Digging Deep -- November has been pretty hard so far. What I thought was a little 48 hour bug ended up lasting more than a week because I was overworking myself on this proposal. And I would start to feel more susceptible to eye strain from staring at screens for too long, not eating regularly, and just being generally off balance. But, I went to the gym today for the first time in 2 or 3 weeks and I feel amazing. I stopped off on the way home to snap this image because it just felt fitting for how I've been feeling all month - this sort of momentary absence of passion being replaced with frustration. But, I'm definitely on the mend and really looking forward to the holidays so I can go back to the US for a few days and fill up on love and kindness from family and friends. I just need to dig deep for the next few weeks.
"Bogë Block Party" -- I've been a little sick this week and took a short break from posting. So, I'm working this weekend to catch up on things I missed. And as I was playing some upbeat dance music this morning to get me going, I was thrown back to last weekend in the mountains. The 10 of us were grilling. Our neighbor across the street noticed we were a crowd and decided to start playing Albanian music on his big outdoor speakers. This then brought these curious old ladies down the hill to see what the commotion was about. And things turned into a spontaneous block party. I had the wrong shutter speed. But I was too happy to care. For whatever moments that I've been having where I sometimes ask myself "Why am I here?", they are being replaced with "I'm living my best life."
(Semi-awkward pose thanks to my husband’s one-take policy. 🙄) Matt and I took a walk down this street after an event we had the other night. It was the first place outside the hotel that we went when we first arrived, and we were all like 😳. But now, it’s kind of one of my favorite local places. There’s always something to see (lots of fish, octopi trying to walk away, hagfish still squirming as they’re peeled😬, colorful produce stalls), and it’s free. But it’s also a reminder of how we can stretch and grow and come to love what initially feels strange to us.
Steel and concrete crash down the hillside,
maybe didn't break but wanting to hide,
hoping for the creek where it would continue to glide,
but there stopped where motion has forever died,
except for the trickling creek and the seasonal tide,
where the soul and mind can eternally ride.
Be the person YOU want to be, and not the person that other people think you should be. • • • I was first inspired with this sentiment 4 months ago in Greece where 10 people I had just met, over the course of dizzying distances hiked on sunrise and sunset missions to some of the most special vistas I've ever seen, each pointed out to me how I was basically doing a disservice in how I viewed myself. So, they each gave me the blocks to build my "best life" to new heights over the next 16 weeks -- and then to live it and own it fully with substance and without small talk. • • • So, I became a traveler in earnest (an impulsive one, as many friends have told me), logging over 18,000 miles in that time in Europe alone; and camera always in hand. And despite how unconventional it still may seem to people, Kosovo has been my home and where the work that I want to do is. Generally, this is the person I want to be. But, this past weekend, I just wanted to be someone walking in the woods along the Baltic Sea. Because, why not?
This weekend I found myself under a cloudless night sky searching the heavens for the Orionid Meteor shower. I witnessed a handful and it made my heart-full. The world is turning and getting colder. Remember to look around be in awe. Remind yourself what it is to be wonder-filled. Look up and look down. It’s a big world.
I got to Black Balsam Knob in the dark. I walked passed little mounds of tents filled with sleeping people. My pup stayed next to my side as we left the tree line and kept climbing, a headlamp bobbing in the night. After setting up my own tent on the ridge, Finn and I curled up together against the onsetting cold. The morning greeted us with long shadows and frozen dew. These are simple moments I hope to never forget. #optoutside
Just getting back home from my annual pilgrimage to the Dolomites full of energy and positivity. You can catch me in the bottom right in mid-jump across a gap. "Leave your car at the church. Take Trail No.5A to No.5 for about 1.5 hours until you get to a nice hut, Rifugio Gardenaccia. Then, take this No.1A for another 1.5 hours across the top until you reach a big wooden cross. Then look down from 2314m and you will see our apartment in Pedraces." Thanks, Norbert, for being the best Italian mountain guide / apartment manager a guy could ask for.
“No one, at the end of any day, can tell you what or who to believe in. Run fast toward things you want to put your faith in. Protect the things you find to be holy. Ask questions. Always ask questions.” - Hannah Brencher
“Ask me not where I live or what I like to eat . . . Ask me what I am living for and what I think is keeping me from living fully that.” Thomas Merton.
