British Columbia, Canada
After years in sports, I know that showing up is not enough. In fact the physical is the easy part, it is the mental, the mental management of the physical that is the key to it all, to performance, endurance and enjoyment.
And I had the pleasure of spending some time adventuring in the Canadian pacific northwest late this spring and was reminded that in back country sports, with a longer outlook, showing up with a combination of strength and grace is key. I could not gut out these sports with my usual burst of energy, and use recovery days for sore muscles. Rather on a paddling camp trip, on days after biking and hiking days, I needed to find a place in inner calm and really settle into each stroke, and be in the moment. My impatience would not serve me.
Instead it was a lesson in finding beauty in the moment and just being there in each paddle stroke, not considering the next one, or recalling the last. If I worried or wondered too much, I would frustrate myself and burn energy.
It was literally spatially constrained meditation, and was it stunning once I found the zen in it. Soaring pine forested mountains, topped by retreating snows high over salty fjord waters lapped with kitten paw waves whipped up by the sunset breezes. One night we watched the shifting palette of sunset mark time passing and distance gained across the fjord, as we slowly paddled towards the fading light and camp.
And skiing in 75' weather high above the chilly Pacific winding through the waterways between the islands and the Straight of Georgia, well, it was heaven, let's be perfectly clear. But it also again took a mental calm combined with cardio, to work through the heat and the excitement I felt about all the beauty to pace myself, in terms of energy, enthusiasm, and even hydration. I couldn't "blow out my hip-flexors" as people tend to do, if I wanted to come back for many runs over many days of earning my turns, skinning laps.
And in order to bring energy to the downhill I brought joy to the uphill, loving the duality of the work up and then flow down, which only make turns, and beers in between that much cooler and sweeter. I am hooked on this mode of skiing, meditation muscle and flow!
And in a bigger sense, with my genetic gifted migraines picking up significantly under the load of my mothers illness these last few years, I am intensely reminded of the joy, and blessing, of a healthy able body, the feeling of sweat pouring down my back, my lungs working in concert with my legs, my core and my back straining in balance, as my arms swing in cadence with my feet, and pulling me up a mountain, across a sound, or (god help me) up and down a mountain bike trail.
These are gifts not to be taken for granted, and the ability to play in the great outdoors is by no means a given. So even when I get cramps on a run and settle into the fact that the aches and pains are the good kind, the healthy and alive kind, man, do I want to do this kind of fully alive living every day, every hour.
Our physicality is the ultimate escape, and the great outdoors the best playground we will ever find! So until next time, body - and by that, I mean tomorrow...
Squirrel Island in Boothbay Harbor is an island outside of time, where the fog rolls in slowly and sea sounds and ferry times sound time time, everything moves at the pace of foot traffic, and folks greet each other with stories of their life since last summer, the cottage they are staying in and whom they know - how we are all connected.
Coming here towards the end of summer as we have done for five years now, being greeted, and then greeting friends in turn at the ferry, is always beautifully bittersweet. The best way to see out the end of summers golden light. We walk the islands boardwalk daily, coffee or beverage in hand, take in the seabirds, lobster boats and ships passing by. The plants and changes in the houses, moving through the day only as fast as we choose to, where there are no wheeled vehicles and limited service life becomes blessedly human.
Although not a native "Squirrel" myself, I am now in the fold, having come enough and created connections and stories of my own, I now know folks when we gather at Cow Rocks or the Pump for cocktails (the first simply just flat topped rocks jutting into the small ferry harbor, the latter, literally a water pump.)
There are no stores, no shops, no "conveniences" of the mainland here, and again, with a bit of planning this is a gift. The teas hop sells ice cream occasionally, musically inclined guests play the bells in the old church Saturday evenings, as it probably has been for decades, and now the post office boxes are idle, but they do receive fancy commodities like mail order food and clothing for islanders. And one small "illegal" but well known shop in a seaside house sells all things squirrel your heart could ever desire, and then some.
Families have returned for generations; baptized, and married, even memorialized out of the church whose directions of noted simply on stump nearby, carved "Church" with an arrow. And the houses remain largely unchanged, paper thin bead board walls, wide barn plank floors worn smooth, and eclectic old furniture from bygone era's. Each house has different quirks, but all have fingerprints of past generations adding charm and meaning, heights marked on the walls, school primers and sports achievements on the bookshelves, posters of plays and concerts put on for summer entertainment from the 40's, 60's and 70's.
Places like this are pure gold. You cannot create them in our fast paced age of constant connectivity to elsewhere and disconnection to the past and moment you stand in. Squirrel Island, is a place apart where one can sit and look back through time, move back through time even, and be a part of it all, at peace with the simple beautiful history, oneself and ones place in it all. There is no urgency here, only calm quiet being, and the knowledge that not only is that enough, but that it just may be the greatest gift there is.
There is nothing more glorious, and an accessible reminder of the freedom at our finger tips than walking out the door, hopping in the car, and getting lost, to find the yourself.
It can be easy to feel trapped or isolated, in our modern culture of contentedness, in ones work, town, community or even home. But especially in the US, land of the road trip, we can find instant adventure with the rediscovery of limitless potential, even if it is just for an afternoon, a weekend of roaming freely.
In exploring new ground, by meeting new people and gaining new perspectives, literally and figuratively, we push back the walls we may feel on our own life, in our own limits.
This is one of my favorite Saturday pastimes, or ways to use vacation time. When the road unfurls before you, and you can know you might turn left, or you might turn right, neither is wrong, both will bring adventure...! You can feel the full breath filling your lungs and the stress leaving your shoulders. You find the extraordinary in your daily life, no passport or plan required, in fact, better off without those! Just the open road, open mind and a free spirit!
Camping and eating our way through the long weekend in Maine, doing it right!
Three years ago I picked up this little beast as a Christmas foster. As you can see from the look in her eyes, just 15 minute after arriving home, Mia had decided this was in fact her home. And 2 months later, after cataract surgeries & watching her bravely struggle to move beyond her past to forgive and love humans in spite of abuse, neglect and a life in a cage, I knew she had my heart, and that this was her home.
Mia was an extreme rescue case, a dog who logically it made no sense to save. She was too damaged, old and expensive, but like most dogs, she showed extraordinary resilience and forgiveness. She has been nothing but a blessing and a great partner in crime. She went from a fearful but determined little ‘senior’ to a spunky animal who changes hearts and minds everywhere we go. Paws New England specializes in saving dogs who no one would think are ‘worth it.’
So this Saturday, when I got a call that Paws New England really needed a Rescue Driver as they had two dire situations, it was a chance to say thank you, help out & really be a part of Christmas! I was in a position to help, so how could I say no! So Tuesday, just 3 days later I headed to Memphis to play a small part helping in the amazing work Paws New England does all year round, saving animals who would have no chance at all without these miracle workers.
Flying high on my way to Memphis to start the adventure, and meet Ralphie the beagle, the animals I will take part in helping, and the Paws New England Team!
If you know me, you know you say the words Crazy Adventure and I say where?!! Add in a good cause and I'm all in!
Highs and lows.
I walked into the house tonight and passed three impossibly cute floppy puppies, saved from an online puppy swap, a very bad place to be bartered off, but who are now heading to loving foster homes.
And I met Noel & Donner. Noel’s story is too difficult for me to process right now, but she is safe & someday she may be well.
Something did a number on Donner's face, and much of his torso, attacking him badly. He is sweet devoted nonetheless, and gentle as a lamb, and is regaining visible confidence daily. He will stay with his amazing foster Mom a while longer to find is confidence and heal before he travels to a forever home. He'll be a winner for some lucky family once he is healed, so handsome.
Love, and the necessary willingness to wade into the sadness and muck to give it,
achieves so much.
Happier news, since flying into Tennessee, I had dinner with a remarkable group of people who open their homes and save countless animals as foster parents, transporters, vets, shelter volunteers & on and on. We had a blast but what really struck me was how everyone would tell me how special ‘so and so’ was, when they all create miracle for animals who have no chance without them. They all are remarkable humans, but don’t stop to think about it, they just open their hearts and homes daily.
I guess we are all part of solution. It is a relief that no one has to solve something so big and challenging alone, but for there to be a solution and hope, we must all engage and be a part of the effort, doing whatever it is we can.
And I met this little bat eared cutie, who escaped the certain death, and is headed to Michigan where she will give some family a serious run for their money with her curious smart ways. I adore her!
Every morning should start with a rescue puppy in one hand and coffee in the other. I’m not a morning person, but this definitely puts pep in your step!
This guy was literally intercepted by a miracle of timing from entering the doors of an 85% kill shelter in downtown Memphis.
Luck is on your side, little buddy, good life in Michigan!
This is Ralphie, my co-pilot, and beagle extraordinaire. He is paralyzed in his lower half but chipper & sweet, and as you can see already has his eyes on the prize of a foster in Connecticut that specializes in disabled but oh so able willed pups.
