going to the water
I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to write about this epic, soul-searching, self-discovering adventure. Maybe because it felt like such a big deal to me and it's hard to share things like that. Might not share it right. People might not care. Might not be able to find the right words to convey the right things. But I've recently heard some wise women say, you create it, you put it out there, and then your job is done. So here we go...
I've been trying to flood all of my brainwaves with good input these days. Recently, the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert sent out some words that felt very True to me.
"Years ago, when I was going through a really hard time, a friend of mine who was a naturalist gave me some beautiful advice about how to best take care of myself."
He told me, “When an animal in the wild has been injured, it has only two strategies for how to heal itself: It can rest, or it can go to the water. Right now, try to do as much of both as possible.”
When I heard it I thought, that's simple and helpful, I can do that. I tried a bath, tried lingering in the rain for a few extra seconds on my way in from the car, drank more water, paused when I thought about water. It was good for a mindfulness practice, but I felt like I needed to really immerse myself in healing with water.
Shortly thereafter another set of good input flowed in via a random Facebook ad. Glennon Doyle Melton's Together Tour was coming to Portland and there were still tickets available. When I saw it, I instantly wanted to go. But because I'm still learning how to listen to my voice and stick up for what I want, I instead decided that it was stupid to be spending money on something that I didn't need. Plus what would I do with the boys? Plus where would I stay? Plus what if it was dumb and I wasted my time and money?
So I sat on it. Because sometimes I'm a slow learner. And sometimes the universe helps me out by sending more signs.
Cue the next input, this time via Pinterest. (Look, my evenings sometimes get too quiet and I need to be online finding funny stuff or planning adventures to look forward to). I got a few recommendations for my 'Road Trip Adventures - Oregon' page. And suddenly, the beautiful Columbia River Gorge was calling to me. Beckoning with all of her watery goodness.
Suddenly, there was clarity and I knew this was a very good thing in the making. It was just too right, too obvious. And all of my excuses were so easy to solve now. Because I wanted it! And the feeling guilty and the money thing weren't so powerful either. Because I knew this was worth it and I'd find a way.
Even if the conference sucked (it totally didn't), or I had to sleep in my car (which I totally did). Even if it meant being alone (scary!), and thinking all the thoughts and feeling all the feels (shut up! ick! weeping!). Even if I had doubts and fear and guilt over leaving my boys or spending 'extra' money. I knew this was something that needed to happen.
I went to the Together Tour and was blown away by some powerful Truth from some amazing women from very different lives, speaking a very similar message of love and life and a resounding call to action. I talked to strangers and made new friends. I bawled in the arms of a woman who's words gave me hope like I don't think I've ever felt. I did yoga with hundreds of other energized humans and left the building floating on air.
I crashed at my cousin's house. Why the hell was I worried about a place to stay, like half of my huge extended family lives in Portland. Doy.
The next morning I got up early, grabbed some provisions, and headed off towards the Vista House at the recommendation of the cuz. Once there I soaked up some serious water views and then chatted for a few with the adorable, friendly ranger inside. He had maps, specific trails and can't miss waterfall recommendations to highlight for me, suggestions for camping, and a seriously good vibe to start me on my way down the Historic Columbia River Highway.
From Latourell to Multnomah Falls, I drove-parked-hiked-ran my way over about 15 miles of gorgeous trails to 10 breathtaking waterfalls. I plunged my head in a creek when I got hot. I waded chest deep to get to a unique gorge. I ate and sat and busted some vinyasa at various watering holes. This was it! I was going to the water! And it really did feel like healing and freedom and scary new adventures!
That night I went to an observatory and saw Saturn with my own eyeballs.
The next day I found 2 more gorgeous waterfalls, the best one completely by accident, went to a great recovery meeting to collect a coin, had dinner at the bar with my librarian doppelganger from another dimension, and slept in a hostel like a teenager in Europe.
Every moment was an experience, or a challenge, or an emotional ride. And I missed my boys like crazy the whole time, but none of this was something I could have done with them in tow. And even the missing was painful but exquisite! A constant aching reminder of how wonderful it is to be their mom, and how precious every moment with them really is!
On my last day a friendly barista directed me to more falling water, and I finally made a stop at a place that has been calling to me for a couple of years now. A place that most certainly has to be sacred somehow, so powerful was the flow.
It was glorious! And also weird to be alone. Beautiful, but scary sometimes. Hard physically and emotionally, but so fulfilling and so healing. And so worth it.
My life is not yet one that allows me the spare change and the spare time to go off on my own on adventures like this all the time. Definitely a special occasion. But I'm definitely making a point of doing it again, at least once a year. Either that or maybe all of the time.
And I'm considering trading in the ring for a tiny trailer.