On Moments of Happiness and Hope

I drove home from Manhattan today, after a whirlwind day of visiting friends and familiar haunts in the city I once called home but in which I never truly felt at home. I sped west in my stepfather’s old Highlander along Route 78 in the bright sunshine, singing along to Ellie Goulding and Maroon 5 (as their songs are apparently the only ones currently in rotation on the radio). As I put more distance between myself and the city, the trees became denser and I breathed more deeply. Right around exit 41, everything in me paused, and I turned down the music. It was a moment when I needed to identify what I was feeling, because the sensation was so odd that it interrupted all other thoughts.

I felt happy.

And happiness was the singular emotion that existed in that moment.

Throughout most of this trip to New Jersey, I have been overwhelmed: by grief, by loss, by anger, by sadness, by dread, by unease, by shame. There were so many firsts without my sister and my dad in the course of a week that completely depleted—and often defeated—me. 

The first Easter

The first birthday (Kelly’s)

The first National Siblings Day (also my first knowledge that this day existed)

The other first birthday (my dad’s)

The dread before each occasion was almost as painful as the arrival of the actual date. My grandmother’s birthday, nestled in the middle of this crazy week, somehow felt like a relief, if only because it was not so terribly awful anymore after thirteen years.

I planned last week to drive my mom to the city yesterday, and to spend time with friends and stay overnight there. When yesterday arrived, I felt completely unprepared for anything past get out of bed, brush teeth. All of the steps beyond that were foreign, and I worried were beyond my capabilities.

How do you go back out into the world when it feels like your skin is on inside out?

I didn’t really figure that out, but I did get myself dressed and where I had committed to being. And it was hard, but nice. I was able to see places I once loved, but was also grateful to have left behind. I was able to see friends I feel safe with, and talk about my dad and Kelly without breaking down or shutting down. I was able to feel like an actual person again for the day. I never could have anticipated that simply interacting with the world would feel like an accomplishment, but such is life in this new “normal”.

I also never anticipated that feeling happy, with the absence of guilt or regret or any other accompaniment would be so alien a sensation.

There have been some wonderful moments on the inside of the sorrow of the past five months. Watching rays of sun bisect a room on a farm in Virginia; glimpsing the magical light bouncing off the water in Positano; sipping tea with koalas in Australia; the simple grace shared by friends every day; hearing and reading words of loss and comfort and love and grief from gifted writers; writing something true. And yet, also present in those special moments: guilt, and fear.

What if I’m not sad enough?

What if I deserve the sadness?

What if someone else dies? 

What if this is how it will always be?

Just last week, I drove that stretch of highway in sobs, because it is the same route that my dad always drove to bring me home from the airport, and how could I be driving on that road without him? The loss of him on that drive was as acute as it was the night he died.

There was nothing extraordinarily remarkable about the drive today. Except that within it existed a moment of such ease, such peace and such happiness that it became remarkable.

Because it allowed for hope; the hope that more of these moments might someday occur, when I least expect them and when I need them most.

*Thank you to Mom, Julie and Aidan (and the Rowlets!) for leading me to this moment today. Thank you to every person who has reached out to me at any time in the last five months. I will never forget the gestures of love and kindness that have been extended to me. 

Stillness and Sunset in Virginia

Stillness and Sunset in Virginia

Of False Bravery and Half-Truths

I waited for the elevator to make its way to the ground floor of the parking garage. It was one of those places in downtown Santa Monica that always smells a little like urine, even when it’s not hot outside. The kind of garage that always has a few lights blinking and crackling, threatening to burn out. The kind that makes you wish the sun were still out and that you weren’t by yourself.

The elevator arrived and I stepped on, followed by five men speaking very loud and animated Korean. They smelled like stale beer and cigarettes, and together we more than filled the small space. One of their arms kept brushing against my REI shopping bag, and another gave me a full body scan with his eyes. We had no air left for anyone else to breathe in that elevator, but I wished that someone else would join us. Someone who might make me feel safe.

We began our ascent, only to jerk to a stop and lurch down a few feet before we reached the third floor. The men exclaimed, “Oh My God” in English, while gazing at each other with panicked looks. When they then looked over at me, I smiled calmly, as if we weren’t trapped together in an elevator between floors of a Santa Monica parking garage, instead of driving our cars safely home.“Don’t let them see your fear,” the voice in my head whispered. “They need to think that you’re brave.”

I wasn’t. I was scared even before the elevator doors closed around us. I was scared even after we all got out safely. But I couldn’t let them see that. Maintaining that illusion of bravery felt crucial. If felt like it was all that I had.

