an abiding love for Italy, a place that I will always return to and a place that will never leave me. But before SF, I didn’t even realize I had this ignorant view of the United States. I thought it was a lot more homogenous than it is. There are so many parts, so many nooks and crannies, that are completely different from one another. You can’t compare Illinois to Colorado–not subtle ways of life or the scenery. The same goes for Maryland and Arizona or Maine and Southern California. The list goes on. I think you get it. (Yes, I know I was ridiculous. I was also young back then).

Since realizing how ridiculous I viewed traveling within the US, there have been places I have wanted to go. The Pacific Northwest, specifically Portland, was near the top of the list. I had the opportunity to visit for a few days and I took it.

It was a long weekend so here is what I would recommend in a shorter amount of time. So, Things To Do in Portland party people:

1. Powell Bookstore

Before we even left, this was the one place I wanted, no, needed, to visit. It’s an independently owned bookstore that is the size of an entire block. I could have spent an entire day or even days there since I felt like I was coming home to the Mothership. But I spared my companions. I didn’t even take photos because sometimes when I feel I am in a particularly sacred space, I have to turn my blogger brain off and just enjoy it.

This huge bookstore is divided by colors. The Pearl area is a rare books room where I saw books from the 1800’s and the 1500’s. Some were handwritten. You had to leave everything, including other books you were planning on buying, outside the door. If you looked at a book or turned it’s pages, you had to use a special holder to protect the binding. I felt like angels were singing in my ears. It was amazing.

Even if you don’t hear angels singing at the thought of books, this is a place to stop (all the guidebooks say so…therefore, I am not exaggerating).

2. Multnomah Falls

Don’t go chasing waterfalls…Or in this case do. If you continue down Historic Route 30 (no one warned us that the drive isn’t easy…I wouldn’t say that it is as hard as some of the drive in Colorado but it is by no means a straight shot) you’ll find several waterfalls where people pull off and take pictures. If you can and like to hike there are some great trails with incredible view both of the falls and the forest.portland2

The light was beautiful here. It was actually green. I felt as if I was in enchanted forest. The last waterfall is actually Multnomah and there is a bridge where you can get even closer to the falls (in one of the next photos below, my aunt has her hands in the air so you can see her). If you want to really immerse yourself in the scenery of the Pacific Northwest, do this.portland3

3. Vista House and Historic Route 30portland8

For the perfect overhead view of this enchanted forest, you have to go to the Vista House.portland7

It’s actually the first stop on the Historic Route 30 which will later lead to the falls. On the day we happened to go, the actual house was closed because the wind was crazy. I mean, it was crazy which makes me think they should have left the house open so all these people weren’t trying not to get blown away on this major peak. But the views…portland6 portland5You could actually see people windsurfing:portland4

4. Cannon Beachportland11

Cannon Beach is about 45 minutes away from Portland proper. It’s this picturesque seaside town (in fact, right beside it is a town called Seaside). The buildings, which include cute shops and restaurants, have a Cape Cod feel to them.portland12

The beach is my idea of paradise (I happen to love winter beaches…more on that and more photos coming Thursday). We sat on a piece of driftwood for quite some time taking in the huge rocks and the pacific ocean and the many joyful dogs. It may have been my favorite spot (again, more on Thursday on why a quiet beach can be just what the doctor ordered).portland9

I don’t know that man in the above photo but he seemed so quintessentially Portland.

5. Pittock House

I was skeptical about this place but man, you can see all of Portland. On a clear day (which it wasn’t), you can see Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helen’s, and Mount Rainer. portlandpretty

It’s also an incredible house. The Matriarch and Patriarch both took the Oregon Trail separately, eventually met, and married. It’s so beautiful and must have been so expensive. I was just imagining the game the Oregon Train and oxen fording the river and snake bites leading to this. Wow.portland13Plus the house kind of reminded me of the one in Psycho. Anyone? Bueller?

Have you been to Portland? I don’t know what else we could have jammed into our time although I really wish we would have done a food truck day. But what did you love about Portland?

