1. The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
– New Oxford American Dictionary (2016)

I must admit, I felt silly having the sudden urge to look up the meaning of this relatively simple word today. I stood in my living room after having built a fire, finally starting to feel its warmth bring the place back to life. My animals are happy, and we are molding into our little unit again. The completion of my overseas visit with my family became official as I arrived at the cabin.

I’m home.

I was quite anxious to return here—both excited to feel grounded again, but unsure of whether or not I’d feel lonely or lost here. I had just spent nearly a month with my family in Europe. I was nervous about returning to a cabin in the mountains, to a community with few inhabitants.

Well, as it turns out, I didn’t realize just how badly I needed to come back here until I arrived! The cumulative understanding of my trip’s experience wasn’t possible until now. It was during this moment in my living room, when I realized just how important having a home is.

This is what happens to me after any kind of adventure comes to an end—I don’t fully have a grasp on what I’ve just been through until I return “home.” It’s as if I need to plug myself back into some sort of charging station, in order to download the aftereffect of whatever I just experienced. It’s the gift that awaits my return on my doorstep at the end of any adventure—no matter how short or long.

But I started to wonder, what does home mean, anyway? As I remembered feeling many different instances of home over the past month, it dawned on me: Do I know what home is, or where it’s at? Do I even have one, and is it a good enough home for me?

Hence why I turned to the dictionary! Which, as it turns out, wasn’t much help either.

Herein lies the problem: Mr. Dictionary says that home has to be permanent.

What a word. Permanence. It made me uncomfortable just to read, and even more uneasy in my understanding of what home is. To me, the word “permanence” doesn’t apply to much of anything at all. None of my homes have been permanent, nor do I believe that they are or ever will be. Is anything really permanent? Why does this word exist?

For those of you reading this blog that don’t know me very well: I’d like to give you a quick download of my personal history. I’ll do my best to keep it short, and also say that my childhood had a deviated quality to it that is similar to (and perhaps partially to blame for) my adult thirst for wanderlust.

I was born and spent the first 6 years of my life in former Czechoslovakia. During my life there, the country was dominated by the Soviet Union. To keep this relatively short and free of bias (and to avoid a drawn-out solitary political debate), I’ll say that particular laws were in place to maintain communist ruling. This, of course, made independent choices challenging or impossible for its citizens. My parents wanted more flexibility in their liberties, and the opportunity for me to make different choices in my own life. Leaving the country at the time was not legally possible. So we fled, thus becoming refugees.

This escape of sorts was not easy on my family, as you might imagine. They were not allowed to know of my parents’ intention of departure, in order to minimize the possibility of getting caught. If word got out (and into the wrong ears), my parents would’ve gone to prison, or perhaps would’ve suffered even worse consequences for their actions.

We spent the better part of a year in temporary refugee housing in both Yugoslavia and Austria. Once we finally received our green cards (a green light, really), we made our way to the glorious United States of America. Land of the free. This place everyone we knew dreamed of, where freedom was golden and plenty.

I grew up with a very small proximal family: My mom and my dad. After Czechoslovakia came to its dissolution in 1993, members of my family (grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc), visited us from time to time. However, we didn’t make the journey back to our place of origin until I was 21 years old.

Throughout the course of my childhood, we moved around the east coast, eventually making our way to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. This is where I have spent the majority of my adult life and a good part of my childhood. Perhaps this is why it usually feels good to land here, again and again.

I love my family very much. If you know me at all, you know how important they are to me. This is partly because of the culture that I was raised in, but also due to the fact that I was not fortunate to spend a whole lot of time with them growing up. In fact, I still don’t. Any opportunity to see them still makes me giddy as an adult.

I try to visit my family once a year now, and I look forward to it every time I go. By now, I typically know what things I expect to feel while I’m there. It’s all comforting and very necessary, but it never quite feels complete. I don’t feel complete. I wrestle with the desire to hold onto the parts of my home there, that I know I can’t bring to my home here in the Northwest.

The “place” that is Slovakia, the location itself did not feel much like home during my visit. It felt unfamiliar, this is not where I grew up and it’s not where I want to be now. The people, however, felt very much like home. Not just my family, but Slovaks (or simply just central Europeans) were so much more relatable. I understood them quickly, and they understood me. There was a certain ease to them. It’s an ease that I sometimes feel when I meet Americans, but not often.

In contrast, the majority of the people in my life that I love and connect with are American. And they’re all here in the Northwest. At home.

Staying with my family also felt like home, even though their places weren’t mine. Being with them and surrounded by Slovak cultural “things” felt very comforting and easy to me. It’s so interesting to me how this works, because I have spent the majority of my life here and have gotten used to American culture. However, my earliest foundation is after all, still Slovak.

These feelings of belonging in different places were disruptive and confusing at times. They clashed with my overwhelming eagerness to return to my home in Scenic, where I’ve allowed other roots to grow. I wanted my life back. Anytime I visit my family, I have some amount of these feelings. But they were much more powerful this time. I have decided that it is because I have finally built a life for myself (on another continent) that feels content (however changing or temporary this current version of my home may be).

I’m realizing now, that due to my own breaking-up of what the dictionary says is home, my personalized concept of it has given me the ability to exist in different places. I’m grateful for this, regardless of how complicated it might feel at times.

Ahh, home. There can be so many.

But this one physical house that I live in, this roof over my head and this shelter and this community. This is where I have landed and where I rest. It’s not permanent. But it’s home.

This place is necessary. Whatever form you choose it in, and for however long it needs to be a home is entirely up to you. I think it’s different for all of us. It can be a structure, a community, a tent in the wilderness, a car, or…any place on this planet where your heart feels safe and complete at the end of the day, really. This place should not be defined by a dictionary or another individual’s own idea of home. Most importantly, it certainly doesn’t have to be permanent, the length of your stay may vary.

The Scenic Route


Here we are, our last precious day of summer has come and gone. I gotta say, I felt the very distinct energy of Autumn roll in two Saturdays ago. The colors seemed to change instantly, and the air felt and smelled so much different. Her arrival brought in thick, beautiful and fast moving clouds into Scenic. Watching them frolic through the trees and mountains just outside my window is unreal. Seasonal change is more abrupt and intense in the mountains. It’s quite beautiful here and I feel very lucky to be a part of it. I’m trying to cherish every moment, because I know that this, like everything else, won’t last forever. There is no place else I’d rather be, and life is good.

There is a fresh coating of snow covering a portion of the earth just a few miles east of me, while wildfires still burn. There are hurricanes and tornadoes. If this summer hasn’t been a clear opportunity for us human-folk to hear Mother Nature tell us a giant “Fuck you,” then I don’t know what more it’ll take. I think we ought to give her a listen, no?

This summer has been one hell of a giant ride. I bet you could feel it, too. Somehow (somehow), I was able to cram a whole new life into it. It dawned on me, that I have probably created some of the most memorable experiences of my life in this year alone. I feel so raw to all of these new things, and I don’t feel like the same person anymore. To try and sum it up into words is impossible. The best I can do is to share a few of my experiences thus far, and how their lessons have changed the way that I live.

I moved up here less than a week after coming back from my long Montana and Wyoming trip. It took me a while to get somewhat comfortable with being here. It’s funny how we anticipate and dream of things to happen a certain way, but really, they hardly ever turn out the way we expect.

I’m sitting here writing this next to a fire in my living room, and I finally feel like I’ve settled into a rhythm. I was laying on my couch a few days ago, looking up through the window at the massive trees outside, it was at that moment where I felt the distinct realization of truly being at home for the first time here.

However, when I first got here, I was flustered, scared and pretty lonely. My dog kept looking at me weird, and the cabin was a mess. I certainly had more than a handful of “what the hell have I gotten myself into” moments. I felt like I was in a giant land-locked boat, and I was worried that I’d do something really dumb to either set the place on fire or blow it up. I couldn’t figure out how to charge my devices and keep myself connected to the rest of the world. I took cold showers for the first couple of days, because I was afraid to fire up my water heater. I eventually mustered up the courage (the courage to turn on a water heater?!) I went under the house (and made my dog keep me company, of course). I pulled my hoodie over my head and kneeled as far away as I could from the tank, while still being able to reach my fingers to the pilot. After a few minutes, I got it to fire, turned the knob to the “on” position, and off we went. It’s that easy?! It’s that easy! Taking a warm shower felt pretty damn good afterwards.

And the lessons just kept coming.


If there is one big thing that being here has taught me, it’s how to live without complacency. I have to be more deliberate here. I can’t live my life the way that I did before. Living more freely comes with a price, but one that I’m quite willing to pay because it allows me to live in nature and to experience my life much more vividly.

We always seem to tell each other how quickly time goes by, and I believe it’s often because we become (at least somewhat) complacent. We become comfortable for too long, and experience too much of the same thing over and over again without much challenge or growth. Happenings seem to blend together to create the kind of time that accumulates and rushes us through our experience here.

I didn’t realize just how addicted I was to my cell phone until I got here. There is one spot in this house that my phone gets reception, and its a very tiny pocket right in my living room window. I’m very lucky to even have reception, because most people in my community don’t have that privilege. My phone sits in this window at all times, and I have to choose to use it. No more falling asleep with my phone in my hands, or wasting time mindlessly sifting through social media posts. Just this one thing has opened me up to the countless moving parts all around me.

I’ve also become much more aware of my experience with food. Cooking and eating it is such a primal activity, and I didn’t even realize how much I was depriving myself of that experience until I got here. I no longer have the option of frequent PCC luxury trips to save time and spend money on tasty, prepared meals. The nearest grocery store is about a half hour drive away, and it’s certainly no PCC. I have to be good about planning my grocery shopping, which typically happens when I’m in the city for a couple days each week. The result? I don’t spend nearly as much money on food anymore. I eat healthy. And, I have to cook again. The ritual of this is so very important. It’s such a simple but important task to cook our own meals. We have become so over-civilized and fast-moving that we often times forget about the most simple habits that make us human. I hiked 12 miles yesterday, was starving when I came home, and had to spend TIME preparing my meal, instead of buying and inhaling it.

I have to conserve energy, so I try to use my generator as little as possible. This means I have to choose when to have the lights on and for how long. It’s gotten quite a bit colder up here over the past week. I’m grateful that the smoke from the wildfires has cleared, it means I can build a fire instead of use propane to heat the house. The wood stove is so much more efficient, and let’s face it, feels much better anyway. I love waking up in the morning, starting a fire, playing outside with my dog, then coming back inside to warm up and drink my coffee.

“Impatience is Bad”

I’m quoting my neighbor Eric, here, whose response this was to me after I explained to him how I fell off my back deck. “Geez, be careful! ” he said, “There’s no one out there to pick your ass up.” I think what he said nicely sums up what I learned from an accident that could’ve ended up a lot worse.

There are always quirks and things to learn about living in a new place, and the cabin is by no means an exception to this rule. I was cleaning up my deck a few weeks ago. My heart sank to pit of my belly when the door shut and I realized I had accidentally locked myself out. I remember the instant panic that set in as I tried to twist the doorknob with no success. My cell phone was inside, along with my animals and a couple of burning candles.

My panic jumped instantly to finding a quick solution to my problem. I remembered that there was a spare set of keys in the woodshed, so of course, I had to retrieve them. My hands were shaking and I was moving quickly. I scurried to the south side of the deck, where it was closest to the ground. I climbed over the railing and proceeded to lower myself down to the ground. I got my feet to about 4 feet above the ground getting ready to jump down, as a rotten piece of wood came apart under the grip of my right hand. It was a piece of wood that kept the door to the bottom of the house shut, and as it crumbled under my hand, the door swung open, throwing me to the ground and violently slashing my inner forearm over old, rotten wood. The cabin kicked my ass.

I sat there on the ground for a moment, realizing that the impact of the actual fall didn’t hurt me. The injury on my arm didn’t hurt very bad at that moment either, but then I looked down and realized what I had done. 5 very deep, bloody gashes from where the wood had penetrated my flesh and traced future scars. I was seeing fatty tissue on my own body for the first time like that. I realized that the reason it didn’t hurt too bad was because I was in shock. I quickly stood up and composed myself, knowing that I had to get back in the house. I knew that I needed medical attention, but I couldn’t get myself anywhere without my car keys, which were inside the house. I ran into the woodshed and grabbed the keys, came back to the house, went through the giant swung-open door and pulled out a large, heavy ladder. Funny how adrenaline works. I couldn’t get into the front door, because I had awesomely locked the inner sliding lock while I was still inside the house. I had to get back on the deck and let myself in the same route that I had locked myself out. So, I took my time as I positioned the ladder to a stable place against the deck. I knew I didn’t need to fall a second time.

Once I climbed back up, I tried all the keys on the ring to let myself in. Finally, one of them worked, and I was back in the house. The relief I felt was like an insane amount of weight instantly falling off of my body.

I turned off the generator, blew out the candles, rushed into the bathroom and proceeded to clean my arm with soap and water. I squeezed about half a tube of Neosporin on it, and wrapped my arm in gauze to contain the bleeding. I paced around the house for a few minutes while my eyes filled with tears.

My friend Jenn was on her way up from Portland to spend the weekend with me, so I sent her a text message telling her sloppily what had happened along with a picture of my arm. I was starting to replay the scenario in my head, instantly beating myself up and trying to come up with other ways I could’ve handled the situation. Had I stopped and taken a few breaths instead of allowing my impatience to lead my decision making, it all might have played out differently. I was so angry at myself for thinking and acting so quickly, and I desperately wanted someone to tell me that I wasn’t stupid.

Well, mistakes and accidents are always going to happen. I’m not stupid, but I certainly have a giant scar on my arm to remind myself to take a few minutes and some big breaths before making important decisions. I can now think of several other ways that I could’ve executed my actions in a safer, calmer way. These things happen to us so that we can learn from them. Part of me thinks I needed that fall to happen, so that I’m intimately aware of the fact I am self sufficient out here.

I drove myself to the urgent care clinic in Monroe. I cried in my car as I realized that I really am out here alone. Most of the people who own cabins here do not live here, and those who do, live here in the winter. I learned that I need to carry my cell phone on me at all times when I walk outside the house, in case I get myself into an emergency and do indeed need someone to pick my ass up. And, get some more spare keys made. And, allow myself to take 5 and think before I act.


