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It takes no effort to appreciate life. Even when you feel like nothing is in your favor, opportunities arise in weird places….

A woman named Olga is teaching me Russian right now she’s from Kazakstan… Yes like in Borat, the joy I get from learning her language is incredible. I am learning to accept my circumstances and take advantage of the opportunities even in the small places…so am learning Russian. Olga leaves tonight but the last two weeks have been filled with Russian key words, numbers, the alphabet, and some common curse words:) the last two weeks I have been listening to her talk about growing up in Russia and living the good life until the 90’s came around an the Soviet Union took over and communism set in. Literally over night she watched every grocery store get cleaned out completely….nothing….from grocery stores to waiting in line for 3 hours a day for a little piece of meat. She had a toddler and a baby in her belly at the time…she’d wait all day and sometimes by the time she got to the front of the line, all the meat would be gone. She watched her dad’s huge savings account get taken away to the equivalent of a days lunch money…she had winters where she’d have to put vegetables in big bins of rice in the basement so it wouldn’t freeze. She told me in Kazakstan there is no such thing as diapers or toilet paper so when she raised her children…every pair of pants had to be individually hand-washed and they used the newspaper as toilet paper. The stories are crazy and so she shares, I listen, and remember how fortunate we are as Americans to use the restroom in clean water and wipe our asses with toilet paper throughout the days….

Life is so beautiful when you can see the different perspectives all around us. The most important thing to realize is that whatever we may be going through, it’s never really that difficult and eventually everything moves on and gets replaced with new situations and opportunities. When I’m at a low point, I cease what can be done like learn a new language and meet new people and listen to their stories, get outside of myself….

Apart from all this I have been making sure to strive for new goals:

I am signed up for a glacier climbing course that starts next month, I’m going to Hawaii with my family in January, the big Island specifically… I have never seen lava before so I’m really excited about it and excited to be with my family again. I bought tickets to see Cheryl Strayed (the author of Wild and solo-PCT female hiker) speak here in seattle and I’m also going to a yoga training this June.

Only 15 more days…I can’t believe it!

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It’s silent this morning. My favorite time of the day here. Girls can be loud, they talk about themselves a lot, and in here, you can see people portraying their lives with false happiness and drama. I like to stay quiet and observe. I never really talk about myself or my outside life because I know it’s not what they want to hear and they don’t really care. In jail, a girl who changes her whole life and is living well isn’t very appealing…dramatic stories are appealing, something they can relate to.
They call me “princess” on the inside…it’s more an insult then a compliment as you would expect. No one wants to ever be called a princess after the age of 12 unless maybe Prince William is your husband.

Morning is kind to me. Morning is a time where they like to sleep in till 12pm if they can make it to then so half the day is gone. If I ever sleep in till then, my bones start to snap and crackle and my body gets really weak—feels dehydrated.

Morning is a time where I sneak in a little yoga and exercise, the only time when I am not stopped with the questions about what body parts I’m working and then proceeding to telling me a story about how they used to be skinny and pretty too.

I’m not used to my body being this soft. I’m not used to feeling skin and bones where I used to only feel muscle. I’m not used to my brain tricking me into thinking I’m fat because most my muscles have subsided to cushion. I have to remember that I am beautiful just as I am and that all of this is temporary. I wish all these girls would feel the same but here in jail, there are no scales, no full body mirrors, just your crazy little brain and these baggy clothes. Every meal is a different form of carbohydrates and it’s hard to keep healthy when every meal is bread, mashed potatoes, spaghetti noodles, cake and canned peas. But when I read about third world countries and when I think about the alternative to sobriety….it really could be worse and I need to just be grateful.

Spending 90 days in here is like being in a social experiment…we are given this food and everyone trades it around, fights over the sugar items and asks you if you’re going to eat certain items before you’ve even decided for yourself. Then the rest of it-they hide under their beds.
You can really see the raw human behavior come out of people in a place like this. Girls come in, girls go— some come in as victims which is like putting a target on you saying “please, bully me”. Then there are some in here for their 5th, 6th, 7th times and I know it won’t be their last…they know the ropes around here and all the guards names, and aren’t phased by a thing. Some are here for just a few days and others, for a few months. Many come in kicking heroin so you have to listen them scream and cry and sweat and curse God but people like them because they usually don’t eat at all so people steal their food. I didn’t realize there were also so many adult bullies. I’ve never been one to get bullied nor have I been one to do that to others but in here I see it all.

