Archive | Nature RSS feed for this section

A Confession Session

15 Sep

Last week in The Dancing Runner, I read a really fun post called Confession Session. I love Chelsea’s blog. Her writing is consistently upbeat and inspiring, particularly when it’s about two of my favorite things—running and dancing. This one, however, had a different twist and I decided to steal the idea. Here are some highlights from the past few weeks plus a couple of random facts you may not know about me. Thanks, Chelsea!

35 is the new 25! Okay, I actually read that on a fertility blog, but it still totally applies! I had the most wonderful birthday! I turned a spry 35 last Sunday and instead of going camping like I usually do, I opted to do something a little more accessible—brunch. To make it even more fun than brunch already is, I announced a theme. The theme was tutus! My friends never disappoint me. It was tutus all around. Oh, and did I mention my restaurant of choice had $5 bottomless mimosas? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer.

2014-08-31 10.22.47

2014-08-31 10.26.07

2014-08-31 11.37.31

2014-08-31 11.44.26-1

2014-08-31 12.01.06

2014-08-31 12.04.31

2014-08-31 12.07.07-1

I’m a Harriette. I’ve never written about this part of my life on the blog, but it’s a big part, so it should be mentioned! This group, the Hash House Harriers, is known to be “a drinking club with a running problem.”  Basically, it is very similar to a scavenger hunt, only instead of scrabbling around town, searching for a trinket or landmark, the harriers (runners) are scavenging on a flour-marked trail for beer hidden by the hares (trail-layers). I’ve been a member for two years now, and though I cannot keep up with the FRBs (Front Running Bastards), I have just as much fun as those who get to the beers first. The group makes it a point to label everything lasciviously (when you’re new you’re a virgin; when you lay trail for the first time, you’re de-floured), and hands out tawdry names to each member when they’ve done something “stupid enough” for the pack to agree on. For example, my hash name is Tainted Trench. (I could tell you how I earned it, but then I would also have to make you come to the hash yourself to experience the full Monty!) And if you think this is just a Portland thing, think again. This group started in Malaysia by a pack of Brits who wanted to get out from under their weekend hangovers in the 1930s. These days there are Hash House Harriers coast to coast in the United States, and on every continent! Yes, there are some timid folks who think that hashing is not for them; there is a lot of shit-talking as well as actual shit-on-trail—hashers prefer to barrel through blackberries and muddy creeks rather than take the path more often traveled: the clean, paved one. However, if you can get through your mental blocks and come to peace with the fact that you may get a little scratched up, you’ll experience one of the most fun physical activities on earth, and a vast accumulation of forever friends.

I found out that my dentist is circumcised. I’m sorry! I tried (admittedly not very hard), but I couldn’t keep that one to myself. It started out as banter about what we were doing over the weekend. He said, “I’m going to Ecuador” (as one often does on the weekends), and that sparked a chat about toilets in developing countries. When we got to the dreaded squat toilet part of the conversation, it got a little hairy (har har). Now, picture me listening to his story as he is hovering over my open mouth, the table leaning precariously toward his twig and berries. He says, “So, I was in Palestine this one time, and I’ll tell you there’s no privacy in those bathrooms. The attendant kept giving me the side eye, you know, because I’m circumcised. Jews are circumcised, and it’s not good to be a Jew in Palestine!” Okay okay, I get it! He continued with a whimsical description of the toilets in Korea, but I could not get the immature giggle out of my head. It almost bubbled out; it was so close. I mean, come on, this guy is my dad’s age. Politics and adventure aside, what other reaction could I have from his story than EWWWWWWWWWWW!

Oregon Wine Country. I love wine tasting (Who doesn’t?) but don’t do it nearly enough. This past weekend some girlfriends and I found a free afternoon, and took a lovely jaunt into Oregon’s wine country. We were lucky to find a Groupon for A Blooming Hill Vineyard. There are several deals for local wineries—I highly recommend you take advantage of it! It was absolutely gorgeous, and impossible to believe that we were only a short drive from Portland. The owners were a darling couple who had converted their home into a simple yet elegant winery which overlooks their vineyard in addition to a beautiful view of distant hills and valleys.

2014-09-07 14.46.14

2014-09-07 14.47.31

2014-09-07 14.55.47

2014-09-07 14.57.53

Bird’s the word. I would never ever call myself a bird watcher. There is one time a year, though, that I pack my picnic basket and a blanket, and I make my way to Chapman Elementary School in NW Portland to wait for dusk, and the famed Vaux swifts. Up to 35,000 swifts, the biggest migrating group in the world, create an astounding vortex as they prepare to roost each night in the chimney. It is an amazing sight that words truly cannot convey. Saturday night I grabbed a group of friends and we sat on the soccer field, observing the bird tornado and several dozen children “sledding” down the dusty hill on cardboard sleighs. It was probably the largest group of birds I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here in Portland, and it never gets old.

No sleep ’til Brooklyn (and the rest of NYC)! I’m leaving for my first trip to New York City in t-minus two weeks! I’m incredibly excited but still collecting my travel research, so help me out! Send me recommendations for things I must see, do, and experience! Tell me a route I have to run! Let me know your favorite salsa club! Suggest big city travel tips! Give me advice on public transportation! I’m all ears.

This ends the inaugural Confession Session by Becky. Feel free to use the idea for your own blog, and please, leave a link in the comment section if you do, so I and my readers can enjoy it. Have a great Monday, friends!

Looking Out For the Littlest Happy Things

3 Aug

For the month of July, I made a concerted effort to live in the present and enjoy each moment. I stopped putting pressure on myself to have it all because I realized that it WILL come. When we cling only to what we know and let overwhelming fear in, it’s because we are trying to hold on too tight to control. I realized I had to stop chasing this controlled ending or I will lose precious time. No one knows what path their journey will take. Some of us want to try to guide it, but only the universe truly knows where it will go.

I did several things to help myself along: I withdrew my profile from the dating site I was on. I practiced gratitude often. I made an effort to unplug more consistently. I ate whole foods. I expressed myself honestly and confidently instead of holding back because I wanted to sugar-coat a statement. I spent productive time alone. I took myself out on dates.

Happy face on a hike

Happy face on a hike

I also decided to be more assertive in the pursuit of my passions. I want to see opportunities more easily when they are offered to me. We tend to have tunnel vision and close ourselves off to creativity when we are in a rut. These are a few ways I can lead myself away from that tendency.

  • I will write more consistently (and publish more often). Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and I tend to run away from it when I feel anxiety about the future. I should be doing the opposite! Some of us have natural talent, but practicing our craft is what make us great.
  • I will open my eyes to the creativity that the world gives freely, and use it. We don’t always take advantage of the gifts that are bestowed upon us every single day. We shouldn’t be wasting them.

The first thing I did to kick off the month was take myself out to a movie. ALONE. It was great!

In the first week of July, I gave myself a gift. I bought my plane ticket to New York. I had been hemming and hawing, not wanting to pull the trigger because I hadn’t yet planned everything out perfectly. No longer! The trip will fall into place in the next few months, and I am comfortable with that.

7652445506_741fae8f20_z

Over the next few weeks, I did many things for myself. I chose new podcasts to listen to. I attended an overnight event with 100+ people I have never met (and a few that I know very well). I cherished quality friend and family time. I tried new activities, including an amazing class that combined belly dance, yoga, and aromatherapy. It turned out to be quite transformative. I attended a meetup without a wing man to provide comfort, forcing me to talk to strangers on my own merits. As much as I am a people person most of the time, there are moments when I am shy. Walking into a place knowing absolutely no one is one of those. Everyone was friendly of course, and I even left with some future salsa partners. I went camping for five days in Olympic National Park with two friends. Talk about adventure! There were challenging hikes, beautiful sights, and giggles galore over games of Canasta and Yahtzee. I tried new beers at Brewfest on the Portland waterfront. I treated myself to a massage and acupuncture, and it was totally worth it. I allowed myself to emotionally heal over some issues I’d been hiding from. It felt fantastic.

The best things, though, were the small things. I walked around the farmers market and enjoyed fresh fruits right out of the pint. I let the tinkle of a child’s laughter float over me and fill me with joy. I found heart shapes in nature and took pictures. I read books, listened to bands playing in the park, and took a day off work midweek just because I wanted to. What a fabulous month. In August, I intend to take the spirit of the last 31 days and keep the energy going. I have some great ideas but welcome more! Book or podcast suggestions, activity invitations and restaurant recommendations especially appreciated. I hope you are enjoying the summer as much as I am! Drop me a note here and tell me what special treats you are giving yourself during the sunny months.

 

Beautiful Lake Crescent

Beautiful Lake Crescent

100_2372

Heart-shaped rock

100_2391

Hearts in nature

Snowpocalypse Recap

12 Feb

Hello from snowy freezing slushy Portland, Oregon! We’ve finally melted and all is pretty much back to normal here. At least the rains have finally come and washed away most of the snow banks. I never thought I’d hear myself say that I’m grateful for the rain, although I don’t have a severe hatred for it like some transplants. (I credit my running habit—once you start running in the rain for 3+ miles, you realize there are much worse things than getting a little wet.)

IMG_20140206_223944
However, my gracious attitude towards the rain does not lessen my love for what has been called the Snowpocalypse of 2013. I am very lucky to live and work close-in to downtown Portland, and therefore can easily get around on public transportation. So instead of getting stir crazy inside my apartment, rationing a dwindling supply of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps, I frolicked. I played Uno Attack and went sledding with my awesome neighbors on Friday. Allison’s Uno victory dance and Danny’s smack talk were legendary; the Flexible Flyer that we took to the top of Fremont did us proud; we watched the Blazer game and ate pizza. It was pretty great.

1836761_10151870075921781_1485875590_o

IMG_20140209_204223
The next day I decided that I needed to hit the city, snowman style. I put on my ski pants, jacket, and trusty hat (plus two pairs of socks, 3 shirts, a neck buff, and gloves) and snow-hiked to the MAX train that took me downtown. I met up with several groups of friends during the day (even met some new ones!), walked all over town, gulped warm drinks and ate bad food, and not until 11 p.m. did I realize that the MAX had been shut down due to the freezing rain. Not a problem! I hiked back across town to find the one bus line that was going my way and waited…and waited…and waited. Luckily my friend Ruth had tagged along, trying to figure out if she would be able to get as far as 60th (Alas, the bus stopped at 25th. No matter, my living room and an air mattress were just fine for her.), and so we chatted as we watched for the bus that would take us across the river. When it finally sailed (lurched, skidded) to a stop on NE 15th, we decided we’d better get a drink to celebrate making it over the bridge, and hit up my neighborhood bar for one last drink (2 drinks and a shot).

1556286_10201676970386217_1913556595_o
Sunday was more of a relaxed day. Did I get anything productive done? Nope. Do I regret it? Nah. Snowpocalypse weekend was all about feeling fancy free and not worrying about the little things. I had heat, I had food and drinks, and I had great friends and fantastic moments.

HOWEVER! Now that playtime is over, it’s time to get serious again. Up next on the roster is the Hot Chocolate Run in Seattle, and I have some pretty hardcore training to do in the next 2.5 weeks. Join me in a training run, wish me luck, or come to cheer me on in Seattle on March 2nd. If you’re less of a runner and more of a consumer, the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival are also coming up soon.

Who says winter has to be dreary? Come out and play!

1622004_10151870509046781_729791272_n

Last Days of Summer/Autumn Serenade

9 Oct

Is it possible we are actually having an Indian summer in Portland? The sunshine this week, after a few days of extremely hard rain, feels lovely. It’s not what we expect here in the Northwest, that’s for sure, but I know I’m not the only one who has welcomed it back for a small break before the hardcore rain shatters our peaceful evening walks.

The changing of the seasons can be rough at first. We all have different reactions to it. The first hard rain of the autumn gets me so excited for boots and tights and all the fun clothes that come with them. Then, the doldrums set in, and I have to readjust all of my routines. Instead of sunscreen every morning, I have to choose which scarf to wear. I have to remember that my umbrella or rain jacket should always be within reach, and those flats I wore all summer will likely get soaked outside, even if I am just taking a stroll down the block for lunch.

Why else do I love fall?

The brisk winds that make my hair fly every which way.

The excuse to stay in and be a bookworm.

Snuggling up with soft blankets (or whatever snuggly friend is hanging out with me) and putting on a movie.

The beauty of the leaves falling with grace.

That extra helping of holiday happiness. I’ve got a friend who, for years, swore up and down she hated every season but summer here in Oregon. Now, every year around the end of October/start of November, she gets positively giddy with holiday happiness. When we lived together I’d find little holiday presents dropped onto my bed when I wasn’t looking, or yummy holiday teas in the cupboard. And holiday happiness is contagious. Spread the happy rash, people! Changing seasons are fantastic.

