2.28.2020

Frozen Raspberries and Freezer Burnt Ice Cream.

Goals according to the world more often than not do not match up with Grief and it's journey.

It's a funny thing when you write a blog and label yourself as an open book, there are still things that you think are off limits, but the wind of time often turns pages without our realizing.  These words are by far the most vulnerable I have shared on this blog, insight into the deepest part of my heart that has always felt completely crazy and even with years of counseling, yet unresolved.



It's the story of the remnants of an ice cream pie.  It's lived in 6 freezers, one belonging to my best friend who faithfully housed it for two years without hesitation, for that I will be forever grateful.  It's 19yrs old this month.  It was made by my mom.  Lovingly she made it for me the day before she died, she fucking died the day after she made it.  It was to celebrate my 22nd birthday.  Her hands actually touched it.  Her DNA is on it.  This is the dark part of my grief, making me cringe at the thought, and if paused upon too long, ugly sob.  I can't.  I can't let go.  I have a soft goal of someday finding reconciliation in releasing it - but to be totally honest what does that look like?  A blob melting away.  There is nothing beautiful in that.  It's not a bird being set free, or spreading ashes letting them lightly fall where their owner's soul was most content.  It's a runny, sticky mess.  And heart-wrenching.  The shit of a fatal accident, sudden death.  There's no beloved quilt, or video - oh what I would give to hear her voice again.  Just a symbol of her every day devotion to silly old college student me who mostly took that for granted.  I didn't know it would be her last act of love.  In that freezer burned mass is her light and her love, I can't let it go.



So WHY am I sharing this?  Good gosh that is a good frickin question.  I've managed to keep this quiet for 19yrs.  It came in my heart a bit ago.  And my response in my best sassy 5th grader tone was "I'm Good."  But it came again.  And cue the 5th grade sass once again "seriously?!"  all too well knowing it wasn't going to be ignored, and knowing it was time.  

Taking a deep breathe I reminded myself that ignoring Grief does not make it go away, it will not, and will only consume until it's acknowledged.  While honoring grief, giving it space to unfold and be felt and move through me, takes away it's enormity in that moment, and brings life to what was otherwise lifeless.  I have come to trust this process, it doesn't make the pain and longing less, but it does make it easier to step in knowing I will not be overcome by the waves and will most certainly emerge with a deeper sense of myself and my mom.  So begrudgingly I lobbed some prayers up... "I am surely NOT strong enough to expose this to myself or to the world, but God, YOU ARE.  and for the recored I'm not at all on board with this, but I trust you."

As I hesitantly began to pray and meditate on the remnants of my birthday cake, something I never thought possible began to happen, cracks of light broke through into my dark lifeless time capsule. 


I realized that my ice cream pie is also in the heart of our home, the kitchen.  The place I feel most connected to my mom.  Instead of feeling burdened and crazy when my freezer is over-filled and not shutting, I bitch at her and smile to myself as this is the closest I will get to a mother-daughter relationship.  It's cruel humor and sweet reconciliation simultaneously.  


And then in a moment, the significance of frozen raspberries in my freezer unfolded.  They had been on sample at my local grocer and tasted so incredibly nostalgic of the summer spent getting up at the crack of dawn to pick berries with my mom, my first job when we moved to WA, I bought them.  In the quiet of late morning, after the kids had gone to school, pondering what this changing of my heart meant, a huge sob welled up inside me, then that little voice beckoned "be brave, do it, it's not crazy."  With shaky hands I moved the berries next to my pie in the freezer, allowing myself to rest in the knowledge that God has my back and it was time to process this.




And here I am, leaning into this piece of my grief, and surprisingly it is revealing to me a peculiar strength I was completely caught off guard by.  I am gobsmacked every time, how life is always incredibly entwined with itself.  You see, my heart is not handling the current tipping point of parenthood well.  I told Nick last night after a dance moment in Trader Joe's with my child running for cover, that I now embarrass and am not always wanted.  Ouch.  And all at once I am the child who left her family after ice cream pie to go celebrate her 22nd birthday with her friends.  That is a deep guilt I have held on to for 19years packaged tightly in shame.  Seeing this child that is me, as my own child, I begin to understand, and the shame is stripped away.  How could I?  Because I was just a kid, my mom was my foundation, she would be there in the morning just as my child knows this as I dance through TJ's.  I'm a constant, as my mom was a constant up to that point.  (yes, life has shown me otherwise but this is not the "lesson" I want to pass on to my kids.  Rather - it's living and loving into each and every day, not living in fear as if it's your last.)   The significance of this for me is that once the shame is removed, healing can begin.  It's not impenetrable as I had always thought.   And there is the gift of understanding my mom better knowing how she must have felt - happy to send her child off to celebrate and sad to see her go.  I'm all at once more grace-filled with that child inside me and my own children, and closer to my mom.  As I type this my breathe catches.  



