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When I was little, I used to like New Year's Eve. My dad was a musician and usually worked that night, and my mom would go to wherever he was playing. We three girls would spend the night at our grandma and grandpa's, and that was my happy place: The house was overly warm and almost new. Everything was tidy and beige. In the spare bedroom where we slept, the bed was dressed in heavy cotton sheets and thick wool blankets. There was wall-to-wall carpet, and we would become wild on the floor in a way we never did at home on our hardwoods; we did headstands and somersaults and backbends and walkovers and my grandma would just have a fit. I don't know if she was more worried that we would hurt ourselves or that our underpants were showing. We were so oblivious to either concern. Our grandparents were very old, the oldest people we knew. We were their only grandchildren. I remember one time in seventh or eighth grade, when it was the height of fashion in my crowd to wear rolled-up men's boxer shorts to volleyball practice, I raided my grandpa's dresser and came out into the living room wearing a pair of his. I asked him if I could have them. My grandpa spoke perfect English with a heavy Italian accent, but in that moment he was sure he did not understand my question. Confusion ensued. You want to wear my underpants, to school? Me, French-braided, smiling: Yes! To school? Um, Yes!?!? Could he not see how cool these were? My father gave me $10 and told me to go to Marshalls.

At my grandparents' we would lay on the floor in front of the television and watch all the New Year's Eve shows, and at midnight we would muster a sort of imitated enthusiasm, not old enough yet to truly understand what a miracle another year really is. At bedtime, my grandma would walk around the house, turning everything off. She finally would pull the chains on her cuckoo clock, lifting the heavy pine-cone weights, and then stop the pendulum so the clock would not cuckoo through the night; she'd set the hands for seven so that the next morning it was always ready to start again with just a push. It was so quiet at my grandma's house at night. Our parents were night owls; almost never did I go to bed in a quiet house at home. But at my grandma's you could hear every possible noise: the bed creaking when you moved. The heat turning on and off. The freight train approaching and then going past. Every little house-click and house-thump. Almost twenty years ago I had a panic attack on an airplane in mid-air. Tears streamed down my face. I closed my eyes and was back in my grandma's spare bedroom, in the warm dark with the night-light left on in the hallway, my grandparents sleeping in their twin beds on the other side of the wall. Safe.

I've conjured that place several times this past year, trying to find purchase in my life and in what has, at certain times, felt like being in free-fall. I think that's how most of life is, in a lot of ways. You step forward, and step forward, and then you touch back — everything still here? Still here. Okay. Forward again (then). Life pulls you forward, even when you feel tired. I never was an adventurous person, in my own opinion; I always had big plans but only for little, mostly prosaic things. I always was and still am happiest in slow, mostly quiet places, with long, mostly quiet days. Winter suits me. When I look back on 2011, I am, I have to admit, still sort of bewildered and shaken, not sure what happened or even what to do next. I'm trying to be at peace with that gauzy, half-blurred feeling, and on certain days think it is easy to just — let it go away from me, a long piece of crinkled muslin tossed up and carried off into the wind. On other days I seem to wear it, spiraled and close, like a scarf. Maybe I'll just lose it somewhere, and not even notice. Leave it on a bench or a bus. I won't mind.

I'm not much of a planner, and never manage to remember to make any grand resolutions for a new year. My regular resolutions always seem so obvious. But I like how New Year's Eve prods you say them, even the obvious ones, out loud, along with everybody else. I want to appreciate the health, happiness, and home-life, and the people and pets, that I am so lucky to have. I want to be more generous and helpful, because I haven't felt like I've had much to offer anybody lately. I want to be a better friend and listen more when people are talking. I want my shoulders to relax because they're riding too high. I want to be outside more. I want to cook more and eat healthier. I want to have patience. I want to trust my intuition again, and have more faith in myself. I want to not always feel so left behind. I want to be more free, and even brave. I want to give more love than I do. Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. That is my wish for 2012.


So eloquently put. May 2012 bring you much peace and happiness.

(And I love your reference to the boxer shorts. I wore them to dance practice. My Grandpa thought I'd lost my mind.)

well said. i think your resolution to be an instument of peace is already realized. i say that because when i, like you, like everyone everywhere, need a happy place to land at a rough time, your blog is one of the places i visit in my head...along with my front porch and my comfy my hope for you this year is inner peace...and much love from those close to you of the two and four legged varieties. happy new year.

