Monday, January 20, 2014


I have been in Tallahassee for just over a month now. I love it here! Initially not so much, but once I dug in it started to grow on me. Now I cannot wait to live here for a long time.

I do not have a job yet, yet, but am not overly anxious about that fact. I volunteer with:

Damayan Garden Project -

Ten Speed Greens -

Turkey Hill Farms -

With my bicycle, backpack, and a good book tucked away anything is possible!

Feeling very fortunate with all the blessings in my life and am ready for the road ahead. Thank you to everyone who has been there, provided for me, supported me (near and far) and gave me healing energy to get here.

Christmas day shoot with Marcy

Bike ride start at the St. Marks trail.

The St. Marks biking crew.

Beginning of the St. Marks biking day.

At the end of the day on the St. Marks trail.

Alex's birthday gluten-free donuts and compote. Mmmm!

Bruce visiting for NYE.

My green thumb :)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A New York Kind of Time

This week I am visiting New York city with a friend who I met during my travels in Spain. We both celebrate our birthdays this upcoming week and ironically have a lot to celebrate as separate people. Once deciding to embark on this trip I ran into the indisputable fact that I know a lot of people in the area. This week is now a week for me to see 7 people that I have met over the past 10 years and through varying times in my life. What a place to meet, at such an exciting time!

The bustle of New York shuffles me along, me following happily along. However I find my own corners to tuck myself away from the business and get the solitude and peace that I search for to reflect, absorb, and digest. If not New York would probably wash me along with it, ha.

Today I went to the Metropolitan Museum and was able to travel back centuries in time across the globe. The art inspired me and gave me a new prospective on New York. This really is a hub of culture, dating back hundreds of years. While taking in just 3 of the exhibits in the mountain of art I journaled this piece:

"The beauty of the paintings speak volumes of the detail of the artist's eye, the eye of the mind. To be able to rotate, scale, light or maximize a depiction of real life takes the viewer to a whole new world. An artist's mind is something to make one stop and consider how we each see life as it passes us by. We should see more beauty. More irony. More juxtapositions created by the placement of our life, and this the world.

Perhaps this is how we can save our planet: taking an artist's view of life and making it a reality of society's mindset. To hold the same awe inspiring beauty but within every waking moment, every footstep and every decision made.

Is not our lives but the illustration of our internal eyesight? Our emotions, our viewpoints, our inner voice coloring what we see. Is not what we see but a representation of ourselves?

Inspired by the beauty of a brushstroke to bring out the beauty within each soul radiating out into the view point of the world. Our world. Our brushstrokes of passion."

So as we all continue in our lives remember how your brushstrokes impact the bigger picture laid inside that glided frame, setting a canvas of the world...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sweat: My Gliding Compass

Sweat pours in rivers down my face, blinding my eyes from the image reflecting back to me through the candle-lit mirror. My fellow students surrounding me flow from one intricately designed pose to another, sinking deeper into their inner beauty with each new twist of the body. I chant my mantra inside my head, blinding the pain with the mission of that days output. With each move I grow, expand and fill the empty holes within and without of myself. Sweat is the truth. Sweat is what I now yearn to see gliding down my body. Sweat is my enlightenment shining forth from my body.

Once upon a time I hated to sweat. What young female doesn't hate to sweat profusely in public? The first fews days of hot yoga I was ashamed of my sweat, of the rivets of water rolling down my body, soaking my clothing. Now sweat is benevolent. Watching myself and my fellow students sweating in each pose is satisfying. There is glory in that sweat. I earned that sweat. We earned that sweat stain.

I have just begun this journey of learning the depth and vitality engrained in the practice of yoga. I struggle with each 90 minute class. My practice's intention always begins with, “I will make it through this class” then followed by 1-2 simple words that define my mantra for those 90 minutes of spiritual and physical blended healing. Sometimes it is as simple as, “love” or “release” or “flow”, other times it is to simply smile and enjoy the moments I am hating the most. But at the end of every class no matter if I have cried that day, smiled and laughed, or just barely made it through I know I will be coming back for more.

This onset of a path I have just only begun is strewn with rewards and beauty along the way. I am content to walk this path and patiently find where it will take me, with sweat as my gliding compass. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Top 10 Worst Experiences While Traveling

Top 10 Worst Experiences While Traveling

 It seems that some of the worst memories make the best stories to retell later, I wonder why? ;)

  1. Early one morning while camping along the river in Nicaragua I ironically find the only cloud of mosquitos while in search of a nice quiet poop spot away from camp. Running away I jump a fence to take that long-awaited poop, where I land in a pile of cow manure. I lost both chacos and my only set of clean clothes to the knee-deep pile of muck. Throwing my shoes over the fence I helplessly dig a hole behind the next available tree, the width of my wrist, and relieve my bowels. Looking up to finally enjoy my poop and the river view in front of me, an entire dug-out canoe of Nicaraguan men are watching me empty myself into my shallow hole. “Buenos dias” is all I can say.