Last but not least…the fun fall races! October and November races can be some of the best all year. (Truth be told, though, spring races are my favorite.) If you like to dress up, you’ve got a multitude of choices: Run Like Hell is a classic. Terrapin Events puts on a great race! They pick a different theme every year and it’s always a good one. There are tons of other creepy holiday runs coming up as well, including The Zombie Run, Halloweenathon, Zombie Apocalypse Run (this weekend!!), Dawn of the Dead Dash, and Run For Your Lives. (This one is in Seattle – a fun destination run for those who like to get out of town with a group of friends.)

dash of the dead

Courtesy of The Zombie Run website

Speaking of friends and holidays, what do you do for Halloween? Do you have any autumn traditions? What is your favorite fall month? I have to say that mine is probably November. First of all, it is National Novel Writing Month, so obviously, tons of points there. Then there’s Thanksgiving. I love cooking up all sorts of fun cold weather foods and spending time with family, but I also look forward to Friends Thanksgiving! A group of friends and I get together every year and prepare an amazing feast. It’s a great time to catch up with people and, if we’re so led, head out to a bar after we stuff ourselves and get silly! This year we’re adding to the fun and doing the Ugly Sweater Run along with the traditional dinner. I can’t wait!

Whether your idea of awesome autumn frolicking is running, eating, carving pumpkins, getting spooked at a scary corn maze, or just observing the changes in nature, I expect you to love the next few months and stomp in those mud puddles with cheer when they come, because we all know they will be coming soon.

 

Time Flies When You’re a Busy Bee

6 Jun

I’m sorry I haven’t written. I have a million excuses; you don’t need to hear them. But perhaps you want to SEE what I’ve been doing! A post in pictures…

Sahara Sunday at Marino’s. Three of us performed our choreography created by Claudia at a small cafe on Southeast Division:

100_2272

981151_10201112119593520_242905482_o
Promise Walk for Preeclampsia. I walked for my friend Alice, who almost lost her baby to complications in her pregnancy related to preeclampsia:

936822_701293146220_478610266_n
Camping in Central Oregon. We stayed at Cove Palisades State Park on the Deschutes River. I LOVE CENTRAL OREGON:

943245_10200631740569804_233764208_n
954840_10200631742289847_1457597860_n
252289_10200631743689882_53382571_n

Hope for Andrew benefit. A salsa buddy asked me to perform at a fundraiser for a little boy with cancer. It was a beautiful event:

Hope for Andrew edit
Oh, and I’m cooking dinner for 40 people tonight. Stay tuned for my next 5 minute window and maybe I’ll actually be able to write a whole post! I hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer.

The Human Race—My Eugene Half Marathon Recap

3 May

Last weekend I ran a half marathon in Eugene, Oregon, only two weeks after the Boston bombings.

I’ll admit, I was feeling a little skittish about it right after all the drama happened, but as the day grew near, I could feel the support and anticipation building, and I was able to get excited again. When I drove down to Eugene and picked up my packet at the health and wellness expo, I got REALLY excited. As I noted in my last blog post, the running community is a strong one, and there are probably very few towns that are more supportive of running than Eugene, a.k.a., Tracktown USA. Last weekend, many elite athletes and hobbyists had come to this mecca to celebrate the amazing sport of running.

WOW. Ladies and gentlemen, it is called Tracktown USA for a reason! The joy in this first day of the marathon event was truly palpable. There were smiles to comrades and strangers alike, hugs and excited conversations between friends. I didn’t know anyone else running the race, but I could feel the warmth of the community pulsing through the pre-race expo in waves. There were several memorials to Boston as well, and I experienced them with a somber but hopeful outlook.

That evening I went to bed rip-roaringly early. I took two melatonin pills to aid in a quick sleep, and ate my carbs like a good girl—early bird style. Then I climbed into bed, ready to see the Sandman…and lay there for the next four hours. I tried everything to get to sleep. I played rain sounds on YouTube. I tried telling myself a story. I tried fantasizing. I visualized a gentle stream. Nothing worked. I would have considered asking my host to come in and tell me a bedtime story, but he had gone out for the night knowing that his guest would not want to party hard that evening. I don’t think I ever actually got any quality REM sleep, but I know I eventually closed my eyes for a short while. I wasn’t too worried; I knew there was no chance I could actually fall asleep while on the course, but I was certainly frustrated. Doing this half marathon on my own was a BIG DEAL. I had never run a race alone, much less one of this caliber. The nerves, apparently, were kicking hard.

The alarm went off and I leaped out of bed. Well, I got out of bed anyway. I had pre-laid my clothes on top of my travel bag and arranged my breakfast food just-so in the refrigerator the night before, so my race preparation was flawless. There should be an Olympic category for this. I would win.

