14.7.12

Every (moving) picture tells a story...don't it?

video
So, I did a lot of ruminating in yesterday's post, so today, I'll let my video speak for itself. A huge thanks to Josh Garrels for the inspirational tune in the background called "Be Set Free." Hope you enjoy!

P.S...in case you can't tell, that black blob in the last snippet of film is this guy/gal snacking on dandelions:

13.7.12

Alpine Adventure

Yesterday, I saw this sign posted for hikers about which trails were open...and I'm sad to say that I didn't really believe it. I mean, it's mid-July!! It has been around 100 degrees in Chicago for weeks! So, I decided to see for myself.

I took an open chairlift to the top of Blackcomb Mountain and watched the world around me transform from meadows of wildflowers, to pine forests, to snow and rock. The only other time I've been on a chairlift, I had a snowboard strapped to one foot and I fell on my face every time I tried to descend, forcing the other skiers and boarders to fall over me in a giant pileup. Ugh. The good news is...it's much easier in shoes!! I didn't fall once :)

The Peak 2 Peak Gondolas!
I kept my eyes peeled for Black Bears on the ride up, but didn't spot any today. I tried to picture the scene flying by under my feet covered in snow and skiers, but couldn't quite manage it. Instead, I just kicked back and enjoyed the feeling of the sun on my face and the breeze fluffing my ponytail. After some delicious chili in a bread bowl at the restaurant at the top of Blackcomb, I took the Peak 2 Peak gondola that took me from Blackcomb to its neighboring peak, Whistler. I rode with a grandfather from Vancouver (and his silent grandson) who regaled me with stories of his hitchhiking journey through the US in the early '70s complete with accents...he was quite a character and kept me entertained for the entire traverse. Once on Whistler, though, I felt discouragement wash over me as I reflected on why I'm even here in the first place and what I'm running from acknowledging.

Surrounded by snow and ice, I was reminded of the lyrics to a song that was performed at church earlier this year...I was so moved by them that I clipped them from the bulletin and kept them in a notebook that I happen to have brought with me: "In the bitter days of winter, locked within the ice and cold...All the world seems to be frozen, all the world seems dark and old...When the trees are bare and lifeless and the earth is hard as stone...Troubled times can steal our courage, troubled hearts feel all alone...Far below the frozen surface, melting ice begins to flow...With the rising of the water, hidden seeds begin to grow...With the storm clouds in our faces, we are searching for the sun...We must gather all our courage, for the journey has begun...As the stream flows to the river, as the spark turns into fire...We grow stronger in our journey to the land of heart's desire...Where the evil will be broken, where the wrong will be made right...And the ones who live in darkness, shall be children of the Light."

The giant...
...and mine.
I kept these words in mind as I ascended to the very tippy-top of Whistler's summit, where I found dozens of Inuksuit, including this giant one. The First Nations of this area used these stone landmarks to communicate between travelers and they traditionally mean "you are on the right path." Taking heart, I built my own tiny cairn and reflected on the path that has brought me to where I am today...the good, the bad, and the ugly. Up here with the sun on my face, the valley stretching below me and the trickle of melting snow making music around me, it felt a lot easier to reinterpret everything through a positive lens.

Upon my descent from the summit, it was amazing to stumble upon this large bit of snow graffiti...it was just the reminder I needed that everything is going to be okay. In case it's hard to see in this small-ish photo, it says "Glory of God." :)


11.7.12

You know how to Whistler, don't you...

Well, I'm in the right place! Craving solitude, nature, and reflection, I stumbled upon an ad for Whistler, BC, in a travel magazine that I bought on my way to TX. It seemed to fit the bill, so I booked a ticket, rented a condo, and was on my way! This is probably one of the more spontaneous things I've done in recent years, and I'm so glad I followed the guiding hand that steered me here!

My living room
The view from my balcony!!
I had very vague directions on how to get to the condo and figured that I would have the Vancouver Airport Shuttle drop me at the hotel that appeared to be closest to the condo address on the map. However, in a classic "you can't get there from here" situation, there was no direct route between the hotel and the condo. I wound up dragging my large, wheeled suitcase along a packed dirt, root filled path through the woods and finally found the right place. The sweaty trek through the forest was worth it, though. The condo is gorgeous...huge, comfortable, and homey. In fact, if I could move here permanently right now, I most definitely would!

