Thursday, January 15, 2015

Week in Review

Woo...what a full, stressed but also incredible week it's been.

After my first Saturday class (which actually it isn't too bad to teach on a Saturday!), I ended up coming home for a nap and then studying for a bit. I'd been really wanting to see the movie Fury and best bud just ended his relationship, so I convinced him to hit up the cheap theatre with me for movie time and beers and convo after. It ended up being a really fun night and the movie was really well done....but it also made for lots of sleeping and hydration needs on Sunday.

Mom & Granny were supposed to come for lunch on Monday but in the end they didn't. After multiple days of studying for my written massage exam the stress was pretty high, so the dogs and I used the free Monday hours to head to one of our most traveled trails to get a hike in. Much needed and it was so restoring! I realized on trail how insignificant my stressors truly are in the bigger picture and I made myself take time to actually stop and breath deeply and touch the surrounding things in my environment--it was great.

Monday evening was the big National Championship football game and I think most of Oregon was watching to see how UO would do. (We didn't play all.) I also attended the first in a three class series on Wine & Food with my buddy/colleague and his fiance. It was fun to try something different, learn SO much more about how wine is changed by food pairings, and spend time with one of my favorite couples.

I spent the rest of that night chatting with my housemate and offering thoughts and insights. I'd allowed myself the day to NOT study at all....much needed and so well taken! ;)

Tuesday morning held the next Africa meeting....more incredible news and open doors...and as of right now, I'll be joining a group to Tanzania for three weeks in July. A few more things still need to fall into place and I need to apply for the actual slot...but this whole opportunity continues to be Dreams in motion...with the potential for it to be even more!

Tuesday & Wednesday evenings I taught, and much of Wednesday afternoon held a mix of studying and grading...and attempting to distract my returning stress.

Today I spent some time researching various options for travel and uh, PhD programs. Yep, don't ask...I don't want to think about it yet....but the potential need for that day might be on the horizon... I'm pretty tired of being a student at this point and really need a break to just enjoy/stabilize/focus.....but if I want to continue in academia and potentially transition to a 4 year institution...then I will eventually need a PhD....and this came to my attention earlier this week...

And then this evening.....I took the worst written exam I have ever had the distinct pleasure of taking...walked out of the test unsure of how I did and finally looked at the results to see that amazingly and thankfully I had passed the needed written exam. Thank God! Woohoo! One of two exams down....two weeks to study and re-memorize all the muscles for the practical exam. I cannot wait for this to be over. :) And I also have a new business idea for once I'm actually licensed that I've been running by people.

Post-exam this evening I headed to dinner & vino time with my nearby aunt and uncle. We haven't had the opportunity to really catch up since late Nov/early Dec, so it was great to check in with them and update them on all the new developments that have been occurring. It was the perfect way to destress after the exam tonight :)

Tomorrow holds a morning date and followed up with a running outing with friends. Dependent on how the day goes, there might be more grading and studying. Saturday morning will be the end of the teaching week with my morning class and I might hit up the gym on campus post-class. There's more grading to be had and more muscles to review over the long weekend, but Sunday night also holds a birthday party for an acquaintance at a wine bar and Monday has a coffee date with a friend and potentially an outdoor outing.

Besides the hike and the awesomeness of the Africa meeting, there were quite a few other moments of joy and excitement this week:

I made it through a Target trip in which I literally walked out empty handed...and with no desire to buy any clothes/shoes/accessories that were on display....pretty amazing.

