Getting Ready for Indonesia

The countdown is on. One and a half weeks left until I hop on a plane, then three more, and 48 hours later find myself in Indonesia.

This trip has been years in coming. In high school, my first boyfriend was from Bali, Indonesia. We met at the resort we worked at (I cleaned rooms!). I was too independent for him, so it didn’t last long, but it did last long enough for me to become intrigued by stories of his homeland. I’ve dreamed of visiting Bali for the last ten years.

Right now I have so many lists: things to get done, things to buy, work lists. I’m making sure I have called my credit card company, know where my passport is; I’m making sure I’ve got my vitamins, soap, a new toothbrush; I’m setting up things at work so my absence isn’t as huge as it could be.

A new journal for my journey

A new journal for my journey

I’ve got a new journal for my journey as well. One thing I am trying to make sure I don’t do is create really high expectations for this trip. While I know it is going to be the trip of a life time, and most likely a life changing trip, I don’t want to have any disappointment.

This is a life lesson I am learning in general. Learning to accept life as it comes, and to graciously be ok with the things happening is a skill I’m working on developing. I’m a very extreme person. I’m not the best at moderation. But a sustainable life, whether it be financially, physically, or emotionally, depends on moderation and balance.

Learning how to talk with an old soul.

Learning how to talk with an old soul.

Cultivating balance in my personal life is a daily challenge. I am extremely lucky to work for such great bosses and such a great company (shout out to the Nantahala Outdoor Center) that values balance in their employee’s lives. My bosses are great example of balancing a strong work ethic with maintaining a passion for their soul sports. This atmosphere allows me to work hard and play hard.

I’m learning a lot right now about accepting experiences as they happen. I am careful not to create an expectation for my trip to Bali that will cause the whole journey to not add up. I am careful to not get so focused on chasing a bank account that I forget the passions which led me into the outdoor industry in the first place.

I also bought a string bikini for the first time for surfing. I’ve been working out this winter, and am happy to report that my vegan hemp protein and yoga practice has restored my shoulders to their former glory.

Finally building back the strength.

Finally building back the strength.

I’ll keep you guys updated on my adventure and the process of finding balance.

On the topic of Soul Mates….

“Can married people have more than one soul mate?” My friend asked me the other day.

I kind of mumbled an answer, “yes, but it depends on far they go with those other soul mates that determines how ok it is”, but I never stopped thinking about the topic.

I am happily married, (well, most of the time) to a man I want to play scrabble with when we’re 75. But I have several soul mates. There are people who’s presence I crave.

But none of these relationships makes me ashamed or feel like I have something to hide.

soulmate

There is the friend I can spend hours talking about green tea with, who I speak to regularly because I can mumble some dis-jointed sentence and he will automatically know exactly what I’m trying to say.

My best friend moved to Utah, but I can still text a simple word and she’ll know how I feel. We used to get drunk and throw furniture on the roof because we both understood why.

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Last summer I roomed with a girl who would smile at just about everything you said. Just seeing her face in the mornings as she climbed down from her loft bed made me so happy to be alive. We were inseparable from the day we moved in, spending our free time picking blackberries and challenging each other in our kayaking.

Hollywood has kind of messed with the word soul mate. What should be a description of a connection you have with someone is instead a word for a sexual, intimate encounter.

A soul mate isn’t necessarily the one you have sex with. A soul mate is someone your soul finds rest with. A soul mate is someone you can relax with, because if you speak they will listen, and if you don’t speak for hours, the silence won’t be awkward but a time to be cherished.

Sometimes you realize the connection immediately: you meet them at a party, through a mutual friend. You feel like you’ve known them your whole life. It doesn’t stop there; it doesn’t turn into one of those acquaintances you made where you felt like that but never saw them again. You begin to hang out and the easy comfort you find in the new relationship surprises you.

Other times, they may sneak up on you. You may know someone a week, a month, a few years. One day you realize, at first it was slow, but now you can’t wait to tell this friend a little gossip you heard, the new Taylor Swift song you can’t stop singing along to, and you realize you have a new soul mate.

I have my main soul mate, the one that will never leave my life. But I believe that soul mates are meant to come and go. As we need something from each other, we find each other. Being open to this interaction and connection with others doesn’t always mean we are being unfaithful to our lovers or partners, but we are being true to ourselves.

Morning Smoothies

Tomorrow is the 4 week countdown to Bali! I’ve been kayaking a ton and getting ready. One random thing I’m doing to make sure I’m in tip-top shape for a month of surfing and yoga is making sure my immune system is as good as can be. I don’t want to fly all the way there just to catch something and spend my time recovering.

I’ve been putting spirulina in my morning smoothies for the added immune system boost, the B12, the loads of iron, and about a million other good reasons(including calcium!). I’ve also got a morning smoothie routine down that I’ll share with you.

smoothie

Immune System Smoothie
-Handful of almonds and a date, soaked overnight in the blender with around ½ cup water
-1 banana
-4-5 frozen strawberries
-1 scoop green powder (I’ve been using Green Superfood because of the bang for your buck, but I’ll be getting Healthforce next)
-4 scoops hemp protein powder (20 g of protein! Boo yea!)
-1 teaspoon chia seeds
-1-2 teaspoons spirulina powder
-a few dashes of cinnamon

1) Blend the almonds and date on low, then increase the speed. Blend until you have a white, frothy milk.
2) Add the rest of the ingredients and enjoy!

An Identity of Sorts

I grew up in America.

Green kayaking!

Green kayaking!

What this means is, although my mother did her best to shelter us from a lot of popular culture though homeschooling, trips to the supermarket, friends, and the rare radio channel helped me learn to value money and possessions above most things.

This means that by the time I went to college, I was learning that the more you have, the better you are. Of course, these thoughts didn’t flow through my head exactly like a ticker tape, saying that. It came out through my sudden need for all new clothes at college, or the way I longed after matching towel sets on my weekly trips to Target.

I learned the dirty secret of American Life: buying new possessions will help define me and allow me to reach a higher sense of self actualization.

I didn’t need a new dress so much as I could see myself in the dress in my mind, and in my mind I saw a new identity that came from wearing the dress. It was a self-secure, confident woman wearing that dress. If I could just buy and wear the dress, I would also become self-secure and confident.

This is normal. This is how shopping works. And I bought it hook, line and sinker. I was never one to wear the most in style outfits or want the coolest car or newest phone. But I did start learning to replace the word “want” with the word “need”. I need a new jacket, even though I have 3 already. This one is brown and brown is my new favorite color and it has the outdoor logo so wearing it will help me feel more outdoorsy.

This train of thinking is what gives me a full time job in the outdoor industry, so I don’t want to hate on it too badly.

But I do want to re-examine my relationship with “things”.

I don’t want a job so badly that I spend hours in a cubicle, missing my life. I don’t want to need a thick paycheck that badly. The best way to prevent this is to learn to live on air, as my dad says. For a long time, my “need” for things cluttered my house. The funniest part is, although I had all these things that should help me with an identity, I couldn’t feel anymore lost.

A room just for gear, tucked away neatly in navy plastic tubs. A kitchen full of cabinets with twice as many dishes as anyone could need, mistmatched because I was “artsy”. A closet with colorful clothes for the days I felt bohemian, and dark khaki pants with thick plaid flannels for my “outdoorsy” days.

Why did I have all these things if I truly knew myself? My identity was wrapped up in all these belongings when it should be in the quiet knowledge of who I am.

The strongest identity I had was as a kayaker. So, you guessed it, I had several brand t-shirts, a backyard littered with boats, old paddles stacked neatly in the storage room. I had a brand-logoed coffee mug for my coffee when we went early morning creeking, stickers on everything I owned, even a webbing dog leash.

The problem with this was my identity was wrapped up in this persona, re-inforced by the things I needed. And when I had a rough few weeks with kayaking, then took a few months off, I lost my identity as rapidly as I had gained it by merely buying things.

Floating now, I had to find a new identity. This sudden life crisis was pivotal. It allowed me to really strip beneath the surface of who I thought I was and who I really am. It allowed me to get past the crap in my closets, under my bed, stuffed into slightly crooked kitchen cupboards.

I live in staff housing. Yes, I’m 26 years old. But I still spend half the year in staff housing. It is a great way for me to save money, make friends, and live with less. Living in a tiny room with 2 shelves last summer helped me sift through my stuff. All of sudden, whether or not an item gave me a sense of identity didn’t matter as much as, did it fit in my space?

I began to learn the difference between need and want. I can only wear one pair of pants at a time…. Do I really need 7 pairs? I only eat out of one bowl at a time; do I need a whole cabinet full? (Turns out I need 2 bowls, one for me and one for my husband when he visits).

My 4 year old drysuit… leaky but still functioning!

My 4 year old drysuit… leaky but still functioning!

Learning to live with less not only lets me save money, but it forces me to find my identity in a way most Americans never have a chance to: Outside of material possessions.

My identity is now found in the rest of a downward dog during hot yoga, in the 360 view of the Blue Ridge Mountains on my favorite hike, in the early morning runs by the river with my dog. Buying things could never replace the feeling I get when I’m sitting by the fire with my 45 roommates and someone breaks out a guitar and for once, we’re all quiet as she strums away.

I know myself truly in the stillness of the mornings, with French press coffee and the news while my husband sleeps on. I’m a sister, a friend, a wife. I’m an aspiring yogi, a hard worker, a dog owner, a kayaker. These identities are the ones I know in my heart, not because of anything I own. Having an expensive ring won’t make me a good wife, but the unfailing love my husband and I share will. And that, my friends, can never be bought.

Confessions of a Gypsy Soul

I’ve not been blogging about food as much lately. I’m still eating a plant based diet, but I’m spending the month of March backpacking through Indonesia with my friend Andrew, so I’ve been on a pretty strict beans and rice meal plan to save money. Every meal of beans and rice here is a surf board rental, massage on the beach, or a hostel stay there. This helps me love my simple meals, and maybe I’ll post a bean recipe soon.

Even if I wasn’t eating mostly beans and rice (which I’m not, I’m eating lots of spinach and tofu, too), I’ve been more interested in lifestyle writing lately. Being a writer means baring one’s soul often, and getting brutally honest in order to write good content. I’m intrigued by how my haphazard lifestyle has provided so much peace for me the past year, so, in true writer style, I’ve been writing alot about it to understand it better.

If you’re not into that, then check out some other blogs. “Oh How She Glows” is a great vegan blog I recommend, as well as “Edible Perspective”. If I could figure out how to post links, I would. When I figure it out, I will.

Kayaking!

The other night I went to see the movie “Pretty Faces”. Its about badass skiing ladies, and is excellent. I highly recommend you rent it on vimeo and support them.

The movie reminded me of my 7 year love affair with whitewater kayaking. I begun the 2 most important, volatile, love-hate and intense love affairs of my life on the same day, in the same place. I fell head over heels for kayaking, and a Mississippi boy who had followed me to the blue mountains of Appalachia.

Over the next 7 years, these relationships would be the central driving forces in my life. They would shape who I became, they would provide a stability I had never known in a childhood spent moving every 6 months. But fairytales wouldn’t be exciting if there were no enemies, evil times, or darkness. The two relationships that provided my wandering spirit a safe place to rest would also both take a turn breaking my heart.

There are two types of people in this world. There are the kind who’s lives resemble a clean horizon line, like the kind at a beach. You know, straight, flat, maybe slightly curved here or there. Their lives are beautiful, they glow from the setting sun. These are the people with jobs in cities, the ones who wake up and drink French Roast coffee out of white cups, read the paper, put on beige suits and drive to reliable jobs in safe cars.

Then there are the people who don’t fit this mold. I spent years feeling broken. I can’t stay anywhere very long (growing up constantly moving between states never helped this). I like jobs where I am doing a variety of different tasks, in a variety of different places. I have this burning, overwhelming need for kayaking and wide open places. The world is my home, I can’t imagine not seeing as much of it as possible. I got married and then proceeded to spend the first year mostly alone. I never changed my name, and I only wear a wedding ring half the time.

I excel in environments half the world finds bizarre, but it is here that I have finally found where I belong. For my half of the population, our lives resemble the horizon lines of a wild and rugged mountain range. There are sharp inclines, followed by sometimes intense drops.

Some of the low points in my life included terrifying swims while kayaking, prompting a year long hiatus from the sport. I spent days sitting in our green chair staring at the wall, trying to figure out why the thought of putting the kayak on the car was exhausting and terrifying. My muscles lost their beautiful toned lines, and even my dog began to plead with me to return to my happy self.

But those days were followed by the days of kayaking again. I found the happiness that is a rushing river, the peace in an environment so fluid it matched my own life, and therefore provided the familiarity I craved. My muscles grew back, I got back on harder creeks, and I stood on top of the peak in my life’s mountain range, in awe of how good life can be.

In the movie “Pretty Faces”, they talk about doing whatever job it takes to have the money for skiing. For them, this obsession with the snow reminds me of the obsession I have with whitewater. It may ruin my life, but if I end up finding a place my gypsy soul can finally rest in, isn’t that worth all the down climbs?

Bangin’ Pesto

Christmas tree!

Christmas tree!

December is half way over, meaning this year is about to end. Did this year go incredibly fast for anyone else? It feels like just yesterday I was waking up in the little house in Knoxville and working at the food co-op. As December 31 gets closer, I find myself thinking through this year more and more.

Hiking at Chimney Rock!

Hiking at Chimney Rock!

