Sunday, December 16, 2012

winter, loss & seasons

I'm not sure why I want to talk about loss in this post. Maybe it's the startling events that have recently taken place in the school system, or the death of a good friends dog, or why I feel like life is unbelievably short. In that sense, I feel everyday as if I'm further gone and that I don't have enough time to spend moments with the people that I find most interesting. I'm so careful about who I spend my time with. I think you should be, too.

People so often complain (myself included) about how they are unhappy with their position in life, their scenery, their company; their situations. I felt this so strongly this past week from nothing in particular, but everything in general.

My dear friend was visiting and upon feeling this way, we wandered into the canyon. I swear to you, it could have been a black and white postcard we were in. The trees are dusted in snow and if you squint your eyes, everything looks like an old photograph, with our colorful jackets sticking out like pins in a map. I needed something to put everything in perspective- something vast and magnificent. I have a need to feel this small so that I can remember that the world doesn't revolve around the cost of my rent or what I will do for work in a month.

I think about the death of a season, the end of a year of all it's twists and turns. When the snow falls, I think of the slowness of turning a corner and taking your time observing. I think of movements and the rhythm of my snowshoes through the powder. Seasons take their time. In the spring, the snow will start to melt and underneath the heaviness, the grass will start to grow. I think loss is put in your life to uproot one thing and let the other parts begin.

As I think about this year as a whole, I think about a lot of loss. I lost a community, a feeling of home, a sense of direction, all those things that make up comfort. When I think of this year, I also think about a lot of growth. I found homes in people that I met, discovered community in a neighborhood that took me in like family, and I'm not sure that I ever found a solid direction, but I just went until I couldn't go further, then chose something different. All of this has shaped me into a person I'm not sure I would recognize a year ago. And I thought about these things when I trekked up the hill and it looked like a snowglobe around me. And I thought about these things as I ducked under pine branches and smelled winter in the sap that caught in my hair. And I thought about these things when I sat in the truck eating a handful of clementine oranges, music turned up too high and snowflakes floating onto the console through the open door.

I thought about loss and growth and the shaping of a person's soul over a lifetime and how the heart can get calloused because of what life hands you; the loss that it can bare on your shoulders. I thought about all of the people I know that I believe have had it more painful than the rest, and that many, if not most of them, have decided to love regardless, instead of taking a calloused heart.

The only thing more tragic than a tragedy is what you do with it. And though loss is not easy, a new season is coming.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

simple things


I've been appreciating all the small things lately; waking up to the fog of morning and drinking earl grey tea before brewing the coffee and watching it drip dark drops into the Chemex. I love watching the chicks (we have 6) get up and stretch their legs, clumsy and tired. Their feathers are starting to come in patterns and they lay their necks on top of one another's backs to sleep; their little lungs heaving. I love having something so delicate and talkative around.

I especially love the process of building something. I am a pretty impatient person and this is helping me slow down and look at the steps before jumping ahead. I made myself a bench out of reclaimed wood for my closet to have a bit more organization. It's such a simple thing, and I'm head over heels about the way it looks.

I'm falling into simplicity and I think that it's just fine with me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


It's been an interesting road staying in one spot, let me tell you. My brain has become geared for better leaving than staying, so I'm trying to wrap my head around a month and a half in one spot. This will be the longest I haven't jumped on a plane in 8 months, and the first time I will have finished an entire loaf of bread without it going bad.

I could tell you the amount of lattes quickly downed at airports and train stations and bus stops, and the amount of planes I took to jump around the world. I could also tell you how quickly I can pack a backpack for a 9 day trip for all different weather conditions.

But now the backpacks are hung up on the wall and the baggage-check tickets are piled up like bracelets on the handles. I guess the fear of staying in one place is the fear of getting boring. There are big plans in the works for expeditions and photo shoots, but for now, I have to settle into feeding the chickens every morning and drinking a large cup of coffee, and sending out resumes for photo things.

I just returned from Wyoming where I spent Thanksgiving with my family. We come from a long line of cowboys who work hard and know how to fix things. They drink their coffee black with breakfast and sometimes whiskey after dinner. I always learn something when I make the trek there, and it always encourages me fill up my brain with more. Since my unemployment and a broken laptop, I've put down the camera and found myself spending significant amounts of time in the library. It's good to take a step back from the technology, sometimes. In a way, it's taught me how to slow down; to become less attached. Without the immediate availability of a computer, I was filling my time with things that matter more then checking my facebook 12 times a day. I've spent more time in conversation, and more time learning.

I don't think I'll ever forget the way that my life feels right now- how that now I'm out of school, I'm much more interested in learning. There is a deep curiosity about how the world spins and who inhabits it. I find myself asking more questions and am just generally more interested in things. My attempt to turn those thoughts into photographs is slowly emerging, so it's something that I'm going to keep thinking about.

Now the camera is up and running, a new laptop is here and I'm happily still reading about anthropology, ornithology and welding.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I arrived at the airport in San Francisco on a bus running late, and ran to the check in, just for them to tell me that it was too late to check a bag and I would have to reschedule a flight. And thanks to the kindness of some really nice people at the ticketing counter, they made sure I was on my flight down south.

