An exploration of the coast and tribute to my cousin

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Happy December everyone!

November started off grand with my 33rd birthday and some beautiful fall weather and exploration- but then I got sick and had a rough time battling infections. I am feeling better now and here is December and with it, winter already.

As the temperatures drop and snow comes to some places- I often try to stay warm with bunny hats and hot tea, and think of warmer days like summertime. Here are a few days I would like to share with you today.

Ian and I have been able to explore some of the Oregon beaches, aka, the Oregon Coast this year. There is a huge stretch of them and we have been to Cannon Beach and Newport. I would love to explore more as well; one cool note is the beaches are considered public for the people! Here’s an article with more info on the Oregon Beach Bill: https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/oregon_beach_bill/#.XA2aa-JRfIU

We went in July to Cannon Beach when it was 90s-100 temperature in Portland, and it was about 20-30 degrees cooler at the beach! This might be a bit of change for some folks used to warmer beaches- and folks don’t swim as much either due to the cooler temps of the water as well- but I thought it was a nice change from the hot city.  We saw a lot of jellyfish and other people too!

We walked to a less populous spot to have a picnic and stared into the ocean and saw a rock that had a lot of birds flying on it- I couldn’t really see up close but I wished I was seeing puffins- since they do come around there according to this sign:

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Here are some more pictures from our trek and picnic!

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Newport is another lovely city. I have been there a few times before and this time was all about love and connecting to my Oregon family and mourning and celebrating the life of my cousin Jack, who died this summer and loved Newport a lot.

We stayed at a nice hotel called the Hallmark Resort Hotel with a beautiful view of the ocean.

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We explored some of the areas and parks in Newport and surrounding areas:

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We enjoyed learning more about a place Jacked love and we had a beautiful service for him at the end of our visit. I thought of him a lot as I stared into the sea, and sent love and hoped he was at peace.

Here’s a poem I wrote for Jack back in 2006 when I first visited Oregon and fell in love with it and vowed to move there- which we did 12 years later, and we are happy to explore and be here with my Oregon family. Family are people and places. Stay warm and be with your loved ones!

Whispering Winds

Listen my friend,

Can you hear it?

The soft echoes stretching far and wide

You tremble with not knowing,

What they are truly are saying.

Just open your heart a little wider-

And soon the voices make sense;

The whispering winds are telling you secrets-

Things you already know-

But all you have to do is smile,

And say “Let it Be,”

Soon after the winds grow tired-

You say to them, “Pass on,”

They fly gently away into the sky,

You nod and sigh.

The whispering winds told you tales,

But you know the truth,

And you know,

All is well,

Because you listened with your heart.

 

Healing Power of Nature!

Hi everyone!

I have been wanting to write a blog post before this month ended and look it’s September tomorrow already. Wow! 2020 has been a weird and crazy year!

I have been thinking a lot about the healing power of nature in these times that you can access from your backyard to your local parks. I think people are realizing the importance of nature for your mental and physical health and beyond. For me, I have been trying to return to the reciprocal relationship that Robin Wall Kimmerer mentions in her beautiful book of essays, Braiding Sweetgrass. For example, I am enjoying exploring new county parks and I am also working at some this season so there is a balance where I get to appreciate the flowers, insects, birds, and give back to nature by picking up a lot of trash, weed whacking so more plants can grow, and enforcing rules so people can support their local parks’ budgets too.

I am so grateful for this work experience and the chance to be in open parks during this uncertain time. I have a lot of anxiety that has been rampant with everything going on, and when I am in nature I can truly see myself relax and let go of the worries. It is important to have this self-reflection time in nature to be with your true self and I think nature has been healing me. I don’t get so caught up in the media with it’s instant frantic news and judgements with a very divided America. I can see above it all and go back to my purpose in life- to give and receive love. I give love to nature, and nature gives love to me. I can return to my gratitude practice that has sustained me since I was 18 years old and be thankful for the lessons and blessings on this planet. Someday I would like to go back to school and get a certificate or Master’s Degree in Positive Psychology and do research on the healing powers of nature and how gratitude plays a role as well. Positive Psychology doesn’t forget about the hard times in life, but gives us tools to be resilient and strong to get through them.

I can tune in to my inner guidance in nature, and return to my best version of myself so I can help others and the world. I want parks to be accessible to all to enjoy and for everyone to be kind back to nature. I know life’s more complicated than that so just focus on the small steps that we individually can do.

There’s a lot going on as we navigate these strange times, so be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and be kind to this planet. Here are some photos of some of the adventures Ian and I have enjoyed in our local Clackamas County Parks going in later hours in the evening with not many people at all so could be physically distanced(don’t worry we had masks available in case we needed them). We got an annual pass since I am working seasonally as a Ranger at Hebb Park which is in the cover photo, and thought we could explore the others to get more acquainted.

Madrone Wall Park- rock climbers’ paradise and peregrine falcons and turkey vultures like it too
Barton Park- a floater’s delight
Eagle Fern with a cool bridge and old growth forest!
Wilhoit Springs-an old spa for folks in the late 1800s

Much love to you all,

Anna

What can I say besides thank you?

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all of your support with my last blog. I had been going through some self love and purpose coaching and wanting to share my voice more with people and then the racial injustices of this country were brought to light again and the global pandemic of Covid-19 continued and I paused on sharing my thoughts.

Could I share the “right” thing? Would I be offensive? Would I help or hinder? Was I clinging to the “wrong” side; what is the right or wrong side anyway? I had to pause and reflect again. And I was silent online more and trying to listen to others, donate to organizations helping in the causes I cared about, and trying to connect to others and this world in this unprecedented time.

I was definitely repeating my mental patterns and thought of “Anna don’t say anything if it’s not the right thing to say” But then I realized my right is not going to be your right, so what do I want to focus on to help in this crazy time?

It always comes back to love and gratitude for me. Yes, those are universal concepts that can’t change a political system but having love for myself and others allows me to be stronger to focus on the causes I want to help with. I get overwhelmed sometimes too on the many causes that need help in this world, but then I balance myself and then I can focus on taking the little steps, like voting, talking and writing my elected leaders in my local community about issues that I care about, picking up trash, and being more respectful and mindful of my actions/words/choices and trying to be kind and compassionate to others.

Getting a seasonal full-time Assistant Park Ranger job was a blessing in this time as well for me. It could allow me to work again in parks, and learn and give back to nature. Nature is a healing place for me and I receive so many gifts in it. The position been challenging physically since learning a lot of maintenance skills like mowing, weed whacking, leaf blowing, and enforcing rules more, but I am so grateful. It’s a beautiful park called Hebb Park in West Linn, Oregon.

Hebb Park at Sunset, it is mostly boaters that enjoy the Willamette River
Mom and Dad visited and got to see me in my Ranger outfit

At this time I am reading one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer which blends indigenous wisdom and botany and focusing on this relationship we have to nature/our planet in lovely essays, and I have been thanking Earth and all it’s creatures each day as a prayer per her example of the Indigenous reciprocal relationship with nature. I wrote a poem as well that I hope conveys this gratitude and connection that I have to nature.

When I see the beauty in nature,

I know it has your hand in it.

The blue, pink, and orange skies,

The trees dancing in the winds,

The flowers blooming with buzzing bees,

The grass that lets me walk softly on it.

To see such amazing sites I have to pause,

And reflect on how much the Divine is in everything,

The little moments and the big ones that you can see or notice,

Pause and be grateful; my new prayer is “Thank you, God.”

I am thankful for every second I get to see this beautiful world,

And I thank all the trees, flowers, bees, and birds that are singing-

We are all connected; it shows in this moment.

So pause and count your blessings,

Pause and help nature when you can,

Pause and say thank you,

Pause and give and receive love,

Pause at God’s gifts and the learning classroom that is Earth.

“Thank you, God” is my prayer every morning and every night,

And I play my part to help keep us all connected and to see the gifts in every moment.

Much Love to you all, Anna

My Voice

Hello my dears,

How are you? This has been such a unprecedented time for the world- with still much uncertainty to come but for me taking it day by day is helping and using this time of unemployment/reset to reflect.

I started this blog to keep in touch with folks as I moved across the USA. I think originally I wanted it to be about my travels and experiences out west here to show you all. It has morphed somewhat into different thoughts/themes but that is the essence of who I am; I shift and change and enjoy many things.

I didn’t start a blog to gain fame but help keep in touch and share some of my wisdom and my writer’s voice. Reflecting back on my past posts, I think there is a certain rhythm or message I am conveying in each one. I may not be the best writer!(who really is though? Okay JK Rowling is up there.) However, it has been very therapeutic for me to journal and share my thoughts and adventures.

Since this is a reflection time for me, I wanted to reach out to you readers/dear ones, would you like me to continue in this way? I know my adventure posts have slowed down with Covid-19 and technology issues(I can’t seem to get my latest photos off my Iphone to share with you adventures from many months.) I am getting through by being present and grateful in this uncertain time and to reflect more on on my life, and what I do want to change or aspire to. I have been going through self-love and purpose coaching which has been very eye-opening as well. I am learning more about my voice and what I want to say to the world.

