Some News + Some Goals

 

Now that the holiday excitement and novelty of the new year have worn off and regular life is back in full swing, I can't help but continue to feel overwhelmingly optimistic about 2018. Things have been coming together extraordinarily well and it's not at the hands of fate or chance but a result of my willingness to take risks and make changes. So far, it's paying off.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I requested a lighter work schedule because working overtime every week for so long was taking an enormous toll on every aspect of my health. The reduced hours started two weeks ago and I've gone from working 9 shifts every week to only 4 or 5. I cannot stress to you enough how much a difference this has made for my mental health in such a short period of time. Thus far, I've spent my extra free time catching up with the people I care about and taking a little extra care of myself. Now that I've had some time to unwind, I'm going to spend the upcoming weeks using that time to pursue my creativity.

In keeping with my goal to do more photography work, I have decided to keep my professional portfolio separate from this blog, which will serve as the adventure journal that it's been for two years now. Without Roots is already branded as such and y'all seem to like it that way, so why change it? So much of my soul is in this blog and to try to turn it into something that it isn't would likely keep me from loving this project the way I do now.

I do have some small goals for 2018 that I'd like to share with you, as putting them out there for the world to see tends to make me feel more obligated to keep with them. I'm sure many of you can relate.

  1. READ MORE + SCROLL LESS: Is anyone surprised that reading a book is much more creatively inspiring than the perpetual meme stream that we tend to find on social media? Don't get me wrong, some of my longest and strongest friendships are maintained by the exchange of memes, but sometimes it's easy to get caught up in it. I know I struggle with it because honestly, I wouldn't know moderation if it walked up and punched me in the face.
     
  2. GET OUTSIDE MORE: I am happier when I'm outside. I know this. It's science. When I spend more time outside, I tend to have a much sunnier outlook on my world which, in turn, compels me to put more positive energy out there. I find that when I am kind to the world, the world is kind to me in its own subtle way.
     
  3. PRACTICE MORE SELF CARE: I often find it difficult to find balance in my life and I'm an extremely anxious person by nature. I convince myself that I'm on the brink of death from some ridiculously unlikely medical ailment at least 3 times a year. When life knocks me down, I'm much more adamant about practicing self care so that I can make it through whatever I'm dealing with in one piece. But what about when things aren't so bad? My anxiety is still there. It never goes away. However, when things are going well, it's easier for me to bury it, which ends up being unhealthy in the long run.
     
  4. LOVE MORE: Love others. Love myself. Love the world. Life is too short not to. I am incredibly aware of my mortality these days and instead of letting that fear and sadness overcome me, I use it to motivate myself to do more. Lovers leave us. Friends we thought would stay with us for the long haul leave us. The people we love pass on. Love will inevitably hurt us but it is also the only thing that can heal us.

So far, 2018 is shaping up to be pretty wonderful. I'm sure that life will throw me curveballs in the months to come, but I'm absolutely certain of my ability to make the best of everything that comes my way.

Until next time, friends.

 

Art is Art is Art

 

Hello friends. It's been awhile. As per usual, my job has been keeping me extraordinarily busy. But there's good news! In a moment of extreme anxiety, I finally plucked up the gumption to ask if I could work significantly less for awhile so I can get my feet back underneath me. I plan on taking the extra time to recultivate my creative spirit and pursue my artistic endeavors. I plan to adventure more, spend more time with the people I care about, and spend more time with myself. And sure, it's a hefty pay cut, but the wonderful thing about it is that I can change it whenever I want. I said that 2018 would be different, and so far, it's turning out to be that way.

I've been thinking a lot about art and contemplating what I wish to do with my creative mind. Those of you who know me know that in a past life, I was a musician and I was pretty darn good at it. Sometimes I pick up my guitar and it feels so comfortable. For a few moments, I get to feel like the angsty teenager I was when I discovered my love of songwriting. In the rare moments when I perform, I feel weightless. However, the passion I once had for music isn't there anymore and that's okay. There's an overwhelming part of me that hopes that it'll reignite someday. But for now, I think I'd better focus on what I am passionate about.

I'm thinking about a conversation I had several months ago in a coffee shop with my friend Joshua about how creativity is such an evolving creature. Because it is so attached to who we are as people, it would seem natural that our creative endeavors would grow and change with us. That being said, I do believe that there are parts of us that simply are, and I think this notion is also applicable to the types of art that we gravitate toward. When I was an adolescent musician, I constantly wondered why I always gravitated toward visual artists rather than other musicians. I suppose it makes sense now that I've developed such a love for photography, but back then, I didn't have a clue. Don't you love when the pieces finally fall together?

This post has been little more than a random ramble, but I'm glad to be here sharing little pieces of my world with you. Rest assured, I've been working on all of the goals I mentioned in my last post. It's been a bit slow going with how busy my job has been, but better late than never, right? I have a ton of photo posts in the works because I've gone on a bunch of little adventures over the past couple of months but simply have lacked the energy to write them up for you. I did some gorgeous headshots for my beautiful friend Michelle that you can find in my gallery! Also, be sure to watch my most recent vlog about my hike at Neahkahnie Mountain at the Oregon Coast.

As always, thank you for your enduring support while I've been figuring things out. I feel like all I do these days ponder my existence and thank you fine folks for sticking with me. There's more to come, I assure you!

Until next time.

 

And So We Grow

Mt. Hood National Forest, October 2017

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Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how we change and grow through the seasons and how we become who we are. Of course, who we are is constantly changing; who I am today is not who I'll be tomorrow. I believe there are parts of us that simply are, without reason or explanation. But then there are the more malleable bits of us that evolve as we experience the world. Such notions have left me wondering what kind of woman I want to be.

I woke up this past Monday morning determined to take myself out of the city. The days that came before it were strange and emotional and made me wonder what the hell I've been doing these past few weeks. It's as if I've been crawling through the dark searching for something unidentifiable. So, I got in my car and I drove east toward Mt. Hood. I had no plans. I was alone on an open road and it was exactly what I needed to make sense of things.

After driving around and exploring the Mt. Hood area for a few hours, I decided to wander up to Lost Lake and hike up the Lost Lake Butte trail for as long as my bum knee would let me. (I didn't make it very far before needing to turn around and prevent further injury.) I tend to answer life's tough questions when I'm alone in the woods and this trip was no different. I pondered who I was when I left the east coast and who I've become since moving west and somewhere along the way, it became painfully clear that I know exactly who I want to become. And now there is nothing left to do but become her.

When I was growing up, my mom and I used to spend lazy afternoons sifting through boxes and boxes of old photos from her adventures in during her twenties. I was always inspired by her adventurous spirit and dreamed of living a life like hers. While lost among the trees, I realized that I might have a daughter someday and when she and I sift through my old photos together, I want her to be inspired by me in the way I was inspired by my mom. 

I want my daughter to be raised by a woman who wasn't afraid to follow her dreams and explore the world on her own. I want her to see her mom as someone strong and resilient and brave. I want her to see a woman who isn't afraid to live fully and freely. Someone who keeps her heart open to love and adventure and uncertainty, no matter how much pain she experiences. I'd like to think that I'm on my way to becoming that person, but I know that I still have a long way to go.

 
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Where Do I Go From Here?

 

It's no secret that we live in a strange, digital world where real world rules don't apply. We use Instagram to turn our lives and ourselves into a brand. We post public Snapchat stories with the hope that one particular person might see them. We filter our lives on Facebook so that the world can see the best possible versions of ourselves. Over time, this phenomenon has created a sort of toxic vortex of fake happiness that is exhausting and impossible to live up to. For this reason, I've always tried to be as honest and as vulnerable with you as I possibly can. Today will be no different. This one is for those of you who check in on me regularly. I see you and I appreciate you and I want you to know that I'm struggling. (Don't worry, Mom. I'm okay.)

