Come join the party!
My dearest readers -
To all of you who have been on the adventure with me so far…. thank you.
I have found that I love writing, even if I haven’t been doing a whole lot of it lately. And this blog, and you all, have been fantastic. But, I decided it was time to upgrade. And, I hope you will join me on that journey as well.
I am moving the blog over to here. And, for some reason, I cannot figure out how to move my subscribers (because I actually don’t really understand all this interweb stuff). I invite you to go check it out, subscribe (if you choose, and I hope you do), and would love to hear your thoughts!
So, my dearest readers — please head on over to Adventuring on Planet Aurora. There’s still some work to be done there, but I am pretty excited to share it with you all.
xoxo – Aurora
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour the Eastside Access, which is a huge public works project, building tunnels 120 feet below the surface in order to move people in and out of Manhattan. It won’t actually be open until 2019. I was able to visit as part of my work, since one end of the tunnel is behind my organization’s building, thus as part of a courtesy of having to deal with blastings and the whole building shaking on occasion, we get a tour on occasion.
The tour itself wasn’t all that exciting – I mean, you’ve seen one tunnel, you’ve seen them all. Or something like that…
BUT – it was pretty amazing to see this huge tunnel UNDERNEATH THE STREETS OF NYC.
LIKE – MIDTOWN NYC. WHERE THERE ARE HUGE BUILDINGS!!!!!!!
The man kept saying that they tunnel celing was not holding up the buildings, that the street did that. But…. I’m no engineer, but doesn’t the street hold up the buildings, and the tunnel hold up the street, so therefore… ergo, the tunnel holds up the buildings? Am I right, or am I right?!
Well… apparently not, according to mr. fancy-pants tour guide.
Oh, and we got to wear safety glasses, safety vests and hard hats. Always a good time.
But, what I was most struck by is – how much must lie below the surface of this city that I have no idea is there. No idea what lies below the surface.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what lies below our surface. What is below what we see every day.
I spend a lot of time on the subway – Brooklyn to Long Island City, Brooklyn to Washington Heights, Brooklyn to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn to Lower East Side. And that’s just for work. Some people ride the subway in their own world, listening to their devices, plugged in-tuned out. But me? Oh, I’m that people-watcher. Listening to conversations (sometimes known as eaves-dropping). Spending lots of time listening, watching and seeing what is on the surface. But do I really know what is going on?
Like all good New Yorkers, I have a therapist. We spend lots of time figuring out what’s below my surface, things I haven’t wanted to look at. Ever. Gah, it’s that ugly, private stuff…. But there we are, exploring that. Turns out I am full of cracks and far from perfect (I know that, but I don’t want anyone else to know). There’s that whole – those-who-live-in-glass-houses-should-not-throw-rocks-bullcrap. Whatever…..
And for most of my life, I have looked at others and judged them at face value. Mostly this has happened with friends of mine who I think are pretty rad, and I think – wow, their lives must be pretty perfect. Look at them in their great job, their great relationship, their great family.
And then….when you’re wrong, you’re wrong.
I sat with a friend a few weeks ago who told me tales of her father being an alcoholic. Functional, but still…. And then another friend told me of her mother just not being part of her life from an early age. These are friends who I envy their lives – their relationships, their jobs, their happiness.
Turns out, none of us have a perfect life.
‘There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in’
So, I’m learning to go slowly. To try to figure out what’s below the surface in others, in me, before I judge.
Or maybe…. Just let go of judging all together and just let the cracks be – because they let the light in.
During my recent trekking adventure in Oregon that was nothing like I thought it was going to be, I realized that there are some important life lessons that I could take from the experience. Here are my 5 lessons from trekking:
1. Roll with it.
My Oregon trip was suppose to be a 4-night adventure in the Sisters area with beautiful fall weather – you know, crisp sunny days, blue skies, cool nights. Not rain, snow, or alternate plans because where we planned to go was getting dumped on. Not two in-town days because it would have been suffer-fest otherwise. But, so far, I do not control the weather. In fact, the more time passes in my life, the more I realize I simply have control over just about nothing. Not one thing.
Except myself. I have control of myself and how I respond to things when they change. So, in this moment, even though I had spent time (and money) envisioning what this vacation was going to be life, I had to accept that things were going to be different. They were not going to play out they way I wanted them to. They were going to play out just the way they were. with rain and snow and wind. In the past, I have had a tendency to be frustrated in these situations – unable to move past what I wanted and what I had hoped for. Which, surprisingly, did not change my situation and just made me, and anyone who was around me, miserable.
And so, the rain and snow came down in the mountains… I drank tasty Oregon IPAs and laughed with my friend while we sat around her fire and made plans for a different hike.
Sometimes it’s hard, we want things to work out one way so badly, which I am wildly guilty of. But, often enough, if I just roll with things, and let it all play out, everything is just fine. I guess this lesson could also be known as: trust.
2. It hurts now, but it’ll pass.
Our trek up into the mountains in the Diamond Peak wilderness started with a light drizzle, that turned into a heavier rain, transitioning into wet snow. And the higher we went, the more snow that was on the ground, until eventually we were walking through several inches of snow. By the time we reached the site where we planned to bed down for the night, our feet were soaking wet and the temperatures were dropping. We spent the afternoon and night in the tent, eating tasty warm food and burrowing deep into our bags. In the morning, our thermometer read 26 degrees. In the tent. Yep, it was a cold one.
Cold enough that our shoes froze. Solid. Putting those puppies on was not one of the more fun things I have done. The first hour was excruciatingly painful. Even though the sun came out and we had to walk uphill which warmed up my body, my feet were still damn cold and painful. I have over-exposed my feet to cold temps so many times that doing so now causes me to hobble in pain, which is where K found me at the top of the hill — hobbling, gasping in pain, on the verge of tears. She looked at me and calmly said – it’ll pass. It wasn’t magic, my feet didn’t stop hurting at that moment – but it was a good reminder that this was temporary. They have hurt before, but they would stop hurting eventually.
And…. the same with other times I have been in pain, emotional or physical. It passes. The heartbreak over that man? It passed. That shoulder surgery? It healed. Those things that feel so big, that hurt so much…. eventually that pain pass. Eventually that hurt heals.
3. The signs are everywhere, we just have to look for them.
Because the ground was covered in several inches of snow, it made it hard to navigate the trail. In the beginning, we made many wrong turns (or rather, missed the turns we should have taken). We followed routes that seemed right, but weren’t. We spent time searching for the trail. But, as time passed, we got better and better at it. Over time, we started to notice where the snow lay in the trough of the trail. We started to notice trees that had been cut to clear the trail. We started to see the signs that had been there all along, we just had to look for them.
And this, seems to me, to be not far off from the way things really are. That relationship that you keep going, in hopes that it will get better? The signs have been there all along that it wasn’t right. That job, that apartment, that friendship, that guy you’ve been on a few dates with? The signs are there, telling you if it is right or wrong, there to stay or time to move along. But, so often, we don’t want to see those signs when they don’t jive with what we want or hope for. So, instead of seeing the signs that are there, we keep moving in the direction we think is right, hoping for something that is different from the reality in front of us. If only we’d slow down, start looking and listening at what is actually in front of us, versus the story we have made up in our minds, it seems that a lot more would be clear.
4. When you think you’re lost, trust your gut.
K and I got to a section where we just couldn’t find the trail. We searched for at least an hour. We contemplated turning around (and we loathe to go back the way we have come). We circled around, following false starts and elk paths. We even got to the point where we thought that we would just go over land and bushwack our way back to the car. We consulted our map, took bearings on our compass and we searched. We saw a trail, but it appeared to just circle back to the trail we had been on. So, we searched some more. It was frustrating. It started to snow. We took a bearing, headed out, going NE planning to go until it was dark and we found a suitable place to bed down. As we climbed uphill, skirting around rocks, not knowing what was in front of us, I stopped us – feeling like we needed to go back to that trail. I just had a feeling….
And sure enough, we followed it, and as the sun started to go down, we came to where we had planned to camp all along.
If, in that moment, we had slowed down and trusted our gut and actually tried that trail, we would have avoided several hours of messing around. I didn’t know that was the right way, but I had a feeling that it was. Instead, I talked myself out of it. What would happen, when faced with a decision, if we always listened to our gut? If we took the time to slow down and actually listen to ourselves? Listened to what we were feeling to find out what was the right answer? I imagine our choices might be different. And even if the results weren’t actually different, would we feel different about them because we had made the choice ourselves? My guess is yes, yes it would feel different.
5. Laugh in the face of it all.
We got lost. It snowed. It was freezing. It wasn’t the trek we planned on doing. We spent more hours in our tent than we ever planned on (which is what happens when you get into your sleeping bag at 4:30 in the afternoon). But through it all, we laughed. We supported each other. We saw beauty in our surroundings and we celebrated our good fortune.
There is so much to celebrate in this world of ours, it just seems that we should make the time to laugh each and every day. In the face of all that seems unfair and unjust and wrong and painful, there is so much to laugh at and celebrate. Be thankful when you have a buddy with you to laugh at jokes that never get old. And when you’re alone? Laugh at the absurdity and make sure not to take yourself too seriously. ‘Cause there’s just too much joy with out there!
I guess when I think about these 5 lessons — they are really just come down to trust.
To be here now and trust that everything will fall into place. ‘Cause it does. It just does.
And in the mean time, drink a hoppy cascade-hopped ipa and laugh with an old friend!
I will never be a fashion icon. And if you scan through the pictures of my travels, you will see that I also have a pretty limited wardrobe. I wear the same things…. a lot. I mean, sure, I lived out of a backpack for a year.
But, it is also true that when I find something I like, I wear it a lot. Like – a lot a lot. And now you can read about one of those items here.
In the purple hoody…. in Peru.
though — perhaps it just means that I wear too much patagucci… :)
This weekend was one of those ones that make you glad you live in the Northeast… I love the fall! Instead of blabbering on about my weekend, I am going to tell the story with a photo-essay
- An amazing photo exhibit on the water front, all in shipping containers featuring photographers from all over. Some of the images brought tears to my eyes.
- A block party with the neighbors.
- Farmer’s market with apples, swiss chard, delicata squash and cider donuts.
- Some good walks in the sun, through the park, smiling at strangers – all of us rejoicing in the blue skies and beautiful weather.
- Papusas from the Red Hook El Salvadorian food truck.
It was a good weekend.
Have I mentioned how much fun this life is?
So, let’s get something clear – I am not spontaneous.
Nope. I’m a planner. A worrier. A perseverater. Yes, I do think about what I’ll eat for breakfast when I’m 60.
The good news is – I am really good at planning. Like really good.
But, I want to be spontaneous. It seems so fun. Make plans on the whim, not worry about the details. But often, it just stresses me out. (Gah, what if I miss out on something? Or make the wrong choice? What if I can’t fit it all in?)
Traveling was good for me – and I even got more spontaneous.
I was in Kochi, in Southern India and decided it was time to move on. I wasn’t sure where to go next, though. I had places I wanted to go to, but perhaps travel fatigue was setting in and I was just tired of making decisions. As I took the ferry across to the mainland and made my way to the bus station, I weighed the options, but nothing came clear. Finally, I decided I would leave it to fate – whatever bus came next would be the one I would take. I shared a tuk-tuk with a couple, the woman and I crammed in the back with 3 packs, the man up front with the driver. She and I chatted as we careened around corners, threatening to topple with the weight of us all stuffed in. They laughed at my ‘care-free’ nature. I laughed, inwardly, at their assessment of me. We parted ways at the bus station as I jumped on the bus that was boarding at that moment, headed South. They were headed north.
I had more spontaneous adventures along the way – meeting people, following my heart, seeing the world. Learning to say yes to the unexpected.
But, back here. It’s harder. I have a job (where I plan a lot). I fall into my old trappings.
Last week was a long week. I was working at home every day, which sounds fun when you go to work every day. But invariably, it means everything takes me longer, it is very solitary and then I end up over-talking with my friends when I hang out with them because I haven’t spoken to someone all day!
So…. I decided I needed to get out of the city. Go for an adventure.
But, you know, in the good ol’ U.S. of A. it sure is hard to be spontaneous. You can’t just jump on the next combi headed out of town or way town a bus just anywhere. We have rules and tickets and no refunds. And while rules sometimes help (I can cross the street without fear of being run over) and knowing the schedule for buses is helpful (nothing worse than hearing, no, madame, that bus left. I don’t know when there will be another. maybe tomorrow), sometimes you just want to be spontaneous!
Lucky for me, I have a huge wonderful group of friends. Unlucky for me, most of them are spread out all over.
So, spur of the moment, for me, I decided to head to Boston to try to get to see at least one of them.
Boston beer-a-thon. More hours on a bus than in Boston. A coupla hours with one of my dearest friends in the world. Letting go of results and trusting that it all works out the way it’s suppose to.
So – here’s to being spontaneous, letting go and being here. now. ’cause look — you too could have a big-ass smile like this!
What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?