Ian and I have been in Oregon now over 2 years and it has been challenging for sure, especially with trying to find jobs we enjoy/that give us meaning and making new friends. With my military like upbringing as a child to adult life, I always have this question at the back of my mind, “How long will I be here?” I think it allows me to explore more of the place I am in, but I also detach from settling in too much.

I would like to continue to explore the Pacific NW once it is deemed safe to do so and more of Western USA and Canada. I hope we can all resume traveling soon! I have had a couple interviews for a park job, so cross your fingers! It has been tough since quitting my corporate position to feeling very stuck on my next step; but I currently see the unstuck realizations happening now. But I am here with my strong, calm, quiet, and comforting voice to say, “I am here, I want to help this world and connect us all.” What voice do you want to share with the world? Please share your voices with me and if you like me to continue this blog! PS I am still working on typing up my poem book and attending a Transformational Book Breakthrough Quest with Christine Kloser right now that is motivating me to write this blog and reflect more on my audience as well.

I love you and I am a big blog fan of other bloggers and blogs, and I appreciate you reading my personal one that like I said is not destined for fame/fortune, but I am grateful and proud I put my words out there and achieved my dream of having a blog and sharing some of my wisdom through my writer’s voice.

Kindly,

Anna

Tools to help in this time

Hello my loves,

How are you doing? I know there’s a lot of emotions running through our minds in this unprecedent time. I have been up and down and all around in mine. I have been focusing on my tools that I have to stay mentally balanced in this hard time. Some tools that I use are daily journaling, contemplation and meditation, yoga every day, a little walk around my apartment complex to see the sun and trees, and I started birding from my window (so far, some sparrows and European Starlings mostly!) There are also so many organizations and people offering their skills/passions with free webinars, Zoom meetings, or Facebook live streaming. The science of positive psychology is helping me a lot to focus on gratitude, mindfulness, to stay present, and focus on what I can control; some folks I recommend are Louisa Jewell (offering free watercooler chats to talk about resilience concepts with folks and connecting) and Greater Good Science Center on Facebook. Melissa Etheridge concerts are so uplifting; that is one positive and loving lady (daily at 3pm Pacific time on Facebook live) I am also working with some coaches to keep building up my self-love and confidence to move forward in this time and beyond and what I want to cultivate with my future career. I also love Zoom yoga class sessions with my family (my sister Bekah teaches at a studio called Yoga Blend in Burbank, CA), and Skype, What’s App, Facebook Messenger, and Zoom calls and texts with loved ones.  I never knew that technology could connect us in a positive way and I am so grateful for it at this time.
What are some tools or methods you are using to help you in this time? I miss you all and think of you often. Here if you want to chat or text! 😊

Virtual big hugs,

Love, Anna

PS it is Spring! See pretty flowers blooming or birds gathering their nests together? This flower is from a spring walk at Balls Bluff in the DMV area we went on before we moved to Oregon. Spring is one of my favorite seasons to see different wildflowers bloom, I think this is a trout lily! Hope you can walk around your house/neighborhood/etc even for a few minutes to see this season!

Hu, a love song to God!

Hi my friends and family,

How are you doing? I know it is hard right now with the frenzy of the media and the uncertainty about coronavirus. I have been feeling anxious and worrisome as well. But then I return to my breath and carve some time to go inward. My spiritual path is called Eckankar, and it’s the Path of Spiritual Freedom and I grew up in Eckankar and though I respect a lot of other paths and religions this is the one that has made the most sense to me. In Eckankar, we make time for ourselves to go within, similar to prayer and meditation and can practice spiritual exercises. It usually takes about 5-20 minutes to sing or chant outloud or inwardly, a spiritually charged word that helps you to balance yourself and contemplate on something like an image of a beach or a loved one or you can send love out to the world. That’s what I do when I sing the word, Hu; it’s pronounced hue. It’s an ancient name for God, Holy Spirit, the Divine, or whatever you believe in. I sing Hu to calm my anxious mind and think about my teachers who have guided me along in my life, and my friends and family, and send loving thoughts to the world. This helps me to focus on the present moment and my goal of giving service to others by being kind and loving. I know each day will be different, and some more challenging than the next, but this helps center me and remind me what this life is all about. It is about learning, and giving and receiving love, and helping God in ways that we can. That is what I believe and it helps me to have meaning and keep trekking each day. What practices do you have to help you in these times? I hope you can do them and find some calm and awareness to help us rise above the fear so we can be compassionate and empathic and keep moving forward!

PS here comes spring and cherry blossoms! This pic is from Washington D.C. I do love this time of year and cherry blossoms remind me of the wonder of life, how they can get through the cold winter and blossom and then continue on the journey, and so can we!

Lots of love, Anna

February musings

Hello everyone,

As I ponder this life transition as I look for a new job, I have been able to reflect and look back at my past. A lot of my dreams have been around writing and traveling so I am grateful I have been able to do both in this space. I am working on typing up and hopefully publishing a book of poems to give to my dear ones. I am a private person as you know so I find that I open up more in my writings and want to give that gift to you and hope that you enjoy the poems. Here is one I found from 2006 when I was in love with a former boyfriend and I think it reflects each person I have loved and the gift that is each of you.

Titled Thank You

I caught a star one day,

When I wasn’t looking.

It fell so quietly into my hands.

It sparkled with love and hope.

It gave me something to smile at,

And to believe in.

And most importantly, it showed me how to love.

Today, I say thank you;

Because that star that I found,

That star was you!

Love, Anna

2020 here we are!

A new decade so here we are! What do you want to manifest this year and in the upcoming decade? Take a walk with me along the beach like in the picture above.

For me:

I would like a new job by June 1!

I would like to keep traveling and stay connected to my loved ones.

I would like to pay off my student loans.

I would like to keep giving service to this world.

How about you? Sometimes it is tough to imagine what you want to be and the realities of the day. Inhale some fresh ocean breaths and exhale to let go.

Try to think about it more and put it out there! For me writing it out helps in a list, or planner, or journaling, or if you are into vision boards/collages too!

Let’s go for those dreams and ride those waves to our goals! Happy January and 2020!

Love, Anna

What is your purpose?

Hello my friends and family,

It has been a while. I was just reviewing my past blog posts and see it was August since I posted last. It has been on my to do list each month and I admit I held back from it because I haven’t been feeling my usual chipper self. I think it is important to acknowledge all of our emotions and mental health state and I have been in a stressful one for a while now. I have missed working in a nature park and being in the human resources field in a corporate environment again has brought me down. I take full-responsibility for my thoughts and actions and that is a good step to making changes that I need and helping me find my purpose.

That is something I have been thinking about this year, what is my purpose? I believe it to be a light in this world to help others. But I have been trying to figure out how? By volunteering? In my job that brings me down? How can I be a light when I feel negative? This pondering includes a lot of questions that will vary for each person. I think we do need to acknowledge our pain and fear that holds us back from pursuing our passions and purpose. I have “Imposter syndrome” sometimes where I feel like I am not smart enough, don’t have a good memory for much, or couldn’t possibly be an expert in anything. But a friend just told me yesterday that we all go through that- and she is quitting her job to go back to go to Graduate School to pursue her passion in science and that inspires me. I am inspired by other people exploring and going for their passions. I love customer service, positive psychology, nature, and giving service so what can I do with those passions? I can quit my current position and go for a job in a positive work space where I can develop and learn more about the natural world of Oregon and hopefully work in a park or something related to helping the environment. I am concerned about the future of this planet for future generations so I think a park environment would be the best place to show others the importance of this Mother Earth and to help protect it.

I am also passionate about traveling. We get to go to Virginia again in a few weeks to see some more of our loved ones so I am looking forward to that. I did promise you some more pictures from more of our summer(to present) adventures so here you go.

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Cottonwood Canyon was one of our favorite new Oregon state parks we discovered- used to be a ranch and nice to see some of Oregon’s more desert like landscapes(Also the cover photo for this blog was taken there too- we loved this place- it was hot and great to walk around and play in the river)

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Dahlia festival- so many flower festivals in Oregon!

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A nice reminder in Missouri from Harry Potter

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Loved this Botanical Gardens in St Louis, Missouri

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A big plant at the garden!

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Me in my pink element at the garden

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We loved St. Louis, nice to walk around parks like this one and eat some good food

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Elephant Rocks Park, looks like a turtle rock here to me!

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Had a family reunion and my cousin recommended Elephant Rocks on the way to St Louis!

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We got to bond with my cousin Jason this summer and his cute dog here Bullseye in the Columbia river by his floating home

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Love the skylines here in Oregon

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Santa Monica, CA, nice to visit my nephew/sis and see some of the sunny and warm CA

I did get to see a lot of Oregon State Parks this year with Ian like we wanted and more to explore. We have done a lot this year and even though job wise I haven’t been where I want to be yet, I can’t deny that we have seen a lot and have some wonderful memories here in Oregon and travels in California and Missouri!

I am looking forward to 2020, a new decade and hope you are too and that you keep going for your passions and find your purpose! If you need a good inspiration towards that, Carin Rockind has a wonderful PurposeGirl podcast I have been following that is very inspiring and she is also on social media! Cheers!

Love to all,

Anna

 

Flowers, Feria, and more Fun!

Hello folks,

It sure has been a while! I wanted to keep up with this blog monthly to update you on life out west, but like other things like keeping my photo albums up to date, the pace of life quickens, and you live and work and repeat, and the next thing you know months have flown by.

Not every day is a good day- we each have those days where we try to find meaning and purpose to keep trying. I am grateful for something each day and I make a conscious effort to do so, and when there is much pain and strife you hear about on the news, being grateful to be breathing and on this planet is a gift. I try to empathize with the suffering and help in ways I can and focus on my own mental health so I can be a light for this world. I have been struggling with that for a few months among the flowers, feria, and fun I will share with you about soon. How are you doing my friend?

I hope you are finding some time to be present and in awe of your life. I find this easy to do when I am in nature and have been blown away by the flowers and nature of Oregon and with the different seasons and plants we have seen some really cool ones.

Here are some of the many beautiful ones we have seen, roses, peonies, rhododendrons, daisies, and much more.

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Roses!

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More rad roses!

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One of my best buddies came to visit us, and we frolicked in the peony fields

Amazing right? I have been blown away by the fields here of flowers- from ones above to lavender, sunflower, and irises! There is never enough time to see it all at this time, but we see what we can and hope for next year!

I know I have recommended folks to travel before- our big trip so far this year has been Springfield/St Louis, Missouri- back to the humidity and family and new places! We had a blast on our family reunion and exploring new cities- perhaps another blog to follow!

Try to learn about a different culture or country- learn a new language, or attend a cultural event like Feria in Spain. We had Feria festival event here in Portland, and it was beautiful to see the outfits, music, and dancing.

Keep learning about each other folks who are different than you. I feel like we are even more disconnected in this digital age as most of the times we are only connecting with our phones.

Where do you go to have fun? Where do you play? Kids have it right- use your imaginations/creativity and do what you want to do not just want you have to do. Do you want to play basketball, read a book, travel, or cook? Do it deliberately!

I have been fascinated by Positive Psychology since my undergraduate days in college and in that field there is a state called flow, where you immerse yourself in something that you love or practice a lot- go do that! For me it used to be playing Barbies for hours with my sisters when I was young, or scrap-booking and making collages as an adult. I am trying to develop my writing with this blog and by writing poetry.

Thank you for reading and I love and miss you all. Remember to keep trying on those hard days- it is worth it to find the fun.

Hugs and lots of love,

Anna

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Nature helps my well-being

Hi everyone,

I hope spring is treating you well. I am not sure if I was missing the sun with my first PNW winter filled with lots of clouds and rain, but I haven’t been my usual cheery self. This past week, I was letting my anxious mind get to me which resulted in an anxiety attack and a nose bleed in a bathroom at my job.

Besides missing the sun, I have been missing working and volunteering in a park, and though I made a conscious choice to work in a more corporate setting for a variety of reasons, I was missing nature badly.

I decided to take a mental health day off work and planned it for the warmest/sunniest day that was predicted according to my Weather app. And though the weather changes fast around these parts- it held to be true and was a sunny 70 degrees kind of day. My coworker had mentioned to me about a tulip festival she recommended, and so that’s where Ian and I embarked!

We packed a picnic and drove about 45 minutes to Woodburn, Oregon- to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival! Here’s a link with more information about the festival: https://www.woodenshoe.com/events/tulip-fest/

I think many other folks had the same idea as us since it was such a nice day, and so it was a nice size crowd at the farm; but once we approached the farm and the fields, the tulips were spread all over. We could wander and awe at their beauty at our own pace. It included the most colors and varieties of tulips I have ever seen with some cool hybrid species too. I had no idea there could be so much color- pinks, yellows, reds, and much more; I was in rainbow flower heaven.

Ian and I marveled, walked, and took so many pictures.

We picked a quiet spot away from the crowds to sit and have a quaint picnic of pork sandwiches and home made bars and more goodies.

I was able to sit and reflect on this experience in the moment. It truly was nature’s medicine, with the sun beaming down on us(and our first sweat of the season), sitting by trees and beautiful flowers, with my hunny and I could feel my heart and mind at peace. I was so grateful to be aware of this experience and what it meant to me to be here and now. Nature does that for me- each and every time and even if I don’t work in it anymore, it is important to still find these moments where I can be immersed in it and see the wonder and feel the joy and gratitude that I have and recognize the healing power of this natural Earth. ❤

I hope you can find a place like that on this Earth day and be conscious of how you can help places in nature thrive, and recognize at the same time that it is helping you too to survive!

Love,

Anna

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