The stormy southern Oregon coast in January


Fixing My Compass After Taking a Wrong Turn

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean — 
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down — 
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver
“The Summer Day”

It started with a grenade, well, not a real one. I pulled the pin and let it gingerly slip out of my palm, precipitating a thunderous explosion to obliterate my life.

In the rubble lay shards of my career and a relationship with someone I loved and with whom I shared a now shattered life. The majority of my possessions either quickly sold or stuffed in bags and left at Goodwill. The remainder able to fit inside my two-door hatchback. Two days after the final farewell at my job, I became a nomad.

I said goodbye. Bon voyage to stability. Arrivederci to relationships and friends and familiar places, to faces and the cadence of voices I’d come to know over the years in the verdant Pacific Northwest. Hello to insecurity. A warm embrace with the unknown and the road ahead.

After all, isn’t it the uncertainty of life itself that truly should cause us to live?

We are all in touch with our intuition, our heart, the gut feeling that things are all well and good or the signal something is amiss. Somewhere deep inside, I crossed wires and stopped listening. I allowed the messages too much time to reach my brain’s overthinking lobe.

The inner voices grew too loud to silence. An uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach churned and bubbled until I retched and grabbed for that grenade.
 I pushed aside the fear swelling inside, the reality of what I was doing and what could happen, all the negative thoughts and negative self speak. I made a decision, perhaps the first one in a very long time, trusting my gut. It felt right. It made sense to me, even if it befuddled others.

Seven months have elapsed. Seven months spent unlearning old habits, not dwelling on the past (which I accept will always be a part of me), moving forward, turning inward and coming out a different person.

I’ve learned to let go.

I’ve opened my mind, heart and soul to accept the multitude of experiences that life presents. To the new people I meet. The new places and adventures I continually seek and the new way to approach life I now hold so dear.

I’ve realized we are all imbued with the innate instincts to survive. We already possess all the power we will ever need inside of us.

I strive to cultivate an ability to quiet my mind from the myriad outside distractions of society. This practice is a nonstop work in progress as the diversions and disturbances will always try to conquer the mind.

I’ve embraced the uniqueness and variety in what each individual I know or meet brings to life. To never fear or criticize what is different from my own experience.

I’ve felt the effect of consuming and exuding positivity in my outlook and daily life.

Conversely, I notice the repercussions of absorbing too much negativity from mainstream media, poor dietary choices and comparison — as comparison (your life, your looks, your decisions sized up against others, society’s definitions and categories) is the thief of all joy.

I appreciate my alone time. My time in nature without seeing another soul for days.

I also recognize the full worth of interacting with others. We are social beings. We are not meant to be perpetually alone.

I unconditionally love my tribe. My cherished friends who truly accept me and have always been there for me. They are a small, but vital unit that will forever be a presence in my life. I would do anything for them a thousand times over.

I believe my family are the most important people in my life.

I’ve learned that stepping out of my comfort zone is the key to profound growth.

I now know that it’s OK to simply see the fish under the surface of the water. I don’t have to reach out and touch it. I don’t have to understand why things happen the way they do.

I’ve come to love me. To realize that my imperfections are not flaws, but gifts. They help make me unique.

On the flip side, despite being individuals, we are all one. We are cosmic creatures in human form. Regardless of the variations in our skin color, belief systems, cultures, languages, diets, customs — we are one in the same.

I know to control what I can and not worry about what is beyond my power.

I don’t take myself too seriously.

I make an effort to have time for anything and anyone. Being “too busy” is a fallacy.

I believe we are constantly shaped and changed by our everyday occurrences and encounters. That if you approach events and people in a positive way, you will receive that same positivity in return.

I don’t deny that there is suffering in life. But it is how you respond to suffering that will allow you to constantly bloom into the best and truest version of yourself.

I know that one day I will die and I don’t know what will happen afterward.

I know that however much time I have left in this world, whether I get one day or live to be 100, I will take pride in what I do and who I am. I will take chances. I will laugh loudly, love without condition, cry painfully (or happily)and feel deeply.

I will listen to my gut and endeavor to truly live my one, precious life to the fullest extent.