Judgement

I’ve been thinking about judgement a lot lately. Consumed by thoughts of it is more like it.

I thought I was on top of my judgement but realized it goes much, much deeper than I even consciously realized once I started to be mindful about it.

More specifically, the moment I realized this was when I went to see an energy healer in Sedona. She asked me if I was ready for someone to come into my life (relationship-wise) since apparently someone was coming (WHERE ARE YOU MYSTERY PERSON??) and I told her I was focusing solely on myself at the moment, trying to become my better self. She pointed out to me that exactly who I was, in that moment, was already my best self. It was then that I realized that even though I was trying to not judge, I automatically did so – especially with myself – constantly.

Who was this supposed “better self” I was trying to become? What ideal or measuring stick was I comparing myself to? By definition, judgement is just that (“To draw conclusions from evidence and evaluate events and people”) but other than for safety purposes, what does judging people or things or places do for us, really? Like with most survival mechanisms, it seems judgement has taken such a forefront in most people’s reasoning that it’s so firmly lodged in our brains that it’s become second nature to judge EVERYTHING and EVERYONE yet it doesn’t truly offer us anything except for helping to enforce our egos with the few exceptions of actual caution (ie, “is this shaky bridge safe to walk on?”, “should I get into this stranger’s car and take him up on offer of a ride into town”, etc).

Might sound hokey but the more I meditate on this and think about it, it really feels judgement is just the enforcer of our egos.

Even in long distance hikes, one of the main questions you’ll get from people is where you started and – towards the end of the day – how many miles you hiked that day. And the ONLY reason people ask this is, if we’re being brutally open and honest, is to compare their mileage to yours. But why? Again, it’s so they can see how they stack up against you and if they did more miles than you, then they feel proud of themselves or something similar to that effect. But why should that matter? I always thought it odd that conversations would usually revolve around comparing each others hikes when you should be hiking your own hike.

I’m personally much more interested as to WHY people hike long distance trails and any epiphanies or tribulations they might have come across along the way or any funny poop stories. Every person’s body is different. Whether someone hikes 10 miles or 30 shouldn’t matter. It just shouldn’t. Not to say it’s not inspiring when someone is kicking ass (looking at you Heather “Anish” Anderson , Scott Williamson and all the other record breakers) but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not keeping up and should just embrace our own pace and intention for each hike.

Even in social media and media, where it’s flagrant, I’ve tried to stop judging. For instance, I used to think I HATED the Kardashians but then I saw an interview with Kim Kardashian and thought she came off as quite intelligent and loyal to her friends (the host tried to get some gossip from her but she didn’t spill). I found that to be quite eye opening since I like to think that I think for myself but I wasn’t. I had unconsciously bought into this Kardashian hate club bandwagon despite not knowing who the fuck these people were in real life. Celebrities get the brunt of this. We think we know what they’re like because they’re in the public eye when, in reality, we have no clue.

It’s crazy to think a life of this judgemental programming is built into me. Not sure how to dismantle it but I guess being mindful about it is the first step.

Even such basic human morals come from a place of judgement. What is bad? What is good? We’ve all decided as a society that anything that hurts more than it helps is bad and vice versa. I get the survival logic of that but it opens up the door for human arbitrary decisions in life and in institutions – like in criminal and civil court systems – and allows us to be unnecessarily governed instead of just being able to be human beings living on Earth.
One judge might decide one guy deserves to be locked up while another judge might decide another guy, somewhere else, doesn’t yet they committed exact same crime with very similar consequences.
We might see one guy who’s dirty on the streets and think badly of them yet think kind thoughts about the good looking guy in a suit (who could be a pedophile for all we know! And the dirty man could’ve served his country bravely for many years).

Racism, nepotism, political divide and bigotry of any kind is based in ego. It tells us our views, our race or whatever else is better than another’s. Without judgement doing its thing in between though, our ego wouldn’t be able to know that. Can you imagine? Being able to hold space for others with opposing perspectives without it triggering that sense of danger that we intuitively feel when someone threatens us with an opposing belief? I think it can be done by taking out that judgement process in between. I really believe that… although, even now in rereading this, I think “that’s quite naive, Saina” which is absolutely judge-y.

