Wednesday, December 20, 2017

See Me

Waterfalls manage to be supremely peaceful and intensely powerful at the same time. They walk a rare, fine line between soft and hard. On a scientific level, they have a powerful energetic effect on the space around them. The collision of rushing water molecules strip electrons from the oxygen in the water itself, allowing them to accumulate in the oxygen atoms of the surrounding air. The waterfall becomes positively charged while the atmosphere around it acquires a negative charge.

Though a misnomer, negative ions create positive effects. Some of these distinctly beneficial impacts include: neutralizing free radicals, revitalizing cell metabolism, enhancing immune function, and blood purification. So in essence, the next time you are considering a visit to your primary care physician, I highly recommend exploring a waterfall trail first.

Boulder River Trail, Washington
I find the imagery of a waterfall extremely powerful when you apply this scientific knowledge of their inherent energy exchange. The flowing, crashing water takes on an overtly positive charge and in doing so, sustains and enlivens the surrounding area. The waterfall is steady and reliable in its intuitive purpose of positively impacting any living thing within its proximity. 

I simply love to bear witness to waterfalls. All my favorite hikes involve waterfalls and/or lakes, which will come as no surprise f you've read this blog or hiked with me.  I thought my enjoyment of them was pretty straight forward, but I clearly receive something profound in their presence. Perhaps this bump in serotonin provided by the influx of negative ions is like the MSG of the natural world, bringing me back again and again.

I've been thinking a lot these past few days about how I show up for people and how they show up for me. At the end of the day, most of us just want others to witness and confirm our existence. We need to be seen, heard, and if possible, understood. At best we dare to dream of being celebrated. Some people will mistakenly consider this high maintenance. Your needs can make them uncomfortable, especially if they just don't want to meet them. Indeed I think indifference may be the greatest threat to human intimacy.

In the past I have made the mistake of expecting others to know what I need or want without me having to communicate it explicitly. Now I am much more willing to ask for what I want, even though I cannot control if others meet me there. What we crave in terms of acknowledgement seems so incredibly simple to give in comparison to the nature of the waterfall. We aren't required to deplete ourselves entirely to charge the people around us. We can take steps to offer the people we care about most the unadorned yet earnest gift of being celebrated.

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.
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We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” ~ BrenĂ© Brown

Gulfoss, Iceland

Kirkjufell, Iceland
Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Kamikazee Falls, Washington
Bridal Veil Falls, Washington
Denny Creek Falls, Washington
The top of Wallace Falls, Washington

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Can't Complain

I would love to share some realizations that have come to me in the last few weeks. I attribute the vast majority of these thoughts and musings to The Artist's Way program and to the reawakened creative force working through me. I have already experienced an immense clearing of mental clutter.

*It's downright silly, if not ridiculous, to complain about things you have chosen. Just accept this right now and move forward in life with the supreme understanding that you are not allowed to complain about things you have chosen to do.

*The goal of personal creativity is to express yourself in ways that are liberating to your soul and true to the innate and unique YOU. Freely expressing yourself may be the best way to level up to your Dream Life. If this level of honesty conflicts with people around you, then you may need to remove those people from your life in the kindest way possible. Raise your own damn frequency!

"We can find spiritual solutions to problems by living at higher levels and calling upon faster frequencies" -Dr. Wayne W. Dyer 

*You have to be really specific in telling the Universal All what you truly want. It is essential to get crystal clear on what you sincerely wish to manifest. The All responds to specifics, and also to goals that serve the greater good. Not everything we desire needs to be altruistic, but many many masters of esoteric thought say the same thing: if the desire comes from the heart, and serves other people, it is more likely to become reality.

"Vague aspirations lead to vague results" -Jen Sincero

*The things you avoid are often the things you most need. This is never more true than the acts of self care that we consistently push aside because we "don't have time." There are also things we really want that require actions that scare us, which are essential actions to take in order to earn the reward. The practice of discipline is itself following through on commitments (to yourself, your art, your legacy) whether you feel like it or not. It's not necessary to feel like doing something in order to do it.

"The commitment to discover what is essential to you often gets lost in the ordinariness of life, where you are beguiled by the false comfort of routine and the tyranny of responsibility. You can fall quite literally into believing your identity is the sum of your duties and habits." -Phillip Moffit

*The only way to successfully break a bad habit is to replace it with a new habit or behavior. Period.

*More than making decisions, we really make agreements with ourselves and the outer world. We chose to believe them or not. Now please refer back to my first point about not complaining about your choices. Simply make new choices and agreements at any time.  We are allowed to change our minds.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred." -William H. Murray

There you have it, my notes from the edge this week. Life is such an amazing, ongoing exploration. I truly appreciate the time I get to spend outdoors quieting my mind between the constant mental gymnastics (though I genuinely enjoy those too). Balance, Baby.

The following photos are from our hike to Mason Lake on the Ira Spring Trail this past Sunday. It was a bit of a frustrating climb up with such icy trail conditions but totally worth it. The last switch back before the top of the mountain turned into the smallest, skinniest ridge line I've ever walked (without support chains). My heart was pounding a little bit! Kept my eyes on my boots because my clumsy ass would very likely fall down the side of the mountain otherwise. 

Coming out of the tree cover
Goofy Rich
Vert Conditions
Blessed with a gorgeous, sunny day. Rain free!
Frozen Mason Lake
Photo by Rich

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Habits are Habit Forming

When I was in Elementary school I got realllllly into drama and acting. I joined an after school program called Broadway Bound, took tap classes to be musical-ready, and ended up starring in the Cinderella remake our school did (toot toot, that's me blowing my own horn). Physical evidence of said plays exists in the form of VHS tapes somewhere in my mom's closet, unless the flood she had this year ruined them, which I wouldn't be upset about. I imagine these would be the perfect threat for ransom if found... I've never been one to sing ON key, to put it mildly.

In any case, I remember specifically a play we did through Broadway Bound that had the strangest context ever for a children's musical. It was all about habits, and the theme song to the whole shebang had a chorus I'll never forget "Habits are habit forming, take another drink!"

What. Why. How.. I don't know. Sure seems troubling now. I tried googling this musical and absolutely nothing came up. Something tells me it wasn't actual Broadway material, so chances are it was a one-off production that disappeared into the vast abyss of forgotten memories that existed before the internet boomed.

I'm not sure how I can remember the chorus, since I often forget what I did over the weekend when asked. However habit has been a big focus for me lately. Developing more productive habits and stronger discipline is an essential priority for me in order to see different results in my life. There's a lot I want to do with myself and my time here and well, there's no real time other than now.

You're probably familiar with the old adage that the definition of crazy is doing something the same way over and over and expecting a different result. This new obsession with forming better habits is my attempt to fight my own crazy, as well as my lazy tendencies.

[A great, short video on the power of forming rewarding habits:]

Recently I had this conversation with the omnipotent energy while taking a bath:

Universe, I said. I am interested in developing powerful discipline. I want to stop getting distracted by other people's lives and motives and focus on my own. I sense that I have a great story or two inside of me, longing to get out. I love allegorical tales and I want to fuse together all the amazing shit I've learned through self/spiritual discovery into a great story that influences others in a positive way. But I can't seem to even find the time to write anymore without important responsibilities getting in the way, especially "duty" to other people.

Well one can scantly call that a conversation since Universe didn't speak back in the moment, but fast forward a few days to an afternoon spent browsing Barnes and Noble, looking for a particular Christmas gift. The Artist's Way appeared on a display shelf in front of me. Aha! I know this!- It's a fairly famous guide book penned by Julia Cameron something like 25 years ago and it's definitely been mentioned to me in passing before. Since I don't believe in coincidence and like to think the Universal All is willing and ready to give me what I ask for, even in the form of a riddle or work, I brought it home.

The Artist's Way is the definition of discipline. I won't go into the specific tenants and details here, because I think it's best left read first-hand. Overall, it's a 12 week commitment to waking up early, writing freehand every morning, weekly artist dates with yourself, and self-exploration projects based on the weekly themes. Overall, it is a proven method for creative recovery. Which is quite frankly exactly what I need.

I used to spend a great deal of time working on creative writing. These days the majority of writing I do is journaling or blogging, which is cool, but not the endpoint I am driving at. Cheers to doing something to move myself forward toward the actual dreamscape in my mind. I will be busy focusing on myself and my creative recovery for the next three months, which feels good.

