travel notes

Archive for the ‘Traditions’ Category

Cutting Off and Growing Up; A Local Salon

In Austin, Faith, Fashion, Moving, Traditions on September 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Dear Luscious Locks belonging to the likes of Kourtney Kardashion, oh how I love thee.

But I am a short-hair gal. And that’s just the way it is.

I’ve tried long tresses and below-the-shoulder glory, but I look better and like myself best in short and chic. After accepting this self-fact comes peace. Followed quickly by an onset of panic.

I have only ONE head of hairs and x amount of dollars, leaving no room for tomfoolery on my noggin. Thus, finding a new hairdresser poses one of the more traumatic scenarios of moving thus far.

A good hair-dresser is as essential to the female as finding a trusted OBGYN; it’s right up there with the need for a best friend, romance, a favorite Saturday brunch spot, and those jeans that make you feel sexy no matter what.

A good haircut can make you feel beautiful and more mature; an image that reflects how you feel on the inside can serve as a catalyst for living as the woman you want to be on the outside.


It can make you feel 12 years old again; there you are in a psychedelic t-shirt having awkward encounters with members of the opposite sex.

I’ve had several salon recommendations from women in the area, but due to uncertainty coupled with procrastination, I put off making an appointment until the split-ends were practically yelling at me for care and attention.

I will not tell you where I went or who cut my hair (Austin is too small of a town and word gets around!). But I will tell you, it was not what I wanted. The cut felt too thin around my face, the layers didn’t fall how I pictured them, and altogether, I felt just mediocre, instead of vogue-worthy fabulous.  I missed my hairdresser back home. I missed the salon, the repoire, and knowing I would come out looking the way I felt inside.

I have an idea of where I’m “headed” for my next “do.” But in the meantime, here is what I learned:

  1. Letting a stranger take scissors to my head, no matter how highly recommended, is scary.
  2. Letting go and cutting off hair is an incredible exercise in letting go of control in other aspects of life.
  3. Rituals, like a new haircut, symbolize more than just a new look. It’s a mile-marker. A stopping point. Like hair, I am constantly growing.
  4.  Relationships and history are built and earned over time. There are no shortcuts.
  5. Trimming is required for growth.

I look forward to the day when my hairdresser knows my sister’s names and where I go to church.

But right now, I rejoice in my current season of life. Sure, things feel a bit sparse. I’m still looking for the right barstools for the kitchen, and artwork for my apartment walls. It’s like looking out over a vineyard after it’s been pruned. It feels fragile and un-sturdy. But underneath the surface, invisible to the eye, growth is happening. Roots are burgeoning. What an incredible opportunity to spread my arms to the world, and say

“What next?”


“With what colors shall I paint?”


“Who shall I meet today?”

Grow. Let go. Cut. Grow some more.

And know what? My hair-cut is pretty darn sassy. Yes, yet it is.







Comfort food: Chick-Fil-A

In Austin, Food, Moving, Texas, Traditions, Visiting Austin on July 7, 2011 at 2:20 am

When I came down with a cold in Washington state, friends brought me chicken noodle soup.

When I came down with what I thought was the flu here in Austin, Texas, a friend I met at Austin Stone brought me chicken, too. Chick-Fil-A.

Now I do not usually eat fast food. By usually I mean never. But I eat Chick-Fil-A. Yes. Yes I do. It is real  chicken and the sauce is so good you just have to say mmmmm and smack your lips together.

In addition, the company is incredibly cool. The founder felt convicted in having a Sabbath (a day of rest and worship) to be with his family and honor God, he forfeited the profits and made a statement by closing shop on Sundays. His collegeus in the food industry told him he was crazy. But Chick-Fil-A continues to be closed on Sunday, and it continues to be profitable enough throughout the week and on Saturday, to make the issue irrelevant.

So if you’re like me and don’t usually indulge in drive-through grease-on-a-bun, you should make an exception and go to Chick-Fil-A.

You can eat it with a clean conscience, happy tummy, and reflect on where you need to make a statement, because you know in your gut it’s what you need to do.

I believe more and more that we reap what we sow. I wonder what good profits will come back to you?

Side note: turns out I didn’t have the flu. I had allergies! Apparently Austin is one of the worst cities for it. So if you’re planning a visit or a move, make sure you pick up some claritin. It will change your life, promise. 

Weekend adventuring

In Austin, downtown, Faith, Food, Music, Outdoors, Texas, Town Lake, Traditions, Travel, Venues on June 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Looking to spend a weekend away in Austin, or just get out and explore the city? Hopefully my weekend highlights will help you plan your next adventure.

Friday evening: 

Get your groove on at a live show by The Matchmaker Band: a mo-town cover band, funky, great for dancing! 

Saturday morning: 

Stroll the Farmer’s Market on 5th and Guadalupe (9 am – 1 pm).  I bought an odd-shaped heirloom tomato, and drank a mango hibiscus iced tea. I sampled locally made Kombucha Ginger drink – I love love love Kombucha! – and this small batch was just as good as any of the bigger companies I’ve tasted. Also nibbled on yummy goat cheese from Swede Farm Artisanal Goat Dairy. 

Visit some of the downtown shops such as Finch (appropriately featured on Apartment Therapy’s blog).

 Saturday afternoon: 

Stroll around Town Lake

Grab a bite at Whole Foods Market 


Saturday evening: 

See a movie at The Alamo Draft House– one of the coolest things in Austin. You order drink and food by candlelight, and enjoy a scrumptious meal while watching a movie. This is a must-do!

Sunday morning: 

Visit Austin Stone Community Church

 Have brunch at Halcyon on 4th and Lavaca St.  A hip little spot for coffee by day or wine by night. I recommend the spinach, egg, and mushroom crepe – delicious and light! And one of the better cups of coffee I’ve had in a while.

Sunday afternoon: 

Breathe, smile, be thankful 

My parent’s kitchen table; my longest blog post yet

In Faith, Food, Spokane, Traditions, WA on December 26, 2010 at 2:17 am

As is always the case on Christmas Day, I find myself taking time out to reflect on life…

After a chaotic, crisis morning at my parents house, I come back from a run in the snow just as they are leaving for a party at a friends’ house. I enter the house – peace on earth! – there is no shouting or screaming or put downs or crying or outbursts of frustration. I let out a loud and joyful “Hall-le-lujah!”

For some, to be alone on Christmas would be sad and lonely. For me, it is the best gift I received all day. The day turns from surviving, to really, really good.

I pull the turkey out of the oven, the aroma of rosemary and sage tantalizing my nostrils, I slice large, moist breast with whole wheat stuffing, carrots, and celery, I sauté a large plate of veggies (Brussels sprouts, onion, green beans – yum!), little piles of smoked gouda and cheddar cheeses, roasted red pepper crackers, and a salad of mixed greens with balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top.

“Carol of the bells” plays, I pour myself a glass of my merlot, a Christmas gift from one of our clients, entitled “Inspiration” and begin to unpack some of the thoughts coming.

Since God separated the light from dark, making hours belonging to the day, hours belonging to the night, and moon, stars and sun to mark the seasons, man has been charting out his days accordingly. I’m thankful to the Romans for inventing the calendar; I am obsessed with my large desk-size black and white 2010 day planner and picking out my new calendar for the new year is by far one of my favorite activities and no light matter. In general, I think seasons and traditions by which to mark our days is one of the best gifts of being alive.

I know that we ought to live each day of the year in light of the knowledge that God became flesh and dwelt among us. But I love that there is an allocated season during each year when we emphasize this truth emphatically; we let our lives be altered and illuminated by this significant event.

We light our homes, our trees, our hearts just as God lit the world 2,000 years ago with his very presence. He traded in his celestial dwelling for the colloquial. We, in turn, get to trade in our dusty abodes for the divine. Quite the trade off.

What does it mean that the Holy God came and lived among us? Tonight, I reflect on the power of the spoken word. By his word, light was created. Imagine: his word was powerful enough to make lightning flash across the expanse of the universe. By his word, the changing of tide and seasons exist. By his word, he dwelt among us. It was, in truth, the Word, that came and lived and breathed.

What Word do you need to speak today?

I speak the Truth of who I am: I am beloved, beautiful, and abundant.


He is breathing life into me,

He is my very breath.

I speak financial stability for 2011. I speak career success. Not that I expect the perfect job, perfect co-workers, or perfect anything. I expect to be the absolute best that Leah Danielle Robin can be. I expect to show up, to be a light, to care deeply about people, to apply myself and create work, good work, to the best of my ability.

