A Sign of Things to Come

Today I broke my plastic camp spoon that I’ve had for a decade. I ate my lunch with it at work for years. I carried it around in my purse to avoid using single-use utensils. I felt very personally connected to this small, grey, plastic item that cost me roughly one dollar, plus tax. I stirred coffee, ate soup, shoveled rice, scooped almond butter. This morning it was almond butter — a new-to-me, no-stir, crunchy version in a glass jar, spread thickly on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel. I was attempting side two of my bagel.

*SNAP*

The handle remained in my hand, but the head of the spoon was planted firmly within the jar. This is only breakfast … today is going to be a bad day, I thought. It’s an omen. I should skip my long run — I’ll probably get hurt. It’s a sign.

*pause*

Maybe it is a sign. A sign of change to come. A sign of a needed shift in my reality. A representation of “out with the old, in with the new.” Today I’ll turn a corner, welcoming a new thought, a new space, a new place, a new perspective, a new feeling, a new life.

A new beginning.

Perhaps today, if I pay attention, the world will be new.

I will take what is old, take what has served me (well or unwell), open my mind, break the old habits in half, and take one step forward. Today is a new day.

And maybe, also, I will be more careful when scooping the almond butter.

Your Body is Your Vehicle (take it on an epic adventure)

I am interrupting the previously scheduled European vacation programming to have a brief discussion about an essay I read today.

This essay made me so angry, and so happy at the same time.

Angry because of this:

I did some quick Googling on the topic, and there are a handful of “will cycling make my legs bigger?” articles out there. I even found a video titled “How to ride your bicycle without bulking up your quads, thighs, & legs.”

And exceptionally happy because of this:

I want a body that takes me places. I want to see things. I want thighs that help me to pedal hard up a hill. I want to feel things. I want a heart that’s happy and healthy, physically and emotionally.

I want to feel alive.

Most importantly, I know that I want a lifestyle that’s more full of “fuck yeahs” than feeling bad about what I should or shouldn’t look like.

I surprised myself by becoming completely enraged that there exist women who desire to ride a bike, but are stopped by fear of gaining muscle. I want to weep for everyone who let society squash their dreams, ideas and even their most seemingly insignificant desires. I want to punch every person who ever propagated the idea that a human body should appear a certain way.

I am also thinking about the three weeks I just spent exploring mountains, hiking, climbing, running and walking every possible inch of the Alps that I could get my hands and feet on. I didn’t think about my body as an object that was right or wrong. I didn’t think about what body parts I liked or disliked or wanted to change or what I feared to be judged. I thought only about where it could take me, how strong I could make it; I thought about what amazing shape I’d be in and how good it would feel if I spent the rest of my life trekking around Alpine towns, eating bread and butter, drinking wine and espresso and huffing and puffing on mountain ridges above the clouds; running, climbing, smiling.

I want to spend the rest of my days wearing clothes that are comfortable when I’m sweating, and cozy when I’m relaxing. I want to forever not care about what my body looks like, and start admiring it for what it can do and where it can take me. I want everyone around me, everyone reading this and everyone in existence to start to see their bodies as amazing vehicles for amazing, epic adventures.

Thank you Anna Brones for writing this essay. You are my hero today.

A Poem For My Readers

As I wander in and out of the blog-o-sphere
I often wonder … does anyone know I’m here?
My posts are sparse, though my ideas are many
Drafts are long stuck in writing purgatory

Countless hours spent thinking through each idea
Less hours even drafting on computer media
My notebook is full, my scribbles are many
But my curser blinks endless on pages empty

In my head I’m a writer! with content a-plenty
I have readers and fans, surely more than twenty
I work hours and hours to perfect my craft
Honing my skills, working hard on each draft

But reality is, I work all day at a desk
I work for “the man” — it can be quite a test
I dream of outdoors, adventures galore
And writing about them all day and more

Have faith in me, readers — I’ll one day live my dream
Exploring the world, as I travel, plot and scheme
With my pack on my back, van keys in my hand
I’ll venture on to mountains, rivers and sand

I’ll be lost among the trees, deep in a canyon
Dips in alpine lakes — always, always planning
Petroglyphs, ancient ruins and history
Nature, fresh air, tomorrow a mystery

Find me back here one day, filling in the blanks
For the future opportunity, I’ll give thanks
I’ll pay it forward, I’ll spread all the love
From a snowy mountain, way high above

Jtree 030417 (7 of 7).JPG

Reflections on Meditation

I have some long overdue van updates to come, but I wanted to break from the vanlife news and share something a little deeper and more personal. I used to do a lot of introspective writing, and I have always found great joy in making connections on a deeper level … but it’s also important not to forget about all the fun in things in life! So, while I work on more posts about the Great Winter Vancation, other recent adventures, and updates on the van construction (we installed a roof vent!!!!), I will share a snippet of other things in my life:

I began leaning on a steady meditation practice at the beginning of 2015. I was going through a stressful divorce, creating a new life for myself and seeking out change in any way I could find. The results were life-saving. Yet as time went on, as I felt stronger, my practice had slowly gone by the wayside. As 2016 came to a close, I thought about the things I wanted to change this year, the person I had become, the person I want to be and my journey, past, present and future. I needed to be more steady, more focused, and less chaotic.

These past few months I have been giving myself more inward focused care, and more time to grow my meditation practice. Last week I reached a profound milestone. I have made a promise to my own heart to be a more loving being, to always share compassion with all beings. This is my new everyday — my living, breathing mantra.