I got to the shuttle parking lot right on time, and had a blessedly uneventful ride to Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon. From there the start of the race was terrifyingly close at hand. I took a last minute stop at the porta-potties and got in line in my corral, a.k.a., the corral for the fast-at-heart runners, a.k.a., the turtle runners. My peeps. When corral D finally made it to the starting line, I was ready, and calm. I thanked my body in advance, queued up my watch, and prepared for greatness.

A few general notes before I describe my awesome half marathon finish:  Eugene is GORGEOUS. I mean, Oregon in general is pretty amazing; we are bordered by an ocean coast, have snow-capped mountains, trees for days, and a super-cool desert too. We almost literally have it all here. Eugene really blew me away, though. I made notes to myself to come back as soon as possible for the many hiking and drinking possibilities alone, if not also to visit my host, Eric. He has always come up to Portland for visits, because, as you may know if you live in Portland, it is the sweetest place on planet Earth. I truly believe Portlandians can be a little pig-headed and snobby when it comes to our city. I am guilty of it. (That could be a topic for a whole new blog post.) In other words, I hadn’t given Eugene a fair shake. I now stand corrected. Especially if you’re a runner, you must go to Eugene for a visit or a race.

The feeling of exhilaration and support was to the extreme. People from all walks of life, not just fans and family of the runners, were out cheering, waving banners, hoola-hooping, playing “Eye of the Tiger” with their 10-piece ukulele band (seriously), giving high-fives, dancing on the sidewalks in costume, and riding bikes with boom boxes attached playing upbeat songs to keep us motivated. It was unreal. I had been afraid that running 13.1 miles solo would get tedious. I had a store of monologues ready to go in my head for when I started flagging. Not once did I need to use them. All the colorful sights and music were fantastically distracting. I barely noticed I was running! In fact, the first two miles, I was so excited that when I looked at my watch I realized I was running 10 minute miles, and normally I run at a pace closer to 11:30 minute miles!

In a special bonus, Eric and I realized that mile marker 6 was practically in his backyard, so he got out of bed just to meet me on the course to take pictures and run a few blocks with me. It was a priceless experience.

The run ended back at Hayward Field. I ran around the track towards the big clock, and, as I used my last burst of energy to cross the finish line, I saw that there were hundreds of people in the stands. It was insane! I’ve never experienced a race where the host town and race organizers were so breathtakingly awesome. (I really wish I could find a better word here, but I really can’t.) I almost cried a few times…it was very emotional and overwhelming.

That night Eric and I went to celebrate with dinner, but I felt really awful afterwards so I had him take me home. That was a big bummer because I really wanted to see more of Eugene, and he wanted to take me out to celebrate. Usually I am okay to party after a half marathon, but there really was a huge difference in my body after RUNNING the whole thing as opposed to running/walking it. (Did I also mention that I shaved SEVEN minutes off of my previous half marathon time? Yay for getting a new PR!)

I will be doing this race every year until I can no longer run. It is a standout event, and I’m SO glad I went! No words describe how PROUD I am of doing it on my own, but in my heart I knew it would be great because I could never truly be alone running side-by-side with this wonderful community of people.

Ready for greatness!

Ready for greatness!

100_2225

Surprise! Eric jumped on the course to run with me for a minute.

New Book Review

13 Sep

For my birthday I received the new book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” from my boss. I had been looking forward to reading it after hearing an interview with the author on the local NPR station, Portland’s KBOO 90.7. I finished it in 96 hours–pretty fast for me these days, since I’ve barely had time to read with my crazy schedule.

A review of “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

strayed

After her mother died at an early age, permanently scarring her and leaving her without any sort of home base or support system, Cheryl Strayed went on a head-clearing hike from the Mojave Desert in California to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington State, following the Pacific Crest Trail. While preparing as best she knew how, she was completely flummoxed by her lack of “street-smarts” on the trail and made multiple errors in judgement, creating an entertaining yet sympathetic retrospect for her audience.

It was a fast read, but an interesting one. I flipped through the pages, chomping at the bit to see what idiotic newbie mistake Cheryl was going to make next on the trail (and in her flashbacks)—hey, we all like to watch disasters…that’s why America loves reality TV. She didn’t disappoint me. I hope she realizes how lucky she is. She definitely had a guardian angel on her shoulder, because no matter how many mistakes she made, and how many times a weird situation could have gone terribly wrong, something always saved her. She didn’t get off scot-free, but things could have been a lot worse.