I really hope that I can explain this one well, because there is a lot to it. So far, it has been my favorite thing about living here. I am alone here, but somehow at the same time, I’m not.

Being quite a few miles away from the nearest store and not having a neighbor next to me at all times felt jarring and lonely at first. I felt pretty isolated, and was anticipating going back to Seattle.

I will never forget my first trip to Safeway in Monroe, 4 days after moving here. Before living here, I used to HATE going to the grocery store. I would dread having to go there and battle crowds on my way home from work, after sitting in traffic for at least an hour. I’d get in the store, quickly get what I needed to eat, and rush home.

My, how those roles have reversed! That first trip to Safeway was quite different. I spoke to people and made eye contact with them. I noticed that when I created genuine conversation, it made me feel good, and I could tell that the people I was interacting with felt good talking to me, too. When you don’t have people surrounding you all the time, you learn how to appreciate them quite a bit more.

I find that this is now always the case when I spend a couple of days in the city, visiting my friends, taking care of my errands and teaching my classes. My experience with the people I interact with during those activities have much different qualities. I enjoy teaching and talking with my students even more than I did before. I realized that my teaching qualities make their days better, too. I feel more spoiled being able to see my friends now. And this whole experience has helped me to see the people who value having me in their lives more clearly. It’s humbling and quite moving for me to feel it.

Isn’t it funny how the exchange of energy works? I really feel like I pulled a full 180 here.

My community here is SO much different than it was in Edmonds. I live around MUCH less people. However, I am so much closer to the people that I do have in my community here. I am floored by how much the people in Scenic care about me and want me to do well here. I was so worried that I would feel judged as being single, female or naive.

Damn, was I wrong. It took me a little while to reach out to people around me and ask questions. But the moment that I opened up to them, their generosity and willingness to connect came back to me ten-fold. Everyone is curious about me, and so respectful and kind. We have many commonalities. I now feel very safe up here, actually quite a bit safer and wanted than I felt in the city. Life feels so much more meaningful here. I am happy.

I started doing some volunteer work at The Mountaineers lodge just a few miles away at Stevens Pass. They opened their big, beautiful old cabin to PCT thru hikers this summer. I instantly made community there. I can’t say enough about the joy of giving back to communities that are close to your heart, it is so incredibly nourishing for the soul. I made friends with folks who are like-minded and very kind, and got to meet some amazing people off the trail that to my surprise have turned into friendships as well. I’m so excited to be a part of that community as time goes on.

I’ve also started to embrace the fact that I’m awkward. I’ve met so many other awkward people up here. We’re all a little awkward, and it’s kinda the best sometimes.

The grand sum of my experiences here thus far all boil down to one thing that I want you to know and trust: If there is something, ANYTHING you dream of but are afraid to entertain it, please, please please please, take the leap. I promise that you will land, and your courage won’t lead you astray. Life is short, and your heart is calling you to do certain things for good reasons. By nourishing your dreams, you’re gracefully paving the way to attract exactly what you need. This is natural law, there’s no way around it. It may not pan out exactly how you imagine it to, but that’s ok. The universe really does have your back, you know. All you have to do is take the leap, and the rest will come.





I just spent 2 1/2 weeks in a sort of heaven, and I don’t know where to start to write about it. There is just too much to say.

This post will probably be all over the place—but that’s okay. One of the things I learned during my trip is how obsessed I can get with order in my process of things. So, I guess this will be a good exercise in trying not to give too big of a shit about it.

But really, where do I start?!


My adventure of sorts began on July 25th. I hit the road to Montana early Tuesday morning, about to embark on a solo trip to Glacier NP for one week. The drive was long—but like most road trips, it felt like I had just shed anything of weight and opened myself up to enchantment. There was a silent ripple of content mixed with excitement inside. I had no idea what was ahead, but damn, was I giddy.

About 10 hours and 600 miles later, I arrived. Going-to-the-sun-road. Have you driven it? If not, please…GO.

I had to pick my jaw up off the floor of my car, and there were tears coming out of my eyes. I have goosebumps as I’m remembering what it felt like to see this place for the first time. The words “holy shit, how is is this real?” kept coming out of my mouth, even though no one was there in my car to answer my question. As I turned a corner driving through the national park, east Glacier had revealed itself. It was like God himself had orchestrated this experience for me, the sun was setting and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I pulled the car over to compose myself several times. I was fumbling around with my phone and my camera to try and capture it, because I was desperate to find a way to share this extraordinary beauty. But there just wasn’t a way to capture it accurately. Eventually, I gave up trying to possess the moment by storing it in some sort of digital data, and relaxed into knowing that it was there for me to experience for myself. It finally grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me, like, “Look, just look at this, you’re missing it.”

The colors were something out of this world. I couldn’t touch them, it was like they were there to show me the certainty and grandeur of nature, and it is so much bigger than anything else imaginable. The colors, shadows and peaks worked together in such a melodic way. It was grace and mass percolating into one. I guess it isn’t called the Crown of the Continent for nothing. I have never understood who or what God is, but this was the simplest form of it/him/her that I had ever witnessed.

The awe came to a brief halt, when I couldn’t find a place to sleep. All the campgrounds in and outside of the park were full. I knew they filled up fast, but I assumed I’d be able to find SOMETHING, even if I had to drive a ways outside of Glacier.

Nope. Nothing. Nada. Not even a hotel room anywhere.

The woman at the front desk of the lodge could tell that I was high off of exhaustion, and she was very kind to call some other motels in neighboring towns for me. There was one room vacant in Browning, about 30 miles outside of Glacier. It was $250 for a bed to sleep in. My shoulders dropped as I exhaled in response to what she said, but I needed a place to sleep, and my brain was too tired to think or to come up with other ideas. So I drove to Browning.

The sunset’s color show continued to amaze me, but the overall drive to Browning was less than fun. It was almost dark, and there weren’t any other cars on the fast, twisty road. An old, green suburban pulled up behind me. Like, RIGHT behind me. As this person tailgated me, I noticed all of his windows were blown out. Front windshield included. He eventually swerved around me and sped away. I couldn’t help but notice the license plate was black, no digits or anything to identify the car. I shrugged it off, he was gone.

Buuuuttttt….he came back. He was behind me again. He must’ve pulled over someplace, and gotten back on the road behind me. He did the same thing. Like clockwork, he must’ve been a foot or two behind my bumper. He rode it for a couple of minutes before passing me and disappearing down the road again. I felt my muscles tense up and suddenly felt more awake. He fucking came back. Again. A third time. There he was, right behind me. By now, I was sufficiently terrified. I was exhausted, but so wide-eyed, and suddenly wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. Coming out here by myself, naively excited about adventure. I reached for my phone to have it in my lap, in case I needed to call for help. Only thing was, I had no reception. Was this a horror movie? My heart raced, and my breath quickened to keep up with my pulse. He disappeared a third time, and finally…FINALLY…he was gone. I had another 15 minutes or so before I got to Browning, and my eyes were constantly jerking around, making sure there was no one, as I maintained my death grip on 10 and 2.

The little town of Browning welcomed me with many stray dogs viciously barking and attempting to attack my car. I found my motel, parked, grabbed a bag and ran inside. I got to my room around 11pm and crawled under the covers, still in my clothes. My body was buzzing. I hoped that the last hour wasn’t a precursor to the rest of my trip. I tried to sleep, but the man on the other side of the wall kept me awake. I could hear him arguing with his girlfriend, and her voice yelling back at him over the phone. I’d hear sirens outside every 10 minutes.

I managed to get some z’s, and awoke at about 5:30 the next morning. I needed to be at St. Mary campground before 7:00am to snag a camp spot for that night. It gave me enough time to shower and drive back to Glacier. I had only gotten about 4 hours of sleep, but I really wanted to see my first sunrise there. It was overwhelmingly beautiful, as I imagined it would be. I read someplace that St. Mary lake was one of the best places to watch the sunrise in the United States. It was true. I made sure to wake up early every day to witness the sun bring earth to life, and watch it put us all to rest again each night. I’m not sure what it was that made the sun’s entrance and exit so startling and emotional in Glacier, I have never seen anything quite like it. Not even in the wee hours of my Rainier climb, not in the Tetons, or the Cascades. Nowhere else had I seen it so striking before.

I spent the following 5 days hiking almost 50 miles through Glacier National Park. It all seemed too good to be true, I felt incredibly lucky to be able to experience it all. With only minor hiccups, really. Like having to sleep in my car on the side of a highway one night, when I didn’t have a backcountry permit and all campgrounds were full again due to my poor planning. I slept with one ear plug in (enough to keep the road noise to a minimum, but still be able to hear anything shady outside my car). Or just barely missing a run-in with a grizzly bear on one of the trails I hiked (I carried my bear spray under my arm, while clapping my hands and making up bear songs for many miles in an effort to avoid surprising one). I got dirty, sore and tired every day, bathed in turquoise lakes, and slept soundly outside. I was invited and embraced by nature’s intrinsic rhythm, and it felt better than anything. It was so good to feel fully alive.

Even though I was solo adventuring in Glacier, I NEVER felt lonely. I could disappear deeper into the mountains if I wanted to be alone, and I could equally find people when I wanted their company. The folks I ran into there were so friendly and eager to know about me and what I was doing there. They came from all over the world to have experiences similar to mine. I must have seen a license plate from every state at the trailheads, and I can’t think of a language that I didn’t hear spoken. One of my favorite things was soaking up the sun on any of Glacier’s lake shores, talking to people, listening to them and watching them. I loved seeing families bring their children there, because…how wonderful and special is it for kids to see this stuff and for people to experience it as a family? I relished at being able to bathe in St. Mary lake. I always felt so clean afterwards, and I loved the way it made my hair feel. How funny it was for me to think of being in a shower at home, pouring soap and shampoo on myself. I didn’t need it. The water was absolutely frigid. Seeing people work up the nerve to dunk themselves in was so entertaining. Very few dared to immerse themselves all at once. Whatever their method was, it took everyone’s breath away to get in. Giggling, screaming or loudly gasping for air.

That week was incredible, and I had a very hard time pulling away. I promised myself that I would come back to this place, I have to. But it was time to get back on the road and meet Cassandra in Yellowstone. The Tetons were waiting to scoop us away for a week and a half.

We spent an afternoon/evening in Yellowstone. It was a gorgeous place, but it felt like a joke to have such a limited amount of time there. I was able to get some cool photos and video, but I wanted more! We saw geology at its finest. Did our time and waited for Old Faithful, then hit the road again as the sun went down. We drove another 2-3 hours and arrived in Wyoming at midnight, where we split a hotel room in Jackson. I hadn’t had a “proper” shower in a week, and at that point, I needed the soap. I had to SCRUB the dirt off of me, it was fascinating watching the dirty water race away into the drain. It made me proud of myself, and it was kind of cool to see the natural color of my skin emerge again, and the sun that it had collected over the past week (regardless of how much sunscreen it had consumed).

Our first full day in Jackson began with a trip to a coffee shop. Drinking a latte was…ecstatic. I hadn’t been properly caffeinated in a while, and it tasted really, REALLY good. We wandered around town for a bit, and eventually drove into Grand Teton National Park. The mountains we were so curious to see but were blind to in the darkness the night before finally emerged. We both gasped at the moment we saw them at once. Again, with the pictures. I couldn’t capture these peaks, no matter how many times I tried. The amount of profanities that came out of our mouths as we stared at these massive things was comical. There would be silence, and then at any moment, either one of us would be like, “SHIT!”

We reserved a spot at a campground in the park for a couple of nights. It gave us a place to land while we explored Jackson Hole. We spoiled ourselves rotten with good food, delicious beer, listened to bluegrass, danced and met a lot of lively people who were equally curious about us. 

Up again at 5:30 the following morning, we raced to the ranger station to try and secure backcountry permits for the Teton Crest Trail. We were both tired, grumpy, and sans coffee. I ran up to the doors impatiently, where there were already several people in line. I sat and joined their wait, as Cassandra prepared caffeine for us in the parking lot. (She made us lots of good coffee to save us in those mountains!) She joined me with hot coffee in hand, and we waited until finally one of the rangers opened the doors.

We walked up to the counter and spoke to the woman about where we wanted to go. She pulled out a map, and somehow (wow, with the luck, again), we were able to get each night reserved at the spots we wanted. 6 days, 5 nights, as we wished, were granted to us. We probably had a mixture of crazy and happy in our eyes. The woman studied our faces and said, “You guys are really excited, I can tell.” We were the only women in line waiting to get permits. All others were men, with the exception of one couple: a man and who I assumed was his wife. The ranger kind of seemed like she was proud of us. I was proud of us!

Scurrying away with our permits in had, we were in shock at our luck. SO HAPPY.

After spending another day in Jackson, we headed back to our camp. Procrastinated for hours, and finally began packing. We both tried real hard to leave behind as much as we could, but in the end, our packs were stupid heavy. Neither one of us had ever gone into the backcountry for this long before. We couldn’t weigh our packs, but I’m willing to bet that they weighed at least 45 pounds a piece. This was the heaviest my pack had ever been.

As we were getting on the Teton tram the following day, set out for adventure, we couldn’t stop laughing at how awkward it was to put those giant things on our backs. We tried several different methods. People were staring at us, asking us what we were doing. Over the next 6 days, we got to know our packs well. They carried our houses, our beds, our meals, tools and clothes. My pack hurt and pissed me off. I swore at it and constantly wanted to take it off. But, after a few days, I learned how to adjust it in a way that made my hips and shoulders hurt less.

Let me tell you this: the pain that I felt in my body from using it and making it work, was nothing compared to the pain I have felt in my body from inactivity or forcing it to stay in the same position for too long. And, after only a couple days of hauling ass up these mountains at high altitude, we could both feel our bodies become stronger. It was such a cool experience. 

Each day, that trail gave way to more and more astonishing beauty, and equally more challenge. Of course!

I had never seen mountains like this before. I don’t know how to explain them. They were massive, partly terrifying and at the same time, so alluring. They looked almost fake, they were so beautiful. The more difficult things got, the more we got to see. I felt so happy to be there. To experience it all. Even the shitty parts. They all felt so different up there.