We don’t know the truth if we don’t keep an honestly open mind. It will be shaded with our own judgement of the reality. Truth doesn’t care about your judgements though… Yet people are so quick to judge “He doesn’t LOOK /SEEM like a rapist!” (looking at you, ex boyfriend. You know who you are. I’ve had people say this to me about him) yet if someone looks a bit “funny” (and I’m oh so guilty of this in the past) “He LOOKS like a ___________ (insert a negative word like “pedophile” or “creep”).

Rant temporarily over. This is more reflective and I don’t mean it as a sermon because it’s not. This is something that I just find to trigger my anxiety (judging myself harshly or comparing myself to others in certain situations instead of allowing whatever is coming up in my head to be processed in its own time) and I needed to put down my rambling thoughts on paper to make sense of them.

In the end, who’s to say judgement is bad or good. It’s obviously in place to help us survive but maybe it just doesn’t need to be used as often as we use it.

On a super fun note: here are some pics from my Sedona, Page & Grand Canyon trip. Well, mostly the GC. Felt good to backpack again (Even if just for a day! lol).

Forgiveness vs Acceptance

Hi guys! It’s been a LONG time since I blogged.

I’m in Arizona currently since getting back from Finland (handling dad’s business as he passed away). Been doing some day hikes but mostly helping near the Arizona Trail around mile 200 at High Jinks Ranch for now. Decided I’m going to be using my blog to spout off my inner turmoils and thoughts. Might mix in my interspersed adventures in between but this is what I need for myself and for my PTSD/Major Depressive recovery.

March 25, 2018

I have so much to write. My mind is everywhere. Hard to know where to start or what’s relevant. Even just having written that, I wonder “Relevant to what?”. I tend to always think of others or have some subconscious ideal or measuring stick. So I’m just going to attempt to vomit out my conceptual ideas, some of which haven’t even fully formed and are simply vague feelings at this moment, and edit later.

Last night, I did my first audio Ho’oponopono session (Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness… Similar forgiveness practices are performed on islands throughout the South Pacific, including Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand) and I realized I’m 100% resistant to forgiving.

I imagined my mother’s face in the section of audio where you have to ask them “Do you support me today in my experience and connection with God and Others?”. If they answer “yes”, you give them a hug and let them go. If not, they have to stand at this 3’x3’ podium you imagine for yourself in an auditorium. Then you say “I love you. I forgive you. Please forgive me” and imagine the forgiveness flowing from you to them

And I just started sobbing. Tears were just streaming. I could feel my inner child feeling horrible for making my mom sad and wanting forgiveness but my older, more protective, layer shut that down. After all, I didn’t shun my mom. She shunned me. That was HER decision, not mine. And imagining my father’s face (he recently passed away from alcoholism) was just as hard.

Maybe I’m just being defensive. I know I’m not a victim. That’s not my identity. However things DID happen TO me. To try to say, as a child, I’m responsible for my parents’ decision is absurd.

I find that so many people find “forgiveness” to be synonymous to “Acceptance” but it’s not. Forgiveness is act of pardoning an offender . Acceptance in psychology is used to describe a person’s assent to the reality of a situation. Yet there are so many help books and memes being thrown around – even this Hawaiian practice – of insisting we forgive and won’t be able to move forward without doing so. Not only the ones who’ve done us wrong but ourselves. I only, as of right now, agree with the latter part of that sentence. Other books claim forgiveness is just letting go of resentment. To me, that’s acceptance – NOT forgiveness.

To go into more detail of that and my disagreement with that concept: Having been repeatedly molested by 2 different people by the age of 9 (one by 13-14 yr old babysitter’s daughter and another a teacher at the Scientology “school” I was placed in after moving to the US), I refuse to say that I forgive them. I don’t. And I don’t know how granting them pardon will help me. Accepting the reality that it happened and that it’s now 20+ years later and I have a life to look forward to is something I can get behind. CHILD ABUSE ISN’T FORGIVEABLE. It just isn’t. It usually carries a life sentence for those wronged by people who knew better, psychologically speaking.
Also, am I supposed to just forgive my rapist? A man who takes absolutely NO accountability for what happened….? I called him a year after the incident went down and he had no recollection of it (Surprise, surprise) and brushed it off. I get it he was super drunk but does that erase the truth of what happened? NO! I have the flashbacks and vivid memories of exactly what happened to prove it. And I refuse to just let him off the hook. Who knows who else he’s done this to or will do it to.

Now, I may change my mind about all this the more I meditate on this and practice it in my mind. And, contrary to some people’s thoughts on human behavior, people CAN change. We can change our minds about things as we learn more and evolve.