Ben David got home a week ago and we’ve been hanging out alot. He came to stay with me in Asheville for a bit, and I love showing him my new city. Living in Asheville looks good on me, I think. I’m loving all the wonderful things to do. I can get on the Green or go climbing or trail running or yoga just about everyday.

My roommate's birthday!

My roommate’s birthday!

For dinner after climbing one day, we made pesto and veggies. And boy was it delicious and easy!

dinner

I whipped this sauce up quickly, making it a sure-to-be-repeated recipe for me. The less time I spend cooking and the more time I spend living is what I’m about these days.

pesto

Oil Free Pesto
-½ cup soaked or boiled raw, cashews
-handful fresh basil leaves
-garlic clove
-1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1) Cook cashew nuts until soft, unless you’ve soaked them. Blend in a food processor while drizzling water in until soft and creamy.
2) Add basil, garlic, and nutritional yeast
3) I find it delicious to add this sauce to the drained noodles in the pan on the stove so the whole thing gets warm.

Enjoy!

Thanksliving and Green Burritos

Happy Thanksliving! Yes, Thanksliving! This year my friends and I are going to order some vegan goodness from a take out place near the tree lot and celebrate life! Not only are we thankful for our lives, but also the lives of animals that we get to determine!

StuffingVegan_thanks

This year has been truly an amazing year. I started it out in Knoxville at a little party at some stranger’s house. At 12:01 I got an email letting me know I would be published in an online journal, and I just knew this would be the year of doing.

There are alot of lists out there, several I was reading this morning, about ways to avoid regrets, things to do to live an adventurous life, etc. One of the biggest changes I made in my life this year was to just open myself to the Universe and say yes to everything that came my way. The results have been fantastic!

I moved back to North Carolina, started kayaking again, ran a dessert department at a restaurant, lived in staff housing, went to San Francisco, and a hundred other amazing things. I’ve started doing yoga regularly, which is changing my life.

One of the things I am most grateful for this year is my job at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. I’ve worked seasonally for NOC for around 6 years now. It has been an up and down ride, like most jobs. This year I came back simply to see what it would be like, and it turns out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made yet. At the end of the season, I got a job in Asheville in the office. I’m learning how to be a logo and giftware buyer. I love my job, and most importantly, I love my bosses and co-workers. The job is part time and hourly, so its provides alot of freedom and flexibility still, which is perfect.

Thanks to the NOC, I’m living in Asheville with a dear friend and loving my job (which is more than half my waking time, so that’s a good thing).

I can’t figure out how to post links anymore, but if you go to google, search for the song “Don’t fight with Life”, by Osho. Its the perfect song for this year.

And now! A simple recipe. Last weekend I got back on the Green River Narrows with Rachel (my summer roommate). It was her first time and my first time in over 2 years. We had a great day. The Narrows are a blast, a fun stretch of river with boot’s, slides, holes, and good old fashioned fun.

I made scrambled tofu burritos to take on the river. They’re my new addiction. Because I’ve been moving so much lately, I’ve cut my tofu scramble recipe down to just a few ingredients then jazz it up with add in’s.

Green River Tofu Burritos

Tofu Scramble for Burritos

Tofu Scramble for Burritos

1 package of sprouted, firm tofu
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Burrito fillings:
1 bell pepper
1 onion
3 or 4 stalks of kale
coconut oil
avocado
Corn tortillas

1) The night before, crumble the tofu and add the spices. Mix well and store in the fridge overnight.
2) Dice the bell pepper and onion, while heating up the coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the kale and sauté until soft.
3) Add the tofu and break into clumps. Let cook until its slightly crispy and warm throughout.
4) Spread avocado on corn tortillas. Add the tofu mixture with the veggies. Add salsa, etc at this point. Roll up (I find it easiest to roll in tin foil) and enjoy!

What are you thankful for today?

Stove Top Popcorn and South Eastern Creeking

Mid November brings the beginning of cold weather, and the promise of rain soon (or snow). Despite the cold, rain means creaking. Thanks to my drysuit, I’m looking forward to getting on several of my favorite local creeks this season. The North Fork of the French Broad is a must; it was a favorite during college and I can’t wait to get back on it.

Thanks to Hipgrave from the NOC, I have a new AT Super Duty to try out this season. I’ve never been a huge fan of bent shaft paddles, but I will see what I think after this weekend! On Sunday my friend Will and I plan to get on the Tallulah one last time. The 600 step stair case down to the put in has been surprisingly nice to me this year. Maybe all the running on hills I’ve been doing is paying off.

