Nevada Skies

We left Kippetje (did I tell you guys that we finally settled on a true name for our sweet little camper home? Kippetje- or Kippee for short- means “little chicken” in Dutch and it just feels right…now if we could just come up with the right name for our truck…) parked rather forlornly in the sandy side lot of a friend’s home in the desert east of Reno. We tried not to look back at the rearview mirror as we pulled away, Kippee’s light blue sides peeking out beyond the fence accusingly. It just felt so wrong to abandon her like this, to leave her in the hands of near strangers for months under the desert sun. 

I thought momentarily of the scene in the book Love With A Chance Of Drowning where they return to their stored sailboat to find that their canned goods had exploded at some point over the months and that their home was covered in unlivable filth. It was with that scene in mind that I’d scoured the camper for anything that might freeze or attract critters or otherwise not survive storage well, but as we drove away from Kippee, I worried again that I’d missed something, that we would return to her in February to irreparable damage. And the truth is, we just might. Things happen…the temperature variations in the desert and the intermittent sandstorms, the small creatures adept at squeezing through tiny gaps to find shelter, the simple neglect of sitting unused for nearly 5 months…it seems more likely than not that something will be in need of repair when we resume camper life. I have to fight the urge to worry, to call the friends storing her and ask for updates, to attempt to control all outcomes from my perch 3,000 miles away.

But this has been part of my work since we made the choice to sell our home in Maine, possibly my most important work. Learning to let go. Understanding on a visceral level the realities of impermanence and non-attachment. On some level, that understanding resides deep in my gut- one simply cannot survive cancer without having come face-to-face with the unavoidable truth of one’s own intrinsic impermanence. My nature, however, inclines me to hold on tightly-often too tightly- to people, to things, to ideas. It is my lifelong struggle to know when to pry my fingers, one white-knuckled digit at a time, from gripping the people and things I love with all of my might. There is some beauty in that grip, the fierceness with which I love my people often pulls the best parts of me to the surface, allows me to rise to be the friend, partner, sister, daughter that I aspire to be, to truly show up even when it’s hard, to support them even in the face of my own pain or grief. However, I would be lying not to admit that a big part of that grip stems directly out of a place of fear, the innate and primal terror of inevitable loss, and we all know that that sort of grip is stifling and unhealthy and tends not to serve anyone well.

Our choice to sell our home or relinquish most of our possessions is, by no means, the same letting go that is required when we lose a loved one. But I think of it as a step toward learning to make peace with change and the inevitable losses that balance the gains. The minimalism movement talks ad nauseum about the freedom that comes with ridding yourself of possessions. And sure, to some extent that’s obviously true (our journey would certainly be more complicated if we were trying to do this while also dealing with the expense and responsibility of storing our possessions or renting out our home). But I wish more of the folks leading that movement would talk a bit more about how damn hard that can be, how if you’ve already done the work of paring down the clear excesses in your life, letting go of more is truly heart-wrenching. I remember a conversation I had with a “hard-core” minimalist as we were beginning to set aside the minuscule percentage of our belongings to store while we journeyed. I commented that I obviously was going to keep and store my family photos and papers, things like my great-great-grandparents’ marriage certificate and the sepia toned images of my grandmother as a wide-eyed girl. My acquaintance made the dismissive remark that I’d get over that, to just scan them in and send the hard copies to the dump. I just stared at her in disbelief for a good long minute before likely saying something snarky about us clearly operating very differently. Some “things” are not really “things” at all. The brittle paper of that marriage certificate is hardly the point. It’s the faded ink of the signatures, the record of how their hands moved across the paper when they were so very young and strong, how the story of these humans I’ve never met leads directly to my own. That little rectangle of paper connects me to them with all of my senses- the feel of that fragile paper and its creases where it was stored in an envelope, the musty scent, the variation in the fountain pen ink, the small water stain in one corner, the ornate typeface that echoes of how things were done before computers or typewriters, the simple ability to touch and smell the very same piece of paper that they did so very many years ago. A scanned version simply wouldn’t do, wouldn’t affect me in the same way. I’m pragmatic, of course, and have scanned them all in, but that is for back-up, for safekeeping, not license to destroy my history. I’m digressing here (it’s hard to resist a tangent about minimalism or history…subjects on whose discourse I could spend days at a time), but the point is that with each step of this journey I have been faced with letting go of things I cherished, everything from furniture that Justin and I built together to my favorite teapot to my plants to the home and community that I just loved. Each time I bargained and tried to work around the letting go, gave the list of reasons that this one thing got to stay. And almost each time, I would eventually circle around to the truth that while I could justify hanging on and that there were good, valid reasons for doing just that, the cost would be too great- either directly interfering with the choice we’d made to journey or edging out other items that were more important to me.

