Since I didn’t publish last year, I’m taking another new year as an opportunity to reflect and give myself a clean slate for all the writing that is to come from my new weekly challenge in 2015.
:drumroll: My top moments and memories of 2014.
What’s not to love about Facebook turning into a feed of cute babies? I was lucky enough to hold tiny Sarah Jean in the hospital before being whisked away to NYC where I got to play with 5 month year old Greyson. Felix made it to one of our Workfrom Wednesdays and Florence mastered the high chair to become one of my favorite lunch dates. Noah even made a trip back to Portland, and boy did I fall in love with his smile. Anthony made it in time for our family reunion and Athena came 10 weeks early to make it out in 2014. I haven’t met Athena yet, so a trip to Minnesota is on the docket for 2015.
I love love and am energized and inspired when the people around me share theirs. Alissa and Terry started off the wedding season with a stylish affair at Smith Rock and I found myself in awe of their daring and caring spirits when we celebrated at their bike troup’s bar. Despite photographing Julie & Regan‘s wedding, I found myself with plenty time to enjoy the comedic and inspiring ceremony and rocking dance party that ensued. Professionally, I was stoked at how the photo booth turned out & based on the number of folks who shared their photos online, the guests were, too. And I was honored to watch my business partner Darren marry the love of his life Paige and meet his energetic family–all amazing dancers. Amanda and Pete, who’d moved away from Portland, returned to marry and I enjoyed a brief time traveling to the past and more dancing.
3. Career Jump + Road Trip.
After being laid off in June, I dove into a new business: Workfrom. My business partners and I had been “dating” since February, so we were confident that our business plan had (sexy) legs and that we were compatible. On June 4, 2014 our company was born and I spent the rest of the year learning the difference between starting a company and starting a startup.
Shortly before deciding to go all-in, while I was still employed, I took a road trip to Eastern Oregon and worked from the road to prove that I really could work from anywhere. I rose with the sun around 5:30 each day, with enough time to find cell phone coverage and an internet connection. And each night I camped somewhere new.
In September we won an award. Sadly, Darren was presenting at an event in Austin so isn’t pictured here. And I managed to break the trophy before it made its way to Darren’s. Luckily, I took a photo of it before I broke it.
4. Zelda Died.
Zelda, my warrior princess cat, passed away on Valentine’s Day from kidney failure. Her ashes alternate between the mantle and next to Fish TV, aka the fish tank, and I find myself thinking of her more than I’d ever expect to reflect on a pet. Selfishly, the majority of my initial grief and reflection came from the expectations of being a caretaker. What if I’d taken her to the hospital? What if I’d ignored the vet? What if I’d not been so laissez-faire? Judgements aside, she passed away at home, in my arms and will always be remembered. (I made the mistake of taking a picture of her after she passed away and when I go to look for photos of her, I see it. I still get teary eyed.)
5. Family Vacation in the Upper Left USA.
Never in the history of me or my family had my father’s children all taken a vacation together. After looking into trips abroad or to the dessert, we settled on my place. It would be far cheaper if only some of us had to travel, so over my baby brother’s spring break, my dad and 3 brothers all met me in Portland. We filled my house and took a road trip to Seattle to visit my Aunt and stayed at a fancy AirBnB in Tacoma.
6. Family Reunion in Nebraska.
I discovered that a dog could ride a motorcycle and got some much needed down time with aunts, uncles and cousins that I grew up with. And I got to beef up on some family history and snag a couple of old photos of grandma and grandpa. In addition to the large, Wolff family reunion, dad and I went to Lincoln to meet up with my sister Jenni, Dave and their kids for a mini reunion.
7. Getting Yelled at in the River.
On the same trip as #6, I spent a day adventuring with dad. We went to the first house I turned 1 and 2 in, foraging along the way (see #12) and made a pit stop at the river. We’d recently read that while the land along rivers may be privately owned, the rivers themselves are free to be used by the public. So we took that as an opportunity to walk in the flat Platte. During our walk, a crotchety old man came out to yell at us — accusing us of trespassing. “Oh, you mean to tell me you own the river?” “Yes!!”
To be fair, we had trespassed to get to the water, though he wouldn’t have known that. So we took extra caution to get out under the bridge — land we’d also read was public.
8. Faye’s Birthday on the Oregon Coast.
The aquarium! And more road tripping. And camping. And exploring tide pools.
