Monday, December 5, 2016

The Gifts Of Portland

I am in the home stretch. My last days of employment outside the home are almost done. This upcoming Saturday, December 10th is my last official day. I cannot wait to come home and to just BE home.

Preparations are in the works for this celebration. Laundry that feels like it hasn't been done in the entire two months of my employment are being caught up on this week. The house is getting a much needed deep clean. The household budget it being relooked at and readjusted. Christmas lists are being revised and cut down again and again as the realization that Christmas isn't really about gifts finally is beginning to sink in.

My time working in retail, although incredibly hard for me, has presented its own unique set of gifts none of which are tangible. Tears welled up in my eyes as I walked into work on Thanksgiving as I saw the line of people waiting for the 6 pm hour when the store would open its doors and allow them to get their "great deals". I wonder how many Thanksgivings were altered so that they could stand in line for hours in the blistering rain just to get a damn TV or an iPod touch or the latest toy for the kid in their lives. I have no family in town, so working on Thanksgiving wasn't as big of a sacrifice for me as it was for others. But it doesn't mean that I didn't resent being there.

 There were employees all across America that had to miss their child's first Thanksgiving or a loved one's last (or a good part of it anyway) because they didn't want to lose their job to do so. They need their retail job to try and afford the meager life that retail pay will allow them. They cannot afford to take the risk of being fired for calling off.

The reaction of tears that I first encountered when I got to the store that night turned to anger. Anger that we have become so freaking materialistic as a nation that we would be willing to sacrifice time with family on a national holiday just to buy a piece of shit item that is most likely going to be throw away, donated,  or broken by next Christmas. Oh, and yes, you could argue that those employees don't have to work for those stores. But how many places offer the flexibility that retail stores do?

 How about instead of talking about how those people don't have to work there how about we instead show some freaking compassion and just not shop on Thanksgiving? How about we think about someone else besides ourselves when decide to shop on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve or any other holiday that requires people to be away from their loved ones when it isn't necessary. We aren't talking about police or firemen. People who are very much needed to help those in need when emergencies occur on those days. I am talking about retail store employees.

And you can tell me that the stores are open, so if you don't shop there then these employees will have shown up to work for nothing. And I will tell you that you are full of shit because those employees will not have to show up next year or the year after if you, the consumer, do not make it profitable for those stores to remain open on holidays. I bet if you took a poll and asked store employees if they would be willing to come in to an empty store, so that the next year and the year after that they did not have to sacrifice time away from their family's on the holidays they would answer a resounding 'yes'.

I think it is fair to say that I have struggled since moving to Portland. I have struggled to find the gifts of this place, but I know they are here. And some of them are starting to come to light.

I would have never been able to understand just how much I wanted to be home - how much I am needed at home - if I hadn't gotten a seasonal job here in Portland. I would have never known how much I am willing to do to stay home. That is one of the gifts of Portland.

I would have never known just how much I despise materialism unless I had moved to Portland. I knew that I didn't like it, but after moving here and living in the area that I do, and after working in retail, I have realized that I hate it. HATE IT. It leaves such a bitter taste in my mouth that I have found that I have a hard time stomaching being around people who value it. I constantly have that 'throw up in my mouth' taste when I am around flashy, arrogant, rude, 'better than thou', materialistic people. This, believe it or not, is another of Portland's gifts.

I also would not have learned how important it is to seek beauty out and how important that is to my soul. The area that I live in is very ugly to me because it is consumer driven - if that makes sense. Big houses, flashy cars, the latest gadgets, the fancy clothes, the fancy so ugly to me. I see no beauty in that lifestyle. And it surrounds me. I have learned that on our journey of going where ever my husband's employer sends us that some places will not be immediately beautiful, BUT that doesn't mean that beauty isn't around. I have found beauty in the Pacific Ocean, Mt Hood, the huge pine forests of the Pacific Northwest, just to name a few places. None of these places are exactly close, but they are all close enough to seek out. They restore my frazzled soul and bring me right again. Maybe the next move will be to the plains of Kansas (I hope not) and it may be hard for me to find beauty there, but I will know after living here, that beauty can always be found if I am willing to seek it out. This is yet again another gift of Portland.

I have had much time to reflect these last couple of weeks, more time than usual, if you can believe that. I don't know where we will be next, and I do hope that we aren't here long. Those thoughts haven't changed. But what has changed is my perspective. It seems like it is always changing as life unfolds in front of me. I have come to look forward to change in perspective as each passes before me.