And that has been at the heart of this learning to let go. It’s rarely a choice between a thing/experience/person that I want and one that I don’t. It’s learning to choose between the many things that are wonderful, the many things that I want with all my heart, of choosing what takes priority. I chose to let go of our home entirely and experience the uncertainty and fear and “all in” mentality of traveling without that safety net to return to. I miss it often, and the loss strikes me unexpectedly sometimes in such a punch-in-the-gut sort of way. But we would not have had the year that we’ve had nor the future we’re planning if we hadn’t let go and I can’t bring myself to regret the choice. We could have rented a large storage unit to hold all of our belongings while we traveled and I know that when we next make a more permanent home, I will be cursing having let go of some of what we will buy again. But even beyond the freedom from the financial burden that storage would have entailed, I grew tremendously from prying that death grip from my belongings and fully grasping the space it allowed for us to have this time be a true new beginning, to embark on a new era in our lives unencumbered by the trappings of the last one. 

As we drove away from Kippetje and left her well-being in hands not our own, my inherent resistance both amused and bemused me. How many times and how many ways must I learn the same lessons? We do what we can, we prepare and we do our work and we control the controllables. And at some point, things change or the unexpected happens or some factor that we hadn’t considered comes into play, and we get outcomes different from what we’d hoped or planned for. There is simply no escaping. Nothing is permanent. Why is it so impossible to fully grasp this? Not people, not belongings, not situations, not who we are or what is important to us. If we arrive at our friends’ house in February to find some kind of major issue with Kippee, well...we’ll figure it out. The me of just a few short years ago would never have been able to say that and really mean it. But after a year and a half of practice at letting go of all kinds of things I thought I couldn’t live without (my own shower, clear daily structure, workspace, etc), I recognize that this is just the truth of life in general. Prepare as best we can, make the best choices we can with the information we have, and then figure it out when things go awry. I will still worry for our little home here and there, but I can see ever more clearly how worry often creates a barrier that prevents me from fully engaging where I actually am. If I’m worrying about Kippee, then I’m mentally somewhere in Nevada expending energy to deal with things that haven’t actually come to pass, existing in some bizarre fantasyland, rather than being right here where I am dealing with what is actually happening around me, expending energy on the goals and projects and people that are real.

I suspect this won’t be the last time I dive into this work of letting go. Hell, it’s likely not the last time today that I work on it. And that’s okay, really. This is the work of life, after all, this learning how to love and be loved, how to stretch ourselves, how to set aside our egos and still make good use of our gifts, how to balance our lives in relationship to others, how to fight when a fight is what’s called for, how to release when it’s time to let go. It’s work that we must come back to over and over, circle around it to see all of the angles, crack ourselves open as we search for honesty and truth under layers of story and fear and vulnerability. It’s real work, true work. 

And so we turned away from Kippetje, from the rearview mirror for a bit, and looked out at the road before us, at the two lanes winding east under broad blue skies. Nevada isn’t a good place to hide. There’s no cover on those golden hills, nowhere to tuck away behind self-deception or doubt. As we aimed the truck toward Idaho and set the cruise control too fast, the cotton clouds rolled up into formation and we rolled the windows down, allowing that desert wind to set our hair flying as our outstretched hands rode the currents.

