Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas comes but once a year...

And I hope you’ve spent it well in the hearts, if not the arms, of those you love. 

  Salt Lake City was under the canopy of a foggy winter haze this morning as I left for Little Cottonwood, but grey skies have limited stature. The atmosphere thinned midway up the canyon; Alta basked in the glory of brilliant white sparkling beneath bright and cloudless blue sky. I reflected today on Christmas 2005, when I’d planned to stay at my first apartment downtown, thinking I was grown up. I admitted a teary eyed defeat that night, and my roommate and I drove my Honda Civic into Boise in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Every year since, I trekked to be with family for this one day, returning as quickly as I left to Alta to teach skiing. This year, I stayed.

   A number of chapters came to a close over the course of 2010, the Civic being among those. A few hundred thousand miles of memories on the odometer, I sold it for a fistful of cash and an iPod last spring, the first in a succession of 2010 vehicle transactions. What happened to the cash, couldn’t say - but I did figure out how to use the iPod last week. Guilty as charged on all counts of electronic media ignorance - except for my continuing love affair with Microsoft Excel, which, with a few other forces in the universe, helped me put together a small but official, licensed, registered cleaning company at the start of the year. A blessing and a curse ever since, but one I am most certainly grateful for.

  I retreated to the woods and rivers of central Idaho for part of the summer, but was pulled out of the reverie by responsibilities (see above) in Salt Lake, dancing back and forth over dashed highway lines between peace and duty. The limbs of Wasatch trees got naked like they do in the fall, but my own shedding and simplifying in preparation for winter didn’t happen – things got heavier, collided, started decomposing on the branch, and I finally had to just shake free of some of it and let go of a few responsibilities and a little pride. Fear not, I have pride to spare, I survived, my business survived. My academic and career plans took some hard adjustment, more of which is sure to come.
Speculating about the possibilities for next year and the grandiose plans and dreams it may host would have been more fun than sharing the imperfect, realistic details of the past year. But if there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past twelve months, it’s that life is subject to change and based largely on externalities, that I don’t rule the world, and the power I have is dictated in the choices I make with what I’ve been given. That’s pretty much all I’ve got, in a nutshell. I’ll take it.

  I drove the midnight miles from Salt Lake to Boise on Christmas Eve of 2005 because all I had at the time was roots; wings hadn’t yet sprouted. A holiday away from the nest seemed a dismal plummet to the barren ground. In the half decade since, the wings have come, flight has been made. I’m grateful to have a home, communities, invested relationships of whole heart and soul with people and places of not merely my choosing, but divine blessing and opportunity.

   From the simple to the harrowing, the known to the unfathomable - I am grateful, immensely and endlessly, for all that this year has been and those I’ve shared it with. I look forward to the advent of 2011, a blank canvas of time awaiting the mark of colorful life, and wish you and yours all the best this season and into the New Year.

With love,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

International Advent

Over the better part of the last decade, I've proudly accepted and embodied the Gypsy life, driving hundreds of thousands of miles across western landscapes, eating from the earth, drinking deeply of its waters, living out of a car, a backpack. Countless mornings, I've woken up on some beach, patch of dirt, overturned raft - and sighed a sigh of contentment. I've chosen to be there for critical family moments, friends' milestones, embracing the familiar and beloved instead of pursuing grand scale adventure on an international canvas.

The idea of going someplace just to blitz through a tick list of tourist stops in a week holds no appeal for me. Cruises, also no appeal. I've seen port cities, they're as contrived as it gets, and the idea of confinement within an overrated floating hotel is revolting. I crave to experience time and place in authentic, tangible, true ways.

I've envisioned a future with a family, where we would make a point of living below our means so that at least biennially, we could approach the world at large with curiosity and open hearts. Take the time to select a destination, acquiring a base understanding of the place and culture, and develop skills that would translate to some specific experience there. As one piece of that family, I'm getting the ball rolling this year.

Here are the top two prospects...

 Guilin, China via San Francisco, Shenzen 
Intention: Experience and climb pillars at YangShou
Preparation: Climbing!

 Iceland via New York City
Intention: Circumnavigate the country via Ring Road, possibly on bicycle.
Prep: Culture/literature/language study.


Monday, December 13, 2010

In Other Words...

‎"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well." - Van Gogh

Sunday, November 7, 2010

First Comes Love

 I wrote about getting comfortable feeling and expressing love in '08, and a year later I wrote about the pressure to find it. Time for a revisit. My ideas of love have grown up.

Love is real. I feel it, immensely, for the wonderful people I'm blessed to know. I understand making loyal, serious, whole hearted investments in the lives of others, because I do. I express love for others in word and deed. I just haven't shared it with one exclusive, romantic partner, yet. Not because I don't want to, but because wanting it doesn't mean it's available.

I am attracted to artistic and intellectual curiosity, to those who have used their time on this planet to drink deeply of all that it offers, allowing it to change and alter them.Within us there are conflicts and contrasts, stories, deep things we don't always want to share or feel we can. Yet all this makes it more difficult; the more a person is developed by time and experience, the more articulate their companionship needs become, and the less likely it seems.

It happens, though. Freaks find love. Freaky love can be the most inspiring kind. My favorite case-in-point: Bjork and Matthew Barney

Thus far, my romantic encounters have been unsustainable and not marriage bound, for reasons I am solid with. I am accountable to my convictions about that. I have things I am striving for, prior to bringing anyone else into the picture - that are eternally important to me, and I'm getting there. The idea of someone else coming into the picture is also becoming increasingly appealing. There are tiny beginnings of space for another person in my world. But there's a catch; I'd rather live and die alone than settle for a fake love* and have to lie to myself about my daily reality. Discerning prospects is half the battle. Actually sticking to the battle, or not seeing it as a battle... that's a part of the equation I don't usually make it to.

This year has hosted many brushes with love - as a concept, an illusion, a bliss, a reality, something actualized, something given up. Saying goodbye when a romantic situation just isn't right is so difficult. Especially when it's too grey to identify exactly why it isn't right, you're both comfortable and relatively happy...yet you just know it isn't foreva-eva. So it's suck it up, be brave, cut the tie, have faith in the future and soldier onward. More painful in the short term, less in the long run.

Gah.... I'm going to go eat more post-breakup consolation ice cream now. I am not kidding.


* Music alert: I highly recommend listening to Fake Plastic Trees, acoustic version, by Radiohead. And check out Bjork's Vespertine album. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Creative Release

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
-from The Gnostic Gospel According to Thomas 

 Since the advent of my twenty fourth year, I've been living in sin with the tall, darkly handsome Pablo. Calm yourself. I know this is big news.

 The deliciously passionate trysts we were meant to share have thus far gone by the wayside, though I yearn for it deeply and ache in awareness of the absence. Priorities that stamp impatient feet and throw vile tantrums when ignored get the best and bulk of my energies. Quiet but equally real needs settle to the bottom of the river Time, forgotten silt left out of its inexorable currents. 

 Pablo waits, still, without complaint. His silence not insolent but filled with fidelity, eternal patience and profound understanding. 

 I remember yet again that denying creative energy its nurture and release is putting the soul in a satisfaction chokehold. Time invested toward deep and personal needs is recouped by lifted spirits - especially when time is its most illusive and menial tasks clamor for undivided attention. By all means work, commute, pay taxes, attend to the tedious - and every now and then, give Duty the bird and paint a picture. Even if it is total garbage.  

  For the record, Pablo is an easel. A beautiful creation of finely stained wood given me by a dear and thoughtful friend. We have an upcoming rendezvous with a blank canvas and all the passionate color my liberated heart can throw at it. 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Glowing Fire

I hesitate to call experiences ‘humbling,’ because it’s always seemed to me that the act of declaring humility defies the essence of it. That said...

The day after my last post I went in to meet with the faculty advisor overseeing my internship to discuss objectives. I expressed my passion for literacy, and the next thing I know, she’d set me up to meet with a group in the area that coaches adults who struggle to read and write at a fifth grade level.

 The building was of simple brick, located in a quiet industrial corridor offset from the main commercial artery that cuts through the Salt Lake valley. A receptionist let me in to a locked door at the top of a stairway which led to a basement illuminated by artificial halogen light refracted back from clean linoleum floors. It had a sterile feel and smelled of warm air from printers and copiers, gone stale and still in the dead space of the hallways and their dark rooms. There was a second where it all made me wonder why I’d come.