Today, during my walking meditation, I imagined myself as a tree — grounded and peaceful. My feet, roots communing with the earth on each step. The hairs on my head, branches and leaves. As I walked, my thoughts and worries and stressors all streamed behind me, taken by the wind and dissolved into the sky. The breeze rustling and multiplying the love in my heart, carrying it far, and wrapping all of my worries in a blanket of compassion before sending them off into the atmosphere. The growing compassion swelling my heart and spreading to the farthest reaches of all humanity. My mind, clearing and making room for all of the love, kindness and compassion absorbed throughout my day and beyond. Like a tree, I am strong and unwavering.

This is a beautiful life I’ve been given and each moment is wasted if not filled with love and kindness.

I am exceedingly fortunate that I am able to have these experiences; that my life has provided me the opportunity to have strong and admirable teachers, mentors and friends. I am thankful for each and everyone of them — and for all who read this, you are loved, even from afar.

The Simple Life – Part 2

Downsizing is hard.

Packing is hard.

Moving is a hassle.

This is pretty much how I’ve been feeling every single time I walk through my front door. As such, I have been avoiding walking through my front door. It’s not helping. I have these moments where I plow through a ton of things, tossing and donating and selling and giving away like a mad woman. And then following these moments are long lulls in activity where I’m at such a complete loss of what to do that I end up just walking away … or zombie staring at an open closet for what feels like decades, eventually closing it with nothing accomplished.

I’m dedicating my entire day tomorrow to Getting Things Done. I have a simple (yet fairly long), easy-to-follow, step-by-step to-do list that outlines the things I am confident I can (and must) accomplish beginning tomorrow and ending on Sunday. I plan to break for exercise and nourishment, and end the day with a much shorter to-to list.

Game on.

In other news, I packed my parents the other night. I found slight humor in adding their urns to a box of things; this is the first time they’ve been out of the cupboard in my bedroom since they’ve been put there. I’m also snickering a little inside thinking about which friend will load this box into the moving truck and if they will notice the label that reads, “Mom and Dad.” Maybe they’ll think that it is full of things pertaining to Mom and Dad? I suppose, in a way, it is. Maybe I should reconsider my label … “human remains?” Maybe, “actual parents?” … “ashes?” This could go in so many directions.

And of course on a more serious note, I have shed that feeling of panic toward getting rid of things and am very happily looking forward to living a more minimalist life. I’ve come to terms with easing into things and really thinking through my purchases, sales and donations before moving forward.

And lastly, I wanted to share this podcast I listened to this morning:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/584/for-your-reconsideration

Act three was hilarious and heartwarming. Act one was interesting. What really struck me was Act two. I won’t give too much away, but this found me at the right time. I have been struggling with just doing things, setting aside my (often irrational) fears and just doing, and this really hit home.

Sometimes you need something to remind you to get out and really live. 

The Simple Life – Part 1

April 2016 marks the beginning of a new era.

All in one week, I made the decision to rid myself of the majority of my possessions, participated in my first running race, celebrated one year of dating my amazing boyfriend, and received word that my divorce was final. So much, all in one week. My head is spinning, and at the same time, I feel like the world is my oyster. After successfully recovering from the Ragnar Relay (and after temporarily swearing off running forever), I regained my motivation to grab the bull by the horns, if you will.

Piece by piece I am severing the sentimental ties to things that are just things, and I am disposing of, giving away, selling and donating the majority of what I own. In four weeks’ time, I will leave the place I’ve called home for five years with a few bits and pieces — some heirlooms, some books, some clothes, my laptop and my gear, and I will be a free-er woman!

“The things you own, end up owning you” – Tyler Durden

So what might I have in store for the coming year? Simplicity. Very few belongings. I want to know I can live out of my backpack when I want to. More running, more cycling, more hiking, more going. I have plans travel more, find the world, nature and myself as much as possible.

But let’s start with step one: untie these ties!

Downsizing is a quite epic task when you’ve fully furnished and occupied 1000 square feet of living space for a few years. I feel like I have so little, yet there are so many things here. I’ve broken it down into what I hope are easy steps. I’ve been making progress with friends and neighbors, pawning off things that people can use for the sheer joy of seeing something go to a new home where it will be appreciated. So far, I’ve collected $40 by selling my old backpack on OfferUp, and sold my Craigslist dining set to a neighbor. I’ve given away my patio chairs, tripod, most of my plants, computer desk, and a handful of other items — books, DVDs, art, etc.

I  don’t even feel one bit jaded by not taking money for all of these things. I acquired much of them long ago, for minimal cost, and this is my way to give back to the people who have provided so much support and encouragement, pure friendship and love.

Over the course of this last week, amidst all of the shuffling, the bartering, the giving, I felt two very distinct and extreme emotions:

Separation Anxiety. I woke up in a complete panic over the thought of not having a washer and dryer anymore. What if I need them again one day?!?! I’m going to be using someone else’s! I’m going be dependent! OMG I’M LOSING MY INDEPENDENCE!

Elation. As I handed off two large framed prints that have been with me for many, many years, I felt a twinge of regret that they were just ripped from my life so quickly. And then they were gone. And suddenly, I no longer felt attachment to them. Suddenly, the thought of having them again became so unappealing. My thoughts gravitated to the appreciation expressed to me by the recipients of my belongings, and it felt great. I felt like a successful matchmaker.

The panic is subsiding over the big changes that I am making this month. I have been planning this change for so long, and it is finally unfolding. My calculated plan for happiness and freedom is well underway, and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have spent the better part of the last two years searching for what I needed to do to find my own personal happiness, and the determination is paying off. I’ve never been happier. I have so little, yet I have so much. My chosen family is growing stronger every day. My support system is overwhelmingly amazing. I am doing things I never imagined I could do. My fears are diminishing and my confidence grows. Life is good!