Forward, friends, under these Nevada skies.

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Home...Sort Of

We are home…sort of. We arrived in New Hampshire a few days ago and getting settled has been an utter whirlwind. We are staying with Justin’s parents, who have so generously opened their home to us and allowed our work routines and silly mutt and fragmented belongings to disrupt their laid-back retired lives. For the next three months, Justin’s childhood bedroom, the streets along which he learned to drive, the towns and highways and mountains of New England, will be our home once again.

It feels so odd in so many ways to be here. Our camper, home these last ten months on the road, feels far away as does the life we were leading up until crossing back to the eastern side of the grand ol’ Mississippi. Were we really in Wyoming just two short weeks ago? Did we really call the Sierra home for the last four months? Or have we been here in New England all along, having dreamt the whole adventure? Thankfully, there are threads that connect us back…a sweet and funny postcard from our dear friend Geoff (remember him from this trip?), a truck window full of stickers from the twenty national parks and monuments we’ve visited since January, journals brimming with sketches and notes from moments tucked in among towering trees or flowing water, hundreds upon hundreds of images shot along the way. And of course, the onslaught of cherished memories…the ways our lives have been touched irrevocably by the people we’ve met, the grandeur we’ve stood in the midst of. 

There are things about life on the road and in the camper that have been truly challenging for me, things I’ve touched upon but want to share more deeply here in the next months, because it’s important to recognize that travel and road life and tiny-space living is not all sunshine and roses (or mountaintops and micro-brew!), that the daily reality is not as glamorous as people often imagine. In just these few days of being in a real house (complete with a bathroom I don’t have to walk outside for, a shower I don’t have to wear flip-flops in, AN OVEN!), I am already relishing the luxuries large and small afforded by our current situation (and I haven’t even begun to soak in the fall leaves and Currier-& Ives-esque farm stands and apple-picking and town squares that come along with a New England autumn). I am eager to make the most of this time, these luxuries, and my gratitude is beyond words. 

But we’re not done yet. We will make the most of this lovely time here, the access to family and friends, to the ways home can make you feel, the creative spark that can come when you find a place of rest amidst the movement. But we’ve only begun our love affair with the west, with the serrated skylines of mountains we are only just beginning to know, with the wide seemingly-empty spaces between ranges. After years of promising ourselves more time outdoors, we have finally made good on it…over three full months of “vacation” time outside with so many more days enjoying the trails and rivers and mountains around where we’ve lived. We've quite likely had more time outdoors since January than we’ve had over the last 13 years together combined. That’s something.

So we’re home. Home in Justin’s childhood haven. Home in a region of the country that we truly love. Home to seasons we’ve missed. Home to people we’ve ached for. But we’ve left another home on the other side of the country. And another region we love. And other people we ache for. 

So we’re home…sort of. And that’s an adventure all on its own.

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I have just begun the process of sorting and editing the nearly 2000 images I shot on this last trip…I cannot wait to share them with you! Here’s the tiniest peek in the meantime...

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Artist Feature: Blaire Zika

One of the very best things about this life on the road is meeting people that we would never have met otherwise. And we stick around long enough to allow some of those meetings to turn into friendships. Blaire is one of those meetings. I wish I could say that I was cool about it, but I totally wasn’t (I never am, dammit)…I’d seen Blaire walking her sweet pup, Lucy, around our RV park and I have no idea if it was the confidence in her walk, her gorgeous tattoos, her fantastic style, or just her general mojo, but it’s distinctly possible (ahem) that I ran out to the street as she passed by our camper and asked her to be my lifelong friend. Yup. Totally cool. 

To Blaire’s credit (and courage), she didn’t run screaming from my awkwardness, and I have been bowled over by her in conversation after conversation ever since. Smart, compassionate, courageous, kind, funny as hell, and committed to simply and honestly moving through this life in the very best way she knows how, I cannot even begin to capture her many dimensions.