But those are my thoughts for the day. Recovery is work. Finding that I have deep resistance on this subject matter is enlightening in its own right. Maybe (just maybe) there IS something to all this? Or maybe there isn’t and it’s just something people want to believe to make themselves feel better.

My inner skeptic and naive self are at odds on this, as you could probably guess just from this long-winded rant.

I’ve gotten some self-help books on all this so I can do more research. Will update more as I let it all percolate in my brain.

Toodles for now. Would love to hear stories from others about this – your experiences and thoughts, especially when it comes to acceptance vs/and/or forgiveness.

Wintery Life Lessons from Lapland

Whilst driving through Lapland, the thick snow heavily weighing the trees down calmed my raging thoughts and I realized why:

*and of course with all the inspiring analogies between the weather and emotions out there in cyber space, it’s not hard to come to this sort of comparison. Lol

Mental illness/depression/grief – It’s like winter, when the colorful beauty and sunshine fades and air is cold and even bitingly wet and – unless you have enough layers – you’re going to be miserable and, in the worst conditions, can even get frostbite. But it’s necessary for the natural cycle to power down so you can come back again and again. And if you don’t allow it and deny it or even scream at it, you won’t get anywhere. And if you try so hard to make it warm everywhere, you won’t rejuvenate and will actually cause more damage in the environment in the long term.

And there is a beauty and stillness to winter which only the dark seems to embrace. Even the sun only comes up briefly, seemingly unable to take much of it before running away again.

And you have to have people around you who put on layers with you and commiserate. To have anything less is the equivalent of having people who strip you down or refuse to lend you a scarf or jacket despite having them laying around, unused. And people who don’t have enough warm clothing to share should be open and honest about it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of but to make someone constantly ask for and then have them explain themselves as to why they need a jacket when you can’t even offer one is a waste of precious energy needed to keep oneself warm.

With that in mind, I’m no longer going to chase people who can’t be there for me. I have no trouble making friends so that isn’t an issue. I’m honestly not sure why I’ve spent so long clinging to people just because of past history. People evolve and just like people can unfriend me and have a right to for any reason (even if I sometimes disagree with them doing so), I have the same rights. I’m henceforth letting go of things that no longer serve me and it feels freeing as fuck!

So, thank you Wintery Finland. I learned such an amazing harshly real lesson from you.

And thank you to the ones who’ve been there for me during probably the worst 6 months emotionally. You know who you are. Yeah, you. I love you. I know I haven’t been the easiest person to be around and it makes me even more appreciate of the ones that have stuck around and haven’t made me feel badly about it or made me defend myself in an effort to get me to apologize for it. Because I’m done apologizing for how I feel and why. My grief is my own and I won’t bend it to suit anybody’s expectations of what it should look like or how I should act. This isn’t a normal time for me so leave those normal expectations of me at home if we’re gonna kick it. Friends that are only friends when it’s convenient for them are not the type of friends I need or want anymore. Fair weather friends are too easy to find. Just as people have the right to pick and choose you, you can do the same. For some reason, I didn’t feel allowed to do that until now. This epiphany might sound stupid and/or obvious to some but, for me, this is huge.

And for those I’m letting go, you’re not a bad person. Neither am I. But this is where I leave you. I truly wish you well.

Camino Gear

Been going back and forth on how to describe my experience. On one hand, I thought about describing every area I walked through, with pictures and witty anecdotes from handwritten journal but then I remembered that I didn’t like to read those myself when planning for the walk since I wanted a truly organic experience without some other persons’ bias and stories in my head.

I decided I’d write it, at least to begin with, in a way I wish others would have written it. With plain facts about gear: what I brought and wish I hadn’t (and ended up sending off) and what I wish I had brought and hadn’t. 

If you read this in preparation for doing your own Camino and are wondering about anything I might have missed or are just curious about something else, don’t hesitate to comment and ask!

I started just before the main heat wave begun smack middle of summer (begun May 11 and completed June 22) and had heard the Pyrenees could be cold so brought my insulated Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket, North Face gloves and Thinsulate hat which I only wore once, climbing the Pyrenees with cold ass gusty winds and never wore any of those again for rest of trip. 