This piece is far from reconciled but I've never felt the courage to face it until now.     

Ironically, as I get towards the end of this post I hesitate to share the awakening moments in this process, I did not know where this post was headed when I began writing it many drafts ago.  There have been so many moments in these 19yrs that have been filled with what felt like ugly, crazy, cancerous feelings.  And that was ok, raw, real.  And still is ok.  And is necessary - whether to purge some of the pain or simply to survive through it.  I am sure there will be more.  Each time it's less intense - excruciating is replaced with a dull aching but it still hurts in a way I can never explain to someone who hasn't lost.  To those reading this and thick into grieving please hear that, and know that you are not alone, and that grief happens in it's own time for everyone.  I will type it again, 8 years of professional counseling, a very strong support system that has scraped me off the ground more times than I care to count, and simply time, 19 years learning to trust and listen to that quiet courageous voice.   


Courage in grief shows up in many ways, in the beginning simply getting out of bed, eating a meal regularly, desperately trying to stop the bleeding from injuries unique to every person's grief - for me it was hearing "Happy Birthday" without falling apart,  it all takes amazing amounts of courage, and eventually that quiet steady voice will lead you through the seemingly insurmountable stuff promising healing on the other end.  I have absolutely lived and firmly believe all of this.  




There is no how-to here, but in this sacred space of grief work I have learned the following is what I need, and damnit if I am going to be an open book with this pain process, my hope and prayer is that perhaps this will help another person who is reading this...

GRACE.  To feel, to heal, to take space and to throw in the towel when it's too much, to go to bed early, for goodness sakes leave the dirty dishes.  To snuggle and watch a movie with my kids just because I can't parent in that moment.  To have ice cream for dinner.  To be OK with not being ok.  I am NOT dropping the ball,  I am healing.  It's ok, it's ok, it's ok.  


CARE.  Extra rest when wrestling with big emotions, extra water to replenish the tears.  Fresh-ground peanut butter and really good bread, this sounds silly as I type it but that combo is easy to make and comforts me on all levels, taking care that I am nourishing my body.  Finally the regular physical, emotional and mental release I get from working out.  I have most definitely cried in my workout class more than once.  


SPACE.  it's crawling back into bed after the kids have gone to school to let the quiet clear my mind before I start my day but also blasting that specific playlist bc my heart needs to scream...Andra Day, Lauren Dangle, Lizzo, Taylor, Macklemore, Crowder.  It's both focused journaling and getting lost in the creative process.  Sacred space shows up in all of these places.


SAFETY.  This one means a few things to me.  Accepting my fragility, it's ok to not be thick skinned, to need boundaries in place for relationships, for social media, and for interacting in the world.  Acknowledging that this is temporary helps me to listen to and honor my needs.  It's telling Nick if I just can't, and if needed, seeking counseling.


For me, the transformation process that leads to reconciliation in grief happens in new eyes to see and new ears to hear, and a part of my brokenness mended...I no longer feel like I need to "get rid of" my pie.  Needing to keep this leftover does not mean I'm unhinged, the gut-check that deep down I already knew.   Goals according to the world more often than not do not match up with the grief journey.  While intended for good, and for progress, it just made me feel like I was always failing.  

“Our silence about grief serves no one. We can't heal if we can't grieve; we can't forgive if we can't grieve. We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.”
~Brene Brown, Rising Strong.

I had thought the reason for sharing this process would be to let other people know they are not alone, in publishing these words I feel like I'm going to throw up, which I expected, but I oddly also feel free, and actually gave myself permission to acknowledge the significance of my own present journey,


so thank you so much for reading.
Kirsty


2.17.2020

Always Walk To The End Of The Dock

Winter Romance, 48hrs on Orcas Island.







48hrs, just us.  A quick escape to the islands.  A cozy island inn, amazing food, inspiring local businesses, lots of snuggle time, and walking all the docks.  Time to relax, together.  Taking it all in. 

