Quiet Moments

When traveling, life can be chaotic to say the least. I’m the kind of traveler that wants to absolutely maximize my time wherever I am because I’m not sure I’ll ever come back. That generally means living out of a suitcase, activities scheduled from morning until evening. Action and adventure around every turn, experiencing things that I can only see right there in that place.

 

But some of my most favorite moments are the moments of quiet. When I’m still and feeling exactly what’s happening right then.

 

In Japan it was waking up early and walking through the snow to catch the sunrise over our mountain onsen. Today, it was sitting a park while Jared took a nap next to me and I watched the ducks play and nap right next to him.

 

It’s the quiet moments when we can take a moment to breathe, really look at the world around you and reflect. When we are away from the stress of home life. When work and bills and obligations don’t matter. In these moments we can stop and begin to remember what is really important to us. 

For me, it’s these moments that center me. I’m beginning to find that calm I’ve been looking for. It’s this feeling that I chase around the globe and in my own backyard in between the chaos of life. They are the small moments in between the huge moments that make all the difference in my mental game.  Stopping. Listening. Breathing. Letting the sun shine on your face and the breeze fly through your hair. Or the cup of coffee on the deck while watching the sunrise and the world is still asleep.

 

Traveling is so much more than getting that right picture or ticking items off your bucket list. It’s looking inward and finding that person inside you that is shoved aside day to day to say, “oh there you are. Come into my arms and let me love you.” She only really comes out when it’s quiet, but when she’s there, her spirit abounds and life seems to suddenly make a whole lot more sense.

I think I had this picture in my head of what this trip to New Zealand would be. I imagined my stress instantly melting away, immediate reconnection with my husband, and the feeling of pure joy and happiness that I often feel when I’m exploring somewhere new. I would start to find myself.

But I haven’t felt that yet. Mostly I’ve still felt stressed out. I still feel that Jared and I are bickering more than usual. The heavy weight I carry on my shoulders is still there. I’m frustrated.

It’s in these moments that I realize I need to stop and reflect. Travel is about finding yourself. Maybe the deal with myself right now is that I AM very stressed. Maybe I have too high of expectations on myself to feel something that takes me a while to get to. Or maybe it won’t happen, and what I’ll walk away with is realizing that something has to give somewhere else in my life. Or maybe I’ll feel that feeling I’m looking for in a few days when I’ve removed myself from the idea that I have to know everything and everything has to be planned and perfect. Who knows?

What I do know, though, is that regardless of the outcome or if/when I get to the point I’m searching for, everything is going to be alright. I’m in an amazingly beautiful place with the person I love. I’m privileged to be here. I’m lucky to be alive and healthy and whatever this stress that I’m carrying on my shoulders is not about figuring out where my next meal is coming from or if I’m going be eaten by a predator or that I won’t have electricity tomorrow. While exploring Christchurch yesterday, we came across this installation on the side of this building. “Everything is going to be alright”. It spoke to me. It made happy to see this message from the universe soothing my soul when I least expected it.

We are starting a 7 day Haka Tour today. I’m excited but nervous. This experience is very much outside of my comfort zone. We are staying in hostels and traveling in a small group. I have an idea of a loose itinerary but not real idea of what to expect and when. All of this does not make me feel relaxed! But the point is to also push myself to do something uncomfortable and scary. So – let’s explore, New Zealand. I’m ready for whatever lies ahead. Because no matter the outcome, everything is going to be alright.

 

My Facebook Memories have been popping up this week reminding me that this was the month I decided to move from Phoenix to Seattle. At the time, I was a little lost in my life. I’d been working for my mom part-time but didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew that Phoenix was not my home, though. I didn’t hang out with many friends, definitely avoided going outside as much as possible, and my world was wrapped up in my husband and his family and all the glory that is Magic: The Gathering for a bunch of 20 something nerds. That was definitely not the life I had dreamed of.

So l decided on a whim to move to Seattle. My husband and I had been talking about it for years and I figured we were at the stage of nut up or shut up, so I decided to nut up. Found a roommate on Craig’s List. Sold a bunch of stuff. Said goodbye to friends and family, including the husband, and took a chance. I figured I’d try to find a job in 6 months and if it didn’t work, I’d go back to Arizona.

