Life Update: Lucky Ones

Anniversary Photo by Carrie Ann Photography

Although I’m hesitant to say it, I think our streak of bad luck ended with the arrival of autumn. As the leaves really started to turn, everything began to improve. You’ll probably think I’ve spent too much time in hippie dippy Portland when I tell you that I think it must have something to do with the moon and the seasons and some nastiness with the tilt of the earth, but I do. So while I’m always happy for fall’s arrival, this year it was especially welcome.

Life Update: Autumnal Bliss | Frock FilesLife Update: Autumnal Bliss | Frock Files

A couple of weeks ago, James and I went up to our very favorite place in Vermont–a trip I look forward to all year long. While we have the option of going to the falconry school or driving a Range Rover up the mountain, we opt instead to swim the length of the indoor pool, drink wine by the fire pit, play Scrabble in the library, begin our Christmas shopping, and have dinners in the downstairs pub. They are the most glorious three days of the year. I always wish we could stay for longer.

While we were there we had the chance to meet up with our friend Carrie Bombria, who also happens to have been our elopement photographer. As part of her wedding/elopement packages, Carrie offers a free anniversary photo session for life! The photos Carrie took this year were my favorite photos of us, ever. Aside from the fact that she’s an amazing photographer, I think we look natural in these photos because we’re so comfortable around her–we were also extra comfy because we shot the whole thing in our pajamas. As I mentioned on Instagram, I respect James’ wishes not to show up on the blog or social media, so these photos are a rare appearance.

Anniversary Photo by Carrie Ann Photography

More good news: two days ago, my father-in-law went home after a successful three weeks of rehab. He’s doing so incredibly well that no one can really believe it. To put it in perspective, most people a third of his age take between six months and two years (or longer) to get to the point he’s at now, two-and-a-half months in. His speech is almost normal, he makes jokes, and he remembers almost everything–past and present. He’s already making plans to be back in his garden next summer.

I’m now busy pretending that the leaves will be this bright and beautiful forever! Although despite my state of denial, I’m thinking ahead–to two trips and the holidays. There’s so much to be thankful for, especially this year. And among those blessings, there’s you. Thanks for sticking around.

J xoxo

Photographs of us by the talented Carrie Ann Bombria of Carrie Ann Photography in Vermont!

Blog Hop: Behind the Scenes at Frock Files

If you follow a lot of lifestyle blogs, you’ve probably seen this blog hop making its rounds–and today it’s my turn! My friend Tan of Squirrelly Minds tagged me last week to answer these four questions about the writing I do here.

Tan and I met at Alt Summit in 2013 and we hit it off right away. In fact, despite living across the country from one another we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate on a few projects and we even had a long distance blogger date! Thanks, Tan, for always being such a genuine and gracious friend.

Let’s get this blog hop on the road:

Frock Files | Blog Hop: Behind the Scenes of Frock Files

Why do you write?

I find writing to be the way that I communicate best. In conversation, things are moving so quickly that I often walk away thinking about how I didn’t express myself the way that I meant to. With writing, there’s time be more thoughtful about your words.

On top of that, I’ve always been a writer. Until graduate school, I think I had everyone convinced (myself included) that I’d be a novelist. When I was sixteen, I won the Maxine Hong Kingston Award for Young Writers and it seemed obvious that I would continue along that path. But as I got older, I found that I loved combining visual elements with writing. I’m so grateful to have found blogging because it’s given me a place for both of these interests.

Frock Files | Blog Hop: Behind the Scenes of Frock Files

What are you working on?

Blog-wise, I’m working on a big, big, big project with my friend Melissa of Lulu the Baker. We can’t reveal any details just yet, but suffice it to say that it will be something that is infused with the things we love most: genuine friendships, beautiful details, and blogging.

How does your blog differ from other blogs in the genre?

Put plainly, my blog is the online version of me. In the early days, I tried to keep things very light and focused, but it just didn’t feel honest. Since meeting more and more fabulous people in the blogging community, I’ve begun writing in a way that makes it feel like I’m talking to those friends.

Frock Files | Blog Hop: Behind the Scenes of Frock Files

What is your writing process?

Generally an idea is brewing in my mind for several days before I finally sit down to write. Like most writers, I do every possible thing before actually writing–clean my house, do the laundry, walk the dog, schedule appointments, watch a movie. Then, when I finally sit down to write, it just happens. I think the zone I get into must cause me to emanate some kind of zen waves because Kona always falls asleep.

There’s a peek behind my process! What’s yours?

