Thursday, December 6, 2018

Slowing Time

"We don't need nothing but today"

I've thought about this line from a favorite (Mac Miller) song so much lately. It swims into my psyche almost daily: driving, walking the frost bitten loop, barely opening my eyes to the day. It's the simplest of sentiments but it's been working surprisingly well for me as a mind-check mantra.

I'm kind of obsessed with time. Aren't you?....Or are you one of those lucky monsters who never gets caught in a loop thinking about the time they have left in a day, the impending doom of shortening space? For me, modern adult living feels like a full-time job with zero seconds to waste. In a world where basic to-do's like work, laundry, and transportation consume every moment, we face a nagging quandary of how to maximize our limited hours and overall impermanence. More trips! More destinations, goals, possessions, notoriety, success. What could make this slog better, bearable, more meaningful?

So much of what we humans do while trying our best to be our best actually robs us of the incredibly precious time we have to simply exist; encompass the human experience. Ugh, the insufferable amount of time wasted! Anxiety, fear, indecision, comparison, planning... 

In revolt of these potential regrets, it's become my prime focus this year to cultivate a practice of slowing time. 

Here's what that looks like for me:

Pool of the Winds
1.     Awareness
Awareness slowwwws time. So does practicing a pause. I try to pause and revel in moments where I feel indisputably good or peaceful. Awareness develops a benevolent wonder that infuses hours with significantly deeper meaning. Practicing the pause is also super beneficial in times of stress and judgement. Pause. Does this even matter? Should I waste more time on this feeling/thought/insecurity, or move on? Literally, move on. Walk it off, leave it in the shadow where it belongs.

2.     Going inward
I'm so obsessed with tapping into the voice of my soul, my intuition. I demand bravery. Be brave in asking for what you want from your day (each day) and in actually embodying these inherent drives. Be honest with yourself. BREATHE.

I love to go inward by spending a minimum of 30 minutes at the start or end of my day creating, rather than enjoying other people’s creations. We live in a word overflowing with captivating TV shows,  fascinating podcasts, and constant newness. Slowing time is about breaking habituation though, in search of dynamic and inspired moments that linger with magic. We can't just hijack everyone else's creative breakthroughs. We need to seek our own. 

3.     Saying YES and NO with authenticity
It takes so much courage to own and direct your time! The more I come to terms with the limited nature of my days on this planet, the more fiercely unapologetic I am with my Yes and No. Don't give your time away without serious thought. It's your greatest gift to give. Don’t say yes when you’re already dreading the follow up. Don’t say no out of shame when your heart is silently crying yes.

4.     Leaning into chance
I plan my free time (i.e. ANY time outside of work and sleep) less rigorously, and less far in advance. I'm sooo into making plans the day of or day before, rather than constantly committing a week in advance when I have no clue how I'll feel. Leave room for chance to open doors. It requires breathing room to thrive. Serendipity begets synchronicity.

5.     Identifying treasures hiding in plain sight
It's way too easy to ignore the small and seemingly mundane things that give our waking hours context and depth. For me, these are things like: the Califia cold brew I drink just about every morning, the way my dog climbs under the covers part way through the night, a new podcast episode to listen to just in time for a long drive, my landlord walking packages over to my front door, a random compliment from a stranger, the smell of a used bookstore, or of rain on cement. Without this collection of seemingly tiny, minute sources of happiness, my life would have no spaciousness or texture-two vital ingredients for elongating time.

It's no surprise that I also believe outdoor adventure can make our precious time on Earth extra ripe and robust. Especially when you're outside thriving with someone you love. Our time is ours to give and spend, and the most sincere indication of what/who we treasure. The seconds we disperse are gone forever once we spend them. We don't need nothing but today, if we expand today as wide as the sea.

"Empty open, choice-less as the beach. Waiting for a gift from the sea."  
- Anne Lindbergh

~Photos from Hamilton Mountain~

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Reviving Limbs

Back at it..or something like that. I took Claire to one of my favorite hike spots in Eastern Washington a few weeks ago: Umtanum Ridge Crest. I've done this hike more times than most. Lake Serene or Lake 22 are probably the only Washington trails I've returned to as frequently as this one. Each is special in their own way, with views that change drastically along with the seasons.

I've learned the hard way that this trail isn't safe in deep Winter. The very first time I came out here years ago, in February, we couldn't scale the last two hills that carry you to the top of the ridge. They are 45 degree torture climbs, and the ice covered ground made for constant slipping. Tumbling down with no living foliage to grab onto, and no steps or rope, would make for a long and painful descent.

I couldn't believe how difficult this trail was for me. I haven't felt this out of shape in a long, long time. I acquired a series of little injuries this Summer, including a recent hammy pull on the same leg as my once-dislocated kneecap. Things were feeling shaky and unreliable in my long, wobbly limbs. The summer sun burned long and extra hot this year, but the season was stunted in so many ways. First, there were a series of devastating forest fires across the state, barring access to roads and trails, and causing nearly unbearable air quality. Then, aggressive goat removal projects closed parts of the Olympics out here by me (had to happen right when Dad was visiting). An usual number of cougar and bear sightings across the state, clumsy-ass me getting hurt, and dog walkers canceling last minute. Soooo many hikes were planned in the past four months that just didn't come to fruition.