The Tallulah gorge is beautiful, with mostly clean pool-drop rapids and high rock walls. There are boofs everywhere and its always a good time. Its a short run, so taking your time is important or you end up with a 45 minute run after a 3 hour process to get there. The 3 mile lake paddle out is a good time to decompress and catch up with your friends, and just enjoy being in nature. We are so lucky in the South East to have such access to quality runs!

popcorn

Right now, I can’t seem to get enough of popcorn. Making popcorn on your stove top ensures that you have more control over what goes into. No greasy oil-coated bags for me! I find the best topping to be a sprinkling of nutritional yeast and curry powder, no joke! Its delicious!

How to Make Stove Top Popcorn

1) Heat a pot with a tight fitting lid on med-high until hot. Add coconut oil until melted. Once the oil is sizzling (a drop of water bounces in it), add a handful or so of popping corn.
2) Add the lid and wait for it to pop! It will pop for a while, then start to slow down. Once the popping has slowed to more than 2 seconds between, take off the heat.
3) Let sit for a few seconds to cool down. Then add to a bowl and toss with the nutritional yeast and curry powder!

Notes: a little goes a long way, don’t over load the pot with corn! You can find the corn in the bulk section of your local health food store. I suggest buying organic, obviously. Corn is a common genetically modified plant in the US.

A Little Ramble on Coming Home.

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Its November, and I’m moving into the 5th place I’ve lived this year. I’m down to two car loads of belongings, just a few boxes that hold a couple shirts, a tattered cookbook, my boating gear, and my plastic three-drawer “kitchen”.
This house will probably be the last place I move into for a while. The next time I move it will probably be back to the Nantahala Gorge.
Right now I’m lucky because I have my dog and a kitchen. I also have my own bathroom and a full bed.
Being a nomad is fun but a lot of work. Being a nomad is teaching me a lot about coming home.
Home isn’t a house with a yard and a garage, a mortgage payment, or a basement full of storage. Home isn’t coming back to the same street in the same town everynight for years.
Home is the front seat of my car on warm afternoons, driving back from a day spent kayaking with my friends. Home is the middle seat of my car, where my dog spends approximately half his life but loves it because he gets to be with me. Home is the trunk of my car, where I can fit my entire life and someone else’s if need be.
Home was my staff housing room this summer, with a girl who taught me everything I need to know about trusting my dreams and passions. Home is the tiny kitchen I shared with 30 others, laughing long into the night over wine and board games.
Home is the house I share with an artist in Asheville. Its coming home each day and getting to see the progress she’s making on the silver jewelry she taught herself to make.
Home is my mother’s house, where she always has food I can eat and is ready to do my laundry and give me a bed for the night, usually with a mere 1 hour warning.
Home is my friend’s camper trailer, up on a mountain. Its rickety and cold, but we curl up in blankets and listen to Eddie Vedder in the mornings, watching the sun light the leaves on fire and sipping hot tea while we talk about life. He teaches me so much about letting go.
Home is knowing that its ok for you to not be traditional, its ok for you to have struggles staying anywhere for any length of time. Home is wherever you are at that moment. Its knowing yourself so well and being so ok with yourself, that you are at home wherever you go. Home is the yoga studio, the grocery store, its next to your lover, your dog, your friends. Home is in the sound of laughter at the bottom of a challenging rapid you just crushed. Home is the relief of hot water on sore muscles. Home is packing up your car every Friday and venturing off for a few days because that’s what makes your world make sense.

Butternut Squash Soup

Tallulah Paddling

Tallulah Paddling

I’ve been kayaking with the fall leaves lately. I’ve been kayaking in gorges lined with rock, with snow, with roads, with half naked trees getting ready for hibernation. I’ve been kayaking with friends I love, sipping warm coffee on the windy roads on the way there, listening to get pumped music, whining about the cold.

In real life I keep moving, I’m getting rid of so much stuff that eventually I’ll just be living in my car. Its a not so distant dream now. My nomadic blood is running truer than ever and I’m figuring this process out.

There is not possible way to get an appetizing photo of this soup, so just believe me when I say its delicious. I fry kale and tempeh and add that when I need more of a real meal from it.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 farmers market butternut squash, peeled and diced
½ white onion diced
4 cloves garlic
1 sweet potato diced
1 carrot diced
dash salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1) In a pan in a little water, saute squash, potato, carrot, garlic, and onion until soft. This may take a while, so put on some Chet Faker and get groovy with it. Once you have a soft, potato hash sort of mix, add the spices and stir on the heat until you can smell them.
2) Add the squash mix to the blender with the liquid and the nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. Ta da! Easy and delicious.