Monday, October 24, 2011

Where Travel and Loss Will Lead You

Traveling so many miles, you're bound to lose things...

Your mind, your comfort, your stability, your prisons, your sense of self, your phone charger 1 million times.

This is why I urge you to travel.

Traveling invites loss. Loss invites you to be achingly alert. When your eyes and heart are wide open, despite what they see, there's a way that you're liberated from the anxiety of occupying more than one space at a time.

I invite you to lose it all.

Lose the words you don't have the time to write. Lose your favorite ring you don't have the wits to turn back for.

Lose your temper. Then really lose it. Then lose it so often that you stop looking for it and you just chill out, turn toward laughter, start calling your lover nonsensical nick names that make you both giggle like 7 year olds.

Lose hope. Rub so hard on that tattoo you've marked to your ring finger that you make a rash. Go to the wits end of your faith and fearlessness until you begin to learn that those qualities derive from hitting the bottom and surviving. Sweat and tears, and then more sweat and more tears.

Lose your cool. Lose your shame. Lose your self-awareness in public places. Be too loud for the timid small-town diner. Order pie at 9 am. Moan. Excessively.

Lose yourself completely.

I promise--you will have regrets and you will be wiser for each one.

Lose weight. Lose options. Have 3 outfits and 3 pairs of panties that you wash in the sink when you're lucky enough to remember. Lose your sex appeal.

Lose money. Tip too much to the woman who gave poor service. Get haggled by the homeless man and drop him a big fat 20. Lose your so-called standards.

Lose your future investments. Lose your illusion of security. Lose your maybe-one-day dreams and just do it already.

Lose your map and your perfectly calculated directions. Lose your battery life. Have nothing left to do but flag down a stranger and ask for help, stick your thumb out, become human again.

Lose your vanity. Lose your make up, your razor, your deodorant, your hair products. Take a scary-as-fuck picture of yourself and post it on Instagram for all the world to see.

Mostly, lose what you grasp the tightest... Your safety, your soul, your sense of purpose, your image.

Lose it for just a month, a few days, an afternoon in mystery walking down the block. But lose it wholly, with no reservations.

When it's all said and done, you won't feel "found", per se. Rather, you'll feel as though you've arrived carrying only what's truly needed in your bags. Nothing more, nothing less. And it will be strange and vulnerable and magical.

You will know that the sweat and tears and suffocating bike shorts were your uniform of sacrifice. You had your protests, and rightly so, but that uniform brought you to the boundaries of your dark territories, the terrors of life you never wanted to see, the edges of your strength and also your humility, your meek existence in this glorious, overwhelming world that you absolutely needed to travel in.

You will lose a handful of illusions in this sea of loss. The greatest of which being that things last forever. No. You will see clearly that everything eventually surrenders.

One day, you will not only understand, but accept, this jewel of truth. Perhaps the deepest truth you could ever grasp.

Until then, you will continue to travel, to lose things, to wander at the crossroads of terror and letting go into love.

So travel. Travel to the end of the world and back. See what needs to be lost. See what's waiting to be found.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What's Called for in the Final Stretch

LOVES! We have almost completed our crazy MadWard Adventure!

I'll save all the notes on HOW for another time, and just say this much for now:

It took a village of support to get us here (really) and it will take a village of support for us to finish. So we're going to make a request:

A spiritual exchange of motivation.

Yes! This is hippy-dippy! Yes! It is also fun!

Okay...We are traveling the Pacific Coast and it is an endless road of ups and downs--this time I'm being literal.

We need your motivation (really!!) to make it to Mendicino, CA where we're meeting my parents in 9 DAYS!!!

Give Mojo
Will you call us & leave silly/serious/suspicious voice messages? Will you tweet/text us daily with encouragement? Will you let us know, in one way or another, how our journey has affected you? The small seeds of courage we've possibly planted? What it would mean to YOU if we were to finish?

Get Juju
In exchange, when you send us some good mojo, we will climb a hill with you in mind. Really!

It will sound something like this:

Huff, puff, this hill is for Jen... huff, puff... And all the people who aren't sure if true love exists...huff, puff... And all the people who are piecing their lives back together...huff, puff... And struggling to get over yet another hump.....huff puff huff puffgg HUFF!

You can start with a comment right here. Fill in the blank:

This one's for me & all the people who ____________!

Heaps of gratitude for your solidarity as we run the final mile of our marathon. Lovin' the spritz of bubbly and marching band already!

