Another Year of Adventure

The last big trip I made was ten years ago, when I went to Mamelodi, South Africa, with many other smaller adventures in between.

I am anxiously looking forward to creating new adventures in this, my tenth anniversary of new beginnings. I intend to make 2018 my year of adventures, in my personal life and my professional life, as I explore new career options. I look forward to sharing these adventures with you in the upcoming year. I will be sharing some of my adventures in the weekly travel theme posts.

 

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Winter of the Soul

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”  — Robert H. Schuller

Planning my Next Adventure

I went hiking in West Virginia this past weekend with my niece. There is something so exhilarating about hiking in the freezing cold with several inches of snow on the ground. I like the feeling of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, especially right now when my life is in flux.

I’m still grappling with my feelings about the way this past year has turned out, having left the comfort and security of a job I had for twenty years to try something new, only to find out the new job was a bad fit. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the comfort of my old job, even though the last couple of years there were especially difficult.

Now, here I am, searching for something else. I am impatient with the process, having worked since I was a teenager. I have a little time to figure out how I want to spend my final years working. The time off is giving me room to breath, recoup a little, and set some personal goals for the upcoming year.

During the past year, I have become obsessed with listening to and reading stories about women who have gone off on big adventures, and I dream about doing something like that myself some day. Recently I’ve been fueling this desire by listening to Tough Girl podcasts, and I have decided to set a goal for myself in honor of my big birthday this year, and also the ten-year anniversary of my dear brother’s death. The year Scott died, I did my first half marathon and also went on a medical trip to South Africa. I never got to talk to him about these adventures. Scott and I had always dreamed of doing the Amazing Race together, and I want to honor that wish by doing a week-long bike ride this summer. I will write more about it once I finalize my plan.

Identity: Peeling Away the Layers

“I am a citizen of the world.” 
― Sylvia Beach

Question for my readers: What are your layers of identity?

There has been much debate in the Democratic party regarding whether identity politics is what caused the party to lose the presidential election. I have my own perspective on the topic which I will not go into here, except to say that each of the identity groups have real issues and concerns that need to be heard. I hope that eventually we find a way to unite as one collective voice to support each other’s causes.

My real topic for this post is musing on what happened when I started thinking about my own identity. I discovered during this thought experiment that on any given day I may identify as something entirely different, and sometimes conflicting with other parts of my identity. Here are a few of the identities I discovered:

  • Daughter of parent with schizophrenia
  • Survivor of abuse
  • Female (feminist)
  • Short person
  • left-handed
  • Nurse
  • White person
  • Middle class
  • College educated
  • Previously lower socioeconomic with no college degree
  • Mental Health Advocate
  • Environmental advocate
  • Human rights advocate
  • Research professional
  • Mother
  • Person who has anxiety/depression
  • Person who recovered from eating disorder
  • Aunt
  • Sister
  • divorced
  • Friend
  • Fiance
  • US citizen
  • Blogger
  • Writer (wannabe)
  • Caretaker
  • Griever of brother who passed away
  • Parent of child with mental health issues
  • Spiritual person
  • Runner

Granted, many of these “Identities” are self-made and not what I was born into. Nonetheless, each one represents a part of myself that relates to a larger group of like-minded individuals.

World Trade Center Memorial wall

What would it take for all of us to peel away all of the layers of identity to see each other’s true essence? We are all here right now, on this earth, at the same time. This convergence of time and space that provides us all with this home on earth gives us all at least one thing in common to build upon.

What condition will we leave this world in when our short lives end?

Is there more to life than the quest for happiness?

I have been pondering this question and am interested in hearing from my readers:  If you had to describe what you want from life without using the word happiness, what words would you use to describe a life well-lived?

“Our culture is steeped in a kind of pop psychology whose obsessive question is: Are you happy?” – Rebecca Solnit, from the book, The Mother of All Questions

I started reading Rebecca Solnit’s book, The Mother of All Questions, and came across the above sentence in quotes. It was as if a switch was turned on in my brain and I experienced one brief moment of clarify.

“Happiness is often described as the result of having many ducks lined up in a row — spouse, offspring, private property…”  – R. Solnit

Aside from being out of work, life has been good for me lately, according to this formula of happiness. Yet I know life can change, and I have this tendency to think about what happens if one of the ingredients for this one-dimensional definition of happiness is lost. Especially for women, who have historically been forced into a very narrow existence where their version of happiness is meant to be derived solely from another’s identity.

“The problem may be a literary one: we are given a single story line about what makes life good.”- R. Solnit

We all know that there are plenty of people out there who have all the outward appearances of the “good life”, and yet they seem to be miserable, or spiraling out of control in a vicious cycle of self sabotage. The unraveling of this formula for happiness happens more frequently and easily than one might expect and is rooted in a dissatisfaction with the one-dimensional definition of what makes life good. Deep within oneself is the awareness that this one short life we are given is much more complex than outward symbols of happiness.

“There are entirely different criteria for a good life that might matter more to a person – loving and being loved or having satisfaction, honor, meaning, depth, engagement, hope.” R. Solnit

Living life according to my own set of principles and values, having compassion and concern for future generations, and caring about more than my own small dot on this planet is what I strive for in my short time on earth.

 

Winsome Days

via Daily Prompt: Winsome

img_3652The most winsome I ever felt

was on my wedding day

Thirty years later I awakened

Not knowing where I was but

knowing where I wasn’t

I changed my course and

the winsome smile returned

Bucket List of Women I would love to Meet

Sue Monk Kidd

Roz Savage

Rebecca Solnit

Roxanne Gay

Liz Murray

Robyn Davidson

Naomi Klein

Gloria Steinem

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This list is by no means complete, but these are some of the women whose lives, adventures, passion for causes, stir within me a desire to do more with my life than I had previously thought possible.