At the end, it seemed there was a slightly mad scramble to tie up the ending in a neat little bow with her final “summit” and letting go of her mother once and for all. I wasn’t entirely convinced that Cheryl experienced a great epiphany about herself and her mom during her hike, but I liked reading about the journey. Honestly I would have enjoyed it without all the inspirational nuggets, but that is because I’m a hiker myself and I like reading about adventures on the trail.

I wasn’t bodily moved like I was with the travel memoir “Eat, Pray, Love,” but I’m glad I read it, and I’m glad Cheryl wrote it. It obviously meant a lot to her. Maybe her guardian angel was her mother’s spirit all along…but it turns out I feel pretty indifferent about that.

I would recommend it to hikers and locals.

A Love Note

17 Oct

Becky and the trees in their joy!

I’ve got several things I need to write about, but I’ve chosen my trip to the California Redwoods with my cousins Linda, Michael, and Tutu, since it is still fresh in my mind. Indulge me if this seems like “nature porn” to you. My sister, Sarah (the originator of the term nature porn), made me aware that some of my last posts about nature border on…intimate. The thing is, that is how I feel about nature. I can’t help it. Please accept my flowery prose as yes, a love note to nature. Just roll your eyes behind my back. Or nod your head and say to yourself, right on Becky!

I watched The Celestine Prophecy the night before I left for my Redwoods adventure. I have read the book no less than six times, but seeing one director’s interpretation of the story in action was unforgettable. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a book written about eight insights that the main character discovers throughout his journey to Peru. Much of the story takes place in the jungle, a most beautiful and magical setting, and coincidentally much like the place I was to see in my own upcoming adventures. The main character was a naïve history teacher, not knowing that when he got laid off, everything that had happened up until that moment was all a part of his greater plan. One of the insights he learned was that he needed to start paying attention to every little thing that was happening around him. Notice the coincidences around you; they all mean something. His journey also taught him to be in the moment, and manifest what you want.

I have been exploring these themes in my own life for several years now, as you know if you have read my blog before. It occurs to me that each time I experience The Celestine Prophecy I learn something new. The lesson that everything happens for a reason was highlighted when I realized there was absolutely a reason that I watched this movie right before heading to my own magical locale. Of course I’ve always understood that the history teacher made his way to a beautiful place. Every story needs a setting. It just never dawned on me that the jungle was actually a character in his story, as the Redwoods would become a character in my story.

They glowed under my attention, and I in theirs. The minute I was in them, I could feel their energy. In the movie, when the history teacher focuses his gaze on a philodendron, he sees its energy, or aura. It touches him. I felt the same in the midst of the giant trees and their unique ecosystem. As the sun pushed its way down, all the way down—dozens of feet of each tree—the beams would touch and highlight the brilliant green of the undergrowth. The effect was visually magical, and physically warming. The opulence of the trees, and the knowledge that they have seen more than any human can ever tell, was stunning. Did you know these trees have been around since the time of the dinosaurs? The fact that they are still on earth because of the stubbornness and love of a few special people was fantastical. These trees had been 90% harvested until the Save-the-Redwoods League was created to protect them. I felt that history with every move I made. I was being hugged by the spirit of these trees; I could actually feel a lovely thickness around me. Inside, I felt a peace and fullness. Most of all I experienced love. I know it may sound a little silly; trees don’t have the cognitive ability to love. But if I can love the forest, why can’t it love me back?

My family wandered the woods with me. We spoke excitedly some, but mostly we all just drank it in. Tutu, my 82-year old cousin, repeated softly to me, “We are so lucky, do you know how lucky we are to be here?” I appreciated her comment, but instead of feeling lucky I felt more blessed than anything. It wasn’t luck that brought me here; it was my will, and the will of the Universe. It wasn’t luck that led me to drive the five hours each way from Portland to Medford where my cousins Linda and Michael live, and then on another few hours to California. It was my desire to Be there.

I had been traveling for two weeks straight before this trip and I almost cancelled because I was so tired of living out of a suitcase. I just wanted to relax in my own home. But the Universe gave me a little nudge and told me that this was something I needed to experience NOW. Wouldn’t you know it, but the Universe was right again! To share this trip in words is something that is less than adequate, but it is all I have. I hope, if you visit, the trees give you the same love they gave to me.