Adventure pic (100x75)

Adventure

Adventure pic (600x450)

Suspense. Fear. The unknown. In a story, we love these things. Watching the hero find his way, and struggle to overcome or survive is cathartic . . . our nerve endings are electrified; we live vicariously through the hero sometimes inspired, sometimes just entertained, and in some cases we want to relive his/her story again and again.

Since the beginning of the world, man has been telling stories: The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Ramayana, Shakespeare, King Arthur, Harry Potter, and one of my personal favorites, Lord of the Rings. Those characters, to us have become living, breathing entities. Perhaps in some way we want to be them or be like them; we want to go on our own odyssey, our own adventure and feel our blood pumping through our veins, fully alive and legend. We want to be brave against all odds.

Some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories are of going camping in the mountains in Colorado. As I rode in the truck to our favorite camping spot, my eyes would drink in the scenery of mountain peaks, and aspen groves whizzing past my window. My mind’s eye would wander through the forested valleys and up to the very top of the peaks imagining what lay beyond the sight of my physical eyes. Something inside of me wanted to break free of the car and of my human shell and wander the wilderness, exploring until I reached the end, whatever that was. I would pack my own mini child-size fanny pack with binoculars, a whistle, and a small knife and beg to go exploring and hate when our family hikes “exploring” came to an end. I never wanted to stop. I wanted to know what was just a little farther, through those trees and up that hill. I wanted to climb on all the rocks, balance on all the fallen trees, and peer inside cliff-side caves. I hated being limited, when what seemed like an infinite heart-aching awe-inspiring mystery awaited.

This child-like wanderlust forever lives in my bones and my heart aches to satisfy it. The mountains and nature still and probably will till my days end be a sanctuary that binds up my wounds and yet leaves me feeling benevolently haunted.

The mountains also frightened me.  

Late at night while sitting around the campfire, licking roasted sticky marshmallow from my fingers, my grandpa, dad, and uncle would recount funny hunting stories, camping incidents, and as the night wore on and the camp fire burned down to the glowing coals, they would tell stories about the unbending will of nature: bear maulings, lost souls who never came home, ghost stories and mountain town legends. I would sit on the edge of my seat, gripping the smooth edges of my whittled walking stick, terrified and fascinated.

And when it came time to go to bed, and I turned away from the fire to look the dark blackened forest in the eye, I was afraid, and I was afraid of everything. I would grip my flashlight and power walk to the camper or ask to be escorted to the camper door. One of my most vivid nightmares that I still remember was of my getting lost in the vastness of the wilderness, the cold bone-chilling wind screaming past me, and lastly, my parents and family walking on a green manicured lawn to attend my funeral.

The thing that I wanted to “get lost in,” was also the very thing I was afraid of getting lost in.

And like the forest, I am both enthralled with the beauty of life’s adventure and frightened by it. I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to live small and safely, but my desire to know that everything is going to work out will not, on a detail by detail basis, ever be met. And this, leaves room for worry and fear, if I let them, to rule in my heart and mind, and take control. And so the joy of the adventure, the thrill of the unknown path ahead is stolen.

Recently, a dynamic shift has taken place in my life. Like an old book being shut, I feel as though I can hear the cover of the last chapter of my life being closed and the new one being opened, a new era beginning. And as I look out into the distance of what feels like a metaphorical forest, I am again both excited because I feel that new things are coming my way, and scared because I don’t know what’s next.

My free spirit can’t handle itself, excited for the unknown and what it brings, and my fear is scared, and demanding a roadmap. My spirit for adventure has its head out the window elated, the wind blowing through its air, and fear is wrapped up in blanket in the backseat glaring at my free spirit’s recklessness. Liz Gilbert in Big Magic talks about living a creative life and how fear will always be an ever-present person on the journey. She says to talk to your fear and metaphorically invite fear to come along with you and your free spirit on your journey, but to tell fear that it is not getting to drive.

Fear is a wise advisor, but it can never be king of your castle, or captain of your ship.