I picked up the muffled sounds of human voices, following them until a room opened to view. A room full of people and light and laughter. The only common denominator of any of our physical features was that we were all human, but everything from style to iris color to age was represented across the board. They drew me in quickly, introductions were sincere and immediate and within minutes of entering this foreign place, I found myself a world that immediately became part of me.

There was one man whose image I couldn’t help but seek to capture any time it would escape his notice, something familiar about his movements struck me. Tell tale lines of a lifetime’s expressions carved a decorative surround to his warm, honey brown eyes. His color palette was of burnt copper and earth. These beautiful, stunning elements stuck out to me before I noticed the ragged challenges of a difficult life his image otherwise bore testament to. His writing was some of the most genuine and heartfelt I’ve read or heard and came from the purest place in the human soul. It wasn’t until he spoke to read it, in a gravelly voice of dried tobacco, that I understood my draw to him. He was the living shadow of a friend I have known and loved for years, a resemblance all but buried in the effects of radically different lifestyle. It caught my heart to see familiar fragments of a dear friend reflected back in the eyes of a stranger.

In my pursuit of personal achievement, I forget that every race requires winners and losers. I forget that the values I grew up learning to embrace, the American Dream, are founded in competition. The AmeriCorps Vista with whom I share desk space said it well today -

 "The 'pull yourself up by the boot strap' mentality suggests that through hard work and perseverance one can succeed. I do agree with this statement to a degree; the problem is that it is only half of the equation. Opportunity, or more specifically, the lack of opportunity, is the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss."

In our little microcosms, we don’t see the full scale of the lives of those who surround us. Rather, we exist in a place where it’s easier to judge people according to our starting point and standards we’ve held ourselves to, rather than to make an inquiry into what are uniquely theirs and why. I at least am guilty of that. I have never intended to be a harping, insensitive critic – but those are steps I’ve unfortunately tread in my evaluation of the world around me. There are things I’ve taken for granted about my circumstances and the wealth of resources available to me. Even the resource of love I have come to ponder as a strange and perplexing commodity that we are not blessed equally with, either in our reception of or capacity to give, let alone understand.

It just harrows me to know and to see firsthand that despite so much abundance in some of the world, there are still people who fall through the cracks. Human lives that get overlooked, people we don't realize can't read nutrition labels, release forms or even junk mail. Whoever said ignorance was bliss was not only mistaken, but knew not the painful and limiting confines of illiteracy.

There’s a hymn in the canon, I don’t know its origins and can’t find them now, but it says that because I have been given much, I too must give. And so I am, or hope to. And having something to give as well as the ability to do so, I am realizing, is an incredible blessing in and of itself.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Literal Progress

I have about a hundred other things I could and should be doing looking me in the face from the calendar on my wall, the list on the desk, the missed call registry on my phone screen... shut up. Give me a minute.

We talk of progress - in my country we love it, obsess over it, worship it at times. Progress is a word that by definition  becomes enshrouded in shades of grey and ambiguity. People throw the endorsement at all sorts of undeserving things. An unsustainable leap forward in industry riddled with opportunity costs to environmental, social and cultural entities is still called progress, at least until the shine wears off and the endeavor falls on its face and the critics flock like vultures to the remains. A circle progresses in an endless cycle, but does it really get anywhere? Momentum cannot always be considered progress, not all steps forward are headed in a worthwhile direction.

 I once heard that "if it isn't sustainable, it isn't real." Take that qualifier to progress and it truly shifts the wheat from the chaff. So, I've sought a more solid, consistent word for the principle of true progress and chosen literacy.

 Literacy is an applied, sustainable, real progression - an individual forming a closer relationship with the world around them through words, understanding, enlightenment. It often doesn't come easily - the costs are harrowing, sacrifices poignant, experience real and deeply human.

I believe in literacy. By that I mean I give my life, my energy, my passion and my blood for it. It's the principle behind the metaphors in my life - why I climb, why I seek education, why I love people, why I invest in relationships and experiences and life itself.  And while illiteracy may not be the most inimical barrier to true progress, it's one I'll happily kick in the teeth all the days of my life.

So here I am. Back in class for the semester and blessed with an internship with an organization that supports literacy as clearly as any, learning the skills I need to contribute to its crusade.