We packed the car for desert bouldering and set off. Two hours later, we were driving through what looked like it could be a Dr.Suess painting of the moon. We ended up joining camp with a really wonderful couple living in their 1980 Westfalia van who I hope we will be friends with for a long time and we climbed until our skin was pink and raw from crystals.

The desert is one of my favorite landscapes. Dust bowl afternoons, coyote nights and cactus days.

I feel just as free there as I do in the high plains and I settle into the dusty living and warm mornings. I love waking up cold and laying in the sun to soak the warmth into my bones.

We played ukulele through the night and swigged cinnamon whiskey. I live the richest life, my friends. The richest life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On this day last year, I was sad and sitting Yosemite National Park under my favorite tree, when mountain bluebirds swarmed down in front of me. This birds are like souls to mine, and it was the best gift I could have received when I was feeling so down.

Today was full of those. I miss my Uncle Todd so terribly- mostly his laugh, stories and soul- but oh, how I felt his presence everywhere today. The day was full of perfect, cinematic moments and I can't help to think that there was some serious positive energy around us all day long.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I'm leaving for the West coast tomorrow and I'm terribly excited to leave. I'm feeling restless. This isn't a new feeling, but it's not because I want to travel again. I'm feeling a huge imbalance that I know only seeing new places can straighten out.

For the first several months of my life, I was in a harness that was aimed at correcting the hip dysplasia I was born with. Friends and I joke that this is why I feel such a need to move around; to incessantly travel and go. I can't argue with it. In my mind, that's a part of the reason why a transient lifestyle has fit so well into my being- the deeply rooted feeling of being contained is so exhausting. The other part of it comes from the blood in my veins. I was born into a family of travelers and explorers and everyone has done something magnificent. Maybe it's all genetics. It's funny, too, that when I'm feeling burnt out on being too much or too little, driving helps. Running helps also. It's the motion that really makes me feel better, because as long as I'm moving, I feel I won't be boring and won't be monotonous- my soul won't collect dust.

Moving around and traveling has been a large part of my life the past two years that I haven't been in school and for that long time, it seemed to work. I guess you can always make it work- but there is a difference between making it work and being happy in it. And near the end of it all- the end of this summer- where there was nothing consistent and there hadn't been anything routine for most all of the year, is where all the moving around started to exhaust more than exhilarate. It felt like so much work to constantly try to form friendships, let alone relationships, that felt meaningful and lasting when I knew that I'd be leaving again soon. It's a "see you in...well, I'm not sure when" kind of deal. I'm great at making small talk, but it isn't filling or substantial.

So when it comes time to settle down here (and I swear, I'm ready to settle down), and for two weeks I have no job and am not making money, I have no schedule and no rules for myself, it doesn't feel like a vacation. I feel tired and lazy and unbalanced. And I know I shouldn't complain about time away from work, because I am lucky that I have that option, but again, I feel a serious lack of stability. I come back from trips where I see my greatest friends, and come back to a place that I'm just starting to get to know and feel comfortable in. I hate to admit that I'm lonely. In some sense, it makes me feel weak that it seems like I can't make it on my own. I can travel solo. It's when I stay in one place and have to let myself be alright with being alone. And it's days like today and yesterday that it has just consumed me and I feel so dependent on people that aren't going to solve any of that for me. It's a constant lesson of being alone and being happy in it. So I'm making my best effort.

So I drive towards the mountains and try not to force myself to be creative if I don't want to be. I buy myself a beer and a chocolate bar and sit on top of a mountain with my dog and shoot clays with a slingshot and know that this isn't the end of the world and there are positive things coming.

Investment of time.
Development of patience.

I guess everything I'm feeling is homesickness for a place that I haven't quite developed yet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

my brain is worn out. 
I'm headed West to the coast.

Friday, October 12, 2012

home to the mountains

I'm in amazement of how much I needed to be in the mountains and I didn't even know it.

The day was spent talking about our amazing families and the climbing community and if what we do is worth the death that happens in the mountains to people we love and care for. And we discussed the amazement of finding a place that's untouched and being able to capture it in an image to bring back to people. I love being a storyteller, sometimes. 

This time of year always makes me think of the people I've lost in both the mountains and the backcountry. There is something about the transitioning of summer to fall, when it gets colder and slower and raw, that makes me miss those people dearly. 

I feel their souls a little closer, though, when I am surrounded by peaks and can see the milky way bend across the sky and fog rolls in like a sea through valleys in the early mornings. Those kind of pure moments of honesty are ones no one can steal from you...those are the kinds of things I will think about when I'm worn. Those kinds of moments are the things that people haul a 40 lb backpack miles into the wilderness to witness and I guess that's because it's stripped of excess. Or at least, that's what I feel when I look at it.

I feel better after sitting in a hammock, uptop a ridge with a cup of tea and eating a chocolate bar for breakfast (you can do that when you're an adult). It rekindled some inspiration and made me feel like shooting photographs is what I love and want to do. 

Things are good.

(I was able to go photo-shooting with a great photographer- take a minute and see some of his images: