The Thing Is, I Try and I Learn

This was what I said to my boyfriend after he commented on the utter mess I was –covered in soot and smoke. Typically, we have unspoken roles during our morning routine. For example, I always get out of bed first and drink warm water (an “Eastern” practice that’s supposed to be great for digestive health) and bring him a cup in bed. I make the coffee and do my email correspondence. He will, at some point, venture out into the kitchen and start a fire in the wood stove–bottom line, he’s very good at it and there’s always a roaring fire within minutes. So yesterday when it was pretty chilly, I decided I was going to take matters into my own hands.

Let’s be clear, I’m not a great fire-maker. Sure, as a kid I joined the Brownies, Blue Birds and eventually graduated to the Girl Scouts. I can’t speak for all charters, but we spent most of our time doing arts and crafts, and selling a fair amount of cookies or whatever the current pyramid scheme was at that time, to fundraise for “said” group. While I don’t spend a whole lot of time crafting these days, give me a hot glue gun, some glitter and a Bedazzler, and I’m your girl, to add sparkle to any accoutrement!! I digress… The point is, what I’ve learned about starting fires and “survival” in the outdoors has mostly been picked up from now, years of river trips. I don’t get “grossed out” by groovers…we all poop…and dirt is Mama Earth as far as I’m concerned. I’m fine with river showers (aka skinny dipping in butt-ass cold water). In fact, I actually love it.

Was my comfort in the outdoors always the case? Nope. If you’ve followed this blog from day one, you know that I was raised by two parents who’d moved out to Oregon from inner city Chicago. They both loved the outdoors but hadn’t truly spent any time in wilderness. With that said, I learned how to manage my shit–literally and figuratively, along the way. My “education” really began with an ex-boyfriend who got me into camping. Not RV camping. Not cabins (although we stayed in those too). Not Glamping but…well, ok, CAR camping. In the sense that, save three or four experiences of hiking miles in, we had the ability to bring our gear in a car.

Later, I learned the art of multi-day river trips which, if you’ve rafted is really just glorified car camping. I’m not exaggerating AT ALL when I say we brought an entire large-sized Bills Bag for our pillows alone, when we paddled the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Because why not? You’ve got this huge tub, for lack of a better word, that thrives on (some) weight. I’ve compared our raft, in some cases, to the last scene of the Grinch, when he’s got all the gifts and right before his heart grows three times bigger! Again, I digress…

My point is this: none of this stuff is actually rocket science. It’s a matter of having experiences, observing, asking questions and DOING. Repetition helps. I’m not talking about mountaineering, or self-supported whitewater paddling or climbing etc. There definitely IS a learning curve with these sports, that takes skill and dedication. I’m talking about learning how to “leave no trace”, “know before you go” and, well building a frickin’ fire! These are all good skills to learn and know.

For the record, this morning I tried again (and miserably failed) to start the fire which was frustrating, because after a lot of time and determination I got a great fire going the day before. Sam asked “do you want me to show you how?” to which I answered YES!! And now, I think tomorrow is going to go a lot better.

Thanks for listening…see ya out there on the frisky ripples!

Paddling · Self-Actualization · Wellness

Change of Season

Around Oregon, the shift from summer this year, was almost immediate–like a flick of the switch, with basically no fall, straight into winter. The sunny days in a tank top, pulling weeds and raking leaves at the homestead went quickly into Willamette Valley weather…rain and wind. Let’s be clear…I’m not complaining (Yet. I am not a fan of WV winters of endless rain). Right now, however, with a fire crackling making it toasty warm, having just finished a lunch of hot soup, I feel so cozy there should be a Hallmark Movie logo stamped on my…mmmmm…forehead. Bring on the rain!

Am I going to spend every day lounging around the house? Naaah. That’s not my style. I’ve been known to run wearing ski goggles and full rain gear when we’re getting torrential downpour, on iced-over, heavily tracked, uneven snow pack. Not badass, just motivated...and maybe a little crazy. Sitting still for too long is not my strong suit.

This year has been a metaphorical “change of seasons” for me too. Pre-Covid, I’d typically be traveling somewhere for several weeks in the fall, enjoying a break after a busy summer– going paddling, biking, hiking, whether in Bend or on the road. Later, after the holidays I’d head somewhere south where it’s warmer, either leading a retreat or having fun for myself (“research” for the next potential location!). However, as I evolve my living and working situations, I’ve found a lot of pleasure in flexing my “domestic muscles” and expanding my little wellness-facilitating biz. Seems the perfect time to do it eh? Because everywhere I look it appears people are shaking things up in their lives. The pandemic had some horrible consequences for many. It dislodged the status quo for people with all kinds of outcomes. Break-ups, pregnancies, people leaving long-time jobs, starting different careers, or taking a new outlook on their health. Whatever the case, it’s definitely a time of transitions.

Change is really hard for many… I’d say most even. What seems to hold true from my point of view, is that you are in control of the change if you are proactive in it. When change “happens” to you, it’s quite the opposite. Like rapids on a river, if you are faster than the current, you are in control of your craft, but if the current is faster than you, it’s in control. One significant example is the aging population. Some choose to take control of their health and living situation, maximizing the chances of enjoying a relatively active and independent lifestyle. It can involve some tough decisions and/or discipline, but with a “can do” mindset, the outcome is seemingly positive. Others fight (or ignore) the realities of aging, and it doesn’t always go well, for themselves or their loved ones. I’ve worked with seniors over half my life and witnessed friends and family-members’ various approaches to this inevitable part of life. I can only hope I am reasonable in my decision-making when it comes time, but I have some great role models to learn from!!

My sister’s “Outlaws”…a term we lovingly say based on her 20-year relationship, have been incredibly logical about their golden years. The plan had been set, down payment made, and finally executed to move into an amazing retirement village several months ago. They researched and compared many options, and the community they ultimately chose is RAD! From libraries to craft centers, incredible restaurants and overall approach, this retirement village is very forward-thinking. I believe their motto is something like “let us help you take care of yourself”. I prescribe to that concept.

Another example…and I know he will read this…is a gentleman I’ve been fitness coaching for about 10 months and paddleboard-instructing for years. He is regimented about his personal wellness (exercise, diet and health care). Like many aging bodies, he’s had knee surgery and has hip issues. Won’t we all? Best to mitigate some of the pain and inevitable decline we’ll each experience, yes? I give him props for being so determined. One might even say tenacious, and I say, “Way to go”!

This all gives me food for thought. How can I set myself up for personal success and fulfilment over time? I can’t give you my full answer today, but what I can say is that I’m going to stay active, do those things that feed my soul and make course-corrections as necessary. Thanks for listening…hope to see you out there on the frisky ripples…of life.