Newest short term housemate is en route. She will arrive on Monday and should be here as long as all goes well until the beginning of May. She's also originally from Argentina...and I'm so hopeful she might help me brush up my Spanish! :)

Best buddy and I already had discussed a new snowshoe overnight trip for a weekend in February. I wanted to try snow camping but he suggested that we try an open shelter concept first. We're also planning on taking my gal T along and probably at least one other person also. AND THEN I found out the official wedding date for my buddy who is getting married in Alberta this summer and it's looking like I should probably be able to make it, which T and Reg D are wanting in on the trip too. If all worked out like a dream take 2 for the summer, then we'd be able to take a couple week trip to hit Glacier NP in Montana, Jasper NP & Banff NP in Alberta, and perhaps just perhaps swing a couple days in Yellowstone. Still in the dreaming stages BUT dreaming makes me, even if it doesn't always pan out. AND THEN to add onto the dreaming, Reg D asked if I might be interested in a kayak camping trip to an amazing destination over Spring Break....uh yep, dude, I IF all of these amazing dreams work out for this spring/summer then I would literally cross six life goals off the list. Lots of research/planning to do regarding logistics, but the nice thing is that we at least already have most the gear. Here's hoping that the trips can truly work out! Especially since they give me so much to look forward to :)

Beyond all of the various camps of this week, it also dawned on me that I also need to start putting those snowboard lessons on the calendar with my gal and her husband. We're in a weird warm spell so who knows what the rest of "winter" is going to be like this year. I'm also in the process of scheduling a massage workshop at my place for a handful of my classmates and myself with one of our favorite instructors. It's always pretty crazy when the calendar already starts filling up months in advance!

With all that already has been revealing there is a good chance that this year is going to be more full and life re-directing than I ever could have possibly imagined. I never feel like I truly choose the 'word' for the year but rather that the word chooses me. The words already coming to mind for this year are EMBRACE and ACCEPT. We'll see how the rest of the year continues to evolve, but I'm hoping to focus on doing both of those very actions throughout the months ahead.

What's been going on in your neck of the woods?! Hoping you have a restorative weekend ahead!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Random Randoms

On Instagram I was tagged by another outdoor individual to share five non-fitness things about me and I truthfully had a hard time streamlining what five things to put down :)

It made me think about how much I love when other bloggers share random thoughts so I thought I'd post a few of them here too.

The ones I shared on Instagram were the following:
1) I've always made friends with dudes more easily than with females. It took me much longer to figure out how to be close friends with gals. I love my gals...and so appreciate my male friends too.
2) My coffee addiction is mental rather than physical...thinking about switching to decaf.
3) Sometimes I really miss my old Spanish skills.
4) Someday I hope to have (adopt) kids. If I have a daughter I'm thinking about trying to raise her to be the real life Lara Croft.
5) At 28, I'd already reached what I thought were my professional goals. By 30, my two biggest life fears happened. Life is still evolving...I can only imagine what is in store in the next 50-70 years ahead.

Some of the others that came to mind included:
--I've cured my Target cardigan addiction.
--Every morning starts with a banana.
--I play well with veterans.
--Until six years ago, I never really liked dogs.
--I'm the youngest of four, but closer in age to my two oldest nephews than my oldest sibling.
--My parallel lives include a version of me that went to College of Charleston in SC and is a marine biologist....and one that is a fashion and home decorator based on thrifted and/or created finds.
--My inner environmentalist is still trying to figure herself out.
--My home is my sanctuary.
--In reality, I'm even more anal-retentive than I let on. Living with various others makes me really have to try to keep this in check.
--Case in point...I believe counters should be wiped down routinely.
--If I could do anything with my life, ie money and responsibility was of no concern, I would wander the globe helping and getting to know people. Culture was my first love. Helping others is my true heart calling.
--Yesterday I just started journaling again for the first time in over ten years.
--Journaling feels better when done in pencil.
--Sunshine pouring through my windows stirs my soul.
--When stressed, I am easily overstimulated.
--Diamonds are not a girl's best friend.
--Slowing off from exercising so much is going to be harder than I thought.
--The first week of the term can be one of the most stressful for instructors.
--Nothing cuter than Roxi toting her stuffed puppy around every time I vacuum. :)

And there you have it--random randoms of the month :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Recent Thrift Store Scores

Technically I went into the thrift store on the look-out for a button-up plaid shirt and a black leather pencil skirt. Although I am sort of wondering if a black leather pencil skirt might emit too much sexiness to be teacher appropriate. I've seen some pretty tasteful ones on pinterest, but there are quite a few tasteless ones on display also.

