I’m filled with warmth when I look back on this year’s holidays. My husband and I got to spend lots of time with family and friends, we decorated a tree that we picked out at one of our favorite local farms, and we cooked oodles of cookies and eggplant parmesan together. Other years have felt more stressful, but this year I consciously practiced letting go. By the time the holidays rolled around, I had just finished a 40-day program at a yoga center nearby. The program was multifaceted in that it addressed nutrition, yoga, meditation, journaling, and more — but for me all of the facets kept pointing me towards a state of more acute “awakeness”, if that makes sense. During the program I found myself noticing the color of the sky more often, or feeling gratitude for things like the air in my lungs, or sending love to the angry driver who cut someone off, or simply hearing the ongoing (and quite entertaining) human dialogue that goes on in my head. I think that awakeness carried into the holidays and helped me care less about expectation and perfectionism, and more about experience and connection.
During the holidays I had a great opportunity to photograph a gathering of women at their annual friends Christmas party. The house was beautifully lavish, the host is truly gifted at decorating and creating an incredibly welcoming, inspiring, and relaxing atmosphere. Listen, I took pictures of a bejeweled and illuminated cupcake tray for at least ten minutes — that should give you some indication of how thoughtfully and beautifully she puts together her details. But as impressed as I was with the details, I was knocked out by the love and friendship these women so obviously share. They have been friends for over 30 years and they gather every year for this party. After arriving and bringing in gifts, and taking coats off, and getting together to take a group picture for posterity, these beautiful women settled in and sat down across from each other in comfy chairs and couches…and they talked. In pairs, in groups. They listened. They smiled. They giggled and rolled eyes. They remembered. They shared. They howled with laughter. They opened gifts — thoughtful gifts. They read time capsule letters written by the host last year. In the midst of fantastic cupcake servers, and illuminated cocktails, and other finery there was love. And it was beautiful.
If you’ve read this far, and are interested in the 40-day program I mentioned above, you can find it here: Roots to Wings Yoga & Healing. A special place, and a beautiful community of people.