I’m afraid of many things and worry sometimes lives in my body, but when I break free and muster up my courage, I want to press on no matter what lies ahead in the metaphorical forest stretching out ahead of me . . . because what a beautiful thing to be the hero of one’s one life, to be fully alive; to know that you’re not going through the motions, because you’re scared to death.

May you be scared to death.

Exhilarated by the free fall.

Enchanted by life’s mysteries.

And may you be brave.

Copyright 2016 Kristen N. Rea

Be brave.

I wrote this a month ago as I sat out on the porch of a my friend’s house in the rural neighborhood of Sanger, California. It was here that I finally had a moment of quiet after weeks filled to the brim with business of work, dating, and time with friends. In this whirlwind, my writing had been put on the back-burner, and as I put my fingers to the keyboard in this quiet moment, I felt like I was bursting with creative energy that had been pent up for weeks and even months. My very soul seemed to ache. One of the hardest things about being a creative person, is finding the balance between living life as a healthy human, the required mundanities, and time spent creating. 

 

My heart aches. The desire to write . . . To spill my heart out, to make sense of my feelings and wonder about life. I just want to write. I want to make sense of my life. I just want to feel one with the universal flow happening all around me. I want to understand, to know. It seems to me that I only know myself if I take this precious time away and disappear into my mind, my thoughts, my intuition, my essence. How else could I know what I know if I didn’t?

To stay in the hurried jagged movement of supposed-to’s, “responsibility,” and schedules, I feel trapped, like a lion in a cage. When did we decide this was going to be the way of approval? I yearn for moments like this . . . Sitting outside on a warm day, feeling the wind caress my face and the sweet perfume of blossoms washing over me . . . “wasting time.”

I breathe in deep and let it all go: my brokenness, my shame, my worry, and all the troubles of my mind.

In these moments, I feel whole. My Gemini tendencies seem to be united and I feel transcendent, eternal. If I believed in the cyclical reincarnation of lives, I would say, all my pasts, the present, and those still yet to live have come into alignment and I am the one soul floating in this timeless perfect place.

Creating, the releasing, sharing of the unique hidden treasures buried deep in the recesses of the soul, is an intense, spiritual and holy act brought forth through child-like playfulness and rebellious fire, insatiable joy and unbearable sorrow, brave curiosity and earned intellect and wisdom, blossoming love and violent hate; inspired by the mysterious current called inspiration.

Be brave and know the terror of becoming a naked soul to one’s own self, and to a humanity so detached from the spiritual and mysterious essence of the world; a cabalistic people who will worship you as a sage while they eat your bones.

Be brave and create; listen to the muse.

Be brave and create; know yourself and feel your entire being.

Be brave and create, and live fully awake.

Light

The conundrum of the two lights; that which invades, and that which leaves.

We live in a world obsessed with beauty; with that which can be seen. The bending of light and shadow entering the eye, the stimulation of cones and rods, and firings of neurons making light and shadow into a “thing;” an image sometimes so beautiful that to behold it, sends vibrations down into the soul, and pricks every fiber of our being.

Then there is the light that we feel in the chambers of our heart. The light radiating off someone’s entire being, an other-worldly, fourth dimensional light. . . . The light of the soul, which inexplicably feels like life, a heaven on earth.

Oh to be a constant flame, unaffected by emotion, brain chemicals, and faulty perceptions.

To be alive uninhibited, unafraid.

For the light of one person is unlike that of another; beams reflected and bending into a unique being that is, and will never be again. An unforced smile, the sparkle in the eyes like the telling of a secret, of the unique soul within.

One of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed is a human being fully alive, awake, and unafraid and in total abandon, an unquenchable flame.

Oh that we could be in our own condition, and see our own beauty and flicker on into the night.

Poetic Profanity

The following is one of those posts that I wrote in the late hours of the night, and that I found amusing. Whether it will be amusing to other humans during normal waking hours, remains to be seen. . . .

