Wild Ideas

Black and white tree with horse, Alabama

Have you ever had an idea come to you, seemingly out of the blue, that just totally makes sense?? The last couple of trips back to my dad’s house, I’ve had this idea nibbling away at the back of my mind. I’ve thought about it here and there and even discussed it with my dad a bit, but never seriously. It just didn’t seem to make sense. But this last trip, the whole plan finally just fell into place.

I can see every detail – how it would work, why it would work, and what it would take to make it work. I even sat down to sketch out a business plan of sorts and every single detail just slotted in ever so neatly. I’ve heard of this phenomena before, but I’ve never experienced it first hand. Frankly, it seems a little too easy to be realistic! And therein lies the problem. I’m a skeptic by nature and anything that seems easy is just too good to be true. I wonder how many brilliant, wild ideas have fallen to the wayside thanks to skeptical thinking…

This idea seems easy because, in truth, it’s been percolating for some time now. I’ve also lived and traveled around the world picking up little ideas and/or tidbits here and there that, when all combined, bind all the little details together. Looking back over my outline I can see influences from Miami, Phoenix, London, Ireland, Morocco, several Asian countries, etc. It seems a bit of a stretch that so many components could work together successfully in small town Alabama, but I have faith that it not only could work, but that it would work really well.

It’s only by traveling to these places, meeting so many different people, and having such a wide variety of experiences that I can even now contemplate the idea of moving back to Alabama. Apparently that whole travel the world to find home right where you left it thing has some wisdom behind it. Who knew? But now I know what’s out there. I’m much more confident that adventure is out there waiting for me whenever I choose to look, but I no longer need to live it every moment of every day. My home base no longer matters quite so much, or rather it does but in a different sort of way – i.e., home base no longer has to be an active part of the adventure, it can instead be a retreat. I need a retreat in my life (a lesson I suspect the Universe has been trying to teach me for some time now!).

Clouds reflected on pond with reeds, Alabama

I almost feel bad about not expounding on what this crazy, lightbulb-esque idea actually is now that I’ve gone on about it so. When it works out, I’ll share it – likely in more detail than anyone cares about. But the actual thought isn’t what my mind is focused on in writing this post – instead it’s about acknowledging how things can change, accepting that, and then deciding what to do about it. In the grand scheme of things, I may move from here to D.C. to London to Johannesburg and not get around to this brilliant scheme for another decade. It’s satisfying, regardless, to know that I have a place waiting for me with so many exciting options just wanting a bit of effort to reach fruition.

I left my dad’s house when I was 18 years old and haven’t lived there for more than a few weeks at a time since then. It’s only been in the last year or two that I have come to appreciate what it means to have a home, to have land, that’s a part of you because it comes from your family. I have not been sensible to that or appreciative of it – I couldn’t find those notions without some hard won perspective. Now it’s difficult to express my gratitude that it’s all still there, waiting. My poor dad. We don’t always get along, but he’s persevered and held it all together hoping for the day my brother or I would wake up and appreciate all his efforts. Well dad, the gratitude is definitely here now. We shall see what the future holds beyond that – small steps. (smile)

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Life Lately: Keeping Options Open

Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona

I’m writing this from my dad’s house in Alabama. My BFF’s son turned 1 this week, so I took a long weekend to fly back for some friend time and forest bathing. My friend and I have been friends, quite literally, since kindergarten, and times like these make me realize how fortunate I am to still have her in my life. Now I have my “niece” in California and my “nephew” in Alabama – I’m all set!  (Ironically, their mothers both have the same name, so now I just use their kids’ names to differentiate 🙂 )

I admit that I’m normally not terribly excited to come back to Alabama. My family and I have some major differences of opinion, but it’s a relief to see those mellow a bit with time. I felt like I needed this trip – I needed to see green things, put my feet in the grass, listen to the birds sing, and just breathe. So that’s where I’ve spent all my spare moments these past few days between grandparents and birthday celebrations and it’s been lovely.

So lovely, in fact, that I’ve found my thoughts going in a wholly surprising direction. It’s not a big secret that I’ve been wanting to move east. I’ve been looking at opportunities to do just that for almost a year now, but nothing has felt quite right. Recently, however, I’ve happened upon some potential options much closer to home that started me thinking about moving back here. As in back to my dad’s, as in the place I swore up and down for over a decade I would never live again (at least until retirement, and then only maybe). I have officially gone mad.