You are and will remain one of my most favorite and admired people. In the short time I've know you, I have never failed to be in such awe of you as a person. You have blessed me Alicia, in ways you aren't even aware of. Love you.



Lovely. Happy New Year to The Paulsons.

This post is one of those ones you write that makes me feel like I'm reading the letter of a dear old sweet friend. You have that gift, Alicia. You do. And it makes it comforting to come here. Thank you for all you share. For the time it takes to post so regularly and so beautifully.

My prayer for you and Andy is that this coming year is one of healing, hope and peace. You'll find it. You'll see.

Awwww sister,
you're sounding hard on yourself.
You guys have had such a rough time, it's not selfish to get caught up in it for a bit.
Wishes of peace and calm and love in the winds.

I am reading to my husband as he drives from home in no Cal to where we live in so Cal. Please Alicia don't pray for patience because you will be given lessons to learn and you have had enough. You, your blog, Andy all of it have blessed us so much. You are perfect. Made in God's image. My prayer is that your family be shown favor and that your heart may be filled with all the love we feel for you. A blessed 2012.

Thank you for sharing. May your new year be bright.

God's peace to you, Alicia. You are an amazing and wonderful person. I hope that 2012 is everything you hope it will be.

Boy, I so relate to this line:
"I never was an adventurous person, in my own opinion; I always had big plans but only for little, mostly prosaic things. I always was and still am happiest in slow, mostly quiet places, with long, mostly quiet days. Winter suits me. "

Beautiful and so well put. I love the new year, too, although I never really "celebrate" it. I have big plans in my small ways and am looking forward to a quiet winter. Thank you for a lovely post and Happy New Year!

I think that you have already achieved some of your resolutions. Thank you for your inspiring pictures, words and thoughts. Happy 2012 to you and Andy :)

Oh, Alicia, this post is beautiful, honest and true. Sending you and your family much peace, love and fulfilled dreams in the New Year. xo

Beautiful, heartfelt writing from a beautiful person. You are stronger than you know. There are lots of us in blogland wishing you so much happiness in 2012.
Deep Peace to You.

I look forward to your posts and Clover/cat photos. Thank you for writing and sharing with us!

I don't make resolutions in general, but I definitely want to get my house organized so that it's easier to BE CREATIVE when the whim hits!

Over all these years reading your blog, you have never stopped being an instrument of peace for me. The hardest thing is to be an instrument of peace for yourself. Best wishes and hopes for 2012!

Lovely reflection, happy new year Alicia & Andy & Family.

My father was also a musician. He'd come home late on New Year's Eve (morning?) with noise-makers and silver hats in funny shapes; we loved those shiny things!

All your resolutions are perfect. I also want all those things. But I never think of them at year's end - I never bother with resolutions. Lately I've been wondering if I should.

A lovely, heartfelt post. As I have read what you've experienced this year, I see an open heart and spirit where there could have easily been a closed one. Your genuine quietness and peace do shine through and I know are an encouragement to others. I've been following your blog for about 2 years and I recently purchased (and finished too!) the ABC embrodiery sampler. When I see your photo of the sampler on your blog and see my finished product I just think it's so cool and so pretty. And a quality piece. I'm so pleased with everything about it . I really appreciate you and the beauty you have brought into my life through your quiet talent, honest words and inspiring photography. I know the Lord is with you guiding you and your husband every step of this life. What a joy to have you blogging and sharing your life! Thank you.

I wish you all the things you wish for in this coming year, hon. Happy New Year. Mwah!

You are such a generous person. You offer more to your readers than you may know. I wish you and your family a good new year.

I think it's one of the bravest things in the world to be honest and to acknowledge our struggles. Just know that for every kind word or thought that you can send out, even when it's a struggle, it comes back to you multiplied. i wish you strength, peace, and calm next year and beyond!

I was adopted when I was a baby, and not long after my parents had plans to adopt a baby boy as well. They never met him or held him, but they lived with the idea of him for several months. Mom says his birthmother chose a wealthier couple. I wonder if he knows he almost had a big sister or that his name could have been Philip. I wonder if Mom ever thinks about him.

Happy new year!

I agree. I'm new to your blog but find myself coming back again and again to experience the serenity I get from your words and your photos. Thank you so much.

What a lovely post. You are a very brave woman. It takes bravery and love to put yourself out there when things are not certain. Blessings in the new year.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at