Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: craving

Scale and Space

Something that I didn’t consider when dreaming about Alaska was scale.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since I have no spacial relation sense – no idea how big or how far away something is, if this piece of furniture in the store will fit on the wall we plan to set it against, or how much smaller I am than the average woman.

But the vastness of Alaska – the height of the mountains, breadth of the rivers, massive muscle of moose, and gleaming stark white blaze that is Mount McKinley – all took my breath away.

As we traveled, listening to endless tour guide commentary, I couldn’t translate numbers into forms.

I couldn’t comprehend how the peak of Mount McKinley was actually 20,320 ft above sea level. Or how the bear we saw was probably 250 lbs. Or how Denali National Park is 6 million acres (I just Googled it again to be sure because that number seems unbelievable to me). Or that the whale tails we saw slinking into the ocean’s smooth surface, going for a deep dive, were as large as a truck. From the cruise ship balcony they looked like a pleated party favor fan, something to wave and cool you off in the mid-day sun.

Bald eagles looked like giant kites. Otters looked like fish. Helicopters looked like horseflies.

Many of our tour guides hoped for a Texan in the group so they could make the joke that everything actually *is* bigger in Alaska.

Just because I was thrown off continuously by scale and distance, doesn’t mean I didn’t love it. No. If anything, I wanted to sink into it, or I guess, more appropriately, be absorbed by it.

I wanted to dissolve into the space that is the Alaskan wilderness.

———-

Since returning, life is LA feels more bleached and burnt out than tropical and lovely. The sun is too strong, the plants all bone dry and dying from the drought, the line of traffic on our street ridiculous. I can’t shake the smell of engine exhaust and fertilizer.

I didn’t notice at the time if Alaska smelled sweet or fresh in the way you’d imagine all that open space would, all of the trees and rain rinsing and washing the air. But I can say now that it was fresh enough to not have a scent, some kind of pureness I accepted immediately, absorbing the oxygen like a plant inhales the sun.

———-

We traveled from windy, chilly Anchorage up through temperate Denali, and back down through the Inside Passage, where the cold from the Hubbard Glacier swept across our cruise balcony like a chill from ghosts. I only felt freezing on two days, and those involved glaciers and rain. I drank tea, hot chocolate, lattes. One morning I had a “molten glacier”, some concoction involving hot chocolate, chocolate liqueur and Brogans Irish Cream.

I lived in my SmartWool socks. I wore the hat my colleague knitted for me.

———-

Some areas are only accessible by sea plane, some only by train. Other areas people use snow mobiles, sled dogs or ATVs to get around. There is a gravel trail that runs parallel to the Parks Highway (Alaska Route 3) specifically for people to ride ATVs and snow mobiles. Boats get locked in frozen in overnight frosts in early September. Trucks fall into ice where a lake thawed out. Moose use the plowed highway as a more accessible path during winter months when the snow is too deep for them to walk comfortably in the woods. The moose-to-car ratio is not in anyone’s favor.

It was a trip of planes, trains, automobiles, boats, helicopters and buses. We had three bus rides over 2hrs, a 9hr train ride, and we cruised a total of 1,500 nautical miles. All of that and we didn’t cover even a quarter of the state.

———-

The Hubbard Glacier is 350 feet tall above the Yakutat Bay. It calves (breaks off) 10-story-building sized ice bergs. The blue is the most intense blue-sky-blue you will ever see. It seems so crystal clear you can hear it ringing.

———-

Somehow all of this has me craving more space, less city. I mean, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the walking-hawking-chaos that is New York City, but I thought I’d found a groove here in LA. Now it seems I’ve had a taste of wide open spaces (insert Dixie Chicks song here) and I want more.

More of less.

More space, less people. More quiet, less noise. More color, less concrete.

Vast and wild, scale and space

Hunger

Today is a day off, which is most excellent, because I’ve been craving a day off. I am relishing it.