    Courtesy of Natalie Gillis
  1. This story is also during the same time in Nicaragua as the story above. I was kayaking through Nicaragua on a tandem blow-up kayak with all of my gear, a partner who disliked paddling (especially upstream) and a week's worth of food, when we pulled over for the evening. We had been paddling hard all day and made good time to stop early. Getting out we set up camp quickly and began to prepare our dinner. In the middle of dinner the entire air filled with mosquitos. You could not escape them! With each breath I drew in at least 5-10 mosquitos, which came into my nose, mouth and lungs. No amount of deet or even netting itself was stopping these monsters! Abandoning dinner we all ran to our tents to escape the masses of mosquitos. Diving in with 20-35 of the beasts riding us in we zipped ourselves in. Where we then consisted to stay awake through the early evening into the night being eaten alive by the mosquitos that were inside our own tents. Did I mention the high humidity and high heat? Being eaten and sweating to death – there was no sleep that night.

    Courtesy of Natalie Gillis

  2. I was traveling through Spain on an overnight bus from Madrid to Granada. Lucky me I was only incredibly hung over. After traveling and sleeping very little on this bus, I arrived at my destination where I was meeting a friend on study from the states. I supposedly was suppose to stay with my friend's friend in said friend's apartment. It being 6AM in the morning and no one awake on a Saturday morning in the city, we stopped at a cafe and got churros con chocolate with espresso shots a piece. Waiting patiently for his friend to wake up we stayed at the cafe for an hour or so. We walked across the city, me carrying my weighed down 50 liter backpack, over what seemed like '5 miles' to arrive at said friend's apartment. Knocking for over 15 – 20 minutes the neighbors seemed to get annoyed. My friend and I found a park at the end of the street where I laid my pack down and promptly fell asleep leaning against my pack. In the process of sleeping for 20 minutes it started to rain, I did not even wake up. At the end of my nap we both agreed that sleeping in this park was not a good idea. Arriving at a hostel down the street, or several – who knows at this exhausted point? - He dropped me off at the threshold. Saved! Or so I thought. I walked into the hostel and then proceeded to have to wait 3 hours for check-in time. Those couches were tiny and very bony indeed.
From the rooftop of that hostel in Granada.
  1. Hiking down switchbacks at the end of the day, along the almost top of a ridge with two friends; the side of the trail disappeared. Along with the trail went the entire lower half of my body. I was holding onto the side of this switchback with one knee and a hand clutching a dried clump of grass. Strapped to my back was a 45 pound backpack filled with gear, water and food for two days. As the grass began to tear out of the dried dirt, I began to lose ground when my friend grabbed my backpack and pulled me up along side of him on the trail. Looking down I would have fallen 20 or so feet to the switchback below me: a fall I would not have liked to take.

    Courtesy of Jack Becker
    See that ridge in front of the mountain, yeah that's where I fell.

  2. I was solo backpacking on my spring break junior year of my undergraduate career. I had decided to take a 3 day trip along the Florida Scenic Trail. Not doing my research properly, I came at the time that it was boar hunting season. Also not being an experienced solo backpacker I packed a leaky drum of water for two days of hiking with no water source. At the trail head, where my friend was dropping me off, a hunter handed me an orange vest and said, “Good luck.” Taking this in stride I began my hike with high spirits. After hiking 5 miles in one day, I reached my campsite at dusk. Eating a cold dinner I began to set up my hammock for the night, my hunter green hammock. Looking at my pack I realized that my drum had proceed to leak all of it's water throughout my entire backpack. Not only was I out of water but all of my food was soaked as well. After feeling sorry for myself for a few hours, I crawled into my hammock with a headlamp and a good book. Never having tested my hammock out in temperatures below 80 degrees I froze in the 60 degree night. Laying awake frozen around 1AM, while reading my book, I heard coyotes circling my hammock. My food, which was hanging in the same tree as my hammock, was what they were after. Anxiously waiting 4 hours for them to leave, I fell into a doze at daybreak where I was violently woken by a gunshot 20 feet from my hammock. The hunters in the dim light could not make out my hammock in the foliage. They were shooting a boar across the clearing I was camping in! Need-less-to-say I hiked out that day with a water bottle of collected and treated water I had captured in the mid-morning rain fall.

    Not a picture from this trip but it has a tent in it!

