“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”
― Karen Blixen,
Two week countdown begins….
The start to this year wasn’t so great (understatement). I fell down, metaphorically and actually (hello pavement, this is my face) but I am on the move headed for some island breezes. Escaping the brown winter. A broken nose (you can barely tell now), the stomach flu, life troubles be damned. Traveling is a funny thing. I have done some master class grown up things since the dawn of the new year. Been sensible at my day job, cleaned out some emotional habits that did none of us any favors. My feet have been in my cow town but my mind has been climbing mountains. Looking forward to toasting what’s to come this weekend. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. And an airplane ride doesn’t hurt the process either. Thank you readers and good friends. Here’s to 2016. Just a few months late.
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Even if I didn’t write about them, I did have some lovely adventures and I love a sunset all over the world. Here’s 2015’s collection.
California for some calm and a birthday, Mexico for some chalupas and time with my cub, Michigan for a coney hot dog and some love, Cape Cod as a constant, rounding out the year with cafes in France, Costa Rican coffee and life in my cow town too.
Happy happy new year to all my loves.
Many moons ago, my mother told my father that if he was going to Europe to work for three months, well, then, despite being over forty and a new mother to two small girls, she was going as well. And so, the die for my life was cast. At 18 months old, I boarded a plane bound for Florence, Italy with my mother, her heart for adventure beating so strongly. Know she’s never ever going to be the one left behind.
An endlessly curious observer of the world, her bravery has opened so many doors for my sister and for me. She left home for college when her father wanted her to just get married to nice boy, she got a job when she was not supposed to, she dated a wild artist (everyone knows this, it’s part of her tale), and when it looked she was never going to get married, she found her soul mate in a man who lived his own adventures, with a brain that would never tire her and who made her laugh.
Love is funny, so many kinds. My parents had an unlikely love story. They loved others who brought them both to their knees and then they found in each other the kind of love that is the foundation of everything, solid, unquestioned and constant. It’s taken me years of my own loves to understand what I lived with as a child. It’s taken me even more years to understand how there’s a part of me that was forged with an iron clad certainty, so completely loved and honored, that I never accounted for it. My parents loved us so clearly, without conditions, I never even noticed what an amazing start I had been given to this crazy life of mine.
There’s lots to say about what makes a mother great. They bring us into this world (with some help, not down on dads – my father was an incredible man) and they pick us up when we fall, they celebrate our wins, hold us tight, fill us with wisdom and then let us fly free from the nest. From what I can tell, there’s no right way to do it, lots of ways to do it wrong, but most of the time, the amazing mamas of this life, well, you ladies, you get it done and we take that magic and we make our own.
I don’t have children. I chose that path for a million reasons and none. Living a life of no regrets isn’t easy and the lack of a child might have been the one that I would have struggled with the most. The good bad news is that if I had spent my last decades consumed with what wasn’t happening, rather than being present for what was, well, there’d be lots of tears today. I hope I have triumphed over my own struggles to reclaim my past, my present and yes, my future. I live today in the present, celebrating the many small people that are part of my life and getting from them the promise of tomorrow. It’s not your garden variety motherhood but it’s pretty awesome and hopeful and so I’ll take it. My own sister’s journey to being a mother is pretty remarkable and her cub, well, he’s pretty much the best thing that ever happened to us. I can share a bit of that blanket of goodness and well, it’s enough for now. Never say never though. I am at least wise enough to understand my path is always surprising me.
On this Mother’s day in the USA, I honor the woman who is a sailing, kayaking, martini (gin never vodka) drinking, wisdom giving woman, who took me out my first door and so many more, who has given me the keys to unlock the world.
Love to my mama, on this hallmark card of a holiday, because even when I am rotten (and I still can be, so rotten), every day is actually mother’s day over here.
Saw many a t-shirt throughout my time in Nepal: a little up, a little down, little seems an understatement considering men and a few very intrepid women have trekked to the top of this mystical magical Himalaya mountain time and time again to seek the top – something like 4,000 success stories, hundreds & hundreds of tragedies.
While in Kathmandu, I was able to hear Maya Sherpa (she is a female sherpa to summit Everest and a number of other peaks & this past spring the 1st Nepalese Women K2 Expedition 2014: Women Climb for Climate Change). Climbing is in her blood, spiritually, emotionally and undeniably part of her culture and as a woman, she spoke of always wanting to climb, being driven from childhood to seek the top of the world despite being born a girl. Her story is one of someone who never accepted the limitations of her gender and persevered.
Climbing today with oxygen canisters and “ice fall” doctors setting up ladders and safety line may be much easier than the expeditions of Sir Edmund Hillary and others, but the word easy is a crazy kind of understatement.
How did I summit Everest? Well, of course, I didn’t and very likely, I won’t ever get closer but endless respect in baffled awe those that do, did and will someday. All I did was take the touristy Everest flight on Yeti Airlines when in Kathmandu which was odd, quirkily funny, earnest and satisfied my needs, albeit at a safe and oxygen filled distance.
Looking at the snowy peaks from an airplane, Everest or Sagarmatha / Chomolungma is tucked behind the others a bit, the iconic peak slightly harder to see but then you do and from the Nepal side, the mountain looks forbidding, terribly cold and GIANT, the triangle top above all the others. There you are, I thought – the mountain, challenged and claimed so many lives.
Of course, we all have our own Everests. That time, that thing, that dream we cannot give up, that drives us up and up again, that suffocates us with lack of “oxygen”, that we pursue despite every single thing in our lives telling us to give up the dream, stay home, take the easier choice, hide, choose the smaller dream because the big one just might do us in, but we climb anyway, we cannot stop and all of us, united in dreaming and yearning, striving, may we be blessed with good conditions, clear skies and hopefully we all summit the peaks – a little down, a little up – now I get it.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ~ Terry Pratchett
Packing list for Nepal: trekking poles, some courage & a wide open mind.
Lots of build up this time, but I know, I am setting myself up to deliver while overseas – however fleeting my wifi is in Nepal. It’s been a while since I’ve made myself write something every day and I am trying to be disciplined about this space I created, so my dear three readers, who are probably related to me by blood (just kidding, but hello my cousins), please stay with me. Time just seems to have sped up and it’s yet it’s been too long this year since I have been away, far far away, I feel out of practice at it.
I long for that burning rubber smell that tells me I couldn’t possibly be in America, I long for jet fuel wind of airports and the race down the runway, landing on dark tarmacs in the dead of night, rides through cities I don’t know, the honking, honking, honking, buzzing, honking of chaotic streets. I long for entire days listening to another language, for places I cannot possibly make sense of in a few weeks – maybe ever. Dust, dirt, grim, ugliness – beautiful terrible places that make me feel uncomfortable and make my eye snap open. I may even long for deadly water and stomach turning street food I should not, under any circumstances eat, but maybe always manage to anyway. I’m a rebel.
All of it. Eight days… almost seven really.