All about the Journey

Almost two years ago, I sat at my coffee table eating Christmas dinner, alone. Not only was it Christmas, but it was my thirtieth birthday and I vowed from that moment on, I would do something extra special each year even if it meant I’d be doing it alone. I had spent holidays with friends and in what essentially seemed a foreign place to be celebrating the holidays before but that particular Christmas was the fourth I was spending without my parents breathing somewhere thousands of miles away. This loss only added to the heaviness of being alone on my thirtieth birthday, on a holiday that is better spent with loved ones.

I tried driving to the movie theater with the intent of distracting myself from the solitude for a couple of hours. I only ended up making matters worse when I found myself surrounded by hordes of couples and families with similar intentions. I promised myself that day that I’d write a different story thereafter.

Last year, I explored, ate, and drank my way through California’s famed wine country and this year, I head to Peru to check off the bucket-list worthy Machu Picchu amongst many other adventures including learning how to make chocolate! Peru has always inexplicably beckoned to my wandering spirit even more so than more obvious tourist destinations like Paris or London.

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Eating oysters along highway 1 at Tomales Bay, Dec. 2015

2016 has had its ups and downs like every year – thankfully not as many downs as some previous years. Nonetheless, I’d like to reflect on the positive of this year and enter into 2017 with that gratitude in my heart and mind.

I began 2016 vigorously hunting for a new job only to be promoted at my current job and assume a management role with a team of Disney loving artists. I look at Mickey Mouse’s face all day – hard to complain about that. In May, I found myself on a beautiful, rural island in the Pacific Ocean, a Hawaiian Island by the name of Kauai. I found much deserved rest and relaxation there as well as a great affinity for island life. I watched the sunset and the sunrise over the crashing waves of the sea, collected sea glass on a beach covered in it with my mother in my heart, and I ate all types of seafood like it was my job, even experiencing a mild allergic reaction to butterfish when my mouth became itchy and my lips swelled up. Thank goodness it was only mild!

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Last Sunrise in Kauai, Hawaii

The month of June brought life changing decisions and a serious surgery that was followed up by an epic eight-hour round trip hike to the top of Kearsarge Pass, an 11,760-foot peak overlooking stunning Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Forest. This weekend of camping and hiking in good company led me to a newfound love – the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range! The “range of light” as John Muir so accurately described them, left me in awe of their vast beauty, chanting “emotional pain is worse than physical pain” during the grueling climb to the top of the pass, and perhaps masochistically pining for more.

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Top of Kearsarge Pass drinking my celebratory cup of wine

While July brought loss, leaving me grieving in its aftermath, it also brought me back to the Sierra Nevadas. I took off for a solo weekend getaway one Saturday morning, ate breakfast on the banks of a pristine lake, and eagerly visited the wonder that is Mono Lake and its tufas. The following morning, I got lost on my way to a trailhead of an intended hike and when all was said and done, it didn’t feel like I had ever truly been lost. In fact, I think I was going the right way the entire time when the beautiful deer pranced out in front of my car, briefly paused, and then disappeared into the dense, dark forest.

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Convict Lake where I ate breakfast

Thanksgiving found me surprising my family in Kansas City for the holiday and what a nice treat that was to spend so much quality time with everyone, especially my eighty-six year old grandma. From listening to Elvis Presley Pandora, my grandmother’s favorite, to assembling her Christmas tree with my aunt and cousin, I was reminded just how important the family we don’t get to choose is. Happily finding a jazz lounge and touring a distillery with my best friend of eighteen years was time well spent and will certainly be a part of the memory books of our minds for years to come.

People have come and gone and I am reminded that no matter how long each person was a part of my life, be it for years or for a moment, they were all equally as important and purposeful. It’s most certainly about the journey and not the destination, nothing is an accident, there are no coincidences, people are rarely ever “joking,” and the Universe always has messages for those of us looking for them.

And here I am, one week away from a trip that I have looked forward to for so long! I am proud of my hard work, my candor, my strength, and my drive – I am proud of the loving, bold, and compassionate woman I have always been and I am unashamed of the endless hopefulness that burns brightly inside me. But you’ve seen so many disappointments in this short life, says that child’s voice inside of me that’s always seeking to protect, and to her, I respond, but my dear, without hope, we wouldn’t put one foot in front of the other, we wouldn’t look forward to or get excited about another day and all of its possibilities. Therefore, I shall always have hope.

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I am looking forward to the Peruvian journey and to thirty-two! Cheers, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, set your life on fire, seek those who fan the flames, and a Happy New Year to all of you!

Truth Crusades

My head and my heart are in what feels like constant war, as in opposing magnets on opposite sides of a spectrum, consistently contradicting one another to the near point of absolute insanity. This could also be known as anxiety but I wanted to be descriptive in order to drive the point home, to paint the picture of anatomical organs jousting to a bitter end. This battle usually takes place within my stomach thus ensuing relentless stomach pains and strange physical ailments without any tangible explanation. Sometimes the battle takes place in my shoulders or back, too, but nine times out of ten, my gut will take the brunt of the attack.