But the more I’ve thought about it this weekend, the more right it feels. There would be several ways it could play out and all of them potentially beneficial to myself and to my family. My grandmother really isn’t doing well since my grandfather’s passing, and it would be nice to be able to help her more. She’s been my mother figure since I lost my own as a teenager; I would love to be able to help her out even a tenth as much as she’s helped me through those years. There’s potential that I could even keep my current job and work east coast projects. At least until I am ready to make the transition into this other thing I have in mind…but that’s getting way ahead of myself.

I must be crazy. Absolutely mad. I have to be to even be considering this. Yet I’ve talked it over, in part anyway, with my dad and he seems on board with the idea. He has a lot of room here on the farm and there’s another dwelling that could be all mine with a little paint and TLC (okay, a lot of both but still). It would be a bit of a reset, a slower (and cheaper!) pace that might really be what I need to try to get some stress and my health concerns under control. My biggest con (among a well sorted and on-going list) is my pride – I’m not sure I could come back here and not see it as a negative set back instead of a simple step back. I would have to face up to and accept a lot of things I’ve been avoiding for many, many years. It could be the best idea ever or a total failure. Who knew moving home would be a leap of faith??

Anyway, all of this is just speculation at this point. I have a lot to think about and there are still several things that need to play out before I can make any final decisions. I haven’t given up on D.C., I’ve just opened up another option. We shall see which one plays out best in the end – I leave it up to the Universe!

Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona

In other news, I’ve officially checked off almost every item on my Arizona bucket list! Last weekend we made it up to Antelope Canyon for a photography tour and can I just saw – wow! I was super impressed with the canyon (obviously), but also with the number of tourists up there (in a slightly different way). My first trip to Page was nine years ago and it was almost a ghost town. Too bad I didn’t visit Antelope then! I’m happy for the town and all of the lovely sights in the area that are getting their due attention. I just hope that they can figure out the best way to grow together sustainably. Anyway, I’ve been editing photos and hope to share more very soon!

Next month, I’m off on a very impromptu girls’ trip to Barcelona! My California friend and I have been talking about Spain for years, so it’s hard to put into words how special it is that we’re going together. I’m more excited for this trip than I have been in a long, long time!

I’ve also been feeling inspired to write again. I’m hoping the long, hot days of summer bring an opportunity to ease back into some personal pursuits. I feel like other things have taken priority for far too long – I’m looking forward to reevaluating and getting back into those things that make me happiest! That also includes reading more – one of my secret bucket list items has always been to read the classics, so I (somewhat randomly) downloaded this list and the fun has already begun! I feel like it’s a bit ambitious, but it’s a life goal so there’s time. (smile)

Toadstools trail, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

Life is funny. You can go round and round (and sometimes quite literally around the world) only to find the answer you’ve been looking for right where you started. Apparently there was more to The Alchemist than I gave credit for… Perhaps it’s time for a re-read while I’m busy trying not to overthink some major decisions. But you know, as long as change is finally and indeed coming, I find I am content.

P.S.
As always, feel free to check out my Instagram for the latest adventures!

P.P.S.
You may have noticed a change in my Instagram name – all part of a new venture I hope to share very soon!

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Life Lately: Spring Madness

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Arizona

I’ve decided not to issue any apologies for being away for a month, or for totally failing to stick to any sort of schedule in this space. I am sorry that I haven’t had time to keep up with posts – to read, enjoy, or interact with my virtual buddies. I’ve really missed that more than anything, but I suppose in some cases catching up in fits and starts has it’s advantages (e.g., when there’s a serial-style story going on and you get to binge).

Spring here in the desert is often short and chaotic; so far this year has not been any different. The wildflowers erupted into a riot of color most people wouldn’t believe possible here in the desert, and we’ve been lucky in that the green has stuck around just a bit longer than usual. There was a week there in March where temps reached almost 100 and everyone seemed to think we were done for! Luckily a windstorm blew through and cooled things down just a bit. Some places have that last minute snowstorm, but here we just get a summer preview! I expect it to be a long, hot summer here in Arizona this year, and I’m not looking forward to it – at all.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Arizona

My life has also been a riot of chaos these last couple of months. Work has been absurdly busy (especially for the time of year), I’ve had ongoing health issues, and I was without a phone for a few weeks (the last being the worst of the three I think – #firstworldproblems).

All I will say about work is that it’s work. Any thoughts or feelings beyond that are better left for my private journal or perhaps another day. The health stuff is a combination of work stress and biological quirks – not fun, but also not life threatening. I’m really grateful to be one of the ones with good health insurance and awesome doctors. I think of that every time I go – just how lucky I am to be able to access top grade health care. But that’s also another story for another day, maybe.

The phone thing though, I will share (likely in more detail than anyone cares to know). Back around the holidays, my phone screen randomly cracked. I didn’t drop it and I hadn’t dropped it (at least not recently), but crack it did. Given my undying love for my particular phone (and the fact that it’s been discontinued – don’t even get me started on that), I opted for screen repair. Half a new phone later, the screen was whole again. Then a week later, the phone stopped vibrating. Now I can’t tell you what my ringer sounds like, but I can hear that bad boy vibrate from a building over (sad but also true). So in it went again – luckily the part was covered by warranty – and we were in vibrating business once again.

Until I noticed last month that my power button didn’t work right. Closer inspection revealed that the precious, uncracked screen appeared to be popping out of the frame. So back to the repair shop we went – where they told me the battery was expanding (!!!) and pushing things out of place. They ordered a new battery and I got to suffer through two weeks of waiting (the first battery was mysteriously “lost” in transit). I could see notifications pop up on the screen, but I couldn’t unlock the phone or reply. I can’t decide if that was better or worse than no phone at all – probably better, as at least I still had a watch of sorts. Anyway, they eventually replaced the battery and we’re like new again! I sincerely hope that’s the last problem for my dear phone because as far as I’m concerned we’re working on a three strikes you’re replaced situation here. And that would just be tragic for all involved parties…

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Arizona

So there you go – terribly exciting story, no? It sums up my life pretty well at the moment. (ha!) I suppose I can say that while my laptop was my only connection to the outside world I did manage to get moving on some personal goals. Those have pretty much taken up my limited non-sleeping personal hours, but I think they will benefit all of us in the long term. I need a change for the better – all around.

P.S.
While I may not show up in this space as much as I’d like, I’ve had better luck with consistency over on Instagram – feel free to follow along there for more frequent randomness! 🙂

P.P.S.
Photos are from Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (AZ).

Anxiety Advice

Recently, I shared my own mental health story with you guys. That was a difficult post to hit publish on, but I’m glad I did. Today I thought I’d share a few of the different methods I personally use to control my anxiety in particular. Most of these have the added benefit of helping with my depression and/or fibromyalgia, which makes them all win/win/win in my book!

yoga mat, Mindfulness in Plain English

1.  Diet & Exercise: Above and beyond anything else, changing my diet has made the biggest difference in the way I feel. I didn’t make any immediate or drastic changes, but rather I started with the small things – for example, I drink one caffeinated drink in the morning before switching to water or herbal tea for the rest of the day. Cutting out the excess caffeine cuts down on the anxiety and drinking more water keeps me better hydrated. Fun side note – I’ve discovered that no matter what’s wrong with me, drinking water helps 99% of the time. Turns out dehydration can cause all sorts  of chaos I’d never known about, but luckily I’ve discovered the secret to “drowning” it out – haha.

Exercise is the next best treatment. Let me be frank here, I hate exercising for a purpose. I don’t enjoy pushing my body to its limits, particularly if it’s just to meet some arbitrary social standard. I can, however, get behind the whole deal if it makes me feel better. So, I walk – a lot. I also start most mornings with 20-30 minutes of yoga. I hike on the weekends whenever possible. All of these gradually keep my body strong but also have the added benefit of soothing me mentally. You have to find those things you enjoy, that make you happier, that aren’t an even bigger challenge to you than the worry you’re trying to combat in the first place! The most important thing is to keep moving.

2. Meditation: Of everything on this list (with the exception of talk therapy), this is the one that’s hardest for me. If you suffer from anxiety/depression/etc., spending “quiet time” in your own mind seems like an oxymoron. There are all sorts of apps out there now that assist with meditation (the free version of Headspace is awesome by the way), but none of those are necessary. Do a bit of background research – there are all sorts of different ways to meditate. You can do the version that follows a voice (aka guided meditation; your breath (aka breathing meditation); a sound (like a gong, mantra, etc.); a candle / light of some sort; or any one of many other versions. You have to find what works for you!

I’m going to share a secret with you today that really helped me. When I first tried meditation, none of these worked for me. I was just too distracted and more often than not, I ended up more frustrated at the end of the 10 minutes than when I started. Then someone told me about an exercise that can help – a warm up if you will to prepare yourself for a more traditional form of meditation.

For 10-15 minutes a day, leave your phone in the other room, turn off the tv and any other electronic distractions, put your book down, find a quiet place free of interaction with any distraction, and just sit with yourself. Let the thoughts come, but don’t argue with them – just notice what they are. There will likely be boredom and a bit of panic, but sit through it.  If you can help it, don’t daydream or allow yourself to focus too long on any one topic – let your mind run the gamut. It’s an incredibly difficult exercise that often doesn’t feel as worthwhile as it is. You see, once you’ve done this often enough, you become familiar with yourself and the thoughts you might typically encounter. So when you venture into a more typical form of meditation, you know what to expect – the thoughts, the feelings, etc. – so there are less surprises. You’re better prepared to view them dispassionately and to just let them pass on a more subconscious level. it takes the pressure off and allows for a more relaxed meditative state. And there’s nothing quite so nice as a 10-minute break from yourself… (smile)

3.  Essential Oils: This one is my favorite. You can use essential oils in a number of ways – aromatically, topically, internally, etc. I will say that they do take a fair amount of research though. First you need to find a reputable place to buy them as they are not all created equal. I can make some recommendations, but the biggest things to look is where the oil comes from (not every plant on this earth should be grown in the U.S.) and it’s Latin name. These two indicators generally give you a good idea of quality. The ranking in the descriptions isn’t regulated, so it’s hard to depend on. And quality becomes a really important factor if you decide to use the oils topically or internally.

Aromatherapy is my personal favorite. I have a couple diffusers set throughout my home. Depending on how I feel, I mix and match the oils to get the effect I want. At first I didn’t believe this would work, but even in my darkest mood, certain smells can make me happy. Some days it even makes me a bit non-plussed at how well this works, but it does work, so I can’t really complain! Find what works for you and go with it – everyone has a different preference.

Topically and internally are a bit trickier for essential oils. It’s almost never a good idea to apply an oil directly to the skin or to put it on your tongue. In both cases the oils should be mixed. For topical application, a carrier oil (coconut, argon, grapeseed, etc.) is used to dilute the essential oil. Likewise for internal use the oil should be mixed with water, juice, etc. In both cases there are some oils that are just no go. For example, wintergreen is one of my favorite smells, but can be quiet poisonous if applied to the skin or taken internally (improperly, which it almost always is outside of candy, etc.). It’s really important to do your research.

4.  Vitamins / Supplements: Other than diet and exercise, I’ve noticed the most long-lasting and consistently positive results from taking a specialized cocktail of vitamins and supplements. The vitamins involved, the brands, the dosage, all of that has been a series of trial and error, but luckily my doctor was there to help me through it all. If I miss a day of any one of these I don’t immediately notice a difference, but I try not to miss more than one a week. It seems like vitamins and supplements really need to be taken consistently to be most effective. My blend comes from both my doctor’s recommendations and my own independent research. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on the holistic journey, it’s how to research. (smile)

I will say that much like essential oils, this can be a tricky treatment option. In the U.S., vitamins and supplements aren’t regulated like prescription drugs. This means that products vary wildly and there are no consistent standards across brands. Furthermore, some vitamins can have negative interactions with prescription drugs. Allergic reactions can also occur. For all of these reasons and so many more, it’s incredibly important to discuss any vitamins or supplements you may consider taking. At the very least you should ensure that your doctor and pharmacist are aware of which ones you take regularly so they can warn you of any possible interactions. I’ve found both to also be good sources for finding reliable brands and for figuring out the proper dosage. And that brings up another point – most vitamins and supplements contain way more of an item than you may need. In some cases, taking the recommended dosage from the bottle can even lead to an overdose for your system! Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions of those in the know.

5.  Therapies – Talk & Massage: Of all these options, therapy of any sort is my least favorite. I’m uncomfortable talking about the cause of all these issues, especially in being pressed on ways to change the situation. I also get really tired of hearing the same advice over and over. I’ve studied enough psychology in school to know the basic techniques and frankly not only are the conversations uncomfortable, sometimes they can also be downright boring. It’s like repeating a conversation I’ve already had in my head a thousand times out loud – it can be frustrating. I also have a bad tendency to tell the person what they want to hear in order to avoid deeper conversation. Because of this tendency, this is usually one of my first confessions to the good doctor. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when they then later fail to realize this is what I’m doing. But that’s neither here nor there – the important point is to find someone you like. In order for talk therapy to be useful, you really have to connect with the person you’re talking to. My favorite therapist was someone who would totally call me on my BS – it perturbed me at first, but then I really grew to appreciate her style. Those sessions with her have been the most productive of any of them, and I always feel better after.

Massage therapy may be a bit of a surprise, as most people enjoy massage. I, however, don’t like to be touched – particularly by strangers. The idea of stripping down and having hands all over me does not, therefore, really rock my boat. However, must like the talk therapist, you just have to find someone you connect with. I still get really tense, but I’ve found that focusing the massage only on certain areas really helps relieve and limit the tension. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot about float therapy, where you float in a pod of saline water. I haven’t tried it – yet – but it’s definitely on my radar. I’ll let you know how that goes!
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You’ll notice that these are holistic options – that’s because drug therapy is so unique to each individual. I’m not a doctor and so I have zero basis for recommending any one drug over another. And in all cases, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about any therapy you wish to integrate into your treatment, particularly if it involves a major life change.

Anxiety Advice: A Holistic Approach to Dealing with Anxiety

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Confounded Anxiety

Please note that this is my personal story about dealing with mental health issues. All opinions are my own and unique to my story. Everyone and every situation is unique; as such treatment options vary and one should not be considered superior to the other in any way. Help is help. Help is good.

Irish coast

Off and on throughout my life I’ve dealt with depression. It came and went and came again depending on the circumstances of my life. Once in a while I would get anxious, but it was situation-dependent – a big test, a presentation, a difficult conversation, etc.  It was “normal.”

In law school, I began having panic attacks. These were stress-induced and given my life circumstances at the time, considered, if not normal, then not surprising. It was the first time I ever received medication treatment for my depression, and it was such a relief! I had resisted drug therapy for so long due to the social and familial stigma associated with such treatment. For the first time in my life, it occurred to me that no one needed to know – simple as that. It was one of the best decisions I made during that time period in my life.

After graduation, I moved out to Arizona and re-booted my life. The change of scenery seemed to be exactly what I needed and for several years I was fine, “normal” in my ups and downs. Then, as seems to happen, a series of unfortunate events occurred and I found myself back at the doctor’s office. Only this time it wasn’t only for depression. Anxiety had crept into my daily life like a thief, stealing all joy and hope. I could counter any positive thought with ten “what-ifs” or “buts.” In an effort to hide my suffering and to spare others my negativity, I also hid my thoughts. I would smile as friends tried to put a positive spin on a situation. I’d even go so far as to agree, to say the words they needed to hear to think I was alright. Every time I did this I robbed myself of comfort and my friends of the truth – I became a thief in my own right and to my own detriment.

By the time I sought professional help, I was having anxiety attacks. I find them to be subtly different from panic attacks, mainly in that I could see the former building while the latter generally took me by surprise. The same chest-crushing, end-of-the-world feelings were present for both.

I returned to my anti-depressants as if reuniting an old friend. The effect was profound and comforting. I discussed several options with my doctor for treating my anxiety and after much trial and error we finally determined an as-needed prescription would be my best option. The side effects of anti-anxiety medication can be overwhelming; in my case most drugs I tried were worse than dealing with the anxiety itself. Reading about the different options was discouraging to say the least – most anti-anxiety drugs also seemed to double as treatment for other illnesses;  few seemed made for the express purpose of treating anxiety.

Around this same time, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Doctors still don’t understand what causes fibromyalgia, but the consensus seems to think it’s normally triggered by a severe illness, a physical trauma (car accident, etc.), or prolonged exposure to severe stress. I fell solidly into the third category. My experience with FM is for another post, but I will say that the anger I felt about it all wasn’t helpful. I couldn’t help but think it was my own fault for landing myself in all of this – the choices I made led to these consequences. There was no one else to blame, so I took it all upon myself. Luckily, I was already seeking treatment for depression when this occurred or I shudder to think what might have happened.

I bring up fibromyalgia because it slots in so snugly with my mental health issues – does depression and anxiety cause FM or does FM cause depression and anxiety? It’s very much a chicken/egg sort of thing, which can make treatment tricky. The drugs for FM weren’t much better than the anti-anxiety options (in my opinion), so I decided to look into holistic options. Fortunately, I had a doctor who was open to that and helped me work through the various options. We finally settled on a holistic treatment plan that was best for me with very satisfactory results. The added benefit is that the treatment options selected also helped greatly with my anxiety – talk about a win/win!

It’s been decided that I will likely stay on my current anti-depressant indefinitely (or so long as it continues working). It treats the depression effectively and also seems to assist with some of the FM symptoms. Unfortunately, it can also cause anxiety to worsen. To combat that I do have an as-needed option to use in those situations where necessary. Otherwise, I try to take a very holistic approach to treatment. Most days this works really well, other days it doesn’t seem to help at all. You win some, you lose some.

What mostly frustrates me these days is the timing of it all – if I’m really excited about something such as an event or a trip, I can almost guarantee anxiety will swoop in to steal at least some of the joy. If it’s a concert, the crowds bother me. If it’s travel, it might be turbulence or a creepy person following me or lost luggage, etc. (basically all the parts of travel that make it an adventure). Most of the time I can foresee this and I try to maintain a mental grip. I have to work a little harder to find joy in the activity, but I do. I refuse to let the thief get everything. But again, I’m not always successful; sometimes anxiety wins. Dealing with that disappointment, learning not to blame myself when this happens, these are my new challenges. I know that I have other options to treat the anxiety. Treating myself with grace and kindness, however, is something I must learn to do for myself. There is no drug for self-love.

I share my story today in hopes that it might somehow benefit others. The attitudes about mental illness are a huge part of the problem and need to change. I can no more control my depression or anxiety than I could a cold or flu. I can, however, seek medical attention to help just the same. If we can accept treatment for one without stigma, then why not the other?

In the last year or so I’ve really tried to open up and share my experiences with my friends. It was so incredibly uncomfortable at first, but now it’s just another part of our conversation. I didn’t let it become a big deal and after a while, my friends realized it didn’t need to be. It’s opened up another level of conversation to us – it allows both sides the freedom to discuss parts of our life that we might otherwise keep hidden. It’s a safe space between us, which I have found to be invaluable, particularly on the bad days. I would like this blog to likewise be a safe space – for me to include my struggles in the conversation, but also for anyone else who might need to share in the comfort of knowing they are not alone.

You are not alone.

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Life Lately: Journeys

I feel like journeys have become a theme in my life lately. From the literal to the spiritual, I have traveled many miles these last few weeks. I don’t feel tired so much as dazed, like my mind hasn’t been able to process it all quite yet.

There was a 3-day journey to Wyoming for work. Normally I love Wyoming, but as most of this trip was spent in a conference room it wasn’t quite the same. On the last day the snow came. It was absolutely gorgeous and as crazy as it sounds, I wish I’d had a day to enjoy it. Instead it was a slightly nerve-wracking drive back to the airport and a very bumpy flight back down to Arizona.

Frost covered trees in Cheyenne Wyoming

A very few short days later I was packed and off on another very bumpy flight – this time to Ireland. I think I’ll save the particulars for another post, but let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the trip I’d envisioned. In hindsight it was educational, as I knew it would be. At the time it was a combination of beauty and anxiety. An apt summary of my life. Overall, I enjoyed the trip and don’t regret it for a moment. It was something that I needed to do and I met some truly amazing people. Ireland is by far the friendliest country I’ve ever been to – the people are curious in their own way (but always willing to share their own story), always willing to lend a hand, and upbeat in a way that’s difficult to find these days. The country’s not without it’s issues, but I found it to be inspiring in its attitude.

I’ve also found myself on a less literal, though somehow connected, spiritual journey. I mentioned some time ago that I took a course last fall in intuitive studies. It’s all very new age-y, and I roll my eyes at myself when I try to describe it to other people. However, when I’m there, in that group energy, I feel at peace – I know it’s where I need to be. So this spring I signed up for a course on shamanism. Where the first course was fun, upbeat, and inspiring, this one is very… self-evolving. I feel like the best kind of martini – shaken up. We’re half-way through the course now and I feel like there’s something there, just on the other side of some imaginary mirror – if only I could just see through to the other side, I know it would be life-changing…

Poulnabrone Dolmen County Clare Ireland

So much of all of these journeys is a lack of dedicated time on my part to process them. I find myself running desperately on to the next thing as though afraid of what might happen if I just sit and think for more than 5 minutes at a time. I fear this space for the same reason – if I sit and write, what might come out? I’ve come to the realization that there’s a certain level of fear in my life that makes me feel comfortable – I’ve acclimatized to it. Any more or any less brings on the anxiety. I can see the changes to be made, yet I hesitate – what if things go wrong, or even more concerning, what if things go right? Either way I’ll be forced beyond my comfort bubble, forced to be responsible.

Right now I feel as though I’m standing on the edge of a deep chasm. The jump to the other side is really just a mere hop – and the entire Universe is on my side, just waiting to assist should it be needed. When my desire for change outweighs my fear, I’ll make the leap. I’ll move on to the next phase and find a new bubble. The process will likely repeat. There’s a certain comfort in that knowledge alone. But as I grow older I find myself standing at those edges longer and longer, worrying instead of leaping. If there’s any part of my 20-year-old self I wish I could recapture, it would be her fearlessness, her I’ll-figure-it-out-as-I-go attitude towards life. Damn the consequences.

Damn consequences.

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Life Lately: Winter Thoughts

Baby Nephew in Santa Hat

My nephew ❤

As some of you may have noticed, I took most of the month of December off from blogging. It was partially because I was just so busy with work and the holidays but I also realized I’d lost my spark.

I was mostly down to personal and photography posts – and only one of those showed my full heart. Then something happened that had potential to out this little space of mine to people I know in real life and I realized I had to take a step back. So, that’s what I did – I took some time off from blogging, social media, and the internet in general (excepting Amazon of course, which I frequented a little too often…). I needed time to think about my purpose in continuing this blog and the possibility of starting another. There are so many things I want to write about that don’t really fit this space. But I’ve decided that for now, I don’t care. If I want to write about it, up it goes. Those who want to read it can, and those who don’t can skip over it. Maybe if any one topic starts to dominate I’ll reconsider my options, but for now I want to just let this space be what it will be without worry. Same goes for those in real life people – if they find me, so be it. I don’t want that to change how I feel about this space I’ve grown to love so much.

Log splitter in trees

Random wood-splitter abandoned in the woods (“Just a little too ironic…”)

All that said, I have decided to begin a project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time now – a proper photography website/blog. It’s currently under construction, but I’m sure I’ll be sharing it in time. A lot of the content will likely overlap, but my plan is to feature more photography over there and more words over here. We’ll see how it works out. Can I just tell you though how excited I am about this?! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time but have never felt confident in my work or my ability to keep it updated properly. But it finally occurred to me that if I don’t try, then I’ll never really know – so try I shall!

The last couple of weeks have been spent mostly focused on this Ireland trip. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a trip since my first study abroad adventure – and that was over 13 years ago! (And can I just ask – where does the time go?!? Wow…) I need some time away and to myself. I’m excited about the photo potential, of course, but I’m most excited about having 7 beautiful days to do whatever I want as the mood strikes. No work, no social obligations, no normal responsibilities. I’m the only one I have to concern myself with, and as selfish as that may sound, it’s also something I desperately need. I see this trip as the ultimate self-care indulgence and I’m not the least bit sorry for it. (smile)

Macro tree bark

Deep thoughts – if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

I’ve realized over the last several months just how important self-care can be – on all levels. Last fall, I signed up for an intuitive studies class. As an example of what that means, some of the classes focused on psychic abilities and others on mediumship – exercises for the intuition if you will.  I believe I’ve mentioned before that I was a religious studies minor in college – any and all types of religion fascinate me – and I like to continue that education in any way that calls to me. All that to say, I stumbled upon this course and suddenly knew I had to go. Listening to my gut and showing up to class was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long, long time. Whether you believe in the details behind the practices or not, the class was a wonderful opportunity to get in tune with myself. I learned to trust my instincts and not discredit feelings in favor of societal pressures. It has been so freeing!! And on top of it all, I met an amazing group of like-minded individuals who I am so happy to call my tribe. (Trendy, hipster word that may be, but in this instance it’s apt so I’m using it.) As a result of all this, I’ve been undergoing a period of self-reflection, facing some hard truths, and finding monumental positivity through it all. I’d like to share more about this on here, so I guess you can consider this your fair warning. (smile) All I ask is that everyone keep an open mind – you never know what you might discover!

I’d say everything else is on par. I went through some scary moments with my health at the end of last year, but I feel like I’m back on track now with a better idea of how to stay there. I’ve decided that I’m perhaps better off not discussing work for the moment, so I’m going to leave those updates out for the foreseeable future. I go, it goes – that’s about all there is to say anyway. Life is an interesting thing…