Where I spent Day One...
Unfortunately, my first full day here was spent in bed with a horrible fever. Not sure where it came from or where it went, but I'm glad it's gone!! I was laid up in bed all day long and felt like my back and every joint in my body was about to break at the slightest provocation. Ugh. Lots of ibuprofen, prayer, and sleep later, I woke feeling like a whole new person today...ready and raring to go!!

So, I hit the trails and took an easy stroll out to Lost Lake. Not too sure about the name, since I found it easily, but it would have been worth hunting!! Look at this place!!

After walking around the lake on the loop path and enjoying my picnic lunch, I changed into my suit and went for a dip. Bbbbrrrrrrrrr!! This is a glacier-fed lake and it was chilly! After paddling around for a little while, though, I was numb enough to not feel the cold. After a nap in the sun, I was ready to continue on the trail back to Whistler Village. Here are some of the sights I saw along the way...
I finished off the day with a farmer's market (yay!!!) and a really cool circus performance in the Olympic Center just as the sun was starting to go down. Needless to say, this was a great, refreshing day...I definitely feel like I'm where I am supposed to be and am grateful to be here. We'll see what tomorrow holds!

9.7.12

Don't Mess with Texas!

Alright...I'm sure most of y'all are familiar with the famous line from A Streetcar Named Desire, when Blanche says, "Whoever you are, I've always depended on the kindness of strangers." Well, I'm about to take that quote completely out of context and change it entirely, but somehow it popped into my head anyway.

Unlike Blanche, I've never allowed myself to depend on the kindness of strangers. In fact, I've rarely even allowed myself to depend on the kindness of friends. But all that changed about 2 weeks ago when all my expectations for my life got upended. Without taking the time to reflect, I jumped in the car and drove from Chicago to Champaign to stay with a friend and to heal spiritually. Unfortunately, I have no pictures and it was such a personal time of reflection and growth that I'm somewhat reluctant to talk about it in a public forum. Feel free to call for more info :)

So, let me pass to the next leg of my self-imposed exile from Oak Park. I drove back north and went directly to the airport for a flight to Dallas. My sister picked me up in the midst of moving (thanks, Borbie!) and she and her hubbie treated me to a week of pampering, sisterly care-giving, and firsts! Amongst the firsts: first enjoyable massage (other have been creepy at best!), first pedicure, first facial, first all-soufflé dinner, first visit to the fabulous Central Market grocery store!

So, I've always been weirdly self-conscious about my feet and my skin...pedicures were not an option in my mind because I have hobbit feet. Yep...wide, hairy, sweaty...in short, nasty. For my first pedicure, the lady DID make fun of my feet. She said they were so sweaty that the polish wouldn't stay on my toenails...first of all, I don't think the nails have sweat glands. Secondly, she had just made me soak my feet in 150% water for 10 minutes (okay, maybe it wasn't 150% exactly, but it was hot). So, I just decided to not care about it! In any case, I was excited about the results and I'm sure it won't be my last pedicure :)

As for my skin, it has always been the thing that has frustrated me the most. It acts out constantly and always has. So, a facial just seems like a recipe for disaster. But, Laura convinced me to try out an Aveda Institute facial with a student that was a fraction of the cost of a "regular" facial. My esthetician was doing her first facial EVER and was super-nervous. She did a great job, but of course, afterwards, I felt the need to spend over $200 on Aveda products to reassure her in her sales abilities. Good heavens.

I was expecting utter patriotic insanity for the Fourth of July...due to the stereotype of extreme Texan pride. However, things weren't too crazy. I spent the day wandering the adorable streets of Denton, Texas, home to University of North Texas, where Laura is a professor. The small-town America feel mixed with the artsy-fartsy college crowd was a fun mix. And, although it was hot, hot, hot, I consoled myself that it was actually cooler than Chicago!

So, all that to put a travel spin on what was really a personal journey of learning to put myself in others' hands and trusting them to take care of me better than I could take care of myself. To those of you who have been there for me these last few weeks, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You know who you are.

But, my travels aren't over yet. So, now for a game...guess where I am now? Here's a clue: