HBD, Smagik!

Six years ago I created this blog as an exercise to find beauty in the everyday. It was a dreary, February day and I needed a self induced push and reason to get off the couch. By creating the goal of finding or eating or going to or doing something beautiful, delicious, fun, and joyful everyday, my life began to take on these same qualities. Small, everyday, easy to take for granted moments took on a new significance simply by being noticed and appreciated.

Thank you for joining me on the journey! And here’s to many more years of Adventure, Joy, Connection, and to finding the beauty in all of our everydays!

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@smagikstudio

Detached.

Back in LA for the first time since I moved and ever having lived here feels like a dream.

Back to staying in friend’s guest rooms and houses while here for work. Back to making the 12 hour drive across the desert, to looking forward to seeing and being near the ocean, to making lists of favorite restaurants where I must remember to eat while in town, to being homesick, and to seeing this city from a detached perspective. Back to seeing it as a temporary adventure rather than a chosen home. Back to the existential question “what am I doing here?” that follows me here in ways I can’t answer. Back to my favorite used clothing store, Crossroads, in Silver Lake, to the best lamb sandwich, eaten while sitting at the Bowery Bungalow bar, to traffic, to the smell of jasmine literally blowing in the wind, like a perfume Albuquerque can’t imagine, and back to work.

I like LA. Love might be too strong, but like very much. But, being back reminds me of how totally ungrounded and unanchored I felt living here. The connection I craved always just out of reach.

Family, home, dirt, love…

Drinking a beer after a long week back at work, watching others do the same, I feel nothing but gratitude for all of the twists and turns of the last few years. I’m happy to have learned to navigate this city, to feel comfortable and confident working and being here. But, I’m most grateful to the little interior voice that, upon learning all it needed to, called me home.

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Buen Provecho

In early December I came across a post on Volunteermatch.org by the non-profit usimmigrantcafe.org looking for volunteers who like food and to write. Um, yes, please! They describe themselves as “A nationwide non-profit platform showcasing immigrant restaurateurs in pursuit of their American Dream.”

Just that week, I’d spoken with a friend about my desire to become involved within the immigrant community. I wanted to do what I could to help and express gratitude to those who I believe make this country stronger and who, at various points in the distant and not too distant past, every member of my entire family had been a part of.

I responded to the ad and learned that the site was looking for people around the country to interview and tell the stories of immigrant restaurateurs within their communities. Writing and food?! Me, me, pick me!

It was up to the writers to choose the restaurant and the interview subject. I asked a few friends for suggestions and ended up interviewing Kattia Rojas at Albuquerque’s Buen Provecho Restaurant. She makes a great Costa Rican tamale, among other dishes, and recently opened a restaurant in the newly remodeled El Vado Motel. I wanted to know more.

Here’s her story.

Buen Provecho!

http://usimmigrantcafe.org/2019/01/26/buen-provecho/

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Water Birds

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There is a preciousness to water in the desert that the birds seem to understand. Instead of heading to the beach every weekend, which I still miss, I now make almost daily trips to walk along the banks of  the Rio Grande. I’m slowly making friends with its ducks, geese, and cranes.

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Next week I’ll make a quick trip back to LA for the first time since moving home. Besides earning a paycheck, I am most excited to walk in the waves and say hello to my old friends, the gulls, pipers, and pelicans.

It will be good to say a quick hello, before heading home to the cranes.

 

 

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Frozen Desert

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Iced over ponds and rivers, the smell of piñon smoke in the air, snow packed hiking trails; New Mexico is having a real winter, reminiscent of those I remember as a child. Back then, my dad would flood the yard on the north side of our house and create an ice skating rink. At night, I would tie on a pair of dull, too big skates and help him sweep snow off the ice. For the first time in 25 years, he flooded his yard last week.

img_0039There is piercing clarity to the cold light. Ducks honk overhead before landing in the Rio Grande.

