Finding My Ikigai While In Santa Monica.

There’s a Japanese concept that I love called ikigai that means “a reason for being” or “a reason to get up in the morning.” According to Japanese culture, everyone has an ikigai. Finding it often requires a deep and lengthy search of self, but it’s usually a sweet spot made from a combination of four things: what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.

Marigold Garlands For Healing.

“In the end, only three things matter how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” I lost one of my best friends this week. I’ve cried more in the last week than I’ve cried in the past ten years. I’ve hugged loved ones longer and tighter than I ever have before. And yet, throughout this full-on grieving process with our close circle of friends, I’ve also experienced such a healing new depth of love.

Friday the 13th Storytelling.

In October, I had a Friday the 13th themed storytelling potluck to celebrate the most unlucky day in Western superstition. We shared stories of childhood rituals, spooky cultural folklore, and our most comically tragic stories of misfortune. We feasted together on the most abundant potluck spread I’ve ever seen. Yeah, it was a really special night. (I’m just gushing with gratitude for this new community in Durham.)

See you soon and see you often, Asheville.

Asheville,

You were the most nurturing mountain town to live in while writing and finishing a 175-page dissertation (guess I finally got to have my romantic “recluse in the mountains” phase of life). Thank you for the nourishing community, the 360 degrees of natural beauty-fueled inspiration, and your constant little reminders to be kinder and more gentle towards myself.

“Find a cause where your heart doesn’t feel inactive.”

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything leisurely, and you know what? I completely and unreservedly blame this dissertation. For the past few weeks, it’s been academic writing, research, statistics, and analysis *every day* for as long as I physically and possibly can. On the bright side, I am happy to share that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and closer. I’m starting to squint, reaching around aimlessly looking for the sunglasses I dropped on the floor. Come April, I’ll finally be finished with this dissertation: