Happy Earth Day : How Beautiful It Is To Be Alive

Trees

How fitting that today is Earth Day. All day I’ve been filled with love for this gorgeous world. I woke up with the sun to work in the quiet morning light filtered through the leaves of our basil and mint plants stretching toward the sun on the window sills. Waves of rain have blown through our little neighborhood today ( we even had a small little thunderstorm! ), broken up with patches of sun and spring breezes.

I know that I’ve been posting photos and updates about amazing adventures exploring my beautiful new home of Oregon, and I just want to sing from the rooftops how truly grateful I am to live here, to be here, for this moment in my life. I know I’m lucky and I’m not taking it for granted.

I marvel every day at how tall and old the trees are, how the color green is prominent everywhere ( save for the striking splash of pink right outside our door ). I notice how sweet the air smells, how heavenly the sun feels, and even how relieving those gloomy rainy days can be ( am I a true Oregonian yet? ).

My heart is filled with love, my feet are powered by wonder, my breath is filled with gratitude, and I am so happy to be alive.

Trail of Ten Falls : Silver Falls State Park

This past weekend Alex and I went on a semi-impromptu hiking adventure about an hour and a half south to Silver Falls State Park to hike the 8.7-mile loop of the Canyon Trail or Trail of Ten Falls, which as you can guess by the name, is a waterfall hike.

Trail of Ten Falls - Silver Falls State Park

There’s not much I can say about this hike except HOLY GORGEOUS! The Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon located just east of Salem. It’s consider a temperate rainforest with miles of hiking, horse, and bike trails as well as picnic grounds and other recreation sites.

Trail of Ten Falls - Silver Falls State Park

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Retrograde

The concept of Retrograde has followed me for the past six years, occasionally brushing up against me if I pause for long enough, taking my breath away and forcing me to accidentally grasp onto a greater understanding of myself as I try to catch it again.

I took a Philosophy of Science class my sophomore year of college, which always surprises me when I remember it because the majority of my undergraduate studies was a blur of English literature, Spanish language intensives, and poetry workshops. This class was one of those surprisingly enjoyable ones that you only get the opportunity to take when you’re trying to fulfill a science requirement that falls outside of your normal study ( without taking an actual science class ). At one point in the semester, we spent an entire class period discussing retrograde motion and how it had stumped astronomers in their models of the solar system for years. Retrograde motion is a phenomenon that occurs when two planets orbit the same sun at different speeds. At some point, one of the planets will pass the other, but for the short time the two planets are within the same sections of their orbits, it creates the illusion of the other planet slowing, moving in the reverse direction, slowing again and continuing ( at different speeds, in differently sized orbits ) in the same direction.

For me, it became this fascinating idea of returning to something again and seeing it from a new angle or experiencing it a new way. Life is full of patterns and cycles and not everything is carefully aligned, but if you pay attention closely you notice that sometimes people, things, ideas, and events reoccur as if drawn to you by magnetic force. I didn’t cling to this concept in some sad attempt to explain away something in my life, it worked its way into me. After that unit, I forgot about retrograde motion until it would creep up and surprise me with something I had experienced before. I used it as a theme in my poems and short stories for several workshop pieces. I even experienced it in my own relationship, my travels to Spain, and my connection with dance.

I danced from the time I was four years old all the way through high school. When I entered college, I knew I did not want to pursue it professionally, so I thought I would be done once I entered college. But something that had been a major part of my identity for 14 years is not something you can easily shed, so a semester later I joined a dance student organization that helped me continue my love for dance until graduation.

This time it took me three years. Dance is not something that’s easy to pursue in the adult world, at least not the kind I want. I finally found a studio here in Portland that offers drop-in classes for adult dancers who are looking for something more than just a “hip-hop sweat-it-out booty workout” cardio class. And last night I finally worked up the courage to go.

After three years, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. Yes, I’ve kept my flexibility up somewhat through yoga and endurance through running, but it’s not even close to the same thing. However, I went to that class and the music played and my body craved the movements, breathing in the notes and exhaling the steps almost by instinct. Each time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I was amazed to see how comfortable and natural I looked in these movements. I felt at home and I felt alive and before I knew it the hour was over. I returned to my car in the Portland rain to make my way home, crying and laughing and touched and full, remembering all my “last dances” and knowing that this was not one of them.

Glowing and tingling, I went straight to my laptop when I returned home to find the song that had just reintroduced me to a piece of myself I thought I had let go three years ago:

“Retrograde” by James Blake

Shamrock Run Portland 2014 and How the Oatmeal Made Me Cry into My Morning Coffee

You may remember that I posted a pretty extravagant goal to run 2014 miles in 2014. Of course major milage increase makes you seriously prone to injuries, and guess what friends, this runner was sideswiped by runner’s knee. Or maybe something else…it had seriously bothered me during a large chunk of the Camino this past summer, but either way, I had to step back and seriously consider my goals.