Two weeks later I had a job and my life changed forever. I love Seattle. Love it so much that I think every person should experience it’s beauty, wonder, diversity, weather, and people.  Here are my top 5 favorite things about Seattle:

The Weather
Listen, if you’re from Seattle, you’re going to think I’m crazy (unless I’m talking about summer, in which case you’ll sing a chorus of hallelujah and preach while raising your hands to the sky to worship the great ball of fire and light that is the sun). But I love every bit of Seattle weather.

Let’s talk about the rain. No, it does not rain every day. And no, it is not a constant torrential downpour.

When it rains, it’s usually a drizzle. I mean, sometimes it’s sideways, but most of the time it’s not an unpleasant experience. All you really need is a light rain jacket most of the year and you’ll be fine. Don’t use an umbrella. It’s annoying.

The summers are magic and suddenly the empty streets of Downtown or the quiet peacefulness of Green Lake will be overrun by people. The city comes alive in the summer. Mild temperatures (hot is usually in the mid-80s) make being outdoors pleasant. The sweaters, jeans, and boots give way to reveal the pastiest, palest limbs under tank tops, shorts, and sandals. It’s just the best.

Most of the year the weather is temperate. Spring and fall alternate between drizzly days and sunny days. All you really need is that light rain jacket.

The People

These are MY PEOPLE. I knew it right away. I get them and they get me and it’s incredible.

Have you ever heard of this thing called the Seattle Freeze? Well it’s real, and it’s glorious. Let me explain. Do you like to ride a bus full of Chatty Cathy’s who you want to be besties with? Then this may not be your place. But if you like to ride the bus in silence and not chit chat, come to Seattle. Don’t get me wrong, the locals here are nice and helpful, and if you ask for directions they will always stop and help. But don’t expect an invitation to dinner, it’s just not their way.

If you do happen to get an invitation to dinner, 9/10 times, it will be a transplant. All of my friends are transplants. There’s something about people who move here that have an open heart and a desire to make friends. It’s easy to tell a transplant versus a Seattle native because they tend to invite you to do things, want to hang out, and cling together because let’s face it, a native Seattleite isn’t going to bring you into their circle.

That’s okay with me, I like it this way.

The Landscape

No joke, from Seattle you can reach a major city, lakes, beaches, oceans, the desert, mountains, wine country, a rainforest, islands, and a volcano in just a matter of hours. Stand at Kerry Park and you can see the Seattle City skyline with Mt. Rainier as the backdrop. On a clear day, drive 40 minutes east and hike  to Rattlesnake Ledge and you see nothing but green forest covered mountains, and bright blue skies for as far as the eye can see. Take a walk down to Golden Gardens Park in Ballard and sit on the sandy beach while looking across the Sound towards the Olympics in the distance.

Pick your fancy and within less than a day, you can get yourself there.

The Culture

The culture in Seattle is so diverse, it’s truly wonderful. I don’t just mean cultural diversity in the sense of race or nationality (although we are diverse in that too), I mean the culture of the people. Let me explain. Here you can find massive nerd culture, fishing culture, maritime culture, charitable culture, gay culture, music culture, coffee culture, food culture, and many more I’m sure I’m not even hitting.

Since moving here, I’ve found that there are people of a wide range of interests who actively participate in their community and invite others in. Seattle is famous for being ahead of the game for so many of these cultures, it’s really amazing to be a part of it.

When you’re here, I suggest finding a meet up or looking up local events on Facebook. You’re going to find something in the realm of your interest, guaranteed.

The Public Transportation System

Probably a weird one on this list, but it’s my list, so whatever. I love how easy it is to use public transportation here! This probably stems from years of living in the boonies in Arizona and then in Phoenix where you have to take a freeway to get anywhere, and walking a couple of blocks is sure to end in a sunburn and pit stains.

In the Downtown area alone you can get places by walking (gasp!), riding bikes (yours or some you rent), a robust bus system, trains like The Link and The Sounder, a ferry, the SLUT (yeah, that’s a real, and unfortunate name), and you can still even drive a car if you’d like.

Some of my happiest moments is walking 15 minutes from my apartment to The Link at Westlake and riding it to work. My morning commute gives me appreciation for living in this city. I’ve never experienced something like it and each time it surprises me that, oh my gosh, I live in Seattle!

 

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To me, Seattle is the Emerald City in the Land of Oz. Before I moved here, I had a picture in my mind of what life might be like. And every single thing I envisioned has happened. Although I’m not a native Seattleite, this is my home and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Dorothy had it right – there’s no place like home.