hello, old friend. it’s nice to see you again.
I started writing publically almost exactly a year ago. the plan was to have a one stop shop for my adventure photography, cutesy DIY projects, and silly, relatively irrelevant rants. in the blogger world, it was to be categorized as a lifestyle blog. in the professional world, i thought i might be able to twist it into an online portfolio. in the social world, I hoped to make it a place all my own.
i’d toyed with the idea for a long time, but only started with the heavy twisting of my arm from a very dear old friend who experienced my writing through science class notes passed between desks and color coordinated snail mail letters shipped across state lines once we each moved to colleges far away. she always believed in me, and with the two (count them, two, no big deal) awards I won in my very small high school for excellence in English, I finally decided I was up for the challenge.
I quickly chose to also use the space as a platform for my fundraising when I decided to raise $8,500 for at-risk youth outdoor programs and a summit for Mt. Kilimanjaro (a once in a lifetime, absolutely crazy, what was I thinking, but why the hell not? decision). I figured I could write about my fundraising progress, brag about my AMAZING sponsors, post photos of my training climbs, and otherwise have a place to direct questions and inspiration.
in all truthfulness, I planned to write a lot about myself with little to no audience. I genuinely thought I would post pictures of my favorite national parks, write about climbing mountains and the whole thing would be very Zooey Deschanel-esque (New Girl‘s quirky polka dots meets the Almost Famous sister flight attendant’s sense for adventure). instead, i found something very different.
every time i sat to write, one theme always came out: finding happiness. in the beginning, i didn’t even know i had lost it (see also, Robin Williams in Hook).
had you asked me last year if i was happy, i would have instantly said yes. though i unexpectedly lost my dad in 2011 leaving me completely confused, clinically anxious, and heart broken, i would have admitted i’d come to terms with the situation, moved on, stepped up. i’d relocated back to Colorado in 2012 to be closer to family and closer to real mountains. i had finally moved into my own apartment discovering true independence (and the ideal setting for being pantless all. of. the. time). considering the circumstances, i thought i was close.
but with the help of this blog, I’ve spent the last year analyzing and defining what happiness really means for me. the reality is this time last year, i had no idea what the fuck i was doing (and that’s ok).
i see no reason to summarize where it all happened (on top of mountains mostly, sometimes with sunrises, once when my computer crashed and very rarely with any boys that mattered), because my journey has already been documented here. more importantly, it probably looks very different from yours. the most i can share is for me, once i started being grateful for the things i already had, i found that i had everything i needed. once i started choosing my perspective, i found that happiness was always a choice.
it sounds very silly, but it works. i chose to be nicer to people, not just to their faces but in my own head. i chose to be thankful every day for at least one thing, which very quickly led to many things. i chose to spend more time outside. i also chose to give up alcoholic shots whenever possible (not totally relevant, but good information for you to understand- if you buy me a shot at the bar, i’ll drink it out of politeness, but will probably hate you for it afterwards).
so for the last couple months, I’ve been quiet. though I’ve sat down to write multiple times, I’ve never made it all the way through a draft. I’ve wanted to talk about the recent Colorado floods and my first trip to Asia. I’ve wanted to rant about the government shutdown and why hiking boots are so much better than they were three years ago, but i haven’t.
the only reason i can attribute, is that after a year of talking and ranting and typing and thinking, i’m really, really, ridiculously happy. that’s not to say that i don’t get sad, or upset, or question everything I’ve ever chosen for myself, but at least for now, i’m there.
I’ve moved into a house with a red door alongside two of my favorite people on the planet. we dance to old records and do housework and are already planning our garden space for next season. we laugh more than anything else. I’ve found a job that not only pays me to travel to foreign countries and domestic states, but also values my opinions, promotes creativity, and encourages a healthy lifestyle. i work rewardingly hard more than anything else.
yesterday alone i was able to go on a run along the shore of an urban lake with nothing but changing leaves and snowy mountains in the background, meet my mother for a girl’s afternoon of (very successful) lake trout fishing, dance with my best friend at a concert played by my brother and many of our dear friends, and dare i admit it, share a meal with an incredibly tall boy who sent me a hand-written letter from the base of an aspen tree while he was away on a hunting trip.
plus, my football team is having an exceptionally good year.
i don’t want to disregard the reality that our world is a very dark place with many disappointments and the utmost heart break. i’m not immune or numb to it. but as an individual, each day is an opportunity for living and laughing and loving. it has to be, because we’re choosing it.
there are always lessons to be had, new challenges to face, and i fully expect to see them again soon. but for now, when you don’t hear from me, know that I’ve been out exploring, breathing deeply, being happy.
most of all, know that i wish you were here.