I hope someday the light switch goes off for some in here….I hate hearing that they have huge families only to have broken relationships and their relatives take custody over their kids while the women continue this lifestyle.

All of this reminds me that all of this–allllll of it—is a learning experience. I am sober today, I have the best family, friends and work-family in the world and without all this support, I may be still challenging life and choosing an unhealthy existence. In the morning I am reminded that it’s a new day and I have the choice to be a victim or a positive force of light to inspire others.

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The best way to be happy is to be grateful. It’s a festive week around here and people are happily preparing themselves for a massive feast, happy times(or anxious/dreadful) times with their families with sweets and drinks flowing… Whatever the case, we are thankful. The best thing to do is really sit and think about how lucky you are. What can you appreciate right now? Make a list.

I am thankful for the most supportive family in the world.
I am thankful for the ability to have fresh, nutritious food at my fingertips.
I am thankful to live in a place surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges.
I am thankful for a healthy, strong body.
I am thankful for yoga and it’s ability to cure anything that I may face in life.
I am thankful for amazing running shoes and hundreds of trails.
I am thankful for being highly adaptable. Whatever I face, good or bad, always becomes manageable and I usually can see the positive side of every situation.
I am thankful for my faithful car that has really shown me my freedom on a geographic scale.
I am thankful to have women in my life that empower me to be my best self and are always by my side.
I am thankful for my sobriety.
I am thankful for change…and that through everything, I am who I am and have had so many experiences that have shaped me and my surroundings to what it is today.

Remember to be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I can’t wait to be free…thank you for all the continuing support that helps me stay positive through the holidays.
38 more days till true freedom but I am still grateful for everything I have today.

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When I am surrounded by negativity, I remember how important it is to be a positive shining light through it all.

I am constantly listening to stories from young girls in and out of unfortunate situations who know nothing else other than hustling and stealing and drug use and even prostitution. It’s sad. I ask them if they ever want to change and they tell me that they don’t know how to change. They have had this way of life for so long. They are surrounded by people just like them, their family is all the same and their demographic is just like this. They would physically need to move away and start from scratch. But what happens when you move away? How do you start over when you know no other way? You may just have the same bad habits in a new location where you don’t know anyone. The same scheme repeats itself again and again….

I can’t believe that at one point, this was my life…not the full extent: I never stole or was a prostitute or anything like that but I was a slave to a self-destructive life style in one way or another. At one point I did not see any reason to change because I was walking this life with my eyes closed.

These girls ask me why I don’t have a husband or babies….and I ask them why they have numerous baby-daddies or why they teach their kids to steal? They ask me why I am so good and don’t do drugs or drink? I ask them why can’t they live their life without it? They ask me why I pay for things when it’s easier to steal? I ask them why they preach their bibles to me when they can’t even follow commandment #8.

We have many conversations and I wish I could show them what it’s like to walk through the mountains, to wake up to a sunrise right outside of your tent. To see the clouds move beneath your feet as you stand over blanket of fog. I wish I could tell them that the more you embrace the things you love, the more you don’t need the drugs, the alcohol, or that abusive relationship. I’ve been asking these girls to make a list of places they want to go, things they love to do, hobbies that bring them life. Surprisingly, they have quite the long list. I try to tell them that it is possible to have a life outside of the unhealthy cage that they have created. I try to tell them that if they spend each day, each week, each month doing at least one of those things on that list, their life will change dramatically.

The more you do what you love, the more you begin to love your life. It’s not about making a lot of money or finding that perfect mate, or having that perfect body…it’s about finding pure joy in doing whatever you do.

Someday I would like to create some sort of support group that brings troubled souls together for outdoor hikes. So many of these girls have never stepped foot on a mountain and I feel that everyone needs this in their life someday…and hopefully it’ll spring new possibility. This life is too beautiful to play small.

