It’s been over two months since I sent you a newsletter, and I haven’t posted words or photos on the blog since the end of July. I’m still writing, but my recent writing hasn't been for public consumption.
Instead, I’ve been writing in my notebooks. Writing in my journal has been relaxing and rewarding. Also, my private writing sessions helped me realize that I’ve lost my desire to blog, and that I need a season of quiet and rest.
In Maybe the Secret to Writing is Not Writing author Kate Angus said:
“…maintenance and care are necessary—without rest we cannot regenerate. These days I’ve come to believe that it’s natural for many of us to go through periods when we put words to the page and times when we can’t. These aren’t separate, distinct states; rather than agonizing over ‘writer’s block,’ maybe we can accept that we aren’t blocked at all, and that resting might just be part of our process.”
As I read Angus’ essay, I nodded along in agreement. I've been blogging for 15 years, and it’s time for me to hit the pause button. I need a break from constantly publishing to the Internet. Instead, I want to rest and gather new ideas (with the hope of writing a new book).
Don't worry, this isn't a goodbye letter. I still enjoy writing this newsletter, and plan on popping into your inbox once or twice a month.
With that, here are a few more updates:
The Portugal Diaries
In September, I spent two weeks in Portugal with my friend Shanna. Honestly, if Shanna hadn’t moved to Portugal, I probably wouldn’t have visited the country because Portugal wasn’t on my travel radar.
Shanna graciously hosted me, which made the trip even better. I got to spend quality time with my friend and was immersed in a Portuguese neighborhood. It gave me a true sense of what it would feel like to live in Portugal. If you're visiting a new city or country, home stays are the way to go.
And speaking of Shanna, here’s how she described our trip in a recent Instagram post:
casa da cerca. vegan pastel de nata. coffee (all the coffee). setúbal. train rides. ferry rides. bus rides. the metro. gulbenkian gardens. petisco da lata. lisbon. the view from the top of el corte inglés. organi chiado. veg-e-tal. belém. comoba. principe real garden. cacilhas. cabane. all the gelado. almada velha. doors & windows. naps. more coffee. killer neighborhood cats.
we may take crappy selfies, but we sure do slow travel just right! thank you, friend, i love you and look forward to our next visit!
I agree! We definitely do slow travel well.
On my trip, I filled up a small travel journal with notes, insights, and what inspired me about the trip. Here's a brief list from my notebook:
1. The coffee; especially espresso with chocolate notes. The average cost of an espresso was less than 1 Euro.
2. Shanna introduced me to excellent vegan restaurants in Lisbon, Almada, and Setúbal. Here's a list of my favorites restaurants and cafes:
Petisco da Lata
The Green Affair
Pastelaria Batalha (This is where you'll find delicious vegan pastel de nata. The locals say they taste like the real thing!!!)
I was surprised by the inexpensive cost of food at the grocery store and at restaurants. We ate out daily and cooked at home. During the trip, I spent less than €400 on food.
3. The public transportation system in the Lisbon area is incredible and inexpensive. On a typical day, I'd ride the metro and ferry. We also took the train and bus occasionally and I spent less than €40 on transit. Also, the transportation system was on TIME and CLEAN. It left me wondering why we can’t do something similar in the U.S.
4. My friend in San Francisco hosted me before I left for Portugal. She gave me a wonderful tour of her neighborhood, Japantown, parks, and more. I also got to take her out for a late birthday dinner! It was a special weekend, and she was incredibly generous to let me stay in her home. My friend is going to visit me in Chico soon, and I'm looking forward to paying back that generosity.
I’ll save the rest of my travel insights for another letter.
A few folks asked how much my trip to Portugal cost. I spent roughly $1,700. For those budget geeks out there, here's a breakdown of what I spent on the trip and a few notes. Scroll down if you're not interested in my budget or logistics.
+ Flight: $543.38 (this was for a round-trip ticket. I used airline miles to reduce the cost).
+ Amtrak: $64 (I flew out of San Francisco, so I had to take the train and bus to get from Chico to the city, and back home).
+ Hyatt: $225 (On my return flight, I stayed in Emeryville, CA at the Hyatt so that I could catch an early train home. After 24 hours of travel, I was utterly exhausted).
+ Taxi: $72 (from the San Francisco airport to the Hyatt).
+ The rest of my money was spent on food in Portugal & in San Francisco, public transportation, dollar to Euro conversion fees, postcards, a few journals, and a souvenir. I purchased a set of MUJI pajamas!
With that, the trip was amazing, thought provoking, and I’m HAPPY to be HOME. I missed The Husband and my sweet cat Christie.
And speaking of Christie, I have sad news to share. Her health continues to decline. Last week, Christie had another seizure and a bad reaction to new medication. We took her to our veterinarian for an exam, blood work, and a urinalysis.
Unfortunately, Christie lost a quarter of a pound, which is a lot of weight for a very tiny cat. The tests also confirmed that her chronic kidney disease is progressing. I don’t know how long my sweet girl will be around, so I’m savoring all of her snuggles, purrs, and tiny meows.
We’re fortunate because we have an amazing veterinarian—along with vet technicians—who guided us through Elaina’s final months, and they are doing the same with Christie. Everyone at the office has been incredibly helpful and kind.
Please know, that we're doing everything we can to keep Christie comfortable and happy.
This summer, I spent a lot of time reading books. Here's a list of my favorite reads:
+ In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World by Dr. Lauren E. Oakes
+ 10% Happier by Dan Harris
+ Normal People by Sally Rooney
+ The Tattooist of Auschwutz by Heather Morris
+ If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura
Happy reading friends!