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JOURNAL

Moving is Hard (Even When You Want to Go)

On Tuesday I moved to LA. Honestly, there were endless reasons not to go.

There will always be reasons not to do the scary thing or take the risk. The reasons not to do something always seem to be louder, right? They scream and demand to be listened to. They show up to remind you that you could be lonely, that you could stay scared, that expectations are real and that they could be broken. I already know that’s all possible. It feels like I’ve lived through all of it many lifetimes over. I’ve been there, sat with loneliness on four continents, on islands and in cities and on beaches and rooftops. I have lived that solitary uncertainty more times than I can count in my early 20’s alone and in truth, I already know that it’s exhausting.

None of those reasons were good enough not to go.

Driving out here was like 16 hours of meditation. All that time just to sit with myself. Somehow when there’s just road in front of you and it’s just you, there’s nothing in the way of wondering why you’re not working on your dream project or why you’re not finding the love of your life. You can go into that middle-of-nowhere gas station and buy as many peanut M&M’s as you want– those same fuckin’ questions will be there when you start driving again.

Moving is hard even when you want to go. Even when the going is the most important thing.

I know for sure that no song is catchy enough, no podcast interesting enough, no canyon stunning enough to take my mind off of the wounds I normally try to cover and hide from myself. Driving out here was 16 hours of showing myself the walls I’ve put up, and 16 hours of giving myself the forgiveness and permission to start taking them down.

It was finding acceptance and courage; it was stirring the pot of stuff I thought I left behind in Boulder or New York or Porto. Just sitting in my own history, remembering the main players in every game I’ve ever won or lost, the prominent characters of each chapter of my life, wondering if I might see them again as I turn another page.

I have moved around so much. I have lived in many houses (sometimes tents), alone or with someone else, and leaving– well it’s familiar but I’m not convinced it gets any easier. Part of me will always fight the belief that it’s best to not get attached so that you don’t have to hurt when it’s time to go. Part of leaving will always suck– apply it to whatever you want, it’s hard to uproot. You can know a relationship isn’t right but still love the person, maybe you still love why you fell so hard for them in the beginning, and maybe you still do. It doesn’t mean they are right or good for you.

I think the hardest part of leaving is that bit right before you do. You can imagine it for months, you can fantasize about your new life and how great it’ll be and how free you’ll feel and the exact thing you’ll wear as you board the plane or drive past the state line. Even when you’re ready to start over, it’s hard.

To some, it must not seem right that I’d trade mountains and open space for traffic in the city. But I would much rather return to the Rockies someday knowing that I followed my heart and soul; knowing that I listened to the cells of my body that pushed me West, and that I most importantly responded to that call. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Remember that nobody else gets to have an opinion on your decisions without your validation.

When you make a change I promise you’re gonna get hit with all of it– the loneliness and the hummingbirds, the heartbreak and the starry-eyed wonder of the new place, whatever and wherever that might be. I know California doesn’t promise me anything different. It certainly doesn’t promise anything that I don’t look for. I know that I see magic wherever I choose to look for it. I am happy to be here. I am happy to sit on these steps in front of the lime tree and write this to you. I’m reminded of the porch at my old place in Colorado, how it too became a place where I’d sit and unload my thoughts here– where I handed over my dreams and my hurts in surrender and therefore, in strength.

If and when you move into a new story, remember that although you may feel like a stranger in the new place, you’re not a stranger to yourself. You can sit and know yourself anywhere, regardless of what tree you sit under. Life is hunch after hunch. But you have to trust that you know what’s best for you, and that the feeling that pulls you in whatever direction is not without purpose. If you don’t listen, how else will you get anywhere?

There will always be a million reasons not to go.

The point is that you are the only one who can decide to drive your life in any direction for 16 hours, or however long it takes you to get where you’re going. There will always be endless reasons not to go. Decide which call you want to listen to.

Know that nothing is wrong with you if it’s hard. It just means the chapter was meaningful in the first place.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

How to Do it All

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You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I don’t love that– it’s unlike me. I stick to deadlines, even when I set them myself.

This is about balance, something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I knew this summer was going to be a hurricane; I mean, I designed the storm myself. I pushed the boulder down the hill in the first place, so I can’t be surprised that it picked up momentum. I balance my photography gigs, this blog, social channels, trip leading, a coaching practice and my life (i.e., my car getting totaled in a hail storm). I don’t always do it well, but hi, I’m here, so I’m obviously doing it in some general capacity.

An alternate title for this article might be “How to Keep Your Shit Together,” and SPOILER ALERT!!! I don’t actually know the answer. But if you continually launch yourself into the deep end, well, ya better learn how to swim.

“How do you do it all?”

Clumsily. Blindfolded. And on too little sleep.

My attempt at balance is messy. It’s a lot of throwing spaghetti at the wall— a metaphor I use all the time because what a visual… and that’s how it feels. It feels like pasta everywhere, with my laptop and cameras somewhere buried in there too.

It seems glamorous to travel the world and write and take photos. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it feels easy. Do not mistake this article for a complaint. I am in love with what I do for work and I wake up thankful every day. I also recognize the great privilege that has been present in my life allowing me the opportunities that got me to this point. But you can get run down or burnt out doing literally anything, and I don’t think it’s supposed to be fun or easy all the time.

Sometimes life turns up the volume on every channel at the same time. Sometimes you wish just one thing would slow down. Sometimes you just want to catch one little break, but the punches keep coming. You cannot always control the volume. It becomes really important to look at what is actually in your control, and act in your own best interest, because nobody else can do it for you.

The following points are written in the first person, as affirmations. That’s on purpose.

I NEED TO ASK FOR HELP

I’m accustomed to being a one-woman show. I over-commit, over-volunteer, over-extend. I can do it all! WATCH! Then upon finishing “it all,” I promptly start laugh-crying into a large pizza (that is, on good days).

Sometimes even the highest achievers need to ask for help. Willingness to ask for help is a strength. And shocker… sometimes you can even hire people who will do something better than you can, allowing you to spend your time doing the things you are best at.

Ask your friends for help. Ask specialists for help (and, ahem, pay them accordingly). Ask the people in your life for help who have told you over and over that they are here for you. It’s usually not an empty offer.

I NEED TO SAY NO

Time and energy are the most precious commodities we possess. You do not have time for bullshit, you do not have time for people who do not show up for you, you do not have time for things that drain your energy and give you nothing in return. You do not have time for people who poke holes in your dreams. So say no to all of it, because it’s not making you better. And it’s most definitely not helping you keep your shit together.

Say no to jobs that do not pay you what you’re worth, say no to people who suck up your time and energy, say no to shitty food and giving up on yourself. Say no to the wrong things so you can make space for the right things.

I NEED PERSPECTIVE

When was the last time you felt small? When was the last time you reminded yourself that we’re all just floating on a rock in Space? When was the last time someone reminded you that your problems are just not that big?

It’s not always about you. And don’t allow yourself to feel bad about that fact– that’s not the point here. The point is that this world, your life, everything you’re connected to, is much bigger than whatever is stressing you out. Listen to a podcast. Watch a movie. Read a book. Do something that puts things in perspective. Remember to celebrate your wins when you can. Remember that this isn’t the first time you’ll have to deal with something hard. And remember that you are not in this alone.

I NEED TO STOP COMPARING MYSELF TO OTHERS

Comparison does not make you better. It doesn’t. It puts out your fire because it convinces you that other people have better ones. It dilutes you, makes you feel small, and makes you feel like you’re not enough. Comparison does not improve you or your work– it doesn’t lighten your load.

I do not know a single person who does not struggle with this. I compare myself to other people in my industry, to people I know and people I don’t know, to my best friends, to people my age. It has never helped. We have to just stop. Don’t get sucked into it, and notice when you do so you can pull yourself out.

I NEED TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF

You must have energy to do work that matters. So take the requisite time. Decide to eat well, to exercise, to devote time to your spiritual practice or mental health, whatever that means to you. Notice what you need– do what you can to make rest possible. If you’re working multiple jobs, I feel you. It’s hard. It sucks. It feels impossible. Do what you can.

I don’t believe in Hustle Till You Die. If The Hustle is killing you, change what you are doing. It doesn’t matter how “successful” you are at the top if you sold your soul or your health to get there. You have a limited amount of time and energy. Spend some of it on your personal well-being.

I NEED TO STAY FOCUSED ON MY VISION

Why are you here? What makes you feel fired up? What gets you out of bed? Maybe you don’t have a super passionate idea of what that is right now, and that’s OK. But follow the clues your life is giving you. And stay focused on the purpose-driven stuff. Don’t get distracted by the shit other people are doing, gossip, negativity, or the million reasons people will tell you your goals won’t work out.

Listen. The storm will never stop, it just changes form and intensity. That’s life. Life will bring you challenges, then push you into the deep end and throw the entire pool off the cliff. It’s your job to learn to swim regardless.


 

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JOURNAL ON THE ROAD

The Home in Everywhere

This post is sponsored by Zappos.


I haven’t lived here– really lived here– since I was 17.

This is where I grew up. There have been weeks I’ve come back in my in-betweens in the past ten years. But not to stay. Since I left, I have carried the feeling of home with me wherever I go, and I think it makes every place hard to leave. This place taught me the meaning of home so thoroughly. I learned it well. And leaving anywhere is rarely easy as a result, because I see magic everywhere.

Home is the smell of the second floor of my parent’s house in the summertime. Home is the sideways light on the grass at sunset. It’s conversations with my grandpa at his kitchen table where I used to sit and eat boxed macaroni and cheese after school. He’s sharper than a tack without even trying.

Home. Where I don’t feel guilty for getting up late or just taking care of myself– something I have never been good at. Where the regulars at the old coffee shop remember me– and why on earth did I ever think I could get work done there, when I know I’d be happily stuck in an hour-long conversation– a recap of the past year of my life and theirs? Home is where I walk to the beach for a sunset, only this time I’ve got a camera in my hand and each time, more weathered skin, more wrinkles around my eyes, more freckles on my arms given to me by the same sun I know here.

Home is the same salad my mom makes every September when the tomatoes are ripe and red. Home doesn’t care when I leave and it doesn’t care when I come back. It’s a feeling anyway, like a memory, like nostalgia. And I take that with me everywhere.

Sometimes home is found at the bottom of my suitcase, the airport armchair I fell asleep on. Sometimes it’s journaling on the subway. Passport stamps and taxi rides and 40 cent fish soup on the side of the road next to a temple in Bagan. Sometimes home is restlessness in hotel sheets. Home is the endless hike down the mountain in the midnight sun. Sometimes it’s breakfast with someone I just met. And I’ll swear I knew them in a past life as we finish the blueberry pancakes.

Every place becomes a part of me, this one just carries more weight. It was the first place I knew, and for a lot of my life, it was the only place I knew. It taught me to know others– like your first best friend. Home is a deep exhale. I come here in the transitions now. I come here for a kind of grounding. A kind of reverence for the in-betweens and the closing of chapters and the starting of new ones.

I am wearing Teva Original Premier sandals, mom is wearing Teva Original Universal Rope sandals.

 

I knew the feeling of home here first so I could learn to feel it and hold it everywhere else. So I could find Home in every place I have ever been– in a park in London, in the blue and white tiles of old church walls, and under a waterfall of frigid snowmelt in New Zealand.

This was always home first. Sometimes I miss it. Sometimes I miss the shortcut to the house from the train. So I’ll take a few days out of the year to be here, and I’ll be home somewhere else the rest of the time.

I know this place by heart. But I know home is more than one place. After all, understanding that home had a feeling is what allowed me to leave it in the first place.


Our Teva sandals are from Zappos.com. Zappos’ free and fast next-day shipping and excellent return policy is perfect for my nonstop travel schedule. I am wearing the Teva Original Universal Premier Leather in Indigo– great for the beach or walking around London, wherever I happen to be. Mom is wearing the Teva Original Universal Rope in Cognac.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

Love is Like That

I know so many people who are heartbroken right now. What’s the deal?! It’s my friends texting me about the ache. It’s the emails from readers I’ve never met. It’s the echo from a post I wrote about love on Instagram.

We are all hungry for feeling. For meaning.

Love is so damn complicated. Trust that I’m screaming this from my soul to my fingertips.

It’s messy. It’s clear and muddy at the same time. It’s the biggest paradox we’ll ever know. And it’s almost a guarantee that at some point in our lives, we’ll have a crazy run-in with love. A head-on collision. We’ll feel like we’ve had 4 strong margaritas and ran around in circles for an hour blindfolded.

Love is like that.

I am addicted to love, and to loving the moments that didn’t even feel good– because we don’t get to choose the ones that stick. I first realized this in a scene I’ve mentioned before– I was 21 and had moved to Porto, Portugal without knowing anyone. I would lay lonely on the roof of my apartment and stare at the sky, knowing that I would eventually miss that moment.

That feeling comes and goes in waves that take me over.

It was the feeling I had dancing to bad pop music with a tall freckled Australian guy in Budapest. It was a comical scene, but I knew I’d miss it as soon as it was over. Because you can love a moment, even a moment like that one. Especially a moment like that one. And maybe it doesn’t entirely make sense which ones our hearts choose, but those are the moments we remember.

It feels like we don’t choose the people we love either. But magic doesn’t happen on accident.

It’s loud, right? So loud sometimes it’s all we can hear. It brings us to our highest highs and our lowest lows, and it doesn’t really care what it does to us. It’ll teach us about the depths of our hearts if we allow it to. If instead of turning up the volume even more, we just got quiet, and listened.

You will read this and connect it to whatever your experience is with love, and whatever it means right now. It can be the way we love wild places, the way we love the way our coffee smells, the wonder of this whole life in general. It can be absolute heartbreak, heartache. It can just be heart, and that’s enough. It shifts and changes and it always will.

We know this: when it shows up, it refuses to be ignored. Love is like that.

JOURNAL

Deep Thoughts from 2016

When I started this blog two years ago, it was hard for me to imagine what it would become. I just set out to share– and as it turns out, that was worth something. Because I’m here, still writing, and still sharing it.

I’ve done these Deep Thoughts posts for the past two years (here’s 2014 and 2015), so in keeping with that tradition, here are my personal reflections from 2016.

1. SET FIRM, LOVING BOUNDARIES

This year, I thought a lot on what I really require– in jobs, in relationships, in what I really need in order to live comfortably. I saw that I often over-compromise. I want to be the best at everything: the best employee, the most supportive friend, the person who wakes up the earliest and stays up the latest to work on their passion project.

For me, a lot of that isn’t healthy. In order to bring out the best in myself, I actually have to set firm boundaries instead of being a pushover. I have to be a bit more thoughtful about what I say yes to and when I say yes to it.

Having boundaries does have to mean that you are closed off– it can mean that you know yourself well enough to identify what works for you, and to stand for those things.

2. IT’S ON YOU TO SHOW UP

My followthrough record in 2016 isn’t as good as it could have been. I said I’d do things that I simply did not have time or energy for. Showing up for me means being vulnerable– in being honest and humble to bring out the best in myself and in others. It also means asking myself if I could have done better, and committing to that goal.

I am proud of how I have showed up in some arenas. But there were failures, too, and they were on me. It’s on me how I show up in my friendships, it’s on me how I show up for my clients, it’s on me how I show up for myself. These are decisions I have the power to make, and that I must make, in order to be effective and bring 100%.

3. YOU CAN’T BE EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE

I tried to do a lot of things this year– and I still am doing a lot of different things. And I wish I had another lifetime to pursue all these passions I have found, but I can’t do everything and I can’t be everything for everyone. I also can’t please everyone with my writing, my beliefs, or the things that I create both on and off the internet.

In pursuing my greatest dreams, I know I will turn people off. I have to be fine with that. And in this pursuit, I also have to be fine with quitting jobs that I love. I have to be fine with saying no to coffee dates that I’d love to go on. Because I can’t be everything for everyone, and if I tried to do that, I’d be ineffective at the things that matter most.

4. FOLLOW YOUR OWN RULES & TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE

I gave a lot of advice online this year. And I didn’t always listen to myself.

We are fucking wise, y’all. You are fucking wise! Listen to yourself. So often, we undervalue our own rules of life, and for some reason we think they only apply to others but could never fit into our own situation. Many things I dealt with this year could have been dealt with sooner and better had I listened to my own advice and given myself enough credit to do so.

5. BIG DREAMS ALSO REQUIRE DETAILS

I’m a big, big dreamer, and my head is in the clouds constantly. But I need to remember that while I’m enjoying the view up there, my feet are also on the ground. Big dreams require little details in order to thrive. They require steps, planning and logistics. If done right, none of those things take away the magic of the dream. But still, they must be done.

 


 

Thank you for being a part of my story. Feature photo by BC Serna.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL TRAVEL

The Places You Meet Yourself

As a result of seeking an adventurous life through travel, I have met many people.

Amazing people. People who have changed me and the maze of my life forever.

But the really interesting thing– perhaps a simple idea– is that I also met myself.

Being alone in the unknown is never comfortable, and discomfort does things to us that ease and routine cannot. It pushes our buttons, forces us to confront ugly things we’d rather ignore, and teaches us about beauty and truth.

When I replay the montage of all the random and hard and gorgeous fleeting moments of my life, I see all the ways in which I got to know myself. All the scenes where I looked into my heart, and proclaimed that I’d see it for what it was.

I see the loneliness standing on the roof of my apartment in Portugal, my anxiety loud as sirens. And I remember doubting very much, at 21, that I had any idea of who I was.