Oh, Darlings. Let’s be Adventurers!

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A New Adventure.

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This may be very difficult to write or very easy. Let’s hope for easy, okay? Bear with me. I started this blog because I love to write. I believe God put me on this earth to write (among other things). I also happened to have a great story–moving across the country from my family, the only one to ever leave Chicago, to San Francisco. I was exploring a new city, a new life, a new state. Life was a great adventure. In moving, I learned that and I wanted to live that way no matter my address.

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Sorry to bury the lead but here is the big news: I’m moving back to Chicago. By the end of May. Yes, you read that correctly.

In July of last year, this happened. I was an Account Executive in Sales. I hit my number every month but I am racehorse (that post explains me very well). I measured my quality of life based on my number. If I had a bad day in sales, it was a bad day and life was bad. My number was my measuring stick when I should have been confident in the fact that I am God’s. He bought me with a price, and because of Jesus, there is no measuring stick. But like I said, when this happened, I stopped handling my stress well, though I continued to hit my number. Perfectionism and Performance…major issues for me, for sure.SONY DSC

By the holidays I was a mess. I felt pulled in a million directions. I was sad. My health was very poor. I left the company on great terms and went home to Chicago to spend a month with my family and with my aunt. One question I kept asking myself was: should I return to SF? By the end of my trip, with a lot of prayer, the answer was yes. You are not finished in San Francisco.SONY DSC

I proceeded to go through a huge personal growth spurt. February was spent with a lot of visitors and in March I started the job search on my own. You see, I’ve always known that God means for me to be a writer–in some capacity. I looked for marketing roles, editorial roles, Social Media roles, Community Leader roles. The timing and the fit was never right so I went to a recruiter. They sent me to the sales recruiter and she had eight jobs to send my resume in for right away. And let’s be honest, in order to afford rent in this city, Sales was the way to go. So I just went with it.a648eab9ca0ddd574d5f3c4714bee554via

Each of the companies had about four to five rounds which required me to act out everything from Shark Tank to presenting myself as a yoga studio to a software company (I know). It was exhausting and draining. This week I was in the final rounds for all of them. It should have been exciting. But I kept asking myself: “What am I doing?” The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. Did I want to be in Sales? I am an achiever by nature so put a challenge in front of me and I will go after it and get it. Even if my gut is saying….what are you doing?

I went home for Easter–to Chicago–prepared to soak up time with my family. In a few short days, some things clicked into place. It was no longer a question of SF or Chicago. God gave me an answer and in the meantime, in the waiting, a second wasn’t wasted as I trusted Him in the process.


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I’ll be honest…Suddenly a lot of things started to happen (I’m going to keep some things private) which made it clear that I had to start praying about what and why I was in SF. Let’s just say through a series of things, God made it clear that I need to go back to Chicago, to start another adventure. I need to go back and I want to go back. Chicago vs. San Francisco has been a question I have been asking since the holidays but up until very recently and with some things changing, I didn’t have any clarity. This past weekend, when I was in Chicago, clarity hit me like a ton of bricks. Clarity feels so good.8f2b98d986bd6fafad575289ff960283via

I have to laugh because obviously before this post, I let friends and family know. My favorite response was from a friend: Congrats on the life epiphany, from someone who has also tried and failed to sell out. Please know that my friend is a great writer but she was in a different field other than Sales. Sales does not equal selling out! Selling out equals doing something you know is wrong for you, even if you are good at it, even if it is lucrative.

I won’t lie: I will miss San Francisco a lot. I learned so many things about myself here. I learned how to depend on the Lord for every need and how to be independent. I also fell in love with California. I met some great people. In that sense, there is a bit of loss. I reread some of my entries and found myself profoundly nostalgic: California is Always a Good Idea, The Truth about Adventures, San Francisco Details, If it’s the Beaches, Happy Trails to You, #IheartSF, Until the Sun Comes up Over Santa Monica Boulevard, California Christmas, One, The Legacy of Adventures, You aren’t any Part a Little Girl anymore, How to Move Across the Country, The Truth about Adventures: Mortification, Who’s Got it Better than us?, I need a Bedand I probably Still Heart SF.