But the following also demonstrates why I both love my local thrift store and why I plan to stay out of it in the months to come now....

Here's what I scored just by looking:
Cute cardigan that can be dressed up with a button-down and pencil skirt for work or dressed down with jeans for every day. And a cute henley style shirt in a color that's great for my skin tone.

This beaded tunic that left me laughing at how much my style goes in circles (I used to be drawn to this more ethnic style all the time in undergrad)....and can be worn tucked into a pencil skirt, with various colored or black leggings, or perhaps with jeans. (It was 50% off even!)

And this long sweater which will go with pretty much anything. Since I've pretty much been living in that other thrifted sweater, I decided that picking up this other gem would also be worthwhile. I'm in love...and in fact, the tank and leggings in this picture are also thrifted.

But total: $31 spent for a shirt, cardigan, tunic, long sweater, and a new pair of fleece lined leggings that are perfect under my waterproof pants on outdoor adventures

PS My hair is getting really, really long...trying to decide what to do with it. Keep it going or chop it off. If I keep it, I don't have to pay for hair cuts! :)

The new term has me thinking about new outfits to put together, although I'll probably just revert to ones that I loved from past terms. And honestly, I have a feeling that with my Saturday class I might end up dressing in a more laid back style than I do for my evening courses... we'll see how the class presents and how rushed I'm feeling in the mornings on those days...but come on, it's Saturday! ;)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Frozen Gorge Waterfalls

The first true hike of the year happened on Sunday, as my housemate has been wanting to start hiking more. She had asked on Saturday evening if I would go on a hike with her and since I had been seeing the frozen gorge waterfalls show up on various IG feeds, I decided to arrange a little tour of the various easier falls in the Gorge. Due to daylight we ended up only having time to make it to three of the four locations, I'd planned on, but it was awesome getting to see the falls with lots of frozen sections as well. The trails themselves were slippery as they were frozen in patches and sometimes the mud was frozen without really showing that it we had to be pretty cautious while hiking. But it truthfully it was a fun and beautiful outing...and it's always so neat to be able to walk so closely to the waterfalls :)

The housemate looking at Lower & Upper Latourell Falls.

The dogs and I on the bridge by Upper Latourell Falls.

Wakeena Falls

And beautiful patches of frozen Multnomah Falls (the tallest falls in Oregon).

If we get another cold patch, I honestly might have to go back to see more and to check out the other ones we didn't make it to on this day. But again it was so great to encourage my housemate toward returning to hiking and to see something I've been wanting to check out while also exposing her to something entirely new. I had the opportunity to ENJOY & EMBRACE (even while literally exhausted on this day) while also taking someone on a new outdoor adventure :) Loving making progress and relishing the simple moments presented by those 2015 goals.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Snowshoeing at Lower Twin Lakes

One of my friends from my freshman year of college just moved back to Portland with her husband. We wanted to the opportunity to spend some time together and since he had to work on Friday, I asked if she would be interested in trying out snowshoeing. She'd never been but is eager to see more of Oregon's beauty, and truthfully it was a great way to spend a day together. 

Since it was during the busy long weekend between New Years and when everyone would be heading back to work, I decided to take her to one of my usual routes of Lower Twin Lake, which tends to be less crowded and easier with the dogs.

We stopped at my old standby rental store (Mountain Tracks in Government Camp) to pick up snowshoes, boots, & poles for Sarah to use. Still love that place, even if their prices have increased in the last two years. They also have a great map that is viewable in the bathroom (and available for purchase) that shows many of the snowshoeing paths around Mt Hood.

I remembered what it was like on my first snowshoeing excursion so I made sure to help Sarah with getting her snowshoes on and then we just went at a slow, even pace along the trail. The first time can be a bit of an adjustment, but she did great and I think she truly enjoyed it.