I see meeting one of the loves of my life at a campsite in Belgium, and knowing he was important. And I see us two years later in Christchurch, crying in our hotel room, not knowing if we would ever hold each other that way again.

I see myself in the eyes of every ex-lover, the ones I knew for a night in cities I did not know well. The ones I never even touched physically, but who shared a conversation through broken English or Spanish, and in doing that, shared a part of themselves.

I see myself under a beat up old red barn, covered in hay, shoveling bags of sheep shit.

I see myself walking through caves of glow worms and thinking they looked like the whole universe.

I see dusty motorcycle rides and boats that made me seasick. I see the faces of all the people who were and are all on their own grand adventure, and it’s beautiful to me to know that I shared a brief moment in time with them. Just knowing that is so powerful. And it’s naïve. But it’s enough.

I have never been able to afford nice hotels or nice restaurants, and sometimes I think it might be nice to travel that way, but for me it’s never been about the comfort, and it might never be.

It’s about the deep brown in the eyes of the woman you met on the streets of Budapest; the way her hair smelled like jasmine and dust.

It’s about the whiskey you did not need to drink, the moon bright on the jagged peaks and pine trees, the wobble in your steps on the walk back to your cabin on icy roads.

It’s about the loneliness, the beauty, the glow worms– all the places you meet yourself over and over again, deeply, profoundly.

The depth and variety within the flip book of your life is easy to forget about. We get sucked in to our daily mundane. We forget about all of these moments we have lived.

When you remember all the places you met yourself– the places you can put on a map and the places you could never even name– you remember that it is all so, so worth watching. And worth experiencing in the first place.

JOURNAL REAL SH!T

Love Only Wins If

I have been back in America for a few days now.

I watched this election happen from a hotel room alone in Bogotá, Colombia. I’m not surprised by the outcome, but that doesn’t make me less sad. It doesn’t make me less angry.

I cried a lot. A whole lot. But I am not writing to tell you about my tears. Who cares? They do nothing if they don’t motivate me to do more than just cry. My grief as a white woman is pretty damn shallow if it ends at grief.

My community assures me that we have to love harder. That love is the answer. That love conquers.

Love will get us absolutely nowhere without action.

I am tired. I am tired. Do you get why that is bad?

I am not an immigrant. I am not Muslim. I am not a person of color, Jewish, or LGBTQ-identifying. And if I am too tired to speak up, stand up or show up, what happens to those who cannot? What happens to our planet at large, our wild spaces, our environment?

If fear, anger and sadness have brought you to the ground, make absolutely certain that you do not stay there. Get off your knees. Motivate, mobilize.

I know that a lot of you reading this are travel-loving outdoorsy folk, like me. And we’re a funny bunch. We love making ourselves uncomfortable. We go out (voluntarily) to climb really tall, scary things. We sleep outside in freezing temperatures. How many natural objects have you wiped your ass with? I can count a few. We thrive on discomfort. But when things get this kind of uncomfortable, what, we peace out and say we’re moving to Canada? No.

I am uncomfortable beyond belief, but I won’t even joke about leaving this country because of it. I am not going to leave marginalized groups to fend for themselves right now, just because I can– just because the privilege I grew up in allows me to make that choice. I am not going to leave the issues of this planet, and its limited resources, to fend for themselves right now.

I will not tune out. I won’t make light of very real issues. I will not write “love wins” on this chapter and close the book.

Yes, I will take care of myself, I will spend time with my friends, and I will remember to laugh, but only because self-care is also vital in doing this work.

I feel wobbly, do you feel it too? I feel flattened, do you feel it too? I recognize that I am not where I want to be in this fight, but I am getting there, and I hope you will meet me somewhere along this road because it is long as hell and people have been asking many of us to get on it for a long, long time. It’s not their fault that we’re just seeing it now. Get. On. That. Road.

When you believe in the call that comes out, join in with the chorus demanding change. It must be a rallying cry that listens to one another and demands inclusion in the process.

The discomfort will not stop– neither will the work. It doesn’t go away just because we think about it, pray about it, or post about it. It doesn’t go away because we decided we were gonna love each other more– it’s uglier than that sometimes because it is disruptive, and that often is not pretty. What is happening is important. It is uncomfortable.

Does it seem like it’s going to be a lot of work? It is and it will be.

I will speak for myself: I know that I cannot be silent. Don’t tell me that love can conquer. I know that love has won many battles. I fucking know. But I believe that love will only win if we partner it, thoroughly and intimately, with action.

Our love is only as strong as the impact it drives. What side of history will you be on?