I don’t regret my time in San Francisco. In fact, I feel the farthest thing from regret. I don’t feel like I am giving up either. Instead, I feel like my time here, right now, is at a close and I want to finish well. SONY DSC

But knowing I am supposed to be in Chicago makes me feel confident. As soon as I decided to trust this new plan, I felt such relief…as if I was releasing a huge breath I’d been holding for months. I love Chicago and always have (the weather, however…). I’m excited for what is to come. Since middle school, I have wanted to live in the city proper and now, I am trusting God that I will be soon. (In the meantime, I will be staying with family in the ‘burbs.)SONY DSCThis is a map on my Gallery Wall in SF. 

I’ll be back in Chicago by the end of May. Hard to comprehend. Hard to imagine. I’ve already started making the biggest to do list of my life. This will be a much different move than the first one to San Francisco because that happened in stages and my parents helped a lot. We basically organized everything beforehand and I would tell my mom or my dad, “Please send me a, b, c…” This one will be all me and I am not exactly known for my packing skills nor my organizations skills. But honestly, I can say I am not overwhelmed. I feel invigorated because I know and trust this is right. I attacked packing and purging yesterday with gusto. Sure, it’s like using a pick on an iceberg but still…Yesterday I accomplished more than I have in a long time and today looks like it should be the same. SONY DSCOnly the Beginning of the to do list. I took the photograph before it was in its current state which is four pages. And counting.

So now that I’ve filled you in, I need your help. Any packing tips? Do you know anyone or know someone who knows someone who knows a business or company where you could refer me for a creative role, a marketing role, a writing role, an editorial role, etc in Chicago? I am the hardest worker and I don’t mind proving myself. Like I said, I love a challenge.

Will you pray for me? Will you pass on packing tips? And will you also help me find a job in Chicago?

Love you dearly,

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Winter in Napa.

SONY DSCMy dad visited me for twenty four hours and we spent a lot of those hours in Napa. It was my first time there and I found myself falling more in love with the Bay Area and missing Italy at the same time. This actually happens more often than I expected–both of those feelings. For example, we started the day at Blue Bottle Coffee and that is the closest coffee I’ve tasted to what you will find in Italy and, warm in my hand, beneath a gray sky threatening to rain, I found myself so thankful to be in San Francisco and missing Italy. Missing Italy is a chronic condition I have, akin to bones aching when it’s damp, so I am used to it and not at all used to it at the same time. It’s there, all the time, no matter where I am. The same things I love about San Francisco are the same things that I miss about Italy.SONY DSCI wore my Hunters because the sky and the weatherman said it was going to rain but it ended up being the most beautiful day. If you’re going to wine country (Sonoma or Napa), I recommend doing a tour. Most of the time, I hate tours. Let me be more clear. I actually loathe them. Almost as much as I hate scavenger hunts. I like to explore and adventure on my own in what I feel to be an authentic way but with wine country, someone does the driving for you, facilitates the timing of everything, and teaches you things you would otherwise not know in way which does not annoy (Yes, I usually find tour guids annoying). Who wants to actually be thinking of logistics when wine tasting? Usually the fees for the tastings are even included. Perhaps most importantly, it’s just safer not to drive yourself.SONY DSCWhen I visited Sonoma with my mom in July, the grapes were luscious on the vine. This time, in winter, the vines are dormant. Apparently, in wine making, the goal is to basically come as close to killing the vines as possible without actually allowing them to die. This makes the best wine. The French say you want “to make the vines suffer.”

Still, even in winter, the landscape is incredible. When it comes to varying types of beauty, the Bay Area cannot be beaten, pure and simple. I apologized to my dad (who came in from Chicago): “Sorry for this winter weather.” Obviously, this was a joke. SONY DSCIt felt surreal to be swirling red wine in a glass next to my dad, to sit next to him on the bus and giggle over something stupid. I wonder when it will feel normal–to live across the country from my family, to be an adult when with my parents. Does that ever go away? Should it?