It’s what I’ve always done.

When I was a kid, I needed everyone to see that I could do everything considered scary, and do it by myself. That meant not hesitating before diving off the high dive, running to the front of the line to ride the tallest roller coaster, or watching horror movies that secretly terrified me. Often it meant impulsive decisions with little regard for consequences. I was no adrenaline junkie; it was all about trying to manipulate people into seeing me as “brave”. To me, scared equated with weak, and that was unacceptable. Fast forward thirty years later and I’m still that five-year-old kid, yelling, “Look at me! Look at what I can do” from the high dive.

Last weekend, a stranger marveled at the fact that I could attend a friend’s wedding without a date. She could never do that, she told me, unsolicited. She would rather just stay home than ever go to a wedding alone. I was rendered momentarily speechless, as I so often am when someone else voices feelings I don’t want to admit to also having experienced. I quickly moved away from the conversation, eager to get away from her and her (our) fears.

Instead, I went home and rallied against that fear. I posted a status update to my Facebook page that I hoped would reinforce me as that brave, independent person I needed everyone to see.

“If I only went places where someone accompanied me, I would never go anywhere. Don’t be afraid to do the things you want to do because you don’t have a ‘date’. You are your own best company.”

I’ve written before about the importance of loving your life even if it’s not exactly what you pictured. How you can appreciate what you do have, and take advantage of all that comes with it. How traveling alone, for example, can be wonderful and even more fulfilling than traveling with a companion. I even quoted the song “Brave” recently, as a reminder of how important it is to speak use your voice. I know these things are all true.

But.

But. The truth is always in the buts. The howevers. The excepts.

But they’re half-truths, at best. Words that are, indeed, true but that don’t begin to tell the whole story. It’s like stitching together patches of a quilt when you don’t actually know how to sew, and ignoring the holes you’ve left all over. I’ve stitched together this tale about being happy, self-sufficient and brave, while neglecting to mention all the holes throughout: loneliness; sadness; fear. There’s a quilt, sure, but it isn’t the truth.

So here’s the whole truth. The whole truth is that I don’t want to go to weddings alone; I go alone because that’s the best option I have. The whole truth is that I travel alone because I don’t have a partner to travel with me, and the alternative of not going anywhere is so much worse. The whole truth is that I still struggle with speaking up because I am so worried about what others will think. The whole truth is that being single can be liberating and empowering, but simultaneously isolating and terrifying. The whole truth is that I am scared all of the time.

The whole truth is that you can love your life, and still yearn for what is missing.

Sometimes, I take the easy way out, and I pick just half of the truth—the half that doesn’t make me look weak, or feel vulnerable. The half that feels good to post on Facebook. I’m still that little a kid putting on a show. Look at me! Look at what I can do!

It’s difficult to reconcile: being proud of what you can do alone, and desperately wanting to not have to do it.

I wrote earlier this year about how turning 35 meant letting go of a life I had imagined for myself and replacing it with something else, something I was already living. But the real truth there? (Again, the but). I stopped short of the part where I admit that even in my happiness, there is still sadness. That I do still want a husband, and I do still want children. I have accepted that I don’t have them now, and I have made my life work without them because that’s what I had to do. It wasn’t brave, or strong, it just was.

Because you adapt, and you let go, and you accept, or you won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.

If I could go back and re-write that “Confession: I am 35” essay, if I could post it as a Facebook status with the whole truth, it would read differently.

I am 35, and it’s wonderful, lonely, exciting, full, liberating, strange, multi-faceted, sad, challenging, adventure-filled, eye-opening, ever-changing and completely scary every single day. It’s real life, in all its complexities. 

And it’s mine.

photo (7)

Follow Your Excitement

I looked up from my seat in row seven when I heard the gruff, “Excuse me.”  I started to get up so my seatmate could pass by me to get to his seat, but he just pushed past me without making eye contact. My heart sank a bit about having to be in such close proximity to this seemingly rude man for the next six hours—until I saw his fingers gripping the armrest and knew that I wasn’t next to a rude man, but a very nervous flyer.

He hadn’t flown in five years, he explained, but he couldn’t pass up this trip. He was flying cross-country for a work project that he took specifically because it would bring him to New Jersey, where he would be able to visit the largest model railroad in the world. His passion was toy trains, and he was invited to come to New Jersey to visit this railroad and repair some remote control problem that only he knew how to fix. I remarked that he was very dedicated to this group, arranging this extensive trip, especially with his aversion to flying. He looked me in the eye, paused so that I leaned in, expectant, and told me:

“You have to follow your excitement.”