The temps were warmer on this particular day so while the wooded trail looked like it was out of a movie scene, we also had to dodge snow falling on our heads from dripping trees :) 

Standing on a corner of the frozen Lower Lake with Roxi:

Anna was running around so she makes two appearances in this pano of the lake :) 

At the lake, we ended up chatting with a group of retired couples that had hiked up to the lake for a quick outing. They were great to talk with and it sounds like they routinely set out on adventures ranging from wintering in Arizona, to once a year cabin adventures with old friends, to long hikes in the national parks.

On the way back to Government Camp to return the rentals, we hit some of the worst traffic I've ever been in when coming off the mountain. It took us an hour to make the five miles back to the rental store. Luckily Sarah had snacks and we just enjoyed the opportunity to continue to chit chat together. Also luckily by the time we made it out of the store (and attempted to get dinner at the packed local brewery--no go), some of the traffic had cleared and we were able to make it down to the towns at the base of the mountain without too much additional trouble.

We stopped at a restaurant in one of the small local communities that had great reviews online...and after Sarah and I were willing to move our table twice in order to accommodate an ever-growing group of friends that was dining in the middle of the restaurant...we ended up with a free dinner and an extra round of drinks! AWESOME! I'll give up my table any time for that :) The people were fun to chat with on our way out and truthfully the entire day of introducing Sarah to snowshoeing, catching up over dinner, and chatting with fun strangers was a pretty remarkable day!

The dogs had fun and the day presented the opportunity to work on goals 11 and 9 for the year. I introduced Sarah to a new outdoor activity AND I had the opportunity to EMBRACE the experience and ENJOY time with a wonderful friend, friendly strangers, and happy dog faces. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Goals: Already in Progress

2015 Goals:
1) Blog 5x monthly in 2015
2) Find a spiritual community
3) Truly attempt snowboarding (ie lessons)
5) Pass massage licensure process & secure secondary employment
6) Reduce (&maintain) credit card balance by 75%
7) Reduce car loan to less than $4000
8) Maintain health & work on regaining balance
9) ENJOY & EMBRACE who & what I already have
10) Continue renting rooms to others
11) Take 2 other people on new outdoor adventures
12) Try hot yoga
13) Take dogs on 2 backpacking trips
14) If possible, road trip to Matt & Haley's wedding

Well the 2015 Goal list has been on the blog for about a month now and there are thoughts for the 2015-2017 goal window also. I decided to focus on some realistic things this year while streamlining back in other areas. My key things for this year are Africa and finances and in this first week of the year there have already been lots of steps taken toward goal achievement.  

The finances will start to come together as I pass massage boards and then secure additional employment. The nice thing about the massage piece is that even if for some reason I don't get a job in a clinic or a desired environment right away, there are a handful of people who have already asked to receive regular massages once I'm licensed. Thus there is a way to make a little extra regardless of secured employment. Today, I registered to take my written licensing exam late next week and then mailed in my application for the practical exam I have to take. I'm hoping to take the practical the first week of February. If I pass both on the first go (which I desperately need to study!!), then I hope to be licensed and seeking employment by the middle of February. 

This term I'm also "overloading" by teaching five courses instead of my usual four (I'm only allowed to do this once an academic year) so I have a slightly higher paycheck Jan-March. I'm set to teach my four regular courses in spring, so let's hope they all fill and are a go. Hopefully by continuing to rent out both rooms in the house (new potential short term housemate is set to arrive on the 19th of this month and stay until May 1st & long term housemate plans to stay through the summer) I might enter the summer hiatus doing okay financially. Hoping! 

I have a follow-up meeting regarding Africa programming in a week. In that meeting I should find out more details regarding expectations and costs. From there I can start to fundraise to help foot the bill of going and I can also begin to make other potential contacts to add on an additional one to two week direct service component in a different way. Today I also mailed in my passport update app in order to have my name legally changed on it. 

