The Time is Ours

There’s a damp sweetness in the air as I brush my fingertips across a creamy-white shelf fungus clinging indifferently to a thick Doug Fir trunk. I walk onwards down the trail.

My heartbeat and the occasional gust of wind whispering through the leaves are the only sounds aside from the constant jingle of the creek. It rolls over slime encrusted rocks and trickles between a fallen branch, then eagerly winds around a bend. My boots clomp along, chasing its weaving liquid tresses. Clumps of wet loam, pine needles and decaying leaves cling to the waffle print on the undersides of my feet. I breathe in the fresh air.

If only I could savor this moment forever. A moment when my thoughts have dissolved into the forest, strained and cleansed by thousands of bristly tree hands reaching toward one another, touching. A moment when remembering comes without struggle. The sacredness of this home, this body, this life catches in my chest and I hold it there. Tears come, wind comes, and my heartbeat carries on drumming, pushing my legs to keep marching.

I glance at my right wrist – Be extraordinary – the engraved words shimmer between smooth leather encircling my wrist. Everything has changed since I bought the bracelet on a sunny San Diego afternoon 3 years ago.

Today is the birthday of a friend we lost at the too-young age of 27. And in just under a month from now, it will be the 2-year anniversary of the passing of a dear teacher who encouraged me to keep writing and to go see the world, which somehow, miraculously, I’ve now done. There are so many other things that have changed – some small, some big – the length of my hair, the ending and beginning of relationships, the city I live in, the dreams and heartaches I’ve birthed and witnessed, and seen loved ones through.

Time becomes such a strange entity as we grow older. Although it flexes and shrinks in harmony with our perspective and depth of experience, too often, it feels like it’s zooming by. I recently read a refreshing article, The Disease of Being Busy, and it made me wonder just how much our obsession with productivity impacts our perception of the precious minutes we’re each allotted to be here.

The author, Omid Safi, writes,

“When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just…be?”

In the absence of down time, we crave connection all that much more, and so we flock to social networks, checking our phones as if our friends actually reside inside the little square apps on the screen. Social media is so tempting because for a fraction of the time and effort it takes to interact face-to-face, we can get a hit of meaning and feel like we’re still a part of our loved ones’ lives. But in reality, we’re missing out on true human intimacy without real time spent with one another.

With our packed schedules, I’d also propose we’re missing out on intimate time spent with ourselves, examining our lives, dreaming of things yet to come, practicing our hobbies and wondering about who we are. If disease is a killer of the body, living on autopilot is death to the soul.

When I feel time whizzing by, I remind myself to do what makes me a human being again – I head to nature, I slow down, I write, dance, sing, cook my meals, listen to my heart’s musings, and tune back into the bigger picture.

The memories of the people who are no longer with us are a reminder of time’s preciousness. These moments are ours for the savoring. Why not spend them intentionally? What will YOU do this week to push pause on the “doing” and return to “being”?

My Nephew smelling a rose on a recent trip to the Portland Rose Garden.

My nephew smelling a rose on a recent trip to the Portland Rose Garden.

10 Ground Rules for Dating & Staying Sane

Life is for...

Between the ages of 16 and 23, the longest I was single was 6 months. I was in love with love. And then I hit a (very healthy) breaking point, or rather, my heart got broken for the third time, and I needed a lot of healing, years in the making! I entered the longest stretch of time that I’ve been alone – three-in-a-half years. During that time, I discovered new passions and found deep joy in unexpected places. I carved new pathways. I quit my soul-sucking corporate job. I learned how to blues dance. I attended festivals and concerts by myself. I rode a train across the country. I launched this blog, and many other writing projects, including my own magazine, The Queen Bee Collective. I lived in a co-op. I became a world traveler. And recently, I moved to a new city.