Rach & Bri

Sunday, October 9, 2011

1,000 Gratitudes

After 6 months of traveling, mostly by bicycle, we finally reached the Pacific Ocean from Washington DC. I can hardly express how much commotion our lives have consisted of, and still, how often we lost track of our moving bodies and simply glided. Like b

Arriving in Place

Yesterday, we caught a ride to the Oregon Coast from Portland. We meandered through pine-forested mountains and lush family-style farms that had trees hugging houses. The sweet smell of cow dung whisped through our open windows, and memories of my grandma flickered in my mind. She used to say that the smell reminded her of home; that it's kind of silly, but she just loves it. I feel the same way. We breathed in the sounds of Iron and Wine as we rounded the final bend before the ocean shot into sight. The Pacific Ocean. We arrived. We made it to the other side of the country.

the paths we travel
A small path caught Kate's eye, and she asked if we could stop, wander down to the ocean. Beside huckleberry bushes as we stepped slowly on slippery grounds, my chest rose and fell, full of something I couldn't quite grasp. Until it hit me--hard--like 1,000 tears flooding in all at once.

We made it across this land, to this very ocean, with help. Tremendous help. Help from strangers full of so much love and desire to give. Help from sunshine reaffirming beauty, reminding us to hope. Help from songs in my ears and songs leaving my lips. Help from friends on the phone who said things like, "It makes perfect sense." or "Now's not the time for quitting." or "I'd want to kill something, too!" Help from my parents, who gave me the greatest gift of all: their confidence in me, in us; who said things like, "You're my hero."

It all helped. Every e-mail, every friendly honk, every asshole who jabbed into my fragile wounds, only to make me stop and breathe and pray and grow stronger. Every bed, every celebratory glass of wine, every sign made my siblings still growing strong--every tiny bit was huge.

Arriving in Time

At the pacific :) 1 year
Today is our very first wedding anniversary. This time last year, we were surrounded by the most collective expression of community I've ever wittnessed. Hands and hearts were offered in full for celebrating love. No one held back with their generosity, with their gifts. And I don't mean presents. I mean, everyone gave what they were put on this earth to give, in one way or another.

Today, it is just us out here; and then again, it is everyone. So much of this year has felt like a call to see how much we could do "on our own". The greatest lesson in this kind of challenge is discovering that you are never "on your own". Ever.

And through all the ups and downs (in bed, and otherwise) there's still no one I'd rather experience them with than you, Brian. There's no one with whom I'd rather discover the world, in all its magic and all its gory loss. There's no one I'd rather snuggle up against or whose smile I'd rather awake to. There's still no hand I'd rather hold, no voice I'd rather call out to. There's still no one with whom I'd rather share a life.

It's our first wedding anniversary!! And we crossed the US on bikes!!! So much for a first year of marriage. #madward

We're celebrating today. Celebrating how it feels to discover that when you keep going through, the tunnel of darkness really does lead to light.

Thanks to all the living things out there that have been with us every step of the way; that have given so so much. We feel you. Big time. We couldn't have done it without you.

love & gratitude,

Monday, October 3, 2011

Let the Final Month Begin

the crazy ones

Last night Rachael and I bought our train tickets home. We'll be leaving from Sacramento on November 4th and arriving to DC on November 7th. It was actually pretty emotional pressing that purchase button. Putting an end date on this adventure is weird because, up until now, our notion of when we would get home has always been some obscure time before Thanksgiving. Now it's real.

We have been on the road for a little over 6 months! It's the longest either of us has been away from the DC-Baltimore Metro area (outside of my first 6 years of life in Wisconsin). For those of you who don't know, we have been in Portland, OR since September 10th after we started to feel burnt out on traveling while we were in Missoula, MT (which is an awesome city). We then made the decision to rent a car and drive to Portland where we could hang out for a while. Since then, we have been living in a garage apartment, seeing friends and enjoying the city. We're getting ready to leave on Saturday, October 8th, heading down the Oregon and California coast to the Bay Area.

my life is a garage... there's a story somewhere here. excited for @binduwiles 's photo/essay class to help unearth!

We have had so much time to reflect, center ourselves and really start to figure out what we are going to do with the rest of our lives, though our ideas are merely vague concepts. As we leave Portland on Saturday, Sunday will mark our 1-year wedding anniversary, which is insane. The reality is that I am so happy we did this trip in our first year of marriage. We continue to say to people that this has been more of a "relationship workout" than a "physical workout". Through all the ups and downs (and I don't mean hills) we have made it through, in both months of fun and months of fighting and frustration (and yes we had plenty of both). Love indeed is the thing that has gotten and continues to get us through.

As we prepare to get back on our bikes again and enjoy the last month of our trip with a special visit from Rachael's parents, I can only say that these 6 months have been life changing and I am so grateful to be able to do this.

If there is some adventurous idea bouncing around in your head, make it more than an idea. Make it a reality. And expect the best and worst experiences of your life. The world is waiting for you!