Fireworks & Solitude

I like to think of myself as a firework. Lots of short bursts of fiery passion. I am a Sagittarius aka a fire sign, lighting up everyone’s world until my nomadic self gets bored. My move to Snowshoe in late July only lasted a mere month before I decided I wanted to move onto something different. My life is now back in the Post-Snowshoe era, trying to adapt to the normalcy of everyday life.

This is my life, it’s always been an escape from loneliness eventually found in one place, carrying onto the next. It displays itself in boredom. I get tired of the place, and move on. People and places are the same everywhere. Nothing ever changes. Not until you do.

The universe works in funny ways, and my new job with WeddingWire has brought on a subtle loneliness. After spending hours poring over hundreds of wedding vendors and writing overly descriptive synopsis on them, I can’t help but wonder if I will ever get to that point in my life. It’s hard to ignore the absolute joy on these random stranger’s faces.

I see all these beautiful images of fairytale weddings, and I write the words that accompany them. I’ve written over 20,000 words so far on “perfect wedding days of your dreams.” It makes me think of all my friends of friends who have already participated in this ritual called marriage. And the ones who felt the need to bring a child into a world with someone they barely know. I think of sustainability of relationships and how to have faith in someone you’ve only known for such a short time.

I think of myself, the firework, with an inability to put up with anyone for longer than half a year. I think of my purposeful decision to not let myself get sucked into a romantic relationship anytime soon to protect myself from the possibility of falling in love with the wrong person. Because everyone seems to be that person after a couple weeks.

I think of all my failed relationships and all the hearts I’ve broken. It seems unfair for me to even play into the game of dating when my opinions on someone changes so quickly. But yet I crave the human intimacy these wedding photographers portray so well. Don’t we all?

I struggle with being alone. But I know it’s my only option right now. I am facing the loneliness instead of escaping it. It’s hard. But in the end, I have no choice but to be comfortable in my boredom. I have to succumb to stillness. It is only with this solitude and quietness that I can start to create.

New paintings, new websites, new blog posts. It all comes from solitude. Everything else is just a test of my endurance.

A Return To Love

I have spent years contemplating my purpose and worth. I have watched it evolve from a child who felt they could do anything, to feeling lost in world of societal standards that didn’t match up with my life. I have watched our fearful society destroy me from the inside out as I’ve felt too crippled with loss of hope to move forward. During a time of complete confusion and loss of purpose, I was gifted A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. Through careful contemplation I have digested its teachings with the most intense care I’ve ever given a piece of literature.

A Return to love by Marianne Williamson is a spiritual book of guidance that leads us back to love. It uses traditional Christian terminology to explore the concepts of forgiveness, using the story of the bible to highlight the metaphorical nature of the text. Through A Return to Love we are reminded that we can choose forgiveness to move past previous circumstances, and use love to move us forward on our path. The basis of the teachings of A Return to Love are as follows.

  1. Love is real, it’s an eternal creation and nothing can destroy it 
  2. Anything that isn’t love is an illusion
  3. Remember this and you’ll be at peace.

A Return to Love explains how we were created in love and therefore it is the only fundamental truth me have. “Love is within us. It cannot be destroyed, but only hidden.” Any deviation from love is not real. The opposite of love is fear, and it is a projection of the mind. A Return to Love shows us how to overcome our anxieties and fears by replacing it with love. Because love is the light, and fear is the dark it will always overcome it.

I think back to myself in college when fear dominated my every move.  I felt like there was no hope for my future career in Journalism that was focused around reporting fearful news to the masses. Time and time again I let fear beat me down into a little ball of emotion. I wish I had known then that anytime I felt paralyzed by fear I was merely locked inside my mind. A Return to Love reminded me that because we are built out of love, fear isn’t something that comes naturally, it is something that is taught.

Now more than ever, our society is focused around a fear mentality creating a mass suffering of anxiety ridden lives. Mainstream media trains us to only see the bad, the deaths, the horror, making us feel as though there is no hope. This is not an accident. It is not an accident that Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, richest man in the world, is also the owner of The Washington Post. It isn’t an accident that with more people suffering from anxiety, the more opioids are prescribed to numb us from reality. We are addicted to anything that helps us escape the pain we feel in this world.