Inspired by last year’s hiking adventures with my friend Rebecca, I deliberately set out on waterfall hikes. These included Ramona Falls on my birthday, a secluded waterfall near Eugene over Joe & Amy’s house warming weekend and several along I-84, including one that I discovered thanks to a friend posting on Instagram that includes a short swim.
For the past couple of years, I join a group of people glued together by a fabulous music lover, curator & singer from Colorado by way of California. Every year I look forward to it as a time to see my cousin Tricia & her husband Joe, live like I’m 20, reconnect with old festival friends and enjoy new (to me) music. My only regret was not joining the crew heading onto Alaska afterwards. Had I not just been laid off, you can bet that I would have gone and in writing this, I wish I’d done it anyway. #firstworldproblems
11. Workfrom America Tour.
Always a rebellion, I refuse to accept that work can’t be fun. As such, we set out on a month of back-to-back traveling to spread the Workfrom word. After unofficially touring Omaha while I was in the state for my family reunion, I decided it was time to kick off an official tour.
Darren and I started in NYC where I got to see old friends (and that cute baby, Greyson). When I rented a car to drive to Washington D.C. they gave me an SUV so I had a fun time trying to escape Manhattan in a beast. Luckily I enjoyed playing frogger in the first person and we made it, after taking a pitstop in Philidelphia’s oldest bar to catch some football along the way. It was my first time to DC since college and I walked by all the monuments and the white house, admiring the architecture and tourists. We also flew to Austin and nearly melted in the September heat. And a month later, I traveled by train and bus to SF for a conference, down to San Carlos to visit my grandma, up to up to Oroville to visit my mom, step dad & brother James and then all the way to LA for another conference.
After the conference, I stayed with my cousin Liz and her family for a couple of days, whom I hadn’t seen since I helped them move to LA 4 years ago. We went to one of Jay Leno’s comedy clubs where Arsenio Hall was one of the standups. The kids were all grown up with one already in college, one a senior and the baby standing taller than me. And my friend Amanda (the same one who got married earlier that year) even came down from Santa Barbara to visit for the day. After all the buses, trains and Uber accident I was happy to fly home in time for Thanksgiving.
12. Wild Crafting, Dinner Parties and Domestication.
Before the hustle and bustle of starting my own business, I spent a few months enjoying a leisurely pace. I kicked it off by rearranging the house and swapping the living room with the dining room, so I could throw more dinner parties.
Roughly every month I’d pick a new focus, starting with fermentation. I made sauerkraut and pickled cabbage and moved onto kombucha until I accidentally melted my bottle caps and never replaced them, leaving my mother to wither away in the fridge, waiting to be bottled. Still hooked on foraging, wild edibles and tinctures, I tried my hand at making a usnea lemoncello and less interesting tinctures.
Then I moved onto crafting lights and journals … anything I could make with my hands, without a computer and using supplies already lying around the house.
In the spring I called on the Audubon Society & Columbia Land Trust to begin the process of certifying my yard to become a Backyard Habitat for birds and help protect the spread of invasive species. I didn’t get far before being wholly consumed by Workfrom so it was more an excuse for an unkempt yard and killer deals on natural plant sales.
13. New Housemates
I’ve owned my home for 9 years and this year saw several new housemates. In February, Daniel moved out to make way for my brother Josh moving out from Missouri. Josh left in July to return to Missouri and with my new (un)employment status, I knew I’d need to find new, paying renters quickly. Faye saved the day, befriending a bartender, Jess, she knew from work. Jess and her boyfriend Sam have been awesome housemates, consistently filling it with aromas of their latest cooking adventures & taking care of the pets when Faye & I are away.
14. Franklin High Remodel
As my dad discovered, living next to a high school can mean that at some point the school gets remodeled and you lose or gain a street. In our case, we’ll be losing our dead end street in favor of a new, thoroughfare for teachers and event attendees … and the garbage trucks. Luckily, we have an amazing neighbor who’s worked with community organizations and the city before, so there’s a chance our livability won’t be tremendously impacted. The biggest disappointment has been the lack of ethics and professional courtesy on behalf of the project director. The project team had worked on the project for over a year before engaging with the neighbors and even then it was only after we tracked them down. This will be the year we either win or lose our street.
It’s impossible to start a post such as this and not get swept away in the countless other moments that pop up. Faye’s uncle passing away, my aunt Susan coming out to visit & take me to Bob Dylan, parties, birthdays, random gatherings and of course, my end of year trip to Costa Rica which will be shared separately. Oh and I also started the year with a “photo a day” challenge that petered out after a few weeks. Still, its Instagram account lives on.