Now, I love running, but as many runners will agree, you can’t just love running, you also have to hate it. Because running is a struggle. It forces you to face things about yourself that you don’t like and it forces you to push yourself into situations that are uncomfortable, painful, and just plain miserable. When my knee started hurting, I was frustrated that I would have to take a break, so I tried again too soon and after that horrible run, frustrated and defeated, I decided to call it quits for awhile. And then I was relived.

I was excited not to have to beat myself up when my day got away from me and by the time I closed my computer for the workday, I was too exhausted to go for a run. I was excited to not have to do laundry as often. I was excited to have an entire extra hour of my day to spend however I wanted.

Shamrock Run Portland 2014

But the kicker was, I had signed up for the Shamrock Run 15K and that thing is no joke if you’ve ever seen the giant hill that’s smack dab in the middle of the course. I figured I had plenty of time for some solid rest for my knee before I jumped back into training again. But my knee just didn’t feel better, and I kept putting off my next running day ( partially because my knee still didn’t quite feel right, and partially because I just didn’t feel like it ). Finally race day was a week away and I could not wait any more. I went out for a test run and realized two things: 1. 15K was going to suuuuuuck and 2. My knee wasn’t going to stand for it. And while I was a little disappointed, most of me was relieved that I had an excuse. But then the rest of me was mad at that part of me that was relieved, so I switch my registration to the 8K ( still probably too much for my knee, but I didn’t have any race plans in the future so I didn’t care ). Continue reading

In This Moment

It’s been awhile since I’ve written an In This Moment, and while maybe writing one every week is a bit much, taking the time for the occasional update is a perfect way to capture all the little details that don’t quite qualify for full-blown blog posts, so here are some things that have been happening lately…

Portland Timbers Soccer

Two weekends ago, Alex and I went to our first Portland Timbers soccer game! It was the season opener and we had pretty crappy seats, but I’m pretty sure that this will be the start of a full-blown fanship. We had so much fun and the Timbers Army was insane ( literally cheering/singing/yelling the entire game ). I hope to be one of those crazies someday.

Portland BlossomsYou might have seen this post on instagram last week, but I cannot get over the fact that it’s spring in March! My little Midwest heart is used to the unbearable disappointment of one nice day in March that gets my hopes up, followed by a freak snowstorm late in the spring, but this year I’m actually experience a spring that is basically as long as the rest of the seasons! Almost every tree is in gorgeous full bloom and I’ve been stuffing our apartment with fresh cut daffodils from the farmer’s market. It’s absolutely gorgeous here!

Sleep Cycle

Does anyone else use the Sleep Cycle app? I just downloaded it this week and it’s awesome! Basically it tracks your movements as you sleep to determine what phase of sleep you are in. You set your “alarm” before you go to bed to have the app wake you up within a certain window of time and then it wakes you up at your lightest phase of sleep within that window so that you don’t feel groggy like when you wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle from a traditional alarm. So far I love it!

Farmer's Market Dinner

This weekend was the start of PSU’s Saturday Farmer’s market! It was the perfect day to spend the morning outside, and Alex and I stuffed our bags with fresh leafy greens, breakfast from some of the food stands, and of course my favorite: farmer’s market flowers. That night, we made a dinner with our fresh produce, and let me tell you, there’s just nothing better than a farmer’s market meal. Portland has a wealth of amazing restaurants ( it is a foodie’s paradise after all ), but we’ve been trying to do a better job of making more meals at home.

 

More Than Guinness: Why Irish Culture is Actually Great

Originally a celebration of St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has morphed into a rowdy celebration of Irish culture whether you’re actually Irish or not. And while green beer, green rivers, and parades and bar crawls are fun, they’re not exactly culturally authentic.

Guinness

( photo source )

I’m about 25% Irish myself and I’ve always had a desire to seek out my roots in that beautiful country ( almost making it for a weekend a few years back, but had my plans squandered by a restless volcano ). This past summer when Alex and I walked the Camino de Santiago, we made three Irish friends along the way, and one of theme specially, my dear friend Laura, made me positive that I would absolutely love the country should I ever get a chance to visit. In her I recognized a deep connection with nature, a stubborn ( yet endearing ) independence, and a strong will to push through anything, helping others along the way if she could. I don’t want to make sweeping generalizations, but I feel like this is a more accurate cultural representation than dressing in green and using the holiday as an excuse for public intoxication.

So, while I’m not going to deprive anyone of a party, I wanted to share some things that actually make this culture something to be celebrated:

Irish Ruins Continue reading

The Importance of Surrounding Yourself With Who You Want to Be

This past weekend I went to a Portland Bloggers meetup. You may remember my recap post from the previous meetup a few months ago, but this one was formatted in a “speed dating” format where each blogger rotated talking to another blogger for three minutes as a way to bump up our networking game and perfect our blogs’ “elevator speech.” Portland Bloggers Speed Networking

( hosted at Cyril’s at Clay Pidgeon Winery because wine makes it easier to talk about yourself )

The idea of the event was to get to know other bloggers to see if you’re compatible for collaboration purposes and get used to networking. We started the event exchanging business cards, taking turns explaining what our blogs were about, and moving onto the next blogger 3 minutes later, but at some point during the meetup, I noticed the event take an unexpected turn. Continue reading