2 of my oldest friends + 1 thoughtfully packed backpack + 1 East bound plane ticket + 12 years of language immersion + 1 life long dream = Adventure of a lifetime? My Christmas present to myself was a trip to Japan, and tonight I'm off!
I'll be the first to admit that I love new things. New experiences, new friends, and of course.. new clothes. There's always something gratifying about finding that great deal, the perfect pair of jeans, or a great gift, and Black Friday was made for that desire of the new. But as I get older, my motivation to have new 'things,' give 'things' as gifts, or wake up at 5am to beat the crowds, stand in line, and empty my wallet has dwindled. On Thanksgiving we usually take a step back and reflect on what we're thankful for, and the majority of the thank you's I heard yesterday were for togetherness and quality time spent with new friends, old family, or even yourself - away from the bustle of everyday life. Then today we race to the stores, fight over that last size M sweater, and buy more things to be thankful for? I'm not trying to make a judgement, I've certainly been there and more than likely will be again, but it's an observation I'm just beginning to see the irony of. SO - am I going to boycott gift-giving and the new Dave Eggers book I've been wanting to read? No, but I am going to challenge myself to think outside the box this holiday season (and beyond!) and invest in gifts that give experience or memory. Hopefully I can expand on this as ideas develop, but I'm thinking things like pottery classes, yoga punch cards, digitizing old photo albums, mother-daughter dates, weekend getaways and so on... And as far as new things for me? Clothing shopping is a major weakness of mine, and I'd like to make a conscious effort to invest only in wardrobe staples as opposed to trendy pieces, in an attempt to build a closet of well fitting, well made, and timeless pieces that will last me many years to come. And finally, I want to celebrate what I do have.
So does Yvon Chouinard - released as an antidote to Black Friday, this little video explores quality in the the life we live, and the things we have. (Yes, I'm on a bit of a video kick, but it's worth it!)
This video first crossed my path on a scratched iPad in a mud brick house nestled 10,000 feet into the Andes. Its distributor, a barefooted wandering archaeologist (and now favorite friend), offered it to Sam and I, and - in what I consider the greatest compliment I've ever received - told us that we were making a beautiful story. Until today I hadn't seen this video in months, but am reminded that you don't have to be in the Atacama desert or highlands of Peru to enjoy your story, you just have to remember that each day you are writing yours.
Hearths, campfires, wood stoves, radiant heating, toyos, they've all been big topics - and necessities - this week. Up here in the great white north we're on day two of Icepocalypse 2013. The freezing rain is falling, roads have turned to skating rinks, windstorms are felling trees like professional lumberjacks, and the power is out like last season's iPhone. The kid at heart jumped for joy when the radio announced that schools were closed today, and the professional side of me squealed with delight when I got the official email informing me that my presentation was cancelled tonight. (Even though it was about archaeological hearths!!... timing is my strength)
Yet another perfect excuse to hunker down at home, fire up the wood stove, use our creativity, and try to catch cabin fever.
This weekend my legs took me to a bowl full of mountains in Denali National Park, where jagged peaks go unnamed and reddening tundra marks the height of fall. It's a place where rugged terrain makes you lose your breath, and breathtaking views keep you from catching it. A place where you can't help but wonder if anyone else has ever stood (or done yoga?) in this exact spot - and realize that they probably haven't.
A dear friend summed it up best. "Peaceful would hardly be the way to describe my mood as I stood on that mountain. I felt restless and alive; the wilderness below me seemed to be pulling at me. I wanted to plunge into those dark forests... I wanted to reach those distant mountains... I wanted to ride those waters out to the sea." - Mason McLeod, 2007.