On our third night along the trail, we camped in the South Fork Cascade Canyon. We had the most amazing view of Grand Teton herself. We were drinking the whiskey that we so lavishly hauled up with us in a water bottle, talking about just how far away that mountain seemed yesterday, and how close we were to her now. As we looked up in the dark, we noticed a headlamp. We started laughing in excitement and shined our headlamps back. We watched two twinkly little lamps over the next several of hours before crawling into our tent, of what we assumed were two climbers descending off the Grand. We talked about what’s more difficult at that hour up there, going up or going down? We agreed: going down.

Cassandra asked me, “Why do you think we do this?” I had to think about it for a minute before I responded. Why do we kill ourselves, do scary shit for hours at a time and risk our safety, make our bodies hurt, get insanely grumpy or scared or emotional, push ourselves to the point of complete exhaustion? Get up high, get that feeling of “FINALLY, WE DID IT!” Come back down. And then do it all over again? Do we do it for the thrill? Maybe we all have different reasons. But the reason that I do it is to feel human. Only sitting in a cubicle all the time that is coordinated for my dependence on comfort and safety doesn’t make me feel human all the time. Nor does going on a leisurely vacation to see pretty cities. Sure, parts of those things are nice and good to do/have, but I think we need more. These other kinds of adventures that cost time and vulnerability that test us, where we face the unknown and come up against extremely hard work…these are the things that connect me to the feeling of being alive, to feel my pulse. What a complete waste it would be to not live and experience these things that we are all capable of. To see the things that are extraordinarily simple yet spiritually relevant. These are the most precious gifts in life. The lessons that I gain from the mountains are irreplaceable, so very priceless. I’ve only been back down here for 3 days, and I’m still trying to gather all of the post-adventure (torture?) thoughts and realizations that are coming out of me on the other side of this.

The peak of our challenge and joy came on our 4th day. We had hiked 10 miles the day prior to that (remember, the big-ass packs), pissed off every time we had to descend, because we knew we would have to climb back up again, making up all that lost elevation, and then some. This 4th day was about 12 miles long. Our bodies hurt. We went down, then back up. Then down, and then way the hell back up again. We passed the couple that we saw at the ranger station just days before, getting the same permits as us. They looked disappointed, coming from the opposite direction. We said hi, and they said hi back, looking down. Cassandra said, “They must have turned around, they didn’t make it.” The question of why was looming over our heads.

We must have been going for 10 hours, until we finally reached Paintbrush divide at just under 11,000 feet. We were both pep-talking each other that day, telling each other that, once we got up to the divide, the hardest part of the entire trip would be over. We would then descend a little, setup our tent in Upper Paintbrush Canyon, eat some hot food out of a bag and pass out.

NOPE! We were incorrect.

We followed the trail along the divide, thinking we’d see it veer off to camp spots not far below. What we saw on the other side was frightening. Any bit of giddy behavior left in us quickly dissipated, and relief wasn’t as soon to be found as we had hoped. We both looked at each other, with wide eyes and open mouths. “Uhhh…fuck.” To which Cassandra replied “…Yeah, I can’t.”

The east side of the divide was much less welcoming than the west, where we had just traversed. No sun, no people. It looked cold and frightening. Snowfields. Really vertical ones, with a thin trail that resembled a long hairline, that followed way the hell down into the canyon. And scree. Lots and lots of scree. Again, the vertical kind. It was not the kind of fear that made me excited. It was the kind I felt in the pit of my stomach that made me want to back-pedal. I wasn’t comfortable going in there without ropes, and with someone who was equally terrified. We looked at the map to see if there was another way, and of course, there wasn’t. We talked about going back down to a lake we had rested at hours before. But the sun was about to go down, and we weren’t keen on going back down, many miles, on a sketchy trail in the dark. We remembered that we ran into a group of two men and women about a half an hour ago, who mentioned they were camping in Paintbrush as well. We decided to wait for them and share the fear with someone else. Really, what were we going to do, turn around?

Once we met up with them, we all walked back over to the end of the divide and pointed at the scary stuff. After talking about it and agreeing that it looked sketchy, the 6 of us were a little less afraid. There was a way to approach the descent that involved a little bit less snow, but a little bit more scree. The first bit of snow was what scared us the most. It was a bit of a ledge…not very long. But if we slipped and fell, we knew we wouldn’t be able to self arrest on the little amount of snow below it. We would fall straight down the rocks below. The two men assisted their wives across this thing, came back and walked their packs over as well. Cassandra and I watched them, and looked at each other. I asked one of the men if they could help us cross, and they were generous in doing so and offered to walk our packs over the other side. Falling would be one thing, but falling with a 40-some-lb pack would be another. We put spikes on our shoes and took out our ice axes, and took turns crossing the snow one by one. Ice axe in one hand to help keep us anchored, and a pole in the other to help keep us balanced. Slow and steady, the snow was sticky and supportive. It wasn’t as scary as we had made it out to be. When I got to the other side, I did a happy, giddy little dance. I was elated.

It wasn’t over yet, though. There wasn’t exactly a trail to follow on the talus field. Over the next half hour or so, I was probably more scared than I have ever been in the mountains. I had an extremely hard time crossing all that scree on such a vertical slope. I couldn’t find a stable place for my feet to support me (with the pack on, again). I would shift a toe inside my shoe, and it would cause one rock to move, then hundreds of rocks followed. I started to panic, and wondered if I would fall to my death on this stupid thing. The guy that walked my pack across the snow earlier watched me freak out, and told me to stay where I was and not to move. He was able to make his way over and somehow created a foothold for me. I placed my foot on top of his and was able to pull myself up and more securely walk over the scree and back to somewhat of a trail again. I must have thanked him a million times afterwards, I was so grateful for his help.

NOW, now the worst part was over. We had to cross more snowfield, but these parts were more doable.

We finally made it to the camp in the canyon, just as it got dark. After setting up our tent, we sat outside watching the full moon rise over the peaks in front of us. Again…how lucky are we?! It was so beautiful. We couldn’t understand how it was that we were able to be there. And we realized that we had just created a bond with a group of complete strangers because of what we had to go through with them. We don’t really connect as easily over surface talk with other people, do we? Going through something like that makes you instantly closer to someone. We hadn’t eaten in hours, and our adrenaline made us forget how hungry we were and we couldn’t eat.

The next couple of days were mostly cake. Except for the grumpy factor. The last miles on days 5 and 6, there were no rocks, there was no snow. There was a bit of down, but it was easier and then it was flat. There were just those last couple of miles through the forest that seemed to last FOR-E-VER. I was grumpy and whiney, and Cassandra was hungry and pissed off, walking fast ahead of me. I just wanted to stop. My feet felt like they were being stabbed over and over again.

We finished our adventure and got a ride back to my car at 8:00am on day 6, where I pulled a lukewarm cider out of the back that we drank in celebration. We shoved some Cheez-Its in our mouths as we laughed deliriously over what we had just accomplished. Everything after this made us feel so spoiled. If you partake in any similar adventures yourself, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s like you finally return to your taste buds after having them taken away from you for any period of time. You’re reunited with all of life’s conveniences that you normally take for granted. A hot shower, comfortable shoes, clean clothes, beer, fresh food, other people, music, cell phones, cars, FRESH COFFEE! A bed. Those comforts that we live in on a daily basis and become numb to, it’s good to have them taken away from us from time to time.

We were back in Jackson that night, showered and smelling good again. Listening to music and dancing, meeting more new people, drinking more beer. (Oh, word of advice: if you just dragged your poor body through hell for a week, go easy on the alcohol. You’ve just been reborn, and if you water yourself with booze, you’ll have the worst hangover of your life the next day). The amount of work we had just put into those mountains had nothing on my energy levels. I felt like a new person, experiencing everything with heightened senses.

I was talking to someone we met at the bar, explaining to him how overstimulated I felt all of the sudden, being in town after what we did in the mountains for 6 days.

He responded to me, “I know. It’s like sugar, isn’t it?”

A Home with a Purpose

20157981_10214288860434558_6839072069881910143_o.jpgWelp, my plan to live a transient lifestyle has been moderately altered: I bought myself a cabin house in the mountains! Oh, how I wish words could describe the insane amount of happy energy that my cup is overflowing with right now.

I was explaining to a friend the other day, that although this was not part of my “plan”…I have a feeling that this new addition will make the plan, the dream…a bit better. I suspect that it will help me in my transition to live a different kind of life—the kind that helps me to live more presently and with intention. A home with a purpose.

The cabin sits at 2,200 feet in Skykomish, WA. It is nestled between towering evergreen trees and mountains beyond. It’s just a short 2-minute uphill walk from the Tye river. It is 9 miles west of Stevens Pass, just off highway 2. There are trails in every direction just outside my new front door. I will be relatively close to Leavenworth.

You guys, I can’t even begin to explain the excitement I feel, that I will soon have the privilege to call this place my home. This is a gift, and I don’t know how I managed to get so lucky to be able to do something like this. I’m mentally squeezing this opportunity like a giant hug.

Perhaps you’re wondering how the hell I came up with this. My plan after selling my home and quitting my job was to stay at my mother’s while not traveling, at least for a little while (whenever I say this, I cower a little bit). And, to give in to my wonderfully loving and generous friends who have offered me their couches and spare bedrooms. I’ve slept on many a different bed this past month, and even though I miss having my own place at times, I feel like I’ve actually adjusted pretty damn well to this transient existence of mine. Besides, how lucky am I to be able to see the people I love and their smiley faces, so much more than I was able to in my old life? The discomfort I sometimes feel with not having my own place wasn’t exactly enough to prompt me to be buy another house, all over again. I told myself I wasn’t going to do this for a while. I didn’t want to invest in suburbia again, or to tie myself down to a mortgage and the good ol’ rat race.

I didn’t seek out this cabin, it found me. It came knocking on my door, and it wouldn’t go away. I think that sometimes, we are so hard set on making very specific plans, that we are too noisy in our own heads to see the little glimmers of light that come our way, the kind that beg for our attention and have big things to offer. It took me a little while to identify this as such. Timing is a funny thing.

Anyway, how it presented itself: I’m on a very old real estate mailing list that gets delivered to an equally old mailbox, one that I hardly ever check. I was plugging into an email app on my computer, and technology (being a smartass) opened that one up for me for the first time in months. I sifted through junk mail and aimlessly looked at some real estate listings. My stomach got instantly queasy looking at the ridiculously expensive boxes that are for sale in the Seattle area. I shook my head, and patted myself on the back for selling mine.

But then, this cabin happened.

I don’t know how Redfin knew that I liked cabins, but I do. I salivated over it. I never seriously considered buying a cabin. Ever. It never seemed like a “realistic” thing to do.

But, what is realistic, anyway? I always loved and secretly dreamed of cabins for as long as I can remember. One of my fondest memories from my childhood was going on school field trips to Whidbey Island, where my classmates and I stayed in old cabins and slept in bunk beds for a few days. I used to watch the old Friday the 13th movies, over and over and over again. Not because I liked scary movies…but because I was obsessed with seeing the cabins. Now, as an adult, I like horror movies. Go figure.

I proceeded to go down a real estate rabbit hole for about a week. I wasn’t even aware of my reasoning for doing so, I just was curious what other cabins were out there. Just for fun. I browsed through my favorite mountainous places in the northwest.

But I kept coming back to this one. The one in Skykomish. It was a REAL cabin: wood panels, wood stove, septic pooper, river water, generator and batteries…all of it. Off. The. Grid.

I remember the distinct moment when the light bulb sparked. I was sitting on my couch in my old house, just days before I moved out, when all of the pieces started to come together. It’s like the subconscious reasoning behind why this thing kept nagging at me finally started to reach the surface. I COULD ACTUALLY DO THIS?! I could take the earnings from my old old cul-de-sac life, and trade it in for an investment that supported my dream. I was in this moment, about to walk away from a home that no longer had a purpose for me. And suddenly I had an opportunity, clear as day, where I could walk into something that functions with a very intimate purpose.

John (the 78-year-old man who owns and built the cabin 34 years ago) was not modest in humbling me with what it would take to operate this thing. In fact, when I first spoke to him on the phone, he did everything he could to gently dissuade me from wanting to live there. I won’t lie, it kind of felt like a punch in the gut and he scared the shit out of me. Left me feeling almost embarrassed for considering to do this. But, I guess it wasn’t enough for me to throw in the towel just yet. The more I got to know John and the more he got to know me, the more I felt at ease seeing that he had a little more faith in my ability to do this.

I spent the following month familiarizing myself with this house. It has made me postpone some of my long travels. I lost count of how many times I have driven out there to talk to John, contractors, inspectors, neighbors, etc. But I learned something new every time. The more I saw what I would have to do to make it work there, the more scared I got. However, each time (after reeling from the fear), I got a little more excited than the last. Because I saw that it was possible. Fear has a way of terrifying us to the point of not trying something, only because we don’t know it, or we think we know it to be a certain way. But sometimes, when we entertain something and approach it with an open mind, we open ourselves to the realization that it’s actually quite basic and not so scary.

What I love most about this place is that it’s not mindless. I will have to think about what I’m doing and actually execute it intentionally to get the benefit of the rewards. It’s going to take work. Something that sounds so complicated gives way to a more simple life. The cabin sits in a hidden community (called Scenic) of maybe 8-10 other cabins. The people who live and vacation there are kind, and they look out for one another. When the water filtration system in the river (yep) gets clogged with tree debris, someone has to clear it, or they (we) have to fix it together. I’ve never lived in a community like this, but thinking about it gives me the warm fuzzies inside. Even though I’m confident I will have plenty of meltdowns and moments of panic when I’m there.

So, my UPDATED plan is this: After my longer travels wrap up in late fall, my idea is to spend most of my time (living) in the cabin house (4-5 days a week) and doing some freelance design work there. The other 2-3 days will be spent in the city, visiting all of you, and teaching some yoga. And I do hope that you will come visit me, because a big part of the reason I want to live here is so that you all can help me make some memories there. We can go ski or hike or climb, or or or! Then we can make fires, drink whiskey and hot cocoa. Maybe watch me freak out when the generator doesn’t work, or when somebody flushes something unacceptable down the toilet, or when I get stuck in numerous feet of snow.

WE SHALL SEE! It’ll be a mixed bag.

Walking that fine line between fear and hope is essential in living a purposeful life, in my opinion. That line is the sweet spot to a fulfilling life, and it’s where our dreams are born. I can’t wait to move into this place! I’m about to embark on a 2 1/2 week-long journey to Montana and Wyoming (!!!!), so, moving in will have to wait until the middle of August.

