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:
Here are some more pictures from our trek and picnic!
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.
We explored some of the areas and parks in Newport and surrounding areas:
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!
Happy April and happy spring here on the west coast! I love this time of year where flowers are blooming and there’s hope for renewal for the days ahead. I am aware of the continuing challenges we are facing as a nation and beyond. I don’t know the answers, but contemplation can help.
What I have been contemplating on this month is the concept of home. Usually we say a home is a place like a house you buy or a city you live in. Is it more than that?
My dear friend, Sarah, visited Ian and I this month and her visit rekindled this concept of home to me that is beyond a place, but a feeling or reverence I felt in her presence. I could be myself, safe to be my authentic quirky, not perfect, funny, adventurous, lover of life, and just Anna Banana self. I think she felt the same way as well in our presence to be herself. I know a lot of people who make me feel this way so I wondered more about our homes as a personal connection to self.
Sometimes seeing cherry blossoms in the spring remind me of living in Japan, one of my many homes. I am enjoying their sweet short visit in my current home of Portland, Oregon now. Can home be transporting us throughout our lives? Does it change? As someone who has moved a lot and had many homes, can I take a little piece of each home with me as I continue on this journey called life?
I believe home to me are places, people, feelings, and a true sense of who you are. I know it can change as it has since the pandemic started with us staying more in our homes or near our homes. Can we take the feeling home gives us into our daily lives with the challenges we are still facing? To be your true self and take each part with you as you continue to learn to love and unfold? I think this concept of home can help us see the many parts of us that make us who we are.
What does home mean to you?
I never know how long I will be in one physical home; a learning from my upbringing which I am very grateful for, but like many things, has both pros and cons just as I would imagine living in one home your whole life would bring as well.
Can we reflect on home and how to be our most authentic selves even when we are afraid of what others will think? Each of us is on our own path, with our own concepts of self worth, purpose, and yes, who we are as souls.
Much love and enjoy some pictures below of Sarah’s visit and the lovely springtime in the pacific northwest!
Today is the Spring Equinox, so the first official day of spring on this side of the world! Nice to watch the opening ceremony of my beloved Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC online to celebrate and I volunteered at a park! And it is also the International Day of Happiness which I celebrate as well!
I know it might be hard to think about happiness in this time after a year into the pandemic, and with a lot of loss, change, and uncertainty. The world is continuing to change and evolve. But it is important to be with yourself to recognize who you are and what makes you happy.
We do need to acknowledge all of our emotions- the painful and the pretty. Here are some of mine.
I cry and have to express my emotions or I can implode with anger.
I acknowledge I struggle with the need for social acceptance of who I am.
I know no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, we all learn, and we all love.
What makes me happy?
Being authentic to who I am makes me happy. I am also happy when I am listened to and loved. I am happy when I see my loved ones happy and I am happy when I can give service.
I am also happy when I can cry, yell, let out my anxieties and use my tools to help me, and be present in this moment right now.
What makes you happy?
Can you reflect on all the emotions that this year has brought to you and what have you learned about yourself?
Can we continue to hold space and reflect on who we are and what kind of world we want to have?
I find I ask a lot of questions. Curiosity is one of my strengths, and I constantly ask questions about life.
I am also empathic, loving, and have to remember sometimes that I have to truly love my whole self first, before I can love others.
As we reflect on this past year, on this first day of spring, and think about what makes us happy, let’s take a big breath together! In and out! And thank you winter, and hello spring!
I hope spring brings you some clarity with the blooming flowers and more sunshine.
We continue to unfold in this game of life, and I am happy to share space and be on the journey with you!
Much love, happy spring, and happy vibes!
P.S. here is one of my happy places- being out in nature, at Tualatin Hills Nature Park, volunteering as an amphibian monitor to record data of egg masses of salamanders and frogs who tell us how healthy a habitat is since they are sensitive to changes in the environment!
The days are flying by as we enter into a new Lunar New Year, The Year of the Ox(that’s my sign by the way,) and into Valentine’s Day. I know not everyone celebrates these holidays but I got the nudge to write today while pondering these times.
How do we celebrate love in the challenging times? Is it okay to not be okay? Yes, it is. Can we celebrate with the baby steps, like stopping for a moment to admire an icicle on a tree on a winter’s day or the way my husband Ian smiles at me? We are all going through so much right now, and I know we are tired and still uncertain about what lies ahead.
What gives me hope is love. First we start with the love we have for others like a pet or family member and then see how you can love yourself. I have many teachers who have taught me that we have to love ourselves wholly in order to truly love others.
I think we need this love and compassion more than ever in a divided America and ever changing world.
Who do you love? How do you love? I love giving love by making my loved ones happy. Some ways to do this are watching Star Trek and a walk in our neighborhood to admire some snow gives love to Ian and to me!