Despite all the chaos, some of us awakening to the realization that we have a choice and a way out of this collective Hell. People are starting to realize that the more you give, the more the Universe/God will bless you. It’s no longer about hoarding your piece of the pie, but sharing your crumbs with others. This society that once was built around dreams of becoming rich and famous is starting to crumble. Celebrities are using their status as a platform to promote equality among people. We are still facing the mega-rich elite trying to break us down, with people like Donald Trump using age old tactics of hate and fear to divide us. But we are too smart for that bullshit, we are too loving to let them succeed.

A Return to Love reminds us that the only way out of the dark, the only thing that can counter the fear, is love and light. Does this sound familiar? “The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.- John 1:5” Jesus was pure love, and his selfless acts of kindness saved anyone who believed in him. It is through his leadership and pure love that we must follow if we want to move past this little blip in destructive humanity.  Love is the greatest defense we have and with its powerful light we can illuminate the fearful dark.

We can change the future of our society through changing our minds. A Return to Love gives us the starting tools to move towards a better collective reality. It starts with each and everyone of us, because we all equally hold an important part in this shared reality. With every person healed, we have a greater chance at creating a society we are proud of. A Return to Love is a book of healing, the only prerequisite to reading it is the readiness to open your heart and mind.

You can purchase A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson from Barnes & Noble (please don’t use Amazon)

 

 

Road trip to Portland

The road trip to Portland started from Mammoth Lakes, CA. My friend Jacob invited me along to help with the driving; he is planning on moving to Portland and this trip determines the logistics of his move. The agreement is that once we arrive we will spend one day together before we go our own ways in order to fully experience the city on our own terms. I am ignoring that last statement in hopes that isn’t the case. I prefer the company of others to being alone, who doesn’t?

Monday July 9th, we embark, two days of driving will ensue before we arrive at our final destination. The vehicle is Jacob’s 2008 firetruck red Volvo. The road towards Reno is curvy alongside barren tan mountains. Reno can be spotted in the distance by the alien grid of green trees that clearly do not belong in the particular climate. From Reno up towards Northern California it changes from tan desert to dark green evergreens littering the mountains.
Seven hours of driving later we arrive at Castle Crags to camp for the night. The camp spots are nestled between tall trees and the sound of clicking cicadas overhead sound like electricity. We catch the end of sunset at the overlook of the crag and meet Kye, a surfer nomad from Hawaii. He recommends Indian Springs trail to hike in the morning. The rest of the night is spent in the tent drinking Pineapple cider, reading inspirational quotes, and laughing at old blog posts.

In the morning we climb 1000+ elevation to the base of Castle Crags. I struggle with the elevation, letting Jacob press ahead without me. Arriving at Indian Springs it is just as Kye described, magical. The springs are quietly trickling under foot. Looking up, moss covered rocks make a gentle tinkling waterfall.

The second day of driving continues, halfway through the speakers unexpectedly go out. Considering both Jacob and I are heavy music lovers this is a serious issue. We stop at the nearest Auto Zone and Jacob checks the fuses, nothing seems to be out of place. We turn the car back on and by the grace of God everything is fixed.

Portland, OR

36648331_202575530429155_4852942217003663360_n(1)The first thing I notice about Oregon are the yellow tinged hills. Everything looks like it is basked in a Sepia filter. The closer we get to Portland, the greener it gets. Sepia turns into luscious greens. It isn’t quite mountainous, instead rolling hills of evergreen trees.

We arrive at the first Airbnb in Richmond, a neighborhood in Southeastern Portland. Oddly enough it reminds me a lot of Richmond, VA. The street we are staying on is full of hip coffee shops and bustling restaurants. We choose Pok Pok for dinner, a Thai restaurant with a long line of people waiting to be seated. Somehow, we get a table right away.  The papaya salad is delicious, so is the mango sticky rice, a Chang beer finishes off the meal nicely. Exhausted after a long drive, we skip cocktails at one of the many lively restaurants and instead drink Kava tea and watch a movie.

The next morning, we explore Richmond a little further. Sitting at Heart coffee for some quality interneting, I start to come to the realization that despite Portland’s trendy neighborhoods, every city is the same. So far it reminds me of Boston, or perhaps Brooklyn, or as I said earlier Richmond, VA. I am internally bummed that I thought Portland would be different. I am annoyed with myself for thinking this new location could make me feel at home.

Leaving the coffee shop, we make a last-minute decision to spend the rest of the day driving to Hood River. Within minutes of the drive I am feeling eternally more relaxed at the sight of trees and the roaring river. We cross from the Oregon side to Washington, heading over the Bridge of the Gods. Our drive from there is nothing short of breathtaking; the road is right next to the river and Mt Hood is peeking out in the distance. We wander around the town of Hood River for approximately 30minutes before hopping back in the car to head back to Portland. I secretly wish we could explore more, but Jacob seems annoyed with my company. The drive from Hood River back to Portland is a quiet one.

