The cookies are baked, the boxes boxed, some are delivered, others in the mail, going to far off places to be devoured, sentenced to a glittery, crunchy, sugary sweet death…

2018-12-17 21.49.432018-12-17 20.51.18

2018 Cookie season is coming to a close.

I have a confession.  I’m not sure how many more cookie madness years I’ve got in me.  No, not committed to throwing in the towel just yet, but I know I can count the of cookie insanity years I’ve got left in the tank on one hand(ish).  Next year’s theme is pretty locked down, and I’ve definitely still got brown boxes to use up, but for the first time I really allowed the thought to cross my mind in more than just a fleeting way.  I have no idea what the future holds.  And that, my friends, is a wonderful, beautiful, freeing place to be.

December 2, 2017 was the start of our new life in Concord, CA.  Everything I KNEW, just KNEW to be my life was flipped on it’s head, jostled around and rolled out with an unceremonious “splat”.  Remember Boggle, aka analog text twist?  The cube filled with letters gets shaken violently before being righted, and the letter dice just seem to fall into place and you need to make sense of it and then see how many words as you can make before time runs out.  Yeah.  Just like that.

I honestly didn’t see life being anywhere else but Pacifica.  I loved that town, loved our house and all the memories that were made there.  Things were in their places before they got flipped on their heads and it was comfortable, happy even in so many ways that matter.

That’s the thing about change that sucks.  You just never know when it’s coming and sometimes you don’t get to know why.  Choices are thrust upon you and you must choose and make what can be life altering decisions that have a ripple effect throughout all areas of your life.  Sometimes you just can’t see the impact, what lies beyond the moment and that can be utterly terrifying.  For someone like me who often plays the “choose your own adventure” game and over-thinks things through as far as possible, it’s hard to turn off your mind and just ride along.  You fret.  You wonder.  You hope.

Transformative change is the scariest kind.  Once you move forward, there is really no way to undo what has been done.   Like not being able to “un-see” Tom Cruise’s middle-aligned tooth or Ryan Reynolds’ small hands (thanks A LOT MOTU). It’s transformative for a reason.  You cease to be the person you once were or abandon the state of mind/being/body you just 100% knew you were a moment ago.  It’s awesome. It’s terrible.  It’s the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to you.  You are shook.  You are burnt, sometimes all the way to the ground and nothing is left of the old you but remnants, ash.

My life today barely resembles the life I led in Pacifica.  Yes, the pieces are somewhat the same, but at the same time, totally not.  I mourned that life, that Jenn, and it’s felt raw and a little crispy-charred here and there.  But there is also hope.  A glimmer of light, a spark, something new and great being born out of the rubble and wreckage.  I think you know where this is going.

“A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration.”

– The Feng Shui Handbook, feng shui Master Lam Kam Chuen

Transformation, change, rebirth and ultimately something beautiful rising up.  Freedom, flight, hope and renewal.  This year has been all of that.  I am far from flying at this very moment, but there is hope and beauty coming out of the dark.  It’s kind of fitting.  The last cookie box I did was all about darkness.  This one is what comes after.  The rise, the flight, the fire.  This is the year of the phoenix for me, and I’m sharing all that brightness, that beauty, that hope with you this holiday.

While writing this post, I did the internet rabbit hole thing, and found myself reading everything from mythology to religion, tattoo artist stuff and people selling spirit animal totem jewelry.  Yeah, random, but I did say I rabbit-holed a bit.  There’s a lot out there on this symbol and I think a lot of it fits perfectly to where I’m at and what I’m going through.  This site had some cool stuff and yeah, I gotta throw a little Asian on ya for a sec:

“The sighting of the phoenix is a good sign that a wise leader has ascended to the throne and a new era has begun. It was representative of Chinese virtues: goodness, duty, propriety, kindness and reliability.”

I’m not done transforming, and I’m still not out of the ash just yet, but for the first time in a long long while, something is absolutely right with me in a way it hasn’t been before.  I’m hopeful.  I’m starting to feel new again, focused, balanced.  I want to fly.  I need to fly.  I will fly.  I will rise anew.

So much good has happened this year, yet a lot of sad.  Weird sad.  Unexpected sad that reminds you just how human you are.  But I’m grateful.  I have my family.  My friends, my life.  It is good in so many ways, and I’m choosing to focus on that and to be here, in this moment and feel thankful for all that my life has become and to celebrate, not mourn how I have gotten to this point and the person I have become.

I love my family—The Husband, McIrish, MOTU—just a few among so many who affect and support me—I’m lucky to have them all (you know who you are, I hope).  I wish I could give them so much more than I’m able.  A pretty box of cookies just doesn’t cut it, but it’s a piece of myself that I can give to those around me who make life better and keep me sane and shiny even when it feels bleak and at its darkest.

So as this year ends, I want to reflect on that and yes, celebrate it and the beauty I have in my life right now.  Thank you, to my family, friends, co-workers—I wanted to give you something beautiful, I wanted to give you some of my hope and share all of this wonderful, terrifying journey with you however I can because it’s changed me, profoundly.  And while I have no idea what the future looks like or where I’ll be this time next year, I know confidently, where I am now and who I have become can take it, can make it and will always rise again and fly.

Happy holidays people. Hug your families, your pets and have a happy holiday season.

Once more, here is the cookie decoder:

Cookie Decoder 2018