Early on, I learned that it is my responsibility to ensure everyone is happy, that par for the course I give until I have nothing left to give and even then, I can’t stop. My brain is so angered by this selflessness, understanding that such action leaves me vulnerable and open to being taken advantage of. Thus, I am left feeling utterly drained. My heart explains that it’s my duty to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to whomever is in need of it even if said person is not going to believe the truth. In the case of denial of the truth, I must not give up my duty in making said person understand. Again, my brain becomes enraged because cognitively, the idea that I have to deliver truth like I’m a part of the fucking truth crusade when that truth is being repeatedly rejected is insanity in and of itself!

All of my heart’s irrationalities are centered on this idea of never feeling like I am enough. You didn’t try hard enough. That person believes something false so you must be a terrible person for allowing that to happen. If you loved hard enough then this person would never believe such a fabricated narrative. This person is hurting so it must be your fault. If you had tried harder then said person wouldn’t be hurting.

Lest you fickle fucking heart forget about your own fucking feelings, shouts my brain from the rooftops!

But one of the people who gave me life, who made my heart beat, hated his life so I must not be good enough, replies my heart.

Well, then, what’s the point in even fucking trying, my dismayed brain, seemingly defeated, asks.

It’s fucking madness!

Amongst the battle, I am diligently working to change this narrative, so not to be a product of such conflicting, untrue, and unproductive thoughts and emotions. I am working to break the cycle so to speak. For the sake of my well-being, I can no longer be host to this war zone. Sometimes, my brain has valid points and sometimes, my heart does. I need both my brain and my heart to work together, to dwell in harmony, and compliment one another. I’m not sure how to get to said harmony but I know I’m on my way and at the end of the day, I believe it’s more about the journey than it is the destination.

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Sundown, Moon Rise

I pray sometimes. To whom? To what? I am unsure. I call it the Universe but maybe it is God, maybe it is some sort of higher power. The Universe and Mother Nature are higher powers in my eyes but the point is I pray sometimes. Does it help me? I can’t honestly say that it does. I think it’s something organized religion imposed upon society to make us sleep better at night and feel better about all of the so-called sins we commit on a daily basis. But that’s just me. In no way is this follow up a judgment upon other people’s beliefs.

I still don’t believe in luck – I really never have. Sure, I use the expressions, “I was lucky” or “You’re so lucky,” but I’ve never believed in coincidences and for someone to be lucky implies such happenstance. There are no accidents in this life – I wish I could say there were because God (or the Universe) knows how much I despise that exhausted expression that, “everything happens for a reason.” Alas, it does and whether we know and/or like the reason is an entirely different story.

Interestingly enough, I just returned from a six-day trip to my hometown of Kansas City where religion and praying and God are everywhere – even the local diner! I have complete respect for people’s beliefs except for when said people try and shove their beliefs down my throat. I love living in a country that is built on an idealistic foundation of diversity and acceptance. These ideals aren’t obviously well received or practiced in all corners of this country but the concept is there and well practiced in many places like the place I call home, Los Angeles, and we have to begin somewhere.

I am grateful for parents who never forced me to attend church but left the choice up to me, a mother who expressed her experiences and aversion with organized religion but never made me feel bad for being curious. I’ve attended Catholic mass on Christmas Eve, fell asleep in the fetal position of a pew at a Midwest, mostly white congregation of a Baptist church, pretended to feel the holy spirit at a Methodist worship service, ran out of a predominantly black Baptist church into the cold, winter night due to an anxiety attack, and been told I’m going to Hell unless I ask Jesus into my heart. This all resulted in the formation of my own spiritual beliefs – beliefs that allow me to feel peace in my soul and resonate on a higher level for me than monotonously singing Christian hymns ever did.

After lying next to death, my spirituality wavered. I began to lose a lot of faith in everything including some lifelong convictions and myself. Thankfully, spirituality is also what picked me up after so much loss, what taught me that the loss and the disappointment are worth it most of the time. My mother used to repeatedly iterate, “the price of love is grief,” and that couldn’t be a truer statement. But, I would much rather love and lose than never love at all. I would much rather experience the grief if it means I get to experience the joy, the butterflies, and the connections. And if all I’m left with are great memories, then it’s worth it.

I still want something of substance to last longer than most things in my life have. That is a sentiment I can only describe as human. I am constantly telling myself, “Life is too short. Go for what you want, Linds. Ask for what you want. Take initiative.” Lives are so full of regrets and while this may be unavoidable, having a life full of chances taken and an abundance of loss is a life well lived and precisely the true story I intend to tell even in my death.

A Righteous Revival

I once laid in bed with death, right next to it – our skins touching, my body’s warmth against its eerie absent-like coolness and my weary head upon its betraying shoulder. I managed to whisper a few nonsensical words to its deaf ears and shed a few tears in its unwelcome and untimely presence. I once vowed my life – the one I’m living right now – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health to another living, breathing human being in the attendance of other living, breathing human beings. I once allowed death to fool me into longing for its bittersweet company but I’m still living that life. I no longer vow it to anyone – not another human being, not even death – only my self.

I just want something to last longer than I, I thought to myself as I stepped into the…

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