I know Valentine’s Day can have a reputation for only being a lovers’ holiday but I do not think that is true. Let’s make it a love everyone day. Love the birds on the porch. Love the mail person. Love the relatives you disagree with. Love the divine or force that helps us uncover more about the love we are and that others are too.
I am hopeful too in The Year of the Ox that we will keep trying and disciplining ourselves like the ox does. Keep going. I know it’s tough but these little moments and the big moments matter, and so do you.
Enjoy some pictures of Ian and I frolicking in the snow in our SW neighborhood in Portland. I love you!
2020 was a challenge, globally and individually. There was a lot of loss, mourning jobs, lives, and the way things used to be. I have been contemplating on 2020 a lot these past few weeks trying to understand what the year brought for me.
So many lessons and blessings.
I learned I crave connection and I am so thankful I can connect with loved ones in many different ways. I realized how healing nature is for me and how connected we are to the planet and each other.
What did 2020 bring you? What do you want 2021 to bring? I think it is important to look back and forward but not to get stuck in the past or anxious about the future. What about this present moment?
Can we embrace all the emotions that we feel and think as humans? And see our imperfections not as flaws but teachers?
Can we love ourselves deeply for who we are and see that same love in others; especially people who believe differently than us? We are all learning in this classroom called Earth. We will all make mistakes and we all will laugh and cry.
Can we take responsibility for our choices and actions instead of blaming others?
I have been wanting to share the “right” words to help heal the collective suffering of 2020 but what is coming to me is to ask ourselves these questions above and below. Let go and let God!
What life do you want to lead? One from love or fear?
How do you serve life? One of the reasons we are here is to give and receive love. How can we do that?
Is your home a place or an idea? What does your heart need?
So many questions and I don’t know all of the answers.
I do know we need time to reflect, to go inward, to contemplate, meditate, and pray. Listen to the inner guidance that will help lead you back.
Poetry helps me process things and wanted to share a poem by John O’Donohue with you:
How are you? 2020 is one of the hardest years of our lifetimes so far that has affected everyone on a global level and on an individual level as well.
I still do not know what to say to help ease the pain and suffering but I hope always for love and lessons we are learning through the hardships.
Gratitude attitude always for the small things and the big ones.
Grateful to have a new contract job at Bob’s Red Mill working remotely and helping their very busy Customer Service Team with all the orders of people stocking their pantries with Bob’s yummy goodies at this time. Learning about Bob’s Red Mill and working with a very sweet team has been healing and wonderful for me. If you want to learn more about this awesome company and try some goodies here is a link to our website: https://www.bobsredmill.com/.
Grateful to have enjoyed some time in nature for my 35th birthday before we had a 2-4 possibly longer Covid shut down/freeze here in Portland. I have some pictures below.
Grateful for my health and my loved ones and everyone doing what they can in these times.
It’s almost the end of this wild year, and I am still processing it on a deep level. What have you learned from 2020? What do you hope for in 2021? And what are you grateful for? Always grateful to write in this space and for all of you for reading!
It’s almost November! I do love this fall weather time when we get extra layers on and see the beautiful autumn colors in the trees, reminding us to let go! How are you doing?
I love hiking and been really trying to immerse myself in nature with all of my senses and to be grateful. There’s a science of this called forest bathing, discovered in Japan as Shinrin-yoku. I am reading a new book about it titled Forest Bathing- How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li and loving it. Earlier this year, my friend Cassandra suggested I check out the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guide Certification. I have recently been intrigued by that idea to lead sensory hikes in the woods to help others lately as I am still trying to figure out my next step is. There are so many physical, spiritual, and mental health benefits that come from being in nature and so important to ground in the present moment in these challenging times.
My husband, Ian also nudged me to keep applying for more park and other administrative jobs. I admit after my Seasonal Park Ranger position ended in September, I became somewhat complacent, and not motivated to move forward, and feeling stuck wondering what is next?
It can be hard to think about what comes next in uncertain times. The news and social media with constant stories that bring about anxiety and fear about the upcoming election season and rising Covid-19 cases around the world, and injustices and people just being cruel and judgmental to each other. These battles sometimes make me feel hopeless about the future and I really have been wondering how can I help in these times?
I am still trying to figure out different and my own unique ways that I, Anna Finch can help but what brings me back is always hope.
I hope for a future where we can have different opinions about issues but not let it destroy each other, and instead be kind, listen to each other, show compassion, and see the shared humanity we have and here on this planet together to learn through the tough times.
I hope the world is going through a spiritual shift and more people will recognize and want to help others and the planet as we navigate through this.
I hope I can give back to nature and the planet in ways like picking up trash or working for the parks.
I hope my loved ones stay healthy in this time.
I hope my 35th birthday next week will be okay with the results of our contested presidential election.
What do you hope for?
Even though sometimes I would like to run away from it all (and I kind of am next week running away to a cabin for my birthday/election week after submitting my ballot in a ballot box of course). Or I always say I would move and disappear to Ireland if you couldn’t find me one day if I wanted to disappear somewhere. The Scorpio in me likes to hide sometimes in times of stress. But I know I can’t run away from the results and drama of this world. I do not want to hide from my emotions or numb them with any substance. Mental health disorders are on the rise in this time and a lot of people are choosing alcohol or other drug substances to deal with the pain.
Positive Psychology has been a saving grace for me in these turbulent times and I know I have shared about it before but here I go again! Positive Psychology is the science of human flourishing. Yes we know there is a lot we are suffering through and that is causing us pain but what makes humans thrive instead of just surviving? We do not stuff down the pains, but have specific tools and techniques to use to recognize what we are going through- a collective trauma right now. Instead of being triggered with PTSD (Post-traumatic stressdisorder) when we get past the trauma, let’s have PTG- (Post traumatic growth). What revelation can we learn about ourselves and each other in such a global connecting time? I was listening to the IPEN (International Positive Education Network) free conference online this week and one of the vibrant speakers, Tal Ben-Shahar shared a beautiful Rumi poem called The Guest House in which we embrace all of the emotions and thoughts as tools to learn.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
I was struck by that poem to be grateful for the hopeless thoughts and feelings as well as my hopeful ones. Tal shared tools we can use like crying to let out our emotions and see how we can feel better after a good cry, writing about the trauma/pain in a journal to release it, and talking to someone about it, like a therapist/coach/partner/friend- someone we trust who can be empathic and listen to you.
With these tools I have hope for a more just world and truly believe my small but significant role matters just like yours does too. Let’s hope for a better world together where we keep learning and growing.
And now to give you some hope from nature some beautiful sites in from our recent adventures to WA state.
For Ian’s recent birthday we took a road trip to the capital of WA State, Olympia, a quirky and cute city and nearby sites, and also drove to see a small but beautiful taste of Olympic National Park.
Enjoy and hugs and know I am with you and vice versa, encouraging and hoping we can and will get through this time!
Wow, what a month, and what a year. I have been thinking a lot about duality this month. It’s a concept in the spiritual teachings I read about and in yoga classes with my sister as well. This Earth planet will always have duality. Love and hate. Light and dark. Bad and good. Fire and rain. Up and down. Forward and backward. Life and death. How do we navigate such a dual reality? I believe we try to find the balance between, those edges, the gray area. For example, with love and hate, how about compassion, empathy, or open-mindedness? If we keep the us vs them mentality, I think it is for sure the fall of the United States, but then again, we can rise again. Look at history and see the rise and fall of civilizations time and time again. Of course, being in the middle of this we don’t wish it to happen. I truly believe it starts with each individual- we take responsibility for our actions and choices, and follow the steps we can do to help collectively. Do you have passion for a cause or loved ones? That motivation can help you move forward. I am not sure what will happen in the United States with Covid still on the rise and the division exacerbated by a heated political election year. But can we find those balanced in between spots between this and that?
Nature helps me to balance and also taking a much needed social media break. When we had the terrible wildfires east of us and all over California and Washington state as well, Ian and I debated about keeping our cabin reservation in a state park. Ian had made the reservations months ago and we waited to see if we were to be evacuated or if the reservations would be canceled. We luckily were okay and no cancellations, so onward we drove to Cottonwood Canyon State Park. It is the second largest state park in Oregon and such a different landscape than Portland and the Willamette Valley. It had canyons, desert, sagebrush, and was so quiet. The wildfire smoke made it look almost end of worldly, but mystical as well. We were one of the few people there and had to wear two masks each at times because the air quality was terrible. But being in a cabin with AC in the middle of everything going on was comforting and we felt safe being in nature. And could rejoice with the little things like frogs hopping in moss in the John Day River, seeing deer climbing the canyons, and this desolate landscape that reminded me of an ancient time. I loved reading the cabin guest book to see other travelers’ journeys and the peace and joy they found at Cottonwood Canyon. We had brought our own food, played games, hiked, and was startled by a lot of spider friends in our cabin but we were safe and grateful.
The next day we explored the ancient Painted Hills- they are sandy like dunes but are actually fossilized ancient forests of a different time with diverse climates and habitats. It was beautiful and reminded me how things do change. We didn’t just get away to escape the fires, but in these moments of reflection in nature, we could truly think of people directly affected by them, who did lose their homes and lives, not just now but all of those million years ago. The trees and critters who lived and disappeared. We recognize and remember. We love and cherish. We respect and learn. I hope we can learn from our past history of pandemics, climate change, and civilizations. We are here on this dual planet to learn so that is our purpose. We may trip and fall, but then we do rise again in some form or another; it could be an ancient dune to remind another of a past time and place.
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.
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.
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.
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.