One habit that passes the test of positive contribution to my life is of course hiking. That won't be going anywhere, and will surely continue to inspire me visually and physically and actually, emotionally as well. It's been a tough season up here already with constant rains, but I did get out this past weekend to test my brand new crampons (Thanks Dad!) on the Big Four Ice Caves Trail. Spoiler alert: There are only two caves formed under the avalanche chute at the base of Big Four Mountain this season.

NO, I didn't go inside the caves, I read signs well and take my life seriously (too seriously, some might say).

Approaching the caves

Had the caves and snow field to myself on a Friday afternoon!

The mouth of Doom

Multiple deaths here in the past


Big Four Mountain

Trekking back across the snow field

Here's a shot of me from the Lake Serene trail two weekends ago, which Rich and I attempted on LITERALLY the wettest day of the year. We made it about 2.5 miles in before turning around due to my completely soaked feet.

Since I'm out here vibin' hard with Universal Spirit, developing a deeper communication with The All, I will take a moment to share a very specific and highly accurate depiction of my dream living environment at this time. Take note, Universe!

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Terror of Inertia

"Society is just a clearing in the forest" -Osho

I have been ready and willing to leave Seattle for so long now. I won't even bother equalizing that statement with all the things I do like about this city. It will forever be a place I return to, if only to take in the mountains in every direction and the people I can't live without.

Two years ago I was primed and ready to make Vancouver, Washington my home. I had a great job opportunity there with one of the finest cannabis companies on the medical market. I had a chance to work alongside some people I really respected and liked. Plus the entire area around the raging Columbia River is essentially a magical faerie dreamscape.

My boyfriend and I unceremoniously broke up maybe two months into house searching. This was the apex of disaster at the time: I was on crutches after dislocating my knee cap, my long term job was coming to an end as the business shut down, my mom was phasing in and out of treatment constantly, and now my great plan for escape was thwarted. I could have moved to Vancouver by myself, but I didn't. I stayed.

I stayed because my north star was flung far outside myself. I handed off the compass that directs and moves my life to other people, sure that they would be better equipped to make my decisions for me. They became easy scapegoats for my befuddling inertia. The boyfriend I didn't want to leave when I applied for colleges. My mom, always suffering. My best friends.

The faster the city parades around me and the higher the buildings go, the more I shrink into myself. Trapped, confused, unmoving. Each small victory met with a higher cost of living. Where do I go? What do I do with myself now? Why hasn't the lightening bolt hit me yet? Why do I seem to want to live totally separate from other people? Despite my issues with modern life and the human condition, I don't in fact dislike human beings or social interaction. I thrive off attention and rewarding bonds just like any other warm blooded mammal.

"I feel like I lost something there and the traffic is heavy and pointless. I stare out of the window waiting for something to make sense....I do not feel like the Saint I want to be, I do not feel like a prophet or even a priest. I feel like ET or someone left behind. I feel homeless, landless.....To see that it is all bullshit and not to clock off, that requires faith. Only faith will do. Only faith." -Russell Brand

See, I crave a living situation outside of the city (any city). I want isolation but occasional respite from this isolation as well. I want a warm house with a stove for fires and land for my dog. I want the sound and smell of water nearby and trails I can easily access. I want to write for long hours then stretch my body with crazy dance and bagging peaks.

Here's the thing. I've been able to access my north star and to pull it back inside myself. None of the things that held me back all these years have really changed, but I have. I am almost to  the other side of my commitments (lease and work and otherwise) and on the precipice of finally leaving..... Yet I have a stinking suspicion that the hole I talk about so often in my posts will still be there. That I could find the best bungalow to live in for an affordable price and still yearn for an RV to drive off in.

I think part of why traveling is so addicting and satiating is because we are confronting newness over and over. We are too busy experiencing something for the first time to default to habituation. When it comes to home and putting down roots, the newness will always evaporate eventually. The peace of knowing a place is addicting in its own right, in its sheer comfort. But the hole will still be there. The wondering about other places that might be better suited for us, especially as things around us inevitably shift and change. The desire for a different climate or commute, a larger or smaller space, a home that can be picked up and moved on wheels.

All that matters at this point is that I act and do rather than just wondering. I am currently asking myself how I want to optimize this leap of faith as I finally prepare to pack boxes and leave Seattle behind. I have to challenge myself to think beyond the scope of personal limitation and to create something, anything, that lasts beyond my own attention span.


“there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
a space
and even during the
best moments
the greatest times
we will know it

we will know it
more than
there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
we will wait
in that space.” -Bukowski

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Magic Mystic Zion

After a few days of cruising down I-15 in my sweet rental Jeep (beep beep!), I met up with my Dad in La Verkin, Utah. He had set up a temporary RV home-base on BLM land nearby, outside the little settlement of Virgin, Utah.

The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) oversees more than 200 million acres of Public Lands in America. Full time RV'ers like my Dad often stay on these patchwork sections of land strewn across the Western US, intersecting with private property and bordering some of our national parks and forests. They are free campgrounds/open spaces where stay is usually limited to two weeks. The BLM is responsible for managing protected conservation areas, government owned recreation space,  and underground minerals. It has been in the news quite a bit lately as President Dipshit attempts to withdraw both funding and acreage from public lands in his efforts to open up the fracking and oil industries, and generally be an even greater source of destruction than he already is.

But, I digress.

After a delicious dinner at a local cafe, we headed to Dad's little home on wheels to get some sleep before our first day of hiking together in Zion National Park. From that first sunset drive, I was astonished to witness the remarkable greenery and foliage of Southern Utah. Big, blooming, yellow cottonwood trees lined the Virgin River that snakes along the highway towards the entrance of Zion. For early November, it was still wondrously and bountifully colorful.

Utah was like that though; altogether unexpected and ripe with a remarkable beauty that I couldn't have predicted. Although I've been to the Southwest, this area was completely different from my former experiences. Perhaps it was also due in part to the season; When I think of childhood summers in New Mexico or Arizona, I think of dusty desert sunsets, watching the cacti and raptors from my dad's porch hammock, adobe houses, red clay, and green hatch chilies sold on the side of the road. I remember vast, empty, flat landscapes that stretched on forever.

Zion and its surroundings are far from empty or flat. I had to stop often in awe of the unbelievable magic and total saturation of color all around me. I think I averaged one photo every 4 minutes because I was having a hard time processing the sensational explosion of light and color in the moment. Each time passing clouds cleared, sunshine would highlight the brilliant rock faces surrounding us in an illuminating golden hue; Basically the equivalent of having a halo surround these monoliths.

The upper left corner of Washington is lush, green, overgrown, littered with ferns and low hanging leaves, mossy, and wet. Southern Utah is everything at once: diverse, monumental, dry, with staggering peaks and canyon crevices that seem to spiral down to the very center of the earth. Sporadically rainy, yellow, orange, red and white at the same time, with sand stone hills and geological oddities at every turn.

Zion National Park feels like the ancient settlement of Gods on Earth. There is something strange and supernatural about the park itself. Yes, it is crowded with people from every country imaginable, all desperate to witness the same grand design as you. Yet more than any other public land or national monument I have ever been to, it felt like a gateway to another world full of anthropomorphic wonders. I could imagine the court of the patriarchs (three huge sandstone cliffs) coming to life any moment as kind giants re-awoken. Looking down on the incalculable vistas of the valley below Angel's Landing, I imagined dragons and mystical creatures hiding out in the wide open and far slung corners of the park. If there is a safe place for magical and wonderful beasts in the modern age, Zion is it.

It was nothing short of a blessing to experience this magic with my Dad and his incredible friends. He is beyond lucky to have found the sincere, adventurous, and knowledgeable Red Rocks Gang. I saw a side of Zion that only the experienced and well-trodden visitor gets to see thanks to Mark and Bobbie, who led us on some trails outside of the core zone. On our Many Ponds hike the second day, we encountered a large group of big horn sheep but zero human beings until the very end of the trail! I can't wait to meet back up with them again soon.

Hidden Canyon

I loved these exposed ridge lines

Laura Lee

 Echo Canyon:


 Many Pools:

Those are some biggg horns in person!

Target booties

So many intriguing rock formations, carved by water and time

Dad and I

Love my Dad
Mark and Bobbie are relationship goals

Keep your fingers crossed for no flash floods

Angel's Landing and part of the West Rim Trail:

Headed up to Angel's Landing

Spectacular views
Made it!

The white sandstone of  the West Rim