It began with my morning pages. Almost every morning does, though a day or two is missed per month. Next, a nice, long walk with the dog at 7AM. The air was chilly and the sun just breaking the roof lines. Love. I listened to Jamie Ridler interview Rachel W. Cole while we walked.

Rachel spoke of her Well-Fed Woman interview series and her voice started knitting together feelings I’ve tried to express over the past few weeks. Some actual arousal in my body, the changing of the seasons, and a need that I’m not sure how to name, let alone fill. A hunger.

What I’ve been craving lately, in order from big to small:

  • The huge craving is to attend a creative retreat like Squam or Be Present. Right now time / cost prohibitive.
  • Launching a whole new blog with a professional bent. No idea where to begin.
  • Launching a video interview series of alumni. Serendipity is pushing this one forward. Scary shit.
  • Expanding this blog with more consistent posts and photography. Again, no idea.
  • Run a 10K which also means consistently training for one. Time, energy, etc.
  • Creating a presentation for a work trip at the end of the month. Perfection gremlins.
  • And lastly, to read more and watch TV less.

Rachel and Jamie spoke of projects and how creatives can feel unfocused because they have so many ideas.

Jamie: Creative people are project-oriented. We think we’re not focused… but projects create diversity.

Rachel: Projects and ideas come through me, they have their own timing, their own incubation period, their own birthing. I just tend to them and hold on to them and in time they come out.

But I see that just by listing out all the projects I’m hankering for, I can see they’re big, bold and yet it shouldn’t be too difficult to get moving on them.

Yesterday, I wrote in my journal…

What if I did a cleanse? What if, for 30 days, I worked out, slept enough, took deep care of myself, created space, removed sugar, drank enough water, watched less TV, didn’t drink alcohol? Would I attain some stability of clarity that I miss out on now? I don’t know. Interesting experiment though.

All of that is important and probably a bit more than I can chew, too restricting and black & white. But after the podcast this morning, I can see that my need to reorient my physical health, to control all of it in the name of deep self-care, is actually a superficial fix for the real issue.

Rachel: Hunger – are you connecting or disconnecting? Are you moving closer to yourself or further away from yourself?… It’s not so much what you’re hungry for, it’s what’s going on deeper than that.

Yes, sleep, water, exercise, good food are all great things to integrate into my life, but they’re kind of already there. And this “solution” is an echo of my pre-therapy days where I would think, “I’m so cranky today because I had Yogurtland last night” and not because I wasn’t allowing myself to feel something heavy or wouldn’t acknowledge something was bothering me.

But now I know.

Jamie: I was just really struck by the idea, the whole concept of ‘the well-fed woman’, you really struck on something and there’s something so sensitive in that hunger. It’s so vulnerable to be hungry.

Rachel: Yeah, and yet, it is the norm for many people, just to be in that state. I was actually thinking before this call, about how much more life I have, just space, to be creative or to have relationships, or to do meaningful work, space so much energy, mental energy, emotional energy, creative energy, time that used to be spent maintaining a level of hunger… It’s very transformative to live a life where no matter what the hunger is, that comes up for me, I meet it with “Alright” – my belief is that you should be fed whatever it is you are.

As I walked, I started to ask myself what time and energy I’m wasting “maintaining a level of hunger”. The question goes right to the gut. The fear of beginning, of not doing it perfectly, of how much time and energy the project may take, and especially of my not being “ready” are all ways I’m running myself around in circles instead of just doing the work.

I am hungry and it is vulnerable. There is something I need and now have to go about the process of asking for it and / or creating it. Requires putting myself out there, making time, working through the quick-fix cravings for something deeper. And it’s not to say that I need to back-hand myself into this place. This is not about being superior and better… it’s about allowing myself to just be and do and feel. To just create now. To stop withholding the nurturing food that my being craves. To feed myself and be well-fed.

Rachel: Creative ideas and bringing them to life is what made me come alive. I really believe that’s what we’re here to do.