And it hit me, in that way that the thing you need to hear always does, like a ton of bricks. Follow your excitement.

For over ten years, I lived in New York City, arguably one of the most exciting cities in the world. Theater, bars, art, shopping, restaurants…all mere steps from my front door. Yet when I describe my time in New York, “exciting” is never one of the words I use.  My associations with New York are much different.

Hard

Chaotic

Intense

Draining

Overwhelming

Never once have I used the word exciting, because for me, the word didn’t fit.

I knew within a year of living in Manhattan that it wasn’t the right place for me. I was living by myself for the first time in a brownstone studio on the Upper West Side, working in my first sales job, determined to take the publishing industry by storm and live the perfect, glamorous urban life I had imagined for myself. I understood that I didn’t hold this city in the same regard as most of my friends, but I figured this would eventually change. Eventually, I would surely discover what made this place and this life so exciting.

Instead, it continued to elude me.

So I ignored my own instincts and took cues from my friends, who seemed to easily find excitement in New York. I went to the newest, best restaurants with my foodie friends and pretended to be thrilled by culinary concoctions I did not understand and could not pronounce. I went shopping with my fashionista friends, buying clothing I couldn’t afford and collecting designer accessories like some people collect stamps. I happy-houred and pub-crawled and wine-tasted with my nightlife-loving friends, feigning interest in the late nights and the crazy stories they produced, pretending I belonged.

I ended up completely broke, and totally broken down. Following others’ excitement left me with $20,000 of debt and an empty place in my soul that no amount of exotic sushi or expensive Chanel or VIP parties could fill.

I chased happiness, running after it like I would run after a cab in a rainstorm, wishing desperately that I could catch it. But of course I never could. It always escaped me.

How can you discover excitement when you’ve forgotten what excites you?

You start to listen. You start to pay attention. You start to trust yourself.

Things began to change when I finally acknowledged that I was not happy in New York, and that it was unlikely that I ever would be. When the right opportunity finally arose, I leapt on it without hesitation and moved across the country to Los Angeles. It felt right, immediately, in a way that New York never did. Slowly, gradually, I started discovering the things that truly excited me. Yoga, reading on the beach, outdoor concerts, sunsets over the ocean, writing. This time, I didn’t follow my friends into hikes I didn’t enjoy, or force myself to eat avocado on everything like so many Angelenos. This time, I tried new things, listened to my gut about what made me happy, and tossed the rest.

And I get it now. I found my excitement. I found my happiness.

It doesn’t mean that everything in my life is perfect now, or that I don’t have bad days still. It’s not, and I absolutely do. It’s still real life, though some of the incredible ocean view pictures might suggest otherwise, with all of its crazy ups and downs. But there is a level of contentedness that never existed for me in New York. Every single day that I wake up in Santa Monica, regardless of my mood, or the often-thick summer marine layer, or anything else going on in my life, I am excited and happy to live here. I am where I am meant to be.

Following my excitement simply meant listening to, and following, my heart. Following my heart meant finding real happiness.

Sunset: Hermosa Beach

Sunset: Hermosa Beach ; This IS real life.

 

xx,

Katie

 

Confession: I Thought It Mattered

I thought it mattered.

 

I thought it mattered if I was thin.
If I was beautiful.
If I was tall.
If I was unblemished.
If I was manicured.
If I was highlighted.
If I was perfect.

One day I learned that it didn’t matter. And I was happy.

But, I forgot, as we sometimes do.

 

Once more, I thought it mattered.

I thought it mattered if I was right.
If I was the fastest.
If I was the strongest.
If I was the smartest.
If I was the first.
If I was the best.
If I was perfect.

Another day arrived, and I remembered that it didn’t matter. And I was happy again.

But, still, I forgot.

 

Yet again, I thought it mattered.

I thought it mattered if people thought I was thin.
If they thought I was beautiful.
If they thought I was smart.
If they thought I was strong.
If they thought I was worthwhile.
If they thought I was lovable.

If they thought I was perfect.

This time, this time I didn’t believe it though. This time I knew, the way I knew the sun rises in the East, and June follows May, and one plus one equals two. I knew that it didn’t matter.

The only thing that mattered was that I lived in truth. My truth. Spoken, felt, shared, lived. Truth.

I will continue to forget, but I will also always remember. And in those moments of recollection, those moments of clarity, those moments of truth…there will be happiness.

