It takes practice

Let me begin with an excuse: it's hard to keep a blog while you're in graduate school. Really hard. When I get done working and writing and reading, I actually just want to watch the latest BBC series I'm into or clips from Late Night, not write a new piece for my blog. Does that make me a terrible person? A not-serious writer? Maybe. I'm trying to get past that. And I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself in this season – I'm really good at doing that and friends keep reminding me to give myself grace.

It's hard to believe we are halfway through our second term already. January and February have felt equally slow and whirlwinded. My family started the year off with some fairly affecting health concerns, which kept me from any real ability to focus and be present in my first weeks of the term. It took me a while to settle back in and continue to work towards making this place my home. I continue to be grateful for what feels like a burgeoning sense of place and friendship here. Every once in a while that familiar pang of loneliness hits me deep in the gut and I remember the 2,000 miles between me and the humans closest to me. I have learned to share this not out of a need for your sadness or compassion – though I'll take it – but because I have learned there are many other souls around me who know this loneliness too, and sometimes it is enough just to know you are not in it alone.

As I settle into Seattle and foster relationships here, I also grieve for what I leave behind, for how my true home feels a little more foreign each time I go back. I have been so desirous to feel more grounded that I didn't expect to feel grief at what I give up in turn. Dang. An instructor at school tells me life is not without grief, we cycle in and out of grief always. She often asks me if I can bless that, bless the life that moves in and out of these spaces of heartache. I'm trying. It is very hard work, but I'm giving it my best go.

This reminds me of a stunning image of modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. She created a movement language based upon the expressive capacity of the human body. This image was referenced in class last term under the title "a gesture of hope." This is not a movement you just wake up one morning and do; it takes practice. It is a gesture achieved only through the intentional practicing towards the hoped for goal. We practice ourselves into a hopeful gesture. The desire and the work towards blessing what life is in this moment and any heartache it may hold feels much like Martha Graham's gesture of hope.

In between my practicing of this hopeful gesture and the absurd amount of reading required of me, I have been exploring a bit of the Pacific Northwest.

The grey and lovely Port Townsend.

Perhaps the most stunning sunset I've ever seen ... from the third floor of my school building.

And hiking Little Si on one of the most gorgeous days of a Seattle "winter."

I finally hung my amazing Christmas gift terrarium – laying the bark and mounding the dirt, making little ebenezers of the stones, and putting the moss just so, with my favorite bits towards the front. I'm grateful to have this little microcosm of life and substance in the corner of my room, a small and beautiful thing to tend to.

Today a friend and I made the first batch of hot cross buns of the season. The citrus and spice smell as they bake is a true sign of the lenten season and reminds me of home and easter and family. I was feeling both nostalgic longing and a comforting familiarity as I marked each roll with a cross. When the week starts to feel a little muddled, it's good to return to the known. I feel like I can better go out into the world, having practiced a bit of a hopeful gesture.