California, specifically San Francisco offers an adventure just an hour and half away, in Napa. We were transported. SONY DSCHere is a tip I learned: when wine tasting, if you find a wine you love, and you are in a position to buy it, buy it–even if you have more wineries to visit yet. I fell in love with the first wine I tasted on this Napa trip. I am a child who enjoys fruity and sweet wines, with notes of watermelon and peach (yeah, I am cool and mature like that). This first one I tasted was perfect. My dad said, “Really?? The first one?” Here is the thing, the heart wants what the heart wants. I was open to buying more throughout the trip but for me, nothing topped that first bottle. So I am glad my dad graciously got me some. And I am also glad that I was right and insisted that was the one I wanted.SONY DSCMy dad on the other hand loves a dry red wine–the dryer the better. He actually likes to make a face as if he is chewing on the wine (his words, not mine). So his favorite wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon. We tried a great one, again at the first winery–Franciscan. Let me just tell you that wine is a science and art. How they create the layers of taste is incredible. It’s also a rich person’s business. These places were incredible.SONY DSCMario Andretti? The race car driver? I loved his winery because I felt like I was in Italy (again, the ache that is always there). We ate lunch here and made friends. The next day my dad took an early flight home and without these pictures or the two bottles of wine in my fridge , it would be hard to believe we went to Napa. Maybe I dreamed it all during a nap-a.SONY DSCBut I didn’t dream it. That’s one thing that has been amazing about leaving my family–the adventures we take together would have been impossible if I stayed in Chicago. If I stayed in Chicago, we would never discover our favorite hotel in Newport Beach. Ava would never experience Disneyland (we were always a Disney World family). My mom and I wouldn’t see Bulgari jewels or Sonoma. We wouldn’t eat some of the best meals of our lives together, in a city, in a state, we are all discovering together. It always makes me happy when they can come out here and see how I do life. It’s the small things–drinking Blue Bottle Coffee together or showing him how hard it is to catch a cab in the rain–that allow them to drink up life with me from a far. And it’s the big things too–like a trip to Napa–adventures we will talk about forever. Remember that time…?

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Happy Trails to You

On Friday, I mentioned I would be hiking for my birthday and I received all sorts of texts and calls asking me: what? where? you? Yes, me. I don’t know what is so strange about it….just because I have never hiked before. “Never?” Alissa asked me.

I told her: “I’m sure that I walked through nature before but never with the purpose of hiking.”

Whatever. I definitely plan on getting Alissa back later in the week with a whole new segment to this blog called “California Girls.” It’s going to just be quotes that only girls born and raised in California would ever say. (Example: Isn’t there like a river in Chicago? Yes but I think you’re talking about Lake Michigan. So when you’re at the lake, is there sand? Yes, there is sand. So, do you call it the beach? Yes, what else would you call it? *hysterical laughter* There’s sand and water and waves so what would you call it? *laughs hysterically*) Tip of the iceberg, people.
Nonetheless, it has become tradition that Lis and I do something outside the city for my birthday. We are Lucy and Ethel. We are Thelma and Louise. We are…dumb and dumber. So yes, this year: we hiked.SONY DSC
We went up these hills and on the other side found the ocean. I’ll show you that later in the week, along with some California Girl quotes.
SONY DSCI took a picture of this because LITERALLY in the Bay Area, dogs are in the supermarket, dogs are next to me in restaurants but we are outside in nature and no dogs allowed. Explain this to me. ??????
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Bambi.SONY DSC
I still have these moments where I cannot believe I live here. The hills alone are shocking to a girl from Illinois (not a joke) and when you add in the beach and water and cliffs…It’s surreal and I don’t know if it ever stops being surreal.
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I look at this photograph and I can’t believe that I am a part of this, that this isn’t a postcard.SONY DSC
It’s awfully hard to get it through my thick skull that this is my second birthday spent on the shore of the pacific ocean.SONY DSC
Until we meet again,
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