When the water rises, you swim (finding beauty where you didn’t look)

You must find beauty where you would least expect it if you want to survive in this world. It’s okay to fall under the heartache, the pain, the anger, the frustrations- but you must always find the strength to search out your reason to stand again. You must open your eyes and search for the beauty that will inspire you to move forward. It will always be there, though you might not always be ready to see it. 

It doesn’t happen very often that the world tosses a perfect analogy into your lap. When the fortuitous hands of fate decide to gift you with a little ironic gem, it is best to grin and say thank you. This past weekend- I found my figurative self in literal nature.

There’s a park by my house that I don’t go to all that often. It’s called Cottonwood Beach because it has a small sandy shore right along the river. During summer, this is where everyone pretends they are lounging alongside the ocean, though we are several hours from it. There’s history along this river; Lewis and Clark traveled through here, and you will see statues and monuments peppered all along their trail. In fact, they even wrote about this particular little beach after spending six days camping there during March and April of 1806. It was in the running to be the winter camp for the group of explorers, but eventually it lost to Fort Clatsop. To commemorate their stay here, we have a park named in their honor, as well as beautiful monuments and statues placed in memory of their fearless pursuit into the unknown. Large cement canoes sit along the upper shore, there’s the outline of an old post, and beautiful walkways to enjoy.





Now, it’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with my anxiety issues lately, and if I’m honest, I’ve been feeling that persistent burn in virtually all areas of my life. On Saturday, I was starting to feel like I was drowning, slipping under the frustration that I was letting envelope my life. So I did the one thing I know to do in those situations. I called my sister and we went to the park.

What I find so ironic, is that I reached out because I felt that I was figuratively slipping underwater. And then we ventured off to this little park on a beautiful 90 degree day- and this little spot was literally underwater. That’s right- after a few weeks with very little rain, we still managed to flood. Nature has an odd sense of humor, but for once- the irony to be found in this analogy hit me right between the eyes. There was no missing this nudge. 


At first I was a bit annoyed- what were we going to do now? Of course, it was just my luck that the one time I try to go here, there really is no ‘here’ to go to. Well, my dear friends, if there is any lesson you should take from me it is this: if you can’t beat them, join them.


Instead of turning back around like everyone else, we waded in and headed for the little patch of dry ground on the other side. There is something thrilling when you follow an underwater trail (even a gravel one that is only headed straight). We enjoyed the fact that for once the place was calm and quiet. We sat in the partially sunken cement canoes and listened to the calming melody of the river. We watched three different families of geese paddling around right beside us. It turned out to be completely and utterly beautiful. This misadventure that I nearly chalked up to another moment of bad timing and rotten luck wound up being the salve I needed to soothe the panicked voice inside. When I climbed into that cement boat, I was climbing into my own personal life preserver. I found solace in the beauty of a nature that cannot be contained by human elements. I found a moment of clarity in a world that is always running so damn fast.





Sometimes when it seems like the world is turning it’s back on you, when nothing is going right and all you can do is throw up your hands and yell ‘of course!’ Perhaps you should take a moment to stop and really look around. The world could be holding out your saving grace- you just don’t recognize it. There is beauty in every moment, there is an adventure in every story- you just have to find it my friends. I found mine sitting in the bottom of a cement canoe in the middle of a flooded park- the last place I would have thought to look. Imagine how many gifts the world has offered you, and you just walked by without recognizing them. We are guilty of this, but we do not to be. I must always remind myself to slow down and tilt my head so I can see the world from a new angle. It’s all about perspective, my friends. Don’t be afraid to look- you will be disappointed.

After a crazy Christmas comes PJ day!

Good morning! (good afternoon, good evening and goodnight as well, depending on when you read this). I hope yesterday everyone had a magical time filled with fun, family and friends. I hope the stresses of the season didn’t dampen the glow of excitement that pervaded the air. I will admit, it took me a tad longer than usual to get into the holiday spirit, but now that it has officially come and gone, I don’t know how ready I am to see it go. My poor fiancé got sick last night, so I think we have the perfect excuse to lay around in our pjs drinking excessive amounts of coffee and watching all of those Christmas movies I never quite got around to this year. Not to mention playing with a few new gizmos and gadgets (and reading, oh so much reading).