As you can see…things have room to change and evolve no matter where you’re at or what you are doing. What will this next thing morph into? Who knows?! Who knows! One thing’s for damn sure, though—whatever it is…it’ll be with a purpose.

“Happiness only real when shared.” —Christopher McCandless

slideshowChristopher McCandless made a damn good point. It’s important for us to find what charges us in this life and to do it. However, it isn’t only for our own satisfaction, but also for the benefit of others. I feel that even if we’re able to conquer whatever it is that we’re good at or makes us happy, ultimately that gift of enjoyment or happiness is fully functional and at best charged when it’s shared with someone outside of ourselves.

I do usually love going into the backcountry alone. Whenever I feel like I’ve got my head buried too deep in an over-civilized existence, being up in the mountains always enlightens me with the necessary perspective to pull my head out. I always seem to return back to the periphery when I come back out. Being out in the wild seems to naturally reconnect me to my original humanness. And, for some reason, if ever I’m feeling alone or isolated in my day-to-day life, coming back from the mountains helps me to reconnect with the people around me by helping to erase the things we sometimes create that inadvertently separate us. I NEVER feel alone when I come back to the city after solo adventuring.

But, back to happiness being real only when shared. 

I’ve had a taste of this concept before while being outside alone, but just recently I felt it the most. My trip to the Wallowas was probably the newest and more exploratory solo trip I’ve taken into the outdoors. I got to see a mountain range that, until recently, I didn’t even know existed. It was all unfamiliar to me, even a bit scary at times. I spent 3 nights in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, alone. It was beautiful out there. I’m always amazed how different places (even if they’re not too far away from each other) differ in their environments. What I love the most is that these differences are created in nature, and not by us humans.

I had many hours to myself in this place over the course of 4 days. When I was on the go, moving from one place to the next, I never felt alone. Probably because my brain was occupied by constant activity. Each evening after I finished with the day’s explorations, I would setup camp and get settled. It’s always easiest for me to be still and not engage in any activity in an effort to occupy my mind when I’m outside. You could say that it’s meditative for me to sit outside alone, in the center of nature’s rhythmic existence. I sat in my camp for hours each night just being present, letting my senses take everything in. I would hear 7 different types of birds signing. They didn’t sing alone or all at once. Their individual songs were like 7 different pieces of a puzzle coming together, that made one exquisite song. They needed each other to create it. They would do this over and over and over again, it was a rhythm that created a whole. I would watch the clouds above me dance, and then I’d see how their movement affected everything below them and around me. The change in light changed everything, and in turn changed my perspective. All of these things were such a graceful reminder that nothing in this universe is separate. Every. Single. Thing…is absolutely connected.

Even though I enjoyed these experiences and needed the solitude, I found myself feeling lonely in these times of stillness from time to time. Let’s also identify here, that alone and lonely have two completely different meanings altogether. Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean I am lonely. I’m naturally an introvert, and so I tend to crawl back into my shell anyway to recharge. I do love being around people and of course need them in my life, but I have no problem with being alone, too. Being outside always delivers some of the happiest experiences for me, so I was wondering, ‘why do I feel lonely?’ I was experiencing all of these things that I love so much, and I’ve worked hard to get here. And I wasn’t sure why I felt lonely. Sometimes when I felt happiness soar, it was like it reached a ceiling. Kind of like a high that only had so much momentum.

Then it dawned on me: Happiness needs to be shared. 

Have you ever spoken to someone in an effort to share an experience (happy or sad), and if they’re perceptive or empathetic enough to what you are saying, your feelings become more real, too? I have. It’s like that moment of sharing allows the experience to be amplified. It’s the BEST when I can share something exciting with another person, and to be able to watch them light up, too. It reminds me that we are not separate, and I can almost see myself in them. It’s like those birds. Two or more experiences contribute to a whole and make it evolve into something bigger and more powerful.

As I pondered this, I considered my other upcoming plans to solo adventure over the coming months. I currently have the gift of time and am able to take longer trips and many mid-week adventures. The majority of the people in my life that I share these experiences with are on different time, so I know that many of my trips will still be taken alone. So, how can I make those solo experiences more real? It’s by simply sharing them. I love photographing what I see, and LOVE sharing them with people I meet along the way and the people I love when I come back to the city. I’m experimenting with making some videos of my trips, which I’ve never done, but am so very excited to share in hopes that it will help other people light up, too. And I have this blog that I get to write this stuff in (which I’m grateful that you are reading!) All of these things—they make my happiness bigger.

And so, I believe that meaningful experiences must be shared. Whether it’s something we learn, or simply the feeling of experiencing something beautiful, good or bad. When we keep these things bottled up inside of us, that’s as far as they can go. They end there, but they are meant to be evolved by being shared with someone else. Someone who will make happiness more real.

Making Headway


It has been one week since I lifted half of the weight of my life-changing efforts by quitting my job. The day after my last at work began with a yoga class on Saturday morning. I was already starting to reel with what now remains from my decision to leave, and the uncertainty of what’s to come. As I arrived home after class, I walked by the tall stalks of bamboo in my front yard. I looked down at my feet, and what do I find? A freshly sprouted bamboo shoot! It looked strong and healthy, and must’ve been a good 3-4 inches tall. From the looks of the disturbed, wet bark surrounding the shoot, it must have come up rapidly overnight. It made me instantly so happy to see — almost giddy with excitement!

I planted a couple bamboo families out there 3 years ago in an effort to landscape my front yard. In that time, a few new sprouts have come up, but not much has ever come of them (which is odd, considering that typically you have to try and prevent the rapid spread of these tenacious things). Either they have died on their own or grown thin/not very tall. Most often, though, squirrels have gotten to the tasty little bits, eating away at them on the first day of their contact with the sunlight.

If you know me at all, you’re most likely aware that I’m not great with maintaining plants. I relish at taking care of and nurturing people and animals, but for some reason prefer seeing plants grow naturally wild. Seeing new plant life is always interesting, but it has never made me this giddy. I wondered if it would get eaten by the little critters again. But above all, I was actually excited to see this new growth in the midst of the fear and silent chaos that lived inside my head. For whatever reason, this tiny act of nature gave me hope in trusting again. Trusting my gut and my heart in these big decisions that I recently made for myself, regardless of what’s to come in the unknown.

My time remaining in this big house has come down to 12 days, and the bamboo will no longer belong to me (not that they have ever REALLY belonged to me, anyway). I won’t get to take them with me when I leave, but watching this one grow to an impressive 2 feet in height over the last week has been like witnessing a parallel life form. Like a little plant-friend living and growing right beside me. I really have no idea what will happen tomorrow, next week…next year. However, I can already feel the current shift and expansion happening in my life. Parts of it are scary as hell, because often I feel like I’m walking around in the dark. My brain likes to create the future, before any future has had a any chance to form, simply based on what it has only experienced in the past. It tries to cling. Meanwhile, I’m trying to listen to the intuition in the middle of all of that, whose silent whisper has so much more volume in its power than it does in its appearance. It’s so hard to hear, because the voices that surround it that scream “what if?!” are so much louder in comparison!