And on top of all of her other virtues, Blaire is a extraordinary artist. 

She has a show coming up here in Reno next week and I have been fascinated by the work and energy and preparation that goes into such an endeavor. In the midst of all that work, Blaire graciously agreed to allow me to photograph and interview her and I am so excited to share her words and her work and her amazing smile with you!

What is your art background…have you been formally educated or are you self-taught or some combination of both?

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a "doodler.” I can remember teachers in elementary, middle and high school initially becoming upset with me because they felt I was not engaged in the class. During the progression of the year, my teachers began to understand that doodling helped me to process information. I never had to focus on the doodles or sketches, rather they just seemed to create themselves. What I discovered was my ability to think through questions or thoughts that were on my mind. I understood from a young age that my artistic, creative outlet was highly therapeutic.

My first year of college I took an art class and I HATED it!!! I remember feeling super frustrated around the concept of “grading” someone’s art. I dropped the class by the second week and never looked back. I never wanted to feel that my creative outlet was being critiqued for a grade. I understand the judgement (for lack of a better term) that will accompany my first art show: my art isn’t for everyone. From an art show perspective, at least my work will be judged from an artist platform perspective and not from an instructor ensuring that I am following a rubric.

What medium(s) do you most enjoy? 

I most enjoy pen and paper. My art is deeply intricate and the precision I can achieve with my pen and paper is where I like to play the most. I will  incorporate liquid acrylic into my pieces from time to time, but on rare occasion. 

Have you always considered yourself a creative person?

As I mentioned above, yes. I have always felt that I am a creative being. I have a deep appreciation and respect for all art. I consider anyone’s self expression art. How people choose to share themselves with the world is art. I love all of it.

Can you tell us a little about your process?

My art usually follows moments or events in my life when I am feeling blocked from progressing forward. When I feel the need to really sit down and process and work through an aspect of my life, art is how I make that progress happen. I am able to sit with my sketch pad for hours upon hours without having to think of anything other than what is weighing me down. I always have music playing, music is my lifeline. I light some incense…ambiance is so important to me. Feeling comfortable in my space allows me the freedom to release myself from the world and slip into a sacred space of healing and creating. 

Generally speaking, where do you tend to draw your inspiration from?

I just begin. I don’t try to get in the way of my art or manipulate it in any way. I just allow it to become what it is meant to become. People may assume that because my art is a tool to support me through my grief, that I draw inspiration from it, but that isn’t the case. Rather, I find inspiration to live as a result of my art. 

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Your upcoming show is called Reflections of Now and was created during an intensely personal period in your life. Can you share what aspects of that period inspired this particular work and what effect creating this art had/continues to have on you? 

Reflections of Now is a collection of artwork I created in the aftermath of my husband’s death. I would work up to 11 hours at a time on a piece and that would allow me time to recognize, acknowledge and work through each component of my grief. I made a commitment to myself early on in my grief process that I would feel each part of it. I didn’t want to wake up 5 years from now and realize that I didn’t process what had happened to me. I wanted to be raw with my being and give myself grace and the space necessary to heal in a healthy way. I remember not even really enjoying a piece once I was done with it. I would simply finish a piece, turn the page, and it was on to the next one. It wasn’t until about a year after my husband had passed that I began to look back through what I had created. I will always remember the profound moment that I understood that I was truly healing. I was looking through my art and I was overcome with the thought that during my darkest hours, I was still able to create something beautiful. It took my breath away. In that moment, I knew I was going to be ok. I was surviving and doing a damn good job of it. 

Has sharing your work publicly come with any unexpected emotions/challenges? Can you tell us a little about that process and why you ultimately chose to share your work?

The upcoming show will be my first experience sharing my art with perfect strangers. The trepidation I feel around sharing my art publicly isn’t so much about my art, but the vulnerability that comes with sharing the story behind my art. Trauma and grief are highly personal experiences and sharing that time of my life is always uncomfortable. But I realized that if just one human can see my journey and may then realize that they too can heal the darkest of places in their soul then it is 100% worth it for me. 

Do you have any specific hopes for what someone taking in your art would get out of it? 

I hope they can appreciate the healing that creating each piece provided to me. They don’t have to enjoy the work I have created, but it is my hope that they respect the power of healing through creating. 

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What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t consider themselves creative?

They need to get out of their own way. The fact is that we are all creative beings. Society tends to navigate us in a certain way and with that comes personal judgement around how we express ourselves. If we could just experience our own creativity without judgement then there is a strong chance that we can experience one another without judgement. 

Any thoughts/philosophies/ideas you’d like to share about making art or the creative process or its value to you or society as a whole?

Yes, when we can appreciate the process for which creation comes then we can appreciate the person who is creating. We are all trying to navigate this crazy journey called life and creativity helps that process. 

If you are in the greater Reno-Tahoe area, be sure to join us for Blaire’s opening at Boho Gypsy’s Treasures on September 14...it's going to be quite the shindig!

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I Forgot

I’ve forgotten to take my camera along with me a lot this summer. On at least five separate occasions, in my eagerness to go explore or in the excitement of our preparations, I drove away from home only to realize upon arriving that I left my camera behind. It’s frustrated me and at times induced me to wonder at my legitimacy as a photographer…I mean, what kind of photographer forgets her camera?!?!?

But.

On one hand, I have been beginning to feel a surge of creative energy over the last few weeks that I have come to believe is a direct result of having spent most of my summer not being especially creative. I’ve believed all along in the importance of creative rest, but hadn’t realized until I spent a couple of months rafting instead of creating that I was in dire need of it. Not that I haven’t been creating at all- on the contrary, I have doodled in my sketchbook and scribbled away in my journal and dipped my toes into art that I don’t make my living from and, of course, I’ve maintained this blog. But I have done very little work for clients this summer and that break, I’ve come to see, was very necessary for my long term creative health. I suddenly feel energized to experiment and push myself, and doing some writing and shooting only for myself has allowed me to step away from “safe” work and allow failure to return to my process. It’s thrilling, really.

On the other hand, this camera-forgetting has also reminded me what it can feel like to simply have an experience without any requirement to capture it. I consider the noticing that photography has taught me to be one of the great gifts of my life and very often my camera is the tool that best allows me to move past the superficial and truly see. But sometimes that same camera can create a barrier between me and experience, allowing me to keep my distance on the edges instead of fully engaging. And, even more disturbing, is when I catch myself in the photo-or-it-didn’t-happen mindset, the idea that the value of my experience is somehow diminished by my lack of photographic evidence to present to the public. What blarney. To be deeply embedded in a moment, to cry-laugh with new friends in the light from a campfire or to stand by the edge of an alpine lake and share the awe of the Milky Way’s perfect reflection on its silver surface doesn’t require public approval in order to be treasured. Photos are photos and have their own power, but memories are memories and the two are not interchangeable terms. Sometimes it’s simply worth making a memory and missing a photograph.

Maybe I’m simply justifying my own laziness or forgetfulness, but I suspect more has been behind this forgetting of my camera this summer. As the season begins to shift and the very first hints of autumn’s impending beginning nip at the early morning air, I feel my own shifting. A readiness to return to the work, to pick up what I briefly put down, to dig in deeper than ever before. Sometimes we must step back in order to move forward…it’s a simple truth that takes me by surprise again and again. But truth it is and I am no more exempt from it than any other. We cannot produce without end, without break, if we want our truest and most creative work to pour forth. And we cannot always remain on the edges of experiences, capturing but not fully participating, if we want depth and meaning and life to infuse our work. 

So...sometimes I forget my camera.

I did remember to bring it along a few times, so here is a bit of miscellany from the last month or so...