Montavilla, OR

Arriving in Montavilla, an odd feeling of abandon induced by having no idea where I am going, or what I am going to do, creeps into my brain as we pull up to my Airbnb. This time I do not have the comfort of knowing that I will have someone with me to endure the unknown. After saying a solemn goodbye to Jacob, it hits me.

I feel incredibly alone. Like the deep sinking you get in your bowels after realizing you have no one but yourself to hang out with for the foreseeable future. The title of the Airbnb I booked, “Cozy Oasis for Lone Traveler” couldn’t have felt more spot on. The chic coffee shops and sleek apartment buildings that accompanied the vivacious neighborhood of Richmond is replaced by a sad looking duplex on the corner of a crumbling gravel road surrounded by a tiny yard of brown dried grass.

Despite the outside of the house lacking in appearance, inside it is nicely furnished in a rustic chic fashion. My bedroom is a twin bed with a faux white sheepskin throw and a world map on the wall. Little bible verses and inspirational quotes are tucked away in different parts of the house. The tea collection as mentioned in the welcome book is amazing. I brew myself a cup of tea to calm my nerves and let myself settle.

The constant go-go-go! I’ve been experiencing arrives at a splintering halt as I realize I am now completely and utterly alone. Upon walking into this foreign haven, the familiar bubbling of words about to spill out of my fingertips meets my loneliness. I sit in silence at the small kitchen table with a steaming hot cup of tea to keep me company.

There is an urgency as I start to write. It comes choppy at first. My first sentence that jumps out on the page is “I am writing this this to test myself.” My writing mind has been in a deep slumber for the past nine months. This is the restart. Nine months of waiting for something exciting enough to happen to feel as though it was worthy of writing. Nine months of percolating thoughts left simmering on low, while my life zombied on in a direction I thought I wanted to go. In this deep loneliness I find comfort in the ticking of the keys on my Macbook. I feel like I have a purpose in recording these heavy hitting emotions. I let myself get sucked into the simple act of reflection that is so often forgotten in the busy day to day. I spend the next seven hours typing away, making memories into written form. To be continued.

 

How Did I Get Here?

Have you ever loved a place so much it hurts your heart? That’s how I feel about Mammoth Lakes, California. I can feel every memory from my time spent there radiating through me. I want to pinch myself to remind myself it was real. Up until now, I still consider my move out to Mammoth as the climax of my life, peaking there among the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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The journey to Mammoth started before I even knew my destination. Attending college at James Madison University, I was surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. Although I never did much exploring outside of JMU’s campus, it was during my Junior year of college when I discovered Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

It wasn’t hard to fall in love with the effortless lifestyle surrounding Snowshoe Mountain. Everyone I worked with had one thing in common, a desire to spend as much time as humanly possible shredding the gnar. I spent the next two winters of college commuting on weekends to the powdery mountains. I graduated college in the spring of 2016 with dreams of finding a lifestyle that matched what I had found in Snowshoe.

Fast forward a couple months after college and I accepted my first real job working as an ESPN Live Event Operator. Despite my job literally consisting of getting paid to watch sports, I quickly realized a fancy job title was not enough to keep me satisfied. Pushing my nonexistent dreams of moving up with ESPN, I quit my job to find something better.

I let my heart lead me back to the place I fell in love with the winter before. I returned to Snowshoe in January of 2017 to work full time as a retail supervisor. Living at Snowshoe full time meant more time to spent shredding, and an intensified appreciation of an outdoor lifestyle.

IMG_3014It was nearing the end of Snowshoe’s winter season when a couple of friends mentioned they were trying to move West. I took the opportunity seriously, and within a couple weeks I accepted a job as a retail supervisor at Mammoth Mountain Resort. My friends didn’t get jobs, but that didn’t stop me. I gave myself one week at the end of Snowshoe’s season to pack up my entire life into a giant green body bag and head out West.

On April 1st 2017 I arrived in Mammoth Lakes without knowing anyone or anything. It was a record season of snowfall and the roads were like tunnels, with snow banks as tall as houses on both sides. I spent the next five months shredding every morning, working in the afternoons, and skateboarding till sunset.

Mammoth Lakes was my first real move. The first big step towards creating a life I was proud of. In September of 2017, everything changed.