16 January, 2011

I Left My Heart in Sonoma

Kenwood Inn and Spa

I was recently in San Francisco for almost a week visiting friends and doing very little except relaxing, which explains my lack of blogs since the first of the year. While there, I barely took out my camera out of its bag. I was clearly in decompression mode.

I saw the extraordinary Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit at the MoMA. It was amazing to track his progress from his early years to his later (and more famous) years. An amazing talent. Their How Wine Became Modern wine exhibit was also extraordinary, particularly the sniffing wall, where you could smell many different types of decanted wines.

I also visited Omnivore Books (a cookbook-only bookstore in Noe Valley) which is my kind of candy store. My friend and I met up with the lovely Kate McDermott (Seattle pie-maven extraordinaire) who was also in town and went off to brunch and lovely afternoon adventures.

Besides that, I did not do a whole lot while in the Bay Area (save for a short trip to Sonoma), much to the disappointment of my family and friends who wanted photos and stories. Since I have very few stories to tell, I will leave you with a few photos of Kenwood Inn and Spa, which we visited while on our side trip to Sonoma Valley. It is a truly breathtaking place. It's on Conde' Nast's 100 Best Hotels in the World listing, and for good reason. It's truly stunning and very private. I will be going back in the spring or summer for a potential professional photography shoot and (hopefully) as an overnight guest.

01 January, 2011

Tabula Rasa

Happy New Year!
As I sit here on this frigid-but-sunny Seattle winter morning, I'm amazed at how good it feels to turn the calendar to another year. I don't know why it should; it's just another day. Life doesn't run on 12-month increments. But, for me, there's always been something poetic about staring at a blank slate at the beginning of a new revolution around the sun.

I've been told that it's apparently "uncool" these days to write New Year's resolutions, even amongst the people I know who aren't interested in "cool". Well, screw that; I've got a slew of 'em. Resolutions (or goals, if it makes you feel better) always worked well for me--some years better than others-and the years I didn't make any were quite clearly the years that not much got done. Sometimes not having a list of new goals was a good thing--like in 2003 when my husband asked me for a divorce, I sold my house, my contract at Microsoft ended, and so I moved to Belgium on a whim. I was utterly "goal-less" for the first time in my life. And it was one of the best years of my life. So, goals aren't always all that.

But I digress.

Instead of focusing on what I did not accomplish last year, I want to focus on what I plan to accomplish in this one. Truth be told, I want to accomplish an awful lot. To keep myself from spinning my wheels, or feeling overwhelmed, I'm making both annual resolutions and monthly milestones, to keep things in check. I am one of those type of people that need to be held accountable, even if it's only to myself, if only to tick one more thing off my list. It gives me a gigantic sense of satisfaction to look back and see exactly what I've accomplished. Call me uncool (again), but I'm going to create more structure in my life. I don't want June to roll around and think "I still have 6+ more months to attain my 2011 goals!" and slack off more than I already have.

On my list of resolutions is to finish my book of culinary essays. It can't write itself and so I need to apply ass to chair (or fingertips to laptop)--whatever works to get this manuscript completed. To keep exercising my writing (and photography) muscles, I do plan to post more blogs this year. I know I said that last year, but I really mean it this time. In fact, Shauna Ahern gave me a most brilliant idea to... (get this!) ... plan posts ahead of time! I know! Genius, right? Who'd a thunk it? You can actually plan for such things as upcoming blog posts. Who knew?! Phenomenal idea. Truly.

Another thing I plan to do is grow my photography business, both the culinary photography as well as wedding photography. I'm good at both; I want to be GREAT at both, as well as have a fabulous client base. (The clients I have so far are phenomenal; I'm so lucky to do what I love!)

In addition, I'll grow my editing business as well, which is my full-time career. It's what I do; I can edit the hell out of anything: web content, technical docs, culinary manuscripts, marketing copy/graphics, you name it. I can spot a typo in the office down the hall (although not always in my own e-mails or blog posts...). Between editing, my photography business, blogging, and my book writing, I will not have a lot of free time this year. That's okay. I've accepted that I'm going to work a lot this year.

I will also cook and exercise, the two things that will bring me back to full health in 2011. This year was not a fabulous one for my health, but I have high hopes that, with a few tweaks, I'll be right as rain before long.

Last week, I made a pact with Seattle's food writer extraordinaire, Nancy Leson, that I would join her for next year's 2012 New Year's Day Polar Bear Swim... in a bathing suit. (A few other folks are joining us. There is comfort in numbers.) It's hard when food is large part of your bio, so it takes some smarts, some courage, and some finesse, but I'd love to be in better shape. I believe that we can still allow comfort foods and tasty treats, if we make time for exercise and eat really well most of the time. We all know this, of course, but putting it into practice is key. That's why I'm writing this publicly. I have several fitness milestones. I'm going somewhat easy the first month, then full-bore in February and March, particularly for Lent, continuing on through spring. I hope to achieve my goals by May already, but I'm giving myself some leeway. (I know how I am.)

Yes, I know. How hopelessly archaic and uncool. Not only making New Year's resolutions, but (gasp) weight-loss resolutions! How cliche! But when this-time-next-year rolls around, and I'm standing here with a finished manuscript, fabulous new clients, looking svelte and feeling fit, I know who will get the last laugh.

Thanks to all who were an inspiration in 2010 (a great many of you--you know who you are) and a whole lotta gratitude to those already who, in the coming year, will provide further soul nourishment. Let the festivities begin!