This one was great though. Despite my shame in falling wayyy behind Claire on the last leg up, it felt damn good to get my heart beating THAT hard again. I love Eastern Washington, and there's almost nothing I love as much as bringing people out to this dry desert vortex of lesser known (and thus less crowded) trails.

Claire is such a magical person, and getting to know her has been a highlight of 2018. She's taught me so much in such a short period of time, and every time we hang out I find myself cracking open; spilling secrets, dreams, and stories. She feels like a safe space, yet manages to be hella cool and exciting to be around at the same time. She's an absolute beast on the trail, and inspires me so damn much in her ritualistic dedication to hiking. The best people I know are a dichotomy of soft and hard, like her.

We got lost on the way to Umtanum, turning the one-way drive from Olympia into nearly 4 hours on the road. Why I still trust the Washington Trails website for driving directions, I'll never know.... No worries though, because Claire introduced a new trend of reading while driving to trailheads. Our first book: Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit. Here's one of my favorite paragraphs from the first chapter:

"When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Wild Women

A friendship between two women is something entirely different from any other bond. Many women will tell you that their true soul mate is their best friend. I consider my own closest ladies, my Queenies, to be my sisters in arms.

I've been spoiled rotten lately with a seemingly endless supply of quality time with my dearest, darling ladies. First, there was my trip to NYC. I've missed Anna so damn much since her move but witnessing her life and indisputable belonging in the big apple was a joy to behold. She inspires me more than she will ever understand.

Last week my sweet, magnetic sister Jasmin came back to visit the PNW for the first time in years. We've been friends since high school and actually dated the same guy back then, which is both laughable and a complete non sequitur to our relationship ever since. We've always had an ability to share intimate aspects of ourselves and our hearts across a constant distance. We haven't lived in the same city for something like twelve years, but I relish our rare time together.

Jasmin in her power stance
When you accidentally encounter the first snow storm of the season
Mt. Rainier
A Cali girl experiencing seasons

Female friendship is like that. Something to savor, to fucking delight in. It can make you feel so full that after you part, you want to message one another when you get home just to profess your love and gratitude a little more. Easy, deep, non-judgemental sisterhood is akin to a series of amazing first dates that never cease.

Jasmin happened to be here during my birthday week, so she joined myself and my bad ass girlfriend Sarah for a trip to the women-only Korean spa on my day. We dined on Korean bbq after, and I felt warm in every sense of the word (I swear it wasn't just the hot pools either). There's something to be said for stripping down to your naked, essential self with friends.

Salt wall therapy at Olympus Spa

Girlfriends feel like magic. Like dragon slaying, Princess Bride, Hocus Pocus, magic. Sometimes it feels unbelievable that women you respect and admire have likewise selected you to walk through life with. To bemoan the bullshit, to barf over men, to share secrets and insecurities and eccentric visions. To sip wine with, to plan trips, to wake up next to in bed in a form of intimacy that exists when sex is completely set aside from love.

The day after my birthday, I set off on a secret adventure with one of my closest friends, Josephine. We had planned for a month or so to visit Breitenbush Hot Springs in the Wilamette National Forest as a Bday celebration. I'd only been once before, with a lame guy I dated for one millisecond, so I was ready to visit this place again in a totally different frame of mind. Breitenbush is one of the best hot springs I've ever been to, and has a particular charm that is impossible to quantify without disturbing the cloudy mist of secrecy that hovers around this place. You don't really know what to expect until you've been, and even then, it seems to change with the seasons and the collective attendees present on any given day.

A couple weeks beforehand, Josephine reached out and asked how I felt about her arranging a surprise air b'n'b to stay in for a few nights instead of car camping in the back of her Element as we had originally planned. I was hesitant given my freshly unemployed financial status, but she pledged to take care of just about everything and later I found out that she had booked the whole shebang already anyway.

If you don't know Josephine, I'm not sure I can do justice in describing her either. Similarly to Breitenbush, she exudes an aura of elusive mystery while simultaneously managing to be one of the most raw and outspoken people I know. In her birthday note this year, I tried my best to sum up her vastness: "You're so special, Josephine. You're wild and rare....You're a spitfire, a conundrum, a beauty, a darling of a person, and my life wouldn't be the same without you."

She picked me up in Olympia and we headed South. A few hours into the trip, she handed me a printed itinerary with our destination, restaurant options, and wineries. That's right...we were headed to wine country! Our glorious "cabin" (think refinished barn with all the accouterments possible) was in the Eola-Amity area of Oregon, Southwest of Portland.

I can't and won't wax poetic about what a serene Birthday trip it was, but damn it felt good to be celebrated in such a perfect way! Most of all, to commemorate another year of surviving with one of the most important people in my life. Breitenbush was even better than I remembered, probably because the company was soooo good this time around!

Our front porch
Vivid Vineyards, where we stayed
Amity, Oregon [Photo by Josephine Jardine]

In times past, there seemed to be a sociological construct of friendship expiring in favor of family life. How utterly disturbing this seems now- especially to those of us who don't envision ourselves as future parents. Friendship was something you did as a child, an adolescent, a holding space for the more practical and lasting relationships you were 'meant' for (cue eye roll). I look at my friends now, and wonder at how we could ever willingly stop being close. Though we go through fights and misgivings and utter annoyances with each other, there are women in my life who have been there since I was brace-faced in sixth grade (Love you Jazzy)....Women who have been through every single one of my relationships and subsequent break ups....Through my 15 million different jobs, apartments, temporary dreams, schemes, scandals, and feelings.... What could stop us now?

I have high standards for my friends, and they know this. They also know that I am more than willing to return the favor. My girl friends are my lifeline, my salvation, solace, and glee. I'm not after low-stakes love. My girls are absolutely necessary to me. I need them to understand this fact, so I do my best to show and remind them. When I'm failing, I need them to tell me so I can do better because I can and will.

As far as I'm concerned, divine friendship between women is the most palpable and permanent thing I have in this very impermanent life. 

The hot pots of Breitenbush
Always in hot water 
Detroit Lake, OR
River Run, OR. Espresso stop post soak.
The beautiful Jose-Bean
Dedicated to the women who keep me going: Josephine, Anna, Hazel, Jasmine, Jasmin, Julia, Claire, Sarah, Lauren, Aga, and the rest.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Salutations, Sun Rotation

Salutations to another rotation around the sun. My physical form turns 31 on Wednesday but my soul is eternal, so whose really counting anyway?

I spent the second half of my twenties obsessed with self improvement. I've been renovating myself like a house for the last five years, working room by room. Sometimes tearing out things that weren't rotten in the first place. Design and vision shifting constantly as I took in more wisdom, lessons, and influence. Hammering away at foundations from childhood, stripping walls built through icky experiences, updating the plumbing through which I process shit; ultimately exposing more and more space until there was nothing left except, space.

I've been consumed with becoming a better version of myself. I took on a full-time job of cultivating personal responsibility. Every chapter read, hour spent contemplating/journaling, walking one foot in front of the other on long solo hikes, apology offered, boundary erected, was about me being: Better, More, Realized, Assured, Responsible, Aware, Evolved, again-Better.

As the next birthday approaches I've suddenly awoken to realize that in all this becoming, I haven't done much Being. For some, that comes easily. For me, it takes a lot of self-soothing to stop trying and just Be. Exist. Often lost in my own thoughts and neuroses, I obsess about my potential. 

I've chewed through self help and spiritual literature. I've thought a LOT about my mistakes and misgivings, my lacks and my character flaws. I've named my issues and limitations out loud, taking the power out of anyone else's accusations.

Now, here I AM. Just am. Me. Unfurled, unwoven, stripped bare to realize that it took all that work for something so simple and meaningful to be awoken inside of me: The pleasure of liking myself, seeing my goodness, suddenly unlearning the perverse need to be broken, and thus fixed.

No more anxiety (forward focused), no more unpacking my guilt complex (past obsessed). Just now. Over and over again, NOW. Every moment defined unto itself. No context needed, no urgent sense of responsibility and analysis. The is-ness of this very second in time.

The thing is, and I think this is actually incredibly important, neither route is superior nor wrong. You require both approaches at different phases: unabashed self love, and sincere self reflection. I haven't figured out yet how to hold both inside myself simultaneously. Maybe that wisdom comes in your forties...... haha. All I know is that right NOW the pendulum is swinging towards ease and admiration, and I'm willfully setting the baggage aside to unpack at a later date.

My intentions and affirmations for this powerful thirty first year in the ongoing experiment of waking life:

1. I will stop myself mid-sentence when I'm defaulting to self deprecation, judgement, and taking responsibility for shit that isn't my burden to carry
2. This year, I set aside the question "How can I be better?" and replace it with the daily prompt "How am I wonderful?"
3. I'm not worried if I'm not right for people or situations. I make peace with the understanding that I am a mirror for what people don't like about themselves
4. I'm finding new ways to express my immense gratitude for the human life I get the pleasure of experiencing
5. I create without any thought or notion of how it can/will be interpreted
6. With all the space I've opened up in myself and my life, I'm inviting my Guides and the art of synchronicity to expose new opportunities and experiments for my little human self
7. I am a beacon of light. Me simply Being invites and allows others to Be. And so it goes for all of us
8. I am a magnet for miracles
9. Unfolding (and healing) is a matter of time, not strategy

~*All photos from my recent-and first ever!-trip to NYC*~

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mad Things Rearrange

"Seasons change, mad things rearrange/ But it all stays the same, like the love doctor Strange" -The Fugees

Just some photos of the last hike I did, over a month ago, to ease my suffering as I await the next outdoor opportunity....

This was a scrapped together route that Jasmine and I made up at Mt. Rainier, beginning with Naches Peak Loop and then scootchin' around 5-6 different lakes, up, down, and around..

I will get back to this blog, I SWEARS IT. Halloween is my last day of "normal" work!