hello again!

Hi. It’s me, Janessa. The ol’ Epicurious Vegan.

I miss writing. I don’t necessarily miss blogging–the behind-the-scenes updates & tech skills & picture taking and uploading & troubleshooting (I have the tech skills of a nine-year old from 1983), BUT I do miss writing; sharing my thoughts and experiences and words and ramblings with my friends.

So here I am. Blogging. Can you even be a part-time blogger anymore? Has blogging evolved so much that it is now a legit job that requires pop-up ads, product reviews and Pinterest-worthy shots of recipes taken with thousand dollar cameras? Hmmm, maybe for some (most) (successful) people! For me, I still blog like it’s 2009. I don’t do it to make dolla bills y’all, I do it for fun, and to share pictures of disregarded pandas:

Panda says “Saveeee Meeeeee”

 

So there’s that. I have a real problem with obligation—like, if I think I HAVE to write something, I won’t do it, just to spite myself. It’s a charming quality that everybody loves. So I’ll just pop in here when I feel like recapping a travel experience or reviewing a sweet product or sharing a random photo or event. I’m also in adoration of subscription boxes, so depending on how lazy I get when it comes to taking photos in daylight will post reviews down the line.

Toodle-oo for now, dear ones!

 

2012: End of Year Thoughts and Ruminations

 

2012 has been a wonderful year. If I were the type to pick favorites, and I am, I’d say it’s one of my favorite years to date.

Travel happened. A lot. LA and Chicago in January, Seoul, South Korea in February, Las Vegas in March, Cottage Grove road trip in April, Seattle in May…twice, Cave Junction (my hometown) in June, camping on the coast and in the mountains in the summer months, Seattle again in November, and Chicago again in September. A lot of that was Vida Vegan or blog-related, and a handful were pure pleasure and family visits.

And because I haven’t done it yet and I have about 500 pictures of my trip to visit my older brother Ahimsa in Korea, here are a handful:

 

At Gyeongbokgung Palace in Northern Seoul:

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The cutest coffee cup in the world and vegan bibimbap:

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My brother and I goofing off:

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The view of Seoul at Twilight from the top of a hike up a very tall mountain (I think we could even almost see North Korea at points!):

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This is my “I’m about to enter a Rastafarian bar in South Korea” face:

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Olympic Park (Seoul hosted The Olympics in 1988):

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In which my brother and I play the game “Imitate the inanimate thing you’re standing next to”:

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Hey, recognize this guy? It’s Ryan Patey! (The gal is my brother’s girlfriend and travel partner. We’re standing outside a castle bar that served popcorn. Hence the big smile on my face.)

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Travel is a major component of my life, and in 2011 when I thought about my intentions for this year, being open to and pursuing travel was a major theme. I’m grateful I had so many travel opportunities in 2012, and I hope and foresee even more in 2013.

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Last year on New Year’s Eve, I worked at the Pub helping with inventory until 11pm, then caught a ride home for some much-desired solitude. I love working with people (it’s been my chosen career for over a decade for a reason), but sometimes a little self-date is absolutely necessary to regroup and re-center. I came home, popped corn (naturally) and champagne (naturally), and curled up on my couch listening to Auld Lang Sang and working on my intentions for 2012. It was an absolutely perfect way to start this year out. And it helped keep me centered throughout.

 

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It’s been a really strong year—filled with growth (spiritually, mentally, and, due to my bike accident in September, physically. ha.) and new experiences and love and more acceptance and inner peace, and humor, and tons (literally?) of good food and cocktails and some great dating and making new friends and cementing old friendships and practicing being grateful every single day and appreciating the moment I’m in, whether  it’s a joyful moment or a painful moment. Sure, I’ve had my share of let-downs and frustrations this year, but I’ve really been working on appreciating those for what they are, seeing how I can learn from them, and moving on.

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Either tonight or tomorrow, I’m going to think about my intentions for 2013. I’m excited for the new year—there’s a good friend’s wedding reception in Austin in April, Vida Vegan Con TWO in May, and some other half-baked glorious plans I’ve been scheming about for awhile.

I read an article yesterday from Psychology Today called “Five Things You Can Do Instead of New Year’s Resolutions” you may like. I really like it.

Here’s the first one:

1. Write yourself a letter from your future self, dated 1/1/2014. Imagine looking back at 2013, from a place of having achieved your most important goal for the year. In your letter, thank your present self for all you did to achieve your goals—and be specific. Or give yourself some compassionate advice from your wiser, 2014 self. Research shows that connecting to your future self in this way can help you make a difficult change and succeed at your goals.

For the remaining four, follow this link. It’s worth a read.

 

I generally keep my intentions private, but two I’ll share that I’ve already been working on: more travel and more reading. I love reading so much—heck, I majored in Literature in college, and we know I didn’t do it for the large paycheck I get working in the service industry—and sort of got away from it over the past few years as I got more involved in event planning, organizing, blogging and restaurant management. But I’m back, I updated my Goodreads profile, and I’m planning on reading a whole heck of a lot more in 2013.

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What about you? Do you like to make resolutions or do reflecting at the end of the year? Have you experienced major changes that you wouldn’t have expected a year ago today? Is there anything you’re immensely looking forward to in 2013?

 

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What have you learned this year?

A few lessons I’ve learned (or relearned) this year:

* Trust your life. Trust each moment that you’re having, for the simple reason that you’re having it. If you don’t like that moment, think of why and wonder what you can learn from it.

* The only thing holding you back from ANYTHING you want to do is yourself. Want to be more productive? You can do it. Want to travel more? You can do it. Want to change your job? You can do it. Want to foster better relationships? You can do it. Don’t blame other people or situations; just focus on what YOU can do. Things will happen.

* Want to be more peaceful? Choose it. In every single moment. If we can choose to be irritated or anxious or insecure, we can choose peace or happiness instead. It might not work in every single moment right away, but you will notice a difference in lots of little ways. Try it.

* Communicating honestly means a ton of reflection. You must recognize your own truths before being able to communicate them fully. And open communication and honesty is the key to healthy relationships (with yourself and with others).

* If the answer is not a resounding YES, it’s a no. This works in every single situation I’ve encountered: dating, social plans, life plans, food, every single choice you make: if it’s not YES!, it’s no.

* Vocabulary matters. Instead of saying (even or especially to yourself) “I can’t”, I don’t have time”, or “I should”; try “I am choosing (not) to” and “I am not willing to make this a priority in my life or my day right now”. Take responsibility for your desires and dislikes. And I just think ‘should’ is a dirty word.

 

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Thanks for reading my blog in 2012. Here’s to a happy, healthy, humorous and joyful 2013! Happy New Year!

Losing My Dad, Two Years Later

 

Two Years Later….

My dad passed away two years ago this weekend. Though most of my blog posts contain recipes or odes to tacos or pictures of champagne, it also contains a section about my Dad. During his illness, the only way I knew how to process my emotions was to write. And I posted my thoughts on my blog. And people read them. I think about taking this section down sometimes, because my feelings are not as raw as they once were, and I ask myself just how long should I have something so personal and emotional posted for anyone to see. But, two years later, people still read them. People find my blog every day by searching for ‘losing my dad’ ‘loss of father’ ‘losing my dad one year later’. To everyone who finds my blog by searching for comfort or searching for someone who knows what you’re going through, I am writing this post to say: it does get better. You will feel better.

This post is both easier and harder to write than the one I wrote last year, on the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing away. It’s easier because more time has passed, the normal that is losing your parent is becoming more normal, and because I’m not crying as I write this. Yet. It’s harder for the same reasons. More time has passed—it’s been two years this weekend since my dad passed away. I’ve lived two years without my dad. And I’m not crying as I write this—I almost feel guilty that I’m not crying. My dad being alive is getting farther and farther from me as time goes on.

The hardest times for me are on his birthday in December, and this weekend in May, Memorial Day. He is on my mind constantly. I still think of picking up the phone and calling him sometimes. Does that ever go away? I still cry every single time I hear an Eagles song. It’s a self-made link in my head, and now it’s there, forever. Maybe it’s a way for me to hold on to him, to be reminded of him. A bittersweet tribute, I guess; it’s nice when I have the presence and intention to sit and think of him, but can suck when a particular song plays in a restaurant or when I’m at work and I automatically tear up.

I think the hardest part, besides missing his presence and his Gandalf-like wisdom and bald head and jokes and smell and songs and self, is the way it happened. That part still gets me. It seems so cruel. And though I  don’t think I ever mentioned it here, there was a lot of drama with his side of the family that took an enormous toll on me. I still want to rail against the universe sometimes; I get that it’s a cycle, but can’t we let the good ones go easier?

You can’t change the course of life though, and you can’t change the past. I’ve learned so much by being by my dad’s side as he passed away.
 
I’ve learned to appreciate my family, and really everyone, more frequently and more sincerely. Life is fleeting and occasionally unfair; I want to show my appreciation and feel my appreciation for loved ones as much as I can. I don’t want to waste my time on the small stuff.
I’ve learned that those irritating little quirks that we all have will eventually make for fond reminiscing. Think about a quality your partner or parent has that you may not like. Realize it’s part of what makes them who they are and you may just miss it when it’s gone. I missed everything about my Dad when he was gone—even, and especially, his stubbornness.
I’ve learned that when I’m caught in an unexpected rain storm and I get soaked and my toes are wet and my mascara’s running down my face that it’s okay because I am so incredibly lucky to be able to be outside and feel the rain as it hits my body. One day I won’t be able to feel the rain on my face or have wet toes; I want to soak up every moment of it until then. My dad and I left the hospital together for a few hours on the last Saturday before he had his stroke. He had just gotten his eyesight back, and we took the bus down the hill from the VA Hospital to downtown, just to walk around. The wonder that was in his eyes was inspiring. Though he had seen downtown Portland before, he looked at it in a new way. He was so appreciative just to be out and about and with me and around people doing their everyday people things.
I’ve learned that when I look in the mirror and see love handles or chubby thighs, that they’re MY love handles and chubby thighs. They’re part of me. When my dad started losing weight in his hospital bed, I would have given anything to have him back to his old round self. We have these bodies that take us through our life. We need to take care of them, but we also need to appreciate them for what they are; they are vehicles for our souls. I don’t care what kind of body my dad was housed in, I would have loved him whatever his outsides looked like. When I arrived to his hospital room the night he passed away, I could tell in an instant that that my Dad, James Kerp, was gone. What made him him had left his body. So my chubby knees? I’ll take ‘em, because they’re part of me and house my inner self, which I’m fond of.
I’ve learned to appreciate the here and the now. We don’t know where life takes us and when our personal journey is over. So we better make the most of what we have. My dad and I had talked about him paying a visit to my older brother in Korea. He didn’t have a passport yet, but he wanted to make it happen. Someday. But that someday never came. 5 months later, he was confined to a bed and a machine. Seize the day, seize your life, and do those things on your bucket list now.
I’ve learned that grief is heartbreaking and terrible and lonely and confusing, but it subsides. It never goes away completely, it’s a part of us forever, but it’s like a scar. Some days you notice it and it is so strong and throbbing and you can’t think of anything else. And some days, it’s just there, part of you, and part of what makes you who are you.
My dad taught me so many things, in life and in death, and though I miss him, every day, I am thankful for the gifts he gave me. Last year I wrote:
I want to have a healthy outlook on death and dying and I want it now. It takes time, so I cry when I get frustrated that I’m still crying. My memories still hurt.
This year, on the second anniversary of his passing, I feel I’m getting there. I know I won’t always feel as centered as I do right now, today, and I know that the tears will still come unexpectedly and I’ll miss him so much it hurts at times. But I know that as time goes by, his absence doesn’t sting as much as frequently. And I know that it’s okay to cry sometimes, but it’s also okay to laugh and to move forward.

 

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