I brought 3 pairs Injinji toe socks (love, love, love Injinji!) which was a bit overkill. Sent one pair off, along with my Ursack bear bag (SO unnecessary, even if camping), compass, my extra bandanna and sun hat (even when sunny, my headband was sufficient and I hate hats so never wore it although I saw plenty of people wearing theirs). I’d also been hoping to cowboy camp along the way, which I didn’t do (the only times I saw chances to do it, rain was in the forecast so, for obvious reasons, decided against it) so sent my tent footprint – which I use under my sleeping pad – off as well.

I did NOT bring my tent for which I was happy about since I probably would’ve used it only once, if that. I was advised by some lovely ladies who’d done their pilgrimage before me so thought I should note that.

I did bring:

1 Nike Dri-Fit pants (best pants ever!)

1 Columbia sport tights (for when I do laundry or when I feel like switching things up)

1 tank top

1 shirt for laundry time

2 pairs of Ex Officio undies which are much much better than regular cotton underwear.

1 pair of Bedrock Sandals for when my foot would swell and would be too painful to walk in my trail runners. Also great for the showers and walking around town. Lightweight and stylish.

1 pair of Brooks Cascadias trail runners (my walking/hiking shoe of choice since it usually accommodates my foot swelling).

1 Buff and another UV headband (didn’t need two in the end since only wore one entire time)

2 pairs of Injinji socks (I switch socks on super hot days to prevent blisters)

1 small Therm a Rest Zlite sleeping pad (not many people need a pad but I elevate my feet every 8km or so and use it constantly)

1 Sleeping Bag (10 degree Zpacks bag so super lightweight)

1 lightweight camping pillow (Sea to Summit Aeros) which honestly probably wasn’t necessary but my neck hated the pillows offered in albergues so I’m glad I brought mine.

1 super lightweight (Deuce of Spades brand) trowel which I didn’t use once but felt good to have, should I have an uncontrollable urge to poop somewhere outdoors.

1 bandanna dangling from pack for pee reasons (or as some lady and on the PCT 2 years ago called it: “vajanky”: like “vagina” and “hanky” Lol).

My trusty Black Diamond trekking poles (brought 2 extra tips for which I was grateful for since I ended up needing them both)

My Osprey Ariel 65L (total overkill on the size by the way but I love my pack too much to trade her for a smaller one I have. I probably could have made a 38L fit).

Osprey pack rain cover

Outdoor Research Helium rain jacket

Electronics: 1 Anker 20,000mAh external battery along with converter and charger for phone and battery. Side note: The 20,00mAh was probably too much. A 10,000mAh would’ve been sufficient. If you’re like me and absolutely have to have phone battery life, it’s worth its weight. Some albergues have very very few outlets to charge on and having an external battery makes life so much easier in the long run in those instances.

I also brought my tele, wide and fisheye lens from Moment for my phone (see my Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/skahlua912 . DEFINITELY worth their weight, in my opinion).

Medical supplies: bottle of ibuprofen, sewing needle and thread (for both blisters and any clothes or gear that might need a stitch), antiseptic towelettes, bandaids and Compheed anti blister pads and some moleskin). Also Electro Mix electrolytes (swear by them…. better than Nuun and other more expensive electrolytes, for me personally anyway). 

Hygienic supplies: to go travel sized toothbrush and paste, Sea to Summit multipurpose soap used as shampoo, body wash AND laundry detergent, rosemary and lavender tonic for cramping, relaxation when able to take baths and to repel bed bugs, coconut oil for hair, face and body lotion, contact lens shit and comb.

Wish I’d brought and ended up buying:

My anti-diarrhea pills/activated charcoal

Smaller, lightweight backpack to use while in towns

Poncho 

More of my favorite protein bars (I could only find muesli or granola bars at the stores in Spain)

Ultimately though, the Camino has services for sending your backpack on to next albergue you plan on staying at so you can bring as much as you want if you’d rather have a more luxurious experience. Or, opposite of that,  if you’d rather have a more minimalistic journey, you could go without more than 1/2 of what I brought and still be fine.

The Camino has stores, albergues, cafes and water stops along with towns throughout the day. Not one day will there be nothing. I prepared a bit more for the backcountry which the Camino is most definitely NOT! Lol

Will write more later about the beautiful people I met along the way and epiphanies I had along the way.