 

 

xx,
Katie

Confession: I’m Fighting the Funk

I subscribe to a daily email blast called “Notes from the Universe”. They arrive before I wake up in the morning, so they’re often the first words I read after I hit snooze that final time. Yesterday was no exception. I picked up my iPhone, opening only one eye, and read the day’s message:

Do you know what it sometimes means, Katie, when you feel a bit bummed out and aren’t sure why? When you catch yourself looking back over your shoulder and wondering? When you feel doubt, sense uncertainty, and experience fear? When you sometimes wonder what’s taking so long?

It means you’re normal. 

I opened the other eye and read it again. And again. Somehow the universe, via whomever it is who writes these messages, knew exactly what I needed to hear on that dark, post-Daylight Savings morning.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk for the last two weeks. And by “bit of” I mean “a lot of”. It started with a loss, or with bad news, or exhaustion, or with nothing at all. It doesn’t take long for this funk to grow arms and legs and start to take hold of me. I climb out a little, thinking I’m free, only to have it pull me back down again.

Doubt? Uncertainty? FEAR? Yup, that’s the trifecta. Gang’s all here. That’s been my week.

Am I really good enough to do my job? Doubt.

Why am I doing this writing thing? Uncertainty.

Will you still love me after you really know me? FEAR.

Fear’s the big one for me, the root of it all.

When I was in New York for work earlier this year, my bosses pulled together little snapshots of our sales and marketing team, with pictures and words to describe us. A cute way to celebrate a group who had a really good year working together. My pictures, unsurprisingly, were comprised of yoga and traveling, NY and LA, blowouts and beauty products. The description of me included the phrase “a mix of competitive and zen”.

That was unexpected. Not the competitive part, I’ve certainly heard that before. But the zen part. That was new.

I remembered this as I was struggling through this week. How could I be allowing myself to feel so down? How could I not be counting my blessings, grateful for all of the wonderful people and things in my life? How could that not be enough to make me happy right now?

I felt like a fraud.

I’m supposed to be a yogi (whatever that really means). I’m supposed to be positive. I’m supposed to be zen. I’m supposed to be at peace with myself. I’m supposed to be able to breathe or meditate or just exist above it somehow.

If only I could be all of the things I am supposed to be.

And then this note arrived, this note from the universe. Giving me permission to be bummed. Allowing me to spend a few days with doubt, with uncertainty, with fear. And telling me that I’m normal because of it.

The funk will lift. It always does. One morning I will wake up and it will be gone, burned off with the fog, with only the vague memory that it ever existed.

Until then, after then, I will do all of the things that make me happy.

Yoga, brunch, traveling, dinners with friends, concerts, reading, singing. I will create as many moment of happiness for myself as is possible. I will stitch these moments of happiness together until they are all that is left, with no room for anything funky in between them.

My note from the universe continued:

…you’re normal. 

Well, Katie, as normal as anyone can be who possesses superpowers, commands legions, and rearranges physical circumstances simply with thought.

Yeeeeeeee-haaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
The Universe

The universe doesn’t always say just the right thing, but sometimes it does.

I will do what I love, often. Because this is my life.  And I know that it’s a great one.

(from Google images)

(from Google images)

xx,

Katie

Confessions of a Wallower

I’m sitting at what used to be my friend Ezra’s desk, in our New York office, when I first hear the news.  When I learn about the “historic, crippling storm” that is moving into the Tri-State area.  I don’t pay much attention initially.  I don’t have to fly out today; my flight isn’t canceled; this won’t affect ME.  But the buzz builds rapidly throughout the 10thfloor about this massive Nor’Easter, and I start to feel little flutters of anxiety rising in me, bubbling toward the surface like the carbonation coming up the straw in my Diet Coke.

What if I can’t go to yoga tomorrow?

What if I can’t buy my stepfather’s birthday gift?

What if I can’t go to Hoboken to see my godson?

What if I have to miss my friend Sonia’s workshop?

What if my flight IS canceled?

What if I get stuck in NJ?

What if it all changes?

I don’t do well with change.

My trip is so carefully crafted, every minute efficiently and effectively planned by the good little Type-A that I am.  There is no margin of error.  There is no room for late arrivals or backups on the runway.  The timetable is set.   This is how I operate.  Yet in the span of a few hours, it seems to all fall away, evaporating before the first snowflake has even formed.

By the time we get the emergency text alert from the weather service—“Prepare.  Avoid Travel.  Check media.”—I’m free-falling in a downward spiral of my own pity.