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Plan B

A couple of weeks ago I had my first “dump truck” on the river. That’s raft-guide jargon for hitting a rapid in such a way as to make one side of the raft dip down (or the other side get much higher) so that the raft nearly flips over but doesn’t, and instead just dumps everyone (in this case, guide included) out of the raft and into the river. Everyone was fine- I was able to swim to my raft, pull myself back into it, and eventually get the three awesome women I was guiding all back into my boat before we had to run the last two good rapids of the day. We got through the rest of the river without major incident, but as the adrenaline began to wear off, I realized that I’d tweaked something in my back. As it turns out, I damaged my “QL” muscle and spent the better part of more than a week walking and moving as little as possible as I waited as patiently as I could for everything to heal. Even now, more than two weeks later, I’m still not back to 100% and am still not back on the river and at this point, I have all of my fingers and toes crossed that I will get a few more days of guiding in before we wrap up our time here in Reno-Tahoe and move onto wherever we head next.

But I digress.

As they say, “the wind from one door closing opens another” and while I hope I’m not done rafting just yet, these weeks of rest have reminded me how beneficial (and productive!) a bit of real down-time can be. It’s also reminded me how vitally important it is to have a “plan b,” a list of things that interest and stimulate and energize us when life doesn’t go according to plan. As it turns out, injury (or illness or grief or job difficulties or…or…or…) happens to the best of us and it can be easy to allow a few days of sitting around at home to begin to take a downward spiral toward a feeling of purposelessness and stagnation. I remember how lost I felt all those years ago when I first started chemotherapy and my body, which I’d relied on not only to carry backpacks and guide rafts to make my living but also to run through the woods and climb rocks and ride bicycles to keep my emotional self balanced, began to be unable to do all of the things that I’d built my identity (and mental health) around. I didn’t know who I was when I couldn’t move my body with the same strength and dexterity I was accustomed to and this lead to a bit of an emotional crisis that I’m only now, nearly fifteen years later, fully grasping.

While I’m in a much different place in my life now and this injury doesn’t carry nearly the terror or long-term incapacity that came with cancer, I can feel tiny echoes and reminders of how detrimental feeling purposeless can be. It’s lead to some fascinating conversations and I’ve drawn a few preliminary conclusions from talking with others who have experienced similar setbacks:

~ We need purpose in our life. Period. I’ve talked about this here on the blog before, but for a long while now, I’ve believed that the key to “happiness” is not an overabundance of leisure time, but rather challenge and purpose. Where I think sometimes people go wrong with this is in thinking that their purpose has to have some level of grandiosity to it. If you feel a deep calling to facilitate peace in the Middle East, then please, by all means, forge ahead with my admiration and best wishes. But if your purpose is to re-read the entirety of the Little House On The Prairie books or clean out your garage or learn to speak conversational French or make restaurant-quality pad thai, then that counts. It can change whenever you want and you can course correct in whatever way works for you. Just. Do. SOMETHING. And then, when you are done, go do something else. And while you’re at it, make sure that if your current purpose gets derailed, that you have a few more ideas waiting in the wings so that you can switch gears when you need to.

~ “Find Your Passion” is a crock of shit. Elizabeth Gilbert was far, FAR more eloquent than I am when she addressed this in her absolutely-fantastic-if-you-haven’t-read-it-yet-do-so-right-this-very-second book Big Magic, but the gist of things is that for most of us, we don’t have some single clearcut passion that drives us (if you do, then I’m thrilled for you! Congrats! Go pursue that!). For most of us, finding our purpose(s) means that when something is interesting to us, we check it out. And maybe we pursue it for a bit. Wander around a bookstore…do you gravitate to a certain section? Gravitate away. Have you ever watched a movie or read a book or walked away from a conversation thinking, “I wonder what all goes into building a boat with hand tools/ how hard it is to play the banjo/ if I could draw a cartoon of a cat…?” Look it up. We all carry tiny little Google machines in our pockets…within those little Google machines lives an app called You Tube. Everything you’ve ever wanted to learn is available there for free. Okay, MOST everything. Even better…make use of the resources around you. Public libraries are a THING, y’all. Stop by yours, get a library card, and look at their events calendar. There is a better-than-decent chance that something is happening that feels at least mildly interesting to you. And following that interest is how you figure out a purpose and perhaps a passion. Or google “adult learning” or “community/ continuing education” or some variation to find classes in your area. I’ve found everything from art classes to classes on computers and how to book travel and wild food foraging and beyond. There are often free movie nights and lectures and options that cost you nothing beyond marking your calendar and showing up. Which leads me to…

~ Even us introverts need some community. I am an introvert by nature. People often don’t think that because I’m outgoing and enjoy people and love to have great conversation with friends over dinner, but at the end of they day, I need quiet alone time to fill my tank and almost ALWAYS want to cancel any and all plans that require that I put on pants and interact with humans. I’m energized and fulfilled by my own company and tend to get my best creative ideas and work done when I have plenty of time alone. But. That tendency can lead us to isolate ourselves past the point of being healthy. Sometimes I get downright irritated with myself for obligating myself to a weekly drawing class or a coffee date with a new acquaintance, but these sorts of interactions are, indeed, important. Its been shown over and over that connecting to others and having some sense of community is necessary for our general well-being, especially as we get older, and it really is worthwhile to suck it up and put your damn pants on.

~ It’s unlikely that your “plan b” will drop out of the sky and into your lap. This is really a variation on the second bullet point, but let me hammer the point home again. We have to do the work. If you don’t have any interests at all, you aren’t looking very hard (or you have a mental illness that should be addressed by a professional…seriously, one of the most common signs of depression is a sense of listlessness and disinterest, so if this is you, please, PLEASE go talk to someone…it doesn’t have to be this way and you can’t do it on your own, help is out there and I implore you to find it). But barring mental illness, the idea that you’ve already been exposed to all the possible interests in the world and none of them is for you is ludicrous. Don’t expect purpose to find you…take an active role in finding out what lights you up (see the above suggestions to get started!).

~ If you are stuck at home or in bed or have limited mobility, make use of technology- it’s your bridge. We live in an age of technology. Often this technology is lamented as we feel overwhelmed by things beeping at us or overstimulating us or we allow ourselves to get sucked down the rabbit-warren as we scroll through social media or dive headlong into the black hole that is mindless internet surfing. But all of this technology has a good side and often that good side comes in the form of connection. Either connecting us with other humans or with the knowledge or tools to learn and grow. Skype or FaceTime can put you face to face with people all over the world. Try an online meetup or perhaps a group such as a book club. There are audiobooks (by the way, these are often available for free from your local library as are e-reader books that you can instantly download...just sayin') and online classes (I also like these and these, or what about learning a new language or for free here?). Screen time doesn’t HAVE to be mindless. Avail yourself of the benefits of our technological age. 

At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that any of us will live out our lives without ever hitting a hiccup of some sort, whether it’s an injury or illness that limits our movement, or a career change or retirement or moving to a new place. We feel untethered and unsure of what to do with ourselves and it’s easy to hang out in the intersection of indecision. But that intersection is a good place to get hit by a bus if we’re not careful, so it’s often better to pick a path and begin down it, even if we realize it’s not the right one for us and have to veer off to find a different one. 

As I eagerly await my back’s full healing and a return to the river and the running and activities that are at the heart of why we chose to hit the road in the first place, I will implement my plan b and switch gears to discover and pursue the unknown worlds that are available to me. I will follow my curiosity and make the most of this time of rest. Because the alternative is misery, and, well, who the hell wants that?  

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A few shots of a hike we took a couple days before my “dumptruck”…we left from the Galena Creek Visitor Center, less than 30 minutes from our RV park, and walked an easy nine-mile loop over the course of a few hours. It was a lovely reminder of the beauty that lays right outside our door...

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