Above Your Nerve

Emerald Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

I recently blogged about the movie “Wild” featuring Reese Witherspoon, based on the memoir of Cheryl Strayed’s journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  There are some great quotes in there.  Today I’d like to highlight one from an Emily Dickinson poem.

“If your Nerve, deny you
Go above your Nerve”

Talk about nerves.  My husband and I decided to hike the Rockies just after Memorial Weekend, May 31.  We thought we’d see 3 or 4 pretty lakes, each about a half mile apart, and be done in about an hour or 2.  Little did we know the park just opened the path after the holiday because of snowfall.  Thankfully we had recently purchased our first pair of hiking boots, and they were waterproof.  We must have changed our clothes every 20 minutes.  From tank top to long sleeve to breathable jacket to rain jacket to light down jacket and sometimes back off again at intervals.  It was actually pretty warm until the wind came.  Until the rain came.  Until the sleet and hailstorm that rangers never warned us about.  Luckily we found shelter under a rock slab…sort of.  But that was at the top.  First we had to get there.  And that involved climbing snow and ice-covered paths steadily inclining.  We had no idea each lake required a hike in elevation.  But we followed the others, hoping they knew what they were doing…where they were going–some of them slipping around in street shoes and wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and jeans.  I secretly wanted to quit a few times all while having the time of my life.  I love to hike, but my nerves get me every time, especially with looming heights, steep cliffs, and now icy paths.  My mind is always thinking about what might go wrong.  I used to hush that inner voice, try to turn it off, even curse at it.  But that never worked.  The best thing to do is let it talk.  Acknowledge it like an old friend.  Let it chatter on in the background.  But meanwhile get to work.  Get moving.  Start climbing.  And when it gets to that point where you think you want to stop and turn back, that’s when you must go above the nerve.

Good luck to you on all your journeys.  Safe travels and take care.  But don’t let a little thing like fear stop you.  It’s only the background music for your adventure.  And when you make it back, that same voice will say, “I knew you could.”

 

 

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The View

Greetings and sorry for the lapse in blogging!  I’ve been traveling most of the summer.  But now I’m back, at least for now, and ready to share my adventures with you!

On our trip to the Southwest, my husband and I visited a place called Monument Valley situated on the border of Arizona and Utah where we stayed at a hotel with a view of some of the most spectacular naturally made monuments I’ve ever seen.

Though not ruins, the monuments feel like remnants of an ancient civilization, and in some ways they are.  Monument Valley is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park.  This location has also been used for a number of Western films.

Take a look at the four monuments I’ve posted below.  The first one is sometimes called a mitten, which reminded me of home–since the state of Michigan is shaped like a mitten.  Take a look at the others.  What do you notice about each of them?  Which is your favorite?  Scroll down to find out the one I like best.

Monument #1

Monument #2

Monument #3

Monument #4

So my favorite is definitely the mitten!  But now I must make a confession.  All four photographs are of the same monument.  They’re simply taken at different viewpoints while on a hike.  The first is of the front, then the right side, the back, and finally the left side.

This walk was probably one of my favorite hikes.  One of the things it reminded me is that any given thing can be viewed from multiple vantage points, none of which are necessarily superior to the other.  Each view offers a different interpretation of the subject.

As an illustrator, it’s important to find just the right perspective for each illustration in your story.  Will it be a close-up to create more emotional intensity?  Will it be a bird’s-eye or worm’s-eye view?  Will it be a sweeping panorama for depth?  Or angled in some way to add tension and drama?

As a writer, it’s important to figure out what point of view you will use to tell your story.  First person brings your reader closer to the story but limits the reader to only one character’s perspective.  Third creates distance but often stays close to one character in particular.  Omniscient allows for dipping into the thoughts of multiple characters but may make it harder for readers to connect to the story.

In life, it’s important to see situations from different perspectives.  This creates empathy and understanding.  If you’re feeling bored with your own life, trapped by the monotony of your daily routine, try stepping out of your comfort zone and view your life from a different angle.  You might discover new meaning and even excitement!  And maybe just maybe a new adventure could be waiting just around the corner.

 

Small Miracles

Howdy Partner!

Greetings all 🙂  I’m back from a recent trip to the Southwest.  And boy was it action packed!  Look for upcoming posts on just how much fun I had out there.  But for now, I want to focus on something small.

Small miracles.  What are they and why do they exist?  I don’t have any scientific explanation, but I do believe that small miracles happen on the daily.  They seem to occur while we’re waiting for the big miracles–the answers to our prayers, the dreams we hope to achieve, the success we want to have.

Big miracles are fine.  You can build a life around them.  But I believe it’s the small miracles that get us through the day, lift us up when we are down, and spark something inside us that is truly divine.

I experienced a number of small miracles on my trip.  Here are just a few that I’d like to share.

  • We received an upgrade on our flight and were able to watch movies and enjoy extra snacks on the way out west.  I sometimes get nervous on flights, so this was a great bonus!
  • In Scottsdale, my husband and I visited the shop of a local artist.  We connected with the owners, exchanged business cards, and I even received a free calendar of artwork because they found out it was almost my birthday 🙂
  • While looking for non-dairy ice cream, I found a shop serving my other favorite cold dessert–bubble tea smoothies!
  • When walking with a friend, a guy in a cowboy hat saw us posing for a photo and said– “You all need this for your picture!”  Then he placed his cowboy hat on my head.  That was great for a laugh and such a random feel-good moment 🙂  It can be fun to interact with strangers on a trip.  See the photo above.
  • Hiking in the Rockies, we met someone from my hometown–Toledo, OH.  We also met a father-daughter duo at our final destination who took our only great photo of the two of us at this spot.  They even told us about a unique local place to hang out and get a drink in Boulder.
  • We were unable to make our final dinner reservation, but the next day we ended up there for lunch.  No brunch, but they just happened to have a soft-shell crab sandwich–my favorite!  Thank goodness for small miracles 🙂

While you’re waiting for big miracles, what are the small miracles that make your day special?  Please share!

My Life Measured in Rainbows

Unexpected Rainbow

I recently visited Columbus, OH–a spontaneous trip before my husband begins spring semester of grad school.  We went to Hocking Hills State Park for some hiking.  The visitor center said it was a good time to see waterfalls because of all the melting snow and rain.

That morning as we were driving, I looked at the stormy sky and the raindrops on the windshield.  Rain on hiking day?  These days, I try to look for the positive.  As sunshine peeked out from the clouds, I had a sudden thought.  Maybe we’ll see a rainbow 🙂

We didn’t see a rainbow, but we began our hike anyway.  And we did see lots of waterfalls.  Plus, the rain stopped.  Then we came to one particular waterfall.  It was small and understated.  BUT, shining through it was the most vibrant rainbow.  And then and there I realized something.  Miracles can happen at any given moment, if you’re open to receiving them.

I’ve been cataloging rainbows throughout my travel adventures and quickly realized that I’m noticing them more and more.  I saw one at Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park right after my husband proposed.  We saw many during our honeymoon in Hawaii, but one particular rainbow was not in the sky at all but rather reflected in the sea on the Road to Hana.  I saw another one after my running accident, just when I began to run again.  Then, during my artist retreat, as I wondered whether to pursue creative writing and illustrating as a career, I saw my answer in the sky just before sunset.  A tiny rainbow between the clouds.

A rainbow represents a journey.  Will there be gold at the end?  I’d like to think there is gold all along the way.

Where do you find rainbows in your life?

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”  –Maya Angelou