the soft hum of change and shift

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I have, in the last few years, come to dislike the idea of New Year’s resolutions. There is something that irks me about a mentality that urges perfection, where “breaking” a resolution means you have failed. Striving for betterment is a very powerful thing, and there is so much beauty in the process when done in a healthy way.

Reflection and intention, however, are things I love to dive into as a new year begins.

This past year has been the most profound one of my life, and the gravitational shift has been immense. On some fronts, especially when it comes to greater world events, it has not been for the better. My heart breaks for the unspeakable pain so many have suffered, and my greatest challenge has been coming to terms with that in contrast with my own life, which has been full of happiness in recent months. What right do I have to enjoy my joy? What more should I have been doing? I continue to search for these answers, but in the meantime hope that where I am now can contribute something positive to a world that has been swimming in hate and grief for far too long.

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Like much of the world, the start of 2017 saw my days littered with frustration. I was floating through a job I had come to loathe, chasing instant gratification without any regard for what I truly needed, and I had no tools to bring me from my self-imposed slump.

Then Spring came, and the itch for a new path became congruent with the need for something more, both in myself and in the life I had built to that point.

Meaningful moments and words illuminated the next months, wrapping me up in a comforting cocoon. I read and listened to books and podcasts (relating to all manner of personal development and mindfulness) then turned what I had learned into tangible changes. Subtle steps towards myself turned into leaps.

I scratched the surface deeper and began loving myself first, and finding in that more clarity than I could ever imagine.

I cleansed, filtering through the faces and pages and places that had become my norm, and sang a bittersweet symphony of farewell to that which did not fill my cup.

A few epiphanies later, I stumbled upon a job posting that screamed my name so loud it could have broken windows. Never have I been more motivated than during the two week whirlwind of applying, interviewing, and accepting a job as a Naturalist at an Outdoor and Environmental Education camp in Washington state.

Then, as simple as the changing of the seasons, I began my new odyssey in a new place with new souls to find meaning in, to illuminate what I truly hold dear.

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Because in this new life,

I get to wake up to the rhythm of the forest and float in chilly waters of the Sound and listen to the laughter of children and watch wonder as it is created in front of me. I get to spend nights in front of the fire and dance among the trees in the rain and celebrate the lack of disconnect in the pace of life here. I get to surround myself with souls who fight back against what the world tells them to be and add joy to those around them.

The Summer sun stuck around much longer than anticipated, lending warmth to the days as Autumn began. And this time, I paid attention to the changing colors and the changing forms of love and happiness that surrounded me.

Being back in California for a brief hiatus in December, even my perspective on a town I have never connected with shifted. I no longer felt trapped in remembered dread as I drove past identical houses lining the neighborhoods of my childhood. My mind has taught itself to focus on the good, and the laughter that came from those streets. I take these things for what they are and realize they led me to where I am today. I have learned, perhaps a little late in the game, that it is useless to dwell on things I cannot change.

How have I managed to stumble into this, this inspiring and exhausting miracle of a place? Instead of some “magic” first day of the year, the soft hum of change and shift was slow, creeping in gradually, gently nudging me on the shoulder.

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I spent this past New Years weekend on the Oregon coast, surrounded by a group of people that reminded me of the power of togetherness, community, and acceptance. There was beauty in every interaction – taking in sunsets, dancing deep into the night, or simply sharing a meal and conversation. We celebrated nature and each other with reckless abandon. We shared meaning in a way that doesn’t seem to happen as readily in this world anymore.

And so, as I stumble into 2018 with a fierce cold but happy memories, I am making the intention to carry on in my journey – continue to live mindfully, learn, and laugh as much as possible.

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Happiness is a journey, and while for some people resolutions can be a great way to jump start a new habit, they are not the only way. Simply living with intention and making small positive decisions could have a huge impact. However you decide to move forward in this new year, even if it has nothing to do with changing or resolutions, try to let go of the pressure of perfection. You are doing great. The journey may even turn out to be quite epic…in retrospect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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