Social Anxiety is Bred From the Palm of Our Hands

You've probably clicked on the link on my Instagram bio to get here, so my point is already half proven. 

I am an analyzer, an over-thinker, and combined, a busy bee who likes to keep moving. Just watch me come home from a long day, I'll fidget until my room is back to the clean, sharply organized status it belongs in. It also keeps my mind running, and running fast, staying glued to what I could be doing better to help pursue my dreams / be a better person. I crave understanding. 

As I come across it more and more, especially through social media platforms, I am left with two questions, 1) how much of this is a genuine reality and 2) is this the latest, most well used excuse? Accounts have their faces/bodies plastered across their feed with claims of how they don't know how to talk to people in real life, they don't know how to have day-to-day, short, human interactions. W h a t? 

Here's the social anxiety that I have personally been around: my friends are visibly uncomfortable in a social setting in either a small group or large crowd, they don't appreciate any attention graced upon them, and they usually aren't trying to socialize. The second thought here is that you can have anxiety and not have social anxiety: that's what I have. I have anxiety about standing in lines, closed spaces, not having escape routes; I thought that I was having an anxiety attack recently while at a bar with a group of friends because of the social aspect but upon reviewing, as I am always doing, I realized that I was indeed having one because of the confinement factor: I was sitting on the inside of an eight-person booth in a bar that I already didn't care for, with no immediate available way out if needed. I teared up at one point in the midst of silently practicing my breathing exercises (ten deep inhales, if I can make it to ten). 

So WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY then? In my opinion, we have bred the foundation to our own problems (yes, even to the type of anxiety that I have). We've accomplished this with the internet, social media platforms, and the little electronic device that remains threaded to our body twenty-four seven. I watch it happen all too often, as I am approaching someone from a distance, by the time we have grown close enough to make an exchange (out of pure recognition for a human being), they've pulled their phone out to answer "something" instead. My frustration begins to brew with instances like such; we are all humans, a smile, nod or "hello" isn't going to kill anyone. Your fear of doing so, will also not kill you. 

It's hard to be upset about something like having humans continuously jump on their phone to avoid having to look around at their surroundings instead when I live in an area where people do not usually even look in your direction (or they look right through you). I have had to learn how to keep my head down because I am far more disappointed and upset by someone blatantly ignoring the smile and "hello" I've given them. I still don't understand this attitude, especially in the outdoors here and especially because coming from Utah, everyone greeted you. 

I don't discount genuine social anxiety but I do find it upsetting that people are so quick to use it as their excuse for not wanting to be social. Here's the thing, no one is asking you to be the extrovert that you aren't but using your introvert personality to tactfully cover up being unapproachable, rude, or unsociable. Don't put yourself in those types of situations if you know that you're uncomfortable and if you are required to show for such, prepare....it's just other humans probably as nervous as you. 

What you're thinking right now: "easier said that done". You're right, you're totally right. But, I have an irrational fear of open bodies of water, yet over the years, I have progressively been working on reentering/embracing my fear by trying things like paddle boarding and soaking in hot springs. My point? You can help yourself. 

I am the first person to understand how comforting it can be to share your own experience in the hopes that it will help someone else or that it will bring comfort to them in knowing that they are "not alone" but I hate when anxiety becomes an excuse. If I am able to live with a type of anxiety that demands the use of daily medication and I don't use them to combat it, you can learn to embrace the parts of your anxiety that fester. It takes a lot of recognition, admittance and acceptance, and finally understanding of how to move forward with knowledge of your triggers. 

 

The Twenty-Something Spiral

New lesson: to be apart of something is one thing, to watch it take it's wrath on another person...surprising perspective. 

Sitting across from my significant other, who's mind was quietly spinning into the same depths of where did the universe come from originates, I could feel my utter helplessness in aiding him. I had, too many times in the past and showing no sign of let-up for the future, been exactly where his thoughts had taken him and to the state he was currently dwelling in. You become sharply aware of not just the time it will take to achieve what it is that you think that you want, but the patience acquired to accompany it all. The visualized road ahead becomes stretched out, narrow with no sign of light at the end of it, nothing to help guide you. Thus, the spiral induces. 

I could feel the black hole he was swimming in and therefore began to think about the times that I call my mother in tears over this exact thing. What was her advice to me, why am I always calm after I click the phone off? There's only so much "advice" to have during this time because we all silently know the answer: we need to find ourselves holistically, first.  

Some people need the diverse change of pace to help them begin to embark on what it is they want to do with their life. I feel safe to say that (almost) all of us desire purpose to our lives, which is thankfully matched by a plethora of opportunities. I will also admit that I am finding ease in creating this post but struggling in producing the quality of concern that I have for it, returning to the idea of how strange it was to witness my emotions and thought process in someone I care about. 

So how do we pick ourselves up? How do we get the ball rolling when the motivation is buried under layers of discouraging thoughts? There's definitely not a set guideline so here is a rough draft list of advice: 

1) Give into the spiral: go a little bit crazy. I think that we need to do this in order to understand how badly we want to diversify or pursue our passion. Going off the rails is the first sign and giving in is the acceptance of that. 

2) Patience, love. Time is the hardest lesson that we have been given in this life and it demands its pace over our desire. It starts with one day and goes one day at a time, enjoy it while you find your way back. 

3) Lost is not lost, it's just temporarily confused. The feeling of being so disconnected from yourself that you endure the burden of trying too hard to feel found. Remember when you did not have the answers as a young child? Remember getting lost in the backyard grasses and skies filled with imaginary animals, worrying about nothing yet feeling everything. Don't take your second childhood for granted too.... 

4) The Bad Days: you're going to have them, they're going to feel like a 20 foot leap backwards from the cliff you just scrambled up. They're going to feel bigger than the steps you made going forward, but they aren't permanent. This. Too. Shall. Pass. But you're allowed to have your pity party days, in fact, embrace them. Let them serve as reminders. 

5) You're not alone. The more that I personally dive into my calling in life, the more shocked I am to discover that it's the pre-mid-life crisis and that our generation is on fire with it. We've been caught in the cross hairs of our parent's generational standards and pure, blissful, enamoration for life. (yup, I made up that word) 

My dilemma is dancing between the freedom and the money that makes that freedom feel so good (too). There's the desire to have challenge to aid in progression but also a deeply rooted and unexplored love for the open road. If we diverge now, what happens in a handful of years, when we are considered "out of touch" to the upcoming generations? What about the generations far wiser than us now, who tell us with sad admiration that we are doing the right thing, that they wish they would have done it all differently? 

So why does it feel so awful to bare the weight of? We are so hard on ourselves, setting expectations too high while banging our fist against the wall when we turn around and disappoint ourselves. 

It's the cyclical, unanswered conundrum. But we'll make it out... 

 

 

Another Year...

Anniversaries are especially strange when they serve as permanent reminders for a part of you that you otherwise wish never existed. 

Every time this month of the year rolls around, I know that it marks another tick for the past, and even with being able to genuinely say that I am getting better, it still doesn't depart from you. The date reminds me of the night specifically, but the year, the year is filled with constant triggers, reminding you that one night was not just one time. 

After leaving a serious relationship and finally finding the interest to start dating again, I was hit with a new wave of how to deal with my PTSD. It's not easy trying to tell your partner that what happened to you eight years ago, trying to explain to them that something you had put so far back in your mental closet was brought to the surface by anotherdifferent man, and trying to explain how you are working on forgiveness while still dealing with the unexpected upset in your healing process. It's even harder to explain to someone, that for years, you spent them living in denial, pretending that that night had never even happened, and that it did not have any genuine affect on you as a person. 

I stopped telling my partners about it and some never knew, ever, while some I waited for the right time to bring it up. Sometimes I have told them right off the bat so as not to waste either of our times. But most of the time, there never is a right time, it is sort of this awkward conversation where you're trying to explain something without seeking sympathy for it. Most reactions are as you'd expect: a loss of words, them wishing they could take it all back as if, and everything ending in swarming thoughts of, "how do I act around her now?" There's a misplaced pressure that ends up being endowed to the point that I have had to ask myself why it is that I feel the need to share this part of my past with them. 

I think that it is part of my way of coming to reality with it all; it serves as the explanation for why I am still easily surprised and visibly "jumpy", for why I absolutely freak out in closed stairwells, for why I cannot find it in me to be intimate as often, for why I lock every door right behind me. It's the explanation for the bad days and the even worse nightmares. It's hard to say that I do not expect anything from gaining this knowledge, however I think that my reason for sharing it makes me want to know that they understand me fully. Even as I write this, I am still coming to the honest terms as to why I feel like I need to share this. 

The part about the PTSD that I loathe the most is the jump to distrust that I place on males. Some of the first thoughts that fire away when triggered are 1) how am I going to escape, 2) what is this man capable of, and 3)  what are his intentions. My anxiety spikes and I find myself trapped, freezing in the hopes that in that moment I will know what to do this time around. A man's size has stopped intimidating me, it is the looks that come from their eyes that shake my whole body. I pray that I'll find my voice before it's too late and that someone will hear and come help; I fear that someone will hear my scream and look the other direction. 

While staying in a hotel room for an extended period of time, I noticed every week that there was a new crew of traveling road workers coming through. The interactions consist of them wanting to pet my dog, asking me vague questions that I have felt to be otherwise harmless, and taking long smoke breaks. The most recent group to come through has been the most off putting; at one point, one man asked me how I was doing every time he saw me, to which he would always respond to my response with, "praise jesus" and a grinning face. I have been eyed by a few others from their hotel window room and in the hallway from their doorways. Living in a key-card locked hotel room with two interior locks, I will admit that I feel safe once inside, but not until the top lock is set. One evening, I became so worried that I almost didn't leave the room, fearing that upon my return, something bad was going to take place. My mind races horribly in all the wrong directions, assuming these men are seeking something so awful, but I am reminded that my hair is long, my body is that of a woman's, and I do not give most people the sense of having much strength: natural, easy appeal. 

Sometimes I want to convince myself that I am being irrational in the attempt to no longer justify my panic. But I am a hardcore believer in gut feelings and it is in moments like these that I am literally begging for it to be wrong. I hate assuming the worst in people because it alters the kindness that you can give to them that they honestly probably deserve. 

I do wonder if there will be day, a day where that part of me goes silent for good. Does it come from self healing? Does it come in the form of a significant other who can learn how to love you? Does it happen if you can push it back into its closet and lock the doors? Is it going to be among the last memories that I feel before I leave this world? Will it follow me beyond this life? Why did this even happen.... 

I am not convinced that talking about it makes it better, but I do know that it at least doesn't make it worse. It's like the little scar that will be there forever, fading with time but stitched into your makeup forever. 

I am not an activist, I do not try to dedicate my life to addressing this epidemic, because it will never go away. You see it in children, who throw fits when they do not get their way, when teenagers get into vicious fights over relationships, when adults can't understand when "it's over" means that it is over. Humans are powered by a natural desire that overcome rationality through actions; there will never be a time where rape does not exist. Someone will always want their way. I hate that our society has "rape culture" even built into it, it makes it feel glamorized, when women in other countries are being sexually mutilated and even sentenced to death for being a victim of rape. I hate that we are a first world country and we cannot get more control over how victims are handled, how their cases are investigated, how many rapists are still running around freely, like D.F.. while there are people rotting in jail for pot possession charges. It feels like it's making national attention but nothing is actually being done about it; we are just more aware of how often it occurs now and how often it had been occurring. 

To D.F., I hope that your peace of mind is struck with the burden of the memory we unfortunately share. I hope that whatever woman ended up with you in life, that you know not to treat her the way that you treated me as a stranger. Most importantly, I hope that no other woman has had to suffer under the strength of your desires. It is my biggest regret that I internalized this instead of turning you in like you deserved. God I hope you carry some part of this with you every day, I hope something in you dies a little and that you don't know why, so that maybe you can begin to feel the burden of what you did to me. I have been reminded countless of times of how powerful forgiving you can be and there are moments where I do feel that I have started to let you go, but the memories that flood me, the nightmares you've given me, it's too hard to forgive you. Forgiveness towards you feels like accepting that what you did was okay. 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter To My Regret

Dear You, 

I, too, will never forget the grey sweater that hung off of one of my shoulders, the warmth of the sun still seeping from my skin after the work day, and you. I had been awaiting your arrival and I let my eyes spy on your every move until I found the open seat on the porch, next to you. With every ounce of intention, I placed my hand on your knee in a disguised reaction to something that wasn't actually that funny, I just wanted to feel the spark, the surge. 

They say that when you play with fire, you are due to get burned. I flicked the lighter in confined spaces, I struck the match on dry days, and eventually I watched the entire forest we had created together, burn into an ugly, black landscape with no sign of hope growing. 

I remember standing in my room, facing you with reluctance in what I had chosen for myself, and saying, "...until this doesn't work", truthfully knowing that I was secretly trying to give myself a opt out, in case it was necessary. I remember holding on when the rope was burning my flesh and latching on tighter when I began to bleed. We were an unpredictable thunder storm that was due to create a wildfire. 

I had wanted something from you that I should have known better than to ask of. Atticus writes, "tell me, she said, about our house, about our children and our gardens, about the life we will one day have, tell me, but he never did, because it wasn't real, and it wasn't until she was gone that he understood, that she never needed the house, she only needed the dream"; all of the nights spent in tears because our dreams were too personally important for each other, when all I wanted was to feel you want to grow with me. I craved for you to daydream with me even in there was no possibility of fruition, I just wanted to know that you could be as foolish as me in chasing happiness. 

For months, I held onto my sorrow of bitter resentment towards the love that was cutting like a knife, even after I had left you. Now months have become years and the garden of regret has stretched its vines into the beds that never deserved that kind of toxicity. For a while, I could do nothing but blame you, to analyze your faults and reassure myself that the good had been taken from instead of myself just losing it. My desire for you to carry the burden of yourself became a focal point for what I thought was my healing journey. 

There have been many a times that I have spoken the words aloud, that I am over you. And I am, when it comes to love. Where you haunt me is in the memories and now, the similarities. Your behavior, your treatment, your reactions - they have all become red flag factors when I am face to face with an entirely new and different soul. I spend countless hours attempting to talk myself out of how these people are not you. I have walked away from people, giving them no fair chance simple because of the memories, the associations, the fear of losing another couple of years to someone who is capable of stunting my growth. No one is capable of hurting me the way that you damaged me, however no one is capable of hurting you the way I did too. 

Taking responsibility for the aspects that to me, were always rooted in the fundamental disagreements I kept within about your character, has been extremely difficult. Part of me still recognizes that there may have been a chance for me to have never seen my ugliest side while in the same breath of air, maybe if it hadn't been you, it would have been someone else. 

Regret is a heavy word, we are taught "to not regret the things that made us smile" but I believe that you need to experience regret to learn from your mistakes. If your memories can still bring you nightmares, you are allowed to hold onto your regrets. My thoughts have shifted into wishing that the universe had never conspired to bring your presence into mine, wondering why I had to learn the things that I have in that regard. I stare at the dog that I picked out and you picked up, trying my hardest to always forget how you took her from me and how you sought the justification for it. There will always been unforgivable factors in anything that comes to an end. 

There are nights that I wake with rage still, pleading with my memories to let them burn instead; they are not teaching me anymore, they are just torturing. Your name seeps from my lips when my frustration builds and my only blame is you. I pray everyday for my mind to learn how to remove you from it's corridors so that there can once again be more room for the flowers I had planted before you. 

I hold fear for the ones to come after me; fear for what they may go through without a heeding warning. No one expects to lose their self to what lured them in. I pray that I find peace that is detached from you because forgiving you has always felt like I am accepting the parts that were truly wrong by definition and moral standard. 

May your memory become one of insignificance, may I learn to not make the same mistakes, may I know when to leave before it begins to burn. May the seedlings begin to find their path out of the dark soot and ash, that they grow roots so strong and deep that winds like yours won't be able to knock them down again. 

"We are made of all those who have built and broken us" - Atticus 

 

Where My Respect Lies

What I am about to explain with an over dramatic preface has been one of the hardest decisions I have had to make regarding my stance, my respect, and all that I value. Over the course of the next year (and longer if need be), I will be gearing up to become a full time freelance photographer/writer. 

The long term goal of wanting to write a book has been brewing ever since someone placed Atticus' "Love Her Wild" in my hands; inspired to combine both my photography with carefully crafted words, I believe that my mind works best on the road. 

I wanted to publish a piece of explanation to promote a proper understanding of how I plan to progress with the new idea of "selling out". I have long been an advocate for keeping hashtags far away from the places I photograph. Admittedly, when I first moved to Utah and began photographing there, I was part of the problem. I chose to sharply adjust as I watched some of my favorite finds become exploited. I still feel strongly about keeping these places sacred, pure, protected. They are too important... 

Although I do plan to reintroduce hashtags on my social media accounts, it will be for the purpose of sales, not popularity. I plan to still remain anonymous about specific places as I do not value myself or my work to be more important than helping protect locations. 

Photography has been a long standing passion of mine that I do also love to share with others and I have created a very personal and closed off environment to harbor the safety of the places that I love and cherish, selfishly. Ultimately, I am trying to redirect viewers to the website versus just the Instagram page so experience better quality posts. Viewers can also expect to see more information regarding dog friendly hiking, camping, care, and tips. 

Bear (bare?) with me through this adjustment period, as I am already an open book on social media however extremely uncomfortable with doing what I am about to do. Also, no, this does not mean that I will be renewing a Facebook account.....

 Please enjoy the awkwardness that will ensue! 

 

 

And If They Don't Change?

This is not a feminist rant. It is instead the exploration of why people cannot accept someone's decision, from a female specific point of view (as you will find out). 

In 1999/2000, my childhood interest in having a baby doll was found dead after the birth of my second sibling: my brother. I remember being in the hospital for some of the bits and pieces of his arrival, holding and nurturing a baby doll that was made to be extremely life-like. It was a baby boy, of course for the anticipated arrival of my new brother (something my parents probably did to help me start to adjust to the changes coming), and it never cried. 

In 2004/2005, as part of our fifth grade year, we created flour-sack babies as part of a health/sex education class project, a pure example of wrongly timed education in my opinion as a bunch of immature fifth graders were throwing sacks of flower around or thinking of how they would "self destruct" the flour baby once the project was over. I remember dressing mine up, keeping it on my hip usually, and being mostly annoyed by it every now and then. It was a burden more than anything, but did I honestly learn anything from it? Consciously, I don't think so; subconsciously, it might have created my innate desire to never have children (??). 

As the years progressed my mindset on children began to grow stronger; my mother volunteering me for babysitting jobs until she realized that I'm probably not the most ideal person to leave kids with because well, I hate them. At one point it became an actual aversion, where I didn't want to stand anywhere near a child under the age of twelve. They were usually gross, smelled gross, and had gross things dripping from their hands or face. The more women who I watched get their bellies rubbed by random people or how they would make you stare at their stomach until the alien inside them kicked them and the mother SMILED. Don't even get me started about childbirth.... 

Finally, as I reached the age of twenty-four, I could feel my mother finally accepting that she was never going to get grandchildren out of me. Part of me does feel apologetic for my decision because I know how much she values family and how much joy it would bring her to spoil a new family member. I do honestly believe that she has come to terms with my decision, I also believe that she holds a small, tiny reserve of hope that one day I might change my mind. That'll be the day Momma! 

So why am I writing this then? Sure plenty of women, men, couples - they are choosing to not have children either, for a plethora of reasons. Some do not want to pass their family genes down to yet another child, some find they have no desire, some have no choice in the matter as nature has decided for them. It may make me selfish to not want children simply because it will take away from my life in ways that I am not ready to sacrifice. I know myself well enough to know that I will feel robbed. 

Where the frustration lies with this topic is that folks still do not believe the words coming from my mouth when I have made it known that I do not want to have children, by any definition. They say things like "well in five years you might change your mind", "you're going to be different in even a couple of years, you don't know if that will stay that way", "you'll change your mind, you're still young". No one readily accepts that I have made that choice for myself; they don't understand that I already looked into getting my tubes tied and to my horror found that I could suffer from a life threatening pregnancy if it happened. They don't hear me when I say that I have been taking birth control since age sixteen and that I never plan to live without it. 

Women are allowed to not want to put our only body through that special type of hell; to not want to experience sleepless nights or always accommodating for a child; to not desire to feel that "special bond" that mothers swear by in birthing your own blood. We are allowed to not want children. 

. . . 

Take a moment to stop and smile when a woman tells you what her decision is, or maybe what she hopes to have in life, whether it may be with children or without. Smile at her to let her know that whatever choice she has made, is the right one for her. 

Knock Knock, Anyone There?

While exploring the self contained rut that has propelled me into reinvention and redefinition, it happened. 

Meaningful friendships that last a lifetime, I have no understanding of. At some point, the person will always leave, there will be a time where their impact does not even resonate anymore. It is definitely a defining character flaw of mine: expecting the loss. 

Relationships, interactions, they are both extremely important to me. In fact, I thrive off of these, despite growing up anti-social and being made pretty uncomfortable by most people, I developed into a person who has cared too much. I am rabbit-holing here. Basically, whether I am directly interacting with someone or watching them interact, I am consistently reading energies, responses, body language ques to determine how genuine a person is. 

Alright so let's jump into this....

I thought that I had girlfriends until I figured out that they actually had girlfriends. This is self reflection right here because I know by now that this is entirely my own fault. I don't give enough shits about daily communication with people because I don't think that there's enough in one day to have back to back, meaningful "catch ups". Sharing about your day is one thing, with your partner whom you see everyday anyways, but trying this same method with your long distance friends has proven to be a waste of time for me. You end up trying so hard in the beginning that at some point, it tapers off so suddenly that it starts to feel like you're reaching more than they are. 

I'll totally own up to the fact that I am horrible at keeping in contact but great at wasting time on social media. True Millennial. I don't try hard enough. I also shut off when I have tried to reach out and get nothing back. Just because someone can't figure out their time management, doesn't mean that they do not care. I think there is confusion in that, I know that I have been personally fucked off by it, I mean shoot, I've lost friendships over the inability for both parties to keep in what we felt like was "regular" contact. Live and learn I guess. 

So yeah, I have become solitary. My dog became my focal point and for good reason: he doesn't get a choice. I never have wanted to be alone and I knew that with having a dog, I would have the excuse of never being alone again. It got to the point that I stopped dating because I wanted to dedicate more time to my pup instead, plus those interactions were hardly going anywhere and at some point that just gets so old. Of course, this has made it harder to respectfully latch on to someone else because I now understand that when I have found my person, I want most of my time to be directed/consumed by them and only them. Solitary. 

It bothers the hell out of me that I cannot seem to establish and keep growing friendships, that instead they end and they usually end in a nasty way. There's offended emotions, misunderstandings, and an overall "I'm fucking done with this" attitude that leaves you two as strangers. 

People can be such a beautiful waste of time, with time allowing you to sip on the sweet honey just until it's ready to sting you. 

Paper vs. Keyboard

Indulge your mentality and imagine with me....

Standing along the embankment, feet cushioned by soft padded earth that is swollen with nutrients, staring through the surface of the water to the rocks that lie below; my reflection is present but my thoughts are floating in the clouds above. As I take the time to grow into the comfort of my own presence, I slowly become flooded by the innate fact that the very skin that holds my bones together, does not feel like my own. The focus shifts from the depths, settling on the face staring back at me; my sigh is met with the guilt of never taking the time to befriend myself first. 

My mind wanders more than I would prefer it to. I have often been told that I "think too much" and while the truth of those words holds strength, my desire to figure out how to be happy while still overthinking is the forefront of objective. Most days, I am consumed by what should otherwise keep me up through the dark hours of the day, contemplating, analyzing, justifying...

Every blade of grass is a sweet lick in reminder as to what it means to thrive: water, sunlight, encouragement. Without these things, even I would feel incomplete in creation. 

Even in the midst of writing this, I am lost. 

In the art of constantly finding oneself, one has to wonder if there will ever come a point of total acceptance, where the soul has made peace with its reality, where it does not hurt to face your own reflection. Do we every truly find ourselves? 

The kind of lost that you need to be in order to discover yourself is not the same lost as having lost yourself. It is cold, discomforting. It makes you crawl back into the holes you secretly dug when you were caught in pure bliss. 

Maybe I have chosen too soon, to find solace in minimal places and faces. The more that I have witnessed human interaction take place, the more I find myself drawing more detached from feeling incredibly grateful for having met a new soul. Overtime, I have come to recognize, that people find ease in talking about themselves; it is the easiest, first interactive way to connect: through shared experiences. Upon this realization a number of years back, I admittedly began to adjust my listening language and skill set by making stronger eye contact, asking questions that prompt thoughtful response, and genuinely trying to express my care and concern. What it returned to me instead, were people knowing only how to speak about themselves and them leaving upon feeling like they had been heard. There became an unhealthy imbalance of caring too deeply for each and every interaction I had with someone, believing fruitfully in the human experience, leaving me with the realization that I had given so many parts away from myself that I was left with the loneliness of not knowing who I was anymore. 

In the process of reevaluation and redefinition, I am forced to confront the interactions in my life that have both influenced yet robbed me; I will admit that with this, comes the taste of regret, like salt that is added to an untasted, pre-seasoned dish. There has been acceptance in knowing that I will never get those parts back of me, there has been excitement in knowing that I will never have those parts again, but mainly, mainly there is silent, steady confusion. 

Be kinder to yourself. Gentle breezes, free flowing water, soft moss under your skin, they are all reminders. 

I have wondered if maybe my mind has begun to taper off of its creative thought due to not holding a pen in my hand more often. The clicking of the keys on a keyboard are an addicting satisfaction partnered by the incredible ability to capture more words than any pen could ever keep up with. Maybe I am drowning. My mind falls into the depths of the open roads while I try hard to remind myself to not bring this particular dream to fruition (at least not prematurely).

I am far too addicted to new experiences in old territories. I am too easily fascinated by the chirping sounds of the animals that taunt me with their freedom and how wonderful it is to walk barefoot onto cold sand after a night wrapped in warmth.

I love it all too deeply. 

"I think I want bangs..."

There are two responses you should give someone who says, "I think I might want to get bangs.."

A) No. 

B) But do you really want to?

A couple of weeks ago, I felt myself get caught up in the waves of regularity. I wanted to change something. I deleted my Facebook, set my Instagram to private, bought a new pair of earrings, and yet here I was, again, restless. A new tattoo has been consistently out of reach and my desire to pierce something new is nonexistent...what's easier to change than your own hair? I've never been brave enough to dye it the deep auburn color I've had my eyes on for years and therefore I ended up scrolling through photos of bangs. Yikes. 

Naturally, I made my decision within a couple of hours and before the end of the day, I had an appointment booked for the next morning. I had sent photos to my family, my closest girlfriend, and my partner, all of whom were very supportive in this awful choice (haha). I went to sleep having already prepared myself for the worst with this haircut to come. 

Over the past seven years, a pair of scissors have touched my hair maybe three times, all in which were very basic trims. There has only been one woman who I trust to cut my hair and she lives back home in Italy and tries not to let her jaw drop every time I do decide to come in for a trim. Why, you ask? Seven years ago, the summer going into my senior year of high school, I decided to get my hair cut. The lady cut it so uneven that after crying for an hour at home about it, I returned to have it fixed, upon which they had to chop off two inches to fix it. I had a bob-cut going into my senior year of high school. I cried for roughly three straight days. 

So, as I am hand-sweating my way through my wait time, my hairdresser comes to get me and asks me about the haircut I am seeking. I very calmly locked eyes with her and said, "this is the first time someone is cutting my hair. I am freaking out." HER FACE WAS PRICELESS: "seven years?" Luckily, this hairdresser was pretty nice about everything and kept checking in on my mental stability throughout the process. After the whole ordeal was over with, I walked outside into a gust of wind and immediately didn't know what to do with my hair; my bangs parted in every direction into the air forcing me to just accept it and hope I didn't look too 80's rockstar-ish. 

Like I had mentioned before, I had done some mental prep for this hair cut and basically was expecting to hate what I saw but was also ready to embrace whatever new challenge this haircut was going to present for me. No joke. This is the exact reason why I haven't had the Post Haircut Mental Breakdown; I am trying to look forward to what the bangs will look like in a couple of months and you can bet your sweet self that I already busted out the peppermint oil because your girl is IMPATIENT. I'll tell ya though, my regret lies heavier with how much hair had to be cut off due to it being dead (whoops) because if I had never gone to get it cut...it would still touch the back of my elbow when it's in a ponytail! 

To recap: do not let your gal friend just up and decide to get bangs, and do not let her follow through with it......unless they are ready for the weirdness of going from twenty-four to twelve.  

The First Month

The deception of time comes by way of measurement in chaos: the more on the platter, the less free space to organize. I laugh with both embarrassment and shame at my one month in Wyoming versus my first month in Montana. There has not been one day of tear-drop driving since moving to Montana.....

I get a wide range of questions once folks are finally able to pinpoint where I currently am, mostly pertaining to why I left Utah and if I am happy with my decision(s). So let's chat about 'em: 

"Why did you leave the first time?" 

- The first time I left Utah was in 2016 and it was for an internship in Washington State that I was using to both a) separate from my ex and b) find a new mountain biking home. Bellingham was home for 3 months but I returned to Utah in April 2017. I left again in 2018 because of the Vail Resorts buy-out in Park City that has ruined the town and morphed it into "Outside Magazine's Top Ten Best Summer Spots". 

"Why Wyoming?" 

- I chose Jackson Hole as my next best option for a few simple reasons that were focused around being close enough to Utah still while trying to break free from my attachment to the state. The drive back and forth proved to be effortless and it allowed me to keep one foot in familiar territory while trying to boldly try something new. I also took the first job that I could, as I was eager to move on from Park City. 

"How did Montana come into play then?"

- While applying to job after job for Colorado, on a whim I found an HR position opening with Big Sky Resort and decided to just go for it. The rest is fate or good timing, whatever you believe in. I had not yet stepped foot in the state of Montana and until two weeks ago, I had not been further than Big Sky. 

"What do you like more, Utah or Montana?" 

- No Wyoming?! JK, Wyoming almost can't count. After a going on a couple of hikes around town, I realized that Montana is literally this weirdly perfect mix of Utah and Washington. Not too dry, not too wet, there's water constantly running through the land but you aren't getting a sweaty hug from nature. Montana has me on edge far more than Utah did when it comes to the outdoors, where in Utah I found great ease in venturing out alone however in Montana, I have a lot of reluctance to be solo. I carry bear spray on a consistent basis here, all of your crumbs need to be picked up no matter what, all of the beer here is real, and dogs can be off leash if they're voice command trained. Big Sky actually has an off-season still whereas Park City has lost theirs but with the resort being separate from the town of Big Sky, it is lacking a historic main street venue (and a Walmart, thank god). Overall, there are just less people out here, and that is what makes it so appealing. I don't think that I have been in Montana long enough to fairly judge if I enjoy one more than the other....because Utah will win in the name of "that's home". To add to that question though, my favorite things about Montana so far include its simplistic nature of the land and the people, a decrease in traffic, little to no alcohol laws, medical marijuana, and the fact that it's called "mantana", or "maltana" for the men. 

"Do you miss Utah?" 

- Oh for sure I do. I miss the entire state despite the small parts of the things that I don't miss. I miss the desert the most though and sometimes it feels too far out of reach. I miss the 24 hour quick sends to Southern Utah and scouring the map for the road I hadn't driven yet. I miss watching the sun bleed over the Great Salt Lake for it's summer sunsets and hiking The Cottonwoods for some of the best day-hang locations. All of the things that I miss about Utah will find their roots in Montana, in due time; it's easy to miss familiarity and comfort.

"Do you have any regrets about the last few months?"

- I do in the sense that I wish that I would have said more goodbyes to people, that I would have spent some of my time in Utah differently especially towards the end. But overall, I can't say that I honestly regret any of it; Wyoming taught me a whole chapter on myself that ultimately led me to Montana, even with all the crying that occurred. Wyoming showed me that I was not meant to be in Wyoming and that I needed to find a state that actually made sense to me, not because I wanted out of a different one so badly. 

"Biggest challenge you faced?" 

It was trying to do all of this with an injured dog. Having a dog alone is hard enough and housing can be the biggest frustration to accompany that. Having a dog that was also under 1 year old and definitely not okay with being locked in a crate for any period of time, made the stress heighten even more. I had a learning curve of letting Zuke stay home, unsupervised; grocery shopping an hour from my front door; driving an hour to and from work; and learning how to truly drive in the snow. Wyoming forced me to grow up and face things that I otherwise would normally pick up and run from. 

* * * 

To me, it hasn't been that hard to keep up with storm I inflicted, however I have come to realize that while I had a loose grip on life, a lot of folks did not yet even know that I had left Utah. On May 7th, Zuke and I completed our first month in our new home state. There's no more hoping that a place will work out or hoping that it won't become a sour taste in three years because now there's a focus on actually making this work for us. It's the byproduct of being tired of starting over. It's the byproduct of understanding that at some point, I need to stop running. 

Liberation At Last!

When I was growing up, I was definitely not allowed to have a myspace, which was the cool internet page that all my friends had while I typed away on my AOL instant messenger. Thank you Mom and Dad for making that call for me, seriously. 

At age sixteen and after begging my parents to please let me get one, I finally became an online version of myself. With Facebook came Instagram and yes, if you scroll all the to the bottom, you will find my awkward teenage self plastered with filters every other post. Short hair, way too into snowboarding, it's a time capsule that I never intentionally sought it out to be but I am honestly grateful for it's collection. It's like scrolling through the self journey I embarked on even when I did not realize that I didn't quite know myself yet. 

About a year ago I began to really monitor my Facebook presence and outreach; I set up as many security features as I could so that you had to be my friend to see photos and posts. Eventually that turned into me removing all personal contact information for anyone to see and finally to the changing of my display name in the hopes of making me even less identifiable. Why? Jobs, exes, family members that didn't know how to check on me with words but instead just stalked my life through the internet, and being "looked into" by anyone that I didn't know - I wanted to force people to find a different way to contact me if it was important enough. 

The longer that I kept Facebook, the more that I realized how ignorant and wasteful it had become. So many unintelligent opinions being shared, people reposting videos and memes instead of photos of their dog or life, and finally the last straw was that every time I scrolled through, it was the same shit over and over again. No one had original things to share and I became desensitized to the social issues we're facing as a society, the idiot of a president that we have, even the mass murders taking place across the nation. We talk a lot of talk in this nation but the majority of folks do it from behind a screen still. 

So that was it, after a couple scrolls through it one morning and being left with the only though of "what did I just look at", I googled how to delete the account. And yes, I didn't just deactivate it, it's fully deleted, and I'm patiently waiting out the next 14 days until it is truly gone forever. Do I miss it yet? No, surprisingly, I mean it was something that I was checking every day, multiple times a day and so therefore I figured that I would have a bigger feeling of regret (like I did with Snapchat 4 months ago) however this one has been effortless. After deleting the app from my phone, I have not even though about it. AND IT IS AMAZING. 

I didn't realize that something so simply like this would prove to give me the "change" I was looking for; I want to refocus my energy on finding deeper understanding in my presence as well as being fully present for my partner so that I can continue to learn from love, and lastly because I think that as humans, it is healthy for us to consistently seek change. 

Lastly, I deleted it with little warning and also mid conversation with a handful of folks but not even this fact put any regret into my decision. I am actually looking forward to having email pen-pals! So basically what I am saying is that it is possible to delete Facebook and still be apart of society! 

Less is More, Less is More...Less is...

Packing up my things has become a bit of a game; I enjoy it, how it allows me to sift through every external possession I hold onto in the act of riding my life of the unecessaries. Plus, it's like getting to do a life-sized puzzle trying to organize and fit everything into my car again. My coworker who had seen my car packed up said to me, "you didn't even look stuffed!" and it's because I downsized so much in order to live in my car.

As much as I was finding pride in my minimalism, after unpacking my car into what will be my room for the next year (at least), I was reminded very quickly of all the things that I didn't have anymore. I've been kicking myself for parting with my plants and my bedding, for giving up  my crock pot and favorite dishes, for getting rid of my string lights that I have literally always had as part of my bedroom set up. UGH, DANG IT. The frustration in having no money and still always needing something like food or shampoo but also needing pillows. 

The thing about minimalism, at least for folks like myself, is that it sometimes robs us of the simple comfort factor. Do I regret minimizing as much as I did? No, ultimately I cannot regret it, because for a while when home was the trunk of my car, I loved it. I fell in love with that freedom and I have come to understand that with my change in lifestyle, the minimalist bar that I've set for myself is feeling the heat: I'm uncomfortable with less. I have been cycling through the same four t-shirts and three cardigans hoping that the other people I work with don't pick up on the fact that I wear the same things over and over again. At first it was easy to embrace but as a female, at least from my perspective working with other females, I am very aware of my simplicity. I even started to wear makeup again. 

I guess my piece of advice would be to hang on to things through a few cycles; if you can look at something and begin to think about getting rid of it, keep it until you are filled with that same thought again. I would say to repeat that process until you absolutely know that you will not a) need it again b) need to replace it in the future. It was the one phrase that everyone kept telling me, "you can always buy a new one" and as true as that is...it traps you if you aren't prepared to replace such items when needed. 

"Learn to live without it" is the second piece of advice that I have received and also given but I return to what makes a person feel comfortable. Being comfortable in your place of dwelling is important, as important as practicing self care; you don't want to be unhappy in one of the only places that you are due to find peace. When thinking about my room, sure I can live without my little "fairy lights" and it will probably remain at the bottom of the list for a while of "what do I need" but damn, if those little lights aren't part of well being. I love natural light but when the natural light is gone, having nice lighting makes the whole room feel like a giant hug. So basically, to me, it's important but it's not a necessity (which can suck from the First World Mentality). 

Personally, what I have taken away from the entire experience has been to spend more time really thinking about the significance of an item in my life so that I do not end up back in this position of, "if I had only kept that...". If you want to enjoy your minimalizing, I think that it's okay to overthink your connection with your belongings/ 

 

Catching up on Change

The rivers here bleed with the high alpine sediments that are finding their freedom by grace of the melting sun. While they run muddled by the color brown, as you wind your way up to some of the source points, the water changes into this mystical, soft blue and green. We are surrounded with comfort by the consistent flow rushing between the trees and the steady disappearance of Winter. 

Riding up from the base of the canyon yesterday evening, I was reminded of the small treasures. It's really easy during these adjustment periods, to feel more lost than found, and to feel like you are moving in no given direction but you aren't moving backwards somehow. The money grows tight as the experiences squander your existence with grace and divine truth; it becomes an addicting cycle of losing yourself to the depths and resurfacing with the first bit of light. We've chosen our way, knowing that at any time it's always easier to back out and return to a different lifestyle. We've chosen our passions over our pockets. 

I fell so very hard for Wyoming; I loved the canyon walls before the spring melt could take it's turn at them, I loved Snake River before I could recognize how it was going to push me to grow, and I loved the peaks like hormonal adolescent: obsession. Alpine was a treat, a spectacle of my existence, so quickly apart of my life and even quicker to disappear.  The move to Montana suffered many comparisons to Wyoming. 

I realized, while looking at the ridge line from the base of the canyon this morning, that I have been taking Montana by a grain of salt each day (I think) in order to prevent the love lost that I had with Wyoming. The similarities that I have otherwise tried hard to keep independent of each other are finally finding their grounds. Every single day, the rushing water brings a smile to my face. 

Montana is helping me disconnect and rewire myself back into my roots; it's helping me return to the most fundamentally based desires that I have been bringing up from the depths of my childhood and allowing me to combine both passion with lifestyle. It is giving me the space and time to reflect but most importantly the time to change. I always wonder how folks from small towns deal with feeling the need to start over, to start fresh; sometimes I am intrigued by how much stronger they must be than me, to know that they need change, but to accept their circumstances and to stick through it in the best possible way. I am a cop out, I start looking at every available direction I have when it's time to run. Three years in Park City pushed me to this point, a point that I do truly fear experiencing again, because the desire to settle down is becoming far more overwhelming. 

For every five thoughts of wanting to settle down, I have one that creeps into consciousness that tells me "...but what about freedom", leaving me in an over analytical mindset of what I need to be doing with the short time I have been given on this Earth. I look at Zukini and feel every fiber in my body ready to bring another one into our lives, I dream about the front door I'll own one day and not the house because I guess it doesn't matter if it moves or is built into the ground. I stay lost in feeling like I know what I want and selfish for never being able to make a steady decision. 

Finally, the last thought that has been weighing on the reality is that I think that I have opened a new door into understanding exactly what kind of person I truly am. I have struggled with wanting to have a strong network and never trying to keep in contact; it's the easiest way to lose someone you care about and yet I continue to aid in these practices, but why? I believe at this point, that I am destined to remain secluded and very particular about who I keep close. My family serves as the strongest unit to have ever dealt with my wrath and with all that they have witnessed as part of my growth, I could never be without them. That's four people, four humans. On two hands of five, my limitations of trust lie within a very few and very special folks outside of my family, with one spot consistently reserved for that one person who decides we're both worthwhile enough to put up with. 

 

Spring Melt + Mountain Towns East to West

After what seemed like a never ending winter, seeing new accumulation every week if not every few days, the dragging sunless days are seeing their end. It's hard to sleep in when everything the light touches is singing and calling you to come play. Summer daylight hours used to be my childhood taunt. 

The thing about writing is that sometimes it doesn't happen, there are no words to share or thoughts to explore. Instead, it's consumed by every present part of existence that you choose to relish it now rather than later. 

Mountain towns are an interesting environment to choose to call home. For most of us, our original draw to them has turned into a mellow obsession that is feeding our childhood aspirations of still seeking play. Do you remember the time when you were a child or a teen and you thought about how you wanted your life to look in the future? I was thirteen years old, standing in the rental line of Edelweiss' ski lodge, enamored by the folks who were tuning skis, setting up snowboards, and walking out in full uniform to go teach on mountain. Until then, the ski industry was just a glamorized page in a magazine I got every month. I knew in that moment that ultimately, I wanted to stay around the mountains simply because of their culture. 

Living with a ski resort just twenty minutes up the mountain from my front door in Italy, traveling once a year to Southern Germany for a week long ski trip, and riding other neighboring resorts, my idea of a ski town was strictly European based and therefore very warped. Over there, the lift operators are older than my parents, you don't have ticket scanners or on-mountain guest service members, you buy your ticket and pray to god you don't lose the ski map that folds up into the size of a business card. It was quieter, less flash and far less flare, and you kind of knew exactly what you were going to experience on mountain because it was Europe. 

The first American ski "resort" that I was actively at was in North Carolina and despite App Ski Mountain absolutely providing, it was still just rolling hills at best. I learned quickly about the "ice coast" and how rewarding it could be to wiggle up there after class to night ride. Sugar and Beech Mountain were also not the worst thing to exist but...then I learned about The West. Park City was one of the coolest ski towns I had ever laid eyes on and that was with seeing Breckenridge in the same first season out there. There was something magical about Park City, the endless seeming options for play, the bars that were all in walking distance or close enough to snag free transportation to and from. The winter had lured me in but the summer...oh the summer, it totally washed over me with such grace that I couldn't help but fall madly in love. 

What I had not seen in the Colorado based mountain towns was the damage that had long taken over, making it seem as though this normality was what the town had always sought after. I learned over the course of three years just how much a mountain town could be affected by and could change under different resort ownership. The corporate takeover warped the town into another cookie-cutter village of Vail and drove out the folks that seek skiing for skiing and not for the experience. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming proved to be the hardest town to survive in simple because of how deep the housing crisis is there. I had been told by many, "if you can make it in Park City, you can make it at any resort town" and boy were those folk either severely ignorant or naive. You couldn't feel good a ski bum there meaning that money was such a concern 98 percent of the time that the other 2 percent you had left over, you threw yourself into whatever ski tour, hike, or self care practice you could indulge in. You worked to live and lived to work in Jackson Hole. But it taught me more than I ever could have learned about myself and what is worth handling because ultimately Jackson pushed me into Montana for the first actual consideration. 

Big Sky is no exception to the realm of resort towns facing an affordable housing crisis. The housing provided by the resort itself has options and is a great route for people who want to work at the resort but do not want to commit to the area year-round or past a season. Just like Park City, the town is dog friendly up until you try to sign a lease, and you find yourself wandering back to the verge of homelessness. JK, there's always your car, silly goose. Big Sky is unique in comparison to the Colorado Plateau resorts in that the town does not have a "main street", a governing body or even mayor, or any restrictions on where you can/can't take your dog as far as watershed territory is concerned. The bulk of the jobs are with The Resort and with summer based landscaping/construction crews and a lot of folks commuting from Bozeman (which is by far the longest commute when comparing Park City, Jackson Hole, and Big Sky). We don't have major chain related places of business here and we certainly don't have a McDonald's anywhere close. Honestly, it's part of what keeps this town so worthwhile.

The reality of mountain towns, no matter where they are, will be that it was always be a less real type of reality. They are bubbles of existence that set incredibly ridiculous standards to match both the tourism needs as well as the local desires while trying not to drive out either population. Although slightly sad, it's totally necessary for towns like this in order to survive. Sometimes the shoulder seasons can see such quiet days that local business struggle. The bottom line is that these towns aren't just for anybody, they require a huge slap in the face multiple times in order to adjust, and most of them will only see those seasonal folks who will eventually settle down in a location where their rent is not their whole paycheck. Is there anything wrong with that? No freaking way. I think it makes you stronger as a person to have lived in a resort town, to understand the unrealistic parts of living in a place where people vacation instead. 

As I watch Lone Peak lose her winter blanket with every passing day, I'm reminded of why I've chosen to glue myself to places like these. To walk around and know what it means to feel deeply grateful for your surroundings; to watch my dog leap with excitement at every new trail head and know that this is our very best environment for growth. Maybe it's childish to never want to leave the mountains behind but I guess the child within me still lives on, chasing the rocks of a new peak I haven't touched yet. 

The Truth in Forgiveness

How does one preface the self made discovery of the accumulation of the previous three years' experiences, to find that the power in forgiveness lies in the hands of the ones you couldn't forgive...

Red wine has become a close friend of mine, my Kiwi host father would be smiling at that admittance while drinking a glass himself, one leg crossed under the other in the comfy leather couch. To my Kiwi host mum, I miss you beyond words can describe, but for honest words' sake, I miss your lasagna the most.

My free time, mentally, is met by a constant conversation with myself, mainly in the art of analyzing and overthinking with a newfound degree of control over the anxiety produced as otherwise a previous by-product. With that, I have been brought to the metaphoric table of life to address why I have been able to find forgiveness in places but more importantly in people, who were in personal consideration, dead to me. 

There is absolute strength in accepting that you forgive someone for what they have done, I am not here to discount that, however I believe that there is a far more pure point of forgiveness that we do not allow ourselves to go to, because it means admitting to our personal weaknesses. Once I was able to accept my role in why a relationship of any demeanor ended and once I was able to physically be around and in contact with them, I realized that that was true forgiveness. 

When you can face the other person and not feel the past of what has happened, when you can lay to rest every emotion that became by-product of the beauty in how a human grows, that is the experience of forgiveness. 

After experiencing heavy, heavy losses of friendships, I eventually came around to viewing these peoples' presence in my life, both positive and negative, as there being a genuine reason for it. I was due to learn something about myself, through another soul. If you really take the time to look at how every relationship has affected you, how it was brought you to where you are now in life as far as what expectations and efforts you are aware of, how could you ever regret it? You're choosing to spend more time figuring out how to lie in a bed with too many sheets when really all you need is pick your favorite. You shouldn't settle for less, you shouldn't treat others dishonestly along the way, and you can find forgiveness in the faces that you once couldn't bare the sight of. 

They'll Choose When...

What a lovely discovery it has been over the weekend to find that Vail: Park City has decided to up and change policies that just a couple months ago they were stubbornly headstrong on not changing. 

This message was shared with the employees at Park City Mountain: 

Dogs - Starting mid April HR has a policy on dogs on property.  If you are a guest you can bring your dog. It should be on a leash. It is up to the hotel if the dog is allowed to stay in the hotel room.  We can ask the guest if the dog is a Service Animal, but we cannot ask for proof or paperwork. We also cannot ask what service the dog provides.  As an employee you cannot bring your dog to work while on the clock. But you can bring your dog when you are off the clock because you are then considered a guest.   If you are an employee and have a service animal bring your paperwork to HR and you are free to bring your animal to work. " 

In March 2018, while employed with Park City Mountain Human Resources, I was written up by a coworker (who wrote me up after petting my dog that day, previous days before that, who kept her kid's skis in my office, and who should have been figuring out how to keep employee housing as an option for one of Vail's biggest resorts). At the time, the policy was no dogs period and if you needed your ESA with you, the four pages of paperwork that needed your medical history dated back to birth, would allow that, only after it was reviewed by the HR Director. Basically, wrap your arm around your neck twice and shove it in a place we don't speak about, and then try to sign the paper they needed.

The above statement, posted and emailed to employees the week of April 9-13, 2018, depicts that IF you are an employee, you just need to bring your ESA certs in and YOU ARE GOOD. 

Here's my thought process: my write-up was made known, I didn't keep it a secret what my own department had done that to me, and with that I began to be approached by other current employees who were bringing their dog(s) to work, with no problems. They would express their shock and secondarily their concern for their own situations, fearing that they too would suffer the same reprimands that were otherwise completely unfair. Then, a recruiter from my HR office adopted a new dog (not a puppy, it was aged beyond the first year by far) and she was keeping it in her office which was conveniently located out of sight from the front doors. After having other coworkers from that office confirm that this was occurring, I brought it up to my supervisor upon which she said "I am not responsible for Hannah". Cool, so with our own HR Director being Hannah's higher up, she was letting her get away with it and essentially looking the other way. 

Since leaving Vail Resorts, I've realized that I spent my whole time fighting things that ACTUALLY had grounds but no one had the courage to step up and work towards a goal that would accomplish respecting what is fundamentally right and wrong. Until the person up top decides it's time for change, no change happens in that company. 

I'm happy that folks will be able to bring their pups to work without fear of losing their jobs.

In case Park City would like to pay attention to any of the other topics that they are currently failing in, please read https://mckenzie-roers.squarespace.com/writing/2018/2/18/evail-the-wrong-going-on (EVail: The Wrong Going On article on this site) for a closer, in depth review about Vail Resorts operations in Park City, Utah.  

Communication, Caring, and Checking-in

A couple of years ago, the bottle that held all of the emotions popped like a rocket and unleashed across my personal life-one of the bigger character flaws that has taken me years to genuinely own up to. 

My involvement on different social media outlets began to produce a strange reaction of people feeling like my activity on these accounts meant that everything was fine, while it eventually led to a stronger disassociation with actual communication between friends and loved ones. I have always been an advocate for keeping the reality of your situation genuine while posting to social media and it has in turn given me the ability to be very open about my life. Although comfortable with how I have chosen to publicize my personal stories, I am learning that your successes and your failures are being measured by people who have chosen to instead read and criticize out of jealousy, lack of knowledge, and an overall unwillingness to have a mature understanding on the matter. 

I watch folks on social media, commenting on accounts of people whom they have never personally met, and wonder how some people can read what they do, with the love that they have, and still not reach out in the name of support. Out of empathy after reading a post written by someone I went to high school with, I chose to email her to express to her that she was not alone, that if she needed it, I was there for her. I never received a response. At first I thought about how rude it was, not even a simple acknowledgement, but then I came to realize that she was choosing to dwell in self pity instead. Some people cry for help that they do not actually want. 

There was one year that saw the worst of my feelings towards owning a Facebook and Instagram; my own family was using these resources as a way of confirming that I was "doing okay". After expressing how infuriating it is to have people assume things about your life, well being, and whereabouts, I found myself struggling to accept how busy life gets. It was easier to blame anyone else for how I was feeling as I was fighting much harder in accepting my role in the two-way street of life. I couldn't comprehend how people could acknowledge what I was struggling with but never reach out to me. It is rooted back from when kids in high school would ask other people about my life. No one ever had the wherewithal or respect to simply just ask me. 

Communication is hard; how embarrassing to say that considering how immediate we can be in contact with someone in today's world. Our presence via the internet is becoming our only way of connection: we text instead of call, we email instead of Skype, we let it go to voicemail every time. I am guilty of all of these practices however when I notice that someone I care about is having a hard time, I do try to personally reach out to them. Maybe that is the reflection of how I would like to be shown love and maybe therefore it is unfair to expect that from others, but it seems to be taking on a trend in today's society. 

The need for daily communication is overrated; most of the time there is not enough that happens day to day that you need to be venting or hearing from your loved ones. I respect people far more when they take days to respond and have substance to share rather than empty words used to fill the bucket of never being alone. 

If someone genuinely loves you, they will reach out to you. Asking someone to love you in the way you need to be loved is even harder. After lashing out at my parents years back for what "friends" are doing to me on a daily basis now, I realized that some people will never come around to wanting to understand how to communicate and connect with you. I'm thankful for the ones that have worked with me to push through these situations and who have genuinely considered how the two-way street actually works. It takes a lot of time and patience, a lot of conversations focused around expressing how you feel, how they feel, and what can be done to move forward in a way that respect both of you. It took months of trial and error with  my parents and from my perspective, I could not love them more for how they have really and truly worked on this with me and how they have shown me that we as humans are indeed capable of continuing to learn how to love someone, even as both parties change over time.

The people that care, will prove it. You shouldn't waste your time on anyone who is not willing to at least willing to give an honest effort. Always remember though, that people come into our lives to help us learn about ourselves; you shouldn't regret their presence or time shared because ultimately they are in and out of your life for a reason. Take it as a lesson and let the water keep flowing under the bridge. 

TGR, The Disappointment of Social Media, Drone "Pilots", and Your Sob Story

I am about one month away from chucking my cell phone into the biggest river I can find; watching it burn out of existence would be too satisfying in knowing where it ended up. 

Where the hell to start with the love/hate relationship....

Teton Gravity Research: what the fuck. This company, this organization, this media group, this whatever you want to call it-it's taking millions of personal humans hands, holding them, and ruining the outdoor world through pleasurable exploitation. When I first saw the Tetons, I thought to myself, oh my god, how could anyone want to ever ruin that? Want to work for TGR: apply if you have no respect for your lifestyle and where it takes place. This media group prides themselves in exploiting the lands we hold sacred, all for the sake of fame and income, income is important. For something that once started as a source of inspiration for folks, has now turned into social media users obsessing over trying so hard to #tgrlivethedream. After coming across an account that was featured on TGR's Instagram, I quickly came to realize why she had been chosen: comfortably proud exploiter. She had posted a photo of multiple locations that, even as a new "local," I was shocked to know she had the disrespect for a place that she claimed to have the upmost respect for. That's when it really hit me: why are people, companies, organizations...anyone with a social media platform that extends beyond their hometown, more interested in getting more attention and "likes" instead of trying harder to protect these places. We become obsessed with a location based off a photograph, the basis of inspiration, however the work put into discovering it has been deescalated into the hands of lazy recreation-ers.  Remember those super cool paper books that were too big to open in the front seat of your car? They have roads plastered all over them AND we have Google Maps to really do some research on where we want to go. You should be inspired to go out and do what you love, not because you need the post or can't think of anything without watching accounts like TGR to know you have a passion about something. Here's where I agree with TGR: film industry. They have unquestionably produced some of the highest quality short films that focus around the outdoor industry's key lifestylers. That's where it ends..... 

Social Media has been a string of disappointments offset by the occasional interaction that leads to the meeting of some of the best souls you would have never found otherwise. Those few and far in betweens are the reason I haven't up and offed myself completely. I cannot be one to say not to pull out your phone to photograph what you want but just as there is responsibility in taking out the trash you brought into a location, you have a responsibility to shut the fuck up. We have our National Parks for a reason; there a lot of people that do not deserve to be recreating the way that they are. Let me REPEAT that: There are a LOT of people that DO NOT DESERVE to be recreating THE WAY that they are. Too rude? I'll stop when I stop picking up forgotten clothing, non-biodegradable trash strewn in places that make absolute no sense, when I stop seeing peoples' initial carved into a live tree or natural landscape; I will stop when I stop hearing drones buzzing above my head in a place that I should be able to hear my own breathing. 

Drones: if 3-D printers couldn't be bought by the average person and they couldn't be used to create weapons, drones would be the worst thing invented and given to the public, affordably. My first question when I hear one, because I always hear it before I ever see it, is why? Why did you need that perspective, why do you need a selfie of your car from a birds eye view? The only footage I have seen and honestly been impressed with were Candide Thorvex's follows and when a drone has been flown straight into a sky of fireworks. But aside from criticizing the perspective drones provide, it's the "pilots" that need the rocks thrown towards. You're being rude, intrusive, and irresponsible. Can you imagine being mid-climb on a wall where you have little opportunity to welcome any distraction and all of the sudden you have a drone buzzing over your shoulder, filming you without permission, with no idea where it came from or who is on the other side of that camera. That happened to a friend of mine that resides peacefully in Moab. I have actually been peeing in a forest when, upon standing up from the bush line, I was looking up to the sky at a drone hanging above my location; I have even had a drone hover while I hiked down trail for five minutes before it rerouted, recording what?! Lastly, you're not a pilot, you are a video game control operator. 

The final rant: social media sob stories. I will be the first to admit that I have chosen to share the majority of my life with the internet, I believe that there are people who appreciate genuine inspiration instead of sponsored versions and therefore opening up your life is all part of the sign-off. There is one particular video spamming the internet right now that every time it ends up on the screen in front of me, I hate it more and more. First reaction when reading: she is just jealous. As much as I would love to be on the road 24/7, I actually do want a job and to be based out of one place, I want a home. Otherwise, nope. I have mulled over this person's story multiple times. How did he videotape himself immediately after "ruining" his life, how did he even pull out a cell phone other than to call someone; how, if you lived in a camper, you know the modern "home on wheels" truck set up that provides you a place to sleep wherever you are, did you fall asleep at the wheel? Did you not get into your car, look at your dog's face, and think about that while you drove? That you had another life to take care of, another life to be responsible for in keeping safe and out of harms way to the best of your ability? You could have pulled over. I could care less about his childhood, the challenges he faced as a teen, and how hard he worked to "rebuild his life" because ultimately, his platform is simply just a plea for undeserved sympathy. Do you know that one of my family members grew up living in a mix of states across the USA because her mother was so out of control and irresponsible that she had to grow up by the age of THIRTEEN and had to figure out her own success without sponsorships?! There are thousands of kids who have had such worse fucking lives, all they dream about is a day without pain, and you lost your dog to a decision you weren't responsible enough to make. 

Driving tired can be as dangerous as being intoxicated. It's illegal to drive under the influence. Alcohol prevents you from making what would otherwise be responsible decision, don't you think being tired has the same effect? Ask anyone who has really pulled an all-nighter. Life is more important than a deadline, or at least it should be. 

Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, and personal experiences below. Thanks. 

 

Reflection + Realization

One week of distraction, one week of raw acceptance, seven days of feeling instead of thinking. There were times that I was searching for words, aloud or from within, I wanted words but I only received emotion. I'll admit now, this post is going to reach into every part of me. 

**

I stopped dreaming on a regular basis a few years ago, not by choice of course, but naturally I was waking to no memory of one. Throughout those few years though the dreams that do make it through into what I feel is my reality, they are powerful, they leave me suddenly awake and drenched in cold sweat, racking my brain to find where it was rooted. Last year, my first trip down to the desert was met by my first night's sleep of a nightmare that I slipped into three times in one evening. This time, as I still try to figure out if this new dream was over the course of two nights or twice in one night, I remembered the feeling more than the lesson. I never reached the lesson. I woke with such sorrow and hurt in my heart as my dream was focused on walking away from my family but wanting them to reach for me, to pull me back, and they wouldn't, they were finally done with me. I was too stubborn to return, I kept fighting and fighting to prove a point (what point?) and to feel from them that they did not want me to leave. 

Both times that I have had these tremendous dreams and experiences, I have had two specific souls that were there for me to help me work through what some of it might mean (Tayler C. you're kind and genuine soul being there the first time, I am forever grateful). This time I was in the comfortable company of someone who has been in my life the longest thus far, excluding family, who was raised in a military family and who I used to steal skate shoes from in middle school because he was so much cooler than me, who has been through just as wild of a roaster coaster in his own way. As we talked, I came around to at least some conclusion that would set my mind at ease; we were raised to depend on our immediate family members, consistently, because they were the only ones that were consistent. Our military based childhoods were met with people always leaving, us trying to figure out how to make our parents stay while not understanding what a deployment was, holding onto friendships with dental floss thin strings, and trying desperately to find our roots throughout life when we finally leave the only lifestyle we've been taught. You develop such an indestructible relationship with your family members that there is fear in separation, fear in autonomy....we begin to realize that we only have each other. My dream was attacking my only set of roots while trying to tell me that no matter how scary it is to go beyond your family, that it is something that needs to happen. 

** 

The word "love"; why is this word so hard to get out when it actually means something? I still have a hard time telling my best friend that I love her as we hang up the phone because I mean it to such depths of my existence. Sometimes it means too much. 

**

For the entirety of the time that I have been extremely aware of my body composition, beginning around fifth-grade and being teased for the hair on my legs still. The first time you shave your legs as a woman is like a huge deal, or at least it was for me and for my mom; she was tearing up and I was terrifyingly excited to see the hair disappear. But the years to follow would have me looking in a mirror at my legs and deciding to wear a pair of jeans in the midst of summer instead. The year that I came to Utah and really started to hike my ass off, I found myself becoming more accepting of my body as well as understanding that I had not been taking care of it to the level at which it was actually demanding. I used to hold the back of my thighs and cry, trying to rip at them for their cellulite and hideous demeanor. A couple of years ago while hiking/playing in a northern Utah forest, I was impulsed to be absorbing the sunshine, the water, the dirt, and the breezes, totally naked. It felt so genuine. There was discomfort at first in feeling your body hang in the wild, my legs felt jiggly and my boobs looked so weird to me, but the more you wiggle around and dance on your toes, the lighter it feels, the more natural you realize it all to be. This time, while down in the desert, I returned to this existence and was introduced to new experiences in bravery. I bathed in the Green River while never being able to visibly see my own two feet and sinking inches into a mud/clay mixture below and I have never enjoyed my time more. The freezing water in my pits, losing my breathe as it touched my scalp, and discovering that I actually probably put more dirt into my hair than was in it before, I was so present, so alive. That feeling is wildly addicting. 

**

I went through a spell recently that had me convinced I could not find peace in being alone, that I had become too accustomed to sharing my presence with another soul that I felt robbed when without it. I had accepted it and tried very hard not to be too hard on myself for coming to this realization. Through time I have found that this was indeed only a brief encounter with a deeply rooted insecurity, as I spend my time now marveling in the freedoms of having to only check-in with my mother. My week in the desert fed my desire to be unattached and instead to be consumed by moments, not reaching for the future or dwelling on the past, but to be present for what was there before me. There is a greater love in being loved from afar, being loved hands-off. There is love in the breeze that carries your hand into another's, there is love in watching what you love, love. 

**

 

Dirty Hairstrands

Sitting in one of the busier cafes in Moab due to both it's popularity and overall awesomeness, I've managed to fill my belly, charge the camera battery, edit photos, and start the new hire process from the desert.

April 1st, Easter Sunday...April Fool's Day; the drive out from the campsite today was matched with the loudest volume of jazz music my car will emit without sounding cheap. Where to begin here....

Arriving in the desert feels like coming home a little bit every time; as I drove into town towards my turnoff for the planned hike, I was reminded of how nice it can be to lose cell service.  The windows can go down comfortably once you get off the highway, the warm and dirt filled breeze starts to fill the car, Zuke's head always makes its way out of the window once we hit 40 mph. We love it. 

Our first hike was a ton of fun; right off the bat we met a couple who was visiting from Wisconsin, got complimented on having a beer in my hand (twice), and had an in-depth conversation about Zuke's breeds. This specific hike offers an interesting route with a dog in tow and as I was lifting Zuke up onto some rocks, I heard my camera lens cap disconnect and start to bounce. Wide-eyed and gasping as I watched it finally come to a stop, I was able to retrieve it without Zuke following me back down (thank GOD). Zuke was almost more popular than the arch for some folks up there; there are definitely some tourists from Ohio that have posed photos with him. But here comes the best part: as we are turning around to hike down, the couple that we had met in the beginning, from Wisconsin, had stopped us. The mom went on to basically more or less set me up with her son, who is currently single and living in Colorado and definitely not present for this hike. It was the most hilarious yet genuinely cute thing that has ever happened to me as I couldn't help but joke with myself, "hell I won't meet someone in a bar...it's going to be me meeting his parents on a hike FIRST". Needless to say, I adopted two (more) parents over the weekend! 

We camped in a familiar spot and awaited the arrival of a long-term friend coming from Northern Utah. The beautiful thing about camping is that you pretty much always wake up with the sun...aka no time wasted. Rising early but enjoying our morning, we got back on the road headed for our next stop near Castle Valley. We hiked around Fisher Towers, mainly marveling at the climbers taking risks larger than life. Soaking in the sun, that was the main attraction. 

Our campsite that night was unplanned and a complete treat; we were nestled at the base of the mountains while overlooking one of the most graceful views I have seen in this area. The sunrise the next morning was unworthy of words, dripping in reds, so astoundingly alive. It was a little hard to leave that spot behind, I will admit. 

Stopping to catch up on life, at the same cafe as I am in now, we scoured the map and dug through Google Earth looking for our next place: we wanted water. Taking a risk due to never being down the road we decided to take, the ten miles of dirt that brought us to a jaw-dropping location. We could not have been blessed with a better spot to spend the next two nights and two days. Trees to hang the hammock and slack-line, we had access to the river and little company to share it with. Camping with dirt roads all around, we took to the bikes and wandered down to the boat ramp where we met a small group just completing their river trip. Drunk on life and beer, the conversation flowed like lava between us and them, chatting more with the 8 year old while their parents strapped down the gear to the car. It was in conversation with this 8 year old that I learned about his fascination with gun power and through a series of questions and inquires from myself, I came to learn something even more profound: he wanted to build them one day. He was more interested in designing them, than shooting them, however his father had taken the time to really pass down that knowledge of usage to his boy to a point that the 8 year old knew how to respect the matter. I laid my head to rest that night thinking about this boy and what he had expressed to me and why it had not bothered me. And then it came to me: this boy had other things to occupy his time with, he was spending time outdoors, he had a way to release energy. My point is that I believe that guns are not the problem, people not having proper outlets, not taking the time to recreate in some way, that is where the problems are being bred. But anyways.... 

On our second day there, waiting for the sun to reach it's hottest point, I took to the river and bathed for my first time in one. This was a huge experience for me; it took me about five minutes of poking around with a stick in the water (from the shore) to make sure there would be no unexpected drops once in the water and then I creeped into it in the most uncomfortable manner. After finding my footing and telling myself over and over again that it was OKAY (even though I couldn't see my feet at all), I bathed. It was magical, in the most relaxed sense, and it forced me to love what I was being offered. The water was ice cold and yet so refreshing. It made it hard to keep clothes on for the rest of our time there as the freedom had become almost addicting. 

This is a sorry excuse for a post, it's more of a scattered-brain recap to keep everyone in the loop of life without cell service. To add and to finish though, the dirty days continue as I plan my trip up North. Stay tuned....