This life on the road is sometimes tiring, but yesterday I got wake up here and today I woke up with good friends and their newly adopted boy. This life is a gift, use it so.
This is my sister. She's as smart and beautiful as they come. And I'm not just saying that because it's her birthday today. 😏
But really, she's a total go-getter taking a day off running around as a trauma RN to wake up super early with Mindy and drive 2 hours in the car with me for a pre-dawn hike when neither of us knew when the hell we would see each other next. Can't believe this was a year ago. Love her!
It doesn't lose its luster. It doesn't get boring. I'm not going to get tired of telling the same tale again and again. Because it may be the 50th time I say it, it's your first time hearing it.
So respect the tale. Honor the story. Because it's not just my journey or memory. It's to be told. #nicaragua
Stop apologizing for what you are passionate about. You were gifted that drive and allowing others to diminish it only hurts yourself and direction.
You don't have the time or resources for self-doubt in this season.
You can't afford to spend energy on heeding their regrets ... because they are exactly that - regrets. "Buy the ticket. Take the ride"
What do you think about the concept of social good? How much impact can people from developed countries make when they spend time in developing nations? Human connection is important. Other people in this world matter. Working for a social impact company makes me think about how my work is received when I walk away from a trip. Always vet your non-profits, whether going to work or sending money, and get behind something sustainable. We are growing, evolving, changing; let's be a part of social good responsibly together. @wejourney #travelwithpurpose
It's not a matter of depth.
It's not a matter of authenticity.
It's not a matter self-awareness,
But of proximity.
Because people can feel waters and scan the horizon for the right words.
And people can "know thyself" and speak until they feel they are heard.
But if they can't reach out and touch it, how can they know the extent?
How can they hear the truth?
How can they know when to stay silent?
So, don't give me lofty ideas or over arching stats.
Don't give me number of countries visited or quantities given back.
Give me a name
Give me a story
Give me a purpose, amid the self-glory.
Give me the real reason we do what we do, not said from a pulpit,
But within my grasp and view.
There are specific places, people, and things that bring calm. Things that leave room for space [inner space], that create freedom of mind and heart. Mine typically comes through mutual vulnerability, slow evenings outside, blankets, and fires. I also love being tired after a long day of working hard. Make sure you find your space; your people, your places, and invest in them. We're here to be fully alive - use it well.
Happiness isn't something to be grasped, strained after, or looming in the future. It's rooted in thankfulness. It's grace. It's a thousand little moments all around us right now: the warm sun reflecting off suds as you wash your dishes, the smell of coffee as you walk through your house, the laughter of a loved one, kindness of a stranger, kisses from cows. It requires us to be slow and take inventory of our lives. See them. Count them. Be thankful.
All storms start with a little trickle, and most of us try to run through it to avoid it or seek shelter. But the closer you get to the center of it all, the more turbulent the winds and waters are. And we all head to the center at some point. So, you have a choice. You can either fight the winds, cover yourself with your hands and arms because you didn’t come prepared - you didn’t know it would be like this or feel like this and so you fight it and end up sopping wet and completely miserable by your circumstances... Or you can accept that you will not come out of this unscathed. You can accept that nothing really prepared you for this. You accept that you will not be left the same. And so you learn to embrace the rain, allowing yourself to be drenched in your new found scene taking in the gut wrenching terror with the beauty of the flow, the ruined mascara with the all encompassing presence, and the discomfort with the majesty. You can either fight the glory or dance in it. Your choice.
Seasons and time stretch on in waves. Sometimes it feels like you're crushing it and people celebrate you often. Whereas other spaces of time feels like you are slogging through quicksand. We've all been in both. The trap is waiting for the next thing: "When I get this promotion, then I'll..." "If only I had this thing," "Once I reach this age..." Phrases like these happen too often in our inner dialogue and rob us of joy. Let's commit to being present. Let's commit to being "here" instead of wanting to be "there," because all "there" is is "here" with more wrinkles on our faces.
What you carry carries weight – in soul and in body.
What story you tell says more about you than the circumstances displayed.
What direction you face determines your focus and destination.
So travel light, because you were made to run, not stay stagnant and weighed down in it all.
Speak life because you have more power than you realize, even in your expression of experience.
And look to the richness in all things, because depth is not determined by time but openness. And when you call out depth, people will surprise you. You always find something more from them and for you. #forfleetingmoments
Pursue big things - the type of things that scares you to fail at. I have found it is in the journeys that we learn the most about ourselves. You deserve to be all in, to commit to something with every fiber of your being. That type of thing will take everything you have and grow your capacity. It will be hard. It will cause both pain and joy. Yet, it will be worth it. And if you do fail, well, we have tomorrow and you can sleep soundly knowing you gave it your all today.
On an absolute tear through Europe this summer. This past weekend was as close to a perfect way to wrap up as I could have imagined. And this summer wouldn't have been possible without all the incredible people I've met. Hoping for many more laughs and deep conversations to come, whether during a long hike or over a lazy picnic on the river. But always outside and always with 🍺 or 🍷 (or 🍾).
Pay attention to the things that matter. To the kindness of friends. The love you receive. The hope you give. To lead you need to recognize where to help the growth of others. How are you growing? How are you helping others grow?
Give me grace to love the movement.
Give me peace to calm my storm.
Give me joy to greet the evening.
And give me love for those that mourn.
Give me harmony in valley and stillness in the wind.
Give me songs of your presence, as my heart so longs to sing. #forfleetingmoments
"There is only one way to learn," the alchemist answered. "It's through action." This summer said yes to joining a trip that taught me so much. I got to walk with my friend Erin and 9 others around Greece for a couple weeks. I learned about comfort zones, photography, trip guiding and adventure. I leaned into quality and consistency. I keep getting better at my craft. And I got to acknowledge I have so much more to learn and grow in, but walked away with something to aim at. Here's to not knowing what's ahead, but running there anyway.
There's a difference between finding something inspiring and mimicking.
It's subtle and slow because so often we can look at someone or something and think "I want to be just like that" or "I want to make it just like that". And in some industries it is necessary to mimic - doctors, engineers, accountants - processes that have been proven. The greatest form of flattery is replication, but when speaking of the arts, mimicking can do three things to an artist.
1) It can empower the new artist to push their bounds and become more adversed in their craft.
2) It can enable the artist to capitalize on their craft becoming a part of a overarching brand.
But 3)... the new artist can loose their voice and sound like the original.
If the artist pursues the art of an another, there will be no revelation in their own craft. There will be no distinct sound or storytelling from the image. You will lack your voice. Don't use a dead poets words to describe the beauty of your world - you have been given your own.
Honest moment here - I've been struggling with my voice in photography. Not because I don't think I have a distinct one. I do know what I mean to say through these images (--- still growing in this) but I just don't see others saying it the same way. And in turn - I feel a little isolated in this expression. But I don't want to turn my vantage point to mimic that of another artist. I don't want to loose my voice.
I want to push the bounds but not so far outside the realm given to me. I don't want to remove myself from the authority I've been given, just because I want to be compared to another.
And maybe that's ok. Maybe that's the end goal anyway. I know I don't see these moments like anyone else and I have to realize that gift more and more. I will choose to admire and take inspiration from these artist, but my goal is not to be them or speak like them. And despite the isolation - I want to stand alone in it and I want to stand proud of it.
Spare the mimicking. Seek inspiration.
"Child of Mine, come
as you grow in youth
you will learn
the secret places
the cave behind the waterfall
the arms of the oak
that hold you high
the stars so near
on a desert ledge
...the important places.
And, as with age, you choose
your own way
among the many faces
of a busy world
may you always remember
the path that leads back.
...back to the important places.
Dad to Forest, 1986"
As read in The Important Places by @forestwoodward
Days like today require me to remember this place.
Days like today make me forget what comfort means and how much I have.
Days like today push me to assess "what really is an inconvenience". Days like today are perspective.
So I'll shift my focus to this moment - in the back of a pickup going 40mph down the back roads of #nicaragua .
Big open skies.
Tall canopies of the jungle.
Overarching broad revelations and specific heart changing realizations.
If you, like me, were among the millions who looked up and around ourselves yesterday we were a part of something special. Yes, we saw the earth briefly fall in the shadow of the moon and fill the air with that magnificent other worldly glow, but something else was happening. For those moments we were all unified. Eyes up. Tears of joy. No thought of hate or bigotry. What a striking contrast to what happened last week in Virginia. We can love. We don't have to wait until the next eclipse to forget racism - we can lay it down today and everyday hereafter. It was so good to see people raise their voices in excitement and awe instead of anger and hate. It's how we were Made to be. #eclipsetotality#totalityawesome#totaleclipseoftheheart#canonfanphoto Canon 5d Mark III 24-70mm 8L II USM: 24mm f3.5 ISO 6400 1/125ss
Serious throwback from 2 years ago. But this does make their story any less of a miracle.
This is Bex and Jesse - some of the nearest and dearest friends I possess. Three years ago, Jesse at the age of 21, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma after only 6 months into their blissful marriage. At a stage in life where marriage should consist of take out, Redbox movies, deciding which side of the bed to sleep on, and the gettings to know one another, Bex and Jesse were thrust into a world of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and medical bills. But through all of that, they not only fought, survived and beat the cancer, they viewed this entire journey as a gift from God. As cliche as that is, they truly do believe it and act like as though they were given a second chance at life.
Two years ago I was able to spend some time with them in Knoxville and see how much they both have changed because of this season. And what I saw was beautiful. It still chokes me up to know what they went through and how they came out stronger on the other side.
We got some joy up in this house! @marissabriannehughes blessed her mom with a sweet photoshoot - just the two of them. If you met this mother, you would know immediately how she loves all her children and grandchildren with fervor. But what you wouldn't realize is how faithful in prayer she has been for her children. It was just a blessing to be with these lovely ladies today ;)
Would love your thoughts on Steinbeck talking about manhood: "a kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of lifespan. In effect, the head of the house becomes the youngest child. And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slob for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage. My wife married man: I saw no reason why she would inherit a baby. And in my own life I am not willing to trade quality for quantity." Picture by @erinoutdoors
[August 31 sign up deadline] Social impact and adventure in Nicaragua with @wejourney and @yestheory partnering with @techo_org building homes. Half a week working alongside local Nicaraguans in Granada and half a week integrating through adventure and mindfulness in Jiquililllo. End the summer with a Journey. September 15-20, 2017 #travelwithpurpose
While I was reading a Monday email I began to think about ownership and how the most natural way to experience ownership is through creating. Building something gives you ownership over it. When I make something I want to take care of it, whether it's the table I eat on, my friendships, or my faith, these are things we build. We grow and cultivate what is ours and understand there are seasons for it all. This particular quote resonated as I was reading, "There's a beauty in ownership. Even if you feel like the only thing you own is a hot mess of confusion and battle scars, that's okay," because life has been a wild ride. I don't know about you, but for me I like that we get to grow amongst the turbulence. So may I encourage you to lay claim to the journey, put in the hard work, be okay with asking for help, and in the end hold it all loosely. (This is Elena - she is so consistent with who she is, working off the most solid Foundation there is)
The thing is ... I'm happy for the mundane and the repetitive sometimes. It's perspective and consistent. It makes the big things shine brighter - leaving a mark or an Ebenezer, if you will.
But right now, I'll stay in the faithfully mundane, the consistency of friendship and the standard I set for myself. And I'll be grateful for it.
I'll go with the flow at the moment, but don't you worry - I see waves coming. 😉 #communityovercompetition
Today is the day. Today I'm out of my apartment, into the van. I may ask you for a shower - or feel free to offer it, haha. The next three weeks will be the outfitting of my vehicle for living. Let's begin.
You have to stay active in your craft. You need to exercise your abilities and push your bounds regularly. The moment you stay complacent is the moment recession hits your development. And when you don't seize those opportunities (or make them), you may miss out new passions and ideas that await you on the other side.
Yesterday, I asked @karinadegracia_ #karinaballerina to do a spontaneous shoot with me. Nothing crazy, just 45 mins behind the lens pushing myself in posing and posture and movement. Added bonus, it's always fun to create with friends and it was such a a sweet time with this girl. 😊
So ... treat your craft with kindness and #neverstopexploring .
This is my friend Erin, well the back of her head. She is a woman of courage. She leads through vulnerability and empathy. She encourages and empowers. She cares for people's stories and is great with working with women finding their voice. She also just moved to LA and that was brave. So give her a follow and encourage her for a change. Because life is messy and we all need people in our corner.