Now, I am not a particularly materialistic person, but I will openly admit that I love geeking out over unusual items (those BuzzFeed: get through this list without spending $50 kill me every time). I have a deep fascination with the odd, obscure, and downright rare. I find my inspiration in the oddest of places. This year for Christmas my family and I had decided we wanted to do less stuff. We were going to spend more time on events that we could do together and memories that we could make, which we did. Though I must admit, we all fell back into the typical cycle of wanting to give to one another- to see the joy in another’s face when they opened a little gift from us. The benefit to having less of an emphasis on material items this year led to a surprising outcome: the gifts that were all exchanged carried some deep meaning that left many of us dabbing at sparkling eyes wet with happy tears. There was a book that my dad read to us every Christmas growing up that he found recordable version of- which he recorded himself reading, for us to enjoy forever and share with our future children someday. That way no matter how far apart we may be, he can still read us the book on Christmas Eve (I did cry with this one). There were also a few perfect little items that captured the soul with the deep understanding the giver had for the receiver.

You see, material possessions don’t really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. But yesterday I learned the power behind a heartfelt gesture that can take the form of something as simple as a coffee mug. I have always struggled with being completely open about who I really am underneath it all; my insecurities stamp their feet and demand to be noticed any time I try to get the courage to talk about some of the things that I love, things that are so deeply personal that to have them cast aside by someone I care for would wound me far more deeply than I would care to admit. My writing, for example; I am always nervous to discuss it, in fear that others will dismiss this humble little dream of mine, afraid that they will read my words and decide that I am just not particularly good at it. I hate to admit that their opinions do matter to me; it’s not that they could ever convince me to stop writing, it is as much a part of my identity as my nose is an integral part of my face. But they could conceivably convince me that perhaps my words should be for my alone, and that maybe this dream just isn’t right for me to chase. They have the power to give a louder voice to my fears and insecurities, and I don’t know what kind of damaged that emboldened voice could do.

But yesterday I was given a tiny little nudge of support in the form of a little coffee mug. It came from my soon-to-be in-laws who have always shown me unquestioned support in all of my writing endeavors. It had a little writerly quote on it, and meant more to me than I was able to say. This was a physical acknowledgment of their support and acceptance of something that is deeply ingrained in me, it was a nod to the fact that over the years we have become close enough to share these silly little dreams. And it was a reminder that they have my back 100%, no matter how many times I devolve into a babbling incoherent mess everytime they ask me about my current project. It was just a little coffee mug, but it meant so much more than that to me.

This particular picture is just to show the entire quote on the mug, as it wraps around the mug too far for me to get a good picture of the full thing.

Yesterday was a beautiful day for myself and my family (minus the surprise illness of my fiancé, who is luckily already feeling a bit better today). I somehow managed to hit all of the important stops (we were bouncing between houses like a ping pong ball), but inexplicably, this year I didn’t feel that same stress and strain. Perhaps because for once we all started out our day with only the hopes of spending a bit of quality time with one another. We took the time to step back and really see one another, have compassion for the year we have all endured together, and reminded one another of what was really important. We shared mountains of love instead of scaling heaps of unnecessary items. For the first year in ages I have walked away from the day feeling refreshed and revitalized. I can only hope that you, my friends, felt the same love and relaxation from a day that all too often loses its meaning. As we careen towards the fresh start of a new year, I will attempt to hold onto this peace I have found. 

For at least one more day, I am going to mosey around my house with my Santa slippers and fuzzy pajamas, drinking hot tea and watching family movies as my normally energetic puppers sleeps on my feet (as it turns out, tearing up all of his new toys and hiding the TWO different bones people slipped to him yesterday has been a rather draining task). Today I will find comfort in- well, the daily comforts I so often push aside in my persuits of other ‘more productive’ things. Sometimes the best thing you can do is take a step back and enjoy the rare gift of a peaceful moment while you have it. The new year is quickly approaching, and with it will come a fresh determination to tackle yet another list of goals, one more mountain to climb. So for today, I will rest and enjoy the journey that has brought me right here.