silent night

It is snowing in Minnesota. Winter is upon us, and I can’t help but feel inspired. I love the snow. Everyone has to slow down when it snows. We’re forced to prioritize what is important and necessary. It’s a shared experience that brings about some more empathy, patience and understanding.

I find that the stillness of the snow brings me peace, quiet and reflection. The world is dusted with a fresh canvas, awaiting disruption. When it snows, I often find myself bundling up to walk. I love just to get lost in the serenity that has fallen upon the busy city.

I ventured out in the latest snow storm to clear off my car and run it, hoping to avoid any mishaps or a dead battery before the heavy flakes arrive overnight. The glow of the streetlights illuminated the glittery, powdery flakes that danced to the ground. The relatively untraveled sidewalks beckoned me. I couldn’t resist and wandered to see what would be revealed on my journey.

The crunch of the fresh snow under my boots brought the first spark of joy that kept me going. I can count on one hand the number of cars that passed me. I could hear the scraping of two shovels, and the only living creature that noticed me was a curious dog, happily playing in the powder.  I trudged along the path, peering at the lit Christmas trees in the window and admiring the thoughtful decorations outside the homes. I was delighted to come across icicles on a red house with sparkling lights. They looked almost fake perfectly dangling.

The snow left me breathless and in awe. As I gazed above and marveled in its majesty, suddenly “Silent Night” started playing in my head. I was overcome with peace and gratitude to be alive.

Something similar happened to me once before. After spending a day in the newsroom covering a mass terror attack, I called my brother, who was 9 at the time, to go for a walk. I needed to clear my mind in nature. We set off for the Arboretum after my shift. We went for a walk in the early spring with cameras in tow. Suddenly, my brother began humming the Lenten hymn “Were You There.” I remembered it was Holy Week.

There was something so beautiful and innocent in that moment, it was seared in my memory. Here we were, walking together along a path where signs of life were re-emerging. The world didn’t seem so lonely and scary. This child had awakened that feeling of peace and gratitude.

I smiled at the memory, and suddenly became aware it was rather cold. As I circled back to my starting point, I passed landmarks of my childhood and recalled the childlike simplicity of the world. The silent night brought me home, and the snow continued its descent.

The heat was overwhelming and almost suffocating when I opened the door to the building. I did not want to go inside, but unfortunately my legs were freezing in ill-suited yoga pants. I entered my cozy apartment to find my 30-minute adventure resulted in a helmet of fresh snow coating my head.

I grabbed a fresh cup of tea and sat to watch the snow, thankful for the stillness and grateful to be alive as the snow melted, trickling down my back.

trusting the journey

I need to make a confession. I’ve had this domain for longer than I would like to admit. I delayed its birth as I kept obsessing over what to write and how to start. I am finally starting, but I need to let you know I have no idea where this is going.

Professionally, I am a journalist who spends the work week entrenched in world and national news of the day. Weekly, I slide into my night school role as a graduate student pursuing a masters in English, specializing in literary journalism. The rest of the time I occupy a busybody, crazily (and happily) running between volunteer commitments, family and friends.

However, I am starting to seek and appreciate more quiet moments in life. Those moments of inspiration come when least expected, and the key is listening when they strike. Sometimes I will snap a picture, other times I jot a note down. Sometimes I just take a deep breath and appreciate the what the world has shown me. This blog is meant to be a collection of those moments and thoughts that are guiding my life.

The motivation to start the blog came when I was driving. I used to be terrified of navigating to a new destination. The anxiety overwhelmed me to a point where I often talked myself out of getting behind the wheel. However, when you become a community journalist, you quickly get over it. It’s not an option. Half your day can be spent in a car driving to always changing destinations to produce uncertain results.

In my car, I found freedom, strength and serenity in driving. It became my sanctuary. A place to clear my mind, rock out to music, sing too loudly or cry. As Minnesota drivers know though, the roads become unpredictable in inclement weather. As I drove down the road Sunday, a cloak of fog surrounded me, covering what was familiar and known. I ventured over a bridge I have known since my childhood, but I could not see the end. Yet it struck me as poetry rather than panic. It was a kind reminder that sometimes we have to trust the journey, even when we enter blindly.

I invite you to join me on this journey. So welcome, fellow writers and wafflers. Let us see what unfolds.