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Romance

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of romance lately. Not necessarily the kind that involves a significant other (although that definitely counts), but romance in the everyday.

Ro·mance
Noun
A quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.

Romance is writing with a fountain pen just because.
It’s stopping to cut flowers from all of the bright branches you see.
It’s leaving a flower on a friend’s doorstop.
It’s dancing and soaking yourself in the rain.
Taking the afternoon off to lay in the grass.
Candles in the early morning.
Walking barefoot in nature.
Watching the sun fully rise or set (sans phone).
Looking through old printed photographs.
Eating dinner outside.
Holding someone’s (anyone’s) hand.
Eating breakfast in bed.
Infusing water with flowers.
Enjoying an ice cream cone all alone.
Dancing like a weird one.
Sending handwritten letters.
Growing a plant, a flower, a garden.
Spending time with friends around a fire.
Paying for the stranger behind you in line.
Going to the movies in the morning.
Showering outdoors.
Swimming naked.

Romance is being present, living slowly, feeling grateful, taking care of yourself and choosing to see the glimmers of beauty that are always around us.

So much of the modern world is missing romance and we needed it more than ever. Romance is what makes a life magical, regardless of the circumstances.

“The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things… The trivial pleasure like cooking, one’s home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.” Barbara Pym

“That’s the thing about magic; you’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.” -Charles de Lint

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” -Arthur Conan Doyle

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl

“But all the magic I have known I’ve had to make myself.” -Shel Silverstein

“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” -W.B. Yeats

Spring Simplicity

Spring is so wonderful, but it can also be pretty tumultuous. The weather can go from 70 and sunny to a snowstorm and back again. Everybody seems to get sick. Hello allergies! And that longing ache for full-on summer. Here are 5 tips to help ease into and simplify your spring.

Spring Clean

Its cliché, but spring cleaning really does do wonders. Give your home a deep clean and get rid of (donate or sell) any of your stuff that’s either not directly improving your life or doesn’t bring you joy. Also, make sure to put away your winter things – snow boots, parkas, extra comforters.

Plan Your Wardrobe

Planning out my seasonal wardrobes is something I’ve been doing for a few years now that has made my life so much simpler. Each season, I take a look at everything I own and keep only what I want to wear for the next 3 months in my closet. Everything else gets put in a storage bin under my bed or is donated. Then, I allow myself to buy a maximum of 3 new things each season (not including essentials like socks and underwear). Sometimes I don’t buy anything, but giving myself this limit means that I’m extra intentional about what I do add. This process has helped me to build a beautiful and small wardrobe of only things I love slowly over time. This spring, I added:

The Double Pocket Trousers in Black (coming in late summer).
This awesome vintage chore coat.
-A loose striped linen t-shirt.

Take A Breather

Taking a time out is a really helpful way to say goodbye to one season and hello to the next. Time off is rejuvenating, refreshes your work ethic and helps you to more clearly see what to focus on for the months ahead. Last week, I took five days off in Argentina. I soaked up sunshine in Buenos Aires, drank malbec in Mendoza and didn’t look at my email or Instagram once. So good.

Update Your Exercise

Exercising in the winter is really tough for me. Walking to the gym is freezing. Jogging on a treadmill is just so dull. As soon as April hits, I’m back to running outside and walking the 20 minutes to my favorite yoga class. So good!

Take It Slow

Just because its warmer outside doesn’t mean you have to suddenly do all the things you didn’t do when it was dark and cold. Be gentle on yourself, keep your days simple and make the space to enjoy all of the little things that Spring has to offer – warmth, light, freshness, flowers, anticipation.

“For a seed to to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” -Cynthia Occelli

“They remembered only the feeling which is the meaning of spring — one’s answer to the first blades of grass, the first buds on the tree branches, the first blue of the sky — the singing answer, not to grass, trees and sky, but to the great sense of beginning, of triumphant progression, of certainty in an achievement that nothing will stop.” -Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.” -John Galsworthy

December Feelings

December can get crazy. There’s this pressure to get everything done so that you can relax by Christmas. There’s pressure to attend all of the parties. There’s pressure to spend money buying gifts. There’s pressure to find the perfect gifts. This year, I’m trying to take a step away from all of that and instead am focusing on all of the little things that can make this month feel so warm.

Below are two quotes that I’ve come across recently.

“Dios aprieta peru no ahorca.” (God squeezes, but he does not choke.)

Our patternmaker, Iris, said this to me during an especially crazy pre-photoshoot day a few weeks ago. God / the universe / the world will push you, but only for your own good. It wants you to grow, not shrink.

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing,” thought Francie, “something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains – a cup of strong hot coffee when you’re blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you’re alone – just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.” -A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The holidays don’t have to be about how many festivities you made it to or if you found the very best sweater for your brother. Instead, they can (and should) be about taking the time for and spreading the warmth.

The Little Things

An ice cream cone in the middle of the day.
Walking slowly to work.
A croissant from the French bakery down the street – on a Monday.
Noticing something beautiful on your block that you’ve never truly seen before.
Having somebody innocently and genuinely smile at you.
Finding a note from a loved one in an unexpected place.
Getting whipped cream on your hot chocolate.
Taking an hour lunch break to sit outside, even when you’re busy.
Reading on a stoop in the sun.
Burger dates with your best friend.
Witnessing an act of kindness between two strangers.
Watching the sun rise and set.
Going to the movies with coffee on a cold morning.
Going to the movies on opening night alone (you always get a seat).
Giving and receiving gifts with deep meaning.
Seeing an old man or woman smile wide.
Having somebody you love take your hand in theirs.
Reading a really good book in one day.
Reading in the same position until a limb falls asleep, and still not moving.
Exploring a new place with no agenda.
Listening to a new song on repeat for an entire afternoon.
Cooking for your parents.
Sitting by a wood fire in the morning.
S’mores made over a campfire.
Being surrounded by fireflies.
That feeling of instant calm when you arrive at the ocean.
Swimming with your dog.
Body surfing a wave all the way to shore.
A really really good glass of red wine.
A hike on the first perfect fall day.
Laying in the grass on a summer night staring up at the stars.
A long run in the woods with your music turned up.
A perfectly ripe summer tomato.
Homemade dinner alfresco.

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

What are your little things?

BLOCK ISLAND

Block Island is a small New England island situated 13 miles off the tip of Montauk and 14 miles from the coast of Rhode Island. It’s less well-known than it’s counterparts, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, and that’s partly on purpose. Block Island is modest. You won’t find expensive shopping, fine dining (although there are some excellent restaurants) or scenesters. There’s no golf course. And while there is a small airport, it’s not big enough for commercial jets.

Block Island’s values center on the land. 44.7% and growing of the island is protected land, thanks to the Block Island Conservancy, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, set up in 1972. Greenways (hiking trails (see above)) weave across the island. And the first offshore wind farm in the United States is currently being built 3 miles off the coast of the island.

Block Island also happens to be my place of residence many weekends of the year and is a major source of inspiration behind Eenvoud. There is something about the island that can only truly be understood by being there — a palpable appreciation for nature, simplicity and time spent well with each other. If there’s any place that truly values “the little things”, it is Block Island.

On that note, I want to leave you with a quote I stumbled on recently and that I think so perfectly embodies a way of living that so many of us are chasing after in life…

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly; await occasions, hurry never;  in a word: to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common – that is my symphony.”

-William Henry Channing

Have a wonderful weekend. Hurry never.

REJUVENATION

Last week I took the week off. Right in the midst of gearing up for production. This past year has left me mostly weekend-less and working late at night almost every night. I love working on Eenvoud, but once our Kickstarter rolled past $10k, I was done. Nothing left to give – no energy, no drive, no will to work. I burned myself out and I burnt myself good.

Roatán is a small island off the eastern coast of Honduras and is known for it’s incredible diving (it’s surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world, second only to The Great Barrier Reef). I went with friends and family, I didn’t bring my laptop and I left my phone on airplane mode, checking it only once at night for anything urgent. I spent the mornings reading and drinking coffee near the water, the days in meditation 60 feet underwater and the evenings watching the sun set with friends, rum punch and baleadas. Nobody around us had cell phones out at any point in the day, and without that constant urge to check my email or Instagram, I was able to fully experience the place that I was in and be with the people that I was with. And it felt so damn good.

I came back with drive – my tank re-filled, and with more than just rum. Spending that week in Roatan made me realize how much fully checking out helps to keep me happy and full of energy when I need to be on. Even when I do take days off, I still find myself constantly checking email and social media. It’s like having an app running in the background – it still drains your battery.

So I’ve decided to try something new this summer. In honor of working hard AND enjoying all of the little things that make life what it is. Here are the rules:

  • No working on the weekends unless absolutely necessary
  • No checking email or checking social media on the weekends
  • If I do need to do work, do so more consciously – give myself a few hours to get in and get out. No email or social media checking allowed.

I’d love to hear what you do to rejuvenate. Please feel free to share in the comments below.