Let the cuteness commence, there are actually 2 more of these guys! Little chow mixes with purple tongues, curly tails, and strong opinions.
Kelly, one of the driving forces behind Paws, an amazing human. It is Tuesday morning, and she is driving the other van to Michigan with Noel, the dingo cutie, and the lucky puppy. I will head to CT, NH and MA with my passengers. (Can you tell I am not a morning person?)
The social media engine is in full swing to raise funds for Ralphie and Noel, who will need a lot of financial support to get some semblance of health, but hundreds of people tune in and support Paws along the way as they watch the stories unfold. Social media is such a powerful tool in the battle for good!
A disabled beagle with a heart of gold, 8 ridiculously cute puppies, a sweet teen aged dog, two kittens & a partridge in a pear tree!
'Rudolph's Ride,' as we have been dubbed for the social media following, I am Cindy Lou Who, whose curiosity and spunk I admire, is underway, with our 12 animals naturally.
We are headed north (New England) in our red vehicle for the holidays and homes! I'd say this is what Christmas is all about, people coming together to help those in need, show love and create more opportunity for love, and loving homes!
Ralphie is of the opinion that puppies are a bit loud, better seen and not heard, though he's sweet with them. He also, wants to know, 'are we there yet?' (We are 3 hours into what turns out to be a 27 hour drive)
He is impressively mobile, given that his back legs don’t work. It is a bit inconvenient for this trip, but fabulous for his future! He is determined to be close and to wrap himself around my feet, and has intense persistence I find admirable. It has to be what kept him alive on the streets for 2 years with no use of his back legs, it is unimaginable! He is unstoppable.
First stop with my herd of puppies. I have got to work on efficiency, which they're all for thwarting as they just want to be held and chew. I would love that too, but we must focus on hustling and getting home(s) for Christmas.
It is totally adorable chaos, a bit overwhelming at times, but just 2 days and for the best reasons!
This gorgeous girl is scared but loving. When she comes out of her shell she just wants to hug and nestle her head under your chin. Nothing else but to be loved. She will have families vying to give her love, and deserves all of it and more!
It is the year of the road trip for me, although the mission here is entirely different than my healing exploration out to and through to Montana. I am barely noticing anything beyond the road and the pups. We are all about putting miles behind us on the night shift.
And I feel very fortunate to have an experienced pinch hitter come in for the predawn driving shift, 3-7am, so we can keep on going nonstop to get these guys to their forever homes! And I can snag a bit of sleep, then keep driving north when we drop Loren off in Connecticut!
You have come by way of sorrow,
you have come by way of tears,
but you'll reach your destiny
meant to find you all these years
You who once were left behind
Will be welcome at Loves table...
Gone the tears that you have wept
You'll dance in freedom ever after...
- By Way of Sorrow By Cry Cry Cry
[Songs you play at 1 am on a rescue ride when DJing for sleeping pups, & kittens, when you're getting a bit punchy. It is one of my favorite songs, about moving beyond a sad past and on into a beautiful future. Fortunately it garnered little response from my passengers.]
‘Good mornin New England! We drove through the night & we're in CT, heading for New Hampshire and ready for Christmas with families who will love & spoil us!’
Ralphie is now safe in an amazing foster home because of dozens of extraordinary people who did not give up on him just because he is disabled!
Your heart and determination are humbling. Thank you Ralphie, you are a beautiful inspiring soul. Goodbye (for now) & happy life little man!
[On Friday his foster Mom said he slept the deep sleep a dog does when they really understand their work of defending themselves and their journey is over. I am so deeply happy for him.]
And then there were three, the quarter pounder stowaways, and I.
I handed off the puppies, and the beautiful Melly Rose, in NH where they will barely touch down in the lovely Conway shelter before being scooped up into homes in time for the holidays.
Time for me to get some kitten love before these two head to the south shore of Massachusetts and a home of their own.
And that's a wrap!!!
A little over 48 hours after I flew out of Boston Tuesday (if my sleep deprived math is right) all 12 dogs, puppies and kittens are in their interim or final homes with bright futures, thanks to a truly awesome team effort by the beautiful Paws New England network.
Thanks for letting me be a part of saving precious lives, getting to know these sweet beings, and bringing joy to 12 lucky families!
Because, we all know, it is our rescues who rescue us, in the end.
And a Thursday tbt, as I'm getting asked for more cuteness, two of the chow pups.
The shell shocked look on my face was from finding out I had a dozen animals to bring north Wednesday morning as the van was being filled up like a Jenga puzzle. It was a bit daunting!