Still tired, still overbooked. But I'm where I need to be. In the moments that I realize this is tangible progress, these things I am building and will be able to share - conviction burns like fire clear and bright in me, and I forget the costs. I am content, alive and here.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lessons from the Riv

Four states, three rivers, many nights under the stars and under the elements, go go go... and rest. In my own house. My own bed. Nesting in for the fall semester, which starts Monday. Dug my heels in this weekend - turned down some boating and climbing invitations in favor of simply just existing in one place, not hounding more highway miles in pursuit of another adventure. Though I do love adventure and the summer has been full of it to a blissful degree. All good things come to an end, and great things are ahead.

Headed up to Jackson Hole last weekend to run the Snake for the first time, just for fun with friends. Completely gorgeous place, amazing canyon, beautiful water. Loved the section. And playing on the water with friends is a riot, I can't even explain the liberation of taking it all in for recreation's sake vs. guiding. Totally different. 

Spent a night at home, did some laundy, threw everything back in the car and headed for Moab. I hadn't been there since last fall - in five summers, that's the longest I've been away. The Colorado Plateau melts me to my core - especially under rainstorm when ruddy waterfalls pour off of Wingate cliffs, when brilliant red stands in the foreground of menacing, ominous black clouds, when entire roads wash away under a crimson flash flood. I saw it all and then some. Reconnected with a batch of people I love. Put in my third trip with a private school from Denver, forty something high school juniors, twenty some canoes, a night of heavy rain and chaos aplenty, and my second unintentional swim of my career. Can I just say that watercraft should be, without exception:
  • Closed hulled and watertight, i.e. kayak
  • Self bailing, i.e. a decent raft
  • Incapable of holding water, i.e. constructed of pontoon flotation, like a cataraft  
Canoes are ridiculous. Whoever thought of putting their bathtub in a river and steering it with a silly stick was  a primitive being from whom we should have learned and evolved technology to include the above three bulleted conditions. I've guided half a dozen canoe trips in my guiding career,each was special in its own right; and I have at least six reasons that the next time this group calls, it's kayak or no deal. 

Going through what would be a benign and unremarkable wave train for a raft, squared up, paddling through the waves, and ten of them break right into the bathtub. Of course it fills up. I'm looking down into the chocolate milk of the Colorado, sitting in my seat still, gear bobbing from its ties, the only thing above water. Canoe is completely immersed up to the gunnels. It didn't even flip. I bobbed out and swam it to shore, got elbows deep with a bail bucket and a few hundred pounds of water, five minutes later back in the current. 

My dear friend and co-guide complimented the speed and efficiency of the self-rescue a number of times, and I was like hey thanks, I still swam. It got me thinking though. I'm no canoodler, I'm a friggin' whitewater guide. There are the things that translate - experience, ability to read the current, medical training, knowledge of the environment, authoritative personality. And then there's the actual art and craft of canoe paddling, which I'm novice to. Inexpert. Inefficient. Imperfect. But I sure can haul a drowned bathtub full of junk through a swift current and hammer out a complete recovery in minutes flat. 

And so it is with life sometimes. We get swamped, we swim without meaning to, we lose our seat and our footing and occasionally flotation itself. There are times when a good and honest recovery effort is the best you can bring to the table, when a flawless execution was simply outside of your skill set. There's a lot to be said for the fortitude to not give up and be swept away, the humility to make ammends/apology, courage to get back in the saddle and go for it again. I give people credit for that - and if you look, it can be seen everywhere. Humanity is amazing.

And canoodling still sucks. 


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Anniversary Night

One year, one place. Interrupted by many gypsy excursions hither and yon, but the keyholder of one dwelling in the universe for an entire year, as of today. First time in my adult life.

   An ocean of puffy golden clouds over the Wasatch, crescendo to pink, dissappate, darken. City lights twinkling behind charcoal silhouettes of trees, the last stripe of red flaring over the Great Salt Lake before the sunset is out, snuffed by the shades of enveloping night.  Enter on its waves, its obscuring curtains of black - cricket song, cool gentle breeze and motorcycle hum. Salmon baking, bed of rice waiting inside, garlic pepper goodness adrift in the air. All this from the back deck, lower level, same condo, different year. One. Whole. Year. And I'm still here. 

  I cut my hair today. While driving. On the interstate. Reached for an unsuspecting pair of scissors and lopped my ponytail off. I'd been contemplating a change half seriously, thinking of a birthday rite of passage. Some changes need to happen with no further thought in the moment they're given, though - and so it is and will be. Haggard and choppy until I have time to bask in the opulent radiance of a salon, get it shaped, colored, teased. I won't pretend to mind until then, it wasn't about the aesthetic, but rather the liberation and shedding of a finished history. Time spoke and the blade fell. Hadn't been above the shoulders since middle school.

  Birthday in a month. Edging in on some of the goals I'd set when musing about it a few posts ago. Cutting useless weight from my hair, frame, habits. Honing in. Simplifying. And honestly, some days still just trying not to drown. All is well though, happy to be alive, in my own shoes and on my own road, crossing state lines ceaselessly, the means to the tying of ever-loosening, unruly ends. I am so nauseatingly, exhaustedly sick of traveling. But I'm at the end of the what-I-wouldn't-give rope - and I'm not giving up what's left for the comfort of sitting still. 

  It's progress of sorts to have one place I've come back to for a solid year. Like a homing pigeon. Perhaps in years to come, I'll cease to fly the coop and figure out what it really means to be still. 

  And then again maybe not. This gypsy blood runs strong though wearied, aged and with increased responsibility.  


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Front Porch

Unberievable. Picked up a wireless signal on the front porch of the Gelco. Internet in this town used to be hard to come by, apparently in 2010, its been gettin' around. Mixed feelings - appalled, bummed, shrugging... maybe I'll just toss the laptop into the Little Salmon once I hit post, I can hear it gurgling along on this starry night. My cell phone's still dead to the world 3 miles from New Meadows, ducking out of society will just be one step less convenient with wireless signals creeping over the land.

Alive and well in Idaho. For the weight of preparation and reluctance for departure, transition came quick and seamlessly. Different life here, way different. Loving it. Writing often - for pleasure, for art, letters and cards too. Taking a step back in time and leaving the internet and cell phone out of my actual communication routine. It comes highly recommended. Pushing the reset button on programs, paradigms, priorities...

Been swimming every night, hot springs and river. Rafting most days. Family's been at the cabin. Hiked up the 'trail' to School Marm peak tonight with friends. Wore flip flops, 'cause I wanted to. Didn't bring a camera, 'cause I wanted to selfishly absorb the moment without considering its publicity. Brilliant and stunning, sunset over the bends of the Salmon River, surrounding peaks and snow capped Seven Devils. I will take and post pics at some point, shot a roll of film last week, felt amazing. Ran most of the way down, flip flops and all. Want to do the trail every night I'm in Riggins, good exorcise for the soul, exercise for the cardiovascular unit. And in Riggins, there ain't much else going on besides drinkin and talking trash, the former grows boring from the sidelines and the latter's been done ad nauseum. Local boys on the beach tonight were still talking about their glorified high school football days, a good four plus years ago. Time moves slowly here, it might be time for the old to go out, but the influx of new is sleepy and delayed, so the old stays on replay well past its prime. Speaking of, I'm finding that you can only spend so much time alone with an Ayn Rand novel before you start to go a little nutso. Damn you Atlas Shrugged.

All in all, things are beautiful. So alive and here that it hurts - no place I'd rather be. I'm not going into any more depth, and not interested in making the language or the post any prettier. Happy, healthy, life is simple.

Peace and love,

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mellow Yellow

I generally dislike yellow. Typing it, I've oversimplified the word even - what a curious assembly of letters, a rolling syllabic duo. Lately I've either cured my aversion or put it into retirement.

A yellow scarf, t-shirt, nail polish, dress, and quart of paint now adorning two furniture pieces. Like the Yellow page of a child's learning book, all these similar items assimilated into one unlikely place - with me.

Little yellow tokens of my willingness to embrace New and move forward, perhaps. Maybe like taste buds changing with age, my visual taste is changing the accepted layers of deliciousness; I'm merely experimenting with parameter expansion. The yellow furniture came on a whim, I just pulled a card at Home Depot. It worked with the burgundy and green tones. Done deal. New furniture. Bingo. Fresh, change. It fits perfectly.