Some mamas are working mamas because they love their careers. And they are better mamas because they can work outside the home. Some mamas are working mamas because they have to be, and would give anything to be able to be home with their babies (no matter how old their babies may be). My heart breaks a little for those mamas. Some mamas know that being home is their life calling. They have wanted nothing less else since they can imagine and have both God's will and a steadfast plan that allows them to do so. I salute all of these mamas. As different and diverse as they are I salute and honor them all.

And some mamas, like me, are meant to be home, but just need a little reassurance from time to time that this is where they are most needed and meant to be. This is Portland's best gift to me. Some day, when my kids and husband no longer need me at home, I will spread my wings and work, not in retail, but with the elderly in some capacity changing lives and making a difference. I feel that is my calling. But for now, my most pressing calling, and the one that matters the most is that of a homemaker, a homeschooler, and a stay at home mama. I am proud to be a homemaker. I don't think that is a derogatory word as some may perceive it to be. To me, this word is an honorable one, and I am honored to create a home for my husband and children. I am thankful for this job. It is one that I am good at.

Home. I cannot wait. On Saturday night at 10:01 pm Pacific Time I will be free. Free to do what I love the most. Free to be with my kids and my husband. Free to be with my dogs and guinea pigs too. Free to focus all of my energy on creating the best home for those I love the most.

Thank you, Portland for making me work to see your gifts. Things worked for are remembered much better than things just given. Thank you for hiding your gifts and forcing me to seek them out. Thank you for bringing me further on the path in creating a life uniquely mine. I have found that it is through struggle and hardship that the most prized gifts are found. You have certainly not let me down. Now it is my turn to take your gifts and use them to help me soar.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She Could Have Been Me

I quit my job last night.

I was on the fence about it for several weeks. And once I found out April had died my decision on what to do became crystal clear.

It was a seasonal job - one that management had extended an offer to continue beyond that - in retail. To be honest, I was good at the job. I am a people pleaser and can provide excellent customer service. Our customers really liked that because good customer service is sometimes hard to come by. I liked my co-workers too. They are a diverse and fun bunch of gals. I earned their respect quickly when they saw that I am a worker and was there to get stuff done. But...retail work is hard. Crazy schedules. And with the holiday's approaching the schedule just got crazier. Bob had a bunch of PTO to burn, so he was taking time off so that I could work day after day. I was becoming a cranky zombie. And we all know how the saying "When mama ain't happy..." goes.

I got the job because I don't want to feel owned by anyone anymore. Not a credit card company. Not a car loan company. Not a student loan company. I am tired of owing companies money. I want our family to be truly free of any and all financial obligations, and to live that way we need to be 100% debt free. I want us to get to the point where we can pay cash for just about everything. So, in order to do that I felt I had to get a part time (which ended up not really being part time, but almost full time) job. I still have all of my checks from the beginning of October uncashed sitting in a pile in a drawer. I wanted to collect a certain amount of money and then start paying off large chunks of this and that. (Don't worry the checks don't expire until February, so they are still going to be valid when I cash them.)

But working outside the home was hard for me. I have an immense amount of respect for working mamas who don't have the choice to quit their jobs and manage to do all of their career stuff, mama stuff, house stuff, etc...Seriously, you women are freaking Superheros.

But even though my goal of not owing "the man" anything is still a huge goal of mine and it is important that we accomplish it we can do it as a family over time instead of right now. The whole time I was working I felt this huge pull to be at home. Shift after shift I would get home, walk in the door, and tell myself that I really needed to quit my job because the sacrifice just wasn't worth it to me. And day after day I would walk out the door all the while knowing that my gut was telling me to stay home. (Obviously, I am an incredibly stubborn and slow learner because my gut has been offering me insight my whole life and I often choose to ignore it only to realize down the road that I should have listened to that internal voice of mine the instant it spoke to me.)

April's death has rocked me.

And it has rocked me not only because she was a beautiful, kind, wonderful person who was taken away from this earth way too early, but also because she could have been me.

Death has rocked me three times in the last two years. (Prior to these deaths I have very little experience with death personally. I still have 3 of 4 grandparents living, and the fourth grandparent died when I was very young leaving me with only sporadic memories. I still have all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc...) And in all of those instances those deaths had a profound impact on me for both the obvious reasons that people I knew were unequivocally affected by the death, but also because in everyone one of those cases I could have been the one in their shoes.

The first death rocked me the hardest. Some of my dearest and closest friends lost their daughter less than a month after her birth. It was an unfair and unjust death. (As if death is fair and just...) And I watched from a distance as we settled in to Las Cruces as they picked up the pieces of a shattered life. I sometimes wonder if there were days when their oldest, a sweet little boy with an infectious smile and an angelic voice, is what kept them moving forward. And I watched a Daddy pour his heart out on Facebook about the last moments of his daughter's life with tears streaming down my face as his anguish and heartbreak took on a life of their own through his poetic words. And I saw a Mama try to keep her emotion in check and close to her heart bearing her soul to only those absolutely closest to her. Trying to keep it in, I imagine, for the sake of all of those around her, but also because she is just the kinda gal who keeps things tucked away in secret pockets of her heart. The death of a child. Can you even imagine?

I could have been them.

The second death was a couple of months after we left Ohio. A mother that I had been on the PTA with when the kiddos were in public school was posting pictures of her and her husband on (if my memory serves me right) a Caribbean vacation having a blast and enjoying each other's company. Several weeks later he was dead. He had cancer that he did not know about and when doctors found it he had only weeks of life left. He didn't know this at the time though. I see that woman's posts on Facebook. I know that she struggles still with his death. And I think about her more often than she knows. She is a widow with two children my own children's ages.

I could have been her.

The third death is obviously April's death. Here is a vibrant woman. A mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc..She was 37 just like me. (Not younger like I thought.) Here is a woman who caught a strain of strep that spiraled out of control for some reason and she ended up dead because of it. Strep. A common virus that most people fight off every day, but for whatever reason this time she could not. One day she was healthy and living life. And then all of the sudden she wasn't.

I could have been her.

How is it that I still get to have my husband, children, and my own life and there are others that I know and, in some cases, love very much who do not? How does that work? Does God just pick us out of a lottery and decide who gets the misery of dealing with the death of a husband, child, or self?

And if it is a lottery of chance I find myself feeling guilty. How is it that I get to be so lucky? I am not better than any of these people. I am not kinder, or more just, or more sincere. I have not done more good works or deeds. There is nothing that separates me from these people whose lives have been torn apart. (Or in April's case - others lives have been torn apart.) Or is the joke really on me because my time of misery is coming, but I just don't know it yet? (Which I suppose is more likely the scenario as we are all going to die at some point.)

But death isn't supposed to be like this. It isn't supposed to happen to those we know. It is supposed to happen to other people. For us, it is supposed to happen to everyone we know in their old age and in their sleep. Isn't that the fairy-tale that is told to us as children? Isn't that the fairy-tale that we tell our children still? Death is supposed to come in the night. Silently and painlessly.

Oh, but age and experience tells us otherwise. There is reason that death is known as the grim reaper. Death rarely comes easily and painlessly. Death is hard and ugly. Death is mean. Death either comes quickly and violently or slowly and painfully. Death is rarely merciful.

So, how do I reconcile the guilt I feel about living while others I know do not get that privilege?

I have been up the last few nights thinking about this question, and I touched a bit on it yesterday in this post, but I feel compelled to share it again because it is so important to me.

I can live my life with purpose.

 I can stop doing the things that I don't love. And start doing the things I do.  I can cultivate the friendships that sustain me. I can get rid of the ones that do not. I can quit a job that isn't necessary in order to do a job that is not only necessary, but is where my heart is - being a stay a home mama and homemaker. Because not everyone women gets to do what her heart desires. April would give anything to have more time with her kids. I didn't know her very well, but I can guarantee that I know enough of her to know that this is true.

 I can love on my kiddos with purpose. I can pay attention to their words when they speak to me. I can just BE with them with all of me. Not the distracted me they so often get. I can marvel at each milestone they cross. I can celebrate their just being alive. Because not all parents get this privilege.

 I can cherish my husband more and honor the life we have built together one memory and decision at a time. I can look at him and know that we created this family together. And marvel at it. I can look at our life and marvel at it and know that we created this together as well. Through good times and bad. Not all wives get that privilege.

The things that we deem as a society as being important are not important. Stop buying into the lie that they are. You know deep inside what is most important to you. You carry that information around deep inside you, but you bury it because it may look so very different from the way that you are living now. And change is scary. And maybe you don't know if you are brave enough for that kinda change. But you are. Trust me. Because when you are dead you will wonder why you didn't live your life as you really wanted to. When you are dead all of the stuff that you allowed to take center stage of your life while dreaming of another more authentic life will seem like such a waste of an opportunity.

I don't  know if April's death, being the third one in the last two years, is what has brought about such a shift in my thought process, but something has been moved within me that cannot be put back. The other two deaths shifted me on the inside, but this death has taken that shift and moved it completely. I am not the same person that I was just a few days ago. It is as if the Butterfly Effect has taken flight within me and profoundly changed my life in ways that I couldn't have seen coming.

Her death is like a screaming message of how bullshit I live my life. How full of words I am, but so little action. Oh, sure...I am gonna do this and that and this and that...someday. HELLO?!  Who am I to think that I am gonna be granted someday?! Who am I to live my life as if I have a million somedays to just keep putting shit off? I am but dust in the wind. In this huge cosmic world I am but a speck of a speck of dust. Who do I think I am that I can plan for the future in such a way?

 I wonder if the dead watch the living and get so pissed off at us because we spend our lives doing things that aren't authentic to who we are because we invest too much of ourselves in useless, meaningless, crap that doesn't amount to jack squat.

That is the thought that I am going to carry with me from now on. Am I living a life and doing the things that are authentic to me RIGHT NOW? Because, in my mind, that is the only way to honor the dead. Living a life that is truly mine. Authentic to me, and NOT some version of how someone else thinks I should live my life. And living this life no matter what. No matter if it is hard. Or if it changes some of my relationships. Or if it means I veer off of the paths that I have set out upon.

Because I would bet my life that those three souls: the husband, the daughter, and the young woman would give anything to have another go at life again. To have the opportunity to do all of the things that I take for granted  I am not sure about much. But you better believe that I am sure about that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sometimes There Are No Answers

An acquaintance that I have known for around 15 years died suddenly and unexpectedly two days ago. She was a year younger than me and left behind two small children ages 2 & 4. Even though it has been years since we have spoken I cannot stop thinking about her and those closest to her who are mourning deeply because of her death.

What I will remember most about this person is her smile. I know that sounds so cliche because it seems like everyone has only glowing things to say about the deceased once they are no longer with us, but with this person it is the honest to God's truth. She smiled a lot and her eyes sparkled when she did so. That will always be my memory of her.

I have always been told that I am an emotional person. I am sensitive - I have been told that my whole life. A lot of the time it was presented to me as a negative attribute. "Oh, don't be so sensitive." or "You are too sensitive. Grow thicker skin." are things that were said to me time and time again. But my sensitivity is a part of me just like the color of my eyes. I cannot change that part about me, nor do I want to, because as I age I see the value of my sensitivity and I cherish it even when the feelings I experience are as intense as they are now.

Because of my sensitivity this woman's death has left me feeling raw. The night I heard about her passing from this world into another I could not fall asleep. I kept thinking about her husband and children. What their lives will be like now without their wife & mother? How do you explain to a 2 year old that her mother is no longer among the living? And does a 4 year old understand that concept any better?

I get angry when I think about these things. Angry that there situations in life where there are no answers. Or the answers there are aren't just or fair. I want an answer and a solution to every problem and injustice that I come across. And when there are none I feel lost and unsure and I question a God that doesn't use his powers to heal all those who are afflicted with disease, sickness, poverty, war, famine, etc...

I wonder what wisdom this woman could  impart on us now that she is gone from this world into another. What are the things that she wishes she could do over, or do more of, or not do at all?

Her death is a jolt to my system as I find myself once again living my life autopilot. Shame on me. Who is to say that it won't be me tomorrow or next year or in five years that people will be paying tribute due to an untimely death?

What are the things that I will have wished that I had done differently? Will I have lived a meaningful life? Will I have been the best mother I could have been? The best wife? The best daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin, friend?

What things am I doing now that when I pass on will seem like such bullshit things? What are things that I am doing in my life that just don't matter? And why am I still doing them?

Here I am with the gift of life. I get to hug my children still. I get to watch them grow. I get to walk this life beside my husband. What would this woman give to be able to do these same things? My heart breaks thinking about such things.

Death is reminder to the living to stop living in a bullshit way.

Just stop it. Stop doing things you don't love. Stop trying have bigger and better material possessions. Stop arguing with loved ones over petty things. Stop living with a hardened heart.

Start doing the things you do love. Start nourishing the relationships that mean the most to you. Travel if you want to. Stay put it you want to. Take risks. Do scary things. Do hard things. Be brave - and bravery looks different to everyone.

