SEPTEMBER SOMETHINGS: The Start of Autumn, Bethlehem Vegfest, and a Writing Retreat

This morning I woke up to a familiar feeling: that first September morning that feels comparatively cold, my body heat cocooned under the comforter, the dog serving as a fuzzy makeshift foot-warmer.

The Fall season is upon us, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I know about science and weather and seasons, but every year at this time, it feels like a gift just for me.

I never get sick of photos of pumpkin drinks and flat boots. Post away. Here's my first contribution.

I never get sick of photos of pumpkin drinks and flat boots. Post away. Here’s my first contribution.

The other day I read something about September being “an alternative New Year’s Day” as a time for reflection and transformation, personal promises and fresh starts. This resonates so deeply with me. A month ago we had a week of chillier, end-of-summer temperatures and I swapped my summer dresses out of my closet, trading them for cardigans and boots. I’ve sorted my book collection so the creepy, haunting novels are on the top shelf, Shirley Jackson and Thomas Tryon ready for consumption. (Surely I’m not the only one to read fiction according to season?). I sleep in short sleeves knowing that on gloriously loungey mornings like this one, I will wake up just a bit cold and get to burrow inside the bed a little deeper.

Let me tell you about a few things:

Bethlehem Vegfest is tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 7th) from 11am-6pm. Has it really been a year? This year, raise your hands to the sky and rejoice because it is (finally! FINALLY!) all vegan, just as it should be. It’s been rebuilt a bit on the inside, making the festival a little smaller but more… Vegfesty. I wish for all the speakers, vendors and patrons to have a truly wonderful time and to continue to keep the festival a positive, friendly, and inspiring event for all. Go here to view all the details.  (And I was quoted for a little newspaper article, thanks Express Times.)

stk vegfest

Later that night, I’m heading to Philly for the Emmys! Very excited about my beautiful dress, though competitions make me sick to my stomach and I’ll feel better when it’s over.  Hopefully Matt will tell tales of new fatherhood and we can talk about how his one year old daughter and I get same-level excited about Ikea selling giant plush vegetables with faces, or something.

And then! It’s off to a Solo Writer’s Retreat.

Sunday morning, I’m smooching Ryan goodbye as he heads to Canada for work (he’s going to the Toronto International Film Festival, poor thing, what grueling work) and I head to northeast Pennsylvania to drop off Chubby dog at my Mom’s house, then continue on to a small cabin in the woods.

“Writers have long known that the most reliable cure [for writer’s block] is to get away from regular life and in a different and undemanding environment, simply allow the words to come. They can be awful. They will be awful. But out of awful comes literature — or, in my case, self-help books that, if I do my job right, read as well as literature.” – Victoria Moran

You see, for months I’ve been talking about secluding myself in a cabin so I can get away from obligations (and, um, the internet) and just write. I got the kick-in-the-butt I needed after reading this blog series from Victoria Moran about going on her own writing retreat to work on a new book proposal. Maybe it’s the romance of the idea, or that I know I tend to get distracted at home, but I’ve found a perfect little cabin just for me and whatever woodland creatures I meet and befriend.

It’s on a lake. It has a fireplace. And electricity to keep the computer charged. Beyond that, I’m just taking some reference books, good campfire food, and my coffee pot. Maybe some rations for vegan s’mores.

As you can see, this is a popular idea.

writingcabin

I’m turning 30 at the end of the month, and that milestone birthday is deserving of it’s own reflection. I don’t have a lot of the things our culture has determined you are “supposed to” have to mark adulthood: marriage, “normal job”, home ownership, a child. Though, I’ve learned so much about myself and if I want, or will ever want, those things. What does it mean when society places so much value and credible experience on things that may not be a part of someone’s life? What do I want my life to look like?

What do you want your life to look like? Have you ever thought about it? Really?

I hadn’t. A few years ago I was in my therapist’s office and he said, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and it was like a boulder was thrown at my head as I realized I actually hadn’t thought about it before. At that time, in the middle of deep depression, living day-to-day was enough. I’d wake up every morning with paralyzing anxiety because I didn’t know how to fill the hours of the day, painfully aware that I didn’t have a sense of purpose, and desperately wanting to find one.

Snoozing dogs = four-legged mental therapy.

Snoozing dogs = four-legged mental therapy.

The novel idea that in five years time I could potentially have any life/lifestyle I’d want (theoretically, within the realm of reality and not “Become Queen of the Jungle”, or invent the new Facebook) was impossible to wrap my head around. It may have sounded simple, but in that hour I found I’d be very content and truly happy if my life involved: an inspiring apartment, a loving relationship based on honesty and respect in which we maintained separate identities while supporting each other’s dreams, a small circle of friends you call when your world falls apart/when your world explodes with joy, a dog (absolutely), to do work that leaves the world better than I found it and goes beyond “me”, and… to write.

So.

Off I go to get out of my head… or perhaps, into my head. I’ve always thought it easier to figure things out with a blanket across my shoulders and a campfire flickering through the trees.

xo Jaime K

living forest

living forest

13 thoughts on “SEPTEMBER SOMETHINGS: The Start of Autumn, Bethlehem Vegfest, and a Writing Retreat

  1. I’m really really happy to see a post from you! So many good things. It’s awesome to have been reading your blog for the last couple of years and see how far you have come! Good luck at the Emmy’s, ah so exciting!

  2. Beautifully written! Your honesty in combination with your ability to navigate this life with clarity and ease is truly inspirational! -Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi!

    I have recently stumbled on your blog and find it very comforting that someone is going through things (or was) similar to myself. I am 26 years old and after thinking I wanted something for my entire life (career-wise, personal goals-wise), working hard, and then suddenly finding myself no longer working on those things (grad school drop out, jobless, hate where I live, lonely..) I feel so much panic to get it together. I don’t know how to find a new direction or path though. What resources (books, tapes, or otherwise) did you find the most helpful in “becoming the new you”? Secondly, you say you do not have a “normal job” and while I gather that from this blog, what exactly do you do in order to survive financially (if you don’t mind me asking)? Traditional 9-5 work depresses the hell out of me, but I am looking into it anyway just to scrape by until I do find out what my passions are and how to make enough to survive off of them.

    Anyway, sorry this is long, I just thought I would reach out to you. You are an inspiring individual. Thank you for what you post.

    Kasey Corey

    • Kasey, thank you for sharing your story. People change and you should not feel any sadness or shame in recognizing that you want a different path than the one you started on (even though it can feel like a “loss”, but not all losses are bad). I have a massive list of blogs/websites/podcasts/books that helped to see things a little more clearly, and I’d be happy to share them with you! (I’m running out the door and don’t have time to list them all now, but for starters: “Things Fall Apart” by buddhist monk Pema Chodron helped so very much, I can’t say enough about it; and “Vegetarian Food for Thought” podcast brought veganism to the forefront of my life and helped take me out of my own head and remember the good we can do in the world). Also, read anything by Victoria Moran. I will have to write more later, for sure.

      I do a whole bunch of things for money: the tv show, blog advertising or trades (saving me money on goods and services), freelance writing, creating web videos for businesses, sometimes neat things like teaching at Main Street Vegan Academy and occasionally public speaking/cooking demos, personal chef services/cooking for people, and I can work with clients as a vegan lifestyle coach. It’s a big ol’ mishmash of things, and some months are better than others financially. I am lucky to live with my partner Ryan and we share expenses, and I know there is some privilege to that and being on your own is trickier.

      So much of the time we have to work for free to gain experience and exposure before we can start to get paid for the things we love. Even then, we may have weird relationships around money. (oooh, check out the book “Money: A love Story” by Kate Northrup, JUST released and fabulous). Sometimes we trade luxury vacations and lots of new shoes for a life that is more “simple”, perhaps, but quite complete. When it comes down to it, most of us don’t NEED to make a whole lot to have a happy life (though it’s cool if someone wants to make a lot, and we should all let go of the notion that people with a lot of money are somehow “bad” or “greedy”).

      I’d be more than happy to talk to you at length about any of this, feel free to send an email sometime.🙂 For the record, I think the whole lot of us are still trying to figure it all out, all the time. Best of luck. xoxo

      • Wow. Thank you so much for your response. It’s so compassionate and making me teary eyed! I will definitely check out the books you mentioned. Thank you.

  4. I wish you a very inspiring time at your writers retread! Sounds so great and scary at the same time🙂 I’m the same in having not “achieved the things society wants us to” at a certain age. Turning 31 this December I have no kids, am not married, haven’t bought a house. But I have travelled a lot and want still want to see more of the world and I feel like thats ok. The 5-year question is not my favorite one because things are hard to plan…life can get in the way😉 Can’t wait to read about your plans for the next few years (if you wanna share them) and good luck at the Emmy’s!

    • Sonja, it is TOTALLY okay! More than okay. You’ve had some awesome experiences, no more or less valid than someone else’s, it’s just weird that the expectation is that marriage/kids/house are in the cards for everyone (or by a certain time), and thats the REAL flaw. Thank you for sharing your story🙂

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