Nothing in my life goes right.  The mailroom can’t find my package.  My mom is upset.  My friend is stranded overseas.  My car service is an hour late.  My grandfather is annoyed.  My sister is crying.  I say something thoughtless to my boss.  It takes forever to get home.   Woe is me, woe is me.

I am officially in a funk.

This is dangerous territory.  I don’t emerge easily.  I can lose an hour, a day, a weekend to the funk.  It grabs hold of me, wraps its arms tightly all the way around me, and suffocates me until I surrender to it completely.  I always end up here.

Somewhere in the middle of this free fall, I stumble upon my lovely friend Sara’s blog post from earlier in the day, the one titled “Suffering is a Choice”.

Don’t you hate when you are deep in the throes of your pity party and someone more enlightened than you tells you that you are choosing to suffer?  She’s right of course, but I don’t want to listen.  I don’t want wisdom.  I don’t want enlightenment.  I want to crawl into my hole and stew in my crap until I don’t want to anymore.

Except…something in her writing permeates deeper than the funk has.   Something sticks.

I actually DON’T want to feel like this.  I don’t want to wallow.  I don’t want to let my day, or my weekend or one more minute be ruined by this mood.

My mom can still be upset.  My grandfather can still be annoyed.  My sister can still be crying.  But maybe I can be different.  Maybe I can be the one who changes, in the middle of everything I can’t change.

Ok.

Now what?

This is unfamiliar territory.  I don’t know where to start so I just start.

I try meditating (this feels stupid)

I make a joy list (well, I don’t really because I’m too annoyed to write anything)

I make a joke (not really that funny unfortunately)

I make cookies (oh, this helps)

I read (this helps more)

I listen to music (ok, getting there)

I write. 

And slowly…it lifts.  It releases.  It burns off like the early morning Santa Monica smog that I am almost accustomed to waking to.  When you can’t see through it, and you think it will always be there and you will never have a sunny day again…it lifts.

Earlier in the night, I texted my friend: “Who can I pass this bad mood along to?”  She would understand; it got her this week too.  I thought maybe she passed it to me, and I would pass it on to the next person, like that crazy flu that everyone is just passing around.

I’m done with it.  I’m passing it along.  If you want it, it’s yours.  You get to choose.  You always get to choose.

It’s always your choice.

xx,

Katie

Confession: I Am 35

I am 35.

I don’t know if that really qualifies as a confession.  Or if that’s what I really mean to confess.

Maybe what I should have written is Confession: I am 35 and I’m not married and I don’t have kids and I’m not a publisher and I don’t own a big house or a car and I’m not where I always thought I would be at 35.

But that’s really too long for a title.  So I condense.  I am 35.

Sometimes it feels like I’m being left behind.

I am the bridesmaid, standing at the altar in the pink satin dress and matching shoes that I will never wear again, heart cracking a little each time I’m not the one saying “I Do.”  Each time someone else is chosen ‘for better or worse’.

I am “Aunt Katie”, aunt in quotes because I’m really not the aunt, just the stand in, that title bestowed upon single friends who gaze wistfully at sleeping babies and buy the impractical dresses with tutus because they’re just too cute to resist.  Who think when another baby is born, “this may not happen for me”, and die a tiny death each time.

I am the sales rep, I am the apartment dweller, I am the car leaser.  Nothing too permanent, nothing that lasts.  It’s a life lived in pencil instead of pen.  It can be erased in an instant.

I’m not where I always thought I would be at 35.

I was emailing with a male friend this week, marveling about our mutual friend who is having her third baby (THREE children?!?  How could that be?!).  I trotted out some of my canned lines about having children.  I prepared them years ago, anything to avoid the pitying stares that get doled out to the childless 30-somethings:

“I’m SO not ready to have children.”

“I can’t even take care of a plant.”

“I want to be able to plan an impromptu trip to Vietnam without coordinating with husbands/carpools/nannies/schools. I want to just get on a plane and go.”

I say them so frequently that I barely even know what they mean anymore.  They’re just lines in a play that I repeat back from memory with the same practiced gestures, the same indifferent expression, the blocking of this scene always the same.  But somehow this week, I actually heard what I was saying.  Maybe because I was talking to a male friend and I didn’t feel any pressure, or competition, or hint of pity from him (possibly because those without a ticking biological clock don’t know better).  Or maybe because I’m hitting a milestone birthday with regard to having children.  Or perhaps I just got it for the first time.