Here are some pics:
The last day, when you first get a peak of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral 👇🏻
The first day, when carrying a bunch of unnecessary stuff and pack is heavy 👇🏻
My sweaty selfie 👇🏻
Blister resolution 😳👇🏻

Blogging the Camino

I’ve found it to be quite a chore to go back and rehash emotions, thoughts and events each day on the Camino so I’ve been keeping a written journal and have decided to write more on here once actually done.

I’m more than halfway now and should be finishing within 2 weeks. Having gotten sick for almost a week and conking out the last couple of days have set me back but I’m in no real hurry.

I have so many things to say and look forward to updating the blog once done with more specifics and tips, etc.

Rest assured, you will get some exciting posts later! 
Xoxo,

Saina 

Paris Day 4

Not much to tell. Paris has been lovely but also overwhelming. Ready to start my pilgrimage. Actually thinking about doing a silent one (not speaking entire time) just to try it since I know it’s sort of a meditative experience and will help me to quiet down and really take in everything and listen to people but, realistically, doubt that’s going to happen. Anyone who knows me knows I talk – sometimes too much for other people’s comfort. 😂

I definitely need to come back when I’m not so emotionally raw so I can revel in the energy here. If Paris was a blind date, they’d be a hot guy that probably thinks I am an emotional wreck and not cool enough to even hang out with. Hahaha. I’ll be back for a second, better, impression. 

I head out mañana (working on my Spanish skills since headed into Spain 😄) on the train. Excited to get to the point of this trip which is walking and walking and to heal.

I’ve been having flashback nightmares. Anyone that’s dealt with PTSD knows what I’m talking about and it’s not pleasant. Memories from past abuse come up and even new, sometimes even worse than what I remembered, ones rear their ugly head. So haven’t slept well until today, when I took quite a long nap.

Super grateful for my uncle and his family for taking me in. Not having grown up around family since age 8ish, there’s always a period of awkwardness (for me) but they’ve been so lovely and welcoming that it’s truly been heart melting and I love them for it.

Tourist spots here are cool but seeing people making duck faces, putting up peace signs and taking selfies in front of them just isn’t the type of space I’m in and kind of irritating to me at the moment but if they’re having fun, go for it. I’m just not going to join in. Maybe next time.

Day 2 in Paris

Yesterday was a tired blur. I slept so much, my uncle had to wake me up at 11 this morning. Granted, I woke up quite a few times but still. I DEFINITELY needed sleep and probably could have slept all day since I’m still feeling exhausted from the 2 days of no sleep.

For me, I’m finding beauty in the quiet moments and simple things. Like breakfast – I’d forgotten how delicious the simple bread/cheese/cucumber and/or tomato sandwiches are. No matter how many times I’d make them in LA, they didn’t taste the same. Maybe it’s the bread or the cheese. In Europe, I think both are just better quality. And the coffee! Oh my, just that alone is much  better than most coffees I get in LA.


👆🏻my delicious and simple breakfast. YUM!

I was skeptical of the whole Paris hype, to be completely honest. You hear people raving about the city and it just feels like everyone is jumping on some sort of “Paris is cool” bandwagon. But just walking through the streets with my uncle, his wife and my adorable little cousin today, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the energy of this beautiful city. 

There is something powerfully raw in its history and in its architecture and it enchants with its hustle and bustle with quiet corners and streets full of book kiosks and artists. Many of the stores and restaurants look like some sort of film set and, many times, it just feels surreal. 


👆🏻Absolutely loving the buildings👆🏻

There’s too much to see here, I’ve already accepted that I’m not going to even see 1/30th of what this city has to offer. I do want to see the catacombs (bit worried about my claustrophobia but think I can power through it for the experience) and Jim Morrison’s grave (my dead man crush for life). Saw the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and some other landmarks from the outside but, if I have any time, definitely want to explore them longer.

👇🏻some sights from today and museum👇🏻


I’m here in Paris at a pivotal moment in history. The voting is wrapping up and we will find out in 4 hours who’s won. There’s an anticipatory electric energy you can feel amongst the people. Having just been in the US for their election, It feels very similar although you see Le Pen posters scrawled on with words like “Paris will never accept you” and others with her face ripped off. 

In other non city related news: I’m a bit worried about my foot. It had swollen up yesterday from the flight and, having walked around a bit today in my shoes that were quite tight with my fat feet, the bunyon on the right foot is now aching quite badly. Hopefully the swelling subsides (elevating feet as I write this) and it won’t be an issue on the Camino. Fingers and toesies crossed! 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