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I don’t know where and when I stopped holding on to people. I sweep things under the rug. I pretend I’m so happy on my own. I smile so big but find myself running in circles to keep my lonely heart busy with activities to do. Yoga, hiking, running, repeat. When you’re constantly running in circles you barely have time to feel lonely. It’s amazing filling my day doing everything that makes me happy. Right now I can’t do those things. As I have said, I am in a transition.
Lone wolf.
Solitude.
Embrace independence.
You can do everything on your own.

I’m talking about it now. I’m telling you what happens when you aren’t able to do everything that you love 7 days a week. You get to wake up, but you have all these thoughts running through your head. Constantly.

You feel.
Feel.
Feel.
Feel.
Nothing to run from, nothing to distract the underlaying feelings of loneliness, regret, and unsaid feelings. It’s all fucking right there, staring at you in the face like you’re naked for the world to see.

Every single day I realize how important it is to eat fruits and vegetables because when you don’t eat properly, it alters your mood and makes you an unhealthy crazy mean person.
I realize how much I hate feeling or having an outlet to channel the very things that get released when I’m doing what I love.
I realize how much I miss being in love with someone and having the same in return. I don’t remember the last time I’ve ever really truly been in love. Sometimes I feel incapable of normal emotions. Sometimes I’m scared that I am not able to make a family because all this time has gone by and I’m still single, never been pregnant and don’t understand the concept of love.

These are the raw things going through my head the last few days. I miss the mountains. I miss how much they lift my heart and make me smile. Today I have to learn to embrace these raw feelings so that I can understand them and move forward.

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Lace up your shoes and step outside. The Pacific Northwest air is crisp and cool…much different than the Indian summer we’ve been having. Life is bustling and the cars and people create a life of energy along these city streets yet my mind feels quiet. Like stepping into a slow motion dream my mind feels serene….

Everyone who’s runs is a runner yet we may have different reasons why we do it. We run to clear our mind, we run to lose weight, and we run because sometimes it’s all we have left.

The ability to use our two legs, step one in front of the other and spend every day celebrating our freedom. I have been one to try and lose weight by doing it but now it’s much different. It’s not about how fast I go or how long I run…it’s the feeling of pure freedom. The ability to do something that we take for granted.

In the wild, animals run for their lives…they run to kill their future meal, they run to escape the animal trying to eat them. They run because they can. They run because it’s rooted in their chemistry to run.

We have become lazy. We drive instead of walk for most situations, and we take our legs for granted. We no longer need to run away from predators but we runners understand something all the same….we have life. Life has become a series of predators….from money problems to bad relationships to legal battles to a failed life….it makes our heart race.

Anything you may be facing whether it be the demons in your head or the problems you may face, running helps lessen the pain.

Run till you can’t feel.
Run till you realize that there is no pain in running but simply release.

That is where I stand. Rain or shine, whatever life throws at me I can lessen with the trail or pavement beneath my feet.
Get out there…celebrate freedom.

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It’s October now. The seasons are changing, the leaves go from green to red to orange to yellow and within this short season, everything dies and regenerates and prepares for new life. This circle of life starts to transition this month into new form. It’s a beautiful feeling. It’s much like human life if we let it. We circulate new experiences, friendships, troubles and joys and things shift.

Just that. They shift. What you do to handle this shift is up to you. The trees never cry when their leaves change and eventually die. This is part of the tree’s process. The decaying leaves become life for new growth and eventually that tree has new leaves and new life. No big fuss over the past.

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My life is like this today. I embrace the change…not always with open arms, not always with a big smile on my face, but a smile in my heart.
When I stopped trying to control the evolution of life and the feelings and experiences that come with it, I can truly flourish in God’s process. I can only do what the day delivers me. I can choose to be happy or sad but in the end, whatever is supposed to happen, will.

Remember today that this month is a good opportunity to flourish. See what’s happening around you and within you and be conscious of how you feel. Change happens and it always will evolve and change form, but remember that you are a small piece of life, nothing really hurts that much, and nothing lasts forever. Enjoy today, October is here.

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