I have these moments when this little voice inside me whispers "oh my gosh do that!"...and so often it's ignored.  The hustle and bustle of daily grind brushes aside the silly adventures, acts of kindness, moments to grab my husbands hand.  I'm grateful for vacations to get us out of the noise of daily routine to hear these quiet requests.  What seems so trivial, like walking to the end of the longest dock I've ever seen, just to walk to the end of the longest dock I've ever seen, it just had to happen, according to that quiet voice inside me.  Luckily Nick knows this little voice inside me that's not so often great at being heard, but is a sacred piece of my heart.


So we stopped, and we walked it.  It was incredibly long, and peaceful.  We looked back and dreamed of a life when we could buy the local general store and our kids could adventure, and we would live on an island?  Perhaps.  Hmmmm seems like we've dreamt a similar dream before.  But fun just to have the conversation and walk.  Just because.










There is something about no agenda that settles our souls.  A quick escape to the islands, especially during the off-season, gives us the space to dream and be in each other's presence.  That space between us that ebbs and flows, and is so often filled with the responsibilities of our day-to-day.  It's so paramount to take the time to cultivate this space.  When we don't have to have an agenda, this space decreases in distance but increases in intensity.  I think after 17 years that is the definition of romance for us.  Cultivating that space.


So if you have 48hours to adventure, here's what to do....


Reserve a ferry to Orcas Island.  There are rental cars available on the island, or you will want to drive on the ferry.





Book a room at Kingfish Inn.  This cozy historic Inn is located in the quiet West Sound.  There are just four suites and an amazing restaurant space below.  You'll find board games and books.  I recommend booking a room with the covered deck facing the bay.  It was perfect for cozying up in a blanket with champagne as we watched the rain fall.  This historic Inn recently got a refresh and just reopened this month!  Perfect timing.   






Make a reservation at HogStone.  Order the pizza, make sure it includes salt-cured egg yolk.  Our combo also had kale and a smoked cheese.  It was phenomenal.  Also order the Mangalista, their own island grown pork.  Oh my gosh I'm torturing myself as I type this because it's all I want now.  The perfectly chewy, slightly charred crust was legendary in my book.  One of the best combinations of memorable and laid-back meals I have ever had.  During the summer months Hogstone relocates outside and it's sister restaurant Aelder reopens inside.  



Visit Girl Meets Dirt.  This local island preserve maker is definitely worth visiting.  Besides her own selection of cutting preserves, jams, and shrub and bitters - all made from island foraged fruit, she has a wonderfully curated selection of other goods she's discovered along the way.  Grab some cutting preserves, to go with the cheese you will later collect, for that picnic back at the Kingfish Inn you will have.



Visit Orcas Island Distillery.  This will require an email to make an appt.  And then a drive up a windy forest road.  It's worth it if you like Whiskey, and Gin, and conversation.

Stop at Roses Bakery Shop for everything you need for a charcuterie picnic of my dreams....cheese, crackers, olives, chocolate, bubbly.  Baked bread and local wares make this tiny spot rival my favorite neighborhood specialty store in the city.







Walk the docks.  Deer Harbor and Olga in particular are quaint, lovely, majestic and worth a walk.  Olga is where the longest dock was.  Also Sip the coffee.  Chase the Sunset.  Hike Turtleback Mountain - ok that did not happen but I highly recommend if it's your thing.  Snuggle by the fire.  Listen to the rainfall, if you're lucky enough to have rain of course, thanks to the "rain shadow" location of the San Juan Islands they average 247 days of sunshine.  That's twice as many as Seattle if you're keeping track.

Hold Hands & Cultivate That Space.  Take The Time.


Orcas Island during the off season, to reflect and reconnect.  It's a very favorite for us.


thank you for reading.


best,

Kirsty

This post was done in partnership with San Juan Island Visitors Bureau.



1.30.2020

Make Glorious Amazing Stupendous Mistakes This Year.

Our Theme For 2020.


"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing the world.  You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, You're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.  Make New Mistakes.  Make Glorious, Amazing Mistakes.  Make mistakes nobody has made before.  Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is:  art, or love, or work, or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, DO IT.


Make you mistakes, next year and forever."  ~Neil Gaiman.






Why does this year feel so significant?  Is it the changing of the decade?  The fact that my kids stayed up till midnight while Nick and I went to bed?  The greater divide that is happening in our communities, our country?  Or that we frankly have access to infinite possibilities and the knowledge of what is happening...to our environment, our people, our bodies (seriously Why do I google those ailments?!).  and just about anything can show up at our doorstep in under an hour?  equal parts amazing and disgusting. 

