As 2014 comes to a close, I can’t help but appreciate what the contrast of the past year has taught me. By realizing who I’m not, I’ve come to see who I am.
I'm a hiker.Hiking came to me in a time when I needed it the most. It's my therapy. My antidepressant. My drug of choice. The simple movement of putting one foot in front of the other has a healing effect - and not just on the body.
I'm a photographer.
I've scaled back on my photography this past year, and I plan to remedy that in 2015. Stay tuned for a new website, a new look, and an updated portfolio.
I'm a writer.
Writing has always been my Plan A. From the time I was four years old and wrote my first wobbly story about a lost bird that flew too far from his nest, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. While most of my friends in grade school dreamed of being nurses or teachers, I dreamed of being an author.
Unfortunately, I would spend the next thirty years giving my Plan B all of my attention.
Words have always seduced me. The ebb and flow of a good sentence alone can make me swoon. I mean, really, there’s nothing quite like the prose of a good writer to bring me to my knees and leave me longing for something that I can’t even name.
The amount of time I spent writing dwindled during college, where my love of art and creating was pushed aside to major in sensible disciplines like athletic training and business. “You won’t make any money as a writer,” was my mother’s mantra and, unfortunately, I allowed myself to believe her. “Major in something that can pay the bills,” my brother (who is seventeen years older than I am) constantly preached. And like my mother’s words, I allowed his to dictate my future. While I still picked at writing here and there, I never fully allowed myself to believe that I would – or even could – write something that other people would want to read. I pushed my passion aside, promising myself that I would pursue it once I had a degree and a stable career.
Alas, it never worked out that way. I could never force myself to follow through with any of my Plan B’s. My most recent battle with school took place just this past year. The office management courses alone left me drained and depressed. Each quarter I would fret and stress, dreading my impending graduation date. The thought of crunching numbers and toiling away in a cubicle for the rest of my life was giving me panic attacks.
Fortunately, big changes come from moments of crisis. And the last few days leading up to this winter quarter proved to be my worst yet. The dread. The anxiety. The feeling that I was swimming upstream in a raging river that would never, ever end. It was all suddenly too much.
I broke. I broke and realized that I’d rather be writing than doing anything else. Bad writing, good writing. Poetic or stilted. Wobbly and choppy or graceful and fluid. Either way, it didn’t matter. If I can’t write for others, I thought, I can at least write for myself.
And that leads me to...
2015 will see me coupling all three of my passions together: hiking, writing, and photography. Each of these activities have proven, at various times in my life, to be a therapist, a teacher, and a friend. Together they are my holy trinity, and I'm finding that I need all three of them to be a constant in my life.
I’m excited to announce the launch of my new site – Hiking with Phoenix: Rub Some Dirt on It. It's a space where I'll be able to be (unabashedly) Me. I'll review various PNW hikes, gear, directions to the trailhead, etc. Pretty pictures will abound as I capture each trail as it is that day. There will be day hikes and backpacking adventures. Treks with my husband and dog, and even some solo. And eventually, a thru-hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail. (But more on that later.)
So yeah, all of that has come out of the contrast of 2014. By discovering what I don't want, I've come to know what I do want.
And it is ah-mazing.