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Join me!

15 Jan

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.

Join me!

Join me!

xoxo – Aurora

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What lies below the surface

24 Dec

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…

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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?!

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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.

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 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.

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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.

Huh.

‘There’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in’

-Leonard Cohen

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.

Lessons from Trekking

14 Oct

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.

Taking a walk in Bend - where, pleasantly enough, it was sunny!

Taking a walk in Bend – where, pleasantly enough, it was sunny!

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.

First night of camping, snow, fog, rain, cold temps

First night of camping, snow, fog, rain, cold temps

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.

Diamond Peak

Diamond Peak

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.

Sun shining through the moss, pines and snow.

Sun shining through the moss, pines and snow.

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.

thanks buddy!

thanks buddy!

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!

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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!

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It’s the little things

11 Sep

Today was the first day of pick-up for my fall farm share.

When I walked up, the students told me about Delicata winter squash and swiss chard and about all the hot peppers that I could taste, right then and there.  If I dared.

Giving me the lowdown

Giving me the lowdown

After I got my bag of goodies, I watched the action.  Families and teachers coming up to get their goods.  Students talking about the produce.

'this here is swiss chard'

‘this here is swiss chard’

The farmer, a dear friend from college, connected with one of my schools.  A win-win situation – she sets up a CSA, students and families get access to great food.  I was just the middle-person.

A lucky middle-person at that

A lucky middle-person at that

As I laughed with teachers, students, my friend – a warm sense of contentment washed over me.  This is what it is all about.  

This life, this journey of ours, is all about those small moments of sharing a laugh, gasping over a hot pepper, making connections with people through a smile, a shared moment.  It is those moments that make it all worth while.

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What have been your little things lately?  Your moments?

Here is my ‘Dear Life’

28 Aug

This is a reprint from my friend Kim’s blog.  

Tuesday, 7:30 pm

Dear Life –

I’ve been hesitant to write you because I wasn’t sure how I felt about you.  I knew believed you were giving me “gifts” – but they sure didn’t feel like gifts – all that struggle and messiness?!  Come on now – what kind of gifts are those?!

But now… now I think I’m getting it.  And I think that I’m ready to say thank you.

Thank you for travel – a solo journey that I thought would be the answer – but instead was only the opening of the door.  And that door being my heart, naturally.  And the opening of that door just prepared me to do the really hard work of this past year – which meant more opening and naming all that I want and all that I am worth.

And thank you for courage.  The courage to be vulnerable.  The courage to believe I’m worthy of everything I want.  The courage to push open the door to my heart even further.  And what hard work it is – so thank you again for the courage to take it on.

Finding the beauty in each day

Finding the beauty in each day

But life, I know that you are pragmatic (since you’re my life – of course you’re pragmatic!) – so thank you for deep lungs and big strong muscular thighs.  So, I can’t find pants to fit right (it’s way more fun to wear cute dresses anyway), but I can climb mountains and pedal my bike for hours and be active and outside, which feeds my soul and heart in countless ways.

And thank you for watermelon and hoppy ipas.  And bachata and cumbia.  And friends new and old to keep me laughing and celebrating and exploring and pushing myself.

And thank you life – for filling me with more dreams than I will ever accomplish in this life time and filling me with the dissonance of loving my work and loving this world – what a great dilemma to have!

And just…. Thank you.  With all my heart.

thank you life

27 Aug

Fellow blogger, hiker, lover-of-mountains-and-wild-places, portland-er, and fabulous writer Kim has had a weekly post focused on thanking life for all of it’s greatness.

you can read my response to her here – and while you’re there, you should read her stuff anyway, because she’s really great.

and besides she and I having a mutual Portland friend and besides us being meant to be friends – her husband is a Sasquatch believer aficionado.  Which makes both of them even cooler too.

So – thank you Kim.  And of course….  thank you life (but you’ll have to check out her blog to see my post!).

Solo travel in India

27 Aug

I spent two months traveling alone in India.  This fact is not groundbreaking.  No one is writing a book about me.  I am not the first to have done this, and nor will I be the last.

But lately, I have been thinking of it a lot due to all the news coming out of India of sexual harassment (here is a good synopsis of some of the reports).  But, like a lot of women, my experience in India was overwhelmingly positive.

I traveled by train and bus.  I was scammed at times, stared at constantly, followed a few times.  I put myself in places where things could go wrong.  But they didn’t.

the masses

the masses

Now — let me be clear — I am not very tall (at 5’6″ certainly not all that much taller than Indian men and women) and at the time, my skin was pretty brown and with my dark eyes and hair, I certainly did not stick out.  No one ever guessed that I was from the US.  I was even told that I could pass as Indian by more than one Indian.

And my skin color and hair color and the fact that I did not go out at night and did not wear revealing clothes probably helped.  But it also probably helped that I smiled.  A lot.  That I made eye contact and tried to connect with people.  I had a belief that if you see me, if you see me as a person, you will not hurt me.

I live in NYC now.  I hear on the news stories of women being followed off the train and getting raped.  I hear stories on the news of people being shot in neighborhoods not far from mine.  I am more afraid here than I ever was in India.  In India, I never worried that someone was carrying a gun.  In India, I was never looked up and down in quite the same way as I am here.

This is not an India problem.  This is a problem of how women are viewed and treated – everywhere.