The snowboarding lessons were purchased with an amazing deal before Christmas. Mt Hood Meadows was offering a package of three days of rentals, lift tickets (for the easier lifts), and lessons for a total of $99. It would cost that much or more for just one rental and lift ticket, so to get three days of everything at that price was pretty amazing overall. I feel like three days will be enough to make me decide what I really think of it and be enough for this winter anyway. I also had two friends decide to buy the deal also, so the three of us will be making the treks up to the mtn together. 

Physically I'm working on slowing down some actually. I've been super tired lately and so I've been trying to spend more time in bed and just resting in general. I have made several physical jaunts out, but I've kept the runs and hikes short (seriously....2.5 mile max on runs and 4 miles on the hikes). It's important to me to keep in shape this year still and be healthy, but to also be serious about being kinder to my body. Goal number 11 is technically already met maybe instead I should see just how many people I can get out on new adventures?! ;) I also was originally intending to try to maintain higher mileage until I ran in the Shamrock 15k again, but when I went to register I realized that I'm already registered for a new kayaking tour on that I'm trying to figure out which one is calling me the most....probably kayaking.

With my primary focus being on Africa, I know that lots will have to fall into place. I need to secure dog sitters, someone to live in the house & manage it the month I'm gone, pre-pay all the utilities, fundraise funds to cover the flight and program costs, lots of prayer, and I'm hoping that I'll still be able to teach one class when I return in August. Since I'd be gone in the middle of summer, I also know that means that I won't be able to do the type of food preserving or gardening I did last summer and that other summer outdoor adventures will be a minimum. I'm more than open and willing to trading those things in, in order to finally get the opportunity to go to Africa and assist in some way. I'm still also focusing on being open to how all this might evolve for the summer though, while trusting that it will all come together as it should.

Finding spiritual community might take a while, as I need to be willing to branch out to different venues or truly invest in the church where I have been going on occasion. Perhaps I also need to be open to a different idea of what this could look like?

Honestly beyond finding a spiritual community, I think one of the most challenging goals to follow through with is going to be to actually stick to blogging 5x a month. Since I fall off the rocker so to speak (even though I always have so much I want to write about), it's a good goal to have however in order to keep me documenting. Even if all I end up doing is documenting various outdoor excursions, at least I'll have a running record of all sorts of outdoor fun :)

The wedding of my buddy and his fiance is in Alberta, Canada in August. I've been wanting to visit them for years and a road trip up there would have the opportunity for tons of outdoor options, but if I do end up teaching in August then it might not be feasible. I'm also unsure what my financial situation will be when I get back at the end of July. This is something that probably will end up off the table but I'm trying to be open/flexible to what could present. (My other buddy is also getting married in Antigua in beautiful and inviting as a destination wedding to a tropical island's just unfortunately not in the financial cards at all this year :()

The one thing that IS readily accessible though is to EMBRACE & ENJOY who & what I already have....because man, if there's one thing that 2013 and 2014 taught's that I have so much. Even when I was as close as I ever hope to be to rock bottom, I had the greatest gifts of all in my life...the people that surrounded me. I have some of the most amazing individuals in my life that remained supportive and lifted me up (sometimes repeatedly and patiently) until I eventually regained some sort of solid ground...including many of you who have read here. As cheesy as it sounds my dogs have also been amazing sources of love & joy while also forcing me to carry on and to sweat life out via running and outdoor pursuits. I'm still so grateful for a functioning vehicle, an education, a job that makes me feel fulfilled, a home with clean water & heat, & the freedoms that do exist in this nation.....but if all that was taken from me....the relationships would continue to matter the most. Thus this year is about continuing to embrace the people and what I do have...and trusting that the big picture will sort itself out in the long run....I've already got the best gifts.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Tilly Jane Snowshoe Weekend

What do you say when one of your best buddies asks if you want to do a snowshoe weekend on the mountain with him and his girlfriend....and he offers to haul most the gear, cook all the meals, and supply the extras? You say yes in a very big way. Especially when one of the main reasons he's doing it is because you weren't able to join the original mid-December snowshoe week to a cabin in southern Oregon due to scheduling conflicts and other individuals on that particular trip.