After all that time of getting to know myself better and learning more about what I need in a relationship, I felt ready to put myself out there again. I’ve spent the last 7 months in Portland going out on dates and meeting lots of new people. That hardly makes me an expert, but I’ve definitely had enough dating experiences at this point to have learned a few things. There have been good dates and bad dates, failed starts to relationships, and successful ones, but I’ve walked away from both with a deeper understanding of myself, and that’s made it all worth it.

Choosing to be vulnerable and looking for the right person can be exhausting, even discouraging, which is why I’ve come up with some ground rules that have helped me navigate the world of dating. With the help of these rules, I’ve managed to stay true to my core values, and after a lot of perseverance, find a man who is worth investing time and energy in.

I hope these help you too!

1. Be 100% Unapologetically Yourself

If you show up to a date and pretend to be someone you’re not, you’ll never know if you and your date are actually compatible. What’s the point in entering a relationship in which you have to be someone you’re not? Falsehoods will never be sustainable. Honesty is the only true foundation for a successful relationship. Be true to who you are, and you will attract someone who likes you for you.

2. Make Decisions From Your Core Values

Do you fundamentally disagree with your date’s outlook on social issues? Are you opposed to kissing on the first date? These sorts of questions and the way you answer them hint at your core values. By making decisions based off of your core values, you attract someone with similar viewpoints, and uphold your standards. Compromising yourself to attract someone or keep them interested serves neither party. Trust that your values serve a purpose and have helped you navigate a myriad of situations to get you to where you are today – living a life you’re proud of. Stay close to your values, and they will steer you in the right direction!

3. Wait to Jump Into Bed

There will undeniably be pressure (both from your date and society) to move quicker in the bedroom than you probably should. For example, I recently read that many men expect intimacy by the third date. However, in my experience, waiting to jump into bed is a really smart decision. It gives you and your date the opportunity to get to know each other and develop a mental/emotional attraction, rather than the focus being solely on the physical. It also helps you weed out the game players and trophy chasers from the true blue. If a man is truly interested in being in a relationship with you, he will be patient. Moving slowly also protects you from making decisions out of lust, and allows you to make a more grounded assessment of a person’s character before getting too invested or becoming vulnerable before you’re emotionally ready.

4. Respect Yourself First

This is an obvious one. If you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect someone else to? Respecting yourself means acting in alignment with your values, staying true to your standards, sticking up for yourself as needed, and knowing (and protecting) your self-worth.

5. Keep a Balance

By tending to all areas of your life and balancing where you place your energy, you stay centered. This is the best place from which to seek and start a relationship. You should never feel like you have to sacrifice your hobbies and friendships for a romantic connection.

6. Know Your Deal Breakers and Act Accordingly

Take the time to acknowledge what you cannot tolerate, and if those red flags show themselves in your date, either address the issue right away or determine that you won’t be seeing that person again.

7. Believe in Abundance

There are lots of people out there. When you have faith that love is in abundance, you are more likely to be honest with yourself about whether or not someone is worth seeing, and to uphold your standards.

8. Stop Over-thinking

We all do it from time to time. I am especially guilty of this! But try your hardest not to think too long or too hard about a new relationship. Give it time to blossom, and trust that your feelings will become clearer with more time and experiences with the other person. Thinking too much can breed worry and create mountains out of mole hills.

9. Follow Your Dreams

You must follow your dreams. Period. It doesn’t matter who you date, or who you don’t, you won’t be a whole and happy person if you aren’t pursuing your life passions, so keep at it! By following your dreams, your confidence and ambition will attract like-minded people. Plus, you’re a lot more interesting and attractive when you’re chasing your aspirations.

10. Communicate

Don’t hold your tongue if there’s something you need to communicate about. Talk it out. All of it. Whatever you need to say, say it! If your date can’t work through things with you, they aren’t the right fit for the long haul.

Last but not least, this quote speaks volumes:

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”
― Brené Brown

You have a precious allotment of energy. Share it only with those who reciprocate, and treasure you for the wonderful, imperfect and unique human you are. Kiss the game-players goodbye, and move onto greener pastures!

Greener Pastures