Friday, December 26, 2014

Slowing Down

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my time. When I was young I had all the time in the world. I would spend countless hours curled up by the fire reading a book, or sitting in my open bedroom window behind the curtain watching the rain fall and breathing in the sharp, cold air. I could get lost in an art project and still find time to chat with friends on the phone for hours.

I don’t know where that time has gone. What I do know is that I want to find a way to get it back.

Each day holds the same amount of hours now as it does then. What I realize is that now I have a few more distractions. Facebook, Instagram, sodoku, you name it I have it on my phone ready and able to distract at a moment’s notice. There have been too many times where I suddenly realize I have been scrolling through photos of acquaintances on facebook for several minutes and I’m not entirely sure when I picked up my phone to begin with. Netflix provides stories upon stories of fictitious lives and made up worlds that I can get lost in for hours without ever once putting meaningful effort into the lives around me and the world I live in. And sure, these activities have a time and a place, but they shouldn’t take all the time.

When I am not taking part in these leisurely activities I am faced with a long list of things I need to be doing or should be doing. There are always meals to be made, bills to pay, my room to clean, friends to visit, and another trip on the horizon to pack and then unpack for. A life of “should do, could do, need to do” is no better than a life of “where did the time go?”.

What can I do to ensure I am living a life of intentionality freedom that I can be proud of and that makes me happy? What can I do to make sure I am living a life I want to live?

I have started by slowing down a little bit. Taking out some unnecessary obligations and adding a few of the things I know I enjoy. Instead of scrolling through facebook I take that time to give a friend a call. Instead of watching another episode on t.v. I try to take a moment to journal or work out. Instead of filling my days with plans for weeks on end, I am trying to schedule blank days to do with what I will when they arrive.

But a problem I have always had is my social life. And my job has not made it any easier. I love my friends, I do. I would do anything for them, and I do. But what I forget is that in between planning a trip to visit so and so and making a lunch date with such and such, I am leaving myself no time to take care of myself. I forget to incorporate the hobbies I love. I don’t think I went hiking all summer and I definitely didn’t go camping. I can count the number of times I have been rock climbing on one hand. I have had the same journal for over 2 years, that’s how little I sit down to write in it. My paints haven’t been opened since I moved out of my sisters house and I haven’t cooked a real meal at home in probably two months.

I know life changes and sometimes we don’t have time to do all the things we used to, and sometimes we don’t want to do all the things we used. But one thing is for certain, I want to make sure that I am constantly checking in with myself and listening to my needs. I want to give myself time to be me, to do the things that make me tick. If that means saying no to a few get-togethers or just turning off my phone for a couple hours, I want to be more intentional with my time. Because taking care of myself is the best way for me to take care of you, too.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

NICEland

Iceland (or NICEland as we've been calling it) has exceeded expectations so far. We've seen the northern lights 3 of the 4 nights we've been here (and we didn't even try the first night because of jet lag and northern lights). We have had plenty of day light and starting this trip on a full moon has given us plenty of light at night also. The sky seems bigger here even when you are surrounded by mountains, and the Big Dipper has hung bright and true.
I think we have finally got a handle on jet lag. The first couple days we could barely drag ourselves out of be by 9:30, it's become more like 7:45 in recent times, even though each night is a late one bundled up outside in the wind huddled against the wheels of cutie patunia, our rental, chasing the lights of the north.
It's been hard to find good coffee in the morning since most shops and caf├ęs don't open until 10 or 11, but the Te and Kaffi store, usually inside a souvenir and book shop, has come to our rescue multiple days around 9 am. However it's still been a battle against small cup syndrome.
And it's been great to be off the grid. I've only had internet two of the nights we have been here, so it's allowed ample time for journaling and sifting through the days photos without being interrupted by what's happening with casual acquaintances a world away.
Lastly, every sight we have seen and activity we have participated in has been breathtaking, nothing like we could have even imagined. From the highest waterfall to the most powerfull and all the "average" ones in between, pseudo craters, nighttime rainbows, fall colors on moss and birch trees, rolling hills and high fjords, turf roof houses and the old couple who sang to me for my birthday and gifted me a rose (which of course I have been putting in water every night and taking pictures of all along our journey). Most nights we have had a dorm room in a hostel all to ourselves and have been making friends along the way, most of which we have run into a second time at anther point of interest. The Myvatn nature baths at sunset (like the blue lagoon of the north, but less people), the glow of the constantly erupting volcano at night, and of course the northern lights and shooting stars that have ended each of our evenings. This morning we are heading out on a whale watching trip in an old wooden schooner from the fishing town of Husavik and finally having an unplanned afternoon to rest and relax and make our own.
I've been reminded again and again just how beautiful life is. We made this life. It didn't come easy (this trip has been in the dreaming an the making close to four years), but if you really want your life to look a certain way there is almost always a way to make it happen. There are things that happen which are beyond our control and can throw us off emotional and physically, but we have the power to make life out of lemons. It takes little pulling up by the boot straps, a little creativity and substitution, and a little bit of dreaming.
After seeing those dancing lights for the first magical time I said, "you know, it's like we have insurance on our happiness. So many good things have already happened that we are guaranteed a degree of happiness, but they have the possibility of always getting better."
We just have to keep our eyes open for the opportunities to see them.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's Time Again For A New Chapter

I'm about to start another chapter. This has been a long, exhausting summer of working every single day. Props to those of you who do it for a life time, it's hard. It's hard especially when my second job takes me away from home for up to four days in a row. I've spent the summer tired, grumpy, and with little ambition or drive (or ability) to partake in the activities that make me feel alive.
So with one job wrapping up in a week and a savings account bursting at the seems (compared to what it was), I'm ready to start a new chapter and new goals.
I want this next year to be focused on positivity. Complaining less and loving more. Intentionality. I want to be outside as much as I can. I want to surround myself with people I love and people who love me. I want to try new things. I want to take classes, language, writing, psychology, mountain climbing. I want to learn proper punctuation. I want to do the old things I've always loved, photography, climbing, running, reading, writing... I want to take my mornings slow and sip coffee on my balcony. I want to visit all the national parks in Oregon and Washington.. And while we're at it I might as well head to California, Montana, and Utah.... I want to feel like I'm on the edge of everything. I want to love my life by living my life.
Care to join?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Where To Go From Here

In Alaska I felt alive, so much so I can't stop talking about it. But talking about it helps to make sense of where I am now, because lately things have been feeling less alive and more "angsty". I have been on a great winding road and have crash landed back in Oregon. I am now left with the task of unwinding my trail and figuring out who I am now, what is important to me, and how to get where I aim to go.

In Alaska life was simple. I was at the beginning of my youth and my future was stored somewhere a great distance away. I worked to save and when I wasn't working, I played. My relationships were intimate, vibrant and constant. There was consistent life in my house where the couch was always open for late night beers and conversation or hours of friends making music. It was also easily moved to the side for our Fourth of July or Lady Gaga dance party.

In Alaska my beliefs were daily challenged, nothing ever lay dormant. My life was full. I hiked, I ran, I climbed, I zipped, I boated with whales, I camped and I laughed every hour. Free time was seen as opportunity. A random encounter with a stranger quickly became the meeting of a close friend. Life was community and love encompassed everything we gave and received. At the close of each day I felt an emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by every day life, and sleep camp easy. Sometimes I would be woken all too soon to hike a mountain at midnight in order to catch a 3 a.m. sunrise, other times I wouldn't get to sleep till 3 in order to catch a glimpse of the midnight sun or northern lights. I read and I wrote and I laughed and I listened and the miniscule amount of music I could independently make was enough. Each moment was vibrant.

When I decided to not return to Alaska for another summer, but to "plant roots" and be stationary for a while, life became a challenge. Being a born dreamer I was quick to see the things I would miss out on and my disappointment blinded me from the opportunities at home. Honestly, the transition back into "city life" was hard. Relationships took extra work, the outdoors were hidden behind concrete and scooted farther away. I allowed myself to become bored and accept life as dull.

I became busy with tasks and commuting and working and slowly I closed up into myself, allowing the crowd to swallow me up. During this time I dreamed of the life I wanted. I dreamed of going to Iceland and hiking its mountains, swimming its pools, dancing with its people. I dreamed of friends popping by. I dreamed of spontaneous outings. But I didn't take action because now I was limited by time and money and location and occasionally health.

I have since procured a job in travel, moved to Seattle and back, and am now working two jobs for the summer, in order to save money for my impending trip to Iceland (and to pay off student loans, obviously). I have decorated my new apartment, ditched the bus for biking as often as possible, and am devouring multitudes of books at once. I am working hard at making every day intentional. I plan on writing more words, reading more books, hiking more mountains, listening to more music, laughing with more friends (at least with the lovely ones I already have), and delving further into more beliefs. It is invigorating to see dreams taking shape and to realize what I do have control over. I am working hard to make my life like it was in Alaska. I am working hard at making every day an adventure, because every moment should taste this sweet.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hello, Goodbye

Even in my short amount of days I have said a lot of hellos and a lot of goodbyes. I remember my first goodbye. I was around 3 and it was the neighbor boy. My dad explained that our friend had been playing power rangers with glass. He tripped and fell and the glass entered the side of his head, it went into his sacred temple. He didn't make it. That was my first experience with death.

The next few goodbyes, while still traumatic, were less grotesque. It seemed like every other year, starting when I was six years old, my best friends would move. And ironically or not they all moved to Texas. I grew an early hatred for Texas.
Then, when I was nine, my oldest sister moved out to go to college and my family life was changed. That which had ways been so routine and "stable", was altered.
Ever since it's been a cycle, meet people, move away, meet people, move away. Another sister moves. Hellos and goodbyes.
Eventually I did the moving. The most exciting part of moving was that I came with myself. Suddenly it was adventure instead of being left behind and I had a say in what happened. I felt liberated. I haven't been able to stop since. The freedom is intoxicating. And no matter where I
go there are always more people to meet. It makes the goodbyes less difficult.
But in my life I have been lucky enough to come across a few fellow travelers and adventurers.
Dreamers.
These people are not satisfied with living a "normal" life, or even believe that there is such a thing. They too have been taken a hold of by wonderlust. These are the friends that I never say "goodbye "to, only "until next time". While parting with them is still sad, it's more bittersweet. Their lifestyle is encouraging. Their presence is intoxicating. These are the friends that I know I will run into over and over again, no matter what state or country we inhabit. And I never feel like I truly leave them, because wherever I go a little part of them comes with me. And I know wherever they are, they hold pieces of me too.

The goodbyes and the hellos are what constitute life. It's what happens when you live. But I am lucky enough to know the different between "goodbye" and "see you later". I am lucky enough to get to experience the difference.