For my entire elementary, middle school, and high school education, I attended a private fundamentalist Baptist Christian school. I have many fond memories of elementary school, but as I got older many of my memories are overshadowed with all the things I remembered we weren’t allowed to do. Such as, the girl’s weren’t allowed to wear pants (The boys never knew we had legs.), read Harry Potter (I’m actually pretty upset about this one; missing out on one of my generation’s greatest childhood loves.), wear black nail polish, get within six inches of boys, and listen to anything other then hymns or that which was approved by the great and mighty Bob Jones University. Six kids were expelled from the high school, my senior year, and during several chapel services, we were threatened with expulsion if we made a MySpace, or were caught doing the things most other teenagers were doing. The school’s authority portrayed themselves as an Illuminati type group who knew what you were doing, even in your dreams.

For most of my time in school, I was a straight-edge student who obeyed all the rules. Hindsight, I see how destructive this atmosphere was on my mental health, my spiritual life, and my personal development. I developed extreme anxiety and depression that almost cost me my life; I almost lost my faith, and I feel like the time needed for me to discover who I wanted to be, took longer than most. I will write more about this later, but for now, on a lighter note, because I was primed to be “above reproach,” during my time at Christian school, I came up with my own variety of Christian school profanity. My go to words were stink and stink-eth (I cussed like a good King James Version reading lassie.) As you can imagine, I was super cool in high school.*

Now I cuss like any normal person does, but on occasion when I’ve been a middle school camp counselor, or just wanting to be”extra cool” and “creative,” I’ve come up with substitute words for my cussing needs. Because it’s your lucky day, I’ve decided to share a list of cussing substitutes for you:

  • What the . . . pathetic pancakes . . .
  • What the . . . blazing bananas . . .
  • North Korea!
  • Tiny tigers!
  • Post-its!
  • What the flip-flap?
  • What the thumbtack?
  • Larry!
  • What the hemorrhaging/hopping hippos . . .
  • What the flip-flop?
  • What the flying flip-flop?
  • Peach!
  • Avocados!
  • What the where’s Waldo . . .
  • Oily onions!
  • What the tuna tanks?
  • Grocery stores!
  • Scones!

I have some great options for those who would like to stick with the classic cuss words, but want to spice up their cussing game, but I will leave that topic for another time.

* this is sarcasm

 

Summer on a Budget

Summer is finally here! I have never been so excited for summer than I have been this year. There are so many things I want to do, but unfortunately my funds are a little low, and with some upcoming expenses, I will need to pinch my pennies. Here are some of the ways I’m planning to enjoy my summer even on a low budget.

Hiking

Living in Boulder County means that a good hiking trail is only 20-30 minutes away. The only things you need are decent shoes, water and snacks, sunscreen, and maybe a backpack. Invite a friend, pack a lunch and you have yourself a hike and a picnic.

Coffee and a Stroll

Warmer weather not only makes me want to be outdoors, but it also makes me want to explore the city; try new restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. To keep the tab low, share appetizers with friends, or try to find specials or happy hours. One of my favorite things is to grab a coffee and stroll around parts of the city I’ve never been to.

Facebook Freebies

Recently, I discovered the power of the Facebook events page. New events are being posted every day and the great thing is that a lot of them are free. You can look up events according to city, time frame; it shows what events your friends have liked.

Party at the Park

All you need is a group of people who want to have fun and a volleyball net or a soccer ball, and you can have yourself a party at the park! Disc golf can also be a great option for a group of people, and most courses are free.

Movie Marathon

When the heat gets to be too much, invite some friends over for a movie, or Netflix marathon. Pick a theme and have everyone bring a snack to share. If people would rather hangout, grab some Cards Against Humanity or a favorite board game.

Drive  

All you need is money for gas, a car (of course), and a spirit for adventure. Map something out ahead of time, or top off the gas tank and see where the road takes you. Take a cooler full of food and stop at a scenic spot for a picnic or see what restaurants are along the way and try something new.

Be

Lately, I have been really burned out from life for a variety of reasons. I think summer can be one of the best times to be in the moment and slow down; turn off the phone and go for a hike or lay in the sun. I find reading and reflection, or just sitting out on the porch with a beer helps me to recharge.

No matter what your summer brings, I hope you have time to explore, adventure, relax, and spend time with those you love.

Longmont: How to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

In the last several years, Longmont has grown considerably, offering several unique eating and drinking experiences. As a foodie, craft-beer drinking millennial hipster, I can vouch for Longmont; it may not be the most interesting town in Boulder County, but it does have a lot to offer. Here are some of my favorite places:

The Breweries

Longmont is home to several craft breweries and two of Colorado’s most popular: Oscar Blues and Left Hand. Both offer tours and have associated restaurants. Oscar Blues offers the most unique experience with its New Orleans and music themed interior, Cajun influenced food, and extensive beer list. On sunny days you can enjoy the patio and a game of corn hole, or live folk music on Sunday afternoons. If you love Oscar Blues, but aren’t feeling the food, check out two other Oscar Blue’s restaurants: Chub Burger, a casual burger joint, and CyclHops a Tequila bar/ bike shop. Some other breweries to check out are the Pumphouse, a firehouse converted into a micro-brewery, Groban Bart, and of course my favorite, Left Hand.

Food for the Foodies

My new favorite place to eat in Longmont is Hefe’s, a taco bar that serves a variety of street style tacos and a great $4 margarita. I also love Rosalee’s Pizza who along with having delicious pizza, has a blanket for each patron who sits on their patio. Other places to check out are Samples, which serves sample sizes of food from all over the world, The Roost, a local favorite for drinks and its rooftop patio. You may also want to stop in at Lucille’s for brunch, Happy Cakes for a cupcake, Scrumptous for ice cream, Aime’s Love bakery for a gluten free delectable, or one of the local coffee shops, Ziggi’s or my favorite, La Vita Bella.

Downtown Life

While you’re downtown enjoying some beer or tacos, you may want to stop in at The Dicken’s Opera House or one of the other music venues or speakeasies. You can also enjoy one of the local art galleries or a bit of shopping at the local clothing shops, crystal emporium, candy shop, bookstores, and record store. If you’re feeling creative, stop in at Crackpots and paint a ceramic piece of your choice, or create a mosaic piece.

Four years ago, when I moved back to Longmont, after living in L.A., I felt I’d been exiled to “boring land.” But in the last few years the small farm town and the surrounding areas have grown and developed a lot. I will be moving in a couple months, but I will definitely be back to enjoy what L-town has to offer.

 

Journal the Fear Out

Fear of the unknown has been something that has been coming up a lot in my life lately. Not only am I entering a time of transition– transition seems to be a cyclical part of your twenties– but also many of my friends are entering new seasons in their life, trying to determine what’s next for them, or hoping that they will be able to make it to the next stage of life or their careers.

A month or so ago, I was art journaling about the things that cause fear or hopelessness in my life, and the ways (healthy and unhealthy) in which I cope with that fear and uneasiness. As I was finishing collaging and pasting magazine clippings into my journal, I felt inspiration to write. . . .

Fear is healthy. It keeps us from injury– self-preservation. But safety can only get us so far. Staying under the covers is good for an evening, and even a time. We need rest and recovery. But we were never meant to live there. We were meant to feel it all: try, jump, run, laugh, fall, cry. Evil uses fear to keep us from tasting life and feeling radiance, the beauty of this life and the infinite.

Fear . . . be not my ruler. The desire to live, be not my master . . . I am my master.

I will not give in to supposed-to’s, other people’s dreams. Shame, I releases you. I am imperfect, fallible, but I am enough. I am not my mistakes. I am powerful. I am beautiful. And I will not fade into the dust. I will not be nothing. I will live, and live with my arms, eyes, ears, and heart, open. I will feel it all.

If you can taste fear and swallow it.

You are unstoppable.

Much love to you my friends. May we live this day courageously.

K