Live a meaningful life. And I don't mean a meaningful life based on others values, assumptions, and ideas. I am talking about a meaningful life based on your own values, assumptions, and ideas. A live that is uniquely and authentically yours.

THIS is the gift that we can give the dead. To our lives with purpose. To stop doing shit that doesn't matter. To take stock on our lives and get rid of what isn't working no matter what changes come about because of that.

Life fleeting. Life is not guaranteed. Life can take be taken swiftly and without warning.

So, let's stop living as if we have infinite tomorrows. Because I can think of one woman who would give just about anything to have the gift of life that we have.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Roots & An Anchor

I like to think of myself as a tree with deep beautiful roots that I could not live without. These roots are plentiful. Some of them are longer, thicker, and more life sustaining for me than others are, but they are all important. My roots sustain me. They keep grounded. They allow me to bend and sway. They keep me firmly planted underneath the soil so that I can stretch my branches out in all different directions above the soil. My root system is what allows me to have an adventurous spirit. My root system is what has allowed me to sprout from a seed to a sapling to the beautiful tree I am today. It will be what grows me into the wise old tree I will become in the years to come.

My root system is my family.

It is my mother, father, sister, brother, their spouses, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, and of course, my beloved grandfather.

I love my family. Very much.

Without them, I could not live the life I lead. And although I know that some of them wish I could just stay planted in Ohio with them I am so grateful that they know that the wind calls me to other places and destinations. And that I must follow that call because if I didn't I would wither and the spirit that makes me like the tree I am would die.

I love my family more than I ever have because they have allowed me to take flight and seek adventure outside of the confines of my home state(s).


One of my favorite things about life is that I learn so much as I go. I know that the pieces of my life are like one big puzzle. Sometimes I put a couple of puzzle pieces together and I can see that they are gonna make something, but I am not sure how those pieces fit into the bigger picture in the puzzle of life.

I love adventure. I think that is fairly obvious in the way that our family seeks to live our lives. I love experiencing new things and places. I love creating a community with people all over the country. I love exposing my kids to new people, cultures, ideas. I am passionate about adventure. It calls to me.

I am learning though that as much I need adventure I also need an anchor. I need a line that will allow me to explore and seek out all that my heart desires while quietly giving me a consistent place to come back to and recharge.

I need a HOME.

A HOME to me is like HOPE. It is something that I cannot live without. It is a feeling. It is a life force. It calls me, pulls me, sustains me. HOME is where my light shines brightest and best. HOME to me is more than just people. Because if that were the case then Ohio would be the place I would want to call home because my family is there. But I Ohio is not my home, so I know that HOME is more than people.

 HOME is a feeling. It is the place where I see God every day. HOME is where this adventurous heart stills - even if only for short periods. HOME is the place I want to come back to time and time again. HOME is also the place that calls me back time and time again.

HOME is the place where I do not care about climbing corporate ladders. HOME is the place where I do not care about fancy cars, houses, clothes. HOME is where my heart still. HOME is where I see beauty in the everyday experiences of life. HOME is wild and free. HOME is a come as you are welcoming feeling.

Just as like a tree cannot live without its root system. I cannot live without my HOME base. In order to be able to seek adventure from now on, I need a steady place to always come back to. But it cannot be just any place. It needs to be a place with a landscape that matches its people. It has to have a gravitational pull on my heart. It has to be a place I yearn for when I am not there. It has to be a place where I come back to and take a deep breath and know that I am home.

As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home."

Even if that means altering our lives off the path we had envisioned for our lives. I want to go where the living is easy, where there is beauty around me every day, and where my tribe of people are.

New Mexico is calling. I need to follow its call. I need to go home to Las Cruces.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Where My Heart Smiles

Tomorrow Josh and I will be boarding a plane in Portland, OR heading down to Dallas, TX. Josh was asked to be a guest player on his former soccer team from New Mexico. It is an honor that he does not take lightly. He is excited to be able to be given a chance to play with some of his old teammates, and although he is playing it cool, every now and then he will let his excitement slip only to pull it close to him again as he does not want to betray his "cool as a cat" teenage persona.

As for me? Well, let's just say I am over the moon at the ability to be with my surrogate family again. I have missed this group of families so, so, so much. These families are what made New Mexico home to me. They are what make New Mexico home to me still.

Home is where the heart is. My home is with them in the Land of Enchantment.

