Archives for category: Oregon Trails

It’s a simple message. It doesn’t require a lot of words. It doesn’t take any fancy equipment, or elaborate planning or preparation. Just go outside. Get up, step away from the computer, or the television, and put your head – and your thinking – outside the confines of this space.

It’s a challenge, I know, but don’t let yourself drown in the bullshit and drama – even at the congressional level. lol Once you’ve read the coverage once, there’s no special value or extra credit for reading each re-hash of all of those same details. Seriously. News outlets are trying to make money, generate clicks, views, likes, and put their advertisers in front of your eye holes. Advertisers want to sell products. The end goal does not happen to be either truth or accuracy, and it is important to be aware of that.

Go outside.

This is outside.

I’m just saying that there is value in new perspective. There is value in fresh air, sunshine, and even walks in rain showers. There are moments yet left to live – to really live – and most of those don’t happen to become what they could be, seated at a computer, fingers poised over the keyboard, or eyes vague and unfocused as brain candy trickles into one’s visual field.

Also outside.

Some of us don’t have the easy option to “just go outside”, due to physical limitations, illness, literal confinement… things. So – if you’re not in one of those limiting situations, how silly is it to waste the chance? No fooling – the chance to go outside may not exist “forever” (very few things do)… so… What are you waiting for? Get up. Move around a bit. Go outside. Self-imposed isolation has some potentially very unhealthy elements, and…well… outside there are flowers blooming, clouds hanging decoratively overhead or sweeping across the sky, birds, bees, butterflies… There are some lovely sights to see, and paths to wander.

Yep. Outside.

Of course, I write these words speaking from a certain privilege, and I don’t mean to; I’m not plagued by allergies, and I’m still pretty comfortably able to walk, and I don’t immediately burn to a crisp at any hint of exposure to the sun, and… well… I like it outside. lol So, if you have terrible allergies, hate the sun entirely or just crisp up immediately, or can’t put weight on your feet at all, or loathe being outdoors… well, shit. Then I sound like a clueless dick, because I’ve overlooked that we are each having our own experience, and that isn’t at all what I’ve meant to do. Perhaps, instead of going outside, you can distract yourself from the delights of the glowing screen in front of you with a good book, or a conversation with a living person in your actual space, or learn bonsai, or grow a wee container garden, invent a calorie-free-eco-groovy-healthy gummy bear, or… something other than this strange alien digital connection that pumps pre-processed information into your brain by way of your eyes and ears, requiring only that you sit there quietly, scrolling, clicking, viewing, and liking?

That’s really what I am getting at, I think; don’t just let your life pass, sitting there quietly receiving pre-processed, re-hashed, unchallenged information! Make actual use of all the squishy bits stuffed into your cranium! There is a fairly profound difference between “finding stillness within”, by the way, and just sitting still, facing your screen. These are not at all related things.

So.

Go outside. Go outside your comfort zone. Go outside your normal thinking. Go outside your usual routine. Go outside your safe feeling space. Go outside your expectations. Go the fuck outside before the whole of your life is wasted on repetition and distraction. Live your life such that there is something to be distracted from, in the first place. πŸ™‚

This is outside, too.

You know that thing you want to do? Why not go do that? Get a start on it at least, start doing the homework, laying the groundwork, learning all of the things…

How about that stuff you want to know more about… maybe a language you have always wanted to learn, or a place you’ve considered traveling, or something that has always interested you, that you’ve not yet acted on? That’s a nice start, too.

What’s holding you back? Probably the same stuff that holds me back – that holds each of us back; there are verbs involved. Effort. Will. Commitment. The requirement to begin it.

So… ?

Definitely outside.

I sip my cold coffee, wiggling my cold toes in the morning chill. I opened the windows and patio door to cool down the apartment this morning before I was awake enough to recognize that it would not be a warm day. I haven’t bother to close them; I am listening to bird song, feeling the meadow breeze, and watching the cottony gray clouds shift and roil overhead. I’ll finish here and then tidy up a bit; my schedule has changed some, to a later start time for the summer months. Shorter evenings, of course, but… longer leisurely mornings, which I love. I feel very unrushed, which I am enjoying rather a lot this morning. What will my perspective be on the other end of the day, I wonder?

It’s time to begin again… I think I’ll go outside. πŸ˜€

If each birthday were a new beginning, a moment of re-birth, an awakening, a start on a journey, a moment of profundity, or simply a break from the being we once had been which opens us to being the being we would soon become… would we grow faster?

…But isn’t it? I mean, it could be, couldn’t it? Is that a choice we make? When we’re very young we eagerly look ahead to milestones marked by years… The year we’re promised high heels, or make-up, or a firearm, or dating, or a trip somewhere exotic, or the year we graduate, or get to vote for the first time, or ride a bicycle, or buy a car, or a house, or get married, or have a child… each a big deal, anticipated, considered, maybe yearned for and planned around – are these not re-births of a sort? A new beginning, a change of heart or thinking so profound that “the course of our life” is altered in ways that seem subjectively obvious, and also unexpected? We begin again, so many times…

I took a journey down a road I’d never traveled, predictably it lead me somewhere I’d never been.

My birthday weekend was amazing, and connected, and shared, and human, and delicious with wonder, and adventure. It was eye-opening. It was romantic. It was practical. It was peculiarly wholesome – for some values of wholesome – and it “took me places” I hadn’t thought to travel previously. I’m glad I went. I’m glad I “said yes” to the moment and immersed myself in a something strangely new, made up, as it was, of so much that was entirely familiar.

The music festival weekend was likely not at all as planned by the event organizers. It was cold. When we arrived a freezing rain was falling. It was wet. The rain fell, on and off, all weekend long. It was blustery. I personally helped catch, retrieve, and right 3 different canopies and 1 tent over the 3 days I was there. There was rather of a lot of odd drama which seemed both unexpected and tedious, but it was such a small part of the experience the recollection will likely fade quickly. I met a lot of new people, and I got to hang out with my Traveling Partner and a friend while they did their thing out there in the world. I listened to some great music – and I listened to that music so loud, so bass-heavy, so entirely encompassing that the ground shook with it – for 2 days, from noon to 6 am. No kidding. Sleep was a very new experience in that environment. My dreams didn’t suffer from it, but I made the drive home in silence, listening only to my tinnitus and the sound of the wind along the way. Β The people who came to the event, who stayed through the wind and weather, brought with them a sense of community that I’m still wowed by. The best part? New friends – and time well-spent wrapped in love, just hanging out with my Traveling Partner for a couple days. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

I’m still smiling. It’s Monday night, tomorrow I get back to the office, back to the routine of meetings, calls, emails, spreadsheets, summaries, recommendations, task processing, and commuting. I feel pretty okay with that, sitting here this evening. I smile, thinking about my Traveling Partner. I think about the weekend. I think about his visit this afternoon. I think about shared goals, and the dovetailing of individual goals that is so tidy that even those feel shared; a partnership of equals.

I’m taking a quiet moment at the end of the day to wish the woman in the mirror a happy birthday. This one definitely feels like the beginning of something wonderful, and if nothing else it is enough that the weekend and the day were themselves quite wonderful. Really nothing more is required, it’s all quite enough. 54? Yes, I am. ❀

Doesn’t much matter where I am right now; there is a next step ahead of me on my path. No matter how many choices I have made, already, there is another ahead of me. Approximately infinite. Life definitely gives the impression that the actual living of it is the point of life, no further point, meaning, or necessity required… and, if this is true, then so long as I am indeed living my life, I have succeed at finding – and meeting – my purpose. πŸ˜€

What a nice thought to wake up to. πŸ™‚

I am contemplating my upcoming birthday, which has amusingly skittered way off of any attempt at original planning, and the things I had planned and looked forward are no longer expectations, although they rather strangely still linger on my calendar; I hesitate to remove them, not wanting hurt feelings… or… well, why exactly? lol I take a moment to clean up my calendar – because it is mine, and I actually use it; it matters to me that it guide me like a map of my future journey, as much as it ever can. πŸ™‚

My weekend looks very different than I’d planned it. My Traveling Partner’s commitment to spending my birthday weekend with me later became a request to accommodate other plans he wanted to make, and our time dwindled to just two brief events framing the long weekend (of course I am taking time for me!) Then, the phone call from the road last week, and a question – would I like to come out to a place, and spend the weekend with him…? We live rather separate lives in some regards, and the invitation caught me by surprise – I had to ask myself that question, separately from hearing it in his voice. Would I want to spend a weekend at a music festival in a remote location hanging out with this human being so dear to me – and like, many hundreds (more?) additional other humans that I don’t know? Um…

Maybe?

I sat quietly after we got off the phone, considering years of weekend Renaissance fairs – a different era of my life, and I admit, it went from delightfully fun, exciting, and reliably great times hanging out with friends to stressed, rushed, hurried, pressured, too broke, too much, too often, no down time, no “me time”, no privacy, no time to think, no quiet to recover in… and… the relationship I was in at that time couldn’t do much to lift me up or ease the strain. I was doing most of the “heavy lifting”, literally, financially, and logistically, and I grew… tired. Want to know why I gave up weekend road trips, weekend travel, and weekend event fun of all sorts? Because I got tired of doing all the planning, all the preparation, and all the work getting to/from and handling clean up at home afterward, too, and not just for me – for everyone in the household. It was too much to ask, and I continued to do it long after I’d begun to resent it, didn’t really speak up about it, and didn’t have the skills for setting clear expectations and reinforcing boundaries then, that I have (think I have) now. I just stopped doing it as the only way I could take care of me that I understood then, problem solved.

I’m not even in that relationship anymore. So… Fuck yeah, I want to head to the trees, hear some great music, and hang out with this delightful human being so dear to me! πŸ˜€ I happily accepted.

There’s not much for me to plan here; the event exists and is a thing. My Traveling Partner and his traveling friend/colleague have logistics handled; this is their thing. I still need to know things. (A hilarious conversation on its own, including such witty repartee as “What do I need to bring?” “Wear clothes. Bring the clothes you want to wear, be prepared for cold nights.”) As I inquired what I may need to do or bring or when I need to be ready… I started feeling stressed about the trip itself. Where am I going?? What will happen when I get there? Where do I go? How will I find…? What will I be expected to do, bring, carry, be responsible for…??? What the hell is going on with my weekend??Β LOL

Instead of drama or wild emotion, I tried out some new adulting skills. I allow myself to experience the relief and delight of experiencing this weekend in the context of a partnership in which I am actually not responsible for every damned thing. I consider my own baggage and issues as things that I am indeed responsible for managing, and identify where my stress is coming from. Time. Work. Agency. I suggest that I travel separately to ease my time-based stress about being back to work on time (knowing they live on a very different sense of time/timing than I do – and also don’t have any pressure to “punch a clock” work-wise). My heart soared when my Traveling Partner seemed pleased that I would take that step to take care of myself, meeting my own needs without requiring him to rebuild his plans, or troubleshoot my experience. Win and good. They’ll likely depart sometime today. I’ll leave tomorrow – possibly after doing a load of laundry. I feel comfortable, content, and excited about the weekend. πŸ˜€

Wherever my path leads…

This is an adventure, and I am eager to see where it leads. I’ll be away for a few days… if you find yourself missing me, perhaps return to the beginning, and begin again? I’ll be back before you’re all caught up to now, I bet; it’s a lot of words. πŸ˜€

It’s already Monday, already time to get back to the routine routines, and the usual flow of activities of a busy work week. (Seriously? Already??) How is this so damned difficult? I stare into my half empty cup of not-quite-cold coffee and wonder if there is time for another.

All the windows are open to the morning chill. There’s a hot afternoon in the forecast and I am rethinking my choice of work clothes, too. Since I’ve been back from the forest, I’ve been notably less attentive to routines and habits, and existing more “casually”. It feels terrifically relaxed, but realistically may not be sustainable for me, with some of my persistent issues (memory challenges are what they are). I’ve misplaced my badge to get into the building at work… I think I may have left it in the car, which I’ve already dropped off at my Traveling Partner’s place. I grin at my oversight and shake my head. It’s a small thing, not worth becoming stressed over. (I can recall a time when even so small a thing would have sent me over the edge pretty reliably.)

My bare toes are cold, as the apartment cools down. The sweater I thought would be a good idea is still comfortable, but looking into the developing orange and hint of haze in the sky as the sun rises, the sweater is clearly in need of being reconsidered before I leave for work. Practical details. How is life so filled up with practical details and practical questions? How is there ever room left over for wonder or for mysteries? I’m astonished and amazed, and for just one moment wide-eyed with real appreciation for how much minutiae I do manage to keep track of moment-to-moment, day-to-day; life is busy.

What matters most?

I got the rest I needed this past weekend. I’m glad I took the time. This morning I look around my apartment – and my life – with “new eyes”, rested, refreshed, and open to change, and I see some things that are very much change-worthy and quite possibly overdue for it. It’s not always clear where some bit of alteration in life’s course may take things over time. Like a loose thread on a sweater, each dangling bit of something or other I might consider changing is connected with all of the details of my life; change one thing, and things are changed, generally. Pulling on that thread may have consequences as yet unconsidered. Still… change is. I can choose change, or I can allow it to be chosen for me by others, or by circumstances.

It’s an interesting journey, this life thing. I wonder where the next trail leads? The sun is up, it’s a Monday, and it’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

3 days, two nights, one purpose, and I return to my apartment by the park with sore feet, aching muscles, stiff joints, and a smile that Β won’t quit.

3 mosquito bites, two unexplained bruises, 1 blister over 17 miles of trails, and I shot more than 100 pictures, and spotted a rainbow’s worth of different wildflowers in bloom.

I reached my campsite and set up camp well before dusk settled in, on Wednesday evening. I managed more than 4 miles of hiking that evening, just getting my gear to the hike-in camping area, and exploring the nearest trails after making camp.

A coffee well-earned, an evening of quiet.

It rained most of the night, and I laid wakefully, contentedly listening to the rain fall, more than necessarily pleased that my tent doesn’t leak.

The rain-drenched morning didn’t quench my enthusiasm for the day ahead.

I spent Thursday meditating, after morning coffee and a short hike to stretch my legs, and didn’t do much else. I brought a journal to write in, and a notebook, a sketch pad and colored pencils for drawing, my camera, my kindle… and other than my camera, I didn’t touch any of the distractions I brought along to pass the time; I didn’t need them. Time passed just fine without any help from me. πŸ™‚

Given the necessary conditions, I bloom in my own time. It is often enough to sit quietly and allow the moment to unfold.

I spent Friday hiking, departing fairly early in the morning to walk a new path. The trail I chose was sufficiently challenging to push me, lovely enough to be utterly worth it without any other “reason” to go the whole distance, and totally within my ability. I returned to camp in the afternoon, got my boots off, put my feet up, and made coffee. Out among the trees, coffee doesn’t seem to keep me from sleeping, ever, however late I may be drinking it. I bet there’s something to be learned from that…

Where does my path lead? It’s helpful to have a map, but the map is not the world.

…Instead of learning anything about coffee, though, I learned something different. As campers arrived to fill nearby sites for the weekend, I learned that my needs were met, and that I was “done”. I learned that I didn’t really want to sit through a chilly evening overhearing loud conversations about corporate headaches, challenges with the kids’ teachers, or sports. I learned that I didn’t find value in enduring another camper’s choice to bring a generator into the forest for the weekend.

Ultimately, we each choose our own path…

I learned, this weekend, that it really is quite okay to make my choices my way, without any pressure from my own expectations, or anyone else’s; I broke camp late that afternoon, taking my time, packing up skillfully and efficiently without feeling at all rushed. I packed my gear out of the park (taking the same three trips it took to bring it down to the campsite in the first place), still smiling when the effort was completed. I let the park rangers know I was checking out, so they could release that camp site to another camper – it’s a great spot.

The beauty in the world exists whether or not I choose to observe it. My choice to observe the beauty in the world is necessary only to my own appreciation of it.

I got home before the sun set, unpacked enough gear to begin properly unpacking a bit at a time. First, a leisurely shower. A fresh salad. A hot cup of coffee. A moment to begin the upload of all the photographs. No music. No social media. No TV. Patio door open to the breezes and the sound of birdsong. A quiet evening, alone in the stillness, aside from a few minutes checking in with a friend from next door.

Roses blooming on the patio welcome me home, rain-drenched, fragrant, and lovely.

Yesterday I woke, still feeling fairly wrapped in my own purpose, and disinclined to be particularly social. I wrote a dear friend. I unpacked some things. I meditated. I gardened. It was a chilly gray day, and I enjoyed the morning with a crackling fire in the fireplace – which I might also have done if I had remained out in the trees another day. There seemed no urgency to connect to the digital world with any haste – no one was expecting me to, in any case. (Good expectation-setting for the win!) I watched the birds come and go from the feeder.

It was a lovely day of bird-watching.

Here it is, today. (Isn’t it always? πŸ˜‰ ) I figured I’d sleep in… I didn’t. I woke with the dawn. I figured I’d move purposefully down a long list of things I’d like to get done… also not happening, at least not so far. I sip my coffee, smiling softly, watching the birds at the feeder with my laptop balanced on my knees, writing from a slightly different perspective – though whether that is a matter of my laptop, a chilly morning, and cold coffee on the patio, or simply that my perspective remains altered by my time out in the trees is neither known, nor relevant to the experience.

What now? Just this. Isn’t it enough? πŸ™‚

A patio with a view.