Next week, Heather of The Caterpillar Years will be taking over the blog hop. Heather and I are real life friends, and we’re going to be debuting a collaboration next month! Until then, do visit her beautiful blog, which is full of wonderful parenting advice–and of pictures of her little girls, who are two of my favorite kids ever.

Life Update: Back and Forth

Frock Files | Life Update: Back and Forth

As you may have noticed, I took a little unexpected hiatus last week. Since school started and we’re still dealing with health issues in this family, I got a little overwhelmed and I needed to take a break. Thank you for understanding!

For the first time in six years, I’ve had back-to-school excitement, as the students came back to the university. The energy on the campus completely changes when they’re there. And while, yes, I do deal with a lot of eye roll worthy tweets about parking and cafeteria food, I also have the good fortune of being the first in line to see how excited everyone is to be back. It’s one of the best parts about my job.

And while it would be lovely for everything to continue chugging along with forward momentum, life doesn’t always work out that way. My father-in-law has now been in and out of rehab three times within a week, largely because of lack of decent care at the rehab facility we were using. On Saturday afternoon, we were all breathing a sigh of relief as he was settling back into his room in New Hampshire–at midnight, he was being taken by ambulance to the hospital again. My poor mother-in-law is the most exhausted of all, and tough as she is, even she is becoming wary.

But it is the loveliest time of year to live in New England. Every time I go outside, I get a little reminder to be in this moment because autumn is my favorite and it will go as quickly as it’s come. This past weekend, with its 50-degree mornings, I filled my drawers with sweaters again, pulled out my boots, and even bought a scarf. James and I got to have one dinner together–at a restaurant! outside!–with the knowledge that we have just a few weeks left for al fresco dining. It’s only a matter of time before I give into the giant pumpkins at the farm stand down the road!

So whatever you’re doing, whether you’re having a lovely time or a difficult one, I hope you’ll have a moment to stop and enjoy being alive this week. Treat yourself to a hot apple cider. Sit down and read a book. Laugh with all the air in your belly. There’s time.

Love, Joy

Celebrating September!

Life Update: Celebrating September! | Frock Files

Oh, heavens, we couldn’t be happier that it’s September. As you already know, August was a rough month, and while we still aren’t out of the woods, September is already bringing us hope.

We still aren’t sure if the thing that kicked my butt last month was actually Lyme (I had one positive and one negative result from my duo of Western Ink Blot tests), I’m feeling a lot better on the Doxycycline. Last week, I went to my first BUTI class in a month. It was difficult and I was sore for two days afterward, but I’m thrilled to be back at it.

My father-in-law is still in the hospital, with the kind of diagnosis that doesn’t bring any kind of resolution. He’s suffering from a rare brain virus that has made him virtually unrecognizable from the man he was in July. But he’s a fighter–he battled a bout of aspiration pneumonia and these days he’s staying awake a lot more often. But it’s a long, uncertain road ahead.

Throughout the trials of the last month, we’ve done our very best to learn the lessons we’re meant to learn. I’ve thought a lot about what the Dalai Lama has to say about acceptance of suffering–in not asking “Why us?” but instead understanding that suffering is a part of the human condition, and that we need to see it as a natural part of human life.

We miss our old lives. I miss James, who is either at work, or at the hospital, or driving his family members somewhere, but rarely home. But my respect and love for him is only growing deeper, and as we lean on each other more, as we need each other to keep going, we’ve become closer. It’s in these hard times that you truly become a family. And if that’s not a silver lining, I don’t know what is.

P.S. Thank you again for all the encouraging emails, text messages, letters, and gifts over the last month. We’re so lucky to have such amazing friends, all around the world.

Life Update: Better and Better!

Back when I lived in Portland, one of my favorite kids used to say that she was getting “biy-tter and biy-tter” (better and better), and that’s what echoes in my mind each day! The Doxycycline used to treat Lyme knocked me out for a few days, and while I’m not back to normal yet, I’m definitely functional.

Better and Better | Frock Files

For privacy reasons, I won’t divulge too much about what’s going on with my father-in-law. That said, it turns out that we’ve been right about one thing all along–he’s truly one in a million. In fact, that’s the likelihood of getting the virus that he’s been diagnosed with. We’re so lucky to live in Massachusetts with such world class facilities and doctors. It’s a long road ahead for him, but he’s a fighter.

What got me through last week–which involved many days in the hospital, lots of time in bed, and even a car accident–was filling up on beauty. I finished The Opposite of Loneliness, listened to a lot of music, and caught up on my favorite blogs. I missed my dance classes but I got to watch this absolutely gorgeous number, which made my heart swell the way dance always does. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I thought you might like it too.

Thank you, as always, for your kind thoughts and friendship.

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