Needless to say Regular D scored major major brownie points on the last weekend of the year and arranged a fun trip that was something I'd been wanting to do for a long time. The only drawback to this trip was that the dogs weren't allowed to come along due to cabin regulations.

Reg D hauling a pulk at the start of the 2.5 mile journey of a 2000ft elevation gain up to the cabin. His feat was epic since there were several downed trees on the trail that he had to navigate over/around & night fell upon our final bits of trekking.

A and I at sunset--it was so incredibly beautiful on the way up.

A continuing to head up, up, up trail with Mt Hood looming in the background.

A and I made it to the Tilly Jane cabin about 530 pm and Reg D arrived just under an hour after us. The fun thing about Tilly Jane is that it's sort of like an outdoor hostel meaning that it holds mixed reservations for up to 20 people. Our first night in the cabin was spent with a couple about our age who had recently moved to Portland and two fun guys about our ages also. We all navigated well together restocking wood, boiling water, cooking various meals (Reg D made us hot sandwiches this night), and hanging out close to the fire (which was the only real spot with any warmth...the rest of the cabin stayed about 35 degrees or under... :)). We had a great time that first night sitting around the fire together, telling stories, talking about a variety of things, and sharing drinks.

On Day 2, we all crawled out of our various sleeping areas (the cabin has an open loft up top for sleeping) and Reg D cooked us an awesome egg/sausage/veggie scramble. Amanda and I heard a dog outside and when we went to investigate we met an older guy who was staying at a private cabin a bit farther up the mountain. Since they had a smaller group staying with him, he invited all of us to come up for a beer in the afternoon. About noon or 1pm-ish, my buddy J arrived for the afternoon and joined us on a bit of a day hike adventure and to visit the cabin up the way. It had started snowing the night before and the wind was also howling. Visibility to get up to the desired Cooper Spur Hut on the mountain was nil, but once we found our alternate route, we really enjoyed spending an hour or two chatting with the people in the Snowshoe Cabin (plus it was toasty and gorgeous in there). The gentleman we'd met in the morning knew the history of the area so it was great learning about the development and the cabins on that side of the mountain.

J with Reg D in the background

Reg D, A, & J heading to check out the historic Cloud Cap Inn

Late afternoon brought Reg D, A, a young guy we'd met at the other cabin, and I back to Tilly Jane, where we spent time just chatting and hanging out around the fire. In the evening we had fajitas (my fav!!) and I brought out Yahtzee cards so that our group could play together. (The young guys had left but a new couple had arrived during the day!)

A bit more sitting around the fire & chatting as the evening progressed...and then eventually we all wandered to bed.

In the morning, we woke up to more inches of snow and it was continuing to come down, so we decided to head out about noon after restocking the wood and boiling more water for the others at the cabin. 

The inside of the cabin.

Final photo op in front of the Tilly Jane Cabin.

We decided to take the 9 mile road back down to the parking area as it has a more gradual decline, but with the constant snowfall we also had the fun of breaking trail (sometimes in snow that went up to just below my knee). Nine miles later, we definitely were stoked to finally arrive at the car! :) (My phone stopped working due to the cold in the section which was too bad as there was some really beautiful scenery.)