My kids are taking note.  And for some reason they see mistakes as failure.  They don't want to fail, truthfully who does?  It's a smack to our pride and our hearts.  What seems to be getting lost is the trying.  They assume if they aren't good at something, they just won't ever be good at it.  So this starts with Nick and I, what are we modeling to our children?  What ways will I make mistakes this year, and how can I be way more transparent about the process to my children.  

Make Mistakes.  This is our theme this year in our household.   I definitely don't want perfection, nor can I even achieve it anyway.  Making mistakes means listening to our dreams and taking risks, getting outside of our comfort zones.  And then honoring those mistakes - what can I change for the next round?  Do I need to apologize and make something right?  Work harder?  Listen closer?  Simply try again?  Being Intentional.





Here's to 2020.  oh, and also addressing this hair situation.  That will come in time.

dress // The OdellsI won it
jacket // HoboMy Christmas Present
boots // Frye via BloomingdalesMy Splurge - PSA - watch the Bloomies Friends and Family Sale, it often includes Frye.
eye glasses // Eye EyeGifted
scarf // old


thank you for reading 

best,
kirsty




1.29.2020

Apres Ski. Who Me?

Our Family Trip to Whitefish Mountain Resort and Kandahar Lodge.






Apres Ski:  Social Activities after a day's skiing.
Confession, I had to look up what Apres Ski actually meant.  I hear people throw this term around and I mean I knew it seemed to involve over the top knitted sweaters with giant fur hats (or is that just my inner costume loving voice screaming for the chance), maybe swooshing down a pristine powder covered mountain, fancy cocktails in the snow while soaking in oversized hot tubs.  It always had that next level unapproachable air about it to me.

Until now.  


Enter Whitefish Mountain Resort.  It's one of the things I want to yell through a blowhorn - which basically means blog about, but also keep secret.  It's having a bluebird day on the mountain after 17 inches of new powder, being able to see from Whitefish Lake all the way to Glacier Park, yet not waiting in line for the lift, read:  I'm hustling to get situated before it's our turn, how I survive daily is a wonder.  It's staying in a cozy family-owned lodge that just also happens to be ski-in, ski-out with a James Beard Nominated restaurant that also serves hot cocoa and popcorn to it's guest every afternoon.  It's a cozy bar tucked inside the lobby adorned with vintage photos that has perfected the classic cocktails while feeling totally at ease snuggling up by the fireplace in wool socks to play chess with the family while sipping on those cocktails.


This is Apres Ski y'all!










In the wake of recent life events from shootings in our city, a well-loved celebrity's sudden death to touring middle schools.  I have been reminded repeatedly this week, that life is incredibly precious and goes incredibly fast, like faster than my youngest son down a mountain headed for the terrain park ski jump - oh in his mind what a glorious trick he had planned, meanwhile my heart was stopped and I was sending hail marys up to Jesus that P is still in fact made of rubber.  He was, phew.  Of course now I'm getting sidetracked but this darn kid definitely fell more times than he landed on those jumps, there were definitely a lot of tears of frustration but dang if he didn't get back up every single time and want to do it again.  To the point that I graciously gave him my mittens and set up camp at the base lodge with a beer.

Whitefish Ski Resort has the unique combination of amazing snow conditions across gloriously big and beautiful terrain mixed with a small town feel where everyone seems like a local, the type of local that is happy to share their insider knowledge and lend you a hand.  Major points to the Ski Rental Employee who without a second thought let me take my children up to their lessons mid-rental - he could absolutely tell they were getting beyond restless and this mama was totally losing her cool, it was not my finest moment.  Upon return he didn't miss a beat finishing up the rental process with me.  Not gonna lie sending the boys off with their awesome instructors that day was a wonderful feeling, and picking them up with beaming smiles, us parents also feeling refreshed, was an even better one. 








The second day we got to experience skiing in white out conditions at the summit, we could have played it more safe and stayed down below, but frankly we didn't want to.  Our daily life is quite safe and calculated.  This experience as a family won't be forgotten.  Having the opportunity to push beyond what we know and working together to adventure into the unknown, we were able show our boys that we believed in their abilities to trust themselves and figure it out.  I throw the term "team Pap" around our home a lot, so much that it elicits quite severe eye rolls.  No eye rolls this time y'all.  It is human nature to want to feel a sense of belonging and that we are capable.  That is what this white out afternoon was.  The reward was also ridiculous powder and the best mound of curly fries your taste buds have ever experienced, and burgers, and sausages and pizza. 