I really meant what I said.  I am not ready to have children.  I kill every plant I’ve ever had.  I do want to just get on a plane and go.  It’s all really, really true.   

So here I sit, throwing a pity party for one, mourning the loss of this imagined life.  Dreaming longingly about a life that, as it turns out, doesn’t even fit.  It’s like waking up and finding that the pair of shoes you have been completely lusting over for months actually pinch your toes and don’t look good on you because they are so not your style.  But you wanted them because everyone else wanted them so they must be special and so you just had to have them.

The night before my birthday, I began reading a book that just arrived by Karen Salmansohn called “Instant Happy”.  It includes simple but meaningful messages about finding happiness in your life.  One passage stood out in particular from the others on this birthday eve:

 “Much of the pain in life comes from having a life plan that you’ve fallen in love with, but that doesn’t work out.  Having to find a new life plan hurts.  The trick is not to become too attached to any particular life plan and remember that there is always a better, even-happier life plan out there somewhere.”

What?  You mean we’re not stuck with this dream that was formed at age 11, or at 25, or last night?  We can actually do a re-write?  Go back and choose a different path, like those Choose Your Own Adventure books that everyone read in the 80s?  I always read every ending.  I had to be sure I chose the right one, had to know what options existed so that I could change my mind and go another way.

I can choose my own adventure now.  I can explore every ending.  I can re-write the story, within every chapter even.  I can change the outcome.  I can change my confession.

Confession: I am 35.

I am loved.

I am successful.

I am following my passions.

I am an “intrepid traveler” (thanks JH!)

I am a writer.

And…I am happy.

I’ll choose that ending for today.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

xx,

Katie

Confession: I’m Ready To See Beauty

After nearly 22 hours of flying and layovers, I landed at LAX on Monday morning after the trip of a lifetime in Bali.  I was tired, I was a little cranky, and I felt the Bali joy start to seep out of me with every step through the airport.  The length of time it took for my suitcase to appear on the conveyor belt caused many drawn out sighs of annoyance.  The line blocking the exit to customs provoked an exaggerated eye roll and some foot tapping.  When I started arguing with my cab driver about directions, while on the phone with my mom, I knew it was slippery slope downhill from there.

 
So I stopped.  Took a deep breath.  Told my mom I loved her.  Accepted the cab driver’s apology, and thanked him offering it and getting me home safely.  Focused on recalling how happy I had been just one short day earlier. 
 
And then I remembered: The 5 Most Beautiful Things Project.  Earlier this month, my friend and mentor, Jen Pastiloff, started the 5 Most Beautiful Things Project.  The idea, born while she was sitting in LA traffic, was that you can find 5 beautiful things in every day, in every moment.  In her exquisite words:
 

What if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by?  What if we became beauty hunters?  What if we told more beautiful stories?  What if it was all we saw, even in the dirt?  What if we trained our eyes and our hearts to tune into that which makes us cock our head to one side and close our eyes gently in an effort to memorize what we were looking at.  What if it is all we got?

WHAT IF ALL WE HAVE IS OUR 5 BEAUTIFUL THINGS?  

I quickly took stock and identified my 5 Most Beautiful Things in that moment:
-Global Entry Kiosk
-My suitcase arriving
-2 episodes of my favorite Homeland
-My comfy bed
-A million Facebook interactions with my fellow Bali tribe members
 
And I felt better.  Immediately.  Actually, truly, really better.  I smiled, I felt lighter, and being back at home felt good, instead of a letdown.  Because my real life, here, in Santa Monica, is GOOD.  Great even.  I need to believe in that and not lose sight of it because I have to wait a little longer for my luggage.
 
How quick was I to believe in the magic in Bali that I assigned significance to every gesture, every beautiful thing I saw.  An elegant green door, a dirty child placing a flower on a tree, a man washing his chicken in the river.  Each was beautiful in its own special way.  Each meant something MORE, because it was in this magical place.
 
I had my laundry done halfway through the trip, and it was returned to me with a delicate green thread sewn into the back of every item.  I knew it must have been a special blessing bestowed upon me by the Balinese, some offering that would protect me, the wearer of these clothes.  I asked my new friend Wayan to explain what specifically this beautiful green thread meant, what glorious custom this was.
 “Oh, that’s how they keep the laundry organized.  All of your clothes have a green thread, all of Jen’s have a red thread, all of Mel’s have a blue thread….”.
 
How lovely will my life be if I can find the green thread in every moment, real or imagined?  It sure takes the edge off returning to reality.
 
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xx,
Katie