The forest for the trees

Acacia in Flower (or, Blossoming Acacia Branches)
Vincent van Gogh

Lately I have struggled to see the forest for the trees, and for a gloominess of my own creation blanketing the light. I am working to re-discover what a pleasure it is to wake up at dawn, to move my body and tend to my home. When I bother to take a moment, stop and reconnect with what actually makes me happy instead of burying my mind in media and ugly habits, confusion turns to clarity and I feel like I can actually breathe.

Meditation and yoga is helping, and so is reworking my diet, writing and reading more books – but climbing out of my own ass has truly been the most effective thing.


On to the next adventure

The last time I remember having a $50 bill, I got it from my Uncle John. He came to visit me at work when I was 15, showing up unannounced on a Saturday afternoon after years of no contact. I was beside myself with excitement; we always had a special bond and I was crazy about my dad’s oldest brother.

That money meant so much to me. For weeks I agonized over what to buy, not wanting to waste such a precious gift. It wasn’t just money – this money had meaning. I eventually spent it on jeans, and I wore them until they started to shred.

Two years later he killed himself, and when I think of him now I think of that afternoon, our last one forever, feeling like the most important girl in the world.

I have a $50 bill in my wallet now, from selling my almost-new tablet to a very polite gentleman on Craigslist. This Saturday, my husband is organizing a yard sale and packing our things. With any luck, we’ll have a couple more $50 bills by the end of that so he’ll have cash on hand for the 16 hour drive back to Texas, where we will start our lives over, all over again. Everything must go.

Welcome to life! You will be betrayed; marriages end, families divide and secrets come out; loved ones die, by choice or by chance. People grow old and fat, and tired of trying. Life is wonderful and full of joy, but it isn’t easy and there are no real breaks for you to stop and catch your breath. As my sister once told me, “Life happens, and you have to keep up. If you’re not keeping up, you’re falling behind.”

Not everyone is up for the chase, and some of us just aren’t built for fighting. I am.

Hiking the ridge

I work six days a week, Monday through Saturday. My one day of rest is Sunday, and this Sunday found me tumbling out of bed at 4AM to start the coffee and breakfast we’d need to complete our 4.4 mile hike. (So much for rest.)

There’s a trail in our local state park that leads up to a canyon with staggering levels of rock. When the snow melts or we have monsoon, water rushes into the rock and creates fountains and pools of moving water, and it’s a popular place to go cliff jumping and swimming. Lucky for us, there was a heavy storm the night before so water was guaranteed. He’s been eager to hike it since he moved here six months ago, so along with a friend of ours, we hit the trailhead at 6AM.

I don’t like hiking. Going up sucks so much; mostly the steep and almost constant uphill climb. Its one redeeming quality is cooler weather, but then that means an obscenely early start. Going down is shit, too. Not just the heat of the day but also trying to avoid breaking your ankle or tumbling over the cliffside for trusting the wrong rock.

All the negativity evaporates once you make it to the end. The feelings of utter relief as you realize you’re mere steps from sitting down already, and the thrill of having made it all the way, are intoxicating. All the better if your hikes include something awesome at the halfway point, like a waterfall or cool looking rocks – something you can gawk at and talk about. Hike there, chill out, go back.

My husband + friend went swimming with a few other hikers that popped up after we were settling in. I’m not much of a swimmer, but by some fate I married a man that should be awarded an honorary blowhole. I ended up scarfing down a Power Bar and taking pictures of everyone, lounging on the rock like a lizard in the sun. I even grabbed a cat nap while the guys changed clothes and missed the show completely.

I dragged ass on the way back down; apparently my shoes aren’t that great at firm gripping, not slipping or being useful while hiking. All of us were dying for a shower and something to eat by the time we got to the car, moaning on the ride home about various pains and conquering the mountain. As promised, my husband rewarded my bravery and stiff upper lip (not a euphemism) with the proverbial carrot on a stick that got me throught the morning:

Some people think it’s a waste to take in a heavy meal after all that feel-good exercise. Those people are wrong.