A few more highlights from Team Pap...  (The mom in me felt pretty accomplished having the boys write their favorite things, you know balance out the days of school we skipped for this trip.)




Me.  Drinking champagne as the giant snowflakes fell, soaking my tired ol' body in a steaming hot oversized hot tub watching my boys float snow balls in the water.  I know, I'm taking back what I said at the beginning of this post.  Taking the Blue Runs ALL over Big Mountain, even the summit and backside, swooshing through powder like I do this all day long.  Well that day I did, because this mountain lives up to it's name.  Along with that, Peyton's awesome ski instructor empowering him to accomplish his first black diamond run.  Yahoo and thank you that I didn't have to take him.  And finally, the tree ghosts - they were just as magnificent as I remembered them to be.

Nick, as dictated to me as he was washing dishes - I'll take it!...  The Backside of the Mountain...enjoying a pure powder Green run, like a country stroll in the park, taking a peek over the edge at the double black diamond pondering the bears hibernating below.  All kinda crazy when you think about it.  Ok they probably were not directly below us, but this particular part of the mountain closes in April to protect the local Grizzly bear population.  Lastly, The Snug Bar, located in the Kandahar lodge, in particular their Manhattan and Whisky Sour, sipping "hella good cocktails" and sitting by the fire.

Peyton.  My instructor was cool, he took me on a black diamond called 1000 turns, it's called this because it's so narrow that you have to do many turns, it wasn't hard for me it felt like a green.  The white out at the top of the mountain was super cool, it was close to completely white all around us at the Summit on the afternoon of the second day.  There was so many different ski lifts to go on and so many runs.  In the lodge I liked the loft and the popcorn because the bags were so big and it tasted really good, and the hot tub. 





Riese.  Getting popcorn after skiing every day and melting snow icebergs in the hot tub.  Night snowboarding on the terrain park, boarding at night in the dark but under the lights, not sure how to explain it but it was awesome.  The curly fries at the Summit House were freaking amazing, eating all the curly fries in the world as the white out happened outside the windows.  The lofted beds [in the lodge] felt like we had our own separate room and the fur blankets were really comfy.  My instructor was nice and helpful when I did something wrong he showed me the correct way to do it. 


How to get here, the key logistical details.



Our preferred method of transportation is flying into Glacier International Airport and taking an Arrow Shuttle to the mountain.  You can often find great deals on Alaska/Horizon, at least from Seattle.  The airport is about a an hour drive to the mountain.  The Arrow Shuttle is very reasonably priced, meets you at the airport, will make minor pit stops if needed - like the grocery store for the essentials, and drop you off at the lodge door.  There's a good chance you will have Pat.  I was very impressed, down to spelling my name right and giving us all the local tips for navigating the village.  Other options are Amtrak which stops in downtown Whitefish (the mountain is about a 20ish min drive).  There is a S.N.O.W. bus that gives free rides up and down the mountain.  I recommend this more for if you want to check out dinner down the mountain vs actually taking all your luggage on the bus.  Don't expect to find many Ubers.  And of course you can drive, from Seattle it's about a 10hour drive depending on your speed limit preference and bladder strength.


Accommodations 









We stayed in a Kitchen Loft room at Kandahar Lodge, this was perfect for our family.  The boys each had their own beds in the loft while our bed was on them main floor.  We also had a full kitchen so we were able to prepare dinner (think spaghetti and LOTS of bread and butter, holy burning calories) and chilled champagne in the fridge.  Kandahar lodge is ski-in/ski-out with heated rooms to keep your ski gear in...so you can leave every ounce that you've got on that mountain and flop down on the coziest fur blanket.  

If you have any other questions feel free to email me kirsty@luciakjewelry.com





Whether you call it Whitefish Mountain Resort or Big Mountain, sharing the place I grew up skiing at with my family was a bucket list moment.  Growing up at the base of this mountain I had no idea until I moved away how lucky I was to have this experience.  I often talk about this place now and the fond memories I have, and I wondered if it would live up to the hype for my crew.  As my exasperating yet wonderfully wise 5th grader put it "mom this place is in your blood and I can totally see why now."

What a tremendous way to kick off 2020.

thank you for reading,
Kirsty

This post was in partnership with Whitefish Mountain Resort, Kandahar Lodge, and Arrow Shuttle - 3 companies that I can't speak highly enough about.  Thank you for partnering with me and my family.