I started Without Roots back in 2016 when I was living in my hometown and looking for a project to occupy my idle mind. I'd moved back to that town after living just outside of New York City and I was extremely disappointed in the fact that I hadn't done anything particularly exciting with my life since getting my degree. I was existing in a town that I didn't particularly want to be in, and I needed something to do. This blog was a thing to do. I didn't think that I'd fall in love with photography and storytelling in the way that I did. This was what made the remainder of my time at home worth living. This was what made me want to do more than simply get by. But then, I moved to Portland and suddenly, everything was different. 

I'm feeling especially restless these days. All I do is work and sleep and work and sleep and it was fine when I was at home and waiting for the Next Big Thing. Portland was that thing. And now I'm here and I feel like I need to take my life in a new direction. However, between working and sleeping and trying to be present in the world, I am constantly exhausted. I have stretched myself so thin that I don't even have time to think about what I want to do with my life, let alone this blog. So that begs the question, where do I go from here? 

I am very, very attached to Without Roots. There is so much of me here. There are so many stories and thoughts and photographs that serve as published evidence of how much I've grown and changed since my first post in early 2016. But for now, I'm going to continue to exist in limbo. I don't know where I'm going from here but I know that there's bound to be changes. I might abandon this project for a new one. I might do little more than take a break from it and get myself sorted out. Either way, you probably won't hear from me for awhile.

But I can promise you this – you haven't seen the last of me.

 

Wherever You Go, There You Are

Olympic National Park, June 2017

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It’s like the people who believe they’ll
be happy if they go and live somewhere
else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way.

Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.

– Neil Gaiman –

 

What does it mean to be at peace with yourself? I think maybe part of it is being able to be alone with yourself and be comfortable with it. Maybe it's being able to interact with people of all sorts and know how to maintain your sense of self in a world that's constantly trying to change us. In the past, I've had a lot of trouble being alone with myself. A few hours of solitude was all I needed to spiral back into the vortex of self-pity that depression and anxiety creates. I spent years fighting tirelessly to figure out how to like myself and now I'm here on the other side and I can say with confidence that I unconditionally love myself.

So, about a month ago, I decided to take a road trip to Olympic National Park. Alone. Mind you, I'd never been there before. I didn't really know what I'd do there or if I would even enjoy myself. I took the leap nonetheless, and it was perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences of my life (at least, so far). What should have been a 4 1/2 hour drive between Portland and Port Angeles ended up being a 9 hour drive, simply because I opted to take the long way. I drove up the coast, learned that you can actually drive your car onto the beaches in Washington, realized that Oregon's beaches are nicer, listened to a lot of music, and smiled a lot. Aimless adventures, I think, are my calling in life. I drive and I drive and then I see a sign and I follow it because you never know what you'll find if you're constantly seeking a set destination.

This trip forced me to face a lot of my fears and leave the safety and security of my comfort zone. I grappled with my fear of heights while climbing not one, but two mountains. I hiked 8 miles in a single day and later found a blister the size of a nickel on my right foot. I spent three days alone in the woods and that, I think, was the thing that terrified me the most. Two years ago, I wouldn't have even considered doing something like this simply because I wouldn't have been able to handle that level of solitude without at least one emotional breakdown. But these days, I find that I'm a bit intimidated by how comfortable I am with being alone. My, how time changes us.

People often question my desire to do things on my own. I suppose that since we humans are social creatures, it makes sense to want to experience things with other people. But sometimes, we must have the courage to be alone with ourselves. This is how we cultivate self love. This is how we grow. And sometimes I think we tend to wait around for people to show up and want to experience things with us. However, when you're as busy as I am, that's a near impossible feat. I'm not going to be young and rootless forever. A time will come when I'm not going to be able to disappear into the woods for three days on a whim. For this reason, I don't wait. I do the things I want to do and I do them on my own because otherwise, I might not be able to ever experience them. And there's nothing in the world that I fear more than an unlived life.