  3. During my semester abroad in Costa Rica we spent two weeks learning to white water kayak. We were staying at a family's home, sleeping on our thermarests along their covered porch. Our first morning at the family's house we were given a dozen beautifully fresh eggs. We all made fried egg sandwiches and headed out to the river. Later that evening as we were all settling down for the night, all of us began to vomit and have excessive diarrhea. This lasted for the entire time of our stay. Being the type of outdoor people we thought we were, we all would go to the river and learn how to white water kayak and come home every night to lay in pain on our thermarests. Some of the memories that stick out the most during these hazy weeks were: Watching chickens eat our vomit alongside the porch we were sleeping on, running out of toilet paper at the house and the local store and having to rip pieces of paper out of magazines and later books to wipe ourselves with, and finally kayaking through a class III rapid for the first time ever and making it through soundlessly to then only lean over and profusely vomit. This memory was surreal even afterwards when we were telling other students  our stories. It became oddly real when after the course, receiving a facebook message from a fellow classmate who was quarantined for two weeks in a hospital in Canada, due to the rare parasite found in her intestines.

    Before the vomiting set in.

  4. I was leading a climbing trip incoordination with the climbing club during my time as a graduate assistant. Myself and a few friends had decided to camp that night and then climb the following day. After leading and top roping several routes, even some slab, all morning; I began to lead a 5.6 route. I was clipping onto the nut with my draw, a full bodies length above the nut, when I fell. I fell two whole nuts down. On the way down I hit an overhang (what a bitch to get over) and smashed down on my left ankle with all of my body weight. Swinging far out after hitting the overhang, I came barreling back in smacking myself face-first into the wall. I was blind, my glasses had flung off my face during the crash, in pain, and dazed. I was slowly lowered and assessed. Oh yeah, did I mention I hiked out of the gorge that day as well?

    One of the routes I climbed earlier that day.

  5. In my last two semesters in my undergrad I was the intern for the Outdoor Recreation program. I was co-leading a manatee snorkel trip in FL with my boss. We had everything good to go and rolled into our campsite the first night with just enough time to set up camp and make dinner before the sun set. Upon arriving at our campsite one of our students proclaims, “We are camping?!? I thought we were staying in a hotel!” This student had not brought any of the proper gear to camp. After unpacking the van, setting up camp, and beginning dinner I walk to my hammock to find my sleeping bag missing. After scoping the tents I find it, thinking someone had accidentally taken it for theirs. The student who had earlier proclaimed the distress at camping had forgotten her sleeping bag. My boss gave up her own sleeping bag and slept with 4 wetsuits surrounding her as blankets throughout both frigid nights.

    Sunset that night.

  6. Deciding to go on a bike-bar on a crawl through Portland was a great idea, at the start. We started mid afternoon, with the intent to have plenty of time to get sober and drive home afterwards. After biking through the business district of Portland and drinking large quantities of bourbon and beer, with little to no food in our systems, we begin to walk 5 miles to the only place we could not stop thinking about: Voodoo Donuts. We finally arrived, ordered donuts (after waiting in line for over 25 minutes), and sat down with 2 donuts a piece. Being incredibly intoxicated, we decided to fill our nalgenes with boxed wine instead of water. A women walks out of Voodoo with an entire bucket, BUCKET, of donuts. After applauding and excessively commenting about this bucket of donuts she decides to give us the whole bucket of donuts. We were in donut heaven! Acting like the donut gods we thought we were, we began to hand out donuts to anyone and everyone. The business man sitting at the table next to us, the cashier at Voodoo donuts, homeless walking by, and even the man with the bicycle cart. After giving out all of our donuts, and eating many ourselves, we proceeded to hop from bar to bar getting kicked out for being far too drunk. I am pretty sure we hit on a cook through an open window that night, gave our numbers out to a bouncer and was serenaded by the homeless we were giving donuts to. Giving up we walked back to our car, sobering up along the way, to find that one of the tires of the car had deflated. We rolled up to a gas station, filled the tire, and headed to the house we were couchsurfing at in Vancouver. Best memory of that night: my friend hanging herself out of the window of the car as my other friend holds the back of her jacket from the back seat, while speeding down the highway yelling, “I am going to see if the tire is still inflated.”

    A random parking attendant took this picture.

  7. Driving up the side of a mountain to a secluded lake in a borrowed car, filled to the brim with gear and people, I realize that the gas light has gone on. Making the announcement we then determine we can make it to the top of the mountain and then have our friends follow us down after spending some time at the lake. Making it to the top we parked and began the 2.5 mile hike up switchbacks to this "lake down the road".  After spending the entire afternoon hanging out by the beautiful lake, cliff jumping and playing guitar we hiked out. Our friends drove down before us and I put the car in neutral. Driving down this single track dirt road and cruising as fast as I could down the side of a mountain and straight into the gas station, the whole time on neutral. Whoo what a ride!

    See how full the car is???