Altogether it was such a great fun, relaxing weekend however...and in a lot of ways a perfect wrap up to the fun that the year had presented. We met some incredible individuals, ate some great food, enjoyed lots of conversation, and just had time to was pretty wonderful. :)

I was also pretty glad that my Sorento was able to navigate so well on the snow and we didn't need chains to get out of the parking lot (which J had loaned me a set and gave me a lesson late the night before-ha!). We stopped in Hood River for a pizza dinner and beers, and then navigated back to Portland and to all of our individual homes. It felt pretty amazing to come in the door to happy dog kisses...and then to finally get in the shower after three days of sweat, cold, and body odor :)

Seriously though.... what a great weekend...and an amazing Christmas gift from my dear buddy!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Year of Grace: 2014 Wrap-Up

Woo, alright y'all here's 2014 in review :)

2014 Goals
Regain financial independence
Pay off credit card--not happening but it's down some
Pay car loan to below $8k (close!)
Altered clothes challenge
Run 15 miler for fun (close enough 14.5 trail jog on Oct 31)
Finally try surfing (Aug 30)
Go kayaking again (April 26, May 17, May 24, July 9, July 13, Oct 25)
Backpack in Olympic Forest (Hiked Sept 14)
Hike/trail run entire Wildwood Trail (1 day) (Mar 1st)
Roadtrip somewhere out of Oregon (ONP--Sept 14)
Potential:Run in official half marathon race (Dec 14) Sprint tri in summer
What a year it was...full of ups and downs, but truthfully if I had to put a "word" to last was GRACE. Grace for myself, grace for others, recognizing grace all around, and doing my best to give more grace.

The year itself ended with about 922 miles covered via hiking, running, snowshoeing, and backpacking. I did only 6 Insanity DVDs and 5.5 yoga you-tube sessions to cross-train, but I covered about 20 miles via kayaking, tried surfing & snowboarding, and went on one SUP outing.

Of the miles via my own feet:
I met my goal to walk/hike the entire 30 miles of the Wildwood Trail in one day:

I ran in the Shamrock Run 15k and averaged 8:46 min miles:

I met my extra goal of running in a half-marathon race:

I had an epic back-to-back outdoor weekend early in the year that included a 16 mile hike in Tillamook Forest with an evening trip to the beach and followed up with a 8 mile snowshoe trip on the mountain the next day:

Tall D & I did some epic day hikes for mileage this summer, including completing as much of the Wilson River trail in one day as was possible at the time, partially fulfilling my goal of exploring Olympic National Park by driving & hiking around part of it, and backpacking in the Wallowas:

I made my longest solo day mileage by completing an epic 22 mile hike/trail run on Eagle Creek Trail this fall...and I smiled in the rain the whole way:

And I more or less made my goal of completing a 15 miler by defeating my personal challenge of making it around Hagg Lake:

I continued to be in love with kayaking and am looking forward to eventual future kayak/camping excursions:

I learned via completing my life goal of trying surfing that while it's fun to explore new options, sometimes it's satisfying to recognize that we already have so many good things going:

I accomplished my goal of a road trip out of Oregon in a round about way by taking the day trip to Olympic National Park in September and by the recent day trip to Seattle. While I think I originally meant for that goal to be farther's all about grace :) and both day trips were rewarding!

This year I also spent the period of Lent in a social media time-out & allowed myself to finish processing and grieving my divorce and the loss that occurred to my world view in the years prior. It was a much-needed and well-received experience and I came out of Lent renewed and ready to move forward. In June, I finally "let go" on a trail in Tillamook Forest and headed into a new future. 
Ironically I also was involved with my ex twice this last year for short periods of time, but I re-learned hard lessons in the process...and eventually shut the door hard & firm. I was reminded that the core concept of self-respect needs to be forefront on my heart & mind...and I ended the year with my maiden name fully re-engraved in my heart and legally changed for good.

I participated in online dating on two different occasions. Spent the first part of the summer with a great guy. Continued to develop ideas for what I truly need in a partner and to be aware of whether or not I'm really ready to focus on a relationship. I completed the dating challenge my girlfriends gave me and truly enjoyed the process and the learning that came from it.

I had some random and scary health flukes in March & April that made me realize that my body was truly exhausted. It took 2-3 months to truly re-stabilize and I spent the rest of the year focusing on grace for my physical health & listening more to what my body actually needed. The fact that I ended with 922 miles out of the original 1000 mile goal that I had for the year, makes me incredibly happy that I was even able to come back this far. I've learned to not take my physical health for granted.