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I opened a cookbook last night, “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, and made lamb meatballs with roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower. It was gooooood. And by 8 o’clock wondered aloud, is it too early for bed? I missed these dark days when I lived in LA, with its unending sunshine and great weather. Time to reset the internal clock, rest, rejuvenate, and contemplate. By the time daffodils appear sometime in late February, I will be ready for bike rides, sandals, and outdoor patios, but for now I am happy to hibernate and soak up the cold.

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Connection vs. Consumption

img_0017I am currently in the midst of that classic first Monday in January activity…sorting last year’s receipts. In a strange trip down memory lane, my desk is covered with piles of small white pieces of paper which recount all of the groceries, car repairs, restaurant meals, home improvements, dates, shopping trips, hairstyles, and donations made in 2018. Looking at the piles, as I tally up totals, I can’t help but realize how much of the money was spent out of a desire for connection rather than for whatever it was I was purchasing.

Upon my return to LA from India at the end of January, I began what would become a year of work, jumping from one film set to another, with little time for anything else. As my 60, 70, 80 hour weeks and wages increased, so did my spending. As my sleep dwindled, so did my energy and with it my desire to cook, to make, and to create. Consumption filled the void. I ate out more, shopped more, and generally spent more money as I looked for anything to fill the hole left by not having time to blog, to sleep, to exercise, and to be.

These realizations lead me to look towards 2019 with a new set of goals and resolutions. Connection! To keep that word and all that it entails at the forefront of each decision, job offer, and purchase I make. The reality is that when I am connected to my life, I probably need about half as much money as when I am not.  I sleep well and exercise so therefor don’t need to go to the doctor. I rotate my closet through a network of consignment shops which quickly turns into a fun hobby/treasure hunt. I am able to stay up to date with maintenance of car and electronics which keeps them from being neglected and therefor needing more repairs. I eat out less because I have the time and energy to cook. And I am around for when a friend calls and wants to get together, which leads to what I really want. Connection.

And, for those purchases that do still need to be made in 2019, I plan to

  1. Buy the best version, thereby hopefully having it forever. Think heirloom quality.
  2. Buy only what can be recycled and accepted back into the earth.
  3. Avoid plastic. Buy the cardboard, glass, wood, aluminum alternative whenever possible.
  4. Buy with cash, not credit.
  5. Fix, mend, tend, and repair whenever possible.

So far, 2019 is off to a fantastic start. As I look toward the future, I pledge to stop going to the hardware store for milk, as the saying goes. Rather than seek connection through consumption, I will show up where it can actually be found; in personal and professional relationships, laughter, eye contact, nature, kitchens, dancing, travels, gardens, exercise, dinner parties, hikes, couches, kisses, and creativity.

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To Live Whole

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Every year, my mom gives me a Redstone Diary Calendar for Christmas. They choose a word or a theme for the coming year, as I do, and without fail, our words tend to blend bizarrely well. Out of fear of ever being audited, I keep past calendars in discarded black shoe boxes, taken from costume departments, filled with a year’s worth of receipts.

2016 Faith/ Therapeutic

2017 Adventure/Time

2018 Love/Play

2019…

2016 was all about going deep and having faith that I’d be ok with whatever I found. 2017 asked me to let go of the timeline in my head and to see it all as an adventure.    2018 opened my heart and asked me to play. I love that for 2019 they chose the word Home. I have decided on the word Integrate.

2019 Integrate/ Home

integrate

verb

in·​te·​grate | \ˈin-tə-ˌgrāt \
integrated; integrating

Definition of integrate 

transitive verb

1: to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole : UNITE

whole

adjective

\ˈhōl \

Definition of whole 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1): free of wound or injury : UNHURT

(2): recovered from a wound or injury : RESTORED

b: free of defect or impairment : INTACT

c: physically sound and healthy : free of disease or deformity

d: mentally or emotionally sound

2: having all its proper parts or components : COMPLETE

4a: constituting an undivided unit : UNBROKEN, UNCUTa whole roast suckling pig

integrity

noun

in·​teg·​ri·​ty | \in-ˈte-grə-tē \

Definition of integrity 

1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY

2: an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS

home

noun

\ˈhōm \

Definition of home 

(Entry 1 of 6)

1a: one’s place of residence : DOMICILEhas been away from home for two weeks a place to call home

3a: a familiar or usual setting : congenial environmentalso : the focus of one’s domestic attention home is where the heart is

at home

1: relaxed and comfortable : at ease felt completely at home on the stage

2: in harmony with the surroundings

To be an integrated whole, to live a life of integrity, and to be a person at home in her body, self, and life.  A willingness to let go of control and a desire to stop compartmentalizing. A plan for my hobbies, jobs, relationships, friendships, family to combine into a whole and to mix with all of the juicy messiness that might bring. And the ability to remember that it is in this juice, this mix, that the flavor lies.

That’s what I want for 2019!

What about you?!

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Runner Up

Though maybe a bit much for 2019, how wonderful is this word?!

•I coddliwompled through the forest and came upon a little stream.

•They spent the year coddiwompling before ending up in Paris that winter.

•She coddiwompled into the American grocery store and there, ahead of her, stretched the yogurt aisle in all of its magnificent glory.

•Though we wouldn’t know it until later that year, we had been coddiwompling towards each other all along.

My search for 2019’s word is still on and, in the meantime, I’m coddiwompling through the our language.

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Holidaze’ Backwards Gaze.

IMG_9707Another year almost complete, cookies everywhere I look, twinkle lights, car accidents within feet of each other near the mall, the frenzy is upon us! How to stay present, sane, and joyful in the midst of traffic, lines, and expectations (most often self imposed)? It’s time to practice all that we’ve begun throughout the year, returning to morning routines, meditation, slowing down to breath and to laugh. And making lists helps too.

2018! What a bizarre year. How was yours?

One year ago I was preparing for a trip to India, finishing my improv and writing classes in LA, packing my car to drive East on I-40 for my Christmas trip home and the idea that I would soon move back to New Mexico permanently was nowhere on the horizon. Already that life seems like a dream. I recently hung my California license plate on the wall in my studio after finally re-registering my car in NM, as proof that it did happen, but the dreamlike quality remains.

After the initial chaos of the move back, life is finding a groove and I once again feel in the flow. 11:11 repeatedly appears, the perfect opportunities come from nowhere, old friends resurface, and only now does the level to which I was forcing things in LA seem clear. Not that it was bad. Great jobs came along, I met wonderful people, took classes, lived in a cute apartment, and overall had little to complain about, but the flow was missing. My  life felt manhandled and like something to figure out and to solve, rather than to simply be in.

But, it is also clear that it was something I had to do. I now know without any doubt that “wherever you go, there you are.” There is never anything out there (a job, a relationship, a city) that can magically create joy and contentment if it doesn’t already exist inside. We always come back to ourselves whether we like it or not.

I’m currently mulling over words for 2019. As most of you know, I intuitively choose one for each year and invariably they set the tone for the coming year. Love was my word for 2018 and when I chose it, just over one year ago, I had an inkling that though I would have loved for it to herald the arrival of an amazing new romantic relationship, it might end up being more about the self-love kind. Bingo.

And here I am, with two weeks to go before a new year begins, feeling so full of gratitude, contentment, joy, and cookies I could burst. All that I took for granted prior to moving (like my washing machine and driveway), all that I discovered and experienced while in LA (improv, storytelling, being on location for two months in sublime Northern California) and all that I want to create (an integrated life) are coming together and aligning beautifully. And I don’t take any of it for granted.

Scattered around my kitchen table, along with cookie recipes, shopping lists, and wrapping paper, are lists of words… Alignment. Commitment. Fun. Flow… I’m waiting for the 2019 winner to rise to the surface.

What’s your word for the upcoming year? What do you want to create?

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