Thankfully, we arrived safely and it all worked out beautifully,
like a Christmas movie, now I’m off for a long winters nap!!!
Happy lives little animals!
And although this is not my usual post, please go hug your little beast, or anyone's, it is good for all. And give what you can to help beings without a voice; food, time, or money, all are needed.
Anything helps, and after all, it's Christmas!
Some of my favorites ;
I bowled the ball, bocce style, for my slightly myopic dog across the dirt lot of the only store in Buffalo Ridge, South Dakota. The pumps of the defunct gas station were so bleached out they looked like they hadn’t been used in 50 years, and there was not a human in sight. It was early October but the 40 mile an hour wind whipped up the 34’ air to a cutting chill that made memories of surfing on a perfect New England Indian summer afternoon a few days earlier seem like a figment of my imagination.
I had my doubts about trying to cross the vastness of South Dakota, which seemed as uncharted and mysterious as a vast body of water, in the rising darkness, on half a tank of gas.Read More
Dreaming of the open road this rainy Thursday, the ultimate freedom of not quite knowing where you're going, with just that touch of fear to really know you're alive!
This is just outside the Eastern Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, in the Shoshone River Valley at sunset. It is a place I hope to return to, to explore on horseback someday. All of the spires, arches, caverns and plateaus in the rosy hued rock were magnetic, another place to add to the list, that slippery slope.
#ShoshoneRivervalley #wyoming #yellowstone #chasethelight
We explored the Saratoga Springs State Park and old spa, reading the early carvings from the 1800’s, purporting the curative powers of the waters, some of the claims were very impressive!
#roadtrip #eastbound #saratogasprings #borntoroam
Pastoral New England beauty in the chilly light... I do love New England with all it's glorious little farms and villages and remarkable seasons. Proud to be from here although now I am far prouder to be an American than I was before. What a beautiful complicated wild place-and I just saw a bit.
#roadtrip #eastbound #borntoroam
One last wing pup shot from the road. Mia, listening intently (she did lift her head, or eyebrow occasionally) as I talked about the road trip just being the start of the adventures we will have.
I’m pretty sure her thoughts were ‘sure, sure, you know, where you go, I go.’
The best furry company a girl could have.
#borntoroam #Miasophia #rescuedog #homeward
On the eastern shores of Lake Erie in the golden light of a fading season, lovely autumn is not quite done here. I am glad for this as I adore this season. And yes of course she swam, & drank it - classic Mia.
As we explored we found shells, and what seemed like a tidal line, perhaps it is a storm line instead, but the ocean goer I am, I never thought to wonder if the Great Lakes are big enough effected by the tidal pulls of the moon. How fascinating to ponder, and sort of a bending of what I think I know to be true. That is always one of the greatest gifts of travel!
#roadtrip #eastbound #Miasophia #lakeerie #fall #waterlove #chasingthelight
Birds flying as the seasons change... they are always the surest signs of change.
#roadtrip #Miasophia #rescuedog #girlsbestfriends
Yes, it’s definitely that time! A night on the town is overdue.
#adirondacks # #roadtrip #fridays #eastbound
Chicago, you’re a stunner. I just wandered the streets and loved all the architectural history on every block, I wish I remembered more from my studies. It is amazing how shocking and massive a city seems after so short a time in the quiet of the mountains.
The largest city in South Dakota was but a blip on my way westbound, and eastbound seemed like a massive parking lot of trucks and fast food chains and people. Life is so relative, and being adaptive has it's upsides and downsides.
#eastbound #roadtrip #visitingoldfriends #cultureshock
‘Wherever you are, You know that I adore you, No matter how far, Well, I can go before you.
And if you ever need someone, Well not that you need helping,
But if you ever want someone, Know that I am willing...’
Damien Rice - 'I don't Want to Change You'
Photo from the Bedouin Writer Tumblr, so utterly romantic!
#wildwest #twofortheroad #wisewords
Mia’s reflections on the Midwest, maybe she’s a bit harsh.
#Miasophia #roadtrip #dogeyebrows #eastbound
I should have known Mia would feel the need to swim in the Mississippi River and drink it when we stopped on French’s Island in La Cross, Iowa. (I’m just glad she wasn’t with me when I visited the Ganges River in Kolkata ;)
I can’t blame her though, river water and all, we’re all in kind of girls, each in our own ways.