The work I’ve been doing over the recent months to prepare for my next life adventures has rewarded me with one giant lesson: The changes we wish to see and the experiences we hope to nurture are only possible if we create the necessary space for them. Somehow, we can’t move forward without getting rid of some things first (beliefs that no longer serve, possessions we no longer need, desires that are unfulfilled, etc). It’s like our brain is a room, with four walls that can only contain so many things. If it’s full to the brim with junk that we don’t use, how can we possibly furnish it with the things needed to create a different space? Once we get rid of those things, THEN we can bring in the new.

What has been most interesting to me, is how we experience seeing this “room” in the new. It’s the same exact room, but our perception and how we experience it is MUCH different.

I’ve been experiencing the whole last week just like this. My job occupied such a big portion of my life and my identity. Since I have made such a big change with that part of my life-pie, it has changed how I look at and experience the rest of it. The way it feels to experience simple things: walking through my front door, the way it feels to lay in my bed, to drive to or walk into the grocery store. To walk my dog or to give her a hug. It all occupies space in my life, just as it did before I made such a big change, but it all feels so different. It’s like I’m experiencing it under a certain layer of consciousness that has been peeled away.

So, I’ve made this headway. I’ve still got a lot to do to move out of this house in the next couple of weeks. I’m so very unfamiliar with the new experiences that are around the corner for me. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve got more time to spend on the emotional roller coaster of all of this. But, I’m learning how to trust that it’s all for the better. It’s so very necessary for the growth of what’s to come.

Call Mom and Cook for People

I guess this all started back in November with a list. If you looked through my drawers at home, you’d probably find all kinds of quirky scribbles and notes-to-self. Sometimes they’re a list of things to do, other times they’re mental “Aha!” lists. This one was kind of a hybrid. You could say that my growing aversion to all things too familiar and expired was responsible for it. I came across it in my notebook several times for months–and each time, I snickered at it and wondered how drunk I must have been to write such a ludicrous thing: QUIT JOB AND GO BACKPACKING.

Quit my amazing job and become a dirt bag? Haha! Adults don’t that. The job that taught me about All Things Outside to begin with. My very comfortable career, the one that hardly felt like a job at all, where I got paid to be creative and inspire other people to do the things that I myself love so much. The place where I got to spend time with some of my best friends (family, really) every day. The job that has heavily defined my identity as I know it for the last 10 years.

If there’s one thing I’d share about what I’ve learned so far from my experiences, it’s that life is meant to evolve. Things change, and we like to think that we have control over where our life-boat goes. The reality is that we only have control over which direction we’d like to steer our little boat. Where it takes us along the way and what’s in its path is a mystery to us. The waves change seemingly without much pattern, we have the freedom to choose how we want to navigate and which direction to go next. When things change (for better or for worse), we can choose to stay still (whether it serves us or not), or we can choose to do something different.

This is where evolution happens.

If we don’t allow ourselves to evolve, the human race is in trouble. It’s incredibly difficult to allow evolution to happen sometimes, because we all suffer from a very strong desire to attach to things that naturally change. It’s one of our defining characteristics of being human! We have zero control over the rhythm and cadence at which these changes occur. But when we hold on tight to things that no longer serve us, it’s like we’ve got a death grip on the bumper of a very fast-moving vehicle: it’ll just drag us through rough terrain and tear us up. Or, maybe we’ll find a nice nook to tuck ourselves into to protect from the resistance. But when we do these things, we hold ourselves back greatly.

I recently learned how long I held onto a part of my life that stopped serving me a long time ago. That lesson greeted me in the ending of my 8-year relationship a year ago. I attempted to keep something the same, because I didn’t want to admit to myself that it had changed. I mistakenly understood this change as failure. I thought that by forcing myself to hold on, I could go back to how it once was. But this never works! Not for long, anyway, it doesn’t last. In fact, it blew up in my face, just like anything under pressure does after a while. It is unsustainable. The blow came in the form of a heart-ache that I had never experienced before, and it hurt me so much that I had no choice but to completely disengage in any effort to fight it anymore. I had no appetite for anything.

And holy shit, did it hurt. I didn’t know that pain in my physical heart was possible like that.

But then, the silver lining came. I broke open. And what happens when we break open? Life returns. If we are REALLY honest with ourselves and curious about this opening, magnificent things take place. Again, we evolve.

As I started to heal and come back to life, I found myself surrounded by other new budding life. Things that were completely new to me. And things that I had uncovered that I unknowingly shoved deep down inside myself in an effort to keep other things the same due to the fear of uncertainty. Isn’t it funny how we do that? I noticed things that fed my heart and naturally evolved every cell of my being, with such little effort! I learned how wonderful this life really is, and how incredibly fortunate I am to have it, with all the “good” and “bad” all wrapped up into this gift. I realized that I never wanted to fight the things that are meant to evolve me, because it’s a huge waste of time and very pointless battle.

A couple months ago, I read an article that gave me the worst of the chills. I cried, hard enough to surprise myself. There are 20 million people on our planet who are starving, and we are in our largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. How have we allowed this to happen? After I read it, I felt like I suddenly got sick with no warning, or something. I was so sad and baffled at how much the world is suffering, it made me extremely upset. So many of us are drowning in our own comfort. And this is not evolution.

I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing here?” Knowing full well that I don’t know what else will change around me, how and when, I suddenly knew I couldn’t waste time not entertaining the things that my heart desired. That little itch that I had inserted into my list turned into something I couldn’t hide in a drawer anymore. It did its thing in my head, and it evolved into reality. I finally decided to give that voice a listen, and allow myself to give something new a go.

So, I’m leaving the comforts of both my job and my home, and I’m going outside for a little while (at least). I want to document how my heart sees the mountains and the perspective that they offer, with the hope of inspiring someone else to do whatever brings them to life. (and because if I spend another day sitting in 2+ hours of traffic for my commute, I am going to lose my shit). Where will it take me? I have no idea! But so far, I’m finding that turning off the engine in my little boat and learning how to use my sails is a beautiful thing. I love the feeling of experiencing discovery, because it shapes the evolution of me.

Now, I know I’m just one little nugget out of 7.5 billion. I’m fully aware that my singular contribution can’t change the world. However, I do believe we are in the midst of a significant global shift. The ONLY useful thing that any of us can do to aid in the evolution of our species and see our planet flourish is to listen to the voice inside that calls us to do what individually charges us. The work it takes to get us there isn’t necessarily comfortable, but it creates and fuels an internal light to burn very bright, bright enough for others to see. I can often see it when I look into people’s eyes. This is what each of us are here for, and it’s to serve the greater good. We can’t help but be instinctively drawn to the energy of a person who lives their truth, and it’s like a magnet to our own inspiration.

Evolution begins in YOU. And in me.

You have something inside of you that makes your life YOURS. We all do. It’s unique for all of us, and it’s meant to be shared to feed the progression of us as a whole. Sometimes we think that by allowing ourselves to do what we really love, we’re being selfish. But I actually believe that it’s one of the most generous things we can do for the people around us.

So, do you know what burns your fire bright? If not, can you find its twinkle? Can you nurture it and allow it to grow? And will you let other people see it in your eyes? If you know what it is, and you aren’t chasing after it, you are wasting time.

Whatever it is, it’s so contagious. The world needs it.