One of the very first things that Zach and I did when we moved to Crown Heights was invest in a membership to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’d never visited the gardens before moving to this side of Prospect Park, nor did I ever consider myself the kind of person who would wander aimlessly under the canopy of trees. Boy, was I wrong.

Every year now, I can hardly contain myself as I wait for the glorious display of cherry blossoms. This year, I started checking the CherryWatch page in mid-March, hoping for signs of an early bloom. Finally, five weeks later, the cherries are starting to pop. As long as we don’t get much stormy weather or wind this week, I predict that next weekend’s celebration is going to be a doozy. In a really good way. Of course I’m going to be out of town. Figures.

cherry blossoms foreverweeping cherries

ANYWAY. Over the last couple of years after many meandering walks through the garden, I’ve thought a lot about the concept of Hanami. Initially, I always thought of hanami in a very literal sense: stop everything, get thee to the garden, see the flowers, and take photos to try and capture a piece of the magical cherry blossoms.

In the last couple of years though, it has evolved moreso into a rite of passage for spring. It’s almost become an emotional spring cleaning for me, because it seems to satisfy my need to cross a bunch of stuff off my checklist. The cherry blossoms give me my annual assignment:

– Get out of the house!
– Get your act together for the year’s gardening plans!
– Go see your friends and family. Don’t be a recluse!
– Be active! Ride your bike! Get to the gym! Get moving!
– COME SEE US AT THE GARDEN!

The cherry blossoms are very practical blossoms. It’s hard to argue with their logic.

promise of spring

So this weekend, I did as I was told and tore the house apart for a round of spring cleaning. I also managed to do a lot of yoga, purged a boatload of paperwork, and got to see the cherry blossoms through the eyes of my five-month old baby cousin, Olivia. The gardening plans are starting to form slowly but surely and I’m confident they’ll come together. (I want to try my hand at roses. Thanks a lot, Marie.)

I don’t know that I owe all of the productivity to Hanami, or to the cherry blossoms, or even to our upcoming vacation this week. But I do think that that it’s a concept I should try and embrace more in my life. The practice of simple appreciation, of gratitude for the beauty which surrounds, of slowing down and being more present — these are all things which really require practice.

And I need lots of practice.

Untitledshinto spring
heavenly

That Moment

April 11th, 2013 | Posted by Jill in slow down - (1 Comments)

that moment

Sometimes you turn a corner and there she is: the whole city laid out before you, bathed in golden light.

And your heart swells.

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to escape the soul-crushing spring snow in NYC for a trip down south to New Orleans. I hadn’t been to the Crescent City before, and I had very few expectations going into the week. The reason for my visit was the annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week conference, where I was to speak at a session and hold office hours for aspiring entrepreneurs and MBA students that need technology help.

The whole week was a huge inspiration and I met lots of very interesting people chock full of passion and big ideas. New Orleans really rolled out the red carpet for those of us in town volunteering — my expectations were blown away. The people were so friendly and warm and wonderful. The city itself is gorgeous and unique and so different from anywhere else I’ve been in the US. And the food. Oh, the food. Holy cow. Let’s just say that the trip has made me recommit myself to a very regular gym schedule. I want all of the beignets, forever and ever. (Why doesn’t this exist in New York? Someone needs to get on that.)

This past week I was finally able to get all my film developed and I’m pretty excited to share. While my edits are underway, I thought I’d share some Instagrams. I can’t wait to return again next year!

Commander's PalaceBeignets and Chicory Coffee
Lafayette Square
Jackson SquareLafayette Square - Wednesdays in the Park
Jackson Square
The French QuarterTchoupitoulas
The French Market
Whitney BankGallier Hall
Cafe Du Monde

I am so ready for spring. My flower bulbs are already starting to appear and holy cow, daylight savings is this weekend. I know we’re still in for some cold weather, but I’ve been trying to slip into a spring mindset these days. Growth, spring cleaning, lots more sun — BRING IT ON.

I thought I’d share some colorful photos which have been helping brighten my mood tonight. You guys — Brooklyn is the best. These photos are proof.

“Dance Partners,” by Reuben Radding:
dance partners

Untitled by David Pexton:
Untitled

“No Logo,” by Chris Farling:
no logo

“Classic Gowanus,” by Peter Kruger:
classic gowanus

“Blessed,” by Joel Zimmer:
1576 Blessed

“Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn,” by Genial23:
Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, 2007

“Rollers,” by St├ęphane Missier:
Rollers

“Come around and open my gold eyes,” by Jonathan Percy:
Come around and open my gold eyes