#roadtrip #eastbound #borntoroam #Miasophia
I admit there is truly a different freedom, a spirit or air to the west, where you can breath and be. I admire that so much, and want to carry that with me. A willingness to be, in solitude, with a group, however you are, to be.
I think it is something the most truthful people always seek, but it often is challenging or awkward to others, and people can resist this spirit... I think it is beautiful
Bighorn National Forest is stunning. I hope to come back someday and see the Wyoming Dolomites on the Western side properly, in daylight, on foot. I only saw the wild beauty of the eastern side of the high pass, over 9000 feet, in the morning when we woke in the hunting lodge where I called it quits.
We drove up the western side in the darkness, total silence. I could see some of the dolomite spires as perfect black against the starry night sky, occasional shooting star distracting me from my slow and steady pace up a steep road I know was surrounded by crazy drops, as well as marked by signs for fallen rock and elk crossing. Hence deciding reaching the top of the pass was good enough for one night and wandering into a very local hunting lodge for the night.
Speaking of elk, Mia was fired up to chase the elk the hunters were after in the morning! She was less then enthused about the 'road trip command' and settled in grumpily for a 350 mile haul.
#eastbound #eastbound #roadtrip
The open beauty of Sheridan Valley, where the Lone Mountain Ranch horses winter, and antelope graze the fields. The geology that created such topography must be fascinating, it is all so different from what I know.
On a ridiculously comic note, today in South Dakota. Mia was yet again determined to get an (albino) prairie dog as a consolation prize/pet for our homeward trip. Hopping the fence in her focus, she matched their squeaks with plaintive whines & whistles, begging for friendship.
As on our westbound stop in the Badlands, they weren’t having any of it. You can see them in the background confidently ignoring her as they play.
Poor Mia, she hated the National Park dog regulations (very reasonable really,) & has been on strike since leaving Montana, sitting on top of my bags and moping around the car, not that I blame her.
Wispy twilight clouds over the ocean like rolling & rippling topography of eastern South Dakota. I’m a fan of the austere meditative beauty.
#southdakota #chasingthelight #borntoroam #notallwhowanderarelost
This trip has been a gift but yesterday was sacred;
a day with a thousand breathtaking images & few adequate words.
I explored the earthy beauty of Yellowstone under blue skies &
in the golden light of an impossibly warm fall day,
in almost eerie solitude, just a few fisherman & the rare tourist.
It took my breath away to have such day &
made me want to stay in each awesome moment forever.
Where I felt small, blessed, grateful & so very much alive.
I am a wanderer at heart,
although I have finally learned the priceless gem
that you don’t have to leave home to discover, wander and adventure –
you just have to be present, open, and alive.
But this trip with the open road,
no plan and the freedom to chase the moment,
to follow the beauty and a whim…
truly 'not all who wander are lost'
and I am fortunate indeed.
We are on the road again. Sad to leave Montana, but yesterday was an epic day in Yellowstone, a once in a lifetime kind day!
(Mia is being a goofball, part of her ‘but why are we leaving the mountains’ attitude...)
#roadtrip #eastbound #yellowstone #Miasophia
The living barometer, the algae health through it's colors tells that all is well in the temperatures in this part of the Norris Geysers. #yellowstone #borntoroam
Mary’s Bay in Yellowstone Lake looks stunningly placid but below in the depths are some of the hottest temps measured in the park & a volatile fissure which causes quakes & will eventually blow. #wildbeauty #gratitude #geology
You could actually see down into the water just a bit, watching the bubbles emerge. I so want to really see down into the earth, to know what goes on underneath, in the caverns and underground rivers where the earth is so alive and active!
Fantastic, but stinky :) Is it weird that all the mud pots and lava holes make me think of spa treatments…?
It does look a bit like a troll is coming out of the upper steam opening. It is all so alien. I love all the colors of the waters, algae, mud and so on... so dynamic!
The Yellowstone Grand Canyon, it looked even more epic & painterly in person, with jaw dropping scale, colors & sculptural qualities that I could barely comprehend.
I think one of the falls is twice the size of Niagara, but I was just fixated by the sights and taking it all in. #yellowstone #wildbeauty #falllight
So this happened today in East Yellowstone!
I don't think he appreciated me trying to pass on the outside, or Ben Harper, so I gave him & the crew right of way!
A beautiful animal but those are some serious horns and the scarring seems to suggest he doesn't mind using them when needed. I am fond of my car...
They really were taking it all back as the humans dissipated with the winter, animals were everywhere, another fabulous thing about missing the manic summer season.
#roadtrip #animalstakebackthepark #buffalo #yellowstone #freedom