Admittedly reluctant to embark on the JH Gypsy Excursion v. Summer 2010. I'm happy here and now - Florida made me deliriously, delightfully appreciative of dry air, wildflowers, topography, melting snowpack and everything that is late springtime Wasatch. Maybe I'm buying yellow faith and courage, attempting to transport these wildflowers and this feeling with me in my travels. I've never in my life drug my feet like this - I guess it's partially due to how deeply I've tread these familiar places over time. And I'm a little tired of the process of vagrancy - sucking in breath for upheaval, building momentum. Getting there.

I'm finishing the remodel just in time to drop everything, hop state lines and relocate myself. That's like taking the gift from under the tree, unveiling it from the wrapping, seeing the photo on the outside of the box but leaving the scene without actually opening it or playing with the contents. God willing, the house will still be here upon my return. I'll absorb the newness of it all fully when the CFS of the Salmon drops and the huckleberries have been plucked into shriveled oblivion.

Still moved by an undying thirst in need of quenching. Just moving slow this time around, my youthful affections grown into deep and abiding love. I've sown wild oats in passionate, girlish whims over the course of the past summers. Sweet, perennial fields wait now... to be danced in. Slow dance, this time.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quarterlife Confessional

Life is strange.

Enough so that I’ve abandoned belief in coincidence. Some things are inconsequential enough to come together without force. Other seemingly simple things strike at moments too opportune for me to negate even the possibility of divine orchestration.

One juicy, delicious blessing I have in my life is that of a Best Friend. Movie and literature portrayals don’t touch this. We've been together in spirit for over a decade now, distance has come, gone and come again, and the friendship grows ever stronger. When I think about it, I really, truly can’t believe the amazing and profound influence this has been on who I am. I’m grateful for our connection every day, every moment I’m alive.

Relationships like that don’t just happen. And they don’t grow without effort to be a true friend to the other person, and to be a person true enough that one would want to call friend.

I read back through my blog the other day, musing on the musings. There’s been a giant snowball barreling down the hill of my life the past few years. It looks like self sacrifice, it’s fueled by insanity, it manifests in my ability to overbook and over commit, and it grips like an iron stranglehold. My vices are my vise. I like being busy, I am fond of challenge, I’m relatively capable. So I take on new things, I try to do it all, I make sacrifices.

It’s not working any more.

I’ve distributed my energy too far and wide to have any left over for myself. I stopped reading. I took on more jobs. I gave up much without realization, but my efforts were too diluted to count for lasting satisfaction.

I just got a B+ in a class I could have spent five minutes more to get an A, for example. The non-profit I edit for is still waiting for me to hit a week, maybe two, old deadline. I got a ¼ of my flooring in before realizing I’d dead ended the flow and had to turn back, pull it up, and start over with the end more clearly in mind. I’m just not being effective or striking the mark with accuracy the first time around.

Who knows what else I’ve lost in my frenzy.

All I know now is that while this madness I’ve created could be sustainable, it doesn’t have to be. I’d like to regain something of true, authentic and raw happiness. I wasn’t born to be a robot.

It’s three months minus spare change til my next birthday. A lot can happen in three months. I can’t effectively and permanently change my habits overnight, but I bet there’s a lot I can do in the range of three months to hone in what gives my existence real meaning.

Also noted in my blog scan – I’ve failed to record some crucial, intrinsic quarterlife goodies, such as the developments surrounding the ‘what I’m doing with my life’ dilemma. Total quarterlife material right there, and I’ve never even bothered to mark the progress or muse on the journey. So here it is.

I’m declared as an English major, news which didn’t stun the ears of former teachers, but took some growth and increased perception for me to accept. I didn’t want to be an English major. I didn’t want to be a teacher when I grew up. I wanted to be an icy, powerful business woman, and here I am in the middle of the humanities field – right where I discovered, albeit with reluctance, that I need to be.

I need school. Like oxygen, like water, like vitamin D. Need it. Because it is the hallowed ground I walk to prove a challenge to myself, a birthplace of invaluable relationships and experiences, the refinery where my raw materials are gathered for development and consecration. There are other places where this occurs, but school is still irreplaceable. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me.

All things hideous and beautiful considered, I’ll be around Academia for a while, likely a good long while, as my vision has expanded and I aim now for not only literacy but expertise. Bridges will be crossed when arrived at, I can only speculate what they’ll look like, but I aim to reach the end of the line in the career path I choose, to attain the ultimate degree available in my field.