I celebrate this season with joy and laughter.

What words do you need to speak today?

I speak success. I speak wild dreams.

Being cooped up at my parents’ house, I want to scram in frustration. They are trapped inside small thinking. Their thoughts are occupied with their next meal, their childhood pasts, their immediate feelings.

Being the CEO of a company, or anything beyond blue-collar, are not thoughts that occupy their minds. They don’t understand my frustration with current circumstances nor ambition for the future.

A little beat starts playing in my head: push the envelope.  Push the envelope. How far can I go?

This is the girl who was not allowed to listen to anything by Christian music growing up. I’ve discovered pop culture on my own, as an adult. Technology was looked down upon (stereos were of the devil), an interference to simple living. I am still playing “catch up.”

Ambition for the New Year:

–          Become more technically savvy

–          Continue to develop my job in social media; make myself indispensible; become an expert in my field; be ready for the next wave!

I look at myself – going to a four year liberal arts college, getting a full-time job in my field, and dreaming of starting my own company and non-profits, and making a dramatic impact on hundreds of lives – yes, I have SO FAR TO GO! But the fact that I am dreaming like this is a testament to the fact that I am already on my way.


God is breathing life into me,

God is my very breath.

Peace on earth; joy to the world.

If you managed to make it to the end of this, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Buckingham Palace; My Kitchen

In Global events, London, Traditions, Trends on November 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Can a girl be traditional AND trendy?

What does cooking my first Thanksgiving Turkey and Prince William’s fiancé Kate Middleton have in common? Both aid my quest to honor the past while blazing my own trail.

The task at hand: buy, baste, and bake a turkey for the Youth for Christ Wednesday night dinner. The complication: grocery stores only have frozen birds in stock, giving me less than 48 hours to complete the process.

This morning I eye my enormous 16 lb. buzzard. A little thrill runs through me. I’m remembering my mom, aunts, and grandma in the kitchen cooking yummy Thanksgiving dishes for our large family. I’m conjuring up images of women on the trail out west plucking feathers and tying feet with twine. Feeling very much connected to the past, I dig my hands inside the bird and pull out the gizzards. Just the word “gizzard” makes me feel tough and gritty. A true American woman.

I chop carrots, celery, and a yellow sweet onion for the stuffing. I use classic seasonings: rosemary, sage, and thyme. Herbs of Provence – just a dash.

Happily, the bird is in the oven with ample time to spare. I whittle away the afternoon indulging my romantic fancy watching Prince William and now fiancé Kate Middleton interviews. Thank you, Huffington Post.

I’m admiring Princess Di’s blue ring against the elegant blue dress when the interviewer throws a hot question into the mix – to paraphrase:

“Princess Di was an iconic figure…are you worried about measuring up?”

My ears perk up. I’m absolutely delighted with Prince William’s response:

“Obviously my mother was a fantastic woman. But it’s about creating your own destiny. Kate is going to do a great job of that.”

I so often feel like Kate: wearing someone else’s ring, blue from a woe-begone era. Wanting to honor those gone before me, yet wanting very much for my future to be different.

I am, admittedly, a self-made woman. Not always by choice, but by necessity. Independent and autonomous; I have put deliberate, conscious thought into the type of life I want to lead, the kind of person I want to be, the sort of traditions I want to form. And like Kate, I feel as though the world is watching.

The timer alerts me to baste the turkey, interrupting my reflection on tradition. An enticing aroma fills the kitchen. I squeeze the drippings from the bottom of the pan over the breast of the bird.

Returning to my reverie…these are the trends I commit to…these are my traditions:

Noticing the small details of life: enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning like a sacred ritual.

Not settling for a mediocre marriage: having a life of tremendous love and passion until I’m old and bent and gray.

Generous stewardship: cultivating financial literacy, having an abundance to provide for myself, my family, and having an overflow to give away!

Mental health: seeing the world with optimism, and fighting to stay intellectually strong.

My family tree may be dotted with poverty and pessimism, but my branch is a healthy offshoot, grafted to traditions of love, laughter, and life! No poverty of spirit here!

That evening, slicing and serving my big, moist, wonderful turkey, with juicy pieces inevitably making it to my mouth before onto the plate, I decide then and there that this is a tradition I will always keep. This, and wearing vintage jewelry.

What traditions will you keep?

What trends will you begin?