I made it through massage school. While it had to be slowed down and pushed back (grace!) and at times was a total test of my patience, on Christmas Eve my certificate of completion, final transcript, and alumni card were all delivered to my front door. Thank God it's over :) but I truly learned so much in the process.

In total the year had five housemates plus M's lil guy & visiting grandma. A recurring theme this year was also learning to put my foot down and learning to say no. Removing Housemate M from the home was a hard experience but proved to have incredibly positive outcomes. My current long-term housemate has been here for seven months now and we had two great short-term gals share space with us also. 

My financial goals are still in process but this is where grace comes into play once again. I don't doubt that those financial goals WILL be met in years to come...and I'm continuing to make headway...just not as fast as I already wanted. My car loan was almost paid to the goal and I have no doubts that I'll make the goal for this year ahead. The credit card is less than it was at the start of 2014 but there's still plenty of progress to be had. And while I'm not financially independent...I'm feeling a bit more "financially stable" than I have in a long, long time...and I can see that independence is on the 2 year horizon. 

I did however also more or less make it through 2014 completing my no buy clothing challenge. I stumbled with one unexpected Target trip but those two clearance items have been worn multiple times. I feel pretty good coming out of 2014 having only bought two new regular items of clothing.

The year also included more food preservation than ever before, wonderful moments of U-Picks, backyard growing, & kitchen canning. The suburban farm also grew to include a hodge podge of 4 chickens, the rebuilt arbor & coop, and a completed pallet-to-compost bin project. In terms of increasing sustainability, 2014 saw many advancements.

In the fall I emotionally fell on my butt for one primary reason, I had a near life-altering accident from which I walked away with no damage or injuries, and I hired my cousin to be my life coach to help hold me accountable toward refinding joy in my life and moving me toward goals. In less time than I could have ever imagined, I ended 2014 with an offer to get to Africa, fundraising ideas, steps for short-term professional development, the potential for a new dream career evolving...and a general sense of fulfillment.

So there we have it. I hiked, I ran, I finished school, kept kayaking. I made payments and continued sharing housing. I spent time with family and reconnect with my siblings. I enjoyed so many moments with the many amazing friends that I have in my social circle. I continued to teach. I changed my name and started chasing my dreams. I grieved, I exhausted, I rebuilt, and I ended the year.... happy, content, and satisfied.

I spent yesterday the final day of 2014 sleeping in, interviewing a new potential short-term housemate, and then I took an old college friend on a day hike to Tillamook Forest. This is someone I haven't seen in 12 years, who was given my number to reconnect, and who is in the process of a finalizing divorce that he isn't sure he actually wanted. To spend the final day of the year on trail with an old friend, seeing nature & exercise bring happiness to his face, and asking hard questions while offering advice....was probably the most perfect way to celebrate a year of growth, of grace, and of learning. 

The evening included a hot shower, a phone call to Granny, a Lara Croft movie marathon surround by the dogs & my cat, one glass of wine, and an early bed time just after midnight curled up cuddling my firework scared dog. Even though I had many other NYE offers, this low key night was the most appealing thing to end a pretty amazingly full year.

Hoping that your end to 2014 left you feeling just as solid. While I'm looking forward to this new year that we've entered into, I do so not with unrealistic expectations or hope, but with trust that the right and true opportunities will reveal...and that life will be enjoyed in all the many satisfying moments offered when we're not looking. Heading into this new year, I have no "word" for what the year might bring, but I hope it's one of restoration, trust, happiness, and many moments of slowing down. Africa is my focus, but I'm open to whatever God decides to reveal in the days, weeks, and months ahead....I mean come on He works and reveals in the most interesting of here's to just enjoying the ride ahead. :) Onward into 2015--love, peace, and joy to all of you!