Monday, November 4, 2013

Here's to you Wrangell

My season as a wilderness therapy guide for Alaska Crossings has come to an end. It's crazy to think that a year ago I had a shattered arm and was physically and mentally recovering from a traumatic backpacking accident and now I've just finished up about 100 days canoeing and backpacking in the backcountry of SE Alaska with at risk teens. I feel as though I've overcome a lot just to be in the head space to do this job and I grew a lot as a person over the course of the season. I felt it was super important to reflect upon my time and what I gained from the experience, so I finished off the season with my end of season tradition of hiking up to a high point after sunset and writing out a list of all of the things I gained that I want to take with me, things that I want to get rid of, and what I want to gain out of the next stage of life. To top it off I burn my list of things I don't want to take with me and write out my favorite memories from the season to leave on a positive note. For the end of Alaska Crossings, I hiked up Dewey Mt (a short hike up to an overlook of Wrangell), toasted Wrangell and sat in silence looking at the cloudy sky and the city lights while reflecting on these past 8 months.

For the last few months my mind has been cloudy. I've been so concerned about the well being of kids that I haven't been able to take time to process my own thoughts. This job is intense. It can make you laugh, cry, proud and insecure all in the same instant. It's amazing, crazy, and sometimes a complete sufferfest, but most importantly super rewarding. It's hard to explain what guides go through or what this job really involves unless you've done it yourself. There were so many moments where I would hit a point of extreme exhaustion or frustration and wonder why I was out there, but then that moment would be followed by something ridiculous that I would make me laugh or have an "ah ha" moment and remind me why I do this job and why it's so great. Some snapshots of some of these moments were when the kids were argueing non stop and on the verge of punching each other in the face but it was over which super hero was better, or a kid in the bow of my boat wasn't paddling because he was too busy yelling about his irrational fear of spiders but as that's happening a humpback whale tale glided into the water 3 canoe lengths behind our boat, or when it was pissing rain and a kid woke me up at 2a to re-setup his tarp and I got back to my own tarp and the stake had come out of one of the sides and it way beating against my coguides face, but she was totally oblivious and sound asleep, or when the guide team would have a "paperwork party" the night before a resupply and stay up until 1a around a bonfire typing on computers and binging on as much sugar and caffine as possible to stay awake to catch up on paperwork, or when a kid wouldn't help load the boats no matter what I said to him, but once we got in the canoe he told me they felt like a pirate because he's on the ocean and all he needs is an eagle for his shoulder, or on my birthday when a kid who was always a struggle to get out of bed in the morning got up before everyone to make me a birthday cake or when I finally ran a group discussion with the younger boys who were never able to engage in discussions with the rest of the group, but I had a major breakthrough and the kids were super engaged and responsive to what I was saying, or the fact that I was in the woods for 48 days with 9 teenage boys and 2 male guides, but half of the boys let me paint their nails.

While I was up on Dewey and thinking about all of these memories plus so many others I realized that, yes, this job is crazy, but it's an awesome and totally unique experience. It is so hard, and sometimes not very fun, but it provides a lot of challenges to overcome, it is so rewarding to watch the growth of the kids and to build some pretty powerful relationships with kids who really need positive role models in their lives, and it allows you to really appreciate the small, yet super meaningful things in life. I learned so much this season and I still have so much to learn and I can continue gaining a lot of important skills by continuing to do this job which is important for me not to feel stagnent in my own life. 

In that instant of realization, it became clear to me that I had made the right choice in signing up to come back next year. I wrote down my lists and burned the things I didn't want any longer. When I finished, I looked up at the sky and there were millions of stars glimmering against a dark backdrop and not a single cloud in sight. Clarity. I stared in disbelief for a moment, smiled and then hiked down the mountain. See you next season Wrangell!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Coincidence is more than chance

Chance favors the prepared mind. If you define what you want in life, the chance of finding what you are looking for increases significantly. The key to finding and achieving what you want in life is to concretely define what you want and more importantly figure out the person you need to become to attract those things to occur in your life. All the resources we need are made available to us at the precise moment we know what we're looking for, it's just a matter of us seeing those resources and utilizing them to get what we want. If you are committed to the search, know what you deserve in life and don't settle for less than what you want, you will almost certainly manifest what you were looking for in some form or another.

Life is constantly testing for commitment to getting what you want. If you're not pushing yourself and not constantly demanding more of yourself, expanding and learning as you go, the resources made available to you to find what you want won't become clear and you will never fully achieve what we are looking for.

Most people never get there. They're afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves to become the person they need to be to manifest the things they want in their life. They do nothing or take the easy road. If you do nothing or give up the search, you will lose the fight and never find what you are looking for. Struggling and suffering are an essential part of a worth living and create a deeper meaning and gratitude for the things you want most in life. They create a more fulfilling life.

Manifesting what you want in life can be done. The coincidence of favorable events occurring in your life is more than just chance, it's a result of a constant commitment to defining what you want, being open to the endless possibilities of how to achieve what you want, your willingness to become the person that attracts those possibilities, and your determination to overcome challenges.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Flashes of Euphoria

There's a rare and intense feeling I get, usually when I'm out in nature, that's a sudden whirlwind of fire and water stirring in my soul. A burning passion and excitement for life and a flood of tranquility where everything feels like its going to be OK. When it happens, I know that I'm exactly where I need to be. It feels like the world has stopped turning just for that one moment in time and everything is clear. It is a moment of complete euphoria.

A moment of euphoria hit me the other morning when I was on a run before work. It was dark when I left the house. I ran the 3 mile loop once blindly and then on the second time around the loop the sun started to rise and expose the most spectacular view of my surroundings; a clear blue sky, a calm ocean and huge snow capped peaks in every direction. It was the first time since I've been on the island that it was clear enough to see all the beauty that was surrounding me. To top it off birds were singing and I saw multiple bald eagles. It couldn't have been a more perfect run.

It was in that moment that I knew that I am exactly where I'm suppose to be. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to be back in Alaska doing the job I'm doing with some truely amazing people. After a period of fighting internal battles, lonliness and trying to find meaning, I am so grateful to finally be here in this state of peace knowing that I am were I need to be at this stage in my life.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Believe in magic and you will see it

Ball lightning is an unexplained natual phenomina that is described as an act of magic. They are luminous orange and blue, grapefruit sized spheres of lightning that streak across the sky during a thunderstorm. They typically last up to 20 seconds and seem to appear out of nowhere and then vanish into thin air. Ball lightening is rare, unpredictable and infrequent. Few are lucky enough to experience it

I experienced ball lightning. I still find it difficult to believe that it actually happened. It was one of those moments in life that seemed too perfect to ever happen. A moment where I forgot if I was awake or asleep because life felt so much like a dream. No other point in time mattered because no other memory could live up to that moment and no future could possibly exceed it. I have to belive that even though I can't see it right now, it's still there and I will experience it again. Just because something is rare or feels like magic, doesn't mean it doesn't exist or can't occur. It just means you have to believe in it to see it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Accept No One's Definition of Your Life; Define Yourself."

I am me, I define myself, and I am the author of my story. My fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears and my emotions are valid and all created by me and define my character. My successes and failures are a result of my choices. My story is mine alone and I write where it goes.

Like most stories, mine contains challenges that have to be overcome and mysteries that I want to solve. Characters move in and out of my life. Some are a part of many chapters and others for a just a sentence or two. They play important roles in my story; some offering tools to help overcome the challenges or solve the mysteries and others creating the conflict or leading to more mysteries.

Then, there are the characters who try to take over the role of the author of my story. They want to create my character and have their own opinion of where my story should go. It can be challenging not to let those opinions dictate what I do, especially if the person is important to me because I don't want to disappoint them, but in the end, if I want to live a happy life, I have to write my own story. I have a better idea of what I want over anyone, no matter how well they know my character and if they really do care about me, they will accept my choices and let me write my story.

There are others who misinterpret my character. They don't understand my story or they are commited to putting a false label on my character. These interpretations have to be taken lightly because if I take them seriously, I start to believe them and my character begins to morph into something that I didn't create. Interpretations are not who I am, just what people believe me to be.

I am me. I define myself. People play an important role in my story, but they're opinions and interpretaions don't define who I am, how I'm suppose to feel or where my story goes. I am the author of my story.

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 Intention

Jack Kerouac said, "Be in love with your life. Every minute of it." After my fall in September, my arm, my heart, and my spirit were broken. There was very little that I loved about my life. Things changed so rapidly for me. My lifestyle took a complete 180 with no warning. The adventure, the movement, the change, the activity, and the people; all of the things that I loved about my life were stripped from me and replaced by pain of both my body and soul. I had to get creative on how to keep myself occupied and was forced to find a new path to take. It's taken me months to rebuild myself, but finally I have found my new path and light has returned to my soul.

I only get this life once and I want to love it. Since these last few months have been so lacking in love, I want to emphasize love in this next year. I want to love what I'm doing, love the people in my life, love my choices, and most importantly, love myself. By thinking, dreaming and living on that idea, I believe I will attract it and bring more love into my life. 2013 will be the year of love.