Home is where my heart smiles. My heart will be smiling a lot this weekend as I will be surrounded by these families all weekend long as we cheer on our sons during this soccer tournament. It will be as it should be.

I know myself well enough to know that I will be both crying and smiling all weekend long. It will be a genuine smile and it will light up my whole face. And I will be happy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Plans For When I Can See by Sarah Gregg

It is not often that the wounds of Sarah's disease rip open. As time goes by the distance of all that we have been through and the new memories created with our new life as the mother, father, sister, brother living with a loved one who is blind have created some much needed space between the haunting ache that a ravaging disease creates.

Even Sarah has found ways to thrive in spite of all of her obstacles. You all know that. You have seen her through these posts accomplishing much and making the most of her new life. I forget that Sarah may have dreams of one day seeing again because I am so focused on creating a wonderful life for her as a blind person that I lose sight of the fact that while she will thrive as a non-visual adult she would still give a lot to have her vision back.

One night Sarah couldn't sleep and crept downstairs to get her braille writer in the middle of the night. In the morning, I found this list on the living room table. Before reading it, I asked Bob if he had seen it. He said he had and thought it was Sarah's Christmas list.

When I began to read the title of the list I instantly had tears spring up into my eyes because this list was no Christmas list. My heart broke (again) in a million different pieces when I read this list because it is a reminder to me that life isn't fair. The optimism that I try to live by gets blown out the door when surprises like this show up and is instead replaced by a fury that this is the world that we live. A world in which children face terrible diseases with uncertain outcomes and no cures.

This list is simple and beautiful and is filled with the things that you and I take for granted  Sarah just wants to be able to do the most basic things, but for her they will be the most spectacular things. This list is proof that the ordinary things in life really are the most extraordinary.

Without further adieu - here is Sarah's list:

Plans For When I Can See
by Sarah Gregg

  1. Stare at everything.
  2. Write my name, add numbers, multiply
  3. Draw anything
  4. Play Minecraft all night.
  5. Play soccer all day.
  6. Watch the latest movies.
  7. Write my ABC's ten times.
  8. Read and read and read.
  9. Look at pictures.
  10. Tell everyone I know (that I can see)
  11. Do my happy dance.
  12. Facetime people. (She doesn't like to do this right now because she cannot see anyone.)
  13. Drive a car.
  14. Beat Josh in FIFA.
  15. Party.

I cannot wait for the day when I can watch her as she checks off each one of these things on this list. I have HOPE that one day this will happen. And when it does I will shouting from the mountain tops for all of the world to hear. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thankful For: Time Alone

One of the best things about my husband is that he encourages me to take the time I need to mentally recharge. He allows me the freedom to go out as much as I want to for as long as I would like to no questions asked. I don't often take him up on his ever present offer, but I am getting better at doing so. I used to think that only selfish moms recharged. I used to think that I had to give and give and give to my family until I could give  no more and be completely depleted of everything that I have.

I used to think that, but now I know better. 

I still struggle with taking enough time for myself. And there are still times when I get depleted, but I am slowly learning to not allow myself to get to that point.  I cannot be a good mom to my kids if I am not good to myself first. 

Last Saturday I spent the day at the ocean. Just me, myself, and I. I left before lunch and got back around 8:30 pm. I took my journal, some books, and my camera and walked down to Crescent Beach where I took the sunshine and the waves. I didn't explore too much as the waves were ferocious and were constantly coming up on the shoreline in a way that only the truly daring would chance exploring the caves and crevices on the beach. So, I found myself a nice rock upon which to make camp. It wasn't supposed to be sunny that day, but God knew how much I needed the sun I guess and surprised me a beautiful day.

Given that this is November 1st I thought I would try to spend as much time as I can this month writing about the things I am thankful for. It will help me to see all of the good in my life even when life is hard. So, in that vein here is the the first thing I am thankful for this month:

I am thankful for time alone.

 I am thankful even more for time alone in Mother Nature. I always walk away feeling refreshed and recharged after a day at the forest, the ocean, the mountain, or the desert. Being in nature reminds of what is important in life. It helps to redirect my thoughts on the unimportant and insignificant and focuses them on all that really matters to me. Being in alone in nature is where I feel most beautiful. It is where I feel the most authentic. It is where I feel the most at home.

This is what my day looked like:

I always feel like I walking through Narnia when I take the path from Escola State Park down to Crescent Beach. The trees and the stillness make me feel like I could see Aslan at any moment.