I feel shy saying that. I don’t know why. I’m pioneering my way through college, no one in my heritage has been there. It makes me feel like a gawky strangeling in a new land.

Anyway, it’s late and in summary, I have recognized that if I am to give the things that matter the energy that will make them happen well, I have to prune back my outreach and implement improved time management policies. I’ve identifed and said as much for a while, but it’s time to go and do it. And do it better, and not strike out.

I am grateful for friendship that keeps me in check and lets me know when my feet are on solid earth, gently pulling back to the soil as needed.

With love,

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Killing Me.

Slowly, softly.
Just like that.

Bereft of balance and bathing in chaos, I drone on at a deadly pace, robotic accomplishments, forced effort. I make it, but it's little more than survival. Self criticism creeps in - why isn't this done? Where is your perfection? What is the holdup? Even, where is your flair and charisma?

Then I recall the fury of the past few months; triumphs, exercises, tests, breaking news, milestones, projects, unforecasted storms enveloping entire provinces of my being and realigning everything from it's comfortable place. And I think, it's okay, I can be gentle with myself now, I know. I'm worn, yet not beaten down.

Dali said: "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." I would have come at that with fists flying a year ago. Now I nod and feel relief wash over my being - relax a little. Survival isn't always enough... but at times, it's a remarkable achievement.

That said, maybe this is humility. Maybe this is being real. None of it is bad, it's all just coming in at warp speed and peeling layers of static away until things are completely raw and new.

I have experienced a new sensation - a pang of wanting something to step in and save me, to intervene on my behalf. Some people look to Jesus for that. All I've got is an exhausted face in filmy mirror... but I'm open to alternatives. Maybe more open, real and alive now than ever.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe I'm just swamped. Change and subjectivity could be life's only constants.

With love, still...

P.S. Because that was way too serious and borderline depressing...


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring and the Musts

Surfacing from hectic, crazed few months of winter. Vague illustration: many 13 hour days on end. Running a business, teaching hundreds of ski lessons, freelance writing projects in addition. Entertaining a 15credit load of college classes, maintaining relationships, grasping for sanity, sharing space with another human being plus visitors and houseguests, life....

Cheers to spring. New buds on the trees, sunshine and blue skies. The turn of new pages and onset of much improved schedule.

I've been climbing every single day this week, at the gym and outside now. The approaches have been a little muddy, and some snow patches to be tromped through, but so worth it and so gorgeous out.

Two days on trails/road with my mountainbiking class, love it, getting worked by it, can't wait to love it some more and get worked by it less. My biking instructor (who is a radical triathlete and power-woman extraordinaire...) commented that there are Three Musts if you live in Utah:

Rock Climbing

Amen to that. And I'm 3 for 3 this week.
Love the Wasatch!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Post Equinox

This may come off as intolerant. It is.

I really can't stand complaints about problems people are capable of solving, yet unwilling to solve or admit fault with.

 I detest the description of circumstances as 'lucky' when the person within them has struck a match of opportunity against the friction of preparation and sacrifice.

I laud expression, ALL expression, in its right time and place. But there's a difference between expressing fears and strife vs. aimless whining. The former tends to go down better with a chaser of effort, ambition, and fortitude.

I tire of seeing the brilliance, strength and ability in people who are unwilling to embrace and work with it. By tire I mean it exhausts my soul; it'd probably break my heart if I let it.

This is part intolerant ranting, part self coaching. They say that people point out the faults in others that they most recognize in themselves, even subconciously. We're hyperaware of what we are striving to control - internally and externally.

To people who are young, childless, healthy and living in the United States*: If you dislike your circumstances, change them. No, seriously, stop making excuses. Change your circumstances. Oh, they're complex? Well so is the mind, and it's capable of finding a way, and you live in a time and place with virtually limitless means.Change exacts a price, and no one said it was going to be simple or comfortable. In fact, I don't recall comfort and ease as prerequisite conditions for life itself. But don't call an unwillingness to pay the price impossibility.

My peers* have at times lamented the difficulty of their lives to me, expressing their powerlessness, their unmet needs and desires, longings. I can be gentle when it's called for, but when hopeless rhetoric continues to spill forth with no light at the end of the tunnel, I lose all desire to be accomodating. My interpretation of the golden rule as it applies here: If and when I have abilities I've sold out for a defeatist attitude and dismay, I would hope to be encouraged to lift myself to the strong and competent being I am. I don't want to be babied, coddled, saved, validated in weakness or even distracted. I want to work hard to solve my problems, I want to be believed in. Maybe everyone isn't on the same page with that, but that's what I'll give and would like to receive. Sure, the quarterlife phase is hard - but it's a lot harder when you hold on to counterproductive attitudes.

The time has come to cash in on some of my abilities and pursue some goals, hard, relentlessly. Some pending changes...

I don't want to write more; I need to write. Not blog, not email, not jot, not doodle, not casual journaling. Good, hard writing in private sessions consecrated and dedicated for that specific need for expression.

I don't want to work out more; I need to be physically raw, to run breathlessly, heave like an animal and feel innate power surge through my veins. Run, climb, ride hard.

I don't just want to hang out to pass the time; I need reciprocated connections that nourish, are poignant and real.

I'm off the fence, done holding my breath, wasting my time, and swimming in fluff.

Spring is so invigorating....

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I've said it before and I'll say it again. That Benjamin Franklin had it all wrong. It's huckleberries that serve as proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Perhaps I speak for myself - but it rings very, very true in this moment.

This past month has effectively rivaled any and every other in terms of busyness for me. Wow. I'm still not caught up. I'm still actually quite overwhelmed. But I'm coping. Credit due to the simple pleasures - a bowl full of berries, a nice talk with a loving friend, taking one extra run as fast as I can between lessons.

Life is good. Life is abundant. I'm swimming in it. And I love it.

A few newsworthy haps...
I bought a car, and it runs like a champ - mega improvement. Civic bit the dust. I sold it for $450 cash and an Ipod.

Ski season is wrapping up, bittersweet sunset on another beautiful year in the Wasatch, have met and kept some wonderful relationships, skied often and been well.

I am now a licensed and registered business owner. This has been a huge endeavor, and will continue as such while I set up office-y stuff; quarterly reports, payroll, tax withholding, etc. I confess... I love it.

If I can work my business just right, I'll still be able to spend half my summer on the river, the dirty one AND the clear one. That makes my heart sing just thinking about it! And you know what happens in August, right?

... Huckleberry harvest.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Say When

Fifteen days of blur. As a veteran, I know when the tides of tourism come and go in the ski industry, but they rock the boat nonetheless. Presidents' week 2010: over and done. Hallelujah!

A few kinks that got thrown into the mix this year:

Took my dear PHG, age 7, skiing the day after Pres'. Car blew up on the highway. Initial bid for repair: $800. Finding a way up the mountain, having an awesome day in spite of it all, and keeping the kid in smiles - priceless. It was a really gorgeous day - soft, sparkling snow and sunshine!

In the wake of the disabled vehicle, a lost wallet that led to a missed then delayed flight, which led to a belated birthday celebration (happy 8th, TJ!) and some treasured moments with beloved faces before a quick turnaround trip back to SLC. Short as it was, I'm grateful for the respite of soul.

Change sure is life's only constant, there are no guarantees. I admit, I do enjoy a good challenge. Something about the dynamism and charisma that crisis summons is such an endorphin high. At least when things turn out... ;)

I have been musing about tragedy, since the world is seemingly host to an abundance lately (see also: Haiti, Chile).

I wish suffering on no one and my heart goes out to those struggling in the aftermath of loss and devastation. I am inspired by the way people can bind together for positive outcomes and come 'back down to earth' in the face of devastation. Humility and team work are so much more beautifully infused in a society than pretentious, classist arrogance and enmity. Disaster can amplify the latter, too - though when faced with serious struggles for survival alone, people seem more willing to cut the crap.

Part of my ongoing Quarterlife education has been learning when to 'say when' and having the courage/tenacity to do so.  I'm coming to terms with my inability to be everything to everyone. That was once a goal, before I understood at a grown-up level the meaning of resources. Time, energy, emotion, the like... precious beyond belief! I have my causes to which I am absolutely and unwaveringly devout - but only a few; they know who they are.

The tiers of priority are stacked, with more opportunities clamoring for a place. I've only got so much. The foundation is care for self - there's nothing to give if your resources are bankrupt. Then family. And so it goes... and at some point, we all have to cut the crap, and invest where it counts - be real, be really there for those that need us.