Saturday, December 17, 2011

choices and decisions.

People have a lot of choices in life. You can choose what you wear to your party and what you wear when you sleep. You can choose where you want to move, when you want to move, or if you want to even move at all. You can choose to get out of bed in the morning or not get out until noon. And that’s what makes life good, right? You get to choose your happiness. When those decisions of happiness add up, they tend to equal good things.
So I’ve been noticing lately that people feel like they can only choose one thing. Maybe there are so many choices in the world, that it is exhausting to be choosing all the time, and so just picking one is easier than picking two or three or four. But I’ve seen this pattern frequently:
You either have to dress nicely all the time or you aren’t put together.
You can’t be athletic and feminine at the same time; those biceps are just a little too much.
You can’t have a career and a marriage, because both take up too much time, so you need to decide on one.
You can’t be adventurous and still have a relationship; one of them will have to go, because there isn’t room for both.
The truth is, really, that you can have both. This last phrase has been a constant theme in my life. I have seen friends, family, colleagues go through this all the time. I am surrounded by people who are making great strides in their careers and adventures and happiness and successes, but a lot of these friends and family members think that it needs to be one or the other.
Adventure vs. Family
Career vs. Relationship
Mountains vs. Stability
Life on the road vs. Home in one spot
And this isn’t talked about enough. That you can be crazy about someone and still be with them, and still go on adventures and be in the mountains and high places and travel, and still be attached to that person. I will say it again; it’s not talked about enough because it hits a spot in most people that is a little too sensitive, because sometimes maybe someone chose a mountain over you. Or maybe someone chose medical school and decided that you didn’t fit into the pursuing of their career. You might be on the other side of this, too. I know I have been on both ends. I’ve chosen to be single instead of in a relationship because it seemed easier, despite the happiness that was brought in. And I’ve also been a second choice to an adventure, because, well, they didn’t believe it was worth the sacrifice. In life people make choices, and it’s not always going to be you. It’s sad. And it’s real.
Choosing both doesn’t mean it will be life without sacrifices. And it doesn’t mean that it will be easier. And sometimes, honestly, in unique situations, you won’t be able to have both.

But listen to this: giving some things up leaves room for other things.
So really, the only decision you need to make is that you can be both.
You can have both.
You can embody more than one thing.
And no one will make that choice, but you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Big news! National Geographic asked to put my bio and photo up as an Explorer on their website. I'm so honored to be a part of this grant process that they give opportunity for. Please view my interview here:

I've been walking with a heavy heart these past days. I also woke up to Heidi crying. Four of our six chickens were killed by either a fox or a dog.

I felt so heavy and disoriented, saying goodbye to all these things that were making me so happy. Both Heidi and I agreed we still wanted to go on our planned trip to South Dakota. We were feeling an immense amount of loss and grief and wanted to run away.

So we took our chickens, dogs and our heavy hearts miles and miles up the roads to go visit our soul sister, Jade, in Spearfish. We navigated through the canyons, and watched a bald eagle fly through the pines. The sun set and we watched the lines from the aspen tree shadows stretch out on the snow. We had a late dinner in Spearfish, and waiters kept checking on us because we cried our way through the meal. We loved those chickens. 

Our days spent with Jade were important and bold. We were able to sneak a photo with the chickens in front of Mount Rushmore. We pointed out their faces and told them the history. We loved the two chickens with all our might, and they laid us blue eggs the entire way. We caught my pup sneaking off in Rapid City for a little jaunt through some parking lots and woods. We wandered around abandoned things and drank hot chocolate. We spent about 9 hours at the animal shelter. Because, really, what I will miss most of all is being able to pour love into someone and something. I have a pup for that, but the emptiness still feels like it will swallow me whole if I stand too close. So we poured all of the love we could muster up into animals who were looking for a home.

The five days we spent there were good and wholesome. I'm headed home to spend time with my family and best friend who just returned from Africa. Surround yourself with love, and it will surround you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

While searching for rocks..

"I hike over sagebrush and hills and Veda trots at my heels; stopping when I stop, moving when I move. I think to myself how it seems so flattering for her to want to be around me constantly, to not get tired of my company.
I think about how lucky I am to be comfortable here in the plains. I think about how many people will never see this place as I do and how they will think this is desolate and empty land- barren. And I think about how being out in this open space is rejuvenating and necessary-almost vital- to my very being. I have always thrived on wild. Wild places. wild people, wild hearts and ideas. Because it is in those that I believe I'm brought back to the roots of myself. The desire to see unknown land, the thought of stepping in a place that no one before me has stepped are ideas that keep my heart and soul alive and thriving.
I look around at my family, all looking for the same things. I notice my dog listens more when we are in the backcountry, and I tend to listen more, too. I notice the smallest details: the remains of an animal, the bones laid out as if in a museum, the smallest layers of a ridge, built up over time, and the gentle clouds, laying a blanket over the horizon. I believe myself and my family become better people out here. Without distractions, we are stripped of the excess, and that is when it seems to me that we are most honest and true. Each others company is strongly preferred and despite the oncoming snow and wind, everyone is smiling.
I think of all these things while I walk, foot over foot, grin stretched on my face and letting my soul be honest and wild. It is here in the open where you have the ability to think. This is maybe the only space where true, honest thought can occur. You can be honest about who you miss and why, or how being alone sometimes feels lonely but a little like home. I believe that everyone should feel a sense of being incredibly small in a large world. That sentiment is not to belittle someone, or create a sense of fear- but moreover, allow a shift in perspective- there is something much larger than your own immediate world, and it takes a paradigm shift to see it.
...these moments of pure happiness, pure joy and truth are the ones that will never change, but will forever be left the way they are."

I etched these words into a piece of paper while sitting right in this spot with Veda.
Decisions became incredibly clear and obvious, and I'm ready to move on.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

it's been some time..

