23 June 2014

Impossible Dreams

Never thought I'd do this...

You know those things you think you can't do? Maybe you think you can't climb a tree, or could never bake a souffle, or maybe you think you can never travel to that one place you've always wanted to see. Big or small, we all have things we think we can't do. And for those who don't have such things- congratulations on being superhuman.

Personally, I have a ton of things I think I can't do. I really don't think I could jump off of a bridge, or go skydiving, or climb Mount Everest. Granted, I also have zero desire to do any of those things. But there are also things that I would like to do that I, for whatever reason, think I can't. I think it would feel really awesome to be able to do a turkish drop, but don't know how feasible that would be given my tricky knee situation, nor do I trust my ability to perform one safely. I am also not sure I could actually write a novel, and definitely don't think I'll ever be able to hit the high notes of any given song.

There are also the big things that I struggle with thinking I cannot do. Perhaps I can never own my own home. And what about saving up the money for yoga teacher training and a trip to Sweden? Or the big one- maybe I will never know what it is like to love and be loved in return.

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite book trilogies is as follows:
"Being in love was like China: you knew it was there, and no doubt it was very interesting, and some people went there, but I never would. I'd spend all of my life without ever going to China, but it wouldn't matter, because there was all the rest of the world to visit." from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
I try not to dwell too much on the things I think I cannot do, or will never do. I really don't care if I never see the Great Wall of China- but God forbid I never see the Pyramids at Giza. And certainly there is part of me, the part that wants to experience all of life, that wants to know what love is like.

But you know what feeling is really awesome? The one you get when you do something that you had no idea you could do. When I started taking bellydance classes, I had no idea half of the things I could make my body do. I never in a million years would have thought I would perform, bare-bellied, in front of friends and strangers.

When I was younger, I never thought I would see Rome. The Colisseum was just another monument I'd never see. When I did go to Rome and visit the Colisseum when I was 22, I cried because I could not believe what I was experiencing. I tried not to let my friends see, but I couldn't help being overwhelmed with gratitude to see something I didn't even think I could dream about.

Most recently, I was able to get into bird of paradise pose in yoga. Not the full expression of the pose (give me time), but I was able to safely, slowly, and accurately move into the pose with my leg bent, but body upright. This was, up until Monday, one of my "I can't" poses. But I can, and I did, and it's a marvelous feeling and a great reminder that big or small, somehow the things we think we cannot do have a way of presenting themselves to us, and you wonder why you ever thought you couldn't to begin with.

So I leave you with this- whatever your impossible dreams are, be open to their possibilities. Prepare yourself so that when the opportunities arise, you can realize your unspoken dreams. And if you ever get stuck thinking you can't or won't- just remember all of the things you have done, that you thought you never would.

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04 June 2014

Start With a Ripple: The Make Waves Essay Contest


When Jenn asked me if I would like to co-host an essay contest inspired by the phrase "make waves," I knew I couldn't say no. I believe that we are all capable of making waves, whether we realize it or not. 

When I think about what it means to make waves, I first think about water. Waves can be small, or they can be big. I think back to my first and only surfing lesson in Hawaii, and how we were learning at what was normally a calm beach. The waves we learned on were not huge, but they were incessant. Watching the water, I could see the waves start as small ripples in the water and turn into tumbling and crashing waves as they reached toward the shore.

As a kid, I wanted to be a famous singer or actor, or even a filmmaker. I wanted to make a big impact on the world at large, and I wanted my name to be known. I wanted to make waves. Now that I'm a bit older, the idea of fame genuinely freaks me out, and I understand that a person can have a big impact on their world simply by starting small and setting off ripples within their own world which then turn into waves within their community, and eventually become crashing waves globally.

How do I apply this in my life? I've talked before about being bold, and I believe that is one great way to make waves. I wear bright colors and red lipstick, I hike to peaks that are beyond my comfort level in terms of height, I bellydance in front of friends and strangers, and I try my best to smile at people.

What is more, I stand firmly behind what I believe; I will speak up in a conversation when I think someone is making an unfair judgment, and even when I share something about myself that others find uncool or weird, I stand by it because it is part of who I am and I am proud of who I am and where I come from. Being true to yourself is about as bold as it gets, and my belief is that is the best way to make waves.

These days, some of the ripples I've started in the past year of my life have turned into huge tumbling waves. I have a new job that excites me, and I'm meeting many interesting people. My life outside of work is fuller than ever. With the changes I've been facing, it has been hard at times to keep focused on how confident I deserve to be, and I see this as another opportunity for me to make waves. Though I have come a long way in the self-confidence game, I still have far to go, and I am more determined than ever to get to a place where I can make a fool of myself and not feel so bad about it. I have some great new role models in my life who I think I can learn from in this respect, and I am excited to start a new ripple of confidence in my life and watch it turn into a magnificent wave.

About the contest: We all have times in our lives when we're rocking the boat or struggling to stay afloat. The Make Waves essay contest is about sharing how you do that. Write about how you make waves in your life and/or sail through stormy seas. Your essay can refer to specific times in your life, or how you make waves throughout your life.

This week, Jenn, Alicia, and Erika have shared their stories and on June 6 the contest will open for submissions. Post your story on your blog and add it to the linkup on the hosts pages, or email your essay to nearandfarmontana@gmail.com. Make sure to tweet about the contest using #makewaves.


Near and Far Montana



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01 June 2014

Getting Out: Hamilton Mountain

See that up there? That is where I was headed.

Today, I am quite proud of myself. On Sunday, I conquered a mountain. As it turns out, third time really is a charm.

Backstory. You see, the first time I tried to conquer this mountain was five or six years ago. Most of my family had gathered for a hike to the summit of Hamilton Mountain along the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side. Alas, a few of us (namely me, but I wasn't alone in this) had a very palpable fear of heights. We did not make it to the top that day because hearts were racing and legs were shaking. The timing just wasn't right.

Fast forward to my last day as a 30-year-old. Granted, I should have known that attempting this hike at the end of October would be foolish, but I can be a bit stubborn and weather be damned. But it was misty and rainy and I conceded that we should turn back after we hit the big waterfall in the middle of the hike. I may have been defeated on that day, but I was not going to let the mountain win in the end. My day would come.

That day was Sunday, when everything came together to make for a perfect hiking day. The weather was gorgeous, but not hot. I was feeling (mostly) strong, and I had a hiking buddy. I was ready. I even made a playlist to get me in the proper mental space. I was pumped.

I definitely had a moment during the hike where my fear of heights started creeping up on me, but I stayed focused on my goal: conquer the shit out of this mountain. And conquer it I did, fear of heights be damned. The top was not scary at all (plenty of bushes to keep me from falling to my death), and the vista was well worth the climb. We could see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams from the top. Fun fact: even after living here for 23 years, I still get excited every time I can see the volcanoes. So yeah, I was pretty happy as can be up there at the top of this mountain that I'd conquered.

I seriously love waterfalls,

There were so many wildflowers in bloom!

This part kind of freaks me out.

See- I made it!

Mt. Adams, covered by clouds.

Mt. Hood.

A view from a little ways down from the top.

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