I can't tell you how many "drafts" of blog posts that I have from the past two weeks. It just seems every time I try to write, nothing comes out the way that I need it to. I don't just have writer's block when I try to write a post, my final report for our Sumatra trip just isn't flowing. Even my photographs have just been failing. It's not that I'm not inspired and it's not that I feel like I don't have the right things to say, I just feel empty of the right words. The more I try to fight it, the more it doesn't work.

When I looked back on this semester to ask myself what I accomplished, I couldn't think of anything tangible that I produced. Really, what I did, was taught myself to slow down. I took mornings slow, and I really value and honor that time every morning that I wake up, start the coffee and collect the eggs. I learned to take my time with relationships and friendships. I haven't been trying to rush to get to appointments, or even set them up, really. I have been so protective and honest with my time. I've been careful with money. And so now, when things are changing so drastically, it feels like so many of the things that I have poured myself into are done.

I'm not a student next semester. Not even a little bit. This simultaneously terrifies and delights me, because I know that it's the right thing to do. But the combination of relationships ending, friends moving, me getting ready to move, etc., it just seems like most of the things that matter most are changing in a large way. And who knows, maybe it will be the most positive thing, but I'm allowed to miss and it is valid to know that people who are so important to me will be truly missed of their immediate presence in my life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm going to their concert tomorrow:

It's hard to believe that this is my last winter in Wyoming.
I've almost completely decided where I'll be moving in the spring.
No school in the spring.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Things are changing.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Can I tell you that today I'm just feeling a little sad and delicate?

And I have to remember that you don't need to be strong all the time, and that sometimes it's okay to spend the day laying in bed and dreaming.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


We went to the Valley.

It's always a emotional time of year for me; the fall. I think it's because I see it's transformation, so easily witnessed. The leaves change colors and drop, and it's a transition period between two dramatically different times. It's also a time of year that I feel the heaviness of loss and the immense changes that those sorts of times bring, too.

The maple leaves were orange, red and yellow and the light shining through them was almost too beautiful to explain. The air had a certain crispness and things just seemed to make sense. I laid in El Cap Meadow, and I felt like I was sleeping at the feet of a giant. It's funny that it seemed to feel like I was coming home.

That night was the 5oth anniversary of the ascent of the Salathe Wall, ironically, and we got to spend a nice dinner talking to Royal Robbins and his wife Liz (who grabbed a little piece of my heart) and Tom Frost, as well as Ken Yager, who runs the Yosemite Climber's Association, his wife, and Katie D. who runs the Ansel Adams gallery in the Valley. It was quite the evening, and it felt pretty unbelievable that everyone was gathered there together.

The next day, we woke up and had coffee on the porch of Curry Village while we watched the sun change positions behind the maple trees. And when the sun patches were finally settled on our feet, we went on a walk towards Half Dome, exchanging stories the whole way. It felt like a cinematic kind of day, everything was beautiful and dramatic and I felt like a part of something so much bigger. We got to sit with Royal and Tom as they did a book and photograph signing, which was so special. I think there is even some video footage of me talking to the two of them, shot by a film crew that came in.

After spending time in the village, we went over to a favorite tree that we call "The Muir Tree." As we were laying there among the roots, I started to feel sad. It's been five years since the accident, and that's a lot of time. Just as I started to really feel the heaviness of time, several mountain bluebirds flew down into the meadow. And then more showed up. I was shocked to see them, as Ron was telling us that he has never seen them around those parts of the Valley. We sat and watched them dive and twist, and I couldn't help but cry a couple tears. Like the bluebird that is permanently on my side, they were there. It wasn't anything I had thought to ask for on this day.

On the way back, I picked some fresh mint leaves, grabbed a couple maple leaves and then got in the car. Driving home, I was happy. We ate salmon and drank beer, cheering to the good life that my Uncle Todd had lived.

Our lives are meant to be celebrated.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

travel day.

Even though I am in the place that I was so excited to get to, I feel off.

Maybe it's due to the fact that I'm running on 3 hours of sleep, two very, very large cups of coffee and a small sandwich and I've been up for 15 hours. Maybe it's due to the fact that I'm missing some people, and this time of year always feels a little different than the rest. Maybe it's due to the fact that here, the sun is shining and back home it was snowing. Or maybe it's due to the fact that I feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of Sumatra-related things going on in my life.

I waited for the bus for a long time.

And then, I waited more.

Tomorrow, we will spend the day in the city after a slow moving morning with the Redwoods. I'll look at the Golden Gate and know that my heart will rest for a little. And maybe tomorrow, I won't feel so off.

Friday, October 14, 2011

knobby knees

We go on. We move on. Collect experiences, bring them back to our people in forms of stories, photographs, scars. Sometimes I feel as if I've dreamed Sumatra. Our time there, in the grand scheme of things, was so temporary. But I feel as if now, that memory has been ingrained into the smile lines at the corners of my eyes, and etched into the lines of my palms.

And now, next week, we are nearing on it being one year since our team has worked on this project. One year, full of plans, many of which fell through, many of which we were able to see play out.

I'm not quite sure why I haven't felt like I have been able to write a quality post for awhile now. Maybe because, I feel so full of other things. I am full of hope, change, happiness; all of these have culminated into one big pool of unknowing. One day I will write again, when I can sort everything out and divide it up.

Right now, the only things I truly know are that I wake up happy and I go to sleep knowing that tomorrow is new.

I'm learning.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


San Francisco
The Golden Gate
Sumatra presentations

I need to be reminded of things that are vast. I need to look up at the Redwoods. I need to feel the fog and the cold water of the Pacific. I need to be in Yosemite to be reminded that I am small and the world is big.
I need to be moving.